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Trump Meeting after McMaster Forces Out Controversial Flynn Ally from NSC; V.A.'s Shulkin & Trump Showcase New Technology for Veterans; Tillerson Scrutinized for Not Spending $80 Million Against Russia Propaganda; Feds Zone in on Jared Kushner's Business over Use of Controversial Visa Program. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired August 3, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:39] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, the president is meeting national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. It comes after McMaster dismissed an ally of former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Ezra Cohen-Watnick is his name. It's the latest in a string of firings from the National Security Council.
Let's discuss with Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former adviser to the McCain/Palin campaign and former deputy director for politics planning at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration.
Kori, thanks for joining us.
What's your take on the shakeup to the national security team?
KORI SCHAKE, RESEARCH FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, it's interesting because the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tried to fire several of these people early on. The possibility exists that this is a strengthening of McMaster's hand as Kelly takes over as the president's chief of staff.
There's also a risk associated with it, which is the people being dismissed are the people whose views are most aligned with President Trumps. I think there's a risk the National Security Council will be out of alignment with the president's views and unable to persuade him of it as it sounds like they have been on the Afghanistan review and it sounds like the president is feeling boxed in by the secretary of state and the national security adviser on Iran.
CABRERA: They are all on the same team, aren't they?
SCHAKE: They ought to be.
CABRERA: Let me ask you about how this administration approached Russia. The president signed the Russia sanctions bill yesterday but called it seriously flawed. He claimed he only signed it for the sake of national unity. And he went so far as to question the constitutional grounds of the legislation restricting some of his power.
Now the Russians are seizing on their quotes. We have a statement reacting from Dmitry Medvedev. "The president, Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way. The U.S. establishment fully outwitted Trump."
Kori, what message is the president sending to the world? Is he undermining his own authority when it comes to his credibility with these foreign leaders?
SCHAKE: No. What I think the Russian statement suggests is the Russians don't understand much about checks and balances and the structure of the American government. It's pretty common for presidents to issue signing statements when they sign legislation. The Congress was overwhelming in its support for the Russia sanctions bill. I think what the Russians are trying to do is drive a wedge between the president and the Congress to exasperate the president's known sympathies for Russia against the Congress' quite stalwart defense of the integrity of American institutions and elections against Russian malfeasance.
CABRERA: Do you think they are trying to get into his head then?
SCHAKE: Oh, yes.
CABRERA: That's your assessment.
We have learned the State Department, Secretary Tillerson, he and the president not seeing eye-to-eye about everything. He's been under scrutiny. He's not spent $80 million meant to counter Russian disinformation and propaganda.
Listen to what Senator Graham said on the show yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He is doing a lot of things right as commander-in-chief. But when it comes to Russia, I'm glad he signed the legislation. But what Tillerson is saying about the sanctions, this idea I may not use money to help democratic states under siege by Russia, adds up to a signal that we are not serious in the Trump administration of dealing with Russian interference in our home, here in our backyard, and abroad. That invites more aggression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Kori, do you agree with Senator Graham?
SCHAKE: Well, I certainly think the administration is soft on Russia. And I think there will be separation of powers issues if the administration chooses not to spend money Congress authorized and appropriated for the reason of promoting democracy, preventing this kind of undercutting of this American election.
The bigger problem is that Secretary Tillerson intends to spend an entire year determining how to reorganize the State Department. And it sounds to me like one of the reasons that Secretary Tillerson isn't spending that money is he hasn't determined where democracy promotion ought to be in America's priorities for our foreign policy. That's a decision he should have made before becoming secretary of state. It's certainly not a decision you ought to spend a year, the first year of the Trump presidency figuring out what you are going to do about that. That's really diminishing America's voice on important issues in the world.
[11:35:39] CABRERA: Why do you think he's having a hard time prioritizing this sort of thing?
SCHAKE: Well, it looks to me like he wants to run a rigorous reorganization process. There are a lot of people with smart ideas about how to improve the State Department, almost any of which would improve the State Department. The president -- but the secretary of state, spending a whole year figuring it out is actually just diminishing his ability to be effective.
CABRERA: Do you think he has been effective in his role as secretary of state so far?
SCHAKE: Well, I think he ought to be graded like Olympic diving, a degree of difficulty going into his score. It would be hard for any secretary of state to navigate foreign policy with the president tweeting contrary policies about the time. But, I do think there are a lot of opportunities Secretary Tillerson is missing because he's not setting priorities, putting people in place, and engaging with the world in an activist way. I think it's important for American foreign policy. Our allies need to know what we are trying to do to help so they can help and support us. Our adversaries need to know what we are trying to do so they can understand where the boundaries of acceptable behavior are and what we won't stand for. I think Secretary Tillerson has not done a good job of making the boundaries clear.
CABRERA: Kori Schake, we appreciate your perspective. Thanks for joining us.
Coming up for us, the feds reportedly zoning in on Jared Kushner's family business over the company's use of a controversial visa program. Details ahead.
