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Trump Seizes On London Attack To Call For Travel Ban; NYT: Trump Called Sessions An Idiot And Told Him To Resign; CNN Goes Inside Reclusive North Korea; Police Treating Explosion At London's Parsons Green Station As Terrorism. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Why distract from that with these gambits?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And let me add one other thing there, Chris. It got a little bit overlooked yesterday.

But he flies down to Florida, he's appearing with Rick Scott, Mike Pence, and others and what does he say at the end of that speech? And man, I hope Rick Scott runs for the Senate.

What? I mean, you know, this is -- these are things that are really -- we've talked about this so many times. These are some of the basic blocking and tackling things.

You go to the disaster zone, you try to talk to people, you reassure them. That's what you do.

You meet with the only African-American Republican senator in -- after comments you made that even if you think you were right were hugely controversial about white supremacist violence in Charlottesville -- and you say Tim Scott and I had a really great productive conversation. We agreed that we need to celebrate diversity in the country and in my administration, and we're going to work toward that.

Look, it's not that difficult, right, and that's what I don't understand. He screws up things that really are easily -- hurdles that are not high, that are low. And then he -- you know, you get to these higher hurdles and he struggles with those, too.

But yes, there are opportunities here that he does not take, I think because he gets in his own way, you know. He is so obsessed with making sure that people know that he was actually right about Charlottesville. And the politically correct media and left said he was wrong but see, he was right.

And the question, nothing really to do with that, was how did the meeting with Tim Scott go? You know, he's his own worst enemy. I feel like I could just say that to every question since he was elected president.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Don't worry, you have. Yes. Last word, David.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just think he likes to tack back and forth, right? I mean, he's getting a lot of positive reaction from the deal with Democrats and a lot of condemnation from conservatives, too. I think he likes to tack back and forth to various constituencies to remind them that he's got some cred with them.

CUOMO: Well, let's save him some time.

Mr. President, if you're watching, you will never get praise for in any way, to any degree, equating any kind of violence with what the KKK is about in the United States of America. Don't waste your time with that.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Great to talk to you.

So, there are new details now of an intense exchange between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president reportedly calling Sessions an idiot to his face and telling him he should resign. So, what was the Attorney General's reaction to this?

We have former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez on with us, next.


[07:36:33] CUOMO: All right. New reporting reveals the truth about the relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, especially right after the appointment of a special counsel.

"The New York Times" reports the president called Sessions an idiot to his face. Said he should resign after learning that Mueller had been named special counsel.

The "Times" says quote, "Mr. Sessions would later tell associates that the demeaning way the president addressed him was the most humiliating experience in decades of public life."

But he didn't resign. He stuck it out and he still supports the president.

We now have Alberto Gonzalez, former attorney general under President George W. Bush. Also, the author of "True Faith and Allegiance." He's also the dean at Belmont University School of Law.

It's good to have you always, sir.

ALBERTO GONZALEZ, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, AUTHOR, "TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE", DEAN, BELMONT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Chris, let me just say I appreciated your coverage in Florida. I think it was good stuff.

And I think this is a very interesting story. Again, I don't know whether or not what's being reported actually happened but to have the president say what has been reported would be pretty tough as a cabinet official. And I think also, though, the reporting was that Sessions may have either tendered a letter of resignation or was prepared to resign.

You know, as a cabinet official, we all serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States and if the president no longer has pleasure in your service, then it is appropriate for you to leave.

So, it's a tough situation but obviously, I think Jeff Sessions did the right thing upon receiving a recommendation from the career officials at the Department of Justice that he should recuse himself from this investigation. I think it would have done damage to the Department of Justice for Gen. Sessions to continue to remain involved in this investigation.

CUOMO: Let's talk the personal and then we'll get into the political. Talk about "True Faith and Allegiance," the title of your book.

If somebody talked to you that way, even if they're President of the United States, how do you stay?

