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Interview with Rep. Elijah Cummings; Senate Intel Committee Subpoenas Flynn's Businesses; President Trump Meets With Pope Francis; Giving The President A Hand? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 24, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:45] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so here's the latest. The Senate Intel Committee has subpoenaed two of Gen. Michael Flynn's businesses in connection with its investigation into Russia's investigation meddling. So, Congressman Elijah Cummings also trying to get more information on Flynn. Remember, he's on the House side of the investigation. He's asking House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz to subpoena the White House for documents related to the fired national security adviser. The ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee is Elijah Cummings and he joins us now. Good to have you, as always. What do you hope for with this letter --


CUOMO: -- and what has been the response?

CUMMINGS: The response has been radio silence and it appears that the Republicans just don't want to subpoena one document from the White House and, Chris, we need those documents. You've got all kinds of contradictions. You've got allegations that Flynn told the president and his -- and the White House about his criminal investigation going on early on. Questions about whether he was truthful with regard to applications that he made for security clearance, and a lot of things that could be cleared up if we could only get our hands on the documents.

[07:35:15] And Chris, let me be clear. I want to know what the president knew, I want to know what the vice president knew. I also want to know what the attorney general knew, and I want to know when they knew it about Flynn and maybe this will --

CUOMO: Are you asking for too much?

CUMMINGS: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. When you are -- we have a threat to our electoral system. We have got to deal with it. I mean, I know a lot of people are throwing around the word "impeachment" Chris, but you've got to keep in mind we can -- we cannot have somebody sitting over in Russia determining who sits in the White House. We can't do that. I mean -- and I think -- and I don't want us to lose sight of that but we've got to gather information.

And I think -- I've been listening to your discussion this morning. A lot of your discussion is about impeachment. Well, I believe that Mueller, who I have a tremendous amount of confidence in -- I think he will resolve those issues. We -- in the Congress, we've got a duty to try to make sure this does not happen again. By the way, that's another reason why Congressman Swalwell and I have proposed this independent commission. So you need the independent commission, you need the Congress committees doing their job, and you need Mr. Mueller doing his.

CUOMO: Yes. I mean, just to be clear, I don't think that the actual topic has come up this morning. I think you're many, many steps away from any kind of political action that would even contemplate something like impeachment. But what did you make of the ex-CIA chief Brennan's testimony? Did it advance your understanding in any way?

CUMMINGS: Yes, it helped me -- it helped me. And again, I-- keep in mind what his role is as the -- as the former CIA director. But, you know, when you hear a person like that who's worked under several administrations and who I have a lot of confidence and trust in, he basically laid -- tried to make us understand that there are -- there were things that should have caused alarm bells to go off and they caused them to go off with him. Again, I think he presented enough information for all us to say, you know, as he did, somebody really needs to look into this. And --

CUOMO: The pushback is you have looked into it. It's been looked at for over six months now. There's been no leaked or made public information of actual collusion between anybody on Trump's staff and any Russian operatives or entities. This is a hoax.

CUMMINGS: And any investigator or anybody who seriously wants to address threats to our democracy would say to you, Chris, based on what you just said --


CUMMINGS: -- that is not accurate. Again, there is enough preliminary information here. And there's something else going on here too, and whether you want to admit or not, whether others wants to admit it, there's a -- there is an air of deception going on. I mean, all you got to do is look at what the president has been doing over and over again. Keep in mind, the president told us initially that no -- none of his people had had contact with Russian -- the Russians. That's what he told us and then we found out everybody had contact, and so there's a lot here.

And I've got to tell you, Chris, after I attended the briefing the other day with Rosenstein, I came out saying to myself this whole thing -- if I were advising people in this case I'd tell almost anybody who had a lot to do with the transition they might want to start looking for a lawyer.

CUOMO: Well, the president took your advice. He signed Kasowitz as his own personal counsel for this matter. We'll see where it goes.

Let me switch topics because I have you here this morning. The Medicaid proposal in the budget. What do you think this means for people who are on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamps? What do you think it means for the poor in Maryland? The White House says this is just about slowing growth, not actual cuts, and that they should be measured not by programs but the number of people they get off programs. What's your response?

