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Threats between U.S. and North Korea; Trump Thanks Putin for Cuts; Google Cancels Town Hall; Trump Declares Drug Epidemic. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 11, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:16] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this just in, Russia's foreign minister says the ongoing war of words between North Korea and the United States is, quote, very worrying, because the, quote, risks are very high.

This after we certainly have seen tensions escalate this morning. North Korea state news agency says President Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to, quote, the brink of nuclear war.

President Trump responding, writing, military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.

Let's talk about all of this and more. David Drucker is here, CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," and Lynn Sweet joins us, the Washington bureau chief for "The Chicago Sun-Times."

Lynn, let me begin with you.

This is a, you know, one-for-one, match-for-match escalation in rhetoric from the U.S. president and North Korea. Now the administration argues, look, years and years and years of more quiet diplomacy has not worked, and that is correct. However, the question becomes, who is responsible for lowering the temperature here?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": The president, at the moment, Donald Trump, is responsible for everything that happens in North Korea. No matter how we got here, this is the day, this is the place, and this escalating rhetoric is putting, as everyone is saying, the nation's on the brink of a conflict that is very, very serious. Which is why when Trump says something in a tweet or in a statement, whether or not it's on or off the cuff, it's very important because North Korea is trying to figure out if Trump is going to make a move and what they should do in reply.

HARLOW: So, David, the White House's argument here is that it is not helpful to telegraph to North Korea your plans. But at the same time, isn't it helpful to at least be on the same page publicly for the American people? And what I mean by that is that the message from the secretary of state is Americans should sleep well at night. The message from General Mattis, the defense secretary, is diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy. Yes, the military's ready, but diplomacy first. And the language used from the president is strong this morning. I mean, the military's locked and loaded should North Korea act unwisely. Do you think that is an intentional calculation by this White House or is it confusing the American people?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the fact that we're trying to figure this out means that it is confusing. I think that what makes the president's remarks jarring is that they're delivered only through tweets, which limit you to 140 characters. And he's not talking about this as a part of a broader U.S. strategy and a more conventional setting that I think would complement the tweeting very well and give Americans a better idea of what he plans to do, what the stakes are and where this thing could be headed.

[09:35:12] I think that's a necessary part of his leadership so that he has the American people behind him and he has -- he's able to reassure them that he is dealing with the threat and dealing with it in the best manner possible. And so when we only see tweets, I don't think it's the message from the tweet that's necessarily the problem, I think it's that we're not getting that in addition to -- coupled with a broader explanation of how the president views this problem.

And while unpredictability in tactics is, I think, a virtue, unpredictability in overall values and overall philosophy can be very disconcerting. So I think the president has to -- I think we need to cut the president some slack here in that in three previous administrations trying to dial back the temperature has not succeeded in ever dialing back the threat. And that's what the president is trying to deal with here.

HARLOW: Right. As we've noted many times, I hear your point.

Lynn Sweet, on Russia, just something so confusing to so many people yesterday in these press conferences that the president held, let's just listen to what he said to a question about his response to Russia kicking out all of those, you know, all of those diplomats and their staff from Russia. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, 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.


KEILAR: I was looking for a smile, seeing, is he being flip. I didn't see it. What do you make of it?

SWEET: It's a bizarre answer for the following reasons. One, factually, he's not cutting a payroll of the U.S. nationalists who are coming back. They are still going to be employees of the State Department. They're not being fired. They're being reassigned. There may be some Russian nationals, when they count this, also in a number as big as these mass expulsions, they may also include some vacancies of people who aren't there.

So the amount of money saved is not what is at issue here. Putin wanted to punish the U.S. and our president is thanking him for it as if he was dealing with some summer help. It's also very disrespectful to career diplomats who are being treated as excessive, maybe nonessential, not even needed people and treated with one broad brush. That's just to start in the top lines of how bizarre this statement was from President Trump.

HARLOW: Quickly, David Drucker, before we go, I mean, you know, as Lynn points to, these diplomats, like the highest of them, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he said by September 1st we will have a response to Russia on expelling these diplomats. And the president just responded and undercut him, did he not?

