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President Trump Criticizes Russia Probe and James Comey on Twitter; President Trump to Host Visiting French President Macron; Interview with Rep. Jim Jordan; Kate Middleton Gives Birth to Baby Boy; Trump Goes On Tweetstorm Ahead Of Crucial Diplomatic Week; Trump Tries To Use Comey Memos To Discredit Mueller Probe; New Memoir Reflects On Ten Years Covering Hillary Clinton. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 23, 2018 - 8:00   ET



[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, President Trump is facing a critical week of diplomacy. In just hours the president and first lady will welcome French president Emmanuel Macron to the White House. This is the first official state visit of Mr. Trump's presidency. There is a lot on the agenda, the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, the future of U.S. troops in Syria, and the rapidly evolving talks with North Korea. President Trump claims that North Korea has agreed to denuclearize ahead of Kim Jong-un's historic visit to South Korea this week, but that is not what they announced.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine the planning, imagine the homework, the strategizing, the sessions with advisers to try to get a handle on all of this. And that's why it makes complete sense that the president this weekend was almost singularly focused on something totally different, lashing out at enemies, going after the probe, 24 tweets, two dozen salvos attacking media, defending his personal attorney Michael Cohen, slamming the Mueller probe, saying that Comey's memos should land him in jail.

Let's bring in the significance of all of this. CNN political analyst John Avlon and Rachael Bade. John Avlon, are we past the point of being surprised that the president will ignore big, major presidential concerns in favor of his own personal sensitivities?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We shouldn't be. We shouldn't be because then we normalize it. This is the responsibility of governing which is the stuff of war and peace, and then there's grandstanding out of personal pique and insult. And that's what the president seems preoccupied by.

Let's just look at the week ahead. We have a three-day meeting with French President Macron who is a fascinating figure on the world stage, radical centrist, sometimes called the Trump whisperer. They've got a pretty good relationship. We have got Syria, troops, what after that missile strike, is there a coordinated plan? We have got North Korea about as high stakes a summit as can be imagined on the world stage, and we have a hollowed out State Department with the president's own nominee for secretary of state fighting for confirmation. These are real world presidential responsibilities. The president seems preoccupied with the petty stuff.

CAMEROTA: Rachael, I don't know if we should consider it petty since it's Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, who is being now investigated, and the president does seem exercised if we base it on his 24 tweets over the week about what is going to happen with the Russia probe and the investigation into Michael Cohen.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We know from the reporting that the reason he is doing this is because he is worried. He's really concerned about Michael Cohen flipping. Obviously he tweeted over the weekend attacking "New York Times" Pulitzer Prize winning Maggie Haberman who reported this weekend that basically Michael Cohen and the president, even though they are very close and he's been working for the president for a long time, the president didn't always treat him the greatest and the best. So Cohen might actually flip. And the president attacked Maggie personally on Twitter, saying that she had, quote, drunk sources which is pretty phenomenal in and of itself to say something like that on Twitter from the president of the United States towards a reporter.

But listen, it just shows that he is worried and he doesn't know what will happen on these investigations. He is concerned about the Russia probe and he feels like he is being attacked on every which side, so he is just lashing out.

AVLON: We all know that Twitter Trump gives us real insight into the mind of the man and it's always not a pretty a thing. When he's, by the way, dissing Maggie's allegedly drunk sources and he's criticizing former staffers of his own which adds to the surreality.

But also this is where comparisons with past presidents is helpful. We have had past presidents under investigation. It drove them personally crazy. Bill Clinton in the late 1990s as an example. But what presidents do is they compartmentalize that because they have to be more focused as a matter of the oath they took on the country, on governing, and so try not to let these things spill out over into public, let alone dominate all their discourse, which is what Donald Trump does.

CAMEROTA: This just in. Kate Middleton has given birth to a baby boy. Very exciting.

CUOMO: And it is named Donald John.


AVLON: That's just not true.

CAMEROTA: That's not true.

CUOMO: We don't know for sure.


CAMEROTA: Dallas confirms the birth. We'll get to that later in a different segment. CUOMO: Rachael, there's a little bit of dovetailing here in terms of

what we see with the tweets and the preoccupation and also with the diplomacy. President Trump doesn't trust who is around him. He doesn't take counsel about what is true and what's not true because if he did he wouldn't have to base his tweets on media reports largely from the right fringe groups, because he has got access to the best information in the world. No one has more access to truthiness than he does.

[08:05:00] And that also bleeds into our understanding of what is going to happen this week. What do we know about how much President Trump is relying on the homework, on the advisers to help him understand how to negotiate a real sticky wicket with Macron?

