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White House Offers Bizarre Response to Trump's "Covfefe" Tweet; LeBron James Speaks Out After Racist Vandalism; Interview with Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired June 1, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:13] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Almost a year after the Pulse nightclub massacre that was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, police released deadly body cam footage. And we want to warn you, the footage captures unthinkable violence and includes loud gunfire.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
CAMEROTA: That is just a moment of what these police officers faced. "The Orlando Sentinel" showed what officers were up against in trying to rescue victims while searching for the gunman and, of course, the final shoot-out. Forty-nine people were killed as well as the shooter.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A rally organized by an alt-right group will go on as planned in Portland this weekend. The federal government ruling it won't revoke the permit for the event. The mayor there is Ted Wheeler. He called for the demonstration to be canceled following last week's double murder. Two men, you'll remember, were stabbed to death on a train after coming to the defense of two teenagers who were allegedly attacked with racial slurs.
A second rally is slated for June 10th. That one has been canceled.
CAMEROTA: A sickening discovery at the National Museum of African- American History and Culture in Washington. A noose found inside an exhibit about segregation. The museum director calls the incident, quote, a painful reminder the challenges facing African-Americans every day.
This is the second time in less than a week a noose was discovered on Smithsonian property.
Surely, Chris, there are cameras inside this museum somewhere. Surely there are security cameras, and hopefully the perpetrator will be caught quickly.
CUOMO: There is no word, though, that they know who did it, so maybe --
CAMEROTA: No. I just assume that a new building has security cameras.
CUOMO: Right, but it is a reminder that when you this I that you have moved on from something, there's no reason to talk about it anymore, it's still very real, rears its ugly head, and we got to stamp it down every time.
All right. So, just when you thought or at least I was praying that covfefe, kerfuffle was dying down.
CAMEROTA: You're adding kerfuffle to covfefe?
CUOMO: Well, you know, it needed to be spruce up.
Along comes Sean Spicer to stir things up. You can say that people give Spicer a hard time. Fine. Fair point. Maybe sometimes.
Not this time. We want you to listen to what he said when asked about this, and it becomes a tutorial in how B.S. spin creates problems in politics, next on NEW DAY.
[06:36:31] CUOMO: The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, one once again, added a bizarre explanation for President Trump's late night covfefe Twitter typo. You are about to hear audio. You are not going to see Spicer because in this bizarro world that we are living in right now they've decided in the White House not to do briefings on camera that often, so there's only audio.
CAMEROTA: That will make it better.
CUOMO: That's the truth, by the way. This is what they want to do.
So, listen to what happened.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think people should be concerned that the president then posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last night and that it then stayed up for hours?
SPICER: Uh, no.
REPORTER: Why did it stay up so long? Is no one watching this?
SPICER: No, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant. Blake?
REPORTER: What is covfefe mean? What does it mean?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. Let's bring back our panel. John Avlon --
CAMEROTA: That voice you just heard, what does it mean, what does it mean, that's April Ryan.
CUOMO: But that is the voice of all of us. David Drucker and bring in CNN political analyst and collective conscience of America, April Ryan.
So, let's put to the side because we don't have enough time. It's only a three-hour show. The absurdity of doing only audio and not on camera briefings, and we all thought it was a typo. There's every indication it was a typo. The president played with it as if it were a typo, and then Sean Spicer, I guess, intimates that it wasn't a typo, and we hear you kind of call out in your puzzled -- what did you make of that?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was crazy. I hate to use that word, but it really was. I mean, I'm not going to assume as a reporter what the word was. I was assuming that it meant coverage, but if he says that there's a small group of people who understood what it was, I'm, like, what is it? What is covfefe? Covfefe, I can't even -- whatever.
CUOMO: It doesn't exist. You can say it any way you want. That's the beauty of it.
RYAN: It was real covfefe.
So, here's the deal. It was a ten-minute or 11-minute off camera briefing that was backed right into a presidential event. It was timed perfectly. Sean came out. He looked like he was raw meat in front of hungry hyenas. He looked scared yesterday.
