Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Trump Says He's Willing to Speak Under Oath to Mueller; Justice Department: 'Reckless' to Release Nunes memo Without Review. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[07:00:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to him?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't look forward to a circumstance like that even if I had a good story to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does not really have a choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller holds, really, all of the leverage here.

TRUMP: There's no collusion. Now they are saying, "Oh, well, did he fight back? If you fight back, oh, it's obstruction."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can try to divert by saying there's no collusion, but the team will not let that happen.

TRUMP: 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: This is all very dicey. Any kind of amnesty is controversial with a lot of conservatives.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The president says one thing today, another thing tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I was a DREAMer, I would only believe it once the ink was dry on a bill.

This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump arriving in Switzerland to taught his America first policies. The trick comes after a revealing and impromptu Q&A at the White House. The president took on a number of issues and said he's looking forward to being questioned under oath by Special Counsel Bob Mueller if his lawyers agree to it. CNN has learned Mueller's team has given the president's lawyers

possible topics for him.

CAMEROTA: President Trump also commenting on his feud with the FBI. He says he is very disturbed when he was asked if he trusts the FBI.

And he added another twist to the immigration debate. He now says he is willing to offer a pathway to citizenship for some of the DREAMers but only if he gets billions of dollars for his border wall and border security.

So we have all the developments covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's live in Davos traveling with the president.

Hi, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

President Trump had a bird's-eye view of the snowy Swiss Alps as he arrived here in Davos just a short time ago. And he's going to be meeting with world leaders here, making his first appearance, indeed the first appearance from a U.S. president in nearly 20 years.

But all the president's words here likely to be overshadowed by his words last night at the White House on the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump touching down in Switzerland this morning for the World Economic Form in Davis, 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: 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. We're going to find out. Because here's what we'll say. 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.

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?

[07:05:03] 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, that promise of citizenship, even in 10 or 12 years, sparking immediate outrage and backlash from the conservative website Breitbart, which suddenly called the president "Amnesty Don," referring to his immigration view.

Of course, this will all be front and center as Republicans and Democrats try and get together on some type of a deal on DREAMers.

Now, this is all coming as the president is scheduled to meet in a couple hours with British Prime Minister Theresa May, as well as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu here.

Of course, this is not necessarily President Trump's crowd. It's a crowd of globalists here. He brought a cheering section, if you will, with him. Seven cabinet secretaries and almost eight or nine senior advisers flying over here. So a lot of Trump administration presence here at Davos as he begins this meeting shortly -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, Jeff, appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin. Now, Zeldin is a real gift to you guys this morning. He worked with Bob Mueller. He is an expert in money laundering and cases of this nature. So it's great to have you both here.

Michael, let me seize on something that was really instructive for people in this gaggle from the president. He said a couple of things that really shine a light on what might happen if he sits down with the investigators. And I want your take on it.

First, he said it's not obstruction when you're just fighting back. OK. That's one thing, he said. Then he said this about Andrew McCabe. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask McCabe who he voted for?

TRUMP: I don't think so. No. No, I don't think so I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't?

TRUMP: I don't think what's the big deal with that, because I would ask you who you -- who did you vote for? I don't think it's a big deal, but I don't remember that. I saw that this morning. I don't remember asking him that question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?

TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question. I think it's also a very unimportant question, but I don't remember asking him the question.

(END VIDEOTAPE) Michael, please tell me if I'm wrong. Boy, this seems like Exhibit A of why the lawyers are reticent to put him in there. What could happen if he is sitting across from federal agents and says, "Fighting back is not obstruction. I was just fighting back."

And if he gives that answer about Andrew McCabe, and the White House has already said he did ask him that question, Andrew McCabe said he did ask him that question and he follows up by saying it's not an important question, what could that mean to investigators?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So there's so much that got compressed into what happened yesterday at that impromptu press conference.

Firstly, of course, Ty Cobb has to be pulling his hair out, because this is not the way you want to go into a negotiation with Robert Mueller around the terms of your interview.

