Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Tries To Reset With Staffing Shake-up; U.S. Conducts Show Of Force With Japan And South Korea; Feinstein Says We Can't Allow A Missile That Can Reach U.S.; Trump To GOP: Don't Give Up, The World Is Watching. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired July 30, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm worried about our country, obviously.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hitting the reset button with the new White House Chief of Staff starting tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look forward to working with General Kelly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president wants to go a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline. He enjoys working with generals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm always a protocol and pecking order kind of gal.
WHITFIELD: But will a reset at 1600 mean a restart with health care?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a president of the United States who wants to stop encouraging (ph) health care in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This system has failed. That's what the president is saying and that's why he is demanding that Congress act.
WHITFIELD: Then the U.S. conducts a successful missile defense test as the threat of North Korea intensifies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I make it as a clear and present danger. I'm convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has.
WHITFIELD: All ahead in CNN NEWSROOM.
All right, thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. President Trump hits the reset button hours from now. Homeland Security Secretary and retired General John Kelly takes the reins as the new White House Chief of Staff. With so much seeming turmoil and chaos in the White House, will Kelly be able to keep the president on message and help calm West Wing tensions. And speculations swirling over what Kelly's move might mean for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Plus, Russian state media says President Vladimir Putin is ordering
more than 700 U.S. diplomats to leave. We'll have more on that in a moment. But first, the reset in the White House with a new chief of staff. Let's go now to CNN's Boris Sanchez in Washington. So, talk to us about this speculation about Sessions and whether he would move to Homeland Security.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, at this point, it is purely speculation. I want to stress, this comes from a political report in which some of their sources talk to officials of the Department of Homeland Security, who threw his name out there as a possible new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
CNN has not received any indication that the president is even considering this or that Sessions would even accept the job. But because we've seen so many unprecedented move from this White House before, lawmakers are now responding to this at least entertaining it as a serious possibility. Lindsey Graham yesterday said, this would be a bad idea.
Today -- earlier today, Susan Collins was on "MEET THE PRESS" and said that she would be opposed to the idea if the move were made because Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation. But as we know, that's the main point of friction between the president and his attorney general. Kellyanne Conway reiterated that earlier today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Again, that's a personal question that only the president can answer. I will tell you that the president has expressed frustration about the recusal. So much has flowed from that recusal, and so much of the -- of President Trump's agenda flows from the Department of Justice. Many of the primary issues in the program he won successfully on go through the Department of Justice.
And look at what's happened with this ridiculous Russian collusion delusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Though the idea, Fred, of moving Jeff Sessions from the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security is a wild theory, it certainly is a possibility because Sessions has already been confirmed by the Senate. The president could move him to DHS and have him lead the Department of Homeland Security for up to 210 days as he then goes and nominates a different attorney general, perhaps one, Fred, that wouldn't have to recuse themselves from the Russian investigation.
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much from the nation's Capitol.
So, as John Kelly prepares for his new role, those close to the president say they are confident the retired general will bring a sense of discipline and order to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, BUDGET DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE: I take Reince at his word. I don't think Reince is hiding the ball on this at all. The president wanted to change directions, wanted to go a different way in the way that office was managed. I think Reince was terribly effective, but was probably a little bit more laid-back and independent in the way he ran the office. And I think the president wants to go a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there.
You know that he enjoys working with generals.
CONWAY: If we can have protocol, pecking order, order, discipline, and the chief of staff that empowers the staff to succeed, I know that General Kelly has done that on the battlefield. I know that he's done that as a chief military aide to former cabinet secretary, I know he's done that as a cabinet secretary.
And so we have great faith that that will be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's discuss all of this now with CNN political commentators, Ana Navarro and Jeffrey Lord. Good to see both of you.
So, Ana, you've -- great. And welcome back, Jeffrey. So, Ana, you first, you know, to hear Mulvaney and anything Kellyanne say that the president wants structure and wants discipline.
[00:05:05] Is that what the president is hoping to see in a John Kelly as a chief of staff or someone who knows John Kelly? But does that sound like the wishes of the president, discipline and structure?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I have no idea what Donald Trump wants, right? I'm not good at interpreting reading the leaves with him. And I would say, be careful what you wish for because you just may get it.
What I do know is that with John Kelly, he does get a leader who is into discipline, into structure, into chain of command. He's a serious guy with gravitas. He has led on the combat field. He's a man who has led troops. I knew him in Miami, got to know him and his wife who are very active in the Gold Star family movement in Miami when he was commander of South Comm. He was very respected in Latin America, which is the jurisdiction of South Comm by his colleagues and did a lot of very good bilateral work in Latin America with governments on things like drug interdictions and gang violence and all the projects that we have in common.
