tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN November 20, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
usaa members for life. usaa, get your insurance quote today. welcome back. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke bolduan. thank you for being with me. we are watching very closely that white house podium waiting to see sarah sanders. a briefing is expected to begin any moment now. we also just got some breaking news in to cnn on the republican tax reform effort. so our senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny is here to join me with that news. the president has now won over one more of those republican senators. who is he? >> senator rand paul, the republican from kentucky, tells our lauren fox that he is likely to support the tax plan moving through the senate. of course, that is important.
the white house is keeping an eye on every republican vote. it is uncertain if they have enough and of course, they can only lose two republican senators, and rand paul saying he will likely support this is something that the white house is going to be happy about, but the caveat is he's likely to support this if it has the repeal of the health care mandated and that is by far from a done deal yet because what they're trying to do is find support across the sea of republicans who are uncertain on this. so rand paul is a likely supporter of this, but brooke, with the senate out this week for the thanksgiving break not coming back until next week, this is going remain an open question throughout the week if there are enough republicans to support this plan. of course, senator ron johnson, republican of wisconsin said he will not support in the current form, susan collins remaining skeptical of this, so it certainly is something that the white house is watch, but again, will not be resolved until, of course, the senate reconvenes next week. >> i'll come back to youshgs and
quick analysis with our political reporter david chalian. the caveat is the individual mandate remains in he's a yes, but if it remains in and we have the senator baseball card on the screen, other senators will be out. >> like that one from maine, susan collins who expressed the mandate repeal being a part of the tax bill, brooke. as you know, this is what it's all about when counting vote, right? you have to figure out what needs to be there in order to get the 51 votes they need. when you take rand paul's yes or likely yes because of the individual mandate, you begin to understand why the individual mandate repeal was put into the bill to begin with which is that some on the right and conservative side of the equation may affect concerns about adding to the deficit and the debt with this bill and perhaps it wasn't as targeted to the middle class as they'd hoped, but when you get the key core principal of stripping
await individual mandate and obamacare you can start to assuage concerns on the right and that's a much bigger pot of votes for mitch mcconnell to wrangle than perhaps getting susan collins from maine. >> these are the wild cards and we'll get more under these senators in a second and let me pivot back to jeff zeleny here. there was also big news from the president on north korea, putting north korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror. this was the president earlier today and what he said about this key decision. >> as we take this action today, our thoughts turn to otto warmbier, a wonderful young man and the countless others so brutally affected by the north korean oppression. this designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on north korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the
murderous re murderous regime that you've all been reading about and in some cases writing about. >> you heard the president mention this young man, on the poe warmbier. a university of virginia student who died after being released to the u.s. after being imprisoned for 17 months and his parents sat with me and spoke with me in september about why they believe the kim regime should be labeled a state sponsor of terror. >> now we see north korea with the intentions claiming to be a victim and they're claiming that the world is picking on them and we're here to tell you, as witnesses to the terror of their regime, north korea is not a victim. so we felt it was time to tell the truth about the condition that otto was in. >> a perfectly healthy, young american visiting there, an
innocent young american comes home with severe brain damage, but it's not like it happened and they shipped him home immediately. it's a year later. these people are terrorists, kim and his regime intentionally injured otto. >> so jeff zeleny, just for people at home trying to understand, when we know and he wants to designate north korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, what does that really mean? >> it means it is just one more way for the u.s. to tighten the noose on the north korean regime. it's one more way to initiate sanctions with what the treasury department will do and we'll listen to sarah sanders, brooke. >> here she is. >> good afternoon. thank you guys for being patient with us. i brought a special guest. i figured you'd be okay if we were delayed today. the president hosted a productive cabinet meeting this morning and made news by announcing that the united states has again designated north korea as a state sponsor
of terrorism. as the president said one of the primary goals of the asia trip was to pursue the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. this designations will impose penalties on north korea that will continue our progress toward that goal. additionally, it is a reminder that north korea has repeatedly supported actions of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil. the president's position is the north korean regime must be lawful. it must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development and cease all support for international terrorism. this afternoon we have secretary of state rex tillerson with us to answer some of your questions on this topic. he's going to come up and make a couple of remarks and then take questions on that topic and as always, i will be back after that to answer other news of the day. with that, mr. secretary? >> thanks, sarah. as sarah indicated, the president did make the designation earlier today and
announced it in the cabinet meeting, and i think it's really just the latest step in a series, as you can see, ongoing steps to increase the pressure. i call it the peaceful pressure campaign and the president calls it the maximum pressure campaign. so there's no confusion, they're one in the same. i think this is to hold north korea accountable for a number of actions that they've taken over the last several months, the last year or so. some of you will know that north korea was a state sponsor of terrorism in 1988 so they have been designated before. that designation was lifted in 2008 as part of an effort to negotiate with north korea, an end to their nuclear program. that obviously failed because we can see where we are today. >> but as a result of actions they've taken and the assassinations outside of their country using banned chemical weapon, these are all very, very
serious aks on their part that put the public at risk, as well and that as well as a number of actions designate them as a state sponsor of terrorism. as sarah indicated, we already have these actions in place through the current sanctions and it may disrupt and dissuade some third parties from undertaking activities with north korea as it does impose prohibition on a number of activities that might not be covered by existing sanctions, but importantly, this is just continuing to point out north korea's illicit, unlawful behaviors internationally and we thought it necessary to re-impose the designation for that reason. so with, that i'm happy to take questions. i'm going to let sarah referee because i'm no good at refereeing. >> thank you. thank you, sir.
