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President Trump's Pick For Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Be On Capitol Hill For The Start Of His Confirmation Hearing; Revised Healthcare Plan For Vote On Thursday; New York City Police Departments Demand To Be Reimbursed; President Trump Has Pushed Out Information Right After Hearing It On His Favorite Network; North Korea Touted What It Calls A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Its Rocket Program. Aired 7:00-8:00p ET
Aired March 19, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: But here's one thing we know for sure, our own justice department sent a letter to the house intelligence committee. This was Trump's justice department saying there was no evidence of his wiretap claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: A President doesn't go and physically wiretap something. So if you take the President literally, it didn't happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No evidence of any wiretapping of Trump tower.
NUNES: There was no FISA warrant that I'm aware of to tap Trump tower.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what President Trump said was just patently false and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our German allies. It is continuing to grow in terms of damage and he needs to put an end to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Ryan Nobles joins me now from Washington.
Ryan, everyone will be holding their breath watching closely the FBI director's testimony tomorrow, how did we get to this point?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. It's important to remember that this all started in June as the primary campaign was wrapping up in a report emerged that the server of the Democratic National Committee had been hacked.
NOBLES (voice-over): The initial hack was soon connected to the Russian government. In wasting little time, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager linked the hack to then candidate Donald Trump. ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They possessed those emails
that Russian state actors were feeding the emails to hackers for the purpose of helping Trump.
NOBLES: Then just as the Democratic National Convention was about to start, WikiLeaks unloaded of troll of DNC emails. Among them, damaging private conversation. It did not take long for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump to embrace the hack and Russia's potential involvement.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.
NOBLES: As the Clinton campaign worked to contain the political damage, Trump refused to back down from his kind words about Russia and its controversial leader, Vladimir Putin.
TRUMP: I have already said, he is really very much of a leader. Far more than our President has been a leader.
NOBLES: Days before the second presidential debate in October, two major bombshells, first the department of homeland security and director of national intelligence issued a statement, blaming Russia for the hack. And second, WikiLeaks released another batch of stolen emails unloading the inbox of top Clinton advisor John Podesta. At that debate, once again Trump attempting to take the focus off of Russia.
TRUMP: She hasn't (INAUDIBLE) doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.
NOBLES: WikiLeaks wasn't done. More DNC emails were released on November 7th. The next night, a new president.
TRUMP: I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all Americans.
NOBLES: As he started to build his new administration, Trump still resisted blaming Russia.
TRUMP: It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. I mean they have no idea.
NOBLES: President Obama ordered a full review of how Russia meddled in the election which concluded it was working to help Trump.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC.
NOBLES: Just 22 days before Trump took office, President Obama imposed new sanctions on the Russian government. On that same day, incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn spoke on the phone with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It was later reveal he also texted the ambassador and met with him in person at Trump tower, an administration official has told CNN.
Trump's associates including vice president Mike Pence called the meetings introductory.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia.
NOBLES: But that turned out not to be true. Flynn specifically spoke about the sanctions. But Flynn wasn't the only one. Some Trump associates also held meetings with the ambassador at the Republican National Convention but insists they were only introductory gatherings. Attendee JD Gordon told CNN.
Then Senator Jeff Sessions was one of them. But appearing before Senate hearing on his confirmation, he said this when asked about possible contacts between the Trump and Russian officials.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not have communications with the Russians. And I'm unable to comment on it.
NOBLES: But after taking office, Sessions now attorney general, admitted that he too as a senator met with Kislyak twice during the campaign. But he said it was in his capacity as a senator, not a member of the Trump campaign.
Sessions decided to recuse himself from any investigation related to the campaign. Amidst all this, the President himself took to twitter, making this shock claim. Quote "how low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during this very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad or sick guy."
The accusations was made without any evidence to back it up. But led the White House to ask Congress to add this wrinkle to their broad investigation into Russia's local in the election. But at this point, even Republicans contend the evidence just isn't there.
[19:05:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's an actual tap of Trump tower.
