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Voter Information Request Partially Rejected; Trump Offering Contrasting Thoughts; Trump Slams Media; Trump Meets Leaders at G-20. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired July 6, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:33:34] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's voter fraud panel is stymied by a growing list of states who are refusing to supply voter information in part or altogether.
Joining us now to discuss this is Ken Blackwell. He's a member of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity and former Republican secretary of state of Ohio.
It's good to have you, sir.
KEN BLACKWELL, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION: Good morning, Chris.
CUOMO: What do you make of these concerns of various secretaries of state about the information that was being requested?
BLACKWELL: Well, many secretaries of state are just as I am instinctively a federalist. They protect their turf and they are very, very resistant to federal government control of a process that has found its genius in the fact that we have 50 states that control the elections in their -- and the election information in their state.
What I find interesting is that, you know, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused to give any of the information to the commission, even that information that has to be made available publicly. You have others who are resistant to give information that they think goes against the laws and rules and regulations of their states.
[08:35:01] This is a process where we had to keep our eyes focused on what the objective is. The objective is to protect the oldest democracy in human history, and that is the United States of America's election system. It is not a perfect system. It is a system in constant need of review and constant need of observing and identifying threats to the integrity of the system and taking corrective action.
BLACKWELL: And I think that's the overall general mission of the commission. CUOMO: Well, that seems to be. The suspicion goes down to what the
inception and conception of this commission is really all about. I mean there are critics who have said that this is basically the president's squandering resources, putting personal data at risk to rationalize his statement that everyone knows is false, which is that there were 3 million illegal votes, that that's what started this for President Trump and now it is a commission in search of a problem.
BLACKWELL: No, no, it's not. I think the commission has a very clear understanding. And Vice President Pence articulated it well. Our system is based on a concept of one person, one vote. We must make sure that the ballot box is accessible with not any undue restrictions to access by each and every voter. But at the same time -- and that we've concentrated on this in the last 15 years -- we must make sure that not one legitimate vote is negated by an illegitimate vote. And I think understanding those twin objectives is very important to understanding the mission of the system. I just heard you with your previous guest talk about a threat of manipulation of election systems at the state level by the Russians. I am sure the Chinese, the Iranians and others with technological capability will try to manipulate our system. I think that there are folks who have untoward objectives in the United States that will, in fact, try to mess with the system. We have to make sure that we are out in front of those attempts to manipulate and corrupt the system.
Chris, this is what I tell people. I -- when I --
CUOMO: But you're not doing that with this commission though. That's not what you're doing with this commission. You're not looking at Russian hacking at all. You're trying to get people's personal information.
BLACKWELL: Come on, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, I mean, that's what you're requesting.
BLACKWELL: I've been in this --
CUOMO: That's what you're requesting is people's Social Security Numbers and their party affiliation.
BLACKWELL: Well, no -- well -- what -- what we -- there are states that will not release that, and that is understandable. The question that is before us is, how do you protect the vote -- let me just give you an example. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won Ohio by a little under 12,000 votes. That was less than one vote per precinct in Ohio. If you had just flipped 6,000 votes, Ford would have remained president and Carter would have gone back to Georgia. That's how important one vote in one precinct is. And, therefore, this commission is looking at, how do we protect the people's right to have their vote counted when it is legitimately and legally cast, and, how do we, in fact, make sure that there are protections against outside threats and manipulations.
BLACKWELL: But, Chris, let me say -- look -- CUOMO: Yes, the criticism is that it doesn't seem to be conceived in a way to succeed in that objective --
BLACKWELL: Well -- well, I -- I think that --
CUOMO: Because you're asking for information arguably you'd never want public, right? You'd really never want --
BLACKWELL: Well, you know --
CUOMO: You know, you said in the letter that this may become public and you're asking for Social Security Numbers.
BLACKWELL: Well, Chris --
CUOMO: And it doesn't seem like the commission is set up to cure a problem that people have looked at and found doesn't really exist.
