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Corker: Trump Treating White House Like a 'Reality Show'; White House Makes Demands for DREAMers Deal; Pence Leaves NFL Game after Anthem Protest. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure Corker is not going for forget the insults that Trump leveled at him.

[05:59:27] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corker accusing the president of running the White House like a reality show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People in private say this all the time and things much worse than that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump possibly scuttling the bipartisan effort to protect DREAMers with a hardline list of demands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very hard for Democrats to say "yes" to.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We made a promise to our DREAMers. America should keep its promises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 97-page deposition obtained exclusively by CNN gives us fresh insight into his mind four years before the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had that written down, figured out where to shoot to his targets (ph) from there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still no clear idea why he did this, and that is very frustrating to investigators.


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, October 9, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is off today. Bill Weir joins me.

Great to have you here in studio.

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be with you, my friend. Yes.

CAMEROTA: We have a lot to talk about, so let's get to it.

Here's our starting line. President Trump's escalating feud with a top Republican takes another nasty turn. After repeated attacks from Mr. Trump, Senator Bob Corker now says the president is treating the White House like a, quote, "reality show" and that the president's threats could put the nation, quote, "on the path to World War III." This as the White House delivers a long list of demands to Congress, threatening to derail any chance of the deal protecting DREAMers. Democratic leaders are denouncing the president's hardline measures.

WEIR: Meantime, Vice President Mike Pence's walkout of an NFL game after players kneeled during the anthem has many asking how much did this P.R. stunt cost taxpayers. It seems like this was an errand from the president. We'll crunch the numbers and press for answers.

And one week after the deadliest mass shooting investigators are still stumped on the killer's motive. Could a deposition from a lawsuit four years ago provide any clues at all? We have a CNN exclusive, the Las Vegas killer in his own words.

All covered, but we begin this morning with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House, along with an all-star celebrity panel of political insiders here. But let's start with the latest on the Bob Corker rift with Joe Johns.


President Trump slammed by a prominent member of his own party, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker. The president has not commented. Now, one thing seems clear, that this back and forth between the president of the United States and a Republican senator seemed to lay bare the long-simmering tensions between the president and the very Congress he will need to get his agenda through Capitol Hill.


JOHNS (voice-over): In a scathing critique, Senator Bob Corker telling "The New York Times" that "President Trump's reckless threats could put the U.S. on the path to World War III. He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation."

Corker saying Mr. Trump is treating the presidency like a reality show, remarking, "I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him."

Corker's blunt criticism coming after the president bashed him in a barrage of tweets Sunday morning, suggesting Corker begged him to endorse him for reelection. Corker flatly denying that account and calling the White House "an adult day care center."

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.

JOHNS: This as the Trump administration effectively derails any potential deal with Democrats to protect DREAMers, unveiling a long list of demands in exchange for a legislative solution, among them curbing funding for sanctuary cities, a crackdown on unaccompanied minors from Central America, and funding the border wall.

Democratic leadership denouncing the White House proposal, saying, "The administration can't be serious about compromise or helping the DREAMers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the DREAMers. This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise."

All this while Vice President Mike Pence is facing criticism for amplifying the president's feud with the NFL. The V.P. walking out of Sunday's Indianapolis Colts game after some players knelt during the national anthem. President Trump quickly taking credit, tweeting that he asked Pence to leave if any players knelt, a protest it seems the White House expected.

The vice president traveled from Las Vegas, where he was paying tribute to the victims of the massacre, to Indianapolis for the game and then back to Los Angeles. CNN estimates the travel cost to be around a quarter of a million dollars. Had Pence skipped the game, it would have been substantially lower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last time he had been to a Colts game is three years ago. So this looks like a P.R. stunt to me. He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again. And so this is what systemic oppression looks like.


JOHNS: An aide to the vice president defended the decision to travel back to Indiana in a statement to CNN last night. The statement reads, "If the vice president did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening, which means flying directly over Indiana. Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks."

Bill and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for setting the table for us.

