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Crossing Trump's Red Line; Trump's Calls to Mexican President and Aussie P.M. Leaked; Training Camp Nightmare For Miami Dolphins; White House Feud Brewing: McMaster Vs. Bannon. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired August 4, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- Mueller following the money and crossing President Trump's red line.
We will get reaction from a Democratic senator, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were no Russians in our campaign. There never were. We didn't win because of Russia. We won because of you, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: President Trump railing against the Russia investigation at a campaign rally in West Virginia last night, calling it a total fabrication. But, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is widening, not winding down.
Joining me to discuss, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. He's the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, you heard the president right there tell a campaign rally in West Virginia we didn't win this campaign because of Russia, we won because of you. Is he right?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, John, first, it's good to be with you.
There is no question that Russia tried to influence our election. That is now well established. They tried to influence the election in favor of Mr. Trump. There were many connections between Russia and representatives of the Trump campaign.
The investigations that are taking place are going to give us some of those answers. But there is no question that Russia was active in our last election.
[07:35:07] BERMAN: So -- but you're not suggesting that the president won the election because of Russia because that's what he told the crowd last night.
CARDIN: No, I'm not suggesting the outcome was determined by Russia, but we do know that Russia tried to influence the outcome of our election. That's a very serious matter.
And we also know there were contacts made with representatives of the Trump campaign. That's very disturbing.
So the investigation will give us, I hope, the answers for two reasons. People need to be held accountable but we also need to protect ourselves against further activities from Russia. They're clearly going to try this again in the future and we've got to protect our democratic system of government.
BERMAN: There were major developments in the last 24 hours, at least major developments that we learned about with the last 24 hours here.
One is that a grand jury is issuing subpoenas in this case for data, documents, and witness testimony in the Russia investigation. And, CNN also learning that the investigation is delving into the president's finances -- looking into the Trump Organization some.
Now, Kellyanne Conway suggested overnight that this could be considered a fishing expedition.
Jay Sekulow, who is the president's private attorney, suggested that this might be outside the purview, outside the scope of the investigation.
What's your reaction to that?
CARDIN: Well, Mr. Mueller needs to follow all leads. Information that he determines needs to be further investigated, he has an obligation to follow that information. He just can't let it sit on the table, so that's his responsibility to make sure that all the questions are answered.
We don't know where this is leading. We don't want to prejudge it but we do know that there are very troubling signs.
And it would be helpful if the president would acknowledge Russia's involvement in our elections. He's -- he always tries to indicate there was no involvement. There was.
BERMAN: We'll get to the president on how much pressure he's putting on Russia in just a moment, but I do want to stay on the finances here.
How far is too far? Should there be a limit into how much Robert Mueller should look into or could look into, in terms of the president's finances?
CARDIN: Well, clearly, there has to be information that was obtained as a result of this investigation. He can't start a new investigation for different reasons. That would be handled through the Justice Department in a different manner if additional information is discovered.
But what he needs to do is have a thorough investigation --
BERMAN: If it has --
CARDIN: -- into all the connections with Russia.
BERMAN: If he turns up financial improprieties that have nothing to do with Russia, are those legitimate things -- threads to pull on?
CARDIN: Well, he will make the judgment whether it's important for him to do it as far as his investigation or whether he will recommend a separate investigation on a matter that's not related to his original charge. That's a decision that will be made by Mr. Mueller.
BERMAN: All right.
On the subject of Russia, the president wrote about Russia. He was talking about the sanctions imposed by Congress, a bill signed by the president and you were very active in pushing these sanctions through the Senate and also one through the House, as well.
This is what the president wrote about this.
He said, "Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time and very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us health care."
He blamed Congress for the bad relationship with Russia.
Bill Kristol, over at "The Weekly Standard," noted he's blaming America, it seems, for what Russia has done.
CARDIN: Well, that's exactly right. Russia's responsible for the deterioration of the relationship between the United States and Russia.
Russia attacked us in our election system. Russia has invaded other countries in Europe. Russia is interfering in a peaceful way to end the conflict in Syria.
It's Russia's activities that have caused this relationship.
What Congress did was give the president a stronger hand in dealing with Mr. Putin. Now it's up to the president to use the cards that we've dealt to him to make it clear to Mr. Putin that the United States will lead with our European allies and isolate Russia economically if they don't change their behavior.
