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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Source: 4 People Interviewing Today for Top FBI Job; Trump Fuels War Against Media and Comey; Ransomware Attack Hits 99 Countries, Including U.S. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired May 13, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:00:04] KRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And another asked if they've come to the right field. How rude.
Now, three years later, they won the championship breaking the stereotype in sports that girls can't keep up with boys.
So, let's hear it for the ladies. You know what, they went out and won. That's all you have to do in sports is demand that respect. That's what they did.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It'd be interesting how the boys talk about their loss there.
FITZPATRICK: Take it.
PAUL: Thank you so much, Kristina.
BLACKWELL: All right.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: In a tweet, you said there might be tape recordings.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: If tapes exist, it would be very disturbing if suddenly they disappeared.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm focused on what's in my control and that is, what is Congress doing to solve people's problems.
TRUMP: Loyalty to the country. Loyalty to the United States is important. REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: This president needs to be
SEN. ELIZABETH WARNER (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No one, no one in this country is above the law.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Someone who might be subject of an investigation fired the investigator, that certainly looks like an obstruction of justice.
TRUMP: We don't have press conferences and we do --
PIRRO: You don't mean that.
TRUMP: You know Sean Spicer. He's a wonderful human being. He's a nice man.
MELISSA MCCARTHY AS SEAN SPICER: All right. Any other questions?
PAUL: Good morning to you on a Saturday morning. It's 7:00 a.m. It is so good to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning.
PAUL: So, now, hiring it seems, the White House looking for a new FBI director after James Comey's sudden dismissal earlier this week.
Issue number one for whomever gets the job is picking this investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, and possible collusion between President Trump's campaign team and Russia.
BLACKWELL: Now, today is the first day of interviews. And sources tell CNN these four candidates are in the running. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was supposed to have recused himself from anything related to Russia will lead today's interviews. This comes as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN former Director Comey will not testify next week.
PAUL: Meanwhile, the president's threatening tweet to Comey, hence about tapes of a private conversation between former Director Comey and his boss, but the president won't seem to elaborate on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIRRO: What about the idea that in a tweet you said that there might be taped recordings?
TRUMP: I can't talk about that. I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be. I hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Now, we're told the White House incredible thought Comey's firing wouldn't ignite backlash. That obviously wasn't the case.
Our Ryan Nobles has more on the communications crisis that the White House is facing.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a week of turmoil at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and recovering from the fallout could take some time. That uncertainty comes from perhaps President Trump's most controversial move since being elected, unceremoniously sacking James Comey, the head of the FBI.
TRUMP: He's a showboat, he's a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.
NOBLES: The firing came down Tuesday evening in a form of a three- paragraph letter, without much explanation from the White House. It was a bombshell decision that Comey learned of on television in the background at the FBI field office in Los Angeles.
The surprise move sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressing concern.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: It appears as if this administration is attempting to stop the investigation into the connections between the Russian government and Trump campaign from proceeding.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I certainly surprised by it. I personally didn't feel like Director Comey's performance rose to the level of dismissal. But obviously that's the president's decision to make.
NOBLES: Meanwhile, the White House seemingly had difficulty keeping its story straight, initially saying the decision came on the recommendation of the new deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president accepted the recommendation of his deputy attorney general to remove James Comey from his position.
NOBLES: But less than 24 hours later, the president himself directly contradicting his own team.
TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not --
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: You had made the decision before they came in the room.
TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey.
NOBLES: The president also claimed that Comey lost the trust of the rank-and-file members of the FBI, something that was rejected by the acting director of the agency, Andrew McCabe, just two days after Comey was removed from office. ANDREW MCCABE, FBI ACTING DIRECTOR: The majority, the vast majority
of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.
NOBLES: As the pressure mounted on the White House, the president himself took to his favorite media, Twitter, to respond to critics, defend his surrogates and warning that, quote, James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press -- a serious accusation that the White House has still yet to explain.
