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CNN Poll: Trump Losing Support from His Base; NYT: Government Report Cites Impact of Climate Change; Trump Retweets Report with Classified Info; Interview with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired August 8, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow, so glad you are with us.
We begin this hour with a new low for President Trump. His lowest job approval rating yet in CNN polling, 38 percent of Americans, only 38 percent approve of the job the president is doing, compared to 56 percent who disapprove. Since modern polling began, only one other president had a job approval rating below 50 percent 6 months into the job. That was Bill Clinton back in the early 90s at 44 percent.
Here is part of the president's problem. 6 in 10 Americans do not consider him honest or trustworthy. And almost 3 out of 4 say they do not trust most of what is coming out of the White House these days.
Let's go straight to our CNN political director David Chalian to breakdown these numbers. That is stunning. And we'll get to the drop off in his base support in a moment. But the fact that you have 73 percent of Americans, do not trust what is coming out of this White House, including a large portion of Republicans, David.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Poppy, this is a credibility crisis. This is the Trump trust deficit with the American people. Take a look at that number when we break it out by party.
You can see Democrats obviously have entirely tuned out. They don't trust anything, 93 percent. Independents, a group he won in the election November, look how much skewed against than they are in terms of believing what is coming out of this White House. But the Republican number is the one that means everything right now to this White House. Because it shows that half of Republicans, 48 percent are saying, no, they don't trust some or anything at all of what's coming out of the White House in official statements. These folks are the ones that should be completely with the president. That is slight erosion in his core support.
HARLOW: And it's striking. When we look, also, at some of what has been his core base that he's talked about, David. I mean, not just Republicans, but also white, non-college educated, that is also hurting. CHALIAN: It is. Look here. What we are looking here is just Republicans. Over time, those that told us they strongly approve of the president's job performance. In February, 73 percent of Republicans said they strongly approve. In March, it was 69 percent. Now, that number is down to 59 percent, Poppy, 59 percent of Republicans who strongly approve.
Now, remember, his overall approval rating with Republicans is at 83 percent. It's not robust or great to be with your own party down in the low 80s, but it is better than we've seen in some other polls. But 59 percent of Republicans saying they strongly support. That gets to sort of how people feel passionate about it and he is losing ground on that strong support among his fellow partisans.
HARLOW: The tweeting habits. And you know about the same number actually, David, of folks who say, you know, it's fine that he's tweeting also say this. That it's risky.
CHALIAN: Yes. That's an important note, Poppy. You're right. A great, overwhelming majority says, yes, this is a way to go get your message out. But in overwhelming majority, says it's risky and I think we see that day in and day out from the president.
Today, he's retweeting an unsubstantiated story based on potentially classified info and anonymous sources about North Korea. This is what the country is now seeing as, yes, he does this as a way to get around it. But there is a huge risk associated with this. And I think that goes back to the credibility issue we talked about at the top.
HARLOW: And also, though, there is bright spot here for this White House and really for the American people. And that is that more Americans think things are going well in the country than don't, right?
CHALIAN: Yes, 53 percent, a majority do see the country headed on the right track right now. It is the one -- the good number I could find for the president that the country is feeling good about where it is. The majority of the country is feeling good about where things are headed. That seems to be a position that Americans are holding apart from how they are sort of grading the president's performance at the 200-day mark.
HARLOW: I think that's why you hear the president talking so much about these job numbers and the stock market right now because he knows that that certainly resonates.
David Chalian, thank you my friend.
CHALIAN: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: As the White House battles these credibility issues that David just outlined. It may also be at odds with its own research. That its own government research. There's a new big story, "New York Times" front page above the fold, headline here, scientists from 13 federal agencies are reporting that climate change, not only real, right? We knew that. But that it is significantly impacting the United States already in the last four decades. Especially, compare that with these 2012 tweets from the sitting president.
"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
Let's talk to the woman who penned the piece. Lisa Friedman of "The New York Times" is here. And Lisa, it is nice to have you.
[10:05:01] So, let's just talk about the headline here, the draft report. This is 13 - these are scientists from 13 different federal agencies. This is a report that leaked out. Found its way into your hands as it awaits approval, rubber stamped publication from the White House.
LISA FRIEDMAN, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. Hi. Thank you so much for having me.
