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Volcanic Eruption off New Zealand; Trump and Allies Spin IG Report; Eagles Beat Giants in Overtime; Trump's Relationship with Generals. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 10, 2019 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New developments this morning from the dramatic volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand. Eight people are still unaccounted for. The eruption on White Island, a popular tourist site, left at least six people dead. Officials say there are no signs of life on the island.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live in New Zealand in front of the cruise ship that had more than 30 passengers touring the island when the volcano erupted.

Will, what have you learned?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this was one of the most popular excursions offered for the Ovation of the Seas. It's one of the reasons that cruise ships come here so that people can take an adventure and see this active volcano which is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

But we're learning that in recent weeks, there were warnings of increased volcanic activity. And, of course, that is leading to big questions as to why people were allowed, not just to go to the island, but to hike right up to the edge of the volcanic crater.

Forty-seven people were on this island when the eruption happened, including nine Americans. A couple from Virginia who were on their honeymoon, both of them severely burned. We also spoke with some of the cruise ship passengers who told us they know a family, a family of four that is still missing, a mother and father and their two teenage daughters.



RIPLEY: To think about it, a whole family, two daughters and their parents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible. Shocking.

RUSSELL CLARK, INTENSIVE CARE PARAMEDIC: Everything was just blanketed in ash. It was -- it was quite an overwhelming feeling, you know. There was a helicopter on the island that had obviously been there at the time with is rotor blades (INAUDIBLE).


RIPLEY: The tour company that brings people to this privately owned island insists that they have a good safety record. They were actually voted one of the safest places to work in Australia last year. And yet some are now saying that, were tourism dollars put ahead of people's lives, especially given the fact that there had been smoke and steam rising from the surface of this volcano and the description of the injuries of those who survived just horrific because there were people who had just left the island minutes before the eruption. They were on these boats that then turned back to rescue survivors, and they describe people who essentially were hit with highly pressurized steam and ash with their skin falling off, barely holding onto their consciousness.

And area hospitals have been so inundated. We're told that they have more burn victims in a single day than New Zealand sees in an entire year. So hospitals overwhelmed at this point trying to treat these people and the death toll has risen with warnings from hospital officials, Alisyn, that more people could die because of the fact that their burns are just simply so severe.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh, that is so hideous to have -- to hear. Please, Will, keep us posted on what's happening with the search for survivors and the survivors.

Back to the FBI. The FBI says that the Saudi gunman who attacked a naval air station in Pensacola legally bought that gun used in the attack that killed three U.S. servicemen last Friday. Officials are also investigating whether a cyber-attack on Monday is related to the shooting. We'll get more on that. We'll have a live report coming up right after the break on that, John.

BERMAN: In the meantime, a new, stunning statement from the president that is undercut by his own Justice Department. Plus, the new statement from the FBI director that debunks another key presidential claim.



CAMEROTA: All right, this morning we expect a major announcement from House Democrats, laying out for the first time articles of impeachment against President Trump.

But this morning it is the Justice Department's inspector general report that appears to be consuming President Trump and his allies who continue trying to spin the report as a win, even though it negates a number of their key talking points. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: The actual report was something of a disaster for the FBI. That was obvious to anyone who actually read it.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: Everything we have been reporting for years was dead on accurate. We were right every step of the way.

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: The report, as I mentioned to Hannity, is a devastating indictment of our FBI and our intel gathering apparatus.


CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now, CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter and CNN political commentator and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

Great to have both of you.

OK, let's go back to reality world instead of upside down world right now, which is what we just played a montage of.


Charlie, when you hear, you know, the talking points from obviously the Trump cheerleaders, as well as some of your former Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, do they -- I mean when Hannity says, for instance, everything we've been reporting for years has been dead on accurate, we were right every step of the way, and the report completely negates that, do they believe that? Are -- why are they saying that?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I mean, that -- that's an absurd statement by Sean Hannity. You know, look -- look, they're cherry picking. What they're doing over there at those -- at Fox is they're cherry picking those piece of the report that bolster or support their narrative. It's as simple as that.

Yes, there are problems, serious problems, with the surveillance warrants for Carter Page, who's an eccentric fellow and is probably owed an apology, frankly, by the FBI.

But on the big question about the origin of the probe, there was no political bias. There was -- it was -- it was opened in a -- in a fair manner. No deep -- no deep state conspiracy. No coup d'etat. And there, you know, the president and his supporters probably owe the rest of us an apology for spreading that nonsense all this time.

