Return to Transcripts main page


Budget Deadline Looms; Dollars For Border Wall At Issue; Administration's Mixed Signals On Border Wall; Poll: Trump's Approval Rating Hits Historic Low; Macron And Le Pen Advance In French Election; American Detained In North Korea. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVID BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: -- clear, though, avoid a government shutdown when federal spending authority runs out at the end of the week. It is true that the message coming from some of the president's top aids is a bit muddled. More on that in a moment.

But senior White House and Republican officials say the president has made it clear the government will not shutdown. The likely scenario here, a short-term band aid-type of deal to continue spending at current levels for say a week or so until an overall long-term deal could be reached.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: You know, much of the debate hinges on President Trump's promised border wall and how to fund it, just how far this president is prepared to go to get that funding for the wall depends on whom you ask.

The wall is just one item on the president's jam-packed list for the week ahead of his 100-day in office, we're in day 95 today. One key policy item moved to the back burner health care. With a vote not actually expected before the end of the week despite another recent push by the Republicans.

BRIGGS: Boy, he has a tall task today. CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott joining us to somehow attempt to break all of this down.

ROMANS: Good morning. Happy Monday.


BRIGGS: We are going to need about 45 minutes so get it in here in about five. First, let's start with that funding for the border wall. Will that be part of a spending deal? Here is what administration officials said on Sunday.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think it goes without saying that the president has been pretty straight forward about his desire and the need for a border wall. So, I would suspect he'll do the right thing for sure, but I will suspect he will be insistent on the funding.

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: We want our priorities funded and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security, keeping Americans safe and part of that was a border wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will he sign a government funding bill that does not include funding for the border wall?

MULVANEY: We don't know yet.


BRIGGS: And what Mick Mulvaney just said seems to be the only clear answer, they don't know. President Trump asked by the Associated Press said I don't know yet. So what's the future of this funding deal? Will the border wall be funded?

SCOTT: I don't think that's likely the way things are looking right now. We had sessions this past Sunday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, say that he believes that it could be Democrats that somehow end up blocking getting the budget passed because of their lack of support for the border wall.

What he didn't talk about is the large number of Republicans who also don't support the border wall, including Mitch McConnell. I was actually reading a piece about none of the lawmakers in the House, in Border States support this wall. And so --

BRIGGS: Or the governors.

SCOTT: Or the governors, right. And so what they have to do right now specially in this period where we're looking for bipartisanship is not just focus on convincing the Democrats that this is needed but people in their own party.

ROMANS: We know that is the 95th day of this president's first 100 days. The president himself put, you know, held up the construct of 100 days on the campaign trail saying what he would do, and so there's obviously a lot of talk about what he has accomplished and what he hasn't.

I want to look at approval ratings at the 100-day mark. This is fascinating here. John F. Kennedy was 78 at this point in his presidency, the 100-day. Lyndon Johnson 77, Ronald Reagan 73, Trump has 42 percent, his approval rating at this point. Just look at that.

Now, what is fascinating to me is that the first 100 days maybe doesn't matter, does it not matter? That's a whole different argument. That is the honeymoon period when you have your best shot of getting your priorities in front of Congress and getting it done. We are heading into the end of the week when he is frenetically trying to get some stuff done.

SCOTT: Indeed. So may take is that the first 100 days matter when things are going the way, right? If things were going to way that Donald Trump said they would be going on the campaign, I think he would be trumping his accomplishments. The fact is that many of the things that he said he would like to do by now have Obamacare repealed and replaced, have a border wall moving forward, have the travel ban actually happen, have not happened.

But I think what we should pay attention to is this Saturday during the White House Correspondent's Dinner Donald Trump is going to have a rally and I'm sure --

BRIGGS: Which is brilliant, by the way.

SCOTT: The reality is counterprogramming is smart.

BRIGGS: No question.

SCOTT: We certainly will be paying attention to both of them. I think he's going to try to convince us that he's actually done more during this time period than he actually has. I'm very interested in hearing what he'll say.

ROMANS: That's very Trumpian, right, when you just change the narrative.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: When you have a loss, you turn around and explain --

BRIGGS: Hang on, 96 percent of Trump voters say they would still vote for him. And if the election were held today, Donald Trump would win the popular vote which he did not on Election Day. What does that tell you?

SCOTT: Well, what I'm most interested in with that statement is we saw during the polling in the general election what people say they're going to do and what they actually do. I don't know where that stands, but I do agree the majority of Republicans who backed Trump still back him.

[05:05:01]They wouldn't have voted for Hillary Clinton. Now the reality is that will be something that I think we should keep an eye on for the next six months --

BRIGGS: What does that tell you about Democrats?

SCOTT: Right now, Democrats or the people supporting Trump?

BRIGGS: They're lost.

SCOTT: I don't know if you saw the piece we had on this past weekend, there's some debate within the Democratic Party about who actually is the leader even moving forward which I thought was very interesting. And one of Obama's former aides said the former president actually still the leader of the Democratic Party.

