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Trump to Make His Debut at U.N.; Sean Spicer Makes Surprise Emmy Appearance; Facebook Hands Russia-Linked Ads Over to Mueller; Trump Retweets Post of Him Hitting Clinton with Golf Ball. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired September 18, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Very important week for the president. The world will be listening.
[05:59:45] NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: If the United States has to defend itself in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is probably one of the most serious, I think, security crises we've faced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahead of his U.N. speech, President Trump taunting Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a disruptor. He enjoys engaging on social media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rockets we ought to probably not laugh too much about, because they do represent a grave threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even as people try to recover from Irma, there is more hurricane trouble on the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two other hurricanes now churning in the Atlantic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The storm is expected to strengthen as it gains more steam.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 18, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is off. John Berman joins me. Great to have you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to be here this Monday.
CAMEROTA: We'll be keeping an eye on those hurricanes, obviously. But here is our starting line. All eyes on President Trump at the United Nations as he prepares to address world leaders for the first time. The international community watching to see how the president will address his "America first" policy and his skepticism about the U.N. North Korea's nuclear tests will loom large over the annual gathering. U.S. officials warned Pyongyang that time is running out for a peaceful solution. And U.S. bombers and fighter jets again today conducting drills over the Korean Peninsula.
BERMAN: A lot's going on. Some of Hollywood's biggest names got political last night at the primetime Emmy Awards. Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, he made a surprise appearance, mocking President Trump's inauguration crowd size claims, really his own crowd size claims. Many sounded off on social media about this comedy bit. Not everyone liked it.
We're also tracking two hurricanes -- not one but two -- in the Atlantic. Hurricane Jose putting the northeast on edge while Hurricane Maria takes aim at Caribbean islands devastated by Irma just one week ago.
We have this all covered for you. Let's begin with Michelle Kosinski, live at the United Nations with the big meetings that start today -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John, right. For this, President Trump's first address to the world before the U.N. General Assembly. Leaders are wanting to see how he addresses them, what his tone will be, how he articulates foreign policy beyond what they've heard before.
Because they've heard "America first." They've seen all of the tweets, all of the calls for other countries to contribute more, as well as a number of mixed messages from this administration. Some key leaders, though, won't be here this time around, including Germany, Russia and China.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): President Trump, now home in New York, but about to face the U.N., a body he has sharply and repeatedly slammed.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom.
KOSINSKI: Where now he will also seek more cooperation to face the world's biggest problems.
The president set the stage with a Sunday tweet storm, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man." And retweeted a video, editing to show him knocking over formal rival Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. Members of his administration out in front of cameras with more tough talk on the North Korean nuclear threat.
TILLERSON: We don't have a lot of time left.
If our diplomatic efforts fail, though, our military option will be -- will be the only one left.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Was the president's "fire and fury" remark an empty threat?
HALEY: It was not an empty threat. I'm perfectly happy kicking this over to General Mattis, because he has plenty of military options.
KOSINSKI: At the same time, though, the U.S. has been aggressively calling on China and Russia to do more to choke off Kim Jong-un's resources.
Beijing and Moscow did vote in favor of unprecedented U.N. sanctions against North Korea, a step the president and his national security advisor have since downplayed, to the apparent chagrin of the State Department.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are the sanctions a big deal or are they not a big deal? Because I think they're two very different things.
HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I think the sanctions -- and I'm not going to go against the president. But I think the sanctions are significant.
KOSINSKI: Allies have been confused at times over what this administration values more: collaboration or going it alone. Trump's "America first" doctrine reflected in the three themes the president is expected to touch on in his speech Tuesday.
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The first is to protect the American people. The second is to promote American prosperity. And the third is really to help promote accountability and sovereignty.
KOSINSKI: The U.S. footprint at the U.N. this year much smaller than it's been in the past, meetings overall fewer, leaving allies skeptical of how much the U.S. will be in engaged on key agenda items like democracy promotion, refugees and the environment. And how a nationalistic leader of the free world will embrace this global entity now.
HALEY: I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.
KOSINSKI: So we will first see the president this morning chairing a session on reforming the U.N. As we know, he's been critical of the U.N., saying that the U.S. bears too much of the cost burden. He'll also then later meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, French President Macron, and tonight a dinner with Latin American leaders -- Alisyn.