[07:05:08] REPORTER: Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence?
SPICER: I said for the third time, there's nothing further to add on that.
NOBLES: And something even one of the president's closest allies is refusing to weigh in on.
RYAN: I decided I'm not going to comment on the tweets of the day or the hour.
NOBLES: Ryan Nobles, CNN, Lynchburg, Virginia.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's get into it.
Eugene Scott, CNN politics reporter, is with us, as well as Gabby Morrongiello, Washington bureau chief for "The New York Post".
Let's start with you, Eugene, first with the White House's refusal to elaborate on the president's tweet about these potential tapes. Was this Sean Spicer in that interview with Jeanine Pirro, the White House not wanting to try to defend the indefensible, or do they want some ambiguity here about the possibility that visitors to the White House and people who speak with the president are being recorded?
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think what's very possible is that we've seen Sean Spicer previously say that there are times when the president tweets and they have not yet had a conversation with him about the content of the tweet or what he meant even if they did know what he was talking about. And I think at best what they are trying to do is get more information about what it is that he himself was actually referencing when he made that tweet. But the fact of the matter is many people are paying attention and that's definitely not a tweet that's probably going to be ignored or go away any time soon.
BLACKWELL: Well, one person who hopes that tweet will go away because he's not going to talk about it, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Gabby, let's listen to more of what he said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The tone of that tweet was that it's possible there were recordings made of what may have been considered private --
RYAN: I'm going to leave -- I'm going to leave it to the president to talk about and defend his tweets. You know what I'm focused on, Ken? I'm focused on what is in my control and that is what is Congress doing to solve people's problems. I'm working on health care reform. I'm working on tax reform. Those are the things I got elected to do. Those are the things within my purview in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Being pretty selective what he's talking about here, Gabby, and also the silence from congressional Republicans on the firing in large part of the former now director and these tweets is noticeable.
GABBY MORRONGIELLO, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK POST: Yes. No, it is. It absolutely is. I'm starting to feel bad for Paul Ryan because like Eugene said he along with the president's staff is somebody who wakes up in the morning to these tweets and has no indication of the president's thinking ahead of the time and then has to react to these things later on in the day.
And oftentimes, a lot of these tweets are distractions from what congressional leaders are trying to focus on, which is getting things like health care done, focusing their attention on beginning to draft a tax reform bill, and looking ahead at other issues. I mean, every single time, President Trump issues a tweet like he did, yesterday, which, you know, came early in the morning, was then the talk of the town for the rest of the day, leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are then forced to weigh in on it. And it must be exhausting for them to be keeping up with this president.
BLACKWELL: Yes, also exhausting potentially for the White House staff. Dan Rather, a name folks know from watching CBS News over the years, he posted on his Facebook page about this week that the White House has just had, that the country just gone through. I want to read one line. He says, I've never seen a week where a president of our nation has behaved with such cavalier disregard for the norms and institutions of our democracy.
Eugene, from your perspective, how does the White House see this week?
SCOTT: Well, I think the White House is probably still trying to figure out everything that happened this week from the firing, to the most recent tweet to today's interviews with the people who are likely or possibly likely to replace James Comey.
I think what staffers can do a better job of doing hopefully for us in the media next week is getting on the same page to communicate not just to us but to the American people what is exactly happening in the White House.
BLACKWELL: But they can't be expected to be completely accurate so says the president.
SCOTT: Which is difficult, because that certainly is our expectation of them and I imagine the expectation of the people who helped send Donald Trump to the White House. I think accuracy is not a lot to ask for from the president of the United States and his staff.
BLACKWELL: Let's watch a portion of that interview with FOX News where the president discusses the future of those White House briefings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIRRO: Are you moving so quickly that your communications department cannot keep up with you?
TRUMP: Yes. That's true.
PIRRO: So what do we do about that? Because --
TRUMP: We don't have press conferences and we do --
[07:10:01] PIRRO: You don't mean that.
