tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 10, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
tensions and disagreements boil oaf. how might mr. trump's form of policy change now that bolton is out? how will that be implemented? declining approval. cnn's exclusive new poll shows the president's job rating has dipped as 60% of americans now say he doesn't deserve to be re-elected. is he losing his best arguments for a second term? sources tell cnn that a spy extracted by the u.s. from russia had access to the kremlin leader and opportunities to see what was he was working on. stand by for more of our exclusive reporting. and dying from vaping? u.s. health officials warn after a sixth vape related death. should you or someone you love stop vaping now? we want to welcome our view ners the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room."
this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on the abrupt and bit exit of o national adviser, john bolton. president trump announcing in a tweet that bolton was fired citing his strong disagreements with many of his proposals. bolton said he resigned. after months of conflict, sources say they got into a heated argument over trump's canceled plan the host taliban leaders at camp david. bolton reportedly opposed the idea. also breaking. cnn's exclusive new poll finds six out of ten americans now say president trump does not deserve to be re-elected. his approval rating has ticked down to only 39%. and more than half a of those surveyed say he's doing a bad job keeping his campaign promises. i'll get reaction from democratic congressman worthy. he's on the intelligence and oversight committees and our
correspondents are also standing by. first, to jim aacosta. he's gone from an administration that one source is likening to a snake pit. >> that's right, wolf and president trump is search iing r a new national security adviser this evening after he announced john bolton had been fired in that tweet today. the president gave bolton the boot after the two clashed over key foreign policy. decision areas including mr. trump's scrapped plan to invite the taliban to camp david for peace talks. i'm told the president was upset that bolton tried to create the impression that mike pence was opposed to the camp david idea as well, but as one top administration official told us today, the president's national security team is not a mess. for now, former national security adviser john bolton, it was an unceremonious firing by tweet, standing outside west wing hours before he was scheduled to join mike pompeo
and steve mnuchin to answer question from reporters, he was suddenly gone with his former administration rivals. >> i'm never prized. >> all smiles. >> the president's entitled to the staff he wants. at any moment. it's a staff person that works directly for the president of the united states and he should have people he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgments benefit him in delivering american foreign policy. >> white house insists bolton was fired, but president announcing in a tweet, i informed john bolton night his services are no lopg rer needed at the white house. i disagreed strongly with his suggestions and then i asked for his resignation which was given to me this morning. i thank john very much for his service. i will be naming a new adviser next week. but bolton essentially tweeted that's not true. i offered to resign last night and the president said let' talk about it tomorrow. he's gone through three and officials say there's no
insecurity when it comes to the president's foreign policy team. >> is his national security team a mess? >> that's ridiculous. the national security team, which is what you asked, consists of the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, myself. the chief of staff and many others. of course. >> sources tell cnn bolton has clashed with the president over a number of critical issues including mr. trump's scrapped plan to invite leaders of the taliban to camp david just days before september 11th. the president and vice president mike pence believe bolton's team was leaking stories that top administration officials were questioning the idea of a taliban meeting. >> i think the view that there's some public discussions about bolton being on the other side with the taliban probably was a bridge too far. i don't know what happened there. >> a foreign policy hawk, bolton also disliked the idea of
sitting down with north korean dictator, kim jong-un. aides say outspoken style irritated the president for months. >> he has strong views, but that's okay. i actually temper john. >> bolton also found himself at odds with pompeo who's much more willing to tout the president's foreign policy views. >> there were places we had different views. >> with bolton out of way, the administration is sounding more open to the idea of the president sitti inting down wit iran's president. >> the president has made clear he's happy to take a meeting with no precbs, but we are maintaining a maximum pressure campaign. >> the former national security adviser did say he resigned yesterday and offered his letter of resignation yesterday evening. this is the letter of resignation offered up by the white house today from john bolton. dated september 10th. i hereby resign effective immediately as assistant to the
president. thank you for having afforded me this opportunity to serve our country. wolf, national security adviser john bolton was outspoken on a number of ibs. clashed with the president on just about everything under the sun, but that letter there might be the short stam ever issued by john bolton since he's been here in washington. >> i take it there's already emerging some sort of list of potential successors. what are you hearing? >> that's right, wolf. pete hofstra is one of the names. i just talked to a source close to the white house who floated that name out a short while ago. he's been under consideration for director of national intelligence. it's interesting to note the president has to fill that position as well as we speak. so the president has been dealing this for some time as he's gone through national security adviser after national adviser after national security adviser then acting secretaries of defense over the pentagon,
