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Trump Takes Victory Lap at Iowa Rally; Senate GOP to Unveil Health Care Bill Today; Intel Chiefs Tell Investigators Trump Suggested They Refute Collusion with Russians. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a later than the House bill, and defund planned parenthood for one year, which could be a deal breaker for two key Republican senators. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes since no Democrat is expected to support the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made it clear they're not interested in helping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is mean, very mean.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bill is not expected to include the controversial House proposal that would allow states to decide on protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But the Senate may allow for a new set of waivers that could eliminate essential health benefits. There are still details we don't know about the bill that could decide its fate, including when Obamacare taxes will be repealed, how much money will be allocated for high-risk pools and how the Senate will calculate the distribution of tax credits which are expected to be more generous than the House plan. Already some Republicans are expressing frustrations.
RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: I can't imagine quite honestly that I have the information to validate and justify a yes vote within just a week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you satisfied with the process being undertaken right now?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Of course not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever the final draft, Senate aides tell CNN Republican leaders want President Trump to stay far away from the negotiations, describing an earlier meeting as, quote, kind of a disaster. The President has not yet endorsed the Senate bill but sounded hopeful at last night's rally in Iowa.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've been talking about a plan with heart. I said add some money to it. A plan with heart, but Obamacare is dead.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Congressional budget office is expected to score it as soon as tomorrow. Then it will follow up with debate from the Senate next week. Now, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants this passed at vote at least by the July 4th recess, really giving very little time for the public or lawmakers to read this registration or even amend it. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right Suzanne, President Trump taking a victory lap at his first campaign rally in months, that's where you saw him speaking in that piece, touting back-to-back Congressional election wins and slamming Democrats and the media. CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it's been seven, almost eight months since Donald Trump had that big election night victory that set him here to the White House. And there was a lot to celebrate last night after Republicans won two congressional seats and special elections just this week. Mr. Trump back in campaign mode at least for a night, leaving the worries of Washington behind him.
TRUMP: All we do is win, win, win. We won last night.
JOHNS: An energized President Trump returning to the environment he loves the most, a campaign rally.
TRUMP: It's always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp --
JOHNS: Going after his favorite targets, the media and Democrats.
TRUMP: And they've been unbelievably nasty, rally nasty. I am making it a little bit hard to get their support, but who cares.
JOHNS: While touting his promised border wall.
TRUMP: We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall. This way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that's good, right?
JOHNS: President Trump rallying his loyal supporters with this immigration proposal.
TRUMP: So seeking admission into our country should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.
JOHNS: A rule that is already the law of the land and reiterating this rather vague concern about China's influence on North Korea.
TRUMP: I do like President Xi. I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China, but that doesn't seem to be working out.
JOHNS: The President also touting his wealthy cabinet picks before making this eyebrow raising statements. TRUMP: They love people, rich or poor. But in those particular
positions I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense?
JOHNS: And only briefly mentioning the Russia investigation hanging over his administration.
TRUMP: They have phony witch hunts going against me.
JOHNS: But President Trump's silent about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, an issue the White House continues to dodge when pressed for the President's position.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing.
JOHNS: A former Homeland Security secretary testifying Tuesday that evidence of Russian meddling is undeniable.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: In 2016 the Russian government at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple.
JOHNS: That testimony from Jeh Johnson coming just hours after Democrats sent a letter to the White House raising serious concerns about the security clearances given to Jared Kushner and fired National Security adviser Michael Flynn.
Alisyn and Chris.
[06:05:04] CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much. Let's bring in our panel to discuss all of it. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory, Jackie Kucinich and John Avlon. Great to see all of you.
David Gregory, in layman's terms and for our viewers, what will, you know, what little we know about this health care bill that's going to be unveiled to other lawmakers at 9:30 this morning, what changes, what does it mean for regular people?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the big question is, in the political context you're going to be about process, about how this is being written and conceived and sold and scored before it's actually voted on. So how much of the substance we actually get to in a public debate I think is a big question. The fundamental policy pieces have to do with how many people are covered, what kind of subsidies are actually received for people who need help to afford health care insurance, and how the legislation affects the market, how the insurance market will actually operate which will ultimately affect premiums.
