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Interview with Rep. Steny Hoyer; Sessions Did Not Report Russia Meetings; Plans to Subpoena Flynn; U.S. Intel Leaks Frustrate Allies; Trump Attends NATO Summit; Trump and May to Speak About Leaks; Spicer Vatican Snub; Montana Candidate Charged with Assault. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:01] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we have a number of revelations in the Russia investigations. The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is calling for an investigation now into Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Sessions failed to disclose contacts with Russian officials on his security clearance form.

Joining us now is House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

It is good to have you on the show, sir.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Good morning, Chris. Glad to be with you.

CUOMO: Sessions says legal counsel told me I did not have to disclose these meetings with the Russian ambassador. They were coincidental. They weren't fundamental. I meet with thousands of people in my capacity as a senator. This was OK.

HOYER: Well, if he had it in his mind as to whether or not he ought to disclose it, certainly he ought to disclose it in his testimony before the Senate Committee. There was nobody advising him then in the question that was asked, did you have any contacts with Russian officials. He should have said, yes, I did, and they were incidental. He could have said that.

But what really is so concerning is the pattern that exists here. First of all, you start out with Manafort and Stone and Flynn, Page and others who had very close financial relationships with the Russians. Then you have a candidate who talks very positively about Putin, who is, I think by most of the world, seen as an international lawbreaker and an underminer of human rights and murders both journalists and opponents in his country. You have a candidate who is justifying feeling he's a pretty good guy. And then you have this continuing pattern of cover-up.

So that it's the pattern, Chris, that I think leads one to believe that there is -- there's fire where there's so much smoke. And the investigations that are underway, not only by Bob Mueller, who I think was a good appointment and I think we have faith and trust in, but in the investigations of the intelligence committees in both the House and the Senate and, in my view, we ought to appoint a special commission, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to look at the broader impact of Russian involvement in our elections, not necessarily from a criminal standpoint, but from an undermining our democracy standpoint.

[08:35:16] So I think this -- all of these continuing small but meaningful patterns of cover up and dissembling raise a great deal of concern for the American people and we need to have a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of it.

CUOMO: Two questions. First, smoke, maybe, but not a smoking again.

HOYER: Right.

CUOMO: And what does it mean that you haven't had any hard proof of actual collusion to this point?

HOYER: Well, what it means is, obviously, that we don't yet have hard evidence. But you recall in Watergate, frankly, there were a couple of years of smoke with no smoking gun and then ultimately a smoking gun was made available through testimony, John Dean and others. And I think that the same thing may well happen here. It may not. And if it doesn't, frankly, the American people will have greater confidence in the president's relationship with Russia and others. But if it does, then I think you're going to see substantial adverse action with respect to the Trump administration.

CUOMO: The Flynn subpoenas, he has a right to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-protection. You can't throw him in contempt once he does that. What is the goal with these secondary subpoenas now with Flynn?

HOYER: Well, they're looking for documents, I suppose, which are certainly discoverable items, and they're looking to have him come before the committee. And you're absolutely right, of course he has a right to claim his rights under the Fifth Amendment to not incriminate himself. But the irony is, of course, Flynn himself repeatedly asserted that if somebody took the Fifth Amendment, well, they must be guilty. So that Flynn is in a somewhat contradictory position himself. But, you're right, Chris, of course he has the right to claim that and it does not imply guilt.

CUOMO: Right.

HOYER: But, you know, I think the committee has a right to ask him to come before the committee and testify, and he has the right to claim the Fifth Amendment. So we'll see what happens from there.

CUOMO: People talk one way when it's not themselves who are in jeopardy. We've all -- we've seen that before.


CUOMO: On the intel side, what are you hearing from Republican colleagues who are publicly quiet about what the president did in divulging classified information to the Russians, calling Comey a nut job and saying that firing him got the pressure off him. We just had Senator Lankford on. He said, you know, in public, he's given the president somewhat of a pass. In private he'll talk to them. What are you hearing about the GOP who aren't speaking out?

HOYER: Well, I think the -- what I'm hearing from, not a lot of Republicans, but when I -- when they comment, that they're -- they're very concerned. They're concerned about what the president is doing, the actions that he's taken. Yes, the disclosure of information to the Russians and now I just saw I think this morning, and maybe it was last night, that Duterte was on the phone with President Trump and he disclosed the whereabouts of a couple of nuclear submarines, which is obviously highly classified information, which should not be divulged to anybody, particularly for the safety of those men and women of the Navy who are on those ships, but also for the fact that they made that information may be transmitted to others who are not our friends.

