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Trump's Handling of Foreign Policy; Inside White House Shakeup; Tech Giants Challenging Travel Ban; Companies Fight Border Tax; Tips for Healthy Hair; Trump's Tough Tone with Australian PM. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 2, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:46] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So the president putting Iran, quote, "on notice." And we, at the same time, are hearing about these contentious conversations with America's allies, Australia and Mexico. What does all this mean for the future of America's foreign policy? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political commentator and former Obama adviser David Axelrod.

Good morning, David.


CAMEROTA: What do you see here happening with foreign policy?

AXELROD: Look, I think we have to separate the discussion into two categories. One is politics and the other is protocol and policy. In terms of the politics, you know, I bet you that these contentious statements, conversations, this bellicose approach to foreign policy is playing pretty well with the president's base. This is the kind of approach that he's promised, and he is delivering on it. So I think from that standpoint he's probably well satisfied with some of these back-and-forths and the menacing comments toward Iran and so on.

Here's the problem with it. In reality, America is needed in the world and America needs the world. And when you antagonize allies, as Australia is, you may need them later, and they may not be as willing to be there for you. And the same is true with Mexico. We have many important issues with Mexico, and we also have 6 million jobs that depend on exports to Mexico. So, you know, what's satisfies your politics may undermine your ability to be effective as president.

On Iran, it's not clear what the purpose of the statement was yesterday because saying you're -- that they were on alert or whatever phrase it was that Flynn used does not --

CAMEROTA: On notice.

AXELROD: On notice, does not suggest what it is that is being threatened and could easily have been conveyed through private channels. The other thing that's interesting about this is -- so you -- so the

suggestion is that maybe this was for public consumption, not just Iranian consumption. The interesting thing is that the complaint is that they violated a U.N. resolution by testing this ballistic missile, which they apparently did. And yet the U.N. is roundly criticized by the president as being a discussion society and having no real teeth. And you can see where a U.N. resolution is important. So, you know, I think, on politics, I think he is not at all upset about some of this coverage and is intentional in some of these conversations. But what it portends for the future, I think, is much -- it's much darker.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, why is it necessarily darker, just to engage Trump's analysis on this issue?


CUOMO: Obama was weak. We allowed our allies to get away with everything. They didn't pull their fair share. I will be strong and tell them who is in control of this relationship. And he will flex and say, look, feel this? This is me now. I'm America. You will respond. That's what he promised. People liked it. Now he's delivering.

AXELROD: Right. Exactly. And I said on the -- on the level of politics, Chris, I think it's probably pretty effective with his base of supporters.

But let's look at Iran, for example. Everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat, though they may have criticized Obama early and they may have criticized the agreement he made with Iran, everybody agrees that the sanctions that he put in place were very, very effective and they were effective because he was able to bring the rest of the world in with him, in on those sanctions. That took a lot of work. I was around at that time and I -- I was a witness to some of the meetings with foreign leaders in which he had those negotiations and discussions. So that's where alliances pay off.

There are times when you need your allies. Australia is a principal ally in the Pacific. And as you mentioned earlier in the broadcast, has helped supply intelligence and other assistance.


AXELROD: They've been allies in a couple of wars. So there are going to be times when you need your allies and your allies aren't going to be your allies if you are constantly at odds with them.

[08:35:07] CAMEROTA: David, one of the things, as you know, that Mr. Trump as a candidate criticized President Obama for often, as did Republicans, was the red line on Syria. And so the "on notice" for Iran sort of begs the question of what kind of ultimatum is that and why are they using that when they thought that President Obama either shouldn't have said red line or should have followed it up with something?

AXELROD: Yes, it would be interesting to know what Secretary Mattis thought about that statement. I agree. And it was sufficiently vague that it's not clear what they're talking about. Are they talking about military action? That would be a very high stakes move if they were to move forward on that. What exactly are they talking about? Maybe they're talking about sanctions. Some people suggest, although the administration denies it, that this was a prelude to trying to undo the Iran nuclear agreement, though General Mattis has said that he would be opposed to such a move.

So, more than anything, what they've sewed is confusion. And that's not a good thing in foreign policy, and certainly in these frayed kind of relationships that could lead to armed conflict.

CUOMO: Hey, Ax, what's your take on who's behind some of these early moves and what's perceived as a shakeup that's going on within the White House? You know that issue got piqued my interest this morning when I saw the tweet from the president about how UC-Berkeley, if they don't honor free speech, maybe they don't get federal funds. I thought it was odd. Why would he come out in favor of this Breitbart firebrand guy, you know, who's been censored on different levels because of what he said. To me it smacks obviously of Bannon and how much of that is creating reverb and some shakeup.

AXELROD: Yes. Well, look, I don't know whether Bannon whispered in his ear and I don't know who whispers is his ear in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's his own impulse.

I think that the reality is that if you're nice to Donald Trump and Milo (ph) has been nice to Donald Trump and supportive of Donald Trump, Donald Trump will respond in kind. And so he views him as a supporter. And his -- you know, all of his other views, as repugnant as they may be to the mainstream notwithstanding, he's been nice to Trump.

