Return to Transcripts main page


Gowdy Defends Intel Chair; House Intel Scraps Meetings; Nunes Refuses to Step Down; Dancing without Limits; Spicer Lashes out at Reporter. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He is not going anywhere.

So let's bring in one of the Republicans on the Intel Committee, and that is South Carolina's Trey Gowdy.

Good morning, congressman.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

Do you agree with your colleague that your committee has been tainted?

GOWDY: No, ma'am. I -- what I want our committee to start doing is working, which is interviewing witnesses and accessing documents and all of this politics I'm sure is interesting to the viewer, but if you want to find out those four traunches (ph), those investigative traunches with respect to Russia, we need to start interviewing witnesses and accessing documents and let the politics kind of go away.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, I mean isn't that the problem right there? I mean, as you've just spelling it out, because of everything that's going on with Chairman Nunes, everything has been stalled this week. In fact, one of your Democrat colleagues, Jim Himes, says that you're in deep freeze mode. Doesn't that tell you that he needs to recuse himself?

GOWDY: Well, I'm smiling because I don't know when Congress not doing something for a week was deep freeze mode. That's -- that's -- that's -- that's not unusual up here that we would have a week where we didn't have a whole lot to show for it. Let's just --

CAMEROTA: But you were scheduled -- hold on one second, congressman, just -- sorry to interrupt you, but . you were scheduled to do interviews and to hold hearings. Sally Yates was supposed to appear. Jim Comey. But that, for whatever reason, Chairman Nunes indefinitely postponed it or canceled it. So what's going on?

GOWDY: Well, I think that for whatever reason is really important. You saw the hearing last Monday where almost 100 times the two witnesses said I cannot answer in this forum. So why you would go back to a forum where the seminal witnesses can't answer the question is befuddling to me. I want to talk to Sally Yates. Sally Yates is an important fact witness. We're going to talk to Sally Yates. The fact that we didn't do it this Tuesday doesn't mean we're not going to do it next Tuesday.

CAMEROTA: But why didn't you do it this Tuesday?

GOWDY: We're -- we're about a week behind. We're about a week behind, but if we start next week, we can catch up.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, but -- but you could have done it in a closed meeting. Why not do it this week?

GOWDY: I think it's important that we talk to Comey and Rogers again first. They really are, Alisyn, the two most important witnesses at least with three of the four traunches. And when you answer a hundred times, I can tell you, but I can't tell you in this forum, then why would you not bring back the two seminal witnesses to say, OK, we're in a different forum. Answer those almost 100 questions and then we'll move to Clapper, and then we'll move to Brennan, and then we'll move to Miss Yates.


GOWDY: That is the natural chronology and that's what I hope we do.

CAMEROTA: You make a great point. Why didn't it happen this week in a closed forum? It was scheduled, and then it was canceled.

GOWDY: Well, you mean -- you mean Rogers and Comey. I think it's really important that we talk to them again. I'm not privy to their calendars. They came last Monday. Perhaps they could not come this week. But it is, in my judgement, indispensable that we talk to the two seminal witnesses again, see what questions they can ask. That's then going to lead to different questions for Miss Yates and Brennan and Clapper.

So there's also a natural chronology in an investigation. I like to go -- I like to go chronologically. I like to start with the seminal witnesses and then they can identify other witnesses. I don't know what Director Comey and Admiral Roger's schedule -- they're two really important, busy guys. The fact that they could not come back-to-back weeks before Congress and spend six hours before us does not surprise me. But I expect them to come and I expect them to come quickly.

CAMEROTA: And so, congressman, if Chairman Nunes shared sensitive information with the very source of the investigation, meaning the president and the White House, doesn't that compromise him?

