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Trump Posts Wrestling Video of Himself Attacking CNN; Sources: Trump Plans to Focus on Syria, Ukraine in Putin Meeting. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 06:00   ET



THOMAS BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: He's beaten up on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.

[05:57:30] REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: We need to protect freedom of the press. There is a responsibility on everyone, including the president of the United States.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us. But we will not let them.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Just hope he grows into this job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will be and what won't be discussed at the G- 20 summit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone wants to know whether President Trump will bring up Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Both sides are playing down expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civilians held as human shields by ISIS, risking death to flee from its certainty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soldiers and civilians alike are anticipating the fall of ISIS any moment now.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, July 3, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is off this morning. John Berman is with us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's like Independence Day eve.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it is. And we will be celebrating it all morning long.

Here's your starting line. President Trump escalating his war on the media, targeting CNN in a tweet that many leaders call juvenile, at best. Other members of the GOP are simply speechless. At the same time the president is preparing for his first face-to-face

meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sources tell CNN that Syria and Ukraine will be on the agenda, but no plans at the moment to bring up Russia's interference in the U.S. election.

BERMAN: President Trump working the phones ahead of this week's G-20 summit in Germany, reaching out to world leaders about the North Korean nuclear threat and fighting terrorism.

All this as 29 states balk at a controversial White House request for the personal data of every registered American voter.

CNN has every angle of this covered this morning. Let's begin with Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, the president spending much of his day in Bedminster. He'll be coming back here to the White House late today. He's going to be hosting military families tomorrow for the July Fourth festivities. But he spent much of the weekend, July Fourth weekend, ramping up his attacks on the media.


TRUMP: The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump escalating his ongoing war against the press, tweeting out this doctored video of himself pummeling a man with an edited CNN logo over his face. The video drawing sharp, widespread condemnation.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is an incitement to violence.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very disturbing. There's nothing light -- light-hearted about it whatsoever.

ZELDIN: And we need to protect freedom of the press. There is a responsibility on the part of everyone, including the president of the United States.

MALVEAUX: Homeland security advisor Thomas Bossert, first shown the video on ABC, insisting the president is not inciting violence.

BOSSERT: I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.

MALVEAUX: The president tweeting a barrage of anti-media attacks over the holiday weekend, and defending his use of social media as "modern- day presidential." Trump even unleashing a verbal tirade at an event meant to honor America's veterans ahead of the Fourth of July.

TRUMP: The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I'm president, and they're not. MALVEAUX: This with the White House already on defense for the

president's crude attacks on two MSNBC hosts last week.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.

MALVEAUX: CNN responding directly to the president's latest attack: "It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so. Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he's involved in juvenile behavior, far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price insisting the president's tweeting doesn't detract from the health care battle.

TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: The fact of the matter is that he can do more than one thing at a time.

MALVEAUX: But some Republicans saying the behavior could have serious consequences.

KASICH: People are now begging the president not to do this. And, you know, he ought to stop doing it.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that, and trying to weaponize distrust.


MALVEAUX: The president has a critically busy week this week as North Korea continues to provoke the president, putting in calls to the presidents of South Korea, China and Japan. The president on Wednesday leaving for a critical trip, the G-20 summit to Europe, and also a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss it all. We have Errol Louis, CNN political commentator; Alex Burns, CNN political analyst and national political reporter for "The New York Times"; and Karoun Demirjian, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post." Great to see all of you.

I've been off for a week. So what did I miss, Errol?

You know, how do we -- how are we supposed to interpret what happened this weekend with what the president put out with the WrestleMania of him punching CNN in the head? Harmless, fun, harmful, provocative, what is this? ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not harmless. Harmful,

ultimately. It damages both the institution of the presidency as well as the relationship of a free press to that presidency. Does some damage. I don't think fatal damage.

I think, look, I've been doing this for too long to respond otherwise, when I see a politician squealing, it means somebody is getting closer to a truth that that politician does not want to see talked about. And so it strikes me as, you know, this White House, which is all lawyered up at this point, which has a dogged and expanding team of serious investigators looking at all kinds of different things, on what's really an open-ended probe. We call it the Russia probe, but we know how this works. When Mueller finds something that involves, say, financial misconduct, he's not going to overlook that. That just gets thrown into the pot.

