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Senators Demand To Hear From CIA Director Haspel On Jamal Khashoggi Murder; What Is Fueling The Disturbing Rise In Hate Crimes? CNN Exclusive: Two Key Answers From Trump To Mueller; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 29, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:30:29] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Many senators are angry that CIA Director Gina Haspel was not at a briefing yesterday to answer their questions about the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm glad we had it -- I admire both secretaries -- but it was inadequate because the CIA was not there.

Any key vote -- anything that you need me for to get out of town, I ain't doing it until we hear from the CIA.

REPORTER: Have you made that clear to the president?

GRAHAM: I just did.


CAMEROTA: Secretary of State and Defense secretary were both there. They insist there is no proof of the Saudi crown prince's involvement despite CNN's reporting that the CIA has assessed that the crown prince ordered the killing.

Joining us now to talk about this and more is Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. He serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Good morning, Senator.


CAMEROTA: Do you agree with Sen. Lindsey Graham that Gina Haspel should have been there in order for you to get the full picture of what happened?

JOHNSON: Well, I've asked for a briefing. I would have liked to seen her there, but she wasn't.

And so, we had Sec. Pompeo and Sec. Mattis, two individuals I highly respect. They said there was no smoking gun.

And what this really comes down to is a judgment call involving real politics. I happen to think the United States and the United States military is a force for good in the world.


JOHNSON: And my concern is if we withdraw our support, if we withdraw our influence, I think the slaughter will be even worse.


JOHNSON: Secretary Mattis said repeatedly, you can't really prove a negative. But I think the fact that we have been there, I think we have influenced events there. And so, it has been less of a slaughter.

They're on the verge of negotiations. If we withdraw support from Saudi Arabia it will embolden the Houthis and make it more difficult. They may not come to the negotiating table --


JOHNSON: -- in good faith to actually end this conflict.

So again, it's a mean, nasty, ugly world. Neither Sec. Mattis nor Pompeo were singing the praise of the Saudis by no means. We have to deal with the world as it is. We have to deal --


JOHNSON: -- with that ugly reality and we need to try and be a force for good in the world.

CAMEROTA: But to the question about Gina Haspel, why wasn't she there?

JOHNSON: I don't know. You'd have to ask the director that.

CAMEROTA: Can you guys press? I mean, can you not --

JOHNSON: But again -- but again --

CAMEROTA: I guess my question just is because she seems to have more information than the others -- she went there, she heard the tape. Can you press to talk to her? I mean, it seems as though the White House doesn't want you talking to her.

JOHNSON: First of all, I think you're -- I'm not sure that's a correct assumption that she has more information.

CAMEROTA: She traveled there.

JOHNSON: Yes, so -- but, those secretaries have also read all the intelligence. The CIA and our intelligence communities make an assessment with some level of probability. Again, I believe Sec. Mattis and Sec. Pompeo, there's no smoking gun

so we don't have a direct link. We can't absolutely prove it. But to a --

CAMEROTA: So do you believe the Saudi crown prince?

JOHNSON: But to a certain extent -- to a certain extent, it's beside the point because you have to make that judgment on the real politics.


JOHNSON: The most maligning influence in the region is Iran. They're trying to establish more of a base -- let's say a Yemeni Hezbollah to even foment more terrorism within the region --


JOHNSON: -- and Saudi Arabia is a counter to that force.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I understand. I hear you. You're a realist -- I get it. I understand that and that makes sense.

I just -- just yes or no, do you believe that the crown prince -- do you believe his story that he didn't order it?

JOHNSON: I have no proof one way or the other. I think it's reasonable to assume that he probably was aware of it but again, I have no proof and there is no smoking gun.

So I kind of set that aside. I don't think I'll ever know the answer to that in any positive way or with 100 percent certainty.

And so, now, you deal with reality. And the reality is we have a horrible situation in Yemen. Nobody likes to see it and I think the best way to end that situation -- to end the slaughter -- is America to be involved, to have influence, to bring the parties to the table and force a negotiated settlement.


Next topic, Russian aggression in Ukraine.

