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Trump Says North Korea Agreed to Denuclearized But It Hasn't; Senate Panel Expected to Reject Pompeo; Romney Fails to Secure GOP Nomination in Utah; Trump Hosts French President Tonight at Mount Vernon; Photo of Melania Trump and 4 Former Presidents Released; Trump Lashes Out on Twitter at "Drugged-Out Loser" Amid Opioid Crisis. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired April 23, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: -- negotiate and to deal on all this kind of stuff that I'm concerned that he could wind up either, A, selling out South Korea or, if that doesn't happen, and if the deal blows up, then that would actually strengthen the case of the hardliner --


BOOT: -- who want to strike North Korea.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: If you can't trust -- if you can't trust Kim going in, how can you trust that there is going to be progress?

BOOT: I think it will be hard because of the track record of cheating on every agreement they ever concluded. You need to be very cautious. I'm in favor of talking with them but you have to be prudent and cautious and Donald Trump is not displaying caution in his tweets.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Max. Thank you for coming in.

BOOT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

Historic rebuke. Today, a Senate panel is expected to vote against Trump's pick for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. But we're just getting word about how a pivotal Senator, a pivotal vote in all of this, when it makes it to the floor, how he's going to vote for full confirmation. We'll bring you that, next.


[11:35:08] BOLDUAN: President Trump's pick to be his next secretary of state is about to make history. Probably not in the way that he would like. As Mike Pompeo is expected to become the first secretary of state nominee to not receive the endorsement of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee is expected to vote today and, again, you never know until the votes are cast. But despite that historic roadblock, as of now, it looks like he has enough votes to win final approval from the full Senate. President Trump this morning making clear who he blames for all of

this, in a tweet, "Hard to believe obstructionists may vote against Mike Pompeo for secretary of state. The Democrats will not approve hundreds of good people, including the ambassador to Germany. They're maxing out the time-honored approval process for all. Never happened before. Need more Republicans."

Just a quick side note, the nominee for ambassador for Germany was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee in October. Arguably, the Republicans in control of the Senate could bring that up for a vote anytime now. But I digress.

Here with me now, CNN political commentator, former communications director for the Republican National Committee, Doug Hye, and CNN political commentator and former press secretary for the Bill Clinton White House, Joe Lockhart.

Great to see both of you. Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Doug, let's get to it.

Pompeo making history today if and when he gets final approval from the full Senate. Do you see him as starting the job at a disadvantage because of what could possibly go down later today?

HYE: No, because I think you sort of answered your question already. He'll start the job --


BOLDUAN: I love when I do that.


HYE: We know he'll be confirmed with the Joe Manchin announcement that he'll support Mike Pompeo's nomination. Heidi Heitkamp, another Democrat, is supporting him as well. He'll have the votes needed to pursue -- to pursue the job -- to take the job. Yes, it is a little bit of a black eye not getting the approval from the committee, but he's going to start the job, he's going to be the next secretary of state, and try to hit the ground running as he already has with his trip to North Korea.

BOLDUAN: And fact of the matter is, this isn't just Joe Shmoo off the street, Joe. Pompeo is the current CIA director. Democrats voted for him in that role. So is there something to the president when he says that Democrats are just holding this up for holding it up sake?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think they're holding it up for holding it up sake but underneath all of this is politics - and there's different layers of politics. You have Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp in a tough re-election and from red states. They're going to vote for him. You have Democrats who in order to appeal to their constituency want to block anything Trump wants to do. And Trump, you know, with this -- you can't take -- you can't take his tweet seriously but should. Talking about how this has never happened before. This always happens. And I think the hallmark of -- during the Obama years when O'Connell was running the Senate was blocking everything and slowing everything down. So there is a lot of demagoguery here, and a lot of politics, and the fact of the matter is he'll be secretary of state.

BOLDUAN: Fact of the matter is at the end of the day he'll be secretary of state and that's the way it's very likely to go unless something wild happens and when has that happened in the days we have been covering this administration.

Doug, another Republican who is facing a -- I'm going to say, surprising uphill battle is Mitt Romney. He's running for Senate, in Utah, the Senate -- the Utah Senate seat, but he couldn't win enough support over the weekend to avoid a primary. To put it another way, the party's former nominee to be the president of the United States could not get 60 percent of his state Republican Party to support him. Why?

HYE: Well, I think we have elections for reasons. One of the things we have seen from Donald Trump's victory not only in the primaries but in November of 2016 is voters whether Republican voters or Democrat voters don't want to be told by the local or state or national parties who their candidates are going to be, who is going to be successful. So he's going to have to campaign in a primary like anyone else. He'll win that campaign, and then will become a Senator. Similar to Pompeo, it is a little bit of a speed bump, but he's going to get where he's headed.

BOLDUAN: I don't know what kind of traffic analogy we can make, Joe, but let's try it on for size. Republicans have issues, Democrats have issues too. A top Democrat, Congressman Jim Clyburn, he told "Politico" this over the weekend, with regard to the midterm: "If we're still in the minority after election day, all of us have to go."

