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Sergey Kislyak Publicly Commenting on Conversation with Flynn; Security Council Voted for Tough New Sanctions Against North Korea; Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the Third Woman to Serve in That Post; Donald Trump Calls New Hampshire a Drug-Infested Den. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 5, 2017 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:25] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We have our eyes all over the world this weekend from the White House to Moscow to North Korea which was the subject of a vote before the United Nations Security Council moments ago. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley just spoke there. We brought you her comments live here on CNN talking about the nuclear threat from North Korea and measures the United States and other countries are taking as protection. Much more on that in a moment when we go live to the U.N.

Meanwhile, the American national Security Council adviser leaving very little interpretation when it comes to possible U.S. military response to the North Korea's nuclear threat. More on that in a moment.

And is this man on a fast track to higher office at the White House? He is a senior policy adviser. And according to a White House official could be Trump's next communications director.

We are looking at all of the big stories right now. CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Washington. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow and traveling with the President in Bridgewater, New Jersey, CNN's Athena Jones.

So Athena, to you first. Let us talk about Stephen Miller. A White House official saying this weekend that Miller may be headed for a more visible role. What are you hearing?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. That is right. A White House official is saying he is being considered for what the source is calling an elevated communications role. This role would be in addition to his current role as a senior policy adviser.

The source adds that Steve Bannon, the President's chief strategist and ally of Stephen Miller, they are both part of this nationalist or so-called nationalist wing of the west wing. Steve Bannon favors restructuring the director of communications role. And so Miller might not actually get that title. But just sort of get a more elevated role within the communications department.

Now, this source said that it wasn't clear whether Steve Bannon had floated this idea with the new chief of staff, John Kelly. But of course Ana, the fact that that we are talking about it means that it now has been floated about publicly.

We saw Stephen Miller last week sparring with our own Jim Acosta, senior White House correspondent. But we had not really seen him in front of the cameras for several months. And you may remember he was instrumental in the planning and the rollout of what was widely considered to be a disastrous rollout of the administration's first stab at that travel ban, restricting travel from several or from seven Muslim majority countries.

Stephen Miller made the rounds on the Sunday shows explaining what the ban was seeking to do and trying to sell it. But it was notable at time that he kept using an argument saying that the 9/11 attacks, the San Bernardino terrorist attacks and the Boston bombing attacks could have been prevented by this travel ban even though none of the attackers in any of those incidents came from one of those countries.

And so we didn't see Miller for a while. And now he has re-emerged. We understand the President was happy to see him in this combative role. This is the sort of thing the President likes to see having his spokespeople vigorously defending him on television -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Athena, stand by.

Let me turn to Boris Sanchez. You are monitoring the special counsel investigation of the White House this weekend. And "the New York Times" has a new reporting that the investigation led by Robert Mueller has a very sharp focus on one former White House official. Why is Michael Flynn back in the spotlight?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. The embattled former national security advisor is now being eyed very closely by the special council in part to his connections to the government of Turkey. "The New York Times" is reporting that payments alleged secret payment from the government of Turkey went to Flynn in exchange for his lobbying against a political opponent of the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan. "The New York Times" is now reporting that the special council has requested specific documents from the White House pertaining to Michael Flynn going as far as to question several people in the administration about his ties to that country.

This coincides with the lot of CNN's reporting that his receiving payments from foreign governments is part of the focus of the investigation into the former national security adviser. Now, we have reached out the Michael Flynn's attorneys. They have declined to comment. We have reached out to the White House's outside counsel. Ty Cobb did respond to our request for comment saying that he would not get into specifics about his team's communication with the special counsel and their discussions except to say that they are fully complying with this investigation.

The interesting part about this, Ana, is that earlier in the spring, we heard from the leaders within the house oversight committee who said that Michael Flynn may have broken the law by not revealing payments from foreign governments in his security disclosure forms, his security clearance forms. Not only potentially from Turkey but also from RTTV, the Russian news agency.

So this gives you an idea of where the investigation is turning. It's not just focused on Russia. It is looking very broadly into officials in the Trump campaign even in the Trump administration. As you remember, Ana, Michael Flynn was fired for apparently having lied to the vice President.