Now, the question is, though, how much power is John really going to have? What's he going to do with Ivanka and Jared, who are relatives? What's he going to do with Scaramucci, who says he reports directly to the president? What's he going to do with Kellyanne Conway? What's he going to do with all these people who --
NAVARRO: -- apparently have walk-in privileges? I mean, they walk into the Oval Office like people walk into a public bathroom?
WHITFIELD: Right, and a chief of staff can essentially -- right.
NAVARRO: So, why is he going to be able to get that under control?
WHITFIELD: Right, and a chief of staff, you know, can put a stop to that and say, nobody gets to the president before, you know, first interacting with me, coming through me.
So Jeffrey, do you see that John Kelly would be that kind of chief of staff who would say, no longer is there going to be this easy access that the president has to all the people that Ana just mentioned? That first, you got to go through me.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what he'll do is he'll consult with the president to see what the president wants to do, and then he'll execute it in an orderly and if I -- I guess, the obvious fashion, military fashion.
Ana knows him, I do not. But he certainly sounds like a disciplinarian, exactly the kind of person you need.
You know, one of the appalling stories that came out in the last few days that I heard when I was on Anderson Cooper show from Josh Green, who's written this book about the president and Steve Bannon. It was called Devil's Bargain. That that morning, Josh had been on "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
And, in the course of the interview, Mr. Scaramucci called in and got into a debate on air on the phone with Chris. Fine enough, the problem is that while that was going on, Josh Green was getting text from people inside the White House dissing Mr. Scaramucci. That's not a good thing. I mean, you got to have a discipline, and a White House staff has to be orderly and not be doing that kind of thing.
WHITFIELD: So Scaramucci was brought in, communications director, to help control the message and he came out, you know, guns are blazing, so to speak, in those first few days. Didn't see him at all, you know --
LORD: So to speak.
WHITFIELD: -- today -- yes, so to speak. But, you know, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, you know, has been among those very critical of Trump and said John Kelly will indeed have his hands full tomorrow, Scaramucci or not, or period.
Listen to what he had to say on ABC earlier today.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: General Kelly will have his hands full tomorrow morning when he starts work at the White House. I think he's got to protect the Justice Department and he's got to protect Bob Mueller and the investigation that's going on there from the continued assault by the president and by the White House.
It's going to be his job to provide a bulwark against interference by the White House, which in the end of the day, it's going to get them in more trouble rather than less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ana, how do you see it?
NAVARRO: I think John Podesta is right. I think John Kelly is going to have a handful when he shows up at that White House tomorrow. The disorganization, the dysfunction, the disloyalty, the amount of leaks, the people taking matters into their own hands. The protagonism that we have seen, the turnover that we have seen in this White House in the last six months is frankly very hard to keep up with.
And so the question is, will John Kelly be able to do it? Now, I'll tell you this, I know a lot of political leaders, I've known a lot of them through the years. I have never in any one case not seen a staff and a level functionality of the office that does not accurately reflect the principle. John Kelly is the chief of staff, he's not a miracle worker. This has got to start with Donald Trump.
If Donald Trump wants more discipline, he needs to give John Kelly the power, the absolute power to exert that discipline, build the structure and carry it through in the White House.
[00:10:10] If he is sabotaging John Kelly from day one by allowing Scaramucci to go off and, you know, go do his crazy stunts on TV and, you know, Kellyanne to do the other stuff and, you know, and Jared to go do -- to go be his own pirate on the ship, then there's nothing John Kelly is going to be able to do.
WHITFIELD: OK, and quickly, Jeffrey, discipline comes from the top --
NAVARRO: And I hope that if he's not able to stop the crazy, he leaves.
WHITFIELD: Right. Wouldn't discipline come from the top, Jeffrey?
LORD: Yes, yes, you're right. And one thing for perspective, I've gone back and taken a look and found stories from the Obama administration all the way back to the Reagan era in which, literally, that the story is headlined, Chaos in the White House.
WHITFIELD: All right.
LORD: And it's about a White House staff in turmoil, et cetera. Every single administration between Reagan and Obama, I found these things. WHITFIELD: OK.
LORD: So there is a little perspective here. Each president needs to get their footing and then they'll sail on.
WHITFIELD: All right, we will leave it right there. Thank you so much. Jeffrey, thanks for coming back. Ana, we'll see you again --
WHITFIELD: -- later on, too. Appreciate it. This breaking news now.
Out of Russia, state media is saying President Putin is ordering Washington cut its staff in diplomatic missions in Russia by 755 people. This in response to a sanctions bill that President Trump is expected to sign.