NOBLES: Monday, Congressional leaders will attempt to unpack the many layers of this controversy, with the goal of making the situation clear for the American people.
NOBLES: And the White House continues to insist there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government setting the stage for Monday's hearing that -- high ranking officials such as FBI director James Comey, and national security director Mike Rogers will testify -- Ana.
CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, thanks for that very inclusive report. We appreciate it.
Safe to say the Russians might just be watching these proceedings closely as well even though many Russians CNN spoke to say it was question the election meddling would just go away.
Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen joins me now from Moscow.
So Fred, has the Kremlin put out any pre-battle to this hearing?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, certainly before this hearing will start, the Kremlin is already saying they don't believe that there is going to be anything new. It was so interesting because we asked the spokesman for Vladimir Putin for the president of Russia whether or not they would be watching this hearing. And they said no they wouldn't because they have other things to do.
But of course, they are indeed going to be watching very closely to see if anything new comes out. And you could really feel the frustration building up among the Russians over the past couple of weeks. You can see me, Ana, very, very closely, that they believe they want this topic to simply go away. They say they have answered all the questions. They say there hasn't been any evidence to link them to any sort of inference in the U.S. electoral process. And they also feel that in the U.S. discussion, their country is being demonized.
This is what we heard from Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: We faced the situation in Russia, all of a sudden, became let's say a nightmare for the United States. And we sincerely cannot understand why American people and American politicians started the process of self-humiliation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So self-humiliation is the word that he uses there. And certainly if you speak to Russians here on the streets as well, they also say they wish that this topic would finally go away. And one of the reasons, of course, is quite a pragmatic one, the Russians really never made any secret of the fact that they wanted Donald Trump to win, at least the majority of Russian and certainly many people in the Russian government. But of course, they did that for pragmatic reasons. They wanted better relations between the U.S. and Russia in the end. They want sanction relief from some of the international sanctions slapped on Russia especially over the Ukraine crisis. And so far with the ways things are going in the Trump administration, they really don't feel that they have made any head way in that direction, Ana.
CABRERA: But as you have been talking with those folks there in Moscow about these relations between Russia and the United States, what more are they telling you in terms of what they are feeling right now and concerns that they may have?
PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, one of the big concerns is that Russia the relations will continue to be bad. Look. It is no secret that many Russians here have been suffering under the sanctions of slapped in their country, as I said, over the Ukraine crisis over Crimea, of course, as well. And people are looking for that to go away, and there really was a sense that that's something that could happen, with this new President in office, with Donald Trump taking power and now it seems as though that could be slipping away once again. One of the things, Ana, that's the point that it hasn't hurt is the approval ratings of Vladimir Putin. Those are still very much going strong as this crisis goes on.
CABRERA: Interesting. Fred Pleitgen, thank you.
Joining me now CNN crime and justice producer Shimon Prokupecz and "Washington Post" national reporter and author of the fix blog, Chris Cillizza.
So Shimon, the White House has said President Trump wasn't necessarily speaking literally about a physical wiretaps but more generally about surveillance. And that sentiment seem to be echoed by the chairman of the house intelligence committee today when he said that the committee was really pushing to learn more about the leaking of names by the media. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we had a deadline of Friday for the NSA, FBI and CIA to get us those names that were unmasked through the FISA system. We didn't get those names on Friday. So until we get those names, we can't rule this out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So Shimon, how to do you see of this issue coming up tomorrow when Comey testifies.
SHIMON, PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, the question of surveillance and wiretap is probably going to be one of the first questions that Comey faces. And he is prepared to answer and we are told by several officials that he is prepared to say that there was no surveillance of Donald Trump. There was no surveillance at Trump tower or any kind of wiretapping.
The one thing here is Comey will not address whether private citizens are under investigation. So those are the people who are kind of surrounding Trump, people from the campaign, names have been reported out there. We should not expect to see any of that. The FBI just sort of as a policy does not comment on investigations. They generally don't even confirm whether their investigations are open or closed. So we shouldn't expect to hear anything really outside of Trump tomorrow.
