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AT THIS HOUR
Soon: House Votes To Punt On Looming Government Shutdown; Trump Shown A Map To Change Mind On NAFTA Withdrawal; Trump: "If There's A Shutdown, There's A Shutdown"; Trump: I Thought Being President "Would Be Easier"; Trump Signs Executive Order That May Expand Offshore Drilling; Trump Warns Of "Major, Major Conflict" With North Korea. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired April 28, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Breaking news from Capitol Hill, any minute now, the House is expected to put its stamp of approval on a short-term spending bill to keep the government up and running, but do not, please, pop the champagne corks quite yet.
When I say short-term spending bill, we mean short, like really short, like just one week, while lawmakers try to hammer out a longer-term fix. So, a bright spot on the eve of President Trump's 100th-day milestone, the government will not be shutting down, we don't think, but he also doesn't have any legislative wins to point to at the very same time.
So let's get to Capitol Hill, CNN congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty is there. So Sunlen, no shutdown, but also no vote on health care. Where are things headed right now?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Kate, I think they are heading for essentially a big pudge by Congress right now. They're essentially buying themselves a lot more time today, a little more time today, I should say.
They needed to pass a spending bill by midnight tonight, and they failed to get a longer-term agreement to keep the government running until September.
So, they are just passing this very short-term CR, one week only, that will keep the government funded, keep the agencies open and running until Friday of next week, May 5th.
Now, you know right now the House is voting on this. It is expected to pass. That then kicks it over to the Senate. They are expected to take it up very quickly. We do not anticipate any hiccups coming from the Senate.
We anticipate that they will quickly take it up and quickly pass it. That will send it to President Trump's desk for his signature, but of course, all of this just an exercise for one week only. Negotiators will be back up here on Capitol Hill working through final details to potentially get a broader spending bill that they need to keep the government funded until September. So, it's essentially kicking this can until Monday of next week -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes, agreement to not agree quite yet on the bigger deal. They'll get there, maybe. Sunlen, great to see you. Thank you so much.
So, that is the news from Capitol Hill, but for President Trump, it's also marking the 100 -- but President Trump is also marking the 100- day milestone with truly a flurry of interviews right now.
Hitting on everything from a major, major conflict with North Korea, as he puts it, threatening to pull out of the trade deal with South Korea, also saying they, South Korea, should pay for the U.S. antimissile defense system there, and a pretty shocking admission on how he misses his old life. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Speaking there with Reuters. The president also pulling back the curtain on his evolution on NAFTA. That is what the "Washington Post," and Ashley Parker is the Washington correspondent for the "Washington Post" and she interviewed President Trump in the oval office yesterday.
Ashley, a truly fascinating take that you got on how this whole NAFTA evolution, let's call it, happened. Where the president really stood on NAFTA at any given moment in this past week truly was anyone's guess. So, what was behind what seemed like a sudden shift from terminate the deal to renegotiate it?
ASHLEY PARKER, INTERVIEWED PRESIDENT TRUMP ABOUT FIRST 100 DAYS: Well, a couple things. One is there was actually a very big lobbying push as soon as news sort of leaked out before the White House wanted it to that President Trump might be considering withdrawing from NAFTA.
Everyone in that administration or a lot of people kind of went into full gear. You had the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, you had Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, sort of going to the president and saying, I don't know that you really want to do this.
Their point to him was you can only withdraw from NAFTA once, and once you do, it sort of creates a situation that is so politically unpalatable for Mexico and Canada, that even if they wanted to go back to the negotiating table, they wouldn't be able to. So, their point to him was sort of preserve your leverage, and once you pull out, you've sort of blown all your powder. So that was one point of power. He also heard from the Mexican government, from the Canadians, from Chamber of Commerce people, farmers. There was a lot of pressure not to actually go ahead with this.
BOLDUAN: And Ashley, was it really the agriculture secretary showing him a map of who would be impacted that changed his mind?
PARKER: So, I don't know if that was the key thing that changed his mind, but one thing we learned in our reporting was that, yes, the agriculture secretary and Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce, went into the oval office, showed him a map that sort of -- it was a map of the country that explained to him which areas would be particularly hard hit if he went through with this, especially on agriculture and manufacturing.
