Return to Transcripts main page


Clapper: GOP Memo Does Not Vindicate Trump; Trump Threatens Shutdown as Congress Nears Budget Deal; Trump Still Wants to Meet with Mueller; Biden Weighs in on Battle Over DREAMers. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 07:00   ET


CLAPPER: -- that gives rise to the president's claim that he was completely vindicated, which -- which he was not. The memo doesn't do anything of the sort.

[07:00:09] CAMEROTA: I mean, it's ironic that, you know, Devin Nunes claims to be so concerned about bias, obviously, at the FBI and in the intel community, and yet, he certainly seems to be aligned with the White House. So what to do about that?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't know what to do about it. You know, as long as he's chairman, I don't think that that situation is going to change. He is, in my view, an agent of the White House. And is certainly not interested in bipartisan oversight, again, in a manner in which the committees were intended. They're just not going to operate that way.

CAMEROTA: Director James Clapper, we appreciate your perspective. You have a very unique one with all of your experience. Thanks so much for being here.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you CNN "NEWS ROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will predict that he will either redact it or refuse to release it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are certain changes that are going to have to get made to take out certain sources and methods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very important to clear up the poisonous rhetoric. The best way to do that is to release this memo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president wants a parade, I'm sure the military is trying to put one together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a Napoleon in the making here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of Americans will take pride in the fact that we honor our military. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably more about his ego than anything

else. Who's the Rocket Man now?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: As we get close to agreement, the president steps in and really makes it very difficult.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If anybody is lazy, it's probably Democrats who aren't getting to the table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're needlessly callous and disrespectful.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people have a heart. The lives of these kids shouldn't be bargained for anything.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

Up first, President Trump says he would welcome another federal government shutdown if Democrats will not tighten immigration laws. This comes as the House passed a new short-term spending bill. Senate leaders, though, are focused on a two-year budget deal.

While Congress wrestles with funding the government, President Trump says he wants the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade in Washington with tanks and marching soldiers. That could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

CUOMO: And certainly distract when they just have a day to get this deal done.

So while the president is weighing whether to declassify the Democratic rebuttal to that GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses, the White House says the president is going to rely on the recommendations of the FBI and the intelligence community.

You have to remember, those are the very leaders whose strong admonitions about the GOP memo, the president dismissed out of hand just last week.

Plus, we have an exclusive interview with Joe Biden. We haven't really heard the former vice president weigh in on the state of play in Washington, what he makes of this president and what he makes specifically of the battle over the DREAMers. What deal does he think Democrats should make? We have it all covered.

Let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip, live at the White House.

Good morning, Abby.


Well, today over in the Senate, it appears that lawmakers are actually close to a bipartisan compromise on the budget and also on immigration. But it is the White House that is stirring up controversy. Both President Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, making some controversial comments yesterday that do not appear to be helping matters.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown. We'll do a shutdown. And it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump calling for another shutdown if Democrats don't agree to his immigration demands, despite the fact that at the same time, Senate negotiators were touting bipartisan progress on a budget deal.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm optimistic that very soon we'll be able to reach an agreement.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been.

PHILLIP: Senate negotiators have separated the budget from immigration entirely, a longtime Republican goal. And the current deal includes an increase in defense spending, alongside additional domestic spending the Democrats have been calling for.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders left to clean up the president's remarks.

SANDERS: I don't think that we expect the budget deal to include specifics on immigration reform, but we want to get a deal on that. As we've said, we don't want to hold the government hostage over these items.

PHILLIP: Late Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham also indicating the Senate may be making progress on immigration.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I felt really bad yesterday. I feel better today. People are -- I think we've got a way forward that seems to be fair to everybody. We're back in the ball game now.

PHILLIP: This effort coming amid backlash over these remarks from the president's chief of staff about undocumented immigrants who did not sign up for President Obama's DREAMer program but would be given a potential path to citizenship under the administration's proposal.

[06:05:08]JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The difference between 690 and the 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's just an offensive comment, though, isn't it? Just on its surface?

SANDERS: I think that's something you would have to decide for yourself.

PHILLIP: Kelly later doubling down after Democrat Stenny Hoyer reportedly pushed back against his remarks in a closed-door meeting.

Kelly also telling reporters that the president is not leaning one way or another about releasing the Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses.

KELLY: This is a different memo than the first one. It's lengthier. It's -- well, it's different.

It will be done in a responsible way. But again, it's -- where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is lot less clean.

