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Bannon Declares "War" After Firing; Breitbart Hits McMaster On Trump Response To USS McCain; Eclipse Crosses Coast To Coast For the First Time In 99 Years. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 12:30   ET



[12:31:55] MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: Looking again at live pictures of the total solar eclipse, a rare event. You can actually see from the United States this in Hailey, Idaho.

We'll monitor this of course throughout the course of this afternoon. But now Steve Bannon leaving the White House last week, he promise to keep fighting for his brand of conservatism. Now back at the helm of Breitbart, he told Bloomberg this. "If there's any confusion out there, let me clear it up. I'm leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents, on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America." Those opponents apparently include some of his former colleagues at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today, Breitbart blamed the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster for Trump's impromptu, that's too bad comment, on the USS John S. McCain accident. This comes as a lot of questions about what role Steve Bannon is going to play outside of the White House. What do we think is his red line here? Is there something that's going to cause him to go after the White House, a specific issue, or is he just going to go after the people, his enemies that he's created during his time at the White House?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I would expect it to be fairly broad-based. But I do think that Steve Bannon is going to focus a lot on the wall and this issue of border security. And we heard -- we saw the President tweet earlier this year about maybe we need a good shutdown. And that's going to be an issue this fall, whether or not they choose to go to the mat over border wall funding.

I wouldn't be surprised if Steve Bannon got pretty exercised about that from his new perch, uncentered by any of the constraints that he had in the White House which is not totally clear to me that there were that many constraints. But -- I mean, the fact that he's been in an influential position on the outside to really make a lot of trouble for Donald Trump and frankly for congressional Republicans if he wanted to.

I also think tax cuts is something to look at. I mean, he talked openly or somewhat openly about, you know, raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for middle-class tax cut. That's not something that's going to sit well necessarily with Republicans on the Hill and Donald Trump shut it down, but, you know, he's not in the White House anymore.

RAJU: And just look at some of the people that we expect him to go after based on his own comments and what we know about his personal relationships in the White House. John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, among the people that the President -- his advisors may be targets of Steve Bannon.

But the President seems to be trying to butter up his former chief strategist saying this on Twitter over the weekend. "Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at Breitbart News, maybe even better than ever before. Fake news needs the competition." The President saying that on Twitter. What do you expect from Bannon?

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think the question, Manu, is Bannon, in some, will going to be eclipsed? There's the fun.

RAJU: Wow. And there is it. Wow.


MARTIN: Look, I think the question -- in all seriousness is, you just put up that graphic with the folks in the White House that could be a Bannon's targets. Well, guess what? They're all still there. They have the President's ear.

[12:35:10] Steve Bannon has Breitbart. Look, that's a weapon that should not be dismissed. But I think that the President's instincts are much more Bannon-like but now there's nothing somebody there to reinforce those instincts. In fact, just the opposite. There'll be more folks there who either reinforce and kind of centrism that his daughter and son-in-law reflect or a more traditional kind of, you know, market-based conservatism that folks like Mike Pence reflect.

Another case, is a Bannonism (ph) law, right?

RAJU: And will the President listen to this criticism from Breitbart who is clearly reads in this clips from?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: I think the President has shown he pays a lot of attention to outside sources. I think that means he speaks to outside advisers. I have no doubt that he will continue to speak to Steve Bannon and Steve Bannon will have his ear.

Of course, it's different from being inside the White House. But a lot of those instincts that President Trump have came and were reinforced by Steve Bannon, he's going to reinforce that whether he's at the White House or whether he's out.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: And that story that you showed earlier, the Breitbart story, it was leading the website for most of this morning. I don't know if it still is. And I thought it was interesting. It said, the story said that it showed disrespect for the President and the manipulating the information that was given to him, similar to the decision with Afghanistan. I mean, that is going to be a space to watch, right? RAJU: And it's clearly wasting our time right away jumping into that position. Thank you all.

Coming up, high-profile viewing event and even special performances all for today's historic eclipse. Singer Bonnie Tyler was on CNN this morning as she prepare to sing her hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" during the actually total eclipse of the sun. Here's a preview.


BONNIE TYLER, SINGER: I need you more than ever. And if you only hold me tight, we'll be holding on forever.



