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Trump Faces Backlash Over Attack on TV Host; WSJ: GOP Operative Sought Clinton E-mails from Hackers. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm appalled. This is the president of the United States.

[05:57:28] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: When he gets attacked, he's going to hit back.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He has a role to play in uniting the country, and he threw some gasoline on the embers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To refer to a female's face as someone that's involved in politics is just not approved.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: A huge distraction from the real issues at hand.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Susan Rice could have a lot to tell us about Russian intentions, Russian engagement, how Russian active measures work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intelligence reports show Russian hackers talking about ways to find Secretary Clinton's emails and to get them to General Flynn.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, June 30, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Clarissa Ward has been with me this week.

You've been great. Thanks for being with me.


CUOMO: Always a pleasure to have one of the best by my side.

On the starting line, Washington has found a point of agreement, kind of. President Trump's disparaging, sexist tweets about yet another female TV host are beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States. The White House is engulfed in bipartisan outrage from the latest

self-inflicted roadblock, which is preventing the president from moving forward more aggressively with his agenda. White House officials, even a female press secretary, defending the tweets, excusing it as a response to being attacked mercilessly, saying the president is just fighting fire with fire.

WARD: Meanwhile, there is new reporting on Russia's election meddling from the "Wall Street Journal" that says a longtime GOP operative tried to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails from hackers, which implies he had a connection to fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.

And the partial Trump travel ban now in effect, with fiances now making the cut under the administration's definition of, quote, "a bona fide relationship." Travel ban 2.0 already facing a court challenge.

We have it all covered here. But let's start out with CNN's Boris Sanchez. He is live in Washington.

Boris, what are you hearing?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Clarissa.

Yes, the president had a full agenda yesterday, not only with the implementation of the travel ban but also legislation in the House that would crack down on sanctuary cities, something the president championed during the campaign. And of course, the debate over the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

But with a single 51-word tweet sent before 9 a.m. yesterday, the president took the conversation in a very different direction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, do you regret your tweets?

SANCHEZ (voice-over): President Trump silence over growing outrage over his shocking personal attack on MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, calling her crazy and falsely claiming that, when she visited Mar-a- Lago over New Year's, she was, quote, "bleeding badly from a facelift."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's maddeningly frustrating, because this is beneath the dignity of the president of the United States, or at least it should be.

SANCHEZ: The vitriol sparking widespread condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think it's so blatantly sexist.

COLLINS: Frankly, I was stunned by it.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: I'm not going to defend his tweet. It was ugly.

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: Do the job of a president of all the people of this great country and stop, stop the disrespect.

SANCHEZ: But deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quick to defend the president's insults.

SANDERS: The American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart and who's a fighter. I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire.

SANCHEZ: Casting the president of the United States as a victim of the press and insisting that President Trump has never promoted or encouraged violence, despite evidence that proves otherwise.

TRUMP: Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK. Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that.

SANCHEZ: The first lady also condoning her husband's cyber bullying, despite the fact that she said she'd make combating this problem a focus in her time in the White House.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: We have to find a better way to talk to each other.

We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.

SANCHEZ: Her spokesperson writing in a statement, quote, "When her husband gets attacked, he pushes back ten times harder."

The president's outburst the latest in a string of tasteless comments about women. On the campaign trail, he criticized his opponent Carly Fiorina's appearance, retweeted this unflattering picture of Ted Cruz's wife and said this about another female journalist.

D. TRUMP (via phone): She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous question, and you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.


SANCHEZ: One last note, Chris and Clarissa. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 61 percent of Americans think the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. You should note the date on that, June 22 to 27. This poll was taken well before yesterday's tweet storm.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: Hey, look, as we always say on the show, Boris. Can't get enough insight or windows into a president's thinking, what's in his head, what's in his heart. Fine with the tweets. It's what he tweets that should be the concern. Boris, appreciate that roundup. Very good.

Let's bring in our political panel. We've got political analyst David Gregory. We've got "Washington Post" congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian. And White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, Margaret Talev. It is great to have all of you here with us this morning.

David Gregory, a lot of time has been spent diagnosing the president. But isn't it's equally as impressive in the -- in the kind of outpouring of what happened yesterday, what you're hearing from other GOP politicians? You know, to me that really drew my eye yesterday. I'm not surprised by what the president does and says. But how people respond to it, what is ignored and therefore empowered, seems to be increasingly important.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right. I think there could still be more. I mean, I'd like to see Republican leaders like Paul Ryan come out more...

