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Perez Wins DNC Chairmanship; Trump To Make First Address To Congress Tomorrow; Father Of Slain Navy SEAL Refuses To Meet With Trump; South Korea: Kim Jong Un Ordered Half Brother's Death. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 27, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), CHAIR, NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION: These governors will make a decision on the redistricting that will come up in 2021. We are down to 16 Democratic governors. We have got to start winning governors if we're going to win at the state and local level because, you know, the lines will be drawn for 10 years of what lines you'll run in, and if they fix these lines where we can't win we're out of the game. We have to win big on 2018 in these governors' races or our party's in a tough position.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Gerrymandering --


CUOMO: -- the drawings of the districts for congressional reps are done by state legislatures. If you don't have representation there you lose before the game even begins.


CUOMO: Terry McAuliffe, thank you very much.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

MCAULIFFE: Approved by the legislature and finalized by the governor. That's why it's important.

CUOMO: Yes, sir -- Alisyn.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. Thanks, Chris.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, President Trump set to address Congress for the first time, so what can we expect and how will what he says affect you? Michael Smerconish has thoughts on all of that as well as, yes, the Oscars.


[07:35:00] CAMEROTA: President Trump will make his first address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night. What will he say? Let's get a preview with Michael Smerconish, CNN political commentator and host of CNN's "SMERCONISH" as well as "THE MICHAEL SMERCONISH PROGRAM" on Sirius XM. Michael, great to see you this morning. So what are you going to be listening for in this first big address in front of Congress?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, CNN "SMERCONISH," HOST, SIRIUS XM "THE MICHAEL SMERCONISH PROGRAM": I think tone -- tone more than substance because I doubt it will be the same tone that he offered at CPAC. You know, if you come in and you're talking about fake news and you're railing against the media and you're using all of those Trump talking points for very conservative folks, you're losing half the audience that would be there in the well of the Congress and half of those who will be watching on television.

I've never seen a pivot from President Trump, from candidate Trump, so I don't think it will be a different individual. I just don't think that he'll be stressing the same things that he did at the end of last week.

CUOMO: Will what got him here get him where he wants to be when it comes to the Tea Party? I guess, really, they will decide that, right? Do you think the Tea Party has what it takes to man up, hold onto their convictions, and fight the president's plan if it's not paid for dollar for dollar? Or do you think that they're going to respect their constituents, most of whom are Trump people, and just swallow it?

SMERCONISH: I think that the lesson of President George W. Bush on fiscal matters is that they're not going to give President Trump enough rope in that respect. In other words, I think they will hold him financially accountable.

I was listening to your conversation with Gov. McAuliffe. There's a fundamental question on the Affordable Care Act that needs to be answered, and that is are they going to require that all Americans have health insurance? And if the answer to that individual mandate question is no, then there's not going to be enough money in the kitty to provide protection for everybody. I mean, that's the fundamental fiscal issue and I don't think they've yet resolved that.

CAMEROTA: So, Michael, I know you like talking about politics but you really like talking about the Oscars and what happened at the Academy Awards. If people are just waking up they need to know that there was a major faux pas and the wrong movie was announced as the winner, so let's recap this.


WARREN BEATTY, OSCAR PRESENTER: And the Academy Award for Best Picture --


JORDAN HOROWITZ, PRODUCER, "LA LA LAND": Guys, guys, I'm sorry -- no.There's a mistake. "Moonlight," you guys won Best Picture.

BEATTY: "Moonlight" won. This is not a joke. HOROWITZ: This is not a joke. I'm afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke. "Moonlight" has won Best Picture. (Holds up card) "Moonlight," Best Picture.


CUOMO: Hashtag the snatch. You see him take that card from Warren Beatty?

CAMEROTA: Michael, who do you blame here?

SMERCONISH: I blame Warren Beatty. And look, this happened three hours after I'd gone to bed but this morning I have Zaprudered the tape and I've been watching your coverage. And if you pay very close attention, when Warren Beatty gets that envelope and he pulls out the card, he goes back into the envelope because he figures there's got to be another one. And now we know that the card that he's holding says Emma Stone, "La La Land" and so he stammers a bit and then he passes the hot potato to poor Faye Dunaway. She looks down, she sees "La La Land" and she blurts it out.


