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Spies Listen to Trumps Calls; New York Governor on Packages; Maryland Senator on Trump's Rhetoric; Trump Attacks Media; White House Defends Trump. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 25, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Early in his presidency where he shared classified information in the Oval Office with the Russians present.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: With the Russians.

SCIUTTO: Do we know that he has it, or we just don't know that he has shared classified information on those monitored calls?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We don't know because nobody's -- there's no note taker. Nobody's listening to these calls, I guess, except for the Chinese and Russians.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: We don't know.

ROSENBERG: But, like, look, the other issue here is the president doesn't really dig very deeply into his intelligence reports, into the details of covert operations or military operations. So how much he knows and could possibly share is also a pretty good question.

SCIUTTO: Matt Rosenberg, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Right. Thank you.

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

HARLOW: The day -- the day after the president calls for unity, he is now saying the media is responsible for the very big part of the anger in this country. We'll get lawmaker reaction on this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: We are following the latest in the investigations into these suspicious packages. Two more just in the last several hours. And a short while ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that these bombs were indeed capable of detonation.

[09:35:02] HARLOW: He joins us now.

Governor Cuomo, thank you for the time this morning, especially given how busy you and your team are in trying to get to the bottom of this. What is your greatest concern this morning, and do you expect

additional targets?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Greatest concern, obviously, Poppy, and thank you for having me, and, Jim, thank you for having me.

Greatest concern would be God forbid one of the bombs goes off. A concern also that whoever is sending these devices or the group of people sending these devices, I'm worried they're getting the desired effect, which could actually feed them and feed them sending more packages.

The good news, the light at the end of the tunnel is the more packages that they send, the more likely that we'll find them faster, right? Every package there is fingerprints, there's a possibility of DNA. There's more and more evidence on every package.

Their intent is to create fear. We're working against that. That's always the intent of the terrorists. We have additional police presence, which you'll see all throughout New York state, just to give people more confidence.

But I think the fear is, they're having a desired intent, which may be just to intimidate, and that will fuel them to do more.

HARLOW: Yes.

CUOMO: But I would expect more. And that's why we're working with the U.S. Post Service, private mail facilities to be on guard and to be alert.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, Governor Cuomo, because one of the confusing details here is that some of the packages appear not to have a postmark on them. They've got postage, but it's not clear that they were -- that they were stamped and went through the postal system. And we were given some indication of the possibility that these might have been either couriered -- or at least some of them couriered or hand delivered. What is the latest? And that, of course, key because then perhaps there would be footage of a person dropping one of these packages off.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: What can you tell us?

CUOMO: Well, that's one of the main pieces of the investigation, Jim. It appears that some of the packages were quote/unquote couriered. They were dropped off. These are residences that have multiple video cameras, security cameras. So the video, the security camera footage, is being analyzed right now to see what we can find out because that is one of the major leads that they're following. And again, every package more possibilities for DNA, more possibilities for fingerprints, et cetera. But, yes, I do suspect there will be more. When the first package

happened with Mr. George Soros, I held my breath and I hoped that it was a one-off situation. That was quickly dispelled. At 1:00 in the morning, I got a call from the state police that said the Clinton residence had received a package.

HARLOW: Right.

CUOMO: And then, frankly, I knew we were off to the races, right, because if there's one, and there's two and then there's three. And now it's gotten so much attention. And there's a theory that the bombs were not intended to explode but were intended to intimidate. If that is the intent, then this is having the desired intent.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: But --

CUOMO: And it could actually be fueling the group that's doing it.

HARLOW: But as you noted, and our reporting this morning, look, this --

CUOMO: And the larger --

HARLOW: Go ahead, governor.

CUOMO: The larger conversation we're going to have when this is all over is, we have to get back to a point where you can have political debate without political violence. I mean I'm in a state where I have a Republican senate, I have a Democratic assembly. We've handled very heated bills. We passed marriage equality, which is marriage for same sex couples. It was very hot and very divisive. But there wasn't violence.

And, you know, we have to get back to the point where we remember, we're not Democrats and Republicans, we're Americans.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CUOMO: This is not red versus blue, it's red, white and blue. The day after the election, we are one nation and we live together and we work together. And it is the civic discourse that has gotten so hot and so nasty and so mean. And leaders have to remember what it means to lead. I am the governor of all New Yorkers, not Democratic New Yorkers or Republican New Yorkers, all New Yorkers. And leaders have to remember that.

