tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN August 24, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
represent but every individual that yearns to be free. stand tall, my son, and be steadfast, for it is you who are the defender of freedom. we owe it to the servicemen and women like the master sergeant who have fought in our name in afghanistan for 17 years and to the families who have watched them go to secure an honorable and lasting outcome to this conflict. as the president said on monday, the men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. and once that victory has been achieved, they also deserve to return home to a country that honors their sacrifices and provides our nation's heroes with the support they've earned by risking their lives to ensure the freedoms of all americans. that's why the president was also honored to sign yet another historic piece of legislation to support our veterans earlier this week. the va choice act streamlines the lengthy process of appealing claims for disability benefits for the more than 470,000
veterans that are still waiting for decisions. under the leadership of secretary shulkin, the va is steady developing on the president's promise to fix the broken va system. finally, before i'd open it up to take your questions, as you're all very well aware, i kind of love birthdays around here, and oddly, we have quite a few of them going on. major garrett, happy birthday. but even more importantly, it's -- i'm pretty lucky, i think i have two of the best parents in the world, and it's my dad's birthday, so happy birthday, dad, and it's my niece's birthday, my only niece turned 4 today and with that, i will take your questions. steve. >> sarah, there seems to be some ak ri moin between the president and the republican congressional leadership. how do you repair this relationship going into the fall? >> look, i think the relationships are fine. certainly there are going to be some policy differences. but there are also a lot of
shared goals and that's what we're focused on. we're disappointed that obamacare, they failed to get it repealed and replaced, but at the same time, president trump has worked with leader mcconnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals and we're going continue to do that when the senate comes back from recess. >> will the president sign any budget bill that does not include funding for the wall? >> look, the president has talked pretty extensively about this. he campaigned on the wall. he won on talking about building a wall. and he's going to make sure that that gets done. and he'll continue to fight for that funding and ensure that it takes place. let's not forget that there were a lot of democrat senators that also voted for border security and a border fence and hopefully some of those same individuals will talk to members in their current party and maybe we can get a bipartisan group to support that and make sure it happens, because this president's going to see it
through. >> sarah, it's my older daughter's birthday, by the way. >> we'll go ahead and cover that one too. >> it's my understanding that when the president meets with senator mcconnell, beginning of september, when congress is back, that he will ask him to take another swing at repealing obamacare. at the same time, judge in new jersey, judge wallace has said that senator robert menendez cannot come back to the senate to cast votes. how does that in combination with what the president might want the senate majority leader to do on obamacare factor into the balance of power and the vote count you need to get a repeal bill through. >> i'm not sure about the specifics of that case. i know there's still ongoing judicial process taking place, so i'm not going to get into that, but i can tell you that the president continues to be committed to repealing and replacing obamacare and making sure that america has good health care and the health care that they deserve. >> just before the august
recess, does he really have a chance of getting it through? >> we're committed to continuing to make sure that we have the best health care we can, and if we can do that in that direction, i think that's great. if we can't, we need to look for other ways that we can make solutions. john decker. >> thanks, sarah. hurricane harvey appears to be bearing down on the southern part of the u.s., specifically texas seems to be in its cross hairs there. no replacement yet for general kelly at the department of homeland security. first question. does the president plan to name a replacement for him any time soon? and second of all, is this problematic in terms of dealing with hurricane harvey, the fact that there's no one at the helm right now at dhs. >> there's certainly someone at the helm. we have acting secretary elaine duke who's watching this closely, very involved in the process along with the acting director for fema and again, i think that we are in great
shape, having general kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process, and probably no better chief of staff for the president during the hurricane season, and the president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses and certainly something he's very aware of and will keep a very watchful eye on. and stands ready to provide resources if needed. >> sarah, the president promised over and over again during the campaign that mexico would pay for the wall. so why is he now threatening a government shutdown if congress won't pay for it? >> the president's committed to making sure this gets done. we know that the wall and other security measures at the border work. we've seen that take place over the last decade and we're committed to making sure the american people are protected and we're going to continue to push forward and make sure that the wall gets built. >> why is he threatening a shutdown over paying for it? i mean, again, he said over and over again, he talked about the campaign, over and over again, he said mexico's going to pay
