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Families Escape Horrors of ISIS in Mosul; Justice Department Announces Charges in First Leak Under Trump; Trump Undercuts Own Aides with Travel Ban Tweets. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired June 6, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAMON: ISIS is still targeting the Iraqi security forces with suicide car bombs and, in some instances, even deliberately using drones to drop explosives on the civilian population.
[07:00:18] And we're really only just beginning to understand what it is that this battle is costing these children and their parents, these families that have already been through too much.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my God, Arwa. That -- that was so striking, all of your video and the interviews. We just wouldn't know this stuff without your reporting and you going there to the front lines. It's so -- it was hard, obviously, to watch. I didn't want to lose my composure, but you can't turn away. You can't turn away from seeing what they're enduring every day.
CUOMO: And the reason people like Arwa have more of a flat affect when they tell these stories is because she's seen it so many times. And the reality is real. It can be arresting for people here in the United States, as you know, Arwa, who aren't as familiar with the scenes. But as we've talked before, you know, the question that keeps hitting you when you've been in these places and these scenes, is what will these kids do with their pain.
What's going to happen as they grow up in this situation, with no prospect for anything better? If this is as good as it seems to be for them in life, it's a very dangerous proposition. And as you often report, it's not about winning the war. It's about winning the peace and giving these kids a better future. Otherwise, you wind up extending the same cycle that we're watching unfold right now.
Thank you for being brave enough to be there and telling us the stories that matter. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Arwa.
CUOMO: All right. To all of you, our international viewers, thank you for watching us. "CNN NEWSROOM" is next for you. For our U.S. viewers, we have some big developments and questions to ask. Let's get after it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The law is very clear here. She's in a world of trouble. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice Department is making good on President
Trump's pledge to crack down on leakers.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: She has broken laws and she has to suffer the consequences for that.
CAMEROTA: President Trump will not block fired FBI director James Comey from testifying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to find out what Comey was thinking he thought had risen to that level of obstruction.
SEN. MARK WARNER (R-VA), VICE CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It troubles me so much to see the type of tweets that the president has put out.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, AIDE TO DONALD TRUMP: To judge national security based upon social media statements is irresponsible.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think the president cares what you call it. Whether you call it a ban, whether you call it a restriction.
SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON: I don't think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
We begin with the first arrest in the Trump's administration's crackdown on leakers. The Justice Department charging a 25-year-old NSA contractor with leaking a classified report -- and it's going to be the key term legally -- on Russia's election interference to an online news outlet.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, President Trump taking to Twitter again about his travel ban. How will his words impact the case before the Supreme Court? We have a lot to cover this morning. Let's again with justice reporter Laura Jarrett, live in Washington. What's the latest, Laura?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, 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 to a news outlet.
Now, sources tell CNN that the document Winner is accused of illegally leaking is the same one at the center of an article published by "The Intercept" that details attempted cyber hacks by Russian military intelligence into voting systems in the U.S. just days before the presidential election last year. And while there's no evidence that any votes were affected by this
hack, the classified document does provide new details into the mechanics of how the Russians tried to target voting software -- a voting software supplier and trick election officials in the U.S.
Prosecutors say Winner was caught because the news outlet sent a copy of the document over to the government before the story was published for authentication. Investigators could see that the pages appeared to have a crease, suggesting that they were printed and folded. And so they 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 said that she's simply been caught up in the middle of something bigger, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Laura.
So we have that situation going on with the NSA, and then we have this other situation. The president continuing to take to Twitter and saying things that undermines White House strategy.
So the White House says that the president was not picking a fight with London's mayor, despite clear evidence on his Twitter feed that he was doing exactly that.
[07:05:03] CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. I guess if the White House wants to own this "tweets don't count" theory, then I guess they could say he wasn't starting a fight with the London mayor, because it was on Twitter.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Chris, among other things, this is just a real window on how the administration is handling its business. The president undercutting his aides on Twitter, undermining his message, and perhaps even his agenda. The latest example: the president drawing big attention to his travel ban at a time when the White House is trying to focus on infrastructure improvements.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump defiant again, 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 now attempting to downplay the importance of the president's tweets.