DRUCKER: Well, even though the president didn't smile, Poppy, and I, just like you, was looking for, you know, a little raise of the eyebrow there, I'm going to assume that -- I'm going to interpret that as he was being flip. First of all, they weren't all diplomats. All right, there are a lot of people that engage in spy stuff that were part of that -- the expulsions. Diplomats on both sides are often a mixture, number one.

Number two, I think the president is, although he still refuses to criticize Vladimir Putin, he still refuses to be as tough on Russia as he is on other adversaries and even allies, I think in this case whether or not the president's figured out what he wants to do about this yet, I'm not taking this one at face value. And the literally serious -- the arguments we have, I'll give him that --

HARLOW: Yes, but, David, if they're not -- I hear you on diplomats.


HARLOW: I hear you on diplomats. Of course we know what that means and can mean more, right? Why -- wouldn't that further the argument that you wouldn't want them out of the country?

DRUCKER: Yes, that would further that argument. And I just don't think we've seen the last of this. I mean the statement is either an example of gross ignorance on the part of the president or the fact that he didn't want to give Putin a win and they haven't either decided what they're going to do about it or they don't want to reveal what they're going to do about it.

And this is one of those cases where it would be so obvious for him not to understand what happened given the advisors he has around them and just given common sense that it, to me, struck me as the height of sarcasm. Usually we see it in a tweet. Here we saw it in the spoken word. And I just -- I just think this time the president has to understand a lot more about what is going on than what he was willing to talk about.

HARLOW: Just shouldn't be left up to us to try to figure out if he's saying that in jest or not.

DRUCKER: No disagreement there.

HARLOW: But I'm glad you can channel the president because I'm having a hard time this morning.

David Drucker, Lynn Sweet, thank you very much.

[09:39:54] It is not just a Google controversy anymore. Reaction coming from across the country after one of the company's engineers wrote this controversial memo about why there are fewer women in tech jobs and pointed to biology. We'll dig in, next.


HARLOW: Days after a controversial memo on gender has rocked Google, the tech giant's CEO abruptly cancels a town hall meant to talk about all of it just minutes before it was set to start. Our Laurie Segall has been following it all, breaking news left and right on this.

And you've been talking to people on the inside. You had some of the questions that were set to be asked.


HARLOW: And that was kind of part of them canceling this.

SEGALL: Right. Yes, you talk about leaks. We received a lot of the questions employees wanted answered. Some questions about, you know, I'm conservative, can I voice my opinion. Some about diversity and these controversial questions brought up. And then a lot of the folks, actually a lot of people who leaked the information, some alt-right sites, actually put Google's employees' personal information out there. I'm told that one employee had -- got a death threat.

So immediately before Sundar Pichai, the CEO, canceled it, he sent out a memo. I'm going to read it to you. He said, we'd hoped to have a frank and honest discussion to bring us together, move this forward. But he went onto say that, you know, a lot of this was leaked and Googlers are concerned for their safety.

[09:45:14] And, you know, I spoke to someone inside Google who said this is unprecedented that something like this has happened.


SEGALL: You know, this isn't just about diversity now. Now we're entering politics.

HARLOW: It certainly has become political. There's a big, fascinating really worth read David Brooks (ph) column --


HARLOW: In "The New York Times" about this, this morning, arguing that this has only been portrayed from one side. SEGALL: Yes, look, I think you have a lot of women and a lot of

frustration at some of the narratives that this guy put out there, but he also said that Google is left leaning and there's not a lot of conversation on the other side. And it kind of plays into that narrative when, you know, he was let go, even though the CEO made it clear he was let go because he was putting forward these bad gender stereotypes.

But it definitely has kind of entered this conversation. And I'll tell you, I spoke to a -- the CEO of a billion dollar company in Silicon Valley. He doesn't want to be named.


SEGALL: And what he said to me is, Laurie, these companies now, we're democratic institutions. You know, we're all fighting for talent and culture is a big part of that. And he said, you know, Uber proved that with what happened and this memo on how the CEO proved that. And he said leadership has to act. And I thought this was such a fascinating point, he said, because talent, engineers can vote with their feet. They can walk out the door if they don't like what's happening at the company.

HARLOW: If they don't like the culture.

SEGALL: Absolutely. Yes.

HARLOW: Wow, that's a -- that is a tough line to walk for executives, right?


