Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Ken Starr Responds To Monica Lewinsky's "Creepy" Comment; Father Of Slain Student Addresses President Trump; Dick's Sporting Goods Will Stop Selling Assault-Style Rifles; NSA Chief: Trump Hasn't Told Me To Confront Russian Cyber Threat. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 28, 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] KEN STARR, LED INDEPENDENT COUNSEL INVESTIGATION ON PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FORMER JUDGE AND SOLICITOR GENERAL: -- has nothing to do with collusion and the campaign. And when I look --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it does if you find out that because of what has happened and transacted in the past, there were opportunities in the mind of Russians or Russian actors to go at the campaign to try to get things.

STARR: Well --

CUOMO: And then you look at -- you know, it is a little suspicious, Ken, that you have a man who doesn't stop for a second. If he doesn't like something that you say right now there's a good chance he'll take a shot at you, but never Vladimir Putin. Never a cross word for Vladimir Putin.

You have to -- you know, you have to --

STARR: Oh, listen --

CUOMO: -- admit that that is --

STARR: I have been saying almost from day one, let's get the truth out about Russian interference and let's blow that whistle and then take the appropriate action. I completely agree with that.

We've got to protect this country. We've got to protect our democratic process. So whatever happens in business dealings and so forth, there should be an iron curtain that comes down because you're now the President of the United States.

Russia has, in fact, done something that is incredibly dangerous to our democratic society. Not so much that it supported a particular candidate -- they were supporting Bernie Sanders, they were supporting Jill Stern (sic). They're to sow discord within the American people.

CUOMO: They were trying to hurt Hillary Clinton. They were trying to help those who were against her, nominally Trump, maybe some others as well. We know that part.

STARR: Well, no -- but, Chris, that's one way of looking at it. But another way of looking at it is on the very same day -- this is in the indictment -- they supported an anti-Trump campaign -- a rally and a pro-Trump rally. These are just really malicious --

CUOMO: Right.

STARR: This -- and by the way, I think that that indictment was a shadow indictment of Vladimir Putin because of the connection with the oligarchs, the Saint Petersburg --

CUOMO: Somebody's got to do something to stop it from happening --

STARR: Absolutely.

CUOMO: -- again.

We just heard Rogers say that the president hasn't directed him to do anything in retaliation. I don't know how that makes any sense. We'll see what gets done in that. That's not your purview.

Let me ask you something else while I have you. Twenty years -- we're coming up on the Lewinski anniversary. Did you see Monica Lewinsky's latest piece that she wrote about all this?

STARR: Excerpts were read to me. I still haven't seen it, yes.

CUOMO: Now, the personal aspect for you to respond to is she does not explain your initial meeting with her in flattering terms to you. She says it was creepy. She didn't like the way you touched her and that, you know, it was a weird thing for her.

What do you remember about that meeting?

STARR: I found it pleasant, but poignant. I had very little to say. She did most of the talking and I found her to be very pleasant.

She introduced me to her family. I was waiting for my family members because it was Christmas Eve. We were headed to church. She was coming in, we were going out.

It was a very brief encounter. Pleasant, but poignant.

CUOMO: Now, when you --

STARR: I said I wished her well.

CUOMO: When you look back on it 20 years later, do you feel that that investigation went to the right places that it should have?

STARR: Yes, it did, and it was authorized by the attorney general of the United States. We --

CUOMO: How so?

STARR: She specifically said in light of the Linda Tripp tapes this has to be examined. This is Janet Reno who was appointed, of course, by Bill Clinton.

CUOMO: Yes.

STARR: And she said -- and she goes to the court -- the special division -- and says this has to be investigated. What's the this? Perjury and possible influencing of witnesses, which is what we investigated.

Now, if -- when you look back, I just wish the president had not committed perjury and I wish the president had also settled the Paula Corbin Jones lawsuit because, Chris, I was trying to go to Pepperdine University and become dean of the law school. I did not want -- I did not want this.

CUOMO: Because you were painted -- you know how you were painted. You're painted certainly --

STARR: I read it.

CUOMO: -- by people in the center and the left. You've been reported and written on many times that you wanted this. You were looking for things.

STARR: Untrue.

CUOMO: You were trying to get them in there.

STARR: Absolutely untrue. I had left -- or announced that I was leaving in 1997 to go become dean at the Pepperdine law school.

CUOMO: Let me ask you one other thing. And again, outside your purview but relevant from your perspective.

Everything we're talking about now with #MeToo and --

STARR: Yes.

CUOMO: -- the need for systemic change, not just bold-faced names.

STARR: Right.

CUOMO: And whether or not women can consent -- people can consent in certain situations.

STARR: Yes.

