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Interview with Rep. Chris Collins; Trump Slams Court Ruling on Sanctuary Cities; Trump's Executive Powers; Flynn May Have Broken Law; Racing Against Diabetes; Trump's 100-Day Mark. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 26, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Executive order that would have stripped federal funds from sanctuary cities. While the cloud of Russia looms large over his administration, new accusations about Mike Flynn.

Joining us now to discuss, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good morning, Chris. Good to be with you.

CUOMO: Is the president right in now he's referring to the judge and how he is arguing his case about sanctuary cities?

COLLINS: I absolutely agree with him. I think America does as well, Chris. And I think it goes back to a fundamental promise he made and why he was elected to protect the Supreme Court from being an activist court. He accomplished that in his first 100 days and certainly what we've seen with some of the other federal judges that have been installed over the last few years. We do have an activist court and I think President Trump, over the next four to eight years, is certainly going to clean that up and appoint justices like Neil Gorsuch who believe in the Constitution and are not going to be making activist rulings from the bench, as we've seen in the Ninth Circuit. So I do think America is watching and the overreach of that Ninth Circuit is really confirming what many of us have been talking about for a long time.

CUOMO: Why is it overreach? The law involved? You know that the executive can't just play with where money goes unless it's tailored to a specific purpose. We've seen this before. You guys did it with Kathleen Sebelius when you didn't like the strings that were attached to federal money with the ACA, forum shopping, fair criticism, but we've seen it on both sides. You went down to Texas to fight Obama's laws on immigration. It was a more friendly place to bring that case. It happens. Why the umbrage now?

COLLINS: Well, I think right now the situation surrounding sanctuary cities is something we've never seen in America, which are community cities standing up and saying to the federal government, we're not going to enforce the laws of the United States of America, putting their own citizens at risk, whether you're talking about Chicago or some of the other more liberal cities. It's something no one could have ever anticipated and I think the president in saying you're going to pay a price for this on the federal funds is a reasonable response, as perhaps other avenues are pursued, to enforce the laws of the United States of America. So I think this is a situation unlike anything we've ever seen with communities and officials that have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the United States doing just the opposite and actually bragging about it.

CUOMO: Right. Right. Well, just to be clear, municipalities don't often enforce federal law, right? This is a one-off situation in a couple of different ways. And mostly what you're dealing with here is poor coordination. This may be able to be fixed just with how they do procedures with timing with some of these cities and when you request somebody, how long you leave them in a local jail. Do you think this is the best way to go about it, pulling funding that may well hurt policing in those same cities, those same citizens you say you want to keep safe?

COLLINS: Well, the message is to the voters in some of these sanctuary cities that the people that they have voted and elected to serve them are not serving them and, in fact, are not enforcing the laws of the United States and it would be time to unseat these individuals in the next election. So I think it's a message because in every local municipality the dollars come first. And if you want to change policy, the quickest way to do it is through the purse strings.

And so that's what the president is doing. It tends to be very effective. And I think the main purpose here is to enforce the laws of the United States.

CUOMO: You OK letting the president take your responsibility about taxation and the monitoring (ph) there, too, in terms of how it goes to municipalities? This isn't an executive branch decision, it's a congressional branch decision. The law is clear on that. You're OK giving him this leeway?

COLLINS: In the case of sanctuary cities, yes, I am.

CUOMO: Where does it end? How about when he doesn't like the next set of monies that you put to a municipality and he decides to pull the strings because he doesn't like something that's going on there?

COLLINS: Well, you're into the hypothetical here and right now we're talking about sanctuary cities. I mean --

CUOMO: Well, we're seeing it play out in real-time, congressman. This is seen as a --

COLLINS: Well, we are.

CUOMO: This is seen as an overreach by the judge, right, that's why they shut down the order. But you're OK with that?

COLLINS: Well -- and we'll see when this is appealed how it plays out, much like the overreach of a judge claiming the Muslim input on the border where he never used the word Muslim in the order. So, again, I believe it's an overreach.

CUOMO: Right.

