Return to Transcripts main page
Kushner Facing Increased Scrutiny; Trump Lashes Out At Leaks In Twitter Rant; Honoring Our Veterans in New Documentary. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired May 29, 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] DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Why -- they didn't do any of that in the transition.
PETE HOEKSTRA, PRESIDENT, HOEKSTRA GLOBAL STRATEGIES: Oh, I think that Republicans and Democrats are very much in agreement. If the Russians hacked into the system and tried to influence our elections and tried to weigh the scales one way or another we are absolutely, totally furious about that. And it's kind of like OK, that is said, now let's move on, let's identify -- and that process is going on. You've got two investigations going on in the Senate, you've got an investigation going on in the Justice Department. But at the same time, we have crucial national security issues that have to be addressed and so you go through that process.
David, what I'm really serious about are the comments that Michael Hayden made on Saturday where he was talking about, you know, the -- it would -- it would be dereliction of duty if Susan Rice was not listening to these conversations, if she was not unmasking. I'm very concerned about where our Intelligence Community has gone in terms of what they believe they can listen to in terms -- in relationship --
HOEKSTRA: -- and then what they can leak.
GREGORY: All right. There's a lot in that topic -- a lot more to discuss.
BILL RICHARDSON, (D), FORMER GOV. OF NEW MEXICO.: Lots going on.
GREGORY: We're going to leave it here for now.
GREGORY: Pete Hoekstra, Bill Richardson, thank you both very much.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump lashing out at leaks. Why are so many coming out? Are they helpful or harmful? We get the FBI's perspective and the media one, next.
[07:35:25] CAMEROTA: President Trump is back on Twitter.
GREGORY: Thank God.
CAMEROTA: I know you've missed it during the foreign trip. Here's one of his recent tweets. It reads, "It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the fake news media." But that's incorrect and it shows a deep misunderstanding of how the press works.
Joining us to discuss is the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, Frank Sesno. He's the author of "Ask More." And, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired special agent at the FBI, James Gagliano. Great to have both of you with us. So, Frank, it doesn't sound as if the president really understands how the press works. You cannot make up sources, you can't make up stories. And if you do at a real institution, such as "The Washington Post," "New York Times," "CNN," you are fired and you leave in disgrace.
FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF MEDIA & PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Yes --
CAMEROTA: He -- I mean, his White House is leaking.
SESNO: It's extraordinary. His White House is leaking a lot. The last time that I can think of when a White House leaked this much and in this way with these sort of warring camps going at one another with the information that's going out was the Reagan White House in the early days when they were sort of the triumvirate of Baker, Deaver, Meese, and they were kind of using the press to level charges and shoot down trial balloons at one another. In Washington, we recognize this. This is, in fact, the way Washington works.
It is, in fact, is the way the media work, which is to capture this sort of people who leak for a variety of reasons. It's important for people to understand that. Some people leak because they're disgruntled. Some people leak because they're really concerned about what's going on. Some people leak because they feel it's the only way to put their concerns out there because they're minimized by a process in the White House or anywhere else, where they're being ignored. Some people leak because they've got gigantic worries about where things are going. So this is not about fake media, this is about problems within the White House and elsewhere. And people are settling scores, in some cases, through the media. That is the way it works.
GREGORY: But Jim, you talk about -- look, the Justice Department leaks, the FBI leaks. There's also numerous reasons why that happens. In this case, there's no question. You have an entrenched law enforcement intelligence bureaucracy striking back at Trump for reasons that they think are out of concern for things that he's doing. But you have Gen. Kelly, our Homeland Security secretary, saying this is borderline treason.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure, and David, I think what you have to do is you have to weigh, obviously, the public's right to know with the deleterious effect that leaking classified information you have.
If you look at this in historical context, the Bureau, going back to when J. Edgar Hoover was 29 years old and took over the Bureau of Investigation in 1924 up to 1948, the big leak was information being given to Thomas Dewey against the -- you know, against President Truman during the campaign, and then to Watergate. J. Edgar Hoover passes away in May of '72. Six weeks later you have the break-in. The purpose behind the leaks back then was altruistic in the sense that L. Patrick Gray -- there was some concern he was too close to the Nixon White House and was not going to allow the Watergate investigation to go forward.
