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Trump Blames Dems for Inaction on Dreamers; Expanded Gun Background Checks; West Virginia Teachers Strike; Stewart Accusation Regarding 9/11 Responders; North Korea Talks Dialogue Conditions. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:31:20] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So the president is up and tweeting robustly this morning.

Good morning, Mr. President.

He just tweeted about the Oscars and saying they're terrible ratings because we don't have stars anymore, except for him. Parentheses, just kidding, comma, of course.

Trump also blaming Democrats on Twitter this morning for what he says is total inaction to striking a deal on the fate of the dreamers. Are they to blame?

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Good to have, you senator.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Senator, are you Democrats refusing to help the dreamers when there is a real deal and a chance on the table?

MANCHIN: I think that really everyone stepped to the plate, all the Democrats on our spectrum. We have a pretty wide spectrum, as you know. But everyone seemed to step to the deal and embrace. A lot of people wanted it to go much further but they accepted the conciliatory deal. I thought there was a pathway forward. It came down about the parents. And I thought they worked through that.

But, at the end of the day, nothing was accomplished and nothing got done. And it's truly a shame.

The 2013 bill that we had was a tremendous bill. It was a total overhaul of the immigration policies we have in our country. Someone needs to face that.

The president has unusual power, unusual power with his base and also with a lot of the people in the Senate and in the House over on the other side that would follow if he -- you know, with his cover that he would give them. I'm hoping that he steps forward on that.

CUOMO: Well, one, it's refreshing to hear a politician admit that many of you down there are on the spectrum. We have -- we have suspected that ourselves for some time, and it's good to have it out there.

Two is, the president had trouble holding his own party together, to be honest, right? The hard-liners on the right wanted things that he had never really articulated himself and he couldn't get him to close the deal.

So the question becomes, do you think there's any chance that progress can overwhelm the political desire to be proved right in this instance?

MANCHIN: Someone's got to have the courage, Chris, to look at it.

Let's look at the Hastert rule, if you will, on the House side. What the Hastert rule really means, if you have the majority, which Republicans do, then you need to pass it with all Republicans supporting something. Sometimes that's impossible. And if you have to cater clear to the far extremes of the right or clear to the far extremes of the left, you're not going to be able to, you know, to fulfill that. You can't keep everybody.

Why not pick those off that are moderate on both sides and craft something that most of America would accept? Because you know why? People still run their lives from the center, from the middle. You don't run your life from the extremes. You don't run your show from the extremes. You run it trying to find the balance. And up here it almost penalizes you, Chris, if you try to find to find the balance.

CUOMO: But why, Joe? Let's take -- let's take a step deeper into it because, you know, when you look -- you ask people, what are you as a voter, how do you describe yourself? As many people say independent as say Democrat or Republican. Now, you don't have independents in Congress. I mean I know that you have Angus King and you have Bernie Sanders.

MANCHIN: There's Bernie.

CUOMO: Yes, right, but they're both really caucusing with the Democrats most of the time.


CUOMO: So independents haven't been made manifest because of the nature of the party system. Is that just the reality, that you're not going to get action just in the sake of progress. You're not going to get it. People are going to play to the edges. That's how it is.

MANCHIN: Well, let me just tell you, when they asked me that, they said, what's your politics? You've heard that, haven't you, what's your politics? I say, why do you care? Why don't you ask what my purpose is?

Why do I want to be in public service? What am I trying to accomplish? I'm not trying to accomplish something because of Democrats, it's a Democrat issue, or be against something because it's a Republican issue. I'm trying to accomplish something that moves the ball forward, that creates good policy for people to have good jobs, good opportunities, and good education, on and on and on. But, my goodness, people were saying, like, what side are you on, like it's a ballgame. Are we winning or losing?

[08:35:14] CUOMO: It seems like that.

And then you have the teams seem to be broken within their own teams within the team. I mean look at gun control.