CUOMO: Yes. Especially him.

GREGORY: Right. To say -- you know, he's so uncomfortable when he speaks about it and says, you know, obviously, this isn't helpful to civility in Congress and to our political debates. But he should go farther.

I mean, the reality is that in America, we had Lincoln at Gettysburg, and now we have Trump on Twitter. Same office, same country. Isn't that embarrassing, just embarrassing? And yet this is where we are.

So you know, we have an obligation when we have a president of the United States, unfortunately, who is -- has on numerous occasions expressed misogyny, hatefulness toward women through these kinds of tweets about their personal appearance or other things that he says about them. And who shows himself to be, I think, a person of low character and really of questionable temperament being in the White House. These are serious concerns.

There's plenty of people who still support him who will -- who will find a way to contextualize all of this. But there should be a forceful speaking out against it. Because -- because it's wrong on its face, and then it's so personally self-destructive, and it hurts the country and hurts the agenda.

[06:05:00] And it also, to me, is shocking that there are people within the White House who are willing to kind of check their integrity at the door to defend some of this. But there are, and that's our reality.

So this is who the president of America is, and we'll see what the ramifications are. I mean, I think we've seen kind of a numbness to this where everything can keep on, you know, moving on. But in the middle of trying to use political capital to get health care across the line, for example, it is, in addition to being hideously wrong, really self-destructive from the point of view of working the agenda. WARD: You know, what's interesting has been you heard yesterday from

the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, this idea that he's just defending himself; he's just fighting fire with fire.

And we also have heard recently from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, that he's the victim here. I want to play you some sound from Ivanka Trump. And then when we come out of it, we can talk about this idea of Trump as the victim. Take a listen.


IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: There's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy. I think some of the distractions and some of the -- the ferocity was -- I was a little blind-sided by on a personal level.


WARD: I mean, Karoun, you heard it there: viciousness, distraction. Do you agree with this idea? What do you make of this idea that President Trump is the victim here and not the aggressor?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, you know, when you're the president of the United States, you have to learn to take some criticism, especially when you're governing over what is a divided country politically.

But I think that it's important to note the difference in tone. I mean, when Ivanka was talking, she was saying, "I'm surprised by the viciousness. This is very difficult." But she wasn't lashing out. She was absorbing it as somebody who's a high-profile person has to do. Because that's what you have to expect; you're going to get criticism.

This idea of making it OK that, you know, when the president gets attacked, he's going to hit back ten times harder. I mean, anything that is made as a reasoning that way is not just excusing the president; it's taken an an example. And the idea that we would be OK with, you know, "Oh, if you're challenged, you challenge back ten times harder. You don't try to, say, walk away." Or you know, maybe this is just part of, you know, what it is people are disagreeing with me.

Also, there's a question of is it, you know, apples and oranges? I mean, I was not watching "Morning Joe" that morning or the day before. I do not know.

CUOMO: Good answer, Karoun. Good answer. Good answer.

DEMIRJIAN: But I do -- unless she was talking about something oozing from the president's face, it's not a similar sort of comment that he made to her. She probably was saying something about policy.

CUOMO: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: And he attacked back this way, which is very different.

CUOMO: No, I mean, look -- look, you know, let's call it all what it is. All right? Joe and Mika deserve our respect. They're our colleagues; they're also our competitors. They take a lot of cheap shots that are personal at the president. There's no question about it. That's a different show. This is a news show. That's a commentary show. That's what they do, is they offer opinions. Sometimes it's hyperbolic. It's part of the appeal of their program. And the president doesn't like it.

And there's no question about any of this, Margaret. It becomes about how he responds. You can't compare the most powerful man in the world to us or to a commentator on MSNBC. He has to be above that fray. That's why he's the leader. But when you go at this guy personally as a man, Donald Trump, it doesn't -- it doesn't go anywhere in his head except to make him want to respond. I've seen it my entire life, being around Donald Trump.

And you know who said it best? His friend, Howard Stern. Listen -- let's be reminded of what Howard Stern said about what this atmosphere of negativity and unpopularity, which just comes with being president, would do to Donald Trump. Remember this?


HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I actually think this is something that is going to be very detrimental to his mental health, too, because he wants to be liked. He wants to be loved. He wants people to cheer for him.


STERN: And all of this hatred and stuff directed toward him, it's not good for him. It's not good. And it's -- listen. There's a reason every president who leaves the office has grey hair.


CUOMO: Margaret, I'm not in the -- you know, I'm not in the practice of quoting Howard Stern very often, but it is a meaningful insight here. Nobody likes to be criticized. But you're dealing with somebody who does not have a personal ability to let it go. That's not how Donald Trump works as a man.

The question is, is any part of that going to change with him as president? It seems that the obvious answer is no; and the people around him are going to congratulate him for it, and that's only going to make it worse.

MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, I mean, when you see a response like you did from the podium yesterday, of course what happens is before any press secretary goes out and makes remarks, there are meetings and sort of planning sessions behind the scenes where they try to predict "What are the questions we're going to get today, and what is our collective agreement on what the response is?" Sarah Huckabee Sanders was not speaking off-the-cuff yesterday. This

was the position she was asked to go out and project. And I think the thing to watch is that there's kind of the long view, the cultural implications of should a president be held to a higher standard, or is it the president's role to calm and unite Americans?

But then there's the political reality which is, does this serve President Trump well? And the problem is that when you have Republicans feeling emboldened to separate themselves and speak out against him, it shakes loose that key support that he has. The Republicans in control of Congress are his insurance policy on the Russia investigations, on the explanation for why more legislation hasn't passed, on the agenda. And they are holding hands together heading into these midterms. The more they feel emboldened and are even prompted to separate themselves from him, the shakier that alliance becomes.

GREGORY: But look, we also have -- we have a decision to make as a political class. In the media, Republicans, Democrats, which is how crude do we want politics to go? We're in a media environment that is extremely fractured, and the state of the news media allows for people to go into their own corners and seek information that suits their own world view.

And now you have a president of the United States who exploits that, who's a product of all that, who injects a level of crudeness into national discourse. And this is different. This is -- you know, our children hear this, and we have to explain it to them, as I did to, you know, my daughter on the way to a swim meet yesterday afternoon, and it is embarrassing that the president of the United States expresses himself this way. It is embarrassing that he is so thin- skinned and insecure and self-absorbed that he can't rise above this.

This is why the institution is supposed to matter. The presidency matters. It is not just about him.

And ultimately, it becomes a question of how effective he can be. All Americans are cheering for Donald Trump, because we're cheering for America, because we want to see things that are passed, you know, good legislation passed and for progress for the country on the part of the government.

And what he's doing by being so personally self-destructive -- and you're right, Joe [SIC], are there cheap shots that are taken by Joe and Mika? Absolutely. There is all kinds of criticism.

But to hear Ivanka Trump -- Trump, all respect to her as the daughter -- this is her father after all -- express a kind of naivete about how vicious it was going to be, where does she think this viciousness came from? No. 1, he's president of the United States, so he's going to get, you know, plenty of scrutiny. And he introduced a level of crudeness and viciousness, personal viciousness into the discourse of his campaign and into the running of the country. That's where it came from.

Can we not all see that and agree on that? And if we can't, then you're not being honest with yourself.

CUOMO: And we've been saying from the beginning with this tone change, what you ignore, you empower. And there have been politicians in his party around him from the beginning who have chosen to say, "Well, it's inappropriate, but I'm going to do my job," like Paul Ryan did yesterday, which is not leadership. You're not just there to push an agenda; you're there to lead. And values matter.

And we said all along, when you say it's OK, you're just going to get more of it. That's the way politics has always worked.

WARD: But what we're talking about here, as well, is impulse control. And I just wonder -- and maybe Karoun, you can speak to this -- President Trump is going to be sitting with President Vladimir Putin. You know, we've heard that Russia is the No. 1 adversary. Whatever you think of Putin, one thing is certain: he is extremely disciplined. He is a trained KGB agent.

You know, at what point does there have to be a concern about the temperament or the lack of impulse control when you are going toe to toe with an adversary like Russia, when the stakes are so high?

DEMIRJIAN: I think there's been always that concern that has been percolating about the president. I think that -- that his tendencies have been on display since he was a candidate. And people have been asking this question fairly openly, usually his critics, not his supporters.

