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Paranoia Inside the White House; Corsi Subpoenaed by Mueller; Op-Ed Tests Trump's Paranoia. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 6, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:06] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says he's on the hunt for the resistance in his own administration after this "New York Times" op-ed written by an unnamed senior official who describes an inside effort to keep the president on track and in check. It says in part, to be clear, ours is not the popular resistance of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, good morning.


CAMEROTA: So I've read with interest your response, your reaction to this startling op-ed. You're in full Shakespearean mode. You're just busting out the King Lear references. Can you expound on that for us?

SCHIFF: Well, one of the things that drives Lear mad is that he had all these flatters around him and he suddenly discovers that he isn't the center of the universe, that everything he decides isn't the right decision and he views it as a betrayal. And it just seems to me that it was all too apt for the circumstance.

But, honestly, I think this anonymous op-ed underscores the fundamental conundrum of everyone working in this administration, and that is, how do you ethically serve a deeply unethical president? Some are doing it by resigning. Some are doing it by staying and thinking they can curb his worst impulses. Some are doing it by writing anonymous op-eds. None of it is a perfect answer, but I think this is what we're seeing in the delimit about this op-ed.

CAMEROTA: What do you think the president will do next? Because he has already gone after this author as gutless, as a leaker. He's demanded that "The New York Times" turn over this person, whatever that means. What do you think happens next?

SCHIFF: Well, I worry that it just aggravates his paranoia. The deep state conspiracy theorists among his allies. We're already seeing in his tweets this morning that he is co-mingling things. So there's an effort by some of my GOP colleagues to declassify selectively more information that could reveal sources and methods. The president alluded to that today saying, as a result of this, I might declassify information my intelligence community says could really compromise things. So that's a problem when he lashes out and does so in a way that he basically says, I don't care what anybody tells me, I don't trust anyone around me and this is a fundamental issue here. The president doesn't trust anyone and he's trusted by no one.

CAMEROTA: When you say that you worry that the president is already co-mingling things and you see evidence of that in his Twitter feed, beyond declassifying things, I mean in terms of say foreign policy, obviously Syria is percolating, North Korea is percolating. Do you see those sort of co-mingling?

[08:35:06] SCHIFF: Well, it's certainly possible that, you know, reading the Woodward book or this op-ed, where they make specific references to policy, where, for example, there are comments attributed to him saying we should kill Assad or Mattis saying we're not going to do this or him saying, well, we should just kill more people in Afghanistan, he may push back even harder on these impulses given that he's reading now that people have resisted it and that there's some, in his view, malign purpose in resisting it when, in fact, they're resisting it because they think the president is acting in a way that could really engager the United States.

CAMEROTA: I know it's awkward for me to ask you to speak for your Republican colleagues in Congress, but with the Woodward book, with John McCain's funeral, with this op-ed, do you sense them of them becoming more willing to speak out?

SCHIFF: I don't. Honestly, this is the other thing about the op-ed, I don't think any of my colleagues have any question that this is true. They all recognize the op-ed is true, what's in the Woodward book is true. I mean the quotes may be exact or they may be inexact, but the problem with this president is recognized by everyone who's come into any contact with him and anyone that can see what's going on in this administration. So they don't doubt the facts.

The reason they don't speak out, the reason that they won't speak out is that he still has a base of support in their party, a large base of support in their party, and most of them simply lack courage. Many of them could speak out and could get reelected, but they lack courage. And -- and I don't, frankly, expect that to change a year and a half into this. If they get a sufficiently big drubbing at the polls, though, then maybe they'll begin to find their voice.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about what's happening with the Mueller investigation because the Mueller team is calling an interesting witness tomorrow, Jerome Corsi. He's a renowned conspiracy theorist. He just peddles the most repugnant junk. And they think that he may have some connection to Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, et cetera. Did you all talk to Jerome Corsi in connection with your investigation into all of this?

SCHIFF: We did not. We did, obviously, bring Roger Stone before our committee. We wanted further information and we still do. And there are a lot of questions that have been raised since his testimony about whether he testified truthfully before our committee. I would like to share those transcripts with Bob Mueller, but the Republicans refuse on our committee. They seem to want to protect witnesses who may have committed perjury before the committee. I don't understand why they would do so when this is essentially flouting the Congress of the United States.

But, nonetheless, this is one of the things that I hope that we can do if the Congress changes hands, that we can provide this material, not only to special counsel, but we can make it available to the public.

