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State of the Union

Rousing Rally in Pennsylvania; Will President Trump Talk to North Korean Dictator?; Interview With Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson; Interview With Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren; President Trump In GOP Candidate Rally; Trump's Re-election Slogan "Keep America Great"; Porn Star Sues Trump Over Alleged Hush Agreement; President Trump Suggests U.S. Impose Death Penalty; Trump: I've Got The Best Builders For the Wall; Trump On First Lady Melania: Her Life Isn't So Easy; Oprah On "THE VAN JONES SHOW". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 11, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Rousing rally. President Trump unleashes on his critics.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How easy it is to be presidential?

ACOSTA: But says, be nice to Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: We have to be very nice, because let's see what happens.

ACOSTA: Is President Trump giving into the North Korea dictator's demands? Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is here next.

Plus, 2020 already? The president goes off-script.

TRUMP: Keep America great, exclamation point.

ACOSTA: Releasing his reelection campaign slogan and taking shots at some potential challengers.

TRUMP: I would love to beat Oprah. I know her weakness.

Can you imagine having to cover Elizabeth Warren, Pocahontas?

ACOSTA: We have Senator Elizabeth Warren here in a few moments.

And shocking proposal. President Trump praises repressive leaders.

TRUMP: These guys don't play games. Zero-tolerance policy. We catch a drug dealer, death penalty.

ACOSTA: And seems to propose the death penalty for drug dealers in the U.S.

TRUMP: I don't know that the United States frankly is ready for it. They should be ready for it.

ACOSTA: Is this a policy his supporters will get behind? Anthony Scaramucci will be here just ahead.


ACOSTA: Hello. I'm Jim Acosta, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is experiencing some major deja vu.

President Trump is back in full campaign mode, going off on his rifles and going off-script in a 75-minute rally in Pennsylvania. He was there to support Republican candidate on the ballot this Tuesday Rick Saccone, but the president really seemed to be campaigning for himself.

Desperate to avoid another crushing loss in a special election, he even rolled out his new 2020 campaign slogan, keep America great, exclamation point, and promising to remain true to himself.


TRUMP: Remember I use to say how easy it is to be presidential? But you would all be out of here right now if I -- you would be so bored.


ACOSTA: He also laid out his record on trade and the economy.

The speech comes just days after the president's stunning decision to accept an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which Mr. Trump held up as an achievement that no other president has been able to accomplish.


TRUMP: They want to denuclearize. Nobody had heard that. Hey, who knows? If it happens, if it doesn't happen. I may leave fast, or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world and all of these countries, including, frankly, North Korea.


ACOSTA: All right, joining us now to discuss this is Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. He also is the chair of the Homeland Security Committee.

Senator Johnson, thanks for joining us this morning.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Good morning, Jim. How you doing?

ACOSTA: Doing well.

Now, you just heard what President Trump said in last night's rally in Pennsylvania. North Korea is -- quote -- "thinking about denuclearizing," but -- quote -- "Who knows what's going to happen?"

Is that enough of an insurance for you for the president to sit down with Kim Jong-un? Is that enough?

JOHNSON: Well, President Trump has been engaged in the maximum pressure campaign.

And I joined in a letter with five other of my Republican Senate colleagues encouraging President Trump to make sure to maintain that maximum pressure until we find -- see complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization within North Korea.

So, what we can't -- what we can't do is do what we did with Iran and let off the pressure and then just watch the behavior go in the wrong direction.

So, again, it's just incredibly important to keep -- I would ratchet up the sanctions against North Korea until they actually do, in a verifiable fashion, denuclearize.


Now, North Korea has backed out of promises before. In 1994, they promised to end their nuclear program. But they were found later in violation of that. In 2005, they agreed to give up their nuclear program, but they started up again next year. They tested their first bomb.

And then, in 2012, they said they would stop testing, but later launched a satellite.

Is the president just being naive here?

JOHNSON: Let's hope not.

Again, you have that history. Let's not be snookered again. Let's not be Charlie Brown to North Korea's Lucy. We have seen this movie before. That's why we have called on President Trump to make sure that we maintain the maximum pressure campaign.

If anything, I would continue to ratchet up sanctions until they, again, have complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

ACOSTA: Isn't it possible they would back out of the talks before they even happen if you ratchet up sanctions?


ACOSTA: It seems like the president really wants to have this conversation.

JOHNSON: Well, again, if you listen to members of his administration, they're pretty level-headed from the standpoint of, we need to make sure that we continue to maintain that pressure and, from my standpoint, continue the pressure, will bring North Korea to the table in a more -- in good-faith negotiations.