for the wall. he asked people -- crowds chanted back at him, mexico's going to pay for it and now he's pushing -- threatening a shutdown of the government. >> once again, the president's committed to making sure this happens and we're going to push forward. >> about a week ago on august 17th, the president again referenced a fictitious story about general pershing committing a mass execution in the philippines. a couple questions on that. does the president know that the story is false, and if so, why does he keep repeating it? and why does the white house think it's appropriate for the president to perpetuate this false story if he hasn't been informed that it's not true. >> i haven't had a chance to ask him about this. i can't speak to it. >> then on the broader point, so the president's spreading false information via his twitter account. that seems to encourage wartime atrocities. no one in the white house has thought to inform him -- >> i didn't say no one had. i said i haven't had that
conversation with him. >> the u.s. has withheld funding to egypt over its human rights record. president trump praised the president back in april when he was here. why the change in tone now? >> look, the united states has always been committed on human rights issues and we'll continue to do that and if i have further updates, i'll let you know but i encourage you to reach out to the state department. >> sarah, two questions. on the economics of a government shutdown, if the wall is not paid for, the president likes to talk about thousahow the econom doing well under his watch. if there is a government shutdown, people could be laid off for a moment or some people could lose their jobs. talk to us about economics. what does he view the economics of it with this wall for average american that he's fighting for. >> i'm not going to get into the weeds on that but i know that the president is probably one of the strongest presidents we've had on economic issues. there's a reason that over 1
million jobs have been created since he took office. there's a reason that the unemployment is at a 16-year low. there's a reason that the stock market is at an all-time high. he's very committed to job creation, economic growth, and he's going to continue to do that. >> there is a big back and forth about this hbcu summit. three of the organizations are saying this is not the time to have this summit because of charlottesville and the fact that some of the schools feel they did not get what was promised from this administration. and there could be an alternate summit by a congresswoman. talk to -- what's going on here? >> look, the hbcu summit has been going on for over 30 years. we have no intention of canceling it. and as of right now, the summit is at complete capacity with a waiting list. with that type of engagement, i think it's best that we move forward. >> can i see the list of schools and the names? because we're hearing -- i mean,
from schools that are saying that they are not coming. and a lot of leaders. >> i can only tell you who's registered and certainly that we're at capacity for the convention center with a pretty lengthy waiting list in terms of whether or not we release that, i'd have to check on that and get back to you. >> sarah, what are president's thoughts on the situation in cuba. we understand now there are 19 americans have been injured. >> i know they have been going through the process of bringing the majority of those people back to have thorough testing and see what actions need to be taken and how best to move forward. at this point, i'd refer you to the state department on anything further. >> does the president believe that cuba is involved directly? >> i can't comment on that at this time. right now, we're under a thorough review and as soon as we know something, we'll let you know. >> this morning, the president said that the debt ceiling approval process is a mess. is it? is that accurate? >> look, it's our job to inform congress of the debt ceiling and it's their job to raise it and
congress and the previous administration have obligated trillions in spending and we need to make sure we pay our debts. we're still committed to making sure that gets raised. >> debt ceiling bill, would you want it to be clean. >> yes. >> follow-up question about that. the health attacks that have been going on as the secretary of state has deemed them, has the president been informed of this? has he been briefed? >> he's been briefed but again, i think there's a thorough review taking place and at this point, i'd have to refer you to the state department for any further follow-up. >> i'm going to try a business question for you. >> uh-oh. >> does the white house have any reaction to the fcc approving the acquisition of whole foods by amazon? >> i'm not aware of that. i'd have to check and see if there's an official administration response. >> second question. i want to read the comments from senator bob corker. i'm sure you've seen them over a week ago about the president saying that the president has
not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. he also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation. do you have any response to that from a republican senator? >> i think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium. >> just to follow up on jonathan's question, since the president is going full court press, threatening a shutdown over the funding of the wall, does that mean he is abandoning any efforts to negotiate with an ex -- mexico. >> i don't think he's abandoning it. >> you mentioned in the opening remarks, honorable and victory as the president did in afghanistan. can you describe for the american people who both of those words mean to the president. honorable and victory. what does it look like? what does that mean? >> i think when he spoke on monday, he laid out what the top
priority was in this process, and that's making americans safe and protecting the american people. and moving forward with this strategy and making sure that afghanistan is never able to be used as a haven to attack the united states. i think those are certainly clear goals and part of that process. >> does that mean, therefore, that u.s. military personnel will be there as long as there is any type of terrorist activity or cell in afghanistan or pakistan. >> look, i think when it comes to the strategy in afghanistan, they're going to be focused on the conditions on the ground, which will be determined by the generals in the military on the ground and certainly through the department of defense and general mattis and his team and not arbitrary timetables and he'll be the one that can lay out those specifics for you and what that looks like. >> i'm just asking because you mentioned terrorism and you mentioned threats.
