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Trump, Jr. Invokes Attorney-Client Privilege; Protests Break Out Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision; Sen. Al Franken To Speak On Senate Floor Today. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that you can do better?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It's hard to tell. We've been up against a lot of those same stratagems.
We've had the attorney general come before us and have failures of recollection. I don't know if it's full-on amnesia but certainly, there was a lot of not recalling.
And we have also seen a lot of what I consider to be improper assertions of executive privilege, not attorney-client privilege. But these non-assertion assertions of privilege or assertions of privileges that don't seem to have any foundation in the actual privilege --
WHITEHOUSE: -- are a challenge to get around until you've got a legal procedure to enforce them.
Usually, it's in reaction to a subpoena. Because Republicans control the gavel, getting to a subpoena is very difficult.
CAMEROTA: Right, and I wanted to ask you about that. I'm sorry to interrupt.
But in our waning seconds that we have here, do you agree with Sen. Dianne Feinstein that the chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, is slow- rolling this investigation on your committee intentionally?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, when we've had more and more consequential hearings in my and Sen. Lindsey Graham's staffless little subcommittee than in the full judiciary with all of its staff support, I think there's a case to be made that the Judicial Committee is not standing up to its responsibilities at this point.
CAMEROTA: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you very much for helping us sort through all of the news of the day.
WHITEHOUSE: A pleasure.
CAMEROTA: Chris -- CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's go back to those live pictures of what's going on in response to the United States' move of their embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as Israel's capital. This is Ramallah. We're seeing the same type of scenes in Bethlehem.
We're going to take you there, next.
[07:35:50] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news for you right now.
We've been following this violence here in Ramallah. This is -- these are protests that you're seeing. These are live pictures -- breaking out in the West Bank after -- following President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
This comes as the top leader of Hamas calls for a new uprising against Israel.
CNN's Ian Lee has been on the ground there in Ramallah for us. He has all of the breaking details. What's the situation, Ian?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this is a pitched battle going back and forth and we've just saw a number of people injured here.
You can see an American flag going forward. This man's waving it. He's walking forward.
Let's just see what he does with it. It looks like he's putting it into the tires that are on fire there. He's burning the flag.
And this is the anger that we've seen directed towards the United States. You know, people angry about President Trump's decision yesterday.
You know, this battle, though, we've seen Palestinians throwing rocks. They've had slingshots.
The Israelis are about oh, 200 or 300 meters in that direction. They've been firing rubber bullets and earlier, they let loose a barrage of tear gas and that really sent everyone scrambling.
But you can see here just people are gathering more rocks, moving forward, and throwing them in that direction. You can't see the Israelis because they're covered with this black, thick smoke. But, you know, this is the violence that a lot of Arab leaders warned that could happen.
Now, will this sustain itself? That's to be seen. But today, this is the largest protest in this area that we've seen in quite a long time.
People out here, you know, on the front line. You have men and women throwing rocks in that direction. It's a real -- a lot of people are just really angry -- that's all you can say -- directed towards the Americans, directed towards the Israelis.
And, you know, there is some anger towards the Palestinian leadership. Frustration that they don't believe that they're doing enough. But today, as you can see, they're just venting that anger, venting that frustration.
CUOMO: So, we're watching you in Ramallah.
In Bethlehem, we're seeing a similar scene but with some different equipment. They seem to have a tear gas launcher there and what I thought was maybe a water cannon. But, Alex Marquardt, our correspondent, says maybe a skunk truck where they shoot a very foul- smelling liquid into crowds and it forces people to disperse. It just went off right now.
Is that what -- are they using that type of equipment there as well or you're unable to tell because of the black smoke?
LEE: Well, you know, Chris, just a little while ago it was that truck that released all of those volleys of tear gas that pushed everyone back, and that's what we saw.
