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NEW DAY SUNDAY
Trump: "Major Discussions" On North Korea, Trade With Japan; Trump: Deciding "Soon" If North Korea Is State Sponsor Of Terrorism; Trump: Saudi King Talk After Missile Fired At Riyadh; Manafort And Gates Trial Scheduled For May 7th; White House Official: Trump, Putin To Meet On North Korea. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired November 5, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning! You have made it to Sunday and we are so grateful for your company as always. I'm Christi Paul.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. It's great to be with you. Dinner and diplomacy is how President Trump is finishing out the first day of his high-stakes Asia trip.
PAUL: Just moments ago, in fact, we heard from the president as he arrived for dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of the United States' closest ally in the region.
We want to get straight to CNN correspondent, Sara Murray, who is traveling with the president. Sara, I understand you have got some new sounds from the president from moments ago. What is he saying?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, that's right. Look, the president kicked off his grueling five-nation foreign trip in a more informal way. He played a round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two just arrived at dinner and the president gave a preview of the two issues that are going to dominate this trip, trade and North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are in the midst of having discussions on many subjects, including North Korea and trade, and other things, and we are doing very well. We are doing very well. The relationship is really extraordinary. We like each other and our countries like each other.
And I don't think we have ever been closer to Japan than we are right now. So, it's a great honor. Believe me. It's a great honor. We are going to have dinner tonight where I think we will insult everybody by continuing to talk about trade. But the time is a little bit limited and then tomorrow is a very busy day. So, thank you all for being here. We appreciate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now tomorrow, we will see these two world leaders in a more formal setting with a bilateral meeting as well as a press conference and of course, Prime Minister Abe is just one of the world leaders the president is going to be meeting with across this trip.
He did confirm today he is also planning on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week. The top topic for that meeting is also expected to be North Korea. Obviously, this administration is grappling with how to deal with increasing tensions in that region.
Administration officials saying they are still debating whether they want to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism and say a decision could come very soon possibly on this trip. Back to you, guys.
PAUL: All right. Sara Murray, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Now the president is heading to South Korea after this. He is going to be meeting with the country's leaders there about the growing threat from their northern neighbor. The first top on his Asian tour, the president, he gave a veiled warning to the North Korean regime. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Together with our allies, America's warriors are prepared to defend our nation using the full range of our unmatched capabilities. No one, no dictator, no regime, and no nation should underestimate ever American resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: CNN international correspondent, Alexandra Field, live in Tokyo with us right now. Good morning to you, Alex. Now, obviously, he didn't call out North Korea by name here, but anybody who is following it we can be pretty clear who that was addressed to, yes?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Christi. He didn't need to name check North Korea. We know that that is the issue that looms largest over this trip and the top priority even while the president talks about trade relationships is really to cultivate support among the leaders in this region for what he sees as his policy toward reigning in North Korea, toward countering that threat.
It makes a good deal of sense that he has started the trip right here in Japan where he finds his closest ally in a foreign leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders have been very much in lock-step when it comes to taking a tough approach to North Korea.
Look, White House officials continue to say that the Trump administration policy is to fully use a diplomatic and economic leverage in order to achieve full de-nuclearization of the peninsula. But we know that this is a president who speaks in fiery tones. He gets on Twitter. He levels a lot of threats toward North Korea. Certainly, he has a strong partner here in Japan who believes that the threat from North Korea is serious and that it is grave. Both of these leaders believe that Japan needs to do more to increase its military's capacity to protect and defend Japan.
That is a big deal given this country's pacifist constitution, of course. From here, President Trump will move on to South Korea. They feel the threat of North Korea most directly, of course, given the proximity to North Korea.
There is a relationship that is developing between the South Korean president and President Trump, but he has been more critical of South Korean president on Twitter saying that South Koreans sometimes taking a policy of appeasement.
But really when it comes to dealing with North Korea, the most important stuff on this trip will be that visit to Beijing. We know that President Trump looks at China as being really the linchpin in his policy here.
[06:05:10] He is looking to China to enact fully its economic leverage over North Korea. Of course, China is responsible for some 90 percent of trade with North Korea. We have seen the president, himself, take an alternating tone disparaging China and its leader, Xi Jinping at times for not doing enough to reign in the rogue regime.
