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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New North Korea Response To Trump's "Fire & Fury" Threat; Source: FBI Raid At Manafort Home 'Rattled' Trump's Inner Circle; Trump Hits Back At Sen. McConnell Over Comments. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 9, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The breaking news this hour, a new and specific threat from North Korea, a day after the president warned any new threat would be met in his words by "fire and fury" the likes which the world has never seen. We've since learn that that warning was off the cup, it was improvised. Tonight's response from North Korean is -- it's a statement from the commander of Kim Jong- un's strategic forces making reference to President Trump saying, "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him." The North Korean commander went on to outline an upcoming plan to fire four ballistic missiles in Guam having them land a number of miles offshore. The president drew a red line yesterday, rhetorically at least, Kim Jong-un tonight seemed to cross it. The question is now what? Our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciuto joins us. So the statement from North Korea, Jim, it also referenced the fact that the president is at his golf club.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, I mean, it's interesting because we haven't talk about how closely the U.S. monitors North Korean state media official statement to see what that says about their intentions, clearly North Korea watching U.S. national media about its coverage of the president, referencing his frequency of golf outings, today saying in their statement that President Trump, the American president in the words of the North Koreans, "The U.S. president at golf links again let out a load of nonsense about the 'fire and fury,' failing to grasp the ongoing grave situation." So that a bit of a rhetorical shot across the (INAUDIBLE), but let's be frank here as well, North Korea made a specific and direct threat, specifying a target, Guam, where the U.S. has two military bases, a kind of missile an intermediate ballistic missile. And even the number of missiles it claims that it would use four missiles.
I spoke to a senior military official in the Pentagon tonight, he says that when an adversary like that, particularly a nuclear adversary makes a threat like that, they take it very seriously.
COOPER: Earlier today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was at refueling stop in Guam. Seemed like he was trying to kind of, I guess, calm the situation a bit. SCIUTTO: No question. I think something of a reinterpretation, perhaps to President Trump's comments yesterday talking about "fire and fury" and response to any North Korean threat. You had the secretary of state bringing that back more and took more with previous statements by U.S. official, senior officials of his administration and previous administrations. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the president -- what the president's doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic going in which -- I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the U.S., you know, unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and it's allies and I think it's important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: It's interesting, the secretary also made a point of saying that he didn't believe that any of the rhetoric he'd heard in the last 24 to 48 hours should alarm Americans. It was interesting there, Anderson, he didn't specify that it's just rhetoric coming out of North Korea, he said any of the rhetoric should not make America in his words have trouble sleeping at night in terms of the threat of a real military conflict here.
COOPER: The Secretary of Defense James Mattis had a different kind of warning for North Korea, obviously, for more of a military perspective.
SCIUTTO: No question. This was a very strongly worded statement, and you have to take this all together. The president yesterday, you have the defense secretary, you have the secretary of state, but Mattis' strongly worded statement, but bringing it back again to what our previously stated positions of the U.S. in other words if North Korea acts, if it attacks, there's going to be an overwhelming response. I mean, his exat words we're along the lines of saying, "The DPRK," that of course, the Democratic Republic of North Korea, "should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people." Listen, and saying, actions if you attack the U.S., we're going to destroy your country in fact, went on to say, its actions will continue to be grossly overmatch by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict in an instance.
Now, those are strongly worded statements, no question, but they bring it back in line with previously stated U.S. policy which is, you attack the U.S., the U.S. is going to strike back, and by the way, U.S. military power, greatly by an order of magnitude outweighs North Korean military power. That's a standard U.S. statement delivered frankly, but, again, something of a reinterpretation of what the president said, "fire and fury" in response to any threat.
COOPER: Jim, thanks very much. This latest threat against Guam comes with the island and its 162,000 people already on notice out to the last one. Ivan Watson is on Guam for us, so what has been the reaction there?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, when we landed shortly after midnight local time, I understand a U.S. border and customs officer joked welcome to ground zero, a little bit of gallows humor. I don't know if you can see over my shoulder, but there's a beach here with people frolicking and playing in the water. So there is no panic on the street or clearly on the beaches here.