But also you have -- you do have those water cannon trucks and that skunk water smells like raw sewage and it gets on you and it doesn't go away for a few days, and that really -- you know, it really stinks up the place. And that's something that we've seen, actually, in the distance. You can see one of those trucks but you can't -- they haven't used that. At least we haven't seen them use it yet in this protest.
But -- all right -- that sounds probably like that was a stun grenade. We've heard those from time-to-time, too. Those small grenades about the size of my fist that goes off and releases a loud noise.
But, you know, this is the -- this is really, you know, the scene here in Ramallah that we've seen play out -- also in Bethlehem. We've been talking to people that say that this is something that they plan on continuing to do -- continue these protests.
CUOMO: All right, Ian. Thank you very much.
Again, the first order is always to be safe. Thank you so much for your eyes and ears on the ground helping us understand this first wave of reaction. Stay safe.
[07:40:00] We'll check back with you. You let us know when you have information that warrants your exposure there again.
All right. Our thanks to Ian Lee and his team.
He is calm. It is not easy to be calm in the situation he is in right now. Those are some brave men and women bringing you the reality.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. Congressman, thank you for joining us. Appreciate you taking the opportunity.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT), MEMBER, PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: Good morning.
CUOMO: So, these scenes in Bethlehem and Ramallah not necessarily a surprise, but how do you think that they should be weighed as a measure of the decision of the United States to move their embassy?
STEWART: Well, I think it's a little bit too early to tell. There are -- there are many of us who did have some concerns about the timing of this.
I met with Prince -- or King Abdullah, for example, last week and others who generally support the policy. They're a little bit concerned about the timing. But, you know, we look back on many frustrations over many, many years now and maybe this opens the door.
I'm a little bit hesitant. Again, I wish we'd maybe waited a little bit but let's wait and see what happens. And like you said, hopefully, there's no violence and people don't get hurt.
CUOMO: What's the upside? How does this help peace?
STEWART: Well, we don't know yet. I mean, and the effort clearly is intended to bring and move forward the peace process. But I know --
CUOMO: How so?
STEWART: But I know that's the president's intention.
And I think what it does is it codifies it. It says something that we've been saying for a generation now and that is Jerusalem is the undisputed capital of Israel and this reflects that reality.
But we've been kind of talking out of both sides of our mouths in this, and when I say that I mean Republicans, Democrats, and other countries as well.
They, on one hand, have said Jerusalem is the capital but we're going to put our embassies somewhere else. And this is an effort just to reflect that idea that Jerusalem is the capital. We'll, therefore, put our capital there -- I'm sorry, we'll put our embassy there and then, we'll hopefully move the peace process forward despite that or because of that. That's what remains to be seen.
CUOMO: But why is that an OK proposition that it's a 50-50 measure of whether the peace process will happen despite this move or because of this move?
STEWART: Well, because this is such a complicated issue, as you know. I mean, there have been good men and women who for generations have tried to solve this -- have tried to create a lasting peace there. Have tried to, you know, settle the settlements issue or the capital issue or the --
When you go to the area you realize how incredibly complicated and difficult it is and nothing is assured. So you have to try different things and hopefully, something moves the pieces a little bit. But you never know that. There is no guarantee on anything that we try.
CUOMO: Well, we'll see how this plays out --
CUOMO: -- I guess. I mean, I hope it wasn't just checking a box of a campaign promise because, you know, that's a real tinderbox over there, Congressman.
STEWART: It is, and like I -- I think I've sincerely expressed my concerns about that because it's not just Israel. There's Jordan who is a key ally of ours. There's President el-Sisi in Egypt who is, once again, a key ally of ours.
And we're trying to thread a needle. The needle's, frankly, been tossed in the air and we're trying to thread it before it lands. It's difficult but I think in all cases we want to be as hopeful as we can.
CUOMO: All right. Let's talk about something that's a little bit more simple on its face.
You are a member of the Senate committee on intelligence -- the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Don, Jr. met with the House Intel Committee. They allowed to him to assert the attorney-client privilege as a way to refuse to answer questions. Why?
