Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Kick Off New Year with Infrastructure Push; Obama Warns Against 'Irresponsible' Social Media Use. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 07:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could have shored up the healthcare system and begin to change the conversation.

[07:00:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hoping that there will be a bipartisan fix that comes sooner rather than later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is trying to get us to focus on the dossier. The indictments so far don't have anything to do with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president's tweets are an insurance policy to make sure law enforcement remains biased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is beginning to vouch (ph). They're getting afraid that it's getting very close to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about as bad as I've seen. It just keeps coming. Won't stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be mindful of the cold and be safe.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off. Bill Weir is busy studying the notes, I see.

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Cramming. Cramming.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here. So up first, President Trump will kick off the new year with a big push on infrastructure, we've learned. The president is expected to hit the road to sell his plan. But will Democrats help him deliver on this agenda item?

WEIR: President Trump also says Republicans and Democrats will come together on a deal for health care. And a revealing new interview with Mr. Trump's predecessor, President Obama. Price Harry sitting down with the former president to talk politics and life after the White House. We'll have it all covered this morning, but let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip, live in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Good morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Bill. Well, the president is just fresh off of that big tax cut victory, and

he's looking toward another campaign promise, hoping to work on infrastructure come January.

The White House tells us they're going to unveil a major infrastructure proposal toward the middle of the month and then make it a big part of the president's State of the Union address before the nation and both houses of Congress in January.

That plan is going to look like this: about $200 billion worth of spending on infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. And it's also going to hopefully, according to the White House, spur about $800 billion in private-sector money toward infrastructure projects, as well.

But despite the fact that some Democrats have, in the past, expressed some openness to infrastructure in working with the president on this one, they're already seeing the $200 billion just simply is not enough money to achieve what they're hoping to do, as far as infrastructure is concerned.

And as far as bipartisanship, the White House is also looking at health care again. According to the president in a tweet yesterday, he thinks that after the individual mandate was repealed in that tax cut bill, that he can go back to the -- to the bargaining table with Democrats and work on an overall health care plan.

So far there is no evidence yet that any such effort is under way. But according to the president, he'd like to get back to -- to the negotiating table with Democrats at the -- at the beginning of the year next year -- Bill and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Abby, thank you very much for all of that reporting. Joining us now to talk about it is CNN political analyst David Drucker and CNN contributor Salina Zito. Great to see both of you.

So, David, is infrastructure the issue that can get both sides to the bargaining table to work on at the beginning of this coming year, or is the situation, you know, just too poisoned for that to happen?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, if the president was going to hold something for an election year and hope that that would be the thing he could get done, I think infrastructure was the right choice.

Trying to get Obamacare repealed on an election year, trying to get tax reform done in an election year, I think the atmosphere is far too toxic. Often, that's driven by the president himself. And so I think this is the right approach. I think the question is, first, can he get Republicans on Capitol Hill on board?

They have, for years, resisted spending government money on infrastructure projects, even though Democrats have argued that it would create jobs. And that -- that the country's infrastructure was crumbling. These are a lot of the same arguments President Trump has been making. But I think there's going to be a lot of resistance to adding to the deficit and the debt for infrastructure spending versus the tax bill. And so I think that is going to be a big challenge. And then you're going to have the issue with Democrats simply not agreeing with much of what the president is going to try to do. I'm sure there will be ways in which he wants to spend infrastructure money that they won't agree with.

And look, finally, Alisyn, this is just politics -- I don't think they're going to go out of their way to help the president achieve something in an election year unless he makes a lot of concessions to them.

And hovering over all of this is what they have to do in January is come to terms on a long term spending bill, figuring out defense spending, spending on children's health care. There's the DACA situation they have to solve.

So there is a lot. You can't criticize the president for trying to get more done. I just think it's going to be very difficult. And there's basically a six-month window here. And if they don't get it done by the end of July, everything becomes about the election. Probably much sooner. But definitely by then it's all over.

WEIR: Salina, much of your reporting connects with that 35 percent of Trump supporters out there. And I wonder if you think about the campaign promises of a trillion dollars on infrastructure in the first 100 days, versus the reality of a much lower number now, how do you think that will resonate with his base?

[07:05:16] CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, that's the question we don't know the answer to. I do know that infrastructure spending is important to the people that supported him. A lot of them live in the Midwest, where the topography with a lot of hills and valleys and rivers. You know, a lot of those -- those infrastructure places are crumbling, right? They -- there are bridges that are closed. There are roads that are in disrepair.