Second, of course, it is exhibit a about the problems that they're going to have in controlling the president in a restricted interview with Mueller, because he does not tell the truth all the time. Or he has convenient lapses of memory. With respect to the two other things. One, McCabe. Of course it is an inappropriate comment. He is a federal employee and he can't ask another federal employee how he he voted. There are regulations about it.

But second, he's the acting director of the FBI. He just fired the former FBI director who said, "I was asked for loyalty." This is, you know, sort of back door loyalty question in and of itself. So the pattern of inappropriate communications between the White House and the FBI, in an ongoing investigation context, is manifest in that exchange.

Finally, the last thing, Chris, is this fighting back thing. The fighting back thing may be the beginnings of what we see as a legal strategy out of the White House, which is to say this. The crime of obstruction of justice is a crime of intent: "Did you intend by your action to obstruct justice or attempt to obstruct justice?"

So he could say, "Yes, I did that, but my intent wasn't to obstruct justice. My intent was to protect the office of the presidency, to protect my good name, to protect whatever it is that is of value to me. And that's why Mueller wants to sit down in person to make judgment calls about whether or not when the president said I didn't intend to obstruct justice." Mueller can credit it or discredit it.

[07:10:05] CAMEROTA: David, before I let you answer there, this is what CNN's reporting says that Mueller is particularly zeroing in on. These are what the topics are that Mueller has given to President Trump's lawyers. OK.

So they want to know and ask him about asking Comey to drop the Michael Flynn investigation is, of course. I guess, what the motivation there was. The reaction to Jim Comey's testimony in front of Congress. And then the outreach that the president had made to intel leaders, as well as some members of Congress, about the Russia investigation.

So to Michael's point, there's a lot of runway there where the president, if he's not disciplined and on on message, you know, obviously for the lawyers that would be a headache.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. There are accusations, and there's a a pattern based on his statements, his own statements that the presses had made that he was trying to interfere with this Russia investigation and wanted it to be shut down. He said that he was tired of how Comey was handling this investigation. He said that in an interview, and then proceeds to fire Comey.

He says, you know, for cause because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton investigation, which nobody believes because of how he was handling the investigation. And let's also remember when he's talking to Andrew McCabe and said I don't recall asking the question but it is important. There's a reason why the FBI director has a 10-year term so that the FBI director can be immune from political pressure, that it should be an independent institution of our government as part of the Justice Department and the president has shown that he doesn't respect that.

So you're going to see how that would play out and whether that was actually illegal. There's something else that I want to underline from this impromptu press conference.

Every time the president is asked about his confidence in the FBI or his confidence in the fairness of this investigation, what does he say, as Chris pointed out, "I don't know," whether he has confidence in the FBI, which is such a horrible thing for the president to say about the FBI without a basis.

Two, he says, "We'll see. We'll find out." In other words, the process is already under way of bashing this investigation, Mueller and the FBI, because if they come back with something against him or people close to him, he will seek to delegitimize the entire investigation. That's already underway with his base. But he's signaling that's exactly what he'll do.

CUOMO: Michael Zeldin, and again, it's OK to say they were wrong about that. Last night we were talking about what this negotiation could be about between Trump's attorneys and the Russian interference investigators. And it seems to me that topics, they're not going to have a lot of leeway. Under oath doesn't matter. They're going to be sitting with a federal agent. Whether or not it's in front of the grand jury may come up.

Bu it seems like it's going to be all about duration and that the investigators are going to want a lot of time, because they have to know this president filibusters. He spins. He talks for a long time. And they're going to want to come at him different ways to he get him to say things like he said in this gaggle.

ZELDIN: Well, the timing of the interview and the length of time and the scope of the interview are questions that Ty Cobb and Robert Mueller's team are going to try to negotiate.

But having taken a deposition of George Herbert Walker Bush in our independent counsel investigation, I know that we said to them we're going to ask our first question and then we're going to ask our last question. And if we need to do it over a two-day period or a three- day period, that's just the way it's going to be.

You cannot shortcut, if you will, the amount of time or truncate the amount of time that we get with you. We're going to take as much time as we need.

Otherwise, we have to go into the grand jury and do it there without your lawyers present, and we'll do it under terms that we want. And so in the sense, Chris, I don't believe he has any, you know, sort of discretion or opportunity to filibuster this, because Mueller won't tolerate it. He can't tolerate it.

CAMEROTA: Hey, David, I want to switch topics, and let's talk about immigration, because there was a big development. And, you know, we have been asking on our show any lawmaker -- yes. Turn that off. Who's trying to call you right now?

CUOMO: Is it the president?

GREGORY: It's my wife.

CUOMO: Well, you should take that call. Because she's an expert on these issues. Just let her answer.

CAMEROTA: She's probably correcting something that you said earlier.

CUOMO: How about that ringtone?

GREGORY: I know, I know.

CUOMO: Was that, like, from a soap opera soundtrack or something?

CAMEROTA: Chris will take any opportunity to say that you don't have a manly enough ringtone.

CUOMO: That's another violation of man law, the ringtone. Michael Zeldin knows.

ZELDIN: The thing -- the thing of it was I was going to continue talking, but I thought it was, like, the Academy Awards music and they were saying, "Get off the set." CUOMO: It is disturbing on several levels.

CAMEROTA: David.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about immigration. Because my point was that we've been asking all sorts of lawmakers, do you know what the president's position is on the DREAMers? And none of them have been able to answer it, because it's a moving target.

[07:15:11] So yesterday he said something that was remarkable, and that was that he's open to a path to citizenship. So not just legalization, a path to citizenship for the DREAMers. Now, who knows where they'll end up? But that was a big deal.

GREGORY: It was a big deal. The obvious question is, is that today's position and will it change? This was the same president who said a couple of weeks ago that he wanted a big comprehensive deal and that he'd take the heat from conservatives, only to see him not take the heat and not follow through when those negotiations broke down as part of the government shutdown.

Now we're outside of that. He certainly feels that he bested Democrats on negotiations over the government shutdown. Now he's signaling the basis of what could be a big comprehensive deal. A deal on DREAMers to get a pathway to citizenship in exchange for what he wants, which is more funding for a wall and border security.

Now, it's interesting. The figures that are being floated that may not matter in the end. He's talking about $25 billion for a wall, which is the figure that reportedly Schumer offered to support the Democrats would support. I think there's a potential for a deal. The big question is whether he really can and will fend off opposition from conservatives and even hardliners within his administration.

CAMEROTA: All right. We've already seen the the Breitbart headline. They don't like it.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: They don't like that he said that. Today we'll see if he backpedals on that.

CUOMO: It's all about who he wants to please. Eighty percent of American people see this as a point of compassion, not just by some calibration of a negotiation.

Michael Zeldin, David Gregory, for the record, I am jealous not just of your intellect but also your personal style. Elan, if you will.

GREGORY: But you're not using my ringtone?

CUOMO: No.

CAMEROTA: No, he has standards. CUOMO: My phone rings, it says, "Who is it? Who is it?"

All right. The Justice Department warning a Republican chairman against releasing a memo that claims to show surveillance abuses. Will it be declassified? A congressman who have seen the memo joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:21:06] CUOMO: The Justice Department warning House Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes that it would be extraordinarily reckless to release a memo that contains sensitive information that claims to show surveillance power abuses, especially without showing it to them first, which Nunes is refusing to do.

Now Democrats on that same committee are countering with their own memo, saying that the GOP memo has misleading findings.

Joining us is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.

CUOMO: Boy, is this a sad state of affairs about our politics. You have members of the same committee dividing along party lines and having competing memos. What do you think is going to happen here with the much-hyped memo and now the response memo? Is it going to come out? Will we get to judge?

NADLER: Well, it shouldn't come out. Because I mean, I've read it, and I've read the underlying source material. It is profoundly misleading.

CUOMO: But you read it, and you weren't concerned about -- you don't have further questions about the FISA process?

NADLER: No. No, I don't think -- I can't comment, actually. It's secret. It's secret.

CUOMO: Too late. Continue.

NADLER: Suffice it to say, the document is extremely misleading as compared to the underlying documents. It is very dangerous for the Republicans here to say, "Oh, we've got this document that's terrible, but we can't tell you what's behind you. We can't show you the evidence, because that's secret. If you only knew what we knew, you'd know things are terrible."

CUOMO: What do you think about the decision not to show it to the Department of Justice? Their rationale is you don't show the people you're investigating the basis for your investigation.

NADLER: Well, No. 1, why are they investigating the Department of Justice? There's an inspector general for that. But No. 2, the Department of Justice is the agency which determines --

which got all of these secret documents and information. And you really should -- you're playing with the national security of the United States, if you're going to on release documents based on classified information without at least showing and hearing from the department why it's dangerous or what you can release and what you can't.

I mean, the Department of Justice is not claiming the right to stop it from releasing. But they're saying at least show it to us and let us tell you what's dangerous and what's not.

CUOMO: Lisa Page, who was a member of the investigation for a while, remember, the FBI. She left the investigation before these revelations. She was romantically involved with Matt Strzok, who was involved, who is involved with the investigation. Peter Strzok who was...

NADLER: He was involved. He was removed.

CUOMO: Right. He was removed when these texts came out by Bob Mueller after the I.G. brought them out. But in one of the exchanges, she says, "Maybe it's time to have the first meeting of our secret organization," whatever she calls it. And the Republicans seized on that to say it is, in fact, proof that a shadow organization exists within the FBI to undermine justice.

NADLER: Well, that's ridiculous. First of all, she and Strzok were sending e-mails back and forth with their personal opinions. And the opinions they were stating in those e-mails were the same opinions that the majority of American people. They didn't like Trump; they didn't trust him or whatever. And they're entitled to those opinions. It doesn't show the biased investigation.

CUOMO: That's the proof that we need. Those are the questions that have to be asked.

NADLER: No, the question you have to ask is, is the investigation biased, not whether the personal opinions of some people who work on the investigation.

CUOMO: How do you get that answer?

NADLER: Well, you look at the investigation. You see the evidence that's brought out.

CUOMO: But do you think you need a committee? Should it be taken up by an existing committee? Do you need a special counsel? How do you figure that out?

NADLER: First of all, I think you wait for the investigation to be concluded, because there's no evidence right now. Right now, all we know about this investigation really, because commendably, there have been no leaks. We know that two people have been indicted. We know that two people have been -- have pleaded guilty. We know the names of some of the witnesses, and that's all we know. [07:25:05] And the Republicans are trying to say, "Hey, we know some

of the personal opinions of some of the people who work on the investigation," but you can't conclude anything from that. Because people are entitled to their personal opinions. There may be lots of Trump supporters working on this, for all we know. It doesn't matter.

CUOMO: That's what Hillary Clinton said. I remember you and others complaining back then, during the e-mail investigation, that you know, these people -- there's personal and political bias here, as well.

NADLER: There could. But you have to show bias on the investigation, not opinions by people who work on the investigation.

CUOMO: The president came out yesterday and said something that certainly upset a lot of people in his own party. He believes there is a pathway to citizenship for certain DREAMers to be negotiated here.

Do you believe that that is what he believes? Do you believe that he will stick by that?

NADLER: Well, I don't know, since he seems to change from day to day. He goes back and forth. I hope he believes that. Eight-seven to 90 percent of the American people believe that these youngster -- young people who were brought here as little kids and have grown up here, know no other country, ought to be able to stay here and ought to become citizens eventually.

That's the overwhelming opinion of the American people. And it's the humanitarian thing. Because these kids did grow up here. They don't know another country. And they're American kids, for all practical purposes, except in terms of the piece of paper that they don't have.

So yes, I hope he believes that, and I hope he'll do it. And we ought to do it, because he says he supports that. The Republicans, many of them say they support it. The Democrats support it. The American people support it. We ought to get that done and then debate all the other immigration issues, which are...

CUOMO: They say no way. They say all of those things must be included in the bill that deals with the DREAMers, so we'll see what happens with it.

Congressman Nadler, thank you for your perspective on the show, as always.

NADLER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So the mandate of the special series at 9 p.m. at night is "facts first." So what are the facts underlying these Republican suspicions about these text messages and the FBI, and the FBI investigation overall. We'll take it on -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. As you were just talking about, President Trump says he's willing to give some DREAMers this pathway to citizenship. So are Republicans in the House open to that idea? We ask one of them next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)