So that -- I think this administration again has been very sloppy in terms of following procedures which would protect our national security. The president in particular. I think it's of great concern to the members of Congress that I talk to, including some of my Republican friends who privately, as you point out, Chris, are expressing great reservations about what this president is doing.

CUOMO: Well, it's an interesting dynamic we see unfolding.


CUOMO: You have all these leaks coming out, often from officials, the White House, the intel community, because they're concerned about the president's actions.


CUOMO: It's created an interesting dynamic for the American people.

Congressman, thank you for joining us. You're always welcome on NEW DAY to talk about what matters.

HOYER: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, President Trump will be attending his first NATO summit and he may get an earful from a key U.S. ally. We take you to Brussels, next.


[08:43:41] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, the Republican candidate for an open U.S. House seat in Montana now facing an assault charge for allegedly body slamming a reporter on the eve of today's special election. A spokesman for Greg Gianforte says reporter Ben Jacobs was acting aggressively. Ben Jacobs denies that. CUOMO: The CBO score on the GOP health care bill that passed the House

is out. Twenty-three million fewer people would be ensured by 2026 under the GOP plan. The CBO also found the bill would reduce deficits by $119 billion compared with Obamacare.

CAMEROTA: Reports this morning that British police have stopped sharing intelligence about the bombing in Manchester with the U.S. amid intel leaks.

CUOMO: The Justice Department says Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador last year on his security clearance form. A spokesman clarifying Sessions did so after consulting with the FBI.

CAMEROTA: Former President Barack Obama discussing current hot button U.S. topics in a joint appearance with the German chancellor in Berlin this morning. He did not mention President Trump by name, but talked about the signature health care law being in danger.

CUOMO: For more of the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CAMEROTA: So in less than two hours, President Trump attends his first NATO summit and it comes at a tense time.

[08:45:02] CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray is traveling with the president and she joins us live from Brussels.

Give us the latest, Sara.


Well, as you mentioned, the British government is growing increasingly frustrated with its American allies for what they say are intelligence leaks related to this investigation around the Manchester attack. Now, Prime Minister Theresa May said that she plans to make sure that President Trump is aware that information and sensitive intelligence shared between those two countries must remain secure.

Now, President Trump was asked twice today at his earlier meetings before he arrives here at NATO whether Britain can trust the U.S. with sensitive intelligence. He didn't answer the question. All this comes against the backdrops of some of our allies feeling a little bit wary about whether the U.S. is still a credible intelligence sharing partner. That comes after President Trump himself shared highly classified information that came from our ally Israel in a meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials. So not exactly the background that President Trump hoped he would be coming into for his first NATO Summit. But remember, back in the states, Trump has decried intelligence leaks, saying that they're harmful for diplomacy. So we may see him -- we may see him talk about that a little bit today. We'll certainly be watching to see if it's addressed at all publically, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Thanks so much, Sara. CUOMO: Leaks, they're going to be the subject for the president as

part of the agenda at the NATO meeting. Not about what the media has leaked or been leaked to the media, but what the president has said about highly classified information in meetings when he probably should not have. Political director David Chalian takes us through "The Bottom Line," next.


[08:50:06] CUOMO: President Trump may have to answer questions about leaks of sensitive intel by him with NATO partners today and leaks from officials to the media about the U.K. terror attacks, specifically when he speaks with British Prime Minister Theresa May at that summit in Brussels today.

So, let's get "The bottom Line" of this impact with CNN political director David Chalian.

What do you make of that?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you said he's going to face questions. We know that President Trump has already faced a couple questions from reporters on the intel sharing concerns that are being expressed from Theresa May and others and he avoided those questions, Chris. But that -- he is not going to be able to avoid them in a private meeting.

And I thought it was just stunning to see Theresa May this morning say flat-out that she is going to confront President Trump about the concern that sharing intel with the Americans got out into the public. This is now a fundamental issue of trust and is the United States, under President Trump, a trustworthy partner? And clearly Theresa May wants to take this directly to the president.

CAMEROTA: But what can the president do? I mean if reporters from "The New York Times" or CNN have a contact in the U.K.'s security service, and the U.K. security service gives them a photograph, how can President Trump stop that from getting out into the press?

CHALIAN: Alisyn, I think it's a good question actually. I am not -- we have no knowledge that Donald Trump had anything to do with this piece of information being leaked to American reporters, right? I mean unlike learning that we know Donald Trump did, in fact, share intel from an Israeli source with the Russians in the Oval Office. This is a different kind of scenario, which is why I think that Donald Trump has this burden now of establishing trust again with some of our closest partners. It's not just this one off. It's that there's also reporting out there about Donald Trump sharing intelligence in a different matter.