PHILLIP: Kelly adding that ultimately, the president is waiting for a recommendation from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and FBI head Christopher Wray, even though he ignored their concerns about the Republican memo last week.

The back and forth coming as CNN learns that President Trump remains eager to speak with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, despite concerns from his lawyers.

The president is also eager to hold a grand military parade in Washington after praising France's Bastille Day celebration last year.

TRUMP: It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen.

PHILLIP: The Pentagon confirms the president's request but stresses that the planning process is in its infancy.


PHILLIP: Well, Chris and Alisyn, about that parade. It would not be totally unprecedented for something like that to happen. The last time it happened was in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. But it is pricey. It cost about $8 million. And of course, there's still a lot of men and women still in harm's way. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the end of conflict for -- for our armed forces right now, Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Abby. And we'll get to that momentarily. Thank you very much for all that reporting.

Let's discuss it with CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The New York Times," Maggie Haberman.

Hi, Maggie.


CAMEROTA: Deja vu all over again. Here we are talking about a government shutdown tomorrow at midnight is the deadline. And the president seems to be comfortable this time -- maybe he was last time also -- playing the shutdown card. HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: So he says that we should do it. He's fine with it.

HABERMAN: This is another example, I think, of the president not rowing in the same direction as not only just his party but his White House. I mean, I think his White House recognizes a shutdown is not good for anybody. His staff recognizes that. Republicans do not want another shutdown. Democrats clearly, I think, did not think they got what they wanted out of the last shutdown.

The president has always privately said to people that a shutdown is not necessarily a bad thing for him. It could be a good thing for him. At one point when it looked like the tax bill might not go through, he was talking about it privately to associates as a possible option for getting back at Republicans. So I'm not surprised to hear him say this.

But again, it's not in concert with any of the negotiations that have been going on. And progress had been being made toward avoiding a shutdown. This simply doesn't help -- it's not dispositive, but it doesn't help to get there.

CUOMO: So his inability to surrender the "me" to the "we," whether it's on the shutdown and...

HABERMAN: I never -- did you make that up? I never heard that before.

CAMEROTA: You said you liked it last time he said it.

CUOMO: We say it all the time, because it just gets more and more true.

Do you see that at play with this parade thing, as well. He didn't take the time to think about what the metaphor, what the imagery of these kind of parades are, why we dismiss them in other countries, what they would mean here. He just likes a parade. He thinks it would be cool for him to be kind of at the front of one. And that's enough for him.

HABERMAN: I don't know that it's that he didn't take the time or it hasn't been explained to him, because remember, he's been wanting to do this since his inauguration, and he was talked out of. It was -- it was scuttled, essentially. There was a huge request for planes and so forth. And then he went to France for Bastille Day, for a two-day trip, and he literally decided he wanted to do it because they were having a cool sounding parade.

Remember, that cool-sounding parade is not just a testament to France's military. It's a testament to allies...

CUOMO: Right.

HABERMAN: ... that have fought with France. It is a very different type of parade than what seems to be being imagined here. Whether he doesn't know or doesn't care, it's hard to say. I think at

this point, it's been explained to him why it is both culturally and economically that these parades do not take place in the U.S., other than, as you noted in a previous segment, you know, on main streets, and they're tethered to the Fourth of July. They're tethered to a celebration of principles, not of a person.

We'll see if this actually happens. But the difference now is that it does seem to at least be in motion for how to consider it. It's not just him saying, "I'd like one."

CAMEROTA: So when the commander in chief says, "I love a parade. Bring me a parade."

HABERMAN: "For me."

CAMEROTA: "For me."


CAMEROTA: Then Mattis and the White House, I would imagine, do have to kind of spring into action. I mean, is that what's happening?

HABERMAN: I don't know if it's spring into action. I think it might be slow walk into action. And look at the various options and see if there is a way to, if not scuttle it entirely, perhaps redirect it to a smaller goal.

[07:10:09] This is obviously not the first time that James Mattis has had to deal with a request from the president that he did not feel was meeting certain standards. We'll see where this one ends up.

CUOMO: This lands on Dunford's desk.

HABERMAN: That's right.

CUOMO: As if he doesn't have enough to deal with. And he'll have to do that.

So let me ask you, on DACA, so the chief of staff, who's supposed to be the leavening agent, winds up saying something that is ugly and hurtful. Is it hurtful to the process? Is this part of their spin? Was this intentional or you think he get caught out there?

