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Trump Administration Selections Prepare for Senate Hearings; Donald Trump's Acceptance of Intelligence on Russia Involvement in U.S. Election Examined; Interview with Representative Marsha Blackburn; Why Do Trump Supporters Dismiss Russia Hacks Reports? Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 9, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your people, he said it to Cruz also. He did that to Cruz, also.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It was already litigated.
CUOMO: He did it after.
CONWAY: It was all talked about in the election.
CUOMO: You don't think it deserves and apology? If our kids did that, can you imagine what we would say to them?
CONWAY: I'm not going to bring my kids into this.
CUOMO: I will. If my kid something like that it would be a really tough day.
CONWAY: You have to listen to what the president-elect has said about that. Why don't you believe him? Why does everything taken at face value --
CUOMO: Because it doesn't stick to the facts.
CONWAY: And 62 percent of Americans according to CNN's polling said Hillary Clinton can't tell the truth about anything.
CUOMO: Who was right behind her in that analysis? Trump.
CONWAY: And yet she was given the benefit of the doubt here constantly.
CONWAY: You can't give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he's telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go what's come out of his mouth rather than look at what's in his heart.
CUOMO: It's a gesture that's he making on video. Everybody can see it. I'm not judging the man. I'm judging what he did.
CONWAY: Chuck Schumer said that he will obstruct every single Supreme Court nominee -- CUOMO: Because I don't draw equations between bad acts. You judge
each for its own.
CONWAY: Let's form a government. Let's form a government now. Let's get this government formed. And we need the help of the Democrats to do that. We actually don't, but we'd like it, because we have the majority. But we'd actually like its help. We don't want the minority leader who is trying to be the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, we don't want the minority leader going on another network and saying we will stand in the way of any Supreme Court nominee they put up. He doesn't even know who they are yet. He doesn't know what their credentials are.
CUOMO: I hear you. I have to cut you off because there's a timing issue and I don't want to get in trouble with the whole transition, but I don't want to go too long in the window. We're just getting started with the confirmation process. We'll have your back to discuss what's --
CONWAY: And 70 hours so far of mocked hearings, 2,600 questions fielded by our nominees and our designates, and we've met with 87 U.S. Senators including 37 Democrats. We would like to meet with the remaining Democrats.
CONWAY: Thank you.
CUOMO: Kellyanne, thanks for being here. Appreciate you making good on the offer on Friday.
CONWAY: Of course.
CUOMO: And best to you. I know you have a birthday coming up. You're only 34 once. Enjoy it.
CUOMO: We're following a lot of news. Let's get to it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a critical week ahead for president-elect Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is astounding that we would actually have hearings and not know the fullness of people's potential conflicts of interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to grow up here and get past that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to have a good relationship with Russia.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What is true is that Russians intended to meddle and they meddled. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The person asking to sit in the most respected
in our country imitated a disabled reporter. That wasn't in a movie. That was real life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just walked along, pow, pow, pow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An up-close look at exactly what unfolded at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hit the ground and she was killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning, and welcome to NEW DAY. You can say this is the biggest week for Trump since the election. Why? We have these confirmation hearings set to begin tomorrow for the president-elect's cabinet picks as the Republican controlled Congress moves forward with their plan to repeal and maybe replace Obamacare.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect expected to face questions on that and Russia when he holds his first press conference in months on Wednesday. Today Mr. Trump is firing back at Hollywood star Meryl Streep who slammed the president-elect at the Golden Globes last night. We're now just 11 days away from inauguration day. So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jason Carroll. He's live at Trump Tower in New York. Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn. Clearly the president-elect has a lot more on his plate than just dealing with Meryl Streep and her Golden Globe speech last night. This week he's going to have to answer a number of questions on policy issues that will be affecting millions of Americans.
CARROLL: Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress moving full speed ahead with an ambitious agenda. Confirmation hearings begin tomorrow for some of the president-elect's key cabinet nominees. While the Senate is expected to hold a series of votes this week to begin repealing Obamacare, but details of replacing the outgoing president's signature law still remain unclear.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It may take time to get all the elements of the replace in place.
CARROLL: Trump will also finally answer questions on Wednesday when he holds his first press conference in nearly six months. The now declassified intelligence report on Russian hacks expected to be a major focus, but questions remain about whether Trump accepts the report's conclusions.
PRIEBUS: He's not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign. KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hillary Clinton was viewed
by a majority of Americans as unlikable. That has nothing to do with Moscow.
CARROLL: Over the weekend Trump tweeting, "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only stupid people or fools would think that it is bad. When I am president, Russia will respect us far more than they do now." And "Both countries will perhaps work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the world."