is this move an intent to incentivize kim jong-un to negotiate? do you think that that timetable is in any way promising and why wait until we are back in the u.s.? the president said it was diplomacy in asia and this seems to be counter to that. >> no. we still hope for diplomacy, and this is -- the timing of this is just one of us concluding the process. there is a very specific designation process that we have to go through at the state department to be able to meet the criteria to make such a designation and we wanted to ensure that we'd fully met all of those requirements and this is all part of continuing to turn this pressure up and we continue to turn the pressure up on north korea by getting other countries to join and take actions on their own. we've had other countries and our visit to vietnam. they have committed that they're going to curtail activities further with north korea, and
malaysia has it, and singapore has cut off trade and the philippines have cut off all trade. the secretary of state was in africa and he had meetings with the sued sneeze government. the sudanese government has agreed to buy and they've halted those purchases, as well. it's taken effect all around the world and we're thinking as it takes effect, this just continues to tighten the pressure the kim regime all with an intention to have him understand this is only going to get worse until you are ready to come and talk. >> is there a 50-day window? >> we're hopeful that he continues this quiet period. that's our objective that he continue to be quiet, as well. this designation, as i said, is one that we're required to undertake from time to time, and we've been monitoring the situation. we wanted to be sure we had sufficient evidence before making the designation. so this is a process that started actually several months
ago. >> you mentioned increasing regional pressure. do you have any indication that it's working and if you haven't seen the indication just yet, how long do you go down this path before the administration -- >> we have a lot of anecdotal information and we do have intelligence sources as well. what the chinese and others share with us that i think the general belief is it is having a significant effect on north korea. bee we know that there are current shortages of fuel based upon what we can gather from anecdotally and also from certain intel sources. we know that their revenues are down because a number of the revenue streams are being curtailed now. so i think it is having an effect. is this the reason we haven't had a provocative act in 60 days and i don't want to suggest to
you, that i can say. we are hopeful this period can continue, and i think the president and his address and south korea, he laid out the case very well for them this they wanted him to have talks because he wanted to deliver a different future to the people of north korea. >> thank you. can you give us an example of a third-party transaction that is not covered by your existing american connections or the u.n. security council keckconnection? >> there could be dual-use equipment that this would have the third-party use, i don't want to suggest to you that the designation is something that will put a whole new layer of sanctions on them because i think again, we already have north korea so heavily sanctioned in so many ways with the u.n. resolutions that have been undertaken, but this will close a few additional loopholes off.
