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Scaramucci to Contact FBI about Leak; Trump to Revive Military Ban on Transgenders; Trump Tweets Attack Sessions and McCabe; South Koreans Mark Armistice to End War; Trump White House; France's President Losing Popularity; The Mooch Seems to Mirror His Boss. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 27, 2017 - 02:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Isa Soares.

First, a mysterious late night tweet from the incoming White House communications director has been raising questions about the future of President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

VAUSE: It all started with this tweet coming from Anthony Scaramucci.

"In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45.

SOARES: In another tweet, CNN's contributor Ryan Lizza explained, "In case there's any ambiguity in this tweet, I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking."

VAUSE: But then Scaramucci deleted the original tweet and followed it up with this, "Wrong. Tweet was popping nose (ph) to leakers that all senior administration officials are helping to end illegal leaks @Reince45."

OK. Joining us now for more, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and CNN political commentator and Republican consultant, John Thomas.

OK, John, I want to start off with you.

What's going on in the White House right now?



VAUSE: It's like 2:00 in the morning in the White House.

I mean, what's happening?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, the idea that he was just putting Reince on along with the other senior staff doesn't make any sense.

I mean, this clearly was a shot across the bow. It was likely authorized by President Trump directly himself. The coms director wouldn't do something this bold without getting signoff.

And it's not surprising because we've heard around the rumor mill that Reince was next on the chopping block.


THOMAS: All I can figure is Reince saw it, called up the president --


THOMAS: -- you tell him to delete this.


VAUSE: -- speculation but that makes sense.

SOARES: We've heard throughout the last couple of days and weeks, in fact, so much talk of loyalty and leaks and more leaks.

I mean what's the point of him tweeting if he's going to retract it?

What does this get to the heart of?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We're certainly getting whiplash but I would agree with John that he got the approval from the president. He was at dinner with the president. It is very unlikely that he did this of his own accord.

I think it's probably also very likely that the president, who doesn't like to do his own firing, asked him to do it. So he went out on a limb and then got a bad response from Reince Priebus and then ended up retracting it.

But he's smart because the president left the covfefe for an entire day, however you pronounce it.


VAUSE: The president doesn't delete tweets.

HELDMAN: Well, and so Scaramucci is a little better on that front in the sense that I think it's a better idea to delete it.


THOMAS: -- Scaramucci's main task, not just getting messages (INAUDIBLE) right but it's extinguishing the leakers and if Scaramucci believes that Reince is one of those leakers, it makes sense.


VAUSE: Do you think that Priebus should make a statement today to address this at any point?

Or is he packing his bags to be the ambassador of Greece?


THOMAS: I would imagine, especially in such a public way, that Reince will let his voice be heard. My guess is it's probably not through a tweet but it's going to be through a news article or something. But he's not going to let it stand if in fact he did no wrongdoing.

VAUSE: All of this coming on the same day that the U.S. president essentially rewrote policy when it comes to transgender Americans who are serving the military --


SOARES: Via Twitter.

VAUSE: -- yes, three early morning tweets from the president, essentially banning transgender people from serving in the military. We're going to ask John and Caroline to stay with us but we'll get our report now from Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making military policy via Twitter, today suddenly announcing "The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military"; sparking instant criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I believe that is an awful decision. I served on active duty in the military. And I can tell you we don't care about gender orientation or identity or who you love.

STARR: Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also saying "There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military regardless of their gender identity."

But some lawmakers agree with the decision, citing Trump's reasoning that the military cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.

REP. VICKY HARTZLER (R), MISSOURI: We need to spend every defense dollar where we need to. And this has been a real concern.

STARR (voice-over): A 2016 --

[02:05:00] STARR (voice-over): -- RAM study concluded gender transition health care coverage for transgender military members would increase the Defense Department's health care costs by as much as $8.4 million, a tiny fraction of the Pentagon's overall $49.3 billion health care expenditures.

SARAH MCBRIDE, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST: This isn't just about health care. This according to Donald Trump's tweets is about not allowing transgender people to serve at all.

STARR: That same RAM study put the number of transgender service members at between 1,300 and 6,600.

Two unanswered questions: under President Trump's ban will those already serving be forced out?

And what about Defense Secretary James Mattis, who just last month ordered a six-month delay so DOD could study the issue further?

