Return to Transcripts main page
What Is President Trump's Next Move In Syria; Power Struggle Inside The West Wing; Poll: 57% Americans Approve Trump's Syria Strikes; Trump Sends Navy Strike Group To Korean Peninsula; Gorsuch To Be Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice; Impeachment Proceedings Begin For Alabama Governor; Alabama Governor Is Accused Of Using His Position To Conceal Affair; Manhunt For Fugitive Who Sent Manifesto To Trump; Trump Hints At Additional Military Action In Syria; Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson Heads To Moscow Tomorrow. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired April 10, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:32:10] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: All right. The Trump administration's approach to Syria and North Korea fueling a little bit of the debate over the political strategy there. Some things to be working -- some things are working, some things aren't. We got new poll numbers that show this as well. Let's discuss with CNN Politics Reporter and Editor at large, Chris Cillizza, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst and former CIA Counterterrorism Official, Phil Mudd, and CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory. There's a couple minutes of introductions. Now, let's get to the discussion.
Mr. Cillizza, the intrigue about what's going on in the White House, Kushner versus Bannon. The only thing we seem to know for sure is that White House leaks like a sieve. But what do you make of this entry?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR: Yes, I would say leaks like a sieve, Chris, and the leaks are remarkable. I wrote about this a bunch of times earlier in the administration -- earlier, relatively speaking, in the administration. The leaks often painted the president in the early going and sort of totally out of touch being handled by his advisers, which the president obviously did not like. You've seen less of that lately. What do I make of the entry? He set this up. He created a system with four people with roughly equal job titles and in this definite roles. Who is in charge of foreign policy? Who is in charge of keeping the trains on time? Who is in charge of all the various jobs that exist in the White House?
When you just say, "Here's the four of you. I'm going to throw you all into this lion's den, and you guys go ahead and fight it out. This is what you wind up getting. Tension is not new to a White House. You have big personalities -- I heard Anthony Scaramucci earlier, he's right about that. But this early, I think it is a little bit odd to see so much infighting. Does he talk of -- well, we might fire -- I feel like there's a story about Reince Priebus potentially being fired weakly. I think that is a little different and this is what Trump has created, I think, on purpose.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: And David, it has been pointed out that in some ways, this is sort of like the apprentice model.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CAMEROTA: You just, you know, put everybody in a boardroom and see who survives. So, is this because of being green and not having some of those exact people with all of their roles delineated or is this what President Trump likes to do?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's what he likes to do as Chris said. It' what he's set up, and it is because he's green. You know, any White House, a more experienced politician coming in, has someone who's kind of a keeper of the flame, somebody who's in touch with that part of the president who is the candidate, who appealed to certain voting blocks. David Axelrod was that for President Obama for example. Bu then, you have people who are more pragmatic, who are going to be outward facing strategic, thinking about how to deal with the ways of Washington. .In -- and I think that's more of a Reince Priebus, in this case.
[07:34:58] And then in Trump's case, you also have the family because he wants to run the administration like his own business, like his real-estate business. And these are the people -- his daughter and son-in-law who he trusts to kind of keep him in line in a way. But he wants to have all of these factions moving around competing with each other, creating some unpredictability and improvisation, and asserting himself, which he still likes to do, clearly, as if that's stating the obvious.
CUOMO: Hey, Mudd, you know, we're here this morning concerned about what do you do next in Syria? What's the difference between killing your people with chemicals versus barrel bombs? Where do you draw the line? And how much of that is irrelevant, given the fact that CBS just came out with numbers that show 57 percent of the people like it when you bomb a bad guy. And it boosted the president's numbers. Why does he need to have any more strategy than that? I throw a couple of bombs out there, cost me about a hundred million dollars. But I got a boost in my poll ratings. All good.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I mean, I agree with you to a certain extent. If you look at what happened last week and I'm one of the supporters on this. You have somebody who crossed a red line, U.S. isn't going to intervene everywhere. We're not going to intervene in Somalia. We haven't intervened extensively after the Libyan war, except in negotiation. We have some military activity but we don't have an extensive presence on the ground. The president said there are red lines. One of them is the use of chemical weapons. What's happened afterward, though, I think, is starting to suggest more chaos that might affect those poll numbers. What are you going to do?
