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CNN Projects Republican Handel Wins Georgia; White House Downplays Georgia House Race; Handel Wins Most Expensive U.S. House Race Ever; Handel Thanks Trump During Victory Speech; Handel's Campaign & Support Group Raised $23.7 Million; Ossoff's Campaign & Support Groups Raised $31.5 Million; Trump Tweets On Georgia Special Election; Pence In 2010: Don't Negotiate Health Care In Secret; U.S. Considers Retaliation Against N. Korea. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 21, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Amara Walker.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: I'm John Vause, here in Los Angeles. It has just gone 10:00 o'clock, thank you for being with us. Well, the most expensive Congressional House race in U.S. history is over and done. CNN projects Republican Karen Handel is the winner.
WALKER: For a victory as seen by many as a win for President Donald Trump, although the race was close in a district that has bet a Republican since the 1970's.
VAUSE: Well, to get to this hour; so, joining us now: CNN's Senior Political Media and Politics, Dylan Byers; Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman; and CNN Political Commentator, KABC Radio Host, and Trump Supporter, Philips.
WALKER: Also with us, CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein; and from Atlanta, CNN Politics Reported, Eric Bradner. Eric, let's start with you. The Republicans were supposed to win this special election, but it's still a very stinging loss for the Democrats who got pretty close.
ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That's right. The political world was watching Atlanta, the Northern suburbs today, where in a race that both sides spent a combined $50 million on. Democrats were really hoping they could flip this seat. It was the one that Trump beat Clinton by just one point in November, but Karen Handel, the Republican, managed to come out on top. She beat the Jon Ossoff, the Democrat, who raised more than $23 million by a margin of 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.
So, it's an important win for Republicans, because just five months into Trump's presidency, this was seen as a real test of his popularity, of whether Republican voters, particularly in suburban districts would stick with him after his trials and tribulation. And this race proved to just Republicans, not just in Georgia but on Capitol Hill, people who are facing tough re-election battles that maybe they can survive even if they stick with Trump. Here's what Handel had to say tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KAREN HANDEL (R-GA), HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEMBER-ELECT: And we need to also lift up this nation so that we can find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements, because in these United States of America, no one, no one should ever feel their life threatened over their political beliefs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRADNER: Now, Democrats saw this as a chance to send a message nationally. They saw Ossoff as a candidate who could sort of appeal to moderate Republican voters; he stayed away from attacking Trump and focused on casting himself as an independent, someone who could reach out across the aisle. But because he didn't succeed, Democrats are now facing a lot of questions about what kinds of candidates it will take to compete in these types of districts? Progressives are already blaming Ossoff and the Democratic establishment for not taking a more aggressive tone against Trump. Here's what Ossoff had to say this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON OSSOFF, FORMER POLITICAL AIDE AND DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: The more than 12,000 of you who as darkness has crept across this planet, have provided a beacon of hope for people here in Georgia, for people across the country, and for people around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRADNER: So, here's the situation: Democrats are now 0 and 4 in these special elections. They came close; they're doing better than they before in these heavily Republican districts. But the question the party has now to face is: when will they win?
WALKER: All right. Eric Bradner, reporting for us there in Atlanta, thank you very much.
VAUSE: OK. To our panel now, and you know, it was interesting because earlier in the day before the results came in, the White House Spokesman, Sean Spicer, was really downplaying the significance of this Congressional Election. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY: If you look historically, special elections, generally, don't foretell the outcome of races multiple years down the road. This is a race that the President - or a district of the President won by one point. Probably, it's going to be competitive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: But then the results came in and Donald Trump started tweeting; he put this out: "Well, the special elections are over, and those who want to make America great again are five and 0. All the fake news, all the money spent equals-not." Ron, first off to you, is Donald Trump the big winner tonight out of - you know, Karen have obviously won the election, but he seems to be the one that's come out ahead.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he is a winner tonight. And this is a reminder that, as we've before that despite his travails, the kind of the Republican heartland is holding with him. But there is other - this is not the kind of a core terrain on which the election will - the 2018 election will be decided. It is a Republican-leaning district, and is a reminder to Democrats that even in places where there are a lot of right or center, white collar, Republican-leaning voters, who are ambivalent at best about Trump, Republicans showed they still appeal to them by making this more about party loyalty than about loyalty to the President, which is what I think they did very effectively. That even if you have doubts about Donald Trump; do you want Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House?
