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President Trump Falsely Claims Putin Did Not Want Him To Win; Putin Said He Did; Wanted: Action, Not Words On Election Security; Police Search Home of Suspect in Houston Doctor's Murder. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired August 3, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:52] DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: We've been talking a lot this morning about keeping the president honest. Well, President Trump making this claim about Russia during his rally last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won. That I can tell you.


GREGORY: Funny, that's not what Vladimir Putin said less than three weeks ago standing side-by-side with Mr. Trump.


JEFF MASON, REPORTER, REUTERS: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Yes, I did. Yes, I did because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.


GREGORY: Just another example of what "The Washington Post" fact- checker says are more than 4,200 false claims the president has made since taking office nearly 19 months ago.

CNN global affairs analyst and staff writer at "The New Yorker," Susan Glasser, just put out a column about the motivation behind the falsehoods and she joins me now.

Susan, good morning.


GREGORY: It's good to have an opportunity to kind of step back and try to understand what is going on. In the latest example, you see a president who our reporting suggests

directed his national security team to brief the country on the threats of Russian interference who then hours later says it's a hoax -- it never really happened.

[07:35:05] How are we to process this?

GLASSER: Well, look, I think that that's why it's such a valuable service to have that fact-checker column, right? It's giving us metrics that confirm and give us real evidence to suggest what we intuitively feel, which is that the lying isn't accidental, it's purposeful. It's on purpose, in fact.

And it's a key part of his political identity at this point, especially in rallies like the one we saw last night. I mean, to me, it's as identifiable with Donald Trump at this point as his "Make American Great Again" slogan.

GREGORY: And if -- for anybody who might think well, you know, all politicians lie and everybody goes after the press, it's a bit more benign. And I do think we can overplay the idea of the hostility toward the press which has been present, especially in this fractured political landscape -- a more tribal politics for many years -- he does take it to a different level.

And at a time when we're worried about actual propaganda, actual misinformation pervading social media, to have the president going out there saying no, what you just read in "The New Yorker" or on CNN or in "The New York Times" is absolutely fake is beyond a disservice. It is really an assault on what people can believe is truthful.

GLASSER: Well look, again, we've been so barraged with this from the president over the last few years -- including, of course, in his campaign -- that I do think we've become desensitized to it which is why it's important to look at it. Step back, look at it clinically and say this is actually a strategic assault on the truth. These falsehoods are calculated.

It's very interesting. I had a long conversation with the author of that column, Glenn Kessler, and he's been doing this -- living in this reality of these untruths for the last several years.

And I think that's what leaps out to me is that it's calculated. These are, for example, very much in tune with President Trump's political priorities. So what does he lie about the most? What are the untruths, what are the categories? They're absolutely consistent with his own political priorities.

So he's lying about immigration, he's lying about the economy and trade, and increasingly, about Russia. He's lying about Europe and NATO over and over and over again. Also, he repeats the same statements.

So in the past, right, we had politicians with shame. But now, you can say to President Trump well, you have a 4-Pinocchio whopper. And guess what, he's going to repeat it over and over and over again. And so I think it's important for us to look at what's the role it's playing in his politics. It's become his secret sauce, if you will, of his political identity.

And now, there's the question of who should we hold accountable for it? Is it just the president or is it his advisers as well to blame for this.

GREGORY: Right, and that goes to the question of how you handle Putin -- I mean, your experience covering Russia -- covering the Russian government.

You know, there's an emphasis I think in our press corps right now to kind of get out these gotcha moments, but particularly with the Russian leader, to sort of pin him down asking questions like well, did you want Trump to be elected.

Which I think Putin does not believe in a free press. Putin believes in playing with the press in these public settings. And so I wonder if that approach is a mistake.

But at the same time, I'm wondering how does Putin absorb and use to his purposes the fact that we have an American president who will deliberately say things that are untrue, especially about him and the relationship?

GLASSER: Well, you know, I'm glad you asked that because the thing about Putin and Trump is that in one way, they share a very cynical worldview. In particular, a very cynical view of journalism and journalists.

And so actually, Donald Trump, in a way, has confirmed everything that Putin always thought about America. It's what he thinks about his press at home. That it's up for sale, that's it not honest and on the level.

Kompromat is a word you've heard a lot --


GLASSER: -- over the last couple of years.

That basically, we journalists are not honest, and we can be purchased, and we will do and say what those in power want us to do.

And, Donald Trump shares that worldview and so he's sort of undercut the main argument that presidents in both parties previously had standing with Putin, which is to say our system is different and we have a free press. They might beat me up from time to time and I might not like what they do, but I'll stand for their right to do it.

Now we have a president who essentially has caved in to the Russian point of view on this and that undercuts his ability, of course, to negotiate as an equal or as a -- as a leader in the world.

GREGORY: Right. And again, to your point, it becomes his political identity so that lying is, in effect, his way of saying I stand outside of the government that I head and that I'm still out there fighting for you.

[07:40:04] And he has a certain segment of his supporters who are cheering for him to do that and cheering against the media in that sense.

Susan Glasser of "The New Yorker." Thanks so much, as always.

