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Strong Storms Could Spark Floods in Midwestern U.S.; Scaramucci Calls for Inquiry After "Leak" of Financial Form; Heads of Military Caught Off Guard By Trump Transgender Ban. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 27, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:38] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: North and South Korea marking the 64th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. But there are growing concerns that Pyongyang might conduct another missile test. A U.S. official telling CNN they expect the North will be able to launch a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the mainland U.S. within the next year.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A congressional aide who worked for several Democrats including Debbie Wasserman Schultz is facing a federal bank fraud charge. The FBI says Imran Awan and his wife misrepresented themselves on a loan for a rental property as part of a scheme to wire money to Pakistan. Awan was arrested on Tuesday moments before boarding a flight to Qatar. Wasserman Schultz has terminated his employment.

CUOMO: A paparazzo taken to the hospital after police say pop star Justin Bieber hit him with an SUV. It happened when the 23-year-old singer was attempting to drive away from an event in Beverly Hills Wednesday night. We're told the photographer suffered some minor injuries. Authorities say Bieber cooperated with them and actually tried to offer assistance to the paparazzo. No citations were issued. All this comes as Bieber canceled the rest of his world tour, of course, starting another circle of speculation among this troubled young man.

CAMEROTA: But it sure looks like he didn't intend it. I mean, from the angle, it looks like he couldn't see him.

CUOMO: There were no citation offered. We've all seen those scenes, there's a swarm around the truck. The guy wants to leave.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, strong storms packing gusty winds and torrential rain. It could cause severe floods in the Midwest.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

What are you seeing Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, severe flooding going on in the Kansas City region right now. If you see a barricade on your work, do not drive around it. If that means there's high water somewhere in front of you. Seven inches of rainfall fell in parts of Kansas City since 6:00 last

night. There's flooding going on right now. Now, across Upstate New York, we'll get some rain. New England, we'll get some rain, but not the flooding that they're seeing now.

We will see Memphis with some heavy rainfall today, even Nashville. I think the major threat for any flooding over the next two days will be West Virginia and parts of eastern Virginia and northern North Carolina where some spots again, six to eight inches of heavy rainfall.

This is tropical rainfall, Chris. It just feels like the tropics outside and it's raining that heavy.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, my friend. Keep us updated. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

Conservative media outlets criticizing the president. Think about that. Why? His treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Are they turning on him? What is the president willing to do to get back their favor? We'll talk about that in a moment.


[06:38:07] CAMEROTA: OK. So, late last night, there was this mysterious tweet that was later deleted from White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. He seemed to suggest that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was leaking information about Scaramucci's finances saying: In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting FBI and the Justice Department, #swamp @reince45.

Well, Scaramucci has since denied he was accusing Priebus of leaking.

Let's find out what our guests think. We have editor of "The Weekly Standard", Bill Kristol, and CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show", Ben Ferguson.

Ben, what's going on here?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think, one, he's mad his information has been put out there so quickly, especially when he says leaks have been a huge problem, and they have been around this White House. I do not believe though --

CAMEROTA: Right. He's mad at Reince Priebus.

FERGUSON: Yes. I don't -- I think he was tagging Reince because they both agree that the leaks are a problem. I mean, Reince has been very clear at the White House, especially recently, that leaks are a massive problem. I don't -- I do not believe for a second when he tagged him he was accusing Reince Priebus of anything.


BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Oh really? FERGUSON: I think he was making clear to the White House staff -- I

mean, look, I've talked to people at the White House literally yesterday, I can tell you, if there's anything these two men agree on, it is leaks and the problem of leaks.

KRISTOL: It isn't a leak.

FERGUSON: They may not be best friends.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Bill.

KRISTOL: This is a public -- why is it called a financial disclosure form? Because it's meant to be disclosed.

CAMEROTA: To the public?

KRISTOL: Yes, yes. If you're a reporter or member of the public and you file a request with the Office of Government Ethics, that's what the "Politico" reporter did. Scaramucci filed this form when he went to work in his previous job at the Export-Import Bank I think it was. It was available after 30 days. Thirty days was Sunday.

The "Politico" reporter was intelligent. She asked for the document. She reported on it.


KRISTOL: What's very revealing here is Scaramucci and people defending him are calling it a leak.

[06:40:04] That is fake news. It's not a leak. It's a public disclosure form. And think what it says about one of the top aides of the United States being so willing to cavalierly call something a leak that's a public form.

