tv New Day CNN October 19, 2017 4:00am-5:00am PDT
bad for politics. bad for our military. >> i haven't even received letters. >> trying to create something that the congresswoman is doing is frankly appall stpwhrg it was received a certain way by the family. apologize and go on. >> the white house is being evasive about niger. >> we don't have the facts yet. >> no reason why sergeant johnson was left behind. >> there is a story here that the american people deserve to know. >> how we lost four service members is and how they were ambushed, the president has to explain that to the congress. >> this is "new day" with chris cuomo and alisyn camerota. >> good morning again and welcome to your "new day". president trump denying he offended the grieving family of a fallen soldier. but the mother of army sergeant la david johnson says the president did disrespect her family in his condolence call.
nowors are speaking about. >> mattis is demanding answers about the ambush in niger that killed johnson and three other soldiers. cnn has new reporting so we will share what we have learned about this tragedy. joe johns is live at the white house with us. hi, joe. >> reporter: hi, alisyn. president trump and the family of the fallen soldier intensifying their war of words over the language the president used during the condonelce fall raising the question if the white house had been better off if the president said nothing at all. >> didn't say what the congresswoman said. didn't say it at all. >> reporter: president trump defending his conversation with the widow of u.s. army sergeant la david johnson. >> i had a very nice conversation with the woman -- with the wife, who sounded like
a lovely woman. >> reporter: insisting democratic congresswoman frederica wilson fabricated her account what he said and vowed he has proof. >> i did hear him saying i'm sure he knew what he was signing up for, but it still hurts. she was crying. she broke down. and she said he didn't even know his name. >> reporter: wilson standing firm with sergeant johnson's grieving mother backing the story telling the "washington post" that the president disrespected her son. the white house press secretary admitting the president did not record the call and stopping short of denying the president's words but said the chief of staff john kelly was with the president when he called the widow. >> he thought that the president did the best job he could under those circumstances to offer cole dough lenses on behalf of the country. >> kelly is disgusted by the way the media politicized the deaths but president trump who falsely
claimed that president obama did not call the families of fallen soldiers and then tried to bolster the argument with the death of his son. >> mr. trump has his way of dealing with things that i see as inconsistent with what some of his predecessors have done and how they have treated it. >> reporter: kelly did tell mr. trump that president obama never called him after his son died. kelly was caught off guard by the president using that information publicly. the controversy growing after mr. trump insisted he called all the families killed during his presidency. >> i have called every one of them. >> reporter: but widow of army sergeant jonathan hunter said she never heard from the president. >> i don't like that i was told that i would receive the phone call but then i never did. my husband died for our country. and i don't want that to have been in vain. >> reporter: other 2k3w08d star families like dylan balancdridg
offering an account of her account with the president. >> reporter: they mailed the check on wednesday only after the story was published. the white house hasn't offered a lot of answers as to why it didn't issue a statement after the deaths of the soldiers in niger. a national security council statement was put together but the white house opted not to issue that statement opting instead for sarah sanders to deliver it podium here in the
briefing room. the idea was that the statement would be more powerful coming her. chris? joe, no question a lot of tortured spin and ugly politics coming out of this pressure. good news as well. defense secretary mattis is demanding answers on that deadly ambush in niger. four u.s. troops lost their lives. why? senator john mccain said 9 trump administration is being up front about the investigation. barbara starr has that part of the story at the pentagon. what do we know now. >> good morning, chris. we all understand this is why america has green berets, why they have -- there are special operations forces. these troops go into areas that are high risk. it is what they do, what the nation asks them to do. but there are key questions. let's look at what we do know about the military situation. what we know is this 12-man team, lead by green berets, walked into an ambush by bias
his, about 50 eyes us fighters. how did they not know isis was there? the intelligence not accurate. they had been told, according to all the sources we talked to, that it was unlikely they would run into any kind of on opposition force and of course they did. once they did, a firefight breaks out. they are in a country, niger, in west africa. that country, u.s. officials say, does not allow air strikes. when french aircraft rolled to to try and help, all they could do is fly low to try to scare isis fighters off. nothing kinetic to help out the troops on the ground. all of that is some of the key questions now being looked at. new fact today. we have learned that there was a civilian aircraft that came in to conduct evacuation of the dead and the wounded along with french military aircraft. so a big question is was there sufficient communication?
