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Republicans React to Democratic Electoral Victories; Senators Susan Collins and Joe Manchin to Co-Chair No Labels; Trump: "I Don't Blame China" For Trade Deficit; Madeleine Albright On Trump's 12-Day Asia Trip, America's Diplomatic Status; Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But here's one thing for sure -- you two guys helped us out this morning and made us better on this topic. Thank you to both of you.


CUOMO: There is a lot of news. Let's get after it.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: There was a referendum on Trump, and Trump and the Republicans lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't fake the Trump agenda. You have to go all in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People want results. And we have to deliver results or we will have more election results like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump dramatically softening his once stern message to China on trade.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country.

I don't blame China. I give China great credit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is enormous to cooperate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best thing that he and his son can do is to just be truthful.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your

NEW DAY. It is Thursday, November 9th, 8:00 here in the east. A sobering scorecard for President Trump one year after his historic win. A new CNN shows Americans losing confidence and trust in the president. Just four in 10 say the president has kept his campaign promises and is bringing the kind of change the country needs.

CUOMO: After Tuesday's Democratic election sweep Republicans now are wrestling with whether to embrace or rebuke the president's rhetoric and handling of the issues. The GOP is now making a big push on their tax plan, but is it adding to what was promised or is it going to be something less than that? We're going to talk with two senators, both sides of the aisle focused on building consensus in Washington. How about that?

Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. These are damning new numbers for Republicans who are looking at one year into the Trump presidency, more and more Americans losing confidence in this president's performance, including within his own party. And of course the blame game here on Capitol Hill in full force as they look at the Tuesday losses. Many quietly, some even openly asking whether or not aligning with this president will cost them their majorities next year.


MALVEAUX: The Republican Party in damage control after a sweep of Democratic victories across the country. Some downplaying the results.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: This is a typical cycle. Most of these elections are decided by local circumstances.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Virginia, because of northern Virginia is not really a purple state. It's a blue state.

MALVEAUX: Others pointing the finger directly at President Trump.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: I do think we do better with a more inclusive message.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR, (R) VIRGINIA: I certainly think the overwhelming thing that was going on was the energy on the Democrat side, and that's definitely a referendum on the president.

MALVEAUX: A new CNN poll shows that 64 percent of Americans say their confidence in the president has decreased since he took office. One in four Republicans feel less confident about their party's leader. President Trump's divisive rhetoric taking a big toll on his ability to unite the country. Only 30 percent of Americans say they think the president can unite rather than divide the nation, and a 16 point drop among voters in his own party. The percentage of Republicans who think the president can bring needed change down 10 points since last November. House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledging that Tuesday's losses show that Congress needs to deliver on tax reform.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We have a promise to keep. If anything this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through.

MALVEAUX: A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican tax plan would add $1.7 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, higher than initially projected. Multiple sources tell CNN that President Trump personally lobbied Senate Democrats on a phone call Tuesday, attempted to garner support by insisting he would be a big loser if the GOP plan is signed into law, despite a report from the Tax Policy Center that shows that the largest cuts would accrue to higher income households.

CHARLES SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Donald Trump says this doesn't help the wealthy. Obviously it does. So all the claims they have made for this bill are belied by the bill itself.

MALVEAUX: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney insisting the plan will help middle class.

MICK MULVANEY, BUDGET DIRECTOR: At the end of the day, if we really believe think this is a middle class tax increase, he is not going to sign it.

MALVEAUX: But most Americans disapprove of how the president is handling taxes. Exit polls in Virginia show that taxes were not the issue that mattered most to voters. And 39 percent of Virginia voters said that health care was their number one issue when voting for governor. The Republican Party's failure to repeal and replace Obamacare clearly having an impact in the voting booth.


[08:05:08] CUOMO: Our thanks to Suzanne Malveaux for that.

So arguably the worst number in the poll for the president is that 30 percent of you don't think he can unite the country. That is down 13 points from a year ago. So tax reform is now the big bet for the GOP. Will that change that number? Will that breed unity?

Let's talk about unity with Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. They are the newly announced honorary co-chairs of No Labels, a group advocating bipartisan solutions in Washington. How come all the other lawmakers aren't throwing stones at you right now on my show here on NEW DAY?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: They are not up yet.

CUOMO: That's right, they are not up yet. So start with you, Senator Collins. It's good to have both of you on the show, as always. What is this No Labels thing about? What is your hope for No Labels?

COLLINS: Our hope is that with the support of members of No Labels all across our country that we can begin a process of bringing people together in Washington to listen respectfully to one another and forge bipartisan solutions. When legislation is passed with input from both parties we get far better products in the end. And we recognize that this is the first step, but we want to energize the middle. I am convinced that most Americans want us to work together, and yet the debate in Washington is too often hyper-partisan and driven by the ideological groups on the far left and the far right rather than the sensible center.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Let me just say --

CUOMO: Please, senator.

MANCHIN: When I first came in November of 2010 after the death of Senator Byrd, and I was a two-term governor and I made the decision to come, and people were kind enough to send me here, the only group I found that was willing to look to the middle to find a pathway forward and find solutions for the challenges and problems we have was No Labels. It was Democrats and Republicans, it was CEOs, it was rank and file country that are just interested in their country. And it has grown and grown, and I've been involved ever since.

Susan has always been there listening and working with us and now coming on as the co-chair, I just could not have a better partner. But it was Susan and I in 2013 when the government shut down that started looking for a pathway forward. It was hurting the people of West Virginia and Maine. We were able to bring a bipartisan group together to find that pathway to open government back up.

Just recently the Affordable Care Act, and we saw what happened there. It was Susan and I that signed on to the bill with Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander, and we have a good piece of legislation that will pass immediately whenever Mitch McConnell puts it on the floor. It's going to pass.

CUOMO: That's a big if, though. Senator, let me infuse cynicism into this unheralded optimism coming at me on the show this morning. But it's not coming to a vote any time soon from our latest reporting, and you see what is going on with taxes. There seems to be stakes out of division, even within the GOP, let alone when it comes to the Democrats. So how do you deal with these entrenched challenges, Susan Collins, or Joe Manchin, go ahead?

COLLINS: First of all, I think we are going to see a very healthy debate on overhauling our tax code, which is desperately needed and hasn't been done since 1986. We do need to provide tax relief to hardworking middle-income families, to our small businesses. And this bill appears to accomplish some of those goals.

We are still waiting for it to be unveiled. But here's the difference. The tax bill unlike the health care bill is going to go through a full markup in the Senate finance committee where both Democrats and Republicans will be able to offer their ideas, to debate the issues, and to amend the bill. That's the way the process should work. And that's very different from the way the health care bills were crafted.

MANCHIN: Chris, this is the first time in the history of the United States of America that we have ever used a budget reconciliation to do a major policy overhaul.

CUOMO: Explain why people should care about that, by the way.

MANCHIN: First of all, it brings it down to a 51 vote margin, and basically any party in power is going to have the 51 vote margin. So you can do it simply the same as the House does it with a simple majority. That's not what the framers of this great country set it up in a bicameral way.

[08:10:01] Susan and I both believe our parties, our respective sides are wrong when they try to go it alone. We both believe that and we always reached across to see if we could find a group of people that wanted to work in the middle. That's really who No Labels has always been. Everything No Labels does is in a bipartisan way. It's not from one side ideologically or the other. And that's what we like about that and that's why we are proud to be part of it. But we're looking for that.

Now, Susan says we are going to go into this, if they go into it openly looking for basically to energize and make it better or a better piece of legislation, that we help the middle class, that we really help the working class, that we really help small businesses, and we don't continue to pile on more debt for our children and future generations, then we can come up with a good product, and we are hoping that's where the president will be. As a Democrat I want to work with the president and I want us to be successful. But I'm going to be true to who I am and who I represent, West Virginians, they want some relief on getting a paycheck. When they see the bottom line of that paycheck, do they have any more? And are you going to make our children pay for what they are getting today? That's common sense.

CUOMO: You had a 51 vote trigger on the reconciliation for health care, and that wasn't enough to get it done, Susan Collins.

COLLINS: That's true, and I think it's because those bills did not go through any kind of hearing process despite the fact that they were making sweeping changes and cuts.

CUOMO: So that's the difference. You need the mark up -- the difference fundamentally with what you are proposing is you can't just go to the vote and have it done in the smoky room environment. You have to have a markup, you have to have a debate, you have to get it up there, you have to do it the hard way, and then the 51-vote trigger becomes efficacious.

MANCHIN: Here's what I am concerned about if I can say that I'm concerned what the House just went through a so-called markup. It was right down party lines. Every amendment was voted party lines either for or against. The Senate has more or less tried to always find and balance it out a little better. So we have to hope this markup is open. When you have people like Susan Collins or John McCain and people that know what this institution is about and will go with what they believe is right, that makes the Senate just a little bit different.