BLACKWELL: Chris -- Chris -- Chris -- Yes, Chris. Well, I -- you know, there are those who would want -- there are those who would want to kill the commission in the crib. You know, that's pure nonsense. There are organizations that understand that our voter rolls across the country are corrupt. They're -- and that corruption is a vulnerability and an opening to folks who might want to change the result of an election.
What we have to work on is an articulation between the 50 states and the District of Columbia --
BLACKWELL: In counting -- in counting ballots. Who can be against that? That is what this commission is in place to deal with. Only those who would want to give --
CUOMO: But how would the commission do it? The information that you're going to get from these states --
BLACKWELL: One, we'll do --
CUOMO: Is largely public information that's not -- according to forensic experts who do this, they're saying the information you'll get from the states won't help you in any real way to analyze what role is legit and what isn't. And the information that you're asking that may become public would be dangerous --
BLACKWELL: But, Chris --
CUOMO: And the -- expose people to identity theft.
[08:40:10] BLACKWELL: And, Chris -- Chris, Chris --
CUOMO: Yes, sir.
BLACKWELL: One, that information won't be made available. I think what's important to understand is that what we need to do is to make sure that we are advancing best practices and enhancing their articulation between the systems. In terms of voter registration, there is technology. The question is, is there a will to make sure that we clean up our voter rolls, to take away the opportunity for illegitimate votes to be cast negating legitimate votes. And I just gave you an example of how one vote per precinct is important. So, we don't have to chase 5 million, you know, alleged corrupt voters. We, in fact, have to be concerned about one vote per precinct because that can change the course of history and the well-being of the United States of America.
This is a commission with a legitimate objective and mission. And we're going to get it done. And we're going to get it done working in a bipartisan fashion. You know, Secretary Gardner and I had the pleasure of working in bipartisan effort when we were treasurers, when we were secretaries of state and now as a commissioner -- as commissioners on the integrity -- election integrity commission. That's going to get done. We have a history. Ohio, our elections are managed by a bipartisan systems, two Democrats, two Republicans in all 88 counties. We have a history of working in a bipartisan fashion and we're going to get it done.
CUOMO: Well, look, I respect the optimism. Everybody wants more accuracy in our elections. I just --
CUOMO: We'll have -- we'll have to hold out hope that with the reluctance of these secretaries of state and the kind of information you're going to get that you can make this kind of progress that you want. But I appreciate you making the case on NEW DAY.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, sir. We don't want naysayers, we want folks who are optimistic and who say, let's get this done because the quality and the integrity of our democracy turns on us getting it done.
CUOMO: Absolutely, but you've got to have the right information. It's got to be done the right way.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, sir.
CUOMO: Be well.
BLACKWELL: Oh, absolutely, and we've got to -- we've got to look at all threats, including Russia, China and what have you when it comes to the vulnerability of our state systems and the in articulation between state systems. We can -- we can make a real contribution. And -- and it falls within the mission statement of this commission. So let's -- let's get that done.
CUOMO: Agreed. Ken, thank you.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new concerns this morning for the Republican Congressman Steve Scalise shot during that early morning baseball practice last month. We'll have an update on how he is doing this morning. That's ahead.
[08:47:03] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."
Number one, President Trump on his way to G-20 summit following a major speech in Poland. The president recognizing NATO's mutual defense clause, calling out Russia for what he called destabilizing behavior. Tomorrow he meets with Putin.
HARLOW: Earlier today, though, during a press conference with Poland's president, President Trump slammed President Obama, took on the media, questioned the U.S. intelligence community and said that Russia was not the only one to interfere in the U.S. election.
CUOMO: President Trump says he's considering, quote, "pretty severe things" to counter the growing threat from North Korea. He's also urging other nations to show Kim Jong-un there are consequences for his actions.
HARLOW: Hobby Lobby agreeing to pay a $3 million fine to give back thousands of ancient artifacts that will end a Justice Department lawsuit. The DOJ says dealers falsely labeled the artifacts to get them into the country.
CUOMO: Congressman Steve Scalise is back in the ICU. His office describes the new concern being about infections. The House majority whip was shot in the hip during practice for a charity baseball game last month. We will continue to monitor his progress.
HARLOW: Of course.
For more on the "Five Things You Need to Know," go to cnn.com/newday for the latest.