When I saw those -- the events in Berkeley last night, I thought it was absolutely something that he was going to respond to because most Americans will look at that and see the flames on the streets and so on, or at least certainly most of his base, and say, someone should stand up to that. And so I wasn't surprised to see his tweet.

The bigger story is sort of this White House shakeup thing because one of the questions that I've had, and many people who have worked in the White House have had, is, how does this work with a chief of staff, with Steve Bannon as chief strategist and obviously empowered to do a lot with Jared Kushner there, different points -- power centers within the White House and no sort of streamline system by which decisions would be made. And in that kind of a system, when there's a screw-up, one faction is going to ascend and another faction is going to take a hit.

There's no doubt that the rollout this immigration and refugee order was a screw-up. And what it reflected was a lack of consultation, lack of planning and the result was chaos. The one thing I don't think Donald Trump wants is the sense that he's incompetent. Remember, he's the ringmaster of "The Apprentice." The whole thing is predicated on a guy who knows how to get things done and get them done in the right way. That wasn't done in the right way. And you can see that the -- the Reince Priebus forces are going to seize on that, have seized on that to say, you know what, we need to do this in the proper way, we need to do this in regular order so that we can -- so that we don't look incompetent. And I think you're going to see a lot of this. If Priebus has a -- if he should slip on a banana peel, you're going to see other forces in the White House seize on that. And it's going to make for a lot of tumult in the White House.

CAMEROTA: I don't know that we should be calling it a shakeup at this moment.

CUOMO: What should we call it?

CAMEROTA: Breaking the mold. That's what he's doing. He's putting people into different roles than we're used to in the traditional White House but he's not -- a shakeup suggests people are being fired. He's breaking the mold. He's putting Steve Bannon on the National Security Council. I mean he's doing things differently.

AXELROD: I -- yes, look, I don't disagree with you, Alisyn, but -- and it is an unusual in an early -- in the early stages of an administration for their to -- for roles to be defined.


CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: But what's different in this White House -- what's different in this White House is that you do have these competing powers. They may work together, but they're also competing. And, you know, it was very unusual for the chief of staff not to be the guy who ran that order.

[08:40:04] CAMEROTA: Right.

CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: It was certainly unusual for them not to consult with the secretary of defense, secretary of -- or the State Department, the director of Homeland Security, the attorney general. All of those things would have been done, I suspect, had the chief of staff been in charge of that process.

CUOMO: Right.


CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: All right, David Axelrod, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

AXELROD: OK, guys.

CUOMO: I'll disagree in as much as we are reporting is that there is tension in there right now and people are getting --

CAMEROTA: But nobody's been fired.

CUOMO: No, no, nobody's been fired.

CAMEROTA: I'm reserving shakeup.

CUOMO: So shakeup means fired?


CUOMO: All right, then that's fine.

CAMEROTA: Very good.

CUOMO: So, there's no question that there's a lot of frustration going on within the White House right now. They don't like the way the travel ban has been perceived, even how it's being defined. It started off as a Muslim ban. Rudy Giuliani was tasked with making a Muslim ban legal. Now they don't like it being called a Muslim ban. So, what can be done?

Another story, tech leaders are venting to the White House and we're going to tell you their concerns, next.


[08:45:00] CAMEROTA: Time for "CNN Money Now."

Apple and Google are just some of the tech companies drafting a joint letter opposing President Trump's travel ban. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with the details.

What have you learned?


Well, we're talking about Google, Apple, Uber, Microsoft, FaceBook. No official comment from those companies yet, but here's what they want. There is the practical argument. These are global companies with thousands of workers who have visas. They need to be able to travel with predictability.

And there's a moral argument. These companies want clarity on how the Trump White House plans to treat the 750,000 so-called dreamers who are unsure about whether they will be deported.

The company's banding together on more than one front this morning. A new coalition of more than 100 companies and industry groups is fighting any proposed border adjustment tax, saying it would lead to higher prices at Best Buy, Ikea, Macy's, Target and Walmart. It will cost each American family $1,700 a year in extra costs. Proponents, though, of the border adjustment tax say it will bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

On a whole lot of fronts, Chris, you're seeing companies start to speak up here.


CUOMO: All right, Christine, thank you very much.

Up next, details of the tense call between President Trump and Australia's leader from the reporter who broke the story.

CAMEROTA: But first, what you eat can affect the texture and even color of your hair. Nutritionist Lisa Drayer shares her tips for healthy hair in today's "Food as Fuel."

CUOMO: Even if your hair is fake?


LISA DRAYER, NUTRITIONIST AND HEALTH JOURNALIST: Good hair care doesn't start with shampoo. It starts with protein. Your hair is mostly made of protein. So the quality and quantity of protein in your diet plays an important role. At least a quarter of your daily calories should come from excellent sources, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, peanut butter and Greek yogurt. Make sure you're also getting enough iron and zinc. Low levels of these minerals can lead to brittle hair or even hair loss. Certain sea foods, like oysters, as well as dark meat poultry are good sources. So are tofu, lentils and beans. Now, if you choose a plant source, be sure to drink a little orange juice with it. The vitamin c will help the body better absorb the iron.



