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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Retweets Report; Nuclear Weapon Legislation; New Polls on President; President Pushes Back on Media; Sinclair Widens Influence; Google CEO Slams Memo. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 8, 2017 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can't talk about anything that's classified. And if that's in the newspaper, that's a shame. It's incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that. You're not only just getting a scoop on something, you're playing with people's lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right, and as I said, CNN has not confirmed that Fox reporting.

Barbara Starr is with us at the Pentagon.

Barbara, Nikki Haley said incredibly dangerous and a shame this is out in the media, but the president put it out there more.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he's the commander in chief. He gets to tweet what he wants.

But let me take just a little different take on all of this and discuss some of the substance at hand here. This is all about something called an anti-ship cruise missile. I don't want to geek out on everybody, but if the threat from North Korea grows, it's really important to understand what the president and what Fox News is talking about.

An anti-ship cruise missile is very different than the ballistic intercontinental missiles that pose a direct threat to the United States, South Korea and Japan. These are missiles that go on ships and basically defend coastlines or maybe attack shipping at sea. The North Koreans typically -- they haven't put these on those ships in a while, it's important to note, but shipping stays out of North Korean waters, western shipping at least, and there's a very good ability to track any shipping -- military shipping by the North Koreans, any of their military vessel that would have these missiles onboard.

So this is something quite different. This is not part of the larger debate about the ballistic missile threat, which are long-distance, causing potentially tens of thousands, if not millions of casualties. This is very short-range stuff, very close to North Korean shores, in their waters.

Important for the South Koreans because they're always looking for some North Korean provocation at sea. But, again, different. So it would be really interesting to know when the president retweeted this, what he really had in mind about this. Was it something that perhaps he thought was not serious enough -- seriously classified enough that he could go out there and retweet it? And is there some mixing up of the threat here between the shorter range missiles and the ballistic missiles, which really is the focus of the threat right now.

HARLOW: It would be helpful to know indeed.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you for all of that.

Let's bring in Democratic Congressman of California, Ted Lieu. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also has served this country.

Thank you for being here.

Given your position, the committee you sit on, and given your service in the armed forces, what is your stake on what Barbara just reported, the fact that you have these unnamed sources in this Fox News report that Nicki Haley called a shame to be out there and dangerous and the president retweeted?

REP. TED LIEU (D), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Thank you, Poppy, for your question.

It is alarming the casualness with which President Trump shares classifieds information. Earlier this year, he gave classified information to the Russians and now he retweets an article with classified information.

I have a security clearance. We're taught just because something is in the press doesn't make that information no longer classified. And you're not allowed to share it. So the president should not be tweeting classified information just because he's the president.

HARLOW: So -- all right. So you -- you proposed legislation back in January, but you actually tweeted about it just a few days ago and it is certainly germane to this conversation, so I'd like you to weigh in on it. You would like, through your legislation, to try to prevent the president from having the ability of first use of nuclear weapons without congressional approval. Now this is something, an authority, that was given to the president, to any sitting president, back in 1946. Why do you believe, a, the president shouldn't have that power and, b, that Congress would do a better job with that power?

LIEU: Senator Markey and I introduced this legislation because our view is the current nuclear launch approval process is unconstitutional. Right now one person can launch thousands of nuclear weapons. And that's the president. No one can stop him. Under the law, the secretary of defense has to follow this order. There's no juridical oversight, no congressional oversight, and that would be a declaration of war, launching lots of nuclear weapons that can kill hundreds of millions of people. And our view is only Congress can declare war. You know, legislation says, you need to first get the approval of Congress before you do a first use of nuclear weapons.

HARLOW: But, congressman, you didn't have any problem with this legislation prior to the presidency of President Trump. I mean you introduced it four days after his inauguration.

LIEU: Yes. We also introduced it last year when we all believed that Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president. Our view is that this is a structural fix regardless of who happens to be president, because we can't have the control of nuclear weapons be decided by just one person.

[09:35:01] HARLOW: OK, important point. I was wrong on that. I did not know that.

Moving on to some of this polling. I know you've seen it this morning, right? And the headlines are not good for this White House, the trust deficit, et cetera. Even his base, you know, falling in terms of the strongest, most ardent supporters for the president.

However, there is an important note in there that is good for this White House, and that is that 53 percent of Americans right now think things in the United States in the country are going well. Fifty-three percent that is compared to 45 percent who think things are not going well. The president deserve some credit for that?

LIEU: So the CNN report is quite stunning. It does show that we have a president with a significant credibility crisis that can't get a lot of things done with Congress. But I don't want to see this presidency fail. And one of the things about the CNN report is even though the majority of Americans think that the country is doing OK, the middle class is not doing OK.

HARLOW: Well, they say well. They say -- they say well.

LIEU: Right, but the middle classes is not doing so well. And so one of the way for the president to improve his poll numbers is to work with Democrats. I've introduced legislation on infrastructure that's going to create better jobs, wages and skills. Senate Democrats have done the same. And I urge the president to come and work with us or come up with his own plan. And if he works on a bipartisan basis, I think he can no longer have the failures that he did the first six months.

