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North Korea, Trump Continue War of Words; Russia China Working on a Plan to Prevent U.S. and North Korea Conflict; Manafort's Son-in- Law Met with DOJ Investigators. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 11, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You are saying this administration doesn't have a clue how to deal with North Korea?


HARLOW: What do you mean? You just said no one has a clue.

KINGSTON: Well, I'm saying the critics who are all saying oh, the president shouldn't be saber rattling with a madman. Well, you don't really know. But I would say this in terms of the approach with North Korea, I think it's comprehensive. I think it's diplomatic. I think it's backchannel. I think it's covert. I think there's a lot of cards that are being played right now that we don't know about.

HARLOW: I want to get Errol in here. It sounds like what the congressman is saying respectfully is, this is sort of a Nixonian- Kissinger madman theory. Good cop, bad cop, do you buy it?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The problem with the madman -- applying the madman theory is that it relies on at least one of the parties not being a madman. Right? So if you do this and you're actually dealing with a madman, you can't outcrazy Kim Jong-un. I mean, when you hear him and the president sort of trading these kind of comic book exchanges about I will bring fire and fury and this kind of a thing, they always sort of win, those rhetorical exchanges because, you know, there's a complete insanity to it.

They've got an economy the size of Vermont, they've got nuclear weapons and they can threaten people all over the world, not just the United States, but those same missiles could reach Beijing. Could reach Moscow. So we've got a very dangerous, unstable situation.

For the president to try this -- I mean, the one thing I would agree with the congressman on is that decades of attempts to try and contain and control this have not succeeded.


LOUIS: So if you want to just try crazy rhetoric and see -- throw that against the wall and see where it gets you, well, that's where we are now. And it's not a particularly sound strategy --

HARLOW: Hold that thought. Hold that thought. Tara, weigh in here. And also on -- do you agree with the congressman on -- I don't understand the president messaging with Putin here. It doesn't seem to apply to all adversaries. One of my other guests last hour said he was being flipped. I didn't see a smile, so I don't know. What do you make of this?

TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He does sound like he's being flipped but in a way he's putting forward a very safe statement. At the same time he's not condemning Putin. You know, he's saying thank you. It's not a flip, but he's not willing to go out against him and say what you did was wrong. Remember he never actually supported the sanctions. He reluctantly signed the bill.

Now at the end of the day, are we really going to save much money from this? Not really because a lot of these diplomats are going to be reassigned to other posts throughout the country and the few people that are probably going to lose their jobs were Russian locals that were working.

HARLOW: Let's remember, diplomats often serve more than just diplomatic purposes. And that Russians --


PALMERI: -- service.

HARLOW: Well, also, you know, there's more there, too, right?


HARLOW: When you talk about having eyes on Russia and you could argue is removing some key assets.

On the transgender, it's not getting a lot of attention, but it's really important because you speak, Congressman, just about the broader messaging. The president said that he's doing a great service, a great favor to the military through his Twitter announcement about transgenders not being able to serve in the military.

As you know, the Pentagon has said and the military has said, we're not enacting that because they haven't told us how to do so.

KINGSTON: I was on Armed Services Committee and had the honor of representing five military installations. And I can tell you, regardless of your sex, gender, age, deployability is absolutely. everything. If you're a young captain, you've got to know how many of your troops are ready to hop on a C-130 tomorrow and parachute into an area or go do something --

HARLOW: Wait. What does being transgender have to do with that? I mean, the military has said they are confused by this. They don't know how to implement it because the White House hasn't told them how to and then the president says he's doing them a great favor.

KINGSTON: Well, Poppy, deployability has everything to do with it because what their concern is you spend hundreds of thousands, up to a million dollars training somebody, then he or she decides to change sex and it could be a --

HARLOW: So you know that's not the majority of transgender people serving in the military, right?


KINGSTON: It's a very, very small percent.

HARLOW: That's a tiny fraction.

KINGSTON: But I can say this, there is a question on the troop level about deployability because change in sexes, if you do it the right way, do it completely, it can take months and months and sometimes years. And so that's what it's about. It's about deployability. And I think what the president is doing is trying to force the hand of the military. So let's come to a decision about this because I know also I was there when they talk about --

HARLOW: He didn't wait, Errol, for Mattis to come out with this review of this policy.

LOUIS: That's right.

HARLOW: He went for it.

LOUIS: There are two conversations that are going on. One is sort of a civil rights and sort of human rights, the question about whether or not they should have access to the military and be treated fairly. But the other, which is really I thought more to your point is when the military says you can't just throw something out on Twitter, you know, there need to be orders. There need to be sort of a legal check on these things, there needs to be some kind of a deployment protocol, we have to sort of put this into our existing planning. You don't turn around something as big as the United States military based on 140 characters. It just doesn't work that way.


[10:35:04] LOUIS: I mean, I think that's really what they were saying.

KINGSTON: He did say he consulted with this -- his leaders.

HARLOW: Right. OK. The generals are saying we don't know how to implement it so nothing is happening yet.