CAMEROTA: But why don't you think it's altruistic now?
GAGLIANO: Well, because I look at it from the perspective of he was concerned -- this is -- this is Mark Felt, Deep Throat. He was concerned, as was later related, with the fact that the investigation might have been squelched. What's going now -- what troubles me about my former colleagues in the FBI who I have great trust and confidence in but I feel like the leaks are being -- are being conducted for the purposes of we want to get back at the president for what happened to Director Comey, and that's not --
GREGORY: Right, but let's -- look, the FBI, Frank, was leaking in the Clinton administration. They were doing interviews with people they interviewed about her emails and leaking the content of those interviews. The FBI does this. They leak information on an evidence trail or to influence a particular result like they did during the Petraeus case. So this is conflict between the executive -- and it's not -- this is -- the key point is it's not always classified information. That is a legitimate issue. The press is going to do the best it can -- it can, and the administration is going to try to hold onto that information. But this is different, this isn't all classified information.
SESNO: It isn't all classified information. It's very important to realize that. Let me bring another moment of history in. Let's go back to the Clinton White House and the Lewinsky scandal. A lot of what was leaked during the Lewinsky scandal came from the White House itself because it was trying to influence the court of public opinion --
SESNO: -- and they were leaking selective pieces of information. Sometimes they were timing the most damaging pieces of information to be of lesser impact. Friday night, for example, was a favorite. Another --
[07:40:03] GREGORY: Right, and Ken Starr's people were leaking, you know -- their team.
SESNO: Absolutely. They're all --
GREGORY: -- been a prosecutor. SESNO: They're -- and they use those leaks sometimes for the right reasons, to inform the American public. Sometimes to send signals to their own team internally.
SESNO: Sometimes to show who's got the more -- you know, who's flexing their muscles.There's one other thing that Iwant to point out here and it's really important for people to understand, and that is that people in media -- responsible editors, producers, journalists and others do not just take whatever comes to them and put it out there without any thought about what's happening, you know.
At this network, for example, after 9/11, the most remarkable and disturbing attack that took place on American soil in any of our lifetimes, we had a policy in place where we said -- and we said it to ourselves and we said it to people in the administration we were talking to all the time -- that we would be sensitive to any information that could endanger lives or ongoing operations and there were plenty of things that CNN and other news organizations did not report for that very reason. So it's not -- and people should not think that there's this kind of reflexive sense that oh, you get information and you just throw it out there without any consideration.
SESNO: There's huge thought that goes into these things.
CAMEROTA: Frank, I'm so glad that you're pointing that out because it is time for a refresher course because the president says things and conflates fake media, which is like fringe websites that intentionally fabricate things and make things --
SESNO: That's right.
CAMEROTA: -- up with real journalistic institutions. It's confusing for people --
SESNO: Fake news --
CAMEROTA: -- so I --
SESNO: Right. Fake news is not news you don't like.
CAMEROTA: Of course --
SESNO: I mean, that's just -- and leaks may be unfair, they may be a lot of other things, but they're --
CAMEROTA: That's right, but we have rules --
SESNO: -- fake if they're made up.
CAMEROTA: That's right.
SESNO: They're not fake -- GREGORY: But he's really --
CAMEROTA: -- and we adhere to those rules.
GREGORY: And he's not the only president to be mad about leaks, for sure. Jim, Frank, thank you both --
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
GREGORY: -- very much. When we come back, more diplomacy. How about the handshake that shook up the Internet? French President Emmanuel Macron says yes, it wasn't so innocent actually, there's something going on there. His eye-opening comments coming up next.
[07:45:30] CAMEROTA: British police making another arrest as the investigation widens into the deadly terror attack in Manchester. Fourteen men now in custody in connection with that bombing which killed 22 people, including seven children last week. Britain's security agency also reportedly launching an internal investigation focusing on missed warnings that could have prevented the attack.
