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Judge Halts President Trump Executive Order on Sanctuary Cities; New Evidence Regarding Michael Flynn's Contacts with Russia and Turkey Released; Interview with Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired April 26, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How does that sound? I know that during the campaign we heard and saw certain things that were very troublesome. They were very troublesome to me and his daughter as well, but that is not the Donald Trump I know. The Donald Trump I know who I've seen as a boss who I've seen as a father is this and this and this. But, yes, you've got to acknowledge it. Don't tell them he is fit for canonization when we all have heard him not be.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That is a good line. You might be eligible for first daughter. Kayleigh, I'm sorry. We're out of time.
NAVARRO: Not in this administration.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, ladies. We're following a lot of news. So let's get right to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all have a duty to confront injustice, even when it emanates from the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump slamming the ruling that halt his sanctuary cities order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty easy to find a left leaning judge that would block it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are under no obligation to respect an executive order which violates the U.S. constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see in information that General Flynn complied with the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what he filled out and what did or did not do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question becomes now, was it a deliberate omission or was it an accident?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump slamming another federal judge and court ruling after suffering a third legal challenge to one of his immigration orders. The president now vows to fight all the way to the Supreme Court after this judge's order is blocking his attempt to strip federal funds from sanctuary cities.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, lawmakers say that Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn may have committed a crime by failing to properly disclose payments from Russia. This is a very busy day 97 of the Trump presidency.
Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Deja vu on the battle between the courts and the White House. The president had a couple tweets this morning criticizing the federal courts as well as the ninth circuit, also talking about 'ridiculous rulings." He said "I'll see you in the Supreme Court."
JOHNS: The White House blasting a federal court ruling after a San Francisco judge blocked the president's executive action that threatened to strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, citing Trump's own words in the decision.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they're going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly, that would be a weapon.
JOHNS: In a scathing statement, the White House calls Judge William Orrick's ruling an egregious overreach by a single unelected district judge who unilaterally rewrote immigration policies and starkly accusing local officials in sanctuary cities of having the blood of dead Americans on their hands.
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES: Unconstitutional political threats against our cities cannot take away our rights and they certainly can't steal our tax dollars.
JOHNS: Hours earlier the White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asserting that the ninth circuit which also blocked the administration's first travel ban is going bananas, a far cry from the Justice Department's subdued response. This isn't the first time President Trump has personally attacked a federal judge.
TRUMP: Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK, I'll criticize judges. JOHNS: Earlier this year he criticized Federal Judge James Robart as
a "so called judge" for halting the administration's initial travel ban. And during the campaign then candidate Trump repeatedly declared Judge Gonzalo Curiel of being unfit to handle a lawsuit against Trump University because he claimed the judge was Mexican. But Curiel was born in Indiana.
TRUMP: He is hispanic, I believe, and he is a very hostile judge to me. This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall.
JOHNS: This legal setback comes as bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight Committee contend that President Trump's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, may have broken the law by not properly disclosing payments from Russia and Turkey.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: He was supposed to get permission and he was supposed to report. He didn't.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: It appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law.
JOHNS: The White House pressed repeatedly about the vetting process for the president's first named advisor who was always with him on the campaign trail.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is always going to be in the case of people who had a prior clearance between the time that they filled it out and had it adjudicated they could have engaged in something, and whether or not they updated that or not is always the onus is on the individual.
JOHNS: The stepped up tempo here at the end of 100 days continues at the White House. They are expected to roll out their tax plan today as well. All 100 senators are expected to come over to the White House complex for a briefing on North Korea. Members of the House of Representatives will get their briefing on Capitol Hill also later today. Chris and Alisyn?
[08:05:00] CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you very much.
Let's bring our political panel. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory, CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza, and national security correspondent for the "New York Times" David Sanger. Great to have all of you here. David Gregory, you heard President Trump is accusing this judge of egregious overreach, basically suggesting that this one judge is an activist judge and is threatening national security.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, this is a highly charged debate politically, but also legally because the central question is not an easy one, which is do you have an ability in the executive branch to attach strings to federal money for cities and local jurisdictions, and can they defy you or not? So is it the executive's job to be able to put those strings there or is it something that only Congress can do? So that is an important point. And as a political matter -- that's an important legal point. As a political matter, you do have sanctuary cities that are seeking to defy the president and defy the executive branch on national immigration policy. And so that puts the president right where he wants, which is to have that kind of fight with who he will argue are activist judges in jurisdictions that are mostly liberal. So I think he wants this fight and it may as a legal matter go all the way to the Supreme Court.
