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Trump to Remove McMaster; Putin's War on America; Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired March 16, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities releasing surveillance video that captures the school resource officer, Scott Peterson, standing outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the massacre. The video shows Peterson talking into a radio handset on his shoulder, then appearing to move on a golf cart, and finally taking up a position outside the building.
After the shooting, Peterson said through his attorney that he was not sure where gunshots were coming from. But dispatch audio disputes that. Peterson resigned after being suspended. Seventeen people were killed in the school during that attack.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Defense officials fear there were likely fatalities following a crash of a U.S. military chopper in western Iraq, near the Syrian border. Rescue teams are on the scene at this hour. Now officials tell CNN the Pave Hawk helicopter was carrying seven people, but it was not on a combat mission. There's also no sign that the chopper took any hostile fire.
CAMEROTA: OK, so 11,000 miles and two days later a dog, mistakenly flown by United Airlines to Japan, is reunited with his family in Kansas. The Swindle family happy to have their beloved German shepherd, Irgo, back after this airline screw-up that sent him halfway around the world. The Swindles were given a Great Dane instead of their dog. United has apologized and returned the Great Dane to his family. Irgo and his owner will join us live in our next hour. The dog is knocking over the toddler, but they're happy to have him back.
CUOMO: Right. So you're going to have to do that interview. Who knows what's going to happen with that dog.
All right, so a new book shedding new light on President Trump and the Russia investigation. The authors are here to tell us about the moment the president heard details of that infamous Steele dossier.
CAMEROTA: Plus, victims of sexual harassment speaking out and pushing for change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a feeling that we're not crazy. This isn't one network. This problem is system wide.
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CAMEROTA: OK. So one group's plan to make their voices heard across all industries. We'll tell you that, next.
[06:36:15] CUOMO: All right, so the Special Counsel Bob Mueller's subpoena of the Trump Organization is a strong sign, maybe the strongest sign yet, that Mueller's probe could be widening. Why am I qualifying it? Because we don't know. We don't know why he's doing it and there are lots of different choices.
Our next guests, though, however, have a really good head on what's going on with the Trump/Russia relationship and the investigation. They have a new book. It is called "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."
I have it in my hand. That makes me a lucky man.
Joining us now are the authors David Corn and Michael Isikoff.
It's good to have you both.
DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, "RUSSIAN ROULETTE": Thanks for having us, Chris.
CUOMO: Let me put your heads to the news of the day. What do you make of the notion that H.R. McMaster has fallen into disfavor, that there is an aspect of the dysfunction in the White House at play here, and that he will be on his way out. Do you buy that?
CORN: Yes. But I think that's true at any moment in time for almost anyone with Trump. That's --
CUOMO: So he's not special?
CORN: Well, I think --
CUOMO: You don't think he's in any special jeopardy?
CORN: I think he might be. But the thing to remember with Trump too is that that can change at any moment. If everybody in the media says, oh, Trump's getting rid of McMaster, that might be enough for Trump to say, well, I'm not going to do that now. I don't care what people think.
So he's so erratic that any decision he makes is subject to change, whether it's on talking to North Korea, the gun laws, and the people close to him. But I -- you know, I assume he's dissatisfied with everyone around him because the last thing he can do is blame the guy at the top.
CUOMO: So do you think that this is some kind of sign that what looked good about the generals early on to Trump, as odd as it was for our democracy to have, you know, military leaders put into such interesting civilian positions, that they are not agreeing with him enough and that that is going to create a rub?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, AUTHOR, "RUSSIAN ROULETTE": Look, this is government by reality TV show. This is, you know, this is Trump's world, you know? What was his signature show? You know, you're fired, "The Apprentice." This is what he likes to do. Chaos is his world. And, you know, the -- it shouldn't be a surprise that a guy who lived in chaos, you know, ran his organization in chaos, made chaos his signature on a reality TV show, you know, brings that to the White House, right?
CUOMO: And, look, it may be all he knows is that context because he's never run a big team ever in any capacity.
ISIKOFF: Right. Right.
CUOMO: Except arguably casinos.
ISIKOFF: Never answerable to a board of directors.
CUOMO: That's right.
ISIKOFF: It was always his company. He could do whatever he wants.
CUOMO: The casinos were really the only major operations. And we know how those went.
CUOMO: The idea of Mueller dropping subpoenas on the Trump Organization.