[06:05:10] CAMEROTA: Michelle, you're so right. He has been critical of the U.N. in the past, and we'll get to more of that momentarily. Thank you for all the reporting. Let's bring in our political panel. We have CNN political analysts John Avlon and David Drucker, and associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard. Everybody in the house this morning, which is great to have you all.
I mean, he has been highly critical on the U.N. Let me just remind people, in March of this year, what President Trump said about the U.N., and that will set the table for what he's going to say this week. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom. It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. That was last year. John Berman, thank you very much.
So John Avlon, now what? What will the tone be this week?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's obviously one thing if you're -- if you're, you know, tweeting or ghost-writing books or speaking to AIPAC, as I believe that excerpt was from. It's another thing if you're actually the president of the United States with real responsibilities for global order.
The message this administration has tried to put forward, square the circle with "America first" is this line, "America first," doesn't mean America alone. I'd look for that rhetoric. You're going to get Teleprompter Trump at this event. It's going to be more statesmen like. It will be interesting to see, in things like this reform meeting, how much he flies off the handle, because can he really resist having taken so many whacks in the past?
BERMAN: A.B., do you think that there is a risk that he goes off script, off the Teleprompter Trump? How would that be received by the delegates at the U.N.?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATED EDITOR/COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Everyone gathered in that room is used to President Trump now. This is not a brand-new presidency. They've seen the tweets. They've seen the flip-flops. They've seen the insults. And they're expecting whatever comes.
John is right: it will be Teleprompter Trump. And the presidential speech writers are not interested in him going to the U.N. and bashing it. He'll talk about "America first," and he'll thread the needle. But in between this side of the Teleprompter and that side, sometimes he looks right at the audience, and he'll give me a "let me tell you" or "you better believe me" and -- and things will happen quickly. And anything can happen, but I don't think any one of them will be surprised. DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The big question is whether or
not the president's rhetoric will catch up to many of his president's policies. He campaigned on a foreign policy that looked inward and reduced the U.S. and its role as a global leader of the west. And yet, if you look at much of the policy that the administration has put forward, it has continued the U.S. position as the post-World War II global super power.
The president's rhetoric, on the other hand, doesn't always match up and catch the policies we've seen. This includes Russia. This includes the U.S. and Asia. And so I think the question is here. Does the president decide? And there's always a risk, as you guys know, to freelance at the U.N. and in between, some teleprompter speeches scold and talk about, you know, what a dump this place is.
AVLON: This is an administration where a core part of the president's constituency uses the phrase "go globalist" as an insult.
BERMAN: Right. It's a four-letter word.
AVLON: Exactly. So there's a lot of bad blood inside the administration for the U.N. and for these international institutions. But that's in contrast to, like, Mattis and folks who are trying to reinforce the global order. Behind all of it, North Korea. That's the big news, the big stakes, which is why you can't simply...
DRUCKER: That's why I think the president, it behooves him, there's a motivation for him to try and be a little bit softer with a lot of these countries. Because he is asking the world to help him isolate North Korea.
And so while the president could, in a sense, use this to try and fulfill a campaign promise to tell the world that they better ante up, or the U.S. is going to disappear, I think that given the North Korea threat, and given that we've seen Secretary Haley try and set the table that see the U.N. is coming around to our point of view with reform.
AVLON: A kinder, gentler Trump. I don't know.
BERMAN: Also, a Freudian slip there on Secretary Haley. When you talk about...
CAMEROTA: But I guess that that leads us to Elton John. And will there be more Elton John song references from the president in terms of North Korea policy and "Rocket Man," as he referred to him?
STODDARD: Look, this is -- President Trump has never been interested in being presidential. Only when he's on the teleprompter. And these kinds of nicknames, and this kind of unserious behavior with allies like the South Koreans and the Japanese, who are so nervous is obviously not appreciated.
But as I've said, they've come to expect it. The real question here is what he says about the Chinese in his address and how much pressure he still wants to bring to bear. (CROSSTALK)
DRUCKER: The issue with the Chinese, is does the president and does this administration realize it is not in -- the Chinese do not see it in their interest to help the U.S. resolve the North Korean problem. Because as long as we lean on the Chinese as the only party that can really get this done, I think that is going to leave the U.S. on the defensive.
