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Outrage Over Trump's Tweets; WSJ: GOP Operative Sought Clinton E-mails from Hackers. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen million Americans will lose their health insurance next year if this bill passes.

[07:00:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America will be happy with what we give them.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, let's see, hmm. All the Democrats hate it, half the Republicans hate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY, Alisyn is off. Clarissa Ward is joining me.

Thank you for the time this week.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Thank you for having me this week.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. Washington united, somewhat, in its condemnation of President Trump. Why? The obvious: his latest degrading Twitter attack on another female television host. The White House defending the president's tweets, saying he's been attacked mercilessly, and this is just fighting fire with fire.

WARD: Also this morning, the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting a long-time Republican operative tried to get Hillary Clinton's e-mails from hackers, implying he had some connection to fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.

We have it all covered for you as always, but we begin with Boris Sanchez, live in Washington. Boris, what are you hearing?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Clarissa. The president has already tweeted out twice this morning, first about crime in Chicago and potentially sending federal help there, and then about the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

But these early-morning tweets very different than yesterday's, in which he went in a very personal direction, attacking a cable news host and taking the national conversation about politics in this country in an unexpected direction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you regret your tweets?

SANCHEZ (voice-over): President Trump silenced 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.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: 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.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: 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.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Now, we should note, Clarissa, some of the harshest criticism over these tweets have come from some Republican congresswomen who the president may be trying to court right now for their votes in this overhaul of Obamacare.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine yesterday called the tweet embarrassing, saying she worries about how the president is viewed around the world. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska tweeting, in part, quote, "Stop it," when it comes to tweeting like the president does.

And she's not alone. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 61 percent of Americans -- look at it right there -- think the president should stop tweeting from his personal account.

The most interesting part of this poll, Clarissa, is the date. It was taken June 22 to the 27th, well before yesterday morning's tweet storm.

WARD: I guess the question is will the president pay any attention to that? All right. Boris, thank you so much.

The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting a Republican operative tracking down hacked e-mails from Hillary Clinton's server implied he received the help of fired national security adviser Michael Flynn before the election.

[07:05:05] CNN's Phil Mattingly is live on Capitol Hill with the details. Phil, walk us through this.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Clarissa, the story, which CNN hasn't corroborated yet, but is done by the "Wall Street Journal," really details how a Republican opposition researcher, a longtime Republican opposition researcher, Peter Smith, believed that Hillary Clinton's e-mails had been stolen from her private server and had been reaching out to hackers and hacking groups in an effort to try and get those e-mails.

Now, according to the "Wall Street Journal," some of the individuals he reached out to said that he claimed that he was working with or corroborating with Michael Flynn, then a senior foreign policy adviser to candidate Donald Trump, who eventually became the national security to President Donald Trump before he was fired. Now, the individual himself, Peter Smith, is now dead. But he did

interview with the "Wall Street Journal" before his passing, and he said that never actually occurred. He never said that occurred. The -- Michael Flynn never returned a call for comment from the "Wall Street Journal." And again, CNN hasn't corroborated these details yet.

But it's an interesting story, certainly something as you look at the entire Russia investigation that people are paying attention to right now.

And it also comes as investigations on Capitol Hill, guys, are clearly ramping up. The Senate Intelligence Committee, we've seen a lot of their work. The House Intelligence Committee also ramping up and inviting somebody that Republicans have a keen interest in.

Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to President Obama, has, according to sources, told the committee that she will testify behind or at least meet with the panel behind closed doors next month. This is obviously important for Republicans who care about the unmasking issue. This is something they have alleged: Obama officials deliberately unmasked names or took away redacted names from intelligence reports. Susan Rice has vehemently denied any knowledge of this or doing anything wrong. This is something certainly, guys, that they will be focused on.

CUOMO: All right, Phil, appreciate it.

Let's bring in the panel: CNN political analyst David Gregory; associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard; and host of CNN's "SMERCONISH," Michael Smerconish.

All right, David, it's all on the table. The president's tweet has really just created this maelstrom of negativity. We got to see him at his worst. This is not something new. We've gotten to see GOP people, some vocal, many not. That is something else that we have to deal with. Then we have all of the reaction to this, from Trump supporters and people who are antagonistic to Trump. It's all negative. It's all counterproductive. How do you use something like this to get better?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know how you do it immediately, unless you have a political class that is going to embrace the idea of condemning this kind of crude discourse.

