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Page Calls Trump's Attacks Sickening; Trump Heads to NATO Summit; NATO Summit in London. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 2, 2019 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, new this morning, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page breaking her silence. As you know, she has been the target of repeated attacks by President Trump after text messages between her and former FBI Agent Peter Strzok revealed a mutual dislike of candidate Donald Trump.

Lisa Page says it was this shocking moment at one of President Trump's rallies that was her breaking point.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love you, Peter. I love you, too, Lisa. Lisa, I love you. Lisa. Lisa. Oh, God, I love you, Lisa.

And if she doesn't win, Lisa, we've got an insurance policy, Lisa.


CAMEROTA: Page is speaking out in an exclusive interview with "The Daily Beast."

Joining us now is their executive editor Noah Shachtman.

Noah, playing that moment again is such a shock to the senses of people who are not involved. How -- I can only imagine how Lisa Page felt when she heard that.

What did she hear with "The Daily Beast"?

NOAH SHACHTMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yes, I mean she was horrified. She called it the straw that broke the camel's back.

Remember, she had been for years kind of under this drip, drip, drip assault from the Trump administration. Trump would keep on tweeting about her in this derogatory way. And then also kind of incredibly the DOJ released text messages showing that she had had an affair with a colleague. It was totally out of bounds of the thing they were supposedly investigating about her. And instead it just served to kind of embarrass her and it eventually turned into a moment like that. CAMEROTA: She also shared with you that she believes that those text

messages were cherry picked to sort of put her in the worst light. Here's a portion of her interview with you.

And of course you know those texts were selected for their political impact. They lack a lot of context. Many of them are not even about me -- him or me. We're not given an opportunity to provide any context. A lot of those texts we were talking about other people like our family members or articles we had sent each other.


CAMEROTA: What did she tell you about what her life has been like these past three years?

SHACHTMAN: Well, to be clear, she did the interview with --

CAMEROTA: Not with you, with "The Daily" -- I mean "The Daily Beast." Sorry.

SHACHTMAN: Yes. And with Molly Jong-Fast, who's our great columnist.

Look, she said it's been crazy to see your life kind of turned into this cartoon character. To be turned into this caricature. And it was incredibly stressful on her marriage and on her family and on her life and not knowing if when she walked down the street, if she saw someone in a -- a red baseball hat, if they were looking at her, you know, because Trump had targeted her. It was a -- it was a life of paranoia and it was a life of extreme pressure. And I think she's now starting to relieve some of that pressure by speaking out.

CAMEROTA: She also knows that the IG report is coming out next week. And that is a look into the origins of the Russia investigation. She plays prominently in that. And it seems to be her impression that she will fare well in that.

SHACHTMAN: Yes, well, look, I mean she believes that she's done nothing wrong. The early press reports based on leaks off of that inspector general's report seem to back her up, that -- that while she may have sent some texts that didn't look great, that, you know, basically the foundations of the investigation were solid.


And that the conduct of the investigation was in the main basically fine.

CAMEROTA: I mean what she points out, and I think that this bears repeating, is that she is a lawyer. She was the FBI lawyer. She knew what the law was. And so in the text messages, she's exchanging text messages with a colleague and someone that she is closely connected to. And they're sharing their feelings. But there's nothing about sharing your feelings that breaks the law.

SHACHTMAN: No, there's not. Or even a sort of ethical code of conduct, right? If you imagine FBI lawyers and agents on a different kind of case, on a mob case, on a public corruption case, and kind of psyching themselves up about how important this case is or what they're going to do to their target, that kind of stuff happens all the time. So the idea that somehow a couple of texts that displayed some points of view about Donald Trump and his relationship or possible relationship to the Russian government, you know, that -- some of that's really to be expected.

CAMEROTA: I'm guessing that a lot of people share personal feelings via text. I mean, I wouldn't know but I'm just guessing that a lot of people share personal feelings.


CAMEROTA: And so what has happened to her life now? I mean, you know, because of President Trump, he's made such a huge issue of the fact that she had this extramarital affair. She has young kids.


CAMEROTA: I believe she's still married.


CAMEROTA: And so what is her life like now?