PALMERI: Right. And the point is that they didn't expect him to go this far. A lot of Americans don't agree with the idea of paying for sex change. And that was the issue. They didn't want to have to pay for military personnel --

HARLOW: You know what the cost is. Right? RAND Corporation has estimated it somewhere between like $2 million and $8 million.

PALMERI: It's just a politically unpopular procedure in general but then he took it a thousand percent in the other direction, decided just to get rid of transgenders just in general which is not the direction that Mattis wanted it to go in. So it's really an example of Trump just being rogue, playing to what he think his base would like politically.

HARLOW: There was something very interesting that again I don't think is getting as much attention as perhaps, Congressman, and that is his praise of H.R. McMaster. Given the -- and you wrote about this, too, Tara, so I want you to weigh in. Given the sparring between Bannon and McMaster in the West Wing, the president came out and said I respect McMaster and I like him. And, you know, like basically saying he's here to stay.

KINGSTON: You know, from a Republican base standpoint, they were uncomfortable with his allowing Susan Rice to still have classified access.

HARLOW: Which is by the way typical, you know.

KINGSTON: Yes. And it's not that unusual --

HARLOW: It was not a special thing that he gave her.

KINGSTON: So I think the president deserves praise for saying, you know, he went against his base. He stood up for his team member and I think he did the right thing in this case, particularly with the tension that's going on in North Korea and McMaster is being --

HARLOW: So this -- you have a big article on this. Should this worry Bannon?

PALMERI: Well, the issue right now is that Bannon and McMaster have not been speaking for weeks. And Trump is clearly throwing his weight behind McMaster.

HARLOW: Today.

PALMERI: Exactly. But it's been for the past few days. He put out a statement over the weekend that's, well, in support of McMaster. And General Kelly is a friend of McMaster. He respects him. And so basically Bannon, who lost an ally in Reince Priebus.

HARLOW: Right.

PALMERI: He's becoming increasingly isolated in this White House and it's very important right now because they are hashing out the Afghanistan strategy. And we're expecting to hear --

HARLOW: Hugely important.

PALMERI: -- soon which way the president plans to go. Will he go with McMaster and do a mini surge or will he pull back the way that Bannon is suggesting?

HARLOW: Is this -- Errol, final thought. Is this the Kelly influence, who by the way is gracing the cover of "TIME" magazine this week? LOUIS: Yes. Uncomfortable place to be. I mean, look, in the jungle

warfare of the Trump White House, you've got a lot of different contending factions. You laid them out nicely. Tara has written about them. It's really unclear who is going to win or if President Trump wants any side to win. He likes the tension. I mean, in his commercial life he talked about it all the time. He writes about it in his books. He talks about it in conferences.

He likes having contending ideas and contending factions sort of battle it out and he steps in, not necessarily to pick a winner, but to sort of spur the next round of combat.

HARLOW: It's good -- every leader will say it's good to have opposing opinions around you. Not sure people not talking is the best idea. But I hear all of you. Thank you. Have a nice weekend. We appreciate it very much.

Ahead for us Russia and China working together on a plan to try to prevent a conflict between the United States and North Korea. We are going to bring you a live report on exactly what that means from Moscow, next.


[10:42:19] HARLOW: This morning, news that Russia is working with China on a plan to prevent a conflict between the United States and North Korea. This comes after Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called threats of military action between the two countries very worrying.

Let's go to Moscow. Our international correspondent Phil Black is there.

This is a new statement between Russia and China. What are they trying to do here?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today, Poppy, just to be clear, the Russian Foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, essentially said that he thinks it's up to America to blink first, take a step back and try to create a situation where North Korea, the United States and everyone else involved can talk about this and come to a solution.

He said this through describing what he's called the Russian-China plan for dealing with this. Now we've heard a little bit about this before. It basically involves the so-called double freeze whereby if North Korea agrees to freeze its nuke and missile testing, then the U.S. should agree to freeze the military drills that it often carries out with South Korea. Because the Russian view is that these activities tend to fuel one another, become self-perpetuating.

Now Lavrov says that he's been told by America repeatedly, by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, by his predecessor John Kerry, that that's not going to fly because missile tests and nuke tests, well, they've been outlawed by the Security Council whereby drills between allies that's perfectly fine. Lavrov, the Foreign minister, said well, he takes a different view.

He said that when it comes to a situation that is so dangerous and it's getting so close to a fight, he said that he thinks it's up to the smarter and more powerful person to take a step away from the dangerous line. And that's where he is implying pretty clearly that he believes, Russia believes, it's up to the U.S. not to contribute to this escalating tension, but to take a step back and try and create an environment where it's possible negotiations could take place -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Phil Black for us in Moscow. Thank you very much for that important update, we appreciate it.

Ahead for us, former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is hiring a new team of lawyers. Now why does that matter? Because it could very well point to the direction this Russia investigation is going. We'll break it down ahead.


[10:49:01] HARLOW: We've now learned that the son-in-law of President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, met with federal investigators in New York. Sources tell CNN during that meeting Manafort's son-in-law provided information, he also handed over documents. This material is now in the hands we hear of Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

Joining us with more, Shimon Prokupecz and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.

