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Justice Department To Crack Down On Leaks; CNN Sheds Spotlight On America's Opioid Epidemic; Military Action In North Korea? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 7, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:15] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department says anybody can be prosecuted for leaks, including White House staff and members of Congress.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein echoing Attorney General Jeff Sessions' promise to crack down on leakers -- listen.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we need to look at in every leak referral 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 if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we'll prosecute it.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Including White House officials and members of Congress?

ROSENSTEIN: Including anybody who breaks the law.


KEILAR: Anybody who breaks the law.

Joining me to talk more about this now is Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sir, thank you so much --


KEILAR: -- for being on NEW DAY this morning.

You heard that from Rod Rosenstein. He also said separately we are after leakers, not reporters, but there is a review of the media subpoena process in the Department of Justice that is part of this. Who do you see as in the crosshairs here?

BLUMENTHAL: Government officials who break the law by disclosing classified information endangering national security and violating the criminal law certainly should be pursued and prosecuted.

But I'm very concerned that the Department of Justice is weaponizing these laws for its personal and political ends and, specifically, for the White House's purposes.

And that includes the announcement by the attorney general that he's going to be reviewing the guidelines that essentially establish standards for when reporters can be subpoenaed or when information can be sought from them.

And that's a chilling effect on the press and on whistleblowers, and on information that doesn't involve classified data or disclosures but, in fact, may be just embarrassing or unwelcomed. And what would we know, for example, about Michael Flynn, what would we know about the president's financial dealings, but for the press doing its work?

KEILAR: They're talking about classified information and we've heard even from Jeh Johnson, former Obama secretary, who said it's out of control. This is different than he's ever seen, the leaks.

If there is this problem, is -- why not confront this when you're talking about classified information?

BLUMENTHAL: When there is classified information there's a strong argument to pursue the government officials, not the reporters, and that's different from information that may simply be embarrassing.

[07:35:00] KEILAR: And you worry -- you're worried that gets caught up in the net here?

BLUMENTHAL: Exactly right, and politicizing the Department of Justice for personal ends,I think is a disservice to the law and it's also potentially a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment.

Remember, what we know about the Trump administration, so far, has been the result of very good reporting. I believe when the history of this era is written the heroes will be the free press and the independent judiciary who have upheld the rule of law against threats by the Trump administration.

KEILAR: Let's talk North Korea U.N. sanctions -- new U.N. sanctions and we just heard from the North Korean government. They said that nuclear weapons will not be on the negotiating table.

So you look at these new sanctions but there's this question about whether there's really going to be any effect. Are you worried about this war of words that we're seeing between the Trump administration as they consider even this option, having it on the table, of a military -- a military option?

BLUMENTHAL: I'm worried that the Trump administration will fail to enforce these sanctions, not an easy task. It has to involve China and Russia, just as enforcement against Iran of sanctions there had to be supported and encouraged by Congress and members of the Senate, like myself, who put the Obama administration to enforce sanctions.

They are only real if shipments of coal and other energy are stopped and, most important, financial institutions are enlisted to stop the flow of financial support to North Korea.

KEILAR: On Russia -- and we talk so much about Russia but I wonder what you mean -- or what you think when you're looking at the upcoming midterm elections. So many Democratic strategists are out there saying look, this isn't what is keeping voters up at night. We talk a lot about Russia but they're worried about jobs.

Are you worried that Democrats using this criticism line of Republicans is actually going to backfire on them?

BLUMENTHAL: Not backfire, but absolutely right that the American people are concerned about the economy, job creation. Not only employment but fair compensation for what they do, and good jobs and benefits, and how they are doing and how their children are going to do in this economy.

But the Russia investigation -- the empanelment of the grand jury shows that Bob Mueller is pursuing this potential wrongdoing by the Russians, the attack on our democracy, seriously and diligently.

