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Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) On Speaker Pelosi's Release Of Guidance To Democratic Caucus On Mueller Testimony; Foul Play Suspected In Ole Miss Student's Death; The Mystery Surrounding Robert Mueller Intensifies. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 23, 2019 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00] REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): -- do a dramatic reading.

But I do think it's -- you know, again, there's a -- one of my colleagues said it best. There's a difference between reading the book and seeing the movie, and part of the objective here is that Bob Mueller bring this thing to life.

And it's important for reasons far beyond what you think of Donald Trump. It's important because Americans need to understand how they were manipulated on social media. We need to understand how network vulnerabilities can lead a country to damage our democracy.

And enough Americans sort of haven't learned the lesson that is in volume one. So I think whatever you think of the politics, there's some real lessons in what happens tomorrow.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Have you seen this memo from Nancy Pelosi? It is literally hot off the presses -- it's hot in my hands. It just came out and it is her guidance for House Democrats, like yourself, of how you are supposed to talk about this before the hearings and after.

Have you seen this?

HIMES: I haven't seen that yet. I've heard -- I've heard about it but --

CAMEROTA: You might want to take a little gander at this since this is her recommendation to you.

And I think what she's trying to tell you is that everybody has to be on the same page, before and after this, about what you hope to get out of -- what comes out of this because you all don't see this as the end. Whatever happens tomorrow, you don't see this as the end.

So, what are the next plans for where you all move after what Mueller says?

HIMES: Well, so we've got -- I haven't read this document here.

But again, I think the big message to come out of this whole event -- and let's stipulate that it wasn't criminal. We trust Mueller's judgment in that regard, although there's certainly some unanswered questions.

The Russians offered a lot of help and the Trump campaign said bring it on, and then they used that help. Look, you should form your own judgment about what you think that means about Donald Trump and his people.

And you might even, if you're a Donald Trump supporter, say what if it had been Barack Obama who had welcomed Russian help? How would you have responded to that?

But look, we've got larger challenges, right? We've got continuing work to do on fully understanding the counterintelligence aspects of this report. To my way of thinking, I'm not satisfied that we've done enough to really understand exactly how the Russians did that. We've got work to do there.

By the way, we've got work to do in this country -- those of us who would like to see a different president -- in making sure that we're balanced. I don't know that a whole lot of people are going to change their opinion of Donald Trump and the Trump administration tomorrow.

So we've got to remember that we've got other messages and other things that we need to do, including addressing the anxieties of Americans at the kitchen table around health care, around educating their kids, around retirement. So we've got to run a careful balance between what it is that we do in the 18 months leading up to the election.

CAMEROTA: Well, Congressman Jim Himes, I know you're racing to catch a train to D.C. -- so are we. We're going to be in D.C. All of NEW DAY will be there tomorrow to cover all this and we'll be watching closely.

HIMES: Excellent -- thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

HIMES: Good to see you.

CAMEROTA: David.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, thanks.

International intrigue, leaked documents, psychological warfare, and your cell phone. What do all these things have to do with each other? A very important reality check coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:37:23] GREGORY: On the reality check this morning -- so what do China's President Xi, North Korea's Kim Jong Un, and Vladimir Putin all have to do with your cell phone? The answer is much more --

CAMEROTA: It's intriguing.

GREGORY: Yes, and it's much more than they should is the answer. John Avlon joins us now with the reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys.

Look, life is a struggle between the urgent and the important.

And you've probably heard debates about the revolutionary 5G or Fifth Generation wireless technology and the national security risks posed by one of its biggest developers, Chinese telecom giant, Huawei. But it's probably taken a back seat in your mind to more urgent concerns in our frantic "insane is the new normal" news cycle. It shouldn't because the stakes really couldn't be higher.

Now, 5G promises to make current data speeds look like dial-up, powering everything in the future from your smart phone to your self- driving car. It's going to be the new foundation for digital society.

