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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
North Korea Fires Missile After Trump Warning; Trump Obsessed Over Election Win Ahead Of 100-Day Milestone; Trump: I Thought Being President "Would Be Easier"; Trump Blames Obama for Flynn Vetting; Obama Back in the Public's Eye; Inside Melania Trump's First 100 Days as First Lady; White Supremacist Says He Wants to Bathe in White Privilege. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 28, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER HOST: -- 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern in The Situation Room. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next. Breaking news. North Korea firing a ballistic missile after President Trump warns of a "major, major conflict with North Korea." How will Trump respond now? And the president giving a big speech today. The topic on day 99 of his presidency, his election result and the senator he called Pocahontas. And what did the President Obama say behind closed doors about Donald Trump, someone who is in that room. We'll tell all. Let's go OutFront.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, breaking news. North Korea test firing a ballistic missile. This is the country's ninth launch attempt since President Trump took office. The U.S. official telling CNN at this hour that the land-based ballistic missile blew up over land. Late today, President Trump stepping up Marine One coming back to the to the White House ignored reporters' questions as the missile launch news broke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any reaction to the missile launch in North Korea, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The White House issuing a very brief statement saying the administration is aware of the launch and the president has been briefed, that's all - that's the true the statement said. Just 24 hours ago, though, Trump issued this grim warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, there's a - there's a - there's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are high. North
Korean officials tell CNN there's an imminent threat of all-out war. North Korea putting on a massive show of force this week. Staging what officials there say is North Korea's largest ever series of military drills. You see this new video of those drills right now. Will Ripley is the only western television journalist in North Korea. Tonight, he is in Pyongyang. Will, you were the first to get news of this missile test. North Korea has been building up to this. Is there more to come?
WILL REPLAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely more launches to come, according to the North Korean officials we're speaking with on the ground here. And even though this ninth missile launch attempt during the Trump administration was a failure, Kim Jong-Un and his rocket scientists have shown they are not deterred by these failures. They learn from them and they will continue to try to launch more missiles.
And they also say that they will conduct another nuclear test, the nation's sixth nuclear test at the time of their choosing despite mounting international pressure from the U.S. The U.N. security council and even China which is now saying that it wants to work with the United States and the U.N to reign in North Korea, and the nuclear threat possibly using its economic leverage restricting trade possibly that could even cut off the flow of oil in this country if things got serious enough.
Because this launch was believed to be a failure, we don't expect to see that strong of a response. It really is the nuclear test that will be a red line for Beijing and we'll have to see what the White House says in the coming hours. We've got some conflicting information initially. At first, the U.S. thought this missile believed to be a KN-17, a variant of a scud missile that we saw at that massive military parade on April 15th. They first thought it flew 15 minutes of exploding over the waters of the Japanese coast.
Now they are saying that it exploded over North Korea territory which is why they believe it was a failure. But still, a very troubling development for people who are watching North Korea continue to grow its missile capability, also noteworthy about this missile, Erin, is it is believed to be the kind of missile that they could fire at a warship like the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and the strike group and it's approaching the waters of the Korean peninsula.
BURNETT: And of course they have said that they have the ability and the will to do that if they deem it necessary. Thank you so much, Will Ripley. Jim Sciutto is OutFront in Washington. And Jim, and incredibly terse response from the White House tonight but a volley of words from the president and his administration about North Korea in the past 24 hours.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A (INAUDIBLE) and a somewhat mixed message. You heard the secretary of state yesterday seeming to open the door to direct talks with North Korea, something of a walk back today saying that - well, those talks couldn't happen until they were concrete steps including the possibility of freezing its nuclear program. Mixed in with that, you have Donald Trump's own more bellicose words talking about the possibility of a major, major conflict over this.
And of course, he said previously that the U.S. is not going to stand for a nuclear North Korea that all options are on the table. So, somewhere in there is the U.S. strategy going forward and it shows you, Erin, just how limited the options are that, listen, there are military options. Previous administrations have had them but those military options have great risk. Short to that, you're talking about things that have been talked about for a long time.
More pressure from China, sanctions, warnings, the promise of the possibility of talks if there are concessions from North Korea. All of those are -- have risks associated with them. Many have failed in the past. It's a real sign of the difficulty going forward and it really rhetoric, certainly, from either side is not going to solve the problem.
BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. And I want to go OutFront now to the dop democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Elliott Engel. Congressman, thank you so much for your time tonight. You know, you just heard the president himself was asked directly about the missile launch right as it happened early this evening. He refused to answer directly. The White House statement terse, they're aware the president has been briefed. That's all they have say. Is that the right response?
