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Tillerson: Meddling Soured U.S.-Russia Relations; Pence Shoots Down 2020 Presidential Run. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired August 7, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- they have the ability to take this opportunity. It's a wonderful thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He took his own money to do right by the fighting men and women with a need, again, that's greatly ignored, PTSD.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, giving back. Such a great story. And it is time now, on that note, for CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, you guys. Have a great day.
KEILAR: You, too.
HARLOW: Good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off. Day 200 of the Trump presidency, and the President insists this is not a day of rest, even though technically he is on vacation.
Working hard from New Jersey, is what the President wrote this morning while bashing the media and claiming that his base is bigger and stronger than ever.
For his part, the Vice President, Mike Pence, wants the world to know that absolutely, positively, unequivocally, he is not contemplating a run for the top job in 2020. Never mind those weekend reports that several big-name Republicans are eyeing presidential campaigns next go-around, whether Trump runs or not.
And there's more fallout from the 2016 race. At a meeting in the Philippines, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his Russian counterpart that Moscow's meddling in the U.S. election badly damaged U.S.-Russia relations.
We are following all of these developments this Monday morning. Let's begin with our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, at the State Department, and then we will go to Joe Johns.
So, Elise, what can you tell us?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, this is the first time Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Lavrov have met since Congress passed those sanctions against Russia for meddling in the U.S. election and President Trump signed them. So, obviously, that is the real elephant in the room, and there was a lot of discussion.
Foreign Minister Lavrov called those sanctions very not only unfriendly but dangerous to the relationship and national security of the entire world. And Secretary Tillerson said that, you know, the American people and the U.S. are very upset about the meddling in the election, and this is a response to that. Take a listen to Secretary Tillerson earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE UNITED STATES: Russian meddling in the elections is -- was certainly a serious incident. We're trying to help them understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the U.S., the American people and the Russian people. That this had created serious mistrust between our two countries, and that we simply have to find some way to deal with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: And there is this tit-for-tat action. Russia took a lot of action against U.S. diplomats in Russia, cutting 755 diplomats. And so this meddling in the election, this mistrust the Secretary talked about, is really the elephant in the room, and clouding all the other discussions, including North Korea, which is the main discussion on the table at this ASEAN meeting in the Philippines.
A lot of action over the weekend. The U.N. Security Council passed the toughest sanctions ever against North Korea on their primary exports, cutting about a third of their revenue, a billion dollars. North Korea today, coming back with a blistering response, saying that it will take action, warning against the U.S., and also saying that its nuclear program and its missiles are never going to be on the negotiating table.
For his part, Secretary Tillerson said the U.S. would be willing to talk, but North Korea is going to have to halt those missile tests to show that it's ready for a diplomatic solution. Poppy.
HARLOW: Quite a divide, growing bigger and bigger. Elise Labott, reporting for us in Washington. Thank you very much.
Meantime, the President is spending Day 200 on the job, technically on vacation but he says not so much. He's also spending it on Twitter. Getting some messages directly from the President this morning.
Joe Johns is in Bridgewater, New Jersey, very near where the President is on this working vacation. What are we hearing?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing we know for sure, Poppy, is that the president is tweeting. He has tweeted multiple times this morning, including tweeting that he's working hard here from New Jersey while the White House is undergoing renovations.
We also know the president has been taking some calls, including one call with South Korean President Moon to talk about the July 28th intercontinental ballistic missile test by North Korea and the United Nations' sanctions against North Korea.
Vice President Pence has also been busy, as well, playing down reports in "The New York Times" that he and some other Republicans are positioning themselves in the event President Trump is unavailable to run for re-election in 2020.
Mr. Pence, of course, could have kept it simple. However, he put out a statement, on White House letterhead, saying, among other things, that the assertion was disgraceful, offensive, laughable, absurd, essentially drawing more attention to it.
[09:05:05] The President has also said in tweets this morning that he does intend to go over to New York City sometime next week, which would be only his second visit to the city since he's been inaugurated. Poppy.
HARLOW: You know what that means, Joe Johns, here for us in New York. That means take the subway because the traffic is going to be a nightmare.
JOHNS: Absolutely right.
HARLOW: Joe Johns, thank you very much. We will be awaiting the President's visit. Here to discuss all of this, David Drucker, senior correspondent for the "Washington Examiner" and CNN political analyst; Patrick Healy, also a CNN political analyst and "New York Times" editor; and Karoun Demirjian, congressional report for "The Washington Post."