You, in a bipartisan move -- and I think that in this day and age it's important to point out when something is done in a bipartisan manner. You and Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut -- you led this resolution condemning the Russian action in Ukraine.

Given that, do you think that President Trump should meet with Vladimir Putin and confront him when he sees him this week?

JOHNSON: And we're actually asking the president, basically, to do that in the resolution because we want, from the president all the way through the government, to push back strongly.

[07:35:00] What our resolution does -- it, first of all, condemns that action. It calls for the immediate release of the prisoners and the vessels.

It affirms Sec. Pompeo's declaration that we will never accept the attempted annexation of Crimea, and it reaffirms our strong support for the people, the government, and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And I think that all of us in government and, quite honestly, all of our allies need to press that point.

Vladimir Putin is testing us one more time. He's seeing if we are going to respond, and we need to respond with strength.

I would love to see a multinational freedom of navigation operations into the Kerch Strait -- into the Sea of Azov. We need to have a presence there. We need to probably do more military exercises.

But we can't stand by and let Vladimir Putin continue these aggressive moves because if we don't react with strength and resolve he'll keep moving on --


JOHNSON: -- into more and more areas.

CAMEROTA: And if and when the president does confront Vladimir Putin at the G20, do you want there to be other people in the room, unlike there were in Helsinki?

JOHNSON: Well, I think there were other people in the room at some point in time. And listen, I don't have a problem -- again, I don't --

CAMEROTA: We just don't know what he said to -- the truth is we just don't know what he said to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

JOHNSON: There were additional meetings. And again, I think it's always good for people to talk in a variety of forums. I don't have a problem with leaders speaking to leaders, but I think also, the experts should also be in the room as well because they add an awful lot to the conversation.

CAMEROTA: And you want -- you want the president -- just tell me what you want him to say to Vladimir Putin.

JOHNSON: Again, we have to condemn the action. We have to make sure that he stops the harassment -- and not only Ukrainian vessels, but any international vessels.

That is international waters right there. They should have full freedom of navigation throughout the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov and that's what we have to insist on.

And we really need to keep pressing Russia to engage in peace talks in the eastern Ukraine. We need to -- we need Russia to behave better.

CAMEROTA: I want to show you something. I don't know if you have a monitor. Do you have a monitor where you can see video?

JOHNSON: I don't, nope.

CAMEROTA: Are you aware that the president retweeted this picture with all of his sort of political foes behind bars. And it says, "Now that Russian collusion is a proven lie," -- when, of course, Robert Mueller has not come out with his conclusions -- "when do the trials for treason begin?"

And you see people like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama behind bars. And you see the assistant attorney general Rod Rosenstein there behind bars. Why is he behind bars?

JOHNSON: Hey, listen, I'm -- the president speaks for himself.

From my standpoint, I want to see the Mueller investigation concluded so we can finally find out is there evidence or is there not?

For my own part, I want to see exactly what was happening within the FBI, the Intelligence Community -- Department of Justice --


JOHNSON: -- at the end of the Obama administration and beginning of the Trump administration, as well. We don't have the information on that.

The American people have a right to know --


JOHNSON: -- and have their confidence restored in these institutions --


JOHNSON: -- that have to be beyond reproach.

CAMEROTA: Yes, of course -- of course.

JOHNSON: So I'm trying to get all this information out and the sooner the better.


JOHNSON: This investigation has lingered on way too long. And, quite honestly, there's been a lot of charges completely unrelated to the campaign and pretty much unrelated to any kind of interference.

CAMEROTA: Well, lying to investigators is related but that's neither here nor there. The point is --

JOHNSON: Well, it's a process crime.

CAMEROTA: But are you comfortable with the President of the United States tweeting an image like that?

JOHNSON: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't do it. CAMEROTA: I mean, this is the assistant attorney general and he's showing him --

JOHNSON: No, I wouldn't do it. I'd recommend he not do those things.

CAMEROTA: Last question. You have sent a letter to the White House about -- asking for more information about Ivanka's e-mails.

Here is what Ivanka has said about this. Let me tell -- let me ask you if this is enough for you. So listen to Ivanka here.