[16:05:42] CABRERA: All right, Boris Sanchez and Athena Jones, thank you.

This is not the first time that the FBI investigation has centered around Flynn as Boris pointed out. You remember back in January the FBI questioned Flynn about the phone calls he had had a month earlier with the then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn said that the two did not talk about Russian sanctions during those calls. That turned out to be false. Now, President Trump ended up having to fire Flynn over that lie.

CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is live in Moscow.

And new today, Matthew, I understand Sergey Kislyak is publicly commenting about that conversation with Flynn. Talk to us about what he is saying.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. That's right. This is the first time that Sergey Kislyak, the long serving ambassador from Russia to the United States, has spoken about this conversation that he had on the telephone a couple of calls with Michael Flynn. And since he came back from his posting in Washington, he is here in Moscow now. And now he has left the ambassador post. And he is basically ruling out that any discussion was had with Michael Flynn or anyone else in the Trump campaign at that time about sanctions. Take a listen to what he said they did discuss.


SERGEY KISLYAK, RUSSIAN FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES (through translator): There are a few topics that are important to U.S./Russia cooperation. First of all, it is terrorism. This was one of the topics we discussed. This conversation was proper, calm and absolutely transparent. There were no secrets, at least on our side.


CHANCE: Well, no secrets according to Kislyak. But he also has ruled out any possibility of testifying in front of Congress or the special investigation by Robert Mueller saying that the only person he would testify in front of and give evidence for is the Russian parliament. And so little hope of seeing full testimony from Sergey Kislyak in the United States.

CABRERA: And curious that he is saying they didn't discuss sanctions when U.S. intelligence shows the two did talk about sanctions. That Michael Flynn was even fired over that. What do you think is the strategy in Kislyak denying that?

CHANCE: Well, I suppose it's possible that Kislyak may be trying to help Michael Flynn given that he is under renewed focus again in these inquiries into the allegations of collusion. That it was a deal done secretly between the Trump administration and the Trump team and the Russians. But I think probably what he is doing is just restating what the Russians have said time and again which is there was nothing nefarious that was discussed. There were no secret deals. No one at the Trump campaign said they would lift sanctions if they were elected.

This is what the Kremlin has been saying time and again. And if he is anything, Sergey Kislyak is a professional diplomat. That he is professional in voicing what the Kremlin line is. And this is what they have been saying all along.

CABRERA: Matthew Chance for us in Moscow, thanks so much.

We are now following more breaking news today. Just in the last hour, North Korea facing tough new sanctions designed to send a message to the brutal regime about its nuclear program in the recent ballistic missile tests.

Just a short time ago, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the new sanctions banning key North Korean exports and putting significant limits on foreign investment in North Korea. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, spoke out today in full support of the new sanctions.

I want to bring in senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth now.

And Richard, you were there for the vote. What makes the new sanctions different than some of the other measures designed to punish North Korea for the nuclear weapons program that we have seen implemented in the past?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I guess one could say it perhaps it is the deepest cut into North Korea's export economy where it gets badly need hard currency for fuel, for its missile and nuclear test industry.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador, calls this the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation. We have heard tough talk from recent different administrations that the North Korean sanctions opposed by a Security Council meeting are the toughest ever, but nothing seems to deter Pyongyang and its interest in getting missiles that threaten now the east coast of the United States.

Nikki Haley and other pleased that the vote was unanimous. But she says there is more to do.

CABRERA: That's right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: The North Korean threat has not left us. It is rapidly growing more dangerous. We have seen two ICBMs fired in just the last month. Further action is required. The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies. Our annual joint military exercises for instance are transparent and defense oriented. They have been carried out regularly and openly for nearly 40 years.


[16:10:30] ROTH: It was just a week ago ambassador Haley declined to have an emergency Security Council meeting after the latest ICBM launch saying there is no use for just words. She seems pleased that the council could unite behind more sanctions. China and Russia are glad they could all agree. However, China and Russia had pointed words in the deployment of the THAAD anti-offensive missile system deployed in South Korea with the United States backing and support. So the divisions still remain here, Ana.

CABRERA: United front on the sanctions but not on everything.

Richard Roth, thank you.

One hour from now by the way I will speak live with Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. about the growing threat from North Korea and this administration's response. What if the sanctions she voted on don't work? We will talk to her about what's next. That's the next hour live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Meanwhile, rescue crews are searching right now for three missing U.S. marines involved in a training mishap up to what they using in Australia. We are told that the U.S. military was carrying out training exercises with the Australian military off the country's eastern coast and the U.S. osprey aircraft went into the water. Officials say 26 service members were on board. Twenty-three have been rescued but again three remain missing. We are told President Trump has been briefed. We will update you throughout the coming hours as we learn more.

Still ahead here in the NEWSROOM, Robert Mueller issues a grand jury subpoena regarding last summer's meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. This as the special counsel follows the money trail in his investigation. The latest developments next.


[16:16:07] CABRERA: It's our top story this hour. "The New York Times" reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to turn over documents related to the fire national security advisor Michael Flynn. Now, this is the first time that we know of that the Trump White House has been asked to turn over documents that is directly relating to the one person that President Trump has sought to protect.

With me here in New York CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon library Tim Naftali and CNN political analyst Rebecca Berg. She is also a national political reporter for Real Clear Politics.

So Tim, I will start with you. The White House has had to respond to reports now, you know, asking them to preserve the records that we know happened earlier. But this is the first time we have heard of them actually turning over some kind of records. How do you think that's going to impact the people in the west wing?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I believe the request is about materials regarding Turkey and the relationship between Flynn and Turkey. Given that the President's sensitivities are towards his relations regards his relationship with Russia. I'm not sure this is actually going to affect the White House that much. What is interesting though is that it does put the White House on guard that this may be may not be the last request for information.

What we have been seeing lately is clearly at least from indications of an acceleration of the more investigations. So I would suspect we are going to see more and more of these requests of different with different sort.

CABRERA: So Rebecca we are told that the special counsel is investigating President Trump for potential extraction of justice. That is part of the case that was likely involve Trump alleged attempt to protect Flynn of course by asking then FBI director James Comey as he testified before Congress to drop this investigation into Flynn. Does that make the President feel like this is hitting close to home do you think?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well certainly. If the President is being investigated for obstruction of justice as the special counsel's movement suggests he has asked for those Comey memos that Comey described in the congressional testimony and some other documents related to potential obstruction of justice probes, if the President is at the center of that. He is the only one who could have obstructed justice in this case.

And then the next question, if you start to look into that, is why was he obstructing justice potentially? Was it because he liked Flynn, thought he was a good guy or was it because he knew what was going on and trying to protect him from that? And so this is what the special counsel is going to be looking at. This is what the Senate and House committees are going to be looking at.

And it's worth noting when we are talking about these document requests that there is now a grand jury operating under the special counsel. And part of the grand jury's duty, part of their purview is to subpoena documents. And so I think we are going to start seeing a lot more of that now that this grand jury is operating under Mueller.

CABRERA: And CNN has learned that they subpoenaed documents and witness testimony from that Donald Trump Jr. meeting at Trump tower back in 2016 and this last summer with the Russian lawyer and some other member of Russia as well as the members of the campaign including Manafort and Jared Kushner. Now President Trump has not shied away from talking about Russia. In

fact, just this past Thursday at that big campaign style rally in West Virginia he said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It is just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's all it is.


CABRERA: So Tim you are the former director of the Nixon library. President Trump obviously not the first President to be the subject of an investigation or to have an investigation that is closing in on around his presidency and the people that are part of his team. Is his response similar to what you are seen in the past?

NAFTALI: Well I would have to say that you know one of the greatest losses in American history was that of George McGovern in 1972. So there are similarities between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. But the use of hyperbole is something new to the presidency with Trump.

Here is the key thing and I it is appalling when the President of the United States says this about the Russia investigation. We have to investigate Russia's covert action to intervene in our election, period. Whether it involves the Trump family or not we will find out. But to say that you cannot investigate it and investigate the investigation itself is some kind of a fraud is an attack on our intelligence community and all of our professionals in the national security community. We have to do it.

It looks like the Mueller investigation is at the heart because of this probe. It turned out that Congress couldn't do it. The Senate and the House couldn't do it.

