Return to Transcripts main page
Ossoff Headed for Run-Off in Georgia; Pence Speaks Out about North Korea; Sources: FBI Used Russian Dossier to Get FISA Court Warrant for Page Investigation. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 19, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JON OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is already a victory for ages.
[05:58:38] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It really does shake the Republican Party into a fearful place about what Donald Trump means for their electoral process.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keeping this seat in the hands of a Republican is far bigger than any one individual.
OSSOFF: We will be ready to fight on and win in June. So bring it on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. show of force against North Korea wasn't everything it was cracked up to be.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States presence in the Asian Pacific is strong and under President Trump's leadership, it will be stronger still.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The administration can't afford to make mistakes like this. Did you see a direct negotiation with North Korea and the U.S.?
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, April 19, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Up first, a wake-up call for Republicans in deep red Georgia. The Democrat Jon Ossoff coming close to winning the House seat vacated by President Trump's health secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Falling just short of the 50 percent threshold with about 99 percent of the vote in. He's at about 48 percent. So that means there's going to be a run-off election in June against Republican Karen Handel, who finished a distant second. But remember, the district has been a GOP stronghold since 1979.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So this congressional race widely seen as an early referendum on President Trump. The president injecting himself into the race, claiming victory before it was even called.
It is day 90 of the Trump presidency, and we have it all covered for you. So let's begin with Joe Johns, live at the White House.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
If it was a referendum on the man in the Oval Office, Republicans side-stepped what could have been a humiliating moment in a seemingly rock-solid district in Georgia. Well, Democrats, despite all the anger and anti-Trump energy, coming up just short of making a clear statement.
OSSOFF: You all ready to flip the 6th?
JOHNS (voice-over): The closely-watched special election for Georgia's 6th District headed for a run-off with both sides, claiming victory, after 30-year-old political newcomer Jon Ossoff fell just short of an outright win in a district held by Republicans since 1979.
OSSOFF: There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages.
KAREN HANDEL (R), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: On June 20, we keep the 6th District red and kick a little Ossoff.
JOHNS: Ossoff will face off against Republican Karen Handel in June for the seat formerly held by Trump's health secretary, Tom Price, in a contest seen as a referendum on Trump's presidency and a preview of next year's mid-term elections.
President Trump taking credit for the results, hailing the run-off as a win despite Ossoff's strong showing, tweeting, "Despite major outside money, fake media support and 11 Republican candidates, big 'R' win with run-off in Georgia. Glad to be of help."
The president was personally invested in the election, bashing the Democratic contender in a barrage of tweets and even recording a robocall to urge Republicans to get out and vote.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): Ossoff will raise taxes, destroy your health care, and flood our country with illegal immigrants.
JOHNS: President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in this Republican stronghold by just 1 percent last November, compared to Mitt Romney's decisive victory in 2012, prompting Democrats to target the seat, pumping $8.3 million into Ossoff's campaign. This election comes as the president signed an executive order targeting highly-skilled foreign workers that he says are taking jobs from Americans.
TRUMP (on camera): We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs, and finally put America first. JOHNS: Mr. Donald Trump also touting the successes of his presidency.
TRUMP: No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.
JOHNS: Today, the president is expected to meet with his national security adviser and V.A. secretary. Also expected to sign a veterans' health bill and he is going to meet with the New England Patriots to congratulate them on the Super Bowl victory -- Chris and Ali.
CUOMO: Big day. Joe Johns, appreciate it.
Joining us now is CNN political analysts David Gregory, David Drucker and A.B. Stoddard, associate editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics.
David Gregory, how is it a win for the GOP in a district they've held since 1979 to have an upstart Democrat get almost 50 percent of the vote?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I don't think it's a resounding win, but I think they come away at least. I mean, I think, you know, this is a strong showing for a Democratic candidate in a really conservative red district.
But despite that strong showing, I think there are some reasons to temper the enthusiasm. I think that there are limits to the anti- Trump progressive Democratic wing of the party as you look ahead to the midterm race.
I think they have to find a way to coalesce around the message that's bigger than being just anti-Trump. It's not typically like you have to be for something, but I think if you go back to the first midterm that President Obama faced, it's a huge debate about the role of government, about health care. I don't think it can be just anti- Trump when, in a lot of districts, you know, tried and true Republicans are going to come home.