there are several different networks there, haqqani, isis, taliban, is the priority of this administration and the strategy that it will pursue until it is accomplished to eliminate all those terrorist cells in either afghanistan and pakistan and only then can victory be achieved and that be described as honorable. >> i'm not going to get down into that. i think that's a question that's best answered by general mattis and the department of defense. what i can tell you is that the ultimate goal is a peaceful settlement between the government of afghanistan and the taliban that protects our interest and protects american lives. that's the focus and i'll let secretary mattis determine and lay that out for you more specifically. >> sarah, i've got a follow-up on the -- first of all, if what we're doing in afghanistan has been working, why are we still there and if it hasn't been working, what are we planning to do differently moving forward. >> i think one of the things that is different is the decision on whether or not how to win and withdraw would be based on conditions on the
ground, not arbitrary timetables and making sure that we have an integrat integrated strategy that puts all of our power in a way that's sustainable and cost effective. and making sure we have that integrated process is a big key to this strategy. >> having troops is just prolonging withdrawal, is that what that is? >> no. again, we're not doing this based on a timetable, but can say on the ground and making sure that we're protecting american lives and defeating terrorists. i think that it's very clear when the president laid that out on monday. >> hold on. wait. i have a second question on that. whatever the final objective is, is it really worth the reported trillion dollars that it would cost? isn't there anything we might be able to spend that on. >> i don't think you can put a price tag on american lives. >> sarah, one more question on afghanistan. the president talked about putting more pressure on pakistan to play a constructive role. but he also talked about having a new closer strategic partnership with india, which is pakistan's prime antagonist. why does the president think
drawing closer to india will prompt the pakistanis to play a more constructive role rather than becoming more defensive and playing more into a strategy of giving harbor to extremists. >> we think it's important that there's a regional approach, and part of that is developing and strengthening that relationship with india. they've been making important contributions towards afghanistan's democracy and stability and we think it's important to continue that effort. >> on this threat of the government shutdown, if congress doesn't secure funding for this wall, how is that not a concession from this white house that mexico isn't actually going to pay for this wall and american taxpayers will. >> again, this is something the president committed to. he's committed to protecting american lives, and doing that through the border wall is something that's important, it's a priority, and we're moving forward with it. >> but he's not saying that mexico is going to pay for it. >> he hasn't said they're not either. >> they have.
they have. >> thank you. i think we've had enough outbursts on that subject in the past. >> on the president's ban on transgender service in the military, how close is the white house to sending guidance to the pentagon on that, and the policy itself, how much discretion will be given to the pentagon on implementing it. >> when we have an announcement on that, we'll let you know and be sure to answer questions at that time. >> two questions. first, beginning of may, the great fanfare of the president signed the stream of religious liberty executive orders. in the last few days, the head of the beckett fund, a group that fights for religious liberty in court, complained that the executive order dealing with the johnson amendment, the tax exempt status for churches, whether they deal in politics, and the affordable care act's
contraception clause were both still being enforced in spite of the president's orders that they not be. what is the president doing about this, and is he aware of these complaints. >> i'm not sure if he's aware of the complaints or any specific places where that's being ignored, so i'd have to look into that, probably talk to our friends at hhs specific to the contraception thing and get back to you. >> and my second question is, in russia, the major story there is that the theater director, who's a well known figure in the russian entertainment industry and an opponent of the putin regime has been arrested and is being tried on what he said are trumped up charges regarding his finances. there are massive demonstrations beginning. does the administration have a comment on what's happened to him? >> certainly can't make an official statement at this time. but i'll circle back with you.
>> fred? i thought i saw you in the back. >> yeah. two questions. one. given the -- with the president and republican leaders in congress, is there an elevated role right now for vice president pence, having been in congress, speaking both languages, in terms of working with congress going into negotiating a budget and so forth. >> the vice president plays a key and pivotal role in the administration and the white house. i think he's certainly always going to be an important part of the process of moving legislation forward on whatever that circumstance is or whatever the matter is. he is probably one of the best advocates here at the white house and certainly somebody that the president has a great deal of trust in. >> sarah, is that role elevated, though, considering that there
seems to be a rift between congress and the president. >> i think that the vice president is the second in command, so it's a pretty high role where he is, and certainly again, a key member of this administration and somebody who plays a pivotal role every single day in the white house, no matter what the circumstances are. >> there's been some increased criticism from conservatives about the commissioner at the irs after an ig report came out that highlighted that there were 213 employees that were rehired after committing offenses, including some crimes for termination and i was wondering, if you could revisit about why the commissioner is still part of the administration and if the president has any plans put in place to replace him when his term is up in november. >> when we have a personnel announcement on that front, i'll let you know. >> two questions on pardons, if i could. one on sheriff arpaio.
