Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Goes on Tweetstorm Ahead of Crucial Diplomatic Week; Manhunt Intensifies for Waffle House Shooter. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 23, 2018 - 06:00   ET



KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: I'm telling you the president's concern has been for Michael Cohen and the way he's been treated.

[05:59:22] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an epic battle for the cooperation of Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen is going to flip on this president, and he knows where the bodies are buried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great public relations effort by Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea saying that they have completed their nuclear program; therefore, no longer needing nuclear tests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've heard the president. We're going to keep up maximum pressure. We're not going to stop that until they denuclearize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reinking got out of his truck, armed with an AR-15 rifle, and started shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point the Young man could be anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I chose to react. You're going to have to work to kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're on my book (ph).


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, April 23, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.

President Trump facing a consequential week of diplomacy. Today the president and first lady host French President Emanuel Macron, the first official state visit in the Trump presidency. There's a lot on the agenda, including the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, the future of U.S. troops in Syria, and the rapidly evolving talks with North Korea.

President Trump claims in a tweet that North Korea has agreed to denuclearize ahead of Kim Jong-un's historic visit to South Korea this week, but that is not what they announced. The president boasting that the U.S. has not given up anything as he prepares to meet with Kim soon.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So with all of that on the international side, and all of the domestic priorities, what do you think the president was doing this weekend? Well, one thing he was doing for sure is settling scores and lashing out at his enemies on Twitter.

More than two dozen tweets. The president defended his personal attorney, who is of course, under criminal investigation, slammed the Mueller probe a lot and went after Jim Comey for leaking memos, saying again that he should be prosecuted. He also took a lot of time to attack a certain "New York Times" reporter who you will see on the show very soon.

We're also following breaking news out of the U.K. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is in the early stages of labor with her third child. The royal baby will be the fifth in line to the British throne.

Let's begin our coverage. We've got CNN's Kaitlan Collins live at the White House -- Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, 24. That is the number of tweets that President Trump sent between Friday evening and Sunday night, though this is a very prolific tweeting president. Of course, that is a striking number, even for him, in one weekend.

And one of the messages in those dozens of tweets was to his long-time attorney Michael Cohen, after "The New York Times" reported that the president's legal team was worried that Cohen could begin cooperating with the federal officials who are investigating him.


COLLINS (voice=over): President Trump pushing back on reports that his long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is under criminal investigation, could turn on him and cooperate with prosecutors.

CONWAY: He stands up for people in his inner circle and people he knows when he thinks they're being treated unfairly.

COLLINS: The president accusing "The New York Times" and others of going out of their way to destroy his relationship with Cohen in the hope that he will flip. Trump adding, "I don't see Michael doing that."

President Trump also unloading more than two dozen other tweets over the weekend, launching a new round of attacks at fired FBI director James Comey, in a move to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: I think that we

all have frustration that we believe that the scope has gone beyond what was intended to be investigations into meddling in the election.

COLLINS: The president repeatedly declaring the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia a witch hunt and questioning the bases of Mueller's investigation, alleging Comey "illegally leaked classified investigation in order to generate a special counsel and that the Russia probe was established based on an illegal act."

After he was fired by Mr. Trump last May, Comey testified before the Senate about his decision to have a friend leak his memos to the media.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

COLLINS: But last week the former FBI director told CNN he still thinks it was the right thing to do.

COMEY: I was in a position, given what I knew, to do something that would be useful and important; and so I did it.

COLLINS: Sources tell CNN the Department of Justice inspector general is now looking into Comey's handling of the memos.

All this ahead of President Trump's expected summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The president writing in part, "Wow, we haven't given up anything, and they've agreed to denuclearization. So great for the world. Site closure and no more testing."

But while South Korea has said Pyongyang is willing to talk about denuclearization, North Korean officials have not agreed to that, instead saying they would halt missile testing and close one nuclear facility.

This as "The Wall Street Journal" reports that the president will urge North Korea to act quickly to dismantle its nuclear arsenal before receiving any relief from U.S. sanctions.