[16:20:46] CABRERA: I mean they are still doing it.

NAFTALI: Yes, they are doing it.


NAFTALI: Well I think subpoenas are going to come from the grand jury and it is Mueller's grand jury. That is the center. Our country's effort to figure out what happened in 2016. The President should not be talking about it. Nobody yet has proven collusion on his part. And should know that the world will considered him innocent until proven guilty. So let the investigation go forward. Stop calling it a fraud when it would be a fraud if the U.S. government did not investigate a foreign country's intervention in our election.

CABRERA: But it has not rule but a nuance, Rebecca. But he didn't wish the investigation away at that rally that he seem to be taking the approach of trying to make it us again them fighting the investigation politically but he did not go after Robert Mueller specifically, the investigator. Do you think that is a sign that his new chief of staff is coming and having an impact on the messaging?

BERG: It could be. I mean, that is a really important distinction because it does show that he is just trying to make this into the political issue. Trying to win in the court of public opinion as opposed to potentially firing Robert Mueller or trying to undermine the investigation itself. So that is going to bring distinction. And it is worth noting that this investigation might go on into 2018 past 2018. And the President has to think about the midterms. He wants to keep his Republican majorities in Congress and if this cloud is still hanging over the White House. He at least needs to persuade the American people that this is not going to be a problem. That they should elect Republicans. And so there is a political incentive for him to be trying to be politicize this to some extent and at least cast doubt on the investigation.

CABRERA: The investigation we are told could last months, probably even years.

Rebecca and Tim, thank you both for being here. Much appreciated.

Coming up I am going to speak live to Nikki Haley the U.S. ambassador to the United States, to the United Nations. She is along with the Security Council right now. Just voted to impose new sanctions on North Korea. These are some live pictures as she is taking questions from other reporters. Again, she will join us live here in the CNN NEWSROOM next.


[16:26:59] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CABRERA: Breaking news. North Korea is now facing tough new sanctions in response to its two recent ballistic tests. And just a short time ago, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved fresh sanctions, banning $1 billion worth of North Korean exports including seafood, coal and iron.

Also, new sanctions imposing strong limits on foreign investment in North Korea. Moments before today's crucial vote, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke out saying the new sanctions will hit hard and make a strong point to North Korea that all the nuclear irresponsibility has to stop.

And Ambassador Haley is joining us now.

Ambassador, thanks for your time this afternoon. You called this the single largest economic sanctions package levelled against North Korea. Do you expect a different result from these sanctions?

HALEY: Well, thank you very much for having me. First of all, it is a new day at the U.N. This was a day of action. This was a day where we stopped all the talk. And this is the day where we said to North Korea they have to stop their irresponsible actions. And I think that what you saw today was a unanimous vote that said we are going to make sure that the North Korea understands what we are talking about. This resolution is the strongest resolution with sanction measures that we have seen in a generation.

It will go after a third of North Korea's hard currency. It bans coal, its bans iron, it bans additional laborers that they can send overseas. It has quite huge implications to North Korea. We hope they take notice and we will see what happens.

CABRERA: But again, the question was do you expect a different result from North Korea because we know time and again sanctions have been imposed. Sanctions have been increased. And yet North Korea's program continues to progress.

HALEY: Well, I think what everybody needs to understand is the revenue that goes into North Korea doesn't go in to feed its people who are starving. Instead what it is doing is it is going to fund the reckless nuclear program. So if we reduce the hard currency we are reducing the funding that allows them to do that.

Secondly we hope that they take note. We hope that they realize this was the international community speaking in one voice saying that this activity has to stop. They now have a decision to make. This was a gut punch to North Korea today. They can either now take heed and say, OK, let us stop. Let us start being responsible and let's see another avenue. Or they can continue what they are doing and the international community will continue to respond.

CABRERA: We brought our viewers the comments before the U.N. council live here on CNN. And you said further action is are required even beyond these sanctions. What does that further action look like?

HALEY: Well implementation of the sanctions. You know we can go and say we are going to put sanctions forward but the implementation needs to come not just from members of the Security Council but from all member states. And we need to send that message. And so the first part is passage. The second part is implementation. So we need to go ahead and make sure that we do this. It will cut into a third of their economy. And I think that they will have to respond accordingly.