is the president seeking a recommendation from the pardon attorney or the deputy attorney general, or is he asking for an fbi background check in his consideration of that pardon? >> i would imagine they go through the thorough and standard process and when we have an announcement on what that decision is, after that's completed, we'll let you know. >> and more broadly, beyond arpaio, there are 2,200 other pardon applications pending. does the president have any pardon policy, pardon philosophy, any particular way that he would like to use his pardon power during his term in office. >> i haven't had a specific conversation with him about that but i know that his -- the white house counsel plays a big role in that and would certainly be involved in that process and any deliberations on that. >> the president has made clear in the past if he wanted to get started on tax reform but we haven't heard him say that much about it. politico talked to a white house correspondent and published this
week that had president has an imminent announcement about tax reform. can you describe how he wants to kick off the fall campaign to get that accomplished this year? and are we going to hear from him this week, next week, what would you expect. >> tax relief and the focus on tax relief for middle class americans is a huge priority for this administration. and certainly going to be a big focus in the fall and we're going to look at a lot of different ways in which to talk about that and present that to the american people working with congress to make sure that that happens. and we'll keep you guys posted whether there are specific announcements. i think that you can expect some of that to take place in the very short order, probably next week and following through to the fall. >> it's customary for presidents to get annual physicals -- physical exams at walter reed. the president, i think, last released information about his medical condition last fall during the campaign. can you tell us whether the president intends to utilize the federal facilities at walter
reed this year to get a physical and then release that information to the public? >> i'll let you know if that's going to happen. >> on tuesday, president trump said if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall, does he stand by that statement? >> look, i think the president's been clear that this is a priority, protecting american citizens is a priority, something he's committed to and we're going to -- as i've said, multiple times today, he's committed to seeing that through. >> is he going to enforce a government shutdown to get the wall fwibuilt. >> i think i've answered this question several times. >> the president mentioned at the rally in phoenix that he was -- he seemed inclined to be pulling the u.s. out of the north american free trade agreement. his comments came after the first round of nafta renegotiation talks last week so were those comments informed by the status of those negotiations last week here in washington when it was his prediction that he's going to be pulling the u.s. out. >> the president's being kept up to date on those negotiations.
i think he's certainly been clear about how he feels about nafta and making sure that we get the best deal for the american people. he's committed to that. we'll see how the negotiations go and then go from there. thanks so much, guys. >> all right, there we have it. sarah huckabee sanders addressing a multitude of issues. let's just begin, though, with that first question on the ak i acrimony between the republican leaders and the president. she was asked about the acrimony and she said, the relationships are fine, they have policy differences, shared goals but what i noted was was the pronoun. the white house is disappointed, meaning they, meaning republicans, wouldn't it be a we instead of a they? failed on repealing obamacare. >> yeah, i mean, i don't think we should be all that surprised that donald trump said something similar pronoun-wise in his tweet this morning, brooke, which is, i don't really think the he views -- he certainly
doesn't view himself in the same class as a member of congress or republican leadership but i'm not sure he really associates himself with the republican party in congress. this is a guy who is openly courting primary challengers to a sitting republican incumbent, a primary in arizona. this is a guy who has run down lisa murkowski, john mccain, lindsey graham, you know, jeff flake. >> but he's a republican president. >> mitch mcconnell. >> but he's a republican president. >> yes, but he does not view himself -- donald trump, look, all presidents are about themselves first and the party second. that's true, barack obama too. it's usually, though, one 1 and 1 a. for donald trump, he's about trump first, donald trump second, donald trump third, donald trump fourth, we only have another 36 minutes of you show but it's donald trump all the way down for a long time and then republican party when it is good for donald trump. that's what we've seen. he is a force unto himself.
that is a good thing for him politically, it's why he got elected. it's why he beat 16 other republicans who are much more party loyalist than he is. but when you are the president of the united states, your job, theoretically, is to work when you have a senate and house majority to work with them to pass your agenda. he seems to see it as, well, working with me is you do what i say. if it doesn't work, for whatever reason, it's your fault, i'm going to blame you, and i'm going to attack you. and you know, that's probably not the way that he's going to get a whole lot done. though i don't know that he cares. >> juana, what did you think. >> something i thought was really interesting, along the same liengz of talking about how donald trump maybe doesn't see himself as a republican is the way that sarah huckabee sanders talked about a number of signature achievements that the president campaigned on that he said he wanted. freb for example, when she talked about the wall that donald trump said that mexico would pay for, she now says, well, maybe he didn't say they're going to pay for it now but maybe they are still.
