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Aired July 29, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- B.S. that's been going on in the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our president is impulsive, deceitful, autocratic, narcissistic, General Kelly can't fix that with a better organizational chart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome to the NEWSROOM.
All right, so resign and replaced after a dramatic week of very public infighting at the White House. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus steps down. Trump named homeland security secretary and Retired General John Kelly as his new right-hand man.
Priebus made the announcement just 24 hours after new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci went on a vulgar rant against him accusing Priebus of leaking information to the press, but Priebus tells CNN this is not a sign of a rift in the west wing. It's rather a recess.
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REINCE PREIBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it's a good time to hit the reset button. I think he was right to hit the reset button and I think that it was something that I think the White House needs. I think it's healthy.
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WHITFIELD: But will it be a reset for Trump's agenda? This week was punctuated by Senate Republicans' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare and today the president is tweeting major criticisms against GOP lawmakers, a seeming misunderstanding about how the vote failed. More on that in a moment.
But first let's talk more about this major staffing change within the executive branch. Reince Priebus is the sixth member of the Trump administration to resign or be fired since February.
I'm joined now by CNN White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, who is live for us on the north lawn of the White House. So Kaitlan, we know Priebus has also been accused of being a source of the leaks from the White House. Are you hearing anything more about whether that is indeed connected to his resignation?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fred, there are many things that led to Reince Priebus' resignation, but it's hard to see how these allegations that the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, made against him this week weren't part of that.
Now Wolf Blitzer asked Reince about this last night during his first interview after it was announced that he would be replaced with John Kelly. So, let's listen to what Reince had to say Wolf.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you the leaker in the White House?
PRIEBUS: That's ridiculous, Wolf. Come on. Give me a break. I'm not going to get into his accusations.
BLITZER: Why not respond?
PRIEBUS: Because I'm not going to because it doesn't honor the president. I'm going to honor the president every day. I'm going to honor his agenda and I'm going to honor our country and I'm not going to get into all of this personal stuff.
BLITZER: Is there a leaking problem in the White House based on what you've seen?
PRIEBUS: Yes, I think that General Kelly should see if he can get to the bottom of it and figure it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So as you can see there, Fred, Reince Priebus is downplaying these tensions between him and the new communications director and between him and the president himself.
But what's clear is that Donald Trump didn't think Reince Priebus was strong enough to be his chief of staff. But now the questions are turning to what questions John Kelly is walking into on Monday.
He's going to be sworn in as the new chief of staff. There will be a new cabinet meeting immediately afterward. He'll have the same problem that Reince Priebus is. Those problems aren't disappearing just because he left.
They're still going to be there. It will be interesting to see how John Kelly will handle it. One of the things that Reince Priebus had to deal with was how many people had direct access to the president.
Typically, in most White Houses, the chief of staff is the person who funnels all the information to the president, people go to them, but in this White House so many people have oval office privileges where they can walk in and tell the president what they're thinking.
So, the hierarchy here with John Kelly in charge will be what everyone is keeping an eye on next week -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much from the White House.
COLLINS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: So important to put into context here, the role Priebus played during Trump's campaign and the Republican Party as a whole. Many saw him as an intermediary between the White House and moderate Republicans, valued for his connections in the Washington establishment.
CNN correspondent, Boris Sanchez, joining me now for more on how Washington overall is reacting. So, Boris, we know that Priebus is friends with the House Speaker Paul Ryan and Paul Ryan has already said a lot about his friend.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. The two men very close friends, they both come from the same state, Wisconsin, they have been close for quite some time and House Speaker Paul Ryan put out perhaps the most heartfelt statement that we've seen so far regarding the resignation of former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
It reads in part, quote, "Reince Priebus has left it all out on the field for our party and our country. Here is a guy from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who revitalized the Republican National Committee and became White House chief of staff.
He has served the president and the American people capably and passionately. He's achieve so much and has done it all with class. I could not be more proud to call Reince a dear friend."
Ryan then goes on to congratulate Priebus' replacement Secretary John Kelly on his appointment and says that he looks forward to working with him to advance the agenda.
[12:05:03] Some Republicans, though, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have gone on to point out that Reince Priebus was instrumental not only in electing President Trump but also in sustaining the Republicans' success over the last several elections.
