Return to Transcripts main page


Soldier Shoots Machete-Wielding Attacker Near Louvre; Is Trump's Foreign Policy Moving Toward Obama's?; Rift with Australia Triggers Damage Control; GOP Struggling to Gut Obamacare. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching NEW DAY. It is Friday, February 3, 6 a.m. here in New York. We do begin with breaking news out of Paris. A man wielding a knife rushing soldiers near the Louvre Museum, prompting one soldier to open fire. The man reportedly screaming, "Allah Akbar."

[05:58:57] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The underground mall at the world-renowned museum is on lockdown. There are about 200 people inside. The Paris prosecutor did open a terror investigation. We learned a second person has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Let's take you straight to Paris. We have CNN's Melissa Bell with the very latest. What do we know about why they are keeping these people on lockdown and the general situation, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the end, Chris, the employees and the visitors here at the Louvre were kept inside the building for an hour and a half. They were moved as soon as this incident happened, just before 10 a.m. local time. A couple of hours now to secure parts of the museum. They may have now been allowed to leave. They were evacuated a little while ago. Many of the employees told not to speak to the press.

However, what we do know and we have confirmed, and French authorities were very quick on this to get through to the press and confirm more details. Just before 10 a.m., this machete-wielding man who was carrying backpacks went for policemen and soldiers who were guarding the Louvre in an attack at the foot of the staircase, as you just said, that is beneath the Louvre museum. Just beneath this pyramid. What we call in French its carousel. It is an underground shopping mall here at the Louvre Museum.

He lunged for them, managed to wound one of those soldiers to the scalp before being shot several times and wounded. Now fairly quickly, the area was secured, and the investigating officers were able to get to work to try and work out exactly what happened.

We don't know much about this man's motivations, but have had confirmation from police that he did shout "Allah Akbar" as he lunged for those policemen and soldiers in that attack. Also, Bernard Cazeneuve, France's prime minister, has now confirmed that French authorities believed that this was an attack of a terrorist nature. We don't for the time being know very much more than that, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Melissa. Obviously, the big follow-up will be was it coordinated? Were there others? Check back with us when you get information. Thank you very much for scrambling to the scene. Appreciate it.

All right. Now to President Trump's unpredictable foreign policy agenda, suddenly looking a lot like President Obama's, the administration calling out Russia for aggression in Ukraine. Warning Israel about new settlements in the West Bank and threatening Iran with sanctions towards the latest missile test. The same approaches taken by the previous administration. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Let's get the latest from CNN's Jeff Zeleny, live at the White House -- Jeff.


There's no question that President Trump is still forming his foreign policy, and there are key distinctions from President Obama without -- without a doubt. But we're also seeing emerging signs this morning that President Trump sounds a lot different than candidate Trump.


ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump telling Israel not so fast with settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The White House releasing a statement, warning Israel that the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Those words sounding similar to the Obama administration's approach to the settlements.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.

ZELENY: And far different than the tone Mr. Trump took on the campaign trail.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity.

ZELENY: But the White House noting that President Trump has not taken an official position yet and will continue discussions when he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two weeks.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia.

ZELENY: And tough talk coming from U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, condemning Russia for a recent surge of violence in eastern Ukraine.

HALEY: We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnations of Russian actions.

ZELENY: Haley's rhetoric far stronger than the president's posture so far on Russia. But Thursday's remarks coming as no surprise to the White House. Sources tell CNN they signed off on Haley's speech.

Meanwhile, today, the White House could announce additional tougher sanctions on Iran following Sunday's ballistic missile test. These sanctions expected to be similar to actions taken by former President Obama. Mr. Trump also not ruling out military action.

TRUMP: I haven't eased anything.

ZELENY: Foreign policy center stage on Rex Tillerson's first day as secretary of state.


ZELENY: Speaking with foreign leaders of Israel, Germany and Mexico but also doing damage control after the president's tense phone call with Australia.

TRUMP: President Obama said that they were going to take probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons, and they were going to bring them and take them into this country, and I just said why.