>> you and president bush refer to assassinations plural. can you give us another example of another assassination attempt, as well? >> i don't have anything that i can share with you specifically. >> sir, the unilateral u.s. sanctions on the way, the treasury -- have you given up on china? >> we've not given up, and let me say this with china. we continue to talk with them, first to ensure that they are fully committed to implementing the u.n. sanks and they have assured us they are. if you'll recall the last round of sanctions imposed a pretty severe restriction on the product so fuels and petroleum dyessel a diesel and what not. you control the pipeline that feeds their refinery. you know, you can do that unilaterally if you want to
increase that pressure. whether they're doing that or not, we don't know and it's very difficult for us to know whether they're taking actions to cur pail all supplies to them. >> secretary, earlier today president trump said the treasury department will be announcing additional sanctions on the very large, one of the highest level of sanctions. can you give us any insight into what those individual sanctions may be? >> i would like to leave it to treasury to announce those tomorrow. they're similar to sanctions we've taken in the past. we're just going out much more broadly now to more entities and i would like to leave it tomorrow on their announcement and not jump the gun on them. >> do you all see today's announcement as more symbolic or something that does have a lot of teeth to it? >> i think it is very symbolic on the one hand because it just points out again what -- what a rogue regime this is and how brutal this regime is and how
little they care for the value of human life. so that in and of itself makes a strong statement as the nature of this regime and the practical effects may be limited, but hopefully we're closing off a few loopholes with this. [ inaudible ] >> if china does not agree to cut off oil to north korea, how can you possibly get enough pressure on them to come to the table? >> their fuel supplies are already quite constrained, and as i said, we have evidence that there are fuel shortages in north korea. obviously, the civilians are buying, the ones that can't get fuel. so we see long lines of vehicles at petrol stations. we see certain petrol stations that appear to be out of fuel because they're closed when normally they'd be open, so there are indications that fuel supplies are already quite tight. as you know, they only have one
refinery that operates and it operates at a low capacity so they were heavily dependent on the imports of finnish fuel products that have been constrained significantly with the sankctions. >> i don't know that oil that the cutting off of oil is the magic wand or silver bullet that is going to bring them to the table. what i will say is the north koreans have demonstrated in the past they have an enormous capacity to withstand a lot. they'll make the people pay and they have an enormous capacity to withstand a lot. i don't want to say that one action is all it would take to get them to the table. >> margaret? entreprene [ inaudible ] i want to pick up on the next question on the assassination. how determinant was that in the
specific evidence that you make this determination and i also wanted to ask you, and i think you and ambassador haley had unusual items today. can you tell us about that meeting and anything of substance? >> on the assassination in malaysia was a significant event that caused us to really begin to look carefully at what else they might have been doing. as you know, that assassination involved the use of a chemical agent, a very dangerous agent in a public place. and so that really got our attention. one of the things that we wanted to ensure is we had a sufficient certainty around their role in that particular assassination so we've been working with malaysian authorities and have been in conversation with them. i wanted to let them have their own process obviously play out, as well. with respect to ambassador haley and i we were both in the cabinet meeting today.
>> there have been suggestions from the north korean media about a violent threat, was that a determinant fact in making the designation? >> no. [ inaudible question ] >> you talked about using a chemical agent, russia was accused of using polonium in london. >> i think we have to consider any country that would take a substance like that and use it illegally. >> is there something like that going on right now? >> i don't want to comment on that. >> thank you, mr. secretary. two quick questions for you. how do you balance the impact of sanctions? you talked about the people of north korea paying the price. is this something that you are considering when you are talking about more sanctions against the regime? >> well, it is always a
difficult choice you make in terms of who will really bear the burden here. the truth of the matter is the people of north korea already live under enormously difficult conditions and what we're focused on is a mission that will change north korea's trajectory and change their path. that's the best way we can help the north dorian people in the future is to have kim jong-un reverse his nuclear weapons program and allow us and the rest of the world to engage with them in economic activity that will ultimately provide a better life for his people. >> in my follow-up question, do you believe the united states is running out of diplomatic options to respond to the nuclear threats of north korea? >> no, i do not. >> time for one last question. in the back? >> thank you, mr. secretary. you talked about the limited intelligence on north korea and on the regime. is there any evidence within pyongyang at all or possibly
reaction against the current government by other members of the kim family even or other opponents to him? >> well, i want to be a little careful about how i answer that, and what i would comment on is you're well aware of a number of executions that have occurred. >> yes. >> -- within his inner circle and the military people that are close to him so i'll leave it to your own interpretation. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> thank you. >> hold on. we'll get to some more questions. >> i know that there is, obviously, a lot of interest today. thank you again to secretary of state for coming in and answering questions. as many of you today shift gears on some happier notes. i'm sure a lot of you have
started to notice that the christmas season has officially arrived here at the white house. this afternoon the first lady and barron trump will receive a beautiful 19-foot christmas tree which will serve as the official christmas tree on display in the blue room. the tree will arrive via horse drawn wagon and will be presented by jim and diane chapman and their son david of silent night evergreens of wisconsin. the chapmans were grand champion winners of the 2017 national christmas tree contest sponsored by the national christmas tree association. the ncta has presented the official white house christmas tree since 1966. the grand champion grower wins the privilege of presenting the tree to the white house and we're excited to have him -- have them here today for the 52nd time. as you probably also know, we have some other holidays like thanksgiving coming up and this will be our last press briefing before the thanksgiving holiday in this room. so i want to share a few things that i'm thankful for and i
think it would be nice for you guys to do so, as well, before asking your questions. obviously, you probably know and it's no secret that i'm clearly very thankful for all of you here in the room, and i think that goes without saying, but in all seriousness, i'm very thankful for my family, my faith, particularly thankful for the brave men and women for the military and many of them who are away from their families during the holidays protecting the freedoms that those of us in this room that we enjoy and i'm thankful first police and first responders who keep us safe at home and for the incredible privilege of serving this president and the american people. so this is how it's going to work today since i'm here and i get to call on you, if you want to ask a question, i think it's only fair since i've shared what i'm thankful for that you start off with what you're thankful for. anybody want to be first on what they're thankful for? >> april, you've been so eager,
so i'm going go with you on what you are most thankful for. >> i'm thankful for life. i'm thankful for my children. i'm thankful for my children for 20 years in this job and i'm thankful to question you every single day. >> feel the gratefulness there. >> now my question, i hope you felt the passion of my comment. so the question is, if i didn't get to ask secretary tillerson, there is a black hole when it comes to intelligence when it involves north korea, and he was saying things will get worse until they're ready to talk. with that said the rhetoric is still amping up. what is the concern with the intelligence we do not know about. what do we know with the nuclear capability of north korea.
