Return to Transcripts main page


Trump on Scalise's Condition: "He's in Some Trouble"; Senate Passes Russia Sanctions Bill in Rebuke to Trump. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 15, 2017 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: At that hospital system, they also have a definition, which is critical, but stable. They're not defining the congressman that way.

[16:30:01] They're just saying critical, which is the most concerning definition they have.

So, he's had a lot of bleeding with these types of injuries, especially from a long barrel, a rifle. It can cause injuries to blood vessels throughout that area and that bleeding can be very difficult to address. He's had, as you point out, three separate operations. My guess is all of them, really, to address the bleeding, not even really talking about the bones and the other injuries in that part of the hip yet.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's right, because the hospital said that Congressman Scalise suffered injuries to internal organs that the bullet went in his left hip and then across the pelvis and didn't -- and stayed in his body, the bullet.

Which vital organs are the most risky in this potential -- in this situation?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the -- when they talk about the vital organs, you know, obviously, the heart, the lungs, you could have an injury to the liver as well, an injury to the spleen. They're not necessarily vital organs in that, you know, they can be addressed more easily, the bleeding from those types of injuries.

But the fact that it stayed inside the body basically means that the energy, all the energy from this bullet sort of was absorbed within the body. The reason that exit wounds are better is because a significant amount of the energy is not absorbed inside the body. So, you can have injury to organs sort of all around that abdominal area as a result of a rifle wound like this.

TAPPER: Yesterday, I spoke with Republican Congressman Brad Wenstrup. He's a surgeon, a combat surgery. He was the one who gave Congressman Scalise first aid right on the scene. He told me didn't see a bullet exit wound, which you explain that could potentially be horrific, because the body has to absorb the energy.

GUPTA: That's right.

TAPPER: Is it almost like a shock wave that goes out? I know in IEDs, one of the -- the shrapnel causes a lot of pain.

GUPTA: That's right.

TAPPER: But it's the shock wave of the force that can liquefy, pulpify organs.

GUPTA: Yes, that's right. It's tough to think about, but, you know, especially again from a rifle energy, simple math, it's the speed of the bullet that makes all the different, even more so than the size of the bullet. It's the velocity. And the velocity of a bullet moving that fast can cause a blast wave that start to cause tissue energy even before the bullet gets there.

And it can also cause, as you point out, this blast or what they call cavitation remotely from where the bullet is. So, everyone focuses on the trajectory of the bullet, understandably, but you can have more remote energy, just because that bullet was traveling so fast and caused those sort of concentric waves of energy around it.

TAPPER: There's another shooting victim, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, Matt Mika, who we're told is now in serious condition. So his condition an upgraded, it's an improvement, obviously. Today his family said he was shot multiple times in the chest and that he needs breathing assistance. What could that mean, needing breathing assistance?

GUPTA: Well, he was shot in the chest. He's almost assuredly had injuries to his lungs and either in part because of the inadequate capacity of the lungs right now or because they just want to give those parts of the lungs a chance to rest and recover and heal. They would keep him on the breathing machine -- a machine that basically takes over those functions for him.

He was also, I read, the report, he's also writing. You know, he's got this tube in his mouth, he can't talk, but he's able to write. So cognitively, he seems to be doing well. But I imagine with these chest wounds, it's basically the concern about the lung injury and allowing it to heal that's going to keep him on the breathing machine for a period of time.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: You got it. Jake, thank you.

TAPPER: In just a few hours, I'm going to sit down live with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Minority Nancy Pelosi for their first-ever joint interview. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. at the congressional baseball game during "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" and we'll bring that to you live.

More on our national lead, after 30 hours of deliberations, jurors in the Bill Cosby trial said they're deadlocked and cannot come to a unanimous consensus on any of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The judge has asked the jury to go back to deliberating. The prosecution claims the comedian drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby pleaded not guilty. If this jury which is comprised of four white women, six white men, one black woman, and one black man, if cannot reach a consensus, it could result, of course, in a mistrial.

Cosby's publicist expressed optimism, saying today that Cosby is seeing the justice that he has been looking for.

Coming up next, Newt Gingrich is lashing special counsel Bob Mueller. But last month, Gingrich called Mueller a superb pick with an impeccable reputation. What changed?

And American Otto Warmbier was released from North Korea in a coma with extensive brain injury. His father is strongly criticizing President Obama. Why?

Stay with us.


[16:39:00] TAPPER: We're back with more on our politics lead today.

Today, the Senate was nearly unanimous in passing a bill that would slap Russia with new sanctions and give Congress the power to review any White House attempts to roll back the sanctions. The Senate approved the measure 98-2 with Republican Rand Paul and independent Bernie Sanders, the two opposing.

The measure is largely seen as a measure to curb President Trump's powers. It punishes Moscow for its interference in the U.S. election and its aggression in Syria and in Ukraine. The bill still needs to pass the House before making it to the president's desk.

