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Kushner's Contacts with Russia; Protests Spark Scuffle in Texas; Trump Tweet Deepens Rift; Business Wants Climate Deal; Woods Blames Prescription Drugs. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 30, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN SUNUNU, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I can't tell you how many people tried to meet with me between the time I was named chief of staff --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And did you meet with a Russian banker when everybody tried to meet with you?

SUNUNU: No, but I had breakfast with the vice president at the Russian embassy and a lot of folks there started talking to me.

CAMEROTA: Uh-huh. And would you have carved out time to meet with a Russian banker with ties to Vladimir Putin if he asked?

SUNUNU: I'm not even sure what would have happened if that had -- first of all, Putin wasn't there. But, look, you're asking hypotheticals on hypotheticals. There's nothing --

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm trying to actually take your temperature.

SUNUNU: You -- you have nothing --

CAMEROTA: I mean I'm trying to gauge your -- your comfort level with all of this.

SUNUNU: My comfort level -- the only discomfort I have is with folks in the media trying to create a veniality without having the courage to specifically tell me what the veniality that I should be concerned about is.

CAMEROTA: Well, but --

SUNUNU: I don't have -- I have not identified an veniality. Have you?

CAMEROTA: Well, you should be concerned if there was collusion. And that's what Congress --

SUNUNU: I don't -- I don't see any evidence of collusion. Do you?

CAMEROTA: No. That's what -- that -- but --

SUNUNU: OK. So that's -- that ends -- that should end your reporting right there.

CAMEROTA: Well, we're at the beginning of the --

SUNUNU: You should put an exclamation point after your "no."

CAMEROTA: Understood. But we're at the beginning of the investigation. So what Congress --

SUNUNU: You're seven months into the investigation.

CAMEROTA: Not exactly.

SUNUNU: You're seven months --

CAMEROTA: Robert Mueller has just taken over. Robert Mueller has just taken over.

SUNUNU: Oh, this is a new investigation.

CAMEROTA: Well, no. I mean, look, that's not exactly fair, governor, because, as you know, Congress people have been calling --

SUNUNU: The Obama investigation went on for the last --

CAMEROTA: For a special counsel to do this, to handle this because -- so it gets away from all of the partisan bickering. So it's just starting in that regard.

SUNUNU: OK. Can I ask a question? If Mueller comes out and says that my version is correct and yours isn't, how much crow are you going to eat?

CAMEROTA: Governor, I don't have a version of events. I asked --

SUNUNU: Of course you do. The whole half hour I listened to is a version.

CAMEROTA: Governor -- governor, we are asking questions of the sources of the people who know, attempting to see where the investigation is. The investigation isn't complete. Everyone agrees on that.

SUNUNU: Without -- without identifying -- without identifying a veniality that should be investigated.

CAMEROTA: Governor, we appreciate your perspective, that there's nothing to see here and that the investigation is, I don't know, silly.

SUNUNU: Politically motivated by folks trying to rationalize a horribly run Democratic presidential campaign.

CAMEROTA: Governor John Sununu, thank you very much. Always great to get your perspective.

SUNUNU: Nice to be here, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They're certainly doing a better job coordinating messaging on how to deal with the investigation. Governor Sununu, always a capable mind and a good political debater to be sure.

So, lawmakers down in Texas not doing as delicate a job. Take a look at what happened in a Texas state house. We're going to talk with a lawmaker who was accused of threatening one of his colleagues during this kerfuffle. What triggered the chaos? There's actually some real concern to be had by this, next.


[08:37:02] CUOMO: All right, you had a near brawl in the Texas house floor. State lawmakers accusing each other of death threats. There was this heated immigration protest that sparked all this. You had Republican lawmakers, one in particular, supposedly calling immigration authorities in response to some signs carried by protesters identifying themselves as undocumented. All right, so a Texas Democrat, who was there and is in fact accused of threatening his colleague, is State Representative Alfonzo "Poncho" Nevarez.

It's good to have you with us, sir.


CUOMO: So, did you threaten your colleague?


CUOMO: So why is he saying it?

NEVAREZ: Well, I mean, I think it's a little more complex than that. I mean if you go back and how it started is this gentleman made -- got in the faces of some of my colleagues and I was standing a few feet away from him and I started talking about how he was calling ICE on the people that were in the gallery protesting Senate Bill IV. And so, you know, a little scuffle broke out and I got in there and I realized -- when I realized what it was about and what he was doing and saying, you know, I got in his face and I put my hands on the guy and, you know, I asked him, you know, these are things that shouldn't happen on the house floor. It's a break in decorum. We shouldn't be doing that.

And so in that and another exchange, I said, you know, we need to take this outside because it's not going to get -- it shouldn't get resolved here in front of all these people. In fact, the DPS, which is our Texas Department of Public Safety, was removing people from the gallery because they were disorderly. We have rules of conduct.

