Return to Transcripts main page


Trump To Address Nation Tonight On Afghanistan Strategy; Millions Flock To Witness Total Solar Eclipse; Remembering Comedian And Philanthropist Jerry Lewis. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:20] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump's going to unveil his strategy on Afghanistan in a primetime address to the nation tonight. Trump has always said the U.S. should get out but it doesn't seem that's what the president will announce tonight.

Joining us is James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence and a CNN security analyst. Good to have you, James.


CUOMO: So, Mr. Director, what do you think we're going to hear tonight from the president? Do you think he's going to say that the United State is getting out, like he has said all along during the campaign?

CLAPPER: Well, no I don't. At least, I certainly hope he doesn't say we're getting out.

Apart from the tremendous blood and treasure that we have invested in Afghanistan is its great importance as a counterterrorism platform, not only for Afghanistan but for the region. And if that's part of the strategy, which I think it has to be, that then requires that we be positioned in several locations in Afghanistan for -- to optimize intelligence collection.

And a lot of this has to do with warning for our diplomats and military people in Kabul, the capital. And that, in turn, requires a protection force, it requires medical evacuation, it requires logistical support. And so that will, I think, engender the numbers -- the math on how many people will be needed.

And the other major mission, apart from the counterterrorism mission -- which I view institutionally, not surprisingly, as quite important -- is the train, advise and assist mission. And then it's a function of how many folks you want and at what level of the Afghan military you're going to deploy forces.

So, to me, those would be the two key pillars of the strategy I think we have to follow in Afghanistan because of the regional implications for both the counterterrorism platform as well as the train, advise and assist. [07:35:10] I think the interesting aspect will be whether there's some hybrid mix here of contractors which, by the way, in my experience is -- are quite expensive.

So that's my prediction. I don't have any inside baseball actual insight.

CUOMO: Well, Steve Bannon, who's now on the outside but is credited with forming a lot of the president's ideas about what should happen on this issue, is a big fan of privatizing the situation there, so your reference is noted and there is some context for it.

Let me ask you about a different situation.

We just got a new report that the van driver that they're still looking for -- this remaining suspect from the Barcelona terror attack -- may have stolen a car. There may have been more deaths as a result of his exit. He is still on the run and they're widening the search.

What do you make of this task?

CLAPPER: Well, he's -- I guess the key question is where is he and where is he headed? I don't -- I don't know but my guess is that he will probably want to stay within areas that he's reasonably familiar with and where his language wouldn't stick out so much.

Now, having said that, I have no direct clue. I'm sure -- I'm sure the -- both the Spanish and the French, particularly, are on the lookout for this guy and I'm very hopeful they'll catch him. But my guess is he's still in Spain.

CUOMO: There's always a question about, you know, what is it worth in terms to use the resources and risk further conflict with these persons -- you know, with the person who's on the run, especially when you have others involved in the same plot. We saw that after the Bataclan attack in Paris.

Why is he so important, other than his obvious criminal role in driving the vehicle?

CLAPPER: Well, that's the main thing, I think. That and, you know, if they do capture him alive. And prospects are they won't but if they do whatever additional intelligence they can gain from him, particularly the extent to which he received any outside direction.

CUOMO: One more issue for you.

There's a report in "USA TODAY" that the Secret Service is strained budgetarily. That they've paid hundreds of agents more than they expected to because of overtime -- because of all the travel, all the different presidential residences, all the different security that is required.

What is your guidance on these types of expenditures?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it's basically mandatory that those expenditures be provided. And I think this is kind of on the Congress, first, to make sure the Secret Service is properly sized for the mission they now have, which is much larger, much more complex, probably than any other president they've had to protect.

And I certainly think if any Secret Service agents are owed back pay or any of that sort of thing that needs to be accounted for. So I think it's really on the Congress to ensure that there is sufficient funding for the Secret Service.

I might mention that we saw this problem coming during the last administration, even during the transition phase, just because of the multiple locations where the president would be engaged, and just the challenge of protecting the Trump Tower and the -- we saw issues there with sufficient funding for the Secret Service back then.

CUOMO: There's going to be talk tonight about the backdrop of this -- the presidential mandate, the use of the bully pulpit, addressing the American people, but it's always within a given context. And after the week that the president had last week the way the country was wounded, the ideas of his moral standing, how does that play into what happens tonight?

CLAPPER: Well, I think there's a lot of pressure on him and, hopefully, we'll see the teleprompter President Trump tonight.

I thought his presidency was seriously, seriously wounded by his unglued press conference there at Trump Tower and his, basically, abdication, I think of moral leadership.

I can't help but think about the impact on my former colleagues in the Intelligence Community and the many thousands of minority employees and how they must have felt with the ambiguity and ambivalence of the president when he had an opportunity and an obligation to take a moral stand and he didn't.