GONZALEZ: Well again, that would be -- it would be very, very tough because obviously, that relationship to the attorney general -- the relationship between the attorney general and the president is extremely important and it's got to be one that's built upon trust.

And people throughout the administration need to understand that the attorney general and the president have that level of trust because it's often the attorney general who has to tell other cabinet officials no, you cannot do that. So just the public image of the -- the public persona about the relationship is very, very important.

CUOMO: Now let's talk about the politics of this, especially with what we've seen with Comey and the questions about whether or not what he did was right.

And when I say what he did you can look at a whole host of things. You know, the way he conducted the Clinton investigation, the way the reopened the investigation, when he said he was closing it. What he said about Trump. All of those list of things.

It just -- doesn't it just hammer home the need for a special counsel? Wasn't this the only way to go and maintain any kind of integrity of this probe?

GONZALEZ: Yes because at the end of the day it's not about Jeff Sessions and not about Jeff Sessions being involved in this investigation. It is -- it is about the integrity of the investigation.

And I think as soon as there were questions raised about possible meetings and conversations between Russian officials and Jeff Session -- and I think it -- the only appropriate course of action was for Jeff Sessions to step away from the investigation because in the end, as I said, it's not about Jeff Sessions being involved in the investigation. It is what is the appearance of impropriety.

[07:40:10] To make sure that the American people have confidence the investigation is being conducted in the best possible way.

And again, as I said, once the career officials give the advice to the attorney general that he should recuse himself it would have been extremely difficult for Jeff Sessions to ignore that advice and to continue to remain involved in the investigation.

CUOMO: Let me get your head on something else.

The president went back to Charlottesville as a topic of discussion and he, once again, decided in some kind of way to put on equal footing the violence of those who were opposing the KKK with what motivates the KKK and their violence.

How do you feel about that?

GONZALEZ: Well again, I don't know President Trump and so I -- it may be a question of miscommunication or perhaps the words that are -- that he's using may not be what he really intends --

CUOMO: It can't be.

GONZALEZ: -- to say. But let me -- let me just say this.

CUOMO: I can't be, Alberto. It can't be. He's had too many bites of the apple.

He has to intend what he is doing which is they're bad, the KKK, but there are also bad guys on the other side, as if you have an equal opposite to people who want to kill Jews and lots of other types of people in the United States of America.

GONZALEZ: Yes, and there is no moral equivalency. There's no question about that.

I think -- I think the way to look at this, of course, is the fact that white supremacists, KKK totally bad, cannot be supported in any shape or form, full stop. And then you look at violence committed by others for whatever reason. That is also bad. Now, is that moral equivalency?


GONZALES: In my judgment, no. I don't believe that it is. I don't believe it is.

I'm not saying that the violence is the same -- that the evil from these others groups is the same. No, I'm not suggesting that at all. They're both bad and I just think the way this is being communicated is very, very unfortunate.

I -- listen --

CUOMO: But if you were to say -- but here's why I think it's a clearer case than that.

The KKK is what it is. If I say well, you know, you also have MS-13, you know. They're bad, too.

And you also have guys who go in there and hit old ladies over the head and steal their Social Security checks. They're bad, too.

I think that you -- it's apples and oranges. These are people who relish the notion of genocide in this country. That is different than people who get carried away or just are malefactors and in the name of whatever their political cause is they become violent, they become rioters instead of protesters.

GONZALEZ: I agree, I agree. I agree with --

CUOMO: They're very different things, Alberto.

GONZALES: Absolutely, I agree with you. It is apples and oranges, no question about it. I don't disagree with you, Chris, so you and I are not -- we have no disagreement about this.

There is a difference and there is no question about that -- no question. I'm not suggesting that there -- that there is no difference. There is clearly a difference.

CUOMO: And just to be clear, the reason --


CUOMO: -- I asked the former U.S. attorney general is you have to respect his mind and what he's done and what he's done for this country. So, I always respect your take and that's why I love having you on the show. Thank you for being with us again today.

