Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Vows Forceful Syrian Response; Lawmakers Grill FaceBook CEO; Trump Slams FBI Raid; Embattled EPA Chief Pruitt; Democrats Discuss Impeachment; Tax Cuts to Widen Deficit. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET
Aired April 10, 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] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: 1973 to find a different way to have a president have to report. And now many of your colleagues in both parties are relying on that in the AUMF and saying, so the president can do what he wants. I don't see the legal argument for that. I don't see it in those two pieces of statutory authority.
My question to you is, you raise a lot of interesting issues. Shouldn't you guys have to debate and own whatever course is taken as an extension of your constitutional authority and one that has been frankly punned on for several administrations now?
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Yes. Unconditionally, yes. But we don't have to do in an adversarial way. I think you --
CUOMO: No, I'm just saying debate and vote so that the people who put you in office can say, I know what he knew, I know what he did and now he will be weighed and measured, because that hasn't happened. Not in the last one. Not when Obama went to Libya. Not what we saw with -- way back with Clinton. You guys keep punting on this. Will it be different this time?
KENNEDY: I think you're right. But -- and it -- but it starts with the facts and we really do need a classified briefing about what's going on, on the ground, what was Putin's involvement? Was the ayatollah involved? Do we want to overthrow Assad? It doesn't look to me like that's our objective. We were told our objective is to get rid of ISIS. Is ISIS gone? I mean these are fair questions --
CUOMO: Fair questions.
KENNEDY: For us -- for us to work through with the president.
CUOMO: Yes. Absolutely.
KENNEDY: Congress certainly has a role.
KENNEDY: It doesn't have to be adversarial, nor should it.
CUOMO: That's right. But it should be open and transparent and you should be on the record. KENNEDY: Absolutely. Look --
CUOMO: That's all I'm saying.
KENNEDY: Look, at some point -- at some point the president is going to have to give an address to the nation and say, let's talk about our involvement in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen, in terms of the Iranians. Here's where we are. Here's why we're there. Here's our objective. Here's how long right now it could change. We think it will take. The American people deserve to know that.
KENNEDY: We've spent -- money's not everything. But we have spent $6 trillion, a third of our debt --
CUOMO: It's true.
KENNEDY: Since 2001. And those are very fair questions to ask.
CUOMO: Right. Well, and I'm more concerned about the American blood. You've got thousands on the ground there right now. We'll see which way that process goes and we'll stay on it very closely.
Let me ask you quickly about FaceBook. Do you believe heading into these discussions that there is a chance that coming out of them, depending on what you hear, you will push for regulation of FaceBook and other entities like it?
KENNEDY: I hope we don't need to, but it's possible. I come in peace. I don't want to have to regulate FaceBook. But clearly our digital promised land has minefields. Look, FaceBook is big and powerful. I'm not against big. I'm against dumb. And right now it's FaceBook first and people second. I think it ought to be the opposite. I think it ought -- people make FaceBook for (ph) money. And I think FaceBook has an obligation, moral if not legal, to protect our data and to -- and to stop the spreading of poison on the Internet.
Now, that raises another question, what's poison? You get off in the First Amendment issues. But what I want to hear from Mr. Zuckerberg today, I don't want to hear, I'm responsible. We know he's responsible. I don't want to be lobbied by Mr. Zuckerberg. He's welcome to visit with me, but I just want to him to -- hear him say three words, I'm on it. Here's what I'm going to do. Here's -- I will come back in six months and tell you what I have done. And I'll come back in six months after that to give you another progress report.
CUOMO: OK. All right.
KENNEDY: This isn't going away.
CUOMO: All right. Understood.
Senator Kennedy, always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you for making the case to the American people.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I like quoting him for the rest of the day, I'm against dumb, he said.
CUOMO: I'm not against big, I'm against dumb. So big and dumb, that's tough. I've been living that way my whole life.
CAMEROTA: That's a bad combo. That's -- that's --
CUOMO: I took that from you. That's right.
CAMEROTA: No, all right.
Coming up, we'll get a Democratic senator's reaction to the FBI raid.
[08:37:07] CAMEROTA: President Trump slamming the FBI and the Justice Department after his personal lawyer's office and hotel room were raided.
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. He's on the Judiciary Committee.
Good morning, senator.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: You tweeted out something that I want to check you on. You say Trump will have sleepless nights over Cohen getting jammed up, flipping and cooperating with special counsel or the southern district of New York. Crime fraud exception, Trump's attorney-client privilege and lawyer can testify under subpoena in criminal proceedings.
It sounds -- when you say he'll get jammed up and he'll possibly flip, I mean, are you saying that Michael Cohen could be facing jail time?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, they're obviously looking for proceeds of a crime. The search warrant had to do with -- he was the center point of all of that, his office, his residence and so forth. There is every reason to believe that Michael Cohen is the subject or the target of this matter. If Trump were the target, it might have stayed with special counsel. The fact that this moved to the southern district of New York suggests a different target.
