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EPA Chief Grilled; Diamond and Silk Testify; Closing Arguments in Antitrust Trial; Parts Unknown Visits West Virginia. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 27, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:37] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers grilling EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. It I think it would be fair to say he kind of got a little sauteing. He got a little -- he got a little bit of browned on each side. I don't know about grilling. But it was about his ethical scandals that have been plaguing his tenure. Did he accept responsibility or did he just displace blame? And should he really be seriously scrutinized as to whether or not he is fit to serve?

Let's ask Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

Good to see you. It's been a long time, congressman. You doing well?

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I am. Glad to be back on. And good to see you this morning, Chris.

CUOMO: Thanks for taking the opportunity.

So the EPA administrator, he seemed to dance a little bit. It's not me, it was my staff. I didn't know. That doesn't seem to be true in every case. He had to back off that defense when it came to some of the salary bumps that he was giving. Do you think he acquitted himself well or do you have concerns?

KING: Well, I read the material on it. I didn't get to see the interview. So there's a lot of things video wise that you see when you watch body language and you listen to voice inflection. But I think that he covered himself fairly well. I don't think he came out of there unseared, as you might -- as you described in your opening. But it's this, the standards have been raised to a place here that I would say to the Democrats, you better remember how you're conducting yourselves today because one day you might well be back in the majority and trying to -- trying to confirm and sustain appointments to the cabinet for a Democrat president. And if these standards are applied to the next presidency, it's going to be really hard to get anybody to serve in the next administration.

CUOMO: Well, you know what they say? They say, if anything, they're applying standards that you guys set the standard for a couple of administrations ago.

But let me play you a little taste of what happened with Pruitt and you give me your take on how this held up under scrutiny.

Go ahead.



SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: And you didn't know that they got these large pay raises?

PRUITT: I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday.

I was not aware of the amount, nor was I aware --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the amount, were you aware of the raises?

PRUITT: I was not aware of the amount, nor was I aware that -- of the bypassing of the PPO process not being respected.

I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the actions.

HENRY: And you didn't know that they got these large pay raises?

PRUITT: I did not know that they got the pay raises until yesterday.


CUOMO: But he did know. So he had to back off of that. And you know the old Latin expression, (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), I catch you in one lie, I have to believe that you may be lying about all similar allegations. Your take?

KING: Well, I'd like to hear what Scott Pruitt has to say about the allegations that he did know. I don't know that. And so I would want --

CUOMO: Well, that's what he seemed to suggest right there, congressman.

KING: Well, I --

CUOMO: Which was now -- it was just the amount he didn't know. He knew about the move to raise the pay, but he didn't know how much.

KING: Well, and as I understood it from the article I read, that he had given that -- that authority to his chief of staff. And so that's why he didn't know the amount. I can understand that. I've been in that position myself. Although I sit down every year with my chief of staff and go through that. I could easily say to her, why don't you take care of that because I trust you. That's what a chief of staff is for.

CUOMO: But he -- no, I hear -- I hear about abdicating, you know, delegating dues, rather, and trusting your people.

KING: Well, I wouldn't say abdicating. Delegating is right.

CUOMO: No, no, abdicating's the wrong word. Delegating. Abdicating would be too strong, unless that's what he wants to use as his defense, because he wound up admitting to something he didn't initially. That's the point.

And the larger point is, this guy's got a lot of open investigations for questionable use of taxpayer dollars. And you say Democrats should be concerned. Can you imagine what you would do if he had a "d" next to his name instead of an "r" and there was a $43,000 sound proof booth going to be put in his office? Steve King would be hopping up and down so mad you'd be having cantaloupe calves.

KING: I'm wondering how angry Robert Menendez is right now and how indigent he might be that these questions are being asked --

CUOMO: He was tried -- he was prosecuted and tried. There's a difference.

KING: And now subject to the Ethics Committee of the United States Senate. And they didn't come down on him in the same way that the jury did. They came down on him much harder, I think, in the United States senate.

CUOMO: Yes, they did. And he's a Democrat. And now we have a Republican up here and everything's, well, wait and see. Does it smack of playing a little to the partisan instead of to the peoples' needs?

KING: This whole arena is political, Chris. And, you know, it was Chuck Grassley on the floor of the United States Senate that sent a message to the Chief Justice Roberts that said, our confirmations will cease to be political when you stop making political decisions in the court. And so the whole thing is political and we have to thread it all

together and figure out, in the end, it's we, the people, that are sovereign and the people will decide -- they'll decide in the elections, they'll decide with their public opinions. And, in the end, we have to trust that.

