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25th Amendment Discussed in West Wing; Trump and Allies Defend Mental Fitness; JFK Terminal Floods; Georgia and Alabama Face Off; Miller Contradicts Trump. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:31] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the big book by Michael Wolff still driving the agenda. And this is coming from the White House, the place that should ignore it. And it raises a question now. People around the president, are they really concerned about his mental fitness the way the author says they are? The president, for some context, is going to get his first medical physical since taking office Friday but is not expected to give any insight into his mental health and that may not even be part of the examination.

Joining us now is former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo.

Michael, a pleasure to have you on the show.


CUOMO: All right, let's look at this a little differently, OK. I'm looking at the president's Twitter feed, OK? Of the last 10 tweets, only two are about matters of state. Eight of the ten are personal gripes. Even if you want to cut out the 25th Amendment, mental capacity, how healthy his mind and soul are right now, isn't this proof that he's spending way too much time on the wrong things, Michael?

CAPUTO: No, I don't think so. I think a lot of people, especially those who are opposing Donald Trump, are uncomfortable with his use of the unfiltered Twitter feed. Some in the White House are as well.

You know, I myself was a little bit, you know, cautious of the Twitter feed, you know, and what the Twitter platform could do for the campaign when I joined the campaign. But I became very comfortable with the fact that the president is giving America his unfiltered view on things. People don't like it. It offends some delicate sensibilities. But the fact of the matter is, this book has come out with some very personal and very visceral, even insulting criticisms of the president of the United States and he feels compelled to defend himself. And this is the president we have.

[06:35:15] CUOMO: But what about surrendering the me to the we and doing what every other big shot does in a situation like this when counseled by people like you, which is ignore it. Let me handle it, Mr. President/governor/senator/CEO. We'll deal with it. You keep your eyes on the prize and the agenda and the people. You're bigger than this. What happened to that?

CAPUTO: This is a very different president and a very different presidency. And I think that the president himself is, you know, being personally attacked here in very insulting ways and he feels that he needs to come to his own defense.

You know, gone are the days of the beta Republican presidency. And I think I'm among one of the people who feel that a robust and even, you know, muscular presidency and someone who speaks their mind is someone I'm comfortable with in the White House.

CUOMO: But whatever happened to strength being exercised in forbearance. The biggest man in the room, Michael, as we both know, does not take on every challenge from the little guy, right? That's what makes you the biggest man in the room.

CAPUTO: Understood.

CUOMO: And how can you believe that the people who voted for President Trump, and let's say that they're the people that Steven Miller wants them to be in their totality, which are the hard-working families that believe they've been forgotten and they were hoping against hope that this man, despite his personal flaws, would deliver them something better. How happy can they be that his last 10 tweets in terms of where his mind is, as you say and I agree, this where his head is, the media stinks, Russian collusion's a hoax. I'm really smart. I'm leaving Camp David. I had great meetings. There's one of those tweets. Fake news awards. Can't wait. Tapper sucks. Fake news awards. That's going to be great. Stock market's great. His enormously consequential presidency. He's quoting Goodwin. Clinton in the White House. Doubling down Russia, Clinton, everything. Those are his last 10 tweets. If you voted for this man, which I'm sure you did, is that why you voted for him, to spend his time defending himself against ghosts of the past?

CAPUTO: Yes. Yes. No doubt. I'm tired of Republicans --

CUOMO: It makes your life better?

CAPUTO: I'm tired of Republicans rolling over and taking a beating from Democrats like the author of this book who is lying through his teeth about what the people in the White House are thinking and the doubts they have about their own presidency.

CUOMO: How do you know he's lying?

CAPUTO: This book is trash.

CUOMO: How do you know he's lying?

CAPUTO: I'm sorry?

CUOMO: I'm not here to defend Michael Wolff, but you guys let him in, Michael.

CAPUTO: Because I know the people in the White House and --

CUOMO: You guys opened the door.

CAPUTO: That was a mistake.

CUOMO: You said, come on in and you gave him tons of access, including the president, who spoke to him about the book. So shame on you, not on Michael Wolff, right?

CAPUTO: No doubt.

CUOMO: You can't -- you can't punish the guy for being tricky enough to get in there. But who says he's lying?

CAPUTO: Right.

CUOMO: Steve Bannon doesn't say he's lying.

CAPUTO: I'll tell you, the -- there are plenty of passages in the book that are flat false. The fact that the president doesn't understand who John Boehner is. His characterizations of people. The quotes. I believe that Steve Bannon was quoted out of context. I mean I've got to tell you, this (INAUDIBLE) guy, I mean --

CUOMO: You believe that he said it was treasonous for Paul Manafort to go to the meeting but not Don Junior or Jared Kushner? Does that sound like something someone believed when they're beyond their game?

CAPUTO: Yes, I believe that's what he meant by that. That's -- I believe that's what he meant when he said that. But I also disagree with that statement.

CUOMO: Come on, Michael.

