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Imminent Threat to Embassies; LSU Wins National Championship; Tom Perez on Democratic Race; Harry and Meghan to Live in Canada Part- Time; Trump Retweets Doctored Image. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 14, 2020 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, CNN has learned that Russian military hackers successfully infiltrated Burisma, this is the Ukrainian gas company at the center of President Trump's impeachment trial. The cybersecurity firm Area One says fake websites set up by Russian intelligence tricked Burisma employees into giving up their passwords. That's exactly what happened to John Podesta and the DNC. It's not clear what the hackers were looking for or how deeply they accessed Burisma's network.

President Trump repeatedly pushed Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on Burisma's board. The Russian tactics, as we say, are strikingly similar to their efforts to destabilize the 2016 U.S. election. The speculation this morning, maybe the Russians were looking for some kind of embarrassing information on the Bidens.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And there are new questions this morning about President Trump's claim that the top Iranian general that he ordered to be killed posed an imminent threat to four U.S. Embassies. State Department officials tell CNN they were not made aware of any specific threat to any embassy before the administration targeted and killed that general.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is live in Washington with more.

And, Kylie, if there was an imminent threat, you'd think that people at embassies would have known about that.


So what we are learning in our reporting, according to sources at the State Department is that State Department officials involved in that exact thing, U.S. embassy security, were not made aware that there were four U.S. embassies facing an imminent threat. And as you said, that is the exact justification that President Trump has given for the U.S. strike that killed Qasem Soleimani. And when that justification was given publicly, one senior State Department official explained to me that they were blind-sided by what the president was saying.

Now, there was a worldwide security threat warning that went out to all U.S. embassies from the State Department. And then, based on that worldwide security warning, the State Department followed up and made phone calls to embassies in the region, to regional security officers, to make sure that they had everything that they needed and to essentially warn them that they needed to heed this warning. That there was the threat of increased escalation with Iran and Iranian proxies. But there was not a specific communication with four U.S. embassies. This is according to the sources that I've talked to at the State Department.

Now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to push back on our reporting just yesterday. Let's listen to what he had to say.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: That is both false and dangerous and intentionally undermining what it is this administration did to protect the amazing men and women who work at our embassies.

President Trump would never have put our diplomats in a position where they were at substantial risk and we would have never undertaken action like this without not only notifying them, but making sure they had the time and the resources that they need.


ATWOOD: Now, our reporting does not say, however, that embassies were not notified of potential escalation of threats from Iran. But what we do say is that four U.S. embassies were not told there was an imminent threat and the secretary did not push back on that specific element of our reporting.

BERMAN: Which is the key point.

Kylie Atwood, thank you so much. Terrific reporting. Thanks for being with us this morning.

So LSU capped its dream season with a win over Clemson to clinch the college football national championship.


The team's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Joe Burrow, the man of the night.

Coy Wire has the "Bleacher Report" live from New Orleans.



LSU's Joe Burrow has gone from backup quarterback from a small town in Ohio, to Heisman Trophy winner, to now national champ after one of the greatest championship game performances of all time.

Clemson was actually up 17-7 but in the second quarter Burrow takes over, showing his jaw-dropping accuracy. He leads LSU to 28 points in the first half. That's more than Clemson allowed in a game all season.

Second half, the onslaught continues. Clemson could not stop Burrow. He put up the most passing yards and total touchdowns ever in a BCS or college football playoff title game. Burrow also capped off the single greatest season of any quarterback, more passing touchdowns and total touchdowns than any other. Joe Burrow out to prove a point, he wasn't good enough at Ohio State before transferring to LSU they said. Well, now he'll be getting a ring in Baton Rouge.

LSU beats the defending champs 42-25 to win their first national title since 2007.


JOE BURROW, LSU QUARTERBACK: It's years of hard work paying off. This is -- this is an incredible moment for our -- for our program, for Baton Rouge, for Louisiana. This is -- this is just so special. I'm kind of speechless.


