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Feud Between Trump & Omarosa Escalates; CNN Poll: 42% Approve of Job Trump is Doing as President; U.K. Police: London Attack Outside Parliament was 'Deliberate'. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there is genuinely a logical way home for Mollie.

[07:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you and I miss you; and everybody wants you to come home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill here with me this morning. Great to have you here.

And again, it really is a very special episode of America's most jaw- dropping reality show. In the past, President Trump heaped praise on his former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman. Now he's calling her wacky and deranged. This is what he wrote, an eye-opening statement that there are no tapes of him using the "N"-word while filming "The Apprentice."

On the other side, in the past, Omarosa has also praised the president. But overnight, she called him a racist who should be impeached and says she has more tapes from her time inside the White House, which she said she'd be happy to share with the special counsel and which, by the way, we understand she's releasing some new recordings within the next few minutes.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be watching for those.

And as all that drama is playing out, a new CNN poll finds two-thirds of Americans want Robert Mueller to wrap up the Russia investigation before the November midterm elections. It's a finding likely to sit well with the president, as is this one. For the first time, President Trump's approval rating is higher than some of his predecessors at this point in their presidency.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip was live this morning at the White House.

Abby, good morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. The White House is ramping up their attacks on Omarosa Manigault-

Newman, claiming that she has no credibility, in an effort to stop the traction of this book that's coming out. And the president is the one leading the charge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump fighting back against claims by former senior White House aide Omarosa Newman that he used the "N"- word while filming "The Apprentice." In a late-night tweet, the president insisting, "I don't have that word in my vocabulary and never have."

Omarosa providing no proof, alleging she heard him use the racial slur on tapes but only after her book had gone to press.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: How many times did you hear Mr. Trump, your former boss, how many times did you hear him use the "N"-word?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Multiple times. It sounded as if he used it every day.

PHILLIPS: Omarosa claiming during interviews that she had a conference call in 2016 with former Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller; former Trump Organization employee Lynn Patton; and former Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, where Pierson said she knew he used the word. Omarosa's allegations coming with widespread denials from people quoted in her book.

KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: That is absolutely not true. I have no sources with that tape. She was the only one that brought this tape up. People that I've checked with who she's mentioned have no idea what she's talking about.

PHILLIP: While defending himself against Omarosa's attacks, President Trump apparently confirming White House staffers are asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Omarosa claims the Trump re-election campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month job in exchange for signing an NDA, where she would have to promise and agree to not demean or disparage the administration and Trump family members.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: I never signed that draconian NDA that they presented to me when I walked into the White House.

PHILLIP: Omarosa coming under fire for secretly recording a conversation with chief of staff John Kelly in the White House situation room and a phone call she had with President Trump after she was fired.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): Omarosa, what's going on? I just saw in the news that you're thinking about leaving. What happened?

MANIGAULT-KELLY: General Kelly -- General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.

TRUMP: No, nobody even told me about it.

MANIGAULT-KELLY: Wow.

TRUMP: You know, they run a big operation, but I didn't know it. I didn't know that. Goddamn it. I don't love you leaving at all.

PHILLIP: The recordings stoking White House fears that others may have taped conversations and concerns about what else Omarosa could divulge in the coming days.

MANIGAULT-KELLY: I have a significant amount, in fact, a treasure- trove of multimedia back for everything that's not only in "Unhinged" but everything that I assert about Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Omarosa even hinting that she's been in communication with the special counsel.

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: Oh, I have plenty.

MATTHEWS: Anything Mueller would like to see, Mr. Robert Mueller?

MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: If he -- if he -- if his office calls again, anything they want, I'll share.

MATTHEWS: Would you be a good witness in this investigation?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: And with the book out today, Omarosa is not going away quietly. She has interviews scheduled for this morning. And as you mentioned, John, more recordings that she's promised to release as soon as today. And this really is the crux of the problem for the White House: what more does Omarosa have recorded from her time here in this building, John?

BERMAN: What more, indeed. Abby Phillip for us at the White House. And we are listening to see what is on those new tapes Omarosa claims she will release this morning.

In the meantime, new this morning, breaking news. A new CNN poll shows that two-thirds of Americans want Special Counsel Robert Mueller to wrap up his Russia investigation before the November midterms. And for the first time President Trump's approval rating is actually higher than some of his predecessors at this point in their presidency.

[07:05:09] What does this all mean? One man knows. CNN political director David Chalian joins us now with the new numbers -- David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, John.

We'll get back to those big numbers you were talking about in the Russia investigation numbers in a moment.

