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Another Provocative Action from North Korea; Looking Back 100 Days. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 28, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It all starts at 9 a.m. Eastern and noon Eastern. I turn you over now to CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news. North Korea tests a ballistic missile in a show of defiance against growing pressure from the Trump administration. Are they also testing the new president?
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Pentagon officials say the test failed, the missile growing up over North Korea territory. The launch coming just hours after President Trump warned of a possible major conflict with North Korea.
Meanwhile, tomorrow marks the president's 100th day in office. The stakes are high for a president who made a lot of promises and has been feeling the pressure to deliver. But how does he feel about holding the highest office in the land?
We'll discuss all of that, but I want to begin with North Korea and go right away to CNN international correspondent Will Ripley, the only western TV journalist inside the country.
And also with us from the White House, our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Will, I'm going to start with you, will. Good evening, by the way. A U.S. official confirming North Korea test fired a ballistic missile. This comes after President Trump warned of a, quote, "major, major conflict." What are you learning?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Don. Yes, we are not hearing anything from North Korean officials on the ground here in Pyongyang. In fact, we informed our government contacts about this attempted launch early this morning.
And given the fact it is believed to be a failure, it's very likely that North Koreans will never hear about this.
I've been in the country before where there are attempted missile launches that failed; they are never announced in the state media. If it had been a success, there would be a triumphant announcement with photos and videos with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
We know, though, that this missile did reach an altitude according to South Korean intelligence analyst of about 44 miles. And while it didn't go as far as they wanted it to, the rockets aren't to still gain a lot of valuable intelligence even if the missile launch is a failure.
So you can expect more launches to come. In fact, officials have been telling us that all week. And also they say the world can expect more nuclear tests as well.
LEMON: To Jeff Zeleny at the White House. Jeff, what is the White House saying about this?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we do know that the president was briefed on Air Force One actually when he was flying back to Washington and he has not said much about this in an official statement from the White House they said they were aware of this.
But then, of course, about an hour or two later he went to social media and had a message. I think we have it. He said this. He said, "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad."
Don, his advisers, also his foreign policy advisers called it a provocative move here and they are keeping an eye on it a very and carefully of course. But it's interesting to note these official statements coming from the White House are not saying much at all here.
The U.S., the White House is hoping that China will step in here and sort of ease any rising threat from North Korea. But, Don, it is one of the biggest threats facing this president and, you know, he has been talking about it most every day, giving briefings on it of course every day this week and most of his presidency.
LEMON: And Jeff, by the way, the president is also commenting tonight on his new plan, tax plan he released this week ahead of his 100th day in office. What is he saying?
ZELENY: He is indeed, he is touting his plan. And Don, interestingly, this is first time he has talked about it actually. He had a big -- his White House had a big release of this plan on Wednesday but he did not speak about it at all, but in an interview with Fox News he was talking about the fact that it would help everyone including the middle class, not just higher income earners. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You keep forgetting to say that the biggest beneficiaries are the middle class people who have been absolutely hurt.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Your critics are going to say, well, real estate companies like President Trump's company will benefit along with that middle class. Is this, is it going to it make you harder for you to get that big cut in the middle from 39 to 60 to 50? (CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: OK. If I'm individually paying 35 percent, I will tell you that's more -- OK, I'm going to end up paying more than I pay right now in taxes, all right. I will pay more than I pay right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: But interestingly, Don, he said he will pay more than he is paying right now but the reality is we do not know how much he will pay because he has not yet released his tax returns.
So once this tax discussion becomes more developed on Capitol Hill, that will be a refrain from democrats and others saying, where are your tax returns. The White House, of course, says he still has no plans of releasing them.
LEMON: Jeff Zeleny at the White House and, again, Will Ripley in North Korea, the only western TV journalist inside that country. Will, if anything happens, we will get back to you in this broadcast. Thank you both, gentlemen.
A busy night ahead of the president's 100th day in office. And I want to bring in CNN political analyst Mark Preston, presidential historian Timothy Naftali and Doug Wead and Washington Post contributor Sally Quinn. Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us.
[22:04:56] Timothy, I want to start with one of the historians first and I'll start with you. Big picture. One hundred days in office. What have you learned, what have you gleaned about President Trump the man and the commander in chief?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I have gleaned two things. One has to do with President Trump, the man, and the other has to do with the system around President Trump.
I mean, there are two stories in these 100 days and in the days to come.
One is the president's inability to successfully follow through on his campaign promises, and the other, the way in which the system around him is presenting obstacle to his America first agenda. And by the system, I mean the courts, I mean the Congress and I mean a republican-dominated Congress. I mean also people within his own administration.