ZELENY: Republican leaders alarmed by the president's tone toward a long-standing U.S. ally.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The relationship between the United States and Australia is of the most, greatest importance; and I am concerned about the effect of this difference.


ZELENY: Now today President Trump also receives his first big piece of economic news, the January jobs report. Now, that is an indicator he will be judged by. But he's also meeting with business leaders here at the White House.

One person who will not be there, the CEO of Uber, who called the president yesterday and said, "I can't come. I don't agree with your immigration order signed last week." Of course, getting so much blowback about that that that meeting is still happening later today -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Jeffrey. Interesting. Elon Musk said that he is going to go, even though he may not agree. He says you can't get anything changed if you don't have interchange.

All right, let's bring in our panel. CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein; senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker; and CNN political commentator and contributor to "The Atlantic," Professor Peter Beinart.

Let's put up this quick graphic that shows these apparent parallels and changes from what we had heard from President Trump. It now sounds more like former President Obama. Look at your screen. Israel: stop building settlements, they're not helpful to peace. Russia: sanctions for Ukraine incursions to remain in place, according to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., until they abandon the peninsula. Very aggressive. Iran: on notice, additional sanctions for missile launch.

Peter, is this a return to more Obama-esque language, and if so, good or bad.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it is. It seems like Trump had a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, and that probably was the reason that he put out something on settlements.

But if you look at it carefully, what it says is don't build beyond existing borders. That means don't build new settlements, but it doesn't stop Netanyahu from building up in the settlements that already exist. The statement is also, by the way, totally incoherent, because it says first we don't think settlements are an impediment to peace and then says they may not be helpful. I think they wanted to give King Abdullah something. Maybe Rex Tillerson is hearing the same things from other Arab countries, but this is not exactly a red light to Benjamin Netanyahu.

CAMEROTA: OK, so Ron, is this the influence already of Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson, already that things -- that language seems to be moderating and things seem to be shifting?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Russia you'd have to say is clearly a modulated or different language in the campaign. Look, I think every president I've ever seen that I've covered runs for office saying that they are going to make the world sit up and salute more than their predecessor did, that they're going to be tougher or smarter or both. And that people are going to do what we want, more than the dummy before me was able to get them to do.

And then they get into office and they find out that there are other nations with other priorities and other points of leverage, and that our leverage is ultimately limited. And I think you know what? Look at what we have seen here. Both Netanyahu and Putin moved very aggressively to take -- to take advantage of what they thought was a more accommodating attitude from President Trump. And I think you're seeing some pushback here. But in the end on many, many fronts, they're going to end up in a very different place than President Obama.

CUOMO: Do you think, David, that there's anything to the notion that Bannon went out strong with his advice on how to deal with Australia, how to deal with Mexico, and he was celebrating the disruption and there was push back within the administration that, yes, disruption means destruction for us. We look terrible on these. Let's try and get to some positions where people start liking what we're doing. Do you buy that?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, look, it's possible, but usually these things take more planning. So you know, you don't end up with Nikki Haley saying what she said at the U.N. on a dime. I mean, three is planning and there is thought that goes behind these things.

What I find fascinating about all this is that the Trump administration, in talking about Russia at the U.N., through Nikki Haley, and it's sort of confusing. Everybody gets to have it both ways on the Israel settlement statement. It's old-school diplomacy where you're trying to throw a bone to everybody. And this is something that Trump really said he wasn't going to do.

And I'm not being critical here. What I'm pointing out is we're seeing a case now here where, especially for people concerned that he was going to be too disruptive of U.S. foreign policy in terms of the post-World War II architecture that we have set up are now seeing him play some very old-school diplomacy in that statement on Israel.

On the one hand, he says settlements are not an impediment to peace. And so for people on the right, they're going to read that as a break from Obama.

On the other hand, it says that they're not helpful, which is something that President George W. Bush's administration had...

CUOMO: What is something that's not an impediment and not helpful?

BEINART: It makes no sense at all.

CUOMO: Is there any chance that there's...

