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North Korea Outlines Plans to Fire Ballistic Missiles Toward Guam; Interview with Senator Ron Johnson; Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about potential weapons being used against Guam.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea issuing another threat after mocking President Trump's fire and fury warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got two schoolyard bullies trying to play I've got a bigger gun than you've got.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president is sending a strong message in language that Kim Jong-un would understand.

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We have to be very wise to navigate around the egomania that is taking place on both sides.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We've failed for 30 years. It's time to try something new.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We've now learned the FBI raided Paul Manafort's home last month, confiscated materials for the special counsel's investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not going to let people sit back and stall the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This means that Mueller's team believes that crimes took place. This is a big deal.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, North Korea appears to have crossed President Trump's red line with a new threat in which the North is outlining a specific plan to fire ballistic missiles into the water near Guam.

The general in charge of North Korea's missile program also slamming President Trump as, quote, "bereft of reason." He dismisses President Trump's fire and fury warning as, quote, "nonsense."

CUOMO: The Trump administration giving somewhat mixed messages, certainly tiered language, the president using stern language, fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen. But then you're hearing from the State Department and other officials that Americans can sleep at night despite these rising nuclear tensions.

So what will we hear from the White House today? We have it all covered. We have the global resources of CNN in effect.

Let's begin with CNN's Will Ripley live in Beijing. What are you hearing, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we know that North Korea is essentially insulting the president saying they don't take him seriously, calling his fire and fury remarks a load of nonsense, and also saying he fails to grasp the severity of the situation on the Korean peninsula.

So what they're laying out here is truly extraordinary. They have detailed technical plan that they say they could pull off potentially in a matter of days to launch four intermediate-range missiles from the Korean peninsula, 2100 miles to the island of Guam, a U.S. territory, home to more than 160,000 American citizens.

They say they will launch their Hwasong-12. We know it has a range believed to be at least 2300 miles. So that puts Guam well within striking range. It could reach the island in less than 20 minutes. Those missiles would potentially come down, North Korea says, less than 20 miles from the island. And of course, with questions about the accuracy of North Korean missiles, there is some serious concern about safety if there were to be an overshot, for example.

But North Korea seems fairly confident that they could pull off a test like this. I want to read you a quote from General This is a quote from General Kim Rak Gyom of the Korean People's Army. He says about President Trump, "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him."

And North Korea also trying to show force by staging a massive anti U.S. rally in Kim Il-sung Square in the center of Pyongyang, their capital. It's a place I visited many times. Hundreds of thousands of North Korean citizens attending this mandatory rally chanting anti U.S. slogans and speaking out against the United States and specifically President Trump.

Now we have to watch and see how the U.S. will respond after North Korea clearly has crossed the president's red line -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right. Will, thank you very much for all of that information.

Meanwhile, North Korea says, as you heard Will say, that it has its plans to launch missiles near Guam within days as the Pentagon prepares for a preventive attack against Pyongyang involving launching B-1B bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Guam for us with more. What have you learned, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, the governor of Guam, Eddy Calvo, I spoke with him at length. And he says that there has been no raising of the threat level here for this U.S. island despite these threats coming from Pyongyang. He pointed out that for missiles to reach here from North Korea, they would have to pass through an umbrella of defense and security architecture that includes the U.S. and the South Korean military and then the Japanese defense forces and the U.S. military stationed on Japan before reaching Guam itself, which is also protected by several American military installations as well as the THAAD missile defense system which was deployed here after 2013 when the North Koreans made a previous threat against this American island.

So he is insisting that there is ample defense mechanisms in place here and there is no need to panic. We're not seeing any signs of panic on the streets or the beaches of Guam where I watched people and tourists snorkeling today.

[07:05:02] There is some increased concern, however. One mother I spoke with of two young children, she said she has had to inform her 6- and 8-year-olds to be prepared in the event of a drill or a real- life scenario -- Chris.

CUOMO: Ivan, scary business, thank you very much.

White House officials sending mixed messages, different messages, describe it the way you like. The president and his Defense secretary did send warnings to Pyongyang. The secretary of State says that diplomacy will prevail.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with more. I know that this has gotten tons of headlines, but fire and fury versus Americans can sleep safe at night is going to create a little bit of confusion.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I think that's definitely the case, Chris. You know, administration officials pushing back saying there are no mixed messages, people are just speaking with different voices about the same issue. But make no mistake that words do matter here, and if you look at the words of President Trump and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, you might come to your own conclusion. Have a listen.


TRUMP: North Korea best not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

TILLERSON: I think Americans should sleep well at night. I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.


STARR: So the secretary of state clearly speaking of the rhetoric of the last few days, hard to see what he means other than the president's rhetoric.