STEWART: Well, I've got to tell you it wasn't to refuse to answer questions. It was just one question about one meeting and it was because it was in the presence of their attorneys and I think that's reasonable.
But I've got to tell you, too --
CUOMO: Wait, hold on, hold on, hold on.
CUOMO: Are you an attorney, Congressman?
STEWART: No. Thankfully, I'm not.
CUOMO: All right, but there were attorneys there, right, on the panel?
STEWART: There were -- he has his attorneys, yes.
CUOMO: I know, but I'm saying like among the lawmakers in the room there had to be some attorneys somewhere.
STEWART: Well, yes, there were -- yes.
CUOMO: Nobody will tell you, who knows anything about the law, that that was a rational assertion of the attorney-client privilege. It doesn't meet any of the standards. But there was someone else present, you know, and that vitiates any call --
CUOMO: -- to the standard. And the attorney is the one who asserts the privilege, not the client.
STEWART: Well, and that's what I was going to finish my thought by saying and that is -- now look, this hearing went on a long, long time. I actually felt bad for him because I thought how many ways can you ask the same question? So I wasn't there for everything.
But I'm telling you for the parts I saw when we were discussing this -- and I think this is true, generally, regardless of whether it was asked again, and I think it probably was -- but he didn't say I won't answer the question.
He said let me go back and talk to those who were present and to the attorneys and I believe that I'll be able to answer the question. I just want to check.
[07:45:00] And I think that's a fair response. He just wants to be careful and make sure he's not violating attorney-client privilege, not only for himself but for others who may have been involved, and he'll have a chance to come back.
But, you know, one other thing on this and that is oh, my gosh, I mean, this is like being lost in the Himalayas. Rescue is right over the next ridge, right, and that is the next piece of evidence -- the next piece of evidence.
If there was something dramatic from this hearing you would already know it because it would have been leaked to you, and this is all that came out of hours and hours of hearings.
He said I'll answer the question. I just want to check. And there just -- there just isn't much dramatic that came out of this day-long meeting.
CUOMO: But the question is why, and your Democratic colleagues say it's because that he had a selective case of amnesia and didn't recollect or wasn't forthcoming on why he had been misleading about what the meeting was about, what the president knew and when, and what happened after that meeting.
STEWART: Yes. I'm telling you, there just isn't anything there.
CUOMO: How do you know if he doesn't answer your questions?
STEWART: Well, because we've been looking at this for more than a year now.
On this one issue, you're right. Maybe we'll come back and he'll tell us something dramatic, but I really don't think so. It would be out of context with everything else that we know. And, I -- we invite him back to answer this one question.
I think he gave us a reasonable response. He tried to be as open on everything else -- hours and hours of questions that he went through. He was very forthright.
On this one thing, I think he was being careful. I can understand that.
But it takes a very ingracious reading of this and frankly, I think an unbelievable reading of this to draw some conclusion that this idea of conspiracy inclusion has suddenly gotten new legs. I just don't think it's going to prove to be true.
CUOMO: All right. Well, that is your right to believe and you're the one who's seeing evidence in a way that surely, we are not. And I thank you for offering your perspective on it.
CUOMO: Let me ask you about Al Franken. You've got the Democrats ganging up on him, saying he should get out.
Very different standard being applied by the Republicans when it comes to Roy Moore.
STEWART: Well, not for all Republicans. I mean -- and I'm an example of that. I don't care who you are -- senator, Democrat, Republican, congressman, if there are credible allegations of this kind of behavior and if you admit to this kind of behavior, you shouldn't be serving in Congress.
CUOMO: So the standard is only if you admit it?
STEWART: No, no. I said if there's credible allegations.
CUOMO: Do you think that there are credible allegations against Roy Moore?
STEWART: There are, and I have said he should drop out of the race and my view on that hasn't changed.
