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Interview with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susan Rice could have a lot to tell us about Russian intentions, Russian engagement, how Russian active measures work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intelligence report show Russian hackers talking about ways to find Secretary Clinton's e-mails and to get them to General Flynn.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Friday, June 30th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Clarissa Ward has been with me for much of this week, and thank you.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, it's been a pleasure.

CUOMO: It is, a different experience. Makes you crave the warzone, doesn't it?

WARD: It does.


CUOMO: All right, so Washington doesn't seem to agree on much these days, but we got close, we got close to unity on the outrage for President Trump's latest disparaging tweets about yet another female TV host. There is a big feeling that they are beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

WARD: Still, the White House is defending the tweets as it responds to being attacked mercilessly, saying the president is just fighting fire with fire. We have it all covered, but let's start out with CNN's Boris Sanchez. He is live at the White House. Boris, what are we hearing this morning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Clarissa. The president already tweeting out first this morning, the first about crime in Chicago and potentially sending federal help there, the second about health care and how they're going to get a repeal and replacement of Obamacare through Congress. These early morning tweets very different from yesterday's, which were much more personal and vicious.


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

SANCHEZ: President Trump silent amid 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 face-lift."

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

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


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, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 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 she said she made combating this problem a focus in her time in the White House.

MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. 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 he husband gets attacked, he pushes back 10 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, re-tweeted this unflattering picture of Ted Cruz's wife, and said this about another female journalist --

TRUMP: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and, you know, you can see the blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her -- wherever.


SANCHEZ: Important to keep in mind, Clarissa and Chris, some of the harshest criticism going at the president about these tweets come from two Republican congresswomen who the president is supposed to be courting for their votes in a health care overhaul right now. One of them, Senator Susan Collins from Maine saying that the tweet is embarrassing, saying that she worries how the president is viewed around the world.

The other, Senator Lisa Murkowski, who tweeted out in part, quote, "Stop it" to the president in terms of his tweets. She's not alone. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 61 percent of Americans think the president should stop tweeting from his personal account. Very important to note the dates when this poll was taken, June 22nd through the 27th, well before this latest tweet storm. Back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Boris, appreciate it.

Joining us is CNN politics editor at large Chris Cillizza, author of "The Point with Chris Cillizza," Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press Julie Pace, and CNN political director David Chalian.

[08:05:05] Chris Cillizza, this tweet, this behavior by the president is not normal, or is the new normal?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: Well, Chris, I don't think we can allow it to be the new normal because then I think we're defining sort of the way in which we want to interact with one another down, and I don't think that that's a good thing.

Unfortunately, and predictably, this has become largely viewed through a partisan lens. Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, some Republican elected officials have come out and condemned this, but on the activist level you see a lot of responses like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which is he was a fighter, the media is terrible, these people attack him. He should attack back.

To me we're talking about the president of the United States here. We're not talking about a private citizen. We're not even talking about the CEO of a company. We're talking about the single most powerful person in the country, who was elected to represent 300 million people and whose salary is paid for by taxpayers. That person is a role model whether that person likes it or not. That person's behavior has impact whether that person chooses to recognize that or not. And when Donald Trump does stuff like this, if we can't say, you should not bull a woman over her looks, period, you certainly should not do it online, and we should not be the kind of society, politics aside, that condones that or defends that, that should be, in my opinion, a statement that everyone can sort of agree on because we have an accepted norm.

Now, if this is the new normal that this is how we interact with one another -- yes, it's not a great place to be. I don't know what else to say there. I guess I'm hoping that it's not the new normal because, as you noted, there was, at least among elected officials, relatively widespread condemnation of this.

WARD: You know, "misogyny" is such a dirty word, and it's a really strong word to be leveled at the president of the United States, but, you know, a lot of people are using that word. And we put together a list, or started to put together a list.

CUOMO: A partial list.

WARD: A partial list. Of some of the women the president disparaged, Heidi Cruz, Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Sara Murray, Rosie O'Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Cher, Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- clearly it runs the gamut, right, from Supreme Court justices --

CUOMO: And it's not just women. It's that the comments about them are often directed and suggestive of qualities of being a woman.

