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Trump: Putin Expelling Diplomats Will 'Cut Down Our Payroll'; Trump: Maybe My North Korea Threat Wasn't Tough Enough; Trump Continues His Attack On Senate Majority Leader; North Korea Vows To 'Mercilessly Wipe Out The Provocateurs'. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 21:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- so they're investigating something that never happened.

[21:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you thought or thought about or considered leading to dismissal of the special counsel? Is there anything that Bob Mueller could do that would send you in that direction?

TRUMP: I haven't been given it any thought. I mean, I've been reading about it from you people. You say, I'm going to dismiss him. No, not dismissing anybody. I mean, want them to get on with the task.

Mitch, get to work and let's get it done. They should have had this last one done. They lost by one vote, for a thing like that to happen is a disgrace. And frankly, it shouldn't have happened. That I can tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consider stepping down as majority leader?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what. If he doesn't get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have full confident in your National Security Adviser?

TRUMP: Yes, I do. General McMaster?


TRUMP: Absolutely. He's our friend. He's my friend, and he's a very talented man, I like him and I respect him. I always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man and he's like a lot of other people, probably let consultant fees from all over the place, who knows? I don't know.

But, I thought that was a very -- it's a pretty tough stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, why did you decide to announce the transgender ban reversal a couple of weeks ago?

TRUMP: Yes, I think I have great support or I've had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes, but the transgender, the military is working on it now. They're doing the work. It's been a very difficult situation, and I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. Let's see what he does with Guam. He does something in Guam. It will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before, what will happen in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say that, what do you mean?

TRUMP: You'll see. You'll see, and he'll see.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, with us on the table (INAUDIBLE) joining us tonight is Bianna Golodryga, Jeff Toobin, Nan Hayworth, Cornell William Brooks, and Ana Navarro.

There's so much to talk about over the next hour, I mena, what he said about McConnell, what he said about North Korean, what he said about the Russia expulsions, but just in general, I mean, this is probably the most we have heard from President Trump certainly since the solo press conference he gave early on in his administration.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, NEWS AND FINANCE ANCHOR, YAHOO: And not surprising that reporters were itching to ask him so many questions. I mean, I cover Russia and I completely forget about Putin and expelling the 755 diplomats, because there's been so much chaos going on. So from a tactical standpoint, this was kind of smart for the president to come out and address all of these issues, not necessarily just doubling down, let's say, on North Korea. Because I think a lot of people were expecting him to at least calm some nerves. He didn't do that. He said, if anything I should have been tougher, you heard my defense secretary and he even spoke, you know, harsher than I did.

But in another sense, I think you're just reminded of how much chaos is constantly going on surrounding this administration and Washington that it's hard to focus on one issue, even if we're talking about potential nuclear war.

COOPER: Sarah Huckabee-Sander at one point held up a sign saying "one more question" and he just kind of blew through that.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a chaos or lack of discipline? The fact that we have a president who tweets by the moment, who opines on every issue from the top of his head is not reassuring idea, particularly with the country, literally quite anxious about going into a nuclear war. And where you have a president literally has a message that's all over the place with respect to the Russians, with respect to North Koreans, with respect to his cabinet secretaries, this is alarming. It is a reflection of a fundamental lack of discipline that starts at the top. COOPER: For all the talk we heard from Tillerson about diplomacy and Mattis sort of ratcheting things out and the president essentially, and we'll talk more about North Korea later, but did essentially highlight a looming confrontation on August 15th over Guam, basically going head to head against North Korean and somebody has got to blink.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And, you know, he is still in a different place than his defense secretary. I mean, what he said is that if there are continuing threats, the words he used was if there are more threats, there would be "fire and fury." Mattis said if there are actions from North Korea there will be a military response. What's the American policy? I don't know. I mean, those two things are very different. There have been more threats since the president made that statement, and we haven't done anything. So, you know, it was that an empty threat on the part of the president? I don't know, but it is quite clear that there is not a clear position of the administration on that issue.


NAN HAYWORTH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Rex Tillerson is in charge of our state department and Rex Tillerson is a man of extraordinary probity and the president has confidence in Secretary Tillerson.

[21:05:03] COOPER: Does he think -- I mean, there have been a lot of repoets that Tillerson is kind of -- on the out or not even in the inner circle.

HAYWORTH: I have a feeling that if the president lacked confidence in Secretary Tillerson, we would have heard or seen something more about that today. The fact -- or to date, let's say. The fact that the president put General Kelly in charge in the White House as chief of staff indicates I think that he understands that there has to be -- I mean, he is a message communicator. That's obvious. He should be taken seriously, not always literally as we've discussed many times.

