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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan; Japan warns people to shelter in place; Trump Revives Charlottesville Rhetoric. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 14, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:05] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, the breaking news, North Korea firing a ballistic missile. Japan alerting its citizens to shelter in place.
Plus, the president reopening the wounds from Charlottesville bragging about his comments about blaming both sides for the violence.
And new details on an exclusive conversation between Trump and Jeff Sessions. The New York Times reports Sessions called it the most humiliating experience in his entire public life.
Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, North Korea launching a missile at this hour, its trajectory taking it over northern Japan. In Japan, a nationwide alert warning citizens to shelter in place.
This latest provocation coming just hours after North Korea issued an extremely threatening statement. They say, "Let's reduce the U.S. mainland into ashes and darkness. Let's vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now. This is what the whole nation is demanding."
Obviously, that's a translation but that's pretty loud and clear. Let's reduce the U.S. mainland into ashes and darkness. The launch, tonight's launch moments ago, coming just days after the United Nations unanimously adopted a U.S. drafted resolution which imposes the strictest sanctions yet on North Korea. The country has launched 22 missiles and 15 tests this year alone since President Trump took over, 22 missiles.
Eleven days ago, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in the past nine years. It is a major milestone, detonating a hydrogen bomb capable of being loaded on two intercontinental ballistic missiles. That's what they say but it is very clear the strength of that missile was much, much stronger than anybody anticipated.
Jim Sciutto is OutFront tonight. And Jim, what more are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence had been detecting preparations for a possible missile launch for some days and now tonight, this morning, Korea Time, North Korea delivering the range.
It looks as if this missile traveled more than 2,000 miles. The initial indications of intermediate range ballistic missile but that trajectory, what's key about it, flying as you said, right over Northern Japan, a U.S. Treaty ally. A direct provocation to U.S. treaty ally. A similar path to their most recent launch.
Those 22 missiles this year, that pace far outpacing Kim Jong-un's predecessor, his father, his grandfather in terms of missile launches. And really escalating the danger of this situation here and it's something that makes not only the U.S. very nervous but certainly U.S. allies in the region who are closest to this threat, South Korea and Japan very nervous as well.
BURNETT: And how serious of a provocation is this? I mean, obviously, you can look and say, 22 missiles tests this year. We had another nuclear test. But how serious is this coming very quickly? This is what, not even three weeks to test a nuclear test?
SCIUTTO: It's a direct challenge to the U.S., to North Korea's only ally China and really to the international community. You remember just last week, a unanimous decision in the U.S. Security Council to impose greater sanctions on North Korea for tests and military activity just like this.
And let me tell you this, Erin, it is interesting, I was briefed by a senior administration official last week on the Trump administration's approach to China and this official raised this question which really stuck in my mind which is, is North Korea deterrable at all?
It's an open question. Sanctions have not worked. Military threats, threats of an overwhelming response, et cetera, you hear from Trump, you hear from Defense Secretary Mattis, that hasn't worked at least in terms of these tests and advances in both missile and nuclear technology.
It's a key question. It really upends how a country like the U.S. responds to this and how it guarantees its own security. It's a real threat, very concerning to all involved.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Jim Sciutto. Just checking now the distance and as you look at this, obviously these provocations over Japan intended to show that Pyongyang can strike the U.S. territory of Guam and others.
Will Ripley is OutFront on the phone from Tokyo who just -- Will, you obviously waking up this morning there, just back from your 15th trip to Pyongyang. This missile test uncomfortably close to Japan. Obviously intended to threaten Japan and also show the United States the range. How significant is it?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It is very significant, Erin because this is -- if it turns out to be the same projectory as that launch couple of weeks ago which include their intermediary range (INAUDIBLE) over Hokkaido. It was just terrifying for people here in Japan because this is real because I woke up yesterday in Pyongyang, I flew out of the Pyongyang Sunan Airport and the Pyongyang Sunan Airport area is where North Korea is believed to have launched this latest missile.
So, we were flying out of the airport yesterday and very likely there has been missile preparations underway. Obviously kept out of view of those of us who are flying in and out in the civilian aircraft.
But by North Korea launching from this capital over Japan, they are sending a number of messages, one that they can launch from highly populated areas. They -- launching from their capital adds a level of significant, a level of (INAUDIBLE).
[19:05:10] And then by sending it over Hokkaido, once again you have millions of people waking up with alerts on their phones called J- alerts warning them to seek shelter in large buildings and you'll have to forgive the traffic noise because I'm on my way walking into our bureau as we speak here.
You also have potentially air raid sirens. It's a really frightening scenario for Japanese citizens who once again have to face the possibility of North Korean missiles threatening them and that's why you see for the first time since World War II people have missile drills. Children are going to school, being told what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. This is not the kind of return to history that Japan ever expected but that is the new reality in this region, Erin.