CAPUTO: I don't believe that meeting was treasonous or unpatriotic. But let me tell you -- let me just --

CUOMO: Michael, that's not the way -- that's not the way rational thought thinks. If someone thinks that going to a meeting was treasonous, it's treasonous for everybody in the room. We know what he's doing.

CAPUTO: Understood but I disagree with those --

CUOMO: He's being cast out. I've got people like you picking up the phone and saying, Steve, you messed up here. You got sideways with the president. You better fix it or you're done. And he put something out there to try to make him feel better, at least about his own son. We get where his head is. But that's -- it can't be a justifiable explanation of what he originally said.

CAPUTO: Well, we all know that their -- you know, the words that were quoted in the book from Steve Bannon were put out there as a proof that there's some kind of emerging battle between the two of them, that Steve is taking on the president. I believe that's false. And let's not -- let's not mince words. There is no rivalry between a

hammer and a nail. There's no rivalry between the president and Steve Bannon. I'd like to see them, you know --

CUOMO: Who's the hammer in that, by the way?

CAPUTO: You know, bet past this. Of course the president is the hammer. Of course. But --

CUOMO: All right, good. So let's use your own metaphor. I wanted to make sure I had it right. Let's end on this.

Let's assume the president is a hammer. What's the old saying about a hammer? A hammer sees everything.

CAPUTO: I think there's plenty.

CUOMO: As a nail, right? A hammer sees everything as a nail. How does that serve you well as president of the United States? There's so many big things for him to take on that he could talk about, that he could come on and talk on this show to the exclusion of all the things that he doesn't like. Never talk about the book. Never talk about the 25th Amendment. Never talk about Hillary Clinton or the Russia investigation. There's so much he could talk about, but he chooses not to, Michael.

[06:40:08] The last 10 tweets that he put out, the snapshots of his own mind, only two have to do with things for other people in America. Is that a good balance?

CAPUTO: I believe the president and the White House and all Republicans should be talking about the successes of 2017. I think the president, as the hammer, really nailed it with the tax cuts. I think those tax cuts are going to reveal what the Democrats, not one of whom voted for those tax cuts, are truly about, keeping money with the government and not the people of America. And the more that the White House speaks about the successes and the agenda in the weeks ahead, the better off we are.

However, at the same time, I believe the president has every right and I expect him to defend himself against this trashy book from a trashy writer.

CUOMO: Michael, nobody says he doesn't have the right, except maybe the president, who seems to be trying to back off our First Amendment protections every chance he gets. It's about whether or not it is right to do it.

But I take your opinion. You're always welcome on the show to give it, Michael Caputo. Thank you very much. Be well.

CAPUTO: Thanks a lot, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have to get to this news. There was this water main break at New York's JFK Airport. Look at this disaster. It flooded one of the busiest terminals. It created chaos for passengers. We're live with the latest for what this means.


CAMEROTA: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is investigating this water pipe break that caused chaos at New York's JFK Airport. It flooded parts of the international terminal.

CNN's Alison Kosik is live at JFK Airport with the latest.

The video from inside was incredible, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is incredible. And flights are coming back into terminal four behind me. But this is after a very chaotic day on Sunday when that water pipe that actually feeds into a sprinkler system for terminal four broke, sending a cascade of water just pouring into the terminal and into the baggage claim area.

And that's significant because sitting in the baggage claims area were hundreds of bags that had been sitting there because of the big winter storm that had hit on Thursday, which had left lots of cancellations for airlines, lots of delays. So there was a lot of mix-up with baggage. And so that baggage winds up getting soaked.

[06:45:15] The frigid conditions also wound up causing the machinery that moves that baggage, it broke that machinery as well.

Other complaints, passengers on Saturday said that there was so much confusion about gates and where planes should go, many passengers, Alisyn, complained that they sat on some planes for hours.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. What a nightmare. Let's hope that they are fixing all of that for the rest of the day. Thanks so much.



CUOMO: Big sports weekend. A clash of the college football titans. Our national title game tonight is Alabama versus Georgia. We have details in the "Bleacher Report," next.


CUOMO: Oh, big night for football fans. Georgia/Alabama. That is the game to decide the National Football Championship. Even President Trump is going. Coy Wire live outside Mercedes-Benz-o Stadium (ph) in Atlanta with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

What do you have on your head, my friend?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, just something to keep this bald head warm, brother. Good to see you this morning.

CUOMO: It is a pretty head, though, a pretty head.

WIRE: It's going to be a maybe not so pretty sight tonight at the Benzo (ph), Mercedes-Benz Stadium, site of next year's Super Bowl. But the college kids and fans taking the Benzo for a spin later tonight. Ticket prices for this one, one nosebleed seat going for about $1,500. A suite would cost you $90,000. Good luck with that.

The Crimson Tide taking on the Georgia Bulldogs. It will be like a mini NFL game. Forty-four former 'Bama players in the league, 38 Bulldogs. And I've got to tell you, these guys are star athletes. They're big, they're bad, but they also have great personalities. What a better way to get to know them with this little game I found called the "Five Second Rule."

