Return to Transcripts main page


Democrats Sweep Races One Year After Trump's Win; Trump to North Korea: 'Do Not Try Us'; Trump Had CIA Director Look Into DNC Leak Conspiracy Theory. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 07:00   ET


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say to the North do not underestimate us.

[07:00:08] WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: North Koreans accusing President Trump of trying to ignite another war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prospect of the North Koreans actually denuclearizing is probably near zero.

TRUMP: The weapons you're acquiring are putting your regime in grave danger.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We begin with sweeping victories for the Democrats one year after President Trump's election. One Republican member of Congress, Scott Taylor, says this is a repudiation of the Trump presidency and blames the president's divisive rhetoric for the GOP's big losses. We will have Scott Taylor on next hour with us.

The biggest win for Dems is the Virginia governor's race. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam beating former Republican Party chair Ed Gillespie. President Trump blaming Gillespie's loss. Last week, he tweeted that the candidate never embraced Trump or what he stands for.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But Gillespie did exactly that, and it cost him. The proof is in the performance. The voters that Trump needs ran away from his near protege.

Now, in New Jersey, Democrats won back the state house after Chris Christie's tumultuous eight-year run. Phil Murphy elected the new governor there. All this as President Trump is in China. The third stop on his Asia trip comes after the president issued a stark warning to North Korea, telling its dictator, Kim Jong-un, quote, "Do not try us."

We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Ryan Nobles, live in Richmond, Virginia. All eyes are on Virginia, a purple state. Now plain blue.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about that, Chris. And there is a lot of soul searching going on among Republicans in Virginia here today. This state just one example of a sweeping repudiation of Donald Trump and his administration with those election results last night. The Virginia governor's race here was expected to be close. It was anything but.


TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIR: The Democratic Party is back, my friends!

NOBLES: An anti-Trump wave fueling a big Democratic sweep, including the hotly-contested governor's race in Virginia. The state's Democratic lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, crushing Republican Ed Gillespie by nine points in a race that was expected to be close.

RALPH NORTHAM (D), GOVERNOR-ELECT OF VIRGINIA: Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.

NOBLES: President Trump blaming Gillespie for the loss, accusing him of not embracing him and what he stands for. But exit polls show that President Trump is deeply unpopular, with twice as many Virginia voters who say Trump was a factor in their decision saying they came out to oppose the president rather than to support him.

PEREZ: You have sent a message across the globe to South Korea. Donald Trump, you don't stand for our values.

NOBLES: Gillespie did not campaign with the president, but Mr. Trump recorded robocalls and threw his support behind the establishment Republican on Twitter. In the final stretch of the campaign, Gillespie rallied around the culture wars the president has fueled, touting his support for Confederate monuments in tying illegal immigration with violent gangs in provocative ads like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ralph Northam's policies are dangerous.

NOBLES: A strategy that led to Northam flip-flopping on his support for sanctuary cities but ultimately failed to deliver Gillespie a win. Democrats also making significant gains in Virginia's House of Delegates, possibly forcing a number of recounts that could shift control of the chamber to Democrats for the first time in almost 20 years.

PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR-ELECT: With Donald Trump in the White House, and Steve Bannon holding Republicans in Congress hostage, governors will have never mattered more.

NOBLES: In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy easily defeating the state's Republican lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, who struggled to overcome the unpopularity of her boss, Governor Chris Christie. Hotly contested mayoral races in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Charlotte, North Carolina, also breaking in the Democrats' favor.

The blue wave extending to a number of social and cultural issues, as well. Virginia Democrat Danica Roem making history, becoming the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature, defeating a social conservative who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathroom she could use.

DANICA ROEM (D), ELECTED TO VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE: Every person who's ever been singled out, this one's for you.

NOBLES: And first-time politician Chris Hurst, the boyfriend of a reporter shot and killed on live TV in 2015, also elected in Virginia, upsetting a three-time Republican incumbent backed by the NRA.


NOBLES: And while the Republicans have not won a statewide election since 2009, there is some thought this morning by Republicans that last night's results shouldn't be taken that seriously, because these were Democratic races that Democrats should win.

