Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Reporting Indicates President Trump Revoked Security Clearance of John Brennan Partially in Response to Controversy Concerning Omarosa Manigault Newman; President Trump Cancels his Plan for a Military Parade in D.C.; Manafort Jury Asks Judge about Definition of Reasonable Doubt; Catholoc Church Responds. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 8:00   ET

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


[08:00:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is still actively seeking to strip clearances from officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what the president is going to do, take mine, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Brennan has gone way over the line. Pulling his clearance makes sense to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump offered $180,000 for a no-show job. She's being recruited to a know show campaign. They want to make sure she's not going to speak badly of the candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is absolutely hush money. It's a pattern for him.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She touches you somewhere. It's a life in the songs, in the stories that she tells through this music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The earth lost a lot of music today. I miss her so much already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are remembering Aretha Franklin today. It's been almost 24 hours since we learned of her passing, and I think so many people around the world have been doing nothing other than listening to her music nonstop since then.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And we are fortunate to have so much of it to listen to. We're going to bring as much as we can without getting in trouble here throughout the morning. And we will also be speaking with a little bit later this hour Smokey Robinson who knew her since they were eight years old, and Jennifer Holliday. So you want to stay with us as they remember Aretha Franklin as well.

BERMAN: Smokey Robinson said he lost his oldest friend. Good morning, everyone, welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, August

17th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off, Erica Hill is here.

Access denied. Will President Trump revoke the security clearances of more intelligence chiefs today? CNN has learned that the president plans to strip still more former national security leaders of their clearances. The president told us directly why he revoked former CIA director John Brennan's clearance. The president says it's because of Brennan's role in launching the investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 election.

Now, some of the folks who could be targeted are among 12 former intelligence officials who signed a letter of support for Brennan and called the president's move, quote, an attempt to stifle free speech. And in another really stunning rebuke of the president, the man who oversaw the Usama bin Laden raid, retired Navy admiral William McRaven says if you're going to take Brennan's clearance, take mine, too. McRaven says it would be an honor to lose his clearance for that reason.

HILL: Also this morning, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman releasing a new recording, this time featuring President Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump. Omarosa says it proves how the White House was trying to buy her silence after she was fired. The "New York Times" reporting Omarosa could have as many as 200 tapes.

BERMAN: Joining us now, Josh Dawsey, White House reporter for the "Washington Post," a CNN political analyst, along with David Nakamura. He has new reporting on the president's handling of the security clearance issues. And one bit of news overnight, Josh more revoking could be coming shortly.

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's correct, John. Good morning. It seems the president is not content to stop with revocation of John Brennan's security clearance. There are a number of official who are on a list of sorts the White House is reviewing to possibly take as well. The president has told advisers he wants to take the clearances. A lot of these official have either participated in the Russia probe which has frustrated him to no end, or he believes they've tried to monetize it by going on television and criticizing him.

Mind you, his critics say the move in some ways smacks of authoritarianism. No president in recent years has ever just unilaterally taken security clearances like this, but the president seems very intent that he wants to continue doing that.

BERMAN: And you also have much more on the tick-tock of how all that this happened. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, saying let's do it now, do it Wednesday because the president is facing charges of racism over the back-and-forth with Omarosa.

DAWSEY: They were inundated with a deluge of allegations and revelations by Omarosa Manigault Newman who has begun releasing tapes, trickling them out, doing television interviews, making incendiary, and, to be clear, largely unverified claims about the president. But it's been a tough week for the president. He's repeatedly tweeted about Omarosa even as White House aides have asked him to move on. And John Brennan, in fact, whose security clearance he revoked, was pretty critical of the president for calling Omarosa Manigault Newman, quote/unquote, dog, and his clearance was taken about 12, 24 hours after he was sharply critical of the president for that. So a lot of people are curious to whether those two issues are linked or not.