BURNETT: And you just returned from Pyongyang, Will. Were there any signs another launch was imminent? You've gotten to know the signs, you've gotten to know when you're in there. How they're acting. Did you see signs?
RIPLEY (via telephone): So we flew in last week and at that point, South Korean intelligence had indicated missile launch preparations were underway possibly at the Pyongyang Sunan Airport. However, on the morning that the launch was expected to take place which is North Korea's foundation day, the fog was so thick, you had zero visibility.
And we knew that if there was a launch from Pyongyang scheduled for that morning and there have been activities detected just hours earlier, the fog would have stopped the launch. And the reason for that is because, yes, of course you can launch a missile in the fog but then your propaganda television cameras can't take pictures.
North Korea usually has a dozen or more cameras pointed right at these missiles when they go up and we'll see North Korea release that footage. And so, you know, we knew at that point that they were going to wait. There was also a major hurricane bearing down on the United States which wouldn't have given the launch as much attention as it would get right now.
And so these launches are, yes they're about military strategy, they're about sending a political message, but it's also about propaganda. And North Korea is trying to get a maximum impact and then the maximum amount of attention for their launch and perhaps that's why -- one of the reasons why we've seen the timing that, you know, hanged to today, this morning.
BURNETT: All right, Will Ripley, thank you very much. And as you get more -- of course he'll be with us. As we said with this breaking news is literally on his way to our bureau.
Jeff Zeleny is at the White House, and Jeff, we are, of course awaiting a response. Has the president said anything?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are indeed, Erin. Good evening. The president is holding an event right now at the White House. Reporters are going in momentarily. They will try and ask him about this.
So far the White House has not responded. They are trying to gather information on the ground there. But we do know by talking to White House officials throughout the day and indeed throughout the week.
This is the biggest foreign policy issue the president is dealing with. And when he was flying back to Washington late today from a visit to Florida to see all of the hurricane damage, he was asked about North Korea. This is what he said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working on different things. I can't tell you obviously what I'm working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ZELENY: So not revealing much there at all, Erin, but when you talk to senior officials here, they say the president is considering military options. And of course, it was just a little over a month ago when he was talking about that North Korea would experience fire and fury unlike the world has ever seen.
Of course since then, he's dialed back that rhetoric somewhat but there are military options on the table the president has looked at. Of course he's not decided to act on any of them. There's still a feeling here and indeed around the State Department and across Washington that diplomacy is a better answer here.
But the president, of course, this will be front and center next week when he makes his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He'll be meeting with the Japanese prime minister and others.
There are no good solutions here. He is the third president in a row to deal with this. We'll see if he talks about it yet tonight. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny. And of course as Jeff said, reporters are going in right now. The president is at a dinner. We're going to try to get a comment here from him in response to this launch and we're going to bring that to you live as we get it. I want to go now to Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World", and Colonel Cedrin Leighton, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gordon, what do you know at this point about this missile, which, just to be clear here, when you look at the mileage which I was just looking at as we were talking to Jim Sciutto, certainly would, again, show that North Korea could strike Guam when you look at the miles, 2,300 miles was the range here.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Yes. The other thing though is, we don't know if the North Koreans cut short the burn. They've done that before where they had a missile with much longer range but they decided not to show us the full range of the missile. So there's a lot that we don't know.
I think that after the analysis, we will figure out a few things but the really important thing here is that, this was a political message as well. Because, you know, they just had the Security Council sanctions. The North Koreans were especially defiant by firing this over Japan, by arching it over Hokkaido.
[19:10:08] And so basically the North Koreans are saying, we can't be stopped. Don't even try to stop us.
BURNETT: Colonel Leighton, this is the question here. In just the past 17 days, you have had three tests, two missiles and that massive of nuclear test, right, in just 17 days. Why so much in such a short span of time?
RET. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, U.S. AIR FORCE: Well, Erin, that's one of the big mysteries that a lot of Koreans are looking at. But my view on it is this, they have the opportunity, they have a window to get attention on themselves. They also have an opportunity to really showcase their capabilities.
What they want to do is they want to tell us how fast they're developing this. They wanted to scare us, they want to make sure that we are responding to them and they want a seat at the table. So this is an effort to get them -- to get us to put them on the table where we're equal partners. They want to be equal partners with us.
BURNETT: Now, here on this issue, the president obviously said he'll never do that, as has every American president, although North Korea has marched successfully forward on its nuclear program. Jeff Zeleny played it but I want to play a little bit more of the president today before the missile test. He said he has plenty of options when it comes to North Korea. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are working on different things. I can't tell you obviously what I'm working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.