And at other times saying that they are doing well and that they are doing more to enforce these sanctions that we continue to see leveled against North Korea. In recent months, we've seen the broadest sanctions yet against that rogue regime.
So, certainly, President Trump's focus will be on, again, cultivating support for his policy when it comes to dealing with North Korea and really clarifying a policy that has sparked some confusion in the region because he had a push for diplomacy from top administration officials and you've had those continuous threats from President Trump.
PAUL: (Inaudible) very good point. Alexandria Field, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Let me bring in now Errol Louis is the CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University. Good morning, Gentlemen.
OK. President Trump's remarks to U.S. troops in Japan were pretty much to void mentioning North Korea by name but certainly pretty clear who he was talking about here. I should also point out that so far the president has managed to stay on message meeting with the troops and looks good. It doesn't appear to have made any major jabs at anyone. Julian, so far, so good?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, so far, so good, but the question, itself, indicates the concern everyone has. How long will it last? It's not the kind of question we often are wondering about the president. This is a very long trip by any standards.
And it's also going to be a pretty difficult trip to try to bring some kind of clarity and some kind of buy-in to stopping North Korea. So, there is many days ahead and as much as what the president says and what he negotiates, it's his demeanor, it's his words. All of that has to remain under control for this to be relatively successful.
SAVIDGE: Errol, two things struck me. One in that speech, no direct mentioning of North Korea and then also sort of the White House saying that they are going to hold off on putting North Korea on that list of state sponsored terrorists.
Both of those seemed to be sort of, I don't know. I don't want to say an olive branch, but he is definitely not out there to get North Korea angry, it seems.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. Look, after you bellow at the top of your lungs at the United Nations General Assembly that you're threatening to totally destroy North Korea, it's kind of hard to go any further, which is the problem with that kind of rhetoric.
Anything else, it looks like you're dialing it back or you're sort of maybe taking a different approach. That is, of course, only appropriate. You know, substantively, it's worth noting, Martin, when he says no one should question American resolve, the real problem, up until now, has been American resolve.
You know, he is offering a version of history that I don't think any of his last four or five predecessors would recognize. The American president has always been resolved to keep nuclear weapons out of the Korean Peninsula. That's been policy since the 1950s.
So, we will see if he can sort of take a different approach to this and it's a welcome start as Julian said to see if you can sort of keep things under control, cool things down to a simmer, rather than really heat things up.
SAVIDGE: Julian, we saw just as the president spoke before he went to dinner there that the talk is going to be about trade. One of the first things, of course, this president did was remove the U.S. from the Transpacific Partnership Trade Agreement. So, I'm wondering, do you expect some kind of trade deal or something to come of this whole trip?
ZELIZER: I don't expect a deal to come from this trip, but I think that is essential to understanding what has been going on. One piece of leverage that the United States did have to get help with North Korea was trade.
And that was part of the thinking when President Obama entered the agreement to get some leverage in the region and President Trump ended that. So, he at least needs to have more fruitful discussions and show some signs that he is open to trade agreements and negotiations.
I don't think he'll get anything concrete, but he needs to demonstrate that so people in the region, including China, are more willing to assist and try to rein in North Korea.
SAVIDGE: Errol, there have been some talk we've wondered whether North Korea might do something like launch a missile. There was a missile launch, but it wasn't North Korea. It was launched against one of our allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. President Trump commented on it. He seemed to suggest that that "shot was taken by Iran." That was a quote.
[06:10:10] We understand that there is a proxy war going on here, but that rhetoric, does it help with the U.S. relations in that region and abroad?
LOUIS: Well, no, not at all. In fact, I mean, one of the things that goes on that is really been quite striking both in Asia and to a lesser extent in the Middle East is that the president is seeking to up-end decades of regional approaches to these very tough situations with a series of bilateral trade agreement and series of sort of one- on-one personal diplomacy.
We are going to see whether or not that yields any fruit, but by trying to exchange the TPP for a series of individual trade groups he is going down that road. He is attempting something of the same in the Middle East to a lesser extent.
And so, we will see if it yields anything. I think he may have bitten off more than he could chew. He will find that much of the wisdom over the last 50 years was not completely crack pot or crazy or incompetent as he often characterized.
SAVIDGE: Well, it is day one, we will see how it goes. Errol Louis and Julian Zelizer, thank you both. Good to see you.