WARD: Yes, or directed at their physical appearance. I wanted to play this sound from Ivanka Trump. She appeared on "FOX AND FRIENDS." It's just interesting to hear her perspective, not this specific incident because this was in the past, but on this general phenomenon. Take a listen and then we'll discuss.


IVANKA TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: There's a level of viciousness 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 ferocity was -- I was a little blindsided by on a personal level.


WARD: So you're hearing there, Julie, essentially the argument is the president is the victim here. The president is the one coming under attack, and it's the women in his life close to him who are defending him. What do you make of that reaction, or that sort of idea, that defense?

JULIE PACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, there's this pretty baffling disconnect when you see what the president says and tweets and then you hear his daughter, his wife, his sons talk about the viciousness of the opposition. And certainly there has been harsh and personal criticism of the president from people in the media, from his detractors. But we can't ignore the fact that there's also plenty of that that comes from the president.

And when you hear from the White House and they say, well, the president is a fighter. He's going to fight back if he's criticized. I think what they lose in making that argument is that, yes, voters who supported the president last year likes that he was a fighter, but they want him to fight for them. They want him to fight for their health care, for their jobs, for the strength of the economy. They're less concerned, I think, about him fighting for himself, and that's where he can't seem to grasp that part of the job, that this isn't just a platform for him to get back at his critics. He's supposed to be fighting, if he's going to be a fighter, for the public.

CUOMO: So David, put your brain in this. You've always been so helpful to us in understanding how something that seems obvious is not obvious in the minds of the Trump base. Is it that -- not that they think he's OK with what he says about Mika Brzezinski or anybody else, or that they like that, but that they are more motivated by Trump as a change agent of a dynamic that they truly do hate, and are willing to look past this or even defend it if they must in order to get an opportunity to change what they truly hate?

[08:10:11] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think you are totally right in the way you're characterizing it, but I think we do a disservice to the country at large if we only view this through a political lens of Trump supporters, Trump non-supporters. How did Republicans react to this? How did Democrats react to this? That's how we normally assess things that the president does to sort of put our finger in the wind and find out whether or not this is different than other things. I think that does a disservice here.

I really think what happened with these tweets is outside of the realm of politics. I know that's not easy to say. It's the president of the United States of America. But this is -- this is about the person who holds the highest office in our land.

CUOMO: That's true, but his defenders are almost exclusively within his base and party official whose would rather promote their agenda than comment on what is about obvious point of decency you're pointing out.

CHALIAN: Right. But I understand that, and I understand his supporters are going to look at this conversation this morning we're having and say this is exactly the problem. There is, you know, the mainstream media again just not understanding that we want to bust up the way things have been done.

But what I'm saying is, the president of the United States did something totally inappropriate, beneath the dignity of his office, and is not good for the country at large. It's just that simple. And if you're a supporter, your agenda gets sidelined. That briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders where she had to get out there yesterday and defend him all day long, I looked at that as proof-positive that his tweets are derailing his agenda from moving forward.

CILLIZZA: And just to add, David is 1,000 percent right. Just to add, Donald Trump seems to believe that lines do not exist for him, right? He's not -- he doesn't take a step over a line. He wipes it out and then says if you say there was line, that's ridiculous. There's no line there, even if you can see the line. It worked for him in a political setting, because he ran against

political convention, to your point, Chris, that people hated so much they were willing to accept a flawed messenger, which they acknowledged he was. Look at his favorable ratings even when he won in the exit polling. They didn't like him. They just liked what he represented.

The problem with that is, just because you succeeded in wiping out some political conventions that should rightly be questioned, doesn't mean, to David's point, that you can take basic human decency, how we treat one another outside of political calculus, and say that's out the window, too. I got rid of everything. The media said I was wrong. We were wrong about some of the political conventions that he broke and that people wanted to break. But that does not mean you can do, say and do willy-nilly about common human decency and how we treat one another. They're not the same thing.

