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"Wall Street Journal" Blames Bannon for White House Chaos; U.S. Intelligence Say North Korea Figured Out How to Put Nuclear Warhead on Missile. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired August 9, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00:] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: Yes. I think that's right. Remember, Kate, from the start, Donald Trump put in place a group of individuals all with sort of amorphis roles and titles. Bannon is one of them. McMaster is sort of another. Where does one's job begin, the other end? Remember, Bannon had a seat on the National Secuirty Council for at time.
So Trump has in a lot of ways made these sorts of conflicts every day, and more common than in other White Houses because he thinks that's what he thinks brings the best out of people. He thinks management by fighting, the gladiator style, where he's in the stands watching two people duel it out who work for him, he thinks that out of that comes the best work. It also comes a lot of stories like this where you have Bannon versus jared kushner, Reince Priebus versus briefly Anthony scaramucci, and now steve Bannon versus H.R. McMaster.
You are right, very different world views. Not terribly surprising. McMaster is someone who has been within the establishment for a very long, military establishment. Steve Bannon has been outside of every establishment.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: To that point, i wonder what you make of the final argument that "The Journal" makes when it says, "Mr. Trump may worry about the damage Mr. Bannon and his allies could do to his administration if he is no longer part of the White House team. But if his minions continue to vilify his colleagues inside the White House, how can anyone tell the difference?"
CILLIZZA: Look, i think it's a bad management style. If -- and this is a big if, because I don't think Donald Trump is here. But let's say Donald Trump said he decided to get rid of Steve Bannon. I think it would be bad management to say, well, we can't get rid of him because of the possiblity he might bad-mouth us. When you are the president of the United States, you are trying to act for the good of the country, is it possible steve Bannon would go and use "Breitbart" and other things he has connections to among conservatives to bad- mouth the president? Sure. I don't think that's how decisions should be made within the White House or within any business. Is the person doing their job to the best of their ability and are they delivering on what you hired them to do? That should be the criteria by which the assessments are made, not what will this person say about me if they leave.
BOLDUAN: On where things stand, we know the latest was it was, just at the end of last week, President Trump put out a statement endorsing, saying that H.R. McMaster has his full support and that he's basically a great person and does a great job. There you have that. What happens come thursday, we will see.
CILLIZZA: True. Quickly, kate, contrast tha,t by the way, with Donald Trump's refusal to say anything about jeff Sessions. That is important for H.R. McMaster. That's a real vote of confidence that jeff Sessions would have killed for.
BOLDUAN: Don't say that. Let's see what happens.
Great to see you, Chris.
CILLIZZA: Good point. It is only wednesday.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Chris. Thank you.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
#: Coming up for us, U.S. intelligence analysts believe North Korea figured out how to put a nuclear weapon on a missile but how far can those missiles fly? Can they hit a big target? And how much damage would those weapons actually cause. We will break it down for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:35:] REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think Americans should sleep well at night. I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days. I think the president, again, as commander-in-chief i think he felt it necessary to issue a very strong statement directly to North Korea. But i think what the president was just reaffirming is the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack and defend our allies. And we will do so. So the American people should sleep well at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: A clear difference in approach between President Trump's fire-and-fury rhetoric against North Korea and Rex Tillerson, who you heard there, who seems to be trying to bring down the temperature. Where does that leave us in the midst of the escalating tensions?
Joining me now, General wesley clark, and senior fellow at UCLA and Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.
Great to see you both. Thank you for coming in.
Secretary of State Tillerson says Americans should sleep well at night. With the assessment from U.S. officials on North Korea, do you agree with him?
I do agree with secretary Tillerson. This has been a long time in coming. Obviously, we don't welcome it. It's unfortunate that North Korea saw that it had to do this in order to seek its own survival, i suppose. But nevertheless, we're in a state of deterrence on the Korean peninsula, North Korea can't do anything without the risk of being totally wiped out as a state, its leadership devastated. So if that's their primary objective, survival of the regime, which we believe it is and has been for decades, they're not going to attack. That's deterrence.
BOLDUAN: General, North Korea's response to President Trump was to threaten Guam. Why Guam?
Well, i think if you look at Guam, it's of strategic significance to us. That's where many of our long-range bombers operate out of, those that would be employed in any operation in China, Korea, Japan area of operations. It's important to us. We do have military forces there. It would be a launching pad for any ground forces that were being used to augment the situation in the region.
Also, there's been a big question that has been remaining and still is unanswered. Was this message from the president off the cuff or was it planned, is it strategic? Do you think this statement that the president gave yesterday, do you think that was signed off on by folks at the Pentagon and State Department?
[11:40:] KIMMITT: Well, whether it was or not, it's clear that that represents some of the views inside not only the White House but the Pentagon. As you heard the secretary of state says, we have to put this in context. As you said, this has been a long time coming. General clark mentioned the same thing as well. It's good that at this time we have a strong message of deterrence. At the time when the North Koreans are most bellikoes, that we are making it clear we are going to defense the United States from any kind of provocation. That should not only be heard by the United States but by Japan and Korea and China as well. Th
BOLDUAN: General clark, James clapper said this about the North Korean threat. Listen to this.
CLARK: What is bothersome is we have heard this rhetoric coming out of North Korea. We ignore it. Certainly at the president yat leav level we ignore it. The rhetoric is not helpful.
BOLDUAN: If that is the case, why do you think the president did it?