One of the big stories of -- and we have talked about it -- is that he -- there is a struggle within the Trump administration over the extent to which the Bannon-Trump ideas should prevail. So, this is not just a story of the shortcomings of Donald Trump the leader, this is also a story about the strength of the system that is actually preventing some of the crack pot ideas from being realized.
What we learned about him as a leader, he has a short attention span. He wants a lot of, he wants wins. He is willing to change on a dime if he doesn't get what he wants the first time, he will switch his policy entirely. And finally, once again, he is unwilling to admit error. None of those things are surprising given the campaign, but what's surprising is that he hasn't changed in 100 days in office.
LEMON: The question is, Mark Preston, given everything Timothy just said, there is the tendency in this administration to brush that criticism and the reality off as an alternative reality when it certainly shows there are no major legislative accomplishments here within the first 100 days. And as a matter of fact, there have been very few promises that have been delivered upon.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, that's true, Don. I mean, no question about that. You know, I think one of the biggest stories that is will going to come out of these had 100 days is the historians look back at Donald Trump's presidency, certainly the early days in the campaign beforehand, is the fact that there's been this embracing of falsehoods and lies, quite frankly, and an acceptance of that.
And I think that that speaks broader to the problems that we're having here in the United States, certainly with their faith in government, you know, and Donald Trump really has been able to capitalize on that. I mean, he ran his presidential campaign on fear by and large and was very successful, but your point about governing, all of his successes to date are done through executive order.
They're not done working through legislative processes with Congress. In fact, when they have been, they've been failures, specifically when you look at healthcare and what have you.
Now again, in his first 100 days, Don. He has a second 100 days and third 100 days and he's got a few more years left certainly in this first term. Perhaps he will make the turn because I know that certainly everyone here in the United States, even though his supporters don't believe this, want President Trump to be successful.
LEMON: It's interesting though, Doug, because in a Reuters interview he, the president said that he thought that being president would be easy, that he missed his old life pretty early on in his administration, before the 100th day mark. But here is some of what he said of how he thought things would go. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And Mexico's going to pay for that wall. Mexico's going to pay. They know it. Mexico's going to pay for the wall. And that's an easy one.
And it is so easy to stop the globalists, and it is so easy to stop and we're going to stop it.
You're going to have such great healthcare at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it is going to be so easy.
I said, when you see their trade deficit, billions and billions of dollars, and you look at the cost of the wall, then you'll understand how easy it is going to be. We're going to do something with NAFTA that you are going to be very,
very impressed with. That's going to be an easy one, folks. That's going to be an easy one.
We're going to make America great again. It's going to be easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, Dug, listen, every president I think probably steps into that office or sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and they say, wow, this is hard, but he on the campaign trail -- maybe one of the only people that I can remember certainly in my whatever years to say, well, this is going to be easy, that's going to be easy, this is going to be easy, repealing and replacing Obamacare would be so easy, tax reform was imminent.
He said in his first day all of the funding to sanctuary cities would be cancelled. There was a certain amount of hubris to everything he was saying and now he is getting hit with a huge dose of reality.
DOUG WEAD, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I can tell you I've interviewed six presidents of the United States, and co-authored a book with one and traveled internationally with one and in campers and motels and cars and private airplanes with another and had had a couple in my home.
[22:10:01] Every one of them wanted to be president pretty bad, and Gerald Ford he wrote when he was in Congress about driving by the White House at night on his way home and he would think he would hear a little voice whispering, hey, if you were president you'd be home by now.
So they all wanted it. Yes, they respected it, and I remember after George Herbert Walker Bush was elected president when I went in the Oval Office, he pulled me aside. He said, "I finally understand what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said he prayed more after he became president."
So they feel that load no matter who they are, if they're a businessman like Donald Trump or if they're an experienced, hardened politician like LBJ. They're all going to say it is harder than I thought.
LEMON: Yes. Sally, President Trump also told Reuters that he loved his previous life, the freedom he used to have, and now he -- it looks like pretty much, Howard Stern, by the way, we learned a lot from Howard Stern over the course of the campaign. But Howard Stern said this 12 days into this administration. He predicted how President Trump would be feeling. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, RADIO ANCHOR: I really was sincere. I said, why would you want to be the president of the United States? It's -- you're not going to be beloved. It is going to be a (muted) nightmare in your life. He stepped into a situation that's really not a win for him, and it's going to be -- he's a 70 year old guy, he's got a great life, gorgeous wife, great kids. He's got helicopters, airplanes, he's got all of the accoutrements of a great life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got all the stuff--
STERN: So now to step into the (muted) mess, and for what. You know, there are people who are better suited for this kind of thing, and they don't need it -- he didn't need this in his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: By the way, that's why Howard Stern is probably one of the best interviewers in the business, why I listen to him and millions of other people listen to him. Sally, he was right. Do you think President Trump is longing for his previous New York life?