He's talking about Democratic leadership, of course. He's part of that Democratic leadership. Do you agree with him?

LOCKHART: I think it is really interesting comment. And it reflects a couple of things. One is, I think, Jim Clyburn looks at it and says if I'm going to be in the minority again, we don't win this time, I don't really want to be in leadership.


LOCKHART: I think, on the other hand, it is part of a -- it reflects the hold that the Democratic -- that Nancy Pelosi has on the caucus. It is strong. But it is, you know, it is tenuous. And I think Republicans will make a big push to make her part of the election, you know, the local elections. But I think, at the end of the day, you know, Leader Pelosi and Jim Clyburn and the rest of the leadership, if they don't pull it off this time, I think you will see a change. You'll see a new set of leadership, not necessarily reflecting poorly on the current leadership, but just the dynamic that, if we can't win this time, you know, when do we win? [11:40:23] BOLDUAN: That kind of gets to, Doug, when it comes down

to it, are you to the point of -- would you agree if Democrats don't pull off the win of taking back the majority this time, anything short of pulling off winning back the majority is a total failure for Democrats?

HYE: I think it is given Trump's approval numbers. When I was at the Republican National Committee in 2010, when we won the House, our magic number for Obama was 46 percent. If he was under 46, we thought we would take back the House, and he was, and we did. You covered it, Kate. Fire Pelosi was a big part of our message. Also, even if they win, I think House Democratic leadership is going to have challenges because there is a new crop of young, smart Democrats who are trying to show leadership, like Josh Gottheimer, from New Jersey, Joe Kennedy, who gave the response to the State of the Union, from Massachusetts. There are a lot of young smart Democrats who see a glass ceiling that that hasn't moved in a long time.

BOLDUAN: Doug, Joe, great to see you both. Thank you for coming in.

HYE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens.

Coming up, the president championing himself as the man who could fix America's opioid crisis. So why did he lash out on Twitter at someone facing addiction, he says, someone he calls a "drugged-up loser?" A conversation about that coming up.


[11:46:00] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, new video coming in. I'm seeing this with you for first time. Prince William and young George and Charlotte walking into the wing where they will be going to see their new baby brother for the very first time. George and Charlotte, of course, George is 4 years old, Charlotte is 2 years old. This is also the very wing, very hospital where both of them were born, Prince William as well. We're seeing them walking into the hospital together with their father to see the newest member of the royal family, the new baby boy, born this morning, for the very first time. We'll keep you updated. See what happens, what they'll say, if they'll talk when they come out. We'll bring that to you. Adorable nonetheless.

Coming up here, two hours from now, the first official state visit of Donald Trump's presidency will be getting under way. French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Washington for the next three days. Tonight, the president and the first lady will host them for a private dinner at Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. Tomorrow is the much more formal first official state dinner at the White House.

CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett, is joining me now from Washington with more on this.

Kate, the first lady, she's briefed reporters on details of tomorrow night's dinner. What did we find out? KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: She just released a behind

the scenes sneak peek video on her Twitter feed and it looks as though, you know, things are going well, she's picked the Clinton china, it appears, some white flowers and the menu will reflect tastes of France and America. The Washington National Opera will perform. So it actually, you know, considering the entertainment has been pretty low key at the White House since the Trumps took office, this sounds like it will be a pretty fancy pants soiree, I guess. And 130 guests should be in attendance.

This, again, is something the first lady planned all on her own, no event planner, which is typical lately for state dinners, typical for the Obama administration to hire an event planner. She's done it all herself, I hear, from the chair cushions to the menu to the flowers to all of it. So it is a big evening for her. And tonight, I should say, before they go to Mount Vernon, they'll take a helicopter tour over the city of Washington with the Macrons for a bird's-eye view.

BOLDUAN: That's beautiful.

The guest list for tomorrow night is getting a lot of -- the guest list gets a lot of attention. Some of the attention this time because it is unusual there are no members of Congress, from the opposing party that have been, this time, the Democrats, invited to the dinner. What are you hearing about that?

BENNETT: That is what we're hearing. They don't release the guest list until right as the dinner starts. But we're hearing there is not a lot of representation if any from Republicans on the Hill, even leadership, certainly it is a -- it is somewhat of a break from tradition. Sometimes leadership from the opposing party is invited and they choose not to attend. I believe John Boehner did that a couple of times during the Obama administration. So until we actually see the list, we won't know for sure, however, buzz is that this is not an opposing party friendly sort of state dinner, which is a break from tradition.

BOLDUAN: And then the photo that broke the Internet, if I could ask you about it. The office of President George H.W. Bush releasing a touching photograph of first lady, Melania Trump, with four former presidents from Barbara Bush's funeral over the weekend. So many people talking about this. And I don't know, reading into what they see in this photo, Kate.