[12:41:43] RAJU: Any moment now in out of this world once in a lifetime experience. All eyes are watching for the first total eclipse to sweep across the U.S. in nearly a century including the President and Vice President.

While President Trump and the first lady watch the eclipse from the White House's Truman Balcony, Vice President Pence will be hosting students for a great American eclipse viewing. What better place to do that then at the V.P.'s house in U.S. Naval Observatory.

Well, possibly in Salem, Oregon, and that's exactly where we find CNN's Miguel Marquez. Miguel, what are you seeing right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing the sun that looks more like a Pacman, Manu. It's absolutely incredible. This little device is really cool. It's called a sun spotter. It sounds like a very fancy pinhole camera.

And you can see just how far the moon there is taking a bite basically out of the sun. You cam see in the middle two sun spots down there at the bottom of the sun. This will -- and the next -- what? Hour or so, this will be completely consumed by the sun and we will get that corona effect where you actually see the streamers coming off of the sun.

Everybody looking forward to it. We are on the grounds of Willamette University here in Oregon. The people in the red caps over here, people from all over the world are here. They're from Cork, Ireland. Thirty-six members of the astronomy club here. People incredibly excited.

On the other side of the capital, thousands of people gathered there, throughout the small towns here. We were in Independence, Oregon. They're looking to, you know, quadruple the number of people that are in their town. Population 9,600.

But one thing you don't want to do is stare at the sun. You know, regular sunglasses you going to see it through. These solar glasses you can't see through at all unless you are staring at the sun, which is a really good thing to do right now.

RAJU: How many people are out there right now in Salem and what are they saying to you as you go around the crowd and you ask them what they're anticipating? Miguel, are you there? Looks like we may have lost Miguel Marquez there in Salem --

MARQUEZ: All right. What can I show to you?

RAJU: What are people on the ground saying to you?

MARQUEZ: Look at everybody sort of staring up into the sky, watching this thing as this national phenomenon happens. This particular eclipse is special because not since 1918. Woodrow Wilson was President then, have we had an eclipse across the U.S. coast to coast like this in that path of totality.

Twelve states it will go through. Millions of people pouring (ph) into that path of totality. It's about 70 miles across the path. That's the shadow of the moon as it crosses through those 12 states. Salem, Oregon, is the first of five capitals, state capitals that this will cross through. Just an amazing happening here, starting in Oregon and finishing up in South Carolina. Manu?

RAJU: CNN's Miguel Marquez in Salem, Oregon. Thank you.

And just a reminder, you can watch the eclipse live in virtual reality. Just go to Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Wolf Blitzer picks it up right now.

[12:45:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's at 9:45 a.m. in Salem, Oregon, 10:45 a.m. in Casper, Wyoming, 12:45 p.m. right here in Washington, D.C. wherever you're watching from around the world. Thanks very much for joining us.

We begin with a spectacular solar eclipse, almost, almost a100-years in the making. Take a look at this some live pictures now coming in from Madras, Oregon, one of the first cities to experience this historic event.

Millions of people across the United States stretching across 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina will be in what's called the path of totality for this solar event. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is in the CNN Severe Weather Center in Atlanta. Miguel Marquez will be joining us from Salem, Oregon, where the eclipse is about to begin, Stephanie Elam in St. Joseph, Oregon.

Chad Myers, start with you. Tell our viewers here in the United States and around the world, we're watching what's going to happen over the next couple of hours.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, if you are in totality. If you are in that 70-mile-wide strip, Wolf, you will get dark. In fact you will see stars. It will be that dark. You will also see the corona around the sun, because the moon will completely block it.

This is a total eclipse. Sometimes they're called Annular Eclipses where the moon is smaller because it's further away from the earth. Ands so you don't block the entire sun. You have a ring around the moon, that won't happen today. The entire sun gets blocked here.

So are you in the pack? Probably not, but 12 million people are. How does this happen? The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun. Well guess what? It's 400 times closer. So it's an exactly going to line up with the sun itself, 50 percent, you're not going to notice anything. It's not (INAUDIBLE) on cloudy day, 75 percent you begin to see something, and if you're 90 percent, the sky gets a little big dark, but not unless you're 100 percent where you really see the stars from this event.

