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White House Official: Trump is 'Not Finished with Corker'; At Least 10 Dead in California Wildfires; Trump's First Wife Calls Herself 'First Lady'. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's said we're going to be OK, provisionally, as long as the adults are still there. That's extraordinary.
[05:59:41] STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS: McConnell and Corker and the entire establishment globalist clique have to go.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We could be headed towards World War III.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That should be a full stop, all traffic comes to a halt moment. This is a cry for help for the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have significant policy agenda problems, and these feuds don't help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over 14 major fires burning across eight counties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At one point, the fire gusting to 40 to 50 miles per hour.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be working very closely with Governor Brown to see you through these challenging times.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So the wildfires are terrible. I was just in Napa this past weekend. It's amazing how fast this all has happened.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I was a little surprised we haven't headed out there yet. I mean, they have residences on three sides, what they're battling right now. It's very difficult. The firefighters are so stretched that they're not able to defend some of the structures. You'll see this morning when you look online of a Hilton Hotel, I believe, burning.
They couldn't put it out. They're just stretched too thin. It's moving too fast. That situation may get worse before it gets better.
CAMEROTA: OK. So we'll get to all of that over these next three hours.
CUOMO: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, October 10, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.
Is there a civil war brewing inside the GOP? This battle between President Trump and Senator Bob Corker is forcing Republicans to choose sides, and the silence is deafening when it comes to defending the president. White House official tells CNN the president is not finished with Corker.
We are waiting to hear, for the first time, since Corker dropped this verbal hammer on the president's fitness for office. What will the president say to the nation about his own fitness? Will he talk about it at all?
A new report in "The Washington Post" today likens President Trump to a pressure cooker. The president appears frustrated with his top brass, angered by criticism of his hurricane response and is now jeopardizing his agenda by torching alliances.
CAMEROTA: This as the Trump administration continues to dismantle Obama's EPA policies. President Trump plans to repeal protections against greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
And a bizarre public feud between the first lady and the president's first wife. Melania Trump firing back at Ivana Trump after Ivana called herself the first lady.
We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House. What's the latest there, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The president and his top allies continue to try to project political strength through the controversy involving Senator Bob Corker, even though the president's often confrontational relationship with lawmakers and his low approval ratings have been cited as reasons why he's had a difficult time getting his legislative agenda through Capitol Hill.
Nonetheless, the suggestion this morning from the White House is that the president will continue with past practice.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump is not finished with Senator Corker, according to a White House official. After the high-ranking member of Mr. Trump's own party delivered this scathing rebuke of the commander in chief.
CORKER: Sometimes I feel like he's on a reality show of some kind, you know, when he's talking about these big foreign policy issues. He doesn't realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments he's making.
JOHNS: Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was fired in August, lashing out at Bob Corker last night.
BANNON: If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.
JOHNS: Signaling he is ramping up his efforts to unseat establishment Republicans in next year's primaries.
BANNON: McConnell and Corker and the entire clique, establishment globalist clique on Capitol Hill, have to go. There's a coalition coming together that's going to challenge every Republican incumbent except for Ted Cruz.
JOHNS: A source tells CNN that the president is frustrated over his stalled agenda. Negative media coverage of the federal response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and the defeat of the Senate candidate. He endorsed Alabama last month. Most Republicans aren't taking sides in this bitter feud between Trump and Corker, but nearly a dozen aides and advisers tell CNN that Corker is saying what many believe privately.
CORKER: I don't think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he's addressing. And so, yes, I mean, that's concerning to me.
JOHNS: Vice President Pence and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway coming to the president's defense on Monday, attempting to flip the script on Corker.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: World leaders see that and find tweets like this to be incredibly irresponsible.
JOHNS: But not everyone in the president's inner circle thinks the public feud is good for Trump. Trump needs Corker's vote to get legislation passed. And the president has already alienated another top Senate Republican, John McCain.
[06:05:04] JOHNS: The secretary of state and the secretary of defense are expected to come here to the White House today to have lunch with the president. It comes during a week when the president is expected to announce he will decertify the Iran nuclear deal and send it to Capitol Hill.
Chris and Alisyn, back to you.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Joe.
