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Trump Tweets Explosive Threat to Iran; North Korea Making New Demands for U.S. Deal; At Least 1 Dead, 13 Shot in Toronto; Trump Again Says Russian Interference is a 'Big Hoax'. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 23, 2018 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran is run by something that resembles the Mafia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen a lot of very bellicose words from Mr. Trump, but you know, this tweet really takes it to the next level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's trying to change the subject away from his disastrous summit.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Russia is not our friend, and they tried to attack us in 2016. The president needs to say that.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: In the president's view, any sort of admission of Russian interference is an admission of collusion.

JOHN KERRY (R), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It sends a message that he doesn't, you know, know either what the facts are, or he won't accept the facts.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, July 23, 6 a.m. here in New York and a lot has happened while you have been sleeping. So here's our starting line.

We have some breaking news for you. President Trump has warned Iraq in an all-caps tweet late last night to "never threaten the United States again or suffer consequences, the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before." That message was addressed to the Iranian president, who just yesterday said in a speech that any conflict with Iran would be, quote, "the mother of all wars."

President Trump taking also a very different approach towards North Korea, urging patience despite an official telling CNN that the president is growing frustrated with the lack of progress on denuclearization talks so far. CNN has also learned new details on what North Korea now wants from the U.S.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We should take a big giant step back here, because there are questions about whether this is all connected as all part of some big Monday morning presidential performance art. With nearly nothing to show for his North Korea talks a week after being embarrassed on the world stage by Vladimir Putin, is the president trying to create a diversion?

And on the subject of Russia, it should be pretty much case closed this morning whether the president believes that Russia actually attacked the 2016 presidential election. After a week of walk-backs, the president once again tossed aside U.S. intelligence and solidly took Putin's side overnight, saying it is all a big hoax.

There's other breaking news this morning. A mass shooting in Toronto. At least 14 people shot overnight. One victim and the suspect are dead. Police say they're investigating every possible motive, including terrorism.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip, live at the White House, where the president overnight stirred things up again -- Abby.


The president, in that all-caps tweet, seeming to issue a threat that the United States is willing to use force to back up its words, but what exactly prompted the president's comments last night, which came just before midnight? It seemed to be a response to the Iranian president's own comments.

Rouhani said "Mr. Trump, don't play with the lion's tail. This would only lead to regret. America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars. You are not in position to incite Iranian -- the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests."

This is coming just months after President Trump already withdrew the United States from the Iran deal. There have been sanctions on the horizon for Iran. Some that have asked oil production throughout the world. This tension is ramping up for several weeks and months now.

One thing that did also happen over the weekend was the president's secretary of state Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in Simi Valley, California, to an audience of Iranian Americans also criticizing strongly the Iranian regime. Listen to what he had to say.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime uses this same time to line its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs and reform and for opportunity. The Iranian economy is going great but only if you're a politically-connected member of the elite. The level of corruption and wealth among Iranian leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the Mafia more than a government.


PHILLIP: There's already a back and forth happening right now between Iran and President Trump. The Iranians responding, calling him a copycat of some of the language that was being used by members of its own regime.

But this is perhaps reminiscent of something else we've seen from President Trump. Remember just months ago, President Trump was engaged in a war of words with North Korea, warning that regime of "fire and fury." Could this be another attempt for President Trump to bring Iran to the negotiating table? We don't know, but it looks very similar, John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Abby, thank you very much for all of that.

So more than a month after President Trump's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, a U.S. official tells CNN that the president is privately frustrated over the pace of denuclearization talks.

But CNN has learned that the North Koreans are looking for the U.S. to make a, quote, "bold move" and agree to a peace treaty. What does that look like?

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with more.

Barbara, tell us your reporting.


Well, North Korea now making very clear it is trying to set its terms for a deal, making also very clear it has its own agenda.


STARR (voice-over): A U.S. official tells CNN that President Trump has expressed frustration in private that North Korea is moving far more slowly towards getting rid of its nuclear weapons than the president wants.

In the immediate wake of the Singapore summit, the original Trump aim: complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. Optimism in June, the president tweeting, "Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

[06:05:15] That gave way to a shift in message from the president.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Discussions are ongoing, and they're going very, very well. We have no rush for speed. We have no time limit. We have no speed limit.

