our top story. as the venezuela crisis escalates, two opposition leaders are forced from their homes at gunpoint by security services. antonio ledezma and leopoldo lopez have reportedly been taken to a militaryjail, in a move that has attracted international condemnation. in a message to north korea, the us secretary of state said america is not seeking regime change, but dialogue with pyongyang. and this video story is trending on bbc.com. a pub in the welsh city of cardiff has apologised after asking seven trainee priests to move on when staff assumed they were in fancy dress. now on bbc news it's time for hardtalk welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur.
donald trump promised to be a disruptive president. right now the thing he's disrupting the most is his own white house team. he now has a new chief of staff and a new director of communications, but what he seems unable to shift is the sense of a presidency in crisis, at odds with republicans in congress and still dogged by federal investigations of russia's alleged meddling in last year's election. my guest is sebastien gorka, a deputy assistant to the president on national security. where does the trump presidency go from here? sebastian gorka in washington, welcome to hardtalk.
thank you, stephen. i want to begin with something you just said five days ago, you said, "the atmosphere here in the white house is absolutely wonderful. we've got a new broom sweeping through the communications shop in anthony scaramucci and we are humming along on all cylinders." plenty has happened since then. what's the atmosphere in the white house like today? fabulous. i literally just left the oval office where we swore in general kelly as the president's new chief of staff. it was like a family gathering, great, great, great mood, lots of press interest, so we are very excited about recent developments. are you? quite interesting, this is a heck of a family you're living in at the moment and mr scaramucci, who you so warmly welcomed last week, with his words to the new yorker has surely throwing a bomb into the building
behind you, the white house. not at all. i know that's what our colleagues on the hill on the left and in the chattering classes of the leftist media would want people to believe, but it's not at all like that. we don't live in the rarefied bubble of pabulum and boilerplate and assessing about things that aren't real, such as the russia collusion delusion. we have a job to do. the president in the last six months has achieved things that most presidents to achieve in years, if you look at immigration, the economy. we broke an historic record for the stock exchange just in the last two days. so the fact is we are excited, the agenda, make america great again, is working. we've strengthened to the team. we have people who can communicate
to the base that elected as president in the form of anthony and we have a 4—star general who, in six months, turned the department of homeland security around, made the illegal migration across the southern border drop not just by 10% or 50% but by 73%. and we're just going to keep on going forward despite what our detractors wish to say. what anthony scaramucci said, and of course he pre—empted the departure of reince priebus, was the chief of staff at the time, since gone, was a bleeping paranoid schizophrenic, he said the chief strategist in the white house was pursuing his own brand and used a sexual euphemism that i can't repeat to suggest that he was somebody that scaramucci did not rate in the slightest. he also suggested that other white house staffers in the communications shop as you call it would have to take lie detector tests because he was going to bleeping kill all the leakers.
that suggests to me that this is the most deeply dysfunctional white house team i can possibly imagine. then how do you explain the results, stephen? i mean, literally, we have had 2a weeks in a row. market breaking records. we have seen illegal migration planet. we've seen a to revitalise. we've seen 800,000 jobs, almost 900,000 job... with respect, none of those pieces of data. how is that possible? and none of those pieces of data reflect my question at all. they have to be connected. my question is how do we regard the white house as anything other than deeply and profoundly dysfunctional today? because it isn't. if you want to persist in harping on about fake news concepts of what's going on in the white house, i actually work inside the white house and i can tell you there is no crisis and we are creating the results expected of us and which got the president elected. you can live on that illusion if you wish. look at the track record. i'm going to look at the track
record but i want to take seriously what your director of communications said. he said, for example, he would get lie detectors in to find out who was leaking from inside the white house. have you faced yet the prospect of taking a lie detector test? i don't work for the comms shop, i work for the chief strategist, stephen bannon. i don't really wish to comment on what i think was meant to be a private conversation between anthony and this reporter that the reporter clearly recorded. it's just sleazy journalism. it's just unseemly. we have a leak problem. if you look at the congressional report from last week, we've had 125 leaks in 126 days.
