Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Warns of 'Major Conflict' with North Korea; Kim Jong-un Takes Part in Live-Fire Drills. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired April 28, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAH: -- derail a presidency.
Kyung Lah, CNN, in California, Maryland and Massachusetts.
[07:00:09] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's an important perspective there.
We want to thank our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We're not looking to pick a fight, but don't give us a reason to have one.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Xi is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's imperative that the United States talk to the North Korean officials.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of that clearance was during the Obama administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any regrets about Michael Flynn?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The House will fund the government before rushing through a health care bill.
CUOMO: Passing health care has fallen short again.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think we're making very good progress.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump is literally making fools of the members of Congress.
TRUMP: During these first 100 days, we have really laid a foundation. I give us an "A."
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump warning a major conflict with North Korea is possible. Despite those ominous words, the president then said he hopes a diplomatic effort prevails.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, the president unable to deliver this week on his signature promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. House Republicans will not vote on a new bill today or anytime soon.
The president also making a candid admission about his new job and the life that he left behind. It is day 99 of the Trump presidency. We have it all covered.
So let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Blunt messages from the president and the secretary of state in this must -- much more muscular approach to North Korea than in the past. The president suggesting a face-off is possible. The secretary of state saying direct talks are possible, too.
TRUMP: There's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.
JOHNS (voice-over): A sobering message from President Trump, warning about the possibility of escalation with North Korea in a new interview with Reuters, cautioning that the U.S. would "love to solve things diplomatically, but it's very difficult." Mr. Trump praising China's president for putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop their nuclear tests.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi, and I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation.
JOHNS: And even offering a bit of praise for North Korea's dictator.
TRUMP: His father dies. He took over a regime. So say what you want, but that's not easy, especially at that age. I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm saying that's a very hard thing to do.
As to whether or not he's rational? I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational. JOHNS: These remarks coming as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
indicates a potentially major shift in diplomatic policy, telling NPR the administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It's all scenarios on the table. So it really is all up to North Korea. We're not looking to pick a fight. But don't give us a reason to have one.
JOHNS: The North Korean threat just one of the challenges the administration is facing as it reaches the 100-day milestone tomorrow.
Domestically, despite a furious push from the White House, Republicans now conceding they don't have the 216 votes necessary to move forward with their bill to repeal Obamacare.
PELOSI: What you see in the GOP haste to pass the Bill and Trump trying to cram it down in the last 100 days, I think President Trump is really making fools of the members of Congress of his own party.
JOHNS: Democrats threatening to pull their support for today's must- pass spending gill to avert a government shutdown if Republicans were to move forward with a health care vote. President Trump telling Reuters, "If there's a shutdown, there's a shutdown."
This as a new "Washington Post" interview sheds light on President Trump's reversal of pulling out of NAFTA.
TRUMP: So I decided, rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate.
JOHNS: The president telling "The Post" he was all set to terminate the trade deal and looked forward to it until he abruptly changed his mind on Wednesday after being persuaded by advisers and the leaders of Canada and Mexico. Fourteen million American jobs depend on the trade deal. President Trump reflecting on the presidency and realities of governing.
TRUMP: I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.
[07:05:06] JOHNS: The president goes back on the road today, traveling to Atlanta to deliver remarks to the National Rifle Association. And then tomorrow, the 100th day of his administration, to Pennsylvania for a campaign-style rally -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Joe, thank you very much for that.
So if you're just waking up, there is a development to tell you about. There is new and heated rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Pyongyang, North Korea, for us. He is the only western television journalist in North Korea.
What's the latest, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alisyn, well, just as President Trump talks about the possibility of a major, major conflict, we're getting the rhetoric ratcheted up here in Pyongyang, as well. Let me read you this commentary from KCNA, the North Korean mouthpiece.
It says, quote, "In case a war breaks out on the peninsula, the U.S. will be held wholly accountable for it, no matter who made a preemptive attack."
This is the week where we've seen a large-scale military exercise here in North Korea with hundreds of long-range artillery fire, simultaneously.
We saw North Korea release a chilling new propaganda video showing a simulated attack on the White House and the Capitol in Washington, also on the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, using North Korea's land-based ballistic missiles, the Pukguksong-2.