SMERCONISH: Warren Beatty -- and people are saying, oh PricewaterhouseCoopers, sure. Somebody gave them the wrong envelope --

CUOMO: True.

SMERCONISH: -- but Warren Beatty should've headed that off at the pass.

CAMEROTA: Except, Michael, this has never happened before. You don't think that you have the wrong envelope so he's thinking like, surely my eyes are playing tricks on me and he shows it to her like, can you make sense of this? And she goes, you know, "La La Land."

SMERCONISH: Oh, no. No, no, no. This -- no, this would be like Cuomo handing you bad news, you know, like --


SMERCONISH: -- real fake news --

CUOMO: It's true and --

SMERCONISH: -- and saying here, Camerota, you read it.

CUOMO: You know what, he makes a good point.

SMERCONISH: I'm not going to read it.

CUOMO: He makes a good point. As someone who is charged with having to clean up mess lot here, he should've done it differently. He did hand it off to her. I'm a fan of Warren Beatty but even though he got bad information he did let her deliver the bad news. CAMEROTA: Which one of us cleans up the mess?

CUOMO: I do a lot of cleaning.

CAMEROTA: You clean up the mess --

CUOMO: Lot of -- lot of cleaning.

CAMEROTA: -- or do you cause the mess?

CUOMO: I'm like a human Swiffer.

CAMEROTA: Do you -- do you cause the mess and then step in?

CUOMO: No, I cause trouble. I cause trouble. I'm here to fight the good fight.

CAMEROTA: Yes, wow. That's an interesting interpretation. So, Michael, isn't it -- I mean, it was just -- it was epic to watch. You could see the wheels turning with Warren Beatty.

CUOMO: Yes, they were turning. They were saying here, you say it.

CAMEROTA: I don't --

CUOMO: Who wants to own this moment forever?

[07:40:00] CAMEROTA: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Well, there's a lot of -- I thought there was a lot of class and dignity --


SMERCONISH: -- that was exhibited. I mean, my gosh, you know, you'd have to feel so embarrassed if you had delivered an acceptance speech for an award now that you didn't really receive. And yet, they all took it like champions and I thought that was a great moment. And frankly, it created more buzz than even the jokes that Jimmy Kimmel told about the president.

CUOMO: And caused a nice moment between the two movies, too, you know?

CAMEROTA: Definitely.

CUOMO: And, although, Smerconish's theory is borne out by the way that producer took the card from Warren Beatty. He shared your feelings about what should have been done.

CAMEROTA: But, you know live T.V., that's the beauty of it. Sometimes a lot of --

CUOMO: That's true.

CAMEROTA: -- spontaneity happens. Michael Smerconish, thank you very much. Great to talk to you.

SMERCONISH: See you guys.

CUOMO: All right, a heavy story this morning. Another Gold Star father taking on the president. This father's son died in the Yemen raid. He was that Navy SEAL chief. He wants something done about it that's not being done. We'll tell you, next.


CUOMO: All right. A Gold Star father is demanding answers from President Trump. Ryan Owens is the Navy SEAL killed in a terror raid in Yemen during the president's first week in office. So, in an interview with "The Miami Herald" Owens' father, Bill, says, "Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation. The government owes my son an investigation." The father now revealing that he refused to meet with the president when his son's body came back home.

Let's discuss this with retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata. He served in the military for 28 years. He's got a new book coming out, a novel called "Besieged" which takes a look at domestic terrorism in the United States. General, always a pleasure. Thank you for being with us.


CUOMO: I want to talk to you about the book. Now look, you've had to deal with this type of hardship. The families give you the most precious thing in their lives --

TATA: Right.

CUOMO: -- their loved ones. They put their lives on the line. Sometimes those lives are lost. What complicates the situation here is there are investigations.

TATA: Right.

CUOMO: There are three right now according our reporting, but one of them -- or none of them is what this father wants. He wants an investigation into the decision-making by the White House. Should he get that?

