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Interview with Sebastian Gorka; Trump Jr. Told of Russian Effort; Pattern of Not Disclosing Russian Contacts; Marines Killed in Plane Crash. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Had a meeting with the campaign, which the campaign representatives almost immediately realized was not done in good faith. That she had another agenda and that the meeting ended.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, but they want -- what's funny Mr. Gorka, is that they wanted the original agenda. They wanted the dirt.

GORKA: Which is what political campaigns do. But we don't meet on the soil of foreign nations at their embassies to get opposition research. I mean if you want to look at a real story, that's the story. Oh, my gosh, if you want to look at a real story, the 126 leaks of national security importance in the first 125 days. I saw what you did yesterday with Kellyanne, 35 minutes on this one issue. Have you ever, at CNN, dedicated 35 minutes to the 126 leaks against this administration --


GORKA: Seven times the average of the leaks under the Obama administration, the Bush administration. Now that's a story worthy of CNN coverage.

CAMEROTA: We, obviously, cover lots of things along the spectrum, but I know that you do what Kellyanne --

GORKA: Yes, but you -- you -- you play --

CAMEROTA: Hold on, Mr. Gorka, one second, because you do what Kellyanne also does, which is try to deflect back to the Hillary Clinton campaign. I understand that tactic. But the question is that why then, if this was all so on the up and up, did the president's son, Don Jr., not only not disclose it, but didn't actually use the right story when first asked about it? He claimed that the meeting was about adoption, but that wasn't what the real story was. And he's not alone.

I mean let me just pull up this graphic for you of the seven people connected to the Trump campaign somehow. Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, don Jr., Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, none of them adequately disclosed their meetings with Russians until the press found out about it. What's going on? GORKA: Nothing. You heard their statements. You heard Don Jr.'s

statements that told you everything you need to know. He's not even a member of the administration. I mean this is the shocking thing that, again, the amount of time you spend in desperation on a topic that has plummeted you to 13th place in viewership ranking across America. I mean more people watch Nick at Night cartoons than CNN today. I mean that -- that --

CAMEROTA: Our ratings are doing just fine. I mean if you want to go there, our ratings are doing just fine.

GORKA: No, 13th. You're 13th. Nick at Night is 11th.

CAMEROTA: The rate -- what ratings represent is that people are interesting in this and our ratings reflect that Americans are interested in this.

GORKA: Nick at Night is 11th. More people are interested in cartoons.

CAMEROTA: Look, I'm sure --

GORKA: More people are interesting in cartoons than CNN.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure more people are interested in watching "House of Cards" than whatever you're doing as well. However, our ratings are just fine, and the American people say that they're quite interested in what's going on with these Russian ties. But do you --

GORKA: Actually, that's not true. If you -- if you look at the polling -- if you look at the polling, most people couldn't care less. More than 65 percent of Americans are not interested in Russia.

CAMEROTA: That's not true, Mr. Gorka. We have lots of polling.

GORKA: No, in your bubble -- in your bubble, sure, but that's the bubble. That's not the people who elected Donald J. Trump to be president.

CAMEROTA: It's actually a cross-section of Americans and polls.

But, listen, the -- here's the question, which I don't think you're answering, why didn't they adequately disclose?

GORKA: There's no need for a private citizen to disclose his meeting in the campaign that happened months before. This is -- this is -- he's not a member of the administration. He's not a member of the administration.

CAMEROTA: Yes, no, all those people that I just put up are all connected to the Trump administration and they did not disclose it on forms where there actually was a responsibility to disclose it.

GORKA: OK. So they -- you have a list of seven people. OK. So what about individuals who got half a million dollars to give speeches when their wife was running for president? Why is that not something you dedicate 35 minutes to? Bill Clinton got half a million -- CAMEROTA: Because you won. Your side won. You are now in the White House.

GORKA: Yes, and that's why you're attacking us because Hillary Clinton didn't win.

CAMEROTA: That's why the press is interested in what you're doing now.

GORKA: You have to get over it.

CAMEROTA: You are the person who's deflecting to Hillary Clinton.

GORKA: You have to get over it.

CAMEROTA: You're not getting over it.

GORKA: So if somebody doesn't win -- so if somebody doesn't win, if they commit a crime it's irrelevant to American national security? How's that logic work?

CAMEROTA: When somebody wins the presidency, it's more relevant.

