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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump in Texas; North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 29, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
President Trump is in Austin, Texas, at this hour being briefed on the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Meantime, the president is facing another type of storm, a new thunderclap from North Korea. Today, the president said all options are on the table after the Kim Jong-un regime fired yet another ballistic missile.
The Pentagon confirmed a short time ago that it was an intermediate- range missile that flew right over Japan. It landed in the Pacific Ocean.
I want to bring in CNN's Will Ripley. He's actually in Pyongyang. He's the only Western journalist on the ground inside of North Korea.
Will, we should note the music that we hear behind you is actually a wakeup call to North Koreans.
Tell us about this fourth missile in just four days. What does this mean?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake Tapper will be sorry he's missing this, Brianna. He always comments about the music, but it plays hourly here in Pyongyang.
And, look, this missile launch is significant. There were three ballistic missiles short-range that were launched over the weekend that really didn't get that much attention, because we're used to seeing that kind of launch from North Korea.
But this missile, first of all, from where it was launched is significant. It was launched from near the Pyongyang airport, just about 20 miles from where I'm standing right now. This is a commercial airport, also military as well, but people fly in, journalists, humanitarian aid workers, tourists. We just flew into that same airport over the weekend.
And by North Korea launching a missile from near their capital, they're really sending a message to the United States that they can launch missiles from anywhere, including highly populated areas, which would make any preemptive strike very difficult, because of the grave humanitarian consequences.
And then of course also noteworthy because of the flight path, Brianna, right over Japan.
KEILAR: And there had been these previous threats, Will, against the U.S. territory of Guam.
But North Korea, this obviously wasn't taking aim toward Guam, this was in a northeasterly direction, it went over Japan. Do you think that this is -- I mean, what are they trying to communicate here by not making good on that target of Guam or near Guam?
RIPLEY: Well, Japan's defense minister certainly first that perhaps because North Korea didn't point the missile south, and instead they pointed over Japan, they chose a safer flight path where the U.S. and Japanese militaries didn't shoot it down.
North Korea didn't cross that red line that President Trump laid out. But still they were able to make a very strong impact. We don't know for sure what North Korea was thinking here, because nearly 24 hours after the launch, they have yet to announce it to their own people. It wasn't on the evening news last night.
When we went out and interviewed people in the hours after the launch, we were specifically told we couldn't ask them about this missile.
KEILAR: What are you expecting North Korea to do next?
RIPLEY: Well, there are indications that there are preparations underway at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. That is in the mountainous region near China where deep underground North Korea tests nuclear weapons.
The last one they tested was just about a year ago, one week after the joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea ended. Those joint military drills are now in their second week. Pyongyang is always furious about them.
In fact, that's the reason they have given for provocations such as this, including launching missiles. We need to watch very closely. South Korea has been seeing activity at that nuclear test site.
KEILAR: Will Ripley, thank you so much for us from Pyongyang, North Korea. We appreciate it.
I want to talk about all of this now with my panel.
We look at what just happened in North Korea. We wonder how the Trump administration is going to respond, Paul Begala. But you have now former top adviser Steve Bannon two weeks ago in what may have been inadvertent candid remarks saying there is no military solution to North Korea's nuclear ambitions here.
Then after testing a nuclear missile, after North Korea does that, the president says, all options are on the table.
Should we be disinclined to believe him?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the problem with diminished credibility. That's the problem.
This is where I think it's a communications matter. The president has mishandled communications with North Korea. We have to be tough. We have to pressure the Chinese. I think he's doing both of that.
KEILAR: You have to say all options are on the table.
BEGALA: Of course, but the president should have allowed his generals to speak first and then the president speak last. You don't start at the top with these things. You can always ratchet up.
But now we're having a hard time ratcheting down. The president said originally if Kim threatens us again, we release fire and fury. He threatened us half-a-dozen times since then and have launched missiles, and we have done nothing.
Not that we should go and blow up the Korean Peninsula, OK? But that's the problem I think with this very new, inexperienced president ratcheting up too fast, too soon. And thank God, at least so far, he hasn't tried to match the historical rhetoric of the past with more today, but we will what he does when he speaks in Austin.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One note on this.
I think everybody is breathing a sigh of relief that North Korea didn't fire in the direction of Guam. But just because they fired north instead of south doesn't mean they're not threatening U.S. interests.
We do have assets in northern Japan. There are Japanese allies in the region as well as South Korea. What North Korea is demonstrating now is that we can shoot in any direction we want at any time. The threat level is still very high. I'm glad that Nikki Haley, U.N. ambassador, is speaking out against it.
But just because they fired a different direction doesn't mean the situation is getting any more stable.