[08:05:12] For months Trump has cast doubts about U.S. intelligence that Russia was trying to interfere with the election.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: It could be somebody else.
May there is no hacking. It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.
CARROLL: Trump's skepticism dividing his own party.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If, after having been briefed by intelligence leaders, Donald Trump is still unsure as to what the Russians did, that would be incredibly unnerving to me because the evidence is overwhelming.
CARROLL: In a new interview, President Obama said he did not downplay the threat Vladimir Putin posed to the United States.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I underestimated him. Vladimir Putin is not on our team. If we get to a point where people in this country feel more affinity with a leader who is an adversary and views the United States and our way of life as a threat to him, then we're going to have bigger problems than just cyber hacking.
CARROLL: And Trump this morning going after actress Meryl Streep for comments that she made last night during her Golden Globes speech, criticizing Trump for appearing to mock a disabled reporter. Trump saying this morning on Twitter, "Meryl Streep is one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time I never mocked a disabled reporter, would never do that, but simply showed him groveling when he totally changed a 16- year-old story that he had written in order to make me look back. Just more dishonest media."
The reporter in question from "The New York Times" suffers from a condition which restricts the muscle movement in his arm. The video was out there of how Trump responded to that, and his critics say the video is very clear. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, Jason, thank you very much for that. Republicans are moving ahead with confirmation hearings for nine
cabinet picks this week despite concerns by Democrats in the government ethics watch dog group without incomplete background checks for some of the them. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Democrats to "grow up." That was a quote. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill with more. Give us the latest, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn. This is a big week for the incoming Trump administration up here on Capitol Hill with a whole slew of confirmation hearings for Trump's nominees scheduled and lined up here. And that's exactly where the Office of Government Ethics is sounding the alarms, saying it's of great concern the pace of the schedule given that they say many of these nominees haven't handed over the proper financial forms, the proper ethics forms that they need to ahead of time, saying in a letter, quote, "The schedule has created undue pressure on OGE staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews. More significantly it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings."
And Trump officials are pushing back on this, saying this is just some trying to politicize this moment for them on Capitol Hill. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he's not going to delay any of the hearings. The schedule will stay put, and suggesting that basically it's just sour grapes, all these complaints coming from the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We confirmed seven cabinet appointments the day President Obama was sworn in. We didn't like most of them either. All these little procedural complaints are related to their frustration, at having not only lost the White House, but having lost the Senate. I understand that. But we need to sort of grow up here and guest past that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And the confirmation hearings will kick off tomorrow with Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. I just spoke to him as he walked in here on Capitol Hill. He said he's confident and says he will be ready, so certainly bracing himself potentially for the barrage of questioning that he will get here tomorrow. And transition officials say they are confident and believe all their nominees, Chris, will get through.
CUOMO: Sunlen, thank you very much.
Joining us now is Tennessee Republican, Representative Marsha Blackburn. She serves as a vice chair on the president-elect's transition team. Good to see you, Congresswoman. I haven't seen you since the new year. Happy New Year to you.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: Yes, to you, also. Thank you.
CUOMO: So you've got the hearings coming up. McConnell says small procedural concerns shouldn't block the way. Vetting not being done by the office of government ethics isn't a small procedure detail. Doesn't it matter that you have a full chance to take a look at the financial disclosures of everybody who will be running the government?
BLACKBURN: It's important that the OGE get their work done. And, you know, Chris, lots of times in D.C. we'll say maybe these guys need to realize they're going to have to work more than 40 hours in a week in order to get the job done and to meet a time schedule.
[08:10:12] And I would encourage them to pick up the pace and to move forward so that the Senate committees have the opportunity to look at those full disclosures. And I hope they are going to pick that pace up.
CUOMO: Fair point. But they can't finish what is incomplete. They don't have all the paperwork from all the nominees yet. Isn't that relevant?
BLACKBURN: It is relevant and I know people are getting paperwork in as quickly as they possibly can. It's getting into the process. And if OGE were sitting there twiddling their thumbs with nothing more on their desk, they would have the opportunity to make that as a point.
But we know that they are complaining about the workload that they have. And quite frankly, I think the American people feel like you have a lot of bureaucrats in Washington who work as little as is needed and don't tend to the people's business in a timely manner, and they know that many small business people work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. I have lots of weeks where I put in 80 hours a week. That is not uncommon.
CUOMO: True. And certainly there's fertile ground to play on people's perception of bureaucrats in Washington not working hard. But you just acknowledged they don't have all the paperwork, so it's kind of front running an insult of them not working when they couldn't finish the job, they don't have all the paperwork.