she doesn't know. >> she never said. >> she didn't make it clear whether or not the president still believes that's the case. when they talked about obamacare, she says, you know, we want to make sure that americans have the best health care we can. and i believe she said if we can't, we need to look at other ways to make solutions happen. given what we saw right before republicans headed to congressional recess so this is a president now that you're hearing use very different terms in talking about some of the policy goals, especially on health care, one that republicans have been toiling over, how to replace the affordable care act for the entirety -- since 2010, i guess, for most of barack obama's term, they've been trying to figure out how to replace that and now we're hearing something really different from this president so i thought this was interesting listening to the press secretary speak. >> i want to come back to that point and how he said the other night in phoenix the government spending is all predicated on getting that funding for the border wall. staying on this theme of republicans and caitlin and kirsten, just turning to you all, hearing the way sarah huckabee sanders responded to
the notion of someone who was on short list to be secretary of state, okay, senator bob corker, again, on the same team, republican, tennessee, who's been golfing with the president, right, who questioned the president's competency among other things. let me remind everyone what he said last week and what sarah huckabee sanders said in response. >> the president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. >> comments from senator bob corker, i'm sure you've seen them over a week ago, about the president saying that the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. he also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation. do you have any response to that from a republican senator?
>> i think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium. >> your response to her nonresponse response. >> i mean, what else is she going to say? i think that this is a pretty unprecedented attack to come from a senator against the president of his own party. so, they're well within their rights to take offense by it, and you know, you would hope internally they might take a difference position which is maybe we should consider what's going on but i think we know that donald trump's not particularly open to that kind of feedback. >> right. and when you're talking about intraparty divisions, jeff flake is traveling the country promoting a book which is very critical of this president, very critical of the party's response to this president. the president obviously does not respond well to criticism, and when he was talking in phoenix about the coverage of his response to charlottesville, he's very much talking about republicans in his own party who
were critical of his response there. and to chris's earlier point, he ran a presidential campaign against establishment republicans as much as establishment democrats, and i think what we saw over the past week is kind of a preview of how he might approach the midterm elections, going after congress for not getting things done, a congress that is controlled by republicans today in those tweets, kind of setting up the blame for republicans in case things don't get done here. >> but when has that ever been done, going after -- i go back to the sports metaphor of your own teammates, republicans attacking them, you should be on the same team. with common goals. >> right. it's a strategy at odds with itself. because if you're going after jeff flake, if you're going after, you know, dean heller in nevada, those are votes that you need anyway to pass the legislation that you want to pass so it does raise the question about how much the president wants to get done here and going after your own republican members of congress,
when you have to add to your majority, not want to shrink it -- >> especially because jeff flake actually has supported his agenda so this is something that's actually not about him not supporting the agenda. it's about him not supporting trump personally so he's putting this sort of personal feelings over the politics. >> and agenda. go ahead, chris. >> first of all, kirsten is exactly right about that, getting in the way of smart politics is to prop up jeff flake because guess what? jeff flake has a better chance of winning reelection than kelly ward, the state senator who would be running if she beat flake in a primary. but that's not what trump does. to your team metaphor, he's not a team player. never has been. he's a solo performer. that's true of his entire life. whether it's business -- he's not someone who's had a huge number of business -- friends in the business world. he always mentions carl but that's not him. he's someone who, sort of
celebrity world, he's surrounded himself with who? his family, essentially. he has a very tight knit circle of people but he's not a guy who's like, how can i help dean heller have a better chance of getting reelected. that is not a thought that goes through his mind. he is a soloist. he is not a guy who thinks, how can i sacrifice here or there what exactly what i want in order to sort of move the ball down the field. that's not -- it's never been him. and i always remind people of this when they're like, i wonder if donald trump's going to change. he's a 71-year-old man who's had lots of success in thinks life. he's not going to change. >> it begs the question, how can you be a team player and be the president of the united states but that's for another conversation when we continue our chat about big checks, chris cillizza. >> i'm ready. >> to my ladies to the right, thank you so much. i want to stay on this. more on the white house's blistering response to republican senator bob corker. i've got paul bagala, ken
cuccinelli. that's next. pe, i could fix it. (laugh) no. with claim rateguard your rates won't go up just because of a claim. i totally could've - no! switching to allstate is worth it. you myour joints...thing for your heart... or your digestion... so why wouldn't you take something for the most important part of you... your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish, prevagen is now the number one selling brain health supplement in drug stores nationwide. prevagen. the name to remember.
the whole country booking on choice hotels.com. four words, badda book. badda boom... let it sink in. shouldn't we say we have the lowest price? nope, badda book. badda boom. have you ever stayed with choice hotels? like at a comfort inn? yep. free waffles, can't go wrong. i like it. promote that guy. get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed. when you book direct at choicehotels.com. book now.