WARD: I do think that is an important point to make. Political correctness, people have strong feelings about it, that's one thing. This is just common decency, and it's about the integrity of the office. Anyway, panel, as always, thank you so much for joining us, for helping us to break it down. And don't forget, viewers, you can sign up for Chris Cillizza's new online newsletter, "The Point with Chris Cillizza" at

CUOMO: Wait, where can I sign up for "The Point with Chris Cillizza"?, you say, slash "ThePoint"?

WARD: Indeed.

CUOMO: I will do so. He has a funny last flame. I think it is Irish.

So is the president making it hard for Republicans to get their agenda through? The answer is, yes. So what can they do about it? Let's talk with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, next, one of the few who came out today.


[08:17:24] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump tweeting about health care this morning with somewhat of a controversial suggestion. If they can't get this done -- the Republicans senators he's talking about -- they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date. Not only was that found to be highly unpopular, in fact, it was the least popular option when people were asked early on during the House process.

But there's a reason for that. If you repeal and don't replace, how do people get their care? What would the system be? Why would insurers stay involved? So sometimes a tweet can mean a lot.

Let's talk about all of this with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, and first, let me applaud you and thank you for coming on the show today. It was not easy to book your Republican brothers and sisters. You did not shy away. We couldn't get anybody from the White House. Kellyanne Conway is out

there this morning but she would not come in here even though we invited her and that opportunity continues.

So, thank you four taking it, Congressman.


CUOMO: So, let's talk about decency for one moment. You often have arguments that get tested on this show. You always conduct yourself with decency. You don't take personal shots and seem to expect the same from others.

So, what is your comment on what you expect from the president of the United States and the head of your party?

KINZINGER: I expect him to act like a president. You know, I saw the tweet yesterday, and actually I had to hear it a couple times and thought this was from way back in the campaign. You know, look, whether -- that's a tweet that's not even becoming of a city councilman. We have to expect a lot of our president.

Look, he is unorthodox and I think that can work to his advantage in certain ways, unorthodox way in the fact that he tweets, unorthodox in how he speaks, unorthodox in the way he delivers a message. And I think kind of this time where people want straight talk, he can fill that.

But there is a point and that was crossed yesterday in which a president can punch across or punch up on behalf of people, but when you punch down and you single out people and try to go after folks' character and then you say something really nonsensical. I read it? I'm like what? I don't even quite understand it.

That needs to change, and I hope he or the White House is listening, and we've been saying this for months, but hopefully that tone can change.

CUOMO: What they're saying is, you're wrong. If someone hits him, he should hit back. This is what people voted for. And that the media is tough on him, often personal. Specifically, the person he attacked yesterday, Mika Brzezinski, that she insults him all the time and she deserves to get it back. That's who Trump is.

Do you accept that rationale?

KINZINGER: No. She's in the news business, right? She's got an opinion.

[08:20:01] I mean, this is -- this is a pretty rough and tumble game we're in. I mean, I take hits from media sometimes, and it doesn't always make you happy, but it doesn't mean that I lash out.

I volunteered for this job. I ran for this job. I asked people to put me in this job. It is difficult, and you're going to take -- you're going to take

grief and you're going to take hits, but we have to have a level of decency. It's -- it's singling people out, I don't think, is good, obviously. I think the way -- the tone that was set is not good, obviously.

This is about -- everytime each side escalates, so, somebody gets hits, so somebody hits back, and somebody hits harder, and it keeps -- there's no in to that besides -- you know, like the explosion of a pressure cooker. Both sides have to bring the temperature down and the president putting out this tweet is not helpful at all and in fact I called it out yesterday.

CUOMO: So, let's check a couple boxes real quickly on issue items for the American people. First, the president put out a tweet this morning saying, if you can't get this bill done, just repeal. Worry about replace later.

Are you OK with that?

KINZINGER: No. I think it's repeal and replace. I think we have to have a good system for the American people to come in. We can argue about whether they like the system we're bringing in or not, but I think to simply a repeal even with the sunset of are the year or two down the road, the problem is we know how Washington works. You can't -- sometimes on deadlines, we still don't get things done. You can't leave the American people out like this.

