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Trump Supports Pathway to Citizenship; U.S.-backed Forces and Turkish-backed Rebels Clash; Rain in the Forecast; Efforts to Undermine FBI; Nassar Sentenced for Sex Crimes; MUS' President Resigns. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:10] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for dreamers?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to -- we're going to morph into it. It's going to happen at some point in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean? What you mean morph into it?

TRUMP: Over -- over a period -- over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they worked hard, it gives incentive to do a great job.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump now says he does support the dreamers. In fact, he supports a pathway to citizenship for some of them. But he wants something in exchange. The president wants $25 billion for his border wall and another five for additional border upgrades.

Let's ask CNN political analyst John Avlon and David Gregory about this.

David, what is your read on the changes by the president? You know, we assume that your compassion is more morality based in this situation, humanity based. But it just seems to be a point of leverage for him, whether or not, will you extend the time period? Well, maybe. Oh, well, you know, I don't want to -- he basically says without saying, well, I don't want to give up my leverage. They're not morality points for him, they are just, what, negotiating points?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know. I'm a little bit torn. I actually -- when I hear the president holding forth like that, I have a couple of thoughts, which is, you know, this can't be the guy who wants to destroy press freedom in the country because he just seems to love the banter with the press so much and people should remember that.

But I actually think this is where his head is at on immigration. The problem is he's so transactional about it. We don't know what it is he'll actually commit to. This sounds like the President Trump who said I -- you know, we're going to get a big deal here. We're going to do something significant and I'll take the heat.

Well, he's now getting the heat when he says some things like this about a pathway to citizenship. So I don't know if -- if he'll stick to it when other people like his chief of staff and other hardliners on the White House staff get to him.

The other piece of it is, I do think that the Democrats made a mistake. I don't think if you're Senator Schumer you can say, that's it, the deal's off. So when I offered all this money for the border wall, well, now we're going to go back and we're going to start again. You know, the president knows what the negotiating position was. I think Democrats are going to have to get back there. So maybe this is -- this is room for a real breakthrough.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But, John, how did the price go up to $25 million -- $25 billion. I thought we were talking about $18 billion. How does the price keep going up when the president said like we're going to actually do it more cheaply.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, as Everett Dirksen (ph) once said, a billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you're talking real money.

I think the question is, how much is border security, how much is the wall.


AVLON: The president, I wouldn't put too much stock in his off-the- cuff numbers because he'll come in way under anyway.

But, look, we know the president's not a conviction politician. He's not policy first. But I do think he was speaking authentically about his instincts, right? That wasn't grandstanding in front of an audience and it wasn't through the filter of administration hardliners like Steven Miller on immigration. So I think you do see the broad outlines of the grand bargain that is potential here. That there -- there's a way to create an incentive structure, to have dreamers, not only legal status, but citizenship over time. Big deal. Big concession. He's got to insist on funding at a pretty steep level for border security and the law. There's going to be a change to the diversity lottery and he specifically said with regard to family reunification, spouses, children, maybe not parents --

CAMEROTA: Nuclear family.

AVLON: Right. Nuclear family.

CAMEROTA: They talk about keeping the nuclear family together but not your great aunt.

AVLON: So that's the broad outline of a grand bargain on this issue. And that's why Lindsey Graham, sometime critic of the president, certainly of the hardliners, came out effusively in praise. Dick Durbin praised more moderate in tone. So I think if that reflects the president's real instincts and he follows through on them and doesn't allow himself to get big-footed, that's a positive thing for the country.

GREGORY: Can I just add --

CUOMO: Go ahead, David.

GREGORY: How I -- how significant I think it is. Just pure politics here. If he bested Democrats on the showdown and then can pull off this kind of a deal, that's a huge political win. If Donald Trump is the guy who could deliver something big on comprehensive immigration, and I've got to believe that -- I mean his concern and interest in winning would really lead him to want to take these steps, which goes to the point that John is making about his political instincts. I believe that's what they are too.

But here's the problem. I think this internisin (ph) fight in the GOP over immigration, which is, but the way, what caused it to fail back in 2006, 2007 when President Bush went back to it at the end of his second term, I think that's still the operative problem. It's not just conservative hardliners, like a Tom Cotton. It's not just media hardliners like a Breitbart. It's a Steven Miller. It's John Kelly. That's a bigger obstacle than negotiating with Democrats.

CUOMO: It is a rock and a hard place for the president because the reason, John, that you have 80 plus percent of the American people saying they want the dreamers to stay is no strings attached. They don't say if we get the border security or if this happens. This is a point of humanitarianism for them. This is a point of morality, what is right to do. And if he plays with it, as a dickering term, well, yes, I could extend the timeline for the program that I set arbitrarily, but I don't want to -- I don't want to show my hand because it's a negotiating ploy. I think that's a dangerous space for him to be in.

[06:35:13] AVLON: I just think, you know, the values you articulated for why many people support the dreamers, forwardness, humanity, morality, these are not the motivating principles of Donald Trump. He is a deal maker. That's how he sees himself. And he's got to give something back to his base given how big the wall and demonization of illegal immigration was in his campaign. So it -- given that context, if we can find a way to -- both sides are going to give a bit and we preserve the respect and humanity for the dreamers who have been here working hard and playing by the rules and giving a path to citizenship, you know, that's the way, however perfectly, however ugly the sausage gets made, that's a good day for American democracy at a time we haven't seen a lot of wins.

CUOMO: It will be a gift that the Democrats gave him because by not standing together when they had their leverage, now the ball is in his hands.

AVLON: That will be the circular firing (ph). GREGORY: But I actually think, Chris, I mean, I don't disagree with

that. But I think Democrats are going to have to give on the wall, however the wall gets defined, how much of that is border security, we'll see. I think there was too much leverage that he had on that issue for them not to give.

CUOMO: Their one point of leverage they blew, though. The one point of leverage they had was, you need us to get something through in the Senate.


CUOMO: And then they faded. And now he knows, we know what negotiating's about.


CUOMO: He knows what they'll offer, because they offered it once.

GREGORY: Right. Yes.

CUOMO: He knows that they'll fade, because they faded once. It just doesn't help their position.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, John Avlon, thank you very much.

We're going to dive into all of these issues with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and the Justice Department's spokesman, Sarah Isgur Flores, soon.

CUOMO: And much more tonight on primetime at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. What, I'm not sure, because we haven't figured it out yet.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic. I like the transparency.

CUOMO: I have to do this. See what happened here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, then we'll see. You know what, the 9 -- I'm sorry, 12 hours is an eternity in this news cycle.

CUOMO: It's true.

CAMEROTA: You have no idea what you'll be doing tonight.

CUOMO: It's true. Much work was undone last night in the hour before the show.

CAMEROTA: All right, there are escalating tensions between the U.S. and Tuckey as the NATO allies find themselves on opposite sides of a major battle inside Syria. We have a CNN exclusive for you, next.


[06:40:42] CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news right now. This is a CNN exclusive from inside Syria as U.S.-backed forces clash with Turkish-backed rebels. President Trump is urging Turkey's president to deescalate.

CNN's Arwa Damon is imbedded with the Turks. She joins us live from Azad, Syria.

What's happening, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this stage we've managed to come forward to basically what is one of the outer most (INAUDIBLE) by the Turkey-backed FSA, the rebel force that the Turks have been supporting throughout all of this.

Now, what Turkey is trying to do is push forward and allow these rebel forces to push forward and encircle the town, the city of Afren (ph). That is -- and you can hear artillery, mortar. I don't know if you can hear that actually right now. It's been fairly regular throughout all of this. You have Turkey firing artillery rockets, as well as carrying out air strikes. Turkey saying that they're being very careful to try to minimize civilian casualties.

And as you can see, the terrain out here at this stage at least pretty open, pretty widespread. A lot of olive groves. And, actually, within the rebel-controlled territory, you also have a lot of refugee camps. So a lot of concern about artillery that is being fired from the areas that are being controlled by the YPG.

Now, of course, a lot of this is adding to the already ongoing tension between Washington and Ankara because the YPG is the main fighting force that the U.S. has been supporting on the ground. They were instrumental in the battle against ISIS. But Turkey views them as being a terrorist organization, effectively one in the same as the PKK against -- and with whom Turkey has been at war for decades right now.

And you have a very difficult and very volatile situation at this stage. Not just because it's potentially pitting two NATO allies against each other, Chris, but because of the sheer reality of the fact that this is yet another player becoming even more involved, even more entrenched in the ongoing fight in Syria.

CUOMO: It was expected, but it only makes everything more complicated.

Arwa Damon, please, you and the team stay safe. Thank you for doing what you do best.

Breaking news. A manhunt underway in Adams County, Colorado, about 50 miles east of Denver. Two suspects, they're looking for because of the shooting death of a sheriff's deputy. A third suspect is in custody. A sheriff's spokeswoman says the fallen deputy was shot in the chest as he responded to a call about an assault. People who live in the area are being told, stay inside, stay away from doors and windows. This is an active search in your area.

CAMEROTA: People along the Gulf Coast and the southeastern U.S. prepare to get soaked. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

Hi, Chad.


We will see some beneficial rain for the southeast. It's been a cold and dry rainy season here in the south.

This weather is brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, packed with goodness.

It is time the get up and at 'em today. It will be the coldest day for the Northeast for the rest of the week. The cold air moves away. Mild air moves in. That's the same mild air that will drag moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and pour down rain all the way from Louisiana across parts of Florida. Much needed rainfall here for the farmers and for the reservoirs for sure.

Temperatures are going to be mild. We're in the 50s and 60s down here. And even in New York, Boston, D.C., warming up. This is the coldest day of the rest of the week. We get all the way to 52 on Saturday with sunshine in New York.


CUOMO: Good news. I'll take it.


CUOMO: Chad Myers. Thank you very much, pal.

The Justice Department is warning a House Intel Chairman not to release a memo alleging surveillance abuses without a review. How is the intel community responding? More on that, next.


[06:46:43] CUOMO: This is worth keeping an eye on. The Justice Department is warning the chair of the House Intel Committee it would be, quote, reckless is release a classified memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. This is coming as some GOP lawmakers, including Senator Ron Johnson, are openly speculate about an anti-Trump secret society in the FBI. Take a listen.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I have heard that there was a group of managers within the FBI that were holding meetings off site. That's all -- that's all I know. And, again, all I said was, when Strzok and Page described -- you know, as they described the secret society, it surprised me because I had, you know, I guess corroborating information potentially. Just potentially. Again, all I'm saying is, there's a lot of smoke out there.


CUOMO: Senator Ron Johnson is invited on the show whenever he wants to have this discussion. We've had him on many times. That is not how he came across the first time. He was in high dudgeon. He was in near panic about this secret society that had been exposed. And the bottom line is, they just don't have the proof at this time.

Joining us now is CNN national security analyst, retired General Michael Hayden.

Sir, let me just ask you, at the onset, in your experience, do you believe that you have ever had a reasonable basis for thinking that there was some shadow organization within the FBI that was somehow in control of its efforts?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. Totally inconsistent, Chris, with my life experience.

And I know Senator Johnson. I've had really good dialogue with him, in and out of government. A serious man. And your point, I think it's very well taken, he knew he had to walk back what he had said two days ago and that -- that comment yesterday was much milder than what he had said. So I think he's trying to climb back a bit off the ledge that he has created for himself.

But, Chris, your overall point is very important. These are critical institutions for American liberty and security, CIA, FBI. And some people on The Hill seem to be casually willing to harm and defame them. Institutions on which we're going to have to rely far into the future.

CUOMO: And, look, they're flawed. All these institutions are. There's specific instances. There are reasons to ask, where are these missing texts.

But the -- what also is going on here is political posturing. I mean if you switch the r's and the d's here in terms of what they're fighting for and what they're fighting against, it's just the complete opposition of what we're dealing with in the Russia investigation.

Ron Johnson, who has never been favorably impressed by anything he's heard about what's being investigated of Russian interference in terms of whether or not anybody from the Trump administration was involved in it, but now he's willing to grab on and seize to one confidential informant that he hasn't talked to himself. You know, and these text messages between lovers that were find by an inspector general and moved on by the special counsel. He removed Strzok, right? And these just questions they have but they're stating them as conclusions.

Where does this lead us?

HAYDEN: Well, a couple of observations. One, you just made I think is very important, that the internal institutions of the bureau are actually working in order to keep the bureau on the right path.

CUOMO: Right.

[06:50:06] HAYDEN: And Bob Mueller fired these folks at the first sign that they may not be the kind of individuals he wants on the investigation.

With regard to r's and d's, Chris, I've lived an experience where it has indeed been reversed. And I was routinely attacked, my agencies, routinely attacked by Democrats for its surveillance activities. I get that. We live in a political environment. But I've got to add, I don't remember it being this vile and this conspiratorial, even when I was being attacked by the Democrats. And I fear what we have here is the circle tightens around the administration for this investigation, people are overreacting. Reacting in a way that's indifferent to the collateral damage that they're creating.

CUOMO: The missing texts smells bad. It just does. Smells bad, especially because of the period involved. And I don't dispute that open question, is that the months that are missing overlap with the beginning of the investigation and you'd want to see that. You want to see, what were in the heads of these people at that time.

But they're ignoring the fact that the agency says, this is one in ten of their phones this happened to. Now, Samsung reportedly says they don't think they were the cause of this. Do you believe that there's something curious about these missing texts?

HAYDEN: Oh, it's curious enough to take a real close look at it. But, again, as you already point out, Chris, I mean it wasn't just these two account, it was a significant fraction of the bureau accounts where it appears as if the software was mal loaded or misused overall rather than by these two individuals.

And you know who I turn to in this one is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr, who just said on its face, I believe the bureau. They had a technical problem.

CUOMO: Right. Until you have proof of something else or an inadequate reply of their own rationale.

HAYDEN: Right.

CUOMO: Now, when we know more about what's in this memo, and whether it's going to come out or not, please come back on the show and give us some guidance because, obviously, you'll understand the issues better than any. We just don't know what the right questions are yet.

So, thank you, sir, for being with us.

HAYDEN: All right.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, now to the Larry Nassar sentencing. The fallout from the sexual assault case of Larry Nassar was almost immediate. Michigan State University's president resigned yesterday over the school's handling of the Nassar case. More than 150 women gave victim impact statements. Then the judge punctuated the sentence by telling Nassar, I just signed your death warrant.

CNN's Jean Casarez is live in East Lancing, Michigan.

What a day yesterday, Jean. JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, what a day, what a week and a

half, as survivors went up to the microphone in that courtroom and told their stories one by one. They also set out a timeline. So many of them reported this to authorities and nothing was ever done. Now they want answers.


AKEMI LOOK, LARRY NASSAR VICTIM: This is way bigger than him. This is about the institutions that protected him. Everyone in the world should be outraged right now. And if you aren't, you should examine why.

CASAREZ (voice over): The victims of disgraced former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar demanding answers, calling for accountability from the institutions that employed him for decades, despite years of sexual abuse complaints.

LINDSAY LENKE, LARRY NASSAR VICTIM: We're not going to heal all the way until we know exactly who knew what when and, you know, how they're going to fix it.

CASAREZ: The president of Michigan State University, where Nassar worked nearly 20 years, stepping down Wednesday, saying in a statement, as tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. Simon's resignation coming hours after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA, INGHAM COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: It is my honor and privilege to sentence you because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.

I've just signed your death warrant.

CASAREZ: Before the sentencing, Nassar apologizing to his victims.

LARRY NASSAR, FORMER USA GYMNASTICS DOCTOR: Your words these past several days, your words, your words, have had a significant emotional effect on myself and has shaken me to my core.

CASAREZ: Judge Aquilina juxtaposing Nassar's words with the letter he recently sent the court accusing the victims of lying.

AQUILINA: They are seeking the media attention and financial reward.

If you still think that somehow you are right, that you are a doctor, that you're entitled, that you don't have to listen, and that you did treatment, I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir.

CASAREZ: The sentencing marking the end of an extraordinary seven days of testimony from more than 150 of Nassar's victims that concluded with Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse in 2016.

[06:55:12] RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER, LARRY NASSAR VICTIM: Larry sought out and took pleasure in little girls and women being sexually injured and violated because he liked it.

AQUILINA: You are the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom.


AQUILINA: Thank you.


CASAREZ: Judge Aquilina put into the court record yesterday during sentencing that if it was not for investigative journalism, Larry Nassar would still be practicing medicine here and still assaulting young children and young girls. That, she said, was pivotal to this case, those journalists.


CAMEROTA: Jean, there were so many powerful moments yesterday. She certainly made her point, the judge, in many different ways.

Thank you so much for all of the reporting all week.

Joining us now is Sterling Riethman, she's a former intercollegiate diver. She was one of the last survivors to speak at Nassar's sentencing.

Sterling, good morning.


CAMEROTA: Sterling, what did you think when you heard the judge say that Larry Nassar -- she was sentencing Larry Nassar to 175 years in prison, and she said, I've just signed your death warrant?

RIETHMAN: Yes, it was a very powerful moment in court, that's for sure. You know, the whole morning was very challenging. All week was very challenging and very emotional. But I have so much respect for Judge Aquilina and we are so grateful for her and her words and her acknowledgment of what we've been through.

CAMEROTA: You know, I know that victims don't like the word closure, but I'm wondering if at that moment, when she sentenced him, if you felt some relief, if you felt some end to a chapter or what your -- what your emotion was.

RIETHMAN: I did. I did feel some relief. You know, it's a very surreal moment being there. We've been working very hard at the very -- a very long time to reach this point. So it's a -- it's a very surreal moment.

But I think it's a very -- it was a great first step in the healing process. It was a great sense of closure for that moment to see him spending the rest of his life in jail. And we still have a lot of work to do, but that was a great moment for sure.

CAMEROTA: And how about the moment where she took the time to read Larry Nassar's letter to her. This was him basically pleaing for a -- pleading for a shorter sentence and kind of making his case. But she read his words. Let me read a portion of that to everyone.

OK, so these are Larry Nassar's words. Those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised me and came back over and over. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel that I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

What did you think when she read those words?

RIETHMAN: I was actually very grateful that she read those words. Just before that, he had turned around and made what we consider to be a very hollow apology. And I think she recognized that that was just his attempt to continue to manipulate us and to continue to try and hold power over us. And I think she -- she knew that we needed to have that moment of clarity, that that's -- that's not the real him. He is still very much so a very sick man who does not understand that what he did is very wrong. And he damaged a lot of lives. And I think she -- she knew that we needed to have that moment of clarity that he does not have control over us anymore.

CAMEROTA: MSU's president resigned last night. What did you think?

RIETHMAN: So much has happened in the past week, in the past 24 hours. You know, we've -- we've been asking for a lot of accountability, a lot of change across several institutions and at very high levels. And seeing her resignation, you know, I'm grateful for her acknowledgment of what we've been through and I'm hopeful that this is the first step towards lots of positive changes.

CAMEROTA: And, very quickly, now that it's over, what's next for you?

RIETHMAN: The work continues. You know, it doesn't -- we need to make sure that this never happens again. We need to put processes in place that makes sure we have accountability, that makes sure we're protecting young children for tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Sterling Riethman, thank you very much for being with us and sharing your thoughts on this incredible week that we've all watched around the country and around the world. Best of luck to you in the future.

RIETHMAN: Thank you so much.

[07:00:00] CAMEROTA: Thanks to all of our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to him about it?