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Gianforte Wins Montana House Seat; Russia Probe Focuses On Kushner; Trump Scolds NATO Allies Over Defense Spending; Official: Bomber Spoke To Brother Before Manchester Attack; Beyond The Call Of Duty. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired May 26, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:31:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The results are in and Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Montana's special election for an open House seat, he is headed to Washington. Accusations of body slamming a reporter and a misdemeanor assault charge are going with him. So what will his new colleagues say to him when he arrives on Capitol Hill?
Joining us now to discuss this and much more, Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us. My question to you, are you proud to serve with Greg Gianforte?
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR, (R) VIRGINIA, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Good morning. It's good to be with you. Look, Montana spoke very clearly who they want to represent them in Washington so we have to honor that. There's no question that the behavior is unacceptable. You know, Congressman Moulton was just on there speaking about how he's recruiting veterans who have been in tougher situations. I am, too, so if you're a veteran, call me up. But I will tell you that it's unacceptable behavior and to say otherwise is -- would be false, obviously. But, Montanans spoke very clearly.
BERMAN: You know, let me just play a little bit of sound of Nancy Pelosi, obviously, the Democratic leader, who's got a slightly different take. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: And to see this person who wants to be the one representative into the House of Representative from Montana be sort of a wannabe Trump. You know, use language like that, treat people harshly like that. That's his model -- Donald Trump's his model. And we've really got to say come on, behave, behave. That was outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You know, Congressman, as a society, has the bar been lowered here? I mean, here's a guy who's accused of assaulting a reporter -- we heard the audio for ourselves -- and now he's been elected. He apologized. You know, Paul Ryan said he's going to be a valuable, conservative voice -- bygones. You know, has the bar been lowered here for what's acceptable in our society? TAYLOR: Well, look, there's no question that I'm not going to agree with a lot of things that Nancy Pelosi, but look, it's tense out there and people need to be calm. And there's no question that the behavior is unacceptable and he will pay for any consequences that come out of that, of course. So when I listen to that statement it's very partisan, of course. I would wish that and hope that she would also say the same thing about some of the -- some protestors that are out there that are also stepping over the line in protests on her side. So I think the country, in general, has to -- has to calm down. We need to get things done for the American people up in Washington and we need to reduce tensions around our nation.
BERMAN: You also say that protestors on either side will be serving in Congress -- you know, beside you -- and these protesters were not charged with assault as the new congressman was but I do get your point. You spoke out. You said -- you said --
TAYLOR: One of my protestors was charged with assault, sir, at one of my -- at one of my town halls, so what I'm saying to you is I don't agree with the behavior. I think it's unacceptable for an elected official. There's no question about that.
TAYLOR: He will deal with those consequences. And I will tell you that I wish that all leaders on both sides would call for a reduction in emotions and tensions across our nation. That is the right thing to do.
BERMAN: Well said, sir. Let me ask you about Jared Kushner right now. CNN is reporting that Jared Kushner has become a focus of the investigation to alleged contacts or ties between the Trump campaign and Trump transition and Russia. Jared Kushner is a senior adviser -- he's also the president's son-in-law -- senior adviser to the White House in charge of a whole lot of things. Mideast peace, China talks, improved ties with Mexico, innovative government, criminal justice reform. What's your comfort level with a man now who is at least being investigated by the FBI, being in charge with all of these things? What does it say to you?
TAYLOR: Well, in this country, as you very well know, you're innocent until proven guilty and I've said on this program before, let's let the facts lie where they may. We have a special prosecutor, we have an intelligence investigation on the House, one on the -- on the Senate as well. We have an FBI investigation, so let it take its course.
[07:35:12] I think there's a -- there's a bigger problem out here right now. These things are -- you know, let them take their course and we'll see what happens with it, and when the facts come out we'll discuss that as well. But the bigger issue is here is what the American -- the American people need a policy -- need a cyber policy. A uniform policy that says what is an act of war -- defines that. What is an act of aggression? Where is the red line for other countries meddling in our elections? We don't have that right now. It's being lost, quite frankly, on all the partisan discussion. You
had Rep. Seth Moulton, who I respect, on here before and he's talking about another commission. I mean, they -- you already have all these things and there are many things that he's very much correct with the president. We need to work on things that he promised where there's some bipartisan agreement, on infrastructure things, to move forward, and if you're a Democrat or a Republican you should be doing those things. We have plenty of investigations going on right now into Russia but what we're missing here is a uniform policy to make sure this doesn't happen again.