COLLINS: Chris, I am not saying our partnership with No Labels going to solve every problem involving hyper-partisanship and divisiveness in this country. Obviously it's not. But what is exciting to me is that there is an energized group of people who are in the center and they are willing to start backing and working with those of us who have always believed that compromise and listening to others produces better legislation.

CUOMO: I hear you.

MANCHIN: Chris, as Susan always says, we are in the radical middle.


CUOMO: Anything compromise driven could be radical right now. Let me ask you something, let me put something else on your plate. There's all this talk about existential threat coming from North Korea, and I am not saying it's unfounded, and yet there is still foot dragging on an open debate and accountability for the authorization use of military force. You had General Mattis go in there, and he gave you guys a political opinion about whether or not you should have one. That's not how the constitution works. That's now how this legislative duty works. You are not supposed to take his take on whether or not there should be legislation. That's on you guys. Do you think you can help generate a real debate where the American people can see their representatives, discuss what force should be used, where our blood and treasure should be expended?

MANCHIN: I truly do, and I have supported AMF reauthorization. I think we need to sit down, and I represent people in my state of West Virginia who thinks 16 years is too long, what is the end game? How do you exit? If there ever going to be an exit? How much toll are we going to take? How much blood are we going to shed, and how much treasure are we willing to spend?

This is something very much concerning to the people of West Virginia. Are we getting drug into another one? Syria, we're over into Syria, and who is coming out ahead on Syria? Is it going to be Iran? Is it going to be Russia? And then China with North Korea, why isn't China engaging? Why are they still sitting on the sidelines? Why are they allowing a nation that totally depends on them and not putting their foot down and saying this kind behavior is not going to be accepted? We need to be able to say if this doesn't happen this is what we think we should be doing. It's far past 16, 17 years, and we need a new authorization for AUMF.

COLLINS: Congress has really abdicated its constitutional responsibility in this area. You are absolutely right. I know there have been a lot of hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee, but we need to move forward. It is our responsibility. And it is also an important part of the checks and balances that were built into the constitution.

We recognize that the president is the commander-in-chief and obviously has the authority to respond to an imminent threat against our country, but we are talking about the long-term engagement of troops potentially and a strategy for dealing with everything from the ongoing terrorism threat to North Korea, and that's a debate we should be having in Congress.

MANCHIN: We also, Chris, can identify the eminent threat because people are concerned what an imminent threat might be to me or to Susan or to Congress might be different to the executive branch. So, these are things we can put clarity to, and we really should.

CUOMO: Can, should, usually a big space between the two. We look forward to any progress. Everybody says we are better than this. We are only as good as what we do. Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Susan Collins, a formidable duo. We wish you well.

COLLINS: Thank you, Chris.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, the president changing his tone. He now does not blame China for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade. What has he actually accomplished on this Asia trip? Former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, joins us next.


CAMEROTA: During his 12-day Asia trip, President Trump is praising China for the very trade practices he once referred to as raping the U.S.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country of being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens.

[08:20:11] I give China great credit, but in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.


CAMEROTA: OK, here with her reaction to the president's Asia trip, former secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and now chair of the Albright Stone Bridge Group, Madeleine Albright. Madam Secretary, thank you very much for being here.


CAMEROTA: What do you think of the president's change of tune on China?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I'm frankly trying to sort it out because it goes back and forth. Clearly, he is trying to make himself popular with President Xi, but I think kind of overdoing the sycophancy of saying how wonderful he is and what a really good friend he is.

But what really troubles me is something that I've said before, which is I don't want to hear him saying all the time how we are weak and people taking advantage of us and America is a mess. I think that's very sad and a very wrong message for the president of the United States to be delivering when he is on such a truly important trip in Asia.

CAMEROTA: The China one is so striking. I mean, he used violent terms on the campaign trail. Just as, you know, coarse language, I mean, he said that China was raping us. He said China was just -- you know, it's hard for me not to be vulgar in talking about how he said it. So, now he's saying like I give you credit for it. So, this is just his version of diplomacy?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I am trying to figure out whether he is trying to be nuanced, which is not a word I usually apply to him, but basically trying to sort some way to get China to be helpful on North Korea, which is truly the essential part and I hope that is the very much the message throughout the trip.

But I think that he is very mixed in terms of the way he feels. He always does bring up the trade issues. He did that in South Korea also. I think that that is, in his head, the major issue that he wants to deal with is to, quote, "fix the trade." But in the meantime, he has to deliver some other messages.