did they know how many people were on the ground that they needed to get out. the remaining question, what happened to sergeant la david johnson? how did he get left behind? alisyn, chris? obviously that is the most heartbreaking, lingering question. barbara, thank you very much. let's bring in our pam. cnn military analyst colonel steve lauren and army brigadier general anthony tata, the author of the book "besieged." great to have boat of you and expertise with us. there is protocol once soldiers are lost and what happened and if we're getting enough information. colonel, i want to start with you for a second. you said you have been heartbroken watch this play out between the president and sergeant johnson's family about this condolence call which for whatever reason the family thought was insensitive. how do you see this? >> it is heartbreaking to watch
it play out. the family of a fallen should never feel slighted, never under any circumstances. our job as the government, as supporters, as americans is to wrap our arms around that family in their time of grief. that's our on only job with them. and failing to do that in one way or another, for he that family to feel they haven't been embraced saddens me. to watch all of this feud play out so tvs that broken my heart. men and women who have written a check to the united states of america payable up to and include with their lives. what we owe them and their families is the support they need when the worst happens. >> very quickly, what should the president have done differently? >> you know, these are the hardest things to do.
a grieving widow, there is no script for that. you have to speak in a way they will understand and a way to help or at least try to soothe that grief. there is no script for it. you have to use your in tuition and try to make them feel better colonel general, the white house respects you. what is your advice to them? you have fox news going after the congresswoman saying she went against vets. we see where this is going. what is your advice on what he said or what he didn't say? >> any time you politicize this kind of thing, it is is not good. bad news gets worse with age. get the information out there right away and make sure that the american people understand what happened and say, look, this is an incomplete report and we're going to update it as we go. >> they have not been forth coming enough on your timeline you would say? >> i would say, alisyn, that's
right. should have gotten the information out there quicker. the phone call should have been made quicker. there is nothing more sack row sanct as someone who lost troops in combat than how on solemn it is to make that phone call, as the colonel just said. thief made their life. the family should be embraced. all families. should families feel embraced. some did not. we should quit politicizing this. this is sacrosanct. our fallen are sacred to us. our families are sacred to us. i'm still in touch with families of soldiers that were lost under my command because that's how sacred it is to me and i'm sure to the thousands of other commanders that have lost men and women in combat. >> the problem we're getting
inning here is the passion of the president to go after those who criticize him, we know it. it is obvious. we're not seeing equal passion about talking about the isis affiliated fighters that just took out four troops. this is the largest loss of life at the hands of an enemy we have had in the trump administration. it comes again, at the rivet of isis who he is the focus of this administration in terms of beating them back. why aren't they taking this on and telling us what happened and why it happened? >> there is no excuse frankly. this is what the conversation should be about. we need to understand what's happening in africa strategically why do we have, and there is a good case for and against putting troops in africa to keep isis at bay. that is something that should be discussed. operationally, did these troops, were there enough there? did they have enough equipment? what about casualty. and tactically. finally at the lowest level what actually happened on the ground that day? who was firing bullets against
who? >> especially when you hear this report, colonel, that la david johnson may have been left behind. give us some sense of context how that happens. we know the motto no man left behind. what can happen in situations like this? what do you have? >> chris, a firefight is something unlike anything else in human experience. it's scary. it's hot. it's dangerous. there's screaming. there's blood. it is a terrible event. and i can see how in this confusion someone can be separated. now, this happens. there is intense pressure. there is 50 enemy forces bearing down on the smaller force of u.s. and the troops from niger. they were overwhelmed. they drove directly into an ambush, a kill sack. that is the worst possible situation you can find yourself in. with the pressure being so hard, with the confusion being so intense, someone can get separated. we have a motto no left behind.
