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President Trump to Address U.N. General Assembly; Analysts Examine Trump Administration's Approach to North Korea. U.S. Warns North Korea That Time Is Running Out; Cassidy-Graham Health Care Plan Gaining Momentum. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired September 18, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] TONY BLAIR, TONY BLAIR INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL CHANGE: So my view is we need a completely different, much more radical, much more far-sighted approach to dealing with this than we have at the moment.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And if people want to learn more, they can go to the Institute for Global Change and find out all the things that you're working on.
BLAIR: Thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Thank you so much. Great to have you here.
BLAIR: It's a pleasure.
CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very important week for the president. The world will be listening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the United States has to defend itself in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably one of the most serious security crises we've faced.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump calling North Korea's leader "Rocket man," as he prepares to address world leaders for the first time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a destructor. He enjoys engaging on social media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 MALE: Tracking two hurricanes in the Atlantic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The storm is expected to strengthen as it gains more steam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 18th, 8:00 here in the east. Chris is off. John Berman joins me. It's a very busy Monday.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
CAMEROTA: Let's get right to it.
All eyes on President Trump at the United Nations as he prepares to address world leaders for the first time on that stage. Much of the focus will be on how the president explains his America first agenda and his past skepticism of the U.N.
BERMAN: North Korea's nuclear threat looming large over the annual gathering. U.S. officials warn Pyongyang that time is running out for a peaceful solution. U.S. bombers and fighter jets again today conducting drills over the Korean peninsula. While that's going on we're tracking two hurricanes posing a threat to the north east and the Caribbean. We have this all covered for you. Let's begin with the meetings at the United Nations. Michelle Kosinski is there. Michelle?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Foreign delegations have been talking about this speech even days before it happens. They want to know is this going to be President Trump on his best behavior. Is he going to stick with a script or not so much? They want to see what is his tone in addressing them. Is he going to be supportive of the U.N. without criticism? And how is he going to articulate U.S. foreign policy beyond what they've already heard in his tweets, in the America first, and in multiple mixed messages.
KOSINSKI: 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 re-tweeting a video edited to show him knocking over former 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.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't have a lot of time left. If our diplomatic efforts fail, though, our military option will be the only one left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the president's fire and fury remark an empty threat?
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE 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 adviser 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?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I heard two --
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 ADVISER: 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 over all fewer, leaving allies skeptical of how much the U.S. will be 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: Among the big questions raised here by some of those mixed messages are, is the U.S. truly out of the Paris climate deal or not? Is the U.S. leaving the Iran nuclear deal?
[08:05:08] And looking ahead to the president's schedule today on his first day, he will chair a session on reforming the U.N., something he's pushed for to try to make it more efficient. He'll also be meeting with leaders of Israel, France, and, tonight, Latin America. Alisyn and John?
CAMEROTA: OK, Michelle, thank you for that preview.
Let's bring in our political panel to discuss it. We have editor at large at "TIME" magazine and president of Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer, and CNN political analyst David Gregory. David, what do we expect, is there any way to tell what to expect from President Trump this week at the U.N.?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Just a few minutes ago on our air Tony Blair was saying there is confusion and there is anxiety, and I think that's the principle aim here is to try to clear some of that up. This is now President Trump on the world stage, a major international institution, one he's been critical of. It is not unusual to have a new president to be looked at askance by the international community, and this president even more.
He's also been unpredictable. We've seen that in domestic affairs just in the past couple of weeks, how he's worked with Democrats. Now there's some signaling that maybe he will find a way back into the Paris climate accord. And there's a looming crises over North Korea where we're going to see the president privately and publicly ramp up pressure on North Korea but also put pressure on, namely, China to play a bigger role to diffuse this growing nuclear threat from North Korea. So I think this is really going to be about tone. It's going to be about style as people are still trying to take Trump's measure to gauge what we've seen so far versus where he may be heading.
BERMAN: Tone and style, and the appetizer to the speech this week is this statement that he made on Twitter about Kim Jong-un, Ian, calling him "Rocket man." Right here I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night, asked him how Rocket man is doing, long gas lines forming in North Korea, too bad. You like Rocket man?
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT OF EURASIA GROUP: Sure. It's clever. It's been used before. The Japanese used to call Kim John-il "Rocket monster," his dad. Trump is good at coming up with cute nicknames that everyone talks about, and here we are talking about it.
Let's face it, the North Koreans are vastly better at propaganda than we are and they say they're going to destroy us and they're going to sink Japan and they're going to leave nothing but ashes. I think he can handle a tweet that's going to only put Kim Jong-un more in the news.
But to get back to David's point, what's interesting about Trump at the United Nations, when Trump gets insecure, he goes to his base. When he thinks the media is going badly, he goes to his base. On the international stage, he has no base. Even American allies privately look at Trump and say who the hell is this guy, we don't trust him, we don't know about our relationship anymore.