You know, we had Lincoln at Gettysburg, as I said before. We now have Trump on Twitter. Both were masters of brevity in their particular format. Same office, same country. That is truly a sad reality, that we have those two bases of comparisons.

I think what the president has failed to acknowledge, because of his own impulsivity, is that the presidency is bigger than him. Therefore, he's got to be bigger than some of the grievances he feels from the commentary that's out there about him, which is hard. There's a lot of scrutiny. It can be about his temperament. It can be about his personality. I've heard conservative commentators this morning say we shouldn't be focusing on those. But the media is always going to focus on a president's temperament and personality. It is part of evaluating their job performance.

And the president runs the real risk of having nothing left of his presidency other than a string of ugly tweets, because he is self- destructive. And it's going to get in the way of actual success, achieving something of his agenda.

And finally, we -- whether it's in the media or if it's Republicans or Democrats, have to stand up and say that saying hateful things about women is wrong. It is absolutely wrong in our culture when you have a huge public forum. And I think everybody needs to take the president to task for that. It is absolutely gross.

WARD: I think, A.B., we've seen some of the women who are, you know, close to President Trump, whether it's Sarah Huckabee, the deputy press secretary; whether it's his daughter Ivanka, who has condemned what she calls the vicious attacks against him; whether it is the first lady, Melania Trump, who has come out and said, "You know what? If you hit him, he's going to punch you back ten times harder." Politically, how do you think this defense plays, the idea that he is the victim here, and he is just responding to the attacks?

A.B. STODDARD, COLUMNIST/ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. That's really the most concerning to Republicans and Democrats concerned about the state of his discourse that David was talking about. They're not really focused so much on his past comments about women.

Look at the way he spoke about John McCain. It's that he acts on emotion, and his impulsivity is really what scares people.

A lot of Obama's base did not like Rush Limbaugh and the things that Rush Limbaugh and others in talk radio said about President Obama for eight years, but they wanted him to do his job. They didn't want him sitting in the Oval Office in the morning, getting obsessed about this kind of stuff and lashing out.

[07:10:13] And so people are really concerned, not about his unique style, as Jason Miller was calling it last night, and his personality. They're concerned about the way he can't control his emotions, and he acts on them and lashes out in vindictive and destructive ways, and that it can't be stopped. That all those people around him want better for him, who really are swallowing hard to keep from getting fired, using the defense that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a talented, in -- I mean, articulate, unflappable person who is good at her job, the things she said yesterday were things she had to say.

And so every Republican on Capitol Hill who's either condemning it openly or saying it's unhelpful is really actually most concerned with his temperament and what it means for the rest of his presidency.

CUOMO: Well, look, as it is with all of us, A.B., obviously Huckabee Sanders has a job to do, but she makes a choice about how to do it.

Smerc, how do you see it? MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, "SMERCONISH": It's no longer unprecedented.

I think there's this tendency that we all have, and I'm guilty of it, that when his bad behavior breaks into the news, we act like we've never seen it before.

But A.B. just made reference to the John McCain moment. There was the Megyn Kelly moment. There was the "Access Hollywood" tape. And we should no longer be surprised by this sort of vile behavior.

But I think, Chris, what's important is that he has very carefully orchestrated an inoculation campaign. I was flipping around the dial last night, because I wanted to see just how the reaction would be among our cable competitors. My God, it's night and day. And he's -- he's fed that. He's created this war against the media and this war against fake news so that his partisans -- I'm sorry to say -- won't be impacted by this. I don't think that it shakes the faith of the 46 percent.

GREGORY: Yes, and -- but I just think that -- and I think, Smerc, I think you're right about that, although I think that there are some -- some exceptions among, you know, typical defenders of the president who will condemn this.

But I do think that part of the problem is that there's enough of a fear factor -- I mean, if you're Paul Ryan, you know, you clearly don't agree with this. You want to condemn it. I would assume he does, knowing him somewhat in his public profile. But he's trying to marginalize this piece of it so he can kind of keep his eye on the ball of the agenda.

The question is, look, Trump seems to exercise some discipline in the realm of foreign policy, some. He does show that he's listening to some of his top advisers. He doesn't go off like this.

But when it comes to this part of his personality or criticism, he doesn't listen to anybody. He doesn't restrain himself at all. So I mean, are Republican leaders going in there and saying, "Mr. President, you have to stop. This is wrong. This is just wrong. We have children" -- I mean, imagine, you know, somebody in middle school, if they were popping off like this, you know, they'd be suspended at least from school. And yet we're counting this from -- countenancing this from the president of the United States.