This report is a special science report that is part of the National Climate Assessment. The National Climate Assessment is mandated by Congress to come out every four years. That presumably will come out next year.
This report brings the country and really the world up to date on the state of climate science right now. You know, inside the scientific community, this report was widely known -- we say in the piece that you know the National Academy of Sciences recently reviewed it. Hundreds of scientists have commented, peer reviewed this report, but it hadn't made its way into the public eye. And as the date neared for the administration to either sign off or not, they will have to by August 18th. Scientists were increasingly worried that it would never get out.
HARLOW: So, help me understand this because Rene Marsh, my colleague who covers all things government regulation. We were talking this morning. And she did point out that this is a further draft of an earlier draft of this that did appear online for public consumption for that public review period from December through February of this year.
Now, my question to you is, since there was a public review of an earlier draft of this. It is not that significantly different, we hear, than this draft. Help me explain the concern among scientists. Why they felt like they needed to leak this out, get this - I mean, on the front page of "The New York Times" if there was already something of it out there already.
FRIEDMAN: Sure. I think there's a big difference between something being available in the bells of -- a government website for scientists to look at and comment upon and peer review than getting out in the public. So, what the administration -- what any administration chooses to do with this report or reports like these are often a political decision, right?
I mean, you could see, for example, under the Obama administration, which made climate change a priority, the release of this report -- being embraced and there being, perhaps, a Rose Garden ceremony to announce it. You might think that, perhaps, in the George W. Bush administration, which also had shared concerns about the science of climate change. It might be put out but not - but without fanfare.
In this case, enough scientists were worried that it wouldn't never really get out at all. That they felt the need to make sure -- that this was seen broadly by the public.
HARLOW: And finally, I may have missed it, reading your report. So enlighten us. But I didn't see a comment from the White House on this one. Are they saying anything? Because they are the ones that have to sign off on this to make a public -- you said, next week.
FRIEDMAN: The White House still has not commented on the report.
FRIEDMAN: And the E.P.A. does not comment on leaked reports.
HARLOW: All right. Let us know what you hear if you do get a comment. Lisa Friedman, thank you.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
HARLOW: The president says his base is stronger than ever, closer than ever. But the new CNN poll tells a very different story.
Also, the president has, time and time again, slammed unnamed sources. But apparently, this morning, proves he has no problem tweeting them. We'll tell you about that.
Also, ahead for us this hour the heroin addiction that ripped a father away from his children. Now, former heroin addict father reunites with his 12-year-old son for the first time in a decade.
HARLOW (on camera): Of course, you thought about all that the heroin took away from you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It took my whole life from me.
HARLOW (on camera): All your children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them.
[10:13:16] HARLOW: While many supporters elected the president to bring radical change to Washington, a brand new CNN poll shows belief that he can bring needed change is now waning. 43 percent believe he can bring the change that's needed. That is down from April.
There are a lot of other numbers to dig in here, including the trust factor. Let's bring in our panel. Jonathan Lemire is a White House reporter for the "Associated Press" and CNN political commentators Kevin Madden and Bakari Sellers are here. Kevin, because you have worked -- on Republican teams and Republican administrations, you worked as Mitt Romney's chief spokesperson during the 2012 campaign. This issue of trust that showed -- let's show everyone, that got only 24 percent of Americans believe what's coming out of the White House. And even more stunningly, among your own party members, only 53 percent of Republicans actually believe what's coming out of the White House. 48 percent of Republicans do not. How problematic is this for the administration?
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I think the main challenge there is using that bully pulpit to really drive and martial public opinion behind your agenda. I think that's where these things have stayed in. And nobody watches these polls as acutely and as closely as folks up on Capitol Hill.
So, when you are trying to, you know, rally the votes for Obamacare repeal or if you're going to be rallying the votes for a big ticket item on your economic agenda, making sure that the White House recognizes that you have this large degree of political capital to martial public opinion behind your agenda. And then, martial other votes up on Capitol Hill in order to get something passed. That's where having that lack of trust or those low numbers really does hinder your ability to get things done.
HARLOW: That's a big deal. I mean, not only does it show that you have got a confidence gap with the American people - but it hurts you in trying to get those legislative points on the board.