BERMAN: Fair point. Now, obviously, NATO is very concerned with Russia and the President of the United States spoke before NATO yesterday. And I'm really interested on our take on this, you know, as a Navy SEAL, as a U.S. veteran who served alongside U.S. NATO allies. The president went to NATO and lectured them about their contributions to their own defense. It may be a very valid point. It would be nice, I think, the U.S. thinks to have all NATO members contributing more, but it was a very different tone than he had when he went to Saudi Arabia. When he was in Saudi Arabia he literally said we are not here to lecture you. Yet, with the NATO allies, he lectured them. Is that, you know, an appropriate message to some of America's greatest allies?
TAYLOR: Well, there's no question that we have a very strong commitment to our NATO allies.
BERMAN: But he didn't say --
TAYLOR: And there's also no question that you --
BERMAN: But he didn't say that. He didn't commit himself. Just to be clear because he did not say --
BERMAN: -- I stand behind Article 5, the collective defense. That was a notable omission from his statement, also.
TAYLOR: I don't think there's any question that we would stand by that as a nation. But what I'll say to you is, you know, sometimes families have disagreements and sometimes family disagreements are pretty deep. And I will tell you that you've had two presidents -- President Obama, President Trump -- who have both said the same thing, that members of NATO, the 23 out of 28 who aren't holding their end of the bargain up, who aren't paying for the defense, that's very important.
You know, Gen. Mattis said something to me on Air Force One on time when he went over there and had to deliver that message as well, too. And what he said was when he looked at them -- and he said no one is going to care more about your kids than you, and that's very important. There's no question that we're going to hold up our end of the bargain, that we're going to fight for our allies. We have to. We have a duty to do that.
BERMAN: Would you like --
TAYLOR: But they should also hold up their end of the bargain and both President Obama and President Trump have told them that.
BERMAN: Would you like to have heard the president speak those words when he was speaking to his NATO allies right there, to say that the United States will honor Article 5 and stand beside our allies if they're attacked?
TAYLOR: I think it would be good if he said that, sure, but that being said, I believe that we will uphold our end of the bargain as Americans.
BERMAN: Scott Taylor, congressman from Virginia, great to have you with us, sir. Thanks so much for your time and, obviously --
TAYLOR: Thank you, sir.
BERMAN: -- your service, as well.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
BERMAN: Appreciate it -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, John. President Trump pushing ahead and getting some lessons in diplomacy at the NATO summit. The moments that have people buzzing.
[07:42:10] CAMEROTA: We have a development to tell you of in the Manchester terror attack. Officials say the suicide bomber spoke to his brother in Libya minutes before the deadly attack. Senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward is in Manchester with the latest. Tell us about this development, Clarissa.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. Well, the brother and father of the suicide bomber have been detained in Tripoli, Libya by a militia, and the brother reportedly telling this militia that he spoke to Salman Abedi -- to the suicide bomber just 15 minutes before he went on to kill 22 people at the Manchester Arena. According to the militia, the brother says that he didn't know the specifics of the attack, didn't know what the target was, but that he was aware that he brother was plotting a terrorist attack here in the United Kingdom.
Now, meanwhile, raids have been going on throughout the night and into the morning as police really try to drill down on the network that likely would have facilitated this attack and, specifically, they are looking to try to find who made that bomb. According to an explosives expert that CNN has spoken to the bomb is made with above-rudimentary level of sophistication. People do not believe that Salman Abedi, based on his profile, could have made it without some assistance, so that's what they're focused on. Trying to find out if there is potentially a bomb maker and a larger ISIS network still on the loose here in the United Kingdom -- John. BERMAN: All right, Clarissa Ward for us. Keep us updated on that investigation.
In the meantime, police in Phoenix arrested a man who got into the Comic-Con event there with four guns and a knife. It is unclear how he got past security. Officials say they tracked him down after someone noticed pictures and threats he made toward officers on social media. Event organizers say attendees can still come in costume but in light of this incident they are now banning props.
