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White House Official: Trump is 'Not Finished with Corker'; Melanie & Ivana Trump Spar Over 'First Lady' Title; At Least 10 Dead in California Wildfires. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's probably not unusual for presidents members of Congress to not get along, but boy, it is unusual for it to be playing out in public.
[07:00:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need a victory. What the president has done is he's imperiled this prospect.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE (via phone): I don't think we appreciate when the president of the United States say the things that he does, the impact that it has around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shocking to hear him say this out loud. This is not somebody who was an anti-Trump person.
STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS: If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over 1,500 homes and commercial facilities have been destroyed.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The federal government stands ready to provide any and all assistance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devastation as far as the eye can see. The fire activity is outpacing any resource they can throw at it.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We will obviously have much more on the wildfires throughout the program, since those are continuing at this hour, and firefighters are battling them.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
The feud between President Trump and Senator Bob Corker is escalating. And Senate Republicans, for the most part, stay silent. A White House official tells CNN that the president is not finished with Corker.
Meanwhile, we're hearing Senator Corker tell a "New York Times" reporter that the president's volatility is, quote, "alarming," he's questioning the president's fitness to hold office. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In a new interview with "Forbes," President
Trump taking a swipe at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson allegedly called the president a moron. The president weighing in, saying they may have to compare I.Q. tests.
The two men are set to have lunch together in just a few hours. That should be interesting.
We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
The president and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker have remained quiet since the latest dust-up over the weekend in their very public feud. But sources have told CNN that is not likely to last, despite the fact that the administration can't afford to lose Republican votes on Capitol Hill if it expects to pass any major legislation this year.
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 (via phone): 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. And, you know, he doesn't realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.
JOHNS: Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was fired in August, lashing out at 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 in 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. I 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.
JOHNS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to come to the White House for lunch with the president today not long after reports that Tillerson referred to the president as, quote, "a moron" in a newly-published article in "Forbes" magazine, in an interview, in fact. The president's counterpunch is, quote, "I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll just have to compare I.Q. tests, and I can tell you who is going to win" -- Chris and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for that development. Let's bring in our panel to discuss it.
We have CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza; and CNN political analyst David Gregory. David, let's start with you. Since that's the development, this new "Forbes" magazine interview with President Trump that's just been published.
[07:05:05] So he's commenting, for the first time, really, on his real feelings about what Rex Tillerson reportedly said. Though of course, a State Department spokesperson said that Rex Tillerson never called the president a moron.
So -- but you heard what Joe just reported there, that the president said, "I think it's fake news but if he did, I guess we'll compare I.Q. tests, and I can tell you who is going to win."
CUOMO: And to remind, when Tillerson was asked about this, he wouldn't comment. He said, "I'm not going to comment on this petty stuff." He did not say he didn't say it.
CAMEROTA: There you go. So I guess, I mean, the real question is, is Rex Tillerson going to be in this position a month from now?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I can tell you, the parent/teacher conferences for these two individuals is going to be pretty tough.
CAMEROTA: Interesting. GREGORY: Because it is like homeroom, what we're seeing from the top
levels of our government, and it's embarrassing. I think what this shows to me is that, whatever is going on, we're just learning the kind of -- the tip of it.
And that relationship has most likely been compromised to a deeper degree, which I think raises the real possibility that Tillerson will not be long for his position, which only hurts the administration to have more volatility and more people leaving at such a difficult time.
I think, you know, whether it's Rex Tillerson, whether it's Corker, it's striking to me that the president doesn't want to resolve these things internally at all. There's always going to be leaks. Things are going to spill out. But he's willing to go to open warfare with anybody, because he thinks, ultimately, he'll win by doing so and isn't worried about any of those consequences.
CUOMO: So, Cillizza, we have this attack from Bob Corker, which goes to the fitness of the president to serve, essentially. And there is no wave of support for the president that comes from the ranks of government. Yes, we had Congressman Sean Duffy on yesterday.
