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Winter Storm Slams Southeast; Threat to American Democracy; Russia Accused of Helping North Korea; Stats Linking Immigration to Terrorism. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:25] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so the White House is disputing reports that President Trump has heart disease. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders standing by the White House doctor's glowing assessment of the president's health. Here's a listen.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the president. And so I think a doctor that has spent the amount of time with the president, as Dr. Jackson has, is not only the most qualified but the only credible source when it comes to diagnosing any health concerns.


CUOMO: On our show yesterday, Dr. Sanjay Gupta said he questioned the White House doctor about the president's, quote, coronary calcium score. What is that? It's this specialty x-ray that takes high quality pictures of the heart looking for plaque or other things building up in the blood vessels leading to the heart. The president has a score of 133.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Now anything over 100 is considered heart disease, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. The Mayo Clinic said that score puts someone at risk of a heart attack in three to five years.

Dr. Gupta says this is not unusual. Most American men over the age of 40 have some form of heart disease.

Dr. Gupta -- why are we calling him that? Don't we call him Sanjay? All --

CUOMO: You can call him whatever you want.

CAMEROTA: I'm going to call him Sanjay. Also --

CUOMO: You can call him right in this instance.

CAMEROTA: Also notes the president's doctor did recommend increasing the president's cholesterol reducing medicine. Sanjay's full explanation can be found at for those of you interested.

CUOMO: And, look, I get the concern that someone could be saying that the president's very sick, very sick. That's not what Sanjay was saying. And, look, just common sense tells you, you eat a fast food diet all the time and you're at his weight and his age and these numbers, you ought to check yourself. You want to be better. We all need the president to be healthy.

CAMEROTA: Right. But, I mean, you don't even need to rely on just common sense. You can rely on -- there's the data. He has a 133. That's the number.

CUOMO: Right. And it's been going up.

CAMEROTA: And you see the number that the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic say. So just look at the raw numbers.

CUOMO: There's no reason -- there's no reason for this to be a fight.

So, another story. At least 10 people killed in a winter storm that slammed the southeast. Ice, snow blanketing roads, treacherous conditions at least.

CNN's Jennifer Gray has your forecast.

What do we see now?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we are going to he see a warm- up, luckily, but you have to wait a little while. We're getting that snow out of the way. And the temperatures are still cold for yet a few more days.

By the way, this weather report's brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Packed with goodness.

So, here are temperatures right now. Unbelievable. Look, Atlanta, this is what it feels like, 1 below zero. Actually colder than what it feels like in New York City right now, which is 12. It feels like 16 in Boston. So much of the country still feeling the chill. Temperatures will warm up above freezing for a lot of cities for the first time in a couple of days today. Forty-three your high in Atlanta, 35, Cincinnati, 41 in St. Louis.

The temperature trend looks promising. Look at this. That cold air gets out of the way. Mild temperatures will replace it by the end of the weekend. But it doesn't last long because that cold air is back by Wednesday. But temperatures will feel like (INAUDIBLE) 50 degrees in New York City by the end of the weekend, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Get out of here. I forget what that feels like.

Jennifer --

GRAY: I know. Bring out the shorts.

CAMEROTA: Right. Thank you very much. GRAY: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: So a new book written by a well-known Republican calls President Trump a threat to American democracy. The author, David Frum, here next.


[06:37:58] CAMEROTA: Longtime Republican and former speech writer for President George W. Bush is sounding the alarm on why he believes the Trump presidency a threat to American democracy. David Frum writes in his new book "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic," the thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents, but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters.

And David Frum joins us now.

So, David, this is troubling stuff. It's like you're the canary in the coal mine, or you're trying to play that part and it sounds like you're trying to sort of shake all of us into awareness of all the troubling signs you see.


CAMEROTA: But why do you think it's so much worse than so many other people think?

FRUM: The -- when people think about what to fear for their government, they imagine a kind of anti-democratic heart attack, some dramatic event, the body keels over. One moment the country was free, the next they are policing the streets. And, by the way, that gives you time to be a hero because until the police are in the streets, there's nothing you need to do.

I think what has happened in America is not like a heart attack, it's like gum disease. It is a slow corrosion, a slow rot that will -- that can spread through the body and ultimately kill you. But because it happens step by step, people at the -- do not act in time when they could.

CAMEROTA: Aren't you giving President Trump a lot of credit? I mean he's only one man. Isn't democracy stronger than that?

FRUM: A democracy is stronger than that. If he were just the one man, there would be no danger at all. The story of the book is the story of how Trump is enabled and given permission and supported by people who make deals with him. You know, many of the Republican members of Congress are as privately alarmed about Donald Trump as anybody else, but they have things they want from him. They want his signature. They want him to look the other way. And he wants things from them. He wants protection. He wants them not to investigate his wrongdoing. Right now the president of the United States is receiving unknown

millions of dollars in payments from foreign business partners in Turkey, in India, in the Philippians.

[06:40:03] CAMEROTA: Because he didn't divest from his -- the Trump Organization.

FRUM: His Trump Organization.