[21:05:18] The governor, Eddy Calvo, has taken care to try to reassure the population to make clear that the threat level has not been ratcheted up as a response to the threats coming verbally in statements from North Korea. I just spoke with his office and he says he has been briefed in the last couple of hours about this latest threat coming out of Pyongyang, warning about the possibility of a launch plan of four intermediate ballistic missiles that would land some 20 miles off the coast of Guam. No formal response to that yet.
When you talk to ordinary people, the reactions are mixed. We saw a bride in a wedding dress in the lobby of our hotel within the last hour, presumably going to a photo shoot. There is some anxiety. One woman says she has some friends and acquaintances who were sleeping with their clothes on at night and gathering bottled water because they're worried. That same woman said I put my faith in God, my trust in God. I'm not going to worry about this right now, Anderson.
COOPER: I mean, Guam is no -- they are no strangers to threats from North Korean, this is happening before in the years past. In terms of their overall military preparedness, what's the level?
WATSON: Well, after threats in 2013, the U.S. military deployed that THAAD missile defense system that we hear about often in the context of Korea, because it was deployed last year in South Korea. That's supposed to be a protective measure against missiles. This is an island that one of its main economic activities is the two big military bases here, the navy base and Andersen Air Force Base. And that's part of what has so frustrate and irritated the North Koreans, the fact that B-1 bombers flew out of here in the last couple of days, they linked up with fighter jets from Japan and South Korea. And they conducted over flights over the Korean Peninsula and Pyongyang singled that out as a reason for why it would want to target Guam. But, again, it has been written about in the past by North Korea, which I might add has put out statements, I've seen dozens of statements, I think, where North Korea has pledged to reduce Washington, D.C. to fire and destruction. And we haven't quite seen that yet and that's perhaps why some people here are taking the threat against Guam with a grain of salt, Anderson.
COOPER: Ivan Watson, thanks very much. Shortly, before North Korea made their latest threat, I spoke with (INAUDIBLE) of his career keeping tabs on North Korea, retired CIA and NSA director and now, of course, General Michael Hayden who's now CNN National Security Analyst.
COOPER: General Hayden, the fact that the president drew a red line in his statement yesterday and targeted the threats coming from North Korea, I don't know there was -- that just -- you know, basically said no more threats, I don't know if that means verbal threats or actual or some sort of movements. I'm wondering, should the president be drawing red lines on threats right now?
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: God, absolutely not, Anderson. And given all the commentary he's made on his predecessors red line, I thought it was amazing that he goes out there yesterday in that very unartful comment, clearly not staffed, clearly not precise. Really does draw a red line, and within about 90 minutes, Kim Jong-un crosses the red line and threatens the American territory of Guam. Lesson learned.
COOPER: We're does it lead this administration, getting mixed signals from -- not only from the president, but obviously, the secretary of state had a much -- I don't know if more rational is the right way, but kind of a statement deescalating things or tempting to kind of ratchet things down several days before this.
HAYDEN: You know, Anderson, I actually think there's a coherent strategy behind this. We may not agree with the strategy, actually I think it's a very dangerous and not a high probability strategy, but I think fundamentally, the administration has drawn a line, saying we cannot accept -- I think the Obama administration had, but the Donald Trump administration will not accept a nuclear armed North Korea with an armed ICBM.
And now what they're trying to do is to put pressure, frankly, more on the Chinese than the North Koreans, so that the Chinese who really do have the leverage here, put pressure on the North Koreans to enter into some negotiated solution.
Look, the Chinese haven't been all that willing, fundamentally, I've used the metaphor that -- for the Chinese, North Korea is a tooth ache and they'd rather put up with the pain than go through the root canal. I think our strategy now, Anderson, is to increase the pain for the Chinese. We're the ones who are stirring the pot in North East Asia. The North Korea has been on this arc, developing their weapon systems for quite a while, what's new is our rhetoric and our response. And I think we're trying to fundamentally make the Chinese less comfortable with the status quo, so that to do the kinds of things we want to do.