[19:10:24] CABRERA: Perhaps they are trying to lower expectations, if that's the case because of this ongoing investigation, what information could we see this week from the FBI, but also the CIA and the NSA? PROKUPECZ: So I think we are hoping maybe some of what they already
talked about when they issued their report, some of what Russia was trying to do here, some of what Russia is trying to do across the world really in influencing and meddling in the elections, some of the fake news that they distributed and the impact that that had on the election, but anything really to do with any sort of investigation that's being undertaken by the FBI. I think we are going to be a little bit disappointed because I think he is going to be careful, that is Comey, is going to be careful in how he answers those questions. Because there is a lot they still don't know. You know, there has been a lot of reports about stuff, but we haven't really heard anything from really the most powerful person in this entire investigation. And tomorrow perhaps we will get a little glimpse of what's going on.
CABRERA: President Trump has accused President Obama of ordering surveillance. But let's listen to what he had to say about his predecessor on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has been very nice to me personally, but his people haven't been nice, and there's great animosity, I tell you. There's great anger. And leaking is just one example of it. In some cases there a very serious example of it, but leaking and the level of anger is hard to believe. So while he is nice personally, there doesn't seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Chris, we have heard from people connected to President Obama, but do you we will ever hear from President Obama directly during this investigation?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, NATIONAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: No. I think he is trying everything he can to make the handoff of power which has already happened. But we are still in early stages be as news-less as possible. It's hard to make something news-less when it relates to Donald Trump. But look, I think that Barack Obama is only going to sound off on things like you sell with the women's march, when the accusation that Donald Trump made on twitter that he had wiretapped Trump tower. You saw Obama's spokesman put a statement out. But no. You know, we don't typically hear from former presidents, now that states about current presidents. It is one of those things that is not really second guessing.
And even though this is a unique situation, obviously Donald Trump ran to basically undo everything Barack Obama did. I still think Barack Obama himself is very much committed to honoring that sort of tradition of if something about your legacy is directly addressed as untrue, he will come out and say something. But I don't think you are going to see him sort of in the daily back and forth.
CABRERA: Well, if it's untrue that he did not order any kind of wiretapping surveillance, I mean, he has really held his tongue. Like he said it is such a direct accusation.
CILLIZZA: And Ana, do remember that they did put out a statement within about an hour of Donald Trump making those accusations, through a spokesman, Barack Obama said, look, you know, I did not do this. I don't think you are going to see much more than that. Unless Trump takes it and I don't know what next level this could be, but I was going to say unless he takes it to another level. I'm not sure there's much Barack Obama is going to say, unless he says, again, to you know, go back to my previous statement, this is not accurate. I did not do that. I can't do this. As you heard Devin Nunes, the President doesn't order wiretap. That's not how it works. President is sort of wiretap.
So, on the merit and technical piece, but I think more broadly too. You know, Obama has sort of said his piece here, as much as I would be interested to hear his broader take on the first 60 days of the Trump presidency, I don't think we are going to get it.
CABRERA: That would be fascinating to get those answers from him what he is thinking.
Let's listen, guys, to the chair and the ranking member of the house intelligence committee today just this morning talking about the evidence and if there's any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen any evidence of any collusion between what I'll call Trump world, associates of campaign officials, Trump world and the Russians to swing the 2016 Presidential election?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I'll give you a very simple answer, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No evidence of any collusion?
NUNES: No evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is after getting information from the FBI.
NUNES: Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning. No evidence of collusion.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I would characterize it this way at the outset of the investigation. There was circumstantial evidence of collusion. There is direct evidence I think of deception. And that's where we begin the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:015:10] CABRERA: Shimon, will this question of collusion be addressed tomorrow? You said that director Comey is going to be probably careful in his words. PROKUPECZ: Absolutely. I mean, he completely expects these questions
to come his way. And again, that is a central part of the FBI investigation and we do not expect him to even confirm that they're investigating collusion. I think there will be this overall confirmation perhaps that that there is investigation into Russian meddling, maybe even Russian influence, but even that will be a pretty far step for him to go, because he normally just does not like to talk about this stuff in must be lick.
