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CNN NEWSROOM

Bipartisan Outrage Erupts Over Trump's Twitter Attack. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That's good. It's a big mandate for you.

DAVID SHULKIN, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Yes.

CUOMO: And as we've said in the past to the administration, when it comes to the issues and the accountability that must be there for the veterans and their issues, you're always welcome on "NEW DAY" to talk about what matters.

SHULKIN: Thank you so much.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you.

SHULKIN: Thank you.

FRED DOWNS, WOUNDED VETERAN WITH BIONIC ARM: Thank you.

CUOMO: Pleasure. And thank you for your service, especially as we remember our freedoms over this weekend. All right.

WARD: Indeed.

CUOMO: And, Clarissa, thank you.

WARD: Oh!

CUOMO: You represent the best of us. We rely on you so much.

WARD: Oh. It's been such a great week.

CUOMO: It's good.

WARD: Thank you.

CUOMO: And I'm glad you got a little taste --

WARD: Thank you.

CUOMO: -- of what we deal with here on "NEW DAY" on a regular basis.

WARD: I certainly did. I certainly did. Thank you so much to everyone on "NEW DAY." Thank you so much to everyone in America and around the world who's been watching.

And now, of course, it is time to join CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Clarissa, my friend, happy vacation. I think it starts right about now.

WARD: Yes!

HARLOW: Enjoy.

CUOMO: Hide your excitement that you're leaving me.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: Have a great weekend to you, too, Chris. Let's get started.

Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off.

A major meeting for President Trump in just moments. He's sitting down with South Korea's new president as fears escalate over a nuclear North Korea, but a cloud of controversy hangs over the White House at the moment.

Bipartisan outrage, truly bipartisan, over statements that this President has made attacking women, attacking two television hosts for their criticism of him, and unleashing his most venomous jabs at a woman, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, mocking both her intelligence and her appearance, claiming she came to his Florida estate bleeding badly from a facelift. That is not true.

This morning, Mika Brzezinski and co-host, Joe Scarborough, responded in an opinion piece in "The Washington Post." The title, "Donald Trump is Not Well."

They write, our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far behind the personal. America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president.

Let's begin this hour at the White House. It is where we find our Boris Sanchez. Good morning, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Poppy. Yes, in that editorial by Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, they refute some of the President's claims, specifically that they begged him to join him at Mar-a-Lago for New Year's Eve.

And they also refute the question of whether or not Mika had a facelift. They go on to say the President has an unhealthy obsession with them.

The President was asked about his tweets yesterday during a meeting with reporters. He did not answer the question, though he did tweet about the show again moments ago. I'll let you get to that in a moment.

I do want to get back to Joe and Mika, though. They were actually supposed to be off today, but they went in to the studio to defend themselves against the President's barrage of tweets. Here's what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: It is unbelievably alarming that this President is so easily played. He's so easily played by a cable news host.

Now, what is that saying to our allies? What is that saying to our enemies that this President is so easily played?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: We got friends inside the White House that have told us over the past month they're getting more concerned about his emotional state. And also more concerned at the same time --

BRZEZINSKI: His self-control.

SCARBOROUGH: -- about what's happening across the world. There are bad things brewing across the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And as you mentioned earlier, Poppy, a big morning for the President. He is set to meet with the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. They're set to hold a joint statement at the Rose Garden at about 11:00 a.m., where, we understand, they will not be taking any questions, so we will not be able to ask the President any further about his tweets.

I should tell you, later on in the day, at about 4:00, he is headed to Bedminster, New Jersey to a Trump property, marking the 19th time the President is spending the weekend at a Trump property since the inauguration, Poppy.

HARLOW: Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you for the reporting. We have a lot to get to this morning, folks. Let's bring in our panel.

Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst, "USA Today" columnist. Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz. Brian Stelter, our senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." And conservative Ben Ferguson, a CNN political commentator.

It is nice to have you all here, and I wish we were talking about something else. And we are going to get to some really important notes on health care in a moment, but Kirsten, to you first.