REP. ELLIOT ENGEL, (D) FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I think it's better than some of the responses we have been seeing from the administration over the past several days. President seems to go back and forth. It's kind of fly by the seat of your pants. The secretary of state says something one day corrects it the next day. I'd rather them not say anything. I think is a very serious situation. Obviously they know it. We need to China. We need to work with China.
China is the only country that has some kind of influence on North Korea. And we need to do that without saber-rattling, without changing what we're going to do, without trying to talk tough one day and trying to reach out the next day.
BURNETT: Well, you talk about saber-rattling. Obviously North Korea has conducted nine of these sort of missile launches since President Trump took office. Tex Tillerson, the secretary of states has all options around the table. President Trump as you know, talking about a possible major, major conflict with North Korea in an interview within the past day talking about his, "armada" sailing up to the coast of North Korea. Are these words in your view emboldening Kim Jong-Un or do they give him pause?
ENGEL: Well, I think those words are not helpful. I think it's just simply not helpful to try to threaten, you know, you see the -- some erratic behavior obviously on the part of North Korea. You don't want to play into that. I think it's absolutely wrong. And, you know, again, the policy of this administration at the very beginning, it seemed like they were cuddling up to the Taiwanese at the expense of the Chinese. Now it seems quite the opposite.
We're talking about our allies in South Korea where there are 30 million people surrounding Seoul and we're talking about making them pay for the THAAD missiles that we helped them with. I just think it's all over the place and what we need to do is think about what we say before we say it and be consistent and not saber-rattle.
BURNETT: Of course, the big question though is what is the U.S. going to do, right? I mean, the secretary of state today said North Korea's leader is not insane, right? He said he's not crazy, those were the words of Rex Tillerson. President Trump though, I don't know if you heard this, Congressman but he seems somewhat sympathetic to Kim Jong- Un's situation in the - in the new interview and I wanted to play for you what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's 27 years old. His father dies. Took over a regime. So, say what you want, but that's not easy, especially at that age. I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What's your response to that answer?
ENGEL: Well, I think it's a matter of the president thinking that maybe he can woo Kim over with nice talk and that's what I mean by it when I say fly by the seat of your pants. One day it's try to use the kind approach. The next day it's saber-rattling and threatening them. There's just no consistency. And when you have a dictator in North Korea who's totally inconsistent -
ENGEL: -- we should be acting differently.
BURNETT: So, when you say acting differently, I want to ask you about something else the secretary of state said but also to get your view on what is a very important question which is, what should the United States do about Kim Jong-Un? All right. Here's what the secretary of state said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have been clear. We do not seek regime change in North Korea, we're not seeking a collapse of the regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I want to know whether you think that's the right answer because according to the U.N., 120,000 men, women, and children are in prison camps subjected to force labor, torture, starvation, rapes, and gas in North Korea tonight. Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have died in North Korean gulags over the past 50 years. Unspeakable atrocities are the words that we hear. But the secretary of state just came out and said, we do not seek a collapse of the regime change. We do not seek regime change. Is he wrong? Should the United States seek regime change?
ENGEL: Well, I think right now the United States -- that would be step two, three, four, and five. I think right now we're still grappling with step one which is to try to prevent a miscalculation here. Look, I've been to North Korea twice. You go to Pyongyang, it's like walking back into 1953 East Berlin. It's just bizarre. The whole place is bizarre, and the way they run the place is bizarre. But I think right now we're at a crossroad and I think rather than think about long-term goals or long-term ranges for North Korea, we want to try to just get over the hump. And we have to involve China.
China is the only country that can really change their behavior and we'd like to know more that we are getting -- putting our heads together with China than saber-rattling and saying all kinds of things to provoke, upset Pyongyang.
BURNETT: Get over the hump and then I guess wait for the next one, the nuclear test. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. And next, President Trump obsessed. He can't stop talking about winning the election and the senator that he calls Pocahontas. And Barack Obama fired Mike Flynn. So why is Trump blaming the Obama administration for Flynn? Plus the other Trump's first 100 days.
BURNETT: Hours away from President Trump's 100th day. He marked day 99 with a speech to the NRA. Not talking about his accomplishments in office thus far but in case anyone has forgotten, he reminded us all the that he won the election nearly six months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. You know that. And tremendous disadvantage. And to run the whole East Coast and then you go with Iowa and Ohio and all of the different states, it was a great evening, one that lot of people will never forget. Lot of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny is OutFront at the White House.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDNT: On the eve of his 100th day in office, President Trump seems hard-pressed to let go of the 2016 campaign.