WIRE: All right, let's go to another huge story this morning, the fallout from a bombshell in the world of baseball. The Houston Astros owner Jim Crane firing manager A. J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for their roles in a sign stealing scandal that the team used during home games in their 2017 championship season. Hinch and Luhnow were initially suspended for one year without pay by Major League Baseball, but the organization felt it needed to go further.


JIM CRANE, HOUSTON ASTROS OWNER: Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it. And that's how -- how we came to the conclusion.

We need to move forward with a clean slate and the Astros will become stronger -- a stronger organization because of this today.


WIRE: The Astros were fined by a league a record $5 million and lost draft picks. Both Hinch and Luhnow released statements accepting responsibility. More punishment likely to come, though, Alisyn. Major League Baseball's investigation found then Astros bench coach Alex Cora was also deeply involved. He's now manager for the Boston Red Sox and is likely facing a long suspension when this investigation wraps up.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Coy, we'll be talking to Bob Costas about this later in the program, so everybody should stick around for that.

Thank you very much, Coy.

All right, so the Democratic field has gone from being the most diverse, diverse in history, to having no candidates of color on the debate stage. We'll ask the head of the Democratic Party if that's a problem for success, next.



BERMAN: You are looking at live pictures of the debate stage in Iowa where six Democratic candidates will face off tonight, the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. The Democratic field was -- was -- was the most diverse in history, but tonight there will be no candidates of color on that stage.

Joining us now is Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Chairman, let's put up that picture once again.


BERMAN: The six candidates who will be on that stage. People are asking the Democratic Party, what's wrong with this picture? No candidates of color.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is still running, he writes, surely the leadership of the Democratic Party must now see that the criteria chosen have not served to demonstrate to Democratic voters or the nation the breadth and depth of the diverse talent in the field.

How do you respond to Governor Patrick and those criticizing the lineup tonight?

PEREZ: We've set a really remarkably inclusive and, frankly, low bar throughout the campaigns, John, and I'm proud of that. And, as a result of that, we did have the most diverse field in American history. And I'm proud of that.

And what we said every month was that the closer we got to Iowa, we would do what we've always done, which is raise the bar. And last month we had eight people who made the debate stage, three women, two candidates of color and an openly gay candidate. Remarkable diversity.

Now, Kamala Harris made the debate stage in December, I have no doubt she would have made it in January. And she stepped off and suspended her campaign, not because of any criteria that the DNC set, but for other reasons. And that saddened me. I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to diversity and inclusion.

And the criteria we set this month, you needed to reach 5 percent in four out of 23 polls. Now, let me give you a point of reference. Four years ago, you needed to average 5 percent in the five polls leading up to Iowa. So the bar was much higher in the past. And, by the way, in the past, Reverend Sharpton would have surpassed this, obviously Barack Obama in '08, Jesse Jackson in '84 and '88. And we've had a large field this year. And as a result, we have sitting senators who weren't able to make the debate stage. I love Deval Patrick. He is my former boss. I think the world of him.

He's polling at about 1 percent right now in the national polls. And so one thing is clear to me, though, whether it was Cory, and I love Cory Booker, I worked with him dating back to his days as mayor, he may be out of the race, but he's not out of the fight.

And when you look at the issues that are confronting communities of color, and you look at who's been fighting for you, the Democratic Party's long track record of fighting for diversity and inclusion is something that I'm very proud of.


And all you need to do is look at the photo of the House Democratic Caucus and House Republican Caucus and you know which party is going to continue to fight to make sure that diversity and inclusion is part of who we are.

I wish Kamala Harris and others were still on the stage, but we made the rules --

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: They were very transparent. They're very inclusive. And we can't change the rules midstream because there's a candidate that I wish were on but didn't make the debate stage.

BERMAN: And I am confident of the fact --

PEREZ: That's what it's about. And, again, I take a back seat to nobody --

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: And I'm confident that our party is going to continue to fight for these issues --

BERMAN: And I am --

PEREZ: As opposed to this president, who still --

BERMAN: And I am cognizant of the fact --

PEREZ: You know, claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

BERMAN: I'm cognizant of the fact that back in July the criticism was there were too many candidates on the debate stage. And as we are in January now people saying there are too few.