They're talking about taking out Assad. How the heck are you going to do that? Are you going to put in U.S. military? Are you going to expand support for the opposition in Syria that's proven so far that's losing ground against Assad? In the past day or so, they said this is the Russian's problem. Do you know what the Russians are going to say? No. We're not doing this for you. So, I think the initial strike -- obviously, and I'm one of them who's popular -- the after action has been chaotic enough so that people like me in the week after saying "What are you talking about?"
CAMEROTA: Hey, Chris, it's so interesting to see what has happened over four years in terms of the public opinion, about taking some sort of action in Syria like this. So, as Chris just pointed out, 57 percent today like what President Trump did in terms of those missile strikes. If you look at the CBS poll, (INAUDIBLE) in 2013, 65 percent of republicans were opposed to doing something like that. Only 28 percent, back then, approved of what president -- you know, approve then of what President Obama could have done, that now President Trump has done.
CILLIZZA: Yes, you know, what is remarkable to me is the tribalism that exists surrounds every issue. I feel like, you tell me who the president is and who the voters supported, and I'll tell you how they feel about every issue. Foreign policy was once -- someone immune from this and that there were weird coalitions as it related to foreign policy. It wasn't just strictly -- well, "The president is a republican. I'm a republican, I support it, or "The president is a democrat, I'm democrat and I support it."
You've seen in the last five to ten years that become just a -- it's literally a reflexive response at this point. "Well, President Trump is doing it, I support President Trump. Therefore, I support it." I will note, though, Alisyn, in that same poll, they asked, "Would you support ground troops." 18 percent. So, this is to Phil's point. The initial targeted extremely limited strike aimed at a response to what all -- everyone can agree, was an atrocious attack, the chemical attack that left -- killed men, women, and children. The question, the broader support for anything beyond that, you start to rode out those numbers.
GREGORY: Yes, I agree with that. But I think we also have to put it in a larger context of how war-weary America has been in the aftermath of invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. And any real belief that even limited action can affect outcomes. But I think what's tempered that is the fear that a lot of Americans have that Americans have lost credibility. That America has lost credibility, particularly in the Middle East as a power that can actually affect change. And so, in this way, you have a limited strike, a political statement against something everybody can agree on, like chemical weapons used is horrific. And to their support for that, it gets a lot more difficult as you go farther down the line and look at some of the -- the kind of complicating factors that would be involved in doing anything more with Syria.
CUOMO: Hey, Phil Mudd. How forward-looking do you have to be with this calculus when you send ships into the waters near the Korean Peninsula. The message is obvious but is it enough? Is that the only analysis that's done at the highest levels of - yes, we're going to send them there, just so they know we're ready, or do they have to be careful about all kinds of scenarios that could come about -- because of putting the ships there? MUDD: I think this is a much riskier situation than Syria, obviously, because North Korea is a potential threat to the United States, Syria isn't. I think sending the ships is a relatively simple move.
[07:39:59] Now, if they're going to do something, you're getting into extensive second order consequences. You got to talk to the Japanese and the South Koreans. We just talked with the Chinese, it doesn't look like that went too far because as soon as you move, you can't presume that the opponent is going to do something rational. Is he going to move that is -- that the North Korean Leader down south? Are you going to shoot down missiles? Does that mean he starts sending more missiles toward the Pacific Ocean? I think the movement of the ships is fine. It's a signal that we might act unilaterally. The question is what's the action?
CUOMO: All right, fellas. Appreciate the perspective. So, armed and dangerous. The manhunt widens for suspects who mailed an anti- government, anti-religion manifesto to President Trump. What police fear he is planning, next.
CUOMO: History is about to be made. In just a few hours, the U.S. Supreme Court will return to full strength. Judge Neil Gorsuch is going to take the oath in two different ceremonies, taking the seat vacated by the late Antonin Scalia. Justice Kennedy is going to preside at the Rose Garden ceremony at the White House. Before that, Gorsuch is going to be sworn in in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 101st justice.
CAMEROTA: Impeachment proceedings begin today for Alabama governor, Robert Bentley. He has been fighting to stay in office for more than a year, following allegations that he abused his power to cover up an affair with a top aide. CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in Atlanta with more. What's the latest, Polo?
[07:44:55] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn. Alabama lawmakers, they are going into today's impeachment hearings after having the weekend to review a scathing new reporting. It was published Friday by the state's judiciary committee and expands on these accusations that have been made against the Governor Robert Bentley for the last year or so. And among them, that the two-termed governor directed police to track down provocative recordings made between himself and his aide, Rebekah Mason. He also allegedly instructed some of those officers to end that extramarital relationship for him. The document concludes that the governor had hampered with the nearly year-long investigation and that that alleged non-cooperation was grounds for impeachment.