62 of them have been deemed by congress to be of national security import. that is a problem that will be dealt with, not primarily by antony, his remit is the comms shop, but when you have a 4—star general like a general kelly come in, the chief of staff is responsible for things like discipline, and these things have to end because it is bad for national security. with that in mind one more question about the teamwork and the way the logistics works inside the white house. anthony scaramucci made it very plain that he reports directly and personally to the president. he said that at a time when reince priebus was still chief of staff and it was clearly frankly some kind of comment on his relationship with reince priebus but to the best of your knowledge, is scaramucci still going to have that direct personal route to the president or, as in most presidencies, is the new chief of staff going to be the gatekeeper who controls all access by others to the president? the chief of staff was literally sworn in about 52 minutes ago. so he is setting in place
the procedures by which he will run the white house internally. where anthony fits into that, you'd have to ask general kelly or talk to anthony but let's give him more than 52 minutes and find out later in the week. let's talk about the relationship between the white house and the us congress. would you accept that on a series of different matters, from the failure of a key plank of mr trump's policy agenda, that is the repeal of affordable healthcare, so—called 0bamacare, to the congressional reaction to mr trump's comments about the attorney general, the republicans in the us congress are deeply out of sympathy with and alienated from donald trump today? i look at it significantly differently. you call the president a destructor, in many cases he is, he's a positive disruptive force in washington and that's why we call washington the swamp. the thing that has to be remembered
is that he may have formally been the gop, the republican candidate for president, but donald] trump wasn't an establishment individual. think about the fact, the first time since 1766, the first time in american history we have a president of the united states who has never served in public office before, not even as a governor, and who has never held senior military rank like eisenhower or washington. first time ever. stephen, why do you think that is? because the american people are fed up with the establishment writ large, including the gop, leftand right. looking at the last 20 years they say you haven't served us well, whether it is wars in iraq, afghanistan, the state of the economy, the bloated government, the fact if you get a job in government it's a job for life. the president is not from the establishment. as a result, members of the establishment gop will probably have problems with him but if you're surprised then you haven't watched his campaign and you don't know who this man is. interesting analysis but if i may
suggest one of the reasons the gop, the republican party, is so concerned about donald trump's first six months is that his approval rating is at historic lows. politicians look at the polls and whatever you say about the markets, and indeed it's true, the market is high and unemployment is low, but the bottom line is even with the economy performing well, donald trump is historically one of the most unpopular presidents after six months in the entire history of the united states. stephen, are these the same polls that said brexit wouldn't happen and hillary would become president, are they the same polling companies? i'm talking about the way the republican party is reacting to the popular disapproval of donald trump. what do you base that popular disapproval on? polls that predicted there would be no brexit and that hillary clinton would win. those polls? you'd better ask the republican
politicians because i'm going to quote to you the sort of politicians, like for example jock grassley, the chair of the senate judiciary committee, who've looked at the way donald trump has hung out his attorney general to dry, calling him very weak, saying he is disappointed in his beleaguered attorney general, and chuck grassley say, "this is wrong and if you even think about firing him, we in the senate will thwart your attempts to appoint a successor." that's what i think is the problem with the establishment on the hill. they don't understand. last tuesday i flew with the president to youngstown, ohio, where he had a rally and you should check out the footage of that rally, this is steel valley, where the factories were closed down because of outsourcing and other issues in the last two decades. we are talking about a political—type a rally, a presidential rally, eight months after an election. the atmosphere was electric. they barely allowed the president to talk because they were chanting so much for his agenda, make america great again. doctor gorka...
i need to finish, stephen, i'm going to finish. i need to make a point. i didn't suggest donald trump didn't have passionate supporters, that's not the point i was making. i need to make the point the polling you are referring to has become like phrenology, it's a fake science. the few pollsters that rodrigo duterte a job and don't have d plus ten samples that over—sample democrats in their polling, like rasmussen. rasmussen just established a poll and just published one last week where they have 70%, 70% of the american populace are finally optimistic and happy in their general situation and their expectations. how is that possible, stephen, if they are displeased with the president? how did we win a majority? you are shifting the ground because you dismissed polls and now you want to trade polling data.
one of the few that gets it right. i could say ten polls if you want to do that that say he has historic low approval ratings. you can make your point about polls, i will make mine. the bottom line is this, if you take the reaction of the republican party both to his treatment of a republican attorney general that he appointed, jeff sessions, and if you also look at the failure of his signature policy platform pillar, that is to repeal 0bamacare, you look at a president who after six months cannot get the support of his own party in the us congress. yeah, because the establishment doesn't understand what happened on november the eighth. let's be clear here, you said 0bamacare repeal and reform was a signature platform of his administration, not correct. it was important that the signature 3—part platform on which a billionaire real estate magnate from new york became the most powerful man in the world was to revitalise the economy, build the wall and defeat isis. that speed 3—part platform
and we are going to make those things happen. with 0bamacare, the president, in recognition, really you have to doff your hat to him, in recognition of the checks and balances and division of power in america said ok, gop on the hill, congress, i'm going to let you lead the way on 0bamacare reform. why? because they've been talking about it for seven years, stephen. not the president. the president has been in office for seven months. these people have been saying for seven years we will repeal and we will reform and when he says gentlemen, lead the way, what happens? they failed. not donald trump, the republicans failed and now they're trying to make it look as if this is donald trump's fault, it isn't. they failed. you're making my point that there is now a profound rift between the president and the controlling party of both houses of the us congress.
but let's move on from that and let's talk about the impact of the continuing extensive federal investigation into those allegations that russia meddled in the us presidential election, and further allegations that there may have been collusion with senior people in the trump campaign. the investigation is digging ever deeper. how on earth... and finding nothing. how do you know? what do you mean how do i know? how do you know they're finding nothing, are you privy to robert mueller‘s special counsel investigation? ten months of hysteria and nobody, not one individual, can point to one illegal act, not one. isn't that strange? 10 months! robert mueller has not been working for more than a few months. how do you know that he's not finding incriminating evidence? all i know is that the bubble, the media especially, has been obsessed. dossier this, collusion that.
it's just absurd. have you ever heard of a news story that ten months is predicated on illegal action, but for almost a year has found none? i find it fascinating thatjust last week chuck schumer from the democrats have started to admit, you know what, hillary lost the election, and it really wasn't about russia, or about james comey. when the democrat party is starting to give press conferences that says we need to look at the mirror, finally, because we haven't... as far as i understand it, this is not about who won the election, but about what the links were between russian interference — which you know, the fbi and the intelligence agencies are 100% convinced happened — but the connections between that russian interference and senior people in the trump campaign.
now, we know that because of revelations in the new york times that would then backed up by e—mail evidence, we know that donald trump's son and jared kushner had a meeting, injune 2016, with a lawyer who had clear contact with the russian government. and donald trump took that meeting knowing it was designed to give dirt on hillary clinton. that is a profound problem for your president. no, it is not. it is not. after the statement made byjared kushner, last week, the superb statement he gave outside the west wing, after the testimony he gave behind closed doors in congress, the thing is dead in the water. you need to read how the new york times are now distancing themselves from the story, because they reel it is a massive nothing burger. you know who does not believe it is a nothing burger? donald trump himself. who?
donald trump himself tweeted that he was being investigated forfiring the fbi director by the man who told him to fired the fbi director. he calls that a witch—hunt. but donald trump feels under investigation, so that surely that is not a nothing buger. let's stick to one thing at one time. you mentioned this meeting at trump tower long before the hysteria of russia began. that was requested by a music promoter, as a favour. the woman misrepresented herself because she said she had some politically relevant information on hillary clinton. it turned out that she didn't. then she switched the conversation immediately to adoption laws between the us and russia. at that point, donald trumer ended the meeting, because it had been requested on false pretences, and nothing else happened. at the same time, hillary clinton is embroiled with russia after an act. why?
because the dnc, the democrat national congress, actually sent one of its consultants — not to collect dirt on the trump campaign... but said... i'm going to finish this, stephen! they sent their own operative to the embassy of a foreign nation, ukraine, notjust to collect dirt on the trump campaign, but to co—ordinate an attack. that is a story. we will put those accusations in our next interview with a democrat representative. wonderful. but you're here representing the white house. so i say that when robert mueller has expanded his investigation to investigate ties between donald trump and russia, going back years, your president has a profound problem that is not going to go away. you can call that a nothing burger as much as you like, but this is a burger with meat on it. it doesn't even have tofu, i'm afraid, stephen. it is an irrelevance. there is nothing there, and they can spin their wheels as much as they like. if i may say so, the arrogance of an assistant to the president, who says there is nothing
there when you have no idea what robert mueller is collecting — no idea at all. no, it's not. you can insult me on television, but i actually work for the president of the united states, and when he tells me that there's nothing there, privately, and whenjared tells me, there's nothing there, i'm going to trust my employer. you can insult me, but i will trust the man elected to be the president of the united states. and if you don't like that, you should look at the mirror and not insult your guests. no insult intended, simply an observation. well, then don't call me names on television. simply an observation. that whatever you tell me, you cannot know what robert mueller is discovering. but i know what the president of the united states told me, and that's enough for me, because i trust that man. i have no connections to robert mueller, and i trust the president of the united states. understood. you've made... and for you to insult me is churlish and unprofessional. you made your absolute trust
in donald trump very plain. let's move on to national security, because that is what you are paid to do, advise the president on issues of national security. north korea. donald trump has issued many tweets telling north korea it must desist from this missile test programme. the north koreans are clearly not listening. donald trump now says it is china's fault, because china is not using the influence it should. so what dos the us do now? well, the first thing we do is we don't give our playbook away. that's the 0bama administration, where they'd tell you in advance what they're going to do, for example, when we're going to mosul, when they were going to do xyz. we don't tell regimes north korea what we are going to do next. because that is bad when you play poker, and very potentially dangerous when you are talking about geopolitics. what i can tell you is that since the mar—a—lago summit,
