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Russia Investigation; White House Shakeup; North Korean Threat; L.A. to Host 2028 Olympics & Paris to Host 2024; Does Base Want Trump to Become More Presidential; HBO Defends Upcoming Show "Confederate". Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 1, 2017 - 02:00   ET




ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm John Vause. We're live here in Los Angeles. It has just turned 11 o'clock on Monday night here on the West Coast. Thank you for being with us.

SESAY: And we begin with a new report in "The Washington Post" that could spell trouble for U.S. president Donald Trump in the Russia investigation. The paper cites multiple unnamed sources who say Mr. Trump personally dictated his son's misleading statement about that meeting with a Russian lawyer last year.

VAUSE: Here's part of "The Post's" reporting.

"The strategy, the advisors agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful so their account could be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

"But within hours at the president's direction the plan had changed."

Joining us here now in Los Angeles for more on this, former L.A. council woman Wendy Greuel and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips.

Thank you guys for being with us.


VAUSE: Here is a little more from one of the reporters at "The Washington Spoke (sic)" who spoke to CNN. This is -- he broke this story, which is causing a bombshell at this point. Let's listen.


TOM HAMBURGER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Early on, our reporting shows that advisors to the president and the president's inner circle recommended because there were documents, these emails that you just spoke about, were coming out, that it made much more sense to be transparent, to be forthcoming because, later on, if you issue a misleading statement, it could come back to hurt you.


HAMBURGER: That is what we're reporting tonight.


VAUSE: OK. So Wendy, "The New York Times" initially reported that the president had signed off on the original misleading response and wasn't part of it like we're now finding out from "The Washington Post."

So if "The Post" is, in fact, correct, this takes all of that to a whole new level, right?

WENDY GREUEL, FORMER MEMBER, L.A. CITY COUNCIL: Absolutely. It demonstrates that he was intentionally misleading the public. And you can bet that Mueller's listening to all of this and they're going to continue to investigate.

This story just doesn't end. And I think that we are now in the age of where everything that is happening is going to come out and it's always the cover-up that is worse than the actual challenge; in this instance, of the actual meaning, which is bad enough.

But the cover-up could have some legal challenges for the president and for Donald Jr.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) for you respond, let me read a little bit more from "The Washington Post" article. Let's put the graphic up on the screen for our viewers.

"Although misleading the public or the news media is not a crime, advisers to Trump and his family told 'The Washington Post' that they fear any indication that Trump was seeking to hide information about contacts between his campaign and Russians almost inevitably would draw additional scrutiny from Mueller."

How many more problems has the president created for himself here?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think it's a bombshell. I think it's a car backfiring at most. This is a story that we've seen repeat itself over and over and over again. It is anonymous sources with the word "possible" popping up right and left.

He's not accused of committing a crime. And I think it stems from the fact that when he started as a candidate in this presidential race, it was like five people in an office. He had to be a jack of all trades. He was involved in every aspect of every decision that was made.

He is now president of the United States. He needs to transition into the office and he needs to just stand back and let the professionals handle this. Now I understand why he is hesitant to do that. There's that a lot of people that have been leaking damaging information about him. He's had a lot of disloyal employees.

Hopefully General Kelly will be able to smoke them out, but, you know, it is a media problem more than anything.

GREUEL: Six months into --


GREUEL: -- it's not the first day.

VAUSE: I hear this so often from Trump supporters, though. They say, oh, look, the president's (INAUDIBLE) he's not a lawyer. He's not a politician. He didn't know.

This is the guy that said he was the smartest guy in the room, he was going to surround himself with the best people, he knows more than the generals. He's really smart. He knows big words, that kind of stuff.

So when does that excuse end, that he was just some kind of naif or some kind of political fool who didn't really know what was going on?

And he just did what anybody else --


VAUSE: And what does that have to do with telling the truth?

PHILLIPS: He's a novice but he's a novice who won the Republican primaries. He got Republican nomination. He won the general election. He's won all the special elections. And he's learning on- the-job. He's learning as he goes.

I think this is --


VAUSE: -- that was the criticism Republicans had about Obama.

PHILLIPS: Right, no, but this is -- learning on-the-job in terms of dealing with medial issues, I think this is a media issue. You have people who are investigating. You have Mueller who is investigating this. You have congressional committees that are investigating this.