they went back and found the remains of one of their members. >> it sounds like what information cnn has been able to glean from sources, though the white house hasn't disclosed it, is operationally and intelligencewise, things went wrong here. so that does need to be looked at. this might be a bigger issue. >> well, six months on the ground, al sip. we have 29 controls conducted previously. it's not a clear combat zone. green berets conducting defense, train and assist. maybe it was one patrol too many. the enemy had been gathering. and intelligence assets probably are not as strong as they need to be in that area. i'm sure that's being fixed right away. and we're trying to get a fix on where this enemy is and who they are. and secretary mattis ordered an
inquiry is what they're calling it. we do this after action reviews, inquiries after action ear views. what went right, what went wrong, how do we fix it. it is a quick decision loop. because the patrol is going to be back out there. it is not like they are going to stop. we have to continue to engage. if it was important enough for u.s. forces to be there to be trying to win the hearts and minds, to try to bridge that gap there, then it is important enough certainly for us to learn the lessons and continue to keep the pressure on. >> and you gave a good early on. bad news gets worse with time and breeds a concern that there was intent to conceal. that's why we want to know everything as soon as we can. general, thank you very much. colonel, you as well. appreciate it. bad news gets worse with time. that plays out with the next thing we're covering as well. attorney general jeff sessions in the hot seat. he says he never had an
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attorney general jeff sessions in the hot seat defending his integrity. sessions got into heated exchanges specifically with senator al franken. the subject was his testimony during his confirmation hearing. you remember that. but he said he haven't been in contact with russians. he was in fact, in contact with russians. here's a little taste. >> that's very different not being able to recall wh-- what u discussed with him is very different than saying i have not had communications with the russians. the ambassador from russia is russian. >> i conducted no improper discussions with russians at any time regarding a campaign or any other item facing this country. >> mr. chairman, i don't have to sit in here and listen to his -- >> you're the one who -- >> without having a chance to
respond. give me a break. >> let's bring in our cnn political analyst john avalon and karoun. what was the net plus/minous sessions's day in the chair? it. >> was not revealing. he stonewalled on most details with trump, invoking executive privilege. here's a former colleague, member of this committee. he really was on the hot seat. he felt personally injured about questions whether he was part of a russia facade. there is a lot of bad blood. he is not being forth coming on questions being asked by the committee. >> it is true that the russian ambassador is russian. >> that was revery revealing. >> very insightful. so many people on the campaign and they felt from public
statements they were able to discuss something relevant. so they didn't disclose when they met with russians. >> which is what led to all the suspicion. sessions early exchange back in january when he was being vetted is what started this snowball rolling down the hill. ed administration is playing things as close to the chest as possible. they want to push everything they can. you saw exchanges about what do you think is the difference between -- i don't know. what is the legal standard. what is the full truth of what happened and what you could be disclosing. multiple times he was stooping short of saying an no and i don't recall. he is trying not to get in the same position before where he had to back talk himself.
he is still having to back talk what he meant on that january meeting. two senators are not happy with that and pushing for? probe. we are in a far more highly politicized environment now than we were then on what the trump campaign and transition teams connections to russian officials were. but that is the back drop for this. that is the central tension between the democrats and the a.t. yesterday. >> there is this ugly irony at play. there is so much grist for the mill on both side. you have the meetings with that the left is particularly concerned about. you have russian contributions, that the right is countering right now. the reason for both of these is russia does so much nefarious stuff here. that takes us to the big admission yesterday which is we're not dealing enough. we have sound on that too,
right? let's play it. >> do you think we're enough to prepare for future interference by russia and other foreign adversaries in the information place? >> probably not. we're not. and the matter is so complex that for most of us we're not able to fully grasp the continue dangers that are out there. >> part of the complexity, john, is a little simple. this president, this administration doesn't have its hands around the meddling because of the con tphraeugz of what russia did and any collusion. they're not in any hurry. >> this is something that should feel objective urgency behind it. because they feel was implicated in the investigation they're feeling unwilling or unable to get aggressive about protecting our critical infrastructure in
which our democratic debates is key. this is the third administration that has known cyber security is a real issue. we have russian or interference in our election. there is a response to secure our critical in extrainfrastruc. >> people are focus on the wrong adjective. ys, it is complicated. ys, it is a new thing. but russia is able to do so much with so little. this is twitter, facebook. they are not completely all encompassing of servers. so the ability to recognize something eluded a lot of government agencies supposed to be focused on this problem and that gives us an approach.