But I've got to tell you, it just wasn't a very cogent or compelling case the he made. He just felt that the president is doing a good job in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. It's not the strongest kind of rebuttal. Where are the defenders?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: I think you have a handful still, Chris, few, very few in the Senate. A handful of the largely New York members in the House, and very hardliners who were with Trump from the beginning in the House. But there aren't that many.
I think what you're essentially seeing here is there's not many defenders of Trump, and there's actually very few attackers of him either among the ranks of elected officials. We highlight Bob Corker. We highlight Jeff Flake.
But let's remember, there are 242, I think, House Republicans, and there are 52 Republican senators. So you've got almost 300 people who could offer a critique or a criticism. They're not doing that either. The reason is they're hoping that this all goes away.
This is a putting your head in the sand sort of move. They don't want to talk about Donald Trump in any way, shape or form, because they view it as a no-win. Their honest feelings about him, my guess for 85 to 90 percent of the members of Congress, is very similar to Corker. They know that voicing that publicly, if you are not like Bob Corker, and planning on retiring next year, has consequences. Because Donald Trump's base is activated, is big enough to make a difference in a Republican primary, and is now being cultivated in terms of trying to find candidates to appeal to those people by Steve Bannon.
So there are political consequences to speaking, but their -- so unless they lied about their feelings about Trump, I think all you can see is, well, look, the media is out to get him. There's really not a lot to point to that suggests he's doing a good job by any historical standard.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's -- I mean, look, he's -- again, in this new "Forbes" interview, he talks about what he thinks has been his highlights. I'll just read you some of that. I guess he was asked if he was having fun. And he says, "I am having fun." But I'm enjoying it. We're accomplishing a lot. Your stock market is at an all-time high. Your jobs, your unemployment, is at the lowest point in almost 17 years. We have fantastic numbers coming out.
And that is sort of what Sean Duffy, Congressman of Wisconsin, said yesterday, as well. So, David where does that leave the president? What does this feud with Bob Corker and everything that Chris Cillizza just outlined, what does that mean for legislation and his agenda?
GREGORY: Well, I think those are separate questions. I mean, what's happening with the economy, what's happening in the stock market is creating an exuberance not everybody understands as the economists put it this past week. It's a bull market for everything, which seems to defy some concerns about asset values being too high.
But there's no question that the president can run with it politically. That that's a separate matter from getting key legislation, whether it's trying to revive some kind of health care repeal, getting a tax cut or tax reform through. It seems difficult at this point. That's where he's had an agenda that seems to be stalling. But you know, the EPA changed today. It's actually a big deal for his base.
[07:10:05] That's something that he promised that he would do. And that does a lot to keep the base together. So does attacking Bob Corker when he's attacked. He counterpunches, and he says, you know, these are the elites of the party that I was taking on all along.
CUOMO: Right. But so you have the third reason that they voted for him, which is, you know, go after these guys. Be disruptive.
You have the second reason that they voted for him, which is get rid of these regulations, get government back. Help us with coal. That was a very small group of voters that were sensitive to that. But that's what the EPA does. But then there was the first reason, Chris.
And I think you have to give voice to what he tapped into in terms of economic insecurity and being out. And for him to point to the stock market is disingenuous. Because he spent years saying the stock market doesn't help those kinds of people. He said for years, and certainly during the campaign, wages are what matter. Don't show me the unemployment number. That's a fake number.
He said it. He's now hanging his hat on the same number. What is he going to do for wages? That's what matters for people. That's a criticism of the tax plan Why aren't you going after payroll taxes if you want to help the working class? How does he keep that momentum, keep that connection if he doesn't deliver?
CILLIZZA: Well, he thinks he can sell his way to anything. And I think that's what he thinks he's doing right now. Which is if you sell to everyone, the stock market is in record territory, that that will trickle down; people will be more optimistic. They'll spend money. Companies will reinvest in the United States. I am not sure about that.
The other thing I would point out is that the stock market is doing quite well right now. Everyone you talk to, who knows why says it's because there is an expectation that tax cuts are coming. Maybe.
But, you know, the legislative record is not great for Donald Trump, particularly on health care. And I'm not sure he's alienated or attacked at least, by my count, 15 Republican senators. There's only 52 of them. He can only lose 2.