BALDWIN: Kaitlan Collins, you cover the White House.
And Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, said something serious has to happen. That's somewhat amorphous, so is there clarity at this point on what President Trump and what the administration wants to do here?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, there's not.
That's what Nikki Haley said, and then today we heard from the president as he was departing the White House to go to Texas to visit these flood-ravaged areas. And they were asked, what are you going to do about North Korea? And he said, we will see, we will see.
So everyone is curious about what we will see means, and the language he's used before has been very strong, very forceful. He said his fire and fury comments weren't tough enough, and then this morning he says, we will see.
And we know the administration has mixed messages on this, because just the other day right before North Korea fired this latest missile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was saying he thought North Korea had been urging restraint lately.
And we're clearly not seeing that happen anymore.
KEILAR: The president said just a week ago in Phoenix this about Kim Jong-un. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact very much. And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Probably not.
BEGALA: And what has happened since then?
KEILAR: I mean, it's just -- North Korea -- well, that's right.
And so what he said there about the respect, it seems a little premature, or just a bet that really no one should want to take, Paul, to basically say that North Korea is respecting the U.S. The conversation -- or not the conversation -- the state-run agency called the president a headache at home and abroad after this.
BEGALA: The problem with that comment from our president is it empowers Kim then to decide, which he then did by disrespecting -- no, not disrespecting -- by threatening -- Amanda is right.
This is a really threatening act that Kim is doing. This is the problem.
By the way, I think Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has no prior experience in national security, and Rex Tillerson, who was the CEO of Exxon, they have handled this quite well, I have to say. It's the president I'm worried about.
His generals have great experience and he has a really strong team on the defense side. And on this one, I have been impressed with Ambassador Haley and Secretary Tillerson.
So, Mr. President, just let them handle it. How about you just be quiet and wear one of your goofy baseball hats and go check on my neighbors in Texas?
KEILAR: You do have neighbors in Texas.
BEGALA: And family.
KEILAR: And that's important work that everyone there is doing, including the president.
We have much more to talk about straight ahead, so stay with me, you guys.
And this is what we have ahead for us, breaking news related to the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russians. New subpoenas have been issued.
We will have that next.
KEILAR: Donald Trump in Austin where he has been visiting an emergency operations center. Let's watch, this just moments ago.
All right, we are actually queuing up this tape because this has just come into us from the pool, so we're getting that ready for you as we do send it out. We have some breaking news that we are back to now. Our "POLITICS LEAD" that CNN has exclusively learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued subpoenas to a lawyer who represented President Trump's former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, as well as Manafort's current spokesman. Let's get right to CNN's Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, what's the basis for this?
EVEN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, these subpoenas went to Melissa Laurenza and Jason Maloni. Laurenza is a lawyer with Akin Gump Law Firm here in D.C. and until recently, she was actually an attorney representing Paul Manafort. Maloni is actually the current spokesman for Manafort. This is a something of an aggressive tactic that suggests an effort to add pressure on the former Trump Campaign Chairman. Now, these subpoenas are seeking documents and testimony, but it's unclear what specific information the Mueller investigators believed that Lorenza and Maloney may have, Brianna.
KEILAR: This seems very unusual -- you called it aggressive, it is unusual to subpoena an attorney like this.
PEREZ: Right, it does raise some specific issues. It's definitely unusual and for you to subpoena a lawyer under -- for someone who is under investigation, it raises potential attorney-client privilege issues and prosecutors usually try to avoid that kind of stuff as they pursue their case. Now, Maloney is a public relations guy so he doesn't have the same attorney-client privilege protections, but I expect that Akin Gump which is a big law firm is going to use its own aggressive lawyers Brianna, to protect material that they think is protected by privilege. By the way, what's unusual here is that the Mueller investigators didn't issue a subpoena to WilmerHale. That's the law firm where the Special Counsel Robert Mueller worked until a few months ago when he became the Special Counsel. KEILAR: And we're also learning Evan, that Donald Trump Jr. -- remember he was going to or at least we thought he might be testifying in public on Capitol Hill, that didn't happen. He brokered a deal to do something privately. This is going to be a transcribed interview with Senate Investigators, is that right?
PEREZ: Right. That's right. We're learned that Donald Trump Jr. has now agreed to sit down with the staff from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, this is going to be transcribed interview and it will help the Senate Investigator ask more questions and perhaps get some answers about that June 2016 meeting where a Russian lawyer allegedly came forward with this promise of delivering opposition dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now we don't know the exact date yet of this testimony but previously we've heard from the Senators that they expected sometime in September, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. And I do want to bring our panel back in now as we cover the big news story today, which of course is Harvey. And we are awaiting some video of President Trump. He has just been at the Emergency Operations Center in Austin. As soon as we have that, we're going to bring that to you. I do want to talk to you about some of what we heard the President say in Corpus Christi. Let's listen.
