Return to Transcripts main page
New Sanctions on North Korea; Why Trump Won; Mike Pence Running Shadow Campaign for 2020?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired August 7, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: He goes on: "The fact is the fake news Russian collusion story, record stock market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation, and so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change."
And the president is not the only one out of the White House who is pushing back against the media.
Here, Vice President Mike Pence, he's calling this "New York Times" report -- quote -- "disgraceful and offensive." It details the vice president and how he's positioning himself for a 2020 presidential run if his boss opts out.
And he is far from the only one. We will have much more on that, including one of the guys from "The New York Times"' byline, who will join me in just a moment.
But, first, let's go to the White House for our correspondent Sara Murray following the president in New Jersey on his working vacation.
Sara Murray, we President Trump says he's insisting this is a working vacation. Do we know what he's doing today?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, the president wants you to think he is not on vacation at all.
He wants you know that he's working hard, no vacation to be seen here, despite the fact we are of course adjacent to his golf club. Here is what he sent out on Twitter this morning, saying: "Working hard from New Jersey, while White House goes through long-planned renovation. Going to New York next week for more meetings."
Now, we do know some of Trump's senior advisers have accompanied him here to New Jersey. The newly minted chief of staff, John Kelly, is here. He's going to be going back and forth throughout the president's stay.
This is someone who has hoped to moderate the president's tweet habit a little bit, but he doesn't really see it as his chief responsibility to be running around policing the president's social media habits.
I don't think you should expect tweetstorms like the one we saw this morning to all of a sudden evaporate. The White House has given very sparing details about how the president has actually spent his day, although they did point out that he had an intelligence briefing and he did do a call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly on the situation in North Korea.
But, like I said, Brooke, very details emerging so far about how the president is spending his days, how he will spend those future days. We expect the vice president, Mike Pence, to make a trek up here some time this week. We will be staying tuned for that as well.
BALDWIN: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Let's dig a little deeper into this.
Joining me know, CNN political director David Chalian. I have Alex Burns with me, national political reporter for "The New York Times" who co-wrote this piece about the vice president and the Republican shadow campaign for 2020. Also with us, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Welcome to all of you.
Let me just start out with the vice president's response, Alex, to your reporting. This is what he writes: "The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempts by the media to divide this administration."
He goes on: "The American people know I could not be more honored to be working side by side with the president, who is making America great again. Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him reelected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd."
Your response to the vice president's response to you?
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, allegations is a really strong word for what was in that story.
Nobody accused Mike Pence of a crime. And nobody actually suggested that he wasn't working to support the president's reelection in 2020. What we did report is that the vice president, along with a number of other folks in the Republican Party, are laying the groundwork for potential national campaigns of their own in case the president doesn't run or can't run for some reason.
And I think the part of the story that clearly got under the vice president's skin, under the administration's skin was that we have several advisers to the vice president telling Republican donors that they're getting ready just in case.
BURNS: They didn't say they are going to challenge the president. They're just in case. But those are really three charged words for this particular president. BALDWIN: David Chalian, Alex says getting under the skin. We talked
to Jamie Gangel last hour, who as this reporting from her Republican sources just talking about how extraordinarily sensitive the vice president is to any sort of suggestion that he's measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.
What does his over-the-top reaction signal to you?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: First of all, his over-the-top reaction signal made this a much bigger story.
I love Alex and Jonathan's reporting. It's an awesome story. I'm just saying he extended the life of this story by responding the way that he did, which may not be to his detriment in the long run of, again, if you're building those donor relationships, having it out there in "The New York Times" that your aides are saying just in case, then that's not a terrible thing to do if you're trying to build a structure here.
But, listen, every vice president would be sensitive to look like they're measuring the drapes, and especially with this president who keenly watching cable news and reads "The New York Times" and responds viscerally to stories, you can imagine that Mike Pence would indeed be very careful about how he's being perceived by his boss on this matter.
BALDWIN: Dana, what do you think?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
I was told explicitly that the vice president was warned about the potential risk of giving this wonderful story that Alex did a lot more oxygen, and giving the questions of whether or not Mike Pence really has been looking into this more oxygen by having such a formal, explicit, on-the-record quote in the middle of a Sunday like he did, but that he felt like he wanted to get out and say what he said for all the reasons that you just heard David just describe.
But it wasn't just that. They have followed up with this inside the vice president's communications shop. Marc Lotter, the vice president's press secretary, was on FOX this morning. I believe he is going to be on "ERIN BURNETT" tonight.
I was listening to conservative radio coming in. He was there and he told me he's something several others. This is an offense to do defense on the concept of him. And I do -- it certainly is again not -- I don't think everybody is on board with being this aggressive.
Some people say that it just probably would have sufficed to say raising money for this PAC is about the president's agenda, it's about the going out and helping members of Congress get reelected and so forth and it not about me, and potentially leaving it there. But they chose not to.
BALDWIN: So, the vice president gave it legs.
I think the president, David Chalian, also gave it legs, in the sense he tweeted nine times this morning -- we read some of the tweets -- where he's criticizing -- quote -- "fake news," yet clearly he's reading "The New York Times" to read Alex's reporting, criticizing CNN, clearly watching CNN, because of the Senator Blumenthal interview.
What he's doing on this working vacation is he's watching TV and reacting to it.
You can look at this in two ways, one, exactly what you're saying, Brooke. This is a president who clearly is not changing his habits. This is day 200, and it looks a lot like the first 100 days and the second 100 days heading into the next chunk of 100-day measurements here. He's not changing his behavior. He's consumed by cable news.
He's reading his clips and responding to it emotionally in this really on Twitter. Totally fine. There's another way to look at these tweets. He's not going after fellow Republicans, like he did like Lisa Murkowski, which ended up with her no vote on health care at the end of the day. That wasn't very effective.
He's not going after Mueller or the investigation, per se, in the way we have seen previously, and not sort of exposing himself to bigger potential legal jeopardy on the Twitter at the moment. Those would be positive developments if you're John Kelly or someone else in the West Wing looking to make sure the president sort of stays within bounds on his Twitter feed.
BALDWIN: But, Alex, the top line on the story, yes, was the vice president, but, as you outlined, there are the -- who is it, Cotton, Sasse, Kasich, all peeking their heads out in Iowa.
BURNS: Right, and at least one of them, probably two of them, Kasich and maybe Ben Sasse, are actually being bolder than the vice president by a lot.
They're the ones who are intimating that maybe they would run even if Trump were still in the race. Kasich is the only one who has literally gone there. But certainly people read some of Ben Sasse's and his public and private comments that way.
BURNS: And, look, to David's point, this sort of daily tweetstorming becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, where part of the reason you have people like Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton going to Iowa, part of the reason why you have John Kasich planning to host a series of national policy forums is because they continue to see a real instability, and, to use John McCain's word, weakness from this White House, that if you heard the sense that the president was 200 days in, and had things under control and on track, this stuff probably wouldn't be going on in the same way. BALDWIN: Have we ever had this conversation, Dana -- again, we're on
the 200-day mark and we're talking about potentials for 2020 or, as I guess the president is insistent, 2024, but still.
On the other side of the aisle, of course, on the other side of the aisle, from the party of the president. But when you're talking about within the party, no, I don't think since, I don't know, even when Johnson was considering it, no.
You guys can correct me if I'm wrong. But I think that Alex's point at the beginning of this segment is really a key one, and the point that they were making in their story, is that it's not about necessarily challenging, certainly from the vice president.
It's about being prepared, just in case, you know, there isn't a Trump run for whatever reason in 2020. And that's quite different. That's quite different. And, you know, for people who and for politicians who understand that politics is about timing, just like life, but politics even more so is about timing, who would have thought that the time was right for a first-term senator from Illinois who had just been serving in the state Senate for like a minute to run for president?
BALDWIN: Right. Right.
BASH: But it just happened to be right. So it's be prepared is the motto for anybody who has any kind of political ambition.
BALDWIN: Dana and David and Alex, thank you all so much.
CHALIAN: Thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, you have Rex Tillerson admitting there is some -- quote -- "serious distrust" between the U.S. and Russia after the 2016 election meddling, where the Trump administration stands now after Tillerson's meeting with the Russian foreign minister overseas.
Also, North Korea vows to teach the U.S. -- quote -- "a severe lesson" if the Trump administration uses military force to stop its weapons program. More on this escalating war of words between the two nations.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: The secretary the state, Rex Tillerson, has just told the media that he had some tough words for his Russian counterpart with regard to the 2016 election interference, acknowledging something that the president himself has not, that the relationship between the two nations has been damaged by the meddling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Russian meddling in the elections is -- was certainly a serious incident. We talked about it in the discussion we had with Mr. Lavrov yesterday, and trying to help them understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the U.S., the American people and the Russian people, that this created serious mistrust between our two countries, and that we simply have to find some way to deal with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Joining me now, Elise Labott, CNN global affairs correspondent, and Matthew Chance, CNN senior international correspondent, who is normally based in Moscow, with me here in New York today.
Nice to see both of you.
Elise Labott, tell me more about this meeting.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the first time that the two leaders have met since that sanctions bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump.
And also the Russians have cut 755 U.S. employees that have to leave the country and stop working at the U.S. Embassy. And so clearly that was the elephant in the room. I think there's an effort by Secretary Tillerson to work on some of the other issues, like Syria, like Ukraine.
He said that there could be some foreign movement on that, but clearly it was a tense meeting. It was a tough discussion. And I think that the Russians don't have a hell of a lot incentive to make it look like a successful meeting, but Russia's did sign on to that North Korean resolution passing sanctions, so I think there's some cooperation going behind the scenes, but certainly the optics are not very good.
BALDWIN: OK, Elise, stay with me.
Matthew, just talking to you here. The fact that Tillerson said serious mistrust, right, that's the headline seen everywhere, the election meddling causing serious mistrust between the two nations, how do you interpret that?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, serious mistrust is an understatement.
I think Rex Tillerson was right to express that. It has achieved that. But I think his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, was equally critical of what this has done to the relationship, what Russians would call the witch-hunt against the people in Russia that may have been connected with Trump.
BALDWIN: A word that our own president has used as well.
The Russians in their Foreign Ministry readout of this Tillerson meeting said that the U.S. sanctions bill that was recently passed transferring power to lift the sanctions to the Congress away from the president was in their words a powerful blow to the prospects of bilateral cooperation.
So, the Russians are also saying that actually, because of this sanctions bill, because the Trump administration doesn't have the ability or the power anymore to lift the sanctions, that, in itself, has been a powerful blow, going to have an impact on the relationship.
BALDWIN: Do you think that there's any chance, based upon the blowback from Russia on the sanctions bill and also how Russia is going to kick out, what was it, 755 U.S. diplomats, just any sort of -- the Trump promise along the campaign trail was to have a relationship, right, with Russia?
CHANCE: Well, it was to make the relationship better. Wouldn't it be great to get along with the Kremlin, get along with Russia?
BALDWIN: That was his idea.
CHANCE: And I think that's a sort of historically past moment now.
BALDWIN: You do?
CHANCE: I think there was already a sign, many signs that we had been sort of reading from our vantage point in Moscow that the Russians were disillusioned with that. They doubted whether Trump had the ability or the will to transform that very difficult relationship.
And I think the fact that the sanctions bill has gone through and Trump has signed it, even though he was reluctant to do that, I think sends a powerful message to the Russians that even if Trump wanted to lift sanctions, he is going to not be able to.
And, remember, the lifting of sanctions, let's not forget this, is the main reason that the Russians want a better relationship with Washington. They want the sanctions lifted. If Trump can't deliver that, what's the point of -- what good is it?
BALDWIN: What good are they? I got it.
Elise, to you.
We know that Putin has ordered, as I mentioned, those 755 U.S. diplomats to leave his country as retaliation for signing that sanctions bill. But here is what Rex Tillerson said about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: I told the foreign minister that we had not made a decision regarding how we will respond to Russia's request to remove U.S. diplomatic personnel.
We had -- I asked several clarifying questions just to ensure I understood kind of their thinking behind that diplomatic note we received, but told him we would respond by September the 1st.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: How do you see this playing out, Elise?
LABOTT: Well, if you remember how this originally came about, this is in response to President Obama kicking out Russian diplomats for the meddling in the election.
And President Obama asked President Putin kind of hold off. Let's wait until I get into office. Let's see what we can do together.
Clearly, President Putin saw that that relationship is not really bearing fruit, and he wasn't able to do something. And now that this sanctions bill has passed, President Putin went ahead and did that.
I think it remains to be seen whether this tit for tat is going to end as is. Is the U.S. going to take their lumps and try and recoup, because now it's a billion more of just even numbers between the U.S. Embassy and the Russian Embassy here in Moscow -- here in Washington.