Well, there is many Republicans still nervous about what happens in 2018 and possibly, even before that, hotly-contested Senate race in Alabama where a Trump-backed candidate polls show right now is locked in a tight race. That could perhaps provide an even greater glimpse into Donald Trump's impact on these races across the country -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Ryan, thank you very much for breaking all that down with us. Let's now discuss it with CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.

Gentlemen, great to see you. So David Gregory, size it up for us. How do you see what happened last night?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you have an unpopular president, a divided Republican Party and Democrats who were voting scared. I mean, every major Democrat in the country said you better get out and vote, really suggesting that, if Democrats did not show up with the energy and the engagement of the resistance to Trump, that it could really hurt the party in 2018 and beyond.

And so all those factors came together. We should also remember that Virginia is trending to be a blue state. And that usually the party in power loses the state's governor's race as the next big test once they get power.

But I think projecting forward, Trump is the big thing that happened that the midterms will reflect. And if you see more engagement on the part of Democrats and more division among Republicans between kind of a Trump populist Republican and more mainstream Republicans as we saw in Virginia, it's going to be very difficult for the Republican Party.

CUOMO: All right. So let's talk about that a little bit. Let's figure out what the point is, Captain Cillizza, for the GOP. The story for the Democrats is simple. We won! You know, the resistance had to show up. It did. David Gregory is spot on. What does this mean for Republicans? Because it seems like they have a hard choice. You know, do you step away from your party's president? Does that help you get elected or do you now see this message last night? If your state looks like this and you have to make a determination, what does it mean? CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Take

Ed Gillespie, because I think the challenge before Republicans. Ed Gillespie is running in the primary as a sort of mainstream, establishment pragmatic conservative. I mean, turning against Danny and Corey Stewart, who appeared with the Trump campaign, but it's widely written off. He has no chance.

Gillespie almost loses that race. No one saw that coming. He narrowly wins the primary.

General election. Gillespie is moving more and more. He's talking about MS-13; he's talking about sanctuary cities; he's talking about keeping up the Confederate monuments. Trumpism, Trump isn't in the state but Trumpism, he loses that race badly to Northam, particularly in the suburbs.

What does that tell you? That Trump's still very popular in the Republican Party, especially among voters who turn out in primaries and very unpopular and a vote motivator, a turnout motivator for Democrats, even independents in the general election. My guess is you will see some level of quiet and not so quiet panic out of Republicans over the next few days and weeks, because that's a very hard needle to thread. Be close enough to Trump but not too close to Trump. Didn't work for Ed Gillespie. It's going to be hard, I think, for lots of other people in running in states that are anything like Virginia.

GREGORY: But he did close strong, you know, and Northam had problems at the end. He did not close strong. And so you needed that engagement on the part of the Democratic base to overcome some of those problems.

And also, Northam is not your typical -- What I thought was interesting, Tom Perez, who runs the DNC in that piece, in the set-up piece, was saying, "Well, you know, Trump, you don't represent the values of the voters."

Well, does Northam represent Democratic values? Is that the kind of candidate they want to field or is it somebody much more progressive? I don't think Democrats have worked that out yet.

CILLIZZA: And worth noting, to David's point, just very quickly, in the last couple of weeks, lots of liberal Democrats were jumping off of the Ralph Northam band wagon, not necessarily because they thought he was going to lose but because of his handling of sanctuary cities and some of those other cultural issues that they've...

CUOMO: Less than that, on the Democrats' side of the ball, you're right about Northam. Gillespie's attacks got him to flip-flop. That's true. Ryan Nobles reported it in the piece, and it was there. And you saw a little flat period there in that day by day polling they were doing. So what's the message in that?

CILLIZZA: Well, it's been 12 hours, you know, since Virginia polls close. So I feel confident in making a hard and fast...

CUOMO: That's how we do it. That's how we do it. CILLIZZA: Here's what I would say, I think, Chris. The lesson is anti-Trumpism runs overall. That is doubts about the Republican -- doubts about the Democratic nominee are overwhelmed among liberals and Democrats by their distaste for Trump. Remember that Barack Obama was the greatest unifier of the Republican Party. He did what no Republican could do: unify the Republican Party over the eight years he was president. And they scored a lot of gains there.

[07:10:13] I think what you saw in Virginia last night is Donald Trump as the -- both the base motivator and unifier of the Democratic Party. Again, at least in Virginia.

