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Trump's Pivotal Week: Wiretapping, SCOTUS, Health Care; North Korea Nuclear Threat; Rock 'n Roll Legend Chuck Berry Dead at 90; Sources: House GOP Leaders Set Health Care Vote for Thursday; Michigan Business Owners Welcome GOP Health Care Plan; Debunking 8 Years of Trump's Twitter Claims; Hackers Skewers Trump Via McDonald's. Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired March 18, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:29:55] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good to have you with me.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
President Trump has a few more hours to soak up the sun in Florida before he heads back to Washington for a week that will be testing his presidency in a brand new way.
On Monday, top House Democrats expect FBI director James Comey to debunk President Trump's repeated claim that President Obama wiretapped his phones during the campaign. Also on Monday, the President's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, will face tough questions at his Senate confirmation hearing.
And then there's health care. The GOP's plan to replace Obamacare goes to a vote on the House floor Thursday. It's still not clear if it has enough votes to pass.
Let's get straight to CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones. She is live in West Palm Beach near Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort.
Athena -- on Monday Comey could either vindicate President Trump or prove he's been putting out false information about his predecessor. How is the White House preparing?
ATHENA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.
Well, they seem to be preparing by standing their ground, not backing down from the President's allegations made two weeks ago. We heard the President himself do so just yesterday at that press conference with Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel. He also did so in an interview last week.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said that the President is confident that evidence will come out that will vindicate him. But Sean Spicer also piled on yet another explosive allegation claiming that the British intelligence service helped President Obama spy on then-candidate Trump in Trump Tower. That claim has been denied vehemently by the British; also by a U.S. -- a top U.S. national security official.
And so -- but the White House doesn't seem to be showing any outward concern about what the FBI director is set to say on Monday. And as you noted -- as you noted, he is expected to debunk the President's claim.
And the reason -- one of the reasons that we know that besides the slew of people who have denied that this happened is that two weeks ago, the very same weekend the President first made these allegations, FBI director Comey reached out to his colleagues at the Justice Department and asked them to publicly refute the President's claims because they were erroneous and because they suggested illegal activity. The Department of Justice did not do so.
And so Monday will be Comey's chance to get this question, to respond to this question, to set the record straight in a public way. This is very important in terms of the President's credibility.
And Ana, you'll remember, this is not the first false claim the President has made. The mother of them all, of course, was questioning the former president's citizenship. This is the latest chapter. And we'll see how the White House responds on Monday to Comey -- Ana.
CABRERA: Yes, we will. We'll be watching. Thank you so much, Athena Jones.
Let's get straight to my panel to talk about how this critical week ahead is going to play out. Joining me from Washington, Tom LoBianco, reporter for CNNPolitics.com; Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner"; and with me here in New York Timothy Naftali, CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library.
Sarah -- last hour, I talked to Congressman Mike Quigley, he's a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee of holding Monday's hearing. Let's listen to a portion of what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: And the bottom line, when you look at all this, the President's sign on his desk probably should now say, "the buck stops anywhere from here". Instead of addressing the fact that he tweeted something he shouldn't have tweeted, he won't take responsibility.
When there's a problem with a raid in Yemen, it's the generals' fault. The day after he speaks to Congress, he blames his senior staff or it's the Democrats' fault or President Obama or the Republicans -- anyone but himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So does the buck stop at the White House? Or does it stop anywhere but, Sarah?
SARAH WESTWOOD, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, the White House has been in a really tough position, trying to substantiate this tweet. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that backs it up.
This week the White House seemed to task House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes with putting this claim to rest. They had Nunes come out. He said that there was no evidence to back this up. They kept referring reporters to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees when asked for evidence of these claims.
And then you look at how President Trump himself has referred to the wiretapping claims in the weeks since he's made them. He's sort of tried to move the goalpost as to what counts as wiretapping. It's no longer what we would think of in the traditional sense of direct surveillance of communications. But now the White House is indicating that maybe if there's evidence of incidental collection they would consider that as a substantiation of President Trump's claims.
