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President Trump Takes Aim at Top FBI Officials Andrew McCabe and James Baker; The Warriors Get Defensive Against the Cavs. A Look at The Top Seven Media Stories of 2017. A JetBlue Plane Skids Off The Taxiway in Boston. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:33:44] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, let's talk about what's going on with the FBI, because the FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, and the FBI counsel, James Baker, were both called out by the president on Twitter over the holiday weekend. And they could potentially be witnesses in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation now. So, does the president risk complicating his own case by doing this?

Joining us now is Philip Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official at FBI, and Joe Giacalone, law enforcement trainer and former NYPD sergeant.

Great to have both of you here with your unique perspective.

So, Phil, listen, you know the guys at the FBI. You're friends with Andrew McCabe. Can you just peel back the curtain and help us understand, what's happening inside the FBI when they wake up every day to the president, you know, poisoning the well of the FBI?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, I'll tell you, when you go to the FBI, one of the first thing you do in the morning is you sit around and look at, for example, threat information. We used to do that at about 7:15 in the morning. Behind closed doors, despite the fact that the FBI director has been quite, I think appropriately quiet in public, I can tell you that the FBI officials will be going to Andy, whom I knew when I was at the bureau and saying, look, brother, it's OK. We're with you. We'll stick with you. We're staying low because we don't want to engage in a fact with the president. When you fight in the mud, you get dirty.

So I can tell you, despite the silence outside, inside there's got to be a ton of support for Andy McCabe, regardless of whether people think the Russia case is a good case or a bad case. He's got decades of service. You support somebody like that through thick and thin.

[06:35:14] BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Joe, let me ask about this tweet that came from the ethics czar of the Bush White House. Richard Painter (ph) says, using Twitter on Christmas Eve to intimidate a witness, McCabe, in a criminal investigation is not a very Christian way to celebrate the holiday, but it does make Mr. Mueller's job easier, and that's a nice thing to do. Merry Christmas.

Could this be legal jeopardy for the president, this tweet?

JOSEPH GIACALONE, LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINER: Well, it might be. I mean this is something where he's getting into a dangerous thing. We've never had a president do this before. So this is -- we're in a whole new territory with the tweeting and stuff like that. I wish he would stop doing it, actually, because I think he's causing more problems with it than not.

So, you know, this is what they -- this is what they do, right, they attack the investigators, not so much the case, because we don't know what's going on. So --

CAMEROTA: So you say like this is the oldest trick in the book? Like this --

GIACALONE: It is. This is a defense tactic.

CAMEROTA: This is a defense tactic where if you can't -- if you can't attack the case, then you just sully the investigators.

GIACALONE: Sure, you put them on the defensive, right? Instead of doing what they're supposed to be doing, they're actually now trying to, you know, put this out that this isn't biased, this isn't prejudiced. So this is -- you know, and people have been reassigned now. You know, now the deputy is going to retire in 90 days. So, yes, this is what happens when you put people on the defensive.

WEIR: It's interesting, he also tweeted sort of a who knew. Wow, FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned, according to the news. That story had been out for a couple of days. And that tweet, that kind of tweet gives him a bit of arm's length distance from the government he's in charge of, Phil, but talk about the James Baker point of this. This -- that reassignment, how did that play into the investigation and why?

MUDD: Well, I don't think it plays into the investigation significantly. What the president is trying to do is to look at the FBI internally and look at people like James Baker, who would not be involved in this investigation -- obviously it's the Mueller investigation -- and claim that the entire FBI and the leadership is prejudiced. I don't think it's about affecting the investigation. I think it's about, if there are charges that come out of it, further indictments, the president says, look, I told you all along, this is the swamp that's trying to take down my presidency. These people were after me from day one. James Baker, Andy McCabe, two people who weren't part of the investigation.

So the president's trying to put the FBI all into one basket and say, regardless of what Mueller comes up with, I can tell you they're all dirty, they all ought to go and this investigation is a hoax. That's what's going on here, I think.

CAMEROTA: OK. So let's look at it from the president's point of view, Joe. And if he thinks that there are people in the FBI who were somehow involved in his case, that don't like him, and their texts reveal that they were anti-Trump and had an anti-Trump bias, then does he have a point that somehow the investigation isn't legit? GIACALONE: Well, part of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment

protects American citizens from investigations that are, you know, fundamentally biased or prejudiced to it.