And sort of the brilliance of this was they overlaid this map with the counties and the states that Trump had won during the election, and they short of showed him, not only are Americans going to be hit, but you're really hurting a lot of your supporters.
BOLDUAN: How many people were in the room during your interview? I mean, the way other people have described it when they sit down with the president in the oval office is like it's a revolving door of folks coming in and out.
PARKER: So, it should be clear, the interview was actually conducted by my colleague, Phil Rucker, our bureau chief, and he was in the oval office with the president. I know Jared Kushner, the president's son- in-law was there.
[11:05:11]I believe Reince Priebus, the chief of staff was there for a bit, and I think Phil may have seen a few other people sort of milling about on his way in and way out. But I will say, it's not sort of dozen people who sometimes sit in on these interviews.
BOLDUAN: In all of these interviews, in the final hours before he hits the 100-day mark, do you get a sense that this is part of, I don't know, a White House strategy to have him be part of all these interviews, or do you get a sense it was more the president just wanted to talk?
PARKER: So, I think it's two-fold. This story, actually, this was really a story we were trying to do reconstructing how he sort of shifted on NAFTA and changed his tune on taxes, and we heard very late in the day that the president was interested in kind of walking us through his thinking.
And I think this with us particularly, with the "Post," he just wanted to kind of chat. But you are right, there has been a slew, this entire week of the first 100-day interviews, and I think that's a very concerted effort by the White House.
They want to show tangible accomplishments, and when they can't do that necessarily, they want to show at least sort of the veneer forward progress of motion.
And not only has the president been talking, but his senior staff has been hosting background briefings for reporters to try to, you know, brag about what they think the president's done so far.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Still, the president, though, calling that 100-day milestone a ridiculous standard. Great to see you, Ashley. Thanks so much.
PARKER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: So, NAFTA is just one of the big headlines coming out of the flurry of interviews that the president's doing ahead of the 100-day milestone.
With me now to discuss is CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, who is also senior editor for "The Atlantic," and CNN political commentators, Kayleigh McEnany and Doug Heye is here, and Symone Sanders is here as well.
So Doug, the president to Reuters, moving away from NAFTA, but here's one thing I wanted to get about Capitol Hill, government shutdown. The countdown clock that is not now.
Here's the quote, "If there's a shutdown, there's a shutdown" and he added that Democrats would be to blame. What kind of bargaining position is this in your mind? I mean, do you really think that the president doesn't care if the government shuts down?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think he does care, because tomorrow's his 100th day, and if that is the headline on every paper and on every television set tomorrow, that we are 100 days into the Trump presidency and the government's shut down, that's a bad thing for him.
But I'll tell you, Kate, I talked to a Republican member last night who's a conservative southern member, and she used two words to me -- rocky ground. She said that Republicans are on rocky ground right now in how they move forward, they're in the dark, they don't know what the path forward is, and they're not seeing the leadership from the White House that they need.
That's the one thing that Donald Trump really needs to fix. Whether we shut down or not, and I don't think we will. We'll pass a CR. But moving forward on the health care bill or whatever the issue may be, there's uncertainty from House Republicans, and they're tired of being on this rocky ground where they can't move forward.
BOLDUAN: That is a fascinating take, Doug. Ron, let me bring you in for a little perspective. I mean, if you look -- if we stick on the government shutdown that wasn't, at least for a moment, for a second. If you look back at the past shutdowns, who does end up getting the blame? How does it not reach the White House?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Everyone --
BOLDUAN: Because he clearly, look at his Twitter feed, he says it's Democrats.
BROWNSTEIN: In the past, we have had shutdowns with divided government.
BOLDUAN: That's right.
BROWNSTEIN: That's been the problem. So, I would assume that if you have a shutdown with unified control of government, there would be a pretty clear place to place the blame. And I do think, as we talked about before, look, there have been elements of the agenda since President Trump has become president that have faced majority resistance in public opinion, particularly the health care bill and the executive order on immigration from the Muslim majority nations.
But I think if you look overall, the biggest problem he has in public opinion, the reason why his approval rating is so much lower than any other new president at this point, why he's the only president who's never reached 50 percent in his 100 days are more about competence, temperament, qualifications and execution at this point than they are about ideology.
