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North Korea Launches Failed Missile Test; President Trump Speaks at NRA Event; President Trump's First 100 Days in Office Examined; Varying Levels of Influence of Trump Aides and Family Members Assessed. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 29, 2017 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:12] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on President Trump's 100th day in office. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in the nation's capital.

President Trump marks the day with a huge campaign style rally, this after repeatedly dismissing the milestone as a ridiculous measure of early success. We'll take a look at his administration's accomplishments, stumbles, and the work in progress.

And just hours after the White House rallied international pressure on North Korea, the regime fires back with a defiant launch of a ballistic missile. The test considered a failure but effective in sending a message.

Also being heard today, protests and rallies across the country some in support of the president, some angrily opposing what he already accomplished or is proposing, the largest encircling the White House later on today and railing against the changing climate both environmentally and politically.

We begin this hour with North Korea and its latest brazen refute of international pressure. The missile launch coming just hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired a special meeting at the United Nations and called for increased pressure on the regime. CNN's Will Ripley is in Pyongyang, the only western television journalist in the North Korean capital. Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, tensions here in the Korean peninsula are at their highest level in years. In fact it's gotten so bad this has become the most pressing global security concern right for you for the Trump administration. And in President Trump's first 100 days in office, North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un has ordered at least nine missile launches. Not all of them have been successful, including the latest launch in the early morning hours here. U.S. and South Korean analysts believe the missile traveled just 22 miles before exploding over North Korean territory. They had initially thought it traveled much further, possibly flying for 15 minutes and exploding in the waters near the Japanese coast. That was enough to issue a nationwide alert, a missile alert in Japan that halted subway and rail service in the country for a full 10 minutes. It just goes to show how tense the situation is here in this region. The kind of missile that North Korea tested was a modified scud that

we saw unveiled in this country's large military parade earlier this month, and that's significant that they would test this particular kind of missile on the very same day that we've confirmed the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group has arrived in the waters off the Korean peninsula and is now conducting joint naval drills with the South Korean Navy.

North Korea clearly trying to sending a message to the United States that they will continue to test weapons that they view as essential to protect their national sovereignty and to protect against what they believe is hostility and aggression on the part of the United States. They're watching very closely not only the words from President Trump saying that a major, major conflict with North Korea is very possible, but they also listen to Secretary Tillerson at the U.N. Security Council urging the world to put more diplomatic isolation and economic pressure on this country. The North Korean response -- that will not stop them from testing missiles and nuclear weapons. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Will. So President Trump joining the chorus of nations condemning North Korea's defiant missile launch, and the president trying to nudge China into applying pressure on its communist ally. CNN's Joe Johns is at the White House for us. Joe, what's the response from the White House this morning?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Fred. Well, among other things, the White House very much trying to downplay this latest activity by North Korea. The president tweeting, in fact, that among other things, North Korea had disrespected the wishes of China's president by launching this missile, a clear indication that the administration wants to put the onus on president of China to interact with North Korea to bring resolution to the nuclear ambitions of that country.

The White House statement from the press secretary officially just two lines, essentially saying that the administration was aware of the missile launch and that the president was briefed. The National Security Council pointing a bit of a finer point on it, saying there was reason for concern for the missile launch, but also saying North Korea has always been provocative in response to a question about the timing of this missile launch occurring just a few hours after the secretary of state chaired that big beating at the United Nations.

So quiet here at the White House as the president prepares to go over to Pennsylvania to celebrate the 100th day of his administration. He will be meeting before he goes with his CIA director. Fred, back to you.

[10:05:06] WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much, Joe Johns, at the White House. We'll check back with you.

Shortly after news broke of another North Korea missile test, CNN spoke with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Secretary Kelly believes it will be up to President Trump to stop North Korea before it has a missile that can reach the U.S.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: 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 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, if it becomes a certainty that they have that technology, would the U.S. without question strike to prevent it from happening?

