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Escalating Feud between Trump and Corker; White House Demands Threaten Dreamers Deal; Bannon Looks at 2018 Primaries; Trump: "Policy Didn't Work" On North Korea For 25 Years; VP Pence Leaves NFL Game After Anthem Protest. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:23] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. John Berman has the day off.

This morning, President Trump is locked in a blistering back and forth with a high-profile Republican lawmaker. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is his target. And Corker is not holding back at all, telling "The New York Times" late last night that President Trump is treating his office, quote, like a reality show, and that the president's threats against other countries could put the U.S, in Corker's words, on the path to World War III.

It is a stunning public spat escalating after the president went after Corker on Sunday on Twitter. The president wrote that Corker only decided not to seek re-election after the president refused to endorse him. Well, Corker responded that the White House has been an adult day care center. And we should note that Corker's spokesperson tells CNN, the president's claims that he was not going to endorse Corker, well, they're not true. That, in fact, the president urged Corker to run again and offered his endorsement.

Meantime, the administration just released a list of immigration priorities in order to try to strike a deal with Democrats to protect so-called dreamers. Topping that list, funding for a border wall on the southern border and a crackdown on sanctuary cities. More on that in just a moment.

But let's go to the public spat between two Republicans. Our Joe Jones is at the White House with more on this feud.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, it's really extraordinary. A prominent senator from the president's own party, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, no doubt, shortly after announcing he will not seek re-election, seemingly taking off the gloves in this public spat with the president of the United States.

And the quotes in that "New York Times" interview, some of them just extraordinary. You read the headline where he said the president could put the U.S. on the path to World War II. But here are a few others. He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation. He says, I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him. Also calling, of course, the president -- saying he treats the White House essentially like a reality show.

The significance of this, of course, is that you have a senator leaving Capitol Hill who has been a very close ally of the president. Some say he's talked to the president more than any other United States senator. Now going after the president on some of the very same issue that people on Capitol Hill concern themselves the most about this administration. The notion that the president spouts off on Twitter, causes problems with allies and creates real concerns overseas in foreign relations and foreign affairs.

This is a very big deal, Poppy.

HARLOW: A very big deal to say the least.

Joe Johns at the White House with that reporting. Thank you very much.

We're going to get to more of that with our panel in just a minute. But, meantime, there are new signs this morning the deal or an attempted deal to protect hundreds of thousands of so calls dreamers in this country could derail. Democratic leaders now firing back at this wish list, this priority list on immigration from the White House saying their demands fail to, quote, represent any attempt at compromise.

Our Sunlen Serfaty is on The Hill with more.

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, they were the ones who were in the room about a month ago, right, saying that they, you know, could come up with compromises with the president, deals. They're saying no go looking at this list from the White House.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy, it was only a month ago where you heard that openness and optimism coming from Democratic leaders that they would be able to get a deal with President Trump to extend DACA protection in exchange for tougher border security. But all of that seems certainly in limbo this morning because the White House has put out now this long list of legislative priorities that really does read like a laundry list of get tough immigration policies, many of which are really nonstarters with many Democrats up here on Capitol Hill, including funding and constructing a border wall, cracking down on sanctuary cities, greater restrictions on legal immigration and cracking down on unaccompanied minors entering into the U.S., among many, many other items.

Now, of course, this is a deal breaker for many Democrats and we've really already seen that reflected in their response to this list. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi coming out with a statement overnight reading, in part, quote, we told the president at our meeting that we were open to responsible border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal fails to represent any attempts at compromise. The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.

[09:05:25] Now, this list by the White House and certainly administration officials last night reflected in a conference call they held with reporters that as of now there's no veto threat on the table for any specific part of this list. But, of course, it can be read as potentially a starting point for negotiations, but certainly a very firm, very aggressive starting point. Certainly we believe that this has made many Democrats, at least initially, back farther away from the negotiating table.


HARLOW: Indeed. And there's a timeline on this. It matters for hundreds of thousands of dreamers in this country right now.

Sunlen, thank you for the reporting on The Hill.

Joining me to discuss all of the headlines this Monday, CNN political commentators Errol Louis and Matt Lewis, and "Washington Post" political reporter Eugene Scott.

Gentlemen, nice to have you.

Matt Lewis, to you first.

