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House To Vote On GOP Health Care Bill Today; Nunes Apologizes For Going To Trump With Monitoring Claims; Is House Intel Committee Investigation Compromised?; Trump To Make Announcement On Keystone Pipeline This Morning; Schumer: Dems Will Filibuster Gorsuch Nomination; Secret Service Employees Face Discipline Over WH Jumper. Aired 7:30-8 a.m. ET
Aired March 24, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- slightly better than 50/50 that they win this afternoon, which probably means Vegas should vote against it.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: Well, we're taking note of all of that. Panel, thank you very much for all of your great insights.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: All right. So, one of the things that's been clouding this process on health care has been what's going on with this wiretapping. Now, we just saw an apology from House Intel Chairman, Devin Nunes, but was that enough after he kind of put the whole committee under a cloud of doubt about whether or not they can be objective in investigating the president. We have a democrat on that committee. Why aren't the democrats calling for Nunes to recuse himself if they think what he did is so bad? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEVIN NUNES, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Judgement call on my part. And that's -- at the end of the day, that's - you know, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one, but you got to stick by what you -- the decisions that make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:34:50] CAMEROTA: That was House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes apologizing for disclosing surveillance information to President Trump and the media before briefing his colleagues. This, as the committee's ranking democrat, Adam Schiff, claims that he's seen new evidence of possible collusion between President Trump's associates and Russia.
Joining us now is democratic Congressman Jim Himes, he's a member of The House Intel Committee. Good morning, Congressman.
REP. JIM HIMES, D-CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So, Chairman Nunes apologized? Is that it? Problem solved? HIMES: Well, no, not problem solved. I mean, it was interesting and odd to hear the apology because, of course, you know, he's pretty close with the president who at the very core of his being celebrates never apologizing. But, you know, it was - I probably went some way to heal some of the personal issues that arose, but look, the bottom line here is that - and the democrats have been saying this from moment one, and we've been joined more lately by republicans and senators. This is really an investigation of a degree of seriousness that requires that it be done by an outside bipartisan commission.
Devin, as much as I appreciate him and consider him a friend, has demonstrated on multiple occasions that we will often serve the interest of Donald Trump. And look, he was on the transition committee. That's legitimate, unless you're trying to run an objective investigation. And so, once again we are showing why this should be done by an outside commission.
CAMEROTA: In the meantime, do you think that Chairman Nunes should step down?
HIMES: Well, you know, at the end of the day that's a decision that no one other than Speaker Ryan could make, but that's certainly an alternative, and, you know, as I pointed out as much as I have a, you know, sort of friendship with Congressman Nunes. It was just a couple of weeks ago that he and Senator Burr, the chairman on the senate side were admitted to working with the president to knock down stories they didn't like in the media. You know, this has been a persistent problem. So -
CAMEROTA: All right. So, why aren't you and other democrats calling for him to step down given that track record?
HIMES: Well, you know, there's two things going - two things that are happening here. First, we're calling as we have for a long time for the right answer, which is an outside commission. Secondly, remember, as long as there isn't an outside commission, we are the only game in town. And I will tell you from the inside that while the chairman's behavior on the outside going to the media, going to the president most recently has been troublesome and has cast doubt on the impartiality of the investigation.
Inside Congressman Nunes has been very constructively with us. He has said to all of our request from the standpoint of what we'd like to see. He allowed that five-hour public hearing last Monday, which let's face it, it was not a particularly good hearing for President Trump. So, inside, he's been working very, very constructively with us. And we worry a little bit about if he is removed, who do we get now and do we get somebody who's going to be less constructive inside than Congressman Nunes right there.
CAMEROTA: OK. Fair enough. That's a fair point, but you now believe that your work on the commission cannot be independent and impartial.
HIMES: Well, no, I'm not - I'm not going to go that far. I'm going to tell you that the behavior of the chairman has cast a real question mark over the commission. But look, the democratic members of this, we've got any number of former prosecutors, a lot of very thoughtful, smart people who've been doing this for a long time. We will not, for one minute, remain part of an investigation that is blocked in any one of its avenues that is used as a whitewash, we will walk out the door in a second if that happens, but so far, the investigation has actually been constructive, and as the American people know, the more we work, the more things are uncovered that suggest a heavy body of circumstantial evidence that this investigation is warranted.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about that. Let's talk about the substance of what you're seeing because the ranking democrat Adam Schiff has said it's actually gone beyond circumstantial. That's the language that he's using. Do you know what he has seen that makes him think that it's more than just we're people in the same room at the same time, were there phone calls that might have been about other things?
