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Trump Attacks Republican Leadership On Twitter; Republican Aide: Trump's Attacks Are Not Helpful. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 24, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET



SANDERS: Good afternoon.

It's good to be back. You guys don't seem nearly as excited. I thought for sure there would be balloons or something. We'll save that for next time I

guess. Earlier this week, the president delivered his first primetime address to the nation on our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

The president's strategy is based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. And it will ensure terrorists never again use

Afghanistan as a haven to attack the United States.

The brave men and women of our nation's military have given extraordinary sacrifices to this longest war in American history. The president

recognized those sacrifices on Monday during his speech, and I'd like to recognize one particular story here today.

Joseph, a gentleman from Santa Fe, Tennessee, sent his son, a master sergeant in the United States Air Force, a letter nearly 10 years ago while

he was serving our country in Iraq. Now, his son is on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his father has generously shared the letter and

mailed it to the president that he wrote.

Joseph told the president that he's been a police officer for over 30 years and that he sent this letter to his son and on to the White House in hopes

that the president would actually receive it and read it, which I'm to say that he did earlier today.

In his letter to his son, Joseph wrote: "Please don't lose sight of your purpose. You're the only hope and glimmer of light for the good, innocent

men, women and children that you're protecting. This may be hard for you to see or understand. Most people know that all of you are there because you

volunteered to be there.

"Your actions and dedication are seen by people throughout the world as without a doubt the most heroic action of any person which can be made. You

and the soldier standing next to you from all of the other countries are the pride of not only the nations they represent, but every individual that

yearns to be free. Stand tall, my son, and be steadfast, for it is you who are the defender of freedom."

We owe it to the servicemen and -women like the master sergeant who have fought in our name in Afghanistan for 17 years, and to the families who

have watched them go to secure an honorable and lasting outcome to this conflict. As the president said on Monday, the men and women who serve our

nation in combat deserve a plan for victory.

And once that victory has been achieved, they also deserve to return home to a country that honors their sacrifices and provides our nation's heroes

with the support they've earned by risking their lives to ensure the freedoms of all Americans.

That's why the president was also honored to sign yet another historic piece of legislation to support our veterans earlier this week. The V.A.

Choice Act streamlines the lengthy process of appealing claims for disability benefits for the more than 470,000 veterans that are still

waiting for decisions. Under the leadership of Secretary Shulkin, the V.A. is steadily delivering on the president's promise to fix the broken V.A.


Finally, before I open it up to take your questions, as you're all very well aware, I kind of love birthdays around here. And oddly, we have quite

a few of them going on. Major Garrett, happy birthday. But even more importantly, it's -- I'm pretty lucky. I think I have two of the best

parents in the world, and it's my dad's birthday. So happy birthday, Dad.

And it's my niece's birthday, so I (inaudible) you all a ton of stuff today -- my only niece, Caroline, turned four today.

And with that, I will take your questions.


QUESTION: Sarah, there seems to be some acrimony between the president and Republican congressional leadership. How do you repair this relationship

going into the fall?

SANDERS: Look, I think the relationships are fine. Certainly, there are going to be some policy differences, but there are also a lot of shared

goals and that's what we're focused on. We're disappointed that Obamacare, they failed to get it repealed and replaced. But at the same time,

President Trump has worked with Leader McConnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals, and we're going to continue to

do that when the Senate comes back from recess.

QUESTION: Will the president sign any budget bill that does not include funding for a wall?

SANDERS: Look, the president has talked pretty extensively about this. He campaigned on the wall. He won on talking about building a wall. And he's

going to make sure that that gets done. And he'll continue to fight for that funding and ensure that it takes place.

Let's not forget that there were a lot of Democrat senators that also voted for border security and a border fence. And hopefully some of those same

individuals will talk to members in their current party and maybe we can get a bipartisan group to support that and make sure it happens. Because

this president is going to see it through.


QUESTION: Sarah, it's my older daughter's birthday by the way, too, if you...


SANDERS: So (inaudible) cover that one, too.


QUESTION: It's my understanding that when the president meets with Senator McConnell beginning in September when Congress is back, that he will ask

him to take another swing at repealing Obamacare. At the same time, a judge in New Jersey, Judge Walls, said that Senator Robert Menendez cannot come

back to the Senate to cast votes. How does that, in combination with what the president might want the Senate majority leader's view on Obamacare,

factor into the balance of power and vote count you need to get a repeal bill through?

SANDERS: I'm not sure about the specifics of that case. I know there's still an ongoing judicial process taking place. So I'm not going to get

into that. But I can tell you that the president continues to be committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and making sure that America has good

health care, the health care that they deserve.

QUESTION: Given what happened just before the August recess, does he really have a chance of getting it through?

SANDERS: Look, we're committed to continuing to make sure that we have the best healthcare we can. And if we can do that in that direction I think

that's great. If we can't, we need to look for other ways that we can make solutions.

John Decker (ph). QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sarah.

Hurricane Harvey appears to be bearing down on the southern part of the U.S., specifically Texas seems to be in it's crosshairs. There is no

replacement yet for General Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security.

