Return to Transcripts main page


GOP Representative: President's Remarks About Haiti And Africa Were Racist; South Africa Protests Trump's Offensive Comments; Iran's President Trump Tried And Failed To Kill Nuclear Deal; Death Toll Climbs To 20, Four Still Missing In California. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 14, 2018 - 14:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Happening now in the Newsroom, the president under fresh fire over his vulgar comments.

SEN. JOHN LEWIS (D), G.A.: I think he is a racist.

SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), G.A.: Of course I think that's ridiculous.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: You're saying flat out, definitively the president did not say those words?

PERDUE: I'm saying that this is a gross misrepresentation.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), A.R.: I didn't hear that word either.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: You're saying it did not happening or you're - or you just don't recall?

COTTON: I didn't hear it, and I was sitting no farther away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): All as the state of Hawaii is reeling from a phony missile alert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to check out and head to the airport because I didn't want to stick around and see if this place was going to get blown up or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just hold on. Let me use your phone and let me call my wife and tell her I love her.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), H.I.: I think traumatic understates the experience that the people Hawaii went through yesterday. This was unacceptable that this happened, but it really highlights the stark reality that the people of Hawaii are facing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): CNN Newsroom starts now.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: Hello, thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savage in for Fredricka Whitfield. We're going to begin with the argument over what the president did or did not say in a crucial immigration meeting. The conflicting reports over the use of vulgar language firing up again today.


PERDUE: coming out of that meeting we heard a gross misrepresentation of what happened in that meeting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it was a gross misrepresentation. Senator Durbin has been very clear. Senator Graham has told others that the reports were basically accurate. Are you saying the president did not use the word that has been so widely reported?

PERDUE: I'm telling you he did not use that word, George, and I'm telling you it's a gross misrepresentation. How many times do you want me to say that?

COTTON: I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.

DICKERSON: So you're saying in that room, you didn't hear any of this sort of lumping everybody together. Is that what you're saying?

COTTON: I did not hear derogatory comments about -

DICKERSON: But the sense -

COTTON: - individuals or persons. No.

DICKERSONL: OK, so this sentiment is totally phony as well that is attributed to him.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), A.Z.: All I can say is I was in a meeting directly afterwards where those who had presented to the president our proposal spoke about the meeting, and they said those words were used before those words went public, so that's all I can tell you is I heard that account before the account even went public.


SAVIDGE: The president is at his Florida golf club, and he's tweeting today blasting Democrats and declaring a bipartisan deal on DACA is probably dead. Let's start with our coverage of CNN White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, who is near the president's resort in Florida, and Boris, what's the president doing and talking about today?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Martin. Yes, the president is at Trump National Golf Course right now. It's where he spent the majority of the day though we've yet to be able to confirm with the White House that he's actually golfing. Martin, we're just five days away from a government shutdown, but negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have sputtered specifically on the issue of DACA and the legal status of Dreamers, these 800,000 young adults that were brought to the United States illegally as children, and that dispute was contentious before the president's reported comments this week. His comments on Haitians and African nations now injected controversy into the already wide gap between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. Not only can they not agree on policy now, but they can't seem to agree on what the president even said during this meeting.

Here's the president's tweet earlier today which you mentioned. He writes "DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it. They just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our military" despite the president's tweet, the Head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was on one of the Sunday morning talk shows saying that a deal was not dead though she was promoting the idea of separating the issue of DACA and immigration from any kind of budget deal, something that certain Democrats have said they simply will not do. Here's sound from Kirstjen Nielsen and Democratic Congressman John Lewis earlier today.


KIRSTJEN NIELSON, HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We need to fund our troops. We need to protect them. We need to increase homeland security. These are vital, national security interests we need to fund. To tie them to a DACA deal where the actual expiration data is in March is irresponsible.

LEWIS: Well, I for one would not vote for government funding until we get a deal on DACA.


