Return to Transcripts main page
Bob Corker Speaks about Trump; Corker on Trump's Truth; Tampa Police Search for Killer; Bill O'Reilly Mad at God. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired October 24, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:31:48] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our Manu Raju talking to Senator Bob Corker.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You didn't run for re-election because you couldn't get his endorsement. Is that accurate?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: No, that's not accurate. And, you know, nothing that he said in his tweets today were true (INAUDIBLE). People around him, though, I would hope the staff over there would figure out ways of controlling him when they know that everything he said today was absolutely untrue.
RAJU: I mean you said he's an untruthful president.
RAJU: Are you calling the (INAUDIBLE) no question?
CORKER: Yes, no question. I mean I don't -- we grew up in our family not using the "l" world, OK, and -- but, yes, just -- I mean they're provable untruths. Provable. So, I mean, on the Iran deal, everybody knows they roll up late there, and they're working with me, interesting, right now, on tax reform. I made the deal with Toomey that, you know, has allowed that to go forward. Obviously, I want to make sure it's done properly.
But -- and then everything else. I mean four times he encouraged me to run and told me he would endorse me. So I -- I don't know. It's amazing. Unfortunately, I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. Certainly people here are because these things are provably untrue. I mean just -- they're just factually incorrect and people know the difference.
So I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does. And, you know, look, I don't like responding. I -- you know, you can let them go unanswered, but -- and it's just not me to -- we don't do tweets like that. We've responded twice to, again, untruths. But, you know, it's unfortunate that our nation finds itself in this place.
RAJU: Is the president of the United States a liar? CORKER: The president has great difficulty with the truth on many
RAJU: Do you regret supporting him in the election?
CORKER: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again, so --
RAJU: You wouldn't support him again?
CORKER: No way. No way. No, I think that he's proven himself unable to rise to the occasion. I think many of us, me included, have, you know, tried to -- you know, I've intervened. I've had a private dinner. I've, you know, been with him on multiple occasions to try to create some kind of aspirational approach, if you will, to the way that he conducts himself. But I don't think that that's possible. And he's, obviously, not going to rise to the occasion as president.
RAJU: Do you think he's a role model to children in the United States?
RAJU: You don't?
CORKER: No. Absolutely not. I think that -- you know, the things that are happening right now that are harmful to our nation, whether it's the breaking down of -- we're going to be doing some hearings on some of the things that he purposely is breaking down, relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.
[09:35:08] But I think at the end of the day, when his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, and the -- just the name calling, the things that I think the debasement (ph) of our nation will be what he'll be remembered most for and that's regretful. And it affects young people. I mean we have young people who, for the first time, are, you know, watching a president, stating, you know, absolute non-truths non-stop, personalizing things in the way that he does and it's -- it's very sad for our nation.
RAJU: Do you trust him with the access to the nuclear codes?
CORKER: I don't want to go into -- you know, I don't want to (INAUDIBLE) here. We're going to be in our hearing process certainly we're going to be addressing the fact that he, with only the one other person on the defense side, has tremendous powers. And, you know, I have a -- again, I don't want to carry this much further.
But, look, I express concerns a few weeks ago about his leadership, and just his stability and the lack of desire to be competent on issues and understand. And, you know, I -- nothing has changed. And -- but, again, I don't want to make this a, you know, a daily issue. You know, there's work that we need to do and he currently is the person that from the executive side we have to deal with.
And the shame of it is, there are some really good people around him. And if he would stay out of their way and let them perform, people like Tillerson and Mattis and others, you know, we could really make progress on things that matter greatly to our country. But -- but --
RAJU: (INAUDIBLE) sound like this if you were not (INAUDIBLE) --
CORKER: I did that -- you know, this has been building for months. And you know that. You've been covering this.
Look, I came up here, Manu, as a person who had a, you know, mission to be here for two terms. And, you know, it was hard to say you were going to leave. No question. But, you know, I've followed through on that. And I think it's that that independence of knowing you aren't making this a career does, look, it certainly makes a difference. And I think the American people know that. But, I don't know what else to say. So --
RAJU: Will you be on -- will you be going to lunch today?