TRUMP: Well, you just don't have them, unless I have them every two weeks and I do it myself. We don't have them. I think it's a good idea.
First of all --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So, is the president just trolling us with this idea?
MORRONGIELLO: Look, I hope so because to get rid of the daily White House press briefing would be a complete affront on the duty of us as journalists to be holding this administration accountable. And, look, I think the problem here and the problem that the president himself just admitted in that interview is that he's like Eugene was saying doesn't notify his staff when he's making sweeping decisions, when he's planning to fire off a few tweets in the morning that have significant consequences for his administration and for the dialogue that's going on that day.
And he's moving too quickly. He's trying to fit so many things into every day, every week of his administration that his communications shop is just being, you know, run into the ground.
So, I do think that this week probably more so than any week during his administration so far has really shown that there are significant issues inside the White House in terms of the communications that are happening between press shop and the president himself, and that those are issues that need to be worked on going forward. Otherwise, this is just going to be a mess on every issue that comes -- happens going forward.
BLACKWELL: Moving too quickly for the communications department.
All right. Eugene Scott, Gabby Morrongiello -- thank you both.
SCOTT: Thank you.
MORRONGIELLO: Thank you.
PAUL: So, straight ahead, there's a global cyber threat demanding its victims pay up and guess what? It's spreading now into the U.S. We'll talk about it.
BLACKWELL: Plus, fallout at the EPA. Two experts at the agency walking out over the dismissal of half of the scientists on a review board. In just few moments, we'll speak with one of those doctors who resigned.
[07:15:58] BLACKWELL: A massive global cyber attack that demands its victims to pay up. This is spreading across the country. The areas in orange on this map you'll see are all infected by a ransoming software called WannaCry.
PAUL: Once the computer is infected, you're going to see a screen like this appear. It orders you to pay money to get files back. We're not just -- we're talking about people like companies, hospitals, major companies, FedEx that are being target here.
CNN's Diana Magnay live in Russia this morning. That's one of the largest targets of this hack we should point out.
So, Diana, what's happening there?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Russia so often the villain in hacking stories. This time around, one of the biggest victims alongside Taiwan and Ukraine. And you have ministries affected, the interior ministry, the ministry for emergency situations.
Russian railway is affected. Domestic banks have been it. Also, telecom companies, and that follows a pattern we're seeing in other countries around the world.
But so far, no significant breaches of data reported. But we're hearing from Europol which is the policing system in Europe. They have just tweeted to say this cyber attack is an unprecedented level of attack and requires international investigation.
As you described, how WannaCry works, it goes into your computer. It encrypts your data and demands a payment $300 to $600, and if you don't pay within that particular time, then that payment goes up, which makes you want to cry, right?
Edward Snowden who is also in Russia has been tweeting, because this vulnerability, the virus comes in through was exposed in a dump of NSA data that was hacked and put on the web about a month ago, and it is thought that cyber criminals got hold of that data and have developed this ransom ware out of that, and he says that shows how dangerous it is when intelligence agencies use these tools and they get in the wrong hands - Christi. PAUL: Diana Magnay, thank you so much for bringing us the latest
BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now, David Kennedy, a cyber security consultant and formerly with the NSA.
David, good morning to you.
DAVID KENNEDY, CYBER SECURITY CONSULTANT: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
PAUL: So, first and foremost, to all of the people who are sitting in front of their computers right now, at home, sipping their coffee, should they be worried and how much does this affect them?
KENNEDY: Well, actually as of late last night, a security researcher on Twitter, he was taking a look at the software itself and found it was trying to communicate out to a website and he found that the website wasn't registered. So, he registered it and accidentally found a kill switch inside of the software itself which actually renders the software as of today now useless.
So, the software has actually stopped spreading across the world. He actually probably saved lives on accidents just by registering this one website name in his name, and it's really interesting to see how this is going. The problem with this specific one with WannaCry is that the way that they used to create this work, it's very easy to, you know, create any type of ransom, put any type of ransomware payload into this device and have it sent out.