CAMEROTA: But David, is there also another lesson from last night, and that is Ed Gillespie took a lot of cues from the Trump playbook, as we've been talking about, with going after sanctuary cities. He's saying he's going to keep up the Confederate -- Confederate statues. Saying that going after the NFL players who were taking a knee.

Is it also that Trump's brand of politics is not transferrable. That Trump is a singular candidate and that you actually can't just take a page from his book and play it effectively.

GREGORY: Look, that's a good question. And we need a little bit more time, I think, to judge that. But what I think is clear is that, in a race like this, in a governor's race or off-year races we will have next year, it's easier to make it a referendum on the party in control. The president control to react to a big event. Again, the election of Trump, or say a financial collapse, or the Iraq war, 9/11 as we've seen in the past. Where you have that issue being the big impact on the midterm.

You know, this -- by 2020, it becomes a choice between two people. And that's where the state of the Republican Party becomes important. Remember, for Trump, not just populists, not just people who haven't voted before, but tried and true Republicans came home to vote for him against Hillary Clinton. That is still going to be the test, whether he can hold that piece of the coalition together in Virginia.

As Chris writes in his column this morning, you look at Chesterfield County outside of Richmond, you have basically, old line Republicans, business Republicans, the same type you see in the Main Line outside Philadelphia. These were folks with college educations doing pretty well who voted for the Democrat. That becomes significant if you think of some of those House races that we're going to see in 2018 with Republicans playing defense.

CUOMO: That's why you see Bannon so twisted up, and the people on that side of the ball who wanted to play the harshness.

The president said in his tweet last night, don't forget we're four for four. Now it wasn't four for four last night. He was "oh" for four last night. But he was referring to something that's also instructive, Chris. They went four for four on home turf. Some of those races were close and shouldn't have been.

Roy Moore in Alabama against the Democrat in Alabama shouldn't even be close. It's locked up in the polls. It's not enough for him to have 80 percent of the self-identified GOP. He's not going to win that way. His challenge has always been to be to grow the ten. That's why last night has to bother them.

CILLIZZA: Yes, look, I get the spin that Trump is getting. But the truth of the matter is that special election win in Montana or South Carolina district, is not exactly. I mean, that's like saying Democrats won in Connecticut. I mean, it's not -- you don't necessarily get credit when you win the ones you're expected to win.

Virginia is a trending blue state, without question. But remember, before Barack Obama won in 2008, Lyndon Johnson was the last Democratic candidate that carried Virginia. This idea that Virginia is somehow Massachusetts and therefore should be written off is not accurate.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much. David Gregory and Chris Cillizza.

CUOMO: All right. So it's always important to ask that second question. You did your headline from last night, but what does it mean not just for the Democrats but for Republicans?

In our next hour, Republican Congressman Scott Taylor, OK, one of the young stars in this party, he is from Virginia. And he tells us what he thinks last night is about. And members of his party is not -- they're not going to like it.

We're also going to talk with New Jersey's governor-elect, Phil Murphy, about his big win. Why did it happen? What does it mean?

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, President Trump issuing a blunt warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, telling the North to never underestimate the power of the U.S., saying, quote, "Do not try us."

We have complete coverage of the president's trip to Asia, starting with CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He is live in Beijing, traveling with the president. What's the latest, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. President Trump did arrive here overnight in Beijing, arguably one of the most consequential visits here in China of his entire visit here. Of course, the Chinese-U.S. economic relationship so important.

The red carpet was, indeed, rolled out for the president, who just finished having dinner a few moments ago with President Xi Jinping. But it is still that speech in North Korea about North Korea that they delivered in Seoul. He's urging China and other world leaders to put more economic pressure on the North Korean regime. This was his message in Seoul.


TRUMP: I hope I speak not only for our countries. But for all civilized nations, when I say to the North do not underestimate us. And do not try us. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.


ZELENY: So those words, those harsh words, measured words, as well, directly about North Korea were also intended to be heard by China and Russia. That is a key topic of the agenda here.

The United States wants China to do more to economically squeeze the regime in North Korea. Of course, that is much, you know, a subject of debate here.

