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Trump Under Fire for Retweeting Anti-Muslim Videos; Interview with Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Mueller's investigators are encroaching on President Trump's inner circle. Jared Kushner met with Mueller's team.

[07:00:56] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It certainly indicates that Michael Flynn could be in trouble.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Flummoxed. I don't know what that gets us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the president retweeting these videos, it gave validation to anyone who wanted to push messages of hate against Muslims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our relationships around the globe are much stronger than any Twitter feed from the president.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning new details about Matt Lauer. New accusations of sexual misconduct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't stand up to him and you can't complain, because he's Matt Lauer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't get the sense that this was that kind of guy that women would be afraid of.

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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Chris, we will talk more about Matt Lauer later in this hour.

Meanwhile, good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump condemned by a top international ally. British parliamentarians and the mayor of London do not want President Trump to come to the U.K. And they want the prime minister, Theresa May to disinvite him. All because the president retweeted incendiary, anti- Muslim videos from a far-right fringe group in Britain.

Prime Minister May says the president was wrong to do that. Mr. Trump has fired back.

CUOMO: Special Counsel Bob Mueller's Russia investigation is reaching into President Trump's inner circle. How do we know? Well, CNN was first to report that Jared Kushner spoke to Mueller's investigators. Their meeting, we are told, was focused on fired national security advisor Michael Flynn. What does this mean about Flynn and being close to negotiating a deal?

We have it all covered. CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with our top story -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

The fallout continues. The president stepping on his own message, distracting from his own agenda, often straying into conspiracy zones. And this is habitual behavior for this president on display this week, especially the last 24 hours.

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JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump in Missouri touting what could become his first major legislative win.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel.

JOHNS: But any legislative traction is being overshadowed by wild insults, inflammatory tweets and the president's long-debunked conspiracy theories, raising more questions about his competency. A source close to the president tells CNN that Mr. Trump is now doubting his decision to finally acknowledge that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Trump believing he would have done better if he continued to peddle his birther conspiracy.

TRUMP: Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?

JOHNS: A source also tells CNN White House aides have given up trying to stop the president from tweeting inflammatory remarks. That comes after the president retweeted three inflammatory videos purportedly showing Muslims committing acts of violence. The leader of the far- right nationalist group Britain First, who posted the videos, praising Mr. Trump, as did former KKK leader David Duke.

BRENDAN COX, WIDOWER OF MURDERED BRITISH MP JO COX: This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan. You know, this is not a mainstream organization. For the president of the United States, our greatest ally as a country to be retweeting, to be providing a microphone to those voices.

JOHNS: World leaders condemning President Trump's retweets. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May saying, "It's wrong for the president to have done this."

Refusing to let that go, the president firing back that Theresa May should focus on combatting radical Islamic terrorism in her country rather than focus on him. The White House staunchly defending the president, discounting

questions over the veracity of the videos.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Whether it's a real video, the threat is real. And that is what the president is talking about. That's what the president is focused on, is dealing with those real threats. And those are real no matter how you look at it.

JOHNS: Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill again put in the position to explain the president's tweets.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: This is not constructive. And I'm not sure what the purpose of that was.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Flummoxed.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why?

FLAKE: It's very inappropriate.

I just don't know what you gain by doing this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[07:05:03] JOHNS: And there's even more reaction this morning to the president retweeting those controversial videos. This time from Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. He writes on Twitter, "President Trump has used Twitter to promote a vile extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country. It's increasingly clear any official visit from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed" -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for giving us all that background.

Let's discuss it with CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political analyst David Drucker.

David, let me start with you. The president has a penchant, as we know, for retweeting highly inflammatory, offensive videos or messages. But often they're domestic issues. This one is international with a top U.S. ally. So what now?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. That's the big question. And this is why it's a huge problem. I think in domestic politics, we can argue whether or not the president is helping himself politically, and he's satisfying his base. And what is that going to mean for the tax bill and all sorts of things?

Internationally, when we have a brewing crisis in North Korea, we have Russia meddling in Syria, and Iran rising, we're trying to combat so many different threats, a rising China, for the president to alienate one of our most important allies, somebody who isn't just with us diplomatically but often militarily, unnecessarily, is a huge problem. I agree with Chris, Alisyn. I don't think the president is

incompetent, but I think this is not competent behavior on his part, and he's undermining his own ability to navigate international waters and put the U.S. in a good position with everything that we're dealing with.

When the prime minister of the United Kingdom is in a domestic political situation where she has to rebuke the president of the United States because of something the president did not have to do, that is something that the White House really needs to rethink.

CUOMO: And look, let's just be clear about what the problem is with this. Sarah Sanders has one thing right. It's not about the authenticity of the videos, per se. It's that it is an indictment of an entire religion.

