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Importance of President Trump's Tweets Debated; NSA Arrests Contractor for Leaking; Interview with Sen. Angus King; Trump Defends His Tweets & Blasts Fake Media. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 6, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But Collins just said, well, only the filtered part matters. Sebastian Gorka said it. It's not an executive order. It doesn't matter. Kellyanne Conway saying focusing on Twitter -- the president of the United States just told you, don't listen to them. Don't listen to them. The tweets matter. They are honest and unfiltered.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, but they matter for a moment.

CUOMO: I don't know what that means. I really don't.

CAMEROTA: He can say that the travel ban is -- that he thinks that Muslims should be banned. He can say something that. That's not what ends up in policy.

CUOMO: It is what happened in policy. Hold on a second. That's exactly what happened.

CAMEROTA: And not it's changed.

CUOMO: And he says he doesn't like that, he wants to go back to the original.

CAMEROTA: He won't.

CUOMO: How do we know?

CAMEROTA: Because the Supreme Court is seeing the second version, not the first version. So for policy as it stands right now, that tweet didn't matter.

CUOMO: But he also tweeted the DOJ should ask for an immediate hearing, which doesn't exist, and then go back to the original. I don't know how you give him a discount on that because it's temporary.

CAMEROTA: It's that they vaporize. They matter for a moment, and then the policy --

FRANK SESNO, FORMER CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: But they don't vaporize. The president's words never vaporize.

CAMEROTA: They shouldn't. SESNO: They don't. Whether it is the Khans, remember, the family, or whether it is any tweet that has gone out there, you can pull that up, and you do, and they don't vaporize, as we saw in the courts.

CUOMO: The ninth circuit --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I don't remember some of the crazy he posted a year or two or three or four years ago.

CUOMO: Just because there is a volume of extreme statements doesn't mean that they don't matter individually and in the aggregate.


SESNO: One, they have to be careful he doesn't devalue his own words because there are so many and, two, that advise that you got that the media should not obsess on tweets, is correct. And some point the media need to move on and look a lot of other things that are happening out there, put those tweets in context.

CAMEROTA: Done. Thank you very much. Welcome back, Frank.

We're following a lot of news. Let's go right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This young lady is in trouble. They are sending a clear message to leakers here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Justice Department charging an NSA contractor with leaking a classified report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because you see something that is classified, you can't hand that out like it's candy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 has made that clear it is a travel ban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred characters is not policy. It is social media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president could be more disciplined about staying on his agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the time to expose the tweets from Donald Trump. There are many things we share. Donald Trump is wrong.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NEW DAY.

Up first, the Trump administration vowed to prosecute leakers and now they have their first case. The Justice Department charging a 25- year-old young woman, a contractor, with leaking a classified report on Russia's election interference and mailing it to an online media outlet.

CUOMO: Also this morning, the White House trying to recover from the president's latest tweets about what he says is a travel ban. The president himself just tweeted and said, hey, they don't want me to use social media, talking about us. But he also goes for his White House, and he says too bad. It is honest. It is unfiltered. The president telling you his tweets matter.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett live in Washington. You know who else said the tweets matter? The ninth circuit in terms of looking at proof of intention from the president on the travel ban. What do you have for us this morning, Laura?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Chris. But 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 woman named Reality Winner, a federal contractor who prosecutors say admitting to mailing a classified intelligence document to a news outlet.

Sources tell CNN that the document Winner is accused of allegedly leaking is the same one at the center of an article published by "The Intercept" that details attempted cyber-attacks by Russian military intelligence into voting systems in the U.S. just days before last year's presidential election. And while there is 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 a voting software supplier and trick local election officials in the U.S.

Prosecutors say Winner was caught because the news outlet sent a copy of the document to the government for authentication before the story was published and investigators could see that the pages appears to have a crease, suggesting that they had been printed and folded at some point. So they did an audit of who printed the document and traced it back to Winner. She is now facing some pretty serious charges carrying up to 10 years in prison. And Winner's lawyer says she's been simply caught up in the middle of something bigger than her. Chris, Alisyn?

[08:05:02] CAMEROTA: Laura, thank you very much.

So President Trump defending his use of Twitter and social media this morning, this after he tweeted about his travel ban, again contradicting his own White House aides.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House trying to sort all this out for us. Joe, what have you learned? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Alisyn, it

was not 24 hours ago that an administrator stood where I'm standing now and tried to make the case that the president's tweets, his presence on social media, really doesn't matter. This morning the president has undercut that aide with a tweet, and the tweet says "The fake MSM," meaning mainstream media, "is working so hard trying to get me not to use social media. They hate that I can get the message, the honest and unfiltered message out." So that tweet from the president of the United States this morning as the question continues over whether the president and his aides are on the same page when it comes to message.


