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Gulf Coast Braces for Storm; Trump Rebukes Military; Economy Takes Hit from Hurricanes; New Obamacare Change. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:15] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITCS. I'm John King Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Harvey, Irma, Maria and now Nate. Another big storm is wreaking havoc, and those one on a path for the Gulf Coast. One big hurricane impact we're coming to grips with, the U.S. economy lost jobs in September, ending a seven-year streak of monthly gains.


GARY COHN, CHIEF ECOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: That's the effect of the hurricane. We're very confident, though, jobs are coming back. And if you really look through the facts of this report, there's some phenomenally good data in this report.


KING: Plus, when you invite special guests to dinner, is shaming them on your menu. The commander in chief takes a public swipe at generals, admirals, heroes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I also expect to you provide me with a broad range of military options when needed at a much faster pace.


KING: And as investigators try to piece together the motive for the Las Vegas massacre, there is a bipartisan push here in Washington to ban the device the killer used to make his rifles more deadly.


REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: This might be a small, but I think a very important step order towards moving to a more rational conversation about sensible gun policy in this country.


KING: We begin with another dangerous storm headed to the United States and it might be a hurricane when it's expected to make landfall tomorrow night. Tropical Storm Nate already blamed for the deaths of 21 people in Central America. And if you're on the Gulf Coast of the United States right now, New Orleans, surrounding areas, get ready, Nate's coming.

Chad Myers is at the CNN Severe Weather Center.

Chad, where, when and the big question, how strong?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METERORLOGIST: Tomorrow night, very, very near Louisiana, probably Plaquemine's Parish, and 80 miles per hour. Now, all that slightly subject to change. Probably 10 percent one way or the other. Right now it's a 50 mile per hour storm. Forecast to be an 80 mile per hour storm when it does make landfall late into the early morning hours of Sunday morning. But likely landfall, if you want to call it that, Plaquemine's Parish, a very end, end, end of the Mississippi River somewhere around 8:00 tomorrow night.

It will gain strength, though, because it's going into the Gulf of Mexico. A lot like we have the cone left or right for accuracy. You can also have a speed for accuracy too. A plus or minus. So you could say 80 miles per hour plus or minus 10. So it could be 70 or 90. And that's a big difference when it comes to damage, when it comes to storm surge, when it comes to the hurricane warnings that are now already posted with the 11:00 advisory.

Storm surge could be four to seven feet. Now, I understand, that is not Katrina's storm surge, which was up to 20 feet. But that is still a significant number if you are along the gulf Coast from Grand Isle all the way over towards Biloxi or even Mobile Bay. This is where the storm is going. This is where the surge is going.

And then, John, even when it makes its way on land, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia could have wind gusts to 70. With those old trees that are down there, that will certainly bring down power lines. Not probably like we saw in Irma or Maria or Harvey. But 70 mile per hour, breaking branches, bringing down power lines, could be a million people without power by the time this thing finally, finally ends. And that will end finally across parts of Washington, D.C. with a 25 mile per hour wind gust Sunday afternoon into Monday.

So this is still going to make a lot of rainfall. It's going to make wind damage. And if this does become a 90 mile per hour storm, it's only 36 hours away. Better be ready.

KING: Better be ready. Good advice from Chad Myers.

Chad, we'll keep in touch.

Let's shift now to a very extraordinary moments from the commander in chief. President Trump invites the military brass to dinner, then calls in the cameras and publicly insults them. His complaint? He wants the generals and the admirals to deliver options at quote, a much faster pace. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Moving forward, I also expect you to provide me with a brought range of military options when need at a much faster pace. I know that government bureaucracy is slow, but I am depending on you to overcome the obstacles of bureaucracy.


KING: The stunning rebuke of men, including his secretary of defense, and women who spent their adult lives in military service.

With m now for some insight, CNN military diplomatic analysts and retired admiral, Rear admiral John Kirby.

Admiral, just -- you spent your entire career in uniform. As a civilian, it seems to me if you have issues with the general, you want to talk to them privately, that's one thing. But to do this in public struck me, as a civilian, as pretty untoward by the president.

You've worked with many of these commanders. How does this translate to the men and women who wear the uniform?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes I had to think, it must have been a gut punch to these guys to be so publicly rebuked by the commander in chief. You don't get to be an admiral or general without being sensitive to the trust and confidence of your superiors and making sure that you're earning that. And to have him do that in front of the cameras, I'm sure did not sit very well with them.