So I'm not sold on the idea that tax reform, tax cuts is a definite. Might be -- might happen. Not a definite. And if it doesn't happen, Chris, that same stock market that he's touting, I think, will begin to weaken. And then what do you hang your hat on?
Because as you point out, wages -- and again, from that September jobs report, yes, the unemployment rate went down. But job growth was nowhere. So you can always cherry pick a number here, cherry pick a number there. It ultimately comes down to what do people feel in their everyday lives? And the stock market is not what people feel in their everyday lives. Beyond sort of a symbolic "Well, things must be going better."
If it goes down I'm not sure what he's going to hang his hat on economically.
CAMEROTA: David, I know that you're very eager to weigh in on the Ivana Trump, Melania Trump story. And I want to give you an opportunity to do that.
CILLIZZA: He does. He's very intrigued by this story.
CAMEROTA: I know he is. So Ivana, Donald Trump's first wife, is out publicizing a book about her raising the -- three of the Trump children. And she made a statement where it was, we think, a joke, but she basically called herself the first lady. So listen to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANA TRUMP, FIRST 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 jealousy or something like that, because I'm basically first Trump wife, OK? I'm first lady, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So then Melania, I guess, didn't like, or at least her staff, as Chris points out, didn't like that she was calling herself first lady. They put out this statement after 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's clearly no substance to this statement from an ex. This is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise."
Your thoughts, David?
GREGORY: You know, I really do believe it takes a village. And I don't think they want this kind of attention in the White House in the first lady's office. She's been pretty good so far of avoiding it.
CAMEROTA: So I mean, but should they have put out a statement; should they just ignore that one?
GREGORY: Well, you know, there's lots of things they should do. But you know, subtlety is not their -- not their thing.
CAMEROTA: David is really dancing around this.
CUOMO: Yes. Well, you know, this is tricky territory.
It really is. This was a huge mistake.
CILLIZZA: It was -- it was dumb.
CUOMO: Go ahead, Chris.
CILLIZZA: So it was dumb. Is that quick enough? It was dumb. Don't elevate these things. She was clearly joking.
CAMEROTA: Got it. Chris Cillizza, David Gregory, thank you both very much.
CUOMO: To news that matters, at least ten people dead. Wildfires burning out of control in Northern California, the flames forcing thousands to leave their homes. CNN's Miguel Marquez live in Santa Rosa, California.
And we keep hearing from people there. Miguel, you've got your mask on, because it's burning so fast that the air is filled with that acrid smoke. Firefighters are having a tough time keeping up with this. They can't even light backfires in time, because it's spreading so quickly. Why?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been -- the wind has been the biggest culprit here. And that may be turning around right now. But that death toll of ten people may go up.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office had some disturbing news overnight, with 100 people calling them saying they're missing people, up to 100 people are missing. Lots of calls about those missing. Because there's just tens of thousands of people who have evacuated very, very rapidly in the face of this fire.
We're going to show you exactly where they are right now. This is what is left of a hotel in wine country. The Hilton Hotel, Sonoma County, wine country is completely destroyed in this area. It was up on a hill. Those winds just whipped up these hills and destroyed properties like this.
Two hospitals have also been evacuated. Some 1,500 structures in Sonoma County destroyed. This one neighborhood in particular, Coffee Park. You can see what it looked like before and then just how this fire devastated it when it moved through here.
Across California, some 32,000 fires are burning in this state, 120,000 acres south of Los Angeles in Anaheim, near Disney Land. There was a 5,000-acre fire burning there. Several homes have been destroyed. Several thousand more are threatened.
And the only thing that is good news right now is that that wind has come down. The humidity is starting to go up. So hopefully, firefighters will be able to get out in front of this fire now and start actually fighting it -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Miguel. Please be careful. We'll check back with you.
Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama staying silent as a sexual harassment scandal engulfs movie mogul and major Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein. Will they speak up? Should they?
Former vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine is going to join us next.
[07:21:17] CAMEROTA: President Trump and Senator Bob Corker's war of words continues. A White House official tells CNN that President Trump is not finished with Senator Corker.
