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Divers Search Navy Ship for 10 Missing Sailors; Unforgettable Images of Total Solar Eclipse; Trump Lays Out New Afghanistan Strategy With Few Details; Interview with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired August 22, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:43] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Divers are now searching flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain for 10 missing sailors. Now, a top navy admiral demands a fleet-wide investigation about how this collision happened.
CNN's Matt Rivers is live in Singapore with more for us -- Matt.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is the damaged ship right there, Alisyn. Divers have been in the water for most of the day trying to get inside some of the compartments that were sealed as a result of the flooding that took place after that accident happened early Monday morning here Singapore local time.
We also know the Navy has been searching the waters out to sea where that incident actually took place in the hopes of finding those ten missing sailors. In terms of the cause of all this, a U.S. Navy official tells CNN that the ship did in fact lose steering right before the incident happened but they're not sure at this point if that is the actual cause here.
That is going to be part of an overall review the Navy says it's going to be undertaking, looking at best practices, at safety standards because this is the fourth incident in the last eight months or so, 2017 alone, involving U.S. Navy ships deployed to this part of the world, and that is going to be a broad look that the Navy is doing its safety standards. But, of course, for now, the priority remains on the ten people, the ten sailors that are missing at this point -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Frustrating for people, everybody wants to know the fate of the sailors, but those ships are large, the compartments were flooded, and we've seen before that it takes time.
Thank you for the reporting. Let us know if there are any developments.
So, the big day yesterday, the first total solar eclipse of the century all across America, an unforgettable moment for the millions who experienced it. So many amazing pictures like the one on your screen right now. They were just all over social media.
CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has more on the incredible site.
It was interesting to see so many people interested in something positive.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, absolutely. We talked about yesterday how we lost the Saturn V and we lost the moon and we lost the shuttle, but now, all of a sudden, there's a new excitement with space, excitement with this, something that hasn't happened in a very long time, won't happen for six more years but for a slightly different part of the country.
We could feel it on the camera yesterday. And Stephanie Elam and reporters were out there, and people were cheering right at the point of totality. It made the hair stand up on the back of your neck. It truly was an amazing, amazing sight as we covered it here, Anderson and I, Wolf and I, all the way until about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. It ran offshore.
Here is the next one for you, though, if you live in Carbondale, Illinois, you're going to get two in six years. There it goes, Dallas, Little Rock, Carbondale, Indianapolis, Buffalo, 2024, and in my best President Reagan, Mr. President, put on those glasses -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: And he was just pulling a Chris Cuomo. Chris also refused to wear the glasses. He said he was going to stare down the eclipse until it looked away.
CUOMO: And I did. All of a sudden the sun disappeared, it got dark. I took that as defeat. And then I looked back down and the sun came back out.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's a good line.
CAMEROTA: You're none the worse for it.
CAMEROTA: Chad, thank you very much.
Well, he's been calling for complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan for years, but President Trump yesterday reversing course and recommitting troops to the war. What changed his mind? We'll ask two of our generals, next.
[06:38:20] CAMEROTA: President Trump recommitting U.S. soldiers to the war in Afghanistan, without specifying how many troops will be deployed or even a time line. For years, Donald Trump before he was president had said publicly that the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan. So, what changed?
Joining us is Brigadier General Anthony Tata, former deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, also author of the book "Besieged", and CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former Army commanding general, Europe and 7th Army.
Gentlemen, great to have you here.
General Hertling, what did you hear last night?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's not only what I heard last night, Alisyn, I watched the speech a couple of times since then trying to dissect it as your military analyst and as I mentioned last night, I was anticipating a lot of whats. Here's what we're going to do. But I thought what would have been important is if we got some of the hows.
I didn't see that. There wasn't a whole lot of change truthfully from my perspective in terms of what we're doing. The one key one that the president mentioned was that he was going to make any kind of withdrawal condition-based as opposed to time line-based or troop- based, and that was a good thing.
But the rest of the items he talked about, the integration of diplomatic and economic measures, the Afghans taking control, the focus on counterterrorism troops, all those kind of things, it's pretty much the same as what we've seen before, and there was no definition of victory other than in very muscular talk, we're going to bomb them, we're going to obliterate them, we're going to kill terrorists.
And the one thing that kind of is contrary to what I think we should be saying is, when he said we're going to fight to win, I've been with soldiers for a very long time as I know Tony has, we always fight to win.
[06:40:12] So, I'm not -- I'm just not sure what any of it meant in terms of a perspective new strategy.