GLASSER: Thank you.

GREGORY: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: David, as you two have been discussing, it is President Trump versus his administration on election security. So we're going to get a reality check for you, next.


CAMEROTA: OK, who needs some reality about the --

GREGORY: I do. This reality's not enough.


GREGORY: I need a check on this reality.

CAMEROTA: I have one for you.

GREGORY: Do you, really?

CAMEROTA: It's time now for our daily CNN reality check. Senior political analyst John Avlon joins us with more on the Trump administration's response to the Russian election threat.

Hello, mister reality.


I've got bad news for you.

Quote, "Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs." So said the director of Homeland Security, flanked by the director of National Intelligence, the National Security adviser, and the FBI director yesterday at the White House, all warning that Russia is actively attacking our elections.

Now, if someone would only tell the president.

Also missing in action, Congress, and badly needed funding for election security.

But let's start with the president. We've all seen his odd repeated reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin and his impulse to take Russia's word about election interference over our own intelligence agencies.

Well, last night, President Trump was back at it again, undercutting his administration's carefully calibrated united front, dismissing that Russian hoax at a rally in Pennsylvania.

[07:45:05] This disconnect is disturbing and because tone comes from the top it has muddled our nation's response to date.

Just five months, DHS official Bob Kolasky, the man in charge of election cybersecurity, told the "The Daily Beast" quote, "We have not seen any significant nefarious activity from Russia in the 2018 midterm elections." That statement now appears to be inoperative.

We've seen the deep disconnect between the partisan House Intelligence Committee and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee's reports of Russian involvement in our elections.

And earlier this week, shamefully, we saw the Senate vote down a $250 million appropriation to fund state election security efforts. This vote was split along partisan lines, with the exception of retiring Tennessee Republican and frequent Trump critic, Bob Corker.

This is despite the fact that the campaign of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was just targeted by the Russians.

As Oklahoma Republican James Lankford said on "NEW DAY" yesterday, "I would be shocked if there's a senator who hasn't been hacked."

Election security is national security. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. But the president has been lagging rather than leading.

The former Trump White House official in charge of national security -- cybersecurity -- Tom Bossert, telling Yahoo News that he was concerned there was no one quote "minding the store" when it came to cybersecurity in the White House. Unaccountably, his position has remained open since April.

The Democrat Mike Quigley proposed $380 million for election security earlier this year and found his funding proposal zeroed out by Republicans. He told me quote, "They're putting the country's democratic process at risk so the president doesn't look bad. The fact that the president's calling it a hoax and a witch hunt, it makes us less prepared."

But let's hope that the clear-eyed officials in the Trump administration and not the Trump we saw at last night's rally rule the day. But that means moving beyond words.

It means letting the Mueller probe continue so we know the full extent of Russian interference in the '16 election. It means relentlessly combatting the online disinformation campaigns that blur the lines between fact and fiction with confirmation by his conspiracy theory clickbait.

And it means fully funding election security efforts across partisan lines and backing the bipartisan bill which would require dramatically increased sanctions on countries that dare to interfere with our elections.

Our representatives should vote like our democracy depends on it because it does.

And that's your reality check.

GREGORY: John Avlon --

CAMEROTA: Injecting reality for us. So needed. You have your work cut out for you, John.

Thank you very much.

GREGORY: Meantime, the suspect in the murder of a Houston cardiologist is still on the run this morning. What he did before the crime that is getting the attention of police now when we come back.


[07:51:50] GREGORY: This morning, Houston police are searching the home of a suspected killer of a prominent cardiologist. That suspect, Joseph Pappas, is still on the loose this morning. We're learning more about what he did in the days leading up to the murder.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Houston with more and been on the story all week. Good morning, Ed.


Well, overnight, police were called out to the home here in southwest Houston where Joseph Pappas lived and has not been seen now for several days. In fact, one neighbor told us he was last seen Sunday morning mowing the lawn here. That would have been several days after the murder of Dr. Mark Hausknecht.

But investigators had been tipped off that they possibly had seen -- that someone had possibly seen a man riding his bike in this area and they believed it might have been Pappas.

They spent several hours here at the home last night and it turned out not to be the case. They went inside and found the house empty.

But we've also learned here that in the morning of the murder on July 20th, Joseph Pappas filed paperwork -- or had paperwork filed in a Houston courthouse to turn over the deed of this house to a woman in Ohio. This was all done just moments before the murder was carried out near the Texas Medical Center, not too far from where we are here this morning.

In that -- the woman, who was deeded the house by Pappas, told an Ohio newspaper that she had spoken with Pappas and that he told her that he a terminal illness and planned on committing suicide.

Now, police investigators tell me that when they went inside this house earlier this week they discovered vast amounts of evidence that really showed just painstaking planning, in the words of the police chief here, that went into the murder of Dr. Mark Hausknecht.


ART ACEVEDO, POLICE CHIEF, HOUSTON, TEXAS: This man was actually studying this doctor -- studying what he was doing for a while from the evidence we've uncovered -- I'm not going to talk about specific evidence -- and it took great planning and ultimately, great skill to do what he did.