I know almost all of them and have served at some point or another on staffs with most of them and I can tell you, none of them hue to bureaucracy. They are not afraid to adequately and quickly plan and provide options. So I think we also need to challenge the assumptions that the president's complaint is even -- even has merit. But, certainly, this was not a good moment for him with his top military leaders.

[12:05:17] KING: Why then? And what do the military leaders do now that the president has called them out publicly?

KIRBY: Well, so I think the why -- it looks like he was reading. So somebody prepared that for him. And they probably wanted to make him look presidential, like he was in charge, as if these guys needed to be reminded who the commander in chief was. What they do now, I suspect many of them were scratching their heads and asking Secretary Mattis, you know, does this regard my service? Does this regard my command? Is there something I'm not doing fast enough? And they're probably asking themselves those questions. And, frankly, I'll bet you Secretary Mattis is maybe asking himself the same question. But I suspect that at the very least they'll go back and look at what they're doing planning wise and making sure that they're answering all bells.

KING: Admiral Kirby, appreciate your insight.

KIRBY: You bet.

KING: And, as always, appreciate your service.

KIRBY: Thank you.

KING: Something we didn't hear the president quite (ph) say publically there.

That wasn't the only eye-popping remark last night at that meeting. Listen here.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys know what this represents? (INAUDIBLE) Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

REPORTER: What's the storm?

TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.

REPORTER: What storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You'll find out.


KING: We'll find out. Is that more talk -- tough talk aimed at North Korea? Is it a message to Iran? We don't know what the president means, or if he's just being provocative because he finds it amusing. We do know the president is poised to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. A move that would give Congress 60 days to determine a path forward. A move that clearly some members of his team don't agree with.

Let's discuss that and more. With us to share their reporting and their insights, Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post," "The Wall Street Journal's" Michael Bender, Perry Bacon of FiveThirtyEight and "Politico's" Eliana Johnson.

I just want to start first with the -- the president has every right to have issues with people who work for him. He's the boss. Whether you agree or disagree with the boss, the boss has every right to say, I need you to do this better, I need you to do this faster. But why would you publically bring in people who have decades of service, many of whom have fought in combat, risked their lives, they command people who risk their lives to keep us safe every day. Why did he do that publically?

MIHCAEL BENDER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, you do that publicly, John, if you think that your message isn't getting through. I understand what General Kirby here is saying, that these are men who have earned their spots at that table. But this president came into office with a mandate to shake things up and the guys that are -- the men and women sitting around that table are from -- you know, came of age and got those spots through the traditional established ways to do that. And sort of will hue more closely of the traditional lines of how to this about this. I think the president is frustrated with -- that a lot of these folks don't quite understand what his make America first motto means. And that's not the first -- it's extraordinary to see that in public, yes, but he's talked to those generals that way in private before. I think that's what has led -- that's what led to a lot of the frustration from Rex Tillerson. And you pull those guys in there if you think your point is not being made.

KAROURN DEMIRJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it also just kind of shows who's boss when that has been questioned in the last few weeks. I mean you have seen Mattis this week go to Congress and say, I think the Iran deal is OK. I mean that is directly contradicting the president.

You saw the report about Tillerson Clearly there's frustration there. That began last week, over the weekend, in a public setting when they president undercut his discussions -- attempts to broker a dialogue with North Korea. And so you basically have this question of, you know, the president trying to reassert himself when his authority has been questioned because people are saying you're not actually doing this in a fashion that is commensurate with what is realistic and prudent on the world stage. And then we can trace that back even to -- I mean talk about military options, right, when he was talking about fire and fury with North Korea, when the military leaders had to scramble to kind of bolster that message in the following weeks.

But the president moves fast on Twitter and expects there to be things to back him up there that aren't necessarily there when his cabinet doesn't agree with him.

ELIANA JOHNSON, "POLITICO": I have to say, I think we may be reading a little too much into it in that, do I think it's appropriate for him to air those he disagreements publicly? No, but inappropriate remarks have -- are sort of part and parcel of the trump presidency.

You know, Trump recertified in Iran deal in April and he recertified it in July. He didn't want to do it either time, but in July he was extremely frustrated when he was presented with a binary decision by his state of secretary, his secretary of defense, and his national security adviser. Two of those guys were part of the military brass or former military brass and he was told his options were to certify or to decertify. And he told them, in no uncertain terms, I want more options. I don't want to be given a binary choice.

