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GOP Shut Down House Intel; Cohen Given Inside Info; Cruz and O'Rourke Face off In Texas; Olympian Adam Rippon on Olympics. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You. You're the person who's been doing these -- listening to all of these interviews and gathering all of the evidence. But it doesn't sound like they're only focused on collusion. It's also obstruction of justice. Have you found any findings on that?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: You know, we're -- we really aren't looking at that. I think we're looking to Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, to look into that. I don't think that we're, frankly, equipped to do that. We're not a bunch of attorneys. And that's a more technical issue. The charter of the committee was to look at how Russia interfered in our elections and how we preclude that from happening in the future.

Once again, Eric is a friend of mine. But I think he's an example of one of these individuals who would like this to keep going, who would like to keep telling this story, collusion, conspiracy and love for that to happen through the midterms. But, again, there just hasn't been evidence developed of that. To be fair to the process and to be fair to these people and the American people, let's get our report out and tell them what we've known. If something more comes up after that, I think all of us would be willing to look at that additional evidence. But let's tell the people what we know at this point.

CAMEROTA: As you know, there have been lots of complaints of leaks coming out of your committee.


CAMEROTA: Primarily Republicans complaining that Democrats have been leaking, and even the president has been complaining that some of the Democrats on your panel have been leaking. But it looks like, at least from our CNN reporting, that this is a bipartisan leaking effort.


CAMEROTA: So here is what Manu Raju, our reporter, has just reported. Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was provided secret information about House Intelligence Committee testimony from another committee witness, a sign of growing discord engulfing the Russia investigation, according to a source with direct knowledge of this matter.

STEWART: Yes. CAMEROTA: Are you going to look into who has slipped Michael Cohen some secret information from your committee?

STEWART: Yes, of course we would look at that. I can tell you, I'm a little skeptical on this report. For one thing, I don't think there's anything that we could report to this -- to his attorney that would be helpful or even informative to him.

But we have been concerned about leaks. Oh my gosh, how many times have I said this is inappropriate? Look what happened to Hope Hicks last week. I mean she was set up. And it really was a setup. To where she was asked a series of questions that she couldn't give a possible, honest answer to without that being able to be cast in a negative light. And it was only minutes after that, that someone sitting in that room had gone out and talked to the media and said, look, Hope Hicks is willing to lie for the president. That's just one example.


STEWART: Everything that we know about this investigation, which is a lot, has essentially been leaked.


STEWART: So what --

CAMEROTA: So what are you doing about that? I mean, listen, just to put a finer point on the one that Manu Raju is pointing on, is that this witness, David Cramer (ph), one of the witnesses who came before your committee, complained to your committee last month that someone leaked info about his testimony to another witness, namely Michael Cohen, it sounds like.


CAMEROTA: So are you looking into these leaks?

STEWART: Well, again, we are. But there's -- there's little we can do. All we can do is look at each other and look at our staff and say, don't do this. It's inappropriate. It's probably illegal in some cases. It's unethical. It violates what many of us think is a trust within the committee that we do our work behind closed doors. There's a reason we don't do this before the cameras.

We can do more serious work -- we can do better work if we're not grandstanding for the cameras. And, you know, every time I come on your channel, others, I have to think carefully, don't say this, don't talk about these things, be careful in what you say. Some people are trying to do that. But, unfortunately, and I'm not saying it's never happened on the Republican side. I think probably it has from time to time, although the vast majority, to just be honest, has been coming from the Democrats because what's leaked is very often damaging to the president or to the investigation. But, look, it's wrong for any of us to do this.

CAMEROTA: OK, Congressman Chris Stewart, we appreciate you coming on NEW DAY. Thank you so much.

STEWART: Thank you. Good morning.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So the midterm season is upon us in elections. It starts with Texas. They had their primary. What does it mean for Democrats? They have some tea leaves to read now. How did they do in Texas? Republicans in the state came out in record numbers as well. We've got RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel joining us, next.

CAMEROTA: But first, one woman's journey from recovery from sexual assault led her to yoga. And now she's using it to help other survivors heal. So here's her story in "Turning Points."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yoga has helped me feel comfortable and confident in my own stick. It's sort of given me my own unique form of self- expression.

I am a sexual assault survivor. I use yoga to help sexual assault survivors heal.