CUMMINGS: Pain, pain. In other words, people are struggling trying to make it, Chris. I live in a neighborhood where I see people try to make it every day. They're the ones that -- a lot of them are taking the early bus. They now have had an opportunity to get Medicaid -- or in our state. And when you say that you're going to take over $800 billion from Medicaid and say that it's not going to touch anybody or it's not going to hurt, and that -- I just disagree.

[07:40:20] And obviously, we've come to a point in our country, Chris, where people like Mulvaney, I think, have an empathy deficit. I know what he said. Oh, let's get them off -- people -- and they can fend for themselves. A lot of people can't fend for themselves but they're doing the best they can with what they have. And, you know -- so again, it's going to be painful but I'm being real clear. I'm going to do everything in my power to turn that around. We cannot have that.

I think - and the other thing, Chris, which is very interesting, a lot of people that will be hurt are Chris voters -- are Trump voters. The very people that depended on him, the same people that came to the rallies, the same people that stood in lines and cheered him on, he now is turning around and saying you know what, I'm going to make sure the rich is taken care. I'm going to -- but for you, I'm going to take away the very things that allow you to exist. We have got to get away from this concept of collateral damage. No American should be considered collateral damage.

And you know, Chris -- you know my story as one, the son of two former sharecroppers to go in one generation from sharecroppers to the United States Congress, people have -- there's a lot of help that came along with that.


CUMMINGS: But again, there are people sitting there right now, some of them in the Congress, who have been helped by government and then they became taxpayers and were able to give back to our society. So no, we're going to fight this with everything we've got and I'm looking forward to the battle.

CUOMO: I remember your story. I've been with you in your neighborhood. I've seen how the people look to you to help them and protect them in their own struggle to get by, so we'll see what happens in this budget fight. Congressman Cummings, always a pleasure.

CUMMINGS: But Chris --

CUOMO: Yes, sir?

CUMMINGS: Chris, let me make it clear.

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: I also clear -- I also care about folks in rural areas and all over American because they are in pain just like the people in my neighborhood. So it's not a black or white issue --

CUOMO: Understood.

CUMMINGS: -- it's an American issue.

CUOMO: Understood.

CUMMINGS: All right.

CUOMO: Thank you, Congressman. You're always welcome on NEW DAY -- Alisyn.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump wrapping up his tour of major religious sites with a trip to the Vatican. The promise the president made before he left his meeting with the Pope. That's next.


[07:46:25] CAMEROTA: So, President Trump holding a historic face-to- face talk with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The president received a warm welcome after clashing with the Pope on some issues during the campaign. CNN's Sara Murray is live with the awesome assignment in Rome for us. Tell us about this visit, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, not exactly rough duty here, Alisyn, covering this landmark visit by President Trump. He met earlier today with the Pope and it was a much warmer reception than we've seen in the past between these two gentlemen. The Pope was making jokes with Melania Trump. Afterwards, President Trump told a pool of reporters that he felt like it was a fantastic meeting. During that visit he shared some gifts with the Pope, including a first editor of Dr. Martin Luther King's writings.

Now, this is just the beginning of what is a very busy day for them. They also toured St. Peter's Basilica, as well as the Sistine Chapel. Melania Trump then broke off and visited with children at a pediatric hospital here that's run by the Vatican. But things turn away from this more sort of stylistic tour of the world's religion back to substance tonight. The president and the first lady will be flying to Brussels ahead of that meeting with NATO leaders tomorrow. Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, thanks so much.

CUOMO: All right, we've got to talk about it. We didn't talk about it yesterday but it's out there, it's making all the rounds. You guys are obsessed with it. Let's show the scene. (Video playing) It's one of several --

CAMEROTA: I like that you don't want to show it but we're all obsessed with it.

CUOMO: All of it matters now. People are talking about it so it's in the news cycle. What happened here? You see the reach back. What was that? Was that just a failed connection?

CAMEROTA: No, that was not a failed --

CUOMO: Was it something else?

CAMEROTA: That was a swat.

CUOMO: Was it?


CUOMO: All right. There's other examples of this. The clip has gone viral. Again, it's out of my control now. What happened, why did it happen more than once, what does it mean?