Here's a tweet from Newt Gingrich. He writes, quote, "Reince Priebus worked nonstop for over six years to elect a GOP president, House, and Senate. Trump would have lost without the RNC ground game."
Of course, on the other side of the aisle, Democrats are pouncing on the recent changes of staff in the White House saying that this is an indication of chaos, even dishonesty.
Here's California Congressman Ted Lieu writing, quote, "firing of Reince Priebus shows the February statement by the president that his administration was a fine-tuned machine was a lie then and is a lie now."
He also went on to tweet about John Kelly, writing, quote, "Dear White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, good luck." Not exactly the congratulatory tone that many in Congress have taken toward the former head of DHS -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that's quite the earful. That sounds like -- while people were reticent to be critical of the White House for a long time, this has unleashed something else. All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you.
So, with Priebus out and Kelly in as White House chief of staff, there is a lot of speculation that more presidential staff changes could be on the way. Some White House advisers and members of the president's inner circle are weighing in on the shake-up this morning.
Counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, hinted that the chief of staff change should send a loud and clear message to White House leakers.
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KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think General Secretary Kelly will bring some strength and discipline and put out without even saying so the dictum that loose lips sinks ships. I think people will think thrice before they try to hurt each other, hurt their colleagues by using the press to do so or even to think that they're helping the president by conveying information that perhaps is not yet ripe for public disclosure or is in negotiation or conversation.
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WHITFIELD: All right. Let's discuss this with our panel now. Joining me now is CNN political commentator and former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer. Also with me is Michael Nutter, a CNN political commentator and former mayor of Philadelphia. Good to see both of you, Gentlemen.
So, Andre, you first, is that why Reince Priebus was fired? Kellyanne Conway all but called him, you know, a leaker. Is that why he resigned?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't see it that way. First off, this is a great time to be an American. You've got a visionary president who's not worried about making sure everybody's job is protected like a college professor. There is no tenure. This is a Fortune 500 type of business.
They're running it like he said he would. He's going to drain the swamp. Quite frankly, as one of the Republicans that early on supported President Trump, I wasn't very fond of bringing so many from within Washington in. Reince Priebus did a great job.
But, look, this is about making things happen. We've had some field goals put on the board, but we need touchdowns, and so, some of the things that we wanted to see happen quite frankly haven't happened.
Now we have a leader. There is a full-fledged chain of command where the president is in charge and he directly tells one person, look, my grandfather retired as an admiral.
I appreciate when you have structure, leadership, discipline, and guidance, and that's what's going to happen to this White House now. It will be a totally different approach.
And I'm excited about the fact that General Kelly is going to be in there and people are going to know who's in charge and they'll have a top-down approach, which will be much better.
WHITFIELD: So, Andre, just looking at that Newt Gingrich message where he said without the GOP ground game, giving big praise to Reince Priebus, Trump would not have lost. You said draining of the swamp and Reince Priebus kind of in there with draining of the swamp. Do you disagree with Newt Gingrich that if not for a portion of the establishment Trump would not have won?
BAUER: Actually, I respect Newt Gingrich more than anybody else in Washington for having a grip on what goes on there. Reince did get Donald Trump elected, there is no question, but that doesn't mean that he is the right person to continue the message. He's got Donald Trump in there, gotten to where he understands the process better.
WHITFIELD: So, now it's no thank you.
BAUER: I think the White House needs to take a different direction and that direction is where one person talks to the president and that person, who everyone respects an if they don't they get dismissed, will be a much better approach moving forward so they can get the real legislative accomplishments that the American people not only want but expect.
WHITFIELD: So then Michael, what do you interpret the message to be? Is it thanks, you did great for a minute, and now we don't need you, or is it reset, I guess a return to some order after currently a lot of chaos?
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Fredricka, notwithstanding that brave defense by Andre, this is further example of the house of chaos over which Donald Trump is trying to preside.
[12:10:13] The place is a mess. You have six folks down already in the first six months. He's coming up on his second chief of staff, and I've met General Kelly once, I served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council so obviously I don't know him very well.
I respect him for his service, but let's be honest, the White House is not the Pentagon. It is a very, very different place. When you're a general in our military, you know, everyone looks up to you, and of course, jump to attention when he walked in the room.
