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Trump Officials Lack Clearance; Gowdy on Retirement; White House Struggles with Porter Scandal; Inflation Rising Faster than Expected; Kelly has President's Confidence; Debate on Immigration Bill. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired February 14, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: People I've ever met in my life. She's never broken curfew. It took her a year to get a security clearance. That's too long when you're hiring people for really fact centric jobs. A year is too long to wait. So you -- many you've got too many applicants. You certainly have too few resources. Any time you've got a backlog, you've got to look at those two factors.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. You have announced that you're retiring. Why are you getting out of this racket?

GOWDY: Because I miss my old job. I miss the justice system. I like jobs where facts matter. I like jobs where fairness matters. I like jobs, frankly, where the process matters. And it's not just about winning and it's not just about reaching a result. There's a proper way to do things. There are confessions thrown out because police didn't follow the right protocol. There are search warrants thrown out. So I am more at peace in jobs that award fairness and that are fact centric than I am in Congress.

CAMEROTA: And so facts don't matter in Congress?

GOWDY: I think what matters in Congress is finding a group and then validating or ratifying what they already believe. The art of persuasion -- I haven't -- in seven years, I haven't seen anyone's mind changed by a speech, by a debate. It's about ratification and validation.

I like the art of persuasion. I like finding 12 people who have not already made up their minds and then may the facts prevail. That's not where we are in politics. So maybe we'll get back there. Maybe my great granddaughter will have a different experience. But right now I like the art of persuasion. I like it when facts matter. And I don't see that in our current modern political environment.

CAMEROTA: That is quite a testament to where we are today.

Congressman Trey Gowdy, we really appreciate you coming on with all of your perspective.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much. GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, very interesting to hear Trey Gowdy, the man who saw the FISA application, who's behind the Nunes memo saying facts don't matter in Congress, neither does fairness.

All right, we're following breaking news.

The FBI is investigating a shooting at NSA headquarters in Maryland. A black SUV crashed into a security barrier. You can see bullet holes in the window. You can see the air bags were deployed as well. Those barriers say NSA on them. This is one of the secure gates on the NSA campus. We have the latest, breaking details coming up next.

CAMEROTA: OK. So also this morning, Chief of Staff John Kelly, of course, is in the eye of the storm, the Rob Porter issue. So now there's talk intensifying about who can replace him. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: All right, we're following a breaking situation here. The FBI investigating a shooting outside NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Now, authorities say it is not an ongoing situation. There is no ongoing risk.

[08:35:10] What happened? Security gate near the campus -- look at your screen -- you'll see a black SUV. There are bullet holes. The bags were deployed in it. It hit a barrier there that says NSA. There was gunfire. There are reports of injuries.

CAMEROTA: OK, but the NSA says the situation is now under control. Local media is reporting that as many as three people have been shot there.

So our CNN affiliate WJLA reports the suspect is in custody.

The White House says President Trump has been briefed on this shooting at NSA headquarters. So, obviously, this is an unfolding situation. We will bring you more information as soon as we get it into our newsroom.

CUOMO: The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is defending his handling of former top aide Rob Porter. He tells "The Wall Street Journal," quote, it was all done right. Everything we know about the situation fights that conclusion. Sources tell CNN that conversations over who should succeed Kelly are heating up. Thirty-four percent of the people Trump has brought in have left his administration, most of them under a cloud.

Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's on the House Intel Committee. So Trey Gowdy was just on. And as we all know, he's leaving public office. And it is amazing how when that happens with you guys, all of a sudden there's this whole new level of candor. So even though he had no problem architecting the Nunes memo, he says you guys down there, you're not about facts, you're not about fairness, it's just finding like-minded people and advancing your own cause.

Is that the reality of Congress these days?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, first of all, you know, Trey Gowdy is a great man. I've worked for him. I serve with him on the Intel Committee. I have great respect for him.

I would -- I would agree with him. I think we have this new normal that takes us to either extreme and doesn't allow us to come together in the middle. And we can point a lot of fingers at someone else, but we need to actually look internally as well.