I never imagined the years of disconnect that I would feel from my own physical body. I was overwhelmed. I felt isolated. I experienced things like flashbacks, nightmares. I needed something that would allow me to feel like I could regain power and control of my body. That's when yoga came into my life.

[08:35:03] I knew I wasn't alone. That there were other survivors. I wanted to create a program that spoke to the language of the body. So I developed this eight-week trauma informed Yoga is Healing program.

Trauma informed yoga is essentially an empowering yoga practice and an opportunity for survivors to come together in community. And we can breathe together. We can move together.

Unfortunately, the impact of the trauma doesn't end with the assault itself. Yoga has really helped me navigate what is often times a very lifelong process of healing. It's like a survivor sisterhood.



CUOMO: Midterm election season is upon us. Yes, it's true. It began in Texas with the primaries last night. We saw Republican Senator Ted Cruz easily advance. He got over 80 percent of the vote. The Democratic congressman who will challenge him will be Beto O'Rourke. He won also, though not by the margins that Cruz did. Turnout on both sides was way up.

[08:40:14] Joining us now to talk about the implications is RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Good to have you.

RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: So big numbers. The senator agreed with the metaphor that, yes, you saw a big blue wave, but it crashed into a red wall.

MCDANIEL: Exactly. You had record Republican turnout. We kept hearing about this unprecedented Democrat turnout in Texas and then Republicans showed up in droves yesterday. Senator Cruz's votes doubled those of Beto O'Rourke. You saw Governor Abbott, his total votes double -- or was more than the votes of the two Democrats combined. So Republicans had a great showing in Texas.

Listen, Texas is a Republican state.

CUOMO: Right.

MCDANIEL: They're low taxes. They care about limited government. This is a state that I travel to a lot. They support this president. They support what's happening in Washington, more jobs, deregulation, lower taxes.

CUOMO: Democrats have not fared well. It is impressive that you see their numbers coming up there despite the fact that they don't have really realistic chances of winning. Do you think that that may be a signal that you'll see communicated differently in states where there is more of a chance for a Democrat?

MCDANIEL: So we know historically that that first midterm of a sitting president, that the opposition party has a high turnout. We've seen that in these special elections. We've been preparing for that at the RNC, recognizing that Obama lost 60 seats in his first midterm, Clinton lost seats. I mean this is where -- where the historical trends are.

We want to defy history and we have something to run on. Look at where our country is. Look at the results of Republican leadership, 3 million jobs, record unemployment, the deregulation. Ninety percent of Americans are seeing bigger paychecks because of the tax cuts. So we're going to have something to run on. Democrats right now are struggling to find a message. Their only message is, let's defeat President Trump. We want to run against President Trump. But they're not putting forward a vision for the American people.

CUOMO: Well, it is true, look, you know, except -- I would agree with you except for what we just saw in the last election, which was driven by so much negativity and that being harnessed by then candidate Trump. He's in a different situation now. He's got some benefits on his side with incumbency effect.

But it does seem, for you, you have a problem that the president does not, which is, who are you guys? Are you Trump and Trumpism, or are you your own party and the conservative and traditional notions of the RNC, because even on immigration you saw a split, on tariffs, huge split, on guns, huge split, even on DACA, huge split. So is the party going to start accepting and pushing candidates to be more like Trump, or are you going to have a party plank that will be different than the president is on a number of issues?

MCDANIEL: So, Chris, we're going to do something revolutionary. We're going to let the voters decide who gets to represent them in the states that they're running in. The Democrats aren't doing that. They've seen the folly of that. You saw this in the seventh district with the DCCC coming in and saying this is the candidate. And the voters came in and -- for Lauren Moser (ph). And now you're going to have a run-off. It doesn't work well when Washington goes into states and says, this is who we picked to be your candidate. And look at Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for that matter. We let the voters decide.

We have differences within our party. We are a big tent party. We welcome a dialogue. It makes our party stronger. But what we know is Republican governing is making our country stronger. We have more jobs. Our economy is better. Our military is stronger. So things are going well with Republicans in the majority.

CUOMO: But there's a zigzag effect going on and I wonder if you're concerned about in primaries did not work out well for the man who primaried Ted Cruz clearly, but are you worried about seeing Trump folk primary traditional Republicans in primaries?