CUOMO: You know, it is a good point, David. It really is. Some of the defenses you hear of this -- well, you know, "She said it first." You know, "You guys are -- you know, you say mean things to him."

WARD: Right.

CUOMO: "He's just coming back."

If you heard that from your child in defense of what happened in school, you would immediately cut the kid off and say, "It doesn't make it right."

WARD: Right. CUOMO: "It doesn't matter what was done to you." And that's with a kid. You're dealing -- and there's something to the context here, A.B. Do Mika -- does Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, a lot of the yappers on TV, do they go after him too much, too personally, too insulting? I could make a pretty constructive case yes, they do. But they're commentators. This is a news show. That is -- it's an opinion show, and they say what they want.

But even if everybody is right about it being so mean against the president, he is the most powerful man in the world, and it is interesting that those around him don't want to hold him to that standard. And by ignoring it, it seems that they've empowered it, because the president doesn't hold back at all ever and seems to get congratulated for that by his own.

STODDARD: Well, they're certainly not going to come out and criticize him unless they want to pack their bags that day and take their hard drive and get out of there. They all know that. That's why they get up at the microphones and say things that aren't true. I mean, it's all about his electoral win and whatever he wants them to say.

CUOMO: No, but I'm talking about Ryan, McConnell...

STODDARD: No -- yes. I understand that.

CUOMO: ... the big shots in this party. They're there to lead. They got voted in.

STODDARD: I think it has nothing to do with what Mika and Joe are saying, which is why I brought -- why I brought up Rush Limbaugh. If you cannot handle criticism from talk show hosts, you're in the wrong job.

His job is to take this and carry on. If he wanted to hang around with Howard Stern as a businessman and have some fun, he could have kept doing that. He didn't.

And so, yes, we can sit here and say, "Oh, it's really hard. If Paul Ryan could just go over to the White House and tell him to stop." No one can stop this. It won't stop. He's 71. He's done it before. He'll do it again. No one can stop him. Ivanka can't; Melania can't; Kellyanne can't; Sarah Huckabee can't. No one can stop this, obviously. If they could, they would have.

So Republican leaders, like I said, I divide them into two camps. They openly condemned it, which I think is respectable, and other ones tried to hide by saying it's not helpful; it's a missed opportunity; it's a distraction. But what I'm telling you is behind the scenes, what they're all talking about is not so much that he attacks women like Megyn Kelly and Mika. What they're really concerned about is his temperament, that he cannot control himself.

WARD: Michael Smerconish, quickly, the last word is for you.

SMERCONISH: So the answer to Chris's question is yes. He's benefiting from the fact that some of the criticism has been over the top. And then it gives his supporters the ability to reveal this litany of charges that he has faced.

Bottom line, though, you've got to punch within your weight class. He's the president; they're cable talkers. They shouldn't be fighting one another. He shouldn't be responding at their level. That's the point.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much. Another -- another heartening conversation about the state of our democracy. But it's important. It's important to discuss it. And there's always hope that things somehow get better as a result of it.

So senators are leaving. You don't see them on the show this morning. One reason is they have their break coming up. Another reason is they don't want to deal with what the president just did. But how this will affect their ability to make a deal? Will it maybe engender a little reaching across the aisle, even if it's an exercise of desperation? Let's bring in a Democratic senator and see if they are willing to work with the Republicans to get something done for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:20:50] CUOMO: The health care battle is coming to a standstill as the GOP can't get on the same page, even within their own ranks, let alone with the Democrats. But of course, that news is being overshadowed by the president's own words, and that triggering a larger question. How do the president's tweets affect business on Capitol Hill? Well, they sure as heck don't help it. Right?

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Interesting defense by the president and those around him: "This is your fault. This is you guys on the left, in the media and the critics. You're too mean to him, and he won't take it. He's a fighter. If you hit him, he hits you back." Good excuse?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Chris, that's not a great excuse from the president of the United States. Frankly, this is just part of his ongoing tactic of distracting.

We've got a situation on Capitol Hill where the Senate Republican version of Trumpcare is floundering. They had promised that they'd take a vote this week. They delayed that. They promised they'd have a revised version of it by Friday. They don't.