He'll be fine on the big stage at the U.N. General Assembly because the speech is written for him. More formal is fine. But in all of these off camera moments, the one-on-ones with all of these heads of state, and then the delegates are going to be talking to each other, it's going to leak. You remember these conversations with the Australian Prime Minister and Philippine president and all that, that's where we've gotten some of the most salacious headlines because their staffs look at Trump and say, who the hell is this bozo?
And what's going to happen this week is you're going to get a lot of that because they don't like him, they don't trust him, and offline, off camera they say a lot of really snarky things.
CAMEROTA: That's interesting, right, David, because these meet and greets have been described as like speed dating on steroids, but if these conversations tend to be more provocative or even just less scripted, that will be interesting to listen to.
GREGORY: Right, and I think the other side of that, and I'd be curious for Ian's take, is there is an opportunity to impress with a more strategic approach to North Korea. I do maintain, despite tweets about Rocket man and some of the other things we've seen from the president, if you look at what he's actually done, what his national security team has actually done, it is to treat this seriously. It is to move forward both in the United Nations and dealing one-on-one with China to try to ramp up pressure there.
This is not someone who's loosely talking about going to war. They've talked about all options on the table, but they're clearly positioning themselves to try to get into some kind of conversation with the North, some kind of dialogue while really putting pressure on China which, after all, has to be the most concerned, not only about the potential for war but also what would flow from that, which would be more U.S. influence if that part of the world, particularly in a potentially unified Korea. So these are things that China both fears and has some control over.
BERMAN: Ian, is there a coherent North Korea policy right now?
BREMMER: I think that the actual implementation of policy is pretty coherent. Let's keep in mind that the North Koreans after the Americans made it pretty rough and credible that you come towards Guam, we're really going to hit you back, Kim Jong-un backed off pretty quickly, right?
[08:10:03] CAMEROTA: Define that policy. So that means that we set some sort of red line, which is Guam, I guess, and they take notice. Is that how it's working?
BREMMER: A couple things. One, it means that we are going to consistently talk the military angle, that if this really falls apart, we're running out of time, this isn't going to last through the next administration, whoever that is, you can't kick the can anymore. So either you get enough sanctions, enough pressure on North Korea that we actually see them change their behavior, or there is a possibility that there's going to be a military attack.
Now, I don't think that we would engage militarily, but the credible questioning of the Chinese and North Koreans, the strategy is we'll bring them to the table. And at least on the security council we've now seen 15 zero votes, which means not just our allies but the Russians and the Chinese upping the ante and doing things that we've not seen under Obama, under Clinton, under Bush in terms of squeezing the North Koreans.
Now, let's see if they really execute on that and let's see how the North Koreans respond. Nikki Haley deserves credit in pushing the Chinese, cajoling, engaging, and berating to get them around the table and moving. Kim Jong-un deserves more credit in ultimately ensuring that's the reason this is all coming together, but I think you have to say she's doing a pretty credible job.
GREGORY: If you remember, even short-term history going back to the Clinton administration, there was a negotiation with Kim's father that ultimately fell apart around a nuclear freeze. And I remember President Bush talking about how Iran would never go nuclear on his watch. The truth is they kept buying time on that, and ultimately the Obama administration has done the same, buying another 14 years that these deals keep getting recertified. I have to think that any administration wants to buy as much time with North Korea as possible.
BERMAN: We'll have to wait and see. Ian, I want to ask you about a couple other things. The Paris climate deal, there was talk this weekend the administration might be willing to renegotiate or stay in it. They say, no, no, no, there's no change in our policy. Do you think there's any possibility for a change in the policy?
BREMMER: Not at this point, no. I think they already took the political hits. We already know that there are, I think, nine states that have said that they're going to continue to commit to Paris climate goals. Over 300 cities have also said it and a whole bunch of corporations. I don't think that around the world governments are really concerned that the United States being out means that this whole thing is going to fall apart, but Trump gets to say this is one of the things that I had promised during the campaign and I'm going through on my commitment.
I think there are people within his administration that are deeply unhappy about that, some are leaking to the press. I'd be stunned if they actually did a flip on this.
CAMEROTA: And David, curious about your thoughts on Paris as well as Iran nuclear deal. It sounds like the administration is rethinking some of the things that President Trump has threatened on that too.
GREGORY: Well, again, how many crises do they want to take on at once? They don't want to unleash Iran to just resume its program. At least the existing accord buys America and its allies more time to keep Iran in check. You heard David Sanger from "The Times" saying the last hour is you can keep bashing Iran over this, just don't get all the way to the point of decertifying.