SANCHEZ: The important thing to consider here, Martin, is that Democrats are going to be needed for Republicans to pass any kind of budget deal. We're no longer in the rules of reconciliation, so the will need 60 votes to get any kind of deal done. Democrats are obviously using that as leverage to push for a solution of the legal status of Dreamers. DACA, the program that gives these Dreamers legal status expires in March, so there's certainly pressure on both parties to get something done. The government, again, is expected to potentially shut down Friday, at midnight. So the pressures, on both parties, some republicans have said that they are willing to entertain the idea of having a stop get bill that will keep the government funded. Yet again, pushing the can, kicking the can further down the road, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we keep running up against these deadlines. Boris Sanchez, thank you very much. OK, plenty for us to discuss with the panel. Joining me now, Amie Parnes, she's a CNN political analyst and a senior political correspondent for The Hill.

Also will me is Julian Zelizer, he's a CNN political analyst and Princeton University historian and professor. Hello, to both of you.



SAVIDGE: So, Amy, I'll start with you. the president's tweet that DACA is probably dead and is the democrat's fault, what is that doing to the change of any kind of bipartisan deal?

PARNES: Well, ever since the comments came out from the other day, I've heard from democrats that is assailed the deal, they are frustrated. A lot of House democrats in particular don't want this deal to go forward any more. They want the president first of all to apologize for these comments and they're holding firm, they feel like they have leverage going into this and they don't want to bend at all.

They want to kind of keep firm and stand their ground and I think that's what happening here, what you're seeing play out. That they know that they kind of have the upper hand, and so I don't think you're going to see any concessions from them until they kind of get what they want here.

SAVIDGE: This controversy over the president's reported slur. It seems to be dividing republicans in a number of way, GOP senator Rand Paul decided to defend the president by attacking fellow senator Lindsey Graham for making a similar remark in the past. Lake a listen to this.


RAND PAUL, U.S. SENATOR: In 2013, Lindsey Graham said the exact same thing the president did but he used the word hell hole, that we can't have everybody coming from every hell hole on the plant to here. And now everybody thinks Lindsey Graham's a great statesman because he's put out this thing about American ideas and stuff. Which was a good statement but he said almost the identical thing to the president in 2013.

So I think we have a selective remembering and we've decide that - and people has -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But wait, wait, wait - hasn't the president


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, Senator, hasn't the president earned this skepticism on his own? I mean, he's the one tweeting these remarks.

PAUL: He has often not helped his case and I think if he were to further explain or try to explain and maybe not use such coarse langue, it wouldn't be this way.


SAVIDGE: Julian, where does this lead the GOP as he tries to find a bipartisan immigration deal and negotiates a way to try to advert a government shut down?

ZELIZER: I think it's extremely hard on the immigration deal. Democrats have all the leverage they need at this point. The president's remark and many republicans are not saying it didn't happen. So that's the division, our inflammatory and suggests the president's heart is still with very hard line elements in the country on immigration. And a few days ago, the House republicans were insisting on an immigration bill that is pretty jaconet in terms of security and much more down the democrats are going to allow. None of this adds up to the potential fro a bipartisan deal and certainly the president's remarks will give any democrat pause that this is a president they could enter into a good faith agreement with on immigration.

SAVIDGE: Let me ask you this, Julian. Do you think it gives democrats strength to possibly go in and say, you know what? We may have to have a government shutdown here?

ZELIZER: Well, in the end, it won't be their call. I mean, the other way to think about it is if the democrats can tell the president and the republicans will vote for something that's reasonable but ultimately, it's on you.

but I do think democrats are feeling that way right now, that this is not their responsibility, that the ownance is on the republicans to offer something that will work for the democrats and it's the republican president who has blown up the possibility for a bipartisan deal that a few days ago, he was promising to achieve.

So I think a lot of democrats are willing to go there right now and in some ways replicate some of the republican playbook from the Obama years.

SAVIDGE: It is amazing how just a couple of days ago, this seemed like such a done deal or at least, everyone seemed to be getting very close to that. Democrats continue now to handle the president for using the vulgar term for African countries. Here's what congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis has to say.


JOHN LEWIS, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It's unreal. It's unbelievable. It made me sad. It made me cry. As a nation and as a people we've come so far, we made so much progress. We've come so far, we made so much progress, and I think this man, this president is taking us back to another place.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Do you think President Trump is a racist?

LEWIS: I think he is a racist.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain it or what do we do about it?

LEWIS: We have to stand up; we have to speak up and not try to sweep it under the rug.