CUOMO: This -- I'm not spending time on the Trump says it cross a red line because that's just like Trump saying I may sit down with you if you end the investigation at this date. It doesn't work that way.
CUOMO: He doesn't call the shots on this.
CUOMO: So, put that to the side.
But do you think it's an indication that this is about buttoning up the counterterrorism aspect of this, or do you think it could come from the arises out of part of his purview, which means there may be time left here in this investigation?
CORN: Well, I think this investigation is going to go on for a while. The Iran Contra investigation goes on for a while. You know, the counsel spent almost six, seven years working on that. So I see no reason to believe that we're coming to any conclusion soon.
And one of my least favorite cliches is, you know, you see the tip of the iceberg. But I think with Mueller, is very appropriate. We have no idea what he's doing. He has surprised us from time to time again. The fact that he's going after business records in the Trump Organization, those dealing with Russia, maybe those dealing with other things, shows me that he is serious. If he sees anything out there, anything out there that looks untoward to him, he's going to look.
And in the book actually we give --
CUOMO: There are three or four chapters going on here.
CORN: We -- yes, but we have -- we have -- yes, there are a lot of things that we could advise him on in terms of subpoenaing, but we explain why he would be interested in Trump organization records.
[06:40:03] CUOMO: So let's go Socratic, Michael.
CUOMO: Why do I need to add this to my bookshelf? I already know that there's been no proof of collusion.
CUOMO: And if there's no proof of that, none of this matters. It's just a political witch hunt. Listen to the president.
ISIKOFF: Well, look, if you want to understand why Mueller is doing what he's doing with the subpoena, I mean I can direct you to the chapters, starting with chapter one.
Look, at the -- at the center of the investigation, one major incident was the notorious Trump Tower meeting. Who set up the Trump Tower meeting? It was Emin and Aras Agalarov. Aras Agalarov is the billionaire Russian oligarch who was known as Putin's builder, who Trump partnered with, first on Miss Universe, then in building -- in the plan to build that first Trump Tower project in Moscow.
So if you want to understand the relationships that Trump has with these people, you have to go back and look at that. And we do that in great detail here.
And, as we discovered, there was more to those relationships, more to that project than the public knew. And --
CORN: And it's important to know that the contact from the Russian government to the Trump campaign, to Don Trump Junior, to Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, came through the Agalarovs. This business partnership that Trump had had for several years.
So just -- you know, I can see several different subpoenas just regarding that. And then, in 2015, there's another Trump Tower deal with a company that we discovered in Russia has some very shady owners and offshore companies in Cyprus. We still don't know what that's about. Trump has never explained it, never talked about it publically --
ISIKOFF: And that was while he was running for president.
ISIKOFF: You know --
CUOMO: So the timing is relevant.
ISIKOFF: Not known to the public.
CUOMO: All right, so another aspect of a hot-button issue that was in here. The Nunes memo says, yes, there is intrigue with Russia and this investigation. But it flows through that dossier.
CUOMO: And that was about the Democrats and then bad surveillance through the FISA courts based only on the dossier. That's all they used to go after Carter Page.
CUOMO: What did we learn?
ISIKOFF: Well, we learned that -- first of all, there clearly was a lot more to it. Carter Page was on the radar screen of the FBI long -- well, before -- well before that dossier was even written. All, you know, you don't have to -- all you have to do is look at the Democratic response and you see there was a lot more to that FISA warrant.
But, you know, even based on what Carter Page has said, and he said a lot of contradictory things, and the e-mails that have become public, he did have meetings in Russia, in Moscow, while he was there, that he then relayed to the Trump campaign, talking about the insights he had gotten from senior Russian officials while he was there.
And why was he there in the first place? He had just been named by Trump to his foreign policy advisory report. And then right after that he gets this invitation to go speak in Moscow. This was a sign of what was the Russian attempt to penetrate the Trump campaign, which was real and serious.
CUOMO: So we get a sense of the connection between what could be correlative or also what could be causative in terms of that dynamic. Gotcha.
CORN: Yes. And you can see that there was a degree of collusion by the Trump campaign reaching out to Russia through Page and through George Papadopoulos at the same time that Russia was attacking the United States.
CUOMO: Right. Now whether or not that's a crime, we've got to see what Mueller can put on those bones.
