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Lawmaker: Trump Told Soldier's Widow 'He Knew What He Signed Up For'; GOP Calls Grow to End Russia Investigations in Congress This Year. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 18, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REP. FREDERICA WILSON (R), FLORIDA: He said, "Well, I guess he knew what he was getting into."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm kind of sick and tired of trying to figure out where the bottom is for Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At times like this, words matter. Compassion matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what people are trying to turn this into politically, and I think that's wrong.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, I'll fight back, and it won't be pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think he even has a right to challenge McCain on patriotism. It's just common decency.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), FLORIDA: We were able to find common ground.

TRUMP: I'm pleased the Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We haven't had a chance to think about the way forward yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This deal will not work if the president continues his campaign of sabotage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

And we start with President Trump's call to the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, one of the U.S. Special Forces killed in Niger. A congresswoman listening in on that call says the president says, quote, "Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt. The congresswoman joins us in just minutes with her account of that call." CUOMO: And remember what started all of this. This is part of the

president's distraction from that ambush in Niger. He had 12 days. He didn't say anything about it. He was talking a lot about a lot of other things. And now these deaths are being politicized.

The president is talking about what past presidents have done, even bringing up his own chief of staff's fallen son and making him part of the political spotlight. All the justified false claims against former President Obama.

Meantime, the president is intensifying his feud with another war hero, Senator John McCain. The man is battling cancer right now, and the president warned him, "I will come back at you."

We're going to have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House. Joe, you can't make it up.

JOHNS: That's for sure, Chris. This was a sensitive and sad national conversation. We have entered into calls to the families of fallen U.S. military personnel. First, the question was how often presidents have made the calls.

And now the question is about the content of the conversation, what's appropriate for the president to say in the situation and what should be left unsaid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILSON: Basically he said, "Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for." But I guess it still hurts.

JOHNS: Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson recounting a conversation she says she overheard between President Trump and the widow of fall U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson.

WILSON: Everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don't remind a grieving widow of that. That's so insensitive.

JOHNS: Johnson was killed two weeks ago during an ambush in Niger, his body returned home to Miami Tuesday, the plane receiving a water cannon salute as it arrived near the gate.

Johnson's pregnant widow, Myesha Johnson, hugging her husband's flag- draped casket along with her 6-year-old daughter in this heartbreaking video. Congresswoman Wilson says President Trump called Myesha minutes before while the family was on their way to the airport.

WILSON: I was livid. I asked them to give me the phone, because I wanted to speak with him, and I was going to curse him out.

JOHNS: When asked for comment by CNN, the White House did not deny the comment, saying only, "The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private." This conversation coming hours after the president used the death of

the son of his chief of staff John Kelly, a Marine, to bolster his false claim that his predecessor did not call families of fallen members of the armed forces.

TRUMP: I think I've called every family of somebody that's died. Now as far as other representatives, I don't know. I mean, you could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?

JOHNS: General Kelly has said little in public about his son's death and asked specifically for his son not to be mentioned before a 2010 commemoration of two other Marines killed in combat, according to multiple reports. Kelly's son had been killed just days prior.

The White House declined to make General Kelly available for comment, and he did not appear with the president at two key events Tuesday.

Records show that Kelly and his wife were invited by the Obamas to a White House breakfast for Gold Star families in 2011, but it's unclear if they attended.

Meanwhile, President Trump intensifying his ongoing feud with war hero Senator John McCain, blasting the Arizona senator for repudiating his nationalist world view.

[07:05:13] /TRUMP: People have to be careful, because at some point I fight back. You know, I'm being very nice. I'm being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty.

JOHNS: McCain, who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, later telling reporters that he's faced far greater challenges than Mr. Trump.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Despite that spat, Senator McCain helping to clear the way for the Senate budget resolution to advance for a vote. The attention now turning very quickly to the president's tax plan. The Senate Finance Committee expected to meet with the president today in the Oval Office. That's his only scheduled public appearance.