First question, does the president plan to name a replacement for him anytime soon? And second of all, is this problematic in terms of dealing

with Hurricane Harvey, the fact that there's no one at the helm right now at DHS?

SANDERS: No, there's certainly someone at the helm. We've got acting Secretary Elaine Duke who's watching this closely, very involved in the

process along with the acting Director for FEMA.

And again, I think that we are in great shape having General Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process, and probably no better chief

of staff for the president during the hurricane season. And the president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses,

and certainly something he's very aware of and will keep a very watchful eye on, and stands ready to provide resources if needed.

QUESTION: Sarah, the president promised over and over again during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. So why is he now threatening a

government shutdown if Congress won't pay for it?

SANDERS: The president's committed to making sure this gets done. We know that the wall and other security measures at the border work. We've seen

that take place over the last decade, and we're committed to making sure the American people are protected. And we're going to continue to push

forward and make sure that the wall gets built.

QUESTION: Why is -- why is he threatening a shutdown over -- over paying for it? I mean, again, he said over and over again. He talked about the

campaign over and over again -- he said, Mexico's going to pay for the wall. He asked people -- his crowds chanted back at him, Mexico's going to

pay for it, and now he's pushing -- threatening a shutdown of the -- of the government.

SANDERS: No. Once again, the President's committed to making sure this happens and we're going to push forward.


QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

About a week ago on August 17th, the president again referenced a fictitious story about General Pershing committing a mass execution in the

Philippines. A couple questions on that. Does the president know that the story is false? And if so, why does he keep repeating it? And why does the

White House think it's appropriate for the president to perpetuate this false story, if he hasn't been informed that it's false?

SANDERS: I haven't had a chance to ask him about that. So I can't speak to it.

QUESTION: Then on the broader point, so the president's spreading false information via his Twitter account that seems to encourage wartime

atrocities. No one in the White House has thought to inform him that this story is false.

SANDERS: I didn't say no on that. I said I hadn't had that conversation so I wasn't going to speak to something that I wasn't aware of.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Thank you.

The U.S. has withheld funding to Egypt over it's human rights record. President Trump praised President al-Sisi back in April when he was here.

Why -- why the change of tone now?

SANDERS: Look, the United States has always been committed on human rights issues. We'll continue to do that. And if I have further updates, I'll let

you know. But I encourage you to reach out to the State Department.


QUESTION: Sarah, two questions. On the economics of a government shutdown if the wall is not paid for, the president likes to talk about how the

economy is doing well under his watch. If there's a government shutdown, people could be laid off or -- for a moment or some people could lose their

jobs. Talk to us about the economics. What does he view the economics of it with this wall for the average American he's fighting for?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into the weeds on that, but I know that the president is probably one of the strongest presidents we've had on economic

issues. There's a reason that over a million jobs have been created since he took office. There's a reason that the unemployment is at a 16-year low.

There's a reason that the stock market is at an all-time high. He's very committed to job creation, economic growth, and he's going to continue to

do that.

QUESTION: ... the HBCU summit? There is a big back and forth about this HBCU summit. Three of the organizations that are on the top of the HBCU

system, basically represent them, are saying this is not the time to have the summit because of Charlottesville. And is that (inaudible) agencies not

yet what was promised from this administration and there could be an alternate summit by a congresswoman.

Talk -- what's going on here (inaudible)?

SANDERS: Look, the HBCU summit has been going on for over 30 years. We have no intention of canceling it. And as of right now, the summit is at

complete capacity with a waiting list. With that type of engagement, I think it's best that we move forward.

QUESTION: Can I see the list of schools and the names? Because we're hearing -- I mean, from schools, they're saying that they're not coming,

and a lot of leaders.

SANDERS: I can only tell you who's registered, and certainly that we're at capacity for the convention center with a pretty lengthy waiting list. In

terms of whether or not we release that, I'd have to check on that and get back to you.

QUESTION: Sarah, what are the president's thoughts on the situation in Cuba at the U.S. embassy? We understand now (inaudible) 19 Americans have been

injured (ph).

SANDERS: I know that they have been going through the process of bringing the majority of those people back to have thorough testing and see what

actions need to be taken and how best to move forward. At this point, I'd refer you to the State Department on anything further.

QUESTION: Does the president believe that Cuba is involved directly?

SANDERS: I can't comment on that at this time. Right now, we're under a thorough review, and as soon as we know something, we'll let you know.

Amir (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

This morning, the president said that the debt ceiling approval process is a mess. Is it? Is that accurate?

SANDERS: Look, it's our job to inform Congress of the debt ceiling and it's their job to raise it. And Congress and the previous administration have

obligated trillions in spending and we need to make sure we pay our debts. We're still committed to making sure that gets raised.

QUESTION: (inaudible) that ceiling bill?




QUESTION: I have a question on (inaudible) the health attack, that the secretary of state has deemed them. Has the president been informed of

this? Has he been briefed?

SANDERS: He's been briefed, but I -- again, I think there's a thorough review taking place and at this point I'd have to refer you to the State

Department for any further followup.


QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

I'm going to try a (inaudible) question for you.