Senator Corker made very clear that he's not just speaking for himself, right? His words, the, quote, vast majority of our caucus, who, quote, understand what we're dealing with here. Is this a sort of a bit bitter Republican lawmaker on his way out, or is this a pivotal moment for the party and someone who is speaking for many more than just himself?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he is liberated, to be frank, because he doesn't have political consideration. So I don't know if Bob Corker would be this honest, this forthcoming. Of course, it wouldn't even be happening if he was running for re- election. That's what the spat was over.

Having said that, I certainly think that Bob Corker is now saying the things that most Republican senators actually believe. At least a lot of them actually believe. And so, you know, this has been a calculation Republicans have had to make all along, does Donald Trump create more opportunities or more problems. And there was always a hope that you could maybe repeal Obamacare, you know, do tax reform --


LEWIS: Put up with Donald Trump, placate him, get some of the things you want, but, you know, it's looking more and more like that was a pipe dream, like it's a net negative if you're a Republican.

HARLOW: And, by the way, he's calling out Democrats, Chuck Schumer, on health care. He's not calling his Republican, you know, colleagues anymore.

Errol Louis, one of the other things that Corker said in this extraordinary -- and I would urge everyone to read it -- "New York Times" interview last night is that he has, in several instances according to Corker, hurt negotiations, hurt us as it related to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out.

He's going to be -- Corker's going to be pivotal for a vote the president will want on tax reform. He is pivotal chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on all things Iran, which the president has indicated he'll now kick that nuclear deal back to Congress. Talk about how this -- why does this fight matter to the American people in terms of policy?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it certainly matters from the point of view of policy because you've got -- in addition to the things you just listed, approval of future ambassadors. The overall conduct of American foreign policy, treaties, trade deals, all of that's going to land on the chairman's desk. So as chair of the Foreign Relation Relations Committee, he's going to have a lot to say about a lot of those things. And we certainly need to care about that.

And then there's this very troubling question about the basic fitness. When he says adult day care, when he says World War III, these are -- these are well -- we would be well advised to take this stuff seriously, but he's saying that it's a chaotic White House, that people have to contain the president and that this can have an effect on foreign policy, on our relationship with our allies and ultimately with the military posture of the United States. It's incredibly serious.

HARLOW: So you -- I mean it just makes you wonder what -- what was in the president's mind fighting with him? I mean why spark it? And Corker said some things that --

LOUIS: Well, I think, you know, in fairness --

HARLOW: Corker said some things to set the president off, Matt Lewis.

LEWIS: That's what I was going to say, in fairness to Trump, Bob Corker talking about Tillerson, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson --


LEWIS: Said, we need Tillerson in there because -- along with, you know, Kelly and Mattis, they are preventing the chaos.


LEWIS: In other words, Donald Trump is a child.

HARLOW: Totally.

LEWIS: These are the men actually running things.

HARLOW: Look --

LEWIS: I think Trump -- this is a problem with Trump --

HARLOW: This didn't come out of the blue.

LEWIS: Yes, that he -- that he counter punches always.

HARLOW: It didn't come out of the blue.

Eugene, let's get you in here on DACA.

So, look, these were -- I think a month ago when the president, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer left the room, they all felt pretty good about being able to get some deal done on DACA. Now Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer feel the opposite. They look at this list of priorities from the White House and it says, funding for a border wall. It says stopping the catch and release program, for example. It says cracking down on sanctuary cities. All things the Democrats aren't going to agree to. So where does this leave -- what seems like a stalemate at this point for dreamers?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, when they left that room, they felt pretty good. But many people in Trump's base felt pretty badly. I mean they were fearful that Trump was going to put forward a deal, put forward a plan with the Democrats that did not reflect what they said they wanted during the campaign trail and that they felt like the president promised them.

[09:10:16] I think what we saw with -- what the president put forward last night is him doubling down, reminding his supporters that he is with them and that he heard them and he's going to put forward a plan that works in their best interest. But the reality is that Democratic lawmakers aren't going to budge on issues like the border wall and so this isn't really going to go anywhere in ways that Pelosi and Schumer were hoping that it would go.


SCOTT: And so I don't know where we are.

HARLOW: But Democrats are going to have to give something. We're going to have Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat, on later and talk to him about that. I mean, what are Democrats going to be willing to give here on this to try to get a deal for dreamers.

Let's move on here, Errol Louis. If you're a Republican and you're running for Congress, or you're running for re-election, I should just say, beware of a fellow Republican and that is Steve Bannon. Fascinating reporting from CNN. Goes even further from Breitbart, that every single Republican senator up for re-election in the midterms in 2018 is at risk, except for Ted Cruz. That is the reporting according to Breitbart. CNN's reporting is a source familiar with Steve Bannon says, quote, nobody is safe. Wow!

