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Crisis Of Credibility: Trump Facing Massive Trust Issues; CNN Poll: 73 Percent Of Americans Don't Trust What White House Says; Hypocrisy: Trump Retweets Anonymous-Sourced Leak; North Korea Vows "Physical Action" In Response To Sanctions. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 8, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:08]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Poppy, thank you so much. Hello, everyone. I am Kate Bolduan. A White House facing a crisis in credibility right now. Consider this -- if there's a terror attack, a natural disaster, an imminent threat to the nation or any event of national consequence, three quarters of Americans say they don't trust what is coming from the White House.

Stunning element to a CNN poll, a poll that 200 days in finds President Trump at his lowest mark yet, 38 percent of Americans approve of the job that he is doing. Much of the problem Americans have, trust issues with the president.

One in four Americans trust most of what they hear from the White House, one in four. And the president's near constant tweeting is also part of the problem, 71 percent of those polled say the president's tweets are a risky way to communicate.

We have a lot to break down in these numbers so let's get over to CNN's political director, David Chalian for much more on this. A lot to learn in these numbers, 200 days in. David, break it down for us.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, indeed, Kate. Let's take that 38 percent approval that you just noted and put it in context here with his predecessors at this stage in their presidency.

You'll see that President Trump is at the bottom of the list with all his predecessors back to Eisenhower in modern day polling. Only one other president at this mark in their presidency was below 50 percent approval. That was Bill Clinton in 1993.

But Donald Trump is even well below that at 38 percent, Kate. Of course, we want to look at how he is doing with his own party, Republicans. Take a look at what we found here.

These are Republicans who said they strongly approve, not just approve, but do so strongly approve of the president's job performance. In February, 73 percent of Republicans strongly approved. In March, it was 69 percent.

Kate, it is now down to 59 percent among Republicans who strongly approve. This is a cheek in the armor when you are looking at how he is doing. Another base factor that we looked at, white, non-college educated Americans.

As you know, this was certainly part of his base that drove him to victory last November. Take a look at this on a key brand item. Can manage the government effectively, in April, 62 percent of these non- college educated white voters said that Donald Trump could effectively manage the federal government.

Now, that's down to 50 percent. This shows a little bit of erosion among his core base. Of course, as you noted on Twitter, 71 percent, 7 in 10 Americans say that they think his tweets are a risky way to communicate.

I think, Kate, we are seeing that day in and day out, including today with his retweet of unsubstantiated North Korea story that seems to be based on anonymous sources. Donald Trump out there retweeting, this is the kind of thing where 7 in 10 Americans are saying it is a risky way to communicate.

BOLDUAN: So, David, there's a lot of important messages here for the White House in these numbers. Is there good news, though, in here for the president?

CHALIAN: There is one number in the poll that if you are president, you would feel pretty good about, 53 percent, a majority of Americans see the country doing well, see it sort of going in the right direction.

That is usually a good barometer, when you ask that, it's a polling question, take the temperature of the country. He's got a majority of Americans that think things are going well in the country.

But what's clear from all the rest of these numbers, Kate, that is a sentiment Americans hold separate and apart from how they are assessing the Trump presidency 200 days in.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating and important. Great to see you, David. Thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: A lot to discuss. Let me bring in our panel right now. With me, CNN contributor, Margaret Hoover, served as White House for George W. Bush, and is a veteran two Republican presidential campaigns.

Also, here in New York, Matt Bennet, Democratic strategist and former White House deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton, and in Washington, CNN political commentator and former Congressman, Jack Kingston, who served as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

All right, friends, David Chalian did the heavy lifting for us so let's just analyze. Margaret, that 73 percent number that David went to at one point, 73 percent overall say they cannot trust most of what they hear coming from the White House right now.

So, what happens when the next natural disaster, major crisis faces this country and the country needs to look to the White House for truth?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is precisely the problem, Kate. If the people in the United States can't trust the White House for the truth, they will begin to look for other places, trusted sources where they can go.

The White House is trying to undermine the credibility of some of major journalistic institutions, the "New York Times," CNN, places that we don't have a pretty good history of getting it right.

Even though as we all know journalism isn't 100 percent, nothing is, but the White House is 73 percent in the tank, all right. This does seriously undermine credibility in our institutions to a new, new low. This is very disturbing and disheartening for any patriot.

[11:05:09] BOLDUAN: Jack, Congressman, come in on this one because here are a couple things that we know -- one thing that we know that the president did not run on is being honest and trustworthy.

I'm not saying he didn't say he would be, I'm saying there was honesty and trustworthiness for both candidates, we know that. Things he didn't run on is being a change agent.

Here is another number, 43 percent say that he can bring change that the country needs. That is down five points from April. If nothing else, is that a problem?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me say this, first of all, as somebody who's been at the campaign looking at polls every day, we know that when the poll was taken, time of day, where it was taken, these are all relevant factors.

So, what we did in the Trump campaign is never look and put too much weight on any given poll. So, you know, in this case, there would be some questions that we want to know about the bias of the poll itself.

The second thing, though, is I want to get to that 53 percent which ties into your question directly --

BOLDUAN: Then don't ever come to be citing a poll that you like from this day forward, my friend. I don't have any tape of that.

KINGSTON: OK, let me give you two things here, number one, on the Twitter, the politically correct answer is, do you think the president should get off Twitter? Everybody is going to say yes.

The reality is that's not true at all. People love the president being on Twitter, except Fortune 500 CEOs who don't like kind of adversity, but the truth of the matter is the president directly connecting with 100 million constituents, it's a good, positive thing.

Is there instruction in that? Can he do a better job? Can he be more credible, more accurate, more careful? Yes, there is instruction in that. But, that 53 percent in terms of almost right track/wrong track is still significant. Because with unemployment at a 16-year low, with the stock market breaking records on a weekly basis, with illegal border crossing down 60 percent to 70 percent, those are all things that Americans want.

And what we Republicans found and Margaret will remember in Bill Clinton's first term, we have the president is always down, also a scandal and stepping in some problem but people did not want to change.

BOLDUAN: I'm not saying he's down and out. Go ahead, Margaret.

HOOVER: Jack, you are right. Bill Clinton was right. It's the economy, stupid, which is what is so shocking about these numbers. The president's numbers are so bad and the economy is good. Imagine if the economy were bad. His numbers would be historically --

KINGSTON: But Margaret, as you remember, Bill Clinton, his popularity wasn't that high when he went into re-election, but people came to the conclusion that they did not want change, and that's what is important.

They may say, I'm not really crazy about the president, but I don't want change because the economy --

HOOVER: It's all good as long as the economy is strong.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Matt.

MATT BENNETT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, Jack, that was a really good try, but the fact of the matter is that polls do matter. When the president's poll, under 50 percent the parties get shellacked in midterm elections. This is an historic low.

The biggest problem for Republicans is that the drop that Trump is seeing has come among exclusively Trump supporters. Not a single person said that they thought Trump was doing a good job who voted for Hillary Clinton.

That means every bit of his erosion, all 15 points of it came among independents and Republicans that had become disillusioned with Trump. That is going to be a big problem for his party.

BOLDUAN: Here's kind of to that point -- hold on, Congressman.

KINGSTON: (Inaudible) has gone up that's going to be a significant factor.

BOLDUAN: Wages is a key point, unemployment is also key point then why are people so unhappy in this country? Why are people so unhappy then, Congressman? Wait, just hold that thought. I want to get to Margaret on this one.

To Matt's point, here are two numbers that kind of stuck out at me. I feel like this might be, tell me if I'm wrong, where Republican lawmakers might be looking at right now.

You've got overall, who strongly approves the president, overall. The president is at 24 percent. Those who strongly disapprove of the president is 47 percent. People are more enthusiastic on the negative than they are on the very positive. How much trouble does that mean for Republicans in the midterms?

HOOVER: So, I mean, let's go back. What we know about the nature of the Republican Party, right, Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. We know that Republicans who didn't like Trump, didn't have him as first choice had fallen in line with Trump for a very long time, 73 percent in February and now 59.

That's a huge (inaudible) -- I mean, that's a big break as well. The reason they are with him is they hoped policy proposals will get passed. They hope the Affordable Care Act will get reform.

[11:10:07] They hope tax reform would come through. They hope there would be significant regulatory reform. All the things the Republicans believed that OK, he's in the oval office, maybe we can get things done we promised our constituents for a long time. Now, it looks like none of that is going to get done.

KINGSTON: That's not true.

HOOVER: Really? I mean --

KINGSTON: You just said regulatory reform for everyone regulation --

HOOVER: There is an executive order that is basically cosmetic that has happened on regulatory reform but nothing legislative that you and both know if you want real changes, you have to pass a law and the president got to sign it.

The big thing that we have promised our constituents for a decade now we would get done, we haven't got done so far. Now, look, it's only 200 days, but the numbers don't bear it out.

KINGSTON: Margaret, I will never accuse you of being a Republican insider or a part of the anti-Trump movement within the party, but that's what you are sounding like.

Because the truth is, you still have really solid change in the employment number, you have 1.3 million new jobs. You have a stock market at an all-time record. Those are real, real changes.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Look, every president can claim positive economic numbers and does when it happens under their watch. There were a million plus jobs that happened under Obama. They will take the blame when it goes south. We'll see where it goes. We'll have that conversation.