That's an argument that's going to work in some place. And I think whether this says to Democrats are going to have to maximize their gains in places where that may be less effective; places like the suburbs of Los Angeles, the suburbs of Philadelphia, Northern Virginia. And we'll begin to see that play out, I think, this fall when you get to the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, where Donald Trump's approval rating is much lower than it is in the suburbs, northern suburbs of Atlanta. And in those places today, at least, the Democratic candidates are considerably ahead.
[01:06:02] WALKER: Dylan, this was a race that the Republicans couldn't afford to lose. Was this a bigger win for the Republicans or a bigger loss for the Democrats?
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL MEDIA AND POLITICS: Well, look, I think it's both. I mean, Democrats don't get to go out there and say this election is a referendum on the President of the United States. Anticipate that because of Trump's low approval ratings that somehow this will give them an opening to gain a House seat, and then go out there and pretend like this doesn't matter; this matters immensely.
What it tells you is a few things: one, it tells that all the money in the world that you collect, not just from the state which the race is in but from liberal corners like California, and New York, and Massachusetts. All the money in the world can't swing a district that's deeply red, deeply Republican if you don't have a powerful, effective candidate. And we've seen this time and time again, in these special elections - look, Trump's low approval rating isn't enough to swing the House.
You need to put up effective candidates; you need to put them up in districts that you can actually win. You know, it's similar to the story Hillary Clinton problem where you're not going to the Midwest but you're going to Arizona thinking if you can pick up Arizona. This remains a very Republican country in the heartland. Democrats need to get more strategic about where they can win, and they need to start putting up serious candidates who can actually win on more than just saying, I'm against Donald Trump; I'm not Donald Trump.
VAUSE: Yes, because Donald Trump was elected as the most unpopular presidential candidate in the history of this country. He is still deeply unpopular and clearly doesn't impact what's out there. But Caroline, to be fair, Georgia does not have a lot of close Congressional races. Out of 69 races since 2008, just one was decided by a margin or less than five percent and now looks like we have two. So, to your point, you would say that this result should set off alarm bells for the Republicans.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I know that it's setting off alarm bells for Republicans because they're looking at data. And I think you're absolutely right that the Democrats should have up to a stronger candidate, someone who wasn't as easily painted as an outsider. But at the end of the day, even with a weak candidate, he came within striking distance of a solidly Republican district: one that Tom Price won by almost 20 percentage points in the last race. So, this is an issue for Republicans, and I think that Donald Trump and Sean Spicer both were being strategic, right, downplaying it, because there's a possibility that she could lose and then as soon as she won, taking credit for it.
But at the end of the day, Handel ran away from Donald Trump; this was not a referendum on Donald Trump. And Ossoff also ran away from Donald Trump. Early on, he was very critical, right? That this was about really sending a message to Donald Trump. Both candidates stopped talking about him, so it became much more about the party. And at the end of the day, became a weak candidate in a heavily Republican district.
WALKER: What did you think, John, about Handel's messaging and kind of decency crystal from Trump?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: All politics is local, and she was the candidate that best fit that seat, and I want to go back to the point that was made about the margin of victory in other elections in Georgia. Well, in those elections, you had an incumbent running against a candidate that didn't have tens of millions of dollars to spend. Incumbents almost always win. Wherever you have an open seat, particularly, in a special election, sometimes you have strange results.
I remember when Neil Abercrombie was elected as Governor of Hawaii. You had a Republican picked up a heavily Democratic seat because you had that jumble primary in that special election. So, I think it is important that the Republicans did, with all the chaos going on right now in the political world, they had the ability to really buckle down and get this thing done, and win a race that had the Democrat on top by seven points-not that long ago. They deserve credits for this.
BYERS: I think that - I would just add: margins matter to political scientists and commentators. At the end of the day, there are wins and losses, and Republicans keep winning; the Democrats, at some point, need to get serious about that.
VAUSE: And there is - obviously, there's argument now going on all over this discussion or soul-searching, whatever you want to call it within the Democratic Party. Because within, you know, almost moments of Ossoff losing this election, Democracy for America which is a progressive liberal group, to put out in a statement, essentially attacking John Ossoff, and the campaign, and the Democrat party. This is part of the statement: "Tonight's result is disheartening to everyone who volunteered to help put another Democrat in Congress. The unforced errors by the party leadership and the campaign present an important learning opportunity for everyone who wants to keep Republicans out of power in 2018."
