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CNN Poll: Less Confidence and Trust in President Trump; Trump Urges China to Act Fast on North Korea; Trump Softens Stance on China. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, November 9, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.

One year after this historical election, a new CNN poll offers a sobering score card of the Trump presidency. A majority of Americans now say they are less confident in the president than when he took office. Only four in 10 Americans say the president has kept his promises and is bringing the kind of change the country needs.

Republicans are wrestling with a tough decision: whether to brace or rebuke the president's rhetoric and handling of the issues. House Speaker Paul Ryan concedes they are now under more pressure to get tax reform passed. But there is a problem for Republicans. Their plan appears to break two key promises.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump making a major switch in his China trade position. He went from blaming them for currency manipulation and raping the United States to, now, not blaming them at all, saying his predecessors are to blame for what he calls a, quote, "very unfair and one-sided economic relationship."

And turning up the pressure. We now have information in at CNN that President Trump's fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son, who like his father, he is under scrutiny by Special Counsel Bob Mueller. What might that mean?

You'll find it all covered here this morning. Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill. Good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. These are damning new numbers for Republicans, as well as the president, one year into the Trump presidency. Now more Americans much less confident than in his own performance. We have seen those numbers erode in his own party, as well.

Here on Capitol Hill, the blame game is in full effect. Many members of Congress quietly, and some not so quietly, worried that aligning themselves with this president after those election losses on Tuesday means they will lose their majorities next year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): The Republican Party in damage control after a sweep of Democratic victories across the country. Some downplaying the results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a typical cycle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of these elections are decided by local -- local circumstances.

BANNON: Virginia, because of northern Virginia, is really not a purple state any more. It's a blue state.

MALVEAUX: Others pointing the finger directly at President Trump.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I do think that we do better with a more inclusive message.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: I certainly think the overwhelming thing that was going on was the energy on the Democrat side. And that's definitely a referendum on the president.

MALVEAUX: A new CNN poll shows that 64 percent of Americans say their confidence in the president has decreased since he took office. One in four Republicans feel less confident about their party's leader.

President Trump's divisive rhetoric taking a big toll on his ability to unite the country. Only 30 percent of Americans say they think the president can unite, rather than divide, the nation. And a 16-point drop among voters in his own party. The percentage of Republicans who think the president can bring needed change? Down 10 points since last November.

House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledging that Tuesday's losses show that Congress needs to deliver on tax reform.

RYAN: We have a promise to keep. If anything, this just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through.

MALVEAUX: A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican tax plan would add $1.7 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, higher than initially projected.

Multiple sources tell CNN that President Trump personally lobbied Senate Democrats on a phone call Tuesday, attempting to garner support by insisting he'd be a big loser if the GOP plan is signed into law, despite a report from the Tax Policy Center that shows that the largest cuts would accrue to higher-income households.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Donald Trump says this doesn't help the wealthy. Obviously, it does. So all the claims they have made for this bill are belied by the bill itself.

MALVEAUX: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney insisting the plan will help the middle class. MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: At the end of the day, if

we really believe this is a middle-class tax increase, he's not going to sign it.

MALVEAUX: But most Americans disapprove of how the president is handling taxes. Exit polls in Virginia show that taxes were not the issue that mattered most to voters. Thirty-nine percent of Virginia voters said that health care was their No. 1 issue when voting for governor.

The Republican Party's failure to repeal and replace Obamacare clearly having an impact in the voting booth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: So while the debate continues here on Capitol Hill whether or not to align themselves with the president, we have heard from outspoken Republican Senator John McCain, calling for the party to get its act together. Senator Lindsey Graham saying the antidote to the big losses on Tuesday is for the party to get something done.

[06:05:10] What does that look like? Today is day four where the House is marking up that tax reform bill. And we'll see just how far they can push it and where it goes -- Alisyn and Chris.

CAMEROTA: Susanne, thank you for breaking all of hat down for us.

Let's discuss everything with CNN analysts John Avlon and David Drucker. OK, so let's pull up some new CNN polls, because the numbers are really interesting. In terms of taking a snapshot of where we are a year later and the effect that the president has had.

So President Trump, has he kept his campaign promises? In April, 48 percent of respondents thought yes. Now it's down to 40 percent. Let's tick through a couple more of these and see what is next.

