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Trump Slams FBI's Handling Of Tip On Florida School Shooter; Pentagon's Concerns Grow Over Trump's Military Parade; Fergie's Unforgettable National Anthem; Ex-Wife Of Former White House Speechwriter Speaks Out On Abuse Claims. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired February 19, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have a sense that this will go anywhere?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, CHAIR, NEW DEMOCRAT COALITION: Well, I've got to tell you Alisyn, I hate to say it in the face of the activism and the optimism of the young people in Florida today but, no, I have zero confidence that will -- that this will go anywhere.
Remember, it was just a couple of months ago after Las Vegas that we were talking about regulating or ending bump stocks, something most of had never heard of. Where did the piece of legislation that would -- that would stop bump stocks go?
Well, you know, people moved on to other things and the opponents of gun safety in Congress got deliberately interested in other things. So, no, I'm not confident. I will be pleasantly surprised if after this round of deaths, we finally get something passed.
But, Alisyn, much more likely, I fear is that sometime in the next 10 days -- 10 days, statistically speaking -- we're going to see another one of these school killings and we'll be back on T.V. scratching our heads about why we can't get anything done here.
CAMEROTA: I've got to pray you're not right.
Very quickly, about Russia. What do you think the idea that there have been 13 Russians now indicted by Robert Mueller -- where do you think this leads? I mean, you're on the House Intel. What do you think this does to the investigation?
HIMES: Well, I think the main thing it does is it hopefully -- and maybe the president's tweet would suggest that he's headed in this direction. Hopefully, now we can get a clear communication out of the White House that it was not a hoax. That it wasn't a 400-pound guy sitting on his bed. That this is not something the Democrats made up.
You know, one of the things that has damaged our ability to respond to this is that when the President of the United States is denying that it occurred it's sort of hard to speak with one voice about what we do to prevent it in the future.
So, I think Bob Mueller did us a real service by coming out from a law enforcement angle where we knew the Intelligence Community has been for a long time, which is that this was a very, very serious attack on our -- on our elections.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Jim Himes, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
HIMES: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Dave --
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, thanks.
President Trump slamming the FBI for not investigating a very specific tip about the Florida school killer because he claims they're distracted by the Russia investigation. Did the president cross a line?
Former attorney general Alberta Gonzales weighing in, next.
[07:36:04] BRIGGS: The FBI admitting it failed to investigate a very specific tip about the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school weeks before the attack. FBI director Christopher Wray says the Bureau is investigating what happened but President Trump slamming the Bureau, claiming that they were too distracted with the Russia investigation.
Joining me now is former attorney general Alberto Gonzales. He is currently the dean of the College of Law at Belmont University and the author of "True Faith and Allegiance: A Story of Service and Sacrifice in War and Peace." Good to see you, sir.
We want to get to the president's reaction to all this but first, if I am a parent who lost a child, a wife who lost a spouse, a parent of a student who survived and will be forever tormented by what happened at that school last week, I want some accountability.
How does something like that happen? How does the FBI miss that, fail to relay it, and how are they held accountable?
ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL, FORMER COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, DEAN, BELMONT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW, AUTHOR, "TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE: A STORY OF SERVICE AND SACRIFICE IN WAR AND PEACE": Well, they just missed it. They obviously are bombarded with thousands of tips and leads every day and decision have to be made as to which ones to follow, which ones seem serious, which ones do not.
Obviously, there was a protocol in place. The FBI has admitted that the protocol wasn't followed in this particular case. Now, that doesn't mean that if they had followed the protocol and had checked on it that this could have been prevented but, of course, it might have been prevented.
And obviously, that's going to be examined by the Bureau and there should be some level of accountability if some people didn't do their job, quite frankly. They have job to do. We expect them to do their job and if they didn't do their job there has to be accountability.
BRIGGS: Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, should resign. Should he?
GONZALES: You know, I think we need to find out what happened here, quite frankly, I think before making those kind of statements. Obviously, those comments were made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Emotions were running high and as we -- as those emotions cool down and we have a better understanding of the facts, Gov. Scott may have a different view about this.
But obviously, we're all -- we're going to be very interested in seeing what Director Wray does in the aftermath in examining what happened and ensuring accountability. I think that will go a long way to addressing or dealing with how people feel about the director and his leadership in the Bureau.
