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Conway Rips Into Stores Dropping Ivanka's Brand; McCain Spars With White House On Yemen Raid; Sessions Confirmed As Attorney General; Supreme Court Says Attacks On Judges "Demoralizing"; Trump Meeting With Airline Executives; Powerful Snowstorm Slams Northeast. Aired 10:00-10:30a ET
Aired February 9, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTHA PEASE, CEO/CO-FOUNDER, DEMANDWORKS.COM: -- and family members who have gone on to have profitable ventures from various items. And -- but most of the time, I think it's fair to say that non-profit and charity has been involved with those efforts as well. This is unusual for sure. What's interesting is that in spite of the agitation from Trump's side towards Nordstrom's for example, Nordstrom really isn't seeing a decline in their business or in their standing in the marketplace. I'm not sure in the future what these kinds of attacks on brands will mean for brands.
But so far, we're not seeing that it's a particularly distressing outcome for brands. What is interesting, I think, is that the world is kind of being turned on its head. I mean, the reason Nordstrom's is pulling Ivanka's brand is purportedly because sales have declined. So you have to kind of question what the status is of the Trump brand in general. Is it on the decline? Is the impact of this actually, you know, having the reverse effect on the Trump brand and creating some decline?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM WEEKEND ANCHOR: All right.
JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR OF CNN NEWSROOM: Martha Pease, Chris Draft, thank you so much. We're to learn a lot because there are going to be a lot more examples of this going forward I think. The next hour of Newsroom begins right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. I'm so glad you're with us. It is 10:00 a.m. Eastern and we begin with breaking news. President Trump on the attack this morning over the raid in Yemen that left one navy SEAL dead. The White House calls it a success. John McCain not seeing it that way.
BERMAN: This is what Donald Trump wrote this morning, he wrote, "Senator McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media, only emboldens the enemy. He's been losing so long, he doesn't know how to win anymore. Just look at the mess our country is in, bogged down and conflict all over the place. Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission," he's talking about Ryan on the Navy SEAL. According to General Mattis, not on a failure. "Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again."
Now, we just got a statement moments ago from Senator McCain. That is our breaking news. Let's get right to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Manu, what are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: John McCain responding after this back and forth, remember earlier this week he said that he cannot call that raid in Yemen a success, given that it resulted in the loss, an American life, of course that's starting that chain of events that you guys just cited. But I had a chance to talked to him earlier today, he said he's going to refer to his statement from his press secretary, his press secretary just putting out a statement -- a cautious statement, not trying to escalate this fight with the president of the United States, saying that -- saying that the president -- Senator McCain will continue to execute his oversight duties as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and support the brave men and women serving our nation in uniform.
So a cautious response. I tried to talk to Senator McCain about this as well just moments ago. He did not answer directly, but he did go after Donald Trump on the issue that he has long criticized Trump on, on Russia. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Are you concerned about -- was this -- should they have authorized this raid to begin with?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I've said everything that I have to say about it.
RAJU: Do you think it's a --it was a mistake?
RAJU: Do you think it was a mistake?
MCCANI: I've already said. Really, I've said everything there is to say about it.
RAJU: The Russia Review Act, you signed on to this bill to give congress a say and whether or not --
RAJU: Why is that necessary to do?
MCCAIN: Oh, because we're very concerned about lifting sanctions. The president's recent statement about equating the United States and Russia.
RAJU: And you're concerned that the administration may -- did this unilaterally?
MCCAIN: It's not I'm "concerned," it's that I want to make sure that we have this ability as congress, because none of it, because the president has made conflicting statements about it.
RAJU: Uh-hmm. And Donald Trump equating the United States with Vladimir Putin?
MCCAIN: I've said before, it's almost -- it's really incredible that the president of the United States would equate the greatest nation on earth, that has the greatest record of helping people all over the world, with that of Vladimir Putin, who is a butcher and a killer.
RAJU: So, two things to unpack there. One, he did not want to escalate this fight over Yemen, because of the fact that it did result in the loss of American life, this is something that's obviously very sensitive and something that he does not want to continue on this path, even as Sean Spicer demanded an apology from people like John McCain who did not believe that this was a successful mission, but not afraid to go after the president on Russia.
