tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 7, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
happening now. vowing revenge, north korea goes ballistic over new u.n. sanctions over the missile test. kim jong-un blaming the united states and warning of nuclear war. can a military conflict be avoided? jersey, the president takes a break from the white house, but not from twitter. launching new attacks tonight on his 200th day in office. is he defying his new chief of staff's efforts to instill discipline? not a fishing expedition, the deputy attorney general speaking out about the special counsel investigation he launched defending robert mueller and his mandate to follow the evidence wherever it leads. we're following the newest twists in the russia probe. and a fishing expedition, while president trump golfs, vladimir putin spends his summer get away in siberia, releasing
pictures of his macho pursuits on a boat and without a shirt. is he trolling mr. trump? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." tonight as president trump marks 200 turbulent days in office, he's defending his stalled agenda, attacking the news media and the u.s. senator and denying poll numbers that show shrinking support even within his base. mr. trump unleashing new tweets tonight after multiple early morning rants, even as he declared that he's working hard at his new jersey golf club. north korea is ramping up threats against the united states, warning it will pay dearly for new united nations sanctions on kim jong-un's regime. pyongyang accusing the u.s. of desperate and diabolical moves that are driving the region to the brink of nuclear war. the u.n. security council
unanimously agreed to punish north korea for recent ballistic missile tests, sanctions that could cost the country a billion dollars. we are also following escalating tensions between the united states and russia. secretary of state tillerson telling his kremlin counterpart that moscow's election meddling has created, quote, serious mistrust between their countries, a strong message we haven't heard publicly from president trump. this as the special counsel's investigation of possible collusion between russia and the trump camp keeps widening. deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who launched the probe, says robert mueller is not on a fishing expedition as some trump supporters claim. this hour i'll talk to republican senator jeff flake. he's a vocal trump critic and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by. first to the president's 200th day in office spent in new jersey and on twitter. let's go to our senior white house correspondent jim accosta. jim, even with the new chief of
staff, the president still seems to be in charge of his twitter account. >> reporter: he is fully in command of that smartphone, wolf. that's right, president trump may be on what the white house calls a working vacation, but not much has changed from his daily activities from the white house. he is watching the news and tweeting away and the president appears to be focused on energizing his base of core supporters who seem to be drifting away. take a look at this tweet from earlier today. he tweeted hard to believe with 24/7 fake news on cnn, abc, nbc, cbs, new york times, it is trump base is far bigger than before despite fake polls coming from the fake news. look at rallies in pennsylvania and ohio. there is a reason for the president to worry about all of this. the recent quinnipiac found a key block for mr. trump white voters now disapprove of of the job he's doing. even his top advisors admit the president has a problem. >> i would note, too, in some of the polling which of course i
scour daily on behalf of the president, his approval rating among republicans and conservative and trump voters is down slightly. it needs to go up. they are telling him, just enact your program. >> reporter: despite the backlash against the social media habits, the president is determined to keep on tweeting. the public has lost nearly all patience with this. the respected quinnipiac polling unit said the president should stop tweeting from his personal account, wolf. >> he just tweeted about north korea at the same time. >> reporter: that's right. and we could put this up on screen. this is what the president tweeted earlier this afternoon. the fake news media will not talk about the importance of the united nations security council 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on north korea. wolf, we've been reporting on this all day today, all weekend long, the situation over at the united nations. so, this tweet from the president appears to be fake news aimed at real news. >> we've been reporting extensively on the u.n. security council resolution. we have another report coming up very shortly as well.
