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Trump Lawyer Denies the President Under Investigation Despite Tweet; Interview with Senator Chris Murphy; How Will Trump Respond to Warmbier's Death. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 20, 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] ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FOUNDER AND PARTNER, SKYBRIDGE CAPITAL: -- phenomenal attorney. The president has done nothing wrong. I said that to you last week from Washington. I'll say it to you today. I can stand by that very confidently. I have known the guy for many, many years. And I think his integrity as a human being in a situation like that.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
SCARAMUCCI: I think is unquestionable.
CUOMO: But here's what I'm saying.
SCARAMUCCI: But let me finish.
CUOMO: Well, I want to comment --
SCARAMUCCI: OK. That's --
CUOMO: I want to ask a question about your comment. You made your point, right?
CUOMO: You say well, we have a problem --
SCARAMUCCI: The president has done nothing wrong. That's my point.
CUOMO: Right. And I am saying -- that's fine for you to hold that opinion. There's an investigation going on. We'll see what it yields. Comey told the president he wasn't under investigation. Fine. What does that have to do with Mueller examining the circumstances surrounding the firing of Comey?
SCARAMUCCI: So you're saying that he's under investigation by Mueller surrounding the circumstances of the firing of Comey?
CUOMO: I'm saying that it makes sense that Mueller would be looking at it. Comey has said as much in his testimony.
SCARAMUCCI: I mean, it was 30 years ago but I did take constitutional law from Larry Tribe at Harvard Law School. The president has the right to fire the FBI director. The president also got information and a recommendation from the deputy. He did tell Lester Holt that he would have fired him anyway, and he made a decision to fire the FBI director. Now if you want to say that he made that --
CUOMO: He said more than that to Lester Holt.
SCARAMUCCI: Let me -- I understand that. But we're talking about this specific issue in the investigation.
CUOMO: On this specific issue he said more.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, but let --
SCARAMUCCI: But let's stay on this issue.
CUOMO: I am staying on this issue. I'm saying there's more.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm right here with you, brother. Let me finish the point.
CUOMO: Go right ahead.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm right here with you.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
SCARAMUCCI: Here's the point. The president said he would have fired him one way or the other. He has the right to do that. People in the media are suggesting maybe he fired him as a way to obstruct justice on the Russian situation is in fact the issue --
CUOMO: Because what did the president say to Lester Holt?
SCARAMUCCI: What did he say, Chris?
CUOMO: He said, I had Russia on my mind. And I was thinking, you know, this whole Russian thing, I don't like what Comey is doing about it, I fired him.
SCARAMUCCI: You see, here's the thing about you --
CUOMO: He means what he says, right?
SCARAMUCCI: I genuinely -- I genuinely like this about you. And your very good at this. You're probably really good at cross word puzzles, too. But let's stay on this point. The president did nothing wrong. He fired the guy because he had the opportunity to fire the guy. He didn't think he was doing the right job for him. He has the right to fire him. When he said -- when he said that he had Russia --
CUOMO: He has the right to fire him and we can examine why.
SCARAMUCCI: When he said he had Russia on his mind, it's not because he did anything wrong. CUOMO: It's a pattern of other behavior.
SCARAMUCCI: He's sitting there frustrated at the notion that --
CUOMO: He doesn't like the Russia probe.
SCARAMUCCI: Because it's a hoax.
CUOMO: He doesn't like it.
CUOMO: And that's what he thinks.
SCARAMUCCI: It's more fake news.
CUOMO: It's certainly not a hoax.
SCARAMUCCI: It's fake scandal, fake --
CUOMO: No, no, no.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. As it relates --
CUOMO: Anthony, you don't believe that.
SCARAMUCCI: Chris, I do believe that.
CUOMO: You don't believe that.
SCARAMUCCI: As it relates to collusion with the campaign.
CUOMO: All right. That's something separate. That's something separate.
SCARAMUCCI: We're arguing two different things.
CUOMO: But you guys conflate them. In investigating why Russia interfered --
SCARAMUCCI: I don't -- I'm not conflating it.
CUOMO: And who may have helped, all matters, yes?
SCARAMUCCI: The president has been very clear about that.
CUOMO: Not so much.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, he has.
CUOMO: Not so much.
SCARAMUCCI: He has been cleared privately --
CUOMO: He calls it a hoax and a witch-hunt. He doesn't ever say let's find out what happened with Russia. (CROSSTALK)
SCARAMUCCI: Calls it as a hoax as it relates to the investigation.
CUOMO: As it relates to the Russia investigation.