CAMEROTA: OK, so he is protected by that. And, of course, he would be upset by that if he thought that it was biased. But does the reassignment of these folks -- so they've all been -- when it's found out that they sent an e-mail that appeared to be anti-Trump, they were taken off the investigation and reassigned, as one would be. I mean, in other words, there is a process in place to protect against that. Is that sufficient?

GIACALONE: Well, they acted quickly enough, I think. I mean nobody knows for sure exactly what everybody's doing. So, you know, investigators, if they're sending these text messages (INAUDIBLE) way back then didn't anticipate this thing going down this road, I'm sure. So, I mean, there might be a lot more texts or a lot more e-mails that we haven't -- we don't know about yet, too. So it's going to be interesting to see how this material either gets released on purpose or, you know, gets released through some sort of investigation.

CAMEROTA: But what do you think, Phil, about that? I mean do you think that a reassignment of these people who sent the, you know, anti-Trump texts, that is that case closed? That's enough?

MUDD: I don't think so. I suspect that there's more of that out there. The inspector general over at the Department of Justice is very aggressive. If there's more in there, they're not going to try to hide it.

The point here, though, is broader, and that is, when you're looking at this investigation, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to have people certified that they actually voted for the president? If you voted for Hillary Clinton, you're not allowed to participate? Investigations are supposed to be non-partisan. Some people here make mistakes. But when you step back, if several hundred people are involved, do you think every single one of them is supposed to be a Trump supporter?

I think this is -- this is not healthy for the American democratic process to try to say that only people who supported the president should be allowed to participate in an investigation.

CAMEROTA: And, you know what, it gets even weird than that. You would have to certify that your spouse isn't a Democrat.

MUDD: Yes.

WEIR: Right.

MUDD: Yes.

WEIR: That's right.

CAMEROTA: So it's also Andrew McCabe's spouse that this is about. You would have to say that your wife supports the president also. I mean it -- this has tentacles that gets weird.

MUDD: Yes.

WEIR: What is the ethic -- you know, the idea of politics within a service branch like the FBI or the CIA? Do agents sit around and talk about their politics or is that the sort of thing like in a newsroom is really discouraged?

[06:40:00] MUDD: Well, I didn't see that much of that in 25 years of service. I served at both the CIA and the FBI. You might hear a comment around the water cooler. If I were there today, I'm sure people are commenting about the president's Twitter habits. It's not just because federal officials are sort of forbidden from participating in the political process. When you go into the office every day and you're looking -- in my case, looking at terror plots in cities like Atlanta or New York or Chicago, you're just not sitting around there saying, what's going on at the White House, except in so far as it affects an investigation. So I don't think it has a huge effect over there.

WEIR: All right, Phil Mudd, Joe Giacalone, thanks so much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, you guys.

MUDD: Thank you.

GIACALONE: Thank you.

WEIR: Two of the best basketball players in the world face off on Christmas. Why things got very heated on the court next in the "Bleacher Report."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Did the refs gift wrap a holiday win for the Warriors in the NBA finals rematch against the Cavs? Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

[06:45:02] Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Bill.

You know, social media was just going off about the matchup between LeBron and Kevin Durant at the end of this game. I'll show you what happened. Under two minutes to go, LeBron driving to the basket here is going to lose the ball out of bounds. Could have easily been a reaching foul on Durant, but no call was made. Then under 30 seconds ago, LeBron once again driving, loses the ball. Again, no foul called on Durant. Warriors would win the game 99-92. And after the game, well, LeBron and Durant had different opinions about what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVS: Obviously, the whole return wasn't -- he fouled my twice. But, whatever. What are you going to do about it? KEVIN DURANT, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Well, it's probably the same play

a bunch of those dudes on Twitter are probably arguing about in 24 Hour Fitness that that wasn't a foul. So they've been in that position before, but just not on Christmas. Keep that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on Twitter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right, it was an emotional Christmas Day on the gridiron for one Houston Texans player after winning his battle with non- Hodgkin's lymphoma. Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry playing in his first ever NFL game. He was the team captain, got a huge ovation from the crowd.

