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Trump To Drastically Shrink Two Utah National Monuments; Trump: FBI's "Reputation Is In Tatters, Worst In History"; NYT: McFarland E- mailed Russia Had "Thrown U.S.A. Election" To Trump. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired December 4, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: This is a big story. It would be the biggest merger of its kind ever. Drugstore giant CVS going to buy health insurer, Aetna, $69 billion. Even more if you include the debt. If approved, the megamerger would be the largest health insurance deal in history.
It would revamp the health care industry. Not a done deal. Not even close. It will need to be approved by anti-trust regulators. It remains to be seen if President Trump or the Justice Department will intervene.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In New York's Metropolitan Opera suspending famed music director, James Levine, over allegations of sexual misconduct. "The New York Times" reports three men have come forward accusing Levine of sexually abusing them decades ago. The MET says it has hired investigators to determine if the accusations are true.
Levine stepped down as the MET's music director in 2016, but he was scheduled to lead a new production this month. CNN has reached out to Levine for comments and we will update the story when we have it.
CUOMO: All right. The college football playoff field is set but not without controversy, of course. Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." What do you see?
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, the big debate came down to whether the playoff committee would put a two loss big 10 champ Ohio State or one loss Alabama for that fourth and final spot. The committee deciding that 'Bama was unequivocally better than the Buckeyes.
So, over the third straight year, Clemson is going to play 'Bama in the playoffs. The two meeting for the championship the past two seasons. They will play in the Sugar Bowl.
On the other side of the bracket, you have Heisman favorite, Baker Mayfield Oklahoma taking on Georgia in the Rose Bowl game in New Year's Day. All right. The Patriots beating the Bills easily yesterday, but you wouldn't have known it if you looked at how they were acting on the field. In the first quarter, Tom Brady just gets into it with offensive guard, Josh McDaniels after he told Brady he missed a wide- open receiver.
Then in the fourth, check this out, after an interception, Rob Gronkowski will hit Bill Tre'Davious White with a WWE style elbow drop. White left the game and was placed in concussion protocol. Gronk was flagged for the play but not ejected for the game. Alisyn, he will be hearing from the league office soon and possibly even facing suspension.
CAMEROTA: OK, Andy, keep us posted on that. Thanks so much.
[06:35:02] All right. President Trump expecting to make a major announcement today slashing the size of two national monuments. CNN's Bill Weir visited them to find out why critics are up in arms and why supporters could not be happier. That's next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump will travel to Utah this morning where he is expected to announce plans to drastically shrink two Utah national monuments. CNN's Bill Weir visited them and has more on what's next.
BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Let me show you the epicenter of what is the biggest environmental fight of the day. Yep. There they are. See those two beauts? Those are the bears ears.
[06:40:06] But they are just a tiny piece of this huge fight because Bears Ears National Monument is 1.35 million acres.
(voice-over): That is over 2,000 square miles of wild western vistas holding a potential fortune in oil, gas, and uranium. Underneath, tens of thousands of Native American ruins. To folks like Mark Merrymoy, these sites are worth more than any mineral. To the Navajo and Hoppi (ph) Zunian youths these canons hold the spirits of loved ones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They live among us, just like you and I.
WEIR (on camera): These are your neighbors?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WEIR (voice-over): The person who carved this art 1,200 years ago signed all of their work with a wolf paw, but equally striking are the modern bullet holes. Just one sign of the tension that goes back to the first Mormon wagon trains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't want to work with us. In fact, one of them said you guys lost a war. You have no business talking about that process. WEIR: For generations, natives sought protection for this land. It wasn't until the five tribes put aside their differences, rallied the support of rich outdoorsmen like Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, and lobbied the feds that they got their wish.
Weeks before leaving office, Barack Obama declared Bears Ears off limits to any new drilling or mining, and while some cheered the prospect of a new tourist economy, others saw it as pure tyranny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt kind of like a sucker-punch. It didn't feel right and it hasn't felt right for a year.
WEIR: Phil Lyman is among the Trump supporters who spent the weekend cheering the president's decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument significantly.
They point out that the biggest forest county in Utah already has four other parks and monuments. They don't want elites using their backyard as a playground. They just want to control their own destiny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By designating a monument, what you're doing is you are using a tool that will bring hordes of people to a place that is very sensitive. There is nothing that we want to unprotect. There's 13 layers of protection on artifacts and species and wildlife and vegetation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are loopholes in those rules that you can drive an oil on rig through.
WEIR: Josh Ewing came from Nebraska to climb rocks. He felt so hard for the landscapes of history, he formed an advocacy group and is building a visitor center with whatever donations he can raise online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this was anywhere else other than Southern Utah, I don't care if it was Mongolia or Zimbabwe, it would have been protected as a national park a long time ago. But because of the politics of Utah, this place is still a debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits.
WEIR: The head of Patagonia says he's ready for a long, legal fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're losing this planet and we have an evil government. Not just the federal government, but the whacko politicians out of Utah and places. It's evil and I'm not going to stand back and just let evil win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's his net worth? A billion dollars, two billion dollars. You have Patagonia waving the flag in environmentalism while he is completely exploiting the outdoors for industrialized tourism.