And without having sort of solid infrastructure, companies don't want to then come in and invest in their cities and their towns. So those are very critical. I think it's important that he gets one done, but as to what David said, it doesn't -- the Democrats aren't going to want to help him on something like this. They are going to want to have something to sort of fight him over.

And giving him a win on infrastructure, especially in districts like, say, Iowa, in Wisconsin, in Minnesota where Trump won Democratic congressional districts. And they're not going to want to sacrifice those seats when they -- when the possibility of 40 seats could flip in the direction of the Democratic Party.

CAMEROTA: Salina knows what he's talking about with all those bridges in Pittsburgh. A lot of rivers -- a lot of rivers to get over.

David, OK, so now let's talk about health care. So David, what does health care look like in 2018? You know, the president keeps saying that he has basically, for all intents and purposes, killed Obamacare. Not true. But the individual mandate has gone away. So what now? DRUCKER: The individual mandate repeal is a big victory for

Republicans, who obviously have failed on maybe the biggest campaign promise they had ever offered.

And I think Republicans are going to try and do more on that this year. They're just not going to get any help from the Democrats. You know, we read the president's tweet yesterday. He thinks maybe they can come to the table and get something done. Whether he believes that or not, who knows?

But if he believes it, he's going to be disappointed. Democrats are never going to help Republicans replace the Affordable Care Act ever, under any circumstances. We may see legislation to stabilize the Affordable Care Act. That's been negotiated by senators Alexander and Murray, a bipartisan bill to deal with the cost-sharing reduction subsidies that make health care affordable under the Obamacare program.

But that is about yet you're also going to see the CHIP program, I think, renewed at some point over the next 30 to 60 days. But in terms of dealing with health care reform in which you're going to have bipartisan support to remake the Obamacare program into something else, it is not something Democrats will participate in, both for philosophical reasons and for political reasons.

Republicans now own health care. And Democrats are not going to help them out unless they were to receive so many concessions that you have Republicans on Capitol Hill walking away.

WEIR: Yes. It's interesting. There's some pieces both in the "Times" and "Post" today, Salina, talking about how public health care, anathema to Republicans, has grown sort of ironically. Take a look at the numbers there. Since Obamacare, the number of the uninsured has gone down from 19 to 12.5 percent.

And then the number of folks who are getting some form of government care, whether it's the V.A. or Medicare -- Medicaid expansion has gone up to 19 percent from 11.5. So when it comes to, again, the base and folks in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, in Iowa, does the individual mandate going away help Trump's case? Were they seeing that penalty as a tax?

SALINA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Actually, they did. In all my reporting in the past few years since Obamacare became law, the individual mandate was something that most voters that I talked to, whether they supported Obama or whether they supported Romney in the past or Trump last year, they didn't like the mandate. They felt as though it was a tax. They felt that -- as though that it was illegal, that it was something that government should not have been able to do.

In particular, small businesses. They believed that people have their ability to make their own decisions and in charge of their own health care plan. And that did not sit well with voters.

CAMEROTA: All right. Salina Zito, David Drucker, thank you both very much. Great to get your perspectives. All right. Former President Barack Obama opening up about life after

the White House and how he feels about social media today. All this in a rare interview with Prince Harry. CNN's Anna Stewart is live in London with more. So tell us about this conversation

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was the first interview President Obama has done since he left office. That in itself was very interesting. But really the top line came out over social media. He was warning over the use of social media, how it can distort reality. Here's what he said.


[07:10:13] BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question, I think, really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn't lead to a Balkanization of our society but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground.

And I'm not sure government can legislate that, but what I do believe is that all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet. One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.


CAMEROTA: All right. So Anna, it wasn't all serious politics. There was also some personal stuff, a lightning round. How'd did that go?

STEWART: Oh, it was so good. These guys have such good chemistry, Alisyn. It was incredible.

We have some bits from Obama saying that he doesn't miss early morning starts. He does miss that motorcade when it comes to traffic. But right at the end, they saved the best for last. Here is the quickfire round.



OBAMA: William right now.

PRINCE HARRY: "Titanic" or "The Bodyguard"?

OBAMA: "Titanic."

PRINCE HARRY: "Suits" or "The Good Wife"?

OBAMA: "Suits." Obviously.

PRINCE HARRY: Great, great answer.

Cigarettes or gum? OBAMA: Gum now, baby.

PRINCE HARRY: Gum. White House or Buckingham Palace?