You have a safety net aspect of it which is going to be changed with regard to Medicaid expansion, with regard to who qualifies for getting the insurance. And again, this will be the subject of debate. But I think the big question will be, when you have an existing entitlement, how many people still get covered? And can people who are trying to figure out the health care process under Obamacare still, are they going to see any relief or continued increases in premiums?
CUOMO: All right, I mean the CBO score is going, once again, set the benchmark for this. But, I can't delay any longer. Play the sound of what Trump said last night to an audience of apparently blue collar people and they applauded this line. I want you to hear it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Somebody said, why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? I said, not it's true. And Wilbur is a very rich person in charge of commerce. I love all people, rich or poor. But, in those particular positions I just don't want a poor person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, first of all, he was not sit just about Wilbur Ross, the magnate about why he became the commerce secretary, or it's about the fact that his cabinet is populated with more rich people that we've ever seen since you had to wear a white wig to walk around in Washington, D.C. We've never seen a group of people like this that have come in. So you, you know, uniformly wealthy after he said he was going to go after Wall Street and that he was going to drain the swamp. And they applauded, John. He says I love all people but I really don't want poor people in these positions.
So I guess, if you are not rich you can't understand economics. You can't be smart enough to make a difference if you're poor because that's probably why you're poor, right? Isn't that the point he's making?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the point he's making. I mean it's that idea --
CUOMO: And they applaud.
AVLON: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, right, you know, there's a great --
CAMEROTA: I'll hear you and then I'll argue with you.
AVLON: No, no, you argue with me first.
CAMEROTA: No, isn't he saying that rich people are proving they're successful? It's the opposite, it's not like, you bad purple (ph), it's oh you, you accomplished, rich people --
CUOMO: It is setting a standard of what produces success. I'm going to tell you, (inaudible) successful pop who never had two nickels to rub together.
CAMEROTA: Right, to Donald Trump you are successful if you are a billionaire.
CUOMO: But look, it wasn't just about commerce, that's an escape, saying Will Ross (ph) who do you want running the economy, someone who can't make money or someone who knows how to make money? But that's not what it is. He only has wealthy people around him and he clearly said, and he's made a distinction of competency here.
AVLON: Absolutely. And his -- look, his conservative populous is based, applaud that, not only in the context of Cedar Rapids. Look, he is restoring the idea wealth equals virtue. He's also saying in a way that resonates to some people comments sensicaly (ph) that, you know, if wealthy person has been economically successful they'll have more insight.
Now, the ultimately insult to the vast majority of Americans trying to grow in wealth and equality doesn't really seem to resonate, right? This isn't something you see on a poster of Abraham Lincoln, you know, I only want rich people, you know, this is not the kind of Presidential rhetoric we've grown up with. But the fact that it's resonating with his base is I think what's troubling, not only because it probably doesn't represent where they are, but because the atmosphere of celebrity, that hot house atmosphere, celebrity round was so strong and the tribal conservative populism is so strong that people are actually not using the normal civic moral filter they would of judgment.
CUOMO: It was all about draining the swamp, that's my only point. I think it's wrong to villainize wealth. That is part of the American dream, is to make your own chance to succeed on your own. But, he's supposed to drain the swamp. He's supposed to go after Wall Street.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, but Jackie, why does rich equal swamp? I mean, you know --
CAMEROTA: Right. When I talked to the old -- the Trump panels, they like the idea that wildly successful, wealthy people will give them some of their secret sauce.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, here's the problem with draining the swamp has nothing to do with the checking accounts of his cabinets.
[06:10:03] It has everything to do with ethics waivers for things that, you know --
CUOMO: Right. And rolling back Dodd-Frank, and the same restrictions that was supposed to protect us. That's the swamp, those are the rules, that's what you said you were going to do. You did the opposite. And how could you not do the opposite when you have the people advising you all benefit from a change like that?