And when we got that that, you heard everyone in unison because, again, the spin is out of control now. You wonder if it's spin or just, you know, we're just going to throw it at them and we don't care. It doesn't make any sense.
And if you say only a small group of people know what that word means, tell us what that word means. And on top of that, it makes you wonder with the checks and balances with the president and these archived tweets. He can delete it but it's still in the Twittersphere.
This president -- he is a president of the United States. He did this. I mean, we all have thumbs. We all have auto correct problems, but this was taken to another level.
RYAN: And you just wonder about so many different things when you see something like this from the president --
RYAN: -- of the United States of America.
CAMEROTA: No kidding, April.
John Avlon, I don't want to gloss over the fact that we've gotten away from the on camera press briefing and now we're going to do audio-only gaggles. This is a major shift.
[06:40:02] JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a major shift, and let's be honest about the reasons for it. It's an attempt to contain the shame. On the part of people who have to professionally spin it, too often defend the indefensible, and they want to contain the ability for it to resonate for reasons of both personal embarrassment and catching heat from a president who watches far too much TV. That's the context from this.
CAMEROTA: But this is not going to work. Audio can also be embarrassing.
AVLON: Audio, in fact, is also a matter of public record. If you try to defend the undefensible, you're going to find yourself in indefensible positions by definition.
This is -- I mean, Sean Spicer is intimating that cofveve has been an inside joke in the White House for some time. It obviously is not. It's just a mistake, folks. Own it.
But if you can't own that, that speaks to a larger insecurity in the White House that reflects an environment better suited to junior high school than the leader of the free world and his support staff.
CUOMO: All right. And so, then, the covfefe winds up getting a little momentum and not just among the media, but it becomes part of the dialogue between the president and his notorious nemesis, Hillary Clinton. The president calling her once again crooked Hillary. I don't know if we have the tweet to put up there or if somehow that's been sanitized.
And then she responds, OK? Hillary comes out and she starts talking about some things the president doesn't like. She's blaming everybody. Then Hillary responds this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think we can get into covfefe right now, because it's a longer thing, but --
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you did?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: She then puts out a tweet of her own when he calls her crooked Hillary, David Drucker and she says --
CAMEROTA: People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe.
CUOMO: What's your take on this in terms of how good it is for the president? DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm just trying to figure out
if this is going to be a Nick Cage movie or Tom Hanks movie.
Look, you know, to me, it's kind of a big joke, and I thought the president actually had fun with it in that he said, hey, you guys go figure out what this means. Then, you know, Sean with his sort of bizarre comment.
But I think in all seriousness, the reason we pay attention to this is because he is the president, and he has used Twitter as a prime communications platform, and so, we can't just throw it under the rug as a mistake like we would anybody else, and then, of course, fix it. We've all had autocorrect problems, and autocorrect, especially early in the morning right before a new day is like the bane of my existence.
CUOMO: Well, remember, the reason we care about it isn't because of the silly tweet. It's the problem with random thoughtless tweeting when you are president of the United States, because look at the Carter Page tweet right after it. He now completely changed the White House narrative on Page.
Everybody comes out. Everybody who takes a phone call or places a phone call from that White House, all of us can attest, says we don't know Carter Page. He had nothing to do with us. We don't really even know who he is. He was kind of a random.
And then the president changes that narrative completely owning Carter Page, owning this story, and making him as credible as Comey and Brennan.
DRUCKER: Correct. I think that is why we have tried to figure out what this meant or at least to make sure, did this mean anything? We need to find out.
But again, this all gets back to the president. He has created this sort of environment where he does so much speaking on Twitter, sometimes things that don't make sense but are actually related to policy or this ongoing investigation, that we can't just ignore it and figure that it's something funny without asking the question.
CAMEROTA: Yes, ten seconds, John.
AVLON: Look, it's just -- it's a snap shot into the mind of a leader of the free world. It's news, and it has the affect of looking like Nixon tapes in real time, unfortunately.
CAMEROTA: There you go. Panel, thank you very much.
