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Firm Used by Trump Campaign Asked WikiLeaks for Access to Clinton E-mails; Trump Claims Dems Are a 'Disgrace' for Helping to Fund Dossier. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 26, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A data firm working for the Trump campaign reached out to Julian Assange asking about Hillary Clinton's missing e-mails.
[05:59:49] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a clear connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump campaign has pushed back, suggesting they're relying more on the RNC for their data needs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is almost laughably false.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Colluding with Russia is a story that does not ever go away.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton totally denied this. It's a total phony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This idea that it is a fake dossier, that's just not true.
TRUMP: The uranium sale to Russia, that's Watergate, modern age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of all the things that we talked about, this has more teeth. This gives President Trump the ability to muddy the waters on Russia.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, October 26, 6 a.m. here in New York. And here's our starting line.
We begin with growing connections about possible connections between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Sources tell CNN a data analytics company working for the Trump campaign did contact WikiLeaks seeking access to thousands of Hillary Clinton's e-mails that she kept on this private server while she was secretary of state. Meantime, President Trump slamming Hillary Clinton and the Democrats
for denying that they knew of an effort to dig up dirt on him after it was revealed that they helped fund this type of research. A source tells CNN Clinton did not know about the dossier but was disappointed the dossier wasn't made public before the election.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All of this as top Senate Republicans are asking why the Trump administration is holding up tough new sanctions on Russia. A new round of the sanctions were unanimously passed by Congress months ago and signed into law by the president. So why the delay on implementing them?
And it's a big day for presidential historians and conspiracy theorists alike. Thousands of previously classified documents on the John F. Kennedy assassination will be released to the public today. What's in them?
So we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz on the new WikiLeaks developments. What have you learned, Shimon?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn. The head of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm hired by the Trump campaign, contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to see if he had obtained personal e-mails from Hillary Clinton's personal server.
Assange confirmed on Twitter that chief executive Alexander Nicks reached out and said the request was rejected. Nicks then sent an e- mail to several people, including top Trump donor Rebecca Mercer relaying that he had e-mailed Assange. A source tells CNN that no one from the Trump campaign was copied on the e-mail. But the attempt is the closest known link between a Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
Now, you'll recall that WikiLeaks was responsible for releasing hacked e-mails from the DNC as well as Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta that U.S. intelligence has said were stolen by Russia and handed over to WikiLeaks through an intermediary.
The Trump campaign has responded to the report by distancing themselves from Cambridge Analytics, stating once Trump secured the nomination in 2016, "One of the most important decisions we made was to partner with the Republican National Committee on data analytics. We as a campaign made the choice to rely on the voter data of the Republican National Committee to help elect President Donald Trump." Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, so CNN has uncovered a few details that appear to, what, corroborate that?
PROKUPECZ: Well, actually, some of the -- some of our information shows that, based on FEC filings, we found that just after Trump won the nomination, his campaign started a series of payments to Cambridge Analytical totaling some $5.9 million.
So it's clear that there was more of a relationship there than that was conveyed in that statement. And Jared Kushner, who headed up one of the data operations, also told "Forbes" magazine in November that, after the president won the nomination, they kept both data operations going simultaneously; and a lot of information was shared between them. And by doing that, we could scale to a pretty good operation.
CAMEROTA: Ah, I see. So your reporting refutes their statement.
CUOMO: It shows that there's some holes in it.
PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right.
CUOMO: All right. Shimon, thank you very much.
All right. Another brick in such a wall here. Because you have President Trump lashing out at the Democrats, because it was revealed that the DNC and Clinton campaign did help fund research for that dossier against him. The president calling it a disgrace, you know, feigning outrage, saying it's a very is sad commentary on the politics of this country.
Meanwhile, his campaign seems to have been doing the same kind of thing. CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning.
New information in the Russia investigation. A return to a familiar pattern here at the White House. The Trump administration faced with what appears to be a new piece of the puzzle about how far they would go to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. The president focusing on how far the Hillary Clinton campaign would go to get dirt on him.
[06:05:10] TRUMP: Don't forget, Hillary Clinton totally denied this. She didn't know anything. She knew nothing. All of a sudden, I found out.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump on offense, attempting to shift the narrative away from the Russia investigation and onto Hillary Clinton. Blasting her campaign's involvement in helping to fund the now famous dossier of allegations about Trump and Russia.
TRUMP: Well, I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up. And I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money.
JOHNS: Mr. Trump insisting that the dossier is fake, despite the fact that parts of it have been corroborated by the intelligence community. A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that Clinton was not personally aware of the dossier until BuzzFeed published the document earlier this year, adding that she was disappointed the research was not made public before she lost the election. The dossier was first bankrolled by Republican foes during the primaries.
TRUMP: Wonder who that might be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a--
TRUMP: I think I know. But I'll let them find out.
JOHNS: The president also weighing in on the investigation launched by House Republicans this week into the Obama-era sale of a uranium mining company to Russia while Clinton was secretary of state.
TRUMP: Well, I think the uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done, so underhanded with tremendous amounts of money being passed. I actually think that's Watergate, modern age.
JOHNS: Russia nuclear officials reportedly sent millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation around the same time as the deal, according to the Hill, prompting critics to allege Clinton was bribed, a claim that has not been substantiated and that Clinton calls "baloney."
The Justice Department has given a former FBI informant the green light to testify about the detail. Despite public criticism from a number of prominent Republicans. President Trump also insisting the party is united, citing his meeting with Senate Republicans earlier this week as proof.
TRUMP: I called it a love fest. It was almost a love fest. Maybe it was a love fest. But standing ovations. There is great unity.
JOHNS: Mr. Trump blaming the media for negative impressions people may have of him.
TRUMP: I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don't understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person.
JOHNS: And, again, defending his phone call with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson.
TRUMP: I was really nice to her. I respect her. I respect her family. I certainly respect La David, who I by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart in front that, "La David." Says "La David Johnson." So I called him right from the beginning. There was no hesitation.
JOHNS: Meantime this morning, the administration celebrating a big win in the courts. A federal judge ruling with the Trump administration in a lawsuit filed by 18 states, attempting to get the federal government to pay subsidies to insurance companies -- Alisyn, Chris.
CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much for all the reporting. Let's bring in our panel to analyze it. We have CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Great to see both of you.
So Ron, let's start with the WikiLeaks stuff, OK?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
CAMEROTA: The head of Cambridge Analytica contacted Julian Assange to, I guess, see if there was a way to unearth Hillary Clinton's lost e-mails from her private server. They were certainly interested in those.
It sounds like something on "Raiders of the Lost Ark," you know. Finding the lost e-mails of the candidate. I mean, look, the data operation I think is a principle focus for investigators. Because I think one of the questions everyone is wondering, now that we have more information, probably not all the information we're going to have about the extent of Russian use of social media to target voters in the U.S., is whether somebody sitting at a basement in Moscow, 400 pounds on a bed, as Donald Trump said, knew where to go, right? Knew to target Macomb County in Michigan or what county to target in Wisconsin.
So that whole area is, I think, going to be -- is at the center of what a lot of people are wondering about. And so -- so this does not directly address that.
BROWNSTEIN: But it does suggest the willingness to kind of reach out to those--
CAMEROTA: It shows a relationship but in the opposite direction. Not WikiLeaks coming to -- not Russia coming to the campaign, the campaign reaching out to WikiLeaks, who was connected to Russia.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, either way, it shows -- it shows a willingness to access that.
[06:10:03] CUOMO: The issue is whether or not they were willing to try to expose themselves to that kind of dynamic of nefarious activity.
BROWNSTEIN: It's similar to the Donald Trump Jr. meeting.
BROWNSTEIN: -- where. It's very similar. It's another indication they were willing to go down the road. If Russia had something that -- or Russia-related sources in this case had something that would benefit them, they were willing to access it.
CUOMO: But David, look, here's one of the problems with the new ways of reporting. I don't know that this is going to help shed light on what happened for people or now between what happened with Fusion and the Democrats or Analytica and the Trump folk and the Republicans, that this is just making it less likely that, no matter what investigators conclude, including perhaps the special counsel, people won't believe it. That's the fear of this kind of clouding of circumstances. Because now you have to understand politics. You have to understand how these campaigns work. You have to understand where they put their money into oppo research. How by whom, and how they shelter themselves from direct responsibility, which we are seeing now.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You have to remember there is a fact at the center of this. And that is Russia interfered with our election and was looking for all kinds of ways to potentially manipulate results. There's no evidence that they did, in fact, manipulate results but they interfered. Right? So that is the conclusion of our intelligence agencies. There's evidence of this.
Now you have two campaigns who are open for business, who are trying to unearth that relationship in some fashion, right? So in the case of Donald Trump, they seemed to be open for business on what Russians might be able to bring to the table to -- to damage Hillary Clinton.
In this way at least, you know, as Ron says, open to the idea of unearthing, you know, lost e-mails and all the rest. And I guess in both cases, you're trying to look for some pattern is that, you know, they both were engaged in what became central to our government's investigation, right? Because the intelligence community looks at this dossier at some point and says we have to brief, you know, the president-elect about this, President-elect Trump. It becomes a real issue in the relationship between Comey and Trump.
At the end of this, we're still going to want to find out the big question. Is there any evidence that a campaign, the Trump campaign actually was doing business with the Russians to further their goal of interfering in the election. And we're not necessarily closer to that, because we're still working on the outside of this congressional and Mueller's investigation.
BROWNSTEIN: The dossier, one way or the other, is not why this investigation exists, right? It's because Russia hacked John Podesta's e-mails among others and weaponize that during the campaign. It is the Russian actions that precipitated the entire investigation, not the inquiry into Donald Trump's relationship.
CAMEROTA: It's interesting to look at what was happening on the campaign and on the campaign trail the whole time that all this was going down. Right? So this was July of 2016. And that's when the Trump campaign started paying $5 million to this Cambridge Analytica to try to, you know, dig up whatever dirt, or data that they could.
BROWNSTEIN: There's that.
CAMEROTA: That they could. The only reason I say dirt now is because we know they contacted Julian Assange. So anyway, President Trump, that was the same month that President Trump -- well, then candidate Trump -- said this on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: As we have learned, Donald Trump sometimes says things based on a germ of information that he has. And when something seems to come out of nowhere, it turns out that he has some information. He may not be representing it in the most accurate way, but that's the same time that his campaign was reaching out to Julian Assange.
BROWNSTEIN: And similar to Roger Stone, you know, during the campaign, we know John Podesta's turn in the barrel is coming. So yes, it raises -- you know, like many other things in this investigation, it raises a lot of questions. And I think the likelihood is that we're going to have to wait for the special counsel rather than the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to really understand, to the extent we ever do fully understand, what happened. But, yes, it's obviously a red flag.
CUOMO: And look -- and this is -- but that flag is being obscured by another flag because of what we know about the other side of you, David. That you have the Clinton campaign, DNC funding Fusion, which was looking into the research, paying for the research that wound up resulting in the dossier. Clinton says, "I didn't know about the dossier," but she says that she wishes it had come out sooner, you know, during the election. And it gives Trump cover.
But at the end of the day, there is a material difference between Hillary Clinton and President Trump. He is the president of the United States. And that's why what he did, what is involved there is of more concern to investigators and should be to the American people. Not because it's more wrong or less wrong but because of his current state of power.
[06:15:21] GREGORY: Right. And politics is nasty. You were alluding to. You know, whether they're using data or they're using, you know, efforts to find out how a candidate might be compromised by a foreign power. It is is the foreign power's involvement that we have to keep coming back into.
Back in July when candidate Trump invited Russia to keep hacking away and uncover these lost e-mails, I mean, think about what he was asking. I remember being so shocked at the time that he would invite this act by a foreign power and an enemy of the United States to interfere in our election. He was not taking seriously something that was very serious that was happening. And that's why we have to keep coming back to this investigation to actually find out.
The rest of it is going to be political warfare. And look, Trump has been working on the Democrats for a long time, has gone after the intelligence community, has even raised questions about Mueller. Expect far more to come, however this investigation advances.
BROWNSTEIN: That's the bright line. Collaboration with a foreign power is very different than any kind of opposition research that any campaign does on the other.
CAMEROTA: And we also need to talk about the sanctions that were supposed to already be implemented. In fact, the deadline passed on October 1 for new Russian sanctions. Why haven't they been implemented? So stand by. We will talk about those very soon with you.
CUOMO: All right. So this idea of demanding to know why the Trump administration hasn't implemented the sanctions, we're going to have to get into it, because it's the executive that has to put them into effect. Yes, Congress passed those sanctions, so is this about bureaucracy, or is there some reason that the White House would be dragging its feet? Next.
[06:20:45] CUOMO: All right. So top Senate Republicans -- Republicans -- want to know why the Trump administration is not implementing new Russia sanctions. The deadline did pass several weeks ago.
So what is the context of the delay? We see Trump preparing to meet face-to-face with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Vietnam next month. Is this a a political calculation? What's it about? Let's bring back our panel. Ron Brownstein and David Gregory.
CUOMO: The White House will say through sources, this is bureaucracy. This stuff takes time.
BROWNSTEIN: -- the State Department. Look, the administration, and he signed this bill, what, under -- at, like, 2 in the morning under lock and key. Never been enthusiastic about this road. Came into office, lest we forget, desiring to completely reset the relationship with Russia. And so this is clearly not something they want to do. I mean, the ring does not want to be found in this case. I mean, he is not trying to make this work.
And whether, of course, it is the State Department in fact, I can't answer that. But I can say one thing that's important here. You know, people have asked what -- so what does it matter that all of these various Republicans have criticized Donald Trump over recent weeks?