TRUMP: I see all those beautiful red and white hats. But we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all, Make America Great Again.
ZELENY: The president traveling to Atlanta today to address one of his most supportive audiences, the National Rifle Association.
TRUMP: The eight-year assault on your second amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.
ZELENY: Nearly six months after winning the presidency, Mr. Trump yet again recounting his victory.
TRUMP: November 8. Wasn't that a great evening? Do you remember that evening?
ZELENY: Mr. Trump also revisiting his bruising primary fight with Ted Cruz who flew aboard Air Force One to Georgia with the president.
TRUMP: Like, dislike, like.
ZELENY: At the White House earlier in the day, the president's focus was on his accomplished in office.
TRUMP: It's a full standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, I don't think anybody has gone what we've been able to do in 100 days.
ZELENY: Still, the president reflecting on a short time in Washington. Telling Reuters the job is tougher than he expected.
TRUMP: This is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I do miss my old life. This -- I like to work, so that's not a problem. But this is actually more work.
ZELENY: That acknowledgement prompting this response to Senator Chuck Schumer.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER,(D) NEW YORK: Mr. President, you're in the NFL, this is the big leagues and of course it's a hard job. It's probably the hardest job in the world.
ZELENY: So, one of the questions here tonight at the White House is if the president actually like this hard job. He likes some of the glamour of it, of course, you know, when he's giving those speeches talking about the glory days of election, but going forward here after the first 100 Days, he still has healthcare to pass and much of his agenda. But, Erin, tomorrow evening, he's going to that 100 days with what else? A campaign style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In case you don't remember, he won Pennsylvania and he'll probably say that tomorrow night.
BURNETT: Probably a safe bet. Thank your very much, Jeff. And now, our special panel here for our program tonight. Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston, Washington Examiner staff reporter Salena Zito, Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein, our political commentator Kayleigh McEnany, former Clinton White House Aide Keith Boykin, and presidential historian, Doug Brinkley. All right. So on day 99, here we are, Trump gives a big speech, not about his accomplishments, really talking about other things. His election victory in November. OK. He also in the past day giving an interview, showed reporters electoral maps. Now, this was an interview to Mark 100 Datys. Here he is showing reporter. You see the map in the front of the table in case anyone in the desk, his 100 Days. That's pretty stunning.
RON BROWNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Right. (INAUDIBLE) but look, I would say that if you look at - you look at the - kind of the behaviour going into the 100 days, there's still a certain anxiety about legitimacy, right? I mean, he won the election, an election that nobody thought he could win but he won it with 46 percent of the vote. He's the only president in the history of Gallup poll never to reach 50 percent support in his first 100 Days.
He's had enormous success and undoing thing that President Obama on a wide variety of thoughts from the -
BURNETT: Yes. With his order.
BROWNSTEIN: -- TPP, to the climate regulation, to the offshore drilling, he's had a lot more trouble moving forward, his own distinctive idea, you know, we're talking today, I said that he's had more success with the eraser than the other side of the pencil. And I think there's a lot to that. So you have a presidency that has made progress on some fronts, is really struggling on others and I think a president who is still waiting for the legitimacy and the broad acclaim that he thinks he deserves.
BURNETT: So, Salena, you know, he is still living off of that map. And in some ways, it seems only off of that map. OK. He's visited 10 states since he took office. Only 10. Eight of them he won including one of them he's been to what, a dozen times, obviously Florida with Mar-a-Lago. He's been to two Clinton states, Virginia and Delaware where he went to bring home the body of a fallen navy SEAL. Why isn't he going out there and unifying instead of giving rallies with campaign money to people who already like him?
SALENA ZITO, STAFF REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I want to give some context to the maps because I was in the room before that picture was taken.
ZITO: I had a interview with him yesterday and we were talking about counties and he brought the map out. So that might have a little bit to do with the fact that it was still sitting, maybe still sitting there.
BURNETT: OK. So we brought out for you and then you showed it to -
ZITO: Well, you know, I mean, it's there, right? You might share it.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: (INAUDIBLE) that he actually still has them -
BURNETT: Right there, easy reach.
ZITO: So, you know, look, I've spent a lot of time out there in the past couple of months just in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, talking with his voters. If you were his voters, you are incredibly still happen with him and the polls have shown that.
BURNETT: Yes. Yes, they do.