That's not necessarily going to get him out of this trouble politically, though, because in the traditional sense that's not what wiretapping means. And President Obama, it doesn't seem, was involved in any way.
CABRERA: Right. And his tweets were really specific. Tom, Quigley kind of laid the table for what he expects to happen this week. He told me we're not going to learn any national secrets on Monday. It's going to be more about the framework moving forward.
[20:05:02] Are we going to have any actual hard answers on Monday?
TOM LOBIANCO, CNNPOLITICS.COM: Well, you know, I think the first thing that we'll probably have is they're going to try and clear out this wiretap allegation; try to put that one to bed to the best that they can.
After that, I think a lot of them really want to get back to the Russia investigation. What was the level of interference in the U.S. elections? What were the communications with Trump advisers?
Obviously there's been a fair amount of reporting from us, from a number of other outlets on that. I think the committee, the Republicans and Democrats, want a lot of that out there.
And also you have House chairman Devin Nunes saying that he wants to investigate how this got out there. He wants to know who leaked this information.
So, you know, putting the wiretap thing to bed, laying that to rest, is kind of the first step in this process. It's fascinating that the President doesn't seem to want to let this go, again, bringing it up yesterday with Angela Merkel. But that is going to be all the congressional investigators, bipartisan, are ready to be done with this. So that's going to be the first step Monday.
CABRERA: Right. And this hearing was supposed to be more about the broader Russian investigation or looking into Russia's involvement in the election. And then this wiretapping claim happened, and the rest is history, so to speak.
Tim, you wrote an op-ed for CNN.com on the wiretapping scandal. This is what you write. Quote, "Spin for the sake of presidential reputation is a normal part of political life. But there is spin and then there is spreading poison." And you go on to say in your column that even Richard Nixon, who you describe as the most conspiracy- minded president, would be taken aback by what's going on today when it comes to this wiretapping claim.
Explain further what you mean.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: A couple of things. On Monday we are going to get evidence, I suspect, that Donald Trump tweeted without actually any evidence whatsoever and alleged that his predecessor wiretapped him. This means that we have a president now who is willing to go public with allegations without any information from his intelligence community. That's really bad.
And that raises --
CABRERA: Is there any precedent of other presidents doing something similar?
NAFTALI: Well, there are -- we could spend a whole night talking about times where presidents have lied to the American people. The reason we had a credibility gap during Vietnam was that LBJ, Lyndon Johnson, didn't tell the truth about how the war was going. So that's -- there's nothing about -- but --
CABRERA: So there's nothing new.
NAFTALI: -- it's still bad. It's not something you want to see.
CABRERA: But what makes this so bad based on your article?
NAFTALI: What makes this really bad is that we all as Americans should have trust in our institutions. That doesn't mean that government is always right. That doesn't mean the courts or the executive -- we have to trust our basic institutions.
When you have a president who is allowing his press secretary to spread this delusion that there is somehow an unelected, irresponsible secret state, a state within a state, then you're harming public trust in our institutions.
After all, Donald Trump right now could ask the intelligence community, give me a list please, of all the warrants -- of all the FISA warrants, show me what wiretaps there were in 2016. And he can get them.
Richard Nixon, as I mentioned in this piece, asked for a similar list and got it in 1973. He got the wiretaps that Bobby Kennedy put. He got the wiretaps that Lyndon Johnson put. The thing is, the President has access to that material. And I think the American people have to understand that we have a responsible government, and that our intelligence services, while they do make mistakes, they are under the control of the President regardless of whether he is a Republican or a Democrat.
What this White House is doing is rather than owning up to the fact that the President tweeted without any evidence, they're trying to cast blame. And not only are they blaming the intelligence community. They're blaming our allies, the British.
NAFTALI: That's completely irresponsible. And there is a time when -- you know, it's two months into this administration, this is the time for the President, President Donald Trump, to be serious about the U.S. intelligence community, to take its information seriously, not to trust it always, but to take it seriously and to show the respect for it that every previous president since we developed a modern intelligence community under Franklin Roosevelt, every previous one showed that respect.