(END AUDIO CLIP) BURNETT: Believe me, this country will be very, very safe. I mean, Colonel, how does he keep this promise at this point without military action?
LEIGHTON: It becomes really difficult but it depends on what the North Koreans do. So if the North Koreans are just going to throw missiles into the air and throw them, you know, off the Japanese coast, that's one thing. But if they actually threaten Guam or if they actually threaten U.S. installations, such as Misawa Air Base on the northern part of the island of Honshu or the bases on Okinawa in the southern part of Japan. That becomes another issue and when that occurs, then he's going to have almost no choice but to use some form of military action. And, of course, I'm sure that's what they're looking at, at the White House at this point in time.
BURNETT: Gordon, the president has been very clear. Yes, he maybe tamped it back a little bit but he put his position on the line and he put it out there loud and clearly. If North Korea threatens the United States, it's game over. Here he is in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Three weapons test since then, Gordon obviously including that nuclear test. That's a threat. Today, North Korea saying, quote, let's reduce the United States mainland into ashes and darkness.
That is a threat. How does the president get out of this situation, right? He said fire and fury like the world has never seen and then they've done it again and again and again and he's done nothing.
CHANG: Yes. well, we've gone past the words. I think what the United States needs to do is call an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, submit a resolution which is an embargo, say we're not going to negotiate it. Let the Chinese and the Russians veto it if they want but then declare that embargo and start to enforce it.
You know, we cannot allow the North Koreans to sell these missiles to the Iranians as they've done in the past. We cannot allow the Iranians to -- we cannot allow the North Koreans to sell chemical weapons to the Syrians.
So, although it's unfortunate, but I do believe that this type of military action is necessary to protect the rest of the world from North Korean weapons being proliferated.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much. And just a (INAUDIBLE) the sanctions up and now the (INAUDIBLE) still allow North Korea to import same amount of oil which is important right now. So, hardly stopping the program. OutFront next, breaking news on President Trump stirring up his remarks about neo-Nazis. Why is he reviving the both sides argument?
Plus, more breaking news, the president's humiliating takedown of Jeff Sessions. New reporting tonight about the meeting in which Trump allegedly called the attorney general to his face an idiot and demanded his resignation.
And will Trump's base turn on him for doing a deal with Democrats on an immigration deal without a border wall? Republican Steve King, one of the most vocal critics of that deal, is OutFront.
[19:18:01] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump defiant again defending white supremacists saying both sides are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia attended by Klan's men and white supremacists where of course the white supremacists killed somebody, murdered somebody.
Speaking with reporters on Air Force One, the president was asked about his face-to-face meeting with Senator Tim Scott. Tim Scott is of course the lone black Republican in the Senate.
He said in the aftermath of the president's quote that moral authority was compromised. So now the two have met. Here's what the president has to say.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said. Now because of what's happened since then, with Antifa, you look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying -- in fact, a lot of people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point. I said you got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, so we have to say with Tim Scott and that's how he discusses it. You'll remember, there was widespread condemnation after the president first made that remark blaming both sides after Charlottesville. After today's comment, Senator Scott, CNN caught up with him and here's what he said about the president.
He said, quote, that's who he is. It's who he has been. I didn't go in there, referring to his meeting with the president, to change who he was. I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. I think we accomplished that and to assume immediately thereafter he's going to have an epiphany is just unrealistic.
OutFront now, Symone Sanders, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, communications consultant for Priorities USA. Ben Ferguson is a conservative radio host and Trump supporter. Thanks to both.
So Symone, let's start with you. You heard the president, he says a lot of people have come out and written and said, gee, Trump might have a point about blaming both sides. There's bad people on both sides and there's good people on both sides. Does he have a point?
[19:20:02] SYMONE SANDERS: No, and I would like to know what articles the president is reading. The fact of the matter is, one side is white supremacist, the other side is not. I don't ever want to be on the side of white supremacy.
But I feel as though the president is saying this because he actually really truly believes it deep down in his soul, in his heart of hearts. So, it should not be out of the ordinary, if you will, for folks like Jemele Hill over at ESPN or even people like myself who say that the president must be a white supremacist because he seems to sympathizes and empathizes with white supremacists. Just because he played good with the base, it does not mean it's the policy or the politics.
BURNETT: Ben, look, Senator Scott was certainly diplomatic in his response. But he made it pretty clear, it's who he is, it's who he has been. I didn't go in there to change who he was. That's a pretty damning response coming from the lone black senator, Republican black senator.
BEN FERGUSON: He also said that the president did a lot of listening during that half hour meeting and really seemed to understand the context of the long issues that we've had with white supremacy and that is one of the things that he wanted to be very clear.
BURNETT: But then he got on Air Force One and the sound bite we just played where he said people are agreeing with me was said after the meeting. I'm not -- I'm just (INAUDIBLE) to understand.