So, we're already seeing chatter on the dark web and ransom ware authors incorporating this technique into theirs. So, we're not out of the water yet by any stretch. It means we're going to see a lot more of this start to happen next week.
BLACKWELL: So, David, let me ask you this, and I'm a novice in this arena. So, that's why we have you on.
PAUL: So am I.
BLACKWELL: $300 to $600 holding these files ransom. One would imagine, not knowing the arena that if I'm paying you $300 to $600 that money has to go somewhere and that account could be traceable and lead to you the person who is responsible. No?
KENNEDY: Well, the problem is that we moved to an online currency called Bitcoins. All hackers, online currency is what people use to maintain anonymity, to not to being tracked heavily. The whole online currency is designed to be anonymous. So, when you're actually paying, you're not paying directly into somebody's bank or doing a wire transfer somewhere, you're paying into this online currency area.
[07:20:03] And that is extremely difficult for law enforcement to actually go back and track. They used to be able to track through money laundering, as you mentioned, to go and find these individuals. But, unfortunately, it's very difficult to track these folks through Bitcoin and that's where this whole ransomware market has really spawned off and boomed because it really is difficult to go and find them and find out where they're coming from.
PAUL: OK. So we just heard from Diana Magnay about Europol hold tweeting out this requires an international investigation. Do you anticipate there will be one? And will it be able to find a way to stop things like this from happening?
KENNEDY: Well, the problem is the chances of getting hit, or getting identified as a hacker is substantially low right now. Something as high as this one, with as much damage as it has done, there probably will be substantial investigation going on to try to find these hackers. And they have before in the past gone and found these.
What I would say, though, is that, you know, the way this was delivered, all the code is now out there on how to replicate the same thing, there's going to be a lot of copycats and folks in the hacking community, in the black eye community, trying to replicate this and get this out there very quickly to make money. So, it's not the last we're going to see out of it.
Maybe the original author of this may get discovered, but it's going to take a substantial amount of effort and time and a lot of collaboration between different countries to find out where they are located at, work with extradition laws, go after them and to prove damage. So, it would be a very long process in the event they are even able to find them.
PAUL: All right. David Kennedy, we so appreciate your expertise. Thank you for sharing with us this morning.
KENNEDY: Absolutely. Thanks for having me on.
Four candidates now being considered to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. And President Trump is hinting he may have tapes of conversations with the former director. The question now: will those tapes be preserved? Will they be produced? And when will we hear the former director's side of the story?
PAUL: And former First Lady Michelle Obama, harsh words from her for the Trump administration. Her rare biting criticism. We'll tell you about it.
[07:26:15] BLACKWELL: A source in the Justice Department tells CNN that four candidates are being considered to replace James Comey as FBI director. Now, the new hire will oversee the investigation of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election and possible collusion between President Trump's campaign team and Russia.
As for President Trump, he is not yet finished with the former FBI director, issuing a thinly -- paper thinly veiled threat on Twitter to James Comey hinting there could be tapes of their conversations. Well, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN
that former Director Comey will not testify in front of the committee next week, but Senator Mark Warner says he's still hopeful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEMBER: It's very important that the Congress and more broadly the American people hear Director Comey's side of the story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: All righty. So, what does the law say about what should happen to any recording if they do exist?
CNN legal analyst Page Pate is with us. He's also a constitutional attorney and criminal defense attorney, by the way.
All righty. So, Page, good to have you here.
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to be here.
PAUL: Let's talk about the Presidential Records Act of 1978 which defines and states public ownership of those records and establishes a process for restricting and public access to these records.
So, the likelihood is here that the 1978 act, does that mandate that the recordings, that they be turned over if there are some?
PATE: Well, there are two separate questions. One, I think, the law does require if there are tapes they have to be preserved.
