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NEW DAY

Trump to Make His Debut at U.N.; Sean Spicer Makes Surprise Emmy Appearance; McMaster: Administration Considering New Travel Ban. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 18, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't have a lot of time. We don't have a runway left to land this plane on.

[07:00:06] SEN. DIANNE WEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I have never been in a state of greater concern about this nation.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president mocking Kim Jong-un and Hillary Clinton on Twitter just days before his U.N. address.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is unfiltered. He is not prepackaged the way all these other politicians are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just weeks after hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean, two more hurricanes strengthening in the Atlantic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wind still at 90 miles per hour. No lack of action in the tropic whatsoever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're watching a storm system here. The threat very high.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off this morning. John Berman joins me. Great to have you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just in time for the U.N.

CAMEROTA: There you go. It's a very big week and a big morning. So all eyes on President Trump at the United Nations as he prepares to address world leaders for the first time. The international community is watching to see how the president explains his "America first" policy and his skepticism of the U.N.

BERMAN: North Korea's nuclear threat looming large over the meeting. U.S. officials warned Pyongyang that time is running out for a peaceful solution. U.S. bombers and fighter jets again today conducted drills over the Korean Peninsula.

Plus, we have the latest on two hurricanes posing a threat to the Northeast and the Caribbean. We have this all covered for you this morning.

Let's begin with Michelle Kosinski, live at the United Nations -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Spending some time with a couple of the foreign delegations over the last few days. What do you hear is how curious they are, not only about just what Donald Trump will say but how will he say it. What will his tone be? Will this be a fully-scripted Trump or not so much? How much support will he express for the U.N.? How much will he articulate foreign policy beyond what they've already heard in the tweets, the "America first," as well as multiple mixed messages from this administration?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 (R), 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 retweeting a video, edited 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?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: 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 really 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI: So among the mixed messages that we've heard that the world now is going to try to decipher here, is the U.S. truly out of the Paris climate deal or not? Is the U.S. leaving the Iran nuclear deal?

Let's take a look at the president's schedule. First, we'll hear him chairing a session on reforming the U.N. He wants to make it more efficient. He'll meet with the Israeli prime minister, the French president. And then tonight a dinner with Latin American leaders -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Michelle. Thank you very much. We'll try to get those questions answered. Let's bring in our political panel.

Joining us now is CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger; and CNN political analyst David Gregory. Great to see both of you.

[07:05:07] David Sanger, what are we expecting this week at the U.N., in particular about the Iran nuclear deal?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a few things, Alisyn.

First, the president is only moving, you know, 14 blocks away from Trump Tower. But in many ways, it's a world away.

As you indicated there, this is not his favorite institution. If you've come to office arguing for America first, that is not the founding principle of the U.N. So there's a built-in tension here.

And the Iran deal is going to be one of the first big tests, because the president has made it pretty clear that he considers this not only a terrible deal but one that the United States should find its way out of. Now, my reporting last week suggested that, while he's going to talk a

lot about finding his way out of it, he's not actually going to do something that violates it and leaves it. And that's because if he does, the Iranians would be free to go resume their production of uranium and plutonium, and put themselves right back in the position of getting near a nuclear weapon at a moment that we've got another nuclear problem on the other side of the world.

So he's got a lot of advisers, Rex Tillerson included, telling him make a lot of noise about it if you want. Decertify that the Iranians are complying. But don't actually leave the deal.

BERMAN: David Gregory, you've covered many presidents addressing the U.N. Look, there are two audiences here. There's the audience at the United Nations, the General Assembly, leaders from all over the world, who will be listening, and then there are the American people, particularly people who elected President Donald Trump. Which group do you think he'll be addressing this week?

GREGORY: Well, I think he'll be speaking to both. But I think there's probably different expectations. I think Americans are rightly very concerned about North Korea, how that's going to unfold, about the prospect of miscalculation, about who's really running North Korea policy, whether you know, the president on his tweets, is he impulsive? Is he taking a more measured approach and a more strategic approach with a foreign policy team? And then the international community that's wondering whether this very go-it-alone president, an "America first" president on trade, coming out of the climate change, the protocols of the Paris Accord, and somebody who talks really unhelpfully about nuclear -- I mean, terrorist attacks in Great Britain.