SALLY QUINN, WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTOR: I do. The thing is I don't think he ever expected to be elected. I think he was running as sort of a lark. It was a P.R. campaign, it was a carnival, and suddenly much to his shock and everyone else's he got elected and now he's stuck.
And I think that if I had had to use one word to describe this first 100 days it would be chaos. Probably the second word would be incompetence. I think he's sort of been careening all over the place in his first 100 days, he's ricocheting off obstacles that he's created himself.
And I think that -- I think that this whole idea that he keeps saying, gosh, this is really hard, healthcare, this is really complicated, like who knew. I just don't think -- I don't think he had a clue.
I think one of the things that's interesting to me is how after the first 100 days and people have gone through their various stages of grief and have come to the acceptance point, people are saying, well, you know, it is not so bad. You sort of say, well, why do you think it is not so bad? And people say, well, we haven't had an apocalypse, we're still here, I mean, we haven't been bomb. I think that there is this tendency to talk about the new normalization, but the second is that it is not normal.
LEMON: Sally, you know what it sounds like to me that you're saying is that he's saying, I can't believe people bought this -- bought this because maybe he didn't even convince himself.
QUINN: Well, I don't think he did. I don't -- I mean, this is why I think everyone is in shock. I think -- I think he is really horrified at the situation that he's in now where he has to make these decisions, and if you look.
LEMON: Yes. QUINN: I mean, people voted for him because they thought he would be a strong president, but the fact is that he has turned out to be so far as I remember the weakest president we've ever had.
QUINN: If you look at the way he changes his position, one right after the other, somebody just has to say, that's not a good idea and he goes, OK, well, forget NAFTA, you know, OK.
LEMON: As they said, if you want to, I've heard, I forget who said it, if you want to have influence on the president in policy just be the last person to speak to him, the last person in his ear.
Hold those thoughts because I want everyone to stick with me. When we come right back, what lessons has the president learned so far and what's ahead for the next 100 days?
But here is a look at the president's first day in office. The president and first lady dancing inauguration night away at a series of balls. There they are.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump saying he is very happy with what he has been able to do in his first 100 days, and we're going to discuss exactly what he has been able to do.
Back now with my panel. Mark Preston, you first. President Trump won the White House. I'm not telling you anything that you don't know already, but the president is still -- he is still reminding folks of that fact. And a matter of fact, here he is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Earlier in the evening, I remember Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, all the way up we ran up the East Coast. And you know, the republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College, you know that, tremendous disadvantage.
And to run the whole East Coast and then you go with Iowa and Ohio and all of the different states, it was a great evening, one that a lot of people will never forget. A lot of people. I'm not going to forget that evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he's -- anyway, I'll go on. I mean he's like -- he's -- it is like yearning for the day, like that -- you know, the good old days which were just, you know, a couple of, three, four months ago. I mean, actually it was a little longer than that.
That was today. And there's also at this Reuters interviewed he passed out a map of his Electoral College win to each reporter. Mark, I don't know, can you explain why he's so obsessed with this?
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things, Don. He used to do the same with you, right, when you would go over and interview him?
LEMON: He would give me polls.
PRESTON: He would show you the polls.
LEMON: But listen, I thought, you know, it was -- it was unorthodox, unusual, but at least he was in the middle of the campaign and he wanted to show me what he was doing. The campaign is behind him. The election is over.
PRESTON: Right. So, a couple of things. One is he's looking in the rearview mirror, right? And he's sitting in the driver's seat and he's not looking at what's in front of him necessarily, or if he is, he is being distracted which I guess it is probably more of the latter.
[22:20:07] He is distracted by his own successes because it really does get under his skin that people don't think he's the legitimate president of the United States. And he gets so frustrated by that. And the fact of the matter is that he is the legitimate president of the United States.
LEMON: Why does he think people don't see him as the legitimate president?
PRESTON: Because democrats continue to this day to say that the election was stolen and that the Russian interference and Comey's--
LEMON: It's the whole Russian thing and the Electoral College win.
PRESTON: Correct, all of that. But here is the problem. As Tim said earlier, you know, as we were talking, the fact is he's the president of the United States.