this national security team has very much been in a state of flux ever since donald trump was sworn into office as president and despite what you heard the secretary of the treasury say this afternoon at this briefing that his national security team is not a mess, there are a lot of disagreements as to that. there are people who feel from time to time this president's national security team has been a big mess, wolf. >> thanks very much. let's get more on bolton's exit. we're joined now by jim shuuto along with john kirby. our military and diplomatic analyst who was a state department spokesman. jim, the immediate impact of this sudden very tense, very t bitter departure. what's it going to mean? >> well, the key thing is that you had a voice here who differed with the president on handful of the nation's most severe national security challenges. one on iran. in an interesting way, right,
because bolton came in as a fellow hawk with trump. more forward leaning. it seemed he had a difference with the president when the president pulled back from retaliate iing from iran when i shot down a u.s. drone. a difference on north korea as well. john bolton not the only one, but one of the leading skeptics of president trump's continued outreach to north korea without netting any material gains from that outreach to this point in terms of reversing north korea's nuclear program. on issues like that, when you remove a voice like bolton and you presume the president will look for someone who's lock step with with them on those issues, you get closer to a situation where there are fewer people around this president who contradict him or offer him cautionary advice on some of these key national security challenges. we used to talk about the folks in the room like a jim mattis
and others many of those folks one by one have disappeared. >> it's interesting because there have been three national security advisers. the president has to hire a fourth now. that has to be a trick can ki job. >> colin powell described it as truant officer, fireman, chaplain, psychiatrist and the occasional hit man. so it's a tough job in any administration, but i can't imagine how much more difficult it is to do it when the boss himself, the president, wants to be all those things as well and take away any influence you might have. that's my big concern is whoever comes next hopefully will have somebody will have the access and influence to tee up the right options and help the president make the most context yul decisions going forward. >> jim, the white house expected during was responsible for a whole bunch of leaks to the news media including his opposition to the president inviting the taliban leadership to camp david. >> the president apparently did not like it being public
knowledge that some of his advisers were challenging him on this decision and that seems fitting with a pattern with this president that he wants folks to be in line with him. and not to contradict him and perhaps feels embarrassed in some ways when it comes out that some of his advisers are not in lock step with him on those positions. structurally, there's another concern here. bolton, when he came in, brought in a lot of his own people to be at senior ranks of the national security counsel. with bolton gone, do those people go as well and will you as a result hollow out the national security counsel infrastructure depending of course on who replaces him, but that's a concern because the nfc, yes, it serves the president, but it is an institution, an operation that often has holdovers. meant to keep some order and
consistency and if that is hollowed out, that will have broader consequences for u.s. national security policy. >> we're also told john that bolton was reluctant to go on television and strongly defend the president's policies because he strongly disagreed and that the president was irritated with him. >> part of the job, national security advisers don't like to go on television, they like to be behind the scene, but on an issue like this, afghanistan policy and peace talks for him not to want to go, there's significant sign that not only was he reluctant to be out in front, but maybe he had reached a lel of policy difference with the president and it was time to move on. >> john, thank you. jim, we'll be getting back to you. you have new reporting that you want to share with our view eer. we'll get get back to you soon, but joining us now, a democrat who seves on the intelligence
and oversight committees. congressman, thank you so much for joining us. what does john bolton's ouster mean for u.s. national security? >> him and his views for a prorks but the real problem is the president's foreign policy and national security, whatever you want to call the strategy there, which is nonexistent. you know at this point, the president seems to cozy up to our adversaries and pushes away our allies and there suspect really much of a ecoherence to his vision on how to conduct foreign policy or national security strategies, so i think there's not going to be much job security in the future for any national security adviser in that particular situation. >> do you worry about the constant turnover inside the president's national security team? >> yes, we started with michael flynn, who's about to go to jail. then mcmaster and now mr. bolton and we don't know who's next.
