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Carter Page Speaks to CNN; Interview with Congressman Peter King of New York on Russia Investigation; Interview with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 27, 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] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It fuels speculation enough such that the DOJ went and got a warrant to surveil you.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Chris, there -- I could talk for hours going through each of the falsehoods that were just outlined. And again, you talk about being unwitting or not really understanding what's going on. I understand based on all the false evidence and the false narrative that's been out there the reason why this is the current public perception. Just read that book "Shattered" about the losing campaign.

CUOMO: Yes, I have -- about what happened to Clinton's campaign, right?

PAGE: Yes. Page 395 talks about all the specifics and that gives a lot of what the major drivers are. So --

CUOMO: But there's -- but there's nothing in there about targeting Carter Page unfairly. EverythingI just said to you is a fact about who you talked to and how they wound up being Russian operatives, and that they say they were trying to work you, and that was the basis of a lot of the speculation. It wasn't simply politics. And we still wind up in the same place, which are people are asking you the same questions and instead of answering the questions you talk about bad motivations on the other side. You say that Clinton's coming after you -- or was coming after you because you're Catholic and male. That doesn't make sense to anybody, does it?

PAGE: Well, again, if you -- not directly targeting me but, again, page 395 of "Shattered" talks about targeting the new administration. And again, you know, you add David Chalian and others talking about polling numbers this morning and without question, this could which has been out there for many, many months, going back to even before the election, has been a major drag on the administration.

CUOMO: So --

PAGE: Again, based entirely on lies, Chris.

CUOMO: So if your initiative -- if part of your initiative is to be fair to the Trump campaign, then answer some of these questions. Did you ever work with Flynn or know him or communicate with him about Russian policy? PAGE: Never.

CUOMO: Did you --

PAGE: I never had the opportunity to meet him.

CUOMO: Did you ever give the president, directly as candidate or otherwise, advice or guidance about Russian policy?

PAGE: Never directly, no.

CUOMO: Did you ever coordinate your trip to Russia with any member of the Trump campaign staff or administration?

PAGE: I was not representing the Trump campaign. I was there as a private citizen. Again, along the lines of what President Obama suggested, being active in politics -- or in political issues. But I was not representing anyone other than myself and my own private views, so --

CUOMO: Did you coordinate or communicate the details of your trip or that you were going with any member of the Trump campaign or administration?

PAGE: I never -- again, none of those details -- they knew I was going but nothing was --

CUOMO: How did they know?

PAGE: It was -- again, I don't talk about internal discussions.

CUOMO: But it matters. It matters because the suggestion is they knew you were going. If they knew you were going they must have had an interest in you going. If they had an interest in your going, did they coordinate anything that you said there which was inherently destructive to American policy?

PAGE: Absolutely not. Nothing I said was destructive to American policy, Chris. I talked about mutual --

CUOMO: Well, you agreed with the Russia reckoning that America has been condescending and on the wrong track where Russia is involved. That is not just the opposite of what American policy is but it is also critical and attacking of the current state of play.

PAGE: I think that's an overstatement, Chris. I actually was focusing on mutual respect and how a new approach in foreign policy could have a positive impact on the future of U.S. -- the U.S.' position in the world. This was a very pro-American speech, having a better approach to --

CUOMO: The language does not read pro-Russian and you know that, no matter what your intentions might have been. On the Russian side, they say your being a known adviser to the president was a major factor in extending the invitation. Were you aware of that?

PAGE: No. Listen, I think you're probably referring to a comment by one of the media people at the university.

CUOMO: Right.

PAGE: Not -- again, I've spoken at major Russian universities going back over a decade about my research so there is nothing out of the ordinary. And really, the whole media firestorm --

CUOMO: Well, hold on a second. Hold on a second.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The person said it for a reason. What I'm saying is, do you think it's not true that they thought you were a Trump adviser and that that was part of the appeal in having you come to that particular university?

[08:05:07]

PAGE: It may -- it may have been part of the interest, but I think, you know, it's a -- people are --

CUOMO: But if it was part of the interest -- here's why I'm asking. Here's why I'm asking. If you acknowledge that this is what the media person said and it was part of the interest, didn't you have a responsibility to say to them, don't invite me to the university if you're doing it because I'm a Trump adviser because I'm not. I was at one meeting. I sent them some emails. I don't have any access to the president. I'm not a policy adviser. But you didn't say any of those things.