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: 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 of previous administrations to 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. I don't criticize them. They did try. Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton. But it has 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 if we can predict it would happen on this day, we need to stop it before they get to that point.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring in our panel, CNN political analyst David Drucker and Jackie Kucinich. Also with us is Lynn Sweet, the Washington Bureau Chief for "The Chicago Sun-Times," Clarissa Ward, CNN senior international correspondent. Welcome to all of you. So Clarissa, you first. What is the message that North Korea is sending by this latest missile test?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is actually a strategy that we've seen the North Koreans implement for years now. It's this kind of endless cycle of we do something erratic and crazy is that puts the hold world on edge. And previously the world has responded by saying let's all sit down at the negotiating table and we'll give you more aid and you can extract some more concessions from us.

And this is exactly why the Trump administration said we want to end this era of strategic patience. Well, the problem with ending strategic patience is you have to replace it with something else. And as of yet we don't know what that is. While we don't know what President Trump's red lines are, we also don't know what the young Kim's red lines are as well. And that's what gives me some real cause for concern.

I think obviously this is a response to heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula, U.S. naval presence there, joint military exercises going on, the rhetoric he's hearing coming from President Trump. But the question is, how far is he willing to take it? How serious is he about developing a nuclear weapon? And it appears that he's very serious about it indeed.

WHITFIELD: But David, when it's a failure, this is considered a failed attempt, is North Korea sending a message that we're still not ready or is the message that it's sending we're continuing to revise and we're working on it so that is still a message of strength?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that from perspective of North Koreans, as Clarissa noted, what you're dealing with is a regime that is intent on getting there. And as a U.S. official said in recent days, every failed test is something they can learn from and it gives them an opportunity to get further along.

And the reason this has become so urgent and I think that the reason the Trump administration is paying so close attention to it is it's no longer a question of them developing nuclear weapons. It's about them developing means to deliver them, not just hitting our allies in the region but the continental United States.

And so I think that for the Trump administration it's understandable and we should say commendable that they've brought a level of urgency to this and they're trying to find a new way of dealing with this because previous Democratic and Republican administration have failed to put a cap on Kim Jong-un un and his father before him.

The question here is relying on China as the check that's going to get this done, it's not a strategy that doesn't make any sense. It makes sense given China's influence with Pyongyang and their proximity. But China has no interest in making life better for the United States. And so President Trump has a lot riding on this personal relationship that he believes he's developed with President Xi in China when I think that the Chinese frankly would be happy to let the U.S. be caught up in this problem, and so it gives them a chance to further develop their influence in the region, build those bases in the South China Sea that we think are illegal and keeps us spun up. And so I'm not sure how much President Xi actually wants to solve this problem for us.

[10:10:17] WHITFIELD: Except that, Jackie, in a tweet this morning, the president is actually challenging, is he not, China to be more involved by saying to North Korea this was very disrespectful. And here he is right now, "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected president when it launched." So isn't that the White House just as we heard our Joe Johns say, the White House saying, OK, China, come on. You get involved now.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a little bit of tough talk now, saying are you going to let him do that to you, China? Are you going to step up?

WHITFIELD: Instigating. They call is that instigating on the basketball court, right?

KUCINICH: That's what it seems like. And the fact that this was a failed missile launch, OK, fine, but this is a challenge to the Chinese president, to the Americans to say I do what I want. They've been warned. You've heard administration escalate their talks, and right now the message from the North Korean regime is we don't care.

WHITFIELD: Escalating talks. We hear Secretary Tillerson who says, wait a minute, for those of you countries that are not complying with these economic sanctions, there will be consequences. That's more than tough talk. That really is the U.S. threatening other countries to get more engaged here on a different level?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Yes and no. And here is where I think the administration is trying to figure out how much of this do they want to outsource to other countries, what is the potential of having a real alliance, or in the case of the Syria strike, we sent those 59 missiles in on our own in a unilateral move. This is so much more serious because now you're dealing with a country that's has retaliatory powers, and it's more complex because we have multiple relationship issues with China at the same time, and with all of this commotion going on, we are also putting pressure on South Korea to help pay for the defense that the U.S. provides, which then puts another element of uncertainty in this fraught time.