My bigger question about climate policy and about the president's approach to the U.N. is one that I think is part of his domestic policy as well. The president has a base, as Ian said. He plays to that base when he feels insecure or under attack. But when he's attacked it reminds him how much he dislikes being disliked and how legitimate he wants to be and appear on the world stage. And I think the opportunity to win, however the president defines
that, and to be seen as a legitimate world leader is something that I think really appeals to him, and we've seen him start to make some compromises to position himself that way. And that's why I'm kind of eager to see how he approaches the U.N. and how much that will change from his campaign rhetoric.
BREMMER: I just say national security is the one place where Trump seems to know that he doesn't know things. And that's a good thing. Remember NATO when he said NATO is obsolete, we've got to get rid of it. And then later he comes back and he said I was a real estate guy, I didn't know anything about NATO. He would never admit that level of lack of knowledge on trade, on tax, on health care. I think that's why you've seen him go to the generals who know things. And ultimately I think that gives us a little more feeling of security that he's not going off the rails on some of these issues.
CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you. Thanks for the great conversation and the preview.
We have to talk about other big news. Hurricane Maria, yes, new name, rapidly intensifying, taking aim at Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And that's not the only hurricane that we are watching closely. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our new forecast. How's it looking this hour, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Still much bigger, and bigger than we talked about at 5:00 in the morning, 110 miles per hour right now, Alisyn. And the storm is moving towards Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique. Those are the islands now that are going to get smashed today. But later on this thing even gets bigger -- 140 mile per hour storm headed towards the USVI and even into Puerto Rico by really Wednesday morning. It's time to wrap up your preparations now, Puerto Rico.
Now we will still see outer eye bands into the areas of the U.S. V.I. and the B.V.I. that got hit so very hard. You have half your life in the middle of the front yard and things blow around again, and then all of a sudden about 125 miles over the Turks and Caicos.
Here are the two models, U.S. versus European model. Neither are making an approach to the U.S. Jose making approach only with waves, big waves, could be 15 feet on parts of the east coast -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers for us watching those very, very closely. Appreciate it.
An investigation is under way after a Georgia tech student was shot and killed by campus police in Atlanta over the weekend. We want to warn you the video of this shooting is very troubling.
Authorities say the incident shows Scout Schultz being repeatedly warned by the officers to drop the knife. Now, a knife -- you can't really see it in this video but a CNN affiliate shot images of a metallic object at the scene.
Schultz can be heard saying, shoot me, on the video and was eventually shot after walking towards officers. A family attorney insists this was not what is known as suicide by cop.
CAMEROTA: Well, the primetime Emmy Awards got political last night, surprise. One celebrity after another taking jabs at President Trump, and Sean Spicer making a big splash.
CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter joins us now with the highlights. Brian, great to see you. Was this Emmys more political than ever before?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think in the Trump age everything in Hollywood is more political than it was before and that was definitely true at the Emmys. It was really the Trump White House's credibility crises on display with Sean Spicer surprising the audience.
Making jokes about one of his most infamous moments where he was misleading the public after the inauguration when he talked about the crowd size. Take a look at this video. What was Spicer doing here? Was he auditioning for a tv job? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW" ON CBS: Unfortunately at this point we have no way of knowing how big our audience is. Is there anyone who could say how big the audience is? Sean, do you know? This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in person and around the world.
Wow, that really sooths my fragile ego. I can understand why you would want one of these guys around. Melissa McCarthy, everybody, give it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Having Melissa in the crowd was crucial, of course, having her react to the real-life Sean Spicer. Right now, Spicer is looking for work, getting public speaking gigs, consulting jobs. He's been looking for a tv commentator deal.
CNN said we're not interested in hiring Spicer. That was a little bit of a smack at his credibility problems when he was press secretary. He hasn't found a tv commentator jobs but he's having fun with his personality from the White House.
CAMEROTA: Look Brian, in this age of shamelessness, is it just a matter of time before he gets a tv gig? I find it hard to believe that Sean Spicer is not going to land a good job, but in addition to that, obviously the Spicer moment was just that, just a moment. So how else were we seeing politics come to play last night in the awards show?
STELTER: Yes, I think people who were voting on what shows, what winners were going to take home Emmys were thinking about politics, whether it's the handmade's tail, the breakout show on Hulu with a lot of political themes or "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver winning for the second year in a row or Alec Baldwin winning for his impersonation of Trump on "SNL."
We saw liberal Hollywood reacting to the Trump age in a variety of these categories. As for Spicer, we'll see who ends up having the last laugh. A lot of people are saying Colbert should not be rewarding him with attention like this. This was Colbert's idea. He thought it would be funny and worth it and of course, it's the talk of everybody's social media feeds this morning.
CUOMO: Sure is. All right, Brian, thank you very much for all that.
BERMAN: Interesting. All right. Ramping up the rhetoric, the Trump administration warning North Korea that time is running out. Can a military conflict be avoided? We will ask a member of the House Armed Services Committee next.
BERMAN: President Trump ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un over the weekend. The president mocked him with a statement on Twitter. He said, "I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night, asked him how rocketman is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad."