SCARAMUCCI: As it relates to the investigation of him and his campaign.
SCARAMUCCI: And his campaign staff --
CUOMO: And James Comey says the president talked to me nine times and never asked him about the Russia investigation into the election interference. What does that tell us? Tells us he doesn't care about that. He cares about what happens to him and any allegations of collusion because it hurts him politically.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. So this is where I'm going to totally disagree with you on that.
SCARAMUCCI: And I'm going to be very respectful to you. The president does care. The president has said on more than one occasion that once all of the facts and all the findings are unveiled that he would act in a judicious way as it related to Russia and other countries if other countries are --
CUOMO: And he keeps calling the process a hoax and the people who are doing it bad and conflicted.
SCARAMUCCI: Your issue, OK, which I respect, but you should respect my issue and my issue is --
CUOMO: You are here because I respect your take.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. All right. So let me give you my take. The president has an agenda that's going to help the American people, lower middle class families and middle class families. These sorts of scandals and this hoaxiness nature to some of these scandals has got to be very frustrating to an American businessman that is now the commander-in-chief and the president.
He wants to execute his agenda, Chris. He wants to bring the Congress together and get wins on the board for the American people as it relates to health care reform. Democrats know that that has to be reformed as well as the Republicans. We may disagree on the nature of the bill but we all know that that Obamacare situation has to be reformed.
Number two, we haven't reformed the tax code since 1986, Chris. That's a generation plus six or seven years of no reform of the tax code. We have to fix the tax code. Number three --
CUOMO: We're waiting to hear what the plan is.
SCARAMUCCI: We're waiting to hear what the plan is but we're so distracted by all of this --
CUOMO: You can do two things at once. You know, you can't say that the Russia situation doesn't matter. It just does.
SCARAMUCCI: You know why don't we get guests on NEW DAY to talk about health care.
CUOMO: We do. We have them on all of the time. And by the way, a lot of Republicans won't come on to talk about it.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Well, you're a tough interviewer, Chris. Maybe they don't like your --
CUOMO: They can talk to Alisyn. I hear everybody like her.
SCARAMUCCI: We'll have Alisyn talk to these people, OK.
CUOMO: They can all come on, they said no.
SCARAMUCCI: My point, I'm going to stay on my point. OK. He is a great guy.
[07:35:05] He's a moral leader. I think he'll handle the North Korea situation. I think he will execute on taxes and health care. And my guess is, is that when this is all over, and there's no there-there for the president, I hope people in the mainstream media will vindicate him.
When they were rallying on him and writing all of these op-eds that he's the worst guy ever and shouldn't be the president and he made it to the presidency, I think the "The New York Times" had to have a little bit of an apology and a comeuppance. And my guess is, is that when this investigation is over, the smart people in the media, the objective, fair people in the media will have to have a little bit of a comeuppance and say, hey, there was no there-there related to the president, his campaign team and the administration.
CUOMO: Let --
SCARAMUCCI: Now there might be a there-there related to -- you know, not collusion, but activity related to the Russians. It's a totally different topic. And I do believe that he will handle that aggressively --
CUOMO: There is certainly a relationship between all the different questions being asked. Mueller should be allowed to do his job and then we'll see what comes out of it.
Anthony Scaramucci, always a pleasure. Thank you very much -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Anthony Scaramucci, your wish is my command. Our next guest is going to talk health care because Senate Democrats
are protesting the secrecy of Republicans over their health care bill. What did their protest accomplish last night?
Senator Chris Murphy, who just spoke on the Senate floor hours ago, he's going to join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:40:21] SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Why are my constituents not allowed to see the details of what's about to happen to their lives? Why are only a select group of Americans able to have a voice inside that room? My constituents are Americans just like the constituents in the Republican states are Americans. They deserve to know what's about to happen to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That was Senator Chris Murphy on the late shift last night as Democrats held the floor to raise concerns about the Republicans' behind closed door efforts to replace Obamacare.
Democratic Senator Murphy is of Connecticut, he joins us now. He is a member of the Committee on Health and the Foreign Relations Committee.
Good morning, Senator. How are you?
MURPHY: Good morning. A little tired but glad to be with you.
CAMEROTA: What time were you up to last night?
MURPHY: Somewhere around 1:00 in the morning.
CAMEROTA: Right. So you're passionate speech and that of your colleagues on the floor, didn't actually stall the Republicans' work on this health care bill. So what did you accomplish?