And there is no minimizing or underestimating that attack by the Russians. It was purposeful and relentless and it involved propaganda and hacking into our voting machines, or at least an attempt to do it. And potential collusion by the Trump campaign, and then obstruction of justice.

That investigation must be pursued.

KEILAR: And discussed in all important topics but that isn't the message that Democrats are putting out there. They're saying what you're saying. They're not talking about jobs and inspiring voters at this point in time to look at them as an alternative on these kitchen table issues that really drive people to the ballot box.

BLUMENTHAL: The fact is we are talking about a better deal, about economic inclusiveness, about better pay for good jobs.

And the Democratic caucus in the United States Senate has just unveiled a very specific program for building infrastructure and creating greater fairness in taxes, lower pharmaceutical drug prices, and health care costs, generally. Hard to cut through but we are pushing that mandate as part of what we as Democrats are offering to the American people.

But this grand jury investigation also involves the rule of law and fundamentally, Americans care --


BLUMENTHAL: -- about the rule of law.

And so, protecting Bob Mueller -- through the legislation that a group of us on a bipartisan basis offered last week, requiring a three-judge panel -- if the president threatens to fire Bob Mueller, I think it's very important to protect and safeguard the independence and integrity of that investigation.

KEILAR: Obviously, very -- in your purview as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Chris --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brianna.

There's a lot of talk about what can unite our lawmakers and drive some action. Well, here's something that should be at the top of the list, the opioid epidemic.

I mean, you know this. It's just taking time for our government to react to the reality. Everybody knows somebody who's getting hit by these new waves of heroin offshoots.

[07:40:00] Everybody is being affected, including a sheriff's wife. Take a listen.


ROBERT LEAHY, SHERIFF, CLERMONT COUNTY, OHIO: It will take a family and turn it upside down.


LEAHY: Absolutely.

HARLOW: It broke your family apart.



CUOMO: So, there's Poppy Harlow and she is doing something that's going to be really helpful to the dialogue on this issue.

A special report that's called "Hooked: America's Addicts." A look at all the range of people who are affected by this poison, next.


CUOMO: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is speaking out on the opioid crisis on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." One of the main recommendations from the White House in the form of

its opioid commission that he's heading is to declare opioid addiction and overdoses a national emergency. Take a listen.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We've gotten really good response from the White House and, quite frankly, from the public in terms of our recommendations. And I'm confident that the president will accept the recommendations of this commission.


CHRISTIE: Well, as dramatic language, what that would do is increase the priority of funding and additional resources to this problem.

KEILAR: That's right. And a CNN special report "Hooked: America's Addicts" is looking at the opioid crisis and how no one is really immune, from the high school cheerleader who got hooked at 15 to fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.


LISA STOKESBURY, 20-YEAR-OLD STEPSON DIED FROM OPIOID OVERDOSE: It is ravaging every single segment of our society. This is a chemical almost warfare on us that people don't know how to control.

[07:45:10] HARLOW (voice-over): The high school cheerleader addicted at 15. The 20-year-old baseball player dead. These fathers now inmates because of their addiction. And even the sheriff's former wife addicted.

This is the real picture of America's opioid crisis where drugs don't discriminate. It's infesting neighborhoods across the heartland and from coast to coast.

HARLOW (on camera): How does a 15-year-old cheerleader from Ohio start doing heroin?

RACHEL CHAFFIN, ADDICTED TO HEROIN AT 15 YEARS OLD: Like, I started my freshman year and I was doing drugs. I was cheerleading. Well, I ended up like not going to school as much and I ended up getting kicked off the cheerleading team.

JUDGE ANTHONY CAPIZZI, JUVENILE COURT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO: I tell my kids when they come to my treatment court you have three options in my court. You graduate from treatment court, you're going to prison, or you're going to be dead.

