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Spring in the Northeast; Blankenship Loses Primary; Midterm Election Preview; Special Prosecutor Appointed to Schneiderman Case. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 9, 2018 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:32:45] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Big day. Gina Haspel's Senate confirmation hearing is going to get underway in about three hours. She is the president's CIA director nominee. And she's expected to ensure the intelligence committee she would not authorize the resumption of detention and interrogation programs that involve torture. Now, this is according to prepared remarks. Haspel is expected to face difficult questions about her role in the use of those kinds of tactics, like waterboarding, that were used after the 9/11 attacks.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: After a brief period of calm, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is erupting again. Officials say two new fissures opened up, forcing a new round of evacuations. Thirty-six structures, including at least 26 homes, have now been destroyed. Lava now covers more than 100 acres on Hawaii's big island. This new video shows the volcano lava lake bubbling and spitting as the lake level continues to drop.

CUOMO: Spring sprung in the Northeast. Looks like the warmer temps are expected to stick around, at least for a while.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.

My daffodils took a beat down, crocuses will kill, but now we're getting the next wave. Is it going to stay here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. It looks good. Things are greening up not only on my map but on the ground as well. Temperatures in the 50s this morning, all the way up to the 70s, almost 80s later on today.

This weather is brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, packed with goodness.

And finally some good news. Mild air all across the East Coast. Even warm air across the Southeast and the Midwest.

Now, the bad news is for today, there is a chance of some severe weather, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Wayne, all the way to almost Indianapolis. That would be the area today where there could be some strong thunderstorms. And that comes with the territory. You get warm air, you get cold air behind it, you get thunderstorms. So, here we go, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, and by tomorrow

afternoon and evening there could even be some storms in the Northeast. 6:00 to 7:00 could see a thunderstorm or two, even in New York City or D.C., but temperatures are going to remain nice all week long.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, spring is officially here. Chad, thank you.

MYERS: You bet.

CAMEROTA: The primary results from four key states are in. So how did it turn out for President Trump and the GOP? A closer look, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:39:09] CUOMO: All right, so West Virginians heeded the president's call. He said to Republican voters there, reject the party's controversial Senate candidate Don Blankenship, and it appears they listened. The primary results in four states were mostly positive for the president and the GOP. So what are we seeing in this first arguable Super Tuesday about the midterm elections just sixes months away? We've got people who know. We have David Gregory and CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Gregory, he's got his glasses on. Brownstein needs them.

CAMEROTA: He's serious.

CUOMO: So, what did you see last night, professor?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think with the exception of one House race in North Carolina, both parties got the candidates they wanted in all of the key race. And the Republicans in particular, we saw several examples where the candidates who kind of tried to out Trump Trump and said that they were the Trumpiest in the field actually fell short to more mainstream alternatives. In the West Virginia Senate race, most conspicuously with Don Blankenship, but also in the Ohio governor's race with Mike DeWine. The candidate, the House member in Indiana, who wanted to nominate Donald Trump for the Nobel Prize, didn't win. So the mainstream had a pretty good night.

[06:40:15] On the other hand, I would just add real quickly, it also showed how much the mainstream of the party has moved, has been pulled toward Donald Trump, particularly on immigration. Every single candidate who won ran essentially as a hardliner on immigration, supported the border wall. The mainstream candidates, as well as the more Trumpy candidates, even though 60 percent of the company opposes the border wall, and you can see that Donald Trump's stamp of this -- on this party becoming in a more insular direction on immigration and trade and even international engagement, really beginning to solidify in a way that is a long term risk.

CAMEROTA: So, David Gregory, what does all of that mean for the midterms?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, a Ron was saying, there's a couple points. There's only one Trump, but there's a lot of Republican who want to be like him. But, you know, what you see is that every out of the mainstream candidate who is being outrageous can't pull it off, which is something that the mainstream of the party was worried about for a long time. And they shored that up.

But if you go -- I was in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago and you watch the commercials, one after the other of these Republican not just trying to establish their conservative bonafides (ph), but how close to Trump they are. And in that way he really has kind of defined, what is the modern Republican Party?

And so the midterm has very much become a referendum on Trump and, interestingly, also reflect this distain for Washington and the quote/unquote swamp. There's still so much of that feeling out there. And a lot of voters seem to disregard what Trump may be doing to contribute to the swamp. They are still cottoning (ph) to the idea of any party that can resist, you know, the inside forces of the establishment.

BROWNSTEIN: Can I just say one thing?

