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GOP Leaders: Pennsylvania Loss is a Wake Up Call; Interview With Senator Kennedy to Introduce Bill Banning Pets in Overhead Bins; U.S. Military Reveals New Firefight in Niger; CNN: White House is Considering Scott Pruitt as Replacement for Jeff Sessions; Washington Post: Trump Says He Made Up Facts About Trade Deficit in Meeting with Trudeau. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Republican leaders say Conor Lamb's victory in the Pennsylvania special election is a wake-up call for the GOP.

Our next guest took it a step further, calling it a good old-fashioned ass kicking. Joining me now is Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Good morning senator.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It's hard to put a final point on it than a good old fashioned ass kicking. I think I know what you mean by that, but would you say the Republicans are scared today after what they saw yesterday?

KENNEDY: Well, I can't speak for all of my colleagues, I mean, I'm nod scared, I'm curious -- I mean we lost, and we were supposed to win and it was a fairly safe Republican district.

I think the voters at least in that district are trying to tell us something and we ought to listen. I don't think we ought to insult the American people and try to spin it.

I remember when Scott Brown; a Republican, was elected senator in a democratic state in 2010 and --

CAMEROTA: Yes, Massachusetts --

KENNEDY: I remember our democratic friends tried to spin it, and I remember at the time thinking, you know, you must think the American people are dumb, they're not, they get it.

I don't know why I'm saying this --

CAMEROTA: But what is that message? I mean, I hear you and you say you have to listen to what happens to -- what the voters are telling you, but what is that message?

KENNEDY: You know, I don't know yet. People smarter than me will figure it out, I hope once they do figure it out, that all of us, especially Republicans, but including democrats will pay attention.

Some are going to say that it's turnout, I know that, others are going to say, well, all politics is local, that's not true.

Some politics is local. But in a federal race, what's going on in Washington D.C. matters, and we need to -- we need to listen to this.

It's important politically, but I think it's also important -- hey, the American people are trying to tell us something up here.

CAMEROTA: Do you think they're trying to tell you something about President Trump?

KENNEDY: I don't know, it could be. They're trying to -- they're telling us that there's something going on in Washington that they don't like.

And obviously at least those who came out to vote are blaming the Republican party or -- and I like to -- if we're making a mistake, I'd like to be corrected.

CAMEROTA: OK, so students across the country are also trying to send you a message. They walked out of their schools yesterday in protest, they are of course are trying to stop school shootings and gun violence.

[08:35:00] You're on the Judiciary Committee, one of the democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin heard it this way. Listen to this.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We ought to listen. Instead what we have, sadly, are weak responses all around and why?

Well, in a lucid moment a couple of weeks ago, the president identified it. Politicians are petrified by the National Rifle Association.


And the question we face very honestly is whether we're petrified by them. I'm not.


CAMEROTA: What's the answer to that, senator? Do you think the politicians are petrified of the NRA?

KENNEDY: No, I'm not, I can't speak for all my colleagues. I'm not petrified by the NRA. I am awed by the bill of rights, the United States constitution.

We all have a second amendment rights as Americans if we choose to exercise it, to own a gun. It's fundamental, it's an inalienable, the majority can't take it away from us just like our right to worship the God of our choice or no God at all, just like our right to free speech.

The debate we're having in Washington is what reasonable parameters can be put on that fundamental, inalienable constitutional right to bear arms that are -- that are -- that are constitutional and reasonable people are disagreeing over it.


KENNEDY: I understand people want to stop the violence, I do, too, but at the same time I want to see both sides of the equation.

For example, when a Jihadist who happens to be a Muslim blows up a school and kills children, we're told not to judge the acts of all Muslims or all Muslims by the act of one or two.

And I agree with that, Alisyn.


KENNEDY: But how come the same rule doesn't apply to the 80 million gun owners in America. Most of them --

CAMEROTA: But I don't think that's true, senator, I mean, when a school shooter goes into a school, we don't say lock up all 19-year- old boys, we try to figure out what the commonality is, and frankly --

KENNEDY: We do --

CAMEROTA: It does seem that there's a commonality with AR-15s.

KENNEDY: Yes, but that doesn't mean that it's necessarily a cause. Let me give you -- for example, we have 300 million guns in America, about 100 million handguns, 100 million rifles, 100 million shotguns.

In the 20 years before 2013, gun ownership --


KENNEDY: In America went up 50 percent, gun homicide went down 50 percent. I know, I'm not going to vote to take away somebody's constitutional right --


KENNEDY: Unless I'm certain that the benefits outweigh the costs.

CAMEROTA: I understand --


CAMEROTA: Of course --

KENNEDY: I wouldn't do that for any fundamental --


KENNEDY: Constitutional right.