CUOMO: All right. Let's bring in the political panel: CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza; and associate editor of RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard.
A.B., how real is the infighting? Is this just about the president once again getting sideways with someone in Washington, D.C.? Or is this something larger? A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Oh, it's
definitely larger. Because we're watching what happened in the Alabama Senate primary runoff where the sitting senator, Luther Strange, who the establishment spent millions of dollars backing and actually secured a rally from President Trump on his behalf, and he ended up losing to the Steve Bannon insurgent candidate, who is going to be a real problem for any Republican incumbent running in 2018, Chris.
Everybody will ask about the person who's about to become the senator from Alabama, Roy Moore, and his divisive conspiracy theorists and all the things he's said and done.
And so you have this real opened-up battle now. It's not just Corker making comments about President Trump and his conduct. This is about Steve Bannon and an insurgent populist, nationalist, whatever you want to call them wing, trying to break up the establishment, and the establishment fighting to hold on.
CAMEROTA: So Chris Cillizza, how do you see it? Because we haven't seen the flood gates open. It wasn't like Senator Corker's comments finally publicly, so publicly on the record with "The New York Times," that that kind of allowed everybody to begin speaking their mind.
I mean, we had yesterday Congressman Sean Duffy on our program who seemed to be firmly in the president's camp. He was still supporting the president over Senator Corker.
We have Senator Lindsey Graham saying that the president played a great golf game yesterday.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Seventy-three.
CAMEROTA: Right. During bad weather conditions. President Trump shot a 73 in windy and wet conditions. So, how do you think it's going in the halls of congress?
CILLIZZA: One critical difference between Bob Corker and all those other names you mentioned. He's retiring. That is not a coincidence that he is now willing to speak out.
You look at polling, Donald Trump is not popular. Well under 50 percent. Some polling under 40 percent in terms of approval. But where is he still popular? The Republican base. The voters who come out and vote in midterm primaries.
So, these senators are afraid of him. I mean, there's no -- there is no question. Bob Corker said this in the interview you played with "New York Times," Jonathan Martin. He said that most of his colleagues understand you're dealing with someone -- his word was volatile, who needs to be managed. Why haven't we heard from more of them? Because they are afraid of what the consequences are of speaking out against Donald Trump. That the Roy Moores of the world will come out of the woodwork and challenge them. And then you have Steve Bannon further making them anxious, because you have Steve Bannon out there, actively recruiting in place like Wyoming.
John Barrasso is not anyone's idea of a moderate senator but is being recruited against, because he's an establishment guy. He's a member of the leadership. Same thing in Mississippi with Roger Wicker. These are not moderates. These are establishment folks who, if you want to be an outsider and an insurgent, that's the way you run against them.
So I think there's a lot of fear for their own political lives that's keeping them relatively quiet.
CUOMO: Isn't the stuff that Bannon is doing good for the president? Maybe that's the one thing I don't get on that. I get what Corker is saying is damaging to the president. I get that. Other senators not jumping up to defend the president is not helpful.
But what Bannon is doing and primarying all these things, he says he's doing it to help the president, that these people will be more pro- Trump than the people who are there right now. So that's -- do you see that as bad for the president, all these guys getting primaried?
STODDARD: Well, look, I mean, when was the -- how many times have we now read a story in "The Washington Post" or "New York Times" that says that the president is increasingly isolated in the nation's capital, burning alliances and rupturing coalitions and all this stuff and doing it in his own way.
It's not really going so well. If we thought that President Trump was trying to build a sturdy and reliable governing coalition, you know, I think we'd see the fruits of that by now.
Sure, you can come in and burn it down and try to get rid of every establishment person in the house and the Senate in your own party, but it's not really going to bode well for actual governing. So it's a 30 -- it's a 38 percent/62 percent strategy. And if Bannon is successful, it will still leave establishment Republicans there, warring with the new destructors and disrupters.
[06:10:18] I don't know that it's a real -- I mean, if he had 12 terms and he said, "By the end of it I'm going to have everyone in the House and Senate look like Roy Moore and Steve Bannon," that would be fine. But in the near term, how is he going to change the health care for people who are out there paying the highest premiums and deductibles that they've ever imagined, struggling through illnesses without enough coverage and waiting for a tax cut? I don't know that it's a really good governing strategy in the four years he has or try to win a second term.