CAMEROTA: There you go, Ben. It's not a felony. You can call it a leak if you want.

KRISTOL: You can't call it a leak. It's not a leak.


KRISTOL: It's a public disclosure form. I went to work in the government, in the White House, and I had no assets at all, you had to file a form. You can call up 30 days later and say how much does the vice president's chief of staff, you know, what was his income two years ago or within a range? What are his assets?

That's what it means to work in the public sector. If Anthony Scaramucci doesn't want his form to be public, let him stay in the private sector.

CAMEROTA: Ben, your response.

FERGUSON: Two things here. One, I think the timing of it and how quickly it came out, I think he thought it was not within the time frame of the 30 days you have --

KRISTOL: He's wrong. He's wrong.


KRISTOL: There are these things called facts.

CAMEROTA: Ben, that's wrong.

FERGUSON: OK, Bill, Bill, I said this is what I think he was thinking at the time. So hear me out before you go after me on this one, and actually listen to where I think he was coming from.

The first point is this, I think he thought when it came out quickly like this, it was obviously done in a leaking fashion which was not in an orderly way, which was not going through the appropriate channels. I think that's part of the reason you saw this tweet deleted afterwards.

But it still goes back to a bigger point that I think he was trying to make when tagging this, also with Reince, saying look, we aren't going to allow more leaks coming out of the White House, and there have been an awful lot of leaks that have come out of this White House. We've been talking about those leaks now for months on end. It was a bigger point that he made in this situation.

I'm not disputing the fact that after 30 days -- when he did have that first job he got with this administration, he had to put in a financial disclosure. No one is disputing that. The fact is, though, there's a massive problem with people when they don't --


CAMEROTA: I understand that.

FERGUSON: And they say, I'm going to leak information.

KRISTOL: It's unfortunate Donald Trump is not a good enough manager to prevent his administration from leaking. That does not mean that Anthony Scaramucci --


FERGUSON: That's a politically ignorant comment I've heard on leaks. Every administration has leaks, Bill.


KRISTOL: Is it a worse problem with this White House or not?

FERGUSON: I think if you look at --

KRISTOL: I think he said it was the worst problem, right?

FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish. I think you had a lot of leaks that came out early on when George Bush was elected. You also had many people that came out afterwards and were removed from that administration. You had a lot of leaks that came out during Bill Clinton's time, if you remember, especially when Whitewater was coming out. There are leaks everywhere in the White House.

To imply that the management style of this president is the reason the leaks were coming out, it's insane to imply it's his responsibility when people leak information which, by the way, is a felony when you leak --


KRISTOL: He shouldn't employ people who are committing felonies.

FERGUSON: Many of the people that were leaking were there before Donald Trump got there. You cannot say that the leak --


CAMEROTA: That's not what Anthony Scaramucci is --

KRISTOL: That's not what Anthony Scaramucci says.

CAMEROTA: Scaramucci is suggesting it's coming from top advisers.

Listen, here is a larger theory and that is that every time we talk about leaks, we're not talking about the substance of policy and in fact, perhaps, the president wants to divert away from things that he's not yet been able to get done such as health care and wants to talk about leaks and it's a red herring.

For instance, and I just want to get to this because I think this is really important, the president has been talking, as we know, a lot about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and publicly criticizing him.

So many in the conservative media, big voices, influential voices say enough already. This is not helpful. This does not help you stay on your agenda. So, let me play for you all -- there's a theory that, if you've lost Rush Limbaugh, you're losing the argument.

So, let me play for you some of these voices that are annoyed with how the president is handling this.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Attacking Jeff Sessions was still a useless, self-destructive act. The first rule in politics, as in war, as in life: don't shoot the friendlies.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It's also kind of -- a little bit discomforting, unseemly, for Trump go after such a loyal supporter this way, especially when Sessions made it obvious he's not going to resign.

CARLSON: He's likely the most effective member of the Trump --

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Bill Kristol, I mean, "Weekly Standard" is obviously been weighing in on all this as well. So, what does it mean when the White House is losing some of the conservative voices?

KRISTOL: Well, they deserve to lose them because Trump has revealed his character. He's a bully. He wants to fire Bob Mueller. Sessions is in the way because Sessions has recused and Rosenstein won't do it. He wants to force Sessions out, try to make a recess appointment as attorney general and have that recess appointed attorney general fire Mueller. That's what this is all about.