GORKA: It's not policy.
CUOMO: Of course it is.
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: The White House will try once again to get back on track today with meetings with congressional leaders and the president. The president just tweeting about this moments ago, saying there's going to be a big meeting with Republican leadership concerning tax cuts and health care. They're all pushing hard, and they've got to get it right.
Chris and Alisyn, back to you.
CUOMO: All right, Joe, appreciate it.
Let's bring in the panel. CN political analyst Maggie Haberman and David Gregory; CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; reporter and editor-at-large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza.
Counselor Toobin, let's start with you. The case against this contractor from the NSA, how does it shape up legally?
TOOBIN: It's very straightforward. She is a contractor, which like a government employee, has an obligation to keep classified information secret. If, as the government alleges, she mailed that document to "The Intercept," the online publication, that's a crime; and it's a very serious crime. I don't think it's legally complicated, and this is -- means this woman is in a lot of trouble.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, just explain to us what the difference is between what she did in terms of being a crime and whistleblowers. Because she is -- if she did this, and if this is the stuff that "The Intercept" published, this goes further than what we had known about Russian meddling in the election.
And this is valuable information to know, to know that they tried to interfere with voting -- a voting software supplier in days before the election. To know that they had sent this spear-phishing e-mail or document to these 122 election officials, local election officials in the final hours.
So there's value, obviously, as journalists in knowing this, and the American public in knowing this.
TOOBIN: There are two reasons why it wouldn't fit as whistleblowing. First, it's -- this news contained in this document is very interesting. But whistleblowing refers to disclosing U.S. government misconduct.
TOOBIN: And this does not disclose U.S. government misconduct.
The other reason why it wouldn't qualify as whistleblowing is that whistleblowers are not allowed to disclose classified information to outsiders under any circumstances. They have to go through channels if they want to whistle blow using classified information.
But the larger point of your question is more morally complicated, which is investigative reporters, including many that have been doing great work for "The New York Times," for "The Washington Post," for CNN, do rely on leaks of classified information.
[07:10:07] And we do gain a lot, as we have gained a lot from the work of these investigative reporters and from these leaks. But the -- you know, the complexity here is that the leakers take a tremendous chance. And if they get caught, as it appears this woman got caught, they can be in a great deal of trouble.
CUOMO: Right, but David, before we get to your point, I mean, you know, just to be clear, a lot of the investigative reporting we've seen in this wave have gone through allegations of misconduct. You can go at home. You can look for yourself. The Whistleblower Protection Act is from 1989. You can Google it. CAMEROTA: We do the work so they don't have to.
CUOMO: And you'll see. You but you know what? You know what? Let me tell you.
CAMEROTA: I mean -- or we can listen to Jeffrey Toobin.
CUOMO: Let me tell you, people don't believe that. They want to do their own research. Go do it. Google the 1989 act. Read see, and you'll what it's about, and you can make your own determination -- David Gregory.
GREGORY: Well, I think there's a lot of things that are interesting to know about what the government does and what it knows. And there's a reason why that information is classified. And that's what Jeffrey is alluding to. There's always going to be a tension between the government wanting to keep things secret and journalists seeking to know more, especially to expose wrongdoing, expose a lack of vigilance in this case on the part of the Trump administration.
But we should point some things out. You know, the Trump administration, the president is rightfully condemning classified leaks. Any president, President Obama went after leakers. And...
CUOMO: Went after journalists.
CUOMO: Eric Holder went after journalists in unprecedented fashion.
GREGORY: Right. So the point is that there's always going to be this tension and some negotiations in organizations like CNN or "The New York Times" or "Washington Post" are going to work very carefully to try to balance these national security risks, as the government will allege, with a public's right to know.
