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NEW DAY SATURDAY
North Korea Parades New Missiles Amid Rising Tensions; VP Pence Heading to South Korea Today; Trump Again in Mar-a-Lago as North Korea Tensions Flare. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired April 15, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTINA FITZPATRICK, CNN SPORTS: And finally, that's all we got for today's "Bleacher Report".
[07:00:01] But NBA playoffs all day long. And for the fans that are kind of watch loosely, this is about the time you turn it on.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
FITZPATRICK: It's OK. Watch some basketball. Get into it. It's a fun time of year.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All righty. Thank you so much. Good to see you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a new president and Kim Jong-un is trying to challenge him.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With an administration that is showing he wants to send a message there's a new sheriff in town, we don't know, you know, whether we're making maximum effort to settle this peacefully or not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not relent in our mission to destroy ISIS- K in 2017.
TRUMP: We have given them total authorization, and that's what they're doing.
UINIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that does send the message around the world that America is back.
PAUL: Take a nice deep breath. You made it to Saturday. We're glad that you're with us this morning. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning. North Korea is putting the world on notice. For the first time, it is
showing off what could be those powerful long-range missiles. And as the regime prepares for another possible nuclear test, tensions rather are flaring on the Korean peninsula.
PAUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was on hand you see him there watching this huge military parade that marked the country's biggest holiday today. Analysts say this, though, what you're looking at, never before seen military hardware they believe these mobile canisters could contain the largest intercontinental ballistic missiles ever produced by North Korea.
BLACKWELL: The Trump administration obviously watching this closely as Vice President Mike Pence leaves later this morning for South Korea, the start of an 11-day trip to Asia and to the Pacific. President Trump meanwhile, spending Easter weekend at his resort in Florida.
Aides from the National Security Council are keeping the president briefed on the situation in North Korea.
CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, South Korea.
And North Korea clearly sending a message with these, at least, canisters of these ICBMs. Give us some context here.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Victor. It's a good point that you make that they are canisters. We don't know what is exactly inside, if anything was inside them.
But experts around the world, intelligence agencies around the world will be pouring over these pictures right now to try and ascertain exactly what the capability of North Korea is. Now, the thing that we're focusing on that most experts find the most interesting is two new ICBMs, the intercontinental ballistic missile canisters appearing to be those, at least that, of course, would worry the United States the most. Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader made it very clear what he wants to do is to be able to hit mainland U.S. with an ICBM with a nuclear warhead on top. And he said just at the beginning of this year that he was going to test launch an ICBM and he was close to that.
So, this is what everyone is looking at right now. You see Kim Jong- un there interestingly in a western suit and a tie, not in the military mouse suit that you so often see him in. So that's an interesting point as well.
But you have submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the land-based ballistic missiles. These solid fuel missiles believed to be, according to analysts, which, of course, concern the West far more, because it's much quicker to be able to launch those, far more difficult for the West to detect them -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Paula, let's talk about the vice president who is setting off on this 11-day tour. He's going to be heading to Seoul, South Korea, first. What will the message be that he's going to take with him to Seoul?
HANCOCKS: He's going to be saying that the United States is at one with South Korea, that the United States will defend South Korea.
This is what South Korean officials want to hear. It's what they heard from the secretary of state. It's what they heard from the defense secretary that if South Korea is under attack, then the United States is right next to them, side by side.
Inevitably, they will be talking about THAAD, the missile defense system that the U.S. has brought into the country. It's expected to be fully operational very soon, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Paula Hancocks for us there in Seoul -- thanks so much.
PAUL: CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joining us now.
So, General, I want to get your reaction, first of all to these new pictures that we're seeing during this parade. And do you believe them to have versions that would be workable?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I'm not a military analyst from an intelligence perspective, Christi, but I will tell you there were certainly a lot of new weapons displayed. I've been in contact with several of my friends who are in the intel analyst field. They have told me that there were several new variants of different types of missiles on display.
[07:05:01] They are looking at the canister. They were especially interested in the ones, as you just pointed out that are the submarine launch potential missiles, if the canisters are filled.
What analysts will now look at pictures, the YouTube videos to see what other kind of indicators are that the missiles are real. Like, for example, they'll look at the truck types to see if they are weighted down, if there's actually something in those vehicles.