[06:10:16] BERMAN: OK. Reuters -- just now, Reuters is reporting that North Korea put out a statement saying that the more sanctions the U.S. and the U.N. put out, the more quickly it will accelerate its nuclear ambitions. Because it's the only thing that keeps that country relevant.
But this is the main -- we all agree that North Korea, if there is one issue the president actually wants to deal with, other than just appearances, other than just relationships, it's North Korea. He wants to markedly make the situation better.
BERMAN: Yes, but you've got -- you've got an escalating war of words. This is a game of chicken with nukes in the back, between two people trying to out posture each other rhetorically.
Look, I'm not -- North Korea is going to North Korea. You know, it's going to put out ridiculous, over-the-top statements. What's different is you've got an American president applying campaign-style labels: "low-energy Jeb," "Rocket Man," a nuclear power. He's trying to get an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the United States.
So this is high stakes. I think the president feels like he understands the emotional game of jousting with people and humiliating them. But you know, this is -- you know, you can trot out your Elton John repertoire here, folks, but this is -- this is incredibly serious stuff for the U.N. to deal with this week. Because from North Korea's perspective, they've got no security unless they've got nukes.
CAMEROTA: But at the same time, A.B., I mean, these meet and greets that the president is having are -- have been described by lots of analysts as speed dating on steroids. So how much policy, how much will he be able to move the needle o North Korea or anything during this week?
STODDARD: Right. Well, he's actually -- the new president of South Korea and the president have a strained relationship. That, I'm sure, the South Koreans are hoping will be slightly repaired in the days to come.
But -- but he -- we know from these meetings he doesn't like to get too much in the weeds. He likes to be charming and make jokes. And so how much actual repair with the Japanese and the South Koreans will happen? How much he can actually talk to others about pushing the Chinese, and they won't be present. Whether or not he talks about what the Russians are doing to help the North Koreans. We'll see in a couple of days. But some of these visits, mistakes have happened. And they've been
sort of dramatic episodes that the White House advisory team was not planning on.
BERMAN: Yes. Don't let the sun go down on me, perhaps the line from the president today.
AVLON: And well played, sir.
BERMAN: Stick around. President Trump mentioned early and often at last night's primetime Emmy Awards, despite not being on hand for TV's biggest night. But former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, he was there and, one way or another, he stole the show.
CNN's Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," joins us from the other side of the earth right now to look at the highlights -- Brian.
BRIAN STELTER, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Hey, guys. It's Sean Spicer clearly on an image rehab tour. So he's onstage at the Emmys. Did it help him? Did it hurt him? Did he basically just admit to lying to the American people? Well, here's the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, 2017 EMMY AWARDS SHOW: Unfortunately, at this point, we have no way of knowing how big our audience is. I mean, is there anyone who could say how big the audience is? Sean, do you know?
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period, both in person and around the world.
COLBERT: Wow. That really soothes my fragile ego. I can understand why you'd want one of these guys around. Melissa McCarthy, everybody. Give it up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So let the debate begin. Are the Emmys lending Spicer a hand? Are they normalizing his usually dishonest behavior from the White House podium? That is what a lot of Hollywood actors said overnight. A lot of liberals on Twitter and Facebook saying it was inappropriate for Stephen Colbert to be laughing with Sean Spicer.
On the other hand, this was Colbert's idea, everybody. Colbert wanted to have this moment. He knew he was going to get some blowback. But bottom line, he thought it would be funny.
And I think the most important part of this is Spicer himself. He's out there looking for consulting gigs, looking for a TV job. He's joking about his time at the White House, sort of admitting that he was not honest always when he was speaking from the White House podium. And his credibility issues are continuing to follow him out of the White House, even though he's joking about it in Hollywood. BERMAN: I think a lot of the critics probably laughed first before
they allowed themselves to analyze it, which tells you everything right there.
STELTER: I think that's right, yes.
BERMAN: You know, Brian, all of this wasn't even really a subplot of the Emmys last night. It was the main plot of the Emmys last night.
