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White House Denies Trying to Block Yates' Testimony; Dems to Filibuster Gorsuch Nomination; Hillary Clinton: 'Too Many Women' Face Sexism. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 06:00   ET



REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is what a cover up looks like. Our committee has lost its independence, credibility, and the progress we made.

[05:58:45] MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to stay as chairman and run this investigation?


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: This may make a good spy novel. It doesn't make a good investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've got Russia, you've got wiretapping.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't have that. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: A respected journalist was patronized trying to ask a question.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We're going to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It's going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 29, 6 a.m. here in New York.

Up first, the House Intel Committee's Russia investigation grinding to a halt over political infighting, its embattled chairman digging in and refusing those calls to stop down.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A really troubling allegation has come up. Did Nunes coordinate with the White House to block the former deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, from testifying?

Now, there's a much different story going on in the Senate Intel Committee are going to begin their first open hearing on Russia tomorrow. The president also raising eyebrows, saying it's going to be easy to get a deal on health care and that we're doing really well in Iraq, forgetting that the U.S. just killed over 100 civilians.

What will day 69 of the Trump presidency hold? Let's begin our coverage with Sara Murray, live at the White House -- Sara.


Well, bipartisanship has certainly taken a beating in the House this week as they stumble with how to move forward into a Russian investigation. One thing is clear: the White House is in a defensive crouch.


RAJU: Are you going to stay as chairman and run the investigation?

NUNES: Well, why would I not?

MURRAY (voice-over): House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes defiant amid calls for him to step aside from the panel's Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to recuse yourself from this investigation?

NUNES: Excuse me.


MURRAY: The House Russia probe effectively put on hold as Democrats accuse the chairman of stalling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation certainly has ground to a halt, but here's the odd thing. All meetings have been cancelled. We're apparently not going to do anything until this closed-door meeting with Comey and Rogers occurs.

MURRAY: Nunes now saying the investigation will move forward. But only after a private briefing with the FBI director and head of the NSA, which has not been scheduled. The chairman under scrutiny for canceling this week's open hearing, which was supposed to feature testimony from former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who was fired by President Trump.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's evidence of a coverup. There is no rational explanation for the cancellation of that meeting. MURRAY: The White House fighting back against allegations that it

sought to prevent Yates from testifying.

SPICER: I hope she testifies. I look forward to it. If they choose to move forward, great. We have no problem with her testifying.

MURRAY: That's after "The Washington Post" published letters showing the Justice Department said Yates' testimony could violate presidential privilege, all on the same day that Nunes canceled the hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Devin Nunes recuse himself from the Russia investigation and, two, do you know the source of his information?


MURRAY: Republican leadership standing by the House investigation despite growing criticism. With Congressman Walter Jones becoming the first Republican to suggest that Nunes step aside.

SPICER: If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.

MURRAY: Press secretary Sean Spicer on the defensive, offering a colorful comeback to repeated questions about the Trump campaign's Russia ties.

SPICER: It seems like you are hell bent on trying to ensure that whatever image you want to tell about the White House stays -- I'm sorry. Please stop shaking your head again.

MURRAY: All as the president continues to deflect, repeatedly tweeting about Hillary Clinton and trying to shift the focus back to his legislation priorities after a bruising defeat on repealing Obamacare.

TRUMP: I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one.


MURRAY: Now, we are expecting a press conference this afternoon from the Senate Intelligence Committee. They, of course, have made clear they want to speak with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior advisor. They're saying they would like to talk to him privately, but under oath, so he may get a better idea this afternoon of what the time line might be for that testimony.

Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: OK. Thanks so much, Sara, for all of that.

Let's discuss it with our panel. We have CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston; CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis; and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich. Great to have all of you to help us figure out what is going on.

So the -- the interviews that were supposed to be happening this week with House Intel Committee were canceled in light of all the Devin Nunes debacle. So -- and it's unclear about Sally Yates. If she was being blocked from giving her testimony by the White House or if they just sort of went silent and let her kind of hang out there, not knowing whether or not they were giving her approval or if she even needed their approval. Where are we with this, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, after what Sean Spicer said yesterday, where he said, "Of course we want her to testify. We hopes she testifies." Door is now open. She's going to testify. Whether it's going to be before the House or before the Senate, it remains to be seen. But with the House in such disarray right now, it looks like the Senate is going to have to step up and very well might and very well probably will. They will have a news conference later on today, a bipartisan news conference to talk about the next steps in their investigation.