So, David, Pence 2020. It should be, as our producer said this morning, hashtag not because he says, no way, no how. But what's interesting is after "The New York Times" reported this, he chose to put out an official sort of White House statement, official statement from the Vice President's office, arguably drawing more attention to it.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right.
HARLOW: You could say maybe that was a message intended for one person and one person alone.
DRUCKER: An audience of one, capital O, you know.
DRUCKER: And the Trump White House tends to do this when you see messages coming from the President, where they cast a bigger spotlight on things that trouble them because of the way they choose to deflect them. And I think on the Vice President's part, this is what I would call
broad-shoulder deflecting, to borrow his term about the President. And that just to make sure that there wasn't any distance between himself and the President personally, it seems like he took what was an extra step.
I think the bigger issue here, I think the more interesting issue here, is why there is so much positioning by Republicans when you have the White House. And normally, there is an enormous amount of deference.
One is something I think a lot of people lose sight of. The president is not really of the Republican Party. It's his party apparatus, but he's not of the party. So you have a lot of Republicans doing things that normally the President's operation would take care of.
And for Vice President Pence, that means that they're doing -- laying a lot of groundwork for fund-raising and connections to down-ballot Republicans and local parties that normally would be driven by the White House office of political affairs --
DRUCKER: -- because the Vice President's better connected. The other thing, though, and we've seen this, there's a huge lack of trust in the President, in his leadership of the party from Republicans on Capitol Hill. And so you see a lot of ambitious Republicans looking ahead to the possibility that even if the President runs for re- election in 2020, which I fully expect will happen --
DRUCKER: -- they don't know that he's going to win. And they're not going to wait eight years to establish relationships for 2024.
HARLOW: It is interesting. I mean, "The Times" cited 75 Republicans.
DRUCKER: Just a few people.
HARLOW: I mean, at all sort of different levels, so that is interesting.
Karoun, to you, on North Korea. Look, you know, even the President's critics are pointing to this as a big win, getting Russia and China onboard with these new sanctions at the United Nations over the weekend.
You had Mike McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, you know, under President Obama, a very big critic of this President, tweeting, congratulations @realdonaldtrump. This vote is a genuine foreign policy achievement.
Nikki Haley calls it a gut punch. How big is this?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's a big deal because it's the furthest that the powers of the United Nations have ever gone to actually agreeing on something to do, and it's pretty significant. It does affect North Korea's exports, everything from iron to seafood basically. And coal, which is a very, very important one. But the question is, is it big enough?
DEMIRJIAN: It is not sanction -- we have not stepped up sanctions to the point where we're actually going after the Chinese banks, who sometimes fund or the way that the North Korean regime gets their money. This does not include all the North Korean laborers that work in places like China and Russia to get hard currency that goes straight back to the state there. That's not been cut off either.
So there still are avenues with which North Korea can pursue its agenda, can continue to funnel some money towards this, not as much. So does it slow things down, or does it end up upsetting them to the point where they push all kinds of additional resources to try to get one more missile launch out there?
The question is, it's not a stop, so how much does it slow them down? Does it slow them down to the point where they want to come to the negotiating table? That's the bet the United States is making.
But it's not ironclad because we can't control all of the aspects of it because -- in part because we don't have as many direct investments in North Korea as other countries do. But in part, also, because to take that step of pushing China would also come back to hit the United States in the gut, potentially.
DEMIRJIAN: And that doesn't seem to be a level where we're ready to go to quite yet.
HARLOW: And then you're not going to get a unanimous vote at the United Nations. You're not going to get China onboard for that.
DEMIRJIAN: That, too.
HARLOW: Patrick, though, what about the political importance, right? This is Day 200 of the Trump presidency. He has zero big legislative wins to point to. So, politically, how beneficial is this for the presidency?
PATRICK HEALY, DEPUTY CULTURAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No question, it's beneficial. I mean, this is -- you know, basically, the national security apparatus, particularly Ambassador Nikki Haley at the U.N., being able to show that they're able to unite major powers around a real American priority, which is applying sanctions to North Korea.
[09:10:09] But we have to remember, Poppy, for President Trump, this is a president who knows kind of what the history books judge on, and that's in part a big legislative accomplishment with Congress, particularly with Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress. And at Day 200, we still don't see that yet. And this President knows that that is really kind of the priority, the signature achievement that he needs to have.
