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Trump 'Seems Unlikely' I'll Give an Interview to Mueller. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 11, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the special counsel wants to interview him, they will be able to.
[07:00:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's asking the party to give him political cover to end this investigation.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Bipartisan uproar after Florida gets the sole exemption from expanded offshore drilling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In what universe would this be OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is not a sign of politics as usual, I don't know what is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans have to be careful. They can't afford someone like Joe Arpaio.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Controversial sheriff making waves in the Arizona Senate race.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You believe that President Obama's birth certificate is a phony?
JOE ARPAIO, FORMER SHERIFF IN ARIZONA: No doubt about it.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump will not commit now to being interviewed by Special Counsel Bob Mueller in the Russia investigation. This is a change from his public commitment last year that he would 100 percent, as he said, be willing to talk to Mueller's team under oath about why he fired James Comey.
Why the change? Well, we know the president is consistent on one thing. He insists there is no collusion between his campaign and Russia, even though no one has concluded that.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, 14 months after the election, President Trump is tweeting this morning about Hillary Clinton. After bringing up her name three times yesterday at his White House press conference. But one of the president's top aides insists nobody at the White House ever talks about Clinton. So what's going on inside there? We have it all covered for you.
Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He's live at the White House. What's the latest, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The president is clearly frustrated, suggesting a sit-down interview with the special counsel in the Russia investigation is an open question, also repeating his mantra that there was no collusion, raising the question of why he wouldn't want to sit down and clear the air if there's nothing there.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump refusing to commit to a possible interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I mean, certainly I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.
JOHNS: His remarks markedly different than this response last June after firing FBI Director James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
JOHNS: The president, again, calling the Russia investigation a Democrat hoax and repeating this familiar defense eight times.
TRUMP: There has been no collusion.
There's no collusion.
I can only say this: there was absolutely no collusion.
JOHNS: Mueller and congressional investigators have not reached any conclusions in their Russia probes, but Mueller has obtained guilty pleas from two former Trump campaign advisers for lying to the FBI about their conversations with Russians. And two others have been indicted.
Earlier in the day, President Trump encouraging the GOP to take control of the investigation, despite the fact that Republicans already are in control of all three congressional probes and the Justice Department.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I don't intend to have a discussion with the president on that point. And I hope he doesn't call me and tell me the same thing that you said he said.
JOHNS: It comes after the president criticized Senator Dianne Feinstein, calling her sneaky for releasing the transcript of the Judiciary Committee's interview with the head of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the now-infamous Russian dossier, without telling her Republican counterparts.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: He tends to call people names very quickly, so I'm not alone. The one regret I have is that I should have spoken with Senator Grassley before.
JOHNS: Mr. Trump responding to negative media coverage by vowing to make it easier for people to sue news organizations.
TRUMP: We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws. Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace.
JOHNS: The president also insisting there will be no deal on the DREAMers without a wall, after sending mixed messages the day before.
TRUMP: It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in.
JOHNS: The president is up and tweeting this morning. And he's got a lot of questions, apparently inspired by something he saw on his favorite network, touching on the dossier and his favorite target, Hillary Clinton. Here's the tweet. Disproven and paid for by Democrats dossier used to spy on Trump campaign. Did FBI use intel tool to influence the election? Did Dems or Clinton also pay Russians? Where are hidden and smashed DNC servers? Where are crooked Hillary e-mails? What a mess."
Thursday morning at the White House.
Back to you, Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right. Joe, thank you very much. It's a good thing nobody talks about Hillary Clinton at the White House.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory and associate editor for RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard.
A.B., I was joking with Kellyanne, that is "Nobody" the president's new code name. Because if nobody talks about Hillary Clinton, that must be his code name, because he talks about her all the time. And he just proved it this morning.
But the larger point he's making is that this investigation needs to be about her. What is the strategy? How is it being received by those around her?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, it's two- fold. One, politicians always like a foil. Donald Trump is not the first politician to want to really extend most of his time how Obama should have cleaned up the mess in North Korea before he arrived. And Hillary Clinton is crooked and on and on.
But it also serves to discredit the FBI and the Department of Justice so that anything that they're going to be finding on Russian meddling, or conclusion, or financial crimes is something that he can criticize later, because they failed, in his view, to properly investigate the activities of Hillary Clinton with her server and uranium one and on and on.
And so it's a two-track thing. It's become the shiny object. It's always about Hillary Clinton. But again, this is part of a larger campaign to discredit Bob Mueller and the Department of Justice and the FBI.