HIMES: Yes, I don't know with great specificity, and this is one of the challenges for the investigation. Remember, you have this group called the "Gang of Eight". The leadership of the two committees, House and Senate, and the leadership of the House and Senate themselves. They get briefed on particularly sensitive matters that members -- ordinary members of the committee may not.
So, I think, what is happening here - and this is speculative on my part because I haven't actually seen specific evidence that Adam is referring to -- I think that in his capacity as a member of the - of the Gang of Eight, he has seen probably much more provocative evidence that allows Congressman Schiff, who is a very careful individual to say, "Hey, the case here is more than just a heavily circumstantial case."
CAMEROTA: On Tuesday, in front of your committee, former CIA Director John Brennan is going to appear, as well as DNI Head James Clapper and former Attorney General Sally Yates, do you think you are going to be able to get something definitive out of them as to whether there was some form of collusion?
[07:39:46] HIMES: No, I don't. You know, these public hearings are not the venue in which that kind of thing comes out. You saw Director Comey on Monday, he confirmed an investigation into links and possible coordination with the Trump campaign, and then he would go, no further. Remember, the Director Clapper and John Brennan, are still bound by their obligation to keep classified information classified. So, no, I would not expect too much of that hearing. And by the way, I would note, I think following up on the - what happened last Monday, which was not a good day for the White House -- raised a lot of questions.
There is now talk the republicans have floated the possibility that that may be a closed hearing. Now, we're obviously going to resist that, but you know, I think they're feeling some buyer's remorse for - from what happens when this gets - you know, gets into a room with a lot of cameras.
CAMEROTA: Well, on the flipside, what about what Devin Nunes was implying? Will you be able to get information as to whether or not there was surveillance of some kind of the Trump team? HIMES: Well, we need to be very careful here, and I understand that this is pretty technical, but Devin Nunes has not said that there was any surveillance of the Trump campaign. What he said -- and let me use his words. He said that there was legal incidental collection of people associated with the Trump campaign that had nothing to do with Russia. So, let me just take a second to tell you what that means.
HIMES: You know, every minute of every day we are collecting information on bad guys. It might be many terrorists or Filipino drug dealers, and we try to listen in onto their phone conversations, and every once in a while, two Filipino drug dealers may say, "Hey, how about that President Trump in the United States?"
That is incidental collection on a U.S. person, President Trump. Somebody may be watching us right now and commenting on us. That's incidental collection, and it happens all the time because, of course, the bad guys either talk about or talk to Americans. When that happens, there are all kinds of legal protections about who can see that information.
And so, that's what Devin is talking about here. Absolutely, completely unrelated to the president's wild charge that there was a wiretapping by the Obama administration of Trump Tower.
CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman Himes, rest assured there are lots of people watching us right now and talking about it. Thanks so much for all of the information this morning.
HIMES: Thanks, Alisyn.
CUOMO: And commenting, favorably for you, for me? Not so much. So, we've just learned President Trump is making a big announcement this morning, but it isn't about health care. Interesting. Is there a distraction at play? Next.
[07:45:00] CUOMO: We're following breaking news. Press Secretary Sean Spicer says President Trump is going to make an announcement about the keystone pipeline this morning. The administration is expected to approve construction of the controversial pipeline. It would carry crude oil from Canada to refineries on the gulf coast. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline, saying it cuts across a large aquifer of fresh water.
CAMEROTA: A major battle shaping up in the senate over Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, revealing he will vote against Gorsuch, and he said democrats' plan to filibuster his nomination. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he will do whatever it takes which includes the nuclear option to get Gorsuch through with a simple majority. CUOMO: At least six Secret Service employees are expected to face
discipline following the security breach at the White House. Earlier this month, a 26-year-old jumped multiple fences was on the White House grounds for more than 15 minutes. Jonathan Tran is his name. He was apprehended right under the president's bedroom window. Mr. Trump was in the White House at the time of the incidence. Scary, got to get that straight.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Well, democrats are calling for an independent investigation of the alleged Trump-Russia ties after House Intel Chair, Devin Nunes, briefed the president on surveillance or at least sensitive information. Our experts break down what happens next.