[08:50:54] CUOMO: As we have been reporting all morning, President Trump had a heated phone call last weekend with Australia's prime minister, not the cordial one that was described. The main issue, President Trump does not like an agreement made under the Obama administration to resettle some refugees that are being kept in horrible conditions in Australia.

Let's talk to one of the journalist who broke the story, Phillip Rucker, national political reporter for "The Washington Post." Also joining us, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker.

I owe you breakfast, Rucker, not you, Drucker, because you were up very late last night and now you're here again for us this morning. The White House says this was a nice call, a pro forma call. "The New York Times," CNN, and starting with you at "The Washington Post," you heard a different story. What did you hear?

PHILIP RUCKER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's right. It was a rather contentious call and at times even hostile. You know, the president -- President Trump, it only lasted about 25 minutes. They talked about that refugee plan. Trump felt very strongly that that was a bad deal. That it would hurt him politically in the United States. And, more importantly, in his mind, that it would be a threat to U.S. national security. He even drew a comparison to the Boston Marathon bombing, telling the prime minister of Australia that he doesn't want Australia exporting, quote, "the next Boston bombers," and that's according to the readout of the call we had from senior U.S. officials.

CAMEROTA: Philip, do you -- you had, obviously, a scoop. You have a source who explained all of this. Do -- were you able to get any sense of what the reaction was from Australia? This was not the phone conversation the prime minister was expecting to have.

RUCKER: It -- it is not. It's been huge news in Australia. And I followed a lot of it on social media. And what the prime minister had to say in his radio interviews last night and, you know, he acknowledged that the phone call was testy, and -- but he also came away with an assurance in his mind from Trump that the U.S. would honor that agreement for the refugees. However, our sources in the U.S. are telling us that Trump used the phrase "my intention." My intention is to honor that agreement. That leaves him a little bit of wiggle room as a negotiator if he chooses to back out of it at a later date.

CUOMO: Well, he also tweeted this morning, I'll study this terrible deal or something. You know, the Trump --

RUCKER: That's right.

CUOMO: Trump was very negative on it.


CUOMO: Now, Mr. Drucker, you believe that the White House is OK with this reckoning of the phone call making its way into the media, even though it did not spin it this way initially.

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORR., "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Yes. So I -- I'm just not so sure that they don't mind the fact that, at least for the president's base, but even others, that they see somebody who's doing what he said he would do, talk tough, even to our allies, who he has argued for years, and not just during the campaign, have been taking advantage of our generosity, and that he was going to reconfigure agreements that he didn't think were in the interest of the United States. He was clearly critical of agreements that Obama reached with various allies.

And, look, he wouldn't be the first president to do that. I mean President Obama was critical of deals that George W. Bush reached with allies of ours, Iraq, Poland, the Czech Republic. He reoriented U.S. policy, backed away from agreements. So I -- I -- we do know, and I'm sure Phil could speak to this, that the president is sensitive to criticism, but -- and so they may not like necessarily how this is playing here and in different places around the world. But I'm not so sure they're upset with the fact that, you know, as they would probably say it, the media is once again all spun up about something and they're missing the entire point of what the president said and what the president accomplished.

CUOMO: Yes. CAMEROTA: Philip, what about that? Is it your impression that Mr. Trump is OK with this story being out as captured by you and CNN?

RUCKER: I think so. I think if he were not OK with it, he would have tweeted something differently last night. But I think David's exactly right, nobody elected Donald Trump to make, you know, diplomatic niceties. They elected him to reconfigure the world order. That's what he promised to do. His whole inaugural address was about America first. And this is the very definition of America first. He's re- evaluating the deal on refugees in the interest of America and not really caring about our relationship with Australia or the fact that we've been allies for half a century.

[08:50:18] CUOMO: Philip Rucker, what do you make of this reporting that the Aussie prime minister was saying, well, you know, he dealt with me as a bully, and the way to deal with a bully is to bully back? Do you believe that, that that's accurate, and what could that mean?

RUCKER: You know, I don't really know. I have less information about how the prime minister handled the call. But it seems like he's dealing with his own politics at home, trying not to look weak. I mean it's bad for him if he comes across in Australia looking like he couldn't stand up to the president, to President Trump. And so I think his people are trying to spin this in the most positive way back home.

CAMEROTA: Philip Rucker, thank you for sharing your reporting with us. It's great to get it directly from the source.

RUCKER: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, thank you for standing by and being with us all morning.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello is going to pick up after this very quick break and they will be bringing you President Trump's speech at the annual National Prayer Breakfast as soon as he takes the stage. We'll see you tomorrow.

CUOMO: Have a good morning.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me.

[09:00:01] The Trump White House rattling nerves among friends and foes alike. It's Americans for -- as America's foreign policy takes on a more combative tone.