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Trump Takes Tough Tone with Australian Prime Minister; New Details in Dangerous Mission in Yemen; Protests Turn Violent at U.C. Berkeley; Flynn: 'We are Officially Putting Iran on Notice'. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired February 2, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There's a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald J. Trump.
[05:58:40] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This call was really hostile. Trump was badgering the Australian prime minister.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The deal that was made will go forward.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He talked to Nieto and said Mexico needs to deal with its "bad hombres."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he tries to fight real threats, he's going to find himself not just America first, but America all by itself.
GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, TRUMP'S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Confirmation chaos on Capitol Hill.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I join my colleagues in boycotting this hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to work together rather than obstructing the will of the American people.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say if you can, go nuclear.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, February 2, 6 a.m. here in New York.
We begin with another day of White House damage control, focusing on the president's approach to foreign policy. New details this morning about a heated phone call from last Saturday between President Trump and the prime minister of Australia, Turnbull. He could now trigger an international rift with one of our staunchest allies. We're also learning Mr. Trump also had rough words for the president of Mexico on a phone call from last Friday, letting him know he's done a terrible job knocking out his country's, quote, "tough hombres."
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The administration also raising tensions with Iran's national security advisor, Michael Flynn, officially putting Tehran, quote, "on notice" for test firing a ballistic missile. It is not clear on what "on notice" means.
We're entering day 14 of the Trump White House, and CNN has every angle covered, from D.C. to Australia, starting with Jeff Zeleny, live at the White House. What's the latest, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning. The -- this is all coming from that series of phone calls that the president had last week. On Saturday, if you'll remember he had five phone calls with foreign leaders. But it is the Australian phone call with the Australian prime minister that is really raising serious questions about the long-standing relationship the U.S. has with Australia.
Now we are told that the -- this conversation ended abruptly, very abruptly, all over refugees. The president repeatedly was questioning what the Obama administration had done in terms of allowing some refugees to come to the U.S. now.
Now, the readout of this call from the White House was totally different. Take a look at this readout. It says, "President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke by phone for 25 minutes today. Both leaders emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the relationship."
Well, it turns out that is not at all how that phone call went. It was scheduled to last an hour. It actually ended abruptly.
All this is happening, of course, as the Mexican relationship also in new controversy as well this morning because of an excerpt released from that phone call on Friday with the Mexican leader. Take a look at this, this excerpt provided to us says this. This is what the president said to the Mexican president. "You may have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We're willing to help with that big-league, but they have to be knocked out, and you have not done a good job knocking them out."
So that set off firestorm in that conversation, as well.
So Chris and Alisyn, this is something that the White House is going to be answering questions about today. Again, they did not want to be talking about this. But this diplomacy is worrying so many permanent members of the White House National Security Council and others, just these relationships the U.S. has. And these are our allies we are talking about, not our foes -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Jeff. We're going to discuss this difference between this propaganda from the White House and what actually happened in these important calls; but we're also following breaking news in the U.S. raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL. New details are emerging about this firefight that was supposed to be targeting al Qaeda.
CNN national security reporter Ryan Brown is live in Washington with the latest. There's some really harrowing details coming out about what our men faced in this situation.
RYAN BROWN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. You know, this mission was called a sight exploration operation. It's designed to gather as much intelligence on al Qaeda as possible to facilitate future drone strikes and raids down the road.
Now these forces were -- initially, this operation was months in the making, months of planning during the Obama administration. But because of operational requirements, it was delayed until the Trump administration; and it was President Trump who greenlit the op.
Now one of the reasons it was delayed: They needed moonless night in order to help conceal their approach to the al Qaeda compound. Now, despite that additional concealment, al Qaeda detected the Special Operations forces, and an intense fire fight broke out. Military officials said it included small arms fire, grenades, close airstrikes.
And one of those strikes resulted in what military officials believe is a high number of civilian causalities when al Qaeda fighters were shooting at U.S. troops, and air strikes struck the building. So a lot of things kind of went wrong. However, military officials say that the intelligence gathered is already yielding valuable insight into al Qaeda and its future terror operations.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for all of that reporting.
All right. We have so much to talk about. Let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman; CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief of "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich; senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker; and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.
Phil, I want to start with you. Let's talk about Australia. So no surprise that President Trump would not want to honor some agreement that President Obama had put in place with Australia about taking these 1,200 refugees. But they had a very contentious, according to the leaks that have come out about this phone call, conversation between President Trump and the prime minister of Australia.