Let's go right to CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow. So, Matthew, how is this message being conveyed to the, what, 755 U.S. personnel, many of whom are diplomats there in Russia that they have to leave, and how soon?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an absolutely huge number. And the Russian foreign ministry says that this figure will have to be implemented by September the 1st. And so this just -- well, just over a month for that to take place.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, went on state television earlier today to announce that that was indeed the case, 755 people, personnel would be slashed across Russia's -- the U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia, the embassy in Moscow, the three consulates elsewhere in the country.
It's not clear whether they'll all be U.S. citizens. Of course, all of those diplomatic missions employ a mixture of Russian nationals and U.S. nationals. But whichever way you cut it, this is a major step by the Russians and it underlines just how angry and disappointed the Kremlin is to this U.S. sanctions bill passed so convincingly in the U.S. Congress. And so it's something they're very angry about and this is their retaliation measure for it.
WHITFIELD: Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Keep us posted.
All right, straight ahead, Vice President Mike Pence says, all options are on the table for dealing with North Korea after its latest missile launch and its new threat. And Pence agrees with President Trump who says China needs to do more. What this could mean for the region, next.
[00:17:00] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A short time ago, while traveling in Estonia, Vice President Mike Pence said all options are on the table with North Korea. This after the rogue nation fired off a long-range missile Friday that appears to have the range to hit U.S. cities. Also, North Korea threatened to respond with "firm action if the U.S. continues to cling to strong sanctions".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The continued provocations by the rogue regime in North Korea unacceptable. And the United States of America is going to continue to marshal the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically, but the era of strategic patience is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And this morning, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, had this to say on Twitter, "Done talking about North Korea, China is aware they must act. Japan and South Korea must include pressure. Not only a U.S. problem. It will require an international solution."
The U.S. also conducted an anti-missile defense test from Alaska. The THAAD system as it's called, shot down a missile over the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. also sent two bombers to fly over the Korean Peninsula as a show of force.
We have team coverage on this tense situation. CNN's Dianne Gallagher and Rear Admiral John Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst. Good to see both of you.
All right, Diane, you first. So start with anymore that you can tell us about the U.S. response.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Fred, of course, the most visible aspect to the U.S. responses, this show of force that we've been seeing over the past couple of days, the successful THAAD system out of Alaska. The bomber fly over of the Peninsula with the Japanese and South Korea fighter jets.
But, there are the current sanctions and the push for additional ones, that seems to really be what North Korea is focused on, then of course, there was the matter of China. The president's tweets last night, of course, accusing them of not doing enough but there does appear to be this bipartisan front of publicly acknowledging that without China, there's no diplomatic solution with North Korea. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein acknowledging as much today on "FACE THE NATION" and saying that when it comes to Kim Jong-Un, time is of the essence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM, to put solid fuel, to have an interesting launch device. And to have a trajectory which, as of the latest analysis, would enable it to go about 6,000 miles and maybe even hit as far east of Chicago. We can't have that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GALLAGHER: Yes, as far east as Chicago, Feinstein saying there, pretty ominous words, Fred. You can see whether they are Democrats or Republicans taking this North Korea threat very seriously now.
WHITFIELD: And then John, what's your reaction to what Senator Feinstein was talking about, her concerns reaching as far east of Chicago? What are your concerns about North Korea's capabilities?
[00:20:02] REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I certainly share her concerns. And I think she's absolutely right when she talks about the acceleration here that the regime has been able to apply to, to developing these capabilities, they are moving faster. I would say though, Fred, that look, the window still isn't closed for diplomatic action. And I kind of would like to rebut Ambassador Haley's comment that the time for talking about North Korea is over.
There's still time to try to find a diplomatic solution to this. And I do think the administration is right to point to Beijing and to try to work through China. That's the only nation state in the world certainly let alone the region that has any kinds of meaningful influence on Pyongyang. We just got to find a way to help get them to use that influence. Obviously, the approach thus far hasn't worked, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep trying.
WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling that China is partly why North Korea is able to accelerate as it has with its missile system?
KIRBY: Well, I don't think it's fair to blame China for the -- all of the acceleration. I mean, this is a decision that Kim Jong-un has made. That said, China can do more and China hasn't done enough to try to stem this development and to try to bring Pyongyang back into compliance with so many U.N. Security Council resolutions. I just think that we need to keep trying to find new ways to attack this problem by going through China.
The window for diplomacy isn't over and we shouldn't think about it being over. That said, of course, the military is a planning organization and it has to continue to plan for defenses and military options. You heard that from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dunford just a few days ago. That's their job and they need to do that. But I don't think anybody wanted to come to that stage right now.
