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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

U.S. Military: North Korea Missile Explodes After Launch; DHS Head: Biggest Worry Is Terrorist Taking Down Plane; Trump: North Korea Disrespected China With Missile; Trump Blames Obama Admin For Flynn Vetting; Trump On Presidency: "I Thought It Would Be Easier"; Trump To Hold Campaign Style Rally In Pennsylvania. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:02] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for Jake Tapper, the primetime edition of "The Lead," the first 100 days.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, John. Day 99, Kim Jong-un tests another missile and tests the patience of the international community. "The Lead" starts right now.

Breaking news, North Korea does it again, hours after the U.S. challenges the world to get tough on Kim Jong-un. Another North Korean test missile flies and President Trump tweets.

The buck stops there? In a brand new interview, President Trump blames President Obama for not vetting Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn whom Obama had fired, did President Trump not know whom he had hired?

Plus, it was so much easier pretend firing Gary Busey. President Trump saying he misses his old life, which was easier. As Russia, North Korea, Democrats, Republicans, the media, all send reminders that those days are over.

Good evening and welcome to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. We begin with some breaking news. North Korea scaring the world this evening by launching another missile as part of its nuclear weapons development program. The provocative move coming just hours after the top U.S. diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, called for international economic and diplomatic pressure against Pyongyang.

In response to the missile, a terse and circumspect statement from the White House press secretary this evening saying, "The administration is aware of the most recent North Korean missile test. The president has been briefed."

The president himself took to Twitter to respond more effusively saying, "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!"

U.S. officials say the test was likely a medium range ballistic missile aimed at the Sea of Japan, though it exploded over land. We're covering this latest provocation on several fronts.

We have with us this evening, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, here to give us reaction from the Trump administration. We will also talk to Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a veteran and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also, former Clinton administration official Jamie Metzl.

But we'll start by going inside North Korea to CNN Will Ripley, the only American broadcast journalist in Pyongyang. Will, the U.S. might deem the test a failure, but North Korea might not see it that way.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right because for one thing, the U.S. and South Korean officials are actually saying that this missile reached an altitude of 44 miles before exploding over North Korean territory. Initially, U.S. officials thought it flew for 15 minutes and exploded over the waters of the Japanese coast. It just goes to show the confusion that result after these launches because this is a secretive regime that doesn't announce these things ahead of time.

We know that as of right now, North Korea has not acknowledged that this happened. And if they indeed they did consider it a failure here, they may never acknowledge it. But keep in mind, the rocket scientists in this country learn just as much from failures if not more than they do from successful tests. So they will use the knowledge they've gained in the early morning hours here and try again, Jake.

TAPPER: Jamie Metzl, what do you think the motivation for Kim Jong-un might be? Jamie Metzl, that question --

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Oh, I'm sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: That question is for you.

METZL: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that. For Kim Jong-un, this is a very critical moment. President Trump is increasing the temperature with all of this bellicose statements and he's really putting a lot of pressure on the North Koreans.

But at the same time, the North Koreans know that China is ultimately for strategic purposes unwilling to put enough pressure on North Korea to stop North Korea's nuclear program. So that gives North Korea a lot of latitude and they are basically thumbing their noses at President Trump saying, "What are you going to do?"

And, again, it comes back to the point that the United States has relatively limited options. We can put pressure on China, but China ultimately isn't going to put enough pressure on North Korea to stop North Korea's nuclear program and this missile launches will continue.

TAPPER: Will, you've been on the ground there in North Korea for several weeks now and, of course, before that you've been there several times. Does this tension feel different to you?

RIPLEY: This is more intense than I've ever experienced and this is my 12th trip to the country. At least we were talking to government officials. They really do feel that now more than ever perhaps the chance of a military confrontation with the United States is a very real possibility. And yet, they are defiant, despite the reports from Washington that China may be willing to cooperate, despite that U.N. Security Council meeting.

I've spoken with a number of officials on the ground here throughout, even last week who said they will launch more missiles, they will conduct more nuclear tests as their leader supreme leader, Kim Jong- un, sees fit.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, what do you think are the implications for South Korea, this missile test?

METZL: Well, this is really important. It's not just the implications of the missile test, but it's what President Trump said yesterday. He said that South Korea was going to be asked to pay for the said missile defense system, which is in violation of South Korea's agreement with the United States.