CAMEROTA: Chris, "The Washington Post" has a story this morning, the headline of which is that it's turning into a pressure cooker, the president is, in the White House. I'll read a portion of it: "One Trump confidante likening the president to a whistling teapot, saying that when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode. I think we are in pressure cooker territory."
Not sure what that will look like, but it may not... CILLIZZA: How can that be different than what we've been in? But
yes. Look, I think he is someone -- and I think the Corker attacks over the weekend, if you didn't think this already, I don't see how you can't be convinced of that.
I believe very strongly he is someone who the strategy is that there really isn't a strategy. The Corker attack makes no sense for the point that A.B. talked about. He says, "Yes, it may well be good for his base. It may well help down the line."
But in the near term, which is trying to accomplish things, trying to say to the people who elected him, "I changed Washington. I did this. I did that. It doesn't make any sense." I really do, I've written this -- I really do think you're playing with someone who's playing zero-dimensional chess. Right?
We always thought when he got elected in 2016 that he was playing a game at a level that we couldn't comprehend. And that's how -- that's how this all happened. It's turned out I don't think there's any evidence to suggest he is -- that there isn't a huge blueprint in the Oval Office that he's operating against. That he just says and does things, sees what people react, and then he reacts to the reaction.
That's a tactic at best, not a strategy. I think it's why you've seen the governance piece really, really struggling and why he keeps wanting to get back to the campaign. In that piece, Alisyn, there's a great paragraph in there that said when he went to North Carolina to do a fund-raiser over the weekend, he really wanted to do a campaign rally, as well. His aides talked him out of it. Because he wants to hear the cheering of the crowds. It's that simple.
CUOMO: And it seems like that's got to be what's driving this NFL stuff. I mean, A.B., what was your take on saying the vice president's in a game and having him leave early. You know, we were running around the country last week.
Nobody was talking about the NFL, because they're dealing with real need, you know, whether it's Puerto Rico, or Las Vegas, you know, or even in Washington, D.C., with that Pelosi town hall. Nobody cared about the NFL. But they sent Pence out. He left. What's the net plus/minus on that?
STODDARD: I think it boomeranged in a way, Chris, that they really couldn't have anticipated, and that is -- using the taxpayer dollars for that kind of divisive move when Vice President Pence could have tweeted about that. He could have been at a supply drive for victims of a hurricane in Puerto Rico, where they still have hospitals that are barely functioning, and people without water and electricity.
This is really -- we're going to have our own refugee crisis. They're going to all be leaving that island, trying to come to the homeland, because they are without basic needs. This is absolutely the most divisive, irresponsible move.
And I think the people -- you know, I understand why the president first did it. He actually -- two Saturdays ago, he threatened nuclear war over Twitter. And I believe that H.R. McMaster or General Kelly came in and told him that was unwise.
And the next morning he started a fight with the NFL that started -- lasted for five days. He feels the base loves it. But it's not governing or problem solving. Vice President Pence, it's interesting he was willing to put himself into that trap, but I really think it backfired.
CUOMO: Division is contagious. And, you know, he's been using it as a wedge. Now it's coming back at him with his own, inside the party. We'll see how he deals with it this time.
All right, A.B., Chris. Stick around. We have more questions for you.
But first, we get to this breaking news. Because at least ten people are dead in wildfires that are burning out of control in Northern California. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing these raging fires, and CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in hard-hit Santa Rosa, California.
What's it like, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is a concerning statistic overnight where the Sonoma County sheriff's office had 100 calls for people who may be missing. So they are afraid of the death toll in this fire is going to go up. Well, they show you, Alisyn, this is what is left of a Hilton resort in Sonoma. It was on a hillside.
[06:15:00] The entire hotel, from all we can tell, went up. This is right smack in the middle of wine country here. Santa Rosa hit very, very hard. Some 1,600 structures destroyed in this area. We have a before and after of Coffee Park. It's a neighborhood here in Santa Rosa. And you can see what a lovely neighborhood it was before.
And then this fast-moving wildfire, fueled by wind, went right through it and completely devastated the area.