COLLINS: We can always agree to disagree and ultimately this will go up to probably the Supreme Court and we'll see what -- how that comes down.

CUOMO: Evidence of intent doesn't have to necessarily be in the actual executive order. We know that. His word calling this a weapon played with the judge. Him talking about a Muslim ban so often during the campaign played with those other judges.

Let me ask you about another topic. Mike Flynn. Do you believe he broke a law?

[08:35:04] COLLINS: Well, I don't know the details. I'm not on that committee. I am not somebody that's going to pile on, as many people know. I would call Mike Flynn a friend, somebody I have known. I am not someone that's going to pile on. He's resigned from the administration and certainly with General McMaster we've got a great replacement.

And so at this point in time, I don't know the details, Chris, and I feel bad personally for General Flynn. I certainly wish him the best. It appears, you know, he'll have some questions that he's going to have to answer going forward. But he's no longer part of the administration, and I'm not going to be one to pile on here.

CUOMO: I understand your personal sympathies. And to be clear, General Flynn has said he did nothing wrong through his attorneys. He says he disclosed this the way he need to. We'll see how that plays out.

But, congressman, the notion that because he resigned it no longer matters is silly, isn't it? If there's something here, it goes back to the White House and the accountability for who they put with the most important intelligence job, arguably, right next to the president. Doesn't that matter?

COLLINS: Well, as I understand the allegations, Chris, it has to do with some monies he received for giving a speech. I mean we just see, you know, right now President Obama getting $400,000 for giving a speech. He pulled in the --

CUOMO: Not for Russia.

COLLINS: No, people in the limelight get -- get paid for speeches.

CUOMO: Not from Russia, when Russia is being accused of interfering with the election and it's enough to warrant an FBI investigation and you make the man your head intelligence advisor and that's the same as President Obama giving a speech somewhere for money? Come on.

COLLINS: First of all, I'm saying people do give speeches and they are paid. The speeches that I understand, they occurred well before the election. And so how the rules are interpreted for former generals, somebody in the armed services, I'll leave that up to General Flynn and his attorneys to deal with. I don't think this is a question of national security whatsoever.

CUOMO: Well, it's inherently a question of national security, though, right, I mean because you at least own that if you take speeches and monies from Russia, it's different than taking it from somewhere else given the federal investigation that's going on right now.

COLLINS: Well, I view that if somebody gives a speech, they give a speech. They get in an airplane and they go home. That doesn't mean there's any --

CUOMO: But it matters to whom you're talking, right, who's paying you? Come on. That matters, congressman. It just does.

COLLINS: Well, I guess we'll, again, agree to disagree. I think most of these folks are giving the speeches to pay their bills or otherwise for the income that they give and it's not a question then that somebody's got an IOU that the next time they call you're going to do whatever is their bidding. In that case, I don't -- I don't make that linkage. So, again, we'll have to let this play out. General Flynn is not part of the administration and we'll just see how it all plays out.

CUOMO: And, of course, this is what led to his ouster in the first place.

Congressman Collins, appreciate you being on NEW DAY, as always.

COLLINS: OK. Any time. Thank you (ph), Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.


President Trump slamming another judge, saying that he is ready to take his fight to the Supreme Court. Who would win that battle?


[08:41:43] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

President Trump slamming another federal judge after the judge blocked the president from stripping federal funds from sanctuary cities.

CUOMO: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirming that President Trump will lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent as part of the reform plan the administration announces today.

CAMEROTA: House Republicans finalizing a new Obamacare repeal proposal that may win more support from the conservative Freedom Caucus. It is still unclear if that bill can pass the House.

CUOMO: The White House hosting the entire Senate today for a briefing about North Korea. It comes as the U.S. and South Korea took part in joint military drills, stirring up even more friction with the North. CAMEROTA: Another black eye for United Airlines after a giant rabbit

died on a flight from London to Chicago. Simon, a three-foot continental giant rabbit, was expected to grow to be the largest rabbit in the world. It is unclear what led to his death in the cargo hold. He was being delivered to a celebrity client in the U.S.


CUOMO: Did you know that rabbits get that big?