I mean, sequester happened. We thought we would be able to fix this problem and it never did.

CUOMO: Promises matter, repeal and replace was one, but you got to take care of the American people as well. That's the balance you all have to strike.

Now, another balance, how to protect America's interest while still respecting the law. You served this country with honor and distinction. The decisions that politicians make, you had to put into effect on the battlefield and we thank you for your service.

Syria presents another potential episode where American military may be involved. Do you think that it is time for the American president to come before Congress and the American people and make the case for military strategy and use in Syria and to have a vote on an authorization for the use of military force?

KINZINGER: Yes. I'm for it. I think the president is acting legally, as I thought President Obama was acting legally under the current use of force authorizations.

CUOMO: Why? Why an authorization to fight al Qaeda apply to fighting a regime in Syria?

KINZINGER: It's al Qaeda offsets, this continued war on terror actually does target al Qaeda as well. But, look, I have -- I have an authorization for the use of force that

I wrote that gives the president the authority to destroy the Islamic State and its affiliates. I want it to come to Congress. I'm for that. I think it's the right thing to do.

And I think one thing we have to understand, even beyond just the whole use of force issue, once ISIS is defeated, and they're on the cusp of it. You're not going to defeat the mindset. That's the big issue and something that I think we have to have way more conversation about. When ISIS is gone, this is not the end of this battle.

But I think, you know, Syria is going to be very, very complicated post-ISIS. You have Iran, Russia, the Assad regime and all of these competing interests. This is something that I think we need to have a healthy debate, and the administration needs to sell this to the American people.

And I'll tell you, the people around President Trump really do understand this. I've talked to them. I have not spoken to the president directly about this.

CUOMO: This is the July Fourth weekend we're coming into, celebrating independence and freedom. I want to thank you, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one, for your service to the country and protecting freedoms of people like me and the opportunity to come on the show when many members of your party would not. Thank you, sir.

KINZINGER: You're too kind. Thank you.

CUOMO: Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, coming up, is President Trump's crusade against the media intentional distraction? We will get the bottom line with legendary journalist Carl Bernstein. That's next.


[08:27:49] WARD: A string of severe storms bout the Midwest as heat and humidity return to the Northeast going into the holiday weekend.

Our CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking the latest.

Chad, what are you hearing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I think that the weather will be calmer today than yesterday in some spots. There were three tornadoes, or the day before, there were 30.

But still, today the potential for weather exists for 35 million people. Now, wind damage and maybe some hail. Not so many tornadoes today, but still the potential is there from Buffalo all the way down to Oklahoma. That's a wide swath, along that front.

That front make as rainy day in New York tomorrow but a better day Sunday. It will be warm but it will be drier as humidity gets pushed away, but a really pleasant, good-looking couple of days. New York, Fourth of July, 84.

And if you like to join me, talk fly fishing and weather, I will be in West Yellowstone, Montana for the Fourth of July.

Don't hate me, Chris. My son and I are going to do some fly fishing.

CUOMO: I don't hate. I appreciate. You're good man and you're a good dad. Thank you very much, brother. Enjoy.

The president's offensive tweet about yore news anchor is the latest hit in Mr. Trump's battle against the media. His spokespeople are telling reporters to focus on policy. The question is, how? When the president keeps doing things like this, it makes you wonder if it is intentional.

Let's discuss with CNN political commentator and legendary journalist, Mr. Carl Bernstein.

Carl good to have you on the show, as always. .


CUOMO: How do you this as a tactic by the president?

BERNSTEIN: I think something much greater is happening, and that is, that we are in the midst of a malignant presidency, and that malignancy is known to the military leaders of the country. It's known to the Republican leadership in Congress who recognize it and it's known to the intelligence community.

And the presidency of Donald Trump is not functioning. It's not functioning partly because of his character. It's not functioning partly because of his attacks on the press, which is totally moving the needle that the American people who are watching to a side show. But it's really not functioning, because the character and capabilities of this president are called into grave question in a way that those who know him best are raising serious concerns about.