>> the biggest concern is we take steps every single day to protect americans that's the action that he's taken today and that the treasury department will take tomorrow is putting that maximum pressure north korea to put a very large focus on denuclearizing the korean peninsula. that is the top priority. we don't feel that we're fully there yet and we want to keep pushing to make sure that we're taking steps to prevent them from getting any further into this process. i can't go really deep into specifics on information like that, but certainly again, the right or priority of the administration is to protect americans and partner with our allies and our friends around the globe to do that and i think that's what you're seeing in the actions that you'll see take place today and you'll see tomorrow. >> on this back and forth twitter with the president -- >> sorry, april, i have to keep moving. >> i'm sure that one of your colleagues will happily ask --
>> does he regret his tweet? he came there twice yesterday. >> i'm starting to regret calling on you first. >> i'm talking to you. >> i am, but i don't want that to go away so i'll move on to one of your colleague. francesca, go ahead. >> i'm very thankful for you calling on me, but i will follow your lead and is he thankful for the -- [ inaudible ] i want to ask today about something that kellyanne conway said this morning on "fox & friends" about the alabama senate race. the democrat running in that race would not be a vote for tax cuts and she did not directly endorse the republican running roy moore, however it opened the door to a question that we haven't discuss side whether the president would be supportive of a write-in campaign of someone
like strange who he supported in the primary or jeff sessions and both of those are going around? >> actually, we have addressed those. i've addressed it quite a few times, but the president feels that it is up to the people of alabama to make that determination who their next senator will be. i've answereded a number of questions on this topic and our position hasn't changed over the weekend and it's the same as when i answered those questions on thursday and friday. >> you said whether he would support a write-in campaign. >> he supported the people of alabama selecting who their next senator should be. >> i'm thankful for my health, my family and my faith. i think i live in the best country on the face of the earth. >> isn't this nice? >> i'm thankful that you address us every day here in the briefing room. my question is also about the senate race in alabama. this is san unusual question because normally we wouldn't ask you about the republican nominee
running for statewide office and whether or not the president is supportive of the republican nominee, but my question is just that. would you be pleased if roy moore wins his senate race in alabama? would the white house be pleased with that outcome? >> obviously, the president wants people both in the house and the senate that support his agenda, but as i've said, and as it prohibits me from going further, we think this is something that the people of alabama should decide and i'm not going to be able to weigh in anything further beyond those comments. blake? >> thank you, sarah. i'm thankful for my wife who is pregnant. >> congratulations. very exciting! >> thankful for my family, my parents -- >> good luck. >> i'm thankful they sent me to the university of michigan and not ohio state. go blue. get that out there. my question is on taxes, as
well. the president seemed to suggest today that the democratic health is all, but gone for. do you think still you can get depp democrats onboard? >> we certainly still like to. frankly, i don't know why democrats wouldn't want to support tax cuts for the middle class, as we said many times before, it seems like something they should be running to cast their vote for and we certainly welcome their support if they want to get onboard and help that effort. >> i am thankful for the first amendment. >> ooh, yeah! >> kellyanne conway. >> think we all are. >> kellyanne conway, i want to ask it a different way because she was here on the north lawn, and she said that she wore an alabama voters not to support doug jones, not to be fooled by doug jones. is that the position of this white house that voters are better off voting for someone accused of assaulting teenage girls than a democrat? >> look, as i've answered i think even for the third or
fourth time just today as well as ten or 15 times on both thursday and friday of last week, the position of the white house hasn't changed and we feel the people of alabama should make a determination on who the next senator should be. >> i'm giving you the position of the white house. jim? >> first, i'm grateful for my daughter and my family and the fact that i went to ohio state university as opposed to michigan. >> we'll let that slide. >> my question is does the president really regret, in the case of the ucla players and what message does that send to the citizens held captive by foreign governments? >> the president was thankful to see the release of the u kcla athletes. it's fortunate that the president has built a strong enough relationship with president xi from china that he was able to secure the release of the american citizens. whenever the president is able