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Trent Franks. He serves in the House Armed Services and Judiciary Committees. Thank you for being with us. Do you believe that the president's policy towards North Korea has been effective?
REPRESENTATIVE TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Well, on one front I definitely do, John. There's probably no more significant deterrent in the minds of the North Korean government than a conviction that if they threaten to truly put a missile on the United States or territories that they will suffer irreparably as a result. I think that the president has made that message loud and clear, and actually I think there's no more important single factor in this equation.
BERMAN: But, since the fire and fury comments that the president made, since threatening about Guam, North Korea has shot at least two missiles over Japan, something not done in decades, tested perhaps its most powerful nuclear device ever. So, if that's deterrence, what does non-deterrence look like?
FRANKS: Well, this is kind of a brinksmanship situation. The reality is that North Korea has been paying attention. You know, they made a deal with Bill Clinton on the nuclear front, and they gain tremendous compensation to the United States, but they did not have to dismantle their nuclear capability. [08:25:08] They did same thing with Barack Obama on their missile capability, tremendous compensation but no dismantlement. Then they watched the Iran nuclear deal. In that case there was incredible compensation given. So North Korea is hoping to somehow bluff their way into greater compensation. The danger is that this thing could get out of hand.
BERMAN: Where's the bluff here, though? They tested what could have been a high Hydrogen bomb --
FRANKS: I'm suggesting to you that I think right now they don't want to fight the united states, but that capability exists and I'm suggesting to you that there are two components to any threat and that is intent and capability.
The North Koreans just threatened the United States with the potential EMP attack given their now increased yield with the potential of a hydrogen bomb or thermamal nuclear capability.
I think that the indications are they do have a thermal nuclear capability maybe a two-states capability, but it's irrelevant if it was increased gamma ray capability and that means that their EMP threat is credible. They may have a capability.
If you put that threat and that capability together it spells something we need to pay attention to. Our imperative objective must be to dismantle the North Korean capability.
We have to do that, and I think that this president may be the one to do it. It's unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation as we do right now. It represents a failed policy of the past.
BERMAN: Again, I hope we get a chance to talk in the future about how the current policy has deterred or not, but I want to shift gears to different issues on the table right now. We learned over the weekend that Facebook has turned over to the special ounsel's office, Robert Mueller, some information about ads, who bought them, perhaps connected to Russian meddling in the election. You've called on Robert Mueller to step down, resign as special counsel. What do you make of this news about the Facebook involvement?
FRANKS: Well, I mean, generally I make that the left media will do anything they can to focus on Russia regardless. If you think right now that somehow that this issue is more significant than the one we just spoke of, then I think there's a terrible misunderstanding there.
BERMAN: did not -- I asked about North Korea first. I'm asking about Robert Mueller and Facebook. So, address that, please.
FRANKS: I did call for Robert Mueller to step down and I would renew that call this morning. There is no question in my mind that Mr. Mueller is in contradiction of the law in that he has a conflict of interest. No doubt in my mind about that.
Even if it's just an appearance of a conflict, the law says he must step aside. So, I'm convinced that the left couldn't find Russia on a map until, somehow, they thought it could be used as a wedge against Donald Trump.
BERMAN: Are you suggesting that Robert Mueller is part of -- the special counsellor, the FBI, is part of the left. All I was asking about Facebook, the idea that Facebook has turned over information under subpoena about ads and who bought them.
FRANKS: I think that's fine. I think we should get to the bottom of that completely. But when we do, we're going to see, in my judgment, based on everything that's happened thus far is a continued overblown, over focus on something that doesn't have substance. I'm concerned about that because we do have some real issues in front of us right now and I would suggest to you that North Korea may be one of them that could escalate and threaten your children and mine.
BERMAN: Again, we are focusing heavily on North Korea right now. Congress may take up health care again this week. There are rumblings that it might get a vote on the Senate floor. You are in the House, Rand Paul, Kentucky senator, sometimes more in line with the House Freedom Caucus has suggested that Graham (ph) Cassidy which would turn money over to the states in terms of a block grants is not something he's said. If a version of Graham (ph) Cassidy ever came back to the House, what's your take on it?
FRANKS: I think that Rand Paul's comments as far as the specifics are correct in that it is not a repeal nor replacement. But what should be made clear is under the reconciliation process in the Byrd rule, it is illegal to repeal and replace Obamacare. I can't imagine how that isn't more clear in the media in this discussion.
The Senate rules simply will not allow the repeal or replacement of Obamacare. On that front Rand Paul is right. On the other front, almost anything is better than the trajectory that we're on with Obamacare, and the Graham Cassidy legislation I think is a step in a much better direction and only time will tell what form it takes.
But I would suggest to you that some of us in the House might be able to support that if we can get it on the Senate. The House almost always gets their work done.