PAUL: So, Paul Manafort is offering up his Trump Tower apartment and several other properties and why is he doing that? Well, he wants something from a court hearing that is happening tomorrow. We will talk about that.
SAVIDGE: Plus, the Democratic divide deepens after reports from former DNC Donna Brazile that she wanted to replace Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. How in the world did that happen? Details ahead.
PAUL: And there is serious security if you're waking up in New York today. Millions of people heading to the New York City marathon this morning. We have a live report for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, Mr. President!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just came by to check up on you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm embarrassed. I only wore a casual $10,000 suit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: But in reality, President Trump is distancing himself from former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
PAUL: Here is why the president says Manafort was not with the campaign very long. He said, quote, "I think we found out something about he may be involved with certain nations and I don't even know exactly what it was in particular, but there was a point at which we just felt Paul would be better off because we don't have to have many potential conflicts." That is from an interview with Journalist Cheryl Atkinson (ph) that will air later today in fact.
SAVIDGE: Manafort joined fellow former Trump campaign official, Rick Gates, in pleading not guilty to a number of charges this week. Manafort is now putting up his Trump Tower apartment and several other properties to try to get the court to allow him more freedom to travel and modify the conditions of his release. The judge may consider that request in a hearing tomorrow.
PAUL: So, let's talk to CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, and political analyst, Julian Zelizer, who stayed with us here. Good morning, Gentlemen. Thank you for being here and staying with us.
So, in this Cheryl Atkinson interview, there is a lot more here, the president was also asked about whether he would fire Robert Mueller. This was his response. "Well, I hope he is treating everything fairly and if he is, I'm going to be very happy because when you talk about innocent, I am truly not involved in any collusion with Russia. Believe me, that's the last thing I can think of to be involved in."
And went on to say he is not under investigation. So, when she asked him if he would fire Robert Mueller, he didn't really answer the question but what do you make, Errol, of his response?
LOUIS: Well, listen, when the president says he is not under investigation, that ship sailed so long that this was the same issue that he talked about with James Comey before he fired him. It's ridiculous at this point.
I mean, my goodness, his campaign manager is under indictment and under house arrest as is his top assistant. We have a campaign staffer or adviser has pleading guilty to a felony involving exactly that, dealing with the Russians.
For the president to say that he personally is not under investigation is absolutely meaningless. What this was always about was finding out what level of involvement was going on and all kinds of advisers from his national security adviser to his attorney general to his own son.
All involved in all kinds of ways. The footsteps are getting closer. This notion of simply denying that there is anything going on has long ago ceased to be credible.
PAUL: Julian, how safe is Mueller, do you believe, Special Counsel Mueller?
ZELIZER: Well, I think if he looks at James Comey, he shouldn't feel safe. Obviously, there is many reasons that the president should not try to have Mueller removed from the inevitable political blowback and constitutional crisis that would clearly set up, to simply the ethics of doing that on an investigation of this magnitude.
But as we have seen, we can't really predict what is he going to do. So, there is always a chance that he might move in that direction and when President Trump doesn't answer a question, he is often doing that intentionally. So, I assume that card is still on the table.
PAUL: You know, another nugget this morning that we are learning regarding this trip to Asia is that President Trump said he likely will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin given the tensions with Russia over a new round of U.S. sanctions and the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Are you surprised that he is trying to get away from all of that domestically, that he will try to talk to Putin or is it inevitable? Does he need to talk to Putin when we talk about North Korea, Errol?
[06:20:10] LOUIS: This is -- it's really quite startling. I mean, unless he can clearly walk out of that meeting with two things, it would be, I think, shocking. Those two things are, one, a complete transcript and readout of what goes on in that conversation so that there are no doubts, no questions about anything else going on.
And, secondly, some kind of agreement, some kind of tangible, easily understood advancement when it comes to battling ISIS and containing North Korea or some other larger foreign policy objective because, keep in mind, this is almost unprecedented and almost a generation since a president spent 12 days on the road in Asia.
There are a lot of different complicated, complex diplomatic goals that were set out and none of which involve Russia. Change it in this way at this time under these circumstances, there had better be a good reason and we will all be watching to see if the president can provide that.
PAUL: Julian, what would the reason be, other than what Errol pointed out? How likely we will see a transcript of an entire conversation between President Putin and President Trump?
