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President Posts Controversial Tweet Targeting CNN; President Will Reportedly Not Discuss Russian Meddling in U.S. Election with Vladimir Putin at G20 Summit; President Trump Escalates War On Media; Interview with Rep. Jim Himes. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump is preparing for the G20 summit and his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.

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: The president unwilling to talk about the Russian role in the election last year but very willing to look into what they see as voter fraud around the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Monday, July 3rd, 8:00 in the east. Chris is off this morning. John Berman is here to celebrate the preholiday with me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All day today and tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic. Great to have you.

Meanwhile, President Trump ramping up his personal vendetta against the media. This morning he's facing some growing backlash for posting a strange wrestling video of himself attacking CNN.

BERMAN: So despite keeping very busy posting videos and attacking morning cable hosts, the president is still finding time, he says, to prepare for this week's G20 summit in Germany. Sources tell CNN that when he meets face to face with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time, he will not bring up the Kremlin's interference in the United States election.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House. Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. The president is going to spend much of his day at Bedminster before he returns here to the White House late in the day. It is here where he will be hosting military families on July 4th for the celebrations. But he spent much of the weekend using his bully pulpit not to push forward the Republican health care legislation or other policy issues but rather to ramp up his attacks of the media.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

MALVEAUX: 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, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It is an incitement to violence.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is very disturbing. There's nothing lighthearted about it whatsoever.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: 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 Adviser Thomas Bossert first shown the video on ABC, insisting the president is not inciting violence.

THOMAS BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don't. But I do think he is beaten up in a way on capable platforms that he has a right to respond to.

MALVEAUX: The president tweeting a barrage of anti-media tweets 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, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE 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 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 media with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea, and working on his health care bill, he is 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, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The fact of the matter is they can do more than one thing at a time.

MALVEAUX: But some Republicans say his behavior could have serious consequences.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: People are begging the president not to do this. And 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: The president has a critically busy week ahead. And this morning he is tweeting about it, saying he will reach out to the leaders of France, Italy as well as Germany. And he has also said he spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia regarding Middle East peace yesterday. This all ahead of an overseas trip. He leaves on Wednesday. He is heading to Poland first then to the G20 summit in Germany. He also has a face-to-face with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. John, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Suzanne, you've given us a lot of food for thought. Thank you very much.

Let's discuss it all with CNN political analysts April Ryan and Alex Burns, Karoun Demirjian, Congressional reporter for the "Washington Post." Great to have all of you here with us.

So Alex, you may or may not have heard this, but he said you guys in the media, you keep falling for these things. The president tweets out just don't cover it. Just don't touch it. But he would not spell out, I asked him, which of the president's statements we are to take seriously and which we're supposed to dismiss. Do we have an answer to that?

[08:05:17] ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": No, we don't. But I think the way you sort of prosecuted that question with the congressman and the way you just outlined it now points to the inherent disingenuousness of the argument that's made on the other side, this idea that the president can say whatever he wants and then pick and choose which elements we're supposed to take seriously. That's not how it works when you're the president of the United States. It's not how it works when you're a candidate for president of the United States.

I do think, look, Republicans have done a masterful job so far of picking and choosing what they want to respond to that the president says. Laughing off certain kinds of things, condemning the tweets last week about Mika Brzezinski, saying very little over the weekend about the video that was tweeted that was, in some ways, much more violent. But that's not a luxury that the media has. Frankly, I don't know that it's a luxury that Republicans have indefinitely. When you see poll after poll showing voters think is this is harmful to the president, bad for the country, at some point you do need to draw a line.

BERMAN: It's funny because this morning the president almost on cue has been writing about what he's doing today almost as if to send the message look, I'm actually working, doing the nation's business. He says I'm going to be speaking with Italy this morning, I'm going to be speaking with Germany and France this morning. He spoke with leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East over the weekend, April Ryan. The White House is trying to say look at all these things he's doing. But it is hard to separate when what he does with who he is. And part of the problem is that we get a window to who he is, the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, with some of the other statements he has been making over the last 48 hours.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So john, yesterday I guess he was modern presidential with that tweet and today he was traditional presidential.