I have some other questions, though, Matt Bennett. If you are advising the White House on how to get the number back up, closer to 50, what's the first thing you actually would suggest? BENNETT: Look, I think Margaret is exactly right. The only thing that the people understand is legislation passing. Jack is talking about regulatory reform, which there is some of that is happening, but nobody knows. That is an elite conversation.

What they have to do is improve the relations with the Hill and figure out a way to pass something serious. That means doing it in a bipartisan way. They've been trying to ram these things through on reconciliation --

HOOVER: Get your own party on board. Get Republicans on board. You own the Senate. You own the House. Pass legislation. I know you would like to see it be bipartisan. I would like to see Republicans get on the same page. When you have the bully pulpit of the presidency --

BENNETT: It's too hard. You can't do tax reform.

BOLDUAN: Stay tuned to September. Congressman -- I have an interesting conversation with you all the time, and also when you answer my question.

KINGSTON: I always answer your questions, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you do. I hope you see me rolling my eyes. Thirty eight percent, is that a floor for the president on approval?

KINGSTON: It is the floor. It's going to get better and better because we are on the right track. That 53 percent is going to be reflected in votes and it's going to be stronger and stronger.

I wanted to make this point. I talked to Congressman Tom Graves this morning. He said he had record turnouts and great enthusiasm at his town meetings and he said, Matt, I thought was interesting, people in his district are recognizing that the House has, as Margaret said fallen in line, unfortunately, the Senate has not.

My party has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. I hope that the Senate will come back and do that --

BOLDUAN: If I had a nickel every time a member of the House criticized the process of the Senate, I wouldn't be on television anymore. Great to see you, guys. Thanks so much. Great to see you, Congressman, Margaret, Matt.

So, the president wants leakers thrown in prison. He tells Americans, don't trust anonymous sources. So, why, then, did the president retweet a report about U.S. intelligence based on anonymous sources? We will get to that in a second.

Plus, violent new rhetoric coming from North Korea vowing, quote, "physical actions" over the world sanctions against them. I'm going to speak like with a man who has been at the table with North Korea on what happens now.

And the dark web, a model and a kidnapping, investigators are now answering to questions, did this woman collude with the captors? The mystery continues to unfold. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:18:13]

BOLDUAN: President Trump still on his working vacation and back on Twitter this morning, retweeting a report by Fox News that U.S. spy satellites have detected North Korea moving anti-ship cruise missiles to a patrol boat.

Key point here is that report cites anonymous U.S. officials with knowledge of U.S. intelligence as the source of the information. Did the president just retweet leaked classified information, something he rails against almost every day?

I want to bring in the CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr for much more on this. Barbara, what do we know about this report?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kate, it's hard to see how it's not the leaking by the president on his Twitter account of a leak of classified information. I mean, he's the president, he can declassify. He can tweet really whatever he wishes.

But you are right, of course, this has been very much something he has been against so publicly for so many months. It does look like it is classified because it is based on spy satellite intelligence reports, all about the North Koreans moving some fairly smaller range missiles on to a ship.

This is not about the big intercontinental missiles that pose a direct threat to the U.S., but all of this leading the ambassador to the United Nations talking about her concern about that. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can't. I can't talk about anything that's classified. If that's in the newspaper, that's a shame. But --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no reason to believe it's not accurate, though?

HALEY: I have no reason to comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that another leak, I guess?

HALEY: It's one of these things, I don't know what's going on, but I will tell you it's incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that. You are not only getting the scoop on something, you are playing with people's lives. This has got to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Got to stop. That's a criticism of the media reporting. No criticism, yet, from the U.N. ambassador on the president retweeting it all in public -- Kate. [11:20:12] BOLDUAN: Yes, but it's hard to square those two things, the ambassador's position and the president's position on it. He is the one person who can declassify anything at will. We'll see if that retweet is confirmation of the report. We shall see. Barbara, great to see you, though. Thanks so much.

So here is something we can't confirm right now. North Korea is throwing out new threats, vowing to take physical action in retaliation against the new sanctions approved just this weekend by the United Nations.

It's not just that, also in response, North Korea has vowed to make the U.S. pay a thousand-fold for what it sees as crimes committed against its people and the country's foreign minister says this, "They will not put nukes and ballistic rockets on negotiating table under any circumstances."

And the official news agency warning this, "There is no bigger mistake than the United States believing that its land is safe across the ocean." So now what?

Joining me now, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, someone who has traveled and talked to the North Koreans many times in the past. Ambassador, it's great to see you.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So, when North Korea threatens physical action is the quote. What are they threatening and how real is that threat, do you think?

RICHARDSON: Well, they usually get very bombastic with a lot of bluster after sanctions pass, after they feel they have been violated. So, this is -- this is not uncommon. What is a bit disturbing is, number one, they realize that these sanctions that have been passed against them at the U.N., this have bite.