COLLINS: Now North Korea and Michael Cohen are not the only thing on the president's plate this week. He's also got a very consequential week as he hosts his first state dinner with the French president and his wife. There are several things on the agenda for them to discuss, including the Iran deal and trade. But Chris and Alisyn, they're going to get started with a dinner at Mount Vernon tonight, the home, of course, of our first president, George Washington.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Very busy weekend. Thank you so much for all the reporting.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. So Maggie, how was your weekend? [06:05:06] MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was my

daughter's birthday on Saturday.


HABERMAN: Thanks for asking.

CAMEROTA: That's so nice.

HABERMAN: It is nice.

CAMEROTA: I'm glad you had lots of time and breathing room to celebrate that.

Amidst the tweet storm that focused --


CAMEROTA: -- in part on you, in part on Michael Cohen. So let me just read one of the president's 24 tweets this weekend. The one that relates to you.

"'The New York Times' and a third-rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H. flunky who I don't speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will flip. They use nonexistent," quote, "'sources' and a drunk, drugged-up loser who hates Michael, a fine person --"

CUOMO: That is not you, Maggie.

CAMEROTA: Yes, who is that? "With a wonderful person -- with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account lawyer" -- huh -- "who I have always liked and respected. Most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry. I don't see Michael doing that, despite the horrible WITCH HUNT" -- capitalized -- "and the dishonest media."

He was upset about your reporting about the pickle that Michael Cohen is in.


CAMEROTA: What -- how do you explain how exercised he was?

HABERMAN: Well, I think that this is a topic, as we've discussed here over several mornings, is one that is hitting a nerve with him. I think that he is -- he and his lawyers are very anxious about the southern district investigation into Michael Cohen. That is right now more of an imminent threat than the Robert Mueller special counsel probe is.

The president -- I -- look, the story was really not about, you know, destroying their relationship. The president has destroyed their relationship pretty handily on his own over a very long period of time, and that what is the story was about, which is that he has been -- he is abusive, according to almost everyone I speak to, to most people in his orbit; and family is not excepted from that. But he is particularly abusive to Cohen over the years.

And the question becomes does that come back to haunt him. I do not believe that would be an only factor in Cohen's mind. Only Michael Cohen knows what he is thinking of doing.

CAMEROTA: Because he's been so loyal, despite the verbal abuse and despite the disrespect. He's been so loyal. So obviously that hasn't bothered him to that degree in the past.

HABERMAN: Or there wasn't sort of the presentation of his life or the president's life in front of him before. And that, I think, is what is going to -- prosecutors want to hand him.

COMO: Look. Let's just be clear about what's going on. You know, Maggie, better than anybody, we're nowhere near the idea of Michael Cohen being presented with any kind of offer to have to do anything.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CUOMO: We know there's an investigation.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CUOMO: I still don't understand what the charges would be.


CUOMO: Reading everything through. I don't even know what it is yet. So we're going to have to see what it is.

HABERMAN: No, that's a very good -- that's a very good point.

CUOMO: That the president is not preoccupied with this. That's what he'd go after you. Everybody knows his -- his description of your relationship and who you are is silly. There are few reporters that he's given more access to.

We know what he's saying isn't true. but it is a clear reflection of what's going on with him.

Now, are we going to have this situation be once again where he's flooded the zone with so much B.S. that we don't look at each of it individually? Because this is a man who has pledged to take the opioid crisis real, to treat addiction in a way that no president has before.

We know he has to be talking about Sam Nunberg. Right? Nobody else fits the description of being --


CUOMO: -- anyone who would be connected in any way to any kind of problems with addiction except for him, and again, maybe it's speculation; maybe it isn't. But that's true.

Should he be held to account, the president of the United States, for referring to somebody as a drugged-up drunk when he says he wants to give attention to addiction, treat these people with respect, treat them as sick, help with the problem? Because he identified the problem. He is the problem. The stigma is a big part of the problem in changing how we deal with it. I know all the other stuff is great political intrigue, but should we focus on that?

HABERMAN: I totally agree with you. Yes, we should. This is somebody who, a huge driver for his election, both in the primaries and in the general election, was concern about the opioid crisis, the spread of addiction, the lack of treatment, the lack of options.

