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North Korea Threatens Guam; Editorial Board Aims at Bannon; Bannon Attacks McMaster; Remembering Glen Campbell; Interview with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 9, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:45] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

One month ago, Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan was in South Korea at the same time that the North Korean regime was testing another missile. He was there speaking to U.S. military and South Korean officials.

He is here with me now.

Thank you for joining me, congressman.

Look, you were on the peninsula during one of these tests. You have a unique perspective. You're home now with your constituents. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, his comments this morning were Americans should sleep well at night. Are your constituents sleeping well given what has transpired in the last 24 hours?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I think they are, but there's obviously growing concern, and that concern is fueled when the president of the United States deliberately uses language that escalates sort of the war of words and I think, unfortunately, matches the tone and tenor of North Korean officials. I mean this is the United States of America. We ought not engage in this sort of belligerent talk. And when I talk to my constituents, I mean they know that the U.S. will do what it needs to do to protect its citizens. But there are some concerns about the president and whether his choice of words is really thoughtful and helpful.

HARLOW: OK. So I hear that. And, look, there have been others, Republicans, John McCain among them, who have been critical of the language. Given that, there have been preceding presidents, Democrats and Republicans, whose language has been much more tempered, much more measured. And the counter argument to yours is that that has not worked. That has not deterred this regime.

KILDEE: Well, the point though is, is that that doesn't mean that belligerent language is a step in the right direction. A step in the right direction I think perhaps would be to really put pressure, for example, on China. I mean is the president willing to be tough in his private conversations with Chinese officials and get them to take the steps necessary to actually reel in North Korea, to actually provide greater security. HARLOW: All right, well, they got China on board with the U.N.

sanctions over the weekend. Those unanimous sanctions.

KILDEE: That was a -- that was a --

HARLOW: And we have sanctioned one big Chinese bank. So what else do you think would actually be effective in moving Xi Jinping's hand?

[09:35:00] KILDEE: I think the president needs to make it clear that China needs to be willing to end trade with North Korea. I mean --

HARLOW: Completely?

KILDEE: Well, this is the -- this is the one piece of leverage that we have that does not escalate the potential for military action. It's very clear that China, in some ways, wants to be able to have it both ways. They vote with us at the Security Council. We can't say that's a bad thing. That's a step in the right direction.

HARLOW: Right.

KILDEE: And they are willing to help sanction, you know, in a limited sense.

HARLOW: But the thing is --

KILDEE: But unless they're willing -- unless they're actually willing to take a bold step and say, we're going to cut off trade with North Korea, that's essential for North Korea to be able to do anything, both militarily and economically.

HARLOW: Well, sure. I mean it harms North Korea certainly economically. North Korea's economy is not exactly flourishing right now, as you know. I mean this is a regime, this is an economy that is already on the brink. But you are convinced that cutting them off economically from the rather robust trade agreement they still do have with China would be sufficient, would actually turn the tide?

KILDEE: It would make a difference because those who are right around Kim, those sort of wealthier members of the -- of North Korean society, that very small percentage of the population in Pyongyang, they would feel it. And that's what we need to do. We need to put a squeeze on those who can -- those few people who can have any effect on Kim Jong-un.

HARLOW: Quickly before you go, we have 30 seconds left. But your fellow Democratic congressmen, Ted Lieu, and Senator Ed Markey have proposed this legislation that would -- would bar the president without congressional approval, any president, and they, as Congressman Lieu told me yesterday, proposed this also before, once before Trump was president, to get congressional approval for first use of a nuclear weapon. Would you support that?


HARLOW: Because this is a -- this is a power that any U.S. president has had since 1946.

KILDEE: It is power that a U.S. president has, but Congress has its authority as well. And -- and this is a case where we know that the threat is existent. We know that the president is suggesting potential use of military force. This is not a moment when the president in the heat of an exigency would make a decision. This is a conversation that needs to take place.

The authority of Congress should be asserted. And particularly in the case of this president where he seems to be somewhat erratic when it comes to what he suggests is American foreign policy.

HARLOW: Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, thank you for being here.

KILDEE: Thank you.