CAMEROTA: So, David, as you know, the president now will not commit to sitting down with Bob Mueller. He could be compelled, I suppose. But he also is quite fixated on collusion. And he said, as you know, over and over again, there's no collusion. But it sounds like, what we know of Bob Mueller's investigation, that he's moved on.
Bob Mueller has moved on from collusion. We don't know what he'll have concluded on that. But we do know, in terms of the guilty pleas and in terms of the indictments, it's about things like lying to the FBI. It's about financial crimes. There's been talk of whether or not there's a case for obstruction of justice.
So the president is distracting about collusion? Is that why he's talking about it?
GREGORY: We're following the contrails of the Mueller investigation to try to divine what he has. And we have no way of knowing that. So he's obviously looking at whether there is evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. He's looking at obstruction of justice. Maybe he's looking at financial relationships between Donald Trump or others in the campaign and Russia. So there's a lot that he's looking at. And we don't know what the end point of that is.
So the president pronouncing that there's no collusion is obviously his position. We have no way of knowing any of that. And certainly, there's no evidence to date that would suggest that he was involved in anything like that that led to the interference in the campaign.
But on this broader Hillary Clinton point, I think it is worth really underlining how disturbing this is. Because this is not Donald Trump, the citizen, who's fighting a tabloid newspaper war with lies and innuendo and deflection. This is the president of the United States, who is actually encouraging his political rival, his vanquished rival, to be investigated using the machinery of the United States government. That shows a real authoritarian mindset.
And I think there's no other way to describe it. Because there's nothing to back up what he's saying. And the fact that he is still obsessed with Hillary Clinton and the results of the election, because it's about his legitimacy is the easy line of criticism.
CUOMO: Right. And he has every right to his opinion. And he has every right to question it. And he has almost a plenary of authority over investigations in this country. And that's something that we're going to have to deal with as this goes on.
But the truth, he's not entitled to redefine. He gets his own opinion. He doesn't get his own facts. If we look at this tweet, put up his most recent tweet. "Disproven and paid for by Democrats dossier." OK. Parts are unverified. Certain parts have been verified. The "paid for by Democrats." Yes, in large part but not only. It started off as a Republican exercise. Did the FBI use the intel tool to influence election?
There is no suggestion of that. There is this narrative, A.B., that all they have at the FBI is this dossier. Everyone we've asked says that's not true. They had their own sourcing, secondary, tertiary. They never used it as the sold basis for any FISA warrants. It's not true. Then he asked the big questions: "Did the Dems or Clinton also pay the Russians?"
That's why this transcript that was just released is so important with Glenn Simpson from GPS. He is asked about it, and he knocks it down and they come back with nothing. He never worked with Russians. He was never paid with Russians. He knows nothing about Russians paying Christopher Steele. He knows nothing about the FBI paying Christopher Steele. He knows nothing about Christopher Steele ever paying sources. If he did, he didn't ask for invoicing, even though he was getting paid by Fusion. Where does the truth start making a difference?
STODDARD: Well, the truth doesn't, in fact, end the president's tweets. He'll ask questions about things that don't exist. He'll make statements using facts that don't exist. So this is not something that's brand-new here. The dossier is, I really believe, this sort of canard. And you can look at -- you can look at both sides and find the story of the dossier that weaken the other side's argument. So a lot of people are trying to use it. It is, as you said, really, in the end, immaterial.
Bob Mueller is going to make a conclusion and a criminal investigation based on corroborated facts. There will be no funny dossier, uncorroborated facts. I mean, it's not something that is going to be the basis for anything in the end that really matters. And I don't know, you know, whether he's going to come up with anything impeachable or indictable. But he's certainly not going to use the flimsy parts of the dossier. And there are certainly, as you said, corroborated parts that were well-sourced independently.
So it's -- it's really -- it's just something, again, that they're using as a distraction to constantly trying to divert attention.
And I might add to what David said about collusion. If you actually laundered Russian oligarchs, money of the oligarchs connected to Putin's government many years ago, you are compromised by the Russian government, and you are therefore an unwitting colluder. There's a direct connection between financial crimes and collusion. But it seems like saying things like there is no collusion makes people feel that there is no way that President Trump sat down as a candidate with Vladimir Putin in a room together on a conference call to actually take down Hillary Clinton.
You are still an unwitting colluder, if you take the Russian meeting, respond to the e-mail and lie or forget about both.