[07:05:04] We have a lot of discuss with our political panel, so let's bring them in. We have CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish; and CNN political analysts John Avlon and Karoun Demirjian. Great to see all of you.

John Avlon--


CAMEROTA: -- what Senator Bob Corker said on the record to the "New York Times" was extraordinary. Extraordinary. This is a top Republican who is unplugged now and saying things that people have only said off the record or whispered about, you know, in the halls of Congress. And he's now saying them.

AVLON: And in drop-the-Mike terms. This is the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And when he says that the president of the United States is courting World War III and the White House is an adult day care center, and every day is an exercise in containment because the president treats the office like a reality show, you know, that's not a Democrat playing partisan politics, trying to criticize the president. You can't spin it away that way.

This is a Republican saying what many Republican senators saying in private. And that's why it's got the force of revelation and people should pay attention. Because this is what people in Washington in the know are saying every day.

WEIR: Some of the quotes here from this are staggering: "I don't know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does it."

Michael Smerconish, as John was saying, this is not a "never Trumper" cheerleader. This guy was a short-lister for vice president and secretary of state.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Bill, the lawyer in me hears something different. I'm thinking of the 25th Amendment, Section 4, which speaks to a president who's unable to discharge the powers of duties of his office.

Let's just reflect on some of the word choices that Senator Corker has made, because post-Charlottesville, he was questioning the stability of the president. Now he's using the word "reckless." Now he's using the word "chaos." Now he's saying that "He concerns me."

I think he's planting seeds for questioning the fitness, the mental fitness of the president, pursuant to the 25th Amendment, to continue with his responsibilities.

CAMEROTA: You think that Bob Corker is that deliberate, that he is deliberately, Michael, choosing words that are going to lay the groundwork for that?

SMERCONISH: If -- if you were to take a look at the amendment and then say, Alisyn, "OK, how would you make an argument, what sort of things would you say in making a case to fulfill Section 4 of the 25th Amendment?" those words would be at the top of the list.

CAMEROTA: Karoun, your thoughts?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have yet to hear Corker say anything on that topic directly, although who knows? This is a big turnaround with him, for somebody who's had to deal, you know, directly with a lot of this push and pull of the administration and playing a role, especially, in trying to bolster Trump surrogates -- his secretary of state, his defense secretary -- against the onslaught, at various times, from the president.

So certainly, things have been bubbling for a while. And Trump's choice to attack Corker yesterday is what led him decide to just unleash this.

The question is, you know, if it's been this bad, where do you go from here? And why haven't you been letting this out of the bag before? So there's a lot that could be done between -- I mean, look, Michael Smerconish laid out the spectrum, basically. You could get all the way to the 25th Amendment. Or there's a lot more that -- that members of Congress could be doing to block the president, frankly, if they are this frustrated with him.

WEIR: Regardless of whether he's just frustrated, or as you've seen in some chatter, maybe this is Corker 2020. Like he's going to primary the president. But regardless of the -- this president still has to work with this man, who is the head of the Foreign Relations Committee.

AVLON: Yes. But that kind of normal calculus doesn't seem to apply. I mean, he routinely seems to go out of his way to alienate allies, both at home and abroad, frankly.

But it does create a major stumbling block for any legislation. For example, if he wants to kick the Iran deal to Congress, doesn't help to attack, out of nowhere, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But I think Michael makes an important point in terms of where the conversation's going. But I wouldn't pin all your hopes on that. The problem is that this is something that is increasingly being acknowledged. And at the very least, members of Congress, if they want to contain the president's worst impulses, need to have the courage of their convictions and say what they mean, not only when they've decided not to run for reelection.

WEIR: Right.

AVLON: Because Corker and McCain have enormous moral sway, but still, a lot of folks in the Republican Party feel effectively hostages to the base. And even though the president is at 36 percent or thereabouts, the base still loves him. And so many of them are being cowed into silence. That doesn't serve the country.