So, Shimon, this meeting and these documents being handed over happened a few months ago but we're just learning about it. Talk about the significance here.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, the significance here, Poppy, is clearly that everyone within the Manafort world is sort of being scrutinized. We believe his now estranged son- in-law and he were involved in some real estate business and now, as part of the special counsel's investigation here in D.C., they are looking at everything.

Now this investigation of the son-in-law we believe began before the special counsel got involved, before he started his investigation.

[10:50:04] But this may be an effort to sort of learn more about Manafort and even put the squeeze on the son-in-law to get him to cooperate against Manafort. You know, as you know, we just learned, you know, a few days ago, that a search warrant was executed at his home, in Manafort's home in Virginia.

Also some suspect there was an effort here to put pressure on Manafort, per happens to rile him, to get to seek his cooperation. But interestingly enough, you know, people close to Manafort have told us that the special counsel has not reached out to them seeking their cooperation, has not requested any documents. But it just seems like what they're doing is they're working around Manafort to try and get more information.

HARLOW: Something interesting too that we've learned, Joey Jackson, in the last 24 hours is that Paul Manafort has completely switched his legal team. And he has not hired lawyers at this, you know, fancy D.C. firm, to focus on taxes and financial investigations.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's pretty significant, Poppy. And here's why. Listen, initially, you hire lawyers who could potentially be well-connected and who could negotiate and talk and see whether or not there's a path to resolution. And then, of course, the investigation proceeds and you see how everything goes, and then it gets hot because as Shimon was talking about what happened was it was a no-knock warrant that was issued at the home.

What's the significance of that? The FBI doesn't warn you. They don't say we're going to be at your home tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. They show up in predawn hours, they go into your home and they take what they need. And so to the extent that the investigation is heating up and they're looking at financial transactions that Manafort was engaged in throughout the world, I said world, not United States, but around the world, what his transactions are.

Now it's not about negotiation and well-connected attorneys, it's about attorneys who are actually focused on tax law, who know the complexities of it.


JACKSON: And if push comes to shove can ultimately negotiate in a court of law that is due in a trial in order to, you know, protect the interest of their client. And that's what that's about.

HARLOW: And just to remember, there's been a lot of scrutiny around payments that it's been reported that Manafort may have received in terms of dealing with, you know, pro-Russian -- formerly pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

Shimon, let's listen to the president talking about this raid yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a very, very strong signal or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort, I haven't spoken to him in a long time, but I know he was with the campaign, as you know, for a very short period of time. Relatively a short period of time.

I've always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. And he's like a lot of people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place. Who knows? I don't know. But I thought that was a very -- it was pretty tough stuff, to wake him up, perhaps his family was there, I think that's pretty tough stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: All right. So two points, Shimon. A, he's distancing himself from Manafort. I think Manafort ran the campaign for five months. Not that short a time. But, B, he's also seems to be somewhat criticizing his own FBI.

PROKUPECZ: Well, right. I mean, not so much the FBI, I think he was even asked, you know, follow up if he had talked to the FBI director about this and he indicated he didn't. Yes, I mean, he clearly is taking some issues with the way the special counsel has been conducting the investigation. Remember, he has said and we have reported on this whole nexus to finances, this connection to now the special counsel looking at everyone's finances, even Donald -- some family members of Donald Trump.

And you know, Trump has said this is sort of a red line for him. And we had all -- we're waiting to see what he would do. So he has, Trump, the president, has taken issue with some of the direction that the special counsel investigation is, which right now at least from everything that we know based on subpoenas that have been issued, the search warrant and what they were looking for in the search warrant, which was financial documents, this is really an investigation that's diving deep into the finances of various people that were attached to the campaign and to, really, the Trump world.


JACKSON: Yes. I think that it's important to know and understand that the FBI functions as a separate entity. And particularly now you have a special counsel.


JACKSON: And so no matter what people's views are of the president, of whether there was or was not collusion, the issue is, is that the president doesn't control what the FBI does. Doesn't control, in essence, the going in, executing warrants, going to a judge. All of that stuff is done by and now of course with the special counsel. And so we have independent and separate branches of government.

I also hasten to add, Poppy, that we have congressional investigations that are going on. And we know that Manafort turned over, what do they say, 300 pages of documents? So I think there's a lot that's going to be gleamed from that. And a lot of that information is going to be useful. '

Final point, when you talk about executing a warrant, you just can't get a warrant for any reason.


JACKSON: There has to be a basis wherein you convince a judge that information is valuable and necessary and that there's probably cause to believe something.

[10:55:07] What that something is, we don't know, but it's significant. HARLOW: Believe a crime may have occurred.

JACKSON: Absolutely. But what that crime could potentially be, we don't know.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

JACKSON: But you don't just get a federal warrant from a judge by showing up and saying your honor, may I have one?

HARLOW: Yes. And as you noted, a no-knock one, at that.

Joey Jackson, thank you. Shimon, thank you as well, as always.

The war of words intensifying between the president of the United States and the North Korean leader this morning. President Trump saying military solutions are locked and loaded if North Korea acts unwisely. North Korea declaring President Trump, they say, is pushing to the brink of nuclear war.

We are of course following the latest. Stay with us.