When you think about today, and you think about this critical meeting that the President is having with the new president of South Korea, about how to protect the world against North Korea, how can the world look at this President and think that he is focused on that when the last tweet he just issued in the last three minutes was about a cable news show, attacking hosts once again, Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Yes. I mean, they can't. And I -- you can only imagine what goes through the heads of people who are, you know, in other countries looking at this and having serious meetings with the President and wondering what is going on. That he, again, goes out of his way to attack a couple of, you know, granted, influential but still cable news hosts when he is the leader of the free world.

[09:05:13] So this seems to be completely lost on him, that he thinks that this is a good use of his time and that this is something that he's going to continue doing, no matter how much, you know, he gets criticized for it or no matter how many polls come out showing that even his own voters don't find his constant tweeting, let alone these kinds of tweets, particularly productive.

HARLOW: No, I mean, let alone his fellow Republicans in the Senate and in the House. Susan Collins is talking about it being embarrassing for America yesterday.

Ben, to you. Let me remind our viewers of some statements that this President has made, really promises to the American people. In his Republican national acceptance speech, here is what he said -- we are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone.

And on the campaign trail, I am going to be so presidential that you and other people will be so bored.

I am going to be so presidential. We are going to be compassionate and considerate to everyone. Was the President dishonest, Ben, to the American people with these promises that he made to them given his actions?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think everybody said something or says something that they probably wish they shouldn't have said. I don't know if the President --

HARLOW: Ben, he doesn't --

FERGUSON: -- thinks of it this way.

HARLOW: Wait, he is -- Ben.

FERGUSON: Let me --

HARLOW: Please, Ben.

FERGUSON: Let me at least finish.

HARLOW: Wait. He just doubled down --

FERGUSON: Poppy, let me at least finish it.

HARLOW: -- with another tweet about it.

FERGUSON: Let me at least just finish what I was saying. The President here -- I would not have sent out this tweet. I think this is personal spat that he has that has become very personal between two people that he spent time with behind closed doors. I don't think that that's a tweet that should be sent out. I always

ask the question, was it worth it? Obviously, it has taken the agenda off the table that he is trying to work on, at least in the media, and that's something that was not worth it for him to put out this tweet.

I also think that the President probably tweeted this and went right back to doing his job. So I do think that some people are over- exaggerating and over-playing how much here of some sort of influence this really had.

He saw something he didn't like, he tweeted about it, and he moved on. Now, should he have done it based on how much it's taken away from some big legislative victories he had yesterday on sanctuary cities and on his travel ban, I would say, no, it was not worth it.

And so, that's the big question that he has to ask himself before he tweets again. Is this going to move my agenda forward, or is this going to take away from big victories?

HARLOW: Was it below the dignity of the office, Ben, as Republican Senator Sasse says?

FERGUSON: Look, I said it earlier. I don't think the President should have tweeted this one out. I think this is a personal spat that's gotten very personal between people that, obviously, he feels like were two-faced.

I mean, let's be clear, this morning, she did say that when they were in Mar-a-Lago, they were trying to get an interview with him. I'm sure the President is saying, let me get this straight, you're out there behind the scenes asking for an interview, trying to get me to come on your show, and then when I don't, you go on T.V. and rip me? I can understand why the President would be upset about that and be mad, saying that's two-faced.

HARLOW: Critical journalists ask subjects, especially the President of the United States, for an interview and then continue to be critical, that's journalism.

FERGUSON: But this is more than an official --

HARLOW: Hold on, let me bring in --

FERGUSON: -- request.

HARLOW: Hold. Let me --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: They're not ripping him --

HARLOW: Let me bring in Brian Stelter.

STELTER: They're not ripping him because he's refusing to be interviewed. At least, that's not the most logical explanation. I think they're critical of the President because they're scared that he is not fit to be President. And that was really notable this morning, Poppy, that they tried to

reframe the conversation. Joe and Mika are saying, this is not about us. It's about the President. He is not well.

They are concerned about his fitness for office, his emotional stability, and they've been saying that for a while. And I can understand that must frustrate and infuriate the President, but they're trying to make it about that and not about themselves.