It's not like no one is looking into it. This is right now a problem for Donald Trump in the news media. His supporters do not care about this. He has got --


PHILLIPS: -- his supporters in his box and, you know what, if you look at the tweet that he put out earlier today where he talked about the stock market doing well. He talked about --

(CROSSTALK) PHILLIPS: -- being well. He talked about immigration, illegal immigration --


PHILLIPS: -- that is what is important to people --


SESAY: You say the ordinary voter doesn't care. But isn't the ordinary voter standing back -- and there's some polls indicate, looking at all of this turmoil, the stories every day and wondering what is going on in this White House and is that why we're not seeing movement on Capitol Hill when it comes to the agenda?

GREUEL: I believe so. This is -- he is not able to focus on the job. He is focusing on the leaks. He is focusing the fact that he has so many changes in his own White House. Just in the last week, it seems everyone has either been fired or decided to leave the administration.

I think there are still a lot of things where he is micromanaging. He's not the best manager for the White House.

VAUSE: This is a question which was put directly to the White House when the story broke.

What was the president's involvement in forming this response to this meeting?

This is how they dealt with it a couple of weeks ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump had any communication with his son, Donald Trump Jr. over the last several days and was he involved in helping Donald Trump Jr. craft his statement to the press (INAUDIBLE) on Air Force One as was reported in "The New York Times"?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not sure about specific communications and the nature of those conversations. I know that they've spoken at least some point over the last few days but beyond that I don't have any other further details.


VAUSE: As we've said, misleading the public, Wendy, is not a crime because if it was, the communications team at the White House would be facing some serious problems right now.

GREUEL: But I think, again, when you look at the Russian issue, and all of that -- I mean, this is -- at what time did they have any kind of impact on the election?

Those are serious issues that we're going to get to the bottom of it. It's not going away and I think to suggest that we can just say whatever we want to the press or to the public and no one's going to question us, it's a new day. That's not going to happen.


PHILLIPS: The definition of chaos is having record unemployment, is having a stock market at a record high, then I wish George W. Bush had a more chaotic White House.


SESAY: Are you seriously saying that you don't see signs, clues of what is playing out in the White House, in your view, isn't chaotic, is not a (INAUDIBLE) of chaos?

PHILLIPS: I see him -- look, when Bill Clinton first took office in 1992 or 1993, actually, he had a lot of turnover in that White House. They had a lot of problems He eventually got his sea legs and was able to win a second term.

I believe right now Donald Trump is certainly going through that phase and the administration. Eventually he'll find people that work for him that are going to be loyal to him, who are good at their jobs and, hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later.

But it is -- the process is working its way out. It happened with Bill Clinton. It has happened in the past with other presidents, it's happening right now Donald Trump.

VAUSE: And it hasn't happened like this ever before. Let's get some details --


VAUSE: -- because Jim Acosta has a report on the latest staff shakeup --


VAUSE: -- at the White House, yes, the Mooch has been cut loose.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We just swore in General Kelly. He will do a spectacular job. I have no doubt.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A White House in chaos once again found itself spinning his way out of another round of staff turmoil. Just hours after President Trump welcomed his new chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, to the White House, is recently hired an embattled communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suddenly was out the door.

SANDERS: General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House and all staff will report to him.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was just 11 days ago when the man nicknamed the Mooch pledged to improve White House messaging and praised outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer and then chief of staff Reince Priebus.

SCARAMUCCI: It's a relief that Sean. It speaks volumes to who he is as a human being, who he is as a team player. OK. So his attitude is Anthony's coming in; let me clear the slate for Anthony. And I do appreciate that about Sean. And I love him for it.

But I don't have any friction with Sean. I don't have any friction with Reince.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The following week he went to war with Priebus, savaging the then chief of staff in a profanity-laced rants to "The New Yorker," suggesting he might be the source of White House leaks.

SCARAMUCCI: As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down. But I can tell you two fish that don't stink. OK? And that's me and the president.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Despite the president's own history of using questionable language, the White House said Mr. Trump was bothered by Scaramucci's comments.

SANDERS: The president certainly felt that Anthony's comments were inappropriate for a person in that position and he did not want to burden General Kelly, also with that line of succession.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House said in a statement, "Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean --


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- "slate and the ability to build his own team."