BERMAN: There was all this speculation, was the president trying to change focus, redirect us, put up a smokescreen, have us focus on the revoking of national security clearance, other than these charges of racism. Your reporting is basically yes, yes.

DAWSEY: A lot of these decisions were made, at least on the Brennan front, was made long before it was announced on Wednesday.

[08:05:03] The president was saying become in July that he was looking to revoke all of these clearances. And suddenly amid this onslaught of negative attention about the president's actions or at least what Omarosa Manigault Newman said were his actions in office, these clearances rolled out. And Sarah Sanders among others seemed quite happy to have the attention off the reality TV villain turned White House aide toward an unprecedented move of revoking the former CIA director's clearance. It has been quite a week in news.

BERMAN: Your reporting, quite a week in news. Slip it in, the understatement of the century there.

Josh, you're reporting also the president likes how this is playing out? He likes how it is making him look.

DAWSEY: To be clear, John Brennan is not a popular figure in the West Wing, and even some folks who are not big supporters of the president think his criticism has been too pointed and too incendiary on television and too political. In the president's mind there is few people who bring visceral sting to him than seeing John Brennan on TV. It seems that the first 16, 17 months of his presidency, the president never mentioned security clearances. And earlier this summer it came on his radar, kind of like pardons, I have unilateral authority to do this in a way that's analogous to pardons. And why do people who have been such Trump critics have clearances?

And it's been -- he can make an imperial, he can make a decisive step to take the clearances away, doesn't need Congress, doesn't need any sort of approval from others which has stymied parts of many of the things he's wanted to do, and he enjoys that a lot, yes.

Josh Dawsey from the "Washington Post," thanks so much for sharing your reporting from overnight for us. Really appreciate it, Josh.

DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.

HILL: And here with us in studio this morning, Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for the "New York Times." She is of course also a CNN political analyst. And Maggie, I do want to get to your reporting, but we're also just learning, in fact I just learned in my ear, that now a 13th official, former defense secretary Bob Gates, has now signed on to this letter. He, of course, first came on under President Bush, a holdover under President Obama just signing on to this letter. This is not showing any signs of slowing down.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so, and Bob Gates, it's worth noting, is somebody who actually wrote a book that expressed some criticism of one of the presidents he served, President Obama. It was not a glowing portrait. I don't think his security clearance was revoked.

There is a legitimate conversation to have about security clearances and whether people should have them in perpetuity after serving at that level, that is fine. This is not how you have the debate. And I think the part that in the president's mind in terms of why he did this, there's a variety of factors that checked a bunch of boxes, and one of which as Josh correctly said, was changing the subject, but one of which was also that he looked weak against Omarosa. He couldn't control that situation, and control and dominance and power are the three main ingredients for him in almost any situation.

So he turned around and did something where he could show control and power. Because he tends to treat everything like it's the same and it's all part of some same game, there's nothing that is of greater standing than anything else, security clearances are treated like it is any other political chip in this moment. There are people in the White House who are long-time Republicans prior to Donald Trump's tenure who have taken issue with John Brennan's tone, have taken issue with some of the points of attacks. They do feel it was overly partisan. Again, this is not how you do it, because what this president does is he draws a line here and he makes you run toward it. When someone stops him, he moves it further.

BERMAN: He thinks all things are the same, unbelievable linkage between a back and forth with Omarosa, a former reality star, and taking away the security clearance of a former CIA chief. That's chilling. I do want to know because I learned it for the first time reported by Erica Hill that bob gates signed on to this letter. That is no small thing. And the names that seem to be joining on get curiouser and curiouser. Bob Gates served Republicans and Democrats, not a guy seen as a partisan hack. David Petraeus, a guy that we know, Donald Trump has been looking for ways, considering ways to get him involved in the administration.

HABERMAN: For a long time.

BERMAN: The president wants Petraeus on his team. He signed on to that letter. And then McRaven who is a guy who is seen as something separate from politics completely and revered in military and intelligence circles writes that scathing letter. These are three guys -- those guys are unique.