QUESTION: Does the White House have any reaction to the FTC approving the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon?

SANDERS: I'm not aware of that. I'd have to check and see if there's an official administration response.

QUESTION: And a second question. I want to read the comment from Senator Bob Corker. I'm sure you've seen it, over a week ago, about the president

saying that the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order

to be successful. He also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation.

Do you have any response to that, from a Republican senator?

SANDERS: I think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium.


QUESTION: Just to follow up on Jonathan's question. Since the president is going full court press threatening a shut down over funding of the wall,

does that mean he is abandoning any efforts to negotiate with Mexico any payment for construction?

SANDERS: Certainly, I don't think any efforts have been abandoned. And an official happy birthday.


QUESTION: Hold on one second. You mentioned in your opening remarks, "honorable" and "victory, as the president did in Afghanistan. Can you

describe to the American people what both of those words mean to the president -- "honorable" and "victory" -- what does it look like? What will

the -- what does that mean?

SANDERS: Well, I think when he spoke on Monday, he laid out what the top priority was in this process, and that's making Americans safe and

protecting the American people, and moving forward with this strategy, and making sure that Afghanistan is never able to be used as a haven to attack

the United States. I think those are certainly clear goals and part of that process.

QUESTION: Does that mean therefore that U.S. military personnel will be there as long as there is any type of terrorist activity or cell in

Afghanistan or Pakistan?

SANDERS: Look, I think when it comes to the strategy in Afghanistan, they're going to be focused on the conditions on the ground, which will be

determined by the generals in the military on the ground, and certainly through the Department of Defense and General Mattis and his team, and not

arbitrary timetables. And he'll be the one that can lay out those specifics for you and what that looks like.

QUESTION: I was asking, because you mentioned terrorism, you mentioned threats. There are several different networks there -- Haqqani, Taliban, Al

Qaida, ISIS.

SANDERS: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is the priority of this administration and the strategy that it will pursue until it is accomplished when they all of those terrorist cells

in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, and only then can victory be achieved, and that be described as honorable?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get down into that. I think that's a question that's, again, best answered by General Mattis and the Department of

Defense. What I can tell you is that the ultimate goal is a peaceful settlement between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, that

protects our interests and protects American lives.

That's the focus and I'll let Secretary Mattis determine and lay that out for you more specifically. QUESTION: Sarah, I've got to follow up on Major

about Afghanistan. First of all, if all of (inaudible) Afghanistan has been working, then why are we still there? And if it hasn't been working, what

are we planning to be doing differently moving forward?

SANDERS: I think, again, one of the things that is different is the decision on whether or not when and how to withdraw would be based on

conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables; and making sure that we have an integrated strategy that puts all of our American power --

diplomatic, economic, and military -- in a way that's sustainable and cost- effective. And making sure we have that integrated process is a big key to this strategy.

QUESTION: (inaudible) adding troops is just prolonging withdrawal (ph)? Is that what that is?

SANDERS: No. Again, we're not doing this based on a timetable, but conditions on the ground and making sure that we're protecting American

lives and defeating terrorists. I think that it's very clear when the president laid that out on Monday.


QUESTION: Hold on. Wait. I had a second question.

Whatever the final objective is, is it really worth a reported trillion dollars that it would cost? Isn't there anything better we might be able to

spend that on?

SANDERS: I don't think you can set a price tag on American lives.

QUESTION: Sarah? Sarah, one more question on Afghanistan.

The president talked about putting more pressure on Pakistan in playing a constructive role. But he also talked about having a new, closer strategic

partnership with India, which is Pakistan's prime antagonist. Why does the president think drawing closer to India will prompt the Pakistanis to play

a more constructive role, rather than becoming more defensive and playing more into a strategy of giving harbor to extremists?

SANDERS: Well, we think it's important that there's a regional approach, and part of that is developing and strengthening that relationship and

partnership with India. They've been making important contributions towards Afghanistan's democracy and their stability and we think it's important to

continue that effort.


QUESTION: On this threat of a government shutdown if Congress doesn't secure funding for this wall, how is that not a concession from this White

House that Mexico isn't actually going to pay for this wall and American taxpayers will?

SANDERS: Again, this is something the president is committed to. He's committed to protecting American lives and doing that for the border wall

is something that's important. It's a priority and we're moving forward with it.


QUESTION: But he's not saying that Mexico is going to pay for it.

SANDERS: He hasn't said they're not, either.

Nolan (ph)?


SANDERS: Thank you. I think we've (inaudible).

QUESTION: On this -- on the president's ban on transgender service in the military, how close is the White House to sending guidance to the Pentagon

on that? And the policy itself, how much discretion will be given to the Pentagon on implementing it?

SANDERS: When we have an announcement on that. I'll let you know. We'll be sure to answer those questions at that time.

John Gizy (ph)

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Two questions please.

First, beginning of May with great fanfare, the president signed a string of religious liberty executive orders. The last few days, the head of the

Becket Fund, the group that fights for religious liberty in court, complained that the executive order was even with the Johnson Amendment,

tax-exempt status for churches, whether they deal in politics. And the Affordable Care Act's contraception clause were both still being enforced

in spite of the president's orders that they not be. What is the president doing about this? And is he aware of these complaints?