JOHNS: 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.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY 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. 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 represents 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 PRESIDENT TRUMP: The obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little what he does as president --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his preferred message of communication.

CONWAY: That's not true.

JOHNS: The administration now attempting to downplay the importance of the president's tweets.

DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: It's not policy. It's social media, Chris. It is social media.

CUOMO: It is not social media. It is his words,his thoughts.

GORKA: It is not a policy. It's not an executive order. It is 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 the 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.

SADIQ KHAN, LONDON MAYOR: The president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for.


JOHNS: The president started out this morning apparently on message when he tweeted out that there was a big meeting today with the Republican leadership concerning tax cuts and health care, said they are all pushing hard, must get it right. We are expecting Sean Spicer at the podium briefing today, and that is -- that meeting with congressional leaders is apparently the most important thing going on as far as we know right now. Alisyn and Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Joe, appreciate it.

The president tweeting again, and again it's about something very serious and it matters. "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated there can be no longer funding of radical ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar. Look."

All right, let's discuss what that means and what this disconnect between the White House message and the president's message is going to mean for governing. We have Independent Senator Angus King. He's on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committee. Senator, always good to see you. What do you make of this? Why is the president going out of his way to undermine the White House's own message?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, I don't think he's going out of his way to purposefully undermine it. I think he's being himself and communicating. The danger is that he's making policy almost inadvertently. I had been governor 20 years ago about a month when a friend said, you know, you have got to be careful when you are having lunch or walking down the hall, you're going to inadvertently make policy.

And so when you are in a position like that, and the presidency is 100 times being the governor, you can't just say what is on your mind at that particular moment. And I think this is -- you know, this is a significant problem, and for the administration then to say, don't mind what this man is saying over here, you know, Wizard of Oz, don't pay attention to that main behind the curtain, that doesn't pass the straight face test.

CUOMO: But for months they have told us we are wrong for saying the travel ban is a ban. He then tweets again and again and again in an odd context, you know, in a moment of crisis for London where you would think a president would be reaching out and be conciliatory, double down on the threat.

[08:10:02] And he says it is a ban. It has always been a ban. I want it to be a ban, and I want it to be the original ban, which is something that could have a little bit of bearing on the case before the Supreme Court.

KING: Sure. Well, Kellyanne Conway's husband, as you noted a few minutes ago, has already pointed out that that's a compromise of the case because what the courts have been looking at is what is this really. Is this the president's exercise of his authority to limit immigration, or is it an intentional act to try to keep certain people out of the country for religious reasons? And his comments, his extracurricular comments, if you will, have already been used in the court proceedings. So, you know, you're right.

And I think it goes to the issue of realizing the power of the presidency. You can make an offhand comment that the market will fall 500 points or there will be a conflict that will arise. It is not -- you give up -- it seems to me when you become president you give up the right to be offhanded about your comments and just say whatever is on your mind at that moment. The consequences, the results are just too significant.

CUOMO: They absolutely matter. And the suggestion they are just tweets it is just absurd. You can see it again and again. Look at the Comey situation you are going to be facing. You're one of the, Angus King is one of the senators who is going to get to ask questions of the former FBI director on Thursday. The president's tweets about Comey were fundamental in our understanding of what went on there with his firing, just as it is when he went on record with a journalist and talked about it. What do you want to ask from Comey on Thursday?

KING: Chris, one of the advantages of being more or less junior on the committee is that I get to listen to the other questions and Mr. Comey's answers before I have to formulate mine. I want to get to the bottom of what were the circumstances surrounding the firing, what were the circumstances surrounding these various meetings going back to right after the inauguration, and supposedly was he asked to be loyal, and was he asked to somehow put a damper on part of the investigation. Those are very, very important questions. I'm sure they're going to be asked.

But I have some other questions, too, that frankly, I am going to wait until the hearing to share with Mr. Comey.

CUOMO: You don't want to give us a little bit of an advance, that's OK, senator. That's your right.

Let me ask you. Do you have any particular curiously about that paragraph that stuck out in everybody's minds that the president had drafted from the White House where he thanked Comey or at least recognized Comey for telling him on three separate occasions, the president stated, that he was not part of investigation. Do you want to know if that ever happened?

KING: Absolutely. That paragraph you refer to was in the letter where he fired Comey. And by the way, the last line of that letter is "Good luck with your future endeavors" or something like that. It was sort of strange. But yes, absolutely, did you reassure the president. Were there those conversations? Did he ask directly.

And this is a very, very important part of this investigation. We were concerned that perhaps director Comey's testimony would be -- not suppressed isn't the right word, but pushed to the side somewhat by the Mueller investigation. But we received word yesterday that Director Mueller is not going to constrain Mr. Comey from speaking to us fully, and I think that's good news. We should get a full accounting from Jim Comey on Thursday.

