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Trump Jr. Won't Reveal Details of Call with His Father; California Wildfires Force More Than 100,000 to Evacuate; Protests in Bethlehem over Trump's Jerusalem Decision. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:45] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump Jr. invoking attorney/client privilege, refusing to answer questions from congressional investigators about his conversation with his father after that Trump Tower meeting between the campaign and Russians.
Now remember, Don Jr.'s statement initially said that meeting was about Russian adoption. The e-mail later shows that he accepted that meeting because it promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Joining us now is former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski. Hi, Corey.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: We'll get to your book "Let Trump Be Trump" in a second. Let's deal with news of the day. Should Don Jr. be more forthcoming about what that meeting was about with investigators?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Alisyn, look, I would say this. Anybody who was talking to a government official should be truthful. And what we have seen coming from this White House is every staff person who has been asked to cooperate is cooperating. The president is cooperating according to his attorney.
So, what I think the White House wants is a quick resolution to any type of investigation which will exonerate him and his team to further prove that there's no collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and a Russian official.
CAMEROTA: Look, it would help -- I think it would help congressional investigators if Don Jr. were more forthcoming. Here's what we know about what he said yesterday.
He said that he crafted that statement. He consulted Hope Hicks, now the director of communications to deal with that. He did not say that he talked to his dad. Does that wash with you? That Donald Trump, the president wouldn't have been involved in crafting that statement that the Washington Post in their reporting said that on the airplane, Donald Trump dictated how he wanted that statement read about adoption.
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I wasn't familiar with that issue. Obviously that took place since I have left the team. But it would not be unheard of that, you know, the -- there is an individual in between the president and an individual who is trying to get a statement out to approved. It would be very course in the common course that that person could have been a communications professional like Hope Hicks or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or somebody else.
CAMEROTA: Yes. But in your experience, did Don. Jr. have access to his dad? Did they communicate a lot during the campaign and beyond?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, of course. I mean, look, my children have access to me. I'm sure everyone's children have access to them. But from what I understand in this particular issue, this is when the president was on Air Force One returning from a long overseas trip. So of course he would have had access.
The question was would it have been something that Don Jr. wanted or needed to speak to his father about or would he have been working directly with staff and other people. And I just don't know the answer.
CAMEROTA: So you were in the campaign though when the Trump Tower meeting happened with this group of Russians. And so, what do you know about that?
LEWANSDOWSKI: I was part of the campaign at that time. I was still the campaign manager but I wasn't, a, invited to the meeting. I didn't know about the meeting, b. And c, learned about the meeting after it was publicly reported here on CNN and other networks.
So, that was a meeting that took place in June of 2016. I was still at the campaign. It was about a week before I had left the campaign.
CAMEROTA: But nobody bounced it off of you.
LEWANDOWSKI: No. I was never made aware of it and didn't know the meeting existed until it was publicly available, you know, in the last recent weeks and months.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about your book "Let Trump Be Trump". When did you decide to write that?
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, it was probably some time after the president had gotten sworn in and I thought back about the historic nature of the campaign. And really what he tapped into the American people, the movement that he saw, the pulse that he has on the people. And so, me and my co-author David Bossie who was the deputy campaign manager decided that we want to put together a realistic account of what it was like to be on what may be the most historic campaign of presidential politics in our lifetimes or maybe forever.
CAMEROTA: And you do include some fascinating tidbits. One that gotten a lot of attention is about Donald Trumps wrath towards his staff.
"Sooner or later, everybody who works for Donald Trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place. His wrath is never intended as a personal offense, but sometimes it can be hard enough to take it that way. The mode that he switches into when things aren't going his way can feel like an all- out assault; it'd break most hardened men and women into little pieces."
Is that a good managerial style, Corey?
[06:35:01] LEWANDOWSKI: I'll tell you, Alisyn, you know, that is a -- what I'm trying to explain there is that he deserves the best. He demands the best. He forces his people to be the best they can be.