HABERMAN: Absolutely. And McRaven went a step further and said it would be a badge of honor if you take mine as well, not just saying I don't like you did, but fine, take it, it is not so coveted that we are going to cower in fear of you basically that really is the message the president is trying to send, is I could drop this on you at any moment and you should be worried. HILL: And so it's interesting, Giuliani, obviously Rudy Giuliani,

trying to further that line to stop conversation about this being about free speech, but certainly an argument to me made for that.

[08:10:04] But Giuliani putting out the point that you don't need a clearance if you're not actually advising the president. What is interesting is having all of these former officials sign on to it, our own Barbara Starr pointing out McRaven is so much more than just the Usama bin Laden guy. Yes, that's important, but as Barbara said in the note, this speaks to on the day that something awful happened you need every person in the room. And if you're just taking security clearance away willy-nilly because of a political issue, on the day you need those people, where are you?

HABERMAN: That's right. Look, we have seen Donald Trump throughout the course of his campaign and now his presidency, nuance goes away. There is no nuance. There is just him and not him. And essentially he is putting everyone, people who have served their country for decades in various capacities under various presidents of different parties, he is putting everybody in one big bucket, you're against me, therefore I'm going to treat you all the same. You do not deserve a clearance because you are against me. It's not how things have ever been done, and it is a dangerous new precedent.

I don't know that it's a precedent that would be followed with another president, but it again reminds us that much of our system is norms, not laws, and it is up to one man to decide what to do.

BERMAN: And he's doing it to an extent, to an extent -- he has his gripe with John Brennan, but he's doing to an extent because of Omarosa. And your reporting, Maggie, which I think is so interesting, and I'm going to paraphrase here, I know which --

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you're reporting there is as much concern about this back-and-forth of Omarosa inside the White House as just about anything else that has gone on, save maybe the Russia investigation.

HABERMAN: It has put them all completely not in control. They don't know what she has. They don't know how many tapes she was walking around with. Some believe she was using some kind of recording device in a pen because one version of the story that I heard about her going in the Situation Room with John Kelly when she recorded firing her was that she did check her phone, which you're supposed to do in the Sit Room. You're just not supposed to bring recording devices in of any kind. But they don't know what's there. My understand is there are as many as 200, possibly more. There are dozens and dozens and she is going to leak them out slowly.

Annie Karni from "Politico" put it very well that this is a little like the mental siege of WikiLeaks on the Clinton campaign, which was just the daily -- they had no idea what they were going face. This is something akin to that. And again, going back to the point earlier, Donald Trump hates feeling out of control. When he feels out of control his aides hear about it, and it has created anxiety.

HILL: As they said to you, there could be as many as 200 tapes. They don't know exactly what's on them. Has anybody, though, given you a sense of there are certain topics that they recognize Omarosa was around for that they're concerned about?

HABERMAN: No. It's an interesting question, because the question has come up a couple times with people I've spoken to, could there be anything about Russia on there? I think if that was the case it would be in her book. And there had been a question of why would you do the tape this is way and not put them in your book? And she was clearly anticipating, having watched the Donald Trump playbook for many years, she was going to be called a liar, she was going to told she was not telling the truth. So she saved them for that purpose.

My understanding it is mostly mundane conversations, but in the case of, for instance, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump who she supposedly has on at least one and I've heard possibly more tapes, they were her interlocutors helping bring her into the White House, they were solicitous of her. These are not the kinds of things we hear from their mouths very frequently. I just think it's going to create a sense of discomfort.

BERMAN: Maggie, stick around, because we do have more breaking news. The president just weighed in on the fact that the Pentagon postponed the military parade the president says he wants. Now the president says he is the one cancelling it. We'll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:17:26]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We do have Breaking News. President Trump says he is cancelling the military parade that he asked for which was initially scheduled for this Veterans Day. The Pentagon announced yesterday it was postponing it until next year but the president just wrote this. "The local politicians who run Washington, D.C., poorly," he says, "know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I have canceled it."