Now, Donald Trump had been somewhat careful, certainly in Trumpian terms, to not do that during the campaign: "I have lots of Muslim friends. I do business with them. They love me."

Not all Muslims, but there is a problem with radical Islamic terror. Clinton is weak because she won't say it, and then Clinton said, "I'll say it all day long." We remember that.

That has changed, Jeffrey. And now the problem with yesterday is Sarah Sanders and the president both had an opportunity to say exactly that: "It is not all Muslims. It is this group of terrorists, who have coopted the religion, and we have to fight them." They didn't say it.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: But, remember, I mean, this is still the man who, when he was a presidential candidate, who said he was going to ban all Muslims from coming to the country. Remember? I mean, that was during the campaign.

CUOMO: But they walked that back, too.

TOOBIN: They walked it back. But, you know, those subtleties, I think, sort of get lost in the sauce. I mean, this is someone who has defined his political persona as fighting back against Muslims generally. And he -- you know, and occasionally, they limit it to terrorists -- you know, to radical Islam.

But, you know, I mean, Donald Trump is who he is. And -- and he got elected president of the United States being that way. So, you know, people respond to incentives. He denounced Muslims. He was bigoted in ways that we have not seen in an American politician. And he got elected president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: I also just do want to zero in on what Sarah Sanders said. Because I don't think she gets a pass for "Whether it's a real video or not, the threat is real." So facts be damned.

CUOMO: No, you're right. You're right. It matters whether or not he's retweeting B.S.

CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: It's true. And I'm saying that there are two wrongs. Right? One is you're right. It should be accurate. He's the president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Sure. He should know the source. He should know the origin.

CUOMO: That's true.

CAMEROTA: Doesn't take that much to figure it out.

CUOMO: There are two problems.

DRUCKER: Alisyn is 100 percent correct here, though. There is a real threat of radical jihadism. The British face it, and so does the United States. To retweet and promote professional information from a bigoted source actually undermines the threat and gives people an avenue in which to call and to question how severe the threat is if you have to rely on negative -- if you have to rely on false information. And that's the issue that I took with Sanders's comments. And I think that's the real problem with it.

CUOMO: Right. But look, also, to Alisyn's point, one step further, how did he get these videos? This is a man who has the advantage of the absolute best intelligence in the world.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: OK? Whether it's direct from U.S. sources or through allies, he can know everything that's happening...

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: ... anywhere in real-time.

CAMEROTA: And so can we by using the Internet. It doesn't take that much vetting for -- to figure out the source.

CUOMO: True. But he likes what he hears on FOX.

TOOBIN: It's FOX and...

CUOMO: This, I think, was through Ann Coulter's thread.

CAMEROTA: Ann Coulter has retweeted this.

[07:10:04] CUOMO: He doesn't follow a lot of people on Twitter. But I don't think that -- it doesn't matter who he's following. It's just what he chooses to ignore. That's what raises -- this is his fault.

For people to come to the point where they're going to argue about his competence, his sanity, his mental wellness, he is forcing the speculation by doing things that seem so counterproductive and hurtful to his legitimacy.

TOOBIN: Yes. But I mean, he's been doing that for years.

CUOMO: That I agree with.

TOOBIN: And he got elected president of the United States.

CUOMO: That is true.

TOOBIN: Why should he stop? But he...

CAMEROTA: I don't know, Jeff, because we have heard people say -- Maggie Haberman who covers him, as you know, every day, says that something seems in the past couple weeks more accelerated.

CUOMO: More. More is not different.

TOOBIN: It is true that -- it's not just the past couple weeks. It's the past couple days.

CAMEROTA: Yes, right. The past couple days.

TOOBIN: We're talking about the...

CAMEROTA: Things have ratcheted up.

TOOBIN: The tweets about Islam. I mean, the incredibly irresponsible things he has tweeted about the Matt Lauer story, talking about NBC executives, talking about Joe Scarborough. I mean, really, just very crazy stuff. He's talking about how there's going to be a fake news contest. We're not -- you know, we're not even addressing all of it.

But again, you know, I just keep coming back to the fact, it's like "Oh, he's got to change. He's got to be pivot to be presidential."

CUOMO: Not -- not going to happen.

TOOBIN: He's 71 years old, and he just got elected president.

CAMEROTA: I don't hear anybody saying that. I hear what this British M.P. is now saying. His name is Stephen Dowdy. He says, "This is the president of the United States sharing with millions inflammatory and divisive content by someone who represents a vile, fascist organization seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online. By sharing the tweets, Trump is either a racist, incompetent, or unthinking. Or all three."

CUOMO: What was his response to this level of criticism? "Worry about yourself. You guys are getting overrun by Islamist terror. You're a problem. You're weak. You're soft."