CUOMO: Here's what Spicer said about it.


SPICER: I hope she testifies. I look forward to it. Lit was never -- let's be honest. The hearing was never -- was actually never notified. If they choose to move forward, great. We have no problem with her testifying, plan and simple.


CUOMO: They have some timing issues here. This was a little bit of a convoluted process that we don't really need to get into. Yates' attorney had gone to the White House is a question about whether or not privileged communication. And then the attorney informed the White House that some of the testimony would contradict other things that had come out.

And there was an agreement that silence would equal acceptance. If you say nothing, then we can testify. They heard nothing. They thought they'd go ahead. And then Nunes canceled the testimony. Interesting timing at the least.

[06:05:05] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. We don't know that he -- that the White House called him and said, you know, cut her off. We don't know that. But you're right. The timing is very strange.

And when you add it to these other events that are happening with Nunes going to the White House, all of that that we've been talking about for the last couple days, it really does raise questions.

And frankly, whenever Sean Spicer goes to the podium and says the story isn't true, I'm inclined to believe that story.

CAMEROTA: Errol, forget about the procedure here that we're talking about. Why is Sally Yates' testimony so vital? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You have to go back in this

confusing tie line. But you know, look, when the president put out the baseless accusation that he'd been wiretapped by the prior administration, clearly, that's a Justice Department question. Either they did it or they knew about it. Or they would have to investigate it.

And so the question then becomes, well, what was known at the time during the last administration? Sally Yates was high-ranking at the time. She presumably could shed some light on that.

CAMEROTA: Now, James Comey already said that he went to the Department of Justice and asked him if they knew anything about this wiretapping claim, and they said no.

LOUIS: Yes, well, we need a lot more. I mean, Comey is in the middle of an active investigation. Sally Yates is actually in an interesting and more privileged position to speak openly about what she knew at the time.

And again, we want to freeze that moment in time. The thing to keep in mind, of course, is that all of this is a result, not just of the baseless accusation by the president but by his now almost frantic efforts to get somebody to sort of vouch for some of the possible plausible explanation for what he said.

And that's what Devin Nunes has been trying to do. He's the man in the middle. It didn't work when Spicer tried it from the podium. It didn't work when they tried to get Comey to say different things. The Intelligence Committees of the Senate said, "We want nothing to do with this. We're going to conduct a real investigation. And he found a weak point. That weak point is Devin Nunes."

CUOMO: Well, I mean, look, you have to believe that, if Trump had the goods on the Obama administration about this, we would have known a long time ago. This is an obvious effort that's going on. It's not going well for him. We'll see where it winds up.

Now, another fold in the Russian investigation is Kushner. He deserves more kudos than he even got yesterday. First it was who's going to come forward and talk to them. Good for him. Now he says he's going to testify. It's very different. You raise your hand. There are penalties for perjury, based on what you say, if it is untrue. He says he's going to testify.

We heard from Quigley about this. This is on the Senate side, obviously. Here is what he had to say.

I'll tell you later. The point is that they have some serious questions they want to ask him, Jackie. Him coming forward, saying I'll raise the hand and talk to him, that's a confidence giver.

KUCINICH: It is, definitely. And they needed that. They needed someone to -- the fact that he was going to just, you know, talk to them rather than testify which does matter. It does. It lends credibility to what he's going to say. It doesn't erase the fact that we're just finding out about his meetings with the Russian development bank that is under sanctions.

CUOMO: Well, his big problem is how does he explain meeting with a guy that he had to know was going to be a little bit of a shady character to meet with? The head of this bank has -- just Google it. You'll see a whole storied history of him. Not of the good kind. That's a tough question.

KUCINICH: That, and that's where I think that he's going to get the most questions, particularly from Democrats on. Because while he said he wasn't meeting with him as his capacity on the transition, it's one and the same. You just don't take that hat off and put another hat on once you're a part of the administration. That's not a thing.

CAMEROTA: OK, Mark, Devin Nunes.

There were yesterday calls even from the Republican side that he has somehow tainted the integrity of this committee into looking into these ties. But he is standing firm. Whose decision is it whether or not he's going to step down from this investigation?