HARLOW: I would just say, Governor Cuomo, what Jim and I and our entire CNN family experienced on the streets of New York yesterday, continuing our broadcast, was that. It was red, white and blue. It was the best of America and the best of New Yorkers. And perhaps there's a lesson for the top and what we saw yesterday.

[09:40:13] SCIUTTO: And the legendary New York calm as well, right?

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I mean that was out there, too, from police, right on down to every person we ran into in the streets.

Governor Cuomo, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony. Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. You have to --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, you heard the president there again saying false attacks and stories. That's not what we do. We cover the facts. We showed that yesterday. We're going to continue to show that.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now is Senator Chris Van Hollen. He's a Democrat from the state of Maryland.

Senator, thanks very much for taking the time.

I want your reaction, if I can. You see how quickly the president had what seemed to be a scripted moment yesterday during his rally, at first decrying the quality of the public discourse here and saying we all have to get along, before he turned very quickly to the media is -- publishes a lot of fake news. That's part of the reason for the anger. He doubled down on that this morning. What's your reaction to that?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Jim and Poppy, it's good to be with you in these difficult times.

And let me first embrace and endorse the comments that Governor Cuomo made, which is, this is a time when we all do have to work together as Americans. And for a fleeting moment at the White House yesterday, that's what the president said. But by yesterday evening, as you pointed out, he was at a rally blaming everybody else but himself for this toxic, political environment we find ourselves in. Again going after the press and, of course he's called the press the enemy of the people. He has worked to divide this country from the very beginning of his presidency and has really flamed a lot of anger by calling out people in very personal and nasty terms.

So I would have hoped that last night at the rally he said what he said at the White House, but a few hours apparently changed that.

HARLOW: Senator, can I ask you what you think the responsibility is from all makers -- all lawmakers, rather, in both parties, because there is this, and I am not equating them, but it is important to also note some of the rhetoric from the Democratic side that has been used. Maxine Waters, harass them. Eric Holder, this Democratic Party, kick them. He said he didn't actually mean kick them, but be tough. Is that helpful and would you like to see the rhetoric toned down across the board?

VAN HOLLEN: Look, Poppy, everybody needs to do their part here. But as you pointed out earlier, when the president went to the rally last night, he didn't do his part. He pointed the finger at other people. And my view is, all of us have to, you know, be part of the solution here. But there's no doubt that over the last two years what has been driving this poisonous political environment have been these very polarizing comments from the president of the United States. And we have seen its impact across the board over the last couple of years.

So, look, we can always hope that the president will tone it down. But, you know, a lot of people have been saying that -- have been hoping that for a very long time, and we haven't really seen it happen.

Meanwhile, of course, you know, many of us are trying to focus on issues that are really front and center for the American people. The issues that people wake up every morning thinking about, the economy, the security of their health care, those are -- those are the issues that people are trying to talk about in states throughout this country right now.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: We're, of course, coming up on a key crucial midterm election. Very hotly contested. I wonder if you're concerned about how either side will take the results of that election, a loss -- a loss of the House, say, by the Republicans. Will there be an angry response? Or a disappointing failure to retake the house by the Democrats.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: In light of all that you see Americans investing in these midterms -- midterm elections in this already toxic environment.

[09:45:03] VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, everybody needs to respect the outcome of the elections, whatever that outcome is. And we don't know what it is today.

I would say that as we are talking here, you see very active efforts in a number of states like Georgia, like North Dakota where Republican state legislators and state lawmakers have actually tried to prevent a lot of voters from being able to exercise their right to vote. We have been following the voter registration issue down in Georgia, as you know. In North Dakota, the state legislature changed the law in an attempt to disenfranchise Native Americans. So right now we're all focused on trying to make sure that every American who wants to cast a vote in this election can exercise that right to vote.

But, yes, of course, at the end of the day, everyone needs to respect the results.

HARLOW: Senator Chris Van Hollen, we appreciate your time today with us. Thank you.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.

HARLOW: So, coming up in the next hour, we are going to be joined by Republican Senator Ben Sasse and also Republican governor of Ohio, john Kasich. We'll get their take on all of this and also the president's remarks and repeated attacks on the media.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much.

New reaction just moments ago from Attorney General Jeff Session. This during an event at the Justice Department. Sessions addressing the suspicious packages, in fact, the explosive devices found over the last several days. Have a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The administration, we condemn the actions that led --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:06] HARLOW: All right, this morning, a very rear conversation, an important one, is happening across the country, not only about political rhetoric and its real-world consequences, but also about the role of journalists and the media.

