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North Korea Tests Short-Range Missiles; President Trump Invokes Kim Jong-un while Criticizing Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden; U.S. Deploys 1,500 Troops to Middle East; Tornado Devastates Town in Oklahoma. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These were in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. John Bolton said the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed to voice confidence in Kim Jong-un while slamming Joe Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is trying to deal with it in somewhat unorthodox style. I hope he succeeds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is in the pile down there. It's not even a trailer. It's a pile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least six people are dead across Oklahoma, hammered by deadly weather for weeks now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just horrific when you go there and see all these walls laying down. It was absolutely decimated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad that we're not dead. I'm praying that God blesses us again if it happens.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 27th, 8:00 in the east. Of course, it is Memorial Day. John Berman is out. John Avlon joins me. Great to have you. Thanks so much for sharing part of your holiday with us. We begin with breaking news.

President Trump disagreeing with his own national security adviser and Japan's prime minister on the subject of North Korea's missile tests. President Trump says he is not personally bothered by North Korea's recent small weapons launches. But Prime Minister Abe and John Bolton say North Korea violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, on the world stage, President Trump is full of praise for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un while bashing Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden. The president also making headlines on the trade war with China, escalating tensions with Iran.

Joining us now to talk about all this and more, Samantha Vinograd, senior adviser to the national security adviser under President Obama, CNN's Boris Sanchez who is traveling with the president in Tokyo, and Catherine Rampell, "Washington Post" columnist and CNN political commentator. It is great to have you all with us.

Boris, let's go to you because you're on the ground with the president. What has been the Japanese prime minister's reaction to the president praising Kim Jong-un and essentially dismissing these most recent rocket launches for which Japan is in the firing line?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, well, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was asked about these short-range ballistic missile tests during a press conference between the two leaders earlier today. He essentially said that they were regretful. Clearly, he has to walk a fine line as President Trump doesn't believe that they're really something to worry about.

Abe is tasked with a really difficult challenge. He has to essentially continue this strong relationship that he has with President Trump, heaping adulation onto him and praise, and simultaneously deal with the fact that President Trump has this personal relationship with Kim Jong-un in which he trusts Kim Jong-un apparently more than some of his own advisers. So Abe trying to get Trump to sort of give him support for a bilateral meeting with Kim Jong-un while simultaneously calling out the North Koreans for violating U.N. resolutions.

CAMEROTA: Sam, Kim Jong-un, it seems, broke his promise to President Trump. So President Trump believed him in February after the failed Hanoi summit. I'll remind you of what President Trump said when he believed Kim Jong-un back then.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things importantly that Chairman Kim promised me last night is, regardless, he's not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear, not going to do testing. So I trust him and I take him at his word. I hope that's true.


CAMEROTA: Not going to do testing. I trust him. I take him at his word. Well, he's now done testing.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think President Trump is going to trust Kim Jong-un until the cows come home because he doesn't want to admit that he's been played by the North Korean dictator. There is a slight difference. Kim Jong-un currently has only tested short-range missiles. The promise that he made was a little bit different. There was ostensibly a moratorium on longer range missiles, ICBMs and nuclear weapons.

But the problem is, Alisyn, these short-range missiles directly affect not only Japan and South Korea, they affect Americans. We have 54,000 troops stationed in Japan. They are in range of these rockets that Kim Jong-un is popping off. And President Trump is not a great student. He won't release his transcripts, but history shows that he likes to make up facts and forget behavior that's happened in the past. North Korea has done exactly this over a decade ago. In 2006 they were annoyed with the pace of negotiations. They popped off short-range missiles. President Bush tried to downplay it, and then they escalated to longer-range missiles just a few weeks later. So President Trump saying he's not disturbed by what's happening, but this could just be the start of Kim Jong-un testing the waters.

AVLON: Catherine, we believe in fact-based debates here. So I want to hold the president to account about a misstatement he's continued to make and repeated last night with the Japanese prime minister regarding China, tariffs, and who pays for them. Let's take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Foolishly some people said that the American taxpayer is paying the tariffs of China. No, no, no, it's not that way. They're paying a small percentage. But our country is taking in billions and billions of dollars.


[08:05:08] AVLON: Catherine, reality check that for us.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, "WASHINGTON POST" OPINION COLUMNIST: So look, there are two major research studies both by elite teams of exists, people from Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley, the New York Fed, lots of prestigious institutions, both of which have found that 100 percent of the tariffs, not only the tariffs on Chinese goods, but on all of the other countries that we have waged trade wars with, are being paid by American buyers. So we know right now the absorption of that cost is on the U.S. side. Americans are paying those taxes, and tariffs are taxes. It's funny, this party, the Republican Party, the party of which President Trump is a standard-bearer, has historically been, if nothing else, consistently anti-tax, except for some reason when it comes to these taxes, which again are raising the costs for Americans.