So he hasn't had it on health care. He's hoping to have it now on tax reform, maybe infrastructure. But what he needs to choose is basically, is he going to continue to basically just work with different parts of the Republican Party, the conservative wing of the party, or is he going to reach out to Democrats and try to put together, for instance, on infrastructure, you know, some kind of major bipartisan achievement?
So it's Day 200 and North Korea very much matters, but the President is looking kind of long ball here to history, and that's where Congress gets involved.
HARLOW: Look, he's also said some things on tax reform that have been, especially during the campaign, incredibly appealing to Democrats, right? What he said about hedge funds and some of these loopholes.
HARLOW: These are areas where he could get more bipartisan support. We'll see.
David, just listen to sort of the President's own team. You've got Kellyanne Conway, one of his chief advisers, going on ABC. And she seems to admit that, yes, the President is having a little bit of trouble with his base. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would note, too, in some of the polling, which, of course, I scour daily on behalf of the President, his approval rating among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly. It needs to go up.
They are telling him, just enact your program. Don't worry about a Congress that isn't supporting legislation to get big-ticket items done. And don't worry about all the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others who are still trying too throw logs in your path are throwing your way. Focus on the agenda. And he's doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DRUCKER: That really caught my eye. I mean, the short hand for that is stop --
HARLOW: Because he tweeted nine times this morning, by the way, and he tweeted -- he tweeted calling them fake.
DRUCKER: Right. Look, Kellyanne Conway, talking about polling when she knows that the President watches these programs, I think, was really key. What we have seen from the recent polling is that the President is hurting among Republicans broadly.
He's -- in the Quinnipiac poll, he was at 76 percent. That is much lower than he should be. He should be up at least around 85 percent, 90.
DRUCKER: And I think the message she's trying to send to him, and it's key that she's the one trying to send it, but what all Republicans have been telling him is stop getting distracted and tweeting about Russia and the press. Focus on your agenda.
Because outside of the Trump base -- and there's always going to be a section of the Trump base that, no matter what he does, won't go anywhere -- there are Republicans that like his agenda, are glad that he's president instead of Hillary Clinton, they don't like his tweeting. They don't like his antics and his behavior. And he runs the risk a year from now, heading into the midterm elections, of losing them if they decide that he's not getting it done.
HARLOW: It's interesting, Karoun, that, David points out, you know, maybe Kellyanne Conway is speaking directly to the President through the television. I mean, people closest to him have been known to do that before. But you still do have these mixed messages because then the President comes out and points to all these polls, which he lists, bashes the media, and calls them all fake.
DEMIRJIAN: Well, right. I mean, it's selective fake news media, I'm sure. And when it's his own team and his own supporters that are on the television screen saying certain things, I'm sure that doesn't quite count in the same category.
But I think it also -- you know, you have to kind of take what Kellyanne Conway was also saying with a grain of salt because as much as the message that she's trying to send is just do your agenda, don't worry about Congress, there's a problem there, which is that a lot of the agenda goes through Congress. Even the dismissing of regulations.
He needed Congress' help for that over much of the last six months and got it because they could do it with 50-vote thresholds. But the major policy -- the major thing that he claims is a victory, too, the Supreme Court judge, that came with Congress' help.
And going forward, he promised to do reform of health care -- sorry, a repeal and replace of health care, a reform of taxes. You can't do those things that you promised on the campaign trail without going through Capitol Hill.
And so you can say just focus on the agenda, don't worry about the attacks, but pragmatically, that doesn't work so well in D.C. --
DEMIRJIAN: -- if you don't actually get buy-in from Capitol Hill.
HARLOW: It is a team sport, believe it or not. Despite the team playing lately, it is a team sport in D.C.
Patrick Healy, just wrap us up with your take on Sessions. So after weeks of not talking face-to-face with his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and just reaming him in the media, the President turned a page, it seems. And he tweeted that after many leaks going on in Washington, it is great to see the A.G. take action. Your take?
[09:15:01] HEALY: Jeff Sessions knows President Trump better than most politicians. He was out there with Trump as a candidate early on, first member of Congress to endorse him. He understands how he thinks. He knows the things that bother President Trump the most.
So, this leaks investigation, especially being able to craft a statement in which you're able to say, we've never had so much leaks investigation, again, is aimed at an audience of one. That is going to completely delight the president.