And you have a lot of people who are unnerved about whether the way he's approaching the job is suitable for the job. So, I agree with Doug. A government shutdown at this point against that back drop would be devastating, but it is also kind of the drum beat, the inability to kind of make the levers work, again, pulling the health care bill for a second time. All of that I think is contributing to the problems that they're facing.
BOLDUAN: Another thing kind of coming up in these interviews -- I want to get your take. We played the sound bite from the Reuters interview at the top of the show where the president talks about missing his old life, Kayleigh. He talks about how it was easier, that was easier. This is a lot of hard work that he's looking at right here.
As you hear that, Kayleigh, did the president on the most basic level do you think not understand how hard this job was going to be? I mean, there's -- like, really?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think he understood it full well. I think what maybe he didn't or what he underestimated was the amount of scrutiny he was going to get. And every president gets scrutiny --
BOLDUAN: Even to that point, like, really?
MCENANY: But the amount of scrutiny for every word that comes out of the White House, every word that he says, I don't think that he was ready for that.
[11:10:06]I think he is an incredibly talented person. I think he is going to work through this. I think tax reform is going to be a success, but I think the admission was candid, I think it was frank, I think it was honest. And in part, I think that's what people love about President Trump who voted for him is he is going to admit, I'm a confident person, I thought I could handle this, it is a little tougher than I thought.
BOLDUAN: What about I miss my old life? Do you want your president to say I miss my old life?
MCENANY: Well, if I was president and the amount of scrutiny that I underwent, I would miss part of my old life, the fact that I can choose which interviews to have, the fact that I can choose not to be so public in every action I take within my company. I think he misses kind of probably the privacy. And I think President Obama and President Bush even spoke to missing the privacy at some points during the presidency.
BOLDUAN: Simone, let me bring you in on that because as Jeff Zeleny was telling us this morning, President Obama in talking about on his 100th day, talking about his first 100 days and reflecting, he was asked about what surprised him, troubled hem, enchanted him about the job. He suggested that the job is harder than he thought. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The presidency is extraordinarily powerful, but we are just part of a much broader tapestry of American life, and there are a lot of different power centers. And so, I can't just press a button and, suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want or, you know, turn on a switch, and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, what is your take on, as Kayleigh put it, a candid admission from the president, when he says he thought this was going to be easier? Does he deserve some slack?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, look, I think what we just heard from President Obama is that there is not one lever you can pull, one button you can press. There is a complicated cadre of things you have to do to be able to move the ball forward.
Note by President Obama's 100 days, he had accomplished a myriad of successes that did not encompass just signing a bunch of executive orders. So I think what we heard from President Trump in that interview from Reuters was really an admission of, this is really, really hard.
And not only is it really hard to get everybody coordinated, but this is hard. And I want to go back to my life, or maybe not go back, but I miss my life as a celebrity, where I enjoyed maybe the fruits of other people's labor and I didn't necessarily have to work as hard.
I don't want to hear that from my president, but I know he's learning, and I hope President Trump has come to the place where he understands, he just can't threaten and bully and push his way to hopefully get legislation passed because that is not how this works. BOLDUAN: Doug, along these lines -- I don't know why this one sticks out to me. Maybe it stuck out to other people, too. The president also says in the interview that he misses driving. That was one of the things he said. He says he misses driving. I mean, do you really believe, first of all, that Donald Trump, even in his previous life, that he really drove that much? Of all the things to miss, he misses driving?
HEYE: I mean, look, it's a long drive from the Trump Hotel to P.J. Clarke's and 21, obviously, right? And Donald Trump was obviously behind the wheel the whole time. But look, all the things Donald Trump has said today honestly as somebody who didn't support him, I'm not bothered by this.
I think it's fine to admit what a hard job it is. What's important is to focus on the hard job ahead. And right now we're looking at a shutdown, whether it's tomorrow, a week from now, or in September, and that's where Republicans need to really get together and figure out how they're going to do this.
There's only one thing different, Kate, between right now and a year ago. It's that we have a Republican president. And if we can't make these things work now, we're going to stay on the rocky ground that we've been on for the past five years and we're going to tell the American people we can't get anything done.
BOLDUAN: Ron, here's another interesting moment.
BOLDUAN: Because I want to talk about the electoral map.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, yes.
BOLDUAN: We have to go back to the election, or at least the president wants to talk about the electoral map. From the Reuters interview, midway into a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he says are the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.