So, Ron, this is where the Democrats are heading now to essentially decide, you know, do they move towards the Bernie Sanders, or the Elizabeth Warren side of the Democrat Party or, you know, the Hillary Clinton-Nancy Pelosi side?
[01:10:35] BROWNSTEIN: Yes. And look, the answer is going to be in the midterm election, you could do some of both; you can customize to the districts. But ultimately, that the choice that is kind of framed by the action to the Ossoff loss is really a big one for 2020, which the do you believe that the road back against Donald Trump is primarily a candidate who appeals through economic populism, to try to regain some of those blue collar voters that moved away - that stamped away in large numbers? Or do you feel that the road back is more upscale, white collar, and thus is kind of less populist?
You have voters who are alienated from Trump on both cultural and kind of competence grounds, and you might risk alienating them by running two populist candidates. So, I think that is a big debate, but it's the - next debate, I think the more immediate challenge for Democrats is what the Dylan has been talking about, which is where do you find the seats you need to get two back majorities in 2018? And I do think this is going to kind of prompt real debate about that, because what this showed again is that, yes, Donald Trump is weak among white- collar voters, but the southern suburbs are different.
Hillary Clinton ran much more poorly among white-collar, white voter in Georgia than she did in Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or New York, or Colorado; we saw the same thing in 2014. And the idea that any place with a lot of well-educated voters and kind of leftist dealerships is open to Democrats in the Trump era, probably needs to be rethought.
WALKER: And we also want to bring you, guys, some update on the numbers that we're from the Georgia Special Election; if you can those numbers there on the screen. You can see Karen Handel now the lead, I guess it's near and just a tiny bit 51.9 percent; John Ossoff with 48.1 percent. So, a win by what-10,000 votes there. Ron, your take?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look - I mean, this continues, so this is why Special Elections are so maddening and why they historically if proven to be predictors. You can look at this and say, Donald Trump picked four Republicans, you know, plucked out four Republican districts; forced Democrats to run in them, held all of them which is an undeniable achievement for the Republicans. But in each of them now, the Republican margin in this Special Election has been vastly lower than what the margin was in the 2016 election that Tom Price won the seat by 23 points, and Karen Handel wins it by three and a half. And Mick Mulvaney, which we haven't talked about at all tonight in
South Carolina, he won by over 20 points and the Republican won tonight by three. And we saw the margins narrow significantly in the other Special Elections as well, particularly in Kansas. If Democrats can do that everywhere, they will on the brink of competing to flip the House in 2018, but you don't know if in 16 months that is still going to be true. And that's why names like, you know, Mark Critz from 2010, a Democrat who held a blue-collar seat in Pennsylvania and a Special Election have kind of become a footnote in history because he did not turn out to be a harbinger of what ultimately happened when Republicans had their big sweep that fall.
VAUSE: And just very quickly, Caroline, meanwhile - I think there's what 24 House seats the Democrats need to pick up in 2018. Five months ago no one was even thinking that was a possibility.
HELDMAN: Right, and it is a strong possibility now. In fact, on average, in off-election years, the party that is out of power in the White House picks up 30 seats, and four in the Senate. I think the Senate is, probably, an impossibility for Democrats, but the House is very much within our grasp. And remember, that's where impeachment proceedings begin. Of course, they start in the House and go to the Senate. My guess is, if the Democrats take it, they will immediately start impeachment proceedings against the President.
VAUSE: OK. Just very quickly, we still have a few questions to hammer, but there was a tweet which came out from Jon Ossoff's not-so- victory party. Apparently, he's got a cash bar at his victory party. So, the guy who raised a record amount of money, $26, $27 million, is charging people, I think, nine bucks for a glass of wine. So, John, maybe, you know, some of that might even have been better spent on buying everyone around a drink.
PHILLIPS: Yes. I think if you're a donor to the campaign, you're looking at that with a very angry eye. I don't think the Democrats are going to be able to take back the House of Representatives as long as Nancy Pelosi is the face of their party, and Russia is their issue. Nancy Pelosi outside of San Francisco is mollified on and we saw that tonight.
[01:14:50] BYERS: Well, wait. I would say this. Despite what I said about the fact that Democrats needs but wins on the board, the chances are getting close. The margins that they're making up are very serious. The fact that this race was so close since the 70's this districts has been margins of what-12 to 36 something like that. If I'm the Republicans right now, I'm worried about 2018. If the Democrats, I'm also worried about 2018. Because I know that this in the gimme it's not a layup.