PATE: But the second question is, do they have to be turned over? And in that situation, you would expect the White House, if they want to keep the tapes to themselves, if they don't want anyone else to hear what's on those tapes, they would resist producing them and argue that executive privilege applies. But that's the same thing that Richard Nixon argued and lost on in the United States Supreme Court.
PAUL: OK. So, I want to listen here to Representative Ted Yoho of the Foreign Affairs Committee, what he had to say about the possibility that maybe the president is taping conversations.
(BEGIN VIDEOI CLIP)
REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: If I were the president I would tape everything that is said around me and what I said because we know how sometimes things get misconstrued. Whether President Trump did or did not, that's up to him and his White House. So that's a question they will have to answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Smart strategy to tape the recordings? PATE: Dangerous strategy. That's what happened with Nixon.
PATE: Now, it makes sense if you want to preserve a particular meeting, you can either take notes or you can record it. These days, I think, if you record something, you have an accurate record of exactly what was said, and there are going to be meetings that affect the national security interest, other domestic policy interests that you want preserved. Makes sense to tape it.
But let everybody know, number one, that you're being taped when you're in the White House. But two, the problem is if you're having conversations you don't want America to know about, you better not have a tape. There are going to be some secrets, we assume, within the White House, and I don't necessarily mean bad secrets.
PATE: But things that the rest of the country --
PAUL: National security things that, right --
PATE: Exactly, that shouldn't be taped. But whatever decision you make, it has to be consistent, and that's what the law does require.
PAUL: OK. Now, when we look at this, we know that there are about nine Democrats at this point who are already talking impeachment. Is there anything in this process that you've seen thus far that would constitute or warrant that?
PATE: Well, the Constitution is very broad on impeachment. Basically, it's high crimes or misdemeanors. And that's ultimately up to Congress. If they think there's enough there to impeach him, they can move forward with impeachment.
But you've got to have enough people in Congress to do it and given the make up of Congress these days, I don't think that's possible. But it is important to point out, you don't have to show that the president committed a crime to impeach him. Everyone is talking about whether or not this is obstruction.
Obstruction is a federal law that's very difficult to prove.
[07:30:01] You have to have certain elements in place before you can charge someone with a federal crime of obstruction, but you don't have to charge him with a crime to impeach him.
PAUL: OK. So, Comey being fired doesn't impede the investigation, though, at all, does it? But he can be subpoenaed to testify. As we're hearing this morning based on the "New York Times" reporting, he wants to testify and wants to it be public.
PATE: Yes. I think that he does. I do think Trump intended to affect the investigation by removing Comey. I mean, he's basically said it. When he sat down with Lester Holt, he admitted that he was thinking about the Russian investigation, thought it was meaningless, wanted to do something about Comey.
Now, the FBI agents who are already involved in this investigation, they are going to keep doing their jobs. But they could be redirected, reassigned by a new FBI director, and that is why the only way you can have any credibility or confidence in this investigation is to have a special counsel appointed and everybody is talking about that now.
PAUL: I was going to ask you about that. I mean, does it do anything also, though, other than help the optics of it?
PATE: It certainly helps the optics it. And that's why I think somebody like the deputy attorney general who has a lot of respect from both parties, if he really wants to do something here to restore confidence in both the FBI, the Justice Department and the country as a whole, he will appoint a special counsel, because even if he could independently make that decision without any influence from Trump or the White House, there's still the public perception that this thing is all so messed up now that the only way straighten it out is to get someone in from the outside.
PAUL: So, just to go back to something you said, I want to make sure we clarify it. When you talk about the conversation the president had with Lester Holt on NBC and what he talked about Russia and how it was all made up -- could that moment of that conversation be submitted as evidence against him when these nine Democrats are talking impeachment?
PATE: Yes, absolutely. It comes close to being the federal crime of obstruction. You basically have two things in place. There has to be an official proceeding. We know there was an ongoing FBI investigation. President Trump knew there was an ongoing FBI investigation.