But sources told CNN new chief of staff John Kelly had lost confidence in Scaramucci. It was an immediate sign that Kelly's aiming to bring order to a White House that has been rocked by near constant staff turmoil.

The president had praised Kelly as a miracle worker in his previous job as secretary of Homeland Security.

TRUMP: If you look at the border, you look at the tremendous results we have had and you look at the spirit and with a very controversial situation there has been very little controversy, which is pretty amazing by itself.

So I want to congratulate you on having done a fantastic job, General, and we look forward to, if it is possible, an even better job as chief of staff. ACOSTA (voice-over): But earlier in the day, the president took to Twitter to insist, "All is well," touting the nation's stock market and unemployment rate before insisting, "No White House chaos," a message echoed by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

SANDERS: If you want to see chaos, come to my house with three preschoolers. This does not hold a candle for that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The new chief of staff will find rival factions still in place. Even with Scaramucci gone, there are still sharp elbows being thrown by strategist Steve Bannon, counselor Kellyanne Conway, even the president's family, all competing for the president's attention.

Daughter Ivanka Trump hailed Kelly in a tweet, "as a true American hero."

TRUMP: We'll see you in the board room.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And the president's cabinet turned board room, Kelly was able to observe another source of White House tension, the damaged relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who's gone from being trashed publicly by Mr. Trump last week, to sitting across the room from him silently today.

ACOSTA: Sources close to the White House say not only was Kelly unhappy with Scaramucci, the president has soured on his new communications director as well as somebody who was generating too many negative headlines. Despite using questionable language himself, the president apparently did not approve of Scaramucci's tirade in "The New Yorker," the White House said the president viewed Scaramucci's comments as, quote, "inappropriate" -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


SESAY: All right, so, John Phillips, now the Scaramucci comments are inappropriate. They didn't seem as if that it was troubling anyone in the West Wing. Take a listen to Kellyanne Conway, one of the president closest advisers. Take a look at her reaction to Scaramucci's comments.

VAUSE: Oh, we don't have it.

SESAY: Oh, we don't have it --

VAUSE: -- but (INAUDIBLE), hey, it was colorful language --


VAUSE: -- feisty, this is good --

VAUSE: -- the president enjoys a fair and frank exchange of views.

PHILLIPS: Well, there's a big difference now. Now there's a buttoned-down general who is in charge, who probably does not want to hear 10 blue minutes from Andrew Dice Scaramucci and has decided to go in a different direction.

But I think a number of factors probably played into the dismissal of one of which would probably be Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon still works there, OK, and if someone who is the communications director went out and said that about you and you have to pass the guy in the hallway when you go to the bathroom every day, it might lead to some awkward moments.

The other thing is I know there are a lot of people around Trump who believe that Reince Priebus was not loyal to him, that believe that Reince Priebus was the source of many of the leaks. Certainly, it was reported that at the dinner that they had the night before, where Sean Hannity and Kimberly Guilfoyle and Scaramucci and Trump and others were at, that that subject certainly came up.

I think that part of bringing Scaramucci in was to lead to Reince Priebus moving on to greener pastures. He accomplished that goal. After you accomplish that goal, maybe it was time for him to move on to greener pastures.


GREUEL: In 11 days.

VAUSE: In 11 days.

GREUEL: In 11 days.

VAUSE: I got milk in my fridge older than that. OK.

There was no one more devoted to the president than the Mooch, you know. He (INAUDIBLE) his business and he cost him his marriage. I think it's see his newborn son until four days after he was born because at the time of the birth, he was at that Trump rally with the Boy Scout's national jamboree.

So not only was he fired on Monday, he was reportedly escorted from the grounds of the White House --

SESAY: Which we've been told is not entirely unusual.

VAUSE: Well, yes. But then the president tweeted this a few hours ago.

"Great day in the White House."



VAUSE: Come on.

PHILLIPS: OK, that's Irish people for a living.

(LAUGHTER) GREUEL: I think as you said ironic that he would say it was

inappropriate language from Scaramucci four days after it actually happened. And for some of the comments, of course, that we know, President Trump made when he was a few years ago and came out when he was running for President of the United States.

And I think that for so many people that the fact that John Kelly is now in there, that he is and trying to control things, he is used to be able to being in charge and there are consequences to people's behavior.

I don't know if you can do that in this White House. With President Trump.