STELTER: Yes. You're absolutely right. HBO was the biggest winner overall. It usually is. But Hulu had a bight night with the show, "Handmaid's Tale," which has a lot of political themes.
[06:15:02] We also saw a lot of wins for "SNL." Alec Baldwin winning an Emmy for his portrayal of Trump, celebrating that moment.
We'll see if the president weighs in on any of the winners. This was clearly a liberal Hollywood night, with shows like "John Oliver Last Week Tonight," with John Oliver winning. You'll remember back in January, during the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep talked about Trump. Trump responded the next morning. So we'll see if the president weighs in on the Emmys.
CAMEROTA: And Brian, we'll talk to you later on in the program about more of this. Thanks so much.
STELTER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So Facebook is obviously in the cross-hairs at the moment. All of their ad buys have emerged as a key focus of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling. Our political panel weighs in on all of this next.
BERMAN: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team now in possession from information from Facebook that could be linked to Russia. And it all has to do with the presidential election.
The special counsel's office obtained a search warrant for the information. That is a huge deal. It could signal a significant turn in the investigation.
Let's bring back our political panel: John Avlon, David Drucker, A.B. Stoddard.
Look, the special counsel ordered to get this warrant, had to go to a judge and say, "Hey, we have evidence of criminal wrongdoing here. We need this information you have. Facebook says, 'We won't turn over said information without a search warrant'." This feels like a shift.
[06:20:04] STODDARD: You can tell that Mueller is focusing in on these very specific things like obstruction of justice, the June 16 meeting -- obstruction of justice on firing of Comey, the crafting of a letter aboard an airplane home from Hamburg, Germany, with several associates and Trump about the June 16, 2016 meeting. And he's focusing in on whether or not there was any collusion between
a Trump associate helping Russian ad buyers on Facebook target certain places to reach certain voters. That would be the closest evidence of any kind of straightforward collusion that we've come to see.
And just as you said, a subpoena where he has to show cause, probable cause of a crime, means that it's more than just a couple of Russian people buying some ads.
AVLON: And this is a question about when these Russian entities were buying these Facebook ads and deploying them, potentially, to millions of American people -- and we know that they seemed to have been promoting anti-immigration rallies. They seemed to be very invested (ph). Was there any knowledge by anyone in the Trump orbit? It becomes a question, not only of what the Trump campaign know and when did they know it, but what did Facebook know and when did they know it? And the only time they're going to be willing to give this critical information is under a subpoena.
CAMEROTA: That's right, because Facebook has not been transparent...
CAMEROTA: ... about all of this, David Drucker. They haven't wanted to tell the American people exactly what the extent of the Russian troll farms buying these ads and then, you know, proliferating them.
DRUCKER: I'm a little sympathetic to Facebook just because of the controversy of whether or not technology companies like this are going to share information provided to them by their customers, by their advertisers. As we know in Washington, with National Security Agency spying powers, there has been a huge debate over how much information the government should have access to, unless it's part of a criminal case.
What I would say about this that is super interesting is that there's always been two issues as a part of the 2016 campaign that we've been trying figure out.
One is the collusion issue. Was there collusion between Trump, his associates and people working against Hillary Clinton, primarily the Russians? The other issue was did the Russians meddle? A lot of people don't the like the idea that the Russians meddled on behalf of Trump. It makes them uncomfortable.
BERMAN: Who likes that idea?
DRUCKER: Well, if you're a Trump supporter, and I have had these discussions...
BERMAN: They think it's a good thing?
DRUCKER: They don't -- they don't think that the Russians would have wanted to help Trump. They would have wanted to help Clinton, because that would signal that Trump maybe was not such a good guy.
AVLON: That's a hermetically-sealed universe.
DRUCKER: Well as you know, these kind of universes exist.
But my point is what this shows, possibly, is some real concrete evidence of Russian meddling, which if you follow this issue from the summer of 2015 on, would not surprise you in the least.
Putin and his nationalist government always liked the idea of Trump. He was still mad at Hillary Clinton because he thought, as secretary of state, she intervened in his last election. And so...
AVLON: He would never say...
DRUCKER: ... this is something that people can get their hands around.