FRUM: How much -- how many millions is the president receiving in payments from foreign people who write his checks. You know --

CAMEROTA: How do we get the answer to that?

FRUM: Well, we -- he has to tell us.

Let me just give you a dramatic (INAUDIBLE). The person in the Philippines who signs Donald Trump's checks is now the Pilipino ambassador to the United States. Normally the president of the United States has authority over ambassadors to the United States. In this case, the ambassador has authority over him.

CAMEROTA: You write in the book, until the U.S. presidential election of 2016, the global decline of democracy seemed a concern for other peoples in other lands, a matter for U.S. policy, yes, but not for America's internal affairs. The complacent optimism has been upended by the political rise of Donald Trump. The crisis is upon Americans, here and now.

Again, an ominous warning. But he is only at, you know, mid 30s in the approval numbers. So why do you think that most Americans are going to fall to this?

FRUM: He's at the 30s in the approval numbers. Two weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee that confirms judges and prosecutors, filed a criminal referral against a witness against Donald Trump, Christopher Steele, the author of the famous dossier. Christopher Steele has done nothing wrong, but it is he who is to be punished.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, is shutting -- it has started up again. Prosecutions against Donald Trump's political opponents, Hillary Clinton most recently, even as investigations against Donald Trump are silenced, shut down, intimidated, the weight of public opinion brought to bear on them. Donald Trump governs with a plurality of a plurality. He has most of the people inside most -- the -- inside the stronger of the two political parties. He can leverage that into real power.

CAMEROTA: So what you're saying about Republicans, I want to touch on that, because it does seems as though Republicans in Congress are happy that they're getting their long awaited tax reform done.

FRUM: Yes. CAMEROTA: They're getting -- going to -- something's going to happen with immigration. They're rolling back regulations. And if Donald Trump is the vessel for all of that, so be it. And that's the deal that they are making. But you think it's more dangerous than that?

FRUM: That is the deal they're making. But the price goes up and up and up. The price is not just that you look away when the president makes wild remarks. The price is that the president is demanding that Republicans be his partners in shutting down investigations into, for example, the intervention of Russia in American politics against which the United States is still defenseless. Donald Trump not only -- in order to conceal his own wrongdoing, has failed his responsibility to protect the country.

CAMEROTA: What is the solution from where you sit?

FRUM: The solution, and I'm beginning to see signs of it already because as anxious as I am in the book, I see signs of (INAUDIBLE), is civic engagement. Donald Trump was a judgment on the country for not being good enough citizens. We have to be better citizens. Be more engaged. Everyone is involved with media, has seen how much more intensely viewers and readers care about what they're hearing and seeing. We have to elect members of Congress who will hold the president to account.

But above all, we have to develop a spirit of responsibility for our institutions. You know, it wasn't that long ago that a lot of people who today abhor Donald Trump made a hero out of Edward Snowden who said, all those agencies of investigation and national defense that we rely on to protect ourselves --


FRUM: Against people like Donald Trump, they're the villains. I think a lot of people now know better, that the institutions, challenged by people like Edward Snowden, are precisely those that protect the country.

CAMEROTA: There is another women's march this weekend, by the way, in terms of civic engagement. Just throwing that out there.

FRUM: That's important.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you very much. The book is "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic."

Thanks so much for talking about it with us.

FRUM: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, so relations between the United States and Russia are very strained. President Trump is now accusing the Kremlin of helping North Korea evade international sanctions. What is Russia doing? It's fighting back. We have details and implications, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:47:45] CUOMO: In a new interview with Reuters, President Trump is accusing Russia of helping North Korea evade international sanctions. Russia's foreign ministry rejects the president's claim. This comes as President Trump heads to the Pentagon today to discuss America's defense strategy.

Barbara Starr live from the Pentagon with more.

What do we expect?


The president arrives at 11:00, heads-up the stairs, makes a quick left right into the tank, the secure conference room. They will be discussing the impact on the military if there is a government shutdown. The troops stay on duty. They will be paid if there's a shutdown after it ends.

But, topping the list, the nuclear posture review. That report that the president ordered all important, laying out the framework for the future for him and the other presidents about the use of nuclear weapons and what nuclear weapons are need. According to officials we are talking to, the draft includes a discussion of potentially developing new, smaller nuclear weapons with less lethal power. That, critics say, could lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in the future, make it easier for Mr. Trump or future presidents to decide to use nuclear weapons. And, of course, facing North Korea, Russia, China right now, that is an all sensitive matter.

So the question is, when the president is presented with the basic outline to the report today at 11:00, will he approve it? Will he be asking questions? Will he send it back for more work? What decisions will be made inside the tank today at the Pentagon that will lay the framework for the future for a future president to potentially use nuclear weapons?


CAMEROTA: Fascinating. Barbara, please, update us when you have that. Thank you so much for the reporting.

So the Justice Department is releasing these new statistics linking immigrants to terrorism. But there are big problems with their data. We're digging deeper, next.