CAMEROTA: So Michael, let's speak about, practically, what this means for legislation, things that are already on the table.

So the president seems to now be walking back the deal that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi thought they had with DREAMers. But you'll remember, he got so much pushback from conservatives, you know, like Steve -- of Steve Bannon's ilk, that now he's saying, "Oh, no, no, no, the wall -- the funding for the wall actually is part of it." That's not what, you know, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi heard.

[06:10:04] SMERCONISH: Initially, when he reneged on the commitment that President Obama had made to the 7 or 800,000 DREAMers, you'll remember, Alisyn, it was Jeff Sessions that he sent out in front of a podium to make that statement. And very soon thereafter, the president started a succession of tweets where he essentially said he was going to protect the DREAMers. And you wondered how he was going to get it done. Then came the meeting with so-called "Chuck and Nancy." I can't believe the Democrats would ever go along with funding the wall, which I think is very much a part of what's at the heart of this. So it would be natural for him to say "There are a couple of things

that I want in connection with rendering a deal." But the wall will be the breakpoint. That's how I see it.

WEIR: Here's a list of demands which came in overnight: complete construction of the southern border wall. Nonstarter for Democrats, obviously. Crackdown on sanctuary cities. Target visa overstays. Going to expand criteria to expedite renewal [SIC].

But this is where it starts to sting. Limited family-based green cards to spouses and minority children, making it harder for those who are here legally to bring their family members over. Points of entry system for green cards. Tighten asylum.

So this is a kitchen-sink wish list tied to the DREAMer thing. Karoun, what are your thoughts on this?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, we've seen a lot of hints that some of these items are going to be on there before. There was a lot of flurry about the points-based system when they touted that out.

But I mean, we're focusing on what Democrats aren't going to like. There's Republicans that aren't going to like aspects of this deal either. There's Republicans that really don't like the idea of Trump's wall. You saw a whole bunch of them, including conservative ones, try to trot out an alternate combination strategy for border security over the summer, because they were trying to get ahead of the president on this. Because they know, one, it's a live wire and, two, they just don't think it's very practical.

So you've had -- what you've got out here right now is not really a deal so much as a reiteration of a lot of the promises the president has made as a candidate since he took office that are playing more to the base. And this is not something that's going to get through with full Republican support, not even to go into the category of Democrats.

AVLON: Of course not. But Bill, I think you said the right words, which is wish list. You know, there's a real case obviously. There are people in the Republican Party and in the White House who are horrified that Trump would try to make a deal with Chuck and Nancy over this issue, right? So they put forward things that could be poison pills, and they do it intentionally, because they're trying to derail the president's outreach efforts.

At the same, time, this is a wish list. This is not a list of literal demands. And so there's going to be a lot of kabuki around what's possible and what's not. Is any legislative hill pretty to climb? Absolutely. But don't take this as gospel. Take it as poison pills. Take it as a negotiating stance, because it's not necessarily where it's going to end up.

CAMEROTA: So Michael, I mean, it sounds like, as of this morning, you know, President Trump is kind of in a spat with Secretary of State Tillerson, with leading Republican Bob Corker, with Chuck and Nancy.


CAMEROTA: The NFL. Who do we think are his allies?

SMERCONISH: It's another Monday at the office, right? The Oval Office.

I think these subjects are all related, and the way you just explained them is perfect for a point I wanted to make, which is you can't be fighting with Bob Corker at the same time you're trying to cut a deal relative to the DREAMers, and trying to get tax relief done, and trying to do something relative to the Iranian deal.

I mean, I -- I have continually underestimated, as you well know, Alisyn, his political skills in the past. So I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and to say what could be the grand plan as to how he puts these pieces together? I just don't see it. I mean, I just don't see how this is the art of the deal.

CAMEROTA: I'm too polite to bring that up again, Michael Smerconish, to mention the places where you have had, perhaps, some misconceptions on things. But thank you, panel, very much.

AVLON: There must be a pony here somewhere, people.

CAMEROTA: John, Karoun, Michael, thank you.