It's time for Donald Trump to do it. He can't be playing these political games and think that this country looks good. We look very foolish as a nation when he is chasing phantoms as he has been.
CABRERA: I want to ask Sarah about that. Do you think that this has an impact on the U.S.'s reputation, especially with our allies? Because as Tim brought up, the President and the administration -- Sean Spicer on behalf of the President, dragged Britain, perhaps our greatest ally, into this wiretapping scandal.
 WESTWOOD: Well, certainly I think that there is a certain amount of this built into the expectations of our allies when they're dealing with President Trump. They do know that they're not dealing with President Obama, they're not dealing with someone who is as cool headed and as measured as the former president. And so their expectations have been recalibrated.
But that being said, this isn't necessarily good for diplomacy. It doesn't help to have President Trump and Rex Tillerson or Nikki Haley or anyone else from his cabinet having sort of inconsistent messages at any given time.
It should help that the entire cabinet should be on the same page when they're dealing with our allies. So obviously President Trump and the White House, it's in their best interest to just put this wiretapping situation to bed.
Tom is absolutely right, the best thing for the White House and what they want right now is to just to move on from the situation. It's why they keep referring reporters and anyone with a question to the House and Senate intelligence committee. That's why they want to pick a fight with anyone who asks them about these wiretapping tweets in the briefing room. They just want the story to end. Because they haven't been able to provide a back story for those tweets, it's not going anywhere.
CABRERA: All right. Sarah Westwood, Tom LoBianco and Tim Naftali -- our thanks to all of you.
Coming up live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about to have a crucial meeting with the Chinese president.
But breaking news just in, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered and overseen a military test just as the U.S. and Chinese leaders were about to sit down to discuss America's heightened rhetoric towards North Korea. We'll go live to Beijing for the very latest on this breaking story in a very dangerous region when we come back.
[20:11:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Breaking news right now from overseas from North Korea. State-run media there is reporting that the country has carried out a test of a new type of rocket engine that they're calling a great leap forward and one of historic significance.
Let's get to CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers and global affairs correspondent Elise Labott in Washington.
Matt -- you first in Beijing, I know you're still digging to get more details on this. What have you learned so far?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) -- we should really hedge on that and say that this is only coming from North Korean state media at this point and we should take all of what they report with a really, quite large grain of salt.
But still, what they are saying there is that this is a new high- thrust engine that was tested on the ground in North Korea as a part of this ongoing ballistic missile program that the North Koreans really have been actively engaged in. Exactly what kind of engine this is, what kind of power it has and what kind of impact it would have on the overall missile development program within North Korea, we're still trying to figure that out at this point. This is just coming into the newsroom.
But it's important to understand the context surrounding all this. North Korea has been extremely busy as of late with dozens of ballistic missile tests since 2016 -- the beginning of 2016 alone. And lately they've really made a lot of progress in terms of moving that technology forward.
One thing we've seen recently is how they've changed the way their rockets are fueled. They went from rockets that were liquid-fueled rockets to rockets that were fueled by a solid state fuel.
And really that means that you can launch that rocket much faster. It could be more mobile and that presented a significant step forward. We also know that the North Koreans are taking steps towards potentially developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that they could test at some point.
So is this new high-thrust engine, as the North Korean state media is calling it right now, does that have something to do with their development of a potential ICBM? We're not sure yet. But it's just adding to what we've seen out of North Korea recently, which is a continued development, a continued push to develop that ballistic missile test and the ballistic missile program that they have up there in the face of all these U.N. sanctions, all this tough talk from the United States and China. It does appear that the North Koreans are moving ahead and moving ahead at quite a clip.
CABRERA: Elise, it does seem like there's been a lot happening in North Korea lately when it comes to kind of this aggressive military action of sorts. There have been signs this could be coming.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right -- Ana. And as Matt said, in addition to these kind of intermediate and medium range missile tests that they've been doing, my colleague, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr just put out some reporting just yesterday that there have been signs that U.S. intelligence has been looking at that the North Koreans were getting ready to test some kind of engine.
