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What Is Trump's Plan To Defeat ISIS?; Is White House Weighing Greater Role In Yemen?; How Will Trump Jumpstart His Stalled Agenda? Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 27, 2017 - 06:30   ET



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: -- and all of the devastation. It is all under investigation right now. I think one of the things that needs to be underscored is it is ISIS that is holding civilians hostage in these areas. This is really an ISIS atrocity. The U.S. and Iraqis investigating and trying to find out exactly how it all happened -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Barbara, just terrible. Thank you very much. I appreciate the information.

So you might remember Candidate Trump shouting early and often that he knew more than the generals and had a secret plan to beat ISIS. He never showed it. As president, he said he was waiting on the generals. That they should give him a plan. They gave it to him. So what is that plan? When will we hear about it? Next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. I would bomb the out (inaudible) out of them.

We're going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the oval office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS.

We will work with our allies including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this violent enemy from our planet.


[06:35:11]ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, well, President Trump's top general did deliver that plan to defeat ISIS to the White House last month. So what do we know about what's in it and how it is working?

Let's bring back our panel to discuss, A.B. Stoddard, David Gregory, and Philip Mudd. David, here's what we know. According to CNN, what we found out what's in that plan delivered by the generals, they say send U.S. artillery into Syria that's part of the plan to defeat ISIS. Put U.S. troops near the frontlines, end the limits on the number of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Possible long term presence in Iraq. That is quite different, obviously, than how President Trump talked about Iraq on the campaign trail as one of our biggest national disasters.

DAVID GREROGY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that is right, but there is still a lot of questions that even those bullet points create. What that long term presence looks like. It looks there has been a loosening of restraints on airstrikes. With that comes civilian casualties which we've seen.

But certainly the administration wants to get behind Iraq and making Iraq the tip of the spear against ISIS and perhaps creating safe zones in part of Syria. This is complicated stuff. It requires a lot of work with allies.

You have been seeing in the past couple of weeks more U.S. allies wanting more information and greater sense of an overall world view from President Trump. That goes beyond talking bombing and eliminating ISIS.

ISIS has been degraded to a considerable degree. It has lost a lot of its territory, but it is still a potent force. It's potent online in terms of its recruiting and there is still territorial gains and there is still fertile ground from which to recruit.

All of this has to be dealt with at various levels and I think there is a human cry now for the president to very clearly distill what that approach looks like.

CUOMO: I mean, look, obviously they are standing off of this. They have it for a month. They haven't talked about it. Phil Mudd, one of the political questions is where is Congress on this? You know, you have a timing issue with the war power (inaudible) coming up.

You know, you are using an authorization for the use of military force from 2001. You know, so there is a whole congressional component to this about them not owning their constitutional duty when it comes to war and war acts.

Then you have the functional approach of what's going on in Iraq right now. This most recent horrible outcome with the civilians getting killed supposedly according to U.S. military sources is that, they were taking their strategic cues from the Iraqis.

This is where we want you to bomb. These are the targets. You know the intel methods over there and what the reliability is. Do you think that is a recipe for success?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't. I do believe that Congress needs to talk about this, but they shouldn't be talking about tactical bombing or who gets to pick a target. We have a bigger question. We keep talking about military solutions. There is an end game question that Dave was talking about a moment earlier. You can think through the next months of looking at the president's plan of one simple question a practitioner would ask, who owns the territory once you bomb, once you move an insurgent group out of a place like Raqqa, Mosul? Who owns the territory?

We're the away team and classic counter insurgency strategy, the home team, Iraqis and Syrians have to own it eventually. If we start talking about expanding a U.S. military presence, my question 14 years after the Iraq war started is, when does the home team start owning the territory in Iraq and in Syria?

Are we going to allow Assad to own those villages? If not, is the U.S. Army going to own them? Are the opposition groups going to own them? Rex Tillerson has to have a role here. All we are talking about so far is who we bomb. I think that's the end of the conversation, not the beginning.

CAMEROTA: Your thoughts, A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Yes, what's interesting is for this sort of doubling of Special Forces in Syria, which is high risk and you know, really leads to questions of mission creep and what that will be in terms of whether or not Trump is interested in working with the Russians in Syria. That is a whole controversial conversation.

Congress is abdicating its role. They did in the Obama years when Obama tried to ask for a new authorization for use of military force. They said it has to come from you. They run into their corners when the AUMF conversation comes up.

So no one wants to do this. What I see in the Trump plan is sort of an amplified Obama plan constantly reevaluating the support role but definitely expanding the support role. What does that mean?

Phil raised good questions for later on. Trying to use some soft power in terms of the same things Obama targeted financing of ISIS, and use intelligence and obviously change the rules of engagement on bombing.

It is pretty much the same path we're in unless we go into a full substantial occupation of Syria. No one wants that and Trump didn't run on that.

CUOMO: And yet, look at what is on the table. Let's bounce back to Mudd for one second here. Yemen has come up. Now the American audience hasn't really been monitoring that, isn't aware of it.