CUOMO: That's an important development. So as far as you know, the former director is not curtailed in any way by the special counsel in what he can talk to you. So do you expect Comey to refuse to discuss any topic?

KING: Well, I do expect that he won't discuss the Russian investigation itself. In other words, the investigation that Mueller is now in charge of, I don't expect him to give us an update or anything from what it was like or what he knew when he left. I'll be surprised if he does that. But as far as from the inauguration on and his interactions with the president, that appears to be absolutely fair game, and it's very important material for us to have.

CUOMO: Senator, we anticipate your questions. It is going to be a big day. We'll be doing it with special coverage. We are starting NEW DAY an hour early and we have special coverage starting at 9:00. The testimony is supposed be at 10:00. Let me ask you one last question, maybe a difficult one for you. Who do you believe has the nicer tie on this morning, you or me?

KING: Well, I think the deal is, Chris, that we're both promoting Maine lobsters this morning. So that's got to be good news.


CUOMO: Full disclosures, this is from the senator, this tie. You'll see there is a little lobster trap at the bottom of it. I commented I liked the senator's tie, and in Italian fashion he sent me it.

[08:15:04] CAMEROTA: That is fantastic. Now, did you coordinate your outfit this is morning before you came on the air?

CUOMO: No. I knew the senator was coming on. I wore this to ingratiate myself to him and hope for better access.

CAMEROTA: Is it working, Senator?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I want you to know that my lobster tie, each lobster has a little American flag. So, this is not only promoting lobsters, but it's a patriotic tie.

CUOMO: That's an American lobster. I do not have flags on mine, which is now making me feel inadequate.

CAMEROTA: Senator, I like your shirt. Perhaps you'll send me something. Hmm?

KING: The shirts are from LL Bean. Check LL Bean there, Alisyn.


CUOMO: That's a Maine company. Self-serving.


KING: Oh, it is? I didn't notice.

CAMEROTA: Senator, thank you very much. Great to see you.

KING: Thank you. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: President Trump digging in, defending his use of Twitter as members of his own administration say his tweets don't mean anything. Who should we listen to?

CUOMO: Him. Listen to the --


CAMEROTA: All right. So, President Trump has been sending a different message than his top aides have been sending. He tweeted this morning: The fake mainstream media is working so hard trying not to get me to use social media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.

But that's different than the message his administration was sending out yesterday. Here's that.



CUOMO: Of course it is.

GORKA: It's social media, Chris. It's social media.

CUOMO: It's not social media, it's his words. His thoughts.

[08:20:00] GORKA: It's not policy. It's not an executive order. It's social media. Please understand the difference.

CUOMO: I think that you need an understanding here.

GORKA: I'm inside the White House. I know what policy is. You're a journalist.

CUOMO: When the president says, "This is what I want," what are you saying, we shouldn't listen to what the president says?

GORKA: You shouldn't obsess about it for 12 minutes, Chris.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This obsession of covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as a president --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his preferred method of communication with the American people.

CONWAY: That's not true.


CAMEROTA: Hmm. All right. Let's obsess about it a little bit more and try to get the answers.

Let's bring in our panel. We have reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza, and CNN political analyst David Gregory and April Ryan.

April, we know you had a very interesting exchange in the White House that we will get to momentarily.

OK. David Gregory, yes, the president's words matter. Obviously, he is the president of the free world. Whatever he says matters. However, he says lots of different things on Twitter. How are we to know which ones are official?

Here is what Chris Collins, Congressman Chris Collins and Sebastian Gorka who Chris spoke to yesterday tried to thread this needle, to help us understand which ones to pay attention to. Listen to this.


GORKA: It's social media, Chris. It's social media. You know the difference, right?

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.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (D), NEW YORK: You take them seriously because they are our president's thoughts. However, the nuances at the end, there will be a certain filter they go through when they become official policy.


CAMEROTA: OK. David, you heard them both say they are not official policy.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this doesn't have to be a Talmudic debate. I mean, the president is speaking in an unfiltered way. He is providing remarkable transparency on the part of any president to really let us into what he thinks, what position he stakes out.

For all of his advisors, I just, you know, kind of dismiss all that. They are in an impossible position. They are sent out or they're allowing themselves to be sent out to defend something that's completely ridiculous on its face.

He is the president of the United States, words matter. He should care about the office of the presidency and the Office of the President, and what that means on the world stage. He doesn't care about that, so he can offend the mayor of London right after the attack and inaccurately quote him from the aftermath of the attack or he can essentially undercut his own administration on the issue of the travel ban.

All of these things I think just undermine his potential effectiveness. He is a leader who wants to either respond to crisis or advance a legislative agenda. He is not doing either very well because he's only, you know, creating more discord within his administration. He himself is erratic, so we don't know where he ultimately will land. But what he's saying is absolutely what he thinks and that's the bottom line.