There is a new bill that was introduced by John McCain and six other republican and democratic senators to give congress veto power if the president were to lift sanctions on Russia. And as he said right there, very concerned about those comments that Donald Trump made equating what Vladimir Putin has done, with what the United States has done which is one reason why they're pushing hard on that legislation. So, expect to hear more of that in the coming days and weeks guys.
BERMAN: Manu Raju on Capitol. Senator McCain certainly right in the middle of the mix right now, and as he said in that statement going to continue to issue his oversight responsibilities as chairman of the house of -- House Armed Services Committee. Manu, thanks so much. I want to get to the White House for that side of the story. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there. Jeff, what are you hearing?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump is right now meeting with airline executives, John and Poppy. And this is one of the continuation of his CEOs but that is not what he's been talking about all morning long. He has been engaging with John McCain on Capitol Hill really in a way that we've not really seen a president engage with him. But also, his Supreme Court confirmation fight.
Now suddenly looking very different this morning. The president was out early this morning sort of pushing back at Senator Richard Blumenthal who is saying that Judge Neil Gorsuch who of course is the Supreme Court nominee, was, you know, disheartened by the comments that the president has been making. So, the White House is right now confused about what the president is doing quite frankly. The strategy here was to put the judge forward, have him speak to senators openly and honestly, have him talk about, you know, his record on the bench.
But the president this morning sort of pushing back at these comments. It's creating some discord inside the west wing here. So we will see if the president talks about that this morning. And in about 30 minutes or so he's also scheduled to confirm and in fact swear in the Attorney General Jeff Sessions here. So a lot going on in the west wing this morning. But not as smooth as they hoped this Thursday would be rolling out, John and Poppy.
BERMAN: All right, Jeff Zeleny for us in Washington. I said you were at the White House, you're not in fact there but you're nearby which is great. Jeff, great to have you with us. Let's talk all about all of this. We're joined by historian Julian Zelizer, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen is with us, CNN Political Analyst and Washington Bureau Chief for the Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich. And professor of Constitutional Law, Tulane University Stephen Griffin -- Steven Griffin.
David, let me start with you on this back and forth between President Trump and John McCain. There's several levels going on here. Number one, let's just get to Senator McCain's response where he says he will continue to enforce his oversight responsibilities as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. As the chair of Armed Services as the sitting senator, is it within his rights, David, to comment on the success or failure of a military mission?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Absolutely. This is one of the most powerful positions in the senate. It's vital to our National Security. And we all -- we regularly have, you know, debates back and forth whether a raid or particular military operation was a good idea or bad idea. As I recall, Donald Trump made a huge point during the campaign why he thought the war against Iraq was so mistaken.
Well, you know, when Sean Spicer came out yesterday and said, you know, when somebody gets killed like this and use -- and the -- and critics speak up, it does a disservice to the person who has been killed. Well, my goodness, what about the Iraq war and how he handled that? How about Benghazi, you know, where Donald Trump went back and forth? And I think Donald Trump was right to be -- and have those arguments. But having said that, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
You know, so I do think that it was absolutely within John McCain's purview, and it's legitimate. And the whole notion of trying to shut down your critics, as Sean Spicer did yesterday and as Trump is doing again today, is so antithetical to what everything America stands for, in a robust, vibrant democracy.
HARLOW: Stephen, there's also the issue of shutting down your critics when you're actually not stating fact in order to do so. I mean, the president also tweeting this morning about Richard Blumenthal, the senator, saying that, you know, that Judge Gorsuch said, you know, that he was displeased and -- about the comments about the judiciary branch, alluding to what the president said about these judges. The president comes out and tweets that he's misrepresenting what Judge Gorsuch said. But judge Gorsuch's own spokesman came out and said, nope, that's true, that's exactly what the justice said. What do you make of it?
GERGEN: Well, I make of it that Judge Gorsuch, he hasn't objected to it. He had, you know, this happened from 24 hours ago, his own team has confirmed it. I don't know why the president is questioning the veracity of that. I can understand why he's not pleased. You know, I'm sure he's surprised that this is a man he's put forward and that expressed total faith in him, I'm sure he feels Gorsuch turned on him. But nonetheless, I also understand that Judge Gorsuch had wasn't in a dilemma.
He's supposed to be having honest conversations and this is pretty darn important when the president attacks the judiciary branch. So, I think that probably Judge Gorsuch has gone up in the estimation of members of the senate, he's gone down in the estimation of the White House.
