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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Al Franken Brings Up Trump's Mental Health; What Are Trump's Option After North Korea Launch; Zero Evidence to Support Trump Voter Fraud Claims. Aired 11:30a-Noon ET
Aired February 13, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:30:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Is it true that Republican colleagues of yours expressed concern about President Trump's mental health?
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: A few.
FRANKEN: Yes. It's not the majority of them. It's a few.
TAPPER: In what way?
FRANKEN: In the way we all have this suspicion that, you know, that he's not -- he lies a lot. He says things that aren't true. That's the same as lying, I guess. He -- you know, 3 to 5 million people voted illegally. There was a new one about people going from Massachusetts --
TAPPER: Thousands and thousands in a bus.
FRANKEN: Yes. And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States or actually for a human being.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's Democratic Senator Al Franken. And no laughing matter, citing unnamed Republican senators as he speculates about the president's mental health.
Joining me now, that will be our starting off point today, with Paris Dennard, who is a CNN political commentator, former White House director of Black Outreach under President George W. Bush. And Matt Bennett; he's a Democratic strategist and former White House deputy assistant for intergovernmental affairs under President Clinton.
Matt, first to you. You may not like the man in the Oval Office, but is it really fair or a good use of Senator Franken's time talking about this --something like this publicly? MATT BENNETT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Kate, just remember where this came up first. He was on "The Bill Maher Show," and he was kind of joking. I actually saw the show when he was talking about this in the context of kind of a funny segment that he was doing on a comedy show. And then Jake asked him about it yesterday.
But the fact of the matter is, you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to think this guy has a fairly serious narcissistic personality disorder. He's completely consumed with himself. He's easily flattered. He's easily distracted. And as Senator Franken noted, he lies all the time.
So this is a serious problem. Whether he's diagnosable or not, isn't really the issue. The question is, is he stable?
BOLDUAN: I don't -- I'm not really sure that is the question, Matt. Paris, go.
PARIS DENNARD, GOP POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You know, I was just looking on the label below to see if I see a doctor -- if I saw "doctor" below Matt's name and I don't. So I don't know how he can say such things, nor do I see how Senator Franken can say such unsubstantiated claims about the mental fitness or the clinical condition of our president of the United States.
No one made any claims about Secretary Clinton being somehow needing clinical help or being -- having some kind of a mental disorder when she lied about Benghazi, or when she told tales about her e-mail server and things of that nature. So we need to be careful how we talk about people in public service and how we classify things, because these are important issues that we're dealing with, and there are people who actually do have disorders and do have problems which we should focus on.
But to make these gross misrepresentations of the president's mental capacity I think is irresponsible and should end. And Matt should start with it and the senator should know better.
BOLDUAN: Irresponsible, Matt?
BENNETT: Look, I will stipulate I am not a medical professional so I withdraw my diagnosis.
BOLDUAN: You play one on TV, though. No.
BENNETT: Exactly. But I will say this. The lying that we've seen in the first three weeks of this administration, that continued from the campaign and the transition is unlike anything we have ever seen from any politician, Republican or Democrat, ever in the history of the United States.
BOLDUAN: Right. But can you just say he's wrong, he got policy wrong, he's not been telling the truth without going the route of saying the man has a mental health issue? BENNETT: Sure, you could say that and I'm willing to stipulate to that. But I will say this. Senator Franken was reporting, I think probably accurately, what he was hearing from his colleagues, Republican colleagues in the Senate. They are deeply concern about this. That this is going to hurt the United States first and it's going to hurt them politically, second. And I'll bet some of them are speculating about that up there.
BOLDUAN: Oh, there's, though, we're going to stop the speculating on this, at least right now.
Paris, let's move on to something else.
BOLDUAN: You worked in -- well, both of you guys, you both worked in the White House. Paris, to you first. When you hear this string of reports now that the White House is in turmoil. Flynn's on thin ice. Questions about Priebus' leadership, ethical questions now facing Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer has got issues apparently as well, you hear this and you think what, Paris?
DENNARD: I hear that it's not good. First of all, I don't like the fact that there's leaks. I know when I worked at the White House, we really did not like leaks at all.
[11:35:00] There are some things as purpose leaks, when we leak it ourselves on purpose. But I don't think what we see now are purpose leaks. I think it's horrible. But I do think that these are part of the growing pains, but I think that we need strong leadership coming from the chief-of-staff and Reince Priebus to get a hold on what's going on in the West Wing, because even if these media reports are inaccurate, they are still coming out.
And so it's creating a narrative of chaos. It's creating a narrative of un-organization. And that is not what you want when you want to create an image of power, of stability, of strength. And I know that's what's going on there, but they need to create a new narrative. And that new narrative has to come from within and get a good control on what's going on inside of the West Wing and it has to start yesterday.
BOLDUAN: Matt, I mean, the Clinton White House really had problems of its own. Growing pains here?
BENNETT: Yes, probably. And I would agree with Paris that its -- that the leaks are terrible and need to stop, and they do need to get their act together. In every White House has this.
The Obama national security adviser didn't last long. The Clinton first chief-of-staff didn't last long. But the difference here is this. Steve Bannon and others in this White House have said publicly that they believe in disruption, that they believe in keeping people off balance. And what we don't know is whether some of this is intentional, and if it is, that's a kind of dangerous way to govern and I hope it stops. BOLDUAN: Well, the way I've always read it is that they believe in disruption of the system, maybe not necessarily of the disruption within the White House, but maybe that's just some of the fallout from it.
Guys, thank you so much. Great to see you.
BENNETT: Thank you.
DENNARD: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right. So coming up for us, dinner and a missile launch. President Trump facing his first major test coming from North Korea. A missile test just as he was sitting down to dinner with Japan's prime minister at Mar-A-Lago. Now other guests that were there in the dining room are leaking details of this strategy sessions that played out.
Also this, much more on the yet to be backed up with actual evidence voter fraud claims coming from the president and his senior policy adviser. When pushed for evidence, Stephen Miller cited the work of the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach. Secretary Kobach is joining us ahead.
[11:41:20] BOLDUAN: President Trump facing a big early test after North Korea launches a ballistic missile. And apparently, President Trump discussed the strategy in a crowded dining room. This marks the first time that the nation has challenged the international rule since Donald Trump took office.
The news of the missile launch came while President Trump again was dining with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two were dining at the Mar-A-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. When this happened, news came and the dinner seemed to apparently turn into an impromptu strategy session with between the leaders and their closes aides.
Joining me now to discuss is Sue Mi Terry. She's a former senior analyst for the CIA, also advised Democratic and Republican presidents on issues related to this region.
Thank you so much for coming in.
BOLDUAN: So, first of, you see this test. It does kind of everyone then remember and thinks back to, you know, president's past. It's four months in to President Obama's term, North Korea, you know, conducted a nuclear test. So some of this may not come as a surprise to those who know this issue very well. But when you see this, what do you think presidents should do about it then in response?
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER FOR EAST ASIA: Well, first of all, as you said, it's not a surprise, this was entirely predicted. What Mr. Trump should do is have a close coordination with allies, South Korea and Japan. He didn't mention South Korea in the press conference --
BOLDUAN: And what do you think of that?
TERRY: Well, I think it was an oversight. I would like to believe there was an oversight, because South Korea is obviously very important piece in comes to solving the North Korean issue.
And I think more pressure is needed for North Korea in terms of sanctions, in terms of on the human rights issues, in terms of getting more information into North Korea. There's a lot more that we could and we should still do.
BOLDUAN: What -- not that anyone could get into the mind of Kim Jong Un, but what is your sense is, what is your sense that Kim Jong Un wants to see happen?
TERRY: Well, I think what he wants right now with this provocation is that he wants to test Mr. Trump to see if he could get an offer of direct talks. While Kim Jong Un is not interested in giving up nuclear weapons program. In fact he has staked his entire legitimacy in perfecting his nuclear arsenal that his father and grandfather have spent -- pursued at the cost of billions of dollars and millions of lives.
But what he wants is talks, because that would boost his internal standing and get an international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state.
BOLDUAN: Assuming your advice would be to not engage in those direct talks.
TERRY: No. It's OK if you want to just feel them out, but not by easing sanctions, not by dropping the precondition that North Korea has to denuclearize.
BOLDUAN: Now how this all happened. You say, you know, this may not be a surprise that it came, but when it came and how it kind of played out on the side of the Americans is something that a lot of folks are talking about right now.
The test happened on Saturday night just as the president and the prime minister of Japan were sitting down -- or in the middle of dinner in Donald Trump's Florida resort.
According to the reports that I'm seeing, they remained at their table. Their aides came up, began consulting their aids, consulting documents, taking phone calls, even the aides using their iPhones to offer them more light to see the documents because this was a candlelit dinner, and all of this in full view of what looked to be a pretty packed dining room.
And the waiters even continued to serve the table as these conversations were going on.
I mean, you've advised many a president. Is this a common setting for this kind of discussion?