I mean what Trump is imposing on the Republican Party you really saw last night, which is a -- both a demographic and a geographic trade. He is strengthening them with blue collar, non-urban, evangelical voters at the price of energizing minorities and millennials and moving them further away from the Republican. But also threatening their traditional strength with white collar, white suburbanites.

CAMEROTA: But how does that math work with the midterms?

BROWNSTEIN: And that is -- you know, that is -- that is really the key -- the key question because in places like West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, are the kind of places where that trade by and large on a statewide basis is good for Republicans. It threaten them simultaneously in the races that we're seeing in Nevada and Arizona. But also in the House, where the maximum vulnerability are in these white collar suburb that Republican have traditionally won that are moving away from them, and that's the seat, the one result that was ominous for Republican leaders was in this Charlotte suburban district where the incumbent Republican, in the kind of district that's already trending away from the GOP under Trump, and the CNN poll, this majority of college white disapproved, over 60 percent of college white women disapproved. And that was the one race where the incumbent lost to a very conservative minister and where the Democrat now is, I think, you know, a total fighting chance. It is those places where the Republicans are most likely to see losses. The question is, does it extend beyond that. It's a more blue collar or rural districts. If it does, the House is gone. If it doesn't, Republicans have a fighting chance of holding it just -- just under the majority.

GREGORY: Well, and that's -- so, Ron, it's interesting. You look a lot of these ex-urban (ph) and suburban districts in the House, where some of that support may erode that makes it so difficult for Republican to hold on to the House. But demographics verse narrative, I'm interested in all the area that you pointed out, like immigration that bring out working class voter, more nationalist voter and more isolationist voters. And compare that to what Trump may be building as a narrative of leadership in foreign policy, in North Korea, potentially Iran. Plenty of people many may see all that a reckless. But if he's able to build a portfolio of leadership-driven success, combined with tax cuts, does that not draw in more, you know, white collar Republican -- typical mainstream Republican voters who say, you know what, the guy's kind of delivered on stuff.

BROWNSTEIN: Verse (ph) their views of his behavior.

GREGORY: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: The way he talks about race. His attitudes on immigration and trade. I mean that is the tension. I mean, in many ways, you see in the polling again in the last couple month, Trump has clearly re- solidified his hold on blue collar white Americans back up near 60 percent approval. I think it was 58 in the CNN poll among those voters where he -- where he most conspicuously underperforms a typical Republican are in those white collar suburbs, like that North Carolina district, like the Ohio district, where we've been seeing --

CUOMO: But do -- does that demographic --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: You know, because they're starting to emerge, this white suburban --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: The white collar, white suburban voter is the new soccer mom.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: Do we see evidence --

BROWNSTEIN: Some of them literally are, yes.

CUOMO: That they care about how he is more than the rest of the Trump base or the GOP?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, that's really -- the women clearly. I mean, you know, if you look college white women, Donald Trump is looking at a disapproval rating. Again, a CNN poll --

[06:45:04] CUOMO: College graduate.

BROWNSTEIN: College educated white women. He's got a disapproval rating of 64 percent. OK, Hillary Clinton only them but she only won 51 percent of them. Democrat -- no Democrat has won more than 52 percent. Democrats have won 52 percent of them is the most they've won in House elections going back over the last (INAUDIBLE). They have the potential to be in the 60s among those voters. That's clear. That is a clear and present danger for Republicans in the suburbs of Philly, and Chicago, and Minneapolis and Denver and Orange County, and Columbus, Ohio, and Charlotte, which were affected yesterday.

The issue is more the men. Do they also move? They are uneasy about Trump' behavior. But as David said, they like some of the results they're getting.

CAMEROTA: OK, David Gregory, Ron Brownstein, thank you both very much.

CUOMO: That was really good. We didn't even have to say anything.

CAMEROTA: We didn't say much, no.

CUOMO: No.

CAMEROTA: We were bystanders. We like that.

CUOMO: Had two better people. Why say anything? Why get in their way?

CAMEROTA: That's right.

CUOMO: All right, so, who's going to replace New York's former attorney general, Eric Schneiderman? It's up to the state legislature, OK? And what is his downfall going to mean to President Trump? The president is obviously very happy about Schneiderman going down. We discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:05] CAMEROTA: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations against the state's former attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman abruptly resigned on Monday hour after four women accused him of physical abuse in a bombshell "New Yorker" investigation. Schneiderman denies any wrongdoing.

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He has a new op-ed for cnn.com called "The Shocking Downfall of Eric Schneiderman Won't Help Trump for Long."

Errol, great to see you.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: You've been reporting on New York politics for decades. Were there ever any even whispers about this violent side of Eric Schneiderman?

LOUIS: Well, you know, apparently there were. I did not hear any of those whispers. I talked with people who are part of the Albany scene. The statehouse culture. And some of them have said that, yes, there were stories over the years. Nothing nearly as shocking as what was reported. But he was known to sort of go outside the lines in some of his personal relationships, according to some women who work in Albany.

CAMEROTA: I mean now, you know, what that been alleged and what people kept the secret of is just so appalling. Obviously this is -- it feel like this is just the beginning. It feels like there's a lot more to uncover.

But, in the meantime, Governor Cuomo is asking for a special prosecutor so that the Manhattan district attorney doesn't have to, what, investigate his boss, his old boss?

LOUIS: Well, not his old boss so much, but they already had sort of a conflict that was going on. When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, there were allegation in some cases that the Manhattan district attorney was not nearly a tough on earlier sort of allegation about Harvey Weinstein as he should have been.

CAMEROTA: Didn't go after him aggressively.

LOUIS: And Schneiderman was then directed by the governor to look at the Manhattan district attorney to try and see if there was any kind of a problem there, if there were donations made or if there -- if he had taken it easy on Harvey Weinstein for one reason or another. And that had just begun. And now we have this situation in which the Manhattan district attorney now reads in "The New Yorker" about apparent criminal behavior that may have been committed by the attorney general. And so now he turns around and starts to investigate Eric Schneiderman. And, by the way, the governor has put a halt to all of this by naming a special prosecutor from outside of New York City to come in and look at all of these charges.

CAMEROTA: So what do we think is going to happen with Eric Schneiderman? Can he be prosecuted? Can he face jail time?

LOUIS: He -- he has -- he had better hire himself a good lawyer right about now because there are charges in New York. There's the special prosecutors who's looking into it. There are possible charges out in a different county, out in the suburbs, in the Hampton, where some things may have taken place. And so, yes, there are -- there are possibly other accusers that may come forward. At least one has given her story to the newspapers at this point. And so we don't know where this is going to end up, but he -- he faces a great deal of scrutiny and some of it could involve legal problems for him.

CAMEROTA: Eric Schneiderman, as you know, had been a fierce adversary of Donald Trump. He has sued him for the fraud of Trump University, among other thing. And so when the news broke about Eric Schneiderman, there seemed to be some glee expressed --

LOUIS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: By some of President Trump's top supporters, namely his son, Don Junior. Kellyanne Conway, his top counselor, had tweeted, gotcha.

LOUIS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: About Eric Schneiderman. So your point in your op-ed is what?

LOUIS: Well, my point is that their glee should be short-lived, frankly, because we -- we're now 20 years into a process in which three successive attorney general of New York state have really been quite aggressive. It's a very prominent perch. It that powers that other attorneys generals don't have. It oversees Wall Street. They get into very big cases here. And they always have.

And so the Trump University prosecution is typical of what a New York state attorney general would look at. Big cases involving big figures, big institutions, big money at stake. And this has been going on since Elliott Spitzer was attorney general. He did that -- I mean he got elected in 1998. And so we've got 20 years now of first Elliot Spitzer, than Andrew Cuomo, and then Eric Schneiderman for eight years now. He was running for a third term this year. They've all been making these big cases, multi-billion dollar settlements. This doesn't just go away. And there is a gigantic bullpen of very ambitious attorneys who want to become the next attorney general and they're not going to just sit quietly if something like a Trump University case comes by.

CAMEROTA: Are there other investigations into Donald Trump that Eric Schneiderman was in the middle of?

LOUIS: They were looking at the -- some of the Trump Foundation issues. There have been a number of different allegation. "The Washington Post" did a lot of reporting on it, that some of what was done was not quite charitable, either in its intent or its execution. And because charities are overseen by the New York attorney general here in New York, they have jurisdiction and will continue to look at that stuff.

[06:55:11] CAMEROTA: Errol Louis, thank you very much for all of the reporting. Great to talk to you.

LOUIS: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Alisyn.

So, the special counsel's team interviewing a Russian oligarch about payments that may be connected to the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. What was the money for? Is there any real connection? Got a clue for you, we do know about money from the man on your screen on the left directly to President Trump in a way. It doesn't involve Michael Cohen, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller's investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars to Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the argument that Cohen and his folks would make is that this was all legal.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: It appears that this may be your typical pay-to-play type scenario.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing proven that there's been any sort of collusion between a campaign and a foreign entity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It smells and looks and sounds like a lot of dark money sloshing around, really strange, dark companies.

[07:00:04] STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: President Trump, he's taking action now to make sure that we're safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that we're more safe. And if we're not seen as a reliable partner, we're going to have a hard time moving ahead.