[21:10:14] Now, to get to your core of your question, we're not doing that very artfully. We're getting messaging coming out of the president is very threatening. You get messaging from the secretary of state that tries to be calming. And I think Secretary Mattis today kind of split the difference. I think he was cautionary towards the North Koreans.
And so, you do have this mix messages and this is so innately hard to do. You're making a difficult task even harder.
COOPER: We now know, I mean, that the president's remarks yesterday were somewhat improvised. The president's last statement about more power than the world has ever seen, I'm paraphrasing, that's actually a line he has used repeatedly -- HAYDEN: Right.
COOPER: --throughout, not only his presidency, but throughout his life. He even used it, it joined -- in the opioid conference that was happening right before he made the statement. He used the exact same line talking about U.S. power on the border.
HAYDEN: It is very dangerous for a president of the United States to speak in language that can be misinterpreted, misunderstood, particularly by regime like North Korea, which is not crazy, Anderson.
COOPER: There -- you think you --
HAYDEN: It brings logical approach.
COOPER: You consider them a rational actor? I mean what --
HAYDEN: I do consider them a rational actor but this rational actor believes in its heart of hearts, that the United States constitutes a real and present danger to them and all of their actions proceed from that premise rationally. We just reinforce the premise. Again, open to misinterpretation.
COOPER: I talked to Ambassador Baucus yesterday who was saying that if there was a military conflict, you know, an actual military operation that the Chinese wouldn't sit idly by. He told the Chinese will actually enter North Korea. Do you think that's a real possibility as well?
HAYDEN: You know, I spent a lot of time, it's a long time ago now in South Korea, planning for the collapse of that country. And we did take into account what the Chinese would do. Not on a repeat of November, December 1950, but moving in to reestablish order to perhaps keep refugees on the southern side of the yellow river rather than in China. So, I think the ambassador has a real point there. The Chinese for their own interest and without intending to be aggressive, maybe force to intervene complicating our calculations.
And interesting, can I add one additional thought, we're yelling at the North Koreans over the heads of 50 million South Koreans. When we say these kinds of things to the North Koreans, what must our South Korean allies be thinking?
COOPER: And just as a reminder, I mean, you're talking about kind of going to the war games or exercises that you went through, can you just give us a sense of the scope of, you know, the fallout from a conflict like this? I mean, just like internal loss of life in terms --
COOPER: -- of difficulty of anything in that area?
HAYDEN: Yes. First of all, at the end of the day, Anderson, we win. And one of the reasons that the North is putting so much emphasis on their nuclear forces is that their conventional forces are eroding and the conventional balance grows more in the South Korea and American favor everyday. So, we win. But we win at great cost in human life. I don't want to be overly dramatic here, Anderson, but we're probably talking about hundreds of thousands of casualties if we go to war on the Korean peninsula.
COOPER: General Michael Hayden, I appreciate it. Thank you.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: I'm going to talk about ahead next, more on the decision making surrounding the president's off the cup remarks yesterday and how the White House is coping with the blow back.
Later, the domestic war of words, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the president battling over health care legislation, who's to blame for GOP failure to pass it?
[21:17:41] COOPER: Tonight's threat from North Korea comes at the end of the day, this all the administration's crumbling to incorporate the president's tough talk which was improvised, according to all the reporting from yesterday, to some kind of unified message moving forward. Another busy New Jersey vacation day for the president. CNN's Sara Murray joins us now.
So, do we expect a response tonight from the White House where the president on his latest remarks and threat from North Korea?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'd asked repeatedly, of course, as to how the president might respond, what the administration's responses? So far, we haven't got anything. But of course, we've seen a way the president has behaved over the last couple of days and he take a very aggressive posture. And that continued even today on Twitter. I want to read you what he wrote earlier.