All right, we don't actually have that. Here's what he said, though. He said you know, we want -- is this the -- is this the tape from the Emergency Operations? This is -- this is the sound. OK, let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We want to be looked at in five years and ten years from now as this is the way to do it. This was of epic proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. So Governor, again, thank you very much. We won't say congratulations, we don't want to do that. We don't want to congratulate you. We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I think it's obviously, Kaitlan, so important that the President is there. He's reminding people in Texas, look, we know what's going on with you. But at the same time when he greeted people outside of this facility in Corpus Christi, he commented on the crowd size. Oh, let's stand by for one moment. This the President just a short time ago at the Emergency Operations Center in Austin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I just want to say hello. Elaine Duke is here someplace. Elaine, fantastic job and Brock has been incredible. And from your standpoint (INAUDIBLE) and the whole group have been -- and Steve who I just met, Steve, the job that they've done getting along. Number one, they like each other, very important, and number two, they respect each other. And the job that all of these groups have done getting along is -- in terms of coordination has been really incredible. And everyone is talking about it. The sad thing is that this is long term. Nobody has ever seen anything this long and nobody has ever seen this much water.
The wind was pretty horrific but the water has never been seen like this to the -- to the extent. And it's maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting. We have three of our great -- four of our great Congressmen right here and we want to appreciate -- we really appreciate you being here. We're going to be working with Congress on helping out the state of Texas. It's going to be a costly proposition because, again, probably Ted Cruz is here, and Senator, thank you very much, Senator Corwin, and we'll be working with these characters over here, and I think we'll come through with the really -- you know, with right solution.
[16:50:36] But probably there's never been anything so expensive in our country's history, there's never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity as what we've witnessed with Harvey. Sounds like such an innocent name Ben, right, but it's not innocent, it's not innocent. I also want to thank my people. Ben Carson, as you know, is here from HUD and Linda McMahon is from small business. And I say this is not small business, Linda, this is big business. When you add it all up, you'll be giving away many, many millions of dollars to help people out. And Tom Price, as you know, is Dr. Tom Price --- you have your people in the field, Tom? In fact, you may say a couple of words and I'll ask Linda and I'll ask Ben, and then I think we get on to (INAUDIBLE) and to Brock and everybody. Tom?
TOM PRICE, HEALTH, AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Thanks, Mr. President. As you said, this is a historic proportion storm and flood. The challenge that we have obviously is to get resources to individuals that are -- that are stranded right now, make certain that the evacuees have a place to go. From an HHS standpoint, our responsibilities are medical and veterinary and mortuary. That would be all of the above. The challenge that we have in the long term is that most individuals who suffer from these -- suffer from not being able to get the medical care that they need after the -- after the -- when the sun comes out.
So I'm trying to make certain that we've got pharmacies staffed, make certain that the dialysis units are up, make certain that folks are getting electricity to their homes so that oxygen concentrators, the like are able to be -- able to be utilized. And then just chronic disease, make certain that folks can get to their doctor when they are in their hometown and (INAUDIBLE). So, but we're stuffed up and ready to go. We've got four federal medical stations, that two that are up and running. And two the way and we've got another four or five that are stationed beyond -- after that depending on where folks needs --
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you, Tom. Linda?
LINDA MCMAHON, SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR: Well, SBA has it's -- has disaster relief office in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. We have 900 people there permanently. We have 600 available in the search. They're be -- they're already coming in. I actually did get a note on the plane from Corpus that we we've made the first home loan approval from this disaster. So I was glad that we're already up and running. We'll be making home loans, business loans. We'll be making loans for those folks who have lost income and also the opportunity to replace plant, property and equipment and inventories. So we're up ready to go.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. And Ben Carson from HUD.
BEN CARSON, HOUSING, AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your leadership and Mrs. First Lady also. The compassion permeates everything that's been done. It's been great working with everybody. And, governor, one of the people that I admire the most with what you've been doing. Brock is doing a fantastic job and Elaine, everybody that we've been working with is fantastic. And what we've been trying to do is make sure that we go from the phase of rescue and reaction to the phase of recovery and a smooth transition. We're also going to be assisting the state and local governments in reallocation of federal assets to disaster relief, looking at granting immediate foreclosure relief.
