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North Korea Outlines Plan To Strike Near Guam; North Korea Mocks Trump For Golf & "Nonsense" Threat; Trump Insults Man He Needs To get Anything Done; Trump Rips McConnell's "Excessive Expectations" Comment. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:15] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me. This very minute, President Donald Trump taking a break from his golf cart to meet with his national security team about the back and forth nuclear threats with North Korea. President Trump will huddle with his advisers inside his New Jersey golf club. As North Korea refuses to back down on its threats. In fact, not only is North Korea mocking President Trump's unscripted warning of fire and fury, calling it, "A load of nonsense from a leader," "Bereft of reason."

The regime has now put out new and detailed warning of its own. Outlining its plan to strike near the U.S. Territory of Guam. Now, North Korea says it involves the simultaneous firing of four missiles aimed at the waters just off the pacific island. The statement said the plan for the show of force would be ready by the middle of this month and will simply need the final sign-off from Kim Jong-un for an immediate launch. So let's start there, Jeff Zeleny is our senior White House correspondent. Can you -- just in terms of the national security meeting, take us inside, who will be there, what can we expect?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we know Vice President Mike Pence is in New Jersey this afternoon at the president's golf course and resort. So he'll be joining that briefing. It will be led by the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. He's also in New Jersey for this meeting, as well as the new chief of staff, General John Kelly, as well as other advisers but, Brooke, the significance of this is important, this was added to the president's schedule.

The White House certainly wants to make clear the president is staying on top of this during his working vacation, but he did not respond -- the White House did not respond intentionally so to those provocative comments that you read earlier from North Korea in response to the president's words. So we'll see if we hear from the president later this afternoon. We believe that he is likely to say something at the end of this briefing, but there's no question, Brooke, several advisers hoped the rhetoric sort of deescalates a bit and it cools down a bit.

That's why we haven't seen the president talking about this on social media. He's not responded to North Korea directly. We'll see what he says today, Brooke. But no question about it, this is the biggest most pressing foreign policy challenge on the president's desk. We'll be learning more about that in this hour, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will see what he says and turn it around in just a little bit. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much. We'll be on the lookout for that. Let's turn now though to CNN's Tom Foreman. In terms of Guam, I mean, what do we know about weapons that North Korea's threatening to use off of the nearest territory to the peninsula?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know the very serious challenge. If you take a look at the general layout here from Pyongyang down here to Guam, you can see it's a little bit over 2,100 miles. I want to show you the - if you -- if you go into some of the details here, you can see that what they're talking about doing with these intermediate range missiles is dropping them somewhere around 19 miles off the island. Well, look, here are U.S. territorial waters which go out right to the same sort of area, 19 to 20, 26 miles, somewhere out there.

So their ability to try to drop something close enough to not be in territorial waters but close enough to seem like they're able to control it that way, that's a big part of the challenge here. We're not talking about the big giant range, their giant missiles, which would go very far here. The intercontinental ballistic missiles we've been talking about lately. But more intermediate range missiles. Why does Guam matter though? Look at this, 162,000 U.S. citizens living there. They can't vote in the election here but they are U.S. citizens.

They -- this had been a strategic area for a long time, 210 square miles not that big but very important, air force and naval bases there. And if you look at them, there are thousands of troops here. Andersen Air Force Base. This is where a lot of our most advance bombers, stealth, B-52 bombers operate out of here. B-52 being a very old one but they operate out of this area. Also there is the naval base Guam. Some of our most forward submarines operate out of here which gather a lot of intelligence about North Korea.

There's very much a reason that North Korea would want to put pressure on Guam because of this giant and extremely advanced technological military assets for the U.S. there. But, in doing this, they're playing a very dangerous game, Brooke. Because take a look at these missiles here that we're talking about. These missiles, one of these come in close to that island, they're talking about four of them in a sense bracketing the island, sort of showing all around where they can hit. There is no question that the potential for something going wrong here, even if they do that right, is very high and the threat of them doing that could provoke a very strong response, Brooke?

BALDWIN: We're going to talk in a second more about the specific threats. Tom, thank you. Let me bring in Jeffrey Lewis. He is with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

[14:05:18] So Jeffrey, to Tom's point here, this is - this what we're hearing from North Korea, right? The threats against not only Guam but U.S.' mainland, talking about fall into a sea of fire, turn the mainland into a theater of nuclear war versus these detailed plans, you know, to fire these missiles off the coast of Guam. What does that sort of language tell you or any clues about their actual, you know, capability militarily versus bluster?

