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Justice Department Announces Charges in First Leak Under Trump; Donald Trump Tweets Again on Travel Ban. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired June 6, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This young lady is in trouble. They're sending a clear message to leakers here.
[05:57:18] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A leaker of a classified NSA memo now facing charges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because you see something that's classified, you can't just hand that out like it's candy.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey's testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't gotten any indication that he is constrained in any way, shape, or form as a public citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's made that clear. It is a travel ban.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, ADVISOR TO TRUMP: A hundred characters is not policy. It's social media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president could be more disciplined about staying on his agenda.
SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: I certainly don't have the time to respond to tweets from Donald Trump. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, June 6, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with several major developments on the starting line.
The Justice Department charging an NSA contractor with leaking classified report on Russia's election interference to an online news outlet. This is the first arrest in President Trump's crackdown on leakers.
The White House says President Trump also will not invoke executive privilege to block fired FBI director James Comey from testifying before the Senate on Thursday in what is the most anticipated congressional testimony in decades.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has blown away all the spin around his executive order on travel. In a series of statements on Twitter, the president said it is a ban and that he wants the original version of the ban that targets Muslims as courts and common sense indicate.
And the White House is defending other tweets by the president, picking a fight with London's mayor after the attacks. Now London's mayor says Britain should refuse to roll out the red carpet to Mr. Trump. There is no indication that a state visit would be denied.
We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett, live in Washington -- Laura.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the Justice Department is making good on President Trump's pledge to crack down on leakers, announcing its first criminal case against a 25-year-old named Reality Winner, a federal contractor who prosecutors say admitted to mailing classified intelligence information to a news outlet.
These charges came about an hour after The Intercept published a story about a classified report from the National Security Agency that it received from an anonymous source. And sources confirmed to CNN that the document Winner allegedly leaked was the same one detailed in The Intercept's article. Now, this document an issue describes an attempted cyber-hack by Russian military intelligence on a U.S. voting supply software -- software supplier last year.
And while there's no evidence that any votes were affected by the hack, the document does provide new details into potential vulnerabilities in voting systems.
Prosecutors say Winner was caught because the news outlet sent a copy of the document over to the government for authentication before the story was published. They could see that the pages appeared to have some sort of crease suggesting that they were printed out.
So investigators did an audit of who printed the document and traced it all back to Winner. She's now facing serious charges carrying up to 10 years in prison. And her lawyer says she's simply been caught in the middle of something bigger than her -- Alisyn, Chris.
CAMEROTA: Laura, thank you very much for that.
So let's bring in our all-star panel to talk about all of this, this breaking news. We have CNN political analysts Maggie Haberman and David Gregory; reporter and editor-at-large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza; and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, let me start with you because of the legal implications of
all this. This first arrest, this 25-year-old young woman with the most 21st Century name I've ever heard, Reality Winner, who has now been arrested and could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for handing over these classified documents from the NSA. What do you see here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if the facts are as the government alleged, this is a very simple case. A contractor, like a government employee, has an obligation to keep secret materials secret. She intentionally and knowingly shared it with "The Intercept." That's a crime. Unfortunately, you know, those of us who are journalists, we rely on leakers like this who take these sorts of risk, but they do take that risk.
CAMEROTA: Can't she be considered a whistleblower instead of a spy under the Espionage Act?
TOOBIN: There is not a distinction there. I mean, if you have a secret -- top-secret document and you essentially share it, I mean, there is just -- there's no excuse. There's no explanation. You're caught.
CUOMO: Whistleblower statute is very specific. And it anticipates certain types of revealing of things that have been misconstrued by government or otherwise. This doesn't fit into the category. She also admitted it, didn't she, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Well, apparently, that's what the complaint alleged. And also, you know, whistleblowers are not allowed to take classified information and give it to the press. If it's classified, you have to go through channels...
CAMEROTA: I mean, I guess...
TOOBIN: ... if you don't do through your agency.
CAMEROTA: Yes. My point is she didn't share it with the Russians. She shared it with a media outlet to get information.
CUOMO: It's classified information.