CABRERA: Is preemptive military action on the table right now?

[16:30:02] HALEY: That is all up to North Korea.

At this point they really have some serious decisions to make. What I will tell you from the United States' perspective is we are prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. And the ball is in North Korea's court. They now have to decide where they want to go from here. We hope that they will go the route of peace and security. We hope that they will go the route of focusing on human rights and feeding their people. We hope that they will go the route of stopping modern slavery in terms of sending laborers overseas and then taking money from that situation. But again, all of this now is in North Korea's court and we will see how they respond.

CABRERA: Well we have seen how they have responded to the sanctions in the past. And that is with more aggressive action. Kim Jong-un is accused of orchestrating the murder of his own brother. Can sanction or diplomacy stop him?

HALEY: Well you know I think did what we could in the U.N. and that was basically speak with one voice. He is on an island. North Korea now has to look at the rest of the world and see that they are all telling him to stop this reckless activity and they need to respond to that. And they need to respond in a good way.

We want to see to peace and security on the Korean peninsula. We want to see responsibility come back in. What we have seen is a reckless dictator who has been paranoid. Who has been irresponsible. And who has continued to make his own interests over the interest of his people. And I think that this is now going to see what they are going to do in response. But to have China stand with us along with Japan and North Korea and the rest of the international community telling North Korea to do this. It is prettily impactful. This was a strong day in the U.N. This was a strong day for the United States. It was a strong day for the international community. It was not a good day for North Korea.

CABRERA: We have seen in the last week, in the last couple of weeks, in the last month different messages coming from the Trump administration about how to handle North Korea from Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, to the CIA director Mike Pompeo talking even about the possibility of regime change and we heard you last week say no more talk. Why the different messages from this administration?

HALEY: I don't think you have different messages from this administration. I think what you heard was we said we are done talking. It's time to act. I think you saw today the United States led the efforts in these negotiations this week. And worked with China to see if we could really make an impactful statement to North Korea. Today we acted. It is a new day at the U.N. where there it is not about talk all the time. It is about action. And I think you are going to see as go forth. I think that the administration has said and will continue to say that North Korea has acted recklessly, irresponsibly and it has to stop. And I think that we have tried to say multiple times that all options are on the table. We continue to give North Korea an out. We continue to give North Korea the ability to stop what they are doing and now they have to see what they do with that.

CABRERA: Let me ask you briefly real quick about the President signing off on these fresh sanctions for Russia. You have said before that everybody knows Russia meddled in our election. Do you think sanctions are enough to stop Russia from meddling in future U.S. elections including the midterms in just 18 months from now?

HALEY: I think we have to wait and see. You know we should always be hard on any country that tries to meddle in our elections whether it is Russia or anyone else. And I think that what you saw is those sanctions were a response to the meddling and we will now see how Russia responds with that.

I will tell you that we negotiated with Russia this week on this Security Council resolution and we were able to find common ground in terms of making sure that we had a strong voice for North Korea. We hope that they will continue to see that it is about strong actions and not about irresponsible ones. And so we hope that their days of meddling in elections are over.

CABRERA: What are the expectations with Rex Tillerson meeting at this Asian Security summit with serge Sergey Lavrov?

HALEY: Well I think it is a continuation of what secretary Tillerson has tried to do which is say where can we find common ground with Russia. There are a lot of issues that we need to talk about with Russia in terms of counterterrorism, in terms of how are we are going to deal with North Korea, in terms what we are doing with our crisis in Syria. And so I think that they will be discussing those and many other things.

And so the goal is to see where we can work together. Where we can't work together, we are going to be loud. We are going to be transparent. We are going to be open with them. But where we can work together, we are going to try and see if we can make some things happen so that we can bring additional peace and security to the world.

CABRERA: Has anybody expressed a problem with twitter diplomacy?

HALEY: I'm sorry?

CABRERA: Has anybody expressed a problem with twitter diplomacy as we have seen the latest comments from the President saying that the relations with Russia are at a very low point.