And I do think his remarks there were an exhibit of his frustration at certain points of being forced into a corner by his advisers and wanting to have an array of options that give him a little bit more flexibility.

[12:10:01] KING: Can you get flexibility? I guess I get your point and especially your point about -- a lot of us just need to leave the old rules behind. President Trump is different. We learned that in the campaign. We've learned it in the eight months of the presidency. You know some people still think, that's not presidential, that's not the way Obama would have done it or Bush would have done it or Clinton would have done it. Forget that. I think there should be a special place for the people who have shed

blood for us and who have risked their lives for us. The president clearly, he's the commander in chief, he's allowed to think otherwise. But is that -- is it this, I'm in charge, I want to remind you I'm in charge, or is it, you know, where's this plan -- where's this magical plan to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and to give up its missile program? You must have one.

PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I think, John, you're right. President Obama disagreed with the generals about Afghanistan at times He did not say this in public the way Trump just did yesterday. I agree with that.

But in practice, there are policies differences. On the transgender ban, for example, where -- you know, where the issue where it appears Mattis is in some ways kind of slow walking the president on this. On Iran, and it looks like there's a disagreement with the staff.

I think that what we're really talking about here I think is core policy differences between the kind of establishment generals who sort of have John McCain like foreign policy views, and Donald Trump, who does not. So I think that's where I saw the comment is less, should he have said it in public, maybe not was it overly rude? Probably. But I think we are capturing -- there is a sense like when Bob Corker said there's chaos and these two people are saving us for it, that did seem like the generals were telling Bob Corker, we are saving the country. And I can see Trump being mad about that.

KING: It's a key point, because there's no question the outside voices the president talked to tell him they worry that he's become captive to the establishment, captive to the views of Tillerson and even to the military establishment. And they think that he -- he should stir it up. He should demand more from them. He should (INAUDBILE).

Let's get to the specifics of the Iran deal. You have a great story in "The Post" today. You were out ahead of this a week or so ago saying that the president was going to do this. And it's not a full, rip it up. Let's listen to the president now and then I need the two of you to help me explain where we go from here.

The president, as you mentioned, twice he has said, OK, I will recertify. This time, we are now told by sources, he's going to back out to a degree.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime supports terrorism and export violence bloodshed, and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions.


KING: It's interesting language in the sense that when the Obama administration entered into the deal, it was pretty clear that this is about the nuclear ambitions. Yes, Iran is a bad actor with Hezbollah. Yes, Iran is exporting terrorism. This agreement is about one thing, not about the other stuff. The president's putting it all together here saying, this is a bad actor. I don't like this deal.

JOHNSON: I think there's been a lot of misunderstanding and a little bit of misreporting on what's actually happening here. I did not interpret General Mattis' comments as having a fundamental disagreement with what the president's doing. He got a unanimous recommendation from his national security team, including Rex Tillerson, who has the most fundamental disagreements with the president, to decertify this deal.

The path he's taking is a way of having his cake and eating it too. He's not to decertify, but he is not going to pressure Congress to rip up this deal by re-imposing sanctions. So it is a way of expressing his displeasure, rolling out a broader strategy of tougher action towards Iran, particularly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but also, without sort of triggering the international chaos that they fear would ensue if they actually ripped up the deal.

I interpreted Mattis' remark as getting out ahead of what he's going to do and reassuring the American people and the Congress, we are staying in this deal, which the administration does want to do.

KING: That would be a nuanced approach that we don't often see. We don't often see --

JOHNSON: I do think they're trying to strike a middle ground on this.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, but they're doing it with only Republicans right now, and that's the problem. So basically I mean the way the Iran deal has always moved through Congress is through weird vote conglomerations. And you're still going to need 60 votes to get this through, right?

JOHNSON: To get what through? I --

DEMIRJIAN: Well, to get any sort of legislation through that's actually going to change the terms of how we deal with Iran.

JOHNSON: But that's not true, though.

DEMIRJIAN: This is a multilateral pact. First of all this is a multilateral pact, right? So the question is not if it sticks together, if the United States changes its term at all, the decision is not ours alone about whether the deal hangs together or not. That depends on how Iran interprets it. It depends on how Europeans interpret it. That's why there's discussions happening beyond just the White House and Capitol Hill to try to see what that actually affects.