PRESTON: He has a lot on his plate. He needs to be successful. And to do so, Don, he needs to start listening to people outside the White House, people who have been in politics before because the fact of the matter is this is a very difficult job, and he did acknowledge that himself.
LEMON: OK. I need to go quickly, guys, if you can. Brevity is the key here because I want to get all of you in and we have a lot to cover.
Tim, would you say that President Trump is the least knowledgeable president in modern history, because remember--
NAFTALI: He is the least -- he is the least--
LEMON: -- NAFTA, he was shown a map according to -- you know, about NAFTA and on and on. Go on.
NAFTALI: Listen, presidents don't have to be able to do well at jeopardy, OK, that's not important. What's important is that they have a sense -- a theory of governance. They don't -- they don't need to know trivia but they have to have a sense of how to govern and have a sense of the nature of the federal government.
Donald Trump doesn't understand the size of the government and he doesn't understand that some of the ideas he campaigned on are mutually exclusive. There is a basic incoherence to what he's promised. Which is why this past week when he thought about getting rid of NAFTA, his secretary of agriculture comes in, Perdue comes in to and says, by the way, Mr. President, you know, if you undo that trade deal American farmers who voted for you are going to be in trouble. And he said really, I had no idea.
NAFTALI: So what we are facing is a president who has taken tough and very vocal stands on things he actually doesn't know anything about. And that is troubling.
LEMON: OK. If we -- Doug, if we think back to Congressman Elijah Cummings, he says that he told the president that he could go town as a great president if he represents everybody, but Robert Kennedy, Jr. said something similar to me. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT KENNEDY, JR., RADIO HOST: I think Donald Trump can be, you know, any kind of president he wants. He actually has an extraordinary opportunity because he's coming into office less burdened by obligation than probably any president in our history, with the possible exception of Andrew Jackson. I think he could be the greatest president in history if he wanted to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Yes. Doug, do you see the president bringing folks who disagree with him into the fold? How does he turn things around?
WEAD: Yes, I disagree with a lot of what has been said here today. I think he's been very successful in many areas. I think he has turned around the economy. I think he has turned around illegal immigration, which has dropped like a rock even without the wall. He is the wall.
I think he's turned around the Supreme Court. Those are the three things that's the people who wanted him to win voted for him, that's why 96 percent of them still support him and why he would beat Hillary Clinton in a poll that just came out two days ago if it was head-to- head again today.
So, I differ a little bit. I also differ with the idea that presidents are stupid. I have been hearing that all my life. Abraham Lincoln's cabinet, fellow cabinet officer used to write letters to his wife and refer to the president as our dear imbecile. And people think that these presidents just fall into office. It's
just like a throw of the rice -- of the dice. But I've been inside the White House and I can tell you they're highly calculated. Some of my journalist friends can't believe some of the stories I tell them of how issues are parsed, political issues and what political discipline these people have.
I agree that he's out of the box, and that's what Robert Kennedy, Jr. was talking about. That gives him an opportunity to offer solutions because he thinks differently and he's breaking the dishes and throwing over the tables. That's kind of what I wanted to see.
LEMON: Well, Sally, as I said, he's unorthodox. But, listen, the economy, I think whether he has turned the economy around, I think that, you know, some people may want to argue about that.
The border wall and immigration, many people believe he should get credit for that, and also the Supreme Court. He did get a nominee. He got someone on the Supreme Court, whether you want to argue whether it was Mitch McConnell or the president, it still happened under his watch. What do you say, Sally?
QUINN: Well, I don't see that he has built a border wall yet, and I don't see that he solved the immigration problem. He did get Gorsuch in, and I suppose that that would be the one thing you could say he has accomplished.
But I don't think that you can be a successful president if you have no ideology and no convictions and if you don't have a moral compass. And we know that he's ethically challenged because we know that he doesn't tell the truth a lot of the time.
[22:24:58] And I think that ultimately that is going to prevent him from being a good president, not just not a great president but a good president. And I think that the inconsistency that he shows, particularly in the way he deals with every aspect of government has got people terrified, particularly our foreign friends and enemies.
I mean, the foreign leaders are all completely terrified because they don't know from one minute to the next what he's going to do and what he thinks.
LEMON: But for--
QUINN: And I've talked to a lot of the ambassadors and they all say they don't have a clue, and so what they've decided to do, one of them tell me actually tonight, what they've decided to do is not pay attention to what he says. And they've told their home offices that because they can't believe what he says.