jim accosta, thanks very much. now to the russia investigation, the secretary of state overseas talking tough about moscow's election meddling here at home. the special counsel issuing grand jury subpoenas and following the money trail. let's bring in our justice correspondent jessica snyder. jessica, we are getting more mixed messages from the trump administration. >> we are, would have. wli while the president refuses to acknowledge the assessment, that russia meddled in the election, he is blaming congress forbad relations with the kremlin, while traveling in asia tillerson said it is a topic he took head on with russian officials. tonight secretary of state rex tillerson is speaking out where the president has stayed silent, warning russia that its meddling in the election has hurt u.s.-russian relations. >> we talked about it in the discussion we had with minister lavrov yesterday, and trying to help them understand just how serious this incident had been
and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the u.s. and the american people and the russian people. >> reporter: meanwhile, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein is defending the scope of special counsel robert mueller's ongoing russia investigation. >> the special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the department of justice, and we don't engage in fishing expeditions. >> reporter: and says mueller's team could expand its probe if appropriate. >> if he finds evidence of a crime that's within the scope of what director mueller and i agreed and it is in the scope of the investigation he can. if it is outside the scope he needs to come to the acting attorney general, me, for permission to expand the investigation. >> reporter: rosenstein over sees the special counsel whose investigation has widened to focus on possible financial crimes as cnn has reported. mueller's team is seizing 0 not president trump and his associates' financial ties to russia even though president trump indicated in a "the new york times" interview, any move to investigate his businesses would be crossing a red line. >> mueller is looking at your
finances and your family's finances unrelated to russia. is that a red line? >> i would say yes, i would say yes. i don't take money from russia. >> reporter: president trump has tweeted calling the investigation a witch hunters point and fake news. but mueller is moving forward using a grand jury sitting in washington to issue subpoenas related to donald trump, jr.'s meeting in 2016 with a russian lawyer inside trump tower, according to a source. former u.s. attorney and current new jersey governor chris christie telling cnn's jake tapper on state of the union, that's to be expected. >> this is a normal step taken by a careful prosecutor who is doing a thorough investigation, and i think that is exactly what bob mueller is doing. you can't issue subpoenas without a grand jury. it's the grand jury that actually issues the subpoenas. >> reporter: christie adding the june 2016 meeting was, quote, ill-advised. >> this is not something that should have happened. everybody in retrospect knows this is a bad idea. >> reporter: but the ranking member of the house intelligence committee adam schiff told jake
the grand jury move is significant. >> that wouldn't be taking place if there was really no evidence, no evidentiary basis to move forward. >> reporter: republican senator tom tillis, meanwhile, cautioning the president against any move to fire the special counsel. tillis is co-sponsoring a measure which would bar the president from directly firing any special counsel. >> it would just be another piece of fodder, or fodder for people who are trying to discredit what i consider to be one of the most important parts of the administration. and the fbi within the department of justice. >> reporter: and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, he would not comment on which individuals might be the subject of the special counsel's probe, but he did insist that the president has not directed the justice department to investigate particular people. that, despite the fact that president trump has often pressed publicly for the d.o.j. to investigate hillary clinton. rosenstein, though, did stress that is just not the way the justice department operates. wolf?
>> all right, jessica, thank you. jessica snyder reporting. now let's move to major developments involving north korea, its vow to retaliate against the united states for tough new united nations sanctions. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is following the story for us. barbara, north korea is warning the united states will, quote, pay dearly. >> reporter: and with that warning, wolf, comes growing concern tonight that there is always the prospect of a north korean attack, something president trump says he would not allow to happen. north korea now says the u.s. is driving the korean peninsula to war, vowing revenge against new u.n. sanctions. >> translator: there is no bigger mistake than the united states believing that its land is safe across the ocean. >> reporter: making clear that it won't give up its weapons program. >> translator: we affirm that we'll never place our nuclear and ballistic missiles program on the negotiating table. and won't budge an inch on
strengthening nuclear armament. >> reporter: the u.s. officially remains focused on diplomacy, but there are military options for dealing with north korea. >> nor are we preparing plans for a preventive war, a war that would prevent north korea from threatening the united states with a nuclear weapon. and the president has been very clear about it. he said he's not going to tolerate north korea being able to threaten the united states. >> i will tell you from the united states' perspective is we're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. >> reporter: with two recent inter-continental ballistic missile launches and a nuclear warhead development program, all options are on the table. >> and that includes a military option. now, would we like to resolve it short of what would be a very costly war in terms of the suffering of mainly the south korean people? >> reporter: experts say the problem is not bombing north korea's weapons program. it's what happens next. >> you strike north korea, they're going to strike back. and they have a devastating