Bentley (INAUDIBLE) party has maintained a heated nothing illegal and that he has refused to step down despite several calls for his resignation from his fellow republicans. In fact, just this past Friday, he said that he wouldn't step down. However, we are hearing reports that he could possibly reconsider. But again, at last check, that still has not happened. Now, here's a timeline. Here's what we can expect in the days ahead. The Legislative Committee will be holding hearings most of this week. They released a report - or they will release a report next Friday. The Alabama House would then consider their findings and Governor Bentley's written response on May 9th, which means it may be another month before we find out, Chris, if Robert Bentley becomes Alabama's first governor to be impeached or if he will reconsider and possibly step down, Chris. So, we're going to be watching these proceedings very closely today.
CUOMO: All right. Polo, let us know what happens. Appreciate it, Polo Sandoval.
Police in Wisconsin tightening security at churches statewide as they widen the manhunt for a 32-year-old fugitive. The man on your screen is accused of stealing 16 high-caliber rifles and handguns, believed to be the author of 160-page manifesto that he sent to President Trump containing anti-religious sentiment. A friend says the suspect spoke about carrying out an unspecified attack.
CAMEROTA: Mixed messages from the White House on what President Trump does next on Syria. Reaction from the former head of the CIA and NSA, next.
[07:50:37] CUOMO: President Donald Trump flexing America's military might after last Friday's strikes in Syria, moving assets off the waters of North Korea. Where does the president go from here? Joining us now, CNN national security analyst and former director of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden. It is good to see you again, and congratulations on becoming part of the CNN team.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST AND FORMER CIA AND NSA DIRECTOR: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So you have said that these actions were genuine and admirable, those that were taken in Syria. Did the president have a lawful right to do so?
HAYDEN: Well, Chris, I'm a creature of the executive branch, and my answer is yes. I think Article 2 of the Constitution gives the Commander-in-Chief that kind of authority, but if he wants - if he wants a political safe haven for long-term activity, he will now make nice with the Article 1 guys, the Congress, and will bring in - bring them into the circle of intelligence and of our planning.
CAMEROTA: General, what was the point of what happened last week? What message was it intended to send Bashar al-Assad?
HAYDEN: Well, Alisyn, I think the core point was that Assad broke an incredibly important international norm, which was the intentionally use of chemical weapons in a particularly vile weapon, sarin, against his own people. And I understand there are barrel bombs and the innocents are dying every day in Syria. But, I think, what pushed this into the red was that we wanted to make the statement that that was unacceptable activity in which really remarkable, that's about as far away from America first as a philosophy as you can get. That's America doing something unilaterally for the -- what I call the good of the order rather than a narrowly-defined American self-interest, which remarkable flip from the man we saw in the campaign.
CUOMO: Right. But it shows, I think, at a minimum, that there's no clear strategy about what they want to do with Syria. I mean, if you want to protect the Syrian people, it shouldn't matter how he's killing them, is that he is killing them. If he is a bad guy and you want to take them out, you would do that. Do you believe that there is any coherent strategy that that bombing was part of it?
HAYDEN: Well, not quite yet, Chris, would be my point of view. I think the president is more comfortable making decisions than he is making plans, more confident in his instincts than any sort of broad strategy. Michael Gerson, one of George Bush's speechwriters said that President Trump lives in the eternal now, and we saw that with his good, and I think genuine decision to strike that airfield. What McMaster and the other team around McMaster now have to create is a broader structure within, which these individual American actions reside, and we saw the debate, I think, playing out on the Sunday morning talk shows as to exactly what that strategy would be.
CAMEROTA: Yes, absolutely. And then, we did, we heard from his -- you know, the top officials in his administration who it seemed were having a hard time articulating what the Trump doctrine or what the next plan is for Syria, and maybe that suggests there is no next plan. I mean, this was a one-off. This was a one-off, it sent a message, and by the way, basically a day later, Bashar al-Assad was flying flights out of that airfield doing more attacks, not chemical, but more deadly attacks on his people, so maybe it was a symbolic gesture that doesn't really have long-term repercussions.