[07:50:00] CAMEROTA: A daring rescue caught on video. A deputy in Florida narrowly saves the lives of two young women. CNN's Boris Sanchez has this heart-pounding story in this edition of "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY".
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Harrowing moments caught on video, captured by a passenger on board a Carnival cruise ship. As a thousand-foot vessel looms over two young women, a sheriff's deputy in Florida springs into action in the nick of time.
SKYLAR PENTASUGLIA, RESCUED JET SKIER: It's insane. It's unbelievable how close we were, honestly.
ALLISON GARRETT, RESCUED JET SKIER: I think it's more scary to watch than to be there because, at the time, we weren't thinking about the fact that it was coming on us so quickly. We were just thinking about how we need to get on this boat.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): West Virginia college students, Skylar Pentasuglia and Allison Garrett, on spring break in Florida, went jet skiing off port Canaveral. But not long after taking off, the pair lost control at the mouth of the harbor and capsized. At the same time, the Carnival Magic began to leave harbor. The friends struggled, unable to get back on.
PENTASUGLIA: I was literally screaming, "What are we going to do?" because I didn't know that the deputy was even remotely close to us.
TANER PRIMMER, BREVARD COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: They were panicked. They were -- you could tell they were winded.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): As they desperately try to swim away from the ship, Deputy Taner Primmer rushed over, still unsure if he could rescue them in time.
PRIMMER: I was worried I couldn't, but once I -- once I got up to them, I knew that I could get them. I just started reverting back of what we trained, what we practiced.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Nearby, Ashley watched in terror.
GARRETT: You just see our jet ski bouncing down the side of the cruise ship, like it hit -- I know that it hit the cruise ship. We watched it.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): As the ship swept by only feet away, Deputy Primmer yanked Skylar and Allison to safety.
PENTASUGLIA: Towards the end, when we were like being pulled up, there was a point that I was like, "We could not even be here right now, like, we are so lucky he was here because if not, we wouldn't be here".
He's my hero. That's exactly what he is.
PRIMMER: A lot of the times, with this job, people are real quick to let you know about the bad. And a lot of times you do -- you do little things and it goes unspoken, and that's just part of the job. You know, it's just part of being a deputy. It's part of being in law enforcement. It's just something we do. So, I said, "I'd do it for anybody." It doesn't matter who you are, you know, where you come from. I said, "It's just part of my job."
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Boris Sanchez, CNN, Miami.
CUOMO: Doing their job, saving lives. So, House Intel Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, is apologizing to democrats on his committee for briefing the president and the media on incidental surveillance before telling them first. In an interview last night, Nunes tried to explain why he did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEVIN NUNES, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: To me, it's clear that I would be concerned if I was the president. And that's why I wanted him to know, and I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him because as you know, he's been taking a lot of heat in the news media. And I think to some degree, there are some things that he should look at to see whether, in fact, he thinks the collection was proper or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUMO: But it's not that simple. Nunes himself made this an even more muddy situation. So, let's discuss with Phil Mudd, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst and former CIA Official, and Mike Rogers, CNN National Security Commentator and former House Intel Chairman.
Mike, you had the same job, you never did anything like this, you've never heard of anybody doing anything like this. We know that. So, it deserves observation. He goes to the president, he said, "It's so important. I had to tell him." He then later says, "I haven't looked at all the documents. I'm not really sure who got caught up or what it was about." How do those two statements go together, Mike? MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR AND FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Well, it was -- it was a bit unusual. Obviously, he heard something that certainly bothered him and he thought he was going to do something about it. In an investigation like this, it's best that both sides aren't running to the microphone candidly. I know Adam Schiff came out and -- the ranking democrat and said he had more information on collusion. All of that needs to stop candidly.
We have some huge issues facing that Intel committee and our national security around the world. And think about the defence minister from Russia, a guy named Shoygu, who came out and said, "We're going to ramp up our propaganda. We're creating a new information warfare unit." The intelligence committee would do well to (INAUDIBLE) the partisan politics and work on that issue. Let the FBI do the criminal piece. They're going to get that piece right, and you may not -- you may like it or you may not like it -- depending on your political bent on what comes out of that -- but they'll do it right. And then have the Intel committee focus on things that they can impact on resources and other things that are going to be needed to -- I think, confront what is a huge and growing problem, and that's the Russians engaging in information warfare in a -- at a level we've never seen before.