But this massive upgrade comes with a lot of international intrigue featuring all the usual suspects -- Trump, Putin, Xi -- even North Korea's Kim Jong Un. That's because whoever controls 5G pretty much end up controlling the world.

Right now, China seems to be in pole position. The latest sign of Huawei's possible conflicts with the rule of law came out Monday when "The Washington Post" reported that it's helping North Korea build out its own basic wireless network. Now, that would be a violation of boatloads of sanctions.

And in a sign they're trying to cover their tracks, the company kept referring to North Korea only as A9 in internal documents. Huawei denies all of this, but if they did it, it would just be the latest in a string of bad acts.

That's why the Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese tech firm back in May, forbidding U.S. companies from working with it, cutting access to U.S. software and components it needs, and setting in motion plans to remove Huawei technology from U.S. government systems over credible fears that Huawei could funnel U.S. data directly to Beijing. This is not a crazy idea given that the Chinese government keeps its hooks in all Chinese businesses.

Now, team Trump was applauded for taking this strong stand in many quarters but last month, the president abruptly reversed course -- a move so striking even Huawei, itself, called it a U-turn. Now, it could be a sign that Trump wants to use Huawei as a bargaining chip in his ongoing trade war with Beijing but that would be a big mistake because the stakes are much higher than soybean prices.

"The Hill" was even more succinct than Huawei, calling Trump's reversal the, quote, "rope that could hang America."

And if you're still not convinced this is worth watching closely, consider this. Huawei is already hard at work building out the first 5G network for -- wait for it -- Russia.

And in typical Kremlin style, you've got to appreciate Putin's disinformation campaigns trashing 5G. That's right -- his own English language propaganda arm, RT America, has been telling Americans for months now that 5G technology could kill us all, leading to everything from nose bleeds to cancer.

[07:40:00] Meanwhile, back at home, Putin's pushing the pedal to the metal on 5G technology in an effort to beat us to it, using Chinese technology.

Now, the president's response to the news that Huawei may have helped North Korea was pretty tepid by Trumpian standards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we'll have to find out because Silcone -- Silicon Valley cannot be competed with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Fine, but make no mistake, this is a very big deal. Just imagine a world where a hostile foreign government could cripple everything from the nation's electric grids right down to your car.

This should be more than just a bargaining chip in a trade war. America needs to develop its own safe, secure solution to 5G or risk falling behind -- or much worse.

And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: John, that is really fascinating.

GREGORY: Very interesting.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for explaining all of that.

And we should mention that our parent company, AT&T, has a vested interest in all of this. It launched the nation's first 5G service back in December.

GREGORY: A college student mysteriously found dead in Mississippi. What police know, so far, about what happened to her. That story is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:45:10] CAMEROTA: Foul play is suspected in the death of a student at Ole Miss. Deputies found the body of 21-year-old Alexandria Kostial near a lake in northern Mississippi on Saturday about 30 miles from the campus.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins us now with more. What do we know, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is not a whole lot more that is known. In fact, it's clear that authorities could use help on this, so if anyone knows anything about this case they should contact Oxford police.

She is a 21-year-old University of Mississippi student. She was working on a bachelor degree to marketing.

And it was deputies that, on Saturday morning, were doing a routine patrol at a nearby lake -- it's called Sardis Lake -- it's about 10 miles from campus -- when they discovered her body. They have not revealed how she died but as you've already said, authorities believe that foul play is suspect here.

A family is in mourning, a campus is in mourning. The University put out a statement that just basically said that "Ally was a valued member of our campus community. We extend our deepest sympathies to her, her family, and her friends."

One classmate -- one friend described her as "Absolutely the nicest human being that I have ever met."

But we don't know if she was missing. We don't know the last time she was seen. We only know that where she was discovered is a popular fishing site. And yet, no one seems to have seen anything and authorities are investigating.

But right now, her death is both a loss for the community, for the campus, and most especially, for her family -- David.

GREGORY: Martin, thank you very much. Hopefully, people will be able to step forward with some more information. We appreciate that report very much.