DRUCKER: I think that's a good point because there's a mixed message being sent by the Trump administration in recent days. When you pressuring South Korea to pay for missile defense, and in a sense the message is maybe we won't provide it if you don't write us a check, I think the North Koreans can look at that and wonder exactly how close our relationship is with south Korea and how far we're willing to go to defend them. And obviously the reason our options are so limited is because attacking North Korea could be catastrophic for Seoul where tens of millions of people live. And so I think that the administration, while it is doing a good job trying to stake out a new North Korea policy, has to be careful from the top of the White House of not sending mixed messages that give Kim Jong-un the freedom as though he has latitude to invoke.

WHITFIELD: All right, let's shift gears now. We're talking about the former national security adviser Michael Flynn under investigation for taking money from foreign groups without proper approval, and now the White House has been blaming the Obama administration, saying you're the one who vetted him. So you didn't do a good job. Aren't we talking, Lynn, about different levels of vetting for his job at the time versus national security adviser being brought on by another administration. Why is it this White House doesn't see that there are differences?

SWEET: The Trump White House likes to blame the rain some days on Obama. OK, we get that. Once you take in Flynn, who already had security clearance under Obama, that's true, it didn't mean that they did not have any responsibility to do their own scrubbing when you elevate somebody to this post. I think that's the issue. Not that he had a security clearance, but did you take your own vet look before you appointed him in his national security position.

WHITFIELD: And someone with great familiarity with that post, national security adviser Susan Rice had this to say to Fareed Zakaria about this entire issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: The administration now says that it is the Obama's administration's fault that Michael Flynn got through un- vetted, or not vetted enough, that it was on your watch that he retained top secret security clearance despite the fact that he had received money from the Russians. What do you say?

SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Fareed, I'm smiling because that's rich. Let me explain how this process works. First of all, a former military officer such as General Flynn who wants to retain his security clearance would go through a process with his home agency, in this case the Defense Intelligence Agency, to have his clearance reviewed and renewed. That happens at a very routine level, never at a political level.

[10:15:06] But that's a very separate thing. The renewal of a clearance from vetting that goes into appointment of any senior White House official or any senior administration official. The Trump administration, like its previous administration, had an expectation and an obligation to vet to their satisfaction those individuals that the president was appointing to high positions, which is a separate and much more elaborate process than a security clearance. It gets into the financial information. It gets into your relationships and contacts. It gets into your behavior. It's a much deeper vet than what is done solely for the purpose of a security clearance.


WHITFIELD: All right, so, David, will this help quiet the White House on constantly bringing up the Obama administration in terms of vetting, Susan Rice's response, or does this even inspire the White House to say we have got to stop defending Michael Flynn?

DRUCKER: I don't think the White House is going to stop defending the president's decision to hire him as national security adviser in the first place. I think it's clear as we watch this play out during the week that they didn't have a good answer for why he wasn't properly vetted.

I understand why conservatives and Republicans think Susan Rice is not a good messenger for Democrats on this given what happened in the aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and her going on all of those Sunday shows with a faulty story. But the truth about Flynn is they should -- the Trump administration team and the Trump White House should have properly vetted him for position of national security adviser and they should have done it on their own. They can blame Obama and they can blame defense department bureaucracy, if you will, for not doing a proper job, but it really lies with them and blame shifting is not going to work.

WHITFIELD: Does anyone expect the White House to do that?

KUCINICH: It's kind of funny all the trust they have all of a sudden placed in the Obama administration after this talk about how they did everything wrong. I think when it comes to the Trump administration and Flynn, a lot of this comes down to loyalty. Even when he was firing Michael Flynn, he was effusive about his credentials. This is a man who stuck with the president when no one thought he would win. He was the guy they pointed to as proof that he could be a strong commander in chief because this decorated general was back him. So the fact that Michael Flynn stood with him has made it very tough for Trump to turn his back on him because that's just how this president is. He values loyalty.

WHITFIELD: Real quick on that?

WARD: I would just say the Russians right now are sort of pulling their hair out a little bit, saying we had such high hopes for this president, and quickly we're watching all the people who were close to use, whether it's Manafort, whether it's Flynn disappearing by the wayside and the president coming under pressure to really disassociate and cut off those perceived ties with Russia.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. We'll have you all back.

Also coming up, 100 days came and went with no deal on health care, one of the president's key promises when taking office. That's next.


[10:22:35] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington D.C.