[21:05:05] He said that we're going to try to renegotiate the Korea -- South Korea/U.S. free trade agreement. And he previously said that South Korea had been part of China, which of course makes all Koreans, North and South, go crazy.

So, with South Korea's elections coming up on May 9 and President Trump presenting himself to the United States as unreliable allies, there are a lot of questions within South Korea of how much they can count on the United States and how President Trump's very unpredictable behavior is going to play into the South Korean elections and in many ways empower the liberal opposition who are more cautious about relations with the United States about that.

TAPPER: And, Will Ripley, what about China, which is obviously key here? Any indication of how Beijing might respond to this launch?

RIPLEY: Well, China has expressed concern just this week that they fear the situation could really spiral out of control. And they are expressing a willingness now to cooperate with the United States and the U.N. to sanction North Korea, especially if there is a sixth nuclear test.

Their options would include restricting trade more than they already have. They have suspended coal imports, a major source of revenue for this regime. But even more importantly than not, Jake, China controls a massive oil pipeline that supplies a good amount of this country's oil literally keeping the engine running here, so to speak.

And yet when you speak with North Korean officials on the issue of China, they are particularly defiant, getting very angry with if we even imply that China has any influence over their activities.

TAPPER: Will Ripley and Jamie Metzl, thank you so much. Let's go now to Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He's in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House. He served both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. What's your first impression analysis of this launch?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, you know, as your prior guest mentioned, it should be embarrassing to an extent for the North Korean regime that it failed. But, we can't look at that as something we celebrate because as was mentioned, every time they fire a missile and it fails, you learn what failed on it.

You know, maybe it was -- whatever part of the missile failed, whatever part of the launch system failed. And then they fix that and then they try it again and continue through -- until they have basically a flawless system. So each time one of these tests happen, it's actually really bad news.

And I think this is indicative and imperative on us to say, we have to step up the pressure diplomatically, economically, yes. But you do that by having a credible military option. They're not good military options, right? This is not a good thing. We don't want to use the military option. It's next to the last worst case scenario. But you have to have a credible military option to force the diplomatic instrument of power and the economic instrument of power to work.

TAPPER: You heard Jamie Metzl, former Clinton administration official, criticizing President Trump's tone and saying that he was part of the reason why things were getting out of control, things were getting more tense. Obviously, most of the blame, if not all of it goes to Kim Jong-un. But do you agree with that analysis that President Trump's tone and his rhetoric are bellicose and making things worse?

KINZINGER: Well, look, I'm always uncomfortable when the president tweets. OK, let me say that. But I do think the tone out of the administration, the president, you know, everybody -- secretary of the state and everybody else is actually pretty good because the reason it looks like it's -- all of this is stepping up and we're kind of playing brinksmanship is because we're bringing to light, the real issue that we haven't talked about for a very long time, which is North Korea is right now in a nuclear position where we did a whole Iran nuclear agreement to prevent Iran from getting to. That's what North Korea is right now.

The last piece of the puzzle that they have is to perfect their missile technology and then they have a missile, a nuclear missile they can deliver on our allies or on us. So we have to bring attention to that. And you'd expect any time that is confronted and that is drawn out, you're going to have increased rhetoric from, you know, North Korea as they talk about a super mighty strike or whatever they're saying. But that is how diplomacy and frankly using the stick to get to the (inaudible) and diplomacy works.

TAPPER: This is the ninth missile test just during the Trump administration. How would you advise the White House to respond to this specific test?

KINZINGER: Well, I don't think you can do -- this isn't going to lead, you know, us doing a military strike or something. I think what you do here is you have conversations with China and say, "Look, it's not going to get any better. It's not getting better.

Right now China sees the North Korea situation and they say, "Look, North Korea is basically a buffer between us and American troops or American interests. And so it's in their interest right now to preserve that regime. We need to turn that on its head and make them realize that it's not in their interest to preserve the regime.

In fact, it's in their interest to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. And they can be a great partner with us in that. They're very powerful influential country. We can use that at the right way, work together on it. But they've got to see that that formula has switched on its head.

TAPPER: With that missile defense system just deployed in South Korea, is this the right thing for this type of war to be able to shoot down a potential nuclear missile?