TERRY: No. I'm surprised that they don't have a S.C.I.F., that's a Sensitive Compartmented --
BOLDUAN: It's tell sight so to speak.
TERRY: Right. It's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, where you can have a secure room, where you can go in and leave your phones outside and have a classified discussion. This security practice is disconcerting to say the least.
[11:45:03] BOLDUAN: Sue Mi Terry, thank you so much for coming over.
TERRY: Sure. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.
TERRY: Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: If there are (INAUDIBLE), we'll bring you in and talk much more about this in not too distant future.
Coming up for us, the Trump team's voter fraud allegations. The president continues to make claims about widespread illegal voting in this past election without showing their evidence. Now the president's senior adviser is citing the work of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He's joining us next.
BOLDUAN: Three to five million illegal votes. That is what the president says cost him the popular vote in November. As of yet, no evidence, though, has been offered to back that up.
But they are now going even further saying thousands of illegal voters in New Hampshire alone cost the president an election victory there.
In a meeting with Democratic lawmakers just last week -- just last week, Donald Trump pushed that very same point, and -- I'm sorry, control room, what?
I'm sorry, I'm just getting some control room issue.
Anyway, moving on, in a meeting with Democratic lawmakers just last week, the president claim that voters were actually bussed in from New Hampshire to -- from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote illegally.
[11:50:00] Where is the evidence there? The president's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller didn't offer any of that up when he took the cameras over the weekend, but did have this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: And many, many highly-qualified people like Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, have looked deeply into this issue and have confirmed it to be true. And now put together evidence and I suggest you invite Kris Kobach on to your show and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud and greater details.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right. So joining me now to discuss is the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is cited right there by Stephen Miller.
So, Mr. Secretary, it's great to have you. Thanks so much for coming in.
Stephen Miller says anyone who works in New Hampshire knows that this happened except every big name Republican there. Republicans I'm speaking to say that it did not happen. Miller says look to you, sir, for the evidence. Where is it?
KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: OK. Well, I just got off the phone with the New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, and he said this.
So, as you know, New Hampshire is a same day registration state. And on election day, November 8th, 2016, 6,000 people registered in New Hampshire using an out of state driver's license as their form of identification. Of those 6,000 -- over 6,000, just under 3,000, so just under half used the Massachusetts driver's license.
Now some of those are going to be legit. They're going to be people who just moved to New Hampshire and hadn't yet got a New Hampshire driver's license. But many of those will be out of state residents who voted in the state. And then we will have more information at the end of this month because New Hampshire just joined a 30-state program, where we compare data across states. And Kansas is the host of that program. And we will see how many people voted in both New Hampshire and in another state among the 29 other states. So we'll know exactly what that number is.
BOLDUAN: You truly do believe -- you truly do believe that thousands of people came in from Massachusetts to vote in New Hampshire on Election Day?
KOBACH: What I know from the New Hampshire's secretary of state's office is just under 3,000 registered on election day with a Massachusetts' drivers license.
BOLDUAN: I thought you said 6,000.
KOBACH: And what I'm saying is -- 6,000 from some other states driver's license. Of those 6,000, just under 3,000 were New Hampshire -- were Massachusetts. And so we do know that a lot of people did that and we will have data at the end of the month how many of those 6,000 people voted in both New Hampshire and in one of the other states on Election Day in 2016.
BOLDUAN: However, Mr. Secretary, data at the end of the month, and you are saying -- no, no, but wait a second. Stephen Miller, over the weekend, just yesterday said that thousands did vote illegally. He said thousands and thousands did vote illegally. Definitively saying that this actually happened. You are saying that there is going to be more data coming at the end of the month. So you don't -- do you have the evidence?
KOBACH: Well, at the end of the month, New Hampshire just joined the program, by the way. So we will -- this is the first time we will be looking at New Hampshire's numbers.
BOLDUAN: Right. So did Stephen Miller speak out of term.
KOBACH: No, because what Bill Gardner had already made public the fact that we had 6,000 people register in New Hampshire on Election Day with another state's driver's license. See, that's the key clue there. So, what, we don't know what percentage of the --
BOLDUAN: But voter registration does not equal problem votes. Voter registration problems does not equal problem votes.
KOBACH: Correct. Sure.
So let me, let's step back and look at the big picture. So of the 30 states, we have about three million people who are registered in more than one state, and that's not a crime, that's just an administrative book keeping --
BOLDUAN: Right, including the president's son-in-law, including the president's Treasury secretary.