AVLON: Two people concerned about this had a loud dinner at a Washington restaurant over the weekend. Ty Cobb, who's the president's White House lawyer on this subject, and John Dowd was there, as well. And "The New York Times" overheard this conversation, which is astounding to me. Two high-priced lawyers.
And they were talking about whether or not the White House had a right to protect certain documents and how far they should go in turning over information there.
But A.B., you know, what's your take on this, this story in "The New York Times"? Remarkable, these guys making a lot of money, having a loud conversation for reporters to hear.
STODDARD: These were the ones who were brought in, because the inside game was so weak that they needed other outside counsel...
STODDARD: Yes, to come -- and gray beards to come in and sort of clean up this act.
They're -- they're sitting there at a restaurant that we all know is literally steps from "The New York Times" bureau. It is paces. And talking about stuff about these internal fights over who is not trusting who to produce documents. And it's just an example of how much fighting and actually, still leaking is going on. They weren't intentionally leaking there.
BERMAN: Or maybe they were.
DRUCKER: Can I say how jealous I am, by the way? Because I daydream about scoops like this. I mean, all we do in Washington is hang out at -- this is the closest you'll get to a Georgetown cocktail party, quote, unquote, is a restaurant where a lot of us all hang out for one reason or another. And I always I think, maybe I'll overhear something tonight. It never happens. And these guys got it.
AVLON: It was a great scoop by Vogel. And he's sitting right there, and it's a sign of just how, you know, competence should not be overestimated in people.
But one of the lines that really jumps out is Ty Cobb of the polythene (ph) moustache saying that Don McGahn, White House counsel's got documents in his safe that he won't turn over. That's significant.
AVLON: I mean, that's -- you know -- a sign of coming attraction on that one.
DRUCKER: Also, the McGahn spy, which tells you that there's still a lack of trust inside, where they feel like the different lawyers and different advisers are working against each other on this.
[06:25:04] CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what President Trump retweeted over the weekend. It was this doctored video of him hitting Hillary Clinton in the head with -- or back with a golf ball and knocking her over.
So, you know, John, I just don't even know. I mean, this -- I'm sure the White House will say this is just a joke. It's just a joke.
CAMEROTA: But the interesting thing about jokes is that they're usually funny. And this is just weird and juvenile and everything else.
AVLON: Are you saying it's not presidential, Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: I guess that's what I'm saying.
AVLON: If Abraham Lincoln had Twitter, he would have done the same thing. No, I'm kidding, obviously.
The point is that Twitter Trump is the real Trump. And the president is attracted at the early morning hours to juvenile videos that often involve violence to his enemies. This may be a, "Hey, can't you get a sense of humor aspect." The fact that the account that had tweeted it had a very typically unsavory history.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes. The name itself was disgusting.
CAMEROTA: From where he tweeted it out.
AVLON: Yes. So, you know, so -- so but this just shows where the president's at is sort of high-school-bully-level humor.
BERMAN: But it's also high school -- former high school football player who cannot stop reliving his old glory, A.B. It just seems all he wants to talk about whenever he can is the fact that he beat Hillary Clinton in the election.
STODDARD: It's interesting, because those two things. One, he had a tough week with the base last week. And he made, you know, plans with Chuck and Nancy. And he's worried about some blowback from that on Breitbart News. So he's trying to beat up on Hillary Clinton, because his fans like that.
But at the -- but behind the scenes, people will tell you that, in White House discussions in private, he still brings up his victory against the Clinton machine as a reason for why he knows better than them on decision making when they're in just private, small settings.
DRUCKER: Yes, and this has mileage. Because so much of his electoral base was motivated by the idea of Trump as their avatar, thumbing his nose at the system. Just acting unpresidential for them is why they actually elected him. And so doing this every once in a while, as much as I think Trump in so many ways is a political id without any strategic forethought, I think when he does this sort of thing he understands who's going to react to it and how they're going to react to it. And I think, from his point of view, that works just fine for him.
The interesting thing about the -- the idea of who lacks a sense of humor is when this sort of thing is turned around on the president. There is no sense of humor whatsoever from him or his advisers in the White House.
CAMEROTA: Good point. Panel, thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right. We've got a lot of other news. One of two hurricanes churning in the Atlantic posting a threat to some already battered by Irma last week. We're going to have the latest forecast tracks. That's next.