WEIR: If these rocks could talk, they would tell of centuries of bloody human conflict before the United States decided to set aside the special corners for we, the people. This is your land, but Bears Ears is a reminder that how it is used all comes down to how you vote. Bill Weir, CNN, Near Bluff, Utah.
CUOMO: An interesting look how the people who are there see the change that is being put upon them. Our thanks to Bill Weir for the piece.
All right. So, President Trump is once again launching an extraordinary assault on the FBI. Does his attorney general agree with him that the bureau is in tatters? We're going to talk to former director of National Intelligence about what it means when a president attacks the institutions of our democracy, next.
CUOMO: President Trump taking on the FBI again, saying its reputation is in tatters, the worst in history. This comes after his fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, of course, and is now cooperating with special counsel.
Look, the tactic is obvious. This is what the president of the United States does. He attacks things that he is threatened by. What is its effect? Let's discuss.
We have CNN national security analyst, James Clapper. He is the former director of national intelligence under President Obama. It is good to have you, sir. We have a number of items to get your take on.
Let's start with this. The president doesn't like what's going on with the FBI, so he says it is terrible. It's the worst. It's in tatters, but don't worry, I'll fix it.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this is part of what has come to be I think a predictable pattern for President Trump to attack something that poses a threat to him, as you indicated.
[06:50:11] And of course, apart from the ridiculous substance of the charge, the FBI is the premier law enforcement organization not just in this country but in the world. It is not in tatters.
It is a superb organization with tremendous men and women, who are dedicated, many of whom put their lives on the line every day for the safety and security of this country. But regrettably, this seems to be the common practice of President Trump.
CUOMO: Do you think the attorney general has a duty to address these comments that Christopher Wray, the new head of the FBI has a duty to address them?
CLAPPER: I most certainly do, and I think the longer there is silence, that infers acquiescence or agreement with what the president said, and I think it's important not just for the attorney general but also the leader of the FBI, Wray, to say something about this. The Special Agents Organization already has, which for them is a pretty unusual thing.
CUOMO: Well, look, it is a tough spot. No question. They would be put in a position to have to contradict the president. They are working for him. He may well come after them. But at the end of the day, they work for the American people. They are there for the constitution and for the rest of us not for him.
So, we'll see what they say. Let me get your take on another emerging issue here. What do you make of the new facts and circumstances surrounding Michael Flynn's activities?
CLAPPER: Well, I think the developments were very, very dramatic and quite profound and didn't come as a big surprise. Obviously, Mike Flynn is not a coffee boy. If anybody has insight into developments particularly as they pertain to Russia during a campaign, during the transition, at least in the first 24 days of the administration is Mike Flynn.
So, I think this is a very, very significant development in terms of its meaning and as well potential implications for others surrounding the president.
CUOMO: K.T. McFarland was national security adviser now waiting to see if not -- if she'll be the American representative for Singapore. The issue of was Flynn rogue, was he acting alone? That has been what has been explained by those around the president, that this guy was a one off.
Now K.T. McFarland has an e-mail where she said on December 29th, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, wrote in an e-mail that the sanctions that were announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump's victory.
The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him, she wrote in the e-mails obtained by the "Times."
So, there's two issues here, one I think is pretty easy to dismiss, which is there are some speculation as to whether or not K.T. McFarland is admitting in that e-mail that Russia helped Trump. I don't think that was her intention at all. Knowing her and you probably know her as well.
But that is the optics of it, let me know if you have a different take on that, but the larger issue is that these people knew what Flynn was doing. He was in communication with them. They were sharing the communications from Flynn. He was not a one off.
CLAPPER: I agree with you, Chris. I think the statement and the e- mail, which can often happen is trying to be taken out of context. I do believe the larger issue is that Mike Flynn was not operating all by himself unilaterally without at least consultation, if not, direction from others in the Trump camp. CUOMO: Now, and again, that doesn't make anything illegal on its face. But as you well know, Mr. Clapper, and you teach the rest of us, it is about what story is being told to authorities. If that story is inconsistent with the facts, then even if the behavior wasn't illegal on its face, how you explain it or how you deceive about it becomes just as relevant. Mr. Clapper, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it, as always -- Alisyn.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Chris.
CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump just tweeted about the Republican tax bill and he endorsed embattled Senate candidate, Roy Moore. A top White House point person here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president has been obsessed with this investigation, always saying there's nothing there. Each week another shoe drops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no evidence of collusion. But if there was, Flynn would know when he talked to the FBI director and asked him effectively to drop this case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew that Flynn had committed a federal crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The firing of the Director Comey is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That's obstruction of justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We followed the regular order. We didn't do anything that you could a foul.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that is regular order, I would hate to seeing something else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were zero hearings on the bill.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's the largest tax decrease in the history of our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very people they say they want to help are going to get hit pretty hard. They've got some explaining to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump once trying to undermine the credibility of the FBI. The president launching an extraordinary assault in the nation's top law enforcement agency saying its reputation is in tatters. This comes, of course, after fired national security adviser, Mike --