"Here, you can take that. That's the final map of the numbers," the Republican president said from his desk in the oval office handing out the map of the United States with areas where he won marked in red.
Pretty good, right? The red is obviously us, the president says. Why is the president of the United States, 100 days in, handing out electoral maps to reporters?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, the biographers will all tell you the same thing, they have said, this is someone who has struggled for valid -- who has never quite had enough validation. No matter how much success he has, he's always looking for more.
I'm a kid from Queens. He's a kid from Queens who feels that the elite never accepted him, and no matter what he achieves, the first $1 billion, winning the election, it's never quite enough. And he is shocked at the resistance that he faces, you know, that he continues to face.
But I do think -- I mean, you know, to Doug's point, it's not everything is reassuring that came out of this, because I think the whole process on NAFTA is revealing of what ultimately is the challenge I think for President Trump in the eyes of many Americans.
[11:15:05]If the president was thinking about doing something as momentous as pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, normally, you would have an extended process.
You would have white papers from the Treasury Department and Commerce Department, you'd have hearings on Capitol Hill, you'd have presidential speeches in which he's laying out his views, you'd have a procession of people coming in and arguing --
BOLDUAN: Before you threaten it, you know you can only do it once. You know the rules.
BROWNSTEIN: And none of that, there was none of that. This idea that he was on the brink of doing something this momentous and then shifting course at the last minute based on some interventions, of which most of the Republicans on Capitol Hill were completely unaware? I mean, that is a very improvisational way to be running the world.
And I think that is something that -- very clear in polling -- even on election night. We talked about this before. Roughly 20 percent of the people who voted for him didn't think he was qualified. They wanted the change, didn't like Hillary Clinton, and were willing to give him a chance. So far, he is not reassuring those voters.
MCENANY: But I do think that threat was strategic. I don't think he ever intended to pull out of NAFTA. I think he lays the bargaining position as far left or as far right as it needs to be with the intention of bringing Mexico and Canada to the table. During the campaign, he said he renegotiated and how do you get the best negotiation possible? You threaten the worst prerogative.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Symone.
SANDERS: Look, I think that we cannot keep lowering the bar for Donald Trump. We have to hold him accountable for what he says. Frankly, it's not just folks like me. Clearly, the Trump supporters don't have any buyer's remorse right now.
But a number of people who have been surveyed in polls, there's something out "USA Today" today saying that Donald Trump is very vulnerable because he's not come through on these promises, reasons that people voted for him, economic security, NAFTA, bringing jobs back.
And so, Donald Trump was definitely very explicit about saying he would renegotiate. If he didn't get his way, we're just going to cancel the deal. It's not that easy.
And yes, there are very problematic things with the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. wages were suppressed, U.S. workers lost jobs, you know, Mexican farmers lost jobs.
But Donald Trump and this administration has not taken any steps to really walk people through that, as Ron said, and that is why his approval ratings are so damn low!
BOLDUAN: Doug -- Symone, you always make me speechless in good and bad ways. Doug, please play armchair psychologist for me right now.
Why do you think -- yes, exactly. Why I'm coming to you with this, I don't know. It's clearly Friday, my friend. Why is Donald Trump doing all of these interviews right before the 100-day mark that he called a ridiculous standard?
Is it a White House strategy or is there some element that Donald Trump, not even President Trump, but Donald Trump just seems to talk this stuff out?
HEYE: I think the answer is either both or neither. Look, we obviously know tomorrow's the 100th day --
BOLDUAN: Take a stand, Doug!
BROWNSTEIN: A lot of possibilities there.
HEYE: It's also the White House Correspondents' Dinner. So, what is Donald Trump doing tomorrow night? What's he doing today? Counter programming. As all the correspondents are going to be at the dinner congratulating themselves for the great job that they do, Donald Trump's counter programming. He's doing an advance right now this morning. He's going to be doing it tomorrow night. That shouldn't surprise anyone.
BOLDUAN: What do you think, Ron?