TOOBIN: This is the -- this is the moral ambiguity.
CUOMO: There's not going to be much debate if she initiated it.
CAMEROTA: There's moral ambiguity as our guest just said.
CUOMO: This is about the law.
TOOBIN: But, I mean, you know, the problem is, you know, we have been treated, and I mean that, to wonderful investigative reporting from "The New York Times," from "The Washington Post," from our colleagues at CNN that involved, at times, disclosures of classified information. So we rely on this.
But we -- our sources take tremendous risks. And this is a risk they take. And she, it appears, got caught in a very bad place.
CUOMO: So David Gregory, the substance of what she leaked, that there may have been attempts by Russian-connected hackers to try to get into software companies that had partial control of electoral machines, what are the implications politically?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of points. One that I've thought for a long time. This is more evidence of the fact that President Trump has put his own sense of insecurity and legitimacy as president ahead of actually responding to an attack on our democracy. Those are words from Senator John McCain and other Republicans who considered what the Russians did, attempting to interfere in our election as an attack.
Why haven't they taken steps to retaliate, to deal with the implications of that, to safeguard our Democratic system? That's a separate system from whether it actually received the result. There's no indication that the Russians actually tilted the election in favor of Donald Trump, though it seems they tried. But his ego and those of his advisers seem to get in the way of actually dealing with this substance and doing something about it.
CAMEROTA: Although, Maggie, this goes further than anything that we had heard. The revelation that she revealed to the intercept. This is not just hacking the DNC. This is not just releasing John Podesta's e-mails. This is trying to interfere with election officials, 122 of them across the country, and voting -- voting software supplier. This is a different, a new wrinkle.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a new wrinkle, except we don't know how far it does. Right? It's the emphasis is on try to do that. We don't actually have any reason to believe yet that there was some substantial result from what was efforted.
But look, it will add another layer, as you say, to those who are saying the Russian efforts to go at the U.S. election were deeper than believed. It was certainly playing at criticism from Democrats that people have tried and the media has been accused of trying to move past what happened with Russia too fast.
I think it all goes back to David's point, though. That the president has -- there are two things the president can say in response to all of this, including the e-mail hacks, including everything, which is, "You know, this doesn't delegitimize, you know, my election, but it is absolutely outrageous, and it is wrong for somebody to interfere." And the president has just time and again chosen not to do that, and that, I think, is where there is a huge problem.
CUOMO: And this plays into that even more directly, right, Cillizza, because it is clear that the president hears anything that has to do with Russia and interference as bad for him. This even will cut a little closer to the quick. And probably either he'll ignore it or, if he comes out about it, it's not going to be pretty.
CILLIZZA: Well, look, let's remember that this is a president who for the first, how long have we been, about four months, he spent three of those months reminding anyone who had asked or sometimes people who wouldn't ask, that he won the Electoral College, and no one said he could, and he picked that lock. It's to Maggie's points. He believes he cannot deal with the fact he lost the popular vote.
Remember, "Three to 5 million people cast illegal votes. If they hadn't, I would have won." It's all...
CUOMO: The only commission that the vice president would head up...
CUOMO: ... to give us answers right away.
CILLIZZA: Just waiting on -- waiting on that commission's report.
What you see here, the Russia thing -- when Donald Trump hears Russia, what he doesn't think, to David's point, is what he should, which is this wasn't assault across by a foreign government across a lot of spectrums to try to meddle with, delegitimatize an American election.
That's an historic thing that needs action. What he hears is "Anyone who says Russia, that's -- they're trying to say I didn't win fair," right? So it becomes -- it's about him. It's not about the country. As a result, he's never gotten beyond it.
If Donald Trump believes in his heart of hearts that he has nothing to hide, that this whole Russian thing is just a smoke screen, he should be throwing laurels at Bob Mueller's feet, saying, "Let me know what I can do to help you."
CAMEROTA: Well, we will all hear on Thursday now fired FBI director James Comey's testimony because, Jeff, the White House will not invoke executive privilege. So what do we anticipate?