And when I failed, and I failed a lot in the campaign, you know, he let me know that. And what that did is that made me a better person. And it was such an honor to have the privilege of working next to him to make me a better manager, to make me more efficient. You know, this is a man who has achieved so much success in his life, in politics, real estate, television, books.
CAMEROTA: With a lot failures. I mean, with some very high profile failures in terms of bankruptcies -- .
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, but look you have about --Alisyn, look, I think if you and I could choose to be worth $10 billion and the leader of the free world, we'd both take it regardless of, you know, many shortcomings we have.
CAMEROTA: I don't know about $10 billion. But OK, fair enough, I hear you. I hear you for your fan.
Let's talk about what has happened since you've left and what your thoughts are. Should the president this week have endorsed Roy Moore?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, sure, he should because look, the dichotomy in the race is very clear. You have one individual who wants to come to Washington and stop illegal immigration, move tax relief forward for working class families and be a pro-Second Amendment individual.
Then we have a different individual in the race who is anti-illegal -- anti-stopping illegal immigration, wants more taxes and he's anti- Second Amendment. So the people of Alabama have to choose. It's a binary choice in Alabama. It's not that they are two conservatives in the race.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I understand but you do seem to be glossing over a little bit of the history of eight women coming forward against Roy Moore making accusations that he -- with in the case of two assaulted them when they were teenagers, one of whom was 14. You know, yesterday you called Al Franken a pig.
CAMEROTA: Is Roy Moore a pig?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look. Here's the difference between the two. One has an accusation and those accusations seem to be taken very, very seriously. And the people of Alabama need to weigh if those accusations are real. And if so, they need to make that decision at the ballot box.
The difference with Al Franken is there's not an accusation here. We have pictures, we have evidence and we have an admission of guilt by Al Franken that he decided it was appropriate to grope women while they were sleeping and thought it was a joke. And you're caught reality, Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: So if you take responsibility for it and you apologize, then you're a pig?
LEWANDOWSKI: Alisyn, your colleague refused to even acknowledge -- your colleague refused to even acknowledge that groping those women when they were asleep was a disgusting thing and Al Franken should resign. What he said was a stupid picture.
CAMEROTA: Come on.
LEWANDOWSKI: When he was asked yesterday, your colleague was asked yesterday by Kellyanne Conway --
CAMEROTA: Are you talking about Chris?
LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, was asked --
CAMEROTA: Come on. You don't think that Chris thinks that it's --
LEWANDOWSKI: -- Al Franken grope those women.
CAMEROTA: He is against groping women. Of course he is, come on.
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, what well, look. Let's go back to the tape. Go back to the tape when he said exactly, a stupid picture.
CAMEROTA: Hold on a second, Corey. The picture is Al Franken -- look it's different.
LEWANDOWSKI: Groping a woman who is asleep. In the state of New Hampshire, we call that assault.
CAMEROTA: And what do you call assaulting a woman behind a shopping mall when she's 16 years old? What do you call that in the sate of New Hampshire?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Alisyn, the difference is one is accused of it, one has admitted to it. One is a senior U.S. senator and guess what, 50 percent of his colleague has now asked him to --
CAMEROTA: Corey, what you're pulling right now -- so in other words, if you ever take responsibility for something you did years ago, you should have -- get, you know, have the book thrown at you. If you just say that women are lying, Al Franken was a pig.
LEWANDOWSKI: Why is it that 50 percent of Al Franken's colleagues in the Democratic caucus have asked him to resign because another allegation was brought against him yesterday.
CAMROTA: Corey, why is it that you believe the Al Franken accusers and you don't believe the Roy Moore accusers?
LEWANDOWSKI: That's not what I said.
CAMEROTA: Then why isn't Roy Moore a pig in your mind?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, if what Roy Moore is accused of he did, he's a disgusting animal as well and he has no right to serve in the U.S. Senate. But what you have --
CAMEROTA: But you don't believe the accusers?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, no that's not what I -- Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: Do you believe them?
