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Impact of Bannon's Departure; Bannon Returns to Breitbart; Diplomats Hurt in Sonic Attacks in Cuba; Saban on Solar Eclipse; Millions Flock for Solar Eclipse. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:31:57] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, already back to work at Breitbart, the platform for the alt-right, as he called it. So, what does his departure mean for the president's agenda.

Joining us now is Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart spokesperson, and Mack McLarty, former White House chief of staff to President Clinton.

It's good to have you both, gentlemen.

So, let me start with you, Kurt.


CUOMO: You know Bannon. Should the president be worried?

KURT BARDELLA, FORMER BREITBART NEWS SPOKESPERSON: Yes, I think he should. And I think if you look at the pages of Breitbart right now, there are stories about Ivanka, Jared, H.R. McMaster. He's going under attack. Which is why it's all the more perplexing, actually, that the president put out the tweet over the weekend endorsing Steve essentially, saying he's going to be a great voice -- a great new voice at Breitbart.

And this is a platform that's already attacking members of his staff, his national security team, his family. You know, it just goes to show that Breitbart is going to go fully aggressive at the agenda that they have advocated for. Trump was just a vehicle for them to try to prop up that agenda. But they will not hesitate if Trump deviates at all from any of the rhetoric that he said during the campaign. They're going to go full tilt. I mean they've already -- there are stories (INAUDIBLE) of how they have said it.

CUOMO: Right.

BARDELLA: They'll help impeach Trump if he goes the other way.

CUOMO: Right. But on the flip, Mack, it's just a propaganda outlet. He's no longer in the inner circle of the kind of in the ear of the president on a daily, maybe even hourly basis. So is he weakened to the point where his effectiveness won't be what it could have been?

MCLARTY: Chris, I don't think so. I think Kurt's got it more right than not. I think this is a pretty big deal. Bannon came in, Steve Bannon came in with great standing, with equal reporting responsibility to the chief of staff, Reince Priebus. He was on the National Security Council, which was pretty unprecedented for a political strategist to be an active formal member of that council. He got demoted on that. That obviously did not set well.

I think President Trump's got a very, very narrow pass here to go forward with his legislative agenda. What the real issue is, Chris, the president now has to shift from campaigning to governing. Steve Bannon was effective in the campaign, fighting, being a provocateur. Not so effective governing within the White House as part of a team.

So I think he will be a strong voice. Breitbart will be at least one outlet that some of his conservative base, his populous base, responds to. I think this is going to be a complicated period for President Trump in the days ahead.

CUOMO: So, Kurt, we got mixed messages from Bannon, right? He had one of his cronies tweeted "war" and then he gave the interview to "The Weekly Standard" where he said the presidency that Trump and I campaigned for and won is now over. And then people went to him and he said oh, no, I don't have any problem with the president. It's the people around him. It's the mission that I'm going to focus on. How much stock do you put in that?

BARDELLA: Well, I put a lot of stock into the idea that he's definitely going to war and he's definitely war against the adversaries that he calls the West Wing Democrats, the globalists inside the White House.

[08:35:00] I think what you'll see is, Steve will use Breitbart to try to tell the story, the narrative really, that the president that they knew and loved, that they voted for, that their audience rallied so forcefully behind, has been hijacked by these West Wing globalists and they need to be removed if we're going to get President Trump back on track.

You know, Steve believes that helping President Trump means helping advocate for the agenda that they started and supported in the campaign. And even if that means turning on people within Trump's inner circle, turning on Trump's own family, even at times turning on Trump himself, Steve will say publicly, well, friends need to be honest with each other and here Trump is wrong, here this is what they should be doing.

I think the more complicated situation is going to be when Breitbart spends a lot of its time and energy attacking fellow Republicans in the House and Senate as President Trump is trying to work with these people to try to get a legislative agenda through.

