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Larry Nassar's Victims Speak Out; Sources: Mueller Wants to Question Trump on Comey & Flynn. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 24, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BOYCE: And I just asked for me personally. She said she didn't have time. And why don't we make a compromise. I'll watch the live stream. So --
[07:00:13] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And should she keep her job?
BOYCE: At this point, I don't think so. She has not shown leadership in this prolific -- this is the most prolific sex abuse scandal I think ever in our history. And instead of being there and showing that she's compassionate and cares -- I mean, she should be there every day, listening to every girl that goes through to really grab the scope of this whole thing.
But instead of doing that of doing that, she has shown that she's tone deaf. They keep saying that they are seen as tone deaf. But their actions are showing that they really, truly are tone deaf.
CAMEROTA: So it sounds like this week that Nassar is going to be sentenced. Who else do you want to see held responsible?
BOYCE: There's a lot of people. All of the enablers. All of the people who were told and still have their jobs there. I think, you know, Luann Simon, Ann Ferguson. And you know, I think just there needs to be a cleaning of House, because they obviously -- this is obviously a problem that they have on campus.
It's not just the Nassar case. They really do have a sexual assault problem on MSU's campus. And then, you know, finally, the USAG is starting to make those steps and -- and, you know, three people have just resigned. So they're at least taking those steps.
MSU, you know, gave a -- you know, had a meeting the other day and apparently, according to Ferguson, only talked about this case for 10 minutes, and it was a five-hour meeting. So --
CAMEROTA: Yes. So a lot has to be done moving forward. But Larissa, you tried to do the right thing. You are speaking out now. And we really appreciate your candor then and now. Thank you very much for being with us.
BOYCE: 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. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And that's why we say good morning. Oh,
look, you're back. And welcome to your NEW DAY.
There are major developments in the Russia investigation. First, we have sources telling CNN, Special Counsel Bob Mueller does want to question President Trump. And there's a very specific angle: the firings of former FBI Director Jim Comey and national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Mueller's team has already interviewed Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and key presidential adviser Hope Hicks. Now, some are asking if these interviews show the special counsel's investigation may be coming to an end. But that is just a suggestion.
CAMEROTA: And the "Washington Post" is reporting that shortly after the director's firing, President Trump pointedly asked the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, who he voted for in the 2016 election. This was during an Oval Office meeting.
Officials say McCabe told the president he did not vote, but McCabe found that conversation disturbing. McCabe, of course, has been a frequent target of angry tweets from the president.
We've got all this covered for you. First let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. She is live at the White House. What's the latest there, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it was a day of bombshells here at the White House. And after months of interviews, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has finally set his sights on President Donald Trump himself.
And CNN has learned that the special counsel's lawyers are now negotiating with the president's lawyers to set up a meeting, because Robert Mueller himself has expressed interest in sitting down with the president.
COLLINS (voice-over): Special Counsel Robert Mueller expressing interest in questioning President Trump about his decision to fire former FBI director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to sources.
SANDERS: We're going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel, but we're also not going to comment on who may or may not or could be interviewed at any point.
COLLINS: The Russia probe also closing in on the president's inner circle. A source close to Jeff Sessions tells CNN Mueller questioned the attorney general for hours last Wednesday. Sessions is the first cabinet secretary and the 16th current or former Trump administration official to be interviewed by the special counsel.
President Trump telling reporters he hasn't talked to Jeff Sessions about the conversation. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't, but I'm
not at all concerned.
COLLINS: But a source says topics likely included Russia meddling in the election and what Sessions knows about the president's decision to fire Comey, a matter Mueller is investigating for obstruction of justice.
Last year the president said this about his decision.
TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. 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."
[07:05:11] COLLINS: CNN has learned that Mueller already interviewed Comey last year. The "New York Times" reports that the former FBI director was questioned about memos he wrote about his interactions with the president.
Last May, Comey testified that Mr. Trump asked for his loyalty and told him he hoped he could let the investigation into Flynn go.
TRUMP: I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
COLLINS: Mr. Trump's alleged request for loyalty resurfacing amid a new "Washington Post" report that shortly after firing Comey, the president asked Comey's replacement, then acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who he voted for in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump reportedly also expressed his anger at McCabe over hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations his wife received from a political action committee run by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.
Since then, the president has repeatedly gone after McCabe. And CNN has learned that Sessions encouraged the new FBI director, Christopher Wray, to replace him, prompting Ray to threaten to quit if McCabe was removed or reassigned.
TRUMP: He did not, even a little bit. And he's going to do a good job.
COLLINS: Mueller's Russia case steadily progressing, as CNN learns that former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has quietly hired a prominent white-collar attorney, signaling that Gates may be negotiating with Mueller in the face of eight charges of money laundering and failing to register foreign lobbying in other businesses.
Despite these developments, the White House continuing to insist that Mueller's probe is a witch-hunt, but that Trump hasn't fired Mueller due to potential backlash in the press.
SANDERS: I think we all know what everybody in this room would do if the president did that, and I don't think that's helpful to the process.
COLLINS: So, Alisyn and Chris, a day of intense drama here at the White House. And the president is continuing to target this probe overall and the FBI, attacking the bureau on Twitter over some missing text messages between two former members of Mueller's team. And all of this going on as the president prepares to depart the White House tonight for Davos, Switzerland, where he will attend the World Economic Forum.
CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan. Thank you very much for all of that background.
Joining us now to discuss it, we have CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. Great to have both of you.
Carrie, let me start with you. So the reporting is that Mueller is getting ready to interview the president and vice versa. The president is getting ready to be interviewed. But the conditions are obviously what is still in question.
Is there any chaps that President Trump doesn't have to have a face- to-face interview, that he could just answer questions, written questions?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It seems unlikely, Alisyn. The special counsel's office, the prosecutors, the investigators, maybe even the special counsel, Bob Mueller himself, they're going to want to interview the president so that they can ask him questions and they can follow up.
Written answers, which I've seen floated in some of the reporting that comes out, I suspect that that perhaps is coming from the president's lawyers or the president's side of this, because that might be more desirable for them. Obviously, then, those written answers would be heavily lawyered.
So it seems unlikely that that would be useful for the investigators to get to the bottom of what were the president's motivations in firing the director and in taking a number of other actions that he took over the course of the year to put pressure on the underlying investigations.
CUOMO: David, it's one hell of a coincidence that the closer we get to the big names, the more the drum beat that the Justice Department is dirty, the louder it gets. We have the memo out there about FISA abuses that they say they want declassified, but for some reason hasn't leaked, and nobody's taking that step.
The missing texts between Strzok and Page, not with any curiosity as to why they're missing or if there are more missing that shows that this was some kind of glitch, as opposed to something nefarious.
And then you have Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He's been on the show. We like to have his perspective. We want it right now, because he said on FOX yesterday that there's a secret society in the FBI. They met in private. And they had a very clear intention, David, and it was to help Hillary Clinton take down Republicans. Not a shred of proof offered.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I think that's such an irresponsible thing for a sitting U.S. senator to level against the FBI. And I think what's telling in all of this, some of these revelations may, in fact, reveal bias or miscalculation or even misdeeds on the part of investigators. That has to be rundown.
But for a senator to make that kind of accusation, it's been rebutted by the president's own FBI director, who is standing up for the FBI, standing up for the investigators and is not going to wilt under political pressure.
[07:10:09] CUOMO: And just to remind, the reason we know about the texts between Strzok and Page isn't because some Republican dug them out. The agency had the inspector general do its own investigation. And that's how we know. There was an accountability in place to look at this.
CAMEROTA: And then they were moved off the investigation. Let's just be clear. There was also -- they were also --
CUOMO: When Mueller was told.
CAMEROTA: -- to not be involved in it anymore.
GREGORY: Also, let me just -- let me just add, if you're around this town, if you know FBI agents, if you've done any reporting after the justice -- about the Justice Department, about the FBI, it's not full of liberals, by the way.
And why do you think it was that Comey felt so much pressure to justify his decision not to prosecute, not to bring charges against Hillary Clinton? Because he was facing a backlash of anti-Clinton people within the FBI.
So there certainly are people who might have been forward with the FBI. I think that was a minority view.
And again, just irresponsible, without any evidence, to make that kind of accusation. That is again being rebutted by the president's own guy who's in that job, Christopher Wray, and I think that's what people need to know. The bigger point here is that they are doing their due diligence in the special counsel's office. They are getting now to the top-level officials after interviewing people who were lower down. And now -- now we get closer to what may actually be the truth.
CAMEROTA: And so Carrie, because they're getting up the food chain to, clearly, the most important person, President Trump, does that mean that Mueller is ready to wrap this investigation shortly?
CORDERO: Well, remember that the special counsel's investigation has several different categories, as best as we know. And so the obstruction piece, whether or not the president obstructed justice, obstructed the investigation into Russian meddling, tried to obstruct the investigation of Michael Flynn, that is one piece of the special counsel's investigation. Now, it might be -- we don't know -- it might be that this crescendo of potential interviews in the case that that piece of the special counsel's investigation is reaching its natural conclusion and some determination will be made.
But there are other aspects of the investigation with respect to potential cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, in terms of Russian meddling in the election. There could be other financial related crimes. There are other aspects. And certainly, the Manafort and Gates part is set for trial a long time away. So I wouldn't overemphasize the soon-to-be ending investigation of the special counsel.
CUOMO: Hey, Carrie, a quick follow on that. This reporting about what the president did when he met the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, after he fired Comey, it -- the idea of saying, "Who did you vote for," banging on him about the donations that his wife had gotten through Terry McAuliffe's organization, those are deemed inappropriate. Are they going to be of interest to a special counsel and why?
CORDERO: Well, what's interesting -- I mean, there's two things that's interesting. First of all, Andy McCabe's answer is interesting, which is that he didn't vote in the election, which is consistent with sort of an unwritten norm amongst prosecutors and investigators in public corruption investigations, which oftentimes they forego their personal right to vote so that they maintain an appearance of being objective in a particular investigation.
The other piece is, when Andy McCabe was the acting FBI director, he was then responsible for the underlying investigation. So with respect to obstruction, potential obstruction, it's not just the firing of FBI Director Comey that the special counsel's office might be looking at. They also could be looking at a whole range of activities, including pressure that the president or the White House placed on the attorney general, on other investigators. There are some of the president's tweets could be interpreted as trying to influence or intimidate potential witnesses. And so I think his conversation, as it's been reported with Andy McCabe, falls into that category.
GREGORY: Just remember that this is part of an overall point of view that the president has, which is that the president of the United States, that he can independently control the Justice Department, the FBI. That they shouldn't have any independence, that he wanted to clean House. It was that mindset that was so misguided, and certainly, it would be something that would be investigated. Whether it's a crime or not, it's certainly inappropriate for the president to believe that he can demand loyalty and not independence of the FBI.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, Carrie Cordero, thank you both very much.
So how will these new revelations, and the ongoing Russia investigation, affect the GOP in the midterm elections? The party chairwoman joins us next.
[06:18:53] CAMEROTA: We are learning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to interview President Trump and that that could happen within the next few weeks. What does all this mean for Republicans in the 2018 midterms?
Let's bring in RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniels. Great to have you here.
RONNA MCDANIELS, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: Great to be here. What a beautiful studio.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. We are quite proud of it.
MCDANIELS: It's gorgeous. I've never been here, so thrilled.
CAMEROTA: Well, come back any time.
MCDANIELS: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Let's start with the Russia investigation.
CAMEROTA: Should President Trump sit down for a face-to-face interview with Robert Mueller?
MCDANIELS: Well, the Trump administration has cooperated fully with the Mueller investigation. His attorneys have cooperated. It's not for me to say what the president should do. I think he should take the advice of his counsel, and we'll go from there.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that President Trump should have asked the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, who he voted for in 2016?
MCDANIELS: Yes. I know this is a big story. I think it's just a conversation. I don't think it intends, you know, all these terrible things that people are trying to put forward.
CAMEROTA: Well, was it inappropriate?
MCDANIELS: I don't know. I ask people who they vote for sometimes. I think it's just trying to get to know somebody. I don't think it's -- the intentions are as bad as are being put out.
CAMEROTA: You don't think it's that President Trump thinks that if anybody voted for a Democrat, they cannot do their jobs impartially?
[07:20:07] MCDANIELS: I don't think so. I really don't think so. He's certainly not going around to every single FBI agent and saying, "Did you vote for me?" It's a conversation. He had someone in his office. He kept people on who I know, I'm sure he thinks didn't support him. I mean, this is a president who's just getting to know people, and that's part of those conversations.
CAMEROTA: He was just being conversational?
MCDANIELS: Yes, I think so.
CAMEROTA: About the FBI --
CAMEROTA: Do you think the Americans should trust the FBI?
MCDANIELS: I do. I think we should trust the FBI. I think it's very concerning what's happening with Lisa Page and Peter Strzok and these five months of missing text messages we've seen, and the text messages we have seen are concerning. When you see that they knew about the outcome of the Hillary Clinton investigation before it was released. When they knew --
CAMEROTA: It's hard to parse these things.
MCDANIELS: It is.
CAMEROTA: It's hard to know what these --
MCDANIELS: They did have one where they said -- and I read them through last night. Where they said Hillary Clinton had sent an e- mail through her server to the president. And then they changed the language. They didn't want to put the president there. Then they said somebody with high security. And then it ended up not being in the Comey conclusion.
I think that's concerning. These are things we should get to the bottom of. We know that our FBI men and women are serving this country with distinction. But these two individuals need to be investigated. They have gone outside of the lane, and they're somebody -- they have been inappropriate.
CAMEROTA: Understood. They've also been reassigned. So do these two taint the work of the FBI?
MCDANIELS: No. But they taint their own work. And I think we need to get to the bottom of these five months of missing text messages that occurred during a very -- during a very difficult time, during the transition, during when Susan Rice unmasked the names from the FISA warrants. We need to know what they knew. We need to know what happened during that time. I mean, why are these five months of text messages missing? So it warrants an investigation.
CAMEROTA: But when the president puts out a tweet like this one: "After years of Comey with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation running the FBI, its reputation is in tatters; worst in history. But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness."
Do you think that that has a demoralizing effect on the rank and file in the FBI?
MCDANIELS: I think Comey deserved to be fired especially now that we know things that he did when he was the head of the FBI. This is up to the president to decide.
Listen, this is up to the president to decide. This is up for the voters to decide. I think there are some concerning things coming out, especially from these text messages.
CAMEROTA: But this is what's so confusing. This is our top law enforcement agency. OK? They keep us safe. They fight crime. They fight terrorism. So do we trust them or don't we trust them?
MCDANIELS: We do trust them. But these two individuals need to be investigated.
CAMEROTA: Fine but they're doing that.
MCDANIELS: But they're hurting the FBI in some ways, because these are people working for the government, talking about how they don't like the president, how they want to come after him, how there are going to be safeguards against him. That's concerning. They should not have been doing that as FBI agents.
And like you said, they just got reassigned.
MCDANIELS: They should be let go based on that, because they're supposed to be. I mean, we talk about the president --
CAMEROTA: I just want to get to the whole. So do these two taint the whole FBI as an agency?
MCDANIELS: Of course not. But why is everybody not -- not willing to say they should be investigated? That's what I'm saying? Where are these Democrats --
CAMEROTA: An investigation is happening?
MCDANIELS: But where are these Democrats saying this is wrong, what they've done? This is out of line. These two individuals. But two individuals do not taint a whole body. And the president has said that. He's gone and spoken to the FBI and -- but these individuals have gone out of line. And they should be investigated. I think they should be removed.
CAMEROTA: Are you hearing -- are you hearing any Democrats say, "Nah, five months of missing texts who cares?"
MCDANIELS: I'm not hearing Democrats saying, "Five months of missing texts, let's investigate." We should all be saying that. That is truly concerning to have these people at the start of this investigation, the Mueller investigation, one of them, exchanging texts saying how much they don't like the president of the United States, purely partisan, talking about investigations to each other. We need to figure out what happened.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what will happen with the DREAMers. What's the RNC's position on what should happen to these 800,000 people?
MCDANIELS: Well, it's going to be up to the president and the legislature.
CAMEROTA: Do you understand what the president's position is?
MCDANIELS: I do. The president has been really clear. He said we want to deal with the DACA.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but first on the DREAMers. Let's focus on the DREAMers.
MCDANIELS: No, but it's not just the DREAMers. That's the thing. It's not just a one thing. It's got to be DACA, chain migration, the visa lottery, and border security. For a lot of reasons. And border security is important, because we don't want to find ourselves in this exact same place 20 years from now.
CAMEROTA: Understood, but it's hard to know what the president feels about the DREAMers.
MCDANIELS: He has been so clear.
CAMEROTA: Has he? Does he want them to become -- does he want a path to citizenship or does he want legalization?
MCDANIELS: He said, "I want to deal with DACA, but it has to deal with border immigration. Come to me." He wants --
CAMEROTA: What are the details of what he wants for the DREAMers?
MCDANIELS: Because it's up to Congress to make those decisions. And that's why he said President Obama, and the courts, 5th Circuit said, he used executive order incorrectly, unconstitutionally. It needs to be codified by Congress. Let them work a deal.
CAMEROTA: I understand.
MCDANIELS: Bring it, and I'll tell you what I find.
[07:25:05] CAMEROTA: But the problem is, is that we don't know his position. We don't know how he feels about this. Even Mick Mulvaney said yesterday, "We're -- it depends on what they present us with."
Is that his inner feeling, I mean, his sort of moral compass about the DREAMers, is "Let me see what kind of deal I can get"?
MCDANIELS: I think he's putting it right in the body it should be, which is Congress. They need to come up with their solution and come together and present it to him. And he's going to work every step of the way. He's been willing to do that. There's been a willingness on Republicans -- on the part of
Republicans to work with Democrats on DACA, but it has to include border security, visa lottery, and chain migration.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about 2018.
CAMEROTA: I have one specific question for you about 2018 involving one Republican candidate. Congressman Patrick Meehan. What's going to happen with him? As you know, he was tossed off the Ethics Committee, because he was having an affair with a staffer. He used office funds to pay her. He says that he's not going anywhere. Does the RNC stand behind Congressman Meehan?
MCDANIELS: Well, there's an investigation going on there, as well. We'll get to the bottom of that. I mean, I need to see more details on that. He's been removed. And Paul Ryan is handling that.
Listen, I'm going to be out there working to keep majorities in the Senate and the House. I know that our country is in a better place under President Trump and Republican leadership than it was.
Let's look at the great news. Just yesterday, with bonuses, Verizon. All these good things are happening in our country: 17-year low unemployment. Jobs are coming back. Things are good. I want to keep those majorities. And we'll let the voters make decisions as to who's best to represent them.
CAMEROTA: But right now does the RNC stand behind Congressman Meehan?
MCDANIELS: Right now, we're going to let the investigations take place. We'll see everything that happened through the ethics investigation, and then we'll let the voters decide. And it's too early to say.
CAMEROTA: So that's a yes?
MCDANIELS: No, I'm saying let the process play out on.
CAMEROTA: You don't know --
MCDANIELS: I have to know all the details. I have to know all the details.
CAMEROTA: You haven't heard enough yet, that he used office funds to pay for --
MCDANIELS: I want to see an investigation, and I want to hear from the House. And I think Paul Ryan has got a handle on that.
CAMEROTA: Ronna McDaniels --
MCDANIELS: Thank you for having me.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you here. MCDANIELS: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for being here in person -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Sources tell CNN Special Counsel Bob Mueller does want to talk to the president and soon. What does that say about where we are in the investigation? We ask former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales next.