FERGUSON: No, I'm fine with that. But let's also be clear about what the president said today. It's undeniable that there are people in Antifa that have been violent and have broken laws and gone after statues and done things that are against the law. There are some people in Antifa that are bad people.
The president should be able to say that and not have to worry that someone is going to scream, you're a racist because he's willing to have an honest conversation about what's going on in the streets in America right now in 2017. He's making comments about what we're seeing in realtime in this country and you cannot tell me that Antifa is not out there.
Some of the people in Antifa being incredibly violent, being incredibly antagonistic and going out there wanting to have a race war in this country. Go look at their own tweets. They are trying to stir up things in this country, some of them, and we should be able to have a conversation about that in realtime.
SANDERS: No. We cannot equate anyone with white supremacist. I'm sorry. That is a very dangerous --
FERGUSON: I'm not equating.
SANDERS: Yes. To say that there are bad people on both sides and to seemingly suggest --
BURNETT: And by the way, he said there are good people on both sides, which is rather problematic on the issue of white supremacist, isn't it?
SANDERS: I don't know any good white supremacists.
FERGUSON: Let me say this, in Antifa, ,I'm saying there are some people in Antifa that are not bad people, right? That should be OK to say as well. There's no such thing as a good person in white supremacy, KKK, neo-Nazis --
BURNETT: So you disagree with the president then?
FERGUSON: Of course I disagree with the president there. My point is, when you look at what's happening on the streets in 2017, it should not be off limits to have an honest conversation about what is actually happening and there are bad people that are out there in Antifa that are causing problems.
SANDERS: No, it's disingenuous for anyone, but especially the president of the United States, to suggest that Antifa is some way, shape or form just as bad as white supremacy. Do I condone violence? Absolutely not.
But there's only one side that is calling for the cleansing of America of a certain type of people. That's the white supremacist side. There's only one side that's talking about blood and soil. That's the white supremacist side. Antifa is not out there talking about it.
FERGUSON: Symone, I'm not disagreeing with you.
SANDERS: No but you're saying that it's OK and it's not OK to talk about it like that. It's not.
FERGUSON: No. What I'm saying is this. It is -- it should be OK to have a real conversation without being politically correct about the violence that is in Antifa. It's insane to act like it's not happening. You're pushing a narrative if you refuse to accept the fact that Antifa has become violent.
BURNETT: Symone, you did accept, right that there are people in Antifa that -- all right she did. OK.
SANDERS: I don't condone violence. I'm saying -- I absolutely understand that there are spaces and places and people who participate in the Antifa movement that are violent and I don't condone violence. But what I'm not OK with and what I would hope no one who would ever step foot on this program or this network would be OK with one, equating white supremacy with anything else or two, saying that we don't have to be politically correct in this moment. White supremacy has -- and when it comes to white supremacists and what's currently happening in this country in 2017. In 2017, black and brown people are being shot and killed in the street. In 2017, you can get in more trouble for calling the president a white supremacist than gunning down a young person of color.
FERGUSON: That's just not true.
SANDERS: No, it's absolutely true. In 2017 --
FERGUSON: No, it's not true. She didn't lose her job at ESPN if you're referring to ESPN. She did not lose her job.
SANDERS: Hold on. I just said you could get in more trouble. Ben --
FERGUSON: How did she's in trouble?
[19:25:04] SANDERS: Look, all I'm saying is, it is very dangerous for folks to group white supremacy in with just being politically correct because white supremacy is literally (INAUDIBLE) in this country.
BURNETT: Ben, can I ask you a question before we go?
BURNETT: What the president just told Tim Scott, words that I will not use on this program. After he had a meeting with him, Tim Scott said he listened to him. Tim Scott says, he was pleasantly surprised that the president was thinking about, quote, what might have been a better frame for his comments, right. That's what he said.
And then the president gets on the airplane and says, everyone is agreeing with me, they're writing things to agree with me, there's bad people on both sides. Is he telling Tim Scott to --
FERGUSON: Look, when you're the president of the United States of America you get asked a question on the plane about a meeting and you say there's a lot of people that look at Antifa and do in fact --
BURNETT: Look, I was right, I did nothing wrong, I'm going to say what I said again. That's what he said then.
You can agree or disagree, but that's what he said. He didn't say it was a good meeting, the guy had a lot to say. That's not what he said.
FERGUSON: Erin, I've said this from the very beginning. If I was president of the United States of America I would not have said it that way. I also think what he was referring to today is the reality that we should be able to have a conversation about what is happening in realtime on the streets and on social media and what people are actually seeing.
(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Quickly finish, please.
FERGUSON: What you're saying is that you can never talk or say anything negative about any group if they were next to white supremacists. That is unrealistic.