HABERMAN: No, I don't think this was intentional. I think this -- he was saying what he thinks.

I mean, I think that there has always been this misconception that John Kelly, to your point about a leavening influence, a -- there has been a constant need to confuse the word "moderating" -- words "moderating influence" with "moderate person" around this president.

And John Kelly, certainly in his immigration politics, is much closer to the president's public rhetoric than I think a lot of people on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have realized. They will say knowing him going back many years, he had always been pretty conservative. I don't think he intended it. I don't think this was an intentional thing.

What he said is not helpful to the process. It's going to make it much harder for Democrats and some moderate Republicans in swing districts to be able to go forward working with the White House on certain issues. It is just a hurtful thing to say. It plays into some of the grocer racist stereotypes of black and brown immigrants. And I just don't see how this is conducive to anything positive.

CAMEROTA: But it is illuminate. It's illuminating. To hear that he thinks...

HABERMAN: He thinks.

CAMEROTA: Thinks the DREAMers are moochers.

HABERMAN: They're takers.

CAMEROTA: They're takers. They don't contribute. I mean, this was so different than the characterization at times the president has said. Let's just remind people in case they missed it what John Kelly said about DACA.


KELLY: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants, and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number to 1.8 million. The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say that were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up.


CAMEROTA: So that million discrepancies, they might be just sitting on their asses on their sofas eating bonbons, and they just forgot to sign up. If your chief of staff feels that way, no wonder it's hard to get a deal for DREAMers from the White House.

HABERMAN: One of the things that I think has been confusing to advocates of a -- of a deal for at least for the DACA recipient pool of DREAMERS and then for the broader pool, is that Kelly has appeared to be on various sides of this issue at various times.

John Kelly, in certain ways, is not unlike his boss. And one of the ways we have seen, certainly, his rhetoric. The other is in saying different things to different people depending on who he is with.

There's no question that if he has wanted a deal related to DACA at various points, it's because this was an obstacle to other things, and this was just basically checking a box to get rid of a problem, not because he felt some emotional connection to this issue.

The president, to your point, actually, I think, has expressed more of an emotional connection, when he is not saying other things on Twitter.

CUOMO: Right, except that he is -- the starkest thing I've seen from the president on this totally comports with what Kelly is saying.


CUOMO: I don't know how he has forgotten his own lineage. "No Irish need apply." When my grandparents came here, I know for a fact they didn't know there was a legal process. They just wanted to come. That's why they were so willing to have their names changed and do anything they could. They were afraid; they wanted to get in. They weren't lazy, that's for damn sure.

But the president said "bill of love." He never meant it. You heard what he said about DREAMers, "Don't buy that DREAMers stuff. All Americans are dreamers."


CUOMO: He wants to make them an "us versus them." That's where they are on it. How they come out on it, we'll see. But that's clearly their policy take on this. It's "us versus them."

HABERMAN: It's certainly their policy. There's no question about that.

Look, I mean, the president, to your point, has been all over the place on various issues. I think he actually genuinely has been looking for a way out of the situation that the administration got him into. To be clear, yes it was under threat of lawsuits from attorneys general in certain states, that there had to be a deadline to end DACA. There is some question as to whether the administration was secretly working with those A.G.s to force this issue in the first place and to force the president's hand. But he has been looking for a way out of this for a while.

But to your point, every time, when there is an answer that they could come up with, they always go back to the more nationalist, nativist policy. And this is no exception. And again, for people who thought that John Kelly was going to be, you know, a moderate force on this issue.

CUOMO: Right.

HABERMAN: That is not who he's been.

CAMEROTA: OK. Next topic, the president and whether or not he will sit down with Robert Mueller. Our CNN reporting is that the president continues to say he wants to sit down.

[07:15:04] HABERMAN: He was very angry at our story yesterday.


HABERMAN: I heard it from several people. Yes.

CAMEROTA: He was angry that the lawyers don't think that he's going to? HABERMAN: He was just angry that it publicly appeared. And because as we know, he tends to go in the opposite direction of what people think he should do.

CUOMO: A little bravado. I'm surprised he didn't respond to Biden yet. Because I felt that Biden was punking him a little bit about "they won't let you. They'll tell you not to."

HABERMAN: And it's a good idea. They're right. There was a thing about, you know, he wouldn't let him do it either. He shouldn't go do that.

I think that the president is of the belief that he can talk himself out of most situations. And he -- he repeatedly says there's nothing there. So going forward and doing that.