All right. So, we have this dash cam video of Tiger Woods' DUI arrest now, and it shows just how out of it he appears to be. We have the details for you next, in this "Bleacher Report".
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:47:29] CUOMO: You know, this is the best part of the year for LeBron James, the giant from the Cavs. You know, they made it to the finals, and, yet, he is forced to deal with an ugly incident of no doing of his own. Racism finding his way into his life. Someone spray painting a racial slur on the gate at his L.A. home.
Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report".
And some poignant words from LeBron for everybody about what this means.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, Chris.
This is on the eve of one of the greatest sporting spectacles in the world, the NBA Finals. LeBron James admittedly not able to completely focus on that as he and his family were targeted in this act of racism. Police say the racial slur was already painted over when the officers arrived. The LAPD studying security camera footage to try to identify the vandal.
LeBron's words, as Chris mentioned, powerful as he spoke out about this incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know, being black in America is -- it's tough. We got a long way to go, you know, for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we -- until we feel equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: And Florida police releasing dashcam video of Tiger Woods arrest on suspicion of DUI. Officers say they found him asleep at the wheel on the side of the road early Monday morning. Tiger slurring his speech, stumbling in the video despite a breathalyzer test showing no alcohol in his system. Woods says he had a bad reaction to prescription medications.
Alisyn, Tiger Woods is due in court on July 5th.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that dashcam video is just really striking to watch.
Coy, thank you very much.
WIRE: You're welcome.
CAMEROTA: James Comey plans to testify in an open hearing, so what do lawmakers want to get out of him? We'll talk to Republican Mike Lee about it, next.
[06:53:30] CAMEROTA: Fired FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as soon as next week. The House Intel Committee issues subpoenas related to the Russia investigation and how sensitive information about President Trump's associates was handled.
So, joining us now is Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah. He serves on the Judiciary Committee and is the author of a new book called "Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders who Fought Big Government."
And we'll get to the book momentarily. You have interesting premises in there.
Great to see you.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Good to see you.
CAMEROTA: If James Comey testifies that, in fact, President Trump pressured him or pressed him to back off the Mike Flynn investigation, then what?
LEE: I'm not sure, but that would surprise me. I'm on the Judiciary Committee and just a few weeks ago we had still Director Comey testify. Someone asked him about political pressure, and he said this is something I haven't seen.
CAMEROTA: But you have --
LEE: Something in my experience it has not occurred.
CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to interrupt but you have heard he wrote memos to the contrary.
LEE: Yes, haven't seen the memos personally, but what I'm saying is those memos, if they exist, if he said those things, would seem to contradict his testimony. So, that will be my first question is, how do you reconcile that memo if, in fact, it does say that, with the testimony you provided with the committee in early May.
CAMEROTA: Because CNN has sources that say that that is what he's going to testify, too, that he is going to say that he was pressured by the president. So, if he says, then you believe him under testimony, does that mean obstruction of justice?
LEE: I don't know. I would have a whole lot of questions after that. I want to know how he could reconcile that statement with his earlier statement.
[06:55:02] I also want to know why he didn't immediately resign. You know, a lawyer in this circumstance representing a client would make a withdrawal, would announce his decision to withdraw representation.
CAMEROTA: I think that he has said --
LEE: I think Jim Comey in that circumstance would be expected to resign if he had been told to do something like that. CAMEROTA: Well, I think that he has said and we know this through
other sources and his friend that he felt he could handle it, that he wasn't going to back off of the Michael Flynn investigation. He was going to disregard that request and that at the felt that he could navigate through this.
LEE: Yes, that's -- look, there are an infinite number of possibilities out there. I'm not going to prejudge the facts until I have them. But I will have a whole lot of follow-up questions for him if these things turn out to be the case.
CAMEROTA: Do you feel as a Republican that all of this Russia investigation is impeding your agenda?
LEE: Not really. Look, there are a lot of things impeding us. I don't necessarily think that is stopping us. I think there's some inertia we need to break, but we are proceeding with the work of the Senate.