And so as that was happening, I walked away from the guy and I didn't hear him but some of my colleagues heard him say he was going to put a bullet in my brain. And later on his FaceBook page he said that -- he commented that he made that comment because he was worried about something that I was going to do to him or whatnot. But, I mean, that's basically the sum of it. But at the end of the day, you know, we can't get away from the fact that this gentleman sees fit to call ICE on anybody who he thinks looks suspicion and, in this case, it was a gallery full of people that were chanting against this particular senate bill.

CUOMO: All right, well, he says the motivation was that the signs said, I'm -- he -- I'm an undocumented person. I'm here illegally. And I'm not going anywhere. And, therefore, he called ICE. Although ICE says he didn't contact them. But that's what he said he was going to do in response. Why would that be the wrong thing to do?

NEVAREZ: I mean I -- well, I mean I can't -- I don't -- I can't speak to his motivation, but I'll just point to the fact that at Trump rallies you had Anglo (ph) folks carrying signs that said Black Lives Matter or -- I mean, in other words, I can't speak to his motivation, but there were African-American families up there. There were Anglo (ph) families up there.

CUOMO: Sure.

NEVAREZ: I mean you're talking about people who are veterans up there. There's U.S. citizens up there, legal residents. I can't imagine the guy has some sort of radar past seeing that sign that will determine who's here illegally or who is here legally. I mean it just -- it's ridiculous.

[08:40:04] CUOMO: Right. But, Poncho --

NEVAREZ: When he looked up into the gallery to see were people that don't look like him and he reacted to that. And so, I -- you know, I can't question the guy's motivation, but I don't know.

CUOMO: I got you. But, Poncho, look, you know what we're reacting to. You guys are there, elected representatives. You're supposed to represent the best of us and you're like getting into a bar room brawl in the middle of the, you know, the state house there. What's going on?

NEVAREZ: Yes, I'm it's -- it's unfortunate. But, I mean, I'll say this is, it really has more to do with the indignities that him and people like him are piling on these people that are up -- that were up in the gallery. And, frankly, after the session that we had and the types of things we had to deal with, I mean, I just had enough. And, you know, these guys push and push and push, and we just had enough.

And, I mean, this emanates from the senate. You know, our lieutenant governor has this agenda. He's firing these guys up on the west side of the capital, and this our side, and this is the result of that. And that doesn't excuse the behavior and that's why I'm -- that's what I said is, my suggestion was, we need to take this outside because it does not fit the decorum of the house. But, again, we've been pushed, pushed and pushed, and I pushed back.

CUOMO: I hear you. I get where you're coming from. But just remember, people are so on edge right now that when they see the people who are supposed to represent the best of us saying, let's go outside and see who can beat up the other guy and settle this point, not the best example for what you're dealing with here.

NEVAREZ: No, and I'll say this. I mean I don't think necessarily me asking him to go outside was referencing that. It was just a question of getting this away from the chamber.


NEVAREZ: It doesn't belong -- you made a very good point, it doesn't belong in the chamber. And you're exactly right, it doesn't represent the best of us. And not to make any excuses, but I just -- I will not allow these folks to be demonized. I won't allow them to be victimized. I won't allow this guy and people like him to point to them and say, this is the problem that we have in our country because it's not -- they showed up at the state house and granted they were a little unruly and they may not know the rules of the chamber and -- but they were there acting on democracy. And if anything died yesterday, it wasn't democracy, it was decorum. And that's unfortunate.

But, you know, it's something that we need to work on and get past. But at the end of the day, we're just not going to allow this to happen anymore. We're not going to allow folks like him to dictate those types of things because it's wrong, it's evil and it's pretty low.

CUOMO: I get you. You're saying it's personal, not just political, and I appreciate you coming on the show to make your case.

NEVAREZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well.


CAMEROTA: Chris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that Europe can no longer count on the U.S. Now President Trump is responding.


[08:46:02] CUOMO: President Trump taking to Twitter this morning to slam Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled a deepening rift with the United States, insisting Europe can't completely rely on the USA.

CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen live in London with more.

What are you hearing?


Actually, a lot of developments on this story. You have the president coming out very early in the morning tweeting another shot at Germany. I want to read you the tweet real quick. He said, "we have a massive trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay far less than they should on NATO and military. Very bad for U.S. This will change." So that seems to be his take on the whole thing.

And I think what the Germans are saying, look, the stuff about NATO I think they think is fair. The Germans really have been paying less than they said they would. However, on the trade deficit, they say, look, the reason why so many Americans are driving German cars these days is because a lot of them are actually made in America. The Germans are saying, look, we created about 110,000 jobs in the U.S. over the past couple of years building car plants there and there's actually another German politician, very senior, who came out after the Trump tweet and said it shows that President Trump sees Germany as an opponent. And that's almost unheard of language coming from, you know, a strong ally, as Germany is to the United States.

And, you know, one of the things we have to point out, Chris, is that there is an election campaign going on in Germany right now but this kind of rhetoric really doesn't happen, even in election campaigns in Germany, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Fred, thank you very much for all of that.

So every country at the G-7 Summit reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, except the U.S. President Trump has previously threatened to pull out of that deal and he says that he will make a decision about it this week.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now from our Money Center.