SAVIDGE: Almost lost in this Amy, is the fact that this DACA deal, which now does look questionable, there are a lot of people, young people, some of them not so young anymore, who are counting on this to prevent themselves being deported. Do you think that the debate over what the President may or may not upset has now destroyed their opportunity, at least in the time being?

PARNES: Well yes, a lot of these lives kind of hang in the balance right now and I think that's why Democrats, this is an issue they really care about. This is an issue that President Obama really cared about and this is why they really want to hold firm on this.

So, I think it's -- they see what's happening and at 2018, the midterm elections are coming up. They -- this an issue they firmly care about. This is an issue that they will take home and say, we defended this.

This was something that we really cared about, that we negotiated for and here's the President who kind of said this remark and then at Republicans who actually wouldn't even admit that it was wrong.

So, I think this is something that they can take home and campaign on in the future and that's why you're not going to see them sort of try to rush into any agreement right now. That they don't want to rush into a budget agreement because they feel like, as Julian said, that this is on Republicans. So, I think they feel like they're doing the right thing and they have the leverage, as we said before.

SAVAGE: And Julian, I'd love to get your take on another issue and that is the lack of reaction or the President's lack of comment on Twitter about the false missile alert in Hawaii that, of course, created so much fear and shock yesterday. He is the Commander in Chief after all.

ZELIZER: It's stunning and it's hard to explain that there is no real reaction other than a tweet about the author of the book that's bothering him. So, I don't know what's in the President's mind, but again, it comes back to this question of, what's his sensibility as a leader and does he have a feel for the right moments to say things and the wrong moments to be quite.

And yesterday was the wrong the moment not to offer assurances this would not happen again and to acknowledge that the government was going to take every step to ensure that our systems are working and that there wouldn't be a repeat of what happened yesterday. But, that's not what we heard. Instead we heard about Michael Wolff's book.

SAVAGE: Yes, it would have been a good time to really speak up. Amie Parnes and Julian Zelizer, thanks very much. Good to see you both.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

PARNES: Thank you.

SAVAGE: And talking about just that issue. Panic in paradise. Officials are demanding answers after that false alarm that was sent out warning Hawaiian residents to seek shelter of an incoming ballistic missile.


UKNOWN MALE: We put the baby in the bathroom. Didn't know what else to do and the stroller in case we had to run.



SAVIDGE: A lot of questions today after an erroneous alert sent out yesterday to people in Hawaii warning them to take cover because of an imminent missile strike.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii. A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes.


SAVIDGE: You can imagine what came next. Chaos ensued after that false alert went out. People scrambled to find cover in what they thought were their final moments. It took 38 minutes before a correction alert was sent out. So when and how did all this happen?

Well it started at 8:05 AM local time during a shift change. A routine internal test was initiated involving the emergency alert system. Then at 8:07 AM, a statewide warning was erroneously triggered by an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. At 8:10 the U.S. Pacific Command validated there was no missile launch.

At 8:20 AM, 13 minutes after the false alarm was sent out, Hawaii Emergency Management issued a public notification of cancellation via Facebook and Twitter. And finally, at 8:45 AM, 38 minutes later, after receiving authorization from FEMA, Hawaii EMA issued a civil emergency message cancelling the false alert. A lot of people looking for answers today.

The Honolulu star advisor calling out the mishap with the headline, oops, wrong button. That's go straight to CNN's Sara Snider, she's live in Honolulu. And you've been speaking to officials, what more have you learned, Sara?

SARA SNIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, it depends on the officials that I speak with. A state legislator has told me that he was huddling with his family in their bathtub. His daughter looked up at him and said, daddy, are we at war? And he said yes.

Speaking very emotionally, tears in his eye, he reacted very much the same way as many people in Hawaii reacted who saw those warnings, both on television, radio and more importantly, their cell phones because it said that this was not a drill. Here's how people reacted to all this. And then I'll tell you a little bit about what authorities are doing to try to keep it from ever happening again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to stay calm when you don't know what's happening, kept looking out the window in case we saw something. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immediately notified the hotel that I wanted to

check and head to the airport because I didn't want to stick around to see if stuff was going to get blown up or not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sent a message to my grandkids at home and it just -- it made me realize, my god, I could have never seen them again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not enough time to probably get in and get home. So I just told them, let me use your phone and let me call my wife and tell her I love her.