SESAY: John, do you subscribe to this theory that some people have that Scaramucci was also (INAUDIBLE) because his sun was shining a little too brightly for President Trump and this is a warning to everybody now in the White House that take it down a notch.

PHILLIPS: Yes. Well, that is a good warning for anyone in the White House to not be above the fold when the boss is below the fold. But --


PHILLIPS: -- I think that applies to virtually every office on Wall Street, in the news media, everywhere else; always good advice to take. Never outshine the boss.

VAUSE: It feels like it's to this issue of loyalty and we're seeing this with attorney general Jeff Sessions when he was at that cabinet meeting on Monday, sat directly across from the president, looked him in the eye. The president didn't say anything to his face (INAUDIBLE) behind his back and on Twitter and all this kind of stuff.

And again we hear Mooch was incredibly loyal to the president, said he loved him about 18 times in that first news briefing he had. But that loyalty -- it seems it's just very much a one-way street with the president.

GREUEL: Totally a one-way street. And you wonder why there are so many people who did not want to go into this administration. The stories that we see that people have declined to actually be nominated for something because they're afraid they're also going to be thrown under the bus because that has happened consistently.

And Jeff Sessions, I think one of the things that is happening is that the Republicans have come to his defense. Seeing him today, people have said that's the line. He gets rid of him, we're gone. And I think that that we've seen that Trump is not loyalty, is totally a one-way street. And we'll see how Kelly handles that.

SESAY: John Phillips, as Kelly waded into this, everyone's reporting to him as has been reported and the question has to be, you know, do you let President Trump just be President Trump? PHILLIPS: I think it is a mixture of both. As we saw during the campaign, when Trump was Trump, that is when the campaign took off like a rocket ship. Much of that initial speech, when it came down to --


SESAY: -- one thing --


SESAY: -- another.

PHILLIPS: Well, but you go with what brought you to the dance and he -- his popularity is based on him understanding the temperature in the room. Hillary Clinton hired tens of consultants, had tons of political advisors and she never understood the temperature in the room.

Donald Trump had the innate ability to understand what the American people were feeling, what the American people, what the tone was that they wanted in the campaign.

And you can't force him to have a lobotomy and take that out of the White House. I mean, there are times when he goes a little bit too far and you have to rein it and you want him to be on script. But you don't want him bored with it. You want him to be himself.

GREUEL: But you don't want him tweeting every day about things that are cause us international incidents or cause challenges in the United States.

VAUSE: Well, no one said it was going to be easy.


GREUEL: Yes, that's right. He said he was much harder than he thought --

PHILLIPS: For the record, I love the tweets.

SESAY: Oh, yes.


VAUSE: Those official White House statements --


VAUSE: OK, John and Wendy --

SESAY: Always appreciate it. And thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Time for a quick break here. And President Trump has repeatedly pointed to China as a solution to the North Korean threat. But Beijing is pushing back. VAUSE: Also ahead, why the president's supporters embrace him not to spite his almost daily controversies but because of them.





SESAY: Hello, everyone.

There is growing alarm over North Korea's missile capabilities after Friday's launch. But little agreement on what to do about it.

VAUSE: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, lashed out at China over the weekend, saying Beijing could easily solve the problem. By Monday, he said the U.S. would deal with it but offered no detail.


TRUMP: We'll handle North Korea. We'll be able to handle them. It will be -- it will be handled. We handle everything. Thank you very much.


SESAY: Well, experts said if the missile had a flatter trajectory it could have threatened U.S. cities. It was Pyongyang's second intercontinental ballistic missile launch in July.

VAUSE: Clayton Dube joins us now. He's the director of the University of Southern California's U.S.-China Institute.

Thanks for coming in. So just to pick up on what the president said on Monday, we'll handle it, do you read that as U.S. sanctions on China to force Beijing to deal with Pyongyang, to make them handle it, is that what the president is talking about here?

CLAYTON DUBE, USC: Well, it's not at all clear what the president means by we will handle it. The administration has not spoken with one voice on North Korea. You've got a CIA director who's suggested that some sort of surgical strike might separate the leadership from the systems and you've got others who recognize the complexity of any kind of military option.

If the president means we're going to further pressure Beijing to do something, I think he is going to be disappointed.