CAMEROTA: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, we always appreciate you coming on. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, what will the revelations of the last 48 hours do to President Trump's, you might say, impulsive nature? Ahead, we're going to speak to the co-author of "The Art of the Deal." Someone who knows or knew the president very well.

Stay with us.


[08:42:12] BERMAN: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, President Trump is demanding that "The New York Times" turn over the author of a so-called resistance op-ed to the federal government. In it, an unnamed senior official describes how, quote, adults in the room are covertly working to keep an amoral and reckless president in check.

CAMEROTA: Day three of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He spent 12 hours testifying Wednesday with Democrats challenging him on presidential powers and abortion rights.

BERMAN: North Korea's Kim Jong-un telling South Korean -- telling a South Korean delegation he has unwavering trust for President Trump and wants to denuclearize within the president's tenure. The president thanked Kim in a tweet this morning. The two Koreas will meet for a third summit later this month.

CAMEROTA: A landmark ruling in India. Its high court decriminalizing gay sex among consenting adults, which had carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. The decision overturns more than 150 years of anti- LGBT legislation.

BERMAN: In 2018.

Colin Kaepernick will appear during tonight's NFL season opener. Not on the field. The former quarterback's new Nike commercial will air tonight. It also features LeBron James and Serena Williams.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the very latest.

CAMEROTA: All right, so President Trump's phone call to Bob Woodward, what was going on during this phone call? We're going to play the audio for you and we're going to hear from the man who worked closely with the president on his own memoir 30 years ago.


[08:47:51] CAMEROTA: All right, in the nearly 20 months President Trump has been in office, we have seen some of his say paranoid style and his loyalty tested time and again. Perhaps the greatest test coming this week with this damning op-ed in "The New York Times," now from an unnamed senior official in his administration.

So, what will the president do as a result?

Joining us now is someone who knows him well, Donald Trump's co-author on "The Art of the Deal," Tony Schwartz.

Tony, great to have you. You always give us a window into Donald Trump's mind.

Let's start with this stunning op-ed, OK, from someone inside the administration.

When this hit -- when this news hit yesterday, you saw President Trump beginning his counter narrative. He was meeting with a group of sheriffs. He was calling the person gutless and he was explaining all of the accomplishments that he should be lauded for. So let me just play for everyone that moment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody has done what this administration's done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through. An article was just printed, just came out a few minutes ago, Trump breaks the record for budget gridlock wins, scores big win. So for 20 years, it's a 20-year record.


CAMEROTA: What did you see there?

TONY SCHWARTZ, DONALD TRUMP'S CO-AUTHOR, "THE ART OF THE DEAL": I saw two things. One, Trump operates sort of at this point on two tracks. One is intentionally deceitful and the other is deluded. And he moves between them kind of constantly and without any -- without any intention as he does. So the deluded part is seeing the world only in the way that he wants to see it and define it.

CAMEROTA: So just, that article, he's chosen -- he's cherry-picked an article that touts all of his accomplishments and so that's the counter-programming or counter-narrative that he wants everyone to focus on.

SCHWARTZ: It's what he got from Roy Cohn. When you're attacked, attack back harder, never admit anything, deny everything, lie if it's necessary, and that's exactly what he did, except that the stakes keep getting harder -- higher. Harder and higher. In the sense that it's hard to argue that the walls aren't closing in on him right now.

[08:50:22] CAMEROTA: Particularly that this is this one-two punch. So this op-ed follows right on the heel of the big bombshell leaks coming from Bob Woodward's new book.

So one of the fascinating elements of Bob Woodward's book is this phone call that he and President Trump had where Bob Woodward tells him, I sure would have loved to have sat down with you and talked but none of your people were able to make it happen. And President Trump expresses shock that no one told him about this.

So let me -- let me play a couple portions from this audio.


BOB WOODWARD: Yes, I've done books on eight presidents going back from Nixon, Obama.


WOODWARD: And I -- I've learned something about reporting, frankly, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Good.

WOODWARD: And I've got to go talk to people and see them outside of the White House and outside of their offices and gained a lot of insight and documentation. And it's, you know, it's a tough look at the world and your administration and you.

TRUMP: Right. Well, I assume that means it's going to be a negative book, but, you know, I'm some -- I'm sort of 50 percent used to that. That's all right. Some are good and some are bad. Sounds like this is going to be a bad one.

WOODWARD: (INAUDIBLE). It's a chance missed and I don't know how things work over there in terms --

TRUMP: Very well.

WOODWARD: Of getting to you.