[11:41:28] CABRERA: Let's listen in to the president. This is an event regarding veterans.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- services. We are expanding the ability of veterans to connect with their V.A. health care team from anywhere using mobile application on the veteran's own phone or the veteran's own computer. This will significantly expand access to care for our veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health, which is a bigger and bigger request, and also in suicide prevention. It will make a tremendous difference for the veterans in rural locations in particular. We are launching the mobile app that will allow V.A. patients to
schedule and change their appointments at V.A. facilities using their Smartphone. This is something they were never able to do. Technology has given us this advantage. But, unfortunately, we have not taken advantage of that until now.
We are working tirelessly to keep our promises to our great veterans. Very important in my campaign and the campaign trail. The veterans mean so much to me and this administration.
In the past six months, we have signed historic V.A. accountability legislation. I have signed legislation to extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program. We are starting to really get that to a point where choice is just becoming something that they are extremely happy about and they have wanted it for many, many years. We are working to enable seamless care between the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. We have launched a groundbreaking new Web site that allows veterans to compare wait times and quality of care at V.A. facilities and other hospitals. We are actually able to compete our facilities with other hospitals and other V.A. facilities. So we will strike a competitive advantage and that will get people moving better. We have dramatically increased the number of approvals for veterans to see the doctors, so they are going to have many more doctors of their choice.
These accomplishments are only the beginning. We will not rest until all of America's great veterans can receive the care they so richly deserve. Tremendous progress has been made in a short period of time. We have only been here six months, but tremendous progress has been made.
I want to ask a Dr. Shulkin to give us a preview of what's to come.
DR. DAVID SHULKIN, DIRECTOR, VETERANS AFFAIRS ADMINISTRATION: Well, Mr. President, thank you so much.
What we are announcing today is a big deal for veterans. It's going to expand access for veterans in a way we haven't done so before. As you may know, V.A. already has the largest tele-health program in the country. Last year, we had 700,000 veterans who got tele-services through the V.A. And we can do it for 50 different specialties.
In fact, Mr. President, if you look at all the specialties on this chart, we can provide telehealth services from tele-dermatology to tele-dentistry. This is available now for veterans. But what we are announcing dramatically expands our current capabilities.
Mr. President, by working with the Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice, we are going to issue a regulation that allows our V.A. providers to provide tele-health services from anywhere in the country to veterans anywhere in the country, whether it's in their homes or any location. We call it Anywhere to Anywhere V.A. Health Care. That's a big deal. [11:45:24] Now, just think about this. That means we are going to be
able to use V.A. providers in cities where there are a lot of doctors and be able to use those doctors to help our veterans in rural areas where there aren't many health care professionals.
You talked mental health and suicide prevention, this is one of the areas we can use that expertise. Today's announcement is going to allow us to do that.
What we are going to be rolling out nationally with a rollout across the country is called V.A. Video Connect. V.A. Video Connect allows V.A. providers to use mobile devices to connect with veterans on their mobile devices or their home computers. That's a big deal.
Currently, we use V.A. Video Connect with over 300 V.A. providers at 67 hospitals or clinics across the country. That's beginning to roll out nationally.
There's one more thing, Mr. President. We are going to be announcing a new technology called the Veterans Appointment Request. What that is, is allowing the veteran on their smartphone to be able to schedule their appointments directly with V.A. providers or change their appointments or cancel their appointments with V.A. providers. Today, this is available in all 18 regions across the country. We have already booked more than 4,000 appointments from veterans directly from their Smartphones so they can schedule their own appointments. Now, we are announcing the national rollout of this.
If veterans want to see and get the Veterans Appointment Request, you can see on our Web site, mobile.va.gov/appstore. The V.A. app store has this available for download.
So, Mr. President, what we are really doing is removing regulations that prevented us from doing this. We are removing geography as a barrier, so we can speed up access to veterans and really honor our commitment to them.
Now, let me show you how this works, Mr. President. If we come over here -- we use technology in a way that's pretty incredible. In fact, Mr. President, I'm one of those doctors. I practice here in Washington to my clinic in Grants Pass, Oregon.
I want to say hello to our veteran today.
Mr. Amisqua (ph), how are you?
Mr. Amisqua (ph) is a veteran. He served in the Coast Guard for 26 years. He was a helicopter rescue swimmer and served the country.
And here we are in Oregon. This is our great team, Peggy and Denise and Terry.
Peggy, would you mind, I understand there might be some area of concern on Mr. Amisqua's skin. Can we take a look at that, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir. This is the area that is of concern. SHULKIN: OK.
So, as we focus in on that, you can see, Mr. President, I can take a look at that area, and if I have concern about it, we can send this to a specialist or take a look at it.
But, thank you. Mr. Amisqua (ph), we'll be right back with you soon. I just want to show the president a few other things. We'll be right back with you.
Mr. President, if you walk over here, this is actually the new doctors bag, the doctors bag of the future.
You may recognize this. This is the doctors bag that travels with you when you go on Air Force One.
So we have Dr. Rodney Jackson, your doctor, here that usually takes care of you.
We now are able to bring this doctors bag into the home of our veterans. Our nurse practitioners, or technicians can use this type of technology. The same technology available to the president of the United States. That's the way it should be. Our veterans deserve that type of technology.