So will American taxpayers get stuck with the tab for Mike Pence's walkout of an NFL game? Our political panel's going to tackle all that, next.


[06:17:44] WEIR: Vice President Mike Pence is standing by the president's side in his ongoing battle with NFL players. Several players on the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the national anthem before their game with the Colts on Sunday. And Vice President Mike Pence announced on Twitter he had walked out of the game about eight minutes later, saying he didn't want to dignify the demonstration.

But since the president seems to have sent him there, since he held the pool or, the press pool in their cars before exiting that game, some lawmakers--

CAMEROTA: He said he wouldn't be there a long time. Right?

WEIR: Yes. "You guys wait in the car. I'm going to run in and make this statement and come back out."

And then now, so folks on the other side wondering if this is just an expensive political stunt. Will taxpayers have to pick up the tab?

Let's bring back our panel: CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish; CNN political analysts John Avlon, Karoun Demirjian.

John, this was going away. This whole spat over the anthem had seemed to have been dying down as it does from week to week, the number of players kneeling. But this seems like a deliberate effort to pour gasoline back on this fire.

AVLON: These culture-war fights are the ones the White House wants to have, the ones Trump feels most politically strong about instinctively. And he considers these distractions and deflections an asset, whatever the polling says.

What's different is deploying a sitting vice president to go halfway home to his first Colts game in three years, to make a statement where, as you say, the press is told to stay: "Stay in the cars, guys. This is going to be a quick hit," at taxpayer expense. That's tough to sustain. Whatever -- whatever spin you put forward, particularly Trump playing the paternal, like, "I told him to walk out of there" tweet and Pence dutifully sort of, you know the greatest actor in America--

WEIRD: Remember when we just sent vice presidents to state funerals?

AVLON: Right. You know, that at least had the veneer of a purpose. This is simply to inflame a culture war at taxpayer expense.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Karoun, it wasn't a surprise, basically, that the 49ers were going to do that. They've been doing this since Colin Kaepernick started. So what are we to make of what the vice president did?

DEMIRJIAN: I mean, it doesn't seem like it's an unintentional gut reaction, given all of the parameters and elements of what you just described going into this, with the press staying in the car.

But what we saw this weekend, weirdly, was a little bit of a microcosm of the summer when this all started. I mean, the night before, you have Richard Spencer going back to Charlottesville, another march there. That doesn't inspire the same outrage as the football players taking a knee, which again, is something that started over the summer.

Granted, it's not, you know, directly the same thing. That started because of police brutality. But it's, generally speaking, about the same issue again that started over the summer that we saw, apparently, never got fully resolved, at least as far as the White House goes. And even though there was this backlash from the country, does not seem to have changed their approach to these two elements that were so controversial, so critical for how they're being judged publicly over the last few months.

So is this the last time we'll see Pence actually physically go to a football game? Maybe if the backlash is strong enough for the price tag. Because remember, we just came off the Tom Price thing, too, about flights and the cost of those.

But is it the last we're going to hear from the White House generally about the NFL's protest that's expanding to other sports, as well? It doesn't seem so. It seems like this is something they want to perpetuate, and we're only at the start of the season. So it could go for quite a while. CAMEROTA: We do have -- we can show the price tag for people, just --

Michael, to show everybody. So he flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis. OK, so that's a $100 -- sorry, $100,000 flight. Then Indianapolis to Los Angeles is a $142,000 flight. The estimated total, almost a quarter million dollars. Obviously, just flying right from Vegas to Los Angeles is a fraction of that.

WEIR: The statement for the vice president says, if the vice president did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening, which means flying over Indiana. Instead he made a shorter trip to Indiana.

CAMEROTA: But that doesn't make sense. Because then he flew to Los Angeles.

WEIR: Exactly. Yes.

But Michael, whether or not we get hung up on the price tag for taxpayers and in the wake of the Tom Price kerfuffle there, is picking a fight with the NFL and hoping that their popularity goes down as some sort of a result of this a smart political move?

