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Robert Mueller to Question Donald Trump; ICE Detains Doctor Living In the U.S. For Decades; Evangelicals Give Trump a "Mulligan" Regarding Affair. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 24, 2018 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, CNN has learned, Special Counsel Bob Mueller is going to talk to President Trump, the question is when and about what? We are being told it will be fairly specific. The firings of former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and former FBI Director, Jim Comey.

So, with the President potentially testifying, what does that mean about the investigation and this larger concern about the FBI. The more we learn about Russia, and its interference in that investigation, the more the right pushes back and says that the Department of Justice is dirty.

Let's discuss with former Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. He is the Dean of Belmont University's College of Law and author of "True Faith and Allegiance: A story of service and sacrifice in war and peace." True faith and allegiance, boy, do you we need more of that right now, Dean.

ALBERTO GONZALES, DEAN, BELMONT UNIVERSITY: Well, it certainly seems to be, so you know, these stories about problems in the bureau in particular, really trouble me and I think anyone who has ever worked at the Department of Justice is really pained by these stories. Whether they are true or not, I don't know which is worst -- the stories are true or they are not true.

It's really been disappointing to me and I think it's really a disservice to the many, many men and women who worked at the Department of Justice and are doing a great job, so you know, it's very, very important for people to keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is their innuendo, they are claims. We don't know yet how much of this is true.

CUOMO: The irony that Ron -- let's play it, let's play what Ron Johnson said to Bret Baier at Fox News, and good for Bret for asking these questions in the first place. But go ahead, listen to this.

(VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Urban bias with corruption at the highest levels of the FBI. The secret society, we have an informant that is talking about a group that were holding secret meetings offsite. There is so much smoke here. There is so much suspicion --

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Let's stop there. A secret society, secret meetings offsite of the Justice Department --

BAIER: Correct.

JOHNSON: And you have an informant saying that.

BAIER: Yes.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

CUOMO: Alberto, I've got to tell you, you flipped Ron Johnson's R to a D and changed the topic from what is happening at the FBI to what was happening with the Trump campaign, and Russia and it is the same kind of passion without proof. It is so political. He has got an informant. If they don't want to listen to Christopher Steele, they don't want to listen to the dossier, they don't want to listen to anything that comes up with the investigation because it's too limited.

But one informant, and we have a US sitting senator ready to say that there is a secret society in the FBI that meets privately to undo justice, do you buy that?

GONZALES: Well, listen, it's not consistent with the FBI that I know, but if in fact, you know, in an organization this large, over 30,000 employees, you're going to have individuals who sometimes do things that they shouldn't be doing and if that is in fact true, that needs to be investigated and those individuals need to be removed from the Bureau.

But again, I haven't seen any proof of this. And it is certainly, inconsistent with what I know of the fine men and women that work at the FBI.

CUOMO: And you know, the danger is -- and again, we've seen this on both sides and you and I have spoken about it and you're so helpful on it, that's why I appreciate you taking the time.

You can overstep the proof very easily because of political inclinations, that's what the problem is with every politician's who investigate any of these in the first place. That's why they get the Special Counsel, but it keeps being ignored. They talk about these texts between two FBI agents who are involved with the probe.

The texts were inappropriate. It shows a bias and it seems like they may have been on work phones, that's an additional problem that bosses like you would have to deal with, but they are ignoring why we know about the texts. We know because of an Inspector General. There was accountability. The agency was taking a look at it with an independent agent. They ignored that and you have to ask why did they ignore it? They ignore it because it's inconvenient. Isn't that a fair criticism?

[07:35:04] GONZALES: Well, it is a fair criticism, but again, Chris, I think -- and you just alluded to this as well. To the extent that people are engaged in wrongdoing, improper communications, improper -- motivated by improper motives, that needs to be investigated. No question about it.

I think anyone who believes in the work of the -- and the integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice would agree with that, so again, we need to find out what problems exist to the extent those problems exist. People need to be held accountable, but until there is proof of this, again, these kinds of attacks, public attacks against the men and women of the Bureau and other members of the Department of Justice really do a disservice to the fine work day in and day out.

CUOMO: Basis for Special Counsel?

GONZALES: I don't know whether or not there is a basis today for a special counsel, what I worry about, typically it is a role of Congress. It's a role of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to look at this kind of stuff. I have confidence in the Inspector General --

CUOMO: They brought out the text.

GONZALES: Exactly. I worry about investigation of (inaudible) because it appears that things had gotten so political with respect to anything related to these investigations. I worry about that, but again, the American people deserve to know all the truth here.

CUOMO: Right, but what happens when Mueller has to deliver his understandings, his findings, his facts to Rob Rosenstein which is the mandate. He doesn't release it to us. He releases it to Rosenstein, the acting AG in this regard.

And we now have this erosion of trust in the Department of Justice, I mean that is what this is about politically, right? Why are you questioning them? Well, it's in the interest of justice. They wouldn't be doing it this way. They wouldn't be hyping on a memo that if they wanted to release they could.

What then happens if the American people don't trust the findings?

GONZALES: Listen, I still believe despite everything that is being reported despite all of the claims of wrongdoing, that there still remains a fundamental trust in Bob Mueller and I think that trust still exists within the Congress and I think at the end of the day, I think the American people will accept the findings of the Special Counsel. I certainly will.

CUOMO: And I mean, look, if you want to look at it in just plain politics and we shouldn't by the way. But Mueller is described like it was Ted Kennedy doing this investigation. This is a lifelong Republican, a decorated veteran, who met with the President about a potential job in the Administration who was handpicked by his own choice. Rod Rosenstein at the Department of Justice.

Anyway, Alberto Gonzales, Dean, it is always useful and helpful to have you give your perspective on these matters. You know the situation very well. Thank you, sir.

GONZALES: Thanks, Chris. CUOMO: All right, so look, it ain't a coincidence that the more you

see Russia getting pushed up on, the more you're seeing push back from the political right about the Department of Justice not being trustworthy, so tonight, we're going to take a deep look into this. We are going to test the arguments so that you can make an informed decision. Tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern. Alysin?

ALYSIN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. Meanwhile, a doctor being detained by ICE after living in the US for decades. What he is saying about the legal situation that could send him back to a country he barely knows. That story is next.

[07:42:03] So, we're hearing now from the Michigan doctor and green card holder detained by immigration officials after living in the US legally for almost 40 years. Dr. Lukasz Nieccame came to America when he was just five years old, but he may be sent back to Poland over misdemeanors he committed 25 years ago as a teenager. CNN's Jason Caroll has the story.

(VIDEO TAPE STARTS)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A year and a half into their marriage, Rachelle Niec says she and her husband Lukasz were looking forward to settling into life together. He is a respected doctor specializing in Internal Medicine and she is a nurse.

Neither suspected, a knock on their door could end up destroying their lives.

RACHELLE NIEC, WIFE OF LUKASZ NIEC: This is my first marriage, my only marriage. And I didn't see it ever getting ripped apart like this. I mean, I said "Until death," and I didn't say until you're deported.

CARROLL: Last Tuesday, Immigration agents arrested Niec and detained him here at the Calhoun County Jail in Michigan.

DR. LUKASZ NIEC, DETAINEE: (Inaudible) I mean, I don't know what's going to happen. Most of these people that are here, they were recently arrested and most were felonies, so seeing people in here with different stories kind of blew me away in a way. Mine is probably one of the more extreme lives.

CARROLL: His wife and sister now in a legal battle to bring him home.

NIEC: I haven't slept. I haven't eaten, but honestly, I am not tired. I just have adrenaline and I am going to do whatever it takes to have him be back with us.

CARROLL: Niec's story began in 1979. His mother escapes communist Poland and was granted permission to legally enter the United States.

And that's your mom right there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my mom.

CARROLL: Eventually, their mother got U.S. citizenship and in 1989, Niec got permitted status.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a permanent resident card. It gave us comfort.

[07:45:00] CARROLL: That comfort broken when Immigration officials determined Niec should be detained for offenses committed when he was 17 years old. Saying, it's the result of two 1992 state convictions for malicious destruction of property and receiving stolen property -- both of which are crimes involving moral turpitude.

Niec's family says, one incident involved damages to a car causing him about $100.00. They say the other offense was expunged from Niec's record after he completed a youth training program. Now, it seems that conviction was not completely wiped from the record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, even though the record has been sealed, ICE is able to get access to these old records. In fact, they might be the only ones that could access them.

CARROLL: Niec's past also includes pleading guilty to driving under the influence in 2008. That case dismissed after he completed probation. In 2013, he was charged with domestic violence involving a previous relationship. He argued it was self-defense, a jury agreed and found him not guilty.

Immigration officials did not cite those issues, but did say, Niec came under their scrutiny due to more than a dozen minor traffic violations including driving without a seatbelt. Niec's family say, they are proud Americans. They cherish this picture of Niec's mother on the day she became a US citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wonder what she would be thinking now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, you know, up in heaven, she is -- it is one of the things that breaks my heart because I know she would be like, "I can't believe it. After all I worked for," and you know, the man that I (inaudible) that this is what is happening.

CARROLL: Through the tears, they hope an Immigration judge will allow Niec to go back to doing what he did before, living legally here in the United States. Jason Carroll, CNN, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

(VIDEO TAPE ENDS)

CUOMO: We will stay on that. Our thanks to Jason Carroll. Now, take a look at this. This is video out of Massachusetts. A school bus, 29 kids on board sliding down an icy hill on a residential street in the town of Sutton. You'll see what it does here, look, obviously, the driver can't control it. I don't know if there was somebody in that car with the hazards on.

CAMEROTA: They slid down before that.

CUOMO: Yes, I guess. It hits the mailboxes. No one was hurt. There was only minor damage to the bus and car, but this is part of the weather realities that they have to account for in making decisions as to whether or not there is school, whether or not there is a delay.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but there you see it. I mean, that is just the best illustration of why we sometimes have these annoying two-hour delays. That's black ice, you know, so the idea that that heavy school bus filled with kids could be sliding around like that. That is -- I don't know, it's just a remarkable video just to watch how it happened so fast.

CUOMO: Yes, you know, I have taken -- over the years, I have taken these courses where they put you with the police and the first responders in the race cars and they teach you how to drive and thing --

CAMEROTA: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: This is not an easy thing to control in something that size.

CAMEROTA: Have you been trying to race a school bus on one of those courses somewhere?

CUOMO: I actually once stole a school bus and raced it around for an entire afternoon.

CAMEROTA: Tell me more. I am interested in this.

CUOMO: I probably shouldn't. I just realized we're on live TV.

CAMEROTA: That is so good. All right, meanwhile, this story that is not going away apparently. These sordid details of an alleged affair between President Trump and a porn star have been revealed, but the evangelical base now says, he deserves a mulligan on that. That's next.

[07:51:30] President Trump facing allegations that his lawyer paid off a porn star right before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about their extramarital affair. So, why are prominent evangelical leaders giving the President a pass.

(VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Evangelicals Conservatives gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said, "We will start afresh with you and we will give you a second chance."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a long time ago. I am more interested on -- and who a person is today than what they were 11 years ago and I believe that he is a changed person.

(VIDEOCLIP ENDS)

CAMEROTA: Joining us now to discuss this, our CNN political commentators, Ben Ferguson and Tara Setmayer. Ben, let me start with you.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Good morning. Help us understand this. Does everyone get a mulligan on adultery from evangelicals or just Donald Trump?

FERGUSON: No, I don't think everyone gets a mulligan. I don't think the majority of voters that voted for Donald Trump call it a mulligan in a way that some have said it. I think this is a serious issue and a lot of people also knew when they were voting for Donald Trump, they were voting for an individual not based on what he was coming out there and saying that he was this big evangelical Christian. They knew Donald Trump had a tough past.

They knew that he had things in the past that they wouldn't agree with, maybe when it comes to moral issues. They voted for him on political issues and the climate today and they were willing to say, I know this is not a guy walking out on stage claiming to be a hardcore evangelical Christian like George Bush did in 2000 to 2004.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I get it and my issues isn't really with Donald Trump's imperfections or even his voters. It's with these evangelical leaders. I mean, what part of the seventh commandment does it say, "Thou shalt not commit adultery unless you're going to run for President someday as a Republican."

FERGUSON: Look, I think many of these evangelical leaders, they have to remember what their job is. First, it's not politics, right? If you're a pastor, your job is to be that pastor and you have to stay consistent with what you are saying about this. I do also believe very much in forgiveness, and you can clearly hear that from Billy Graham, the comments that you have had from Franklin Graham I should say --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Specific to Bill Clinton?

FERGUSON: And you can hear that from Tony Perkins, look, and I think it has to be across the board, that certainly is clear.

CAMEROTA: So, just to be clear, so you see an inconsistency and hypocrisy here.

FERGUSON: I see an inconsistency. If you are a pastor, I have always said this.

CAMEROTA: Why not hypocrisy?

FERGUSON: Well, let me finish my point about pastors. I think pastors' jobs first and foremost are to be pastors and not be in politics.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FERGUSON: When you start meddling in between here, you're going to have to start changing lines and narratives here to make things fit when you support or back a --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Yes, I get it.

FERGUSON: And that's also the reason why I don't like evangelicals that come out and support candidates.

CAMEROTA: Okay, so Tara, here is what is confusing. It is that Tony Perkins said something very different in 2007 when it involved John Edwards having an adulterous affair. Here is what he said then, "When it comes to Presidents, in particular, social conservatives think that character is an issue, and as Harry Truman once said, a man that will lie to his wife will lie to me and a man that will break his marriage oath will break his oath of office." Why did he feel differently now?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what happened to that Tony Perkins. You know what? What has happened is exactly to Ben's point, that these pastors, these men who are called to be leaders, whose leader -- their leadership should be to their flock first and to biblical principles, and as Christians, we are supposed to be the lights of the world.

[07:55:00] And I don't understand how any of this is furthering the message that the Christian Church is called to do which is supposed to be converting lives to Christ. How is this -- they are not setting that example by being hypocrites, which is what Ben wouldn't say, but I'll say it. These evangelical leaders are hypocrites.

Evidence based, even on what you just read just there on what Tony Perkins said, so Trump gets a mulligan because he's doing what we want him to do now. So, they're putting policy over Christian biblical principles. I don't see how God is pleased with that.

CAMEROTA: Yes, which Christian biblical principle was it, Ben that where Christ first referred to the mulligan do you think?

FERGUSON: Look, I don't think it's there. I do know that Christ talks an awful lot about forgiveness, and I think that's where Tony Perkins --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Let me finish this important note.

SETMAYER: And he talks about repentance also and I would like to know what -- I would like to what Billy Graham's reference or Franklin Graham's reference, I am sorry, about that Trump is a changed man. In what respect? He has never asked for forgiveness. He has never engaged for repentance. That's where it comes in. You repent and then you change your behavior. What has Trump done to change his behavior? Nothing. People are making --

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I am not defending the behavior. Let's be clear. I am not defending the behavior. I said this at the beginning. I will say it again. This is the problem I have with evangelical pastors and others who are hard core into politics --

CAMEROTA: I know. I get it, but they do weigh in on politics --

FERGUSON: Because --

CAMEROTA: I get it. You don't want them to do what they do.

FERGUSON: They have to walk -- they don't have to walk down these comments.

CAMEROTA: Yes, they do weigh on politics, and so why don't you want to call that hypocritical?

FERGUSON: It's one thing to weigh in -- there is one thing to weigh in on a moral issue or an issue that deals with politics. Abortion is a great example of that, right? I have no problem with a pastor talking about that issue, but if you're going to come out and use the word "mulligan" on an individual because either A, you're close to him or B, because you've backed him and you don't want to embarrass yourself per se, that's where it becomes a real problem and you lose that moral high ground and footing because the pastor's job is not to be a politician.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

FERGUSON: That's not his job to do that.

CAMEROTA: And also to have some consistency.

SETMAYER: Right.

CAMEROTA: If you believe in these ideals, if you don't believe that -- let me just read to you the Family Research Council's mission statement, okay, so their mission statement is to promote marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, and so does he think that it helps marriage to have an affair with a porn star or not?

FERGUSON: I think you'd have to ask him that and clearly, he would say, "Of course, not." What I do know is that a lot of people have voted for Donald Trump --

CAMEROTA: Apparently, it's okay now.

FERGUSON: -- well, I don't know. I am not going to speak for him.

SETMAYER: He spoke for himself, Ben. He said that -- he used the term "mulligan" which okay, if you want to -- even if you wanted to accept that as a one-off, maybe, but this is a consistent pattern of behavior for Donald Trump and it's not just the adulterous behavior that he has exhibited his entire life, but his other immorality. The way he speaks about people, the way that he denigrates groups of people. The way that he attacks the media and institutions in our country.

I mean, Donald Trump's character deficit is something that the evangelical church should never have tolerated just because he gives them a few bones by saying that he is going to be pro-life and have religious freedom. You cannot put this kind of policy gains over biblical Christian

principles. That right there is the same -- you know, what does it gain a man if you inherit the world and lose his soul, that's exactly what's happening right now in the evangelical community.

CAMEROTA: Tara? Quickly, one last thing, if there is one person who seems to be upset by it, I mean, this is only by appearances, it's Melania. She cancelled a trip to Davos today with her husband and it was their 13th wedding anniversary on Monday night and we didn't see them celebrating, maybe they did, but that was the day that she announced that she wasn't going to be going to Davos.

SETMAYER: She knew what she was marrying.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Tara, Ben, thank you for the debate.

FERGUSON: Thanks.

SETMAYER: Any time.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.

(VIDEOCLIP STARTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they really trying to interview the President, that is very good news for the President because it means they are starting to wrap up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to be fully cooperative with the Special Counsel. The Attorney General and James Comey, they've both been interviewed by the Special Counsel's office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all because it is not appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a Federal official who they voted for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't understand the separation of powers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's see how it all works out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people hostile to the President have not been conducting themselves in a manner that befits the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all part of trying to save this President's bacon by damaging the FBI and the Department of Justice.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Beautiful sunrise there, good morning everyone, welcome to your "New Day," it is Wednesday, January 24th, eight o'clock in the East. Big developments in the Russia investigation, all in just one day. Sources tell CNN that Robert Mueller wants to interview President Trump to question him about the decision to fire the former FBI Director, James Comey and former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.