PRESTON: You know, we all say that it's going to be House Speaker Paul Ryan who decides, look, you need to move aside or you should stay. He has been in support of Nunes at this point. I think it's going to be Devin Nunes's decision, quite frankly. Because I think at some point he's going to say "I don't want to walk through the halls of Congress on the streets of Washington and be followed by reporters."

We saw yesterday Manu Raju, who's this dogged reporter and just, like, gets the microphone in your face and has been doing it, you know, pretty successfully over the past couple weeks. Nunes got upset at him today and said, like, you know, "You going to ask me 20 more questions? You keep asking the questions." Well, keep asking the questions, but you don't want to answer. You don't have any answers for us. I think at some point, Nunes says, "I'm all in" or he just backs out himself.

CUOMO: What do you think about what we're going to see on the Senate side? They've been done a favor by the House. Right? Nunes makes them look like they are kind of the archetype of how to do this the right way. What are we expecting when they have their first open hearing?

LOUIS: They can't do worse, so they'll certainly do better. I think what we'll see is sort of studious attention paid to the formalities of it, of making sure that they are not passing information willy- nilly, that they're not telling lies to the public about where they were and what they did and what they said. And "I was on the White House grounds," you know, as if he just wandered in there.

[06:10:08] And so I think what we'll find is a much higher caliber of conversation. For one thing, I think also that we're going to -- we're going to go deeper into some of what you touched on with Jared Kushner, which is the business ties. Because there's the meddling question, and that's serious. And the wiretapping claim that the president made up will have to sort of play along with him until people decide that it really was all made up.

But these other questions about dealing with these banks, dealing with these oligarchs, this murderous regime that has, you know, literally seized all kinds of public and private assets, given it to a handful of private people, used murder and intimidation to sort of keep that system in place.

And we have people who were freely doing business with them even during the transition. And we still don't know. Again, because we never saw the president's taxes, what kind of financial ties the Trump Organization has, who they're beholden to in that dark and shadowy world.

I expect the Senate to get into that. And that's going to be something that's going to sort of make the -- the meddling in the election look like child's play compared to some of these larger questions.

CAMEROTA: Well, and that leads us to what the new Republican talking point is, and we heard it from President Trump, and we've heard it from others. So did Clinton. The Clinton Foundation...

CUOMO: Hardly new.

CAMEROTA: ... had ties -- had ties to all of these -- this Russian dark shady money, as well. Why aren't you talking about that? That's what we heard a lot yesterday. Where does that lead us?

PRESTON: Well, we could be talking about Abraham Lincoln's problems, too. Right? I mean, at this point.

CUOMO: Heard a lot about it on FOX News, too. You know, everybody else has already plumbed the depths of this stuff.

PRESTON: Right. I mean, it's -- it's comparing apples and oranges. Right? You know, if there's problems with the apples, OK. You know, deal with it, and we've dealt with it. Perhaps they'll continue to deal with it.

But we're dealing with a situation now where you have a sitting president right now with a lot of his associates having questionable meetings with someone who clearly is not our ally and a lot of people would say is our enemy.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but when they say where is the appetite of the Russian connections with Clinton. Is it fair to say there were investigations into the Clinton Foundation, as well?

KUCINICH: It was there. This is old news in a lot of ways.

CUOMO: Contributions to the foundation, the canard about uranium one. Them trying to pin Clinton for secretly approving a deal that had a 14-agency panel involved.

Now he's using Podesta. You know, the president is tweeting directly John Podesta and saying he is the one with the Russian ties. He held stock in a company. His brother did business there. You know, but it's nothing like what we're dealing with.

KUCINICH: But here's the thing. So what's this really about? Donald Trump needs a villain. He needs someone to go after. And this is, like, a rinse repeat. We heard this story in the election. And now we're hearing it now, because it's easy, and it riles up his people.

PRESTON: That's what it is right there. Because you know, most of America doesn't know who John Podesta is. But who knows John Podesta? Is his base. Is the FOX viewer.

CUOMO: True.

PRESTON: And he goes right to them.

CUOMO: But if you talk about it, you get a nice promo from the president for your show.


CUOMO: Which is not to be completely ignored. Boost your ratings.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. Stick around, please.

The partisan battle lines drawn over Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. Democrats dashing Republican hopes for some sort of smooth confirmation, but now the GOP has to be prepared to use the nuclear option if they cannot get those 60 votes.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill with more. How's this going to go, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it really is game on now. We heard Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell throwing down the gauntlet, saying that Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee will go ahead and vote on Gorsuch. And that will set the stage for the full Senate next Friday. Not only is he predicting that the vote will happen, but that he will get confirmed.