conventional arsenal built up right on the border that could lay waste to seoul. >> reporter: the former director of national intelligence says the military option has to be kept on the table, but it's not a good one. >> a preemptory military operation against north korea would be disastrous because i believe the north koreans would unleash all that artillery and rocketry they have lined up along the dmz. and they would as they have vowed many times turn seoul into a, quote, sea of fire. >> reporter: and if the u.s. were to try and attack some of north korea's weapons sites, one of the big questions is just how soon could they rebuild it all. wolf? >> all right, barbara, thanks very much. barbara starr reporting. let's bring in our senior military and diplomatic analyst john kirby and our cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mudd. how serious is this, john? >> it's very serious, deadly serious. and i think general mcmaster was right to say you can't overstate the threat that they pose. that they continue to develop
this program, which is why it's good that even with all the mixed messaging coming out of the white house, the administration is working across all the elements of power. you have mcmaster and mattis working military options which nobody wants to use. you have tillerson exploring. it's brink man ship using all the tools of national power. the real question is how much of an effect this is going to have on pyongyang. >> how do you see it, phil? >> i see it the same way. this is one of those classic situations where you look at a problem and the more complicated the problem is, it's almost the fewer options the president of the united states has. you look at the statements by people in the administration about potential military action. there is one problem among many if you take military action. that gives authorization to kim jong-un to do something, either across the border or with mi missiles against the united states. you guarantee military action, you guarantee the conventional capability in south korea. i think the difficult answer is
you're going to have to talk to him if you want to deal with this because the military option is really ugly. >> if you've been along the demilitarized zone north of the dmz, you have a million north korean troops with thousands of artillery pieces and mortars that could level, kill potentially millions of people just south of the demilitarized zone including seoul. >> it becomes escalated really fast. you can't bomb away their knowledge. aside from the devastating effects of war, they have developed this program, ballistic and nuclear, and they are starting to advance it. you're not going to bomb away that knowledge. they are always going to have that. again, all the more reason why they've got to find an avenue here for diplomacy, for negotiations and for trying to get them incentivized to come to the table, which right now, wolf, they're not interested. they don't see a need to negotiate. >> the u.n. security council resolution, phil, impressive 15-0, russia on board, china on board. china is key right now. take a look at this. north korean economy, 85% of
north korea's imports come from china. 83% of north korea's exports go to china. the key is china right now. >> it is, and this is one reason that there is a direct linkage between what's happening domestically in the united states in terms of chaos at the white house and what's happening internationally. if you want to bring pressure on the north koreans that's going to take months and years, potentially, of talks and any intervention that the north koreans allow into their missile or nuclear program. you can't one week say i'm on board with the chinese, they're down at mar-a-lago, and the next week say the chinese haven't been that supportive we have to have a new option. you have to have stability in the white house to say, here's a multi-year plan. if it's the tillerson plan that's going to include conversations with the north koreans but you can't change route every month. >> at this summit in manila, the south korean foreign minister met with the north korean foreign minister face to face. they had a meeting. 9 u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson did not meet with the north korean foreign minister. was that a missed opportunity?
>> no, this is not the time for us to be having direct negotiations with the new york times. you want to go into any negotiation with them with the international community behind you and supporting you and a clear agenda of what you're trying to get out of it. this was not the moment. >> maybe it was a negotiation. maybe it would have been an opportunity, though, for the u.s. to deliver a direct warning to the north korean foreign minister, stop it. >> i think we've done that. i think they certainly have gotten the word about the concern we have over their program. this is not the right time right now to sit down face to face and even deliver that directly to them. what they crave is regime survival. what they crave is the credibility, validation by the international community for what they're doing. and i just don't think we're at a point right now where we can or should give them them that. >> guys, i want you to stand by. we have a special guest republican senator jeff flake joining us live right now. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> let's talk about north korean right now. north korea saying the united
states is driving the north koreans to war. how should the u.s. proceed right now? >> i think as we are. many of us just last week had a classified briefing with general mattis and secretary tillerson. i have to say that i think most of us left that meeting feeling that we're doing what we can and on the right path. and certainly over the weekend the security council resolution was a big boost. i think we're all very happy and gratified with how that came off. >> do you think, senator, that these sanctions, even more sanctions are enough that china will do what is necessary, given china's key role as the key exporter and importer to north korea? >> we just don't know. we just don't know. sanctions have not worked in the past. these are ratcheted down even tighter. so, perhaps. we all know that we don't have much leverage. china has leverage. we don't know how much.
with north korea being so close to where they want to be, it's difficult to say whether or not they'll pull back now. but this is the best, i think, course we can take right now, and i'm glad that we have general mattis and secretary tillerson in charge here of negotiations. that makes us feel good. >> the united nations ambassador nikki haley said the united states in her words, is prepared to do whatever it takes when it comes to north korea. senator, is there realistically a military option? >> well, it's not a good option there. it's cliche now. there are no good options and it's also cliche to say all options have to be on the table. they do. we're in uncharted territory and we hope north korea will see the light and realize that the best path forward for them is to cease the testing and negotiate.