That's what -- and that's why so many people have traveled so far to get to that area of totality. So here is the area we're talking about. All of the way from Salem, Oregon which will be right in the middle of it for two and a half minutes.

The sun covered for two and a half minutes, then to about Yellowstone National Park. Yes, kind of like Grand Teton. And then across parts of Nebraska, where it is raining right now along with Stephanie Elam in St. Joseph, Missouri, clear skies and Nashville major party going on there. And then across parts of the Carolinas and across into Charleston, South Carolina where there are some clouds now. We hope that they do burn off as the day goes on.

One other thing, Wolf, as -- if you're seeing clouds where you are now. I know you should panic and you're probably going to go, "Oh, my god. How much money did I spend to see this?" When the sun begins to get covered, it will cool down. And many of those clouds will go away. So don't give up hope.

BLITZER: We won't, indeed. I want you to stand by. I want to go to Miguel Marquez. So Miguel you're over at Willamette University, Oregon. There are hundreds of scientists who've gathered where you are. Tell our viewers what they will be doing.

MARQUEZ: Hundreds of scientists and thousands of people to see this incredible event. We are just less than a half hour before totality here in Salem, Oregon. I can show you what it looks like on this very cool thing call add sun spotter. Look at this. It looks like a Pac- man, basically.

The sun slowly being eaten away by the shadow of the moon, it's just absolutely gorgeous. People from around the world, scientists, astronomers, others here to see this incredible event. It doesn't happen very often at least in the fashion of doing it this time around.

Since 1918 we haven't had one cross coast to coast in the U.S. So it's a very special one because there are so many people, so many cities, Salem is one of five state capitals that is in that line of totality. And people just taking it all in lots of photographs being taken.

One thing that's really interesting for the scientific community is once you get sort of close to totality and you can see those, the diamond formations and those bailey beads as they call them. And then totality and the corona of the sun, they can really see stuff that you can't normally see. I can say, we're about 50 percent through with that covering the sun. And it is starting to get a little darker out here.

May I speak to you real quick about what you're doing out here?


MARQUEZ: What is your name?

COUPLING: Dave Coupling (ph).

MARQUEZ: I'm going to get close to you because I have a microphone here that you need to hear. Where are you from?

COUPLING: Minneapolis.

MARQUEZ: How do you get here?

COUPLING: I flew out here.

MARQUEZ: You flew out here. How long have you been out here?

COUPLING: I got here yesterday.

MARQUEZ: Why is it so important be here?

COUPLING: Just once in a lifetime. Got to be here, yes. Yes.

[12:50:01] MARQUEZ: You never seen an eclipse before?

COUPLING: No I haven't.

MARQUEZ: What's it going to be like? Why do this?

COUPLING: I think it's going to be just wonderful. I think it just be fantastic. You're going to see the sky disappear and so I --

MARQUEZ: Well the sun disappear, hopefully the sky doesn't disappear.


MARQUEZ: And then the stars come out.

COUPLING: Absolutely.

MARQUEZ: I'm going to listen for crickets I think, because the one thing I'm interested to see if they start chirping.

COUPLING: It will be fine.

MARQUEZ: In fairness, you're right here with whom, your wife?

COUPLING: My wife Laura (ph) right here. MARQUEZ: Hello, hello. Now I'm got to introducing you to these people real quickly because they actually playing hooky from the planetarium in Fresno, California. This is your little device here. How excited are you for this?

STEVEN WHITE, DIRECTOR, DOWNING PLANETARIUM: I'm totally excited. I've been talking about this eclipse for 25 years and I --

MARQUEZ: 25 years?

WHITE: -- I teach it. I teach my lesson on eclipses and always mention this one. It will be a different one --

MARQUEZ: Why this one? Why is this one so big for you?

WHITE: -- because it's a total eclipse close to home. Ordinarily, you might have to go to Africa, to China, out the Pacific Oceana, Antarctica. This time, it's in Oregon.

MARQUEZ: I'm sorry, give me your name.

WHITE: Steven White, Director of the Downing Planetarium and professor of physics.

MARQUEZ: And you're in trouble today. Where -- this is bad, Wolf, because they're meant to be at work today and they played hooky and have driven 700 miles to get up here.

WHITE: Well, because it's a total eclipse. We shut down the planetarium and we're up here. We'll be back in class tomorrow morning though.