CUOMO: Well, certainly, it is -- it was a search candidate or even citizen Trump would have condemned. But now he's president, and even he said last night, you know, in some other words I didn't know what I was talking about then. Now I do, I have all of these experts around me.
What did you hear last night, General Tata, that could be different going forward?
GENERAL ANTHONY TATA, BRIGADIER GENERAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, the first thing I heard, Chris, you had a president that came out and talked about his appreciation of servicemen and women on the ground, and how we should honor them back home, you, Alisyn, me, Mark, all by being good citizens and supporting our nation and coming together.
And I think that was a real important first step in the speech, that then he pivoted into talking about an honorable outcome that's worthy of the sacrifice that's happened.
CUOMO: The first part of the speech seemed to be about Charlottesville, not about what's happening --
TATA: I have a different take on that, in that he was really using the military that Mark and I served in as an example for the nation to look at given all the differences. We're just members of the nation that come together and are focused on a single mission, and that's defeating the enemy and securing our nation.
CAMEROTA: But did you hear what General Hertling heard, which was not enough about the how.
TATA: I don't want to hear a lot about the how if we're talking about troops on the ground, and you know, numbers and timelines and all of that. I know Mark was probably frustrated, I know I was frustrated in Afghanistan for 13 months when there was a timeline out there and you're dealing with governors on the ground, mayors on the ground, and they're like, hey, you're leaving in three months. The Taliban is over there sharpening their knife until you go.
So, I appreciated the lack of a timeline, and I don't agree that there's no measure of success.
CUOMO: How do you sell Congress on it, though, General?
TATA: Defeating the enemy, breaking the will have the enemy is a measure of success. Event-driven not time-driven.
CUOMO: Right. But, look, the president doesn't have unfettered discretion to continue a war there. He doesn't have the authorization of the use of military forces since 2001.
TATA: Well, neither did President Obama.
CUOMO: Congress said something different than they said during Obama, which is, oh, we just woke up and realized that we have a constitutional duty to declare a war. We're supposed to be involved in this. The AUMF is supposed to come from us.
TATA: That's right.
CUOMO: So, those specifics, you'd think he has to give them to them, right?
TATA: Well, I'm sure briefings are taking place and I'm hopeful that Secretary Mattis and the team are going over there and briefing the intelligence committees and armed forces committees and so forth.
But at the end of the day, the president I thought laid out a very good approach that talked about a regional approach, broadening into Pakistan, leveraging India against Pakistan. You got to think we have a power projection base there that's looking at Iran, looking at Pakistan, two very real threats, and at a time where we are under threat from ISIS, from North Korea, from al Qaeda, you know, the beginning of the speech I still contend was really about using the military as a role model for the nation to come together.
CAMEROTA: General Hertling, it was interesting to read the "New York Times" reporting they have on how the president pivoted. He was very against it publicly. He thought that the war in Afghanistan was futile then he had the meeting with his war cabinets, it was described as very deliberative, very comprehensive and they convinced him and convinced him that without U.S. soldiers there, it would become a haven -- more of a haven for terrorists.
So, do you know the answer to what success looks like?
HERTLING: Well, there's a couple of things, Alisyn, that I would say that I had hoped the president would have said last night.
Number one, I think the military commanders on the ground, as well as the State Department people there, are telling him a couple of things.
Number one, there is more than one fight in Afghanistan. It isn't just the Afghans against the Taliban. There are all sorts of terrorist organizations and could you go down the litany of the gangs of terrorists there, and Tony knows this, having been a deputy over there.
So, there is multiple fights, and we have to fight, help the Iraqi, excuse me, the Afghans fight them all and it has to do with increasing their counterterrorism forces. I think that's Mick Nicholson's plan, number one.
Number two, Pakistan has been a thorn in the side since the beginning of this operation, and we have to tell Pakistan to knock it off. Now, the president said he was going to do that, again, that's the kind of how I want to hear about. Now, there are some decrease of foreign aid to Pakistan, statements about that, but one phone call from Secretary Tillerson isn't going to get it.
[06:45:01] The third thing is the most important thing and I mentioned this to Anderson Cooper last night. The president had a forum last night to tell the American people this is going to be a long war, if we want to prevent a base of support for attacking inside the United States. It isn't going to happen overnight, and it's more than just in Afghanistan. There is an arc of extremism between Afghanistan and West Africa, and we better consider basing in all of those areas for a very long period of time, and get the American people on board.
It's now Tuesday morning. By Wednesday, the focus of America will be somewhere else and we will, again, make Afghan a forgotten war, because we think we've given a couple thousand more forces to fight the terrorists. This is a long war for America.