IVANKA TRUMP, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: There really is no equivalency. All of my e-mails that relate to any form of government work, which was mainly scheduling and logistics and managing the fact that I have a home life and work life, are all part of the public record. They're all stored on the White House system so everything has been preserved.


CAMEROTA: OK. Number one, have you heard back from the White House since sending your letter, and is that sufficient for you?

JOHNSON: We've given them until December seventh.

But, you know, my committee's jurisdiction is federal records -- the Presidential Record Act -- and so just as we followed up under Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal -- which, by the way, there is no comparison.

Hillary Clinton set up a private server. There were tens of thousands of e-mails. They were deleted.

What I believe is happening here -- and again, I need more information, but it sounds like this is during the transition before she had an official account. You know, people have private accounts and they always will. Sometimes either inadvertently or the only way she could communicate would be a personal -- and it also -- a personal device.

As well, as it sounds like there is hundreds of e-mails, not tens of thousands, and they've all been preserved. And that's the whole purpose, is to preserve these for potential Freedom of Information Act requests.

So again, I don't -- there's no comparison whatsoever. Again, it's my responsibility to look into this.

[07:40:01] CAMEROTA: Yes.

JOHNSON: So far -- and by the way, we wrote a letter and it was responded to.

CAMEROTA: Yes. JOHNSON: We had a briefing. I've been very satisfied with the response from the White House out of this. I expect that they'll respond fully.

And I don't think -- I don't think there is a big problem here. But again, that's why we're doing the oversight.

CAMEROTA: OK. I understand that you -- your committee, Homeland Security -- delayed a briefing, I guess -- or you delayed an action -- a vote, I should say, on the ICE director because of some concerns that you had over personal issues.

Can you tell us more about that?

JOHNSON: Well, I think the day before our hearing or maybe the morning of the hearing we received a letter from a number of local union officials within the ICE collective bargaining unit, and so we responded to that.

There had been some other issues -- other charges that we just have to complete our due diligence in. So we're just going through our due diligence here.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but can you tell us of what nature they are?

JOHNSON: Well, it's charges of potential retaliation. It's really more a problem before Mr. Vitiello took over as acting director.

It's just problems between union and management within ICE and we need to track these things down. I know there are some tweets by Mr. Vitiello which he talked about in his hearing, as well.

So there's a number of issues that we're doing due diligence on.

CAMEROTA: And just so that I understand, these are offensive tweets or objectionable somehow?

JOHNSON: Well, they're tweets that government officials should not be doing, even in their personal life.

CAMEROTA: Such as?

JOHNSON: But -- they're all in the record. It was referring to Donald Trump, it was referring to the Democratic Party.

But he was -- he was talked to by a supervisor. There was management action taken. He certainly apologized for them, as well.

So look, people are human beings. They're not perfect.

And in the end, we have to take a look at the length of service of Mr. Vitiello. It sounds like he's had an exemplary life of service in the Customs and Border Protection and now he's going to be -- now he's acting director of ICE and we're evaluating him for confirmation for the director -- confirmed director of ICE.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm being told that he compared the president to Dennis the Menace.

JOHNSON: Yes, that -- well, in a cartoon, apparently -- yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And so, is that -- I'm just curious. Is a tweet like that a deal breaker?

JOHNSON: Again, we're just tracking things down. We're comparing -- listen, when you -- when you're working for one of these agencies you have to apply a certain standard to those individuals. There can be disciplinary action taken against them.

The question is do you want somebody in charge of that organization that would be disciplined at an equivalent level with the agents involved, as well?

So -- but again, this was handled while he was in Customs and Border Protection. There was -- you know, the process went through. And again, we're doing our due diligence.

CAMEROTA: I understand. I just am wondering what the standard is on Twitter.

JOHNSON: Well, it's -- we're kind of developing that standard as we go along. It's a whole brave new world in social media.

My advice -- I don't tweet, myself. I actually have a filter -- it's a good thing. I have all kinds of crazy things go through my brain.

So my suggestion to young people -- be careful what you put on social media. My advice to government employees, as well, be careful what you're posting.

Don't ever tweet, don't ever e-mail, don't ever talk about things that you wouldn't want on the front page of "The New York Times", "The Washington Post" or discussed on CNN in the morning.