PAGE: No, and actually though, to the contrary, Chris. I was very clear on multiple occasions that, again, I am just there as a private citizen and this is not a major driver as to the reason why I'm there or -- I'm just talking about my research and things I've done over a long time. And I think, in general, last year there was an interest in U.S. perspectives in general, and whether any affiliations I may have had on the side just as an informal, unpaid adviser, which I made very clear to them throughout, was not a factor.

And again, it's a big distraction from the real crimes and the real influence on the election, which was the civil rights violations. And a lot of the exact approaches with the propaganda which went into this, and -- not only feeding false information to the private media -- media institutions like CNN, but even government propaganda networks in the U.S., such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, which recited information from the dodgy dossier in going from September through November.

CUOMO: Well, but that's because --

PAGE: Again, this is a $100 million -- this is a $100 million a year taxpayer-funded initiative, so --

CUOMO: Well, but remember, there are sources within our intelligence agencies that are looking at the information in the dossier and they have found some of it to be credible and reliable, and that's what has been leaking out. You know, at the end of the day, a leak is only as good as the truth of what comes out of it. That is what's going to be assessed here.

Carter Page, appreciate your side of the story.

PAGE: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Chris. Joining us now is Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He is a member of the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm well. So I know you were listening intently to the interview there with Carter Page. What did you hear that was new?

KING: Actually, I guess a lot of it was new because he seems to be going in different directions. I'd just like to say upfront I'm not aware of any evidence so far of any collusion between the Trump campaign and any Russian agency. And Carter Page -- my understanding is that Donald Trump has never even spoken to him, never had a conversation with him. I think he was at maybe one meeting of the campaign. And I -- so again, whatever he's saying, he's saying on his own. That as far as I know had no connection at all to the Trump campaign.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, do you believe some of the things that he just said. He said every word of the dossier is a joke, and he said that he never met any of the people in there. He had never said a word to any of them. So you take him at his word?

KING: I have really no way of knowing. And, to me, again since he was not a part of the campaign, since he had no connection to Donald Trump, to me, unless somebody can show that there was a connection between what he was doing in the Trump campaign, I -- to me it's almost irrelevant as far as the investigation is concerned, you know, what Carter Page was doing. Because, again, I have not seen any link between the campaign and Russia. And Carter Page, again, he was talking about a lot of things today. I have no way of knowing if they're true or not, but none of it ties the campaign into -- you know, the Trump campaign into any either Russian intelligence, Russian government, of any plot to collude with the campaign.

CAMEROTA: So Carter Page is not someone who you, on the House Intelligence Committee, would be interested in interviewing?

KING: Oh, no. Listen, his name is there, obviously, and since his name has come up, I would think, and I can't speak for the full committee, but I would think Carter Page would have to be a witness before the committee, absolutely, to see if there is anything more there. But I'm saying based on what he was saying to Chris, and he seemed to

be going in different directions, I don't see into how any of it tied either Donald Trump or his campaign to Russia or to any element of collusion.

But, no, listen, his name is there and, as Chris pointed out, it's been leaked out that there was a FISA warrant. Obviously Carter Page will be questioned by the staff members, both the staff members of both the Democrats and the Republicans, and I assume he'll come before the full committee. I have no problem with that.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, why haven't you all interviewed him yet since there was a FISA warrant?

KING: Oh, first of all, the investigation is going behind the scenes right now for obvious reasons, and this is going to be a very slow, steady, but very important investigation. To me, usually a person like Carter Page whose name is prominent -- there's Carter Page, Roger Stone, Manafort -- they're usually the last ones that you interview. What you do is you get all the information before that, you get all the details that you can, you talk to any other possible witnesses before you go to the people whose names have been prominently mentioned.

CAMEROTA: OK, that makes sense, because here is what we know is on your agenda next week. You're interviewing FBI director James Comey, National Security Agency director Mike Rogers, the former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

What are you hoping to get out of them? What is the burning question for you?

KING: Well, to me, first of all, in a public hearing we're not going to get very much out because anything that's pertinent would be classified and would have to be given in a private session.

We've already had meetings with all of them except for Sally Yates. We've met with Comey, we've met with Rogers, we've met with Brennan, we've met with Clapper a number of times in executive sessions, private sessions. And so I don't know really what more we can get out of it at this stage. I mean, what I would be asking General Clapper (INAUDIBLE) publicly as far as he knew as Director of National Intelligence, there's no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. As far as John Brennan -- again, I have to watch what I say because we've had a number of executive session hearings. All I can tell you -- behind closed doors. All I can tell you is I have not seen any evidence yet that links the Trump campaign to Russia.