[01:15:17] WALKER: But regarding this elections and what went so wrong for Ossoff? Was he just the wrong candidate and he's messaging with two in the middle.
BYERS: Two things he's the wrong candidate but let's not forget, you know, it's easy when your those donors in California, in New York- Massachusetts to think the rest of the country feels the way you do. A lot of this country, A not as fed up with Donald Trump as other people are, and B doesn't associate the rest of the Republican party with Donald Trump.
VAUSE: And with that, we will take short break, we'll have a lot more on the most expensive Congressional race in U.S. history and what it now means to the White House
WALKER: Welcome everyone. Returning now to the hard-fought Congressional race in Georgia and CNN is projecting Republican Karen Handel as the winner over Democratic newcomer John Ossoff. But it wasn't as easy a victorious Handel Presidential have enjoyed.
VAUSE: The district has been Republican since the 1970's that may think Ossoff might be able to change that by appealing to voters angry about President Trump's election. Handel didn't say much about President Trump during her campaign that though changed I don't think rally. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KAREN HANDEL (R), GEORGIA: And a special thanks to the President of the United States of America. But let's not forget our equally great Vice President Mike Pence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:20:31] WALKER: All right we are back now with our panel, CNN Senior Reporter for Media and Politics senior Dylan Byers, also Seema Mehta a Political writer for the Los Angeles Times.
VAUSE: Also Senior Reporter for Politico David Siders and CNN's Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. And, you know, if we look back in 2010, with the tea party self-wave of Republicans financial over Congress, you know, that doesn't seem to have happened at least not yet for Democrats. And Ron, the big difference right now it seems is back in 2010, the Republicans were all fired up and the Democrats were kind of depressed. If you look at this election it seems both sides are now fired up enthusiastic.
BROWNSTEIN: That's a really point. First off all there's an obvious different, which is that President Trump so far has been able to pick the playing field, right? He picked Republicans from his cabinet from four very reliably Republican districts and reliably Republican, you know, places Georgia and Kansas and Montana. And so forth so that, you know, every place is going to have to be fought out in 2018, including places where he is less popular than he was in these districts. There's was polling in this district that had him at 50 percent in approval last week. That's very, very different than his national numbers and his numbers in many of the places like Los Angeles and Philadelphia and Denver and Northern Virginia that would be, you know, the critical factors in 2018.
So there's a big difference but there is no doubt that what we see saw here was a very energize Republican base and success by Republicans I think in turning this from a referendum on the President, to back into this kind of a tribal parliamentary question which side do you want in control of Congress. Even if you don't like Donald Trump a whole heck of a lot, do you want Nancy Pelosi to be the Speaker? That was a pretty good argument for them in Georgia.
WALKER: And obviously that message resonated with the voters. Dylan let's talk about the money, I mean again as were saying this is the most expensive U.S. House race in history in U.S. history. Fifty billion dollars spent on ads but I guess even with Democrats spending so much money, I mean it doesn't how much money spend if you don't have a good message.
BYERS: No, you have to have a good message and you have to have a good candidate. And again that the issue here is the Democrats believed, much like Hillary Clinton believed during the 2016 campaign that there was so much antipathy toward Donald Trump that it would just be a sort of shoe in to put up any sort of Democrats and they could win in these very red districts. Now, Republicans - pardon me, Democrats, after all of these special elections that they've lost, are going to have to start thinking more seriously and more strategically and what I'm worried about in terms of, from the Democratic side is, are donors going to be as eager to put up money in races where they can actually win after having suffered so many losses, what good is all those money's -
VAUSE: You mean $26 million every time?
BYERS: Yes, I mean exactly. And think about, think about all the money that came out of out of Georgia but they came into California, New York, and Massachusetts those are big Democratic donor bases they've seen loss after loss after loss. What happens when the next Democratic candidate who can actually win in Los Angeles in Northern Virginia comes to them and says I need that same amount of money and they say well I don't know?
VAUSE: Well your Donald Trump was everywhere and nowhere in this campaign he did actually did go out and raise for Karen Handel aid, you know, tweeted a bit during the campaign and on election day. Here is one example, "Democratic Jon Ossoff who wants to raise your taxes to the highest level and is weak on crime and security, doesn't even live in the district". And there was this one "Karen Handel for Congress, she will fight for lower taxes, great healthcare strong security -- a hard worker who will never give up! VOTE TODAY". So, David, you've been saying this is a win for Donald Trump, this also a win for Mitch McConnell this certainly there as he tries to get healthcare through as well.