CUOMO: So he wins all day long on this, Cillizza, is that the political upshot?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: I think he does. Look, it is day 97 as I helpfully learned from that graphic. And what's the biggest -- what's the biggest win by far, a thing I think Democrats would even acknowledge is a victory for him, Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court. If you go back all the way throughout his campaign, his best days are always when he is talking about the federal judiciary, whether that's railing against them or whether it's nominating Neil Gorsuch and getting him confirmed because it is an issue tremendously unifying among a Republican base, many of whom have severe doubts that have only been made worse by these first 97 days.
So, yes, it is a fight he absolutely wants. It is why you see him lean in with three tweets this morning with a very strong statement from the White House. My guess is he will talk about it any chance he gets today because they view this as a political victory, a day in which they could fight on ground that is good for them, which, to be honest, he's done about three or four days out of his presidency thus far.
CAMEROTA: David Sanger, any downside to taking on this judge?
DAVID SANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, first of all, I want to say that I'm glad to hear Chris say that a good day is taking on the judiciary because he probably can't take on both the press and the judiciary on the same day.
CILLIZZA: Yes. You never know.
SANGER: Yes, we could go for a double header. Baseball season has started.
Yes, there is, I think, you know, one downside, which is that, you know, ultimately, I think he could well lose on this. There are, as David pointed out, significant restrictions on what the executive can do with money that is appropriated by Congress for specific reasons under specific conditions. But as a political issue, I would agree this one plays very nicely.
CUOMO: How about let's switch topics. How about Flynn? Politically, how, David Gregory, does the White House separate itself from Michael Flynn and any accountability for vetting a man that was not just begged to be part of the administration but one of his first guys, was shoulder to shoulder with Trump.
GREGORY: That's the point, I don't think they can. There may be very specific areas where Flynn was not forthcoming to those who were vetting him in terms of speeches made, contacts made, et cetera. And we know that he was fired from the White House job because he didn't level with them about contacts he made with the Russian ambassador.
But the larger point about accountability is huge. You had someone very close to the candidate and then the president who was influencing his view of the world and his national security policy with ties to a foreign power, the very foreign power that sought to manipulate our election. That is a big deal. And I don't know what's going to come of these Russia investigations, but that is a real bruise against this president and this administration for which they have got to be held accountable.
CAMEROTA: So Chris Cillizza, now lawmakers on both sides, including Jason Chaffetz on oversight, have come out and said, I mean, in sort of Washington speak that it appears that General Flynn broke the law, although Chaffetz said something to the effect of I don't see how he --
CUOMO: I don't see any proof he complied with the law.
CAMEROTA: Complied with the law.
CILLIZZA: I like it better the he didn't not not break the law. Yes, I mean, yes. Yes, it is --
CAMEROTA: OK, so yes. That was a bit of Washington speak that you all speak but is strange to the ears of other people. Here is another bit of Washington speak from Press Secretary Sean Spicer explaing why the White House didn't vet him more properly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:10:06] SPICER: Then they asked for documents prior to January 20th. As you know through the constitution, we didn't assume the White House until January 20th at noon, so we don't have the documents prior to assuming the White House. And then the third would be they listed for every call and contact that he made, which is an extraordinary number that that's a very -- that's a very unwieldy request.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: We're not going to give you the information. We're not going to defend Flynn, and it is Obama's fault.
CAMEROTA: How do you translate it, Chris?
CILLIZZA: OK, so their push back, to cut through Sean, is Flynn was approved, his security clearance was approved in 2016 under the Obama administration. So put that aside. That's one point he's making.
Here is what I do not understand. OK, he's right. It is unwieldy to provide the calls Flynn made and received. But to David's point, we're talking about someone who is extremely close to the president of the United States, influencing national security and foreign policy throughout the campaign, and then was placed as the national security advisor, who now did not tell the truth to the vice president about contacts with the Russian ambassador and what was talked about and now has ties -- he gave a speech and didn't properly report it, we believe.