I hope he gets that same level of respect, but to put any of this on Mr. Priebus or all the other folks, let's again be honest. Donald Trump picked every one of these people. They were not handed to him. They were not holdovers from a previous administration. They weren't in civil service.
He has to take full responsibility for his White House and the chaos that has ensued and the only way that Secretary Kelly, General Kelly, is going to be successful is if the president, the executive, empowers him to be in charge.
This idea that somehow -- and I don't know Mr. Priebus at all, but the chief of staff is can only be as strong as the executive that he or she serves. And clearly, Mr. Trump did not empower Mr. Priebus to actually do his job.
The chief of staff job in my view is the toughest job in the executive branch because you have to manage both down and up. You've got to keep the staff in line and enthused and working hard every day, but you also have to manage up, manage the executive.
Donald Trump will not allow himself to be managed because the only thing that matters to him is Donald Trump.
WHITFIELD: So then, Andre, do you see the president empowering, to use Michael's word, ep empowering General Kelly as a chief of staff? Because you've been hearing all kinds of descriptions of what's going on right now is like, you know, the "Game of Thrones" or even "The New York Post," you know, made a reference right there to, you know, "Survivor" in the White House.
BAUER: Well, again, look, I tried to go back and count. I was lieutenant governor for eight years. I was elected by the people and I decided that I thought I was in charge because the people elected me.
I went through six chief of staffs because I wanted to make sure the results I wanted were what was established. When you get people in there, sometimes they're directing changes after they get that power.
Donald Trump has a clear vision and he'll go through a lot of different employees and a lot of different positions. At the end of the day, the people that elected him don't care about the process. All they care about are results.
They don't care who the chief of staff is. They want to see their taxes lower, something done with Obamacare. They want results. They don't care who's in office.
When Donald Trump finds that person that he gels with and makes it work, it's like a quarterback having the right receiver that knows where to go to get the job done at the end of the day. I believe Donald Trump has found that individual.
WHITFIELD: So, Andre, are those results also predicated on some order and for a managing White House?
BAUER: Well, I think Donald Trump expected to see the vote for Obamacare different this week and he didn't see that. I think that was a clear indicator that he's disappointed and again --
WHITFIELD: And that was the chief of staff's mistake?
BAUER: -- the White House doesn't contact me often to give me who's supposed to be delivering, but at the end of the day, I think you're going to see a lot of positions where the president moves people in and out of positions.
Hey, look, it speaks volumes that his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, didn't say anything negative about the president. In fact, quite the contrary, he said very positive things even though he's no longer serving in that capacity. That speaks volumes about the president and the person that was the chain of command that he answered to.
WHITFIELD: All right. Go ahead, Michael, real quick.
NUTTER: He gave his interview in the White House. I don't think he's going to bad mouth the president while he's in the White House. But, you know, what we've seen, Andre, is a whole lot of fumbles and interceptions and that team is just a mess. It is not going to the Super Bowl anytime soon.
WHITFIELD: All right, Andre --
BAUER: (Inaudible) because the Democrats have no vision, no leadership, and no directive whatsoever, so at least the Republicans are getting something accomplished.
NUTTER: Yes, we'll see in 2018.
WHITFIELD: We'll continue some of this. Trash talking on the other side of the break. Hold tight.
We'll take a closer look at the wild week in Washington with this White House shake-up. Anthony Scaramucci's rise and Reince Priebus' fall and the failure of Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare. All of that straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. For President Trump it was a week filled with political chaos and conflict. The past few days, no doubt, testing the Republican agenda. Keep in mind, it was supposed to be what the administration dubbed American heroes week.
Instead, the White House faced pushback over the president's decision to ban transgender military personnel. The week also included a failed effort by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
And did we mention incoming Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci? He trashed his colleagues during an expletive and vulgar interview. Now Reince Priebus out and John Kelly in as the new chief of staff. A lot to talk about. Let's bring back now Andre Bauer and Michael Nutter. All right, welcome back, Gentlemen. So, let's start with the latest staffing shake-up. President Trump promising to drain the swamp. The latest example the firing of Reince Priebus and now John Kelly being brought in. So, this restart, Andre, does this exemplify draining the swamp?
BAUER: I don't know that it exemplifies draining the swamp and I didn't mean that as far as taking everybody out.