CUOMO: When you look at Lewinsky and Clinton do you think the argument could be made yes, obviously, she was, by age, able to consent. But do you believe consent was even possible for her in the context of that relationship?

STARR: I think it's a very hard question because she was an employee. Now, she was an intern --

CUOMO: Sure. STARR: -- but it was the employment relationship that, I think as we're all seeing, that gives a power structure arrangement to it which I think is very -- I think it's very difficult.

You have to be extremely careful, treating all people with dignity and respect, period, but especially in the employment relationship and where you do have a power structure. So -- but that wasn't what we were looking into.

CUOMO: True.

STARR: We weren't looking into employment issues.

CUOMO: Right.

STARR: We were just looking into whether there was an obstruction of justice, perjury, and the like.

CUOMO: And one good change that we've certainly seen culturally from then is you'll never see someone who is was arguably the victim in a situation like that get treated the way Monica Lewinsky was.

[07:35:05] STARR: Yes.

CUOMO: Not these days.

Ken Starr, appreciate your perspective on this. Helpful in helping people make judgments about what's going on in this investigation going forward.

STARR: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Always value to have you here.

Alisyn, back to you in Parkland, Florida.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris.

We're five minutes away now from the school bell going off here and we see the sidewalks are just flooded with kids all coming together, locking arms. So many of them are in their burgundy and white school colors that say "MSD Strong."

Obviously, they love this high school. They have tremendous school spirit but they also recognize that they are going back into a crime scene.

So we are watching now as a huge gathering of kids has formed outside of the makeshift memorial where they've hung souvenirs and mementos of all their loved ones that they lost.

Up next, we have a father who has to send his son back to this school where his daughter was killed. We'll all remember Fred Guttenberg from our CNN town hall. We talk to him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: OK, about one minute from now the bell will ring for classes to resume here for the first time in two weeks at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This, as students are streaming back in. They're all returning to their classes after the massacre here two weeks ago.

One of those lost was Jaime Guttenberg. Her brother now must return to school today.

You'll all remember Fred Guttenberg. He's Jaime's father. He joins us now and you'll remember him from the CNN town hall because you were the person who confronted --

FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM JAIME GUTTENBERG, SON ATTENDS STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Good morning. Thank you so much, Fred, for being here.

And you were the person who confronted Marco Rubio at the town hall. What action -- what has happened in the past two weeks that you've seen change?

GUTTENBERG: Little. The Florida legislatures met this week.

CAMEROTA: They seem to be doing things.

GUTTENBERG: They took some minimally acceptable first steps -- very minimally acceptable. There's a lot more to do. So hopefully, they can get together and put together a bill that the governor will sign.

[07:40:10] You know, at least it will change the age, the 3-day period. There was almost a little poison pill thrown in there with this whole martial plan effort to arm the teachers.

CAMEROTA: They're trying to get money for 10 teachers at every school to be trained and armed.

GUTTENBERG: And I've made my feelings on that as a solution known. I think that it's such a diversionary poison pill in this effort. It is an unproven way to go knowing what happening in this school.

I've spent more time talking to the kids who lived through the shooting than most of the folks up in Tallahassee where they're trying to figure out what to do about it --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GUTTENBERG: -- and they'll tell you it would have been a terrible idea because you had no way to know who was being shot at. And the teachers, they would be -- they wouldn't have the level of arms that the shooter did. It's a terrible idea.

CAMEROTA: How are you feeling as you watch your son walk back into this school today? GUTTENBERG: Well, I'm not scared because this is now the safest school in America, but bittersweet. My son walks in here without his sister. My daughter's friends walk in there -- they used to always walk in with my daughter and I just saw them all before and hugged them, and they're walking in there without her.

This is not what we envisioned for ourselves watching our kids go through high school and bittersweet is the only way I can described it.

CAMEROTA: Today, Dick's Sporting Goods made an announcement of changes. Tell me what your thoughts are?

GUTTENBERG: I am so proud and happy to hear that news. No more assault weapons, no more high-capacity bullets. Nobody under 21 can buy a gun.

This, to me, is what America is all about. It is -- it is people taking steps in the -- in the -- in the face of a crisis. What it also tells me is this event was different and people are not going to stand still and they're not going to go away.

Listen, I have been relentless online going after Amazon and Apple because they will not end their business relationship with the NRA and specifically, Amazon selling these weapons still. And I have dropped my Amazon membership and everyone I know has dropped theirs, and online they continue to do so.

The flip side of that is I will be going to Dick's Sporting Goods today to buy something because you know what? I am so proud of them and so happy that they are taking a voluntary step to make our kids safer, to make all of us safer in any public facility, and I couldn't be happier. Thank you and congratulations. What a step.