First, his overall approval rating: President Trump at 42 percent. That's three points higher than our last poll. But he has just been remarkably consistent, staying in this low-40s range for, basically, the duration of his presidency.

And you noted the bit of history we showed there, too, which is that for the first time in our polling, Donald Trump is not at the bottom of this list when we compare him to his predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

In the August of the second year, Reagan, Clinton and Carter all numerically below where Trump is now. Clearly, that will be welcome news.

As for the Russia investigation, Donald Trump's overall approval rating is still pretty dismal. This is one of his worst issues, his handling of the Russia investigation. He's upside-down 21 points. Thirty-four percent approve, 55 disapprove.

But this 34 percent, John, that's up five points. And what is driving it? Well, nearly 77 percent of Americans want to see him testify if he's indeed asked to do so under oath. It's those people mainly, Democrats, I should say, who are feeling a little bit better about how he's handling the investigation, which may give Trump and Rudy Giuliani some solace in their strategy that having Trump out there saying, "Hey, I want to sit down with Mueller. I want to talk to him," have these prolonged public negotiations may be helping his approval rating here.

Then you mentioned the big number. I think this is the biggest number in our poll today. Sixty-six percent, two thirds of Americans, think Bob Mueller should wrap this up before the midterms in November.

And if you look at it by party, this is just astonishing, because usually, the Russia investigation is completely polarized. But if you look at this number by party, Republicans at 72 percent; 69 percent of independents say she should wrap up before the midterms. Fifty-seven percent, a majority, of Democrats believe so.

This is clearly going to be very welcome news to the president. He's going to use this as a message throughout the day, I'm sure, saying, "You see? We told Mueller he has to wrap it up."

But I would just note, a majority of Democrats also want him to wrap it up, and that may be because they think there's some proof there and that is going to somehow help them win the midterm elections.

In fact, when you look at Mueller's approval rating, he's up six points, 47 percent. Again, largely driven by Democrats. But up six points in his approval rating since the last poll.

And what does it mean for the midterms and how people think the Russia investigation will impact their vote? Thirty percent of Americans in this poll conducted by SSRS say it is extremely important to their vote. That's up seven points: 15 percent very important, 53 percent not important. And again, Democrats are driving this, so we are seeing in this poll that Democrats are starting to really believe that this is an extremely important issue to their vote in November -- John, Erica.

BERMAN: What does it all mean? David Chalian, stick around. What does it mean for Omarosa? We'll discuss that, as well.

Joining us Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst and staff writer for "The New Yorker."

Jeffrey Toobin, about this poll, that 66 percent want the Robert Mueller investigation wrapped up by the midterms is a fascinating number. As David points out, it could be that Democrats think that it will help, that it will have incriminating information on the president. That's why they want it out.

But just by historical comparison, if we can put up the list of past investigations, this has gone on for 15 months. That's not that long, relatively speaking. You look at Benghazi, Iran-Contra, which you know intimately well --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right.

BERMAN: -- Whitewater, Benghazi. You know, it's not that long comparatively.

TOOBIN: That's true. And if I may disagree with my younger identical twin brother Chalian, so what? I mean, 66 percent -- they don't care. Like, America -- first of all, Mueller doesn't care what his polling numbers are. But also, like, half those people want it over, as David said, because they think it's already proved that --

CHALIAN: Just like David said. So you're not disagreeing with me, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Well, yes, I guess I sort of am disagreeing with you. I never like to disagree with you, David. But I just think this number doesn't tell us anything.

In particular, what I think is the most important thing about this poll, as you said at the beginning, Trump's numbers never change. I mean, we have breaking news on CNN constantly whether it's Mueller or Helsinki or anything else and his polling numbers haven't changed, you know, outside the margin of error in a year and a half. It's just amazing to me.

BERMAN: Perhaps the most offensive thing you said to David is that he looks like you. That identical twin comment, that was low. That was low.

TOOBIN: He should probably sue.

HILL: Yes. We know where he'd get a good lawyer.

You know, the other thing you bring up that I think is really interesting is when you look at this number of two-thirds say they want it wrapped up, is that a "I want it wrapped up just to wrap it up, because the actual investigation itself is finishing up. We just want it done"? And to me, what that paints is a very damaging picture for any investigation moving forward, that we get to the point where it's all just about public perception. We don't want it wrapped up because the actually investigation itself is finishing up. We just want to be done.

[06:10:13] TOOBIN: Well, I think that if you were to ask the Republicans why they want it wrapped up, certainly that would be the reason. But Democrats want it wrapped up because they want impeachment proceedings to start. That's why it's very hard to unpack that 66 percent number.

HILL: But I mean, partially to your point, I mean moving forward. This is the way we're looking at things, right?

