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Carter Page Raised Idea of Trump Going to Russia; Trump: Extreme Vetting on Guns Would Not Stop Shootings; What to Watch in Elections Across the U.S. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:01] PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: I'm not sure yet, give it another couple of days.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Domestic violence is Art and I were talking earlier.


CUOMO: People don't know how close the connection is between domestic violence and gun violence. Other than suicide, which is another thing we don't focus on, you have 35,000 a year that are gun-related. You almost never fail when you try to take your life with a gun.

So, it's not just about taking guns from people. It's about stopping these crimes.

Art, knowing the system the way you do, respecting gun ownership the way you do, do you believe that there is obvious room for improvement in terms of how we monitor who gets a weapon?

RODERICK: I think the biggest gap we have here has been shown. Now, we're talking about Air Force OSI office.

CUOMO: Sure.

RODERICK: We have Army CID. We have the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. We have the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. We have to make sure that all those components are making sure that when they have a felony conviction, when they have domestic violence, that that information gets put into NCIC so that when these NIC checks are done at the gun store, it pops up.

The other interesting thing is, why was -- what exactly was the reason why he was turned down for the concealed carry permit? That to me is interesting because that should have been looked at, on a larger scale as far as purchasing his weapons

CUOMO: And it's just a window into coordination.


CUOMO: There's not the urgency. There's not that pursuit of perfection when it comes to who gets guns and we're seeing how that can bear out. Art, thank you very much. Thank you for bringing this in.

Philip Mudd, thank you for value added as always.



Now to Russia investigation, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page suggested that Donald Trump travel to Russia last year to deliver an Obama-style foreign policy speech. And that's not all that his new testimony reveals. We have all the details, next.


[06:35:31] CAMEROTA: So, we're learning new details about who in President Trump's campaign knew about contacts with Russians. Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser also revealing more interactions with senior Russian officials than were previously acknowledged. According to a transcript released by the House Intel Committee, we've learned more.

CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with all the details.

What have you learned, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Alisyn, Carter Page, he is disclosing for the first time in that testimony that he did, in fact, meet with Russian officials at the height of the campaign while he was serving as foreign policy adviser. And afterward, he e-mailed the campaign to offer insights he had gotten with his meeting with the Russian deputy prime minister.

Now, Carter Page has long contented that this was just a private trip, and that he didn't meet with Russian officials. But, of course, now we know from Page's 6 1/2 hour testimony on Capitol Hill last week that he did meet with foreign officials and that he informed top campaign officials of this. He informed Corey Lewandoski, he informed Hope Hicks, of course, who's now White House communications director, also J.D. Gordon, who ran the campaign foreign policy team at the time. Carter Page informing all three of them that he was, in fact, going to Russia.

Now, he also promised the team of those three a readout of his trip and meetings. Lewandowski did tell Carter Page however that he should go only if he was not affiliated with the campaign and we know that Carter Page also floated the idea of then candidate Donald Trump taking a trip to Russia in May of 2016. He floated that idea with J.D. Gordon and another adviser, Walid Phares.

He wrote to them in this email saying: If he'd like to take my place on a trip to Russia and raise the temperature a little bit, of course, I'd be more than happy to yield this honor to him.

Of course, this was a similar offer that former adviser George Papadopoulos also raised at a meeting. Of course, though, Donald Trump never did make that trip to Russia. And Carter Page also revealed that he has been in contact with special counsel Robert Mueller's team, as well as the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and other Justice Department officials all over his concerns about FISA warrants reportedly issued against him by the Obama administration.

So, Alisyn, a lot coming out in a 6-1/2 hour testimony. It was all last week. A lot of new details that Carter Page hadn't previously revealed.

CAMEROTA: He sure accomplished the raising the temperature on Russia.


SCHNEIDER: A goal that he set out for. He said it in that email and he did.

CAMEROTA: There you go.

SCHNEIDER: A lot of questions though.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thanks so much for all that reporting.

Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: Right. And one of the key developments yesterday is that Carter Page had said that he was only going to relay stuff he learned from Russian television to campaign officials. Yesterday, Congressman Adam Schiff was chasing him around about this. And that's not what he communicated to the campaign in Schiff's reckoning, that he had meet with people and said, I have great information for the campaign.

That inconsistency could get him in hot water. We will track it for you.

All right. So, President Trump now embraces the idea for immigration, but insists that extreme vetting for gun ownership won't stop mass shootings. We're going to take you through the facts and the differences here, next.


[06:42:07] CUOMO: President Trump was asked about whether or not he believes in extreme vetting, like we talk about with immigration, for gun ownership. And he said it wouldn't have mattered. It wouldn't have prevented the massacre at the church in Texas.

Here is the sound.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There would have been no difference three days ago. And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him. And I can only say this. If he didn't have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.


CUOMO: All right. Back with us now is David Gregory, and CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.

Let's just start with the facts, OK? It is hard to justify what the president is saying here, David Gregory, because we now know that, in fact, the military failed to pass along material information that well could have kept this man from getting a gun. So, forget about extreme vetting, whatever that means in any context. But just the ordinary vetting, had it been done properly, may well have kept him from getting the gun.