KUCINICH: Well exactly. And a lot of the policies that he's talking about, I mean look at this health care bill, the health care bills that are moving through the Senate right now in the House, these are going to hurt lower income people at the end of the day and, you know, probably a lot of Trump voters. So that is the concern, not his wealthy cabinet. Okay, fine, but the real issue here are, you know, some of the murky ethics that some people who surround him have. It's the policies that aren't true to the people who voted for him. He's not coming through on his promises and evening (ph) the playing field like he said he would.
Now it's very early, but the policies he's endorsing and he's pushing aren't going to accomplish the goals that he promised when he was, you know, on that seat of rapid stamp just a few months ago as a candidate.
CAMEROTA: David here is something else that he promised last night about how he was going to not spend extra money on illegal immigrants from the benefits that they get. It's got a lot of applause, so listen to this and then we'll dissect it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Others don't treat us fairly. That's why I believe the time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: David, when he says the time has come for that, it was actually 1996 he was referring to since that has been in place.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, and it's -- what's unfortunate about the President's emphasis on aspects of immigration is it undercuts a lot of very serious work being done in the Homeland Security department around smart immigration fixes, around trying to meet some of the challenges we face from overseas or from Mexico because he says things that are not accurate or he talks about building a solar wall, priorities that are probably never going to come to pass.
And yet as a political matter, whether it was the previous statement we were just talking about or this, he's out there leading a kind of charge that a lot of people, not just his core supporters think, yeah, it's good, he's agitating, he's fighting for things. We'll see where this all settles out. And this goes back to the kind of, you know, hearing his argument versus taking him literally. There are people who hear what he says literally when he say how can a president say something that is demonstratively untrue that we know is an existing policy that you can't be on welfare for, you know, for five years while you're here. Versus, hey, he's out there saying we've got to change our immigration policy generally which people tend to agree with.
CAMEROTA: Panel, stick around, please. We'll have more questions for you. Thank you very much.
So here's a story you will only see on CNN. The nation's top intelligence officials testifying behind closed doors. So what did they say about President Trump and whether he asked them to do something about possible solution between his campaign and Russia? We have the breaking exclusive details for you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[06:17:16] CAMEROTA: Now to some exclusive CNN reporting. We're learning what two top intelligence officials told special counsel Robert Mueller's team and senate investigators about their interactions with President Trump on Russia. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is live in Washington with all the exclusive new details. Tell us what you've learned Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've gathered from our sources is really the first glimpse of what two top intelligence chiefs said behind closed doors to special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team and to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in separate meetings last week. Now multiple sources are telling me and colleagues Evan Perez and Manu Raju that the director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and National Security agents director Admiral Mike Rogers, said that President Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians in these closed meetings with special prosecutors, and that team and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Both intelligence chiefs we are told described these interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but they said they don't believe the President gave them orders to intervene in the investigation. Now, you may remember that in their public testimony earlier this month both Coats and Rogers said they never felt pressured, but they were reluctant at that point to offer specifics about their interactions with the President until they were in a classified setting. And so the details of what the President said to Coats and Rogers were first reported by "The Washington Post" last month, and this is more information about what they're actually telling investigators.
Ultimately though, Alisyn, it will be up to Mueller and his team to decide whether these revelations are relevant to their investigation. I should say we talked to multiple Democratic and Republican sources for this story, and one of them told us that both Rogers and Coats told members of the intelligence committee that Trump wanted them to say publicly what then FBI director James Comey had told the President privately, that he was not under investigation for collusion, but again, neither thought that the President was asking them to do something they didn't want to do and also they didn't act on the President's suggestion. I should also say CNN reached out to the White House, to the DNI, to the NSA, Mueller's office and nobody wanted to comment.
CUOMO: Dana, important point. Neither felt that the President was asking them to do anything they didn't want to do. What does that mean?
