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President Trump Continues Feud with Senator Bob Corker; Analysts Examine Hillary Clinton's Failure to Condemn Harvey Weinstein; At Least 11 Dead in California Wildfires; Interview with Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: You reach in and grab those guys. You don't call them out, you call them in. They are not doing it. This book is a cure for the crazy.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But are your liberal friends telling you they are making them compromise beyond their comfort level?
JONES: Some say that and some recognize if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, liberals, you're going to get the same result. And that's crazy, too. Both sides have got to learn.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The punitive head of the Democratic Party right now is not a registered Democrat all the time, Bernie Sanders. That tells you everything.
CAMEROTA: There you go. The book again, "Beyond the Messy Truth."
CUOMO: It should be called "Cure for the Crazy."
JONES: That will be the paperback version.
CAMEROTA: Van, great to see you. Thanks so much.
We're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say we are going to be OK, provisional is as long as the adults are still there. I think that's extraordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McConnell and Corker, the entire establishment globalist clique have to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could be heading 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be working very closely with Governor Brown to see you through these challenging times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning, everybody, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, October 10th, 8:00 in the east now, and the feud between President Trump Senator Bob Corker is getting worse. Senate Republicans for the most part are staying silent. They don't what to say in this situation. A White House official tells CNN the president isn't finished with Corker. Meantime we are hearing Senator Corker tell a "New York Times" reporter that the president's volatility is alarming. He seems to be questioning the president's fitness to hold office.
CAMEROTA: And in a new interview with "Forbes" magazine President Trump playing into a different public spat, taking a dig of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who allegedly called the president a moron. The president says they may have to compare I.Q. tests. The two men are set to have lunch together in just a few hours. We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns, he is live at the White House. What is the latest there, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, President Trump and Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have kept it quiet over the last 24 hours or so after their very public feud re- erupted, if you will, over the weekend. We are told that is not likely to last despite the fact that the administration cannot afford to lose Republican votes on Capitol Hill if it expects to get any legislation through this year.
JOHNS: 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.
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: Sometimes I feel like he is on a reality show or something, and he's talking about the foreign policy issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CORKER: And you have to 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. STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: 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 that entire clique, establishment globalist clique on Capitol Hill, have to go. There's a coalition that's 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 a 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 what Corker says many believes 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 add the world, especially in the region that he's addressing, yes, I mean, that is 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 PRESIDENT 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 already alienated another top Senate Republican, John McCain.
[08:05:09] JOHNS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to come here to the White House for lunch with the president today. As far as we know, it's the first time the two men have actually met face-to-face since reports surfaced that Tillerson referred to the president as a moron and a newly published magazine article on "Forbes" online. The president counterpunches, in part denying that Tillerson said it, but also attacking him for it. It reads "I think it's fake news, but if he did that I guess we'll have to compare I.Q. tests, and I can tell you who is going to win." Chris and Alisyn?
CUOMO: All right, Joe, so he's not even sure that he said it, but just in case he will take a slap at him.
All right, joining us now is CNN political director David Chalian and CNN political analyst David Gregory. David Chalian, you can't make it up, you're can't write it, no screenwriter would have ever imagined anything like we're living through. He doesn't believe that Tillerson called him a moron. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But he opens the possibility that he did, which he had not prior. I read that quote as being like, he is allowing for the possibility that he may have actually said this. I think it's fake news --
CUOMO: But just in case, I am smarter than he is, which is one more of these things -- I guess the question becomes, is there value in monitoring this ongoing drama between him and, at this point, Tillerson, him and Corker?
CHALIAN: Without a doubt. I don't think these just to and fro. That's not why we monitor it, to see who can one-up each other. We monitor it because Rex Tillerson speaks for the United States of America on the world stage and is supposed to be out there implementing Donald Trump's policy, his vision for America's role in the world, our relationships with our allies and our opponents many times.
And when Rex Tillerson is out there speaking for the president and for the United States, and then the president comes in and undermines him, that provides a strategic opening for people around the world that would like to do us harm, and that's -- that's why it's worth paying attention to.
CAMEROTA: Funny you use the word "undermining" because the president just talked about that, David Gregory, that there's been some curiosity about what the president's strategy is with North Korea, how he's insulting Kim Jong-un on Twitter while Rex Tillerson is engaged in diplomacy, and then he said to Rex Tillerson, give up on that, Rex, never going to work. So here's the new "Forbes" interview and the president says I am not undermining. I think I am actually strengthening authority. So that does speak to the bad cop/good cop theory that he thinks he's helping.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You've heard President Trump say this before with regard to North Korea. Just as Richard Nixon in the latter stages of Vietnam wanted to persuade the north that he was unhinged that not even his adviser could control his anger with regarding to bombing as Henry Kissinger was pursuing peace talks. It's interesting that Trump will be speaking reportedly to former secretary of state Henry Kissinger today before he meets with Tillerson.
