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Trump Touts 200 Day Mark; Pence Slams 2020 Bid Claims; Russia Probe Can Expand; Chicago Files Suit Over Funding. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 7, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:25] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you so much for being with me on this Monday afternoon.

The president of the United States taking stock and taking aim at his 200th day in the office. He is slamming the 24/7 coverage of what he calls fake news. All the while, my I point out, reading, watching and tweeting about it during his working vacation from his New Jersey golf club.

Here are just a couple of the tweets that he sent out this morning. One was -- the Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before despite some phony fake news reporting. Looking at rallies in Penn., Iowa, Ohio, and West Virginia. The fact is, the fake news Russian collusion story, record stock market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation, and so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change.

And the president not the only one from the White House pushing back against the media here. Vice President Mike Pence is calling this "New York Times" piece disgraceful and offensive. It details how the vice president is positioning himself for a 2020 presidential run if the commander in chief offense opt. We're going to have much more on that in just a second.

But, first, let's go to the White House, to our reporter there, Kaitlan Collins, who is actually in New Jersey following the president there on his 17-day or so vacay.

Kaitlan, you know, the president atwitter this morning. What else did he have to say?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it might be easier, Brooke, to talk about what he didn't say on Twitter this morning. Though the White House is insisting this is a working vacation, there are no public events on the president's schedule today. And he spent most of the morning on Twitter and watching television. We saw him tweet about everything from his accomplishments these 200 days that he's been in office, the, quote, phony poll numbers, and even had personal attacks on Senator Richard Blumenthal after he was interviewed on CNN.

And there was one tweet against a very familiar target of the presidents, and that's "The New York Times." He said, the failing "New York Times," which has made every wrong prediction about me, including my big election win, apologize, is totally inept.

Now that's likely in response to a "New York Times" story yesterday that Mike Pence is positioning himself to run for president in 2020 if Donald Trump himself doesn't run. We've seen a lot of pushback from Mike Pence, the White House and Kellyanne Conway, all on this story.

BALDWIN: All right, Kaitlan, thank you.

Let me just get a little bit more of the vice president's response here to this story in "The New York Times." Quoting Mike Pence, the allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration. It goes on. The American people know that I could not be more honored to be working side by side with a president who is making America great again. Whatever fake news may come our way, our entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him elected in 2020. It goes on. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.

So I have with me now, CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, and CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

Jamie, to you first.

I mean the fact that that took four graphics for the vice president to make a statement here in response to "The New York Times" piece. I know, you know, you have reporting from your sources saying he's very, very sensitive, even just the perception of maybe measuring drapes in the Oval Office.


Look, no vice president wants to ever be seen to be measuring drapes, too anxious, whatever. But Vice President Pence is especially sensitive on this part. And sources have told me repeatedly over the last six months that he is very careful about protocol. He goes to great lengths.

We also heard that the White House knew this story was coming.


GANGEL: And according to a Republican official, that President Trump actually wasn't upset about this. So why did the vice president put out this big statement. Was it because he still has an audience of one, Donald Trump, and wanted him to really know that he's not after this job, or is this another part of the White House strategy to push back, push back, push back.

[14:05:08] BALDWIN: Chris --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Even when the story's true. Even when the story's accurate. And the story's accurate. BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza wrote, in reaction to this story, Pence -- and this is no exaggeration -- went bananas. Pence's overreaction raises a simple question why, and the answer starts with Donald and ends with Trump.

So, Chris Cillizza, you just heard Jamie that the president wasn't upset, apparently. So why do this?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Because I think Jamie also makes the right point, which is, there is -- he may not have been upset, but there is always -- if you're staff for Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike -- Donald Trump views everyone who's not Donald Trump as staff, so that includes Mike Pence. There is only one job and one audience, and it's Donald Trump.

I mean I think Mike Pence -- there's a reason that Mike Pence, of everyone, has not really gotten crosswise with Donald Trump. Think about it. Almost everyone else in his orbit, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, who's not her any more, Anthony Scaramucci's not here anymore. I mean there's a lot list of people who have, for one reason or another, were once loyalists and got crosswise. So they either survived it or they didn't.

Mike Pence hasn't. And the reason is -- and Jamie nails this -- is, he has a very, very keen sense of both protocol and Donald Trump. And he knows that Donald Trump doesn't like any start to burn even close to as bright as Donald Trump. So Pence hitched his wagon the day he took that vice presidential nomination, Brooke, to Donald Trump. The -- his path to the White House is Donald Trump blesses his candidacy, whether that's 2020, 2024, some other time. He is the inheritor of the Trump coalition. That's his only path. And the way that you do that is to make sure that the big guy knows that you're 1,000 percent committed to him at all times everywhere.