He was very good at going to events and sort of sounding a note of compassion. Calling someone a drugged-up loser on Twitter and especially then creating this kind of "Who is it? Is it Sam Nunberg? Is it someone else?" game. That is the opposite, and that is something that people who have been working in the field of addiction for a very long time have been trying to push back against.

When it comes from the president of the United States, it is -- it is a fundamentally stronger message. And it is, as we know, I mean, I think this is the reality, Chris. You're pointing to it. It's an important point.

This is how he really feels, what he -- about addicts. You know, we know that he had a brother who died of alcoholism. We know that he considers addiction to be weak. Whatever he says to people when he is either dealing with people who have lost children, as he did recently in New Hampshire, to opioids, or when he is trying to sound as if he is focused on this crisis, that is very revealing to say what he said.

CAMEROTA: He's, obviously very exercised, as well, about what's happened to James Comey, the book tour. And the memos that were released, that James Comey had written after meeting with Donald Trump.

So here's another tweet. "James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a special counsel. Therefore, the special counsel was established based on an illegal act. Really, does anybody know what that means?" I mean --

HABERMAN: I don't know that he knows what that means, based on that tweet. Because we don't actually know that what Comey did was, quote/unquote, illegal. We do not know whether there was classified information that should have -- that was retroactively classified.

CAMEROTA: The inspector general's looking at it.

HABERMAN: That is being looked at. Well, there's a big difference between something being looked at and something being done the same way there is a big difference between a country saying they're going to denuclearize and actually saying that.

CAMEROTA: Well, sure, and we're going to get to that. But that is what triggered the special counsel. He's right about

that. That James Comey handing over the memos to a friend --

CUOMO: Well, Rosenstein triggered the special counsel.

HABERMAN: That's not true. Yes. The memos were part of it, but the fact that the president fired Comey in what the deputy attorney general clearly was concerned with, at least partly politically motivated, partly personally motivated, all of that is what triggered --

CAMEROTA: Sure, sure. You just heard James Comey there say, "I had hoped" --

CUOMO: To push.

CAMEROTA: "-- to trigger something by releasing these."


CAMEROTA: Because he was so alarmed by what he had already heard.

HABERMAN: Sure. But I mean, I think that again this always goes back -- the president is very good at winnowing things down to the act and trying to get us to kind of fight on those terms. He has been more successful than I think people realize at setting the terms of debate of the coverage of what he does.

But the reality is that, as the Comey memos present, and as all of our independent reporting showed at the time, that collectively there were many reasons that people were concerned about.

CUOMO: Rosenstein pulled the trigger on this.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

CUOMO: And that was -- this was Trump's guy.

You know what's impressive to me about this? Not that he once again -- how can you not know how to spell "counsel" with "special counsel" when you've written about it so many times, Mr. President? You know, take a beat, you know, realize what words you're putting down there. Your words matter. How can somebody who has --

CAMEROTA: It's Twitter.

CUOMO: Well, I mean, at this point how many times has he written about Jim Comey and the special counsel. He still misspells it?

What I'm saying is somebody who has the best information in the world about all of this stuff, right -- we don't even come close -- he is always going off what he hears in the media about this.


CUOMO: Jim Comey says, "You know, I really wanted to give it a push." You know? He's kind of -- he's kind of boosting himself anyway, right? It's part of his book tour. He knows that it was his firing, not what he did.

But the president picks up on what the guy says as part of his book tour, and that's more important than all the information he could have about this investigation from the people doing it.

HABERMAN: As you both know, he comes to conclusions, and then he looks for information that can back that up. So his watching television, he's watching these interviews, he's watching FOX News, and he has decided that Comey is corrupt and this is all wrong, and, "Look, that's what points to it." And --

CUOMO: He's living the dream, this man. All the dreams that we've had of "great to know for sure." He's always a phone call away, for sure.


CUOMO: And yet he goes on what he sees on FOX.

HABERMAN: Can't control what -- that information that he's getting, you know, from his actual government. It's much easier to try to control what people are saying through your Twitter feed.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, stick around, if you would. We have many more questions for you.

So can President Trump escape the cloud of the Russia investigation as he faces this critical week of diplomacy? Maggie Haberman has some thoughts on that next.