The pattern I think David is referring to that we are seeing with Trump that seems ridiculous is his impulsivity, his self- aggrandizement, his willingness to take on other people. What is absent from that is a strategic vision for how to govern or certainly a strategic vision for the world. And that's what I think all of this highlights.
Maybe on the domestic front, maybe taking on Corker, you heard Steve Bannon in Joe's piece, maybe this is tantamount to trying to split into a third party, maybe it's not all that thought out. But the president is taking on all comers, getting deals where he can, although he's not achieving anything legislatively, but he's thinking about only winning the day, if he's even doing that, the remaining at the center of attention. It's not strategic thinking as far as we can tell, and that seems to be the problem.
CUOMO: Let's give him a little bit of a nod with what's going on with Bannon. Bannon leaves the White House, he's on the outside. "Breitbart" starts beating up Trump and the administration, and then that kind of settles down. Now you have pretty much the best defense of the president in terms of this latest kerfuffle with his own party from Bannon, saying you guys are the problem, not the president. We're going to primary every one of you. Maybe there is some strategy at play. Maybe the reason these guys are so quiet about what is going on with Corker and the president is because of what Bannon is saying?
CHALIAN: I don't know that I would give him that much credit. If Donald Trump were to strike up again talks with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over DACA, the Bannon and "Breitbart" would hit him over that. I would have no doubt. I don't think this is some permanent relationship that you are talking about. I think it is totally dependent on events.
[08:10:00] I do think Steve Bannon is clearly employing a strategy, a notion that Donald Trump is intrigued by, it fits what he campaign with, this notion that the Republican party off yesteryear is no more, that cannot be, that's not where the grassroots activism is inside the party. It's here, here, the people in this other wing of the party. And Donald Trump gets that and he felt that on the campaign trail. So obviously their simpatico with what Steve Bannon is doing, trying to reshape the Republican Party in the image of the populism --
CUOMO: The biggest defender he had after Corker. They sent out Sean Duffy, un-compelling, Kellyanne saying they're really biased tweets. That rings hollow for who she is defending. But Bannon was the biggest voice.
GREGORY: I agree with that, Chris. I think that Donald Trump believes now and has always believed that he is the new Republican Party. I think that is being informed and is being cheered on by somebody like Steve Bannon, who says you go your own way. He doesn't side with him, as David just said, when it comes to working with Democrats on DACA, on the DREAMer issue. He'll hit him on that. But generally speaking, taking on anybody in the establishment he thinks is probably a good thing because he can defend that. But Trump has always benefited from the idea that Republicans come home, even if they're not really his kind of Republican. And that's the question moving forward. If you don't get tax reform, you haven't repealed health care, what you have got to show the rest of the party that it's worth coming home to?
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about Harvey Weinstein, the media and Hollywood mogul, as you know who has now had this fall from grace, and he is being accused of the most repulsive things you can, some of them that you can imagine. So Hillary Clinton last night spoke for 90 minutes at an event in California. She talked about the NFL kerfuffle. She did not mention Harvey Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein has given something like $1.5 million to Democrats over the past decade plus. Here's what Senator Tim Kaine told us this morning, obviously Hillary Clinton's running mate, about how he thinks more people should speak out. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: I'm nobody's press secretary. I am a U.S. senator and I'm telling you that sexual harassment is unacceptable, and I really think it's lowlife behavior. Hillary Clinton speaks out about sexual harassment often, and I am sure she will have a word to say when the time is right for her. But I'm not anybody's press secretary.
CAMEROTA: You would recommend she do that?
KAINE: Any leader should condemn this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So David Chalian, is this too dangerous a territory for Hillary Clinton to speak about?
CHALIAN: No. I actually don't understand this at all.
CAMEROTA: Because her husband was accused of things and so it gets into very dicey territory for her to condemn it so strongly against Harvey Weinstein, and people say why didn't you ever speak out for the victims of Bill Clinton? We heard this during the campaign.
CHALIAN: Yes, but Tim Kaine was right. Hillary Clinton does have a record of her career speaking out against violence against women. So while there's a complicated history at home, no doubt, I don't think it's complicated for her to come out and condemn somebody who gave her political donations simply for that fact alone.
CAMEROTA: So why is she not doing it?