COOPER: What does that mean? So North Korea should not take him literally in what he says?

HAYWORTH: No, we -- there is rhetoric that occurs at the political level from every nation, include every participants, including North Korea. What the president is expressing is that he's resolute in ensuring that the United States, the people of the United States will not be put in -- will not be compromised by North Korea. And we have the power to defend ourselves.

COOPER: A verbal threat -- is a verbal threat something he's drawn a red line on, or is it actually a military launch?

HAYWORTH: Well, I think -- we have examples of, in fact, just from the past administration the president who drew red lines and proceed to ignore them.

COOPER: But he's just drawn a red line about threats and I'm trying to understand, is that literal? HAYWORTH: The president has expressed -- no, the president has expressed rhetorically, great resolve to ensure that we will not be put at risk nor compromised by North Korea. I think that's what every American wants to hear, and then beyond that --

COOPER: But Ana --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I'm going to need asterisk from the Trump supporters to let me know when I should take stuff literally, when I should interpret it like abstract art, when I should take it figuratively, when I should take it as a joke, when I should take it seriously --


HAYWORTH: Ana, I don't think it's hard to figure out.

NAVARRO: When it's made-up words, because, I mean --

HAYWORTH: It's not hard to figure out.

NAVARRO: You are making absolutely no sense. How do normal people seeing him on a daily basis --

HAYWORTH: Ana, what do you not understand about what the president said?

NAVARRO: I don't understand where the coherence between what he's saying and what Tillerson is saying, I don't understand where it leads. I don't understand --

COOPER: What General Mattis said is an attack on allies or an attack on the U.S. what the president says are threats.

BROOKS: Right.

COOPER: They've been making all these threats and they can't take any more threats.

HAYWORTH: I think we can draw a rhetorical continuum among all these things. The obvious point is that --

NAVARRO: Rhetorical continuum.

COOPER: I don't know what that means.

NAVARRO: Am I the only one that finds that really funny?

HAYWORTH: Apparently. No, no. There is nothing incoherent about what is being presented by the United States government, and the state department, Heather Nauert said it yesterday, they stand as one, the state department, the defense department --

COOPER: So more power than the word has ever seen, what does that mean to you?

HAYWORTH: The United States has more, possesses more power than the world has ever seen.

COOPER: Well, the most powerful the world has ever seen is Nagasaki and Hiroshima, so more power --

HAYWORTH: Well, it goes beyond that. We obviously have the greatest military in the world. I mean, that's just a simple --

COOPER: So any more threats from North Korea, they are going to see more power --

HAYWORTH: -- tthat's a simple fact.

COOPER: -- than the world has ever seen.

HAYWORTH: North Korea's military power is dwarfed by of the United States. I think that's fairly obvious. I think that's what the president is expressing. And he's expressing that to --

COOPER: But he's expressing it in different words.

HAYWORTH: Well, just as Kim Jong-un is speaking to the North Korean people President Trump is also speaking to the American people.

NAVARRO: My god, I would hope the American people hold --

COOPER: Wait a minute.

NAVARRO: -- the president of the United States to a higher standard than a dictator in North Korea.

COOPER: Wait, Kim Jong-un has --

HAYWORTH: How does he sound like a dictator?


COOPER: -- a perfect golf game, according to the North Koreans.


BROOKS: That is --

HAYWORTH: Where is that?

COOPER: The North Koreans have announced that Kim Jong-un has golf a perfect golf game. He was born on a --

NAVARRO: I think Scaramucci said --


COOPER: He was born on a mountaintop, I mean, --

HAYWORTH: What I'm, saying is that --

(CROSSTALK) HAYWORTH: Leaders of nations and, you know, Kim Jong-un is a dictator, he is a horrible dictator.

COOPER: But he communicates to his people just like the president --

HAYWORTH: Of course --


HAYWORTH: -- every leader --


NAVARRO: -- the only accurate thing tonight.

HAYWORTH: Theresa May communication with Great Britain.

COOPER: Not in the way that North Korea does.

TOOBIN: And Theresa May has never shot an 18 holes in one. I'm a golfer. That's a very good score.

GOLODRYGA: Don't you think the president missed an opportunity to actually tout something that we saw 15 different countries all voted unanimously --

HAYWORTH: What? He's been saying that.

GOLODRYGA: -- and today he said historically that's never resolved or let to anything happening, so we shouldn't pay too much attention to that. I mean, instead of teaming up with our allies around the world against North Korea, he's seemingly putting us in a position where if anything God forbid happens, we could by accused of provoking a situation.