So far in California, 120,000 acres are burning. In Anaheim, south of Los Angeles, several hundred miles from here to the south, there's a fire burning, 5,000 acres plus. It looked like hell on earth as wind was blowing that fire up the neighborhoods there. Several homes went up in flames. Thousands more are now threatened.
The only good news, if there is good news -- because lots and lots of firefighters, tens of thousands of firefighters trying to get ahold of these fires across the state, is that the wind has died down. It was blowing about 50 miles per hour this time last night. That was driving the fire. The humidity is also expected to go up -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Miguel. Listen. Be careful out there. We see you've got the mask on. You know, you don't feel it in the moment. But you keep inhaling that smoke, it's going to shorten your day. So be safe, take care of the crew and keep us up-to-date on what's going on, my friend.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look at how close the flames are to him right behind there.
CUOMO: Right. And that's backfire. You know what I mean? They light a fire behind the line of where it's going so the fire can only advance so much. But, you know, it's hard to cover those things. It's hard to fight them as firefighters. And they are so weather dependent. So we're going to keep an eye on that situation. Because even though it's several hundred miles away from the big population center, that can really change in about 36 hours. So we'll stay on that.
Another big story this morning, of political intrigue. President Trump's first wife, Ivana, calls herself the first lady, kind of. But it was not that subtle to Melania Trump, who fired back. And now we've got ourselves a situation. The family feud when we come back.
[06:20:51] CAMEROTA: First lady Melania Trump firing back at President Trump's first wife, Ivana, for calling herself the first lady. Here's what Ivana said yesterday while promoting her new book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANA TRUMP, EX-WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: I have the direct number to White House, but I don't really want to call him there, because Melania is there. And I don't want to cause any kind of travesty or something like that, because I'm basically first Trump wife. OK? I'm first lady, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let's bring back Chris Cillizza and A.B. Stoddard and let them handle this.
Here's how -- A.B., before I get to you, here's how a first lady spokesperson responded to that: "Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the president. She loves living in Washington, D.C., and is honored by her role as first lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books. There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex. This is unfortunately, only attention-seeking and self-serving noise."
CUOMO: And the White House bashing the mother of his kids, of three of his kids, which was just a beautiful dynamic there, A.B. Stoddard. What's your take?
STODDARD: Well, in your words, Chris, we've got a situation here.
I mean, you know, I really -- if I were Melania, I think it would be better if she didn't say anything. But at the same time, you're right. She's sticking up for herself. But it looks like she's bashing the first wife. The first wife overstepped her bounds and was being a little too provocative and attention-seeking, I think, in her comments. It sounded like she was having fun and joking. But it's all around something I'd like to sort of unsee and unknow. CUOMO: But why? Why, Cillizza? Why? Like, we're having it both
ways, right? We ramped up what Ivana said as if she was actually making a play for power. Melania took the bait.
CAMEROTA: No, I think she was joking. I think...
CUOMO: Of course she was joking. Of course she was joking.
CAMEROTA: But I think that A.B. is right, that she was being provocative.
STODDARD: Jealousy is a tough word.
CAMEROTA: As one does, to sell books. How do you see it, Chris.
CUOMO: But the media -- the media dangled this out there. Melania and the White House took the bait. Now, in truth, we've seen this happen once before during the conventions.
I don't know that Melania Trump has anything to do with this. I don't know that she even liked this strategy, but it was done in her name by the White House. And now it's a situation.
Who would respond to something like this? Why are they doing it?
CILLIZZA: I mean, who -- who would respond to every negative little thing said about him by every person? Donald Trump. I mean, like, it's not terribly surprising to me, honestly, because this is someone who does not let slights or even -- I mean, it's clearly a joke, right? I mean, yes, she's trying to get some headlines, but I'm not even sure that she was trying to be terribly provocative.
CUOMO: No. I don't think so.
CILLIZZA: Right. I just think she was talking. Right? "I'm the first lady." She means she's the first wife.
CUOMO: First wife, first lady. I get it.
CILLIZZA: That Melania responded, I mean, I -- I think what you're dealing with, with the Trumps, is sort of the political equivalent of our Kardashian culture. They like drama. Drama, drama, drama all the time. This one against that one, drives up ratings. Keeps people watching.