The Pentagon will not say if Mattis agreed with the sudden Trump announcement.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The decision is based on a military decision. It's not meant to be anything more than that.

STARR: Congress may not be done weighing in on this entire issue. Just recently the House defeated a measure that would have banned the Pentagon from paying health care costs for transgendered persons -- Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.


VAUSE: OK, back now to John and Caroline.

It may seem this decision to ban transgender people from military service came from nowhere. But there is a backstory here. According to "The Washington Post," this all started over a disagreement over the military paying for gender transition therapies. This is some of the reporting.

"Conservative lawmakers, many of them members of the House Freedom Caucus, had threatened to withhold support for a spending bill if Congress did not act to prohibit the Pentagon from paying for the procedures.

"The impasse broadly threatened government spending but, most importantly for Trump, it potentially held up money that had been appropriated for the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a key promise he had made during the campaign."

So Caroline, it seems thousands of transgender Americans who have been actually serving on duty and have been serving their country may have been thrown under the bus for the wall?

HELDMAN: It appears that, yes, Trump has thrown them under the bus in order to build a wall and pass this budget. It is frightening to think it could be a knee-jerk, spur-of-the-moment decision. It does appear to be that, especially considering that Trump hasn't given direction to the heads of the various military agencies.

It took them by surprise. It took people in the Senate by surprise. So this does appear to be -- well, fine, as somebody put it, Republicans asked him to light a candle at the table and he came in and he burned the House down.

VAUSE: Because they didn't want a total ban. They just want the surgeries to be banned.

SOARES: How else can this be interpreted, John?

THOMAS: It's political. I don't see any other way to look at it. I think there's two political sides of it. One is Trump needs his military spending package approved. That was a key promise beyond just the wall. He needs that to be done.

I think the other is, if he's getting any advice from military experts and generals or whatnot to say that they don't want transgender people in the military, that's their prerogative.

The military discriminates all the time; if you have flat feet, you can't join the --


VAUSE: It's not that you can't run. Transgender people can run. I mean there's nothing about transgender that physically prevents you from actually carrying out your duties.

HELDMAN: It's just bigotry.

THOMAS: Well, I'm not an expert on transgender. At what point when you're transitioning, are you able to --


VAUSE: Well, all these arguments were made when women were banned from certain roles in the military and that was all debunked and that was --

HELDMAN: Or African Americans.

VAUSE: -- it goes way back. So at the end of the day, a bunion on a foot is --

THOMAS: And we're also arguing, you know, RAND has it almost, a little over 2,000 people in our entire military that we're talking about here.

HELDMAN: Two thousand people, though, that's 2,000 individual --


THOMAS: -- percent of all military.

SOARES: Let's just remind people what candidate Trump had said initially about this and made this promise.

"Thank you to the LGBT community. I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs."

Well, we've already had response; Caitlyn Jenner responded with this tweet, "There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the U.S. military, fighting for all of us.

"What happened to your promise to fight for them?"

How much is this just about politics, just about trying to distract from the Russian investigation and really just trying to appeal to his base?

HELDMAN: I think it's about passing his military budget, it's about fulfilling his campaign promise for the wall. So he is sacrificing all of the pledges that he made to be the most forward thinking Republican president we've ever had on LGBT issues.

That is clearly not the case. And in terms of it just being 2,000 people or 15,000 people, these are individuals. Every human being, every person in the United States deserves to be a military hero if they want to do that.

We know that he didn't consult with military folks because it took them by surprise.


HELDMAN: We know the RAND report that came out two years ago found that transgender individuals, their inclusion in the military doesn't affect unit readiness, it doesn't affect the cohesion of the unit.

And we're talking about something, the health care costs that are one- fifth of what the military spends on Viagra. So it's not about funding. At the end of the day, this is politics and it's bigotry.

VAUSE: OK. It does ask -- Caitlyn Jenner did ask that question.

What happened essentially?

As a candidate, Donald Trump was asked specifically about the rights of transgender Americans. This during the controversy over the North Carolina bathroom bill, when transgender people were not allowed to go to the bathroom that they identified with; they had to go to one that matched their birth certificate.

Donald Trump was asked specifically about that.