So to me, you bend over backwards to make this clear. Donald Trump said this is all fake news, the Russia story is fake news. Prove it. Say we're going to cooperate fully with this investigation, and they continue not to do that. That's not an indictment. That is not proof that there is some there there. But it sure as heck doesn't help make the case there isn't.
CUOMO: Also, remember, David Sanger, this was a man who was dismissed by Obama. So the idea they didn't have any reason to question anything that had gone on in his past is suspect. That said, Flynn very clearly from jump through his lawyers has said I did nothing wrong. I did disclose this. It was part of earlier conversations. People knew. And to be fair, I've seen that video Russia Today video. We've had this reporting since he entered the campaign about what he had done with Russia Today and the picture of him and Putin and the money he had gotten. What do you make of this?
SANGER: Well, a few things. First, Mr. Flynn, who was I think a very solid director of the Defense Intelligence Agency when I covered him, would -- I think will go down in history as the only person ever dismissed by both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, which, you know, is something of a record.
It strikes me that the White House is on pretty thin ice here for a couple of reasons. First of all, as you point out, Chris, the connections to R.T. were known prior to his appointment. But also the fact that he was doing some work that at least advocated for Turkey was clear. In fact, on Election Day he published an op-ed that was in support of the President Erdogan, so that raised a number of questions as well.
Secondly, since they have already dismissed Mr. Flynn, it would seem to me that if they really wanted to try to cauterize a lot of these, they would give all of the records about Flynn over.
SANGER: In fact, Flynn is in some ways the least interesting part of this story. The most interesting part of this story is what led to the timing of the release of many of the Russian bots that ended up spreading disinformation and whether or not there was any connection to back the campaign. And Flynn is at this point having already been dismissed a little bit of a sideshow.
CAMEROTA: The investigation is ongoing. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
CUOMO: Another day, another big development. The Trump administration is going to unveil its tax plan today. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is going to lead the official rollout in just a few hours. We could get a preview in just a few minutes.
CNN's Phil Mattingly live at a breakfast in Washington where Mnuchin is going to speak. What do we expect?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, obviously Treasury Secretary Mnuchin deeply involved in this entire process. What we expect over the course of day is really principals, and they track very closely with President Trump actually laid out in the campaign. What does that mean? That means dramatic cuts, particularly on the corporate side, proposing dropping the corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, including kind of small businesses known as passers from 39 percent to 15 percent as well.
Now, that is a dramatic shift and one that would cost a lot of money and potentially raise a lot of political problems on Capitol Hill. It diverges sharply, Chris, from what we've seen from people like Speaker Paul Ryan, from what we've heard from senators who are also working on this. But it really kind of sets the tone and that's what I've heard from officials leading up to this announcement today, as the White House is trying to get out in front of this, take ownership of this issue, an issue the president cares very deeply about, and kind of drive the conversation going forward.
[08:15:04] That said, politics and policies, if it diverges within your own party, particularly with some of the key players on Capitol Hill, that's not necessarily a good sign for the future of the bill. This is a starting point, an important one, but there's a very long road to go -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Phil, thank you very much for all of that reporting.
So, ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under fire. Did he actually break the law? A member of the House Intelligence Committee shares his thoughts, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFFETZ: As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate and there are repercussions for the violation of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That was the Republican chairman of the house oversight committee suggesting that former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, may have broken the law for accepting payments from foreign governments without getting permission from Congress.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Michael Quigley. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
CAMEROTA: Do you think Michael Flynn broke the law?
QUIGLEY: Well, if as discussed by the chairman and ranking member yesterday, he didn't disclose or get permission, he certainly can be. Obviously, this is ultimately up to the Justice Department. But I can't help watching those two gentlemen speak, remember the general leading chants of "lock her up, lock her up" at the Republican Convention.
[08:20:05] So, if he's not in trouble in a court of law, he's probably in trouble in the court of karma.
CAMEROTA: Maybe that's what's coming back around now as it will do, as we've seen so often in life.
But what about the White House not knowing or claiming not to know these things that General Flynn had accepted something like 45,000 from RT Russian TV state run media? I mean, does the White House, their responsibility for not vetting him properly or just exercising willful blindness on their part.