Back to you.

CUOMO: Joe, thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

David Gregory, this is a unique combination of somewhat common traits that we're seeing play right now. The president has not showed a ton of empathy. He has not shown any ability to accept blame for anything. And he will show that he will say anything he needs to do to distract from a situation. And it seems like all of them are at play right here.

But this report from this congresswoman, if it's true, it really shows that he does not have a feel for this job yet.

GREGORY: That's right. I mean, the comments that have been reported out by her to this widow of a fallen soldier seemed insensitive, awkward, not the kind of thing that you -- that you want to say to someone who is grieving.

Again, I'd be curious to see if that's exactly how the conversation happened. But we do have this as part of a larger picture. I mean, this is a president who is not naturally empathetic. Who, when cornered, or when he perceives he's cornered, he lies. And he doesn't act in ways that are in keeping with the dignity of the office of the presidency. And that's what I keep coming back to.

To not show deference to your predecessors around something that is so sensitive to comfort the families of fallen soldiers, who you put into harm's way as commander in chief. It is just something that's just not excusable and speaks to a mind-set, an impulsivity that's really disturbing when you think about other big decisions that have to be made.

And all the while that we're having this conversation this morning. The president is on Twitter yet again, lashing out about the Comey letter and Hillary Clinton and the investigation into the leaks. And even calling out his own Justice Department, saying, "Where is the Justice Department?"

It shows that there are simply no guardrails on this president, despite efforts by his chief of staff and others to try.

CUOMO: And he wants to get us off this.

GREGORY: Right.

CUOMO: He wants to get us off this, the same way he wanted to get us off the Niger ambush by bringing up the past presidents. He knows what he's doing. Whether or not it's effective is up to everybody we're hearing.

BROWNSTEIN: Chris, I think that's the point. I mean, I want to distinguish between two things. I think the first thing -- and I think you make the exact right connection. There is a lack of empathy. We have seen it in many aspects of the way he approaches the job. But it's a lack of empathy rooted in her refusal to take personal responsibility. I mean, he's shifting the focus here.

He knew, the soldier knew what he was signing up for. Now, what he was signing up for, you know, may or may not have included proper planning and execution of this -- of this raid. Ultimately, there is a political responsibility here for the House of Representatives and the Senate to do their job, which is oversight of the executive branch and the underlying questions of what exactly happened here. We certainly exhaustively pursued that in Benghazi.

The second thing is different. I think the feud, you know, the attacks, they were like feud, the spat that we all heard in Joe's report, that it's so systematic that it's not random. I think the president sees a value in having a perpetual series of

personal conflicts with other political figures. There's a cost to that. There is the sense among a large number, a majority of Americans, that he does not have the temperament for the job.

But I think he sees these perpetual confrontations, which he, you know, relentlessly provokes as a way to signal his base, but he is tackling the old boys club, that he is breaking the status quo and that he is someone who is -- who is not going along with business as usual. And he is putting us on a hamster wheel in the media of constantly running down these easily-disproved accusations only to see him begin, as David says, with the tweets this morning, another round of confrontations with an endlessly shifting set of targets.

CAMEROTA: David, back to the comments to the grieving widow for a second. I find that a lot of people struggle with what to say in moments of grief. And the president himself acknowledged that these calls are hard for him. I mean, that's what he said. They are hard for him. So he feels awkward, clearly, about them.

But I think that part of the issue is that it does seem to be part of a pattern. That when talking about military sacrifice, he struggles in a very tone-deaf way. We've seen this happen with John McCain. We saw it at the CIA right after his inauguration.

[07:10:06] So let's just remind people of the way he has spoken in front of people who have sacrificed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: A war hero. Five and a half years...

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: He said you have sacrificed nothing and no one.

TRUMP: Well, that sounds -- who wrote that? Did Hillary's script writers write it?