And keep in mind this investigation is really being done in secret. I know there has been a lot of information out there, but a lot of it may just not be true. And so, I think he is going to be very careful. This topic will definitely come up and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with and what he says.
CABRERA: Chris, it seems like that is a big deal, that is a central question in all of this in that the American people want answered. But we just heard from representative Nunes who is privy to classified information and a lot more than the public knows really just answer that question about any evidence of collusion and he says no.
CILLIZZA: Look. That's what I think is difficult. And I think Democrats are very much looking forward to this James Comey interview tomorrow because of this wiretap, potential there for the FBI director to say this did not happen, right. They are looking for that.
At the same time, the Russia question has the potential to be problematic. I think it's likely they don't -- Comey doesn't address it in any meaningful way. But I will say there is a big difference between -- and this is not a good moment for Jeff Sessions, but there's a big difference between Jeff Sessions excluding that he met with the Russian ambassador, same thing with Michael Flynn and the Trump campaign and Russia colluding that Russia has bought and paid for the President of the United States.
One does not equal the other. I think that for many Democrats, that is an equation -- they have already made that equation. I'm not sure that the evidence is there yet. And even a hint at that is helpful for Donald Trump. Because again, Russia trying to influence the election which we know happened, is not the same thing as the Trump campaign colluding with Russia about the election. So those are - those two things are not equal. I think a lot of people have sort of a lie to them in their mind and maybe Comey separates them a little bit for people.
CABRERA: Something important to point out there.
Chris Cillizza and Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.
And a programing note, CNN will have in depth special coverage, a preview of this hearing tomorrow, FBI director James Comey testifying on the hill about Russia. John Berman anchors a Special Report tonight at 11:00 p.m. eastern.
Still ahead here in the NEWSROOM, Gorsuch and the ghost of Garland. President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court braces for his hearing this week on Capitol Hill, but will he be haunted by the nominee who never got a hearing?
And the art of the deal, President Trump tries to get reluctant Republicans on board with the health care bill. Will they have enough support before the vote on Thursday?
[19:22:31] CABRERA: President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow for his first confirmation hearing. Gorsuch will speak publicly, will likely face tough questions from Democrats this week on his views with issues of abortion and same-sex marriage among others. And then tethering (ph) Republican health care bill. That is also going to have a crucial test this week. The house is scheduled to vote on this legislation on Thursday. And one of President Trump's biggest campaign promises you will recall is to repeal and replace Obamacare with something better.
Let's talk it over with our political commentators, former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord and Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin.
Keith, to you first, how much will the stall nomination of Judge Merrick Garland be on the minds of Democrats at this hearing.
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is the inevitable controversy of the issue is that the Republican Party obstructed President Obama's nomination for more than a year of judge Merrick Garland. So any possible nomination for Neil Gorsuch or anyone else is essentially filling a stolen seat.
This was a seat that Republicans said they were not even going to have a hearing, not even a hearing from Merrick Garland. And you had people like Ted Cruz and John McCain who said they were going to obstruct Hillary Clinton. If she were to win the election, they were going to obstruct any person who she nominated as a Supreme Court justice. So I think the idea that Democrats should take this person seriously is outrageous. I don't this person - I don't think that Neill Gorsuch is I don't care how fair he is and honest he is, how good a person he is, he does not deserve in the seat. He should not even be considered for the seat.
CABRERA: And we did hear today from the Senator Blumenthal saying that he is prepared to filibuster.
But Jeffrey, let's talk about President Trump's recent comments attacking the judiciary? How big of an issue will that will for judge Gorsuch during this confirmation process?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think it will be that much of an issue. Presidents of the United States have been attacking a judiciary since at least Andrew Jackson, if not before that. Franklin Roosevelt and on and on and on. Richard Nixon, et cetera.