Here with me to discuss this and much more is my political panel.

Let me start with you, Mary Katharine. Fair to say that this is a rebuke of President Trump?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first it's a rebuke of Russia --


HAM: -- because they're the real bad behavior folks in this equation at the moment with the evidence we have. And I think that's good. And I think the Senate asserting its power and saying, look, White House, you have to come to us when it deals with these issues is good.

But, yes, I think would Trump prefer to go another way?

[16:40:01] Perhaps, but the Senate has these powers and it's all good for them to assert them.

TAPPER: Yes, we like the separation of powers.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Not good for the president. It's an expression of distrust for the president. They didn't trust them in terms of continuing to have the power to lift the sanctions.

You want bipartisanship in Washington. You have bipartisanship here against the White House. Rex Tillerson lobbied the Senate to not pass this and I think the White House is now lobbying the House to try to water it down or make it a little weaker before it passes there.

TAPPER: And, Michael, 98-2. I mean, we never get 98-2 votes in this town. I guess for David Shulkin as V.A. secretary, but that's the last time.

MICHAEL SCHERER, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TIME: Well, yes, if you're the president and you're seriously considering firing Robert Mueller, this would give you pause, because this means enough Republicans are willing to break with you on something like maybe an independent counsel if things continue to go bad. These are Republicans who could cause problems for you if there's an impeachment process. I mean, this is an early sign that, you know, with your polls under 40 percent, you could have problems down the road.

PAGE: If the president weren't under investigation on the Russia stuff and if his approval rating wasn't 36 percent, would the vote had been 98-2?


TAPPER: I don't know.

HAM: It's also a reflection of partly of the fact that many Republicans were always Russia hawks, right? So, it's not a huge shift for them whereas an impeachment situation would be a huge shift.

TAPPER: But I guess my question is, what if Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio were president? I don't know if you would have this vote the way it is, because Republicans --

SCHERER: Would trust him.

TAPPER: -- would trust him.


PAGE: Wouldn't feel the need to tie his hands, at least to some degree, when it comes to lifting these sanctions.

HAM: We take unity how we can get it, Jake.

TAPPER: A short time ago, President Trump tweeted, quote: Why is it that Hillary Clinton's family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?

And another one: Crooked Hillary, Crooked H destroyed phones with hammer, bleached e-mails, and had husband meet with A.G. days before she was cleared. And they talk about obstruction?

And there are more, but I'm just going to give you two of them. This comes after multiple tweets this morning calling it a witch hunt. Michael, what do you make -- first of all, I guess he's back to

tweeting. But what do you make of his response?

SCHERER: No, I think one of the most telling parts of this is that it signals again that the staff around the president is not directing the president.

And we reported this week in the magazine, that there's sort of a version of the Serenity Prayer that they have adopted over there. They try to control what they can. You know, they get the schedule, they can get him out of town once a week, get him to an agency once a week, they accept what they can't control, which is him tweeting. And they try to figure out before they confront the president, which is which.

And I think that's a telling thing, because it has led to problems for the president in the past, when he disregards their advice. And he's basically won this argument internally. He keeps the phone. This is the device that he used to help win the election. The message inside, even among staff, who disagree with a lot of what he's doing is that, you know, he's a brilliant messenger, he's his best messenger, and that's the way it is.

TAPPER: And I think it's true, Susan, that he is his best messenger for his base. There is no one who can deliver a message to the 35 percent to 40 percent of the electorate like him. But then, what about the others?

Page: and what if -- if he had listened to his allies on his own senior staff at the White House, he might not be facing an obstruction of justice investigation by the special counsel right now. Because why is that? Because he fired Comey against the advice of many of those around him?

And it's because he continues to make these public points that look like obstruction of justice or seem to indicate a willingness to see his role as affecting this investigation. I think one of the things these tweets show today, he would really like to fire Bob Mueller. And the question is, will there come a point where he's willing to do that, despite the deep political risks that would carry.

HAM: Well, and beyond the political implications, I think there's the issue of this unpredictability being a problem. When you are under investigation, the things you say and tweet become legally portentous, and you can't be disciplined about that, that will get you into trouble, even if there's no there there, as he claims there. And I'm actually sort of inclined to think there's less there there than many think.

But you can get yourself into trouble after the fact.

TAPPER: I want to turn to an issue that's pretty significant of former North Korea detainee and U.S. college student, Otto Warmbier. A tragic story, he's finally out of North Korea, but he appears to have serious neurological problems. He spoke today, his father, Otto's father, very critical of the Obama administration's handling of his son's detention and he praised President Trump.

Do we have that sound?


FRED WARMBIER, SON RELEASED BY NORTH KOREA: When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release. We did so without result.

Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over and we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team at the direction of the president aggressively pursued resolution of the situation.

The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.


[16:45:00] FRED WARMBIER, FATHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: And we made a few media appearances and traveled to Washington to meet with Ambassador Joe Yun at the State Department. It is my understanding that Ambassador Yun and his team at the direction of the President aggressively pursued resolution of the situation. The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: And I have to say, this is not the first time we have heard that from the family of a hostage when it comes to criticism of how the Obama administration handled these issues, Susan.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINTON BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, I think that's right. First of all, no parent - every parent's heart breaks when you see the father of Otto talking there and wearing the jacket that his son wore during his show trial in North Korea. So, first of all, our thoughts are with the family. But, absolutely, you know, the interest - first of all, there were a lot of complaints about the Obama administration not seeing their interests, the United States' interests, as being totally aligned with the interests of families who had family members being held hostages in places like North Korea. That's happened with other administrations, as well, but I think it was pretty pronounced in the Obama administration and you certainly see the anguish. And he not only criticized President Obama, he praised President Trump.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Think this is something that the Trump administration has actually done fairly well and sort of quietly and competently. There was an Egyptian-American aid worker that was in prison for three years in Egypt who was able to come home in April. He's done a public event I remember with Leopoldo Lopez's wife or had pictures taken at the White House -

TAPPER: At Marco Rubio's request.

HAM: - with Marco Rubio to bring some light to that. And Obama was very quiet on those things and I don't think it's not even very controversial to say he put a lower priority on that type of things than Trump seems to be doing with some pretty good results.

MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Yes., I think the President will likely say at some point in the future that this is an example of how my Presidency is about human rights, even though I'm not talking about human rights in the same way as past presidencies. They've made that argument for a while now internally. It's a debatable point, because he's removed a lot of the international pressure the U.S. traditionally places on regimes that have terrible human rights records but at the same time, in Egypt, here in North Korea, there is some private wheeling and dealing he's able to do and there are some results.

TAPPER: Maybe not for the people in that country as a whole, but for individual Americans or dual citizens who are trapped in that country, President Trump deserves all the praise he's getting.

HAM: And he told America first.

TAPPER: America first.

SCHERER: It's a very Trumpian thing. Like he - it's like the carrier plant. You know, he loves the specific example. If he can get one plant saved, that's an example of his entire policy. And if he can get one person released, he's very happy with that.

TAPPER: All right. Mary Katherine, Susan, and Michael, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

More U.S. troops may soon be headed back to the frontlines in Afghanistan. We'll talk to retired General Stanley McChrystal about the future of America's longest war, next.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's turn to our "WORLD LEAD" now. President Trump has empowered Defense Secretary James Mattis to determine whether additional U.S. troops should be deployed to Afghanistan. There are currently roughly 8,400 American service members in Afghanistan, supporting the fight against ISIS and the Taliban. CNN has learned that the Pentagon is considering sending up to 5,000 additional troops but the final decision is not expected for a few weeks. Joining me now to discuss this and much more is Retired Four Star General Stanley McChrystal, the former Commander of all U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan, also with him Former Navy SEAL Chris Fussell who served alongside McChrystal. They're out with a new book titled "One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams".

General, thank you so much for joining us, and Chris, you as well. I'm going to get to the book in a second, but General, I want to ask you, do you have any concerns about this idea of President Trump leaving this all up to Secretary Mattis? Not that Mattis would make a bad decision, he's obviously an American hero, but do you fear at all this might lead to the President not having any ownership of this major decision that is obviously a life-or-death decision?

STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, FORMER COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Jake, thanks. I believe that Jim Mattis will make a great decision on Afghanistan, but I don't think that that takes away President Trump's responsibility for that decision. Ultimately, he needs the Commander in Chief and the Leader of the American people, so General - President Trump will ultimately own the outcome. And I think that it's important we take a long view.

TAPPER: And if you were advising Defense Secretary Mattis and President Trump what to do on Afghanistan, what would you suggest?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, we've been there 15 years. I'm a believer in the Afghan people, so I support an increase in forces there. But the question we have to ask is, if that increase doesn't produce the outcome we want, what's our commitment after that? And are we prepared to take a long-term commitment to the people of Afghanistan? I personally think we should, but I don't think that's a decision for me to make. I think it's a conversation that we as the American people have got to have in a very realistic way.

TAPPER: Chris, you were a Navy SEAL. Five Special Operations troops have been killed in combat this year, more than 20 since 2014. We heard Admiral McRaven on my show and the current Head of Special Ops, General Raymond Thomas in committee hearings, express concerns that policy makers, not just the Trump administration, but Obama before him, see special ops as a kind of answer to every question and are stretching special ops too thin. Do you agree?