TATA: I think -- I think this father deserves whatever he asks for. He's given his treasure to the United States. And having been on one knee, holding a flag and giving that to a widow, widower, parents of deceased service members, it is the most gut-wrenching feeling that any commanding officer can have, Chris. And so, the father is just grief-stricken and I understand his angst and his anguish, and the White House should give the investigation that he asked for.

And there should be a full vetting of the decision-making cycle because we're a learning country. We go into -- and make decisions and we execute operations. And internally, we need to learn, OK, maybe everything was executed perfectly and it was just one of those things where a great Navy SEAL gave the last full measure of devotion. And maybe there was a decision-making flaw, I don't know, and so there's that debate and I think the father deserves an answer.

CUOMO: But, except that it's just not usually done. You guys do it. The military reviews every one of these good outcomes, mixed outcomes, bad outcomes, but on the political side we don't usually see it. From what you understand of this situation are they any questions that you have about how the political decisions were made here?

TATA: I don't have any questions, Chris, you know. My understanding is that this operation was planned in the Obama administration. It transitioned to execution in the Trump administration. And Ithink the father may have a point there. Just look at that transition piece and to make sure that all the information flowed correctly and the decision-making was done correctly. So I think it's a perfectly legitimate thing that someone within the administration can take a solid look at and give an answer to the father. You know, if we don't take care of our fallen then we might as well take a step back and say what are we doing here?

CUOMO: McMaster, the new national security adviser, goes and addresses his staff. He says hey, this radical Islamic terror language, I get how it works for the politicians, doesn't work for us. It empowers the enemy. That's what they want is to know the faith and we don't want to give that to them.

TATA: Right.

CUOMO: That is 180 degrees from everything we've heard the President of the United States say. What's your take?

TATA: So, I know H.R. He's a great man -- perfect pick for the job, by the way. A smart individual, loves soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and just the right guy for the job. I disagree with him on this, quite frankly. If you don't call the enemy what they are, particularly when you have a transnational threat like this and you can't say we are fighting "X" country -- you know, what -- pick a country.

Now you've got these transnational actors -- ISIS, al Qaeda, and then different splinter cells of al Qaeda. They have a couple of things in common. One is they're extreme and the other is that they're Islamic. And so, the -- calling them Islamicextremists, I think, helps us identify. And when you look at some of the actions where the FBI knew Omar Mateen, for example, interviewed him twice. He was an Islamic extremist even though he was self-radicalized at home. They gave him the benefit of the doubt and you see what happened there.

And so, that kind of thing permeates down into institutions like the FBI and other agencies, so I think it's important that we call the enemy what they are.

CUOMO: So you go a step further in a new book, "Besieged."

TATA: I do. CUOMO: You are playing on one of the things that shakes the American people most, the idea that in their midst are people who want to kill them. So takes us through a little bit of what this book will introduce the audience to.

TATA: Well, our hero, Jake Mahegan -- this is the third novel in the series and it's a best-selling series -- and Mahegan has to rescue an autistic 11-year-old code-writing savant from the clutches of Iranian special forces in lower southeast North Carolina. And she's written this code that is about to do some really bad things with autonomous cars and other types of autonomous aerial systems, and Jake Mahegan has to stop the terror against the homeland.

And part of what I've always done is thought about how can our country be attacked, how can my troops be attacked. And so where I come up with some of these ideas is thinking what's the worst thing that can happen, particularly with new technology, and "Besieged" is a good story and it's off to a great start.

[07:50:11] CUOMO: And that's -- look, the novel -- the series are good stories and that's why they're read -- they're good. You're not trying to make them as commentaries on the --

TATA: No --

CUOMO: -- American situation.

TATA: -- I'm not.

CUOMO: What are you saying to people when they're coming up to you and they're saying so, I'm really afraid of these radical Muslims coming here and killing me. That's my big threat for me and my family. What do you tell them about the likelihood of someone coming here from abroad and killing them?