But you have to also wonder. I don't know exactly how to answer that question, because maybe Trump has more respect for Putin than he seems to have for some of the women that he's dealing with and -- and making these comments about. It's difficult to know exactly where it is that he feels like his ego has been challenged, versus his ego is being flattered.

And I don't know how he speaks to the president, but if he chooses a tone that the president doesn't find challenging but flattering, then he wouldn't be, you know, coming to the point where he makes an outburst. But -- but it's certainly a question, because there will be meetings that he has that he is challenged, and how does he respond to those? With a tweet? OK. With something more serious than a tweet? Not OK, necessarily.

WARD: All right. Panel, thank you so much for breaking it down with us. We'll be talking to you a lot more.

Up next, new reporting in the "Wall Street Journal" raises new questions about Russian hackers, and there's a familiar name that pops up, Michael Flynn. Our panel will be talking all about it. That's coming up.


[06:18:47] CUOMO: "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that a Republican operative was tracking down hacked e-mails from Hillary Clinton's server and implying that he received fired national security adviser Michael Flynn's help before the election.

CNN's Phil Mattingly live on Capitol Hill with the latest.

This isn't our reporting. But what do we understand from theirs?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is from the "Wall Street Journal." It's about Peter Smith, who's now a deceased but longtime Republican opposition researcher who believed there had been stolen e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server and was reach out to individuals, trying to figure out a way to secure those e-mails.

Now as you noted, Chris, he implied -- or at least people contacted by him implied that he was connected to Michael Flynn, who was then a senior campaign adviser to president -- now President Donald Trump. Now he, in an interview with the "Wall Street Journal" before his death, said that never occurred. A Trump campaign official told "The Wall Street Journal" they had knowledge of this. And Michael Flynn himself has met -- did not respond to a request for comment.

Now as you note, CNN has not corroborated this story, but it's certainly something that is of interest, given all of the threads that people are looking into right now.

And guys, I would note that, as all of that is happening here on Capitol Hill, the Senate and House Intelligence Committees are continuing to ramp up their investigations. CNN has learned, sources telling CNN that next month, Susan Rice, the former Obama national security adviser, has agreed to come in and testify behind closed doors.

[06:20:10] Now, guys, why that is important is because, for Republicans, there's been a lot of allegations that Susan Rice may have mishandled classified information. This goes to the unmasking issue that a lot of Republicans have talked about, the idea that intercepts from the intelligence community that had redacted U.S. names were unredacted essentially by U.S. officials. This will be her first chance to testify.

She's vehemently denied doing anything wrong. But that will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

And guys, to wrap all this up, the backdrop of everything, here in the U.S. Senate, they've gone home for July Fourth recess. They don't have a deal on health care. And while this is divergent from the Russia topic, this is certainly a very important issue here. I'm told there's still a lot of working going on behind the scenes. But the idea that they were going to finalize a compromise proposal by the end of this week, that's now gone. They are sending different drafts of possible proposals over to the CBO right now, but guys, anybody who thought Republicans could finish this, lock this up by the end of this week so they would be prepared to vote when they came back, well, they'd be wrong.

CUOMO: And let's be honest, Phil. I think that what happened with the president and the demands for GOP electeds to step up and talk about it hastened their exit out of town. Because we couldn't find anybody to come on this morning, and it wasn't just because they had longstanding vacation plans.

Phil, enjoy the holiday, if you can, with family.

WARD: All right. Well, a lot to break down there, Chris. Let's bring back our panel: David Gregory, Karoun Demirjian, Margaret Talev.

David, let's start out with this "Wall Street Journal" article. You heard Phil Mattingly there talk about it. It seems to be part of this kind of continuous drip, drip. Every few days, another story. Larger picture starting to form here. What do you make of this, David?

GREGORY: Well, from what we can tell, I think the thread that is General Flynn is what's so interesting. If you go back to the Republican convention and then-candidate Trump standing up -- actually this was the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. And he stood up and had a press conference and invited Russia to try to find the missing e-mails from Hillary Clinton's server, which was such an outrageous thing for a candidate to come out and say, to encourage that kind of hacking.

And yet what seems to -- what the article points out is that there may have been an attempt with somebody close to Trump to do just that. So that becomes what's interesting. I mean, the link between Russia and the campaign is General Flynn. And whatever legal jeopardy he faces is one of the reasons why we haven't heard from him.