CUOMO: You're from West Virginia.


CUOMO: You come from a gun culture. You come from a sporting and huntsman culture. So you have part of the Democratic Party is pushing for an assault weapons ban. Then you have another part of the party, and it's not just Joe Manchin. If people go back and look at what happened with an earlier vote on guns, the Democrats couldn't control their own caucus either. You had a number of people who weren't in favor of the mainline Democratic position as it was understood.

MANCHIN: We had four.

CUOMO: So where is the chance for progress on any of this stuff?

MANCHIN: Well, you know, I'm not going to -- we had four Democrats who did not support the Manchin-Toomey bill that we had. And I wrote the bill --

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: Back in 2013. And I had Tom Coburn working with me. Then I lost Tom's support on that. And then Pat Toomey came forward and Pat worked with me and we stayed together on that. It's the most reasonable -- it's not gun control. It's simply gun sense. All we said in our bill was, treat me as a law abiding gun owner. I'm not going to do something wrong just because I own a gun or want to buy a gun. I'm not going to create -- commit a crime. I'm not going to sell my gun to a stranger, to someone who's a criminal, to someone who's been adjudicated insane. I'm not going to do those things.

But don't you think it makes sense if I go to the gun show or someone goes to the gun show and nobody knows them and they go to one of the tables that's not a licensed dealer that has to do a background check --

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: Don't you think you ought to shut that down?

CUOMO: Common sense tells you that.

MANCHIN: Don't you think you ought to -- yes, the Internet --

CUOMO: But Republicans say to you, you can't enforce that kind of rule, so why even have it?

Before I --

MANCHIN: Oh, we can enforce that. We can enforce that. And also the fix the NICS bill --

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: We have that in our bill. Very stringent. And we basically penalize states and communities that do not turn in their records properly.

CUOMO: Right.

MANCHIN: We do that. We go through -- it's a good base bill. We're hoping the president would take it and use it as his base bill and do something common sense.

Most Americans support our bill. Over 70 percent of the strong gun owners support our bill. You have 80 percent to 90 percent of the general public. It's a good piece of registration.

CUOMO: Well, let's see what happens on that.

Let me ask you one more thing while I have you.

MANCHIN: Sure thing.

CUOMO: We've been covering the West Virginia teachers strike.


CUOMO: It is admirable that while you do have labor and management in a dispute over this management proxy here as the state legislature, you have the teachers filling up bags, making sure the kids get fed. I mean that is the exigency. You always want kids in school, obviously.

But you've got a quarter of these kids living at or below the poverty line. They need that breakfast and lunch. For many of them, they're the best chance at eating they're going to have all day. What can you do, you're on the federal level, obviously --


CUOMO: But what can you do to move what is really a battle over about $10 million to $13 million, right, in this budget to get these teachers the money they need? Is it going the happen?

MANCHIN: Well, here's the thing, Chris. Being a former governor, it's near and dear to my heart in my state and I love it and love everybody in that state and we try to work with them, I don't care whether they're a Democratic or Republican, whether they agree or disagree, this is about our children. The children should be in the classroom.

The educators, they all want to be in the classroom working with their children. The service personnel, this is one time that I've never seen before to where you have all the superintendents, all the administrators and all the educators, all the service personnel said, enough is enough, you've got to do something. If you want a strong economy, you want to offer good jobs, you want to make sure people have opportunities in West Virginia, you better have a good education system. They won't come unless you can educate their children.

With that being said, we're at the point now to where we have a Republican administration as far as the governor is a Republican, the House is a Republican led and so is the Senate. The governor put a proposal out. And I thank him for that. He put a 5 percent proposal out, which is acceptable. The House of Delegates confirmed it with Democratic colleagues working with them. The senate Republicans, for whatever reason, have dug in and says, no, we're not going to concede on this. And you have all the Democrat senators agreeing that we'll go ahead and confirm what the president -- what the governor wants to do and what the house wants to do. But the leadership of the Republican senators don't want to do that.