The president said, "My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully, we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!" Essentially, counting the strength of the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a time that, and of course, tensions arising between the U.S. and North Korea, obviously they said some concern about that from national security experts but it gives you an indication of, sort of the level of rhetoric we've been hearing from the president on the heels of these threats in North Korea, Anderson.
COOPER: And the lines he used yesterday, the "fire and fury" and more powerful than any in the world have ever seen, what more do we know about that statement? Because at one point, he looked down at a piece of paper but I saw the report from "The New York Times", I think it's was that said, that was one sheet on opioid use, it wasn't anything about North Korea. MURRAY: Well look for, any other president, we would expect this response. It would have been carefully tailored. Every word would have been very specifically picked. That is not this president. We are told by sources that the paper that were in front of the president had to do with the opioid crisis and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, the White House Press Secretary said, the world was Trump's own, the "fire and fury" that phrase, that came directly from the president. They said, he discuss the tone of the statement with his new Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, as well as other national security council officials. But when it came to the actual rhetoric, those words that obviously stuck out to many people who are watching this, those were the president's own words, they came extemporaneously in that moment. It was not a prepared statement ahead of time, Anderson.
COOPER: Sara Murray, thanks very much. Perspective now from our team tonight, which include presidential historian, retired generals, several news and political veterans, Susan Page, Paul Begala, Matt Whitaker, General "Spider" Marks and Tim Naftali.
[21:20:04] I guess, Susan, I mean, how surprised are you that the chief of staff, according to the reporting, John Kelly was surprised but not shock by what the president said yesterday?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: So the idea that you'd be shocked by something Donald Trump said extemporaneous. I think we've all passed to that point. But, you know, I think one reason the White House has been eager to say this wasn't scripted, this wasn't vetted, was so -- the North Koreans don't take this seriously. So, that, you know, many people in Washington, including senators, voters across the country, know that there are times when you take Donald Trump very seriously, every word, and there are times when you don't.
And I think the White House is trying to make the case. This is a -- it doesn't not -- you do not dissect every word of this because if you did he's threatening a nuclear --
COOPER: Don't take him literally.
PAGE: Don't take him literally, right? We've had a lot of debate about that. But I think this is an effort to say, look was extemporaneous. Don't dissect every word, don't take it too seriously, let's --
COOPER: It surely seems like, I mean, whether General Mattis and Rex Tillerson all of them sort of coming out today with variations of sort of a more moderate statement.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, they wanted to try to scale this down and the problem -- I think that's a terrific strategy for them now. Now that the president has kind of messed up to say well, he didn't mean that literally. But when the president speaks especially in a international crisis, those words matter that is no time to win it. You know, it did actually wrote the book, I mean, Cuban missile crisis, JKF, very carefully called the blockade of Cuba, which is an act of war. He called it a quarantine which is from public health. Oh gee, these people have measles, we don't -- right?
He used that word deliberately so that, although a provocative act, he wasn't escalating so much to lead us into wood. That kind of nuance is required in the job and this president has got to rise to the occasion. And frankly, general -- his generals cannot allow him to go out unscripted on something like that.
And Tim, I mean, today tweeting out this morning that, you know, the nuclear arsenal is more powerful than ever before when --
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: -- never change.
COOPER: Right, it really not kind of change.
NAFTALI: Here's the thing that I -- when I heard the statement yesterday, thank you Paul for mentioning the book. I thought to myself, OK, wait, is the president trying to deter the North Koreans from being something? Or is he trying to compel them to do something?
There's a big difference. The reason the Cuban missile crisis was so dangerous, was that Kennedy was trying to deter the Soviets from putting more missiles and compel them to remove those missiles yet. From Trump's statement yesterday, from the president's statement, one got the sense he was trying to compel North Korea to denuclearize. What's clear from the statements today from both Mattis and the state department is that our government's position is we're trying to deter them from future action.