DRUCKER: And it was -- it was such a point that the president wanted to make that he originally tweeted with the wrong handle for Theresa May. They deleted the tweet and retweeted the same thing with the right handle. He was committed to the fight. And he -- it's not something that he wants to drop.

CUOMO: Right. I'm just saying I'm slow to give an excuse of health or wellness to the behavior of the president.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I don't think it's an excuse.

DRUCKER: There's no reason to do that.

CAMEROTA: I think an explanation is different than an excuse. And so all I'm saying is that it's a valid conversation. When so many people are starting to use words like incompetent and unfit, maybe we should have that conversation.

CUOMO: I'm just saying I've known him over half my life. I'm not surprised by anything I have heard him say in the last couple of days.

CAMEROTA: On that note, Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: I'm just a guy on basic cable. I can't psychoanalyze him.

CUOMO: You have a premium package and everybody knows it.

CAMEROTA: You're premium.

CUOMO: You're not a cord cutter.

TOOBIN: No, I'm not a cord cutter. I've got to pay my own salary.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, thank you.

DRUCKER: Thanks, guys.

Now to Russia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation zeroing in now on Mr. Trump's inner circle. The president's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, meeting with Mueller's investigators this month.

Sources tell CNN that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was the prime topic of their conversation.

CNN's Evan Perez is live with all of this reporting in Washington. What have you learned, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, Jared Kushner sat down for an interview earlier this month with investigators from special counsel Robert Mueller's office. This is part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. We're told by sources that the questions that Kushner answered largely were focused on former national security Michael Flynn, who's under investigation by the special counsel.

Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, told us, quote, "Mr. Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so."

The Kushner interview, we're told, lasted less than 90 minutes. Investigators appeared to be trying to see if Kushner had any information that exonerates Michael Flynn. Kushner worked closely with Flynn during the transition in the early days of the administration.

And you'll remember, recently, Flynn's lawyers ended an information sharing deal with the president, Trump's lawyers, in a sign that some took that Flynn is discussing a plea agreement with the special counsel. We got another indication that those talks may be heating up as Mueller's team has now postponed an anticipated grand jury testimony that's part of the Flynn investigation. Prosecutors seem to be in a hurry to get testimony from a public relations consultant who worked with Flynn. They had set a December date to get that testimony, but that has now been postponed.

Meanwhile, over in Congress, Donald Trump Jr. is agreeing to come back to provide another interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

So you have a lot of moving pieces in the multiple Russia investigations -- Chris.

CUOMO: It is good to be up to date on this. It does seem now, by all indications, there are talks going on between the Flynn team and the special counsel. Where it will lead, we'll see. And you'll probably know first. Thank you very much.

So GOP leaders, what are they going to do about what's on your screen right now? Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, says it doesn't matter if the president retweets fake news because there is something real to the threat. Well, that's irresponsible. How are other Republicans going to judge it? A Republican congressman on NEW DAY, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:19:12] CUOMO: The Senate will debate today on the Republican tax bill. But the president is once again overshadowing his own agenda.

The president tweeting things just now. He just tweeted an attack at the "New York Times," ironically calling out their social media guidelines after what he has been putting on social media.

The White House is defending the president's most recent tweets, which gave a platform to anti-Muslim sentiment. Here's the defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Whether it's -- it's a real video, the threat is real. And that is what the president is talking about. That's what the president is focused on, is dealing with those real threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Joining us now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Sir, good to have you, as always.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: You bet. Good to see you.

CUOMO: All right. Let's start with what's obvious. Of course it matters if the president is putting out fake news. That's all Sarah Sanders has high ground on, or at least she thinks, is to say fake news versus real news. Now she says it doesn't matter if the videos are real? I mean, that's absurd. Or do you disagree?

[07:20:17] KINZINGER: No, I mean, of course it matters. You know, look, I think the president is doing a job executing the war on terror. I think, you know, we have ISIS on its heels. We are fighting, frankly, these forces of evil all over the world.

But I do think it matters if you retweet a video that's not real or that is put out by an extremist, I guess, in the U.K., whoever this guy is. I don't know anything about him. It doesn't matter.

I mean, you're the president of the United States. And tone -- tone has a big impact.

So the actions of the president and the war on terror and in this fight are good. The thing that we have to keep in mind, though, and I would, you know, caution the president and, frankly, anybody listening to me today, is we have to fight what I call the next generation of war on terror. It's the 7- and 8-year-olds. It doesn't mean we fight them. It means we have to understand, these are the ones that are either going to be our enemies, or they're going to be the people that reject terrorism within their own community. But you just can't bomb terrorism out of the Middle East.

CUOMO: You have been on the ground. You have seen the effect of talk on people's perceptions and how it's used for propaganda by terrorists. The idea that all Muslims are bad, that Islam has a problem with the United States, do you agree?