CUOMO: But when you see your party seemingly pivoting on this and your leadership, at least, going from the position you're asserting right now to well look, we'll have a vote and then we'll decide, I'm not going to take a position on whether or not he --
CUOMO: -- should or shouldn't be in the race, what do you make of that pivot?
STEWART: Well, there are some who have taken that view. There are many of us who haven't. And to those who have taken the view you described, I disagree with them.
CUOMO: Do you think Al Franken should drop out? STEWART: Once again, if there are credible allegations or if they've admitted to this behavior, I don't think they should serve. Whether they're in a campaign or whether they're sitting now, I don't think they should serve.
CUOMO: Should there be due process first on those findings?
STEWART: That's really the question, isn't it? I mean, because you want to be fair with these individuals because perhaps allegations are unfair or perhaps someone looks at this and says holy cow, I could remove someone from office that I don't like by coming forward with allegations.
So we do want to be fair about it, which is, once again, why I say if there are credible allegations, especially from multiple victims, and then if -- and then if you can't refute those, I don't know. I just think that we have a very high -- should have higher standards in Congress.
We have trouble getting the faith and trust of the American people anyway. We're already in such a polarized world. Let's not add this type of doubt and this type of resentment from Americans by carving out exceptions for those serving in Congress. I think we should have been held to a higher standard, not a lower standard.
CUOMO: As long as you enforce that standard through due process --
CUOMO: -- whatever you choose it to be, should be satisfactory to the people who put you there.
Chris Stewart --
STEWART: We'll agree on that.
CUOMO: -- thank you very much --
STEWART: Thank you, sir.
CUOMO: -- for being on NEW DAY, as always. If I don't get to speak to you again, the best for Christmas to you and the family.
STEWART: You, as well. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So, Chris, are there different standards for the two political parties on sexual misconduct, as you've been assessing?
Up next, we have a women's panel weighing in on what should happen.
[07:53:33] CAMEROTA: CNN has just learned that Sen. Al Franken will make an announcement from the Senate floor today about his political future amid growing allegations of sexual harassment. In the past 24 hours, more than 30 of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate have called for his resignation.
Joining us now to discuss all of this is Margaret Hoover, CNN political commentator and Republican consultant. Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and columnist for "USA Today. And, Areva Martin, CNN legal analyst.
It's great to have all of your minds here today because this is confusing. It's -- we're in a murky time.
So, Al Franken. Do his crimes rise to the level of career suicide -- career ending, Margaret?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I actually don't think this is murky at all. I think this is all really straightforward in the sense that you either have people who behave appropriately, who treat women with respect -- and we have a new sort of red line in the sand. You can get away with sexual harassment or you can't.
And this has been a tipping point, right? This has been a tipping point in many new industries where we've accepted that the bad behavior of the past is no longer going to govern our future actions.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So, in other words, groping, sexual propositions, assault -- all of that is now -- we see that now -- there's no gradations. All of that is bad and you lose your job if you do any of that. That's where we are.
HOOVER: Yep, yep.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: I'm kind of amazed that there are people that are -- that are saying like, well, I mean, what he did wasn't -- he's not Harvey Weinstein. It's like not a rapist isn't really the standard that we're going for here and the idea that what he did wasn't that bad is completely wrong.
[07:55:10] CAMEROTA: What about --
POWERS: It is, at a minimum, sexual harassment and at a maximum, assault.
CAMEROTA: Meaning -- hold on, hold on. Grabbing -- go ahead.
POWERS: Grabbing women and forcibly kissing them is assault, OK. So at a minimum, we're talking sexual harassment which is never OK. So I don't understand this idea that what he did isn't that big of a deal and I am hearing people say that.
And it's not -- it's on the same continuum. You have to remember that when people sexually harass or assault women, it's basically saying your body does not belong to you. I can do whatever I want with it and I don't need your permission to touch you.
And so, I'm really -- I think we've got to drop this idea that what he did wasn't that bad.
CAMEROTA: And what about the idea, Kirsten, just because you're so putting such a finer point on it, that in the Roy Moore case the viewer -- the voters get to decide and in the Al Franken case they don't get to decide.
POWERS: First of all, I don't think that because the Republicans are behaving badly is an excuse for Democrats to behave badly -- and I think just across the board. You have to add in the fact that Democrats are the party of women so there is that standard as well. So I think that that's a bad argument.
I also want to say the idea -- even the idea that the voters get to decide is not right, OK? What if they send a member of the KKK to the Senate? Are we really supposed to believe that Democrats are going to go oh, the voters decided -- oh well.
You know, if Republicans want to have no values and no morals that's not an excuse for Republicans -- for Democrats to do the same thing.
CAMEROTA: Areva, how do you see it?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I agree 100 percent with Kirsten.
To me, it's not a choice of whether you're in the political party of the Dems or the Republicans. Sexual harassment, sexual assault is wrong and it doesn't matter which party you're in. And it shouldn't be, unfortunately, a partisan issue, but it is.
And let's face it, the Democrats are leading on this issue because Democrats are responding to their base -- primarily a female base.
And we saw the backlash when Nancy Pelosi tried to parse her words with respect to John Conyers. The backlash was immediate and she had to change her tune.
I wish we would see more courageous women in the GOP party stand up to say no to Roy Moore, no to Donald Trump, and no to anyone that would engage in this kind of conduct.
CAMEROTA: Take that --
MARTIN: This is politics, so it's about winning. It's not always about taking the right moral position.
CAMEROTA: Take that one, Margaret. Hold on. I want Margaret because she is one of those people -- those courageous Republican women. So --
HOOVER: You're actually right because the Republican Party has been so riddled with moral tribalism. I mean, that's one of the things that's been so deeply disappointing and demoralizing as a Republican woman is seeing how easily Republican men have been willing to simply just play politics and absolve themselves of any sort of moral clarity and moral courage in the face of these issues. And, by the way, that's what happens when you have a party that doesn't have many women. I mean, if there are only a third of women in Congress, a third of that third are Republican women. This is -- you know, when you say the Republican Party has problems with women that was yesteryear. Now, it's just -- it's decimating its chances with women.
CAMEROTA: Here's one of the things I'm still confused about, Kirsten, and since you guys see it so clearly I'm glad that you're helping me through this.
How far are we going to rewind the clock? So, I understand that we're at the tipping point. I feel it. We've all been talking about it now for months.
So does the clock start here today or, as we're seeing, are we willing to rewind it 10 years for Al Franken or 40 years for Roy Moore? So, bad behavior of the past -- we're holding people responsible for today because we think they'll never change, they can't change, they haven't changed.
POWERS: No, I don't think it's the idea that people can never change. I think the idea is that this was always wrong and people knew it was wrong.
The idea that there was ever a point where Al Franken would have seriously argued to anybody 10 years ago that it was OK to grope a woman or it was OK to grab her and kiss her is patently ridiculous. They knew that it was wrong and --
CAMEROTA: It was a character issue then and --
CAMEROTA: -- and it's a character issue today.
POWERS: Well, I don't even know if it was a character issue. I don't think that -- look, I don't think Al Franken is rotten to the core and I don't think any of his colleagues think that. He's well-liked, he's well-respected. This was a difficult decision for the -- for the female senators.
And your point about the fact that there are so many women senators in the Democratic Party is why this is happening. That's another big difference between the Republicans. It was the women senators that drove this process 100 percent.
CAMEROTA: All right. Ladies, I'm sorry. We have breaking news.
I could -- I could talk to you all day about this. Thank you very much for all of your opinions about this.
We are following a lot of breaking news, though, out of the West Bank so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEE: They're burning tires, there's rocks being thrown. The Israelis are responding with rubber bullets.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are killing the two-state solution and you're moving Palestinians toward a push for a one-state solution.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: In my view, there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son.
REP. MIKE CONAWAY (R), TEXAS: From my perspective, all of our questions were answered.