president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. >> comments from senator bob corker, i'm sure you've seen them, over a week ago saying the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. he also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation. do you have any response to that from a republican senator? >> i think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium. >> blistering response from the white house to those questioning the president's stability and competence, including members of his own party. i want to bring in ken
cuccinelli, cnn legal commentator and president of the senate conservatives fund and paul begala, cnn political commentator and democratic strategist. welcome to both of you. ken, i'd love to start with you. i don't know if you know bob cork corker personally. i know his comments really created some ripples and you can understand how the white house would be so disgust and had wouldn't want to respond to that. but still it's my -- again, he's someone who was on the short list for state department. this is not someone who flies off the handle. those words meant something to him. what do you make of thousand white house -- how the white house is responding. >> what you called the nonresponse response is an accurate characterization and i think it was appropriate for the white house. when you watch bob corker say this, put yourself in the kitchen of the average tennesseen, this looks unbelievably elitist and
presumptuous and this is not going to play well in tennessee, nor should it. in the senate club, this may make sense as they all grab their snuff, but you know, this really looks elitist for a guy whose primary legislative accomplishment that he's going to be known for going into 2018 is the iran deal. i mean, this is not a guy who can tick off his base. and you know, you mentioned some of the people that president trump has attacked. you mentioned mcconnell, murkowski, flake, mccain, heller, these are all people who have not just defied the republican grassroots, they have turned on the republican and conservative grassroots and that's who the president has gone after. so to say that separates him from the republican party, in fact, that's where the base of the republican party is, and i don't just mean some piece of it. overwhelmingly, the republican base is mad at all those senators. look at mitch mcconnell's favorability rating just in kentucky. it's like 18% and it's 9%
nationally. it's laughably low. it almost doesn't -- he's almost to the margin of error with zero. >> so, okay, i'm listening to you and it sounds like in a sense, if this is appearing elitist to folks in their tennessee kitchens, that could, in the end, help the president and certainly be great for his base. paul begala, i mean, how do you respond to that? >> i just want to -- the republican on republican violence to continue. by which i'm being rhetorical. i think everything ken said was music to my ears except this. it was not elitist. kboerk w bob corker was a businessman in chattanooga, you've been there, it's a great town. it's not exactly elitist. let me draw a contrast. it would be elitist if he was bragging about his valentino shoes and his tom ford purse or whatever the hell the cabinet secretary's wife was doing the other day.
that's elitism and that's the trump administration. you're right, though, fundamentally. you're right fundamentally that this is likely to hurt corker politically so why is he doing it? the rarest thing in washington, political courage. he's doing it because he means it. because he really is worried the president's unstable, and since he made that comment, the president has proved corker right. the president -- you saw it this week. he was unhinged. he is unstable. and he's obviously incompetent. we're past the august recess, he hasn't got an major piece of legislation through. that's demonstrably true. whether he's unstable is a subjective judgment but when one of the most serious, sober members of your party from a state where president trump won overwhelmingly, when he says that, it's not for his political gain. he's saying it because he loves this country and he's really scared to death that the man whose fingers are on the nuclear codes is unstable. >> we can agree to disagree but let's talk about incompetence. you talk about legislation and things getting through. compare mitch mcconnell and of
course bob corker's part of that leadership team with harry reid, not donald trump, to barack obama, but to harry reid. harry reid had a 60-vote threshold when then-senator obama became president obama, got far more of the nominees through, got far more judges through. he's processing more work. harry reid destroyed mitch mcconnell in the competency category. mitch mcconnell has built up this false image of this strategic genius, and harry comes out and says to the president, you know, your expectations are just too high. and he thinks he's right. meaning, mcconnell thinks he's right about that. it's outrageous it ha. >> harry reid is ten times the leader that mitch mcconnell is. but here's my question. i won't be cute. i was going to be snarky. this is a real question. when george w. bush and his teammeteam wanted to get rid of trent lott, they couped him quitely,
effectively, it was really a knifing, and they installed from tennessee bill frist who was then a senator. who's trump's alternative? what's his goal? does he have a strategy here? bush had a strategy here. he wanted to get rid of his majority leader, he got it done, and it was a little mean but it was very effective. who's he want to replace mcconnell with? >> well, of course there hasn't been any show of that, and i'm not sure picking a candidate with the senate caucus the way it operates is necessarily a good thing. i remember a frequent of mine who i was regularly at odds with in my state senate caucus when i ran for attorney general, he said, ken, i'll support you, i'll oppose you, whatever helps the most. and you know, with a lot of the people who would be swing votes in a leadership contest in that caucus, it is not necessarily the right play for the president to step out and boldly say, this person should be the next senate leader, but it is clear that