BEINART: I think what he's really saying is don't embarrass us too much. Remember, Netanyahu was under pressure from people on his right to do things that would really put the final nail in the coffin.

For instance, to build in the area of E-1, which would be a death knell, even annex parts of the West Bank. I think, basically, the message is Netanyahu, kill the two-state solution quietly, please. Not in such a way that's really going to blow back on us.

BROWNSTEIN: And you know, look, while all of this is going on, 24 hours earlier, the head of his trade council, Peter Navarro, he gives an interview to the "Financial Times of London." He attacks the E.U. again and says Germany is undervaluing -- devaluing the euro to get unfair advantage and its exports.

CUOMO: Merkel says it's not.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. A broad scale attack on Germany. There is, I think a broad questioning of kind of the post-World War II architecture that is underway, but there are limits.

I mean, I think that, you know, this is -- this is a White House looking at Netanyahu in Israel, Putin in Russia responding to their original signals and saying, "Whoa. There's only so far we can let this go before it becomes untenable for us, not only at home but around the world."

DRUCKER: And also, just watch to see what the Trump administration actually backs up some of this, let's say, new tough talk with Russian. I mean, President Obama, this would be sort of like Obama, talked tough on Russia and what it's doing in the Ukraine and its invasion of the Crimea. But it didn't do much about it.

[06:10:11] Let's see if the Trump administration over time follows up on Ambassador Haley's remarks with some actual tough action to try and put the breaks on Russian expansion.

CUOMO: We had a good interview yesterday with Tony Blinken, who was an architect of much of what President Obama did with respect to Ukraine. And he kept telling us that they helped the Ukraine military a lot.

Now, this becomes more relevant today, because John McCain put out this letter, saying if you want to help Ukraine, give them the heavy weapons that will allow them to defend themselves that they're asking for. Obama didn't do that. Do you think that will change?

CAMEROTA: But, like I said, they helped with other weaponry.

CUOMO: Right. And then McCain made the point in his letter that, no, they need these. This is what they need.

BEINART: First of all, you can't really be tough, especially on Russia, if you're not in lock step with your European allies. This is part of the larger problem here, right?

The only way, if the Europeans, the Obama administration was pretty successful in getting the Europeans to also impose sanctions. If you're not on the same page with Germany and working with them, your sanctions are not going to be that effective.

I think what you see in general is a huge division inside the administration between people like Tillerson and Mattis who have a more traditional Republican foreign policy view, strengthen our Allies and be tough on the adversaries; and people like Bannon and, to some degree, Flynn who want to kind of disrupt everything, change around the chess board in dramatic ways, more anti-European, more pro-Russia. I think you're seeing this incoherence because of the division.

BROWNSTEIN: And it was Donald Trump, who said in the interview I could care less if the European Union dissolves. And, you know, like I said you have a president now who has criticized the core economic and foreign policy decisions of Germany, which has been some of the lynchpin of our allies in Europe in terms of denouncing her for allowing so many Syrian refugees in.

So I think there is still a lot of disruption ahead, but this, I think, is a reminder that other -- there are other players in the world. They respond to your signals and ultimately, you have to kind of set some limits even if you want to change policy. CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you for all the context. Great to talk to


So this was a signature Trump campaign promise. Repeal and replace Obamacare, of course. But Republicans seem to be having a tough time delivering. What does this mean for you? We dig deeper.


[06:16:18] CUOMO: Top Republicans adding another "R" to the plan to dismantle Obamacare. They now want to repair, repeal and replace as the effort to eliminate the Affordable Care Act seemingly hits a wall.

House Republicans also repealing an Obama-era gun regulation.

Let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly to break it all down. He's live for us on Capitol Hill. The gun measure is a little tricky. How do you see it all?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is Chris, and it's important for context purposes to kind of lay out what actually happened. Look, the Senate and the House as controlled by Republicans actually having a mechanism to roll back Obama-era regulations going back, at least according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, about six months.