BRIGGS: The president, of course, weighed in on Twitter saying in part, he thinks the FBI is spending too much time trying prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. This is the type of thing we often read on Facebook or Twitter, just not from the President of the United States.
Does that make any sense?
GONZALES: It really doesn't based upon my -- based upon my knowledge. Obviously, the president's privy to a lot more information than I am these days, including the work of the FBI. But, you know, the special counsel has a team that's looking at the Russian interference and so they're focused on that.
The rest of the Bureau -- the 35,000 other people within the Bureau is focused on doing their job. And so, what's going on with the Russian investigation is totally separate from what's going on in Florida and so I am unaware of how there's any kind of connection with respect to the two.
BRIGGS: OK, so let's go into the Russia investigation -- this 36-page indictment indicting 13 Russian nationals, three Russian entities, very clearly laying out exactly how they meddled in our electoral process in 2016. That appears to be the end of one road.
And at about the same time, the "L.A. Times" reporting that Rick Gates, who worked for Paul Manafort and stayed on with the Trump campaign after Manafort left, worked through the inauguration. That appears to be the continuation of some other road.
What is that and where is it leading?
GONZALES: Well, I think -- again, it's hard -- it's hard to say without really knowing what's going on in the investigation and being part of the investigative team. But one argument could be -- one road could be that Gates can put pressure on Manafort and Manafort could then be encouraged to provide additional cooperation with respect to Russian interference and possible collusion with Russia within the Trump campaign, within the Trump orbit. So that would be one possible way.
[07:40:12] The fact that these indictments came down -- I would have been shocked if there hadn't been these indictments given the fact that the Intelligence Community has been universal in saying that Russia did, in fact, meddle with the election, so that's not surprising.
I do agree with your assessment that this is not the end. I think this is just simply a continuation of the very careful methodical investigation by Robert Mueller and his team.
BRIGGS: Mueller was the director of the FBI when you were attorney general. Why is the head -- the face of this right now, Rod Rosenstein -- Bob Mueller signed this indictment but it appears to be Rod Rosenstein out front of everything for now? Why?
GONZALES: Well, it's the way that it should be done within the department. The FBI, as a general matter in this case -- Bob Mueller has sort of taken over that role -- is heading up the investigation. And then, as a general matter, the main justice -- the prosecutors are the main justice and they're the ones that do the actual announcement with respect to a decision as to move forward with an indictment or move forward with some kind of prosecution.
So, it's not surprising. That's sort of the Mueller way. He's different than Jim Comey, quite frankly. I think Mueller is much more private. I don't want to say he's much more professional, he just simply does things in a different way.
And so, the fact that he wants to avoid the limelight at this junction, to me, is not surprising whatsoever. And it is -- it's the responsibility of Rod Rosenstein to come out. He is, in fact, overseeing the investigation and Bob Mueller is reporting up to Rod Rosenstein and so, I'm not at all surprised that Rob would make that -- would make the announcement.
BRIGGS: All right. Former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, appreciate you being on this morning. Thank you.
GONZALES: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: OK, here's a little entertainment for everybody. Fergie sings the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game --
CAMEROTA: -- and you've never -- a fan, I take it?
BRIGGS: Well, it was interesting.
CAMEROTA: You've never --
BRIGGS: It was unique.
CAMEROTA: Oh, good. Well, you've never heard it like this.
BRIGGS: No, you haven't.
CAMEROTA: So, why everyone, including Dave Briggs, is talking about it today. That's next.
[07:45:57] CAMEROTA: We have an update now on the president's desire for a military parade that you'll recall. Well, Defense officials tell CNN there's growing concern within the Pentagon about making this happen.
CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now from the Pentagon with more. Barbara, what's the problem?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.
You know, the military is usually developing options to go to war against another country and these days the Pentagon's devoting some amount of time to options for a parade, and the problem is this.
What they have discovered is if President Trump really wants a full- blown military parade -- thousands of active-duty troops, their weapons, tanks, missiles, aircraft in Washington marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, flying overhead, it is going to interrupt training schedules. As one official said to me, we don't have units just sitting around waiting to go on parade.