So I think the pot is getting a little hot. The pot is getting a little full. And every time I see the president, like any other nervous politician, freaking out over the press and saying, "Please don't talk about this," what it tells you is you have to keep digging, and it tells you that there's probably more there than we realized at first.

BERMAN: You know, but Alex, first what you hear is it fires up his base. His base loves it; they love attacking the media. What does that get him? It fires up 30 percent.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think it is fair to see this is part of what you could call his 30 percent. Maybe 35 percent strategy on a really good day.

I think the president since taking office has done virtually nothing to expand his appeal, to go to those people who voted for him reluctantly or who voted against him and give them a reason to like him. This certainly doesn't accomplish that.

And where there really are, you know, concrete consequences for that, we heard Secretary Price claiming that this doesn't really link in to his health agenda at all. To the contrary. There are a number of Republican senators from these swing states or folks who themselves are uneasy about the president, may not have voted for him or voted for him reluctantly. They're not seeing anything from him that makes them feel nervous about crossing him, and they're seeing a lot from him that makes them feel nervous about standing with him on a really tough issue.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about that, Karoun. Because I think that it's safe to say that there are millions of Americans who would rather be talking this morning about their future health care than about his ongoing WrestleMania with the media.

[06:05:13] So what does this -- what does this mean? That he can do two things at once and that he can effect his agenda, or this is his agenda? If you look at his tweets, they're much more anti-media than they are, say, pro-Senate health care bill. KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST":

Well, yes. That's -- he's -- this is a convenient way of distracting from the fact that we don't right now know what the Senate health care bill is going to ultimately end up as. We've got a negative CBO report. We've got reports about all the people that are going to be falling off -- losing their coverage, the winnowing funds through Medicaid, the problems with the premiums.

And right now it's in this limbo where they're trying to make changes quickly so they can put a bill on the floor, and Trump surrogates are talking how he's working the phones all weekend and trying to push this ahead. But they don't know what this is right now with all these defections and changes going on.

So that's negative press coverage. That doesn't look good for his winning agenda. And that's the media beating up on him, and as we've heard from all of his surrogates over the last week, when the media beats up on him in a verbal offense, Trump -- Trump says, well, he's entitled to counterpunches. And this is just the most physical manifestation of that that we've seen.

BERMAN: Look, the supporters and people at the White House say he can walk and chew gum at the same time. The problem is, there is no gum here. We see no evidence of any gum in this case. All he's doing is attacking the media. We had that stat up before, where you know, 94 of his tweets have been media attacks, 68 have been about jobs, 29 have been about the military. He tweets more about attacking the media than he does about the nation's veterans and current active service members.

And Errol, you know, there are, again, supporters who paint this as some genius communications strategy: that the president understands how to communicate with people in a modern era that other people don't. This is a tweet from the president himself: "My use of social media is not presidential. It's modern day presidential. Make America great again."

Does he understand something we don't.

LOUIS: No. I think what he does understand, and this carries over directly from his commercial life, is that if you win the race to the bottom, if you say the most foul, repugnant, obscene thing, then people who sort of have things like dignity and, you know, factual truth and other kind of...

BERMAN: Things like dignity, for instance.

LOUIS: Yes. Things like dignity. Then, you know, if you're going to just be vulgar and crude and lie and do all kinds of other different things, you can appear to win the conversation or win the debate at that moment. And this is what Donald Trump has done. He did it all throughout the campaign. We chronicled it for over a year, that you know, he would say the crazy thing that nobody would think was possible.

We saw it with birtherism. For years, he simply lied. He simply made up something. He has never renounced it, by the way. He just kind of throws this stuff out there; and he gets what he wants and sort of turns around and sneers, "Hey, I won."

Well, you know, that's one way to go through life. That's one way to go through a presidency. I think in the end, it creates a lot of the problems that Alisyn just mentioned, where a lot of the agenda goes absolutely nowhere, because there are other people, including in the president's party, who don't operate that way.

CAMEROTA: Well, speaking of repugnant, if you...

BURNS: Over to me.