SANDERS: I'm not sure if he's aware of these complaints or any specific places where that's being ignored. So I'd have to look into that. Probably

talk to our friends at HHS specific to the contraception thing and get back to you.

QUESTION: All right. And my second question is, in Russia, the major story there is that the theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, who's a well-known

figure in the Russian entertainment industry and an opponent of the Putin regime has been arrested and is being tried on what he said are trumped-up

charges regarding his finances. There are massive demonstrations beginning. Does the administration have a comment on what's happening to Mr.


SANDERS: I certainly can't make an official statement at this time, but I'll circle back with you.



QUESTION: Two questions. One, given the rift with the president and the Republican leaders in Congress, is there an elevated role right now for

Vice President Pence having been in Congress, kind of speaking both languages in terms of working with Congress going in to negotiating budget

and so forth?

SANDERS: The vice president plays a key and pivotal role in the administration and the White House. I think he's certainly, always going to

be an important part of the process of moving legislation forward on whatever that circumstance is, or whatever the matter is. He is probably

one of the best advocates here at the White House and certainly somebody that the president has a great deal of trust in and is happy to have him on

his team.

QUESTION: Is the role elevated, though, considering that there seems to be a rift between --

SANDERS: I think that the vice president is the second in command, so it's a pretty high role where -- where he is, and certainly again a key member

of this administration, and somebody who plays a pivotal role every single day in the White House, no matter what the circumstances are.

QUESTION: (inaudible) there's been (inaudible) criticism from conservatives about Commissioner Koskinen at IRS after an IG (ph) report came out that

highlighted that there were 213 employees that were rehired after committing offences and including some crimes for termination. I was

wondering if you could revisit why Commissioner Koskinen is still part of the administration, and if the president has any plans putting in place a

replacement when his time is up.

SANDERS: When we have a personnel announcement on that front, I'll certainly let you know.

QUESTION: Questions on pardons, if I could. One on Sheriff Arpaio. Is the president seeking a recommendation from the pardon (ph) attorney or the

deputy attorney general, or is he asking for an FBI background check in his consideration about the pardon?

SANDERS: I would imagine they go through the thorough and standard process and when we have an announcement on what that decision is after it's

completed, we'll let you know.

QUESTION: And how broadly -- beyond Arpaio, there are 2,200 other pardon applications, and does the -- the president have any pardon policy, pardon

philosophy, a particular way that he would like to use his pardon power during his term in office?

SANDERS: I haven't had a specific conversation with him about that, but I know that his -- the White House counsel plays a big role in that and would

certainly be involved in that process and any deliberations on that.

Alexis (ph).

QUESTION: The president has been clear that -- in that past that he wanted to get started on tax reform, but we haven't heard him say that much about

it. Politico talked to a White House correspondent and published this week that the president has an imminent announcement about tax reform. Can you

describe how he wants to kick off the fall campaign to get that accomplished this year? And are we going to hear from him this week, next

week? What would you expect?

SANDERS: Tax relief and the focus on tax relief for middle-class Americans is a huge priority for this administration, and certainly going to be a big

focus in the fall. And we're going to look at a lot of different ways in which to talk about that and present that to the American people working

with Congress to make sure that happens.

And we'll keep you guys posted when there's specific announcements. I think you can expect some of that to take place in the very short order, probably

next week, and following through to the fall.

QUESTION: It's -- it's customary for presidents to get annual physicals -- physical exams at Walter Reed. The president, I think, last released

information of his medical condition last fall during the campaign. Can you tell us whether the president intends to utilize the federal facilities of

Walter Reed this year to get a physical and then release that information to the public?

SANDERS: I'll let you know if that's going to happen.

Trey (ph).

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

On Tuesday, President Trump said, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. Does he stand by that statement?

SANDERS: Look, I think the President's been clear that this is priority, protecting American citizens is a priority. Something he's committed to,

and we're going to -- as I've said multiple times today, he's committed to seeing that through.

QUESTION: (inaudible) government shutdown to get the wall built?

SANDERS: I think I've answered this question several times.

Zeke (ph)?

QUESTION: Two questions for you. First, the president at the rally, mentioned that he was -- he seemed inclined to pull the U.S. out of the

North American Trade Agreement. His comments came after the first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks last week. So were those comments informed (ph)

by the status of those negotiations last week here in Washington, when he said, (inaudible) pulling the U.S. out?

SANDERS: No, the president's being kept up to date on those negotiations. I think he's certainly been clear about how he feels about NAFTA, and making

sure that we get the best deal for the American people. He's committed to that. We'll see how the negotiations go, and then go from there.

Thanks so much guys.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You have been listening to the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders giving her first on-

camera briefing in many weeks, three weeks.

Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani.

One of the headlines, Donald Trump's relationship with Republican leaders. Of course, there were reports that it was quite testy in fact that it came

to a shouting match on a phone call with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders that relationship with the Republican leader is, quote, "fine" despite the president's renewed attacks

on Twitter. Mr. Trump is obviously in a fighting mood today, once again.