Insurance, mortgage insurance, as well as insurance for rehabilitation through the Section 203K program, Section 108 Loan guarantees for infrastructure, for economic development, and for a host of things and also disseminating information which is so critical. You know, the masses frequently become confused. We're working very hard to get rid of some of the regulatory burdens so that we can get things done very quickly. Linda and I will be working on that to make sure that we get what we need to the people. And I want everybody to know that we're in this for the long run. We know that once the water recedes, that's where our work really begins and we're going to be at it until we finish the job.
[16:55:00] TRUMP: Thank you very, very much. I appreciate it. So, Linda, why don't you take over along with Brock and we'll get through some of the different things that we're going to be doing.
BROCK LONG, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: Thank you, Sir. You know, we've been going at this --- this would be our first swing now from Harvey. About 200,000 hours of time has been generated just in a few of the emergency operations across the city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right. That is the emergency operations center there in Austin where President Trump has just been speaking with members of his cabinet. There are also a number of Congressmen from Texas there, Senators from Texas and, of course, the FEMA administrator who was speaking there. Kaitlan, as you look at this, and we see Donald Trump throughout the day, this is -- it's so important the work that he does here and what his administration does in what is just a catastrophe in Texas, and we're still looking at Harvey moving into Louisiana. Do you get the sense that the administration understands that, that this this is just one point in time and yet the real test is ahead of the President here? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, I do think they realize that and I think the administration realizes this is a big chance for them to get this right. And they've really tried to be on top of this ever since when it was just barreling toward Texas on Thursday and Friday. And we've seen that because these things can be career-defining for the -- for a presidency. Just as we saw 12 summers ago with George W. Bush and the way they handled Hurricane Katrina. And I think the Trump administration has realized that and that they're going to be judged off the way they handle this recovery and the response to this hurricane. And that's why we've seen it. That's why the President wanted to go there as soon as today and avoid the areas that were hardest hit and instead chose somewhere like Corpus Christi which wasn't as hit as hard. And that's why he's going to Louisiana on Saturday.
KEILAR: And at the risk of interjecting politics into this, because there's -- we're talking about a number of people, millions of people who are really, Amanda, just trying to get through the hour at this point in time. But as you're watching what's happening there in this response so far, what's your assessment of the administration at this point in time in delivering for folks who need help?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in that press conference, I was struck by the way that Secretary Price mentioned the mortuary needs that will be needed later. I don't mean this as a knock to President Trump, but this is a man who sold luxury all his life. This is probably his first very real exposure to suffering and strife. He has to make a dedicated, concentrated, sustained effort to keep the eye on Texas. The White House is going to try to pivot to tax reform tomorrow. I think he is going to have to juggle a lot of balls in the air, but you must commit to a sustained focus on Houston. On the campaign trail, he talked about making America great again, rebuilding airports like La Guardia. You need to start with making Houston and their surrounding area great again first.
KEILAR: And Paul, this is your hometown. Your family -- when we talk about folks who are getting through the hour, we're talking about your family members.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, we're talking about -- but my -- some of them were flooded, trapped in their homes right now. Safely --- they're OK, the family, the kids, the pets are OK, but it's a heartbreak. And what I -- Jeff Zeleny started this hour by talking about empathy. That's, to me, the soul of morality. Every major religion says think about the other person, right? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I want to see more of that. Because that empathy will lead to the constancy and commitment that we need over time. So important that it goes, I want to praise him for going today and not interrupting in Houston but going to Corpus, going to Austin, getting a sense of it. It's so important.
What I'm hoping is it will spark some empathy, that he can feel the pain of the folks who are there. And this is his most important duty now, and if he can somehow open his heart a little to suffering as Amanda points out that he's never seen before -- none of us have seen anything like this. He's got to find a way to connect with the pain. KEILAR: Do you think he is so far from what you've seen? I mean, he clearly very focused on mostly sort of the board meeting, the folks around him, the people who are in charge of getting this done. But the people we're watching right here who are out there struggling, do you think he gets a sense of that?
BEGALA: I haven't seen it yet. I want him to. (INAUDIBLE) As he sees these stories, how can your heart not be moved? By seeing that first responder, crawling along the bayou trying to save somebody's life, citizens -- there's only been -- I think the friend of mine in Houston is helping with the recovery said, there's only like 20 boats from the city and there's hundreds of just civilians, just normal people, jumping in their bass boat, the whole redneck navy going out there and saving each other. That's the kind of thing I think if he could expose himself to it more, it would move his heart. I'm frankly stymied that he's seeing that and not commenting on it. We can get to the programs, he needs to speak from the heart and about the heart.
KEILAR: Yes. And it is so important that he is there and that it's bringing a sense to folks there that things are being done. Thank you so much, all of you. Be sure to tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Jake Tapper. I'm going to turn it over to Jim Sciutto, he's in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, immeasurable devastation.