So now the next investigation, whatever it may be, they all of a sudden as soon as it's announced, you want it over with because you want to get to that next part. And no one even cares about the findings anymore, because everybody has made up their mind.

TOOBIN: I mean, that's been the success, I think, of Rudy Giuliani to turn this into a completely partisan issue.

BERMAN: So David Chalian --

CHALIAN: I just -- it's that point, Jeffrey, why I think the poll number is significant, because as you've noted time and again, this is less about a legal strategy and much more about a political strategy. And so by -- I agree with you. There are differences as to why Democrats want it over or Republicans want it over. I think that that is a fascinating conversation to have.

But the fact that two-thirds of Americans want to see this done before the midterms, the fact that the midterms -- the importance of this investigation to people thinking about their midterm vote is on the rise, that Mueller's approval is on the rise. This is becoming a bigger issue than we'd seen. And the Trump/Giuliani camp talking point has been to wrap it up, and now they have a data point to help them sell that in the political argument that they want to make. That's why I think it's a pretty significant poll number.

BERMAN: And David, if I can ask you one of the Toobin-sanctioned areas of the poll, which gets to the president's overall approval rating, which sits at 42 percent, if we can put up on the screen again where that ranks among past presidents.

Because as you noted, David, for the first time his approval rating is actually higher than past presidents at this time in their administration, Reagan, Clinton and Carter, and below Obama in 2010.

You know, again, the White House will look at this and say, "Hey, look, things are good for us." So the fact of the matter is every other president has gone up and down. Reagan, Clinton, Carter were all way above that at times and then actually went back above that from where they were here. Trump never moves.

And one other point. We don't have this to put up on the screen, I'll just note, at 47 percent approval rating, President Obama lost 63 seats in the 2010 elections. Reagan, right around where Trump was, lost 26 seats in the midterms. Clinton in '94 lost 54 seats. So that, while it may be a number that, relatively speaking looks

better for the Trump administration, is still extremely perilous for them.

CHALIAN: No doubt about it. His -- his poll numbers are not good poll numbers. No president would say, "Hey, please let me just hang out in the low 40s for the entirety of my administration."

He has been remarkably solid, because people are so dug in on him, whether for him or against him. And we also do see the energy is a little bit -- you know, people feel more strongly opposed to him than they feel strongly for him. That's also been a remarkably stable trend, John.

But I will note, you just cited the midterm losses for Obama, for Clinton, for Reagan. All three of those guys went on to win second terms.

TOOBIN: Now, I mean, I just think that's an extremely important point. That all these presidents have had terrible midterm elections but go on to get re-elected. Now, you know, history does not necessarily repeat itself; but the fact that, you know, a president can do really poorly in a midterm election does not mean that they won't get re-elected. In fact, the evidence, at least in recent history, is to the contrary.

BERMAN: Now you're just sucking up to Chalian.

TOOBIN: It's true. It's true, because he knows so much more than I do.

BERMAN: Can we talk about Omarosa?

TOOBIN: Please. Please.

BERMAN: Non-disclosure agreements in the White House, Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: Yes. I mean, they exist, but they are probably unenforceable.

I mean, the interesting thing about non-disclosure agreements is that they are signed, in many cases, but they are rarely actually brought to court. And for a government employee, I think it's even less likely that a court would enforce it.

Omarosa's publisher would like nothing more than litigation over her non-disclosure agreement, just to give this story more oxygen and more attention. I suspect, tragically for Omarosa fans like myself, she will -- the circus will move on, and she will not be the big story that she is for much longer.

HILL: Not without a fight.

TOOBIN: Not without a fight from her, that's for sure.

HILL: David, as we stay on this topic for just another beat, when we look at, you know, Omarosa promising more to come out this morning, the president, I mean, really going all in on this. And as John pointed out earlier, going so far not just to call out Omarosa, to point out that he received a call from Mark Burnett to remind him that, no, he never used a racial slur, didn't say anything disparaging.

CHALIAN: Said there were no tapes.

HILL: There are no tapes. You're right. That's not what he said. He said there are no tapes. That is a very important distinction.

This is remarkable, and yet at the same time, it's not exactly surprising, David.

[07:15:05] CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, I would -- I think Donald Trump is probably going to help Omarosa sell a lot of books here, because he's gotten down to her level here, the president of the United States has, in trying to refute charges individually and get validators on board. You know, if you've never used that word, then there can't be a tape that exists of it. You probably don't need validators to come out and state that.

So the fact that the president of the United States is sort of spending his time trying to beat back these charges from his former reality TV co-host star that he made is just astonishing, guys.