HARLOW: So he just tweeted five minutes ago.

FERGUSON: But, Poppy --

STELTER: And it does confirm the --

HARLOW: Hold on, Ben.

STELTER: -- that it does -- that the President is tweeting, saying he was watching this morning and he calls the show fake news, said it's a bad show, but he was watching.

There's an allegation made by Scarborough that Trump tried to blackmail Scarborough and Brzezinski via the "National Enquirer." Trump's denying that. Scarborough says he has proof, he has receipts, he has text messages. So we'll see where that goes.

But the broader point here is that this feud with the cable news hosts is in a day two and I wonder, where's the apology?

HARLOW: So, Ben --

STELTER: Right? Where is the apology to Mika Brzezinski?

HARLOW: Good point.

STELTER: Just wondering.

HARLOW: So Ben's argument, Alice Stewart, is that this was a tweet that he doesn't think should have happened, but the President got right back to his job.

Jake Tapper did a brilliant job, as he often does, yesterday in pointing out yet another fact. Look at what the President has tweeted about, and these are official statements from the White House, since inauguration day -- 85 attacks on the media, 67 tweets about jobs, 27 about the military.

Alice Stewart, those were cornerstones of his campaign and promises he made about his presidency. He also said, we're going to be doing a job that hopefully you will be so proud of your President. You will be so proud, he said.

Do you think Americans are looking at this and believing that he is focused on those things and so proud, or something else? [09:10:05] ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think so,

simply because, while he did tweet about other things yesterday with regard to energy and national security and immigration, he set the agenda first thing in the morning by tweeting a personal attack against a television host.

And White House yesterday said, look, the American people voted for him because he is tough, he's smart, and he's a fighter. They absolutely did, but they expected him to use the bully pulpit of the White House to fight for them, not take out personal vendettas against television -- T.V. hosts.

That's where he's making the mistake. He has the opportunity to use his vast Twitter following to further his agenda, and he's not doing it.

Look, I worked on a campaign for a governor who is now a fine governor of a great state. He would ask me to send news clips in the morning but withhold the negative op-eds or pieces on him because he didn't want to see that reporter and have a bad feeling about them as he was going throughout the day and they were following him.

Because he respected them and he wanted to have a clear level playing field when he was dealing with them. And he gave everyone the same level of respect.

I wish this White House would do the same because it would make their jobs a lot easier and allow them to focus on what they are doing well behind the scenes, just working on their legislative agenda and working for national security and trying to get health care passed. Unfortunately, it's getting lost in all the tweets.

HARLOW: Kirsten, on the health care note, which is very important -- we're going to dive into it more a bit later. The President is also tweeting this morning about health care. Let's pull it up on the screen.

If Republican senators are unable to pass what they're working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date.

OK. What would that mean for the American people? Because looking back to the latest CBO analysis of doing just that, and they said in January that would mean, immediately, 18 million Americans stripped of their insurance.

POWERS: Well, I mean, this goes against pretty much all the promises that made during the campaign. You know, that he doesn't want people, you know, dying on the streets and he wants people to have access to health care.

If you just repealed it and didn't do anything to replace it, there's just no question that people would be literally dying from not having access to health care. Now, I'm sure Ben is going to tell me about how people could go to the emergency room, but, of course, you can't get chemo in the emergency room. You can't get most serious treatments for, you know, chronic or

serious illnesses in an emergency room. So people do need their health insurance or they will not have access to what they need to, sometimes just to survive.

So I think this also just tells us exactly where things stand with the health care bill, which is that it's really in bad shape in terms of getting the votes to get it passed.

HARLOW: Ben --

FERGUSON: Poppy, I have to --

STELTER: Poppy, isn't it a coincidence that they just said this on "Fox and Friends" --

FERGUSON: I got to respond to that real quick.

STELTER: -- like 20 minutes --

FERGUSON: Hold on.

STELTER: -- before Trump said it? Just, you know, about how much T.V. he watches. This exact idea was brought up on Fox in the 6:00 a.m. hour, and then, right away, Trump tweets it. Maybe not a coincidence.