And you have North Korean officials on the ground speaking with us here defiantly reacting to the news out of China. That China seems to be more willing now than in the past to work with the United States to try to rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un using their economic leverage.
Officials here are telling us, even though they trade heavily with China, even though China is a major source of this country's oil supply, they say even if China were to pull the cord, pull the plug, they will still continue to build nuclear weapons and missiles and they will continue to test them. Because they feel they're entitled to have these weapons to protect the national sovereignty.
They filed complaints with the U.N. Security Council. Of course, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chairing that big meeting today with the Security Council. North Korea will be watching it all very closely -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: We'll appreciate it. Boy, are you in the right spot right now. Stay safe.
Joining us now,, CNN political analysts David Gregory and Maggie Haberman and reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza.
Maggie Haberman, as we learned back in our days bouncing in the bars, you let the unstable guy talk.
CAMEROTA: I beg your pardon.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I remember that life.
CUOMO: I knew you then. A couple of places. You let the unstable guy talk. But you don't get him worked up.
HABERMAN: Right. CUOMO: Now, that seems to not be what the White House is doing right
now. Do we believe this is a tactic to force some triangulation of pressure on North Korea, or is this just hot words for hot words?
HABERMAN: I think it is some combination of the two. And I think, as you know, President Trump, when he was candidate Trump and his was a businessman, this is his target. He sometimes overshoots about, you know, half a mile. There are a lot of nations that you can do this kind of thing with. North Korea is not one of them. So saying something like what he said last night can have -- or yesterday, whenever he said it -- can have serious, serious consequences that I don't think they were fully prepared for. I do think there was a chance you see some mop-up of that today.
CAMEROTA: Well, hold on one second with your theories there.
CUOMO: The mop-up was a strong finish.
CAMEROTA: The mop-up was great. However, we had Gordon Chang on. I have to insert his position, because he studied North Korea, and he says that this tough talk from President Trump is getting North Korea's attention, in a good way. It may actually be effective at including the relationship that President Trump seems to be forging with China. That's also getting North Korea's attention. It might be working, in other words.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a combination that -- of -- and look, it's totally possible, because we see it in all these other areas, where President Trump went too far in saying there could be a major conflict and they want to dial it back.
But I think he genuinely wants to ratchet it up. But to the credit of the administration, they're also working very hard to negotiate. And so you do have those two prongs.
I think the pressure, I mean, to your point, Chris, I mean, they're dealing with a madman. And so, you know, I did not actually know that that was a whole thing. Let the guy at the bar talk.
But the -- but in this case, I think the pressure is about China. China can solve this, has always been able to solve it. And I think they're putting a great deal of pressure, because the last thing that China wants is for war to break out or even a preemptive strike. They don't want a flood of refugees. It would be a disaster. And so in that way, I think there is -- there is a method here, and, you know, the president is not playing within well-recognized lines here.
I think he's -- what worries me is the cynical aspect of this. Is does he see a real political upside to the potential of a preemptive strike as the big strong leader to solve a problem nobody else has been able to solve. That's really dangerous, and I hope that they're not going in that direction.
[07:10:04] CUOMO: Cillizza, it boils down to a basic proposition that the president refers to all the time. Is this winning? What is winning with North Korea? You have the hot talk. That's scary. But you have Tillerson saying, well, you know, China just told North Korea if you test another missile, we're going to sanction you.
And we have Gordon Chang reporting that China said they'd sit on their hands if there was some type of a targeted strike that happened there. And we have Tillerson saying, "You know what? We may negotiate directly with North Korea," which was almost laughed at when Senator Markey brought it up, the Democrat, a couple of weeks ago. So what is winning here?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: Beats me. But I will tell you, I think you are seeing Trump in some ways make good on what Don Trump Jr. outlined when they were trying to recruit vice presidential candidates, which is Donald Trump Sr. wants to be the sort of face. He wants to be the public face. He wants to say some stuff, as Maggie pointed out, say some things.
He's not going to do the intricacies of diplomacy. He's going to be the public face. He's going to talk tough. Then there's going to be a second channel that operates separate from him. Typically they move in concert. They move together. Tough talk, then tough sort of negotiation.