CUOMO: All right, so President Trump appearing to offer contrasting thoughts on Russia this morning. How is it going to play into the one- on-one with Putin tomorrow? That's "The Bottom Line" and we're getting it from David Axelrod, next.
[08:51:07] HARLOW: So this morning, President Trump affirming America's commitment to NATO, calling on Russia to end, quote, "destabilizing activity," specifically in Ukraine. This was all during his speech earlier this morning in Poland. But, before that, he took on the media and also did not take on Russia for its meddling in the election in his joint press conference. Really different approaches.
Let's get "The bottom Line" with CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod.
So, let's just listen to some of the moments that stood out most from the press conference this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. And I won't be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it's been happening for a long time. It's been happening for many, many years.
Now, the thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August.
They say he choked. Well, I don't think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and he said let's not do anything about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: So, in the same, you know, few moments he said, you know, I think it was Russia but it may have been others as well and he didn't go after Russia. But then he went after the president, his predecessor, former President Obama, for not going after Russia. What do you make of it?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, it was inconsistent. I mean I -- you point out the obvious -- the obvious contradiction there. But what I was thinking is, can you imagine what Donald Trump would have said last fall if the president of the United States had, you know, more than the intelligence community did, if he had stepped forward and said Russia hacked our -- hacked into the DNC computers and Russia was trying to tip the election to Donald Trump? Can you imagine what Donald Trump would have said? Look how reactive he still is about that suggestion. He would have gone ballistic at that moment. So there's a lot of disingenuousness there.
But what was really striking was, you know, he delivers a paragraph of mild chastisement to the Russians in the speech a few minutes later, and that also was sort of inconsistent with what he said in that press conference. If I'm Putin, I'm watching all this knowing I'm going to meet with him very shortly and I'm thinking, I can maybe play this guy. There's room here for me.
And one thing I'm thinking of, Poppy, is that in 1961, John Kennedy, at about the same time in his administration, went to Vienna to meet with Khrushchev and Khrushchev found that he could push Kennedy in ways that Kennedy didn't want to be pushed. And what followed was the Cuban Missile Crisis. What followed was the erection of the Berlin Wall because Khrushchev thought there was weakness on the part of the American president. So I'm wondering if he's watching this press conference saying, I can work with this guy.
CUOMO: So from the Trump perspective, the White House perspective, why on the world stage go after your own media, go after your own intel? You're standing next to Duda, you know, the Polish president, who's criticized for cracking down on this. You know, these situations are supposed to be about putting out American virtues. What was the play there?
AXELROD: Well, look, he went to Poland in part because Duda is an ally in terms of philosophy and approach. And he promised him a warm welcome and a large crowd, which he delivered to Trump.
But, yes, they're allies also in this notion of fighting the press. Duda tried to keep the press out of the parliament from covering the parliament. He was pushed back on that notion. So they share that in common.
[08:55:01] But the really striking thing is later he spoke to American values. But it's one thing to read (INAUDIBLE) to free speech, to the rule of law off of a teleprompter. It's another thing to live by those tenants when you're governing. And the contradiction between that press conference and the principles he read off the prompter in that speech was very striking.
HARLOW: How do you think, David, final word here, this president sets himself up for his meetings at the G-20, particularly with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron given the speech that he gave in Poland, the very populist message that he gave in Poland?
AXELROD: Well, one thing he did do is check the box on Article 5. That will probably be well-received. But in other ways I think that he made it more difficult, lecturing them again on their contributions to their own defense. And also this notion on immigration, which is a very divisive issue in Europe. He took the opposite side of the argument for most of the European leaders who are struggling with this issue, also on trade and climate change, which got no mention from the president. So there are a lot of issues that separate them.
CUOMO: All right, Axe, appreciate "The Bottom Line." We'll see how it all plays out and we'll come back to you for your take and analysis. Always a plus.
AXELROD: All right. Have a great day, you guys.
HARLOW: Thanks, David.
CUOMO: "NEWSROOM" with a man named John Berman is going to pick up right after the break. Has to be lonely in his world today.
[09:00:08] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. John Berman here.