to use his office and those relationships to help american citizens held overseas, he is certainly going to do that, and again, certainly the president was happy to intervene, and i think he's made that clear by taking that action upon himself to do that without being asked and certainly something that he's done several times in these brief, short, ten months that he's been in office where he's secured the release of several american citizens and brought them home. steve? >> sarah, i'm thankful for surviving our 12 days in asia in one piece. happy to be back here. the president has not made a weekly radio broadcast for more than a month now. have they been scrapped by this administration and if so, why? >> no. we're always looking for different ways. we received quite a few comments and a lot of feedback that the
weekly address warrasn't being d to its full potential and we're looking for ways to revamp that and make it more beneficial and we'll keep you guys posted as those details happen. i know there certainly will be a thanksgiving message be. i'm not sure on the specific date, but i would be happy to follow up with you that front. >> i have a question and i want to ask you about welfare reform. has he talked to roy moore since the accusations came out? >> not that i'm aware of. not aware of any conversations. >> the president said welfare reform is desperately needed and it needs to be reformed, what exactly is he talking about? is he talking about medicaid? what is he talking about exactly? >> i think there's no secret the president spoke about this during the campaign and something that he's mentioned briefly since taking office and when we have specifics on what
that will look like we'll certainly announce them and roll them out. i don't anticipate that happening over the next couple of weeks and we're focused on tax reform and making sure we get that done over the end of the year and this is something that the president has a great deal of interest in and you can count on the first part of next year seeing detail comes out on that. >> you mentioned, on friday the president will release a list of potential portions of it, number one, if you -- you did break the rule with saying what you're thankful for. [ inaudible question ] also, if you address concerns about the usual picks and not the supreme court and the judiciary and talk about how the white house values or doesn't value diversity among -- [ inaudible ] >> certainly value diversity not
just in the judiciary, but across the administration and always looks for more ways to grow that and improve that, but in terms of the release on friday, the president hadn't added any new names in nearly a year and tifelt like it was a gd time to do that and nothing more than expanding the list and should there ever be a potential vacancy to fill. >> it flags administrations. [ inaudible ] >> i would have to look at the specifics before i can comment on it. sorry. margaret? >> thank you. i'm thankful for the first amendment and for the -- >> preparation for everybody for thursday with your family so that you guys would have already thought through what you're thankful for so you'll be the most prepared. >> yes. >> exactly. >> and the president or the
white house actively encourage the justice department to move forward with the antitrust suit against time warner. >> no. i'm not aware of any specific action taken by the white house snap do you have a view on that -- >> would you have any statement about that? >> not that the time. >> i'll go first. >> my gratitude. i'm grateful to have the opportunity to fill in for our chief john roberts and i'm grateful to only have a month left. bun in the oven and my first and i've got a lot to learn. my question is about the ucla basketball players and president trump over the weekend, he called them ungrateful and i'm just curious because they'd apologized in the briefing last week and whatmore would president trump like to see from them? what would satisfy him?
>> the president, like i said, was happy to intervene. i think it was less about the players than the father of one of the americans releasing to have a problem with it. frankly, it didn't seem like the father wanted the president to intervene which i think would have been a sad thing if he hadn't, most likely. matthew? >> does he want -- does he believe that he really should have left the players in jail? >> no, i think if that's the case he wouldn't have taken the action that he did and certainly acted in order to help get those individuals released and brought back to the country. matthew? >> so following on that, if -- that's not how he feels then why did he say that he should have left them in jail? >> look, the president was -- it was a rhetorical response to a criticism by the father. again, i think the president was happy to see the release of these individuals and have them back in the united states. i'll take one last question. >> john? >> thank you, sarah.