The other thing that's been interesting in looking at these pictures is many of the missile systems are on truck vehicles. The trucker types of things, that indicates they can be hidden and moved into the densely forested and mountainous regions of North Korea. Those are much harder to strike, to destroy when you can hide them, move them around into the woods and launch them quickly from remote sites.
All of those things will be analyzed by the folks from both satellite imageries and from any of the YouTube videos that are coming out. They will also look for discriminators in terms of are these systems that we have seen launched before, like the submarine ones? Are they ones that have failed or the ones that can reach longer distances?
We know the types of missiles that North Korea has. But every once in a while you come up with a surprise. And that's why these parades are not only important to the North Korean people. They are also very important to our intelligence analysts. PAUL: Absolutely. Were you surprised that they did not launch, as of yet, a missile? It was expected that on this day of celebration they do so.
HERTLING: Yes, I actually was. I was expecting something today, either another nuclear test or a multiple missile launch.
PAUL: The fact that they didn't, general -- the fact that they didn't, what might that tell you, General?
HERTLING: Well, that indicates to me that they were focusing on the display of force in the parade and that they might do it some time later. But the North Koreans also know about what's off their coast and almost as importantly and fact I might even say more importantly, the movement of Chinese forces to their northern border. They're indicators that our intel analysts have given us that China has moved three divisions worth of troops to the northern border and has issued some warnings both overtly and covertly to the North Korean people saying you better not do anything silly this week.
PAUL: Let's listen here real quickly to what China said about all sides, the urging they're giving everyone regarding making some inflammatory statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Therefore, we urge all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other either with rhetoric or actions, so as to avoid getting the situation out of hand and into an irreversible dead end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Remember, earlier, President Trump tweeted North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them.
What do you make of some of the verbiage we see bantering back and forth?
HERTLING: This is very interesting, Christi, because in the past, China has known -- they've always had one wild card in President Kim Jong-un. Now they think they have perhaps two wild cards and, unfortunately, China would be the one that would bare a great deal of the blunt of any kind of attack by the United States and North Korea because there would be a humanitarian disaster not only in the North, but potentially in the South, if some of those truck vehicles with missiles and rockets were rolled out and fired on Seoul and other cities like Uijeongbu in South Korea.
So, they know that they would have a humanitarian crisis from a country they consider a partial ally, as well as from South Korea, that might conduct an attack. And these two nations are at each other's throat truthfully. So, both China and South Korea are a bit more concerned about having unknowns on both the North Korean side and now the U.S. side with Mr. Trump and his threats. PAUL: Let me ask you real quickly, too, we only have a couple of
seconds left, but we have some new numbers out of Afghanistan, at least 94 ISIS fighters including 4 ISIS commanders killed when the U.S. dropped that bomb, one of America's most powerful.
I want to listen real quickly here to what the president said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Everybody knows exactly what happened, so -- and what I do is I authorize my military. We have given them total authorization. And that's what they're doing. And frankly that's why they've been so successful lately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: General Hertling, what do you make of the total authorization? Does the military want the responsibility without more of the president's input?
HERTLING: Well, there is always the requirement for civilian control of the military. That's the mode that we live by, the military lives by, Christi. To say we have complete authorization isn't quite true. There are levers being pulled not only in the Defense Department and I'm sure Mr. Trump would want to know about a military commander that's doing something extreme.
[07:10:05] In this case, again, as I said all week, General Nicholson used a tactical weapon system based on what he saw as a major threat and a good use of a bomb. So, for Mr. Trump to say that he's given complete authority, that's not quite true. I don't think anybody -- I don't think Secretary Mattis would say the same thing. That's a little bit of hyperbole on the part of the president.
PAUL: All righty. General Hertling, always appreciate your input. Thank you for being here.
HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.
I want to take you live now to Pyongyang, as they celebrate the Day of the Sun, as it's called. This is the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, and you can see there the dancing that's going on.
But again many people, the expectation was that there would be some other show of force, perhaps some sort of launch of a missile. We have not seen that happen today. The day as you can see there winding down as it's 7:41 p.m. there in Pyongyang. So, we'll continue to watch what happens there.
BLACKWELL: We know that Kim is flexing his muscles there militarily, showing off as we've shown this morning, the military might at the annual parade. Will this fight in U.S./North Korea tensions being the biggest foreign policy test for this new president?