So what does this mean, if he says, "No, now we're not going to take it" and doesn't honor whatever diplomacy was in place?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It means a couple of things. First, in a narrow sense, back when you look at the intelligence relationship here, it's a relationship we called in the intelligence business "the five byes" relationship. It's the closest ties we have to the English-speaking countries: the Canadians, the British, the Australians. If you're in the intelligence business or if you're in national
security business broadly, you're looking at this scratching your head, saying, "I can see crossing swords with the Iranians, but why are you alienating not only allies but people who are part of the closest intelligence relationships we have?" This doesn't make sense.
More broadly, just for a moment, Alisyn, if you're Rex Tillerson walking in, you've got to be looking at your desk, saying, "Can you stop giving me problems? I've got a problem with thee Mexicans, Canadians, the Europeans, the Iranians, the Australians, and that's within 13 days."
[06:05"11] I mean, I'm joking, but seriously, he's got to be saying, "I've got to figure out how to put America first, and you're putting me on the back foot with a whole variety of allies, not to mention enemies."
CUOMO: No, and it's true. And we understand that you think it's deadly serious, Phil. There's no question about that.
So David, propaganda is what I called it at the top of the show. And that's what it is. It's information put out there to motivate a certain perspective of reality. That's not new for a White House to do.
But early on, with the big questions about how President Trump would behave with foreign parties. One thing about how he treats us, but how he treats a foreign leader with their own military and our needs. How concerning is the discrepancy between what the White House says happened and what really happened on these phone calls?
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, I think it shouldn't be surprising to anybody that this conversation, first of all, happened and that we know about it. Because this is what President Trump told the American electorate he was going to do as president. He was going to tell our allies that they have been freeloading and that we have been agreeing to things with them that benefitted them and not us. And so I have no doubt that they wanted this to get out there, because this is what he said he would do.
And I don't think the issue is does he want to renegotiate an agreement with an ally? I mean, President Obama came in and did that. President Bush had put together some missile defense agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic. President Obama came in. He didn't like that. He wanted to redo our relationship with Russia. And so taking those agreements away and changing them is a part of that.
I think the issue is how he went about this. And when you have such a close ally in a part of the world where we could really use their help in countering China and we want to keep our influence in the Pacific, to abrade an ally and let it get out there. And Phil talked about the intelligence aspect of it. I think that's what has to be concerning to a lot of people, even though it's going to make some people in the U.S. very happy. CUOMO: Hold on one second. Be clear about something. They didn't
want this to get out. They put out a reckoning of this call that was nothing like the reality of it. But that was a part of the leak.
DRUCKER: I disagree, Chris.
CUOMO: So you think that the leak was orchestrated by the White House?
DRUCKER: I think, based on the reporters who broke the story, who are very good, and based on the fact that they had a lot of details, I just -- to me it strikes me as that they wanted this out there, because this is the kind of image that the president ran on.
CUOMO: They didn't put it in their official readout.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, how do you see it?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that some of the quotes in there from the president talking about how this is the worst call yet and the, more significantly, talking about his crowd size with the prime minister, I don't actually think that's a detail that the White House wants out. So I'm not convinced that this was done officially.
I am very struck in the last week by how much government leaking is going on across government against the president.
Look, in terms of what happened with this conversation, with the president of Mexico, I do think some of that was intentionally relayed, because it did make the president, our president look tough, the U.S. president.
This one seemed a little bit different. And I think you are correct. I think it was more the style. But the style is unusual to be talking to a foreign leader about how big your crowds are, that is not -- on inauguration day, that's not particularly interesting to somebody.
CAMEROTA: But Maggie, if there -- if this call was leaked, this was in the Oval Office. Right? There were only a handful -- Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, I don't know who else would be in there, maybe four people. So...
CUOMO: Flynn, Reince Priebus have been there for calls.
MUDD: Hold on a second.
CAMEROTA: Hold on. So Maggie, what do you -- do you care to...
HABERMAN: Actually, I think Phil might have some idea about who else may officially be on that, on that call, clear up the details.
MUDD: I've served at the White House. I don't know how the Trump White House is operating, but there's more people than are in the room. If you have, for example, specialists on the relationship with Australia and the National Security Council, they'll be listening on the call, as well. So don't assume that the people in the room are the only people listening in on this call. The president has a lot of people on his phone.
CAMEROTA: Good to know. Very good detail. OK, so there you go.