[08:35:15] What I'm concerned about is, often the culture gets moved in the wrong direction because they're not really getting the objective truth through the media.

CUOMO: Well, congressman, I disagree with you about that.

KING: I thought you might.

CUOMO: You know -- well, look, do you want to put that on me? Do you think that I don't tell people how it is.

KING: No, I didn't -- I didn't mean -- I didn't mean that directly, Chris. I --

CUOMO: Well, but, I'm saying, I've got to defend myself and what we do here, otherwise Alisyn will give me a crack in the jaw, and rightly so, because we --

KING: She can handle herself.

CUOMO: We -- the more the better. She's been carrying me like a sherpa for years. There's the confirmation.

Is that dandruff? Did you just pull a -- did you just pull a Macron on me?

So let me ask --

KING: Take it easy on him, Alisyn.

CUOMO: Let me ask about something else while I have you. And now I'm self-conscious too. It actually works, that technique.

CAMEROTA: I got it. I got it.

CUOMO: Thank you. So it's probably a little bit of my breakfast.

Let me ask you this. I'm not joking around here this morning.

So did you waste my money with hiss hearing with Diamond and Silk yesterday? They weren't victims of FaceBook. You have to know that. The facts make it clear. Why spend taxpayer dollars talking on this issue with these people?

KING: There are a whole number of reasons why that wasn't a waste of money. One of them is, everybody in there was paid on staff. If we could have been doing something more important, perhaps you could make that argument. Otherwise, no --

CUOMO: There's nothing more important than talking to Diamond and Silk about what didn't happen to them on FaceBook.

KING: They put a message out yesterday that couldn't get out any other way.

CUOMO: Which is what?

KING: If you -- well, the message is that, yes, their message -- their message is their FaceBook and their Twitters and the -- and the YouTubes have been suppressed by algorithms. I know that's true.

CUOMO: How do you know it's true?

KING: And I --

CUOMO: FaceBook says it's not true. I have a whole timeline here that shows it's not true.

KING: Well, of course -- of course they would. I have the data that came to me from Jim Hoff (ph), the gateway pundit, and I would have like to have had him as a witness yesterday because I thought he had the original information, he had the most definitive and the most expansive information on it. He tracked those sites for a number of conservative organizations. Those spots are all in the record --

CUOMO: The conspiracy-advancing blogger, the gateway pundit, that's who you want to rely on as your source?

KING: No, I would never describe Jim Hoff that way. I would describe him as a --

CUOMO: Then you would be describing him inaccurately.

KING: As an objective conservative pundit, yes, but not a conspiracy- advancing one. But they -- he put it -- put out objective data.

CUOMO: Wait a minute. Hold on a second. What -- what do you call picking the wrong Vegas shooter, who just happens to be a Democrat?

KING: I would say that occasionally people do make mistake. And that would be true of you and me.

CUOMO: A mistake -- a mistake assumes that you had no intention to deceive. That it was innocent.

KING: Yes.

CUOMO: The idea of pushing that Hillary Clinton is unfit to serve because she has some mystery malady, what about that? What a coincidence, advanced by the same person.

KING: I would -- I would say that -- that was a judgement call. A speculative judgement call on what evidence was available to him at the time. But, additionally, if you bring Hillary into this, and she's been (INAUDIBLE) completely --

CUOMO: Boy, are you forgiving. I wish you were my priest, Steve.

KING: She was -- she was judged by a completely different standard in the arena that we're in today. I'm watching these cabinet members being raked over the coals time after time while the obstructionists don't want to see the Trump administration implemented --

CUOMO: She had an FBI investigation into her that the director of the FBI decided to tell the American people about twice.

KING: Oh, my God. But, Chris --

CUOMO: Yes, sir?

KING: The FBI director wasn't in the interview with Hillary Clinton on July 2nd of 2016.


KING: Neither was the attorney general. And neither did they want to tell us even was who -- who was in the room. And there was no video. There was no audio. There was no transcript. And the notes are confidential. They got a 302 report that said, well, we're not going to -- we're not going to indict Hillary at -- off the recommendation of Peter Strzok. I mean this thing -- and, by the way --

CUOMO: No, it wasn't just off the recommendation of Peter Strzok. He was involved, of course.

KING: Partly, at least.

CUOMO: But there was more to it than that. And James Comey, a lifelong Republican, right, who then left the party because he wanted to be seen as impartial when he did his work at the bureau, says no prosecutor would have brought the case.

KING: That's what he said.

CUOMO: And we haven't had any facts come to light that make that obvious falsehood.