HARLOW: Blame Bannon? "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board this morning says, yes, slamming the president's chief strategist and his backers for creating what it calls, quote, White House dysfunction, and fueling the feud with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.


[09:41:58] HARLOW: This morning, a fresh attack on the president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and from an unexpected place, the Rupert Murdoch-owned "Wall Street Journal." The paper that's been pretty friendly to this administration. The editorial board weighing if on the growing feud between Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, and his strategist and loyalist, Steve Bannon. The two have reportedly sparred over major policies like troop level in Afghanistan. And just last week, McMaster said (ph) urge the ousting and succeeded in the ousting of several Bannon loyalists on the National Security Council. Here's part of what "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board writes. "The former Breitbart publisher has been a White House survivor, but his warring habits have also been responsible for much of the White House dysfunction."

Joining me now, two men who know these two men quite well. Josh Green, senior national correspondent of "Bloomberg Businessweek," and author of the now very well known "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and this Forming of the Presidency." And Thomas Ricks is here, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, former reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" and "The Washington Post," and the author of "Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom."

Quite the bios, my friends. Thank you for both being here.

Let me go to you first, Josh. I mean "The Journal" editorial board has sometimes -- I think of like two or three critical opinion pieces about this president, but generally pretty friendly. This is something Rupert Murdoch would have had to sign off on, right?

JOSH GREEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK": Absolutely. And I think the cause of "The Journal's" concern is that Bannon, unlike McMaster and some of other -- Trump's other advisers, has almost an isolationist view of American foreign policy. And even though Bannon doesn't have the kind of national security credentials you'd expect from somebody who was once on the National Security Council, he has a very clear idea of how he thinks America should behave abroad and it's different than other people in the White House think and it's different that the view generally put forward by "The Wall Street Journal's" editorial board.

HARLOW: Sure. Sure. That's a good point.

Tom, you wrote an article that got quite a lot of attention in May basically arguing McMaster is too good for this White House and that you thought he would be good around the president because he would make the president and the president see (ph) stronger, better, more reliable. You changed that opinion this spring. Your thoughts on this as McMaster battles basically an opponent within the West Wing?

THOMAS RICKS, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING WRITER: Yes. My view is now that we should just let Trump and those people around him sink into their incompetence. The rest of the U.S. government just chugs along. It's a pretty robust government. But in the White House itself, I think that all people like McMaster do is make Trump more effective. And I think that's bad. We don't want an effective Trump because he's erratic and dangerous.

And I think when McMaster looks at Trump, he must think to himself, this is totally outside my army experience. All I can think is he looks at -- when McMaster looks at Bannon he thinks, this is like dealing with an Islamic extremist in Iraq.

HARLOW: You think that?

RICKS: I think -- I think so. He's trying to fathom, who is this guy? Where does he come from? What does he want? And McMaster did work effectively with Islamic extremists in Iraq.

[09:45:08] HARLOW: Sure.

RICKS: And brought some over to his side. I think he's probably been trying to do that with Bannon. But ultimately, if he has to, he'll snap his neck.

HARLOW: Look, it was his policy and his ideas that really led to the surge back in 2007.

But, Josh, you talked about this. You were interviewed about this. And here's one of the things you said. You said, Bannon is the authentic connection to and representation of Trump's base politics. You went on to say, the one thing that Trump fears most in the world is losing that connection and losing that support to his base.

Does that mean that if it were to come to Bannon versus McMaster, Bannon wins?

GREEN: Well, I don't know. I think that's a question that we may be headed towards finding an answer to. But I think that Bannon believes that Trump ran as a non-interventionist, as a non-military hawk, and therefore shouldn't be giving these bellicose statements about North Korea.

I think it's no accident that Trump seems to be alone in Bedminster this weekend. He's not surrounded by people like Bannon. And so for him to give out a statement like the fire and fury that he's going to rain down on North Korea if they don't stop threatening the U.S. I think is a sign that Bannon's influence isn't being felt right now.

HARLOW: Tom, to you. If you just look at some of these headlines that we've pulled together from Breitbart, which, of course, Steve Bannon founded and used to run, and still has connections to obviously to the people that work there, they are scathing against McMaster. Center for Security Policy calls for H.R. McMaster's termination. That's one. Report H.R. McMaster increasingly volatile and, quote, frequently blows his top. Third headline, NSC, National Security Council purge. McMaster deeply hostile to Israel and Trump.

