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Trump Considers More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan; White House Tries to Blame Obama for Flynn Scandals; Kimmel Fires Back at Critics of Health Care Monologue. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 9, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:18] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump considering a plan to bolster the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. The move would add 3,000 to 5,000 troops -- more troops. This is part of a larger shift in strategy, which calls for fighting the Taliban with the same intensity the U.S. is fighting ISIS.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Phoenix police say they have a man they believe went on a year-long shooting spree, killing nine people at close range. A tip leading them to 23-year-old Aaron Salcedo. Detectives say they were able to link the suspect to the shootings by analyzing surveillance video and ballistic evidence including a gun that he had pawned.

CAMEROTA: There's another airline confrontation to tell you about. This one between frustrated Spirit Airlines passengers and sheriff's deputies. This was caught on cell phone video after the airlines cancelled nine flights at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Several people, as you can see, were led away in handcuffs.

Spirit has canceled more than 300 flights in the last week. They blame it on a legal dispute with the pilots association.

CUOMO: Look, now because of what happened on United --


CUOMO: -- people are sensitized to being abused potentially in these situations.


CUOMO: And then you have on the other side, very often, innocent actors on the part of the airlines where they're just overbooked or in a jam. They have to do their job.

CAMEROTA: That's right. But passengers, you're right, do feel sort of mad as hell, not going to take it anymore at this point.

CUOMO: Yes, and sometimes things are cumulative, right? You feel like you've been getting kicked around by the airlines for a long time, fair or unfair. Now, this is what we have.

President Obama personally warned President Trump not to hire Michael Flynn. That's what we have heard from multiple officials. The White House is responding by blaming the Obama administration for the Michael Flynn mess.

Do they have a case? Let's debate. You decide, next.



[06:37:08] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The question that you have to ask yourself really was if President Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn, why didn't he suspend General Flynn's security clearance, which they have just reapproved months earlier?

Additionally, why did the Obama administration let Flynn go to Russia for a paid speaking engagement and receive a fee? There were steps that they could have taken, that -- if that was truly a concern more than just a person that didn't -- had bad blood.


CUOMO: That's the answer from the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about everything that was learned in the Yates testimony -- blame it on the Obama administration for renewing the security clearance for now fired national security advisor Michael Flynn. This defense coming after these revelations that the White House and President Trump received multiple warnings that Flynn could be a liability and did nothing for 18 days.

Let's bring in CNN political commentators Jen Psaki and Jason Miller. Jen is the former White House communications director for President Obama. Jason is the former senior communications advisor for Donald Trump's campaign.

Jen Psaki, this is your fault. Just own it and let's have an early breakfast.


JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Chris. I'm ready for some coffee. Sounds good. We're all done.

Look, I think the situation here has been distorted at best. President Obama had some serious concerns, as many in the national security community did, about the competence and preparedness of General Flynn to do the job. Not only had he been fired, but he was somebody who didn't show a master of management. He was somebody who created chaos. And that's the information he was providing to President Trump.

It was not partisan. In fact, it was something that, you know, for the purpose of continuity of government, he felt was the right thing to convey. So, it's unfortunate that it's reached this level of discourse, but the fact is he was right, and the concerns from the national security community were right, because just a few months later, he was somebody lying to the vice president of the United States and misleading people about his conversations with the Russians.

CUOMO: Point of clarification -- Jason Miller was not in the administration at this point, so these were not things that went on that Jason got to judge or make a decision about how to handle them. So, in that context, Jason, would you have handled this the way the White House is handling it right now?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's tough to say exactly how I would have handled it from the aspect of we weren't in there and we didn't see exactly the same thing they were seeing. I think it's important to go and unpack a little bit what it is that we're seeing here.

When President Obama made his recommendation to President Trump, keep in mind, this is only three days after President Obama was out there campaigning against President Trump. And so, then, to pivot and say, well, here's who you should and shouldn't bring into the administration I think is a bit farfetched to go and make such a pivot.