CHALIAN: I'm also not Hillary Clinton's press secretary. I don't know the answer to that. Barack Obama, also, this is just unconscionable to me that people with huge megaphones, even more important because they did receive his donations and have been patronized by him, do not come out and speak out against this --
CUOMO: Isn't that the answer? David, isn't that the answer? You don't criticize people who you are close to the way you do with people you are not close to. Let's be honest. This has been quiet, this story. And there's another layer to it. We didn't really know. No, we keep hearing everybody knew, everybody knew, everybody knew. That's their problem. If everybody knew and you delayed saying anything when it wound up being public, what is your defense?
GREGORY: I don't think there is one. You are at least a hypocrite if you are going to really step out and speak about people who are in the middle of all of this. If you are Hillary Clinton, what have you also got to lose? Is somebody going to criticize her? What is there left to be said about Hillary Clinton critically? I think she can go out and even if she wants to defend her relationship with him and talk about mistakes he's made, but I think she no doubt has to be on the record about this as other leaders have to be because we're living through a time where we have seen this kind of action before, and people do need to speak out about it.
CUOMO: She certainly won't call it a mistake. There's a pattern of conduct like this over this period, there's nothing mistaken about it.
GREGORY: No, exactly. She has to speak out forcefully about it even if she wants to stand behind her friendship.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, David Chalian, thank you very much.
We need to get to breaking news for your now because at least 11 people have been killed in raging wildfires in northern California as tens of thousands of people are forced to evacuate. CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Santa Rosa, California, right there on the edge of fires burning.
[08:15:02] Miguel, what's the latest?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's 11 dead. There's hundreds that are injured, and possibly 100 or more that are missing according to the Sonoma County sheriff's office.
I'm going to show you where we are right now. This is what's left of the Hilton-Sonoma Wine Country Inn. It was a lovely hotel yesterday. Today, it is in complete ruins. This fire burned through neighborhoods incredibly quickly in Santa Rosa, California.
One neighborhood in particular, the Coffee Park neighborhood. You can see what it looks like before and after, just complete devastation. Some 32 fires burning across the state, 120,000 acres total. Right now, we have some live pictures up from one of our affiliates, over Anaheim, California, that's south of Los Angeles, near Disneyland, where 5,000 acres have burned, several homes have already been destroyed, several thousand more are in danger of being destroyed.
The only good news at this point in this horrible story is that the winds have died down, the humidity is going up, the temperature has cooled down, so maybe, maybe, firefighters can start getting on top of this thing, get the upper hand and start putting it out -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Miguel, look, they have literally everything working against them right now, and they have to pray for lower winds. I mean, there has been such a huge investment of personnel up there that they have trying to beat it back.
But, you know, if you have ever been around that situation, it's such difficult terrain.
CUOMO: The wind picks up differently at elevation and literally turbo charges the flames and it can hop across roads. And that's what's happening here. It's moving faster than they can.
CAMEROTA: And the conditions have been so dry. They were desperate for rain, so, obviously, that becomes an incinerator of sorts. So, let's hope the weather cooperates today. CUOMO: Well, it's getting close to populations that will be almost impossible to protect. So, we will stay on it.
Now, coming up next, Senator Bob Corker, he is making it clear he's worried about the president's fitness for office. You don't hear anybody rushing to his side, though. You also don't hear people rushing to defend the president.
What's going on?
We have one of the senator's colleagues joining us next.
[08:20:51] CUOMO: A White House official tells CNN that President Trump is not finished with Republican Senator Bob Corker. There's definitely a feud going on between the president and the senator roiling Washington. Listen to what Senator Corker told "The New York Times."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I do worry that he's -- sometimes I feel like he's on a reality show of some kind 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. It's like he -- it's like an act to him and sure, that bothers me.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CUOMO: And certainly bothers the president. There's reporting from an insider there that the president is like a pressure cooker, about to explode because of all this pushback and criticism.
Let's discuss with Republican Senator Ron Johnson. He's the chairman of the Senate of the Homeland Security Committee and serves on the Foreign Relations Committee with Senator Corker.
Senator, thank you for going to Puerto Rico. Thank you for going down there so you can have eyes and ears of your own on the situation.
I want to show you the president's tweet. I know Corker is going on, we'll get to it. But Puerto Rico matters a hell of a lot more to me and I'm sure to me and to you.
Nobody could have done what I have done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation, so much work.
Senator, you cannot go down there and look around and say, wow, this is a situation that deserves applause for the president of the United States. It's in crisis down there.
What is your take?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Well, first of all, let me give credit on a bipartisan basis over a number of administrations of what we have done after Katrina in terms of approving our pre-disaster response ahead of time. I think FEMA -- I think FEMA really has done an excellent job. They've opened up 22, 23 ports, 70 -- more than 70 percent of gas stations and grocery stores are open on the island. I was I literally was relieved, Chris, that there was not the devastation I expected to see.