CAMEROTA: Hold on, let me see this one.

CUOMO: What do you think?

CAMEROTA: Well, that one --

CUOMO: Did she not know that he was going for the hand?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I need to see that again. Can we --

CUOMO: Got the hiney tap after it, though.

CAMEROTA: Oh my goodness.

CUOMO: It does. Watch what happens.


CUOMO: Watch where the hand goes.

CAMEROTA: Wow, that's a --

CUOMO: So do you think that this was --

CAMEROTA: That's coming off the plane in Rome, by the way.

CUOMO: Was this an intentional non-grasping of the hand, Alisyn Camerota?

CAMEROTA: That one looks less intentional to me, but the first one --

CUOMO: (Laughing, holds Alisyn's hand) Got you by surprise.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you did.

CUOMO: You're not as quick as Melania.

CAMEROTA: Exactly. I think that one is an official swat --

CUOMO: Are you sure? Not a misconnection?

CAMEROTA: -- as I often do to you when I see it coming.

CUOMO: Usually you go like this --

CAMEROTA: right.

CUOMO: -- and then I wince.

CAMEROTA: That's right, so I can recognize that.

CUOMO: You don't think it was just kind of we're moving. Both our arms are moving and I go for the --

CAMEROTA: She went like this. There was an actual sound that came from that.

CUOMO: What is your take on it? How many times are you going to hit me? That was for the one before, wasn't it?

CAMEROTA: I'm illustrating it.

CUOMO: What do you think? Was it just a failed connection like when trains are going too fast and they don't make that link-up between cars or was it an intentional swatting as Camerota just said as she struck me twice?

CAMEROTA: Let us know. You can find us on Twitter.

What will the president take away from his conversation with the Pope? Cardinal Timothy Dolan is here with his thoughts, next.

CUOMO: The Pope did not swat the hand away.


[07:53:05] CUOMO: President Donald Trump has just met with Pope Francis today at the Vatican. The president shaking the Pope's hand, telling him he would not forget what the leader of the Catholic Church said to him. This follows meetings with leaders of the Muslim faith and a visit to sacred sites in Jerusalem during the president's first international trip. So what does it all mean? Let's discuss with the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: Hi, Chris, nice to be with you. Good of you to invite me.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure. Great to have you, Father. Oh, please, anytime. So, we keep talking about the president's disposition towards these foreign leaders but let's look at in reverse. What did you see in the Pontiff's welcoming of President Trump and how he regarded him?

DOLAN: It didn't surprise me at all. I saw Pope Francis put him at ease, almost immediately set a tone of friendship and respect. He's good at that. He does that very well. He always knows it's intimidating to come into the Vatican, the Swiss guards, all the medieval art and everything, so he's great at putting somebody at ease.

I also noticed that he was doing a lot of listening. Now, you figure -- you figure the President of the United States, he just got back from two volatile spots, Syria and Israel, so I think the Pope was eager to hear some of President Trump's observations about those volcanic areas which, as you know Chris, is one of the reasons why world leaders like to go the Vatican because it's a great listening post. It's one of those areas of the world that almost has a stethoscope on all the troubled spots of the world. So I would say that Pope Francis did a lot of listening as well as speaking to the president.

CUOMO: Now you know in the buildup to the -- to this Pope taking over we spent a lot of time studying him. Went to his home in Argentina, spoke about the great Bergoglio and the impact he had in the slums there. He has very different views about the rights of humanity and who should be protected and how thenthis current administration does. Do you think that this would have been an opportunity for the Pope to address those in any way with this president?

[07:55:13] DOLAN: I think so. I think so. I would not be surprised at all if the Pope got his points across. I mean, this is a man who's come across as the greatest prophet in protection of the poor and vulnerable and marginalized throughout the world. So that he would speak of those values and principles, I'm sure he did. I think he does to every world leader. I think he especially would to the president of the strongest, mightiest, power on the face of the earth.

This is interesting, Chris, is that when you have these two leaders today you've got the leader of the greatest moral and spiritual authority in the world, the Pope, and you've got the leader of the strongest natural earthly power. That the two of them would work hand-in-glove, that they would have more that brings them together than divides them, that's good for world peace. That, by the way, has pretty much been the history of American relations with the Holy See, so I would hope that that would have continued today in the meeting between the president and the Pope.