ACOSTA: And the president also said -- quote -- "We have to be very nice to Kim Jong-un."

This is a dictator who has murdered untold numbers of people. What do you think the president is going to accomplish by being nice to Kim Jong-un?

JOHNSON: Probably not a whole lot.

What we need to do is maintain that pressure. We have to recognize the heinous acts committed by Kim Jong-un and, again, maintain the maximum pressure. It's -- it's that simple.

ACOSTA: And I'm just -- I'm just -- correct me if I am wrong here, Senator. I'm sensing from your voice that you're not so sure this is a good idea, sitting down with Kim Jong-un. Do you think it's a good idea?

JOHNSON: You know, I think talking to people is never a bad idea, as long as we maintain that pressure.

I have -- I have never quite understood the enormous diplomatic gain by just sitting down and talk to somebody, as long as you maintain the pressure. So, I would rather talk to people to prevent any kind of miscalculation.

And let's face it. A miscalculation on the Korean Peninsula could be devastating. So, I don't have a problem in talking to people, but we have to maintain the sanctions...


ACOSTA: Well, this isn't talking to people. This is talking to Kim Jong-un. This isn't talking...

JOHNSON: I know.


JOHNSON: Oh, I understand.

ACOSTA: This is a very different ball game.

JOHNSON: Well, again, I think the maximum pressure campaign is having its effect.

We need to isolate North Korea. They say they're self-sufficient. Well, we're putting them in a position where they're have to prove self-sufficiency. And, of course, they're not. And I think that maximum pressure campaign is bringing Kim Jong-un to the table for the first time, hopefully in good faith.

ACOSTA: All right, and I want to talk about these new tariffs that the president announced on steel and aluminum.

You have expressed your opposition to this. It obviously could effect the economy in Wisconsin. Your fellow Republican senator Jeff Flake has gone so far to threaten congressional action to nullify all of this. Would you sign on to that? Would you support that?

JOHNSON: I would, but I doubt it would have any chance of passing or even, if it passed, that we would have the votes to override the veto.

What is unfortunate, Jim, is, in Wisconsin -- I just traveled the last two days talking to all kinds of folks -- confidence had really been building. We -- we stopped increasing the regulatory burden and actually started reducing the regulatory burden. We made American businesses more competitive.

We gave real tax cuts to Wisconsinites and Americans. There's really growing level of optimism because we're returning certainty to the American and Wisconsin economy. And the talk of canceling NAFTA and now imposing these steel tariffs have just interjected uncertainty into the economy, where it just wasn't necessity.

So, I'm really concerned that this is counterproductive, as well as you could really result in retaliatory actions by our trade partners. And, again, it just injects uncertainty into an economy that was really doing quite well.

ACOSTA: And I want to get back to this rally that we saw last night. The president was in rare form, or perhaps not-so-rare form.

Take a listen to the president making the case for the death penalty for drug dealers. Let's listen to this.


TRUMP: When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem? No, no, no, we do not.

I said, huh, big country, 1.4 billion people, right? Not much a drug problem. I said, what do you attribute that to? Well, the death penalty.

So, honestly, I don't know that the United States, frankly, is ready for it. They should be ready for it.


ACOSTA: Now, the drug -- death penalty for drug dealers, is that something that you agree with? And should we be following China's lead when it comes to criminal justice?

JOHNSON: I would say we probably should not be China -- or following China's lead when it comes to criminal justice.

I'm a supporter of the death penalty, but only when -- in those types of instances where we absolutely are 100 percent certain that the person is 100 percent guilty. I'm not sure it would be applicable to drug offenses.

ACOSTA: And the NRA is suing the state of Florida to block a new law that the governor just signed there, Rick Scott, that would raise the legal age to buy all guns to 21 years old, the NRA saying that it violates the constitutional rights of 18-to-21-year-old people.

What do you make of that? Do you feel like that this law violates the Second Amendment? How far should the law go in that regard?

JOHNSON: I would not support the law.

You know, we send our sons and daughters over to Afghanistan, in Iraq. They defend our freedoms. I think if we -- you know, if they do that, they ought to be able to buy a hunting rifle. I just...


ACOSTA: What about an AR-15?


JOHNSON: ... support that law.

ACOSTA: An AR-15, too -- 18-year-olds with AR-15s, that's OK?

JOHNSON: I think what we ought to do is, we ought to really detail what the operational characteristics are of weapons, rather than just a scary name or a gun that looks a little bit scarier.

There are plenty of hunting weapons that basically have the same operational characteristics. Let's define the operational characteristics. And it's already illegal to have a fully automatic weapon. It's illegal to convert a legal weapon into an automatic weapon.