Do you think it will work? Do you think he will survive in the West Wing long term?

RICKS: I think it will work in the sense that if it comes down to Trump having to make a choice between Bannon and McMaster, I think he'll go with Bannon because Bannon knows -- he knows better. Bannon knows how to flatter him. McMaster has tried to flatter Trump, but he's not good at it. It doesn't sound sincere when he does it. So I think McMaster's days are probably numbered in the months at the White House.

HARLOW: If that is the case, Josh, what does that mean for Americans watching and thinking, look, these are two men that greatly shape U.S. policy, that greatly influence the president, for example on, you know, are we going to send more troops into Afghanistan. This is critically important.

GREEN: Well, you know, it's not clear to me that Trump is listening to Bannon. I mean McMaster has been far more hawkish toward North Korea. I think McMaster has succeeded with help from the new chief of staff, General Kelly, in pushing out Bannon loyalists from the NSC. So while Bannon is a very important figure in Trump's universe from a domestic political standpoint, and in terms of his connection to Trump's populist base, I'm not sure that Trump is as willing to go along with Bannon on foreign policy. And I think the fact that that's still an open question is why you have this open meteor now between "The Wall Street Journal" on one side and Breitbart news on the other side.

HARLOW: And Breitbart. Yes, it is fascinating to see.

Thank you very much, Josh. Congratulations on the book as well.

GREEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thomas Ricks, so nice to have you. Thank you.

RICKS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: He was a star behind the microphone and in front of the camera. He meant so much to so many of us. We look back at the life and the music of the legend, Glen Campbell.


[09:52:54] HARLOW: Glen Campbell, the legendary country singer and songwriter, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Certainly a legend for so many people. Our Ryan Nobles looks back at his life.


GLEN CAMPBELL (singing): Like a rhinestone cowboy.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Glen Campbell was a country boy who made it big with success in music, television and film. He was born in a small town in Arkansas. Around 1960, the young musician moved to Los Angeles, becoming a session musician, playing for the likes of Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Merle Haggard.

But it wasn't until 1967 that he hit it big with the release of two blockbuster albums. "Gentle on My Mind," which won two Grammy awards, and, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," also garnering two Grammys.

Campbell was on a hot streak. And in 1968 came "Wichita Lineman." Sitting on Billboard's hot 100 charts for 15 weeks.

Campbell capitalized on this popularity and turned to television. From 1969 through 1972, he hosted a variety show, "The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour." He also tried his hand as an actor, co-starring in the iconic film "True Grit" and performing the theme song.

CAMPBELL: As soon as you've won --

NOBLES: Which went on to be nominated for an Academy Award.

But in the midst of his success, Campbell became ensnared in controversy. His on again, off again relationship with singer Tanya Tucker became tabloid fodder. He also battled an alcohol and drug addiction that he would later kick.

CAMPBELL: Because I just woke up and said, I can -- I can quit this. I know I can. And I -- like I said, I prayed and I prayed.

CAMPBELL (singing): Rhinestone cowboy.

NOBLES: But Campbell continued to enjoy musical success. The song "Rhinestone Cowboy" shot to number one on the Billboard charts in 1975. And he'd peak again in '77 with the song "Southern Nights." In 2005 the star was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But in 2011, he shocked the music world with a stunning announcement.

CAMPBELL: What did they diagnose me as?

[09:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alzheimer's.

CAMPBELL: Alzheimer's.


CAMPBELL: What's Alzheimer's?

NOBLES: The 75-year-old entertainer decided to bow out of the business and embarked on a final tour with a band featuring three of his children. The music world rallied around the icon.

In 2012 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys, taking the stage to perform amidst a star-studded tribute.

CAMPBELL: All I wanted to do ever since I can remember was play my guitar and sing.

CAMPBELL (singing): In the sun for another --

NOBLES: I'm Ryan Nobles reporting.


HARLOW: What a voice.

The next hour of NEWSROOM begins after a break.