And frankly, I think this was just the president once again lashing out at someone in the media, in this particular case in a personally offensive and unacceptable way, partly just to distract us so that we are spending this morning talking about the president's tweets and about an interpersonal fight between him and someone whom I respect who is on TV, rather than talking about the impact on Americans, in my case on Delawareans of the health care bill.

Later this morning, I'm going to be convening a roundtable of more than a dozen Delaware health care and patient advocacy groups so I can hear from them how the proposed Senate Trumpcare bill would actually affect the people who they care for, the people who they advocate for. That's what I think senators ought to be doing at home in their states and districts this week, is digging into the details of this bill, thinking through what its consequences might be.

And then hopefully when we get back, we might abandon this Republican effort to give a huge tax break to the wealthiest and to make long- term cuts to Medicaid, and instead focus on how we can fix and stabilize things about the Affordable Care Act that we can do on a bipartisan basis.

CUOMO: I want to talk to you about the president's latest tweet about his suggestion of what should be done by the senators if they can't get this bill done. "If Republican senators are unable to pass what they're working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date."

Interesting notion because it was found to be least popular in polls during the House process and for an obvious reason. If you were to repeal and not replace, what would be the upside? You would be making good on a promise that Republicans have been making for many years, that they would do exactly that.

However, you would be creating a gap in coverage that could last many, many months, which could be disastrous for a lot of people. What do you make of this idea that, if they can't get a deal done, they should just repeal and then move forward with replacement from there?

COONS: Chris, that literally makes no sense. What I've heard from business leaders the whole time that I've been an elected official is that they want predictability. They want predictability so that they can figure out what the path forward is.

I recently met with the CEO of the health insurance company that provides health insurance to more Delawareans than any other. And he said that the ongoing sabotage by the Trump administration of the Affordable Care Act -- that's my word, not his, "sabotage" -- that the unpredictability of the path forward is making it nearly impossible for them to figure out how to price insurance...

CUOMO: Explain that point.

COONS: ... this coming year.

CUOMO: It doesn't hit for a lot of people. Let's talk about that for a second. It doesn't hit for a lot of people. You guys have made this point, which is, he has been hanging the subsidies that the federal government has to give to different providers in different marketplaces to offset price imbalances for risk and keep them stable, by dangling those subsidies: "Maybe I'll give them to you and maybe I won't." And there's an argument as to whether or not the president has exclusive authority to do that. It has scared insurers and made them pull out of markets.

People don't buy that. Make the case.

COONS: That's the case. When I've sat down and met with insurance executives who have either left the marketplace here in Delaware or who are hanging in here in Delaware and in other states, they say that they don't know whether there's going to continue to be a mandate on individuals to buy insurance. So they don't know if the pool that they're providing insurance for is shrinking and getting sicker or is stable and staying diverse.

[07:25:22] And they don't know whether there's going to continue to be the cautionary payments that make it possible for insurance companies to recoup their losses if they write insurance to a sicker pool of people than was initially projected.

As you may remember -- this is a little wonky -- but last year and the year before that, risk -- so-called risk corridor payments that were part of the architecture of the Affordable Care Act got denied. Highmark, which provides insurance here in Delaware, is suing the federal government for hundreds of billions of dollars in payments -- excuse me, hundreds of millions of dollars in payments -- I think it's about $700 million -- that they were owed under the ACA.

The ACA was designed to be a private insurance plan where insurance companies would compete to provide health insurance for people who newly had access or to provide higher quality insurance for the 150 million Americans who get insurance through their employers.

If there's instability in that marketplace, if the actions that the Trump administration is taking make that unpredictable, then it's very hard to price insurance.

CUOMO: Well, the one...

COONS: If there's any business, Chris, that relies on understanding risk to set price, it's insurance. That's what they do.

CUOMO: Look, there's no question about that. You know, I mean, you can take this as a negative or a positive, but the insurance business, they're in the business of not paying. That's what they're trying to do, how to figure out how to pay the least. So that's clearly going to be a sensitivity for them.

And hopefully, there is an opportunity for you, for the Democrats and those who want to compromise in this period of indecision among the GOP. Because it would be great to get a better solution out of a bad situation.

Senator, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it. Enjoy the holiday with your family, if possible.

COONS: You, too.

CUOMO: Clarissa.

WARD: Thanks, Chris.

Well, coming up, the president getting personal. The White House says he's just fighting back fire with fire, or tweets, but is this just bullying? Our panel will debate that, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)