BLACKBURN: The paperwork is coming into them as quickly as it is completed and ready for them to see.
CUOMO: But they don't have it.
BLACKBURN: They don't have empty desks over there. And that is the point. If they were working to the point that they had completed everything, they would have the right to say that, but they don't. We know that paperwork is going into them on a timely manner, and they're running a little bit behind. They're trying to do deflection and say, well, you know, not everything is in on everybody.
CUOMO: It sounds like a lot of deflection is going on. I hope they don't say the work is finished before they get the financial disclosures, because that's probably the most important thing when you have big corporate people and people of high net worth coming into it.
Let me ask you something, any indication if at this press conference that we're supposed to see from the president-elect this week, he's going to deal with how he will try to remedy some of the conflicts of interest that are presented by his business and political life?
BLACKBURN: I know that Mr. Trump and his team have worked tirelessly and have spent many, many hours making certain that things are in the proper order and that it will comply with federal law and with federal ethics requirements.
CUOMO: But as you know, Congresswoman, there's not much law on the issue. This is not about what you have a right to do. It's about what is right to do. This is more ethical than legal.
BLACKBURN: Well, and as I just said, that it complies with the law and with government ethics requirements. And I know they have worked diligently on that. I do not know the details, and I'm certain that Mr. Trump is going to reveal those details when he does the press conference.
But I have every confidence that he is going to be in compliance with what is required in government ethics.
CUOMO: A couple of quick questions. We were told by Reince Priebus this weekend that the president after his classified briefing accepts the intel work, respects the work of those men and women, and seeing the connection between Russia and the hacks. But he then came out and said Russia, China, and North Korea are involved in these things. That is not the conclusion of the intelligence committees on this. They say it was Russia this time. Why is there this persistent intentionality by the president-elect and his transition team to insulate Russia from being singled out for blame here?
BLACKBURN: You know, I have not discussed this issue with him, but I do know 2014 was declared the year of the breach because of the attacks on our infrastructure, financial and health care systems. And that is very well documented. Congressman Peter Welch and I have worked diligently on data security legislation, and unfortunately it was the Democrats who chose to back away from that last year. We would love to move that forward because it is Russia, it is China, it is North Korea. It is other bad actors.
And they -- every day we have thousands of attempts to hack into our system. And whether it is credit card information, whether it is health care information, whether it is data being held, they are seeking to get this. Now, China did the OPM hack, and quite frankly, we were stunned that nothing was done against China. Maybe the administration didn't want to go after them because they do own about $1.5 trillion of our debt.
[08:15:02] CUOMO: The intel community came to the conclusions about China the same way as it did about Russia. You are quick to acknowledge that it was China. You don't say China or North Korea or Russia did the OPN thing. You say China. You know that because the intel agencies told you that. Now they're telling you it was Russia this time, but you include China and North Korea. Do you see why it seems to suggest a sheltering of Russia from sole responsibility? Why?
BLACKBURN: Well, no, I'm just saying the entire universe of hacks, when you look at the virtual space and the hacks that are on it. Now, Russia carried forward on these attempts trying to have some kind of impact on public opinion and the election. So you know that, and hopefully Congress will get to have a briefing this week. Can you believe we still have not been able to see a report and have the briefing and our intel committees come before us and give us the information?
CUOMO: You just had a hearing and the intel community says that any time you want to know, give them clearance and they'll tell you.
BLACKBURN: That's exactly right. We are looking forward -- usually what they will do is a briefing where they pull the chambers together and give us the opportunity to have questions. We look forward to that.
And I will tell you this, Chris, I'm really looking forward to seeing the data security legislation we've been trying to push forward, seeing it get on the books, seeing some additional work done on cyber security.
Look, when you look at the virtual space, you've got cyber warfare that is taking place out there. You have some of these nation states and these rogue entities that have cyber warfare rooms.
These are things we know. It is appropriate that we respond appropriately, that we get in behind this and we do more in the data security and privacy arena.
CUOMO: Marsha Blackburn, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Chris, we are following some breaking news right now, the US-Navy ship firing warning shots towards at least one Iranian boat. An American official confirming the ship fired the shots near the Strait of Hormuz after the vessel was closing in on the naval ship on Sunday. We will bring you more details on this story as Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent brings them to us.
CUOMO: All right, Trump supporters in two states telling "The New York Times" that they don't think Russia's cyber-attacks during the U.S. election are a big deal. How common is this mindset and what is driving it next.
CAMEROTA: So how did Mr. Trump supporters and voters feel today about the intel community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the U.S. election to try to throw the race for Donald Trump.