HARLOW: And Stephen, if you can hear me, this is the constitutional law professor, weigh in on that.
STEPHEN GRIFFIN, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Well, I -- the thought that occurs to me is that the Trump administration's immigration ban is rapidly morphing into a much bigger constitutional battle and constitutional problem. And it's all because of the actions -- avoidable actions of the president himself. The president himself is creating new -- a new controversy on top of the immigration controversy that he's already involved in, namely a controversy having to do with whether he's going to launch an attack on the independence of the judiciary.
Something where he's going to get bipartisan pushback. And I have a strong feeling that Judge Gorsuch's comments are widely shared on the federal judiciary. And the federal judiciary is ultimately something that President Trump is going to need to enforce really anything he wants to do. So it's as if President Trump is not getting any good legal advice.
BERMAN: Jackie, if we can, I want to go back to the back and forth, or really just the forth that the president is having with Senator John McCain right now. And one aspect of what he said about Senator McCain which he said before, what he said, Senator McCain has been losing so long, he doesn't know how to win. Adding this personal, you know, attack in what is a discussion about a military operation where a navy SEAL died. I don't think we should let that pass by lightly.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Donald -- that's Donald Trump's M.O. I'm not saying it's all right. I'm just saying that that's what he does, he attacks people personally. I mean, we're talking about a man who said John McCain isn't a war hero or something to that effect which is just absolutely false and, you know, John McCain deserves, you know, the utmost respect for his service. But Donald Trump just hasn't really thought so.
And He doesn't like -- he doesn't like that John McCain consistently goes after him, not only for this but also on Russia. John McCain has been one of the most and we heard that in his interview with Manu, he's been one of the most outspoken critics of Donald Trump's praise for Vladimir Putin. So this is a relationship that's only going to get worse. But I'll tell you, John McCain isn't going to stop speaking up. So Donald Trump is just going to have to settle in.
HARLOW: Julian Zelizer, the U.S. historian is a --is a professor of presidential history on this panel, weigh in for us on when you've seen a divide like this before when it comes to personal attacks. With many, many times under many, many presidents seen ideological divides and divides on policy, et cetera. But the personal attacks that we're seeing from the president against his fellow republicans in congress and vice versa on the president.
JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I think he's escalating this to a level we haven't seen. We've had vary contentious relations, you know, Richard Nixon and the democratic congress had very little love for each other. Democrats were very vocal about what was wrong with the administration.
HARLOW: This is within this president's own party.
ZELIER: But President Trump has a tendency not just to attack his own party but to do it on very personal levels as he's doing with McCain. The question is, does he become his own worst enemy? As we see, democrats don't look like they're going to line up right now for almost anything that the president sends their way. And so, if he starts to undercut republican support in the senate for his policies, for his nominees, that will be a big problem for the White House.
BERMAN: Even if he loses republican support on Capitol Hill, that is when you might see things like the House oversight committee with Jason Chaffetz actually, you know, exerting oversight over the White House. Like David Gergen, you've worked in a number of administrations, as we like to see -- say. This morning, Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, went on T.V. basically saying that people should go buy Ivanka Trump merchandise. This has to do with the back and forth over Nordstrom's dropping her line, the president criticizing Nordstrom's. Kellyanne Conway went on T.V. this morning. Do we have that sound? Let's play a little bit of that sound if we can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST OF FOX NEWS CHANNEL FOX AND FRIENDS: Just real quick before we talk about Ivanka in what she's going through now, I want you to say if she did, the president pick up the phone or did the judge pick up the phone or did they speak yesterday after Senator Blumenthal came out with his comments?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm not going to comment on that, I just told you that the president is fully confident in Judge Gorsuch. And he's fully confident, I mean, look at this, look at this new pulling data from morning console, this is pretty cool. Look at -- on the blue is how much people support what the president is suing as Keystone XL --
BOLLING: The travel ban.
CONWAY: Oh, Affordable Care Act, century cities, seven predominant countries from entering the U.S., I mean, this is what matters the most because America is paying attention to the way he's communicating, connecting with them on the substance. So --
BOLLING: It's a political morning consult poll if you want to get the details on that.
STEVE DOOCY, CO-HOST OF FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S FOX AND FRIENDS: And a Quinnipiac poll shows that 91 percent of republicans love Donald Trump.