So, there's a number of options now. That one, the full-blown parade, would be the most disruptive and it could all cost close to $30 million, by the way, so they have other options now they're working on. You know, maybe some ceremonial units, maybe some National Guard vehicles from here in the Washington area.
But there's another option out there -- a so-called multimedia display. Could you do something -- some units marching and then have perhaps some large video screens on the National Mall that people could look at.
All of this is all going to be going to the president and perhaps the most interesting thing, it is going to be President Trump who is going to decide on this option. The Pentagon will give it all to him and they're going to have him decide on what he really wants to do -- Alisyn, Dave.
CAMEROTA: Fascinating, Barbara. A video screen could work. I mean, that's --
BRIGGS: He said he wanted to bigger than Bastille Day in France. That's not good.
CAMEROTA: All right, we'll see about that. Thank you, Barbara.
BRIGGS: Massive diversion -- all right. Fergie took center stage at the NBA All-Star Game and let's just say she gave an unforgettable rendition of the National Anthem. You really have to study the faces of some people in the arena and in the game to figure this out -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERGIE (SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM AT NBA ALL-STAR GAME)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: You have never seen the National Anthem so sexy before.
CAMEROTA: What's the problem with that?
BRIGGS: Draymond Green, of the Warriors, had a good laugh, as did Jimmy Kimmel. You loved it.
CAMEROTA: Well, anything's better than having to watch the game, number one. Number two --
BRIGGS: The game was great this year, by the way.
CAMEROTA: -- Jimmy Kimmel -- look, his face said to me comedic gold. Like he was planning his monologue --
BRIGGS: He already saw it.
CAMEROTA: -- around that song.
BRIGGS: It was about 25 seconds longer than Pink's at the Super Bowl. That's not good.
CAMEROTA: That's not good.
BRIGGS: That last 20 seconds is where she may have lost me. You know who gave the worst Super Bowl -- or rather, National Anthem rendition ever was.
CAMEROTA: Roseanne Barr.
BRIGGS: Roseanne Barr. She tweeted and she said, "I think mine was better low key." Let's just be clear, Roseanne Barr will forever be the worst National Anthem of all time.
I thought it was pretty good. Just that last --
CAMEROTA: I just like watching --
BRIGGS: -- sex appeal.
CAMEROTA: -- Fergie. I was ignoring the sound of it. I just like looking at her.
BRIGGS: I can't disagree with you there.
CAMEROTA: I know. That's one thing that we can agree on.
All right, so listen to this. A second White House aide has resigned after being accused of domestic abuse. So, we speak exclusively with the ex-wife of that aide, next.
[07:54:02] CAMEROTA: Former White House aide Rob Porter's resignation over domestic violence has gotten a lot of attention. But there was another aide to the president -- a member of his speechwriting team named David Sorenson who also resigned after accusations of domestic violence.
Sorenson's ex-wife claims he threw her into a wall, he burned her with a cigarette, and ran over her foot with a car. David Sorenson denies these allegations.
Joining us now, exclusively, is David Sorenson's ex-wife Jessica Corbett. Jessica, thanks so much for being here.
JESSICA CORBETT, EX-WIFE OF FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPEECHWRITER DAVID SORENSON: Thank you so much for having me.
CAMEROTA: So, Jessica, listen, in October of 2017 -- so four months ago -- you talked to the FBI as part of a background check for your ex-husband David Sorenson, and the FBI's first question to you was why did you get a divorce.
What did you tell them?
CORBETT: Actually, the first question they said to me -- the first thing was you are a very hard lady to find. I invited him in to sit next down to me (sic) and he told me why he was there and he mentioned it for a presidential background. And he said well, I guess the first question I ask why'd you get a divorce? And I --
[07:55:05] CAMEROTA: And what did you say?
CORBETT: I thought about it for a minute and there was a friend sitting in the room and I kind of looked at her like am I going to do this, and she offered to leave and I said nope, you know everything. She just sat there silently.
But I said -- I said well sir, it was an abusive marriage and I'm just glad to be out of it. And he paused for a minute and he goes OK, well, what do you mean? And at that point, I didn't know what to say. I didn't schedule that interview. He walked in my door unannounced.