GONZALEZ: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you.

CUOMO: Always, always -- Alisyn.


CNN does something that not many networks can. We're going to go inside North Korea. Our Will Ripley previews his special report on Kim Jong Un's secret state, next.


[07:47:05] CAMEROTA: North Korea firing another ballistic missile over Japan, the second in less than a month, with tensions escalating.

Tonight, we have a CNN special report that takes you inside North Korea. CNN's Will Ripley joins us now with a preview of his special "SECRET STATE: INSIDE NORTH KOREA."

Will, you have just such incredible access for us. I mean, we all get to see inside because of the many trips that you've made there. So tell us what we're going to see.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, a lot of times when we're in North Korea we're covering things like missile launches or the recent nuclear tests.

And we're driving through the city on our way to an interview and you look out the window and you think gosh, if we could just pull over that would be such a great story. I'd love to ask these people what they're doing, and this documentary is a chance for us to do that.

Yes, of course, obviously, we were under the control of government minders. They supervise what we're doing, they restrict what we can film.

But there were opportunities that we've never had before to just stop the van and say hey, can we jump out and can we go talk to these people? This was not preplanned, not staged, and those were some of the best moments that are really highlighted in this hour. I want to show you one of them.


RIPLEY (voice-over): In North Korea, government minders watch our every move and restrict what we can film, even if this is what we want to see. High school students horsing around at the beach. I can help but wonder what do they actually know about America?

RIPLEY (on camera): OK, do you want to (INAUDIBLE).

RIPLEY (translating): No, I just wear it to play sports.

RIPLEY: Have you ever heard of Portland?

RIPLEY (translating): Haven't heard of it.

RIPLEY: Have you ever seen any American movies or heard any American music.

RIPLEY (translating): No.

RIPLEY: Ever heard of Facebook or Twitter or Instagram?

RIPLEY (translating): No, not at all.

RIPLEY (voice-over): These teens have been told Americans act and look scary.

RIPLEY (on camera): What would you expect from an American? What would you expect the American to be like?

RIPLEY (translating): Big nose with a hairy chest.

RIPLEY: Big nose and hairy chest, huh? Well, I don't have a hairy chest. You tell me, do I have a big nose?

RIPLEY (translating): With a nose like that, it is, sort of.

RIPLEY: Have you guys ever met an American before?

RIPLEY (voice-over): They become visibly uncomfortable when they learn I'm an American. I'm the first one they've ever met.

RIPLEY (on camera): Well, I won't interrupt your game any longer. Thank you very much. It was nice to meet you guys.


CUOMO: It's really --

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

CUOMO: Look, it's really interesting for you, Will, to be in that kind of position. And, of course, you're under state control in that place. You wouldn't be there, otherwise. It's certainly not only better than nothing but it's better than we've seen before.

So how -- tell the audience how you balance your interest as a journalist with knowing that there's a line that is more real than most lines that you have to contemplate as a journalist.

[07:50:00] RIPLEY: Right. We obviously make concessions when we report in North Korea that we wouldn't make in any other country. We wouldn't allow ourselves to be shadowed, essentially, by the government while we're on a shoot.

I do need to point out, though, the North Koreans have no preapproval of scripts. They do not screen our video.

They haven't seen this documentary. They'll see it for the first time when it airs on CNN and the rest of the world sees it.

And I think when people watch this documentary they really need to read between the lines here. You're going to hear people that say things that sound crazy to you in the United States and many other countries. But these people, from cradle to grave, are force-fed the same message from the government.

It's in the -- it's in the propaganda, it's in what they're taught in school, it's reiterated in compulsory education, and so this is all that these people know. And when they are speaking, many times they're saying things that they truly believe.

And you'll hear children and adults and senior citizens all say the same things and that, in itself, having the opportunity to have those conversations is really extraordinary in terms of what we can learn about the North Korean people and what their lives are like.