They've started to use this mechanism, only used once before in history, to start cracking back on those rules. One of those: a rule created by the Obama administration in the final days that required the Social Security Administration to send over the names to the national background check, National Criminal Background Check of anybody who is unable to manage their disability payments.

The point being, if you have mental illness, you shouldn't be able to have a gun. Makes sense, right? Except there were some major objections, lack of due process. And this wasn't something that is just NRA-backed or Republican-backed, which is also the ACLU, some of the individuals on the left also had problems with the fact that they didn't feel like there was enough due process for this system, this process to actually work.

That's why you have seen Republicans vote to remove this. They already did it in the House. They are likely to do it in the Senate, as well. But as you noted, this is something that is immediately going to grab headlines, because this is part of the Obama administration's kind of unilateral action to take action in the wake of so many of those shootings in 2015-2016.

The Senate will move forward on that. That's legislative action that's actually happening. What's not happening? Legislative action on the Affordable Care Act. And as one Republican aide put it to me yesterday, legislating is hard. And he wasn't being glib. It really is. We're seeing that play out in real time.

As you noted, one of the issues right now is how do you actually get this done. Repeal, everybody agrees on that, but how do you replace it? One of the bigger issues is I think right now, as you noted, Chris, is people are saying "repair" instead. Well, they want to repair the system. The problem is how do you actually get a bill through to make that happen? They still don't have answers on that in Capitol Hill. It's a long process, one we're going to be keeping a very close eye on -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Legislation is hard. We will quote you, every lawmaker on that. Phil, thank you very much.

Let's bring back David Drucker, as well as joining us now, CNN political commentator and political anchor of Spectrum News, Errol Louis; and CNN contributor and "Washington Examiner" reporter Salena Zito. Great to have all of you. Let's start by talking about Obamacare.

So now you hear the new "R" word, "repair." Here is Lamar Alexander. He is, obviously, Republican from Tennessee: "I think of it as a collapsing bridge, but in the meantime, we repair it. No one is talking about repealing anything until there is concrete practical alternative to offer Americans in its place."

Errol, that's different.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is a little different. That's a little different. Another senator compared it to a burning house, trying to repair the roof on a burning house.

And all of this was known, should come as no surprise. As they -- in their flush of victory, they suddenly now have the whole plate. They've got to eat the whole plate that they have been asking for for seven years. And now they're going to try and digest it. I don't think it's going to work. I mean, we're going to find out that there are many more deadlines than we thought. The legislative calendar and trying to get this done we saw when we put Obamacare in place, it can take quite a while.

On the other hand, we have some really close-in deadline where the insurance company have to make decisions this spring about the rates that they're going to charge. They want to know what the rules of the road are. If they didn't have a package already to go, it's virtually impossible to try and do a repeal and replace in time for anybody to feel it in 2018. So, in effect, a true replacement, that ship has sailed.

[06:20:15] CUOMO: All right. Reality aside, this is, in big part, about delivering on what you said. They've been saying "repeal and replace." They're trying to slip in another "R" so it kind of sounds like they're staying where they were.

But people have expectations. The people that you keep going out and talking to all over the country, they don't want a half measure. They put somebody in who supposedly is a human full measure.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, I think there's a balancing act that's happening right now where as people want this replaced but they want it done in -- not hurried and not rushed. Sort of in the way that Obamacare was.

There was a lot of, you know, I mean, this was the president's signature legislation. This is what he wanted to do. He had buy-in from both chambers in Congress. And he wanted to get this done. And there was a little bit too much rushing, and there was not as much transparency.

And so people out there, I think there is a willingness to suspend anger if they see that -- I think what they need to project is that we're working on it.

CAMEROTA: But not so fast, Ron Brownstein just left the set, and he crunches all the numbers.

CUOMO: The professor.

CAMEROTA: The professor. And he explained to us that the biggest beneficiaries of Obamacare are non-college white people in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Pennsylvania. They use Obamacare. They are the people who voted for Donald Trump. The paradox.

DRUCKER: It doesn't mean they like it.