Is this the change? Has President Trump brought the change that was needed and promised? Fifty-six percent say no; 40 percent say yes.

In terms of uniting the country. This is an interesting one. Only 30 percent say that he is capable, really, of uniting the country. That's down 13 points from November.

So, John, where does that leave Republicans trying to decide whether to embrace the passion of the president's base or not to hitch their wagon to the president?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No place good. I mean, what the key indicator in the midterm election, we all know the president's party tends to get shellacked in midterm elections. That's been the pattern. Ninety-four, Bill Clinton; Barack Obama, Tea Party 2010.

But if the president's approval rating is under 50 percent, right, which is a relatively high standard consider about where President Trump has been. Their loss has almost doubled to an average of 37 seats, the historical pattern. So the fact that Trump is in the high 30s is a really bad stat for

Republicans. And the question they need to reconcile, is are they focused on the primary? Are they focused on playing the debates? Or are they focused on trying to unite the nation, get a majority together, maintain a majority? If they are, Donald Trump is going to be toxic in a lot of these key districts. That's just the fact.

Now, the tough work, David Drucker, is on the policy side. What -- when you analyze the poll numbers from a politics perspective, you're looking for a quick fix. In terms of promises kept and stuff, you can have a quick fix there by getting something done. In terms of being a uniter, you can get a quick fix there if you start speaking differently. That's not expected of this president. So that has to be put to the side.

On the quick fix with policy, that's why you're seeing Paul Ryan ignoring the obvious and focusing only on tax policy. We just have pressure to deliver. Here's the question. Why are they pushing this tax policy so hard as middleclass when any analysis of it shows the middle class doesn't benefit the most? What's the play?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, Republicans in Congress have taken a hit in part because they haven't gotten any big things done. So they're taking a hit from their opponents and people that are skeptical of their policies. But they're also in trouble with people that tend to support Republican policies, who want to see things like health care reform and tax reform.

And I think for Republicans, and I've been thinking about this, let's stipulate that you have a segment of the middle class and Democrats really believe there is a segment of the middle class in suburbs, and we saw this on Tuesday, that have traditionally voted Republican that are going to take a hit with this bill.

Let's stipulate for a minute that the Republicans might make out OK with this bill and might not. It reminds me of that scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, where they're being chased. They run up against a cliff, and they can't decide whether to stay and fight or jump off the cliff. And they decide their best option is to jump and hope it all works out OK.

I don't think the Republicans going back to the drawing board and delaying this indefinitely is going to do them any good. Because with control of all levels of government, if they cannot govern and they can not produce legislation, particularly after the failure of health care, they are going to be in trouble. And people are going to wonder, particularly their own voters, why the heck they should show up next November if these guys can't get anything done.

AVLON: This is just about doing something. To be clear, this is about Republicans needing to show that they can pass a signature bill on the issue that theoretically unites them. Because they haven't yet succeeded in, you know, umpteenth attempts.

CUOMO: But why hamstring themselves. Why not just pass tax cuts? Now, Alisyn and I were playing around with the idea. You look at the people polls now. You've got 80 plus percent of people on a tax cut. No surprise.

How you define the tax cut becomes very important. They have hamstrung themselves by saying this is a middle-class tax cut. All the run-throughs say does the middle class get a tax cut? Yes. And then it starts to vary. But in none of them does it get what I will get. And I don't understand why they're doing that to themselves if they want a quick score. They're muddying the water for no reason.

AVLON: It's about the donor class. If you believe in trickle-down economics. You know, this -- you know, cut taxes. Cut taxes on the wealthy. It will flow into the trough, into the middle class. But you're right. And that has been Donald Trump's consistent focus, a middle-class tax cut, it sells well politically. It's also probably what's needed to help heal inequality.

CUOMO: It exposes them to getting undercut when it doesn't do what he says it's going to do.

[06:10:05] AVLON: I'm going to let you in on a little secret. They're assuming most people don't pay attention.

DRUCKER: They may end up passing a strict -- they may end up passing just a strict tax cut bill. This thing has to get through the House. It has to get through the Senate. And that's the default position.