So, he took on his party online. Several of his tweets singled out the Republican Senate leader, including this one, "The only problem I have with

Mitch McConnell is that after hearing repeal and replace for seven years, he failed, that should never have happened."

A Republican leadership aide on Capitol Hill says frustrations with the president are growing. The aide told CNN, quote, "He is attacking leaders

while we are selling his agenda."

And it's not only Capitol Hill that people are puzzled by that particular question. Let us bring in CNN White House reporter, Stephen Collinson.

So, Donald Trump is attacking -- we are used to it. By the way, CNN didn't get a question in that briefing today. I am sure you noticed. The attacks

against the press. Now he's attacking, Donald Trump, the Republican leadership.

And they are saying, hang on, we are trying to defend your agenda and you keep attacking us again and again. How long can this last?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it is going to go on because this is the way Donald Trump operates in politics. He only seems

to know how to attack (inaudible). It does not seem, Hala, a very smart thing to do to attack the person, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority

leader, who might be the most important person to Donald Trump in the whole of Washington.

If any of Donald Trump's agenda is to get through, it's going to Mitch McConnell that threads it through this very narrow majority the Republicans

have in the Senate. So, it does not seem like a very small political move.

But Trump is in fact doing what presidents often do, they go back to their base, their most loyal voters and try and energize them in order to get

Washington to move.

[15:25:10] It just happens to be the case here, but it is his own party. I mean, I've been thinking about this, in some ways, I think the way to look

at this is not to look at this as the Republican Party.

It is almost like Donald Trump party taking on the establishment Republican Party, almost like --

GORANI: But he needs Mitch McConnell. Here's my question and we hear this a lot from abroad. If you need the Republican leadership to get your very

ambitious legislative agenda through, and you get -- and at some point, these attacks against them might become extremely counterproductive. Is

there a strategy here? I mean, isn't it is self-defeating by definition?

COLLINSON: Right. It is self-defeating, but we do not know how this is going to pan out. It could be that Donald Trump succeeds in uniting the

base of the Republican Party against its leaders in Washington.

If you think about it, Donald Trump is very unpopular, but the Republican Congress among Republican voters is even more unpopular than Donald Trump.

Republican voters are very angry that the Republican Congress didn't to get rid of Obamacare.

They want action on the wall, that is something that a lot of Republican senators do not want to move on. So, I don't think it's a completely done

conclusion that Donald Trump is doing something that is completed against his own interests.

The question is, does the Trump wing of the party and does the more establishment wing of the party off to the spirit of jockeying and conflict

finally find a way to come together.

And so, to pass something that sort of suitable to both of them. That is what I mean, it's almost like a coalition government that is taking place,

each side is pushing its own agenda. Is there something in the middle?

I mean, you're right. It could be that Donald Trump's behavior here is so toxic and so poison the well that that remains impossible. It's a big

risk, but I think that is one of the only -- that's the way he does politics and I think it's the only thing he knows.

GORANI: I want to ask you about this, another of Mr. Trump's angry tweets, this one targeted former intelligence chief, James Clapper, on CNN, he

questioned the president's fitness to hold office a few days ago. It made big news.

Mr. Trump wrote "James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress is now an authority on Donald Trump. Will he show you his beautiful letter

to me?" That's cryptic. Do we know what he's talking about?

COLLINSON: Yes. Our colleague, Jake Tapper, has spoken to Mr. Clapper and what it turns out is that on the eve of the election back last November, he

wrote letters to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the expectation clearly that obviously that one of them will win the election.

Basically, saying that the security services, the U.S. intelligence was ready to work with them, you know, during their presidency. So, in many

ways, this was a courtesy letter.

The fact that Donald Trump is sort of making it out to be something that is a little bit more than that I think is you quite characteristic of the way

he uses these things in, you know, the political discourse.

So, it is not as if Clapper was trying to you get on Trump's side. I think it was more of pro-forma issue here and had Hillary Clinton once he would

have had exactly the same letter.

GORANI: All right. Stephen Collinson, thanks very much.

This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Still to come --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every Pakistan issue hurt, humiliated.


GORANI: Reaction from Pakistan's opposition leader, (inaudible), after Donald Trump told his country to step it up in the fight against terror.

We'll be right back.


HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, WORLD RIGHT NOW: Well, Donald Trump has been on the offsensive all this week. He took aim at multiple targets, some familiar

ones like the press. He's attacked Democrats, the media, his own party. And earlier this week, he also picked a fight with the country of Pakistan.

During a formal scripted speech, Donald Trump outlined his new plan for the US mission in Afghanistan and he had harsh words for Pakistan, accusing the

country of sheltering terror.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the

Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan it. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.


GORANI: He also said, look, we pay the country billions and billions of dollars, they have to do more. Pakistan is hitting back in this war of

words. One of the country's most prominent politicians is the opposition leader Imran Khan.

I spoke with him a short time ago. I began by asking him for his reaction to Donald Trump's tough talk.