And to be clear, I think Biden had something right in his interview with you, which is that it isn't just that his lawyers are afraid that he might prevaricate. It's that they're afraid that he will unintentionally get himself into a situation, because he is, you know, to be generous, imprecise, because he sometimes relies on hyperbole. Often relies on hyperbole. It isn't necessarily because here's this thing that he's covering up. It's he might just steer himself down a bad course.

CUOMO: And he's going to be sitting down with a group of men and women, in all likelihood, who he has disparaged...

HABERMAN: That's right.

CUOMO: ... disrespected.

HABERMAN: That's right.

CUOMO: So he's putting a lot of strain on their game.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CUOMO: In terms of staying fair.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Do you like that phrase also?

HABERMAN: That was good. We should use that again.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that.

CUOMO: Write them all up.

CAMEROTA: Write them all up.

Maggie, thank you.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here.

All right. So a group of senators coming to the defense of the FBI. They have a message for the White House before the president decides if that Democratic rebuttal should be declassified and made public.

CUOMO: Plus, former vice president Joe Biden weighing in on the DREAMers debate. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Either do it or don't do it. But don't bargain their lives for a wall or for a funding for a program. That is not the American way.


CUOMO: That's exactly what the Democrats are in a position to do right now. So what deal does he think the Democrats should make? Next.


[07:21:12] CUOMO: Former vice president Joe Biden says he is outraged by the ongoing battle over the DREAMers. The former vice president says their lives should not be used as a bargaining chip in exchange for Trump's border wall. But what deal does he think the Democrats should make? Here's part two of the interview.


CUOMO: DACA obviously matters, the executive order that came through under your administration with President Obama. Do you think the Democrats should do a deal, save the DREAMers, give them the pathway that the president offered, we'll give you the wall. Would you do that deal?

BIDEN: It depends on what they meant by the wall. But one of the things...

CUOMO: He's going to want to say "wall" at the end of it.

BIDEN: I don't care what the hell he says. That would be fine by me. But here's the point. The idea that we're using almost 2 million young lives. These -- these kids are Americans. Can you imagine at 2 years old, "Mom, don't take me across the Rio Grande. I don't want to go. It's illegal. Leave me here."?

CUOMO: Rule of law, Vice President.

BIDEN: Oh, rule -- it's just -- rule of law is a rule of equity. And there's such things as equity. And there's no equity to sending 2 million kids who have been here, 1.9 million, for the bulk of their life, who didn't come voluntarily and abided by the law and the rules and are making great contributions to America.

CUOMO: They can stay but not their parents, and they can only be guest workers. They'll never be like you and me.

BIDEN: That's a gigantic mistake. It's a gigantic -- look, we're the only country in the world, of industrial world, that is able to have replacement workers, able to continue to grow. The rest of the world. I mean, we are so incredibly short-sighted.

But here's the point. The American people have a heart. They American people overwhelmingly think the lives of these kids shouldn't be bargained for anything. Just do it. Either do it or don't do it. But don't bargain their lives for a wall or for funding for a program. That is not the American way.

CUOMO: So then do the Democrats stand strong on that kind of principle and not do this deal, and then you have to see if the president is willing to pull the trigger on his own self-imposed deadline? Should the Democrats play it that way, the way you're saying?

BIDEN: I think the Democrats have to continue to make clear that this should not be a bargaining chip. This is inappropriate to use these kids' lives as a way to get more money for A, B, C, D or E or any particular thing.

CUOMO: They signed onto the deal, Vice President.

BIDEN: No, no, no. I know. And it's always -- having served there for 36 years, I'm always reluctant to go inside and negotiate. As you know, every time we had a trouble in the Congress, I was the guy that got sent up to do...

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking you.

BIDEN: Well, I know how -- a way I would have tried to negotiate it. But I'm not there. It's in -- I'm outside. I'm not inside. I don't know what the -- where the elasticity is to make this.

On the basic proposition that, if you had a wall that provided us security that wasn't just an absolute waste of money, meaning national technical ways to protect it and all these kids had a path to citizenship, I'd be inclined to do that.

CUOMO: You'd give them -- you'd give Trump the political victory in order to get the DREAMer deal done?

BIDEN: I don't care about his political victory. I don't think -- I don't -- that's not how I view politics, whether or not it's a personal victory or not.

CUOMO: When you go to speak to the Democrats now, this is going to be a big deal. They have to figure out some very fundamental things. Being anti-Trump probably won't be enough.