CAMEROTA: ... Alex, no, if you -- look, we're journalists. We are trained to go to the source of information. That's what we're tasked with doing. If you go to the source of this tweet that the president retweeted of punching CNN, if you go to the guy who -- where we can first find evidence of this video, it's, like, some Reddit account with must the most odious, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, disgusting stuff on there. So that's what the president's retweeting.

BURNS: It's pretty despicable. It's not first time we've seen that, that folks may remember during the campaign there was that episode where the president, then-candidate Trump, tweeted out an image that was clearly produced to be an anti-Semitic image, with a Star of David over a pile of money. And his campaign said it was a sheriff's star, which it clearly was not. Right?

And this is just an example of -- you know, this White House slipping into behavior that was considered unacceptable during the campaign, really trafficking in the dark underbelly of what's on the Internet. It's the kind of thing that would never happen in an administration that was, you know, frankly, staffed by the kind of professionals that you would expect to see in any Republican or Democratic administration.

BERMAN: And, look, this was retweeted by the official POTUS account, the president of the United States' account, so this is an official statement...

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: ... from the White House itself. And...

CAMEROTA: We were told to treat these as official.

BERMAN: And Karoun, I think that's the thing here. Right? We have to start addressing these as official statements, as official policy points from the president of the United States, and this White House likes to have it both ways on that. Sometimes they say, "Well, they're just tweets. Don't pay attention to them as much." Other times, they say the tweets speak for themselves. This is it.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, they point to the president's social media accounts and point at the media for pointing to the president's social media accounts with equal abandon. But, yes, I mean, this is -- this is definitely an official platform for the president.

And the other thing that you have to keep in mind is that there are a lot of people who represent these fringes of the party and the alt- right, so to speak. Even people that are kind of working on behalf of foreign governments that are tweeting at the president various images, various things -- sometimes it's fake news articles, whatever -- in the hopes that he picks them up.

Now, I don't know exactly how he came across this particular clip and decided to retweet that specifically. But -- but people are trying to get these sorts of social media images, these sorts of GIFs, these -- these articles in front of him, in the hopes that he gives them a bully pulpit with his presidential account. And he's shown in various instances that he's very, very willing to do that, like this weekend.

CAMEROTA: So Errol, after Steve Scalise was shot, everybody talked about toning down the rhetoric in Washington, and everybody on both sides of the aisle said that's what was need, that was what was important. You know, you never know, obviously, what the impetus is for some unhinged, susceptible person to do something, of course. But how does the White House justify this in toning down the rhetoric?

LOUIS: Well, they won't. I mean, look, this is one more casualty, actually, of the president's decision to sort of rush to the gutter and get there first and wallow in the mud and dare anybody to sort of, you know, out-demagogue him.

And it's worth pointing out, by the way, that when, you know, he says this is modern presidential behavior, anybody who has, you know, who remembers their classics from high school or college knows that demagoguery is ancient. This is -- there's nothing modern about this at all.

Somebody who wants to sort of ignite the passions and then sort of look the other way and pretend they have nothing to do with it, we've faced this threat, you know, for centuries now. And so the president now joins a long line of people who have tried to mislead the public into believing that what they're doing is fine, when we all know that it is not fine.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you.

BERMAN: Yes. Happy Independence Day, guys.

CAMEROTA: Pre. Pre-independence.

BERMAN: Pre-Independence Day eve. Independence Day eve. We'll be celebrating for two full days.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

Meanwhile, President Trump is preparing for the G-20 summit and his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. So we have some new reporting on what he plans to discuss with the Russian president. That's next.


[06:15:56] BERMAN: President Trump holding calls with five world leaders Sunday, including three in the Gulf region concerning the situation with Qatar. He also spoke to the leaders of China and Japan about the danger posed by North Korea.

The calls, good practice before the president's big diplomatic test, his face-to-face meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. This is the G-20 summit in Germany. Administration sources tell CNN the president plans to focus heavily on Syria and Ukraine in that meeting. He is not expected to talk about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Let's bring back our panel: Errol Louis, Alex Burns, Karoun Demirjian. Karoun, let me start with you here. I mean, this meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is sort of fraught with peril, right? There's a lot to discuss between Syria, Ukraine, hot spots around the world. And then there's the domestic concerns about the Russian meddling in the election here. The president has got a lot to juggle.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, he's facing off against a very worthy adversary. Putin is good at reading people. He's been at this game of politics and international games longer than the president has.