VAUSE: And that actually could come maybe this week according to some reports. What is interesting is because there are these hardliners within the Trump administration and they get much tougher on China, not just with North Korea but they also want to roll in the issue of trade and they're looking at putting tariffs on Chinese steel and missing this all into the one issue, what do you see are the problems of that could (INAUDIBLE)?

DUBE: Well, it is not possible to deal with all of China, all of the U.S.-China relationship in one package. These things have to be separated out because they affect different constituencies, both here in the United States and in China.

You cannot just lump it all together. The expectation that Donald Trump had was that China enjoys a trade -- a good trade relationship with the United States; if they want to continue to have that, they will close the door on North Korea.

But that overestimates the capacity Beijing has to do just that. Beijing is limited. It is hard to understand this but Beijing is limited in North Korea.

VAUSE: It's also limited in the sense that it does not really want to change the status quo. There's nothing in it for them.

So why are they going to do the bidding of the United States?

DUBE: No, this is quite the point, is the United States' interests in North Korea and Chinese interests in North Korea are not the same. And so we should not expect that Beijing would want to act in a way that would benefit our interests, potentially damaging their own.

VAUSE: This assessment from the U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, she was talking about the threat posed by North Korea fear that latest missile launch. This is what she said.




FEINSTEIN: -- as a clear and present danger to the United States. I've spent time on the intelligence and at the briefings, and done as much reading as I possibly could. And I'm convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM.


VAUSE: If the United States is facing a clear and present danger and there's no need -- no reason to doubt Senator Feinstein, should the United States be outsourcing this problem to China in the first place?

DUBE: No and we tried that. We tried, we asked Beijing to handle it and they demonstrated that they were not able or not willing to do so in the way that we wanted.

It is a clear and present danger, not just to the United States, but to South Korea, to Japan and to these others and they have to be involved in any attempt at a solution.

VAUSE: And we know that the president spoke with Germany's prime minister on Monday as well.

Also over the weekend, China's president Xi Jinping addressed troops for Army Day. But this year was different. It is the 90th anniversary of the (INAUDIBLE). But they held this great big parade in Inner Mongolia, 12,000 troops, first time ever in Mongolia. We can see President Xi Jinping there in army fatigues, which they're saying it's the first time he's ever been wearing the army fatigues.

And all this happening in the midst of this North Korea nuclear crisis.

Is President Xi sending message with all of this, not just to the United States but to the rest of the region and the world?

DUBE: Oh, absolutely. Although the first message in China is always for the Chinese people. And it is important to recognize that Xi's first and most important position is to be chair of those Communist Party's central military commission, the party controls the gun.

So that is message number one, this is the party's army.

Message number two is that when China was not so physical, when China's military was not so robust, China was preyed upon by others. And the message of the party to the people is we do not let that happen anymore.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) realize that the military in China answers to the Communist Party, swears loyalty to the Communist Party, not to the nation (ph).

DUBE: That's correct.

VAUSE: OK, Clayton, thank you very much for coming in.

DUBE: My pleasure. My pleasure.

SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., it's been decades but the Summer Olympics are coming back to the U.S.

VAUSE: Really?

SESAY: Right here in good old Los Angeles. Find out what the city's getting in return.

VAUSE: Really bad traffic.


[02:30:58] VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. It is 11:30 here on the west coast. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour --


VAUSE: The summer Olympics are heading to Los Angeles.

SESAY: You're excited.

VAUSE: Did you hear the celebration today? The city struck a deal with the International Olympic Committee to host the game in 2028.

SESAY: Well I am excited.

L.A. will now get $1.8 billion increase participation and access to youth sport programs before the big event.


ERIC GARCETTI, LOS ANGELES MAYOR: When we won the Olympics the first time, people didn't know where L.A. was. They gave it to us, it was the Great Depression. They said go find out where this L.A. is. And we became a global city. In '84, we became an even more important global city when he saved the movement in the midst of a Cold War. And today in this world when there's so much uncertainty, we believe Los Angeles can take its rightful place as one of the indispensable global cities around.


SESAY: This clears the way for Paris to host the 2024 summer games.


CNN's Erin McLaughlin is joining us now from Paris with more.

Erin, it's all well and good that the L.A. mayor is beaming about L.A. being on the map with this win for 2028.

Let's remind our viewers that many officials have been less than enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting the games in 2028.