MARQUEZ: So no hooky kids tomorrow morning. You will be there, right.

WHITE: First day of school.

MARQUEZ: And the path of this particular eclipse, I mean why is that so special for the country?

WHITE: It's going clear across the United States. And so we get that path of totality. It hasn't happened since 1918.

MARQUEZ: There's such mysticism about eclipses as well going dating back to ancient history. Why are humans so motivated and interested in this phenomenon?

WHITE: Well a total eclipse will not happen in one particular place very often. So people who have never seen that before the sun disappearing in middle of day, the stars coming out, that is truly special.

MARQUEZ: All right, I hope you don't get into too much trouble playing hooky. But we love your sun spotter. Let's go back to the sun spotter. He can line it up for us here. And you see, we are about three quarters of the way through. We are about by my estimate, what? About 20 minutes away from totality here in Salem, Oregon. Very, very cool stuff.

When they announced 30 minutes a short time ago, everybody applauded. I guarantee you, when this thing goes to totality, this crowd will ooh, ah, applaud and God knows what. Wolf.

BLITZER: People are so, so excited especially those who have traveled long distances to see the totality, to see the full impact. I want to go to Stephanie Elam right now. She's over at Rosecrans Airport, Missouri. Stephanie, you're on location.

The location where you are at certainly will have one of the longest duration of the totality more than two and a half minutes. What have people been doing where you are, Stephanie, to prepare?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPNDENT: For one thing, Wolf, everyone here has been wondering about the clouds. And I have to thank Chad Myers, because as soon as he said, it's raining where Stephanie Elam is in St. Joseph, Missouri, it started to rain. It wasn't raining before that. But it's drying up a little bit.

Nonetheless, even with the cloud cover that we have here, if I put on my special glasses here I can see that it is starting. The eclipse is starting here. I can see this top right corner, these top right circumference of the area of the sun is starting to get that little bit of bite taken out of it. So even with the clouds, you can still see it.

So a lot of people here are dodging back and forth between whether they need to put plastic over their cameras. A lot of people out here who have traveled very far and they plan to be here very far in advance. They're talking about people coming from Australia. In fact this whole group behind me they're from Australia, here. And there's another group that came from New Jersey. The people really taking some time to plan where they wanted to be out here in this field, because this should be a really good viewing area, the problem here is the clouds.

Now we were supposed to get thunderstorms. Now we're not. But there's still the cloud area that we are concerned about. It's drizzling and the sun is getting brighter at the same time right now. So it's a little confused here, but we are trying to hopefully see that we can keep our eyes on it.

And as you can see here, people have got their special lenses to protect their lenses and also to protect their eyes here. But you can see, Wolf, from where we're standing right now that the eclipse has started to make that progression in, just as we were told it would do at 11:40 local time.

So we're starting to see the transition here. People are so very excited. And from what we understand that even if there are a lot of clouds, we should still see that lighting change here. We should still see that perhaps the temperature change here. And we are not expected to see the full totality of this eclipse until 1:06 p.m. local time. So that's central time here. But people are so very, very much excited about the eclipse even though we do have a lot of cloud cover. But the cool thing is, with the solar lenses, when I put them on, I can see that the eclipse has started. So clouds or no clouds, it's still pretty darn cool, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very cool indeed. All right stand by, I want to go to CNN, Kaylee Hartung. She's in South Carolina for us, one of last locations for this eclipse. We've got some drone video. We're going to show our viewers as well. Kelly, tell us a little about the people who showed up where you are.

[12:55:09] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORESSPONDENT: Well, Wolf, isle upon South Carolina is a seven-mile-long island. In the winter months only about 4000 people here, but on the busiest weekends of the year more like 30,000. Those are the kinds of numbers we're expecting today. People say it will be like the Fourth of July or Memorial Day weekend here.

All of the roads and bridges remain open to the island. As one police officer told me, we want everybody to come here to experience it with us here but then we want them to go back home. So I have met people from all over the East Coast from New York down to Florida, over to Ohio. But the folks who get the award for traveling, I met a family from Geneva, Switzerland who have traveled all the way here.