[21:10:09] KINZINGER: Yeah, for short intermediate range missiles, not for this -- not for an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the ones that, you know, that Koreans basically have right now that they can put nukes on.

This is a terminal defense, so what happens is as a missile enters the territory, this takes it out. It actually does not have an explosive warhead. It uses just simply kinetic energy, hits the missile itself, both are destroyed.

But what it does do by not having them explosive warhead on the (inaudible) is it doesn't actually risk igniting basically a nuclear warhead incoming. So it just destroys the vehicle. It's the right system to have there. And, frankly, it's -- I think it's amazing when you see what American ingenuity can do to hit a missile with the missile in the middle of the air.

TAPPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

KINZINGER: Any time.

TAPPER: Sticking with our breaking news, what does this new ballistic missile test mean for keeping America safe? We're going to talk with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland and Security, former Marine General John Kelly next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper. We're covering the breaking news in our world lead this evening as the United States reacts to a ballistic missile launch in North Korea.

And Homeland Security Secretary and retired Marine General John Kelly joins me now. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

[21:15:02] JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Thanks, Jake. KELLY: So President Trump warned last night that a "major, major conflict between the U.S. and North Korea is possible." Hours later, we see North Korea fire this ballistic missile. Do you think North Korea's actions this evening makes the major, major conflict that the president warned about as a possibility more likely?

KELLY: Well, I think they're not fast enough to put a missile launch. I don't believe they are. And I don't know what kind of missile it was, Jake. But I don't think they're fast enough to put a missile launch together based on what the president may or may not have said last night.

This was probably something they had planned. They could certainly have slowed it down, but they seem to be pretty intent on developing the capability both missile technology as well as nuclear technology. And, you know, it's a real concern for anyone that knows about the possibilities of them linking a missile to a weaponized atomic device or nuclear device.

TAPPER: The missile launch is believed to have been a failure, that's the word right now. Has the U.S. used its cyber arsenal to sabotage North Korea's missile program?

KELLY: Well, if I knew that, of course, I couldn't comment. But I don't know. It's -- you know, this missile technology business and, you know, I'm not a scientist or a techno-type. But the missile technology business is complicated.

They've got some pretty good scientists, obviously. But it's -- they don't have people like we do and the numbers we have. But it's a pretty complicated business and whether it was, you know, destroyed itself on its own or was some other factor, I don't know. But the good news is it didn't do very well.

TAPPERP: Just a few days ago, on Sunday on "State of the Union," you told Dana Bash that North Korea will have a nuclear missile that will be able to reach California by President Trump's second term. Is the development of the ability to launch such a missile in itself a red line? Meaning, is it -- if it becomes a certainty that they have that technology, would the U.S., without question, strike to prevent it from happening?

KELLY: Well, I don't have too much insight, actually, into the intelligence of how they're doing, other than to know that certainly when I was on active duty, they were doing very well. And I don't -- I believe they will have the technology.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, all of the attempts in previous administrations somehow get them to be more responsible, that is to say to stop their technology, missile technology development and the atomic development. They tried to do it and they essentially failed and I don't criticize when they did try Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush, probably Mr. Clinton.

But it is fallen on this president that they will in my opinion have a workable missile, ICBM-type missile that can certainly hit the United States, not all of the United States, but hit the United States. And they're working hard to develop a weapon to put on that missile. I would say that I think, you know, by -- if we can predict it, it's going to happen on this day. We need to stop it before they get to that point.

TAPPER: President Trump says that North Korea is his biggest global concern. Is North Korea your biggest domestic concern?

KELLY: North Korea? Is that what you said, Jake, North Korea? Not right now. I mean, for me in the Homeland, because they're not able, I believe, to strike the Homeland yet. There's a lot of other things that are concerning me.

But, you know, as that came closer and closer as a possibility, clearly, the impact of a nuclear weapon on any part of our Homeland would be catastrophic. There would be a recovery aspect to that if it ever happened, God forbid. That would concern me greatly.

You're talking about millions of lives and quite a bit of devastation in, you know, environmental impact. But for right now, I'm worrying about other things, but I'm keeping a weary eye on what's going on, on the peninsula.