MCDANIEL: I want to see the Republican base, which includes the Trump base, which has brought in new voters into our base. I saw it in Michigan. We need them to turn out for these congressional candidates. That's my -- my biggest concern is harnessing --

CUOMO: But what if they don't agree with the Trump positions? What if you have somebody whose --

MCDANIEL: Well, the --

CUOMO: You know, even Ted Cruz, I mean, really, if you looked at it on paper, he won't talk about bump stocks, he won't talk about universal background checks. The president's talking about both of them.

MCDANIEL: Because it's so --

CUOMO: So what if you have a candidate come forward and say, I want Trump's positions, you either echo them or you're gone?

MCDANIEL: It's OK to have a party with different positions within the party. That's OK. The Democratic Party is the one in lock-step with the litmus test and you have to be all in line or we don't accept you. It's -- when you have a two party system, you're going to --

CUOMO: Really? Seems like there are a bunch of cats in that party right now. Like, I don't -- I don't -- I don't know. I mean maybe the true Democrat Party of old, but I would have said the same thing about the GOP of old. I think you may have similar challenges.

MCDANIEL: Well, look at -- they won't support pro-life candidates. Look at what they're doing to Dan Lipinski in Illinois. They won't -- they won't support an incumbent. Look what they did the Oklahoma mayor's race.

Listen, they have a litmus test. If you are not in lockstep with the Democrat orthodoxy, you are not supported by the national party.

[08:45:08] The Republican Party lets the voters decide who is best to represent them in their community. Voters in Texas are going to probably pick different people than voters in New York would pick, or Oregon or Michigan. And that's good for our democracy.

We have a two-party system. There should be diversity within the parties. We're going to have a dialogue.

But what I can say now is, with Republicans in charge, we have more jobs, our economy is better and we want to continue that comeback because wages are going up and people are seeing more money in their paychecks. I don't think voters are going to vote against, in November, having more money in their paycheck.

CUOMO: Well, it's true. It will be about who's getting it and how much. And that's part of the campaign season. And we will be on it every step of the way. And you're welcome here to make your case to the American people whenever you want.

MCDANIEL: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right, be well.


CAMEROTA: OK, so fresh off the winter Olympics and the Oscars red carpet, figure skater Adam Rippon had quite the year. He joins us next on NEW DAY.


CAMEROTA: All right, he's gaining fans around the world after making history as the first openly gay man to compete for the U.S. at the winter Olympics. Adam Rippon's beautiful routine also brought home a bronze medal for Team USA.

[08:50:10] And Adam Rippon joins us now.

Great to have you here in studio.

ADAM RIPPON, U.S. OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: Well, thanks for having me, you guys.

CAMEROTA: What's this little tchotchke that you brought? It's heavy.

RIPPON: Well -- it's heavy, isn't it? Yes. It's just a little tchotchke I picked up at the airport. Something easy.

CAMEROTA: It's really attractive.


CAMEROTA: Look at that.

RIPPON: It's heavy, right?

CUOMO: I feel more talented already.


RIPPON: You look it actually, actually.

CUOMO: Well, I can only go up. I'm old, young man.

Let me ask you, as proud as you were for this, you worked a lifetime for this --

RIPPON: I did.

CUOMO: And, here, it should be yours.

RIPPON: Thank you.

CUOMO: You decided to make a statement on a very big stage, both on the ice and off. How proud are you of that as well?

RIPPON: I think that when you have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics, you're given this really incredible platform. The whole world is watching. There are a lot of young people watching. And I think that you almost have -- I felt a responsibility to speak up for people who I felt may not feel that they have a voice. And I feel like at this time, especially in this like political climate, that it's really important to speak up for things that really matter to you.

You know, I was asked a few questions and I wanted to answer them really honestly. Like I said, this platform is really incredible. And I think it's a time right now where you need to really speak up and be that voice.

CAMEROTA: And so just in case anybody doesn't know the back story. You criticized Vice President Mike Pence for his stance on gay rights. And is it true that after that the vice president reached out and wanted to have a meeting of some kind with you and that you turned that down?

RIPPON: That is true. And that was two weeks before the Olympics. And, you know, I've waited an entire lifetime to compete at the Olympic games. And this came out after I did an article on what were my thoughts on Mike Pence leading the U.S. delegation. And I'm pretty sure Mike Pence didn't know who I was an hour before that article came out. And that he wanted to meet with me right after, I thought was -- that's fantastic that this article has got his attention. But it wasn't the right time.

CAMEROTA: How about now?

