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Rosenstein: Russia Probe Can Expand To Any Crimes; President Claims "Base Is Getting Stronger"; Pence Rails Against Reports Of Possible 2020 Bid; Pyongyang Vows To "Make The U.S. Pay Dearly"; 200Th Day: Trump Touts Stocks, Border, Military, Jobs. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 7, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Two hundred days on the job, but out of the office today. President Trump marks a milestone on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club.
This, from a man who promised he would neither vacation nor play golf. Instead, he is doing something he's promised he would never stop doing, firing off on Twitter and taking stock right now with this one.
"The Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before despite some phony fake news polling. Look at rallies in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and West Virginia. The fact is the fake news Russia collusion story, record stock market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation and so much more has driven the Trump base even close together. Will never change.
So, you have that. As for that Russia investigation, the president mentioned the Justice Department official, who launched it is defending that investigation. Today, we'll have more on that in just a second.
But let's begin right now with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, who is with the working vacationing president in New Jersey today. That's a lot of Twitter for the first day on vacation -- Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. that's right, Kate. Clearly, the bad weather is driving the president to tweet this morning, though, the White House has been insistent that this is a working vacation that's only necessary because of some repairs that are happening in the west wing.
There are no public events on the president's schedule for today. We were told by a White House spokesman shortly ago that the president did receive his intelligence briefing this morning and had an hour- long phone call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his new chief of staff, John Kelly to discuss North Korea.
We also know that he has been on Twitter and watching television this morning. In a series of about nine tweets this morning, the president talked about his accomplishments these first 200 days in office, including his Supreme Court nominee, border security, and the stock market numbers.
He also went after the, quote, "phony poll numbers," which he doesn't think accurately reflects everything he's accomplished these 200 days in office. He's sitting at about 38 percent job approval rating in the Gallup poll.
He also is watching television. We know this because he went after Senator Richard Blumenthal about 2 minutes after his interview on CNN this morning. Blumenthal voiced support for continuing the investigation into Russian meddling in the election.
And then Trump got on Twitter shortly after and called him a con artist and questioned his past military service. Now, we also know, Kate, that the president is going to New York next week because he tweeted about it.
He said, "Working hard from New Jersey while White House goes through long planned renovation. Going to New York next week for more meetings." That was the first we heard about these meetings in New York, but we will likely find out more about them soon. That's what's happening in New Jersey -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Just stay close to Twitter feed for your scheduling updates today, Kaitlan. Great to see you, thank you so much. Speaking of Twitter, the president fired off another tweet this morning like this one.
"Hard to believe with 24/7 fake news on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, "New York Times" and "Washington Post" that the Trump base is getting stronger. Let's discuss that. For more on that, CNN political director, David Chalian is joining me now.
The tweets are so long these days, I feel like it's taking me a long time to get through them. So, David, let's talk about that. The president says the base is stronger than ever. What does the polling say about Trump's base right now?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. He said it's growing and getting bigger and stronger. There's not a shred of evidence I can find to suggest that's true. He pointed to Pennsylvania rallies, Iowa rallies, Ohio rallies, West Virginia rallies.
I mean, those rallies are as big as he has had rallies in the past. I don't see that the evidence is that that represents a stronger growing, getting bigger base of support. In fact, the polling would indicate that there is some erosion, a little bit of cracks in his base of support.
BOLDUAN: Some of the numbers that we have been discussing that gets back to the poll of what you are talking about, the Quinnipiac University poll that shows when it comes to white voters without a college degree, there has been -- it shows a decline in support, 43 percent support there.
In June, it said it was 53 percent support. You can see there. Also, there is a Gallup daily tracker, David, that shows a less, maybe big jump in a decline of support amongst his base but still a decline. A trend towards the negative.
CHALIAN: Yes, the Quinnipiac poll is a bit of an outlier and bigger margin of error. Gallup interviews a lot more people and this does show as you say the trajectory is going in the wrong direction.
CHALIAN: It's going down. It's not what he wants. We saw in that Quinnipiac poll that among Republicans, he's at 76 percent approval. That, I mean, obviously, that's a good number in a vacuum, but among Republicans, you would expect a Republican president to be well in the northern part of the 80s and 90s.
[11:05:08] The 76 percent approval in your own party shows that there's been some diminishing of support from your own partisans.
BOLDUAN: So, you have that. You also have some maybe acknowledgement from the White House. The counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, remember, she is a pollster at heart. She knows these numbers and the mechanics. She said on the Sunday shows that they have some work to do. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNCEL: I would note, too, in some of the polling, which I scour daily on behalf of the president. His approval rating among Republicans and conservative and Trump voters is down slightly. It needs to go up.
They are telling him, just enact your program, don't worry about a Congress that isn't supporting legislation to get big ticket items done and don't worry about the distractions and diversions and discouragement of others trying to throw logs in your path are throwing your way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I was surprised to hear Kellyanne Conway acknowledge this, coming from the White House, his numbers are down. That is like the first time we heard that. What does that say?
CHALIAN: Yes. My ears perked up a bit. As you know, Kellyanne is a pollster by trade and does indeed live and breathes these numbers. It's hard to not see what they are actually saying, even for someone that's on the Trump team like Kellyanne.
But you heard what she did there, she acknowledged that his number amongst Republicans and conservatives is a bit down, and they need to go up. It's not his fault, it's Congress. It's those that are trying to throw logs in his way.
It is those voters saying ignore all that, keep marching forward, and that's the way to heal the numbers. I don't know that that's the advice she is giving the president. But, it seems to avoid any responsibility that his down tick in numbers, even among his own partisans in his base might be something new to him. BOLDUAN: Yes. Let's see, keeping on the path, helps him in the next 200 days. Great to see you, David. Thank you so much.
CHALIAN: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. So, President Trump just 200 days in and is he already hearing footsteps, not a stampede of Republicans at his heels at the moment. "The New York Times" has reporting several Republicans are running their shadow campaigns for 2020, amid some doubts that the president will seek a second term.
The president's own second in command tops a list of those that folks are keeping an eye on right now according to the "Times." But even that suggestion brought on an unprecedented level of pushback from the White House, from the vice president, himself, issuing a formal statement, calling the newspapers claims absurd, disgraceful and offensive.
CNN's special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, has been working her sources on this, but she's here with me right now. It is unusual how forceful that statement was and not just how forceful it was, but it was an official statement coming from the vice president on this one. What is behind this?
JAIME GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes you see someone come on a Sunday talk show or the staff will come and push back. To get it on formal letterhead like that, very unusual.
Now, I just was speaking to a senior Republican source who just told me that, in fact, the president, they believe, knew about it ahead of time, that the article was coming out and was not upset about the article.
So, why did the vice president push back? No vice president wants to appear to be measuring the curtains in the oval office ahead of time. Talking to people who know the vice president very well, he is particularly sensitive about this.
We are also told they had a heads up the story was coming and they said to the "New York Times," look, if you go with this, we think it is out of context, we are going to push back hard. They push back hard.
At the same time, what did the vice president do? He got to send a message across the way to the president. I'm not, no pitter patter footsteps from me.
BOLDUAN: One thing that a lot of folks wonder when you read that statement, you wonder if it was written, not for the country, not for "The New York Times," but audience of one.
GANGEL: An audience of one. Look, no question, does Donald Trump like it when people up stage him? Is he going to like the notion --
BOLDUAN: Ask Anthony Scaramucci. GANGEL: Scaramucci, Steve Bannon. Remember the cover of the magazine, Bannon for president. This president is not afraid to call out his administration publicly. His vice president doesn't want to be in that group.
BOLDUAN: Part of the conversation around Mike Pence is that he has formed his own PAC. That's something that the president is, as you said, knew about it. Why form the PAC in the first place? Because that has a lot of people talking.
[11:10:06] GANGEL: Right. So, just to give some context, this is the first superpac, the earliest PAC that a vice president has ever done. The president was thoroughly briefed every step of the way. Guess who else was briefed? The Trump children.
In fact, I'm told Don Jr. and Eric offered to raise money for it. The White House counsel vetted it. But, officially, it's to help congressional races raise money, support them. Of course, down the road, does Mike Pence want to be president some day? Absolutely. This paves the way.
BOLDUAN: Be it 2020?
GANGEL: Well, 2024, not saying. Same motivation.
BOLDUAN: Prudent to be prepared.
BOLDUAN: A lot for Monday. Great to see you. Thank you so much, Jamie. Really appreciate it.
So, this morning, North Korea is lashing out at new sanctions from the United Nations and vowing revenge against the United States because of it. The spiking tensions playing out. Secretary of state, Rex Tillerson is, right now, meeting with regional counter parts in the Philippines for a security summit.
CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is joining us from the State Department for much more on this. So, Elise, this, by all accounts this is a big victory for the Trump administration.
The sanctions that came out over the weekend from the U.N., but North Korea has been sanctioned over and over and over again. How is today different than last week? What are you hearing?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, first of all, I think it's the toughest sanctions, ever, against North Korea. We are talking a third of their total foreign revenue, about a billion dollars.
So, I think you have to give credit to Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for getting Russia and China on board. How much financial impact that will make and what that will do to North Korea's response I think remains to be seen. But what it also does is show this unity in the international community. That's really China. Now the question is, is China going to implement these sanctions? You heard this administration, specifically, President Trump, voice frustration that China hasn't done enough.
So, I think they are really going to be looking for China to put its money where its mouth is and implement those sanctions because they hold 90 percent of Korean trade.
BOLDUAN: So absolutely, no matter what, new sanctions or not, the key still remains, China and that's where all eyes are. There's another effort I want to ask you about. As you mentioned, the secretary of state is overseas. He told reporters he had some tough words for his Russian counterpart regarding election interference. How big of a move is this? What did Tillerson say?
LABOTT: Well, you know, Russia was complaining about the sanctions that were passed by the Congress and also signed by President Trump and also, you know, Secretary Tillerson was very upset about the cutting of 755 U.S. employees from the Russian, the U.S. embassy in Russia.
So, there's this tit for tat going on right now. What Secretary Tillerson was saying to the foreign minister is, look, this meddling in our election, this is the elephant in the room. We can't get moving forward on national security issues that we have to talk to such as Syria, such as Ukraine and North Korea, which is why they were there in Manila, unless we address this.
He was saying, look, we need to move past it, but there is a lot of mistrust in the relationship that needs to be addressed.
BOLDUAN: Yes, and that's not going to change. Great to see you, Elise. Thank you so much.
This morning, President Trump is tweeting up a storm, lashing out at the media and touting his accomplishments in office, 200 days in, how are things going? We will debate it ahead.
Plus, the Russian probe is not a fishing expedition. That is according to the deputy attorney general who appointed Bob Mueller to conduct this investigation. So why is President Trump still calling it a witch hunt, a total fabrication?
Plus, a British model walks into a photo shoot, ends up drugged and stuffed into a suitcase to be sold on the dark web. The horrifying details of an attempted human trafficking plot. How widespread is this? That's coming up.
BOLDUAN: Two hundred days, if you are a baby, you can learn to sit up by then, on your own. If you are a spaceship, you can travel to Mars, so I'm told. If you are Donald Trump, you can take stock on a working vacation, the success, the failures, the to-do list and, of course, the tweets.
Joining me now to take stocks, Jon Selib is here, a former chief of staff to Retired Democratic Senator Max Baucus. Jeff DeWit is Arizona State treasurer and a member of the Advisory Board for President Trump's re-election campaign. Ana Navarro is a CNN political commentator and of course, Republican strategist.
All right, Friends, let's get to it. Anna, 200 days in, the president is taking stock, according to Twitter, calling his successes, record stock market, border security, military strength, jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation, to name a few. Do you give him those?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I definitely give him the Supreme Court pick. I think that's something that most Republicans were very happy about even if some of us didn't like the process of how it was done. But look, in 200 days, he's had very few good days.
He failed at his signature promise of replace and repeal. His White House had more people go in and out for quickies than a Las Vegas brothel. Chaos that ensued is absolutely insane.
He keeps fabricating, making up things and outright lying. He keeps tweeting like a deranged person. He caused international incidents. The leaks out of his White House are like cheese cloth.
[11:20:07] So, no, I don't think you can say this has been a good 200 days. Certainly, he's had some good days, but by and large, he would get a C-minus or D right now and I think I'm being generous.
BOLDUAN: That is generous saying that the White House is like (inaudible) into a brothel. That is Ana Navarro being generous. You can pick at them or answer my question. Not on the list, Ana didn't mention not on the list out there some of the biggest campaign promises he made, right?
Getting rid of Obamacare, major tax reform, major bill on infrastructure. How do you then, with those out there, how are you going to take stock of 200 days?
JEFF DEWIT, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT ADVISORY BOARD: Well, again, I think he has had the most successful 200 days we have seen in generations for a president.
BOLDUAN: What's the measure?
DEWIT: Consumer confidence is at a 16-year high. Unemployment is at a 16-year low. The stock market has gone to record highs, and not just barely, double digits. So, we've seen over a million new jobs just while he's been president and look at July, manufacturing jobs grew by 16,000.
He's bringing back jobs in America for his made in America promise. He is delivering on his promises. Yes, there are some big items coming up such as tax reforms --
BOLDUAN: Coming up? Coming up? I think health care is in the past, don't you think?
DEWIT: I said tax reform. Health care is not done. It is going to happen. Too many Republicans have campaigned on it and raised too much money for too long. They will come around. But, look, this is a president who has accomplished all of this, while having to deal with the swamp trying to kick back on his agenda.
So, he's done a very, very good job. Let's make sure he gets credit also for North Korea and the sanctions we saw, which is the first time that China came on board. This is a president who has taken his role as leader of the free world and getting China to the table. We have to make sure we give him credit for that.
BOLDUAN: I know you were watching the segment before, we did give him credit for that. Moving on, though.
DEWIT: You did.
BOLDUAN: John will agree with everything that the treasurer said on the level of success of 200 days in. Also happening on these 200 days is talk that General Kelly coming in as chief of staff is bringing much more order and discipline to this White House, this west wing. Do we need to assume that the president's tweet this is morning, I think I lost count how many there were that they were signed off on by the chief of staff?
JON SELIB, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATOR MAX BAUCAUS: I doubt they were signed off on, but, look, that's a reflection of the first 200 days have been a failure, right. You don't bring in a new chief of staff, 200 days in if you have had a successful 200 days. That's a reflection of a really hard 200 days.
Beyond the fact that obviously his legislative agenda has gone nowhere, I think we are looking at something that is actually more deep and troubling here, which is, you know, this is a presidency, an office of the presidency that's been weakened the first 200 days.
Look at a sanctions bill that was passed by Congress on a bipartisan basis, the veto proof majority, a bipartisan effort to create a judicial check that prevent him from firing the special counsel.
These are all things that makes the office of the presidency weaker. Look at him on the international stage, he is not respected by international leaders and really not taken seriously by members of Congress from his own party.
BOLDUAN: That actually gets to a question I had for you, Ana. I want to take stock in 200 days, not just the president, but the Republican Party. Jon lays out a few things of the party bucking the president, if you will. You have three Republican senators basically saying no to the Obamacare appeal.
Jeff Flake putting out that scathing critique in a book of the president in his book. Congress, the sanctions bill the president was against, they signed it regardless. Where is the party right now?
NAVARRO: Look, I think the party is divided. I think the party is disillusioned. I think the party is worried with a president whose poll numbers keep sinking, now even among his base, which had not budged a bit until now.
I think the party is beginning to look at itself and say, how many times are we going to pretend what this president is doing is normal and you are beginning to see those cracks. Last week was a pretty good week. I think a lot of us hoped John Kelly is in there.
I was ready nominate him for canonization. I saw so much more discipline and order in that White House last week, but, either, you know, either Donald Trump freed himself from his chains today or maybe John Kelly had to go home for a change of clothes and leave the toddler unsupervised.
[11:25:13] But yes, he went off the rails again today. I think the Republican Party is beginning to realize you have given him six plus months, he is not going to change. He is not anymore presidential today than he was before.
He criticizes them constantly. He takes no ownership of the legislative failures or the leadership failures on his behalf and puts all the blame on the Republican Congress. Yes, I mean, how much longer are they going to carry his water and pretend he is normal?
BOLDUAN: Let me ask this, Jon, if the Republican Party is divided and in trouble, is there an argument to be made 200 days in, the Democrats are in no better place? If you see where the Democrats are, you lost all the special elections you thought you had a chance in. There's no clear leader as everyone looks toward 2020 and no clear message despite the attempt at the reboot.
SELIB: Yes, look, I mean, Kate, the test will be in 2018. We have a lot to live up to in November of 2018 when we have a race. We have a lot of time between now and then. I would say, look, we blocked the president and Republicans in Congress from enacting what would have been a disastrous health care bill.
That is a big success story. Chuck Schumer did an incredible job keeping all of the Democrats together in the Senate and having worked in the Senate and with that diverse group of Democrats there, that is no easy task.
But, sure, look, Democrats will have to develop what they want to run on in 2018. Schumer and Pelosi put out that plan with a few messages, members will take what they like from that.
SELIB: At the end of the day, if we are running on vote Democrats, we'll protect your health care, that is a pretty good message for us going in 2018.
BOLDUAN: We need more time. Treasurer, I have one final question for you as we were talking poll numbers and the president saying the base is growing and stronger than ever. Polling though showing right now that in segments of the base, we are talking white voters without a college degree, there is a decline in support for the president there, even Kellyanne Conway mentioned that. Does that concern you?
DEWIT: Well, you know, these are the same polls that said he would never be president. So, it doesn't concern me at all. I think polls can be tweets to fit any end of the person that wants to -- you know, that hires the pollster. So, it doesn't --
BOLDUAN: But Kellyanne Conway who is a pollster herself, she says that you all have work to do there.
DEWIT: Well, again, you know, I don't think another pollster wants to criticize her colleagues in the field but I can. Again, the enthusiasm that I see in the Republican base is growing. I think if the election were held today, Donald Trump would win by an even bigger margin than he did in the fall.
He's doing very well and what the base wants to see are jobs coming back to America and he's producing that. So, we hired a deal maker in chief to improve the economy. He's done that. He's had a very successful first 200 days, and I think his polls will reflect that, even no matter which pollster you hire. At some point, it is going to reflect that. He is doing very well.
BOLDUAN: Just depends on the pollster. Great to see you all. Thanks so much.
All right, coming up for us, is Special Counsel Robert Mueller going too far in his investigation of Russian interference in the election? Has he crossed a red line? We'll talk about that in just a second.
Plus, the city of Chicago is fighting back after the Justice Department threatens to withhold federal funds over its status as a sanctuary city. Why Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, says he's taking the Trump administration to court.