I think the president is playing to a domestic audience. But here is what's behind general clapper's comment. The center of the gravity in this long-term struggle for the Korean peninsula is the people of South Korea. They are under threat from the North. They trust the stability, the responsibility, the steadiness of the United States in providing their deterrent. You don't want to get in a competition with the North on who can be the most bellocoes in statement. It doesn't protect. It doesn't stabilize. It frightens the people in the south. Ultimately, long-term, the North's objective is to raise the rhetoric, frighten people in the south and convince people in the south that the United States should leave. They would be much safer if the United States left. When the United States engages in competitive rhetoric with the North, it doesn't work for us. We shouldn't do it. We do have to say we're there, we're steady, we're committed, we will be there for the South Koreans. But not with rhetoric. That works against us.
BOLDUAN: Add to that, General clark, barbara starr is reporting that right now at least at this moment is the best we can say, there are no plans at the Pentagon to deploy extra military forces to the Korean peninsula. Should folks read into that? Should that give people confidence or is that sending a message of any kind?
CLARK: I think it is sending a message. It says that our deterrent is sound and there's no reason to deploy additional forces there. That's a message of reassurance to the south and a warning to the North.
BOLDUAN: Thank you always for coming in. I appreciate it.
More on our breaking news coming up. The FBI conducting a surprise pre-dawn raid at the home of the president's former campaign chairman. What this tells us about the investigation, where it's headed and what this means. Coming up.
BOLDUAN: An aide to the president defending the president's silence about a bomb attack on U.S. soil. It's a minnesota mosque. It happened saturday when an unknown suspect bombed a mosque. So far, no arrests. Minnesota's governor says there's no room for doubt in his mind it's terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(D), GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: A terrible, terrible act this was. It was committed yesterday. It's a crime. If somebody says, if the roles were reversed, it would be a terrorism attack. That's what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: No tweet from the president on this attack. Somewhat surprising from a president who ran as a law-and-order candidate with a hardline against terrorism.
The deputy assistant to the president explained the silence yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's a great rule, all initial reports are false. You have to check them. You have to find out who the perpetrators are. We have had crimes committed, alleged hate crimes by right wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been prop you wifrom the left. When you have people fake hate crimes, i think it's wise to find out what exactly is going on before you make statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Is this new policy of the White House, withhold comment until all the facts are in on suspected cases of terrorism?
Let me bring in the former press secretary for hillary clinton and a former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Friends, let's get to it.
Scott, the president as we know -- i don't need to say this. He has never been shy to call an act -- call out an act of terror before all of the facts are in. We have examples of that. Sometimes he has right. Sometimes he has been wrong. What does it say he has said nothing about this
i don't think it says anything. If you look at the entirety of what Gorka said in his interview, he said that he confirmed that it was an act of terrorism. I'm sure the FBI is looking into it and i'm sure the president will say something that the FBI gives him some information that he feels comfortable talking about. I think people are trying to generate outrage here when it may not be warranted.
BOLDUAN: Is it surprising at all or does it change your view at all that the president tweeted about the attack in france this morning and did it right away this morning and hasn't said anything about a potential attack on U.S. soil from the weekend?
It doesn't. And again, i don't think there's a timeline on these things. And he may tweet about it this afternoon. And when he does, i think people will be happy about it. I think the president should make a statement. I think it's a heinous attack, and i think the president should make a statement about it but there's no time limit on it and if he does it this afternoon or this evening that would be fine.
BOLDUAN: Gorka seemed to think this was a fake attack, what do they call it, a false flag attack? What is your reaction?
My reaction is that Gorka's condemnation was crock. Maybe you would exercise discretion in calling it a hate crime or an act of terrorism pending more information coming in, but there's nothing stopping the president coming out and condemning this violence. People should be able to attend their places of worship without threat of violence. This is where the president is slow to address things that he should address. Two good Americans were attacked after rising up and protecting two women on a train for being muslim. I think this president considers it off brand to speak out in defense of muslim Americans. This is a president who throughout his campaign and as president has tried to pit Americans against each other. You saw it in the ban against tran transgender. The whole reason was to try to create a culture war. So this is a president, whether it's a travel ban, or its immigration policy, he likes to pit people against each other. So i think his slowness to react here is not --
BOLDUAN: Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman. If someone's been cooperating with congressional committees, what does it tell you? Well, i think it's probably not very much fun to answer your door at
5:00 a.m. And find the FBI standing out there, and they do these kinds of things to send a message, to say, hey, we're not going to be treating you with kid gloves. Here's what's important to me. Every step of the way and everyone involved is cooperating. Everybody on the committee says that Manafort is cooperating and giving them the needed materials.
BOLDUAN: If there was trust that he was giving forth all this information they were requesting, this wouldn't have gone to a predawn raid.
We don't know exactly why they did it, other than it sends a pretty strong message that it's a serious investigation. But we already knew that. The best outcome here for the Donald Trump White House is to get this done as quickly as possible, ultimately through cooperation. We're going to find out through the intelligence committees that there was collusion here. If we can all move forward and be sure that the air is clear. Right now we have no indication at all that anyone is doing anything at all other than cooperating which is the right posture.
BOLDUAN: I know this would be your reaction to this, no comment. Because that's what you always gave me when you were there, but what is your comment now?
I think it's very interesting that this raid of his House occurred. Number one for the reason Paul Callan outlined, when someone is cooperating fully, you don't raid their home, that's something you do when you think somebody's going to destroy evidence. But when you do a raid you have to get a search warrant, and you have to go to a judge and say that you have a particular piece of evidence that will prove a crime was committed is in a particular location. So the FBI has a very clear idea of what they went in that House to go find. And so that suggests to me that Paul Manafort's exposure her is very severe. We know there's potential with foreign tax evasion, and now the interesting question will be whether this heightening, this ratcheting up that Paul Manafort is experiencing will put the heat on those around President Trump.
BOLDUAN: CNN takes a virtual look at the North's missile capabilities. That's coming up.