The signal that Mattis sent was not so much to say, you know, I think we're going to end up ripping up the deal. He can kind of have his cake and eat it too in that sense, but he was contradicting the public message that trump is giving, which is to say, the deal is an embarrassment at the U.N., to trash it at every turn. At the same time as he may be working, you know, to create some kind of compromise. And one of the key things -- I mean you hear this refrain, (INAUDDILE)

the way the president phrased it, the way Tom Cotton as phrased it, the way rank and file members of the GOP have phrased it, that they think that the deal basically puts -- Cory Gardner put it to me yesterday as a patient pathway to a nuclear bomb. That basically they set it up so that there would be a delay. After a decade, Iran could get back on a nuclear track. And Republicans are really upset about that.

And one of the main things that this arrangement is trying to address, what will happen the next step after we have the decertification, is addressing that concern. And so basically you have all of these plans that are being laid out of ways that they can actually address this again to be able to target certain things that the Republicans find objectionable, but you don't have the Democrats in on the discussion.

[12:15:19] So there's still a long way to go in that 60 day period And then even after that, there is, how is Tehran going to respond, how is Europe going to respond, and can everybody stay cohesively together. It's fine if Trump's team is cohesively together right now, but that's not the entire equation quite yet.

KING: Maybe that's the calm before the storm the president was alluding to. Maybe it's something else Maybe we don't know.

Let's hold the conversation for a minute.

I just want to tell a much more sad story right now. This just in to CNN The Department of Defense now releasing the names just a short time ago of those three American soldiers, all U.S. special forces, who were killed earlier this week in Niger. For now, no pictures of the three men from the Pentagon, just their names.

Thirty-five-year-old Staff sergeant Ryan C. Black from Washington state, 39-year-old Staff Sergeant Jeremiah W. Johnson from Ohio, 29- year-old Staff sergeant Dustin M. Wright from Georgia. Three green berets deployed from Ft. Bragg, ,North Carolina, killed Wednesday when their patrol came under fire. The Pentagon still investigating what happened.

We'll be right back.


[12:20:30] KING: Welcome back.

A tough jobs report today for a president who keeps promising a jobs bonanza. The government's monthly employment report showed the economy going backwards. The first month to month loss of jobs in seven years. That's not good by many means. But don't overreact just yet.

Senior Money correspondent Christine Romans is here to tell us the hurricanes and Harvey and Irma big factors for what economists believe is just a one month detour.


jobs report all about hurricanes. Look at that, the first job loss in a long, long time, 33,000 jobs lost in the month. A sharp reversal from the steady job creation we have been seeing. Eleven million people with jobs live in those counties in Texas and Florida where there was a disaster declared because of the hurricanes.

And I can show you exactly where the jobs were lost. Food services, bars and restaurants, hourly wage people who lost their jobs and will not get those earnings back. You did see health care still grow. That is a continuing strength in the economy. But manufacturing slowed a little bit. Again, that is probably because of those hurricanes.

Let me show you the unemployment rate because this tells another story, 4.2 percent here, the lowest since February 2001. That shows you that the job market is still churning along, driving down that unemployment rate. But, clearly, this was a story of hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, stopping job creation in two very important states. It's likely that later on you'll start to see jobs created by the rebuilding that will have to happen. But, for right now, you had a stall in job creation, but still a decline in the unemployment rate.


KING: Christine Romans, thanks. We'll look at next month's report and make sure this is just a one month blip.

Let's turn now to some breaking news out of the White House. Broke just last hour. It's a big win for the president's conservative base. New rules altering a key feature of Obamacare, destined to end up now in a court challenge.

The big shift? The Trump administration severely weakening an Affordable Care Act provision requiring companies to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Now, employers that object based on sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions won't have to pay for contraceptives women now get for free. The impact could be huge. The rule saved 55 million women from paying out of pocket for birth control. Health industry experts say it's too soon to figure out just now how many will have to pay.

A big promise from the president here. Something that social conservative groups, other conservatives that just don't think the government should be telling people this is what you should do. No doubt we're going to end up in court, but what is the significance of the president deciding to jump pinto this fray?