CAMEROTA: See, Brian, what I think -- what I believe is that they just don't deal in nuance and they just hope that their viewers and their voters don't either. So -- so the idea that there was no spying, there is no deep state, there was no political bias, they -- the viewers and the voters won't hear that. They'll just hear what Hannity's saying about that there were some mistakes --


CAMEROTA: Not in those categories, and that's it.

STELTER: Right, there are a few cherries to be picked. It's like we're living in the world's grandest experiment for motivated reasoning. You know, you've got to go back to Psychology 101 and what happens when you're so invested in something, you seek out all -- little bits of evidence to confirm your beliefs. It's similar to something called confirmation bias. We are seeing this every single day in the narrative that's promoted to promote the president's political agenda.

And I think when you're looking at something like Hannity, it makes more sense when you view it like storytelling. Take anything close to journalism of it, even though he says he's doing reporting. It's storytelling. He's advancing a story every single night about the president being the victim of a plot. It doesn't have a lot of reality -- connection to reality, but if you view him as an entertainer telling a story, it does make sense.


STELTER: He has to keep people obsessed with the story. And that's why he's now calling out the Durham probe as the next part of the story, right?

CAMEROTA: I get it. I know the playbook.


CAMEROTA: But the problem is that the viewers think that they're getting facts and they're not getting facts when they hear that. They're just --

STELTER: Right. He likes to say the news continues now, and we're reporting, and he uses all these journalism terms that have nothing to do with journalism.

CAMEROTA: It's not news. It's not reporting.


CAMEROTA: So, obviously, as we know, Congressman, the president is not fact based. Here's what he's telling his voters and supporters today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow. And a lot of people were in on it. And they got caught. They got caught red handed.


CAMEROTA: This was before he was elected, so I'm not sure about the chronology of overthrow of government. What do you hear there, Charlie? DENT: Well, look, this is really unhelpful and, frankly, it's

destructive to our institutions. There was no overthrow of government. There was no coup. I mean the coup suggests that, you know, really that -- that maybe some kind of military takeover is happening. It's crazy to say this sort of thing.

I mean what part of this report haven't they read? Yes, they want to beat up on the FBI because of the way they handled surveillance warrants, I guess that's fair. But to suggest that the overall investigation, you know, was driven by political bias, and, you know, bad behavior by the FBI just simply doesn't speak to reality.

I'll tell you what, there is another problem here too. The Democrats, over the years, have been historically critical of the FISA process, Republicans more defensive of it.


DENT: I'm curious to see what Congress does about the FISA process going forward.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that will be very interesting.

OK, now to the next conspiracy theory that's being peddled, and that is, as you know, the president and some of his supporters in Congress are trying to conflate what Russia did in terms of the wide scale, top down, Kremlin supported interference in the 2016 election and an op-ed from a former Ukrainian ambassador where they were concerned about candidate Donald Trump. Here is what the FBI director, Chris Wray, said yesterday about this conspiracy theory -- actually on December 9th about this conspiracy theory.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

I think it's important for the American people to be thoughtful consumers of information, to think about the sources of it.


CAMEROTA: OK, the FBI says that it wasn't Ukraine.

But, Brian, here's the part that I think is interesting. He says, I think it's important for the American people to be thoughtful consumers of information.


CAMEROTA: Yes, of course it is. They have to use critical thinking. However, he's saying that it's going to be up to voters and the people to determine the truth because we can't count on our leaders to give us the real information.

[06:45:01] STELTER: And that's at the heart of the problem in this digital age. And this is something that predates Trump and it's getting worse in the Trump years. We are expected now, in this FaceBook and Twitter world, to go and figure out the truth ourselves. It's all been laid at our own hands. And that's incredibly empowering sometimes and democratizing. It's also incredibly difficult and incredibly stressful for tens of millions of people who don't know what to believe.

And Wray is right, but, unfortunately, as long as there's a president who's leading a misinformation campaign to confuse the public, we're going to have these problems. And people like Sean Hannity are a -- are an outgrowth of that fundamental core problem. I'm glad Wray is identifying it correctly and it's incredible that he's basically saying, don't believe right wing media. This is the Trump appointed FBI director saying don't believer Trump's friends.

CAMEROTA: I mean you and I talk about this all the time. It's about news literacy. And you have to know the difference between a real journalist and real news program and somebody who is just telling a story and, you know, that's where we are right now.

STELTER: It's just getting harder and harder out there every day. And I feel for the folks out there who don't -- who don't want to have invest all day long to know what is true and what is not.