TOOBIN: Well, we're doing to hear about these conversations that took place between President Trump and Director Comey and what efforts, if any, Trump took to secure Comey's loyalty, personal loyalty to him. And most importantly, any efforts Trump might have made to shut down the investigation that we're just talking about here about Russian interference in the election.
And the -- obviously, the big looming question over this testimony will be, will there be evidence that people can fairly interpret as an obstruction of justice by the president? That, to me, is the core question that will be addressed by Comey's testimony.
CUOMO: David Gregory, you know, there was never any meaningful indication that the White House was going to try and block the testimony. It was really more just media speculation. But when he gets up there, is there a chance that the Democrats are going to be greatly disappointed by what Comey says, either because it will be somewhat in deference to Mueller, and wanting to preserve certain things out of friendship or some sense of duty or because there's not just that much there that goes to a crime?
GREGORY: They might be disappointed. And maybe it's more in the realm of politics. Maybe it's in the realm of potential interference that falls short of a crime. So if that's the only expectation, people may be disappointed. I don't know.
I mean, I think the other question that -- that Jeffrey is alluding to is, if James Comey thought that the president was interfering, maybe even obstructing, who did he tell about it?
GREGORY: Who did he report to? Or did he feel he had this under control?
But I think this whole debate about executive privilege and all that, I mean, can you imagine invoking that?
GREGORY: Whether there was legal justification for it. I mean, it would only show that the president had something to hide, which is what he apparently did when he fired the guy investigating him and tried to secure his loyalty. So there's enough here that bears, you know, more explanation that I think is going to be highly embarrassing.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, there you have it. I mean, a lot of people can't imagine many things, or couldn't have imagined many things that have happened, such as firing the FBI director in the middle of an investigation. What are you looking for on Thursday?
HABERMAN: A couple of things. Look, I mean, I think that it's going to be interesting to see what James Comey says about things that we have reported on, things that others have reported on about his conversations with the president. I'm confident he will be asked about that. I think that, as we said previously, there's going to be some limits on what he can talk about in terms of Russia specifically.
But think that what he says about the president will be interesting.
[06:10:05] I also think, look, I mean, one unanswered area here for me, one gray area, this whole time has been we saw in the letter, the termination letter, a dismissal letter, whatever you want to call it that the president sent to James Comey, he said -- made that throwaway line of, you know, "And you told me three times I wasn't under investigation."
Now, obviously, whether that belonged in that letter, I think, is a different question. But I am curious to see what Comey says he told the president when asked on this issue.
CUOMO: That will be an unvarnished moment. Well, will Comey answer it, and will he say the president of the United States is full of it when it comes to what he told him about being under investigation?
HABERMAN: Maybe he's not. We'll find out.
CUOMO: We will know one way or the other on Thursday, assuming that Comey is open to the questions that come his way. That's going to be must-see TV. In fact, NEW DAY is going to start an hour early, 5 a.m. Eastern on Thursday in anticipation. CNN's special coverage will begin at 9. Comey's testimony supposed to start at 10 a.m. Eastern.
CAMEROTA: We will bring it all to you.
Now, when it comes to President Trump's travel ban, the president and his own staff cannot seem to get on the same page about what it is. Are the president's tweets undermining his legal defense? We discuss that with the panel next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump tweeting again about his travel ban and again contradicting his own aides. The White House says the president is not picking a fight with London's mayor, despite renewing his attack in yet another tweet.
[06:15:14] CNN's Joe Johns has been following all of this. He's live at the White House for us with more.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we have seen this script before. The president not only undercutting his own aides but potentially undermining the administration's message and even his agenda.
The latest example of that, the president putting a big emphasis on his travel ban at the time the White House is trying to promote his plans to improve the nation's transportation infrastructure.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump defiant against, insisting that his plan to stop travel from six Muslim-majority countries should be called a travel ban, a direct contradiction of this statement from his deputy press secretary just hours before.
SANDERS: I don't think the president cares what you call it, whether you call it a ban, whether you call it a restriction. He cares that we call it national security.
JOHNS: And previous criticism of reporters for calling it a travel ban.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When we use words like travel ban, that misrepresents what it is.
