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GOP Operative Sought Clinton E-mails from Hackers; Interview with Representative Mark Sanford; Republicans Voters OK With President Trump's Tweets; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get straight to our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, with more.

This is about someone who most Americans have probably never heard of before today.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, that's right, Poppy. Most Americans have not. And this came to light from an interview that "The Wall Street Journal" did with Peter Smith. He's a research -- Republican, sort of operative research guy. He was conducting his own research, opposition research into Hillary Clinton, and in a story in the interview to "The Wall Street Journal," he claims that he had reason to believe that Russian hackers had access to her e-mails from her private server, which, obviously, was the focus of a huge FBI investigation.

The other interesting thing that has come to light, and this is according to this opposition researcher, Peter Smith, who has since died, that he was in touched with Michael Flynn and was sort of -- gave indications that maybe somehow Michael Flynn was working with him. Obviously, the Trump campaign has denied it. And Michael Flynn has not commented on the story.

The other thing that's interesting here, Poppy, is that FBI, during their investigation did not find any indications that hackers actually got into the servers.

HARLOW: Right. That they were actually successful. The argument was that it was vulnerable, but there was no proof that they had accessed it.

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right. So this notion that the story refers to this researcher talking to hackers, Russian hackers, about these e-mails existing, it's sort of not really backed up right now by the FBI or any other investigators that certainly we have talked to.

HARLOW: So another interesting development on another front, but similar a similar thread in the Russian investigation. Susan Rice, former National Security adviser under President Obama, will, indeed, we've learned, testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

The backstory to this, the top ranking Republican on that committee, Devin Nunes, went after her for unmasking claims.


HARLOW: She's going to talk. What else do you know?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So we don't -- you know, Susan Rice refused to appear before the committee.

HARLOW: Right.

PROKUPECZ: We're not told that she is going to appear. It's going to be a closed door session. So undoubtedly she probably will be talking about what she learned. A lot is classified information. She will probably go into some detail about what she knew about certainly Michael Flynn. But what we don't know is if she was actually involved in the unmasking, or if there was even any need to unmask Michael Flynn's information and some of the intelligence that they learned.

You know, this has been the focus of the Republicans on the Hill, certainly on the House side. They have been very interested in this unmasking and who released and who revealed Michael Flynn's name.

But keep in mind, you know, we believe that the investigation may not have -- even needed for his name to be unmasked because the way the U.S. government learned of his name may not have required that. So --

HARLOW: All right. But again a closed door hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee with Susan Rice.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

HARLOW: Thank you very much. Great reporting. We appreciate it.

This morning President Trump has some advice for his Republican colleagues in the Senate. If their plans to repeal and replace Obamacare falls through, the president suggests repeal immediately and then replace at a later date.

For now, the Senate health care debate is somewhat at a standstill. They are not going to have an agreement they believe heading into the July 4th holiday.

Joining me now to talk about all this, Republican Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: It's nice to have you. So the president has some advice for the Republicans in the Senate this morning. And it is, if Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date. Do you like that idea?

SANFORD: I happen to be partial to repeal and replace, and over something to repeal. But in fairness to the president, what he's getting at, I think, at first glance, it sounds like it has some level of political currency because multiple times members of the House and Senate in the Republican side voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And this case is simply calling them out on it and saying, OK, you voted multiple times to do so.

But, I think in politics, it's a lot harder to take something away than it is to add. And fundamentally, you'd be back to the same conundrum, which his OK, what are you going to do with pre-existing condition?

HARLOW: Well, wouldn't you be in a --

SANFORD: What are you going to do to --

HARLOW: Wouldn't you be in a much more difficult conundrum, Congressman? Because you wouldn't just need 51 votes, you'd need 60 votes if you wait too long to get this -- you'd need Chuck Schumer and the Democrats on board. I mean, is that a smart political --

SANFORD: Yes, but the holdup right now is on the Republican side --

HARLOW: Right.