CONWAY: They do. Basically because he keeps his promises, everybody is just shocked that this man is about accountability and deliver. But you asked about Ivanka. I visited with her yesterday. You know, this is a very successful businesswoman, twice. Obviously she has -- she's stepped away from it now but in the past she's helped to run her family's real estate empire. And on the side she developed another fully unbelievably entrepreneurial widely successful business that bears her name.
And I think she's gone from 800 stores to a thousand stores or thousand places where you can buy, you can certainly buy her goods online. And she's just had a very good place, she's incredibly confident, creative, talented woman who also supports her father's presidency and realizes that there are bigger issues that he's going to tackle, and if she decides and it works for her family, she comes inside the White House here, she knows people like Dina Powell and me will be working with her to help on women empowerment (INAUDIBLE)
I do find it ironic that you've got some executives all over the internet bragging about what they've done to her and her line and yet they're using the most prominent woman in Donald Trump's, you know, most prominent (INAUDIBLE)
CONWAY: And they're using her who has been a champion for women empowerment, women in the workplace to get to him. So I think people can see through that. Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell you, I hate shopping but I'm going to go get some on myself today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. David Gergen, that last bit was the part we don't wanted to hear, "Go buy Ivanka Trump's stuff," is that appropriate from a White House staffer at the White House?
GERGEN: Well, we've never seen it before that I can recall. And hawking the goods and the brands of a member of the family traditionally has been considered out of bounds. It crosses in the lines. Listen, I -- you know, all of us are trying to be fair to the president. We're trying to find the things that he does that we can say yes, he did a really good job on that. But sometimes it's a real struggle. You know, attacking the judiciary, attacking Senator McCain in a very personal and insulting way, hawking the goods of the daughter, I must tell you, I think all three are ill-advised in the White House.
You think that some of the republicans who, you know, spent time trying to shut down Elizabeth Warren might spend some time now trying to shut down some of the things that are coming out of this White House, I think they'd be better off -- the country it would be better off.
HARLOW: David Gergen, Jackie Kucinich, Stephen Griffin, Julian Zelizer, thank you all very much. Still to come for us. Fears, winter weather hammering the East Coast, the a powerful storm pushing through right now. Is it just the beginning? We'll have that next.
HARLOW: The president tweeting up a storm this morning and meeting with a number of major airline CEOs at the White House. Jeff Zeleny joins us from the Washington. Good morning.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning. We're about to see some footage of this meeting which is really under way right now. And the president is meeting with airline CEOs as you said, to talk about infrastructure, to talk about rebuilding roads and airplanes and other things. But getting our first glimpse of the meeting as well, the president is also talking about a lot of his own personal experience with airports, with the travel industry.
He says that sometimes pilots simply don't get it right, he referred to his own pilots. He's talking about investing in this. So this is something that the airline industry really is just the latest round of CEOs who have been coming to this White House for the last three weeks or so. But they have very important issues to be discussing with the president. So we're seeing this video here right now.
BERMAN: Let's watch. Let's watch.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. I know so many of you through reading and through business magazines. And you've done an amazing job. And I want to congratulate you. And I know you're under pressure from a lot of foreign elements and foreign carriers. I've been hearing that a little bit. At the same time we want to make life good for them also. They come with big investments. In many cases those investments are made by their governments.
But they are still big investments. I'm thrilled to welcome the leaders of the airline industry to the White House. Your industry supports over 10 million well-paying U.S. jobs and creates almost one trillion in economic activity, which is really big stuff, really amazing. Last year our airlines moved approximately two million people each day in our country which is an incredible number of people and they move them well, despite the bad equipment that airports gave you in many cases because they can't get approvals on anything and you have the regulatory morass that's disaster.
And I can tell you a lot of the new equipment utilities (INAUDIBLE) the day they order it. And that's according to people that know including my pilot. I have a pilot who is a real expert and he said, "Sir, the equipment they're putting on is just the wrong stuff." We'll talk about that. He says, if we're going to modernize our systems we should be using the right equipment. And I know Mr. Tillden is nodding, you know what I mean. And it's one thing to order equipment but let's order the right equipment. Probably the wrong equipment costs more. Probably buy the right
equipment for less money. So we want to talk about that. Because my pilot, he's a smart guy, and knows what's going on, he said, "The government is using the wrong equipment and instituting a massive multibillion dollar project but they're using the wrong type of equipment." So let's find out about that. We want the traveling public to have the greatest customer service with an absolute minimum of delays and with the greatest convenience all at the lowest possible cost.