What made it close here, of course, is that these are more college- educated Republicans. This is more Mitt Romney Republicans than Donald Trump Republicans, and I think that's the softness of the underbelly for the Republicans.
CUOMO: David, the guy got almost 50 percent of the vote, and he came out of nowhere as a new Democrat. Wouldn't you think in a district that, you know, you had Newt Gingrich in there and obviously Dr. Tom Price. You've held it since '79. What gives the confidence? We did great last night. Could have been worse. The Democrat could have won outright.
GREGORY: Yes, I mean, I think it's a strong showing for sure. I think they just came up a bit short. And I think, again, this is not solid Donald Trump territory, as -- as we showed -- as was shown in the election. So it is a vulnerable area for Republicans, but there's still the issue of Republicans coming home, even though they are outspent; even though it was a big field. And I think that has to be added as an asterisk.
[06:05:13] CAMEROTA: A.B., this is not solid Trump territory as David just said. He only won by...
CUOMO: A point and a half.
CAMEROTA: ... less than two points. Yes, a point and a half. So how -- how can this be a referendum on Donald Trump, given that this is sort of a peculiar district?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, real clear politics: So it's going to be a referendum on what the Republicans are not doing in Congress with their unified Republican government. It will be hard for Karen Handel, the Republican candidate now, campaigning for the run-off for June 20 to campaign on the successes of the Republican Congress. At that point, will they have had a government shutdown? Will they be deep into tax reform and on their way to passing it by the end of the year? Will they have done anything to repeal and replace Obamacare? Will she distance herself from Donald Trump? What position will be -- will Trump be in politically, come June 20?
Agreed, it's a Republican district. Mitt Romney in '12 and then in '16, Tom Price, won by 23 points. These are not Trump Republicans. So there is some apathy there that she needs to work with.
But there is time, of course, in a Republican district to scare, mobilize and motivate Republican voters to come out and keep it in the red column before June 20. They have time now. I just think that it's going to depend on what the record is in the Congress and how unified and productive they are. At this point, it's not looking so good.
CAMEROTA: How do you see it, David?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think Republicans would be a lot more nervous if the election were this November rather than next November. So obviously, over the course of the next 18 months or so, so much can change, both in the Republicans' favor or get a lot worse for them.
Democrats have to win 24 seats to win a majority. There are 23 seats that Hillary Clinton won that Republicans hold. And this is the kind of seat, an educated suburban seat where Democrats need to -- need to be able to make gains if they're going to claw their way back to power.
The Kansas special election last week was interesting in that it showed softness for the Republicans. But that's not the seat they're going to be targeting. The kind of seat they can really win. This is the kind of seat they can show they can win. So the challenge for them now and what this finish will do for them is really juice fundraising even more. And allow them to make a case for candidate recruitment. Because they'll be able to say, look, this unknown, not very charismatic young kid did really well. Better than we expected in Georgia.
So, you, physician and accountant, business man, family man, you could probably win. If you -- if you decide to run, so now, you know, the question is, can the Democrats win House seats where they can't spend $10 million and direct the full effort of the party into one seat? Because that's what they were able to do here. I think fresh real evidence that the party is energized and not dead, you know, not dead as it sort of looked after President Trump was elected. But -- but now what are they going to do about it?
CUOMO: David, one of the reasons we paid attention to this race is because of how heavily involved the president was. Right? And he was tweeting and all that. And he said it was a big victory. And it's hard to see how his influence had any major beneficial impact. It came at the same time that he's now touting his own accomplishments. Right? He just said that his first 90 days has accomplished more than anybody ever.
All right. Now, let's put up some graphics just to quantify it, and then we can judge it. Here are his big promises so far, right? Obamacare hasn't been done yet. I give him an incomplete, not a fail. Yes, it didn't pass, but may still.
Border wall, incomplete. Travel ban, fail. Withdraw from TPP. Did it. We don't know what impact it will have. Tax reform. Incomplete.
So those are the big things. He also made a claim about quantifiable success. He's put out 23 laws, 24 executive orders.
CAMEROTA: Which are a lot.
CUOMO: It's a lot, but it's not the most ever. He did more than Obama, but less than both Bushes.
CAMEROTA: Right. So the 23 laws, that is a lot in the first 90 days.
CUOMO: A lot.
CAMEROTA: One less than Bill Clinton. So yes. So there's your context for you, David.
CUOMO: What do you make of that?