CAMEROTA: I did not know that. And the last giant rabbit I heard about was Harvey. But that's obviously a tragedy for the owner.

CUOMO: Yes. Sad to lose a pet. Tough timing for United.

CAMEROTA: Tough timing for United. Very good.

CUOMO: So more on the "Five Things to Know"? Well, go to for the latest and you will find it.

CAMEROTA: OK. What can the Trump administration do to get a win before day 100 of his administration? We're going to get "The Bottom Line" from Carl Bernstein, next.

CUOMO: But first, as a boy struggling with diabetes, Phil Southerland was told he was going to die young. But, he beat the odds, becoming a competitive cyclist and helping other diabetics along the way. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story in this "Turning Points."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Phil Southerland is a former professional cyclist. He's been racing uphill since the first year of his life.

PHIL SUTHERLAND, : At seven months old, mom took me to one doctor who said, your kid's got the flu. Come back in one week.

GUPTA: But within days, Phil's weight plummeted. His mom rushed him to the hospital.

SOUTHERLAND: The good news is, your son's going to live for now. You know, the bad news is, he has diabetes. He's got to take shots, insulin, and, you know, most likely he'll be dead by 25.

GUPTA: That death sentence didn't stop him. At 12 years old, Phil jumped on a bike.

SOUTHERLAND: I disobeyed some rules, finishing my way to the snack machine and I got a Snickers bar. Then I figured, OK, I don't want to wait two hours for my insulin to kick in. I do want to eat these candy bars. How can I do it? And so I road my bike through the streets in the neighborhood until my legs hurt again. So the bike gave me the discipline and motivation I needed to control diabetes.

GUPTA: In college, Phil got the idea to start a non-profit called Team Type One to empower other athletes with the disease.

SOUTHERLAND: I believe sport can be the unifying point for people with diabetes.

GUPTA: His goal, to have the first all diabetic cycling team race in the Tour de France by 2021. His other passion, helping diabetic kids in Rwanda get much needed medical supplies.

[08:45:00] SOUTHERLAND: I want every kid with diabetes to know that they are the hero, every person with diabetes to know that their dreams can come true.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.



CUOMO: The 100-day mark. You're hearing about it because it is upon us. It's just three days away. But the headlines for the Trump administration are not what they really hoped for at this point. You've got another federal judge halting another executive order, this one on sanctuary cities, while the White House itself is trying to distance itself from someone who couldn't have been closer to the president, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, accused now of maybe breaking the law. So, can Trump get another win this week?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein.

Where do you begin your bottom line?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's 100-day mark. It's a conventional way to measure the beginning of a presidency. And what's unusual about this situation is that Donald Trump, as president of the United States, has not changed as a man. Usually the presidency changes the person who comes to office, especially --

[08:50:05] CAMEROTA: In 100 days? I mean --


CAMEROTA: Is that right?

BERNSTEIN: Because of the learning curve. And what we've seen with Trump is, he's really the same often out of control, angry person. He still doesn't believe rules that apply to other people apply to him. Look at his conflicts of interest. Look at his family's conflicts of interest. Look at what the FBI now believes is a cover up in the White House about Russia, Flynn being central to that cover-up. The White House, Donald Trump, he calls it a witch hunt, rather than turning over the records that the FBI, the congressional investigators need. He also has his family in positions that no president of the United States would permit in terms of conflicts of interest of businesses.

So what we have -- and he also doesn't do his homework, which is key to understanding pre-presidential Donald Trump. You talk to people on "The Apprentice." They talk about how he comes to the set. He's not ready. He hasn't done the homework. We have to bring him up to speed. The same thing is happening in the White House. And a lot of people around him in the White House will tell you this is a real problem, a president of the United States who does not do his homework.

CUOMO: Well, the people around him in the White House have been a problem thus far also. He has not been well served by council, and I think that that's probably doubling down on his own -- his own situation.

BERNSTEIN: He also has some able people around him and those --

CUOMO: He does have some.