TRUMP: North Carolina, what they're going through with all of the business that's leaving and all of the strife and it's on both sides. You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.

There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic -- I mean the economic punishment that they're taking. So I would say --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- transgender people working in your organization?

TRUMP: I don't know. I really don't know. I probably do. I really don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?

TRUMP: That is correct.


VAUSE: But John, since taking office, the Trump administration has rolled back protection for transgender kids attending public schools. The White House did not recognize LGBTQ Pride Month in June. And now you have this ban on transgender people serving in the military. This administration is not friendly to the LGBTQ community.

THOMAS: Certainly not as friendly as the last eight years, no question about it. But Trump has to focus on his big campaign promises. That's strengthening our military, it's rebuilding our economy --

VAUSE: So some promises are negotiable.


THOMAS: That's what you have to do.

SOARES: Well, Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter and White House advisor, has always been seen as somewhat progressive.

And she tweeted this a few weeks ago, "I'm proud to support my LGBT friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy."

Since that tweet and given that she's tweeted that, she's facing somewhat of a backlash, given what her father announced today on Twitter. And I'll just give you some examples, a taste of what we've been seeing.

"Words without actions mean nothing."

And another, "You openly supported and campaigned for the most anti- LGBTQ class presidential ticket in recent times. Your words mean nothing to us."

I mean, what does this mean for President Trump?


THOMAS: What's fascinating about this move today is it's shifted on the same week that the Democrats are trying to finally articulate an economic message. It's moved them right back to identity politics. And they're -- the further left of their base is going to be crying about this and perhaps, in their views, rightfully so.

And they're not going to be talking about the economy. So it's interesting because Trump -- Hillary Clinton didn't win the election -- or didn't lose the election because she wasn't inclusive enough. She lost the election because she couldn't articulate an economic message.

HELDMAN: It wasn't economic anxiety. That's a myth, right? We actually know that Trump voters were driven by a number of things, ethnocentrism, higher rates of racial resentment.

But there have been two studies finding that economic anxiety, if you had higher economic anxiety, you were more likely to vote for Clinton. So it was driven on exactly what Trump is now exploiting, which is the wall, which is the ethnocentrism and the racism, the fear --

THOMAS: And nothing to do with all the jobs that had left places like Michigan and --


HELDMAN: Working class people with economic concerns, especially in swing states, voted for Hillary Clinton. I'm not saying that that's not a real concern but that is not what put Trump in the White House. What put Trump in the White House was higher levels of racial resentment, higher levels of ethnocentrism --

THOMAS: That's incorrect. That's incorrect. Hillary Clinton did not visit any of these key swing states in the home stretch. Donald Trump did.

HELDMAN: That is a different subject.


HELDMAN: The subject we are on is economic anxiety and Trump voters and that is a myth.

VAUSE: But it is clear that Donald Trump made a lot of promises to a lot of people which he hasn't kept. And that's the bottom line.

THOMAS: Absolutely, yes.

VAUSE: OK. So let's move on (INAUDIBLE) attorney general Sessions because Donald Trump has spent yet another day tormenting his attorney general, lashing out at him on Twitter, and also including the acting FBI director. So put this out on Wednesday.

"Why didn't attorney general Sessions replace acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, a crony friend (ph) who was in charge of the Clinton investigation but got big dollars, $700,000, for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. (INAUDIBLE) the swamp!"

That's just so factually incorrect and wrong. We're just going to say it's wrong.

But, John, congressional Republicans have had this almost --


VAUSE: -- limitless capacity to put up with Donald Trump for behaving badly and lashing out at Sessions as one of those examples. It does seem that at least some of them and a growing number of them are now running around Sessions saying, enough, because Sessions is their guy and he's their guy on a lot of conservative issues long before Trump was their guy.


THOMAS: I think that you hit it on the head. Sessions has name recognition within the base. And so it's a delicate thing in places not just like Alabama, where he's a senator, he's immensely popular and so it's a delicate thing.

The trouble members of the House are having and the reason they're not breaking with the president except on this issue is because the president is still as popular with his base and his base is going to help them survive in the midterms. But you're right. You're going to continue to see them rally around Sessions because he's a very popular figure within the party.