WHITFIELD: How much confidence do you have in the U.S. missile defense system, THAAD?
KIRBY: Well, the THAAD system is very sophisticated, it's very strong. You just saw as Dianne reported a recent successful test. I mean, it is a good system.
And it is a purely defensive system and this is something that people need to remember, particularly Russia and China. And this isn't an offensive system. This is about protecting our interests and protecting the interests of our allies and partners. But it's not going to be a panacea, Fred. I mean, it does work and it
is capable, but nobody is looking at this as sort of, you know, solve all the problems kind of solutions.
WHITFIELD: All right, Admiral John Kirby, Dianne Gallagher, thanks to both of you, appreciate it.
KIRBY: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right, the president of the United States has a message for Senate Republicans over their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare saying, "the world is watching".
Straight ahead, how his threats are being received and what they could mean for your health care.
[00:26:40] WHITFIELD: All right. Today, President Trump is offering words of encouragement to Republicans after slamming the failed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. He tweeted this, "Don't give up Republican Senators. The world is watching. Repeal & Replace and go to 51 votes, nuke option, get cross state lines and more."
Well, this comes after his threat to lawmakers. In a tweet, he said, "If a new health care bill is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon." This morning on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION", the director of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, clarified what the president meant in that statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is the president threatening to cut off funding for the health insurance plans for members of Congress? Is that what that means, bailouts for members of Congress?
MULVANEY: Yes, actually I talked to the president at length about that exact issue yesterday. And I think his attitude is this and his attitude is pretty simple. Keep in mind, he does have this way of channeling a large number of the American public. And what he's saying is, look, if Obamacare is hurting people, and it is, then why shouldn't it hurt insurance companies and more importantly perhaps for this discussion, members of Congress? There is a certain benefit that members of Congress get as part of an OPM decision from a couple of years ago. And I think the president is simply looking at this and going, is this fair? Is it fair that Obamacare is hurting people?
If you live in a county, that's what we call now a bare county, with no coverage, if you're obliged by law to buy something that's not for sale and it's hurting you or if you've got a coverage but can't afford to go to the doctor and that's hurting you, shouldn't the insurance companies and members of Congress bear some of that burden as well? So, for me with that issue, we'll see what happens as we move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. But Republican Senator Susan Collins says lawmakers and insurance companies are not the only ones who would be hurt by cutting off that funding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It really would be detrimental to some of the most vulnerable citizens if those payments were cut off. They're paid to the insurance companies but the people that they benefit are people who make between 100% and 250% of the poverty rate. So we're talking about low-income Americans who would be devastated if those payments were cut off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So let's talk it all over with CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, who's back and CNN political commentator and political communist with the Orange County Register with us now, John Phillips. Good to see both of you.
All right, so Ana, the president is encouraging or, you know, threatening Republican senators to keep fighting for an Obamacare repeal, and blasting them for the failed repeal effort last week. But when you hear Jeff Flake as he was on ABC's "This Week" earlier today. He said, you know what, I'm paraphrasing, quoting him in part. If you want staff to sign, we better look across the aisle. Martha Raddatz with ABC, then asked, you know, one on one (ph) on health care and he says we're getting there.
He was disappointed that it died last week, but he says, he and others are glad to be talking about, sitting with colleagues, going back to regular order. It'll be good for us and good for the country.
Is that really the mandate or is that kind of the order of business that many Republicans on the Hill will be taking as opposed to listening to what the president has to say, which is go back to the drawing board?
[00:30:01] NAVARRO: Well, look, first of all, I just don't understand the president's tactics, because if he thinks that attacking the co- equal branch of government, which is the legislative branch, is going to work, I think he's grossly mistaken. Frankly, I don't know how long Republicans are going to take it or why they're even taking it. But then to your question as to bipartisanship, yes.
Look, Democrats tried Obamacare, health care fix on their own and it has enormous amounts of problems. Republicans tried it on their own and it failed. It couldn't even get 51 Republican votes.
So, what's left to do is try to actually do what many Republicans are asking for, which is take into consideration what the governors are saying, get them to have input. Work across the aisle, and let it actually compromise and come up with a bipartisan approach for what is an urgent national crisis.
WHITFIELD: So, John, do you see that some of these Republicans on the Hill, whether it be, you know, John McCain, Susan Collins, you know, Jeff Flake, who were going to say, wait a minute, we're going to now try something different. We are going to reach across the aisle.
And it's essentially dismissing or ignoring what the president has to say. You know, or they -- is this kind of a turning point for the GOP that, you know, that the president's credibility, you know, is damaged at this point?