CUOMO: Now, did you feel like that about Gowdy during the Benghazi hearings? I know the answer to that is no by what you said publicly at the time.

SPEIER: Well, I think the Benghazi hearings really went off the rails. But I've worked with him, you know, quietly in ethics committee subcommittees. And he is a -- he's a judicial person.

CUOMO: Right.

SPEIER: So I would -- with the exception of Benghazi, I would say.

CUOMO: Yes. Well, that's a big exception.

And, you know, look, this is the point I'm trying to make for the audience this morning is that if you guys don't agree, you believe the other side is the worst possible thing that could ever manifest itself in public service. We saw that with Benghazi and how the left felt about those efforts. And now we see the right feeling the same way about the Russia probe. Again this morning it's reportable that the president of the United States is not convinced that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. How can the people have any expectation of progress in that kind of environment?

SPEIER: Well, it creates an environment where people only believe what they want to believe. And we have a president, and frankly a White House, that's a lying machine. I mean when you have your own FBI director, who you have selected, sit before a Senate committee and give a chronology that clearly is not in sync with what your chief of staff is saying, there's something wrong.

I mean there is a set of facts that is true. And we've got to get to a point where we're willing to both agree on a set of facts. We have a president who does not care about the truth. And it is infecting his entire White House staff. And probably a good part of his administration.

I give a lot of credit to those that will stand up, like Chris Wray, and tell the truth.

CUOMO: What happens next here? They say the security clearance system is broken. That, you know, this is proof of it with Rob Porter. What can you do down there in terms of oversight? Trey Gowdy says he started an investigation last night. But, you know, when's the last time we saw those yield anything on any level?

SPEIER: Well, sometimes they do yield progress.

CUOMO: I'm cynical, Congress member, and I'm --

SPEIER: I know you're cynical, and I am too most --

CUOMO: It's only because of what I see every day here. I mean what's going to come of it? Do you -- you know, there are going to be political recommendations? This process needs to change? You can't change what's in the Constitution. The executive has ultimate say over classification. The president, functionally, can have anybody around him he wants.

SPEIER: That's true. And, in the end, even though he had interim clearance, the president has the right to allow him to continue to work in that position.

The question for all of us is, why, when you have credible allegations of domestic violence would you have anyone in your administration with that kind of a tainted record. But there's no question that the president can declassify anything he wants. And he can, in fact, give security clearance, I guess, to anyone he wants. That is the ultimate power of the presidency.

[08:40:12] Let me just say, you know, there is -- there are times when Congress does come together. And the fact that we passed the Me Too Congress Act, that we came together on sexual harassment is a great example of how we can work together. My colleague from --

CUOMO: Amen on that. Amen on that because we needed systemic change. And let's be honest, that was low fruit. You know, the idea that you can use my money to pay off your harassment claims is crazy. So at least you guys made that move to fix that.

But now look what we have on the heels of that. And, yes, systemic change is good. It's good that you guys acted on it, period, full stop.

But, you have the president of the United States go out there, and with full volition and full intentions dismiss victims of domestic abuse. You know, the harshest echelon of the Me Too manifestation. You know, this is systematic torture. It's ignored to different degrees by our justice system. Shouldn't you guys be calling on him to come out and correct that mistake?

SPEIER: Oh, absolutely. And I -- I am there. I've been saying it all weekend. I feel that the president has to make a clear statement about how domestic violence is a crime, how there is no rationale to be able to have anyone working in the White House or frankly anyone in government service who has those kinds of allegations sitting over their heads.

Now, for him to suggest somehow that those haven't been proven is ridiculous. And it's time for him to say, I do believe the women, instead of saying, I believe the men.

CUOMO: The reason I'm bringing that up is, just to circle back to what Gowdy was talking about, facts do matter. Fairness matters. And at some point you guys have to take stands that make that a baseline principle down there. And you have a pretty easy layup right now because if a man won't come forward and say that the victims of domestic abuse deserve respect and deserve to be believed, I don't know where else you can start.

But, congresswoman, I appreciate you being on the show and giving your perspective, as always.