Sessions has been a good attorney general from Trump's point of view in terms of policy, a loyal supporter of Trump. It's deeply revealing about Donald Trump.

And I want to say, I don't like this narrative that Trump and Sessions are in a fight.

[06:45:02] Trump has attacked, tried to bully Sessions. Sessions has been doing his job.

CAMEROTA: Ben, how troubling should it be to the president that he seems to have run afoul of Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, et cetera?

FERGUSON: Yes, look, I'm one of those that I don't think you have this play out in public. I've said that on my radio show, for example.

I do think that some are trying to overplay this. If you listen to what Limbaugh said there, his advice was, this isn't exactly how he would do this. I don't think he's lost support of many in the conservative media. But many in the conservatives like myself disagree with Donald Trump in some days on how he handles certain things.

I remember John Ashcroft. There were disagreements over NSA wiretapping with the president. There were very intense debate and disagreement between the president and John Ashcroft at the time. You never saw it play out in public.

But let's also remember this, Donald Trump is a guy that's done business. And in business, when you have a relationship that's not going well, you make changes and don't wait years to do. You wait months. And so, that's his management style.

So, I do think it has to be put in the context of, look, Donald Trump says, if it's not a relationship that's working, if I don't like it, I'm willing to make the change regardless of what the political timetable is.

I do say this, moving forward, I do think the president probably should look at this and say, hey, maybe this should be something that we have internally, not necessarily in public and tweeting it out because it does not help you with pushing your other agenda forward, and it does fracture the party a little bit. That might be something in the future he'll look at again. CAMEROTA: Ben, Bill, thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: All right. So, on the campaign trail, the president vowed to protect the LGBT community. Now he says transgender people can no longer serve in the military. The military chiefs were caught off guard by this. What is behind all this? We discuss it next.


[06:50:43] CUOMO: All right. We have to deal with something that just happened here that has major implications and no good explanation. President Trump says transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, a proposition condemned as obvious bias. Let's look at why that is.

First, the president's rationale. Our military must be focused on victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous cost transgender in the military would entail. Cost, disruption, no proof offer of that proposition or any cost-benefit analysis that was done in putting this position together except a political calculation. We'll talk about that in a moment.

The numbers, however, show the exact opposite of what the president suggests. A study commissioned not by us, not by the media, not by someone you don't like, by the Department of Defense. It estimates medical costs for transgender related services to be between $2.4 and $8.4 million a year. Now, that's a healthy range. But either way, look what percentage it ends up being of the overall budget.

The Rand Corporation says it would represent an increase in the budget of the Defense Department of just 0.01 percent to 0.04 percent of the $50 billion that the Pentagon spends every year on health care for the military.

For context, the military spends more than $84 million a year on erectile dysfunction pills. Words I always wanted to say on television -- including $41 million on Viagra alone. Did you know that? Well, that's according to the "Military Times".

Another cause of questioning this position, it reportedly took the Pentagon by surprise. What does that mean? The White House in all likelihood generated this. It didn't come from the Pentagon, foisted upon the White House.

It's not just progressives who don't like it. John McCain is saying, quote, there's no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military regardless of their gender identity.

Orrin Hatch put it more simply, transgender people are people.

So that's what they're seeing. What about what president Trump has said. Just one year ago, listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- BT is starting to like Donald Trump very much lately.

You tell me who is better for gays? Who is better? Tell me.

Who is better for the gay community and who is better for women than Donald Trump?

As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.


CUOMO: He even waded into the transgender bathroom debate. You remember that? It was a big stick for the political right. Here is what he said.


TRUMP: People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.


CUOMO: That's what he said. But, remember, so many people around the president say don't pay attention to what he says, pay attention to what he does. Well, now, we know what he's going to do on this issue and it is disturbing certainly to the LGBTQ community.

Now, what they're saying when asked about this topic after all the rhetoric you just heard is this --


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- else to add on this topic. As I do, I'll keep you posted. If those are the only questions we have, I'm going to call it a day.

REPORTER: Mr. President, how did you decide your policy on transgender people in the military?

TRUMP: You go ahead. She's very rude.


CUOMO: She's rude.