PAUL: Also, President Trump quietly making bold moves to pull government funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations. Critics say the cuts may have some other setbacks for women as well.
We're going to talk about that. Stay close.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to first start out by saying that what I viewed on that video disturbed me --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: And two Georgia officers are off of the force after these videos of this traffic stop have been released. Could they now face criminal charges?
[07:16:06] PAUL: Sixteen minutes past the hour right now and President Trump spending Easter weekend at his resort in Florida, while rising tensions with North Korea his usual band of top aides are not tagging along, despite what we're seeing this morning. White House official did say that aides from the National Security Council are accompanying the president.
CNN's Jessica Schneider live nearby in West Palm Beach.
So, Jessica, good to see you this morning. Analysts saying they still believe North Korea primed for another nuclear test. What do we know about how the president is preparing for that?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, that's the lingering question as all eyes are on North Korea. We saw the president take some very decisive action in the past week with those strikes in Syria, also the U.S. military dropping that massive bomb in Afghanistan.
But when it comes to North Korea, the president not exactly tipping his hand, however, he has tweeted that if China doesn't take action to thwart North Korea's nuclear program, the U.S. will. And in that vein, the U.S. Navy has dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. In addition, Vice President Pence will arrive in Asia tomorrow for an 11-day trip where he has several stops on the agenda, one being South Korea where North Korea will be a big topic of discussion. So, a lot is percolating in Asia right now.
As for the president himself, he has been somewhat quiet, somewhat relaxed here at Mar-a-Lago for the Easter weekend. We know he is spending the weekend here with First Lady Melania Trump, his son Barron, also his son Don Jr. and his family. We did catch a glimpse of the president golfing right here in West Palm Beach, the Trump International.
But in addition, there was some concern or some question about the fact that President Trump wasn't traveling with his senior staff, none of them actually boarded Air Force One in Washington at Joint Base Andrews. None of them came here to Mar-a-Lago, we know members of his National Security Council, they are here, briefing the president, informing him and monitoring that situation in North Korea while all eyes are on that part of the world right now -- Christi and Victor.
PAUL: All righty. Jessica Schneider, so appreciate the report -- thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk now with Tom LoBianco, CNN politics reporter, and Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner".
Good morning to both of you.
TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: Sarah, let me start with you and this dramatic shift as we talk about the politics of what's happening and vice president pence going now to Seoul to reassure the South Koreans that the U.S. commitment to the country. The dramatic shift we've seen from the president in his commitment to South Korean security.
Here is what he said before the election about securing the country against North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madmen and them. We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this. Why are we doing this?
They make a fortune. They're very wealthy country. We're a very poor country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Sarah, as the vice president heads there, how much of that unease, that worry that was created by those comments still remains?
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, that's lot of reasons for regional neighbors of North Korea to be worried right now. Tensions are at what some have called an all-time high between North Korea and the U.S., and so, this is not a coincidence that Vice President Mike Pence is going to Southeast Asia now. He'll be in Seoul. He'll be in Tokyo.
He'll be reassuring leaders that the U.S. is willing to back up his allies if a military conflict were to break out. That's the reason why you saw the USS Carl Vinson positioned in the waters off of the coast of North Korea. That's why you're seeing President Trump speaking regularly with Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This is the U.S. reorienting itself to be a stronger ally of Southeast Asia because they recognize that the tensions are so high right now that a conflict could break out at almost any moment.
[07:20:01] And so, they need their allies' cooperation if that were to happen, that's why Pence is going to Southeast Asia over the next week.
BLACKWELL: And the vice president, Tom, has now taken up this role that we saw him play during the campaign. We saw him play in the first month of the administration, attempting to reassure those traditional allies that there is in some sense a status quo, that you can depend on the United States. But as we see the president at his island resort this weekend for the seventh time of his presidency and the vice president heading out again, what does Washington make of this juxtaposition of where these men are and what they are doing this weekend?
LOBIANCO: You know, it's funny. We've seen that before. You recall when they have the gridiron dinner about a month ago and that's something traditionally the president would often go to but Mike Pence went to instead. Mike Pence went to -- there was that summit in Germany a little over a month ago.