I mean, you know, I don't know what -- any other way to analyze it. Because there's -- it makes no sense for Melania to take this seriously, to see it as attention seeking. I mean, I'm not sure that's what this was.
CUOMO: We probably should be slow to put it on her, by the way. My gut is that this is not something that Melania Trump would have motivated, you know, and it's not her saying it. It's the White House on her behalf. Kind of smacks familiar of the box they put her in during the convention. CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, the expert on this, of course, is Andy Cohen, who runs the "Real Housewives" franchise. So he was weighing in on this being a tad tawdry.
But let's move onto something that is serious, A.B., and that is Harvey Weinstein has been ousted after a series of really disgusting sexual harassment and just sexual -- I mean, it's beyond sexual harassment, some of the things that he is accused of. But do you think that there is a double standard in terms of Democrats not coming out and condemning this? In fact, Hillary Clinton gave a 90-minute speech last night in California, didn't mention it.
[06:25:12] STODDARD: Absolutely, there's a double standard. Whether Hillary Clinton weighed in on Roger Ailes or anyone else, she is a public person. She has benefited from his support in the past. She needs to talk about whether, you know, corporate culture permits this kind of complicity where they cover up for each other. Let alone how the women have been treated and what they suffered.
This is not one incident. It went on for decades. And I think it's time for her to man up and President Obama, as well. And people who have really enjoyed his support through the years.
CUOMO: That's -- hold on a second. Hold on. Just in terms of keeping this fair, we just -- as you were talking, A.B., we just had a picture of Harvey Weinstein with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. He is a huge Democrat. OK? This is not about...
CAMEROTA: He's given millions to Democrats.
CILLIZZA: He has held -- he has held fund-raisers. He held multiple fund-raisers for Barack Obama's campaign, not just donating money but raising money. He helped fundraise for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Yes, he is a person who gets his photograph made, because he is famous with other famous people including, yes, Donald Trump, yes, Ivanka Trump, yes, Jared Kushner. Thank you, my Twitter followers, for making sure to send me the picture of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein 10 million times.
But the broader point is this guy is a Democrat.
CILLIZZA: He is a very high-profile Democrat, fund-raiser and bundler of money. And I just think it's amazing that you don't see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who frankly are still the two highest profile Democrats in the country not say, "This is unacceptable behavior."
CAMEROTA: And why is that? Why is that? Because it's not the easiest thing to say, to come out and condemn this? Why are they not doing this?
CILLIZZA: I don't know. The cynic's take would be situational ethics. Which is it's easy to condemn people you're not friends with. It's harder to condemn people you are friends with.
CUOMO: Right. But there is no situational -- you know -- I mean, that's a phrase but there is no thing such as situational ethics.
CILLIZZA: No. Well, there shouldn't be.
CUOMO: If you took his money, there should be a watch. What do you do with Weinstein's money?
CILLIZZA: Of course.
CUOMO: Do you give it back? When do you give it back?
CAMEROTA: Well, all sorts of people are giving it to charity. I mean, that sounds like the right answer. But we haven't that yet from...
CUOMO: Right. But all sorts but not that many.
CAMEROTA: ... a lot of high-profile...
CILLIZZA: Again, Alisyn, it's important -- I think it's important to remember, it's good if Dick Blumenthal from Connecticut gives back the $5,500 or whatever that Harvey Weinstein gave him.
But you're talking Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the three biggest names in Democratic politics for the last 15 years, 20 years, not saying anything about -- forget money, and donations and bundling, all that stuff. But not saying anything about this story, which is, you know, inarguably one of the five biggest stories in the country. You could argue it's the biggest. But certainly one of the bigger stories in the country. Nothing? Not a statement, not one sentence saying, "I condemn this behavior"? I mean, of course they do. But the point is when you're a public figure, you need to be on record.
CUOMO: Especially if you want moral high ground. I mean, that's been such a big pushback against the president of the United States. You've got to own it, and you have to do it when it's not convenient as well as when it is, playing to advantage.
CAMEROTA: A.B. Stoddard, Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.
So the tragedy on the campus of Texas Tech. A university police officer has been fatally shot. The suspect a 19-year-old student. We have all the late breaking details for you on this, next.