JEFFRY LEWIS, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, JAMES MARTIN CENTER FOR NONPROLIFERATION STUDIES: Well, the North Koreans love colorful language. I mean, when I got into this business they used to talk about turning Seoul into a sea of fire. So that part is pretty normal for them. What's different about this statement is its specificity. What we're seeing right now is the North Koreans are making threats and then the president was responding with his own threats.

And so there's a kind of escalation going on. And so the North Koreans have issued a very specific threat. It's not a threat to attack Guam but it is a threat to do something very provocative. And so I think we're entering a phase where it's a little bit dangerous.

BALDWIN: Well, what's in it for North Korea to be so specific and say here's exactly what we want to do?

LEWIS: Well, you know, the North Koreans are a little different. The way the North Koreans --

BALDWIN: To say the least.

LEWIS: -- think about deterrence is that you have to be very aggressive. So, in 2010, the North Koreans actually sank a South Korean ship, killing 46 sailors. You know, they did that calculating that that provocation would actually make South Korea back off some of the pressure that they felt that they were under. So I think what the North Koreans feel is they can't really back down and so if they're going to be threatened, they're going to respond with threats of their own.

BALDWIN: OK. We've heard from the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that the president's comments, the fire and fury, you know, what it was about, to your point, this is how Pyongyang talks, right? In fiery, literally, language. North Korea responded by chiding the U.S. president, calling it a load of nonsense, and said, sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him. You know, speaking of that same language doesn't appear to be working, Jeffrey, so how do you think the U.S. should be countering this kind of aggression?

LEWIS: Well, I think Secretary Tillerson did the right thing. I don't think the improvised threat was very clever. And so I think he was right to say, well, that's just how the North Koreans talk to and what the president meant was. Ultimately I think we're at a point where North Korea has the capability to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons and it can threaten our allies in the region with nuclear weapons. And so what we have to do is get in the business of talking with them about reducing tensions. It's not a very ambitious goal but I think the reality is if we're going to deter North Korea, we have to make sure we deter them stably and that things don't get out of hand where we end up with a nuclear war by accident.

BALDWIN: But do you think that North Korea realizes? I mean, I'm sort of paraphrasing what you said, the notion of Secretary Tiller almost playing clean-up to the president's off the cuff remarks, and do you think that Pyongyang realizes there's a bit of -- I don't know if you want to call it good cop/bad cop or just mixed messages coming from the White House?

LEWIS: Yes. I think it's mixed messages, not good cop/bad cop. Look, if you're the North Koreans, it's tough. You don't really know who's speaking for the administration. The president says things and they're been inflammatory. I think ultimately where we have to get is in a room with the North Koreans where there's some dialogue going on because --


LEWIS: -- I think the president -- I don't think they're going to take away his phone. So hopefully we can open up a more formal line of communication.

BALDWIN: OK. Jeffrey Lewis, thank you, thank you. We're going to come back to North Korea but I should also tell you a family feud erupts between the president and the very man he needs to get anything done in congress. Why President Trump is once again insulting the number one republican in the senate, the majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Also, sources tell CNN that the news of an FBI raid on Paul Manafort's home has, "Rattled the cages of the president's inner circle." We'll talk live with the filmmaker who has conducted the only interview with Paul Manafort this year.

And moments ago, Taylor Swift taking the stand in the trial of the radio deejay accused of groping her. Hear what she said about the photo at the center of this case. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:13:51] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We've got some news just in. This is one of President Trump's advisers, a man who is pretty much regular on T.V. CNN controversial T.V. interviews and this guy suggesting the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is out of his element, talking about military options on North Korea. That Tillerson should stick to his lane, his lane being diplomacy. So Jeff Zeleny, let's go back to you and you can talk to me a little bit more about the statements, but it definitely, make no mistake, Mr. Gorka is throwing some shade on Tillerson.

ZELENY: Some significant shade, Brooke. And I would say even more than that, some disrespect and some criticism on the secretary of state of the United States by a midlevel White House aide. Very unusual here. And it's certainly, you know, would draw into question the comments that the state department was making yesterday. That, look, everyone in the administration is singing from the same playbook here. Everyone is on the same page. We know that is not true with North Korea.