there needs to be a new and different senate leader. the current one is failing terribly. >> bush didn't say it publicly, but he had a strategy. i believe that this president has no strategy. >> that's the question. >> he's a nihilist and a narcissist and he's flailing. >> paul, that overstates it. snf the fact that we heard from the white house again referring to republicans in congress as "they," how does that benefit? what is the strategy? what is the strategy in referring to the they instead of the overall we, as in we're all on the same team and we all want to win. >> right. well, and of course sometimes it's we and sometimes it's they when they agree, it's we, when they don't, it's they. i think you might be putting a little too much weight on a pronoun there, but look, they're at odds with the leadership, particularly in the senate, right now, actually, almost exclusively in public with the senate. and we have a tough month coming up. are we just going to blow the roof off the debt ceiling, are
they going to do the usual government compromise and we're going to put our children and grandchildren farther in debt. i don't think that's a good path for america. but it is -- >> what's your snap assessment of what sediment looptember looe . >> but it is mcconnell's deadline. he wants to back up to the deadline because then he uses the panic and the desperation of government shutdown to get what he wants which is great big hardly reviewed and barely accountable budget bill. >> so how do you foresee -- what does september look like? last question to ken. >> i think there will be some make nice, at least public make nice, but if they can't -- if the congressional leadership doesn't go down a constructive path, that at least keeps the president reasonably comfortable that they're going to be productive, including funding
the border wall, which all of the republicans currently in the senate voted for and did chuck schumer and did dianne feinstein. i think they'll stay together. if the republican leadership starts caving on these sorts of things, then the president is going to dig in his heels. that is his personality. it's what he does. i do not agree with paul that the president is unhinged. i believe he's impetuous. i mean, we can see that on twitter. >> that's an elitist word, ken. >> there's a big difference between the two. there's a big difference between the two. >> gentlemen, thank you so much. paul and ken, appreciate both of you today. coming up, president trump has called it the ultimate deal, brokering peace in the middle east. moments ago, the president's son in skpllaw and senior adviser j kushner had a huge, huge meeting. plus her husband was an ardent trump supporter but
"ducky dynasty" star cory robertson is now speaking out about her feelings toward the president, her candid interview next. this this is my body of proof. proof of less joint pain and clearer skin. this is my body of proof that i can take on psoriatic arthritis with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further joint damage, and clear skin in many adults. humira is the #1 prescribed biologic for psoriatic arthritis. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection.
one of the stars of the hit reality show "ducky dynasty" says it is time for president trump to get out of fight mode and start unifying the country. korie robertson's husband was a vocal supporter of trump during the campaign, even speaking at the republican convention. she is also a mom of six children, one of them biracial. in the wake of charlottesville, she is speaking out to cnn's special correspondent jamie about the controversial remarks made by the president. also, she's talking about why she decided to retweet former president obama's response to the deadly >> i retweeted it because i think it kind of felt like goodness was kind of winning the day on social media. to see something that was like
positive and that was sets truth. it just felt like light was winning. i'm going to retweet that as well. >> really? your husband was one of the early supporters of donald trump, and you have publicly said that there were a lot of family discussions did you recollect the campaign, what were you concerned about? >> it was a stressful time. i think our whole country felt that. you know, and there's probably a lot of husbands and wives, you know, arguing around the dinner table. and we certainly had plenty and willie was outspoken about trump from the beginning, and i was not. >> in the end, can i ask you, did you vote for donald trump? >> you can ask me that. i will say, i did not make that decision until the day of the election. i really, really struggled with it. it was a very hard decision for me, and in the end, i did. i chose to mainly because of
hillary clinton's views on abortion. so i think that, you know, in the end, a lot of people made the choice because they felt like the other wasn't the right candidate. rather than that we had a really great choice. >> you didn't think donald trump was a really great choice? >> no. >> because? >> because i don't think he's leading our country to a place like unity. i think he's in fight mode and he still is in fight mode. and i'm like, you won. like, you won the election. get out of fight mode and let's get into like peace and unifying people. >> talk to me about charlottesville. when you watched it, how did you react? >> i get emotional about it because it was so sad for me to see that amount of hate being spewed out of people. and it was like, you know, you
see these people. and these are just men that look like your neighbors, standing there and just spewing this amount of hate for other people because of their skin color or their nationality or any of that. and so, counter to jesus' teachings and the way we're supposed to be. >> so then president trump comes out and it's not hard to say the right thing, but he doesn't do it. what does that say about donald trump that -- >> right. >> he seems to be so reluctant? >> yeah. i don't know. you know. it was, it was shocking and scary the fact that it didn't feel like he was willing to call them out. >> you don't think there is a moral equivalency between the two sides?
>> absolutely not. and i think that, you know, i tried to give him the benefit of the doubt on what he meant to say, then when he came back and he started saying that there were good people on both sides and all of that. that's when it got even more shocking to me because i was like, i don't know how you can say there are good people that are marching with torches and, you know, shouting nazi slogans, wearing hitler shirts. spewing all amount of hate. if there's a good person that showed up there, they would leave whenever they saw what was happening. you know, so i just -- that floored me. and i don't really understand that. i really can't defend him in any way on that. >> so, fans of duck dynasty know that you have six children, three are adopted. and one of them is biracial. >> yes. >> part african american, willie jr., and that rebecca is from
taiwan. how do you say to them we voted for this guy? >> yeah. well, i will say this, if we had thought for one second that donald trump was racist in any way, we wouldn't have ever voted for him. so i will say that. that wasn't -- that was not, we did not believe that he was at all. and i'm not saying that donald trump is a racist that the point, but -- the words he is using is somehow identifying with that, that group. and somehow they are thinking that he is accepting them. they think that he is, you know, speaking on their behalf in some way. >> if you could send a message to donald trump right now, what would it be about the way he's handled this? >> you know, say you were wrong, and stop fighting. you know, i just feel like, it's
exhausting. like why are you still fighting? what are you trying to prove that the point? let's come together and be a leader that unifies. that brings people together. and that's, i think, what we need right now. >> would you vote for him again? >> well, i think we'll just wait and see if that, that becomes an issue. i don't know if i can answer that right now. >> wow. cory speaking from the heart. jamie thank you so much for sitting down with her. seen, i mean to hear -- she obviously was so emotional talking about charlottesville. we've had this debate about confederate statues. >> right. so she believes they should come down. >> she does. >> that's the first time she's spoken out. she said to me, it's important to remember our history so that we don't repeat it, but we don't need to revere it. she thinks they absolutely should come down. there is no place in that family
for confederate flags. she has never liked that. some people think because willie wears that flag, that's an american flag. it's not the confederate flag. shelves very strongly about it. it's over. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> we'll look for more of your interview on cnn.com. jamie, appreciate it. it was a worldwide obsession. a little cuban boy caught in a bitter custody deal. eventually he would be returned to cuba and the photograph. everyone remembers this. caught the moment armed federal agents grabbed him from the arms of a family in florida and sent him back to his father. and now, 17 years later, there is a new cnn documentary, it airs tonight, cnn's patrick otman talks with a now 23-year-old elian gonzalez. >> reporter: what do you think
your life had been life if you had stayed in the united states? [ speaking foreign language ] >> yes. with me now, tim golden, the director of the cnn film. we all remember in the moments in '99, everything else, to bring it forward now, 17 years later, why tell his story now? >> well, i think it was an extraordinary story that so many people remember and younger people probably don't, but it was -- >> it gripped the nation. >> it really did. >> it did.
>> and then you had the 2000 election campaign and the florida recount in 9/11, and it just went away. nobody had ever gone back or taken it apart and revisited it. we felt like it was just a defining moment in the story of cuba and the united states and in the cuban story. the fight between castro and the cuban americans here. >> how do you tell it? obviously showing the fight, showing the perspective from both sides. push/pull. >> yeah, i think we had the view from the beginning that you, you had to tell the story with a respect and a sense of humanity of people on both sides. or you couldn't tell the story fully. you wouldn't be able to understand how strong the passions were on both sides. you know, for both cubans in cuba and for cuban americans, elian was an incredible symbol, they thought, of everything that they had experienced.
the suffering on the cuban american side of this little boy who goes off into the sea with his mother and on the castro side, you know, the links, the terrible lengths that they would go to get back at him. >> what's he doing now? >> elian has graduated from universities, graduated from the military academy. he's a little bit like prince harry. he's sort of -- he's kind of a dignitary in waiting. i think he's going to commit himself to working on behalf of the revolution in the next phase. whatever that may bring. >> does he want to come back or see the relatives, see the family? >> i think he very much does. i think he feels connected, you know, you have to imagine, he's lived this extraordinary experience since returning to cuba at the age of six through the memories of all the people who have surrounded him. so i think he's, he's obviously a celebrity there, but he's, he'sly curious.
>> incredible been you wonder what he remembers of that time at six. i'm sure it's all in the doc. tim, thank you so much. let me remind all of you, elian premiers tonight at 10:00 eastern time. do not miss it. i'm brooke baldwin. the lead with jake tapper starts now. thanks, brooke. but why would the u.s. government have to shutdown if mexico's paying for the wall? the lead starts right now. president trump with a fresh twitter thrashing of the people he needs most in washington. could an internal republican civil war force the federal government to close up shop? it just keeps getting stronger, hurricane harvey closing in on land with enough rain to make noah shudder. plus crashes at sea. non-combat