KENNEDY: And again, make want to point -- I understand some of my colleagues, you know, they just don't think that guns are appropriate for American society and they're entitled to believe that --


KENNEDY: But our constitution says otherwise.

CAMEROTA: I think you're going too far, OK? I don't hear any of your colleagues saying let's get rid of all guns. I hear your colleagues saying let's put some parameters on it just like we actually do have parameters on First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

You're not allowed to yell fire in a movie theater.

KENNEDY: Right --

CAMEROTA: So what are the parameters? And I think that that's what they're debating. But listen, we're almost out of time and I just want --


CAMEROTA: To -- I just need to get your take because you've been so outspoken about what's happened on United Airlines with pets and with these dogs.

So United Airlines has just announced that their new solution is that they're going to put a bright yellow tag on a carrying case with a dog or pet in it so that those are not put in overhead bins. Do you want to see them go further?

KENNEDY: Yes, look, in a lot of respects, dogs are how people ought to be. Pets, particularly dogs are family members now, I've got two dogs at home.

One is a beagle -- I don't know what the other one is, but I love them both, and I wouldn't ask Becky to choose between me and our pups.

And what happened on United was disgraceful. This was a 10-month-old puppy, belonged to a little 11-year-old girl, they paid 125 bucks to bring Coquito on the plane.

And I don't know what happened, but I do know that three quarters of all the pet deaths on planes every year and customers are paying to bring their pets on the plane -- that I will tell you, I'm not saying no to their dogs.

Three-quarters have happened on a United flight. Now, I don't particularly enjoy having to legislate or trying to legislate common decency, but by God, I'm going to do it until they take this seriously. CAMEROTA: And so you are going to prohibit airlines from putting

animals in overhead bins. It does seem like it should be common sense.


CAMEROTA: But that's where we are. All right, Senator John Kennedy, sorry, we're out of time, thank you --

KENNEDY: No problem --

[08:40:00] CAMEROTA: Very much for joining us --

KENNEDY: Thanks Alisyn.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have new details of a previously undisclosed U.S. military fire fight with ISIS militants in Niger. A live report from the Pentagon next.


CUOMO: For the first time, we're learning about a mission involving U.S. special forces in Niger to take out Islamic State militants. It came two months after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush there.

Cnn's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with details. What do we know now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris, it was the morning of December 6 in Niger in West Africa. U.S. troops on patrol with Nigerien forces, they are attacked by ISIS militants and when it's all over, they say 11 ISIS militants were killed.

Now, the U.S. military says it is under no obligation to disclose these fire fight missions to the news media, let alone the American public. This is a dangerous area and they have continuing operations in the area.

They felt no need to publicly disclose it. But this is now underscoring how dangerous these missions in Niger are for U.S. troops.

[08:45:00] They're not supposed to be combat, they are -- that October 4th mission, two months earlier, when the four U.S. troops were killed, we now know additional details because members of the unit are speaking out publicly, those troops were overrun and almost out of ammunition.

It was a dire circumstance, leaving four Americans dead. The investigation reports still to come. Alisyn, Chris --

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, the details don't make anybody feel any better, Barbara, thank you very much. So President Trump eyeing a purge of the dead weight in his cabinet. The latest reporting suggests that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be replaced, we'll tell you by whom in "THE BOTTOM LINE".

CUOMO: And if you are toasting to the luck of the Irish this weekend, raise a glass of wine --


CUOMO: I know it, it doesn't really smack -- of Saint Patty, they're going to --

CAMEROTA: All right --

CUOMO: Make it green -- anyway, but Cnn's Lisa Drayer says a little goes a long way when it comes to wine, even for wine marketed as reduced calorie. Check out "FOOD AS FUEL".


LISA DRAYER, NUTRITIONIST: Let's first establish what moderate drinking really means. For women, one five-ounce serving of wine per day, and for men, up to two glasses per day.

Reduced calorie wines claim to save 20 to 30 calories per serving depending on the variety. Overall, that's not a huge calorie reduction, and based on the math, not enough to justify an extra glass.

Besides, too many drinks can increase your risk of liver disease and some cancers. Another selling point of some lower calorie wines, virtually no sugar per serving.

But one wine-making expert I talked to says that's true for many high quality white wines and most reds already on the market. Nutritionists say what really matters when it comes to wine is your flavor preference and the food you're pairing it with.

So whether it's low calorie or not, I recommend choosing the wine you like best, limiting your intake and savoring every sip.



CUOMO: Sources tell Cnn, President Trump wants to get rid of some of his problematic cabinet members. Remember -- that's what I meant to say, he used to say this was the best group ever assembled.

Now he says some of them are dead weight --

CAMEROTA: Dead weight --

CUOMO: OK, so CNN has learned it includes potentially replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. And there's this suggestion that maybe they can just slide Pruitt

right in there, but that's not how our system works. Let's get "THE BOTTOM LINE" from CNN Political Director David Chalian.