You know, all these things that traditionally, as you said the president would do, we see the vice president doing. And that's raised a lot of eyebrows inside the Beltway. You know, among the people who are used to the normal flow of things, although we have also seen Trump start to change a little bit, who he's listening to, how he handles these things. You know, who has his ear inside the White House right now?
Of course there's been this -- we're talking about North Korea, we're talking about ripples from Syria from the dropping the mother of all bombs. Right now, there's a big play going on inside the National Security Council that we've all been watching. H.R. McMaster really taking a firm hold of how things work inside there, a more traditional hawkish leadership inside there.
BLACKWELL: Do we know -- he will be going over to India and we'll be talking about that trip potentially making a surprise visit to Afghanistan as well.
But, Sarah, let me ask you about this domestic issue the White House announcing that it will not make public the visitor logs of people coming to the White House, a reversal from the Obama administration. I want to remind people as we talk about this what the incoming press secretary at the time Sean Spicer said about the definition of transparency. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Conflicts of interest arise when you're not -- when you're sneaky about it, when you're shady about it, when you're not transparent about it.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, they just exist.
SPICER: No, no. If you tell everyone here is what's going on. Here is the process. Here are the people playing a role, that's not -- that's being transparent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: The White House here not exactly saying who's playing a role here coming in and who they're visiting. What is the reason that they give for not releasing these visitor logs?
WESTWOOD: They've said they're saving taxpayer money by with holding the logs. Look, what they're doing is they're taking a calculated risk. They know that they will get some bad press off with holding the visitor logs from the public, but they also know that they will get a barrage of negative stories about the people who are coming in and out of the White House.
So, they're hoping that the bad press they're getting around with holding the logs is going to eventually pass and they won't have to deal with the constant drip of stories that plagued the Obama administration.
But for conservatives who celebrated stories that emerge from the Obama administration logs, great example is during the IRS scandal, conservatives seize on the fact that the IRS commissioner had been at the White House dozens of times, that was not normal and it fed the argument that the IRS was politicized. Conservatives celebrated the fact they had access to those log.
So, it's a little duplicitous to now defend the Trump's opposition to releasing them.
BLACKWELL: Yes, the president tweeting back in 2012, "Why is Barack Obama spending millions to try to hide his records. His is the least transparent presidency ever", and he ran on transparency, just a reminder from real Donald Trump.
Tom LoBianco, Sarah Westwood, thank you both.
WESTWOOD: Thank you.
PAUL: Well, this week, President Trump privately signed a bill blocking federal money to Planned Parenthood as well as some other organizations. And there are women's rights groups that are not letting it go unnoticed. We'll talk about it.
BLACKWELL: Plus, seven executions in 11 days. That's what Arkansas planned to do starting on Monday, but now a judge is putting all of them on hold. Why?
We've got the answer after the break.
[07:28:46] PAUL: It is good to see you on this Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. PAUL: You know, this morning, North Korea is showing off its military
fire power. It is on display on the birthday of its founding father, leader Kim Jong-un's grandfather. Pyongyang putting the U.S. essentially many people say on notice as we see the weaponry that they displayed and as tensions spike between the U.S. and North Korea.
BLACKWELL: And you see here the big centerpiece of the parade, two new intercontinental ballistic missile size canisters. We don't know if there's anything inside them.
North Korea, if they really have these missiles, they could give the country the ability to strike targets on the U.S. mainland. Now, this is coming as Vice President Mike Pence leaves for Seoul at the top of the hour in a show of solidarity with its ally. This trip will also include visits to Japan, Indonesia and Australia.
PAUL: In the mist of President Trump's major foreign policy shifts this week, he was able to quietly sign an executive order that allows states to with hold federal money to Planned Parenthood, as well as any other organization that provides abortion services. This is a promise that then candidate Donald Trump is keeping despite recognizing many of the group's benefits to women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:30:05] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Millions and millions of women, cervical cancer, breast cancer are helped by Planned Parenthood. So, you can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly.
And I wouldn't fund it. I would defund it because of the abortion factor which they say is 3 percent. I don't know what percentage it is. They say it's 3 percent.
I would defund it because I'm pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Again, this was a private signing. Conservatives praised some women's rights groups going public with their protest right now.