Then secretary of Defense, James Mattis, after all of this, also weighing in with a statement. Let me read part of that to you. He says, "The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people." Again, words matter. Very tough words from the Defense secretary.

Now the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president's statement, fire and fury, were his own words -- Alisyn, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Barbara, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in the panel. CNN political analyst John Avlon, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, Rear Admiral John Kirby and "Washington Post" reporter Carol Leonnig.

All right. It's good to have you all with us.

John, what's your take.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I mean, first of all, there's -- obviously the administration is not speaking with one voice. The administration does what it does with this president, they're trying to contain this president after he freelanced a comment and spoke casually about the specter of nuclear war.

And immediately everyone tried to contain it because it was not coordinated with the National Security Council. But this is an escalating situation. When you've got North Korea saying, you know, someone is without reason, you know, from the hermit kingdom, that's pretty sort of dark way ironic. But the escalation continues. This problem is not going to be solved. It wasn't helped yesterday by the president.

CAMEROTA: And yet, John Kirby, we hear from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Americans should sleep well at night. We just heard from Ivan Watson on Guam that there seems to be no panic on Guam, people are still going to the beaches. So is this just rhetoric ratcheting up or is something else happening?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I think it started as rhetoric ratcheting up and now has become a much more tangible threat by the North Koreans. Look, I've been involved in defense issues for a long time. I've never seen a statement out of Pyongyang like the one we saw yesterday. And I'm not saying we all need to dig bunkers in the back yard and I think having a sense of calm here is a good thing. But that was a very specific threat that I think obviously the national security establishment is going to have to take seriously.

Look, I think John Avlon had it right. This was the equivalent of the president, you know, jumping off the high dive and now everybody is scrambling to build a swimming pool for him to land in. Everybody is trying to kind of come together and put some context behind what he said. That's why Secretary Tillerson was trying to calm people down and say, look, diplomacy can still work.

AVLON: Right.

KIRBY: And why Mattis was saying look, we've got to be ready.

CUOMO: But it's the first time, Carol, we've seen a one-two punch. You know, we've been playing with the language, the irony of the president, fire and fury, sounds like sound and fury from the Shakespeare quote, the Shakespeare quote says that ultimately it signifies nothing. And often that can happen with this kind of hot talk. North Korea is ratcheting up, the president ratchets it up. Other officials take it back down, that's not that unusual.

CAROL LEONNIG, NATIONAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it is pretty unusual because our country is expected to speak in a certain way with both its enemies and its allies. And that's usually in a pretty calm, diplomatic voice. But this president has shown a predilection for tough talk. He values tough talk actually.

The difference is this isn't like the New Jersey casino world or the New York real estate world. This is him as the voice of both American military and the American State Department.

[07:10:06] And he really loves it when you dice it up and punch around but that's not what most countries expect from us.

AVLON: Yes, look, the price of greatness is responsibility, as Churchill said a long time ago. And remember the heat George W. Bush took for saying in the wake of 9/11 that he wanted bin Laden dead or alive. That was considered kind of gunslinger move.

This is so far outside the language of power and responsibility. And if you try to do the other historical parallel and say well, it's just really Richard Nixon's mad men theory and he's trying to move that ball forward. I think that's trying to enforce structure, order and reason where there isn't any.

CUOMO: Well, the president is tired of our discussion of North Korea this morning. And he's injected a different topic, another battle to discuss.

"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."

So, Carol, when your hear those kinds of words -- again, not the sharpest language that we've heard from the president, but taking on one of his own that he needs, he needs this man to deliver for him. Your take on the strategy?

LEONNIG: Well, it's hard to really compute how many people the president has said were his great allies and friends and then has publicly repudiated or humiliated. Look at --


CUOMO: We have only seen the second part of that personally. We cannot speak to the first part. (LAUGHTER)

LEONNIG: I just think it's really striking. You have, you know, for example, Jeff Sessions, one of the first and only senators that stood with Donald Trump when he was running for president, and what does he get for his loyalty but some public humiliation over and over again in these tweets? What does Mitch McConnell get for trying to deliver something that both his base and the president's base --

CUOMO: But he didn't deliver. Fair point, he didn't deliver. The president inherited this promise of repeal and replace.


CUOMO: Right? I mean, he's got a reason to be frustrated.

AVLON: He campaigned on it as hard as anybody and he showed zero presidential leadership in trying to actually stay focused on that agenda. The week they were trying to focus on health care were weeks he's busy tweeting about other subjects and stepping on his own message. So there's culpability on the part of the president, which he can't seem to accept. And let's be careful about chasing these radioactive squirrels across the transit because guess what, Senate is on break, folks.

Donald Trump can be tweeting about the health care bill from Bedminster, it's really dumb to pick a fight with Mitch McConnell but it's also got little to do with, you know, reality which unfortunately right now seems to be escalation with North Korea.