SOARES: And meanwhile the line from the White House seems to be moderating somewhat when it comes to the relationship between the President of the United States and general Sessions. Just take a listen.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Everybody's got personality differences and everybody has different style aspects of their personality. One of the things I like about the president that some people in Washington perhaps don't like about the president is the up-frontness (sic).


SOARES: How much -- what do you make of that, first of all?

VAUSE: Really, its just a personality difference.

(CROSSTALK) HELDMAN: Well, no, we have the President of the United States cyber bullying the attorney general. We've not been in this territory before. It is really clear that he wants him to resign. My guess would be that he wants him to resign because the person who follows up in that position, the next attorney general, could both slow or stop the Mueller investigation.

My guess is this all goes back to Russia but at the end of the day, regardless of what's motivating it, it's inappropriate. I think it's a hostile work environment to have the president tweeting, cyber bullying you online.

SOARES: It's hostile and they haven't spoken for some time.

Is that correct?

THOMAS: This is just politics. Sessions has seen this a lot worse than a few tweets. If you want to talk about hostile workplaces, what Republicans and Democrats do to each other, what Congressman Ted Lieu does on a daily basis to the President of the United States --




HELDMAN: It's not his boss. It's not a boss doing it to a subordinate. And that's my concern. And I am not a fan of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions in any way -- III -- in any way, shape or form but I feel for him. This is not --


VAUSE: Jeff Sessions (INAUDIBLE) -- Jeff Sessions, Sean Spicer --


VAUSE: -- group of people here, everyone's feeling sorry for them.


HELDMAN: They need a hug.



VAUSE: There's also talk that the president is thinking of firing Sessions or hoping Sessions will leave, saying you can have a recess appointment.

That happens, Caroline?

What's the political fallout? HELDMAN: I don't think that will happen for a number of reasons. One is what John brought up earlier. He's really popular in the party and being in the Senate for 20 years does buy you some friendship and political capital.

From what we understand from leaks coming out of the Senate, they're not going to allow the session to go on for 10 days, which is what the president would need in order to do to appoint someone without senatorial approval.

So what they're probably going to do is make sure that there's not a 10-day period and then they're going to stall whatever process comes next for appointing the next attorney general.

SOARES: Talking about Sessions, if something that came to my mind yesterday when we were watching a report from CNN, many of his fans, President Trump's fans, want Sessions to remain. He appeals to the core base.

How much do you think that has an influence on President Trump?

Or do you think he doesn't care?

He doesn't pay attention to this?

He's made his mind up and he will slowly continue pushing him against the wall?

THOMAS: I think the president views himself as this larger than life character that has the base, likes him and everyone's replaceable below him. So I don't think he gives that too much thought.

But the reason the base likes Sessions is because Sessions agrees and has, even prior to Trump, on their priorities of shutting down illegal immigration. He's been vocal on those and that's why he endorsed Trump so early.

VAUSE: You remember that promise from the president, what, (INAUDIBLE) he was going to be really presidential, that he could be the most --

THOMAS: He could be.

VAUSE: -- the most -- he had the second best presidential since the late, great Abraham Lincoln. OK, well, take two on all of that for the president at the White House because, remember, he was very much criticized for a speech he delivered to the Boy Scouts, saying it was very politicized.

Well, he had a second bite of the cherry on Wednesday with the boys and girls from the American Legion.


TRUMP: Just think of the amazing moments in history you will witness during your lifetime. Well, you saw one on November 8th, right?


TRUMP: That was a pretty amazing -- that was a pretty amazing moment that we have. And we're doing a good job. Our country is doing so well now. We're doing a good job. We're building up military. We're getting great job numbers. Best in 17 years. Best job numbers in 17 years.


VAUSE: Caroline.

HELDMAN: Well, my response would be those job numbers are part of a long-term trend that we've seen since 2008, that started under the Obama administration. But in terms of replying to the crowd, I mean this man has a 36 percent approval rating, the lowest of any president at this point in history. So he's found his audience.

SOARES: And no legislative measures to show.

VAUSE: But, John, in front of a group of kids?


THOMAS: I think he would tell a group of kids about how rich he is.

What's the difference?


SOARES: He's definitely unconventional.


VAUSE: Never mind. OK.


SOARES: Thank you very much.

HELDMAN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thanks, guys.