KING: But no prosecutor -- Chris, no prosecutor would leave the chief of staff and the attorney counsel, who is also in an investigation, in the room with Hillary Clinton during that period of time. And so Cheryl -- Cheryl Mills was in the room with Hillary Clinton, giving advice and counsel while she was a subject of the investigation.

CUOMO: I get the -- I get the -- I get the history, but it's a little bit -- and I get what your general point is --

KING: But they -- but they raided Trump's attorney and cracked attorney/client privilege and they give the privilege to Hillary Clinton to have her keep a staff --

CUOMO: Well, but you just heard the president -- hold on a second. The president just said he's really not his attorney. He only did a very little tiny, tiny, tiny twice, the president said, percentage of his legal work, which is exactly the theory of the government, that really this is about Cohen's business dealings. So, really, if you want to be sensitive to going after the president's lawyer, you should talk to the president, because he doesn't seem to own that sensitivity because he doesn't see Cohen that way based on his latest statement.

But I just want to finish on one thing, congressman.

KING: Sure, Chris.

CUOMO: I'm looking at the timeline of what happened with FaceBook. Diamond and Silk say they were never contacted except through Twitter. It's just not true. It's demonstrably false. You guys didn't question them about that. You allowed them to play to the theory that they were censored by FaceBook, something was done that was wrong.

[08:40:14] I have the proof in my hand and proof that is readily available to you if you want to read it and consider it, that that's not what happened. FaceBook has issues. There's a legitimate case to make that there should be regulation, that you guys should be jumping on more that you're not. A conversation for another day.

But why put them out there and use them as proof of a victimization that is demonstrably false? Why do that if what you want to do is strip the politics out of these kinds of situations and get back to the legitimate business of the people.

KING: Chris, I have a completely different view on this, but I will examine your information and I'd ask you --

CUOMO: Well, I'll send it -- I'll send it to you. I didn't -- I didn't even make it. It's --

KING: Yes, and, I will. I'll read it and I'll comment publicly on it. But I'm going to ask you to also examine mine. The information that I introduced into the record yesterday --

CUOMO: From the gateway pundit?

KING: Yes, the charts that are there. These are -- these are charts. It doesn't matter whose fingerprints are on them. Facts are facts. They don't care about whose fingerprints are on the facts.

CUOMO: The gateway pundit is an arbiter of facts? Come on, Steve. Come on. I mean you just know that that's --

KING: Now, wait a minute, you can't just reject everything he does because you disagree with him on one story.

CUOMO: I don't take him seriously enough to check it. That's why I'm concerned that a member of Congress wants to enter in what he's talking about into the congressional record.

KING: You look at the data, a view that --

CUOMO: I'll look at whatever you sent.

KING: Just review it as, this is part of the congressional record. It is official.

CUOMO: I know, you put it there.

KING: And now my fingerprints are on it, so I hope they're worth reading.

CUOMO: Well, you send me whatever you want and I will send this along to you because this is just demonstrable truth.

Always good to have you on the show making the case to the American people. Thank you for doing it.

KING: We can have another conversation, maybe another hearing. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Whenever you want.

We'll be right back.


[08:45:35] CUOMO: The Justice Department's antitrust chief leaving the door open to a settlement in the high-stakes lawsuit against AT&T. The government suing, of course, to block the telecom giant from merging with Time Warner, and they own CNN.

Let's bring in CNN's politics, media and business reporter, Hadas Gold, and CNN's senior media correspondent and, of course, host of "Reliable Sources," Mr. Brian Stelter.

So, Hadas, what did we see? What did it mean?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: It's the last day of testimony in this trial. And what we saw was a little bit of tension back and forth. The Justice Department, at one point, accused AT&T of manipulating data in a way that would have been helpful for their case to show that's not as many subscribers would leave a cable distributor if they lost access to certain channels.

And then the Justice Department, at the last minute, tried to introduce hundreds of pages of documents of public filings that AT&T had previously made to the Federal Communications Commissions about similar types of mergers. But the judge wasn't really having it. He called it a document dump and said that the Justice Department was not allowed to use those documents in their closing arguments on Monday.

But, at the end of the trial, there was a lot of good feelings. Both sides thanked the judge and the court for all of their work on this very long trial. We are entering our seventh week.

CUOMO: All right.

GOLD: And the judge told both sides to have a round of beers.

CUOMO: All right. So, Hadas, there's the so what. And now let's get the now what. It's a big day, Brian. Let's tee up Monday.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, on Monday, closing arguments, an hour and a half on each side, one more rebuttal from the DOJ. But then, on Monday, this will go off to the judge. Finally, we will start to hear from him.

It could take a month or more for him to actually deliver a decision in this case, but we'll finally have a determination about whether this is an antitrust matter, whether marketplace competition really is at risk, whether he sides with AT&T and Time Warner that the other -- the merger is necessary and appropriate and not anti-competitive.

And, of course, the cloud hanging over all of this, whether there are political motivations by the Trump administration. I think Judge Richard Leon will set all of that straight when he decides.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. See you on the weekend.

Hadas, thank you as well.


CAMEROTA: OK, so what parts of the world are still unknown to CNN's Anthony Bourdain? The answers will surprise you. Anthony's here next.


[08:50:43] CAMEROTA: This Sunday, Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" returns for season 11. It will be an extended episode running 75 minutes as he visits West Virginia. Take a look.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": This bat crazy virtual mad max drag race come demolition derby is called rock bouncing.

Can't learn that from bouncing around too much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and what it's actually designed for is major collisions and it keeps your head from tearing off your body.

BOURDAIN: Adam Rigger (ph) is a native son, jack of many trades, and a man who's all too happy to spend the day trashing some hills just to show me a good time.

That was pretty bad.


CAMEROTA: Joining me now, the host of "Parts Unknown," Anthony Bourdain.

Great to see you.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": Good to be here. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So why are you focusing on West Virginia?

BOURDAIN: I like going places that are very different than where I grew up. And West Virginia is a place that many politically and culturally is about as different from the world I grew up in as you can get. The heart --

CAMEROTA: You grew up in New Jersey?

BOURDAIN: Yes, New Jersey suburbs and New York. And it's the heart of, you know, God, guns, Trump and football country, which, you know, that's not me. But I will tell you, it is heartbreakingly beautiful. The people were without exception lovely and kind to me. I was very, very, very moved during the shooting of this episode. Not just by the people, but by the culture, by coal culture and what it means to the people there. And I like having my preconceptions upended in this way.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And so tell us what will surprise us. I mean what did you learn about coal culture?

BOURDAIN: How deep it goes, you know? It's taught in school. We're talking to people for whom -- who I think understand that coal isn't going to come back, but that even an incremental uptick is the difference to many people between, you know, nothing on the dinner table tomorrow and an $85,000 a year job. That's a huge -- you know, difference in situations.

People don't understand how deep it goes in the culture. We're talking families five generations of coal miners. Their whole identity wrapped up, proud of what their, you know, their relatives, their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers, the price they paid, how hard they worked to dig coal out of the ground.

I go down in a coal mine. And I hope this show makes people like me from New York City and the coasts look at West Virginia with a little more understanding and a little more empathy. They are not fools there. They are not rubes. Appalachia is a complicated and very, very beautiful place where people really are proud and determined and take a lot of -- and take care of each other to the best extent they can under extraordinarily difficult situations.

CAMEROTA: What's the food like?

BOURDAIN: The food's really good. You know, it's an immigrant culture, so we had, you know, sort of southern Italian/Appalachian. Traditional Appalachian with African and Native American roots.

CAMEROTA: But what is traditional Appalachian, because I think we have misconceptions about that too?

BOURDAIN: Well, it's a hunter-gatherer culture, particularly given the economics of the area. You know, you kind of have to have a shotgun or you live -- if you're -- you're an out of work coal worker or you're -- you're in a family that's used to precarious employment situation, the ability to go back in the woods behind your house and shoot a squirrel or a deer, that's, again, that's a life or death thing.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's vital.

BOURDAIN: Yes. So game, wild game, and, you know, stuff that you can pull out of the ground.

CAMEROTA: I can't wait to see it.

All right, you go lots of places this season. So let's look at some of them. Uruguay, Newfoundland, Armenia, Hong Kong, Berlin, southern Louisiana, Cajun area, Bhutan. So what jumped out at you?

[08:55:06] BOURDAIN: I'm proudest and most excited for Hong Kong, I think, because the whole idea that I've been hoping and planning to shoot a dream show for six years was to shoot with maybe the world's greatest living cinematographer, a guy named Christopher Doyle (ph), who's lived in Hong Kong for the last 30 years and has shot some of my favorite, most beautiful films.

And the idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode.


BOURDAIN: So for me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my little league team for the whole season.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I can't wait to see it.

Anthony Bourdain, thank you very much.

You can watch "Parts Unknown." It airs this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.


CUOMO: All right. CNN "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto picks up right after this break. Have yourself a great weekend.