TAPPER: I want to get to those other things in a second, but just one last question. What's you're -- on the North Korea issue, what's your response to critics who suggest that President Trump's language and rhetoric about the North Korean issue might actually be increasing tensions?

KELLY: Well, I don't think they're increasing tensions at all. This guy that's running -- or the dictator in North Korea is on his own program. You know, even China and others are trying to influence him to stop his actions.

I think what Mr. Trump is doing in my mind is outlining the threat and the very real possibility that this guy -- the dictator there could have a nuclear weapon in the not too distance future that could be married to an ICBM. I think any president that didn't talk about it and start terms would not be doing his job?

[21:20:02] TAPPER: Do you think that Kim Jong-un is mentally unbalanced?

KELLY: Oh, heck, I don't know. You know, he seems like someone who knows what he's doing. I mean, clearly, the number one thing in his mind is to remain in power. I think in the dynamic of a dictatorship like that, he's got to do that by convincing everyone around him first of all holding them all and start terror and convincing everyone around them that he's a strong man and he's willing to stand up and all the rest of the rhetoric.

I think that the only way to decide whether he is insane or not is to lay him down on a couch and have a battalions worth of psychiatrists talk to him and figure it out.

TAPPER: Secretary Kelly, stick around. We got lots more to talk about, including other threats to America. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Just minutes ago I was talking to Department of Homeland and Security Secretary John Kelly about North Korea's provocative missile launch. But I was also intrigued about his recent comments where the said that the threat of bombs can sealed in electronics, on airplanes keeps him up at night.

[21:25:02 So I asked him about the current electronics ban that applies to a handful of countries and what he meant when he recently said that that ban could expand everywhere. Was this based on new threat information?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY: The thing that keeps me up at night no doubt, Jake, is the attempt of terrorists to knock down an airplane in flight. There's a number of ways to do that. Obviously explosives are the way to do it for sure. And we're doing the best we can.

The good news is we know from various ways that the terrorists respect our -- that is to say United States TSA-type operations, they respect it greatly. We're considered to be a hard target. I hope that works. That's a deterrent hopefully. They're trying. We hear it all the time in the chatter.

There's a -- let me say a few. Some of the chatter is real. Some of it is specific. And in an abundance of caution, we have to date decided to at best inconvenience travelers at certain airports on the way to the United States, inconvenience them by making them put large electronic devices in their check baggage.

They can still bring the devices, of course, but in the check baggage. And I guess they are forced to read a book or magazine or talk to their kids, I don't know. But, I'd rather that that inconvenience than, you know, a flaming ball of fire coming down from 30,000 feet.

To your point about expanding it, we're constantly looking, constantly listening, constantly trying to figure out what they're doing. And I would have no hesitation to expand the limitation on carrying electronic devices on airplanes bound for the United States if the threat and my evaluation to that threat brought me to that point, no hesitation at all.

TAPPER: What would a country -- what would need to be the profile of the country to avoid a ban on electrics being brought on board by a passenger? Would the country need to have airport security equal or about equal to what we have in the United States? In other words, are we looking at a possibility where almost every country except for, like, Australia, France and England, you're not allowed to bring electronics on a flight to the United States?

KELLY: Well, let me make the point first of all. There was some pretty irresponsible reporting, not by this -- certainly not by you and not by this network, that we did this because there were Muslim countries that they were not -- or they were Arabs or we wanted to influence the profit margin of an overseas foreign carrier to advantage our own carriers, totally irresponsible. Never was part of my factor, any of the factors that I looked into when I banned the -- when I implemented the new protocol in the 10 airports.

Just -- you know the threat is real. There's one airport that is on the list of 10 right now that has come forward to make a suggestion that if they were on a volunteer basis, if passengers were willing to go through the inconvenience of having their electronic devices opened up, inspected visually and checked with explosive residue detection devices, would that be enough? I'm considering that.

But this has nothing to do with the airports. It has nothing to do with their attempts at trying to prevent this. This is a different kind of threat. It's real. And for right now, an abundance of caution, we have certainly restricted the direct flights carrying electronic devices in the passenger compartments on -- to the United States out of 10 air fields.

TAPPER: All right. Secretary Kelly, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it, sir.