He is very preoccupied with the sense that there are all these people in the White House and his house, as part of his administration who are leaking kind of against him. It infuriates him.
And the degree to which Sessions can put that in the spotlight as opposed to conversations about, you know, his recusal from the Russia investigation is just good points on the board for Sessions and probably for that relationship.
But I think you're also seeing General Kelly, the new chief of staff, you know, who has a relationship with Jeff Sessions, who's saying, this kind of fighting just isn't healthy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Thanks very much, Patrick Healy, Karen (ph), David Drucker, we appreciate it.
Ahead, a lot for us this hour, you're sued. The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for trying to pull funding for sanctuary cities. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will join me in minutes.
And breaking this morning, a manhunt underway right now for a suspect who shot and killed a Missouri police officer.
Plus, drugged, tied up and stuffed in a suitcase, you won't believe this story. A model in Milan kidnapped, set to be sold on the dark web. How she got away.
HARLOW: New this morning, the city of Chicago filing a lawsuit today against the Justice Department over new requirements that threaten to withhold millions of dollars of crime-fighting grant money for cities including Chicago unless they assist with all federal immigration enforcement.
This is just the latest confrontation between the Trump administration and so-called sanctuary cities. I'm joined now by the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel. Mayor Emanuel, thank you for being here.
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: Good morning. HARLOW: Good morning to you. So, you said over the weekend, here's your quote, "Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values." Who is blackmailing you, in your opinion, the city of Chicago?
EMANUEL: Look, the basic is Chicago is a welcoming city, to immigrants from across the globe, whether you're from Poland or Pakistan, Mexico or Moldavia, where my grandfather came or whether you're from Ireland or India.
We want you to come to Chicago if you believe in the American dream. So, we are a welcoming city and always will be. It was for my grandfather a hundred years ago this year.
In addition to that, our police department is built on the principles of community policing. We don't want officers just patrolling a neighborhood, but to be part of that neighborhood and the fabric.
And the fact is, by forcing us or the police department to choose between the values of the city and the philosophy of the police department of community policing, I think it's a false choice and it actually undermines our actual public safety agenda.
And so, we're going to be filing a case, saying that the Justice Department is wrong, both on constitutional legal grounds. That is, we will always be a welcoming city. That is who we are. That is what we will always be because it's true to our history and true to our future.
But it also is true that as a police department, our police department are part of a neighborhood, part of a community that is built on the premise of trust between the residents and the police department.
It's not -- the police department is a part of the fabric that makes a community safe. And we want people to come forward to work with the police department, not to fear them.
And I just think fundamentally, it is not just -- it's not just fundamentally from this premise. One, you cannot coerce a city into changing its policies. Two, we don't run a jail so we can't hold people longer than 48 hours.
HARLOW: Just explain to our viewers, for example, you guys are arguing this based on the Fourth Amendment. I mean, you're basically saying, this violates the Fourth Amendment to ask us to hold these undocumented immigrants who may be arrested 48 hours after they would be released so that ICE can come interview them, et cetera.
And you have some backing on that, some legal ground on that from a not that old Supreme Court ruling during the Obama administration. Here's what the state -- here's what the Justice Department statement says, OK? This is the way they put it --
EMANUEL: Poppy, let me go to your first part, OK? There's two parts. One is, the federal government cannot coerce a city to change its policy. That's what the court has already ruled on. The second piece, as you just noted is, we don't run a jail. We do lockups and until 48 hours, we let you go. You cannot ask us to hold people longer than 48 hours. It's both a legal piece and a constitutional piece, and the city is on firm ground on that basis. I'm getting an echo here.
HARLOW: We'll fix that. Let me read this. This is what the Justice Department says. "In 2016, more Chicagoans were murdered than in New York City and in Los Angeles combined. So, it's especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money, protecting criminal aliens, and putting Chicago's law enforcement at greater risk." Direct attack on you, Mayor Emanuel? You say?
EMANUEL: No, first of all, look, this year, we're already down city wide in shootings, and in Englewood, one of our tougher neighborhoods on the south side, they're down 40 percent in shootings and over about 30 percent in homicides. So, we are making progress.
And one of the reasons Commander Johnson in the Englewood community is doing so well, is because he's working with the community in that trust effort. And that is a principle of community policing, which undermines and supports the whole philosophy of the police department.