I don't know if that's true with him. I mean, the problem always here, we're on day 99. I continue to think we in the political media, especially, are forever in search of a narrative, of a story arc, of a what does this presidency mean? When it's possible that the only arc is unpredictability.
GREGORY: But the problem with that is that you do have to have a strategic focus. I brought up Truman before. Back in 1950, the Korean -- outbreak of war. There was a discussion about how does this jive with what we're trying to achieve in Europe and the rest of the world that's balancing those interests. What I worry about is that there's not enough focus about what Korea means for the administration's position, vis-a-vis the rest of the world.
HABERMAN: I think we should just add one point here, too, which is that I don't know how much of these interviews were actually worked out as some kind of a plan.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
HABERMAN: I think that you have a president who likes talking to the press. You know, who wants to say it's not as bad you have all said it is for the last 100 days. And I think possibly, did not prep for every possible outcome.
CAMEROTA: That leads me us to the next point, Maggie, and I want to ask you about this. Nikki Haley, ambassador to the U.N. There's "New York Times" reporting that now the State Department wants her comments cleared through them before she says something.
Is there a feeling that she has somehow, after Syria, gone rogue or that she's not best representing the White House's position? What's up with this?
HABERMAN: I think there is a feeling that there needs to be some kind of harmony. And I don't think it's that she's not best representing the White House's position, per se. I think it's that you can't have three different voices on the same issue.
And so you saw it around Syria. There was a 24-hour period where you had Rex Tillerson say one thing, you had Nikki Haley say another, and then you had the White House say a third thing. And so I think this was an effort to get, you know, sort of all from the same hymnal right now.
CUOMO: Hey, Cillizza, let's play a little of the sound of what Donald Trump just revealed about his feelings about the presidency.
CILLIZZA: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: During these first 100 days, which as you know, I've been saying there's a very extreme emphasis placed on these 100 days, Joanie. It's not quite as big as they're saying. But we have really laid a foundation.
I loved my -- I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a -- I'm a details-oriented person. I think you would say that. But I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work, so that's not a problem. But this is actually more work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right, Mr. Editor-at-Large. We have a divided table on what this means. You have good for him. He's acknowledging what he presupposed was wrong in the past.
CAMEROTA: Is that Maggie's position?
HABERMAN: I think -- I think it's possible to actually have both thoughts at the same time. Seriously.
CUOMO: Are you hedging? I'm trying to set up a divided table.
HABERMAN: I'm doing -- I'm doing a full 360. I'm doing a 360.
GREGORY: I'll debate. I'll debate someone. Let's go.
CUOMO: Is this something to be applauded or is it something that points out a legitimate basis for criticism?
CILLIZZA: Well, can I take the third way, Bill Clinton style? I just think it's -- thank you. Thank you. I'm taking it.
I just thought it was strange. It's -- it's weirdly reflective for him. He is not a tremendously introspective person, at least in public life. It's odd to me that you would find the presidency, like "This job is hard." If I had to name a difficult job in the world, other than political reporter, obviously, I would say -- obviously, I would say president. It's a clearly very difficult job.
[07:15:05] I do think he -- for whatever he says about the 100 days, and it doesn't mean anything. But of course, it means something for the things that he wants credit for.
I do think this is a moment in which he is reflective. Maggie is right. He is sitting down with a lot of reporters at the moment. And I think he is thinking about it. I mean, to me, the way I heard it was, "Man, I had a good life. Things were -- things were great back then." Which is a little strange. And again, I don't -- I don't necessarily say good or bad. Just strange to hear from the president of the United States to say, you know, "Man, my old life was great." But you're the president.
GREGORY: He shredded up our political process. He broke the seal of the presidency and then came in.
CUOMO: Exacerbated tensions, gave people legitimacy for feeling things that were negative and hostile towards the process and situations around the world. And now he says, maybe I was wrong.
CILLIZZA: Including he stirred up...
CAMEROTA: He didn't say that, "I was wrong."
CUOMO: With China, he said, "It was more complicated than I thought." Health care is more complicated than I thought. NAFTA is better than I thought.