[21:09:58] COOPER: It just seems like Tuesday right now is a confrontation between the North Korea and the U.S. over Guam. That's what the president was saying today. I mean, he was saying if there's a launch against Guam, we're going to see what it is --

HAYWORTH: What the president has also said is that he is -- and he is -- look, the position we had toward North Korea in presidencies past, including in the last administration, most conspicuously was one of so-called, you know, strategic patience, which essentially meant passive complacency. If anything, enriched the North Koreans via Iran, which has had a distinct axis of commerce with North Korea, President Trump is now determined to express the fact that we will no longer enrich North Korea, we will no longer tolerate North Korean aggression and he stands with the state department and department of defense who are prepared to marshal whatever --

NAVARRO: Strategic patience is what most patients are going to need to survive the Trump presidency.

HAYWORTH: And strategic patience has got us to where we are today. BROOKS: Let's be clear about this. There's a difference between strategic patience, which the president is frustrated by and a lack of rhetorical patience. That is the time it takes for something to pop out of his -- come into his mind and pop out of his mouth. The fact of the matter is, this is a very serious and dangerous moment.


BROOKS: When we think about President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis and his insistence that the state department and the White House be on the same page with respect to the message --

HAYWORTH: And they are.

BROOKS: -- which presumes that there is a message.

COOPER: All right, it just seems that they had to come out very quickly and give a different message and what the president said just yesterday. We're going to go down deeper on this a little bit later.

Also include in the president's latest jab at the man who supposed to be his leading Senate ally and another slap at Mitch McConnell today.

Also much more, literal, serious, or otherwise on his latest two slaps at Kim Jong-un today, and whether as Bianna said his language is actually limiting his own room for ending the confrontation -- short of war.


[21:15:34] COOPER: The ongoing feud between President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though, it seems kind of one way at this point, continued today with new threat from the president about whether or not the senator should keep his job. It came after President Trump blamed Senator McConnell, again, for Congress' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Here is part of the president's remarks.


TRUMP: I said, Mitch, get to work and let's get it done. They should have had this last one done. They lost by one vote. For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace. And, frankly, it shouldn't have happened. That I can tell you. It shouldn't have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Senator McConnell consider stepping down as majority leader? There are some conservative analysts, including Sean hannity, that say it's time for him to retire.

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what. If he doesn't get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that? TRUMP: You can ask me -- that means ask me that question. Let's hope he gets it done.


COOPER: Well, this most recent round ramped up again when Senator McConnell said the president had, "excessive expectations," on how fast Congress can move on repeal and replacing Obamacare, because he doesn't have enough experience. Back now with the panel. Ana, I mean, have you seen a situation like this where the president is going after -- the leader of his own party who he needs in the Senate..

NAVARRO: Yes, two weeks ago when he was using Jeff Sessions as his Republican pinata (ph), and a week after that when he was going out to Lisa Murkowski. So, this is something that he does traditionally. And frankly, I think Mitch McConnell needs to step up and I think he needs to push back, because he is the majority leader. And right now he looks like a submissive wimp.

So if he doesn't want to get pushed around by the president of the United States, he needs to remind the president that the Congress is a coequal branch and he needs to push back and show a spine.

COOPER: But for the president's base, I mean, for who distrusts Congress, who distrusts Washington, you know, this probably works for the president to be suddenly saying I'm just the guy on the sidelines, you know, as angry as you guys as you are -- about what's going on to the Senate.

GOLODRYGA: Except we're seeing that his base's patience with him go down as well and wear thin. I mean, you have to wonder, aside from just the fact this is a president who cannot speak ill of Vladimir Putin, but can go after members --

BROOKS: Right.

GOLODRYGA: -- of his own cabinet and his own party, what is the logic? What is the end game here? You don't have health care. You've got a budget battle that you're facing within weeks. And by the way, if this Russian investigation does heat up, you're going to need this Republican support. And the more he publicly fights within his own party --

NAVARRO: The end game is not owning the defeat. The end game is taking claim of the victories, but not owning the defeats.

COOPER: Right.

HAYWORTH: And what are the victories?

BROOKS: In fairness to the -- what the president was saying.

GOLODRYGA: That was McConnell.

TOOBIN: The Congress is less popular than he is, so beating up on Congress is not necessarily a bad political move. COOPER: He's also not wrong about them -- their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. I mean, they've been talking about it for seven years.

TOOBIN: That's right, and -- but the problem is, you know, ultimately the box stops with the president, but I don't think attacking Congress -- and you remember Bill Clinton did what was called "triangulation" in those days, where he sort of position himself between the Democrats and Republicans, and alienated some people in his own party. So, he's not the first president to tangle with members of his own party and Congress, who ultimately he does need.