MURPHY: Well, I think two things. I mean, one, we clearly are trying to shame our Republican colleagues into opening up this process. I mean, every single one of them almost to a person claimed that Democrats in 2009 were ramming through the Affordable Health Care Act when in fact that bill was public for the American people to see for months and months. There was a 30-day debate in the United States Senate.
And they are about to bring a bill that reorders one-fifth of the American economy, jacks up rates on everybody, takes insurance potentially from millions to the Senate floor without more than maybe a day or two of viewing by the American public. So we are trying to shame the Republicans to open up this process.
But, two, we're trying to wake the American people up to what's about to happen. There's been a lot of coverage of the Russia investigation. Obviously focused last week on the devastating shooting here in Washington. Republicans have used all of that news as cover to try to move a bill to the Senate floor that is deeply unpopular. The polling suggests only about 10 percent or 20 percent of Americans support.
So, you know, we do want to wake the constituents of our Republican colleagues up so that they can start flooding their offices with calls to tell them to stop it.
MURPHY: Don't do something that's going to be this damaging.
CAMEROTA: But, Senator, listen, if somehow today Republicans came to you and said OK, you win, we're going to work with you, we're going to find some consensus to fix Obamacare, what's the first thing you do?
MURPHY: Well, I think it's there. Right? I mean, so we want the Trump administration to stop sabotaging the Affordable Health Care Act. I mean, that's what Trump is doing right now. He's refusing to pay insurers. He won't advertise for it. He's not enforcing the individual mandates. So, you know, we need some legislation that stops the Trump administration from sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.
CAMEROTA: OK. But before the Trump -- so you're saying it was just fine before the Trump administration was doing this? Because lots of people felt that it was broken.
MURPHY: No. There were certainly issues. But let's remember, before Trump took office we were on pace to have record enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. That enrollment dropped off a cliff once Donald Trump was sworn into office. So no, the prices are high, drug companies are getting away with murder. But we could sit down and talk about all of that.
The fact of the matter is Republicans haven't even tried. From the beginning they locked themselves in a room and shut out Democrats and all of our constituent constituents. And by the way, that's not what Democrats did in 2009. Ultimately Democrats did pass a bill that didn't have Republican support but they spent an exhaustive amount of time in 2009 trying to bring the Republican to the table. The Republicans didn't even try this time. They are doing this in a blindly partisan way.
CAMEROTA: You know, Senator, I want to move on because I want to talk to you about some breaking news that we had yesterday on this show, and that was that the U.S. Navy, a jet, has shot down a Syrian warplane. And that caused quite a strong reaction from Russia, in fact a threat that I will read to you.
"From now on in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any airborne objects found west of Euphrates River tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense will be considered air targets."
How do you interpret what Russia is telling the U.S.? MURPHY: Well, I think you have to put the shooting down of this jet
in context. In the last 45 days we have had at least four engagements that we know about between U.S. military forces inside Syria and the Syrian regime, elements of the Syrian regime that are supported by Iran and Russia.
This is a dangerous escalation. It's unauthorized. There's no authorization for military force that Congress has passed that gives the president the ability to take military action against the Syrian regime. And we have to understand what we're getting involved in, right.
[07:45:07] You are not just fighting Bashar al-Assad. If you're going to ramp up military activity against Assad, you are also going in against Iran and Russia.
I think that we are getting closer and closer to open conflict with Iran and Russia, and the American public needs to know that we are moving very fast towards what could be another war inside the Middle East. Something, by the way, that Donald Trump promised he wouldn't do when he ran for office.
CAMEROTA: I mean, you tweeted that you consider this a red alert that you're trying to alert the American public about this. It sounds quite ominous the way you phrased it. Would you authorize that military force against the Assad regime?
MURPHY: I would not. I would not. I mean, ultimately we need to be at war with ISIS. We need to be fighting this terrorist group. I certainly would authorize military force against ISIS with the proper constraints around it but the United States should stay out of the Syrian civil war. It is not in our interest to get involved in the civil war and put in U.S. military forces to fight Bashar al-Assad. That would be another mistake on the scope of the Iraq war. That's not something that my constituents support.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much for all of the information. Nice to talk to you.
MURPHY: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Some weather news for you. Strong storms tear through the northeast and a tropical storm threatens the Gulf Coast.
Chad Myers has the forecast next.
CUOMO: Fast moving violent storms moving through the northeast. This time lapse video showing dark clouds and heavy rain sweeping across New York City. Meantime, a tropical storm threatening the Gulf Coast.
CNN's meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.
One of the most beautiful rainbows I have seen in some time was outlining Manhattan last night.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, finally a little sign that says the rain is over. And boy, it was heavy rain yesterday across parts of the northeast. There was wind damage all over the place.