SHACHTMAN: Yes. I mean, I don't think we got into as many details as maybe subsequent interviews might. But I think some of this was just telling the story going backwards.

But, as I mentioned before, it's been really difficult for her to be under attack. And, you know, look, she's not the only one, right? You've seen in instance after instance Donald Trump going after sort of career members of the U.S. government, people that basically were in the background. And more often than not, those have been female members of the government. He seems to attack them a lot more than he attacks the men for reasons why I'm really not sure.

CAMEROTA: Well, kudos to "The Daily Beast" for getting that. It was really interesting to hear from Lisa Page for the first time.


CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Noah, for being here.


SCIUTTO: Fascinating indeed.

Well, President Trump is about to leave for London to attend the NATO summit. He is expected to take credit for growing defense spending by Europe. But there are growing cracks, as well, in the alliance, to the advantage notably of Russia. We'll have a live report from London next.



CAMEROTA: It's a busy morning here.

In the next hour, President Trump and the first lady will head to London.

SCIUTTO: The president's going to be attending a summit commemorating the 70th anniversary of NATO, an organization some believe now struggling to maintain unity in the Trump era. Trump himself has often expressed doubts about the need for it.

CNN's international diplomat editor, Nic Robertson, he is live in London with more.

There's been a lot of talk, Nick, leading up to this about splitting the costs more widely. Is that going to be the headline from this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's certainly going to be the sort of headline out of the gate, I think. You know, President Trump and the White House are calling this a spectacular success that NATO is now saying that they're spending $130 billion a year more on defense than they were in 2016, that the number of countries contributing the 2 percent of GDP on defense spending is up from three to nine. This is what President Trump's been calling for.

But there are differences. Differences of opinion over China and 5G communications networks. And the list goes on.


ROBERTSON (voice over): Likely, the most pressing issue in London will be Turkey. Its populous president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, purchased the sophisticated Russian S-400 air defense system. And now toys with the idea of buying Russian fighter jets, too. Both buys from outside the alliance. A no-no for NATO.

But don't expect public fireworks. Tensions with Turkey are not new. Neither is the solution. NATO better off with Turkey on the inside. But with that comes danger warns long-time NATO expert Jonathan Eyal.

JONATHAN EYAL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: The problem that we have is that we are used to the game of -- of Mr. Erdogan. What we are not -- what we do not know is what the limits are and the dangers always is that someone will overstep the mark.

ROBERTSON: And then France. Never an easy relationship within the alliance. Macron doesn't speak for Europe, but tries to. Recently pushing the idea the alliance's past fit for purpose and Trump is part of the problem.

EYAL: There's no question that on -- in general Trump's statements were distinctly unhelpful and have shaken the alliance to the core. The Brits lead the camp that say that Trump is a temporary phenomenon and will go away. The French lead the other camp.

ROBERTSON: One person in particular will be happy for any dissent in London, Vladimir Putin.


Russia is weaker than NATO and feels threatened. Responding to his provocations is yet another challenge.

EYAL: NATO has a challenge to try to suggest how, in a world like this, it still has the answers.

ROBERTSON: A good outcome in London would be nailing differences behind closed doors. But with Trump in the room, that's not going to be easy.


ROBERTSON: Yes, no doubt President Trump really is the most unpredictable president, U.S. president, that NATO has had to deal with. And according to one source I've spoken to, with President Trump in the room, no one can really be sure if NATO is one whim away from a wipeout, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No -- and there have been general questions about whether he might withdrawal if he were re-elected.

Nic Robertson, great to have you there.

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, facing a big election next week. So why is he avoiding a one-on-one meeting with President Trump? We'll discuss, next.



SCIUTTO: President Trump will be back on the world stage at the NATO summit in London as Washington will be consumed by the impeachment inquiry this week. There are tensions at home and abroad for the president. Just days ago he announced funding cuts to NATO. Other NATO leaders are facing their own struggles.

Let's get to the bottom line with CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser.

Susan, good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: A line in an op-ed by my colleague, Nic Robertson, caught my attention because I thought he kind of hit the nail on the head here. He said that the elephant in the room as NATO leaders gather in a luxury hotel just outside the U.K. capital this week will be how to manage Trump. A good outcome in London would be nailing NATO's differences behind closed doors. But with Trump in the room, that's not going to be easy.