TOOBIN: But one of the classic Donald Trump things is that he never leaves a tax unanswered. Classic P.R. advice is ignore her; she'll go away. He doesn't do that. And you know what? It got him elected president of the United States. So who are we to criticize?

HILL: There we go.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin and David Chalian, and we're so glad that you are here with us this morning. And I have a sense you'll be back a little bit later. Appreciate it.

HILL: We are following breaking news out of London this morning. We do now have surveillance video of the moment a driver crashes through security barriers outside the Houses of Parliament, hitting several pedestrians. Police say the attack was deliberate.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live near the scene with the breaking details for us.

Erin, good morning.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erica.

They're treating this as a terrorism-related incident, but there's still much we do not know about what exactly unfolded here in the heart of London.

Earlier this morning, the assistant police commissioner just gave a press conference. They're still working to identify the suspect, identified only as a man in his late 20s. They're also working to determine his motive. They're saying that he

is not cooperating with authorities at this point to say why exactly, at 7:43 in the morning, you see him driving erratically, believed to be deliberately, into a security barrier just outside of Parliament.

Now, two individuals were injured in that. A man and a woman brought to hospital. The man has since been discharged. The woman more seriously injured, but those injuries not believed to be life- threatening at this point.

But essentially, the incident has turned the heart of London into an active crime scene. Just behind me, as I move out of the way as the bus gets out of the way, as well, you can see a very heavy police presence. There's Westminster Abbey. There's Big Ben, Parliament Square just over that way. The entire thing has been cordoned off. A number of police response units there. Fire, as well as ambulances there, as well as authorities still working to piece together the motive behind what happened here this morning, Erica.

HILL: All right. We'll continue to check in for further updates. Erica, thank you.

We are also following another breaking story at this hour, this one out of Genoa, Italy. This is the scene where a portion of a bridge has collapsed. I mean, what we're talking about was just on the left- hand side of your screen there.

Authorities say -- look at that -- the bridge gave way during a storm. So you see it being battered in the video. And you see portions of it go down there. There is understandably at this hour a frantic rescue effort underway to try to save anyone who may be trapped in that rubble.

Again, we are staying on this. This is a developing story out of Genoa, Italy. And we'll continue to bring you more information as it comes into us here at CNN.

BERMAN: Look at that, just gone. The bridge is just gone. We'll keep you updated on that.

So President Trump says Omarosa signed a non-disclosure agreement. "The Washington Post" says they are commonplace in this White House. Is that really normal? We'll talk to two people who have worked in past --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:22:45] BERMAN: President Trump writes that former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman signed a non-disclosure agreement. This as Newman continues her media blitz for her tell-all memoir. Omarosa says she refused to sign the deal, but "The Washington Post" reports NDAs are commonplace in this White House, the Trump White House.

Let's bring in Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton White House press secretary; and Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, both now CNN political commentators. Gentlemen, first some administrative business. Joe, first to you. Did you sign a non-disclosure agreement when you worked in the Clinton White House?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I did not, and I've never heard of a non-disclosure agreement by anyone in any White House until the last couple of days, actually.

BERMAN: Scott Jennings, were you ever asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the Bush White House?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I was not.

BERMAN: What would you have thought, had you been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement while you worked in the Bush White House?

JENNINGS: It's an interesting question. I mean, when I went to the White House, I was in my mid-20s, and so I've thought about that a lot. And you probably would have signed it, you know, for a chance to work in the White House.

I heard the legal analyst say earlier it's probably unenforceable, so I imagine if people are signing these things, they're thinking, "Well, this is what you've got to do to get the job of your dreams." And so I imagine a lot of folks are signing them without putting a lot of thought into it.

BERMAN: Yes, they probably are. That's probably a good point. And given the fact that they are non-enforceable, and they may have been informed they were non-enforceable when they were asked to sign them, may have led some people to sign them.

Joe Lockhart, one of the people who succeeded you, Ari Fleischer, noted this morning -- I think it was in "The Washington Post" -- that loyalty to the person you work for tends to be a good form of a non- disclosure agreement. Would you agree to that?

LOCKHART: Yes. I think most of the people there are there because they believe both in serving their country and serving the particular president that they either helped get elected or that they strongly support.

And there's already a system in place with classified information that you're not allowed to sign. I mean, NDAs are common in the business world and in Trump's world to protect proprietary information, so you don't take some information to another company to give them an advantage.

I think with Trump, though, these NDAs are a reflection of there's something to hide. They know going in that they're not going to play by the rules, and they wanted to have something in place there that would keep people from talking.

