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Trump: "No Collusion" With Russia But I Speak For "Myself"; What Did Rosenstein Say to Senators? Beyond The Call Of Duty; Trump Calls Russia Special Counsel A "Witch Hunt." Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired May 19, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] REP. SEAN DUFFY, (R) WISCONSIN: I don't want to go -- I don't want to ping-pong with you but Iwant to be very clear on one point.
DUFFY: If there's evidence,I would love to come back and talk about that evidence. I think the news media and Democrats are jumping the gun and they're talking about impeachment and they're talking about collusion when we don't have any evidence. It could be there, but no public evidence exists to that point right now and I think that point should readily be made not only by all politicians but all news outlets because it doesn't exist. It could come, and I would love to have that conversation --
CUOMO: Don't say it doesn't exist, just say we don't know.
DUFFY: Oh, no. Hold on, Chris.
CUOMO: And would also agree that calling it a witch hunt --
DUFFY: Chris, you're splicing my words.
CUOMO: -- and a hoax --
CUOMO: -- at this point is also wrong?
DUFFY: But you're splicing my words in that there's no public evidence today. We don't have any public evidence. There could be private evidence but there is no public evidence.
DUFFY: So you don't have any and I don't have any --
CUOMO: But it's an ongoing investigation.
DUFFY: -- and that's the point that I'm making.
CUOMO: I'm just saying I've never heard you make that point about any other investigation. If an investigation's ongoing you don't question what you know or don't know because it hasn't concluded. It hasn't been revealed. That's the whole point of the investigation is to find out. Why would you jump the process for political advantage in either way?
DUFFY: Why would -- why would -- why would -- why would you jump the conversation and --
CUOMO: But I'm not. You are, I'm not. That's the difference.
DUFFY: No --
CUOMO: I'm saying we don't know. You're saying there's no proof of collusion so there must be none.
DUFFY: No, but I --
CUOMO: Those are very different positions.
DUFFY: I'm not saying -- so I'm not saying there's no collusion. I'm saying I don't think there's any collusion based on what I've seen.
CUOMO: Well, it's the same -- what's the difference? There's no collusion, I don't think there's no collusion.
DUFFY: Chris, so --
CUOMO: Both one is based without any evidence.
DUFFY: I -- we'll move on from this point, I'm sure.
CUOMO: All right. Anyway --
DUFFY: Your network is running the stories nonstop and you and I agree --
CUOMO: We're asking the questions.
DUFFY: -- you don't have any -- you don't have evidence and I don't have any evidence at this point --
CUOMO: I'm just saying I don't know what they have --
DUFFY: -- and you're running stories about it and that concerns me.
CUOMO: -- and that's why calling it a hoax and a witch hunt is equally egregious as saying it's a home run for impeachment.
DUFFY: But -- that is -- you know, I -- OK. I look at this point -- well, we'll agree to have semantic conversations here.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just give it up while you're ahead.
CUOMO: No, I don't think it's semantic. And Congressman, look, I appreciate your perspective on this. You're right that there are politics at play. I'm just saying you've got to call it on both sides. That's all. I appreciate you making the case, as always.
DUFFY: Hey, thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: You're always welcome here. You are a fair broker.
DUFFY: You make me sweat, man. We'll talk -- we'll talk later.
CUOMO: I'm sweating too, but it's very hot in the studio. It's not you, Duffy. You didn't get under my skin.
DUFFY: I appreciate that.
CUOMO: Have a great weekend.
DUFFY: You, too.
CUOMO: Brooke --
BALDWIN: Two lawyers and a great conversation, and that's what you get. Thank you very much. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein briefed senators yesterday afternoon over the Comey firing. What did he say that has U.S. senators buzzing this morning? We'll talk to Sen. Angus King, next.
[07:36:30] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself and the Russians -- zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: President Trump making strong statements following the appointment of a special counsel, but will the White House cooperate with the Russia investigation? Joining us live this morning is Sen. Angus King. He is on the Senate Intelligence Committee which has its own probe into Russian election meddling. Senator, nice to see you. Good morning.
SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE, MEMBER, SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Good morning, Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. So I know you were listening in on the lively conversation that my colleague here had with Congressman Sean Duffy, so coming out of that and also just knowing what the president said, calling the special counsel investigation a witch hunt, telling network anchors that he believes it will hurt the country, how do you see it?
KING: Well, you've got to back up and say, you know, how did we get here? We had an unprecedented attack on American democracy by a foreign government that was sophisticated, directed from the very top, that reached all the way from state registration -- voter registration rolls -- to hacking of political institutions, releasing of documents, people purposely planting false stories in the news. I mean, this was an attack on our democracy and, you know, that's the reality and we've got to look into it.
You can call it a witch hunt, I call it my duty. I didn't go to Congress to be reading intelligence cables and pouring over, you know, history of who talked to who when, but I don't know -- we can't turn a -- turn a blind eye to what happened and we've got to get to the bottom of the facts, and I think that's what this is all about. It's not a witch hunt. I can tell you right now I am not going to participate in a witch hunt and if the facts demonstrate what President Trump said, that there was no collusion, no interaction between his campaign and the -- and the Russians during the period of the summer of 2016, I'll be -- I'll sign the report. But right now, we don't know that and we have a duty to dig into it.
BALDWIN: We don't know that and the back and forth over is there evidence or even a shred of evidence thus far on collusion. You heard the president saying there is no collusion -- or there was no collusion between my campaign and the Russians. I can speak for them, he said. Then why not -- why fight the idea, Senator? Why do you think the president then is fighting the idea of having this independent counsel come in to investigate?
KING: Well, he shouldn't be. If he's as innocent and clean as he says he is, he ought to be falling all over himself to cooperate in the investigation to get everything out and to clear the air. It clearly is dividing the country. I agree on that. And, you know, I hear from my Republican friends and they say oh, it's a witch hunt and there's nothing there. And other people say no, you know, it's really serious and we need to pursue it. But he could -- he could help.
And, you know, firing the head of the FBI and putting forth several varying and changing justifications for it in the middle of an investigation doesn't fill you with confidence about whether the White House is going to cooperate. They could cooperate and be much more forthcoming and clear the air much sooner if they choose to do so.
BALDWIN: You were in the meeting, Sen. King -- in the closed-door meeting with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. What was your biggest takeaway?
[07:40:00] KING: Well, there were two things that jumped out at me and I think most people in the room. Number one, in his opening statement he said, "I knew on May 8th that the president was going to fire Jim Comey and then I went back and wrote my memo." The reason that was surprising was if you go back to President Trump's letter to Comey, he said I'm firing you because I have the recommendation --
BALDWIN: That's right.
KING: -- of the attorney general and the -- and the deputy attorney general and that's why I'm firing you, and that was the line for 24 hours. Vice President Pence went to Capitol Hill and said it was all about the memo and lack of confidence and it turned out that just wasn't true by the president's own words. So that was number one, I think. I was sort of surprised he said yes, I knew that he was going to be fired and then I wrote the memo later. The second part that was surprising was he refused to answer any questions about the memo, who helped draft it, who reviewed it, who suggested it. And his reason was that the firing and the memo and all of those circumstances might be part of Robert Mueller's investigation, which I did not -- I hadn't thought of it that way before. But he probably refused to answer 15 questions during that session based upon "I can't answer that because it may be part of the FBI investigation."
And, by the way, I heard the wonderful exchange -- it reminded me of moot court -- between Congressman Duffy and Chris.
BALDWIN: The ping-pong -- ping-pong?
KING: I think one thing needs to be clarified.
BALDWIN: Yes, sir.
KING: The Mueller investigation is not a new investigation. It is -- he will lead the current FBI investigation.
BALDWIN: OK. Finally, on this notion that it could be, you know, former senator, once Democrat Joe Lieberman as the president's pick for the FBI director, do you like him? Would you like that pick?
KING: I like Joe Lieberman, I don't like the pick. I don't think it should be a politician. We've got a former congressman, now head of the CIA, a former senator, now director of National Intelligence. I voted for both of them but, you know, I just don't think it ought to be a politician. Never had a politician head of the FBI. I don't care whether it's Hamilton, Jefferson, or Lincoln, or Lieberman, I just don't think that's the right pick at this moment, given all of the events that are swirling around the FBI. I think it ought to be a career prosecutor, law enforcement person. And I know Joe Lieberman was attorney general some years ago but -- it's nothing against Joe Lieberman but I just don't think that's the right way to go.