[12:20:07] I think you've got to have some folks that have institutional knowledge from within Washington to help the process. But I think there are certain positions where to get the full results -- look, the president shot for the moon.
He is wanting to change so much that's going on for so many years that people didn't want to address or quite frankly have it. When you're tackling the enormous issues that he is, to take America what it once was, and that was the beacon of the world, everybody else wanted to be like, that's a lot of big things.
Whatever barometer you want to use, reduction in illegal immigration, the stock market, record job numbers, the numbers are changing and America is drastically getting better in a very short period of time, but we could do more and the president expects more.
WHITFIELD: And so, Michael, can this president promote change without the use of Washington insiders, whether you call them, you know, members of the swamp or not, I mean, can you get business done without that Washington know-how?
NUTTER: Well, first of all, the first thing that needs to change is Donald Trump. And until he changes, most of his agenda is not going to get done, notwithstanding fact that Republicans have the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate and still can't get out of their own way on the signature issue that they talked about but had nothing to show for the last seven years.
WHITFIELD: And why is that?
NUTTER: I think Mr. Trump forgot that if you are going to drain the swamp, you have to put that water somewhere and apparently it ended up right in the White House water fountain. So, he has no idea what he's doing.
We've withdrawn from the world and many of our best allies now have come to say that we can't rely on the United States of America. And so, you know, that is not leadership. So, this shake-up, the sixth person gone high-level person in six months.
The new communications director who apparently has difficulty communicating, doesn't know that if you call a reporter up and talk to them it's probably going to be on the record. And totally trashed two top colleagues within his first week. That is not exactly an auspicious start.
So, you do need the mechanics, the establishment, the people who actually know something about government since Mr. Trump never served in government and has no idea what it's like to run a government. It's not a real estate private firm.
And so, you do need some of those players with inside experience, outside experience, you put together a team, go back to Andre's analogy earlier, what you have is a team of football players, who don't know each other, don't like each other and everyone's off in their own direction notwithstanding what play gets called in the huddle. That's not a team. That's a pickup game that's not going very well.
WHITFIELD: So, Andre, you know, CNN's Chris Cilizza writes this, "The truth is that this is a president who creates chaos in and around him. He acts, and then watches the wildness that ensues. The plan, seemingly, is that there is no plan." Do you agree with that? Is there a plan?
BAUER: Absolutely not. I mean, look, our allies are complaining because we're not giving them the money we were before. We said we're retire this debt, getting our financial house back in order. That's responsibility.
That may offend people, but it doesn't offend me because I'm tired of paying for the world's problems instead of them paying their fair share and that's what most Americans want.
So, the results are happening. Whether the Democrats want to acknowledge it or not, and quite frankly, some of the moderate Republicans that have called themselves Republicans only because they can get re-elected in their district.
I think 2020 will be very exciting because you'll see some Republicans get moved out that haven't acted like Republicans for a long time and it happened in our statehouse and it's continuing to happen.
And the Democrats better come up with a better message in just being obstructionist or they'll be a defunk party all together, they'll meet in counties in a phone booth instead of having a party because they keep trying to block anything instead of saying here's what we think we ought to do to replace Obamacare.
Work with us and vote with you and trying to find some common ground, which is how I got stuff done while I was in the legislature.
WHITFIELD: OK, except Andre, Republicans have the majority in both houses and the White House so the argument of obstructionist is really difficult for people to see. Case in point, this past week with this health care and the dramatic ending of health care. Republicans mostly failing to repeal Obamacare with that dramatic no coming from John McCain no less.
So, is this going to be the impetus now for a more bipartisan effort to try to salvage existing Affordable Care Act, Michael?
NUTTER: It should be and it should have been from the start. You know, when you look at what's going on either in the Trump White House or with the Republican Party, it's reminiscent of the great high school classic "The Lord of The Flies."
[12:25:05] And they are spending so much time fighting amongst themselves and stabbing each other in the throat that they can't get anything done. So, my hope is -- and if they really took to heart what John McCain said and did, that an era of bipartisan should come over at both the House and the Senate.
The American people actually do want us to get some things done and Democrats recognized, and President Obama would be the first to say, because we had to compromise, that there are some elements of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, that can and should be fixed.
What has happened here has become so politically toxic that that the parties are not even talking with each other, trying to lay out a set of principles. It could be five things, ten things they probably could agree upon like lowering premiums, making sure that pre-existing conditions are covered, et cetera, et cetera.