BALDWIN: To even mention 2024, like it gives me, you know, shivers, shivers down my spine.

CILLIZZA: Come on. It should make you excited. I love presidential races.

STELTER: Because they're thinking about it.

CILLIZZA: It's a mere seven years off.

BALDWIN: I know. (INAUDIBLE). Oh, my goodness.

I mean, but, Stelter, you had someone on your show on Sunday who -- who was it? I was reading your newsletters, was it last night --

STELTER: Jeff Greenfield (ph).

BALDWIN: Jeff Greenfield who made the point of, my goodness, do we really have to be talking about this?


BALDWIN: And you're saying yes.

STELTER: I think we do have to be talking about it because they're talking about it, because the aides and the donors are talking about it. Because whether the president wants to recognize it or not, there is a chance of a Mike Pence presidency before 2020. There's a lot that could happen between now and 2020. And his aides have to think -- Pence's aides I mean have to think about this stuff.

There's a reason why Pence has set up a super PAC. There's a reason why he's meeting with donors. A lot of reasons. And "The New York Times" story was right.

BALDWIN: But, you know there's pushback on, how could they be setting up a super PAC? The guy is six months in to President Trump's first term.

STELTER: Why did President Trump go ahead and sign his re-election papers very early on in January, because we're in a permanent campaign. We're living in a permanent campaign. This isn't something that Trump started. This has been happening for a while. But it's becoming more and more extreme in this age of really divided country.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Jamie.

GANGEL: And let's put it in the context of the first 200 days.



GANGEL: It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, right? What are the words, dysfunction --

BALDWIN: That's one way to put it. Yes. Yes.

GANGEL: Chaos. So --

STELTER: Yes, everything Pence does has to be with an eye toward, if I become president --


STELTER: Either in 2020 or 2024 or some day --

BALDWIN: But doesn't he want President Trump to succeed? I mean his wagon is hitched to President Trump's, is it not?

GANGEL: Maybe so -- but, look, but if things don't go well -- and I think, by the way, one of the reasons that Vice President Pence put out this statement also was because we have the Russia investigation going on and the recent news about the grand jury. That makes it even more sensitive. It -- you know, if it -- if dysfunction and chaos wasn't enough, what is going to happen with that investigation?

So whether it's Mike Pence or any of these other Republicans who are raising money and visiting Iowa or New Hampshire, if you're an ambitious politician --


GANGEL: And you want to run for president some day --

BALDWIN: You're running -- you're running through. You're running.

GANGEL: You're running.

STELTER: They look at the president's twitter feed and they see something that's wrong. They see that something's wrong. Something's wrong with the president's emotional state. Something's wrong with his wellbeing. Why is he tweeting about a Democratic senator, hurling insults at Blumenthal, instead of -- if he's going to watch CNN, why doesn't he tweet about Poppy Harlow's opioid reporting? Why doesn't he tweet about the epidemic? Why doesn't he tweet about those Marines who are presumed dead off the coast of Australia.

BALDWIN: But he's tweeting about an interview --

STELTER: Instead he's tweeting about "The New York Times" and Blumenthal.


Go ahead -- go ahead, Chris. Just because you're in D.C., we have room for you.

CILLIZZA: Yes, I know. I mean I have to deal -- look at this rain behind me. I mean I'm trying to get through it.

No --


CILLIZZA: I know. I know you feel bad for me. I think the other thing to keep in mind -- Brian touched on this and I do think it's really important, what is the one word if you have -- if you had to think of Donald Trump. You could say cash. You could say unpredictable. So the idea of that, well, why are we talking about 2020 when it's only 2017, sure, you're right. At the same time, and this is someone who has literal rewritten every rule in presidential politics in getting elected president --


[14:10:09] CILLIZZA: And in how he's acted in this first 100 -- 200 days as president rather. So unpredictable is the new predictable. Given that, you have to have some semblance of readiness because if I told you Donald Trump did x-thing, it would be hard, I think, for any of us if we're being reasonable to be terribly surprised by -- given his past. And, therefore, if you are his second in command, why would you not at least keep open the doorway by which you could step in if you needed to, if the unpredictable happens.

BALDWIN: Sure. If, if and if, all plausible. CILLIZZA: Right.