ZELIZER: I can't imagine that kind of transparency from this administration. I imagine we will get bits and pieces of what was said, snippets of the conversation, but this is not an administration that vows the pressure of that kind of transparency.
I think the issue on the table, at least from the president's perspective, will be North Korea and trying to obtain assistance from Russia to put pressure. But this is the way domestic politics influences international politics.
What might be a very legitimate diplomatic move at this moment won't be seen that way. And everything that has happened with Russia and everything that is going on with the investigation will color all of that meeting and I think it's impossible for the president to simply wipe that away by denying it's relevant.
PAUL: You can't separate, two, at least not in terms of optics. Errol Louis, Julian Zelizer, we appreciate it so much. Thank you for your insight as always.
SAVIDGE: There is very heavy security in New York this morning as millions of people get ready to attend the New York marathon. CNN's Brynn Gingras has a live preview -- Brynn.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martin, we are just hours away from the start of the marathon. I could tell you I talked to one person who said they went through seven different security measures. We will bring all that to you coming up.
SAVIDGE: Also coming up, new reports that former DNC Chief Donna Brazile thought about replacing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. No surprise, former Clinton campaign staffers are outraged. We will let you know what they said.
PAUL: Unless you're waking up a little groggy-eyed Sunday, we're still happy to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: So, right now, President Trump is wrapping up the first day of his high stakes Asian touring. He's dining with one of his biggest allies in the region, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, of course, and at the top of the agenda, how do deal with the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
SAVIDGE: President Trump also says that he plans to talk about trade and that is one issue where he doesn't necessarily see eye to eye with the prime minister. After meetings between the two allies tomorrow, President Trump then heads on to South Korea.
PAUL: The New York marathon, they are getting for it right now, and the city ramping up security, making sure everybody is safe there. Are you a runner? Have you ever --
SAVIDGE: I'm a skier, not a runner. I run on skis. Fifty thousand runners and 2.5 million spectators are expected and among them is CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras. She is live from Statin Island, New York where the marathon begins. Brynn, I imagine the security there after the week they have had is very tight.
GINGRAS: It really is, Martin. You say I'm among them, however, I just talked to a woman who has run 55 marathons in the last four years, so I don't know if I could be put in the same category of the people that are here right now. I can tell you this area is already filling up with runners. They have to get here this early even though the race doesn't start for another three hours. Part of that is because of the security measures that are in place.
Government officials say, listen to this. This is the most intense security detail that they have ever had for an event in New York City. Put that in perspective. We have had the pope here. We have had diplomats here for the U.N. and this is the most and I can tell you I've talked to people.
They said they have had to go through seven layers of security just to get to where we are standing at this point which is not too far from where this race is going to begin and that security all includes along the 26.2 miles all through the five boroughs of New York City.
We are talking about blocker vehicles and canines and snipers, undercover police officers. There is just a ton of measures going into this in the wake of what happened on Tuesday. Talking to a lot of people here they are not fazed.
They were determined to come to New York City, many of them outside of even this country saying that they are ready to run. They feel safe and jazzed up for what is about to happen in a few hours. That major run is an annual event here in New York City -- guys.
PAUL: It was interesting. I was reading there was a "Times" reporter who talked to some people last week who are running. She said the people who are from out of the country were less worried about security than the people who are in New York. Are you finding something similar there?
GINGRAS: We are. You know, we have been able to talk to a few people who are able to put it in perspective. People who have run in races all across the world and they say this is security that is topnotch. The New York Police Department does have sort of this pedigree that they rely on and that they trust in and that's why they feel so safe.
But, again, there's also the people that live here that I can say their spirit is intact. We had that event happen Tuesday and we talked about this earlier, but the Halloween parade, which attracted a million people, it's still - a million people still went to it.
So, the same is true here for this New York marathon. People not fazed and certainly feeling secure for this annual event, guys.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: That's great to hear, Brynn. We wish New York and everyone running a great, great day. Thanks very much.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST, NEW DAY: Still to come, former Clinton campaign staffers are slamming former DNC chief Donna Brazile over revelations that she considered replacing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. We'll tell you what they're saying.
Plus, "Saturday Night Live" takes a shot at the president's Asia trip, saying that he sent a body double and he even fooled the first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole trip, you've been so dignified, you know. When we were in Hawaii and they offered you a ley, you didn't make the usual tasteless joke. Also, you didn't call Pearl Harbor fake news. And for once, you didn't finish my dinner. Who knew that just by keeping your mouth shut, you could seem so presidential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[06:35:49] PAUL: Well, Republican Senator Rand Paul is apparently recovering this morning after he was assaulted. An acquaintance of his has been charged in the attack.