i'm thankful for the position i have and the colleagues who are my friends. i'm thankful for my father, 96 years old and going strong, and to my wife, my heroine, thankful to her for saying yes on the fourth request. my question is about zimbabwe. [ laughter ] what a segue! >> that's the best pivot i've ever seen. would the president recognize the new regime led by general in zimbabwe and will there be any interaction with the new government in hariri, specifically about their cutting back on the influence of china and north korea? >> i don't have any announcements on our relationship with zimbabwe at this time, but certainly will
make sure and keep you guys posted. again, i want to wish everyone a happy thanksgiving and thank you for participating in this very fun exercise. we'll be around today and tomorrow. thanks, guys. all right. so there you have sarah sanders and a lot of giving thanks there in that white house briefing room, but let's begin, though, with someone who we rarely really see, let alone briefing the president was secretary of state rex tillerson taking questions from the white house press corps specifically on the news today that the trump administration has decided to agree to designate north korea as a state sponsor of terror employ. i have michelle kosinski and david chalian all with me, and a couple of points just on the practical effect. it seemed like the secretary of state was maging the point that we have those actions in place and implicit on this designation and this is for dissuading third
parties from interactions with north korea. first, david, just on rex tillerson and the bizarre last couple of months starting with the, you know, moron comment directed toward the president. what do you make of him and his appearance and where we are today? >> starting with that and culminating last week his spokesperson indicating that there was indeed a problem with morale there at the state department. so, yes, there is the fascination to watch the secretary of state who does not seem all that close to the president he serves in the briefing room speaking there from the white house, but i do think on the substance of what he was saying, brooke, what was so interesting to hear him say is that while they were touting this new diplomatic step of re-asserting this status for north korea, he made clear this was not the end of the road of diplomatic options and that this was just one in a series of
steps to continue to ratchet up pressure, but by no means did he want it to be perceived that this was an ultimate, exasperated moment of some final bit of diplomacy. >> michelle, to david's point on friday saying, you know, it's acknowledging publicly that the poor morale at stake. can you tell me more about that? >> i think that the secretary of state would acknowledge that himself and he didn't deny it today when we asked him a question specifically about that, but he did want to take that moment to turn around and stay before cameras during this photo-op and say that he takes exception with anybody who feels that the state department is not running well. i mean, he made a strong statement on that, but again, not denying that there's a morale problem. he said that his re-design which has garnered some criticism and as seen by many as hurting morale is actually going to fix
the morale problem. so there are plenty of questions that remain, too. i think when you look at today, the dynamic here is always something to be watched. this afternoon just before he headed to the white house which was unexpected, at least, among the press people here at state, he was asked by members of the press about this north korea issue. we already knew what the mrz had stated earlier, but the secretary of state chose to remain completely silent on this while at the state department, before the state department press corps. he just turned around. he didn't even want to say i'm going to have something to say about this in just a few minutes. he said nothing about it then he appears before the white house press corps, and answers all kinds of questions. he even sort of tries to explain what is, in this case and in other cases a slight difference in language that he has with the president. he says that he calls it the increase the pressure campaign, acknowledging that the president calls it the maximum pressure
campaign. so he's saying that he has a slightly different view there, but he wanted to meld it all together and explain why he feels like this would be beneficial even though we all know there was some disagreement within the state department over whether this is a good idea. it tells you that this is policy being directed by the white house. the state department obviously did the work on this and completed the process of adding them to the list, but this, you know, it's very starkly obvious that this was not an idea that came from secretary of state tillerson or within the state department and may try to push this through. >> on the substance of the designation, sam, let me turn to you hearing essentially out of the gate the secretary of state saying this is all an effort to, quote, turn up the pressure and one of the reporters asked the perfect question saying we thought he was sitting in seoul speaking to the national assembly saying to north korea,
let's talk and come to the table and if you have the state-sponsored effort of north korea, how does it negate it? >> i don't think they're mutually exclusive. the president is wisely using his tools in the tool case. state-sponsored terrorism is -- while we try add credibility to an actual strike, i was struck by two things today in the secretary's press briefing. the first is he said this was a result of an inner agency process so we finally have a situation where the mrz is using his national security council and not making policy by tweets which i feel better about. >> a step in the right direction. >> indeed. i'll take it. >> secretary tillerson was pretty measured in how these sanctions would actually have an impact. he actually used the phrase there is no silver bullet, and i think that's smart. nothing by itself is going to
force north korea to denuclearize right now. i think it's going to be a combination of factors. >> made the note on the measured tone. i'm curious to see how the president potentially tweets about it. let me move on, david chalian. let's switch gears and talk about alabama and the senate race. the white house once again saying it's up to the people and the great state of alabama could be the ones to decide roy moore's fate. he is the candidate denying all of the allegations and sarah sanders was questioned on the comment by kellyanne conway saying they want moore to win to be able to use his vote for the tax bill. listen. >> doug jones in alabama, folks, don't be fooled. he'll be a vote against tax cuts. >> so vote roy moore? >> i'm telling you we want the votes in the senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through. >> so david chalian, it's about numbers and taxes, right? >> yes. and it's about this white house again trying to have it both