[06:17:09] CUOMO: All right. This is a very big week for the president of the United States. There's a lot of diplomacy to be done. He is taking aim at his enemies and critics in more than two dozen tweets, but he's got a lot on his plate. Today Mr. Trump hosts French President Emanuel Macron in his first official state visit of this presidency.

So let's bring back Maggie Haberman. Let's deal with the substance, and then we'll get to the style or lack thereof. These are big-ticket items that he has with Macron. What do we know about what is needed to be accomplished, at least in terms of dialog?

HABERMAN: What Macron is hoping for is to try to convince the president to change his approach to the Iran nuclear deal. He does not want to see the U.S. pull out with sort of no thought to everybody else who is in it with no greater thought to the consequences.

Troops in Syria is another major item. I mean, the president there, we know what president thinks about the Iran nuclear deal. And we do not expect that his mind is going to be swayed by Macron, but it could be. Macron is someone with whom he has developed a really, really good relationship overall. Macron has worked at it. Macron has seen that there are potential benefits for him at home that have not really materialized so far, based on the polls.

But he has his own reasons for trying a certain level of diplomacy with this president. Again, this president, while we know that we have lots of people arguing throughout 2017 that could change his mind on the Iran deal, that is not what happened.

He went back to where -- what his default was from the campaign. I have no reason from everyone I've spoken to, expect that that is going to change, but this is someone who changes his mind sometimes, depending on who he's talking to. And I think that is the hope.

On Syria, again, we don't have a clear sense of what U.S. policy is here. So I think that, in addition to the French president trying to approach this with the U.S. president, we are going to get real-time details, depending on what Trump says. It is going to be another example of trying to get Trump to commit to something before either he has necessarily talked to his own government about it or until there's been any notification to the press about it.

We had the strikes recently in Syria, but that has yet to amount to something more holistic about a plan.

CAMEROTA: In case you haven't seen it for a while, we have to replay the epic handshake between Macron and Trump, because it's so much better than you even remember. It lasts a really long time. There, President Trump pulls him in, almost knocks him off. Then it turns into a three-person handshake, as you're about to see, with Macron's wife. It's just -- it's so good. And the point is, Maggie, of all of this, as we watch this.


CAMEROTA: Is you were saying there have been benefits from Macron at home.

HABERMAN: Or could be.

CAMEROTA: There could be. But couldn't there also be pitfalls. I mean, not that Donald Trump is popular in Europe or popular in France, so --


CAMEROTA: -- is Macron taking a risk by partnering with Donald Trump?

HABERMAN: He absolutely is. And his own poll numbers are not particularly strong enough to withstand the sense that he is basically cozying up to a president who is pretty globally unpopular. I mean, there are -- there are downsides, especially if he goes in trying to change this president's mind on the Iran deal, and he gets nothing. That is -- that is risky.

CUOMO: The French politics, just remind me, because we are deep into it early on. Macron came in as a moderate. Right? There is a populist movement, though, there. HABERMAN: Across Europe and France is part of it.

CUOMO: We see France as somewhat of a test case of real endemic challenges, assimilating refugees, assimilating Muslims in there and not doing it well. That was a play from Macron early on, right, that Trump taps into that, but it just hasn't been manifested yet.

So we have the possible what might happen with France. Now we have with North Korea, what Trump is saying already did happen.

HABERMAN: And didn't.

CUOMO: Which is -- and that's the key part. So he is saying, through Twitter, of course, that North Korea has agreed to no more testing, to denuclearize. And you're saying he's a little bit more hope than he is history on this.

HABERMAN: Right. So if you look at last part of that tweet, where he says no more testing, I think it is no more testing before the meeting. It does not mean no more testing until the end of time.

Kim Jong-un has stopped short of saying that he would denuclearize. He is not -- he is not giving up the arsenal. He has not, in any way, indicated that he is going to. What he has done is sort of cursory steps around talks, and the fear for the -- look, on the one hand, if the president could get -- if the U.S. president could get a deal here that would be meaningful and durable, that would, obviously, be a huge deal.