DAVID SIDERS, POLITICO SENIOR REPORTER: I think that -
VAUSE: Breaker, right?
SIDERS: If the Republicans had lost in that seat you would have had serious questions about the legislative agenda of Republicans going forward. And I think on the flip side, you can say that, you know, Ossoffs defeat is a big setback for the Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Karen Handel tied, you know, for supporters rather tied Ossoff to her at every turn and she continues I think to be toxic all these many years later. That's a lesson; I think that will be taken forward going into 2018.
WALKER: And speaking of healthcare, this is something that Senate lawmakers are trying to work on right now by the end of the month. And Democrats have been criticizing those closed-door deliberations but, you know, speaking of hypocrisy if you take a look at what Governor Mike Pence, when he was Governor of Indiana tweeted about what in 2010 he said this "It is simply wrong for legislation battle affect a 100 percent of the American people to be negotiated behind closed doors" yet what you have now is not exactly what's happening on the Republican side.
[01:25:20] SEEMA MEHTA, LOS ANGELES TIMES POLITICAL WRITER: Well it's kind of difficulty that Republicans are having for years and years, they talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. Now every campaign stop every Presidential election and now they actually had a chance to stop it, but it seems like they haven't actually come up with a plan that will both make their conservative members happy and make their more moderate members happy. You know, you have factions within the Republican Party we saw this with the House for the past and that, you know, that doesn't instead of passes Senate. And you have some very conservative people who believes that, you know, this is not in the Federal government prevue, you have some more moderate members who are like, this is going to affect so many of my constituents. And so that's something they have been struggling with, you know, since they've actually, you know, both controlled both Houses and then the position that actually just something about it.
VAUSE: And so David, if Jon Ossoff, the Democrat, had won this special election, would that mean he helped build his dead that was going to go nowhere?
SIDERS: No, I don't think it mean its dead I just think that --
VAUSE: If he had won yet?
SIDERS: I think it means there would have been issues with it. And there would have been some real questions in Congress about how popular those things would be back in their districts it would have concerns about some lawmakers potentially retiring and what would that mean for possible votes it would have thrown a whole ranch I think into the current Republican calculus which handles victory keeps in its current place.
WALKER: A lot of soul-searching, obviously would imagine happening right now Dylan, I mean what should these steps be going forward for the Democratic Party?
BYERS: Well, you know, to Jon, who's appeared on the last segments point I do think Democrats need to think seriously about who their leadership is. I think they need to think about what sort of what they're brand is to Americans. Because, again, voters in the swing districts and certainly in the Republican districts are not necessarily voting against Donald Trump their voting based on how they interpret the Democrats platform the Democrats message first the Republican platform, their Republican message. Both of those parties by the war are vying for a future that is separate from Donald Trump, Donald Trump really isn't a Republican question.
So right now there's sort of a crisis of leadership in the Democratic Party, question is who are we? What do we stand for? And who are our Ambassadors is really the question. Who are the Democratic Ambassadors? And then at the level of these House races where the Democratic candidates and I can't stress this enough, you look at Montana you look at Georgia, you look at some of the others special elections we've had. There is just this idea that you can win because Donald Trump is unpopular. Again, you need stronger candidate on that and you need candidates by the way who can bring in both the Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders wing of the party and sort of the Hillary Clinton, more moderate wing of the party. Who are those candidates, I don't think any of us can say.
MEHTA: I think Democrats were super excited post-inauguration they sound, you know, first the women's march hundreds of thousands of people taking the streets in D.C. and then cities across the country. Weekend after weekend, there is march after march there is, you know, angry people at Town Hall there are people protesting at fund raises that the two of us over the weekend for Republicans. So they're seeing all this, energy on the streets, so I thinking they are really thinking they could make it all about Donald Trump, and this election is another, you know, add Hilary Clinton sort of learned in the election in the Presidential Election, this election is prove that perhaps in a number of districts especially in that purple district you can't make it all about Donald Trump you have to find the right candidate that fits the district.
VAUSE: Ron, just very quickly, last words you. How long before the Democrats, you know, and what has to happen before they essentially abandon Nancy Pelosi? I know she's very much likely in the party because she's a good fundraiser but surely there comes a point.