Is he someone who is really -- doesn't want to play well with others, doesn't want to negotiate, doesn't want to lead in the way that America has historically led?

And so I think that's where North Korea kind of becomes the focal point for both of these audiences, to see how the president talks about it, how he approaches it, how he both asserts American authority and leadership and the prospect of American military action, and tries to rally china, South Korea and others to play a really responsible role.

So when a master (ph) talks about accountability on the part of other countries, I think that's where the president tries to call out other countries to do more of their share to defuse this.

CAMEROTA: David, on the North Korea front, let's talk about a little bit more of your reporting, and that is the U.S. trying to find out who is providing this very powerful rocket fuel to North Korea. It's called UDMH. Those are its initials. And the thinking is that China and Russia have been providing that to North Korea. And we don't know if they still are.

SANGER: That's right, Alisyn. This is a story I did with my colleague Bill broad. And the reason we focused on it is that, while the word was talking and Nikki Haley was trying to talk about trying to cut off fuel oil and all that to the North Koreans, which could prompt a big humanitarian crisis in the winter if you're freezing out 25 million North Koreans.

There is a simpler way of this, which is to try to cut off their access to this very rare fuel, which is what powers their ICBMs. Now, initially, they had to get this fuel from China and from Russia. Those were the only two significant producers who would likely sell it to them.

The intelligence community, when we asked a number of questions about it, came back and said they now think that the North Koreans probably have the capability to produce it itself.

But there is a significant failure here for the west, Alisyn. Because we found intelligence reports, some of them in the WikiLeaks trove from 2010, that go back to the Bush administration in which Condoleezza Rice is warning that the North Koreans are going to be able to reach the United States soon with aa long-range missile. And of course, 10 years later, that's exactly what's happened.

And we couldn't find any significant national security officials, senior national security officials who were able to tell us if they ever really focused on this during the Bush and Obama years.

So it is a bit of a mystery how the North Koreans were able to get away with importing this very rare fuel.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, David Gregory, a lot of focus this morning on "Rocket Man." You know, President Trump referring to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, as "Rocket Man" in this tweet right here. But beyond that, you know, what are the deliverables this week you think the president wants on the North Korean issue? Is it clarity? Is it coherence? Is it maybe the pathway to more sanctions?

GREGORY: Well, there's no question they've put some sanctions in place. And as David suggested, they want to cut off fuel oil, which is a dramatic step if it were to come to pass.

But I think part of what they want here is to get to a stage of negotiation. I mean, if you're talking about Kim, you know, pursuing a path of his own national honor, his own self-preservation as a regime, there's no question he is being aided in that by China to the extent that China also is a rising military party, challenging the United States, does not want further U.S. influence in their neighborhood by any kind of war with North Korea and the catastrophe that would -- would come from all of that. But one result would be, still, a lot more American influence in North Korea and perhaps a unified Korea.

So that, I think, is where I think, presumably, in meetings the president wants to try to advance his -- his influence and play his hand to get more pressure from the Chinese on the north to finally negotiate. I mean, that may be what it is. They get to a point where there's some discussion of a nuclear freeze and that the north gets to hold onto at least some of what it's got, despite what U.S. officials are saying, that they don't want them to have nuclear weapons.

BERMAN: Look, that would be more than what this administration right now claims it would settle for. But interesting that it's even being discussed.

David Gregory, David Sanger, thank you so very much.

President Trump's long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, telling CNN he will appear tomorrow before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Cohen's appearance will be voluntary, as part of the panel's investigation into Russia's election interference. Cohen had previously said he would decline invitations to testify from the House and Senate Intelligence Committees but would comply with a subpoena saying he has nothing to hide.

CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans making a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. This week GOP leaders will gauge support for the new plan introduced by senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. If there is enough support, the proposal could come up for a vote next week. The bill calls for an end of the individual and employer mandates and would shift Medicaid expansion funding to the states. Democrats warn that millions could lose health care if the bill passes.

AVLON: Two hurricanes churning in the Atlantic and posing a threat to the northeast and to the Caribbean islands still devastated by Irma last week. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers keeping an eye on both storms.

Chad, two of them.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

So let's go in alphabetical order. Let's start with Jose. Jose poses a danger for significant wave action and rip currents along the East Coast. That's it's major concern right now, anywhere from Block Island all the way down South, even up to Delmarva.

The storm is still 70 miles per hour, almost 80 miles per hour at times. And it is still going to sit there and churn right over the Atlantic. And it's not going to move. And the waves are going to be 16 feet. Waves like you have not seen on the East Coast in a long time.

Now to Maria, a storm that will be a Category 4 as it approaches the U.S. Virgin Islands and also Puerto Rico. This is a big storm for this area, because it's already been hit. The homes are already damaged, and things are going to fly around. A hundred and thirty to 140 miles per hour.

Now let me take you and push this forward. I hate to do this, but that's five days already. This will be day 6, 7 and 8. So we're already talking about next Tuesday.

I just want to show you, so far nothing getting into Florida here. The storm is in the Atlantic Ocean, although still making tremendous waves again. And there's still a lot of potential. It was still a Cat 3 or Cat 4. So it is not going to, at least for now, follow the same track after it crosses the Dominican Republic. It should turn to the right. We'll watch it.

I know eight days out on a hurricane forecast is a guess. The range of air could be 500 miles one way or the other. I just wanted to push it forward so you can look at it. Because otherwise, you know, it's hard to look at on the computer. Just so that we can visualize it for you -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Chad. We will not hold you responsible. But tomorrow, we will start to. Thank you very much for that.

So is the Trump administration preparing a new version of the travel ban? The president wants it to be tougher and more specific. One of the president's top supporters here on that and more, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:18:50] CAMEROTA: President Trump set for a U.N. debut in just hours, and this comes as his national security advisor says the White House is looking at a stricter travel ban after the most recent London terror attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If you can't screen people effectively to know who's coming into your country, then you shouldn't allow people from that country to travel. So what the travel ban is in a first step, a first step in better screening, better sharing of information to encourage governments to meet the requirements that we have so that it allows us to protect our own people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will we see a new one?

MCMASTER: Well, this is something that we're looking at. It's how to protect the American people better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now is Republican Congressman Chris Collins. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So, why do we need a newer, stricter travel ban? The first one, obviously, has already met some legal obstacles. And, you know, if there's one thing that the U.S. does very well, it's this 20-step screening process of refugees into the country. Why is the administration so focused on this?

[07:20:04] COLLINS: Well, I think there's no question General McMaster, the president, are focused on keeping America as safe as we can. And we do know, as the terrorists are going to continue to target the civilized world, we just have to be prepared for whatever it may be.

And you didn't hear any specifics at all. And then really, what I heard McMaster say was they're focused on security. They know that they're going to try to get into our country. And I just think we should all understand that it's all about our security. And he didn't mention any specifics.

CAMEROTA: Right. And that's part...

COLLINS: He mentioned we need to know who's coming into our country. And I think it gets back to data sharing between our country and the other countries so we do know who's coming into the country.

CAMEROTA: Do you want to see more than six countries on the travel ban?

COLLINS: I'm not going to say how many countries. I think it comes to who's sharing information with us so that we know who these folks are and who's not. And if they're not, then we shouldn't have their folks coming in.

CAMEROTA: I want to move on to what the president was doing this weekend in terms of Twitter. He retweeted -- I mean, you're laughing already. Because which part do you find most amusing?