PEREZ: That's correct.

BERMAN: Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, who is running in the Democratic primary, has a different criticism about all of this. He suggests that having Iowa and New Hampshire go first is just a bad idea in this day and age. Part of it has to do with the diversity. Iowa and New Hampshire are not particularly diverse states. But he sees another danger there, too. He says, we're in danger of repeating 2016 in large part because as Democrats focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump is operating full speed in the battleground states. He's criticizing the system that the DNC set up.

How do you respond to that?

PEREZ: I think these four early primaries are really good opportunities for people to get to know candidates, for candidates to get to garner momentum. We have four early states and he mentions New Hampshire and Iowa. There's also Nevada and South Carolina. And if you have your first state be a really large state, then what you're going to do if you do that is you're going to reward people who have deep pockets. And so what we want to do in the Democratic Party primary --

BERMAN: Like say Michael Bloomberg?

PEREZ: Well, I won't name names, but what we want to do is make sure that our early states are accessible to all the candidates and our early states give opportunities across the board.

And, you know what, candidates are multi-taskers. You know, you've got candidates going all over this country, talking to the American people, making their case to the American people, and I'm proud of what we're doing now.

BERMAN: Mr. Chairman --

PEREZ: Now, again, the first four states represent only 5 percent of the overall delegate count. And so, yes, you have to have a 50-state strategy to win the Democratic primary and that's exactly what candidates are doing.

BERMAN: I need to -- I need to let you go, but I do want to note, this is the first debate since the United States killed Iran's top general. We have about 30 seconds left. How important do you think foreign policy should be on this debate stage tonight?

PEREZ: Well, we're less self than they were in the debate last month in Los Angeles. We have a president who is unhinged. A president who has a ready, fire, aim strategy for governance. I listened to your most recent programming right before I came on. State Department officials, they didn't know about these alleged embassies at risk because they weren't at risk. He's making it up. And we're a less safe world.

America first is not what he's doing. He's doing America alone. America alone makes us less safe.

BERMAN: Chairman Tom Perez from the Democratic National Committee, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Good luck with the debate tonight. We will all be watching.

PEREZ: Always a pleasure. Thank you, John.

BERMAN: And, of course, you can all watch tonight's CNN/"Des Moines Register" Democratic debate at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: All right, so we have some new details on the royal crisis with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Why wasn't Meghan part of that meeting with the queen? She didn't even call in. We have a live report for you.

BERMAN: They changed the dial-in code on her intentionally.

CAMEROTA: Maybe that was it. Maybe.



BERMAN: CNN has just learned that Meghan Markle did not participate in the emergency summit yesterday with Queen Elizabeth. Her majesty issued a carefully worded statement agreeing to let Prince Harry and Meghan live in Canada part-time, but she says there will be a period of transition.

CNN's Max Foster live at Buckingham Palace with more.

And, Max, I should note the way she called them Harry and Meghan, interesting in and of itself.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It was. It speaks to the, you know, emotion really behind this for the queen. She's dealing with members of the family, as well as members of her firm. I think that certainly we've seen how Harry and Meghan have taken a more informal approach to their roles from the Cambridges. I think this confirms that they really are heading out the door and now it's this period of transition that the queen's been talking about.

We spoke yesterday about how I was briefed that the duchess would be dialing into this meeting in Sandringham yesterday, this crisis meeting for the family. We're just been told that she didn't feel the need to dial in.

That's off the back of lots of speculation in the papers today that she wasn't allowed to dial in because it was a security risk and also the queen didn't know who might be in the room at the other end in Canada. We don't know what the truth is, but I'm being told it was the Duke and Duchess of Sussexs decision not to have her dial into that meeting. So she wasn't part of it, ultimately, but she is certainly signed up to what came out of it, John.

BERMAN: It's not like the nuclear codes were being discussed there. Interesting to see.

Max Foster, thanks so much for being with us.