BROOKS: But by personalizing his animus with Congress, treating Mitch McConnell like a candidate on "the apprentice" demeaning the majority leader, this does not advance an legislative agenda. And so, while Congress may not be popular, relative to President Trump, six months, a year from now when the president hasn't gotten anything done. He'll be less popular than they are. He's got to get something accomplished and you don't get something accomplished by picking fights with everyone everyday.

TOOBIN: You're a member of Congress. Does it hurt your feelings?

HAYWORTH: No, not in the least, and Bianna and Ana have actually hit on something when you said Gorsuch and McConnell, because, you're right Bianna that was a conspicuous accomplishment, one that should (INAUDIBLE).

And Ana, you were right, because Mitch McConnell did facilitate that. And how does he do it? Because herein lies the key to success for the Congress, for the Senate, for the president, and for the nation. It is the filibuster in the Senate on legislation. They broke the filibuster. They busted the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees to elevate Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch. They need to do that now on legislation. What is holding us back -- and I understand the president is saying where the president is expressing the anger of the American people and I, as a Republican, I'm angry.

[21:20:16] NAVARRO: OK, so let's go --


NAVARRO: Go nuclear on Congress?

HAYWORTH: No, let's not go nuclear North Korea. They have to disagree with you there. I didn't think you were so war-like, but no -- but in terms of the Senate, what we're talking about is a Senate perquisite, basically, we are talking about a prerogative of senators, only in the U.S. Senate is a majority 60. And that is an outrage. That's what is holding us back. And it is a false --

TOOBIN: But they couldn't get 50 votes for health care.

HAYWORTH: But here's why, because when you try to craft a bill under the terms of reconciliation, the path is so narrow that you cannot -- no, Jeffrey, you're laughing, but it's the truth. Listen, you know, I --


NAVARRO: -- we get health care again, right? There were a lot of Republican senators for whom that was a very hard politically costly vote, and they did it to be team players. If I am one of those guys, if I am Heller or if I'm Portman or I'm Flake, I'm saying to myself, why should I put my neck out? Why should I take this risk to be a team players and back the president when he so easily throws us under the bus?

GOLODRYGA: Look, what about the House calling it, I mean bill?

HAYWORTH: Right. But --


HAYWORTH: It's a question of loyalty.

NAVARRO: The president is probably -- and we know his popularity readings as you pointed out, Jeffrey, are greater than those of any given senator, just about, the ones you mentioned.

TOOBIN: I would say they are less terrible.

HAYWORTH: Well, you know, they're better than his popularity is vastly --

NAVARRO: You realize cockroach --

HAYWORTH: Excuse me, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have to look up to see the president's popularity rating right now. Look at the stats. The point B, that Chuck Schumer is the one who can hold us up here. And he knows it and he is laughing all the way to the next election cycle, he thinks. But the problem is when you craft a bill, and reconciliation and it's too bad that the American people have to be caught up in the Senate process, but when you craft that kind of bill it's too narrow. You can't get the kind of provisions that will make Dean Heller's constituents smile.

COOPER: All right, we got to take a break. Up next, we're going to return to the ward of words between the president and North Korea and the president's new contention that maybe that whole "fire and fury" thing wasn't tough enough.


[21:25:54] COOPER: We're talking tonight about the message going out to North Korea, sober words from the secretary of state, forceful words from the secretary of defense, and something else different from the commander in chief.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President the North Korean said yesterday your statement on Tuesday was nonsense. That's the word that they used. Do you have any response to that?


TRUMP: Well, I don't think they mean that, and I think they -- it's the first time they've heard it like they heard it. And frankly, the people that were questioning that statement, was it too tough? Maybe it wasn't tough enough. They've been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years. It's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries.

So if anything, maybe that statement wasn't tough enough. And we're backed by 100 percent by our military. We're backed by everybody, and we're backed by many other leaders. And I noticed that many senators and others today came out very much in favor of what I said. But if anything, that statement may not be tough enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be tougher than "fire and fury"?

TRUMP: Well, you'll see. You'll see.


COOPER: Back now with the panel, joining us retired army Major General James "Spider" Marks. He knows the Korean Peninsula specially well from long experience. General Marks, from a military standpoint, what would be tougher than fire and fury?