BROWNSTEIN: It's a great question, I mean there's a lot of loyalty she is great fund-raiser. She has been effective speaker. But there's no question that Republicans here were as we've said were able to shift this primarily from a referendum on Trump to a referendum on which party do you want in control of the House with hers the symbol. And that kind of activated the underlying partisan loyalties of this district I think it some conversation that Democrats are increasing going to have to (INAUDIBLE) be as anything happens before 2018, though.
WALKER: All right, we're going to have a quick break. Ron Brownstein and Dylan Byers will be here with us but we want to thank Seema and David for joining us in discussion.
VAUSE: We'll see you next time.
WALKER: All right still ahead, the pressure is on, the U.S. to take action against North Korea after the death of an American student who returned home in a coma and then ended up dying. Possible options, coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [01:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Thanks for staying with, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. It has gone 10:33 here. I'm John Vause.
AMARA WALKER, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker, thanks so much for staying with us.
VAUSE: Back to our breaking news from the state of Georgia. CNN projecting Republican, Karen Handel, has won the Sixth District in a Special Congressional Election. Jon Ossoff tried to bring their election win since President Trump took over the White House.
WALKER: But it was Handel who won by almost four percentage points. Many thought the race would offer some telling signs ahead of the 2018 midterms. National politics played heavily into results but millions in outside money pumped into the most expensive House race ever.
VAUSE: Well, the U.S. now appears to be weighing its options against North Korea after the death of American student who was imprisoned there for more than a year. 22-year-old, Otto Warmbier, died on Monday, less than a week after returning in a coma.
WALKER: Where three Americans still detained in North Korea, the Trump administration has to be careful in its response. CNN's Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump expressing his personal anger over the death of American college student, Otto Warmbier.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto. That should never ever be allowed to happen.
TODD: The pressure is now ramping on the Trump administration to retaliate against North Korea for Warmbier's death. Was this now a red line incident with North Korea?
DR. PARTICK CRONIN, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY SENIOR ADVISOR AND SENIOR DIRECTOR: Anytime there's a death involving North Korean actions does cross a red line.
TODD: A military strike against Kim Jong-un's regime, analyst say, is too dangerous an option. Kim might retaliate by firing his missiles at Seoul, at Japan, or he could attack the 28,000 America troops in South Korea. But a cyber-attack on Kim's brewing missile program could be an option.
[01:35:05] CRONIN: There may be attacks, yes, we can take on missile launchers; there may be attacks we can take on the command and control center to send a signal to North Korea. You will not see the result of that, but Kim Jong-un will.
TODD: Experts say, hacking the regime's internal calls and e-mails, and putting them out in public is a possible retaliatory move. The U.S. and the U.N. have economic sanctions already in place against North Korea, targeting luxury good builds, and imports and exports which helped Kim's military. Those could be expanded. But what could hurt North Korea more, analyst believed, is that the U.S. applies so- called "secondary sanctions" against Kim's chief ally: China.
MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF STUDIES: It's pretty well- known that there's an extensive Chinese entity that helped North Korea evade those armed sanctions by the United Nations. We've had a limited number of cases where we've gone after Chinese firms for those reasons. We could greatly expand that number.
TODD: President Trump now signaling, he believes China's efforts with Kim Jong-un have fallen short. Tweeting: "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least, I know, China tried." The administration says it's looking at a possible ban on American tourist traveling to North Korea to ensure no other Americans meet Warmbier's fate. Expert say, the administration has to be careful in its response, so it doesn't put the three Americans currently being held by North Korea in any more danger. But the President, they say, likely has to show he's doing something.
CRONIN: If he fails to send a clear, visible signal, after the death of the young American, in the hand of this North Korean regime, he will be seen as lacking credibility; he'll be seen as weak around the world.
TODD: Experts say, one broad stroke move that could hurt Kim Jong-un financially is that the U.S. pressured countries in the Middle East and elsewhere to expel North Korean laborers. Experts say, there are tens of thousands of North Koreans working construction jobs and similar jobs all over the world, and they bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. Most of it, they say, goes right into the pockets of the regime. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: So, joining us now: CNN Senior Reporter for Media and Politics, Dylan Byers; And Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman.