STARR: Trump learning what his military advisors already know about North Korea. Negotiations move slowly, the North Koreans often ask for money, and Kim Jong-un is unpredictable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our expectations have to be tempered properly. Diplomacy is a process that takes time. STARR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, already stiffed by Kim Jong-

un, a no-show in the most recent Pyongyang meeting. Pompeo putting his own reputation on the line, traveling to the U.N. to ramp up pressure on Kim after Russia and China blocked a U.S. effort at the United Nations to discipline North Korea for sanctions busting by alleged smuggling.

POMPEO: We need to see Chairman Kim do what he promised the world he would do. That's not very fancy, but it's the truth.

STARR: The source of Trump's optimism? North Korea has not tested missiles or nuclear weapons since last year. But the latest U.S. military intelligence warns not so fast, even though these underground tunnel sights were blown up by the regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their production capability is still intact.

STARR: The intelligence community believes Kim ultimately remains focused on improving his economy by getting rid of sanctions, which only comes after denuclearization. Still, a sharp warning about trusting the Kim regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our challenge now, candidly, is to continue to make progress but to make that progress in an environment that is essentially void of trust. And without trust, we'll find it difficult to move forward.


STARR: And this morning U.S. intelligence remains deeply concerned that North Korea has been using all this time since its last test to still secretly produce and stockpile nuclear weapons -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Barbara, you've given us too much to have to deal with, but thank you very much for all of that reporting.

So let's dissect it. We are joined by CNN senior political correspondent John Avlon; CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger; and CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot.

OK. Let's start with the president's Tweet that came in at 11:24 last night, because most people were sleeping. And so this is what's happened overnight.


So Max Boot, I mean, look, we, you know, so often are left to try to figure out why the president is tweeting what he's tweeting at the time that he's tweeting. And as you know, after the head-slapping Helsinki moment that, you know, saw his approval ratings in terms of how he's dealing with Russia drop. I think that, you know, we have to ask the question of "Did this have

to happen last night? Is this a distraction of some kind, and just to prove the point, it is President Trump -- it's Donald Trump himself, before he was president -- who planted the seed that you may want to go after Iran if you need a distraction. Here are his tweets about President Obama in 2013.

"I predict that President Obama will, at some point, attack Iran in order to save face." That was from September 2013.

Here's one from 2011. He was already thinking about it. "In order to get elected, Barack Obama will start a war with Iran."

So we know that that has, at times, been on the president's mind. How do you see what came in last night?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you're right, Alisyn, that Trump is king of a master of projection and also distraction.

I mean, with any previous president, if you'd woken up to this all- caps tweet, threatening war with Iran, you'd think he probably belongs in a padded cell. But with Trump this is kind of business as normal.

He had a very rough week last week. He was raked over the coals for his subservience to Russia. And so I guess it's as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning that he will try to start a crisis elsewhere.

At the end of last week, he tried to resurrect the issue with NFL players kneeling during the playing of the anthem. That didn't work so well. So now he's going to gin up a threat of war with Iran.

Of course, you know, with Trump, it's a little bit hard to take him seriously at this point, because if the North Korean example is anything to go by, you know, now he's threatening war with Iran. But within a year, he'll be saying that Hassan Rouhani is brilliant, smart, funny, witty, fine personality, and he'll be reaching a very lenient deal with Iran that will be far less stringent than the Iran nuclear deal that he blew up.

[06:10:14] BERMAN: Look, as Barbara Starr laid out, basically, he has nothing to show for the North Korea meetings, at least not yet. As we all saw last week, he was embarrassed by the meetings with Vladimir Putin and has tried to clean it up day after day after day, although apparently stopped trying to clean it up last night.

But David Sanger, there is something going on with Iran over the last few weeks. The leader there, Rouhani, has threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz to oil, which would cause a huge economic disruption, and the president is trying to take advantage of that moment. Explain.

DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Sure. So the start of this, of course, John, was the president's decision to pull out of 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and then to pressure all of the European allies to go reimpose sanctions. Now, he's running into a lot of trouble on that. He's running into it

with the French. He's running into it even with the British, certainly with the Russians and the Chinese. And they're all saying, "Look, Iran was complying with the agreement, so that the crisis was created by the United States' decision to pull out."

President Rouhani in Iran obviously has got to make some kind of case to his own people that, if the United States reimposes sanctions, if it punishes foreign firms that do business with them, that somehow or another, he's got to go respond.

And you know, so far it's interesting. I was with a good number of intelligence people out of that conference that was running through the weekend. They have seen no evidence of the Iranians restarting the nuclear program, despite the pull-out from the agreement.