OBAMA: White House just because Buckingham Palace looks like it would take a really long time to mow.

PRINCE HARRY: OK. Fair enough.

OBAMA: A lot of upkeep.

PRINCE HARRY: Queen or the queen?

OBAMA: The queen.


STEWART: I mean, Buckingham Palace does have a lot of upkeep, right?

But they know each other so well. They have really become friends over the years now, which is why when Prince Harry was then asked questions himself after this interview at Radio 4 in the BBC, he was asked a question that we all want to know the answer to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, enough to invite him to your wedding?

PRINCE HARRY: I don't know about that. That's -- we haven't put the invites, all the guest lists together yet. So who knows whether -- who knows whether he's going to be invited or not? Wouldn't want to ruin that surprise.


STEWART: Such a good diplomatic side step there. You know, just kind of a "wait a little bit longer."

CAMEROTA: Totally, Anna. That is great. It's so fun to just hear them sort of off-script. But what are the queen's biggest hits? I mean, the queen or the queen. What has she sung? I'm just curious.

WEIR: The wave versus "Bohemian Rhapsody."


WEIR: Anna, you were explaining that, unlike William's wedding, which was a state event, Harry's is not. And so, you know, the idea of inviting Obama and not Trump and creating an international incident is not as acute?

STEWART: It really is. And what people don't realize is maybe this is not a state wedding. This is not the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding. Heads of state will not be invited by rote. So you know, if you invited President Trump, he really doesn't know the royal family at all. You'd then have to invite Merkel. You'd have to invite Macron. This would be a much bigger kind of wedding.

If President Obama is invited, it will not be as a former head of state. It will be as a friend.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Very interesting to see how these invitations unfold. Thank you very much for bringing us that.

WEIR: I bet it would still stink -- stick in President Trump's craw if he -- you know, if Obama got that invite and he didn't.

CAMEROTA: And stink, yes.

WEIR: It would stink.

CAMEROTA: Even if I don't get an invite, I'm going.

WEIR: She's crashing.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

WEIR: Coming up, is the Mueller investigation biased? Republicans continue to question the credibility of his investigation. What some lawmakers are basing their arguments on, coming up.

Also, we have a former Bush White House chief of staff, John Sununu, with his point of view, coming up next.


[07:17:58] CAMEROTA: President Trump and his allies continue to attack the Russia investigation and the FBI. One Republican Congressman taking things a step further


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very concerned that the DOJ and the FBI, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails.

I don't want to discredit them. I'd just -- I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it and say, "Look, we've got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people that I want the American people to see and know the good works being done. Not these people who are kind of the deep state.


CAMEROTA: All right. Let's discuss it with former Republican governor of New Hampshire, John Sununu. He was also the former chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush.

Good morning, Governor.

JOHN SUNUNU, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Good morning, Alisyn. I hope you had a great Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. And you, as well. Is the FBI the deep state?

SUNUNU: Well, I think what is of concern is not the -- the rank and file at the FBI. It's all these strange pieces of information that have come out in the last couple of months about current leadership and certainly former leadership, leadership under the Obama administration.

And there is, I think, honest and real concern that the FBI somehow got dragged into the political process.

I hope it ends up being -- the fact that it ends up being that they were not. But I do think that people at least have to satisfy themselves on what happened there.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about that. So Andrew McCabe, James Comey, the general counsel Jim Baker, they are the deep state?

SUNUNU: I don't like using the phrase "deep state." I think they have to at least explain what they did on issues like the dossier, what they did on starting the investigation as early as a year ago on the Trump campaign. They ought to explain whether or not the dossier was used to get a FISA warrant. These are specific questions that have to be answered.

And I think the answers they gave the congressional committees of dodging answers and saying, "We can't talk now while the I.G. investigation is going on," has heightened the concerns that people have about those real specific possibilities of interference in the election process.

[07:20:13] CAMEROTA: You brought up the dossier, so just to remind people, that is the infamous dossier which contains salacious details, which CNN has never reported or corroborated. But much of the dossier has been corroborated. Do you not accept that...

SUNUNU: I don't agree with that, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: This is our reporting. And this is what -- this is what crime-fighting agencies have said. That the FBI would not have just taken a dossier to the FISA court and used that as their predicate for surveillance. They had to corroborate it themselves. That's how they operate.

SUNUNU: I would hope that that's what happened, Alisyn. And all they have to do is explain that that was the case.

CAMEROTA: But do you not believe that that was the case? I mean, listen, you were...

SUNUNU: They have refused to -- they have refused to answer that question. The -- Rosenstein and Wray were asked specific questions about the dossier, and they dodged it.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, they didn't dodge, sir. They didn't want to disclose it -- just one second. They didn't want to disclose it in an open hearing. SUNUNU: OK. Well, look, as I said, I am not one who wants to assume

that there's something nefarious that went on. But I do want to hear answers so that any concerns that are out there can be cleared up, because the FBI is too significant an asset to this country to allow the uncertainty of its intentions to continue.

CAMEROTA: But just so that we're clear, at the moment, do you agree with Donald Trump that the FBI is tainted?

SUNUNU: I agree that there are questions that have to be answered about the past and current leadership in the FBI.

CAMEROTA: And do you feel that the FBI is somehow some sort of hive of liberal leaders that are trying to bring down the president?

SUNUNU: I agree that there is some evidence that there were some strange things happening there. And I think the FBI leadership should come back with answers.

CAMEROTA: Such as what? I mean...

SUNUNU: Failure to answer questions that has created the concern.

CAMEROTA: What jumps out at you?

SUNUNU: Answer the questions and provide the information. I think a lot of this will go away.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think is the weird stuff?

SUNUNU: I think the e-mails, the texting between FBI leadership on attacking Trump.

CAMEROTA: Right. So that -- they were reassigned. To be clear, let's just take it one at a time. So you're talking about Peter Strzok and the woman that he texted, who was an FBI lawyer. They were reassigned, taken off the investigation, OK? So has that been handled to your liking?

SUNUNU: No, no, it hasn't. I think the fact that the FBI leadership refused to answer a simple question. Did you pay for any of the dossier? They refused to answer that. That creates doubt.

I think the fact that -- that within the FBI there is -- there was some activity that suggested that they were investigating Trump as an insurance policy on the election.

All those questions have to be answered. I'm not saying that they don't have answers. I'm saying they should give the answer.

CAMEROTA: I understand. It's that -- it's the text that you're talking about from Peter Strzok where some insurance policy was mentioned. And that does seem to be what President Trump and many Republicans are now sort of hanging their hat on. They want to know what that is, because that obviously raises eyebrows. Do you think that President Trump's attacks on the FBI, calling them

tainted, is that appropriate for a president? Because it does, let's face it, trickle down to the rank and file and undermine their work.

SUNUNU: I think the president made very clear what his position on the rank and file is when he addressed the graduating class of the FBI members and underscored the fact that he considers them tremendous assets to the country, and he has their back.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is legitimate?

SUNUNU: I think any investigation is legitimate. But I think Mueller ought to wrap it up, because in a whole year, he has failed to provide a single scintilla of information evidence that there was any substance of a concern about collusion with the Russians.

CAMEROTA: There have been four indictments and two guilty pleas. Isn't that a scintilla?

SUNUNU: On issues completely unrelated to the Russia investigation.

CAMEROTA: Well, it was about lying to people.

SUNUNU: On personal -- on issues of personal failures of Mr. Manafort and issues of a personal failure of General Flynn.

CAMEROTA: Robert Mueller hasn't had the investigation for a year. It's been less than a year. But so you -- I mean, obviously, in -- during that time, there have been these four indictments and two guilty pleas. And now we understand that Michael Flynn is cooperating.

[07:25:10] So you think that's it? It should be case closed? Or do you think that there will be more that comes out?

SUNUNU: If there's more to come out, Mueller should put it out. If there's no more to come out, Mueller should wrap it up.

CAMEROTA: Can he take a few more months?

SUNUNU: He probably will.

CAMEROTA: All right. Governor John Sununu, always great to get your perspective on all of this. Thanks so much for joining us on NEW DAY.

SUNUNU: Thanks, Alisyn.


WEIR: Are President Trump's Twitter attacks helping Robert Mueller make his case? Well, a former White House ethics lawyer says absolutely and will tell us why, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:29:43] WEIR: President Trump continues to tweet insults at the FBI. This weekend he tweeted, "How can FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge along with Leaking James Comey, of the phony Hillary Clinton investigation, including her 33,000 illegally deleted e-mails, be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton puppets during the investigation?"

The former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter responded: "Using Twitter on Christmas Eve to intimidate a witness, McCabe, in a criminal investigation is not a very Christian way to celebrate the holiday, but it does make Mr. Mueller's..."