SPEIER: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, we have an update now on our breaking news.

The FBI is investigating this shooting that just happened at NSA headquarters in Maryland. You can see there the aftermath. A black SUV crashed into a security barrier. You can see the SUV, the front window there has bullet holes in it. So we have all of the latest breaking details from officials on the ground for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:25] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: OK, we do have an update now for you on the breaking news that we've been following.

There has been a shooting outside of NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland. You can see now on your screen the aftermath here. This happened right near a security gate of the campus.

And if you look closely, that is a black SUV. You can see bullet holes in the front window of that vehicle. It appears to have crashed into a security barrier.

We're -- we don't know the back story of the bullet holes, if that's what other security guards were using to stop the driver or if they came from the inside. The NSA says the situation is now under control. Though local media is reporting that as many as three people have been shot there.

Our CNN affiliate, WJLA, reports that the suspect is in custody. We don't have any information about the suspect. We don't have a description yet. We don't know even male, female. We don't know anything about who this person was. We hope that authorities will share that with us.

The White House says that President Trump has been briefed on this shooting. Obviously, they, too, are awaiting for more information.

So a very scary situation, but it looks like the security barriers stopped that car. They worked. Again, this was the NSA headquarters. So you can imagine how much security was around there at Ft. Meade. And we will let you know as soon as we know the situation with any of the injured people as well as the suspect.

That's the latest information that we have, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, we're following another breaking story as well.

Inflation is measured as rising faster than expected. So consumer prices are rising as well. Now, we know what that means. All eyes on how this will impact the markets. This morning,

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us live from Washington.

We know the old adage, right, you buy on speculation and you sell on news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And the news here today is that the Consumer Price Index went up 2.1 percent in January. That's the fastest inflation growth in five months. And it's more than economists had expected. It means you're paying more for things like rent, clothes, gasoline, health insurance, auto insurance. Those are some of the components that we can see in this government report that show you that prices are rising.

And, as you know, Chris, all of this volatility and these wild swings in the stock market have been triggered by this great inflation debate right now. Is the era of low interest rates over and inflation going to come creeping back into the economy?

This number would suggest that inflation is starting to come back. You can see futures down about 248 points, suggesting a triple digit decline at the opening bell if this holds because this number is feeding into those fears again that the economy is strong, there's a lot of stimulus in the economy and that could generate more inflation, meaning you'll pay higher prices for things.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: We also have new reporting about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's future amid the Rob Porter scandal. "The Bottom Line," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:52:39] CAMEROTA: OK, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tells CNN in just this past hour that President Trump does still have confidence in Chief of Staff John Kelly. But CNN's sources say that multiple people, aids in the White House, are blaming Kelly for this bungled response to the Rob Porter scandal. And there's still conversation ongoing of replacing Kelly.

CUOMO: Mayflies do more long-term planning than people in the Trump administration, OK?

CAMEROTA: Let's get "The Bottom Line" from CNN's senior political analyst, whatever, guru, oracle, Mark Preston.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Maybe next -- maybe next chief of staff at the White House. Who knows?

CAMEROTA: You could be. Your name is being bandied about in your head.

CUOMO: Have a backup plan.

CAMEROTA: So -- OK, so Sarah Sanders, according to Kaitlan Collins, says that the president still has confidence in him. That's what we were waiting for. That's what we were wondering. So I guess John Kelly is staying for the moment?

PRESTON: I mean, honestly, I support, agree, understand what Kaitlan is reporting, but it means nothing to me because what we've seen over and over again from this White House is that they're willing to lie, they're willing to fib. Why even use the word fib? They're willing to lie. They're willing to bend the truth.

So when you get a backing like that, a very public backing from Sarah Sanders, and not from the president himself, that says something to me.

CUOMO: Now, I -- we were positing on here. This situation can't die with Rob Porter.

PRESTON: Right.

