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Trump Touts Stocks, Jobs, "Base" on Day 200; Tillerson: Meddling Soured U.S.-Russian Relations; CNN Goes to the Heart of the Opioid Crisis. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired August 7, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off.
Day 200 of the Trump administration and it's starting a lot like the previous 199 with a fury of statements from the president this morning. Some seemingly based on the morning television shows as he is watching on his working vacation. The president, saying, the stock market, border security, job growth, quote, "and so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together."
Now the president, also saying, he is happy and impressed with the latest round of U.N. sanctions against North Korea. North Korea, for its part, feels just the opposite. Some blistering words this morning from Pyongyang coming as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, attends the same regional security forum and his counterpart in North Korea.
Now the two have not spoken, but Tillerson says there could be a time and a place for diplomatic discussions if North Korea would cease its test launches. North Korea though, responding, saying that is not happening. Secretary of State Tillerson did sit down with his counterpart though in Russia and complained, he said, about Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election, saying it driving the countries further apart.
We are following all of these developments this morning in busy Monday morning it is with CNN Kaitlan Collins in Bridgewater, New Jersey, right next to where the president is right now. Good morning.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning. Clearly the bad weather here in New Jersey is driving the president to Twitter this morning, though the White House is insistent that this is a working vacation that is necessary because of renovations that are happening in the West Wing right now. The president has no public events on his schedule today. Instead has spent the morning tweeting quite a bit, nine times so far this morning. And he is clearly watching television as well.
In those series of tweets this morning, he criticized Senator Blumenthal saying that he was talking about his past history and his military service. And then he also went after the phony, fake news polling. He says, he doesn't think he's getting enough credit for the accomplishments he's had in these 200 days, Poppy, saying that the fake news is not crediting him for his Supreme Court pick, border security or the stock market numbers.
HARLOW: And Kaitlan, it's interesting that you see though, a divide even between those closest within the administration because the president, as you said, coming out and criticizing this polling, et cetera, that shows a slip with his base and with the Republican Party. The president says it's all fake. Kellyanne Conway, one of the chief councilors to the president, said his approval ratings among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly, her words, down slightly. It needs to go up. What gives?
COLLINS: Yes. It was pretty surprising yesterday to see Kellyanne Conway admit that his poll numbers are low. You know, he's at 38 percent job approval rating right now in the latest Gallup poll that came out today. But in the president's tweets this morning, we see that he prefers to focus on crowd sizes at his rallies like his one in West Virginia las week, which was an area that he won overwhelmingly in the election. But he prefers to focus on those when the poll numbers aren't reflecting so great on him, Poppy.
HARLOW: Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
There's a lot to dissect here. We are joined by CNN political commentator Alice Stewart, Republican strategist and former Ted Cruz communications director and CNN political commentator Errol Louis, political anchor also for "Spectrum News."
Alice, to you, what do you make of Kellyanne Conway admitting - I mean, she knows what she's saying. This is a very intelligent woman. She knows when she is going on the Sunday shows on national television and saying yes, the president's poll numbers are down in his own party and we need to get them up.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, certainly. They can't deny the numbers. But a lot of times they look at the bigger picture and the things that they have on their agenda and what they are working on. And clearly, right now, foreign policy is taking center stage for this administration and for many in the world. And they are looking at what they are able to do right now, which is, obviously, as we heard from Nikki Haley over the weekend, joining the U.N. with imposing sanctions on North Korea, of course, the president signing the legislation or signing on with Congress to impose sanctions with regard to Russia. So they are looking at the big picture long term and not a snapshot of recent polling data.
HARLOW: But Errol, you know, Alice says they can't deny the numbers, the president, himself, is denying the numbers this morning.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND POLITICAL ANCHOR, "SPECTRUM NEWS": Well, yes. That's right and Kellyanne Conway, who let's not forget, is a professional pollster, has written a book on the subject, has done this for decades and really knows this business, is not in the position to play the kind of games that the president often will, where the president will sort of flatly deny reality. And use some of the buzz words we have come to learn, using the word unfair when he means that somebody has said something negative about him, using the words fake news when he means that there's a true, but damaging report that's been published about him.
[10:05:00] Probably the best thing that the Trump administration can rely on is that he doesn't have to run against an approval rating. He has to run against an opponent. And that's a much trickier proposition. It would be nice for them. It would probably help them on Capitol Hill if they could get their numbers up. But they are not in any real danger just yet.
HARLOW: Alice, nine statements from the president this morning on Twitter, before 9:00 a.m. I haven't counted since, on this working vacation. But, this, in week two of chief of staff Kelly's tenure in this new job, there was some really interesting reporting over the weekend from Bloomberg reporters, Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev. And here is what they write about Kelly and the president's Twitter.
"While Kelly isn't vetting every presidential tweet, Trump has shown a willingness to consult with his chief of staff before hitting 'send' on certain missives that might cause an international uproar or lead to unwelcome distractions."
It's really interesting. I mean, is this a new day, a new page in the Trump White House? Even if he is still going to tweet a lot, but at least, it sounds like they're reporting this to Kelly. Is seeing some of these in helping redirect a little bit of the language?
STEWART: Well, Poppy, I certainly hope so. And I think the first few days of Kelly being in that position. I was encourage by the reduction in the number of tweets. This morning, obviously, things have pretty much gone back to normal with him being all over the map with regards to fake news and Russian meddling and all types of issues.
But the reality is, what General Kelly has been able to do is instore discipline within the White House and bring about a certain level of unity that had been absent for quite some time. And that will go a long way to getting the team on message and communicating one unified voice and message. The difficulty is, as we all know, is bringing in the president and keeping him on message and keeping him pushing the legislative agenda. And that will be a difficult task. But we all realize that we are not going to change Donald Trump. But I think General Kelly has made some progress with regard to reigning in the troops and trying to get the president more focused.
HARLOW: And talking about accomplishments. I mean, Errol, just before we wrap up. The fact that Nikki Haley could get all of these nations, all 50 nations on board, including Russia and China on these North Korea sanctions, that's a big deal. And you have even, you know, some of the president's biggest critics saying this is a huge accomplishment. That said, this is not legislative sort of win points on the board politically. How big is it for this administration?
LOUIS: Well, it is a big deal. It is an achievement and it protects the American people in an important way, which is really the bottom line. It does though, suggests that, you know, the White House may want to rethink whether or not it wants to sort of scoff at the position of leader of the free world, that the president really seems to have sort of discarded and disdained to a certain extent. He doesn't act as if he wants to be the leader of coalition of European nations. In fact, he has attacked NATO. He doesn't seem to want to maintain relations with our American neighbors like Mexico, to say the least. But the good will that they get, the good press that they get, probably, a little - even a bump in certain parts of his approval ratings might convince this administration that it's a job worth doing.
HARLOW: Errol Louis, thank you, Alice Stewart, nice to have you both. We appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: And we are lucky enough to have Matthew Chance, who you usually see on this program from Moscow, is here in New York. We appreciate you being here. And that's a perfect segue.
North Korea, this is a big win, no matter what sort of political view you come at. It's hard to get Russia and China on the same page as the United States on these.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to get them both on the same page, but it's not hard to get Russia and China on the same page.
HARLOW: Right. But on this page --
CHANCE: On this issue of North Korea, there's always been this on reason agreement between Beijing and Moscow. They follow each other's line. The fact is that the Russians don't have a great deal of concern about what happens politically in North Korea, the Chinese do.
CHANCE: They want to be seen at the top table of international diplomacy. And so, they want to be part of that whole international effort to resolve or stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula. But you know, it's the meeting that took place on the sidelines as well, I think.
HARLOW: That is so significant between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his counterpart in Russia.
CHANCE: Right. It's significant because it's the first time they've met. Since the U.S. passed the new sanctions bill, effectively taking the responsibility for easing those sanctions out of the hands of the Trump administration and putting it -- in the lap of the U.S. Congress. And so, it removes one of the main motivations that the Russians had to get on better with the White House because they hoped, from the outset that this was going to be a pivotal relationship, turning point in the relationship between Washington and Moscow. That Trump and his administration will be going to be able to turn around the very difficult relations between these two countries.
[10:10:04] But of course, no matter what happens now, the personality has been taken out of this and it's not up to Trump or Tillerson to do this anymore. It's up to Congress. I think that will change the nature of the relationship between these two nations.
HARLOW: And Tillerson saying, basically, he, once again, warned Russia and said that it has severely harmed the relationship, the message from this administration that this has you know, changed so much from 200 days ago when they took the White House.
Matthew Chance, thank you, nice to have you here. We appreciate it.
Also, turmoil in the tech world this morning, some big headlines out of Silicon Valley in Google, backlash is growing, to say the least, after an engineer at Google writes a manifesto making claims about women and their ability that you will not believe.
And also coming up this hour, our special report, "Hooked: America's Addicts." We take you inside the heart of the opioid epidemic in this country where we found no one is immune. We meet the former high school cheerleader addicted at 15 years old, even the sheriff's wife and his family torn apart when his wife becomes addicted to heroin.
UNIDENTIFIED SHERIFF: It will take the family and turn it upside down.
HARLOW (on camera): It did that to you?
UNIDENTIFIED SHERIFF: Absolutely.
HARLOW (on camera): It broke your family apart.
UNIDENTIFIED SHERIFF: Yes.
[10:15:27] HARLOW: With the Russia sanctions bill now signed into law by the president and the U.N. Security Council voting to impose sanctions on North Korea, the Trump administration is getting high marks even from some critics for its handling of this.
Here to discuss, Jill Dougherty, CNN contributor and global fellow for the Woodrow Wilson Center and David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst. It's nice to have you both here.
Look, David, you call this skillful and you say that the ability to get this done by the administration, Nikki Haley, in particular, at the United Nations, is their quote, "biggest foreign policy victory yet."
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It is. This was well put together. It happened relatively quickly after the ICBM launch. The size of the sanctions is fairly big, if fully enforced, then that is a very big if. It would be a billion dollars out of a country's sort of $3 billion in trade. I'm not sure if it will go actually amount to that.
And that said, I have no indication and no reason to believe that it is going to change Kim Jong-un's fundamental calculus. If you believe that holding nuclear weapons is existential to the country, that without them his regime gets overthrown, then no amount of sanction is really going to make him give that up. And that's the fundamental problem facing U.S. policy right now.
HARLOW: And Jill, you say a reality check is in order. Do you agree with David, that despite this accomplishment that are on paper, accomplishment getting China, Russia, everyone to the table on the same page on these sanctions. It doesn't mean a lot when it comes to how North Korea will react, respond?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do tend to agree that ultimately what will happen is not so clear. I mean, will this actually work? -- It is very strong statement. It's a very strong step and I think it is win for the Trump administration. But the overall effect, will it stop Kim Jong-un? I do not think that it will. I think that there are other ways that -- other things that have to be brought to bear.
But I'm looking, Poppy, at you know how this is being interpreted. I follow Russia a lot. Russia voted for the sanctions. That is quite noticeable. However, what they are saying in the same breath is that the United States is in effect making tensions more severe in Korea, on the Korean Peninsula.
And that is kind of, you know, the position that the Russians and the Chinese is, yes, we think North Korea is highly destabilizing by setting off these ICBM's, but the United States is pushing the envelope and making the situation very difficult. So, it's a nuance vote. It's a win, but there a lot of nuances in why each country voted for those sanctions.
HARLOW: David, do you - I mean, how significant it is that Russia, which Matthew Chance rightly noted, that Russia and China are often on the same page when it comes to North Korea, supporting one another. But how significant that Russia agreed to these sanctions that the U.S. has been pushing after the president signed the Russia sanctions bill into law?
SANGER: That was part of the surprise here. And of course, he delayed some announcements on trade action against China because he knew this vote was coming up. Here is where the split comes. I think that everybody is in agreement that having Kim Jong-un violate U.N. Resolutions and shoot off ICBMs is a threat to everyone in the region. And now it's a pretty direct threat to the United States.
Where they separate is that the U.S. strategy is to combine the economic sanctions with much increased military pressure. And I think over the next few weeks and months you will see a number of steps that will build up the military presence off the Korean coast to make it clear to Kim Jong-un that the U.S. has the option to act preemptively against missile launches, against the nuclear sites, so forth. And that's, I think, where the Chinese, the Russians and maybe the South Koreans will part ways from Washington. HARLOW: Jill, we just learned, just crossing now, as we speak, that the president, President Trump, had a one-hour phone call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and of course, his new chief of staff, General Kelly, to discuss North Korea and also to discuss Rex Tillerson's trip to this Asia summit and his conversation on the sidelines of it with his counterpart in Russia. The first conversation, by the way, since that sanctions bill was signed.
[10:20:05] DOUGHERTY: Yes. Well, that's very interesting. I mean, I think Tillerson has been pretty key in this and I think one very important moment was when he said that the United States is not interested in regime change in North Korea. That is one thing that galls the Russians, when there is any idea, especially that Russia, that there might be any attempt by the United States to carry out regime change.
That said, not all the signals from the Trump administration had been on that same wave length. There have been other indications that perhaps they are intent on regime change. So, I think the Russians are supporting this. But again, the Russians are saying, we support it, but we do think that Washington is making things highly dangerous, that we have to go back to diplomacy, et cetera.
I'll tell you, Poppy, I think you know, Russia right now, has no idea where they are headed with Donald Trump. So, in every single event that is taking place right now in the world, they are doing something that could be, you know, interpreted, let's say to help Trump but at the same time, they are very critical to a personal degree that I have never seen before.
I mean, Mr. Medvedev, the other day, having some pretty personal comments about this administration. You know, it showed its impotence, was the word they used before Congress, when President Trump signed the Russia sanctions. There are a lot of signs that they are - let's say, the Russians are taking advantage in whatever way they can. If it's taking a swipe at Donald Trump, they will do it as well.
HARLOW: Jill Dougherty, thank you very much on that, David Sanger, as well. We appreciate it.
It is a crisis and it is grabbing headlines across the country, tearing families apart, forcing morgues to bring in extra freezers for the dead bodies. If you think the opioid epidemic cannot impact you and your community, think again, says one high school cheerleader we spoke with.
HARLOW (on camera): How does a 15-year-old cheerleader, from Ohio, start doing heroin?
UNIDENTIFIED CHEERLEADER: It started my freshman year and I was doing good. I was cheerleading. I ended up like not going to school as much.
[10:26:53] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We have a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks, I don't -- if that's not a national health emergency, I don't know what is.
This is a problem that is not just starting on our street corners. Where it's really starting is in our doctor's officers and hospitals, and we urge the president to take these steps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and head of the White House opioid task force making it crystal clear this administration has to do something about this manmade crisis. The heroin and opioid epidemic is attacking neighborhoods across the heartland and from coast-to-coast. Children are dying, morgues are overflowing and the number of overdoses is rising at a staggering rates. We went to Ohio. We wanted to see this firsthand. What we found is that no one is immune. This is a story of America hooked on heroin and the devastation left in its wake.
LISA STOKESBURY, 20-YEAR-OLD STEPSON DIED FROM OPIOID OVERDOSE: It is ravaging every single segment of our society. This is a chemical, almost warfare on us that people don't know how to control.
HARLOW (voice-over): The high school cheerleader, addicted at 15.
The 20-year-old baseball player, dead.
These fathers, now inmates because of their addiction.
And even the sheriff's former wife, addicted.
This is the real picture of America's opioid crisis, where drugs don't discriminate. It is infesting neighbors across the heartland and from coast-to-coast. The intersection of I-70 and I-75 means Ohio has become a distribution hub for drugs and a crossroads for this crisis. Here, the morgue freezers are overflowing with the bodies of those who lost their battle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are kids. They are your next door neighbor, my next door neighbor, my kids' friends, our children.
JUDGE ANTHONY CAPIZZI, JUVENILE COURT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO: I tell my kids when they come to my treatment court. You have three options in my court. You graduate from treatment court. You go in to prison. Or you are going to be dead.
HARLOW (voice-over): Death, jail or recovery, the only options for the millions of Americans now addicted to opioids from prescription pain pills like Oxycodone to street drugs like heroin and fentanyl. DR. KENT HARSHBARGER, CORONER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, OHIO: The overdose rate has doubled in the last five months. Since the end of December 2016, we have seen an amazing, alarming increase in the number of Oxycodone overdose deaths.
HARLOW (voice-over): Montgomery County coroner, Dr. Kent Harshbarger says the death rate is three times what it was just two years ago. Nearly every night his morgue freezer fills up, and up to 70 percent of the bodies in here are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who die from an opioid overdose.
HARSHBARGER: There's no one excluded. This is happening to every socioeconomic class in our community, every age.
HARLOW (voice-over): One of them just last year was 20-year-old Bradly Stokesbury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great kid. Great student. Loved life.
HARLOW (voice-over): Brad died from an overdose in the same hospital where he was born.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to carry the Stokesbury name. He was my only son.
HARLOW (voice-over): He overdosed on a Sunday just hours after he went to church with his -