Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Polling: Trump Job Approval Dips to 38 Percent, Disapproval Hits 56 Percent; Trump Targets Senator, New Media on Social Media. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 7, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

It's 200 days since the Trump administration. Eighty-three days into special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigations. So far, we've seen one solo press conference from the president, which is a record low, and you have seen one pick to the Supreme Court confirmed, but otherwise had zero signature legislative accomplishments.

All of it one way or another is reflected in new CNN exclusive polling which is just out just now. The top line number from CNN/SSRS, just 38 percent now approve of the job the president is doing. That is a new low in our survey, and cause for concern certainly in a time when his predecessors were still by and large enjoying a honeymoon with voters.

In fact, only one other newly elected president has held an approval rating below 50 percent at this point in his presidency since modern polling began. That was Bill Clinton at 44 percent back in 1993. All the rest have ranged from George W. Bush's 55 percent to John F Kennedy's job approval number, which was pretty staggering when you look at it today, of 75 percent.

In addition, it's sobering as some of the underlying numbers would raise concerns would any new administration, especially on questions about trust, judgment, and support from his base.

In short, a lot to glean from a closer look, which is why we begin tonight with CNN's political director, David Chalian.

So, David, 38 percent approval. Certainly not good news for this White House tonight.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, there's the big report card. You're right, 38 percent, not a good number at all.

We dig in, Anderson, a little bit. Take a look here. We look at are people -- where is the strength of this response? In approval or disapproval?

Take a look here. Twenty-four percent say they strongly approve. But 47 percent say they strongly disapprove. So the fervent feeling in this response is on the disapproval side from 2-1 there.

And then, of course, we take a look at Republicans. How is the president doing amongst his fellow partisans? Strongly approve.

These are Republican only, who say they strongly approve. In February, it was 73 percent. In March, it was 69 percent. And now, in this poll tonight, 59 percent of Republicans strongly approve of the president's job performance.

Anderson, this is a chink in the armor.

COOPER: People -- the poll also asks whether people trust what they hear from the White House. What did it find?

CHALIAN: Anderson, I think this is the most astonishing number in the entire poll. Seventy-three percent of Americans only believe some or nothing at all in terms of what's coming out of the White House in official statements and communications, only a quarter of Americans believe most or everything, trust most or everything coming out of the White House. This here is the credibility gap that we talk about so often. This here is the Trump trust deficit with Americans. He's got to fix this.

COOPER: Questions also were asked about the president's Twitter use.

CHALIAN: Yes. You might find this really interesting, especially after today, where all those tweets were coming. But 52 percent, a majority of Americans, say that his tweets are not effective for sharing his views. A healthy minority here, 45 percent, say that they actually are effective.

But look at this -- we asked, is it a risky way to communicate? Seven in 10 Americans say that it is a risky way to communicate. We also ask about what he's responding to. Seventy percent of Americans, Anderson, tell us that President Trump is too often tweeting in response to what he's watching on television, watching us or others and what he's consuming in the news.

COOPER: When it comes to the president's base, I mean, he was tweeting about it today that his base is growing. How is he doing in this poll with his base?

CHALIAN: That's a good question, Anderson. We're not seeing growth or getting stronger as he discussed at all. Here we're just looking at white voters without college degrees. So, this was a key part of the Trump base.

You remember back in November, this helped fuel him to the White House. He won this group of voters by 37 points last November. So, how is he doing on two key attributes? Bringing about needed change? In April, 64 percent of these voters said yes, he's bringing about needed change. Now, that's down to 58 percent.

What about managing the government? Sixty-two percent of white non- college voters said in April that he indeed could manage the government effectively. Now, that's down to 50 percent. Fifty percent of his core supporters are now saying he can't manage the government effectively. Again, you're seeing a little bit of slippage. COOPER: All right. David, stay right there. We're going to have

more on all those tweets shortly.

Before bringing the rest of the panel, I just want to underscore that trust number that David showed that we talked about. Just 24 percent saying they trust all or most of what they hear in official communications from the White House. One reason for low how it is could be that this president, just 200 days in office, has said so many things that simply are not true, including some that practical disintegrate the moment he hit send on the Twitter machine.

This afternoon, at 4:15 Eastern, he tweeted, the fake news media will not talk about the importance of the United Nations Security Council's 15-0 in favor of sanctions on North Korea. The irony is he sent at the same moment that CNN's Barbara Starr was reporting on just that, and, of course, we're going to have reporting tonight on North Korea as well in the vote.

This morning, as we mentioned, he tweeted: The Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before, despite some phony fake news polling.