CUOMO: As we know, the alt-right isn't so much about the Republican Party, right? He's happy to see it drawn asunder. So, Mack, from a chief of staff perspective, what is the message that

you give the president when Bannon goes too far or too close -- he can go after the kids, he can go after the people around. As long as it's not about the president personally, he's OK. But if he does take a shot at the president, what is the message to keep him from going back at Bannon? We haven't seen that beacon controlled by anybody, including General Kelly. What would be your message?

MCLARTY: Well, I think this -- this move helps General Kelly, Chris. I think he will now be able to bring order to the White House, focus on the agenda. I think that's what the vast majority of the American people want. And I think for President Trump to be successful, he's got to move forward his legislative agenda.

I think he can largely -- not totally, largely, square that up with some of Steve Bannon's beliefs in terms of some of the things the president has promised relating to tax reform, relating to infrastructure, relating to immigration reform. But when you get down to some of the specifics here, that's going to be very difficult.

I think President Trump's been a person who's made a real statement about his commitment, his strength, his beliefs. And he's going to have to adhere to that, Chris.

CUOMO: Right.

MCLARTY: Even -- even if it means criticism from Steve Bannon.

CUOMO: Well, Kurt, we're paying artificial attention to Bannon right now because he's freshly removed. It won't last. But this is his big moment tonight. This is a signature issue on Afghanistan. How strong do you think he's going to be?

BARDELLA: Well, I think they're going to be very vocal, very strong. If anything, because Steve is going to be concerned with maintaining that idea of influence, the perception that he's still very influential, that the can have a say over the decision making process and the president. They are going to be very forceful and want to demonstrate strength tonight and how they respond to Breitbart.

CUOMO: He's going for that "Star Wars" Kenobi effect. You struck him down, but he'll come back stronger than ever before. We'll have to see.

Mack, Kurt, thank you very much.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The force is with us, as we know, from the eclipse.

Meanwhile, this story to tell you about. The sonic attacks that are targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, they are impacting more people than first thought. We have a live report for you from Havana, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:42:03] CAMEROTA: So these painful sonic attacks in Cuba impacting more diplomats than was first disclosed. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is live in Havana with the latest reporting.

What have you learned, Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the plot just continues to thicken as more U.S. and Canadian diplomats are believed to have been impacted by these mystery attacks than originally thought. And the Cuban government, even while they were investigating these attacks, for months the incidents just continued to take place. The United States believes that a third country, perhaps receiving assistance from elements within the Cuban government, carried out these sonic attacks which broadcast a frequency you can't usually hear but cause very real physical damage. Some of the U.S. diplomats have told officials that they were attacked late at night while they were in their homes, in bed. So, just terrifying to think about that.

Some U.S. officials have -- some U.S. diplomats have gone back home as a result of these attacks. Others have just decided to cut their tours here short because of the continued harassment. Still, the U.S. embassy in Havana, we're told, is fully operational. But for the diplomats who continue to work here, obviously they're working under what can only be described as very trying circumstances.


CUOMO: And that is bizarre.

Patrick, thank you for keeping us ahead on that story. Appreciate it, my friend. Be well.

All right, millions of Americans will have their eyes on the skies for today's solar eclipse, but not Alabama football head coach Nick Saban. Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

He is always on point this guy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what, Chris, I love Nick Saban press conferences. They're always great. And Saban, you know, he's known for being hyper focused on improving his football team regardless of what's happening around him. And yesterday he was asked how his team was preparing for the eclipse.


NICK SABAN, ALABAMA HEAD COACH: We'll set it up so that if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses and look at it, I guess they can. That's not something that I'm really that focused on right now. They're already saying what it's going to look like in every city in America, so what's going to be significant? So I'm going to watch it on TV.


SCHOLES: Saban sounds so excited. And his players, well, they better get those special glasses and not just use regular sunglasses or else Alabama may not fare too well in their home -- or in their opener against Florida State on September 2nd.

All right, this may be one of the best catches you'll ever see. Pennsylvania taking on Chinese Taipei in the junior little league world series. Jack Reagany (ph) goes over the wall and is able to hold on and make the catch to rob the home run. Just incredible concentration to hold on to this one. The catch was ruled an out. Then the call was overturned. Then it was overturned again. I don't know about you, Chris, but it was an incredible catch. But for me, if the ball leaves the park, it should be a home run.