>> next topic also complicated, health care. a bipartisan effort, as you know. senators alexander and patty murray thought we would come up with something the president liked. tuesday he sounded as though he liked this compromise. listen to this. >> i'm pleased the democrats have responded for my call for them to take responsibility for the obamacare disaster and work with republicans to provide much needed relief to the american people. while commend the work done by senators alexander and murray, and i do commend it, i continue to believe congress must find a solution to the obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies. >> okay. so less than i think an hour later. i think it was that fast. it might have been a little bit longer. the president backtracked and
blamed the democrats and said they're to blame for this whole mess. john, what are we to talk from this? >> inside from the in ability for the president to remain constant -- >> one of them was a tweet. that the his head. >> right. >> and the other ones, you see his eyes, he's readin a prepared statement. those might have been someone else's thoughts. >> look, the idea that this is d.o.a. a capitol hill because conservatives want it to be, let's not simply accept that. the plan they put together is about stabilizing the markets. bipartisan group governors. hickenlooper, charlie baker, sapped val are all saying focus on the bipartisan solution. they are focused on helping people, not the hyper partisan
kabuki on capitol hill. they are the voices of reason. >> and you also have a tick tock issue. insurance companies may not have time to readjust rates but not getting the subsidies that may spike premiums. time matters also. >> time is up for us. sorry, karoun, we will give you one last time. >> she told me what i just said. >> thank you guys very much. meanwhi meanwhile, from the is defending that condo lens call. a gold star brother, what he wants the president to know as he makes though calls. that's next. whoooo.
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nearly asseight years ago. steven bishop joins us now. thank you so much for being here. obviously you have lived through this heartbreak yourself. what has it been like to watch this spat play out between sergeant johnson's family and the president? >> i kind of find it unbelievable that this is even happening to another gold star family. >> what do you wish would happen? where did this fall apart? where did this go wrong in your mind? >> in my mind, and just going back from, you know, my experience when i met with president obama, there's a way to address the families. and, you know, in my opinion, it's a very simple way of just
offering sincere condolences. that didn't seem to happen in this case. >> we have a picture of you meeting with president obama after your brother was killed. can you tell us about this moment? i know president obama surprised your family. >> yes. we went down to dover when the soldiers were being transferred back to the united states soil. we only found out a couple hours before we were due to go to the airport that he would be there. we were all kind of taken by surprise. >> i mean, it's a remarkable story because your brother was killed. and you went for the dignified transfer. you didn't know that the president would be there. just explain the power, the power of any president.
it is not about represent or democrat. it is the president of the united states and seeing him there at that ceremony for your brother and what that did for your family. >> it definitely offered us some comfort to know that he was there. basically what happened, all the families were in a large room. he came in. he addressed everyone. very somber, soft spoken. he spoke to us all in that room as a group. and he spends probably the next hour and a half to maybe two hours talking to every single person in that room. >> tell us about your brother keith and his sacrifice. >> my brother joined the army a couple months after 9/11.
i was at my mother's house when 9/11 happened. as everyone was, we were all in disbelief. my brother, on the other hand, was extremely angry that this had happened. while everyone else was in shock, he was walking around slamming doors. and he wanted to do something. and that is eye why he enlisted right after september 11th. >> having lived through this as you have and having had the power of a president coming and showing his sympathy, we should say president obama didn't call all the families either. there seems to be a lot of different etiquette and protocol in terms of presidents and their discretion and how they choose to recognize this loss. since you had such a powerful experience what is your advice for president trump going forward? >> my advice for president trump
going forward is really simple. it's not that hard to express condolences to somebody. just something to simple as i'm sorry for your loss. we thank your service member for their service and their sacrifice. a gold star family member should not walk, after the conversation, should not feel worse after that conversation. >> that makes sense. it will be eight years this month you lost your brother. we are seeing pictures of him and how handsome he looks in his uniform there and obviously what your family did in making the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. we thank you. thank you so much for telling your story on "new day". >> thank you. >> chris? all right. so big news that isis is out of
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to combat russia's election interference. take a listen. >> do you think we're doing enough to prepare for future interference by russia and other foreign adversaries in the information space? >> probably not. we're not. and the matter is so complex that for most of us we're not able to fully grasp the technical tkarpgs that are out there. >> joining us now is janet napolita napolitano, president of the university of california. good to have you with us as always. is that true? if so, why? >> we don't know the full extent of russian interference in our elections. and we have no confidence to the degree we discovered what they have done that they stopped doing it. so this is one instance where i think i must agree with the attorney general. >> what are the obstacles to combatting this problem? we have known about it for a
long time. you can go back through administrations. they will say this is what the u.s. does. you know it's there. why can't you stop it? >> it is is, as the attorney general said, difficult and complex. were the russians directly hacking into state voter files? we need to know that. what was their degree of manipulation on social media? that's only now coming out. so, again, there was a lot going on. it's now becoming public. and we have no confidence that it's been stopped. >> fair criticism that politics plays a role here whether it was the obama administration decision to not go bigger with what they learned about election interference during the campaign itself or now the trump administration in the form of the president himself having a hard time separating election interference from questions about collusion in his campaign.