There's been a lot of activity at some of their sites. They've been trying to mask it, to kind of confuse everybody what's been going around but there's been a lot of activity that led them to believe that there would be some kind of engine missile test.
And as we know, as Matt said, the North Koreans have been working on this intercontinental ballistic missile. They're medium range technology in terms of those missiles, they continue to perfect that.
And so there is a concern that this is moving them, inching them closer to some kind of engine and all the equipment for an intercontinental ballistic missile.
And to show that the U.S. has been watching this very closely, you have the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford, putting out a statement the other day, speaking with his South Korean counterparts, saying that the two discussed changes in the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, and talking about possible response actions.
So obviously the U.S. has been looking at this very closely. And there is evidence to believe that North Korea could be working on another nuclear test -- so all of this certainly very concerning to the U.S.
President Trump came in with a warning from President Obama and certainly the Trump administration feels that this is one of the gravest national security threats facing the U.S.
[20:20:04] CABRERA: Well, of course the timing of this is also interesting. You remember it was back on February 11th when North Korea fired off a ballistic missile test during the visit by the Japanese prime minister here to the U.S.
Right now we have the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visiting China. And we know North Korea is on the agenda as part of that discussion. How significant is it that this happens during Tillerson's visit there in that region, Elise?
LABOTT: Well, I think it's very significant, particularly in light of the messages that Secretary Tillerson is delivering, that he's very concerned about the imminent North Korean threat. That the U.S. has said that basically the last 20 years of policy towards North Korea has failed, and the U.S. is looking at new options.
And he signaled they're going to be a lot tougher. And you know that North Korea, just as they did with President Trump's meeting with Prime Minister Abe, launching that missile, the North Koreans want to get the attention of the U.S. So obviously you have to put it into that context.
But it doesn't make the threat, Ana, any greater or any less. With every test that North Korea makes, whether they're doing it -- obviously they want to get attention and they love to be provocative. But with every test that they make, they grow closer to having the kind of technology that would really be a disaster scenario for the U.S. and for Europe, and certainly for South Korea and Japan.
So this is very concerning to the U.S. and not just the fact that he did it with Secretary Tillerson there. I think in a way it actually benefits Secretary Tillerson when he goes into this meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping very shortly, to say, look at the threat that we're facing.
We really have to double down, when President Xi comes next month to meet with President Obama -- excuse me, President Trump and he will be setting the table for that meeting today. It certainly makes the threat much more real.
CABRERA: All right. Elise Labott, Matt Rivers -- thank you so much.
Again recapping, the U.S. getting word that North Korea has just tested some new technology. They're calling it high thrust engine technology. We're working to gather more details. We'll be right back.
[20:22:22] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: And breaking news tonight from the music world: Rock 'n roll pioneer Chuck Berry passed away today at a home outside St. Louis. He was 90 years old.
Often called the father of rock 'n roll, Berry influenced various generations of rock stars and left his mark with these hits: "Johnny B. Goode", "Roll Over Beethoven". Bruce Springsteen just hailed Berry as the greatest rocker of all time.
CNN contributor Nischelle Turner has a look back at his legendary career. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
NISCHELL TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock 'n roll. His powerful guitar licks fueled hit songs such as "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybelline" and "Roll over Beethoven".
During the 50s and 60s, Berry's music signaled a new era in rock 'n roll. The singer's ability to seamlessly blend R&B and rock made a strong impact on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to name a few.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played.
TURNER: Berry experienced a career resurgence in the mid-80s and 90s. His music reentered pop culture in films such as "Back to the Future" and "Pulp Fiction".
In 1984, Berry received a Grammy lifetime achievement award and a year later he became the rock 'n roll Hall of Fame's first inductee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Berry.
CHUCK BERRY, SINGER: Dynamite. Dynamite. Thank you.