TATA: I'd tell them thank God for individuals like Chief Owens, the Navy SEAL, who was just killed in Yemen. And thank God for the American men and women that have signed up across all branches of service and all the intelligence agencies that do us -- and law enforcement officials -- every single day that are out there on the front lines, in the trenches, working for us and absolutely doing the hard work that needs to be done to help prevent attacks.

Because I know when I was in Afghanistan as deputy commander general, we captured al Qaeda, Taliban. We got information that actually prevented attacks on the homeland, so it's happening, you just don't hear it and that could be happening today. I'm sure it is happening today. And those individuals at all levels are working very hard to do one thing and that's keep America safe.

CUOMO: General, because of the work of men like you and the men and women out in the field, the idea of attacks from abroad coming here in the United States is often the stuff of fiction, and good fiction, in the case of "Besieged."

TATA: Thanks, Chris. CUOMO: Thank you very much, General. Always a pleasure. Great to have your take on it.

TATA: Great to be here.

CUOMO: -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. The murder mystery deepens. Who was behind the assassination of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? Well, South Korean officials now say they know who ordered the airport hit. The latest in a live report, next.


[07:56:00] CAMEROTA: OK, it's time for CNN Money Now. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center where the stock market is on fire.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is red hot, my dear. The Dow starts a new week at record highs -- 11 straight all- time closing highs. If the Dow does it again today it will tie the longest record streak ever. That was set back in 1987.

Warren Buffett's annual letter to shareholders features this interesting take on the economy. "Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers." His tips for making money today in stocks, buy index funds that mirror the S&P 500 and keep your fees to a minimum. But, he said in an interview this morning that he's doubled his stake in Apple, so he is bullish on Apple -- Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, Christine Romans. So, other news. A South Korea spy agency now says North Korean leaders of Kim Jong Un's ordered the assassination of his half-brother. The intelligence service says the killing was carried out by two of the North Korean regime's ministries. CNN international correspondent Alexandra Field live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with the latest on the investigation. This is certain to outrage the North Korean leader. How confident are South Korean authorities about this?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will no doubt infuriate the North Korean leader but a South Korean spy agency is going public, pinning this plot right to the top. They're doing it regardless and they say that this was a coordinated effort, Chris, involving two different assassination groups and also a support group. And they say that the four North Korean suspects who were believed to have left Malaysia immediately in the aftermath of the attack are all North Korean government officials.


FIELD: Two women captured on CCTV video accused of carrying a weapon of mass destruction into Kuala Lumpur's busy airport. (Video playing) This is the moment of the attack. Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un, dies 15 or 20 minutes later. Twelve days after, authorities find traces of the highly lethal nerve agent VX on his face and in his eyes.

The airport terminal that's been operating as normal is finally swept by crews in protective suits. They give it the all-clear. Police defend the timeline, saying they took protective measures once they fully understood the danger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is only on the Friday evening we received the call. We get confirmation. We feel that we have to do this screening process.

FIELD: Authorities from the suspects' home countries, Vietnam and Indonesia, say both women claimed they thought they were part of a prank. In Indonesia, the aunt of Siti Aisyah tells CNN weeks earlier her niece told her about a new job on a foreign T.V. show.

SITI AISYAH'S AUNT (through translator): At the beginning she was asked to put a hand-body lotion onto hands of strangers in order to make them angry. And then, at the second occasion, she was asked to put tomato sauce onto other people's body. So just basically doing work like that.

FIELD: Her niece must have been manipulated, she says. But Malaysian police say the women were trained to kill. Aisyah told Indonesia's deputy ambassador she was given a liquid similar to baby oil, paid about $90 U.S. dollars, and assigned the job by people she described as Japanese or Korean.

Investigators say the women were given that deadly substance by four North Korean men who fled the country immediately after the attack. They had been renting an apartment here in Kuala Lumpur. Almost two weeks after Kim Jong Nam was killed police raided it, collecting samples that have now been sent to a lab for testing.

The women arrived in Malaysia less than two weeks before the attack, one of them checking into at least two different hotels in the two days before it. The staff remembers her as the woman carrying a giant teddy bear.


FIELD: Memorable, indeed