And the second thing you have to show is that the president corruptly influenced or at least tried to corruptly influence that investigation. I think that's what he was trying to do. But it's so fuzzy that I don't see a federal prosecutor not that we could find one willing to prosecute Trump at this point because they would be fired willing to take on a case like this because the law is not that clear.
But if Congress wants to go back, play the tape of his interview with Lester Holt, he is certainly admitting that he had Russia on his mind when he made the decision.
PAUL: But in all defense as well president has broadly, he can fire whoever he wants.
PATE: Oh, absolutely, no question about it. No question about it.
PATE: But the decision to terminate someone could be made for improper motive and with criminal intent and that could be enough for impeachment.
PAUL: All right. Page Pate, thank you so much for all the clarity this morning. Appreciate it.
PATE: Thank you, Christi.
BLACKWELL: All right. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is sending some harsh words to the White House. Her concern comes after nutritional requirements were scaled back for school meals. She asked simply, what is wrong with you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: This is where you really have to look at motives, you know? I mean you have to stop and think why don't you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: A policy change loosen meal standards that the first lady advocated through here signature Let's Move public campaign aimed at combating childhood obesity.
PAUL: So, experts at the EPA say they are deeply concerned over the leadership there. After the break, we're going to hear from one of the doctors who has resigned in protest. We'll have details ahead.
Also, a cloud over America's brand overseas after a week of political disarray in Washington. What our partners across the Atlantic are saying about American leadership.
[07:36:05] PAUL: Well, mortgage rates lifted (ph) this week. Here's your look.
BLACKWELL: Welcome back.
President Trump is weighing whether to abandon the landmark Paris agreement negotiated by more than 130 countries, including the U.S. It aims to make the air less deadly, obviously, and to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.
But Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson contradicted the administration signing an international declaration stressing the importance of agreements like this one in tackling climate change.
Now, and more controversy about the role of science in the Trump administration. Two expert advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned in protest over the agency's decision to dismiss nine of the 18 scientists on a key science review board. Let's bring in now one of the experts who just resigned, Dr. Peter
Dr. Meyer, welcome to you.
DR. PETER MEYER, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY IN KENTUCKY: Thank you. I'm happy to be here. I guess I'm not happy.
BLACKWELL: For the reason you're here.
Let me read a part of this letter tht you submitted, along with the other doctors who resign. And let's put it up on the screen. We have deep concerns about the leadership at the EPA and it's continued obfuscation of scientific evidence and research enterprise.
Tell us -- what are your concerns?
MEYER: Well, our concerns are simply that from what we've been able to tell with regard to the actions to dismiss -- or more accurately, let's be specific here, is actually not renew the appointments of nine members of the board of scientific counselors to the Office of Research and Development of the EPA, that they were not renewed even though when they came on board, which is true of Dr. Martin and myself --
[07:40:05] BLACKWELL: Yes.
MEYER: -- we were told that we had a four to five-year assignment, which meant we all expected to be renewed after our three-year -- initial three years terms were up.
MEYER: The fact they didn't do that created a sense that they don't want to hear from us anymore.
BLACKWELL: So, let me read the response from a spokesperson for the EPA to the "Washington Examiner". Advisory panels like this board, the Board of Scientific Counselor, play a critical role reviewing the agency's work. EPA received hundreds of nominations to serve on the board, and we want to ensure fair consideration of all the nominees, including those nominated who may have previously served on the panel and carry out a competitive nomination process.
They say that, essentially, this is typical of a board like this. You say to that what?
MEYER: I say that you don't bring us on board, giving us an assignment, which was true of the entire Subcommittee on Sustainable and Healthy Communities in which Dr. Martin and I were -- on which Dr. Martin and I members, you don't give us an assignment that says it's going to be four years long or five years long and then turn around and not renew our leadership after the first three years are up. We learned how to work together as is true of any kind of a team. Once we learn to work together, the team is weakened when you take away certainly its leadership.
In our particular case, we're dealing with an incredible mix of different kinds of disciplines --
MEYER: -- and it takes a little bit to be able to work together.