We all saw pictures of St. Marten's, you know, every house flattened. I think the main problem right now is standing up the electrical grid. I think all the members of Congress accompany us on the bipartisan, bicameral trip.
Again, my main reason of going down there was to assure the Puerto Ricans that we understand their flight. Nobody is going to ignore them, nobody's going to do -- we're not going to forget them, but, right now, I think we really are moving past the emergency response phase and removing the intermediate phase which is all about standing up their electrical grid, initially getting it up and running so businesses can -- you know, manufacturing operations can start to restarting their economy so the people have wages to spend on the island.
So, it's all about starting up their power so they have an economy that -- to have a future for the island.
CUOMO: Yes, but survival is their issue right now. You have less than half of that territory that has power and water. You can't live like that over time.
I mean, you were down there, Senator. They do not feel that they are coming out of the woods there. They do not feel like they are turning a corner.
That's the dangerous nature of the, boy, do I deserve appreciation? Boy, are we doing a great job?
Nobody is saying the first responders aren't working hard. I saw it with my own eyes, they are killing themselves down there. But, clearly, it's not enough to stem the need.
JOHNSON: No, it's all about power. Now, the electrical grid was already very weakened, which is why so many businesses, so many individuals have so many generators on the island, which is right now, it's powering -- I'd imagine gas stations and grocery stores, as well as -- they have about 11 percent to 12 percent of the grid up and operating.
So, that's the primary focus. You have to pull out all the stops and get that power grid up and running to as much of the island as possible.
So, you know, again, I think we're moving into the secondary, that intermediate phase. It's all focused -- got to be focused on power.
CUOMO: Absolutely. You've got people up on the mountain who are still, you know, close to - there are worries about starvation. We'll stay on it. It's good that you went down there. We'll monitor the efforts of the Congress. Thank you very much on that topic, Senator.
Different kind of power --
CUOMO: Go ahead and finish.
[08:25:00] JOHNSON: Yes, let me -- again, we probably toured, I don't know, a quarter to one-third of the island by helicopter, very close to the ground. And, no doubt about it, you have very isolated a number of homes together. You know, clusters of homes two to three, maybe ten, and those homes are definitely isolated, but you have 78 municipalities. That's how many municipalities they have. They are all accessible by road.
So, again, they are getting out of that emergency phase and they're move into the intermediate phase of --
CUOMO: I hear you. I hear the terminology. I am saying when you need food and water, and you are still waiting on meals to be handed out, and they are inadequate, you know, you can call the phase whatever you want, it's a crisis.
I want to ask you about something else that's going on there --
CUOMO: They've -- OK. Sure.
CUOMO: -- with Senator Corker.
How concerned are you about this and what the president -- how the president is responding what the senator is saying about the president's fitness for office?
You know Bob Corker. Do you accept his appraisal?
JOHNSON: Well, I've got a lot of respect for Senator Corker and I have a good appreciation for the enormous challenges facing this nation. You know how concerned I am about the health care system that Obamacare is not working, the fact that we have to grow our economy.
So, you know, from my standpoint, I would rather have everybody put aside the squabbles and concentrate on the issues at hand right now. We have to get tax reform, so we can get our economy moving forward. I think the president has done a very good job at reducing regulatory burden. He continues to do that, in terms of his EPA. I think overregulation is the greatest impediment to a stronger economic growth.
So, I'm just trying to concentrate on the big issues on hand. So, I went to Puerto Rico, and I want to assess it for myself, but also reassure the Puerto Rican people that we're not going to forget. So, I wish everybody would concentrate on the enormous challenges facing the nation, we'd be far better off.
CUOMO: Well, just to give corker his due, he is saying, well, this isn't trivial. This isn't political infighting. I'm afraid that this guy may start a war, that the president is speaking in such incendiary and irresponsible ways to a madman in North Korea, that this could really start a military situation. That's a legitimate concern from him, is it not?
JOHNSON: I'm concerned about all kinds of things.
One thing I will say about this president, he has surrounded himself with extraordinary individuals -- Secretary Mattis, General Kelly. I think he's got has excellent people, Secretary Tillerson, incredibly intelligent individual. I certainly find greater comfort when we are briefed on the enormous challenges down in our secure briefing room.
So, he's got some people around him and any president has got to rely on the people he appoints.
CUOMO: Senator, I appreciate you coming on the show. I appreciate you going down to Puerto Rico even more. We will stay on the efforts to bring those people back.
Thank you very much, sir.
JOHNSON: Have a great day.
CAMEROTA: OK. So, President Trump's threats to North Korea are stoking anxiety around the world. "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof just returned from North Korea. He tells us what they think there, next.