STEPHANOPOULOS: How would you answer that, by the way? What sacrifice have you made for your country?

TRUMP: I think I made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs -- tens of thousands of jobs. I've built great structures. I've done -- I've had -- I've had tremendous success.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are sacrifices?

TRUMP: Oh, sure, I think they're sacrifices.

We had a massive field of people. You saw that. I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I said, "Wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out. The field was -- it looked like a million, a million and a half people."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That last one, David, just to remind everybody that was at the CIA in front of the wall of agents who had sacrificed -- who had fallen and sacrificed their lives for the country.

GREGORY: Yes. I mean, in some cases it's just nastiness on his part. In other cases...

CUOMO: Right. It's not a struggle. It's just -- it's a choice by him to be insensitive.

GREGORY: And I think Ron is right, this idea -- he has -- he seeks the light in a way that it doesn't matter what it's for. Whether he's being nasty, whether he's being disrespectful, whether he's lacking empathy. Whatever keeps him at the center of the storm is what he likes. He thinks that's where he does his best work.

Here's what this president willfully disregards, not just that he's not a good model for our children, although that's not a small thing. I mean, in my household, our children understand, we respect any president, no matter who or what party they're from. My children now understand as a matter of course that this is not a model for good behavior. That's really sad.

Beyond that, for American citizens, our president should be a model of empathy when appropriate to reflect the pain of the country, the anger, the frustration to the country, all of those things. This is something that he willfully disregards as part of his job. The dignity of the office, lots of flawed human beings have been president of the United States. The dignity of the office means something. He seems not to care about them.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, David, and to David's point, real quick, you know, he's hitting on the right point, about the dignity of the office. But I think that one of the reasons President Trump falls on that is because he does not really see his job as speaking for the country. I mean, he sees his job as speaking for his faction of the country.

There really has been no effort at any point to be president of the entire country or to really kind of bring in and make feel welcome those who did not vote for him. And as I say, I go back to this.

We have seen the wheel turn so relentlessly, so perpetually every day, how many days a week are we talking about some new personal conflict that, clearly, there is a method here. I mean, it may be madness in the sense that 60 percent of Americans question whether he has the temperament for the job.

But I think he believes that this is the way to tell his base that he is not a typical politician. There are no sacred cows. And he will challenge anyone. He will even challenge John McCain's war service. And he sees a value in that.

And by the way, you know, the Senate Republicans are about to pass a budget resolution and envision giant cuts and entitlement programs that he promised his older white base that he would protect to help fund a tax cut for the very top of the 1 percent. And we are not there, as well. So there is -- there is a method here. There's a cost to it, but there is a method.

GREGORY: Isn't it interesting, too. If you would imagine his ardent supporters -- conservatives, populists, wherever they find themselves on the map -- imagine the outrage toward a Democratic president who would speak this way about John McCain or would handle the military this way. Imagine the vehement reaction there would be.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, Ron Brownstein, thank you both very much.

So coming up in just minutes, we will speak live with that congresswoman, Frederica Wilson, about that phone call between President Trump and the soldier's widow.

CUOMO: Also coming up, we have key GOP leaders that are pushing congressional committees when it comes to the Russia investigations. What they're telling committee members to do next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:18:28] BLITZER: There is a growing number of key Republicans who want the congressional investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to wrap up and soon.

This as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer becomes the third Trump official to be interviewed by special counsel Bob Mueller's team.

CNN's Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill, with this new CNN reporting. Tell us about it.

MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

Yes, there's growing tension on the Hill over the Russia investigation. Key Republicans on some of these committees are telling their leaders it's time to end the inquiries by year's end.

Now, one top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jim Risch, told me yesterday the committee shouldn't be chasing, quote, "weak leads." Say they are at the point of, quote, "diminishing returns."

Other Republicans said Democrats are trying to keep this issue hanging into the election season. But Democrats like Adam Schiff are worried the GOP is not aggressively pursuing the potential of Russia collusion with the Trump campaign, say Republicans have rushed witnesses into the committee before they've received relevant documents.