KELLY: Sure. Thank you. See you, Jake.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: My panel is with me now. Let's get back to the breaking news on North Korea test firing a ballistic missile this evening. David Gergen, let me start with you.

Secretary Tillerson, President Trump both issuing stern warnings to North Korea over the last 24 hours and this is Kim Jong-un's response, the missile test. You've advised four presidents. If you were in the White House right now, what would you tell President Trump to do regarding North Korea?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think it's important that he issue stern warnings. I think he has to have a steel fist there because they'll respond better to that and anything else. I think from a national purpose, it would be better if he put a velvet glove around that steel fist.

[21:30:04] I think it's important to make sure the rest of the world knows he would like -- he would prefer negotiated settlement. He would like a peaceful outcome to this, a peaceful resolution rather than a conflict because otherwise I think you've got a lot of worry about miscalculation.

The thing that has surprised me the most today is the fact that he is wading into a squabble with the South Koreans about the trade agreement we have with them, and about who is going to pay for this missile defense system, contrary to an agreement that Obama signed. He is now saying, "You guys ought to pay for it."

TAPPER: Is that the missile system? GERGEN: The missile system. And maybe that's right, but to do that right in the middle of what is a building crisis is a surprise.

TAPPER: And what's your take on how President Trump has handled the crisis and what you would tell him to do?

RICK SANTORUM (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, I agree with David. I think we got into this because Republican and Democratic administrations have treated not him but his, you know, his father before him as sort of cooks that they could just sort of, you know, wall off and China will control them and we don't have to worry about it.

And in the meantime, they've developed the nuclear weapon. They're developing missile technology. They're making the same threats that they made before they had this technology. And unlike rational players like China and Russia where we shall assured of, you know, we shall assured destruction works, it doesn't work --

TAPPER: Right.

SANTORUM: -- for someone who is not rational and -- or at least has moments that he is not rational. And so that means to me that we need to get tough. And the fact that we are being tough and that China is actually doing something, we've never seen China act this hostile toward the North Koreans at least in my political career. So it's working.

TAPPER: Kirsten, very interesting White House politics going on this evening also. When the launch first happened, the White House put out a statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying the administration is aware of the most recent North Korean missile test. The president has briefed. Very terse, just the bear minimum.

KIRSTEN POWER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.

TAPPER: And then a few minutes later, a tweet from President Trump saying, "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!" Just -- I don't know that it's cognitive dissidence, but it's certainly interesting.

POWERS: Yeah. I mean, I guess the real question is how different is there a policy when you get right down to it than from what the Obama administration was doing. I mean, there's a lot of rhetorical bluster going on.

But what's ultimately different? And when -- and that's sort of what came out of the meeting with the senators. That they had this 11 senators sort of felt like what was the point of this, because ultimately what they said was we're going to use diplomacy with our allies and, you know, push for economic sanctions. That's essentially what the Obama administration was doing.

So, there's -- so, I don't know. Maybe this bluster helps in some way, but I don't know how it's really that much different than what President Obama --

SANTORUM: If you're saying anything around here words do matter, you hear this about the president saying, oh, you know, he can --

POWERS: Sure.

SANTORUM: His words matter. So it's not bluster. He is actually saying things no president said in a long time.

TAPPER: And it's also possible, Governor Granholm, that the words are aimed at China just as much as they're aimed at North Korea. Do something or else -- I'm unpredictable and you don't know what I'm going to do.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And there is some method to that madness. You know, I completely understand that. Just from the flip side of it, the way all of this -- especially the these nine attempts that he had -- that Kim Jong-un has launched under this president and Trump's responses, from people in America's point of view, if there's not sort of a velvet glove in this, people are -- get really nervous.

So, hence, he has the temper sort of what his message is to the folks overseas and what he's telling people at home because CNN did a poll earlier this week, and in that poll, it was very interesting. Because the numbers are that 27 percent of citizens say they have confidence that Trump can handle foreign affairs. And interestingly, 52 percent feel that he has put the country at risk. And that -- so he's got both messages to the folks, to our allies, to our adversaries, and to the people at home.

TAPPER: All right, everyone stick around. We got a lot more to talk about. President Trump is also -- this evening blaming, the Obama administration for not having fully vetted Michael Flynn. But why won't the president fully distance himself from his ex-national security adviser? That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:38:14] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Let's bring back the panel.