KINZINGER: No. I mean, look, I met with the king of Jordan yesterday, our Foreign Affairs Committee, we met with him, and the queen, his wife. And he's actually going to be -- he's a Muslim. He's going to be the solution in the Middle East. It's going to be moderate Muslims that are going to be the solution, that are going to come together and say, "We reject extremist ideology."

So you know, yes, to an extent, domestically, it may work to say, "Look, they're coming after us." But I don't think there's a single person right now in the United States that has any doubt that there is a version of Islam, an extremist version of Islam that wants to come kill us. We know that. We've seen terrorist attacks since 9/11 and before.

But now it's a matter of let's unite the forces of good in the Middle East, the good forces of Islam to reject this extremist version of Islam within their own religion. Otherwise, again, we have to execute a war on terror against them where they exist.

CUOMO: Right.

KINZINGER: It's necessary. We all did it. But we have to understand that, to win this war, it's going to take them rejecting it from within. This can't be a Christian versus Islam or a west versus east thing.

CUOMO: Congressman, Sarah Sanders and the president both had ample opportunity yesterday to say exactly what you just said: "It is not all of Islam. There is a real part, a perversion of it. We are fighting it. We are winning on the battlefield. There's a larger battle, but we will need Muslim Americans and other moderate Muslims to help."

They didn't. and it -- it spawns a question, right, why didn't they? Is this just a part of "us versus them"? Is this just clumsiness or incompetence? On a messaging level, how do you explain it?

KINZINGER: I don't know. I can't explain it. All I can say is I know what it's going to take to win this thing, which is joining forces with folks in the Middle East...

CUOMO: But does it help to win if the president of the United States is fomenting an "us versus them" mentality about Muslims and non- Muslims?

KINZINGER: No, I don't think it helps to win at all. I think you know -- I think to rally the American people, you can come and say, "Look, listen, we're fighting a real war on terror here." But I think to say it's basically all of Islam, us versus them, or to retweet this video is definitely not helpful in the least.

So you know, look, again, I don't want to take away from the president's strategy in terms of executing the war on on terror. I think we're leaps and bounds ahead of where we've been. But what I think a lot of people forget is military power alone is not going to win this war. It's essential, but it's not going to win the long-term fight that we're looking at.

I mean, look, just briefly, when you look at defeating the Soviet Union, it took two or three generations to overthrow the iron curtain and reject communism.

CUOMO: Right.

KINZINGER: That's what's going to happen in this war, too. That's what needs to happen.

CUOMO: Right. But you get into a proposition of are we doing better, as you say, because of the president's strategy or despite it? His strategy, the word you used, just got a member of the British Parliament to say he should be arrested for fomenting religious hate in that country.

He has our No. 1 ally in the world, their elected officials are questioning whether or not he should be allowed to visit. What does that tell you about the strategy?

KINZINGER: Well, I'm not going to defend the tweet. I'm not going to defend that, of course, as I've done on here. When it comes to actually executing the war on terror, the military aspect of it, I will -- I do believe it's been way better than we have dealt with.

CUOMO: No, I got you. But I'm saying -- I'm not asking you to endorse the tweets or not endorse. I'm saying do you think they're wrong? KINZINGER: Sure.

CUOMO: Do you think it's wrong for him to behave this way?

KINZINGER: Yes.

CUOMO: Do you think the president should not do these things? Because as we've said before, many Republicans side-step this stuff and say, "Well, that's just who he is." Is that good enough?

KINZINGER: No, no, no. I think a president needs to be bigger than a moment. I think a president needs to rally not just the United States but the world to an objective. And I think when you do divisive things on Twitter, it's not good. When you let your emotions take over on Twitter, it's not good.

[07:25:05] You know, even my own Twitter as a congressman, I try to make it about bigger things than me, about bigger things than the partisan battles of the moment. I think that's the right thing to do on Twitter. There is no doubt.

And you're not going to find a lot of people, with the exception of the White House -- it's their job -- to defend some of what's said on Twitter. It could be a useful tool. But obviously, there's mornings where I wake up and I go, "I really wish the president wouldn't have tweeted that."

CUOMO: Adam Kinzinger, you're defining what leadership is. And we appreciate you doing that here on NEW DAY. Thank you for taking the opportunity. If I don't speak to you again, the best to you and your family for the holidays. And thank you for your service.

KINZINGER: You bet. Take care.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. The Matt Lauer story continues to develop. New allegations against the former "Today Show" host Matt Lauer. Up next, we will speak to the "Variety" reporter who spoke to the women making these allegations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. The Matt Lauer story has moved. He just put out a statement as NBC confirms at least two new complaints of inappropriate sexual conduct has come out against him. The "New York Times" and "Variety" detailing very is disturbing allegations from several current and former female -- female staffers at "The Today Show."