BURNETT: Thank you both. We'll leave it there. We'll leave it there. I appreciate your time. I know we're going to be talking about this a lot more.
Next, there's more breaking news on the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Apparently tendered his resignation to the president because the president called him an idiot and told him to resign. It's a shocking new report and we have the details.
And conservatives are outraged over Trump changing positions on immigration and the wall. And they're not too happy about this either, the Democrat, Chuck Schumer, caught on open mic.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: He likes us. He likes me, anyway.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
[19:30:40] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news, President Trump told the Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he wanted him out, he should resign, after Robert Mueller was named the special counsel for the Russia investigation. Now, this is according to a report tonight in "The New York Times."
"The Times" also reports that the president berated Jeff Sessions with a serious of insults which included calling him an idiot. And that Sessions then sent a resignation letter to the White House after the meeting. He told associates that the episode was the most humiliating experience of his entire public career and yet he still works there.
"The Times" reports that Trump rejected Sessions' resignation because top aides convinced him getting rid of the attorney general after both the FBI director and his national security adviser could hurt Trump.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.
Jessica, look, it's pretty stunning as to why Jeff Sessions would then go ahead after such humiliation and stay there. But is the president tonight, the White House, saying anything about this shocking report in "The New York Times"?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the president himself waving off the report, denying that he asked Jeff Sessions to resign. But we know that the president has expressed his dissatisfaction with the attorney general in the past, in fact tweeting in late July that Jeff Sessions was, quote, beleaguered and telling "The Times" in a wide ranging interview just days before that tweet that Sessions never should have recused himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump in that interview calling it, quote, unfair to the president.
And, of course, "The Times" today laying out those stunning new details that the president unleashed a string of insults on the attorney general, including calling him an idiot inside the Oval Office on May 17th. That was the same day it was announced special counsel Robert Mueller would be taking over the Russia investigation. Of course, "The Times" also said that Sessions told the president he would step down and even sent a resignation letter to the president that was ultimately not accepted.
Well, today, President Trump, when asked about it, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you ask Jeff Sessions to resign?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did I what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: So the president waving on the report there.
Now, as of now, that is the only response coming from the White House. The White House itself not commenting. Neither is the Justice Department and they are saying that the president never did -- the president never asked the attorney general to resign.
But, of course, it's been several months since the president allegedly asked Sessions to step down. It was May, according to "The Times". And, Erin, it's interesting, just this past weekend, Jeff Sessions characterized his relationship with the president as, quote, great, when our Rene Marsh interviewed him at FEMA's headquarters and even said we're having a great time.
So, really, it's unclear if this latest report might drudge up some of those old wounds -- Erin.
BURNETT: If your boss calls you an idiot, I don't know how that becomes an old wound. But, all right. Thank you very much, Jessica.
OUTFRONT now, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and editor at large for CNN politics, Chris Cillizza.
OK, I'm smiling but this is not funny, Chris. I mean, "The Times" is reporting wanted to fire Sessions. By the way, not once but twice, and that aides twice prevailed on him not to do so.
So, here, we have the president of the United States calling his attorney general idiot, telling him to resign, humiliating him, and yet they still work together.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. It's somewhat remarkable but I think you have to remember who Jeff Sessions is in all of this, Erin, which is this is a guy who was really, honestly, toiling sort of at the back bench of the Senate for a very long time. This was not a close ally of Mitch McConnell. He was sort of plucked from obscurity by Donald Trump largely because of his views on immigration aligned with Trump. He threw 100 percent behind Trump, Trump awarded him with an attorney general job, a job, frankly, he would have no other Republican administration of the 16 other candidates who are running.
So, I think he is willing to weather this stuff, number one, because it's his dream job. Number two, because he thinks he can get things done and he has, yes, on DACA of late, the president appears to be breaking his position but he has done a lot more as attorney general than as a relatively obscure senator from Alabama. So, I think that's how Jeff Sessions looks at things, thinks sticks can break -- words can never hurt me. Let it go, you know?
[19:35:01] I wouldn't want to be called an idiot by my boss, but --
BURNETT: Jeffrey Toobin, I mean, I guess, let's just talk about this. Sessions was so humiliated that he actually sent a resignation letter to the president, right? I mean, that's pretty stunning. How significant is that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's stunning and it's extremely rare and there are two words to describe Jeff Sessions. And those two words are attorney general, which he still is, and he gets to undo the work of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch on voting rights. He needs to make sure that our criminal sentences are long as they can be. He gets to increase asset forfeiture of people who have been accused of crimes, taking their property.
I mean, this is stuff he cares about. He's an attorney general who got yelled at, but he's still an attorney general and that's a heck of a good job.