So, I would much rather concentrate on verifiable operational characteristics, and then we could evaluate weapons based on that.


Senator Ron Johnson, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Have a great day.

ACOSTA: All right, you, too. Thank you, sir.

President Trump last night announcing his reelection slogan, much to the surprise of his team, and taking aim at our next guest, Senator Elizabeth Warren.


TRUMP: Can you imagine covering Bernie or Pocahontas? Pocahontas, how about that?



President Trump is already setting his sights on 2020, no surprise, calling out potential Democratic challengers during his rally Saturday night.


TRUMP: Can you imagine covering Bernie or Pocahontas, Pocahontas? Can you imagine having to cover Elizabeth Warren for four years?



ACOSTA: The president also emphasized his new diplomatic approach to North Korea, touting support from regional allies.

It's a strategy Democratic lawmakers, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, have been urging on for months, calling on the president to try negotiating, instead of threatening and taunting the North Korean leader.


So are the president's fiercest critics now on board with the new strategy?


ACOSTA: And joining us now is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator Warren, thanks for joining us on STATE OF THE UNION.

Want to start with North Korea.


ACOSTA: And South Korea is giving credit to President Trump's leadership and rhetoric for this meeting, I guess what the White House refers to as strategic rhetoric.

But the Democrats have been saying that the president's talk of little rocket man and fire and fury was the wrong tactic and risked starting a war.

Has the president's strategic rhetoric, as they call it in the White House, opened this door to a diplomatic breakthrough? Does he deserve some credit here, do you think?

WARREN: Look, I am very glad to see this administration move toward a diplomatic approach to North Korea.

And the principal reason for that is, there is no military-only solution to the problems presented by North Korea. And I'm not the only one saying that. That is exactly what our generals in the field say.

So, it's good to move to diplomacy. The problem right now is that these are very complicated negotiations. There are a lot of issues involved in them.

And our State Department has just been decimated. We don't have an ambassador to South Korea. We don't have an assistant secretary for this entire region. There are all kinds of spaces that are open at the State Department generally, and particularly in this region.

And that matters. When you're going into negotiations like this, it matters to have the people there first who are working and who are advising about the economy and about our military objectives and who know the players and know the history.

So, here's what -- here's what I'm concerned about. I want the president to succeed. When the president succeeds in negotiations like this, the United States succeeds. It makes us safer. It makes the whole world safer.

But I am very worried that he's going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of.

ACOSTA: And another big issue we're going to be talking about this week is this bill that you are very interested in.

The Senate -- the Senate voted, as you know, to advance a new banking bill that would ease regulations on banks with assets that are less than $250 billion, with the support of 16 Senate Democrats.

You've been calling out members of your party who voted in favor of this bill, many of whom are facing difficult reelection bids in states that President Trump won.

Do you think that voters should hold any Democrat who votes for this plan accountable at the polls? Would they be responsible if another financial crisis were to occur?

WARREN: Well, look, let's talk about what the bill does.

And what this bill says, here it is. On the 10th anniversary of the biggest crash since the Great Depression, this Senate is now advancing a bill that would celebrate that anniversary by saying that 25 of the 40 largest banks in America -- these 25 banks together sucked down more than $50 billion in taxpayer bailouts.

Why? Because the economy needed them to stay up and running. Nobody went to jail. And this bill says, let's let those 25 banks be regulated just like they were tiny little community banks.

I got to tell you, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar bank is not a community bank.

So, what's the consequence of doing that, plus other changes that helped the remaining banks? The answer is, it puts it at much greater -- it puts us at greater risk that -- that there will be another taxpayer bailout, that there will be another crash and another taxpayer bailout.


WARREN: And you don't have to take my word for it. This is what the Congressional Budget Office said.

ACOSTA: But what about your fellow -- but what about your fellow Democrats going along with this? Are you disappointed that your colleagues are going to be voting in favor of this legislation?

After -- after all, you said that these sorts of loose sort of rules on Wall Street helped cause the financial crisis in 2007-2008.

WARREN: And that's true. It did help cause the crisis.

Frankly, I just don't see how any senator can vote to weaken the regulations on Wall Street banks.

And it's not just that. Can I point out a couple of things else that are in this bill that hasn't gotten much attention?

ACOSTA: Well, I definitely want to move on to...

WARREN: This...

ACOSTA: I want to move on to something that we want to talk about on the economic front.

And that is the president really reaching out to blue-collar workers with these tariffs that were announced last week. Are you worried that Democrats are losing these blue-collar workers that were so critical to the president's victory in 2016? And can your party bring them back?