SANFORD: So I think there's some level of let me see how serious you were about the votes in the last seven years --


SANFORD: -- is what the president is getting at.

HARLOW: All right.

SANFORD: My point, I guess is, you've got to replace this with something given how vital health care is to people's lives. I don't think you want to have a lot of uncertainty for an extended period of time.

[10:35:04] HARLOW: Well, I mean, we actually know what it would do or have the best indication of what it would mean because the nonpartisan CBO assessed it not that long ago back in January. And they said if you repeal without an immediate replace, you are immediately left with 18 million Americans without health insurance. Would that not be politically detrimental to people who supported that?

SANFORD: Well, even on the replace plan, I mean, you're looking at similar numbers. I think that some of those numbers are slightly inflated based on the fact that, you know, the way they scored it is if you have a plan that offers less than what the current plan offers in the way of essential benefits, it's counted as not having coverage. So we could dispute some of those numbers. But I would cede the point which is to say in either case, there is absolutely an adjustment period, but I don't know that it's that much different than what you see with some of the replacement plan.

HARLOW: Let me get your take on if your opinion has changed since April. Because you wrote an op-ed in "TIME" magazine. And here's part of it -- because it is clear you thought Congress was moving too fast. You write, "Give this debate the time it deserves. I'm not a wine drinker, but they say great bottles of wine need aging and health care represents a most precious bottle for Americans."

Should Congress, sir, slow down?

SANFORD: Well, it has.


SANFORD: I think that's the reality of having a plan that was supposedly going to be maybe announced today. And they've got -- not gotten to the votes. So I mean I think what you're seeing, what we're all witnessing is the sausage making process in place where people go back and forth.

What I do believe is ultimately you're going to have to get Democratic votes on this thing. That, you know, the idea of jamming stuff through reconciliation process where you can do it essentially just with Republican votes, I think that those waters have been exhausted. And it's going to be important to go back to the drawing board and say we can't do it as Pelosi did and others at the time the Affordable Care Act was put in place. Both extremes probably have minuses that go with them. Let's approach this in a more bipartisan way and come up with a plan that works.

HARLOW: All right. So your take is clear, get Democrats on board with this. Don't do it just as a Republican Party.

Before you go, I need you to weigh in on the president's decision to make official statements, attacking television news hosts, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, attacking Mika Brzezinski specifically for her appearance and her intelligence. Is that the behavior the presidential behavior that he promised America, Congressman?

SANFORD: Absolutely not. I don't know that I would call them official statements. Obviously the Twitter, I've said consistently --

HARLOW: That's what the White House told us.


HARLOW: Hold on.

SANFORD: No, no, I actually -- they stand by it. Right.


SANFORD: Right. But my larger point has been put the Twitter away. It is damaging his presidency. It is -- the fact that we're talking about it right now rather than talking about the merits and demerits of what might come next on health care goes to the very heart of the way in which he's hurting himself with these different, you know, 140 character rants on Twitter.

He needs to put it away because it causes House -- members of the House and Senate to talk about something and re-focus on something other than what I think is so important in people's lives, whether that be tied to health care, what comes next on the budget or a whole host of issues that really impact people's lives on a daily basis.

HARLOW: Congressman, you say it damages his presidency. Does it damage America?

SANFORD: Yes. I mean, inasmuch as -- you know, the president of the United States is not only president of the United States, he is, in essence, emissary to the rest of the world on a whole host of different matters. And you know, people -- I have friends around the world and I suspect you have the same. And they e-mail you and they say, what in the world is going on over there?

So I think it does at some level damage credibility when you have what sounds to be a seventh or eighth grade back and forth between different folks. You know, pejorative in tone and in essence dumbing down of what ought to be civil discourse in America. I have said consistently, we have a problem with the dumbing down of civility in the public forum. It will hurt all of us if we don't get this right.

HARLOW: Congressman Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, I appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.