BALDWIN: OK. Senator Angus King, always a pleasure. Thank you very much for the time. Have a great Friday.
KING: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Chris --
CUOMO: All right. So, as the Russianinvestigations heat up, the head of the House Oversight Committee is stepping down. Why, and who will take the place of Republican Jason Chaffetz? We're going to talk to the ranking Democratic on the committee, Elijah Cummings, about what the special counsel means, what Chaffetz's resignation means, and this new huge credibility question for the vice president, next.
[07:46:35] BALDWIN: A police officer saw this three-year-old boy for one minute right before this little boy disappeared, but one detail that the police officer saved -- the fact that he saved this child's life. CNN's Stephanie Elam has the reunion in this week's "Beyond the Call of Duty."
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Had police officer Aaron Bulmer arrived at Topeka's Central Park any later the outcome could have been tragic. Bulmer was responding to a robbery call. What he found was a three-year-old autistic boy who desperately needed help.
AARON BULMER, TOPEKA POLICE OFFICER: I turn and look and I see a small child about 100 yards away.
ELAM: Did you see any adults nearby? What were you looking for?
BULMER: No adults. So I glanced at him and he looked like, you know, my own son. I went around the block but I didn't -- I lost sight of him and that concerned me.
ELAM: Following his gut, Bulmer gets out of his police cruiser.
BULMER: Two or three seconds later I see Elijah basically drowning right there in the pond.
ELAM: Officer Bulmer breaks into a sprint.
ELAM: Elijah Hamby is wallowing face-down in the water.
BULMER: He was struggling and then I saw his face in the water and I could see that he was just gasping for air.
ELAM: Without breaking a stride, Officer Bulmer jumps in to save Elijah, who immediately lets out a cry.
ELIJAH HAMBY: (Crying).
ELAM: Nearly seven feet tall, Bulmer is standing waist deep in the water as he calls dispatch for an ambulance --
BULMER: I've got a kid that fell into the pond. I just got him.
ELAM: -- before handing the boy to a good samaritan. Meanwhile, Elijah's father is frantically looking for his son. With his wife at work and their four other children at church, Jacob Hamby had given Elijah some chocolate milk and put on his favorite T.V. show. He even checked to make sure the doors were locked.
JACLYN HAMBY, MOTHER OF ELIJAH HAMBY: He says I went to the bathroom and when I came out, he says I looked to look for him in the bedroom, didn't see him there. He says so he looked the opposite direction and realized the back door was standing open.
ELAM: Elijah's parents didn't realize their youngest son had figured out how to undo the locks and since he was wearing socks he made no noise as he slipped out. Father and son were reunited at the ambulance after officers heard him yelling for Elijah. Thankfully, Elijah is OK.
What do you think would have happened if Officer Bulmer hadn't spotted Elijah in the park?
HAMBY: I fear that I would have lost a child that day.
BULMER: He would have drowned. I mean, I would have said, you know, 30 seconds to a minute but if I wasn't there he would have drowned.
ELAM: But thanks to his training as a police officer and his instincts as a parent that wasn't the case. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Topeka, Kansas.
CUOMO: Great story, well told.
So, special counsel Robert Mueller beginning his look into Russian ties into the 2016 election. Remember, this is not a new investigation but he does have to get up to speed about what the case file has in it now. But what does it mean for congressional investigations? We have new reporting and a key guest, a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, next.
[07:53:30] CUOMO: President Trump dismissing the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia. He called it a witch hunt. He says nobody cares about this and that it's dividing the country. Do lawmakers investigating Russia agree? Let's ask Congressman Elijah Cummings. He is a ranking member on the House Oversight Committee. Congressman, thank you for joining us on NEW DAY, as always.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND, RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Good morning.
CUOMO: So, do you believe that the appointment of the special counsel was warranted and a good move?