Let's talk about it, political strategist and president of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, and senior policy analyst for the women's health and rights program at the Center for American Progress, Heidi Williamson.
Thank you both for being with us. We appreciate it.
Marjorie, I want to start with you. We just heard what the president is saying and he is right. There are a lot of services that Planned Parenthood supports. You in a recent write-up in "The Washington Post" said funding should be reallocated to community health centers.
So, when we look at what Planned Parenthood does, the other health services it does provide, everything from cancer screenings, birth control, tetanus and flu vaccines, physical exams for employment and sports, how does that not fall into this bracket?
MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, what it does is it provides the third of abortions that occur in this country and the recommendation that the president has and we support that those funds be reallocated to community health centers across the country, and those community health centers exist in proportion 20-1 for every one Planned Parenthood, there are 20. And so, there are more accessible, they're more comprehensive and as the years go on, Planned Parenthood services other than abortion go down consistently over the years while it's abortion services remain constant.
It is certainly within the purview and the right of states to send those family planning funds where they think that -- where they think they should go. Obama's parting gift going out of office was to force states to fund Planned Parenthoods and other abortion providers. America just simply does not think we ought to be part of building an abortion business, but it is legitimate thing to do to spend taxpayer money instead on family planning, which is not abortion.
PAUL: Heidi, what do -- how do you respond to that?
HEIDI WILLIAMSON, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, the reality is, we've been down this road, states like Texas, Ohio, Indiana where we have seen broad restriction on abortion access or even attacks on Planned Parenthood, there actually has been too many people in order for the -- too many people for the community centers to absorb. So it's a little bit disingenuous to say we have enough community centers in the country to subsidize or to take on the client base that Planned Parenthood serves.
DANNENFELSER: Can I respond to that?
WILLIAMS: It's just not true. We need to make sure that all community centers, including Planned Parenthood are fully funded by Title 10 and that women, particularly the most vulnerable women, aren't -- that their experiences are taken to heart and it isn't made more difficult for them to actually get the care that they need.
PAUL: Let's listen real quickly, if we could please, to something that Representative Ruben Gallego said yesterday as he addressed this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: It's not an abortion issue. This is an organization that provides, you know, life-changing screenings for women and sometimes are the only type of medical services and/or preventive pregnancy services as well as STD services that are found in many of our small and poor communities. And it's unfortunate that Donald Trump doesn't listen to his own party, at least the Republican voters who also disagree with defunding at least disagree with defunding Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Marjorie, we just heard that sound bite from President Trump as well as he talked about the other services that are available, many might be the only services to some people in certain communities.
PAUL: So, how is it that you look at this and think it's not political? This doesn't -- isn't there politics all over this.
DANNENFELSER: Sure. Why is it political? Because funding abortion has become a political issue because America doesn't agree with it. And it simply does not serve anyone to perpetuate this falsehood that somehow women's health care will be damaged when Planned Parenthood doesn't receive all of this funding.
Again, community health centers outdistance Planned Parenthood by 20- 1. They are more accessible. They're more comprehensive. They're not limited to reproductive health care and they include reproductive health care.
[07:35:01] They have bipartisan support.
And to answer the point my friend just made, the -- for community health centers to absorb the patients that would be -- that would not be going to Planned Parenthood if they had to have an abortion, then -- you know what it would take, would be two patients per week per year for community health centers given how many there are in the country. So, this is not going to cut back. Instead, the proposal on the table in the Congress right now is for that funding to increase by $422 million.
So, it's time to put to rest this idea that somehow women will have nowhere to go. It's simply not true.
PAUL: Heidi, how do you respond?
WILLIAMSON: I mean, when you look at the Trump skinny budget and think about the fact that HHS will be cut by $15 billion and we have other cuts across the board that impact Medicaid, Medicare, the FDA, the CDC, the reality is this executive order jeopardizes the care of more than 4 million patients across this country.
I think that it's just a little bit romanticizing -- my friend is romanticizing what the possibilities are when you make it harder for clinics, not just Planned Parenthoods, but all kinds of Title 10 clinics to get the funding that they need and be able to provide the services they need to for the most vulnerable community.
DANNENFELSER: Just stop doing abortions and there will be no argument.