BALDWIN: Cillizza, Chris Cillizza, thank you, and your rain in D.C.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, Jamie Gangel, thank you all so much.

Coming up here, don't call it a fishing expedition. Despite the president's contrast -- constant cries of a witch-hunt, Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein says the focus of the Russia investigation is indeed in bounds and specific. What does that mean for the president's so-called red lines on looking at his finances in this investigation?

Also fighting back today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel saying his city will not be blackmailed by the Department of Justice. Why he is now suing the federal government to keep the agency from withholding millions of dollars he says Chicago needs to fight crime.

And North Korea vows to teach the U.S. to, quote, a severe lesson if the Trump administration uses military force to stop its weapons program. More on the escalating war of words between these two countries, next. You're watching CNN.


[14:15:45] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The deputy attorney general is making one thing clear to President Trump, that the Russia investigation is far from over. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells Fox News the probe into whether the president or any of the his campaign associates colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 election is not a fishing expedition.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Bob Mueller understands, and I understand, the specific scope of the investigation. And so, no, it's not a fishing expedition. If he finds evidence of a crime that's within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of this investigation, then he can. If it's something outside that scope, he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission for expand his investigation.


BALDWIN: Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice reporter, is with me now.

And, you know, you had all this great reporting last week. And in your reporting it showed that the investigation was moving beyond what the president conceded as a red line. But listening to Rosenstein, I mean he made it quite clear that everything Bob Mueller has done thus far is within the scope. SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, it certainly

would appear that way. And anyone who knows Bob Mueller knows he doesn't do things just for the sake of doing it. You know, everyone will tell you there is a strategic move to all of this. And really, in the end, Brooke, the power granted to Mueller by Rod Rosenstein says any matters within the scope of the investigation, and really in the end Mueller is really the decider of what's in the scope.

Now, Brooke, as to our reporting, you know, this is all focused on the financial connections of the Russians and the people inside the Trump world. We've been told that seem to be a more concrete path going forward. Now, whether or not there's any prosecutable offense is still being determined, but investigators to go down this past have had to find pieces of information that are worth scrutinizing. This is some of the real estate properties, connections from the Miss Universe contest in 2013, which was held in Moscow, and the various meetings that we have all been reporting on.

And, you know, investigators are looking at all this to figure out what was the relationship here was and was anything inappropriate. And, you know, also keep in mind, there are all these intercepted communications that we've been reporting on for months between the Russians that were captured by U.S. intelligence. And this is all painted a picture of potential collusion. So naturally for Mueller and his team, like any investigation, following the money, whether the president agrees with it or not, is an important part of this.

BALDWIN: All fair game within the scope, at least according to Rod Rosenstein over the weekend.

Shimon, keep digging. Thank you so much.

PROKUPECZ: Thanks (ph).

BALDWIN: With me now, Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and also the former special assistant at the Justice Department to none other than Bob Mueller.

So, Michael Zeldin, always a pleasure, first and foremost.

And just your reaction to Rosenstein coming out Sunday morning and saying Mueller can look into any crimes in the Russia investigation if he finds evidence of said crime.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So it seems as if Mueller and Rosenstein are on the same page. Back in May, Rosenstein gives Mueller a mandate. It says, look into links and coordination between Russian government and Trump campaign and matters which arose or might arise directly out of it. So it's a pretty straightforward mandate and Rosenstein has reiterated that there's no confusion between him and Mueller as to what that means.

So he wanted to make that clear to those who are sort of already putting out political lines about this being a fishing expedition. He's comfortable. Mueller is comfortable. They know where their swim lane is and they're acting within it. BALDWIN: So you say straightforward. But, again, when you think, listen to that, any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, that's pretty wide latitude. How is that determined?

ZELDIN: Well, it's determined by Mueller, and Rosenstein. So Mueller says to himself, I want to look into whether or not people are lying on their SF-86. That may be a matter that arises out of the it because it may be part of a cover-up. I want to look into whether or not there was sort of a quid pro quo. I'll lend you money when you need it. When I come and ask for it later on, you'll removed sanctions. So we can look into those sort of things.

[14:20:02] If he finds something that's say completely unrelated, someone engaged in tax evasion, then I think he would go to Rosenstein and say, hey, look, there's evidence here of a possible tax evasion crime. Do you want to give it to the criminal division or the tax division to handle or do you want me to figure it out myself? And then Rosenstein and Mueller will make a decision.