ways on this issue. they don't want to have the president out there demanding that roy moore step away in the way that mitch mcconnell has or everyone from mitch mcconnell all of the way from susan collins. that's a broad spectrum of the republican party there and everyone in washington here has been calling for that except president trump who obviously has his own troubled past with allegations against him and doesn't want to get cross waves with his own base who are supportive of moore as he was in the primary. so those two factors claim the reason why they don't want to weigh in on moore and yet they want to be able to sort of wink and nod as sarah sanders did today that they want a senator who supports president trump's agenda. as kellyanne was saying that she's making the case that doug jones is not that person. therefore, they kind of want someone who will support the president's agenda. there's only one person in the race who will do that and yet they don't want to be anywhere near roy moore and say leave it
up to the people of alabama and they're trying to have it both ways. >> so then the questions started coming on ucla, right? those three basketball players who were in trouble in china right around the time when the president happened to be over there visiting with president xi, accused of shoplifting some louis vuitton sunglasses and ended up getting tossed in detention and the president spoke to president xi and able to get them out and thanks to me for doing all of that program we've seen the press conference with the athletes and they said i'm sorry and thank you to president trump and the father has come out and criticized the president saying, i'm paraphrasing, maybe he doesn't deserve the credit that he's saying and so the president to the -- perhaps surprise of so many people, tweets about this and at the end of the tweet he says i should have left them in jail, and then you hear it was asked to sarah sanders and it was a note she kept going back to. the president was happy to intervene. happy to intervene and that was
simply a rhetorical response because of the criticism of the father. >> rhetorical response and that, of course, the president is happy that they're no longer in prison, right? >> yeah. >> so if the president is happy then why would he threaten that he should have left them there? oh, that's just a rhetorical response. so we're not supposed to take that seriously apparently, which i don't think many people really think that the president want are would want to leave americans in jail somewhere. he was clearly in a back and forth with the fact, as you suggested, but the notion that sarah sanders from the podium now has to separate out this is a rhetorical flourish of the president, again, this is the president of the united states who is writing in what we have told by this white house to consider an official white house statement a tweet that was threatening that perhaps the better outcome would leave them in jail. she this to walk that back and reverse the president's words because they knew that that went
too far. >> i'm going to use your point and put it to my next guest. david, thaw. >> let's talk more about this ucla story. with me now calvin washington, espn host and cnn contributor and michael diantonio, author of "the truth about trump." gentlemen, your appearance is mighty timely just having that white house press conference. michael diantonio, the way sarah sanders had to walk back the president saying should have left them in jail, oh, no, no, no. that was a rhetorical response. what did you think of that? >> i think we all have people in our lives and maybe some of them will come around on thanksgiving who say terrible things and then tell us oohit's a joke, and oh,, i'm just kidding. leave them in china, in prison -- oh, no, he's just kidding and this is the kind of
thing that narcissists who abuse situations indulge in all of the time. the president here is engaged in a game with mr. ball. mr. ball is a very astute, self-publicizing fellow. he knew how to get the president's attention. he does it for personal and probably financial gain. the president is signaling to his base. he always seems to attack people of color or women. he doesn't seem to be very inclined to attack white males, and i think that's a signal, but at the end of the day he's got sarah sanders going out and saying oh, he's just kidding. we can all read into it what we'd like and the president gets to play it every which way. >> all right. you med a couple of great points. let me pick them apart. first, calvin, to you on the
latter point about the president doesn't seem to have an inclination of criticizing or taking on white males. i mean, when you look at the theme, if you want to call it that, and i think it sort of seems to be you have these basketball players he's taken on, nfl players, you know, not these high-profile nba coaches, popovich, kerr or even most recently with the video of eminem not saying a word. why, do you think? >> it could be what michael pointed out or it also could be just simply who he deems, brooke, as people of power. for instance, you mentioned popovich. he is a powerful person within the nba. eminem, maybe one of the most popular rappers of all time, clearly he is. maybe people he deems have power and he does not want to challenge that. i'm not sure, but the idea that we have to dissect his words or dissect his tweet, that one was
a joke that shouldn't be the burden we have to carry. it should be that we're taking you at your word which i think it was very, very interesting the words that he chose to say about these players. brooke, i thought we were taught if you do something right out of kindness of your >> to say thank you. he said they better say thank you before their press conference where eventually they did thank him. so the idea that if my father in liangelo ball's case, he doesn't feel or show enough gratitude, that that somehow is an implication of how i feel when i've already told you i said thank you. now you want me to remain in jail. i can see how the players and other people would be offended by that. >> listen, i know what my mom taught me, maybe what your mom taught you about not needing all of the thanks, right? but not everyone is created equal. so there is that. then there is, you know, you mentioned lavar ball is the dad, right? who this is about a little bit lately, the father of one of those players.
so he told espn, what was trump over there for? don't tell me nothing. everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out. so i was reading more about this dad and one, you know, usa reporter called him the basketball equivalent of a kardashian for his relentless pursuit of the family's growing brand and many are suggesting these two actually have quite a bit in common. kelvin? >> well, they do. they do. they both know how to manipulate us, the media, they know how to use us to get out their points and their agenda. they definitely have that in common. what lavar ball has really done is start an empire. as michael was alluding to, he is a very shrewd businessman. starting it within their sons. they have a facebook television show, their own brand, big baller brand and they are trying to build upon this and grow upon this. one thing i will say, though, i don't often agree with some of the things he says or does, lavar ball from what it seems to be is a great father.