Robert Mueller, of course, may be a household name but he still remains something of a mystery to many. We're going to take a closer look when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:51:00] CAMEROTA: The Russia investigation is just one defining chapter in former special counsel Robert Mueller's illustrious career. As he gets ready to testify tomorrow, the mystery intensifies about who he is and what he'll say.

So, CNN's Gloria Borger is going to take a closer look at Robert Mueller through people who have worked alongside of him -- watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): After two years leading the Russia investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller has written a 448-page report and has spoken just once for nine minutes.

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

BORGER (voice-over): The president was not pleased.

TRUMP: I think Mueller is a true never-Trumper. He's somebody that dislikes Donald Trump.

BORGER (voice-over): As Mueller takes the hot seat before Congress he remains a mystery man, perhaps the most private public figure in Washington and a political pinata.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): He should never have been appointed and he should never have accepted.

BORGER (voice-over): It's hard to remember that at the start --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think he's the right guy at the right time.

BORGER (voice-over): -- Mueller was a bipartisan favorite.

ROBERT RAY, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL DURING BILL CLINTON INVESTIGATION: He would have been on anybody's list of, let's say, the top five people in the country to have, you know, taken on this kind of a responsibility.

BORGER (voice-over): The resume is long. At 74, he's been involved for decades in some of the Justice Department's most celebrated cases -- mobster John Gotti, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega --

MUELLER: The wreckage of Pan Am 103 fell.

BORGER (voice-over): -- and the Pan Am 103 bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, a case that still remains personal.

MUELLER: I'll never forget the visit I made to Lockerbie where I saw the small wooden warehouse in which was stored the various effects of your loved ones -- a white sneaker, a Syracuse sweatshirt, Christmas presents, and photographs.

GARETT GRAFF, AUTHOR, "THE THREAT MATRIX": He's been, effectively, the same Bob Mueller in every place he has ever worked, whether that was the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco in the 1970s, whether that was the George H.W. Bush administration in the 1980s, whether that was the D.C. homicide prosecutor's office in the 1990s, or the FBI in the 2000s.

He is hard-driving, he's tenacious. He is incredibly thorough and has a very strong sense of right or wrong.

BORGER (voice-over): A registered Republican, but it's hard to tell.

PHIL MUDD, FORMER SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER, FBI: In 4 1/2 years of, whatever, 2,000 meetings, I didn't hear him say anything political.

BORGER (on camera): How would you describe his politics?

LISA MONACO, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR ROBERT MUELLER: Not.

BORGER (on camera): As in there are none?

MONACO: He's not -- he's apolitical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

BORDER (voice-over): Which is partly why President Bush picked him to run the FBI in 2001.

GEORGE W. BUSH (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FBI must remain independent of politics and uncompromising in its mission.

BORGER (voice-over): Mueller arrived at the FBI just seven days before 9/11. He served most of his term under Bush. And when President Obama asked him to stay for two more years it required an act of Congress. The Senate approved 100 to zero.

His M.O., a by-the-books guys, even after hours.

MUDD: People tell me after the Christmas party -- I mean, well, we're going to the director's house, a guy who never really interacts with us.

And at the end of the party that he would flick the lights. So it's going 7:00 to 9:00. At 9:03, he's like, well, it's on the invitation, it's 7:00 to 9:00. It's 9:03 -- lights on. That's kind of a signal.

MONACO: He was in the office between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning and he would always plop his briefcase down on the chair opposite my desk, not sit down and kibbitz or shoot the breeze. Immediately, what's happening? What's going on?

[07:55:00] MUDD: I never saw insecurity or nervousness, ever, ever.

BORGER (on camera): Ever? Never?

MUDD: Never.

There was not a lot of back-and-forth. Very quickly, you're going to go through the details of the case. What's going on today? What do you got, what do you got, what do you got?

I don't want to hear a lot of noise, I want to hear what the facts are. Let's talk about it.