HARLOW (voice-over): Death, jail or recovery, the only options for the millions of Americans now addicted to opioids, from prescription pain pills like Oxycodone to street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

DR. KENT HARSHBARGER, CORONER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO: Since the end of December 2016, we have seen an amazing alarming increase in the number of accidental overdose deaths. HARLOW (on camera): I do think that there is still a feeling across the country thinking that it's so tragic that that can't happen to me, and that's not in my neighborhood, and that's not in my house, and that's not in my family.


STOKESBURY: You're naive if you think that because it's everywhere.

HARLOW: These are the families living heroin's hell and watching their dreams and their children's dreams slip away.


KEILAR: And joining us now with more on this special report is CNN anchor Poppy Harlow.

Poppy, they talk about that -- the stigma, in a way --


KEILAR: -- of people not talking about it might contribute to why we haven't heard much about the epidemic until, in a way, after it's become such a problem. There's obituaries where we have young men and we have no idea, necessarily, why they died but their families do.

HARLOW: Because it's an overdose and their parents are embarrassed to tell people that, and that is what these families pleaded with us.

I think our goal in all this, guys, was to show America that no one is immune. That this is a humanitarian crisis in this country -- the human toll -- and that it can happen in any neighborhood.

I mean, you know, we talked to these inmates in jail who, thank goodness, are getting treatment. They are being treated in jail instead of just being locked up. And one of them told us when I went up to my dealer so did businessmen in suits, in Lexus's and Mercedes.

This hits every race, every age group, every socioeconomic level.

CUOMO: You know, I'm sadly much older than you guys. We have been looking at this for well over a decade.


CUOMO: Nobody has ever seen a drug -- methamphetamine -- crack was close, but no drug has saturated different markets in different ways beyond detection and has the kill ratio that these new synthetic opioids do, mainly in the form of fentanyl.

This is very helpful and the network's going to be doing a lot of stuff --


CUOMO: -- about this which is good, but you have to show people how broad it can be.


CUOMO: It's not someone that you never heard of. It's not someone who's weak and makes bad choices. It could be your kid.

HARLOW: And I think people are scared. I mean, a have a 13-year-old nephew. How do you talk to someone that age about this? How do I talk to my daughter when she's a little bit older?

You have to because this happening in middle school to them and if you don't talk to them, who's going to talk to them?

CUOMO: They're hearing about it more than you know and if you don't shake the message you lose to the message.

HARLOW: Thanks, guys.

CUOMO: Poppy, good work, important work. You can see Poppy's piece "Hooked: America's Addicts" later this morning on "CNN NEWSROOM" at 10:30 Eastern.

Just as important, go online, You're going to see all of the reporting there and it will be a building trove of helping in this matter.

KEILAR: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says no option is off the table when it comes to North Korea. Could the U.S. be considering a preemptive strike? Two military insiders will discuss with us, next.


[07:53:22] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "MSNBC SATURDAYS": How concerned should the American people be that we are actually on the brink of a war with North Korea?

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think what -- I think it's impossible to overstate the danger associated with this. But I think it's impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime.


CUOMO: Hugh Hewitt talking with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on the nuclear threat from North Korea.

North Korea, this morning, vowing to retaliate against the U.S. over these new U.N. sanctions unanimously voted on and says they won't put their nuclear missiles on the negotiating table.

All right. So let's discuss the urgency of that situation, what can be done, and a little bit of context on where we are 200 days into the Trump administration. CNN military analyst Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, and former deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and author of "Besieged," Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata.

It's good to have you both with us.



CUOMO: So, Gen. Hertling, let's start with H.R. McMaster, some context on North Korea.

We get a lot of mixed messaging here, not from McMaster but that OK, the Trump administration has made North Korea more of a priority. You can't underestimate how dangerous this would be if they can reach the homeland, it's unstable. The U.N. votes unanimously for these sanctions.

And then we hear expert after expert say but they probably won't do anything. And China getting behind them means they're probably not that effective because what you really need is China and Iran to back off and Russia to repatriate workers and do real things that would hurt North Korea, and that's not going to happen.