>> there is always a political kwroef lay with washington, d.c. what i think the american people need to be concerned about is the degree of actual russian interference in a fundamental tenet of our democracy, which is our vote. >> you speak with your voice in terms of how you vote and who you put in there to do it. but do you think this can be combatted to a point of mainstream satisfaction? >> one would hope so. and certainly in terms of the integrity of the actual voting systems themselves, i think there are things the secretaries of states across the country can do to make the voting systems pregnant tphabl. the actual social media overlay on this, much more complicated to combat. >> let's talk about another difficult issue to combat. daca, deferred action. president obama put it in. you were there to execute that law, that policy in terms of
what we do with the dreamers. now you have a lawsuit. there is a fundamental political question which the right defines as do you warn people who get here legally and what do you do with the productive people here in society or make them citizens. where are you on it and how is this a lawsuit? >> well, first of all, i was there during daca. it was actually executed via memoranda that i signed to members of the department. >> right. >> and we did daca because because these young people are caught between a rock and a hard place. they were brought to the united states as young children. the average age is 6 when they were brought to the united states. they have done everything we have asked of them. at the university of california we think we have 4,000
undocumented students. the overwhelming majority are in daca. we sued the trump administration for repeal of the policy. we contend that it violated the due process clause of the constitution. and we seek to vindicate those rights in the courts. >> on a very simple basis for the uninitiated, the argument against your lawsuit would be? from the beginning. they came here illegally. they're illegal. this is a nation of laws, as the president keeps saying. and they violated the law. >> well, that means you need to understand daca is deferred action. and what we did in the obama administration is to say that young people who met certain criteria, clean criminal records in school, in the military, et cetera who were brought here as
young people that we would deferred action on any impression violation which by deferring action also gave them work authorization. and so it's not as if we erased the immigration laws. we deferred action under the law. >> the deferred action meant no action. they got to stay here and that encouraged more to come in illegally and have kids to anchor and have a life in america and subvert the system. >> there is absolutely no data to support daca was a magnet for illegal immigration. in fact, the numbers show illegal immigration to the country is at its lowest point in tkbg aids. >> i need a take from you. we have the president of the university of florida coming on. they have the alt-right speaker. you have been criticized with
how the university of california dealt with free speech. what is your answer on whether or not spencer should have a right to speak. >> well, as abhorrent as he is, he is entitled to free speech just like at berkeley a few weeks ago, in order to protect the right to free speech even abhorrent or hate speech has to pay for the extra security. that is the rock and hard place the universities are put between. >> do you think universities are trending liberal and silences speech they don't like from the political right? >> no, i don't. what we have been trying to do at the university of california is to protect the right to free speech but protect the safety and security of our campuses. >> all right. secretary napolitano, appreciate
it. chris, isis fighters have been pushed on it of raqqa. now cnn goes inside the headquarters of the terror network. we have a live report from raqqa next. ers. geezer. geyser. geezer. geyser. enough. geezer. whoaa, wooooo. dude, be careful. i think you should come camping. why would i camp in the atacama desert? oh... 3x points on travel and restaurants on every continent. sapphire reserve, from chase. make more of what's yours. kyle, we talked about this. there's no monsters. but you said they'd be watching us all the time. no, no. no, honey, we meant that progressive would be protecting us 24/7. we just bundled home and auto and saved money. that's nothing to be afraid of. -but -- -good night, kyle. [ switch clicks, door closes ] ♪ i told you i was just checking the wiring in here, kyle. he's never like this. i think something's going on at school.