We want to help you realize these goals and we will indeed help you realize these goals. Airports are very important to me, travel is very important to me. I mean, as an example, somebody was saying yesterday to me that you go to China, you go to Japan, they have fast trains all over the place. We don't have one. I don't want to compete with your business, but we don't have one. And it's the same thing with our airports. Our airports used to be the best.
Now they're at the bottom of the rung. We've spent $6 trillion. Think of it, as of two months ago, $6 trillion in the Middle East. We've got nothing. We've got nothing. We never even kept a small -- just even a little tiny oil well. Not one little -- I said, keep the oil. But we spent right now $6 trillion in the Middle East. We have nothing. And we have an obsolete plane system. We have obsolete airports. We have obsolete trains. We have bad roads. We're going to change all of that, folks.
You're going to be so happy with Trump. I think you already are. So we want to help you realize these goals by rolling back burdensome regulations. And you people are regulated probably as much as almost anybody, although I can think of a couple of industries that are even worse. Lowering the overall tax burden on American businesses big league. That's coming along very well. We're way ahead of schedule, I believe. And we're going to be announcing something I would say over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal in terms of tax.
And developing our aviation infrastructure. Again, I want to thank you all for being here. So I want this to be a meeting of substance. I want to be able to do things for you. The auto industry was in, as they left they said it was the best meeting they've ever had. I even took them into the oval office. The head of Ford, the head of General Motors, the head of Fiat, others, they never saw the Oval Office. I said, you mean they never took you in? Do you know how far it was away from the room? 10 feet.
Ten feet across the hallway. But they never got taken in. I took them in. The auto companies are going to be making massive investments in Michigan and Ohio, in Pennsylvania, a lot of the places where jobs have left. So we're really happy about that. They've been great. Ford is going to build a -- you know, , they cancelled a big plant in a certain place, I won't say where, a $2 billion plant and they're building it in the United States and they're expanding greatly. General Motors saying things, They've been great.
They've been great. I think they'll continue to be good. But we're also going to be great to them. We're going to get rid of a lot of unnecessary regulation. And we're going to make their life a lot easier. They're going to employ a lot more people. So it's working. A lot of businesses are rushing in, they're coming in big league. So with that, I thought what we'll do is perhaps we'll start with Mr. Gray. We'll go around the room and just quickly just say who you are and who you represent. And the big -- the biggest of the airlines here. And you can -- no, stay, stay, stay.
HARLOW: That could happen in live television.
BERMAN: Yes. The pool cut that right there. You know, it is interesting the president there meeting with airlines executives. Jeff Zeleny I think is still with us right now. And what you're seeing here is what we've seen before. You have these corporate heads who are appreciative of outreach. I think they like to be called to the White House and asked for their opinion. Some are supportive of some of the president's decisions.
I have to imagine the airline CEOs, executives there, very supportive of the idea of infrastructure investment, rebuilding the nation's airports, also regulatory reform, I think they support that. But on the other hand, we know for instance the CEO of United has been critical of the president's positions on immigration.
HARLOW: Yes. Absolutely. And what was interesting here, I think let's bring in Jeff Zeleny to join us as well. It's the fact that he said, you know, the auto CEOs (INAUDIBLE) it was the best meeting they'd ever had, that's what they said and he said to the airlines CEO, sort of ingest, sort of seriously, I think you really going to like President Trump, I think you already do.
ZELENY: And I can tell you though with no disagreement at least in that room with that statement because when you're in the state dining room with the president, you don't disagree with his suggestions, that it's the best meeting ever. But the reality here is, there is no question that the CEOs enjoy this outreach. They want tax reform. They want an ease on regulations. But there are also, you know, some issues here, how will all these infrastructure projects be paid for?
Every CEO, every meeting in the White House, a lot of promises are made that gives heartburn to people on Capitol Hill, republicans we're talking about here, how will all of this be paid for? So that is something the White House has yet to articulate here. But also in those remarks, I was still sort of struck by the president, you know, he's talking about oil, other things. Some of the things he repeats from meeting to meeting here just simply aren't reality in terms of U.S. taking the oil, other things. But as this meeting is now still happening, the cameras are out of it, it will be fascinating to find out --