CUOMO: Right. And that is the utility in it, Chris Cillizza, this idea that he can be all over the place. Yeah, and very often we don't get any access to that with our leaders. We don't see the vagaries, we don't see the iterations, we don't see the hypocrisies because they get filtered. We have been gifted this direct line into the mind of the president.

So, doesn't every single tweet, every iteration, every twist, every hypocrisy matter?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. In fact, I would argue it matters more than many of the statements we get. Now, to David's point, certainly out of his staff and out of official such as they are presidential statements.

I watched that Chris Collins interview with wonderment and amazement because basically what Chris Collins did in that interview with Alisyn is make the exact case for why we should pay a ton of attention to Donald Trump's tweets. He essentially said, well, this isn't like an official statement that's filtered through a bunch of people. This is just the president talking.

CUOMO: The president said the same thing.

CILLIZZA: Yes, that's the point.

CUOMO: He said, they don't want me to use -- he's talking about us. The irony is nobody wants him to tweet more than we do. I want him to tweet every second, you know?


CILLIZZA: Yes. This is him breaking with -- he has been -- I guarantee you, look, Chris, I know how the media works, I think, pretty well. I've been doing it for a while.

There is no one in the media who says, man, I hope Donald Trump tweets less. That is not a thing that happens, OK?


CILLIZZA: Then the people who tell him to tweet less are people on his staff.

So, look, again, I would urge people if you have not watched that Chris Collins interview, go back and watch it because it's the tortured logic of trying to explain something that is unexplainable. Why he's -- his tweets are basically the most authentic representation of him but also not official policy because they haven't been filtered six ways to Sunday.

CAMEROTA: That's right. So, April, there you are on the front lines, right, at the White House press room every day trying to make sense of all of this, trying to figure out what to pay attention to, what to prioritize, what to take seriously and literally whatnot to, and trying to get answers.

[08:25:10] And what is your experience like when you make these points to whoever it is, if it's Sara Huckabee Sanders or it's Sean Spicer, and you have to listen to them do these verbal gymnastics?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's tough. It's very tough because logic says one thing and they're saying another. And you use the operative trying to make sense, trying is the operative word.

But then you have the president of the United States going to Chris and David, who made excellent points. He comes and just upsets the apple cart with what they are trying to do.

He is the leader of the free world. He is the president of the United States. And words matter. His words matter. They're archived.

He shakes markets. He changes policy. Whatever he thinks and we watch on Twitter, we take that more so as fact than what they are saying at that podium because he is their leader. He is their boss. He is the leader of the free world, and what he is thinking is actually coming out. Then you hear it just does not come together, does not marry at all.

CUOMO: Well, it also seems to be a window, David, into this deepening discord that the president has with those around him. Maggie Haberman has got the reporting in "The Times" this morning about how he feels about Jeff Sessions and whether he recused and obviously it wasn't an accident that he talks so much about the travel ban in the context of the DOJ doing the wrong thing.

But for him to, with a clear mind, according to his tweets this morning, go out there and contradict what he knows that his surrogates are saying --


CUOMO: -- that kind of tells us something also, doesn't it?

GREGORY: It tells us a lot. You know, presidential leadership has a singular aspect to it, right, that there is an aspect of leadership that comes from the top, that comes from the president. But government is very much a team effort. That's why you have a team of advisors who help you wade through information, work through complicated issues and reach a decision that's the best decision that you can possibly make under the circumstances.

In this case, we have evidence here and the tweeting is just symptomatic of it, of a president who is simply not listening. So, when Sebastian Gorka says that social media is not policy, he has a point. What matters is not where you start, but where you finish.

But we don't know where the president is going to finish and what we often know is that wherever he starts is where he himself would like to finish and may well finish if he's not listening to the advice around him.

CUOMO: And, in fact, the tweet gave us a better reckoning of what he wants out of the executive order on travel than the official position. He said he want it is original.

CAMEROTA: But we don't know where it will finish, to David's point. That doesn't mean it will become policy, it's what he wants. That's not what the Supreme Court will decide on. It's the new revised one.

CUOMO: The Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of the order before it, which is the second one.


CUOMO: But if the president, he started the Muslim ban. He called it that, he said he wanted it. He is the final word.


CUOMO: I know and he says he didn't want that. Of course he's the final word.

CAMEROTA: The Supreme Court is the final word.

CUOMO: That's of the legality of the order. What that order is is up to the president. He signs it and he drafts it. That's why it is called an executive order.

CAMEROTA: Panel, we'll spare you having to weigh in on all of this. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

CUOMO: New details about terror investigation in London. We know the identities of all three attackers. Now, one of them was known to British authorities. In what context? Live report ahead.