WALKER: Also with us: CNN Political Commentator and Trump Supporter, John Phillips; and CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein. Ron, let's start with you because, obviously, the White House, under a lot of pressure to retaliate a respond to North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier. But the options - the reality of the options are very limited.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, you reminded the first year of new Presidents after presidential changeovers in elections about how intractable many of these problems are. I mean, you know, you hear presidents all the time said they are going to be tougher, they're going to stand up to North Korea, they're going to put more pressure on China to effectively lean on North Korea. All it takes is an application of presidential will, and in the office, and you find out and that there are other players in the world, and you know, the other side get to vote. And these situations have become - our options are very limited onto
North Korea, and it is not clear that we have the tools and our toolkit to entirely dissuade them from pursuing a nuclear - you know, pursuing their nuclear program. And I think President Trump has shown that - kind of mixed instinct in office at times he has spent toward more convention foreign policy that he had. Other times he has continued to challenge it, I don't think we know which way he is going to go here, but my guess is that like his predecessors, he will find that this is a problem without a clear and convincing solution.
VAUSE: And John, this seems to be about his credibility in moments that Presidents often faces, as Ron was saying, much early than they ever sort of anticipated. And I guess the question is: you know, there have been inconsistencies in the past in Donald Trump and foreign policy which leads to this sort of uncertainty right now as to where this president will go?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, there is not an inconsistency in Donald Trump's ability to believe in his, ability to persuade others, and his ability to charm others. And I think that's in part what you saw in that tweet where said, China tried. The United States government is going to have to lean China because North Korea is primarily a China's problem, where if that regime were to fail, you'd have millions of people going into China and they've become China's responsibility. I would assume that there'd be minimum travel restrictions after this, there has to be some kind of response. I don't believe the North Korea government's office tale of what happened to this poor guy, and they need to pay for it.
WALKER: Let me read that tweet again because I think a lot of people were confused by it, including people in President Trump's own administration. And this is what President Trump tweeted: "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least, I know, China tried." What does Trump mean by this tweet?
[01:40:02] DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: I think Riley calls it mixed message from the President. By the way, not just on China and North Korea, but served across the board in terms of foreign policy. I think you look at the tweet like that, we've become so sort of jaded by the way that Trump uses Twitter here on the domestic front. It's important to remember what that - a tweet like that does internationally. And for me, it's not a question of mixed messages; it's a question of bucking responsibility.
I mean, it's really a question of sort of throwing this on the lap of the Chinese President and sort of suggesting that, you know, this isn't sort of my fault. You can't simultaneously be a president, who suggests that America needs to take a leading role in the world, or that it served the greatest country in the world, and in simultaneous to just all flip responsibility for this on China. I understand North Korea is first and foremost China's problem but is also an American problem. VAUSE: And Caroline, I mean, this is President, who not too long ago said he would be honored to meet with Kim Jong-un. And this is about what I mean running into it with the consistencies of this Trump presidency. And now, with this tweet, some are weighing this is like, the time has come for the viewers to take some kind of action, maybe military action aimed at North Korea.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he has military options; he has cyber-attack options, and he has economic options. At the end of the day, I find that tweet to be somewhat disingenuous because if you look at how North Korea's allowed to function internationally, it's really because of China. Did they really do enough? I mean 85 percent of what's and going out of North Korea is facilitated by China. So, it does sound like Donald Trump is saying; yes, now we're going to step in and do something.
And to defend the President a little, I think that his kind of erratic foreign policy works well here because we have no idea what he's going to do, and that probably means it will discourage a lot of behavior from someone who's equally unpredictable: Kim Jong-un. Although in this particular case, the situation with Otto is something that I think both parties, a bipartisan issue, there needs to be a response, so what will it be?
WALKER: Well, the President is putting out this tweet just a day or two before U.S. officials meet with Chinese officials in their annual meeting in Washington. And Ron, again, when you read the tweet and you're wondering what does President Trump is saying? Is he saying that the U.S. is going to go at it alone? I mean, gosh, you know, at least China tried. Doesn't that weaken Trump hand when it comes to talking with the Chinese and trying to take a hard line?
BROWNSTEIN: You know, like I said, I've been struck how often new president's come in and say they're going to bend China to our will by being tougher, more resolute, smarter. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush did it; I mean it's common. And then you'll find that there are so many irons in the fire at once. It is impossible to let anyone issue, dominate the relationship to the exclusion of all others. And I think, you know, this is actually a somewhat conciliatory - a surprisingly conciliatory quote toward China. Basically saying, we haven't gotten the results we want out of North Korea, obviously, with this horrible incident, but I don't blame you; it's not your fault. And I do think it both points toward his desire to have a more conciliatory relationship with China than he signaled on the campaign trail. And simultaneously that whatever happens next on North Korea, maybe more unilateral from the U.S.