CAMEROTA: OK, John. Social media is all over the president's latest handshake showdown. He and French President Emmanuel Macron going mano a mano, not once but twice during NATO meetings. (Video playing) The first -- here you'll see it. OK, that was when they had a sit- down. There's a lot of handshaking -- a lot of shaking.
BERMAN: Macron would not let go. He wouldn't let go.
CAMEROTA: It was intense. There hands and jaws clenched. Do you give that one to Macron?
BERMAN: Absolutely. He wouldn't let go.
CAMEROTA: Oh, look at this. Wow, what's happening here? OK, this is the rematch. That was the two greeting each other before President Trump's big NATO speech. Mr. Trump pulling Macron -- could you slow mo this please? He pulls him in -- oh yes, he pulls him --
BERMAN: Oh, he got the better one on that.
CAMEROTA: -- but then he gets the forearm. You see Macron gets the forearm and tries to push it away, and then he gets the last pat. Did you see that?
BERMAN: I did see the last pat.
CAMEROTA: Oh now, this brings us to the shove. President Trump pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro in order to get to the front of the pack. Look at this face. The White House official apparently dismissing this shove as nothing more than a casual greeting.
[07:45:10] BERMAN: You know, there are some parts of the world where you do shove one -- someone aside --
CAMEROTA: Do you?
BERMAN: -- as part of a casual greeting.
CAMEROTA: In Montenegro?
BERMAN: I will say that the Macron thing is fascinating to me because it is almost as if the president of France was briefed beforehand and said look --
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. BERMAN: -- when the president meets you he's going to want to --
BERMAN: -- shake your hand.
CAMEROTA: Yes, and it's a full-body contact.
BERMAN: Yes, don't let go. If you want to look good in here you keep a firm wrist there. You do not let go.
CAMEROTA: That's right, in handshake or half nelson. That's what you're seeing right here.
BERMAN: Look, he didn't let go. He did not let go.
BERMAN: He was well-briefed.
CAMEROTA: He was shaking, shaking. But the next one, too, is funny where he -- you know, you grab the forearm. Look at this. He pulls him in --
CAMEROTA: -- he pushes the forearm, and then he gets the -- watch the last pat -- there you go.
BERMAN: Well, the president has a reach advantage here. In a match they'll tell you the guy with the reach does have an advantage there.
CAMEROTA: All right, let us know who you think won the handshake showdown.
BERMAN: All right. As for Montana, the big winner there, he was accused of body slamming a reporter. Nice segue there. He is now heading to Capitol Hill. Is this level of hostility -- is this the new norm? Stick around.
BERMAN: In Atlanta, a rookie police officer responding to a shoplifting call found the suspect in tears. He decided to put his heart before his procedures. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has the story in this week's "Beyond the Call of Duty."
OFFICER CHE MILTON, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'll be in touch.
[07:50:00] SHAMIKA STAPLES (ph): All right. OK, thank you.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officer Che Milton didn't know he would be changing Shamika Staples' life when he responded to a routine 911 call. MILTON: We were dispatched to a shoplifting call in the Family
Dollar. We get there, we go inside and this 12-year-old girl, Heaven (ph), she's crying -- bawling tears everywhere. You know, she's upset she's been caught stealing.
HARTUNG: That 12-year-old girl, Shamika's oldest child of six, was caught stealing a cheap pair of shoes.
MILTON: And she thought she was going to jail and she had that she was trying to steal the shoes for her 5-year-old sister. Like I said, me being me, Iused officers' discretion. I couldn't put her in the system for that so I'd rather just take her home to see what's going on.
HARTUNG: Officer Milton drove her one-half mile back home.
MILTON: That's when I opened the door and I saw the conditions. It was very rough on them so it just pulled on my heartstrings. And I saw there was no food in the house, there's not much furniture. It wasn't -- they didn't have any beds.
HARTUNG: From a law enforcement family and only four days on the job with the Atlanta Police Department, Office Milton returned to the Staples' house that night with dinner for the whole family, paid for with his own money.
MILTON: The mom got teary-eyed. Me, I get emotional as well.