And we're now told one example of that is Jared Kushner, who's a president's son-in-law. Now one big witness they'd want to interview President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Senator Chuck Grassley, who's the chairman of the Judiciary Committee has faced growing pressure from Democrats to hold a public hearing for Trump Jr. And yesterday, he signaled to me that his previous comments that he couldn't avoid a public hearing still stood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Do you think it is is unavoidable to bring Donald Trump Jr. to a public hearing?

[07:20:06] SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I answered that question for you last week.

RAJU: Yes, but I'm wondering if anything has changed?

GRASSLEY: No, nothing has changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: But Democrats are still frustrated that there's no agreement yet on a date for that hearing. And they're blaming Grassley for stalling the investigation on a number of fronts. Really, all of this points to signage of the challenges that lawmakers face in trying to reach any sort of bipartisan consensus, Alisyn, on the findings of exactly what happened in last year's elections -- Alisyn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, Manu, thank you very much for all of that reporting. We want to discuss it now with Bill Kristol. He's the editor of "The Weekly Standard." And CNN political commentator Ed Martin, president of the Eagle Forum Fund and author of "The Conservative Case for Trump." Great to see both of you here.

Let's start with Manu's reporting. So these key Republicans, Bill, want -- I don't know if they're experiencing investigation fatigue or if they really think there is no "there" there. But they are now pressing for the committee investigation to wrap up by the end of the year. How do you see this?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "WEEKLY STANDARD": They need to wrap up what they know it when they find what they find. It doesn't matter if they wrap up December 31st or January the 31st or February 1st. It will get wrapped up easily soon, early in the election year. Let's find out what we...

CAMEROTA: It will be wrapped up in a couple of -- a few more months?

KRISTOL: Yes. I think more importantly, I think the big investigation is Bob Mueller's. And clearly, that's getting close to, you know, nearer the end. What you're seeing, when he's talking to Priebus, or an advisor to the president, the vice president. I will think that will happen within a month or two.

I think -- so I think we're looking. I think people have the sense that these investigations go on forever. CAMEROTA: Yes, they do feel that.

KRISTOL: Yes, well, they do a little bit. But I would think by -- I don't know -- February or so, we will know both. The congressional is much less important than Mueller.

CAMEROTA: How can they wrap up before they have their findings?

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They've got to do what they're set out to do. If they're working, we haven't seen much of it. We haven't heard public hearings. They'll do it.

But my concern is that this, you know, Spicer. And you read the coverage on CNN, you hear about Spicer. We're speculating that Spicer was brought in to talk about his role in the White House. He was on the campaign. So we don't really know yet.

But my concern with all these investigations is they're an investigation in search of a justification. At a certain point, it's going to take a lot of courage, I think, I suspect, someone to say there wasn't anything here on the collusion. And what we're going to get to, the problem is I call Mueller the zombie independent counsel. The zombie counsel. Because he's going to find something to devour, and he's going to keep going. He's looking at Kushner's business dealings. You know, all this kind of stuff. It becomes a witch-hunt in search of a witch.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: And it's all going to be public. And if it's illegitimate, to which you and the president will say so. But let's see what he finds. I wouldn't exactly characterize Bob Mueller and the attorneys working for him at the federal bureau as being on a witch-hunt.

MARTIN: No, I'm trying to narrow the description by the media of what they're doing. If it's an investigation into Russia collusion, that seems narrow in focus.

KRISTOL: What about obstruction of justice? Is that OK with you?

MARTIN: It depends what it is. If it's going through the White House, you worked in the White House. Going through the White House on every -- everything everywhere, you're going to find lots of conduct. It's a way to tie up the president. I think most people acknowledge.

KRISTOL: It's not being tied up. It's an investigation that's being done with great discretion. They're -- they're not leaking. They're doing their job.