Joe Biden seems to be trying awfully hard to reach out to those kinds of voters. What do you think about that?

WARREN: I -- I don't think this is a political question.

What I think is -- I've been a longtime critic of America's trade policy. I think we've been negotiating trade deals for years that benefit giant multinational corporations and that don't help workers, don't help small businesses, and often don't even help consumers.

What I'd like to see us do is rethink all of our trade policy. And I have to say, when President Trump says he's putting tariffs on the table, I think tariffs are one part of reworking our trade policy overall. We need a trade policy that's comprehensive, one that makes a distinction between the trading partners that follow the rules and the trading partners that break the rules like China, but a comprehensive trade strategy that isn't all about multinational corporations' profits, that's really about American workers and American small businesses.

That's the kind of trade policy we need.

ACOSTA: And I know we're pressed for time, but I have to ask you, because I cover the White House, and I hear the president going after you from time to time, referring to you as Pocahontas.

I know, recently, you were speaking about your Native American heritage. Does that get under your skin when he does that? And do you want to run for president in 2020?

WARREN: I am not running for President in 2020.

But let me tell you my story. You know, my mother and dad were born and raised in Oklahoma. My father fell in love with my mother when they were both still teenagers. And he was just head over heels over her. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American.

And, ultimately, my parents went out...

ACOSTA: So, does that bother you, when the president calls you Pocahontas? Do you think that he is being disrespectful to Native Americans when he does that? Doesn't that bother you because of your family's heritage?

WARREN: Look, this is -- this is what I was trying to tell you, is about my family's story, because my family's story is deeply a part of me and a part of my brothers. It's what we learned from our parents. It's what we learned from our grandparents. It's what we learned from our aunts and our uncles.

I went to speak to Native American tribal leaders, and I made a promise to them, that every time President Trump wants to try to throw out some kind of racial slur, he wants to try to attack me, I'm going to use it as a chance to lift up their stories.

And I'm going to do that right now by pointing out that more than half of all Native women in this country have been the victims of sexual violence. And more than half of them are attacked by non-Natives. And the American government is doing nothing about this. This is an issue that's happening right here in America.

Native women are subjected to sexual violence at rates much higher than any other group in our country. We need to put some focus on this, and we need to make some changes on this. We owe it to people living in Native communities.

ACOSTA: All right, important message.

Senator Warren, thank you very much for your time this morning.

WARREN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We appreciate it.

WARREN: Thank you.


ACOSTA: Look who's back on the trail, President Trump back on the stump last night, as if he's ever left, bragging about himself, going off-script, taking aim at his critics.

Is this a preview for 2018 and beyond?

That's next.




TRUMP: Conor Lamb -- Lamb the sham, right, Lamb the sham -- he's trying to act like a Republican, so he gets -- he won't give me one vote.

Look, I don't know him. Looks like a nice guy. I hear he's nice- looking. I think I'm better-looking than him. I do.


TRUMP: I do. I do. I do. And he's slightly younger than me, slightly.


ACOSTA: Entertaining, as always, the president of the United States.

We're here with our political panel to talk about this.

Lamb the sham, could he have done better than that, Anthony Scaramucci?


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You know, he could have probably -- look, I -- look, I think he's the best nicknamer ever. You know what I mean?

I'm glad I'm on his team. This way, I don't have to get the nickname.


ACOSTA: Right. Not yet anyway.


SCARAMUCCI: Yes, exactly, not yet. Most people are in therapy after the nickname, though.

ACOSTA: But...

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But what is interesting about this race is that the Democrats have actually put up a candidate who will campaign like a Republican, who fits the districts.

It's interesting to me that he goes through such great lengths to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi, saying that he wouldn't support her as leader. And that's why this race is competitive.

The more the Democrats realize that they need to move to the center and quit playing these identity politics and pandering to the progressive base, the more successful they will be.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I mean, I think that's a little unfair, in the sense that Conor Lamb is running as very pro-union. He has a series of proposals on health care. Even on guns, he has a different positions than a lot of Republicans, in that he's for background checks.

He's a -- he's...

ACOSTA: He's very anti-Nancy Pelosi.


TANDEN: He is -- he is -- he is in a conservative district.

And let's just remember, this is a district that Donald Trump won by 20 points. The Democrat is running neck and neck. Donald Trump had to campaign in this district, which should be a warning sign to Republicans that, if this district goes, their House majority could go as well.

ACOSTA: How bad is it, Anthony, if he -- if he loses this race, if the Republican loses the race?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think -- I think that's going to be the, you know, proverbial canary in the coal mine, right? And so if they lose this race they've got to hit a reset and figure out what they're going to do around the country. That's the heartland of Pennsylvania.