MAJOR GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, you can go through the list on the 3x5 card that they gave the president, you know, my tongue and my check, we got fire, we got fury, we got pest lens, we got you have flood and leprosy. Frankly, what we have is the president of the United States doubling down to ensure that North Korea understands that we mean business, but I think what's most important, as we have stated many times before, is that the real recipients to that messages are the citizens and the government in Seoul, Tokyo, certainly Beijing.

Seoul understands the incredible cost that will be paid if there's any type of an engagement on the peninsula. There's no precise attack that can take place. There's no antiseptic kind of engagement. Military engagement will have a significant cost for the people in Seoul.

What we have to do at this point? I think we should move forward and acknowledge that North Korea has an operational nuclear capability, nukes that are embedded on the top of missiles, and that they now have an ICBM capability. And so that every test that North Korean -- every missile test that North Korea takes going forward, we have to assume as an intelligence guy, I'm going to have to assume that it has a nuke on the top of it. And if we make that assumption, then we're going to take every one of his missiles out as a result of deployment of our THAAD system, Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System, which is network with ships at sea as well as capabilities on the ground. And that means if he launches a missile, it becomes provocative.

COOPER: Well, to that -- MARKS: If it's provocative. We then go after him, and then it's game

over for him and there's a lot of destruction in the south.

COOPER: But to that point, I mean, what the president had just said earlier today, is that on Tuesday, which is August 15th when the North Korean have said that they are going to send ballistic missiles heading towards Guam that will fall short, the president basically set this up now as a challenge, saying, you know, he's going to watch that and respond. And it seems like somebody has to blink on Tuesday.

MARKS: Well, I think the president of the United States probably should have said two words -- test me. Go ahead. Shoot a missile, shoot four missiles. We're going to assume that they're nuclear tipped. We give that to you. Our intelligent assessment is you got this capability. You launch one missile. And we don't know where it's going, and certainly the Koreans don't know where -- I mean, the North Koreans don't know where this is going. This is like lawn darts. I'm not trying to be flipping here, but there is very little confidence that we have in the guidance capability and the reentry capability. But if he were to launch four missiles whether it's in sequent or simultaneously, I think we should make the assumption that it's nuclear tipped, which means we go after those missiles. We take them down in flight where they are now inert, they land in the ocean and then we got a real decision to make relative to North Korea and his capabilities. If he's launching those things and we assume they're nukes, he's done.

[21:30:00] TOOBIN: What you said -- can I say, what do you mean, he's done? What happens then? We then attack Pyongyang?

MARKS: We would have to. Jeffrey, we have no option. If he's going to use -- if we have the assumption --

TOOBIN: Before he's used any weapons on a population center, we attack Pyongyang?

MARKS: If he's launching missiles and we make the assumption that those missiles are nuclear tipped -- which we -- we have to marry up that assumption. We can't walk forward and say, look, he's got a nuclear capability, ergo, when he uses it, we're going to, you know, kind of -- just very -- calmly witness where it goes and follow the pattern that we have in the past, which is simply to acknowledge that they're launching missiles. If we give them, we acknowledge that they've got a nuclear capability, Kim and his regime are now at the table that would require them to be signatories of the MPT. They were before. They've got to walked back up and do that again. And if they don't, and they start launching missiles, tell me why we wouldn't assume they were nuclear tipped?

TOOBIN: But they have launching missiles for several years now, right?

MARKS: Yes, but we have not once until most recently come forward with an assessment that says, hey guys, they've accelerated their production, they've accelerated their scientific discoveries, they've miniaturized their nukes, and we think they have the ability to marry those two together. So we are giving to them the capability that they have a nuclear delivery capability based on ICBM tests and based on our assessments of their --

GOLODRYGA: We don't know that it can reenter the earth's atmosphere, though, correct?

MARKS: Absolutely correct. We don't know that the guidance is good and that the reentry works at all.

COOPER: Bianna, I mean, it does seem like though, you know, the president made the statement yesterday. Then you had a statement from Secretary Tillerson. You had a statement from Mattis. Both of which were kind of walking back what the president said or sort of trying to shape what the president said. I mean, obviously Tillerson was focus on diplomatic efforts. And Mattis made the point that it's not threats, you know, verbal rhetorical whatever --

GOLODRYGA: It was self-protection.

COOPER: It's actual -- right.

GOLODRYGA: Right, self-protection and the protection of our allies. And Tillerson said people and Americans especially should be able to sleep well at night, but if we were to take the general at his word, anything that the North now even test, we should assume is a nuclear attack, and my question to you is, what is it that Kim Jong-un is going to be telling his people at home? A, he doesn't want to be seen as bluffing, but B, from what we know about him he doesn't want a self-annihilate either.