HARLOW: Ben Ferguson, quickly before I go to the substance of it, though, Rand Paul tweeted supporting the President on this right after. Is this something that you think actually makes sense?

You've been very vocal about repealing and replacing ObamaCare, but he is saying, just get rid of the existing system. We will replace at a later date.

We've seen just how hard it is to replace even when you have the House and the Senate on your side, when you have control of the House and Senate, your party? Ben?

FERGUSON: Is that to me?

HARLOW: Yes.

FERGUSON: Yes. Look, I think that that certainly is an option, but let's be clear. When -- everybody that says these numbers of, oh, this is how many people are going to immediately lose their insurance, of the 18 million, 14 million would be those that would choose to not continue to purchase a product, which is insurance.

It is exhausting to hear how many people keep saying that people are going to die if you make a change to health care, and they're somehow not going to get chemo. My mom has Stage 4 cancer right now --

HARLOW: Sorry, Ben. Ben, that's not -- you're conflating two CBO analysis. In January, the CBO looked at this and said, if you said if fully replace without -- if you fully repeal without a replace, 18 million people will be stripped of their insurance. That was that CBO analysis.

FERGUSON: And how many people are going to walk away from the mandate, which is to purchase insurance?

HARLOW: OK.

FERGUSON: How many? Fourteen million.

HARLOW: Ben, you're confusing two CBO --

FERGUSON: Fourteen million.

HARLOW: You're confusing two different CBO reports.

FERGUSON: I would -- I disagree with you. I completely disagree with you. There are a lot of Americans that have insurance right now which is unaffordable, with high premiums, high deductibles --

HARLOW: All right, guys.

FERGUSON: -- and no one dies if they make a change to this bill, and there are a lot of people that will walk away because the mandate goes away.

HARLOW: All right. We're out of time.

POWERS: So --

HARLOW: Guys, we got to leave it there. We're going to dive into health care right after this. So Kirsten Powers, Alice Stewart, Brian Stelter, Ben Ferguson, thank you very much.

A lot ahead for us. A GOP official just telling CNN that the President's repeal and replace comment just, quote, threw a hand grenade into the negotiations. We will have the latest from the Hill.

[09:15:00] And as tensions mount with North Korea, all eyes on a major meeting this morning between President Trump and South Korea's leader. How will they address this together?

And how do voters want President Trump, Republican voters, who voted for him, to handle foreign policy? I sat down with them this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's renegotiation of NAFTA. It's getting out of the Paris climate accords. It's maybe even pulling back out of U.N.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: President Trump taking to Twitter this morning and seemingly voicing frustration over his party's failed efforts so far to get a new health care bill through. The President writing, "If Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal, replace and then repeal at later date. For millions of Americans any lapse in their insurance obviously would be a huge problem."

A Republican official voicing displeasure with what this all means as they are trying to hammer out an agreement in the Senate. Let's go to Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill. So the word they use, throwing a grenade in the negotiations?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, I think they are just concern, right? At this late stage, tossing in any kind of new element and explaining what they actually mean by that.

Conservatives right now particularly Senator Ted Cruz, has made a lot of really serious good faith efforts behind closed doors to try and get to yeses. There is no question about it. It's a very, very difficult process for him.

But conservatives all along have advocated for just a clean repeal bill. The type of bill that they've voted on, almost every member of the Senate voted on in 2015.

If this is now on the table, according to the President, the concern is that those conservatives that have been negotiating in good faith will pull back and say look, if we can just have the 2015 repeal bill, we are more than happy to do that. That's the concern there.

But a little bit of a back story, Poppy, about how this all came to be. I'm told Senator Ben Sasse had been talking to the White House about this idea that the president endorsed this morning.

This morning sent a letter, the president, and shortly thereafter he was also on "Fox and Friends" advocating for that idea and then the president tweeted saying he supported the general idea and Senator Sasse tweeted back, "Glad you agree, Mr. President. If no agreement by next week, two steps. Repeal first and then spent August full time on replace."