BRIGGS: No doubt and he speaks today.

ROMANS: Today, he is coming back to public life. He is going to speak to 300 student leaders in Chicago. There will be some questions, we think.

BRIGGS: There will be, from six of the students.

ROMANS: Six students -- I don't -- how could he not address the mood in the country and the moves of President Trump?

SCOTT: People want to know and people will certainly ask and I'll be surprised if he doesn't because as you said these approval ratings are at record lows and there are people who are upset about the direction of the country.

ROMANS: Look at Democrats are upset, too.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: You know, in touch, out of touch, Democrats 57 percent say out of touch. Republicans 62 percent. You can put that up there. Who is out of touch with most Americans, Democrats, Republicans, President Trump, nobody is happy.

BRIGGS: Everybody is a mess. Kind of like what's happening in France. Both traditional parties rejected.

SCOTT: Well, I think what we are seeing, what we saw during this election the whole narrative of two Americas. There are at least 50 Americas. People have very different ideas about what they want this country should be and where it should go.

I think what's been really interesting and paying attention to this unity tour among Democrats is just the division even within the Democratic Party, but that's not surprising.

We see it in the Republican Party. We live in this really diverse, complex society and we're trying to get everybody on the same page. As Donald Trump said about health care, it's a lot harder than people think.

BRIGGS: Nicely said there. Eugene Scott, we'll see you in about 30 minutes.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

President Trump promoting his tax cut plans tweeting big tax reform and tax reduction will be announced next Wednesday. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said it will be an outline of this president's priorities. Details are scarce.

There are two big questions leading up to Wednesday's big reveal or maybe little reveal, first, how deep will the cuts be? Here are the proposed tax brackets the Trump administration updated after the election.

It reduces the current seven brackets down to three. The knock from tax experts on this plan it gives bigger tax relief to the rich than it does to the middle class. The corporate tax rate is also expected to be slashed. Now the second big question, what will the tax cuts do to the deficit and the debt? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration will use dynamic scoring to evaluate the tax plan. That basically assumes that cuts will boost growth.

That growth will boost revenue for the federal government to income tax and that increased revenue will offset the cost of cutting taxes. Third party tax analysis likely will not show the same results.

Programming note this morning, don't miss "America United or Divided" special live CNN town hall tonight at 10:00 p.m. He's putting it in his calendar --

BRIGGS: I am. Just writing that down.

ROMANS: -- 2016 presidential candidate, John Kasich. Anderson Cooper hosts tonight only on CNN at 10:00 p.m.

BRIGGS: It's past our bedtime.

ROMANS: We'll give you the cliff's notes tomorrow morning.

BRIGGS: Sounds good.

ROMANS: All right, the path forward for France still murky this morning after the first-round of presidential elections. The result could reshape how France deals with the U.S. and the E.U. We go live to Paris.



ROMANS: Voters in France turning up their nose at the political establishment. The race for president now down to two candidates with wildly different visions for the country's future. Political novice, Emmanuel Macron, and far-right populist, Marine Le Pen, finishing first and second in Sunday's first round of elections. This was a stunning win for Macron. He is a 39-year-old former banker who now becomes the favorite to become France's next president.

Let's go live to Paris and bring in CNN's Melissa Bell. Melissa, I mean, you can't overstate what an earthquake this was politically here. How are people there reacting? And what is next in this election process?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for start, the main political parties that have shared power for decades now are licking their wounds and wondering, Christine, what could possibly have gone so terribly wrong. This has simply never happened before.

Never has either party not been present going through to the second round of voting. The two visions that now face French voters, as you say are starkly different visions of the future and they have starkly different consequences for France's relationship to the rest of the world. Not only to the European Union, of course, Marine Le Pen would have sought to withdraw France from the euro, which would undoubtedly brought about the collapse of both France is a founding member of the union.

Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, is a fervent pro-European and I think that you can expect if he becomes president, the European Union to try to rebuild in a way that it hasn't been able to do since Brexit because it was waiting to see the outcome of this particular election here in France.

Of course, German elections will follow. But Europe will consider moving faster down that path than it's been considering over the course of the last few weeks of a smaller, tighter euro, built around its founding members that will seek greater federalism than perhaps it's dared to seek before.

On that question of the relationship with the United States, you know, the French press has been much amused over the course of the last couple days by Donald Trump's apparent endorsement of Marine Le Pen.

[05:15:09]Ideologically from his point of view, she probably is the closest to him. Not only would she have withdrawn from the European Union, she wants to make France great again and introduce economic measures.

On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron, he is representing greater continuity and the fact that he is the only candidate here in France who actually speaks English might be better news for Washington long- term -- Christine.

ROMANS: Literally and figuratively a new generation of French politician. All right, thank you so much, Melissa. Keep us posted and we'll be watching all the developments. There'll be lot of campaigning over the next couple of weeks, no question.

BRIGGS: We'll hear shortly from Christiane Amanpour on this massively impactful election.