IMRAN KHAN, MEMBER OF PAKISTANI NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Well, Hala, it's something every Pakistani feel hurt, humiliated. It's a country that

collaborated with the US after 9/11.

And by joining the US and the US war on terror, we ended up losing something like 70,000 people dead, over $100 billion loss to the economy.

And the tribal areas, which is joining the Afghanistan, where a population 6 million, almost at one point, 80 percent were homeless IDPs.

So, after all this, suddenly to hear this strange statement, Pakistan is responsible, made a scapegoat for the US not succeeding in Afghanistan, I

just have to say that it is deeply painful for all of us.

GORANI: So, you don't acknowledge that Pakistan is turning a blind eye sometimes, the government itself?

I spoke Zalmay Khalilzad, the former American ambassador to Afghanistan. He said it's not true. the government knows where these extremist groups

are. This is what he said that essentially they're not just in these tribal zones, but in the big cities themselves. If you could listen.


ZALMAY KHALILZAD, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: In fact, the leadership of the Taliban are in the city of Quetta. Other leaders are in

places like Peshawar, big cities of Pakistan.

And, yes, of course, when they come across the border, they cross areas that are tribal, but the government of Pakistan knows where these people



GORANI: So, you have former ambassadors like Khalilzad saying the government knows exactly where these people are and they're just turning a

blind eye.

KHAN: So, number one, why does he not tell this to the Pakistani government or the military which keeps asking them to tell them where these

people are because they seem to know, Zalmay Khalilzad seems to know.

Number two, Hala, is this plausible? There were 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. Over 100,000 American troops. One of the mightiest military

machine in the history of mankind.

And the total number of insurgents going into Afghanistan, which Pakistan is being accused of harboring, the Haqqani group, the Haqqani network which

Pakistan is supposed to be protecting, what, they're 1,500, 2,000, maximum 3,000?

[15:35:13] Are we to believe that it's because of these 3,000 people, 150,000 of the best military might of the West could not win in

Afghanistan? Is this plausible? Who believes this joke?

In the end, is this what they've got? They blame Pakistan for not being able to succeed in Afghanistan.

GORANI: Well, Donald Trump has even said - has even implied in his speech that aid, that assistance, economic and military, to your country,

Pakistan, could be at risk, he implied, unless the government of your country does more to tackle these extremists?

KHAN: In my opinion, Pakistan has been the biggest collateral damage in this Afghan adventure. It was ill thought-out. There was no definite

aims. They never tried a proper political solution in Afghanistan. There was bombings and killings.

And to blame Pakistan at the end, who is the biggest sufferer of this war - which country has lost 70,000 people going into help the Americans in


And when we talk about to the economy, it's over $100 billion.

GORANI: But you'd OK with some of this US aid being suspended if, in fact, Donald Trump goes down that road, you'd be OK with that?

KHAN: I would certainly recommend it to our government. I'm in the opposition. I would recommend that we could do without this aid. We're

much better off staying out of Afghanistan.

This aid has been very costly to us in terms of, as I said, not just the loss to the economy, but the number of Pakistanis killed, wounded, lost

limbs in these bomb attacks. We would do without this aid.

GORANI: Did you admit, though, that your country has a terrible problem with some of these groups that carry out horrific attacks? Just a few

months ago, in Lahore, 80 people killed.

If you were prime minister, if you were the head of the government, what would you do differently?

KHAN: In my opinion, Pakistan - all the political parties have come to the table and we have come up with what is called the National Action Plan,

where we feel that all militant groups within Pakistan should be disarmed.

So, this is a consensus reached in Pakistan after all this bloodshed. And that's really the way of going about it because the legacy of the 80s has

to be brought to an end. And only the government should have monopoly of arms.

GORANI: One last thing, a message to Donald Trump? You heard what he had to say about your country, you heard what he had to say about his strategy

for Afghanistan, your neighbor, what would you tell him, what would your advice be?

KHAN: I would say that this is a deeply flawed policy. It's more of the same. If he's going to send more troops, what are these groups going to

do, which 150,000 troops could not do, and I feel that his stated policy of killing the enemy, that's what they've been doing for all this while.

I think they should change policy. They should engage the neighbors. That mean China, Russia and Iran. And they should try and form a government of

consensus. And actually, the US should think of leaving Afghanistan because as long as there are troops in Afghanistan, there's always going to

be a problem.

If they can do simultaneously, get the neighbors on the same table, bring them on a dialogue with the Taliban and then have a withdrawal and, at the

same time, a government of consensus is set up in Afghanistan, to me, this is the only solution.

GORANI: Do you yourself as having a clearer path to becoming prime minister? I know you're in the opposition now. But Nawaz Sharif was

removed a few weeks ago. How do you see the next few months playing out for you in terms of that ambition?

KHAN: Well, I'm a sportsman. My training is as a sportsman. So, I'm always optimistic.i always think I'm going to win. I do feel this time

that this is our time, this coming election, whenever it is. We think it will be the end of this winter. And I think we have a very good chance of

winning the election.

GORANI: You see yourself as prime minister of Pakistan?

KHAN: Well, if we win the elections, hopefully.