Despite a push Thursday by Republican leaders, this week came and went with no new health care deal making its way to the floor of the House. House leaders say they are making progress but Americans are less optimistic a deal will ever get done. A new CNN/ORC poll says just 20 percent say it's very likely Republicans will repeal and replace Obamacare. That's down from 50 percent from when Trump took office in January. CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joining me now. So Suzanne, good to see you. How close are they to putting together a bill to actually bring to the floor of the House for a vote?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's good to see you, too, Fred.

It is still too far to get a bill with acceptable language for Republicans, and the conservatives led by the House Freedom Caucus, it's leader Mark Meadows, they blocked the first effort by President Trump and the Republican leadership to replace and repeal Obamacare because it really didn't go far enough. Last week what happened was they worked with moderate Republicans to put out this amendment that they hoped would be acceptable to both sides to bring the plan back and give Trump some legislative victory on his first 100 days.

It would have given states waivers to opt out of this requirement for insurance companies to provide people with preexisting conditions coverage like everybody else for the same price. So this attracted some of the moderates but not enough to get those votes necessary to bring it to the House floor. So Democrats, on the other hand, they did get a concession as a condition of passing this temporary spending bill which avoided the shutdown today, it was a commitment that the federal government would continue providing subsidies to insurance companies to reduce the out of pocket costs for low income folks who were trying to hold onto their insurance. Well, Democrats insisted it was necessary to prevent some 7 million folks from being kicked off health insurance under Obamacare. So today Democratic protesters, they are descending on Washington to address climate change as well as fight for keeping their health care. I talked to Senator Bernie Sanders just yesterday about the opposition's strategy.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: The rallies that we have seen where people are telling the Republicans you cannot throw 24 million people off of health insurance, that's another part of it. So we need to build a broad, grassroots activist movement which says to Washington, you know what, we need a government that represents all of us and not just one percent.


[10:25:03] MALVEAUX: So Fred, we're going to be looking at some concessions or areas where Democrats and Republicans can work together on next week's budget negotiations. And some of that might include a modest infrastructure program, support for mental health as well as fighting child abuse. So those are some of the things they think they can come together on. We'll see just how this goes, but at least the government is being funded for another week. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

A new health care bill was just one of the issues Trump pledged to deliver on. Up next, the promises kept and broken by the president in his first 100 days.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration.


[10:30:01] WHITFIELD: All right, it's day 100 of Donald Trump's presidency, the day he promised that we would see record breaking results.


TRUMP: On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our country.

Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration. Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days.

There are those that say I've done more than anybody in 100 days.

I don't think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone has done nearly what we've been able to do.


WHITFIELD: So let's take a look at some of the promises. Trump pledged to uphold the U.S. out of the Transpacific Partnership. He followed through on that. Appointment for vacant spot on the U.S. Supreme Court, put a check on that one. But a border wall and tax reform, both incomplete. Repeal and replace Obamacare, a travel ban, labeling China a currency manipulator, well, he reversed course or failed on all of those.

I want to bring in now my panel, Shermichael Singleton, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Kayleigh McEnany, CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist A. Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party, and Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources." All right, good to see all of you. Shermichael, you first, one big promise that we haven't seen much fruition on, the construction of the border wall with Mexico. The president, however, still insists that it will happen. Listen.


TRUMP: The wall getting designed right now. A lot of people say oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall. I wasn't kidding. I don't kid. We will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.


WHITFIELD: But he also promised that Mexico would pay for it. You saw what happened in trying to talk about the budget and keeping government going, would that be a concession, would U.S. Congress agree to pay for it. So what is it? Does this demonstrate all talk and no action?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, look, when a person is running for office, and I've worked for three presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ben Carson, you say a lot of things. But once you are actually in the White House, once you're sitting in the Oval Office, reality sets in.

WHITFIELD: You're saying there's a learning curve.

SINGLETON: There's clearly a learning curve. There's a lot of presidents going all the way back to JFK Bay of Pigs, his first 100 days, you look at Bill Clinton's first 100 days, you look at President Obama's first 100 days, George W. Bush's first 100 days, it's tumultuous for most. And I think it does take time to learn. And I think that's what we're going to see out of the president.