And interestingly enough, guys, talk to Republican donors in New York and around the country that make a lot of money, they're not necessarily thrilled with the tax plan. And so I think Republicans are trying to balance their various wins of support and try and make sure politically that this turns out OK. And I've talked to Republicans, and I've asked them why they've focused so much on the middle class from a rhetorical standpoint, something they did not used to do. And they told me it's just not worth the fight anymore, because they're going to get demagogued, and they're going to lose the argument. They do know that.

CAMEROTA: But David, just quickly, why aren't rich people happy with this? It gets rid of the AMT. Didn't we figure out that Donald Trump paid $31 million in the few details, the scant details we have about this. Tax returns, he had paid $31 million in the AMT. That would go away.

AVLON: Right. It gets rid of the AMT, but it changes some of the other rules out there. And they're not, particularly if you're -- if you wanted to take advantage of the passthrough rate at 25 percent, if you're in a white-collar professional service, and you're not going to get it.

CUOMO: The ability of state and local taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

DRUCKER: ... deduction. There are also things with real estate and other deductions in there, you're not going to get anymore. I'm just telling you, these are the people that I talked to. So Republicans are hearing it now on both ends and they're not satisfying anybody. And the key is, can they at least satisfy middle-class voters in the suburbs where the House majority is going to be on the line next year. And judging by what we saw on Tuesday, there's no guarantee they can do that.

CAMEROTA: I had other poll numbers, but I'm going to save them for a later hour. That's a tease.

CUOMO: We've got three hours. Don't waste it all right out of the gate.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, John Avlon, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. In China, President Trump is saying that he doesn't blame them anymore for taking advantage of U.S. trade practices. He accused them of raping the United States. Instead now, he's blaming his predecessor.

We have complete coverage of the president's trip and massive pivot in Asia.

Let's start with CNN's Jeff Zeleny live in Beijing. The crowd started to applaud when he said, "I don't blame China" and with good reason.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did indeed, Chris. Good morning.

It was another day of pomp and pageantry here in Beijing. But it's an open question whether any of this will lead to new policy from President Xi Jinping.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump receiving a regal welcome in China with new signs the flattery from President Xi Jinping may be working. Mr. Trump dramatically softening his stern message to China on trade.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens. I give China great credit.

ZELENY: Those words a far cry from his rhetoric on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: China is taking our jobs, our money, our base, our manufacturing.

We can't continue to allow China to rape our country.

ZELENY: On the edge of Tiananmen Square inside the Great Hall of the People today, Mr. Trump didn't fault China for its business practices. Instead, pointing a finger at his predecessors.

TRUMP: I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of- control trade deficit to take place and to grow. ZELENY: The two leaders met for hours during the president's two-day

visit to Beijing. Mr. Trump called for a vibrant yet fair trading relationship and announced pledges of $250 billion in American business agreements here.

Yet North Korea's nuclear ambitions dominated the talks on the most consequential stop of the president's 13-day Asia tour.

TRUMP: Together, we have in our power to finally liberate this region and the world from this very serious nuclear menace.

ZELENY: President Xi said China was committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. But stopped short of saying what else he might do to squeeze Kim Jong-un economically.

Mr. Trump became the first president since George H.W. Bush not to insist that a Chinese president take questions from the press at a joint news conference.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that President Trump did discuss human rights with his Chinese counterpart.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The president also committed to promote exchanges and understanding between our peoples and had a frank change of views on human rights issues.

ZELENY: President Trump's first state visit to China was intentionally filled with personal touches. To a dinner with his host, he brought along this video of his 6-year-old granddaughter, Arabella, speaking Mandarin. President Xi praised her skills with an "A-plus."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[06:15:04] ZELENY: President Trump wrapping up another dinner tonight with President Xi Jinping, and he played that video once again, clearly trying to build a rapport by influencing and using his granddaughter.

But now the White House is turning its attention toward where the president goes next. Alisyn, he's going to fly to Vietnam where there is a likely meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the schedule. It is still not confirmed. But a few hours ago, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said they will have a meeting, the presidents will, if they can agree to matters of substance.

Syria, of course, on the list, the Middle East on the list. I asked Secretary Tillerson if Russian meddling is also on that list. He says that stays on the list of possible topics, if President Trump and President Putin meet on Thursday in Vietnam.

CAMEROTA: OK. That will be very interesting to keep an eye on. Jeff Zeleny, thank you for that preview and reporting.

Now to North Korea. The leader firing back at President Trump's tough rhetoric, urging the U.S. to, quote, "oust the lunatic old man from power." Will Ripley is live in Pyongyang. This is his 17th trip to North Korea, and CNN is the only American network there. What is the latest, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to wonder where the North Korean propaganda writers get their material, Alisyn. I'm going to read you what was in North Korea's leading newspaper this morning.

Speaking about President Trump's fiery -- not fiery, his relatively subdued speech in South Korea but a fiery response from the North Koreans in this newspaper. They say, quote, "His words were like filthy rhetoric spewing out of his snout like garbage that reeks of gun powder to ignite war."

And when we were out on the streets in the North Korean capital today, we got another reminder of how this regime maintained such tight control over people's hearts and minds by strictly controlling the flow of information.

North Koreans were told that President Trump gave a speech, but they were given no details of the content. They didn't know about the long list of allegations of North Korea's human rights abuses, documented extensively by the United Nations.

They didn't know about President Trump's direct challenge to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But our government minders did allow us to tell people what President Trump said. And their responses were understandably indignant. They came back with fiery rhetoric of their own, often echoing what they need in the newspaper and see on state television.

North Korea also going to take a lot of umbrage with this -- this continued thought, that China can somehow stop them from developing their nuclear program. North Korean officials have told me repeatedly over the last several months that, even if China were to cut off their oil supply completely, they would still find ways to test nuclear weapons and launch missiles.

Back to you.

CUOMO: All right. Let's put back up that insult from North Korea, by the way. They have no high ground, right? The president of the United States is arguing against a despotic regime. However, who's writing their material?

CAMEROTA: I don't know.

CUOMO: "Spewing out of his snout." That's a pig reference. That's not nice. "Like garbage that reeks of gun power to ignite war."

John Avlon, you're a man of letters. What is your favorite insult that I would have to think about before I know how deeply you've (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: First, let me just go back to the quality of that propaganda writing. They have clearly hired a new propagandist. That is strong, the snout reference. You don't get that very often in official government communiques.

CAMEROTA: No, you don't.

AVLON: No, not nearly enough.

CUOMO: It's almost Shakespearian.

AVLON: You know, there's a lot going on in that sentence. I will say to the folks in North Korea, that's our lunatic old man.

CUOMO: My favorite is "Have you eaten on the insane root that devours intellect and takes reason prisoner?"

AVLON: Think about that for a while.

CAMEROTA: You committed that to memory?

CUOMO: No. I just made it up. We know that's not true. That's Shakespeare.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

AVLON: Impressive.

CUOMO: But that was good too, North Korea. All right. So if President Trump and Vladimir Putin do meet tomorrow, will Russia's election meddling really be discussed? The better question: how could it not be discussed? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:22:34] CUOMO: Big change in talk from President Trump, now praising China for trade practices that he once bashed with reckless abandon on the campaign trail. He now says he does not fault China for how it does business with the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit. But in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: For the moment, let's set aside the proposition. Of course you can blame a sovereign for taking advantage of other sovereigns for its own selfish motives. But this is so different than what we heard from the president on the campaign trail. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing.

China is taking our jobs, our money, our base, our manufacturing. What they've done to us is the greatest single theft in the history of the world. The greatest abuser in the history of this country.

Rampant theft of intellectual property.

A currency manipulator.

They break the rules in every way imaginable.

I have many friends in China. They agree with me 100 percent.

We have lost all of their respect.

They think we're run by a bunch of idiots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Let's discuss this with CNN political analysts John Avlon and Karoun Demirjian.

So John, there's been a shift in tone. Now he's saying there, obviously, that he respects China for some of this.

AVLON: Yes. He doesn't blame China, apparently, for raping the United States if you want to square the circle on his comments over time.

Look, here he is in China. And this is sort of what bullies do sometime when they're actually in the room with the person. All of a sudden, it's a very different tone. He's blaming the Obama and Bush administration, not -- not China for taking advantage of us on trade.

Look, consistency and purpose is not this president's calling card. But it does matter for presidents. And he ramped the rhetoric up to 11 on China all throughout the campaign. And for him to say, "I don't blame China for taking advantage of the United States" is just -- you know, if it wasn't somehow sickly expected in the context of this presidency, it would be...

[06:25:05] CUOMO: All right. Double-speak, hypocrisy, absolutely.

AVLON: We get it.

CUOMO: However, Karoun, is this something to be praised, that the president has had a sobering in what was an obnoxious position initially, and it worked on the campaign trail, but it's an indication that, with information, with perspective, with understanding, what he needs to say in a situation like this, he changed and arguably for the better.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what you are seeing is the diplomatic development of the president. And he's at least not saying, "Oh, it's OK that, you know, you were -- that this trade deficit exists and that you were taking advantage of the situation." He's trying to add some humor to the situation. The idea that, you know, you catch more flies with honey, maybe.

Especially because this is not a sort of one-to-one thing with China. On the campaign trail, yes, you could talk about one issue at a time that you had to deal with with China. Not is not the case right now in terms of making this trip. He's saving his fieriest rhetoric, although that, too, has turned out for North Korea. And he needs China to be on his side with that.

So this is kind of a game of three-dimensional chess at this point. And so the president is switching up what the rhetoric is without necessarily completely undercutting what his positions are in order to, you know, gain more friends and allies for what he's objectively trying to do at the end with North Korea. And that is -- that is diplomacy. That is what the president is kind of doing and learning on the road.

We will see if the Twitter, the tweets match up with what he's now -- the new tone that he's striking. But with the shift, this is kind of what you expect world leaders to do, given the situation and how they're reading it.

AVLON: Look, I mean, that is a great point. And diplomacy is something to applaud in this context. The relationship with China is complex, especially if we're trying to contain North Korea. So any progress on the diplomats' part, to try to make the president somebody who can actually use different levels of -- levers to power is something to applaud, not just mock, outside of the inconsistency.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on to Vladimir Putin. Jeff Zeleny, our reporter, there traveling with the president, just said that there is still a meeting on the schedule to meet with Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Supposedly tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Tomorrow. And that -- Jeff Zeleny asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is Russian meddling on the agenda for a discussion point. Now -- OK, and Rex Tillerson said yes, it still is on the agenda.

This would be perhaps an unsatisfying conversation between someone who will deny any meddling and someone who doesn't believe it in the first place. So hard to see where that conversation goes. But Karoun, what do we expect?

DEMIRJIAN: I think this is another question for what's he going to do diplomatically? You know, we've seen Trump in the past say, "You know, Putin's assured me he didn't meddle. And I think this is a really big thing. And I don't agree with the intelligence community."

This would be an opportunity for him to switch it up in the other direction. Unlikely, as John would say, to get a little bit tougher on the Russian president when he's actually in the room with him.

Remember, this is not just about the investigation into Trump and his inner circle, although in the president's head, it certainly is. He's still, as president of the United States, at a time when the whole country is grappling with what was the meddling, what does it mean, not just about him but trying to protect the next election systems, et cetera. He does really have a responsibility to kind of take on the leadership of the country in that context. But will he do it? Right?

CUOMO: So far he would be the only person who would be able to say, "I spoke truth to power. I'm the president. You guys are playing these games. You're trying to frame me. But when I was with Putin, I put America first. And I said, 'We know about the meddling. I'm not Obama,'" right? Which is something he'd like to say. "'You try it again on my watch, you're going to have trouble. Do we understand each other?'"

And at least he'd be able to come back and report "I did it." Abd it would do so much for him in terms of the optics. But will it happen?

AVLON: That would be extraordinary. The unique authority. Why would we expect him to get a character transplant on this issue?

CUOMO: Look at what happened with China.

AVLON: That's purely diplomatic reframing. I think with Russia from the beginning, he's been obsessed about it from a victim standpoint. It's a witch hunt. Rather than focusing on the objective outrage, which is that a foreign -- hostile foreign power tried to influence our election. Just so happens on his behalf.

He has not been able to make that distinction or to say, "It's actually now my constitutional responsibility to protect the integrity of future elections."

Would I love to see the rhetoric get tougher from a national interest, American standpoint? Really? Yes. Should we expect it? No. Not even a little bit. The official policy is basically agree to disagree on this.

CAMEROTA: OK. John Avlon, Karoun Demirjian, thank you very much for all that perspective.

So there's more fallout from the growing sexual misconduct accusations against actor Kevin Spacey. The actor has been dropped from an upcoming movie, but it's already been filmed. So how is that going to work? Is Hollywood officially writing him off?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)