And so maybe as a result of this past disastrous week on the Republican leadership, Democrats and Republicans will start working on behalf of all of the American people not just the 30 percent support base that Mr. Trump has.
WHITFIELD: So Andre, real quick, do you see McCain's message as resonating in the halls of Congress or even the White House?
BAUER: No. With all due respect to my friend, Mr. Nutter, not one Democrat voted the other way. They're obstructionist. They are not confirming even ambassadorships. We have ambassadorship posts --
NUTTER: Not one Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act. Get out of here.
BAUER: Yes, and look at the failure it is and the continuing not addressing it means that Americans --
NUTTER: Why didn't you repeal it?
BAUER: -- instead of the Democrats working with them to get something done, they'd rather do nothing and leave people without any type of care at all which quite frankly it should be free market and the government should not have gotten involved in it in the first place.
WHITFIELD: Look here, this is a new message coming from the president tweeting this, "After seven years of talking repeal and replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding Obamacare." So maybe that's the answer to my question about whether John McCain's message has resonated in the halls of the Capitol Hill or the White House.
NUTTER: I think you got the answer.
WHITFIELD: OK, message received. All right, Andre Bauer, Michael Nutter, appreciate it. Thanks so much, Gentlemen.
OK, health care will be a hot topic on tomorrow's "STATE OF THE UNION." Jake Tapper talks with Senators Susan Collins and Bernie Sanders. "STATE OF THE UNION" airs 9 a.m. Eastern tomorrow on CNN. We'll be right back.
[12:31:44] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. The week of chaos in the White House began with the president's stinging tweets about his U.S. attorney general.
On Monday, President Trump blasted Jeff Sessions saying this, quote, so why aren't the committees and investigators and of course our beleaguered A.G. looking into crooked Hillary's crime and Russia relations?
And then on Tuesday, the president tweeted, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton's crimes. Where are e-mails and DNC server and Intel leakers?"
And it wasn't until Thursday that Sessions addressed the president's criticism. Take a listen.
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JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader. I serve at the pleasure of the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SESSIONS: He wants to make a change, he can certainly do so. And I would be glad to yield in that circumstance. No doubt about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHTIFIELD: All right, all of this amid a major shake-up in the Trump administration. And with President Trump so frustrated that it begs the question, is Sessions next in line to be forced out.
I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Michael Zeldin. He was also Robert Mueller's special assistant at the Department of Justice. Good to see you.
All right, so Michael, the president has repeatedly slammed Sessions. Could he legally fire Sessions and call for a recess appointment?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he can fire Sessions anytime he wants to. It is the president's sole prerogative, very different than Mueller where he does not have that prerogative.
As to a recess appointment, Congress generally does not go fully out of session. They've always kept in session to prevent these types of recess appointments. I don't know whether they would go out under those circumstances to allow the president to make a recess appointment.
I think that they would be disinclined to do that because the firing of Jeff Sessions and the effort to impose a new attorney general who probably would be there principally to get rid of Mueller would set off such a constitutional crisis for the president that I think the senators are trying to, you know, sort of protect the president from himself in preventing that from happening.
WHITFIELD: So you said the president could fire Sessions. Because even Sessions said (INAUDIBLE) remind everybody, he serves at the pleasure of the president. But what did the president have to have a reason for letting the A.G. go?
ZELDIN: No, he doesn't. He can let the A.G. go at his whim. It is an appointment that is solely within the power of the president to appoint.
The political consequences are significant potentially but as a matter of right, he can fire the A.G. as opposed to Mueller, who only the A.G. can fire and only the A.G. can fire for good cause shown. And so if the gambit is, I fire Sessions, I bring in a new A.G., assuming I can get one past the Senate --
WHITFIELD: And I was going to say that would be potentially problematic with the Senate.
ZELDIN: Absolutely. But assuming he can get one in there or somehow they sneak a recess appointment in. If the gambit is, I get my new A.G. in there and that the A.G. then not recused from the Mueller investigation, endeavors to fire Mueller, that's a bigger problem, because Mueller can only be fired for cause.
[12:35:10] And as far as we know on the public record, there is no misconduct or conflict of interest or malfeasance that Mueller has engaged in that would justify that firing. And so that's why I say in some sense the Senate is protecting the president from himself because going down that path I think is legally problematic and politically probably dangerous.