The world has watched their every move. Now CNN presents the story of the world's most famous royal family. The timing on this is extraordinary. "The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty." It premieres Sunday, February 16th at 10:00 p.m. on CNN.


CAMEROTA: OK, John, President Trump has been known to retweet doctored and fake content, but on Monday one of those images got a lot of attention. He retweeted this Photoshopped image of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in traditional Muslim clothing, standing in front of an Iranian flag.


Here to discuss we have writer, comedian and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid.

Maysoon, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: When you saw that retweet, what did it say to you?

ZAYID: Well, the first instinct was, I completely did not believe it was real, which is silly on my part because, as you said, we've seen stuff like this. But it was so outrageous, it was so outlandish, I could not believe it was real.

And then when I realized that it was, it made me feel the same way I have for three years now, unsafe in this country. It is exhausting to wake up as a Muslim person in America and know that literally the most powerful man in the world is bullying and mocking Muslims.

And he's not bullying Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is not going to be bullied by that. The ramifications are going to be with kids at school whose parents might wear a hijab or people like the people who were killed in Christchurch, or the people who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue because bigotry never stays with one minority. If you're hateful against Muslims, you tend to be hateful against Jewish people.

And a lot of people have been saying they're in Muslim traditional clothes, they're in Muslim garb. I'm in Muslim garb. That is not what all Muslims wear. But I don't think that picture was even them wearing Muslim clothing. That picture was really, really bad Photoshop.

And when the most powerful man in the world, with access to all technology, chooses to retweet and amplify trolls, I think he makes us unsafe because we're a joke worldwide and it's dangerous. But, at the same time, he's inciting violence against actual religious minorities.

CAMEROTA: You have been sounding this alarm for a long time. I mean you've come on NEW DAY and told us, in the past three years, in your life you have felt less safe. And I think it's an interesting point that you're talking about. Nancy Pelosi can brush this off. She goes on with her life. It doesn't mean anything to her success. But that for the by-product of it, you think, for people like you, as well as young adults and kids, will be what? I mean how has your life changed in the past three years, or how have high schoolers or middle schoolers' lives changed because of things like this? ZAYID: I think it's and othering. And what it does is, it makes us

feel like we don't belong, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes that people have against us. And I said that tweet was like the anti- Abrahamic trifecta, because I also think it is really disrespectful to Nancy Pelosi, who's catholic, and Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, to put them in this clownish, offensive Muslim clothing. So he's not just offensive to us, I think that denying other people's faith is offensive to them.

And the fact that -- I don't know if she's really a press secretary because she doesn't do the conferences, I forgot what her position is, but she went on Fox and really just doubled down and said he did that to show that they sympathize with terrorists, implying that any woman who wearing a hijab sympathizes with a terrorists, which is something that has been a smear against Ilhan Omar and so many other people.

And worldwide people are being told, you cannot use your religious symbols. And to do something so clownish and so despicable and have absolutely nobody say enough is enough, the president of the United States cannot discriminate and insight violence against religious minorities anymore. It has to stop.

For me, what's so frustrating is, you do this in school, you get expelled. You do this at CNN, you get fired. You do this in the White House and we say, should we even mention it? Should we just ignore it? But I don't think we can ignore blatant bigotry.

CAMEROTA: Maysoon, it's always great to have you here. And you bring such an important perspective to us. Thank you very much. We will talk to you soon.

ZAYID: Thank you so much for having me.


BERMAN: The final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses just a few hours away and that's just one big story. We're expecting huge developments in the impeachment trial.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Top Democrats take the stage in the final debate before the Iowa caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sanders told Warren he did not believe a woman could win.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have never said a negative word about Elizabeth Warren.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elizabeth Warren saying this before a debate is pretty bold. We'll have fireworks on the stage.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I am feeling a little better than I did a few days ago that we might actually get a fair trial.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I'd like there to be witnesses and hear from someone like John Bolton. I won't be supporting the Schumer approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If what my colleagues on the Republican side say is ultimately what they do, then there will be votes for witnesses.



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