I'm going to show you one of two other things.
Dr. Neil Evans (ph), one of our doctors, is going to show you V.A. Video Connect that I talked about.
Here we are in Grants Pass, Oregon.
Hi, Mr. Amisqua (ph), how are you? Can you raise your hand? Good.
So here we are in Grants Pass, Oregon, on our mobile device, and this is how we can use V.A. Video Connect.
But watch this, Mr. President. If we need to bring in a specialist from anywhere in the country in this area in Oregon, we can.
So Dr. Brooke Watts, you want to say hello, Doctor?
[11:50:12] DR. BROOKE WATTS, WORKS WITH V.A. VIDEO CONNECT: Good morning, Dr. Shulkin. Thank you so much for your service.
SHULKIN: Dr. Watts is a specialist, an internal medical specialist in Cleveland, Oregon, and she is now connected in with Mr. Amisqua in Grants Pass, Oregon.
We can get expertise anywhere in the country immediately. The V.A. is able to do this right now.
So, thank you. Thank you very much.
And so, Mr. President, this is how we're expanding access. This is how we're bringing the very best technology available in the country.
And really, thanks to your help in cutting through the regulation, the Office of American Innovation, we're able to expand access dramatically today and to roll this out. As you said, with our accountability bill, our replacing our electronic medical record, the progress we're making, in six months, we've been able to do tremendous things. But it's just the beginning of what we're going to do for our veterans.
So thank you very much.
TRUMP: Thank you.
Doctor, I just want to thank him. And your skin, I hope your skin is going to be in perfect health.
Looked pretty good to me. What do I know?
SHULKIN: Mr. Amisqua, why don't you say something, if you want to say hello to the president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Mr. President. How are you? Good morning.
TRUMP: You look very healthy to me. I will tell you that.
Please, make sure his skin is perfect. OK?
Great. Thank you very much. Great technology. Great to meet you. Thank you.
TRUMP: We're going to West Virginia tonight, by the way, and going to have a very big announcement, which will be very exciting, I think, for the media and everyone else. But we have a very big announcement tonight. I believe I'll be making it in West Virginia. So that will be have exciting.
Thank you very much.
CABRERA: Again, we were just watching the president and his V.A. Secretary Dr. Shulkin showing the new technology regarding veterans assistance and the ability for veterans anywhere in the country, as they say, using this technology to be able to have experts and consult with those anywhere else in the country. So bringing more access to those veterans who need. The president saying he will not rest until veterans have the care that they deserve and need.
And he teased a big announcement coming tonight at his rally in West Virginia.
We're going to take a quick break and be right back. Stay with us.
[11:55:47] CABRERA: Jared Kushner's family business is reportedly being subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in New York. The "Wall Street Journal" says it's over the company's use of a visa program giving permanent residency here in the U.S. to wealthy foreign investors. The Kushner company used a special program known as EB-5 to help finance a real estate development in New Jersey. A lawyer for the firm issued a statement, saying, "Kushner Companies utilized the program, fully complied with its rules and regulations and did nothing improper."
The president's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, no longer runs the family's real estate investment firm, but CNN found the firm using his White House status to lure Chinese investors even after forcing to apologize for doing just that back in May.
Joining us to discuss, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Michael Zeldin, and CNN legal commentator and former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.
Michael, what are the possible implications for Jared Kushner?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The EB-5 program set up under the Immigration Act of 1990 allows investors to get permanent resident status if they make a million-dollar investment generally or $500,000 investment in the targeted unemployment area, high unemployment area. And it's a perfectly lawful program, if done right. The problem here, as it has been alleged, is that the properties that the Kushner Companies used for these EB-5 programs -- and they use it because they get lower interest rates on the loans -- were essentially gerrymandered districts. They incorporated into the district areas that really were not adjacent to it in order to sort of squeeze them in, as Cuccinelli will tells us how they do that in political gerrymandering.
ZELDIN: So if they find that that was done inappropriately, then there may be liability for a violation of the EB-5 program.
ZELDIN: The SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, has brought, you know, cases against companies that have done this improperly.
CABRERA: Ken, I want your take. And add in there, Jared Kushner's name being dropped. Is it a crime to do that?
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly not for Jared Kushner, but it becomes problematic for the business, for sure.
I would note that this EB-5 program has, year in and year out, had scrutiny over various things that -- they -- they smell fishy. I mean, my own governor, Terry McAuliffe, who I ran against in 2013, this floated around him for their Mississippi Project that just failed and nothing ever came of it, even though it looked ugly. It looked kind of dirty. But looks dirty and smells bad doesn't cut it for actual problems. And that's what the company says is where they are right now. But this whole program, year in and year out, the EB-5 program continues to draw this kind of scrutiny around projects.
CABRERA: It's not the end of the story.
Gentlemen, I'm so sorry. I've got to leave it there. Up against the clock.
Michael Zeldin, Ken Cuccinelli, thank you both. We'll have you back because there's more to discuss certainly. Thanks again.
Thank you for being with us AT THIS HOUR.
"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.
[12:00:05] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Ana.
Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for spending part of your day with us.