WHITFIELD: Do we mean part of the problem was he is the one who promised a number of these things would be done in the first 100 days and in fact he even started with day one repealing and replacing Obamacare. KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, he's delivered on

everything within his power to deliver on. The problem he faces is a divided Republican Party. What people oftentimes forget about Trump is he ran against his own party. He ran against the establishment, the Democratic and the Republican establishment. And what that means is it's going to be much harder to make deals. You have a recalcitrant Freedom Caucus. And you also have moderate you ran against in the campaign.

WHITFIELD: But how long can he blame everybody else? This was Donald Trump on his promises for health care. Listen.


TRUMP: It's going to gone. It's going to be terminated. Obamacare is a disaster. We're going to kill it. Let it die. Let it die.

Repeal and replace Obamacare. We're going to repeal it. We're going to replace it. We're going to get something done.



WHITFIELD: Kayleigh, you were talking about the failures of support from Freedom Caucus. But how long can the president really blame everybody else? Part of the criticism was he didn't know detail himself. He didn't sell it. He said he was going to negotiate. But how can you negotiate and get people on board if you don't know the details, the nuts and bolts yourself? Is that a listen he has to learn and may now deliver on.

MCENANY: I think all of this will go away kind of how long it took as long as we end up getting a solution in time. And if it takes a year or two years, fine. What needs to be delivered is something that's right for the American people, right for the people who gained coverage under Obamacare but also right in terms of those facing really high premiums. If it takes two years, if it takes three years, that's fine, as long as it's done in the first term of his presidency.

WHITFIELD: His supporters support that.

MCENANY: Yes. I think so. We want a right solution and not a quick solution.

WHITFIELD: So Scott, third pledge, we heard on the campaign and we're talking about the travel ban. We know about its defeats. But listen to Donald Trump on that travel ban.


TRUMP: I issued an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from places where it cannot safely occur. A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel. This ruling makes us look weak, which, by the way, we no longer are, believe me.

[10:35:08] We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists. Right now we are at risk because of what happened.


WHITFIELD: All right, so Scott, his immigration, travel bans, whichever you want to call it, all being challenged in court. You're an attorney. How does this look for the president, particularly when he remains critical of the judges involved?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Judges in the future he may be appointing. Listen, I always wonder where is the beef on this? The travel ban is unconstitutional. It's been blocked twice. There is no empirical data to support barring travel from these six or seven countries because the courts struggle with, well, show me the evidence in this country where radicals in from these countries have done something wrong or threaten to do something wrong. It's just not there.

And so it's not just being challenged, if you will. It's been struck down. It's been barred. Now, the proceedings continue, but look for the judges, whether they're Obama judges or whether they're Republican judges, look for them to institute the law, and the law is just not going to let these executive orders go forward like that. It's not going to happen. He's never going to get that ban.

WHITFIELD: And these failures and even some of that criticism really has eroded the president's credibility, and part of his credibility issue, people said we don't believe him. But then he has revealed himself in this Reuter's interview as being very honest perhaps with his feelings, Brian. How does that kind of change the game or the outlook and landscape of his 100 days?

BRAIN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I found it very revealing and I kind of appreciated the honesty in this Reuter's interview, some of his other interviews as well, talking about the difficulties of the job. All presidents say something like it. But as with many things related to President Trump, he says it in a more blunt, honest way. When he was speaking in that interview, I think many people can relate to that.

What we've seen so far, a lot of psychological victories, meaning things that make his supporters feel like there's progress. Executive orders are great examples. Some of these executive order that don't actually cause immediate changes in the government but feel like there's progress happening, feel like we're moving in the right direction.

WHITFIELD: Sometimes they just make promises that somewhere in the distance there will be --

STELTER: We're in a city of monuments. Monuments are projections of power. President Trump has been projecting power, kind of like being on an elliptical bike peddling, peddling, peddling. It can feel good. You can get a workout, but you're not actually getting anywhere. It's not the same as riding a bike. That's a lot of what the first 100 days has been about. And for a salesman in chief, he is a very effective salesman. We've

seen a lot of successful attempts to boost confidence. We've seen confidence numbers up in the economy. So some of these things even though he is not there yet, he is making supporters feel like they're moving in the right direction.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. Before he was president, before he was a candidate, he was fairly regular on Howard Stern's show talking openly about his thoughts and feelings, and just days now into the presidency Howard Stern had his own thoughts about this president.