GORKA: How does that work? How does that work? When somebody is involved in putting TSSCI (ph) special access program information onto her private home brew server, in contravention of every federal law to do with classified information, the fact that she doesn't win means it's irrelevant to CNN? I mean that is fake news. That's when you're selecting choosing what to look at and you downgrading real crimes and don't look at them and spend nine months looking at something where there's no evidence of anything illegal. Nothing illegal. Not in Don Jr.'s meeting. None of those meetings was illegal. None of them. So why are you choosing what to look at really important things.

CAMEROTA: As you know, Mr. Gorka, the investigation continues. There is no conclusions yet from Bob Mueller. The investigation continues. But --

GORKA: Yes, but you behave like an investigator.

CAMEROTA: Well, I --

GORKA: So why don't you investigate Hillary Clinton? Just because she lost?

CAMEROTA: Mr. Gorka, I'm asking you about your candidate, Donald Trump because --

GORKA: Just because she lost? And I'm responding to your lack of prioritizing in the interest of U.S. national security.

[08:35:00] CAMEROTA: But what is your answer to my question?

GORKA: That nothing inappropriate happened. There's nothing inappropriate. And that we've made the requisite statements. And in comparison to what other political candidates did, especially Hillary Clinton, it is very strange that CNN is obsessing on those who did nothing inappropriate and has nothing to say about people who are doing pay for play, who are involved in selling 20 percent of our uranium to Russia when their husband is getting a $500,000 speaking fee, who are in contravention of every classified information handling rule --

CAMEROTA: Is it possible, Mr. Gorka, that your team is obsessed with the Clintons?

GORKA: No, we'd like you to actually do your job. And, you know, you're not even in the news business anymore. You used to be.


GORKA: You are in the attacking President Trump business. And it's sad.


GORKA: It's really sad.

CAMEROTA: It's interesting, Mr. Gorka -- look, I know that you have to go and I didn't even want to go down this rabbit hole with you, but when you take shots at us and at journalism and at CNN, I do feel that --

GORKA: No, not journalism, CNN.

CAMEROTA: OK. When you take shots at CNN, I do feel that I must respond and just point out that your --

GORKA: That's fine.

CAMEROTA: You called us yesterday to come on here. So why do you want to come on?

GORKA: That's what we do.

CAMEROTA: Why do you want to come on what you claim is a channel that isn't worthy of your answering us?

GORKA: To try and redress the balance of what you did yesterday. OK, well, let me answer the question. To redress the absolute absurd "Alice in Wonderland" of yesterday. When I got home late at night, I watched a clip of your colleague, Chris Cuomo, with Kellyanne Conway, my colleague, the first woman to run a successful presidential candidate in U.S. history --

CAMEROTA: Yes, we've reported that many times. Yes, we know that. Yes, go on.

GORKA: May I finish? May I finish? And when I saw your colleague profess that 35 minutes on something that was wholly appropriate, 35 minutes. When has CNN spent 35 minutes on anything negative to the --

CAMEROTA: Well, just to be -- OK, let me -- just to be clear --

GORKA: It was our -- it was our decision --


GORKA: That we should try and redress the balance.

CAMEROTA: Very good.

GORKA: And you were very gracious to accept it. But if you don't like the answers, that's not my problem.

CAMEROTA: No, I'm looking for answers. But just to be clear, we were trying to be time conscious yesterday. We wrapped Kellyanne many times. She wanted to get her/your message out. And I think that we gave her an opportunity to do that. We talked about many things yesterday --

GORKA: She was marvelous.

CAMEROTA: As we have today.

Sebastian Gorka, we appreciate you wanting to come on CNN. We appreciate having you on and talking about all of the things in the news. Thank you for being here.

GORKA: Thank you. Me, too.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Just for the record --


CUOMO: The question was, these seven people had a duty, an obligation under law to report these meetings. His answer is, OK, you have seven, what about -- and then he moved on to Hillary Clinton. He had no answer. He has a good accent, he has a good delivery, he had no --

CAMEROTA: Well, he says nothing happened. He said there's nothing wrong here. There's no crime. I mean that's what he (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: He said that with Donald Jr., he said that. They had a duty to report. There are seven of them. What was his answer? You just heard it. That is the definition of a nothing-burger. That's what you just heard.

CAMEROTA: Must we keep using that expression?

CUOMO: You know what, sometimes it fits. And even though you put mustard on your burger, which may be the most controversial thing that I've heard --

CAMEROTA: And ketchup.

CUOMO: That's what he does. Does he do it as well as Kellyanne? I don't know. You decide.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" from CNN political analyst David Drucker.