froms is next is going to have to come in and hopefully knock some common sense into the trump administration with regard to foreign policy and national security because right now, there's no coherence. there's no vision and when there's none of those things, it's hard to execute and deliver anything for the american people. >> what would you like to see from the president's next, his fourth national security adviser? zpl zbl i'm hoping for someone who can build our alliances aga again. we have significant security issue ts are russia and china and we should be very firm with regard to our adversaries and right now, we are doing the opposite. so that's what i'm, i'm hoping that the next person can move us in the direction of a foreign policy that both democratic and republican administrations have consistently pursued and that actually yielded results in the past. >> you sit on the house
intelligence committee. let's talk a little bit about some new reporting from jim shuuto. according to multiple senior officials who have served in the trump administration, the president has repeatedly expressed opposition to using covert foreign sources to gather intelligence for the united states. what kind of impact would covert sources have on u.s. national security? >> well, gosh. i can't comment on that specific report, but what i can say is there's just an ongoing concern with regard to the president and his relationship to the intelligence community. his handling of classified intelligence and quite frankly, his relations with the russians. this came up over and over again in the mueller hear iing. about a month ago. that's why i think that we should continue with the investigation to assess the counter intelligence risks of the president's ties to russia. >> you also serve on the
oversight committee. cnn has learn ed that the inspector general over at the commerce department is now looking into that unsigned statement put out by noaa backing up president trump's faulty hurricane dorian forecast. is this something your committee should also take a look at? >> i'm going to follow the lead of chairman cummings. i'm sure he's extremely concerned about this and if he decides to call hearings, i think we would be extremely spothive. i just make two points. one, i think there's going to be stormy weather for any truth teller at noaa or any agency with the per view of someone like wilbur ross. i think he's pursuing a political agenda for the president rather than the business of the american people. he did this with regard to trying to insert the citizenship question on the census and then making up pretext for why he did id and now resee his performance
with regard to noaa. this is extremely troublesome. >> you think he should resign? >> i think his time's up and i think we have to investigate what has been going on at the commerce department. the census. is about to start. early next year. and we can't have someone like ross or anybody who's politically motivated in conducticonduct ing census when so much depends on it. >> congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> coming up, a lot more on president trump's concerns on using intelligence from covert foreign operatives. also, we're learn iing new detas about a spy extracted from russia and the access he had the to putin. stand by for cnn's exclusive reporting. elp when i need it. with licensed agents available 24-7, it's not just easy. it's having-jerome-bettis- on-your-flag-football-team easy. go get 'em, bus! ohhhh! [laughing]
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new details on the story first reported on cnn about a secret u.s. mission to extract a spy from russia. sources revealing the extent of the spy's access to putin. back to our chief national security correspondent, jim shuuto. jim, you have more exclusive reporting for us tonight on how president trump views spies like the one pulled out of russia. >> here's the thing.
