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House GOP Whip Scalise Critically Injured In Ambush; Can Trump Unite?; President Trump Blasts "Phony" Obstruction Probe; Struggling To Reach A Verdict In Cosby Trial; Ken Starr Discusses Trump's Possible Obstruction Investigation. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 15, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] BOB LIVINGSTON, (R) FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, LOUISIANA, CLOSE FRIEND OF STEVE SCALISE: -- a Rhodes Scholar senator and Steve Scalise was the number three guy in the House of Representatives. Steve Scalise is the best politician of all of us. He's a great politician. He's a wonderfully happy guy who loves his job, loves his family, and is doing a terrific job for the nation, and it's just tragic that he was singled out for something as awful as this.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: How's his family doing?
LIVINGSTON: As far as I know they're doing fine. His wife, Jennifer, was in Louisiana and flew up with our mutual friend yesterday and, as I say, is in the hospital. But his kids are home and, you know, they're going to have some tough days ahead but we pray that it will all be solved and that Steve will be back among us all, healthy as possible.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Bob Livingston, thank you very much for joining us with your thoughts on your friend, Steve Scalise.
LIVINGSTON: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Chris --
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So, President Trump is facing his first major domestic crisis. How has he handled it so far? What is he doing this morning? We're going to ask one of the president's informal advisers, next.
[07:35:03] CUOMO: The attack on Republicans in Virginia, it is President Trump's first domestic crisis. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise still in critical condition, still fighting, three others shot, all while practicing for a charity baseball game. So, the president addressed the nation with a message of unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may have our differences but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country. We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Let's discuss with Anthony Scaramucci, an informal adviser to President Trump. Anthony, good to see you, as always.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, MEMBER, PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM EXEC. COMMITTEE, FOUNDER AND PARTNER, SKYBRIDGE CAPITAL: Good morning, Chris. How are you?
CUOMO: What do you think the message is that should be taken by the president -- by everyone -- from the attack?
SCARAMUCCI: Well listen, first of all, my heart goes out to the victims and their families and certainly to Congressman Scalise, and I hope he recovers quickly. The problem here as we both know is that the rhetoric gets very intense, Chris, and then people spill over into more emotion and then to potentially violence, so this is a very great -- very sad thing for all of us. So, what I'm hoping is -- and the leadership that President Trump represents, which I believe is going to bring the country together and be healing for the country, and I think he set a perfect tone yesterday.
And one thing that we both know about him as fellow New Yorkers is that he's an emotional, sensitive guy, particularly when it comes to people's families. And so, I thought that was a stroke of his sensitivity last night to go to the hospital with the first lady to see Congressman Scalise and I just think it sends a real message of healing. And so, I'm praying this morning that we can bring this thing together because I think the rhetoric -- the coarse rhetoric, you know -- and you and I, we debate each other but we have a friendly comradery because we both intensely love the country. And so, what I'm hoping is we can bring that kind of healing and that type of togetherness and let this be a touchstone for that and that would be very positive, I think, for everybody.
CUOMO: Right. You don't have to be detestable to test and that's one of the reasons I was very excited for you to make the time for us this morning because, yes, this is the kind of discussion -- it's good to have robust dialogue. That's what our democracy's about. You disagree --
SCARAMUCCI: No question.
CUOMO: -- I test what you say, but it's never personal, it's never mean, and that's what we were hoping for coming out of this. So, last night with the president -- and also, we must say with Speaker Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats were in there, too, but, you know, Speaker Ryan really hit all the right notes for the American people and that is where we want the dialogue to be.
But then this morning we see where it is, Anthony. The president tweeting about this news that Mueller is looking at possible obstruction and he could have said a lot of things, but what he chose to say is "Phony collusion with the Russians, zero proof. Now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story." And the question is an obvious one. Why disrespect the special counsel and the probe? You can say there's nothing to it. You can say, you know, everything you did is fine. You can say you don't like it. But when you denigrate the process, Anthony, how is that helpful?
SCARAMUCCI: Well listen, I don't -- I don't see that as denigrating the process. I think -- see that as the president defending his position. And again, people may like this about this about the president or not, but I like it about him. There's a lot of fight in him and so he thinks that this whole thing is unfair. He thinks the way it's been characterized has been unfair. And I think he's also finding himself in the presidency where he wants to execute an agenda on behalf of all the American people and you get this sort of nonsense in Washington. And so, this is part and parcel of what we were just talking about, so now we're back to scandals incorporated. We're back to these, frankly, fake scandals.