BERNSTEIN: And those --

CUOMO: But you look at what happened this week, Carl --

BERNSTEIN: But -- but, listen --

CUOMO: Who told him to get out in front of the health care vote and say it was going to happen?

BERNSTEIN: Look, he has had some advice that is -- look, he's got ideologues around him. He also has slash and burn associates, including members of his own family, although they're quiet about some of their slash and burn techniques.

Look, Donald Trump's whole life has been about winning and he doesn't give a damn how he gets there. It's one of the reasons he got elected. It's one of the reasons people like him who do. It's one of the reasons his following believe in him. He does not care how he gets from a to z. And what you see with the judiciary, OK, you know, slash and burn, condemn, tell the people who follow him that judges are out of line, rather than looking at his own rhetoric about immigrants, rather than looking at his own mere hate speech and then he walks it back and goes to a Jewish group or goes to a group and talks differently than his earlier hateful speech about immigrants, Mexicans, et cetera, Muslims. So the patterns are all there of his whole life. Donald Trump, as president, the same Donald Trump we've always seen.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about General Michael Flynn. He says in his defense that he did disclose that he took money from a speaking engagement in Russia and, as Chris has been pointing out, there's video of it all over the place. The White House probably knew that he had this relationship. Here's the video on everyone's screen. Do you think he committed a crime?

BERNSTEIN: Look, I think it's obvious that General Flynn is in up to his neck in terms not just of possible crimes involving his speeches and whether or not he registered as a foreign agent, which he should have and didn't there. He is central to what the FBI believes is a cover up going on among people close to the United States -- to the president of the United States about what happened with the Trump campaign and Russia. The FBI, the congressional investigators, are trying to learn what happened. And Flynn is almost like the ball of yarn that begins to unspool and is key to understanding it. And the White House, President Trump, calls it a witch hunt of Flynn. It's not a witch hunt. He is impeding. The president is impeding these investigations by not turning over and saying to his people, give all those records about Flynn to the FBI. Give them to the congressional investigators.

Now, you have a situation today, a new deputy attorney general of the United States takes office. He's been confirmed by Congress. He's known as a real straight shooter. And he is going to go in and look at the facts now that Sessions, the attorney general, as recused himself, and he is going to see, oh, my God, there's a cover up going on. The question is, what is Mr. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, going to do?

CUOMO: So you think it's going to go that way, that the disposition -- the recalcitrance of the White House thus far to either give over information or own the accountability will be a crime?

BERNSTEIN: Let me -- let me say something about -- about -- no. Let me -- let me say something about when I say -- the White House has obstructed these investigations, including the FBI investigation. But that doesn't mean in terms of a legal obstruction of justice. It means, for practical purposes, the agents, and those at the top of the FBI, believe the White House is keeping them from learning what they need to know. And Flynn is central to that. Flynn's activities are central. His communications with the president, et cetera, central, and that's what the White House, Trump, is not allowing to be turned over.

[08:55:12] CAMEROTA: Carl Bernstein, great to get your perspective, as always. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, it's Wednesday, hump day. How about some "Good Stuff"?

CAMEROTA: Let's do that.

CUOMO: Next.


CUOMO: All right. A "Good Stuff" for you.

A young girl's wish to play the violin comes true thanks to a bunch of college kids. The story, Isabella Nicola, born without a left hand. So, five bioengineering students at George Mason University, they hear about this. They make a prosthetic for her.


ISABELLA NICOLA: Very happy and very blessed that I have this amazing group of people that have helped me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: The process of making the attachment started last fall and finished in a 3-D printer. Isabella can play the violin all she wants.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making an immediate impact on someone's life, it's just -- it's just a very good feeling.


CUOMO: There she is playing.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that is so beautiful. And her gratitude is so beautiful. You know, that's the secret to being happy in life, Oprah says.

[09:00:00] CUOMO: Yes. And you've got to love it and you've got to love the initiative, you know? They want to help. They have a capacity and they help somebody, put it to use. Beautiful.

CAMEROTA: OK, time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman.

Good morning, guys.

CUOMO: Speaking of beautiful.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning beautiful people. Thank you.