So Rouhani had to, of course, go make this case that he would go interfere with shipping in the Persian Gulf. That would be a pretty ridiculous thing for him to do and, of course, the United States has got the Fifth Fleet out there.

But the president's response last night, I think, left a lot of people thinking that the wording was an exact echo of what he did with North Korea last summer. He thinks that words brought North Korea to the table.

CAMEROTA: John, I don't want to go full "Wag the Dog," but I mean, we know that the president's strategy --

BERMAN: The half-wag. The half-wag? Just to here, not to there.


CAMEROTA: The president's strategy, he's employed it over and over. We would be foolish not to absorb it and recognize it. He -- when he's embarrassed, as he was last week, he always looks for a distraction. And coupled that with the idea that he also may be embarrassed by North Korea --


CAMEROTA: -- because it's not going the way that he promised, and they're now reneging on things that he thought that he had gotten. So is -- how are we to interpret what's happening with Iran?

AVLON: Look, this escalated very quickly, late on a Sunday on top of a speech by Mike Pompeo at the Reagan Library. Very tough on Iran, explosive accusations, including Rouhani running a $95 billion hedge fund, allegedly. But it's an escalation of words in an all-cap from the president late at night that is really about war.

Look, you used the tweets earlier. We know that he's talked about presidents using war as a political distraction. There's no question that his rhetoric in North Korea does not meet reality. There is not any evidence of denuclearization. In fact, the opposite. That must be embarrassing to him. But setting up another fight with Iran, escalating very quickly, isn't only politically dangerous. Obviously, it's strategically destabilizing, and there's a contradiction here. Because while he's trying to cozy up to Russia, Russia is backing Iran in Syria. So these coalitions don't make any sense.

We know the animus there. We know this is only second to Hillary Clinton in terms of uniting elements of Donald Trump's base, but this is a threat of war, folks. Make no mistake.

BERMAN: Yes, his good friend, Vladimir Putin, is exactly the guy who could lean on Iran. If he wanted to get something done with Iran or put pressure on them, ask the guy that he had a two-and-a-half meeting with that supposedly went so well.

The one thing Putin said about Iran in the news conference afterwards, actually talking about how he wishes the United States hadn't pulled out of the nuclear deal. So it's not clear that the president got what he wanted out of that.

Max, look, this is -- if you listen to liberal critics of the president, this is their worst nightmare. They always said, "We're worried that his words are going to start a war here. We're worried about what he might do to save himself politically." That is a genuine fear here.

However, look, in Barbara Starr's reporting, there's no movement from the Iranian military. As far as we know, this is just hot words from the president. In his head, this is a rehashing of the greatest hits with North Korea saying, "Hey, that worked great."

BOOT: Yes, that's exactly right, John. I mean, it is worth noting, I think, the extent to which this actually further highlights his subservient to Putin. Because you've seen that he's willing to make threats to Rouhani, to Kim, to other leaders around the world. He's not willing to make any kind of threats to Putin or Russia.

But in terms of the raising the risk of war, which is certainly what he seems to be doing with this tweet, I mean, that is a real concern. I mean, I was actually out in the Gulf last year aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, and they are always poised on the knife edge of war. I mean, they are constantly being probed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, their Navy, their drones overhead. There's always a risk of an incident.

[06:15:15] And this kind of incendiary rhetoric from the American president certainly raises that concern, even though I don't think Trump is ever actually going to launch a war against Iran, because I think what we saw in the case of North Korea, he's more bark than bite.

And one of the more interesting things he's been reported as saying is that, when John Bolton came in, it's been reported that Trump told him, you know, "I know you like wars. I don't like wars, so let's stay out of wars." And so I think that's, you know -- the power of his threats, I think, is waning a little bit, because other leaders around the world are taking his measure.

And I think what they're concluding is that he is a blustery guy. He is full of B.S. He is full of over-the-top rhetoric. He is willing to launch trade wars. But there is so far no real evidence that he is willing to launch a shooting war. So therefore, I'm not sure how effective these threats against Iran are actually going to be.

BERMAN: All right, gentlemen. Stick around. We've got a lot more to discuss on this front.

But we do want to follow some other breaking news. At least one person was killed and 13 other people shot last night in Toronto. The suspected shooter was also killed. At least one victim is described as a young girl. She's in critical condition. It is not clear what motivated the suspect. Police say they're investigating a variety of possibilities, including terrorism.

On Friday, city officials rolled out a new program to put 200 more officers on the streets to fight growing gang violence.