GORANI: Imran Khan there speaking to me earlier with reaction to Donald Trump and also his hopes, his political ambitions over the next several


Now, the Trump administration is trying to revive the stalled peace process in the Middle East with a new envoy. Jared Kushner, the president's son-

in-law and senior advisor, expectations are pretty low considering the rigid positions of all the parties and also the intractable nature of the


[15:40:08] Kushner met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: I think this is a sign of the great alliance between us and the great goals that guide us.

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It's true. Well, we're appreciative of your team and all the efforts that they've made. The

president is very committed to achieving a solution that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area.

And we really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in a way that the president

has asked them to do so.

So, the relationship between Israel and America is stronger than ever and we really think Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership and his



GORANI: Jared Kushner there. You don't hear him speak publicly very often. Kushner also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today.

Oren Liebermann joins me now live in Jerusalem with more.

So, were these the sort of general overarching statements, like the one we heard from Jared Kushner or was anything more specific discussed?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: A very similar readout that we got from Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, of the meeting with

Kushner and Abbas.

And it's what wasn't said that's even more important than what was said. Essentially, nice statements back and forth and optimism about working

together and how much Trump is interested in the peace process.

What wasn't said, however, is concrete steps on advancing a peace process. No sort of time table for negotiations.

And, importantly, no vision. We have yet to see the Trump administration commit to the two-state solution. And that's the international consensus

on what has to happen here, the future, a state of Israel next to a state of Palestine, and very much worries the Palestinians that the Trump

administration hasn't been able to say, yes, a two state solution is what we're pursuing here, it's the end game.

GORANI: All right. Oren Liebermann, thanks for that update there. We'll continue following those efforts.

In the Middle East, the US and Israel are clearly trying to find common ground, but they approach one issue very differently.

Israel, for instance. Dozens of transgender soldiers serve openly in the military. In America, transgender members of the military have endured a

painful wait since President Trump announced a ban in July on Twitter, without apparently warning the Pentagon.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the White House could issue specific guidance on this ban soon.

Back at Israel, our Ian Lee reports on a soldier who transitioned after he joined the Army.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Micha Yehudi is happy today. But a couple years ago, he hit rock bottom.

MICHA YEHUDI, ISRAELI SOLDIER: I had never told anyone before. I barely told myself. I was terrified.

LEE: Back then, Yehudi was a female army captain and didn't feel right in her skin. So, she went to her commanding officer and said she wanted to

transition to a man.

YEHUDI: I cried during the interview from the moment the reaction came out of his mouth and he said, OK. And that was it.

LEE: Yehudi credits Israel's army for helping him make the transition. Today, he marches for transgender rights at Jerusalem's gay pride parade.

Israel says roughly 60 transgender soldiers serve openly in the country's military.

In the United States, the future of transgender soldiers could change. It started with a tweet from President Donald Trump, ordering a ban on trans

soldiers in the US military. That message left thousands of US military personnel in limbo.

Yehudi balks at any notion transgender people aren't up to the task.

YEHUDI: If I'm not tough, then I don't know what I am. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't tough enough. I wouldn't be alive.

LEE: Israel also grapples with equality. Gay couples still can't marry and religious conservatives view the community as an abomination.

(on-camera): Shira Banki was murdered two years ago at this gay pride parade by an ultra-orthodox extremist. And while the LGBTQ community

fights for their rights in society, in the Israeli army, they've been accepted.

(voice-over): As for President Trump, Yehudi urges him to get to know trans soldiers.

YEHUDI: They're no different from anyone else. They just want to - they just love their country, like I love mine.

LEE: A country where soldiers can march to the beat of their own drum.

Ian Lee, CNN, Jerusalem.


GORANI: A lot more ahead on the program and a CNN exclusive. His case became a flashpoint for the tensions between the US and Cuba. Now, sits

down with Elian Gonzalez. Hear what he thinks about President Trump. We'll be right back.


[15:47:07] GORANI: It was a young boy catapulted into an international custody battle. Elian Gonzalez was just five years old when his mother

died trying to cross from Cuba to the US.

He was rescued at sea. He was taken to Florida. And Elian's American relatives wanted him to stay. His father disagreed. He wanted him back.

Many of you will remember this iconic image that shows a terrified Elian, as American agents stormed his uncle's house to take him back to Cuba.

Now, that little boy is 23 years old and he sat down exclusively with our Patrick Oppmann.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now 23 years old, Elian Gonzalez walks down the street of his hometown in Cardenas, Cuba.

Since coming back here, he only rarely speaks in public, but Gonzalez appears in a new CNN documentary about his famous custody battle.

Alongside his father, he agreed to talk to us about his life now and hopes for the future.

OPPMAN: What do you think your life would have been like if you had stayed in the United States?

ELIAN GONZALEZ, FORCIBLY REMOVED FROM THE US IN 2000 (through translator): I think I would have become a poster boy for that group of Cubans in Miami

that tries to destroy the revolution that try to make Cuba look bad. I would have been used in that way, maybe I would have become an actor on TV

or maybe I would have more money than I have here with more comforts, but I wouldn't have my family. I wouldn't have the tranquility I have in Cuba.