HABERMAN: I just -- I think that -- I don't see how the portrayal of that phone call was helpful to the White House. I just don't. And I don't think -- I don't see how the details, in particular, of the call are helpful. I agree that it is in keeping with what the president has said he would do, but the portrayal of the call -- and this is also why the sanitized version of this as a productive call is ultimately not really useful for the White House.
The first one, because had they initially put it out as President Trump made clear his view on this particular issue that he talked about in the campaign and that he has already been pretty forceful about in office, then I think they would have had control of it.
Part of their problem -- and I hate to put everything in terms of communication here -- but they have had trouble, essentially, articulating a communications strategy. They have had trouble putting out whatever story they want to put out and framing it and shaping it. Instead, they are losing control, essentially, of the narrative of their White House within the first two weeks.
CAMEROTA: With the ban, even. And speaking of which, we want to stick with you one more second, Maggie, about Yemen. That -- the story line about what went down there in terms of the raid and who was killed, that's also not what they would want out there; but we do know details about it.
[06:10:12] HABERMAN: It's -- and they're troubling. And two of my colleagues reported that this decision for this raid was made, essentially, over dinner in the last couple of days right before it happened, with the president, with Jared Kushner, with Steve Bannon. So you are seeing sort of an unusual approach to this; and it resulted in the death of a service man. It also resulted in the death of a child, it appears.
And so I think that we have not heard a ton of details precisely that are official about how this happened, but again, to your point, the fact that the administration has not been more forthcoming and has not moved to try to get control of this, some of this is understandable. I think with some of it, they don't know everything yet. And they may be trying to get to understand them when they can. But this is unhelpful to an administration in its first month.
CUOMO: And one of the first things they put out about the Yemen operation was that it was approved by the Obama administration and that they just greenlighted it on their watch here, but it wasn't of their conception. Now, obviously, that's something that people can digest the way they want.
Look, we all know the expression, news is what the powerful want to keep hidden. And that is not a new dynamic. But when you see these events coming out, how important is this right now for this difference between what the White House is saying is happening and what's actually happening with foreign leaders?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a couple of audiences here. To Maggie's point, there -- he does look tough. However, I think if you're looking at the broader global community, Trump threatening to invade Mexico isn't really something that looks hinged. And so there is this broader concern around the world as to his temperament and as to how he will handle all of these things going forward.
What if something happens? We were talking about this earlier. What if -- right now the White House is sort of creating chaos. What happens when chaos happens? How -- that they do not control? That's the open question, and that's when it really tests a White House's mettle.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. Hold that thought. We appreciate all these insights.
CUOMO: There's another story for us to talk about here. First we have that Iran had been put on notice. What does that mean? The White House says it's in deliberative mode. What does that mean? We'll talk about that.
Also, the ramifications of this presidency still being felt around the country. Peaceful protests turned violent on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled speech by Breitbart -- Breitbart editor they were going to have there.
CNN's Dan Simon is live on the Berkeley campus with the latest. No question that the person who was going to speak is controversial, but turning to violence becomes a crime. It's never protest.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Chris.
You know, first of all, we should point out that order has been restored to the U.C. Berkeley campus, but obviously, you had a lot of tension when you had this group of anarchists. And let's be clear that we're talking about 150 anarchists out of a group of about 1,500 peaceful protestors.
They started smashing windows. They lit fires. And at one point, things got so chaotic that university police had to put the campus under lockdown. And officers, they fired pepper spray into the crowd. They fired rubber bullets to bring things under control.
Now, leading up to this event. There had been a group of students who are pushing the university to cancel the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos. Obviously, a very controversial figure and Donald Trump supporter.
But the university thought it should go forward in the interests of free speech. But protestors, they wanted to disrupt things, but some certainly express regret that things escalated and had gotten out of control.
Alisyn, we'll send it back to you.
CAMEROTA: OK, Dan, thank you very much for the update with there. We'll check back through the morning.
Well, the Trump administration putting Iran, quote, "on notice." Iran then firing back. What is next? We take a closer look.
[06:17:56] CAMEROTA: The White House escalating tensions with Iran, the president's national security advisor slamming the test of a ballistic missile, saying Tehran is, quote, "now officially on notice," end quote. What does that mean? Let's go back to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's live at the White House with all the details. What have you learned, Jeff?
ZELENY: Good morning, Alisyn.
The White House is putting Iran on notice, as you said there, but we don't know specific details of what, in fact, that means. This all comes after the test firing of those ballistic missiles.