BACON: This is another example of, a, of how they're changing how Obamacare is (INNAUDIBLE). You know, we covered how they can't repeal it, but there's been a lot of changes made in these kinds of regulations of Obamacare is full of regulations as well. So that's the big -- and the other thing this is sort of an obviously -- this is probably something Marco Rubio would do too. This is kind of a conservative to Democrat change. And a lot of conservative groups oppose this mandate the entire time big fight in 2011 about how it should work. Even some catholic groups oppose it. Remember, some liberal catholic groups opposed it as well. This has not been necessarily a popular policy and I'm not surprised Trump reversed it.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, I agree with you on all those points, except for it's not one of those things that's absolutely hard and fast for the GOP even. I think that if you're talking about the abortion issue, that can get you basically the whole GOP. But you -- this issue loses you people like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. They are not on board with limiting access to birth control. They just think it's a backwards step. So there's parts of the GOP that this doesn't actually placate or please at all. But, you're right, it's red meat to the base, basically, and it's an easy move that he can make by himself.

BENDER: And the base that I don't think Trump has lost any of the base, but he did raise some questions within the social and religious conservative in the wake of Alabama when he decided to weigh in on that race that Roy Moore ended up winning. He took the opposite side of that. That raised questions within that group. The folks that were unhappy about Trump's decision to try to influence that race certainly will be happy by the decision out of the White House today.

JOHNSON: I have to say, I was surprised during the campaign how enthusiastic social conservatives were after grappling with whether to support Donald Trump, who was the furthest thing from a social conservative in the terms of the way he's lived his life. But they got on board with him. They endorsed him enthusiastically. And they have been some of the most loyal backers of this president, particularly after he chose Mike Pence as vice president.

And I continue to be surprised how much Trump has delivered to him in the presidency. There are many promises he has not kept, but the transgender ban, which was vocally backed not by that many people in the Republican Party, but it was something that social conservatives had pressed for, Tony Perkins, among others, for a long time. This is one strand of the Trump presidency that somebody who has a background in the conservative movement, I continue to be surprised by it.

[12:25:11] KING: Especially if you look at the history, if you go back to the George W. Bush, even late in the Ronald Reagan administration and especially the H.W. Bush administration, a lot of social conservatives said, they keep telling us, they keep promising us things to get our votes and they don't follow-through. In this case you're right --

JOHNSON: Yes, and it's a strand of the movement I would say, that is declining in size and declining in influence. So this is something that I'm surprised by.

KING: And let's go back -- let's remember the history here. This was in Obamacare. There was a Supreme Court case called Hobby Lobby, essentially a challenges -- there were other challenges in the court as well, as to whether the government could tell organizations that say, we have a religious or some moral, you know, conviction that says we can't do this. We can't pay for this. We can't, in good conscious, pay for this. Listen, this is President Obama back when that was being litigated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company, not the hospital, not the charity, will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive carefree of charge without copays and without hassles.


KING: That was President Obama's effort to try to strike the compromise, that if you are the religious organization, the company with this moral conviction, you don't have to do it, but your insurance company does. They have to provide this service.

Now, the new regulations put out by the Trump administration effective immediately today, and, again, I'm sure there will be a court case filed by the time we're done with this conversation, but the new regulations say those insurance companies now, this is the key test of what is the impact. Now the insurance companies, the businesses, can go look again and say, do we want -- do we want to opt out? Do we want to say, no, this is now going to come out of your pocket. Not a free service.

JOHNSON: And I think you heard a lot of Republicans and conservatives say, it's very difficult to distinguish between the employer and their insurance plan. And by enforcing the employers to carry insurance plans to offer contraceptives was sort of, you know, it was the same difference essentially. And so there were, you know, wild objections to that. And I think it was perhaps not an effective fight for the Obama administration to pick in terms of the optics of it overall. And I'm not surprised I guess that the trump administration (INNAUDIBLE) at something, as Perry said, that any Republican administration would have done.

KING: And a reminder, I would say that, ,you know, not just on this issue, but on any issues, yes they could not repeal and replace Obamacare. That's not going to happen this year. But there are things the administration can do, here on the subject of contraceptives, in other areas of the Affordable Care Act as well, they have regulatory powers, , administrative powers, to roll things back --

BACON: And they are doing those things.

KING: Yes. Right. And we'll see. I think much more is going to come from this.

When we come back, in Las Vegas, they're still trying to determine the motive of the shooter who unleashed a massacre on that city.

Back here in Washington, a device the shooter used to modify his guns. Republicans and Democrats agree that device should be banned. But should they pass a new law or just a new rule?