GOWDY: Well, you're making an assumption that I don't make. I actually (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: What are you thinking? Well, I mean, look, let me tell -- let me be clear. We know he went to the White House and told the president something. And we --

GOWDY: Right. And we have no idea it has anything to do with Russia. In fact, Devin has said it had absolutely nothing to do with Russia. So if the new rule is that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee cannot share information with the commander in chief, we're in a whole new world, Alisyn, if that's the new rule. Devin says it had nothing to do with Russia. I have no reason to doubt him. So if it's got nothing to do with Russia, then, no, the White House is not the target of the investigation.

CAMEROTA: Have you asked Chairman Nunes what he was doing? What he did this?

GOWDY: I have. And he reminded me of what I did in a former life, where I relied on sources. I had a federal witness killed that I relied on and -- and I'm not overdramatizing this, but you do protect your sources. You do it in your line of work. Devin has to do it. There are whistle blowers, there are other people who have relevant, authentic, credible information and they want to share it. You protect your sources. Devin is protecting his. He's protecting it so much he's not even telling us who it is.

But I would say this, Alisyn, aren't -- aren't -- shouldn't we be more interested in the authenticity and the reliability of the underlying information, whether it's the gardener or the cook or someone else is secondarily important. The authenticity and reliability is what's most important to me of the underlying information.

[08:35:11] CAMEROTA: Well, sure. And so what is the -- I mean that's what you're trying to get to the bottom of, right, is, what are the connections? Are there these ties between the Trump campaign, the Trump team and Russia? So how are you getting to the bottom of that?

GOWDY: Two separate lines of inquiry. Devin -- what Devin went to the White House about has nothing to do with Russia. So put that in a separate track. I was ready yesterday to start interviewing witnesses, all of them. I want to sit down with Adam Schiff and say, Adam, give me your list of witnesses. Let's do it together. Let's interview them together. We're both former federal prosecutors. Let's find the facts and the truth together. Give me your witness list. I'll give you mine. Let's start doing it in the forum that is most

conducive with gathering the most amount of information.

But, Alisyn, the trip to the White House that Devin took had nothing to do with Russia. So let's don't conflate the trip with the investigation.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Trey Gowdy, we appreciate your insight and you being here with all that information. Thank you.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am, thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just ahead, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not like the question and the rest is viral history. The one and only April Ryan tells us about this fiery exchange in "The Bottom Line."


[08:40:34] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes refusing to recuse himself in the Russia investigation as the committee's probe grinds to a halt because of political infighting.

CAMEROTA: Republicans preparing to go nuclear as the showdown over Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch heats up. More Democrats announcing their intention to filibuster.

CUOMO: The top U.S. commander in Iraq says there is a fair chance a U.S.-led coalition air strike killed scores of civilians in Mosul earlier this month. The general also believes ISIS put innocents in the way.

CAMEROTA: A federal judge in Hawaii who blocked President Trump's revised travel ban holds a hearing today. He is expected to decide whether to keep the travel ban on hold or suspend his order.

CUOMO: The entire White House staff announcing that they will skip next month's White House Correspondent's Dinner in solidarity with the president. Mr. Trump saying earlier he's not going.

CAMEROTA: More food for us.

CUOMO: For more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, we have to tell you what's coming up. Reporter April Ryan, she was in the hot seat yet. She got a bit of a dressing down -- get it -- from Sean Spicer at the White House press briefing. So we are going to have her here with her reaction for "The Bottom Line," next.

CUOMO: But first, we have the story of an orphan abandoned in China, now a young woman, using dance to show that beauty has no bounds. Here's her story in this week's "Turning Point."


LANI DICKINSON: I'm Lani Dickinson and I'm a professional dancer.

I was born in Tanjshtown (ph), China. I was taken to the orphanage. Then I believe I was three days old when I was found at the doorsteps. I was born with a quarter of an arm. I was 13 months of age when I was adopted, coping with staring and rude comments or their doubt in my abilities. I definitely had to like develop a resilience.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was eight years old. My mom, she put me into ballet training to build more muscle for my back and also help my posture.

I fell in love with dance almost immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, six, seven, eight.

DICKINSON: And that's when I feel like I found my own voice.