BERMAN: We learned yesterday that the president thought he had a very pleasant phone call with Vladimir Putin early on in the administration.
There were leaked transcripts of phone calls that the president had with the president of Mexico, the prime minister of Australia on January 27th and 28th, shortly after he was inaugurated.
Just first and foremost, are you comfortable that these transcripts were leaked?
CARDIN: No. I don't think the transcripts should have been leaked.
We've had reports on both -- on the Australian call was well reported so I don't think it was a surprise to read the transcripts.
In regards to Mexico, there was new revelations.
But those transcripts should have never been released, but they're not surprising. I think we all understand it.
We know that Mr. Trump is very sensitive about the wall. We know he has no support in the Congress to build a wall on our total border.
So it's not a surprise to hear what's in it but that information should not have been leaked.
BERMAN: Well look, I have spoken to Republican congressmen who are supportive of a wall in some form. Leave that aside for a moment.
[07:40:00] I just want to be clear here that you think that the leaking of these transcripts could have a chilling effect on a president -- any president's willingness to have private conversations with foreign leaders.
CARDIN: Oh, I think it also works that foreign leaders will be concerned about what they say to the President of the United States because they made read it in the paper. So I think it has a chilling effect on the candid discussions between world leaders talking with the President of the United States. I agree with that.
But let me -- to repeat, the wall. I don't think you're going to find a lot of support in Congress that we think Mexico's going to pay for our southern wall.
BERMAN: Well look, and the Mexican leader has made clear he's not going to pay for it and in his conversation he said --
BERMAN: -- that he's not going to pay for it.
And what came out is the president asked him repeatedly just stop talking about the fact that you won't pay for it --
BERMAN: -- because it puts me in a bind.
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
CARDIN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Alisyn --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John. A little sports for you.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Up next, a pair of rain delays could not dampen the competition between the Cubs and the Diamondbacks.
Highlights in a -- what's that? What's happening there? I like dance moves during sports.
We have highlights in the "Bleacher Report."
[07:45:10] CAMEROTA: So there was this dramatic rescue in Southern California after torrential rains caused severe flooding. This is in the city of Acton and you can see a man being hoisted there to safety after being trapped in his car in the floodwaters, the storm washing away the roads.
So how is it looking today?
Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. He has our forecast. Hi, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Better today. Hi, Alisyn. Happy Friday.
This weather is brought to you by Xyzal, the allergy medicine for continuous 24-hour allergy relief.
That man that got picked up the helicopter wanted to take his skateboard from the back of his pickup as well and the helicopter guy said no, can't take the skateboard. You know, priorities, depending on where you are.
Now there is some rainfall in parts of New York City right now, and even a flood advisory for the city itself. We could see some standing water maybe up to about the curbs, but that's about it.
The rest of the day, storms build upstate, all the way through parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The rest of the country remains fairly dry.
There will be, still, some showers in California, New Mexico, and Arizona -- that flash flooding we see all the time in the summer.
But the bigger weather is right over Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Rochester. But the temperatures are nice all weekend long.
BERMAN: You are nice all weekend long. Chad Myers, thank you very, very much for that.
All right. There is not fate on earth worse than being a Miami Dolphins fan. I can't imagine being that type of person. And now, their starting quarterback has suffered an injury during the preseason. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
You know, it's always the worst thing that could happen to an NFL team. You know, losing your quarterback during the preseason.
The Dolphins Ryan Tannehill going down on a non-contact play yesterday, hurting his knee. The team fears now that he's going to be lost for the entire season so that means the Dolphins, they are in the market for a quarterback.
Many are wondering if Colin Kaepernick will now get a shot with the Dolphins, but Miami is actually where he received one of his coldest receptions from fans last season. Many were not happy with him because earlier in the season he had worn a t-shirt with Malcolm X and Fidel Castro on it. Miami, of course, has a huge Cuban population.
Jay Cutler also another option for the Dolphins. He currently is retired and planning on calling games for Fox this season.
All right. The Diamondbacks and Cubs had a rain delay yesterday. The guys in the bullpen decided to play charades and this was an epic battle.
The Diamondbacks going here with the bobsled. The Cubs then countered with Carl Edwards, Jr. sitting there fishing. It looks like he caught a live one.
