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FBI Director To Testify; Yates to Testify on Flynn; Senate Russia Briefing; Mirna Valerio's Turning Points Story; Clinton on 2016 Loss; Trump Responds in Tweets; Kimmel's Emotional Plea. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:27] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In about 90 minutes, Senate Democrats are expected to grill FBI Director James Comey about his role in the 2016 race and Russia's meddling in the election.

Let's bring in CNN national security analyst General Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and the NSA.

It's good to have you with us, general.


CUOMO: And Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did Jim Comey no favors this morning. They put him back in the crosshairs for both parties. What do you expect out of Comey on The Hill today?

HAYDEN: Well, first of all, Chris, let me say this is the kind of morning where I wake up and say, thank God I'm a former senior intelligence official, because Director Comey is going in there with a prescheduled routine annual state of the bureau presentation to its oversight committee, and he's walking into a political firestorm. I mean, the Republicans are going to beat him up about leaks. The Democrats are going to beat him up about everything else.

Now, I've been in those circumstances, but I've got to tell you, Jim's got a problem that I never had. President Bush always had my back. And with regard to what's happened in the last 24 hours, Jim must feel like he's in no man's land, taking fire from both trench lines.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's a good perspective, general, for us to keep in mind as we watch this unfold today. Can he provide any information on Russia that we don't yet know?

HAYDEN: I would be surprised if Jim says anything surprising. Look, he's got an investigation underway. He's going to keep that very close hold. He may tell us a few more things, particularly in response to very specific questions from members, but I think his going in position is to keep the privacy of the investigation protected so that he does not compromise that very investigation.

[08:35:15] CUOMO: What's your take on who's more right about Comey? Did he crush Clinton's chances by coming out in unorthodox fashion to address Congress with these two letters about her investigation, or is Trump right, that he gave her a complete pass?

HAYDEN: Look, he was in absolutely uncharted territory. He was absolutely off the map for any former FBI director's experience. And so Jim made the best decisions he could, again, in unprecedented circumstances. Now, looking back, I have a right to second guess, but it's genuinely second guessing. And I do think the things he did have an effect on the election. It is an effect that we don't know and, in fact, Chris, it's an effect that's unknowable. So we should just stop talking about it because it doesn't lead to any positive action.

CAMEROTA: But should he have sent that letter ten days before the election?

HAYDEN: If you're asking me my opinion as a citizen --


HAYDEN: I would say no. But, again, the poor man was in a space that no one had ever been in before and he was trying to protect the integrity of the election, the integrity of the FBI, and, frankly, the integrity of his communications with Congress.

CUOMO: One of the names that might well come up today is that of General Michael Flynn. You know him.


CUOMO: What is your take about what people should know about who he is as a man and what is your take on the allegations?

HAYDEN: I would, first of all, begin by saying that at the operational and tactical level, Mike Flynn was a world-class intelligence officer, and he made America proud by all the things he did to enable Stan McCrystal to have that successful campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership. Now, I've never thought that Mike was a particularly good fit for the national security advisor job and I do think he made some mistakes, probably missteps would probably be a better word in that conversation with Sergey Kislyak and, frankly, with the ongoing relationship with a company tied closely to the Turkish government, even while he was considered a prime candidate for national security adviser. I suspect that in retrospect Mike regrets having done that.

CAMEROTA: We have some information that Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, will be speaking on Monday to the Senate and she'll be testifying and, in particular, about what she tried to warn the Trump White House about Michael Flynn and the timeline seems maybe different than what the Trump White House has said, that she gave -- had weeks where she tried to warn them.

CUOMO: The intensity of purpose that she had. That it wasn't just a heads-up. She was telling them, this is a problem, you have to deal with this. CAMEROTA: Great point. They've called it a heads-up and it was more

than that. Do you think that they should have gotten rid of him sooner?

HAYDEN: Look, I'm -- we've got conflicting narratives here of exactly what was said at what point with what intensity. I'm shading in the direction of Ms. Yates. When the attorney general, even the acting attorney general, calls the White House counsel and says, I've got to talk to you, that should be a tectonic event and it should have caused, I think, more dramatic response within the White House, even given the reality that they were still looking for their desks and chairs, this was very early on in the administration, someone should have picked up that this is a big deal just by the very fact that the attorney general wants to talk to us.

CUOMO: The fact that the Senate got loaded into busses and going over to the CIA headquarters, you're old haunt (ph), to get a specific briefing about Russia, how should we view this type of event?

HAYDEN: I -- Chris, I think we should view it as unalloyed good news. Now, look, I think Director Comey, Director Clapper, Director Coats, Director Pompeo are great officers in their positions, but they're political appointees. Now you've got the members of the Senate taking the bus up the George Washington Parkway, going to Langley, looking at the documents and talking to the intelligence professionals out there who have no political dog in this fight. And so I think that's a giant step forward so that the members of the Senate now get the true analysis, the true feeling, the gut instincts of the people who actually do this kind of work.

CUOMO: General Michael Hayden, appreciate the perspective, as always.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We're always smarter for having spoken to you. Thank you very much, general.

All right, now we are following some breaking news for you. There is rising flood waters and it's leaving neighborhoods in Missouri under water, as you can see on your screen. Why things could get worse. We have an update, next.


[08:43:54] CAMEROTA: Time now for "Five Things To Know For Your New Day."

Number one, Republicans making a final push to pass their health care reform bill. Right now they do not have enough votes at this hour. The issue of pre-existing conditions remains a key sticking point.

CUOMO: FBI Director James Comey about to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing is not about the bureaus' Russia probe, but guess what, senators are going to ask about it anyway.

CAMEROTA: And sources tell CNN that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates will contradict the Trump White House about Michael Flynn when she testifies before that Senate committee next week.

CUOMO: Three American troops among the dozens injured in a suicide attack near the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Eight people killed. ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack.

CAMEROTA: And we do have this breaking news out of Missouri. Flood waters shutting down roads, drenching many suburban, St. Louis neighborhoods. More rain is expected in the area today.

CUOMO: If you want more on the "Five Things to Know," go to You'll get the latest.

CAMEROTA: So, can the Democrat Party move pass the 216 race with Hillary Clinton reopening that wound? David Axelrod joins us with "The Bottom Line," next.

[08:45:02] CUOMO: But first, for many people, obesity can be a family trait that stops them from living an active lifestyle. But one Georgia woman took control of her destiny by running away from stereotypes. Here's her story in today's "Turning Points."


MIRNA VALERIO: I have always been a big girl. Most people in my family are big and it was never an issue.

In 2008, I had a health care. I started having pains in my chest. They were sharp, very, very intense. I didn't know if I was having a heart attack. It turned out that I wasn't, but the doctors in the E.R. told me point blank that I needed to change my lifestyle or I wasn't going to live to see my son grow up.

I knew exactly what I had to do. I knew that it would involve running. So that's what I did. Today I'll do one mile. Tomorrow I'll try to do one and a half miles. And then 5ks led to 10ks and then half marathons. And in those first couple of months, I lost 27 points. I do marathons, ultra marathons. The longest race I've ever run was 100k, which is 62 miles.

I have a blog called Fat Girl Running. I started it because I just wanted to share what I was experiencing as a runner in a big body. People say things to me like, you're a big girl, are you sure you should be running? And so I wrote about those things, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people.

I'm a teacher. That's my job. I'm also the head coach of the varsity cross country team. I think most people who are my size in athletic pursuit, there is a joy in what we do and we love to spread that joy.



[08:50:52] CUOMO: All right. We're seeing Trump versus Clinton again. This time they're sparring in dueling statements about the outcome of the 2016 election, what caused it. How much responsibility do you think Hillary Clinton needs to take for why she lost?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" from CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.

It's very interesting. People took what Clinton said very different ways. Some heard her saying, it's on me. It's on me. But let's not ignore what Comey did and all that stuff. Other people heard her push it away from herself and more on others. What did you hear?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let me say that the 2016 race was a miserable slog and nobody in America is eager to re-litigate it except the combatants who keep going back to it. But beyond that, what I -- look, she has a legitimate beef because Comey's letter was instrumental, I think, in her defeat. So in a narrow sense she is right about it. But Jim Comey didn't tell her not to campaign in Wisconsin after the convention. Jim Comey didn't say, don't put any resources into Michigan until the final week of the campaign.

And one of the things that hindered her in the campaign was a sense that she never fully was willing to take responsibility for her mistakes, particularly that server. And, you know, so if I were her, if I were advising her, I would say, don't do this. Don't go back and appear like -- as if you're shifting responsibility off of your -- she said the words "I'm responsible," but the -- everything else suggested that she doesn't really feel that way. And I don't think that -- that helps her in the long-run. So if I were her, I would move on.

CAMEROTA: Let's listen to it for one second because I heard something else in there in addition to what you're saying. So, let's listen.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot. And I am very aware of, you know, the challenges, the problems, the, you know, short falls that we had.

Did we make mistakes? Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes. You know, you'll read my confession and my requests for absolution. But the reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last ten days.


CAMEROTA: David, what do you think about the theory that she didn't go further there and sort of flesh it out because she has a book coming out and she says, you'll read my confessions and my requests for absolution, as in like, you know, that's -- stay tuned, that's coming up in her book.

AXELROD: Well, look, I think she would have been well served to just stop at the -- before she got to, but the reason I lost. It takes a lot of work to lose to Donald Trump, let me tell you. He was the least popular presidential candidate to win in the history of polling. And so it wasn't just the Comey letter. The fact that she was in a position to lose because of the Comey letter is something that deserves some introspection. And maybe it will come in her book. But if I were her, I would just -- if she's got a book coming out, let the book speak for itself and don't get involved in these sidebar conversations.

CUOMO: You know, what do you think about Trump taking the bait and the way that he took the bait, trashing Comey again, saying that the Russia questions are irrelevant again. Does that help him?

AXELROD: Well, look, I -- he knew Comey was testifying today. I'm sure he wanted to use it as an opportunity to go back at this. He is frantic on this subject. And every time it comes up, he's very reactive. She gave him another opportunity to do it.

And, you know, I think with everybody action and every tweet that this White House takes, they draw more suspicion on themselves and, you know, but I think we're well passed talking about whether a tweet was prudent or not on the part of the president. I mean he is the mad tweeter and he'll continue to do what he's doing.

[08:55:00] CAMEROTA: David, let's talk about something that we know is near and dear to your heart, and that, of course, is the health care debate.

AXELROD: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: As well as the pre-existing condition coverage.


CAMEROTA: What do you think? I mean you have -- you spoke very candidly and honestly about your having had a daughter who did have a pre-existing condition.


CAMEROTA: What do you think about the Jimmy Kimmel effect and the fact that this has kind of gripped the country in what's going to happen with this health care bill?

AXELROD: When I saw Jimmy Kimmel's very moving presentation, you know, narrative of what happened to him and his child and his plea that we make sure that kids with pre-existing conditions are covered regardless of how much money you have, I said, this could be the crushing blow to the efforts that are going on in the House to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The big issue there is pre-existing conditions, which cuts across lines of race, party, class, geography. Every family in America and everyone in America knows someone, if not in their family than in a neighbor's family, who has gone through these horrible, horrible experiences with pre-existing conditions before the Affordable Care Act took hold and gave people coverage that they needed.

And so I think Jimmy Kimmel really put a human face on that issue. And if I were a wavering member of the Republican caucus in Congress, I'd see that and say, you know what, I'm not walking the plank on this one.

CUOMO: And anybody who says the MacArthur amendment keeps pre-existing conditions safe is kidding themselves.

CAMEROTA: We'll see what happens today with the count. David Axelrod --

AXELROD: Well, Fred Upton made that point yesterday, and that was the death nail, I thought, because he's a senior member of the Congress and he made that very point.

CAMEROTA: Well, we'll see what happens today with the White House's persuasion tactics. But in the meantime, thanks for "The Bottom Line, David.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman picks up after this very quick break. See you tomorrow.


[09:00:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman. Poppy is on assignment this morning.