[06:53:48] CUOMO: All right, it is no coincidence that in the heat of this immigration struggle the Trump administration comes out with a new report with statistics released by the Department of Justice and Homeland Security linking immigrants to terrorism. Closer scrutiny of that report reveals that this seems to have been done to project a very particular image. And it is that immigrants are dangerous.

All right, so let's get the facts with CNN counterterrorism analyst and a former CIA counterterrorism official Phillip Mudd.

Phillip, always a pleasure.

Let me just read you one quick part.

A new analysis claims 73 percent of those convicted of international terrorism related charges in U.S. federal courts following the attacks on September 11, 2001, were foreign born.

There you go. You've got to keep them out. Keep them all out, Phillip. They're dangerous. Three out of four could be terrorists.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Look, let's frame the question very simply, because as the teachers told me in grade school, you can do anything with numbers. I think the question we're facing is, if you're an American citizen, is there something you can do about immigration to stop terrorism in this country? Let me give you a few statements that strip away the numbers because you can play with numbers and cut to the chase.

[06:55:08] Number one -- and these are statements within the past 12 months made by the U.S. government. Number one, most terrorist attacks in this country, that is Islamic related terrorist attacks, are committed by people who were born here or who were radicalized here. These are not terrorists who came in the United States prepared to conduct an attack. Number two, again, a statement made by the U.S. government, country of origin is not a good indicator to try to determine who coming into the United States is going to be a terrorist. So if you think there's a silver bullet saying we do something about immigration, we can stop terrorism, I'm going to use U.S. government statements against them. It's not true and it's not what I saw at the FBI and the CIA.

CUOMO: What did you see at the FBI and the CIA in terms of the locust of the terrorism threat? Who were you focused on? Who were you focused on?

MUDD: Predictive measures. That is things like age, income, what country someone came from were not good indicators. You had to look at intelligence. That is, who was talking to an ISIS member, who's following somebody on ISIS on Twitter, who's traveling overseas from the United States, a U.S. citizen, for example, where back in say 2014 they might be radicalized in Syria. Just looking at large pools of people. For example, is somebody from Saudi Arabia, somebody from Somalia, somebody from Syria, are they between the ages of 18 and 35. We tried to do that and, boy, Chris, it just didn't work.

CUOMO: When you talk about, well, who's doing the killing, another statistic that came out recently was that last year you had more murders, homicides committed by white supremacists than you did by any other group that was exacting terror on the United States. You think that's an anomaly or is that something that tends to be more true or not?

MUDD: I wouldn't look at last year in isolation. That's a problem of what we call in the analysis business sample size. It's too small a sample. If you look at things like white supremacist and Islamic terrorism in this country, I would say, in general, the lethality of an Islamic attack in this country is higher. They kill more people.

On the other hand, if you look at the breadth of radicalization, there is more white supremacists activity in this country than there is Islamic extreme activity. So if you want to say we shouldn't be concerned about white supremacists because they kill fewer people, I'm going to come back and say, when I looked at this at the FBI, there's a lot of activity in counties across America that don't see Islamic extremism but do see white supremacists activity that's extremist, that is potentially violent.

CUOMO: So what's the bottom line about what part of the immigration debate would be considering legitimate terrorism issues?

MUDD: You're not going to like the answer. This is not a security question. This is a question of what Americans want. If you look at the incidents of terrorism in the United States, typically you're going to have fewer than 100 people killed in this country every year as a result of terrorism. You could get five, ten, 12 in the -- going back 10, 15 years, five, 10, 12,000 people killed in violent crime. That's typically as a result of things like drugs, gangs. So, like it or not, we cover terrorism on TV. But the incidence of terrorism in the United States is relatively low. If you want to stop immigrants, that's a policy issue, it's not a security issue.

CUOMO: So you're saying that if we were to keep everybody out, it's not necessarily going to make us safer?

MUDD: Yes. I agree with that, yes, because, again, people are born here, are radicalized here. If you want to keep everybody out, somebody's still going to read ISIS literature online and going to say, I want to become radicalized and conduct an attack in New York City. You can't -- if you try to keep people out, you're not going to stop terrorism in this country. I don't care what the White House says. They're wrong.

CUOMO: Phillip Mudd, appreciate your perspective, as always.

MUDD: Sure. Thank you.

CUOMO: And to our international viewers, we appreciate you watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now. Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has evolved in the way he's looked at things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do things that the American people elected us to do. Then we can deal with the DACA situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't say surrender your position or else we shut down the government. That's what we call hostage taking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To punish 300 million plus people, it's just ridiculous for our dysfunction here.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I'm not going to vote for a CR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're destroying the military here.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I'll vote for it reluctantly, but we need to do a budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't make a lot of sense that he would be willing to talk to Bob Mueller but he would not answer any of your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His version of executive privilege is no one's definition of executive privilege.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lewandowsky told the panel he was unprepared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should have subpoenaed him today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dog ate my homework kind of defense. It just doesn't wash.


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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

[06:59:54] Forty-one hours and counting until a government shutdown. House Republican leaders facing a major test today. They're going to see if they can move forward with a vote to keep the federal government funded. It is not clear if they have the support within their own party to pass it.