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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump: Puerto Rico Was In Trouble Before Hurricane; Trump: Iran Deal Is 'Single Worst Deal' Ever; Hannity: U.S. Should Work With Assange; Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 12, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:02] CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: -- to Sonoma County, Sonoma on the side of the ridge, Napa on this side of the ridge, the fires burning increasing almost 10,000 acres last night.

We just heard though, from Calistoga mayor, he said, there are no buildings burning right now in Calistoga. Now, there is complete evacuation there. So you wouldn't be able to get any input from the community. But the mayor says, we are in good shape for now. The fire is still burning. But nothing in the town is burning. Here is Santa Rosa, this area here thousands of homes completely gone.

Taking you back over toward the atlas fire here, still at 10 percent containment, that's good number. But that means 90 percent non- containment here. And this is the town itself of Napa and the fire on the ridges. This is what we are going to see for the rest of the day. I believe though that the worst weather that we're going to see, John, is going to be Saturday morning again. We're going to get a little respite now with winds going to be about 10 to 15 miles per hour. But Saturday morning they could blow again to 40. Something we certainly don't need.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Let's hope in the meantime they can make progress of containment. Chad Myers, thank you very much Chad for that update, tough news, tough news.

Back here in Washington today, President Trump slamming Puerto Rico for being in financial trouble even before the horrific devastation of Hurricane Maria. And he hinted federal help to the island may have limits. Remember, this is part of the United States of America, an American territory, American citizens, most of them still without power and running short of medicine and gasoline.

These are the words from the President of the United States this morning. Puerto Rico survived the hurricanes. Now, a financial crisis looms largely of their own making says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability, say the governor. Electric and all infrastructure was a disaster before hurricanes, Congress decide how much to spend.

Then nine minutes later, we cannot keep FEMA and the military and first responders who have been amazing under the most difficult circumstances in Puerto Rico forever, the President of the United States speaking about American citizens. The governor of Puerto Rico tweeting a short time ago, reminding readers, yes, Puerto Ricans are Americans, sad that anyone would need that reminder. But Puerto Ricans are Americans. Ricardo Jose writing, the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our nation.

Help me with this. FEMA does not stay in places forever. The military doesn't stay in places forever. Yes. You go from disaster relief to recovery to long-term infrastructure. But the callus tone from the President of the United States, it's the tone, more than what he's saying specifically, just the tone, like I'm done with this. I'm getting criticized by some people because of this so I want to move on. Why?

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: I mean, forever is one thing. It has been three weeks. People are still without power, without food, without gasoline. People are dying on the ground. So and, you know, forever is a long way off. And as you said, it is remarkable for him to say that.

FRANCO ORDONEZ, MCCLATCHY: Can you imagine him saying -- can you imagine the President saying about something like that after just three weeks about Houston, about Florida?

I mean this is really playing into the narrative that Democrats have been pushing about Donald Trump. When he didn't respond for several days after the initial impact of the hurricane, there was a bit of a radio silence. And Democrats had the opportunity politically right or wrong to kind of cast this narrative that Donald Trump does not care about Puerto Ricans, that he doesn't know about the rich history that he had problems with Puerto Ricans in New York. Right or wrong, correct or not, these were threads that were pushed and it got it in to the psyche of the American people.

KING: And the basic numbers, again, the basic numbers, the death toll 45 people, 113 people still missing, 83 percent of the island is without power, 45 percent of the island is without phone service, 36 percent of the island without water.

This is a challenge to help our brothers and sisters, our neighbors that may be far away for some people. But these are your neighbors. And this could happen to your community too. A lot of people at the White House pushed back at the San Juan mayor saying, she is taking a political opportunity here. That may well be true. That may well be true. She may see an opportunity to boost herself back home by engaging with the President of the United States.

But he helps her out. He gives sort of the opening when he tweets things like this. And the San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz tweeting today at Podest (ph), it is not that you do not get it, you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of Puerto Rico. Shame on you. Your comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a commander in chief. They seem more to come from a hater in chief.

Again, she couldn't do that whether you like or dislike her, whether you think she's part of the problem. This is not all federal response issues. There are issues on the ground as well. For the political opportunity the President put that one on the tee for her.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A 100 percent. And, you know what, she is playing his game. He is the one who designed this game by going after her and she is doing it right back. Now, I'm not sure who started it. But, you know, we deal with that with a 6- year-old. They don't have to deal with that with the mayor of an island and the President of the United States. But, you know what, I think your point is important.

[12:35:07] KING: Unless you know something I don't know, a 6-year-old is not on Twitter.

BASH: The President is right in the facts of what he's saying. FEMA doesn't stay forever. And this -- and there were very, very big problems in Puerto Rico, a major debt crisis before this hit.

But she's also saying things that are true which is, you know, FEMA can't put up flyers saying, please go to this website and log in when there is no website because there's no power. Nobody can do any of those things. And the fact of the matter is, she is a politician. She knows her constituency. Hurricane or not, it's hard to imagine that the people of Puerto Rico were huge Trump fans.

And the fact that she is getting pummeled by the President and she feels it is politically expeditious to do it right back.

KING: That he had -- any way, just forget the politics for a second. This is his job. This is his job. He's the President of the United States whether he is a man or woman, a Democrat or Republican, an Independent. This is his job.

But to the politics point of it, to the point of it, has President Trump done enough to help Puerto Rico? It's a brand new Quinnipiac University poll out. Thirty-six percent of American say, he's done enough. Fifty-five percent say, he had not done enough. Now, he'll attack that as fake news. He'll attack that as fake polling.

They asked Hispanic voters, 76 percent of Hispanic or Latino voters say the Trump administration has not done enough. Only 17 percent say it has. The pictures and those numbers about the still devastation, the slow progress of recovery, people get that.

BALL: What I don't understand is, it's so -- like you mentioned, this is his job, but it's a part of the job that he really seemed to understand.

KING: Right.

BALL: He did get good marks for the response in Texas and in Florida. He was up there, you know, looking presidential and seeming commanding in a time when everything else was going wrong in his presidency, when he can't get his agenda through Congress and, you know, North Korea and everything else is blowing up, hopefully not literally. This is something that he seemed like he actually could do and to turn this into a needless political fight.

KING: Because somebody there criticized him.

ORDONEZ: And I just want to just, you know, hammer home in the point, yes, it's only been three weeks. I mean this is a crisis that is still, you know, not understood. I mean we're talking about the tropics. Marco Rubio said it early on. He doesn't know of a place in the tropics that could go -- that good things happen after eight days without power. We had three weeks. Think about the diseases that can crop up, the water that's just floating around.

We really don't know what could happen. This could still be a very dramatic thing. The deaths are going up. I mean this is a --

KING: OK. FEMA spokesperson just tweeting this at FEMA we'll be with Puerto Rico, U.S. version out (ph), every state territory impacted by a disaster every day supporting throughout the response and recovery. There you have it again. Once again, the president's team having to clean up for things the President says or in this case tweets.

Up next, Iranian nuclear deal, President Obama considered a major global accomplishment. Republicans call it a weakness. Tomorrow, President Trump will tell us whether he will keep it or try to kill it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:42:40] KING: President Trump from the campaign to the first nine months of the administration has promised to undo much of what President Obama did during his eight years in office.

At the top of the hour, we started with big Obamacare executive order from the President of United States. The President signing a new executive order that loosens regulations on healthcare plans. One of his steps he says, especially because Congress can't act to undo big pieces of Obamacare.

A week or so ago, the administration say, they wanted to drop the birth control mandate in Obamacare plans, another big changes. Olivier mentioned in this in the top of the show, they're also cutting the advertising, the outreach, or the things they do online to encourage people, to reach out to people, to get them to sign up for Obamacare.

A number of steps there to erode debt, the President is also reversed course in several other areas, on opening up travel to Cuba. The Obama administration had a warming. The Trump administration has a retreat. Transgender military service, not done yet, but the President says, he the military to reverse course on that.

We're waiting for the details. But President is also taking steps even though he's opened to some deal on immigration including for the young dreamers, 800,000 or so people who brought in to this country by their parents when they're young. Another big one we're waiting on, we know the President wants to kill some Obamacare deals. TPP it was wounded anyway. But he backed out of that one. The Paris climate accord, the President says, no way. Tomorrow, we should get word from the President twice as President he had stayed in the Iran Nuclear Agreement. There are indications he wants to get out. This is the big question mark tomorrow. Will the President say, the United States is walking out or will he try to find a middle ground?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a terrible agreement. It shouldn't have been signed. It shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated.

The Iran deal which may be the single worst deal I've ever seen drawn by anybody.

The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States.

There's no secret, I think it was one of the most incompetently drawn deals I've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He's been consistent on how he describes it. Twice he has decided to stay. All indications are now from the White House. He wants to do something different. We expect this announcement tomorrow. But even in that interview last night with Sean Hannity, the President says, I can't tell you exactly what, and he seemed to be indicating there was still a bit of a tug of war.

[12:45:00] BASH: Yes. Although, but maybe there is. My sense is that he's sort of said and I say sort of because, you know, you never know with this administration on what he wants to do which is decertify which just as a side note here. The irony is that the certification process was put in by Congress when President Obama was in the White House and the thought was that maybe Hillary Clinton would be taking over and they wanted to hold the administration's feet to the fire by saying every 60 days you've got to come to Congress and say yes, we agree that Iran is doing its part of the deal, on this nuclear deal.

Now, that Donald Trump is in the White House, he saying, why, I don't want to put my name -- keep putting my name on this piece of paper to say that Iran is doing what the right thing when I don't even agree with this. So, they're going to use this certification process to decertify. But then more broadly say what they're hoping and what they expect the Iranians and the allies to do which is expand beyond the nuclear program to deal with human rights, to deal with the fact that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, to deal with the fact that Iran, you know, it meddles and tries to destabilize governments they say across Europe. So that is -- around the world. So that is the kind of thing I think I'm told that you're going to hear from it.

KING: All valid criticisms of the deal in the sense that it doesn't deal with support for terrorism, it doesn't deal with Iranian misbehavior, misdeeds or surround the world --

BASH: Ballistic missiles.