SMERCONISH: Yes. The short answer is yes. I think this is -- I think this is a winning issue for the White House. The polling data that I've seen suggests that a majority of Americans agree with the president and the vice president that there should not be kneeling during the anthem.

Although the same polling has shown that folks did not like when the president referred to Colin Kaepernick indirectly as an S.O.B.

But I think John Avlon is right. These sort of -- look, the White House has never shown in 10 months a desire to build bridges and expand the base. If we've seen one thing consistently, it has been reinforcing the viewpoints of those who got them where they are. And this is a great issue on that score.

And so frankly, I'll bet the president is hoping that the kneeling continues for a couple more weeks into the season. And that's why he sent Vice President Pence where he did.

CAMEROTA: OK, John Avlon, North Korea. The president is saying cryptic but what sounds like ominous things. He is saying, "Well, we'll have to see what happens."

WEIR: Only one thing will work.

CAMEROTA: Only one thing will work. And let me put this up for people. "Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years. Agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn't worked. Agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!" Exclamation point.

When pressed, "What is that one thing, Mr. President?" by reporters, he said "Stay tuned. We'll see." AVLON: "We'll see." Well, it's important to set up the cliffhanger

before you threaten nuclear war. That actually keeps people's attention, especially when you're competing with the NFL for the president's attention, apparently.

Look, this is incredibly serious to have a president do this. You can criticize American policy with North Korea in previous administrations. You can say it hasn't worked because they've continued to make progress. That's a perfectly rational thing to say.

It's the constant saber rattling we're seeing from this president which seems to threaten military action in which there are no good options in North Korea. So this is -- this is not simply reality TV stuff. And this is exactly what Bob Corker is talking about when he says that he seems to be treating the office as reality TV and threatening World War III.

WEIR: And Michael, is anyone still clinging to the hope that he's somehow playing good cop, bad cop; Nixon/Kissinger? That the president is saying these crazy threats, and then back channel, Rex Tillerson is saying, "Trust me. Trust me, don't listen to him." What do you think?

SMERCONISH: I'm clinging to the hope that this is all based on psychological profiles that have been developed at the CIA as to how you most effectively deal -- you're laughing, but--

AVLON: No, I love it. I hope you're right, Michael.

SMERCONISH: I'd like to hope that's the case. No, no, but instead, it sounds like two 14-year-olds ranking one another on a playground in Queens.

WEIR: Exactly.

SMERCONISH: So it seems like it's a spit-balling kind of a thing. But you know, you'd hope there's some deliberation and thought and social science that has gone into this, given the stakes.

WEIR: But unlike the 14-year-olds, both of these guys have nukes. So Michael--


WEIR: -- Karoun, John, we'll leave it on that somber note. Thanks for being with us all this morning.

[06:20:00] Coming up, the remnants of Nate dumping rain in the northeast today after whipping up that storm surge on the Gulf Coast. We'll have the very latest forecast. Could have been a lot worse. But still uncomfortable times after Nate. We have it next.


[06:29:19] CAMEROTA: The remnants of Hurricane Nate bringing heavy rain to the Northeast today. The storm surge left parts of the Gulf Coast, even some casinos in Mississippi under water.

CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, has our forecast. How's it looking, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, OK today. We had about six feet of surge there in Biloxi and Gulfport all the way back over to almost to Mobile. The rain now is up into New York state. We are going to slow down airports today with all this rainfall.

Now, by this afternoon and this evening, the storms are gone, they're long gone, back through New England and even offshore.

The heavy rainfall, though, could still put down two to three inches of rain. We had some spots with six inches of rainfall yesterday. There's where Nate did, came right across Plaquemines Parish right through Biloxi, and now it's up here. Twenty-eight mile-per-hour winds. And as it moved to the north, that was the fastest moving hurricane ever.

Seventeen tornados yesterday actually did more damage than the storm surge did own here in Biloxi. It was a rough-and-tumble day there in the Carolinas.