So this, of course, is really setting the stage for Democrats and Republicans to take their positions. Now Democrats say that they are committed now to filibustering this nomination. Twenty-seven Democrats are committed to this. Two say, no, they are not. The Republicans need 60 votes to break that filibuster. They have 52 in the Senate, the majority. They need eight Democrats to go along with them.

So they are targeting about a dozen Democrats in some of those red states, Trump friendly states. They believe that they are vulnerable. If that doesn't work, however, they are prepared, they say now, the Republican leadership, to use that nuclear option, to change it from a 60-vote threshold to 51-vote threshold to break the filibuster, because they want to make sure that Gorsuch gets an up or down vote.


SCHUMER: It will be an uphill climb to get the 60 votes. If a judge can't meet, a nominee can't meet the 60-vote standard, you don't change the rules.

MCCONNELL: No Supreme Court justice has ever been stopped with a partisan filibuster. That is obviously what the Democratic leader has announced they will do. We are optimistic that they will not be successful.


MALVEAUX: And the P.R. campaign is in full swing at 12:30 at these steps on the Supreme Court. That is where Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley and some others will go ahead and make their case for Judge Gorsuch.

Suzanne, thank you very much. No one is looking good in that situation. The Democrats set the standard for this. They say that they reserve Supreme Court nominations when they use the nuclear option. The Republicans may now have to use the nuclear option.

[06:15:09] CAMEROTA: This is loggerheads, Exhibit A.

CUOMO: Brinksmanship, brinksmanship. Hillary Clinton out of the woods, literally and figuratively. Back in the spotlight for the first time since her election defeat. She's getting political. What she said next.


CUOMO: Former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton back in the spotlight defending a journalist and a black congresswoman over too many women facing sexism in her most political speech since the election. Take a listen.


CLINTON: April Ryan, a respected journalist with unrivaled integrity, was doing her job just this afternoon in the White House press room when she was patronized and cut off, trying to ask a question.

Maxine Waters was taunted with a racist joke about her hair. Now, too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these indignities in stride. But why should we have to? And any woman who thinks this couldn't be directed at her is living in a dream world.


[06:20:23] CUOMO: All right. Let's bring back our panel: Mark Preston, Errol Louis and Jackie Kucinich. Want to split the pieces of sound that led to this?

CAMEROTA: Yes, listen, all right, so you have the Maxine Waters one first. She was giving a speech on the floor. Bill O'Reilly of FOX was sitting there listening with "FOX & Friends" crew. Here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Fighting for the democracy. We're fighting for America. We're saying to those who say they're patriotic, but they turn a blind eye to the destruction that he's about to cause this country. You're not nearly as patriotic as we are.

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": So what does that mean, Bill? We've been listening all morning.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I didn't hear a word she says. I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James Brown. It's the same...

KILMEADE: The same one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to defend her on that.

O'REILLY: You are all wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to defend her on that. You can't go after a woman's looks. I think she's very attractive.

O'REILLY: I didn't say she wasn't attractive. I love James Brown.


CUOMO: He wound up apologizing, I think, to the "International Business Insider." He said he didn't mean it that way; she's welcome on the show. He likes her.

But the point was made.

KUCINICH: Yes, what do you say to that? That's a horrible thing to say.

CAMEROTA: But -- but let's bring it back to Hillary Clinton. Because Hillary Clinton is back with a vengeance. She's wearing her black leather. She's ready to rumble. And she has...

CUOMO: Is that allowed, by the way?

CAMEROTA: Black leather?


CAMEROTA: She's going punk rock. OK? And so Jackie, what does this mean for her appearance back on the stage? Is this the beginning of something?

KUCINICH: It's hard to say with Hillary Clinton. Because you do hear -- you hear all sorts of rumors about how she's coming back. This very much was in line with the Hillary Clinton that we knew before when she was on the speaking circuit, before she ran for president, talking a lot about women empowerment. And that is her comfort zone. So it does make sense that she is coming out on this particular issue, because it's something that she knows a lot about. And she's frankly good at talking about it.

CAMEROTA: What do you guys think? Does it mean something bigger? Do we know what's happening with Hillary?

PRESTON: We don't know what's happening with her. But I would say this. And, you know, people will get mad at me for saying it. But I think there's something to be said about that Democrats should look for the next generation of leaders right now.

CUOMO: Look, we did the debate for -- with Perez and Ellison and everybody, the DNC chair. Dana and I kept baiting them with questions about whether Hillary is the past or the future. They didn't want to touch it. I don't think that there's any -- new path.


PRESTON: ... politics. I mean, to be critical of her.

CAMEROTA: You are saying that youth...

PRESTON: I'm saying there's a voice for her, and she's certainly a leader and, quite frankly, is probably the leader in many ways and President Obama, who's still very young. The fact of the matter is for the Democratic Party to -- to rebuild and to battle back against Republicans, they have to look to a new leader.

LOUIS: Really, there's a vacuum there. Right? I mean, this is the big news of the day. And anybody else could have found a way to put themselves in front of the camera and say something pithy or something that's right on target and start to try to redefine who's going to lead a -- the Democratic progressive side of politics in America. Nobody has chosen to do that. Tom Perez didn't do it. Nobody else did it. So Hillary Clinton will still be there, and that's always been the case.

Let me just say real briefly about -- about that disgusting comment by Bill O'Reilly. I teach journalism part-time, as you know. Tons and tons of young journalists of color who are out there waiting and trying to get a break. For FOX News to promote that kind of garbage and to sort of leave it out there. It is not just discouraging, but I think it adds a lot of fuel to people who are really, I think, going to change this business over the next few years. Ten years from now, we'll be telling our kids and students then, you know, what it used to be like in the bad old days when people would kind of spew this kind of racist garbage on national television.

CUOMO: It wasn't the only example in times of fuel for the fire. You have Sean Spicer. He is getting a lot of pick up for talking, making the silly comment about Russian dressing leading to more connections between Trump and Russia if the president uses Russian dressing. But he said something else that drew criticism and for good reason. Here it is.


APRIL RYAN, JOURNALIST: You've got Russian. You've got wiretapping. You've got...

SPICER: No, we don't have that.

A. RYAN: ... on Capitol Hill.

SPICER: No, no. I get it. But I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever. There is no connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow, that's a Russian connection. No, at some point, the facts are that every person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion. Republican, Democrat, so I'm sorry that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head. I appreciate it.

At some point, April, you're going to have to take "no" for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion.


[06:25:07] CUOMO: First of all the reason I joke-called him Captain Credibility is because he's got some nerve saying that everyone who's heard these questions come to the same conclusion. What are you talking about?

Jim Comey just admitted they have an open investigation into this. You have Adam Schiff thinking that there's something in this that should be before a grand jury. You have this whole deception play with Nunes. It's just without context for Spicer to say that. But then, Errol, he goes at April to stop shaking her head. What did that mean?

LOUIS: I mean, it was one of the worse people that he could try and target. And I understand that the banter, you know, it can get intense in that briefing room. And so he'll get personal. That's his style. I don't think it particularly works.

She's the last person you should try that with, because she's respected. She's a bit of an institution. She's a straight shooter. You know, in the back and forth, you know, she's shaking her head saying, you know, basically, "I don't believe you." And for all of the reasons that you just suggested. He says things from the podium that are not believable. The reporters are there to challenge him. It gets -- you know, like I said intense. Sean Spicer is going to have to figure out somebody else to beat up on. She's not the one.

KUCINICH: This is the same week that he called a reporter from Politico an idiot. There just needs to be some professionalism, frankly, injected.

CUOMO: You don't see it as a female issue? A race issue. You see it as just decorum between professionals?

KUCINICH: I mean, not really -- it really does seem respect has gone out the window at this point. It is too bad.

PRESTON: It's actually not a race issue, and it's not a gender issue. I mean, I've known him for a million years. That's not the case. What it is, it is a respect issue, quite frankly. And where he lost it with the fork in the road. And he said the French dressing thing. Excuse me, Russian dressing. What he should have said is try to make a joke of it and try to go down that road. But he went down the other road, and it got nasty.

CAMEROTA: Here's the good news. We have April Ryan on our program in the 8 a.m. hour. So she can tell us her impressions of that exchange with Sean Spicer.

Thank you very much, panel.

CUOMO: All right. Up next, very troubling face. More than 100 civilians killed in Mosul by a coalition airstrike. What a top commander is saying about the U.S. role and why he believes ISIS may also have blood on its hands here. We'll give you the facts, and you can decide.