You know, my family is originally from the northeastern part of that state and so I predict that he -- you know, they will win the race. The Republicans will win that race. It's closer than it should be and if necessary the president needs to put more resources there to help that candidate.


ACOSTA: Bakari, how big of a deal is it? If this happens how big of a deal is it?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not -- I'm not a big fan of moral victories but I am watching this race to see how close it is.

I mean, this wave is coming whether or not Republicans want to be a part of it or recognize it or not and we -- you know, you can't use Donald Trump's approval ratings to gauge how he will fair in 2020. I think that's unfair. There's no correlation there. But what you can use his approval ratings to show is how well they will -- they will do in the midterms. And I think that Republicans will -- Democrats -- excuse me -- will come very close to taking back the majority because of the simple fact that Donald Trump has a poor leadership style which is reflective in his approval ratings.

ACOSTA: I want to get to --

SCARAMUCCI: Are we allowed to rebut that or no?

SELLERS: In a minute. In a minute.



ACOSTA: Well, let me play this. I want to play this because it was amazing, you know, here we are, we're a little ways off from 2020 and yet the president unveiled his reelection slogan.

Let's listen.


TRUMP: Our new slogan when we start running in -- can you believe it -- two years from now, is going to be, keep America great, exclamation point. Keep America great!


ACOSTA: I'm glad he demonstrated with the exclamation point is because I forgot. Better than a question mark, I suppose. But "MAGA" versus "KAG" -- Anthony, help us out here.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. I was -- I was in his office when he was formulating the "Make America Great" and he's a great marketer and we were talking about the "Make America Great" slogan.

This slogan will catch on just like that one. Even back then people were great controversy, America's already great, so on and so forth. But at the end of the day, even the "MAGA" thing has caught on in his base.

As it relates to his leadership style. Let's look at the economic dashboard for a second. If I were a Democratic strategist, I would be sort of worried about where disposable income is right now. That tax plan downloaded about $30 billion of income spread out across the United States and in districts where the Democrats need to win and so people usually vote with their pocketbook --


SELLERS: But let me -- to chime in -- to chime in --


SCARAMUCCI: I would be worried -- I would be worried. You guys consistently underestimate the president.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, the economy is doing great but still the president's approval ratings are so low and that is very worrisome.

SELLERS: But the problem, though, is, I think -- I think that Republican's hypocrisy sometimes is as thick as bologna sandwiches as we say down south.

But the fact is we've had 84 straight months when Barack Obama was president of job growth and creation. The president, the 44th president, Barack Obama inherited an economy that was in a recession.

Drug it out. He created jobs in the auto industry. Saved our auto industry.

I mean, so to talk about where the economy is now -- when Barack Obama was sworn in the stock market was at 6,000. So it was at --


SELLERS: I'm not talking about Barack Obama I'm talking about --

SCARAMUCCI: The 2018 midterm election --

SELLERS: But I'm just saying you have to recognize Donald Trump --

SCARAMUCCI: -- you guys consistently underestimate the guy --


ACOSTA: What about those job numbers on Friday? They were --

TANDEN: Let me just say one thing. That's true.

I think Donald Trump made the point that wages are the pig issue because there was big problems. There are big gains under both Barack Obama and Trump on jobs.

The wages have been stuck. They were stuck on Friday. They've been stuck.

I think that will be the big question about whether wages move up. But let me just say one thing about this on the tax cut. You don't have to listen to Democrats on the tax cut.

Republicans ran ad after ad after ad in Conor Lamb's district, a district Trump won on the tax cut and it wasn't working. It wasn't moving the needle at all because those tax cuts are still not popular.

People feel like they're not benefiting. And so it's -- so they had to move that and start -- they just stop running tax cut ads. This is an in effective argument for Republicans.

SELLERS: It really is.

CARPENTER: But you'll notice in that rally where Donald Trump --


SCARAMUCCI: OK. So -- the economy's not doing well?

TANDEN: You just talked about (INAUDIBLE) --

CARPENTER: Let me have a second.

Donald Trump is running. He's not going to run in two years. He was testing out (INAUDIBLE) in that rally closing (ph) on a new slogan.

ACOSTA: He never stopped running, really.

CARPENTER: You'll notice he didn't talk a ton about the tax cuts. He's (INAUDIBLE) new (INAUDIBLE) I thought it was very interesting how he had a big emphasis on war on drugs, even suggesting the death penalty for drug dealers.

ACOSTA: Let's -- but let's do this real quick.

CARPENTER: He's way out in front on this.