HALEY: I have not had one country complain to me about one President's tweets. It is he is going to do it. This is a President who communicates through twitter as much as he communicates through everything else. The countries pay attention to what he says. Never have they complained because to them they know where he stands and what he stands for. And so no complaints from the United Nations or any of the member states on the President's tweets.

[16:35:02] CABRERA: All right. Ambassador Nikki Haley, we appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.

HALEY: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: Coming up we will discuss what we just heard from U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. Stay with us.


[16:39:18] CABRERA: We just heard from U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley after the Security Council voted for tough new sanctions against North Korea.

And I want to bring in our CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller. He is the VP and a distinguished scholar of the Woodrow Wilson international center.

So you write, Trump and diplomacy does. Does he have a greater test regarding North Korea or a greater test than North Korea?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No it is I think it is the most complicated foreign policy issue certainly of this administration. And it's gone live in the sense that sooner or later the North Koreans will perfect their ballistic missile technology. And they are going to figure out a way to solve the problem of re- entry. And they already have nukes. And they will find a way to deliver them. So this is the greatest presumably existential threat to the United States. And it is literally the problem from hell.

And you know, if sanctions alone could do this I would join the marching band. I really would. And Nikki Haley delivered a very compelling tougher wrap based on a set of sticks. I just don't believe that sanctions have proven with any of these nation states basically to affect or alter regime behavior. It is going to take more than that. And that's why it gets so tricky and so complicated for the administration.

[16:40:37] CABRERA: Some theory you did the carrot and stick analogy. Do you think carrots would work better?

MILLER: You know Jim Baker one of my former bosses once said you really should not use you know these vegetable metaphors. And I don't like them even though I use them.

Look, the problem for us I think is very clear. We can't bomb or preempt because it's simply too risky. And the administration is prepared to negotiate but prepared to negotiate only a complete roll back and denuclearization of the weapons system. That's not going to happen. By 2020 the North Koreans are going to going to have half the nukes that the Brits have right now. So the only way I think is to test the proposition. Test it that a discreet back channel between the United States and North Korea could at least determine whether or not there is a way to slow down the program. Constrain it if not freeze it. That is about the best you are going to do, Ana.

CABRERA: President Trump of course sold himself as the master negotiator on the campaign trail. He wrote a book on deal making. Do you see a deal maker?

MILLER: You know it is interesting. You know making real estate deals in New York is complicated. I don't want to take that away from anybody who works in that business. But making deals in the international community where patience is required, where determination and stamina is required, and we are knowing the issues are required is just a far different matter.

I will tell you a short story. In 1982 (INAUDIBLE). I was at the state department following the Lebanon and Palestinians. I get a call one morning from the White House. And it is the vice President, Bush 41, on the phone. And he says, Aaron, I'm sorry to bother you. But I read one of your memos on Lebanon. Do you have a few minutes to talk about it? And I am thinking to myself, do I have a few minutes to talk to the vice President? This guy basically knew what he didn't know. And he was in a hurry to find out. That sense of curiosity is critically important for the deal maker. Critically important. And frankly today to say the least we have not seen that.

CABRERA: Aaron David Miller, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate your expertise in weighing in here.

MILLER: You are welcome, Ana.

CABRERA: Now when Sarah Huckabee Sanders took over as press secretary last month she became just the third woman to serve in that post. But her promotion was largely overshadowed by a week of dramatic staff shakeups. Since February the President has lost six major administration posts including his chief of staff and his communications director. That was in the past week. But noticeably absent from the President's chopping block, women in the west wing especially among the President's inner circle. Not just that, but Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, Omarosa Manigult, Dina Powell and of course his daughter Ivanka. They have some of the longest tenures of any of President's other advisers.

Joining me Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush. Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist. And Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.

So Alice, let us start with you. Why do you think it is the women who have had staying power in this White House?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is very simple. It is because all of these women that you just named they work hard. They are loyal. They keep their head down. They get the job done. And put the graphics up of the men, for a lot of them it was more about their imagine that getting results down. For the women they are committed to getting the work done for the President of the United States. And the fact that these women are there in these positions this goes to show that President Trump is very supportive of women in power and levels of influence. And I think that goes a long way to the President's commitment to empowering women.

CABRERA: Anita, you have seen firsthand how past administrations operate. What is the impact of women in these powerful positions inside the White House?