CAMEROTA: So, let's talk about. What do you think the upshot will be of this 12-day Asia trip? Do you think that he will have gotten any traction with stopping North Korea's either missile testing or at least sabre rattling?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that he will be gathering as much help as possible. I think the combination -- I have to say that some of the things that happened when he was in Seoul were very important in terms of showing that we had the military strength, three strike groups, aircraft carrier strike groups and a submarine and all that --

CAMEROTA: So, you think that's helpful? To move those into place, you think that that gets Kim Jong-un's attention and changes his behavior?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think what is important is to realize the tools in the toolbox. You have to use a combination of diplomacy, which I do think there was some beginnings in that in terms of saying that they should talk and kind of the support of force. You have to be careful in the way that you kind of syncopate those two particular tools.

CAMEROTA: On the president's schedule for tomorrow is a meeting with Vladimir Putin. What should we expect?

ALBRIGHT: Well, again, it's very hard to figure out. I mean, he is trying to show again that he and Putin are very good friends and at the same time, there has been a breakdown in a lot of the discussions with the Russians.

And what I find interesting is there's been a meeting of NATO defense ministers in which we are moving, according to the reports that I have heard, more heavy equipment and support in Eastern Europe. That is not going to make Putin very happy.

CAMEROTA: So, why do you think we are doing that?

ALBRIGHT: Well, because I do think that the Russians are pushing in terms of some of the things that they keep doing in Ukraine and concerned about threats in the Baltic. So, the point here, Alisyn, is that this is hard. This is a very complicated time and you need a president who can understand how these various forces play together and at the same time achieve what is essential, the protection of the American people.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk about what's happening at the State Department because it sounds as if there are all sorts of high-level seasoned diplomats that are leaving. Sixty percent of these -- lots have left since January.

So, here is where the vacancies are that we know. I mean, this is just on the website if it's been updated, but here are the vacancies, deputy department -- secretary of state for management, undersecretary, one for public diplomacy and public affairs, arms control and international security, and economic growth, energy, and the environment.

Here's what Ambassador Barbara Stevenson is trying to sound the alarm of what's been happening. She says, "Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed. Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks, I would expect a public outcry." What do you think is happening at the State Department?

[08:25:05] ALBRIGHT: Well, I have to tell you had trouble finding the words to discuss China, and I am having trouble finding words here because I find it appalling. We need our diplomats. We need a functioning State Department.

If you are talking about state craft and how things are done internationally, you can't do it without the people and it's an insult. That's the word. It's an insult to those people that have dedicated their lives to being part of our diplomatic service and to being those who go and live abroad and represent the United States.

I am appalled. The State Department was the first department. It's essential and it needs to be supported, first of all, by the secretary of state himself.

CAMEROTA: President Trump was on Fox News last week and he said they are not all need, and those are not really, sort of, fundamental positions. Let me play this for you for a second.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We don't need all the people that they want. You know, don't forget, I'm a business person, and I tell my people where you don't need to fill slots, don't fill them. But we have some people that I'm not happy with there --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But secretary of state, you are not getting rid of that position?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: But let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I am the only one that matters.


ALBRIGHT: I really do think, again, we are a democracy. We are a country that really respects the people who are supporting in the government, who are the people that do their hard work and the president is important, but he is not the center of everything that happens.

I was with President Clinton on Monday because it was the 25th anniversary of his election, and he understood what you need to do with the government and how many people you need and the support. I am appalled at the way that this is being presented and the way the president talks about himself and those who are trying to help him.

CAMEROTA: Is it dangerous not to have these positions filled or would it just be better?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's dangerous because he's now on a truly important trip that presents huge opportunities that under normal circumstances needs support of the diplomats, one to prepare the trip and two, to back it up. We don't have an ambassador in South Korea. We do now in China.

But I really do think it's not just the ambassador, it's the people in Washington who dedicated their lives. You know what bothers me, too? I teach at Georgetown and that's where a lot of young people that want to go into the foreign service and serve our country are now wondering if it's worth it? Why should we do it? It's not just today, but what the future holds for American diplomacy.

CAMEROTA: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, always great to see you. Thank you so much.

ALBRIGHT: Good to see you. Thanks, Alisyn.


CUOMO: All right. So, the secretary is talking about expectations on this trip with the president. There are some new poll numbers from CNN that find that Americans expectations are not good. They are less confident in the president now than when he took office. The big question is why? David Gregory will deliver on that in the bottom line, next.