CUOMO: It was an interesting demonstration of the evolution of our president as candidate to president.


CUOMO: I don't know if you'll remember this but I'll play this moment for the audience, one of the first interviews I did with then- candidate Trump. The Pope had been kind of bumping heads with Trump a little bit about what was --

DOLAN: Right, right.

CUOMO: -- going on and what road he needed to take. So I asked Trump about it and here's what he said. DOLAN: I remember.


CUOMO: You meet the Pope -- Pope Francis comes.


CUOMO: There's a translator there --

TRUMP: Right.

CUOMO: -- and he says oh, Mr. Trump, this is very nice. And then he says, you know, I want to tell him something and the translator says to you the Pope believes that capitalism can be a real avenue to greed. It can be really toxic and corrupt and he's shaking his finger at you when he says it. What do you say in response to the Pope?

TRUMP: I'd say ISIS wants to get you. You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican? You have heard that. You know, that's a dream of theirs to go into Italy --

CUOMO: He talks to you about capitalism and you scare the Pope?

TRUMP: No, no. I'm going to have to scare the Pope.


CUOMO: Now, that didn't happen. Obviously, they were very gracious. But it was in interesting look into his mind at that time of hey, the Pope needs to get with the reality that we have to go and get them. It is a difficult message to digest when we see something like we just saw in Manchester.

DOLAN: In Manchester, right.

CUOMO: A reminder of the evil --


CUOMO: -- and that's what it is. It is easy to want to condemn it.


CUOMO: Condemn the faith that is the source of it that worked --

DOLAN: Right.

CUOMO: -- very well during this election. The Pontiff has a different message.


CUOMO: It is not an easy sell. How do you connect --

DOLAN: You're right, Chris. You're on to something too because sometimes it can be dismissed as unrealistic. So what do you got? Kind of a worldly natural reaction to the horror of Manchester yesterday would be that we've got to fight fire with fire. We have to retaliate. There has to be more violence. There has to be some vindictiveness. There has to be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. That's understandable, that's realistic, that's human, yet there's something deeper in the mystery of humanity and the Pope speaks to that heart.

He says well, wait a minute, let's call upon our better angels here. Let's -- instead of trying to discover what's tearing us apart, let's try to rediscover what brings us together. That we're all children of God. That we are at our best when we work together, when we forgive, when we reach out. Somebody has got to say that and so we can't let the darker side win here. Somebody's got to remind us that at the core of the human person is not evil and hatred, darn it, it's light, it's life, it's forgiveness, it's reconciliation. I don't know anybody that's doing that in a more compelling way than Pope Francis.

CUOMO: It will be interesting to see what the impact is of the meeting on the president --

DOLAN: Won't it?

CUOMO: -- when he comes back.

DOLAN: I'm eager to see it. I'm eager to see his take on it.

CUOMO: Yes. Well, hopefully, we'll get it.

DOLAN: You're on, Chris.

CUOMO: Cardinal, thank you so much.

DOLAN: Always good to be with you.

CUOMO: No, we appreciate it. You make us better every time you come on.

DOLAN: I'm glad you said that, thanks.

CUOMO: All right, we're following a lot of news. We have new details in the terror attack in England. There's still a lot of people fighting for their lives. Let's get to it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police have identified the bomber. He was known to intelligence and had just returned from Libya.

THERESA MAY, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: A further attack may be imminent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time in a decade that the threat level has been raised to critical. JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Intelligence revealed interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Flynn can't hide for very long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not taking contempt of Congress of the table.

CUOMO: President Trump face-to-face with the Pope.

CAMEROTA: How did their historic first meeting turn out?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Wednesday, May 24th, 8:00 in the East. We have breaking news in the investigation into the deadly terror attack at the concert in Manchester, England. Three arrests were made overnight. Authorities say the terrorist was known to security services. They believe he may have had help.

CUOMO: Back here at home big news as well. Stunning revelations into the Russia investigation. Former CIA director John Brennan testifying he was aware of interactions between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign.