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Trump Undermines FBI; GOP Leaders Attack FBI; Nassar Sentenced for Sex Crimes; Journalist Broke Nassar Story. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:32:53] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump again undermining the FBI, saying this to reporters before he left the White House yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you trust the FBI? Do you trust the FBI?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Good morning, senator.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: You're intelligent. Are you very disturbed by what you're seeing at the FBI?

HIRONO: I'm very disturbed by the president and his minions, particularly in the House. Apparently there's no institution that they won't attack to protect their lying president. And the FBI, by the way, is the agency that protects the people of America from home grown terrorists and other bad actors. So going after the FBI to protect the president is, in my view, reckless and unconscionable.

CAMEROTA: And follow that line for me. What is reckless about the president planting the seed that the FBI is not to be trusted?

HIRONO: Because it is the FBI that we all rely upon. You know, I sat on the Intelligence Committee for two years. I serve on the Armed Services Committee. We know the important work that the FBI does to keep track of potential home-grown terrorists. And, by the way, there has been over ten shooting, domestic shootings, since just this year. And so the FBI keeps track of all those kinds of activities. And there are terrible things that happen. And they are there to protect our country.

And for the president, for his own purposes, and for the people who support the president, for their own purposes, to go after an agency that is there to protect the citizens of the United States is unconscionable.

CAMEROTA: Just to clarify something you said, I think it's 11 school shootings since the beginning of the year.

HIRONO: Yes, school shootings.

CAMEROTA: School shootings.

HIRONO: That's right.

CAMEROTA: I mean --

HIRONO: That's terrible. There was just one two days ago in Kentucky.

CAMEROTA: I know. Deadly.

HIRONO: It's horrible.

CAMEROTA: I know.

So, look, you are very familiar that there were these two FBI employees, a lawyer and an investigator, they were exchanging text messages. They were not fans of the president -- of President Trump. And after he was elected, they expressed their disappointment.

[08:35:03] So, now, Senator Ron Johnson says that he sees in one of these text messages something very concerning, very ominous, that there might be a secret society in the FBI. Let me read to you the text message on which he's hanging his hat. Here is the text message. This is from the FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, to FBI agent, Peter Strzok. This is the day after Donald Trump was elected.

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.

Do you see -- hear that in an ominous way?

HIRONO: Are you asking me, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean what do you see in that text message?

HIRONO: Nothing much. And so in an effort to divert everybody's attention, they hope from the real threat of Russian continuing interference with our elections, and they have every intention of continuing that and any conspiracy on the part of -- collusion on the part of the Trump team to do that. But I think, more importantly, there's this all-out effort to denigrate the Mueller investigation, to divert attention from the investigation. So with these kinds of off- the-wall, in my view, off the wall kinds of allegations by Ron Johnson. And I believe that he's already walked it back because there's nothing to this in this e-mail.

CAMEROTA: Well, a little bit, senator. I mean a little bit. Basically what Ron Johnson has said is, you know, that wasn't my word -- those weren't my words. In fact, let me just play his own words. I won't paraphrase him. Here is Ron Johnson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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. So now -- and, again, all I said was when Strzok and Page described -- you know, as they described it, a 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: There's a lot of smoke out there that he's fanning. I mean this is the problem, is that he's saying, you know, I've heard these things. These are hearsay. He's saying that he has an informant. He's not explaining more about that. And so, you know, there seemed to be, on the Republican side, major colleagues who are more than fanning these flames. I mean suggesting that something is very amiss at the FBI.

HIRONO: Particularly on the House side. Let's face it, on the House side there is a very concerted effort by the House members to go after the FBI and to cast --

CAMEROTA: Meaning what? What do you mean, this secret -- the mystery memo?

HIRONO: Whatever it is. Yes, there's the mystery memo. If these people have something more substantive than hearsay and what they heard, let them come forward. In the meantime -- in the meantime, there is fire where the Mueller investigation is leading. And that's what we ought to be focused on because do we not care that there's a foreign country that is trying screw with our elections? We care.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HIRONO: At least I think most of us care except the president.

CAMEROTA: But what fire do you see there?

HIRONO: The fact that, you know, all our intel agencies have said that Russia tried to interfere with our elections. And we know that there's all kinds of evidence that the president is trying to interfere, obstruct this investigation. So I would say that the obstruction claims against the president can be substantiated and we need to let the Mueller investigation proceed.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, let me ask you what the president -- about what the president said yesterday. He said that he -- it sounded like he favors a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers. Were you surprised by that position?

HIRONO: Well, that's great. That's today. In the meantime, I would like the Senate to be the Senate and do what we need to do. My hope is that before February 8th that we will come to an agreement on long- term protections for the dreamers and their parents. And I realize that we need to talk about strengthening border security. I'm open to that. And, yes, part of the long-term protection of dreamers is to provide a path to citizenship. So I'm glad the president is doing that.

CAMEROTA: And are you willing to pay -- you're glad that he's come around to that position. I understand. But are you will to pay $25 billion --

HIRONO: That's today.

CAMEROTA: If the price tag for citizenship is $25 billion for the border wall, et cetera, are you willing to go there?

HIRONO: When I was at the meeting at the White House on Tuesday, I specifically asked the president, what about the $18 billion you want for a wall. And he said, oh, we can do it for far less. So today he's talking about $23 million or billion or whatever it is.

So I know that border security is going to be on the table. Whether it's a wall or whatever it is, we will talk about border security. At the same time, we need to move forward and keep our attention very focused on the urgency of addressing the DACA/dreamer situation. And that's what we ought to be proceeding toward. And I hope we can get it done by February 8th. And I hope that we're not going to open up the debate to everything else because -- in immigration sense we should have comprehensive immigration reform, which on Tuesday the president said he would like us to do in phase two.

[08:40:05] CAMEROTA: I do -- I do remember that as well.

Senator --

HIRONO: Well, the whole country remembers that because he said that on camera.

CAMEROTA: That's right. We do have the luxury of videotape to replay it.

Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

HIRONO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: We now know the answer to one of the biggest questions in politics. Will Oprah Winfrey run for president? The answer, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: The president doing a press avail here in Davos. The secretary of state right behind him. Let's listen in.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to hear waving. He did just say something to reporters, but we will rerack that.

CUOMO: He says it's good to be here.

CAMEROTA: America is doing great.

CUOMO: And that it's great to be here. Might have said something else --

CAMEROTA: Happy to be here.

[08:45:01] CUOMO: But Alisyn was talking.

CAMEROTA: He said happy -- happy to be here.

CUOMO: And there he is.

Look, this is going to be a comfort zone for the president. It's also going to be somewhat of a first. We haven't had a U.S. president in the -- at the World Economic Forum in Davos in quite some time. He knows a lot of the financial players who are there. He counts some of them as friends. He came with his economic adviser, his secretary of state. Did not come with his chief of staff. That was a point of controversy. We're now told that General John Kelly stayed behind not as a function of acrimony, but to work on the immigration deal.

CAMEROTA: He's going to be meeting with the British prime minister shortly. We will bring you all of the developments from Davos.

Meanwhile, we have major breaking news.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Oprah Winfrey has finally addressed the rumors about her possible presidential run in 2020. As you all know, there's been a lot of speculation and talk and excitement from Oprah followers that the talk show legend would throw her hat into the ring after a rousing and empowering speech at the Golden Globe Awards.

So, there's been --

CUOMO: Hyped by a lot of people in the media who believed that it was going to happen.

CAMEROTA: Well, it would be a fun race with a car for everyone, arguably. Now there's this new interview with "In Style" magazine and Oprah tells everyone, quote, I've always felt very secure and confident with myself -- we knew that -- in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it is not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it.

I hear Oprah followers, hearts breaking around the world right now.

CUOMO: Now, Camerota and I have an ongoing series of bets about things that are right and not wrong. And I have --

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE) not wrong. CUOMO: An almost embarrassing success ratio.

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: However, few have given me the pleasure that this is does. And I'll tell you one of the reasons that it is such a blessing to sit next to Alisyn. You have something --

CAMEROTA: Go on.

CUOMO: That is of great value in life and on TV.

CAMEROTA: Certainty.

CUOMO: No memory of when she's wrong. No memory.

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: And is unaffected by any knowledge that she actually did say.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure I actually said this (ph).

CUOMO: She said, she will run. We have it digitized. You said she will run. I said she will not. Our wager was a hena tattoo of the name of the winner on the forehead of the loser.

CAMEROTA: No recollection of this. No recollection of this. All right.

CUOMO: Says the president. You don't think that that's what you said?

CAMEROTA: I don't think I said that.

CUOMO: And if you did say it --

CAMEROTA: If it did, it wouldn't have been a problem. I would not have a problem with that.

If I come in tomorrow with a CC on my forehead, you know what happened.

CUOMO: And if I'm not here, you know that I tried to make that happen and I got the jersey.

CAMEROTA: It didn't go well.