>> when you say -- when administration officials say all options are on the table, what does that mean, all options are on the table? the military option could lead to disaster, potentially thousands -- hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people killed. >> right. >> in the course of north korea's retaliation with conventional weaponry. >> that's right. i mean, with seoul so close to the dmz, it doesn't take long-range missiles. this is artillery that can hit. so, i think everyone knows the reality there, but would it be a worse situation to allow them to continue to test and have confidence that they could reach the west coast of the united states. and that's certainly not a good option. so i think the military options have to be on the table. nothing's good. >> if there is no realistic military option, what are the other options? >> well, the other options are that north korea will realize that its economy, that they
cannot continue -- they're still not there yet in terms of confidence that they can, you know, hit the targets they want to hit. and that obviously what they would like to do is be able to hit the united states, if for no other reason, than negotiating power. they're not there yet. and hopefully with us tightening down on sanction and if china really does cooperate and help there, the hope is that that turns them back. but there are no guarantees here. like i said, we have a leader there that everyone believes is unstable, and we just don't know what they will do. but i'm confident that we have the right leaders in charge in terms of general mattis and secretary tillerson. that makes us i think all feel better. >> what about president trump? >> well, i think he's put together a great cabinet and these -- particularly with regard to defense and state, so i feel good that these people are there. i really do.
>> you feel good that his cabinet, secretary of state and secretary of defense, national security advisor are all solid -- >> right. >> -- and strong, but do you have that same confidence in the commander in chief? >> well, obviously he's not been in this position before. nobody could hope to have been. he doesn't have military background or diplomatic background either. but he's put people, good people around him. i think no president comes in prepared for this kind of eventuality. so, i think it's a tough situation. we have good people negotiating, and i think we can feel as good as we could possibly expect at this point. but it's a tough situation, it really is. we don't -- we've never been here before. >> we've got a lot more to discuss, senator flake, including what you write about in your brand-new book, conscience of the conservative. we're to go through that. more on what's going on involving the president. let's take a quick break, resume this conversation right after this.
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return to principle. senator, i want to get to the book in a moment. first of all, do you think it's appropriate for the president to launch this twitter attack against senator richard blumenthal today? it went on and on. >> well, i don't think it's helpful. we in the senate, we have a 60-vote hurdle to pass almost anything or we need unanimous consent just to move ahead. and in order to be able to work with our colleagues across the aisle, it's tough if we get so personal with them. so, i don't think that it's helpful in terms of legislation moving ahead. >> but you couldn't even pass the, what's called the skinny repeal, anti-obamacare legislation with 50 votes. >> right. well, that's what i'm saying. i think we've reached about the limit of what we can do as one party. so, we're going to need to work with our colleagues across the aisle and it's difficult enough to do so. they've really obstructed putting together the president's
team on judges. they drug their feet. it's been tough enough without these kind of bromides against individual members of the senate. i would hope that we can settle down and work with one another. >> your new book, conscience of a conservative, has been making lots of waves as you well know, it's been seen as an anti-trump book. but here's the question some folks are now asking, senator. i want to give you a chance to respond. why not come out with these opinions before the 2016 election? do you think if you had, you could have made more of a difference politically? >> well, i actually started writing this book long before donald trump became president. i argue in the book that this drift that the republican party has been on started long before. you know, we had the majority in 2001 when i got to congress. the majority in the house, the senate, and we also had the white house, and we lost it because i don't think we behaved
well as republicans. all the earmark spending and we basically abandoned the principle of limited government. i'm concerned now that the course that we're on with some issues like trade, with protectionism, and with populism, that we're similarly -- we're going to write ourselves out of the majority again. that's my concern. we've got to get back to traditional limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility. >> you've been asked, senator, if you've left the republican party. you' your party, you said no. but has your party left you? >> no, i think by and large, the party has been an mated by conservative principles. but i am concerned lately, populism -- you may be able to win an election with it, but it's not a real governing philosophy. and on free trade, i'm very concerned about the direction there. we are going to handicap our economic future if we don't
enter into bilateral and multi-lateral trade deals. we have globalized as a world. certainly it's happened, and the question is do we latch onto it and harness it, or are we left behind by it? and also on immigration, i think that we've got to be a more welcoming party. i was very heartened by the autopsy we did on the party and on our policies after 2012, and we seem to have abandoned that. and i think in the future we're going to need to get back to playing the game of addition rather than subtraction. >> the white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders pointedly was asked last week if the president was still considering helping to fund a $10 million challenge against you. i want you to listen to what she said. listen to this. >> i'm not sure about any potential funding of a campaign, but i think that senator flake would serve his constituents much better if he was less focused on writing a book and attacking the president and passing legislation.