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: Well I think there are a couple of things. One I understand for some women it is symbolically important to see the numbers of women in an organization. But from working in the White House myself and being the senior woman there, I think what is really important to remember is what positions do the women hold. And are they in an agenda setting position? Do they have a seat at the table? And important policy decisions and communicating those to the President and to others.

And in your previous segment you just saw one important woman in the administration. Nikki Haley as ambassador conveying one of the most critical foreign policy decisions of our administration right now.

[16:45:27] CABRERA: Maria, what about Donald Trump the business man. His daughter long said that he promotes women equally and often within the Trump brand, Democrats branded him as sexist after that "Access Hollywood" tape. Does the President's inclusion of women in his administration as we have been discussing worked to combat what critics have called misogynistic rhetoric or behavior?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because the fact that he has some women in his cabinet or around him as advisers does not change his behavior, his misogynistic and sexist and offensive behavior towards women in the past by any means. And I will say I agree with Alice that part of the reason why these women are there. That they have staying power is because they have had their heads down and they have done their jobs and haven't really tried to promote themselves which is something that I think a lot of women have had to do.

Women know how to navigate workplaces even with misogynistic bosses. And I think this panel of powerful women have probably had some experiences where they have had to manage that as well. But I will say this. You know the impact of what this administration has done towards women, these women haven't really helped. So for example you know President Trump has still tried to repeal Obamacare which would be very detrimental to women and families. He took away the fair pay and safe workplaces act that President Obama had put into place that helped women with equal pay and with sex discrimination in the workplace. So from a policy standpoint the fact that these women have had staying power has done nothing to protect women and families in this country.

CABRERA: Alice, I will give you a chance to respond to that.

STEWART: Well, look, I think first and foremost the fact that the President is still working on repealing and replacing Obamacare which does help health care for all Americans including women and including children I think that says a lot. And his daughter Ivanka is working to empower women in the workplace. Kellyanne Conway travels around the country promoting policies that are helpful to women and children and certainly the life issues.

So I think six months is only just the beginning of what not just what the President can do but these women in high levels of authority can do and will continue to do moving forward and promoting women in the workplace and women certainly at home if they so choose to.

CABRERA: Ladies, let me just read you --.


CABRERA: I want to just push the conversation forward a little bit and read you something that the press secretary to Emily's list told "Politico." And I quote "women who are successful in their careers have usually had to deal with misogynistic jerks along the way. The White House this White House is about as toxic as it gets but women have learned how to manage and ignore Trump's particular brand of ego mania in a way that their male counterparts just haven't.

So Anita, if you strip away the whole partisan nature of that statement, does she have a point?

MCBRIDE: Well I think you know words like a toxic environment for women in the White House, I am not really sure that that is a fair statement. Because I think again, back to the point that now, there may have been dysfunction and a lack of borderliness and a lack of procedure and process and that is what a new chief of staff is very quickly gotten ahold of. And you are beginning to see that. And I think time will tell.

But I think that the fact that they are you have someone like a Kellyanne Conway who frankly, you know, is the first woman, you know, in history to successfully run a Presidential campaign and really hasn't been given a fair amount of credit for that when you think of her influence in the White House and what the President thinks of her and the position that he put her in to a, get him to the White House and then to be a voice for him.

And then there are some things that they are doing in the White House that people just don't hear about. Like just this week, meeting with military spouses where Kellyanne and a senior woman in the White House who is the wife of a marine held a group because 92 percent of military spouses are women, 41 percent, you know, of them are working women. And they have children. And it is 16 percent unemployment rate amongst them. Much higher than the national average.

CABRERA: So let me Maria --


CABRERA: Just a quick word, Maria, then --

[16:50:01] CARDONA: Yes, very quick. I have another theory. A lot of these women that have survived the White House are mothers. And mothers are equipped to deal with men who can only act like children.

MCBRIDE: Well, I was a mother in the White House too.

CABRERA: All right.

MCBRIDE: It is a lot of hard work.

CARDONA: And that gave you the equipment to deal with it as well.

CABRERA: Maria Cardona don't we know being a mom has a lot of balls in the air.