GREGORY: What I'm saying is that it's not OK to do all that and say, "Oh, jeez, wow, I didn't realize it's a lot of work. But -- but you've got to give him credit for being a listener. I think people who judged him harshly. Oh, my gosh, is he going to be doing all those things. He's not doing a number of those things, because he's listening to people, saying, oh, no, you've got to rethink this.
HABERMAN: Two things are true. It is absolutely true that he is -- he is listening to people and he is making changes. We talked about this in the last hour. But as Chris says, this is an unusual thing. And that's where I was trying to go before. It is unusual to hear a sitting president say this. You did have President Obama sort of make clear that he was ready to, you know, move on with life. But that was after -- that's what I'm saying. That was after he had been in the job for more than just a couple hundred days.
It is a reminder that, for all of his claims that he thought he would win, he knew he would win. I don't believe Donald Trump thought he would win, and I don't believe he put as much thought into what having the presidency would mean.
GREGORY: President Obama -- President Obama in his first 30 days actually said to a group of reporters -- I was in the room -- "It turns out I'm pretty good at this job." OK? So arrogance has -- you know has its difficulties, as well. CAMEROTA: I think that these windows into the president is always
fascinating. And the way I hear it is that he was a very transactional person. When he wanted something done, all of us know from being in his office, he picked up the phone, and it got done.
So what he -- I hear him saying is that, oh, this is different. All of the skills that I brought, this is a little bit different.
CILLIZZA: And you know, Alisyn, I would say, too, remember everything on the campaign trail was it's going to be so, so easy, folks. We're going to get this done. And the reality is anyone who's ever covered Washington or politics or paid all that much attention to it knows it's not true.
CUOMO: That's not going to put him in office.
CILLIZZA: I think he might have thought it was true.
CUOMO: Look, I've known Donald Trump a very long time. He's a very savvy guy. He knows what works. And what he did, and it is worthy of legitimate criticism, is he told people who were negative on situations what they needed to hear to really cement that position and get behind him. And now he's saying point after point...
CILLIZZA: Is that what most politicians do?
CUOMO: which is how he distinguished himself in the field. Because he went deeper and darker than other guys were willing to go in feeding some of these understandings. And it took him to the top. And now he's got to own those realities. And if he says, "Wow, I was wrong about some of these things," everybody wants to applaud. I don't think it's that simple.
GREGORY: Cillizza does make a really good point, which is political reporter, television journalist.
HABERMAN: Very hard job.
CILLIZZA: If we take nothing from the segment, let us take that.
HABERMAN: The problem for Trump with that statement is it literally was a "Saturday Night Live" line, right? This is really hard work. This is what you see them do about George W. Bush. It is not, I think, what voters necessarily want to hear their president say. That's all.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you for the lively discussion today. Very great to talk to all of you.
Coming up in our next hour, we've going to have Senator Bernie Sanders. He's going to join us to talk about the president's North Korea comments. We'll also ask him to rate President Trump's first 100 days.
CUOMO: All right. So did a top House Democrat break the rules by releasing new documents that could spell more legal trouble for Michael Flynn? Republican Congressman Will Hurd joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[07:23:26] CUMMINGS: Honestly, I do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it. After the president fired him. For lying. They should be bending over backwards to help us. It does not make any sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Democrat Elijah Cummings putting out his own documents, saying if they're not going to give us the information we need at the White House, the American people should know what we know. Is that right, wrong? Does it play into this larger question about Michael Flynn?
We now know the inspector general is going to look at whether or not the former national security adviser, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, broke the law by accepting payments from Russia and Turkey after retiring from the military.
The Trump White House, in a very interesting move, is trying to blame the Obama administration saying Flynn was their problem. They gave him the security clearance.
Joining us now, Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He serves on the Intelligence and Oversight Committees. He's also a former CIA undercover officer.
Will Hurd, always a pleasure to have you on the show, sir. What do you make of -- now let's tick off the boxes. What Elijah Cummings said about the White House refusing to be cooperative in his opinion and therefore, his decision to release some documents?
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, Chris, I'm going to be limited in my response on this topic, partly because of my role in other investigations. But I'll say this. I have firm confidence in inspector generals. And having an inspector general do a review, he can count that they will do a thorough and detailed review.