Chris, there is nothing to that story. The President of the United States did not obstruct justice. Moreover, the campaign did not collude with the Russians as it related to anything that happened in that campaign, and I was there and I'm very comfortable saying that on national television. So we can -- we can debate this, we can have this obstruct the president's agenda, but what I think what we both know about the president, there's a lot of fight in him and he's not going to take this stuff sitting down, so I sort of applaud him for it. I don't see any reason why he should be taking this the way prior politicians have taken this sort of nonsense.
CUOMO: But --
SCARAMUCCI: And I said yesterday -- let me just finish.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
SCARAMUCCI: I said yesterday or two days ago if Sec. Clinton were the president right now there would be another manufactured scandal related to her that would be slowing down her agenda. So maybe something we can learn about from yesterday is why don't we cut the nonsense and why don't we subordinate ourselves to the interests of the American people and give this president an opportunity to executive his agenda, which is a pro-growth, healing agenda for the nation?
[07:40:13] CUOMO: Well look, a few things to unpack there. First, they can do whatever they want, right? He could be getting his agenda going at the same time the investigation goes on. Nobody's stopping him from that. Yes, there's media distraction but a little bit of this about tactic and strategy on the White House is part as well. And also, Anthony, I think it's really dangerous to conflate the central question of how did the Russians so effectively interfere in our election? How did they do it, why did they do it, and how do we stop it and make our elections more safe the next time?
SCARAMUCCI: Well --
CUOMO: The White House seems to be conflating that with any questions about collusion, right? SCARAMUCCI: But, let me ask you -- let me ask you a question, OK? So how do they do that? You're saying that because of the leaks of the Hillary Clinton and campaign manager Podesta's emails, that's how they influenced the election?
CUOMO: Wait a minute. You're asking --
SCARAMUCCI: Did they hack --
CUOMO: -- about whether or not the Russians were interfering in the election? You believe that's an open question?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I'm asking you --
CUOMO: That's not an open question, Anthony.
SCARAMUCCI: Chris, I'm asking you how they did it, OK? I'm asking you how they did it --
CUOMO: In part --
SCARAMUCCI: -- and I'm trying to make --
CUOMO: In part, we don't even understand. What we know from the NSC right now --
SCARAMUCCI: I'm trying to make -- I'm trying to make a point to you. It had absolutely nothing to do with the president. And the president has been very consistent on this to the extent that after all the findings have been established and to the extent that that is absolutely accurate what you're saying --
CUOMO: But it's a separate question also, Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: But listen, we still don't know --
CUOMO: -- whether -- who had anything -- who helped them --
SCARAMUCCI: No. We still don't know -- Chris, we still don't know all the facts.
CUOMO: If they were involved with the campaign. I know, I agree with you. That's a good point you just made. We don't know the facts.
CUOMO: That's why they're investigating. But who was involved with it is a side issue to the main issue and when you say there's nothing to any of it, it is all a hoax, it may have been China, it may have been a fat guy, now that is a disservice to making our election process safe.
SCARAMUCCI: I didn't say -- OK, so now we're going to -- we're back -- you and I are back disagreeing because the president had nothing to do with it, OK, and his staff --
CUOMO: I didn't say he did.
SCARAMUCCI: So all I'm saying to you is he has been very tough. He's a very tough adversary and to the extent that the Russians did something and it's definitive and that investigation is conclusive, the president will take the appropriate and measured response against the Russian government, the Russian hackers, or whoever it may be, Chris. I'm not -- I'm not --
CUOMO: So that investigation matters. You're not -- you're not questioning that investigation.
SCARAMUCCI: No, we're not. I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not questioning that investigation --
SCARAMUCCI: -- but the notion that the President of the United States obstructed justice is absolute complete nonsense and it's back into that Washington fever where people want to throw eggs and tomatoes at him to try to slow down his agenda. You're saying that the media --
CUOMO: But how could Mueller not look at it, Anthony -- how could Mueller not look at it when you had James Comey testify that he believes he was fired for not backing off the probe on Michael Flynn. Sessions obviously ducked the questions, but how could Mueller not look at it as possible obstruction? It doesn't mean he's going to find any proof. It doesn't mean he's going to suggest impeachment proceedings. But how could he not look at it on the facts as we understand them?