We asked Senator Angus King about this slide-them over thing, and he said he had never heard of it. In a little bit of a deeper reporting on it says, maybe that you could do that with an acting.


CUOMO: But if you want this to be your man or woman, they're going to have to be vetted like anybody else.

CHALIAN: But there's no doubt, so it could be a two-step thing, right? If you work -- first of all, let's back up here, right?

The fact that Donald Trump is not pleased with Jeff Sessions is not a secret to anybody, right? I mean, he's made this clear over the better part of the last year, mostly stemming from the fact that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

So if he indeed he wanted Scott Pruitt; a former attorney general from Oklahoma -- state attorney general in that role and he wanted him immediately, because he's already Senate-confirmed, perhaps he can be appointed as acting attorney general and then go through the full confirmation process to become attorney general and confirmed by the Senate.

CAMEROTA: Right, instead of the process, David, I'm more interested in just the idea of these musical chairs that --


CAMEROTA: People are interchangeable. I mean, don't they have specific credentials that allow them to be EPA administrator? Don't answer that, that's rhetorical.

Or to be -- you know, the idea that any of these things are just sort of up for grabs is what I think noteworthy.

CHALIAN: Yes, that is true, Alisyn, not everybody in every role would be right for multiple roles. I will say though, Pruitt was under consideration as a potential AG nominee back when the administration got started, and as I said, he did serve that role in Oklahoma.

CUOMO: And when you look at the shuffling and the dead weight, does this just play as more Trump style of mixing it up and getting the best in there, or is there an accountability issue here seeing how he picked these people who are flopping in the first place?

CHALIAN: Yes, it is pretty clear to me that the president is looking to do a sort of house cleaning here in some ways. He is trying to put together, after a very tumultuous first year in the job.

A team that he feels, I guess would not constrain him or attempt to constrain him in ways that he sort of rejected as best he could in the first year.

Our colleague Gloria Borger did some reporting on this and wrote a column and was saying a source she spoke to was describing this notion, guys, as that the president feels like he knows how to do this now and he doesn't need necessarily the training wheels, my words, of some of his other appointees, and is looking to, of course, always get people he feels most loyal to him in the right roles.

CAMEROTA: OK, so David, let's talk about this remarkable audiotape of the fundraiser that the president was at in which he described how he had a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the fact that the president didn't know the facts or the information about whether or not there was a trade imbalance with Canada did not stop him from running with his hunch.

He is sure, in his mind, that the U.S. is being screwed over. He has said this by all countries. And so he ran with that with Justin Trudeau and Justin Trudeau had to correct him -- actually, there is no trade imbalance with Canada.

And the president just sort of doesn't believe that and just kept pressing the idea that there was.

[08:55:00] And it's fascinating to hear how the president runs with his hunch. I mean, he talked about this last night. You know, he was sort of bragging about how he goes with his hunch.


CUOMO: Like right, is it a hunch?

CAMEROTA: No, I mean, a hunchy feels it. Like --


CAMEROTA: Call it what you want --

CHALIAN: But he just -- he -- but he said -- what I find so fascinating about those remarks is he said, I didn't even know. I didn't even --

CUOMO: Right, that's what I'm saying --

CHALIAN: I just was right to --

CUOMO: He says I didn't even know that, and that's not a hunch. Because --


CUOMO: When you know you don't know something, then you don't have a hunch.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, it's like that --

CUOMO: But it reveals -- CAMEROTA: He always feels that he's being screwed over by another

country as he's said in the past. But go ahead, David --

CHALIAN: Yes -- no, I'm just saying, I think this moment is so revelatory, yet again, sort of Donald Trump showing us his true self.

I know it's a fundraiser behind closed doors, so perhaps he didn't intend to show, but obviously it got out. But this notion that the facts be damned, it just does not pertain to him in this scenario.

He just wants to be the blowhard that's going to bulldoze his way through until he can turn reality to his version, even with our -- you know, closest neighbor and a big trading partner and stalwart ally of the United States.

He still wants to bulldoze and create his own version of reality with the Prime Minister of Canada.

CAMEROTA: Is notion a better word? Maybe I should go with that word. He's going with his notion --

CUOMO: Right, I mean, look, I don't think --

CHALIAN: Sure --

CUOMO: It's parsing a language, I'm just saying that it's -- if you don't know whether or not you have a trade imbalance and you're not playing on a hunch, you're just -- you're just making something up.

But them thinking that -- him thinking they're getting a bad deal, that could be a hunch.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you very much --

CHALIAN: Thanks guys --

CAMEROTA: For "THE BOTTOM LINE", CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman picks up after this break, see you tomorrow.