[20:05:06] Now, the president is free to argue with any polling he wants. He can take issue with the latest Quinnipiac polling. But as David just mentioned, our CNN/SSRS numbers also show the president's base is indeed eroding. And it's worth pointing out, the president never called the polls fake back when he was riding high on them. Back then, what he now calls fake was his favorite story.

Joining David Chalian and me is Christine Quinn, Matt Lewis, Alice Stewart and Abby Phillip.

Alice, when you see these numbers, what jumps out to you?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what always comes to mind is when you're on the campaign or in an administration, you see a poll that's not good, you say, oh, this is a snapshot in time. This is just one look at polls of the people.


STEWART: Unfortunately, you look at the real clear politics trend, you have the approval line going down and the disapproval line going up. That's not the trajectory that you want. And we had Kellyanne Conway acknowledging this weekend, things need to go up, the numbers need to go up.

I think this will be a wakeup call for the administration. I think they realize we have to have some legislative accomplishments, whether the -- it's repealing Obamacare. Whether it'd be tax reform, something needs to get done to turn these numbers around, because it's not going in the direction they need it to go.

COOPER: And some of the president's supporters say, look, if he gets two or three, you know, accomplishments, that's fine, that's really all he needs. I mean, he already has Gorsuch. You look at that polling for President Clinton was 44 percent, that's the lowest next to President Trump. He got re-elected.

CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I tell you a couple of things about that. I mean, we don't see a path or indication that the president's going to do really well in getting anything done in Congress. And a lot of his recent tweets have actually been attacking members of his own party. So, if I was the White House, I think you're right, that can help save some of these numbers. But I don't see a lot of that potential.

Also, I think, for me if I was a Republican, the most troubling number is the trust number that you mentioned. And why would I say that? Because as a Hillary Clinton supporter, we always had a low trust number for her, and in the end, that was part of what eroded all of the other potential in her numbers. It's very hard to overcome that, people seeing you as untrustworthy, and particularly this early in your administration, it's really hard to overcome.

COOPER: But I feel like even during the election, there were people who kind of thought, OK, he doesn't tell the truth all the time or he exaggerates or you know -- but that was sort of baked in. They kind of looked at other issues as more important. Is it not?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, but I think he was also running against Hillary Clinton, and he was a celebrity, and -- but he also didn't have the baggage of having been president and the expectations of that. There's no way to look at these numbers and to spin it and say this is good news. Even Kellyanne Conway isn't doing that.

But I do think that it's maybe not as bad as people think. So I agree, I think Donald Trump might get something done, right? And might get tax reform done.

The economy right now is riding high. If that continues, and it's a big, big if, that's how a lot of people vote is on their pocketbook. And I also think the midterms could end up being fairly good for Republicans, not because of Donald Trump, maybe in spite of Donald Trump.

But the wind is at their back, Democrats are defending their seats. So, you could envision and scenario, and here's I think is the big key. You mentioned Bill Clinton who managed to win, you know, without 50 percent of the vote because there were third party candidates.

If I were Donald Trump's team, my number one priority would be making sure there was a Ross Perot somehow runs for president. That's what he needs, and he's got some time to make that happen. But a third party candidate might be a nice --

COOPER: Although it's hard to know in this day and age if a third party candidate, if a business candidate could cut into --

LEWIS: But it's the only scenario I think -- I mean, you do have the Electoral College. He could potentially once again win the presidency without the popular vote. But otherwise, it's really hard to imagine a scenario whereby you could win re-election at whatever percentage he's at.

QUINN: Well, you know, think about it, who's going to do a solid for him and throw themselves out there as a third party candidate when he is famous for throwing people under the bus, and being -- wanting all kinds of loyalty and disregarding it. So, I think the likelihood of some unhandpicked -- handpicked candidate to help him is never going to come to fruition.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The more likely thing is probably that you'll see an actual challenger, a Republican challenger who shows up on the scene. I mean, I think this is a very real thing that the White House is also somewhat insecure about, given the statements and the tweets over the last couple of days. And that's partly because I think that's a real risk here that what -- even the people kind of in the middle, those Romney voters who were always waffling throughout the entire election, who sided with Trump toward the very end, one of the big frustrations right now are the self- inflicted wounds.

They gave Trump an opportunity to go out there as a kind of, you know, an outsider or businessman. He was going to approach things very differently. And what they see is just chaos.

It's hard at this point to undo that perception, because it's been so baked in for six months.

[20:10:03] The White House and everything around Donald Trump has been incredibly chaotic. I think both Trump's voters are going to be re- evaluating that, but also the Republican Party is looking at their 2018 prospects and 2020 prospects, and they're saying, should we just cut our losses? At some point, they will have to evaluate, do we cut our losses, put someone else on the table and see if they can unseat a president who is at 30, low 30s, 33, 35, 38 percent.

You know, like Christine and Matt said, it's hard to see a president being re-elected at those numbers.

COOPER: David, I understand the poll also asked about turnover among top advisers in the White House.

CHALIAN: Yes, this gets at the chaos that Abby was just talking about here, whether that's working for him or not, 58 percent of Americans in this poll, Anderson, say that changing all the turnover among top advisers hurts the administration's effectiveness. Only 37 percent see it as necessary to be effective. So, that chaos doesn't seem to be working for him.

One other note I wanted to show you on the trust issue you were talking about before, look how it's split by party. Republicans split evenly on this. Obviously, Democrats and independents are gone, they don't trust him. But even among Republicans, only 48 percent of Republicans are hear -- are not believing what they are hearing out of the White House.

COOPER: Alice, so much of what the president has done has been to try to keep the base loyal.


COOPER: With these numbers, does he need to try to expand that out or does he need to just double down on the base?

STEWART: He needs to really do both, because as we saw with the numbers David pointed out, he's losing some of the GOP. I think looking at the big picture -- chaos is fine as long as you're accomplishing your legislative agenda. And I think as we move down the road and we have his base and a lot of Republicans are satisfied with what he's doing with national security, the sanctions with North Korea and Venezuela, as well as Iran, that's going to move those numbers in my view.

And also, if he continues with reducing the federal regulations, that will help the stock market. And the people really are concerned about jobs. We're so far out from any election. But if the jobs are coming in and the economy is more stable, we'll see those numbers go up.

COOPER: We should also point out that while he's tweeting, I mean, Jeff Sessions is, you know, working at the Department of Justice undoing a lot of the stuff that Obama did put in.

PHILLIPS: And John Kelly was in the White House. He was at the Department of Homeland Security, really transforming the landscape on immigration. So, there are real things happening in this administration. But it's in pits and starts. And the question is, to Alice's point, what do people feel when they just make a decision about what they support and what they don't?

I think to some extent, they're concerned about security. They're concerned national security and their feeling of safety in their homes. But I think that less so, this regulation thing is kind of -- it's kind of opaque and it's kind of very ideological. A lot of Trump voters are not ideological. They want to know what's going to make them better, what's going to make their families better, and I'm not sure they've seen that yet.

COOPER: Plenty more to talk about, including more on the president's new tweet storm today and what it says about any hopes his new chief of staff, John Kelly, may have about putting a trigger guard on his boss's Twitter finger. We'll tell you who the president went to war with today on Twitter.

Later, we'll do more reporting on what the president suggested we're not reporting on at all, namely the nuclear showdown with North Korea. We'll be right back.


[20:16:56] COOPER: Now we know what the president does when he rains on his vacation. He tweets, a lot. His new chief of staff, John Kelly, might be imposing military discipline on the rest of the West Wing, but it did not extend today to the president's Bedminster, New Jersey golf club and vacation retreat, where 13 tweets sprang forth, including a complaint about fake news and several pokes at Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, attacking him on his military service during the Vietnam War, but not actually in Vietnam.

CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now with more.

So, so much for a sort of a kinder, gentler vacationing president.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. The president is fully in command of his smartphone during his vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey.

He did go after Richard Blumenthal, the senator from Connecticut, and essentially he was going after the senator over his comments over the last couple of days, specifically on CNN, criticizing the president, criticizing the Trump administration for going after leaks. They have been really going on a hunt for leaks inside this administration, and Senator Blumenthal has been saying we don't want to put a chilling effect on the Russia investigation.

And because of that, the president issued these tweets. We can put it up on screen and says: Working hard from New Jersey. This is the president insisting he's not on vacation. Working hard from New Jersey, while the White House goes on with planned renovations, going to New York for more meetings.

And then he goes after Senator Blumenthal, interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about how Russian -- hoax Russian collusion, when he was a phony Vietnam con artist.

That was an attack on Blumenthal who acknowledged he misled voters when he was running for the Senate about his military service during Vietnam.

But, Anderson, we should also point out that the president himself received five draft deferments during Vietnam War. One of those deferments was for bone spurs in his feet. And so, you know, one other point we should add, you mentioned the president's tweets about fake news today, he was going after fake news all day long today.

But later on in the afternoon, he accused the news media of ignoring new sanctions being placed on North Korea. That is not the case. We've been reporting over the last couple of days now. So, that in and itself coming from the president is his own version of fake news in a form of a tweet.

COOPER: Right. We are reporting that -- obviously, tonight as well.

The new White House chief of staff, General John Kelly, I mean, he was at Bedminster with the president this weekend and this morning, correct?

ACOSTA: He was. And he's expected to come in and out of New Jersey over the next couple of weeks. He's going to be with the president throughout this time and essentially this raises the question, of course, wasn't John Kelly brought in to maintain discipline and bring order to the West Wing? But all of these tweets that we've seen so far today, Anderson, are

an illustration of the fact that the chief of staff can only do so much. He's not the chief of staff overseeing the president of the United States. The president is the chief of staff's boss. And so, we're going to have to see how all of this plays out.

We should point out when the chief of staff was with the president earlier this year in May, when he was the Department of Homeland Security secretary, he joked to the president that he should use a ceremonial sword that he was given at a Coast Guard commencement to go after the news media.

[20:20:05] So, it's possible that yes, even as the president is tweeting going after fake news and going after the national news media, he may actually have the support of his new chief of staff who obviously apparently feels the same way in some respect when it comes to the news media -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. All right. Jim Acosta, appreciate it.

Tonight, back with my panel, including Alice Stewart, who tweeted today: Tuesday weather forecast for Bedminster, New Jersey, partly cloudy, 100 percent chance of tweets.

He's going to continue to do this.

STEWART: Of course.

QUINN: Right.

COOPER: I mean, we all know this.

STEWART: Sure. General Kelly is the chief of staff, President Trump is the chief of Twitter. And that's the way it's always going to be.

And, look, if you look at it from his perspective, he has 35 million Twitter followers. This is his way to get his message directly to them. Thirteen tweets today, majority of them had to do with the fake Russia story, fake news, and how huge his base is, and how solid his base is.

These are messages he doesn't think is getting out through the media, and he's using his Twitter following to get his message directly to them.

PHILLIP: And he doesn't want to be stopped from going after people who he thinks are doing harm to him or to his agenda. Richard Blumenthal has been in his crosshairs from basically the beginning. And there's no stopping Trump once he decides that you need to be cut down to size from him doing that on his own. I mean, those are the kinds of tweets that when you talk to Trump aides, they're like, we could probably live without those. But those are the ones that Trump thinks are the closest to his personality, and closest to who he is as --

COOPER: I mean, it is pretty emblematic of the president that he goes after somebody who actually was in the military during Vietnam.

QUINN: Right.

COOPER: He wasn't serving in Vietnam as he had indicated. For a guy who got all these deferments, you know --

QUINN: Well, you know it doesn't help one's trust numbers go up is blatant hypocrisy. So, he's on vacation for 17 days, twice as long as President Obama's vacation in his first year of office. He spent 24 percent of his first 200 days at a Trump golf property or resort. He claims that all this golfing is to cut deals, though we've seen no deals effectively implemented in Congress. So you have that hypocrisy.

On top of the fact -- and, look, Senator Blumenthal should never have misled people, but he took responsibility for that, which the president does not when he misleads people. So, you have a draft dodger attacking someone who did serve in the military during Vietnam, although not in Vietnam.

I think this piling on hypocrisy is going to further erode his trust numbers. And that's very dangerous for him and very good for the Democrats.

LEWIS: I think the big -- for me, the big thing is, the big question is, what does this say about General Kelly?


LEWIS: And my take is, he is a general, not a magician. I do not think that this tells us much, or I don't think that this says that the chief of staff isn't improving things.

COOPER: Right.

LEWIS: There are a lot of things -- first of all, Donald Trump is a 71-year-old billionaire who is clearly difficult to manage, even if he were his boss, and the chief of staff is not his boss.

But there are a lot of things you might want to get under control and rein in if you're the chief of staff. Maybe you try to get the president quit attacking the Republican attorney general. Maybe you would try to get your staff --

COOPER: Which he has done.

LEWIS: Which he has done.

COOPER: He's sort (INAUDIBLE) to the attorney general.

LEWIS: So, there's a lot of -- I'm sorry -- a lot of low-hanging fruit, and it may just be that this is -- you're not going to get Donald Trump to stop attacking Democrats.

COOPER: And, David, I mean, Kelly's larger focus, it seems like it was about unifying the West Wing. So, it's not like curbing the president's Twitter habits was his number one priority.

CHALIAN: Right. Clearly, we've heard about him instilling some discipline about having appointments to go in and out of the Oval Office, of John Kelly being in on meetings, on the phone, listening when the president is talking to his staff or foreign dignitaries, to make sure he's taking notes, that all the staff reports to him. That kind of discipline can still work to get a more effective operation in the West Wing.

But yes, the tweets probably aren't going anywhere. I would also note, though, his tweets today may have been within the guidelines given to him, right? I mean, he wasn't taking on his fellow Republicans. He wasn't exposing himself to further legal complications by going after Mueller or threatening to fire him.

He was going after Democrats. He was going after the news media. Those are things that probably a lot of people in his world don't think are so terrible.

COOPER: Does it hurt, do you think, I mean, for him to go after any senator, even if it's a Democrat senator, does that hurt him on Capitol Hill or a Republican senator is fine with that?

QUINN: I mean, but look, I think it does hurt him, because one of the things he's talked -- he's attacked all of Congress and he desperately needs to get either health care or tax policy passed. He's not going to do that without some Democratic support.

So, look, Senator Schumer has done a very good job keeping the Democrats in line, which is not easy.

[20:25:03] And things like this are only going to put the Democrats more in lock step, which is going to make it very hard for him to do anything. And that's critical to the re-election and building his Trump --


LEWIS: I think this is like a level two on the Trumpometer, though.


LEWIS: This is not -- it's not good. But by Trump standards, pretty good.

PHILLIP: It's not yet, though. I mean, we're talking -- it's Monday.

QUINN: Right.


PHILLIP: And we haven't even gotten to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So, we really don't know what he's going to do tomorrow. And I don't think that we know based on what his tweets were today that he's holding back in any way. It's just the subject matter today happened to be something slightly

different. I mean, I would just say one thing about the Democrats, one thing that -- when you talk to Trump voters and you talk to them about his tweets, they say it's just not befitting of the office. They don't necessarily like him going after really anybody in these kinds of personal terms.

It was fine in the campaign because it was a candidate. But now that he's president, even his own supporters kind of want him to do a little bit of a different thing. So, that's the real problem here, in addition to the other issues whether he can get Democrats on his side.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break.

Coming up, the president says his base is bigger and stronger than ever before. The polling doesn't seem to reflect that. But there's no doubt he has diehard fans, and plenty of them at his rallies and on conservative radio airwaves. I'm going to speak with talk show host Dana Loesch about what she's hearing from her listeners and Trump supporters, next.


[20:30:20] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As we reported in the beginning of the report, the President's approval rating has hit a new low. In a new CNN poll, our new polling puts it at 38 percent, which is down from 44 percent in April. Just among Republicans, 26 percent say their confidence to the President has actually decreased since he took office.

The President tweeted today that his base is getting stronger and his "far bigger and stronger than ever before," despite what he calls the fake news Russia collusion story.

Joining me to talk about all of this is Conservative Talk Show Host Dana Loesch. Hey Dana, good to have you in the program. So this wiggling (ph) approval rating, whether one believes this, poll are just, you know, poll is a poll, the real clear politics kind of showing an average, even among some of his fervent supporters, is that in line with what you're hearing from people calling into your radio show from Trump supporters?

DANA LOESCH, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW HOST: Well, Anderson, thanks so much for having me. Yes and no. Some of his most ardent supporters I think are going to support him no matter what. But we have to remember that the base that we're so often referring to, this is a new base for the Republican Party.

Case in point, I just use as a quick example, Anderson, West Virginia. So in West Virginia last election, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a good amount, but yet -- actually I think it was like two to one. But 41-point margin between Trump and Clinton and Trump took that state. These are a lot of blue collar voters.

Now Republicans haven't had a lot of these blue collar, maybe union voters in many states for quite some time. So they'll going to have to work at keeping this coalition that they've managed to very carefully build with this new administration.

However, as far as the low approval ratings, one of the things I kind of hear a little bit over now and then, it's not so much frustration at the President's decisions so much as it's the frustration between the relationship between the President and Congress. There is a lot of anger at members of Congress right now. A lot. Because so many individuals feel that here you have the President and Congress not working together, be it on health care, be it on budget, on tax reform. A lot of people who call in, they wonder where is everything that we're hearing about immigration?

And I notice from looking at the poll that immigration, of course, this is one concern of a lot of the people that were included in this sample. And really, I think the more that Congress kind of doodles, the more it's going to reflect poorly upon the President, because a lot of people are really putting faith in the President and his ability to work with Congress.

COOPER: Which is interesting because -- I mean, first of all, on immigration, you can make the argument that he's actually had -- just by using the bully pulpit, he had a lot of effect on the numbers of people trying to cross into this country illegally. Whether, you know, you can argue about the funding for the wall and stuff like that, but just on sheer numbers, volumes of people coming across, he's actually had an impact on that I think is pretty fair to say, which is a success.

LOESCH: You're right.

COOPER: That they probably don't make the most of. But the President's tweets this morning that his base is bigger, stronger than ever before, is that just an attempt to say basically kind of nothing to see here, because even Kellyanne Conway yesterday admitted the President's approval rating among supporters needs to go up. Do you think it needs to go to shore up those who are already voted for him or to kind of expand to more traditional Republicans who voted for him originally to make sure they don't change their minds?

LOESCH: Right. I think a little bit of both. I mean to shore up with that base but then also to expand with other Republicans. And look, we know that when you have somebody that gets into the White House, Anderson, it becomes a package deal, right? There's a lot of stuff that we saw a Democrat Congress do that's attributed to Reagan, and by his -- and also with George W. Bush. I meant, it also becomes a package deal. Whatever is going on in Congress, the President is ultimately going to have to wear that yolk.

And so this is what's happening right now with this particular President. On immigration, I mean, I've spoken to a number of border chiefs. Illegal entries are actually decreasing, but yet a lot of stuff, and I have to say, sometimes the media -- the media and you and I talked about in terms of focus on Russia and some of this other stuff. People want to hear about the other issues.

And a lack of getting into what the President is doing on immigration or maybe even perhaps with regulations and how he's cutting a lot of -- I mean, really kind of getting into a lot of what makes government bloated and a lot of big government, cutting a lot of those regulations, trying to reduce the size of federal government, there hasn't been a lot of coverage on that.

But then again, at the same time, all the stuff that Congress messes up on, that's going to get hung on the President, as well. So it's really, really, tricky. I feel like the President and Congress haven't yet gelled. You know what I mean?


LOESCH: Like whenever you have people that do a television show together, you can tell if they've gelled. You can tell if the President and Congress haven't really gelled yet. And I and a lot of other people who call in, Anderson, they attribute a lot of that to Republican leadership.

COOPER: It's so interesting because that was one of the selling points the President used during the election. I remember interviewing (ph) a bunch where he would say look, I can get people in a room together and make deals. And that's what -- I mean, everyone knows, he's supposed to be the deal maker. So I guess it is surprising that -- and clearly he's frustrated because he is tweeting, going against the Republicans and Congress.

[20:35:18] Are you surprised that, you know, according to this poll, only 24 percent of Americans said they trust all or most of what is being communicated from the White House?

LOESCH: Yes. I mean, that's kind of interesting. I haven't deep dived into the data on this. One thing, Anderson, that did stick out to me and I have my notes right here, is how there are -- you saw 53 percent of those surveyed who say that things are still going well on this country.

COOPER: Right.

LOESCH: -- but they're focusing their ire on the President. And I've seen other poll where is they're focusing ire on Congress, as well. So leadership needs to step up. And I know that there are a lot of petty battles that Republicans have. They've got to get over this and focus on the voters.

COOPER: Dana Loesch, always good to have you on, thanks so much.

LOESCH: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: When we come back, North Korea gives a stern warning to the United States. They're escalating threats and the vote by the U.N. Security Council to toughen sanctions, next.


COOPER: Escalating tensions tonight on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea is vowing to retaliate against the U.S. for pushing tough new sanctions for the U.N. Security Council on Saturday. The Security Council voted unanimously to impose the new penalties against North Korea targeting some of it's banks in the country's biggest export.

[20:40:01] This is the seventh Security Council Resolutions since 2006 against North Korea especially aimed at curbing its nuclear militarization. But these sanctions are the toughest so far. Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Kim Jong-un, biting insults. His regime referring to the U.S. as, "gangsters" and a "threat" from one of his news anchors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There is no bigger mistake than the United States believing that its land is safe across the ocean.

TODD: Kim's regime is lashing out at the U.S. for pushing through a tough new round of economic sanctions from the United Nations against Pyongyang, choking off North Korea's coal, iron and other exports. After leading that charge, Ambassador Nikki Haley talked even tougher on CNN.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR, UNITED NATION: We're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. We have tried to say multiple times that all options are on the table.

TODD: Among those options, so-called preventative war, according to President Trump's National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster. But at the same time, the President's chief diplomat signals a potential opening.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The best signal that North Korea can give us that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches.

TODD: That appears to inch back from America's long-held stance that the U.S. would only negotiate with North Korea if Pyongyang abandons its nuclear program.

ABRAHAM DENMARK, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: So, I think it makes sense to have the negotiation and to allow for those conditions to have. The challenge, though, from what we've seen is that North Korea has not given us any indication that they're actually interested in talking to us right now.

TODD: Analysts say the hard line of one side of Trump's administration with a softer approach from the other is a carrot and stick tactic to get North Korea's dictator to stop acting so aggressively.

PATRICK CRONIN, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: You can see the dual track defense and hard line core save pressure on one hand, and diplomacy and engagement on the other hand. We're trying to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

TODD: But experts say that could be a risky move depending on how Kim Jong-un reads it.

DENMARK: For our adversaries, they may see that the United States is uncoordinated, doesn't have a plan, it is not really committed to this issue. For the allies, they may see the United States doesn't really have plan, it's not necessarily committed to this and may act in ways that they would not be comfortable with.

TODD (on camera): The concern tonight is that all this diplomatic jockeying in such a critical moment might lead Kim Jong-un or President Trump or one of America's allies in the region to miscalculate, take a certain signal the wrong way and possibly launch a military action that might make things spiral out of control on the Korean Peninsula. Anderson?


COOPER: Brian, thank you very much, Brian Todd.

I want to bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria. I mean the fact that U.S. was able to get this through unanimously with Russia and China voting for sanctions. I mean, it seems like a big win for the Trump administration.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It was -- it is a win for the Trump administration. It's actually interesting to notice also that they were willing to make some compromises. It was not actually as tough as the Trump administration originally wanted. They have to water it down to get the Chinese on board. But, you know, the fundamental game here is not about getting U.N. Security Council's resolutions passed. There have been many, many passed --

COOPER: Enforcing them.

ZAKARIA: Right, for, you know, it's enforcing them, and in particular, getting the Chinese to enforce them. That's really the only thing that matters. North Korea is a totally isolated economy. It has one patron. China provides 50 percent of its food and 90 percent of its fuel. They're the only ones that can really shut off the supply. And so far, they haven't because they have real strategic concerns. They worry about an imploding North Korea. They worry about millions of refugees. They worry about a unified Korea, which would have American troops, and a treaty alliance with America, and by the way, 15 nuclear weapons.

COOPER: Right. If North Korea regime fell, either its total instability which is that for china on their border or unified with the south, and is leaning toward American, that's not good for China either.

ZAKARIA: Right. And I think we have to recognize that this is not the Chinese being rogue. This is the Chinese having a different strategic respective understandable valid. And unless we have dialogue with them at the highest levels, you know, it's not about them being kind of recalcitrant. It's about them trying to understand what is this new world going to look like if North Korea implodes? COOPER: Well, I mean, what about the tracks in North Korea, and they're saying, you know, some pretty tough rhetoric, we've heard it from them before. But it does seem like they have greater capabilities on they're on the move towards nuclear capability.

ZAKARIA: So far, it seems as if North Korea has always viewed its nuclear program as an insurance policy to ensure the survival of the regime. Look, they're desperately concerned about regime survival. This is a regime that has lasted 75 years. It's outlasted the Soviet Union.

COOPER: Right.

ZAKARIA: Its outlasted every Arab dictatorship that was swept aside in the Arab spring. That's what they focus on. So I don't think they're going to commit suicide. But there are dangers of miscalculation just as what they sent.

COOPER: You have a special report coming up in about 15 minutes from now at 9:00 what called "Why Trump Won." What you're -- I mean, you obviously -- you're kind of breaking it down?

[20:45:04] ZAKARIA: So, what we really tried to ask is, everybody, it's in a way the opposite of most our specials, we're trying to inform people here. Everybody thinks they already know. Everybody has their own best theory, and we want to step back and say no. The real question is what are the deeper courses with the Trump tap into?

Forget Hillary for a moment, forget about Comey, and forget about the Russians. A candidate like Trump shouldn't have even gotten close. He beat 16 qualified Republicans. He then beat Hillary Clinton who five years earlier was the most admired woman in America. How did that happen? What were the forces in America that he tapped into that allowed him to become their tribune? As one of the guys who we interviewed, a Democratic Party county chairman said, how did this guy, who sat on gold plated toilets, become the voice of the working class?

COOPER: Fascinating. We're going to see that about 14 minutes from now. Fareed, thank you very much. It's called "Why Trump Won." This is at the top of the hours, stick around for that.

Coming up next, the Vice President is lashing out at The New York Times report calling it offensive and disgraceful report that said he may be thinking of running for president in 2020 if Trump doesn't. We'll have the latest in that, next.


[20:49:59] COOPER: Vice President Mike Pence is strongly denying a report of The New York Times that he may be preparing for a run for president 2020 if President Trump doesn't run for a second term. He put out a statement, the one that was brimming with adjectives including disgraceful, offensive, laughable and absurd. CNN, Dana Bash has been doing reporting on this. She joins me now. It's certainly a big reaction to a single story in a newspaper. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very unusual. And it certainly gave the story weight more oxygen that probably would have other wise gotten. But I'm told that the Vice President felt, it painted a picture of him as disloyal which he didn't want to let stand not to mention the fact that, Anderson, even a guy off the street knows that loyalty is a pretty big thing for this President.

So, the story itself was about the so-called shadow campaigns that several Republicans are running to build their profiles with GOP activates and donors just in case for whatever reason Donald Trump is not on the ballot in 2020. And as part of that, it detailed the Vice President robust political schedule and inquiring donors, having his own political Pac.

You mentioned the adjectives in the Vice President's statement which, by the way, he released on a Sunday. I want yo u to -- our viewers to hear the whole thing. "Today's article in The New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration." But it didn't end there, that was a big step. But the Vice President's press secretary, Anderson, stand out on cable news today, on conservative radio to continue that pushback all day long.

COOPER: I mean, it wouldn't be abnormal for a Vice President to be in touch with his or her political network while serving in the White House, right?

BASH: Not at all. And that's precisely what the Vice President's team is arguing, that the Vice President's efforts hosting donors at the naval observatory where he lives, raising money for his pac, traveling to the first caucus state of Iowa for a high-profile event with Joni Ernst, the senator there. It's all part of efforts to help the President. Joni Ernst, they argue has been good to the President. And that he wanted the Vice President to return the favor.

And then the other thing that they argue was that, Pence is a long time politician who has a history of interfacing with these donors whereas, Trump doesn't. He doesn't really like it. The same energy now that really got the Vice President and his team was the graph and the times that talked about top Pence and telling donors and other key officials that what Pence is really doing is preparing for himself not team Trump. And that's what they insisted which not true despite the fact that that The New York Times says that they have sources insisting that it's solid.

COOPER: And Dana stay with us. I want to bring back CNN's Political Director, David Chalian. David on your reaction of -- we talked about the Vice President, it's not really the most effective way to make a story go away. Is it or is this really for the audience of one of the President of the United States for him to see that the Vice President Pence is fighting against this?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There is clearly that and there is no doubt that that kind of over the top statement made this two days story. One would have been just probably something morning around cable chatter and then moved on from there. So -- and they knew that. They knew that when they made that calculation.

And also, by the way, if you believe "The Times" reporting that this building in an operation is happening. You know, keeping the story out there indeed is part of making donors and activists aware that Mike Pence is a political future for himself irrespective of anything having to do with Donald Trump.

COOPER: Dana, I mean, the "New York Times" envision the Vice President mentions others like Senators Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse and Governor Kasich, I mean, also making moves toward 2020 bid.

BASH: Right. And look, all of those Republican politicians have definitely done some of the things that the Vice President has done. Going to Iowa, you know, getting ready with, you know, a book, a political action committee. In the case of John Kasich, more than one. And so, yes, there is no question that it's sort of the bench, the Republican bench gearing up, being ready, understanding that in politics it is all about timing, and the time may come when you least expect it and you got to be ready at any time.

Certainly Barack Obama is a key lesson for any politician in that story there. So that is going on. And again, it is not so much that they think that maybe they'll challenge President Trump in a primary in 2020, it could happen, but I think that the bigger thing at this early stage is, they see the, kind of, tumult here in the Trump administration. And people just don't know what's going to happen because things are so unusual.

COOPER: Right.

CHALIAN: And I think, Anderson, one of the most astonishing things about this is what it lays bare which is that there is no fear of Donald Trump among his fellow Partisans. I mean, they see the timing of this, yes, that is totally right. These are the kinds of moves you would expect people with the ambitious -- visions for their future to make.

But the fact that it's six and a half months into a young Republican administration says they don't fear retribution at all for doing it. And that gets to his weakened political state at the moment.

[20:55:07] COOPER: Interesting. David Chalian, Dana Bash thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Before we go tonight, here's a quick preview of what you're about to see, Fareed Zakaria's special report "Why Trump Won." It's a look at one of his earlier moments in the public eye.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The happiest people tend to be the people that are making a nice income, that really enjoy their life and their family life and not the people of tremendous wealth that are constantly driven to achieve more and more success. You're expected to be a certain kind of a person and maybe you're not necessarily cut out to be that kind of a person.

ZAKARIA (voice over): How did that Donald Trump become this Donald Trump?

TRUMP: I'd like to punch him in the face, I tell you.


COOPER: Fascinating evolution, a remarkable story. Time now for "Why Trump Won."