TUNER: On the heels of his induction the Stones Keith Richards invited a roster of great musicians to celebrate the rock icon's 60th birthday. Then in 1987 Berry was humbled to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
BERRY: I cannot describe, I don't have the voice, I don't have the wind, I don't have the spirit. But believe me I'll remember the rest of my life.
TURNER: The married father of four repeatedly had trouble with the law. He was behind bars three times for charges ranging from attempted robbery to tax evasion, and convicted of transporting an underage girl across state lines. However, Berry's career was not derailed.
BERRY: The margin of glory is not too high; the margin of defeat then is also not too low. So I live right through it without any pain.
TURNER: Berry received a Kennedy Center honor award in 2000 and continued to perform well into his 80s. His remarkable contributions to music will forever remain a part of rock 'n roll history.
CABRERA: Nischelle Turner -- our thanks to you. I mean seriously, who doesn't love some of that music?
Coming up, Trump voters in Michigan: they're placing their trust in the Republican health care bill. Why they feel anything is better than Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really in my heart feel that Trump cares about the American people. I think he has the best intentions to get people healthy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:33:46] CABRERA: Welcome back to CNN "Newsroom".
Sources now telling CNN, House Republicans are planning to vote Thursday on their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. President Trump expressing optimism that they will have enough support on their side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT (on-camera): We met with 12 pretty much no's in Congress. They went from all no's to all yeses. And we have a lot of yes coming in. It's all coming together. We're going to have great health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now, the reality is the fate of this bill is far from sealed. CNN has been keeping track of the votes. Here is where we are at last check.
Fourteen Republicans say no, not going to vote for it. Eleven are leaning no. So that makes 25. The Republicans can only afford to lose 21.
So what do voters in Trump country think of this debate in Washington? CNN's Martin Savidge went out to find out.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this part of Michigan, breakfast is big.
(on-camera): This is a city; this is a town that just about every American knows mainly because of breakfast.
PAUL CONKEY, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: Yes.
SAVIDGE (on-camera): Kellogg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Tony the tiger.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Battle Creek, the city that frosted flakes, froot loops, and grape nuts built, home to cereal giants Kellogg and post.
[20:35:03] While these international companies are holding strong other parts of Battle Creek, like many parts of Michigan, have seen better days, from cuts to production lines to jobs shifting out of state to finding affordable health care.
CONKEY: It's been the process.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Paul Conkey, owns the griffin grill. He wanted to find health care for his 30 employees but couldn't afford it. He says he can't barely afford his own.
Conkey who didn't enrolled in Obamacare claims the healthcare law still took a toll on his premiums.
(on-camera): And just so we're clear, it wasn't -- you didn't have Obamacare. It was the impact Obamacare had on your private insurance.
CONKEY: Yes, absolutely.
SAVIDGE (on-camera): Did you see it right away, these increases?
CONKEY: Yes, you could see it doubling.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Tax attorney Chris Micklatcher in part owes his living on the impact Obamacare has had on his middle income customers.
CHRIS MICKLATCHER, TAX ATTORNEY: People can't afford their insurance, so either they go without insurance. Or they buy the insurance but they don't pay their taxes. So, they come into my office as a result.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): It safe to say in this part of America, the Affordable Healthcare Act is not very popular. After twice voting for Obama Calhoun County swung away from in 2016.
(on-camera): It was Donald Trump's talk of replacing Obamacare. Was that one of the things that drew you to him?
JAMES STARR, SELF-EMPLOYED: Well definitely.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): James Star is self-employed and the Republican county chair. He too says he struggled to pay his family's thousand dollars a month health insurance premiums.
STARR: And I ended up just deciding I'm going to go without.
SAVIDGE (on-camera): What do you know of the republican plan put forward so far?
STARR: Well, I know what's in the headlines. So, I don't know details.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): A lot of Trump supporters I talked to admit they really don't know the details of the Republican plan to replace Obamacare.
(on-camera) Do they know what the change is going to be?