[07:55:15] CUOMO: Well, look, Phil has been making that same point, Mike and -- but Phil, you know, to why you say it's so important, is that we're getting distracted from it. And when Nunes runs to the White House with information that could only be helpful to the White House -- and the proof of it is, the reaction afterwards wasn't "Nunes came to us with information that the investigation is about actual collaboration." It was, "I feel vindicated." That's what the president said afterwards. That seems to have been an obvious motivation to do this, and it's a distraction. Should it be called out, Phil Mudd?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST AND FORMER CIA OFFICIAL: It should be. And mark the calendar, Mike Rogers is actually right this morning. It may be the first time and the last time on NEW DAY, I say that.
CUOMO: Mike, that's a rare group you've just gotten into. When Mudd attacks you, it means he loves you.
ROGERS: There's a reason his name is Mudd.
MUDD: Let's be clear, though, let me break this down quickly, and it's not just about Nunes, it's about democrats and republicans. What are democrats talking about collusion? I think the FBI should be investigating collusion and determining whether, with the Department of Justice, there should be charges. What are republicans talking about? They're talking about who was wiretapped, whether the unmasking of names was appropriate and how names were leaked. Fair questions, not the questions an American should have. The American should be asking, not only of what happened with Russian interference, as Mike was talking about, but how we secure the next elections. For example, should the federal government, including the FBI, have a role in going to candidates and saying, "We're going to help you secure your servers."? Instead, what do we hear? A democrat going to the microphone every time he reads intelligence, a republican going to the microphone and neither of them talking about Russian interference in elections. That's what we should be talking about.
CUOMO: So Mike, why isn't it obvious in Washington -- the same way that is obvious to everybody else -- that the politics are too thick? They're not going to objectively or independently investigate this. It should go to a special body. That is the argument that's being made. Do you agree with that? And if not, why not?
ROGERS: Well, we have a special body investigating this. It's called the "FBI", and I think that they're going to do a fantastic job. Remember, all of the insinuations, if you're -- for one team, you want it to be some criminal action between the campaign and Russia. And if you're on the other team, you want it to be about -- only about the leaks. And that's bad enough. And so, I think we just need to remove that from the picture. I do believe we need to let the FBI do and complete its investigation. They can and they will get that piece right. I have no doubt. I have a high degree of confidence that that investigation will come out.
Again, depending on your political bent, you may or may not like what they come out with, but that's what's going to happen. And I think we ought to let that process happen and remove the political piece from the committee. I mean, clearly, they're having a difficult time navigating the intense partisan politics of these issues because the Russians we do know are engaged in information operations. It's not just about the campaign. It's about other information operations that the Russians run as well. That's where the committee could -- I mean, big bang for the buck. They could actually help educate the American people about how aggressive the Russians are being in this new information warfare division that they've established. And by the way, they call it propaganda. I think they say they want it to be clever, smart and efficient. Well, many argue that they've accomplished that.
And by the way, with this sheer partisanship, Chris, they've ramped up their ability. The Russians think this was the most effective information operation ever because even if they didn't get everything they wanted out of it, it still lives on with this sharp partisanship. It spent two or three weeks, basically, saying Putin is the largest guy on the face of the earth. That sends a message to our friends and adversaries overseas. And you can see them reacting to this that "Hey, maybe this Putin is somebody we need to work with that we might not have worked with before." This all has consequences. And we get sometimes so tightened up in our bubble here, we forget that this national security picture -- our enemy and adversaries get a vote, too. And we seem to have lost that in this whole picture.
CUOMO: Phil Mudd, what do you think about that? Rogers is saying politicians can't handle this, leave it to the FBI, but there may be some value and some other questions that Congress can look at. What's the line for you? MUDD: I absolutely agree. Why is the Congress looking at collusion? The bottom line is whether or not the FBI does the investigation and the Department of Justice determines if someone should be indicted or not. That's not for the Congress to decide. And I don't know why they're wasting my money doing that. The bottom line for them is a bigger national security question. Putin won this one. Can you imagine us going to the Europeans? That is, the Americans saying, "We want to lead you in this fight against Putin." I think he's dead on.
CUOMO: Mike Rogers, Phil Mudd, thank you very much. A good weekend to both of you.
We're following a lot of news. There's a live interview with HHS Secretary Tom Price. It's about to happen right here. Let's get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go with our plan. It's going to be terrific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: President Donald Trump issues an ultimatum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People being threatened it's being --