On the other hand, what people who have worked on the issue of North Korea for a very long time warn him, is among other things, our intelligence about North Korea is not terrific. It's not as great as it is in other areas of the world. The fear is that Trump is going to elevate Kim Jong-un. He's going to legitimize him by a direct meeting and then, basically, get played. And we know that this is not a president who likes hearing that he might be getting played. But there are reasons to be concerned that there are going to be sort of offers of what could happen that are tantalizing, and then they get yanked away and then the U.S. has nothing.

CAMEROTA: So, as Chris can tell you, Maggie, I like a good body language segment, and I think that we should study this next photograph for all that it says.


CAMEROTA: Because it speaks a thousand words.

HABERMAN: This is the funeral of Barbara Bush. And you see, obviously, President Bush, her husband there in the front. And then in the back, there's all sorts of interesting alliances here. Melania and, obviously, Michelle Obama right next to each other. And then Hillary, you know, George W. Bush's arm around Hillary. Bill Clinton trying to make sure that he's in the picture behind them.

And then, you know, the person who's absent, of course, is Donald Trump. And it has been pointed out that he was busy sending out 24 tweets while the rest of the, you know, living presidents -- well, most of them, were here at the funeral. What do you see in this picture?

HABERMAN: I mean, A, I see his wife, I see the first lady looking extremely happy and smiling pretty broadly, which we often don't see her doing in public. I think that she really worked to make a gesture toward Barbara Bush. She brought two members of the -- I think -- one retired, one current from the White House residence staff, who she knows that Barbara Bush had been close with, because she was trying to show something genuine about Barbara Bush.

And in that moment, President Trump was tweeting and turning everything into something about himself. As I understand it from people who attended the funeral, his tweets were talked about at the funeral. It created a stir among people.

I think if you are President Trump, as we know, he likes to watch TV a lot, and I don't think this Saturday was an exception. Saturday, which was a day that the rest of the political world came together and this club of former presidents, which is a pretty small club, who know what that is like, had some common bond. And there he was, isolated.

I've been thinking throughout this conversation, about the difference between this president and the presidency, what you're going to see this week in terms of the state dinner, in terms of Angela Merkel's visit, that is the presidency. What you saw on Saturday with the tweets, that's the president.

CUOMO: Is there any precedent for a president to not go to a funeral like this?

HABERMAN: There is. There is. I think --

CUOMO: That's what they say, is the reason Melania went and not him, the reason he's not in the picture is because this is a normal protocol?

CAMEROTA: For security reasons. Don't want to overshadow, he said.

HABERMAN: There are absolutely legitimate reasons to not go. I don't think that President Obama went to Nancy Reagan's funeral, for instance.

CUOMO: See? There it is.

HABERMAN: But I think that this spared everyone the discomfort if he had wanted to go, dealing with it. You know, President H.W. Bush is not -- is not young, and the obvious question becomes what happens when he passes away? I don't think the Bush family is eager to have President Trump there, and how you deal with that is going to be sticky.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, great to talk to you.

HABERMAN: Thank you. CAMEROTA: Happy Monday.

CUOMO: Third-rate. Congrats on the Pulitzer, by the way, for what it's worth.

HABERMAN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Odd offset.

All right. A massive manhunt in Tennessee for the gunman, really madman, who shot and killed four people at a Waffle House restaurant. What we know in a live report about what was wrong with this person and how they got that gun. Next.


[06:29:21] CUOMO: All right. Story to pay attention to, a massive manhunt is intensifying in Tennessee for the man on your screen right now. Police say this person shot and killed four people, injured several others, at a Waffle House restaurant. It comes as we're hearing from the man who wrestled the gun away from the shooter. An amazing tale of heroism.

CNN's Diane Gallagher, live in Antioch, Tennessee, with more. What do we know this morning?

DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it's been more than 24 hours since anybody last saw 29-year-old Travis Reinking. About 30 minutes, an hour after police say that he came into this Waffle House, opened fire in the parking lot, continued shooting inside the restaurant, killing four people, injuring four others.

The city, the communities around here, are really on high alert right now. There's no better way to say it. You still have more than 80 police officers who are combing the area. They're working with ATF. They're working with the FBI, and there has still been no sign of this shooter.