CAMEROTA: So even not -- even not with General Michael Flynn.

KING: Not as far as any collusion, no. Not at all.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, you know that he was speaking to the Russians, but you're saying that wasn't to the benefit of the Trump campaign? KING: No. There's no evidence that I've seen yet. Now, there may be

something there, but I have not seen it. And it was no secret that General Flynn had been in Russia. There were pictures of him with Putin. And, again, the fact that he was talking to Russia, I mean, you can also show links between I'm sure the Clinton campaign and Russia. Almost all of us on Capitol Hill at some time or another met the Russian ambassador and met Russian officials, as we meet Chinese officials, Japanese officials, the Palestinians. We go through the whole gamut.

The question is was there any evidence of collusion. So far I haven't seen it. But I have an open mind. Listen, if something comes up, I'll be the first to talk about it. I'm just saying right now I have not seen any significant -- any evidence at all showing any type of collusion.

CAMEROTA: OK, quickly, another hot spot obviously, North Korea. You know about the meeting over at the White House.

KING: Right.

CAMEROTA: Have you learned anything new on what's happening or what the plan is for North Korea?

KING: Actually, the House had the meeting last night in the Capitol. I guess it was a similar meeting as they had at the White House. We had Secretary Tillerson and General Mattis come in.

Not really. But again I'm on the Intel Committee, so we've been getting information involving North Korea prior to this, which probably went, you know, a little beyond what was told at the briefing yesterday.

No, this is a serious situation, very serious. I think it is important that the administration bring in members of the House and the Senate to keep them apprised of where they are, allow them to ask questions. But as far as anything dramatically new, no.

CAMEROTA: Why have you -- can I just get your reaction to the tax plan that the White House has put out? It would be a tax cut, obviously, for corporations and for some of the highest income earners. But what analysts have said and economists have said that it would actually hurt blue states, it would hurt New York, your state, because you would no longer be able to deduct state and local taxes, which are quite high in New York. Are you on board with this tax plan?

KING: I am not on board with that aspect of it, no. I would have to oppose any tax cut which takes away the deduction for property taxes and state income tax. And my direct in particular, I'm on Long Island, almost the main asset that most people have is their home. These are modest (INAUDIBLE) homes, but their property taxes are very high. The state income tax is very high. And so, to them, it would be a net loss, the -- this new tax plan.

Having said that, I support the overall concept of tax cuts, of reducing brackets. I think that's important. I do believe in growth economics. But as far as the particulars of the deductions involving property tax and state income tax, I would have to strongly oppose that.

CAMEROTA: OK, Congressman Peter King, thank you very much for all the (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Thank you, Alisyn.

Xx

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:18:18] CUOMO: Russian interference in the election has a lot of different tentacles to it and one of the main ones is, was there proof of collusion between Russian operative and the Trump campaign and now administration?

We just heard the Republican Congressman Peter King said he has seen no proof of it to this point. He's on the House Intel Committee. They just put out their witness list for their Russia probe.

Our guest on the show, Carter Page, a man at the center of that investigation is on that list.

So, let's get some more perspective on what we've heard from the two of them from the top Democrat on the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Congressman, always good to see you.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: No proof -- no proof Peter King says. I have seen no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Carter Page says the allegations are laughable. What do you say?

SCHIFF: Well, Carter Page is a person of interest to the community and probably likely to come before the committee, so I don't want to comment on anything he's had to say in particular.

But I do think we need to get to the bottom of these allegations of collusion or coordination. I have to disagree with my colleague in terms of whether there is any evidence of collusion. I believe that there is.

But nonetheless, this is something we need to investigate. I think there was a reason why the FBI began its investigation and why it continues that investigation. I don't think it is something the FBI does without any basis. But that's about as much as I can say without going into particulars.

I will say this, I think it would be deeply irresponsible of us not to follow the facts where they led, to do it objectively and not predetermine a conclusion. But there's certainly as we have seen from many of the public reports, ample reason to do this investigation.

[08:20:01] CUOMO: Concern politically if there winds up being no real proof that is actionable on a prosecution basis about the campaign or the administration and Russian operatives that will be seen as a failure and a ruse?

SCHIFF: Well, it shouldn't be seen as a failure if we do our jobs and we follow the facts wherever they lead and we reach a unified conclusion. We shouldn't go into this with the object we want to score this political point or that political point or we want to come up ultimately with a certain conclusion.