He was in great shape, he's a great marksman, and he's a great danger. So let's hope that somebody knows where he's at and calls us.


GREGORY: So Ed, what are -- what are -- what are they following now as a number one lead to try to find him? Is there anything that they've found in the house or in speaking to any of the people -- like the "Courier" who had come to the house -- that would give them some indication of where he might have gone?

LAVANDERA: Well, we do know that his car was left here at the house. The police chief tells me that they believe that he simply rode away from the scene in his neighborhood on his own bicycle.

So police are kind of running the gamut here. This is a man who has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and police are very concerned about his tactical and firearm abilities and that sort of thing. But they also say he could simply have gone somewhere and committed suicide.

So kind of a wide range of possibilities here that authorities are dealing with and concerned about right now.

GREGORY: And presumably, he's only gone so far on his bicycle so maybe that gives them some lead to work with.

Ed Lavandera down in Houston for us. Thanks, Ed.

[07:55:00] CAMEROTA: OK.

In Tennessee, Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn and the state's former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen are set to face off in November for the Senate seat that is being vacated by Bob Corker. Both won their primaries on Thursday.

Congressman Diane Black, though, lost her bid for GOP nomination for governor. She was endorsed by Vice President Pence but not by President Trump.

GREGORY: An Iowa family raising $172,000 as a reward to find their missing daughter. The parents of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts say they believe that she is still alive. Their daughter disappeared on July 18th in Brooklyn, Iowa, a small community an hour east of Des Moines.

Mollie's brother dropped her off at her boyfriend's house that day so she could dog sit. She was last seen jogging around 7:30 that evening.

CAMEROTA: Well, the Trump administration unveiling plans to roll back a signature Obama-era environmental regulation. They want to freeze a rule mandating that automakers build more fuel-efficient cars.

The administration also proposed an end to California's Clean Air Act waiver which allowed other states to opt in to using California's higher standards.

California's former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laying into the president over these moves. He called the California one a quote "stupid, fake, conservative policy" and said if the president thinks he can win this fight he's out of his mind.

GREGORY: President Trump once again in the crosshairs of comedians. Here are your late-night laughs.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Trump is pushing for an interview with Mueller against his lawyers' advice.

Yes, Trump has said from the beginning that he wants to talk to Mueller one-on-one. And his lawyers have said from the beginning why did I go to law school? I could have been a dentist. I'd rather be up to my elbows in someone else's spit.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": Our president gave himself a little pat down this afternoon. He tweeted, "Working hard, thank you. Fifty percent approval rating."

Congratulations. Only half the country doesn't like you.

It's like a kid who comes home with a report card. Look, mom, I got an F.

COLBERT: Prosecutors are trying to convince the jury that Manafort knowingly deceived the government and the banks, all so he could live a lavish lifestyle.

These jackets are what he was wearing.

This boxy, pin-striped number would look great in the corner office or a high school production of "Guys and Dolls." This one screams they just took my thumbs, Charlie. And this $18,000 python-skin jacket says watch me unhinge my jaw and swallow a poodle whole.

Basically, his closet looks like if a blind pimp got 100 wishes.


CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

GREGORY: That's just -- it's harsh, it's harsh. But the python thing I think is -- I think we can all agree. CAMEROTA: That swallowing a poodle whole is funny?

GREGORY: The python jacket maybe crosses a line.

CAMEROTA: And also, the "Guys and Dolls" costume --


CAMEROTA: -- shop is also fantastic.

All right, we are following a lot of news for you this morning so let's get right to it.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY: We continue to see a campaign by Russia to try to divide the United States.

TRUMP: Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: We have a president that is not part of our deterrent package.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: President Putin said the first issue that President Trump raised was election meddling.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: We don't have a cyber policy. This is a desperate need.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Manafort's bookkeeper testified by 2016 he was flat broke and sending out fake business statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manafort saw a lot of money to be gained from Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll see how he reacts when Rick Gates takes the stand. He is going to be the smoking gun.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, August third, 8:00 in the east.

John Berman is off. David Gregory joins me. It's been a great week with you.

GREGORY: The same, interesting.

CAMEROTA: But you're not leaving yet.

GREGORY: No, we've got more -- CAMEROTA: You've got another hour.

GREGORY: We've got more to do. Let's do it.


The nation's top security officials are trying to warn Americans about what the Kremlin is doing to disrupt the upcoming midterm election.


NIELSEN: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs.

COATS: We acknowledge the threat is real.


CAMEROTA: But for whatever reason, President Trump does not believe that. Here's what he said just hours after they spoke.


TRUMP: Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK?


CAMEROTA: We don't know why the president is ignoring the warnings of his intel and national security chiefs or why he sent them to the podium to say all of that, but it highlights one of the most puzzling contradictions of this presidency.

Why does President Trump believe Vladimir Putin over the top U.S. officials who say that the threat is real and that democracy is in the crosshairs?

GREGORY: That is his Homeland Security chief who made that point.

It's been nearly three weeks since the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki. We still don't know what the two leaders discussed in private.

The director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he still does not --