But meanwhile, we've learned the identity of the U.S. citizen detained in North Korea taken into custody at the Pyongyang airport as he tried to leave the country. This comes as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean threatening to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier in a single strike.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is following developments and joins us live from Seoul, South Korea. Good morning, good evening there to you, Paula. What's the latest on this U.S. citizen detained in Pyongyang?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have a name now, Dave. We understand this man is called Tony Kim. He is a professor. We believe he was teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. We have a statement from that school saying he was detained as he was at Pyongyang airport trying to get on a plane.

And we understand from this statement as well they don't believe that his teaching over recent weeks has anything to do with the cause of his investigation. We have no indication why he was arrested, what his allegations against him are, what the accusations are the regime are.

We haven't heard officially from Pyongyang itself, but we do know that the U.S. State Department is working hard to try to clarify the situation. The Swedish Embassy working on behalf of the U.S. embassy, the U.S. government.

The U.S. has no ties with North Korea says he was trying to board a plane to leave Pyongyang when he was detained. As you say, this comes just as Pyongyang once again threatens to sink the USS Carl Vinson, this 97,000-ton aircraft carrier that's currently undergoing military drills with the Japanese Navy, two Japanese destroyers having drills with them right now.

The South Korean military saying they want to have drills as well when the USS Carl Vinson comes closer to the Korean Peninsula by the end of this month. And also President Trump having calls with the leaders of China and Japan. Xi Jinping in China said that he calls for restraint and Shinzo Abe in Japan says he absolutely supports what President Trump is doing -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Paula Hancocks, thanks so much. Great reporting. So much still to come out of the North Korea.

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right, it's about 18 minutes past the hour. He's doing the best to cope with the death of his sister. Now Boston Celtics star, Isaiah Thomas, is speaking out how he is managing to find enough strength for his family and his teammates. Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."



BRIGGS: All right, let's talk some sports now. Celtics star, Isaiah Thomas, shines amid all the adversity and leading his team to a playoff victory.

ROMANS: Such a sad and inspiring story. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Isaiah Thomas using basketball to help him deal with his sister's death. Last night, he spoke to reporters for the first time since his family's tragedy and admits that his mind isn't fully focused on the game.


ISAIAH THOMAS, CELTICS GUARD: Mentally and emotionally I'm not here so I just feed off what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence, so I can do it without those guys. They believe in me and being here is what makes me, I guess, sad and makes me feel somewhat normal through this tough time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Thomas would score a team high 33 points yesterday, leading Boston to a 104-95 win over the Bulls. The Celtics had fought their way back after being down 0-2 in the series, now tying the best of seven series at two games apiece.

MVP candidate, Russell Westbrook, doing everything he can to get Oklahoma City into the second round, but Houston won last night, 113- 109 and have OKC on the brink of elimination taking a commanding three games to one series lead. After the game, Westbrook let his emotions show.


RUSSELL WESTBROOK, THUNDER GUARD: We in this together. Don't split us up. Don't try to split us up. Don't try to make it against Russell, go against each other and the rest of the guys. Russell against Houston. I don't want to hear that. We in this together. We play as a team and it's all that matters. That's it.


WIRE: Warriors coach, Steve Kerr, will miss tonight's game against Portland and could be out for the rest of the playoffs because of complications from a back surgery he had nearly two years ago. Remember, he missed the first half of last season dealing with the pain and Kerr says he won't return until that pain is gone.

Some feel good for you this morning. Atlanta Falcons receiver, Mohamed Sanu, provided a spark in his first season with the team last year, helping them make it to the Super Bowl, now he is providing sparks for budding young stars without even knowing it. Check this out.

Sanu received a handwritten note from a family sitting behind him on a plane and tweeted a picture of it. The mother wrote in part, "Our son sat behind you on this flight and watched you. He saw you studying your plays, make healthy choices with your snacks, you were polite to everyone.

He is only 10 and you are an inspiration to children everywhere. Thank you," signed the family that sat behind you. The mom walked up and gave Mohamed the note after he got off the plane and said read this later.

[05:25:06]Their son just made an elite hockey team, guys, and they were on their way traveling to Connecticut for his training.

ROMANS: That is cool.

BRIGGS: That is fantastic. What a great story this morning.

ROMANS: I love it.

BRIGGS: Isaiah Thomas, too, what an inspiration he is to that team and frankly athletes everywhere.

ROMANS: Our thoughts to his family that will be tough. All right, Coy, thank you so much.

It's 25 minutes past the hour, the White House pulling out all the stops to finish the president's 100 days strong, five days to go. First order of business, the budget. Can he get it done by the Friday deadline?


ROMANS: Battles loom over the budget, healthcare, tax reform and more. Congress returns to Washington. We'll tell you which key policy issue is at the forefront as the president looks to avoid a potential government shutdown.

BRIGGS: And two candidates remain in the hotly-contested presidential race in France. We explain this election that could redefine France and the European Union for the future.