Now, when we take the January time frame in particular, the thing that's also important to remember that we had an Obama appointee in Sally Yates who was then coming forward and saying here's this information. I think the White House at this stage of the presidency had to take a step back and go through all the information and really analyze it themselves.

[06:40:05] If they had just rushed out to an immediate judgment without going through it, I think that would have been reckless.

And the other thing, Chris, to keep in mind, too, is that the early reports at the time, and keep in mind, we haven't seen the full transcript -- but the early reports at the time said there was much more of a gray area, that it wasn't crystal clear as to what exactly had transpired. And so, I think the administration was right to go and take their time here and ultimately they came to the right decision.

CUOMO: How is it -- how is it gray, though, when you had Sally Yates come with a senior official who was privy to the intel and tell you twice this guy lied to you about what was said with this ambassador? We're afraid that they know he lied and he could be blackmailed. He could be vulnerable. What's gray about that?

MILLER: Well, two things I have to point out here. Number one, I think it's important to point out to folks at home that when they talk about how General Flynn could have been compromised, they were talking specifically about whether or not he had misled Vice President Pence in information he passed along. I think its important to point out the fact that this had nothing to do with allegations of some so- called coordination between the campaign and some foreign entity. Now, when we talk about what was actually in that transcript, again, I'm relying purely on public reporting from the time, it says it wasn't entirely clear what was said in that conversation, and I think that's -- the White House was smart to go through and actually do their own homework on this.

CUOMO: Well, when you say they did their own homework, do you know how vetted Flynn was? Do you know if they ever had discussions with him about work he did for Turkey, about the $45,000, about the paid speech? Because as you know, he never acknowledged the payment of the speech during his earlier clearance conversations that Sean Spicer is pointing to as the real measure of authenticity here.

Do you know what was done to vet Flynn?

MILLER: So, while I can't speak to the exact vetting process because that wasn't a role that I was part of on the campaign and in the transition team, here's what we do know, is that General Flynn admirably served his country for 33 years. In 2015, before he made a trip overseas, he informed the DIA and his folks at the national security world that he was going to make this trip. He gave them a briefing upon his return in early 2016 and then in April of 2016, his top secret security clearance was renewed.

So, if there was a big problem at the time, red flags certainly didn't go up.

CUOMO: Right.

MILLER: His clearance was certainly restored. So, from President Trump's perspective, you have a retired army general in good standing who had been a loyal supporter on the campaign, who is a very vocal critic of the previous administration's mishandling of the war on terrorism, the fact that he didn't think they did a good enough job on it. And so, it came as no surprise that, of course, the previous administration would be critical of General Flynn.

CUOMO: Well, they had fired him.

Jen, let me give you the last word on this because we heard from James Clapper yesterday, the former head of the DNI, that the vetting for a security clearance by an agency is nothing compared to what you would get as a senior intel official within the White House and that that scrutiny should have been much higher.

How do you see it in light of the allegation from Sean Spicer that, hey, you guys could have done more to stop him with his security clearance if you had such concerns?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, I think it's important for people to know that there are four million people who have security clearances. It doesn't mean they meet the high bar to become the national security advisor. That's the president's closest advisor. He is somebody, Michael Flynn is, who president Trump was putting in meetings during the transition. He was his representative in meetings. And there needs to be a great deal of vetting and due diligence for

anybody at that level that. That clearly didn't happen, which was a mistake, and, hence, why he was fired.

CUOMO: All right. Jason, thank you. Jen, appreciate it.


PSAKI: Great to be here.

CAMEROTA: All right. There was a scary moment on ice for a Pittsburgh penguins star a week after suffering a concussion. We have the details in the "Bleacher Report", next.


[06:47:22] CUOMO: Whoo, did you watch the games? Don't worry about it. We'll tell you what you need to know.

Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors looking invincible right now, sweeping the Utah Jazz and now just four wins away from a possible rematch with LeBron.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report".