SCARAMUCCI: Let him look at it, but the leaks are absolute nonsense and the president said to Lester Holt a few weeks back that hey listen, I knew that if I fired Comey it would probably extend the Russian investigation as opposed to shorten it and he thought that was the right thing to do. I have to respect his decision. Mr. Comey also said in front of the Congress that he didn't think that the president should have been under investigation.
CUOMO: That's right.
SCARAMUCCI: That there was no "investigation" of him, so we have to be fair to the president and we also have to look at this thing for what it is, which is another scandal, another witch hunt --
CUOMO: We don't know what it is. We haven't had any findings from the investigators.
SCARAMUCCI: We do, we do. Chris, we know what it is because you and I are old enough now to see this movie. We've watched this movie play out in the nineties, we watched it play out during the Bush administration, we watched it play out during the Obama administration. And I think the reason why President Trump is in the White House right now is the American people are tired of it. They want to go back to figuring out a way to fix our infrastructure, regrow our economy, heal the nation's divide, help lower-middle class families with rising incomes, create more activeglobal demand -- CUOMO: And there's an opportunity to do all that. He's president for four years. He's got a staff that he can thicken (ph) out with people, and he can get his agenda going.
SCARAMUCCI: There's no -- there's no question -- there's no question we're going to do that --
CUOMO: I'm just saying that part of it is how you talk about the things that matter.
SCARAMUCCI: -- but we're also going to push and shove back people that are involved with nonsense.
CUOMO: And how you push and shove back also matters. Look how we did it today, Anthony. That's all I'm saying. I'm testing you on points. You may not agree with the testing but how we do it is simple.
SCARAMUCCI: I like being here in Washington because I look taller than you on the screen.
CUOMO: Well, you're always better looking and you're always welcome.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm slightly taller than you on the screen there. I'm going to be doing these hits from Washington from now on, Chris.
[07:45:02] CUOMO: I'm going to talk to my cameraman about that. This will never happen again. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
SCARAMUCCI: Good seeing you.
CUOMO: Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: All right. Another story that we're following this morning, why have jurors still not reached a verdict in the Bill Cosby trial? We have a live report on it, next.
CAMEROTA: Tensions rising in a Pennsylvania courtroom as the jury in the Bill Cosby trial still struggles to reach a verdict after three days of deliberations. CNN's Jean Casarez is live outside of the courthouse with more. So, Jean, any clues as to whether they're close?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm in that courtroom and I look and I do objectively see things. What they mean, I don't know. But the judge said late last night, "Jury, you've worked from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. You're going to go home now." Twenty-eight hours of deliberation and they looked tired. Late last night, they wanted to hear the testimony of Bill Cosby's statement to police in 2005.
The jury comes in, and I've always seen them focused, but last night I saw something different. I saw one female juror -- and this took a long time for this testimony. She was looking up at the ceiling, she was looking down at the floor, she was playing with her bracelets, she was looking at the historical painting on the wall. All the other jurors, that from my vantage point that I saw, were focused in on the testimony. She was not. What that means, I don't know.
People are starting to talk about holdout around here. I just spoke to Lili Bernard. She is one of the accusers. Six of them have flown in from all over the country. She was on the "COSBY SHOW." She just told me minutes ago that she believes there's two holdouts. She thinks she knows who they are as she sits in that courtroom. But Chris, here's the fact, here's the reality. The jury is still deliberating. They have not come back to the judge saying we cannot reach a verdict -- Chris.
[07:50:18] And, you know -- and after there's a verdict in this case, your reporting and analysis is going to shed light on why there was so much time in this deliberation. I don't think it was as simple on the law as people are suggesting it may have been. Thank you for the reporting, as always, Jean -- appreciate it.
"The Washington Post" reporting President Trump is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice. Why? Is there a basis? We're going to discuss it with former independent counsel Ken Starr, next.
CAMEROTA: "The Washington Post" is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice after firing FBI director James Comey. Let's discuss with Ken Starr. He served as independent counsel on the Clinton-Lewinski investigation. Mr. Starr, good morning.
KENNETH STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: Hey, good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So you've heard "The Washington Post" reporting that now it seems to -- Bob Mueller's investigation seems to have widened. Not just Russia meddling, not just possible collusion, but whether or not the president engaged in some sort of obstruction of justice involving pressing James Comey to back off Michael Flynn, et cetera. Do you think there's a case there?
STARR: It's too soon to tell from what I have seen and, of course, we don't know a whole lot. The answer is no, but it is going to be investigated and so we will soon know. Obstruction of justice is really a very hard crime to make out. It's not just you want the investigation to go away, you suggest that the investigation goes away. You've got take really affirmative action.