[06:40:06]It is one of the biggest humanitarian situations going on in that part of the world, but what are the risk there as that conversation starts to begin. You know, this Houthi rebel thing is not going away. This southern insurgency isn't going away, maybe we should become more involved.

MUDD: There's a classic approach I saw at the CIA when we started down this road, two prongs to successful operations on the ground in places like Syria and as you mentioned Yemen where things aren't going well.

I think the Americans are great in intelligence and targeted strikes against, for example, leadership, leadership of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, leadership of ISIS in Syria.

I think we are better off on the ground working through local forces. The problem with Yemen is we don't have local forces to work with. So I think long term solution is going to be how do we come up with a government in Yemen, which is embattled right now to figure out to own territory there.

CAMEROTA: Panel, we're out of time. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right, some more news to give you this morning, severe storms including some funnel clouds are moving across Oklahoma. Where is it going? We have Chad Myers with the forecast next.


CUOMO: All right. We know who the final four are now. We have some new faces along with the perennial power. Let's bring in Andy Scholes in the "Bleacher Report." How do you like these four?

[06:45:07]ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Chris, it's a four that not many people picked in their brackets, Gonzaga and South Carolina never been this far in the tournament before. Oregon has only been to the final four once, but nothing new for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels and Wildcats playing an epic game yesterday. There was under 20 seconds left, Malik Monk hit a three for Kentuckyg to tie the game. Roy Williams doesn't call a time-out. It turns out to be a great decision.

UNC comes down with Luke Maye is going to hit a shot with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. Tar Heels won an absolute thriller, 75-73. They are heading to the final four for the second straight year. Check out the locker room celebration. The players showering Coach Williams with water. That looks like lots of fun.

Now South Carolina is celebrating as well as they will playing in the final four for the first time in their history after beating Florida 77-70. Before this year, the Gamecocks have not even won a tournament since 1973.

Their coach, Frank Martin, one of the most intense coaches in the game. His players are not intimidated by him. Check out the coordinated water attack that they pulled on him in the locker room when he walked in after the game. Coach Martin calling making it to the final four a dream come true.

So next Saturday, it's going be South Carolina taking on Gonzaga. You have Oregon playing North Carolina. I have a fun fact for you, Alisyn. Oregon actually won the very first NCAA tournament way back in 1939. They have not been back to the final four until now.

CAMEROTA: I knew that, Andy. Everybody knows that, but thank you for that fun fact. Great to see you.

All right, to serious news now, the threat of severe thunderstorms looms in the already battered south and southern plains. We have some aerial video captured Sunday by CNN affiliate, KOCO.

It shows a funnel cloud there about to form. That is forming. That is 75 miles outside of Oklahoma City. Where is the severe weather heading? Meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast. What do you see, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Slightly farther to the east today, Alisyn. Maybe St. Louis down to Nashville into parts of Mississippi and Alabama. That is where it is now. But we had almost 60 reports of hail. If you want to get entertained, go on to Twitter and look at the hail reports. They are as big as baseballs. Not entertained if you're underneath one of those things last night.

That was a major hail event for Oklahoma and Texas. Wind and hail today all the way from Nashville to Memphis. That's where it's going to be later on this afternoon. Not severe weather, but certainly severe flying weather with delays in the northeast with the rain coming in. Temperatures still mild for the northeast. Take 61 and rain shower in New York City anytime -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Chad, I appreciate it very much. Keep us on top of what we need to know.

So let's look at President Trump at 67 days so far. Health care, travel ban, the wall being paid for, what happened to all the winning? We're only a couple months in. What will be the first victory? Where will the momentum come from? Next.



CUOMO: All right. We're at a pivotal moment. What will happen next? President Trump needs a win. Momentum is a big thing in politics. It has to start with something positive. Democrats need to stop smiling and make some moves of their own. So what happens next?

Joining us to break it down is CNN political analyst, editor-in-chief of the "Daily Beast," John Avlon. Always good to have you here, brother. Let's look at the first obvious category of what should be, could be a win is Supreme Court nominee, Judge Gorsuch. However, there is going to be the issue of the big word in the middle, the filibuster. Hit that donkey for me, will you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get bipartisan support. You avoid judges far left or right. If the nominee can't get 60 votes, you don't change the rules. You change the candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Now here is the problem there, right, is that the Democrats changed the rules. They said we preserved Supreme Court nominees. We didn't blow up the filibuster for that. Still they started us down this road. How do you see it going with Gorsuch?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think Gorsuch's performance in his hearings did not help the cause of Democrats who say we must filibuster no matter what. That is maybe emotionally satisfying. They are angry about Merrick Garland. I totally get that. But I think at the end of the day, Republicans have the leverage on Gorsuch. I don't think that will not set-off a cycle that will benefit Democrats.

CUOMO: Can they get 60?

AVLON: Look, I think --

CUOMO: Why do they need 60? By the way, they don't need 60 to get the judge in, but to break debate. That's what the nuclear option is about whether or not they change 60 to 51.