CAMEROTA: All right. So President Trump again is now calling Russian interference a hoax. What happened to that clean-up last week where he said it wasn't?

BERMAN: Do you think that's what he really thinks? He told us what he really thinks?

CAMEROTA: Which one is what he really thinks?

BERMAN: I think this one is the one he really thinks.

CAMEROTA: Because he said this one 55 times and the other one once?

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll do the math.


[06:20:39] BERMAN: New this morning, the walk back of the walk-back. In other words, clarification on exactly how the president feels about the Russian attack on the 2016 U.S. election. He doesn't believe it happened. He clearly, never did leaving contractions and double negatives on the ash heap of history.

Overnight the president wrote this: "President Obama knew about Russia before the election. Why didn't he do something about it? Why didn't he tell our campaign?" This is the kicker here. "Because it is all a big hoax, that's why."

CAMEROTA: What happened -- remember the statement where he said that it wasn't a hoax.

BERMAN: I'm old enough to remember that statement.

CAMEROTA: I think that was Wednesday? BERMAN: Look, the truth here is the Trump campaign was told about potential Russian interference. CNN has reported the president was personally briefed about it in August 2016.

CAMEROTA: Three months before the election. That's important. That is important, that he was personally briefed.

BERMAN: It is very important. Also important, the whole big hoax thing. That doesn't sound like believing your intelligence agencies, now does it?


BERMAN: It seems like siding with Vladimir Putin, doesn't it?

CAMEROTA: I like this. Are we going to do this throughout the whole show?

BERMAN: What do you think?

CAMEROTA: I like this. Yes.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

We're back now with Max Boot, David Sanger and John Avlon.

John, there's something of a tell here in how the president really feels about the Russian impact on the 2016 election.

AVLON: Yes, it's the way he keeps tweeting and blurting out, the way he's said it over and over and over again, in the face of official denials and press releases, ineffectively.

Look, we know, as you said, the president was briefed in August about Russian interference. He was also briefed again definitively in January before he took office, as Jim Clapper told us last night. This is simply a return to form. And the White House can cherry-pick a couple of sort of hostage video statements to say the president has always supported his intelligence agencies. He doesn't, in his heart of hearts, have any evidence of that.

This FISA report that was released contradicts the Nunes memo. It contradicts the president. It shows that the FBI believed he was being recruited by foreign sources, and the president's going to try to convince us that it says something the opposite. That vindicates him. It doesn't. That's the reality.

CAMEROTA: David Sanger, did it feel to you as if something shifted last week because of the stunning Helsinki performance, where the president, you know, blamed America? I mean, on the -- on the international stage, he criticized America more than he criticized Vladimir Putin, and he seemed to side with Vladimir Putin.

Because yesterday, Trey Gowdy, who as you know, has been a supporter of the president, or certainly fallen in line, you know, it just sounds to me like some people are starting to -- their language has started to shift a little bit.

Here's what Trey Gowdy said about Russian interference yesterday.


GOWDY: The evidence is overwhelming. It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend, and they tried to attack us in 2016. So the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisors need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration, but the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming, and the president needs to say that and act like it.


CAMEROTA: David, where do you think we are with the president's wild vacillations on Russia?

SANGER: I think what's going on, Alisyn, is the tweets show you what he really believes, and the statement that he made yesterday -- I'm sorry, that he made last week shows you what he's forced occasionally to go back and say.

And you'll remember that, as he sat there reading that statement, some of which we're able to see in photographs sort of upside-down, he had crossed out or deleted a section in which he was supposed to say that anybody who participated in this with Russia should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. You saw the president add in the words, after he said there was no question Russia did it, then he said, "Could have been many others. A lot of people out there." So he is looking for any reason he can to go contrary to the evidence.

And it's interesting. Even when you talk to his own intelligence aides, the people he has appointed, who have reviewed this evidence. If you go back and look at the January 6, 2017, briefing he was given that I wrote about last week with my colleague, Matt Rosenberg, that lays out how Putin himself personally ordered this, he just cannot accept it in his mind, because he has conflated the concept that the Russians were involved in this with the concept that somehow his presidency is -- is illegitimate.

[06:25:20] He just cannot separate out that he may have been legally elected, and the Russians also were trying to manipulate the election.

BERMAN: Should we take a ride in the Wayback Machine? Let's go way back. Let's go way back. I think it was --

CAMEROTA: Wednesday? Thursday? What?

BERMAN: I think it was Tuesday. I'm going even back further.