In a way, silence is victory. Silence from Trump, that is, for NATO. GLASSER: Well, that's right. Donald Trump has been the biggest policy

challenge for NATO over the last few years, which, of course, is a dramatic reversal. The United States has been essentially the leader of the NATO for the last seven decades since its creation.

By the way, it's not even called a summit, in part as a way of managing Donald Trump. They didn't want him to disrupt the actual anniversary this spring. So this is a NATO leaders meeting, rather than an annual summit. It comes months after the actual anniversary. Even the symbolic budget cuts that the United States is making to NATO's overhead budget, which is not that big, so that it can now be on par with Germany.

In the past, that would have been seen as, you know, the United States shirking its leadership role, a role that it wanted to take. Now, Donald Trump is, as you know, obsessed with the symbolic attributes of NATO and, you know, I think it's really -- I spoke with one NATO very senior official of a NATO ally who was just looking forward to this with absolute dread because Trump has been so disruptive in all the previous meetings.

SCIUTTO: I wonder, in your view, how Russia sees this and the division here, particularly at a time when here in the U.S. you have Republican lawmakers, the president, but also Republican lawmakers, such as John Kennedy, parroting what is Russian disinformation about who and to what degree interfered in the 2016 election, bringing up all these Ukraine conspiracy theories here. Does Russia sense weakness?

GLASSER: Look, I think people should be very clear that Vladimir Putin's top foreign policy priority really throughout his two decade long rule of Russia has been setting up NATO as an adversary, seeing it as a rival and having a very zero sum view of the world, by the way. So Vladimir Putin thinks when there is division and disarray inside NATO, that that's a win for him. And clearly that's been one of the themes in the last few years, both because he has this unlikely partner in Donald Trump who continues to advance Russia's foreign policy priorities at a time when often his own government doesn't even support them, you now also have Turkey, which essentially has made an incursion into Syria that has been very beneficial to Russia. It's Russia that has occupied those U.S. positions. It's Turkey that's been purchasing Russian arms.

So you also have Emanuel Macron coming at it from a different point of view, criticizing Trump, NATO on the one hand, on the other hand also saying it's time to rebalance with Russia. So I think Vladimir Putin is smiling when he thinks about London this week.

SCIUTTO: The president, of course, facing the continuation of the impeachment inquiry here in the U.S. while he is -- he is over in Russia and U.S. allies will certainly be aware of that, a difficult election to come in 2020.

You know, I asked you, does Russia see weakness within NATO, do America's allies see weakness with the American president at home?

GLASSER: You know, look, they have been perplexed and confused by Donald Trump from the very beginning. You know, the niceties and the complexities of the American political process, whether it's how the Iowa caucuses work or how impeachment works has become a global issue. Everywhere I travel internationally now people are asking me detailed questions, they're paying close attention to our political disarray and dysfunction because that, frankly, is the number one geopolitical issue in the world today, which is, what kind of a leader is America going to be on the world stage. So I think they're absolutely, you know, impeachment is the backdrop for this and, you know, Trump will want to project this idea of himself as being -- to work on the global stage and, you know -- but he just -- he can't resist being who he is, right?


GLASSER: I mean that's the safer prediction.

SCIUTTO: Yes, to disrupt you often might see that as a victory.

GLASSER: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Susan Glasser, great to have you on.

GLASSER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Jim, "The Good Stuff" is next.



CAMEROTA: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

Arizona strangers connected by a text mishap four years ago have continued their Thanksgiving tradition. Now, back in 2016, 62-year-old Wanda Dench accidentally invited 20-year-old Jamal Hinton to Thanksgiving dinner through a text that was meant for her grandson. His tweet about it went viral.


WANDA DENCH: Well, I got 600 text messages that night because he didn't block my phone number off of Twitter.


CAMEROTA: Whoops. Well, these unlikely friends have become family. Since this first happened, a lot has changed. Jamal met his girlfriend three years ago and they have just moved into their first apartment, Jim, and Wanda now has great-grandchildren.


Jamal also made good on a promise that he made last year, he cooked this Thanksgiving so Wanda would not have to.