CAMEROTA: Look, you've been very vocal. You have been very activated since this happened. You're not going to have let your daughter have died in vain but it obviously comes with a huge cost.

What has it been like for you?

GUTTENBERG: I'm exhausted, you know, and I say that only because I went right into this process. It so angered me, what happened, that I immediately kind of turned into an activist. I mean, 13 days ago I was just this guy from this amazing neighborhood here in Parkland and now, I can't stop what I'm doing because I don't ever want another parent to go through this.

Anybody who says I come to this with an agenda, anything but. My only agenda is what can we do to make our kids, our families safer -- that's it. It's exhausting, it's emotional.

I watch these heroic kids do what they're doing to take on this lobby and to just demand their safety and that gives me strength, but it's been a rough couple of weeks.

CAMEROTA: Of course, it has. And we know that your son and your wife, of course, are also still struggling. How's he feeling as he goes in today?

GUTTENBERG: He's bittersweet but he's got this amazing group of friends that had their arms wrapped around him for the past two weeks and they're going to continue to do so. And it really held him up and I love those kids. They're amazing.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful.

GUTTENBERG: Can I address something that is happening?

CAMEROTA: Very quickly.

GUTTENBERG: There's been threats against some of these kids --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GUTTENBERG: -- and their families.

CAMEROTA: Yes, online threats and beyond. Go on.

GUTTENBERG: I'm hoping the president, today, who -- a lot of folks want to talk about this as situational violence and threats that were ignored leading to it, so we can't ignore what's going on. And I need our President Trump, today, to address it publicly and demand that everyone who's making these threats stop.

But I also am hoping that right now as we do this interview, the FBI and Broward sheriffs and all the other investigative agencies out there are investigating these threats and are initiating arrests.

[07:45:03] This community has been through trauma.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GUTTENBERG: We can't have additional trauma in this community. And since we know the situational aspect of this is part of it --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

GUTTENBERG: -- we need to make some -- we need to get something done. We can't have that going on.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great point. Don't let threats go unheeded anymore.

GUTTENBERG: We know they're out there. Investigate --

CAMEROTA: Yes, thank you.

GUTTENBERG: -- and Trump make an announcement.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for being here. We'll be following everything --

GUTTENBERG: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: -- in the weeks to come.

All right, back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. You just heard Alisyn mention a big change for Dick's Sporting Goods. Are others going to follow suit by banning assault-style rifles? We have details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: We're following breaking news.

CNN learning Dick's Sporting Goods is going to stop selling assault- style rifles. We're told the retailer will no longer sell high- capacity magazines and that Dick's won't sell any gun to anyone under the age of 21, regardless of local laws.

Edward W. Stack, he is the chairman and CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods. He's going to join us live in our next hour to make the case for why this is the right move for his business.

President Trump up and tweeting just moments ago about his quote "big victory" on his signature border wall saying quote, "I have decided that sections of the wall that California wants built now will not be built until the whole is approved.

[07:50:10] Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed. Our country must have border security!"

The win comes from a judge that the president repeatedly attacked during the campaign. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruling the administration can waive environmental laws and other regulations to begin a construction process. One -- and here's the key here -- that Congress has yet to authorize, OK, and that's where the win would come.

You'll remember, Trump slammed Curiel in 2016, claiming the judge's Mexican heritage made him biased in the class action fraud lawsuit against Trump University. That case was ultimately settled.

All right.

So, the head of the NSA says Trump has not given him the go-ahead to combat Russian cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns. This is highly unusual and it raises the question will any security measures be taken before the midterm elections? We know the Russians want to meddle.

We ask Senator Tim Kaine, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The Trump administration is facing a new round of criticism for its lack of response to Russia's election interference. This comes as the NSA chief had this exchange before a Senate panel yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: You would need basically, to be directed by the president or the secretary of defense to --

MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Yes, sir, as I mentioned that in my statement.

REED: Have you been directed to do so given the strategic threat that faces the United States and the significant consequences you recognize already?

ROGERS: No, I have not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Joining me now is Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Good to have you, Senator. Thank you for joining us.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE, MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Absolutely, Chris.

CUOMO: What was your level of surprise to hear Mike Rogers say no, the president hasn't asked me to do anything to combat Russian cyberattacks?

KAINE: Well Chris, I was shocked but not surprised. I'm on that committee as well so I was in the room.

I asked Admiral Rogers -- I said, look, don't you think we have been humiliated as a nation? We probably lost the first cyberwar that we've been in with a foreign adversary. And he acknowledged it and said we did not view the electoral system as critical infrastructure we needed to protect.

[07:55:02] But then you add to it, OK, are you -- have you been directed now to protect it? His answer was no and that's why mayors and governors around the country who have to operate elections don't have much confidence that the federal government is acting to protect the American democracy.