But it's not surprising that he's chosen -- that Trump has chosen to focus on Ukraine and Syria instead of the Russian hacking allegations, the meddling in the 2016 elections. He's shown, or at least his team has shown a willingness to at least take as tough a stance as the Obama administration did when it comes to Nikki Haley at the U.N. talking about why the sanctions against Ukraine are a good idea, when it comes to the strikes that are against -- in Syria, that are against the Assad regime, which Russia sponsors. That's all fine.

Where the president has never been willing to go fully, though, is to actually take Russia on the last serious, you know, bilateral problem we had with them, which is we think you meddled in our elections, potentially for the purpose of helping Donald Trump win the White House. He's never been really able to touch that. He doesn't sound like he's going to be going there this week when he talks to Putin face-to-face. That would be the most bold move that he could take, and it doesn't sound like they're willing to go there.

And it also doesn't sound like this question of what to do with these two compounds that the Russians were using that they were kicked out of at the last administration? It doesn't sound like that's off the table, the option of returning it to them. And that has a lot of people in Congress very, very worried.

But right now, they have no check on the president's authority to -- to make these sorts of deals or talk about pulling back sanctions with Russia, because this bill that they're work on isn't on the table. So there's a lot riding on what the president decides to do coming out of this meeting and whether he can maintain control of it or Putin kind of takes the reins and influences things in the direction that's advantageous to Russia. CAMEROTA: But Alex, if you look at things from the White House point

of view, if you want Russia's help in Syria against ISIS, then that's what you're pushing. And you don't want to talk about the -- what you consider a non-story, as the president has made clear, about Russian interference and meddling. So, you know, that's what -- that's where their focus is.

BURNS: That's what they say. Right? And I think that if President Trump were to come out of that meeting with Vladimir Putin and have some kind of deliverable on Syria or on some other matter of geopolitical importance, it would help them a great deal in making the case that, "Look, there's a reason why we're holding back on the election meddling stuff, because we have other policy goals." You've heard them make that case to some extent after that infamous Oval Office meeting, where the president divulged classified intelligence to other Russian foreign minister.

We haven't seen any deliverables emerge from that yet, right? So right now all we've got to go on is administration officials saying they have policy goals and then the president himself seeming really almost single-mindedly focused on dismissing this notion that Russia had any role in the election last year.

BERMAN: So there is some irony, right? The president unwilling to talk about the Russian role in the election last year, but the president and his allies very willing to look into what they see as voter fraud, with no evidence, around the country.

There's this commission, the vice chair, Chris Kobach of Kansas, asking for voter information from every state in the country; and a number of states have flat-out refused. I think we have a graphic here: Fourteen states say they're not going to provide information to this. They want, you know, Social Security numbers. They want birth dates. They want voting history, you know, how many times they voted in the past. And some states saying, you know, "No, we're just not going to do this."

Errol Louis, what do you make of it?

[06:20:000] LOUIS: Well, that's right. I mean, the -- one important thing they're asking for is party registration, which apparently contradicts privacy laws from the 1970s. There is no legitimate reason to ask for these things. In fact, I think it's not a voter fraud commission so much as a voter suppression effort.

BERMAN: That's what critics -- critics point out.

LOUIS: Well, I don't -- I mean, critic or supporter, I'm not sure what the difference is, frankly.

CAMEROTA: Explain that. How could asking for your party affiliation and your Social Security number...

BERMAN: Last four of the social.

CAMEROTA: Last four and address, how is that voter suppression? LOUIS: Well, it's voter suppression in the following sense. First of

all, ballot security, true ballot security rests on the fact that it's radically decentralized. There's 3,100 counties. There's 3,100 ways of doing elections -- different machines, different voting rules -- even within a single state. That itself provides a layer of security. You don't have one big system that can be hacked. So there's that.

But now, Chris Kobach has a very clear history when it comes to this stuff. He has pursued a theory of voter fraud, as has the president, that has no basis in fact, No. 1, and No. 2, assumes that people are going from state to state casting multiple votes. That -- that is a nonexistent problem.

