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Trump Says He's Willing to Speak Under Oath to Mueller; Trump Supports Pathway to Citizenship for Some DREAMERS. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 25, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are talking about how to make their lawyers a bit nuts.
[05:59:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't mean any of that. He's going to follow his lawyer's advice.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: There is no way that Mueller will agree to anything but an in-person interview.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The first time he used the word "fight back" was today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he tells the truth he may walk into an obstruction case. If he lies, it's a false statements case. What a terrible dilemma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one should ever ask anyone else who they voted for. I hope Mr. McCabe didn't answer it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him that?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not Republicans who created the theory of a secret society. It wasn't Republicans that deleted five months of text messages.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of my colleagues just ought to take a deep breath and step back from some of these conspiracy theories.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, January 25th, 6 here in New York. Here's our starting line.
President Trump arriving moments ago in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. Before he left the White House, the president surprised his aides and reporters with an impromptu Q&A session. President Trump declared he is, quote, "looking forward" to being questioned under oath by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This as CNN learn that Mueller's team has already given the president's lawyers possible topics for an interview. We will get into that.
President Trump also weighed in on his feud with the FBI. The president says he does not remember asking FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who McCabe voted for in the 2016 election. And the president says he's very disturbed when asked if he trusts the FBI.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, remember, the president has never expressed a shed of concern about Russian interference or any of the actions of the men surrounding his campaign and administration, despite all the basis for concern. Yet he is ready to impugn the reputation of a key part of our democracy because of missing FBI text messages, an unknown, and a battle over a classified memo.
Now, the president hasn't weighed in on the House Republicans' refusal to show the much-hyped memo on surveillance to the Justice Department. The DOJ warning the House Intelligence Committee Republican Chairman Devin Nunes that it would be, quote, "extraordinarily reckless" to release a memo that contains sensitive information that claims to show surveillance power abuses.
Remember, the DOJ and the FBI are both run by Republican choices of President Trump.
There's also a new twist in the immigration battle. President Trump putting a pathway to citizenship for some DREAMers on the negotiating table but only if he gets billions for his border wall and border security. So does this put lawmakers any closer to striking a deal?
We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Jeff Zeleny, live in Davos, Switzerland, traveling with the president.
Good to know you arrived safely. What's the deal?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. President Trump got a bird's-eye view of the snowy Swiss Alps as he did arrive here in Davos just a few moments ago after flying from Washington overnight. That was perhaps a lone bit of tranquillity here as this Russia investigation escalates.
Now, the president, of course, in Davos to talk about his agenda to sell America, but it is that Russia investigation back home that's consuming everything at the White House.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump talking about his agenda to sell America. But it is that Russian investigation back home that is consuming everything at the White House. President Trump touching down in Switzerland this morning for the World Economic Forum in Davos after a remarkable session with reporters before leaving the White House. The president now saying he will submit to questioning from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to? TRUMP: Yes. Just so you understand. Here's the story. Just so you
understand, there's no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever. And I'm looking forward to it. I would love to do that, and I'd like to do it as soon as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date set?
TRUMP: I don't know. I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers in all of that. But I would love to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath.
TRUMP: I would do it under oath. Absolutely.
ZELENY: Shortly after the president made these remarks, White House lawyer Ty Cobb doing damage control. He's still in negotiations with Mueller about the type of interview the president will agree to. Cobb telling CNN, "While Mr. Trump was speaking hurriedly before leaving for Davos, he remains committed to continued complete cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel and is looking forward to speaking with Mr. Mueller."
The president also saying his efforts to defend himself have been unfairly portrayed as trying to interfere in the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Robert Mueller will be fair to you in this larger investigation?
TRUMP: We're going to find out. Because here's what we'll see. And everybody says no collusion. There's no collusion. Now they're saying, "Oh, well, did he fight back?" If you fight back, you say, "Oh, it's obstruction."
So here's the thing. I hope so.
ZELENY: The president repeatedly referencing the missing text messages between two former members of Mueller's probe. Saying this with when asked did he trust the FBI.