But we should also point out, the president has been condemning, with regard to leaks, not all of it is classified information. And lot of the leaking -- look at Maggie's great reporting this morning. It's a combination of her hard work and other people willing to speak anonymously. That's not sharing classified information. That's a window into what's going on within the government.
CAMEROTA: So Maggie, this, though, I mean, in terms of President Trump trying to crack down on leakers and saying that that is his stated mission, this is the first, you know, shot across the bow.
HABERMAN: Yes, look, I mean, you had heard for several days now, during the president's foreign trip and then after, that they had zeroed in on who some of the leakers are, quote, unquote, and they were going to take steps to dismiss them. As far as I know this hasn't happened. I think this is symbolic important to President Trump. Two separate interests here and journalists try to balance them, the public's right it know while not compromising national security. But he's also right that this is aimed at chilling people who are not
necessarily talking about classified information. This is aimed at chilling people from talking in general. The president has been very, very rattled by all sorts of information that has come out from his West Wing. And I have to say, we have seen an unprecedented -- I know we're using that word a lot lately, but an unprecedented level of information coming out, a willingness by people to talk about this stuff.
And the problem for the president is, on the one hand, he says fake news and on the other is digging in to try to find out who's putting out the information. It clearly isn't fake.
I do think, though, it is very fair to make the point, as Chris did before, that this is -- President Obama criminalized leaking and went after journalists in an unprecedented way. This president has worn all this on his sleeve in a way President Obama did not, but this is not new, per se.
CUOMO: All right. So let's get to the complicated relationship of what's going on in the White House, because we saw it made manifest yesterday with this tweet stuff, Chris Cillizza.
And it really raises the question, why is the president doing this? Why would he take to Twitter yesterday?
And again, I dismiss out of hand the idea that tweets don't count. Silly. This is what he chooses. These are statements from the president, period. But why would he blow up the spot of his own spin machine and say, "This is a travel ban. It's always been a travel ban. And I want the original one, by the way. I don't like this one" that he seems to forget he must have authorized and sanctioned in its execution as an executive order.
Why do you think he's doing this, Cillizza? He embarrassed his team.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. I mean, I always think the simplest solution is usually the right one. And with him it usually has to do with him and sort of his relationship with winning and losing. I think he doesn't like to concede anything ever, Chris.
I think his anger, annoyance with Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russia probe was the result. He viewed that as a concession, as a loss. I think the broader frustration over the travel ban, he doesn't like to lose. He thinks that rewriting the travel ban was evidence that they were conceding that the first one wasn't done properly.
[07:15:10] You know, in business -- one of the most interesting things I ever saw, a guy who had been a longtime business partner of Trump's was interviewed for a "PBS Frontline" special. This is in 2016. He said what Donald Trump always does is, no matter what the outcome, declare victory and move on. Right? And we saw that a lot during the campaign.
But he doesn't -- it eats away at him that he is seen -- whether it's the Justice Department and Sessions' recusal, whether it's the travel ban, these are things that he sees as concessions, unnecessary concessions. That if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile.
So in his mind, they should not have done that. So it doesn't matter what Sarah Sanders, or Kellyanne Conway, or Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, fill in the blank, doesn't matter what any of those people think. So in his heart of hearts it's about him. It's about how he is perceived. It's about his image. And he wants to be perceived as a winner who never backs down. And it eats away at him when he is not. And he does things that are clearly counterproductive to his presidency succeeding and to not undermining his staff.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. Go ahead, David.
GREGORY: Well, I was going to say, the point here, quickly, is his agenda. In the end, he'll be judged by what he achieves by results. And I think presidents really mark their time in office by responding to crisis or through legislative accomplishments. And he doesn't have the latter, though he's been trying, because he's getting in his own way, and that lack of discipline is doing to haunt him at some point.
CAMEROTA: OK. So Jeffrey, let's talk about what's going to haunt him at the Supreme Court. Explain how his tweets yesterday could somehow color the decision being made about the travel ban by the Supreme Court.