HARTUNG: Milton then got a call from his supervisor with a commendation, "Office of the Month" in his first month on the job. As word of his generosity spread throughout the community, more support for the Staples family followed.
What has Officer Milton come to mean to your family?
STAPLES: Well, he's definitely been a blessing. Just like a prayer was answered and it was through him.
HARTUNG: And for her sixth-grade daughter back at school, this turned into a positive learning experience.
STAPLES: She wants to volunteer somewhere. She's like we have -- you know, we have stuff that's too little for us I want to give away. So she wants to give away things. So it's like a trickle effect.
HARTUNG: This was Officer Milton's fourth trip to deliver donations and he says it won't be his last. Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia.
CAMEROTA: That is a beautiful story. I mean, you know, the generosity just pay dividends and has a huge ripple effect.
BERMAN: Lovely, lovely. CAMEROTA: OK. Montana Republican Greg Gianforte is the big winner in Montana's special election for an open U.S. House seat last night, but as he heads to Washington he is also facing an assault charge. He's accused of body slamming a reporter. After his win, Gianforte apologized for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG GIANFORTE, (R) MONTANA REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT: I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that, I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So is this an isolated incident or is there something larger here about how hostility towards the press? Let's discuss with CNN media analyst Bill Carter and senior editor at "The Atlantic," David Frum. Gentlemen, great to see you.
David, you could chalk this up to just one guy's hair-trigger temper until you read Kyung Lah's tweet. She was on assignment on the ground there in Montana and here's what she reports outside of the polling places. "Montana GOP voter to me just now, knowing I work for CNN: That audio made me cheer." The audio, in other words, of the assault. "She smiled as she walked in to vote for Gianforte." Next, "Montana GOP voter, upon hearing we're from CNN: You're lucky someone doesn't pop one of you."David, what do you think is going on here?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Well look, you can -- as you said, you can ascribe what happened to the character flaws of one volatile, overindulged man and who happened to snap in a moment and then happened a few hours later to snap again and direct his press spokesman to lie about it, and who snapped again over the next 24 hours at intervals where he didn't do anything about it. And one imagines that he will keep -- continue to snap in these ways through the rest of his life.
I am horrified, of course, by those reaction to the polls but even more concerning to me has been the reaction of not the overwhelming number, but a good many in the conservative media world who have found ways either to mitigate, sometimes, condone -- in a few cases even outright justify what happened. What it -- civilization is thin. There's a lot of violence in human nature. What matters is whether people who speak for society give permission to these impulses and a lot of people in the conservative world, beginning with the president himself, who called the press the enemy of the people, they have given permission to these actions. That's really frightening.
BERMAN: We should note, just moments ago in Sicily, we learned that President Trump walking away at one point and turned to the cameras and said "great win in Montana." Apparently not great in Montana and, by the way, the guy should not have assault a reporter, just "great win in Montana."
CAMEROTA: But apropos nothing.
BERMAN: Apropos nothing.
CAMEROTA: I mean, he felt that it was important in Sicily to say -- to mention that.
BERMAN: You know, Paul Ryan said that Greg Gianforte will be an important conservative voice in Congress. There are Republican members -- Scott Taylor, who I just talked to, from Virginia, Bill Carter, said that the actions are completely unacceptable there. You know, what do Republicans need to say here?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST, AUTHOR, "THE WAR FOR LATE NIGHT": I think they have to come out and say something serious now. I mean, they've basically looked the other way for an awful lot of this. This isn't the first incident. There have been other reporters that were pushed around. There's a reporter that was pushed around by his campaign manager during the campaign. You know, in the rallies they'd be pinned up and attacked.
07:55:10] CAMEROTA: And, in fact -- Bill, I'm sorry to interrupt you but that's Michelle Fields and there's something relevant today. She just put out an op-ed in "The New York Times" so let me just read it for you so that you can then make your peace. "In the United States today, it seems all politics has become entirely situational, and Republicans have put party over civility. Had Ben" -- the reporter -- "been attacked by a Democrat, many on the right who arerefusing to believe the assault occurred or outright praising it, would be hailing him as a victim of liberal rage." Go ahead, Bill.
FRUM: Well, that's making it more extreme. Had the congressman been a black Democrat imagine what Rush Limbaugh would have said.
FRUM: Rush Limbaugh called the attack "stugly and manly." Imagine -- it would have -- you would have had an explosion of racial provocation. It's -- but it's not just --
FRUM: It's not just cryable (ph), I mean, for Mr. Gianforte. Let me tell you what a real apology looks like in those circumstances. It's not delivered in public until after it has been said face-to-face. There is no apology to a crowd, there's only an apology to a person. It would have been nice -- Mr. Gianforte's a very wealthy man -- if he'd said I'm making a charity -- a donation in Mr. Jacob's name to the charity of his choice. And, by the way, my first interview as a member of Congress will be with Ben Jacobs. That's how you act if you have remorse and you don't call a violent assault --
CARTER: Well, you also have to say --
FRUM: -- a mistake.
CAMEROTA: OK, go ahead, Bill.
CARTER: You also have to say this is country. We're supposed to have this. This is freedom of the press. This is First Amendment stuff. I mean, if you want to celebrate people, you know, attacking reporters, yes, I guess that's why you back someone like Putin who, you know, basically has them, you know, either murdered or eliminated in other ways.
We don't do that. We're not supposed to do that in this country. We're supposed to stand up for our principles, not celebrate someone who is violating the principles, which is what's happening here. And if the Republicans want to just shrug it off and say oh well, you know, it was a momentary thing -- this is going on way too much. Somebody has to stop it. We did have Rep. Sanford come out and say this is really ugly and --
CARTER: -- and somebody has to start saying that.
BERMAN: You know, Bill Carter, you know, king of late night analysts. As you can imagine, the late-night comics are making light of this situation, at least a little bit. Let's play some Stephen Colbert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Gianforte body slammed the reporter. Now that happened the night before the election. It's got to be pretty damaging. I just don't know how anyone could vote for a candidate who body slams people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've never seen Donald Trump fight like this.
COLBERT: I forgot -- nothing matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Those last words, Bill Carter, that you hear again and again -- nothing matters.
CARTER: Well, you know, that's straight from the "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" sketch where the Lester Holt character thinks he's getting somewhere with him and he says wait a minute, nothing matters -- nothing happens here matters? And if you keep excusing this behavior, at some -- you know, we -- apparently the voters excusedhis commentary about women and they're excusing this kind of behavior. Aren't we reaching a point where it's just inexcusable? You don't body slam people. I'm sorry, that's a crime and it's just inexcusable for a guy being asked a legitimate question.
BERMAN: Right, and he could still have to pay a fine and there is an investigation ongoing. Mr. Frum, Mr. Carter, thank you so much for being with us, appreciate it.
We are following a lot of news this morning. Coming up, we're going to ask a Republican congressman what he plans to say to his newest colleague, so let's get to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FBI is looking at Jared Kushner. He is not the target at this stage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They believe that Kushner has a lot of information that he could provide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's almost no one closer to the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things have been intensifying. The president has grown increasingly frustrated.
GIANFORTE: I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that, I'm sorry.
Get the hell out of here.
BERMAN: Republican Greg Gianforte, who just won a special congressional election in Montana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't affect the way that I voted.
BEN JACOBS, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: That type of attack was beyond the pale.
REP. TRENT FRANKS, (R) ARIZONA: The left has precipitated this tense, confrontational approach.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: I hope it would be up to the people of Montana to demand a higher standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, May 26th, 8:00 in the East. Chris is off this morning. John Berman joins me. Great to have you here.
BERMAN: Good to be here.
CAMEROTA: OK, up first, the FBI probe into Russia meddling in the U.S. election getting personal for President Trump. CNN learning that investigators are looking into the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
BERMAN: There is growing interest in Kushner's role during the campaign and transition, in particular his meetings with Russian officials and his digital strategy. We're also following Montana's congressional special election. The Republican candidate, he will be headed to Washington and he's bringing with him some baggage. He's charged with assault after allegedly body slamming a reporter. He still won. We've got it all covered, started with CNN's Joe Johns live in Washington. Joe, getting very close to the president -- the Russia investigation.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Jared Kushner has played many roles.