JOHNS: The husband of top aide Kellyanne Conway, a leading Republican lawyer, warning that the president's latest tweet storm may have repercussions if and when the case goes before the Supreme Court.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his preferred method of communication with
the American people.
CONWAY: That's not true.
JOHNS: The administration attempting to downplay the importance of the president's tweets.
GORKA: It's social media, Chris.
CUOMO: It's not social media. It's his words, his thoughts.
GORKA: It's not policy. It's not an executive order. It's social media. Please understand the difference.
JOHNS: After touting Twitter as an essential part of the president's strategy for months.
CONWAY: Donald Trump's social media platform is a very powerful way for him to communicate and connect directly with people.
JOHNS: President Trump also escalating his fight with London's mayor in the wake of Saturday's terror attack, accusing Mayor Sadiq Khan of offering a pathetic excuse when he advised London residents not to be alarmed by increased security in the city.
Khan offering this scathing response when asked about Mr. Trump's planned visit to the U.K.
KHAN: I don't think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for.
JOHNS: So still looking for a reset here at the White House this morning, the president will try to get the train back on the tracks by meeting with congressional leaders today with the focus once again on the top agenda items -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Let's bring back the panel. We've got Maggie Haberman, Chris Cillizza, David Gregory and Jeffrey Toobin.
This, I think, is a pretty easy question. Let's deal with the easy question first. It is absurd to hear from anybody that the president's tweets don't matter. We have been told nothing else by the president of the United States himself and by everybody around him when convenient.
Case in point, they put out the big guns yesterday -- Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka -- to say you media, you focus on the tweets, and you shouldn't. You should focus on what matters.
The president chose the London terror attack as an opportunity to tweet about his travel ban and say what he really wanted. That was on him, not the media. We covered it. Listen to Gorka and Huckabee Sanders talk about this same issue in
completely different ways. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORKA: It's not policy. It's social media, Chris. It's social media.
CUOMO: It's not social media. It's his words, his thoughts.
GORKA: It's not policy. It's not an executive order. It's social media. Please understand the difference.
SANDERS: I think social media for the president is extremely important. It gives him the ability to speak directly to the people without the bias of the media filtering those types of communications. He at this point has over 100-plus million contacts through social media and all those platforms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Cillizza, thank God for the media. Otherwise, you wouldn't know what the heck to believe coming out of these people. It's like they were -- they were foes with each other there, like they don't work for the same place.
CILLIZZA: Look, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Right? Either Twitter is something that isn't making policy, isn't important, shouldn't be obsessed over, in Kellyanne Conway's words, or it's his direct way to reach the public, an incredibly powerful social media platform. You don't get to have both of those things be true at the same time.
By the way, you know, hours after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as you point out, hours after she said, "He doesn't care what you call it," he tweeted that he cares what you call it.
So look, to me...
CAMEROTA: Ignore that.
CILLIZZA: ... Maggie and I were talking about this off-air. I actually think -- I think Maggie agrees with me -- his tweets are more important in many ways than what Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, official statements from the White House, because guess what? It's him doing this. Right? It's him and a phone. It's a most direct line into his brain, what he's thinking at any one time. It's not manufactured. It's not sort of put through the spin cycle. It's just him and his phone.
[06:20:12] CAMEROTA: And so Maggie, we know that you agree with that, because you, too, are trying to figure out if these constitute official statements. In this social media age, how can they not be official presidential statements? They come, as Chris just said, from his brain and his fingertips. HABERMAN: Right, I'm not trying to figure it out. I'm of the opinion
that these are presidential statements. In fact, if the president wants to offer other words, he could, you know, do a press conference and answer reporters' questions. He could submit more regularly to the interviews that he was very proud of doing earlier on in the administration. He could answer a single question from a journalist on his lengthy foreign trip. He hasn't done any of that.
But what he has done is tweet repeatedly. It's funny listening to the administration, or some of the administration, take on the argument that we shouldn't focus so heavily on the tweets. That's actually the argument the Democrats used to use during the campaign and early on in this administration. Which is don't -- somehow that was normalizing. Don't focus on the tweets. What matters is "X," "Y," "Z." No, actually, what matters is "X," "Y," "Z."