So it's not complicated stuff. And the rules are pretty set forward in the code of federal regulations.

BALDWIN: OK. He also made it clear that the DOJ could prosecute anybody for leaks, including people inside the White House and Congress. Listen.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we need to look at in every leak refer we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leak? What were the circumstances? That's more important to us than who it is who is the leaker. So we identify somebody no matter what their position is. If they violated the law, in that case warrants prosecution, we'll prosecute it.


BALDWIN: So that's important to note, first of all, that's a total departure from what we heard, you know, from the A.G. on Friday, who suggested he would subpoena journalists. But with regard, Michael, to, you know, leaks from the White House and Congress, how tough would it be to prosecute some of the more senior officials who may be the leakers?

ZELDIN: Well, first you have to define what we're talking about when we say a leak. Because a leak is really, for prosecution standards, a dissemination of classified information in an unauthorized way. And so if I say -- if I'm a White House staffer and I say, you know, I don't like this policy and I'm going to tell somebody about it, then I may be a whistle-blower and not a leaker. If I refuse to follow directions and leak something, I may be a leaker and I may be prosecutable.

So you have to sort of slice these things pretty carefully. I think the A.G., not Rosenstein, was pretty loose in his use of the word leakers. And I think leakers are classified violations, and I think that's what Rosenstein is talking about. And so whether you can prove it is a very difficult proposition, which is why people who have sought leak investigations have generally run into rabbit holes and not been very successful.

BALDWIN: OK, Michael Zeldin, thank you so much. See you next time.

ZELDIN: See you next time.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, Chicago hitting back at the Trump administration, suing the Justice Department over its threat to withhold millions of federal dollars over Chicago's sanctuary city status. The mayor's reason for going toe to toe with the feds.

Plus, North Korea vows 1,000-fold revenge on the U.S. after the United Nations leveled harsh, new sanctions against the reclusive regime. What Pyongyang says is absolutely off the negotiating table, next.


[14:26:54] BALDWIN: The city of Chicago fighting back against the Department of Justice and the Trump administration over funding of so- called sanctuary cities, formally filing a lawsuit today against the federal government. At stake here is billions of dollars that could be cut from cities unless they assist with all federal immigration enforcement.

So let's go to Chicago to our correspondent there, Ryan Young.

And, so, Ryan, what is Mayor Emanuel's argument against cooperating with the feds here?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, this is a big conversation, Brooke. We know that Donald Trump, President Donald Trump, has been taking swings at Chicago for quite some time when it comes to crime, saying, look, the murder rate needs to come down. You know before long Rahm was going to take a swing back. And this comes down to sanctuary cities. The idea that they would have to report to the federal when they have someone who has a questionable background in terms of immigration.

Look, the argument here in the city is that when someone calls 911, they don't want people to be scared about the idea of stepping forward and giving information to the police. And that there's a large immigrant community here in Chicago and they don't want people on that side of town or anywhere in the city of Chicago to feel that they can't call 911 when there is trouble. In fact, listen to the mayor passionately talking about this this morning.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: The fact is, by forcing us or the police department to choose between the values of the city and the philosophy of the police department of community policing, I think it's a false choice and it actually undermines or actual public safety agenda. And so we're going to be filing a case saying that the Justice Department is wrong both on constitutional legal grounds, the federal government cannot coerce a city to change its policy.


YOUNG: And, Brooke, look, the federal government's already firing back. There's a DOJ statement today that says, in 2016, more Chicagoans were murdered than in New York City and Los Angeles combined. So it's especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago's law enforcement at greater risk.

And when we talked to the police department, they say as well, they want to make sure that people aren't afraid to call 911. If they call 911 for a reason, they shouldn't be worried about their immigration status.

Now, what the federal government wants, especially in a city like this one is, when someone is brought in, they want I.C.E. agents to have the ability to talk to them before they are released. So you have this back and forth conversation, this resistance that's here in the city. You know it won't be over because people are wondering whether more cities may join Chicago's fight against this Donald Trump plan at the DOJ. So we'll have to see what happens. But so far the fight started here in Chicago.

BALDWIN: The battle has begun.

Ryan Young, thank you, in Chicago for me.

Coming up next, some strong pushback from North Korea after the U.N. imposes tough new sanctions over the country, over missile tests. What Pyongyang says will result in a severe lesson for the U.S. That's next.

Also the governor of Minnesota calls it an act of terrorism. A mosque bombed over the weekend. Why my guest says these attacks against Muslims are being met with a collective yawn.