John, we have peeped into or peered into this president's mind-et behavior for a very long time since he was running for president and even before. For some it does not surprise them. And even last week when the tweet came out about Joe and Mika, you know, the rationale from the podium in the White House briefing room of Sarah Huckabee Sanders was that people knew who they were getting.

But what is really at stake and I really haven't heard this in the conversations today or yesterday, you know, you have so many people talking about the constitution and the rights of the constitution, but no one is getting at the point that this is challenging the democracy, challenging the First Amendment. And now you're throwing in violence.

And it was shocking to see what the homeland security adviser said yesterday to Martha Raddatz. It was clear it's violence. If you hit someone, if you pound someone, if you pummel someone, that's violence. And it had a CNN logo. It was violence against a media outlet. And people are listening. And I just pray that it does not crescendo into something bigger than this. This president has influence. Even though he has very low poll numbers and his disapproval rating is very high, he still has influence over that certain sector that believes he's genuine and feels like they are him.

CAMEROTA: So Karoun, you're in the halls of Congress every day, as we've discussed. For all of the Congress people who were so rightly appalled and sickened with what happened with Steve Scalise and opening fire at that Republican baseball game, is this the unity that they called for after that event? Is this the lowering of the rhetoric?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Clearly not, clearly not. I think this goes to the difference between what members of Congress were feeling very genuinely because it was an attack on their fellow members of Congress versus what the president seems to have said and then forgotten about several hours later.

But going back to another point you were just discussing with April, I think that this is -- the president is doing this and he's directing his fury at the media now with punches in this video, as we've seen, and we're criticizing him because of that. But at the same point, because we are criticizing him because of that we are not spending the same amount of time on the air criticizing various details of the policies being debated in Congress right now, the health care bill that the president is pushing. We didn't talk all that much about the travel ban last week because we were talking about some of these tweets.

So in that regard, yes, this is something that is clearly needing to be scrutinized, but it plays better with his base than the type of scrutiny that we might otherwise be doing with this time. And so in that way, yes, it's shocking what he's saying. It's shocking to members of Congress. It's shocking to Washington, D.C. It's not what anybody wanted. But it might be what the president wants. It's just he wants less negative coverage for what he's doing as president, take the negative coverage what he's doing as a person, it doesn't play that poorly with his base, as it didn't during the campaign. And so if it's one or the other, this might be better for him.

[08:10:06] BERMAN: Look, it's an interesting strategy if, in fact, it is a strategy, if in fact it is that deliberate. Who knows? I just want to go back to what Alisyn was saying. I just want to remind people what the president of the United States did say after the Steve Scalise shooting, welcome healing remarks in that moment. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I think a lot of people would point out that as journalists like to thing we are working together for the common good, testing the systems in place and testing leadership. That's what's going on here, and that's what the president was calling for there, but not here.

BURNS: No, that spirit is clearly gone from the president's public remarks, and including his tweets. I do think that in addition to just the substantive shift away from trying to promote that tone to promoting something like the opposite, it's a huge political sacrifice for the president, and I think a lot of people would say a huge political error to give up the kind of high ground that a president can achieve in that kind of moment. You've seen it over and over in recent history. President Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, President Bush certainly after 9/11, President Obama after so many mass shootings where the president seemed to rise above everything that was divisive and made the country small.

And President Trump in that moment, I think you have to say, was one of the most pitch perfect of public appearances of his presidency. And if he had been able to extend that into other elements as his performance as president and conduct in his office, I think it would be harder for his critics and political opponents to go after him.

CAMEROTA: April it's going to be a big week for the president. He is going to be meeting with various world leaders at the G20 and he's going to have his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin. There is some CNN reporting that the White House is not planning to bring up election meddling with Putin because they want to focus on Syria and fighting ISIS, but it's hard to imagine he wouldn't bring up the elephant in the room. What do you think we can expect this week?