PAUL: Good point to make this isn't just Planned Parenthood, there are other facilities that are going to have the same restrictions.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, Heidi Williamson, we appreciate both of you being here. Thank you. WILLIAMSON: Thank you.
DANNENFELSER: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. One question still lingering since the campaign, will the president release his tax returns? Now, thousands are calling on the president to do just that. They're calling him chicken. And they're taking their message and their inflatable fowl there straight to Washington.
PAUL: Also, two police officers fired after this violent traffic stop. Dozens of cases are being thrown out because of their actions. They may be facing charges of their own. We'll show you more.
PAUL: Mortgage rates dropped a bit this week. Here's your look.
[07:41:39] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, fewer than 100 days into his presidency, President Trump faces a growing call now for him to release his tax returns. Thousands of people, and apparently inflatable chickens, are standing by, ready to march to the White House and around the country.
Now, this is not something that expired with the election, with the campaign. Our latest CNN poll shows that 74 percent of Americans believe the president should release his tax returns. And calls are growing across party lines. Look at this -- 51 percent of Republicans agree that the president should release those tax returns, that they should be public.
All right. Let's talk about it. Ezra Levin, cofounder of the Indivisible Project, a watchdog group, and Jeffrey Lord, CNN political commentator and contributing editor to "The American Spectator" are with us.
Good morning to both of you.
EZRA LEVIN, CO-FOUNDER, INDIVISIBLE PROJECT: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Ezra, you said this is much about seeing somebody's 1040 form. What is it about?
LEVIN: It's about this administration becoming the least transparent since President Nixon. Every single American president since Nixon has released their tax returns. This is why so many Americans want to see the tax returns. It's about ethics. It's about his entanglements with foreign dictators.
We know that the vast majority of Americans, like you just showed, want to see his tax returns. Even majority of Republicans want to see his tax return, and that's why you're going to see today in Washington, D.C., and in over 120 communities across the country, Americans constituents coming out and telling their members of Congress you have to use your constitutional authority to get these tax returns, so we can tell what on earth is going on with this administration.
BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, for an administration that prides itself on transparency, why not release these tax returns now?
LORD: Well, Victor, as you know, I have never thought he should release his taxes. I think this whole thing is bogus. We had 36 presidents of the United States who never released their taxes and, you know, I think we did all right with FDR, JFK not knowing what they paid in tax.
If we're going to do this kind of thing, this is a group of liberal activists out here taking to the streets yet again. That's fine. But maybe they should release their taxes. Maybe we should have a law that says every Americans should have their taxes released, so we know what everybody's business is.
BLACKWELL: But every person isn't running for president, every person doesn't have the same authority that the president has, so is your argument -- go ahead.
LORD: But they all -- Victor, you and I are here on television, maybe television hosts, maybe athletes, maybe Hollywood celebrities, anybody that has any influence, newspaper publishers. I mean, we could run through the list here, activists, liberal activists like Ezra, maybe we should snow where his money is coming from.
If we're going to go down that road, let's go down it.
BLACKWELL: Well, as I'm reminded often, I have no sway over policy, the president does.
BLACKWELL: But, Ezra, let me come back to you. The lack of disclosure here did not stop the president from winning the White House, so is this still an issue beyond the people who and in some cases maybe you'll admit this, maybe you won't, won't like anything this president does, is this an issue for most Americans still?
LEVIN: You just showed the poll. This isn't just liberal activists. This is a majority of Americans. And the idea that President Lincoln and President Washington didn't release their tax returns to President Trump doesn't have to?
[07:45:02] That is just totally bogus. I can't believe you made that argument with a straight face.
My god, this is a president who has entanglements possibly with foreign dictator. This is a president who has conflicts of interest with his business dealings. We don't know if he's acting in the interest of the American people. And, look, that's what his job is. He is elected by the American
people to serve them. We need to know who is lining his pockets, and if he's actually working for us.
BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, this is happening -- these --
LORD: I would return the favor and say we need to know the same thing about you and all of your groups.
BLACKWELL: But listen, this is the president of the United States. He ran to hold this office. And we know that there is a major difference between the sway that Ezra Levin has and Jeffrey Lord has and Victor Blackwell has versus the president of the United States.
For this to come out on the same day that we hear from the White House that they won't be releasing the visitor logs of who is coming to the White House and who these people are going to be visiting with, how can this -- this White House claim as Sean Spicer did to be unbelievably a word he likes to use, transparent?