And Director Comey said in his testimony that even though the expression was "hope" he took it as a directive. But what we know is he didn't do anything about it, right? That is, he did not dismiss the investigation or curtail the investigation. There's an expression of hope so it becomes an interpretation and I think it's just a very hard case to make out and, you know, that's a good thing for all of us. Crimes should be difficult to prove. There's a presumption --
CAMEROTA: Well -- STARR: Go ahead.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I agree. I wholeheartedly agree on that front, but just let's remind people what you're referring to because this is what James Comey wrote in his prepared statement for the Senate Intel Committee, so just so everybody knows the language. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go" -- to letting Flynn go. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." That's what James Comey says President Trump said to him about the investigation.
CAMEROTA: And as you say, he interpreted that as a directive. Listen to his testimony here.
[07:55:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I took it as a direction. I mean, it is the President of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do. Now, I didn't obey that but that's the way I took it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So, Mr. Starr, are you saying that he would have had to have obeyed it in order for that to be obstruction of justice?
STARR: No. We're going to the intent of what it is it that the president had in mind. He was expressing -- his literal language was hope and I think that redounds to the benefit of the president. He's saying, "Golly, I sure wish this would go away. It's in the way of my agenda. I need to run the country and this is a terrible distraction. I hope you can see your way clear." That, to me, just the language, is far removed from a directive. My point is the director of the FBI then didn't act on that. He, rather, just continued as before and reported -- memorialized it -- but he did not then say "OK, ladies and gentlemen of the FBI, we are getting rid of this investigation at the direction of the president."
CAMEROTA: Let me ask your impressions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony. What did you think about his general reticence and real refusal, actually, to share conversations that he had had with President Trump? It sounded like he was sort of citing executive privilege but not that -- not that President Trump had cited that.
STARR: Yes. It was a difficult middle ground but the attorney general was exactly right. He was protecting executive privilege, he wasn't asserting it, and so it's a fine distinction but it's an important distinction. That is, you don't know what you're going to be asked and when you're asked, as he was asked continuously, repetitively, "What conversations did you have with the president," to me, it was, in fact, a very well-known drama.
It would be well-known that the attorney general of the United State is not going to reveal in an open session without the opportunity for the president to, in fact, direct the attorney general and to invoke a constitutional privilege called "executive privilege." It was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court of the United States. Maybe it would be well-founded to invoke it, maybe it would not, but I think it was an entire exercise --
STARR: -- that, in large part, was intended to embarrass the attorney general. I think he stood his ground --
CAMEROTA: But did that -- but him refusing to say that in an open session, does that hold in a closed session also?
STARR: Same thing, exactly. So, the closed session -- I think the open session point was just the embarrassment factor and it becomes headlines that the attorney general wasn't answering the question. But the attorney general was on solid -- in my judgment and one person's opinion, very solid, constitutional ground in saying I've got to protect the president's privilege, as well as just the policy, which is exactly right. You don't, as an officer of the Justice Department, reveal your conversations with the President of the United States. It's just part of the separation of powers in our system.
CAMEROTA: In your opinion, what is the biggest unanswered question?
STARR: Well, I think the biggest unanswered question is was there any sort of collusion with the campaign? There's been no suggestion that the president -- if there was collusion with Russian operatives that the president or the candidate himself was involved, but was there? I think the American people want to know the answer to that and I think we're going to get it because we've got a very talented and determined special counsel, but we also now have two committees -- at least two committees, Senate Intelligence and now the Senate Judiciary Committee. We're going to get the answers.
CAMEROTA: And, very, very quickly, you were an independent counsel. Bob Mueller's role is special counsel. That means that he can be fired and you couldn't be. Could you have done your investigation under the threat of possibly being fired?
STARR: Oh, yes, I could be fired for a good cause -- same provision in the law as then. But now, it's just a tougher -- I think it's a tougher call because of the lesser degree of independence that the special counsel enjoys under these regulations, but it's essentially the same standard.
CAMEROTA: OK, good to know. Mr. Ken Starr, thank you very much for joining us with all the information.
STARR: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news, including the congressman who helped saved Steve Scalise's life, so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's also a victim down in the baseball field.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scalise was to my left and I saw him go down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Capitol police were not there I'm afraid we would have all been dead.
TRUMP: We are strongest when we are unified.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We will use this occasion as one that brings us together.
PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the firing of James Comey, the FBI began to investigate the president for obstruction of justice.