The fact of the matter is to talk about what my friend Keith just said. Look, the Democratic Party obstructed the nomination of Robert Ford. I was in the White House. They denied a seat on the Supreme Court to an imminently qualified man. They denied two nominations to Richard Nixon. In the Bush 43 era they repeatedly obstructed the nominations of nominees for the third Supreme - for the, I'm sorry, the circuit courts of appeals. I even wrote a book on this at the time because someone I knew was a Bush 43 nominee. This is what they do. It's a whole industry. So frankly, at this point, their protests are worthless because this is what they do and they have been doing it for decades.
[19:25:21] CABRERA: But most political experts have said they expect judge Gorsuch to eventually get confirmed.
Let's turn out attention to the health care plan. That is coming up for a vote this week. One of the big sticking points for those who don't support this plan, is the impact on older Americans, specifically those 50 to 64. And I want you, guys, to take a look at this example that came out of the CBO report earlier this week, Jeffrey.
Under Obamacare, a 64-year-old, making 26,500 per year would pay about $1,700 under for coverage in 2026. That's - thanks to the subsidies of Obamacare. Again, this is according to CBO.
Under the GOP plan, that same person in 2026 would be paying about 14,600 just for health care coverage since the tax credit that Republicans are proposing would not offset the cost as much. That's for someone who's making $26,000 a year.
Not, the AARP has criticized the plan issuing a statement on Friday that saying it intends to inform its 38 million members on how their representatives vote Thursday. That seems like a lot of pressure, Jeffrey.
LORD: Yes. Look. This is the kind of tactics that has been going on since at least the Reagan era when Ronald Reagan was trying to cut the budget. And frankly, when President Clinton and Newt Gingrich did in fact cut the budget so they could balance the budget.
Look. What you have got here - I mean, Obamacare is collapsing. So the question is, and I have been suggested this, maybe President Trump in an off-hand remark was right. Maybe we should just stand back and let it collapse and let insurance premiums go up.
You know, you can't keep your doctor if you like your doctor, which is what President Obama promise. That's not true. Premiums have gone soaring for this. This system is going to collapse. So the CBO has gotten it wrong many times before. They got Obamacare right before - you know, when you engage in what they call static analysis, let assumes everything is going to stay the same, why changes. It isn't going to stay the same. And what you are talking about here is going to crash and these people will be denied health care if we don't excess and change it to a pre-market system.
CABRERA: Keith, your reaction?
BOYKIN: Yes. First of all, I didn't hear anything Jeffrey said in the first segment. I could respond to that, but I can hear what he just said a moment ago. And that's just not true. The CBO estimate is saying that first of all, we know the 20 million more people got health insurance because of Obamacare, regardless of what Jeffrey says. And we know that this will not only have a negative impact on those persons who are 64 years old, it's going to increase their premium by $14,000, it is also going to have a negative impact on the 24 million Americans who will lose their health insurance.
OK, so wait. Maybe the CBO isn't exactly precise about the number. Maybe it's 14 million, maybe 18 million, maybe it's 30 million. But millions of Americans are going to lose their health insurance because of Trump care. That is exactly the opposite of what Donald Trump promised when he ran for office. He never had any specificity in his plan. And we are now starting to see, yes, healthcare is complicated. Who knew that? Donald Trump says. Well, we knew that. The Democrats knew that. Hillary Clinton knew that. And it's time to President Trump wake up and realize that you can't just campaign all the time, you actually have to look at the details.
LORD: I just want to know, where would Democrats when Americans were losing their doctors and their healthcare insurance because of Obamacare? Where was that compassion then?
BOYKIN: Let me tell you something, Jeffrey. The idea that Obamacare is perfect, is something I have never said. I have not been in favor of a public option though or even going further and having a single (INAUDIBLE).
But let me just answer your question, Jeffrey, because the reality is Democrats have wanted to fix imperfections in Obamacare and Republicans are trying to sabotage it. They tried to sabotage the medical expenses, the gubernatorial level. They tried to sabotage the fixes at the congressional level. And the whole idea that the premiums are going up is a lie, Jeffrey, because most of the people who actually receive Obama care are subsidized. More than 90 percent I think is the number or actually receiving subsidies. They are not paying those huge premiums. They are actually not being hurt by that. And that's the way Obamacare was set up to prevent that increase.