MARTIN: They're not leaking?

KRISTOL: You think Mueller's office is leaking?

MARTIN: I think everybody is leaking. Right?

KRISTOL: They're not doing their jobs, they're really hurting the president. This is such a fake talking point.

MARTIN: What is?

KRISTOL: This is tying everything up. It's hurting the president, distracting us. What's being -- in what way is the president distracted by this?

MARTIN: When lawyers get an assignment on a matter, Bill, they get assigned to this, and they decide they're going to expand to this. We've seen this over -- you're one of the great proponents of limiting the bureaucrats' role in trying to run things. You know, the unelected bureaucrats.

CAMEROTA: You're saying it's a fishing expedition, and you're saying mission creep. I mean, all the things...

MARTIN: Every lawyer...

CAMEROTA: But you don't know that that's...

MARTIN: Right. Neither does anyone.

KRISTOL: So let's not speculate that the former director of the FBI under Republican and Democrat presidents is engaged in what you just called a witch-hunt.

MARTIN: How about we then -- how about we don't speculate on the president obstructing justice, which is what you just said?

KRISTOL: I didn't speculate. I'd like to know what the president did when he had his one-on-one dinner with Jim Comey. Do you think that's normal, to have the FBI director over for a one-on-one dinner when his campaign is being investigated by the FBI?

MARTIN: Who do you think Comey works for, Bill? Who does he work for?

KRISTOL: The president of the United States.

MARTIN: There you go.

KRISTOL: He does not work personally for Donald Trump.

MARTIN: Nobody said he did.

KRISTOL: Well, so you know what? If Trump behaved appropriately -- if Trump behaved appropriately, nothing to fear. He has nothing to fear.

MARTIN: We have a Constitution...

KRISTOL: What does he have to fear?

MARTIN: We have a Constitution that governs how people do their jobs. That's the law, Bill.

KRISTOL: I am for the rule of law.

CAMEROTA: On that note, because we're talking about the president propriety and how he responds to things, let's just segue for a second...

MARTIN: OK.

CAMEROTA: ... from the president's response to military sacrifice. So today, you know, there's a question about him calling Sergeant Johnson's widow. And that he said, I mean, according to the congresswoman who overheard the call on speaker phone, he said something like, "Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts."

MARTIN: Can I -- can I tell you what this...

CAMEROTA: Yes.

MARTIN: And Bill will not agree, I can tell already. But here's what -- here's what goes on when you work in a White House or for a governor.

[07:25:07] Lots of meetings, lots of people speaking. If you look up Heritage Foundation speech last night, Trump describes a conversation with a cop in Las Vegas who says the phrase, "I signed -- this is what I signed up for. I run to defend good and to stop evil."

And when you hear the president say to a dying -- to a widow something about -- it's actually -- it's such a slur on Trump, President Trump. He actually was saying something nice.

What is it about men like that guy who died that they run towards the bullets? And it's because, even though he knew that could happen, he signed up. So the idea that this congresswoman now takes that snippet and politicizes it and runs around, she's going to come on, it's really, really disrespectful.

CAMEROTA: It's important to hear your perspective on this.

MARTIN: Well, that's...

CAMEROTA: Hear it differently. I mean, look, she was in the car. She heard the tone. She heard it. That's how she interpreted it. But you hear it differently.

KRISTOL: Look, I'm not actually, to give credit -- these are hard to do, as Mike Hayden said earlier on your show. And I'm not going to criticize the president for a poor choice of words. Whatever, if the widow, it's unfortunate.

But George W. Bush describes very movingly that -- widows getting very angry at him. And he just took it. That's part of being president.

What I do hold against the president is what he said yesterday or two days ago and then the dragging into this of Robert Kelly.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that.

KRISTOL: I just can't -- I mean, I really can't stomach that. And I can't believe we're having this -- the president took a routine question at a press conference which he could have answered in four sentences, with paying tribute to the soldiers, saying we all grieve for them. We have the greatest respect for our soldiers and he intends as president to make sure that we all honor them. That's it. Period.