Let's discuss it with "Washington Examiner" reporter, Salena Zito, who just interviewed a bunch of Trump voters and "Washington Examiner" senior congressional correspondent, David Drucker. Great to see both of you.
Salena, I know you've ventured out into frigid temperatures to go to the Steelers game and you encountered lots of voters there. What is their feeling about the intelligence community's conclusions about Russian hacking?
SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I almost brought my terrible towel to wave after doing that. I went around and talked to people walking through the city and that were tailgating, tried to look for people from different states, like Ohio, Pennsylvania.
Most people that voted for Trump and including for Clinton, they look at this and say they don't think that Russia had an influence on the outcome. They don't like that Russia is meddling in our elections, don't get me wrong.
That is -- that really gets them fired up. But in terms of how it impacted the election, they don't think so. When I talk to Clinton supporters or Trump supporters and say, well, did that have any influence on your vote?
And the majority of them said they already made up their mind. Why wasn't that showing in the polls? A lot of Trump supporters said we didn't tell anybody we were going to vote for Trump.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting. We've learned after the election that in fact they misled pollsters when they called them because they were either annoyed by the pollster generally or they didn't feel like sharing it for whatever reason. That's really interesting.
ZITO: Trust, trust is also a big thing. They didn't trust pollsters. There's a big antitrust thing going on with voters.
CAMEROTA: Very interesting. So David, I mean, is there a feeling -- you know, "The New York Times" did the same piece, went out and talked to Trump supporters about the Russian hacking. I'll read you a couple of quotes from people in that.
It's sour grapes, they're a bunch of crybabies. I don't believe it from the parts of the report I've seen, it seems silly. So what are we to make of the fact that Russia can attempt to subvert democracy and voters give a collective, nah.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": There's a lot of political tribalism going on. We've seen that increase over the past 10, 20 years or so and I think whatever side you were on in this election is going to sort of color your view of what Russia did and the significance that it had in the campaign.
Look, I don't understand why, knowing everything that we know and understanding that Vladimir Putin sees Donald Trump as a fellow nationalist who is going to be more friendly to his agenda. He could be wrong, but that's how he sees it.
That we can't simply say that Russia, as it always does, as a hostile actor to the United States, tried to mess with our campaign, tried to lower confidence in our system, and yet Clinton still made enough big huge mistakes that she still could have won anyway had she not done that.
And so if you're a Democrat trying to figure this out, you can look at the mistakes Clinton made with the private e-mail server, never setting foot in the state of Wisconsin, things of that nature. When you look at how close this was, she could have won anyway.
If you're on the right, you could say to yourself, look, Donald Trump won the election. He won it fair and square. It was a big victory when you look at what he was able to do in the Midwest even though he lost the popular vote.
But Russia hacking our cyber systems is a big deal. President Obama didn't do anything about it. So we hope Trump fixes it. By the way, for Trump supporters, Trump is going to own everything.
So the next time somebody hacks the Office of Personnel Management, if they do, or DOD, guess who is responsible? You can't blame Obama anymore. I think that's what Trump said he's going to ask his team to put together a plan to do something about it.
I don't know why he doesn't emphasize that more. It's curious to say, look, I don't think this impacted my election, but it's completely unacceptable.
[08:25:08]I agree with President Obama and the Democrats. We'll work together to fix it. I think that would sell well both to his supporters and give Democrats less to shoot out.
CAMEROTA: Salena, why doesn't he say that?
ZITO: Because he's Donald Trump. Look, here is what I think is going on. I think because there was this big wave of -- right after the election, there was the recount. There was the Russian hacking, and it sort of all converged and concealed together, and it made his election seem less legitimate especially within his sphere and among some conservatives.
They felt that, look, you guys are just complaining like you did after George W. Bush won in 2000, that his win is less legitimate because of a, b and c. And I think this is just getting inside his head.
And he's not able to separate the ability to say, like David said, hey, look, we need to make Russia stop and stop now. And also, I won legitimately. They're two completely different things and he needs to communicate that better.
CAMEROTA: Salena, David, thank you. We appreciate you being able to channel these thoughts for us and share with us. Great to see both of you.
ZITO: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. We have a quick programming note for everyone. Chris is on his way right now on assignment, heading to Washington, D.C. to host a special prime time town hall tonight with former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders.
They will focus on the major issues facing our country as well as how Democrats plan to take on the president-elect. Join us tonight 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
All right, up next, authorities took the Fort Lauderdale airport gunman's gun away from him two months before this attack. So why did they give it back to him when they knew he was mentally unstable? That's next.