BURNETT: I guess that's true. You know, Sessions -- I hear you but he seems to be on a run to do Trump's bidding now more than ever, right? He was the one. The president didn't want to announce that DACA was ending the popular program. No. He sends Jeff Sessions out. He takes the public shaming for doing it and when asked how he feels about it, here's what he says about his boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How is your relationship with the president these days?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is great. We had a good time with him yesterday and his positive leadership just comes through. We have a great time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jeffrey, does the man have no pride?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, look, he's a subordinate. I think anyone who works for the president in any administration recognizes that they work for the president and you can either be a loyal supporter or you can leave. I think one reason why so many people in the Trump administration are mad at Gary Cohn, the economic adviser, he's trying to have it both ways. He's trying to criticize Donald Trump for his behavior after Charlottesville and he's also saying I still want to work for him.
Frankly, you're in or out, and Jeff Sessions is all in. You see that stories in "The New York Times", so be it.
BURNETT: And look, the president gets what he wants out of him. Before you had Sessions stand up to him. Now he sits there and just does whatever he says, it seems, without question.
And the other thing, Chris, is this part of Trump's lashing out, right? Sessions, then chief of staff John Kelly, apparently lashing out at him because Kelly, you know, urged him to tone down his rhetoric after a rally and somebody that was there told "The Times" that Kelly has never been spoken to the way the president spoke to him in 35 years of serving his country. And that in the future, he would not tolerate such treatment.
OK, he's still there right now but will he be?
CILLIZZA: Yes, I think he will be because I think he knew taking that job what he was getting into. Again, I struggle to think that General Kelly did not know that Donald Trump had some, at times the volcanic temper. He was aware of that.
And, look, Erin, the voters know this, too. Thirty-five percent of voters in 2016 said they thought Donald Trump had the right temperament to be president. The other two-thirds or so didn't think he had the president, one in five of those people voted for him anyway.
CILLIZZA: This is the remarkable thing about Donald Trump. He is someone look, go back, Mar-a-Lago in March. He's angry at the chaos being portrayed in the White House. He jumps on Twitter early that morning and accuses President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election. There's no evidence of it.
He runs into Chris Ruddy, the head of "Newsmax" later that day, and Ruddy, his personal friend, said he's never seen him angrier. There are a lot of things that happened during his campaign all the way through this White House that are driven by his temper and by his -- frankly, he's just unwilling to take blame for things that he does himself. So, it's not new. This is a feature, not a --
BURNETT: Absolutely. But, Jeffrey, it does seem that he gets what he wants. Jeff Sessions gets to keep that job and he takes great pride in that job but the president has a guy now who will do whatever he wants without asking questions. That's certainly the way it feels. You go up and be the face of the DACA announcement, and then he's not standing up against Russia. TOOBIN: Well, that's right. Well, he's gone from that. That's what
Donald Trump is really angry about, is that, you know, Donald Trump can control what he can control. What he can't control is the Mueller investigation and you see over and over again his rage about that, the fact that Sessions recusal set in motion the process that created the Mueller investigation.
And the Mueller investigation, which is aimed at such vulnerable points in Trump's background. You know, how he handles his money, why he fired Jim Comey, why everyone in the administration lied about why they fired Jim Comey. That's a problem that Trump can control and you see his anger is outward at the people who made it -- who made that investigation happen.
But you don't have to be Sigmund Freud to think, you know, maybe he is actually angry at himself for getting himself into this whole mess.
[19:40:04] BURNETT: Projecting, if I remember how we summarize --
TOOBIN: Projection, yes.
BURNETT: Thank you all.
And next, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, obviously a really rich guy. So, do he and his wife need government planes for their honeymoon and other personal flights?
And cut off. A small town in Florida still reeling tonight. A bad situation is getting worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're not getting power for a while.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump denying that his long time supporters are angry, because he made another deal with Democrats. While the Democrats are sure about happy about it, here's the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer caught on an open mike today talking about President Trump.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: He likes us. He likes me anyway.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: It is the Republicans though that the president needs to worry about because this deal would allow undocumented immigrants who are brought to the United States as children to stay and it would not fund the border wall.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: My relationship with the Republicans is excellent. Many of them agree with what I'm doing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURENTT: Well, not all of them agree, including some really important ones and really vocal Trump base supporters. "Breitbart News", of course, run by the former strategist Steve Bannon, running multiple angry headlines like these, Amnesty Don, Trump getting rolled, DACA deal, it will be an electoral nightmare.
[19:45:04] And the Iowa Congressman Steve King tweeted that if this deal becomes reality, quote, Trump base is blown up, destroyed irreparable and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.
OUTFRONT tonight, Republican Congressman Steve King.
