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Trump Intensifies Attacks on Attorney General in New Tweets; Free Agent Derrick Rose Signs With Cleveland; Interview with Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired July 25, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:32:27] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A major victory for President Trump's voter fraud commission. A federal judge in D.C. ruling in favor of the administration's effort to collect voter data. The judge denying claims that the commission's request for state voter data violates constitutionally protected privacy right. A separate lawsuit alleging the commission was set up to discriminate against black and Latino voters is pending in New York.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Cooler air relieving the Northeast of steamy weather as the West faces threats of severe flooding.
CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray has the forecast.
What do you see, my friend?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, let's start with the good news and that's the Northeast. Those temperatures feeling very, very nice.
By the way, this weather report is brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.
Look at this, we should be at 84 this time of year. In New York City today will be at 72, 77 on Wednesday, 79 on Thursday.
Temperatures feeling nice up and down New England. Few showers out there, but overall temperature also feel good, get the showers out of the way. It will be very nice.
Meanwhile, we're going to stay hot across the center part of the country, as well as some storms in the upper Midwest for this afternoon. Temperatures well into the 90s, 95 in Little Rock, upper 90s across much of Texas. The monsoonal moisture still there, Alisyn, a lot of major flooding happening around the Four Corners.
CAMEROTA: OK, Jennifer, thanks so much for keeping an eye on it for us.
So, President Trump stepping up attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one tweet after this morning. But why would the president fire one of his most loyal allies? Could the real target be special counsel Robert Mueller? We break down how that works, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[06:38:09] CUOMO: President Trump intensifying his attacks on everyone, but specifically his top law enforcement officer. After calling Jeff Sessions, the attorney general of the United States, beleaguered, the president tweeting this morning that the A.G. has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes. Where are emails and DNC server and intel leakers?
He then went on to attack the acting head of the FBI, suggesting that he had been paid off by Hillary Clinton.
Joining me now is Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general and president of the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Ken, have you ever heard of anything like this from anybody in any position of leadership, let alone a president of the United States?
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I suppose so, but --
CUOMO: Give me an example, Ken.
CUCCINELLI: Never in any --
CUOMO: Who have you ever heard doing anything like this?
CUCCINELLI: I was just going to say, I was just going to say nothing like anything beyond a small little business.
CUCCINELLI: You know, and it certainly is phenomenally distracting even to just Jeff Sessions doing the job of the Department of Justice. As he said, he's going to keep doing his job, keep showing up and that's what I would do if I were him.
CUCCINELLI: That's what I expect he'll do.
CUOMO: How, though, Ken?
CUCCINELLI: It detracts from the broader agenda of the president.
CUOMO: Right, but let's take one at a time. He's doing this for a reason.
CUCCINELLI: This doesn't stop anything they're doing in the department.
CUOMO: Well, but how does it not -- you know, how does it not stop everything? If you had the president of the United States calling you out, consistently, not meeting with you, how do you focus on anything about other than whether or not you need to leave? CUCCINELLI: Well, because you're a professional. And look, remember
the night that Comey was fired, I remember sitting on panels, and listening to everybody say oh, there will be no more Russian investigation.
[06:40:02] It's all going to come to a stop p blah, blah.
That's just not right. I mean, there's -- all the professionals the FBI kept doing their job every day, the counter intelligence effort went on every day, and look, what goes on in the Department of Justice is overwhelmingly carried on by professional, day-to-day professionals and Jeff Sessions leads them, directs them. He is still doing all of that.
This is embarrassing. It's frustrating for him, but it doesn't stop him from doing his job unless he lets it. And I think he's made it very clear he isn't going to let it stop him from doing his job.
CUOMO: Do you think that this is an none too subtle indication that Jeff Sessions is not long for this job?
CUCCINELLI: Well, look, let's look ahead one step. Let's say Jeff Sessions were no longer the attorney general. Can you imagine, can you imagine the confirmation hearings for whomever followed Jeff Sessions?
I have a hard time, frankly, seeing anybody get through that right now, anybody, no matter how good they were, as a simple matter of partisanship combined with the hand wringing of many of the Republicans in the Senate, in a 52/48 Senate where John McCain may or may not be available to vote anyway, and he'd be one of the hand wringers. So, I don't see that as a possibility.
CUOMO: I hear on that. David Gregory was making a similar point, but I don't -- let's dig into that for just one second because -- all right, so let's say Jeff Sessions leaves or the president moves on and says you have to leave, and it happens.