Arizona would then go bowling and they pull off the always tough seven-pen split. And the Cubs, they would concede after that bowling exhibition right there, guys.
And I'll tell you what. The guys in the bullpen, they love downtime so lots of time to think of fun things to do like that.
Who do you think won? I personally liked the bobsledding the best.
CAMEROTA: Hmm, I like the fishing but I just would like that so much more than the actual game.
If all athletes could do that all the time I would go to games.
BERMAN: This is the only time I've seen Alisyn Camerota --
BERMAN: -- interested in sports in any way.
CAMEROTA: I'm riveted by this.
SCHOLES: It's unique. I'll tell you what --
CAMEROTA: And entertaining. Andy, thank you very much.
OK, reports are intensifying -- are of an intensifying feud between National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Chief StrategistSteve Bannon. What's going on in the White House and can Chief of Staff John Kelly stop it?
[07:52:20] CAMEROTA: Remember when the Trump administration and conservative media were going after former National Security Adviser Susan Rice for, quote, "unmasking names of people in the Russia investigation?"
Well, there's a development this morning. CNN has learned that current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has sent a letter to Susan Rice telling her she can keep her security clearance.
And, "Bloomberg" reports that McMaster thinks Rice did nothing wrong.
So our two guests have been following this story very closely and reporting on it.
We have "Bloomberg View" columnist Eli Lake, and senior writer for "The Weekly Standard," Michael Warren. Great to have both of you here.
Eli, I'll start with you.
So, the fact that Susan Rice keeps her security clearance, can we conclude that that means that H.R. McMaster has decided that she did nothing wrong?
ELI LAKE, COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG VIEW: Well, I should clarify here that H.R. McMaster did not do any kind of internal investigation and then cleared her or anything like that. His view was that this was not anything that was improper, which is also the view, I should say, of many Democrats who have vocally sort of said nothing to see here.
That's not the view of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and it's certainly not the view of the president.
And, you know, I have since been told that the letter that gave her these clearances was not related in any way to his personal view that he shared with colleagues and people who've talked to me after my piece.
BERMAN: Did you think, Eli, though, that he would have allowed for the security clearance had he had, you know, direct concerns that she had willy-nilly unmasked, you know, all kinds of people?
LAKE: It's really had to say and I want to stay -- I don't want to go that far as I'm trying to follow the facts and I'm not inside McMaster's head. As I said, I spoke to someone this morning who said the two things were not related. But Ican tell you that it was something that caused consternation inside the White House and there were people who believed that, you know, that he shouldn't have done that and, you know, that they saw Susan Rice as engaged in political spying. I mean, Trump has said that.
And I would just point out we haven't seen the facts. Experts who've talked about this with me have said all of this really depends on what was unmasked, how -- whether or not it was leaked, if it ended up in the press. Nunes contends that some of this stuff did up in the press but there's still a lot we don't know so it's really difficult to sort of judge without all the information.
CAMEROTA: OK. So, Michael, as to that consternation --
MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes.
CAMEROTA: -- in the White House, is there a bona fide battle royale somehow between H.R. McMaster and Steve Bannon?
WARREN: Yes, there is.
And I want to say real quickly just to clarify -- I talked to somebody at the White House yesterday -- to emphasize that the unmasking issue with Susan Rice and Susan Rice's continued security clearance are two separate issues.
In fact, McMaster has signed similar letters for other living National Security advisers. It's a continuity thing. It's basically you can't talk about classified information with a former National Security adviser, for instance, if you might need to bring them in --
[07:55:10] CAMEROTA: Oh, for sure.
WARREN: -- if they don't have a security clearance.
CAMEROTA: Yes, you mean --
WARREN: So that is a separate issue.
CAMEROTA: Understood. It's a separate issue except that if they thought that she had really crossed some bounds and done something illegal would they still give her her security clearance?
WARREN: I think the letter itself is sort of perfunctory and if there is a question about whether or not she's done something wrong, look, that's in front of the House Intelligence Committee. H.R. McMaster has his opinion and he's apparently voiced it.
But yes, there is this battle and I think that if it does come down to a difference in opinion between McMaster and Bannon -- and the view, I think, that McMaster's been sort of clearing out Mike Flynn-- you know, the former National Security adviser.