CAMEROTA: It seems like that advice could go all the way to the top.

JOHNSON: Well, I try to adhere to it myself but I'm not perfect either.

CAMEROTA: Senator Ron Johnson, thank you. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY. Great to talk to you.

JOHNSON: Have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: If only I have a filter was an extraordinary political statement.

No, I feel for him. I mean, you know, it's hard to have that filter. Good for him if he does.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I just am curious about what the standard is for government officials and tweeting. BERMAN: No, that was really an interesting discussion there, to be sure.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic.

BERMAN: A shocking rise in acts of hate in this country. So what is motivating this racism? CNN talks to a former neo-Nazi in our series "STATE OF HATE." That's next.


[07:47:40] BERMAN: CNN is focused on the rising state of hate in this country and all around the world. Cameras and social media, they are exposing some very ugly and, at times, violent clashes, even turning deadly at times.

CNN's Sara Sidner looks at why hate crimes are happening more.

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John and Alisyn, hatred is being exposed with cell phones and on social media. But, of course, that's not what created hate, it's just what captures it.

Now, we want to give you a warning that there are some racial slurs that you're going to hear in this story, but we are only doing that to give people a real look at the rising state of hate in this country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to kill all of you.

SIDNER (voice-over): Across America, racism and anger once hidden in the shadows now pouring out into the light.

In Santa Monica, a racist tirade over a parking space. A message for Muslims in a car in North Dakota.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to kill every one of you f***ing Muslims.

SIDNER: A black Army veteran targeting and killing white police officers in Dallas. A landscaper abused in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you hate us?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you're Mexicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we're Mexicans?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You Sharia law don't mean s**t to me.

SIDNER: Words of hate which seem to be banished, now brandished more and more often. The FBI says in 2017, hate crimes shot up 17 percent. The motivation for nearly 60 percent of those, the government says was race, ethnicity or ancestry. KEVIN DUNN, AUNT KILLED BY GUNMAN: She didn't see it coming.

SIDNER: Kevin Dunn's favorite aunt, Vickie Jones, had beaten cancer but she could not survive hate.

Sixty-seven-year-old Jones and 69-year-old Maurice Stallard shot dead while grocery shopping, targeted because of their skin color, police say. They were black; the alleged shooter, white.

A white witness armed with a gun told his son what the shooter said while fleeing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said please don't shoot or I won't shoot you. He said that whites don't kill whites.

SIDNER (on camera): What do you think about what was said?

DUNN: It hurts, it's sad, it's terrible. People have the right to just exist.

SIDNER (voice-over): The suspect, police say, could have caused far more carnage.

Pastor Kevin Nelson says a parishioner saw him earlier at their church door.

PASTOR KEVIN NELSON, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF JEFFERSONTOWN, JEFFERSONTOWN, KENTUCKY: He bangs on it and he pulls on it, and then he backs up and put his hand on the gun so whoever would have opened it would have possibly have gotten shot and killed.

[07:50:01] SIDNER: His church began locking its doors after white supremacist Dylann Roof entered this predominantly black church, massacring nine people as they prayed.

Ken Parker knows something about the hate that motivated Dylann Roof. A Navy veteran, Parker says he was out of work and without direction.

He joined the Ku Klux Klan and later, a neo-Nazi group. Their biggest selling point, making him feel he was important -- part of a bigger cause.

KEN PARKER, FORMER NEO-NAZI: They were looking at it as like we're going to have a race war one day and the more people on our side the better.

SIDNER: At the time, Barack Obama was president. Some white supremacists touted the first black president as the number one threat to white people.

PARKER: And we would even joke amongst ourselves like -- hey, we're going to send President Obama an honorary membership to the Klan because he's our big -- our biggest recruiting tool.

SIDNER: Then came the election of President Donald J. Trump. White nationalists cheer his anti-immigration rhetoric. Racists who feared what they call the browning of America began believing President Trump was the answer to their prayers.

PARKER: They want to have an all-white ethnostate where white people just live by themselves.