BLACKWELL: But besides the personalities getting to work together and these specific members and leadership of this council, do you believe that this EPA, that this administration, does not want to hear from scientists?
MEYER: I'm increasingly convinced of that, yes.
BLACKWELL: And what's the evidence?
MEYER: The evidence, the most obvious piece of evidence that I can offer you is the proposed budget for the EPA for the 2018 fiscal year, the one that begins October 1. That proposes a 40 percent reduction in the appropriations for the Office of Research and Development, which is the branch of the EPA charged with make sure that what the EPA does is based on sound science.
BLACKWELL: What do you make of this Fairbanks declaration that Secretary Tillerson signed this week, with all of the countries with Arctic territory that cites the importance of reducing greenhouse gases and pollutants while the administration weighs withdrawing from the Paris agreement?
MEYER: I can't make sense of the two things simultaneously. They don't make any sense to me. If you're going to try and pursue the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the Arctic, why not pursue it elsewhere in the world, which is basically what the Paris agreement is about?
BLACKWELL: But do you think the administration, potentially, is backing away or reconsidering what the president, then candidate Trump talked about during the campaign, cancelling the agreement after the election? After the election, he said he had an open mind to it and now, they've delayed this announcement that was pending on whether or not they would stay in it. Are you reassured by that?
MEYER: I can't say that I'm reassured because bluntly, this administration is totally unpredictable. I would like to think this was a hopeful sign. I'm certainly pleased with the position of secretary -- of the secretary with regard to the Fairbanks Agreement. But that still doesn't tell me what's going to happen with regard to the Paris agreement.
Look, I'm an economist. I think that backing out of the Paris agreement is not just environmentally foolish or hazardous, but it's also not exactly something that is going to strengthen the United States in its trade negotiations with any of the other parties to the agreement, just simply alienating the rest of the world, and that doesn't make any sense to me as an economist. BLACKWELL: It is certainly multifaceted and multi-layered.
Dr. Peter Meyer, now former member of the Board of Scientific Counselors -- thanks so much for being with us this morning.
MEYER: As I said earlier, it's not exactly my pleasure to be here.
BLACKWELL: We were happy to have you, nonetheless. Thank you.
PAUL: Well, you know, it's all about optics. Growing worry abroad about America's ability to lead. This coming, of course, ahead of the president's trip overseas later this month. How the dysfunction in Washington is impacting America's global image?
[07:48:45] PAUL: Forty-eight minutes past the hour.
And the president graded his efforts in foreign policy giving himself an A-plus and he did so as he prepares for his first trip abroad later this month to broadcast a message of unity. The thing is, this past week, with a lot of chaos surrounding James Comey's dismissal and apparently, that's prompted a lot of people overseas to question whether the U.S. still has the ability to lead.
BLACKWELL: But national security adviser H.R. McMaster reasserted the U.S. is still in command.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances, and America first didn't mean America not leading, right? So, for America to secure and advance its interests, that requires American leadership and so, the president's leadership has been welcomed in all the places that he'll be visiting on this trip.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: CNN international editor, diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from London, ahead of this trip.
We hear the framing ahead of this big trip.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we do, that, you know, there's American leadership. This is really what President Trump is going to be promoting here to make alliances with leaders around the world, important alliances that are going to make the United States more secure, significantly pointed out by H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, that President Trump will be the first president to visit the homelands of the world's three major faiths.
[07:50:15] But all this at a time when the world is looking at President Trump and his actions and what's gone on in the last few days, and beginning to wonder a little bit more about who is this American leader.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Trump, Comey, and that Russia meeting. It's enough to worry America's closest allies.
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Britain deserves better than simply outsourcing our country's security and prosperity to the whims of the Trump White House.
ROBERTSON: Britain's election campaign heating up. Trump an issue, the U.K.'s flailing opposition leader looking to lay hits on the PM, bringing up that hand holding again.
CORBYN: A Labour government will want a strong, friendly government with the United States, but we will not be afraid to speak our mind.