BERMAN: Right. WARREN: Mike Flynnites within the NSA, and that's -- or NFC -- and that's a problem that Bannon allies see as sort of going directly to the heart of Trump's own agenda.
BERMAN: And there's a new development here which is you have a new man in charge inside the White House. General John Kelly 's the chief of staff who apparently has allowed Gen. McMaster to push out the people that he was stuck with.
WARREN: Yes. I think that's interesting because, of course, Ezra Cohen-Watnick is one of these NSC officials who was kicked out.
CAMEROTA: We have a graphic of all of them --
CAMEROTA: -- who've been kicked out under McMaster's watch. So, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, what do we need to know about him?
WARREN: Yes. He was somebody who McMaster tried to move off the National Security Council a couple of months ago and was blocked, reportedly, by Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner -- even the president, himself.
That's changed and I think you can -- you can take away from the fact that now that Kelly's there, now that Ezra Cohen-Watnick has been removed from the National Security Council, that that has the sort of indirect approval of the president.
CAMEROTA: So, Eli, what do you make of this, that John Kelly is attempting to right the ship and restore order, and that might not bode well for Steve Bannon, or at least his accolades?
LAKE: John Kelly is a Marine Corps general, H.R. McMaster is a U.S. Army general. In the military, if you are the commander you get to pick your staff and I think that that is the principle that applies in this particular case.
Under Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, there were lots of these personnel disputes. I mean, there were weeks inwhich McMaster wanted to bring in his deputy, Ricky Waddell and Reince Priebus tried to block that. And, you know, as we just heard from Michael about the issue of Ezra Cohen-Watnick.
So I think that that principle is sort of applied right now with H.R. McMaster and it's potentially part of the regime.
I can tell you that in the case of Ezra Cohen-Watnick what I'm hearing is that there are a lot of other advisers who are close to the president right now who are very upset about that and do not --
CAMEROTA: That he was ousted.
LAKE: That he was ousted. And Iwouldn't be surprised if I saw him -- if you saw him in another role in some way in the administration. BERMAN: Interesting and, of course, that ties into part of the unmasking theme because, you know, it was believed that he was involved in talking to Devin Nunes and --
CAMEROTA: It was he, Ezra, just so the people understand the context. It was Ezra Cohen-Watnick who wanted to investigate the unmask if Susan Rice had done something illegal?
LAKE: No, that's not -- my understanding is that he was reviewing the unmasking policy, discovered this, sent it to the Office of General Counsel. The Office of General Counsel then took it from there and then Nunes had another -- it was a little confusing -- another lawyer who's now working at the White House named Michael Ellis who informed him about this.
But I don't think it was sort of like, you know, Ezra Cohen-Watnick was necessarily pushing it. I mean, there was a review of a lot of these policies he discovered. He said what do I do and he goes to the -- to Don McGahn's office.
BERMAN: You know, my final point on McMaster -- H.R. McMaster here, who has found himself feeling heat from the conservative media, really for a long time but specifically over the last week.
Laura Ingraham, all of a sudden, tweeting some things about him. "Breitbart" focusing on him, you know, quite a little bit.
What's wrong in the mind of some of these writers with H.R. McMaster?
WARREN: Well, I think there's definitely sort of an outside campaign going on. Allies of Steve Bannon art sort of pushing this. I don't like -- I can't say for sure whether it's coming from Bannon, himself. I don't think it is but it's certainly -- that's a big part of it.
There's this -- there's this view, I think, that he's protecting Obama appointees within the National Security Council. It's a little more complicated than that. There are people that are a little more difficult to sort of get rid of that were from the past administration, there's budgetary issues. So it's a little more complex and complicated.
But this is a -- this is a fight. This is a battle that's going on and they're trying to push each other out, and this is the result of that.
CAMEROTA: Michael, Eli, thank you very much for all of these developments and sharing your reporting with us.
All right. So we're following a lot of news this morning. Let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: New subpoenas issued to people involved in the Trump, Jr. meeting as the investigation expands to the president's finances.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He has said he has no financial dealings with Russia whatsoever.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family's finances, is that a red line?
TRUMP: I would say yes.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The president can't set red lines for Bob Mueller.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: If you think there's another shoe to drop, it's going to be about a size 18.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: New leaked transcripts show contentious conversations between President Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D), CALIFORNIA: I am worried about the way this president's conducting foreign policy.