BADE: It's the same thing as every other topic, which is that of course he is going to get advice from all different corners and then he just does what he wants. With Macron I think it's particularly interesting because the president actually has a pretty good relationship with the French president, right. And that makes it a little different. If he likes somebody he might listen to them a little more. And Macron is going to be making a pitch to the president this week to keep the U.S. in Syria which is something the president personally has really not wanted to do. He has wanted to withdraw, he's wanted to walk back U.S. involvement in that country especially before the chemical weapons attack.

And Macron is also going to be making a pitch to the president to stay in the Iran nuclear deal which is something, again, the president doesn't want to do. So if he has that good rapport which apparently he does have with Macron, that can go a long way. Advisers will come and go as we have seen in this administration, but if the president likes someone that means something for him.

AVLON: That Iran deal piece is really critical because this is something Macron has stated, this is something the president has resisted on the campaign trail. His aides in the past have contained the president's impulse to ditch the Iran deal, but not true of John Bolton, the new national security adviser. Not true necessarily of Mike Pompeo.

And the Iran deal if the U.S. withdraws has real implications for any multilateral containment of North Korea. So that is one of the many reasons the self-imposed deadline of May 12th is coming down the barrel. So if Macron can convince him, that's the stakes really of the summit, that is a very high bar. And Macron also has shown something you don't see very often internationally, the ability to channel populist anger in a constructive direction, and that's a fascinating thing.

CUOMO: Easier sell, though, arguable, because the Iran deal you have partners. So if they don't get out the deal stays in place and what leverage does the U.S. really get. But Syria I think is going to be tougher for Macron. Macron believes in presence on the ground in Syria. President Trump, certainly citizen Trump and even campaigner Trump had no interest on that. He wanted us out. He criticized presidents for having any access in that area. What do you think the chances the French president says keep your guys there and the president says all right, I will for a while?

AVLON: I think it is very unlikely the president is going to change his position and impulses on Syria. But again, you have to weigh the alternatives. That's ceding the region to Russia and Iran. We certainly, for all the president's complicated relations with Russia, the idea of giving Iran more influence in the region can't appeal to him. But he instinctively opposed U.S. involvement in the Middle East and troops on the ground, that's a higher bar.

I think the tricky thing with North Korea is if we pull out of the deal we brokered under the Obama administration, what message does that send about the durability of American agreements on the world stage? That is a question of American leadership and has real implications for containing North Korea.

CAMEROTA: Then of course Rachael you just opposed all of that, all of the international implications happening at the same time that the president is feeling I guess under the cloud of the Russia investigation because he is tweeting about James Comey. So James Comey has been on the book tour, as you know, and then memos that he had handed off to his friend came out. And so here is what the president tweeted. "James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a special counsel, therefore the special counsel was establishment based on an illegal act? Really, does anybody know what that means?" And I know that you have reporting that he wants his allies on Capitol Hill and the White House to talk more about this. That's his message to them.

BADE: So this is one of the talking points you are going to hear a lot from Capitol Hill Republicans who are very much aligned with President Trump on this in saying that the Comey memos suggest that the special counsel doesn't need to be around. It is a small group of Republicans on the Hill. I will say most Republicans including Paul Ryan and GOP leadership, they still think the special counsel needs to be there. They don't see this as a witch hunt and they want them to continue to do his job. But again, this just shows President Trump wants this over with. He wants this done with, and he is going to attack it until he gets his wish, so just expect it to continue.

CUOMO: All right, Rachael Bade, John Avlon, thank you very much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have to get to some breaking baby news. Kensington Palace confirming that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has given birth to a, wait for it, baby boy. Let's get right to CNN's Max Foster live outside St. Mary's hospital. Very exciting, Max. What do we know?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: A bouncing baby boy, eight pounds, seven ounces, and was delivered around 11:00 local, so that was a couple of hours ago. There was a bit of a delay in the announcement because the family had to be told, the royal family and the Middletons of course. So there is some excitement here. They are some royal fans down the road all cheering to the news.

[08:10:02] There is some significance here because the rules were changed to take out the sexism in the line of succession. So if that hadn't happened this baby would actually be fourth in line to the throne and Charlotte would go down a notch. As it is, Charlotte, the older sister of this boy, will keep her position in the line of succession.

So the next we expect to appear is a formal notice on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace which will give those details and then we will see them appear there on the steps probably today. It does seem as though everything has gone as planned so they should be well enough to come out and appear. Everyone is very excited to see them appearing as well with George and Charlotte. So a family of five for the first time.

And check out the media that is will greet them. This is the sort of scene that they come out to which the likes you or I don't come out to when we show our babies to the world. But there you go. It really does give an indication of the sort of life this baby has going forward having to have this around them. It is quite extraordinary seeing them. Of course we are going ahead to the royal wedding next month, as well. So perhaps this will be the youngest guest there.

CAMEROTA: Max, that's excellent. Why do I have a feeling that is how many Cuomos were gathered in the waiting room for your baby's announcement. That must have looked like your waiting room.