Not to mention the fact this is an unprecedented journey from the Demilitarized Zone all the way up to a place CNN has never been allowed before, the border region next to China, Mt. Paektu, a sacred mountain just one province over from where North Korea conducted their sixth nuclear test.

The pictures are just incredible and I think people are going to come away tonight having learned something about life inside North Korea.

CAMEROTA: Well, Will, we can't wait to watch it. Just again, what special access you have had for so long.

So be sure to watch Will Ripley, CNN special report "SECRET STATE: INSIDE NORTH KOREA." It premieres tonight, 10:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

CUOMO: The long road to recovery. Do not forget the people in Florida and the areas affected by Hurricane Irma, like the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico.

In the U.S., you still have two millions customers -- remember, those are households so there are many more than two million -- no power. Imagine life in that heat and humidity with no A.C., no sewage, no water, no fuel.

An update, next.


[07:56:10] CUOMO: There is breaking news. There are provocative things that President Trump will say but that doesn't mean Hurricane Irma is over. Two million customers in Florida still have no power, gas is scarce, water is scarce, sewage is unavailable in most places.

President Trump got a firsthand look at the damage yesterday. He met with hurricane victims and he praised the response.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live on Florida's east coast. He's in Crescent Beach.

A tornado that was spawned by this hurricane caused enormous damage there. What's the situation this morning, Nick, and thanks for being there.


That's something that we really don't talk a lot about is how these hurricanes produce, in some cases, tiny tornadoes. But in this case, in Crescent Beach, it wasn't so tiny.

About 120 mile per hour winds came through and caused this damage. And this is certainly not normal but it's starting to feel that way for so many people.

Just about a week now since Hurricane Irma hit and people feel just as helpless and hopeless in some parts of the state as they did when it first came through their area.

Senator Marco Rubio said something pretty poignantly earlier this week. He says usually when there is a hurricane people ask where did it hit, where was the impact? But in this case, it was nearly everywhere in Florida that was impacted -- practically every county.

On the western side of the state you saw places that looked as though they were wiped off the earth by a giant hand. On the south part of the state we saw the damage there in the Florida Keys and in South Florida -- the devastation in Naples. The eastern part of the state here where I'm at, it didn't get the

wind damage necessarily that other parts of the state got, but it certainly got the historic flooding.

And here in Crescent Beach you can see just how terrible that tornado was that ripped through here. Some of these houses still intact, others practically condemned -- Chris, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, Nick, thank you very much for walking us around and showing us what it looks like this morning.

So we're following a lot of breaking news, including the breaking news out of London, so let's get right to it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, September 15th, 7:00 (sic) in the east -- 8:00.

We begin with breaking news because you're looking at live pictures right here of British police investigating what they call a terror incident on the London tube train. Police say an improvised explosive device detonated onboard a packed rush hour train in West London. A security source tells CNN that the device had a timer on it.

CUOMO: Nearly two dozen passengers injured, taken to area hospitals. None of the injuries at this point thought to be serious of life- threatening.

President Trump denouncing the attack in a series of tweets. "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive."

CNN's Nima Elbagir live at the scene in London with breaking details -- Nima.


Well, we understand from British security sources that that timer signals the intent of those behind this attack to wreak much greater, greater havoc.

Their working assumption is -- and I'm sure you'll remember the 7/7 bombings that this meant that what -- while, of course, the fear that they instilled here is not something to in any way be underplayed but imagine if this had gone off during rush hour in the center of London at Oxford Circus or one of the key connection points for the London underground. Imagine what we would be looking at now. It almost doesn't bear thinking about.

And that's the concern of the authorities that while device was incredibly crude, given that this is the scope of the ambition of those behind this, what should they be looking towards? That is the fear and the impetus that really is ratcheting up the investigation.

Now, our sources tell us that, of course, this is very much in the early stages of this investigation and they're looking really there, first and foremost.