So, is that going to be it? Are they going to try and just move forward? It remains to be seen, but clearly this meddling in the election, the investigations here in Washington, and all the, you know, kind of rhetoric and political chaos that's surrounding this is going to continue to dog this relationship.
And I think it's going to be up to Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Lavrov to plow ahead on issues that they can work together. Secretary Tillerson said we shouldn't let one issue define the relationship.
Unfortunately, right now, Brooke, that's what's happening.
BALDWIN: For the foreseeable future.
Elise thank you.
Matthew Chance, good to see you, closer to home from Moscow there.
Coming up: North Korea threatens to make the U.S. pay dearly after a new round of sanctions was leveled against the reclusive regime. This time, even China and Russia got on board. We will talk about whether this signals are a real shift in attitude dealing with Kim Jong-un.
Also ahead, a Google engineer's 10-page diatribe about gender and diversity has sparked a massive backlash in the tech world, among his claims, that women are less capable of handling stress. Hmm. A former Google and Apple executive joins me live with her take on what is really happening with women in Silicon Valley. We will be right back.
BALDWIN: North Korea vows to make the U.S. pay dearly, their words, for brand-new sanctions after a stunning unanimous vote at the United Nations.
The plan, to put a stranglehold on North Korea's cash flow as payback for the regime's defiant ballistic missile tests. But will it work?
Joining me now, Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."
And we're about to talk about your documentary here in just a second, sir, but first we talked so much about sanctions and North Korea. Why is it supposed to work this time?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's a very good question.
I don't think it will.
ZAKARIA: In general, you have to remember, this is one of the most isolated countries in the world.
They do business really with one country, China. China gives North Korea 50 percent of its food and 90 percent of its fuel. So, the question is not the U.N. sanctions. The question is, will China implement and enforce these sanctions in a way that it has not done previous times?
BALDWIN: So, even though China got on board with the vote, the question still is, how much will they enforce?
ZAKARIA: They have supported previous votes. They have voted to sanction previously.
And what ends up happening is that they do enforce them, but not to the extent that they really choke off the country, because what they worry about is, if they do that, will the regime collapse? What does that mean?
Millions of refugees pouring into China, possibly a unified Korea that is then a pro-American country sitting on their southern border, which, don't forget, there are 30,000 American troops in South Korea, which would then be on China's border, and, by the way, 15 nuclear weapons, because, of course, the unified Korea would inherit the arsenal of the North.
So, the Chinese have real concerns. And I think that more important than U.N. votes would be strategic diplomacy with China. And so far the Trump administration seems to have kind of alternated between, you know, almost romantic views that Xi Jinping, because he had chocolate cake with Trump in Mar-a-Lago, was going to magically solve this, to now feeling like angry tweets against the Chinese.
What we need is serious, sustained strategic conversations at the highest levels with the Chinese.
BALDWIN: You want to hit them where it hurts, which is obviously economic. And apparently the sanctions equal something like a third of the exports, thus in the neighborhood of a billion dollars.
But, still, is that just chump change in the grand scheme of things for North Korea?
ZAKARIA: No, it's a lot.
But, look, this is a country that's survived famines. This is a regime that's survived total isolation. They have managed to -- if you think about just their ability to survive, this is a regime that has survived 75 years, passed the regime on from father to son to grandson.
They have outlasted the Soviet Union. They have outlasted all the Arab dictatorships that fell through the Arab Spring. These guys know how to stick around. And the idea that one more ratcheting of the screw will do it, I'm not sure that's exactly right.
Want to talk to you about your documentary "Why Trump Won." You talked to all kinds of people here for this.
And here's a clip just of some of the people talking Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Nine-one-one. Where is your emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got shot. We got shot. We got shot.
911 OPERATOR: You got shot where?
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Shootings in broad daylight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's somebody bleeding on my front porch. He's knocking on my front door. Please, I have kids.
ZAKARIA: Drug deals in abandoned buildings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend called me. And I think she ODed.
ZAKARIA: Mothers overdosing on heroin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Yes.
ZAKARIA: This isn't the South Bronx in the 1980s. It's Trumbull County, Ohio, in 2017.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, baby. You got to stop this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) baby. You got to stop this. Come on, man.
ZAKARIA: This area was ground zero...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American dream is dead.
ZAKARIA: ... of Trump's Rust Belt rebellion. And it's easy to see why.
TRUMP: We're losing our jobs. We're losing our factories.