RYAN: Well, one thing about this president, as people are saying, he's genuine. And I believe he will be true to himself. And he doesn't necessarily follow the scripts that they offer him. And we'll see what he says.

But I can definitely say that national security, as they have in the past, and those who work with intelligence, are briefing him. We know that in the past there are always three topics that the president and the president of Russia would talk about. These sidebar conversations would have three topics, and we assume that right now the three topics that they are prepping him for would be Syria, would be also North Korea and also the Ukraine, especially since he met with the leader of Ukraine recently. Who knows what this president will talk about? When he was in the Oval Office not long ago with the Russian ambassador, he talked about Comey. So this president does not have filters. He does what he wants. But we will see. We will see if, indeed, the topics we believe should be on the table and are said to be on the table will be on the table. We'll see if he brings in some other sidebar comments. So it just remains to be seen at the end of the week.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all those insights.

Another story to tell you about. Passengers flying from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. can now bring their laptops into the cabin. In March the U.S. banned electronics larger than cellphones in cabins on flights from eight countries, fearing that bombs could be concealed in them. The restriction were lifted Sunday on that airline because apparently the carrier put tighter security measures into place.

BERMAN: Scary moments for passengers on a United Express jet landing in Denver on Sunday. The left engine caught on fire, take a look at that, forcing the evacuation of more than 60 on board the plane. A passenger tweeted photos of the emergency responders using foam to put the fire out. He also tweeted his thanks to the pilot and crew for getting passengers out safely. Thankfully, there were no injuries.

CAMEROTA: That's scary.

So it appears that Russia's election meddling will not be a focus when President Trump meets face to face with Vladimir Putin later this week. A Democrat on the House Intel Committee is going to join us to discuss what the president should be talking about with Putin.

[08:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: This morning, CNN is learning about the focus of the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit later this week. He plans to talk about Syria, Ukraine but not necessarily Russia's election meddling that is at the moment not expected to come up.

So let's discuss all of this with Democratic congressman from Connecticut, Jim Himes. Congressman Himes serves on the House Intel Committee, which is investigating Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Do you know whether President Trump will bring up Russia's meddling with President Putin?

HIMES: You know, trying to predict President Trump is a fool's errand. You know, I have to assume that there is going to be a lot of discussion about Syria, which will be very important, referencing the situation in Ukraine, which is also pretty dire.

I have very little confidence that the president will bring up the Russian attack on our voting system last November. You know, he denies that it occurred and then he comes around and blames it on Democrats.

I mean, it's just -- you know, I don't know where his head is on that and it's a big deal, Alisyn, because you know, right now Vladimir Putin is saying to himself I got away with that.

And you know, you've got German elections coming up. We've got an election coming up in November of '18 and if the president doesn't lay down a really tough marker and do other stuff as well, we'll see this again.

CAMEROTA: So if he doesn't bring it up, and I find it hard to believe that he would bring it up, but if he does not bring up, what does that tell you?

HIMES: Well, you know, he has had a blind spot on Russia, generally. I mean, again, I've said this a million times. He will criticize everyone, the cast of Hamilton, your network. I mean, it just goes on and on, the list of people he will criticize including internationally.

He criticized these other countries, but he will not criticize Russia, and you know, this is one of the many questions that those of us who were involved in the investigation are curious about, why is there this blind spot?

And then of course, specifically with respect to the hack, again, he has been all over the place on it. You know, it didn't occur. It's a big hoax. Then he seemed to acknowledge that it occurred.

You know, I have no idea how he will approach this with Vladimir Putin, but I am pretty sure that if he doesn't completely change his tune, the message to Putin will be we got away with it. CAMEROTA: It's possible -- I mean, I'm imagining what the White House is thinking here that if they want to focus on Syria and Russia's help in Syria and fighting ISIS that they would say, you know, they don't want to, obviously, poison the well with talking about bringing up election meddling.