BASH: Well that they didn't feel pressured, that they didn't feel that the President was intervening from their perspective in an untoward or improper way. They thought it was, again, odd. They thought it was certainly not the typical protocol of Washington to have the President of the United States call these two high-level people and ask them to go public with what he thought was going on privately, which is that he wasn't under investigation for collusion. But, again, that's how they felt. It is important to note that the special prosecutor and to a lesser extent the Senate, they are going to determine whether or not what they felt was actually in comportment with the law.
CUOMO: But they got testimony from these two saying they didn't feel they were ordered to do anything --
CUOMO: All right.
CAMEROTA: OK. So stay with us, Dana, if you would, because we want to bring back our panel. We have David Gregory, also joining us former CIA director and former senior advisor to the Trump campaign Ambassador James Woolsey, Mr. Ambassador I'll start with you. What do you think about Dana's reporting that they felt that it was odd and uncomfortable but they didn't necessarily feel pressure, what do you think this rises to the level of?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We don't hire heads of intelligence communities in order for them to avoid feeling uncomfortable. I mean so what. It seems to me this is kind of a normal dialogue back and forth between a President and his senior intelligence people.
CAMEROTA: Is it?
WOOLSEY: Hey, go public with this. Look, he -- the President has already been told three times by Comey that he's not under investigation and probably they were asking people who knew the President questions having to do with the counterintelligence investigation that was going on which is not something that is targeted on an individual. So, I think this is a nothing burger, frankly.
CUOMO: I like the phrase nothing burger. But you did have these two intel chiefs say that they thought it was odd, ambassador, that they thought this was out of the norm. But however, that's about politics and that's about style and appropriateness. But when you're pursuing something about legalities, it matters whether or not they felt pressured. It just does. I'm not saying that it wasn't potentially wrong on some political level. But if they say they didn't feel pressured, what does that mean to an obstruction investigation?
WOOLSEY: I think not much.
CUOMO: Why not much? You have to be pressured --
CUOMO: -- corrupt intent.
WOOLSEY: For there to be an investigation of obstruction of justice, there has to be a crime. You don't just -- vaguely obstructing something without talking about what crime is being -- having the justice of dealing with it obstructed, is silly. It's sort of like a bunch of kids on the playground and one throws a ball up in the air, another one tries to catch it and drops it. And the first one says, hey look, infield fly rule, you're out. And other one says, you know, we're playing soccer.
CUOMO: No I take your point. You're saying that you have to do something more. I'm making the same point, the two intel chiefs saying I didn't feel pressured, maybe this wasn't appropriate, this was weird, I didn't expect them to ask me something like this but I wasn't going to do it and I didn't think he was going to make me do it. I think that matters in terms of an obstruction analysis.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, I mean I guess, although it's subjective. David Gregory, your thoughts on this debate?
GREGORY: Well, I don't think it's nothing. I mean I think it's at the very least highly unusual and inappropriate. That you have a president of the United States who is attempting to interfere with an ongoing investigation by trying to remove this cloud that he says is hanging over him and his administration. And so thinking that it's appropriate, as the President, to interfere with the FBI and Justice Department and then to even put his intelligence chiefs up to clearing his name prematurely, is it naive, is it abusive, is it inappropriate, is it unusual? It's probably all those things. I don't have a determination as to whether it's against the law.
CAMEROTA: But David, when you say interfere, I mean to, you know, James Woolsey's point, if he's expressing his opinion, sure wish that you could say all these publicly, I sure wish you could clear my name, I mean is that interference?
GREGORY: I could express all of that as an analyst on CNN, and that would be interesting maybe, but I'm not the President of the United States. I mean this is someone who's saying -- now, I think what the President's defenders would argue and what the ambassador is saying is, look, he's saying, look, we know this to be true, you're telling me that I'm not being investigated, you're telling me there's no evidence.
I am expressing to you that as a practical matter this is really making it difficult to govern. Will you please go out and say what you know and what I have been told, perhaps not thinking that that's inappropriate or abusive. And again, that will be viewed differently by different people. And again, a separate matter from whether he is obstructing justice.
CUOMO: That's the point that I'm looking at here though. Because you've got to separate the political implications from potential legal implications.