[07:50:33] MYERS: Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, very good. Thank you for that warning, Chad.
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain calls Otto Warmbier's death a case of murder. So what will the U.S. response be? Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden discusses the big picture with us next.
CUOMO: President Trump and lawmakers are condemning North Korea for the death of American student Otto Warmbier. He was held captive for 17 months. He went to North Korea and tried to steal a propaganda poster. He was eventually returned to the U.S. but he was in a coma.
In a statement, Senator John McCain made his thoughts on the death clear, saying, quote, "Let us state the facts plainly. Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime."
If that's true, how will the U.S. respond?
Let's bring in CNN national security analyst and the former director of CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden.
[07:55:04] General, thank you for being with us.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good morning.
CUOMO: The premise here needs some definition. We've had people held in countries by different despots before. But if Otto Warmbier's death is judged a homicide caused by the actions of man, that would be put squarely at the feet of North Korea. Does that change the analysis?
HAYDEN: Well, it gives us an additional tool that we might want to use in order to put additional pressure on the North Korean regime.
Recall, Chris, that we did indict members of the People's Liberation Army for cyberattacks against the United States. Now that had no practical effect. But the symbolic effect I thought was quite clear and strong.
We might want to put this particular action on the part of the North Korean regime in the law enforcement track as just an additional tool that we have to up the pressure on the North Koreans.
CAMEROTA: But, General, isn't this -- I mean, General, isn't this problem? No practical effect? I mean, what are the options? And I know it's always dicey obviously dealing with North Korea so what can the president do?
HAYDEN: There are very few options. And if there were good options, this would have been done already. Look, this is a pathetic, pathological, little gangster regime that fundamentally survives on criminal activity in order to bring in hard currency. Now there are fissures in the regime. Although we've made it our declaratory policy this is not about regime change, but we could increase pressure on them.
Kim has got to deliver goods and services to the North Korean elite. Luxury goods and services. And so the pressure we could bring to bear to make that even more difficult for him I think actually gets his attention.
Recall in the Bush administration, when we put sanctions on a bank in Macau, thought it would be an irritant to the North Korean regime. It turns out it looks like we're strangling an artery because that was the bank to which they were laundering money that brought luxury goods in to North Korean elite. So we might want to look for pressure points like that.
But, Alisyn, you have it right. If this were easy or obvious, we'd have done it already. Our tools here are limited.
CUOMO: Well, part of the scrutiny here is that President Trump criticized the Obama administration for being weak and said he would be strong and he pointed to North Korea specifically for who would be the recipient of a more muscular policy.
Now what do you think he needs to do to own that right now?
HAYDEN: Chris, if it were easy, it would have been done. You know, your predecessors don't have to be incompetent or lazy or weak to have an ugly situation. That's easy campaign talk, but once you get into the office, reality sets in and you find that your tools are really quite limited.
Now look, I think the president and his administration has done a pretty good job amping up the pressure on the North Koreans. A little demonstration of American military power, a little pressure on the Chinese, an awful lot of rhetoric and strong words.
I think that's all good and frankly a bit of an improvement over the Obama administration, but it's not a magic elixir. It's not going to make this problem go away. It simply increases the cost on the North Korean regime.
CAMEROTA: General, I want to ask you about something that Senator Chris Murphy, whom we just had on, talked about. He is quite concerned that there is a kind of quiet escalation going on in between the U.S. and Russia right now, particularly in the skies over Syria. And in fact, you know that there is now tension whereby the U.S. shot down this Syrian jet, because they say that it bombed the wrong target, and Russia says, well, guess what, we're going to stop cooperating with the U.S. now in the skies. How do you see it? HAYDEN: Yes, a sense of alarm I think is warranted, although I think
some of his policy suggestions I would not support. Look, what's happening here, guys, is that we actually had kind of two wars going on in Syria. We were fighting this one against ISIS and we tried to keep it tactically and geographically separate from the one over here which was the regime supported by the Iranians and the Russians against the Syrian opposition forces.
We've done very well against ISIS. The regime's done reasonably well against the opposition. And now that regime war is geographically and strategically moving into our operational space and our war against is. That was strategically inevitable. Probably hastened by the Trump administration's I think wise policy of moving the temple of operations against ISIS up.
But this was inevitable and now we're seeing these two wars intermix and, let me be candid, guys, I don't think we have a strategy for how we want to handle this. What we did on Sunday was force protection. They were attacking forces loyal to us.