WHITFIELD: OK. Dangerous on many levels because if you've got the president who's already said he is upset with the A.G. for recusing himself for any involvement in the, you know, Russia/Trump camp investigations. And then the A.G. were somehow removed, Mueller is already investigating the real impetus for removing the FBI director after the president said out loud to a television network that it was largely because of the Russia thing.
So, doesn't the president potentially get himself into bigger trouble as it relates to the Russia investigation and Mueller?
ZELDIN: I think absolutely so, because if you look back in history at other similarly situated presidents, Nixon most particularly. This behavior of firing the special prosecutor in the Nixon case or in this case firing the A.G. and then endeavoring to fire Mueller. All leads to a possible conclusion by the House that this is an obstruction of justice endeavor. And that in lies the possible impeachment article.
And so, again, I think that the president hasn't thought through the implications of everything he's trying to do which he thinks is helpful to himself. But just like that mistaken interview with Lester Holt and the comments to Kislyak in the White House that he was firing Comey because of Russia. If he's not thinking through this through the end, he's getting himself in a more precarious legal position.
And, you know, hopefully when Ty Cobb gets on board at the end of the week, he'll tell the president why these things shouldn't be done legally and he'll hopefully be able to keep the president from hurting himself.
WHITFIELD: Also very complicated but you break it down (INAUDIBLE) for us. Thank you so much, Michael Zeldin. Appreciate it.
ZELDIN: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: All right, North Korea making another provocative threat. This time claiming its missile can hit anywhere in the U.S. Our live report next.
[12:41:44] WHITFIELD: North Korea says it now has missile that can hit some of the biggest cities in America and experts agree. Analysts say Friday's test missile is more advanced than the one launched earlier this month. Traveling 2,300 miles high for a distance of 621 miles.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un says that puts the whole U.S. mainland in range. And at least one analyst says if the missile were fired at a flatter trajectory, North Korea could strike anywhere from Los Angeles to Chicago.
CNN International Correspondent Alexandra Field is in Seoul, South Korea. So Alex, how is the U.S. responding to this latest test?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been a swift response, Fred, from the U.S. and from South Korea and from other countries in the region. That is because this is being heralded as a significant advancement.
First of all, it's being widely celebrated in North Korea. The images of this launch were quick to hit the air waves in that country because they tout this as a tremendous victory. It is raising major concerns, though, for the U.S., for South Korea. It poses threats not just to security in the region, of course, but also globally.
South Korean officials were quick to say this ICBM appeared to be a more advanced launch than what we saw just about three weeks ago when North Korea launched it first test ICBM. And they said that was because the range on this missile appeared to be greater, threatening the continental United States. Compare that to the previous test where estimates -- where experts agreed that the threat was to just Alaska.
So that's the advancement that you're seeing here. U.S. President Donald Trump quickly putting out a statement saying that all steps would be take on the protect the American homeland. The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson singling out China and Russia in his statement, calling them out really for being the economic enablers as he put it of this missile and nuclear program that so threatens global security at this stage.
The threats to North Korea, the warnings to North Korea, the sanctions all efforts to try and put a stop to this rapid acceleration of the missile program and the nuclear program have failed, Fredricka. You heard the Trump administration say they are looking for a new approach to rein in this regime.
So far nothing seems to be working. Kim Jong-un has overseen at least 12 different ballistic missile launches since just the start of the year. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Alexandra Field, thank you so much from Seoul.
All right, still ahead for us, we'll take a look at the 19 seconds of drama on the Senate floor during the health care bill vote. And see how fellow lawmakers react at the Senator John McCain's maverick moment.
But first in this week's "Start Small Think Big." This one takes a look at a small business in Florida using drones for racing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM NILSON, FOUNDER, LUMENIER: Hi, my name is Tim Nilson and this is Lumenier.
We design parts here like propellers or brush-less motors or these airframes.
For the drone racing and acrobatic contests.
The beauty of FPV which stands for first-personal views that the picture is sent from the camera to the pilot with the help of video goggles. From that groove, this enormous sport of people racing each other, incredible videos with these acrobatic airframes that are then being consumed by a huge audience online.