ROBERTSON: Even the Philippines' outspoken leader shaken with the prospect of Trump in the driving seat on North Korea.
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT: The first victim would be Asia and Southeast, the whole of the ASEAN countries and the rest because those are really nuclear warheads, then it means the end of the world. Two nations are playing with their dangerous toys.
ROBERTSON: At least one American diplomat at a loss, tweeting this: Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news at home knowing I'll spend the rest of the day explaining our democracy and institutions.
In London, those worries resonate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump has the idea if he is ability to sack and hire as he pleases, which is a real shame because this sort of plays games with democracy as it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got quite a strange impression of him over here I think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sort of gives Trump a bit of a dictator feel.
ROBERTSON: Mostly, though, the world is busy getting on with its own stuff, like elections.
In France, relief the Trump style candidate lost.
BERNARD HENRI LEVI, PHILOSOPHER: We will not have a French Donald Trump.
ROBERTSON: More than 100 days of this now, the world is watching, wary of what comes next.
ROBERTSON: What comes next, well, that trip by President Trump. And you know what, it is not just the Saudi Arabia visit, not just Israel, not just visiting the pope, not just NATO in Brussels, not just in the G7 in Italy, but across that span of travel, he's likely to meet with as many as 37 different world leaders, if you take it all in.
So, there's a real chance for the president to set his own mark on the global stage, but it is against the backdrop for everything everyone has been watching recently.
BLACKWELL: Yes, the domestic challenges stay with him as he travels. Nic Robertson there for us in London -- thanks so much.
PAUL: And we are just now a couple hours away from the president getting in front of the camera when he returns to Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world. He's going to be delivering a commencement address.
So, some live pictures for you as they get ready, expected to hear some politics in this address as well. We will be there to cover it live for you.
BLACKWELL: And a couple's love stands the test of time after a love letter finds its recipient more than 70 years after it was sent.
[07:57:58] BLACKWELL: All right, I'm guilty of this. I get injured, or I'm in pain, I don't know if it's a real injured, but, you know, you now how we whine. You know how we whine.
PAUL: I know how you whine!
BLACKWELL: Because I don't take time to stretch regularly.
PAUL: Well, here, this might be your option, because there are apparently places with trained practitioners who do the stretching for you.
DR. DONALD PERRY, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: Most guys do not stretch before activity. If you don't stretch properly, it's been shown you're more prone to injury.
The more you stretch beforehand, you can lessen that likelihood. I try to stretch on my own at least two or three times a week, but try to get a professional stretch at least once or twice a week.
JENNY SEABERG, CO-OWNER, STRETCH ZONE: The practitioner helps take you through the stretch. You're able to get a deeper stretch. Stretching on your own, you're using muscles to stretch, whereas here, we're on these tables that have these straps. The straps allow your muscles and your complete body to relax. BROOKE STRASSER, STRETCH PRACTITIONER: Most come in with complaints
of hamstring tightness, hip tightness, back tightness, quad tightness, and also neck tension.
SEABERG: You're increasing your flexibility. You're increasing your range of motion.
STRASSER: My client's communicating how they're feeling during that stretch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three.
STRASSER: A three is when you start to feel a stretch, a five is about a medium stretch, and a seven is a about the stretch where the clients feel that they can't go any further.
PERRY: It is relaxing because it is time 30 minutes to myself, let them do the hard work.
BLACKWELL: All right. Hey, let me tell you about this truly remarkable love story that could have been ripped from a movie plot. While renovating a home in Westfield, New Jersey, a father and his daughter stumbled on a love letter dated May 4, 1945.
PAUL: Yes, with an unopened envelope marked return to sender, and it was sent by a woman to her husband who is a sailor and a Norwegian Navy, it didn't make it to him, until this week. Seventy-two years later, yes.
The letter read: I love you, Rolf, as I love the warm sun and that is what you are for my life, the sun about which everything else revolves for me.