STELTER: This is fascinating.

WHITFIELD: Perhaps biting off too much, et cetera. This is Howard stern.


HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I really was sincere. I said, why would you want to be president of the United States? You're not going to be beloved. It's going to be a -- nightmare in your life. He stepped into a situation that's really not a win for him. And it's going to be angina. 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 the accoutrements of a great life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got all this stuff --

STERN: So now to step into this -- mess, and for what? You know, there are people who are better suited for this kind of thing, and they don't need -- he didn't need this in his life.


WHITFIELD: Pretty remarkable. So he's really talking in terms in large part to the adoration that President Trump enjoys and really needs, and that's probably why we also see these rallies take place and it sounds like he's campaigning. But how profound were those words to you?

STELTER: If you listen to the Reuters interview, President Trump is saying a lot of what Howard Stern said, that I thought the job would be easier. My last job was really hard. I thought this would be easier. It's been harder than I expected. Our colleague Maeve Reston had a source in a story yesterday saying Trump wanted to win but he didn't want to be president. We've had other folks say that, mostly privately, mostly anonymously, people around the president saying he wanted that -- he wanted that popular vote win, but not necessarily Electoral College win. Folks don't think that's true, but it explains a lot about what the president was saying to Reuters.

WHITFIELD: Kayleigh, you've been supporting him for a very long time on the campaign trail and even now. When you hear that kind of assessment from Howard Stern, we even hear the admission, so to speak, from the president saying this is harder than I thought. What do you think? Do you think he didn't really want that job or work that comes with the job, or he just wanted title and the popularity?

[14:40:05] MCENANY: I think he wanted the job because he knew that he was the person that could fix it. That's how he saw it. Those comments kind of dovetail onto what President Trump said initially, which was that, look, I didn't want to run for office unless the circumstances forced me to. He said that years beforehand.

STELTER: That's true. He said that in the 1980s.

MCENANY: He said it in the 1980s. And he feels the circumstances were such that he needed to run and he could make a difference for the American people.

WHITFIELD: Scott, real quick.

BOLDEN: Listen, it's about adulation. The mind of Donald Trump I think is the mind of a super narcissist. He may not be happy doing it. That's why he's on the road with his supporters doing these rallies because he wants to be loved. And that's the psychology of Donald Trump.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shermichael?

SINGLETON: Really quickly, you never know why a person runs for anything. He's president now. I think regardless of what your political perspective is, we have to do what we can to help the guy be successful. We all benefit.

STELTER: Maybe in the second 100 days he'll hold a rally not in a red state and an area where he's not surrounded by supporters. I don't know, to me that's something I would like to see in the second 100 days.

WHITFIELD: We'll see what happens. Thanks so much, everyone. Appreciate it.

All right, 100 days today in office. Crowds also are descending on the nation's capital here, not in support but in protest largely. At issue, the White House's stance on climate change. That is next.



[10:45:31] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going great. A lot better than what we could have had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't trust Obama. Bush did OK. I didn't trust Clinton. I certainly didn't trust Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you trust Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. I think he's a straight up type of individual.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in the nation's capital. Some high praise for the Trump presidency from members of the National Rifle Association. That's a stark contrast from environmentalists around the nation who right now are descending on Washington for what has been dubbed the people's climate march. CNN's Brian Todd joining me now from the starting point of the march. Pretty big turnout, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Fredricka. You can really feel the energy building at the foot of the U.S. capitol, tens of thousands of people expected down here today. Our photojournalist and I are going to show you some of the sights and sounds. Look at all the colorful slogans and signs and people gathering here getting ready to march toward the White House. Gathering here, and then we're going to turn you in the direction that they're going to march come this way.