CAMEROTA: OK. General Hertling and General Tata, thank you very much for all the expertise.
TATA: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So, President Trump had some tough words for the regional players there, Pakistan, how to use India, there's no question. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We can no longer be silent about Pakistan safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. Let's talk about the speech last night and its implications with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
Ambassador, it's good to have you.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Good morning.
CUOMO: So, I want to talk to you about the top of the speech, because it seemed that the president was using it as an opportunity to go back a week and talk about what happened in Charlottesville, and try to build up some of the moral agency that many people feel he surrendered last week.
What did you hear in the top of his speech last night?
HALEY: Well, I think he clarified the importance of unity. He clarified the fact that there is no room for bigotry in our country. But he brought it home to the fact that if our troops are fighting overseas, and they're fighting for our freedoms and they're fighting for our rights, let's not abuse it, because at the end of the day, we are one country, and we have to stand united. And I think he clarified that very well.
CUOMO: You know, you shot to national prominence because of the moral leadership that you showed in then your home state as governor, and what happened in Charleston, and how you dealt with it and what you let this country know about what you would tolerate and what you would not, and calling out hate when you saw it.
Do you believe that the president did that when he needed to last week?
HALEY: Well, I had a personal conversation with the president about Charlottesville, and I will leave it at that. But I will tell you that there is no room for hate in this country. I know the pain that hate can cause, and we need to isolate haters and we need to make sure that they know there is no place for them, because our country is founded on so much more than that. And I think that they're a minimal crowd that's very loud that we have to stomp out every chance we get.
CUOMO: And look, this is something that is going to reverberate in your new mission as well, to the Americans now, who picked up on what the president said, and said, yes, you know, the KKK, the white supremacists, there are a lot of other people out there who are just as bad as they are.
What do you say to them?
HALEY: I mean, they're terrible people. You know, anyone that goes and tries to spew hate on someone because of their color or their religion, or their place in life, that's terribly wrong, and it's something that we don't stand for in America. And I think the president clarified that last night.
And I think what we have to make sure we do is every time we see it, you know, we are a country that has freedom of speech, we need to always honor that. But when we see hate speech, we need to make sure we call them out. We need to make sure that we isolate them and we need to make sure that they know that they are in the minority and there's a lot more of us that love our brothers and sisters, regardless of where they're from, what they've preached, and who they are. And I think that's something that we have to always be very tolerant of.
CUOMO: And, look, you know what? The truth of your words is so obvious from what we've seen in the past week. All these people came out of the woodwork saying, oh, you see, the white supremacists, they're not the only ones. Look at all these other groups and you created a confusion and a battle in this country, the likes of which we haven't seen in recent history.
So, let's turn to how he used it in the speech last night, Ambassador. There was a lot put on the plate for you last night on the diplomatic side. I don't know how you're going to get it done with the cuts to the State Department, but you got to go at Pakistan. You have to go at India. You have to figure out one against other and get them to create less safe havens for terrorists in places like Pakistan and the Northwest Frontier provinces, let's not forget where Osama bin Laden was found.
How do you take that part of the speech last night?
HALEY: I think the president's speech was strong. I think it was showing that we're taking an entirely new approach from what's happened in the past. I was in the National Security Council meetings, there were multiple meetings.
There was a lot of information. There were a lot of questions asked, and I think what you saw last night was something the president believes in, and something he's going to follow through with.
[06:50:02] You know, in the past, it's always been time based, on when we were going to get out, or based on the number of troops or based on all kinds of things. Now, it's results-based and that works. We've seen it work in the way they've taken on ISIS in Syria, and Iraq. We've seen that work in the way we confronted chemical weapons in Syria, whether we've confronted North Korea.
It works when the president speaks up and says this is what we're going to do. We're going to stomp out terrorism, and he follows through with it. And what you saw was he listened to his generals. He saw what they were saying, but he also talked about the path forward.
And I think he came out with a very strong speech last night that the military, the diplomats, and citizens of this country should be very proud of.
CUOMO: Well, there's no question that the president needed to have his own mind changed. Citizen, and even candidate Trump would have hated that speech last night, because he was the complete opposite mindset than what you're laying out right now.
HALEY: But I think --
CUOMO: He wanted the United States out of the country and he saw results-based just meaning we'd be there longer, Ambassador.
HALEY: No, I think that really shows the signs of a president. You know, one thing is to be a candidate, and talk about what you think.
HALEY: The other thing is to be a president and talk about what you know. And the facts were put on the table, and he asked all the right questions, and you're going to see a very different approach.