This affects 80 percent of their commerce that comes in from China. This affects a third of yearly revenue, if these sanctions are enforced. Then, lastly, the foreign minister, who I know, who I have dealt with, who is basically a reasonable guy in the scheme of North Korean negotiators got unusually bombastic.

So, you know, I'm a little concerned about the over dramatization of the situation. But you know, I think at the same time, Kate, I like the fact that the administration put out a statement, basically saying, look, we'll have dialogue, but cut down on the missile test.

I think that's a reasonable position recently arrived because they have had a lot of mixed messages, the administration. They want to go ahead with preemptive strikes. This tweeting of the president is unfortunate. He should stop doing that. He's not going to do it.

The U.N. ambassador maybe getting ahead of the secretary of state on some of her statements. So, I just think that right now we have to be cautious and see what North Korea really does. Maybe they will, in the next few days, change their position and signal to China, OK, let's talk under these conditions. We don't know. We don't know Kim Jong-un. He's a total mystery.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely true. On the foreign minister, I mean, he did say that they will under no circumstances put nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table. I mean, you've advocated talking to the North Koreans. But can the U.S. ever sit down with them until that happens?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think it's been unfortunate that in the past, in the past Democratic and Republican administrations we have said you have to stop your nuclear and missile activity or we won't talk to you because we are rewarding bad behavior. I think that's not a good policy. I think you want to talk and see if there's common ground.

BOLDUAN: Even with that threat, you think they can talk?

RICHARDSON: We don't know. But I think continuing this policy of isolating them, not talking to them whatsoever has got us into a situation where things are getting worse. They are developing more missiles, more nuclear weapons, more instability in the peninsula.

So, I think a change in policy is needed, one that combines tougher sanctions with some kind of diplomacy, and possibly Tillerson. And I hope the State Department takes the lead on this issue and not others that talk about pre-emptive military strikes, the national security adviser and others.

Let Tillerson pursue diplomacy through those Asian contacts that he's been making in some of these summits and the Asean summit in direct talks with China.

BOLDUAN: Ambassador, you talked about the president's tweeting. About that Fox News report, do you believe his retweet is confirmation that U.S. spy satellites have picked this up over in North Korea?

RICHARDSON: It probably is. You know, but he shouldn't be doing that. Even though a president can declassify, you don't want to -- you don't want to put that out if you are the commander in chief. So, he should just stop that but he's not going to do it. He's going to keep doing this.

[11:25:09] He doesn't listen. He should listen to his secretary of state, his national security, secretary of defense and stop this.

BOLDUAN: One quick question, I mean, the threat of a nuclear North Korea and the threat for North Korea has existed for years. Give me your honest assessment on how scared should Americans be right now?

RICHARDSON: Well, we should be concerned because their missiles, their ICBMs could hit the continental United States. We know they can hit Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, maybe they are a year away from a nuclear warhead that hits continental United States.

So, they are advancing. My view is that they are not going to negotiate, the North Koreans, until they know, technically, proficiently they can hit the United States. That's when I think they will negotiate.

I don't know that, but that's what the North Koreans always do. They level the enormous threats and that's when they feel the strongest. That's when they will negotiate, but we'll see.

BOLDUAN: Unfortunately, we will wait and see what the administration's response is and how real the threat then becomes. Ambassador, it's great to see you. Thanks so much.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So, with all of this going on, the president yesterday claimed that the media wasn't covering North Korea, again, on Twitter as the ambassador and I were discussing.

The president sent a tweet at 4:15 yesterday afternoon and here is what it said, "The fake news media will not talk about the importance of the United Nation Security Council's 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on North Korea.

Not only was the "LEAD" with Jake Tapper covering the North Korea sanctions around seriously honestly the exact same time that the president sent out that tweet, not only that, we talked about it at 11:00 yesterday and pretty much every other hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions to date, against the Kim Jong-un regime.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Rex Tillerson says a unanimous U.N. vote slapping North Korea with the strongest sanctions yet shows the world is united against the reclusive regime's nuclear ambitions. North Korea this morning vowing to retaliate against the U.S. over these new U.N. sanctions.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The president is also saying he is happy and impressed with the latest round of U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

BOLDUAN: North Korea is lashing out at new sanctions from the United Nations.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea vowing to retaliate against the U.S. in response to new sanctions.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: United Nations Security Council over the weekend, unanimously 15-0 passed the resolution imposing new sanctions.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Slapping North Korea with the strongest sanctions, yet. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The U.N. Security Council, led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, unanimously adopted the toughest sanctions, yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now you know. Coming up for us, despite the chaos in Washington, the economy soaring in several areas. Is the economy as good as the president says it is? See what we found.

Also, this, how is this for a stat? The president has spent 1 out of every 4 days at a golf resort despite his campaign pledge that he would avoid (inaudible) he'd be too busy to play golf. We have new insight in the president's working vacation.

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