So the question is, what happened? Was it basically the money? Did the money sweeten the deal?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seems that way. $1.8 billion, at least $1.8 billion in terms of an advance, the IOC when it made the announcement of the releasing of the statement saying that money was in, quote, "In view of the longer training period and to increase participation and access to youth sports programs." Normally that advance would be given to a host city a couple of years before hosting the actual games. L.A. clearly receiving that now, much sooner than that.

But this is a very unusual situation, especially when you consider, in July, the IOC making the announcement that L.A. and Paris would host the 2024 and 2028 games, but not saying which city would come first. This, after the other cities in the running dropped out, including Boston, Budapest and Rome citing cost concerns. Now the IOC announcing this $1.8 billion advance to the city of L.A. Welcome news to Paris, which has been long pushing of the hosting of

2024 games. This is not quite a done deal for Paris yet. The mayor released a statement last night saying, quote, "We are confident that a win/win/win event can be finalized ahead of the IOC sessions. That session expected in September" -- Isha?

[02:35:08] SESAY: Erin, Paris, again, you made the point that it's not a done deal, but the expectation they'll host the 2024 games. That automatically throws up questions about security, given everything that's played out in Paris and France in recent months and years.

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. But that was taken into consideration when Paris made this bid, assuring the IOC that they are capable of hosting multiple events that have gone off extremely well. Look at the Euro Cup Final. They had over 100 leaders here in Paris for that climate change deal. All of that went off pretty much without a hitch, security-wise. So pointing to the fact that Paris has a track record of being able to host big events in a secure environment.

Paris really wanting again, Isha, that 2024 date for several reasons. The logistics of it all. The fact that a couple of the sites, they're having to build two of the sites. Those sites not available for 2028. Also for sentimental value. 2024 will mark 100 years since Paris hosted its last Olympics, in 1924. Sentimental value from the city -- Isha?

SESAY: Erin McLaughlin, joining us from Paris. Appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Do you remember the Olympics back then?

VAUSE: Yes. It was great.


Next on NEWSROOM L.A. President Trump and outrage goes together like peanut butter and jelly. That's how many of his supporters like it.


VAUSE: Almost daily, it seems, Donald Trump causes fresh outrage by his actions or words. He unapologetically breaks traditions and norms whether it's a speech to Boy Scouts --


[02:40:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You want to achieve your dreams, I said who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boys Scouts, right?


TRUMP: As the Scout law says, a Scout is trust worthy, loyal. We could use more loyalty, I will tell you that.

Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?



VAUSE: All while addressing hundreds of policemen and women.


TRUMP: And when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a patty wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said please don't be too nice.


VAUSE: The 45th president of the United States is nothing like the other 44. The insults and curse words seem to work during the campaign. Many supporters saw it as authentic and relatable. And for a shocked Republican Party, a means to an end, a way of defeating Hillary Clinton and taking back the White House.

Now he's in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump has yet to make good on this promise.


TRUMP: With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any presidential than any president that's ever held this office, that I can tell you.



VAUSE: But in all the almost constant outrage over the president's words and actions, do his supporters really want him to change?

CNN political commentator and the most dedicated of Trump's supporters, Jeffrey Lord, is joining us.

Jeffrey, always good to see you.

I'd like to start off with part of an opinion piece in the conservative magazine, "National. Part of it read, Were Trump to fulfill every presidential pledge but stop tweeting about Mia's face and CNN's ratings, many Republicans would be less enamored of him. Trump's rage is what thrills Republicans, not his policy."

Is there an element of truth to that? To many out there, all that matters is the punching and attacks?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think that is true. People out there are concerned, I can tell you, since I live in the middle of Pennsylvania, about Obama, health care, trade, jobs, things of that nature, illegal immigration. But I must say I think they do like the style. And I can tell you why they like the style. I'd say over the last X-number of decades, politicians seemed to have come out of a cookie cutter somewhere. They all wear the navy-blue suits, the red ties, their hair is all quaffed, and they say the same version of the same thing. Or even worse, they promise one thing, they get into office -- as witness this whole vote on Obamacare to repeal. Senator McCain ran a whole campaign and said he was opposed to it and vote to repeal it. He gets there and refuses to do it. That's the kind of thing that drives people crazy. That was one of the reasons why they really do like the president.