OPPMANN: There were a lot of people who argued against sending you back to Cuba because they said you would be brainwashed. What do you say to those

people now?

GONZALEZ: Well, if they had brainwashed me, I would say they hadn't brainwashed me because I would have been brainwashed. It didn't happen.

That's not something my father would have allowed to happen.

I think the best way to show they didn't brainwash me and no one influences my decisions is Fidel. Fidel put many things in my hands. Fidel told me

if I wanted to be an athlete, he supported that. If I wanted to be a swimmer, he supported that. If I wanted to be an artist, he supported that

and he did.

OPPMANN: You're still hopeful that there could be a reconciliation between your family here and your family in Miami?

JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, FATHER OF ELIAN GONZALEZ: I have the best intentions to forgive them, so that it can continue to be a relationship of families.

They with their ideals and we with ours.

OPPMANN: You watched President Trump's speech about Cuba, what did you think?

GONZALEZ: It's a pity the latest events that have taken place. In terms of President Trump's pronouncements toward Cuba, I only hope that relations

improve until our differences can be cleared up. Everyone can have their different point of view, have their political differences, but I don't

think countries and that families should continue to be separated.

[15:50:35] OPPMANN: Next year - February of next year, President Castro says that he will step down as president. How do you think Cuba will


GONZALEZ: They say the Castros' term will end, but I don't think the ideology wil end, what that they have taught us nor the ideas of the

Castros because Cuba is much more than its government.

OPPMANN: Do you think your case, looking back, helped heal some of the wounds that existed between the Cubans in Miami and Cubans here in Cuba?

GONZALEZ: It showed so many families in Cuba and the US that you don't have to mix politics and money with family. Beyond ideology, whatever our

principles is family. We have been separated by laws, by the blockade, by the sea, we don't have to keep separating us as a family.

OPPMANN: You feel like you have a foot in both countries?

GONZALEZ: Both my feet are very much in Cuba. My two feet, my body, my mind are in Cuba. But there are times when I think about the United

States. I wouldn't be who I am had I not been in the United States.


GORANI: An exclusive interview there with Elian Gonzalez. Well, you remember that image of an armed agent pointing a gun at the six-year-old

Elian Gonzalez. It became an instant iconic image because it perfectly captured the tensions within Elian's family and between the two countries

and how authorities in America responded.

Alan Diaz from "The AP", "The Associated Press", was the man behind the lens. He says getting that photo was a combination of strategy, timing

and, as always, luck.


ALAN DIAZ, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS" PHOTOGRAPHER: And as I walk in, I'm turning on the camera, setting the camera, setting the stroke, putting

everything on, I just ask where is the boy.

A very good friend of the family, he says, he's in the room. Now, of course, I take off to the wrong room. I go to Elian's room.

Why? Because I think Elian is in bed. And I see Elian is not in the room. And I realize, oh, my God, he is not here. There was only two rooms.

So, I take off. I bang on the door. The door opens in slow motion, just goes like this, and I look and there's is Donaro (ph) with Elian in his

arms in the closet. Elian is crying like his - he is so, I don't know, scared, I guess.

So, I just walk between the bed and the closet to the end, to the night table. I turn around. Now, I have Elian on my right, the door in front of

me. Elian said to me in Spanish (INAUDIBLE).

I knew they're coming. I knew it. I just knew it. That's all I can say. Everything is going to be right, baby. It's going to be right.

Now, all of a sudden, that door just blew open. They came in. And I'm shooting this, of course. He is up focused on Elian. It's a flash going

into his face.

And he turned to the man, he said back off. I mean, really back off. But I just - I'm behind the camera. And behind the camera, honestly, I felt

like he can't do anything to the - I say it was my God. He was - God, my angel, they were there with me.


GORANI: There you have it. The photographer that captured that iconic photo.

Coming up, this woman just won $759 million. We'll hear from her next.


[15:56:03] GORANI: A woman in Massachusetts has had her life changed forever. She has just won the Powerball lottery jackpot, $759 million.

Rough reminder on that number. Mavis Wanczyk is her name.

She said that a coworker looked at her ticket and told her that all her numbers matched. So, what's her winning strategy you ask. Here's what she

told reporters.


MAVIS WANCZYK, JACKPOT WINNER: My numbers were kind of basically random, like maybe it was our birthdays, maybe one from here, one from there. I

just - whatever could work.

And then, there's a thing between me and my mom and my stepfather and I have a friend. We all go out to a dinner on a Friday night and we all

(INAUDIBLE) and our number is four. I just happened to choose.


GORANI: Now, for all of you daydreaming about winning millions upon millions of dollars, a cautionary note. According to the National

Endowment for Financial Education - get this number - 70 percent of people who win big in the lottery end up broke within just a few years.

And, of course, as always, money doesn't buy you happiness. But probably that is - you have to be rich to know it.

That is the WORLD RIGHT NOW for today. Thanks for watching. Same place, same time tomorrow. I'll see you then.

I'm Hala Gorani. "Quest Means Business" is up next.