ZITO: But, you know, in our interview, one of the things he said was, I like to stay connected with the people. I like to stay connected with the people that voted for me. And so that rally gives him that opportunity to go out there and talk about his accomplishments without the filter of the press and get the feedback from -
BROWNSTEIN: Those last full words are incredibly revealing though. That voted for me. I mean, he has been intensely focus on the people who voted for him. He is facing more resistance outside of his initial coalition than any newly elected president ever.
BURNETT: So, is he making a mistake, Kayleigh? OK. They love him, they still love him. The polls show that. He doesn't need to worry about them right now. He needs to get other people on board. He's not even getting legislation through when he has his own - the senate in the house.
MCENANY: I don't think -
BURNETT: Does he need to win over new people?
MCENANY: Look, he does, absolutely. But look, for him to give a nudge to his electoral victory, he likes to relive that moment. We can't blame him for that. But in terms of winning over other voters, that's going to come to by delivering on this populist promises, the ones like not overturning the pre-existing for the - pre-existing conditions provisions of Obamacare, free trade, the economy. If he delivers on those, he will broaden his base.
BURNETT: So in the first - this 100 day interview as he's been given, he's given a few, he touched you, he touched Reuters, he hasn't just bragged about his win, he's talk about his job and he said that it's a lot harder than I thought. And we heard in these interviews, it's actually something that he has mentioned it several times since he took office. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your posture?
TRUMP: I think the size, the magnitude of everything. It's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. It's a common refrain and Doug, then when he talked about China and helping with North Korea, he said after listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy, OK? Or refrain, using the word easy, it's a lot harder than I thought. Should he have been better prepared?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, of course. And he shouldn't be I think telling people that you're just kind of our for lunch and you didn't really realize that the president of the United States wasn't going to be this difficult. I don't know what he gains by doing that kind of sound bite. And the problem he has, I think, Erin is it's been a tough 100 days. Most historians will tell you it's been the worst 100 days. And as you pointed out, he hasn't made a reach to unify the country. John Kennedy had a tough 100 days. He had the Bay of Pigs, Yuri Gagarin went up in the space but then Kennedy pivoted it in May of '61, did the moon shot. So we're going to go the moon to get. Donald Trump still keeps doing the divided politics, the map of 2006 is his life blood.
BURNETT: So Keith, what next?
KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER CLINTN WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I think he's going to keep campaigning, you know, because campaigning is the easy part. Governing is the hard part. During the campaigning, he said he was going to lock up Hillary Clinton, he was going to build a wall, he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare. He had people chanting and praising him. And now he can't do any of that stuff and he feels like he has to keep going back to the well in order to get that satisfaction, the glory that he gets from being on the campaign trail.
But the reality is he is a completely inexperienced president who's incapable of achieving his goals because he can't do this alone. He's got to work with congress, he's got to work with the judiciary, he's got to work with the other state congress.
BURNETT: On your point about the election, Mark, today, he did, he not just - he hasn't just - by the way, he's using campaign money for some of these rallies because it's his supporters that are coming, right? It isn't a weird word to use. It's accurate. So, he actually started campaigning for 2020 today.
BURNETT: OK? Because he slammed one of his favorite targets, someone who he thinks will run against him, someone he calls Pocahontas. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, I have plenty of those democrats coming over and you're going to say no, sir, no, thank you. No, ma'am. Perhaps ma'am. It may be Pocahontas. Remember that. And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRESTON: Well, what I would suggest to our viewers --
BURNETT: BY the way, we are talking about Elizabeth Warren. PRESTON: Elizabeth Warren.
BURNETT: For those who do not know how Pocahontas is.
PRESTON: So it's not to take up a five-minute discussion about why she is describing as Pocahontas, go to Google, type it in -- type in CNN, you'll find out why he says that. A couple things. One is it is belittling I think for the president of the United States to be doing that and I don't think that's very presidential. So, to be attacking a senator by using a name like that, I think is wrong. Having said that, he is right. I mean, she's on a book tour right now. She clearly wants to run for president. Some say she doesn't. She has her own problems, she's not necessarily media friendly. But before he gets to that point, he's going to have republican primary. Nobody's talking about that right now. He's only 100 days in right now and the person who I think is going to run against him is out with the book right now as well and that's John Kasich.
BURNETT: All right.