VAUSE: At this point, some could make that same argument about President Trump. He made a lot of promises during the campaign, which he hasn't kept from one to another.

LORD: He's trying. He's trying. It's not that he's gone back on them. He is trying to do these things. You do need help in the Senate and the House. And what is so frustrating to many Republicans, I mean, we've heard a lot about repeal and replace. I'm beginning to hear a lot of defeat and replace in terms of Republicans wanting to do-in some Republican members in Congress because they're not carrying through on their word.

VAUSE: The president's remarks at a gathering of police officers came up on Monday during the White House press briefing. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was the president joking when he said this or did he check his remarks out with the International Association of Police Chiefs or maybe the attorney general?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I believe he was making a joke at the time.


VAUSE: Jeffrey, the president seems to use the, I was only kidding excuse, quite often. In this instance, is it acceptable to joke about police brutality?

LORD: John, you showed part of clip. The other part you didn't show was the police officers laughed and applauded. They thought it was funny. It was a joke. The president clearly is not supporting police brutality. That's none sense. What he is, is a New Yorker with a sense of humor, in this sense, standing in front of a lot of New Yorkers, who laughed. That's all.

VAUSE: The former police associations condemned the remarks. The former chief commissioner of Philadelphia, for example, said he had a lot of concerns about what the president had said.

LORD: Yes, I just -- forget -- forget this particular issue. All across the board -- and this is again gets to one of the appeals of the president. Political correctness has gone so far overboard. You have no idea how many people stop and tell me that we're fed up with this, that we've come a humorless country, this is all about correctness. And I think this is one small example. VAUSE: OK, many within the Republican Party who may not like the

president's behavior or character, they rationalize their support for him because he put a conservative judge on the Supreme Court judge.

With that in mind, here's what Bret Stephens wrote in "The New York Times," "Thought exercise for Trump's immediate defenders. If Trump was to sexually assault a woman in the Oval Office, would you still justify your vote that Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the Supreme Court made it worthwhile."

How do you answer that question? How far is too far?

[02:45:27] LORD: Well, I don't know. Bill Clinton certainly is very popular and he did do this in the Oval Office. So

VAUSE: We're talking become Donald Trump.


VAUSE: This is a hypothetical. The questions is, where is --


LORD: Yes, hypothetical. With all due respect to Bret, whom I like, I reviewed one of his books favorable. He's a Never Trumper. I think it's silly.

VAUSE: Do you think there's a line where the president can go too far?

LORD: Well, there's a line where anybody can go too far. But the president was elected for serious reasons. Serious reasons, illegal immigration, health care, trade, jobs. Those are things that people care about and they feel that those actors in the political system who, up until this point, have not been doing their job, and so they voted for President Trump. That's it.

VAUSE: There been a lot of newspaper print taken up, a lot of web pages that have been clicked on with conservators writing about they're concerns about the moral example set by the president and the impact this is having on American society and young people. And it is something within for many in this country to let out this rage. Is it sanctimonious elites or do they have --

LORD: Yes, I think it's is sanctimonious. And it speaks to something I think is a problem. You have people more concerned about style than substance. And President Trump offends styles sensibilities of some people, particularly some urban elites in Manhattan and the east coast and Los Angeles, et cetera. That take great umbrage at that. I think it's just there is a whiff of snobbery about this. I can tell you, again, he carried Pennsylvania, for example, which hadn't gone Republican for 25 years, precisely because people were listening to what he had to say and liked what he had to say. And they like his unwillingness to take stuff from these kinds of people exactly.

VAUSE: So, if anybody's waiting for the president to pivot and change his ways they'll be going to be waiting a long time?

LORD: Let Trump be Trump.

VAUSE: OK. Jeffrey, it's been too long since we've talked. Thanks for being with us.

LORD: Exactly, John, any time. Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

SESAY: I've heard a lot of that tonight, let Trump be Trump.

VAUSE: Let Trump be Trump.

SESAY: Take another break. HBO is facing backlash after announcing the show that imagine the United States as a nation where slavery is still legal in the south. Stay with us.




[02:51:53] SESAY: HBO is defending its upcoming show titled "Confederate." The series imagine what's the U.S. might look like if the south had seceded successfully from the union.

VAUSE: It's being developed by the creators of "Game of Thrones." Many have taken to social media in protest.