CORKER: Oh, definitely. It's my lunch.
RAJU: Are you going to --
CORKER: I'm not going to go --
RAJU: Are you going to talk to the president there, you think?
CORKER: Ah, who knows.
RAJU: Thanks, senator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, senator.
BERMAN: All right, there's CNN's Manu Raju talking to Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A whole lot of news right there.
Senator Corker telling Manu that the president has difficulty with the truth. Senator Corker telling Manu that it is the debasement of our nation that President Trump will be most remembered for. And perhaps even most stunningly, Senator Corker tells Manu that he would not support the president again. Essentially he regrets supporting him in the first place.
No love lost at this point between Senator Bob Corker and the president. But even knowing that, those words this morning were stunning.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN military analyst, Rear Admiral John Kirby. Also a former State Department spokesman.
And, admiral, thank you so much for being with us right now.
In your purview, among the things that Senator Corker -- and, again, he's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so, you know, foreign relations is an area where he spends a lot of his time. He says world leaders know the president doesn't say truthful stuff. Those are Bob Corker's words. Your reaction to that? REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AN DIPLOMATIC ANALYST:
Yes. Well, first of all, a very somber and sober interview that Manu just did and you can just almost feel the low energy there by Senator Corker, and I mean low energy in terms of just, you know, he's not obviously happy about where things are going.
And he's not wrong about world leaders. I hear this all the time from colleagues at -- former State Department colleagues and some folks from the diplomatic community representing other nations around the world. They simply don't know where the United States is going. They see these tweets by the president and then they see statements by Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson that contradict them. I think they want to believe, as Senator Corker clearly wants to believe, that Mattis and Tillerson are trying to advance the U.S. foreign policy agenda in a responsible, deliberate way, but it's being undermined by the president. And foreign leaders, they know that and they're worried about that. And you can see it in the way they're reacting on their own to issues around the world, whether it's the Iran deal and pledging to continue it, whether it's the Paris Accord, pledging to stay in accordance with that. I mean they are simply going around President Trump to try to keep world security and, you know, global issues on track.
[09:40:26] BERMAN: Admiral, stand by. I want to bring in CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza, making a rare and crucial 9:40 a.m. appearance here, Chris.
Again, we know that Bob Corker and the president, there's no love lost between them right now. But, again, even then, the words we just heard the senator unleash on the president with Manu Raju there, remarkable.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. I mean I always -- I feel like I've used the word stunned too much, John, that it's run out of meaning in the first nine months of the Trump presidency. But, yes, I mean, look, this is the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I mean this is not a Democratic congressman from California, for example, right? And this is -- this is someone who theoretically Donald Trump would be working with, alongside Rex Tillerson, alongside Jim Mattis, alongside H.R. McMaster, to forge foreign policy and national security measures. Instead, they are at a rhetorical fight level that you honestly rarely see even between democrats and Republicans.
You have Corker in that interview questioning Donald Trump's core competency. He has -- he's unable to be truthful. He cannot do the job. I mean I'm paraphrasing here, but not by much, candidly.
It's a remarkable interview, even though, as you point out, it's not new that Bob Corker and Donald Trump aren't getting along. But that interview is something you will have never seen from a sitting -- between a sitting president and a sitting member in good standing of the Republican establishment. Certainly not one I've ever seen before.
BERMAN: And, by the way, hours before they'll be having lunch together with other Republican senators. And Bob Corker, for everything he has against the president says he's not skipping the lunch because he says, Chris, it's my lunch.
CILLIZZA: Well, I mean, they do have this lunch weekly, right? For people who don't know, there's a weekly Republican lunch of the Republican senators. They do sometimes bring in guests. The president is rarely one of those guests. But Bob Corker's right, they've been doing -- they've been doing this even when Donald Trump isn't there.
One point I want to make, John, I was watching the show and I saw Roger Wicker, a former member of the Republican leadership, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, basically take Trump's side. Say, you know, Corker's not helping things. He said it was just a photo-op. I think that tells you, even now, where the Republican Party is.