SANFORD: My pleasure.

HARLOW: ISIS is losing the battle in Iraq. Up next, we will take you inside of Mosul as special forces are making what they believe may be the final push to recapture that city.


[10:44:11] HARLOW: A critical meeting taking place right now at the White House between President Trump and South Korea's newly elected president, Moon Jae-in. You see him just moments ago pulling up to the White House.

He has just begun this meeting with President Trump who is greeting him there, in the Oval Office. These two leaders are essential to one another when it comes to combating North Korea, but they have very different views on how to do exactly that. Can they hash it out in the meeting today.

We're going to show you this video that we just got from inside the White House of the two leaders there, President Trump and President Moon Jae-in. Watch.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you may say, I'll say something, then you can say and you interpret. OK? Easy fellas. Hey, fellas. Fellas, easy.


TRUMP: Fellas, easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. Stop it. TRUMP: You guys are getting worse. They knocked a table there. All

right. It's actually a very friendly press. Don't let that get you, although we just lost a table.

I want to thank the president of South Korea, President Moon, for being here. We had a great afternoon yesterday. We had a fantastic dinner at the White House, accomplished a lot having to do with our thoughts on North Korea and very much our thoughts on trade.

We are re-negotiating a trade deal right now as we speak with South Korea. And hopefully it will be an equitable deal, it will be a fair deal to both parties. It's been a rough deal for the United States, but I think that it will be much different and it will be good for both parties.

So we are in the process of doing that. We're also in the process of discussing our, frankly, many options. We have many options with respect to North Korea. Thank you very much. President?


TRUMP: The president will speak.

PRES. MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): I would like to thank President Trump, once again, for inviting me to the White House and for his warm welcome.

When I was -- when I won the election last month, President Trump was the first among all foreign leaders to call me and congratulate me.

I believe that was to reconfirm the strength to create of the Korea- U.S. alliance and also President Trump's warm message to the Korean people who have been suffering through political turmoil.

Last night, after dinner with President Trump, we discussed various issues through diverse scope and very honest discussions on issues to include the North Korean nuclear issue and other issues of mutual interest.

It was a great opportunity for us to further the trust and friendship between me and President Trump.

It was also an opportunity for us to reconfirm the fact that United States and Korea are walking together on the same path towards a great alliance.

So I hope that through this meeting today, I hope that our relationship can further develop into a more meaningful and fruitful relationship.

Thank you very much.

TRUMP: What many people don't know is that South Korea is a major trading partner with the United States and we want something that is going to be good for the American worker and I think we'll be able to do that today and I think we'll be able to do many other things. So the relationship is very, very strong and our personal relationship with President Moon, our personal relationship is very, very good. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

HARLOW: A brief joint appearance there between President Trump and President Moon of South Korea after the two have spent about 24 hours together. They talked about what they accomplished at their joint dinner last night. President Trump saying they accomplished a lot on North Korea. They did not get into details considering these two men have very different views on how to deal with Pyongyang. He also said they accomplished a lot on trade. President Moon saying he hopes this evolves into a meaningful and fruitful relationship.

[10:50:09] The exchange began as reporters were coming into the room. You saw there, and President Trump said they knocked over a table. He said easy guys, easy guys. He went on to say, you guys, the press, are getting worse. And most notably neither President Moon nor President Trump took any questions from reporters after that critical meeting. They will appear in the Rose Garden together in just a little bit next hour. You'll see it live right here.

Ahead for us, the president's Twitter habits catching political heat from the left and from the right. But what do voters think? So we asked them. Watch.


JOSH AIKENS, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTED FOR OBAMA IN 2008: Sort of like FDR when he would have fire chats on the radio.

BILL CORTESE JR, WROTE-IN GENERAL MATTIS FOR 2016: I mean, could you imagine JFK tweeting during the Cuban missile crisis? You know, if he tweeted the wrong thing, that could have been, you know, something very different.



