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GOP Source Says Trump Made Health Bill Passage Much Harder; FBI Probes Acoustic Attack on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba; Taylor Swift Could Testify Soon in Civil Court Case; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- because you're the RNC guy, you're the communications guy on that frond and not only do you have what Kaitlan just reported, you also have this GOP source telling CNN this morning that the very direct, in the words of Senator Lisa Murkowski, phone call that the president had with her ahead of her final vote on Obamacare repeal and replace may have contributed to her voting no. Now don't have that from the senator's office. But the big picture here, is the president sabotaging his own agenda?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think potentially so with phone calls like that and tweets towards Mitch McConnell. You know, I can give you, Poppy, chapter and verse why Republicans have failed on Obamacare in past, I've got some scars from some of those battles back in 2014. But this should have been different because the only dynamic that's different is we have a Republican president. This should have been an all hands on deck moment. Those are going to big hands or small hands, or whatever. But all hands moving forward to try and pass something.

As Kaitlan and you both discussed, Donald Trump didn't really go the distance on this. That's part of why where we are right now.

HARLOW: So, Robby, it's not just the Republicans who have some infighting about leadership. It's also your party, as you know. There have been folks like, you know, like Seth Multon, a Democratic congressman who said, flat-out, you know, on CBS News a few weeks ago, yes, I don't want Schumer and Pelosi as leadership going into 2018. I don't want their name on bumper stickers.

So this isn't just the Republican Party. Is this sort of a -- I don't know, a moment of change in terms of leadership and messaging?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think both parties are going through the process of trying to figure out, you know, what their message is going to be for next cycle. So I think a lot of this is normal. And it's important to remember that the leaders in both parties are elected by their caucuses. I think, you know, just to underscore what Doug said, I think what's remarkable about what we're seeing on the Republican side is not just the lack of teamwork, but I really think the Republicans are also suffering from a lack of substance on the president's part.

You know, he never really pushed people. He never really engaged in the policy debate here because I don't know if it's because he doesn't understand it or if he doesn't care, but it ice one of those two things. And that's hurting them. I mean, he was never able to go to the negotiating table with some of these senators and really try to figure out how to get to a compromise that would work.

I would also argue, I think there was a substance problem with the voters. I don't think this was good policy. I think the party was rushing to follow through on a promise that they made, and you know, when the policy stared them in the face, a lot of them couldn't accept it. They were going to throw a lot of people off health insurance. If the president had been there as a substantive partner, maybe they could have overcome that and made the policy better. But either way, it just wasn't a good bill.

HARLOW: Guys, I want you both to react to something we just got, a series of tweets from Senator Marco Rubio. Now for context, though, this is about North Korea, so we are switching gears quite a bit. But this is about messaging as well. I just had Lee Zeldin, congressman, Republican, who said he's not comfortable with the president's rhetoric that he chose to use on North Korea this week, fire and fury, et cetera.

Here's what Marco Rubio just tweeted. "Attacks on POTUS for a statement on North Korea nukes are ridiculous. They act as if North Korea would act different if he used nicer words."

Now I would point out, though, guys, this was from a guy who has not held back criticism of the president. What do you make of it?

HEYE: Well, I understand he's trying to back up the president. My concern is not so much what Donald Trump said, but whether or not there was a strategy or a clear goal in mind. So often we see Trump's freelancing comments or saying things off the cuff that aren't fully thought through. If this is part of a plan, I'd love to know what it is and possibly get behind it. We just don't know that yet.

HARLOW: You know, Robby, during the campaign, Hillary Clinton, you know, certainly had some strong things to say about North Korea and the regime. Now she wasn't president, but if you go back to her husband presidency, in 1993, he says, about North Korea, if they ever use them, talking nuclear weapons, it would be the end of their country. So, I mean, President Trump is not the first president to use sort of bellicose language about North Korea.

How do you see it?

MOOK: Well, I actually completely agree with where Doug was on this. I don't think this was strategic. And if you step back and look at the situation, nobody wants a war here because if we provoke North Korea first or North Korea strikes first, a lot of human life is going to be lost, including, you know, there are tens of thousands of Americans that are at risk. So from my perspective right now, somebody needs to be the adult in the room and actually to Senator Rubio's point, whether were bellicose or not, the North Koreans are going to continue to make outrageous statements. And so I think this is the time for the United States to express strength and calm. I think we should show our strength, not just talk about it. And that's been going on --

HARLOW: So what does that mean, Robby?

MOOK: Well, I think there have been extensive exercises going on this summer with the South Koreans.


MOOK: The United States has literally been showing its strength. So I think our leaders need to speak responsibly and like adults and then our military needs to demonstrate and show the strength that's there.

HEYE: And Poppy, if I could add.


HEYE: One thing that Donald Trump can do is appoint and nominate more people to the Department of Defense and to the State Department. We need an ambassador in South Korea --

[10:35:05] HARLOW: Well, there's no ambassador to South Korea right now.