LEMON: Well, for our adversaries it may be good they're terrified of him, but for, you know, our allies not so much. But again, it's only been 100 days and let's hope that this is a learning curve for him and a learning period and he has learned from the last 100 days. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
When we come you back, more of North Korea's ballistic missile launch today and how the world is reacting to Trump's presidency 100 days in. But first, a look at this major moment, the U.S. dropping the Mother of all Bombs on ISIS in Afghanistan on day 84.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] LEMON: North Korea test firing another ballistic missile.
Here to discuss Ambassador James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA, CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier, and Michael Allen, former majority staff director of the House intelligence committee.
So glad to have all of you on this evening. Ambassador Woolsey, to you first. North Korea launched a ballistic missile a few hours ago. The U.S. says it was a failure. But is Kim learning as he goes that each new attempt make North Korea even more dangerous?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think it's actually a little worse than that because the objective that they need is not to hit a target on the other side of the earth. That's the normal flight direction for an ICBM and that would normally be the case. But they can launch a satellite into orbit and it can be a relatively low orbit.
The first thing we ever launched in space was a satellite, that's actually much easier to do than to hit a target on the other side of the earth. And if that satellite contains a small nuclear weapon and it is detonated over someplace, says the United States, it can be devastating to the electric grid.
So we've got a bigger problem than that he might go beyond launching something into orbit and be able to hit a target on the other side of the earth. It might take him a while, yes, that's OK, the longer it takes him the better. But he may have more up his sleeve than that. He may be able to detonate something inside a satellite that is in orbit, and that is extremely troubling.
LEMON: Michael Allen, to you now. This missile launch comes on the heels of the president telling -- the president telling Reuters the U.S. could have a major, major conflict with North Korea. The president tweeted this, saying, "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched, though unnecessarily, a missile today. Bad." What do you make of that? How should the U.S. respond?
MICHAEL ALLEN, FORMER MAJORITY STAFF DIRECTOR, U.S. HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE: Look, I think the president is appropriately putting North Korea at the top of our agenda, at the top of his foreign policy agenda, and, again, in the tweet you see him trying to put the Chinese first in recognition that they have the most sway, the most power, the most economic links over the DPRK.
And he is trying to say to China, hey, listen, the calculus has change. We no longer are going to sit around in a policy of strategic patience. We are going to ratchet up the sanctions and the pressure and, as the secretary of state said, all in an effort to try to get them to the negotiating table. But first let's change the calculus. Let's change how things have gone so far.
And so I think it has been an appropriate period of ratcheting up the pressure. Look, we've got a long way to go. No one is going to -- we haven't solved this in 20 years, we haven't going to solve it in 100 days, but so far so good.
LEMON: Kimberly, the North Koreans have been conducting massive live fire exercises for days, including a simulated attack on the White House and the capital, as well as what appeared to be the USS Carl Vinson. Could the tough backfire and prompt him to launch a preemptive strike on U.S. troops or South Korea?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's what some critics of the Trump administration are saying. They're saying that the president's tweets, the president's recent interviews are irresponsibly skating the line, going possibly far enough to goad Kim Jong-un into doing something he doesn't mean to.
Today, to see them launch this ballistic missile or attempts to launch this ballistic missile tonight was a disappointment for the Trump administration.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered a carrot at the U.N. today. He talked about possibly being able to return to talks if they see some sign that the Kim Jong-un regime is going to move towards denuclearization, but not demanding all-out denuclearization.
They also mentioned that the U.S. at one point gave millions of dollars to the North Korean regime to help its people and basically offered that. That was, according to a senior administration official I spoke to, that was an intentional signal to North Korea that there is a way out of this military confrontation, and they didn't take it.
LEMON: Yes. All of this happening within 100-day -- within 100 days, that 100-day mark is tomorrow, tomorrow, Ambassador Woolsey, whether it's confronting North Korea as we've been talking about, dropping bombs on Afghanistan and Syria.
[22:35:03] These first 100 days of the Trump administration, the foreign policy has been aggressive so far. But can you tell us what the end game is? What is the Trump, is there a Trump doctrine?
WOOLSEY: I don't know that there is yet. There may never be, but I do think there are two bright spots. One is that he's selected very able people as his senior people in the national security area, Jim Mattis at the Defense Department, several marines who served together as chance would have it in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And also he seems to be able to step back and have a second look at things. He started out being very interested in a cordial or better relationship with Russia and very tough on China on trade. And over the course of the last several weeks he has migrated toward a more collegial relationship with China and a tougher one with Russia.
I happen to think that's the right way to go, other people may not. But I think he's thinking through these issues and learning from how things are going and making decisions, and that's good.