TRUMP: I am very disturbed, as is the general, as is everybody else who is intelligent.
ZELENY: A Justice Department tells CNN that a technical glitch impacted thousands of FBI phones. Mr. Trump also renewing his criticism of the No. 2 man at the FBI, Andrew McCabe but insisting he does not recall asking McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election, despite the fact the White House official confirmed the conversation on Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask McCabe who he voted for?
TRUMP: I don't think so, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did? TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't remember?
TRUMP: I think it's also a very unimportant question, but I don't remember asking him the question.
ZELENY: Meanwhile, the president now says he supports a pathway to citizenship for some DREAMers if he gets $25 billion for his border wall, an idea he rejected just a week ago.
[06:05:09] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for DREAMers?
TRUMP: We're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen at some point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean morph into it?
TRUMP: Over a period of -- over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they've worked hard, it gives the incentive to do a great job. If they've worked hard, they've done terrifically, whether they have a little company, or whether they work, whatever they're doing, if they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's no agreement by March 5, are you going to protect them, are you going to extend the deadline?
TRUMP: Yes, I might do that. I might do that. I'm not guaranteeing it, because I want to put a little bit of -- but certainly have the right to do that if I want.
ZELENY: Now, that promise of citizenship sparking outrage from the conservative website Breitbart, which labeled the president Amnesty Don. Of course, immigration front and center in the fight for the government shutdown and in the fight coming ahead to keep it open.
All of this is happening as the president now will be focusing his attention, at least for the next day, on Davos. This morning, he'll be meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, before he begins to hold a business meeting with CEOs here this evening, all part of his America first agenda, but also trying to encourage more investment in America.
He returns to Washington tomorrow. Again, that investigation still consuming the administration and the White House will be there waiting for him -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Jeff, thank you very much for that update from Davos.
So we have an interesting picture to show you. This is where the president just made this impromptu visit to the press room. You can see our friend Maggie Haberman there in the foreground. The ponytail, we believe, is her. And this is just an interesting moment of watching, you know, the reporter scrum try to figure out, trying to, you know, lob questions at him. So we'll get into that.
CUOMO: Wasn't a surprise to one man in that room, the president of the United States. He had a message he wanted to get out. And we'll take it all apart for you, because it matters on a lot of levels.
CAMEROTA: So up next, we have new details about what the special counsel wants to ask President Trump, and what we're learning about the direction of the Russia investigation.
[06:11:02] CAMEROTA: President Trump telling reporters he is willing to talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller under oath if -- and it's a big "if" -- his lawyers OK it. Here's part of what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to?
TRUMP: Yes, here's the story, just so you understand. There's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever, and I'm looking forward to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a higher standard, you would do it under oath, correct?
TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath, yes, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Now sources tell CNN that Mueller's team has given the president's attorneys a list of possible topics for an interview. So let's discuss with our experts, CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. Great to see you guys.
OK. So the president, John, has been, you know -- he said a few different things about how he feels about being interviewed by Robert Mueller. But mostly, he has said that he's willing to do it. And yesterday, he went further, saying he looks forward to doing it, with the caveat of if his lawyers approve and agree to it; and they seem more reluctant.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Kind of tacked on at the very end there. But this was a very revealing statement -- series of statements by the president. He was unguarded. He seemed authentic. And he reaffirmed that impulse from the Rose Garden, 100 percent, absolutely he'd do it under oath, no questions, if the lawyers OK. The lawyers are going to be a little bit more anxious than the president was in that. I think he is trying to project the sense that he has nothing to hide. CUOMO: Therein is the contradiction. Lawyers don't demand action,
and they don't control your behavior. They work for you. If he's this confident in everything, Carrie, obviously he can do whatever he wants. What is your take on whether or not he can completely avoid a confrontation with these investigators and the parameters for any investigation that happens? What do you think it will be about, and do you think he can even avoid it?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, at this point, it seems unlikely that he can avoid at least being interviewed by the special counsel's office. There have been reports now for weeks that lawyers have been negotiating the terms of that appearance, the format that it will take, perhaps the duration it will take, certainly the topics that will be covered, where it will be. All these sorts of things that prosecutors, particularly in this case when the interviewee is the president of the United States, that they'd need to negotiate.
But I think his comments that you just played really reflect the difference between smart public relations versus potential -- the lawyers and the work that they need to do in preparing a potential witness before appearing before investigators in a federal case.
CAMEROTA: Carrie, let me just stick with your expertise for just one second. Because we do know our reporting shows what Comey's team has given to President Trump's lawyers. Here's what they're looking, the possible topics that they're looking into.
The asking Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn. The reaction to Comey's testimony in front of Congress. And then outreach to intel leaders about the Russia investigation.
So, Carrie, does that point to you that they are more interested in obstruction than other things?
CORDERO: It does. Based on what you just described, it does sound like Special Counsel Bob Mueller's team is focusing at least their interview portion with the president on the obstruction-related issues.
Remember, so much of the discussion in the media has -- we have focused on the firing of FBI Director Comey. But there are a whole host of activities that the president engaged in. You mentioned, for example, calls that the president is reported to have made to members of the intelligence community, senior leaders. He also -- remember, it was reported that he called members of Congress to try to tamp down their investigation.
So there have been a lot of other things that he has done over the course of the last 11 to 12 months to try to influence or potentially derail the investigation.
AVLON: And if the focus is on obstruction of justice, it reaffirms another mantra from the Watergate hearings. It's not the crime; it's the cover-up.
CUOMO: Right. [06:15:05] AVLON: But we need to see if, indeed, these questions are
limited to these areas.
CUOMO: "Fight back" is not an operative legal doctrine when it comes to the president saying, "Well, fighting back, that's not obstruction." Of course it could be, Carrie. It depends on what you did and why you did it, even in his capacity, which is a much different, more difficult case for obstruction. But isn't that so?
CORDERO: Well, obviously, the most glaring thing he did is he fired the chief investigator.
CORDERO: Remember, this whole investigation was originally an FBI investigation. It didn't start under the special counsel's office. And so he did that.
But he also, he tweeted things that could be interpreted as trying to intimidate witnesses. He made different phone calls with respect to the Flynn investigation. He reportedly asked Director Comey, you know, "Can't you do something about it?" In other words, "Can't you shut it down?" So there is a range of activities that the special counsel's office legitimately can investigate with respect to potential obstruction.
CUOMO: To Carrie's point, it may work in front of the media. But you cannot say things that way in front of these investigators.
CAMEROTA: Carrie Cordero, John Avlon, stick around. We have many more questions. Hold that thought, Carrie.
CUOMO: Congressional Republicans calling for the release of a classified memo about the FBI surveillance practices. They won't show it to the Justice Department. The Justice Department warning them, "Don't release it if we haven't seen it." Who's right here? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you trust the FBI? Do you trust the FBI?
TRUMP: Well, we're going to see. I mean, I am very disturbed, as is the general, as is everybody else that is intelligent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now first, we just have to keep calling something out. The president has gone back on something and back and forth, and he never should have. OK?
You just heard him say, when asked if he trusts the FBI, "I don't know." Remember that. No matter what kind of cleanup they do and say, "Well, the FBI overall is great." But you just heard him asked, and that's what he said. He impugned the reputation of a key part of our democracy.
So right now, you have this memo that is up. And will it be released or not? That's the debate. The president also talking about Andrew McCabe and what he believes he said and didn't say when he was talking to him in the Oval Office.
CAMEROTA: Please don't forget the secret society.
CUOMO: So let's discuss. No, no. How could I? John Avlon and Carrie Cordero are here. Let's put the -- what the president should say and not say to the side, because we'd be here all morning.
The idea of the memo, that they want to release but they're not releasing it, even though the president has the most power on classification and Congress could do it themselves. But they won't show it to the DOJ either. What is going on here?
AVLON: They won't show it to the DOJ. They won't show it to the Senate Intel Committee either. And the DOJ spokesman yesterday said to release this to the press before we see it would be extraordinarily reckless.
CUOMO: DOJ run by Attorney General Sessions.
AVLON: The FBI run by --
CUOMO: Trump CIA, run by Mike Pompeo.
AVLON: So I think it shows that most importantly, that this is a partisan exercise to engage in a degree of deflection, to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation. Because it's not seriously focused on national security.
And I think, you know, the partisan nature of this undercuts its credibility. And that's the frame it needs to be under. And the larger dynamic you described is equally disturbing. Republicans always pride themselves as being pro-law and order, are buying into a president's narrative to question the credibility and independence of our law enforcement for personal and political reasons.
CAMEROTA: Listen, I think that this is part of a piece of also suggesting that there's this ominous mystery happening. There's this mysterious memo. What's in it? We can't see it, but we know there's something bad, I mean, if you believe Devin Nunes.
CUOMO: Tune in next time.
CAMEROTA: Tune in next time.
And there's also this secret society that Senator Ron Johnson introduced this week from one text message that was exchanged between these two FBI agents. Let me read it to you, Carrie, and you can tell me if you think that this is in jest or if this is something to be investigated.
So here's the text message between Page and Strzok. This is the day after the election. OK. And they had already expressed in text messages their disappointment that President Trump had won.
"Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society."
Now, in my experience, if you have a secret society, you don't refer to it as a secret society.
CUOMO: Like Fight Club? First rule of Fight Club, you don't talk about Fight Club.
CAMEROTA: Yes, that's right. But this is what, you know, some Republicans like Ron -- this is all they have. OK? This is all they know. But this is what has some worked up in a lather, thinking that there is a secret conspiracy and a secret society. What are your thoughts, Carrie?
CORDERO: Well, the DOJ inspector general is looking into whatever occurred between those two individuals. Obviously, they -- these were two individuals that were text messages, all these text messages were between two people that was not intended for public consumption. So you know, there will be an investigation regarding what the intent was. I don't think there's any reason to suspect that text messages between two individual people, even though it was inappropriate that they were having these messages or that they were doing them on their government devices, that is no reason to impugn or taint the over 13,000 FBI agents and many more thousands of support and the rest of the -- of the department.
But this is a longstanding approach by the president to attack the FBI. It predates -- his attack on the FBI and the Justice Department in particular goes way back to the campaign, and it predates this revelation of these messages between these two people. So this is a long-standing approach where the president thinks that the Justice Department is meant to be used for his own political purposes.
CUOMO: Right, right, right. The key fact that Carrie just mentioned we should remember. They didn't find these texts, Republicans. Yes. Carrie, you mentioned something people should know.
[06:25:07] An inspector general found them. This was done internally. There was accountability. And Mueller moved on Strzok, who was still part of the probe, and removed him -- John.
AVLON: And, look, I mean, first of all, humor doesn't always read in texts, and people should stay out of the fever swamps.
But also, let's not forget that, in the context of the election, in the immediate aftermath, there was a lot of concern and frustration that the FBI's actions and anti-Hillary Clinton effort had actually helped Donald Trump win. The release of the Comey memos, particularly the second letter. These things actually were -- the FBI, members who were conservative in many cases, working against Hillary Clinton's efforts.
The fact that now the FBI's independence is being called into question on the president -- on the part of the president who is resisting an attempt for investigation and oversight is itself a strange inversion of history in fact, in terms of responding to a short-term political problem.
CUOMO: They should investigate, of course, but they should know what they're talking about before they start waving around these accusations that make people doubt the legitimacy of this agency.
CAMEROTA: All right. Carrie Cordero, John Avlon, thank you both very much. Hold that thought. We do a lot of thought holding around here.
Now to policy. The president's position on DREAMers. It has changed again. What the president now says he wants to offer to the DREAMers. It's quite different than what we've heard before. That's next.