An attempt to threaten and to compel action is very dangerous because it's highly unlikely the other side is going to actually do what you want which means, unless you want to loses your credibility as a world power, you can have to act. So, it was very helpful I think. Was that today, we saw deterrents rather than compelling.
COOPER: General Marks when the North Koreans talk as they did in this latest statement, a very specific about four ballistic missiles being fired toward Guam that will fall short of Guam, I guess is a threat of some sort, how likely is -- or how possible is it that is not what actually happens or I mean, if missiles are launched, how does the U.S. know that those missiles are actually or heading toward Guam and are going to fall short?
MAJOR GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, several things. One is it's a total guess from part of the North Koreans that they can do that. So it's clearly a threat on their part. They can't be backed up with any logic or science. They haven't reached that point.
And we've noticed since some of the missile launches that they really subscribe to the notion of big sky, little boy and they just launched these things willy-nilly and they land where they will and Japan routinely has concerned about it.
We should be concern in Guam but we have them forever as you've indicated, you know, Anderson for years, Guam is the target that North Korea talks about. They want to try to bring some type of distractions. Only because it's a U.S. territory, it is close, it is not on the South Korean Peninsula. It is in fact something that they can reach. And we don't know upon launch, we don't know where missiles go, I mean, they are literally go in vertically. And you got to start reading preliminary data based on sea based indicators and collection platforms as well as base to base which is primary. And then you start reading the preliminary data.
But my point is, the key thing for any missile launch, if you want to go after it, you want to go after within the first minute of launch. It's slow, it's burning fuel, whether it's liquid or solid, it's close to the ground. How do we do that very, very well? We can pick to burn, how do we now engage that? We don't have a capability to do that. Guam is fine is like. I think the bottom line.
COOPER: You know, what's interesting with the president's statement, if he just had this opioid meeting and one of the things he said was about the U.S. power on the southern boarder with Mexico more powerful than the world, in fact (ph), the world have ever seen and he used that same phrase in this threat to North Korea that, you know, it'd be "fire and fury" and more powerful than the world has ever seen which is obviously a very delicate statement. You know, some -- a lot people interpreted it as a nuclear response being that the world has seen a nuclear response already during World War II.
[21:25:07] We look to see how often the president has used this. It's one of his favorite phrases that he's used a lot during the campaign. Also as a president, he's tweeted a lot but here he just in speeches talking using that phrase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would be very, very strong on our southern border and I would say the likes of which this country certainly has never seen that kind of strength.
Grassroots movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
The historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.
A movement likes of which, actually, the world has never seen before.
A movement like the world has never seen before, actually.
A business enthusiasm is about as high as they've ever seen.
We're unleashing a new era of American prosperity, perhaps like we've never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's interesting how many different ways there are to deliver that line. But, what do you make in the fact that in this incredibly crucial moment, he's -- Paul he's using the phrase that he kind of this, one of this go to phrase?
BEGALA: All the rest of those were fine with me. They really worry. He's our first president in American history with no prior governmental or military experience. And the American people knew that and they frankly liked that about him. OK, I don't, but I lost.
Here, I do have a problem because you're -- he's a real estate salesman. He's trying to get you to buy his condo, "The greatest condo the world has ever seen a building so beautiful." I'm all for that and I think it's fine in those other context, but when you're talking about nuclear war and you're trigger, your red line is a threat not action, then that kind of bellicosity is really problematic.
PAGE: And of course you want to -- at the moment we want to play that tape to North Koreans to say, "Gee, don't take this too seriously," but the trouble is the next time we want the president to make as statement --
PAGE: -- that everyone takes very seriously, will they?
COOPER: Well, Matt, just from a political standpoint also, you know, the latest CNN polling from -- I think it was two nights ago that we had, you know, showing the president's credibility. The vast majority of Americans in the poll do not believe the words that come out at the White House which is alarming.
MATTHEW WHITAKER, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and if you do believe these words, I mean, you took it to a level 10, unless it's this final to have and go to 11, but they -- I think people, I mean, try to walk it back by these examples that he didn't really mean to be a level 10.