I don't know where the political rift is when you have control of all three branches in the state of West Virginia, you should be able to come up with a reasonable solution.

CUOMO: Especially when you're dealing with the difference between 4 percent and 5 percent on this scale, again, $10 million to $13 million.

MANCHIN: One percent.

CUOMO: It's a one percent difference.

MANCHIN: One percent keeping the kids out, Chris, one percent.

CUOMO: We'll stay on the story. We'll stay on this story, senator. We'll stay on it.

MANCHIN: Please do.

CUOMO: And we'll stay on what's happening and not happening down where you are as well.

Be well, senator. Always appreciate --

MANCHIN: These are good people. Let's put the kids back in the classroom. That's where they want to be.

CUOMO: Nine days they've been out.

MANCHIN: I know.

CUOMO: Thank you for being with us on NEW DAY, as always.


MANCHIN: Thanks, Chris. Bye-bye.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris, comedian Jon Stewart accuses the Trump administration of screwing 9/11 first responders. Those are his words. We have a live report on this next.


[08:43:54] CAMEROTA: Comedian Jon Stewart accuses the White House of screwing over 9/11 first responders. Stewart and a bipartisan group of New York lawmakers attacking this proposal they believe threatens treatments for the thousands who got sick during recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill with more.

So what's this about, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this really is a case about if it is not broken, don't fix it. That is the message from Jon Stewart who has been fighting for this program for 15 years, as well as Republican and Democratic lawmakers. There's a real fear and anxiety here that this bureaucratic budgetary move is actually going to impact the ability for these 9/11 first responders to get health care.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: If you want to stand up and say, we love our first responders in this country, we love our veterans in this country, stop screwing them.

MALVEAUX (voice over): Comedian Jon Stewart slamming White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney for the proposed restructuring of an agency that provides health care to 9/11 first responders.

STEWART: It is a special kind of incompetence that takes a program that was fought for, for 15 years by firefighters, police officers, first responders, veterans and survivors that has finally come to fruition and is finally working well. It's a special kind of incompetence to want to turn that upside down.

[08:45:18] MALVEAUX: The World Trade Center Health Program provides treatment for more than 80,000 individuals suffering from illnesses related to the recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER (December 2010): The bill is passed.

MALVEAUX: Congress passed the bill in 2010 and reauthorized it in 2015 for 75 years, a fight championed by Stewart and the bill's bipartisan co-sponsors. The Trump administration's budget proposal would separate that program from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, something advocates fear will make it harder for survivors to receive treatment.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The expertise of the men and women of NIOSH have saved lives, brought comfort to grieving families and eased the suffering of these injured heroes. Why on earth would we change it now? MALVEAUX: The White House denying that the restructuring will impact

the program's funding or services, telling Politico, there will be zero change in the benefits our heroes currently receive and wholly deserve. The proposal simply attempts to align long-term needs of a reimbursement program.

But Stewart calling on the president to intervene and blasting Mulvaney for bypassing Congress.

STEWART: They'll have to rewrite "School House Rock" as to how a bill becomes a law and one guy screws everything up. That will be known forever as "pulling a Mulvaney."


MALVEAUX: Now, Mulvaney's office continues to insist it is not going to impact the funding, this reorganization. And at this point, Chris, it really is just a proposal, it is just a plan, as this public relations battle is full on full-court press. We'll have to see how this all unfolds, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Suzanne.

And, look, and people have feelings about Jon Stewart, whether, you know, you're on the left and the right, you'll see him differently. Tomorrow we have P.J. Rycoff (ph), who is the head of the IADA (ph), one of the largest veteran organizations. He's going to come on the show and he's going to tell you what the reality is of the promise to support the troops, OK?

Now, what could be a major breakthrough, North Korea agreeing to halt nuclear and missile tests, but they do have a condition. What is it? How realistic is all of this? Next.