CUOMO: One, you've got 34 percent of your staff that have been bled off, often under a cloud of suspicion. You have an ongoing clearance issue with intelligence matters. And they made classified information and how it's handled a big deal. They did it with Clinton. They're continuing it now with this BS about the FISA courts, that they're saying the secret courts, even though they're congressionally created as an oversight mechanism. So it's going to stay.

And the biggest reason, Mark Preston, is, do you believe that today is the day that the president of the United States takes ownership of his mistake and says, listen, I support the victims of domestic abuse. That has to be said by the moral leader, that agency, in this country.

PRESTON: Well, the difference between that has to be said and that's going to be said is 180 degrees, right? Obviously --

CUOMO: It won't go away. This will keep going. It's too big a deal.

PRESTON: Well, of course it's going to keep going. And the bottom line is, what's -- what has changed today that hasn't changed every other day in President Trump's life? The fact is, he's going to stick by his own guns. He's going to allow others to go out and give mealy mouth support for these women. But we're not going to hear it from him.

[08:55:07] And if we do hear it from him, it is not going to be as strong as it could -- as it should. And I would even argue that unless he's going to go out there and give a full-throated endorsement or support for these women, maybe he shouldn't do it at all.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about policy. The debate over immigration is supposed to start in earnest today. In the Senate they've been haggling over process. So does -- and there are a couple of different bipartisan bills that are floating around. Does anything have 60 votes or might it?

PRESTON: No. And the state of play right now is, is that immigration is going nowhere. Votes will start within the next couple of hours. The bottom line is, though, is that Democrats are sticking very hard on their opposition to President Trump's immigration proposal, which includes an end to, quote/unquote, chain migration, which allows folks who are here in the United States to bring over family members, extended family members. They also want to end the visa lottery program. That is Republicans, President Trump, Democrats don't want to do that. Democrats on the -- rather, Republicans on the other side will say, but we're going to give you a pathway to citizenship for these DACA recipients. You have to come to the middle. Right now neither side is moving.

CUOMO: Who's stronger, do you think, in terms of where their -- what hill they're willing to die on? You know, Dianne Feinstein started with, give us a clean bill on DACA. And I've got to tell you, logically that is a position. I don't know that they win. But logically what's going on with these DACA people is separate from all of these other considerations. But it doesn't seem like the Democrats are holding fast there. So who's stronger to their won't bend to this point?

PRESTON: Well, a couple things. It depends what the final proposal is going to look like because a lot is going to come down to the ten Democratic senators who are up for re-election in states that President Trump won. And of those ten senators, five of them Trump won their state back in 2016 by double digits. So there could be an incredible amount of pressure on them to support some kind of compromise deal at the end.

I do think that Democrats, at some point, will blink. If it gets to the point where Donald Trump said the other day where this is the final chance to get it done, and they really believe it, I do think, at the 11th hour, you'll see Democrats blink a little bit. But by blinking, they will have at least got these DACA kids citizenship, or at least on a path to citizenship.

CAMEROTA: All right. It will be another very interesting day in Washington, D.C. I think that's safe to say.

PRESTON: Right. CAMEROTA: Mark Preston, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

CUOMO: Happy Valentine's Day.

PRESTON: I love you, Chris. I don't.

CUOMO: I love you.

CAMEROTA: What's been happening on this show?

CUOMO: Why? What's wrong with love?

CAMEROTA: There's a lot of man love happening between you and our male guests.

CUOMO: What's wrong with it? What's wrong with that?

CAMEROTA: Nothing.

CUOMO: Well, that face was not a happy face you just --

CAMEROTA: No, I just -- I can't believe how many men you've gotten to say --

CUOMO: There's nothing wrong with that. We need more love.

CAMEROTA: Including Jim Jordan to say, Happy Valentine's Day to you. That -- that is quite an accomplishment.

CUOMO: We need more of that.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman picks up right after this quick break.

CAMEROTA: We love him.

CUOMO: That lipstick on his collar, that's mine.

CAMEROTA: Some of yours.

CUOMO: I gave him a happy Valentine's kiss. He moved away, so I got the collar.

CAMEROTA: Of course you did.

CUOMO: Because he listens to people like you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)