CUOMO: But isn't it about where you catch it? There's a rule, right? Isn't it about like -- you know, if you make the catch and then you go over the wall with it, that's how it is in pro ball, right?

[08:45:08] SCHOLES: Well, you remember Austin Jackson made that incredible catch at Fenway Park and it went over and it was ruled an out.

CUOMO: Right. Yes, I used to think --

SCHOLES: I guess if you just hold on to it, it's an out.

CUOMO: I used to think that if -- yes, where the ball wound up it is -- but whatever. It's a great catch.

SCHOLES: It was.

CUOMO: Don't you -- not trying to take it away from the kid, but then again you'd be taking the home run away from the other kid. So I guess someone's going to lose any way you look at it.


CUOMO: But what a great piece of video.

Andy, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right. Have a good one.

CUOMO: Get the right glasses or stay inside, like Alisyn's kids.

For the first time in nearly a century, the chance to see a total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. We have some essential need to knows if you are in the path of totality.


[08:50:00] 0CUOMO: In just hours, folks along the West Coast who are in the path of totality will see the first eclipse of the century. A total one.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Salem, Washington, with more.

You have a great -- you're in Oregon. That's where it's going to begin. You also have a great voice. Let me hear you say "path of totality."


CUOMO: That's good. It's good. It's good.

MARQUEZ: We really need that. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Somebody actually drove by a little while and yelled out not something nasty at the media, they yelled out "totality." It's very, very cool. People are excited.

Look, they're already lined up in front of the state capital here.

You guys ready for this?


MARQUEZ: We have somebody who drove 12 hours from Stockton, somebody who drove 36 hours from Texas. Why is this such a big deal? It's the first time since 1918 that we've had a coast-to-coast eclipse. Twelve states will be hit. Salem will be the first of five capitals to be hit by this eclipse. And they will see that total eclipse. That 70-mile or so shadow of the moon that will cross the U.S.

Now, the reason people are lined up here is because they want gear, they want glasses for this eclipse. We have all the nerdy gear ourselves. These are solar filters that are on the binoculars. You can actually stare at the sun with binoculars. The glasses, though -- look, I want to show you, these are -- these are regular sunglasses, right? If you look through them, you can see right through them there. These are the eclipse sunglasses. If you try to look through these, here is what you see. Absolutely nothing. The only way you can see through these things is to stare directly at the sun, something you wouldn't otherwise do unless you have special glasses. And once it goes to totality, you can actually take these off, look at it for that minute, two minutes that it's going to be total eclipse and the corona (ph) and then you have to put them back on again. Amazing.

You guys ready?


MARQUEZ: We're ready here.

Back to you guys.


CUOMO: They only heard you say Corona. That's why they cheered.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

MARQUEZ: Corona.

CAMEROTA: We're ready here also, Miguel. Chris, I don't know if he's going to heed your warning. He's planning to have a staring contest with the eclipse. CUOMO: I'm going to look until it looks away.

MARQUEZ: Nice. Sensible.

CAMEROTA: All right, Miguel, thank you very much.

Joining us now are two experts. We have Derrick Pitts. He's the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, and Andrew Fazekas, he is a contributing writer at "National Geographic" and author of "Star Trek: Guide to the Universe."

Gentlemen, it's great to have you.

Derrick, do you think it's wise that Chris is going to have a staring contest with the eclipse until it looks away?

DERRICK PITTS, CHIEF ATRONOMER, THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE: You know, if he's willing to give up his eyes, sure, let him have at it. That's not a problem.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

PITTS: Yes, sure.

CUOMO: Mr. Pitts.

PITTS: No staring at the sun, please. Let's forget that.


CUOMO: All right, so we don't stare at the sun because it's going to be too dangerous. But let's give people some of the data here. You know, where are you going to be able to see this? What's going to be the duration? Let's just get some of the facts out there for people.

PITTS: Yes, sure.