[07:25:12] You know, whether it's enforceable or not, I'm taken by Scott's comments, which is, you know, someone in their mid-20s who's, you know, just starting out on their career shouldn't be put in the position of being told, even if you see something very wrong, you're legally not allowed to talk about it. It's very wrong.

BERMAN: That's a different point that Scott was making. I asked Scott if he was asked to sign it, would he sign it.

JENNINGS: Right.

BERMAN: Scott, do you agree it's inappropriate to ask a White House staffer to sign such agreement?

JENNINGS: Yes, I do actually. I think Joe knows this. When you get a job at the White House at the commissioned officer level, which Omarosa was and other people at the higher levels are, you actually get sworn in, and you take the oath of office just like the president takes; and you take an oath of office to serve the people of the United States, to protect and defend the Constitution.

And so it strikes me that, if you are ever put in a position of needing to answer questions about something you saw, you shouldn't feel the tear between the oath you took to serve the people and the Constitution and some non-disclosure agreement.

So, I would hope that, if you signed one of these things, you would never let it get in the way of disclosing something. I mean, I think in the case of Omarosa, which is the context we're discussing it today, obviously, they had hired some people they were worried about going out and doing exactly what she's doing, which is trying to, you know, enrich themselves on the back of the president.

BERMAN: Well, that leads me to my next question here, which is you both agree that recording someone inside the situation room, which apparently is what Omarosa did, is inappropriate, that she shouldn't have done that. You agree on that, so I'm not going to go over that trodden ground already.

But the follow-up question, Joe, is who is to blame for the fact that this played out the way it did? Obviously, Omarosa is the one who pressed record there, so she bears some of the blame, but is she the only person who deserves blame here?

LOCKHART: Well, I think -- I don't think she only deserves blame. Some of the blame should go with her. She's got a long track record. She worked briefly in the Clinton administration, was fired. She was famously a character on television whose job it was to get fired.

But President Trump hired her. He hired her knowing who she was. He wanted her there. He spoke glowingly about her. So, you know, he bears the blame here.

And I think, from a -- from a P.R. perspective, given the lack of credibility that she had, this story would, I think, have gone away by now if the president didn't feel the need to lower himself to whoever attacks him. And I think it's going to go on day after day now, because the president's decided that this is a much more important issue for him to focus on than any of the other issues that he has on the table.

BERMAN: Is that a fair point, Scott? And who is to blame here?

JENNINGS: Yes. Look, I think that in the beginning of this administration, I mean, they've had high turnover; and that's come from people they hired right out of the gate. Obviously, they made some mistakes right out of the gate. But I think in most cases they replaced those people with better folks to run this administration. I think the personnel has gotten better over time, especially under the leadership of General Kelly. But that doesn't excuse the fact that right out of the gate, they brought in some people that clearly didn't work out. This was one of those hires.

I don't think they put a tremendous amount of thought into how to organize the White House the way that would work best for the president right out of the gate.

So I'm hoping that they're doing a better job now, but yes. I mean, everybody -- you know, personnel is policy, and everybody you hire, you know, becomes policy in some way. And so, I'm glad they've upgraded the personnel over time, but obviously, they're still feeling the effects of some of the early mistakes.

BERMAN: If I can change the subject, Scott, yesterday President Trump went to New York, upstate New York to sign the John McCain Defense Authorization Bill. This is a bill, a defense spending bill, huge defense spending bill named after John McCain, who's chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Yet, the president managed to name a whole bunch of people at this event without ever saying the words "John McCain" or thanking him. What did you make of that?

JENNINGS: Yes, he's had some animosity for Senator McCain for a long time. In fact, I saw a video the other day of him not saying nice things about John McCain all the way back in 1999. And so clearly, this is someone he's never really liked, and then they obviously clashed during the presidential campaign.

McCain famously put the thumbs down on the Obamacare repeal in the middle of the night, which I think the president regarded as a personal slight and an embarrassment.

So I am not surprised that the president is taking this line against John McCain by trying to ignore him on this bill. People don't have to like each other. I think most of the time presidents tend to rise above these situations, but Donald Trump, of course, famously holds grudges against his old political enemies, and that seems like it's going to be the case with John McCain.

BERMAN: Maybe not surprised, but I do think it's OK to be disappointed here. And Joe, Scott points out that most of the time presidents rise above this.

You have a bill named after a senator, a senator who's battling a life-threatening disease right now. Can't you say the guy's name? I mean, doesn't it show a disrespect not just to him but to the country and to the idea of service, to willfully ignore the fact that it's named after him?

LOCKHART: Well, let me use a presidential term here, that the president used the other day, which is I thought it was a low-life move. It disrespects John McCain. It disrespects the service to the country.