Look, I don't buy the idea that he's making an argument about how much he's accomplished. The reality is he's had a staff shakeup. He's had to get people around him to get along better. His first major forays into either legislation or executive orders were, to use his words, "a disaster" when he controls government. He's lacked discipline. He's been temperamental all over the place. So no, this has not been successful. And you know what? He knows it hasn't been successful.
It doesn't mean he hasn't had areas of success and fulfilled promises. The Supreme Court was not listed there. That was a huge one. I mean, his legacy on the Supreme Court naming a successor to Justice Scalia and Justice Gorsuch was huge. And it's a very big accomplishment. [06:10:07] So it is mixed, and his handling of foreign affairs is
still kind of in process. He's gotten some good marks. But I think it's mixed. So I think to make the kind of claim he's making is spin.
DRUCKER: It's all about healthcare reform and tax reform. If he gets those big things done. You know, look, it's like when I was in college, I could do great on the quizzes. If I didn't do well on the mid-term or the final, forget it.
CAMEROTA: David makes a great point. The Supreme Court. And by the way, that is in our notes. I don't know how it got out of our graphic, but that was a big.
CUOMO: It is the biggest win.
CAMEROTA: The longest lasting.
CUOMO: It wasn't a legislative.
DRUCKER: It is. And I think that was important for him to deliver on because of the promises that he made. Like, when you look at the repeal and replacement of the health care law and the fact that health care needs to be fixed. And when you look at permanency for the kind of economic growth he's promising. He's not going to be able to do it without a big tax bill and tax reform. And that's -- those are the issues that midterm voters are going to judge him on.
CAMEROTA: OK. Panel, thank you. Stick around. We have many more questions. Also, we want to let you know coming up on we will speak to the Republican candidate Karen Handel of that high-profile Georgia House race. Does she think this was a referendum on Donald Trump? What does she think about him?
CUOMO: We also have the reaction from the Democratic National Committee chair, Tom Perez. He was feeling good about last night. What does it mean for him going forward?
Also, we have another warning for North -- for North Korea from the vice president. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no question that North Korea represents the most dangerous and most immediate threat in the Asian Pacific. And President Trump is determined to confront that threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And because of that reality, the question remains: what is the plan to deal with North Korea? CNN's Dana Bash presses exactly that in another exclusive interview with the veep next.
CAMEROTA: Vice President Mike Pence addressing thousands of troops aboard the "USS Ronald Reagan" just off the coast of Japan and delivering another stern warning to North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Those who challenge our resolve or readiness should know. We will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Right after that, the vice president spoke exclusively with CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. And Dana joins us now live from Tokyo. Dana, give us all the headlines.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wow. Alisyn, this muscular response has not just been rhetoric from the vice president here in the region, from the president back in Washington, but also from what we thought was a show of force militarily. That the announcement that the USS Carl Vinson was headed towards the Korean Peninsula, when actually we learned that, at the time, it was going in the opposite direction. And that's where I started the interview.
BASH: We are in Japan on the USS Ronald Reagan. I want to ask about something, first of all, that's making headlines in the United States and here right now. And that is that last week, the U.S. military and the administration announced that another ship, the USS Carl Vinson, was heading toward the Korean Peninsula. And the White House said it was a powerful deterrent, vis-a-vis North Korea.
And now we learn that it wasn't. In fact, it was going the other direction. So, were these misleading comments deliberate?
PENCE: Oh, I think not. Which have an extraordinary commitment of U.S. Forces in the region. The Carl Vinson and that battle group are be deployed to the Sea of Japan and will likely arrive here in the coming weeks.
But the presence of U.S. forces, as I saw first-hand in South Korea, more than 30,000 personnel. Here in Japan, more than 50,000 personnel aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and seeing these extraordinary soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines gives me great confidence that the United States presence in the Asian Pacific is strong; and under President Trump's leadership it will be stronger still.
BASH: Let's talk about North Korea and what you've been saying in the region. That the strategy of the U.S. will be to reach out to allies in the region and that the best path to dialogue, you were saying, is through family of nations. I have to tell you, that sounds a lot like the six-party talks back in the Bush administration that failed. How is your policy different?
PENCE: I think that the president has made it very clear that, after more than two decades of failed dialogue and even what was called strategic patience, that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has really run out. And that we are now going to begin to take such measures, diplomatically and economically, to isolate the regime in Pyongyang.
