Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

President Trump's Revised Travel Ban to Take Effect; U.S. Military Provides Trump with Options to Engage North Korea; Trump is Criticized for Lack of Action against Russian Election Interference; Interview with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2017 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, June 29th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Clarissa Ward by my side. Good to have you.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.

CUOMO: Up first, President Trump's revised travel ban set to take effect tonight. Now, it comes with a series of new guidelines for visas to enter the U.S., but there isn't a lot of questions about exactly who will get in, who won't, and why.

WARD: This as CNN learns several members of the Trump administration are struggling to convince President Trump of the threat Russia poses to the United States. Why won't the president take action against Russian hacks? Well, we have it all covered.

Let's begin, though, with CNN's Laura Jarrett. She is live in Washington. Laura, tell us the latest about this travel ban?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, after months of winding its way through the courts, portions of President Trump's revised travel ban will finally go into effect later tonight. This, of course, after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold parts of the ban earlier this week, finding that people from six Muslim majority nations must prove a bona fide tie to a person or entity in the U.S. And this morning we're learning more about how exactly the government is defining these important relationships.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: The Trump administration issuing new guidelines for visa applicants from six Muslim majority countries impacted by President Trump's travel ban. A senior administration official telling CNN that applicants must prove their relationship with a parent, spouse, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or a sibling already in the U.S. to be eligible. Other extended family members including grandparents and eastern fiances, left off the list. Any applicant unable to demonstrate this close relationship traveling from those six countries will be banned for 90 days. The State Department criteria sent to all embassies and consulates

late Wednesday, also applies to all refugees currently awaiting approval for admission to the U.S. Visas that have already approved will not be revoked, but immigration advocates worry that we could see chaos again at airports, like these protests in January when the president's first travel ban went into effect. This as the U.S. agency tightens aviation security for overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat.

JARRETT: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announcing new measures that will include greater scrutiny of passengers, canines that detect explosive, and enhanced screening of electronic devices. The DHS choosing not to implement an all-out laptop ban but leaving the option on the table.

KELLY: Make no mistake, our enemies are constantly finding new methods for disguising explosive, recruiting insiders, and hijacking aircraft.

JARRETT: Secretary Kelly warning that there will be consequences if airlines refuse to comply.

KELLY: Those who choose not to cooperate could be subject to other restrictions, including a ban on electronic devices on aircraft, or even a suspension of their flights into the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: Secretary Kelly refused to detail all of the new requirements for security reasons, noting that the screening guidelines will be both seen and unseen and phase in over time. The travel ban guidelines, on the other hand, will go into effect at 8:00 p.m. tonight, Chris.

CUOMO: Exactly what they'll mean, who will get out, what happens if you don't agree with the determination, that all remains to be sussed out. There's a lot to discuss. Laura, thank you very much.

President Trump is under scrutiny for how he is managing threats posed by other countries. Sources tell CNN the president's advisers are struggling to convince him of the threat that Russia still poses, and why he hasn't taken a harder line against the Kremlin.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. It does seem that every time the president hears the words "Russia investigation," he thinks, bad for me.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That certainly does seem to be the case, Chris. Look, last night we had the first Trump campaign fundraiser in Washington, D.C., with some really interesting optics. The president, five months into his first term, already preparing to participate in the competitive American democratic process at the highest level while there's still this threat of Russia out there. And his senior administration aides are telling us they're having a very difficult time convincing the president to take the threat seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: President Trump's top administration officials frustrated that the president has taken no public steps to punish Russia for its election interference as Trump chooses instead to fault his predecessor.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it.

[08:05:00] JOHNS: Multiple senior administration officials telling CNN there is little evidence that the president is devoting his time or attention to the very real cyber threat despite warnings from his own intelligence officials.

KELLY: This is the wave of the future. We have an election coming up in 18 months. We have to protect this, or we're not a real democracy anymore if we don't watch out.

JOHNS: NSA Director Mike Rogers expressing concern in a recent closed-door briefing about his inability to convince the president to accept that Russia meddled in the election according to a congressional source familiar with the meeting.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLGIENCE CMTE: If this president won't acknowledge what happened in his own election, what hope do we have he will speak out when they do this again?

JOHNS: Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting that the president is taking the Russian cyber threat seriously, saying the United States continues to combat on a regular basis malicious cyber activity and will continue to do so without bragging to the media or defending itself against unfair media criticism.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley telling a Congressional committee Wednesday she has not discussed this pressing national security issue with the president or her Russian counterparts.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS.: What would you want me to say to them? I'm at the U.N. We're working on international issues.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: The Russians are at the United Nations. Have you received any instructions at all with respect to their meddling in our elections, like, don't talk about that, Ambassador Haley?

HALEY: It hasn't come up.