It's going to be logistical challenge. The heat is factor. It is going to get up to 93 degrees out here. Marchers are going to come this way, march a few blocks to the White House, try to surround the White House, and then they're going to do a collective heart pounding to signify the heartbeat of the environmental movement and call attention to Trump's initiatives that they feel puts them under assault environmentally. We're going to bring you some of the sights and sounds all day. But here is where it's all starting, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Very good, we'll check back with you. Brian Todd, thank you so much on the National Mall. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like him to continue. I hope that he doesn't get stymied by some of the legislators that are scared to enact his agenda. We need him to follow his agenda, do what he promised, and that's exactly what he's trying to deliver. So it's fantastic.


WHITFIELD: All right, some high praise for the president in Atlanta yesterday outside the NRA annual meeting. We'll have much more on the president's hits and misses during his first 100 days all day long right here on CNN.

So over these 100 days there has also been quite a bit of internal power struggling within the White House. Some aides who helped get President Trump to the Oval Office found themselves fading into the background while his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka gained influence. CNN's Brianna Keilar has a look at the power players inside the White House.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's one of the president's closest advisers, his eldest daughter, Ivanka. But when Donald Trump won the White House, Ivanka's plan was to keep her distance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People think you're going to be part of the administration, Ivanka.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: No. I'm going to be a daughter.

KEILAR: And a mother settling her three children in Washington D.C.

IVANKA TRUMP: Every week I take my children to a different museum or cultural institution.

KEILAR: Now Ivanka has a seat at the table, an office in the West Wing and her own chief of staff.

IVANKA TRUMP: I realize that having one foot in and one foot out wouldn't work, and the reality is it all happened very organically for me.

KEILAR: Organically maybe, unusual, most definitely. Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner are the ultimate Washington, D.C. power couple. In a building where proximity to the Oval Office telegraphs importance, Kushner's digs are prime real estate, sharing a wall with the presidential office suite. Kushner heads up the White House Office of American Innovation.

TRUMP: So Jared, maybe I'll let you take over.

KEILAR: Moderating a meeting with CEOs in February.

TRUMP: I want to thank Jared Kushner who has been so involved in this.

KEILAR: And taking a key role in U.S. foreign policy with Mexico, China, and Iraq where he recently visited.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's a lot of relationships that Jared has made over time with different leaders.

KEILAR: Trump envisions Kushner to broker peace in the Middle East, a controversial proposal but one with buy-in from Israel's Prime Minister.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Can I reveal, Jared, how long we've known you?

KEILAR: Kushner is ascendant in the White House, but it wasn't publicly anticipated. Asked in November what Kushner's role would be in his administration, the president-elect said, "Oh, maybe nothing because I don't want to have people saying conflict."

Next door to Kushner, Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist, close quarters despite a feud that recently prompted the president to tell the two aides to, quote, "straighten out or I will." Bannon the loser in that fight, Trump referring to him as, quote, "a guy who works for me" to the "Wall Street Journal," a reversal of fortunes for the Trump campaign CEO and former "Breitbart" chief.

STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We never had a doubt and Donald Trump never had a doubt that he was going to win.

KEILAR: Labeled by "TIME" magazine as "The Great Manipulator," Bannon secured a seat on the National Security Council, an odd place for a political strategist, only to be bumped when National Security Adviser general H.R. McMaster flexed his muscle. Bannon is the top aide who appears to get along with few others.

[10:55:06] REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the biggest misconception is everything that you're reading.

KEILAR: Including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, whose larger office is farther from the Oval from Bannon's.

Upstairs from the president, Kellyanne Conway, mocked as Donald Trump's cleanup artist.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This tweet is actually taken out of context. Of course Mr. Trump thinks that Mexicans can read. And actually, what he wants them to read the most is Hillary Clinton's 33,000 missing e-mails.

KEILAR: Recently she's been sweeping up her own messes, like this one after the president alleged the Obama administration tapped his phones at Trump tower.

CONWAY: You can surveil them through phones, through their, certainly, through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. I'm not inspector gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign.

KEILAR: In the White House she's described as an island onto herself, though still in Trump's good graces if not always on the same page as her boss. Conway vouched for then national security adviser Michael Flynn in mid-February.

CONWAY: Yes, General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.

KEILAR: Trump fired Flynn that very day.


WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much Brianna Keilar. We have so much more straight ahead live from Washington D.C. Stay with us.