GREGORY: But here's -- I think it's worth injecting some skepticism into the dossier, which is where the president and his supporters, I think, are angry and at least have a good question to ask.
You know, the -- what we're told on this is that they're getting this information on the dossier, and it's disturbing. And they feel like they've got to drop a dime to the FBI, because you could have a candidate who's being blackmailed. Well, that very well may be the case.
You know, I am a little skeptical of that, because there was a lot of momentum during the campaign to find information about Trump. You know, that he did business in Russia. And there's got to be something that's corrupt there. And you get the FBI going on this and that leaks, that becomes a big story and becomes a political cudgel. And so the notion that they were just Boy Scouts going to the FBI is something that I would scrutinize.
CAMEROTA: But I mean, would obviously, they were looking for dirt on Donald Trump and Christopher Steele found something that he considered troubling and went to the FBI. You know, we just don't know. We can't get...
CUOMO: I'm just saying. Here's what we do know, though. This is why the transcript matters so much. They had nine hours trying to prove what David is asserting right now. They went after this guy, Glenn Simpson, for every kind of indication that this was something more than just conscience, and it came up with nothing. That's why I'm saying the transcript matters.
CAMEROTA: This just in.
CUOMO: Go ahead. What do we have.
CAMEROTA: Well, Kellyanne Conway is watching this morning. Good morning, Kellyanne.
And she is wanting to clarify what she said to you last night on "Cuomo Prime." So we'll play this, what she said last night, and then we'll listen to what she's telling us this morning. Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: We beat her fairly and squarely in this country, through this Democratic elected process. So many people still can't get over the election.
CUOMO: Says -- says my friend who can't keep Hillary Clinton's name out of his mouth. CONWAY: You can't -- excuse me. I'll make you a deal, Chris. I'll never talk about her again. But then you can't talk about the 2016 election...
CUOMO: I'm not.
CONWAY: -- because she lost that election, and the only --
CUOMO: I haven't mentioned the election. I haven't mentioned the election once.
CUOMO: You guys are frozen in that moment. That's why you bring up Hillary Clinton. That's why you're having her investigated.
CONWAY: That's not true. We don't care about her. Nobody here talks about her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Well, she has a clarification, though.
CAMEROTA: OK. So she said, "Nobody here," meaning in the White House, talks about her. So she says, "So fun to see the predictable heads exploding, but I should have finished that sentence. Nobody in the White House talks about Hillary Clinton when noting whose historic leadership equals historic tax cuts, an economic boon, regulation reform, put ISIS in retreat."
I don't have a question. I'm just mentioning that.
I mean, look, A.B., they do talk about Hillary Clinton all the time. I've challenged Kellyanne in the past to have an interview where she doesn't bring her up, and it was impossible, actually. So whatever. They're fixated on it. And guess what? Now the FBI and Congress also seems to be going along with doing more investigating into things that we had thought were settled.
STODDARD: Right. Which is so interesting. Because the interview that the president gave, the president -- then president-elect just a few days after November 8 with "60 Minutes" with Leslie Stahl. He said "They're very good people" about the Clintons. He was not going to go after Crooked Hillary or lock her up. Very good people. He said, "I don't want to hurt them. They're very good people."
And now there's this focus, as I said, not only President Trump asking the Justice Department to -- to reinvestigate her, but members of Congress talking about her, as well. And it's a way to go after the integrity of the Department of Justice and the FBI so that when and if a conclusion is made that is damaging to the president or his family, they can say that that -- that it's not accountable, FBI and DOJ, that can't be trusted, because they failed in their investigation of Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: You know, I think it's worth just noting that there are these two aspects of the Trump presidency so far. And this first one gets so much more attention, because it tends to suck the oxygen out of the room. It is his obsessiveness, how erratic he is, how emotionally he responds, how thin-skinned he is on all matters of his legitimacy, his leadership, whether he's getting good reviews in the media. It's a fixation.
And then alongside that, you have serious work being done in the White House and on the international stage. It's just the former is really overshadowing the latter.
CUOMO: Right. But you know what? There is a dovetailing here. That's Kellyanne's argument. She says, "You guys don't talk about any of the good stuff, only the bad stuff."
But there's a connecting thought. You wind up getting distracted from some of the positive stories. Even the interdicting he did yesterday. We've got a big opioid problem, and they're getting after it. That's good.
But then he says, "My wall will be a big piece of this." He says something that's not true. He distracts from his own progress.