CORN: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO: But provocative questions. And you keep looking at the book when you answer the questions, which is think is very indicative eye language that will help people think they need to see what's in this.
CORN: There's a lot there.
CUOMO: "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."
Michael Isikoff, David Corn, gentlemen, thank you very much.
CORN: Thank you, Chris.
ISIKOFF: Thanks a lot.
CUOMO: Thank you for being here.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, now to sports. The first major upset of March Madness, busting brackets everywhere, I'm told. Details in the "Bleacher Report," next.
[06:47:42] CAMEROTA: The first full day of March Madness now in the history books, and it's already busting brackets.
Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."
How's your bracket looking?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's all right. I've got a good story for you, though, Ms. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: I'm all ears.
WIRE: There are upsets everywhere. Like 13th seed Buffalo taking down 4th seed Arizona and potential Cinderella teams seeing if the slipper fits, like 11th seed Loyola-Chicago with a very special helper in their matchup with 6th seed Miami. Ninety-eight-year-old Sister Jean, team chaplain for the Ramblers for over two decades, praying with the team before the game. She said they told God that he -- they would do their part if he did his. Praying for an upset. And with time running out, it was Donte Ingram, buzzer beater. Hail Mary backed by faith and a lot of hard work by those kids from Loyola. Prayers were answered. Miami and the entire sports world genuflecting, showing reverence in the presence of competitive greatness and showing respect to Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean, who is an early favorite for tournament MVP.
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SISTER JEAN, LOYOLA-CHICAGO TEAM CHAPLAIN: When we were in the locker room ahead of the game, we just knew that we would do this. Our team is so great and they don't care who makes the points as long as we win the game. And I said, we were going to win the big -- get the big "w" up there, and we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Chicago natives everywhere showing love for the Ramblers, including former President Barack Obama, who tweeted, congrats to Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean for a last second upset. I had faith in my pick, he says. That was Loyola-Chicago's first tournament game since 1985. They have Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
CUOMO: Well, did the president have Loyola-Chicago in that game?
WIRE: Apparently he did. I did not go check his bracket.
CUOMO: Wow. That was some pick because he's now far ahead of a lot of the rest of us.
All right, Coy, appreciate it.
CAMEROTA: That was a good story, Coy. Thank you.
CUOMO: That is -- there will be a lot. This is an unusual tournament. There's an unusual amount of parody in this tournament. You're going to see a lot of that.
CAMEROTA: I'm going to check my bracket as soon as I figure out where it is.
Special Counsel Bob Mueller subpoenaing the Trump Organization in his Russia probe. How is it all weighing on the president? We'll ask Maggie Haberman, next.
[06:53:59] CUOMO: Special counsel's Russian investigation sending a subpoena for documents to the Trump Organization. So, how is this move and the probe overall affecting the president?
Let's discuss with CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman.
Good to have you here.
What is the overview of what this means on a daily basis, what this development means specifically?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The broader picture is that it's pretty clear that not only is this not going away, but it is moving closer to the president. You can't move to the Trump organization to look for documents. Let's say even if nothing actually happens, nothing really gets produced, nothing matters, that is still very hard for the White House to say this has nothing to do with us. These are people, you know, who were attenuated campaign officials, who really didn't -- that's what they have said over and over and over when people have been indicted or when people have obstipated (ph) guilty, number one.
Number two, it just adds another pound to the president's sort of mental weight on this issue which we know eats at him on a daily basis. His legal team had kept him calm about the Mueller investigation for most of 2017. And by calm I mean not that he wasn't tweeting, there's no collusion, because we obviously saw that, but by not going after Robert Mueller, the special counsel, specifically by telling him it was going to wrap up by December or soon after. This subpoena does not suggest that that is any time soon. We're now in mid-March.
[06:55:24] Privately folks will say they expect it will last until at least mid-summer and probably later than that. And so I think that the longer this goes, the more you are going to see the president frustrated by it, especially as we get close to a midterm election where the climate is not expected to favor Republicans.
CAMEROTA: Do you know what Robert Mueller is focused in the Trump Organization, not the administration, the organization?
HABERMAN: We don't. I mean, look, it's important to stress what we don't know. I mean we -- a, we do not know whether this means that there is some broad look at the Trump Organization.