HEYE: Exactly. We also don't have an undersecretary for arms control. There are a lot of good people --


HARLOW: Right. Just one thing that struck me is, you know, that these things should be vetted by the national security team around the president. We all know -- I mean, that's how typical politicians work. We all know and he was elected knowing that's not how it works. Does it matter whether the words are sort of vetted or approved or written down or not or just what he ends up saying?

MOOK: Well, you hit on an important point here, too. And I think that that's -- when it comes to election time, voters need to really take -- listen to their president and take him seriously and decide if they want those words in the next term.

But to your point, look, it is ultimately up to the president. This is his decision. I'm giving my personal opinion of what he did. I would say, whether he goes through the NSC or Secretary Mattis or anybody else, he has a chief of staff now who is incredibly experienced in this space. It sounds like his own chief of staff was surprised by those comments. You know, and Doug knows this, too. Whenever we're working --

HARLOW: You think that -- wait, wait. Robby, our reporting is he was not surprised at all by the comments. Kelly was not surprised by the comments.

MOOK: Well, OK, in fairness then I read a report that he was. But putting aside, you know, Doug and I both know that whenever you're working with a principal, these are the sorts of questions that the principal and the staff are supposed to anticipate. And a question should have been put out whether it was and he didn't follow it, I don't know. Who he spoke with, I don't know. But clearly, it wasn't part of a larger national security strategy.

HARLOW: So you guys exceeded my excessive expectations with this conversation. Thank you, gentlemen, very, very much. We appreciate it.

HEYE: Thank you.

HARLOW: A rare moment in Cuba. FBI agents allowed inside the country, why? They are investigating a bizarre, acoustic attack. What is that? Right? We are going to dig into that on U.S. diplomats inside the Havana. Questions this morning, is another country involved?


[10:41:06] HARLOW: We have new details this morning on that bizarre, so-called acoustic attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba. The FBI is now there involved in the investigation, looking into whether or not another country, a third party, was involved in purposely driving a wedge between U.S./Cuban relations.

At least two employees were brought back to the U.S. with serious health problems, possibly suffering permanent hearing loss.

Our correspondent Patrick Oppmann is in Havana with details.

What is an acoustic attack and also the third party that may have been involved?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are so many questions here. And in fact it just gets stranger and stranger. So reporting, talking to resources in Washington, D.C. and Havana indicates that these attacks actually took place at the diplomats' residences here in Havana, at their homes where they were with their families and that these acoustics, you know, let's break down what this means.

It's a sophisticated device, whether it's placed inside their homes, outside of homes, investigators still do not know that yet, we are told. But a signal, a frequency that you cannot hear, but causes intense pain. We are told the symptoms are like having a concussion. One diplomat was so affected by this that his hearing aid permanently. He is now using a hearing aid. So it just gives you some idea of how the kind of impacts these attacks carried out.

And we're told not to describe it as necessarily eavesdropping because this equipment can be used for that kind of purposes but that it was actually meant to cause pain on these diplomats here in Havana. And that's where we get into the who. Sources are telling us that the capabilities seem to be beyond what the Cuban government is capable of.

There may have been a third country that was involved to essentially deliver some sort of payback on the U.S. for U.S. actions in other countries and, quote, "drive a wedge in between the U.S. and Cuba."

So a lot more still here to learn, Poppy.

HARLOW: And quickly, Patrick, just to be clear, we don't know or do we know who the third party may be? What country we're talking about?

OPPMANN: Well, obviously, a country that has no love for the United States. And we're still trying to narrow that down. But it was described as a country that has something to benefit from ending the improved relations between the United States and Cuba.

The U.S. is investigating. The FBI is investigating. It's been allowed to do work in Cuba. And the Cuban government says that they will cooperate. So far that cooperation is not enough, the United States is telling us.

HARLOW: Patrick Oppmann live for us in Havana, thank you very much.

Emotional testimony from Taylor Swift's mother as she takes the stand in the pop star's sexual assault trial. Now jurors are expecting Taylor swift to take the stand any moment.


[10:48:32] HARLOW: Court just getting under way this morning in the sexual assault trial of pop star Taylor Swift. Emotional testimony from her mother who said she wanted to vomit and cry when Taylor told her what happened during the 2013 incident.

Now Swift claimed that a Denver deejay groped her backstage at one of her concerns. She is expected to take the stand at any moment.

Let's go to our correspondent Scott McLean, he's live outside the courthouse in Denver.

Scott, take us through the latest.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy. So this trial is about David Mueller, this former radio deejay suing Taylor Swift saying that she falsely accused him of groping her. She is counter suing him claiming assault and battery.

Now it is not clear when Taylor Swift, herself, will testify. We have been given no instruction on that. But it could be today, it could be sometime next week. Yesterday, though, her mother, Andrea Swift, who is also defendant in this case, gave a tearful moment Taylor told her about being groped at that backstage meet-and-greet more than four years ago. As you said, she wanted to vomit and cry at the same time.