TOOBIN: Well, the administration has portrayed what he's done as simply the exercise of executive authority in the area of immigration. Presidents have a lot of power to regulate who comes into the country and who doesn't. And they view this executive order as simply an exercise of that power.
Why they lost in the first round, as well as the second round in the lower courts, is that the course found that this was an example of religious discrimination against Muslims.
And by asserting that the first ban, which was -- really clearly was religious discrimination, was the -- was what he wanted all along and was right all along, that suggests that there was really an attempt to keep Muslims out. It doesn't -- it's not a fatal blow to his case in the Supreme Court, but it is a needless complication to the lawyers, which are -- which are going to be representing him as this case goes up there.
CUOMO: Good thing it doesn't count, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: You -- your exchange with Gorka was -- I mean, it was so obvious. We have the exact words of the president coming right through one of these devices. Nothing matters more in knowing what the president really believes in those tweets.
CUOMO: Again, to the -- to go back to the first question of why is he doing this. And then they send out Kellyanne and Gorka, to obviously, they had the same message, right, that somebody put it to them to do this, to say, yes, the tweets don't count. You guys obsess on the tweets. And then he's going to blow up the spot as soon as he wants, you know,
just once again coming off the top of his head.
Anyway, panel, thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news to get to right now in the London terror investigation. Police identifying the third terrorist who carried out Saturday's attack. Police say 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba from East London, he was the third attacker. He is believed to be an Italian national of Moroccan descent. Authorities say he was a person of interest to Italian police after he was stopped last March in possession of a one-way ticket to Istanbul, suspected of wanting to travel to Syria.
CUOMO: There's more breaking news. Russian state media is reporting a Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. B-52 bomber. This happened this morning over Baltic Sea. The report, which cites the Russian defense ministry claims a U.S. bomber is traveling over international waters. So far no confirmation from U.S. officials.
CAMEROTA: OK. So what do Democrats want to hear from fired FBI director James Comey when he testifies on Thursday? We'll ask the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, when she joins us next.
[07:23:35] CUOMO: All right. President Donald Trump making it clear he wants a travel ban. And he wants the original one, the one that courts found targeting Muslims. His staff scrambled to say that the president's words don't count, because they were on Twitter and, thus, not official. Now, that is absurd and raises the question of why the president would do this. Why would he undermine his own White House message, and how does this odd confusion affect governing?
Let's ask Democratic Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
It's good to have you with us. There are a number of topics to discuss today.
But what do you make of what happened yesterday? The big guns, Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka going out there and saying no, no, no, those tweets from the president, which took time, and he was very clear about, they don't count. That's not policy. He didn't mean it.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I'd like to hear what he has to say about that. I think, frankly, that what he's talking about is complete disregard for the Constitution. And this is what the courts are about. This is about the balance of power. And here he is saying, even though the courts have rejected one version or another of what he has put forth, he's doubling down.
He does succeed in doing one thing: keeping all the attention on him. There's so many things we should be doing, job creation and all the rest -- let's have that debate and the rest -- but he just keeps bringing attention to him. CUOMO: Why do...
PELOSI: It's a tactic.
CUOMO: What do you think is going on? I mean, we've never seen this before. I mean, you know, the Obama administration had its problems, had its problems with the media, but the idea of the president going out of his way to undercut the spin of the White House is unusual.
PELOSI: Well, it is unusual but, as I've said, if you want a job at the White House, know your blood type, because you're going to get thrown overboard at some point, or under -- discredited. And you see that happening. But I think it will be interesting to see how he reacts to their reaction to him.
But he -- he doesn't care. As long as we're talking about him, good, bad, or indifferent, the attention is not -- for example, where's your jobs bill? It's six months into your term, where's your -- you've been elected what, eight months ago in November? Where is your jobs bill? That's what the American -- the election was about, about the future. And now all we're talking about is Donald Trump.