MARKS: He certainly does not. And that's why I think this discussion about Guam certainly becomes pedantic. I don't think this is -- I would say was certainly. He's not going to do that. He will be the one that blinks. He's not going to launch any missiles simultaneously or anything that looks like a missile that would be threatening to Guam. That won't occur, because if he did that, we would have to take those out, and then the ball is in our court in terms of what we do next. My suggestion is, as I've said, let's assume that's nuclear, let's assume that's provocative, let's assume his intention was to wipe us out. Hey, man, you cannot afford to do that.

The thing about having a nuclear capability, a militarized nuclear capability, is you now have to self-modulate, you got to moderate your behavior. Before, over the seven decades, the Kim regime has been getting away with literally murder and provocative actions, the Pueblo, the taking down of an aircraft, the tree-cutting incident in '76, routine firing on the shoulders of South Korea on the western coast of South Korea, activities along the DMZ, as a matter of routine, infiltration of special ops forces. And we always acknowledge that, yet there is no price that the North has ever paid. He now has a nuke. We can't afford to do that, man.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. When we comeback the president finally addresses Russia's move expelling more than 750 U.S. embassy personnel from the compound in Moscow, what the president said about that, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:37:43] COOPER: Today the president had an unexpected response to Russia, expelling more than 700 employees from its Moscow embassy. Instead of threats like those he's having with North Korea right now, he thanked Vladimir Putin. Here he goes.


TRUMP: I want to thank him, because we're trying to cut down on payroll. And as far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because -- now we have a smaller payroll. There's no real reason for them to go back. So I greatly appreciate the fact that they've been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We'll save a lot of money.


COOPER: Cornell, these are 755, I believe, employees at the embassy, many of them actually Russians who have been helping the U.S. now for many years.

BROOKS: It's really offensive to haves a president who has a bad case of misplaced loyalties. He seemed to miss new opportunity to speak well, Vladimir Putin, and miss new opportunity to stand by people who support the work of the state department. That's where his loyalties should be.

This is a president who fundamentally does not understand that Putin is not some junior member of the budget committee. He's not an accountant. He is a very bad person who tried to hack American democracy. We've not heard a mumbling word come out of this president's mouth with respect to what Vladimir Putin did to our democracy.

COOPER: I mean, for all the things he tweets about, he has said nothing about this expulsion by Vladimir Putin except after being asked a question about it today, and then this is his response.

GOLODRYGA: And it was clearly a prepared response. I mean, come on, he wanted to say that and just come off out of nowhere. And we're not talking about compounds, we're talking about but hundreds of American civil servants who just now apparently found out that they lost their jobs. I mean, I'm curious to see --

COOPER: Well, a lot of them were also -- were Russian personnel who worked in --

GOLODRYGA: Right, a hundreds of them are Russian, hundreds of them are American as well. And I'm curious to see how Rex Tillerson reacts to this, because what I'm hearing from the state department is that people are outraged by the president's comments on this. And again, once again reiterates that the president can not say anything remotely negative about Vladimir Putin.

COOPER: That is what's interesting. I mean, of all the times he could have said something.

BROOKS: That's right.


TOOBIN: Please Nan, I would --

[21:40:00] HAYWORTH: No, -- a brief remark. I think the president was more in the spirit of shrugging it off than in praising -- I don't think he was --

BROOKS: Why do you think --

NAVARRO: This is one of those times we're not supposed to take him literally.

COOPER: Why do you think Nan he has never said anything negative about Vladimir Putin?

HAYWORTH: I think he has indicated through -- certainly through his support, again, of Secretary Tillerson, who has not made any secret of the fact that relations with Russia are at a very difficult point.

COOPER: But the president has never said anything. I mean, he said anything -- he said stuff about Mitch McConnell, he said something about Jeff Sessions, he never said anything negative of Vladimir Putin? Does that not surprise you?

HAYWORTH: I don't -- well, he hasn't said anything negative about Xi Jinping either of China. I think he is -- in his way trying to treat Russia and China as the two other superpowers --

NAVARRO: Every time he has a choice between standing with an American or standing with Vladimir Putin, he stands with Putin. Whether it's the intelligence agency --


NAVARRO: Whether it's the state department over and over it's the same behavior from Donald Trump. He cannot say one ill word about Vladimir Putin. He has no problem saying it about practically everybody else --


TOOBIN: -- do you think it's possible that the reason he never says anything bad about Vladimir Putin is that Vladimir Putin helped him win the election?

HAYWORTH: I think that is categorically impossible, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Really?


TOOBIN: Even though 11 intelligence agencies think that the Russians helped him win the election?