The immediate question is this, we got a little bit of insight into where Gorka's head comes from. He is a very good reflection of a lot of the alt-right attacks that I get on my thread. It is -- it is eerie how similar the phrasing and language is. So using that as a window, David, do you see that? And what is this strategy that if we attack it as fake, or put it back onto Clinton, we'll be in a good position. What is the play there?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it was in -- to me, the interview with Alisyn was really a tale of two interviews because you had first a substantive interview on matters of foreign policy, how the Trump administration --

CUOMO: What he wanted to talk about.

CAMEROTA: And we did, too.


CUOMO: Sure.

CAMEROTA: I do want to hear what the plan is for ISIS, obviously.

DRUCKER: Correct. Excuse me. And we also got a further window into their thinking on Russia, which is to lay off and not press matters.

And then, of course, as you mentioned, Chris, we got the political strategy from day one, which, number one, always attack, always undermine and in doing so you cast a shadow on any critical coverage. And by casting a shadow on any critical coverage, the president's base, and even a broader Republican electorate that has felt for years, with some justification, that the press is biased toward Republicans and so there's a little bit of a lack of trust there, never has a reason to doubt any negative coverage about the president. And when you shift matters to Hillary Clinton, it is like catnip for Republicans who, of all the Democrats that I've covered, even President Obama, I don't think there's anybody that gets the dander of Republicans up more than Bill and Hillary Clinton.

[08:40:33] CAMEROTA: The cat dander. I like that one.

CUOMO: I just think he's sacrificing -- he's sacrificing a very helpful, strategic position for the administration, and it's this. I hope you're still watching, Sebastian. This situation with Don Jr., regardless of any wrongdoing, gives the president of the United States, the White House, to put their arms around this investigation and say, you know what, these Russians were trying to get to us, the Kremlin, not all Russians. There's nothing wrong with being a Russian attorney. But they were trying to do this. It's clear they were trying to do this. Look what they did to my son. We have to find out how to stop it.

CAMEROTA: But here's why they won't -- here's why I believe, David, they won't do this, is because, you heard him, they say there's nothing wrong with the two nuclear superpowers of the world having a good relationship. Their goal is to have a good relationship with Russia. So they won't even dignify the questions that come up seemingly every day or every week about the connection. They don't -- they won't even go down -- they won't even go there. They think that this is all, as you heard him say, you know, sort of this media intervention. And the interesting thing, David, is that regardless of if they answer our questions, there is this investigation continuing by Bob Mueller. So we can just wait to hear what the investigation comes up with. It will reach a conclusion. But in the meantime, we take an opportunity when we see the White House folks to say, hey, do you have any response to this?

DRUCKER: Right. And I think it's about a -- I mean more so than I've seen with past administrations, you always get within a White House a desire not to second-guess the president and not to undermine the president's agenda and the president's opinion. And so with President Trump, this all gets back to his fascination or desire for whatever reason to coddle Vladimir Putin in a way that he will not coddle allies of ours, like South Korea, like the NATO alliance, and like he won't coddle other adversaries, like Iran and North Korea, which is good, which is something he shouldn't do. And so what I'm saying here is that a lot of this is the fruit -- the poisonous fruit of the president's personal Russia policy, which is to not criticize, to try and work together, to try and move past differences, and that is fine if he's doing it on American terms. And if he was doing that, I think there would be a lot less criticism from the right and the left.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line.: Great to see you.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Up next, President Trump sending condolences to the families of the Marines killed in this military plane crash. We have the latest on this breaking news and the investigation, next.


[08:47:12] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

"The New York Times" reporting Donald Trump Jr. was told in an e-mail that a Russian lawyer he would be meeting with last summer was involved with the Kremlin plot to hurt Hillary Clinton and help his father win the election.

CUOMO: Senate leaders are set to map out what's ahead for health care as they meet for launch in Washington today. Republicans are tweaking the current repeal and replace plan. Their hope is to send it to the floor for a vote next week.

CAMEROTA: Well, these 16 Marines killed when a U.S. military plane crashes in a remote Mississippi field. The FBI is on the scene trying to determine what went wrong. President Trump expressing his condolences to the families on Twitter.

CUOMO: Federal agents and police investigating why someone apparently bombed the entrance of an Air Force recruiting center near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thankfully, no injuries reported.

CAMEROTA: Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is the winner of the all-star home run derby. Four of his blasts traveling more than 500 feet. The all-star game will be played tonight in Miami. There she goes.

CUOMO: Did you see the wigs?


CUOMO: Did you see the white wigs that those kids (ph) are wearing?

CAMEROTA: Yes, I did see the wigs. Yes.

CUOMO: Like a judge from olden days because his name is Aaron Judge.

CAMEROTA: Wow, I get it now.