The reason Bob Corker is speaking out, it's timed very closely to Bob Corker's decision not to run again. Bob Corker was not this critic of Donald Trump prior to his decision that he wasn't running again in 2018. So you have the two biggest critics of Donald Trump are John McCain, who is almost certainly -- he was just re-elected, is probably in his last term, faces a very difficult brain cancer diagnosis by his own admission, and Bob Corker, who's retiring. And you don't see sitting senators, like Roger Wicker, who, by the way, faces a potential primary fight from a Steve Bannon backed candidate. You don't see them saying, you know what, the president needs to dial it back. The president -- they're basically hoisting the blame now on Corker.
BERMAN: He did blame Corker. He said the comments from Bob Corker are unhelpful is exactly what he said.
BERMAN: And thank you for watching the show earlier.
Chris, stand by for one second.
BERMAN: I want to bring in Manu Raju, the man behind that breath- taking interview there.
And, Manu, you're an intrepid reporter, but it's not like you had to push hard to get the chairman to say these stunning things about the president of the United States.
RAJU: Yes, no question. He -- Senator Corker has been enormously frustrated with this president for saying what Corker says are untruths about him, specifically about constantly saying, John, that he should not -- he wouldn't have run for re-election -- he didn't run for re-election because the president told him that he would not endorse him. That is something that Corker said is just so flatly untrue. Now he wouldn't say liar, but he essentially called the president of the United States a liar, saying on four separate occasions the president told him that he would run for re-election -- that he would endorse him if he ran for re-election, even at one point urging him to reconsider a run for re-election. But he is -- Corker has just been enormously frustrated at the way the
president has consistently gone after him in an untruthful way. And, on top of that, he's concerned about the president's actions and undercutting the people in Trump's administration who Corker does respect, like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, General James Mattis, as well as John Kelly, saying things that he believes just are not helpful to their overall efforts.
[09:45:10] Interesting, he said that the president -- he would not say two things. He would not say he didn't think the president's a role model. He said flatly the president is not a role model to children. Also would not say he trusts the president of the United States with access to the nuclear codes. A remarkable statement from a chairman of a key committee in charge of foreign policy saying that he would not -- could not say one way or another whether or not the president could be trusted with the nuclear codes.
BERMAN: Manu --
RAJU: He said the president should get out of his way of the people on his staff, John.
BERMAN: Let me --
RAJU: Just a number of surprising things that he said in that interview.
BERMAN: Indeed. Admiral -- let me ask Admiral Kirby about that, because that jumped out too. You know, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, admiral, would not say that he trusts the president with the nuclear codes.
KIRBY: That's stunning to me. And I hate to -- I hate to also, like Chris, use that word again and again, but it is. It's remarkable. I mean this is the man in charge of -- on the Senate side for the foreign relations of the United States of America and our security abroad and he doesn't rust the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, with the nuclear codes. More broadly, I think he truly doesn't trust the president of the United States to advances the national security interests of the United States here at home or abroad. And I think that's absolutely remarkable.
BERMAN: One of the things we'll be watching very closely.
Go ahead. Last word, Chris.
CILLIZZA: John, I was just going to say very quickly, and Bob Corker touched on it in Manu's interview repeatedly, but, remember, Bob Corker is on the record questioning Donald Trump's stability and competence. Those are the words he has used. That's not about, he's taking the country in a direction I disagree with. That's a far more fundamental questioning and undermining of a president who, remember, is a Republican, just like Bob Corker.
BERMAN: Yes, this lunch just got a whole lot more interesting.
Chris Cillizza, Manu Raju, Admiral John Kirby, thanks so much for being with us.
Quite a morning. We're going to stay on this all morning.
In the meantime, new fears of a serial killer on the loose. Three murders in two weeks in one neighborhood. We'll take you to the manhunt, next.
[09:51:24] BERMAN: This morning a killer is on the loose near Tampa. Three people have been murdered there in just 11 days. Each in the same neighborhood alone at the time they were killed.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung live for us in Tampa.