ACOSTA: Because one thing he is selling is himself and he talked about this last night that he's thrown big presidential out the window. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: Remember I used to say how easy it is to be presidential but you'd all be out of here right now. You'd be so bored.

That's much easier than doing what I have to do, because -- but this is much more effective. Don't forget this got us elected. If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn't be here tonight?



ACOSTA: Anthony, I have to ask you this. There are children standing behind the president of the United States and the president is saying I don't have to be presidential.

What kind of example does that set?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean that's because you're, again, this is the mistake everybody's making about him. He's obviously very presidential but he's also --

ACOSTA: In what way? In what way?

SCARAMUCCI: What are you talking about? I mean, -- OK. Hold on one second. Let's go to the North Korean situation. I think he's breaking new presidential ground in the North Korea situation.

TANDEN: I think that's --


SCARAMUCCI: There's a -- OK. Well, you may think it's bad but guess what? I happen to think it's very good. Because this is an opportunity now to denuclearize the peninsula --


SCARAMUCCI: -- hold on. You guys are asking me the question.

CARPENTER: Because he's president everything he does is presidential.


SCARAMUCCI: You guys don't like -- you don't like his style but he's making a very big point.

SELLERS: Let me just --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm trying to help out my Democratic friends here.

SELLERS: If Barack Obama --

SCARAMUCCI: You're underestimating the guy.

SELLERS: If Barack Obama -- Barack Obama --

ACOSTA: Taking the bait again.

SELLERS: If Barack Obama --


SCARAMUCCI: Taking the bait.

SELLERS: -- paid off a porn star $130,000.00, if he cheated on three wives -- I mean, listen, the list goes on and on. If he had a handful of advisers that were indicted or pled guilty then that would be pitchforks in front of the White House. Presidential is not something that's associated with Donald Trump.

ACOSTA: Bakari (ph) --


ACOSTA: This is a good -- this is a good segue.

SCARAMUCCI: He's going to win again in 2020. I mean, we may have to get a couch in here for some of you people. I mean, just --

CARPENTER: What is this kind of talk that everything is like if you raise an objection and you don't like him, you need therapist, get on the couch.

SELLERS: You can't -- but you can't -- you can't rebut anything that I said about being presidential.

SCARAMUCCI: No. I actually can. Let's talk about it. OK?

SELLERS: Paying off a porn star is presidential?

SCARAMUCCI: Deregulation -- he didn't pay off a porn star.

CARPENTER: His lawyer did.


TANDEN: Do you know he didn't pay off the porn star?

ACOSTA: You can't say definitively -- he did not pay off Stormy Daniels, right? You can't --

SCARAMUCCI: Hold on a second. Well, Michael Cohen can say that definitively.

CARPENTER: Definitively --


SCARAMUCCI: Why was that payment made?

Michael Cohen has been On the Record definitively saying -- you got to ask Michael Cohen why the payment was paid but it was paid by Michael Cohen with Michael Cohen's money and so at the end of the day I would be very careful if I was Stormy Daniels --

ACOSTA: Yes because the check doesn't have the president's signature on it.

TANDEN: There's a side agreement that's physically with Donald Trump.

SCARAMUCCI: No. Let's see -- let's see -- let's see

CARPENTER: I can tell you what we can definitively say --


SCARAMUCCI: Let's bring it back in. The guy is presidential because he is the president --

CARPENTER: No, that's not how it works.

SCARAMUCCI: The economy is booming --


ACOSTA: We're going to have -- we're going to have more to talk about this is the next --

TANDEN: That's called psychology (ph). That a definition of a psychology (ph) right (ph) there (ph).

ACOSTA: All right. Everyone stick around. Hold on.

President Trump also brought up --


ACOSTA: -- Melania Trump last night. Anthony would want you to weigh on that -- saying her life has been not so easy. What could he possibly be referring to? That's next.




TRUMP: When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem? No, no, no. We do not.

I said, huh? Big country. 1.4 billion people, right?

Not much of a drug problem. I said what do you attribute that to? Well, the death penalty.

So, honestly, I don't know that the United States, frankly, is ready for it. They should be ready for it.


ACOSTA: President Trump heaping praise on the Chinese justice system.

Amanda Carpenter, floating the prospect of executing drug dealers in this country. What's going on here?

CARPENTER: I thought -- I thought this part of the discussion was fascinating.

Was it extreme? Yes. But he is absolutely on to something in pushing the envelope on this issue? Absolutely.

I mean, people are dying in their cars, in the streets as a result of this opioid crisis. But here's my question, the drug dealer in this case is big pharma. I want a discussion of how we stop these drugs from just flowing through the country and being abused in such ways.