Now, the senator suffered minor injuries, we are told, when he was tackled at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This happened Friday afternoon.
According to police, Paul's neighbor, Rene Albert Boucher, intentionally attacked him. Boucher is charged with one count of fourth degree assault. Still not clear why Boucher went after Paul, but police are investigating.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, new details are emerging from former DNC chief Donna Brazile's book about the inner workings of the Democratic Party. According to "The Washington Post", Brazile considered taking Hillary Clinton off the 2016 ticket and replacing her with then Vice President Joe Biden. The move came after Clinton fainted at 9/11 memorial in New York City during the campaign.
And we're also learning that Brazile thought Clinton's campaign headquarters lacked passion and energy and thought that it felt like someone died. A lot of heavy words there.
Joining me to discuss all of this is political commentator Errol Louis and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer.
Book comes up right in time for the holidays. And the drip, drip, drip just seems to build up all the anticipation.
Julian, first of all, this idea that you would replace Hillary Clinton mid campaign, does that even seem feasible?
No, it really doesn't. This seems more like a speculative moment for Donna Brazile than something that was about to happen and she couldn't have done this single-handedly. She would have had to have a lot of support and the vote of many other Democratic officials.
And so, this is in the category of bad timing for Democrats to be relitigating the election and the tensions during the election.
Right now, when they are probably poised to do pretty well in the mid- term elections, it's just - it's a problem for Democrats that this book is coming out right now.
SAVIDGE: And, certainly, we know the Clinton staffers are outraged. I was going to use another word. And they have put out a statement, including Huma Abedin and John Podesta, in which they responded to Brazile's accounts in her memoir, saying, "It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into the false Russian-fueled propaganda spread by both the Russians and our opponent about our candidate's health. We do not recognize the campaign the chief portrays in the book. We are pretty tired of the people who were not part of our campaign telling the world what it was like to be on the inside of our campaign and how we felt about it"
Errol, how damaging is this? Julian is already alluding to it here. Is it just a fight between Clinton staffers and Donna Brazile? I mean, Donna Brazile was head of the DNC. It was like she's just sort of a person on the sideline.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that's right. And those of us who have worked with her, she was, of course, a contributor on CNN, have a great deal of respect for her.
Look, I thought that the particular revelation that she had sort of at least considered some of the machinery that is in the DNC charter, that gives her the power, I imagine, in some kind of a health emergency to replace the nominee, if need be, I thought in some ways that was both interesting, but a little bit routine. You know?
If you can go back to a 9/11, I mean, there was a great deal of discussion about what happened. She collapsed, for God's sake. She was carried into her car. There was sort of a blackout period when nobody knew what was going on.
Under the circumstances, for Donna Brazile to sort of say, if I have to, I have to at least be thinking about what we might do.
And she also reveals in the book, in the excerpt at least, she was contacted by Biden's office, by Martin O'Malley's office, the former mayor of Baltimore who was a candidate for president.
So, she wasn't the only one who was thinking we don't know how serious this health thing is. Maybe it's nothing, but if it's serious, we are going to have to take some steps.
[06:40:02] SAVIDGE: But what about her reasoning for not doing it, in which she sort of says, I'm paraphrasing here, so it's not really fair, but something to the effect of she thought of all the women that were supporting Hillary Clinton and just couldn't bring herself to disappointment.
That's what it made it sound. It's kind of a throw-away there. A lot of people supported Hillary Clinton.
LOUIS: Well, just - I don't know if it was her call to make. I read it more as her sort of not feeling that we could step beyond what the facts of the situation really allowed for. SAVIDGE: Julian, I'm sorry. I cut you there.
ZELIZER: The problem with that excerpt is, on the one hand, there is the natural concern the head of the DNC would have if there is a health issue. And, at that moment, Errol is talking about, it's reasonable to think that Donna Brazile is just looking at the options on the table.
But then the next line suggests it was a more conscious debate about whether she needed to be replaced because the campaign wasn't doing well and Brazile couldn't imagine doing it.