And, Congressman, thanks very much to you for being here. I know you're angry about the deal the president is working on it with the Democrats. How come?
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, at first, because we've worked this immigration policy for a long time and helped lay the planks in for the platform which is a Republican platform and President Trump's platform, the platform that he owned on January 20th when he swore into office and our expectation was that DACA would be ended then, and that at a minimum there might not be a notice but they would stop issuing new permits. And now, we find out that president has said, well, I'm going to end it in six months. But I want to throw the cat into the kennel, so to speak, and you all in Congress can fight over it for six months and if I don't like the results, then I might change it or extend it or end it.
BURNETT: Although, Congressman, when you talk about your frustration about immigration, part of this is the wall, right? And it seems like that could be completely changing. I mean, at the very least, the very least, Congressman, his time frame for a wall seems to have changed. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.
I would say in months, yes. I would say. I'm certainly planning to start immediately.
The wall will come later. We're right now renovating large sections of walls.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNET: So, you heard it, right? Big, beautiful wall. And then today, it's going to come later and now it's about a renovation. Is the wall ever going to happen? KING: We were going to have the Rolls Royce of a big, beautiful wall.
The first section of that is inspiring to me to hear that, Erin. The second part kind of says that the Rolls Royce is going to be an overhauled jalopy.
No, we've got to build 2,000 miles of wall, and there was a time when I made concession to that and I said, well, let's just build them until they stop going around the end. But now, I'm seeing forces here in Congress that say, well, a wall, it doesn't mean concrete wall. It could mean a fence, could mean vibration sensors, it could be infrared cameras, it could be drones or it could be a balloon, but it doesn't have to be a concrete wall.
The American people know what a wall is. The president articulated it beautifully. And the cheapest thing we can do is build that wall and build the support mechanisms and the technology on it and around it and man it and maintain it.
BURNETT: He has frustrated you, he has frustrated others, other conservatives, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter who came out today and minced no words, Congressman. She tweeted today -- and by the way, she was once a big Trump supporter, as were you.
She said, at this point, who doesn't want Trump impeached? She was responding to the president's tweet about DACA in which he said they've been in our country for many years through no fault of their own, brought in by their parents at a big age, plus big border security. He was tweeting about that today, obviously, these two issues are related, the wall and DACA now. She said, who doesn't want Trump impeached? Do you agree?
KING: Yes. Well, I don't want the president impeached but Ann has a unique way of making her point with the sharpness of a razor. And I really do, I appreciate the way she makes her point but it's -- no, there's not any justification for that. Democrats came out with that shortly after the president was elected but they haven't had any substance either.
The president can change his mind. It's not unconstitutional for a president to change his mind and it's up to us to weigh in on this and he'd have to convince all of Congress. And what I've said is, I have to stand on the principle that I've always stood on.
BURNETT: But are you saying that he's changed his mind on the wall and that you, Steve King, would be open to that? Sort of sounds like that's what you're saying.
KING: I actually don't think the president has changed his mind on the wall, but he has telegraphed a diminishment of the resolve that we saw in him as a candidate, and that you ran on the tape. And I want to see that resolve restored, I want to go on record I believe we get a wall built, but if there's amnesty that's delivered into this package, then I don't know that any candidate could run for president again and make a promise and expect the people to accept that promise at face value.
BURNETT: Right. So he'd lose? He'd lose re-election over the wall? That's what you're saying?
KING: I think to be re-elected in 2020, it would be very difficult for the president if amnesty goes with DACA and especially -- if amnesty goes with DACA, and if a wall is not at least under robust construction by then. Plus, it puts the majorities in the House and Senate at risk in the re-elect in 2018 in the midterms, Erin.
[19:50:02] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time tonight.
KING: Thank you. Glad to do it.
BURNETT: And new tonight, president standing by his treasury secretary, defending Steve Mnuchin after it emerged that Mnuchin asked to use a government jet for his European honeymoon.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I doubt he would do it, I've known him a very long time. He's a very straight shooter. He's a very honorable man.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the inspector general of the Treasury Department is now looking into all of Mnuchin's travel, since becoming treasury secretary, which means every single use of government plane and every request for a government aircraft. Sometimes you request and you don't get it.
Brianna Keilar is OUTFRONT.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The independent Treasury Department inspector general's inquiry into Secretary Steve Mnuchin's travel follows revelations that the mega millionaire cabinet official asked to use a government jet for his honeymoon. He ultimately withdrew the request before the trip to Europe with his wife Louise Linton.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The government has never paid for any of my personal travel.
KEILAR: Mnuchin pushed back today, insisting his staff requested the plane to make sure he would have secure communication necessary to do his job on his honeymoon.