There are ongoing discussions on a whole lot of legislative matters. Things that are not being halted by this. Sure, there is public attention, attention by the media that's going in different directions, but that shouldn't stop us.
CAMEROTA: But it's not a distraction for health care and tax reform?
LEE: A distraction, but not a disruption to the point that it could stop anything.
CAMEROTA: So your thought -- in other words, there's nothing you would change in terms of the president's navigating this better or focusing his attention?
LEE: Well, would I rather not be dealing with this? Yes. I'm sure the White House would too. I'm sure most members of Congress would.
But these are the facts and what we have to deal with, and what I'm saying is there's no reason why we can't do our job while these other things are going on.
CAMEROTA: Do you want the president to stay in the Paris climate accord or not?
LEE: No. This is a bad deal for the United States. This is not something I've supported. This is not something -- I don't think any Republican has supported. This is not a great deal for the United States.
CAMEROTA: Well, some have. I mean, Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney tweeted that he thinks that the president should stay in.
LEE: OK, there aren't many members of Congress in the Republican Party, if any, that I'm aware of.
CAMEROTA: Lindsey Graham. LEE: I'm not one of them. The reason is I think it's a bad deal for
the United States. I think it costs the United States a lot of money, and it also costs the United States a lot in terms of making a commitment to something that even the Democratic Congress with a newly minted Democratic President Barack Obama in 2009 couldn't achieve.
The steady march toward restriction of the emission of greenhouse gases was something they couldn't achieve legislatively in 2009. It's something that President Obama could have submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. He didn't because he knew the political will to do it didn't exist.
CAMEROTA: Do you feel comfortable if we pull out that the U.S. is following the lead of Syria and Nicaragua?
LEE: No. We're in a completely different league from those countries.
CAMEROTA: We would be with them. We would be standing with those two countries and not standing with the 195 others that feed that it's important to be in the Paris --
LEE: Look, the fact that there are 195 other countries who want to do something that may not be in the United States' interest, as I believe it's not, is not a good reason for us to go there.
CAMEROTA: I mean, keeping company with Syria and Nicaragua is also sometimes eyebrow-raising.
LEE: Sure. And so is keeping company with 195 countries who want to do something that would not be in the interest of the American people.
CAMEROTA: Let's hear about your book.
CAMEROTA: OK, written out of history, who has been written out of history wrongly in your opinion?
LEE: Eight great examples I provide in the book. One of my favorites is Canassatego. He's an Iroquois Indian chief who taught Ben Franklin about federalism, about what would become the constitutional structure, the idea that most of the powers of government should remain close to the people of the state and local level and a few should be delegated to our national government.
This was the structure followed by the nations of the Iroquois confederacy, and Canassatego he passed this on to Ben Franklin, became part of our Constitution. We don't celebrate him as we should.
CAMEROTA: Do you think Aaron Burr has gotten a bad rap?
LEE: I do. I think he's been treated unfairly. We remember him as the damn fool who shot Alexander Hamilton as the Broadway teaches us. He was a good man. He was a complicated man. But he did a lot of great things for the country. He pushed back against Thomas Jefferson who tried in this greedy fit of power accumulation to go after Aaron Burr, to have him prosecuted for treason, a capital offense at the time.
He pushed back on that and used language in the Constitution to win his freedom.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that narrative is on the wrong side of popular pop culture at the moment in terms of how, you know, Hamilton has taken off?
LEE: Yes. That's what makes this a good read. It's a counter narrative. It's one that makes a great graduation present or a good gift for anyone who is looking to supplement their child's education for homeschooling or otherwise, for their own education, with stories that have been written out of history because they're inconvenient.
CAMEROTA: That's great. Really interesting. It's called again, "Written Out of History", Senator Mike Lee, thanks so much for being here. Great to talk to you.
LEE: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.
For our U.S. viewers, will President Trump pull out of the Paris climate accord?
NEW DAY continues right now.
CUOMO: James Comey will testify before the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mr. Comey will be direct and straightforward.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a threat.
SPICER: All questions on these matters will be referred to outside counsel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven new subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee. Three were issued unilaterally.