[12:45:11] We sponsored many of the most famous pilots. And the reason is that, it's a very effective form of marketing because under the video they list what components they've used.
Guys, today we have Cody a.k.a. code red with us. So we want to talk about the frame we've been working with him on.
Also, the pilot provides a lot of very relevant and important feedback to us. We are all pilots here. The test flying, the prototyping, the crashing, the learning about what could be improved, that's a big part of the job, one that I enjoy very much.
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(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:50:11] WHITFIELD: Tonight on CNN's Original Series Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies. We'll a look at how the Drug Enforcement Agency took down one of the world's most notorious arms traffickers. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES SOILES, FORMER CHIEF OF GLOBAL OPERATIONS, DEA: I think the first challenge with a terrorist is how do we get close. The DEA would work with our local counterparts and develop sources of information.
You know, working with sources was a very large part of DEA's success worldwide. And you can't really make a good case if you don't have a good source.
And in this particular case, we're talking about a terrorist in another country with associates all over the world. He definitely was cautious on who would get close and who he would talk to.
So how do we find a source that can get to this inner circle?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim had a relationship with a high-level source that had been utilized by the DEA for approximately 20 years. His name was Samir.
In New York, in the early 1980s, Jim arrested Samir for narcotics trafficking.
SOILES: We arrested him and I knew he was pretty important.
He was Palestinian by birth, well-educated, well-read, multilingual, phenomenally bright. I knew he would be useful because he understood the global criminal networks. As a source, he had the capabilities of following through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining us now, the original case agent on this investigation, Jim Soiles, who is now retired after 34 years of service. Welcome to you.
WHITFIELD: So, Jim, take us back to 1985. How this investigation got started? How you decided to utilize this very important source?
SOILES: Well, in 1985 during the '80s, the heroin all came from externally from the United States. It still comes externally from the United States.
At the time we were looking at a traditional organized crime. New York was a gateway city. The heroin would come in and they get distributed up and down the East Coast and then out for to the rest of the United States. So as we were targeting those organizations, the ultimate suppliers all ended up being middle eastern sources of supply. So that led us into the Middle East. When we made several arrests over several investigations, everybody we arrested end up telling us about Monzer al-Kassar.
WHITFIELD: Twenty years is a really long time and there were a lot of close calls. Just take a look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were able to have it confirmed that he did get on the flight. And we were waiting for him upon arrival at Madrid Airport with the Spanish National Police.
So we're all waiting at the airport. Everything was set up. The Spanish National Police were supposed to observe him getting off the gate. We were watching Monzer walk into the baggage claim area. And then all of a sudden over the radio we heard, we've lost him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Jim, how did that happen?
SOILES: He stepped into the men's room and the surveillance units didn't see him go in. He walked behind a pillar and got into the men's room.
I mean, the airport was covered at the time and obviously we ended up arresting him there in Madrid, but there was close calls throughout the 20-year history of the investigation and times where he got away.
WHITFIELD: Was he intentionally ducking at that point?
SOILES: No. I think he just had to go to the bathroom. You know, it wasn't anything sinister at that point.
At that point, he might have been on guard because he, you know, wasn't prepared to come to Madrid for the meeting. And since he came, he was on guard looking to see what was going to happen.
WHITFIELD: Ultimately, what are you hoping people will learn from watching unclassified -- "Declassified"?
SOILES: Well, there is a lot of things that have come out as a result of 9/11. The first things that came out was we had to reassess and relook at how we look at global crime. Where to us in the past, you know, law enforcement did their thing, the military did their thing, and the intelligence community did theirs. And really there was very little interaction between the three.
What we found as a result of 9/11 and some other incidents that you have the drug crime terror nexus and that we needed to, one -- the biggest lesson from 9/11 was that we needed to cooperate and coordinate and integrate our approaches to global threats, and Monzer was a global threat. [12:55:09] The second thing what we learned was, that we needed to be really cognizant of the fact that crime generates a lot of revenue. And that revenue is used for terrorism, for promoting terrorism and instability around the world. So we needed to make sure that that was integrated in all our national security interest.
WHITFIELD: Fascinating stuff. Jim Soiles, thank you so much for your time. Your input, on "Declassified, "airing tonight at 9 Eastern right here on CNN. The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right after this.
WHITFIELD: Hello again everyone, and thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
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