HIMES: Well, yes, but these meetings have been going on for as long as we've been a country. Whenever you sit down with somebody like the Russians, like the Chinese, there's an agenda and there is a couple of tough things on that agenda and a couple of areas where we work together.

That's certainly true of the Chinese. It's true of the Russians. Look, the Russians are critical to helping us enforce the Iran nuclear agreement. The Russians were really critical to that deal.

And that deal took a major national security threat off the table. So this is not a strange thing. This is not a new thing. Usually when you have these meetings, there are some very difficult conversations mixed in with areas where there is meaningful common ground.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about the House Intel Committee and what you guys are up to and if you're making any progress in finding out some answers about Russia meddling and whether or not there was any sort of collusion.

We understand that you may be interviewing Michael Caputo, the former communications adviser to the Trump campaign. Can you tell us anything?

HIMES: Well, we're working really hard to try to keep the actual day- to-day activities of the investigation quiet. The reason for that is that, you know, people -- we want people to come in front of us voluntarily. It's nice not to have to subpoena people.

We really think it's important that they be able to come and speak frankly behind closed doors unless we do open hearings, which I do expect you'll hear more of.

But anyway, I don't want to get into individual witnesses other than to tell you, Alisyn, that the pace has picked up pretty dramatically. There are interviews happening every week.

We are getting good information. We are reviewing documents. So, things are going pretty well. Where this all leads, you know, still early to say, but the investigation is proceeding well.

CAMEROTA: OK, good to know. Do you have any response to what the president tweeted this weekend where he retweeted this video of some sort of Wrestle Mania, you know, action where he's punching somebody with a CNN logo on his head and wrestling him to the ground?

HIMES: Yes. Do I have a reaction? You know, here we approach the Fourth of July, our national holiday where we celebrate the freedoms and the liberties that we have. Pretty much every other president before this one has understood that the media is absolutely essential to our liberty.

And of course, you know, the media is tough. The media is sometimes unfair. You know, go back a hundred years ago and look at the way the media acted, you know, kind of in the turn of the 20th Century, absolutely brutal.

But every other president has understood that the First Amendment and the freedom of the press is the First Amendment for a reason, which is that media is an important thing.

Dictators attack the media and you know, in combination with a couple of other things, you know, just the outrageous, divisive, quasi, violent NRA video that we saw come out last week, I sometimes sit back and say, my God, where is this country going? Does it have any leadership that has any idea what the real meaning of freedom and liberty is?

CAMEROTA: Have the calls for unity that were so prevalent after the terrible Steve Scalise shooting from Capitol Hill, the calls for ratcheting down the rhetoric, have those gone way in Congress?

HIMES: They haven't gone away in Congress. Remember, when the president put up his tweets criticizing Mika on "Morning Joe," the Congress was united. I mean, you saw most Republicans saying that kind of language and that kind of disgusting personal attack has no place in our politics.

So actually, you know, Congress remains sort of partisan and divided place, but when it comes to sort of the basics, we're pretty united. Why the president can go from calling for civility shortly after the shooting of Steve Scalise to disgustingly characterizing Mika Brzezinski.

And then, of course -- I mean, again, I feel like I'm in a Roadrunner or Bugs Bunny cartoon, putting up that video, which apparently was produced by an anti-Semite that shows him beating up somebody with a CNN logo.

I mean, my God, this man is the most powerful person in the world, president of the United States, and this is what he is doing? I'll tell you that unites the Congress more than it divides it.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Jim Himes, have a nice holiday. Thanks so much for being with us.

HIMES: OK, thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, you heard it right there. The president is ramping up his attacks on the media. He posted that video, showing him body slamming CNN. Did it go too far? Does that make America better? We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We won and they lost. The fact is the press has destroyed themselves because they went too far. Instead of being subtle and smart, they used a hatchet, and the people saw it right from the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was a veterans' event over the weekend, by the way.