So that kind of throw-away line will play into the debate, whether not only was there a problem with the Clinton campaign, but were Democrats wrestling with the idea of removing her, and removing her for someone who didn't really run, which is the other odd part of the story, meaning Vice President Biden as opposed to Sen. Sanders, which will also fuel the flames from that primary.
SAVIDGE: I got a feeling there is more to come on this book. Errol Louis and Julian Zelizer, thank you.
PAUL: Well, still to come, CNN'S Jake Tapper sits down with actor Woody Harrelson, talking about his role as LBJ, Lyndon B. Johnson in that new film "LBJ". You're going to see Woody Harrelson like really you've never seen him before.
SAVIDGE: Plus, "Saturday Night Live" takes on a busy week of news for the Trump administration. They put Trump, Paul Manafort and Jeff Sessions together in a shower scene.
[06:46:10] PAUL: So, the new movie "LBJ" was just released in theaters this weekend. And it chronicles the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson just after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
SAVIDGE: CNN's Jake Tapper sat down with director Rob Reiner and star Woody Harrelson about re-creating the Johnson presidency.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": Joining me is the director of "LBJ" Rob Reiner and the star Woody Harrelson. Thank you for both for coming on. Appreciate it.
So, Woody, one of the things you were able to accomplish in this is showing how LBJ is really different people, depending on the audience.
When he is in front of the Kennedys, he's aggressive, even if they are kind of chuckling at that notion. When he is talking to Southern Democrats, racists like Sen. Richard Russell, he is one of them.
In fact, let me play a little clip. Here is LBJ talking to Sen. Russell, an opponent of the civil rights legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODY HARRELSON, ACTOR, PORTRAYING LBJ: The best leaders at the time for both of our states voted for secession. And they were great men who nearly destroyed America. I don't ever want a history book to say that about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's so fascinating because there are tapes of LBJ being racist, and yet he also pushed through the great civil rights legislation of that era.
HARRELSON: Yes. He was very facile that way, I guess you could say. And he did, a lot of times, what was politically expedient.
But what's really interesting about him pushing through the civil rights act is that it was not a time where it would necessarily help him, you know? Because there were times earlier when he did some - basically, where he voted against civil rights legislation because it was politically expedient. He wanted to be on the right side of the southern caucus.
But, this time, right after Kennedy was assassinated in '63, there was nothing that said this was going to help you get re-elected in '64. Or get elected in '64.
So, I think it really was his - he was passionate about it. He did care about it.
TAPPER: And you really see him working the phones, pressing the flash, talking to senators, cajoling, flattening, threatening, is there a lesson President Trump can take from the successes of LBJ legislatively? I know you don't want him to have those successes.
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR, "LBJ": No. I would love to have any kind of success to see government work.
But you asked the question, are there lessons he can take? Unfortunately, I don't think there are any lessons because he is not willing to learn. He doesn't want to learn. And that's really the tragedy of what we see right now. He doesn't have any understanding of how government works and he doesn't want to learn.
Lyndon Johnson came up from the bottom. He came from poverty. He came into the legislature when FDR was president. He was leader of the senate. He understood how government worked.
But he had a strength, which was the ability to get things done and, unfortunately, you ask that question, I don't know that Trump would be able to - I wish he could take some lessons, but I don't think he will.
TAPPER: And, Woody, this is the third actual person that you've played. You've played Larry Flynt in "The People vs. Larry Flynt", you played McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt in "Game Change" and now you're playing LBJ.
How did you become him? Beyond the latex, how did you try to inhabit him? It's the first one of these characters that you've played that you didn't get to actually meet.
HARRELSON: Yes. Well, I tried to focus on how he moved. And there is a lot of him. But what really bogged me down was how he talked because we are both from Texas and you'd think there'd be a benefit. In some ways, it is.
But he is also from the hill country and it's a very different way of speaking. Rob would see me all the time freaking out about - that wasn't right, Rob. We should do that again because - and he'd just go, relax, you just chill out!
[06:50:13] He wanted me to embody the humanity of -
REINER: And the essence of him. And that's really what we wanted. I don't think people are going to nit-pick exactly the outside of Houston accent as opposed to the hill country.
He had everything that I wanted to see because Johnson was a very complicated Shakespearean type character. As much as he had the bravado and arm twisting and bull in the China shop, he was also incredibly insecure. And we wanted to show that.