LOUIS: Yes. Well, you know, it's interesting, there was one scenario that I think a lot of people were expecting, which was that Hillary Clinton would win the election and then there would be a Republican blood bath. Well, Hillary Clinton didn't win. But the civil war does continue. There are some real serious fault lines and in his "60 Minutes" interview Steve Bannon made no secret of those things. HARLOW: Yes.

LOUIS: I mean there are people like him. There is a faction of this Republican Party who doesn't think that they've been sort of conservative enough. That they haven't been as much of a -- there hasn't been enough of a culture war. That there needs to be more. That they're just getting started. And that Trump is sort of a vehicle for that, but he's not the whole movement. So, here we are.

HARLOW: And, you know what's really interesting, Matt Lewis, is that -- I don't know if you saw that "Washington Post" piece over the weekend. But because of, in large part, President Trump's leadership of the party, and I'm not talking about Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan here in terms of leadership, I'm talking about from the White House, small dollar donations to the RNC have exploded. Looking at the numbers, the RNC has pulled in twice as much as the DNC this year so far. And 40 million of the 68 million has come from donations of $200 or less. That speaks to exactly what Steve Bannon is pushing here.

LEWIS: Yes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, you know, if you are a Republican. It's bizarre.

Steve Bannon, he is basically attempting to take over some of the responsibilities, some of the role that a Republican Party would normally do. You know, it used to be that you had the Republican, you know, the NRCC, campaign committee, the NRSC, the Senate committee, and if you were running for office, you had to really kowtow to those people, man, because they had the money, they had the means of production and you really felt like you couldn't win a Senate seat unless the establishment liked you. And what Steve Bannon is doing is flipping the script on that. But the difference is the establishment has to win everywhere. They feel like right now there's only 50 -- you know, the very closely divided Senate, they have to preserve all of their incumbents, keep all of their Mitch McConnell establishment senators in place.

If Bannon, you know, goes after all of these open -- or challenger seats, if he only flips two or three, he wins. And the message is going to be sent, you better get in line with my agenda, the Breitbart agenda, unless you want us coming for you next.

HARLOW: In the words of Rush Limbaugh last week, Bannon is, quote, taking over the role of the Republican Party. You guys will weigh in on that next, and a lot ahead, including what we saw from the vice president over the weekend. So stay with us.

Still to come, political football. NFL players take a knee. The vice president takes a stand and walks out. Why travel thousands of miles just to leave? Was any of this set up? We'll talk about that.

Also, exclusive new details about the Las Vegas shooter. In his own words he called himself the biggest video poker player in the world, bragging about gambling millions. More on his habits and his mental health ahead.

And Harvey Weinstein is out. The Hollywood mogul fired from the company he cofounded following reports of decades of sexual harassment and payouts. Now Meryl Streep weighs in.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, once again the president taking aim at any attempt at diplomacy toward North Korea. "Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea," he writes, "for 25 years, giving billions of dollars and getting nothing. Policy didn't work."

This one day after Republican Senator Bob Corker told "The New York Times" he feels the president has, quote, "hurt the United States," quote, "as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out."

My panel is back with me now. Eugene, let me begin with you. Look, this is nothing new from the president to attack North Korea and frankly his own team aiming towards diplomacy with North Korea on Twitter.

But at the same time, this comes as Bob Corker says, when he tweets things out, one could assume like this, it hurts our ability to negotiate. What do you see here?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Absolutely, and if you read the interview in the "New York Times" of Corker, he unpacked this quite a bit. He is quite concerned about there possibly being even a World War III because of how unintentional the president seems to be with how he talks about this issue on social media.

This is not the first person to push back on Trump's approach to North Korea and so it doesn't seem like it is something that is coming from a petty disagreement, it had some weight to it especially considering this is coming from someone who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee and who actually joined the Trump campaign to be an adviser in this area. It seems like Trump isn't listening the way he thinks he should.

[09:20:06] HARLOW: So Matt Lewis, if this an is an attempt to get China to do more -- you know, when it comes to, you know, sanctions on North Korea, an attempt to get Kim Jong-un to the table in some respect, Richard Haas, the president of the Foreign Relations Committee, said it will have the opposite effect of that.