HARLOW: President Trump facing bipartisan backlash after a scathing tweet about "Morning Joe" anchors and their intelligence and the female anchor's appearance. But even before that blistering attack, most Americans say not exactly a fan of the president's tweeting.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows 61 percent of Americans think he should stop tweeting from his personal account. But we wanted to hear directly from Republican voters, most of them who voted for President Trump and they want him to keep tweeting. Watch this.


HARLOW: Tweeting. Who likes the president's tweeting? OK. Do you like all of it?

AIKENS: Not all of it, no.

HARLOW: OK. AIKENS: Some of it, I think, he gets caught in the weeds of things

but I do like it.


AIKENS: It's different. It's fresh. It's using the social media or any sort of technology that we have available to us to get right to the people. It's sort of like FDR when he would have fireside chats on the radio. I mean, obviously, it's not to that depth, you have a character went in and all that, but I think it's kind of refreshing to hear directly from him on a daily -- I mean, I come out of the gym and it's 6:00, there he is, tweeting right away.

HARLOW: The White House says these are direct -- you know, these are statements from the president, take them at face value.

[10:55:03] He has talked about being able to communicate directly with people through them. He is not sitting down for many interviews with journalists that are not from friendly networks, if you will. Many objective journalists. Does tweeting replace that adequately?

AIKENS: I don't think 100 percent it replaces it adequately. But I think to a certain extent, a lot of folks that are younger like this. They like hearing from him. I mean, they are on their phones or they're on their computer all day long. Not many people sit and watch television really.

HARLOW: Does he get in his own way with some of his tweets, especially about foreign policy when you're talking about national security issues?

AIKENS: I think there's -- sometimes there's a lack of communication between himself and his administration. He'll tweet something and they'll come out and say something and then he'll tweet completely the opposite.

CORTESE: Some of the tweets are just very petty, I think below the presidency. And I'm always concerned about, you know, diplomacy by Twitter. I'm very concerned about that. Someone who is very clear about not reading briefing books and didn't want to be bothered with the details. Something as detailed and important as international affairs, I want -- you know, I want diplomats, I want the secretary of state handling that.

And it concerns me that we don't know. We live in a very strange world now. We don't know what a tweet from a president that's taken the wrong way can -- where it could go? I mean, could you imagine JFK tweeting during the Cuban missile crisis? You know? If he tweeted the wrong thing that could have done, you know, some very different. So I think it's -- I just think it's kind of below the presidency to sit here and tweet, you know, little things about past elections. Let's move on.

RICHARD ST. PAUL, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, FORMER DEMOCRAT: More Americans are getting their news from tweets, from the -- from social media. It's so important. So here is the president using his ability to get out a message to millions of voters in an unbiased way. Here is what I have to say directly, unbiased without any spin on it. Here's what I have to communicate to the American. And it really is effective.

SCHERIE MURRAY, VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2016, VOTED FOR OBAMA IN 2008 AND 2012: We get to see him for him. I mean, I don't think we've ever seen a president in his own element and like it or hate it, you get a chance to sort of see who the person is.


HARLOW: You do. You see who the person is. Thank you to all of the panelists who spent that time with me this week. You can watch all of our discussions with them on a number of different topics. Just go to

After losing her 8-year-old son to Leukemia, this week's CNN Hero Leslie Morissette transformed her heartbreak into action. Watch.


LESLIE MORISSETTE, 2017 CNN HERO: It's really difficult for kids to spend a lot of time in the hospital. They get so disconnected from their family and friends and schools. And when we bring them this technology, we are able to dial in and be right in the classroom.



MORISSETTE: You can just see their face light right up. It brings them such joy.


HARLOW: It's pretty great. You can watch Leslie's full story. Go to

President Trump set to speak right alongside South Korean President Moon. You'll see that live interview -- not an interview, you'll see that live from the Rose Garden, next. Stay with us.