Well, still to come here on NEWSROOM L.A., marking 64 years since the end of the Korean War but there are signs that Pyongyang may want to celebrate with another missile test.

SOARES: Plus tragedy strikes at the Ohio State Fair. One person was killed after a ride malfunction. We'll bring you that story -- next.



SOARES: The Ohio State Fair says it will inspect all its rides and they will remain closed until they're deemed safe. This after one person was killed when the Fire Ball ride malfunctioned on Wednesday. Seven people were also injured in the accident. Three are in critical condition.

VAUSE: One witness says part of the ride broke away and riders were thrown clear. At least two landing on concrete. Officials say there were no red flags when the ride was last inspected.

SOARES: Turning now to the Korean Peninsula, where both sides of the falieous parallel (ph) marking the armistice that halted the Korean War 64 years ago. North Koreans celebrate the occasion as Victory Day and put on a large display of military might.

VAUSE: And a short time ago South Korea said its offer for military talks will remain in effect even if the North does not respond by the end of Thursday. Even so, there's now growing concern Pyongyang --


VAUSE: -- is preparing for another missile test.

SOARES: Our Will Ripley joins us now from near the demilitarized zone.

And, Will, often North Korea uses these celebrations to really showcase its military muscle from the intelligence, even U.S. or in South Korea, is there anything to suggest the need for preparing for just that?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't seen anything to indicate for example a military parade like there was back in 2013 and 2014. And while the State Department has been saying for quite some time, through unofficial channels, sources of CNN, that heavy equipment has been rolling into a launch site in Kusan (ph), North Korea, that could be used to launch a ballistic missile at any time, that has not happened today, possibly because there are reports of rain in that area which would impede any launch attempts, although the United States and South Korea militaries continue to point out that really North Korea has had such a frantic pace of weapons testing that they can conduct a test at any point.

And so it's a very tense time here. We are very near the demilitarized zone along the 38th Parallel that separates North and South Korea. This has the potential to erupt into a dangerous flashpoint really at any moment.

Where I'm standing here, we're along an area. This is the Freedom Bridge behind me. This used to be a point of transport between North and South Korea. It's been sealed off for many years and now this whole area is heavily fortified with barbed wire fencing.

We've seen a number of military patrols, even in this area, where civilians are allowed, there's a lot of surveillance happening, a lot of soldiers on both sides, with a lot of weapons pointed at each other.

So this really just goes to underscore the dangerous situation right now. But so far it's been relatively quiet on the north side -- Isa.

SOARES: And against the backdrop you're showing us, we've heard from the U.S. intelligence community that believes the North Korea's ICBMs may be ready as early as 2018. That's two years from previous estimates.

How worrying is this, Will, for South Korea, who, until recently, had calls for dialogue, telling North Korea, let's talk.

RIPLEY: It certainly is concerning and in fact we've confirmed just within the past couple of hours with South Korean officials that they have extended their offer. The deadline was supposed to be today for peace talks between the North and the South.

But South Korea is now extending that offer for peace talks indefinitely and yet so far North Korea has not responded.

They have, however, responded very fiercely to that rhetoric from the American CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who talked last week about the United States' desire for regime change, surprising a lot of people, because the official line both here in South Korea and also the United States with Secretary Tillerson speaking about earlier this year, was they're not trying to force Kim Jong-un from power because that kind of threat is precisely why North Korea continues to develop these weapons and why analyst believe they're now less than a year away from having an intercontinental ballistic missile that is reliable, that could carry a warhead, a nuclear warhead, to the mainland United States.

SOARES: I want to play that sound for our viewers you're talking there about the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, just to give a bit of clarity. Let's take a listen.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that. But the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today.

So from the administration's perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two, right, separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart.


SOARES: Mike Pompeo there, hinting at regime change there.

What has been the reaction, Will, from South Korea?

Because, until now, they've been wanting to talk. They've been wanting diplomacy before anything else.

How have they reacted to the CIA director's comments there?

RIPLEY: Openly, there hasn't been any official consternation but any reprimand but back channel sources here are telling us they're very surprised by this. Just earlier this month, South Korea's new president Moon Jae-in, made a point to specifically say he wants peace talks with North Korea.

