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Trump Faces Tidal Wave Of Condemnation After Siding With Russian President Putin; Bryce Harper Wins Home Run Derby; U.S. Charges Russian National With Being A Foreign Agent; Former CIA Officer Turned Congressman On Trump's Putin Embrace. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired July 17, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:31:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is facing unprecedented backlash this morning for putting Vladimir Putin on the same level as U.S. intelligence agencies.
So, what can Congress do now?
Joining us is Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, thanks so much for being here.
You tweeted a suggestion yesterday. You said, "If you're on the Trump national security team and you've been out there saying how strong Trump is on Russia and how serious our commitment is to NATO, how do you not resign after the last four days?"
Who do you think should resign?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT), MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, listen, I'll leave it to each member of his national security cabinet to make the decision for themselves.
But some of that was just personal advice. I have a couple of friends -- people that I respect who have been fairly hardliners on Russia over the course of their career who are potentially ruining their careers by staying with this president who is siding with Russia over the United States.
So, every member of his cabinet will make the decision for themselves. I just don't understand how you can sit by and let this president do this.
I've listened to a lot of his folks at the State Department, at the NSC, the Department of Defense come up to Congress and tell us that everything is alright. Tell us the U.S. commitment to NATO is as solid as ever. Tell us that the president is going into that meeting with Vladimir Putin to push back on election interference.
They're all wrong. They were all wrong. They have no ability to influence this president.
President Trump has made a decision to put himself in a subservient position to Vladimir Putin. We don't know why that is. But if I was in his national security cabinet and I wanted a future in foreign policy I'd probably get out now.
CAMEROTA: What about the DNI -- Director Dan Coats? What do you think he should do?
And I ask you -- I'll give you a little more context because we had -- we had former DNI James Clapper on who said that if it were he, he would resign today because he thinks that not only has President Trump sort of thrown Dir. Coats off the bus, but that's he irrelevant. That obviously, the research he's presenting -- the argument -- the case he's making is irrelevant to the president.
MURPHY: Yes. Listen, obviously, I would never take a job in the administration in the first place so I can't put myself in Dan Coats' position.
But yes, I think that the president has cut the legs out from under Dan Coats and from the entire Intelligence Community but, of course, he's been doing that from the very beginning. Remember, this isn't the first time that he has cast doubt on the opinion of his law enforcement folks and his Intelligence Community about the level of interference from Russia in the 2016 election.
So I think it's very hard for them to do their job and it will be up to them as to what to do next.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, the flipside of that is that if they were to resign -- I mean, if Dan Coats were to resign then who would be doing that?
Who would be putting out a statement like this? "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security."
[07:35:00] He is trying to hold the line. He is trying to do right by the intelligence. If he resigns, then what?
MURPHY: Yes -- no. Again, that's why I wouldn't presume to give them personal advice. I am just suggesting that if you want your reputation to be preserved I'm not sure that you do that by staying with this president.
I will admit that this administration's record on Russia has been a little muddled. They have certainly, at times, taken steps to push back against the Kremlin. They did end up levying sanctions on a certain number of individuals.
They have sent arms to the Ukrainians to be used in the war against the Russians there.
And so, there are some smart people inside that administration.
CAMEROTA: They've expelled more diplomats. I mean, they've expelled more Russians who were here than other countries have.
And so you're right, there is a schizophrenic -- there does seem to be a schizophrenic approach to this where President Trump --
CAMEROTA: -- is wildly conciliatory in his rhetoric but then, the policy is different. And does that give you some sort of comfort?
MURPHY: No, it doesn't give me any comfort but it tells me that the people that are working for him occasionally win the day. And so that would be a reason why they wouldn't leave.
What I know, though, is that Vladimir Putin's number one goal is the destruction of NATO and the dissolution of the European Union and he couldn't have a better partner in President Trump in getting that done.
And what I also know is that the day before the summit with Putin, John Bolton went on T.V. and told anybody that would listen that the president was going to go into that summit and press strongly on Vladimir Putin with respect to election interference and that his had was strengthened by the indictments which President Trump believed in. None of that was true.
And so there are these big moments when it appears that the folks around Donald Trump have absolutely no impact on his behavior.