GREGORY: And given terrorism warnings, the White House may expand its ban on laptops and e-readers to all international flights into and out of the United States. Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly saying, "There are numerous threats against aviation" and added, "The terrorists are obsessed by the idea of taking down an airplane." Right now, devices larger than a cellphone are banned on some U.S.- bound flights originating from eight foreign countries.
CAMEROTA: All right. France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, now explaining his first rather intense handshake with President Trump. He is acknowledging that "It was not innocent." Macron telling a French newspaper it was "a moment of truth. One must show that we will not make little concessions, even symbolic ones." The power play continued during their second encounter outside of NATO headquarters. (Video playing) Here you see Macron swerving past Donald Trump to embrace German Chancellor Angela Merkel and shaking hands with NATO's secretary general and Belgium's prime minister before greeting President Trump.
GREGORY: But, no, no -- the president's not going to take that lying down. He's going to pull him into the strong -- the strongman handshake --
CAMEROTA: I know.
GREGORY: -- on the rope line there. Nobody shook his hand stronger there than President Trump.
CAMEROTA: Oh, no, they have a total tug-of-war, but this one lasts --
GREGORY: This one --
CAMEROTA: -- an epic -- GREGORY: I'm still feeling the pain. They're still --
CAMEROTA: -- long time.
GREGORY: They're still holding hands.
CAMEROTA: As I've said, handshake or half nelson?
CAMEROTA: It's hard to tell with these two.
GREGORY: Oh, it's going to become arm-wrestling.
CAMEROTA: It is arm-wrestling.
All right. Meanwhile, we are honoring our veterans this Memorial Day. We talk to former Defense secretary and veteran Chuck Hagel about an event at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial that is very close to his heart. That's ahead.
[07:51:15] GREGORY: In just a few hours, President Trump will mark Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr live at Arlington National Cemetery this morning. Barbara, good morning.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you, Memorial Day 2017. We're here at section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, very hallowed ground over the years. This is the section of the cemetery where so many who have fallen on the battlefield since 9/11 are buried. The cemetery's opening to the public just at this hour so we're beginning to see people arrive.
And traditionally, what we see here every year, all day long, people come, they pay their respects. And at many of these final resting places, like this one we want to show you here, Sgt. Jeremy Campbell of the Army -- you see some of the very personal mementos people leave -- a cover, a hat, a cigar, the flowers, the American flag. A little further away there are a couple of resting places where we see friends have left beverage cans. This is a place where 890 souls have been laid to rest in the war since 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so many other far-off places around the world -- Alisyn, David.
CAMEROTA: Barbara, thank you for showing us that beautiful shot this morning from Arlington National Cemetery.
Well, for 35 years, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has stood as a symbol for fallen heroes. Today, the sacrifice of the fallen will be honored in an annual Memorial Day observance at the wall. And two people participating in that observance are former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, himself a Vietnam veteran, and Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and director of "The Vietnam War" which is scheduled to premiere this fall on PBS. And you were kind enough to bring us a little preview which we will show momentarily.
But first, Sec. Hagel, tell us the significance of today for you and, of course, the observance at the Vietnam Wall.
CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, first, thank you both for giving Ken and I some time this morning to recognize what we think is a pretty important day for our country and you do, too. The significance for me is, like any veteran, I think, who's ever served this country in any way is the day itself and what it means.
The Vietnam Veteran Memorial is something that means a lot to me. Like many Vietnam veterans, I had the privilege of participating in helping get that started and 35 years ago I was one of the speakers when we broke ground and got involved early on and have been involved. So to mark this day, this 35th anniversary of a very special memorial in this country that has really, I think, changed the thinking about Vietnam, separating the war from the warrior and all the different dimensions that have come from it, it's, I think, as American as anything we do in our country and I'm very proud of all of this.
GREGORY: Ken, you know, it's interesting. We're so thankful to have veterans like Sec. Hagel who are here, who can talk about the war and his experience and pay tribute to those with whom he served. As you well know, we think about World War II. That generation is getting older and dying. And I think as Rick Atkinson writes in his books, probably in the next 20 years or so we get down to a very small number of those veterans who still survive. What's the importance of living memory -- of elevating memory of war among those who are still alive and not just those who have died?
[07:55:00] KEN BURNS, EMMY-WINNING DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: This is hugely important, David. The question that what we do today is more than anything else. We commemorate and we remember and we honor it. And we are so privileged in our film to be able to have the firsthand testimony of people for a very, very difficult war expressing for the first time their truths, the lessons of that war.
And I think, as the Secretary suggests, if there was one lesson that came out of Vietnam that we're never going to forget is that we're going to separate the war from the warrior, that we're never going to blame our soldiers again as we did for some period during the Vietnam conflict. And, we're very excited to be able to sort of share a more complexed and nuanced story of the Vietnam War now that we've sort of escaped all of the specific gravity and we're not so identified with the right and wrong of it. We understand in all wars -- and all wars teach us this -- that there can be more than one truth operating at the same time.
CAMEROTA: And Ken, as we've mentioned that it comes out in a couple of months on PBS that you're sharing a little preview of the film with us, so let's watch a moment of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM O'BRIEN, ARMY VETERAN: I fear that there's a kind of national amnesia about Vietnam. We've erased the horror of the kinds of mistakes that were made. I think this film, at this point in history, might be a terrific anecdote to that.
VINCENT OKAMOTO, ARMY VETERAN: To see these kids who had the least to gain, there wasn't anything to look forward to. They weren't going to be rewarded for their service in Vietnam, and yet their infinite patience, their loyalty to each other, their courage under fire was just phenomenal, and you would ask yourself how does America produce young men like this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, even just that clip is so powerful. So, Sec. Hagel, do you see that national amnesia about Vietnam?
HAGEL: Well, we are living in a world today, and you all understand this better than anyone, that is so all-consuming with breaking news, event after event, I think it's difficult for especially young people to absorb our history, and that means that we are all more challenged to explain these big events in our history that really shaped and molded our culture.
Vietnam -- that time, the sixties, I think did as much to shape every institution in this country as any one event in many, many years. Wars always shape events and outcomes and they all have consequences well beyond a battlefield. But the Vietnam War was -- you think just of '68, what happened in that year. Assassinations of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Tad Offensive -- all the things that shaped all the institutions that we have are important for our young people to understand. And I think what Ken's done here is just spectacularly important and really will help do that over many years.
GREGORY: Ken, you often say of your work that it explains who we are and in this case it's also about who we thought we should be in the world, and we still think about what America should be in the world. And I'm thinking this morning about the fact that we got involved in the Vietnam War out of fear of communism and, specifically, the Soviet Union and China, and here we are in 2017 with the Russians having manipulated our election and an investigation about close ties between an administration and Russia. What is it we need to know about Vietnam today that shapes who we are today?
BURNS: Well, you know, Mark Twain is supposed to have said that history doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes, and I've spent my entire professional life trying to listen to those rhymes. And the film that Lynn Novick and I have made for PBS that's coming out in September, is an attempt to say that the Vietnam War is the most important event in the United States in the second half of the 20th century and that so much of what's going on -- we sat in the green room and listened to your previous stories about mass demonstrations in the streets, about a White House consumed with leaks and where they come from, big document drops, asymmetrical warfare, reaching out to a foreign power at the time of an election. Over and over again the themes that sort of blossomed in Vietnam are still with us today.
And more importantly, the divisions that are with us today had their seeds in Vietnam and that because we have an amnesia about it, because we came back and didn't talk about it, because we didn't honor the warriors, we have allowed this to sort of fester and metastasize. And it becomes our obligation as Americans, regardless of our political persuasions, to work together, to speak to what we share in common and not to what divide us, to say what really happened, and there could be many different perspectives on what really happened --
BURNS: -- and then find a way to have a courageous conversation and not just yell at each other about it and just perpetuate the same divisions. Vietnam offers us an opportunity to escape the specific gravity of that metastasis and that's what we do today when we remember our veterans, when we remember our service members whose names are on the wall.