David, the White House yesterday trying to shift blame to the Obama administration for Michael Flynn, because Michael Flynn's security clearance was renewed during the Obama administration, perhaps mistakenly, or perhaps without enough diligence, still that's not the same thing as vetting somebody for national security adviser. President Trump added to that this evening. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do feel badly for him. He served the country. He was a general. But just remember, he was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level. And when they say we didn't vet -- well, Obama I guess didn't vet, because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So obviously, President Obama fired Michael Flynn. But security clearance is a little bit different than vetting somebody to be national security adviser.

GERGEN: Absolutely. And let's remember when he was cleared by the Obama administration, there was a stretch of time after that, before he got -- before he went into the Trump administration, right? So what you do in every administration with top appointees coming in is you double-check them, especially in those key positions. And you do it as of that day.

You want to know if something happened last week, last month. Who knows whether -- you know? And have to renew the security clearances on a regular basis in order to keep on top of things like this. So, you have -- OK, whatever the Obama administration did, they may have screwed this up.

There's no question that the Trump administration and Donald Trump, personally, was responsible for bringing Michael Flynn into the White House and then trusting him. And if his team failed him, maybe the president -- I think that your president can get off, but I don't think there's any question that somebody around him, you know, failed.

[21:40:02] GRANHOLM: But I -- can I just say, I mean to say the Obama administration screwed up when it was Flynn who did not disclose --

GERGEN: Right.

GRANHOLM: -- that he had been to Russia and had received these payments, et cetera, I mean, he -- that's the reason why he's being investigated, right? So it would be -- they didn't have information. But certainly by the time the year went by and all of this stuff about Russia and the picture of him sitting at the table with Putin appeared, by that time that was the point at which he should be vetted. And that was when he went into the Trump administration.

GERGEN: Footnote. What's interesting is that -- as you said earlier, the president is denouncing him. He's not -- he wants to keep him close in.

GRANHOLM: Interesting.

TAPPER: It is interesting

GERGEN: For whatever reason.

GRANHOLM: Right.

TAPPER: Why do you think that is -- I mean, personal loyalty is very important to President Trump? Do you think that's one of the reasons why he is not going after Michael Flynn in any way?

SANTORUM: Well, look, Michael Flynn was one of the few guys who came out early on in the process and --

TAPPER: Yeah.

SANTORUM: -- supported Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

SANTORUM: And, you know, that he was an important person to point to as a reputable person in the national security operation of this country that supported this potential nominee. You don't forget that.

And so, I don't think he is going to turn on him. That's not to say that as David said, I pointed out correctly. They didn't make some mistakes, but I don't think you're going to see him turn on him personally.

GRANHOLM: Especially when he asked for immunity.

POWERS: Or he knows some things and Donald Trump doesn't want him to talk about them. That's an alternative theory because I actually -- I'm not a big believer that Donald Trump is that loyal. I think he demands a lot of loyalty from people to him, but he throws people overboard when they're not working for him. He's done it to plenty of the staffers. So the fact that he's not criticizing him to me suggests maybe Flynn has some information that he could share.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick where you are. We got a lot more to talk about. Stay with us. President Trump isn't the first president to admit the job wasn't exactly what he expected. And maybe there are people who had and even worse 100 days than him, however. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:45:42] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Sticking with our politics lead now, President Trump in an interview with Reuters reflected on how difficult he has found the job of president to be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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)

TAPPER: Previous presidents have reflected on the difficulty of adjusting to their new lives and responsibilities. Bill Clinton once called the White House the crown jewel of the prison system. But the notion that President Trump thought the job of President of the United States of America that that job would be easier than hosting celebrity "Apprentice" and running the Trump business empire, that's pretty stunning.

He's had the tough 100 days. There are many Americans who have had a much tougher 100 days of the Trump presidency than has President Trump.