We'll be doing our job if we thoroughly investigate this and if we can reach a sound determination about what happened, what the Russians did, the different levers the Russians pulled. We know the Russians used a variety of techniques to interfere with elections in Europe. They used some here. And we want to find out everything the Russians did. I think that is what we ought to do responsibly.

I would say also, though, I think what would give the public the greatest confidence in addition to what we're doing is if we had a truly independent commission that was well resourced and could be completely removed from any political consideration. I think that will be a supplement to what we do and not instead of what we're doing.

CUOMO: Well, you raise an interesting issue, which is about how will the people find satisfaction? You know, there is argument to be made you shouldn't be dealing with the collusion issue. That is a potentially criminal matter. You should stick with the DOJ, and the FBI and they are theoretically looking into it. You should be dealing with Russian interference, what happened to the political system, how we can combat it, how we do better in the next election.

What do you make of that suggestion?

SCHIFF: Well, I think long has a responsibility to find out what the Russians did. They have a number of techniques. They've used -- in Europe, for example, they have used blackmail. They have used compromising material. They have used financial entanglement.

They've used hacking. They've used dumping. They've used paid media trolls. Some of those devices, we know they used here. Others we need to investigate.

But, yes, we're not the prosecutors. Ultimately, the information we get, we may refer to the Justice Department. Of course, the FBI is doing its own investigation. But I don't think that means that we artificially wall off part of our oversight and say we're not going to look at these strategies the Russians may have used. I think we need to look at it all. CUOMO: One last sum-up on this and then I want to ask you about

taxes. Can you say with confidence at this point that it is premature for people to say there is going to be no proof of collusion?

SCHIFF: Yes. It's certainly premature. One of the challenges we have, Chris, in the investigation is, there are members of the Gang of Eight in the committee that have received certain information and then there's the rest of the committee members. And what I have been urging the FBI is share the information that the Gang of Eight has received with the full committee, so that we're all on the same page, we're all doing the same investigation. But that's an issue that has yet to be resolved.

CUOMO: The tax wish list is just one page, but it's already going to be a smack in the face to districts and constituencies like your own in California because other than growth as a result of tax cuts, the way to pay for this wish list is to stop the deductibility of state and local taxes. That's going to go hard for the big states with the big tax burden like yours.

What is your take on the possibility of that passing?

SCHIFF: Well, I think a lot of states like New York and California that have invested a lot in public services stand to lose a great deal with this particular tax plan. And really it's a blow from two directions. On the one hand, if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act and they essentially do away with a lot of the Medicaid support, people's access to health care who are poor or working class families and at the same time, they do away with the state's ability to back fill and provide those supportive services, it is going to be crushing to the states.

And the new iteration of the Republican health care bill makes that problem worse because it says, you know, these guaranteed provisions in terms of your health care plan will go away or they'll be at the whim of states and now we're saying and the states aren't going to have the money to do it.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHIFF: So, essentially, you put the two together, it is taking people's health care away from them to give people who are doing quite well already a massive tax cut. I think that's bad for all the states, not just the big states.

CUOMO: So, do you believe that this waiver and promise of more choice is a bait and switch? That they're going to give the states more control under the Republican health care plan but they're not going to give them the money that they need.

SCHIFF: Oh, that's absolutely the case. What they're going to give the states is the opportunity to deny people if they have pre-existing conditions and deny them other essential forms of coverage.

But this is the way they try to put a band-aid over it and try to say, well, we're not doing away with people's ability to get health care if they have pre-existing conditions. We're just going to price it above their ability to pay. And the way we are going to bring down premiums is take people who really need health care and say you are out of luck, but for everybody who is healthy, your premiums will go down.

[08:25:08] That's really not a prescription for a healthy nation. But I think that's the bill of goods they're trying to sell.

CUOMO: Congressman, thank you for being on NEW DAY and good luck in your quest for clarity. Be well.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: The president's wish list on taxes making big promises but thin on details. So, we're going to get the bottom line on what it means, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The Trump administration unveiling its tax cut wish list. It is big on promises, thin on details at the moment. So, will this actually happen?

Let's get the bottom line with CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic", Ron Brownstein.

Ron, let's put up what we do know thus far.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Right.

CAMEROTA: As kinds of headlines of this -- 15 percent tax rate for businesses, corporations. That's down from 35 percent. They want to keep money here, rather than going offshore. Three individual tax brackets instead of seven. They say that will simplify things.

Doubles the standard deduction for children and ends estate tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax and many tax breaks.

So, what do you see here?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think the lack of detail is pretty revealing in itself.