HARLOW: So your party would have more success in this and having their voices heard more certainly if you held a majority of even the House. And there's a really fascinating article out by our Chris Cillizza this morning who cites research from David Wasserman of FiveThirtyEight blog, and here's his analysis of the 2018 election heading into the midterms. Even with all of the negative numbers in this polling for this president right now, here's what he writes. Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than three percentage points, they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.

Does that make you nervous? LIEU: Absolutely. And that's why as a vice chair of the Democratic

Congressional Campaign Committee, we're working hard to make sure we have the best candidates going into next November.

But keep in mind, we have to flip 24 seats in the House, 23 of them Hillary Clinton did win those districts. An additional nine, Barack Obama won twice. So we are in a good position, but we do have to keep working and making sure that the American people understand that the Democrats are fighting for the middle class.

HARLOW: I've got 15 second. Is this leadership, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the leadership to get you there?

LIEU: Absolutely. They're going to get us there.

HARLOW: Thank you very much. Congressman Ted Lieu, appreciate it.

LIEU: Thank you.

HARLOW: The U.S. Marines have identified three of their own who died after the aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia. You see them right here. We're getting their names and their images for the first time. You've got First Lieutenant Benjamin Cross, Corporal Nathan Ordway, and Private First Class Ruben Velasco. They were declared dead after an extensive search and rescue mission failed to find their remains. The Osprey aircraft went down Saturday during a joins training exercise with Australian forces. I should note, all of these men under the age of 30.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:25] HARLOW: It is one of President Trump's favorite targets, the media. Whether he's calling it failing or phony, the president often lashes out at press coverage he thinks is unfair or he thinks ignores his achievements.

And now his inner circle is taking matters into its own hands. Something it has launched dubbed Trump TV. You may have seen it on FaceBook. It's a series of videos running on the president's personal FaceBook page. You recognize her? That is newly minted RNC spokesperson and former CNN contributor Kayleigh McEnany. She's the host of the program. But the woman in charge is Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and the wife of his son Eric.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Lara Trump here.

I bet you haven't heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there's so much fake news out there. We wanted to give you a glimpse into his week.

The stock market is up. The economy is booming, ladies and gentlemen. And jobs. There have been almost 800,000 new jobs created in this country since Donald Trump took office in January.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Joining me now, CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

Good to have you here.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

HARLOW: Look, I mean, this is the beauty of media in 2017. You can post whatever you want. There's a broader significance to this, though.

STELTER: There is. All administrations try to go around the national news media. Obama had lots of videos on his web site. The difference with President Trump is that he is, on an almost daily basis, denigrated and tried to tear down the news media. And what he's increasingly doing is presenting his own alternative. Whether it's Trump TV on his FaceBook page, or whether it's his media allies at places like Sinclair, he is presenting an alternative narrative, a counter-narrative in order to combat all the real bad news affecting his administration with a rosier picture online.

HARLOW: He's also saying things that are just patently false about what the media is covering and what it is not covering. Case in point, the U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

STELTER: Yes. Right.

HARLOW: Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This was a gut punch to North Korea today.

And this was a strong day for the United States. It was a strong day for the international community. It was not a good day for North Korea.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says a unanimous U.N. vote slapping North Korea with the strongest sanctions yet shows the world is united against the reclusive regime's nuclear ambitions.

HARLOW: Now the president also saying he is happy and impressed with the latest round of U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The United Nations Security Council, over the weekend, unanimously, 15-0, passed a resolution imposing new sanctions against North Korea.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": North Korea is vowing revenge against the United States after the U.N. Security Council, led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, unanimously adopted the toughest sanctions yet against that country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:45:05] HARLOW: Interesting to note that clip by Jake yesterday was actually airing at the moments of president tweeted this, the fake news media will not talk about the importance of the U.N. Security Council's 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on North Korea. That is just not true.

STELTER: There are times his behavior seems almost pathological. The pattern of falsehoods that come from the president's Twitter feed. And it affects his aides as well. It affects his media allies like Sean Hannity because then they have to back up the B.S. that he's posting on Twitter. He also said "The New York Times" is losing a lot of money on Twitter last night. "The New York Times" responded by saying, we're profitable and our stock is up 50 percent right now.

I was talking to Glenn Kessler (ph) about this this morning. He's "The Washington Post" fact checker, and guy that does the Pinocchio.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: And he said, you know, for most of Donald Trump's life, he was able to get away with falsehoods. In his business world, that was -- that was -- there are way to do it. When you're president on the world stage, it's much more obvious when you're spreading this information.

HARLOW: There's something very significant, and that is a move that one of the biggest broadcasting companies in this country, Sinclair Broadcasting, has made. They just bought Tribune, another huge media company. They're going to have even more reach, especially in some of these big swing states, like Ohio. They have done things, like mandating air times for huge Trump surrogates and supporters.