WHITAKER: But also for 30 years, the United States Administrations from Reagan on have tried to deal North Korea and ultimately they need to paying them off or some other negotiated resolution and I think that's where we need to get is engage in some diplomacy, to ratchet this thing back, to take, you know, nuclear war off the table because that is catastrophic for everybody.
And Kim Jong-un does not want to die. He wants to live on in his lifestyle and we should engage, I mean, discussion that lets him continue.
COOPER: Stick around everybody more in North Korean a moment. Also later, sharp and surprising escalation to Russia-White House investigation, learning that the home of Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, was raided by FBI agents. Coming up, how one source says it's hitting the president's inner circle.
[21:31:36] COOPER: More of breaking news tonight, North Korea now seriously examining their words, a missile strike near Guam. Saying President Trump has caught breath to reason. That's his new response to the president's threat against North Korea threats. Here again as what the president said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: North Korea let's not make anymore threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And back now with the panel. Tim you used to be the director of the Nixon Library, the, you know, there was so much talk about a sort of madman theory and is the president or good cop/bad cop. The president saying one thing is very bellicose, the secretary of state kind of more a different kind of response that General Mattis kind -- somewhere in the middle. What do you think of those who stay, is this possible some sort of so-called madman theory?
NAFTALI: Well, I mean, I really believe that the mad man in the Nixon Administration was Kissinger, it wasn't Richard Nixon. I mean, if you really look at the details, the one that was always pushing for use of force was Henry Kissinger more than Richard Nixon. I think the madman theory is about the worst possible approach in a nuclear world. There was one leader who did it, Nikita Khrushchev, actually we know this from Russian deterrents. He decided in 1962, the beginning of the year, that he was so afraid of United State as the next existential (ph) power. He wanted to put pressure around the United States by creating crisis around the world. And he created them, Southeast Asia and Latin America. It was an idiotic thing to do in a nuclear age. I don't think anyone has ever proven that it's a smart idea for super power to engage in predictable unpredictability when nuclear weapons and many lives were at stake.
MARKS: And the sad thing is we've had this nuclear condition for 70 plus years. So it says we're trying to relearn some lessons that might seem obvious.
NAFTALI: What I don't understand is why we just don't say that North Korea can have nuclear weapons and then they have to play by the rules.
NAFTALI: And we deter them. We -- deterrence has worked in the 70-plus years that nuclear weapons have existed. And North Korea then, we could test the theory, which is that North Korea is a puffer fish. That they're afraid of being swallowed and so they pretend to have more power and to be more ambitious than they really are. And then if they misbehave, well, then they pay the price. But right now, they seem to be acting as if their existence is at stake, well, tell them, "Your existence is not at stake, you can survive and you can keep a very small nuclear program but don't use it."
COOPER: But General Marks, I mean, usually, you know, you worked in South Korea and they certainly do, North Korean -- the regime looks around and sees enemies in all their directions.
MARKS: Absolutely, they have always been oppressed. Plus, if you go back with that 82 pedantic, if you go back and you look at the Peninsula, what has happened over history? Japanese invaded China through the Peninsula, what happened to Chinese came down to Japan through the Peninsula. So, for years, the Koreans have been aggrieved, they now have been separated for the last 70 plus years in advance of forward to, and then the demarcation that occur right after we drop the nukes on Japan. Suddenly we had a crisis in Korea that we had, that we weren't prepared for.
[21:35:07] But I think what has happened to your point, Tim, is the North Korea is used to be signatories to the nonproliferation treaty. They backed out of that. They've got a history of trying to play by the rules. They now have a nuke at least our estimate, our intelligence estimate is that they have a nuke, and they have a capability of delivering that. That has always been the condition. So we should say, you guys are now at the table. You're with the big guys. You've got to play by the rules.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Coming up, FBI agent raid the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of the Russia investigation. A big escalation, the raid was two weeks ago, just finding out about it today. Sources telling CNN, it did not land well with the Trump team. Details on that, next.