CUOMO: All right, judge throws the book at disgraced former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar, and with all of the good reason in the world. We're going to speak with one of the journalists who helped uncover the history of sexual abuse, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The fallout from the sexual assault sentencing of Larry Nassar was almost immediate. Michigan State University's president resigned yesterday over the school's mishandling of the Nassar case. [08:50:08] 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 has been live in East Lansing, Michigan, for this case.

Jean, again, I mean, what the judge did yesterday was so unusual and just riveting.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Legal history has been made by this case. I mean there's no question about it.

And, you know, one thing in the last week and a half, the survivors, as they told their story, they set up a timeline of who they went do, officials, and when, saying exactly what had happened to them at the hands of Larry Nassar and nothing was done. And now these survivors are banning together. They want answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 for 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.

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.

DENHOLLANDER: Thank you.

AQUILINA: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: One thing the judge emphasized yesterday that if not for investigative journalism, which broke this case, that Nassar would still be practicing. He would still possibly be with the USAG. And he would be assaulting young women right here in Michigan.

Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, Jean, thank you very much. Appreciate it. It is good to see the conclusion here. Hopefully it means something to all of those victims.

Joining me now is one of the reporters who broke the story of Larry Nassar's long history of abuse, Mark Alesia. He writes for "The Indianapolis Star."

And, Mark, let's just remind people of the nature of the significance of this reporting. Take us back to when it started and how hard it was for you and other journalists to get some hooks into this situation, the obstacles you faced and the resistance to it being true.

MARK ALESIA, SPORTS BUSINESS REPORTER, "INDIANAPOLIS STAR": Well, in 2016, my colleague, Marissa Kwiatkowski (ph), received a tip about a court case in southern Georgia where USA Gymnastics was being sued by a club level gymnast for negligence. She had been molested by a coach who had been reported years earlier to USA Gymnastics in very stark terms. One of the letters said, stop him before he rapes somebody. But they did nothing.

And as we found in our reporting, that was part of their -- they had an official policy not to do anything unless they had a signed complaint from a parent, or a signed complaint from an athlete, which experts told us is exactly the wrong thing to do.

[08:55:18] CUOMO: Because?

ALESIA: And then -- I'm sorry.

CUOMO: Because? Why is that the wrong thing? Why is that an unreasonable expectation?

ALESIA: Because there are any number of other people who might be in a situation to report something that's happening. Perhaps the --

CUOMO: Right.

ALESIA: A young woman herself doesn't want to come forward.

CUOMO: Right.

ALESIA: Perhaps she doesn't even want to share with her parents.

CUOMO: Right.

ALESIA: Perhaps a friend overheard something or the gymnast confided in her.

CUOMO: Right.

ALESIA: It's just an awful policy.

CUOMO: We've seen this be true in so many different contexts. And now it's been blown wide open.

I want you to hear, and the audience to hear, the words that one of the prosecutors shared about what led to justice in this case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shouldn't take investigative journalists to expose predators. It should not take one brave woman, put in the unenviable position and choice to go public with her name, and be the only public person for months. But thank God we had these journalists and that they exposed this truth and that they continued to cover this story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: She's talking about you, your investigating partner and other journalists who stayed on this. And it's important to these families, Mark, what you did. And I know that it's one of the things that drives your interest in the pursuit of journalism and it made a difference in this. We may not have seen this justice without you. So thanks from all of us in the community who are trying to echo the efforts of people like you.

ALESIA: I appreciate that.

CUOMO: Well, and so do the families. To hear these kids, how so much of their life was stolen from them by this man, and who knows if it would have ever come to light to this extent. So the best to you, and I look forward to your reporting in the future.

ALESIA: Thank you.

CUOMO: Mark Alesia. You know, it's a name that you ordinarily wouldn't know unless you're in Indianapolis and you're reading "The Star," but he made an impact.

CAMEROTA: Oh.

CUOMO: So many -- hundreds and hundreds of people's lives affected by his dogged determination and the people he worked with and the other reporters who did this to get it right.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And the judge made so many powerful points yesterday. I mean, again, I told Jean this, it was riveting TV. I couldn't turn my eyes off it. And she allowed cameras in the courtroom, which is also really valuable, to watch how justice plays out.

CUOMO: And a strong point made. Yes, he got the bad guy, but what about the system? We see that in a lot of these types of cases. How do you change the system?

CAMEROTA: Now is the moment.

Meanwhile, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman will pick up after this very quick break.

If you don't see Chris tomorrow, you know what happened.

CUOMO: Oh, boy. I hope my back can take it.