He didn't have to mention Obama. He didn't have to mention all his predecessors. He didn't have to make it all about himself. And then the next day to defend himself, to drag out Robert Kelly, I just -- I find that really...

CAMEROTA: How about that? Because I mean, look, General -- General John Kelly does seem to be an innocent bystander in all of this drama. He has studiously avoided the spotlight in terms of his own grief and his own son's sacrifice. So now he is being being talked about by the president. How do you think that he's...

MARTIN: General Kelly gave that speech -- gave a speech in St. Louis, my hometown.

KRISTOL: Fantastic speech. Everyone should read that speech. Veterans Day, 2010.

MARTIN: Yes. Yes.

KRISTOL: Four days after his son is killed. He doesn't mention Robert. And it's a terribly moving speech about the young...

MARTIN: About sacrifice.

KRISTOL: ... 9/11 generation.

MARTIN: It was passed around by Marines -- My brother's a Marine -- as a stirring example how you deal with it.

Look, I think we're in very territory on how to deal with it. But ultimately, General Kelly is a big boy. He knows how to deal with this. And I respect his way of even now staying silent.

CAMEROTA: The president just tweeted moments ago. He said -- about this very thing. He says, "Democrat congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action, and I have proof. Sad."

All right. Well, we look forward to that proof. We're in the proof business. I mean, we're in the evidence business.

KRISTOL: This is really terrible that we're even having this -- honestly. I mean, he's talking to a widow and...

MARTIN: But the congresswoman probably wasn't well-suited to go and make a big deal out of all of this. Right? That might be part of the... CAMEROTA: Look, this is a -- these are private moments, right? These are the toughest moments. These condolence calls are the toughest moments, and they're private moments.

But for whatever reason, the congresswoman felt so affronted by what she heard that she claims that she asked to get on the phone with the president, because she said that she wanted to curse him out. We're about to talk to her. It's hard to know what -- what so affronted her, but we'll find out in a second.

And if the president has proof that he said something different, we welcome that. And we do want to hear all sides of the story. And just whether or not the president is equipped to deal with the military sacrifice. It is part of a pattern. I mean, this isn't the first time, obviously, that we heard him say something that has seemed off.

KRISTOL: You know what? You know what? I just want to say this. He is the president, you know. And if he's not good at it frankly, we should just accept the fact that he's not -- because what are we going to do? And these soldiers and Marines have to fight for our country. And the president will do what he does. And the country honors them. Whether the president phrases it well or not frankly doesn't matter.

MARTIN: And also, there are lots of examples of people who meet the president and say they're very moved. I forget now if it was after Las Vegas or one of the -- and they said he wasn't -- it was a woman. She said, "I wasn't for him, but he wasn't like I thought he was."

So in other words, there's going to be -- and this president is the first president living in, maybe by choice, in that Twitter world, right? Where it's everything in real-time.

CAMEROTA: Embracing it.

MARTIN: Yes, embracing it. And as Bill says, you're going to be good at some, bad at some. I just think that this congresswoman overhearing it's such a hard thing to judge how poorly or well anyone takes it, as Bill said.

CAMEROTA: We'll get her take coming up. Thank you both very much. Let's get over to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon. There's a lot to talk about in terms of the budget and what we're dealing with with this situation around Niger.

Senator, thank you for joining us. I know that you're looking at what happened in this ambush. Now we're hearing that the Pentagon is working on a tomb line. It's not clear if this is something that they're initiating now in response to calls for what happened at the ambush. What's your sense of where we are in understanding what happened with this loss of American life?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, I don't have a lot new to share with you on that at this moment. I think that it is a very important thing to get to the bottom of how this unfolded, the type of preparation that was involved, the circumstances of that particular day. Obviously a very, very tragic --