CUMMINGS: I think it was a very good move and I think it came at the right time. Somebody asked me to describe what's going on in Washington with regard to the investigations and I can only say it's a mess. You got the attorney general who's recused himself so he can't do but so much -- or he shouldn't be doing but so much with regard to this investigation. We've got Rosenstein, who I know because he was the U.S. attorney in Baltimore for over 10 years -- a man whoI have a lot of respect for -- but he has been coming under severe criticism. And then you've got Comey and Trump. They are arguing over what happened at certain crucial moments during the last year or two. So, we've got a real -- just a lot of potential conflicts.
[07:55:10] But I think the best thing that happened, Chris, was to have something like Mueller to come in, who I also know -- who has a stellar reputation for no nonsense -- to come in and say let's get this investigation done. But basically, you've got to keep in mind there are three investigations. One, you've got the investigation as to what happened with regard to Russiainterfering with our elections.
CUMMINGS: Two, you've got the investigation as to whether or not there was any kind of collusion with the Trump administration's campaign or President Trump. And three, you've got a question of whether there is some type of cover-up, and so there's a lot going on here.
CUOMO: What do you think of the idea that Mueller may say -- Mueller may say listen, I need to focus this -- I need to have the full attention of assets -- a stand down on these other investigations? Let me do my job. Would you respect that request?
CUMMINGS: Definitely. I would respect if but I think -- I don't think that's the way it's going to go down. I think Mueller is looking at it from -- I can't speak for him but I'm just guessing. I believe that he'll bring us all together -- the various committees that have jurisdiction and analysis, at least the ranking members and the chairman -- and try to work out something. Let's take rules of engagement. And there will be certain evidence that -- types of evidence that will say OK, you'll have access to. He may say I'm the -- he may say the FBI may get some things that we will, you know -- be glad to pass on to you. So it's hard to say.
I don't think it's going to interfere and I think that all the committees will back up and let the FBI -- because let me -- people need to understand. When you're dealing with the FBI this is a whole nother ballgame.
CUMMINGS: And people can lie and lie and lie to each other but if an FBI agent walks into your office and asks you some questions, that's the time when the lie -- if it stays a lie, that is an offense which you can be charged with.
CUOMO: Understood. I --
CUMMINGS: So we're in a whole nother ballgame.
CUOMO: I have a question for you.
CUOMO: The Vice President of the United States says he didn't know about Flynn until he learned about it from news reports. Is it true that on November 18th you sent a letter addressed to the vice president asking questions about Flynn's status as a foreign lobbyist and what it meant in terms of his appointment and your concerns thereof?
CUMMINGS: Yes, I did. On November 18th we sent a very detailed letter talking about Flynn's involvement with the Turkish government. That he was being paid to do work with regard to Turkey. We also mentioned that he had -- in 2015, that he had attended this dinner that you see on --
CUMMINGS: -- your clips all the time where he's sitting beside Putin and that he got paid for that. And we basically were asking Pence, who was head of transition, why the hell are we messing around with this guy?
CUOMO: So do you think Pence is telling the truth when he says he only learned about Flynn from news reports?
CUMMINGS: Well, it's either he's not telling the truth or he was running a sloppy shop because we have a receipt, Chris, that says they received the letter. Now, I know things get mixed up in the mail. I got that. But when you tell somebody -- you send a letter and it says the person that you are allowing to advise a campaign on security matters that is being -- getting access to briefings, and the same guy who eventually, by the way, became a security adviser -- the number one guy -- getting all of our secrets? Somebody should be jumping up and down and saying wait a minute, this is 17 or 20 red lights.
CUMMINGS: And so, this is not rocket -- Chris, this is not rocket scientist stuff. I mean, look at the way they beat up on Hillary Clinton for the possibility that something might have been -- some classified document may have gotten in somebody's hand.
CUOMO: Is it also --
CUMMINGS: But this -- you got the guy. You got the guy who's sitting there getting briefings. And I was trying to figure out do you know this?
CUOMO: Right, I got the concerns.
CUMMINGS: And what we were trying to do was warn Pence, OK.
CUOMO: And I saw -- and we put up the return receipt requested there. The email that showed that you got confirmation that the letter was received.
CUOMO: Whether it was read, whether it was believed, those are questions that would have to come from the V.P. or his staff, but the idea that they had never heard about Flynn is somewhat refuted by the existence of your letter of November 18th.
Another question. Is it true that the White House is still saying --