The encouraging news, Dana, for anyone looking on is that because of President Trump's leadership, we're not only seeing our allies in South Korea and Japan and in the wider world standing with us. But China has taken steps now to economically isolate North Korea. Given the fact that China represents more than 80 percent of the exports from North Korea is enormously important to the economic marketplace. We believe that this is an important step forward.
BASH: So I must want to try to drill down on the diplomatic side of this a little bit more. Will the U.S. actually sit down in any way, shape or form, for diplomatic negotiations with the North Koreans?
PENCE: You know, whether you go back to the agreed framework of the 1990s or the...
[06:21:05] BASH: Not that. Looking forward. Whatever version it would be. Will there be any negotiating? Whether it's direct -- I mean, you can answer that; could you see a direct negotiation with North Korea?
PENCE: Not at this time. The policy that President Trump has articulated is to marshal the support of the allies in the region here in Japan and South Korea, and nations around the world and China, who have taken the position now for decades of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
BASH: Bilateral talks, that's not going to happen. Is there a move or a thought that, as part of those diplomatic steps, are you talking about to get the nations like South Korea, like Japan back to the table with North Korea and the U.S.? Is that something doable and make a difference?
PENCE: I think the president's vision for this is very straight forward. That is that we are going to make it clear to the regime in Pyongyang that the days of broken promises, the days of running out the clock on agreements with the wider world are over.
That, when you look at two nuclear tests in the last year alone. You look at an unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches. There is no question that North Korea represents the most dangerous and most immediate threat in the Asian Pacific; and President Trump is determined to confront that threat by marshaling unprecedented cooperation of our allies in the region and China and the world.
BASH: You've got your rhetorical strategy down, and so does the president. But is it a rhetorical strategy in search of an actually practical diplomatic approach?
PENCE: I think it's -- I think it's eminently practical. I think the president's direct engagement with President Xi of China and the fact that now you've seen China turning back coal shipments from North Korea, making changes in the ability of people to travel by air from Pyongyang into China. And other measures that they may well take in the future demonstrates the hands-on diplomacy that President Trump has brought to this. That's what it will take. BASH: Did the missile test that the North Koreans launched while you
were on the plane heading to the region fail because the U.S. used an electronic or cyber technology to sabotage it?
PENCE: I can't comment on the electronic or technical capabilities of our military. But we certainly -- e certainly recognize that was a failed missile test and failed almost immediately just like another recent test.
BASH: But the U.S. didn't have anything to do with it?
PENCE: Well, I can't comment either way, as you know, Dana. What I can say, failed or not, it was one more provocation by a regime that -- ten continues to flout the views of the international community and it has to come to an end.
BASH: That question about whether or not the U.S. had something to do with the failure of that -- excuse me, North Korean missile test is something that is really key, because officials publicly don't talk about it.
There is a report that that is a big part of the United States deterrent, at least a way to contain North Korea by basically messing with the missile tests and other ways that are really under the radar. We don't know officially if that is the case. It would be very interesting to learn a little bit more. I didn't expect, Alisyn, for the vice president of the United States to tell me, but I had to ask.
CAMEROTA: We appreciate that you asked. And in fact, you know, we've heard various officials be quite coy about that. Understandably. But Dana, thanks so much for sharing that.
And of course, we should let everybody know we'll have more of your interview. Exclusive with the vice president in the next hour and there he will talk about Mr. Trump's campaign promises and the president's refusal to release tax returns.
CUOMO: All right. We now know that the FBI convinced a secret U.S. court to allow surveillance on a top Donald Trump associate. But how did the bureau make its case? We have late-breaking developments you will want to hear next.
[06:29:59] CUOMO: Sources tell CNN that that famous or infamous dossier, depending on your partisan stripe, that it was used by the FBI to help obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump associate.
Justice correspondent Evan Perez broke the story, along with two of his colleagues.
Evan, what have you learned about the reporting? Let's remind people that means that the FBI saw on that dossier articulatable fact that they could give to a judge as a basis of reasonable belief about Carter Page. And the judge bought it.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. That is exactly right. U.S. officials tell CNN that last year the FBI used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification to get approval to secretly monitor Trump associate Carter Page.
FBI director James Comey has cited the dossier in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks as one of the sources of information that the FBI has used to support its investigation. Now, this includes approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA to monitor Page's communications.
Now, to obtain court permission to target Page, the FBI and the Justice Department would have to present probable cause that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power, including possibly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering for a foreign government.