BROWNSTEIN: -- using that language, that is, you know, that is borderline racist, if not, over the borderline of racist language and it is one of the reasons why I disagree a little with Kayleigh that results will not change entirely that 55 percent who views him as kind of personally unfit and not reflecting the value -
BOYKIN: -- whether or not they admit that, that's what it is. They like that xenophobia. They like that hatred. As long as - as long as he's being decisive, they elected Donald Trump, they don't want the unifying Donald Trump.
MCENANY: You try to sow racism chargers and anti-Semitism charges during the campaign, it didn't work because voters seek through that. He was making a joke -- he was making a joke -
BOYKIN: Except where he lost the election, the popular vote by three million votes. So apparently most people did buy it.
MCENANY: He was making a joke in the crowd -
BRINKLEY: -- eve of him saying we may going to war with Korea and yet he's belittling and mocking U.S. senators. If we go to war, we got to do it as Americans.
BOYKIN: Thank you.
BRINLEY: It's not a day to have partisan kind of sniping it for really that close to a conflict.
BURNETT: We hit pause. All of you going to be with us after this break. Because President Trump is blaming the Obama administration not -- for not properly vetting Mike Flynn. Coming up. Himself and saying this today. We're going to lay this out because Flynn was Donald Trump's national security advisor. And what did President Obama say about President Trump behind closed doors? A power player who was in that room has all the answers. She's my guest tonight.
BURNETT: Breaking news. President Trump playing the blame game tonight saying just like Sean Spicer did that it's not Obama's fault or that it is Obama's fault, I'm sorry, not Trump's fault for failing to properly vet the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
[19:30:04] Here's President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When they say we didn't vet, well, Obama I guess didn't vet because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. Here are some of the facts. Flynn worked for President Trump for 24 days. Now he's right. That's not a long time but it is about 25 percent of his presidency thus far. And Flynn himself admitted that he began advising then candidate Trump in February 2016. OK. That's a long time. That means he worked with Trump for a full year.
My panel is back with me.
Kayleigh, I want to start with you. General Flynn was one of Trump's closest advisers. OK, we just have to admit that. Before the presidency he certainly wasn't. Of course at the beginning of presidency. He was a vice presidential consideree. He -- after he came out as adviser to Trump, he was on CNN at least a dozen times. Two of them actually on this program. Trump himself regularly praised Flynn and personally praised him. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I do think he's a fine man. A truly great general right here. Mike, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: By the way, two of those times were after he was president of the United States, when Flynn was the former National Security adviser. Does he really think he can just distance himself from Flynn now and say oh, he was here a short time, it's Obama's fault?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in some ways he is not distancing himself. We know when he fired General Flynn, he praised General Flynn. Up until I think yesterday he still was praising General Flynn. I think what he's trying to point out is very important and very significant because he'll have colleagues like my friend Keith try to make you think that General Flynn was found in the corner of some alt-right conference. Not at all. General Flynn was a decorated general, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Appointed by -- nominated rather by a Democratic president. Went through the vetting process with -- in the Obama administration, so he's merely pointing out, this was not some random guy. This was someone I trusted because, look, the former president trusted him as well.
BURNETT: The foreign president also fired him.
BOYKIN: Exactly the point. I mean, the problem here -- I don't think that General Flynn came from some alt-right convention as Kayleigh said. But the problem here is that Donald Trump won't accept responsibility. This is his problem. His team failed to vet him. And this is typical of Trump's behavior. When the generals failed the Yemen raid -- you remember when the Yemen raid failed and the Navy SEAL was killed he blamed the generals. He didn't take responsibility for himself. When healthcare failed, he blamed the Republicans in Congress and blamed the Democrats. He blamed everyone but himself.
At some point, and I think Doug can talk about this as a historian, you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops here. When you're the president of the United States, you have to be responsible. You can't keep passing the buck to everybody else. It's time for him to grow up.
BURNETT: Up to this point, you know, Sean Spicer's example was, well, look, you know, it's the Secret Service, or whomever, vet reporters that come in here, I don't vet you. You know, the issue with that is of course you're also vetted by your news organization, by say CNN. Right? So it's CNN's responsibility to make sure that their reporter isn't plagiarizing or lying or whatever it might be. That's different than getting a White House credential. OK. That's -- in the same this is different. Yes, President Obama's team, perhaps they made mistakes, I don't know. But President Trump's team was responsible for vetting him, too.
BRINKLEY: Well, and for General Flynn was his sort of one-man counsel on foreign relations for a while. It wasn't just a little bit of an association. They were tied to the hip, General Flynn and Donald Trump, early on in the campaign.
I think the problem I see it's -- that Donald Trump wants to constantly blame Obama for everything. Now presidents do that. Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter's malaise.