I just want to show you this is, one of the military patrols we've seen here. This is a helicopter that flies up and down the 38th Parallel, collecting intelligence from the North side. It goes to show you that this is a heavily militarized zone, both North Korean and South Korean side.

But the South Korean president says they want peace talks. They haven't gotten a response yet from the North. And certainly from the perspective in this country, that kind of talk from the United States does not help to defuse an already very tense situation.

SOARES: Will Ripley there, near the DMZ, thanks very much, Will.

Now this just in to our NEWSROOM. Police in Beverly Hills say Justin Bieber struck a paparazzo with his truck while trying to drive away from an event tonight.


VAUSE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) 57-year-old man was taken to hospital with minor injuries and they say no other celebrities were involved in the incident. Bieber stayed on the scene during the investigation and was not given a ticket.

SOARES (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) There's more developments, of course, we shall bring them to you.

VAUSE: A big night out for Justin.


Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., we'll have more on President Trump's announcement to ban transgender Americans from military service and what it means for the thousands of people who will soon possibly be out of a job.




VAUSE (voice-over): Welcome backing to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. It's around 11:34 on a Wednesday night. I'm John Vause.

SOARES (voice-over): And I'm Isa Soares. Let me bring you up to date with the headlines this hour.




VAUSE: That's the U.S. Army band performing a few years ago. In fact, the Pentagon has more than 130 military bands with more than 6,000 musicians.

All that tradition, pomp and circumstance costs U.S. taxpayers more than $400 million every year, a bargain, according to the military, because of the peace and goodwill the bands spread around the world.

But when it comes to thousands of transgender personnel in the U.S. military, President Donald Trump has cited the high cost of their medical treatment, between $2 million and $8 million a year, according to one study, as one of the main reasons to reverse a year-old Obama- era policy which allowed transgender people to openly serve.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've already been serving for over a year. We've caused no disruption.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Openly since the ban was lifted? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Openly since June of 2016. We've caused no disruptions, there's been no readiness issues. We continue to deploy. We are company commanders, special operators, drill sergeants, who are continuing to do the mission. And there is nothing that has held us back with regard to moving forward on the policy.


VAUSE: The early morning Twitter announcement by President Trump, effectively banning transgender Americans from military service, seemed to be a surprise to the Pentagon, to the White House and, of course, the LGBTQ community.

Zeke Stokes is a vice president with the advocacy group, GLAAD. He joins us from New York.

Zeke, thanks for coming in. It seems like the argument, the high cost of medical care, that was debunked about five minutes after the president's first tweet. This seems to have a lot more to do with the president looking for a political win at the expense of transgender soldiers.

ZEKE STOKES, GLAAD: Well, his tweets were just filled with factual inaccuracies. The fact is that it appears he wasn't consulting at least the service chiefs because they were completely taken by surprise and the Pentagon was as well. When it comes to the cost, the cost for treating medically transgender

service members in this country is negligible, especially when you think about what it costs to train them to do their job in the first place.

When I think about a service member named Landon Wilson, who was discharged in 2014, he was a naval cryptologist. It cost the military $500,000 to train him to do his job.

It would have only cost them $30,000 over course of his entire career to give him the medical treatment he needed in order to serve in our armed services. And they discharged him instead.

So the real cost is in attacking these service members, in compromising our military readiness and unit cohesion and in putting the lives and careers of 15,000 actively serving transgender service members on the line.

VAUSE: Many have spoken out against this decision by President Trump. One of the most notable, though, is Kristin Beck, a transgender former Navy SEAL. This is part of what she said.


KRISTIN BECK, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, we don't want anything extra. I don't want any extra money, extra rights, I don't want anything extra. I just want what any other American citizen would be offered, dignity and respect and the ability to serve my country. It's all we're asking for. I don't want anything extra.


VAUSE: They just want respect. They just want to serve their country. But there's a lot of confusion and misconception when it comes to what it actually means to be a transgender person and the president seems to be confused. You alluded to this.

He seems to be suggesting that all transgender people in the military want gender-related medical treatment. They want surgery.

That's just not the case, is it?

STOKES: Not at all. The fact is that transgender people have been serving in our military since our military began and 15,000 of the are serving right now, as we speak.

These are folks who put their lives on the line, who sign their name on the dotted line to put their lives on the line to protect U.S. citizens, to protect this country, to protect our interests around the world, to, indeed, protect President Trump and his family.