SESAY: One wrote, "'Confederate' is a bad idea. There is no reason to imagine a time when marginalized folks are oppressed. We're living it. Reconsider."

VAUSE: Entertainment journalist, Segun Oduolowu, joins us now, a pop culture contributor to "Access Hollywood Live."

Segun, it's trending on Twitter. They had everyone protesting during --



VAUSE: It trended quite highly. But they haven't even started making it yet. Is this a little early?

ODUOLOWU: I was ready to come on here and do my usual like outright filled with outrage. And I'm 100 percent in your corner. I fear censorship more than I fear what this show will be. And this feels like "Minority Report," where you are trying to kill something because it's a thought. No script has been written. No one has been cast. And the person who created this no Confederate. April Rain also created #oscarsowhite. Her heart is in the right place. But I think her head, I think the idea behind this, it's going off the rails. This feels like those college freedom zones where we want to be able to be over here and segregate, right.


ODUOLOWU: Right. And that bothers me and it scarce me. What happens when it's turned on you?

SESAY: Let me read you HBO's statement because they are acknowledging there are risks here involved with this project. "If you can get it right, there is a real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America. If you can draw a line between what we're seeing in the country today with voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to public education and health care, and draw the line to our past and shared history, there is an important line to draw and a conversation worth having."

Do you buy that? Do you believe this will advance the conversation around race, racism, inequality in this country?

ODUOLOWU: I believe it should be given the chance to. I believe that we shouldn't kill it before one show has been shot. We don't know what they're going to do. Listen, if they do it poorly, if HBO does it as poorly as they did the press release where they give you no facts, no nothing about it, they're just going to do a show where racism in the south secedes and racism is prevalent today, then, yes, if they do it badly, I'll be the first one on every airwave marching for that show to be canceled. But until we see it, I don't think we can judge it before we see it.

VAUSE: But it has been done badly in the past. A few years ago, there was a movie "The Confederate States of America." Here is a clip.


NARRATOR: Long last, the movie you've been waiting for. A thrilling look at the history of our great nation.

CHILDREN: I pledge of allegiance to the flag of the Confederate States of America.


VAUSE: That was probably the best bit because the rest of it was truly, truly awful. It was meant to be satire, but it was just incredibly offensive.

[02:55:08] ODUOLOWU: Well, is it any more offensive than "Duck Dynasty?"


ODUOLOWU: What I'm saying is, as a black person in America, I understand that racism exists. Racism exists in so many corners, it's kind of hard to pin them all down. But a show -- VAUSE: This was selling black people on the Home Shopping Network.

ODUOLOWU: Those people aren't the same people who gave us Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons. The creator of "Game of Thrones" have done -


SESAY: I want to pick up on that point. You talk about the creators behind "Game of Thrones."

ODUOLOWU: They're often white.

SESAY: That's right. That has, in and of itself, attracted some controversy, that the way they have handled or not handled black characters or given them any meaningful story lines in "Game of Thrones," if any, I can't think of any off the top of my head, makes them less than perfect to be showing this show "Confederate."

ODUOLOWU: There are people of color in the show. We may be upset at how those people of color are depicted. But there are very few movies and TV shows --


SESAY: The slaves.

ODUOLOWU: Well, there is a freed slave and there is the unsullied who happen to be people of color.

SESAY: Slaves.

ODUOLOWU: But do we say what they did to Tyron Lannister is bad for little people? There are dragons in the show. I have a hard time in the fantasy world getting upset about the way black people or Hispanic people are not really depicted. And there is a whole set of Hispanic people in the show that come from Dorn. So I'm ok with the way people are depicted in this. And this is myth. If they want the deal with reality, it's going to be really hard to do a show about slavery where black people are not in it. And if that #oscarsowhite is the bread and butter thing you're building off, what if they have black writers and cast?


SESAY: Two executive producers on "Confederate," the husband and wife team.

ODUOLOWU: What if they come us to and ask us what we think about it and focus group it? Let's do more before we kill it.


ODUOLOWU: Yes, I am. I am.



ODUOLOWU: Like, whoa, whoa, whoa.

SESAY: Segun Oduolowu, thank you.

ODUOLOWU: My pleasure.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

SESAY: I'm John Vause. We'll be back. Yes, we'll be back! Don't adjust your sets. Another hour on us.