But I think that is a part of the investigation that is certainly interesting in terms of, you know, we haven't seen any widespread evidence that there was collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. But this figure, Flynn, is the one you want to keep your eye on.

CUOMO: Philly, was that where you introduced the tandem, carry bag satchel in the airport, if memory serves? Was that the first time that came out?

GREGORY: You know, Chris, it was actually New Hampshire.

CUOMO: Was it?

GREGORY: I'm a little sorry you don't remember that.

CUOMO: Well, you know, I have a catalog of the pictures of the different accoutrements that you bring. David Gregory has a very complete game.

Karoun, what popped out to me when I was reading through this reporting is that this is yet another kind of scream in the ear of how intentional the Russian actives -- the Russian activity was, how determined they were to find ways into the campaigns to mess with this election.

That language in the "Wall Street Journal" reporting about how intel intercepts were finding that the Russians were chatting about "How can we find a way to get these e-mails and then who can we get them to?" When will this become an obsession for our leaders and for our White

House? Not the collusion. Let's see what the investigation brings on that, if anything. But that they really did this. They did it more than they ever have before. It scared the bejesus out of our intelligence community, and they don't know how to stop it.

DEMIRJIAN: I think everybody is aware of what a massive, massive problem that is. I think everybody is not -- does not know what to do about it, unless it's sometimes too daunting to make that the primary focus, because it is -- it's a question that requires all kinds of collaboration, planning, figuring things out, more public discussion, frankly, of things that have to be talked about mostly behind closed doors because people are worried about disclosing what the sources and methods are for figuring this stuff out.

But the public has to be aware of the level of the threat in order to kind of be on guard against it. Because remember, it's not just a question of hacking, but also what's done with that information, these active measures, so to speak, that Russia has, you know, done very well in other parts of the world and done to a degree of success, as well, in the 2016 election here.

So that's something that certainly is being discussed, but it's being discussed in a more long-term context. That is troubling, given the fact that pretty much every senior member of the intelligence community has said, "Watch out, 2018 will be the next time this happens."

[06:25:03] WARD: Margaret, let's just take a moment to talk about health care, because we've been talking about it all week. I think we expected to be talking about it more today. Obviously, things got a little derailed for various reasons.

But no deal before the recess. Some new numbers that the CBO has been crunching in terms of Medicaid spending, and it doesn't look good. What happens now with this bill? At what point does it die?

TALEV: This is part and parcel of the Republican Party's promise and President Trump's promise in terms of repealing Obamacare. What the White House has been doing is creating a little bit of space between itself and the Congress so that, if the effort stalls, President Trump potentially doesn't -- doesn't have this sort of hanging around his neck.

But look, there's two sometimes discordant needs, right? And one is this commitment to repeal Obamacare. And the other is the president's commitment to take care of voters in some of these key states -- West Virginia, Ohio -- places that votes for him, places where there are high Medicaid numbers, opioid addiction.

So this really is very important both to the president's personal pledge, as well as to the Republicans' midterm calculations. But I'd say this: If you look at the calendar ahead, a week from now President Trump is going to be, essentially, a week from now meeting with Vladimir Putin in Germany and a bunch of other foreign leaders. Congress is looking at summer recess very close by. And then in the fall, which is like around the corner, that's really when the midterm machinations begin. And so you just see time -- the time window closing and a lot of other legislative priorities competing.

GREGORY: What's striking about that is it's so important they make good on this. Because if they do fail on health care, it will essentially be because Republicans couldn't agree amongst themselves when they control the entire government.

We should note: Republicans would never take on the issue of a government-created health care insurance system for the individual market. It's just not something that conservatives believe about what government should be doing. But it's here. They're trying to tweak it. You have a president who wants to retain as much of it as he can for his supporters and others with an Obamacare Lite kind of system, but there simply isn't agreement. And I think the idea of tax reform being imperiled if they fail on this is, as was suggested, the bigger downside for the president, moving forward.

CUOMO: Definitely a little bit of a domino chain working here. David Gregory, thank you very much.

Karoun, Margaret, appreciate the perspective, as always.

Another big topic for you in the news, the revised Trump travel ban. The good news, no chaos when it went into effect at the airports last night. But this is far from over. You have a legal challenge from Hawaii. What is the basis? Does it have teeth? Next.