SNIDER: Now, Vern Miyagi who is the administrator state Emergency Management Agency said he is in there, they have been looking at these procedures, this all happened during a shift change which there are three of inside the state warning point.

That is just behind me in the Diamond Head crater there in a bunker actually and that's where they operate. Said there was shift change, there was -- they were testing the systems and the wrong button was pushed. That was how it was told to me and to the public as well. We will be speaking to them a bit later on about what exactly they are doing to stop this from happening again.

But one thing we should make clear is that now that people had this scare, there's a lot of talk here, something the government had wanted earlier about what to do in case there is an attack. People are discussing that. Where would they go and what do they need in their homes? The government was the first in the nation to upgrade its alarm and alert system. It's alert system, the sirens that would go off. This is certainly not how they wanted to warn the public though. Martin?

SAVIDGE: Sara Sidner, thanks very much, coming up from the worry about war that never happened to a real war that is brewing between the President and the media. Did Trump actually say he has a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un in his interview with the "Wall Street Journal"? We've got the audio that's next.


SAVIDGE: President Trump slamming the Wall Street Journal saying the paper intentionally misquoted his remarks about his remarks about his relationships with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This morning the president tweeted this, "The Wall Street Journal stated falsely that I said to them I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un. Obviously I didn't say that. I said I'd have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un. A big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. Fake news." Well the White House then released their audio recording of the interview.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

SAVIDGE: In response the Wall Street Journal released their audio version of the interview.

TRUMP: With that being said, President Xi has been extremely generous with what he said. I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him. As you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. I would - I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.

SAVIDGE: All right. Joining me now to discuss CNN Media Analyst Bill Carter and CNN Political Analyst Amie Parnes. Bill, let me start with you. Do those recordings sound the same?

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Pretty much. And, what are we arguing about here. You know, you can parse this down. I guess you need to bring in CSI or somebody to break it down but really I think it sounds like Wall Street Journal has every right to say what they said. It sounds like it could be I and maybe it's I'd but I think they're arguing about this because they're looking for a distraction, I think, from the - from the other story about Africa and Haiti.

I think it's kind of a smokescreen. It really doesn't seem to make that much difference really.

SAVIDGE: I suppose but initially when I heard this I was like wow as many people might have been in the sense of thinking they've already been talking or somehow they've already been communicating.

CARTER: Excatly.

SAVIDGE: And that -

CARTER: Well, remember -

SAVIDGE: ... trigger here.

CARTER: Remember if you go onto the interview they do ask him have you been talking.


CARTER: Because they - that's what they thought he said and he says well I'm not going to tell you about that. So, it was pretty obvious from the interview that Wall Street Journal reporters thought he said that and you can - and then you obviously extrapolate that they didn't do this to try to trap him which is what they're saying or create fake news, they were under the impression that he said that.

And, let's face it Trump often says things that make people scratch their heads. So, they have reason to wonder whether or not this is what he meant.

SAVIDGE: And, it's also a little interesting that although the audio was the same the version that was released by one versus the White House little bit different. We'll talk about that in a minute. Amie, the White House press secretary, that's Sarah Sanders of course posted the audio along with this message, "The fake news is at again."

Is this public spat with the Journal really the best way to go about solving the question over who said what about North Korea?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Probably not and I think what they're doing is they're trying to pivot. They are trying to distract from what happened on Friday with these remarks that the president made at the DACA meeting.

But I think they're using this moment to kind of - it hasn't played in the right way either because of the events in Hawaii yesterday, because the president and Sarah Sanders chose to focus on that and not so much on Hawaii and that's left a lot of people questioning well he is the commander in chief why is he focused on the Fire and the Fury and this Michael Wolff book and why is he focused on this Wall Street Journal spat.

So I think it's just another thing. He likes to play to his base. He likes to, kind of, excite them and fire up the fake news bandwagon. And so, I think that's what he's trying to do here.

SAVIDGE: Yes, well one would argue the reason he gets so upset about both of those is that they are attacks on him. Hawaii was not necessarily. Bill, Republican Senator Jeff Flake on ABC said this about the impact of Trump's attacks on the press.