How do we know? Because it did on a different level in the state of Texas. He didn't get an open carry permit because of what they were able to flag about his criminal history.

So, what is your overall assessment of what the president is saying?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what he is getting to, I think, a big cultural idea in the gun debate, which is that more guns are the answer. That if you're better protected, that you can reduce the severity of a rampage like this or prevent them from happening at all. And yet the facts don't bear that out. And that's part of the problem, in states like Texas that have more lax laws, you have higher rates of gun deaths.

And so, I do think, Nick Kristof from "The New York Times" has done a very effective piece, he's interesting on this because he is not taking a liberal point and making a liberal point on public saying, saying treat this as public health. I think the real emphasis has to be on doing everything possible to make these incidents less severe and preventing what you can.

But this is also, unfortunately, a perfect example of what happens when existing mechanisms are in place that are not followed. Then, it gets into the wrong hands. We have so many weapons in this country, so many guns. And a lot of people, including people who are bad people and mentally deranged, who are getting guns when they shouldn't.

CAMEROTA: This is just so absurd. It's just so absurd, Chris, that the idea that -- I mean, the president is sticking to the tired NRA talking point of the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That's it.

That is not true in other countries. Other countries are able to stop bad guys from getting guns. That's how other developed countries do it.

And the idea that this guy, to be clear about his background, in case everybody hasn't been reading, he choked, he punched, he hit, he pulled the hair of his wife and then he cracked the skull of her infant child.

[06:45:10] That's the guy that then was able to get at least four guns that we know of.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. When I heard -- I heard it early this morning, the line we just played from South Korea, where he -- I mean, he literally almost says the only guy you stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

CAMEROTA: We hear it all the time and that's the old saw.

CILLIZZA: The problem there is that I think it winds up functioning as a catch-all for, well, can't do anything.

CAMEROTA: Can't do anything.

CILLIZZA: And I think what we're dealing with here, I -- actually, look, Donald Trump said yesterday that this is more a mental health issue than it is a guns issue. I would argue it's a mental health issue and it's a guns issue. And even if you think it's just the one, we should try to do something on the one, right?

To your point, Alisyn, which is like, this is clearly a person who should not have been able to buy --

GREGORY: We know what the remedy is for that.

CILLIZZA: Right, we do and we don't do it.

GREGORY: We need to get incensed by that, but this -- the Air Force dropped the ball. This is not Donald Trump's fault or people who advocate gun rights. There was an existing measure that was in place. Had it been followed, he wouldn't have had a gun.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough. But in February, we should also mention that President Trump did make it easier for mentally unstable people to get their hands on a gun.

GREGORY: But that has nothing to do with why he got a gun in this case.

CAMEROTA: There are a million different ways to skin this cat.

CUOMO: Yes, you know what, the problem is that this is far more complicated than people want to admit. It's easy to get upset in the moment because we don't like the outcome of these situations.

Even if you just want to take mass shootings -- let's be honest, we are focusing on something because it bothers us emotionally. It is not a rampant problem. We have more than anywhere else in the world. There's no question about that.

But we have more of everything when guns are involved than anywhere else in the world. We have 25 times the average of gun violence here. We don't have 25 times the average of bullying or assaults or mental health problems. But we have do have gun violence.

This is a complex problem. Mental health, who gets treated and who doesn't, matters. Gun access matters. While I have you guys, though, let's talk about something else that

seems to be a lot more simple on its face. Carter Page said his trip over to Russia was a nothingburger, OK? That it was no big deal and he couldn't wait for this to come up.

Adam Schiff was chasing him around yesterday about what he had said and how materially different it is now, Chris Cillizza. He was saying, wait a minute, you said you just want to pass along things that you said in Russia TV. Now, we're seeing you told the campaign you would have meetings with people in Russia and that you had really interesting information and that you told them that they should meet and bring Trump to Russia and that the campaign was corresponding with him on that basis, a very different tell.

CILLIZZA: Yes. I wouldn't urge people, because they have lives, to read the whole 233 page transcript of Carter Page's testimony, but read a little bit of it, and you see that this is someone who is literally just saying, I think, whatever comes to mind.

And your point, Chris, I think is the most important one, which is, it's either unaffiliated with the Trump campaign trip in which you kind of were a tourist in Russia. No, I talked to some people in coffee shops, or you were meeting with the deputy foreign minister, I believe, and he came back and told Trump campaign officials, well, there's really interesting stuff that they have.

It can't be both of those things. Those things run counter to one another. Look, I am amazed that Carter Page continues to talk publicly, because I think he gets himself in more and more trouble. He wraps around a story that he keeps contradicting.

CAMEROTA: All right. Chris Cillizza, David Gregory, thank you, for covering all those things for us.


CUOMO: Today is a big day, big elections going on around the country. New Jersey, Virginia, specifically, but also Utah, and New York has a big election. Voters in both of those states, though, New Jersey and Virginia, they're going to elect a new governor.

And we're looking at those races as a potential window into the midterms. Why? We'll show you why, next.