CUOMO: It could mean --
HABERMAN: It could --
CUOMO: That they're buttoning up the counterterrorism aspect because --
CUOMO: You know, look, as -- this doesn't look good. Of course not. Subpoena.
CUOMO: I mean under punishment in the law. People see it that way, although a pretty basic tool.
HABERMAN: But it's -- but it's legal. And the legal -- we don't know --
CUOMO: It's certainly legal, but it could be buttoning up.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: Or it could be reaching out. If it's under that arises from aspect of the special counsel's purview --
HABERMAN: That's right. That's right.
CUOMO: Then you could have a long road into messing with Trump's money and where it's come from.
HABERMAN: Correct. What we do know about the subpoena is it included a number of search terms. Among those search terms was Russia. And our understanding is that one of the things that Mueller's team is looking at is this Trump Tour Moscow project that Michael Cohen, his former counsel, had been looking into developing. It was dropped at some point I think around December 2015, maybe slightly before or slightly after. Again, we don't know where that leads. But that does not lead to a place away from the president.
CAMEROTA: In July you sat down with the president, along with your colleague, Michael Schmidt (ph), of "The New York Times," and you asked the president about sort of what the red line would be for him. So here's a moment of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": If Mueller was looking at your finances or your family's finances, unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?
HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. Yes, I would say, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK, so you were basically asking, if Mueller looked into your family's finances or your personal finances, would that cross the line for you.
Now, it sounded to me -- I mean you were there, correct me if I'm wrong -- that you sort of introduced that concept to the president.
HABERMAN: We did.
CAMEROTA: So he -- OK, so he was mulling, pardon the pun, that as he was answering it for you.
CAMEROTA: So --
HABERMAN: My -- our understanding, though, was that he had mulled it prior to our entering the Oval Office.
CAMEROTA: OK. Because --
HABERMAN: I don't think it was the first time he had thought about it.
CAMEROTA: I mean I think that -- of course that stands to reason --
CAMEROTA: But he was sort of like, yes, I think so. He wasn't a definitive yes, that would cross a line for me.
HABERMAN: Well, but as you know, this is a president who tends to leave a lot of things open ended. For him, almost everything is a negotiation. And so I think that he was trying actually -- that was him trying not to answer the question. That was not him being uncertain.
CUOMO: Yes, because what's the difference whether or not they originated from him or originated from his own head? He had been talking to people about how he better not come too close to me.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CAMEROTA: So do we think that this is --
HABERMAN: It could be. I mean I can't --
CAMEROTA: Closing in on that?
HABERMAN: Again, because I don't know the specifics of what they are asking for in terms of financial documents, I am hesitant to say this would cross what the president has described as his personal red line. Certainly the Trump Tower Moscow project gets to a financial aspect. The question is, and I've never been clear on this, how much Trump actually knew versus how much was this Michael Cohen pursuing a deal. And I think that -- I think this is going to -- to go to that area as well.
But, look, it depends what else we learn about this. What was interesting was the Trump Organization's lawyer saying yesterday, this is old news. This is not old news. This is a new subpoena. Now, there might have been previous subpoenas that we are unaware of. They certainly have had a lot of document requests. But it is notable that this was a subpoena and not just a please turn this over.
CUOMO: Right. And, in truth, if they're looking for a lighter touch on this, I am told the president is being counseled that he can't not go to the Trump Organization and do a complete investigation.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: He had to do this.
HABERMAN: They have said that to him, right.
CUOMO: That he's doing it late, you know, assuming this is late in the process -- HABERMAN: No, that's right. That's right.
CUOMO: Is a good sign because it means it's not one of the -- what the big branch, you know, is for them of this investigation. But he had to do this.
HABERMAN: But they also acknowledge a lot of his advisers privately at this point that they really don't have any idea.
HABERMAN: I mean they are basically advising him on best case scenario. And best case scenario is, it would be malpractice if Mueller did not investigate x, y, z. And that is true, but that doesn't mean that it is not of note and it doesn't mean that that is where it ends.
CUOMO: There's only one way for the president to know and it's such a Hobson's choice. If he sits down with the special counsel --
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: He will have all his questions answered about what is in this about him. But that is a big role of the dice.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, stick around. We have many more questions for you.
We want to thank our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
[07:00:02] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision to remove H.R. McMaster has been made by the president.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president and General McMaster are continuing to work together.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This president is also looking at other people in this administration.