JEFF FLAKE, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: When you reflexively refer to the press as the enemy of the people or fake news that has real damage. I has real damage to our standing in the world and I noted how bad it is for a president to take what was popularized by Joseph Stalin, the enemy of the people, to refer to the press. I just want to - want the president to know that this has real consequences.


SAVIDGE: It does have real consequences, right, Bill?

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: We have seen the consequences. There are dictators around the world who are basically saying even in the United States the press is the enemy. I think it's very interesting that the "Wall Street Journal" is dragged into this.

Because let's face it, the "Wall Street Journal" is run by the close friend of Mr. Trump, Rupert Murdoch. They are very pro-Trump and had a famous meeting where they told the reporters you are not being exactly fair to him. You can figure that very careful.

You also have to point, and it comes at the same time the "Wall Street Journal" broke this story about the payoff to the porn star. This is something the White House is again trying to go on the attack. These stories are piling up and you can't really put the "Wall Street Journal" in among the unfavorable media that he usually likes to beat up.

SAVIDGE: Right. Correct, I got you there. Amie, earlier this week, the White House did have to issue a correction with the transcripts from the president's bipartisan DACA meeting when the president agreed with the Democrat was left out. Two times in one week where there are questions about what was actually said by the president. How harmful is this?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn't make anyone look good. It just questions what's happening here. I thought it was interesting that the president said they were going to start recording interviews. As a White House reporter, the White House always had someone this there recording interviews anyways. So that was interesting to me.

But the fact that he needed to say that and kind of make it known that they were going to do that was also interesting. It doesn't look good to anyone. Like I said before, he is just trying to kind of fuel the fire and continue. This was all an aim to distract and to also fire up his base.

He's not a fan -- it's funny, he is a fan of the media. I would say secretly he likes the media. He does have meetings with a lot of reporters. He tends to talk to the "New York Times" even though he bashes them. It is another way to distract a lot.

SAVIDGE: Well, I don't doubt actually that he does like the media. It has benefitted him in a lot of ways. But Bill, I will say I was in Ohio talking to supporters of the president and they have a very negative opinion of mainstream media and they all believe that we are actually colluding to drive this president out of office. That is extremely harmful.

CARTER: Well, he has been very successful with that message to his base and let's face it, he has his own media outlets that will work as megaphones for him. He has a whole network that basically takes his point of view on everything.

So, he can, you know, use that to say, look, they are basically obsequious and do everything I say and parrot everything I say. His base listens to them exclusively. Most of those people probably have that opinion about mainstream media and never pay attention to it. They only watch Fox News.

They don't pay attention to it. He hammers that point. It doesn't really work with the rest. Everybody else is getting the message and the message has been so uniformly negative toward him because the news is negative. I don't think it's effective outside that very hardcore base, but that seems to be all he cares about.

SAVIDGE: Right. And it is creating a huge political divide. Bill Carter and Amie Parnes, thank you both.

PARNES: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: The global outrage over the president's vulgar remarks about Haiti and Africa are not slowing down. South Africa is set to launch a formal protest to the U.S. Embassy tomorrow. We are live on the scene after the break.



SAVIDGE: President Trump is facing more criticism over his vulgar comments from immigrants from Haiti and Africa. Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah, a Haitian-American said today on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," she believes the president's remarks were racist. She spoke exclusively with our Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Your parents are immigrants from Haiti. You are the first Haitian-American elected to the United States Congress. How did it feel to hear these comments from the president?

REPRESENTATIVE MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: Well, Jake, I can't defend the indefensible. You have to understand that there are countries that do struggle out there, but they are people. The people are good people and they are part of us. We are Americans. You have to understand that my parents, they came from Haiti. They worked hard. They paid their taxes.

When they pledged their allegiance to the American flag and became U.S. citizens, they meant every word of it and they did everything they could to talk on not just the benefits, but the responsibilities of what it meant to be an American citizen.

You have to understand I'm a product of that. I am the American dream. That's what we are. Those are not just American values, but they are certainly Utah values and values that we all hold dear. It was really difficult to hear especially because my parents were such big supporters of the president.

And I think that we have to do everything we can to make sure that we are coming from a place of compassion and we are speaking for a place of kindness. That is the at least minimal standard here.


SAVIDGE: And President Trump's offensive remarks were also triggering responses around the world. South African officials are about to send a formal protest to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria.

CNN correspondent, David McKenzie is in Johannesburg. David, they are asking for an explanation from the president, right?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Martin. This controversy of the president's remarks on Africans, Haitians and others really has conditioned to steam roll in the African continent. This is a huge headache for the U.S. State Department.

[14:40:02] The South African government is hauling in the head of the embassy here in South Africa for what can only be seen as a dressing down to explain the statements of the president in light of the outrage that spread throughout this continent.

You've had president, the president of Ghana, for example, ambassadors to the U.N., just ordinary citizens online and on the streets, all throwing up their hands in outrage at the statements.

Sometimes you see them dying down a lot quicker, but because this is the latest alleged racist comments coming from the president. I think it's reached a threshold. Now interestingly, Martin, they will be hauling (inaudible). That's the second in command of the embassy here in South Africa.

President Trump more than a year in hasn't yet nominated the key role of ambassador to South Africa and also in several other key African nations. So, there is a sense that the State Department is working in a way to try to push the president's statements to the side.

They are kind of having an uphill battle here because they keep on being undermined say many by the president and the commander-in-chief of the U.S. -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Both by the words of the president and inaction apparently. David McKenzie, thank you very much.

Still ahead, today the president of Iran mocking President Trump's handling of the nuclear deal. We will have his harsh critique right after the break.



SAVIDGE: This weekend, the president signed the Iran sanctions waiver, which was part of the Iran nuclear deal. He said he was doing it for the last time, but he also entered a new set of sanctions. Iran's president, Rouhani, spoke about that deal last night. Here's what he said.


PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator): Our diplomats wrote this agreement that I'm not saying is flawless, but it's a contract that Mr. Trump has been trying for a year and even before his election to break, but hasn't been successful.


SAVIDGE: We want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labbot. Elise, President Rouhani's position may seem to be a bit weakened after all as a result of that recent anti-government protest that took place all across this country.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, it's really interesting what's going on in Iran right now and vis-a-vis what the U.S. says that it wants to do. Clearly, those protests are against the economy and are against what is happening across Iran, but it's also you have seen more so that in recent protests, Marty, that they are protesting the regime.

You know, the clerics and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that has a very strong grip on the economy. When you listen to what President Trump and his administration talks about looking at the wider range of activities in the region, they say that they want to split the Iranian regime from the government and stop that grip on the economy and show the Iranian people how dangerous the regime is to the economy.

It doesn't seem like the administration really understands that in order to do that it does have an opportunity here. Clearly, President Rouhani has been speaking out against some of the things that the clerics and the IRGC are doing because it saves him politically.

But if he really wanted to as officials tell me wanted to kind of increase the fissures and the division in Iran, it has an opportunity right now with people such as President Rouhani or Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.

I'm not saying those people are perfect, far from it, but there is a split right now going in Iran that the U.S. does have an opportunity to exploit and it says it wants to do that.

SAVIDGE: It's possible, yes. We could be missing a moment. I have someone to bring in at this point, Aaron David Miller, spent more than 20 years at the State Department as an adviser and is a CNN global affairs analyst.

Aaron, President Trump said no more waivers on Iran sanctions. Is that a real threat and what happens now?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, first of all, Marty, it's great to see you and Elise. I think the president's policy frankly resembles straight out of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. We are through our third certification process and every time the president blustered and suggested rhetorically that he is done with the deal, and yet, we are now number three.

Now, he is threatening again three or four months from now if the Europeans and our Congress don't find some way to modify and improve the terms, he is going to walk. Unclear. That's also true for his rhetoric on Iran and the region.

He continues to talk about what Mike Flynn did. To talk about putting Iran on notice and confronting the Iranians in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the gulf. Haven't seen much of that either.

So, I think the administration's policy frankly and I think it's fortuitous on this narrow issue is at war with itself and the president hasn't walked from a flawed, but still function of the deal.

SAVIDGE: You know, Aaron, I was curious that this deal especially for Iranians, it was sold to them by their own leaders that it was going to improve their economy and life would be much better. That hasn't happened and there is that backlash. Is it possible that Iranian leaders are looking for the way out? MILLER: Well, the problem for the Iranians, I think, is that the economy is so badly mismanaged. There's so much corruptions. It's so statist in orientation. It's an extractive economy.