CABRERA: Jeffrey, millions of people lose their coverage like the CBO has estimated, again millions could lose coverage because they couldn't afford it even if they have access to it. I mean, doesn't that hurt Republican?
LORD: They can't afford it now. They can't afford it now. I mean, where was all the compassion?
CABRERA: So you don't see any problems for Republicans if this bill hurts some of the people who supported President Trump and the Republican Party?
LORD: I have interviewed people whose relatives died because of Obamacare. So I mean, I just -- this motion that this is somehow uncompassionate, this has got to stop. [19:30:01] BOYKIN: So you're going to take 24 million people off of
their insurance range? Do you think that is going to make them healthy? That's going to (INAUDIBLE). That's just illogical conclusion.
And yes, people were dying before Obamacare, because people could be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. People who are 25 or 26 were being kicked off of their parents' plan before they got to that age. We had people who - have women who couldn't get covered because pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition.
There are all sorts of bias. It is about where the insurance companies could actually charge you more because without having to have the protections of Obamacare effort. And just Jeffrey, Obamacare often assistance for small businesses. So yes, it's not a perfect plan, but it does improve the system. And that you are not even acknowledging.
CABRERA: Guys, we got to go. So let's let Jeffrey respond real quick. Quickly, Jeffrey.
LORD: We have 325, 350 million people in this country. You don't screw up their system for the 24 million. You fix it for the 24 million, but you don't screw it up for the rest and that's what you've done.
CABRERA: Keith Boykin, Jeffrey Lord, we have got to leave it there, guys. Thank you both for your thoughts tonight. Appreciate it.
Coming up, children taught to hit the deck at the sound of a siren, a look at how one country is preparing for the threat of a North Korean missile strike.
Stay with us. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:35:31] CABRERA: Hours after North Korea touted what it calls a revolutionary breakthrough in its rocket program. President Trump fired back at the North Korean leader. Here is what he told the poll of reporters as he boarded air force one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had meetings on North Korea who is acting very, very badly. I will tell you exactly (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: North Korea carrying out its rocket attempts. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson made a stop in China. A key focus of their meeting, the threat pose by Pyongyang.
Will Ripley is joining me now from Beijing.
Will, what are we to make of the timing of North Korea's test? WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly doesn't appear to
be a coincidence, Ana. The fact that this North Korean rocket engine test was announced the same moment that secretary Tillerson was meeting with the Chines President right Xi Jinping. Their meeting was very shorty, about 30 minutes. They are setting what we expect to a meeting in the United States next month between President Trump and the Chinese President. And the number one issue on their agenda, the most urgent pressing situation is the North Korean threat. And China and the U.S. have very different views about how to deal with it. China thinks the U.S. should stop doing military exercises with its ally, South Korea. The U.S. believes that China is not using the economic leverage that it holds over Pyongyang because they are the most meaningful trading partner with North Korea here in Beijing.
So the sides, very far apart. There are live discussions happening over the weekend with Secretary Tillerson leading up to this bigger meeting in the United States. Doesn't mean that it's exercising the leverage that it holds over North Korea. And of course with every day North Korea continues to make progress developing these weapons and moving closer to their ultimate goal, Ana, which is an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the main land, U.S.
CABRERA: I think for a lot of the people here in the U.S. It is easy to hear North Korea and kind of look the other way. They are so far away. And you bring up this development of technology that could affect is here on the mainland. But I mean, their neighbor Japan is preparing for the real possibility of an attack from North Korea. We have this video, Japanese elementary school children during a missile draw last week. How real is the threat facing North Korea's practicing a drill?
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
RIPLEY: When you live in this region, Ana, the threat feels very real, especially for people in Japan and also South Korea, well, within the range of North Korea missiles. And in fact there was a missile launch where three ballistic missiles landed less than 200 nautical miles from this village of Ogo (ph) where you saw that North Korean missile drill taking place.