[10:15:01] Jonathan, to you, because you cover specifically, also, national security, you just wrote an article about it today and the president's foreign policy. Look at this number when it comes to how people think the president is doing on foreign affairs, 61 percent disapproval.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": That's right. And what we are seeing here is sort of a divide in the White House as they go forward on issues of foreign policy. We know there's real conflict between the National Security adviser H.R. McMaster, the White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in sort of a battle for the heart of what this White House wants to do on foreign affairs, whether that is the Iran nuclear deal or the Afghanistan war strategy.
And certainly, I think, when the public sees a division within a White House on what to do. That erodes some confidence in their ability to handle this. And perhaps, sends a worrisome signal to America's allies as well.
HARLOW: Bakari Sellers, to you, there is a number in here that is good news for the White House. Here it is. 53 percent of Americans think things in the country are going well. Now you've got to argue, that has something to do with the jobs numbers and unemployment being at a 16-year low, the stock market is at record highs. So, credit for the White House on that number?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, for most of us, we just say thank you, Obama. We started to see this trend of the economy getting better over the past eight years under the Obama White House and I think Americans -
HARLOW: Yes, but this isn't month one, Bakari. This isn't month one. This is six months in.
SELLERS: So, are we going to discredit the last eight years of economic growth?
HARLOW: No, who's doing that. I'm asking you, does the president get some credit for 53 percent of Americans thinking things are going well?
SELLERS: Fine. I mean, if we want to give the president credit for that, then so be it. I do think, though, that the president is riding a wave and it happens all the time. When good things happen on your term, you can take credit for -- during the first six months to a year of your administration. When bad things happen, you have to take those things as well.
But the fact is, the president's other numbers I don't think really are that detrimental to him. I know that's kind of contrary -- to what most Democrats will say. But the president wasn't trusted before the election. People often times say, he didn't have the temperament. There are overwhelming majority of voters said he didn't have the temperament to be president. Yet they still voted for him there.
The reason that he's having problems is not because of these polling numbers. The reason he's having problem is because people aren't seeing tangible change in their lives. Republicans can tout Neil Gorsuch all they want, but until people start seeing real legislative accomplishments, real accomplishments with our foreign policy goals and achievements, then the president is going to be in this rut and divot.
So, the president can take credit and we can all give the president credit for Barack Obama's economic policy. But at the end of the day, that's not going to soothe or win over those voters who he promised the moon to.
HARLOW: Kevin, that's a really interesting point from Bakari. You know, I mean, he's right, that there wasn't a trust gap for the president - I mean, not this wide. There were temperament concerns and he won.
MADDEN: Yes. I think Bakari is right. It is a question of what have you done for me lately.
Look, I think the number that Bakari points out about the people feeling that the country is going in the right direction is very significant. What that, I think, reflects is the shift in priorities that the American people feel has taken place under President Trump. They feel like they are being listened to and the concerns that they have had for a long time about the economy or national security are finally being addressed. So, I think the president gets a great deal of credit for having, you know, having connected that gap between Washington's priorities were and the American public were. But now, that number can still be very tenuous. Until the president starts to deliver on some big ticket items that he has promised, folks will feel like they were overpromised and under delivered when it comes to the promises that he made during the campaign.
So, that is the challenge for this White House. I think the president also has to seize on that optimism that the American public has right now about the economy. And start to draft off it when it comes to talking about everything from the economy to national security.
HARLOW: Jonathan, I've got 30 seconds but I want to get you in. Final thought?
LEMIRE: I think though that some of his weaker numbers is sending a signal to other Republicans. We are seeing in the last week or two, Senator Flake, Governor Kasich, making noise, challenging him about perhaps even laying the groundwork for 2020. We've had the vice president out there having to deny reports that he's thinking about 2020. And I think the anger in his denial was clearly directing to an audience of one, his boss in the White House.
HARLOW: Thank you very much Jonathan, Kevin, Bakari. We appreciate it.
Just hours after blasting the media, many times, he says for using unnamed sources, the president, himself, this morning, chooses to retweet a story about North Korea containing classified intelligence based on unnamed sources. We'll give you all the details, next.
[10:20:14] HARLOW: As tensions with North Korea reach very high point, President Trump, this morning, retweeted a Fox News story about U.S. spy satellites that they say detected North Korean anti-ship cruise missiles. CNN, to be clear, has not confirmed this reporting by Fox, but what is notable is that the report contains classified information from two unnamed sources. Unnamed sources are things that the president has railed against. And again, the president retweeted this story, just hours later U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was on Fox News. She was asked by their anchors about the reporting. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can't talk about anything that's classified. And if that's in the newspaper, that's a shame.