But take a listen to what national security advisor Michael Flynn said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLYNN: President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration, as well as the United Nations, as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States in these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So what does that mean exactly, officially putting Iran on notice? That is going to be a question the White House is going to answer today. But some lawmakers very concerned about this rhetoric here, and is this a verbal red line, if you will; and will the U.S. now have to back up this talk with action? All those questions this morning -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Jeff Zeleny. It is Groundhog Day, and once again we do wake up with a major provocation from the president and now we have to figure out its implications.
Let's bring back our panel: Maggie Haberman, Jackie Kucinich, David Drucker and Phil Mudd.
Maggie, with the Australian prime minister, OK. There was a disconnect between what the White House said happened and how harsh it was on the call, but Trump had high ground in one respect. He doesn't like that program. He doesn't want these kinds of people in this country. He got the number wrong about how many he was supposed to take, but there was some "there" there in terms of why he'd be pushing back.
When it comes to Iran, what do you see as the dynamic here that can benefit the U.S. by provoking Iran and seeing what they'll do?
HABERMAN: I think there are a a couple of things at play here, and I actually think it's more of a middle road than it appears, despite the rhetoric. The rhetoric has gotten compared to what the White House has said on what is happening in Ukraine, which I think is a different and important comparison.
[06:20:01] In this case, I think that this is a way for the Trump administration to essentially sabre rattle a little bit but also reassure nations in the Middle East that are not happy with Iran, that were not subjects of this travel ban that the administration put in place, and it essentially keeps them a bit more on the United States side.
It's also a way to signal to Trump's voters, who called on him to rip up the Iran deal, which he had said he would do. He has not made a move for that yet.
CUOMO: The administration was quick to say that stands on its own.
HABERMAN: That's true.
CUOMO: That deal. So that this is about something else.
HABERMAN: That is true, but I still think that few things can actually be completely untangled. And I do think that that is part of what this is about. But I think that we will wait and see what the unintended consequences of this could be.
And in the interim, we don't know a whole lot about what that means. To Jeff's point, if this is a verbal red line, you know, the previous administration also had a red line, and that didn't end up meaning much. So we'll see.
CAMEROTA: All right. So if, Jackie, this is sabre rattling, we do know a little bit more about what the administration thinks it means, because this deputy assistant to President Trump, part of the strategic initiative, talked about what he thinks this message is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORKA: Well, it's a very simple signal. There's a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to follow the policies of the prior administration, which really facilitated Iran in terms of getting more muscular, releasing those billions of dollars. So it's sending a very simple message. This is a new dawn, a new day for relations with Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So this is messaging.
KUCINICH: I hope Rex Tillerson was given a broom at least, you know, when he actually comes...
CAMEROTA: To clean up (ph).
KUCINICH: Yes, right. Seriously. Because this is yet another thing. As -- he wasn't even confirmed yet, and Flynn was at the microphone.
So this is something he's going to have to deal with right out of the gate and again something we were talking about earlier, what happen with Russia? Because Russia is going to have to back up the United States if they decide to go after Iran. I don't know that they're going to do that, and I don't think they know that Russia would back up the U.S.
CUOMO: Again, though, you have President Trump saying, "Listen, Iran has been eating up more and more of Iraq. Iran was planning a role in Syria. The U.S. had stood by and did nothing. Not on my watch."
So what has to happen here for this to be OK? Isn't he allowed to talk tough to people? He said he would.
DRUCKER: He is allowed to talk tough to people, and he's allowed to talk tough specifically to our adversaries. And Iran has done nothing but undermine U.S. policy and influence in the Middle East since we signed the Iran deal. So there's nothing wrong with a new president coming in and telling them that -- telling the world's biggest state sponsor of terror, who's responsible, probably, for the death of American servicemen and definitely innocent people in the Middle East, we're not going to take it anymore.
The issue is, is it followed up by a coherent, cohesive policy that has the support of our allies around the world? Now, we know it will have if we come forward with a policy like this. We'll have the support of our allies in the Middle East who are very concerned about a rise in Iran and had a lot of problems with President Obama's soft approach to Tehran.
And I'm not talking just Israel. We're talking about Saudi Arabia and other allies in the Middle East. The question is what are they going to follow it up with, because tough talk alone, as President Obama learned, gets you nowhere.
CAMEROTA: As you told us in the last segment, basically, this is "Welcome to the State Department, Secretary Tillerson. Mexico on line one, Australia line two, Iran on line three. Please hold." So...
CUOMO: And Russia is listening to all of it.