HAYWORTH: Well, number one, I don't think any of them have asserted that they helped the president win the election. Number two, I believe the correct number is four of the U.S. intelligence agencies have implied that the Russians have tried to hack into American election procedural process, which is hardly surprising and none of which means -- and I know we've discussed this exhaustively, but none of which means that the president anyway engaged them. I think that's, you know, why he's been pretty sanguine about the whole thing.

TOOBIN: But Nan --

HAYWORTH: Again, he says -- he has not treated the president of Russia and the president of China with a reasonable amount of diplomatic tact, I would say.


NAVARRO: -- Donald Trump says good things about. We heard him today talk about how decent a man Manafort is. We saw him over and over --

HAYWORTH: Well, he worked with Manafort.

NAVARRO: And we see him not to say one bad word against Vladimir Putin, despite what he does. You know who he's nice to, people who can hurt him, people who have information that can hurt him.

HAYWORTH: The president is in no way deferring to Vladimir Putin just as --

BROOKS: What is he doing?


NAVARRO: -- 755 American diplomats.

HAYWORTH: He was making a humorous comment.

BROOKS: Un-humorous (ph).

GOLODRYGA: -- expense of jobs and what is he doing having an hour-long conversation with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 instead of talking about, let's say, North Korea with other allies?

HAYWORTH: Seriously he's not supposed to suppose with Putin at the G- 20 meeting?


NAVARRO: You're doing more T.V. now let me give you a pro-tip, you do not make a joke or a comparison with a holocaust, you do not quote Nazis, you do not joke about rape, and you do not joke about American diplomats getting kicked out.

HAYWORTH: Have you've been watching T.V., Ana?

NAVARRO: I am telling you that that was not a joke. He is the president of the United States and we as Americans --

HAYWORTH: Why are you lecturing me about that?

NAVARRO: Who is going to hold him to standard --

HAYWORTH: When did the president make a joke about the holocaust?

NAVARRO: What he said -- I could joke about getting 755 diplomats.

HAYWORTH: He wasn't --

NAVARRO: You are calling it humorous and thus acceptable. If it was humorous, it was a lame, bad joke and it is unacceptable.

HAYWORTH: Ana, I think the president is fully capable of conducting foreign policy of the United States with the enormously talented work that Rex Tillerson does, who is his chosen secretary of state.

BROOKS: Which assumes -- which assumes -- which assumes that he's --

HAYWORTH: OK. That's what he does.

BROOKS: He's coordinating his policy with the secretary of state.

HAYWORTH: All right, but Cornell, when we're going to talk about deference to Russia, OK, the president has done nothing, no actions that he has taken had differ to Russia --

NAVARRO: He blacked classified info in the Oval Office to --


COOPER: Nan, he did want to set up a cybersecurity --

HAYWORTH: On the other hand.

COOPER: -- coalition with Russia, and then walked that back.

HAYWORTH: On the other hand, in the previous administration, Russia actually grabbed Crimea from Ukraine and President Obama did nothing. President Obama took our missile installations, right, out of our allies, out of Poland, out of the Czech Republic. President Obama did that. President Trump has expressed nothing other than that he will be resolute in defending the United States. President Obama, on the other hand, through his actions was extensively --

[21:45:00] COOPER: And the president spoken out about Russian --

HAYWORTH: -- was extensively --

COOPER: Hey, Nan has President Trump spoken out about Russia's actions in Crimea?

HAYWORTH: He hasn't had to address that at this point --

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Speaking of President Obama, when we come back, beyond simply having policy differences with his predecessor, is President Trump, in fact, preoccupied with erasing every last trace of President Obama? Does he have -- some have said an obsession President Obama, when we come back.


COOPER: We talked on this a few moments ago. The president's fight with Mitch McConnell shows there's nothing else that he'll do almost anything to oppose or at lest be seen as opposing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

Keeping them honest, so the question tonight, which we'll take up with the panel, is whether to less the Affordable Care part he objects to and more the Obama part, or Obama anything for that matter. He mentioned President Obama again in his appearance late today. This morning Mr. Trump tweeted out a poll, "Who is a better president of the United States?" is the question. Trump by 22 points is the answer.

Now, for instance like riding high in the polls and when a good one comes along, they latch on to it, obviously, except, this one isn't from any reputable or even semi-reputable opinion research firm. It's one of those online Twitter surveys from (INAUDIBLE) called ProgressPolls, which only existed in his president coronation for couple of months.