COLLINS: Well, it's -- he -- the president does have a sense of humor. Rocket Man was, I thought, poking at Kim Jong-un in a pretty funny way, so I think to get under his skin. And he's also talking let's face it, whenever he's tweeting, President Trump is talking straight to his base. They enjoy it. And, you know, he's delivering a message.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, to whom is unclear. You know, calling Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" is fine. Obviously, the rhetoric is quite heated between the two countries. But do you think that establishes kind of the stature that the president wants as we start U.N. General Assembly week on the international stage?

COLLINS: You know, let's face it, Alisyn. Most of them are pretty stuffy, the folks. They're all hung up on protocol, you know, and who shakes whose hand first and what line do you stand in?

One thing about President Trump: he doesn't stand on protocol at all. Whether it's the way he interacts with crowds and calls people up on stage. He's just a fun guy. He really is. If anyone would get to know him.

So I think, you know, the stuffy diplomats at the U.N. are, you know, going to be taken aback a bit. And that goes for the why he handles his Twitter account, which is him speaking directly like, you know, people do as they're, you know, having a cup of coffee, you know, at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But let me ask about the one that he retweeted. This shows him hitting a golf ball, basically teeing off on Hillary Clinton because his ball -- it's obviously a doctored video. His ball supposedly flies up and hits her in the back and knocks her over. Is that funny?

COLLINS: I did not see that retweet, if that's what you're saying.

CAMEROTA: Yes. It's on your screen right now. I don't know if you can see it. But it's a retweet from kind of a gross account of a guy with a vulgar name. And it shows, you know, what some are calling violence against Hillary Clinton. What do you think of that?

COLLINS: Well, we know it would not be that. I -- I would just be -- I don't retweet or forward anything from my account.

CAMEROTA: And why don't you? Why don't you do that?

COLLINS: Well, because anything and everything can be taken out of context. So I just -- I just have established in myself if I get an e-mail from someone, even if I think it's hysterical, I don't forward it on, because the next person may not think so.

CAMEROTA: And do you think the president should follow that rule of thumb?

COLLINS: Well, I'm not going to tell the president what to do. But I would always suggest to anyone and everyone, don't -- don't forward and don't retweet.

CAMEROTA: That does sound like some advice for the president.

Next, I want to show you this picture. The president's legal team, two members of the president's legal team were dining out. You see them at the outdoor section of this Washington, D.C., restaurant, BLT Steak. And they were apparently speaking quite loudly, loudly enough for a neighboring table of a "New York Times" reporter to overhear them.

And interestingly, they were talking about the Russia investigation. And interestingly, the "New York Times" reporter heard them discussing documents that they say the White House counsel, Don McGahn, chief counsel, has in a safe connected to the Russian investigation. How did this happen? And what are those documents that he might have in a safe?

[07:25:04] COLLINS: Oh, I would have no way of knowing any of that. Certainly, of what you'd call a fourth-hand conversation. I have no idea what anyone is talking about.

I'm sure the White House is very aware of what documents they have to forward on to -- you know, whether it's a subpoena or other requests for information. So I wouldn't read any -- I wouldn't read much at all into this couple of folks at a dinner table, talking louder than they should have. Without knowing any of it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but they're not just a couple of folks. They're not just a couple of folks. They're the legal team. I mean, what about the judgment or the amateurness -- amateurishness of two of the president's top lawyers speaking publicly about this? COLLINS: Well, you know, you -- if you're sitting talking with

somebody at dinner, you need to be careful. I mean, I made that mistake once off the House floor, talking to my son on the telephone, and some reporters misreported what I was saying. So I've been on the, certainly, the receiving end of information reportedly overheard out of context.

So again, I would not read anything into this, other than it's a word of caution, again, for everyone. But certainly, anyone working with the president, they shouldn't be discussing official business or anything remotely that would be considered official business in a public restaurant.

CAMEROTA: A lot of cautionary tales this morning from Congressman Chris Collins. Thank you very much for being with us.

COLLINS: Yes, it's good to be with you, Alisyn. All righty.

BERMAN: The world according to Chris Collins, not the world of the White House right now.

Facebook caught in the middle of the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. So how can the U.S. keep its future elections safe? The senator with a plan, he joins us next.