LEMON: Mike Allen, let me ask you about the missile launch from Kim, from Kim Jong-un. What that his answer to the U.S. threat, and are we on a course that could become difficult to reverse?
ALLEN: I wouldn't put it past him. Look, he always engages and the regime has historically engaged in quite belligerent, aggressive behavior. I wouldn't necessarily say we're on a runaway train towards a military confrontation.
It is, look, we are taking a calculated risk here in the United States in that we're trying to up the pressure on North Korea and China simultaneously.
I think we want to avoid war of course at all costs, and the only way to get out of this trap that we're in and that we've been in for so long is to try and get the Chinese motivated to take action.
I think we've said to them basically so far, listen, we are prepared to put Iran-styled sanctions, very tough sanctions on your banks that do business in North Korea and give you a strategic choice. Would you rather work with the United States or would you rather continue this relationship with North Korea?
These are the choices that we need to force upon the Chinese. This is the calculus shift that we need to usher into the calculus with North Korea. So look, it is not without risk, but to do nothing like we've done in recent years in the long run is much riskier. And so, this is the path we've got to take, and I think the president has shown some remarkable resolve so far.
LEMON: All right. Thank you. Unfortunately we're out of time, everyone. When we come back President Trump speaking to the NRA, telling them the eight-year assault on gun rights is over, but could he change his position on guns? We'll discuss.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump says the eight-year assault on gun rights has come to an end with his administration. It was part of his campaign style speech at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting today.
Here to discuss CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson and contributor Jason Kander. Hello to you. Good evening. Hello, Ben.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy Friday.
JASON KANDER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How are you, Don.
LEMON: Happy 99th day of the Trump presidency. President trump spoke--
FERGUSON: I can tell how excited you are about that.
LEMON: Listen, it's been an exciting 99 days, let's say that. So he spoke at the National Rifle Association today, Ben, the first president to do so since Ronald Reagan. I want you to listen to his message. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The eight-year assault on your second amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.
You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law abiding gun owners.
No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Ben, why the need to give a red meat speech to the NRA?
FERGUSON: Well, I think for the last eight years a lot of gun owners like myself have not felt comfortable with the government and there has been a very clear message from the past administration that we were coming after many of the guns that we thought you shouldn't be able to own.
And so it was appropriate for this president to go into the NRA and to assure their members and assure others like myself that are gun owners that, hey, you don't have to worry anymore, I'm going to protect and defend your second amendment rights instead of coming after it and trying to take away those rights from you.
So again, I think it was a smart decision to go to this meeting, same way it was for Ronald Reagan.
LEMON: OK. Can you name any legislation over the last eight years aimed at taking guns away?
FERGUSON: Yes, I mean, there was multiple times that the White House after pretty much any type of school shooting that they had or any other type of mass shooting that they had, where they said, we're going to come after AR-15s.
They even had to bring in guns, and get approval to bring them into Washington to put them on a board when Dianne Feinstein and others were trying to go through the litany of guns that they were going to try to ban. They worked on that and they didn't have the votes to do it. They did it almost every single year when Barack Obama was in office except for maybe the last year, and every time they came up short.
They claimed it was the NRA's fault. They said that the political will wasn't there. They said how many more people are going to have to die. But ultimately, a lot of times when they were claiming that guns were evil and bad, they were guns that they just didn't like the paint color and didn't even understand how they worked.
LEMON: Jason, can you name any legislation that took people's guns away?
KANDER: No, because let me just translate from what Ben was saying. The answer that he meant to give you was no, because that didn't happen. That's just some stuff.
FERGUSON: It failed.
KANDER: Everybody made up. No, the truth is that what he doesn't want to say is the same thing that the NRA doesn't want to say. They don't want to say the word background checks because the majority of Americans want that.
Furthermore, as somebody who took on the NRA in Missouri I can tell you that NRA members disagree with the NRA on issues like background checks. So what I guess Ben is talking about is after a bunch of little children were killed the president decided it would be a good idea if criminals and terrorists and the mentally ill didn't have the same right to buy a gun as the three of us. And you know what?
FERGUSON: Not true.
KANDER: I think the president was right about that.
FERGUSON: Not true.
[22:44:59] FERGUSON: The NRA came out and talked about having mental illness background checks and having help for those with mental illnesses and having transparency.
KANDER: They made a show of it.
FERGUSON: The second thing is.
FERGUSON: The second thing is Dianne Feinstein--
KANDER: They didn't want to close the gun show loophole or internet sales and you know that.
FERGUSON: Do you -- can you explain to me what the gun show loophole is?