AVLON: That's right. So this is about breaking the filibuster. It depends on the couple of red state Democrats. This is the idea of the senators in the center should have the balance of power. Look at Joe Manchin and some of the other senators, Heidkamp. Where are they going to be with Gorsuch? That's the White House's hope of hitting that threshold. If they fall short of that and someone on the left decides to filibuster, we could have a deadlock and then the nuclear option could get the vote.

CUOMO: You think it still goes Trump's way, though, at this point?

AVLON: I think McConnell will pull the nuclear option for Gorsuch.

CUOMO: OK, tax reform. Where are we heading to in this? Let's listen to the president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rates on our companies so they can compete and thrive. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.


CUOMO: All right. How has this changed? Everybody likes tax cuts.

AVLON: Especially Republicans.

CUOMO: People in general, say if you give me a tax cut. Health care changed the calculus on the amount of money they have to play with tax cuts. What is the new state at play?

AVLON: I think it also showed that hurting conservative cats in Congress is a real problem. Paul Ryan doesn't have full control over the Freedom Caucus. So here becomes the real question, tax cuts article of faith for Republicans.

[06:55:08]But if Donald Trump can actually expand the middle class tax cut portion, he has a real chance of winning over some centrist Democrats and red state Democrats. If it looks like it will only exacerbate income equality and be a pure giveaway that will be a problem for the super rich. He has to do simplification and emphasize the middle class tax cut element to do a broader (inaudible).

CUOMO: So if he is too aggressive and does what he wants, he risks having the same caucus, the Freedom Caucus, saying you have to cut in order to pay for this tax cut. Trump doesn't want to touch Social Security or Medicare. He may have to please them. You are seeing a more tailored tax plan?

AVLON: I would think there is very little to suggest this president and this Congress can get a grand bargain together with deficit and debts. Not a priority for this president. This is an area where maybe he can reshuffle the deck with a broader coalition. He needs to do it to get some wins on the board because we are not (inaudible).

CUOMO: You give the elephant an x on this?

AVLON: I think the White House the x because in the long run it may exacerbate.

CUOMO: I'll give it to him. Infrastructure, I got to tell you, not to undercut you, but this seems like a long shot because how are they going to pay this? These are make work jobs to a lot of people on the political right. They don't see it the way a lot of people on the left do.

AVLON: This is the obvious win for the president. They sidelined it and said it is not a priority. That is politically stunning. It is malpractice. This president, if he has any credibility, it is as a builder. This is an issue with broad bipartisan support. No matter who won the election, you had the opportunity to get this done, and you can do it in a more ambitious way, private and public infrastructure, reducing the upfront cost and building out.

CUOMO: So why the delay?

AVLON: First of all, he is throwing out the $1 trillion number. That scares any deficit hawk. It will involve building a broader coalition, which he hasn't shown a lot of interest in doing.

CUOMO: Will the Democrats play on this?

AVLON: Chuck Schumer would play ball on this one. It's enormously complex, but this is one of those big moves that could define his presidency and he could actually get a bipartisan coalition which has alluded him completely because he hasn't really tried.

CUOMO: So it could be a win for everybody.

AVLON: I think it is a win-win-win. CUOMO: You don't get it. Health care. This seems like it has gone away. That doesn't make sense. I was working the phones this weekend. It is not dead-dead, but just for right now, we're going to leave it alone --

AVLON: It is sleeping.

CUOMO: It could come back in a couple of months. What do you think the timing is and reality is?

AVLON: He has said he put it aside. That may be a negotiating position. This is a big fail for the conservative movement and Republicans who have unified control over Washington right now. There are some fantasy baseball that Democrats have the massive upper hand. Don't hold your breath.

What will be interesting to see is if any Democrats start to work with the president to address some of the problems with the ACA otherwise known as Obamacare. Is there an attempt to start reforming? The deal emotionally Republicans are attached to repeal and replace with the emphasis on repeal. The idea of reform could seem small ball.

CUOMO: Democrats too passive? Do you think they have to step up and say more than the ACA needs fix. Is it time to be more specific?

AVLON: I understand they will not go out of their way to try to rescue this president in terms of successes in the first 100 days. At some point you have a responsibility to govern. You may find a couple of targeted things to work with the president on and therefore not be talking with everyone in Washington that's interested in dysfunction.

CUOMO: John Avlon, I ignored the win boxes because it was unclear. You were clear. Thank you very much. Thanks to John. Thanks to you. Our international viewers for watching here on NEW DAY. Next for you is CNN "NEWSROOM." For the U.S. viewers, let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a victory for the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day Obamacare survives is another day that America suffers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time for both parties to come together and get to real reforms in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop undermining ACA and we'll work with them.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is not a Republican health care. This is Democrat health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not an easy process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Congress capable of investigating this president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chairman has to make a decision to act as a surrogate of the White House or lead an independent investigation.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Donald Trump, what happened to all the winning? Desperate to get the presidency back on track after a stinging defeat on healthcare reform. He is now pinning the humiliating setback on conservatives after first blaming the Democrats.

CAMEROTA: So our CNN insiders report that there is bitter infighting among top White House staffers. Some of that playing out in public. The White House wants to move on now to tax reform. Could Democrats be the key to helping the president get that win?