And that's why Woody - I was lucky to get Woody because he has all that humanity, all the humor. I'm not just saying because you're here.
HARRELSON: No, it's very nice. It's always lucky to walk with you. You're one of the greatest directors of all time.
REINER: I paid him a little to say that.
HARRELSON: But I've got to say Brian Cranston did help me quite a bit. He played LBJ in "All the Way." And heh really helped me. Like, I talked to him on the phone. He connected me with people in Austin and connected me to go out to the ranch and to the library and really, like, helped me out.
And I was like, I can't believe you're doing this. I'm not sure I'd do this for you. He says, no, it's not competition. It's a big tent. Let's fill it.
TAPPER: That is beautiful. And the movie is "LBJ." It opens nationwide in theaters on November 3rd. Woody Harrelson, Rob Reiner, thanks so much.
HARRELSON: Thank you.
REINER: Thanks for having us.
PAUL: Anybody else have a hard time (INAUDIBLE). He's so talented. He's so, so talented in everything he does. That's Woody.
So, later this morning, Jake Tapper is going to interview House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi talking about the GOP tax plan, the Democrats' agenda, where are they going? That's on "State of the Union". It's at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, next, Alec Baldwin returns to "Saturday Night Live" as President Trump. He talks to Paul Manafort and others while in the shower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can't you just pardon me?
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, PORTRAYING DONALD TRUMP: Unfortunately, it's not that simple, but we have a plan. The great plan. Isn't that right, Jeff?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[06:56:32] SAVIDGE: President Trump's Asia trip, charges for Paul Manafort, and forgetful testimony from Jeff Sessions.
PAUL: Yes. A busy political week, obviously, news week. "Saturday Night Live" all over it. They went down the list of topics point-by- point. And in one scene, all the main players - look at this - they're in a shower together! Why?
Look at Brian Stelter's face. I think he's trying to (INAUDIBLE) as well. CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources", one Mr. Brian Stelter. Was that your initial reaction to that?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I don't know if I'm supposed to laugh or cry, Christi.
But let's take a look at the clip. We can judge it for ourselves. President Trump said in an interview airing this morning that, as far as he knows, he is not under investigation. Obviously, Robert Mueller probe is the biggest overall story of the week and here is how "SNL" had some fun with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I wanted Mike to get his hands dirty too, OK? Because if I go down, I'm taking the church lady with me. All right? Mike, say cheese. Here we go. You say anything about this, Mike, I'll text that photo straight to Jesus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can't you just pardon me?
BALDWIN: Unfortunately, it's not that simple. But we have a plan. A great plan. Isn't that right, Jeff? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BALDWIN: I'm all yours, Jeff. I'll all yours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wearing a bathing costume that I got from my favorite place - the 1890s.
Plus, I thought we should all get used to wearing stripes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That's part of their take on the Manafort news, the indictments, the idea of the White House in crisis, with everybody trying to keep quiet.
It's interesting. There has been talk from the White House about this investigation wrapping up soon. But we know the Manafort trial won't start at least until May. So, "SNL" is going to have to come up with a lot of ways to talk about this.
Here is how "Weekend Update" weighed in. Marking the one-year anniversary of election day, you know that's on Wednesday, so here's what "Weekend Update" said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's almost the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump getting elected president. And to celebrate, Robert Mueller threw him a surprise party.
After the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also played Shooter McGavin in "Happy Gilmore," it was reported that Manafort has three different US passports and traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador with a phone he registered using an alias. So, I don't know what he is guilty of, but it's definitely not nothing. No one has three passports, a burner phone and good intentions, except maybe Santa Claus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: There we go. "Weekend Update" recapping the Manafort indictment, recapping the news from Mueller this week. I know it was all the way back on Monday, but when you look back at the last seven days, the Russia investigation probably is the overarching biggest news story of the week.
So, like I said, "SNL" is going to have a lot to say in the weeks, maybe months, maybe years to come.
PAUL: They do it so cleverly as well.
SAVIDGE: In many ways, the material almost writes itself certain weeks.
PAUL: It does. But it does make you wonder, Brian, if there are people out there who - you can push the line of respect because, at the end of the day, this is still a presidency.
STELTER: You're absolutely right. And I think Trump fans, his most loyal supporters are probably not watching "SNL" in the first place. And if they are, they probably aren't watching when they see Alec Baldwin in the shower.