How are you seeing it?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my goodness, Chris, what action we've been seeing from the Warriors and the Cavs. They look to be on a crash course to meet in the NBA finals again. Both teams a perfect 8-0 in the playoff, thus far.

Golden State and Cleveland have been so good. Some fans and commentators are saying they're winning too easily, and that the playoffs are boring.

Well, last night after the 121-95 win over Utah, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant showed that they are bored of all this boring talk.


REPORTER: Basketball playoffs are boring, and these two dominant teams on a collision course. What do you think about that?

DRAYMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


WIRE: NHL playoff action. Scary moment in game six between the Capitals and Penguins. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby crashed in head first into the boards. This just one week after a concussion forced him to miss game four. Many questioning why the league spotters and the club didn't force him to be removed from the game immediately to be evaluated for a concussion. Crosby tough as nails, but got to protect these players from

themselves, Alisyn. The Capitals win 5-2, tying up that series at three games a piece. Game seven tomorrow night.

CAMEROTA: OK, Coy. Thanks so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

WIRE: Well, Jimmy Kimmel fires back at his critics, any critics of his emotional monologue over his newborn son.

Listen to this.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: And I would like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care. It was insensitive. It was offensive, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.


CAMEROTA: Our media mavens discuss what would become of the Kimmel test, next.


[06:52:56] CAMEROTA: Jimmy Kimmel is back, and he is firing back at critics of his emotional monologue last week about his newborn son's health scare.


KIMMEL: There was so much kindness, so much compassion. It was hard to even process, but there were also -- I know this is going to shock you -- there were also not so nice things people said online about me, including members of the media. Now, this is from "The New York Post". Jimmy Kimmel's obscene lies about kids and medical care. This is from something called "The Washington Times". I don't think it's a real newspaper, but shut up, Jimmy Kimmel, you elitist creep.

And I would like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health care. It was insensitive. It was offensive, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.


CAMEROTA: Let's discuss with CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

So, one of the things that he was referring to, one of the critics was Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich e was on the Sunday show saying in America, no baby is turned away from an emergency room. If you show up at an emergency room, doctors operate on that baby, and they don't ask for a check first.

Here is how Jimmy Kimmel responded to Newt Gingrich's claim.


KIMMEL: Yes, it is true that if you have an emergency, they will do an operation, and that's terrific if your baby's health problems are all solved during that one visit. The only problem is that never ever happens. We have had a dozen doctors appointments since our son had surgery. You've got a cardiologist, a pediatrician, surgeon. Some kids need an ambulance to transport them. That doesn't even count the parents who have to miss work for all this stuff.

Those details Newt forgot to mention. I don't know if the double layers of Spanx are restricting the blood flow to his brain.


CAMEROTA: OK. So, Brian, Jimmy Kimmel has become sort of the voice of this health care battle somehow.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And I think he is saying that sick care, emergency care is not the same as comprehensive health care.

I think what strikes us about this is two things. One, Kimmel is a natural storyteller already. Normally about lighter fare. But number two, he is using his platform, using his personal experience -- by the way, his son, his newborn, is doing very well, he says, which is the best news out of this.


STELTER: He's using his personal experience to ask some really basic questions about health care. I think they get glossed over and skipped over a lot of this debate. He had that senator on, Bill Cassidy, last night who coined the term the Jimmy Kimmel test here on CNN last week, and Cassidy -- he started many years ago a health care clinic in Louisiana for uninsured working class Americans.

Kimmel is on air saying, why are there even uninsured working class Americans? I think asking those basic questions, especially from a comedian who is learning about this, it's actually really worthwhile.

CUOMO: Now, ordinarily, you want to be careful as a comedian in these situations, because you handle on the facts. Kimmel is blessed that he has fallen into a talking point that is a particularly weak one on the side of people who are trying to bridge health care right now.

Newt Gingrich is a very smart man. We all know that. He knows that if you don't have an emergency situation, an ER is going to send you back home. And that's not what a lot of preexisting conditions are. He knows that. But this is a talking point.