u.s. intelligence agencies depend on spies to inform countri countries, particular ly in hostile countries, to gather intelligence on what these countries are up to. but the president and this is based on multiple trump officials who have been b in the room with president trump when he's dismissed the idea of using such information, which has enormous consequences for u.s. intelligence gathering. >> sources tell cnn that president trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to using intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies. a crucial tool for u.s. intelligence against its adversaries. since being elect ed, the president has repeatedly attacked the u.s. intelligence community. >> the intelligence agencies have run amuck. >> sources say the president's concerns about using foreign operatives is that using them can damage his personal relationships with foreign
leaders. president's views have spilled out publicly at times, including his response the cia recruited kim jong-un's half brother as an asset. >> i saw the information with respect to his brothor half bro and i would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. >> the credibility of the inforpants because he believes there are people selling out the country. >> generally, extremely important and is more important than intelligence in all areas. >> both the cia and white house declined to comment for this story. the revelation about trump's views comes as cnn is learning new details about a covert source who helped the u.s. spy on russia's president, vladimir putin. that spy was extracted by russia from 2017 amid concerns about
the informant being exposed and in part because of concerns about how the president and his administration handle intelligence. the spy was considered the highest level source for the u.s. inside the kremlin. high up in russia's national security infrastructure. accord tog a source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official. sources tell cnn the spy had access to russian president putin and could even pau pro vid images of presidential documents. today, secretary of state mike pompeo, who was cia director in 2017, pushing back. >> the report tlg is factually wrong. >> pompeo declined to comment to cnn before story was first published and today did not specify what he was alleging was incorrect in cnn's reporting which relied on multiple officials with direct knowledge of the extraction. in a statement, the cia says quote, cnn's narrative that the central intelligence agency
makes life and death decisions on collection is simply false. of course cnn never said anything along those lines in its story and timing of this decision is indicative. it was after a may 2017 oval office meeting which president trump discussed highly classified intelligence with senior russian officials, sergey lavr lavrov. it was after that meeting that a call went out to secretary pompeo speaking to other trump administration officials saying too much information was coming out about the source. t decision made at that molt to remove him from russia. >> thank you for that. just ahead, the president thought bolton was a leaker. did that do him in? and we'll break down cnn's sclooef new poll and why most americans don't think the president deserves a sec term. i can taste my beer.
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new turnover in the president's office. today, john bolton is out at mr. trump's national security adviser after many policy and personnel conflicts. let's bring in our analysts to discuss. he tweeted he fired him because his quote services are no longer needed. bolton a few minutes later insisted he resigned. what is this public display of
animosity between the president and national security adviser suggest? >> that it was always a bad idea to have ambassador bolton, a guy who many people in washington say he never met a one he didn't like. foreign policy that's neither hawkish or dovish. it's not a reaganite conservative, not a taft paleo conservative foreign policy. it's a mismatch of big talk and chaos. it just happened today with a childish exchange of tweets. >> you served on the national security team during the obama administration. you suggest that bolton simply wasn't doing the core responsibilities he was supposed to achieve. >> that's right, wolf. i was senior adviser to one national security adviser and john bolton was national adviser in name only. he didn't perform some of the core functions of the job. the basic functions. for starters, he didn't run these key interagency meetings.
i had a vitamin d deficiency when i left the white house because we spent so much time in the situation room with no windows or sun light. meeting with the cabinet, making recommendations to the president. we know more about bolton's personal views on issues than we know about actual meetings he ran. secondly, his national security adviser had to have the ear of the president. he was put to pasture in mongolia when president trump met with kimm jong-iujong-un. he was not the person the president went to for national security advice. >> the president went as many months, has been rather blunt when talk iing about his disagreements with bolton. listen to this. >> i have john bolton and i have other people that are a little more dovish than him. and ultimately, i make the decision. he has strong views on things, but that's okay. i actually temper john, which is pretty amazing. i have john bolton, who i would say is a hawk and i have other
people that are on the other side of the equation and ultimately, i make the decisions, so it doesn't matter. he takes it generally a tough posture, but i have other people that don't take that posture but the only one that matters is me. >> john bolton was a real hawk. up to him, he'd take on the whole world at one time, but that doesn't matter because i want both sides. >> what do you think? >> it's clear the president saw their difference of opinion on substance, wolf. he was clear eye d about the divide there was between john bolton and himself, but it's clear here that he didn't care about that. what mattered more to the president in this equation is the issue ov trust and the issue of loyalty. one of the things that the white house pointed to in don kohn ver sagss with cnn following the president's decision today was that they believed john bolton was leaking to the press. that he was telling his side of the story in the press and then of course this question of loyalty to the president. this was not someone who was just going to say yes to whatever the president wanted.
john bolton is very strong willed, hard headed. that obviously didn't mix with president trump's style either. >> isn't the real issue, the cast of characters hass changed, but isn't the real issue that the foreign policy is failing everywhere? in north korea, kim jong-un is shooting off missiles all the time. in iran, we had a treaty in place to stop nuclear weapons development. weapons development has started again. our nato allies can't stand us anymore because all we ever do is harass them about their defense spending. that seems to me what matters. who's auping what office, that's a fascinating inside washington story. but american foreign policy is in shambles and that seems to me the more important aspect of this. >> it does matter who's filling at least two key jobs. one is the president. he has to be willing to use the interactsy process and two, if you have a national security adviser that just isn't holding meetings, isn't meeting with the
secretary of state, secretary of defense and faithfully representing their honest views to the president, those two factors are part of why we are where we are today. >> i want to play a little clip back in 2018 when the then defense secretary, jim mattis, met with bolton. he was overheard saying this. listen to this. >> thank you for coming and finally -- i a heard that you're -- >> i've heard you're actually the devil incarnate and i wanted to meet you. what do you think about that? >> bolton had the reputation for decades, the personification of the neo conservative wing of the republican party. big spother of the das rouse iraq war. also wanted ed to confront nort korea, iran. which was different from the way donald trump campaigned. so you know the question from the very beginning has been why
did the president hire this guy? i mean they just don't agree on things. so it's, it was just preordained that the whole thing would fall apart. >> rebecca, let me let you weigh in. we have this letter that cnn has obtained from the assistant administrator of noaa reviewing all the dispute that occurred during the hurricane the oh day when the president was warning threats to alabama and that locally in birmingham, alabama, they said no threat to alabama. listen to a chunk of this letter. as i'm sure you also know, there was a complex issue involving the president commenting on the path of hurricane. the national weather service forecasters corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way as they should. they followed unsigned press release that inappropriately contradicted the national weather service forecaster.
my understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science, but on external factors inclueing reputation and appearance and simply put, political. that's a really stark statement from the reacting chief scientist over there. >> absolutely. admirable to set the record straight and at great political risk because it's been made clear by the president that this is an issue he cares deeply about. he takes it very personally. it's an issue of personal pride for him. but noaa has a responsibility to forecast the weather. for the safety of the american people and preparedness of the american people and the president undermined that mission. it's good the agency is taking responsibility. >> david, what do you think? >> it's so surprising these days we're not used to it to have a senior official in the administration take a stand on principle in a public way like that that administrator mcclain's statement stands out
for that alone. no matter which side you're on on this issue, it's clear that he wants to be count ed as someone standing with people in his agency and with sign as science and not the politics. >> he zefs a lot of credit, jeffrey, for having the guts to he will his colleagues you know what, just keep doing your job. >> and you know, i'm a federal former federal employee. and what i love to see is someone standing up and saying most of the people who work for the federal government are trying to do the right thing. they are trying in this case, to protect people from dangerous weather. that's their job b that's what they were doing and the corrupt and incompetent people in the trump administration have been trying to over -- to thwart them and that was a disgrace. >> stand by. there's a lot more news we're following including a powerful new warning about the dangers of e cigarettes after another vaping related death.
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cigarettes are not safe and should not be used. this after six vaping related death here in the united states was confirmed. tom foreman is looking into this for us. health officials, they're sounding alarm. the alarm about all of this. >> yeah, worry id about the health effects is this is really erupting everywhere. r reports of people getting seriously ill and dying after using e cigarettes. this idea promoted by many that this is a safer alternative to smoking is under enormous scrutiny. >> it needs to be thought of as an injury to the lungs caused by something in the vaping and it is very severe. >> in houston, doctors are spounding the alarm as three people are hospitalized after using e cigarettes. in new york, the bloomberg charity is giving 160 million to fight what's being called an epidemic of vaping. >> kids are dying ch people are dying now and getting addicted. the timeline is yesterday, not tomorrow. >> and in washington, the first lady herself has tweeted i am