[07:40:00] So I think that places even greater focus and emphasis on not only what he says tonight but how he says it.

CUOMO: And he drew an equivalency with a group that people in your business spend a lot of time combatting -- violent right-wing extremists.

James Clapper, thank you very much. Appreciate your perspective, as always -- Alisyn.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Chris, for having me.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We've waited 99 years to see an eclipse like this but will the weather where you are cooperate? All that's next.


CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news right now in the Barcelona terror investigation. Police have linked a 15th victim to the attack. Police say the main suspect seen on your screen ran from the scene of

the van attack, then stabbed and carjacked another driver, killing that person before getting away in his car.

Thirteen people were killed by the van at that popular tourist attraction last week.

Police say the suspect is still on the run and considered very dangerous.

CUOMO: North Korea making new threats as the U.S. and South Korea begin their annual joint military drills involving nearly 18,000 U.S. troops. Pyongyang says the 10-day drill is pouring gas on the fire, believing the two countries are gearing up for an invasion. U.S. military officials describe the drills are purely defensive.

[07:45:03] CAMEROTA: The U.S. Embassy in Russia says it will temporarily suspend issuing nonimmigrant visas in Moscow for eight days. This goes into effect Wednesday. It lasts until September first.

The action comes after Russia ordered the U.S. to cut its Embassy and Consulate staff in half in retaliation for new sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress.

Russia's foreign minister says his country will not react by taking it out on U.S. citizens.

CUOMO: The eclipse of the century is just hours away but some spots are expecting to see a total eclipse. They might not get the sight that they're hoping for.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in St. Joseph, Missouri with more. Are you in the path of totality?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I like that voice, Chris. Yes, I am in the path of totality.

Now, will we be able to totally see it? That is the big question because if you look behind me you can see we totally have clouds right now. It's supposed to get more cloudy later on here in the Kansas City area. We are going to keep our eyes on it.

But as you can also see, that is not deterring the expected 15,000 people who are expected to come to this one airfield where we are. Cars are already starting to come in. We see that they're making their way here.

This whole eclipse is going to be about two hours over the United States, starting in Oregon around 10:00 a.m. Pacific time and ending around 3:00 p.m. Eastern time today.

This group behind me, they traveled here from Australia to be here to witness the eclipse. That's how much excitement there is. People planning so long. We saw some people actually taking off yesterday to go to Illinois because they're afraid that the eclipse may not be seen here. But I am told, even on a cloudy day it's still spectacular to see what happens as it gets so dark and also, because the temperature may change.

All of these things have people very excited here in the Kansas City area. We are looking at about 1:00 -- right after 1:00 -- and then we will have two minutes and 38 seconds of totality here. So lots of excitement about how that's going to turn out and maybe, Alisyn -- maybe the clouds are going to play along with us and let us see it from here.

CAMEROTA: Very, very cool, Stephanie. We hope that the clouds clear and that you can see the stars. I mean, that's another crazy moment during the middle of the day.

So thanks so much for that report. We'll check back.

So, the tributes are pouring in for comedy legend Jerry Lewis. Dick Cavett is going to remember the laughs and the serious side of Jerry Lewis and he's here, next.


[07:51:30] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(Scene from "THE BELLBOY")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That brown rawhide bag goes up to the Lewis entourage, on the double.


CAMEROTA: I'm laughing already because --

CUOMO: Because that's what he made us do.

CAMEROTA: Jerry Lewis leaves behind an incredible legacy of laughs. The comedian passed away this weekend at 91 years old.

But to many, his greatest achievement was his work with those suffering from muscular dystrophy. Lewis raised nearly $2.5 billion to fight that disease.

Here to remember Jerry Lewis is comedy legend Dick Cavett. He interviewed Lewis twice on his talk show and he previously worked for Lewis as a writer on "THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW."

Dick Cavett, great to see you. Share your memories of Jerry Lewis with us.

DICK CAVETT, HOST, "THE DICK CAVETT SHOW": I'm sorry, the audio is not good.

CUOMO: What'd you think of Jerry Lewis? Can you hear us, Dick? CAVETT: Yes, I heard that.

Well, I had a kind of long history with Jerry Lewis because I first met him oh, when he took over "THE TONIGHT SHOW" actually for two weeks when Johnny Carson was still doing it. And he was smashingly funny every night for two weeks -- a fortnight. And he was just -- killed everybody. He couldn't do anything wrong.

And I remember it took me back to when I was a kid and he first knocked me out. I liked him from the moment I first met him, actually, and that was in my office at "THE TONIGHT SHOW."

And he came in to me, a total stranger, and he talked so intelligently and so interestingly about his time with Dean Martin. That material all later became a book.

And he was very much like an assistant professor or something, very articulate -- not trying to be funny. And I thought this cannot be the same man who made me spit a mouthful of popcorn into the back of the neck of somebody in the theater years ago when I first saw him in Nebraska.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, listen, we've heard that he --

CAVETT: Jerry would --

CAMEROTA: -- could be serious, you know. Often, very serious off camera, obviously, the side that we didn't see because he had all of these other life goals that he wanted. He wasn't just, you know, a slapstick funny comedian.

But I want to play this moment where you were interviewing him on your show and have you explain this. So just pause for a minute and watch this. This is from 1973.


CAVETT: Do you remember me at all? I mean --

JERRY LEWIS: Yes, I stepped on you a couple of times.



LEWIS: Of course, I remember you.

CAVETT: You never stepped on me.

LEWIS: We had some marvelous, marvelous times. We had a difficult time and to have had the marvelous times we've had through that difficult time, you don't forget that easy.

CAVETT: Both marvelous and difficult.


CAMEROTA: Dick, do you know what he was referring to that you had marvelous and difficult times together?

CAVETT: Say again?

CAMEROTA: He was saying you had marvelous and difficult times together. Is there a backstory?

[07:55:00] CAVETT: Well, yes. Jerry, because of this gigantic talent that he had -- the Gods have played with him, it seems, over the years. They've first given him just about every disease you can have and still survive in time to get the next one.

He was a magnificent manager of his own life and his own health. He came back and back from things that would have, as he put it, killed an ordinary man.

I don't know if there's ever been anybody who had such a -- who had a bigger, bigger talent and able to do so damn many things, including inventing camera things that the worked out himself and revolutionized parts of the mechanics of the camera and film.


CUOMO: Dick why do you -- why do you think he was tied to muscular dystrophy? Why did it matter so much to him?

I covered for years this kid named Mattie Stepanek, who was this child poet and peacemaker, and Jerry had been very affectionate towards him. Made him an ambassador of the cause and that seemed to be his true passion.

What was it that drew him to it, do you know?

CAVETT: I don't know. It might have been guilt over the fact that he had gone from making $50 a week with Dean in clubs to $5,000 a week, and then gone on from there to such spectacular financial success. He may have felt I've got to give something back, I don't know.

And also, of course, let's not forget that it allowed him -- and it let us see him for hours, often hilarious. He just looked forward to the muscular dystrophy telethon for weeks. And those two words, muscular dystrophy, he put them on the map. I had never heard of it before, I have to confess.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and he raised $2.5 billion --

CAVETT: One of the greatest things --

CAMEROTA: -- and we should just let people know that, you know, all of his telethons, they became such a part of the cultural fabric. But, $2.5 billion for the disease and it's just so remarkable.

And Dick, just one -- CAVETT: It's a hefty piece of --

CAMEROTA: One more thing just that we want to end on because it's so poignant.

You know, he had that long collaboration, of course, with Dean Martin and then they had a sort of a break-up when Jerry wanted to go his own way. And then, during a telethon Frank Sinatra surprised him. So we'll just end on this poignant moment where Frank Sinatra says he wants to bring out a friend -- watch this.


FRANK SINATRA: I have a friend who loves what you do every year and who just wanted to come out and say -- would you send my friend out, please? Where is he? Will you bring him out here? Come on.


CAMEROTA: That is such a beautiful moment, Dick. Do you have any last thoughts?

CAVETT: That was stunning. I remember I was lucky enough to get to see that live.

An interesting little sideline about Jerry. He would love to have had an education and he's -- we would talk about that. And I'd say well, you've done pretty well. And he --

One time I used a word that he didn't know and he made me explain it. And then he took out a little notebook that he kept because he liked to improve his vocabulary, and wrote it in. It was an interesting sideline.

Have you ever seen the hilarious photograph -- the great George S. Kaufman, playwright, author, kept it on his wall? A chess board in the middle, Jerry on one side in deep concentration at the chess board, and in deep concentration at the chess board opposite him is a chimp.


And they looked like they parallel each other. They looked like each other. It's a masterpiece of instant comic art.

CAMEROTA: That's great.

CAVETT: Try and find that one.

CAMEROTA: We will.

Dick Cavett, thank you very much for sharing all of your remembrances this morning with us of Jerry Lewis. Thank you for being here.

CAVETT: Well, you know, I'm always yours.

CAMEROTA: And we do know that and we appreciate it. Thank you very much, Dick.


CAMEROTA: We'll see you soon.

We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Search and rescue efforts are ongoing after a U.S. destroyer collided with a merchant ship near Singapore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are searching for 10 missing sailors at sea.

JOHN KIRBY, REAR ADMIRAL, U.S. NAVY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: There's absolutely no question that they'll want to make sure that they don't have some larger issue going on culturally or procedurally inside the Navy.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. president is planning a nationwide address Monday night to announce the path forward in Afghanistan.