[06:52:21] CAMEROTA: Well, I'm here in Washington, D.C., and it is election day again in America. Two key governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey could be bellwethers for next year's midterm election. The race in Virginia is so important that President Trump keeps tweeting about it from Asia.

So, let's bring in CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Let's start with Virginia and what you think is happening there. And is this a bellwether that we should watch?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think Virginia is really interesting. I mean, obviously, both of -- these are the first two full statewide elections that you get after a new president is elected. So, they always attract a lot of attention. New Jersey race has been more sleepy, pretty much a big lead for the Democrat.

But Virginia has really been a barn burner and I think it is going to be telling for 2018 in this respect. In Ed Gillespie, you have a Republican candidate not a natural fit for the Trump constituency, blue collar and rural whites, he's a lobbyist, a party insider.

In Ralph Northam, you have a Democratic nominee who's not really a natural fit for the Democratic coalition of minorities and urbanized suburban voters.

But it is possible that on both sides we will, nonetheless, see a big turnout in each of those strong holds, which I think is largely driven by all the passions that Donald Trump has stirred up on both sides of the electorate. And if you see a big turnout from the Trump constituency for Gillespie and big turnout in northern Virginia for Northam, I think that points to a battle of the bulge style 2018 election in which you have a lot of engagement on both sides and a further widening of the divide between this urbanized, young, diverse Democratic coalition and an older, blue collar nonurban Republican coalition.

CAMEROTA: So interesting, Ron, I mean, that it's an energized electorate even though they're not sort of, you know, straight out of casting --

BROWNSTEIN: Energizing candidates.



CAMEROTA: So, let's move on to New Jersey. Obviously, Chris Christie's gubernatorial seat needs to be filled. So, what are you watching for here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, first of all, in both states, in every election since 1989, the party that lost the White House the year before won the governorship in every one in both states, 1989, except in 2013 when Terry McAuliffe won in Virginia after Obama won. So, there is a real advantage for the Democrat.

The Republican Kim Guadagno is laboring under two big, you know, weights, both Donald Trump and Chris Christie are really unpopular in the state, and it will an upset of historic magnitude if she wins. What I will be looking for, though, is the same thing I will be looking for in many ways in Virginia, which is if you look at the big white collar suburban counties -- you know, this is where Donald Trump has under performed relative to other Republicans while he has been stronger in rural and blue collar areas.

[06:55:05] If you see a Bergen County in New Jersey like a Fairfax County or Loudon County in Virginia move more away from the Republicans than we have seen in the past, closer to the presidential margins than the off-year margins, I think that should send a chill through many of the Republicans in the House, who will be defending white collar districts next year.

You know, famously, there are 23 House Republicans in districts that Clinton carried. Two-thirds of them tend to be white collar districts. And if you see big margins for Murphy among college- educated whites in a place like Bergen or for Northam in a place like Fairfax, that I think is a sign that the Trump era definition of the GOP is at risk for candidates like that.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, it's interesting to look where President Trump's approval ratings are. So, as of right now, this is the lowest he has been in the CNN poll. So, he's at 36 percent approve, 58 percent disapprove. But if you look at his job approval from August, it was 38 percent, September was 40, then it dropped to 37, 37 now 36.

What do you think is accounting for this being the lowest?

BROWNSTEIN: What's really striking about this poll is that you see weakness for the president not only in the groups that have been skeptical of him from the beginning, very low numbers among minorities and millennials and very meddling numbers as I said, among the college-educated whites. But you see significant erosion among the groups that have been at the foundation of his support.

You know, people say his base is undisturbed. Well, as Chris Cillizza pointed out in his column, you know, he has gone from 58 percent approval from non-college white workers, so it's working class white voters who were, you know, his absolute foundation in 2016, to 46 percent in this poll. This is one of several recent national polls. It's now show him under 50 percent among college-educated whites and also declining among older voters, people over 50, who were central to his victory in 2016.

And I think you see there the lingering cost of the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was very unpopular with blue collar white women and the potential that the tax bill, rather than making their problem better, could make it worse that, that many of the voters see it as a give away more to the rich and, in fact, all our analysis -- there were a flurry of them that came out yesterday -- show minimal benefits to people at the middle and when in fact, raise taxes on money in the upper middle class, especially over time.

So, I think the big thing in this poll, to me, is that you're seeing the water rising on both sides of the aisle. One other thing, Alisyn, real quick, 2-1 public says they're concerned about the campaign's contacts, Trump campaign's contacts with Russia in the poll. For Republicans, it's 1-2 the other way. Two-thirds are not concerned.

I'd argue to you that one-third of Republicans at this point expressing concern when the special counsel is clearly at the beginning of his investigation, not the end. That is a number worth watching that. That grow to get to something significant in terms of concern, even in the Republican base about what's happening here. One-third is nothing to sneeze at.

CAMEROTA: So helpful to have you parse it for us. Thank you for crunching the numbers.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Back to the Texas massacre investigation. We now know that the U.S. air force made a mistake, at a minimum. They didn't pass along information about a domestic violence conviction. And as a result, the man on your screen was not prohibited from getting a gun. The president is now weighing in on vetting and saying it doesn't really matter. Is that even close to true? Next.