Anyway, David, A.B., appreciate it very much. And this all matters. It's not tedious. You have to stay on situations when the truth is abused. Why? Because if you don't, you end up with situations like this. What is a wall? We're actually asking that right now. We don't know. Because one thing was promised to the base. And now we're told the president may have a new definition of a wall. But maybe he doesn't, we're told, as well. We're going to have one of the earliest Trump supporters joining us. Maybe he has an answer. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:21:08] TRUMP: There has been no collusion.
They all say there's no collusion, and there is no collusion.
I can only say this, there was absolutely no collusion.
It has been determined that there is no collusion.
When they have no collusion, and nobody has found any collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Eight times President Trump said it has been determined or that there is no collusion in answer to a reporter's question, obviously. The president now says, though, it is unlikely he'll be interviewed by special counsel investigators after saying last year he would be 100 percent willing to talk with Bob Mueller under oath about why he fired Jim Comey.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Chris Collins.
Chris, I haven't seen you since the new year. Congressman, happy new year to you.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Happy new year to you. I hear you're burning the candle at both ends.
CUOMO: I am.
COLLINS: Here this morning and later tonight.
CUOMO: We're having a fun four weeks. If that's a bid to make it onto the show, well served. I'll contact the office.
COLLINS: Very good.
CUOMO: Let me ask you a simple question first. Do you believe the president should sit down with Bob Mueller if asked to?
COLLINS: I think that is truly a decision that the president needs to take under advisement from his attorneys. The attorneys know the ins and outs, so I'm not going to weigh in. I do not that -- I'll repeat what Donald Trump has been saying. There is no collusion here. But that said, to sit down with the Mueller team, that's a decision for the president after conferring with his attorneys.
CUOMO: So let's think it through on both levels. The first one is that, if you believe that there is nothing, why wouldn't you sit down with Bob Mueller?
COLLINS: Well, again, that's a decision for the attorneys. But, you know, there's -- there's a reason that we hire lawyers who know the ins and outs of things.
CUOMO: Right. But they advise. He's the client. He makes the decision. He said he was 100 percent on it. What changed?
COLLINS: Well, no. I can tell you for someone, myself, who's been through more than one lawsuit in my career, you do listen to your attorneys. They know best. They're the professionals.
CUOMO: Right. But they don't keep you from doing something. You do what you want.
Let's look at it on the second level. He says there's no collusion. You, the president, you have every right to say that. That's your opinion. He also says it's been determined there is no collusion. That is not true, Congressman.
COLLINS: Well, there's no indication, certainly, that's come out that would suggest otherwise. And...
CUOMO: We haven't heard anything yet. Mueller has done nothing other than some indication of indictments and deals that may be going on, but he has not issued any kind of determination that could make that statement true. The fact that he hasn't said there is collusion doesn't mean he's determined that there is no collusion. Do you understand why that's troubling for the president to say that?
COLLINS: Well, other than -- I also know, having been through this myself, when you know you've done nothing wrong and people are alleging you have, you're going to sit there all day long, "I did nothing wrong. There's nothing there." And that's what the president is saying. And I don't blame him in the least.
CUOMO: But he says more than that, Congressman. No one's saying, "Chris Collins, you did 'X'. President Trump, you did 'X'." And that that's the end of it. Remember the president saying some time ago, "None of my people ever did anything. There's nothing. They're not going to find anything."
Well, now we know that couldn't be less true. We've never seen more contacts that need to be explained than we've seen with this administration. So what does this mean about the credibility of the president on this issue?
COLLINS: Well, we have five investigations going on in Congress. We need to let them play out. We need to, hopefully, expedite and get the Mueller investigation done. I believe it is winding down. That's probably why they did contact the president's attorney.
CUOMO: Why does expedition matter? Why? Why -- you know, you ever hear that expression, justice delayed is justice denied. Sure. So you want to see things happen. But why rush it along?
[07:25:00] COLLINS: Oh, we need to be done with this so the country can move on. I mean, you look at the stock market, record highs every day. You look at employment. You look at what raises people are getting. You look at where we stand in this country. And yet we've got this cloud that keeps hanging over us instead of celebrating and moving forward like, you know --
CUOMO: Did Russia interfere in the election, in your opinion?
COLLINS: Excuse me?
CUOMO: Did Russia interfere in the election, in your opinion?
COLLINS: I believe they attempted to interfere, yes.
CUOMO: Do you believe that they hacked the e-mails and they were behind those activities?
COLLINS: Yes, I do.