And when asked why he went on to explain, well, look, this is going to make North Korea feel like it is more at threat of an attack or at least regime change, and they see what happened in Libya with Gadhafi and in Iraq and in Ukraine if you don't have nuclear to protect yourself. Is this a miscalculation by the president in terms of strategy?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think strategy -- look, he has a point in the tweet. We've been trying diplomatically to deal with North Korea for 25 years and it obviously has not work so Donald Trump did inherit this very difficult situation. Having said that, I don't -- the strategy of negotiating sort of playing good cop and bad cop as Bob Corker called it, he's like trying to be Mel Gibson in "Lethal Weapon." He is unhinged. We have no idea what he might do.

I don't think that is a smart strategy. Maybe you could argue, look, we may have to eventually have a military option here on the plate. That may be. But I -- but that should be for talking to General Mattis, right, and why not let diplomacy try to work.

You know, if Rex Tillerson is negotiating, why would you cut his legs out from under him and if it doesn't work then you do what you have to do. That is understood.

HARLOW: Errol to you, switching topics, the vice president goes to the Indiana Colts-49ers game yesterday and leaves right after the national anthem because some of the 49ers players took a knee. The president applauded him for doing that twice on Twitter.

You know what else happened this weekend, there were more white supremacist rallies and horrific scenes of that in Charlottesville and there is yet to be a statement from the White House or a tweet from the president on those. What do you think?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, that very fact kind of makes the very point behind some of the concern that led the players to kneel in the first place. It seems pretty clear from all of the reporting that we have seen in statements from the White House and telling the pool reporter, don't bother coming into the stadium, the vice president won't stay very long.

That this was a prearranged stunt and they knew they would be players kneeling and the vice president -- and he went out of his way to be there so that he could walk out. There is some indication that the White House thought or hoped perhaps that a lot of other people in the stadium would walk out with him. That of course didn't happen.

So, what we've got here, it is extraordinary to me that the White House is deliberately fermenting division. They certainly have never addressed any of the underlying issues that led to this wave of protest. It is not about the flag. It is not about the anthem or respect for the game.

It is a sign of concern about some very important issues that are not being addressed by this White House at all and so what we've got is a White House trying to divide the country into thinking some people don't like the anthem and some people don't like the military as opposed to the underlying issue that this White House is either afraid to address or simply has decided they want to sort of turn into political talking points.

HARLOW: Eugene, what do you think? I mean, to Errol's point, this fermented division, right? This does not bring --

SCOTT: Absolutely. And it is a continuation of what we saw on the campaign trail, right? The reality is this White House appeals to the cultural anxiety of its base when some other things, other areas are not going well for it.

We had the drama with Corker and North Korea, health care and Puerto Rico last week and we saw people looking like they were jumping off the Trump train and how do you keep people on the Trump train?

The same way you kept them on there in the first place, you talk about things that appeal to them traditionalism and Americanism and make the enemies activists and people who criticize these fundamental ideas that you think are what brings America together. I think it's a distraction.

HARLOW: But Matt Lewis, when you look at the latest CNN polling on this about a week ago, it does show that the country is really divided, that about -- I think it was 47 percent don't agree with the kneeling, and 49 percent do. I mean, this country is pretty split down the middle on this.

LEWIS: Yes. I think that is probably true. Surprisingly, I thought it would have been more against the kneeling. Personally, I've quit watching the NFL. It is the happiest I've been. It is Sunday.

HARLOW: You wrote about that even before -- even before this.

LEWIS: It is amazing what you could do when you have Sundays and not watching football. So, I'm against white supremacy and kneeling during the national anthem, but I'm also against tearing the country apart. And I do agree. I think that is what this is. It looks like a stunt.

[09:25:00] I'm on Mike Pence's side, you know, substantively but this certainly looks like a stunt. And I think Trump -- clearly, he likes drama, right. I mean, I just think there is a toll that's being taken on this country when you have someone who is actually stoking drama and controversy, there is enough controversy and problems without us manufacturing them and that seems like that is what this was.

SCOTT: Especially if it is going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money and that is what this stunt actually did.

HARLOW: You could go to or read more about that. Our estimate $242,000 for those flights between L.A., Las Vegas, Indiana and back, but for Pence's team they say he would have flown to D.C. further than Indiana to spend a night and head back to L.A. the next morning. You decide for yourself.

Gentlemen, thank you. Errol, Matt, Eugene, nice to have you.

Ahead for us, we are going take you back to Las Vegas one week after that horrific massacre. New chilling details about the Las Vegas killer and his own words that could provide leads for investigators.


HARLOW: Inside the mind of a killer, CNN has the --