he seems to be highly interested in the development of his sons. he also seems to be there for his wife who suffered a stroke and he's personally rehabbing her back to health. you have to dissect the businessman who is kind of wwe, he'll say whatever just to get your attention and also the man himself who seems to be a great father. so i do want to acknowledge there is a distinction between the two. but they have that in common. if there is a camera and a microphone, they're going to say something. >> i got you. i'm sure folks would say the same about donald trump. kelvin and michael, thank you so much. good to see both of you. coming up next, late night in the age of donald trump. we'll take a look at cnn's special report. how the work of comedians has changed during the trump administration. we'll be right back.
by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth. if that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become? i'm tom steyer, and like you, i'm a citizen who knows it's up to us to do something. it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet today people in congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right. our country depends on it.
breaking news here. the justice department is set to file a lawsuit to block at&t's takeover of time warner. the parent company of us here at cnn. that is according to a source. the $85 billion acquisition announced a year ago. so let's go straight to brian stelter and bill carter to analyze some of this. but, brian, first to you, how unusual is it to have the federal government intervene? >> highly unusual. and this was completely unexpected when the deal was announced this time last year. so there's two narratives about what's going on. the first is that the justice department, which is going to announce this in about an hour, is going to say this deal is anti-competitive, that it gives at&t too much power over its rivals like verizon. that's one narrative. the other narrative is that this is personal and political. that president trump given his well-known animosity towards cnn is using this deal, using his government to punish cnn through time warner and at&t. those are the two competing narratives here and that is what
will be debating in court now. >> bill carter, how did we get here? >> well, it's interesting, i mean, the president when he was running for office said he was going to try to block this deal and he has openly expressed his hostility towards cnn. and, you know, we've heard the stories that cnn -- the sale of cnn was somehow brought up in these negotiations. so it's going to be very difficult for them to totally say this is unrelated. i'm sure they will say that. but it is a very unusual thing for a republican administration to take a position that is sort of anti-business. and that's what this would be seen as, certainly a democratic administration doing this would be more likely. this is a very highly unusual move as brian said. >> yeah, president bernie sanders would have seemed inclined to do something like this, where he would use antitrust law to try to challenge acquisitions. it's unusual, though, to see a republican administration doing this, but it has been expected for the past couple of weeks. there has been a real delay
attached to this deal, brooke, so the at&t executives i've been talking with have been preparing for this moment, preparing for litigation. they're going to release a statement later today. >> this is a vertical merger, right? which typically have been noncontroversy. >> what that means is a horizontal merger, when i have a channel, you have a channel and we merge. that would be horizontal. in this case, though, it's a vertical merger because at&t doesn't own any channels right now. it owns a lot of wireless customers' relationships. a lot of people in the country have at&t for their phones. so at&t wants to own channels. it wants to own time warner, which is cnn, hbo, tnt, tbs. they typically have been blessed and approved by the government usually with some conditions attached. that's why it comes as a surprise that donald trump's doj is interfering here. the antitrust chief has been laying the groundwork for this. they'll make their case this
afternoon and at&t will make their case and this will be fought out in the courts for at least the next several months to come. >> brian laid out two different narratives, two different ways to look at this. bill, my question to you is, of one narrative, if this is being done to hurt cnn, how does this hurt cnner and. >> well, it would only hurt cnn for at&t capitulated to this kind of pressure and said, okay, we're going to sell off that asset in order for this deal to be consummated. there is a strong feeling, though, that this is a very long shot by the government. a lot of lawyers have come forward and said they have a very difficult case to make. for the very reasons that brian spelled out. this is not a horizontal merger and i think they're going to have a hard time making that case. the fact that there is this other political aspect hanging over it only adds to the questionable aspect of it, it seems to me. >> brian, 30 seconds. how would that hurt cnn? >> i think there is a sense that delays gumming up the works, slowing a deal down, delaying
it, making it not happen at all. all of it would create this sense of a failure of time warner and at&t's part. it would be president trump sticking his thumb in it. again, that is just a theory. it's not something that has been proven in court, but at&t may well try to prove it. "the new york times" said this could be the antitrust case of the decade. >> brian stelter, bill carter, thank you. "the lead" with jim sciutto starts now. thank you, brooke. the u.s. moves. how will north korea react? "the lead" starts right now. president trump makes a move on north korea calling it a murderous regime. as he designates it a state sponsor of terrorism. but will the announcement make a difference against pyongyang? on the attack, president trump once again using twitter to tear into his opponents, but holding fire on roy moore and the sex abuse allegations against him. is the president's silence acceptable? and he haunted americans for