STELTER: Yes, for Boris Epshteyn. Remember him during the campaign. Now he appears frequently on Sinclair stations with pro-Trump commentaries. This is notable because this deal, it's seeing some opposition from a lot of Sinclair's competitors, but it's likely to go through. Sinclair is a conserve leaning broadcaster, stations all across the country, and Boris' commentary, they're an example of that counter-narrative I was talking about, presenting pro-Trump almost no matter what messaging. I think all of this is about --

HARLOW: But it's mandated. That's the difference.

STELTER: Yes.

HARLOW: Thirteen and a half minutes a week, nine segments are mandated on their station.

STELTER: Right, that the anchors have to talk to these pro-Trump commentators no matter what.

HARLOW: Yes, with no pushback afterwards. STELTER: I think this is all about shoring up the base. Whether the

head of Sinclair or whether an aide to the president, it's about trying to shore up the base for that looming confrontation with Robert Mueller.

HARLOW: And it might be effective, but the American public has to know this is happening, this is what you'll be presented with. Be aware of where these things are coming from, right?

STELTER: That's right. You've got to be able to know the source. It's almost like a nutritional label for your news when you're consuming it.

HARLOW: I'm just picturing that.

STELTER: Would that be nice?

HARLOW: Give this show a good nutritional label, OK?

Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

Offensive and not OK. The head of Google, the CEO, quits vacation, comes back to deal with this incredibly controversial memo written by a male engineer saying women are not biologically fit for those tech roles, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:05] HARLOW: The president taking to Twitter this morning saying he is meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price today at 3:00 on the opioid crisis. That is good news. This is getting more attention.

This comes as we continue our special report, "Hooked: America's Addicts." We take a close, close look also at the victims that you do not always see in this crisis, the children. Next hour, you're going to see an incredible reunion here. A father whose heroin addiction ripped him away from all of his children, and we are there when he is reunited with his 12-year-old son for the first time in a decade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. It's been a long time. Ten years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That's up next hour.

Meantime, a story all over the headlines this morning, offensive and harmful. That is how the CEO of Google is describing an anti-diversity memo written by one of Google's male employees. Now the engineer behind the manifesto, which claims women are less suited for tech jobs than me. Why? Because they're women. Biologically they can't do it. Well, that engineer tells "The Wall Street Journal" he has been fired.

CNN's senior technology correspondent Laurie Segall is here.

Laurie, you've seen the memo. You've got a lot of reporting on this. The CEO comes back from vacation.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a big deal. He sent out this memo last night to all Google employees saying that this is harmful and he said, I am coming back from vacation to deal with this. We're going to have a town hall because obviously a conversation needs to happen about inclusiveness.

And I have a bit of that I want to read you. He said, our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. And to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.

And what -- and what Sundar said is he said that this was in violation -- parts of the memo, not all of the memo, but parts were in violation of Google's code of conduct. Now, speaking to sources inside Google, you can read between the lines. They'll tell you if you're in violation of the code of conduct, generally that means you're fired. So it doesn't surprise me that he's confirmed with "The Wall Street Journal" that they -- that he was fired.

HARLOW: Right.

Now, some of the women that worked around him, and I would assume some of the men too, but said that they feel uncomfortable working around him, this male engineer, after they knew that he wrote this memo. That's an issue, obviously. So is just the broader context here of what's been going on in Silicon Valley.

SEGALL: Absolutely. And in the memo he also said he didn't want women to feel, you know, worried that they would be perceived as neurotic if they speak up at a meeting or they needed to be agreeable. We've heard this before, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes.

SEGALL: That, you know, you look --

HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) -- not here, though. I have to say, in a decade.

SEGALL: (INAUDIBLE) in general we hear this.

And I want to throw up some stats before we go because they're important to look at.

HARLOW: Yes.

SEGALL: The women at Google. Overall, 31 percent of women at Google. Only a quarter of those leadership positions filled by women. And tech jobs, and this is noteworthy, only 20 percent women. And then you look at ethnicity at Google, you know, 53 percent white, 39 percent Asian. So, you know, this is a problem at Google. This is a problem at so many different tech companies. This is just the story that's putting it out there and shedding light on it.

[09:55:08] HARLOW: And they're not alone in some of these numbers. They're working really hard to get them up, but until you have some sort of parody --

SEGALL: Yes.

HARLOW: It's really hard to get an equilibrium there.

SEGALL: I think conversations like this always important.

HARLOW: Yes. Thank you for covering it.

SEGALL: Thank you.

HARLOW: As always, Laurie, good to have you.

Much more of Laurie's reporting, she broke the news shocker, cnnmoney.com.

Falling approval numbers, widespread mistrust and nearly three quarters of Americans -- three quarters of Americans say they do not trust what is coming out of this White House. That is a huge credibility gap and crisis. Much more on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:063] HARLOW: Top of the hour, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us.

We begin this hour with a new low for President Trump, his lowest job approval rating yet.