Now something neat about experiencing this eclipse on Olive Palms, it go insides with the low tide here. So if you can see behind me, we are looking at maximizing the beach behind us, more than 200 yards of beach for people to enjoy this eclipse.

You can also see this really incredible sand sculpture behind. I want to bring in Maddie (ph) and her dad, David Burke (ph), who are working on this. David, can you explain to me how you all get the honor of this prime real estate to build this on?

DAVID BURKE, ARCHITECT, SAND SCULPTURE: Well we've been lucky to experience the sand sculpting competition for many years and the last couple years we've won. So, when they talked here and the folks here at the Olive Palms called us and said can you do a sand sculptor for us for the eclipse?

So I've brought few more people out. We probably have 10 people out here in this L.S. (ph) three piece jackets. I work for an architecture firm, so I was able to recruit a bunch of architects come out here. Maddie, will show in what we did?

MADDIE: This is --

BURKE: Can you explain it?

MADDIE: Yes, sure. Well if you see, there's the moon going out and then the sun coming in as well. And then in the center, it's the eclipse.

HARTUNG: How long will it take to build this sculpture and for the sculpture to come to totality, if you will? BURKE: Well exactly. We started at 8:30 this morning and we should be finishing about an hour. So we're almost there.

HARTUNG: Maddie, have classes started up for you again?

MADDIE: Well, we started school on Thursday. And we start again tomorrow.

HARTUNG: So today's an off day? You're not skipping school right now? I'm not getting you in trouble by putting you on television?

MADDIE: No. They had school -- no, they said, we don't have school today, because the eclipse is so important, I guess.

HARTUNG: What have you learned about the importance of it and what makes you so excited to experience it here in your hometown?

MADDIE: Well, it's really rare because of the totality. It's like so slim. Like, out of everywhere like we learned about it on Friday at school, so.

HARTUNG: Have you ever seen the beaches this packed here?

MADDIE: Well, I guess around Fourth of July, or Piccolo split, or might be close, but it's pretty packed.

HARTUNG: But not on a Monday. And as so many of the folks here tell me, it can be sunny on one side of the island, cloudy on the other. Any given day so what do you think? What's our forecast going to be like from all that you've experienced on this island before?

BURKE: I think we're going to see a total eclipse. I think it's going to be perfectly clear.

HARTUNG: You think that, too?



HARTUNG: Everybody here, Wolf, is cheering for sunshine so that we can enjoy this special occasion on Olive Palms together.

BLITZER: It's going to be an amazing moment for all the folks who have gathered all across the United States from Oregon, across the entire United States down to South Carolina.

Everybody standby, I want to bring in David DeVorkin right now, he's the Senior Astronomy Curator at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum here in Washington. And also joining g us Chris Hadfield, he's an astronaut, former commander of the space station. And Scott Hawley, Associate Professor of Physic in Belmont University.

Let me start with you, David. So, what's the most important thing from a scientific perspective we're going to learn today? DAVID DEVORKIN, SENIOR CURATOR, SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: More information on what happens when the sun sneezes and the earth catches a cold.

BLITZER: So what does that mean?

DEVORKIN: Means that we are so dependent here on earth for any form of radiation that the sun produces, and that can be visible, infrared, ultraviolet, radio. That can be part of a radiation, you name it.

Every explosion on the sun can affect the earth in terms of communication satellites and power grids and all sorts of things like that. So we want to be able to increase our ability to predict these little sneezes, these little burps so that we can prepare and not get a cold.

BLITZER: Chris Hatfield, what will you going to be looking for most specific?

CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: I think it's a really human experience, Wolf. I mean, it's very scientific, of course, and in fact, the Apollo 11 astronauts put reflectors on the moon so we could measure the exact distance down to fractions of an inch. And we know that the moon is moving away from the earth at about the same rate that your fingernails grow.

So there's all sorts of really interesting geometric science about what's happening, but it's also just an amazing human experience. It's fascinated us for centuries, for thousands and thousands of years. And so, many people are going to get to see that combination of the scientific side, but also the bizarre human side of something that's so rare.

BLITZER: And a very quickly, Scott, what are you going to be looking for specifically today?

SCOTT HAWLEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, BELMONT UNIVERSITY: I'm going to be looking for the Corona. I've studied the corona and looked at spacecraft images but this will be an amazing time.