But Brooke, we'll have the sound for you in a while, I believe. But Sebastian Gorka, he said this on the BBC on a radio interview. He said, you should listen to the president. The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical. It is simply -- it is the job of Secretary Mattis, the defense secretary to talk about the military options.

[14:15:11] And he has done so unequivocally. So he is saying, Secretary Tillerson, the secretary of state's comments yesterday, those comments urging Americans to not be imminently concerned about war that they can sleep at night, et cetera, the comments that were essentially explaining the president's fire and fury comments.

Now Sebastian Gorka, an aide here at the White House, is being very critical of the U.S. secretary of state. So Brooke, if there's any assertion that the administration is on one page is speaking with one voice, I think Sebastian Gorka, he's a bit of a flame thrower. He has popped that illusion today with very harsh words for the secretary of state.

BALDWIN: Not a good look. Not a good look for the administration. How will -- I don't know if Secretary Tillerson responds at all publicly, but how do you think he's going to -- how does he react to this?

ZELENY: Well, it's very interesting. I mean, the state department will be having a briefing this afternoon. I believe it's coming up in this hour. So I'm certain that they'll be asked about it. We have asked the White House for a comment if the White House agrees with these Sebastian Gorka's comments here. In fact, the president agrees with his comments here. We have not heard back yet. But Brooke, this does highlight a growing rift, if you will, between foggy bottom, the state department, and the White House here on many respects. So, the -- on this matter of North Korea of utmost urgency and a weight and consequence, interesting that a midlevel White House adviser would be saying this of the secretary of state, Brooke.

BALDWIN: As soon as we get the sound, we'll turn it around. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

ZELENY: Right.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, new details emerging about that predawn FBI raid on Paul Manafort's home. Sources telling CNN the raid has rattled a few cages within the president's inner circle. My next guest, the filmmaker behind that documentary Get Me Roger Stone. He is the only person to interview Paul Manafort on camera this year. He said it's an interview five years in the making. What that interview revealed about President Trump's former campaign chair.

And they need each other to get anything done in Washington, so why is President Trump once again so publicly insulting and trolling the senate majority leader on Twitter? We'll discuss that, next.


[14:21:39] BALDWIN: A just released CNN poll gives President Trump something to tout. He has better approval numbers than congress. A mere one in five Americans like what the republican-controlled congress has been doing, that is compared to 38 percent approval for the president. And when asked why congress hasn't passed more legislation this year, the number one reason cited disagreement among republicans.

And that is on display right now. Big, big time. As the president launched his latest volley in the Obamacare blame game. For the second consecutive day, he is going after the man he needs to get really anything done. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The president first tweeted today, can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed repeal and replace for seven years couldn't get it done? Must repeal and replace Obamacare. And then minutes ago came this. Mitch, get back to work. And put repeal and replace tax reform and cuts and a great infrastructure bill on my desk for signing. You can do it. The tweets are coming after this comment from the senate majority leader.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Our new president of course has not been in this line of work before. And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process. And so part of the reason I think people feel like we're underperforming is because too many kind of artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, former Kentucky Congressman Jeff Davis. Congressman Davis, good to see you. Welcome, sir.


BALDWIN: So what do you make of the president of the United States insulting your former colleague and fellow Kentuckian so publicly?

DAVIS: Well, one thing I would say is there's a big difference between the business world and the political world, as I learned coming directly from the business world into politics. What we're used to in the business world is an executive can make a decision. It's more of an authoritarian kind of structure top down to hold people accountable.

And in the political world, our founders wanted to avoid that kind of hierarchy and created a system that requires consensus. And you essentially have a calculus of three numbers that matter on any legislation. 218 votes in the house, 60 votes in the senate and in most cases to move legislation. And a president, a chief executive who will sign that legislation. So it's a consensus business and I think that Senator McConnell certainly is one of the greatest legislators of this generation and President Trump owes a lot to him in terms of the consensus that's been built to get regulations repealed through the legislative process to confirm a great supreme court justice and get a great budget bill back in the spring.

BALDWIN: So, Congressman, I think what you're saying is you don't like it, am I right? DAVIS: Well, it's certainly not helpful. I think that what we want

to do more than anything else in the consensus environment is to strive for unity and a message and pointing to the future in the long- term and the more that we can be talking about the positive message and the positive policies that we have as opposed to internal issues within the family, I think it's all the better.