He then puts somebody in, maybe even comes to Ken Cuccinelli and says, here's the deal. You know, you're totally qualified for this job. The Republicans like you. We have the numbers.
Let's just get one thing straight. You're not recusing yourself from anything to do with this and I want the special counsel gone. Are you good with that? Yes, I'm good with that, Mr. President.
He has the numbers in the Senate. I don't get where the confidence comes from that the Senate is going to move against the president, when they have not stepped up, not the leadership, and not any significant number of Republican senators or congressmen to criticize anything that he has said or done.
Where is your confidence they'd step up in a confirmation hearing?
CUCCINELLI: Oh, I don't agree with that. I remember sitting with Jake Tapper at the intro to one session a week or so ago and he just rattled off Republican after Republican after Republican who were making critical remarks. I think you see a lot of hesitation, not outright criticism but you'd see hesitation to the point of not moving nominations forward among some Republicans.
I mean, you've got Lindsey Graham, John McCain would undoubtedly be sensitive, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski. You're going to have a whole cadre of senior Republican senators that are going to be particularly prickly about moving any nomination forward, and I think that leaves Jeff Sessions right where he is, continuing to do the job with this continuing rain of, you know, Twitter annoyance, but he will do the job.
What won't happen is the rest of the president's agenda will be slowed down by this distraction.
CUOMO: How so?
CUCCINELLI: Capitol Hill is distracted by it.
Well, because if this is what you're talking about, look at when he had that lunch with the Republican senators over health care. Suddenly, that whole day, and into the next, was spent by Republican senators talking about oh, gosh, how can we solve this problem? I mean, he generated as president using the bully pulpit. He generated movement at least substantive discussion about how to solve the problems they were confronting on health care.
He can do that as president. He can't do that if he continually beleaguers himself with the Twitter feed.
CUOMO: He sees it as a source of strength, though, Ken. He sees this as his calling out the sewer, distinguishing himself from career politicians. You know, it was a big part of the motivation to hire Donald Trump was that he was an outsider, he was different. You don't see this as just enhancing --
CUCCINELLI: He's different.
CUOMO: -- that image?
CUCCINELLI: No. No. I mean look, he had a unique formula for winning the presidency, and his direct connection to the American people bypassing every other channel was absolutely critical to winning that race, absolutely critical, and for whatever anybody wanted to say about whatever he thumbed out, he used it spectacularly. He used it brilliantly, but I do not think that the way he has used it in the office of president has been helpful to him, like it was when he was campaigning to become president.
CUOMO: It's an important distinction.
Ken Cuccinelli, always appreciate you here on NEW DAY, making the case, making us better.
CUCCINELLI: Chris, good to be with you.
CUOMO: Always. See you soon.
CAMEROTA: Chris, let me tell you about a sports, something I know a lot about.
[06:45:00] CAMEROTA: A new point guard for LeBron James. Derrick Rose signing with the Cavaliers, I'm told this is basketball. So whose days are numbered? We have details in "The Bleacher Report", next.
CUOMO: Got some drama brewing in the Cleveland Cavaliers shop there, all this talk about Kyrie Irving getting traded. Last night they signed free agent Derrick Rose. It's going to be plus and minus on that. Curious to see what LeBron James thinks of this whole thing.
Coy Wire has more in "The Bleacher Report."
What's your read, my handsome friend?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, listen to this, man. Former number one overall draft pick Derrick Rose will take a 90 percent pay cut to play for the Cavs and a chance to win an NBA title. Rose made $21.3 million with the Knicks last year. Well, he just signed a one-year veteran minimum contract for $2.1 million to play in Cleveland. He wants to play alongside King James. He wants to go chase a ring.
King James tweeted out some Rose emojis when he found out the news saying "Let's rock, G."
Still no word from Cavs all star current point guard Kyrie Irving who previously asked to be traded, according to reports.
[06:50:02] We'll see how that pans out.
With the addition of Rose now, this is the crazy part, the Cavs and the Warriors who have met in the last three straight NBA finals now combine to have all of the NBA MVPs, from 2009 to 2016. Those are some super teams, as they say, Alisyn. It's going to be another good season I do believe.
CAMEROTA: Let let's rock, G. I like that. I want to say that more often.
CUOMO: You just did.
CAMEROTA: Let's rock, C.
Thanks so much, Coy.