Rude is disrespecting an entire group of Americans who serve or want to serve their country, and for no good reason. Why is it happening? Is it a play to the political right like the vice president trying to win favor after shaming Jeff Sessions? Or is it simply to shame the LGBTQ Americans, a group that Donald J. Trump swore to protect?

Joining us to discuss this is CNN military analyst and former commanding general in the U.S. Army, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, as people should know -- I rely on you all the time for the

right way to look at situations that regard the military. How do you see this?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Chris, there's a couple things to look at. First of all, what happened, how it happened and why it happened?

[06:55:02] First of all, in a matter of seconds, as soon as that tweet appeared yesterday morning, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marine were affected. I'm not just talking about getting the news. I'm talking about some who might be deployed, some who might be in hospitals after being injured, some who are serving in command positions.

And they all woke up seeing this surprise and saying, holy smokes, what am I going to do? How is this going to affect me? I'm in service that I love. What is going to occur? And they've been serving there for years.

Secondly is how it happened. It was sent out. The Department of Defense did not know. They were caught flat-footed. All the service chiefs told the secretary of defense just weeks ago that they wanted a little more time to do some analysis and to do some research. The secretary of defense sent a letter out at the end of June saying he was going to delay operations within the LGB -- specifically the transgender issue until December of '17. So, he was caught flat footed as well, no matter what the White House says.

And then there's the policies and the procedures that have to take place to say what are we going to do next? It was a goat rope yesterday.

And then finally, you got to it in your introduction, why did it happen?

And I've got to tell you, a lot of military experts I've talked to, both serving and former serving have said they don't know where this came from, transgenders are serving well as part of teams now. It is the continual effort to move forward in terms of diversity in a military that represents the diversity of our country.

So, again, when you're talking about 1 percent of the U.S. population that serve, depending on the numbers you place in terms of the numbers of transgenders in the service, the upper end might be around 6,000 in the active force, we really don't know. That's what the Rand report says. That's about an army brigade combat team, that's two marine expeditionary forces or that's a carrier battle group personnel under way.

So, it's a lot of people who are doing quite well as part of the military teams. A lot of us said we don't get it, don't understand. And the cost rationale that was thrown out there just didn't seem to link up with what research had been done.

CUOMO: Well, it seems, you know, that the rationale either way fails. Either some say it's such a small number, it doesn't matter. Well, if it's such a small number, then it's de minimis and you shouldn't be ostracizing an entire group. And if it's a big number, as you suggest, and it's going to have a meaningful impact, well, then, you shouldn't do this because it's going to hinder the military, which is supposedly the aim, which is to make the military as effective as possible.

So, you take on the last aspect, why it's happening. Do you think this is just a naked political ploy to shore up the president's standing with a culturally conservative right after maybe getting them upset over how he's dealing with Sessions? Is this a make good?

HERTLING: Yes, I don't know. If it is, it's very short term and not strategic in nature and it's hurting people. To use the president's term, it's mean to people who volunteered to serve their country.

I'll go back to the numbers again. If it is 6,000, Chris, that's 6,000 out of 1.5 million people in uniform. That's less than 0.004 percent. So, it's just a small number, and there are indications there's no issues whatsoever in terms of either costing -- you put up the Viagra piece a little while ago. I think that's been thrown around in the last couple days, too, we spend more on Viagra -- everybody is now getting upset about Viagra.

Someone should know that those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder have a significantly higher rate of erectile dysfunction than others. That's what Viagra and Cialis is being used for, part of the treatment of thousands. So, all of these things just don't make sense.

CUOMO: No, you know what? First of all, that's a fair point. We shouldn't disparage people with legitimate medical need. That wasn't my intent. It was just to show if they're worried about pleasing a sensitive cultural minority, you know, they could look at lots of different categories.

But you're right. You outline the right issues. And I appreciate it. General, thank you very much.

HERTLING: Always a pleasure, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Pleasure is mine.

And thanks to our international viewers, thanks to all of you for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, there is a lot of palace intrigue. We need to get to the bottom of it and we will. Let's get after it.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There are some senior people in here that are leaking on each other. I would tell my colleagues to stop doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is that a lot of this disorder is coming from the top, from the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to be doing the business of governing this country, not spending all of their time and energy pulling their knives out at each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that Republicans in the Senate won't go and deal with this now is absolutely embarrassing.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Determined to do everything we can to succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have before us now are a series of bad, badder and baddest choices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a girl scream "help," and I look over and I see her fly out.