MNUCHIN: To put in a request to consider the use of an aircraft, not so much for just flying but effectively it was a portable office so that I could be available. And ultimately, we withdrew the request. We found a way of dealing with other secure communication and withdrew it. So, this had nothing to do with convenience. This was purely about national security.
KEILAR: Democrats aren't buying the explanation. SEN. RON WYDEN (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE: You just have to wonder where
their ethical compass is. The secretary had problems with his financial disclosures to the committee with his nomination, then we have problems with the eclipse and now this.
KEILAR: It's not first time the secretary's taxpayer-funded travel has raised eyebrows. The inspector general is already reviewing Mnuchin's August trip to Kentucky with his wife. Linton insulted a working mother of three on Instagram after the woman criticized her for tagging the high end designers whose clothing she was wearing on the trip. Social media backlash against Linton was swift and she later deleted the photo from Instagram and apologized. The Treasury Department insisting Linton would reimburse the government for her travel.
An outside watchdog group is suing the government for records about the approval and cost of the trip to determine if its real purpose for a better view of solar eclipse and not for official business at Fort Knox.
But it's not just travel that is dogging Mnuchin. The former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood producer whose net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Forbes, incensed congressional Republicans last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hugely frustrated.
KEILAR: After asking them to increase the debt ceiling, imploring them to, quote, do this for me, according to two members of Congress in the meeting.
KEILAR: And these episodes of being out of touch, whether it's with the American taxpayer or members of Congress, Erin, really couldn't come at worse time. Mnuchin is a key player in the administration's push for tax reform. We're expecting details on that to be unveiled the week after next, and it's widely expected to include a tax cut for wealthy Americans.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Brianna.
And next, the breaking news, electricity is still out in Florida for millions. Four days since Irma struck. We're going to go to town on the edge.
[19:56:52] BURNETT: Breaking news, frustration growing four days after Hurricane Irma, millions of Floridians now suffering through what has been one of the biggest blackouts in American history. No power, no air conditioning, many of them suffering from shortages of food and water.
Today, President Trump meeting with emergency responders in Florida thanking them. But the work of course is far from done, especially in some of the hardest hit communities.
Ryan Young is OUTFRONT live in one of them in Florida.
And, Ryan, just how bad is it where you are?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is another tough day here. Look, almost 90 percent of the people here without power at one point. The temperatures around 90 degrees, feels like an index, a heat index temperature of over 100.
People are desperate for power because they want A/C and they want their gas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Follow that car.
ADAM KEENE, HIGHLANDS COUNTY RESIDENT: It's just hot. I mean, it's miserable for everybody.
YOUNG (voice-over): For the fourth straight day, Highlands County residents are facing the sweltering Florida heat without power.
BARBARA CAMPBELL, HIGHLANDS COUNTY RESIDENT: One hundred in the house.
YOUNG (on camera): OK.
CAMPBELL: It's hot. Very hot.
YOUNG: What's it been like for the last few days?
JENNIFER CRUZ, HIGHLANDS COUNTY RESIDENT: It's been hell, especially my kids.
YOUNG: Why? Describe it to us?
CRUZ: One of my daughters has heat rash all over.
YOUNG (voice-over): Residents swarm the handful of gas stations with power. Sheriff's deputies on hand to keep tensions at bay.
SHEENA ZILL, HIGHLANDS COUNTY RESIDENT: I also own a business, can't open it up, no power. We're missing all our inventory.
YOUNG: Highlands was blindsided Sunday evening when Irma made a shift inland, delivering a painful blow to the county and critically damaging the power grid, 76 percent of the area's nearly 100,000 residents are still without power tonight.
DON ELWELL, HIGHLANDS COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: When the storm passed, we're looking at 99 percent without power. I mean, which is obviously a staggering number.
YOUNG: Tonight, a small number of utility crews from states as far away as Texas working around the clock to restore power to this central Florida county.
Governor Scott giving a sobering assessment of the damage.
ELWELL: He said, you guys are the second hardest hit county in the entire state, out of 67.
YOUNG: Power has been restored to critical facilities like the area's two hospitals. However, the majority of the county has been warned their electricity won't return until Sunday, leaving many concerned about the area's large senior population.
ELWELL: Ice is our biggest need in the county along with gasoline. So, because we've been several days in 90s plus heat. These folks don't have any air conditioning, or at least a good majority of them don't.
YOUNG: And while residents remain hopeful, that goal will be met this weekend, many still have their doubts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're not getting power for a while.
YOUNG: Two big things right now, one, just starting to rain. So, you know that will cool things off. So, people are happy to see that. We've also learned just in last half hour that two substations just came back online. That's going to provide power to 4,000 to 5,000 people.
The work here won't stop. The workers are still moving behind us. They plan to work through tonight -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much. And thanks to all of you for joining us.
Anderson starts right now.