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>> customer: really?! >> singers: safelite repair, safelite replace. abhorrent. u.s.-backed forces driving isis out of raqqa. let's take a look at what has happened in the past three years there. here's raqqa in 2014. you can see the isis terrorists parading through the city center declaring their headquarters, and now the u.s. backed forces are parading around. arwa, tell us everything you are
seeing. >> reporter: you were talking about the different stages of raqqa and what it has been through. this is the cost of trying to push isis out of a city. the shear scale of the devastation is almost overwhelming. you don't see any pieces of the lives families have left behind. everything has been completely decimated. this square right now, right now you see the flags of the syrian democratic forces, and this is where isis used to carry out its executions and beheadings in public and would face the head of the victims on the spikes for a reminder to anybody that might be walking by of what their fate would be should they decide to try and defy isis command and rule. it will at least take three months to clear raqqa of all of the various different explosives that isis has left behind. at the same time, they are still going after small pockets of
fighters who they say are hiding out in the rubble. they describe it as being a multilayer battlefield. you had the fighting in the skies, and i am not talking about air strikes necessarily, but both sides were using drones filled with explosives and grenades to drop them on each other, and then you had the level of the fight that you can see, what happened on the ground, and then you had the underground fight, this complex of funnel systems that isis would dig throughout the city, and a lot of times they would go into a building thinking it was clear and isis fighters would pop out from somewhere completely unexpected. the fighters are exhausted but very proud of how far they have been able to come. especially, it must be said, the women fighters. they say isis were so beautiful towards women, the square that i
was just talking about is where the open sex slave market, and they take particular pride in knowing they took such a big part in driving isis out. >> it took everybody, and the hope is they will keep it and that leads us to the question of where is the leadership, what is the word on the ground about where al baghdadi and others, where have they fled to? >> reporter: the logic is abu bakr al baghdadi and the senior leadership of isis fled raqqa a long time ago. the talk is they are hold up, or out near the yao frayedy river.
if abu bakr al baghdadi is killed, that doesn't mean the end of isis, and not an end to the ideology and that's what needs to be addressed at this stage. you look at history, osama bin laden was killed, and isis previous leaders and previous leaders were killed, and time and time again the organization was able to re-invent itself into something more brutal. a lot of people are talking about the importance of stopping the next phase of isis emerging from the ashes from these battles. >> it's amazing to listen to your words and look at the landscape behind you, and it's
just rubble. how are they going to rebuild that city? >> reporter: that's going to be one of the key factors here. where do you even begin, when this is cleared in three or four months time, and civilians can come back. there's hardly a building in the city that has not been destroyed by this fighting. you drive through it, and it's so eerie because you don't see any people, all you see is destruction, and all you have is your own imagination to try and begin to comprehend what it is that they went through. on the more practical side, there's a raqqa civil council that has been established and they say they have the beginnings of a plan and realize they need to come in and clear the rubble and getting basic services up and running and getting kids back into school, but who is going to pay for all of this. they have had pledges from
international donors, but nothing concrete has materialized. and putting kids back into school, and these are children that have known nothing but the isis way of life for five years, and all they know is violence and trauma, and if we want to break the cycle of violence and trauma, these kids need to be shown a different way of life. >> we have seen that challenge met and failed many times in the past in that region. arwa, you and your team are the first ones on the ground showing the u.s. viewers the reality in raqqa, and please stay safe and thank you for being there. there's a lot of news this morning. let's get after it. >> some of the things that have taken place in the last 48 hours
have not given respect to the family members. >> it's appalling the way the congresswoman has politicized this issue. >> what is important is what the president says now, and it's up to him to try and move us forward. >> i am asking for a classified briefing about exactly what happened in niger. >> there are so many questions that have not been answered. >> this might wind up to be mr. trump's benghazi. >> nobody should be quiet about demanding answers. >> this is "new day" with chris cuomo and alisyn camerota. >> welcome to your "new day." it's thursday, october 19th, 8:00 in the east. up first, president trump denies he said anything offensive
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