So you have people who lived that. There were a lot of senior citizens who lived there during the World War II days. They remember when they were school children doing these bomb raid drills, they actually dug out bombshell shelters where they would hide in, in the event of an aerial attack from the United States. Now, the new generation of Japanese children are having to do this as they prepare for the possibility of the North Korean missile strike. And of course, hanging over head is the fact that North Korea is also perfecting their nuclear weapons program. So people are not only fearful of conventional weapons, but also the only country in the world that had civilian populations targeted by two nuclear bombs, now has to live with that fear again. This is why Japan is working so closely with the United States and South Korea to try to figure out house to reign in Kim Jong-Un's regime. CABRERA: Absolutely. Will Ripley, reporting. Thank you. And I
can't help but notice that fog or smog in the shot behind you, interesting.
Coming up, President Trump's FOX fixation, he watches it, he tweets about, he bashes their rivals network now shaping his presidency in that story next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:43:07] CABRERA: Thanks for staying with us in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Talk to FOX, that was his response. The response from the President when he was asked to explain the wiretapping scandal that has consumed Washington. That's probably the first time that President Trump has pushed out information right after hearing it on his favorite network. Senate doesn't end there. The President has tweeted or re-tweeted about FOX segment a dozen times so far in March and five of the last seven sit downs the President has given since taking office have been with FOX News.
I want to bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter. He just pend a piece declaring Trump, a FOX News President. Explain, Brian.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I look at all of the things you were just describing as interview preferences, his tweets, taking any information from FOX and then repeating it. It shows that this is a White House shake by FOX News in a unique way.
You know, if you think back to George W. Bush, his White House was not shaped by FOX to this degree. President Obama's White House, not shaped by MSNBC to this degree. But what's different now with President Trump is that he and his advisors are influenced by FOX. They have hired a number of former FOX staffers. They are working on hiring some others.
There's just a lot of different connections, a web of connections between Trump and FOX. And then, of course, he is cheered on by FOX opinion hosts like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly so there's this web of connections that I think is unique. That if you talk to historians like (INAUDIBLE), a subject for my piece, they say this is a degree that is unusual for a President.
CABRERA: But what is interesting to me is remember back during the campaign, it seemed like they were at each other. Remember, he actually didn't even go to one of the debates that was hosted by FOX News because of his confrontation with Megyn Kelly and the back and forth there. So when did you think the shift happened?
STELTER: That's true. That's right. That was January 2016, a little more than a year ago. He skipped that debate due of Megyn Kelly. Well, look at FOX is schedule no. Megyn Kelley is not there. The chairman in some way, it's in primetime, pretty and purely pro-Trump. That's not to say they don't have critics on, they do. They have liberals on the network. But the overall theme of the channel is to try to support the President or to be focused on the President's agenda in different kinds of ways. Backs that up.
So I think what changed is President Trump won. He won the election. He was able to take over in January and FOX sees an opportunity to really play into that. But you know, more broadly, what we see here, I think it is interesting about FOX, it's more interesting about Trump, that he seeks out information on FOX News, on the opinion shows especially to support his agenda, to find support in situations where there isn't much support at all. I mean, those recent example are the wiretap allegations.
[19:45:45] CABRERA: Right. Are they good for each other? Is it like a mutually beneficial relationship here?
STELTER: I think that's true. You know, the truth is probably in some ways, Donald Trump is a boon for many different media outlets, whether it's FOX News, or CNN or the "New York Times." You know, there's newspapers getting subscriptions because of Trump, a lot of people wanting a lot of scrutiny on this administration. On the flip side, there are a lot of viewers who want affirmation and support for the President's agenda. And I think they will find on Also on conservative talk radio, what we're seeing is more and more of this partisan divide in the media.
You know, people that have remote controls, but don't pick them up and flip them around to see what other sides are saying. I think, you know, the issue with a network like FOX is, can they ensure that the information the President's hearings in Washington is reliable? Because with this wiretapping things with judge Napolitano last week, he was not reliable. And it seems like the White House was misled.