Now David Mueller's team, the Radio Deejay, they're trying to paint her as a vindictive character that demanded that he be fired from his job at that radio station. She confessed yesterday she did want him to be fired but expected that it would the radio station that would ultimately make that call.

We did speak with some fans yesterday, who were inside the courtroom. They said that Andrea Swift looked like a mother who genuinely cared about her daughter. Listen.


[10:50:04] ED LEE, ATTENDED THIRD DAY OF TAYLOR SWIFT TRIAL: At one point in time Andrea got upset and needed a tissue and started crying and then, you know, it was like you could tell that her daughter was moved by that. I kind of said to myself at the time is that when you see a mother and daughter cry, you kind of forgotten how famously they are. You know? They're not celebrities anymore. They're just people who support them. It's a courtroom.


MCLEAN: And Poppy, we also heard from Frank Bell, Taylor Swift's radio liaison yesterday who justified he said not he was mad when he heard about this groping incident. He said he did call the radio station demanding some kind of action, but he did not say that he demanded that David Mueller be fired.


HARLOW: All right., Scott, on it, let us know when she takes the stand. Thank you very much for that.

We do have some breaking news I want to get to. A response now this morning from the White House to North Korea's very detailed threat. The threat of forced fire, those four missiles, possibly within days to the waters off the U.S. territory of guam.

Here is what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders just said in response. Quote., "Certainly nothing has changed in the president's thinking. I rink he's made very clear where he stands on this front."

That is of course referring to the marks that he made just a few days ago about the use of fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen in response to the threat from North Korea. The White House standing by that. This morning in the wake of it more detailed threat coming from Pyongyang.

Meantime, a feisty feline may have given the St. Louis Cardinals a new rallying cry for their playoff hopes? Yes.

Andy Scholes has this morning "Bleacher Report." It's next.


[10:56:11] HARLOW: Fresh off winning the National Championship, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson making his NFL debut last night.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

So how did he do?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He did pretty good, Poppy, and as a Houston, Texas, fan pretty excited about what the future holds for Deshaun Watson. You know, the last time we saw him, he was throwing a game-winning touchdown for Clemson against Alabama in the title game. And Clemson only about a two-hour drive from Charlotte.

As you can imagine, there were tons of Clemson fans there in the stands to watch Watson's debut in the NFL. And did not disappoint those fans. Watson running for a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Despite that, though, the Panthers would win this game 27- 17.

Now an even better story than Watson's debuted for the Texans was the return of David Quessenberry, the 26-year-old offensive lineman was playing in his first game since being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphomas three years ago.

And Quessenberry finished his last of therapy treatment in early April ringing the bell in Indiana. He was so excited there he actually broke the bell. And he was very emotional returning to the field last night.


DAVID QUESSENBERRY, NFL PLAYER: Thinking about thinking on how long it's been and tonight was perfect.

J. J. WATT, HOUSTON, TEXAS: I think that's hands down such a cool story. The guy is a warrior, he's a fighter, he's an inspiration to all of us. He deserves he too every bit of headline and every bit of praise that everybody of praise gives him because he's a hell of a player, hell of a guy and we couldn't be more proud to have him on our team.


SCHOLES: All right. Cardinals rules last night, St. Louis had the bases loaded down 5-4 in the sixth when a cat ran out on to the field. And as you can see that player was having none of it. He wasn't going to grab the cat. So at fourth round, people had to do it and check out his face because the cat was scratching and biting him as he was trying to get him off the field. Once he did, the game resumes.

The very next pitch, Yadier Molina hits a grand slam. So that cat now being called a hero. Well, forever be known in St. Louis as the rally cat. The Cardinals win the game, 8-5. Manager Mike Matheny said after the game he heard someone actually claimed the cat to bring him home. So happy ending there.

Finally in Minnesota Gophers head couch P.J. Fleck brought in a fan named Kyle, who's currently a patient at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital to speak to this team. Now the Gophers had visited Kyle in the hospital before and back up, walk on sticker Justin Junemann, really made an impression on Kyle. Spending quality time with him. So Coach Fleck used Kyle to surprise Junemann with a scholarship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Such an awesome reaction from Junemann and his mom, Poppy. They clearly had no idea what was on that shirt until he looked at it and read it. And I'm pretty sure that he is now the only back-up kicker in the entire country that is on a football scholarship. So definitely good for him. What a story.

HARLOW: You know what they call it, Andy Scholes?

SCHOLES: What do they call it?

HARLOW: Minnesota nice. You ever heard that before?

SCHOLES: I have, Poppy. And I know you're from Minnesota. And I know you're a Minnesota nice.

HARLOW: That's Minnesota nice. That's Minnesota nice and I will -- Scottie, my director, should be on here saying this with me, go Gophers.

SCHOLES: Go Gophers.

HARLOW: Go Gophers. Go Gophers. You betcha.

Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

HARLOW: And thank you all for joining us today. I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are looking at breaking news right now. A war of words on two fronts for President Trump.