KANDER: You know that that's not true, Ben.
FERGUSON: No, explain to me what the gun show loophole is?
KANDER: Yes, you can go and you can buy from the private purchaser.
FERGUSON: That's just not accurate.
KANDER: You know exactly. OK.
FERGUSON: What state -- what state are you talking about?
KANDER: So you just kind of talk to that, I can't explain it, all right.
FERGUSON: No, what I'm saying is you always use talking points--
LEMON: Well, Ben, if you're going to ask him a question--
FERGUSON: -- or you don't understand.
LEMON: Ben, ben, if you're going to ask him a question you have to give him time to answer it.
KANDER: He is asking me a question but he don't want to hear the answer. He doesn't want to hear the answer, Don, because the truth is that the NRA is not really an organization, it's about its membership or even about rights.
The NRA is an organization that is about profits. As somebody who has run for office, I can tell that you when you get your candidate questionnaire from the NRA what it actually is asking about mostly is not the rights of citizens. What it's asking about is the rights of gun companies to sell guns. It is about selling guns.
FERGUSON: That's not accurate.
KANDER: And it will do that even if it means selling guns--
LEMON: Let him respond. Go ahead, Ben.
FERGUSON: OK. Let me say this. Have you been to an NRA meeting of any type at any point in your entire life?
FERGUSON: OK. So I have.
KANDER: No, I've never been to an NRA meeting but I come from a state--
FERGUSON: In fact, I've probably been to about -- I've tried to about 75 of them. Let me finish my point.
FERGUSON: I've probably been to about 75 of them, my dad is in law enforcement, I grew up around guns and used a gun to save my life against two people who shot at me so I know a little bit about guns.
KANDER: Yes. OK.
FERGUSON: When you say that the NRA does represent--
KANDER: Hey, I was in the United States Army. I'll stipulate we both know about guns.
FERGUSON: -- its members, the million plus -- let me -- OK.
LEMON: Let him finish.
FERGUSON: But don't act as if somehow an NRA -- you know what the NRA does when you've never been to one single meeting. The NRA and the millions of members they have would say--
KANDER: Yes, I've also--
FERGUSON: -- that their -- let me please finish. Would actually say that they do--
KANDER: I'll listen. Yes.
FERGUSON: -- represent them well. If they didn't they wouldn't have millions of members. When you say they only represent their own pocketbooks, which is just not accurate, or they only represent the gun lobbyists, which is also just not accurate, they represent and their membership is people just like me--
LEMON: Quickly, ben. I wanted him to be able to respond. FERGUSON: -- average Americans that actually have a gun and want to protect their right to own it.
LEMON: Go ahead, Jason.
LEMON: Quickly, please. I'm almost out of time.
KANDER: The NRA, the reason that they are against criminal background checks, the reason they're against, you know, really reasonable reforms is--
FERGUSON: They're not.
KANDER: -- and the reason so many of their members are disagreeing on it is because people have--
FERGUSON: That's just not true.
KANDER: -- had experiences of talking to folks like I have. I spent time yesterday with Sandy Hook survivors. People understand that you shouldn't have the same right to buy a gun if you've got a criminal record or if you're a terrorist. That's what this country overwhelming majority of Americans including NRA members include.
LEMON: I've got to go, guys.
FERGUSON: And with all due respect the NRA agrees with you.
LEMON: Thank you all. I've got to go, Ben. I'm out of time. I'm sorry.
KANDER: Thanks, man.
LEMON: Thank you.
When we come back, late night TV getting the last laugh on the Trump administration night after night. W. Kamau Bell joins me with the best of late night laughs.
But first here is a look at a photo-op. Late night comedians had a field day. This was day 22 in this memorably a longhand shake with Japan's prime minister.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Late night comedians have been having a field day with President Trump's first 100 days. Who better to comment on this than Kamau Bell, host of CNN's United Shades of America.
W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: That's right.
LEMON: Do not get me in trouble this time. All right.
BELL: No, no, no. I'm here. I'm just here for you Don. I'm here for you.
BELL: I can't wait to talk about the new season of your show, really, I mean, United Shades of America but let's talk a little bit little politics first. So, first 100 days of this presidency have been a real boom for late night comedians. Let's listen then we'll chat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Saturday will be president's 100th day in office. I mean, it's 100th days in Trump time, for us it's 15 years but we're living in Trump time so it's 100 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first 100 days are traditionally time to reflect on accomplishments of the president and Trump hasn't got a lot of those. He still hasn't filled his cabinet, he didn't repeal Obamacare, there are still Muslims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pro, his promises to take on China, con has soon as he learns how to pronounce it.