VAUSE: OK. Yes. I was the baiting correspondent through the Bush years, George W. Bush years, and the Obama years. And both those administration had exactly the same policy the Trump has right now, that North Korea is China's, let's pressure China to do something, and it never worked.
WALKER: Well, the options are pretty limited.
BYERS: They just didn't do anything about it, clearly. [01:43:30] VAUSE: They didn't anything. OK. Thank you, both. Thank you, all of you for being with us. OK, we'll take a short break. When we come back, soldiers in Brussels had shot dead a man suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack, we have details on what witnesses heard the man yelling before he set off his explosives.
[01:47:42] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. It's just gone 10:47 here on the West Coast. We'd like to recap the election results now from Georgia's sixth congressional district, CNN projecting Republican Karen Handel as the winner over Democrat Jon Ossoff. But, she did not coast to an easy win. The 30-year-old Democrat newcomer appealed to voters who opposed President Trump.
The race captured national attention and generated a historic $50 million in campaign spending. But, the relentless ads describing Ossoff as a big spending liberal, seemed to hurt. A Belgian soldier shot and killed a man suspected of trying to bomb the Brussels Central Station. No word on the identity of the suspect, but authorities are treating this as a terrorist attack. No one was injured after the man set off at least one small explosion in an underground area of the crowded station. Here's Erin McLaughlin now reporting in from Brussels.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vause, you can see here, outside the train station, there is a very heavy police presence. They've cordoned off the area, not allowing traffic to go anywhere near the train station. We saw two bomb disposal units also enter the area. We understand that authorities are working to try to make sure there are no other explosives inside the station itself. Now, in terms of how this attack unfolded, the federal prosecutor for Belgium gave a press conference earlier this evening, describing what happened.
ERIC VAN DER SYPT: 8:30, there has been a small explosion in central station here in Brussels. The suspect has been neutralized by the military that were present at the scene immediately after the explosion.
MCLAUGHLIN: Footage shot by eyewitnesses from inside the station shows smoke filling the station. One eyewitness saying that he heard the suspect shout "Allahu Akbar" before being shot. Now, in terms of the overall security situation here in Belgium, authorities are keeping the threat level at three, which means an attack is possible and likely. We also understand the prime minister will be chairing a national security meeting in the morning. Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.
[01:50:00] VAUSE: A warning now, our next story contains some very graphic and disturbing video. Dashcam images showing the moments leading up to Philando Castile's fatal shooting have just been released. Last week, a Minnesota jury found Officer Jeronimo Yanez, not guilty of Castile's death last year. Until now, only those involved directly in the case had seen the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERONIMO YANEZ, POLICE OFFICER: The reason I pulled you over, your brakes lights are out. So, you only have one active brake light, and that's on your passenger side. Your third break light which is one up here on top, and on this one back here, is going to be out. Do you have your license and insurance?
PHILANDO CASTILE: Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.
YANEZ: OK, don't reach for it then. Don't pull it out.
CASTILE: I'm (INAUDIBLE)
YANEZ: Don't pull it out!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just killed my boyfriend. He wasn't reaching. He wasn't reaching.
YANEZ: Don't pull it out!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't.
YANEZ: Don't move!
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: During his testimony, Yanez says he fired in self-defense because he thought Castile was reaching for a gun. The police department now says it's best if Yanez leaves the force and he will not be returning to active duty. A short break, when we come back, our breaking news, we'll check in with all the numbers on Republican Karen Handel and her big win in Georgia's special election.
[01:55:24] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, 10:55 here in Los Angeles. Our breaking news, U.S. President Donald Trump is claiming a victory in Georgia's special congressional election. Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in what many saw as a test for Mr. Trump. Handel will take over the seat vacated by the health secretary, Tom Price.
WALKER: All right. And let's check out the latest numbers now with 99 percent of the vote in. Handel has 51.9 percent, Ossoff with 48.1 percent.
VAUSE: OK. With this just in now, in CNN The New York Times reporting that Travis Kalanick the man who founded the ride-sharing jive Uber has stepped down as CEO, apparently after a shareholder revolt. He'll reportedly stay on the board of directors. WALKER: Kalanick took an indefinite leave of absence last week after
overseeing a disastrous series of P.R. nightmares, and those included sexual assault allegations within the company. The sections of top executives and viral video of Kalanick berating one of his own drivers.
VAUSE: OK. You've been watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. We'll be back with more news right after this.