CHRIS FUSSELL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, you certainly have seen that trend over the last 10 to 15 years. And it is a dangerous road. Special operations are small, highly specialized. They do amazing work when they're put into the fight, but it's a limited resource. And so if we become overly dependent on an organization that's designed for a very specific mission and expect them to solve all problems around the world, you're naturally going to overextend it. So there is risk there.

TAPPER: General, you've Commanded Special Ops troops. What do you think?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I agree with Chris. You know, they're called special for a reason. They're not better forces, they're especially focused on certain missions. So I think it's important we not assume that they're a tool of a thousand uses.

[16:55:02] TAPPER: General, right now there are more than 5,000 troops in Iraq, nearly 1,000 in Syria fighting ISIS and other terrorist groups. Do you think that the U.S.-led coalition needs to have a large ground force to defeat and destroy the economy there? MCCHRYSTAL: I think there's going to have to be an adequate ground force, but I don't think it should be primarily American. I mean, that is a regional issue to which regional forces are most appropriate. And I think we need to think in terms of what will be the reaction in the region if there's too big a footprint. So I think again, what we need to think about is not just ISIS, but the condition of the region post-ISIS because that's really where problems are likely to be intractable.

TAPPER: And Chris, I want to ask you. There was a green on blue incident, an Afghan commando killing three U.S. soldiers over the weekend. What do you tell your friends and family when they say, can we trust the Afghan soldiers, the Afghan National Army?

FUSSELL: I say, yes, we absolutely can. I mean, they've been strong partners for many years and they've stood by us, we've stood by them. It also speaks to the complexity of these fights and outliers will get through. I mean, it's just the nature of the reality of this kind of conflict. So I think to judge the overall effort or certainly risk to judge the Afghan Army in general by the actions of one or two individuals is a very dangerous move.

TAPPER: Let's turn to your book, One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams. General, I'll start with you. What's the most important thing you learned in the military that helps you be a leader outside the military?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I think the most important thing I learned which Chris reflects in his book is the fact that you've got to push decisions down close to the point of action.

TAPPER: And Chris, you have an anecdote in the book about communication that starts with you at a remote base based in Kos, Afghanistan, and someone calling you, telling you that your monkeys stole his laundry. Tell us what's the lesson is and a little bit about that anecdote.

FUSSELL: Well, the monkey was a good friend to all of us. I think she passed away a few years ago and she's missed. But the point of that story was, on the ground, and you've seen conflict zones, Jake, when you get close to the fight, you can have teams from many different organizations that really get along as a family. What we realized though is getting along wasn't enough. We weren't connected as a single organization, although it looks solid on the ground when get to a place like Kos, the big systems weren't connected enough. And until that started to happen, we weren't able to actually unify our efforts on the ground.

TAPPER: General, President Trump obviously has a bunch of generals in his administration, McMaster, Mattis, Kelly, do you see evidence of the military-style leadership that you write about in the book in the Trump administration? Whether at the Trump level or McMaster, Kelley, and Mattis?

MCCHRYSTAL: Jake, there are a lot of great former soldiers in the cabinet. I don't see actually the effect yet of a very firm, stable management style. I'm hopeful that the administration, over time, will develop those techniques and relations, but I think there's ways to go.

TAPPER: And Chris, let me ask you, also. You talk about the need - in the book - about the need to have information coming from the tip of the spear, as it were; where the rubber meets the road. Do you think that that leadership style works everywhere?

FUSSELL: I think it's critical, now. I don't think it's a choice anymore. And what we saw inside the counterterrorism task force, under General McCrystal and other senior leadership was an ability to connect from the ground and a willingness from our senior leadership part to listen to those voices because they acknowledged and realized this problem is changing too quickly. If we try to go through the bureaucratic wickets that we've put in place, we'll just be too slow all the time. So there is a necessity at the leadership level to take that move.

TAPPER: General, before you go, I do want to ask you about NATO, since you commanded NATO forces when you were in Afghanistan. It's obviously been an organization. The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was after 9/11 for the war in Afghanistan. It's been critical in the war on terror. Obviously, a lot of tensions right now between the United States, under President Trump, and NATO. As somebody who worked with NATO troops, what do you make of it all?

MCCHRYSTAL: I have never served with NATO forces before taking command in Afghanistan. And I have heard warnings about limitations, but my experience was very, very positive. The forces there, some have limitations of equipment, some have limitations of training, some have constraints from their nations, but everybody was trying to get the job done and I walked away with a much more positive view of how we play together, but also the importance of the alliances. So I think it's critical.

TAPPER: The book is One Mission, How Leaders Build a Team of Teams. The Authors are two American heroes, General Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell. Thanks so much for your time today and more importantly, thank you for your service to the nation.

MCCHRYSTAL: Thank you, Jake.

FUSSELL: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. You can watch me later tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." I'll be interviewing Speaker Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi live. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, obstructing justice - probe.