And this game featured maybe the greatest catch ever. DeAndre Hopkins going up, tipping the ball to himself and still finding a way to get both of his feet inbounds. Just an unbelievable catch. Steelers win, though, 34-6 and clinch a buy in the first round of the playoffs. That was the only highlight of the game, guys, for the Houston Texans, but what a highlight it was.

CAMEROTA: That --

WEIR: Tipped it to himself.

CAMEROTA: And keep both feet in. Even I know that rule.

Andy, that is great. But I'm so confused about the basketball one. Aren't you supposed to try to knock the ball out of the other guy's hands? Why is that a foul?

SCHOLES: Yes, but you can't -- you can't slap their arms at the same time.

CAMEROTA: You can't?

SCHOLES: If you're LeBron James, you've got to get those foul calls in my opinion. I was pretty shocked that he didn't get either one of them.

CAMEROTA: All right.

WEIR: You going to be arguing about that at 24 Hour Fitness later?

SCHOLES: I would. If someone hit me like that, I would be arguing about it. I don't know if I'd go to Twitter with it, but I would definitely argue.

CAMEROTA: All right, Andy, thank you very much.

OK, so 2017 has been a banner year for journalism. And the job of getting the truth out to the public, when our public officials do not deal in facts, late night comedians have even got in on the act. CNN's Brian Stelter is going to look back at the top seven stories of 2017, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:58] CAMEROTA: President Trump's war on the press and his administration's own credibility problems played a major role this year in the media.

WEIR: From late night comedians to the serious business of finding the truth, CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter takes a look back at the top media stories of 2017.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Scoops, falsehoods, feuds, firings, and a cultural reckoning. Here are the top seven media stories in 2017.

Number seven, late night in the age of Trump. From Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Obamacare appeal --

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make.

STELTER: To the outcry after Charlottesville.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful.

STELTER: To "SNL's" searing satire.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, "SNL": Sorry, Kellyanne, I'm in pouty baby mode.

STELTER: Late night became an anti-Trump force, channeling the frustration and fear of many viewers.

Number six, the anti-trust battle of the decade.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news, the Justice Department is suing to block AT&T's takeover of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

STELTER: The DOJ argues that the deal would harm competition. But some wonder if this is really about President Trump's vendetta against CNN. After all, there's another deal, this one involving conservative leaning Sinclair, that's making far less noise. Sinclair purchasing Tribune Media. And now Disney bidding for a big chunk of Rupert Murdoch's empire. Will that deal face the same scrutiny? This DOJ lawsuit brings a lot of uncertainty to the media landscape at a time when Facebook and Google's domination of the ad market is already causing anxiety.

That brings us to number five, Russian ads on social media. Tech giants finally admitting that Russia used their platforms to meddle in the 2016 election.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": FaceBook told congressional investigators today that it sold about $100,000 worth of political ads to a so-called Russian troll farm targeting American voters.

STELTER: Similar disclosures from Twitter and Google followed. Hauled before Congress, the companies were shamed for missing Russian interference.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I must say, I don't think you get it. You've created these platforms and now they are being misused.

STELTER: Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all pledged changes. But can they be trusted to police their platforms?

Number four, the White House credibility crisis. It started with Sean Spicer's very first statement from the podium.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.

STELTER: As the press secretary's credibility crumbled, the ridicule ramped up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SNL": I came out here to punch you!

STELTER: Spicer left, but his replacement didn't exactly inspire confidence.

COOPER: Sarah Huckabee Sanders knows what the president said, she just is pretending he said something else.

STELTER: Fact checkers have been in overdrive this year. And every false statement is another stain on the White House's credibility. But, at the same time, there is more pressure than ever on us in the press to be careful and get it right.

Number three, the power of investigative reporting. It created the conditions for Michael Flynn's firing as national security adviser. It led to the ouster of health and human services secretary Tom Price following a story about his use of private planes. And it drove the withdrawal of President Trump's drug czar nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something that there was an explosive report by "60 Minutes" and "The Washington Post."

STELTER: Readership, viewership subscriptions all way up in 2017 as investigative reporting held the powerful to account. And we saw that again in our top media story of the year, coming up.