JOHNS: The president's muted interest in Russian hacks standing in stark contrast to the collusion investigation which has consumed his attention.

TRUMP: There's been no collusion, no obstruction.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There's been comments, public comments, that suggest that there's been no overwhelming evidence to suggest there was collusion. It's not for me to judge before we end. I can only address it as a milestone of what we know as up of today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And new this morning, we're getting word that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Germany next week at G-20 summit. What we don't know is the extent to which President Trump and Russian president Putin will have an opportunity to talk substantive issues at that very same summit. Clarissa, back to you.

WARD: OK, Joe, just as you're saying that we're getting some news in from Reuters, who are reporting that, in fact, President Putin and President Trump will meet on the sidelines of the G-20. No word yet, though, if there will be a more substantive bilateral meeting. That is from Reuters according to the Kremlin. CNN has not independently confirmed that yet, but it looks like potentially there may be a meeting on the sidelines. Joe Johns, thank you so much.

Going from one international threat to another international threat, the Pentagon is preparing options on North Korea for President Trump. Two U.S. military officials tell CNN the revised options include a military response and that they will be presented to the president if, and it's a big if, Pyongyang takes another provocative action.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon with more. Barbara what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Clarissa. Defense secretary James Mattis continuing to say that war with North Korea would be a disaster. But, indeed, military options have been updated because of the concern that North Korea is making fast progress in its ballistic missile and nuclear warhead test program. And the red line essentially has always been that North Korea would not be allowed to have a weapon that could potentially attack the United States. Now, yesterday the national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, laid it out in public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The threat is much more immediate now. And so it's clear that we can't repeat the same approach, failed approach of the past. And there's a recognition that there has to be more pressure on the regime, and I think what you'll see in coming days and weeks are efforts to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Efforts of diplomacy. You can readily assume the U.S. military always has options for North Korea. So what is different now? Well, U.S. officials are saying that the North Koreans are also making rapid progress in disguising their weapons testing program, making it much more difficult for the U.S. to keep track of it and to be able to predict when they may make a move with their testing that would be so provocative that commanders would have to go to the White House and ask the president if he wanted to exercise a military option to do something about all of this. Clarissa, Chris?

CUOMO: Very similar dynamic, Barbara, with what is going to happen in Syria. We need a plan there as well presented to Congress, hopefully voted on. Thank you very much, Barbara.

Let's bring in the panel and discuss these big events that are going on, CNN political analyst David Gregory, CNN legal analyst Laura Coates, and Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the "Associated Press." It's good to have you all.

[08:10:08] Laura Coates, let's dispense with one main issue that deals with the travel ban. That is, the unknown bona fide connections, bona fide relationships. This is a soft standard. The court spent 16 pages, uncharacteristically long, going through its in curiam (ph), its full court reckoning of this case, but that standard seems it's going to beg for more litigation.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Of course it will. They gave examples of what they considered to be close family member, but they also left very much room for bureaucracies, including the State Department, to say what they believe the explicit definition of a close family member would be. And of course it boggles the mind on some of the people left out. Grandparents, for example, can come in -- cannot come in. Stepsisters and brothers can come in. So you have the mind-boggling aspect of that.

But remember, this is kind of separation of powers at work. What the court is saying we have not dealt with the constitutionality of this issue. That is going to come in October. You want us to give you some guidance right now on how you want to legislate and how you want to do this at this point in time, go ahead. But knowing full well, Chris, that they know that this issue invites not just a little more litigation but a ton of more litigation as people scramble to figure whether there is consistent application of how these standards work.

And remember, the Supreme Court, their job is to figure out normally how to reconcile all the different confusion across the country to have one solid standard. By not giving a precise definition that was all-encompassing at the get-go, you invite people to allow the court to say, look, come October, here are the things we need to grapple with now, in addition to the constitutionality of this.

WARD: David, the president obviously taking a lot of heat for this perceived inaction on the threat coming from Russia on the hacking, on the meddling with the electoral process. Now we're hearing -- and I should say haven't confirmed it. Reuters is reporting that the Kremlin saying that President Trump and President Putin will meet on the sidelines of the G-20. What are they going to discuss? What does President Trump need to get out of this?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, for one thing, they'll talk about Syria, I'm sure, because this has been a pressing issue between them. This will be the first time that they would meet, so there would be a host of issues they would talk about.

I would hope that the president and his team would find a way to put the issue of the election on the agenda in a way that really is his higher duty. This is not about what happened in 2016 and whether it had an impact on our election. There's no evidence it did have an impact on the outcome of Donald Trump becoming president. So it's bigger than that.

Is it an attempt by Russia to interfere, to wreak havoc in our electoral system and our democracy, to spread fake stories which the president seems so concerned about? And even if he was the beneficiary of that, he has got a higher duty to really send a message, and more than just a message to Russia, that this cannot continue in the future.