CUOMO: Well, you have some big issues coming up. The president actually tweeted this morning, to the extent that it counts, about his desire to meet with the big Republicans and get going on taxes and health care to get it right. What is your understanding of the progress?
PELOSI: From what I hear from the Republicans, that there hasn't been very much progress. But he should be meeting with all of us if he wants to make progress. Because there's some anti-governance elements in the House -- in the Congress that are just never going to be for anything, unless it's so bad, and that would be very harmful to the American people. So that's a fight we have to make.
CUOMO: So two points of pushback in terms of the lack of progress. The first one would be, well, if the Democrats weren't so obsessed with trying to impeach the president and pushing the Russian investigation beyond the proof, you might be getting more things done on the governing side.
PELOSI: Who says that?
CUOMO: I'm saying it.
PELOSI: Well, they have the majority of the House. They have the majority of the Senate, and they have the White House. Any day of the week...
CUOMO: But the Russia investigation is dominant -- for good and political reasons.
PELOSI: No, I don't think so. I think this beyond politics. Russia investigation is beyond politics. And with the latest revelations, you can see this is undermining our democracy, our electoral system.
CUOMO: The actual hacking.
PELOSI: The hacking. The hacking, the altering, maybe, and the dumping undermined our election. So we should have an outside, independent commission to study what that is. We have tried to say this is critical infrastructure. The Republicans have resisted that. But we must protect the elements mechanism of our elections.
CUOMO: Right. But the collusion argument, which a lot of Democrats state as a fact, like, oh, the collusion case. There is no collusion case. We haven't seen any proof. And, again, I know the investigation is not over. We don't know what evidence they have or don't have. But is there some criticism for Democrats in seeming to want to force this to impeachment?
PELOSI: I think the Democrats you see, Adam Schiff, you see Senator Warner and others, I think they're very measured. What I've said to members, the only thing that matters are the facts. The facts and the law. And that's what investigation will reveal to us.
I think we have to remove all doubt as the impact of the Russians in our life. And I think it's important the American people to know what did Russians have on Donald Trump politically, financially, and personally, that he is standing in the way of this legitimate investigation as to the Russian impact on our election and to prevent them from doing it again.
CUOMO: But why do they have to have something on him? Why couldn't your own theories serve as a rationale, which is he doesn't like it. It's bad for him. You guys keep talking about Russia. It's a negative for him. It jades his victory, so he doesn't want it to go on. That's why he keeps opposing it.
PELOSI: But we have -- the American people have a right to know the truth. And why would the Republicans stand in the way of the truth? Why can't we see his tax returns? But, again, we're talking about him. What we should be doing is working on job creation in our country.
CUOMO: Now, to that point, and we discussed this during the town hall.
CUOMO: The vast...
PELOSI: I'm glad you remember the town hall.
CUOMO: Listen -- and it was a good night to have where people were able to address some of these concerns about the frustration.
Let's say you're right, and there is a vacuum of power manifested as progress right now on things that matter, whether it's infrastructure, jobs, tax. Why not fill that void as Democrats and say, "We're not going to wait on him? Here is our jobs plan. Let's see what they do."
PELOSI: We're doing that.
CUOMO: "Here are fixes to the ACA so he doesn't have to pull the subsidies and tank the current program in expectation of a bill that isn't there yet."
PELOSI: Well, two things -- let's start with the second point first. The fact is, is that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. The president should be honoring the law of the land and funding it. And he is -- he is sabotaging it. He shouldn't be doing that.
The most important thing that we can do is to make sure that the bill that the Republicans pass in the House does not become the law of the land, because 23 million people would lose their health insurance. Premiums would go up; benefits go down.
CUOMO: But if you don't have the votes, should you just lie in wait, as opposed to moving to try and get a compromise?
PELOSI: No. We follow the lead of President Lincoln: public sentiment is everything. We're taking this to the public, and the public is weighing in. The public is what defeated the bill the first time it came up. And the public is what's going to defeat it in the Senate in the form that it passed the House.