LEWANDOWSKI: -- what I said was, those allegations need to be taken absolutely seriously. And what Roy Moore has to do is he has to answer to the voters. And what Al Franken is going to do today finally, which is a real profile in courage, is resign from the U.S. Senate because another accuser, his eighth one, came out yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Corey, next topic. Steve Bannon, a man you know well. This week he went after Mitt Romney for not fulfilling military service. Mitt Romney had gone on religious missions. He said that Mitt Romney and his family should be ashamed, his sons that they didn't sign up for the military.
Should the same apply to Donald Trump and his sons?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think every person who has the opportunity to serve is a decision that they have to make. I didn't serve in the military but my brother was a 20-year marine. My father served in Vietnam and my grandfather served in World War II. That is a decision.
CAMEROTA: Do you hold it against Mitt Romney like Steve Bannon does?
LEWANDOWSKI: I don't hold it against anybody who chooses or not chooses to serve our great military. But I'm grateful for the men and women that do and protect us everyday including many members of my family.
But I never served so I am not going to be here to cast dispersion on people who also didn't serve. I don't know what the circumstances are of any one individual but I am grateful for the people who decide to volunteer to make sure that you and I have a great country that we can sleep in every night and make it the greatest country in the world.
[06:40:03] CAMEROTA: Understood and agreed. Do you think that Steve Bannon and his rhetoric are dangerous?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think what Steve Bannon wants to do is he wants to change Washington D.C. And the way he wants to go about doing that is to find candidates who aren't willing to stick with the status quo.
But that being said, and Mitch McConnell talked about this yesterday, there will be racists. I am certain of it. Where Steve Bannon and Mitch McConnell both agree that there is one candidate who should come to Washington. And I think of a state like Ohio with Josh Mandel where I think both of those individuals are supporting one candidate against Sherrod Brown.
So I don't think it's a binary choice between Steve Bannon's candidate and Mitch McConnell's candidate.
CAMEROTA: OK, Steve Bannon sometimes does. But hey, listen, very quickly lightning around from the book. Why does Hope Hicks, the director of communications having to steam the president's pants?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, because everybody does everything on the campaign. And what I didn't put in there is that Keith Schiller and George Gigicos and Corey Lewandowski, all do the same thing. And Corey's goes get the food runs and --
CAMEROTA: Hold on, Corey, that's it. Do you steam the president's pants while he's wearing them?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, of course. I mean, look when you're in a rush, Alisyn, we're doing 25 events a day. And we're stuck in the airplane for 15 seconds, we're going to make sure things are ready. And if that's part of my job as a campaign manager, I do it all.
CAMEROTA: When the president would order for dinner, two Big Macs, two fillet of fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake and eat all of that, were you concerned about him?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, he never ate the bread which is the important part. So it's really just, you know, there's couple sandwich -- a fish sandwiches and a couple pieces of meat and a drink. And, you know, was I concerned? No. He was so busy campaigning, we didn't have time to sit down for a meal.
CAMEROTA: There you go. Corey Lewandowski, thanks so much. The book again "Let Trump Be Trump." Great to talk to you.
LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That was good. I like it. I like it.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I was --
CUOMO: He didn't eat the bread, and that's the important part. I don't know if it just like pops out of his head like piss or it's like, you know, he felt about what --
CAMEROTA: I appreciate your measured response when he was talking about you. I was happy that he wasn't in the studio.
CUOMO: That's all he has.
CAMEROTA: I didn't know what would happen in that. CUOMO: That's all they have. We all know what's going on with these allegations. Everybody is playing them the political advantage. You're seeing it with the Democrats now with this mob moving on Franken.
Does he get due process? Roy Moore supposed to have due process? Would they just kick Roy Moore out if he went to this election? How?
That our system works? Anyway, Corey can say what he wants. He just often doesn't say it that well.
Multiple wildfires are ranging out of control in Southern California. Santa Ana winds are such a big problem out there. They're literally turbo charging the flames. So many firefighters out there putting their lives on the line. Is there any progress? We have a live report, next.