MICKLATCHER: They don't know what the change is. I don't know if they really understand what Trump is proposing. And frankly I don't either. CONKEY: Yes, you know, its overload, because that's all they're talking about. So, I turn it on and turn it off. But --
SAVIDGE (on-camera): Do you think it will be better?
CONKEY: I do -- well, I do.
SAVIDGE: Another recurring theme among Trump voters, in their minds anything will be better than Obamacare, especially if Trump's behind it.
DEB BLACK, TRUMP VOTER: I really in my heart feel that Trump cares about the American people. And when he says he wants to make America great again, I think he has the best intentions to get people healthy.
SAVIDGE (on-camera): Donald Trump has sort of implied and I know he uses, you know, simplistic language, but it's going to be the best ever, it's going to cost less, you'll get more, those kinds of things. Do you believe that?
CONKEY: I think his ability to negotiate and get people from all sides buying into it. I think that they're going to make some improvements.
SAVIDGE (on-camera): If the president says it's going to be a good plan?
STARR: Well, I'm not sure, I'm that trusting. But better, less bad, maybe.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Battle Creek, Michigan.
CABRERA: Our thanks to Martin Savage.
Coming up, Twitterversary eight years after the president joined Twitter; we count down and point out some of his most controversial tweets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Let me ask you, should I keep the Twitter going or not? Keep it going? I think so. I think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:42:37] CABRERA: Believe it or not, today marks eight years since President Trump joined Twitter. A Twitter tracking site estimates the president has spent 289 hours or more than 12 full days writing tweets. And now from the most old postings are coming back to haunt him as critics accused him of peddling conspiracies.
Here is CNN Victor Blackwell. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Number eight, Election Day 2012, then private citizen Donald Trump tweeted the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing none competitive. Well, this is one that President Donald Trump is promoted for years. Despite offering no evidence, to support the claim the Chinese created climate change, the science is clear.
According to NOAA and NASA nearly all the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000. And after his November 2016 election win, Trump conceded a human impact on climate change, telling "The New York Times" quote, I think there is some connectivity, something it depends on how much.
Coming in at number seven, the disease that killed thousands of people, Ebola. In October 2014, Trump tweeted, "Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting, spreading all over Africa and fast. Stop flights."
Well, Ebola did not spread all over Africa. All but 15 of the more than 11,000 Ebola-related deaths were confined to three countries in West Africa. Trump never gave any evidence to back up his accusation that the government was hiding the truth.
In March 2014, Trump tweeted a debunked health claim, offering, again no evidence. "Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good in changes, autism, many such cases." Well, the CDC says there are no links between vaccines and autism.
Actually here is what President Trump's pick to lead the FDA said in 2015.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FDA NOMINEE: I think for too long a lot of people's public statements allowed these myths to propagate because they said things like, well, we don't think there's correlation but we need more research. We don't need more research. At some point enough is enough, it's finally continue to collect data, but at some point you have to take no for an answer.
BLACKWELL: Number five, from 2012, the economy is in terrible shape. Barack Obama is manipulating the job numbers to hide the truth.
[20:45:01] Another claim candidate Trump repeated without evidence during his run for president.
TRUMP: I hear 5.3 percent unemployment. That is the biggest joke there is in this country.
BLACKWELL: But after a strong jobs report for his first full month in office, a sudden reversal from the White House Press Secretary.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They may have been phony in the past but it's very real now. BLACKWELL: Minutes after CNN called the 2012 election for President Obama. "He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in the country". Also calling the Electoral College "phony." Actually, President Obama won the Electoral College vote and the popular vote. And as the numbers came in, Trump deleted those tweets.
Four years later, Donald Trump's own actual electoral win and popular vote loss takes us to number three. "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
TRUMP: You're going to spied and we're going to do an investigation on it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But three to five million illegal votes?
TRUMP: Well we're going to find out. But it could be very well be that much.
BLACKWELL: Six week later, still no White House investigation, nor any evidence to support the claim.