CAMEROTA: It's always strange, Catherine, when President Trump says something demonstrably false.

RAMPELL: Is it strange? I think it's normal.

CAMEROTA: Well, yes, because it's one thing to say falsehoods that are unprovable. It's one thing to say falsehoods that just you believe but they're your opinion. It's another thing to keep repeating the same falsehood when we have business owners coming on NEW DAY routinely telling us how much the tariffs are hurting them. And some of these were Trump voters. So it's just hard to know what the game plan is.

RAMPELL: What's the endgame? I don't know. It's like that old line, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes, or me or your lying grocery store receipt, or whatever. I don't know what the endgame is here, particularly since it seems like it's going to be very difficult to unwind this conflict that we now have, this economic conflict, hopefully not a non-economic conflict, that we have with China at this point, because everything that Trump has been doing, all of the bluster, is only causing China to dig in its heels at this point. It's increasing national sentiment within China, and it's going to make it much harder to extract the kind of concessions that we want, not only because Trump is basically insulting China throughout all of this, but we've also alienated, of course, all the allies whose help we need in reigning in China, including Japan.

AVLON: Your lying grocery store receipt is the least popular Hank Williams song.


AVLON: But I appreciate you bringing that deep cut back.

Boris, the president also doing something unprecedented overseas, attacking his Democratic rival Joe Biden and invoking Kim Jong-un to do it. I want to play people that sound, and then hear what the Trump team, how they're defending it over there in Japan.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low I.Q. individual. He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.


AVLON: So Boris, that is unprecedented for an American president to attack a rival in domestic politics by invoking a dictator. How is the Trump team responding to the criticism of those comments?

SANCHEZ: Well, as usual, they're standing by the president, effectively saying that Joe Biden has demonstrated, via his record, that he isn't the best thinker in history. President Trump did so from the podium, talking about the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting that it was a huge failure.

The president, though, seems to be swayed by foreign leaders injecting themselves into American politics. This isn't the only instance of this. Keep in mind that Shinzo Abe himself talked about the tax breaks that the Trump administration passed in 2017 and how they've greatly benefited certain parts of the country. It just so happens that he mentioned important swing states that went for President Trump in 2016. So I think this is partly a way for foreign leaders to show President Trump that they like him, that they have his back, knowing full well that the president is going to turn around and defend what they say.

CAMEROTA: Sam, you have worked with vice president Joe Biden on. The idea that a president overseas would attack and insult a former vice president, is this something that you think that Biden will respond to? VINOGRAD: I think Biden's busy focusing on his campaign messages and

doesn't need to respond to President Trump. But how many despots are on the Trump 2020 reelect campaign at this point, right? You have Kim Jong-un criticizing President Trump's political rivals. You have Vladimir Putin criticizing Democrats. Let's just wait for him to say something about Joe Biden. And it's all pretty clear why they're doing it. These despots are trying to manipulate President Trump by criticizing his rivals because they want him in the Oval Office in 2020 onward. He's been pretty good for him. Russia is misbehaving globally. Kim Jong-un is making more weapons, making more friends. I think Kim Jong-un wants to ride the Trump train all the way through 2020 because it is so good for Kim Jong-un to have Trump in the Oval Office.

[08:10:08] AVLON: I don't know that that's going to be a bumper sticker. I want to stick with you for one final question because of your expertise. Simultaneous with this trip to Japan, the Trump administration is ratcheting up the presence of troops in the Middle East with an eye towards Iran. What's your read of the some 1,500 troops deployed to the Middle East against the rhetoric?

VINOGRAD: I think the 1,500 troops may be the tip of the spear. These 1,500 troops are largely going to be for operations maintenance. I don't think that they're authorized for combat. They are at risk but they'll probably be to help the operations maintenance of military assets. But if President Trump keeps escalating tensions with Iran with irresponsible tweets and policies, we may need more troops because the threat is going to increase. And he said in Japan today that all he wants is a nuclear deal with Iran. He doesn't want regime change. We had a nuclear deal with Iran. He violated it. And the administration laid out 12 steps that Iran lad to take to come back to the negotiating table. So we have the president all the way from Japan, adlibbing from the podium on Iran policy while 1,500 more Americans are being deployed to the Middle East because he's so irresponsible in what he says and what he does.

CAMEROTA: Sam, Catherine, Boris, thank you all very much. We appreciate that.