BERMAN: I want to know definitively what to do with this, what to do with the apostrophe and double negative defense. So just listen to it one last time, I think one last time ever, probably.


TRUMP: In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been "I don't see any reason why I wouldn't, or why it wouldn't be Russia." Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.


CAMEROTA: Yes, that resolves it.


BOOT: Well, remember that "would/wouldn't" was one sentence in a larger rant against the FBI.

CAMEROTA: And the United States.

BOOT: And praising Putin for being strong and very believable in his denials and so forth. So, you know, it's not -- that was just the silliest spin ever.

But you know, it's pretty clear that what Trump said in Helsinki was what Michael Kinsley's definition of a political gaffe, which is when a politician says what he really thinks in public. And then, of course, the White House spent about a week walking it back.

And all the while, Trump is fulminating that he is not getting credit for all these wonderful deals that he did with Putin in Helsinki, when we actually don't know what any of these deals were. We don't know. We still don't know what happened behind closed doors.

One of the few things that we know about is that Putin suggested he should -- that Trump should turn over Mike McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, for interrogation by Putin's goons, a "wonderful and incredible offer," as Trump called it, that was rejected 98 to nothing by the Senate.

And so Trump is seething that the "fake news media," quote unquote, is not crediting his diplomatic success, but even his own government doesn't know what the hell happened behind closed doors when he spent two hours with Vladimir Putin.

And you know, all week last week, you heard people like John Brennan and Jim Clapper and other intelligence chiefs saying that Putin has compromised Donald Trump. I mean, an extraordinary spectacle. And of course, this is why we ended up on Sunday night with threats of war in all caps against Iran, to distract us from this.

CAMEROTA: Hey, John, just back to my question about whether anything shifted after all of that, after everything that David and Max laid out. When Trey Gowdy says, "So the president either needs to rely on the people he has chosen to advise him, of those advisors need to reevaluate whether they can serve in this administration," do you hear something different from yesterday than we did before that?

AVLON: Yes, look, I think there is a core of Republicans, unfortunately, primarily Republicans not running for reelection, who have developed a spine and become vertebrates when it deals with addressing the reality of Donald Trump.

What Gowdy there is saying is, look, folks, either the president needs to accept his intel community, or the intel community needs to start resigning en masse to send a larger message to the public. That's pretty serious.

BERMAN: But they're not resigning.

AVLON: No, they're not.

BERMAN: Dan Coats, Dan Coats apologized for laughing at the president publicly on Friday.

AVLON: In a very sort of scripted statement, presumably involving White House involvement. Jon Huntsman saying he's going to stay on.

A lot of them are faced with a very difficult decision. Stay in the job, try to do the right thing by the country and national security and precedent in mind, and contain the president; or abandon ship.

BERMAN: And can I just add? You say something has shifted. I'm not so sure. Something else. Look at the new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll, where 88 percent of Republicans approve of the job the president is doing. Eight-eight percent, which is higher than any president other than George W. Bush after 9/11. And in the same NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, his approval rating actually ticked up a point.

CAMEROTA: But I want to say something about that.

BERMAN: You say something.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm going to.

AVLON: Come on now.

CAMEROTA: Because 37 percent of the country identify themselves as Republicans. It's not 50. So sometimes you think, "Oh, 50, half of the country's --"

AVLON: No, no, no.

CAMEROTA: "-- Democrat, Republican." No, the largest share are independents. So it's 88 percent of the 37 percent that identify as Republicans. Isn't that also known as the base?


CAMEROTA: When you get down -- when you boil down the numbers.

AVLON: He is more popular among the base. BERMAN: He is very popular -- more popular among the base. And more

popular than past presidents have. He's doing well among the base, and that is what is fueling him.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough.

BOOT: Mainly, what Trump cares about is the base. He's basically a 40 percent president. And so as long as he's got the Republicans behind him, he doesn't care about anything else.

BERMAN: David Sanger, Max Boot --

SANGER: John, can you go -- can you go back to -- I was going to say, if you just go back to Coats, very briefly, the most remarkable thing he said was --


SANGER: -- that he was the director of national intelligence, and he had no idea whether or not the president had actually agreed to negotiate a new nuclear agreement with the Russians at, you know, four or five days after this -- this summit happened.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

SANGER: That told you everything you need to know.

CAMEROTA: That is the headline. Thank you, gentlemen, very much.

BERMAN: All right, Uber and Lyft drivers livestreaming passenger rides. Is there a privacy problem here?