QUIGLEY: Yes, as we recall, a lot of these confirmations were rushed. There were senator saying that they need more information and more timing. But the White House wanted to move forward knowing just what you said, as well as the fact that he had been fired by a previous administration.
Here we are in the hockey playoffs, the general just needs to get fired by one more administration, and he has the dubious hat trick. They knew enough to know this was a problem. The question now becomes, what did they know and when did they know it from Mrs. Yates? We're certainly looking forward to her testimony --
CAMEROTA: When is that? When is she going to testify in front of your committee?
QUIGLEY: Yes. I mean, I understand the Senate, it's tentatively set for May 8th. She has been invited by the House Select Committee on Intelligence. We're cautiously optimistic that that testimony will take place just after that May date.
CAMEROTA: I mean, part of the problem is that Americans don't have a lot of faith that Congress is going to be able to adequately investigate this.
Let me put up a poll released this morning. It is from ABC News. Confident Congress can investigate Russia ties fairly? Fifty percent of Americans say no, 42 percent say yes. Why should Americans have more faith in your ability to investigate this?
QUIGLEY: Look, I understand the frustration and distrust here.
The fact of the matter is, so far on the House side, as ways of distraction or obstruction, the White House in the middle of this said, hey, President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, which obviously turned out to be not true. They canceled a public hearing. The chairman went on a midnight excursion.
I don't doubt -- I clearly understand why people have their doubts. Just appreciate, I still think there is a majority on both sides in the House that want to get this job done, to follow the facts wherever they are because the American public does have a right to know.
CAMEROTA: But how about a special independent commission? Since -- I mean, as you have just delineated all of the problems that make it seem as though certainly on the House side, your side, that it is tainted.
QUIGLEY: Well, I don't know that it -- it's been obstructed. It's not tainted yet. We don't have a finished product, and we're certainly working forward. All the while, though, all the documents I read, everything I have heard, the witnesses we've seen in public hearings and so forth has told me -- we absolutely need an independent commission.
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I think they have different abilities and different qualities. So, I believe there should be a House and Senate investigation, as well as an independent commission and an independent prosecutor when we get to that point.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, I want to ask you about the judges, the news this morning that a judge in California has blocked President Trump's executive order about stopping federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities. I know that you have authored a bill or sponsored a bill trying to prevent this from happening -- trying to prevent any federal funds to sanctuary cities from being stopped.
So, how are you feeling today about where this is?
QUIGLEY: I think the judge did the right thing. I think the proposal was grossly unconstitutional. I did it because I thought it was unconstitutionally, but blatantly unfair putting people at risk for a policy that's on the far right extreme. So, you know, we can't always agree with what the courts do, but I certainly agree with what they've done here.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, Congressman, you know the argument on the other side. You say this puts people at risk if these federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities are blocked. On the other side they say talk to Kate Steinle's family. She was put at risk by a so-called sanctuary city they say. How do you respond to that?
QUIGLEY: Yes. I mean, let's understand. People have gotten to this country legally or illegally, undocumented residents of this country commit crimes at a far, far, far less rate than other citizens. So, I think it is a red herring. I'm very sympathetic to any victims
of any crime, but I don't think that the crimes that are taking place by people who are undocumented are in any way close to just regular citizens of the United States.
[08:25:00] But, I mean, you know what the other side would say. How can you justify having a so-called sanctuary city. Why don't cities want to cooperate with federal immigration agents?
QUIGLEY: I think they were trying to get to a point where we passed comprehensive immigration reform. I think the Republicans would acknowledge you are not going to deport, what, 11 million to 14 million Americans. It's not the right thing to do. It would crush the economy. So, they can't have it both ways.
Recognizing this and recognizing that President Reagan did pass relief to people who are in these situations, you know, the person that they look to most on such conservative matters did just the opposite of what they're doing now, President Reagan.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you very much for your perspective on NEW DAY.
QUIGLEY: Very good. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So, we heard from the Democrat. What did the Republicans have to say about what's going on with sanctuary cities and Mike Flynn?
We're going to test that side next. Stay with NEW DAY.
CUOMO: President Trump on offense this morning after a federal judge blocked his executive order that would have stripped federal funds from sanctuary cities. Well, the cloud of Russia looms large over his administration, new acquisitions about Mike Flynn.