BROWNSTEIN: I think he's worried that historians and pundits, as he said, are going to give him a bad verdict on the 100 days. They do not have a significant legislative accomplishment, and he is arguing his case. I think it's going back to that -- I am doing better than you think. I am stronger than you think. Just to Kayleigh's point --
BOLDUAN: Like some form of presidential therapy? Wait, hold on one second, Ron. Let's go right now to the president, the man we're talking about, the president of the United States.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, Mike Pence, a really wonderful guy and my great friend and a truly great vice president. He will go down as a truly great vice president. Many thanks to Secretaries Wilbur Ross and Ryan Zinke. I'm very proud of the job they're doing.
We're also pleased to welcome many members of Congress and energy industry leaders to the White House. And I want to get them immediately back over there because I know they're going to be voting on lots of different things, right?
So, we can't spend too much time talking about drilling in the arctic, right? But we're opening it up. This is a great day for American workers and families, and today we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs.
Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves, but the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production and when they say closed, they mean closed.
This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth. I pledged to take action, and today I am keeping that process. This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration.
[11:20:06]It reverses the previous administration's arctic leasing ban. So, hear that. It reverses the previous administration's arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.
In addition, Secretary Zinke will be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation. Finally, this order will enable better scientific study of our offshore resources and research that has blocked everything from happening for far too long.
You notice it doesn't get blocked for other nations. It only gets blocked for our nation. Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless new jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy-independent.
This action is another historic step toward future development and with a future, a real future -- and I have to say, that's a real future with greater prosperity and security for all Americans, which is what we want.
So, I'm very proud of the people standing behind me. I'm far less proud of the people standing in front of me, the media! But I have to tell you that this is a very important day, and I want to congratulate Wilbur and Ryan and all of the people that have worked so hard to get this put together so quickly.
And it's going to lead to a lot of great wealth for our country and a lot of great jobs for our country. So, God bless America. Thank you very much. Big question is who's going to get this pen? I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) is what we say in Alaska. Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Who gets this? Tell me. I'll give it to Peter. Right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, on day 99, what's made the job harder than you thought?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't know. We're moving awfully well. We're getting a lot of things done. We are -- I don't think there's ever been anything like this. It's a false standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, I don't think anybody has done what we've been able to do in 100 days, so we're very happy. Have a good day. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right, you see right there President Trump signing an executive order with regard to offshore energy development, but importantly, at the end, the president, who does not believe, as he said, in the 100-day standard, does think that he has done more than anyone in the first 100 days, even though he doesn't believe in the standard.
This now makes 30 executive orders. And that's color bars. Don't worry about that. Donald Trump has now signed more executive orders in the first 100 days than any president since Harry Truman.
Back to this. Moments ago, a stern message from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He says the threat of a nuclear strike by North Korea is real and the U.S. can no longer stand by and watch.
Plus, as the president warns of a major, major conflict with North Korea, his administration once again contradicting itself on a key question -- would they talk directly to Kim Jong-Un?
And moments from now, an important interview live on CNN. The top Democrat in the Senate joining us to respond to the president. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: Right now, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading up a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, the topic, North Korea. He also just spoke about the rising tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: For the past 20 years, well- intentioned diplomatic efforts to halt these programs have failed. It is only by first dismantling them that there can be peace, stability, and economic prosperity for all of Northeast Asia.
With each successive detonation and missile test, North Korea pushes Northeast Asia and the world closer to instability and broader conflict. The threat of a North Korea nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real, and it is likely only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. mainland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me now to discuss, Republican congressman from Illinois, Adam Kinzinger, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, great to have you here.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER (R), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: You bet. Thanks for having me. BOLDUAN: So the president did a bunch of interviews overnight, but in one of them, he said about North Korea, there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea, absolutely, says the president. Congressman, when you hear that, you think what?
KINZINGER: Well, look, I mean, it's frightening to hear it. I think the president's actually correct. And if you look at where we're at right now, North Korea in a nuclear position is exactly where we spent years building an Iran nuclear agreement, the JPOA, to prevent Iran from getting there.
So, North Korea is where we're trying to stop Iran from going. So, they have nuclear weapons. Every missile test, every atomic test, they get better at that, and they're perfecting their intercontinental ballistic missile technology, which, by the way, threatens not just our allies.
That would actually threaten the mainland United States. So, it's a very serious situation. A military strike is the next-to-worst option. The worst option is allowing, you know, North Korea to get an intercontinental ballistic missile that they could put nukes on.
BOLDUAN: So with that in mind, Congressman, the secretary of state said --