where we had high hopes of beijing exerting pressure on north korea, we wanted to implement a programme of peaceful pressure with our allies, with our partners, with the un security council. it is now clear that that is not functioning. it's not bringing the results. there is continued escalation by pyongyang, and now we are looking for alternatives. but i am sorry, stephen, i'm not there to tell you on bbc what we're going to do next. no, but the ambassador to the un representing the united states, nikki haley, said the time for talk is over. so we have to assume there are specific actions in the pipeline that we are going to see very quickly? you may assume that, yes. let's talk about your special subject. you came into the white house of a long record of writing and working in think tanks. you had a clear position, saying the united states is at war with radical islam, and all other foreign policy issues have to be secondary to that. would it be right to assume you were an advocate of ripping up the nuclear deal with iran? i agreed with the analysis —
i worked with general flynn in the transition, after the election, then i came to the white house to work for mr bannon. and i agree with the analysis we had back then. the deal is disastrous. it is not stop nuclear acquisition by iran, but simply delays them. and it is such a weak deal that it does not really delay them at all. not only that, the iran deal is utterly disconnected from every other destabilising act and is therefore a bad deal. and yet the trump administration has just certified that iran is respecting the deal, and if i may say so, looking at where we sit with the struggle against is, well, we've seen is pushed back in mosul, and look like they will be pushed back in raqqa, too. but you can say that the one country that is benefiting most from the situation in the middle east at the moment is iran. so given your long record of saying the iranians are at the heart of the threat to america, i'm struggling to see how
the strategic position in the middle east today, as furthered by united states policy, is helping national security. i never stated that iran is the heart of the threat to the united states. in fact, i said we inherited a world on fire, thanks to the 0bama administration's idea of leading from behind, and strategic patience. wherever you look in the world, whether it you look at isis, china, iran, or north korea, we inherited a maelstrom. but when it comes to the jihadist threat to america, i concur with netanyahu, when he addressed congress, and he said all you need to know about the dantean inferno in the middle east and north africa is that it's a game of thrones for the crown of the caliphate. we have two different versions of that caliphate. we have the sunnis, such as al qaeda and isis, the extreme sunni vision, and the shi'te version in iran. these are not mutually exclusive threats. they both pose a threat to america, the uk, and the whole of the civilised world.
i wish we had more time, sebastian gorka. but we don't. i have to end it there. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you. hello, there. most of our rain over the last couple of days has come in the form of showers, drenching downpours that bring a lot of rain in a short period of time and then clear away. but the day ahead is looking different because we have a more organised area of cloud that's been working in from the atlantic, associated with an area
of low pressure. frontal systems moving in which will bring rain. notice the tightly squeezed isobars as well. pretty windy weather, especially around the coasts of the south—west as we go through the morning. through south—west england and then other southern counties, through wales, parts of the midlands, northern ireland, northern england and southern scotland there will be some outbreaks of rain. further north the rain is patchy with brighter spells in between. across the far south of england, though, that rain will be on the heavy side. close to english channel coasts we could see a lot of rain through the day. it gives some poor travelling conditions. and a lot of cloud and mist and murk across the south—west. humid air in place, despite temperatures only getting up to 17 degrees for plymouth. across wales, patchy rain into the afternoon, but northern ireland is brightening up through the afternoon. sunshine, the return of showers, but not persistent rain. that will move across southern parts of scotland. northern scotland has some of the best weather through the day. spells of sunshine, 15—16 degrees.
we are back into patchy rain in northern england. something brighter showing its hand in the north—west later. east anglia seeing a fair amount of dry weather. into the south—east the rain sets in through wednesday evening. further pulses of wet weather pushing across the south—east and east anglia as we go through the night and the weather fronts still hanging on across northern scotland. so here we will have persistent rain through the first part of thursday morning. but across much of the country by the start of thursday we are back to square one, back to the mixture of sunny spells and showers. the closer you are to this area of low pressure, so across northern areas, that's where we will have the heaviest showers, the most frequent showers. quite slow moving across scotland and northern ireland, so we could get a lot of rain in a short space of time. thunder and lightning possible. some showers in northern england, wales, the midlands, the south—west. the further south—east you are fewer showers and more sunshine. in fact, many parts of south—east england will get away with a dry day on thursday and perhaps again on friday. again, most of the showers up
towards the north—west, where some could be heavy and thundery. quite a cool and blustery day for many. more of the same through the weekend. plenty of showers, particularly towards the north. a little bit drier towards the south—east. i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore, the headlines. international condemnation of venezuela after the arrest of two opposition leaders. the un says the escalating crisis makes a peaceful solution more difficult. a message to north korea from the us secretary of state: america is not seeking regime change, but dialogue with pyongyang. we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond. i'm babita sharma in london. also in the programme. turkey puts almost