CUOMO: Why isn't it happening, in your opinion?

KAINE: There's not been a direction from the commander in chief to any of the relevant agencies to provide the level of protection that we need.

Admiral Rogers, yesterday, stressed look, I'm an operator. I need direction from the top to do things and elections are matters that states and localities run.

Claire McCaskill then jumped in and said you can't tell me that the Missouri secretary of state is equipped to go up against Russia in the cyber realm and defend an election. We've got to have federal help, either from the DHS or the DOD.

But the head of our cyber command, Admiral Rogers, who's a dedicated professional, says he has not been given any directive to do that from his commander in chief or superiors.

CUOMO: Now, the pushback you'll get is well, we don't need new direction. We've -- we do so much every day. This is ongoing war. Just because the rest of you have woken up to the reality doesn't mean that the Intelligence Community, and the DOD, and the Pentagon haven't been all over this for a long time now.

Do you believe that's a fair pushback?

KAINE: I don't believe it's fair and I don't think Admiral Rogers believes it either.

I asked him -- look, we failed. The history of 2016 as the U.S. was humiliated by a foreign adversary we failed to protect. I said the U.S. government failed to protect the U.S. democracy.

And I asked Admiral Rogers what is the source of that failure and he basically cited two problems. He said first, we did not view the electoral system as critical infrastructure.

CUOMO: Yes.

KAINE: We protect the electricity grid, we protect financial institutions, but the government wasn't protecting the electoral system.

And the second thing he said, and this was telling -- he said we underestimated the adversary. We thought when we told them we know what you're doing, don't do it anymore, that they wouldn't persist, but Russia persisted. And there's a painful lesson there but we're not yet acting to try to put into place what we've learned as a result of this failure.

CUOMO: All right. Let's go to another category of things not getting done.

Dick's Sporting Goods pulling high-capacity magazines off the shelf. They already took action after Newtown.

KAINE: (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: We see other corporations stepping up to make changes they think are in line with their ideas and their business model. We see states stepping up.

My assertion is this. We will not see you guys, in Congress, do anything meaningful when it comes to guns. Prove me wrong.

KAINE: Chris, I'd like to prove you wrong and I'm certainly -- I'm certainly doing my part in voting for things I think are reasonable. I'm a gun owner and a Second Amendment supporter but I support reinstating the assault ban -- the ban on assault weapons --

CUOMO: Will it happen?

KAINE: -- that we had in the place in the 90s.

Well look, I introduced the bill yesterday but right now, there aren't the votes for it. I do think there is a new opening to get comprehensive background checks done and universal background --

CUOMO: What's comprehensive mean?

KAINE: Universal background checks --

CUOMO: So all sales covered.

KAINE: Absolutely, all sales covered -- gun show, private sales, sales through registered dealers which are already covered. So we need universal background checks and we need full entry of data into the NICS system so that background checks can stop prohibited individuals, dangerous individuals from getting weapons.

When you see even the Florida governor or others -- Republicans starting to say we need to do this now, there is an opening in Congress. And frankly, the opening has been created by the passionate and energetic advocacy by these young people -- these students who are basically forcing us to look in the mirror and they're saying to us what's more important, the lives of your kids or political contributions?

CUOMO: Well, we both know -- and I don't think this is cynicism. I think it's just reality. Conscience isn't going to drive change in Washington, D.C. Consequence is going to drive change.

If, at the polls, people get rewarded and punished for what is done and not done now that will be the mandate that is adhered to and we'll have to see what happens in the midterms.

Let me ask you about one other thing.

KAINE: Yes.

CUOMO: There is an opportunity to help spouses of people serving in the military. How so and what are you doing about it?

KAINE: Chris, I have been having roundtables with military spouses for the last year or so. Introduced a bill a few weeks back to give these military spouses the ability to find employment quicker. The unemployment rate among our military spouses is three to five times the national average.

And so, we need to provide them more training, more opportunities on bases, the ability to use educational funds to get credentialed in the new states they move to.

And yesterday, I also introduced a bill with Senators Boozman and Tester, bipartisan, to extend tax credits that are given to businesses if they hire veterans to also allow that tax credit to be accessed if they hire military spouses.

CUOMO: Good -- good for you. That's something that both sides should be able to get around.

KAINE: For sure.

CUOMO: So many people talk the talk about supporting the troops but they don't walk the walk. They do not get the help and the benefits that they deserve.

So, Senator, thank you for being here. I hope you prove me wrong.

KAINE: Absolutely, Chris.

CUOMO: I hope that you guys --

KAINE: We're going to try to.

CUOMO: -- take the mantle and do something that will stop these shootings. Be well.