To what extent the administration is picking up on covert actions put in place by the Obama administration that have been reported? We don't know the answer to that, we may never know. And if there's things that are being done to punish Russia, that's a good thing, even if we don't know about them. But they'll be a lot of pressure I think on the president to really lay down a marker with Putin and try to speak more broadly about the institution that he has sworn to protect.

CUOMO: Julie, they've got a lot to cover and none of it's going to be comfortable. Look at what's going on in Syria, Russia heavy hand there, latest video of Assad getting in that fighter jet. Who's right next to him? A Russian general. And this question hanging over the head of the president and, frankly, Congress as well is, this tough talk is great, but does the president have the authority to make good on this tough talk? Doesn't he have to ask for legal authority at this point, or do you think Syria fits under the authorization of use of military force from 2001 anticipating a war against terror and Al Qaeda?

JULIE PACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, this has been a controversial point of discussion in the national security community through the Obama administration as well when President Obama was discussing potentially launching strikes against Syria and obviously pulled back there.

Look, there are some people on Capitol Hill who feel very strongly that for the president to take military action, he has to get authority from lawmakers. There are others in the national security community who say that these broad orders that were laid out after 9/11 to cover things like attacks on ISIS. But we're in this complicated situation in Syria right now where you have not really an overarching plan for the U.S. strategy but essentially a series of one-offs. You saw the action earlier this year. You saw the threat of more action, but there is no overarching plan. And that's where I think you're going to see lawmakers start to get increasingly frustrated, start to push on the administration and start to say, look, we have to exert our authority.

[08:15:06] And if you really look at this broadly beyond just the individual incidents that come up, this is just a question about the balance of powers and what role the legislative branch has in national security. It's quite an important discussion that actually gets lost sometimes in the urgent development overseas.

CUOMO: Right. No, it's an important question. And also, you know, it speaks to the urgency of that issue of what's happening on the ground in Syria and what it requires. And I got to tell you, you're a great panel, but none of you as strong as the person I'm sitting right next to right now.

I mean, Clarissa, you've been on the ground there. And this idea of, well, how bad is it? What does it demand from those who have a full heart around the world? And what are the expectations of the people on the ground there for help?

WARD: I think the main issue that you're going to see with regards to Syria, the main complication is this kind of dual-pronged approach that the U.S. is trying to embark upon, where ISIS is the priority, but we also really don't like President Assad. We don't want to see him using chemical weapons.

Of course, President Assad is a huge problem. He has killed hundreds of thousands of people. He is responsible at least partially for the rise and creation of ISIS. So, it is a very serious problem, but what the U.S. is running up against as we try to fight against ISIS and we're using proxies on the ground who are in a de facto allegiance with President Assad, you get into really murky territory.

You take a city like Raqqa from ISIS, then what happens? What comes in its place? Does it go to President Assad and his forces?

So, a lot of swirling questions here. Very difficult to have any easy answers to them, but no sign so far that this White House has really articulated a thoughtful, meaningful and coherent Syria strategy. And I should says, this isn't a knock on this White House -- President Obama's strategy was not coherent either.

So, anyway, sorry for dominating that at the end there. Thank you very much to our all-star panel. We appreciate your perspective, as always.

And coming up, a former diplomat slamming President Trump and President Obama for their handling of the Russia hacks. We will get perspective from the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. We're going to talk Syria as well. He is leading one of the Russia investigations. That's when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:21:01] WARD: Sources tell CNN that the president's advisers are struggling to convince him of the threat Russia poses as former NATO Ambassador Nicholas Burns slammed the president's response to Russia's election interference in testimony before the Senate. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: It is his duty, President Trump's, to be skeptical of Russia. It's his duty to investigate and defend our country against a cyber offensive, because Russia's our most dangerous adversary in the world today. And if he continues to refuse to act, it's a dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: This as Reuters is reporting that the Kremlin says Vladimir Putin and President Trump will meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit next week.

Well, joining us now to discuss this is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Let's start out with this news that President Trump and President Putin it looks like will meet on the sidelines of the G-20. What are they going to discuss? And also, if I could ask you to respond to Ambassador Burns there saying he views Russia as the number one threat to the U.S.?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, first of all, I think Nick Burns is absolutely right the president has an obligation to defend the country against the threat that Russia poses.

You know, there is the most immediate threat in terms of potential military confrontation I think with North Korea. But in terms of the biggest long-term threat to our democracy, indeed democracy around the world, that does come from Russia.

And I can tell you what I think the president ought to be doing at that meeting on the sidelines -- not that I have much confidence he will -- is he needs to confront Russia over its interference in our election and Russia's interference in the elections of other democratic nations. He needs to make it plain that this will not be tolerated and he will face heavier sanctions as a result. He also I think needs to confront Russia over its continuing meddling in the Ukraine and its continued possession of Ukrainian territory in Crimea, and make it plain that we are not going to work in common cause with Russia in propping up someone who is effectively a war criminal in Damascus.