CAMEROTA: And John --

CUOMO: Did you just say radioactive squirrels?

CAMEROTA: Radioactive squirrel?

AVLON: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

CAMEROTA: You win.

AVLON: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: John Kirby, to that point, why isn't the White House singular -- well, single mindedly focused on North Korea given this -- what appears to be ratcheting of tension?

KIRBY: Well, I think -- I do think that his National Security team has been rightly focused on this. Look, of all the national security issues that this administration has dealt with, I believe they've handled the North Korea one with the most careful, thoughtful and deliberative approach, aside from the president's rhetoric and where he seems to be going on this.

And so I think he's got -- the team is rightfully focused on this. I don't -- I'm not worried about that. And any White House has to be able to do more than one thing at a time and clearly handle domestic issues as well. So I'm not too concerned about that.

I do think Secretary Tillerson, Mattis, Ambassador Haley, General McMaster, they're right -- they're focused on this like they need to be.

CAMEROTA: OK. That's good to know. All right. Carol, you broke the news -- you broke the big story about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the raid, the FBI raid at his home. Tell us about what the FBI was looking for. Do we know if he wasn't being forthcoming somehow in turning over documents?

LEONNIG: So what we know so far is that they -- it was a wide ranging request or a demand really because that's what a search warrant is, a demand, give me what I want, whatever I want, whatever I see, I can take.

What we know about what they sought were both banking and personal tax records, but also a series of documents that are alleged to be attorney-client privileged document involving his preparation for speaking to Congress and answering their questions about alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

You'll remember that Paul Manafort was the chairman of Trump's campaign for a period of time, until there was a lot of embarrassment about his lucrative career lobbying for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party and the failure to report those proceeds and receipts.


CUOMO: And Trump's outrage about what happened with Melania's speech. Don't forget about that part of the calculus either at the convention when they wound up throwing Melania under the trump -- under the Trump. Under the bus when that speech writer lifted some of the language from Michelle Obama. That was a problem, also.

[07:15:02] What does the reporting reveal, Carol, in terms of the intentionality by the special counsel here? Is this because Manafort wasn't cooperating? Is this because they believed he might not cooperate? Was this just a show of force?

LEONNIG: So it could have very well been just a show of force, like we're not kidding around, Mr. Manafort. We are looking at you for potential crimes. And you have to convince a judge that indeed there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. In this one, there's a decent amount of public evidence of a potential crime, failure to report, false statements, documents and tax liability, lots of liability there.

But whether or not Mueller thinks that Manafort was going to cooperate with a subpoena, it's unclear. What we do know is a judge was convinced that there was fear about whether or not these records would be turned over voluntarily.

CAMEROTA: Carol, thanks so much for sharing your reporting with us this morning.

John Kirby, John Avlon, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right. So why did Senator Ron Johnson suggest John McCain's brain cancer possibly affected his decisive no vote on Obamacare's repeal? Did he really mean it the way that it's being interpreted?

The senator is here. He's going to talk about that. We're going to talk about North Korea and then he has brought his charts to explain to you the businessman's perspective on how to fix health care. All that coming up.


[07:20:28] CUOMO: Senator Ron Johnson says he was taken out of context, but he's certainly under fire for comments about Senator John McCain's decisive no vote on health care. Here is a part of the discussion in question.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), MICHIGAN: We did get a call in Paul, and he assured us that skinny repeal not going to pass the House, it would have to go to conference. Again I'm not going to speak for John McCain. He has a brain tumor right now. That vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have affected him.

I don't know exactly what -- we really thought yes, I don't want to speak for any senator, I really thought John was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1:00, 1:30, he voted no. So you have to ask John in terms of what was on his mind.


CUOMO: Senator McCain's office responded, "It's bizarre, deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend. Senator McCain has been very open and clear about his reasons for his vote. Communications director for Senator John McCain said that.

Well, we have Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin with us now. He's the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, also a businessman most of your adult life. We're going to spend a different segment on this show going through the schematics you put together, charts to show people what has to be done on health care. But I know you want to clear this up.


CUOMO: You are known as a gentleman in the Senate. What did you mean about John McCain? What did you not mean?

JOHNSON: First of all, I have the deepest respect for John McCain. And, you know, in no way was I trying to criticize him. If anything, I was trying to defend his position. A lot of us had a real problem with that skinny repeal and we weren't going to vote for it until we got that assurance from Paul. So, listen, I was trying to defend his position and truthfully just

express my sympathy for his health condition. So again, I reached out to John, I'm hoping the talk to him today. I just have the greatest respect for John McCain.

CUOMO: And to be clear, do you believe, despite the fight that John -- McCain is going to fight the way none of us could, do you believe that he's on his game? Do you believe that his cancer should be an issue?