Thank you, ladies.

Tonight's episode of "Declassified" follows the untold story of the manhunt for the terrorist behind the hijacking of the gauge of air flight 648 back in 1985. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even within the FBI the terrorism section was kind of a small group within the criminal investigative division. It had nothing to do with intelligence. Nothing to do with security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At CIA in the early days of the Reagan administration there was a position called the national intelligence officer for counterterrorism. One man, but he was not in a position to get any intelligence from anybody about where the next attack is going to occur. It was all on the defensive side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrorism was going virtually unchecked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In those days there was never a heads up. Now we have the national security agency out vacuuming the sky and they are able to tell you that gee, we think something is happening. In 1985 this came. This was a bolt out of the sky. Literally.


CABRERA: You can watch the new episode at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific right here on CNN.

We are back after this.


[16:56:02] CABRERA: Remember when candidate Donald Trump said this about the opioid crisis in New Hampshire?


TRUMP: For the people of New Hampshire where you have a tremendous problem with heroin and drugs you wouldn't believe it. You see this place and you say it is so beautiful. You have a tremendous problem. The first thing always that they mentioned to me. Mr. Trump please do something. The drugs, the heroin, it is pouring in. And it is so cheap because there is so much of it. And the kids are getting stuck and other people are getting stuck. We are going to end it.


CABRERA: I will release you a transcript now of phone call between President Trump and the President of the Mexico where he called the state quote "drug-infested den has sparked outraged in the grand state."

Kaylee Hartung is joining us now from Concord, New Hampshire with those details.

Kaylee, how are the folks there reacting to Trump's comments?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, we are here outside the state house of New Hampshire and seemingly every elected official in this state has spoken out one or another in reaction to the President's comments including Governor Chris Sununu. He is a Republican. He has been an ardent Trump supporter. But he is not supportive of what the President has said about his state. He said he is disappointed that the President would cast such a misperception and aspersion upon his state. It is not just politicians who have an opinion here. The President's comment comes as big news to all in New Hampshire.


HARTUNG (voice-over): From Port Smith to Manchester to Nashua, it is the talk of the grand state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is to either review from the granite state after reportedly called New Hampshire quote "a drug infested den."

HARTUNG: In a January conversation with the President of Mexico that was leaked Thursday to "the Washington Post," President Trump claimed he won New Hampshire because the state is a drug infested den.

MARY MACDONALD, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: I'm horrified. It is deplorable. He had no business saying that about New Hampshire without -- and the fact that he said that he won New Hampshire was bad enough. But then to call us a despicable den of whatever was just -- I'm speechless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see living here. You don't see like the day to day. I don't know. I have lived. I was born and raised in New Hampshire. I have -- I would never call it a drug infested den.

HARTUNG: Though many called the President's comments disrespectful and point out Trump did not actually win the state of New Hampshire in the 2016 general election. Although he did win the primary. It's not all universal scorn.

REP. AL BALDASARO (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Enough with the PC correction here. Donald Trump did the right thing. He called it out for what it is.

HARTUNG: The numbers don't lie. New Hampshire is in the throes of a public health crisis. In 2015 only one state had a higher rate of fatal drug overdoses than this one according to the centers for disease control.


HARTUNG: Grant Bossi is the editorial page editor of the "Union Leader," New Hampshire's the only statewide paper.

BOSSI: It's the most serious problem for the past four years and people are frustrated.

HARTUNG: While the opioid crisis has rattled that granite state to its core, Bossi thinks Trump's jarring comments did little to jar the politically savvy people. Live and voted in the state with the first of the nation primary.

BOSSI: I think a lot of people are going to will confirm what they already thought of the President. And if they are fans they love that he is talking about this in the strongest terms possible. If you are not a fan you are going to be insulted again. But on the spectrum of ridiculous things Donald Trump has said, this is pretty low. I think this is the new normal when dealing with President Trump.


HARTUNG: It's not hard to find folks to debate all day long how Donald Trump spoke about the state of New Hampshire. But Ana, what we have found is universal agreement among the people here that what he said, the opioid crisis has hit this state hard and this state is working hard to combat it.

[15:00:02] CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung, such an important subject. Thank you very much.