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Joe Biden Weighs in on Immigration & Mueller Probe; Trump Orders Grand Military Parade; Kim Jong-Un's Sister Heads to South Korean Olympics as Pence Vows Toughest Sanctions Yet. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:30:00] JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people overwhelmingly think the lives of these kids shouldn't be bargained for anything. They should just do it. Either do it or don't do it. But don't bargain their lives for a wall or for a funding for a program. That is not the American way.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR & CNN CO-HOST, NEW DAY: So do the Democrats stand strong in that kind of principle and not do this deal, and you have to see if the president is willing to pull the trigger on the self- imposed deadline? Should the Democrats play it that way?

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: I think that the Democrats have to continue to make clear that this should not be a bargaining chip. This is inappropriate to use these kids' lives as a way to get more money for A, B, C, or D, or any particular thing. They sign onto the deal vice president --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: --sign onto the deal, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: No, no. I know. And it's always -- having served there for 36 years, always reluctant to go inside -- every time we had a trouble in Congress, I was the guy that got sent up to do --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking.

BIDEN: Well, I know a way I would have tried to negotiate it. But I'm not there. I'm outside. I'm not inside and don't know where the elasticity is to make this. On the basic proposition, you had a wall that provided security, wasn't an absolute waste of money, all of these kids had a path to citizenship, I would be inclined to do that.

CUOMO: You would give Trump the political victory in order to get the deal done? BIDEN: I don't care about his political victory. I don't think --

that's not how I view politics, whether it's a personal victory or not.

CUOMO: When you go to speak to the Democrats now, this is going to be a big deal. They have to figure out very fundamental things. Being anti-Trump, probably won't be enough.

BIDEN: No.

CUOMO: What is the challenge for your party?

BIDEN: The challenge is for us to step up and offer concrete answers, which we're doing. For example, when we talk about, you know, the plight of the working class, well, you know, one of the plights is the cost of education, cost of day care, cost of being able to care for your kid. There's no reason in the world why we can't step up and have continued education that's free.

CUOMO: How do you not run for president? How do you not, when it is in your heart and in your head, you don't think anybody out there is better than you and never had a call for history that calls for leadership more, how do you not run?

BIDEN: Barack, the president, asked me all during the end of the last administration, you know, how do you make the judgment? If I can look in the mirror, in two years and walk away knowing I'm not walking away because I'm afraid or I don't have nerve to try to do the job or don't want to make the effort, then I can happily walk away for year. For real. There's a lot of new folks that have potential coming up here. We didn't know who Bill Clinton was three years out. We didn't know who Barack Obama was, other than a tremendous speech he made. And they stepped up. They stepped up. So, but I know one thing, we have to reclaim the essence of who we are as a country. We have to just get rid of this dangerous, and in terms of our security, this dangerous notion of nationalism, and we've get rid of this phony populism that just is creating space for people to grab power.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: CNN political director, David Chalian, with us now.

I was wondering what you think about Joe Biden and whether he's ultimately going to run. Because it seems like he's -- it's such a consideration for him right now. But when he said, look, he didn't know that Barack Obama would be essentially viable or that Bill Clinton would be the guy to take the White House, I wonder if that's really a good rational for him because he would have to be in the game by the time it became clear that, no, those are -- these are the candidates that maybe you didn't see coming.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. That's a good point. He would already have to be in the race.

KEILAR: Yes. CHALIAN: But what's interesting, he pointed to historic examples, and couldn't name anyone he thought fit the role right now. While he said there were a lot of people, younger people in the next generation of the Democratic Party coming up, when pressed about who that might be -- he uses historic examples. He doesn't -- he clearly doesn't see anyone on the horizon that he thinks is better than him right now. I think that's pretty clear. Obviously, you are right, in his mind, he's already running for 2020. At the end of the day, and I'm not big on predictions, I will just say, I'll be surprised, at the end of the day, if Joe Biden actually is a presidential candidate in the 2020 race.

KEILAR: OK, so why would he decide not to? What would be the things that might tip the balance in the other way on this decision?

CHALIAN: I thought it was telling. You hear in his remarks an understanding that there may be a hunger for another generation. That's one. But, two, the Democratic Party is moving right now in terms of the base core voters. This is -- this is a party that is being dominated a lot in the energy in the left wing of the party right now. I think you saw it over the government shutdown. You saw Gillibrand and Booker and Kamala Harris and others -- we should still shut down the government, evening when Chuck Schumer was ready to fold. Joe Biden has not positioned himself in his career as that guy courting the whole left wing of the party. The party's energy is not exactly aligned with where Joe Biden is right now.