Our enemies are no longer going to know what our timeline is. Our enemies are no longer going to know where we are and how many troops and all of those things. What our enemies are going to know is, we're not putting up with the terrorism anymore and we're going to do whatever it takes.
But more importantly, the president's taking on a regional approach. This is not just about Afghanistan. This is about the region, and so that means that we've got to put the pressure on Pakistan. They can't safe harbor terrorists anymore.
We've got to put the pressure on India that they have to be part of the political solution. We need to continue to let Iran know that all of this terrorism and their sponsorship of it is not something we're going to put up with. And we need the international community to step up and say, look, if we're going to do this, we're doing it together. It's not the United States alone.
CUOMO: A lot of this is going to come down to how and we'll be watching you and watching the State Department and the military to see how this concerted action will achieve these ends. But it does raise a question about things that have been done already. If you're going to own the reality that Pakistan and Afghanistan both are places that have harbored bad guys in the past, and do so now, and may do so in the future, why weren't they listed in the travel ban?
HALEY: You know, I think the travel ban was based on certain threats, and more importantly, it was based on the fact that if we didn't have enough information. The goal was always, and the goal continues to be for the president to keep Americans safe, and any country where we don't have enough background, we don't have the background checks, we can't ensure that Americans are going to be safe, that's how those countries were picked.
If there are other countries, and we have enough information, they weren't put on the travel ban.
CUOMO: Right, but I -- explain to me why Afghanistan and Pakistan don't make the list of places where you don't know enough about where it's coming back. Again, Pakistan, you found Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Obviously, there's a lot of unknowns going on there and everyone knows that Afghanistan's infrastructure, you know, is all than any other word you want to use other than competent.
So, why wouldn't they make the list?
HALEY: Because Osama bin Laden did not come to America. And I think that's just it. In those countries, we have information that we feel like we can obviously monitor, and we can screen and we can make sure exactly who is coming into our country.
In those other countries on the travel ban, we don't have that. And the goal is not just to keep everybody out of America. The goal is to make sure that anybody that comes into our country we know exactly who they are, where they're from, and what their intentions are.
And I think it speaks volumes that we have not had any problems so far. We are not seeing any sort of threats but I think it's this president trying to be very careful and make sure that we're not going to allow any of those threats to come into the country. And so, he's trying to protect Americans on the homeland, and he's trying to protect Americans abroad.
CUOMO: And last question to you, Madam Ambassador. The idea of being results-oriented, we're not going to have a set timetable. You're going to have to get certain benchmarks met and that will wind up triggering movements in and around the country.
It sounds like that's a suggestion of duration and that you're going to be there longer, and if you will remember how we got to where we are right now, it started that way. It started as benchmarks for seeing different types of capabilities of security and reliance upon themselves, and it moved to time lines, because they weren't getting it done and people wanted Americans out, people like Donald Trump.
So, what do you say to the American people about what they heard last night? Was this an admission this is going to be a long war and Americans are going to be committed for a very long time, there and elsewhere?
HALEY: Well, I think we all as Americans should want this president and want our military to be successful. So, we can downplay every part of this that we want to.
[06:55:01] But at the end of the day, all the generals came together. The national security team came together and this president made some decisions. And I can tell you the decisions he made are very different from anything that's happened before. We're not talking about duration, because we're not focused on time.
We're not talking about troop numbers because we're not focused on troop numbers. What we are focused on is results, stomping out terrorism, doing whatever it takes.
You've seen the president do this with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Now, we're getting ready to do it in Afghanistan. And I think the American people should have faith in their military and know that this is something the generals strongly believe in. And I believe the generals, I've seen their work and I think we should all as Americans support them.
CUOMO: U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, thank you for being on NEW DAY.
HALEY: OK. Thanks so much.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris.
So, President Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan as we've been talking about. But last night, he told the nation a much different story, so how do his die-hard supporters feel about this decision? We have another one of our trademark voter panels next.
TRUMP: We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think I heard a new Trump strategy, or a doctrine, a principled realism.
TRUMP: We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot conduct a war that is secret from the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
TRUMP: Love for America requires love for all of its people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we saw was a president who is a uniter when he reads from a teleprompter but a divider when he speaks from the heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, he's going to Arizona where things are going to be hot. I mean, tensions are very high.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Phoenix, this actually is a campaign rally. This is not the time for a visit of this nature.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
Up first, President Trump reversing course, recommitting the U.S. to the war in Afghanistan. But he did not offer specifics about troop levels or a timetable. The president also did not give benchmarks for how to measure success.
CUOMO: The president kicking off his primetime address, however, by attempting to clean up his controversial response to Charlottesville.