And so they deserve for their service to be honored, not erased by this president. But it is just the latest example of this administration trying to erase the LGBTQ community. It started on day one.

And despite what --


STOKES: -- president said throughout his campaign, we've been on the agenda from day one. He deleted us from the White House website. A few weeks later, he deleted us from the 2020 census. We won't be counted this time.

And this tweet this morning, trying to erase trans service members from our military, is just latest example.

VAUSE: It has not gone unnoticed that President Trump's announcement on transgender service people serving in the military came 69 years to the day that President Truman signed an executive order ending segregation in the U.S. armed forces.

And that executive order by Truman, that essentially became the model for integrating women, ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," moves which a lot of people have argued and argued successfully have actually strengthened the U.S. military.

STOKES: Absolutely. The U.S. military has been strengthened through diversity over the last few decades. And it did start with Harry Truman desegregating the services. It started with women being promoted through the services and gaining entry to the service academies.

It continued with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the path that President Obama created for transgender service members to serve openly with honor and with integrity and without fear of losing their jobs just because of who they are.

And so for this president to try to circumvent the will of the service members and military leadership that have said we're ready for this and play politics with these careers and these lives is just reprehensible.

VAUSE: The other thing which is not really clear right now, policy on Twitter doesn't actually make a lot of sense. It's not clear if this is in fact an official directive, it's official policy. How will it be implemented?

What are the legal consequences here?

This could still be facing a whole lot of legal challenges.

STOKES: Absolutely. I think we'll see a lot of challenges to this. The fact of the matter is, I hate to break it to President Trump, but we don't create policy in this country with three tweets.

It's done through compromise, through working together and through a system that has gotten us to where we are in this country a free and fair democracy. This is not how we do business.

And President Obama knew enough about how we do business to empower the military to lead us to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and it was indeed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, who went to the Hill in 2010 and told Congress that our military is ready for this.

We've led it. We've created the path to repeal and we're ready to implement it. The same thing is happening on transgender military service and this president needs to get out of the way.

VAUSE: OK. A good point to leave the interview, Zeke, but thank you so much. Great to speak with you.

STOKES: Thank you very much.

SOARES: Just ahead, we ask, is the honeymoon over for the French president?

We are live in Paris with the very latest.





VAUSE: 11:47 here in Los Angeles. Welcome back, everybody.

Just weeks ago, Emmanuel Macron was confidently striding into the Elysee Palace, elected as president of France on a wave of promise and popularity. But that was then and this is now. Recent polls show Macron's approval rate, while still pretty good, has taken a big hit.

SOARES: One poll says the number of French people satisfied with his performance has fallen to 54 percent. That is down 10 points from June. It is the biggest dip for a new French president in two decades.

VAUSE: Dominic Thomas, chair of the department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA but he is live in Paris this hour.

Dominic, Macron was very up front during the campaign. He promised some very unpopular cuts to government spending. He promised labor and pension reform, also deeply unpopular. And the French are getting everything they voted for and they don't seem to like it.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA, CALIFORNIA: Right. So you can see that when he came into power, he lost a significant foreign policy offensive, inviting Putin, Merkel, Trump and so on.

And in the last few weeks has turned his attention to domestic policy. One of the big controversies right now is that he promised these sweeping tax reforms and so on but the government wants to make it a priority to deal with the question of the debt.

So they've decided to postpone some of these tax reforms until 2018, which means that they've got to come up with money from elsewhere and they've turned their attention to individual government ministries, notably the military and so on, to try and come up with these short- term deficit. And it's triggering some controversy.

VAUSE: At the same time that he's dealing with all these domestic issues, Macron met with the singer, Rihanna, on Wednesday. After that he tweeted out about a new commitment he had to help her with her nonprofit, which funds education to kids who are not in school.

Rihanna was also gushing.

She tweeted back, "Thank you, Mr. President, Emmanuel Macron, and Madame First Lady for the incredible meeting and passion for global and girls' education."

Well, that's happening; at the same time Macron is looking to cut housing subsidies, which many French students rely on.

How are these two issues all playing out now?

THOMAS: Right. Well, meeting with Rihanna looks wonderful on the international media and I think on the international stage his reputation and visibility has been quite striking and he's doing very well there.

On a domestic front things are far more complicated. The one thing to remember, though, when we think about these popularity ratings is that his movement cum political party, majority and so on that he has in the national assembly has really hit the ground running.

And the national assembly, which traditionally is closed during the summer months, is currently open and they're working on decrees and policies and so on. Yes, the area of education and research is one of the regions or areas in which he's asked for significant cutbacks. So there's a disconnect between what he's saying in the meeting with Rihanna and the reality on the ground.

Of course, during the summer months, things are pretty quiet. People are away. But this is just an indication as to what will happen when the fall comes around and people are back and they start to scrutinize his policies even closer.

VAUSE: It looks like maybe that honeymoon did not last very long. Dominic, good to see you there in Paris. Appreciate you joining us.

SOARES: Now we have new video just in --


SOARES: -- to CNN, showing Justin Bieber striking a paparazzo with his truck while trying to drive away from an event tonight.

VAUSE: This all happened in Beverly Hills. Authorities say the 57- year-old man was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Now this apparently is the scene just shortly after. There it is.


VAUSE (voice-over): There's Bieber in his truck. The photographer goes down. We can see Bieber there, actually trying to help the man, staying on the scene.

There were some original reports that one of the Kardashians was with him during this incident. But we've since been told that he was by himself, that he was alone.

But, obviously, he stayed on the scene, he tried to help the man who was then later taken I think to Cedars-Sinai Hospital with some minor injuries, nothing serious. And we understand that Bieber was not ticketed but I believe there is an investigation which will continue into this.


SOARES: Well, you have been watching NEWSROOM L.A. Still to come, there seems to be plenty of love for President Trump from the new man in the White House.



I love the president.

And I love the guy.

I love the president.




SOARES: Now the new public face at the White House has only been in the job for a few days but he appears to be studying his boss very closely.

VAUSE: Very closely. In fact, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, also known as the Mooch, has seemed so enamored by Donald Trump he's mooching his lines. Jeanne Moos has more.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anthony Scaramucci won't have to scrounge for a nickname.




MOOS (voice-over): Stephen Colbert said it 13 times...

COLBERT: The Mooch.

The Mooch.

MOOS (voice-over): -- in a nine-minute segment about the new White House communications director.

COLBERT: The Mooch is ready to smooch.

MOOS (voice-over): Smooch the president's behind.

SCARAMUCCI: I love the president.

I love the president.

I love the guy.

I love the president.

MOOS (voice-over): Let us count the ways.

SCARAMUCCI: The way I know him and the way I love him.

MOOS: But Scaramucci isn't saving all his love for the president. He's got love left over for Sean Spicer...

SCARAMUCCI: And I love the guy.

MOOS (voice-over): -- for other White House staffers...

SCARAMUCCI: I love the hair and makeup person that we had.

MOOS (voice-over): -- tweeted one critic, "Is there anyone, anywhere or anything you do not love?"

MOOS: Next thing you know, he'll say he loves the fandango.


MOOS (voice-over): Actually, Scaramouch is a clown character in Italian theater and the fandango is a Spanish dance, not yet danced at the White House. Scaramucci may not be a Bohemian but he rhapsodizes about love.

SCARAMUCCI: I love the president.

MOOS (voice-over): He even uses the same line as the president.

SCARAMUCCI: We're going to win so much, Chris.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to win so much. SCARAMUCCI: You're actually going to get tired of winning.

TRUMP: You're going to get tired of winning.

SCARAMUCCI: We're going to win so much.

TRUMP: You are going to get so sick and tired of winning.

MOOS (voice-over): And they don't just talk the same.


MOOS (voice-over): The Mooch himself re-tweeted this bit from "The Daily Show." Even when he merely likes someone, his feelings grow as he speaks.

SCARAMUCCI: I like the team. Let me rephrase that. I love the team.

MOOS (voice-over): Anthony Scaramucci is the Barry White of the White House...


MOOS (voice-over): -- right down to blowing the press a kiss -- Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SOARES: The fact he retweeted that makes me --

VAUSE: And the fact that these two huge personalities are in the White House will make for some interesting times.

SOARES: Absolutely. You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. The news continues with Max Foster in London after a short break. You're watching CNN.