[07:55:05] Is that the state the way you see it, General? Is that how kind of caught we are in not making progress?

HERTLING: Well, it's a tough situation, Chris. But first of all, I think there was some very good advances this week and this past weekend, especially this weekend.

Ambassador Haley and the U.N. did some magnificent work in getting that 15 to zero vote. That's not only a diplomatic advancement but it's also an informational one. The world is standing up against KJU.

The other things that are happening is there is, although many people will say it's not enough, this economic sanction not only in the U.N. vote but also in the sanctions bill that was signed last week, is tremendously advancing the move toward generating some action against North Korea.

As Gen. McMaster said, you know, the comments about what's going on with the military -- the potential for using military actions is still on the table. All of those things are sending a signal. Is it enough? Yes, I don't know.

This is increasingly complex. We are at an inflection point with North Korea. They've got to be made to stop doing missile testing and nuclear testing without warning anyone.

CUOMO: What's your take on this, Gen. Tata, in terms of yes, this is great as Gen. Hertling says. You got your 15 to nothing in the U.N. Nikki Haley certainly marshaling the consensus, or helping to marshal a consensus.But that at the end of the day it doesn't change the -- it doesn't change the math. It doesn't change the pressure dynamic going on with North Korea.

TATA: Chris, I think you're explaining exactly why H.R. McMaster said what he said. You've got to have preventive war as an option -- as a range of flexible deterrent options from a show of force all the way up to a total combat on the table because, you know, the truth is that China in the first quarter of 2017, they were -- their export-import with North Korea grew by 37 percent.

So, China's face-saving move with the international community to vote for these sanctions is really nothing more than really an information show, in my opinion.

China and Russia continue to support North Korea and they want -- what they want to do is fight by proxy the U.S. through North Korea. It is the new paradigm for cold war in this era that China and Russia are using North Korea to bleed our treasure as we marshal military forces to do what we need to do to protect our homeland consistent with our national security strategy.

CUOMO: Yes. As Gordon Chang just said when he was on the show, yes, the problem is the North Korea missiles but how about those Chinese missile launchers that are carrying them, you know, to the sites. That obviously matters just as much.

All right. Let me get you gentlemen's take on something else here 200 days in.

And, Gen. Hertling, as you know, we have a little bit of a unique situation here on NEW DAY. The President of the United States is often watching. He seems to be this morning. He's been commenting on the program.

So my question is this. Two hundred days in there does seem to be an as yet unfulfilled need to hear from our president directly to the American people and lawmakers what the plans are in different inflection points in our foreign strategy. The military plan for Afghanistan.

His argument for the authorization for the use of military force which is finally apparently going to be debated in Congress as we're still operating under a 2001 recommendation from Congress.

What do we still need to hear from the President of the United States on the issues that matter in terms of foreign policy and military incursion?

HERTLING: Well, just as you said, Chris. Exactly those things.

And I want to go back to Korea as the first one on that agenda. You know, what I would suggest, as your military analyst, is a war on the peninsula in the 21st century would be like -- unlike anything we've ever seen before in terms of the massive artillery strikes that may occur and the massive humanitarian disaster. There are over 30,000 U.S. forces on the ground in North Korea, most of them near the -- or, I'm sorry, in South Korea near the border with North Korea. There are over 100,000 U.S. expats in Seoul and in and around Seoul. And there are 10 and a half million people, Koreans, in Seoul itself. So anything we might do as a preemptive strike would be very dangerous.

And I think the president does have to say what is our end state, what is our objective. Is it to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons, is it to stop their missile launchers, or is it to have conversation with them and be very clear about that?

The same thing with Afghanistan. There should be a determined end state. We have been at this war for 17 years. You know, the continual use of the number of forces as a judge of the strategy is not a good idea. Many of us in the military have been saying that for years.

You have to say what are we attempting to achieve there. Is it the total reversal to the Afghan president and prime minister?