For instance, Kraig Moss who lost his son Rob in the opioid crisis in 2014. Kraig (inaudible) Trump when the candidate said he would do something about the crisis. In fact, Kraig supported Trump so strongly. He traveled the country to Trump rallies singing the candidate's praises. But after the health care bill, Moss says he'll never vote for Trump again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRAIG MOSS, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't believe that he was true in his word when he was speaking. It's not at all what Mr. Trump promised to everybody he was going to provide for us. And I feel like --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kraig Moss has had a much rougher 100 days than has President Trump. As has Emmanuel Ayala Frutos, one of the so-called Dreamers, those are the people brought into this country illegally by their parents through no fault of their own. Dreamers, the president says he feels sympathy for them, but Frutos who was brought here was -- when he was six, he was recently held in detention for 18 days. He and other Dreamers, they live in constant fear because the president is cracking down on illegal immigration and they don't know what's going to happen to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL AYALA FRUTOS, DETAINED BY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT: 19 days ago, they just took away from my home. The last six months have been extremely hard, but the past three weeks were the hardest, you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Cancer patient Melissa Nance is worried about losing her health insurance. She's covered by Obamacare now, but insurers are pulling out of her state of Tennessee. Trump said he would take care of this. He said he would fix it. He said it would be easy, but Congress has passed nothing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA NANCE, CONCERNED ABOUT HEALTH CARE: I battled cancer and survived and now I'm having to -- I feel like battle and fight to make sure that I have health insurance. And it's exhausting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I could go on and on, of course. The factory workers who were told by the president that he would bring their jobs back, though, he has not introduced a single jobs bill. The troops in harm's way wondering if the president has any actual foreign policy strategy or whether he is just winging it with them on the front lines. These Americans are depending on you, Mr. President. They're depending on you to honor the promises that you made to them. They are who this is all about. Now, I know you like the cheers at your rallies. But if you listen more closely, they're not yelling Trump, Mr. President. They're yelling, "Help." These are the people who have really had a rough 100 days.

I want to go now to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, we got some blunt talk from the president saying that the presidency is harder than he thought. Other presidents have expressed surprise at the job being different than they expected in tough. Does this seem different to you than that?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it does seem different to me and I think one reason is we've never heard so many presidential -- any presidential candidates at least in the five election cycles that I've covered say how easy the job would be going into it. That's what Mr. Trump said again and again, how easy this would be. Of course, he is finding out it is not.

The question is, does he want to be president? His advisers and friends say, yes he does. But to compare his words to other presidents words at this mark, we went back to take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: I don't think anybody has done what we've been able to do in 100 days, so we're very happy.

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump may say he is happy as he crosses the symbolic threshold of his first 100 days in office.

TRUMP: I don't think there's ever been anything like this.

ZELENY (voice-over): But there's a lingering feeling that the White House that he is longing for the days of Trump Tower and surprised by the challenges of the Oval Office.

TRUMP: I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work, so that's not a problem. But this is actually more work.

ZELENY (voice-over): It's hardly the first President frustrated by the ways of Washington.

[21:50:05] At the 100-day mark of a new presidential term, new leaders often offer a rare look into the growing pains of the most powerful position in the world. President Obama put it like this.

BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The typical president I think has two or three big problems. We've got seven or eight big problems.

ZELENY (voice-over): During his primetime news conference in 2009 when the president and White House correspondents looked younger, Mr. Obama conceded that governing is harder than he thought? OBAMA: I can't press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want or turn on a switch and suddenly Congress falls in line.

ZELENY (voice-over): Despite all of the attention paid to the first 100 days, the defining moments of most presidencies come far later.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I can hear you!

ZELENY (voice-over): For President Bush, the terror attacks of September 11th and the Iraq war still months away.

BUSH: Oh, I know we always don't agree, but we're beginning to get a spirit here in Washington where we're more agreeable, where we're setting a different tone.

ZELENY (voice-over): President Clinton may have been frustrated by gridlock.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I learned that things are not going to change as fast as I wanted them to.

ZELENY (voice-over): But still intent on changing Washington.

CLINTON: It may be that we can only do one thing at a time in this town that may be. But, I'm not prepared to acknowledge that.

ZELENY (voice-over): For President Trump, serving his first time in elected office, his frustration set him apart from recent predecessors. It's not clear he actually likes his new job, which seems far more difficult than he so often described.

TRUMP: We're going to start winning again. We're going to win so much that you people will be angry at me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, there is some anger at this president, probably not the kind that he was thinking there on the campaign trail. But as for all of those promises of winning, Jake, by my count he has more than 1,300 days left to still deliver on those.