So I just played a recording for him and I said that's why I left. I just thought kind of that got the point across. And he --
CAMEROTA: A recording? Wait, I'm sorry, a recording of your ex- husband David saying --
CORBETT: It was a --
CAMEROTA: -- things?
CORBETT: It was an audio recording that had -- you know, was to be used at -- in our eventual -- it was an uncontested divorce. But yes, it was an audio recording of my ex-husband in a fight --
CORBETT: -- an argument.
And so, I played that for him because I didn't really know what to say. And --
CAMEROTA: And did you -- did you tell the FBI agent then -- I mean, the things that have come out since? That he ran over her foot with a -- your -- ran over your foot with a car, that he put out a cigarette on your hand, that he threw you into a wall. That he -- you say that he grabbed you by your hair when you were alone on a boat in a remote area of Maine.
Did you tell the FBI that stuff?
CORBETT: I did. I told them then. He kind of had a little bit of a surprised look on his face. He didn't really say much but he was -- he said OK.
And I said -- I felt guilty. I really did. I felt like, you know, I'm not out to get him and I remember going back to the FBI agent and saying that's why I'm not married to him anymore.
But he is -- he is incredibly talented. He is an incredibly talented comms professional. He's a great writer.
What -- some of the work he did for Gov. LePage on the opioid prescription monitoring program and the opioid reform, I think that that is some of the most groundbreaking legislation that we've seen in the country.
So, I would -- so -- you know, but I felt so much guilt.
CAMEROTA: Look, that's generous. I mean, it's generous of you just to point all of that out. I hear you. Of course, you felt guilt. I mean --
CORBETT: And that part of the guilt I felt in coming forward and why -- and, you know, it's why I've actually decided to just keep talking about it no matter -- no matter how many friends I lose or how bad it's hurt me professionally because I think that nothing changes the fact that he is a talented and brilliant person.
CAMEROTA: Yes, look, I -- we appreciate that you're painting a full picture.
CORBETT: Well, when asked question I was honest.
CAMEROTA: Yes, that -- you have to be honest --
CORBETT: I was honest.
CAMEROTA: -- with the FBI agent and I appreciate that you're painting a full picture. Nobody is all just one ogre or one prince.
But I'm just curious after you told the FBI all of that did you -- were you surprised that he continued to work in the White House?
CORBETT: Well, to be honest, I was a little terrified. I mean, it took a lot for me to admit that that was happening to myself, much less my closest friends. My grandmother had raised concerns to my mother and for me, at the time, I was just trying to put on a smile and tell everyone I was OK.
So, telling the FBI, I didn't know what would happen. I know a little bit more about politics and these kinds of things than the average person because it's also my profession.
However, I was terrified because our divorce had finalized, we were about to close on a real estate deal, and I thought if he gets hauled into his boss's office in a couple of days and says hey, you had all of this come up in your FBI background check from your ex-wife, we need to talk, I was afraid that he would know immediately --
CORBETT: -- that I had said something. And I was afraid that would affect the real estate deal --
CAMEROTA: Of course.
CORBETT: -- so I had contacted an attorney.
CORBETT: But, you know, I also just sort of -- I had this way of just like the marriage and everything bad that happened in it, you just put in a box and you focus all your energy on going forward.
CORBETT: And so, I just gave my interview, told the truth, and when he -- when he ended up working at the White House still, I just assumed it was a formality.
CAMEROTA: Well, here's what he --
CORBETT: I don't know anything.
CAMEROTA: I just want to get to the statement that he has put out in response. We want to read this.
He says, "I've never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life. My accuser can produce no authentic evidence, no legal record, and no witness to support her baseless and malicious claims of domestic violence on my part. In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her. Although I had hoped to never have to think about or discuss the woman
who spent years physically attacking, threatening, and lying about me and relentlessly and cruelly bombarding me with unimaginable fits of rage, this incident is an opportunity to highlight the grossly underreported and unacknowledged issue of female-on-male domestic violence."
What's your -- were you violent with him? What's your response?
CORBETT: I was violent with him, and like I've told every reporter who has contacted me, I stand by every statement I made to "The Washington Post."
He called me a very vulgar term that I think that most women in America would probably slap a stranger if she was called that word in a bar. He called me that and I slapped him. And he said look, see, you're violent and kind of smirked at me.