[14:50:05] It gives to those who are privileged the clerical establishment, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but it doesn't give to the people who need it, which is the vast majority of lower and middle-class Iranians.

So, I don't think the Iranians -- they are looking for a way out, Marty. The problem is if they won't repress the demonstrations and to date they haven't cracked on it in a massive way and they can't meet the needs of the Iranian people. It's only a matter of time frankly before something like this happens again.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Let's switch gears a bit. North Korea has come out, Elise, and claimed that Trump is being massively humiliated worldwide by that book "Fire and Fury." What does this signal to the rest of the world that these two leaders feel free to just attack the president?

ABBOTT: Well, look, this is not the first time that the North Koreans have logged increased rhetoric at a U.S. president. He's not the first, but clearly these two men, Kim Jong-un and President Trump have gotten in each other's head.

President Trump has said some pretty outrageous things about Kim Jong un. He's called him short and fat and Little Rocket Man, and then you had, you know, Kim Jong-un calling President Trump, you know, old crazy dotard.

So, I think, you know, people are trying to tune out what the rhetoric is. I think the concern is two things. That there could be a miscalculation that this, you know, rhetoric reaches a fever pitch and then there is a miscalculation.

I think they are just really more concerned about the North Korean missile program and what the U.S. is going to do to combat it and whether that rhetoric fits into it, I think they are just concerned about a miscalculation.

I don't think, you know, the insults -- you know, he certainly is not the only world leader that is lobbing insults to President Trump. Not only is the civil discourse in this country gone out of whack as you have been talking about, but in the world as well.

SAVIDGE: Aaron David Miller, good to see you. Elise Labott, good to see you as well.

MILLER: Good to see you, Martin. Take care.

SAVIDGE: The death toll is still climbing in California. At least 20 people have lost their lives after those mudslides that ravaged the region. We will be live on the ground next.


SAVIDGE: The death toll from California's mudslides keep climbing. Officials now say at least 20 people are dead and four more are still missing in the mud and debris that has barreled into Santa Barbara County.

Rescue crews are navigating the debris on all-terrain vehicles and others are in helicopters hoping to find more survivors. A vigil is planned later today for the victims.

Paul Vercammen joins us now live from Montecito with the very latest -- Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marty, let me just show you. They are searching for those missing still. It's a completely huge debris field. You can see what it did to the houses and these boulders rolling down this mountain from the fire zone.

Of course, this area is ravaged by the Thomas fire. We now know they went ahead and found two more people and that's why the number of missing is reduced. They found a 25-year-old woman who lost her 12- year-old sister.

This has been such a difficult task for the first responders trying to get in here to work through this and off in the distance, you can see more heavy equipment trying to clean out the area. It's been so difficult that man that we met up with went to the local staging area like the military.

They have an entire operation grid, 30 acres of this. He became a serial hand shaker. Walked up to any deputy or firefighter he could find and gave them a hearty hand shake. Let's listen as to why he came down there.


JOHN GRIFFITH, MONTECITO RESIDENT: They stood at attention and covered the body. They took their hats off and they shed a tear and treated that body like it was one of their own.


VERCAMMEN: He was talking about the reverence that these first responders showed because this is now more so sad to say, a recovery effort more than a search and rescue effort. I want to show you more pictures. You can gain a sense for how widespread this devastation is.

This sealed off points north of Montecito from the Los Angeles area and that's a huge factor economically. I was able to call three small businesses. One riding stables and hotel north of Santa Barbara and a restaurant. They are super concerned that people think these businesses are shut down forever. They are not.

One thing you can do to help. If you are a person who wants to have a vacation, though this looks terrible, these other businesses, Marty, are still open. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: Good to hear and good to know. Paul Vercammen, thank you very much. Incredibly frightening moments for passengers on a Pegasus Airlines flight in Turkey. The plane slid right off the runway and halfway down a cliff.

Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries after that nerve racking incident happened as the Boeing plane was landing, traveling from Ankara to Tradzone. We have much more just ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, the president under fresh fire over his vulgar comments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he is a racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I think that's ridiculous.