CAMEROTA: Senator, are you hearing something different today from your Republican colleagues than you've heard previously? Did something change yesterday?
MURPHY: Not really. I talked to a bunch of my Republican colleagues last night on the Senate floor and while they certainly expressed exasperation at the president, I didn't hear anybody who was willing to do anything new.
And, of course, the difficulty is there's only so much Congress can do to micromanage foreign policy. We could pass another sanctions bill, we can try to tie his hands on NATO, but the president executes foreign policy. We can't script his meetings with foreign leaders. We can't run his Twitter account.
And so there is a limit to what Congress can do and frankly, I didn't feel that much had changed yesterday.
And I listened to your previous guests. I love Adam Kinzinger and Charlie Dent, but listen, it's their colleagues in the House of Representatives that are helping Trump and Putin do their work to undermine the Russia investigation.
I think the one thing we can all do now, Republicans and Democrats, is stop attacking Robert Mueller and let him give us a report so we can all figure out why Donald Trump is acting this way with Vladimir Putin.
CAMEROTA: Do you need some sort of legislation to do that?
MURPHY: Certainly. I mean, we have legislation in the Senate -- bipartisan legislation that Mitch McConnell won't call for a vote, that would protect Mueller in some substantial way from dismissal by President Trump.
And so, I would love to see Congress step in and pass legislation that protects Robert Mueller's investigation from executive interference. That's certainly a step that we could take that would help us understand the rationale behind Trump's absolutely appalling and bizarre behavior over the course of the last five days.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much for sharing your position on NEW DAY -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In the 'timing is everything' category, a Russian national charged as not registering as a foreign agent here. Working as a foreign agent trying to work political connections with the NRA and others.
We'll have more just ahead.
[07:42:31] BERMAN: Bryce Harper wowing his hometown fans by winning the Home Run Derby.
Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, John.
You know, last night a cool moment for the fans in D.C. getting to watch their hometown star Bryce Harper win the Home Run Derby. Also pretty cool for Harper to share the moment with his dad, who was his pitcher for the event. The 25-year-old storming back in the final round to win the derby.
And I'll tell you what. Social media was having a field day with how jacked Harper's dad, Ron, is. Check him out here holding the trophy up, getting it from his son. It looks like he could go out there and mash some home runs, too.
Harper said winning the derby was awesome and doing it with his dad made it even better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRYCE HARPER, RIGHT FIELDER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS, WINNER, HOME RUN DERBY: I couldn't be more fortunate to have him throwing to me. You know, I'm so blessed and so just -- I mean, I don't know. I mean, I've got one of the best families in all of the world and I'm just so happy to be able to share that moment with him and share that moment with my family and this crowd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: And the World Cup champions getting a hero's welcome as they returned home to hundreds of thousands of fans lining the streets to cheer on the team as they rode through Paris.
Meanwhile, in Croatia, police say more than 250,000 fans came out to cheer on their team despite finishing as the runner-up.
And "The Washington Post" actually quoted that some observers said the homecoming event was the biggest-ever in Croatia.
And, Alisyn, I guess 250,000 -- that's an impressive number considering the entire Croatia population is just four million.
CAMEROTA: I guess people like soccer, you know? That's what I've learned.
SCHOLES: It's that and the World Cup, yes. We've got four years until we can do it again.
CAMEROTA: Oh. Well, that can't come soon enough for me, Andy.
Thank you very much.
BERMAN: She's just a freaking liar. You don't care.
CAMEROTA: I know, but I have to pretend with Andy that I really --
BERMAN: All right, all right, all right.
CAMEROTA: -- love sports.
Meanwhile, the same day that President Trump sided with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence officials, a Russian woman was charged with being a foreign agent for the Russian government here in the U.S.
The Justice Department -- not Robert Mueller -- accuses her of conspiring to infiltrate American political organizations like the NRA and push Moscow's agenda.
CNN's Evan Perez is here to explain more about this. He's live in Washington. What have you learned, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, Mariia Butina spent the last few years making end roads with influential Republicans and conservative political organizations, including the National Rifle Association. [07:45:00] The goal, according to the charges filed in federal court,
was to influence American politics to quote "advance the agenda of the Russian Federation."
Prosecutors said in court documents that there were Americans actually involved in helping her. Butina worked with a Russian official named Alexander Torshin, who is among a group of Russians at the Treasury Department put on a list of sanctions earlier this year.
CNN previously has reported that the two were part of an effort to set up a meeting between the Russian president and then-candidate Donald Trump. And that meeting didn't happen then but prosecutors in court papers say that there were many other ways that Butina was trying to make connections with influential Republicans.
She attended conservative political conferences. She went to the National Prayer Breakfast in 2016 and 2017, even raising the possibility that Vladimir Putin could come to the Prayer Breakfast.
An attorney for Butina, by the way, says that she is not an agent of any government. That she's simply a student of international relations working to build better relations between the United States and Russia. Butina was arrested over the weekend.
And, John, a law enforcement source tells us that investigators were concerned that she was about to leave the D.C. area and prosecutors told the judge that this is an ongoing investigation and that there are other subjects that are still under investigation, John.
BERMAN: Evan Perez, timing is everything. Evan, thank you very, very much.
A Republican lawmaker who worked for the CIA for years says he never thought in his lifetime he would see a U.S. president manipulated by Russian intelligence, but now he has.
Will Hurd joins us next.
[07:50:46] BERMAN: The President of the United States undermining U.S. intelligence agencies and he did it standing side-by-side with a brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin.
Joining me now, Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He's a former undercover CIA officer. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
You say, "I've seen the Russian intelligence manipulate many people in my career. I never would have thought the U.S. president would be one of them."
What do you mean by that?
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, FORMER UNDERCOVER OFFICER, CIA: Well, what I mean by that is that in that press conference yesterday it was classic disinformation. Vladimir Putin spouted many of his usual lines that were just completely wrong and he did it standing next to the leader of the free world and there was no rebuttal. That's classic disinformation.
His talk about the Iran deal.
His talk about Ukraine. Ukraine is a place that the Russians invaded. And so, if Vladimir Putin wants to see a change happen then guess what? Take your troops out of that country.
Also the fact that Vladimir Putin should have been able to say I'm going to turn over those 12 intelligence officers.
Having the U.S. president side with Putin over U.S intelligence is just unacceptable.
BERMAN: You say classic disinformation, but was Vladimir Putin the only one spouting classic disinformation? The President of the United States says yes, Dan Coats tells me there was Russian meddling but Vladimir Putin tells me no, and that's the same.
HURD: Well, disinformation is something that's done deliberately. I think most people think the president believes those things.
It's very clear Russian intelligence were trying to manipulate our elections. All of our intelligence agencies have said that.
All of the Congressional oversight has confirmed that Russians were trying to manipulate our elections and this is something that we need to be preparing ourselves for the next election. We should be working with our allies to defend against this in the future.
The Russians have been manipulating elections for the last couple of decades and guess what, they're going to continue. And the way we should be countering this is by working with our allies against the Russians, not playing up to the Russian's fantasies.
BERMAN: Well, one of the ways you counter it is by telling the Russians to stop if you're the President of the United States.
HURD: For sure.
BERMAN: One of the ways you counter it if you're the President of the United States is to look to your, I guess, left if that's where Vladimir Putin was standing, and say hey, you did this. The president didn't say that. And you say it's not disinformation because the president believes it.
Well, does it concern you?
HURD: Well no, I would agree with you 100 percent. He should have said that, right? I was thankful that two of your peers in the press were there to ask Vladimir Putin the hard questions that should have been coming out of our president's mouth.
So I would agree with the fact that those things should have been rebutted right then and there. It was an opportunity to show that we were strong and tough against a thug like Vladimir Putin and that opportunity was lost.
BERMAN: Was the president weak next to Vladimir Putin --
HURD: I think he was.
BERMAN: -- on the issue of the election intervention by the Russians?
HURD: I think -- I think on a lot of issues, right?
I think on energy -- look, Russian intelligence are hacking into American energy companies because the Russians understand that the energy sector in the United States of America is a strategic threat to them.
This is important to me because I oversee and I represent the Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin which is driving American energy dependence, and we're going to be ones that are going to be able to send energy to our friends in Europe. We should have rebutted that.
The Iran deal is a terrible deal. There should have been rebuttal there.
And, of course, we already talked about Ukraine. Ukraine is on the front lines every day of dealing with the Russian menace and we could have showed support to our friends in the Ukraine.
BERMAN: So, Congressman, put yourself back in the shoes of the job you had for years --
BERMAN: -- as an intelligence operative undercover. If the work you had done -- and I'm sure it was presented to the president at many different levels.
[07:55:08] If the President of the United States stood in front of the whole world -- because that's what happened yesterday -- and said yes, my intelligence agencies -- the men and women who lay their lives on the line to get this information tell me one thing but I don't believe it any more than this murderer standing next to me, how would that have made you feel?
HURD: I'd be upset. But guess what, I would have continued to do my job and that's ultimately what the men and women in the Intelligence Community are going to continue to do regardless of who the president is.
The men and women in the CIA are the collectors of last resort. They're the ones that have to go out and get the hard pieces of information.
And guess what, they're professionals. They're going to continue to put their lives on the line. They're going to continue to do everything they can in order to keep our nation safe and that's why -- BERMAN: What message -- what message does it send to them, though? Does it send the message that the president values their sacrifice?
HURD: Well, the message it sends, I think each man and woman is going to have to decide that. But I know each one of them is going to continue to do their job and they're going to do their job regardless of what is said up at the top and whatever is coming -- being talked about in the Beltway.
These are -- these are real professionals that care about protecting our way life, that care about protecting our country. And they need to know that there's many of us up here in Congress as we continue to support them that we're going to make sure that they have the resources and the funds in order to continue to do that job.
BERMAN: In addition to the resources and the funds for the Intelligence Community, and I know you've been very supportive of that every step of the way, what action -- or do you believe Congress needs to take action in light of what the president said yesterday? Do you want to see a resolution?
HURD: Well look, could there be a resolution, yes. But is that going to change anything, unlikely.
What needs to happen is we need to make -- go to conference on the intelligence assessment act. This is the tool that the Intelligence Community needs in order to continue to be aggressive towards Russian -- against Russia and many of our other enemies. It's one of the things that also funds the Intelligence Community to make sure they have the resources.
BERMAN: But I do suppose -- I do suppose one thing you could do because one of the key questions -- and I was talking to Adam Kinzinger, Congressman from Illinois. We talked to former Congressman Charlie Dent -- two Republicans who you worked with --
BERMAN: -- over time and they want to know why the president continues to say this. What's going on in his head?
There have been former CIA operatives who have told us they no longer can rule out kompromat. I'm not going there.
But why not hold a hearing? Why not hold a hearing on one of your committees and ask people in the administration why is it that the president continues to think this? What --
HURD: Yes, and look, that's completely fine and we should try to get to that understanding whether the answer, I think, is going to likely be that you have to speak to the president.
And we've had hearings about oversight of how the Intelligence Community works. That stuff needs to continue. And yes, these are questions that should be brought up. BERMAN: Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. We do appreciate you being with us and we want to thank you for everything you've done in the past for the country. Appreciate it, sir.
HURD: Appreciate you.
BERMAN: All right, there is so much news this morning. We are waiting to see if the White House decides to weigh in anew on this controversy so let's stay on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: President Putin was extremely strong in his denial today.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The president took the word of the KGB over the men and women of the CIA.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It was the most cowardly surrender of American interest in modern history.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump will always put the security of America first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not put America first. He put himself first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was his staff? You can't just be quiet when things like this are happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should (ph) be engaged with Russia.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There is bipartisan dismay and I think there's an opportunity for bipartisan action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the coming days, it will be a time for all of us to stand up and say which side are we on?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: There she is, Lady Liberty, shining there on a beautiful morning in New York City.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, July 17th, 8:00 in the east.
And there is a tidal wave of condemnation this morning after President Trump shocked the world by blaming the United States for the Russian hack into the 2016 election. Instead of siding with the U.S. Intel agencies, President Trump seemed to take Vladimir Putin's denial seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All I can do is ask the question. My people came to me -- Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia.
I have President Putin -- he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Dan Coats, on the one hand, Vladimir Putin on the other, and the President of the United States cannot choose.
We're talking about the president's handpicked director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who really did fire back at the president.
His office put out this statement.