It's incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that. You are not only just getting a scoop on something. You're playing with people's lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [10:25:06] HARLOW: Barbara Starr joins us now from the Pentagon. And Barbara, you have some actual substantive details on what this report means, et cetera. What can you tell us?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, let's be clear, a president can declassify anything he wants, not at all clear if President Trump knew that the details in that article might have been classified. But we do know that the president's very concerned about North Korea and gets classified briefings on it multiple times a week. This is at the top of his agenda.
We know that the U.S. is focusing on trying to get a diplomatic solution as North Koreans continue their weapons testing. But this type of activity by the North Koreans described here, while very important is not the intercontinental ballistic missile, the threat that North Korea can pose to the United States directly with long range missiles tucked with a nuclear warhead. This is about anti-ship cruise missiles. Shorter range could be very active in that region. It's something that South Korean's of course want to keep an eye on if there's North Korean shipping out there with these missiles on board if the North Koreans test these kinds of missiles at sea, always looking for any kind of North Korean provocation at sea.
So, it is important. It is significant. But I think it's really important to understand that this is not the front line threat that the United States is trying to deal with right now on a global international scale. This is a program, a weapons program that North Koreans have and they have many shorter range much different. Poppy?
HARLOW: Much different. That's important to note. Barbara Starr, thank you very much, at the Pentagon for us.
Joining me now, Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida, he's a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It's nice to have you with us again Congressman. And let's begin with what you just heard. The president chose this morning to retweet a Fox News article, citing two unnamed sources. That's one thing because he's railed against unnamed sources. Put that aside for a moment.
It's also something that's classified information that his own U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told Fox News this morning after the president retweeted it, that it is dangerous and a shame that that is in the newspaper. Was it appropriate for the president to do that?
REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I think, generally, with Intel, the less said, the better. The less North Korea knows what we know about them the better. I remember we had the same discussion when "WikiLeaks" came out with a lot of people's lives were put in jeopardy by disclosures of people that were involved in the intelligence gathering business. And so, it would be better to say nothing, I think.
HARLOW: Sounds like it concerns you to see the president do this. Does it? ROONEY: Well, the big story here is that the world is realizing the nature of the menace of Kim Jong-un. Now we have U.N. sanctions that include China and Russia and Minister Lavrov saying that he needs to denuclearize. So, there's a bigger story going on that's a little more positive than anything we've seen lately about North Korea.
HARLOW: So, given the fact that North Korea, this morning, threatened to use, in their words, physical action, to respond to the unanimous sanctions, additional sanctions placed by the U.N. on North Korea. How much confidence do you have in the administration's response thus far? What would you advise them to do next?
ROONEY: Well, I think that Secretary Tillerson did a very good thing when he made it clear, we didn't care about regime change that we cared about stopping the nuclear program. And that takes away any kind of argument that anyone might have that we are seeking to do more harm to North Korea that needs to be there to get them back in the community of nations. 16 years of discussions with North Korea without making them stop their nuclear program first have been fruitless. So I think we need to --
HARLOW: But how would you do that?
ROONEY: -- do what Secretary Tillerson is saying.
HARLOW: If we're months away, potentially, from North Korea having the capability to put a nuclear warhead atop an ICBM to reach the continental United States. If that is indeed months away, would you support any sort of preemptive military action by the United States?
ROONEY: I sure hope it didn't get to that. I hope that these global sanctions and sanctioning third party suppliers -
HARLOW: But if it did --
ROONEY: -- the economy to a halt.
HARLOW: The sanctions have not worked in the past. If they don't work, is there any scenario in which you would be supportive of preemptive U.S. military action?
ROONEY: Well, let's just hope that we have China and Russia at our side and we have to take whatever actions need to be taken.
HARLOW: OK. Let me get your response in the new CNN polling. I'm sure you have seen it this morning. There is a good number for the White House and that is 53 percent of Americans think the economy -- the country is going the right direction. OK? That's good news.
Now, there's some difficult news for this White House to stomach and that is that only 24 percent of all Americans trust what is coming out of the White House. That means 73 percent don't and only 50 percent of the Republican Party trust anything coming out of this White House. What do you make of that? ROONEY: Yes, I read your figures this morning.