And we know that the method that they're using to do it involves purging voters, saying that, you know, "You, John Smith, have voted in more than one state, so we're going to kick you off the roles in two or three or four states." It is an error-prone, not evidence-based effort that ends up kicking people off the rolls, and you have case after case that gets reported.

BERMAN: And let's just be clear. It's not just states with Democratic governments...


BERMAN: ... who are lashing back. Mississippi, the secretary of state of Mississippi, a Republican, has a response: "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes."

You know, Alex Burns, Errol brought this up, I mean, this is not happening in a vacuum. Chris Kobach, who is the vice chair of this, he is someone who has been deeply involved, you know, with these voting issues for some time and critics say voter suppression.

BURNS: Right. He's also a declared candidate for governor of Kansas for the Republican primary to navigate. So he's somebody with political incentives of his own in how he's approaching this commission.

But you know, look, I think from start to not finish but up to where we are now, this commission has been assembled and administered in a way that is not designed to gain sort of broad bipartisan support for this effort. It came out of the president's baseless claim that three million people voted illegally. He said he was going to create a commission to investigate this. He selected -- you know, Chris Kobach is one of the most divisive figures on the whole issue of voting rights in the country.

The point at which you have Delbert Hosemann, the secretary of state of Mississippi, just sort flicking off a Republican administration like this and getting in, by the way, a great plug for Mississippi Gulf Coast tourism in the process, that tells you that you have not done a great job of selling the necessity and the responsibility of what you're doing.

CAMEROTA: In fact, just -- just to up the number a little bit, 29, I believe, is our CNN last count -- states are expressing some reservations. Fourteen may be saying outright no...

BURNS: Right.

CAMEROTA: ... Karoun, but 29 are saying, "We don't like how this sounds. And, you know, it's just hard to ignore the idea that this week the president -- I mean, I find this hard to believe that he won't bring up Russian meddling, OK, when he meets with Putin. If he doesn't, he won't bring it up with Putin, who is by all accounts behind the meddling into our election, but he will blame Americans and secretaries of state in 50 states for voter fraud.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes. It's troubling. And it also is troubling because, I mean, the other part of the -- of this not existing in a vacuum is that a lot of these states got targeted by the same sorts of Russian hacks as we've been talking about at the federal level. And there's been an ongoing effort to try to coordinate better between state voter commissions and the federal government, so that they can just alert them to what these threats are so they can improve their processes so they're not as vulnerable anymore.

You already have the suspicion that's just naturally there, even if you didn't have this voter fraud commission happening, of states not wanting to hand over their information or open themselves up too much to federal influence in this department. They're very, very protective of it.

But, you know, now that this is happening, too, you've got that added layer of chilling effect that could happen. And yes, I mean, it's -- if the president decides to take on this issue with Putin in a way that he hasn't taken it on with the American public, that would be truly remarkable. I mean, that is possible, because that's, you know, possible to do closed-door diplomacy that way. But -- but it would be a shift and a really notable one that we haven't seen any evidence yet he's going to attempt.

BERMAN: It would be shocking to see at this point. And unexpected, and I wouldn't go holding your breath.

All right, guys. Stick around. Because really, one of the most amazing stories of the day, talking about government, and talking about, you know, sun-tanning and skin cancer prevention, New Jersey's government shut down by a budget standoff. State parks and beaches off limits for the Fourth of July weekend to everyone, except look at there on the right-hand side of the screen. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie out there enjoying the sun. What's he saying about that? That's next.


[06:29:22] CAMEROTA: The suspect in a deadly road rage incident in Pennsylvania now charged with first-degree murder after surrendering on Sunday. Police say David Desper shot 18-year-old Bianca Roberson in the head as they jockeyed for position at a merge in the highway. The victim's family says she had been shopping for new college clothes with her mom and grandmother just before she was killed.

BERMAN: It's awful.

Qatar has another 48 hours to meet demands imposed by its Persian Gulf neighbors, who severed ties, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism. The Qatari government calls the accusations baseless. President Trump spoke with Gulf leaders Sunday expressing his concern. The White House says he reiterated his message that unity is critical to defeating terrorism, promoting stability in that region.

CAMEROTA: Day three of a government shutdown in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie ordering lawmakers back to work this morning to try to end this budget standoff.