And, of course, if they do have him on criminal charges, that has to be the big danger for Trump, that to save his own skin, Cohen will flip and now you have somebody in the inner most inner circle who is cooperating with federal authorities. And, yes, I think that will probably keep Trump up late at night.
CAMEROTA: But you're making a few leaps of logic here. I mean we just don't know, maybe you know, but we don't know exactly what they found. You've suggested that Mueller must have found evidence of records hidden or destroyed.
WHITEHOUSE: That's the reason.
CAMEROTA: As you know, President Trump and Michael Cohen say that they've provided and produced thousands of documents from this investigation. So what makes you think otherwise?
WHITEHOUSE: Because the ordinary practice in the Department of Justice is to get records from lawyers through a subpoena. It takes a special showing to actually get a search warrant raid on a lawyer's office. And the customary usually reason for that is the worry that either disclosure has been incomplete or inaccurate, or that there's a risk of documents being destroyed. It's the most common reason why a judge would authorize a search warrant on a lawyer's office instead of having the government pursue a subpoena consistent with the U.S. attorney's manual guidelines.
CAMEROTA: So does this make you think that the Mueller's investigation has shifted into a different gear or department?
WHITEHOUSE: I think this the biggest move related to the Mueller investigations since Michael Flynn cooperated. I think this is potentially a very, very big deal. You have the person closest to Trump in terms of a fixer, a lawyer, and a keeper of the secrets who is now very likely in the way of a criminal investigation into his own conduct. It disrupts his relationship with the president now that he's at risk of cooperating with feds and has his own personal interests involved in this.
[08:40:12] And it's easy to foresee a chain of events in which he does, in fact, get jammed up. There is evidence of criminal charges. To save his own skin, he does cooperate with the federal investigators, and now they have a window into that inner circle of President Trump. It's that series of prospects that I suspect will give him sleepless nights.
CAMEROTA: OK, next topic. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. You've written a letter to the inspector general. What most troubles you about what you've seen with Scott Pruitt?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, you know, the funniest thing, it's like the elephant in the room that nobody's talking about. The biggest scandal about Scott Pruitt is that the guy is not in his government office to do his public job. He's in his government office to be the tool of a highly regulated industry that wants this agency off its back, and he is their agent and their operative. That's kind of the big scandal in all of this. And instead of pursuing that, we're looking at all these personal scandals.
But I think we should always keep our eye on the fact that this is not a guy who is there to do his government job. He is not there to do his duty. He is not there to serve the public. He is 100 percent the operative of the fossil fuel industry and every step he takes there is intended to disable the public interest wherever it conflict with the interest of the fossil fuel industry. The fact that he likes living like a king, the fact that he likes
driving around with sirens, the fact that he likes this weird, you know, cone of silence telephone that he has to have, there's a lot of things that's very bizarre about the way he is handling that office and is giving, I think, Republican colleagues a lot of discomfort.
But the big thing, and the thing that we aren't talking about enough, is the fact that he's basically there not to serve us but to serve Exxon and the Koch brothers.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, you're talking about policy. Obviously the president likes the policies that Scott Pruitt is rolling back regulations. That's why he selected him. But that's a topic for another day.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, we're out of time. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, so there's all this hot talk about, well, what would happen if the president did make a move to remove Mueller? What would happen if he tries to stop this investigation? Well, do we think that there's any chance that this Congress would impeach the president? A lot of talk about that. Is it too soon? And is it too unlikely? Let get "The Bottom Line" from David Axelrod, next.
[08:46:32] CUOMO: All right, there's talk, there's talk out there, mostly from Democrats, saying that, hey, impeachment may be where we're headed right now if the president were to move on Bob Mueller. Really?
Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.
What do you think, Axe? What's the chance of that?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Slim. But I think if he did move on Mueller, it would create a huge problem for the Republicans. Right now I think this push for impeachment could be a problem for Democrats because I don't think that the swing voters in this election are clamoring for Democrats to convene next January and begin an impeachment proceeding. If he moved on Mueller, I think the problem would shift to the Republicans, because I don't think they'd act at the end of the day and I think that would create enormous problems for them at the polls in the fall.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting because we had Jeffrey Toobin on earlier who laid out a scenario by which if the president were to fire Mueller, there's actually a way that the investigation does evaporate. The wheels of the investigation could grind to a halt.
CAMEROTA: And then maybe impeachment does go away. You know, then the Republicans and the president just continue on and --
AXELROD: Jeffrey -- Jeffrey has a particularly dark view on all of this. I don't think it will go away. I think too much investigating has been done. There's too much information known. There are people under indictment. I think this train is rolling. It's very hard to -- hard to stop it now.