This isn't a case where we're going to, you know, track down a gang leader and throw him in jail and incarcerate him and give the death penalty. It's much more complicated. And if he wants to take on big pharma for this, I'm all for it.

ACOSTA: Anthony, you're opposed to the death penalty.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Listen, I'm totally opposed to the death penalty. I would tell my Republican friends it's the most uneven application of the law in the United States.

You know, 30 years ago I did a paper on it. If you're smart and you can lawyer up, you don't get the death penalty. If you have a low I.Q. and you're in a rural place and frankly, if you're African- American -- and you know this, Bakari -- you end up getting the death penalty.

So to me I think it's completely unfair. As it relates specifically to the drug situation, the president is on to something and we have to figure out how to cut the source and we have to be aggressive about it. But I'm not a big fan of the death penalty because it doesn't -- it doesn't apply itself evenly across the society.

CARPENTER: It doesn't (ph) apply --


SELLERS: So -- so one of the things that we have to be careful about and I think that Donald Trump, I wouldn't necessarily expect him to necessarily be a student of history, but we've gone down this path before. And I think that what we saw with Ronald Reagan's war on drugs, what we saw with the '94 crime bill in Bill Clinton, was bad precedent, bad law, bad policy.

Because what we did was we broke families apart. And during that time period, we didn't treat the crack epidemic the same way that we're treating the opioid epidemic and what we have is entire generations of individuals who have been taking out of their home, who have been put away for years upon years upon years simply because they're dealing marijuana.

We have to have a holistic approach to this and I think that the path that the president is going down, I wish that someone -- if I could -- if I could talk to President Trump about one thing, it would be about this. How to unravel this issue? How to talk about this issue in a way that not only endears himself to minority communities that are effected and those individuals like you're talking about but also creates policy moving forward.

ACOSTA: And, Neera, one of the --


ACOSTA: I want to jump ahead because one of the other things he talked about last night was the wall. It's one of his most popular lines obviously in his campaign speech.

We have a little bit of that. Let's play what he had to say last night about that.


TRUMP: I will say we will build the wall. We have to build the wall.

We have to build the wall. And the Democrats are holding it back.


You know, we had a deal, 25 billion and, by the way, if I get 25 billion for the wall, you're going to have a lot of change? You're going to have a lot of change.

I've got -- I've got all the big builders. The best ones in the world. I know the best builders.

You know, we want to use the good builders, not the bad ones.


ACOSTA: Neera, he's got all the best builders.

TANDEN: I'm glad he's got the good ones and not the bad ones.

I would say, there's no wall. Who knows if there will ever be a wall? I doubt there will be a wall.

ACOSTA: He's going to California on Tuesday to look at prototypes of the wall.

TANDEN: The odd thing about this whole situation is that he had a deal in front of him -- a deal not many Democrats really liked -- but a deal to do essentially some investment in the wall for DACA, Dreamers, the president refused that deal.

Actually let me be clear about that. He accepted the deal, John Kelly called four hours later who seemed to speak for the president and said he doesn't want the deal.

So the president himself is basically at this point made the Dreamers be out there on their own and he isn't getting the wall. So I would say that's not the greatest negotiating skills. Maybe (ph) made people a little worried about his negotiating skills in North Korea.

ACOSTA: I want to make time to get to this because we were talking about this in the last segment, Anthony.

Let's talk about the president and what he had to say last night about the first lady. This was interesting.


TRUMP: Take Melania, great -- great first lady.

We take -- she's great. She's great. She is great.

You think her life is so easy, folks, not so easy?


TANDEN: Nope --

ACOSTA: Anthony, the president on his way up to this event was asked by CNN yesterday about whether he had a relationship with Stormy Daniels. He did not answer the question.

Do you know whether or not he had a relationship with Stormy Daniels?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know that situation. But let's talk about Melania for a second. OK?

She's a wonderful person. She's a great mom. She's a great friend.

I got to know her on the campaign and even though I was only in the White House for 11 days, I had the opportunity to have dinner with her and we traveled on Air Force One together. She has a ton of grace, a ton of dignity and I think when you talk about the opioid situation, she's a deployable asset for the White House that they should get out there to speak in those communities.

And so when he says that her life is not easy, I know what it's related to. They're taking incoming from everywhere and the negative press and the biased related to her. You see the body language --

SELLERS: No. But, I mean, Melania wasn't an original birther as well.



TANDEN: Hold on -- hold on --

ACOSTA: I want to give Neera the last comment. Anthony --


TANDEN: OK. Whatever you want to say about Melania, it's not the outside world that's affecting Melania, it's the president's own actions, the 16 women who accused him of credible -- credibly accuse him of assault and the Stormy Daniels situation.