At number two, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon Watergate. Bad or sick guy!"
Well, the House Intelligence Committee launched an investigation into that claim.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA: We don't have any evidence that that took place. And in fact I don't believe, just in the last week of time, the people we've talked to, I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.
TRUMP: We will be submitting certain things, and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week, but it's right now before the committee. And I think I want to leave it there.
BLACKWELL: And the number one debunked or baseless claim.
TRUMP: You are not allowed to be a president if you're not born in this country. He may not have been born in this country.
BLACKWELL: The relentless questioning of President Obama's birthplace, tweeting in 2012,"An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fraud."
Well, that was more than a year after the President released his long form birth certificate in response to Trump's claims.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. BLACKWELL: That included Donald Trump, who tweeted in 2012, "I want to see Barack Obama's college records to see how he listed his place of birth in the application." Then under intense pressure during his campaign for president in 2016, Donald Trump finally acknowledged the truth.
TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.
BLACKWELL: Happy twitterversary to @realDonaldTrump.
CABRERA: Twitterversary and Victor Blackwell thank you.
Joining me now, CNN Senior Media Correspondence and host of "Reliable Sources" Brian Stelter. All right, Brian, eight years, Trump on Twitter. He's clearly not changing his ways. Do you think we need to change the way we cover his tweets?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think "Newsroom" are getting more judicious about this, taking it very seriously when it post something that involves foreign policy or foreign affairs or governance, taking it a little less seriously when he's complaining about Arnold Schwarzenegger, picking a fight with some celebrity. Those tweets can end up being distractions.
But certainly, he's making news on Twitter. It's a new form of a press release, both on Twitter and also on the Facebook, which is actually probably a bigger way it reaches more people, even though it gets less attention. He has mastered Twitter unlike any other politician.
And so I think it is worth noting that eight-year anniversary. You know, all throughout President Obama's tenure he was tweeting all the way along as we saw right after election night in 2012, laying the groundwork to become president.
CABRERA: Well, it's interesting, because when we have seen his tweets before, he was tweeting as Trump the celebrity --
STLTER: Right, right.
CABRERA: -- as a big business mogul. But now he's tweeting as Trump and as president. And so as the media, we look at those tweets and it's hard not to take them seriously.
STELTER: Yes, absolutely. We need to scrutinize his words just like Obama's or Bush's or Reagan's were scrutinize every President's words have to be taken seriously. But I do think the media amplifies President Trump's tweets in a significant way, sometimes probably too loudly.
I give you an example. His posts today, they were about Merkel, they're about Germany. We have 14, 15,000 retweets, which means 15,000 people spread them to their friends.
STELTER: Sixty, 70,000 likes, that's not a small number, but millions of people heard about those tweets through your newscasts --
STELTER: -- through other newscasts. So it's actually the press that amplifies messages and that's why he choose for to be judicious, you know, if I post about my breakfast or lunch, nobody's going to care on Twitter. We should take his news where they post seriously and maybe we should spend less time --
CABRERA: All right.
STELTER: -- talking about his celebrity feuds.
CABRERA: And good for us to be requested and all of that to think.
STELTER: Right, right.
[20:50:00] CABRERA: President was asked this week about if he regrets any of his tweets.
CABRERA: Let's watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My second question, they are from time to time tweets that you regret and insight --
TRUMP: Very seldom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very seldom. And you would tell -- so you never --
TRUMP: -- probably wouldn't be here right now. Buts it's a very seldom. We have a tremendous group of people that listen. And I can get around the media when the media doesn't tell the truth. So I like that.
CABRERA: You know, the thing that he said there that really caught my attention was "I probably wouldn't be here right now."
STELTER: "Probably wouldn't be here", yes.
CABRERA: If he didn't tweet the way he does. Does he have a point?
STELTER: I think we've heard some political experts say the same thing that it was Twitter that helped the President get to where he is. I would disagree a little bit. I mean, I think everybody has a different theory for why Trump was able to win the presidency. I think it was more about cultural currents and reaction to Obama's race, class, and gender.