[08:51:30] CAMEROTA: OK, we do have some breaking news.

North Korea vowing to halt its nuclear and missile testing while diplomatic dialogue is ongoing. This comes as Kim Kong-un met with South Korean delegates. Both countries agreeing to a summit next month.

So let's bring in CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. He has reported extensively on North Korea for "The New York Times."

David, great to have you back with us.

So tell us the significance of this announcement that the North has told the South and the South has announced it, that the North will freeze its nuclear and missile testing while dialogue is ongoing?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, look, the great news out of this, Alisyn, this that this is a pathway off, at least for a while, from what seemed to be a pretty stead march towards some kind of military confrontation. So the North Koreans, if you can believe the South Koreans' representation of it, are not putting any conditions on this for the initial talks other than that the United States has got to come up and get engaged in talks.

And the brilliance of this for the North is that it puts the onus on President Trump, who appear to be rejecting diplomacy. So the conversations will get going.

If history is any indication, at some point the North Koreans will say what they have said in all the previous talks, which is, we can get rid of our nuclear weapons and our missiles if we feel that we've got complete security. We've got all the security guarantees we need.

President Clinton gave some of those. President Bush gave others. But the North Korean idea of this is that the U.S. pull all of its troops out of South Korea, a treaty ally, that it stop all military exercises with the South, basically that they try to fracture the alliance between South Korea and the United States. And so far no one's been willing to do that.

CUOMO: So that's a good sense of the promise and also the caveats. How about who's motivating this? Does the administration deserve at least an initial pat on the back for getting an apparent breakthrough that we certainly didn't see during the last administration, or do you think that China is driving this, because does it size up like what their earlier recommendation was about how this process should move forward?

SANGER: Well, certainly the Chinese have wanted the U.S. to come in and get engaged with the North Koreans because they see that as the best way to sort of maintain the status quo, which is the ultimate Chinese goal here. They don't like North Korea having nuclear weapons, but they certainly don't want to see the U.S. get involved in a confrontation that could ultimately lead to the destruction of the North.

I think the big credit here actually goes to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, who was the one who initiated the Olympics diplomacy, got the senior officials from the North to come down to the Olympics and then immediately followed it up just within days of the time that the Olympics were over with sending this delegation, which was really the first group of foreign who are have ever met Kim Jong-un and engaged in negotiation with him.

The administration was along the way for this, but wasn't driving the train. It was trying to keep the South Koreans from making commitments that the U.S. couldn't go through with. So now the question is, are we into something different, or are we into something that are echoes of what happened in 1994 and two or three times in the Bush administration and once in the Obama administration. All those times the talks collapsed.

[08:55:10] CAMEROTA: But, David, in terms of giving President Trump the credit, don't you need to rewind the tape back farther than the Olympics? I mean he, during his campaign, during the transition, he was already saying things that were unorthodox. SANGER: He was.

CAMEROTA: He was already saying that he would sit down and negotiate. So didn't that sort of set the table for the South and the North to then have this Olympic moment?

SANGER: That did. And one other thing did, Alisyn, which was that the imposition of truly deep sanctions, which the U.S. stepped out to enforce, I think probably gave an additional motivation to Kim Jong-un to go realize that he had to get into some talks that would relieve that pressure. And I think President Trump deserves enormous credit for ratcheting up that pressure and making sure that the sanctions were real. There was no reason that the Obama administration couldn't have done that, and they didn't. And the question is, does President Trump's rhetoric get in the way of this or does it help the process? And we don't know that yet.

CUOMO: Yes, it's an interesting -- it's an interesting discussion. And even sources in the State Department are divided on the, well, it's happening because of what he says versus despite what he says.

SANGER: That's right.

CUOMO: David Sanger, appreciate the perspective. Thank you.

SANGER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, David.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" will John Berman will pick up after this quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.


[09:00:10] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone.