Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Terror Investigation in London; South Answers North's Missile Test; North Korea sends Missile over Japan; U.N. Meets Today on North Korea; Trump Holds Call with Rabbis; Trump works on Dreamers Deal. Aired 10-10:30p ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Tweet this morning on London.

Let's listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, any reaction to London, the terror attack?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. It's a terrible thing. (INAUDIBLE) going and going. And we have to be very smart. We have to be very, very tough. Which perhaps we're not nearly tough enough. But that is just an absolutely terrible thing. In fact, I'm going to call the prime minister right now.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Yes, they (ph) have. On numerous things happening, including North Korea. (INAUDIBLE). Thank you (INAUDIBLE). We have to be tougher. But we have to be smarter. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You hear the president say we have to be tougher. We have to be smarter. He is calling British Prime Minister Theresa May right now. Those pictures of the boy mowing the lawn, that has to do with a young kid from Virginia, a kid named Frank, who wanted to mow the White House lawn. You can see it happen right there. But the president making news, talking about very serious issues, namely this bombing in London. He did ruffle some feathers with some statements earlier this morning.

So let's go to the ground, Nima Elbagir for us in London.

Nima, exactly explain what happened and the state of the investigation?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The investigation is still ongoing. The British prime minister has said that they're going to keep the threat level at critical, that's the second highest, but not take it to severe, which would have meant that they believe that an attack was imminent. They believe an attack currently is still, though, highly likely. The investigation is centered around this manhunt and their concerns after the discovery of a timer on the device. It was a very crude-looking device. But the timer really is what's

ringing alarm bells, that this was intended to cause much, much more havoc. That's the working assumption of the British security sources that we've been speaking to, John, that this could have been much worse.

And those who survived this attack tell us that it was really practically miraculous that this device went off just as the train was arriving at the station in Parsons Green and the doors were opening. So people were able to flee. So much of those 23 injured are actually just from flash burns, as opposed to what would have been the horror of a pileup within a concealed off train carriage.

Police here, though, not particularly pleased with President Trump's tweets this morning and his speculation, as they're calling it, that this was undertaken by someone who was known to the police force. We asked the London Mayor Sadiq Khan what he thought of the president's tweets. He denied having knowledge of them, John. But you could tell that he was particularly unimpressed that at this time, when all of his energies were going towards keeping London safe --

BERMAN: Right.

ELBAGIR: When it came to keeping London safe that he was being distracted.

Let's take a listen to what Theresa May had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. As I've just said, the police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: It's a difficult balance at the best of times, as you well know, John and Poppy, to try and keep both the public safe but keep hold of information that could be useful for those you're seeking. And the people that we're talking to here in the British government, they don't feel that the president has been particularly helpful with them kind of maintaining that balancing act.

Back to you.

BERMAN: Yes, not helpful, particularly low bar when dealing with a terror investigation.

Nima Elbagir, thank you so much.

We're going to come back to this story in just a moment, but a lot going on.

The same United Nations Security Council that slammed North Korea with new sanctions on Monday is holding urgent consultations this afternoon on North Korea. Why? A new missile launch overnight.

HARLOW: This one, as you see the trajectory of it right there, flew over Japan, even higher and further than the missile that North Korea tested two and a half weeks ago. In between those tests, Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear device by far.

Our Ivan Watson is in Seoul, South Korea, which responded to the latest provocation with a show of its own force.

Ivan, what can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this latest North Korean missile launch triggered something we haven't really seen before, which was a tit for tat missile launch coming from its neighbor to the south, South Korea, which announced that about six minutes after the North Korean missile went up into the air, that the South Koreans fired two of their own ballistic missiles that they identify as Hyunmoo-2. Now, one of these malfunctioned and didn't get very far.

But, again, this is a new measure that the South Koreans were clearly prepared for and they've had a lot of practice because the North Koreans have fired no less than 21 missiles since last February, all of them banned, according to multiple United Nations Security Council resolution. So they were clearly preparing for this measure.

[10:05:05] Now, the missile itself that the North Koreans fired, it flew to an altitude of about 480 miles, some 2,300 miles in distance over Japan, triggering air raid sirens there and warnings for people to take cover. That would put it within range of the U.S. Island of Guam. Though it wasn't fired in the direction of Guam. Something that's probably very worrisome to American citizens on that island right now.

Poppy and John.

BERMAN: All right, Ivan Watson for us in South Korea.

Ivan, thanks so much.

We are expecting to hear any time now from the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who says existing U.N. sanctions are a floor not a ceiling. He is speaking, in fact, right now. These are live pictures. We're watching this very closely. We will let you know if he makes news.

In the meantime, CNN's Barbara Starr joins us to get a sense of what the administration is saying.

Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi.

Well, you know, we haven't really heard substantively from the White House yet about all of this. The secretary of state, the official out the most on this subject, and he issued a statement last night going into some detail. While he's speaking, let's go back and just review what he said last night and I want to quote Secretary Tillerson. He said, these continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime. China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.

Putting the onus right again on China and Russia to try and pressure them to pressure North Korea. But, look, the bottom line remains unchanged. It does not appear at this point that there is any real deterrence action to Kim that is going to make him back off this program. He is well aware that the United States is leery of military action out of concern North Korea, if the U.S. took action, would immediately launch a counter attack against the South. He knows that. But the U.S. really trying to make Kim understand he could not survive if he were to attack the U.S.

John. Poppy.

HARLOW: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us as Secretary Tillerson is speaking live.

Barbara, thank you.

Let's discuss all of this. David Rohde is here, CNN global affairs analyst. And retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton joins us, also a CNN military analyst.

David, what do you make of the choice of words, very deliberate choice, obviously, from Secretary Tillerson, a floor not a ceiling? The thing is, perhaps the ceiling that the U.S. wanted to reach at the U.N. this week was shot down by Russia and China and they have veto power and they can do that on these sanctions.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's the problem, Russia and China are not cooperating. The great sort of, you know, bromance, if you will, between President Xi and President Trump has not evolved and North Korea knows that. I also fault North Korea here. These are -- this is an outrageous test, this ballistic missile, yet again. The nuclear test, the hydrogen bomb, was unprecedented. And it's an incredibly dangerous situation because North Korea doesn't seem to understand how dangerous these provocations are.

BERMAN: You know, the secretary could talk about floors and ceilings, colonel, but Kim Jong-un seems to be saying, you can throw the whole house at us and it doesn't really matter. We're just going to keep on doing what we're doing here in this latest missile -- you know, the trajectory went 2,000 miles, certainly enough to reach Guam. It seems intentionally designed to poke the finger in the eye of the rest of the world.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely, John. And I think that, you know, this is one of those situations where you look at what the North Koreans are doing and what they're going to do next, and it's very clear it's in line with what David is saying. We are looking at a country that really doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks. They are going to do this because they get the most leverage out of this. They also are basically positioning themselves to negotiate with us in a way that in their eyes will make them an equal of the United States. And that is what they've wanted for many, many, many years.

HARLOW: I do want you, since we have you both here, to weigh in on the London terror attack, if you would.

And, David Rohde, to you. The president tweeted out, you know, really what is nothing more than as far as we've been -- can tell pure speculation this morning, right? Before anyone has identified who these attackers or attacker was in London on the train, he called them loser terrorists, saying that they were in the sights of the Scotland Yard and must be proactive. Theresa May, the prime minister, saying it's never helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. The president just said it there on the lawn that he is going to call Theresa May.

There's a history here, too, between this president and London when it comes to terror attacks.

ROHDE: Look, I want to be fair, President Trump has talked about North Korea and it's a huge problem. It's the biggest security issue out there for the United States. He has no strategy on terrorism. Calling people names, saying they're a bunch of losers, saying we need to be tough and smart is not a strategy. And he's not connecting with Theresa May and world leaders on this. So it's -- he's really failing, I think, on the terrorism front.

[10:10:13] BERMAN: And, colonel, what the British prime minister seems to be saying right now is, you don't have our back the way that we want you to have our back in our time of need right here. How might that complicate the investigations and these things that are necessary with this relationship?

LEIGHTON: Oh, it could have a huge effect. I've worked with various British agencies in the past and I know some people who are working cases like this. And it is a very difficult thing to do anyways. And the last thing you need is to have somebody from a -- a sensible ally give you a poke in the ribs like this. What they really want is support. And they want to make sure that the United States can provide them with intelligence, with data, with the kinds of things that you need in order to really put everything together, put the jigsaw puzzle together in a way that will apprehend the people that did this, or the person who did this.

HARLOW: David Rohde, Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you both very much for weighing in on two -- the two top stories certainly this morning, North Korea and the London terror attack. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right, politics, blaming both sides. The president not just standing by his original Charlottesville remarks, but stating them out loud once again.

Plus, the Democrats. How much pull do they have? Just months after some Democrats called to unseat Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader seems to be gaining influence with the president.

HARLOW: And after Irma, what has become a ghost island. All 1,800 residents on the island of Barbuda evacuated. Not a single person inhabiting the island right now we're told. But Hollywood icon and legend Robert de Niro has plans to change that. He sits down with us exclusively.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: As you watched what the devastation, you know, in real time over the weekend, did you ever question, should we build this anymore?

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: No, because, I mean, as devastating as it is, and as terrible as it is, it will come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:16:20] BERMAN: All right, this just in from St. Louis. A judge there has found a former police officer not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of a black motorist. Officer Jason Stockley shot Anthony Lamar Smith after a police chase. Stockley pleaded not guilty saying it was an act of self-defenses because he thought Smith was reaching for a gun in his car. Prosecutors accused him of planting a revolver to justify the shooting. In his ruling, the judge says the state, quote, failed in its burden of proof. Just a few weeks ago a vigil was held for Smith in anticipation of the verdict. Some there predicted there would be mass protests if the officer was not convicted. Smith's fiance has urged calm.

HARLOW: All right, at the top of the hour, President Trump holds a conference call with Jewish leaders. This is, of course, ahead of the holy days. It's an annual presidential call. But this year some of the rabbis are boycotting it. A decision they made last month after the president's response on Charlottesville. Hours ago, the president defended his controversial remarks and tripled or quadrupled down on them again.

CNN's Sara Murray is at the White House with more.

So what did the president say?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy.

Look, you would think that the president would be focused on tax reform, he'd be focused on immigration, he'd be focused on any number of these big agenda items. But somehow instead President Trump has reinvigorated this debate around his equating violence on both sides in Charlottesville. He once again reiterated those comments. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. A lot of people were saying -- in fact, a lot of people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now, the president clearly not backing down from his previous assessment of violence on both sides. And that was something that drew widespread condemnation. In fact, an ESPN host labeled President Trump a white supremacist. Today, Trump was fuming on Twitter and one of his targets was ESPN. He tweeted, ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics and bad programming. People are jumping it in record numbers. Apologize for untruth.

Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much.

I want to talk about this and actually put it in little bit of a bigger perspective here. Joining us Jason Miller, CNN political commentator, former senior communications officer for the Trump campaign, and Hilary Rosen, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist.

Jason, to you here.

We have that comment about Charlottesville from the president yesterday. We have some new statements from the president this morning on immigration, saying chain immigration cannot be allowed to be part of any deal, criticizing ESPN, criticizing the media, talking about political correctness in response to the London attack. It seems to me what he's doing here, and correct me if I'm wrong, is he's trying to perhaps tend to his base, send messages out to his core supporters at a time when he is doing something they do not like, which is reaching across the aisle to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on the issue of dreamers.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would disagree with you on that, John. I would say that the president is addressing these issues individually across the board. I mean let's go and take, for example, the issue of border security and as it ties in, especially as we see this terrorism attack in London this morning. It's very important that we go and get extreme vetting in place. It's very important we go and institute this temporary travel restriction so we can make sure we get this improved system in place, especially with these countries that have been designated.

But I think the president, quite frankly, is just going out there and saying what's on his mind and saying that we have to go and take some serious steps to do something about our national security. And, you know what, we can't let political correctness get in the way.

[10:20:04] HARLOW: Hilary, you're shaking your head. Why?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because it feels to me that you -- this is why people aren't trusting Donald Trump, because he says something that he feels like is going to get good news, good coverage, good et cetera. Whether that was, on Charlottesville, this is what they're telling me I have to say. I'm going to make a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on the debt. Or I'm going to show compromise on DACA. But then he gets pushback and so he tries to undo it. So then he tries to assure his base, no, no, no, I really still do believe this, even though I said I believe this.

And this is -- just happens over and over and over again. So you can say that this is about kind of consistent behavior, but I think this makes it extraordinarily difficult for people to trust the president and to work with the president on real solutions.

BERMAN: It seems to me, though, Hillary, in this case he's saying two things are separate, because what he's not writing about this morning, he's written about like six different subjects.

HARLOW: No DACA.

BERMAN: One of them is not DACA. He's still leaving that out there. This notion that he has reached or is willing to reach some kind of deal that will upset his base is still very much out there. So he throws all this other, you know, these other chips out to his base to keep them happy.

ROSEN: Well, I think that's right. But if you are in the house and it's your job now to start an immigration bill, what do you write? Because he's now said what he wants, but then he tells his base before, no, no, no, I'm going to work with you and be focused on being aggressive on immigration.

So I think the problem is, is that the inconsistent messages to The Hill mean that they have no idea what the president would actually sign. It makes it very difficult to write legislation.

MILLER: But I think -- but I think a lot of folks are looking at what the president's doing as far as reaching out across the aisle and trying to find some kind of bipartisan agreement, and saying good job. I mean, heck, you even saw Rush Limbaugh praise the president for some of his outreach for doing this.

Now, I think as we talk about DACA in particularly --

ROSEN: Yes, but if he didn't keep trying to undo what he said, then that would good.

MILLER: But I think -- I think he's a dealmaker. He's trying to put something together. I think he's also trying to put pressure on Republicans on Capitol Hill, knowing that if he doesn't put pressure on them now, they're going to wait this six months and then put something terrible together at the end to try to shove in front of him, probably that doesn't have the border security measures he really wants in there.

HARLOW: Jason, strategists like you have done quite well running campaigns against Nancy Pelosi. Even when they're not campaigns against Nancy Pelosi, she ends up in the ads, right?

ROSEN: You're saying that out loud.

HARLOW: I did. I did.

MILLER: I love it. It's -- so many -- so many fond memories.

HARLOW: Does it make it harder for you, and folks like you, conservative strategists, now that the president is BFF with Nancy Pelosi?

MILLER: Well, I wouldn't quite go into say that they're that tight of buddies. I love the fact that former Speaker Pelosi, as we should point out, is elevating back in the news and maybe we'll see --

HARLOW: NO, but, in all seriousness, does it make it harder?

MILLER: No, I don't think so. I think it does show, though, that the president's willing to reach out and work with people. And most folks, once you kind of get outside of the beltway fighting and the back and forth would actually like to see our president work with people from the other party.

But, look, as it comes around to next year, here's the problem for Pelosi and Schumer, their party has no ideas. They have absolutely nothing. Their polling has shown --

BERMAN: It's their ideas that are being passed right now.

MILLER: And Hillary --

ROSEN: (INAUDIBLE) the president's actually supporting their ideas.

MILLER: But their --

ROSEN: And so I think big picture here is going to be the test because Congress is going to recess soon. We'll see what happens with DACA, whether they get a deal or whether they kick this can down the road, which I suspect they may do because the Republicans are unhappy with the president.

The big picture is, do these House Republicans start to run away from the president next year when the campaign starts in January, or do they feel like they are running on the Trump agenda?

MILLER: And to that point --

ROSEN: And that is going to be a very difficult road then for the White House to navigate.

HARLOW: We've got to --

BERMAN: Quick last point, Jason.

MILLER: Mark Meadows, congressman from North Carolina, working on the White House on this. I would watch him very closely. I think he's going to be a leader in this space.

BERMAN: We will watch.

Jason Miller, Hilary Rosen, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys. Have a good weekend.

North Korea again testing the United States and the global community with another missile launch. This morning, strong reaction pouring around from around the globe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:28:37] BERMAN: All right, launch -- North Korea, I should say, with a new missile test overnight. And this morning we are getting reaction from around the world.

HARLOW: We are. Later this afternoon, the United Nations Security Council will hold another urgent meeting on this launch. Our Will Ripley is in Tokyo following these developments.

And once again, Will, you're just returning from North Korea. This is the second such launch over Japan in two and a half weeks.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I just flew out yesterday from the airport where they launched this missile from. In fact, there was a commercial flight just a few hours after the missile launch, reportedly. So North Korea clearly confident that they can fire this thing over their capital and it's not going to break apart and fall down.

Of course, that's little reassurance for the people in Hokkaido in northern Japan who had a missile fly over their homes, heard air raid sirens one against. This is the first time since World War II. Japanese schoolchildren and parents are hearing air raid sirens and getting messages telling them that they need to take cover and seek shelter in sturdy buildings. Really frightening for people here in Japan, the only country ever hit, not once but twice by nuclear bombs back in 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

North Korea threatening to sink the Japanese islands with a nuclear bomb. Also threatening the United States, saying economic pressure will not stop them from developing these weapons of mass destruction.

And it's noteworthy this -- this missile traveled 2,300 miles and had it been pointed south, that would have put it smack down right by Guam, the U.S. territory that North Korea has threatened repeatedly.

[10:30:00] John and Poppy.

BERMAN: So, Will Ripley, you have been knee deep in this subject for years, frankly. In the last few weeks you've been putting together what I hear is a remarkable special that airs tonight. Tell us about it.

RIPLEY: Well, you know, often we're in North Korea reporting about things like