TRUMP: Well, if you would call Madelyn (ph) in my office -- did you speak to Madelyn?

WOODWARD: No, I didn't. But I --

TRUMP: Madelyn is the key. She's the secret because she's -- she's the person --

WOODWARD: Well, I talked to Raj about it. I talked to Kellyanne.

TRUMP: Well, a lot of them are afraid to come and talk or, you know, they're busy -- I'm busy. But I don't mind talking to you. I would have spoken to you. I spoke to you 20 years ago. I spoke to you a year and a half or two years ago.

WOODWARD: Well, you should know I (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: And I certainly don't mind talking to you and I wish I could have spoken to you.

WOODWARD: Well, it's --

TRUMP: But, you know, you -- but nobody called my office.


CAMEROTA: Tony, you know that -- you know that side of Donald Trump. What did you hear there?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I have -- I have two views of what might have happened on that call. I think it is possible that -- and I talk a moment ago about the two tracks Trump operates on. So in -- on one track I think Trump genuinely believed that -- or genuinely felt, I didn't know about this, and was trying to make that case. I don't know why you would make it to Woodward. You'd make it to your staff, who you -- who didn't tell you about it.

It is quite possible to me that his staff did keep this from him because we know from Woodward's book itself that they tried to keep from him as they will -- as they are doing right now with the Mueller's desire to interview him, putting him in situations where he could get himself in trouble. So I'm willing to believe that.

On the other hand, at some later point in the call, and you may be about to play this, he acknowledges that Lindsey Graham did tell him about this and just sort of waves it off. So that's the second track. It's just, yes, I know about it, but I don't want to know about it, so I'm not going to -- I'm going to pretend that I don't.

CAMEROTA: Let's play that moment, just for fun. Let's play the Lindsey Graham moment and then we'll talk about what all of this means going forward.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody called my office. I mean you went through, I guess, different people.

BOB WOODWARD: Well, what -- I mean, Mr. President, how can I spend all this time talking to people and -- like Kellyanne and Raj and Republican senators. I mean --

TRUMP: Who were the senators? No, they never called me about it?

WOODWARD: Senator Graham said he had talked to you about talking to me. Now is that not true?

TRUMP: Senator Graham actually mentioned it quickly on one meeting and, you know, and that's -- that is true.



CAMEROTA: That able -- that ability to be able to turn on a dime. No senator's ever talked to me. Lindsey Graham actually did talk to me. That is true.

But don't you hear something -- and this is what I want to get to, Tony, there's something I find -- and, obviously, people can interpret it different ways, endearing about him trying to charm Bob Woodward, trying to be on Bob Woodward's side, I wish I could have spoken to you. This is a different Donald Trump than we hear so often now as President Trump at rallies, et cetera.

SCHWARTZ: It's a blend of a little child looking for love and approval and a dissembler because when he says that about Lindsey Graham, the reason he can turn on a dime is that he is without conscience. And so he can go from, that didn't happen, to, oh, that did happen, as if it's no big deal to acknowledge that he was lying. Only a person without conscience can do that.

[08:55:00] CAMEROTA: So what happens now? Now with this, as we have called it, one-two punch between all of the revelations in the Bob Woodward book, that we know from our reporting that President Trump is quite distressed about and now this op-ed from someone within his administration, how does he respond? What happens next?

SCHWARTZ: You know, I keep thinking the last 24 hours about "House of Cards," which, of course, is no longer here because of Me Too. I mean it's -- these are stories you can't make up. And the house of cards is beginning to play out in a faster and faster fashion. And what happened yesterday seemed extraordinary. What will happen today may seem more extraordinary than what happened yesterday. And tomorrow again.

I think what will -- what is happening, and you can see it in his tweets, you can see it in the language he's using, is that he's more and more isolated. He is at the point -- and I think he would be right to be at this point -- to believe that there's almost no one he can trust -- trust, in other words, to play to his agenda, and he's in big trouble.

CAMEROTA: And then what happens? I mean, quickly, what does he do then?

SCHWARTZ: Listen, the one thing that nobody is talking about when they talk about, well, how is he going to do in 2020, and what's going to happen in the midterms is, Bob Mueller probably has 40 years' worth of crimes that he is going to unfold of Trump's crimes sometime in the next 60 to 120 days that will change this in a -- from the legal perspective in a dramatic way. CAMEROTA: We shall see.

Tony Schwartz, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on listening to the president in the past few days.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow will pick up after this quick break.

John and I will see you tomorrow.