So, these I think are three of the very important points to raise. But I'll say one of the things that go beyond what Nick Burns just said in that excerpt, and that is the president also has a responsibility to our country to inform the American people of what has happened in terms of Russian interference in our affairs and to work on taking steps domestically to prepare the public for the next Russian interference, to prepare our elections infrastructure and personnel. And none of which he is doing.

CUOMO: So, let's talk about why, Congressman. It's Chris Cuomo here joining Clarissa.

And it seems pretty clear from everything that the president puts out that he doesn't take it seriously, because he believes that you have turned it into a witch hunt, that all you're using it for is -- a kind of goose chase, of trying to find things on him and his people, and you found nothing and it's time to end that part of the probe. And then, maybe, he would focus on what is real about the Russian interference.

What do you make of that notion?

SCHIFF: Well, of course, anything that the president finds detracts from him or is critical of him or is a negative news story about him is all fake. It's all a witch hunt. Everybody's out to get him.

I'm continually astounded by the degree to which the president of the United States paints himself as a victim of everything and indeed paints the United States of America as a victim of the rest of the world rather than the strongest power in the world. Obviously, there are very good reasons to investigate what Russia did and to determine whether U.S. persons were involved.

But you're absolutely right. I think the president can't come to grips with the Russian intervention in our affairs because he views it as a threat to his legitimacy, but he has a job to do as president of the United States.

[08:25:04] And that requires him to rise above his own naked self- interests and think about the country, something he has demonstrated little capacity to do.

Our country is depending on our commander-in-chief to push back hard against Russian adventurism, Russian intervention, Russian efforts to diminish democracy and human rights, and he is not living up to that responsibility and we need him to.

WARD: Congressman, another topic I know is close to your heart is Syria, which obviously is a deeply complex conflict. The Obama administration was attacked for not having a coherent policy on it. The Trump administration is now being attacked for not having a coherent policy on it.

What would you like to see happen with regards to President Bashar al Assad and his regime primarily? And subsequently, does that require a kind of revamping of military authorization? Does Congress need to have a role in this?

SCHIFF: Absolutely, and, Clarissa, you may know for years I've worked on a new authorization to use force and introduced a number of different iterations to make that happen. There is nothing in the existing authorizations that would give the president the power to go against the regime.

The regime is not ISIS. It's not al Qaeda. It's not anyone responsible for 9/11. It's not Saddam Hussein. Those were the basis of our, at least al Qaeda and those responsible for 9/11, are the basis of that original authorization. So, he can't rely on that.

And I think particularly here where he effectively has advance notice that the Syrians may use chemical weapons again, the case to act on his own without congressional approval is even weaker than the first time and it was weak then.

But nonetheless, Congress is complicit in this and nothing is preventing us from taking up this debate, from having a vote on a new authorization, and we ought to do that without any delay. So, I think this is --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But, you guys have been uncharacteristically quiet about this. This is true you could argue towards the end of the Bush administration, certainly, all of the Obama administration and now, there's a continuation of it, which is, Congress abdicating its constitutionality to declare war because you guys don't want to own the consequences. So, you just let the presidents do whatever they want to do.

And the proof we saw most recently, Congressman, where the applause that the president, President Trump, got from Congress for bombing that airport in Syria. He got applauded for it.

Why applaud it if there was no legal basis for it?

SCHIFF: Chris, I think you're absolutely right. Congress has been derelict in its responsibility.

I will say this, though. There have been some of us, myself, Tim Kaine, Jeff Flake and a few others, who have been sounding alarm about this for years. I've authored amendments on the House floor to defund actions without a new authorization. I've introduced bills. I've called for hearings on them, as has Tim Kaine.

So, there have been a small group of us who have been very loud about this, but we have gained little or no traction and that has got to change, because I think you're absolutely right. It's a complete dereliction.

There were also several of us after the first strike who made the argument that the ethical grounds, I think, to stand up to Assad when he's using chemical weapons is quite compelling.

CUOMO: Sure.

SCHIFF: But the legal grounds is not, and we needed an authorization for that strike. We need an authorization for any future strike -- particularly here, Chris, where you have the president threatening grave consequences and clearly that means an escalation from the first military action, which was in and of itself quite substantial.

And the longer the potential duration, the more that American troops may be threatened, the more powerful the case for why it can't be done in the absence of congressional authorization. CUOMO: All right. Congressman, thank you very much. Appreciate you

addressing these issues on NEW DAY as always.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, Senate Republicans are dealing with their health care plan. They're scrambling right now. They delayed their vote but the question is, can they get a deal done by tomorrow? Practically. We're going to ask a Republican senator, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)