>> all right. i want you to respond. go ahead. >> well, i can't be concerned with what the president is going to do. i have to just be concerned with what i'm going to do. in arizona we have a history of electing independent-minded republicans. barry gold water and john mccain, just two examples. and i think that my constituents expect me not to be a rubber stamp for any president. i didn't always agree with george w. bush. i voted against his no child left behind and the prescription drug benefit. and i expect to vote against this president when i think he's wrong and vote with him when i think he's right. >> statistics show, by the way, you voted with him so far at least 94, 95% of the time. but you do disagree with him on certain policies. what's the biggest difference that you have with the president? >> well, with regard to how often i voted with the president, most of what the senate does in the first six months is vote on the
president's cabinets or in this case the supreme court pick and other judges. i've always felt that presidents ought to have leeway to put together their team, and i've supported president trump with regard to neil gorsuch, great pick. he's got a great cabinet around as we talked about before. but i do have big disagreements on trade. he talked in the campaign about ripping up nafta. i'm glad they seem to have backed off on that, but that would be very detrimental to the country, and specifically to arizona. on immigration, the immigration package put forward last week i think is in the wrong direction. having a point system is fine. we did that in the bipartisan bill. but cutting legal immigration in half is not the right direction we need to go as a country. and then what was a muslim ban during the campaign became a travel ban. i think obviously a muslim ban would be against religious freedom principles we espouse, but a travel ban is just not helpful in terms of our own
national security. that list that was put together was not based on national security needs. i think it will be detrimental in terms of national securiy because we can't ascribe radical jihadist views to every muslim, or people who come from countries that have been come prepro miezed -- compromised by terrorism. i think that's the wrong way to go. >> senator jeff flake, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> his new book is called conscience of the conservative, a return to principle. why the president keeps going after democratic senator richard blumenthal. does he need more to stay busy on his working vacation? and vladimir putin's vacation scrapbook, are the photos of his fishing trip in siberia designed to send a message to president trump?
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collusion when he was a vietnam con artist. he told story about his vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was. it was all a lie. he cried like a baby, he begged for forgiveness, he cried like a child. now he judges collusion. why is he doing this? >> they must not have indoor golf in the northeast. i presume he has a lot of time on his hands. if you look at this, there is one aspect of this if you're trying to be an optimist which i would not be, typically to say in the past he would have gone after the department of justice as he would have done, as his attorney general. after the special counsel. at least he's chosen the member of the owe mowsing party so chief of staff and other people in the party say if you have to vent, and this guy has to vent, please don't vent at the people running the investigation and please don't vent at other republicans. go after a democrat. i think it's sort of a step up from the third grade to the 5th grade, but that's optimism. >> does it make -- does it seem
to you, jamie, jamie gandel, the new white house chief of staff general kelly is able to reel him in on this vacation? >> well, general kelly is a tough guy. if anyone could do it, he can. but don't expect a miracle, wolf. kelly has made, no question everyone tells me, a noticeable positive impact on the president, the oval office, decorum, on the schedule, on the recent visit to the white house a republican source who knows the chief of staff was saying that he was keeping the president on schedule, and that the oval office was no longer filled with people sitting around or running around. so, there is some discipline. emphasis on the word some. and even the president jokes about it. but as far as the tweeting is concerned, even though general kelly has said that he would
like to guide the tweets, i think that he's a reasonable man and certainly after today he knows there is a limit to what he can do, wolf. >> there certainly is. you know, rebecca, is it a positive sign from the white house perspective that the president is going after democrats right now as opposed to fellow republicans? >> well, sure. i mean maybe that's setting the bar a little bit low for the president, that he wouldn't be attacking his own party and his own interests. sure, republicans are going to be happy as long as he's not going after them and going after democrats. i think his allies in the republican party and in the white house would still prefer that the president is doing some more strategic attacks on twitter as opposed to going after blumenthal personally on his vietnam service record. those sorts of things aren't necessarily productive from a strategic standpoint for the president. he's not talking about policy, about legislation, anything that could help him politically potentially. but i don't think republicans should necessarily be popping