LORD: Well, I think they're probably transparent in other way. I frankly don't know what the deal is with the visitor's log. I mean, I've used it on occasion in the Obama era to see who was coming in and out. Maybe there are security concerns. I honestly don't know what the story is.
BLACKWELL: So, Ezra, as we wrap up here, is this going to be an issue that Democrats in Congress are going to be more vocal about? I mean, there are lots of other things that are on the plate here. Are you satisfied with how some who have committed to resistance or challenging this president have committed to this?
LEVIN: Well, again this isn't a partisan issue. There is a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, it has Republicans on it, it has Democrats on it. Hey, we need to know what's going on.
But, ultimately, look, it doesn't matter what Ezra Levin says here or anybody here in Washington, D.C. says, it matters whether or not people across the country stand up and make their voices heard. That's what we see happening today.
If you are watching this, today you can go to indivisibleguy.com, put in your zip code and find the tax march near you. That's what will convince members of Congress to use the power they should be using to find out exactly what is going on.
BLACKWELL: Ezra Levin, Jeffrey Lord, thank you both.
LEVIN: Thank you so much.
LORD: Thank you, Dr. Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. A plan to execute seven people before the end of the month put on hold. Why a judge is saying, no to a round of lethal injections in Arkansas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PAUL: Forty-nine minutes past the hour right now and this week's "Staying Well" focuses on ways to consult our salt and sugar cravings for better health.
Health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour clues us in here.
[07:50:01] STEPHANIE MANSOUR, HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPERT: Your cravings could secretly be telling you what your body needs. If you're craving salt, you could be stressed, but you also may be dehydrated. So, get a bottle of water and set the alarm on your phone for ten minutes. Drink the water during that time and then see if that salty craving subsides. If not, opt for a healthy snack such as edamame with some sea salt.
If you're craving carbs or even sugar, you may be low in protein. So, take a few slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. During that time, think about when it was last that you ate protein. If it was more than three or four hours ago, you may need a protein-packed snack. After eating that, move on and see if you still want the carbs or sugar.
Next, place some reverse psychology on yourself. So, if you don't like chocolate cake but if I tell you, you have eat chocolate cake, you want it because psychologically, we want what we can't have. So, give yourself permission to eat whatever you want when you want and see if that helps with cravings.
BLACKWELL: Dozens of cases involving two fired Georgia police officers have now been thrown out. The Gwinnett County solicitor general dismissed 89 cases connected to Robert McDonald and Michael Bongiovanni. Both were fired after video on social media showed this, a violent traffic stop on Wednesday.
One officer you see here punching, the attorney says elbowing that driver. The other officer showed up to help and you'll see here, kicked the driver already in handcuffs in the head. He was on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
A.A. "BUTCH" AYERS, CHIEF GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE: I want to first start out by saying what I viewed on that video disturbed me and it disturbed everyone who actually watched that video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Both officers could face criminal charges and the police department is investigating and will send its findings to the district attorney. PAUL: A plan to execute seven people by the end of the month is
facing a major road block this morning. A court has stopped Arkansas from using a certain drug for lethal injections. Now, the supplier of this drug argues it wasn't supposed to be used for capital punishment. The Arkansas attorney general office plans to file an emergency request against the order. Those arguments scheduled for Tuesday morning. Judges recently blocked two of those executions for separate reasons, we should point out.
Ebola, Zika, bird flu, recent outbreaks have claimed thousands of people's lives. And the worst, we understand, may be yet to come.
BLACKWELL: CNN's new original film "Unseen Enemy" looks at where the next outbreak may come from and what we can do to stop it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we start out our mission on August 17th, the following morning, there were ambulances lined up our gates, and we were not prepared.
Before we even knew it, we were already overwhelmed with so many patients.
(INAUDIBLE) I will take one or two and check (INAUDIBLE)
This gave me the impression that I was in Haiti because there was a makeshift structure where the patients were vomiting and bleeding, and (INAUDIBLE) on the floor. (INAUDIBLE) bodies were still there that need to be removed.
In three days' time, the entire unit was full. Meanwhile, there were still patients outside the gate and they are begging -- every time we go to the gate, they are begging to come in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)