Jimmy Kimmel also exposes a vacuum. Who is leading the charge to take care of people in this country right now on the Democrat side? I guess Bernie Sanders as a putative head. But they haven't really filled in this moment with their own leadership.

CARTER: And Kimmel has a talking point no one should be able to dispute. I mean, it's amazing that people were trying to dispute it as though he didn't have a valid point. It was illegitimate.

I happen to know Jimmy really well. He's an incredibly sincere guy. I mean, the idea of him being an elitist creep is so off base. I mean, really, he's a blue collar guy --

CUOMO: That's a narrative also, right?

CARTER: He really is an honest guy. I mean, I think this hit him in a place where it was so deep and emotional, that he has thrown himself into it, and who can criticize him where?

CAMEROTA: I think you fastened on something. The authenticity that everybody loves and particularly on television, people who pop through the screen seem to be authentic, so that leads us to Stephen Colbert, who had his obscene rant, or whatever, crude I guess you could say. Rant.

But it seems to have worked for his -- when he has -- when he began criticizing President Trump, his ratings spiked.


CAMEROTA: And he, in fact, leapfrogged Jimmy Fallon who had taken over the tonight show, and is there a feeling that Stephen Colbert and now, Jimmy Kimmel are being their true authentic selves, and that's what's resonating.

STELTER: Colbert is providing what his audience wants right now, which is hard-edged, no limits, no boundaries comedy against President Trump. In some ways, Fallon and Kimmel are trying to catch up. Kimmel, I think, is doing something different, though, right now. He certainly wasn't hoping for this experience, hoping that his son would end up in the NICU and going through all this.

So, Kimmel is maybe finding something unique that he can do with his audience and talk to his audience in a different way, because he's being his authentic self.

CUOMO: But he is going to have to decide. I mean, right now, his motivation is his personal pain, and at some point, that's hopefully the situation stabilizes and that ends, and he will have to make a decision about how to motivate.

Colbert is a different animal.

CARTER: Right.

CUOMO: When he first got into that business, I was wondering if he would fill that void of who is the political satirist, who's going to make the hard argument.

CARTER: Jon Stewart was gone. CUOMO: Right. Because Fallon is a brilliant entertainer, but he is comic relief.

CARTER: That's right.

CUOMO: He is not going to come hard at somebody. That's not what he is.

CARTER: And when he tries it, it's off tone. I mean, this is Colbert's -- this is what he throws at people, and it's effective.

By the way, it's interesting to hear Newt's response. It's not funny anymore. They're just angry. That these comics are angry.

STELTER: Is that true, Bill? You watch every night.

CARTER: People are laughing big-time at this. They're finding a lot of great humor on it, but it's interesting that's the response that these comics, they're just angry with the president, but actually they're creating some really effective political satire.

CUOMO: So, look, there's an opportunity. You know, we talk about the 45 percent all the time. We have panels with them, and Trump people, and understanding Trump, and why Trump won. You've got over half the country that isn't happy about it. Steven Colbert is speaking to them. His numbers are popping.

CARTER: And, by the way, Kimmel is talking about an issue where this health care law is incredibly unpopular. So, he is bound to get response for it.

CAMEROTA: All right. Bill, Brian, thank you very much.

And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, up next why did it take President Trump 18 days to fire Michael Flynn? We're asking members of Trump's transition team when NEW DAY continues.


SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: We believe that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is party to very important classified information. At the same time, vulnerable to blackmail.

YATES: We told them this information so they could take action.

SPICER: The security clearance that he had had been reapproved by the Obama administration.

You don't vent on a security clearance.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: What the hell was going on in those 18 days?

JIM CLAPPER, FORMER DNI: Russia is now emboldened to continue such activities and to do so even more intensely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a Muslim ban. Its text doesn't have anything to do with religion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's never repudiated what he said about the Muslim ban and it's still on his website.

YATES: I made a determination that I believe that it was unlawful.