"Never let someone hold you up! I will instead attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, and go to the Paris parade celebrating the end of the war," means World War I, "on November 11th." Maybe

Back with us, Maggie Haberman -- he goes on to say maybe he's going to buy more jets - more jet fighters. Sorry, the maybe wasn't just hanging there. Maybe we will do something -

(CROSSTALK)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: No, he's going, he's going.

BERMAN: Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes way down. Now we can buy some more fighter jets. Emmanuel Macron very relieved. The president is really going there not just to -

Back with us now, Maggie Haberman, we're also joined by Shan Wu, the former lawyer for Paul Manafort's associate, Rick Gates, a senior legal analyst. We're going to talk about Paul Manafort's situation in just a second.

First, Maggie, the parade, President Trump decided he wanted a parade after going to France and loving the jets flying overhead when he's standing side by side with Emmanuel Macron, the Pentagon never really warm to this idea.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. This is expensive. It is costly. The streets are not designed for it. It's not generally speaking -- look, they have happened before, there have been shows of military strength in the U.S., but usually not when the U.S. is still engaged in wars, number one, and number two, not with this kind of pomp and sort of clear devotion to one man, which was what it was about. I was with the president in France last year for that Bastille Day parade. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.

It was pretty obvious -- while Lego's were being offered and all sorts of things. It was pretty obvious that he was going to look again to do this. He had tried during the inaugural, remember, to do some kind of parade, it was shut down by military officials so it's not surprising. And as we know, he never blames himself. It's always got to be somebody else's fault so this is the fault of city planners in D.C. or local officials who are not as creative as he is in his mind.

I think this mean this is idea is off the table now. I don't think you'll hear it come back again. It's very hard to justify especially in an election year, vote for Republicans, tax cuts we are being fiscally responsible, we're being here for your money and here's $100 million for a military parade. It's just not a good message in already bad political climate.

HILL: It's also remarkable, the American Legion just yesterday saying, look, this money once the price tag came out, this money could be better spent on, here's a great example, veterans, right?

[08:20:06] And the president instead saying we're going to take this money -- oh, buy more jets.

HABERMAN: I don't think that's going to happen either because if you actually look at the budget breakdown it doesn't even make any sense.

HILL: Right.

HABERMAN: He's talking about in terms of the cost but I do think that this is just getting out of another self-created headache for Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Shan Wu, I want to bring you into the conversation right now and bring in the Paul Manafort trial because as we said something fascinating happened at the close of business yesterday which is the jury asked four questions, two of them seemed to get to exactly what the defense had been arguing in terms of some of the evidence that had been submitted and then one of them was a question that you say is the type of question that prosecutors hate to hear, especially this early in deliberation which was "Can you give us a definition of reasonable doubt?"

SHAN WU, FORMER LAWYER FOR RICK GATES: That's absolutely right, John. As a prosecutor you don't want to hear that word. I would try not to even say it during the trial. And usually that tends to be asked a little bit later in the deliberations. They're getting close to voting or there's a holdout and they're asking the judge to help clear that up. None of the definitions used, was reasonable doubt, are particularly clear. So it's seldom that much help. Usually jurors are trying to use that definition to condense or twist somebody else's arm to go along with something. This is coming out very, very early in the deliberations. This is only their first day. So that's got to be a clause of concern for the prosecutors.

HILL: We know as well embraced by the defense attorneys, you know, saying last night this is great. This makes us feel really good about it and I would imagine that maybe that gives a little feeling to some folks in the White House because we know that this is a focus even if it's not said out loud, Maggie.

HABERMAN: I think that's right. Look, I mean, I think that the president has been watching this trial and he's been very concerned and he's been very concerned about - you know, that it will be connected back to him in some way. Frankly, it really hasn't been throughout most of the trial. It's been about you know $15,000 ostrich skin jackets on Manafort's life-style and very little about other than the timeline about the Donald Trump campaign. But certainly Rudy Giuliani has put out there in his publicity blitz that you know if this is a loss, this is going to impact what Mueller does in one way or another.