[06:55:10] Number two is Donald Trump versus the media, still. You know this time last year, we wondered if the new president would tone down his attacks on the fourth estate. But no.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are fake news.

STELTER: Soon after taking office, Trump called the media the enemy of the people and he tried to redefine the term "fake news" to mean any coverage he didn't like.

TRUMP: All I can say is, it's totally fake news. It's just fake.

STELTER: Trump has lashed out with verbal attacks and empty threats.

TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.

STELTER: Trump's media bashing has sent a chill through newsrooms across the country. But the press and other champions of the First Amendment are not backing down.

And the number one story in media this year, the sexual harassment reckoning. It was a moment foreshadowed by the April ouster of Fox News star Bill O'Reilly following secret harassment settlements. It exploded with the publication of two stories about movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Exposes by "The New York Times" and "The New Yorker" sparked a Me Too movement that reverberated throughout every corner of industry and politics. As the floodgates opened, titans of media tumbled.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

CAMEROTA: Veteran journalist and political analyst Mark Halperin is leaving NBC News after CNN uncovered accusations of sexual harassment by five women.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Charlie Rose fired and now three more women are coming forward with sexual harassment allegations against the veteran journalist.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking new details about the sexual harassment allegations against Matt Lauer, who was fired by NBC today.

STELTER: The Weinstein effect is a watershed moment in American culture. But will it usher in real, systemic change? Let's see how the media covers that story in 2018.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Wow, what a year! I mean, I tell people all the time, it's dizzying. It's been a head-spinning year in terms of the amount of news and the cataclysmic changes on some -- in some of these stories that have happened.

WEIR: If you had said at the beginning of the year that Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose would be taken down for sexual impropriety allegations while the president would maintain his office despite more than a dozen accusers, you'd have said that's a screenplay you could never sell.

CAMEROTA: Worse (ph). Oh, all of that. The tidal wave of all of those accusations. But also, I just think that one of the silver linings of having been under siege as journalists this year is that journalism has come roaring back. You know, I think that the fact checking that we do in real-time, the having to be so fact-based, the -- there's just been stellar journalism happening. And Stelter journalism happening.

WEIR: Right.

CAMEROTA: And it's just been -- it's been award-winning. It's been heartening. And, you know, that's what these times required.

WEIR: The -- you know, the First Amendment is not guaranteed. You have to fight for it day by day. And what's interesting the president said in there, in disparaging the media about how they can make up anything, people should look into it. Yes, you should. We should all widen our media appetite. See what they're writing on the right and on the left and make your choices smartly.

CAMEROTA: There you go.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching.

For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, "NEW DAY" continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight, and then all of a sudden it started fishtailing.

CAMEROTA: A JetBlue flight skidding off the taxiway in Boston after hitting a patch of ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We started sliding and then we started spinning and ended up in a snowbank.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Merry Christmas. We say Christmas again very proudly.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is touting his accomplishments and he says he deserves more credit than he's getting.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: You are seeing a man who said one thing during the campaign and his actions a very, very different.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you're someone that voted for Donald Trump, you're pretty happy with how the year ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's critically important that we respect the independence of the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's making the point that we need to make sure there's no bias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a coordinated campaign to muddy up the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the audience is cheering for Republicans. And those are the spasms of a dying party. (END VIDEOCLIP)

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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off. Bill Weir joins me.

Great to have you.

WEIR: It's great to be back.

CAMEROTA: Obviously we're going to talk more about with what Jeff Flake said there in a moment.

But first we begin with breaking news for you. A scare for holiday travelers on Christmas night in Boston. This JetBlue Airways flight skidded off a taxiway after landing at Logan Airport in icy conditions.

WEIR: Passengers say the plane started fishtailing, spinning after hitting a patch of ice. The mishap took place after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow in the area.

And CNN's Rene Marsh is live in Washington with breaking details.

Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, both of you.

[06:59:58] Snow and ice in Boston made travel very complicated for people trying to get to their destinations on Christmas night. This was a JetBlue flight from Savannah and, as you mentioned, it skidded off of the taxiway right after touchdown at Boston's Logan Airport last night.