JOHNSON: No. Absolutely. I mean, we held a press conference. And that -- listen, I was just expressing sympathy for his condition. You know, again, no, I've got the greatest respect for John McCain. He's not impaired in any way, shape or form.

CUOMO: All right. That's done. Now someone who says they want to own every bit of what they're saying is the president of the United States with the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. He has tweeted again this morning. He's taking another shot at McConnell. He is frustrated and he is putting the lack of health care on you guys.

You have been swearing that you would repeal and replace it for all these years. McConnell says it's unreasonable expectation. The president disagrees and is saying he should have gotten this done. What do you make of the president calling out the majority leader?

JOHNSON: We should have gotten this done. I mean, the ball was in our court.

CUOMO: Fair point, you're saying.

JOHNSON: President Trump is at his desk with a pen ready to sign what Congress was going to send him and we didn't. I completely feel his frustration. I'm every bit as frustrated. The fact of the matter is the process isn't ending there. Obamacare is a mess, that's not going away and we have responsibility to do everything we can to fix that mess.

CUOMO: Now remember, Senator Johnson isn't just saying it, it's not just hype. We've got these charts we're going to go over in another second. But let's talk about the political play here. You go after McConnell as the president of the United States in public, on Twitter, whatever, people see it. You need him to motivate the agenda. Is this the right tactic in your opinion?

JOHNSON: I'll let this president speak for himself and his tactics. But the fact of the matter is we need to come up with the policies to reduce gross premiums. That's what we'll be talking about. And we need to be courageous and we need to be honest in terms of what the root cause analysis is. And that's in the lap of Congress, that's in the lap of the House and the Senate.

And you know, obviously we need as much help and support from the administration as well as we're doing this. But also when it comes to health care, governors. I've been working with Scott Walker and a group of governors, working on the Lindsey Graham-Bill Cassidy, also the block grant in states.

And rather than have a one-size-fits-all model that isn't working particularly for those forgotten men and women that Bill Clinton were talking about -- was talking about, busting it at work, at 60 hours a week, seeing their premiums double, the coverage cut in half. And they can't afford health care coverage. So we've got to address that root cause and we've got to make sure that those men and women aren't forgotten.

CUOMO: So let's talk about something else that's on the table today. North Korea.

[07:25:03] The president's words, fire and fury. And then you heard something different from the secretary of state, seeming to kind of take the temperature down. This could be interpreted two ways. One is this is good cop, bad cop, this is a one-two punch. The other one is it's an inconsistent message, the president was freelancing again and caught his own White House off guard on something that really matters. Your take?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I don't think the statements are inconsistent. What Secretary Tillerson is saying North Korea yet, at this point in time, cannot threaten America. But they're rapidly approaching that point where they could.

For decades on a bipartisan basis, presidents, members of Congress have been saying it's unacceptable that North Korea has nuclear weapons or ballistic missile technology to deliver them. Well, they've got nuclear weapons now.

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSON: And they are fast approaching the point where they have an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver that to America.

Now everybody is saying that was unacceptable. Diplomatic speech hasn't worked. You have a president who is saying we're not going to put up with it. The end of patient strategy -- strategic patience is over. And I would advise North Korea, China, Russia, anybody that has influence that supports North Korea to pay attention to what this president is saying. We are not going to allow --


CUOMO: What are you suggesting you'll do? Saying I will bring the fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen when you're talking about somebody who may very well have a nuclear arsenal. Sound to suggest like you were about to go to war. That's different than saying it's unacceptable, we're going to find ways to shut it down.

JOHNSON: Well, listen, where there's an eminent threat or they launch something, what should we do? Let's say they launch at Guam. What would be expected the American president to do, other than bring down the fire and fury?

CUOMO: No. So you're willing to support military action against North Korea?

JOHNSON: If they are threatening us and they start launching at our territories, what else are we going to do? Sit back and take it? No. That's why we have a military. Again, what we need to do is we need to pressure because China has not had obviously, has not responded to what pressure has been brought to bear in the past.

They've got rein their (INAUDIBLE). They've got to stop their testing of ballistic missiles, hopefully long term. We've got to ratchet that down. You know, I think what President Trump is doing is sending a signal not only to North Korea but also to the people around the dear leader as well as China and Russia.

I think that's a -- they have got to pay attention to this president. Look what he did with Syria. He didn't fool around. He responded immediately. And I think that hopefully made a real impression on the Chinese president.

CUOMO: All right. Well, we'll see where the words leave us. And you will stay, please, Senator. And we're going to get much deeper into the case to the American people about what the senator believes you should do to fix Obamacare and change the system.

So stay with us for that -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Chris, how can the escalating conflict with North Korea be defused? Two generals share their ideas next.