So this eclipse is going to be visible all across the continental United States. If you're in the path of totality that stretches from coast to coast, you're going to be able to see the full event of this. You'll be standing in the shadow of the moon. You'll get to see all the really cool stuff like Bailey's Beads (ph) and the diamond ring effect. You might get to see shadow bands. You'll see the corona. You might even get to see some little prominences on the edge of the desk of the sun.

And during that portion of totality only, that's when you can observe directly without any kind of eye protection. It's safe during that period of time.

Now, and that period of time varies across the United States. On the West Coast it's just under two minutes on the very far West Coast. And it's just over two minutes on the very far East Coast. But right in the middle where we are here in St. Joseph, Missouri, we're going to get two minutes and 39 seconds of totality. Down the road a piece it's up to two minutes and forty seconds. So for anybody else off the path of totality, though, you'll see partial eclipse. That means not all of the disk of the sun is covered by the moon. So, for all portions of your observing of the partial eclipse, you must have eye protection for the entire event. So, from beginning to end, if you're in the partial section of the country, you need the viewers. But that way you can enjoy an authentic science experience and you can see what's happening. But you must have either the eye protection or you can use an indirect method of which there are several that work really, really well that are cheap and easy and may be even available from your own kitchen.

CAMEROTA: Yes, right, and you can go online and look at the homemade indirect methods where you poke a hole in a shoe box and you have tin foil and a white piece of paper and all of that exciting stuff.

Now, Derrick, one problem, what about the cloud cover that we're seeing behind your head right now?

PITTS: So the cloud cover that's over us right now, I feel very good about this burning off and getting out of the way, hopefully by around 1:00 this afternoon. We're certainly concerned about the cloud cover. We don't want it. But even though we're here under cloud cover, if it stays, we'll still have that experience of the darkness. We just won't be able to see the effects around the sun. So we're hoping that all of this gets out of the way by then.

[08:55:11] And for many of us along the eclipse path, there could be cloud situations. And hopefully they'll have the same sort of situation also that this all sort of burns off and gets out of the way by the time totality comes. So for us that happens around 1:06 this afternoon local time and we'll have that two minutes and 39 seconds. And that's the only two minutes and 40 seconds I'm worried about today.

CUOMO: That's a lifetime in television. I'll tell you the history of the world in two minutes and five seconds.

Let me ask you something through. As much as I love the phrase "path of totality," the key word is "totality." And that's what makes this eclipse special and a century event. How so?

PITTS: Well, the reason why this is a special event because of totality is because the idea of totality being in one particular place in any location on the planet, that's kind of rare. Solar eclipses can happen as few as twice -- two times a year, maybe up to five times a year. But to be able to stand in totality gives scientists an opportunity to study various kinds of things on the sun. For example, the temperature of the corona. Millions of degrees hot while the surface of the sun is only 11,000 degrees. That discrepancy is poorly understood. So, solar eclipse's totality give that opportunity.

And then there's just the idea of this very rare thing happening for anyone who can experience this. If we think back a little bit in history, people did not know when eclipses were going to occur. So they were always surprised and frightened because, you know, their life-giving star was being consumed, it looked like, or disappearing from the sky.

Nowadays we know so much more. It gives all of us a chance to have this great sort of interactive experience in a sense, or at least be able to experience this authentic science event without much effort. And we can all have a good time with it. So it evokes feelings for us. It entertains us in an educational way. And so all those things about totality are very cool.

CUOMO: Astrology people are really keyed in to what's happening here all over the country.

CAMEROTA: OH, I hear it. I mean Derrick Pitts, thank you so much for your enthusiasm. Thanks for all of the information about how and where to watch it and why it's so cool.

And we should just say that we're sorry that we never were able to Andrew Fazekas's satellite up. The eclipse wreaking havoc with our communications system, we think.

CUOMO: He is too close to the path of totality.

CAMEROTA: Of totality.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman, he is the totality package.

CUOMO: He is.

CAMEROTA: He will pick up right after this very quick break.


[09:00:07] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.