AVLON: Six people are dead in Oklahoma after several days of flooding, severe storms, and tornadoes. A twisting striking this mobile home park near Oklahoma City, killing two people, widespread destruction in the wake of the town of el reno. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live with more. Omar, tell us what's going on.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're getting an up-close look at some of the destruction this morning. You can see the power that this tornado had as it ripped through this town here in El Reno. It's classified as EF-3, five being the most severe. It ran for two miles but only on the ground for four minutes. You see how much it was able to destroy in four minutes. This used to be a hotel here alongside the highway here in El Reno. It was one of two points of emphasis crews have been focusing on, a hotel and a mobile home park where literally trailers were lifted up and slammed back down as well. And there are a few telling things here in this hotel. One, here are

dumpsters that are now thrown into the second floor of this hotel. You see the force that has crashed through those walls there. Search and rescue efforts are over, is what the mayor tells me. And you can see there are on some parts of the doors x's drawn so they don't go back on their efforts as well.

And you touched a little bit on this before you came to me. It's not just El Reno that has been affected over the course of this past week, statewide six people are dead due to severe weather and flooding that we have seen over the course of the weekend. As of this morning, all 77 counties here in Oklahoma under a state of emergency. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Omar, thank you very much for showing us what's happening on the ground there.

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Amanda Eller was rescued this weekend 17 days after she got lost during a hike in Hawaii.


AMANDA ELLER, LOST IN MAUI FOREST FOR 17 DAYS: It did come down to life and death, and I had to choose, and I chose life.


CAMEROTA: We'll bring you more of her incredible survival story next.


AVLON: A chorus of Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings to begin is growing louder. House Democrats are exercising their oversight duties with numerous investigations into the Trump administration as the President is vowing not to work with Democrats until they end the probes.

Now, joining me now, a real pleasure to welcome back, Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She is the author of "Leadership: In Turbulent Times," among many other books. Doris, it is a great pleasure to have you back on NEW DAY and perspectives the we have least done --


AVLON: So tell us how you think President Trump is doing under this pressure of investigations and basically blocking legislation compared to past Presidents who have felt a similar kind of oversight investigatory pressure from Congress.

GOODWIN: Well, surely his decision to say that he will not work with the Congress is the opposite of the stand that both President Clinton and President Nixon took when they were under investigations and impeachment.

I mean, most notably, President Clinton almost refused to talk about the investigation and simply talked about what he wanted to get done in Congress. When he was under the Senate trial, his State of the Union was coming up and they said, "You have to delay it. You can't be talking about the country now."

And he said, "No, I'm going to show that I'm dealing with the job of the country." And there were times when he would lose focus. People would say, in meetings, looking often to the distance. It was a huge thing that was going on. But basically, his public opinion polls went up because he showed the country he was dealing with the job and compartmentalized, and they supported that.

Even President Nixon tried to get things through Congress during his time. He got a Budget Act through, and a Federal Highway Act through. He did lose his focus at one point. There was an extraordinary moment when he was giving his State of the Union in 1994, right in the midst of it all, 1974 -- in the midst of it all happening, and he meant to say, "We have to replace the discredited welfare system," but instead he said, "We have to replace the discredited President."

So it was clearly on his mind. But needless to say, they both thought the better task was to do your job and let the other people talk about it. But President Trump is the master of it all.

AVLON: Sure.

GOODWIN: I mean, he's the one who wants to lead the band. So, it would be hard for him to cede this to somebody else.

AVLON: Well, that is what you call a Freudian slip from President Nixon there. But you know, you knew President Johnson well. You wrote an excellent early biography of him. He's included in your book on "Leadership." And he really was the master of working with Congress, he resuscitated JFK's legislative agenda and passed these mammoth bits of legislation, working with Congress through the power of persuasion, but also working with Republicans.

[08:20:01] AVLON: And you have a quote, I want to throw up on screen for folks. "There is but one way for President to deal with Congress... and that is continuously, incessantly, and without interruption. It's really going to work, the relationship between President and Congress has to be almost incestuous."

Now, beyond the "ick" factor of the last line, how did Johnson corral a Congress including Republicans to pass such controversial legislation at the time?

GOODWIN: Well, I think what he meant by the incessant and incestuous was, you have to treat the Congress like a family, like they're part of you. So, he had the congressmen over for dinner, every single one of them in groups of 30s.

In the, in the first part of his Presidency, he would call them at 6:00 a.m. He'd call them at midnight, even call the Senator at 2:00 p.m. and said, "I hope I didn't wake you up," and he said, "Oh, no, I was just lying here looking at my ceiling, hoping my President would call." But the most important difference, I think, is Congress was different

then. Bipartisanship was different then. You had three out of four congressmen and senators who were veterans of World War II or the Korean War. So they knew what it was like to have a common purpose that went across party lines.