KOBACH: Exactly. Yes. And many of your viewers are probably registered in more than one state.
But what is a crime is if you actually vote in both of those states or in more than two states.
BOLDUAN: Of course, it's a crime, but where is the evidence of this widespread rampant millions of people voting? If it had happened, why haven't we seen it, secretary? KOBACH: Well, actually, if you -- maybe I don't know. If your network has covered it, but in my state, just people voting in Kansas and another state, my office prosecutes it. I just got that prosecutorial authority a year and a half ago. We've already filed nine cases and we have six guilty pleas.
BOLDUAN: And from the note that I saw, you have nine cases.
Right. Six guilty pleas, one dismissed, two pending. That's as January 25th.
BOLDUAN: Nine cases does not rampant, widespread voter fraud make.
KOBACH: And the nine cases are just the ones at the top of the list. We've got many more in the hopper. We have a very small office. We've only got about two attorneys working on these cases. So there will be more coming up.
But my point is Kansas is a small state. And if you've a significant number of double votes, fraudulent votes in Kansas, take a state that's very large like California or Texas, or take a state like New Hampshire, where people flood in every year because of the very popular New Hampshire primary, which draws so much activity.
BOLDUAN: I spoke with a former attorney general. A man who has been in New Hampshire politics for decades. The way he described this when talking about people being bussed in from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote on election day, not based in reality. Irresponsible. It's like the yeti. You can keep talking about it, but you're not going to find it. This is a Republican.
KOBACH: Well, let's, let's -- let's not get focused on a red herring here. It doesn't matter whether the person from out of state is bussed in or if the person from out of state registered when they were working there in February during the primaries and then votes by mail.
[11:55:00] BOLDUAN: Stephen Miller actually made a point of saying it would have to do with people being bussed in, Mr. Secretary.
KOBACH: It can be both. It can -- non-New Hampshire residents can vote in New Hampshire either by being bussed in or driving in themselves or by voting by mail from their home state of Massachusetts, or New York or wherever it is.
BOLDUAN: New Hampshire --
KOBACH: And we will have some hard -- much harder numbers at the end of the month --
BOLDUAN: Right. But, you know, the folks in New Hampshire -- folks in New Hampshire, Mr. Secretary, folks in New Hampshire also voted and elected a Republican governor in that very same election.
BOLDUAN: How often is it that people who are going to be brought in no matter how what to vote illegally are going to split a ticket?
KOBACH: Well, you know, one of the interesting things we found in prosecuting this crime in Kansas is that both Republicans and Democrats do it. It seems people realize that they are actually registered in two states, and some people, a small minority, but some people are tempted to go ahead and cast ballots in both states. And it's a bipartisan problem.
BOLDUAN: Right. A small minority does not make millions and millions of widespread, rampant illegal votes in this country again.
KOBACH: Well, but it -- in New Hampshire -- but in New Hampshire we have 6,000 prospective cases. We'll find out what percentage of those 6,000 are legit New Hampshire residents and what percentage are actually not New Hampshire residents.
BOLDUAN: I appreciate that. I can't wait to see that evidence. But 6,000 prospective cases --
KOBACH: The margin is pretty narrow and --
BOLDUAN: But, again, 6,000 prospective cases.
KOBACH: The margin was pretty narrow. It was only 1,000 votes.
BOLDUAN: And I can't wait to hear about because what is what Steven miller and the president said over the weekend is this is exactly why they lost in New Hampshire. Not saying that these prospective cases.
KOBACH: But in a close race.
BOLDUAN: Not saying that these prospective cases, they said they were illegal votes.
KOBACH: But as you know, in a close race, which we had in New Hampshire, a thousand vote margin --
BOLDUAN: Right, but you don't have the evidence yet, Mr. Secretary. Even if it comes true in a month, you don't have the evidence yet. Can you acknowledge that?
KOBACH: No. I just gave you the evidence from the New Hampshire -- I gave the --
BOLDUAN: Prospective. Prospective. Prospective is not confirmed. Prospective does not mean illegal votes.
KOBACH: And we will be -- and we will know at the end of the month which -- what percentage of those 6,000 are cases of people who do not actually reside in New Hampshire.
BOLDUAN: Well, then let us continue this conversation in one month. Appreciate it. Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary of State.
KOBACH: All right.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
KOBACH: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up next, news just in involving Trump's National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Of course, under fire for a phone call that he made -- a conversation he had with Russia. Trump claimed that he didn't know, but now we're hearing that Donald Trump's thoughts on the incident for the first time. We'll be right back.