CUOMO: I mean in the Nixon situation, they wound up getting another counsel in there who continued investigating, obviously.
But, you know, Senator Kennedy from Louisiana was just on.
CUOMO: And he made an interesting point where he said, look, if he were to do something like that, then we would have to own it. And I wonder if it's not about whether they'll vote to impeach him, it's whether they'll go to him and say, if you were to do this, you would put us in an impossible --
AXELROD: I don't think they want to be in that position at all. And I think you're going to see not just Senator Kennedy -- I thought that was a really interesting interview because he was clearly sending a signal. I think others are going to do the same.
The question is, how will the president process that, because clearly he's of a mood now that I'm tired of the experts, I'm tired of being told what to do on all fronts and he's going on his own. Will he go on his own here and act on his impulse, which would be to remove Sessions or remove Rosenstein as a way of curbing this or even forcing the removal of Mueller. It would be a cataclysmic event but it -- I would -- I wouldn't eliminate it as a possibility given his mood.
CAMEROTA: But back to impeachment for a second because I'm sure you hear Democrats talk about it all the time and do you tell them, that's wishful thinking. You're getting ahead of yourself.
AXELROD: I have. I've said it publicly and I've said it privately. I think that if they -- I don't think that Democrats should be running on impeachment. I don't even think they should be running on Trump. That's implicit. They're going to get that tailwind. They should be running on those issues that are important to people in their community.
Take a cue from Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania. Take a cue from Jones in Alabama. That's the formula for Democrats to win competitive districts.
CAMEROTA: OK, that -- and so you're saying be -- run to the right. Be moderate.
AXELROD: No, not necessarily.
CAMEROTA: Or run to the center. These are not liberals that you're talking about.
AXELROD: On -- yes. But I'm saying, run for and with your community. Be of your community. Don't make it a national race. You're going to get that tailwind. But what people want to know is, are you going to represent me?
AXELROD: There's a lot of frustration with Washington. They want to see people who are going to be productive.
CUOMO: And in your book you say -- what's that book called again?
[08:50:00] CUOMO: Thank you.
AXELROD: Yes, thank you.
CUOMO: That midterm elections are often misunderstood as simple negations of the administration, when really it's about a counter narrative and being for something. Even in 1994, it was about the contract with America. It wasn't just about anti the Democrats. The Democrats have to be for something, give people reason to believe.
AXELROD: Absolutely. And there are a lot of things that are troubling people in their lives about the economy and this rapid change. Democrats need to say what they're going to do to address these kinds of problems.
CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, great to talk to you.
AXELROD: Always good to be with you.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.
So, a new economic outlook by the Congressional Budget Office is raising eyebrows today. Why could we be facing trillion dollar deficits? That's next.
CAMEROTA: It's time for "CNN Money Now." The Trump administration promised its tax plan would pay for itself, but a new report finds the tax cuts will make the federal deficit soar.
Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our money center with more.
What have you learned, Christine?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I mean these numbers are simply terrifying. The U.S. budget deficit will widen significantly over the next few years. This from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the CBO. The deficit, of course, is how much more the government spends than it brings in. And the CBO says it will hit a trillion dollars by 2020, two years faster than it projected just months ago.
[08:55:01] So what has changed here? Well, those tax cuts and a $1.3 trillion spending deal, the biggest ever. The CBO says both have significantly reduced federal revenue. The Trump administration promises tax cuts will pay for themselves with economic growth and the CBO says, yes, they will spur growth but only in the short-term and not nearly enough, you guys, to offset the full cost. The result, the national debt will soar nearly matching the size of the U.S. economy by 2028. That's the highest level of any year since World War II. And economists worry that will spark a crisis by driving up interest rates, tanking stock prices or slowing economic growth.
It really takes away the flexibility, you guys, of the government to be able to respond to a crisis when your interest payments take priority over, say, paying for your military.
CAMEROTA: That's a bleak report you've just laid out there, Christine.
ROMANS: Sorry to say, but, it is.
ROMANS: But, you know, the irony about here -- of this too is that Republicans are the party of cutting deficits and budget control.
CAMEROTA: They were.
ROMANS: And that's not what's happening in this particular case.
CAMEROTA: Christine, thank you very much.
Remember that, when they were -- when Republicans were priding themselves on being deficit hawks? Remember --
CUOMO: And now you're hearing it from the Democrats. Why? Because that's what you do when you play to advantage. When you have the purse strings, you use them for goodies. That's why what they just did budgetarily-wise, the last one before the midterms, is where they're going to spend the most of your money to try to impress you with the election. Don't forget it.
All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman picks up right after this break.
[09:00:11] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here.