[11:35:23] KEILAR: He was asked about special counsel and President Trump potentially meeting with Mueller and his team. He said, you know, that he doesn't think -- the lawyers shouldn't allow Trump to sit down because he has a problem with precision, as he diplomatically put it there. What did you think about that?

CHALIAN: I thought it was really remarkable that Joe Biden went the route of not pursuing the political advantage. Lots of Democrats would love to see Donald Trump have to sit down for an interview. But actually, put on his sort of strategist hat and said, I get why his lawyers would advise him not to. This is the big concern, right? Donald Trump does have a precision problem, no doubt about it. Hearing Joe Biden diagnose that was fascinating, but I think he clearly has a strategic point there.

KEILAR: He calls President Trump a joke. It's a comment that is certainly -- I think will tick off President Trump. He doesn't always like being punched out like that. It seems, normally, when people get into name calling with President Trump, it doesn't turn out so well for them. But I wonder what you think about Joe Biden, just specifically having the personality he does, about getting into kind of that with President Trump.

CHALIAN: He seems pretty resistant to, like, allowing that stuff to stick, only because the image of who Joe Biden is actually very well formed in the American public perception. And I do think you're right to note that. What Chris was able to draw out in the interview -- it's such a compelling interview, right -- is that Joe Biden is so comfortable in his own skin, in ways that, for instance, the new generation of politicians, who are seeking or thinking about seeking the presidency, tend not to be. They are still figuring it out and putting their finger in the wind and figuring out which way -- Joe Biden is so comfortable in his own skin that he can say the president of the United States is a joke and not worry about any repercussions from a public battle with him. I'm sure Joe Biden, by the way, would welcome a public battle with Donald Trump.

KEILAR: That would be interesting.

David Chalian, thank you so much.

Still ahead, marching orders received. The Pentagon is starting to plan a military parade at President Trump's request. What we're learning about a possible date and how much it could cost to pull it off.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:52] KEILAR: New marching orders from President Trump to the Pentagon: put together a parade in Washington that shows off America's military power. The Joint Chiefs chairman confirming that initial planning has begun.

Trump was wowed by the Bastille Day celebration that he attended last summer in Paris and has wanted to replicate or maybe top it here in the U.S.

Of course, displays like this in the U.S. are pretty rare. Few Americans under 30 would even remember the last military parade in Washington because there hasn't been one since 1991, after the first gulf war, and there weren't many even before then.

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us.

Barbara, tell us what you know about these plans.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Right now, the Pentagon is in those initial stages, Brianna. And officials are telling us, for now, they are looking at November. November 11th, will be the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. That may be a little bit of an effort to address some political sensitivities, because if the president is honoring the troops, as well everyone wants to, what they've really been engaged in the past 16 years is being directed to wars largely in Islamic countries. There would be a lot of international sensitivity on the part of the military to put in any glory behind that. Everybody is behind supporting the veterans and troops that serve. If that's what Mr. Trump is looking for, perhaps not quite so much controversy about that. But, he was wowed by the Bastille Day. So if he wants to see tanks and missiles rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue here in Washington, D.C., it is going to cost a bundle. Nobody knows what the cost really will be. This is a city where the streets are not as wide as the streets in Paris. They have to take out all the light poles and road signs and obstructions. You have to bring in those tanks and missiles and whatever he wants from other parts of the country. You have to ship it in by rail. You have to stage it. If you're going to have heavy tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, and those tank treads tear up a major thoroughfare in the nation's capital because they are so heavy, the vehicles are so heavy, you have to fix the streets. Not very likely the bridges in Washington, D.C., which are fairly old, can bear the weight of tanks coming across them into the city. So there's a lot to think about here, a lot of questions, and already a lot of controversy.

KEILAR: What is the defense secretary, Defense Secretary Mattis, thinking about this?

STARR: Well, right now, the only person we've heard from is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He's traveling in Thailand. He was asked by a reporter about it, and he said, yes, we are in the initial stages of planning. And what we do know now from a senior defense official is that the Pentagon and the White House have actually been talking about this privately, secretly, not disclosing it to the public, if you will, for the last couple of months. So the secretary of defense, well aware of this planning under way.

What will be so interesting to see is whether Secretary Mattis and the chairman can do something to make it perhaps not as grandiose as the French -- as what Mr. Trump may want, ratchet it back a little bit, and put it back in the box with what is more traditional here in the U.S., saluting the troops.

[11:45:20] KEILAR: Very good point.

Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thank you for that.

Joining me now, is national security analyst, Shawn Turner. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 21 years, and also was the press secretary for the National Security Council under President Obama.