any champagne just yet or rod rosenstein for that matter, or jeff sessions because, as we know from looking at donald trump's tweets over the past months and year, he does tend to go back and forth, and he might not target republicans one day, but tomorrow it's always a new day with donald trump. >> he's going after the news media. one tweet he tweeted early earlier, hard to believe the 24/7 fake news on cnn, abc, cbs, washington trump base is getting stronger. then he tweeted why aren't the news organizations reporting about north korea, the u.n. security council resolution that passed 15-0. well, fact is we have been reporting about it since it happened on saturday. >> yes, we have. repeatedly and consistently. it's an easy target. like they've been saying, go after democrats safely without getting involved in the investigation in an appropriate way. the media is a useful foil for him for any time he has to get something off his chest.
i'll tell you, general kelly, i know very well and he is doing exactly what i would expect him to do in terms of processes and procedures there. but i don't even think he believes it's in his mandate or capability to try to change the president and his twitter habit. >> everybody stick around. there is more coming up. we're going to talk about the vice-president mike pence and his heated denial that he's launching what's called a shadow presidential campaign for 2020. did he protest, though, too much? it's ok that everybody ignores me when i drive. it's fine. because i get a safe driving bonus check every six months i'm accident free. because i don't use my cellphone when i'm driving. even though my family does, and leaves me all alone. here's something else... i don't share it with mom. i don't. right, mom? i have a brand new putter you don't even know about! it's awesome. safe driving bonus checks, only from allstate. sometimes i leave the seat up on purpose. switching to allstate is worth it. ♪ whoa that's amazing...
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we're back with our analysts and specialists on this the 200th day of the trump presidency with new questions sirlg about the gop ticket already in 2020. jayme, as you know, "the new york times" published a story over the weekend about a republican shadow campaign for 2020 in case president trump doesn't run for a second term. the story named republicans senator ben sass, senator tom cotton, governor john kasich, and vice-president mike pence as a potential candidate. he slammed the report. today's article in "the new york times" is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and my entire team. my entire team will continue to focus our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him reelected in 2020. any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd. so, you've been talking to your republican sources about this. what are they telling you?
>> so, wolf, you know, there is an old expression that no vice-president ever wants to be seen as measuring the curtains for the oval office. and i'm told that vice-president pence -- and we've heard this for months -- is especially sensitive about following protocol and going to great lengths to make sure he doesn't overstep his role. and that message that you just read was really for an audience of one, i think. it was for donald trump. he wanted to say loud and clear that he is loyal, that he's not coming after his job, and that he is not running a shadow campaign. that said, i think it's also interesting to note we were told by a senior republican official today that the white house had a heads up that this article was coming and pence's office believes that trump was not angry at pence about this because -- because he saw it coming. but this is not going to go
away. as you said, wolf, it's day 200. it hasn't exactly been a smooth ride. so, whether it's vice-president pence or senator sass, cotton, you know, they are going to be raising money, visiting new hampshire and iowa. they may say it's to help other republicans or for their reelection campaign. but i think if you're politically ambitious and you want to run for president some day, this is what you do and it's not going to go away, wolf. >> certainly not. phil mudd, how do you see this, the vice-president with that very angry response? >> boy, a little bit over the top. it reminds me of going into senior year of high school and saying, mom, i'll try as hard as i ever have, which of course was a lie. but i think -- i believe what the vice-president is saying. i think he served as a good vice-president. you cannot avoid rumors in this town, though, about what it would be like to have a president pence, if anything were to ever happen to trump. i do believe that the language
that came out in the pence statement is critical. we have a president that's over the top. that language was over the top and i think he's speaking man-to-man to a president who likes language like, this is it's washington. it happens. it's not a big deal. >> john kirby, he says disgraceful to me, my family, my entire team. what's your reaction? >> using size 12 to kill the cockroach again and again and again. i've never responded to stories like that, never had to but i do understand where they are coming from from a pr perspective and, as jamie said, rightly the statement was for an audience of one. yes, it drew more attention to the story but it was going to get attention anyway and this was a way to be very declare tif. >> rebecca, we're paying attention to it now because of the reaction from the vice
president. >> and the reaction today has been to bash "the new york times." you haven't seen anything about pence. he doesn't believe this reporting. it's worth noting, also, that the reporting done by "the new york times," they don't question the quality of that because these reporters did a very good job but it's worth noting that there may be other motives here. it's likely if the president doesn't approve, he could face a primary. so he and his team, mike pence, would need those connections in iowa, these early primary states moving forward. it's also possible that mike pence could be interested in running for president in 2024 or later. there's more going on here than what meets the eye. >> there certainly is. a tale of two vacations. vladimir putin releasing pictures of a rugged fishing excursion in siberia while president trump hits the lakes.