CUOMO: Do you believe we know how they did it and how to stop it the next time?
COLLINS: I believe we have a good idea of how they did it, and hopefully, we could. But let's -- let's face facts. In cyber warfare, the tools are changing every single day.
CUOMO: Right. COLLINS: You've got to -- you've got to make changes just to keep up
with them. We see that with North Korea. We see it with China. We see it with Iran.
COLLINS: We certainly have seen it with Russia. And that's an ongoing battle.
CUOMO: But it -- we've never seen anything like this, by all indications. And do we think we know who helped them and if so how? No, right? We don't know yet. So why would you want to forestall those efforts? Don't we need to know to protect ourselves for the next time?
COLLINS: And I'm confident that the appropriate agencies are looking into this every single day. They're not going to expose what they know. But it's -- again, it's not just Russia. It's North Korea, Iran and it's other bad actors that are trying to, whether they're getting into our power grid, whether they're trying to get into our banking, whether they're trying to blackmail law firms in --
COLLINS: -- by accessing their data and their files, this is a way of life, I'm afraid, for the rest -- rest of the time we're using computers, we are.
CUOMO: All the more reason -- all the more reason to redouble those efforts.
Let me ask you something. If you want to wind up what's going on with Mueller so you don't distract from all the progress in the other areas of import, how can you support the FBI efforts and the political efforts to look into Hillary Clinton and all of these old questions? If that isn't a distraction, what is?
COLLINS: Well, I do think that Hillary was given a free pass on a lot of things. And this is just an indication of the frustration that a lot of us have that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And if, you know, as we have uncovered more and more indications of wrongdoing by the Clinton campaign and those associated with her, they were just brushed right under the rug. And you've got a little of that going on. I'll fully admit that. That, you know, this is, all of us frustrated --
CUOMO: There's a little bit of politics going on, you're saying?
COLLINS: Yes, of course there is.
CUOMO: But that's a problem, right?
COLLINS: All the good things that we've done are being just totally ignored in the country and -- so of course, there's some politics here. CUOMO: But also, look, let's not forget the source. The news cycle
starts at the top. If the president didn't take on the fights that he takes on, didn't make the misstatements that he makes, didn't obsess on what he obsesses on, maybe he could spend that time trumpeting the things that you want him to. Isn't that part of the analysis?
COLLINS: Well, but the fact is, Chris, there's never been a case where nine seconds after Hillary conceded on November 9, that the delegitimizing of President Trump's election began. It stayed over. It's been a year now in earnest.
CUOMO: But why? Why? Help me understand that, Chris. I don't get it. I get accused of that of people who support the president on a regular basis. How is wanting to know how Russia interfered and who might have helped them, including people involved in the Trump campaign, how is that nullifying his win?
COLLINS: Oh, it's that, but it's everything else. It's the people in Congress, the Democrats that are coming up on the floor every week saying they want to impeach the president.
CUOMO: All right.
COLLINS: They want to invoke the 25th Amendment.
CUOMO: Right. And that's overreaching by the left, and shame on them. We say that on the show all the time. Let me ask you one more question, because I have you. The wall. Do you know what it is?
COLLINS: Well, I know what border security is. And I know it's something we haven't had for the last 10 years. We need this --
CUOMO: But what is "this," though, Chris? That's what I'm asking specifically. The president said it was a big cement wall, 30 feet high, the whole border. Now I'm hearing he thinks it's something else, which is akin to what everybody else said it should be all during the election, which is different things in different contexts to suit different needs. What is it?
COLLINS: Well, I believe it's the latter. I mean, I was one that said that, you know, probably a year ago. It will be a wall. It may be a fence. It's going to be different things for different contours. We've got a lot of water at the border.
So the main thing here is, to use the term "border security," so we don't have the drugs pouring across, the illegal immigrants coming across. And that's why...
CUOMO: Well, the efficacy of the barrier is one discussion. But I'm saying the president keeps saying "Wall." Is that now a metaphor? We should use that word to mean what you're saying, which is a more complex understanding of the realities on the border and what will secure it?
COLLINS: Yes, I believe that is the case. And I believe that... CUOMO: So "wall" is metaphor. All right. I'm just trying to get it straight, Chris. Because you know, that's one of the things that's holding up your process on DACA. So I'm trying to nail that down. And I appreciate your help on that and every category that we discussed this morning. You're always welcome on the show.
COLLINS: Yes, very good, Chris.
CUOMO: Happy new year to you.
COLLINS: Yes. You, too.