But Chris, there's also one other thing we're watching overnight. The White House also said the president will decide by the end of the week if he will put North Korea back on the designated terrorism watch list. Of course, they were taken off during the end of the Bush administration here. That's something the president did not address in his speech. But he's likely to address it before he leaves Asia.

CUOMO: Good point, Jeff Zeleny.

Thank you for the reporting and being on scene with the president.

North Korean officials tell CNN they believe the risk of war with the U.S. has never been higher. They are dismissing President Trump's warning, referring to him as a mad dog.

CNN is the only American network in North Korea. Will Ripley is there. This is his 17th visit. He joins us live from Pyongyang once again. What was inside that headline of calling the president a mad dog?

RIPLEY: Well, really, Chris, what the North Koreans were trying to do is to downplay the significance of his speech in Seoul. Even before it happened, they were telling us they had already heard enough from President Trump. They called him a mad dog. They've called him a lunatic.

I mean, you see posters all over this city with a variety of different insults for the U.S. president. He has been vilified here, particularly after his speech at the United Nations. And even though North Korea hasn't told its citizens yet about the speech in Seoul, even on the newscast tonight they were covering anti-Trump protests that were happening just about 120 miles from where I am here in the North Korean capital.

The speech for President Trump, significant in that he pointedly criticized North Korea's human rights record. And obviously, around the world it is known that North Korea doesn't hold a candle to the United States when it comes to the issue of human rights.

But if you ask citizens here in this country, they're told a very different narrative. They're told the U.S. is dangerous, chaotic, whereas this country is predictable and safe. Of course, the United Nations' testimony from defectors indicates that there are secret police cracking down on dissent, and anybody who speaks against this government is imprisoned in gulags and leads a very different standard of life than the one we are showing here in the showpiece capital.

But it was noteworthy today that before President Trump's speech, North Korea's leading newspaper would put out an article, but they were criticizing the United States on the issue of human rights. I'm going to read you a portion of it. It says, "The U.S. should not impudently style itself as a human rights judge but mind its own poor human rights records in its land where racial discrimination, gun- related crimes and all other social crimes prevail."

This is the kind of thing that North Korean officials have thrown back at me many times over the last several years, Chris, when I have asked them about alleged human rights abuses, and it's the argument we've heard once again today, even ahead of President Trump's speech.

CUOMO: All right, Will, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Now next, sources tell CNN President Trump directed the CIA chief to look into a conspiracy theory, denying Russian involvement in the DNC hack. What does it say about the president's relationship with the intel community? We ask a former CIA director.


[07:22:34] CAMEROTA: Intelligence sources tell CNN that CIA director Mike Pompeo recently met with a former NSA employee who denies that Russia meddled in the U.S. election. This employee believes the conspiracy theory that the theft of the DNC e-mails was an inside job. That meeting came at the urging of President Trump.

Michelle Kosinski is in Washington with more. What have you learned, Michelle?


Well, multiple intelligence sources are telling CNN that this meeting happened just about two weeks ago, on October 24 and that the president had wanted his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to meet with somebody who does not believe that it was Russia that hacked into the DNC's e-mails and distributed them right before the election, even though that is what the U.S. intelligence community believes.

This person, William Binney, used to be at the -- at the NSA, now has been putting out this theory that the hacking and the e-mail distribution was all an inside job at the DNC. So he says that he met with Pompeo for about an hour and that Pompeo started it off by saying, "The president told me I should meet with you."

White House hasn't had any comments or response to this as of yet, but the CIA did put out a statement, saying that Pompeo stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment.

But Binney told CNN that Pompeo also told him that he wanted Binney to meet with others at the FBI and at the NSA.

So what exactly is going on here? The very least, it shows that the president still is looking for other theories that are out there and this is clearly important to him, even though his own intelligence community believes that it was Russia that did the interfering in the election -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Michelle.

One more little piece of context, we have to remember that Pompeo did say something that the intelligence community had not concluded about the Russian interference, which is that it had no impact on the election. So that also shapes these latest moves.

Our thanks to Michelle Kosinski. Joining us now to discuss, former ambassador James Woolsey, also the former director of the CIA and served as an advisor to the Trump campaign. And CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

So Mr. Woolsey, how do you see these actions by the current CIA director?