[06:46:36] CUOMO: Potentially catastrophic winds are posing what's called an extreme fire danger in Southern California where it's already ravaged by wildfires. Take a look at your screen. This video shows the largest fire, it's called the Thomas Fire. And it's just destroying so many communities in Ventura County.
More than a hundred thousand people have been forced from their homes just a few weeks before Christmas. Tens of thousands of acres are just lost.
CNN's Stephanie Elam, live in Ventura County, California. I mean, look, you got to gear on. You have too if you're going be near. That's smoke let alone the flames for any length of time.
How are you holding up? How the firefighters holding up?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's difficult for the firefighters, Chris. If you take a look behind me here, what you see over my shoulder here, this is the part of the 101, the Pacific Coast Highway where they merged. And what we know that it is closed down in both directions to access Santa Barbara to the north right now.
And that is because of this Thomas fire which has burned some 95,000 acres and there's only five percent contained. And earlier, just about an hour ago or so, we went into this neighborhood of La Conchita which is right off of the highway. It only has one way in and out of it off the freeway. And there, we shot some video of the fire racing down the hill towards this little community.
This is a community that has dealt with many natural disasters many years ago. They had a catastrophic landslide in this neighborhood as well.
That fire racing down and while we were standing there, Chris, we're watching embers blow off of that fire in this strong Santa Ana winds. And hit the palm tree in that -- a palm tree lit up. And that is right above some houses there. So then, these are the mandatory evacuations moving people out of there. All of that is part of the same system that you see behind me where it's coming down the hill here on the freeway. That is why I have on the goggles and the mask as well because it's burning our eyes, and also it's irritating our lungs here.
But behind me, I can hear the crackling of the fire and I can hear the crashing of the ocean in this direction. And that's just this Thomas Fire. You still have the Skirball Fire which we saw light up by the Getty museum yesterday. That is 458 acres and five percent contained.
So, Alisyn, when you take a look at this, it is still very precarious situation in California as these winds are going to be super strong today. And that could lead into strong winds again this afternoon.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely, we can see of all of that just from your live shot there, Stephanie. Be careful. We can see how close the fire is. Thank you very much for your reporting.
So, when will those unpredictable winds lead up?
CNN's Meteorologist Chad Myers is looking at it. He has the forecast. What happens today, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What happens today is that the winds go up from here. We even have some gusts overnight of 70 miles per hour sustained at 45. And that's going to be the story of the day. It doesn't until Saturday.
This weather is brought to you by Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry.
The wind already here picking and fanning the flames here for Thomas, Rye Creek, and Skirball as Stephanie was talking about. Skirball, almost really in the middle of town where the others -- in the wild land areas but they burned into Ventura and now in the La Conchita, 30 to 45 miles per hour right now.
Notice the reds by 7:00 a.m. That's a 45 mile per hour sustained wind with higher gusts here. And tomorrow morning it doesn't get a whole lot better, still in that 40 mile per hour range. You have to understand, when you get a 20 mile per hour wind, that embers fly with that wind.
[06:50:01] Now, there will be some relief finally by Saturday in that whole shift in the pattern is going to cool things down. We'll get some snow here in Atlanta, 29 degrees for a morning low Saturday morning. Chris?
CUOMO: All right. Chad, thank you.
MYERS: That's cool for us.
CUOMO: I know and, you know, if only we could move the weather where we needed, you know. It's always one of the big frustrations of your job. So often, what's happening in one part of the country is really what we need somewhere else. But that's not how it works, brother. Be well, Chad.
President Trump formally recognized in Jerusalem as Israel's capital. What implications will this decision have? Why did he do it now? Does this advance or hinder peace?
CUOMO: Breaking news, there is violence breaking out in Bethlehem. You're looking it right now, Palestinian protesters demonstrating against President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
This is clearly a developing situation. We'll keep you posted on it.
Right now, we're just seemed to be some tires burning back there. But there have been objects thrown. There are people in the streets. Security is getting heavy.
This is all going on as the White House admits the president's decision could temporarily derail the peace process.
Joining us now is CNN Global Affairs Analyst Aaron David Miller.