So, will the president sign a bill that slaps new sanctions against Russia? Republican Congressman Will Hurd, next.
CAMEROTA: So, the House is expected to pass a bill today that would hit Russia with no sanctions as punishment for its election interference. The measure also would limit President Trump from easing or altering those sanctions without congressional approval.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee and has spent nine years working for the CIA.
Congressman, thanks for being here.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
CAMEROTA: Safe to assume you will vote for these new sanctions against Russia for election meddling.
HURD: Very likely. Russia is our adversary, but not our ally. They were obviously involved in trying to manipulate our elections, and we should be doing everything we can to try to prevent that from happening in the future, and I think this is a good step in that direction. But we also put additional sanctions on North Korea, and Iran.
[06:55:04] Iran has continued to support terrorist organizations that are trying to attack U.S. men and women in the military, and North Korea has done over 17 missile launches in the last few weeks, and there's additional sanctions on them as well.
CAMEROTA: OK. So, given all of that, what do you make of the president's spokespeople, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Anthony Scaramucci not saying with any certainty whether the president would sign this bill?
HURD: Well, we're going to find out when it actually gets to his desk. It will pass in a bipartisan way here in the House. It will pass in the Senate. The Senate already passed similar legislation.
And so, I'm pretty confident that, when it gets to his desk he's going to sign this, and codifying the law what most of us here in the House believe that Russians need to be stopped from further activity, asymmetrical warfare especially targeting us and our elections.
CAMEROTA: The president has not been clear about whether or not he believes it. He certainly doesn't believe it as vociferously as you just stated it. Why doesn't he?
HURD: You're going to have to ask him that question, and you know, I've spent 9 1/2 years as an undercover officer in the CIA, had the honor of serving shoulder to shoulder with some real patriots, chased Russian intelligence officers all over the world. Asymmetrical warfare is their tool. They want to get back to the territory and integrity of the USSR and this is something that I saw in my career and I see now, and we're going to continue to fight to make sure they change their ways.
CAMEROTA: If the president were to veto this bill, what message would that send?
HURD: Send a pretty bad message, and I think it would be uproar I'm hearing in the House and Senate. So, I think -- I think this is going to go smoother than most folks are anticipating, but we will see.
CAMEROTA: The president has been busy this morning tweeting. There's been quite a tweet storm this morning. A lot of it seems to be directed at his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Yesterday, he described the attorney general as beleaguered.
This morning he said that, well I'll just read it to you what he says. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very, in capitals, weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes. Where are emails and DNC server and intel leakers?
What do you make of how he's publicly criticizing his own attorney general?
HURD: Well, I think the attorney general and the president probably need to sit down and deal with their issues, and I think this is a distraction from other activities. It's a distraction from being able to talk about things like how do we have a counter covert influence strategy against the Russians? How do we make sure that we look at what our response was to the Russian hacking and what should it be again in the future?
We know the Russians are going to likely try to do this again 2018 so we should be prepared for that. And so, I think this is an important position, our government, in having this fight out in the open is good for nobody.
CAMEROTA: Jeff Sessions, just to remind people, was one of the president's earliest and most loyal supporters. As soon as President Trump, then candidate Trump decided to run, Jeff Sessions was sort of all-in. He also left two decades of service in the U.S. Senate to, and seniority to go and become part of the president's team as attorney general.
Does Jeff Sessions deserve this?
HURD: Well, that's something you are going to have to ask the president. I haven't been following every step and every move he's made.
I will say this, when it came to him stepping down and refusing himself from the Russia investigation, that was the right move, because of his intimate involvement in the Trump campaign. I do believe he was one of the first senators to endorse and support president Trump early on in the primary process. So, his involvement in that organization from an early stage was a reason why it was a right move in order to recuse himself from this investigation.
CAMEROTA: Yes, he was the first actually to be supporting President Trump's candidacy. What if the president fires Jeff Sessions?
HURD: Well, then someone's going to have to be nominated and go through a pretty grueling Senate confirmation. If this does happen, I feel sorry for the next person to have to go through the Senate and it's going to be a pretty rough and tumble process.
CAMEROTA: Jared Kushner, scheduled to speak in front of a house panel with your staffers today. What do you want to know?
HURD: Well, I think he outlined many of his, you know, what happened when it came to the meeting with lawyers, potentially representing the Russian government. He outlined his contact with Russian officials. I think unpacking some of the things in his statement is going to be important.