KUCINICH: And China is not calling you back.
CAMEROTA: So where to begin, Phil?
MUDD: One of the places I'd begin as an angle we haven't talked about, the White House is having one of its first visitors coming in a few weeks. That's Benjamin Netanyahu. We all know he was sideways with President Obama and went around the White House to talk to the Congress on issues like Iran. One of the things you're thinking about if you're Rex Tillerson is
what just happened with General Flynn out of the White House yesterday is not just rhetoric. Netanyahu will take that. He wants action on the Iranian nuclear program and on Iranian missiles. The ballistic missiles are a threat to Israel. He's not going to let that issue drop.
And I'm going to bet you in a couple weeks, he throws that language right back at the White House if they think they're going to forget it. He's going to say, "What do you mean?" And he's going to say that publicly.
So you're going to see some follow-up in ways that we typically wouldn't see if the White House thinks that that phrase would be forgotten.
CUOMO: Hey, Phil, there has been talk about how Iran's on the checklist of why the Trump administration is going at Iran, their support of Houthi rebels in Yemen. Are you concerned about a conflation between what the Houthi rebels represent in Yemen and what just happened with the Navy SEAL chief in Yemen in terms of the threat that Iran poses?
MUDD: I don't think, if we look at the problem in Yemen, that should be No. 1 on our issue of concerns with Iran. You look at Iranian threats to shipping and to the U.S. military, the U.S. Navy in the Strait of Hormuz, where a lot of oil moves through. You look at the nuclear deal which is obviously under debate. You look at these ballistic missile threats that we've seen.
[06:25:04] The Houthi rebels, the instability in Yemen is significant, because it allows for al Qaeda, which has tried to threaten the United States from one of its bases in Yemen, which is allows al Qaeda, that civil war to grow.
But in contrast to what we're seeing with missiles, with nukes, with threats to the Navy in the Strait of Hormuz, I wouldn't put the Yemen problem on the same level, Chris.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, this is the second week of the Trump presidency. It's been dizzying. Now -- and he hasn't had his cabinet in place. So now that slowly his cabinet is now coming to take shape and coming into place, will things change?
HABERMAN: I think that the major question -- and I think this has been a fairly underreported story. I think the answer is yes, but it will take some time.
These ranks of undersecretaries and deputy secretaries in a lot of these departments are empty, and that is going to take some time to get those folks in there. Those are the folks who basically are going to carry out what the administration wants in terms of policy with what the permanent government is used to.
And I think until you see that happen, you are going to still have a lot of gears, essentially, grinding in a lot of these kinds of leaks, because you are seeing federal workers who are very frustrated. They clearly feel targeted. It was a very ill-advised moment at the podium from Sean Spicer.
CUOMO: Telling them to leave.
HABERMAN: You know, pack up and leave. These are civil service people. So I think that yes is the answer and think that it is a sigh of relief for people who are concerned about what they are seeing from the West Wing right now, but it's going to take some time for the shift to move.
CUOMO: Well, quick button on this from you, David Drucker. We've also seen with the executive order on the travel ban, that they're OK going it alone also. So who knows? Maybe the cabinet secretaries will end up pushing back, saying they're not getting the authority they're supposed to have.
Tough talk leads to tension, requires tactics. That's old-school military speak. What do you think the Trump White House is ready to do tactically to back up Trump's talk? Because that's the new challenge for them. It's no longer a campaign. Now you have to do something based on what you say.
DRUCKER: Right. So I think that what we're still trying to figure out here is how much the Trump team in the White House looks at it as a matter of talk and tactics versus simply somebody just talking tough or snapping their fingers, and then things start to work better?
Look, I -- I used to work in business before I was a reporter. And there's -- there's this belief when you work in business that the problem with government is that somebody's just -- doesn't simply take charge and act in accordance with common sense. And the way the federal government is structure, and it's sprawling and especially in the executive branch. Then you're dealing with Congress, and they have their own ideas, is you actually need to coordinate and communicate. It's about running a team, not just managing a brand.
And so I don't think we have yet figured out, even once Trump gets his team in place, which doesn't matter, how much we're going to see a White House that is not so centralized as it is now, and a White House that understands that they need to work with people versus going it alone.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much.
We'll have much more on the diplomatic dust-ups, but first a bruising battle on Capitol Hill continues to develop over several of the president's key cabinet choices. Democrats gearing up for the ultimate fight against Mr. Trump's supreme court nominee. Will they derail any of the president's picks? We look at that next.