CUOMO: Yankee.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CUOMO: For more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CAMEROTA: All right, a tragedy for the U.S. military. Former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby is going to join us next to discuss his very difficult day for our military.


[08:51:31] CUOMO: We are following breaking news. At least 16 Marines killed after a U.S. military plane crashes in Mississippi. The FBI is on scene trying to determine what went wrong. We've heard from the military that there were no survivors.

President Trump tweeted this morning, "Marine plane crash in Mississippi is heartbreaking. Melania and I send our deepest condolences to all."

Joining us now is CNN military and diplomatic analyst Rear Admiral John Kirby.

It's tough enough to lose our fighting men and women in action. When this happens domestically, we don't know much of the circumstances surrounding this, but what a big blow, 16 lives.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: It's just -- it's incredibly tragic, Chris. Yes, it's a -- you know, it's a dangerous profession, the military. No question about it. And when these kinds of casualties happen in peace -- in a peace environment, it may be a training environment, it's all the more dreadful for all those families that have to undergo this.

CUOMO: Why the FBI?

KIRBY: Well, I don't know. I mean that's an interesting point that I've been watching this morning. I'm not quite sure why they're on the scene. That is unusual for a military plane crash. I'm sure that military investigators are also on scene as well. But I guess we just have to wait and see what they -- you know, what they learn and what they're willing to talk about with respect to how this aircraft came to come down.

CUOMO: And at the same -- you know, the same time, the timing of this, it's never good, obviously. But you had this plane go down. We also have this other story in the news about someone apparently throwing a backpack with a bomb in it at an Air Force. You know, it's one those stories that hopefully brings into sharp focus who the good guys and who the bad guys are here.

KIRBY: Well, yes. I mean let's not jump to conclusions yet on this crash in terms of any sort of mal-intent (ph). But, yes, but --

CUOMO: No, there's no suggestion of any wrongdoing. We haven't heard anything. But I'm just saying, attacking the, you know, the military, going after an Air Force recruiting trip, you know, just when we see the sacrifice of our men and women before our eyes.

KIRBY: Yes, you know, there's -- it does speak -- that incident does speak to this incredible disunity in the country and the way it's being manifested in attitudes and the vitriolic behavior that we see and the vitriolic rhetoric. And I think it's -- I think it is worth noting, and worth reminding ourselves that this is an all-volunteer force. That every single member in uniform raised their right hand and took a promise to defend the country. They weren't drafted into this. They volunteered to do this. And that -- that requires a little bit of a special sacrifice on their part certainly, but it also, I think, requires us, as citizens, to respect that just all the more.

CUOMO: You can't say vitriolic rhetoric without saying Sebastian Gorka here on NEW DAY, John Kirby. I say it with a smile on my face because we know it's artificial. We know that, you know, this is a tactic or what I call an "attack-tic." But, you know, as somebody whose served in the government, you get your direction from the boss about how to conduct yourself and you get rewarded with opportunity when you do it well. What do you think, what we've seen here with Gorka? This isn't the first time, by the way, that he's come on to play this way. What do you make of that as a window into the approach to addressing the American people?

KIRBY: Yes. I was a little stunned. I watched the whole interview. I mean, look, obviously he wanted to talk about Mosul and the success that that coalition has had. I think it's important to keep in mind that that operation actually began in October and even months before that under the Obama administration were shaping operations done. So let's not get into that.

[08:55:02] But then when he got into the issues they don't want to talk about, things that they are defensive about, he simply just did a spin maneuver, like a football player, and just kind of spun away from Alisyn to sort of deflect it on to other people, rather than simply just answering the question. And, look, I've been saying this for months, if there's nothing there,

if they're right about this, if there's absolutely nothing to this, then just fully embrace these investigations. Cooperate with them. Just wrap your arms around this whole effort and then move on. I don't understand why they're so defensive and get so hyperbolic and shrill when they talk about this. It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't comport with what they're actually saying. So it's the attitude doesn't comport with the actual words coming out of their mouth.

CUOMO: Right. And to extend the metaphor, he spins -- he does a spin move, but he spins out of bounds. He winds up not moving the ball down the field because every criticism must be fake.


CUOMO: There is no legitimate criticism. There's no question that you can ask if it doesn't support what's going on that is seen as legitimate.


CUOMO: So do you really advance the ball when you make it so extreme that way?

Anyway, John Kirby, this is going to be a continuing discussion as we learn what happened in this story that truly matters to those 16 military lives. We'll come back to you and get some perspective about how we move forward here. But, John, always a pleasure. Thank you.

KIRBY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: CNN will continue, obviously, to cover that story because CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman picks up after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.


[09:00:06] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.