And though it might be a small thing, the very notion that the president of the United States feels the need at just after 6:00 in the morning to get on the Twitter machine and retweet a dubious item comparing himself favorably to Barack Obama, it says something. Certainly it's a pattern. BuzzFeed recently interviewed six top of your (INAUDIBLE) officials who had first hand dealings with the president, the administration, and they all believe his foreign policy comes down to opposing anything to do with his predecessor.

From BuzzFeed, ""It's his only real position," one European diplomat said, 'He will ask: Did Obama approve this?' And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: 'We don't.' He won't even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama." He also paints everything that came before him as disastrous.


TRUMP: At home and abroad a mess.

It's a mess.

And believe me, I and we inherited one big mess. That I can tell you.


COOPER: Well, beyond cleaning up what he see as President Obama's mess, President Trump has used his executive power to raise big chunks of President Obama's White House legacy, on immigration, transgender troops, environmental regulations, Wall Street regulations, the Paris Climate Accord, the art of drilling, the Keystone pipeline and dozens of executive actions, big and small. The president has reversed Obama administration policy. And to be fair, he certainly entitled that's what he ran on. Yet, beyond to a policy, this is something for the panel to discuss. You have to wonder how much of this policy related, how much is purely personal. Does any of it just payback?


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In an episode of celebrity apprentice at the statehouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks. You didn't blame little John or meat loaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.


COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, it is interesting his -- that he's comparing himself to Obama at this point in his presidency in some online poll.

TOOBIN: When he's not talking about Hillary Clinton, he's also quite obsessed with Hillary Clinton and talks about her all the time. And I think the most vivid example of this is the Affordable Care Act of Obamacare, where the president has never engaged on the merits, really. All he has said over and over again is that Obamacare is a disaster, and we're going to replace it with something great. That's been the extent of his involvement in the nuts and bolts of the issue. And I think it is mostly just this aggression at his predecessor that I think has driven this and that's -- at the heart of everything he does as president.

NAVARRO: For the last six months we have seen that President Trump had been very focused on keeping his base happy. We saw it today. Doubling down on Korea, the base happy. Doubling down on Mitch McConnell, keeping the base happy. Doubling down on the transgender issue, keeping the base happy. And doubling down on Obama over and over again, keeping the base happy. It's good. You asked it was good. It's always about policy or personal. It's about policy. It's personal and it's about politics.

GOLODRYGA: It's not so unusual for a president to take a jab from time to time at their predecessor. I mean, we saw today Bill Perry former defense secretary under Clinton took a job at the Bush administration when it came to North Korea. Even President Obama said, you know, after the financial crisis the Republicans want. The keys to the car back but they put it --

HAYWORTH: -- the ditch.

GOLODRYGA: But this does seem to be a bit more personal. It's not about necessarily going after the other party or administration as a whole. It's the person.

COOPER: Cornell. BROOKS: It's policy and it's also personal. This is a president who called into question Barak Obama's citizenship. He called into question his identity as an American. It is by definition personal. It is also by definition a matter of racial consequence, the ways in which he went after President Obama. I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that he's the first African-American president. It has everything to do with the fact that he actually got something done, came into office with an agenda as opposed to a platform of political aspirations or ambitions. When you compare this president to the president that preceded him, he looks mighty small.

GOLODRYGA: Don't forget he accused him of wiretapping.


TOOBIN: It's so hard to keep track.

BROOKS: I think fundamentally when you compare President Obama to President Trump, what we see here is the previous president came into office younger, but he grew in (INAUDIBLE) in the space. This president, this president suffers from a kind of reverse aging syndrome in which he becomes more infantile, more adolescent, more childish as the days go on. In fact, --

NAVARRO: Benjamin button, I said we can call.

BROOKS: That's exactly it. That is exactly it. And when he stands on the stage of history, he will not be able to stand and look eye to eye with President Obama. He will have to look up. Because right now he does not stick -- he does not --

TOOBIN: He's only been president for six months. I mean, it's hard to believe it's only been six months, but, you know.

[21:55:04] BROOKS: We can't keep treating this president as though he is an apprentice to the presidents. He was elected. And he has to own the job. He needs to be serious. He needs to conduct himself with a certain presidential deportment.

Every day he demeans the office by the way he speaks about his predecessor, by the way he speaks about his colleagues and coequal branch of government and by the way he speaks about Americans and particularly those who serve in the government.

COOPER: We got to take a break. I want to thank everybody on the panel. We'll be right back. More news ahead.


COOPER: Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump answering more questions from reporters today than he has in six months.

This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us. The president speaking for nearly half an hour today during his working vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey. So here are the headlines.

On the subject of his fire and fury threats to North Korean saying, maybe it wasn't' tough enough --