KING: Right. Ballistic missiles. But that was well known at the time. The Obama administration said, this is the best we can get. This is what they will negotiate. This is what they will do. This is what we can keep the Europeans on board with. One of the fascinating parts here is that, you know, Defense Secretary James Mattis was a general in the military at the time. Now, he's the defense secretary in the Trump administration. The President is going to at least walk away and pump this to Congress in the short-term. This defense secretary thinks that's a bad idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Secretary Mattis, very quick, short answer question, do you believe it's in our national security interest at the present time to remain in the JCPOA? That's a yes or no question.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, senator, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Note the long pause. Knowing the pause was not going to like the answer. Here's the chairman, the Republican chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee. Same question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it. Let's work with allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites and we should address the fundamental sunset short coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We see this on just about every issue. If you are aspect establishment, the people with titles in Washington have screwed everything up therefore we should, whenever they say, yes, we say, no. And then you're with the President walking away. If you are in the establishment, even Ed Royce is, you know, a Republican. James Mattis is a career military man saying it may not be the greatest deal in the world. But it's a deal. Let's enforce the hell out of this, the chairman say that this is the tension we see with Trump on just about every issue.

BALL: Yes. Exactly. And there are elements in his administration pushing him in different directions. And so, you know, his gut instinct is to be disruptive. But destruction has consequences when you're actually governing. It's not just a show of, yes, let's take down the establishment. They're actually foreign policy implications to that. And what we -- this is a President who would like to get the upside without the downside of disruption that's not actually possible. OLIVIER KNOX, YAHOO NEWS: But that's actually, what's he's going do tomorrow because these certification is not ending the deal. It's not --

BALL: Exactly.

KNOX: -- pulling your chance out of a deal. What he's doing, what we think he is doing tomorrow is saying, refusing to certify that the deal isn't U.S. national interest and potentially refusing to certify that Iran is complying with it. Neither of those steps by itself unravels the deal. So what he's going to do tomorrow, looks like is satisfy his base by repudiating the deal without actually pulling out of it.

The danger zone is Congress. If Congress moves to reimpose the nuclear related sanctions that were lifted in return for the limits on Iran's nuclear programs. If they reimpose those nuclear related sanctions that is a threat.

And by the way, doesn't look like it's going to happen. There are hardcore haters of the Iran deal. Republican Senator Tom out of Arkansas for example, who said publically in the last week, we don't want to reimpose the nuclear related sanctions. So I -- he actually is doing exactly that he's getting the political upside of rejecting this, reflecting his loathing for this 90 day certification without actually -- I mean it could lead to the unraveling, but it by itself doesn't end the deal.

KING: We'll watch and see what happens among the big topic of discussion.

[12:49:42] Up next, do elections have consequences, we report? You decide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We often say elections have consequences. And they do. Take for example Julian Assange in WikiLeaks. In 2010, Sean Hannity complained Assange was waging war on the United States. But then President Barack Obama was too weak to do anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Why can't he -- we got this four months ago. You know, we can stop pirating of music in Hollywood movies but we can't stop this guy from stealing a highly classified documents that put people's lives at risk?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But now strike up the band. Donald Trump is President, forget about stealing classified information and putting American lives at risk. Assange, is a truth teller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HANNITY: I interviewed Julian Assange five times. I've talked to him other times. He has said, it's not Russia, there was no collusion. They didn't come the DNC knows did not come from them. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher met with him. And he says, he has proof positive evidence that would show the Trump campaign never colluded with Russia. He just want -- is it in the best interest of the country that if he has that information that he should give it, it seems and I'm guessing here, he wants some return to be left alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:55:13] KING: Forget the question of collusion. Let's leave that to the investigators. But Donald Trump's own hand pick CIA direction had said some choice worked about Julian Assange. Everybody in the intelligence community, past administrations, present administrations say that WikiLeaks obtained the e-mails from Russia. And they say, there's no doubt about that. Don't answer the question why? But why?

BASH: It's -- I mean listen, it's classic politics. This is why America, you know, Americans look at Washington, look at the media, "Fox" included and say, oh, you know, event or issue A, is fine when the Republicans are in charge but not when the Democrats are in charge and vice-versa. Both parties do it. And Sean Hannity is in that lane of the Republican Party. He makes no bones about it.

And it's too bad. It is really too bad. But that is exactly why people who have any modicum of understanding of hypocrisy and contradiction should see that and say, give me a break.

BALL: But I actually think that's it's increasingly the way Americans see the world because we're divided in partisan tribes. The only judgment of what's happening is depending on which sides seeing it. You see people, you know, Republicans thought the exact same economy was terrible with the Democratic President and great with the Republican President even when none of the actual indicators has changed. People see the world through a partisan lens now.

KING: Silos are dangerous. Silos are dangerous. OK. We'll leave that there today. I appreciate (ph) you gentle from that. Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS, Wolf Blitzer in the chair after a quick break. Have a great day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news out of Pakistan when an American woman and Canadian husband and all three their children have bee freed from the Taliban. But moments ago we have --