Let's discuss all this with former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. He is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee that Senator Corker chairs.
Great to have you here in studio. What do you think of Senator Corker so publicly criticizing President Trump?
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Bob Corker is my chair on Foreign Relations. I know him very well. He's a patriotic, reasonable person, and he's expressing a concern that is shared by an awful lot of members of the Senate, even Republican members.
CAMEROTA: Though they're not speaking out about it. I mean...
KAINE: They're not.
CAMEROTA: ... he's the one who's publicly saying it, but nobody else is rising to defend him or have his back.
KAINE: Not yet. Although if you look at over the last couple of months, you know, Republicans who have pushed back against the president, whether it was over health care or other issues, you see that Bob Corker isn't by himself. But I will tell you that, in the halls of the Senate, the conversations about the president's judgment are -- they take place all the time, and they have been for months now.
So Bob Corker has just given voice to things that many are thinking and many are saying on the Republican side.
CAMEROTA: I know you want to talk about the Puerto Rico relief effort, and we're going to get there in a second. But first, in terms of Harvey Weinstein...
CAMEROTA: ... obviously, Hollywood mogul. He is accused of doing despicable...
KAINE: Yes. Real -- these allegations are low-life behavior.
CAMEROTA: He gave, I think, $39,000 to yours and Hillary Clinton's 2016 election effort. Should that money be given back?
KAINE: Well, the campaign is over. So what -- here is what's happening. You've got to call out bad behavior. Anybody who sexually harasses somebody or anybody who uses their position of power, especially, to coerce or intimidate somebody, that's -- that's low- life behavior, and it's unacceptable.
And whether it's in government or media or business, it's unacceptable. And you've got to call it out.
I think a number of folks who he has given money to in this campaign cycle are returning those funds. I haven't asked him for anything, hasn't giving me anything, but....
CAMEROTA: You're saying that the money for your campaign...
KAINE: It's over.
CAMEROTA: It's spent. It can't be given back?
KAINE: Yes, it's over.
CAMEROTA: Hillary Clinton spoke for 90 minutes last night in California, but she didn't mention Harvey Weinstein. Why not?
KAINE: You know, Alisyn, I'm nobody's press secretary. I'm a U.S. senator, and I'm telling you that sexual harassment is unacceptable, and I really think it's low-life behavior.
Hillary Clinton speaks out against sexual harassment often. And I'm sure she'll have a word to say when the time is right for her. But I don't -- I'm not -- I'm not anybody's press secretary.
CAMEROTA: Understood. Would you recommend that she do that? KAINE: Any leader -- any leader should condemn this. I mean, I have
a 22-year-old daughter who's starting off, you know, in the work world, and I -- when you read the stories about young women feeling pressured by somebody in a position of power, it makes you sick.
CAMEROTA: Puerto Rico. You just returned. You've just returned from there. When you came back, you tweeted this: "Was in Puerto Rico Saturday. Only 15 percent have power after two weeks, hope to hit 25 percent by next month." Twenty-five percent. "Where else in the U.S. would this be acceptable?"
Is the federal government not doing enough?
KAINE: Certainly on the power grid, we're not doing enough, and we have to do more. I went down with a bipartisan delegation. Ten of us, House and Senate, Democratic and Republican.
And I would say, Alisyn, that was the thing that struck me the most. I've been a governor, and I've done emergency response. But when you do hurricane relief in Virginia, part of the state's hit badly but other parts not so badly. So, people can go to other places.
Seventy-eight localities in Puerto Rico. You guys have done a great job of covering this. Everyone has been hit so people, many are without housing, food, pure water, electricity, telecommunication, transportation, access -- access to health care. And the notion that, well, within a month 25 percent of the power would be back, where would we accept this in the United States? So...
[07:25:04] CAMEROTA: So why isn't the federal government doing more?
KAINE: Well, it's the federal government, and it's others, too. Here's something that I noticed when I was there. When there's a hurricane in Virginia, and I go out to, like, thank the work crews, a lot of the work crews are utility linemen from West Virginia or Indiana who go in and help out, just like our crews go to other states.