Now a couple of things here, Poppy. First and foremost, Senator Sasse is calling for a year transition period if that were actually occurred. So there are some built-in leeway there.

But the key idea here is that what does this do for negotiations and also where was the president originally on this? Take a listen to this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will do it simultaneously. It will be just fine. We are not going to have like a two-day period and not have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: So a clear shift there, and just to kind of underscore the reality here, Republican leaders, Poppy, considered this earlier in January and it became very clear that they didn't have the votes to move something like this through.

So the fact of this being put back on the table certainly complicates negotiations. Not to mention as you noted last segment about CBO scoring, a lot of serious problems here.

So this isn't necessarily helpful to negotiations. At least what I'm hearing now, but we'll see if it has legs going forward. I can tell you conservative outside groups, already very happy with this idea -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Phil, is it an indication, though, that the White House thinks the Senate can't get this done?

MATTINGLY: You know, I think it's difficult to read too much into the president's tweets, particularly when there's kind of correlating factor. "Fox and Friends" sent a letter this morning from a senator that would have shown to have an impact on what he tweets out in the future.

Look, the White House is involved in this, no question about it, but this is the Senate's ball game. And I can tell you having talked to probably two dozen or more Republican senators yesterday, there is a lot of frustration out where the process is.

But the process is still moving forward as are negotiations. So I don't think that they're calling an end to this right now. I think that they're just kind of reflecting what they're seeing at least now publicly -- Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, Phil Mattingly, great reporting as always. Thank you very much.

New details also this morning out of the "Wall Street Journal" about the Russian hacking story. The journal reporting a longtime Republican operative trying to track down e-mails from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

E-mails that he believed were stolen by Russian hackers from her private e-mail server. All of this reportedly taking place during the campaign and before the 2016 election.

Let's get straight to our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, for more. So the significance of this because this is not a name that most Americans would know.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: No. That's right. It's Peter Smith who has since died. He is an opposition researcher, was working -- on his own behalf, according to the Trump campaign at the time that he was working, he was not working for them.

The "Wall Street Journal" interviewed him in May, where he admitted or sort of gave up information that he was trying to obtain her e-mails from her server. He believed that the Russians may have hacked her server and had actually obtained them, you know, the over 30,000 e- mails.

He actually -- and Smith even hired attorneys and computer experts who were communicating, claim to have been communicating with hackers who had access to information.

But I think, Poppy, it's important to note here that the FBI, when they were doing their investigation, and when they were looking through her server, they found no evidence that it had been hacked and also didn't have any intelligence to indicate that someone was sitting on this batch of hacked e-mails.

HARLOW: He is also not someone with a direct tie to the Trump administration or campaign?

PROKUPECZ: That's correct. At least that's what the Trump folks say. He claims, at least, he claimed to the "Wall Street Journal," Smith did, that he was in contact with Flynn and there were e-mails and other suggestions through various communications that he was in touch, in contact, with Flynn. We did reach out to Flynn. We've reached out to other folks to try and get some comments and no one has responded.

HARLOW: Yes, there's been no comment. Thank you, Shimon, for the reporting. Appreciate it. We'll stay on it.

Moments from now, a major meeting between President Trump and South Korea's new president at the White House. This comes, of course, at a crucial time, growing concerns over North Korea's nuclear program. What will happen between those two leaders with a very different view how to handle North Korea?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Minutes from now, President Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon at the White House. You see the driveway there where he's about to pull up. It's a crucial meeting that comes amid growing concern over North Korea's nuclear program.

All of this happening as tension between China and the United States heats up over a series of sanctions and a controversial arms deal between the United States and Taiwan that just got inked.

Let's bring in Kimberly Dozier, she's our global affairs analyst and senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast." Good to have you here on such a critical day.

Explain to viewers why this meeting matters so much given the situation in North Korea, but also given the fact that President Moon and President Trump have distinctly different opinions of how to deal with Pyongyang?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Different opinions and different styles in terms of how to message to each other. How they're going to work on this.