HARLOW: Right, you want to protect free speech.


HARLOW: You also want to bring the best talent.


HARLOW: What do you do?

Laurie, thank you very much for the reporting. We appreciate it.

SEGALL: Thank you.

HARLOW: The president declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. What does that actually mean though for the millions of Americans addicted? Dr. Sanjay Gupta on that next.


[09:51:11] HARLOW: President Trump has now declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, promising more time and money to tackle the epidemic. What does that actually mean? With us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who I should note, Sanjay, you have been on this crisis covering it for years -- years before it made the national headlines. You have a unique perspective on this. What is it going to mean for people addicted and parents with kids addicted, that this is now a national emergency?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know for sure yet. I mean when we think of national emergencies, you typically think of something that's happening right at the time, a hurricane, for example, or an outbreak of an infectious disease. So this is unusual in the sense of using the National Emergency Act around this opioid.

But a lot of people in the public health community have said it's necessary. It may, ultimately, as you point out, free up resources and money. But I think also there's still, despite how much it's been talked about the past few years, within hospitals, within the medical structure overall, I think it also is a -- is a wake-up call to public health departments that we are going make this a top priority in terms of prescribing guidelines, in terms of how hospitals are operating within the opioid crisis, the beds that they may free up. So we'll -- we will see. Hopefully there will be some more definition around this, but, you know, it's such a huge cause of unintentional death in this country that this seemed necessary within the public health community.

HARLOW: Certainly. The president said in his statement out earlier this week that the best way to prevent this is for people not to even start using opioids. Now, Chris Christie, the Governor Chris Christie, who has run this White House commission on opioids said on this network, four out of five people start because of what they're prescribed by doctors. It seems like those two statements are not on the same page. I mean this is an issue starting in doctors' offices mainly, is it not?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean I think what you can say is that the vast majority, for example, of new heroin addicts start off taking pain pills. Sometimes those pain pills are legitimately prescribed. Sometimes they're getting these pain pills in other ways. But, yes, I mean typically, nowadays, a heroin addict starts off with pain pills. And we way over prescribe in this country. Way over prescribe. I mean we talk about 80 percent of the world's opioid doses coming into the United States. We're not even 5 percent of the world's population and we're taking 80 percent of the world's pain pills. So no question that that's part of the problem.

But I also want to point out, Poppy, I know you've reported on this, there are -- there are millions of people who are currently addicted. And that's part of this as well. So you can't just say it's best not to start. Of course it's best not to start.

HARLOW: Right.

GUPTA: We have a real problem that's already taking play (ph).

HARLOW: What do you think, given how long you've covered this and how in-depth and you have a big special coming up at the end of the month, what is not being talked about enough? What makes you worry, Sanjay, when you look at the crisis? GUPTA: Well, we -- with other things that we know can be extremely

helpful, but they're a bit controversial as well.


GUPTA: I'll give you a couple of examples. Medically assisted therapy, MAT, using certain medications to basically help people wean off of opioids. They're very addictive. You help them wean off. Supporters say it's an effective way to try and get people out of addiction. Critics will say you're trading one drug for another.

Naloxone or Narcan can reverse an overdose. You see this, people who are going to die of an overdose, get this medication and it can help them start breathing again. Supporters will say you're saving a life. Critics will say you're giving people a safety net and emboldening them to continue to use drugs. So these are part of the problem -- part of the controversies, I should say.

But it's part of this emergency, you know, you might have more Naloxone widely available. You may have more medically assisted therapy. You may have more hospital beds for people who are currently at risk of death due to opioids. So those are the sorts of things that I think are talked about within the hospital and the public health community that's potentially helping.

[09:55:09] HARLOW: That would be all really welcome news. And I know we all hope it helps the millions of Americans and their families struggling with this, including kids.


HARLOW: Sanjay, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Yes, Poppy, thank you.

HARLOW: A war of words between the president of the United States and North Korea's leader. We are following these fast moving developments this morning. Stay with us.


[09:59:59] HARLOW: Top of the hour. Good morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

President Trump escalating his rhetoric in response to continued threats from North Korea, fire and fury, his words on Tuesday. His words today, locked and loaded. Here is the president's latest statement on Twitter.