BRINKLEY: The difference is, you know, Ronald Reagan also reached out to Ted Kennedy, reached out to Tip O'Neill. We're not seeing a reach- out here. We're seeing this continual division in the country. A leader's got to find a way to break that to be successful. You can't run at 40 percent. You've got to get to 50.
BURNETT: On this issue of Russia, which of course General Flynn is inextricably linked, Ron, right?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: Because that is why he ended up being fired.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes.
BURNETT: Other Trump advisers with ties to Russia are also getting the same treatment of we barely knew them, they barely worked here.
BURNETT: Here's some of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did, to your knowledge, Carter Page really have any role? I mean, did he put in policy papers? Do you know?
JASON MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: No, not at all. And here's the deal. So Carter Page never met President Trump. He never spoke with President Trump.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: In the case of Mr. Page and Mr. Gordon, some others, I've spoken directly with the president and other senior officials about this. He doesn't know these gentlemen.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously there's been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I end on that one on purpose. He was the chairman of the campaign.
BURNETT: The General Flynn thing, he worked here for a short amount of time when he worked for a year.
BURNETT: Why are they doing this?
BROWNSTEIN: Because they are kind of preempting the possibility that the investigations by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees or the FBI finds more evidence of interaction between these figures and Russian intelligence that was actively trying to disrupt the U.S. election.
[19:35:07] So they are kind of in a preemptive manner trying to create more distance between the president and -- but when you get to the point of saying that Paul Manafort was not important, you've jumped the shark, yes.
ZITO: He always does things incredibly different. He is always going to do things incredibly different. And so disruptive to us as the press because we're used to people following a certain protocol and how they deal with --
BURNETT: A factual protocol.
ZITO: Yes. And --
ZITO: Well, you know what I think? I think we're going to be talking about this -- four years from now, or three years from now. I don't see him and his team changing unless there's some big disaster.
BURNETT: All right. Pause there for a moment. What did President Obama say about President Trump to a very, very small elite crowd today? Well, guess what, someone in that room going to tell you everything next.
And Melania Trump's first 100 days. Hey, is that move to Washington happening?
BURNETT: Tonight President Obama taking a swipe at President Trump.
[19:40:02] Obama back in the public eye this week speaking at a closed event in New York yesterday. And today someone inside that room is telling us exactly what he said. According to somebody Obama noted, the Affordable Care Act has never been more popular and it's more popular than the current president.
And OUTFRONT now, Janice Min, the former editor of the "Hollywood Reporter" who was at President Obama's speech.
And Janice, what did President Obama say about President Trump?
JANICE MIN, FORMER EDITOR, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Well, so it was a room of about 150 people at the Pierre Hotel in New York, very exclusive media, New York power player crowd. He walks out, standing ovation, thunderous applause. And he walks out -- maybe the first thing he said was, contrary to what you may all think, this is not the end of the world right now.
You know, he was speaking to A&A which had President Obama there. They are the owners of the History Channel so he made a statement about history and he said history is a long continuous thread. It doesn't stop and start and sometimes there are minor setbacks on your way to progress. But he was -- I believe during the whole he was on stage 90 minutes, he uttered Donald Trump's name once.
BURNETT: And obviously sounds like he was being political around it in many other ways.
BURNETT: But when he uttered his name once, what was that?
MIN: This was when Doris Kearns Goodwin interviewed him for part of the -- part of the event and she asked his -- what was his biggest regret. And he was very candid and he said, I made a mistake a day. Michelle might say I make more but I made at least one mistake a day. And that sort of segued into Syria. And he said, it might feel good to go take a military action what is the long term plan. I believe he may have invoked Trump's name at that time. It wasn't in a derisive sense but there were a lot of allusions to Donald Trump.
Another question that was asked of him was, Doris Kearns Goodwin said, there are five surviving presidents. Why don't you guys create the president's club and go visit the sitting president and give advice every month? And he talked about his friendship with George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and said that was a very pleasant surprise of his office. But he was very clear, I don't think that's going to work for this administration.
BURNETT: So, you know, you're talking about what he's saying, Janice. I mean, people are very eager to hear what he has to say.
BURNETT: Right? He's been quiet. I mean, he came out against the travel ban.
BURNETT: But other than that very quiet. He took a long vacation and all we've seen is pictures of him sort of taking a break. Right?