My dream was to travel and dance. I was accepted into the AXIS Dance Company. We have both disabled and nondisabled dancers.

I hope that I'm inspiring others by performing for them. If they've hit an obstacle in their life, I hope to inspire on how to overcome that obstacle.



[08:47:36] CAMEROTA: Journalist April Ryan getting into a heated exchange with Press Secretary Sean Spicer yesterday. Here is a portion.


APRIL RYAN, JOURNALIST: You've got Russia. You've got -- you've got wiretapping. You've got --

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, we don't have that. You -- you -- I know.

RYAN: (INAUDIBLE) allegations on Capitol Hill --

SPICER: No, no, I get it, but you keep -- I've said it from the day that I got here until whatever, that 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. But every single person --


SPICER: No, i -- well, no, that's -- I appreciate your agenda here, but the reality is --


SPICER: No, no, no, hold on.


SPICER: No, at some point report the facts. The facts are that every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion, Republican, Democrat. So I'm sure that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head. I appreciate it. But -- but --

RYAN: (INAUDIBLE) listening and I'm trying to (INAUDIBLE) --

SPICER: OK, but understand this, that at some point the facts are what they are. It seems like you're hell bent on trying to make sure that whatever imagine you want to tell about this White House stays. Because, at the end of the day, let me answer -- RYAN: (INAUDIBLE) --


RYAN: (INAUDIBLE) I am just reporting what --

SPICER: OK. But, you know what, you're asking me a question and I'm going to answer it, which is, the president -- I'm sorry, please stop shaking your head again.


CUOMO: He was actually moving his head while he was telling her not to shake his head.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I noticed that.

CUOMO: For what it's worth, fair play.

CAMEROTA: Here now with us, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and author of the book "At Mama's Knee," April Ryan.

Good morning, April.


CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

What was going through that head of yours when Sean Spicer was wagging his finger and shaking his head?

RYAN: Disbelief. I was just asking a question, trying to get an answer and I found myself trying to defend myself. But, you know, I'm a reporter just trying to get answers. And it was a simple question. It was a legitimate question. And I just wanted an answer. And I dropped my head. I didn't shake my head at first. And I reviewed the tape. I did shake my head towards the end in disbelief.

But, you know, at the end of the day, I'm a reporter. He's a press secretary. We both have jobs to do. I'm going back today to do my job. And he's going to do his job. And I take it for what it is. And as an administration is calling us the enemy of the people, I guess we saw some of that thought process yesterday.

[08:50:00] CUOMO: I do not think you needed to review the tape to see whether or not you were shaking your head. I think you're allowed to shake your head whenever you want, especially when Spicer is doing what he does most often right now, which was giving a bogus response to your question. You know, you said you've got wiretapping, you've got Russia. And he goes no, no, no, you do. Look, we all know where the wiretapping thing came from. That was the premise for your question. And you asked it. He didn't like it and that was the treatment that you got. Do you believe what he did to you, April, is different than what he does to other reporters? RYAN: Well, let me say this. There was a young lady from "Politico"

over the weekend, a white woman, who was called an idiot by Sean. It made headlines. We are the press who's under attack. We are under attack by this administration. It's about discrediting credible media. And, you know, at this point, I happen to be a black woman, but I'm part of the press. So this is -- I guess this is part of a series of two women this week who have been in the news over something with the press secretary.

CAMEROTA: And do you think he treats women differently in the press room?

RYAN: You know, I just know how he deals with me. I don't -- I'm not sure yet because, I mean, when he first came out, that was one of the five. I was I think the fifth person that he called on the first day of the press briefing. I -- I'm going to watch more so closely now. I just know that there are attacks on the press, but I'm going to watch more so closely. And, I mean, I just see from the weekend that reporter from "Politico," who he called an idiot and then this situation, it's showing a pattern, at least this week.

But, yes, I mean, they have made attacks on the press. I'm saying overarching the attacks on the press have happened, but now I'm looking more closely, I'm thinking about what you're saying at the issue of women.

CUOMO: The bad fact for them where you, April, are involved is that the president asked you to set up a meeting with the Black Caucus, which I thought was one of the more awkward moments we've seen in there. You handled it very well. I don't know if you reached out to try to set up the meeting or not.

RYAN: I did not. I did not. Not at all.

CUOMO: But that -- I didn't expect you to.

CAMEROTA: His (ph) scheduler, you know?

CUOMO: But I thought that that was --

RYAN: I'm a reporter.

CUOMO: I thought that that was more of a, I wonder if this would have happened to somebody who looked like me instead of like April in that exchange. Did you see that one as different with the president?

RYAN: Again, when he said that, and this is when I just -- nothing else registered after he said set up the meeting because I looked at that as impropriety and I'm like, I can't do that. I can't set up a president with government.

Now, what I will tell you is, I will set up a meeting with the president and reporters. We've had tongs (ph) like that. We all look for tongs (ph), off the record meetings with presidents or news makers and reporters to find out what's going on. But I cannot, I will not set up a meeting for government officials and the White House. That is just not right at all for me.

CAMEROTA: April, quickly, do you feel as though there is more of a personal attack from Sean Spicer? When he calls somebody an idiot, when he says to you, stop shaking your head, is that -- I mean, look, there's always been an adversarial relationship between the press secretary and the press, but is there something on a deeper, more personal level happening now?

RYAN: That's a tough one, and I want to believe that Mike -- what Mike McCurry said, the former press secretary for Bill Clinton. He said there's a friendly adversarial relationship. I believe the friendly piece is gone now, as you said, Alisyn.

It -- it is getting personal, but it should never get personal in that room. It should be about the issues. I have no agenda. You know, calling people out of their name (ph). I mean if you get personal, it could go back and forth for days and it's not about the issues and it's about the issues.

This is the White House. This is the home, the work space of the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. People want to know what he's thinking, what he's doing. I cover all things presidential. It's not about me. But if it becomes about me, it's a sad day and -- or any other reporter. It is about the issue for the American people. We cover the president of the United States for the American people. It's not about us, it's about you, the people. It's just -- it's -- it's turning into a different day.

CUOMO: Well, you'll get a big amen about that from a lot of people, certainly your brothers and sisters in the media. But, interesting, what's your take on this. The president tweeted, "hey, you know, if only people could see in our great country how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by the media." Do you think that those adjectives are applying more to the White House press secretary these days than it is to the media in terms of accuracy, which Spicer has struggled with, and that's a generous assessment, and the kind of personal attacks that you, the "Politico" reporter, our Jim Acosta, you know, that we see on a regular basis, that have a feel of viciousness to?

RYAN: Jim is a great reporter. I love Jim Acosta.

First of all, there is a lot of credibility issues when it comes to this administration. But that's where the press comes in and we have to cover the issues and get all sides of the stories. Not just two sides, all sides of the story, to find out what is is and what is real versus fake.

[08:55:16] Now, when it comes to fake news, oh, yes, there is some fake news organizations out there reporting on them. Also supporting some of the spin that's offered from this White House and maybe other White Houses. But I will tell you this, too, as well. You know, in that room that I've been sitting in for 20 years and to see it recently, you just wonder about some of the people that are coming in the room now. Are they really journalists or are they spectators posing as journalists. So there's a lot of stuff going on in that room right now and in this

mosh that we call reporting at the White House right now. It's -- the dynamic has changed. But there is fake news out there. But I'm going to say those who have covered the White House, who are covering, credible, credential journalists who come there every day are doing their jobs. And I'm telling you, it's a fight. And it should not be this way. But they -- I'm telling you, I standby the First Amendment and those journalists who are in there covering this president and other presidents.

CAMEROTA: April Ryan, keep up the good work.

RYAN: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being with us to talk about all of this this morning.

RYAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman begins right after the break. Stay with CNN.


[09:00:10] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. 9:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow.