Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Invites Putin To Washington In The Fall; At Least 11 Dead And Six Missing After Tour Boat Capsizes; NFL National Anthem Policy On Hold; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 20, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: GOP congressman and former CIA agent Will Hurd writing an op-ed today that's getting a lot of attention.

In it, he says, quote, "Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the CIA, I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them."

Let's bring in CNN senior political commentator and former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Good morning, Rick.


CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

Will Hurd's op-ed is really interesting to dive into. I'll read you a little bit more of it, OK?

He says, "By playing into Vladimir Putin's hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad."

Rick, what's your reaction to what a Republican is saying?

SANTORUM: You know, frankly, I just think that overstates the case. I mean, I accept the fact the president handled the -- and stated publicly that the president handled the press conference very poorly and I'm very happy that he walked back some of what he said at the press conference.

It was very unsettling and I think it -- having talked to several of my colleagues this week up on the Hill, I mean, it was -- it was a very unsettling week for everybody.

CAMEROTA: So -- yes, so then where does Will Hurd get it wrong? I mean, where does he get it wrong? In other words --

SANTORUM: Well, I think he -- CAMEROTA: -- on the world stage -- let's just remind people that on the world stage next to Vladimir Putin, by saying that the U.S. was to blame, that the U.S. has been foolish. This is what he said next to Vladimir Putin. I mean, that the U.S. should take blame for the election interference, the cyber warfare.

How is he not actively participating in Russian disinformation? That's what Russian -- that's what Vladimir Putin would have wanted him to say.

SANTORUM: Yes. Here's what I would say.

I think what -- as unsettling as the week was, I think what most members of Congress and frankly, most Trump supporters now understand -- and Maggie Haberman talked about this in the previous thing -- is that the president will say things that just are not necessarily consistent with what his administration is advocating and goes off script. Is someone who is very unpredictable in that -- in that way.

CAMEROTA: But don't you see it as if that's what he really thinks? He was off script and that --

SANTORUM: I think --

CAMEROTA: -- is the time -- those are the times that he speaks his mind.

SANTORUM: Yes. See, I think what the -- I think what most members of Congress do is look at this situation and say what the president is troubled with is conflating this idea that his legit -- his election is illegitimate because of Russian involvement.

CAMEROTA: I get all that. So why blame the U.S.?

SANTORUM: Well, again --

CAMEROTA: Why say that the U.S. is to blame?

SANTORUM: Because I just don't think the president has done a very good job in his own mind -- I think most members of Congress realize this -- of sort of separating out the issue as to whether Russia got involved in the election and whether the Trump administration colluded. They're two different things.

And the fact that Russia colluded -- Russia got involved in the election doesn't mean that Russia had an influence that determined him to be the victor. And I -- and I think if he can --

[07:35:00] CAMEROTA: I get all that.

SANTORUM: -- set aside those issues he can -- he'd be a lot more effective than -- in communicating.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but he can't -- right. I mean, he can't. It's been a year and a half and he can't. He can't even in front of Vladimir Putin. SANTORUM: Well, he can't but here's the -- here's the bottom line. Yes, but here's the bottom line to it.

I think me and I think the vast majority of Republicans who are looking at this situation -- and it goes on almost everything else where Trump goes off script and that is -- look, yes, he may say things that are -- that are unsettling at times or inconsistent with traditional Republican policies --

CAMEROTA: Or with Democratic values.

SANTORUM: -- but if you look at -- but if you -- or Democratic values in some cases, yes.

But if you look at what the president is doing with Russia, the president's policy toward Russia is actually rather reassuring to most Republicans.

CAMEROTA: Are you reassured by the invitation to Vladimir Putin to the White House?

SANTORUM: Again, that doesn't really bother me too much. If you -- it doesn't bother me.

CAMEROTA: And why not? Why doesn't it bother you -- somebody who has launched a cyber war on the U.S. election coming to the White House?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, it doesn't bother me any more than it didn't bother Democrats to -- you know, to normalize relationships with Cuba. I mean --

CAMEROTA: So you feel the same way as Democrats do? This is interesting.

SANTORUM: No, I don't. I -- all I'm saying is that if the president wants to develop a personal relationship with Vladimir Putin, fine.

I'm going to keep my eye trained on the most important thing which is what is the policy of the United States toward Russia when it comes to Ukraine, and Crimea, and Syria, and a whole host of other issues.

CAMEROTA: And what is the policy? What did the president talk to Vladimir Putin about those things in Helsinki?

SANTORUM: Well, the one thing we do know is that Vladimir Putin was very -- was very clear after the -- after the conversation that the president condemned the annexation of Crimea. And, in fact, everything we've heard from a policy point of view, the president didn't reverse anything -- didn't change course on anything. So --

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute, Rick. Hold on a second.

One of the things that we heard was that he was open to Vladimir Putin's suggestion that Vladimir Putin and his military officers be able to interview -- be able to interrogate Russian diplomats. I mean, they are our U.S. diplomats to Russia -- our ambassador. SANTORUM: Yes. Again, he considered the idea.

But again, if you look at policies from a view --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but that is a policy. That is a consideration of a policy.

SANTORUM: It's all -- it's all wrapped up into the same Russia investigation. I just think you have to take the issues around the Russia meddling in the election and his conversations about that and put that in a separate box and --

CAMEROTA: Well, that's convenient, Rick. I mean, it's good that you can compartmentalize --

SANTORUM: I don't think it is convenient. I think that's just --

CAMEROTA: -- you can compartmentalize in a way that not all Americans can.

Let me ask you this. The president has just -- well, again tweeted yesterday, I believe. So at the end of this bizarre week here's what was on the president's mind.

He tweeted that "The summit was a great success." OK? I don't know what metric he's using but that's not what lots of other Republicans felt -- and pundits.

He tweeted that "The free press is the enemy of the people."

And then the White House, of course, tweeted yesterday that he's inviting Vladimir Putin. As you know, former KGB officer who has reporters killed. Also not a fan of the free press -- Vladimir Putin -- and his political rivals to the White House.

And I'm just wondering Rick, do you ever get dizzy living in upside- down world?

SANTORUM: Look, I don't like it when the president tweets out things that undermine the First Amendment.

And, you know, look, the free press is an important element in our society. Does the press get it wrong a lot and does the press vilify this president more than any president in probably the history of the country, yes.

CAMEROTA: And does this president vilify the press more than any president ever in history?

SANTORUM: I -- it's a mutual relationship. I would agree with that.

CAMEROTA: And are you -- you're comfortable with that? I mean, it is the First Amendment.

SANTORUM: No, I'm not comfortable with it but I'm not comfortable with people going after the president and accusing him of treason and calling for impeachment because of that.

CAMEROTA: You know that -- I mean, you know that these are former intel people who felt that hearing --

SANTORUM: Yes, for intel guys who have a long history of doing things that are -- that I think are more harmful to this country than what the president did. So --

CAMEROTA: You were OK -- Rick, I just have to clarify. You seem to have been comfortable standing next to Vladimir Putin and blaming America.

SANTORUM: I don't -- I don't -- first off, I'm not comfortable with that. I condemned the president for doing it.

CAMEROTA: That's what they weren't comfortable with --

SANTORUM: Well, but they --

CAMEROTA: -- and they felt that that rose to the level of calling it something to the effect of treason.

SANTORUM: It's the -- it's the greatest advantage that the president has, which is people going ballistic and going too far in condemning this president for his actions.

I think there were a lot of responsible condemnations of the president's actions and then there were some that were irresponsible and consistent with the -- with the -- with the hysterics around this president and actually give the president quarter when he does things like this.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood. I understand.

OK, one last thing and we just want to show you a photograph, Rick. This is you and Mariia Butina, the woman who has been so much in the press for the past --


CAMEROTA: -- week. She has been charged with acting as a foreign agent. This was, I think, outside an NRA convention.

Do you remember her?

[07:40:00] SANTORUM: No, I don't. I mean, I don't do background checks on people who walk up to me and ask me for pictures.

So it looks to me -- I mean, I think I had a briefcase over my shoulder. I was walking out of a convention probably and someone walked up and asked for a picture. And, you know, if someone asks me for a picture I always say yes -- so, yes.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I get it. Me, too. I do that all the time.

SANTORUM: Yes. CAMEROTA: But I'm just -- when you -- when you realized -- when you heard the news this week that she is an accused Russian --


CAMEROTA: -- spy, she's accused of offering sex for access, she was trying to make end roads with the Trump campaign --


CAMEROTA: -- and Republicans and the NRA, what did you think when you looked back at that photo?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean -- look, I didn't think anything. I thought that could have been anybody, from someone who committed other horrible crimes. But look, like I said, I don't do background checks on someone who walks up and has a -- has a tag that says they're part of they're part of the convention and they want a picture. I get a picture.

CAMEROTA: Yes, of course. I get it, I know. I totally get the picture thing. It's just now knowing what she was up to, you would be shocked.

SANTORUM: Yes, but I mean, there's nothing you can do about that.


SANTORUM: I mean, the -- you try to be -- you try to be kind to people who at least you think honestly would like their picture taken for whatever reason.

Look, I get my picture taken with folks who I know hate me and they want to go out there and say look, I hate this guy. But that's OK. I mean, that's a free country. We -- you know, it's fine to take your picture with anybody.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure that's a good use of your time but I'm sure they appreciate it.

SANTORUM: Well, I always try to be kind to people. That's the way I look at it.

CAMEROTA: Rick Santorum, thanks so much --

SANTORUM: All right.

CAMEROTA: -- for giving us your perspective on all of this -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He's free to take pictures.

CAMEROTA: And to pose in them.

BERMAN: That's the takeaway.

CAMEROTA: That's right. BERMAN: All right.

Listen, there was this horrible boat accident overnight in Missouri near Branson. Eleven people dead, six still missing.

This is pretty horrifying video of what happened. Clearly, the winds and surf were kicking up there.

We're going to speak to the president of the company that owns this duck boat -- operates it. He'll join us, next.


[07:45:39] BERMAN: All right, there is breaking news to report this morning.

Eleven people are dead, including children, after a tourist duck boat capsized near Branson, Missouri. Six people are still missing. At this moment, rescue crews are searching in Table Rock Lake, looking for possible survivors.

Joining us now on the phone is Jim Pattison, Jr. He's the president of Ripley Entertainment, owner of the Ride the Ducks Branson company.

Jim, thank you so much for being with us. Our thoughts are with you this morning.

I wonder if you have any update on the search for the six missing people.

JIM PATTISON, JR., PRESIDENT, RIPLEY ENTERTAINMENT (via telephone): We do not. I know that everybody's working diligently to make sure we can find everybody and -- but we have not have heard any news this morning.

BERMAN: I understand there were two crew members on board the vessel at the time that it ran into trouble. Do you have any update on their condition this morning?

PATTISON: Yes. The captain was taken to the hospital and he's been overnighted but appears to be -- he'll be OK. And our other team member is not -- still missing.

BERMAN: One team member is still missing.


BERMAN: We're watching this video, Jim -- I think we've all seen it now -- of that boat out on the lake with these very big waves, the wind clearly gusting. And the question so many people have is why was the boat out there in these conditions?

PATTISON: Well, my understanding is -- and we'll be working with the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard who regulate our industry -- but it was almost like a microburst. It was -- we had boats out there. It was perfectly calm and then we

had a high-speed wind system that just came out of nowhere and -- out of that storm front -- and there -- and there we were. So --

BERMAN: It came out of nowhere. I do understand there is one report there was a severe thunderstorm warning issued at 6:30, which was about a half an hour before I think this video we're seeing right now.

What did they know about the weather conditions when they went out?

PATTISON: Well, I think -- and again, I don't know all of the details but my understanding was that when the boat when in the water it was calm. And that partway through, coming back, is when everything -- when the waves picked up and then obviously, it swamped the boat.

BERMAN: What are the guidelines with which you operate under when it comes to severe weather?

PATTISON: Well, obviously, we shouldn't be out there in severe weather.

So again, we've operated -- this company has been in business for 47 years and never had an incident. And we're absolutely devastated and we feel -- we feel terrible just for all the customers, friends -- all the victims and their families.

BERMAN: And again, as you noted, there is one crew member who is still missing.


BERMAN: Your message to the families of the people onboard this vessel?

PATTISON: Well, we just -- people are supposed to be able to go out for an outing and have a good time and this -- and it should never end this way. So, there's not much more you can say.

BERMAN: Do you train -- or what is the training for operating in unforeseen weather conditions?

PATTISON: Well, they're all -- we're regulated, again, by the Coast Guard and so we have two crew members who are -- both captain and a CDL driver. In this particular case, our captain has been employed with us for 16 years and was very experienced on the lake and the business.

BERMAN: And we do know there were life jackets on board. The regulations don't require, though, that they be worn at all times. Is that correct?

PATTISON: That's correct.

BERMAN: Do you have any reporting about whether or not people did have the time to put the life jackets on when the conditions became rough? PATTISON: We don't know that yet.

BERMAN: Have you had a chance to talk to the other boat -- the people on it -- the operators that did make it back?

PATTISON: Just one.


[07:50:00] PATTISON: And it was -- it was calm and there was not any issues and they got out of the water. And then it hit shortly thereafter.

BERMAN: But what time did this vessel -- the one involved in the incident that sunk -- what time did it leave the dock initially?

PATTISON: I don't know the answer to that question right now.

BERMAN: And is that something that is perhaps central to the investigation now?

PATTISON: Well, I'm sure it will be and -- I mean, everything is central to the investigation going forward here.

BERMAN: And as far as you know, what is the status of the search? Are the divers back in the water this morning? What's happening now?

PATTISON: Yes, my understanding is yes.

BERMAN: And how will today play out?

PATTISON: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, I don't know. But, you know, it's very, very difficult to imagine something like this happening and absolutely devastating news.

BERMAN: All right. Jim Pattison, owner of the company, Ripley Entertainment that owns the duck boat that sank inside this lake you're watching right now near Branson, Missouri.

Jim, thanks so much for being with us. We are thinking of you and again, I do know that one member of your company -- one of the crew members of that boat is still missing and we do hope the best for him and his family.

Thank you.

PATTISON: Appreciate that. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. It's heartbreaking to listen to him, it's heartbreaking to watch that video.

I've been on duck boats, of course. There are -- there were kids on that duck boat. It's supposed to be just a super fun touristy thing to do and that looks oh, I mean, just like the most hellish experience you could ever imagine. BERMAN: And the key question is though, he says it was calm when the boat went out. Well, we know there was a severe thunderstorm warning 30 minutes before it capsized.

When did it go out? Was that warning issued before it went out? What did they know? Those are important questions to answer.

CAMEROTA: All right.

We also have an update on the NFL for you and the players' kneeling issue. There's a development. We'll be right back.


[07:56:43] CAMEROTA: OK. So, the NFL and its Players Association putting the league's new National Anthem policy on hold for now.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." What's going on, Andy?


You know, back in May, the NFL owners voted to put a National Anthem rule in place that they did -- that teams would be fined if one of their players didn't stand and show respect during the National Anthem. It allowed for players if they wanted to, to stay in the locker room.

Now, the NFL then left it up to the teams on how they would punish their own players who didn't follow this new Anthem rule. And with training camps on the horizon, teams were required to submit their plans to the League on how they would discipline players for a rule violation.

Now, the Players Association has opposed the Anthem rule since its announcement, saying it infringes on player rights. And both sides, on Thursday, saying they feel like they need more time to sort this out.

The NFL and the Players Association coming to an agreement to put the Anthem policy on hold while they continue to work on a resolution.

In a joint statement, they said, "No new rules relating to the Anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing."

And the NFL preseason, it kicks off in less than two weeks so guys, they don't have much time to figure this out. And the last thing the NFL wants heading into another season is for the Anthem protest to just dominate the conversation.

BERMAN: Yes, they thought they had put this behind them. Boy, they have not -- not at all.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much for being with us.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: We're following a lot of news so let's get right to it.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, July 20th, 8:00 in the east.

And major news in Washington overnight where things just keep getting more bizarre -- Twilight Zone-ish bizarre.

Despite the bipartisan backlash over Monday's meeting in Helsinki, President Trump has invited the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House this fall, perhaps around the midterm election day.

CAMEROTA: But it seems not everyone got the memo about this invitation. The president's top intelligence, Dan Coats, found out about this invitation while he was on stage at a security conference.

So watch this awkward moment.


ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS, HOST, "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS": The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.


MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin coming to the --

COATS: Did I hear you -- did I hear you --

MITCHELL: Yes, yes.

COATS: OK. That's going to be special.


CAMEROTA: All right.

Joining us now, we have CNN national security commentator and former House Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers. And, director, president, and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Jane Harman. Great to see both of you.

Mike Rogers, it's been a bizarre week and -- I mean, I was just saying to John yesterday, did Helsinki only happen on Monday? I cannot believe everything -- all of the different topsy-turvy turns that this week has taken, capped by the president extending an invitation to Vladimir Putin to the White House this fall.

Can you just make sense of everything that we've seen this week?


What worries me about that -- and I thought Dan Coats did a fine job at trying to play it off and try to make a -- put a little humor on that problem.