So, you have a lot of service with which to inform the answer to this question, and you've also worked in communications. Why doesn't the U.S. -- why is it so rare to see something like this in the U.S.?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think it's rare to see something like this because if you think about the visual of seeing military tanks and rockets and fighter jets rolling down the streets here in the United States, that is a visual that we typically associate with authoritarian countries, like North Korea and China and Russia. That's for good reason. If we look at the --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Why -- you say for good reason. Why do they do it?

TURNER: I think they do it because it's a show of force and message to the international community. Often times, it's a message to the United States that they have great military power and they are not afraid to roll the military power out to use that military power. I think, unfortunately, in a lot of those countries, it's also a message to the people of those countries, to show that the leaders of those countries are in control and that they have great power and that their power is absolute. I think for those of us in the United States, while it's no doubt that the president, as a commander-in-chief, has a right to do this, and we love and honor our military, I think that this causes some concerns because of the visual it creates.

KEILAR: The White House is framing it like that, that the narrative here is this is a chance for Americans to show that they appreciate the military. I wonder what you think about what Marines and soldiers -- and sailors and airmen think about that generally.

TURNER: Listen, one of the great things about serving this country is that the American people are unbelievably appreciative of your service. There's no better place in the worlds to serve in the military than here in the United States. That said, I think it's also the case that everybody can kind of take a look at the public discourse, or political discourse right now, and I think it's fair for people to ask whether or not the military is too involved, being pulled into that public --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Politicized.

TURNER: -- political discourse a little bit too much. And, unfortunately, in this environment, it's encouraging that the parade will be in November on Veterans Day, but in this environment, people ask questions about what the president's motives or his objectives are in having this parade. Unfortunately, I think they will be questioned for their Americanism, for their commitment to this country. So I think that this does raise concerns. But, again, I think it's reencouraging they are doing it on Veterans Day.

KEILAR: Your commitment to your country is very clear.

We appreciate it, Shawn Turner, Thank you so much.

TURNER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, a historic moment expected at the Olympic games. For the first time ever, a member of North Korea's Kim dynasty will be setting foot in South Korea. This, as Vice President Pence warns of the toughest sanctions yet on the North.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:52:47] KEILAR: An historic moment at the Winter Olympics, but it has nothing to do with sports. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un's sister will be there as part of the North Korean delegation. You can see her in this video, sending off North Korea's art troupe. This is the first time ever, we should mention, that a member of the Kim dynasty will set foot in South Korea.

And this comes as Vice President Mike Pence is set to lead the American delegation at the games.

Then this morning, Pence had some harsh words for Pyongyang during his visit to Japan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever. And we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN's senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson is live from Pyeongchang. You can see the ski slopes behind him there. The Winter Olympics getting ready to take place.

Ivan, what does this mean that Kim Jong-Un's sister will be at the Winter Olympics?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty remarkable considering the North Koreans only informed the South Koreans that she would be part of this delegation just two days before the opening of the games here in Pyeongchang. But it is significant, as you pointed out. This would be, if she comes, the first member of the ruling Kim dynasty to set foot south of the Demilitarized Zone. She would be joining an enormous North Korean contingent that's now approaching around 500 people already on the ground here, including an orchestra, a Tae Kwon Do demonstration team, hundreds of cheerleaders, and, yes, some 22 North Korean athletes.

Her official title is first vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers Party.

In January of 2017, the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on her for alleged human rights abuses, freezing any assets of hers that they could get ahold of.

South Korean media, One Channel, has found an interesting parallel. They said, hey, North Korea's dictator is sending his sister down to the games, and President Trump is sending his daughter, Ivanka, to attend the closing ceremony of the games. And they're drawing some parallels there. But it certainly is an interesting development -- Brianna?

[11:55:08] KEILAR: Interesting.

And just real quickly, Ivan, what else is the vice president up to during his visit?

WATSON: Well, he's had some very harsh words in his speech alongside the Japanese prime minister. He called North Korea a prison state. He called it the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet. The Japanese prime minister backed him up, saying it's not worth talking to the North Koreans right now, as long as they don't begin nuclear disarmament. But, Brianna, Pence, when he was in Alaska, he did not rule out the possibility of talking to the North Koreans. And we could see him in the same stadium during the opening ceremony as the sister of Kim Jong-Un. It'll be interesting to see if they acknowledge each other -- Brianna? KEILAR: That would be extraordinary.

Ivan Watson, in South Korea for us, thank you so much.

Next up, while President Trump's lawyers are trying to put the brakes on a sit-down interview with Robert Mueller, some of Trump's allies say he thinks that he could still be game for it. New details ahead.