BIDEN: Not at all.

CUOMO: What is the challenge for your party?

BIDEN: The challenge is for us to step up and -- and offer concrete answers, which we're doing.

For example, when we talk about, you know, the plight of the working class, well, you know, one of the planks is the cost of education, the cost of day care, the cost for being able to care for your kid. And there's no reason in the world why we can't step up and have continued education that's free.

[07:25:06] If you eliminated one single loophole, called stepped-up basis (ph), there's a trillion three hundred and forty billion dollars of loopholes out there for the wealthy and for others. If you just eliminated one that costs $17 billion, I could put every single qualified kid in America who qualifies into community college for free. For free. Cutting the cost of four-year college in half. It costs $6 billion a year. And I can reduce the deficit by $11 billion, because we're giving away $17 billion a year in a thing called stepped-up basis (ph).

BIDEN: So an idea like that is a centrist idea. You've said before that Democrats have to think about how to get to center and speak to the people that voted for President Trump. Your party is not moving to the center, Mr. Vice President. It's moving to the left.

BIDEN: Well, Chris, you know me well, and I don't want to -- I don't want to correct you. My point is -- I don't think you have to choose between your heart and your soul.

If you go back and look at my records of 36 years in the Senate, I was raised as one of the most liberal senators in the United States Senate in that 36-year period. I'm the guy that spoke out on same-sex marriage and a whole range of other things. I take a back seat to no one of being progressive.

I found no distinction between being able to be progressive and worrying about working-class people, middle-class people. They are not inconsistent. And to make the point, the last campaign, I went to a victory up in Ohio, a Ford factory. And I started off and I said, "Let me tell you something. We have to" -- and I went on. I said, "Here's the deal. Every woman is entitled to make the same pay a man makes for the same job."

All these blue-collar guys went nuts. You know why? If their wife got paid the same for sewing shoes as the man that's sewing shoes in the same place, they get to put four new tires on their car. They get to get a new faucet. They get to make sure they're able to pay their insurance.

I said, "Look, it doesn't matter. It's none of your business who somebody marries. It's none of your business." They cheered; 3,000 guys cheered. Just don't tell them they have to live that lifestyle. It's anybody's -- "And any man who raises his hand to a woman is a coward." They went nuts, because they've got daughters and wives."

We forget that -- these are the people I came from. Not just me. Almost everybody. I mean, middle-class folks who are decent, honorable. And the thing that we have to do is we have to start looking at them and acknowledging and treating them with dignity. It's the job they do that we have to begin to honor.

Anyway, it just -- it just drives me nuts.


CUOMO: Does drive him nuts. Now, will it drive him to run? That is a very separate proposition.

CAMEROTA: What's the answer?

CUOMO: And you know what? We asked him. And I think we have to get to it right now, is he's not going to give you an answer right now. And it is too early. But he is not where he was emotionally. He'll never be the same. How could he be after losing his son on top of what he's lost already? But he's in a different place. And that's why...

CAMEROTA: A more open place?

CUOMO: He has never seen anything like Trump before.

CAMEROTA: Oh. So he's more motivated?

CUOMO: He's never been as concerned about it. You know, but he loves this poem that he and my father both used to quote all the time: "Will hope and history rhyme for him" is the last line of this poem. Will it be the right timing? Will he be the right guy?

CAMEROTA: How old is Joe Biden?

CUOMO: He is in his 70s, as he likes to say.

CAMEROTA: I like that. Fudging it.

CUOMO: When he runs, you know, he's be, like, 77 years old. Vitality, health, age is just a number. True. You and I tell ourselves that all the time. I mean, you're now 31 years old. You know...

CAMEROTA: Please. I try not to reveal that.

CUOMO: Months, just ticking off the clock. But he wants it. The question is how much? So here's a little taste of that.


CUOMO: How do you not run for president. How do you not? When it is in your heart. It's in your head. You don't think anybody out there is better than you. And you've never had a moment in history that called for leadership more. How do you not run?


CUOMO: Didn't rhyme like I usually like to.

CAMEROTA: That's a tease. CUOMO: But I asked him it a little differently. And he wound up

giving a different answer, which will be interesting to listen to. It will come up in the 8 a.m. hour.

CAMEROTA: Can't wait to watch it. Great interview.

OK. Meanwhile, coming up, President Trump wants a military parade. Do members of Congress agree? We have a Democratic senator next.