I don't actually subscribe to that theory. I think that that is noise. I don't think that's true. I think whatever Mueller is going to do in relation to Trump and obstruction and collusion and his son that completely separate.

But I do think that this has been an incredibly high profile. It was one of the - I think it was there very first or among their very first indictments and it was comprehensive and there have been several superseding indictments since then and a loss would be problematic in the court of public opinion about this investigation. I know we all say you know Mueller is above that and he's not paying attention. Everybody pays attention to that kind of thing.

BERMAN: Look, I don't know that we fully explored the political implications of what it would mean if there's an acquittal in this first case. I can imagine Rudy Giuliani coming out with all kinds of statements immediately.

HABERMAN: And why wouldn't he?

BERMAN: And why wouldn't he? And President Trump. I could imagine there will be some suggesting President Trump maybe should pardon Paul Manafort before the next trial. HABERMAN: Or that President Trump should shut down the Mueller probe because look at what happened here.

HILL: Right.

HABERMAN: I mean, I think you can take this in a bunch of different directions. It doesn't necessarily mean that it will go there. But it is something people should be prepared for. I was taken aback by that question coming yesterday and I have covered courts before. But I also know the jurors sometimes also like to wait until Friday before they actually make a decision on anything. And so, I think the fact that it was a Thursday shouldn't be completely lost.

HILL: All of this of course as yesterday we learned in a court filing that for this next trial for Paul Manafort there are three times the amount of evidence, a thousand pieces of evidence. They are different trials but Shan as you were looking at what's coming up next for Paul Manafort there, you're saying that case may not be as strong? Why?

WU: It's not as strong because it focuses a little bit more on the FARA, the Foreign Agent Registration Act requirements, which is much more of a registration type case. I mean, there is financial fraud involved but it's not going to be quite as a lavish wise style focused as this one was. And from a strategic point of view it's interesting that Manafort team could have chosen to let both cases be consolidated in D.C. and they took a bit of gamble having to defend on two fronts. But really has ratcheted up the pressure on both sides for the outcome of this particular first trial.

BERMAN: Shan Wu, Maggie Haberman, great to have you with us this morning talking about all the news, the developments and the breaking news. No parade.

HILL: No parade.

BERMAN: No parade.

HILL: I mean who could have thunk that one.

BERMAN: Who would imagine.

HILL: I would never have imagined. Thank you both.

Just ahead, a decade-long cover-up of more than a thousand children sexually abused by hundreds of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, survivors demanding accountability in the wake of this grand jury report, now a leader in the U.S. Catholic church is responding next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:29:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG BURKE, DIRECTOR OF THE VATICAN'S PRESS OFFICE: There are two words that can express our feelings about these crimes -- these horrible crimes and those are shame and sorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: The Vatican breaking its silence, calling the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children in Pennsylvania by hundreds of priests over decades. The Holy See saying the abuse is criminal and morally reprehensible.

Joining me now, the Bishop of Lafayette, Indiana, Bishop Timothy Doherty. Bishop Doherty is also the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. Bishop, we appreciate you joining us this morning as we look at this. The Vatican did speak out. It took two days and was roundly criticized for taking so long. We have not heard anything from the pope yet on this. And this is a pope who has garnered so much support because he is so quick to speak out and to do it directly on his own via Twitter on things that he finds are clear moral issues -- immigration, refugees. Why such silence from this pope?

BISHOP TIMOTHY L. DOHERTY, BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF LAFAYETTE-IN- INDIANA: Erica, good morning. Myself -- I am looking at this as a document and indictments that took two years to assemble and to kind of get your mind around it in a day in a half and then make a statement is asking a lot. So I would ask some patience in that -