SCARAMUCCI: Look, I'm going to --

TANDEN: So this is Donald Trump --

SCARAMUCCI: -- speak on her behalf. She knows a lot of that stuff is actually not true.

CARPENTER: Let me --


TANDEN: How do you know she knows it's not true?

SCARAMUCCI: Because I've talked to her about it. I talked to her about it.

TANDEN: You can't say it's not true. So you don't know --


CARPENTER: Take Melania out of this situation --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, let me tell you something. If a woman says that she met Melania in front of Trump Tower when she's never takes anybody in front of Trump Tower ---

TANDEN: And Stormy Daniels she has --


CARPENTER: The bottom line of that situation is that you have a case where the president's lawyer paid a woman silent --

SCARAMUCCI: You guys -- you guys -- it's a double standard. I love --

CARPENTER: -- to suppress information from the voters, that is why it matters. It's not about Trump's --


SCARAMUCCI: All right (INAUDIBLE) because the double standard and hypocrisy in Washington is like literally off the charts. OK?

ACOSTA: Anthony --


SCARAMUCCI: It was OK to protect the Clinton family --

CARPENTER: It wasn't OK. That wasn't OK.

SCARAMUCCI: It's OK to protect the Obama family. Let's protect -- let's protect the people in the Trump --

CARPENTER: Trump could not -- could not --


ACOSTA: Let's give Anthony the last word. We're going to give --

CARPENTER: -- lying around.

ACOSTA: Anthony travelled the farthest. He gets the last word.

All right. Thanks very much --



ACOSTA: President Trump -- I think he did.

President Trump knows who he wants to face in 2020.


TRUMP: Wouldn't we love to run against Oprah? I would love it. I would love it.


ACOSTA: Oprah Winfrey opens up about her political future and Donald Trump in a brand-new CNN interview that is next.




TRUMP: I'd love Oprah to win. I'd love to beat Oprah.

I know her weakness. No, no, I know her weakness.


ACOSTA: That was President Trump taking aim at Oprah Winfrey last night. Oprah insisted she is not running.

Take a listen to what she told our very own Van Jones.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: We live on a planet where there is darkness and light.

You know, one of the things I am not running for office so I'm not letting you go there, but if I were running for office and I would say to whoever is going to run for office, do not give your energy to the other side.

Do not spend all your time talking about your opponents. Do not give your energy to that which you really don't believe in. Do not spend an ounce of your time on that.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: Well, help us -- help us though, listen --

WINFREY: Don't spend your time on that.

JONES: You preach and I love it, this is what I need but let me push back for a second because, you know, I've got my love army. I go out there. I try to tell people let's not become what we're fighting.

Let's not be what we're fighting. You know, they tell me -- they tell me, shut up, Van, because we got bigots out here, we've got Nazis out here, we're getting bullied.

We are tired of going high. We want to go low and kick them in the private parts. So --

WINFREY: There will be some people who do that but you will not eventually win.


ACOSTA: And here with us now is Van Jones.

Van, what did you think? That looked like a great interview. JONES: Listen, when we first reached out to her, we were thinking if we could get five minutes, 10 minutes with Oprah, she came -- she stayed the whole hour, she took over the show. She brought Ava DuVernay with her. It is an hour of that kind of stuff in terms of -- she's at a different level.

I mean, she is just at a completely different level, the understanding of the country and -- look, she says she's not running, I believe she's not running but, man, Trump better watch himself.


He keeps asking for it. I think she'd run over him like a Mack truck. I mean, she wouldn't -- when she starts talking --


ACOSTA: She's not going to stay silent it sounds like.

JONES: Listen, when she starts talking -- I mean, the entire audience just gets it. I mean, she hypnotizes you, man.

She's -- her understanding of what mistakes Democrats are making I hope Democrats watch this interview, because she just points out we spend so much time defining Trump as what we're against. We never define what we're for and that's not going to work.

I mean, she -- listen, I'm not saying it's because it's my show. She took it over. It's the Oprah show, but she is unbelievable in this interview, for an hour, not three minutes, not eight minutes, an hour, you haven't seen this kind of stuff from Oprah Winfrey since she left the daily show.

ACOSTA: Fantastic. We're all going to be watching, Van. It's a great gig, great interview. You can see the full interview with Van Jones with Oprah Winfrey on our special episode of "THE VAN JONES SHOW." That is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Great job, Van.

And President Trump is touting meeting with Kim Jong-un on Twitter but some are doubting the historic summit will ever take place, that's next.