SCIUTTO: In the wake of these pipe bombs targeting Trump critics, as well as this network, the president is now blaming the media for the anger behind this, and society, saying, in part, it's caused what he calls -- caused by, rather, purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media, which every time I hear that phrase I will just fact check and say, false. We report the news and we do our best to every day.

Here with us now is CNN business media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

You know, the blame conversation, it -- first of all, the turn. How long did it take after the moment yesterday, as we streamed out onto the streets here under police protection --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SCIUTTO: With a functioning explosive device in this building, did the conversation from the president and his supporters turn to, there goes the liberal media again? STELTER: Yes, they're actually playing the victim card, engaging in

victimhood politics, saying that because people are talking about how Trump's rhetoric is a problem, that somehow he's being blamed for these bombs, and, as a result, he's the victim of this.

Look, it's nonsense. What I'm wondering, Jim and Poppy, is, where is the president? Where is the president today? Because that guy on Twitter, that's a Fox News host.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

STELTER: That guy rallying against the media, that's a Fox News host. That's not the president.

HARLOW: So, Brian --

STELTER: The president hasn't shown leadership in the last few hours. He did say some nice things yesterday, but then he turned around and went against the media again.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: So, Brian, sorry to jump in, but we just have some sound from the White House that I want to get our viewers to this morning.

SCIUTTO: Addressing these questions.

HARLOW: Addressing exactly that.

Our Abby Phillip was able to catch up with Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman.

So what did she say?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy.

So we spoke to Sarah Sanders about that exact question today, specifically asking her about something the president said last night. He said that people should stop calling their political opponents morally deficient. But, as we know, President Trump has done exactly that, calling his political opponents evil.

Here's what Sarah Sanders had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: But do you believe that the president bears any responsibility for what we've seen over the past two days and does he regret any of the comments that he's made about his opponents, or does he at least regret the tone that he's taken with some of them?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the president's condemned violence in all forms, has done that since day one, will continue to do that, but certainly feels that everyone has a role to play.

QUESTION: He's calling for peace and harmony and a civil tone. Is he going to stop insulting his political opponents at his rallies. He called Maxine Waters low IQ. He's called Joe Biden someone pulled off a trash heap. He's said Hillary Clinton is crooked Hillary. Is he going to stop insulting the people who received these bombs?

SANDERS: Look, the president's going to continue to lay out the contrast between Democrats and Republicans --

QUESTION: No, I asked the question, is he going to continue insulting them?

SANDERS: And if you'll let me finish, I'll answer it for you, but I'd like to finish my sentence. The president is going to continue to lay out the case and the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Americans have a choice to make and he's going to lay that out and you're going to see him do that over the next 12 days.

QUESTION: Is he going to stop the insults, Sarah? Is he going to stop the insults?

PHILLIP: He also said last night that people need to stop criticizing their opponents as morally deficient. A few weeks ago he said that Democrats who opposed Kavanaugh were evil. Does he regret that statement?

SANDERS: The president feels like we should call out despicable acts, which is exactly what he has done over the last 24 hours. The idea that --

PHILLIP: But is evil a way to describe people in the political sphere?

SANDERS: I'm sorry.

PHILLIP: Is evil an appropriate way to describe people in the political sphere?

SANDERS: It's a word that people have used on your network a number of times, not only to describe the president, but many people that work in this administration.

PHILLIP: (INAUDIBLE)?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Day in, day out, there is a negative tone. Ninety percent of the media attention around this president is negative, despite historic job creation, despite the fact our economy is booming, despite the fact that trade deals that everybody said couldn't be made have been made, despite the fact that the president is trying to install law and order at our border and protect the security of Americans from the East Coast to the West Coast, north and south. You guys continue to focus only on the negative. And that is -- there is a role to play.

[09:55:14] Yesterday, the very first thing that the president did was come out and condemn the violence. The very first thing your network did was come out and accuse the president of being responsible for it. That is not OK. The first thing should have been to condemn the violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: OK. That's not true.

SCIUTTO: What the press secretary of the White House just said there is not true. That's not the first thing we did as this happened. We reported the news, in fact. And Poppy and I can attest to that because we were on the air live reporting the news as it happened.

We're going to have a moment to digest a lot of charges coming from Sarah Sanders there.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: We're going to be right back after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)