There weren't other crews there when I was there. So, I don't -- I'm not sure why Puerto Rico has signed these mutual aid agreements with other utilities, but there weren't other people there helping...
CAMEROTA: Who are you calling on to do more?
KAINE: Well, Congress has got to do more. So the president put in a request last week for $29 billion. It was $29 billion, but $16 billion was to fix the federal flood insurance program, and half a billion was for wildfires. So it's about 12 billion for Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Sandy was 50 to 80. Katrina was 100 billion. So this is just a tiny, tiny little -- hopefully, down payment. I challenge the administration: this is too small. And they said, "This is to get us through the year and we have to do more."
But we've got to get to the bottom of this electricity grid situation. Because as you know, you can't run an economy, manufacturing, without a power system.
CAMEROTA: Well, they're in dire straits. I mean, everyone there is in dire straits. I don't know how they're going to get back to work; I don't know how they're going to rebuild. But you're saying that, if the president asked for more billions, that Congress would authorize that?
KAINE: We're going to have to. I think we should immediately act on the first request to get us through year end. There still is an assessment that has to be done.
But the second thing is we've got to build a resilient power grid in Puerto Rico, help them do that, so that they can get their economy back up and running. You see a mass exodus of people leaving Puerto Rico. You know, moving to other places. They'd rather live at home. We ought to help them get that power grid back up and running.
CAMEROTA: President Trump says that you're not giving him enough credit. He tweeted this: "Nobody could have done what I've done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation. So much work." What's your response?
KAINE: I just -- I don't see it. I didn't see the sense of urgency. You know, I'll give you an example.
So we did an aid package for -- after the hurricane in Texas and Florida that included not just emergency money but also CDBG funds for economic development. That wasn't in the package that the president sent us last week for Puerto Rico.
Why aren't utility crews there? You know, the response was slow.
And, admittedly, it's an island. You can't just drive next door to the next state with a utility truck and get there. That poses some challenges.
But then the initial presidential visit, this -- watching him throw the paper towels into the crowd, it looked like he was -- you know, it was kind of joking around or kind of a game, rather than a seriousness that you would expect.
Puerto Rico would be the 29th or 30th largest state if it was a state. I mean, this is a lot of people who are suffering. And I don't think the responses have had the sense of urgency or the sufficiency of resources that we should see.
CAMEROTA: Well, the San Juan mayor obviously agrees with you. Carmen Yulin Cruz has been, as you know, quite outspoken, and she's gotten a bit of a smackdown from FEMA, I mean, who have said, "We filter that out. That's noise, what she's saying." She's the person making the really emotional entreaty for more help.
So why do you think that FEMA is kind of trying to silence her?
KAINE: They're sensitive about the politics. But they ought to just -- they ought to just do the work, and the politics will be fine. And it's not just the mayor. We are with the governor on Saturday. And he's been more measured in his words but no less passionate in his belief.
CAMEROTA: But he has said that he believes that the president has been doing a great job. I mean, he's not calling for -- he's not begging for more.
KAINE: Yes, but I can tell you, I talked to a number of his folks working with him on Saturday. I think he is worried that if he says anything wrong will the president hold it against him.
I heard from his team a great deal of concern, especially around this power grid issue. You cannot run an economy -- I mean, they don't even know when schools are going to reopen. Right? Can you -- you can't run a hospital on a generator forever. You can't run a nursing home on a generator forever. Manufacturing is the biggest sector in the economy. How do you manufacture without power?
So this is -- I've never seen an emergency response challenge as a governor and mayor who's done it. I've never seen one that is more significant and difficult than the one that Governor Rossello is dealing with now.
And -- and our response for these American citizens should match the gravity of what he's dealing with.
CAMEROTA: Senator Tim Kaine, great to talk to you. Thank you.
KAINE: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: ... for being here in studio.
Let's send it over to Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Harvey, Irma, Maria. There are updates necessary in all three. We have them coming up.
Also, big development out in Vegas. Police revealing a major shift in the timeline there. There's new information about when the first shots were fired and what that means to the investigation, next.