CUOMO: We don't do royalty.


CUOMO: Although when the little man was born it was a big deal in our family.

CAMEROTA: That's what I figured.

CUOMO: So the president coming out swinging on Twitter, defending personal attorney Michael Cohen, slamming Mueller's Russia probe and former FBI director Jim Comey. Why? Why when there is so much on his plate, when he says it doesn't matter, why does he keep going back to that? Congressman Jim Jordan is going to talk about important business of the people and news of day next.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump very, very active on Twitter this weekend. A lot of negativity going after foes, media, critics, but the context matters here. We get that he is upset about the probe and blames us for it. He has a huge week. So why spend his energy that way?

Let's discuss this and other important topics with Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, co-founded the Freedom Caucus, serves on House Judiciary Committee. Always a pleasure.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good to see you.

CUOMO: Good to see you. So, what do you say -- of energy.

JORDAN: He's frustrated, and it is a big week, you're right, but I mean, think about it. It's been a year now. There is no evidence of any type coordination between Trump campaign and Russia. There are all kinds of evidence that Clinton campaign put together the dossier, worked with Fusion, that was used in the FISA court.

And then he gets his personal lawyer's door kicked in. So, there is frustration and you can't blame the president for speaking out against this stuff. A lot of Americans are frustrated, as well.

CUOMO: I will let the bait of the FISA court and all that stuff drift away because it is relevant to the president's own personal fave. If you were giving someone counsel on how to --

JORDAN: I don't know that it's irrelevant --

CUOMO: But it certainly has nothing to do with what is happening to him. You might say that should also get attention, but it doesn't change the math of what he is facing and how he is handling it. That's all I'm saying.

JORDAN: Well, I disagree.

CUOMO: OK, well, tell me how I'm wrong. How am I wrong that speculation about the Democrats and the dossier is irrelevant to what the president is doing?

JORDAN: Remember, this is all part of this whole investigation which is they show no type of any coordination between --

CUOMO: It's not over.

JORDAN: It's been a year.

CUOMO: People caught up in doing bad things.

JORDAN: They went to the court with this dossier and didn't tell the court who paid for it.

CUOMO: Not true.

JORDAN: Read the bullet point on that. Read the foot note on that. It is the most convoluted thing you've ever seen trying to figure out what they said. They didn't disclose another important thing that namely the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had relationship with FBI terminated because he leaked with the press.

CUOMO: That doesn't change the nature of the information. We now know from Comey that parts of the dossier had been corroborated. You guys always call it --

JORDAN: Someone went to Russia at some point in the past if that is corroboration of the entire document, that's a little --

CUOMO: No one said the entire document. Certain things were corroborated.

JORDAN: You go to any court, regular Americans have to tell the truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth. They didn't do that. The FBI went there. Think about this. The top people at the FBI, Chris, Comey has been fired. He has had a criminal referral.

Jim Baker has been demoted, reassigned. Peter Strzok has been demoted and reassigned. Lisa Page has been demoted. These are the top people. There were problems at the top of the FBI when they did this whole thing in front of the FISA court and that's what frustrates the president.

CUOMO: You guys used it. Certainly, the Republicans, the people who had always stood up for law enforcement when they were getting criticized often fairly by people like me in the media, but you stood up for them, but no more.

Lisa Page and Strzok got thrown out in part by Mueller because they were being inappropriate. You guys used it as a trampoline for this nonsense about a secret society and that they were out to get Trump.

JORDAN: I didn't say that.

CUOMO: One of your boys did. And you didn't come out and say, she shouldn't be saying this.

JORDAN: They should have been saying the things they were saying like the president shouldn't be president. He should have lost --

CUOMO: And you don't think that every government agency is filled with lefties and righties? We assume that they put that away when they do their job. The idea that the FBI -- the FBI is a lefty organization?

JORDAN: I'm not saying that. Peter Strzok, deputy head of counter intelligence, who ran the Clinton investigation --

CUOMO: He got thrown out by Mueller, a life-long Republican.

JORDAN: He still has clearance at the FBI right now.

CUOMO: Fine, but let's also look at what was done. Here is my concern. You're a man of good will, but when you put a presentation of why this is happening that is not in line with the facts and to jaundice the view of this being a fair probe got pushed back.

[08:20:05] McCabe, did he lie? They say yes in the IG report. They made a referral for him to be prosecuted -- but about what did he lie?

JORDAN: Same thing Michael Flynn did.

CUOMO: No way.

JORDAN: He lied to the FBI.

CUOMO: No, I'm saying what did. I'm saying what did he lie about. McCabe lied allegedly --

JORDAN: Personal gain.

CUOMO: About what?

JORDAN: About the Clinton Foundation investigation.

CUOMO: And saying that he wanted to go after it and was concerned that the DOJ wouldn't. What are you criticizing it for? He is going after exactly what you wanted him to.