ADM, you are the perfect guest for this. The word from the White House is, we said we would do this. It's been promised for a long time. We're making good on the promise.
And we have calculated that there may be a temporary hiccup in relations. But in the long term, it's worth it.
[06:55:00] AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, for almost 25 years we tried to do everything possible to dodge this issue. I mean, every secretary of state I worked for, when it came -- when the issue came to Jerusalem it was always punt, don't play with it, don't mess around with it. It's the most combustible vital issue in the negotiations.
Look, Chris, the peace process is dead. Trump may just have buried it with this announcement. But the reality is what he did yesterday has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It has everything to do with a frustrated president, a willful president who decided he wanted to fulfill a campaign commitment.
He was tired of using the national security waiver. He used it once in June. Just like Iran, he was tired of certifying. He told his constituents and he made commitments, and it's the end of the year.
So, you check this box. TPP, check that box. Tax reform, check that box. Withdraw from Paris climate, check that box.
This was about the triumph in my judgment of domestic politics and personal conviction to separate himself from Barack Obama and fundamentally do something that no American president has ever done. And he did it yesterday. CUOMO: So here's some pushback. The bills say this was a law passed by Congress in 1995. This was supposed to happen, and presidents have not had the strength. Trump has the strength to do this.
Israel is our most ally in the region. They want this. They've asked for it. We promised it to them.
He is showing the strength and the loyalty to that relationship. That's who he is. He's different than other presidents.
MILLAR: That may be true. But the reality is even if there is no peace process right now, and even if the peace process is dead, it may not be dead and buried. So my take on this is, what national interest with respect to American security credibility image does this really address?
I don't think it addresses any of those. And the notion that somehow you need to break egg -- a lot of eggs to make an omelet may be true. But I just do not understand what the relationship is between taking this act, which clearly makes a lot of Israelis happy, a lot of evangelicals happy, Jewish community here is a complicated one. Not all American Jews but a lot of the organized community.
But what impact does it have in the region? And I think this is the key. So, last point, look for three indications of whether or not the Middle East has changed and whether or not the administration is right in its analysis.
Number one, what are the Arab states going to do? These declarations seem to be mild, frankly. And I was told they were coordinated with the administration, particularly, the south with the Saudis.
Number two, how much violence will there really be on the ground. It can't be sustained. Are we on the verge and look to tomorrow's prayers on the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount as an indication of how bad this might be?
And finally, what does this do to the American role? Pence is going to go to the Middle East this month. Let's see if Mahmoud Abbas sees him.
CUOMO: All right, thank you.
ADM, just so you know, right now, we're showing live pictures of what's happening in Ramallah. You have what appears to be a group of young people. Again, there are some burning tires. They're getting a sling shots going there and they're throwing objects at security now.
This will be argued by proponents of this move as proof of the need for it. That, you know, this is what's going on out there. And you don't reward violence by not making a step in the right direction like calling Jerusalem the capital. They'll use this as proof of the strength of the decision. How do you see it?
MILLER: I don't see it that way because I'm not sure. I mean, it's kind of a tautology. The notion that you take -- you hit somebody over the head with a hammer, what do you expect them to do, just roll over and say I'll sign the deal right now? No.
There's clearly going to be reaction. The question though is, how sustained and how severe the reaction. Does the Israeli control of the West Bank and Shin Bet's cooperation with the Palestinian authority? Is it still viable? Will it preempt some of this stuff?
So, again, I think we are in for a rough patch. The real question though is, how widespread is this going to be and how sustainable? But I'll comeback to the final point, Chris.
This administration has a tendency to create solutions for problems that don't exist. I still do not understand and as a member of the American-Jewish Community, our embassy should be in West Jerusalem. It's one of the few countries in the world in which the United States does not maintain its embassy in the preferred capital of the host country.
The problem is one person's floor is another person's ceiling. And the United State has a broader obligation not just to deal with the realities here at home, domestic politics or Israeli political realities. We need to think more broadly about what constitutes American national interest. This was in my judgment --