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, it does set the table if the president wants to use it for him to do other things. Alisyn, think of this in two lanes. You got the Assad lane over here, but over here, you've got the ISIS lane. And the administration wanted to be over in this lane. In fact, what 7, 10 days ago, you had a series of spokespersons for the administration, in essence, trying to park the Assad problem. That's going to stay there while we work on the big problem, and then we had - we had this particular attack. In one sense, the response we had last week might have been simply, put this back in the box because we've got to go do this at least first. Now, the tragic argument is you probably can't finish this. I mean, to the degree it has to be finished while you still have this over here. But job one seems to be fighting ISIS.
[07:55:17] CUOMO: What a mess. I mean, whether you want to fight ISIS or you want to go after Assad, you need to deal with Russia. So, you've been all over the place on Russia. You have Trump who has done everything he can, our president, to give them, you know, their next best chance at a new relationship. Now, you have the Secretary of State, and certainly, the Ambassador to the U.N. toughening up. So, what needs to happen when Tillerson goes tomorrow to Moscow? I mean, what do you expect out of that meeting? What do we need to get out of that meeting from the U.S. perspective? HAYDEN: Chris, can I just put one wrinkle on your premise. You can do over here against ISIS pretty much without the Russians, and that might be why this over here has to come later because of everything you've just raised. This is so terribly complicated because the Russians now are in there in strength, and they only have one objective, and that's backing up their client, Bashar al-Assad. So, I think --
CUOMO: The reason I asked because Trump, so many times during the campaign said, Russia is the key to ISIS for us, we're going to use them as a partner in Syria, even though as you're, you know, proposing right now, the fact show Russia showing very little interest in going after ISIS in Syria.
HAYDEN: Yes. Yes, that was - that was a flawed assumption. I mean, that simply wasn't true. Tillerson knows that, and so, we've got a whole basket of issues now we need to discuss with the Russians, but I do think after the air raid, Tillerson can go in there with a sense of strength. I - look, I complained with the Obama administration being reluctant to push back on the Russians in Ukraine, Crimea, in Syria. Now, you've got a president who went out and slapped the Russian's prime client in the Middle East around a little bit, that's probably a good portfolio for Mr. Tillerson to go and sit down calmly now with the Russians about this menu of issues we have to discussion with them.
CAMEROTA: General, what's going to happen with North Korea?
HAYDEN: Well, look, if it - if it were easy, it would have been solved one, two, three, or four administrations ago. I think sending the Vinson group there is probably a useful thing. You know, we've got an anniversary coming up, April 15th is Kim Il-sung's birthday. They get frisky around that date every year. So, that might be a very useful presence there so that the North Koreans don't do anything particularly provocative. It also - it also demonstrates to the Chinese, that their client, and I know they don't want to claim it as a client. That if their client colors out of bounds here, we're going to do things. The air defense system in South Korea, now a carrier battle group near China, do things that the Chinese don't want. We're not doing it because of the Chinese.
HAYDEN: But we're doing it because of them, that might give the Chinese more motivation to kind of torque up the pressure on North Koreans.
CUOMO: But what about the -- what about the show-versus-go ratio here? You bring these ships off the coast of North Korea within range. They saw what ships can do within range in Syria just last week. Does that mean that you must have a strategy in place for -- if North Korea - or as you said so, you want to be close to us? How about a missile close to you? And they do another test, then what?
HAYDEN: Well, I mean, that's been the issue, hasn't it, because no matter what we do, there is this inexorable move by the North Koreans in the direction of building missiles and weapons to put on on top of missiles. Look, Jim Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence Risk, testified a little more than a year ago that these guys would be irrational to give up their program. This is what they count on for regime survival. So, I think the best we can do is to kind of box it where it is right now. I don't think we can make them give up the program.
CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, great to have all of your expertise -
HAYDEN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: -- with us this morning and on the team. Thanks for being here.
CUOMO: On his first trip to NEW DAY as a new part of the team, we're going to see -
CAMEROTA: I think it went well.
CUOMO: Yes. We're going to see him a lot. There is a lot of news. Let's get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We called out Russia because we needed to. How can they with a straight face cover for Assad?
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Our priority is first the defeat of ISIS. We are hopeful that we can work with Russia.
HALEY: We don't see a peaceful theory in which Assad is in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strategy he seems to be outlining is based on assumptions that aren't going to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Assad's telling Trump, "F.U." We don't want a president being able to start a war whenever they want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All options are being explored when it comes to countering the nuclear threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are working their way towards an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. A lot of news to talk about. The Trump -