CUOMO: All right. But I'm saying Elijah Cummings' move. What do you think of his move?
HURD: Well, you'd have to ask Elijah Cummings about that and the reason for -- for his -- the showing of the documents. I haven't had the chance to sit down and review what Elijah has said and what he's provided.
[07:25:11] But again, if an inspector general is involved in something, that's always a good sign. Because you know it's going to be thorough and detailed. CUOMO: The idea of who is to blame for knowing about Michael Flynn
taking money from Russia and Turkey and whether that was right or wrong, what do you make of the White House saying this is Obama's fault?
HURD: Well, the person who is to blame is the person who may have or haven't taken money is what I would -- is what I would say on that. And let's make sure we have all the facts and, again, an inspector general being involved is a good thing.
CUOMO: Right. I get you with the inspector general part, Congressman. But I mean, this is about the political accountability here. I mean, Michael Flynn was the national security adviser for President Trump. He was one of his closest aides. They were very insistent on bringing him into the administration. Don't they own responsibility and a degree of accountability for that decision?
HURD: So are you saying that everybody -- for every person that may work under you, you have responsibility for everything they have done in the past? I think this is an important issue that we get down to the bottom of and understanding where it is. And I think the right person to make sure we have all the facts is the -- is the attorney general -- excuse me, the inspector general.
And that this is something that, once we have all the facts, we can make the decisions about where to place blame and who should have known about this and when they should have known about this.
CUOMO: Right. But what else do you need to know about the simple nature of you should do a background check on someone who's going to be your main national security adviser? This isn't number seven at the Agriculture Department. You know, this is a very close quarters situation.
You think that you would have known, especially with all the speculation going on about Russia. I mean, they would have been pretty reasonable questions to ask, don't you think? And by the way, Flynn wasn't keeping it secret.
HURD: Vetting is important when it comes to your senior national security adviser and people. And I can't disagree with you there, having spent nine and a half years as an undercover officer. I value the vetting and the background checks and what you need to make sure that you do not have, you know, any potential problems in someone's background or creating political problems that take you away from your mission.
CUOMO: So but you're slow to criticize the White House on this. Why? What else is there that you want to know before you make a judgment?
HURD: Chris, it's just really, I haven't looked at and had a chance to review all the things that my friend Elijah Cummings has said. And also, you know, being involved in other investigations, I'm -- I'm slow to comment on activities because of those investigations.
CUOMO: All right. Let me ask you about something else. We had a homeland secretary the other day. Say, I'll tell you what scares me. These electronic attacks that we have here and the ability to infiltrate our devices. It keeps me up at night. Secretary Kelly said, what is your take on that? You understand the area very well.
HURD: I think Secretary Kelly is a real professional. And that there is credible and real information that suggests that bad guys are trying to use all kinds of things in order to attack us. We're the biggest target. We're the thing and they all want to do.
And Secretary Kelly is charged with protecting our homeland; and he has to make decisions about potentially inconveniencing passengers versus taking care of our safety. Those are difficult decisions to make. But I'll say this. The men and women in TSA, the men and women in Department of Homeland Security are doing everything they can in order to -- to find the right balance between inconvenience and safety. And it's a tough job. And seeing and understanding and realizing the number of threats that we have to our homeland, it's significant. And we've got to have people that are willing to make tough decisions.
CUOMO: And it goes well beyond our airports. Right? I mean, you have the modernizing government technology act you're bringing up. Because every agency, every system is, you know, vulnerable to hacking. And you have to get ready for that. So what are you going to do with this proposed law?
HURD: Well, this law that we're introducing today, it's real simple. It's going to give the agencies the ability, if they save money, they can use it in future years to modernize their systems. This is going -- you know, we should be able to introduce the latest and greatest technology to defend our digital infrastructure and defend the information that the government has on American folks. Whether it's the Department of Education or the U.S. Census Bureau. And this bill is going to give tools to the chief information officers to make sure that you can introduce that technology.
CUOMO: Congressman Hurd, appreciate you being on NEW DAY, as always.
HURD: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris. Who is to blame for the vetting process for Michael Flynn? The Trump White House says it is the Obama administration's fault. Members from both sides debate next.