[07:25:03] JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR/FORMER ADVISOR TO TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Depends entirely on whether they are conducting a counterintelligence investigation or whether or not there are possible criminal elements that are -- that are being looked into.

If it's the first, if they're looking into counterintelligence, there's nothing wrong with the president asking the head of the CIA to find out this, find out that. Counterintelligence is an effort to find out what another state may be doing by way of spying on us, and the Russian are doing that all the time.

So if it -- but if it -- if there is an element in it in which people are concerned that there may be some criminal violation, some violation, say of the espionage laws, the CIA should not be engaged in that. They are not criminal investigators, and it's not their charter, and it gets very tangled with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or null arrest.

So you've got to start by finding out what is being looked into. If it's counterintelligence, it's fine for Mike Pompeo to go ask questions of another government employee at the suggestion of the president.

CUOMO: John, what's your take on how that looks, that the president picks up the phone and says, "You're my guy. Go check into this guy who may help create a different narrative than the one I don't like about the Russia investigation"?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think you just said it during your question, Chris. It shows that he's, you know, looking for any opportunity to try to deflect what we believe to be the real source of the hacking here, which was the Russians. And because he doesn't like that narrative, he doesn't like the investigation, still considers it a witch-hunt, this is a nice way to deflect off of that.

But I do agree with Mr. Woolsey that we have to know a lot more about the context here surrounding this request. And, you know, and exactly what it is that prompted it and what it is that they learned from it before we jump to too many conclusions. Clearly, it does demonstrate the president's continued unease with the Russia investigation and where it's going.

CUOMO: Mr. Woolsey, one of the reasons that this is a little confusing for people, to put it gently, is that Director Pompeo says he has always been on board with the findings of the intelligence community in the IC report. If that's true, he wouldn't then have an open question as to whether or not the e-mails came from the DNC, because he would own the conclusion of the intelligence community that Russian actors hacked the e-mails. So how do you put those two together?

WOOLSEY: Russia has been interfering with its neighbors and other countries' elections and taking other efforts, what they call disinformation, disinformatia (ph)...

CUOMO: Right.

WOOLSEY: ... for decades. Back into the 1930s. They're always doing it.

CUOMO: Right.

WOOLSEY: It's a major part of their dealing with the outside world. It would be odd if they weren't trying to do something like this.

What is -- is different is that now, with computers and cyber and all this, one does not need to put an agent into some other country's territory to do something. One does it with a large number of KGB hackers sitting there in Moscow happily doing this and that.

CUOMO: We get it that technology is changing. But what I'm saying is, if I own the conclusion that Kirby hacked my e-mails and tried to interfere in the election, and you call me and say, "You should talk to this other guy. He thinks that it wasn't Kirby. It was somebody else." Why would I meet with that guy? I accept the conclusion that it was Kirby. That's what Pompeo says. He accepts the conclusion of the intelligence community. Why does he need to meet with this guy?

WOOLSEY: Well, I've often accepted for a working hypothesis a position that I look at, and after a while, turn around and say, "You know what? I don't think I have that exactly right."

There's nothing wrong with, as far as I'm concerned, with Mike Pompeo looking into this, as long as it's in the counterintelligence world. He might find that his first judgment is exactly right. Or maybe it's only 75 percent right. I don't know.


WOOLSEY: But the president can certainly ask a senior person like Mike Pompeo to look into a counterintelligence issue.

WOOLSEY: But his acceptance has always been tepid. You know that, Chris. I mean, again I agree with... CUOMO: ... no mistake, he says, when he said, "And by the way, none of it had any effect on the election," which was not what the intelligence community concluded. They said, "We're not going to touch that." So he had gone beyond them. They then pulled it back.

WOOLSEY: There's a difference between determining the outcome of the election and having any effect.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

WOOLSEY: If they went, if as a result of what the Russians did, it went from 70/30 to 60/40, that's a big effect. But it may not have changed the conclusion or the outcome.

CUOMO: Understood. Understood.

WOOLSEY: So let me ask you, while I have your two great minds at my disposal here. Let's shift topics to North Korea. This is a huge test for the president, not just about geopolitics, but his own personal politics and how he comes across. Let's play one of the pieces of sound that's getting the most attention from his big address last night in front of the South Korean assembly.