Kaylee, what can you tell us.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, there are so many more questions than answers in a community scared and on high alert after those three murders within a half mile of each other over the course of 11 days. I spoke with Interim Police Chief Brian Dugan earlier who told me it's been a very frustrating case for his department. He says they've been very forthcoming with the information they do have in this investigation, but the fact is, there's not a lot of information to share with no suspects, no hard leads, and no motives. Speaking with the mayor just a few minutes ago, he expressed how personally officials here are taking this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: So I'm mad. And our cops are mad. And we're going to stick up for that neighborhood. Those are our friends. Those are our neighbor. That is our city. And we are not going to be terrorized by criminals. And so, you know, we're going to hunt this guy and we're going to get this person. And I'm not leaving until we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: The mayor clarified to me they have not narrowed down this search to just being a male killer. They want people to be keeping their minds open and their eyes open to anything they can see as they refrain from using a term serial killer so as not to box in anyone's vision with stereotypes and labels of who could be responsible for these heinous crimes.
And the police chief also told us, this isn't a hurricane. We don't want people hunkering down. We want eyes open. They need the public's help in solving this mystery, John. They do say, though, anyone out on the streets at night alone is a potential suspect or a potential victim.
BERMAN: All right, reason for concern to say the least. Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much.
All right, former Fox host Bill O'Reilly seems to suggest he is the victim, calling reports about a $32 million sex harassment settlement a smear campaign.
[09:56:42] BERMAN: New developments in the sexual misconduct controversy surrounding Bill O'Reilly. New sources of blame from O'Reilly really. He's blamed his fame, his money, and what he calls the politically motivated media. But now he's blaming God.
CNN's senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter joins me.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's mad at a high power. Here's part of what O'Reilly said on his podcast last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY: You know, am I mad at God? Yes, I'm mad at him. I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn't happen. I can't explain it to you. Yes, I'm mad at him. If I die tomorrow and I get an opportunity, I'll say, why did you guys work me over like that? Didn't you know my children were going to be punished, and they're innocent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That's Bill O'Reilly talking with his podcast audience. A much smaller audience, frankly, John, than what he had at Fox News. You know, he's been trying to mount a comeback, trying to find a new TV career.
This $32 million settlement headline, which continues to kind of lead the front pages of the tabloids here in New York, it's shocking because it's a mystery. I mean we may never know why he was willing to pay someone $32 million to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit. But it raises all sorts of questions and has been deeply embarrassing both for him and for Fox News.
BERMAN: Any developments in the Fox News front?
STELTER: You know, we don't know what's going on with the federal investigation into Fox News, and that's probably the most important piece of all of this. It's one thing to be embarrassed. It's one thing to have reputational damage. But we know that for the better part of a year, the department of Justice has been looking into other settlement payments involving Fox. These were in the Roger Ailes scandal last year. We know that O'Reilly is also part of that investigation.
So the idea that legal -- that there could be legal consequences, that's probably the more important part of this. You know, who knows if O'Reilly will ever be back on TV again. I would venture to say probably not. But if Fox News finds itself in legal jeopardy with the federal government, that's another matter.
And, by the way, we're seeing that in the Weinstein scandal as well. you know, Harvey Weinstein, still off in therapy and rehab. But we learned the New York attorney general's office sent subpoenas on Monday trying to look inside the Weinstein Company to find out about who knew what in that sexual harassment scandal. Very different stories, O'Reilly and Weinstein, but what binds them together, money, power and people who looked the other way.
BERMAN: And Bill O'Reilly continuing to say he's the victim here despite a $32 million payout. Just one of his many, many payouts for sexual harassment charges over the years.
Brian Stelter, thanks so much for being with us.
BERMAN: We do have remarkable breaking news this morning. So let's get to it.
All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here again.
We begin with what might be the single most breathtaking rebuke of President Trump by any sitting politician, let alone a respected and influential Republican politician. A sitting Republican senator, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, just moments ago, in a live interview that took place right here on CNN, CNN's Manu Raju spoke to Chairman Corker and Corker just let lose, unleashed on President Trump, a man he campaigned for. Listen to what he said.
[10:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And you said he's an untruthful president. Are you calling the (INAUDIBLE) no question?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, no question. I mean I don't -- we grew up in our family not using the "l" word, OK? And -- but, yes, I just -- I mean they're provable untruths.