What's your judgment? What do you think? OK.

Next, here's our decision. Let's move on. Let's go.

BORGER (voice-over): Showing up at the special counsel's nondescript office at the same early time every day, always avoiding the spotlight, so much so that spotting Mueller anywhere became a bit of a Washington parlor game.

Mueller grew up in the wealthy Philadelphia suburbs and attended an elite boarding school, a classmate of John Kerry. Then, to Princeton.

But the combat death of college friend David Hackett in Vietnam inspired Mueller to join the Marines.

GRAFF: He was wounded in combat, shot through the leg. Received a bronze star with valor, Purple Heart, and was right back in the fight a couple of weeks later.

MUELLER: In some sense, you feel that you have been given a second lease on life and you want to make the most of it to contribute in some way.

BORGER (voice-over): After graduating the University of Virginia Law School, Mueller soon found his way to the Department of Justice and remained there for most of the next four decades --

MUELLER: My colleagues here at the Department of Justice, past and present --

BORGER (voice-over): -- with two short breaks to give private practice a try.

GRAFF: Bob Mueller has been notoriously unhappy every time he has tried to be in private practice. He just can't defend guilty people. He'll meet with a client, they'll explain his problem, and he'll say, well, it sounds like you should go to jail then.

BORGER (on camera): (Laughing).

GRAFF: You know, that --

BORGER (on camera): So he'll tell his client --

GRAFF: It sounds like you're guilty.

Bob Mueller is someone who sees the world in very black and white terms.

BORGER (on camera): By 2004, Mueller was running the FBI when his phone rang. It was James Comey, then-deputy Attorney General. It was the first time Mueller and Comey would find themselves in a very controversial legal drama.

JAMES COMEY, THEN-DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: I was very upset. I was angry.

BORGER (voice-over): Comey was worried the Bush administration was determined to keep a warrantless eavesdropping program that Mueller, Comey, and their boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, thought was illegal. But, Ashcroft was in the hospital recovering from surgery, leaving Comey in charge.

COMEY: I was concerned that given how ill I knew the attorney general was that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that. I called Dir. Mueller and he said I'll meet you at the hospital right now.

BORGER (voice-over): They had to race administration officials to Ashcroft's bedside. COMEY: Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances.

BORGER (voice-over): In the end, Ashcroft backed Comey and Mueller.

GRAFF: He enlisted Bob Mueller because he knew that Bob Mueller had this incredible nonpartisan reputation in Washington.

BORGER (voice-over): Now, Trump used Mueller's relationship with suspicion.

TRUMP: His best friend is Comey, who is a bad cop.

BORGER (voice-over): Mueller loyalists deny it, but it's all going to become part of a tug-of-war as Congress demands answers and Mueller remains the reluctant witness --

MUELLER: I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner.

BORGER (voice-over): -- pledging to stick to his report.

MUELLER: We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREGORY: Well, that won't be the final word. We are just 24 hours away from Robert Mueller's congressional testimony.

How the Justice Department is trying to limit what he will say is something that we'll take up as NEW DAY continues, right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A letter from the Justice Department seems to be a warning to Robert Mueller that they do not want any surprises.

REP. MARK WALKER (R-NC): Mueller, unlike Comey, is someone that may stick to the script as opposed to seeking the spotlight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't the first witness they've attempted to intimidate. It's just the one who has the most credibility.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Mueller, himself, has said his report is his testimony. That ought to be accepted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His special stature and credibility make it more likely than not that a large audience is going to be listening very carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, July 23rd, 8:00 in the East.

John Berman is off this morning. David Gregory joins me. It's a very big morning as we head towards tomorrow --

GREGORY: That's right.

CAMEROTA: -- the bigger morning.

GREGORY: That's right.

CAMEROTA: OK. The Justice Department is now trying to limit what Robert Mueller can talk about when he testifies tomorrow before two House committees. The former special counsel has been warned in a letter to remain within the boundaries of his written report.

Democrats want to ask questions like.

END