deeply concerned. why is the worry exploding now? in just the past few days, the centers for disease control reporting a huge jump in the number of people developing mysterious lung illnesses after vaping. to over 450. at least a half dozen are believed to have died. the american medical association has now come out urging people to avoid the use of all e cigarette products. and the food and drug administration has warned juul labs about misleading advertising and statements especially to school kids where vaping is growing. >> the presenter calleded it quote totally safe more than once? >> yes. >> they say that school outreach program was ended in 2018 and the company will fully cooperate with probes into their marketing and products. >> we never wanted any
nonnicotine user and certainly nobody under age to ever use ju, l products. >> but that's not enough for the governor of new york who is launching a state investigation complete with subpoenas. >> this is a frightening public health phenomenon. >> even as reports of more serious problems keep rolling in. >> passeded out, would not wake up. 15, 16 years old, you don't want to tart doing that. >> it is not clear how or if vaping is causing these illnesses or deaths or if perhaps some additive is to blame, but the an eck doe tall evidence is mounting so rapidly, many health officials want the to slam the brakes on this run away industry until investigators have time to figure out if there really is a link. wolf. >> really good advice. better be safe than very, very sorry. thank you very much. just ahead, criminal charges are filed against a top fema official involved in puerto rico's troubled recovery
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west bank if he wins re-election next week. he suggested president trump will support the move. cnn's orrin leishman join us. this is the latest example of netanyahu's turning to president trump as a political ally. >> it is, wolf, and the white house seems to have given tacit approval to president netanyahu's plan, but nothing like the ringing endorsement we saw in april before the last elections. tonight, prime minister benjamin netanyahu is promising to expand the boundaries of israel if he wins re-election next week. he announced a stunning plan to annex parts of the contested territory of the west bank. >> translator: today i am announcing my intention to apply israeli sovereignty to the jordan valley and the northern dead sea. >> reporter: it's a sweeping plan and critics say a play to his base that comes with strings attached. >> translator: i will not do anything without getting a clear mandate from the public, and so
the citizens of israel, i ask you for a clear mandate to do this. >> the 69-year-old israeli leader has made promises of annexation before, but never like this. pulling out a map, he showed specific areas in the west bank he would make official israeli territory, areas he says are crucial to national security and are held by occupied territory by most of the international community. >> taken place many decades ago. >> netanyahu has staked his future on his close ties to u.s. president donald trump. today's announcement was no different. the israeli prime minister connected his annexation plan directly to trump's soon to be released plan for mideast peace. >> translator: the most important question facing us in this election is who will negotiate with president trump? who will recruit him to our side? >> a trump administration official tells cnn that says there is no change in u.s.
policy at this time and adds that netanyahu's announcement doesn't get in the way of the peace plan. two weeks before netanyahu's last election in april, trump recognized israeli sovereignty in the golan height, a political gift to his friend netanyahu. trump also put the revolutionary guard corps on the terror list and a visit to jerusalem. israel and palestinian leaders are slamming netanyahu's new plan accusing him of looking to liquidate a palestinian issue and violating a two-state solution and peace. netanyahu says trump's peace plan is coming soon, telling israelis he should be the one to handle negotiations, but only if he wins the election. >> netanyahu's announcement was big news here, but only for about an hour. the resignation or the firing of john bolton quickly took over the news because he was considered such a close ally of netanyahu's especially when it
comes to iran and that was a blow to netanyahu on a night he was looking for president headlines at least for himself. >> orrin leishman in jerusalem. much more news after this. i can taste my beer! i can taste my beer. i can taste his beer. i can taste your beer. i want to taste his beer. samuel adams sam '76. finally, a refreshing lager that you can taste. barb, i can taste my beer. finally, a refreshing lager that you can taste. the amount of student loan debt i have i'm embarrassed to even say i felt like i was going to spend my whole adult life paying this off thanks to sofi, i can see the light at the end of the tunnel as of 12pm today, i am debt free ♪ not owing anyone anything is the best feeling in the world,
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electrical grid. she's accused of steering recovery work toward cobra acquisitions. the company of cobra as well as a fema official who left in 2018 were also charged. thanks very much for watching. erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front" next, bolton bites the dust. the president firing his national security adviser not because they openly disagreed on policy. no, this was the cause of a personal vendetta. plus a trump slump. a new cnn poll revealing what could be a great concern to the president and his re-election hopes, and polls about to close in a crucial special election that has national implications. results expected to come in this hour. let's go "out front". good evening. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight. it was personal. we are learning more this hour about the bitter breakup between trump and bolton. a source tells cnn