All right, Brian Stelter, former Congressman Charlie Dent, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

DENT: Take care.

BERMAN: I've got to say, those Christopher Wray statements are stunning and I'd be shocked if the president doesn't respond in some way because Christopher Wray just directly refuted the president of the United States.

Meanwhile, a damning, new report says that for years the U.S. government has been misleading the public about failures in Afghanistan. We're going to talk to an expert who just got back from Afghanistan, next.



CAMEROTA: The Philadelphia Eagles with a huge second half comeback to beat Eli Manning and the Giants.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What a game, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn. Good game if you're an Eagles fan. You know, Eli Manning was making his return to the Giant's starting lineup, filling in for the injured Daniel Jones. And, well, he looked like he was going to lead the Giants to a blowout win over Philadelphia. Second quarter, Eli finds Darius Slayton. A beautiful 55 yard touchdown pass. Giants led this game 17-3 at the half. The second half, though, a different story. Eagles were able to come back, force overtime and in the extra period Carson Wentz going to find Zach Ertz for the game winning touchdown. Eagles win 23-17. Giants have now lost nine in a row tying a team record.

All right, the Patriots are being investigated by the NFL for inappropriately filming the field and sideline from the Brown's press box during Sunday's game between the Bengal's and the Browns in Cleveland. Now, the Bengal's are the Patriot's next opponent. They were the ones to make the investigation known. The Patriots, in a statement, said the crew was at the game to film a scout as a part of their web series called "Do Your Job." The team added in that statement, while we sought and were granted credential access from the Cleveland Browns for the video crew, our failure to inform the Bengal's and the league was an unintended oversight.

Here's what Patriot's Head Coach Bill Belichick had to say about the situation on his weekly radio show.


BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOT'S HEAD COACH: We have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce, direct, or shoot or anything. I've never even seen any of their tapes or anything else. So this is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with.


SCHOLES: And when questioned, the crew immediately turned over all footage with the league and cooperated fully. But, you know, after spy-gate in 2007, John, anytime you hear inappropriate filming and the Patriots, people immediately become suspicious. But this does all seem to be like an innocent mistake.

BERMAN: I can't imagine why anyone would suspect the Patriots of anything ever, Andy. And I will suggest that maybe they should just do away with the AV department. They may not need video cameras.

SCHOLES: Stop filming anything.

BERMAN: Anything. Everything.

All right, Andy, I appreciate it.

So, this morning, President Trump appears to be one week away from becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. So, how did he get here? A new book out today suggests it might be the people who are not around him, at least anymore.

Joining us now is CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. He's the author of the new book "Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos." It is out today.

Peter, congratulations on this new book.


BERMAN: And inside it you talk about the July 25th phone call. That is where President Trump asked President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. And this is what you write. You write, by now, on July 25th, the axis of adults -- the axis of adults had all long moved on, either because they were focused -- forced out or because they had resigned on principle, and Trump had surrounded him with yes men and was running his cabinet like he'd run his real estate company. The danger of having Trump surrounded by a team of acolytes was underscored by what became potentially the greatest threat to his presidency, that July 25th phone call.

BERMAN: What difference might General John Kelly, General McMaster, General Mattis, what difference might they have made had they still worked in the administration on July 25th?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, they -- I mean they had a history of disagreeing and -- with the president on matters of policy. You know, and -- I mean John Kelly himself has said when he -- during his exit, sort of interview with the president, that, you know, you need not -- try not to get a yes man because you might get impeached. So this is John Kelly's own approach to it.

So, I mean, I think the combination -- and, you know, to his credit, John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, did push back on this phone call.

But the point is, if you go back to 2017, there was a much, you know, stronger group of people. I mean these are very impressive guys, H.R. McMaster, Jim Mattis, John Kelly. And now I think, you know, I mean they're competent people like Mark Esper, the defense secretary, but they're not -- they're not really going to stand up to Trump and he's sort of unplugged. And we've seen the results.

BERMAN: What did these generals think of the president overall? Because you write about moments that seem like out of body experiences. One has to do with South Korea and its capital Seoul and meetings the president had repeatedly about the North Korea/South Korea conflict. At one point the president said -- Trump remarked, why is Seoul so close to the North Korean border? Trump was regularly briefed that North Korea possessed vast numbers of artillery batteries that could potentially kill millions in Seoul in the event of war. Referring to the inhabitants of Seoul, Trump said, they have to move. The officials in the Oval Office weren't sure if Trump was joking. Trump repeated, they have to move.