[14:25:05] BALDWIN: OK. Leader McConnell has been referred to as a master tactician, you know, greatest legislature of his generation. But sir, you know, he's had seven year to get bills, plans, strategies ready. These were bills, plans, strategies that he promised and campaigned on and six months into this new administration, nothing. How do you defend that?

DAVIS: Well, I can defend it very simply, is you have to have 60 votes or in this case 51 votes in the senate. You know, unlike House of Cards where --

BALDWIN: But he knows how to get those votes. He knows how to get those votes.

DAVIS: I think that he's quite persuasive but people also have independence of action. I didn't vote with President Bush on many occasions and sometimes I voted with President Obama on certain policy issues that matters to the constituents of Kentucky's fourth district. And ultimately those individual representatives and senators are accountable to their own voters and that's where they make their decision, based on that. So it's not a question of blaming an individual.

BALDWIN: But your time in congress, you know, you got things done. I mean, when you look at the freeze frame of six months, you know, you name one major legislative victory and to think about this whole, you know, repeal and replace bit. I mean, they were writing this bill over lunch on the day of the vote.

DAVIS: Well, legislation is a dynamic process but I'll point one thing out to you. The first six months of Bill Clinton's --

BALDWIN: Dynamic over lunch?

DAVIS: -- first term as president. Well, what I'll tell you is that Bill Clinton's first six months were nothing to write home about in terms of legislative accomplishments. And in this congress with a small majority in the senate it's going to take a lot of work and, for example, when Ronald Reagan did tax reform, it died many deaths before finally coming over the line. And I know Senator McConnell, more than anybody else, wants to see Obamacare repealed and replaced with something that will be good for the citizens of Kentucky as well as for the American people. And we're turning now to other critical legislation to get consensus to move forward and fulfill those promises.

BALDWIN: Congressman Davis, let me just play you some sound. This is how some fellow republicans -- this is how they feel about the senate majority leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NED RYUN, CEO, AMERICAN MAJORITY: Oh, by the way, let's not forget, Kate, that press conference at the first of the year with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell laying out and saying we're going to accomplish these things in the first 200 days and then Mitch McConnell crawls out of his turtle shell to lecture the president and his supporters on excessive expectations. This is absurd and ridiculous.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITIAL CONTRIBUTOR: McConnell has been allowed to hide on the sidelines, not say anything, zip his lips, let Paul Ryan take all of the heat. I'm sorry Mitch McConnell, you've been majority leader for a long time. The fact that you didn't have these bills ready to go, rock and roll, like Harry Reid did when President Obama became president.


BALDWIN: Congressman Davis, you've been a gentlemen in this conversation over this. But - I mean, you heard those are republicans saying that. How do you respond to that sort of friendly fire?

DAVIS: I don't know - I don't know who those -- I don't know who those republicans were, but I would point back to especially the gentle lady that commented on Harry Reid's locked and loaded policies. If I remember correctly, as a member of congress, he was not as successful as he would have liked have been on many fronts except when he had a working super majority of 60 democratic senators and even then fell short on many legislate efforts.

BALDWIN: But even now know you have republican-controlled, you know, senate, house and that a republican in the White House. Let me ask - let me ask you one more and then I'll let you go. What do you think makes more sense, the strategy here that the president is using with regard to the senate majority leader or the strategy with Kim Jong-un in North Korea?

DAVIS: Well, that's something completely different to ask about. I think we need to make our messages --

BALDWIN: Pretty big - pretty big language either way.

DAVIS: I'm a fan of Theodore Roosevelt walking softly and carrying a big stick. And I think that as we set expectations and seek to meet them, we have to understand the real world, the dynamic world in which we operate. You know, I learned that a long time ago as an army ranger and an aviator in the Middle East. So situations change. We keep our eyes on the end goal. A lot of good things have been accomplished by this republican congress and the president. And I'm hopeful there will be more. But it doesn't mean that everything works out in a perfect manner in the end.

BALDWIN: Congressman Jeff Davis, thank you so much for your time.

DAVIS: Thank you. BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, sources are telling us that the

news of this predawn FBI raid on Paul Manafort's home has, "Rattled the cages of the president's inner circle." We'll talk live to the filmmaker who's had the only interview with Paul Manafort this year.