No, this is what matters, because this is what he thinks. And he has said repeatedly. He's described it as his own media venture that so why wouldn't we focus on it?
GREGORY: There's an obsession the president has with being outrageous and being at the center of the news story. That's not going to change.
What's unimportant is what all these White House aides say: It will be long forgotten by tomorrow because it's ridiculous. What matters is that he's president of the United States.
And you know, on June 6, we celebrate leadership in this country. We celebrate what it means to be an important leader on D-Day when America liberated Europe 73 years ago.
Can you imagine what General Eisenhower, who said the eyes of the world are upon our brave soldiers invading Europe, liberating Europe today, would have thought by this nonsense, by a president who apparently doesn't take the presidency seriously enough to stay off of social media and speak in such erratic, inaccurate and scattershot ways about our staunchest allies, about democratic process, about the power of our democracy and our judiciary. He can't control himself. It's bad for the presidency. It doesn't matter what Sebastian or other White House officials say. They're just doing a job. They're just -- it's just spin. It's a game. It's not real concern for the presidency.
CUOMO: Right. And now this latest string of tweets about the travel ban is more than just Trump talk. You know, sometimes he tweets with silly things, but that's just like with my politician, you measure it based on the context.
Now, Jeffrey, he has a strong legal case. Constitutionally, and in terms of governmental practice, the executive gets a lot of broad discretion when it comes to immigration. So he should have a measure of confidence going into the Supreme Court. But maybe George Conway, Kellyanne Conway's husband, is right, that
these tweets go so directly to the intentionality -- not only did he say it's a ban, but he said he wants the original ban, and that to common sense and to courts have very clear intention of blocking Muslims, giving carveouts for other religions. Could he have compromised the case?
TOOBIN: You know, I certainly agree with all my colleagues that these are Donald Trump's words, and we should take them very seriously as -- as any presidential statement we take seriously. However, I don't think that this statement was so devastating to the case in the Supreme Court.
The real issue in the Supreme Court is whether the administration engaged in religious discrimination against Muslims. If he had said, "This is a Muslim ban," that would have been a big problem. But a travel ban is a much more generic term. Even though the White House objected to that term, it's not necessarily unconstitutional. The fact he says it's a travel ban I don't think hurts his case that much.
CAMEROTA: Hey, Maggie, let's talk about another story that you have broken for "The New York Times," and that is that no one is immune from the fickle finger of President Trump, including Jeff Sessions, who was one of his earliest, most visible supporters and acolytes. And now somehow the attorney general has fallen out of favor of the president.
HABERMAN: It's been a long falling out of favor. I mean, essentially this all dates back, his frustration with Jeff Sessions. Yes, the travel ban is its own thing, whatever we're calling it right now. The travel ban is its own thing. Like he's been frustrated with Jeff Sessions since Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything related to a Russia investigation. That enraged the president. You know, we all reported that at the time, despite the fact that a bunch of White House aides insisted that the president hadn't gotten upset, the next day he did get upset the new day and railed at people.
[06:25:06] It was also, two days later that the president did his wiretap tweet, the one that has caused him all manner of problems.
If you look at his last two months of headaches, the president's, a lot dates back to his frustration with Jeff Sessions over that. In his mind he believes without that, without that, a lot of this cascade of events, according to a lot of people who talked to him, would not have happened.
And so when you see him doing this sort of swipe at the Justice Department, yes, part of it is related to this one issue on the travel ban. But part of it, you know, just sort of his overarching frustration he has with his attorney general.
CAMEROTA: OK. Very interesting. Thank you very much panelist for sharing thoughts. Coming up on NEW DAY, we will discuss all of this with several members of congress. We have Democrats Jim Himes and Nancy Pelosi with us. We also have Republican Chris Collins and independent Senator Angus King. CUOMO: We also have new details about the three terrorists who pulled
off the London attack. One of them was on the radar of British intelligence officials, therefore feeding the question of could it have been prevented. How did they know about him, what did they know about him and what decision did they make with regard to an earlier investigation? All that ahead.