CAMEROTA: Right. So they use it. They have it. It doesn't mean they like it. And what Ron posited was that they also don't necessarily believe he'll take it away from them.

DRUCKER: Well, he doesn't -- they don't think that President Trump is going to do anything that's going to hurt them. They don't like Obamacare, and they're looking for somebody to make the healthcare reform system better.

Look, I'll be a little bit of a contrarian here. A lot of this is white noise. They are going to proceed with repealing the Affordable Care Act and moving toward replacing it. They're going to do it in multiple bills, not one bill. Do they totally know yet what it's going to look like? No. That's a problem.

But the political will from their base and from themselves alone is just too great for them not to do it. So the question is does it break down in the legislating? Because, as Phil Mattingly mentioned, it is very difficult to do this. Because we talk about it as getting rid of Obamacare, replacing it with something. Basically, they're taking one-sixth of the economy and reforming it all over again.

And so it's a very difficult thing to do. But don't forget: one of the reasons that they're proceeding with this is because, even though the Affordable Care act has grown a little bit more popular in recent days, as I think sort of there's liberal nostalgia for the bill, and they're one of the reasons there's dissatisfaction. One of the reasons the numbers are so low, there's a large group of people in this country that want to see better healthcare deliver, access and cost.

CUOMO: Better is often a function of how different. I don't think it's just democratic nostalgia. I think people are starting to set in that the number of people getting killed with premiums is small compared to the people getting health care in a way that they couldn't get it before.

But we'll see what the Democrats [SIC] do with it. They have an opportunity now.

This other one that's making headlines this morning. The rollback of the gun restriction bill, in effect. This is a tricky one, because people are jumping on it and saying, "Look. Look at them rolling back. They want anybody to have a gun." But this was a tricky move that went on here, Errol. What's your read?

LOUIS: That's right. My sense of it is this may have been an Obama sort of combination of the departing administration, genuinely frustrated and wanting to sort of get back at the people who frustrated all of their efforts to actually legislate serious gun control, especially after Sandy Hook. That's 50 percent of it.

And the other 50 percent, I'd say yes, setting a trap. Something that would be sprung when they tried to repeal it, giving the advocates a talking point to say, "Look, just like you've got jurisdictions that will let you, even if you're legally blind, get a gun, you've gun nuts out there who are going to let you have a gun even if you've been diagnosed or there's evidence that you don't quite have all of your mental faculties."

CAMEROTA: Right, but isn't that true? Isn't that what's happening? Isn't the headline here that the one thing that everybody agrees on, gun enthusiasts and gun control activists, keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill? And this, by reversing this action, it would allow something like 75,000 people with mental disorders so severe they cannot work to get a gun.

ZITO: This is one gun issue that both sides are on the same page. Both the ACLU and the NRA. This does not allow the people, in this little nugget of it, due process; and that is an incredibly important part that's missing.

It's not all mentally ill people. It has to do with the people that are on the Social Security rolls. And a lot of times their mental facilities are decided by faceless bureaucrats that never see them. So, you know, it's -- it's a right being taken away from them.

CAMEROTA: OK. We have to wrap there. Thank you. Obviously, this is just the beginning, panel. Thank you very much for all of that perspective.

CUOMO: A very important question that got a little bit caught up in the noise. We'll be focused on more now. What exactly happened leading up to the raid targeting al Qaeda in Yemen.

There are different accounts from Obama administration officials and the current White House. This matters. We'll get to it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: We are learning more about that deadly raid in Yemen that claimed the life of a beautiful seal. The White House says critical information on al Qaeda was gathered and they claimed, despite the loss, the mission was not compromised.

CNN's Ryan Brown is live at the Pentagon with details. What have you learned, Ryan?


We're starting to learn a lot more about the sequence of events, kind of the timing involved. You know, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary yesterday, kind of ran through some of this. We believe that the Pentagon actually recommended this mission in December, actually before the -- Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Now, White House officials from the Obama administration have kind of pushed back a little bit on the notion that the administration was kind of greenlit, that it was entirely --