I like China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So is this like the new golden age of comedy. Is this president comedy gold?
BELL: Yes, if you're not funny now you're not going to funny. This is the time to be funny. I mean, think about it.
It was not long ago people like is Trevor Noah going to be able to take over the daily show. What's Jimmy Fallon going to do after he muscled up Trump's hair. It has made every comedian in the country more political. It' not really great for me because every comedian is gunning for my job now.
LEMON: But didn't Stephen Colbert go from like, three to one or two to one in late night, you know, after he started with the Trump jokes? BELL: Yes. I know, Stephen Colbert, it was like it brought him back
to himself like he was trying to be a just talk show host and the world needed him to be Stephen Colbert. So, yes, it's a--
LEMON: Right. It needs him to be comedian. It needs to be funny. But you know it's not just late night. I don't know if you saw the Simpson's. We actually had a show 16 years ago that predicted President Trump. This is their take on first 100 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 100 days in office. So many accomplishments, lowered my golf handicap. My Twitter following increased by 700. And finally, we can shoot hibernating bears, my boys will love that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, here's a new bill that you must read immediately. It lowers taxes for only republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't Fox News read it and I'll watch what they say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you have to read it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think?
BELL: The Simpsons has been long enough they're going to predict everything. It's just random chant. It's going to be on forever. I'm trying to get find episodes what happens to me in the future, yes, the Simpson's, always a good fan.
LEMON: You've got to be, listen, you have to have a thick skin when you're the president. It's probably better if he laughs at it, but I'm not sure if he is laughing.
BELL: There's no evidence of that happening.
LEMON: Let's talk about something completely different. It's not funny. But you bring whatever sort of comedic timing, and whatever genius you have.
BELL: Whatever nonsense is working your way, yes.
LEMON: You have. To come up with the season premiere of United Shades of America by speaking with white nationalist Richard Spencer. Play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SPENCER, NATIONAL POLICY INSTITUTE PRESIDENT: I would expand white privilege. We live in a world every spring Google, Facebook, and Apple releases diversity numbers, and it will be like, it's amazing guys we hired less white men this year.
We think that it's inherently wonderful for white people to have less power. That's great. I'm glad. Let's -- I hope James -- the new James Bond is going to be a black guy. That would be great for the world.
[22:54:58] BELL: Isn't that really -- is that a real big deal though, if James Bond is a black guy? Is that really like you care?
SPENCER: Well for me that might be--
BELL: That's too much.
SPENCER: It's too much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Did you write, I just want to go, you know the thing where we go, please, like, you know.
BELL: I mean, I was really surprised. He's talking about all these grand plans of white ethno state and taking over this and bringing the country back to white people and he got hung up over black James Bond.
And to me, I was like, if you're going to get attracted by black James Bon I don't think white ethno state stands a chance. While at the same time those ideas that he has are in the White House two doors down from Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.
BELL: So, the show is about showing that so we know that that's there. But also we show other immigrants and refugees who show the story of inspiring people who are doing who are big Americans the right way.
LEMON: Yes. I had a friend then, emphasis on the word had, who got all hung up, and like James Bond is white. I said first of all, James Bond is a fictional character.
LEMON: So, it's kind of whatever, you know. It's kind of like that, you know, guy in the red suit; you know what I'm talking about?
BELL: Yes, it's for 10th time. Yes, I kept saying black James Bond (Inaudible) so we got to do it.
LEMON: Yes. What do you want people to know about this season?
BELL: That this season if you liked season one this season I think is really a step up. We got, I think it's smarter, I think it's funnier. I think because of the currency of the country, it's got a lot more heart. I feel like season one was the mixed tape this is the album.
BELL: Yes, that's right.
LEMON: You album drops.
BELL: The album drops Sunday night on CNN.
LEMON: On Sunday night at 10.
BELL: That's right.
LEMON: Thank you, sir, by the way.
BELL: Thank you.
LEMON: The new season of United Shades of America drops Saturday -- sorry, excuse me, Sunday - Sunday at 10 p.m. right here on CNN. And just before that make sure you catch the new season of Parts Unknown at 9 p.m. on Sunday. Anthony Bourdain travels to the South Pole. Both of them this Sunday at 9, and then Kamau Bell at 10.
When we come right back, more on the president's first 100 days in office and his businessman style working, is it working in Washington.
And we continue to look back at his most memorable moments so far, like this amazing image the president having fun in the driver's seat of a big rig after meeting with members of the American Trucking Association. That was day 63 by the way.