BURNETT: What was he like? Was he tanned and healthy? Was he --
MIN: I mean, relaxed. He was so relaxed. And he made -- I mean, he just looked happy, he looked unbelievably happy. And he -- you know, he made jokes about what he misses in the White House and he joked, you know, he joked, you know, of course Air Force One was great, Marine One, and he talked -- you know, he made a joke, boy, traffic sure is really -- sure is bad. I wasn't aware how bad traffic has gotten.
And that he talked -- also he seemed very consumed by the polarization of media. He talked about fake news. And he said -- he invoked FOX News and the "New York Times" in particular and he said, you know, if I were -- you know, you have FOX News, you have the "New York Times." If you're consumers of those -- of that media, you are just basically fulfilling -- those outlets are fulfilling the bias of the audience they have.
BURNETT: And he also came out in defense of Ann Coulter?
MIN: This was stunning in the room. So, you know, remember who you're talking to, probably largely liberals in Manhattan, and Doris Kearns Goodwin asked him of -- also about his views on the First Amendment. And he said -- and he said, listen, I think the things that are going on right now on college campuses can be crazy. They're a little extreme. He said Ann Coulter at Berkeley, she should be allowed to speak. That's ridiculous. Of course she should be allowed to speak. And, you know, so for -- you know, for one second in time Ann Coulter and Barack Obama were allies on the same topic and it was -- it kind of an amazing moment.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Janice, thank you so very much. I appreciate it.
MIN: My pleasure. Thank you.
BURNETT: And my panel is back with me -- Mark.
PRESTON: Well, a couple of things. One is for someone who's in the media as several of us are here, not necessarily a great thing that we heard right there that President Barack Obama walked into a room with thunderous applause and then -- you know what I mean?
BURNETT: That is a fair point.
PRESTON: And look, it could have been the Hollywood media. We don't know if it was the New York mainstream media, so to speak.
PRESTON: And then she also noted that there was lots of liberals, you know, in the room. Again not necessarily good for the media. But on a serious note, a very serious note, he did say it's not the end of the world right now. He's absolutely right. While we may have policy differences the world is not ending right now but he does need to have -- and when I say he, President Trump, needs to have some kind of plans for Syria.
BURNETT: And Salena, also, saying FOX News and the "New York Times."
ZITO: I thought that was --
BURNETT: Equating them.
ZITO: I actually thought that was smart. And here's why.
[19:45:03] He's made it his purpose to rebuild the bottom of the party. A lot of those sort of blue-collar Democrats have felt that the "New York Times" does not speak to them. So -- and maybe they're not FOX News people. So this is a way to -- a beginning way to have a conversation and reach out and let people know that he's listening to them, because they don't have any down-ballot --
BROWNSTEIN: All right. He would loom large in a Democratic debate overtime because Hillary Clinton tried to follow his model. Focus on mobilizing millennials and minorities. Not so much worried about blue-collar whites. She couldn't do it. The question in 2020 will be, will they find someone else who can do it better than her or they go the other way and try to win back those blue-collar Democrats that Salena is writing about.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all. And next, the very private first lady has gone very public this week. Is she starting to embrace her new role? And former CNN-er, Kamau Bell sits down with a white supremacist and we're going to tell you what happened next.
BURNETT: Tonight Melania Trump makes a rare solo appearance in Washington at a children's hospital. It's the third day in a row of public events for the first lady. A first lady who has spent much of the first 100 days in private.
CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett is OUTFRONT.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): Ninety-nine days into President Trump's presidency, First Lady Melania Trump is just getting comfortable with her new role.
[19:50:05] Today visiting Children's National Health System in Washington, to speak at a dedication of a hospital garden.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It has always been my belief that the nurturing and positive environment is vital to the health and well-being of all children.
BENNETT: Reluctant to embrace her position during the early months of her husband's presidency, Melania has remained mostly out of the spotlight. It wasn't until late March that she gave her first formal on-camera remarks at the 2017 Secretary of State International Women of Courage Award.
M. TRUMP: As leaders of our shared global economy, we must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.
BENNETT: Her lack of visibility is partly because she chose to stay at Trump Tower in New York with her 11-year-old son Barron through the end of the school year. Yet slowly Melania has been inching into the public eye. At the Easter egg roll she spent time with children and she's increasingly at the president's side, even reminding him to put his hand over his heart during the playing of the national anthem.
This is a much different picture than inauguration day when President Trump awkwardly left her behind while greeting the Obamas.
The learning curve has been steep. In February the first lady of Japan, Aki Abe, accompanied her husband to Washington, but Melania was noticeably absent, joining instead at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. But several weeks later when Queen Rania of Jordan visited, Melania was on hand.