SIDNER: Seven months after Trump's inauguration, Parker, virtually broke, paid $30.00 to help fill a bus of racists headed to Charlottesville, Virginia for a protest about a Confederate monument. They dubbed it the "Hate Bus" -- reminiscent of a bus from the 1960s created by another neo-Nazi.

PARKER: On paper, we were just going up there to like stand up for the white race. But honestly, I think everybody was just going to, you know, fight.

SIDNER (on camera): Violence does happen and a woman is killed. What did you think at that point?

PARKER: Well, when I found out that she died I was happy at the time.

SIDNER (voice-over): He and his cohorts giddy when an alleged neo- Nazi sympathizer killed counter-protester Heather Heyer. In their minds, the race war they wanted was beginning to materialize.

But when the president condemned the attacks he added --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

SIDNER (on camera): How did that play in the group -- the good people on both sides?

PARKER: Honestly, some of them were real happy about it. And then, Trump backpedaled on it a little bit, and then others in the movement, they got angry at Trump. Trump wasn't anti-Jewish enough, he wasn't doing enough for white nationalism.

SIDNER (voice-over): Michael German spent 16 years trying to counter domestic terrorism as an FBI special agent.

SIDNER (on camera): There's always the counter-argument from this administration that the leftists are violent, that Antifa is violent, and there's some evidence of that.

MICHAEL GERMAN, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: How many people has anyone associated within Antifa movement killed? None.

How many has this side of white supremacists killed? Many.

SIDNER (voice-over): According to the Government Accountability Office, since 9/11, while radical Islamists were responsible for 27 percent of extremist-motivated deaths, the far-right wing accounted for 73 percent of the deadly incidents -- far more than any other group.

In Parker's case, it wasn't law enforcement, but love that fought his hate. SIDNER (on camera): So you decided that animosity wasn't the way and shunning wasn't the way, but the opposite.

PASTOR WILL MCKINNON, ALL SAINTS HOLINESS CHURCH-HOGSIC, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Yes, absolutely. I fight for peace and what better way to start in your own community?

SIDNER (voice-over): His neighbor, Pastor Will McKinnon, not only opened his arms, he opened his small, predominantly black church to Parker. His outreach washed away the hate.


SIDNER: Parker isn't just talking the talk, he is literally physically removing hate from his body. He is spending hours trying to laser off the swastika on his chest and those symbols on his legs. It is painful, he says, but he knows it's not nearly as painful as the fear and pain he may have caused others -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, what a remarkable story. I mean, what a candid window into the thought process of some of those people.

BERMAN: Hearing it from people in the inside is jarring.

CAMEROTA: President Trump cannot stop tweeting about the Mueller investigation, as we continue to learn more about the special counsel's focus. The latest details, next.


[07:58:25] CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, November 29th, 8:00 in the east.

President Trump appears to be ruminating on the Mueller investigation. He's tweeting about it this morning.

And in a new interview with the "New York Post," the president floated the possibility of a pardon for his former campaign chair Paul Manafort, saying quote, "It was never discussed, but I wouldn't take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?"

Manafort was convicted of eight felonies and pleaded guilty to two others.

BERMAN: Ruminating is one way to put it. Obsessing over, fuming over, freaking out over, other ways.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you can go with that.

BERMAN: One could with it.

CAMEROTA: You can go with that.

BERMAN: CNN also has exclusive new details about how President Trump answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller. The president told Mueller, quote, to the best of his recollection -- to the best of his recollection, he did not know about the Trump Tower meeting before it happened. The one where Trump campaign officials were promised Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And to the best of his recollection, Roger Stone never told him about WikiLeaks and the hacked Democratic e-mails.

As for Roger Stone, "The Washington Post" is adding onto CNN's reporting, saying the special counsel has been looking at phone logs of late-night conversations between then-candidate Trump and Roger Stone.

Joining us now, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Also, Josh Green and Jonathan Martin. Josh is a national correspondent at "Bloomberg Businessweek." Jonathan, a national political correspondent at "The New York Times".

Let's start with the pardon dangle, as it were, Josh. You call this an egregious violation of legal and political norms.

JOSHUA GREEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Well, yes. I mean, it looks to all outward appearances like witness tampering. I mean, it looks like by floating the possibility of a pardon that he is --