But, I do think what's significant about Twitter is the President knows how to speak in 140 characters in just a sentence or two. He knows how to convey short, simple persuasive messages and that's what using Twitter or using Facebook kind of teaches you how to do it. He teaches you how to be concise with your words.
STELTER: And certainly, President Trump whether he was calling Hillary Clinton "crooked" or talking about building the wall. These short declarative statements, that's in some ways why he is the first Twitter President.
CABRERA: -- he's sort of a master of this.
STELTER: And every other politician running for all -- not every, many other politicians are already learning from this and are going to. I think, whoever runs in 2020, they're going to try to be media companies the same way Trump is with their own Twitter and Facebook accounts, maybe a reality T.V. show along the way.
CABRERA: When he's seeing now that he can get in some serious trouble with just 140 characters. Look what happened with the wiretapping tweets. And last night Fox News actually addressed those tweets.
CABRERA: President Trump saying his wiretapping tweets were just citing a Fox News story. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now President of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So the President or at least Sean Spicer said essentially it was Fox News. We were just reporting what we heard on their air.
CABRERA: Now we're hearing Fox News say, no we can't even back up what that commentator said on our air.
CABRERA: I mean, is he threatening the credibility of Fox News? STELTER: I think there's a weird dance as going on between Fox and Trump here, his favorite network, the Fox in this cases says, "We don't have proof for what you're saying. We can not back up what you're saying." It does go to show that the President's tweets they do matter more now because he's in the White House, because he has attention of the entire world with his Twitter feed.
CABRERA: All right. Brian Stelter, good to see you.
STELTER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Of course don't forget to watch tomorrow Brian on his show "Reliable Sources," it's tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Coming up, Jeanne Moos on his Big Mac tiny hands and apparently a hacked Twitter account.
[20:57:14] CABRERA: Someone just pulled a fast one on President Trump's favorite fast food restaurant has go to a hamburger chain McDonald's got burned by an online hacker who clearly has a beef with the nation's Chief Executive.
CNN Jeanne Moos has the story.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like salt on a wound, there was nothing sweet about this mctweet from McDonald's @realDonaldTrump, "You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands."
This tour guys who is been a photograph eating at McDonald's who knows the menu.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANHOR: What did Donald Trump order?
TRUMP: I have fish fillet sometimes. Big Macs are great the quarter pound with cheese.
MOOS (voice-over): The tweet lasted only about 20 minutes before McDonald's deleted it. Later posting, "Twitter notified us that our account was compromised." Hacked by an external source a McHack attack. Seth Myers tweeted "Clown on clown crime." Someone else made the Donald resemble Ronald McDonald was the culprit the hamburgler or perhaps rival Burger King?
While the President probably wasn't loving it, this guy may have been Barack Obama was photoshoped into the President's meal asking too much special sauce? Trump supporters suggested a boycott, but once it became known the account was compromised, they were mostly jokes. In fairness, Trump's hands make their regular cheeseburger look like a Big Mac.
(on camera): Do my hands make my burger look big?
(voice-over): To think the President once did a McDonald's commercial.
TRUMP: A big and tasty for just a dollar? How do you do it? What's your secret?
MOOS (on camera): And guess who has to clean up this McDonald's PR mess.
(voice-over): Former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs who is now Global Chief Communications Officer for McDonald's. What does the President like about McDonald's?
TRUMP: And the least, you know what you're getting. I don't want to go in to a restaurant and say Mr. Trump would like a hamburger to go.
JAMES FALLON, THE TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Yes.
TRUMP: Now I don't know what they're going to do to that hamburger? If they like, then I'll be happy.
MOOS (voice-over): At least this hamburger didn't get spit on. Someone just spit out a tweet.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CABERA: All right. Jeanne. Thanks for joining us.
Coming up next, is the CNN Special Report "The Most Powerful Man in the World."
I'm Ana Cabrera and I'll be back tomorrow evening at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Great to have you with us tonight. Have great night.