[06:25:04] That's why I'm asking you about how significant it is that these two intel chiefs were saying they didn't feel pressured. You know, you can't look at anything in just one isolated scenario here. The President, for better or worse, depending on your political perspective created a record of -- a pattern of actions here, ambassador. There was what he said about Flynn on February 14th to Comey. It was what he said to these two gentlemen and then it was firing Comey with a little bit of an orchestrated effort involving the Deputy A.G and then Trump revealing it was a little orchestrated effort and saying it was really about Russia. Taken in entirety what do you make of it?
WOOLSEY: Taken in its entirety, three times Comey has told the President he is not under investigation. All right?
CUOMO: But the President was asking him about Flynn, not himself.
WOOLSEY: But they, they talked -- they asked a question also -- this is a complicated dialogue that goes back and forth a lot of ways. But what the President spoke about was he wanted to make -- them to make it clear, somebody would make it clear that he'd already been told by the head of the FBI that he was not under investigation.
WOOLSEY: I think there's nothing wrong with the President saying, hey, can we say that publicly? If his people don't want to say it publicly for some reason, it might reveal something that would lead to some other thing, secret or something. They cannot do it. And these two did not do it. We don't hire, you know, people who are heads of intelligence communities so they will never feel any degree of uncomfortableness. They're not university students or something.
CAMEROTA: That's funny. Dana, your thoughts.
BASH: Well, I was going to say that just in the context of the timeline that you're talking about, our understanding is that these conversations that the President had or shortly after James Comey, was then the FBI director, testified publicly for the first time that the Trump -- that the FBI is indeed and has been since July, investigating whether or not there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia --
CAMEROTA: That's a counterintelligence investigation. It does not have a target or subject --
BASH: But, no, no, no. But that's -- sorry, if you could let me finish, sir, what I was going to say was, just the context was of the President's demeanor. He was not happy that that came out publicly and it was the conversations that he had with these two individuals were shortly after that saying, but wait a second, he told me in private I'm not that subject, can't you just say this publicly? And so that's -- so that is sort of the context of it.
The other thing I want to add is, it was earlier this month that these two individuals went before the senate intelligence committee in public and they were pressed by Democrats, by Republicans, why can't you tell us what happened in these conversations, and they weren't prepared because they had asked the White House whether or not the President was going to invoke executive privilege, and they didn't hear back from the White House. So they were left in a very awkward, very uncomfortable position that cleared up in these classified settings --
CUOMO: Quick final word from the Ambassador -- David -- go ahead Ambassador.
WOOLSEY: This all gets very confused because people are bouncing back and forth between counterintelligence investigations which don't have a subject or target and investigations of criminal behavior, which do. And if you tell the President that he's not under investigation, you may mean all we have going is this counterintelligence investigation, we're talking to a lot of people about a lot of things on that. That does not have a target or subject, it's not the way its run.
But over here there is some -- there are some people maybe that are being investigated for a criminal violation. I don't know who they were, but there may have been one or two people who were being investigated for that. What also would be the case would be that they could -- the questioner could be saying to the President -- or the FBI could be saying to the President, we didn't find anything that suggests, Mr. President, that you are being investigated for a criminal violation as part of our FBI criminal investigation package.
And by hopping back and forth between the two, it gets very confused. The President may have heard that they were not investigating him and thought they were talking about one type of investigation, in fact, they were talking about another.
GREGORY: Let me make a quick final point. I think the Ambassador is parsing this in a way that actually is off point. It doesn't matter whether at that point he was the subject of a criminal investigation. That could change tomorrow. And Jim Comey told him that. The bigger issue here is you have three professionals in the FBI and our intelligence services who were protecting the independence of their work, all of whom felt highly uncomfortable what he was doing. Separate question whether it was illegal, that they felt it was inappropriate.
And it's not OK that these people with their experience feel uncomfortable in this position. That's something that should be looked at and not just dismissed because they --
GREGORY: -- sensitive
WOOLSEY: If their feelings are so sensitive they should perhaps look for other work.
CUOMO: Oh come on it's more than that Ambassador --