JORDAN: But the statute is real clear. You can't lie to the FBI. He did it four times, three times under oath.

CUOMO: I know but what I'm saying is you guys are so selective in your outrage you want to go after McCabe. McCabe was trying to push to investigate Clinton which is what you say you wanted.

JORDAN: I didn't say that. I said the OPR, Office of Professional Responsibility, his colleagues, Michael Horowitz, are the ones who said he should be prosecuted. They are the one who said --

CUOMO: What I'm saying the substance of it matters what it was about. To frame McCabe as a bad guy because he got caught up leaking.

JORDAN: Personal interest above public interest and above the interest of the FBI.

CUOMO: Let me tell you something. When you have your friend going out and doing all kinds of manipulation and deception to the American people you weren't outraged, right? We weren't outraged about their behavior then because you were OK with the behavior. Here you don't like McCabe so you go after him even though he was fighting to do what you want him to do. That's ugly politics, Jim, ugly politics.

JORDAN: The day after the leak happens and Barrett writes a story in the "Wall Street Journal," he criticizes two other people in the FBI who had nothing to do with it in an effort to cover his tracks. If that's not skimming in low, I don't know what is.

Second, I call him like I see him. I criticized Comey in July of 2016 when he came out with this big press conference and I criticized him again in October --

CUOMO: Fair criticism.

JORDAN: I took heat from Republicans because I think James Comey has been wrong throughout this entire -- including today with his big --

CUOMO: The president fired him. That is why you have a special counsel. He did it because of dissatisfaction with the Russia probe. I know he's changed his story on that, but you also know that's disingenuous.

JORDAN: Trump's guy. I'm not saying who guy is -- I'm saying he wrote the memo to fire him. This is the classic definition of the swamp. This is what drive Americans crazy.

CUOMO: You are being a little swampy with this one, though.

JORDAN: Rosenstein writes the memo to fire Comey. Comey leaks another memo to the "New York Times" to create momentum for special counsel. Rosenstein hires the special counsel. What is one thing they are looking at? Whether there is obstruction of justice in the firing of Comey.

CUOMO: The president fired Comey. That is what triggered this. Let me ask you a political procedure question. Does Jim Jordan want to throw on a jacket and go for speaker of the House or no?

JORDAN: Look, Paul is the speaker. He said he will stay there for the rest of this Congress, which I think is a good thing. Then I have been encouraged by colleagues to look at that. I will seriously do that, but I think more important than who the speaker is next year is what Republicans do this year.

If we don't get focused on what we told the American people we were going to do, there may not be a race for speaker. Let's get focused on what we are supposed to do, and if we do that, I think we'll be in the majority --

CUOMO: Nobody wants to do anything ambitious between now and the midterms. Biggest deficits we have seen in a long time and under your party's stewardship.

JORDAN: And the process was terrible as well. We have 15 hours to look at a 2,232-page bill. We had one hour to debate it on the floor. We spent money on things we said we wouldn't. We didn't fund things we said we would. That is the kind of stuff that has to change in the future if we are going to stay in the majority and do those things the American people left for us to do.

CUOMO: Sounds like a compelling speech to be speaker. So, your hat is in the ring?

JORDAN: I will look at it very seriously.

CUOMO: Why can't you say yes? When the race opens up, I'll expect you to be in it. We look forward to you making the case for the American people.

JORDAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well, Jim Jordan -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You almost had him in a half Cuomo there.

CUOMO: Twisted like an overstuffed pretzel.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here. Thanks so much.

All right. There is the new memoir about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Journalist Amy Chozick opens up about covering Clinton through these two campaigns and what it did to her life. We'll talk about the book and her biggest regret. That's next.



CAMEROTA: For a decade, Journalist Amy Chozick covers Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions and now has a new memoir out called "Chasing Hillary, Ten Years Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling." Reflecting on her own life and ambitions and how they played out against Clinton's life and ambitions particularly the 2016 campaign.

Joining us now is "New York Times" writer-at-large, Amy Chozick. Amy, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: Wow, what a read.

CHOZICK: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: There is a lot of juicy tidbits in here and it is interesting to see how your life as all of our lives as reporters particularly in the field are affected by the subjects that we cover. You write in the book every major life decision in my 20s and 30s, when to get married, when to buy an apartment, whether to freeze my eggs until after the election have revolved around a single looming question, what about Hillary Clinton? Why was it so often assuming?

CHOZICK: I think, you know, my -- I think every woman has the duality of striving in my career and want to succeed but what about your personal life? Mine just happened to be tied to the woman who wants to become the first woman president.

But you know, I write in the book how much I struggled to get into journalism. This is not an easy path for me. I spent years in New York trying to get my foot in the door, literally dropping off my clips of publications where the securities were like leave me out of the building. So, when I got the job covering the --