M. TRUMP: We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children especially in social media.
BENNETT: During the campaign, Mrs. Trump promised to combat cyberbullying as first lady. However, it's not a topic she's embraced in her first 100 days. Most recently she has focused on women's empowerment and access to education.
M. TRUMP: It is therefore our duty to continue to shine the light on each miraculous victory achieved by women.
BENNETT: As she continues to define her causes, she is also expected to build her East Wing staff. Her hiring pace lagging behind other first ladies during this time perhaps because she is not yet living in the White House.
It's still unclear when she will make her final move to the White House but there are signs that the wheels are in motion. The official White House interior decorator appointed by Melania continues to make the house a home for the Trumps.
BENNETT: Melania's visit to Children's Hospital today is another sign she's learning to dive in a bit more and engage the press. More evidence that she's taking on this new role as first lady -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kate.
And next, I'll go OUTFRONT with Kamau Bell. Is he the only man who can laugh at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SPENCER: We're here to talk about white privilege. We want to bring it back. Make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:56:54] BURNETT: CNN's original series "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" returns this Sunday. Host Kamau Bell kicks off the new season with an amazing conversation with one of the founders of these so-called alt- right movement, the white nationalist, Richard Spencer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPENCER: We're here to talk about white privilege. We want to bring it back. Make America great again. Yes. (LAUGHTER)
KAMAU BELL, COMEDIAN AND CNN HOST: So you're a -- so you're a fan of white privilege?
SPENCER: Oh, yes.
BELL: I mean, what -- what do you love about white privilege?
SPENCER: It looks great. Like, you know, I mean, the people are good looking and, you know, nice suits. Great literature. Like, yes, I just want to bathe in white privilege. This greatest, the most awesome thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Kamau is with me. I mean, Kamau, you know, bathe in white privilege.
BURNETT: This is a guy who has said many things very seriously. He's sitting there almost as if he's joking but saying something as shocking as bathe in white privilege.
BURNETT: I mean, what did you think?
BELL: I think he's a guy who sees that there's a chance for him to have a moment right now and he's trying to run into that moment. And so when he's sitting with a comedian, he was really trying to like be my friend almost. And really trying to want to -- you can tell this is a guy who wants to be a star. I'm a comedian. I hang out with a lot of people who are --
BURNETT: Do you believe him to mean those things?
BELL: I can't say I don't believe him but I do think he's taking advantage of the moment, like, you know, that he knows how to play the audience and plays it often and plays it well.
BURNETT: So he's sitting there, talking to you. A black man interviewing him. And you're laughing.
BURNETT: And you seem to be laughing genuinely. I mean did you --
BURNETT: Did you think it was funny? I mean, what was your -- what your sense of him as a person?
BELL: Because I'm a comedian, I tend to laugh at things that a lot of people don't laugh at, and to me the idea of wanting to bring white privilege back is absurd because where did it go?
BELL: I was like, where was it? And the image of bathing in white privilege is pretty hilarious like to me it's like, what are you talking about? Like half in this country do more for you than it's doing right now. And so I -- you know, my wife hates the fact that I laugh at things that aren't appropriate but to me the whole thing was absurd. And I also noted the more comfortable he is, the more he'll say things he doesn't expect to say.
BURNETT: OK. So did you -- when you walked away, find him -- I know you're a comedian. Did you find it funny? Or did you find him vile? When you spent that face-to-face time with him.
BELL: No. I mean, by the way we got to leave -- we've been there for hours. We all like ran out of that place like it was on fire. Like it was -- because to be around that space for like several hours and to really hear -- they were openly talking about their plans for the country, how they believe America is for whites only and how --
BELL: All the aggressive and violent talk, it was hard to stomach but I really knew that we needed to stay there because this is about getting it for the show. And the rest of the show was about immigrants and refugees.
BELL: This is just to counterpoint to that. There's a very beautiful story that's being told in the show. That's like you need to see this because if you -- if we don't deal with this then we can't have this other part.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Kamau, I can't wait to see it as always. You know, you have this ability to bring people out in a way that no one else does. So thank you so much. I'm really looking forward to it, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," premieres on Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern. You've got to see Kamau's amazing work.
And thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere, you just go to CNNGo. Have a wonderful weekend. "AC 360" begins right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman here in for Anderson. Breaking news, just moments ago, the president of the United States said that the federal investigations into Russian ties to Trump associates is a totally made-up story. Made-up.