[06:50:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Three things that scare you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water. Well, being in a big body of water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like ghosts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snakes. I can only think about snakes.


WIRE: You are a grizzly bear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spiders, snakes, and women.


WIRE: Game time set for 8:45 p.m. Eastern. Vegas has 'Bama favored by 3 and a half. If their personalities are any indication, this game is going to be fun to watch.

CAMEROTA: Coy, that is a really fun game. We're going to start doing that with lawmakers. We should ask them. That is very cool.

WIRE: Do it. Must-see TV.


Coy, thank you very much.

All right, so one of President Trump's top advisers tells CNN that the James Comey firing had nothing to do with Russia. So, why did the president say that was the reason? We discuss, next.


CAMEROTA: Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller was on CNN disputing reports of this letter that outlined President Trump's reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey, which Miller apparently had helped to write. He said it didn't have anything to do with the Russia investigation. Of course that directly contradicts what the president said last year.


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The final draft of the letter has the same line about the fact that there is a Trump/Russia investigation that this has nothing to do with.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.


[06:55:08] CAMEROTA: Let's bring in General Michael Hayden, CNN national security analyst and former director of the NSA and the CIA to talk about this and more.

Good morning, general.


CAMEROTA: I find it hard to revise history when you have videotape.

HAYDEN: No, it's very hard. I actually saw that yesterday morning and was amazing, number one, the president told Lester Holt what he told Lester Holt. And he told Sergey Lavrov the next day what he told the Russians foreign minister, that he did because of the Russians. So I don't think you can undo that as much as you might want to.

CAMEROTA: And as much as his aides try to pretend that that -- those statements never happened.

What do you, as an intelligence expert, want to see happen next in the Russia investigation?

HAYDEN: Well, look, in an ideal world, I need this paragraph length sentence from the president. I know the Russians did it. The Russians know they did it. We're going to move heaven and earth to find out how they did it and make sure it never happens again.

Now, I don't think President Trump is capable of that paragraph, although I was heartened that H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, said something like that in an interview not very long ago.

CAMEROTA: And Lindsey Graham. I mean Lindsey Graham said that he believes the president believes that Russia meddled. Let me see if I have Lindsey Graham's statement for you. Here, we'll just play this for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president does now finally believe that the Russians stole the e-mails from the DNC and hacked -- and Clinton --


GRAHAM: And the Russians -- yes, yes. But he believes that collusion is a hoax.


CAMEROTA: It would be nice if the president shared that with the American public, to your point.

HAYDEN: No, exactly right. I mean Senator Graham may be imputing that to the president. But when given the opportunity, the president has never chosen to be unambiguous about this. And now we have the additional question with these facts over there, which, by the way, Alisyn, were reported to the president-elect by the American intelligence community one year and two days ago. We now have the additional question of, what kind of cooperation -- I'm not using collusion -- but what kind of cooperation might have existed between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian federation. And, in fact, we do have evidence of cooperation synchronization going on between the two. It may not be criminal, but it's certainly inappropriate.

CAMEROTA: But what's the difference? I'm -- but, general, I'm just curious --


CAMEROTA: What's the difference between cooperation, synchronization and collusion?

HAYDEN: Well, again, collusion is not defined as a crime. So I guess what I'm trying to describe, we've got criminal activity over here, which we may never get to. I do think we've already gotten to the point where there's been clearly inappropriate activity between the campaign and agents of the Russian government. And so there should be at least some notice taken of that. And one would hope at some point some remorse on the part of the Trump team.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about another -- well, a, possible huge intelligence failure. David Sanger had a piece in "The New York Times" yesterday saying that current and former intel officials say that the failure to see how fast North Korea could get to the point that it is with its nuclear program was just a hugely significant intelligence failure. Do you agree?

HAYDEN: Not totally. I like David. I read that article with great interest. It was very well put together. But, Alisyn, we've seen the North Koreans on this arc for more than a decade. We knew --

CAMEROTA: But wasn't it -- haven't they sped it up? Wasn't it speedier than intel agents thought? HAYDEN: It appears -- yes. It appears that they have sped it up. It appears that they have sped it up because they still have some pretty tough technological hills to climb here with regard to reentry vehicles. But they've put a lot more energy into this program in 2016/2017.

Alisyn, just by way of extenuation, we always thought that North Korea was unarguably the most difficult intelligence target on earth. Number one, we didn't have a diplomatic presence there. Number two, it is a ruthless society and they don't let their scientists travel. And, number three, it's not a very high-tech society. So even our technological means for collecting information aren't particularly useful there.

CAMEROTA: So was it a failure on the intel community's part?

HAYDEN: You know, I don't want to the use the word "failure." Can you do better? Perhaps yes. Should we have been more sensitive that this new, young leader was going to amp it up? But, Alisyn, let me give you something that's a truism with regard to intelligence. We're less about prediction than we are about understanding. And I do think we communicated a certain understanding that this is where the North Koreans are going. And before very long, we're going to have a big problem.

CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for being on the show.

[07:00:00] HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a president who is acting like a five year old child on Twitter.