GOODWIN: They weren't racing home to raise money. The partisan lines hadn't been drawn quite the same way. They cared about their institutions of the Congress, the Senate. And he could play on that and get bipartisanship for civil rights, for voting rights, for Medicare, for Medicaid. Education was an extraordinary accomplishment until the war itself cut into it.

AVLON: And that's so important about the common purpose they had, as a result of being veterans on this Memorial Day. I want to ask you, how much of the peculiar situation we're in is about the political context Trump is operating in?

He's a symptom of our polarized hyper partisan times. And that dynamic is what's creating a President who is very popular within the base of his party, has enormous power within his party as a result, but is not broadly popular with the American people. And therefore, things like impeachment proceedings as the founders might have imagined it -- won't even work in this kind of a circumstance. How much of Trump is really a creature of this political context we live in?

GOODWIN: Yes, I mean, there's no question that when you look at the last decades, the partisanship has increased exponentially. There was some talk in the newspaper not long ago, that people were more worried now, whether their child would marry outside their party, than outside their religion.

I mean, that's crazy, to have that feeling of anger at the other party. And it has developed and it's partly because of the divisions in the country -- it's the sections, the country versus the city, you know, the coasts versus the middle part. People feeling cut off from one another, feeling like the other side is the other. So then, when you come into the Presidency, as President Trump did, you're coming in under that situation. But then what you would hope is that your responsibility is to expand that base, to somehow be able to get more people together, even though you've come in under that hardship.

And at the first part, when he gave that Joint Session of Congress speech in February -- calling for infrastructure, a new tone from his inaugural tone. You thought, "Oh, maybe he'll do it," and these Democrats who want infrastructure. And then right away days later, he was talking about the wiretapping of his Trump Tower by President Obama.

So, this whole thing about what's happened with the investigation, it's been part of it the whole way along, and has prevented him -- and he himself has prevented himself from reaching out. But almost every President has tried to reach out, that's the only thing you have to do. You're President of all the people ...

AVLON: That's right.

GOODWIN: ... even though he's in a difficult situation.

AVLON: That's such an important point to end on, is that the President's job is to really be a uniter and not a divider. And to the extent, this President hasn't taken that opportunity, it's a lost opportunity. Doris Kearns Goodwin, it's a delight to talk to you.

GOODWIN: Me too, John -- you.

CAMEROTA: Always a delight to have Doris here.

All right. Now, a turn to this story that has so many people upset in Hawaii. A deadly shark attack off the coast of Maui. This 65-year- old California man was killed Saturday morning, 60 yards from the shore on Kaanapali Beach. He's been identified as Dr. Thomas Smiley, an optometrist from Granite Bay. Authorities have now posted signs along a half-mile stretch of that beach warning of sharks. This is at least the third shark attack in Hawaii this year. It is the first fatal attack in four years.

AVLON: Now, a hiker rescued after spending 17 days lost in the forest in Hawaii is out of the hospital this morning. Thirty five year-old Amanda Eller suffered a broken leg, a knee injury, and sunburn so bad that it became infected. If that wasn't enough, her shoes were swept away in a flash flood. She said she survived eating berries and drinking river water. Eller says she's grateful to everyone who helped find her.


AMANDA ELLER, LOST IN MAUI FOREST FOR 17 DAYS: Just seeing the way that the community of Maui came together, people that know me, people that don't know me, all came together -- just under the idea of helping one person they'd get out of the woods alive, it just warms my heart.


AVLON: Search crews, finally located Amanda, Friday and airlifted her to safety.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, 17 days that is just remarkable.

AVLON: It's an amazing story.

CAMEROTA: And she's right. I mean, the whole community came together to find one person. They do this all the time. There's so many heroes that we remember.

[08:20:09] AVLON: She said, she chose life.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. All right, so, for many, Memorial Day weekend means barbecues and beach trips. Of course, but the holiday's true meaning is to honor the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. So we will speak to the founder of an organization that helps the families of the fallen, right after this break.


CAMEROTA: On this Memorial Day, we remember the heroes who died serving our nation and the family members that they left behind. Our next guest, Bonnie Carroll, founded a nonprofit organization 25 years ago that helps military families after a loss.

It's called the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors or TAPS. Bonnie founded TAPS following the death of her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll.

She's joined by Kylie Riney, a member of TAPS, Kylie's husband, Army Sergeant Douglas Riney died in October of 2016 while serving in Afghanistan.

Ladies, thank you so much for being here with us. We really appreciate you taking time on such an important day to be here.

And Bonnie, I just want to start with you because you because you say that, you know, you created TAPS 25 years ago to.