BENNETT: Well, I mean, I think they should. I think this is an important moment that is sort of -- speaks to Barbara Bush in a way, supersedes politics. This is -- could have been a virtual lion's den that Melania Trump was walking into, considering the things that the president has said and continues to say. I mean, we see the Crooked Hillary tweets still about this group of people. And she hadn't seen the Obamas since Inauguration Day, Melania Trump hadn't herself. Certainly she seems to have been warmly embraced, she is smiling. We saw a video of Obama and Melania laughing and chatting before the start of the service. So certainly, she took it upon herself to go. She announced before the president almost two full days before that she was going to go in person and, again, her respect for the former first lady sort of took precedence over any other political stuff that might have been happening beforehand over her husband.

[11:50:18] BOLDUAN: Those two things are the same.


I think it says something of what people are yearning for. They're searching in this photo for the decency and bipartisanship of days gone by, or what people say are days gone by. It's a statement kind of where we are politics-wise today.

BENNETT: Totally agree.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Kate. Thank you so much.

BENNETT: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, the president said he could fix America's opioid crisis. Then why is he lashing out at someone on Twitter at someone he calls a drugged-out loser? The words of the president on addiction, coming up.


[11:55:01] BOLDUAN: Among President Trump's two dozen tweets over the weekend, none seem to be as vicious or personal as this one, where he calls an unnamed source for a "New York Times" story, quote, "a drunk/drugged-up user." The president's contempt seems completely at odds, though, with his pledge to fight the opioid crisis with compassion. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a brother Fred. Great guy. Best-looking guy. Best personality. And he had a very, very, very tough life because of alcohol, believe me. Very, very tough, tough life.

We will face this challenge as a national family with conviction, with unity and with a commitment to love and support our neighbors in times of dire need.

They lost their beautiful son, Adam, to a fentanyl overdose.

Jim and Jean, we're sorry for your loss. A great boy. He was a great boy.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, Regina LaBelle. She served as chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Policy during the Obama administration.

Regina, thanks for joining us.

REGINA LABELLE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG POLICY: Thanks for having me. BOLDUAN: You heard the president's words from earlier this year, and

then you see that tweet from the president from over the weekend. And you thought, what?

LABELLE: Well, his first message about this, and how it affected his brother, was so important that he talked about it from a personal standpoint. Because the people in this country who have substance abuse disorders, there are over 20 million of them. And each one of them has a family or a friend who cares about them. So that language he used to talk about his brother, it really helped a lot of people who have a lot of shame because they have someone in their family or they have addiction themselves. So I was a little taken aback by the language used this weekend when it appeared that we were making some progress in the language of addiction and making sure that people know that you can't hate up close.

BOLDUAN: Regina, can he say both things? You've advised presidents on this. Can you talk this way about a drugged-up loser and also call for compassion for those battling addiction?

LABELLE: Well, I think the ironic pieces that the White House has put out the crisis next door where people can share their stories. I think that's actually a really good outlet for a lot of people. Again, we need to make sure people come forward. So I'm hopeful that the efforts that are being made by the secretary at HHS, by the commissioner, by the secretary at SAMSA, that all of that will make more of a difference. And that it doesn't get drowned out by this -- by the language in this tweet.

BOLDUAN: Why does it matter just on its face how the president talks about people facing addiction?

LABELLE: Well, it matters how all of us talk about addiction. There is actually studies that Dr. John Kelly did at Harvard that talk about, when you call people addict, it actually makes them get more punitive responses. So it's not just about political correctness. It's about making sure that we treat the disease of addiction as it is, a medical condition. Someone called it -- it's not a casserole disease, that if someone is suffering from cancer, you bring casseroles. If someone in your family has a substance abuse disorder, you don't bring casseroles, you actually may look the other way because you feel in some ways it may be catching so you don't know what to say. So the more people in positions of authority that can talk about this, the more people come out of the shadows and get treatment for the addiction they have.

BOLDUAN: President Obama's last official bill-signing ceremony before he left office was a bill to help tackle the opioid epidemic. Congress and this president, they are implementing the bill, and as I can see, expanding on it in terms of money. Do you think the president's words matter if his actions are helping the cause?

LABELLE: Well, words always matter. And so does money. It's not -- we don't have to have one or the other. We have to have both.

BOLDUAN: Yes. LABELLE: So I would encourage the words to match the action.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I hear you.

Regina LaBelle, thanks for coming in. I really appreciate it.

This is one moment in the tweet storm of the weekend that easily could have gotten lost and drowned out. And I'm glad we had a moment to actually discuss it.

In general, are you happy with what you're seeing from this White House in terms of taking on the epidemic?

LABELLE: I think what we need to do is treat it not as an acute problem but as a chronic condition. So we need to have sustained funding, not just one-time hits of funding. The one-time hits of funding are important, but states need sustained plans. This is not a problem that's going to go away in a year or two years or even three.

BOLDUAN: But it's also not a problem for just one state. It's a problem for the entire country that needs a national response to it as well.

LABELLE: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Regina, thanks so much for coming in. I appreciate it.

LABELLE: Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all for joining me, as always.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.