CABRERA: Let me just push back for a second because it is not the first time there might be a president who has a favorite or who doesn't like another news organization, President Obama and his administration in fact criticized FOX News specifically, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This 24-hour news cycle, the easiest way to get on CNN or FOX or any of the other stations, MSNBC, NBC, just say something rude and outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he goes on FOX, he understands he's not going on a news network at this point, he's going on to face the opposition, and that's fine. He never minds doing that.
OBAMA: While affordable health care seems like a thing to threat to the freedom of the American people on FOX News. It turns out it is working pretty well in the real world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So there FOX News was on the other side of all of this. Is this really that uncommon for a President to favor or criticize a news organization? STELTER: Certainly to criticize, but President Obama like to say he
preferred to watch SPN in the evening instead of CNN or FOX. With President Trump we are seeing first when he wakes up, turns on the TV, sometimes watching CNN and MSNBC but mostly watching FOX then watching again at the end of the day and being influenced by that information is what's different now.
CABRERA: And I think what's important too is when we are covering this administration, there have been a lot of times that the administration has tried to deny access to them by different media, right?
STELTER: We have already seen a picking and choosing of more favorable outlets. For example the secretary of state right now in Asia. He allowed just one reporter on this plane, rather than having a big pack of press, the way that of past secretaries have. That reporter form a conservative leading network. That reporter still asked tough questions, but that lack of access is an issue.
CABRERA: All right. Brian Stelter, good to see you.
CABRERA: Thank you.
Coming up, guarding Trump. The mounting cost to protect the President and the first family as some police departments demand to be reimbursed.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:52:44] CABRERA: Just before 8:00 in the evening, President Trump is back in Washington tonight after spending his fifth weekend at the so-called winter White House. All those back and forth trips, along with the fact that his wife and son still live in New York are running at quite the top. And now some local police departments want the President to pay up.
Here's Sara Ganim.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We want our money back. That's what the New York City police department and Palm Beach county officials are saying, asking to be reimbursed for millions of dollars, the costs of protecting the President, his family and their homes. In a letter to New York congressional members last month, NYPD commissioner James O'Neill wrote, funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep all the city and all its residents safe.
Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about this challenges back in December.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: We have never had a situation where a President of the United States would be here on such a regular basis.
GANIM: During the transition period from Election Day to inauguration day, O'Neill says the cost of securing Trump tower and the area around it added up to $24 million. Palm Beach county officials say the spent an estimated $60,000 and overtime everyday Trump send in Florida, protecting Trump while he is at Mar-a-Lago. That's the bill local taxpayers will have to play of the federal government or Trump himself doesn't reimbursed.
Supporters of the President say he is often working during his trips to Mar-a-Lago. Even calling it the winter White House. But the President himself had harsh words for his predecessor's trips.
Back in 2011, tweeting this, the habitual vacationer Barack Obama is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million.
During the election, Trump also told the publication "the Hill" quote "I would rarely leave the house because there's so much work to be done. So far Trump has spent more than a fourth of his time in office at Mar-a-Lago.
There are more moving parts for the secret service when it comes to the first family. Trump has multiple homes. His adult children frequently travel and his wife Melania and their son Barron live in New York City, a decision the NYPD says costs the department up to $146,000 a day.
Sarah Ganim, CNN, New York.
[19:55:05] CABRERA: Our thanks to Sara Ganim.
And we have this video just in we want to show you. You see President Trump arriving back at the White House after being his at Mar-a-Lago and check out who is with him. The Super Bowl champion, the owner of the Patriots, Robert Craft, Quarterback Tom Brady is of course a friend of Trump as he like to point out during the campaign, Coach Bill Belichick sent Trump a letter of support before the election that worth noting there's been at least six Patriots players who say they won't be making the traditional trip to the White House of the Super Bowl championship team usually make.
Quick break. We will be right back.
[19:59:58] CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for joining me for spending part of your weekend us.
Up first tonight, counting down to a dramatic day on Capitol Hill. Was there collusion between Russian and the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections? And is there any evidence to support President Trump's --