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tonight, it's putin versus trump on vacation. the russian leader showing off his fishing skills and more. phil mudd is in siberia. he's shirtless swimming, showing off and some are suggesting, as you well know, he's sending a message to president trump. >> i'm paying 20 bucks down that the president doesn't take that message. i don't think we're going to see him shirtless on the green.
i think there are two messages. one is to the russians themselves. if you look at his approval ratings, they are sky high. he does this stuff every year. the power image, it relates to ukraine, crimea, siberia and relates to him going around scuba diving and i think it's a message, i'm a tough guy and if you want to threaten me, you're not going to get to me. i'm the big guy on campus. >> what do you think, jamie? what message is putin sending? >> it's august. he does this every august. and we play it every august but i do think that, you know, these are two men who are good at sending messages but in very different ways. every august, putin takes off his shirt. i will note that while donald trump did a lot of tweeting today, the white house, last i checked, had not released any photos of him on vacation.
i'll leave it there, wolf. >> we've seen a few pictures of him in his golf attire out there at the country club but certainly not a whole lot of pictures. what do you think? >> yeah, i think there's actually a valid point here. he brought a camera crew with him to go fishing and hiking and then had the video, you know, go viral. certainly there was a pr tactic here. but look, i also think this is his breakup video. the bromance is over and he's trying to show everybody, i've moved on. i'm fishing. i don't need the united states. >> if you compare, though, donald trump's approach to taking vacations, clearly he doesn't want to send the message that he takes vacations. he doesn't really allow the press to see him in vacation mode. and he's tweeted on numerous occasions before that he wouldn't take vacations as president and said this as well, that he wouldn't take vacations as president because he loves working too much and so you can see putin wanting to send a different message. he has time for leisure, has
time for fun. president trump likes to project himself as a work a haholic. >> the president is having a good time himself. >> he has a right to have a good time and i think all of this criticism about going up there, having worked in washington, have fun for two weeks but don't criticize future presidents for playing golf. enjoy your time off. >> he used to be very critical of president obama for going to hawaii and someplace else on vacation and now he's 17 days up in new jersey. >> the two things i've learned is that his prior tweets, before he was in office, were very interesting and very irrelevant. it doesn't seem to matter whatever he tweeted before just doesn't apply anymore. >> very quickly, jamie, a final thought? >> look, this is, i think, a very interesting timing on putin's part just because of what's happened in the relationship and with all of the
friction going on right now. so it's -- you know, there is a message there, absolutely. >> guys, thanks very much. later tonight on this day 200 of the presidency, cnn's special report will air "why trump won," cnn's fareed zakaria. join him for an investigation on the president's victory. 9:00 p.m. eastern here on cnn. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, addicted to twitter, the president just can't stop attacking the media and a sitting u.s. senator. twitter helped get him in the office. will it also do him in? plus, president trump frustrated with what is going on in afghanistan and calling on eric prince of blackwater for advice. and an uproar over a google engineer saying that women are not suitable to be engineers. good evening. addicted. the president