We are also a city with immigrants from all over the world, whether you cross the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Rio, to make your way or up the Mississippi to make your way to Chicago, we welcome you here.
That is the culture of this city, not just historically, the culture of many cities throughout the United States, big, medium, and small.
[09:25:07] And we cannot be in a position where we have this false choice between the values of who we are and what we want our children to become.
And also, the undermining of a police department's philosophy, of community policing because we want residents to see the police department as partners in making their neighborhood safe.
If you have one part of your city, whether it be a Pilsen, little village, back of the yards, that are predominantly Hispanic to name that one community, that fear the police department, it actually undermines the very philosophy and also the public safety we're seeing.
So, I think it's a false choice and I say, before, we will never be coerced on our values. If you believe tomorrow can be better for your children, that means you believe in the American dream.
Immigrants from around the world and people from Chicago believe in that. We have a public scholarship, if you get a B-average in high school, community college is free. It's the only city that does it.
It's open to dreamers, because we believe that that education makes your future better. That is who we are. It is why my grandfather, 100 years ago, 13 years old, by himself, came to this country. I'll never, as mayor, allow that history, let alone that future for us to turn our back on or to be coerced walking away from our values and I will never allow our police department to become something people don't see as their partner.
And I think the Justice Department is trying to coerce people into making a choice between who they are and their values and what you want to see in every neighborhood across the city of Chicago. That's why we're going to file a case against the Trump Justice Department.
HARLOW: I know you've been talking with other cities, other mayors, that may join you in this. And look, we'll see what happens and let the courts work this out. Because I have you, I want you to put your chief of staff hat on, if you could. Your previous life in the White House. Of course, you worked in the Clinton administration --
EMANUEL: How do you know --
EMANUEL: How do you know it wasn't a jersey not a hat?
HARLOW: It would be better if you could put a jersey on. You know General Kelly and you spoke to him when he was in his prior role at DHS. You called him since he got to chief of staff job. Many people, even critics of the Trump administration are pointing to him and applauding his influence so far over the past week. Is he doing a good job? How would you grade him thus far?
EMANUEL: Look, I mean, first of all, if you ask me as a former chief of staff, anybody who's been a chief of staff, it's more a helmet than a hat, and it's more jersey with shoulder pads than anything else.
Look, he has one of the toughest jobs in the world and anybody who's been a chief of staff wishes the next chief of staff, you know, good wishes and success. I think he has -- he's brought order, there's no doubt. He's a person with great order. He's brought discipline, no doubt, to that effort.
And also, the most important thing is not what he does as head of the staff, but also as chief, which means he's first among all equals to the president, if the president trusts him, that's 99 percent of the game right there.
The fact -- the other biggest piece right there is not the staff. It's the president. And I say this, as the president gets in his own way. And just take the prior week, where they had, in my view, a major victory on jobs coming to Wisconsin, and you had GDP growing at a higher level.
And yet the entire discussion of the whole week was about his tweets, his attack on the attorney general. All these other things. And I thought of his administration, based on the campaign, was going to be about jobs.
And that to me is a classic case where the president gets in his own way of trying to tell the story of what he's working on. The question for Chief of Staff Kelly will be whether he can get the president to focus on the core part of what he's going to do.
He's clearly got the rest of the staff realizing that if this continues, it's total chaos, and they are betting on his success. So, they are not going to undermine him. The question is, can he get everyone in the west wing? And I mean, everybody, to be betting on the same message. That's an open question, although I wish him well in that effort.
HARLOW: I think everyone wishes him well. Quickly, before I move on. You have not spoken to him. He didn't return that voice mail yet, did he?
EMANUEL: Of all the calls he got, I should be last. I wish him well as chief of staff. All of us do if anybody sits in that cockpit seat.
HARLOW: You talk about the story that you think this administration needs to tell about jobs. Let's talk about the story of your party. The story of the Democratic Party moving forward. It was sort of relaunched, rebooted, or an attempt to do that a few weeks ago with a better way.
As you know, some in the party did not like that at all. You had your former speechwriter, former speechwriter for President Obama, John Lovett, saying fire every consultant involved. Jon Favreau (ph) saying go back to the drawing board. I mean, is that -- do you agree with them?
EMANUEL: Poppy, I spoke to the House Democrats, here's my basic point. America has always been built on this fundamental core belief that tomorrow can be better than today and that your children's lives will be better than today.