CUOMO: Right.

CHALIAN: So you're right about the Manchester incident, but I think the question of Trump's trust is now, for his fellow global leaders, to discuss at that (INAUDIBLE). CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, look, that -- you're right, they are two

completely separate things. What he did in the Oval Office where he divulged information, did not follow protocol for declassifying information, that's one thing and certainly Israel can have an issue with that or other world leaders.

But in terms of -- President Trump already doesn't trust the media, so how is -- that just means that he's going to --

CUOMO: Yes, but I don't' think that's the issue.

CAMEROTA: But if Theresa May wants him to crack down on the leaks to the media --

CUOMO: That's not the issue. The issue is, Theresa May is going to say, control your intel people. They're leaking information we are giving them to your media. Tell them to stop. That's what she's going to say.

CAMEROTA: Unless it came from the British intel people and --

CHALIAN: Guys, Donald Trump controlling his intel people does not some to be some of his top skills right now, obviously.

CUOMO: But, I'm saying, that's what the issue is. Right.

CHALIAN: And this is all part of the fall-out of going to war with the intel community.

CUOMO: But that's the issue. She's not going to say control your media. She's going to say, control your intel assets.

Let me ask you something about Sean Spicer. How big deal is this? Is it true that he's upset about not meeting the pope? Is there any significance to this?

CHALIAN: I mean our reporting, Jeremy Diamond, our colleague, who's traveling -- you know, has a source saying that Sean Spicer was fuming about this. How big of a deal? It seems to be a big deal for Sean Spicer. I'm not sure that it's a much bigger deal beyond that. But it is impossible not to assess with all that's swirling around this White House, and we talk about who's in, who's out and who the president is listening to, to look at this and say, well, the White House press secretary seems to feel snubbed by it. So if the press secretary feels snubbed from the president, that seems to be a significant moment in the relationship.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this Montana race, this open House seat, where the Republican candidate was caught on audiotape body slamming a reporter from "The Guardian." We had that reporter on here on NEW DAY who said that he did not do anything aggressive towards the candidate. The candidate then -- he just either has an anger management issue or had a hair trigger temper because of a question that was asked and he body slammed the reporter. Do you expect any sort of national stage Republicans to speak out against this today? CHALIAN: I don't. I think that you're going to hear more silence than

anything else. Obviously, I don't think anyone's going to come out and condone the behavior. And now the big question that hangs out there is, can you be cited for assault on the eve of an election and still be elected as a member of Congress? And we'll learn that answer tonight when the results come in after the polls close late tonight and into the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

But, clearly, this does sort of speak to just a larger moment in our politics and how tense things have become. There does seem to need to be some dialing down of this. Obviously Gianforte, from all the witnesses, from Ben Jacobs' account, from the sheriffs' citation putting out the facts of what happened, clearly was in the wrong here and I would not imagine we're going to hear many Republicans come to his defense. So I don't think we'll hear from Paul Ryan or other (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: What an (INAUDIBLE). Not coming to defense is one thing, you know, but what you ignore, you empower. Not a time to be shy. It's a time to be standing up if you're a leader.

[08:55:12] David Chalian, thank you very much.


CUOMO: All right, how about some "Good Stuff"? I need it, next.

CAMEROTA: Then let's do it.


CUOMO: All right, this is a good, "Good Stuff." You're about to meet a real-life hero from Pennsylvania. Take a look at this. There's a car banged up. Smoke pouring out if it. What would you do?


ARMY STAFF SGT. ESTEVAN AZOCAR, RESCUED COUPLE TRAPPED IN CAR: You see them like struggling. They couldn't breathe. The vehicle wouldn't open. And I did everything I could to try to find something to bust the window.


CUOMO: That's Army Staff Sergeant Estevan Azocar. He was driving with his wife and daughter when he saw the car. Azocar -- his name sounds like Azocar, which means sugar in Spanish, and it is similar because what he did was sweet. He stops his car on the shoulder of the road, runs over to the couple and helps them trapped inside.


AZOCAR: I didn't care if I had to, you know, bust it with my hand. I just wanted to get them out of there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Ah, it was just smoke. What's the big deal? Here's the big deal. Just moments after Azocar freed the couple, that tractor trailer slammed into their car.

[09:00:00] CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: The couple says they're forever grateful to him and his act of bravery.

CAMEROTA: That's incredible. What an angel sent at exactly the right time.

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: That is a good, "Good Stuff."

All right, it is time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John