So, how is big business reacting?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, hundreds of U.S. companies say business will suffer if the U.S. pulls out of that deal, Alisyn. One hundred and ninety-five countries signed the landmark plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And companies like Microsoft, Apple, Nike, L'Oreal, a whole bunch of other companies, they want to keep the deal. They say the U.S. will lose its competitive edge if it withdraws. That's because companies can't cash in on clean technology.

Even oil giants like Chevron and Exxon Mobil back the Paris Climate Accord. But their support isn't really that surprising because the deal favors the cleaner natural gas energy companies produce over coal. The natural gas boom is the primary reason for coal's decline many say, even though the president promised to revive coal jobs during his campaign, calling this climate treaty is bad deal.

In a CNN op-ed, Senator Ted Cruz encouraged the president to fulfill his promise to rip up this treaty, calling it a, quote, wet blanket on the economy, something that environmental groups disagree with vehemently. They have estimates that say unchecked climate change could cost the U.S. $2 trillion per year, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, big implications. Thank you for being on it, Christine.

So, golf legend Tiger Woods speaking out about his DUI suspicious arrest. We're going to look at what he says it was about. The key is he says no alcohol involved. What was it? What does it mean to you, next.


[08:51:51] CAMEROTA: Golf legend Tiger Woods speaking out after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Woods says alcohol was not involved. Rather, he blames a, quote, "unexpected reaction to prescription drugs." And this morning in a rare coincidence, both "The New York Post" and "The New York Daily News" published the exact same headlines, "DUI of the Tiger."

Let's discuss with CNN sports analyst and "USA Today" columnist Christine Brennan.

So, Christine, I guess he had back surgery recently. He's on pain medication. And does it stand to reason that he didn't know how much he was taking or didn't know that he wasn't supposed to drive on this?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Alisyn, that's what he's saying. He's saying alcohol was not involved and that it was a mix of the prescribed medication. But he has had four back surgeries, not just one. The last one was just a month or so ago. But he's had four over the last couple of years. And he's been dealing with this kind of pain for a long time. So a lot of questions yet to be answered.

But he, interestingly, that he said alcohol was not involved. He put that out there in that statement. He also apologized. It was a full apology and it was a good statement. But by putting that out there, that no alcohol was involved, well, then, of course when we get the police report and other things start to happen, we'll be able to find out exactly, you know, what the facts are and we'll see how that jives with what he said.

CUOMO: Do we know what happened that led to the stop and do we know if there will be a toxicology test or whether he just did a field sobriety test? Do we know any of that?

BRENNAN: Yes. No, we don't know yet. And it's actually taking a little time, I think, Chris, to find out what did happen that night. We know that he was stopped around 3:00. He spent about four hours in jail before he was released on his own recognizance. I mean the thought of Tiger Woods, as you know that mug shot, that picture is so jarring when you think of Tiger all put together in red and black on a Sunday, that's the image most of us have. And now you see, of course, this sobering imagine, this stunning image of Tiger and in trouble clearly. And, so, we'll see.

But, no, I think there's a lot more questions than answers. But I know we'll get to the bottom of it because Tiger is one of the most public figures in the country, not just in sports, and I think the -- obviously, we all care very much. People care, are interested in him and what's going to happen in his future.

CAMEROTA: You're right, he did put out a fulsome statement and apology. So let me just read it so that everybody can hear it. "I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly. I would like to apologize with all any heart to my family, friends and the fans."

But, you know, Christine, I don't know, in this -- in this era of now we're so much more sophisticated and we know so much more about pain medications, I mean particularly since Prince's death, you know, public figures, even wealthy ones, even successful ones can become addicted to painkillers.

BRENNAN: And my question would be, if you've been taking medication for a while, clearly four back surgeries over the last few years, in the exact same spot on his back, by the way, if you've been doing this for a while, Alisyn, you must know about the painkillers you're taking. And why would you then drive? Tiger is one of the richest people on earth in terms of athletes in sports.

[08:55:11] CUOMO: Right.

BRENNAN: You could -- you can call a cab. You can call a friend.

CUOMO: Yes, but we don't deal with it that way, Christine. I mean I think that one -- why I'm most interested in this, other than, you know, that passive interest in hoping that Tiger Woods is OK because he's such a giant in our sports culture, is, I have a lot of friends on the job. They see this all the time. We are the most medicated society in the world. Pain, palliative care is all over the place. People are taking pills. They don't know whether or not they should drive. And very often it has as intoxicating an effect as anything else you might drink over a holiday weekend. So it's a pretty big issue. It will be interesting to see if Woods gets in front of it.

BRENNAN: Well, I think that's true. And Tiger has tended to be very private over the 20-some years we've seen him in the public eye. He has not wanted to give out much information. I'm sure this is just a terrible turn of events for him personally. This is the last thing that he wants. And so -- but we'll see. And there's a lot more, I think, that we'll yet see coming out about this, I'm sure.

CAMEROTA: OK. Christine Brennan, thanks so much for all the information. We'll talk again.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: There's a lot of news. CNN has new reporting about the Russian investigation. So, "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman is going to pick up right after the break. Have a great morning.


[09:00:07] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.