You have the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee as two of the prominent critics. If there was ever an area where they can find ways to turn their criticism into action, it would be on exactly this sort of, you know, kind of oversight.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, there are various ways they can put pressure. Not moving nominees until the -- until the sanctions are implemented. You know, the House went to the court against President Obama on, I believe, more than one occasion. There are a lot of options they have.
And it goes to this bigger question of the critics of President Trump in the Republican Senate, in particular, where they only have a two- seat majority. Three, McCain, Corker, Jeff Flake, are kind of openly estranged from him. They have leverage. And this will be one example of whether they are prepared to use it.
CAMEROTA: David, let's say that he is trying to wait until after his face-to-face with Vladimir Putin. OK, that's strategic. What if he won't after Vladimir Putin?
GREGORY: Well, we don't know. This is -- and to Ron's point, you have not -- you have two important members of the Senate in McCain and Corker, both of whom have very large megaphones and especially now that they have been critical. And this is a huge blind spot for President Trump and his foreign policy and his national security, which is why has he continued to be so cozy to Vladimir Putin, this strong man in Russia.
It seems by all accounts that that sensitivity with how that relationship works is what bothers President Trump. He wants to be the one to define what kind of relationship he actually has. All we've seen from him is this respect for him in the way he operates his country and his foreign policy.
We haven't seen enough of Donald Trump on America's behalf standing up to Russia in its expansionism and some of its other abuses. So at the very least, you know, the State Department can say, well, companies need a lot of guidance in how to implement these sanctions. You see, you know, moving as slowly as possible so that Trump can define how that actually with Russia actually looks and, I'm sure, wants to take some credit for whatever the relationship is and how America is going to put its stamp on it.
BROWNSTEIN: It's fair to say every president resists when Congress tries to micromanage foreign policy. I think any president would be uneasy about the specificity of the legislation.
The difference is, is that, you know, when you had a Republican Congress and a Democratic president under President Obama, they have pushed back very hard and asserted their prerogative. And I think that becomes the question here the way this is one of many examples at a time when you have had members of Congress make extraordinary, really unprecedented accusations about the fitness of the president.
Do they use any of the leverage they actually have? Is Bob Corker -- is Bob Corker prepared to go beyond tweeting or interviewing about the president to put some pressure on him on the areas where they disagree.
CUOMO: So you have a fundamental question here about what the state of the party unity is. And the president has a very different feeling than you, Professor Brownstein. Here is what the president says about the state of his party's unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I called it a love fest. It was almost a love fest. Maybe it was a love fest. But we -- standing ovations. There is great unity. I mean, if you look at the Democrats, with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, that's a mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[06:25:09] CUOMO: One, I've missed this. I haven't -- we haven't heard an example of the president doing his three step going from a suggestion to a fact thing in a while. We haven't seen it, really, since the campaign. I call it a love fest.
CAMEROTA: Maybe it was a love fest.
CUOMO: It was a love fest. So great. He's convinced himself. That's a good thing.
But David Gregory, in terms of the reality of what's going on within this party, is it just people who aren't going to run again who are on the outside who had some kind of crisis of conviction, or is it a window into a division that could hamper the president within his own?
GREGORY: You know, the thing I've been sitting with over the past day is, you know, the president -- part of how he became president is that he not only brought people who are outside of the political process into it, but he unified the Republican Party. Republicans came home. And that's part of why he won.
CAMEROTA: If you look at this division, I'm attempted to think, well, maybe the party is not holding together so well. But the reality is that he is running against the sustainment still. Even as he wants to work with it to get a tax cut done. He's got enough leadership behind him. He's got enough rank-and-file Republicans that are still with him in Congress.
So it's still a bit unusual for those to step out and say, you know, we're opposed to him not on ideological grounds so much but because of character. And in these cases, they are no longer going to be there. And in Flake's -- in Flake's situation, because he was hurting and was unlikely to win. So I do think this is emerging as Donald Trump's Republican Party.
BROWNSTEIN: I would say yes in the short run, except if you go back to American history, when you have as significant a faction expressing discontent here, the three previous Republican presidential nominees, eventually that voice finds expression.
Sooner or later, somehow it finds expression, whether it was the anti- slavery Whigs and Democrats who are both suppressed in the 1850s and created a new party or the southern Republicans who felt ostracized from the Democratic Party from FDR, increasingly through LBJ and eventually became Republicans. Somehow the fissure that we are seeing, particularly in the white-collar side of the Republican Party, it will find a voice eventually.
CAMEROTA: All right. Ron, David, thank you very much.
CUOMO: So we're learning more about what happened in the hours leading up to the deadly ambush in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead and others injured? Why did parts of the mission change? We have new details next.