TAPPER: At a minimum. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

He's visited a golf course 19 times since being sworn into the Oval Office, but President Trump says that's not what he -- he's not relaxing on the course. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:55:51] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Sticking with politics, tomorrow President Trump will mark his 100th day in office with the campaign style rally in great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the city of Harrisburg. It's the state that was key to his electoral victory. Let's bring back my panel. What do you think of that? I know you're a Pennsylvanian and you're obviously a Trump fun. What do you think of marking his 100th day by going to Pennsylvania for a rally?

SANTORUM: It was the state that put him over the top on election night and was one that really no one thought he can win. So, I'm delighted to see him there.

TAPPER: Did you think he could win it?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. I came on television. I believe --

TAPPER: I know what you said on television. I wondered what you thought in your heart.

SANTORUM: I object to that. I'm here telling the truth every day.

TAPPER: You know, I'm just joking. I'm just joking. What do you think? I know some people who are not necessarily Trump supporters think, why does he have to have keep -- having these campaign style rallies? This is all just narcissism and -- what do you think?

POWERS: I don't know. I don't have a problem with it, honestly. I mean, if he wants to go and connect with the people that he feels helped get him into the White House on his 100th day, like -- I don't have a problem with that.

TAPPER: There are those who say he should be spending more time reaching out to people who didn't vote for him.

GRANHOLM: Yeah. You know what I would say is I totally get somebody playing to their base, but when he does that obviously he's not expanding. And I mean politics is about expansion, right?

But here's what I would say to Democrats who are kind of giddy over these first 100 days, of how dismally he's done and how little he has done. I know his team is going to learn from this. They've got to focus on the economic populism that really brought people to him.

If he doesn't successfully renegotiate NAFTA in a way that makes us strong and, you know, makes products here that we ship everywhere, if he doesn't focus on getting that infrastructure bill and putting -- then I think he -- then that second 100 days is going to be like the first 100, but I can't believe that's going to happen. So Democrats, don't assume that the second 100 days is going to be as good as the first 100 for -- in terms of pro Democratic side.

TAPPER: You know, David, I have seen evidence that President Trump and his team, especially have learned on the job. I think that they're putting out people like General Kelly, Secretary Kelly, we heard from before, Nikki Haley. I don't sense it is as disastrous as a lot of Democrats seem to think it's been.

GERGEN: Well, I think that's right. I think especially true on the national security side. McMaster coming in as national security adviser, the decision making process is much more like a normal decision making process and you get the sense of order and, you know, they get the options straightened out.

I think sometimes he goes off with bluster, I might say, on the -- on national security. But I think his team is doing better. I do not think they've got their act together on the domestic side.

And for right now, for example, this is about ideas. You better convert people to your ideas and you got to be out campaigning not about the politics of things, but about --

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: -- of your will politics. But where is the country going and what are you trying to do to change things? I don't think he handled his health care bill very well. He -- the roll out of the tax bill may as like --

GRANHOLM: Yeah.

GERGEN: -- is not effective.

TAPPER: Is there a tax bill? I just saw a half page, like it was etched on a napkin.

SANTORUM: Look, I like a lot of what he is doing in the tax bill, but you're right. He is not out there selling the specifics. And, you know, I really believe that the policies he ran on, the overall policies that Jennifer talked about, the economic populism is exactly where America needs to go. He has a waning issue that actually can unite Democrats and Republicans, but he's really chosen not to focus a lot of time and energy on talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I know what he talks about. He did at the NRA. He talks about his electoral victory.

POWERS: Right, which is really not a good strategy.

SANTORUM: He has learned some. Obviously there's more to learn. And the one thing he needs to learn is knowledge that he has to learn these issues and he has to have knowledge about these issues. He's not -- I believe he's not out there talking about it because he's not comfortable talking about the policy.

POWERS: Nor is he selling it to his own --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Good advice for President Trump if he's watching right now from Senator Santorum. Everyone, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

That's it for "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Be sure to tune in to CNN Sunday for "State Of The Union." My guest will be Senator John McCain and Samantha Bee who was hosting "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner." It all starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and noon Eastern. I turn you over now to "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.