BERGER: You know, I think they just tune this stuff out eventually because, you know, Trump would make -- Trump makes a lot of these kinds of comments. You know, and they're -- are -- is he joking? Is he serious? It's hard to tell.

[06:55:00] But over time I think these things began to accumulate. And, also, it wasn't just a matter of Trump's kind of way of approaching things that the military, you know, wasn't happy about, they disagreed on substance, whether it was the blockade of gas rich Qatar, whether it was staying in the Iran deal, whether it was -- you know, there's a whole range of things, you know, staying in the NATO. There's a whole range of things that the generals really were in favor of and they've gone.

And one of the reasons that Trump needed the generals in the beginning was, of course, he's the first president in American history not to have served in public office, not to have served in the military, and he needed their experience. He needed to know how to move the levers of power. You know, how to run the war on terror. And he recruited some pretty bright guys.

By the way, one of the reasons they were all military guys is, the military's not supposed to take political positions. So they -- none of them were never Trumpers. None of them ever signed this letter. And they were available. But none of them knew Trump personally. You know, they -- none of them even knew people who knew Trump, you know. So there was very little kind of real relationship there at the beginning.

BERMAN: And he had a Hollywood-like view, I think, of what U.S. generals were like. And maybe he was surprised when it turned out they weren't willing to be as political as he was hoping they would be.

I do want to ask you, and this is something of a rift also because the generals per se have been more supportive or have had a different view of U.S. policy in Afghanistan toward the president, who has always been skeptical.


BERMAN: "The Washington Post" put out this really bombshell report -- I never use that term, but this one was --


BERMAN: Suggesting that over three administrations the situation in Afghanistan has been publicly misrepresented and has been much worse and the people there knew it was much worse all along and testified to such in briefings.

You were just there last week. What do you make of all this?

BERGER: Well, you know, the military is a can do organization, and they're always going to put the best gloss on things. And one of the things I recount in the book is the knock-down, drag out fights in the Situation Room about what to do in Afghanistan that Trump, of course, was very skeptical. Steve Bannon kind of leading the America first. You know, the nationalist side of the part was also very skeptical. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, arguing for more troops for a longer term commitment. In the end, H.R. McMaster won that fight. But, look, I mean I was just there last week and, you know, you have

to travel around in an armored car. It's not like you can sort of walk to restaurants, hotels.

BERMAN: It's worse than it was several --

BERGER: It is. It is worse than it was.

That said, look, half the population can now have a job. Half of them can now be educated. I mean I was there during the Taliban time. That was no walk in the park either. So, I mean, they're -- for all the things that have gone wrong, and this report in "The Post" is, I agree, very, very disturbing, the fact is, is that Afghanistan is in a much better place than it was when we invaded shortly after 9/11.

BERMAN: Peter Bergen, the book, "Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos," incredibly relevant and focuses on many issues in the news every day these weeks.

Great to have you and congratulations.

BERGEN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, you'll enjoy this.

Republican lawyer Steve Castor made a real impression at Monday's impeachment hearing, but it was not for what he said.

Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": Castor's demeanor throughout this whole thing was that of a guy who knew he was fighting a battle. In fact, instead of keeping his documents in a briefcase or cardboard boxes like most lawyers, he showed up to the hearing this morning with his papers in a grocery store tote bag. Look at that. It's like he forgot about the hearing until the last minute and had to find what was lying around his house. I bet there was only one piece of paper at the top of that bag and the rest of it was just organic produce.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Then, Trump made the most important statement of his presidency.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are flushing toilets ten times, 15 times.

COLBERT: Ten times? People are flushing toilets 15 times? What -- are they trying to get rid of a body? I don't understand who -- who in the world needs to flush 15 times. OK, yes, that checks out. Yes. OK.


BERMAN: I tell you, I had -- there were great laugh lines during the hearing yesterday all throughout the day.

CAMEROTA: Yes. No. I mean I don't think they played it for comedic effect, but they could have. That was some of the byproduct. Thank you.

All right, a major announcement on impeachment.

NEW DAY continues right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Articles of impeachment will be unveiled after a contentious final day of House hearings on the subject.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: According to sources, there will be one article on abuse of power and another on obstruction of Congress.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a disgrace to our country. It's a hoax.

CAMEROTA: The long awaited DOJ inspector general report undercuts two years of President Trump's conspiracy theories.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'm not going to accept that politics is not part of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For two years the president of the United States accused our premier law enforcement agency of treason. That was all lies.


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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And we begin with breaking news.


In just two hours, House Democrats will unveil the articles of impeachment against President Trump.