RIPPON: Now is the right time. The Olympics are over. And I mean what I said, and I agree with so many people that you don't get to make any sort of change if you don't try to at least reach across and have the opportunity to speak. CUOMO: What conversation would you want? What would be the goal?

RIPPON: You know, the conversation -- I don't really have anything personally to say to Mike Pence. The conversation isn't for me. It's for people whose lives have been changed by legislation that he's pushed.

Before the opening ceremonies, he tweeted at me and he said, I want you to know that I'm for you and I'm for all the Olympians, which I think that's great. But I don't believe it, because when I go home, are you still for me? Are you still for other LGBTQ Americans? Are you still for that trans man or woman that wants to join the military? Are you still for that lesbian couple that wants to get married? That's where I feel like the tweet is almost disingenuous.

CAMEROTA: But you'd be say -- you're saying that you would be willing to sit down with him now and talk about all of this?

RIPPON: Yes, I would.

CAMEROTA: But you have the -- have you made that clear to the White House?

RIPPON: You know, I've -- I've made it clear --

CUOMO: He is on national television right now.

CAMEROTA: Well, maybe he's making it clear right now.

RIPPON: Right. You know, I'm making it clear that I would really like to have that conversation because I feel that I still have this Olympic platform and I'd really like to use it to kind of -- I don't think that these are like gay issues or LGBTQ issues solely. I think these are human rights issues. And that there's so many LGBTQ Americans out there that feel that they aren't being heard or they aren't represented.

CUOMO: So you now have to figure out what you do going forward. You're so young. You have so many possibilities. You have so much stardom and fame around you now. And you went to the Oscars.

RIPPON: I did.

CUOMO: The outfit got some attention. I was shocked. I happen to have the exact same one. So it was a little odd.

RIPPON: I actually modeled it after your looks, yes.

CAMEROTA: It's under his suit. Yes.

CUOMO: It's a little odd. I'm a little different in the midsection some would suggest. But this got a lot of talk. And you knew that it would. What was the play here?

RIPPON: You know, I worked with the incredible Jeremy Scott (ph), who's a little crazy, and I'm also a little crazy. So it was a perfect match. And I wanted to do something a little different. And I just thought I looked really cool. So I --

CUOMO: Of course you did.

CAMEROTA: You did. Now it wasn't the full-on harness. It was just --

RIPPON: No, you did ask me that, yes.

CAMEROTA: Because I'm worried about how uncomfortable that might have been sitting through the Oscars.

RIPPON: Thank you so much for being worried about --

CAMEROTA: You're welcome. Worried about your harness.

RIPPON: Yes. No, I was good. It was just up top. Like just no brace or anything. I -- you know, I was good.

CUOMO: Biggest star who came up to you at the Oscars?

[08:55:00] RIPPON: I met Sean Mendez (ph) --


RIPPON: Yes, which is great, because I think that he's --

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's your celebrity crush.

RIPPON: Yes, because he's really cute. He's super nice, too.

CAMEROTA: I see that you still have the celebrity crush.


CAMEROTA: All right, if you don't mind sticking around, we'd love to have you, because we're going to do something that we do every day here call "The Good Stuff."

RIPPON: I love that. I love "The Good Stuff."

CAMEROTA: It's good news.

CUOMO: And you are the good stuff.

So here's today's offering. Two young sisters from Ohio, they team up to bring joy to people who need it. We want you to meet Paisley (ph) and Cammy (ph). You see what they're doing there? They're ripping into boxes. What's inside them? Party supplies. Not for them, but for homeless kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any kind of age you should always be cared and loved.


CUOMO: Kids sound like that.


CUOMO: The sisters came up with the idea to throw birthday parties for kids in need after seeing a story on the news.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I didn't have a birthday, I would feel like no one loved me. And I really want them to feel loved inside.


CUOMO: Now you have competition for America's sweetheart.

RIPPON: I don't know. Those girls are very cute. I think that they're -- they're pulling up ahead of me.

CUOMO: There's always a next generation.

RIPPON: There is. There's always somebody younger and cuter, isn't there?

CUOMO: We wish you well.

Well, maybe younger.

CAMEROTA: We just proved it.

CUOMO: But you've got the cute market cornered. And we wish you good luck going forward.

RIPPON: Thank you so much. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

RIPPON: Oh, thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Best of luck in the future.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman will pick up after this quick break.

CUOMO: Berman had broken dreams of being in the Olympics.