COOPER: A new development tonight in the Russian-White House watch, today, we learned that FBI agents raided the Virginia home of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The raid happened two weeks ago, and the source tells CNN, the agent seized materials including financial and tax records.
Sources also tell CNN this news took the Trump the team by surprise this morning, and according to one source it rattled some cages in the inner circle. As you may remember last summer, Manafort was firmly in the Trump team cores that were saying no Russia connection time and time again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: No, there are not. It's absurd and, you know, there's no basis to it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it so farfetched to blame the Russians and say that the motive was to help you?
MANAFORT: It's just absurd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back now with the panel, joining the conversation is Ana Navarro and Ross Douthat. Matt, just from a legal standpoint, I mean, in order to execute a search warrant on -- to raid Manafort's house, they have to get a search warrant from a judge, they have to show probable cause.
WHITAKER: They do, I mean, this is a constitutional requirement, you know, because in our history we had a problem with general warrants and government, you know, go in anybody's house and seize or inspect anything they wanted. So we had to have a sworn affidavit from a law enforcement officer that named in specifics what they were going to search and what they were going to hope to find and seize. And I think this is bad news for Trump, but there are two interesting things.
First of all, while Manafort says that he's cooperating, it is not in a sense that he's talking to the Feds and spilling his guts. It's a more of I'm trying to be helpful, and so that is actually good for the Trump team. And I think the second thing is in these kinds of investigations, search warrants and subpoenas are the only way you can kind of see where the investigation is going. So the folks both inside and outside the White House are watching very carefully where these cards will play.
[21:40:14] COOPER: But I mean, if he was really cooperating in handing over all the documents, would the FBI really felt the need to go raid his home, to look for more information?
WHITAKER: Absolutely not. But he is not cooperating in a sense that he is being complete truthful and telling everything he knows. He's trying to be helpful, but they are not using him as a source.
BEGALA: I don't think they have to convince the judge that there's evidence of a crime or an ongoing commission of crime.
WHITAKER: Yes, yes, and probable cause home.
BEGALA: Probable cause. But this is in his home which struck me --
COOPER: Which is a big deal, I mean, it's not an office, I mean actually entering someone's home is a whole other --
WHITAKER: There are some reporting it was a no-not warrant where essentially the door was kicked down. And so which is very concerning that they felt that he was going to destroy evidence or that a Judge would authorize that type of behavior.
ANN NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think what we can see is, you know, number one, this is not going away, Mueller, despite all the noise he's focused. And there's now -- he's focus on financial crimes, so we've gone from political to financial. Something which for Donald Trump is red (ph) lying. Bob Mueller has been hiring attorneys that specialize in financial crimes and corruption. We see that Manafort is definitely emerging as one of the central figures. Which is a big problem because this not a big player in this campaign. This isn't Carter Page who can claim was an advisor. This guy was running the campaign.
COOPER: Although they have to distance themselves from Paul Manafort.
ROSS DOUTHAT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, in a weird way ,politically, I think it's better for Trump if he's focused on financial crimes rather than political crimes because so long as those financial crimes aren't committed by Trump himself, as long as they're just committed by people in his orbit. And I don't think anyone on this panel would be surprised if Paul Manafort had done something illegal in the course of his dealings in Russian and Eastern Europe.
As long as that's the case, Trump can say, look, this was a fishing expedition. And sure, they found something, but it doesn't relate to me. And it wasn't the thing that the Democrats have been going on, on, and on about Russian collusion, Hillary leaks e-mails and so on. And that's obviously, you know, no argument Trump is going to make in this context to his ideal. But in terms of doing what he has to do to sort of keep his base with him and keep Republicans sort of on side. Having Paul Manafort accused of financial shenanigans is much better than the Don Jr. meeting with Russian story.
NAVARRO: There's nothing about -- this is better because it drives Trump crazy, right? It plays with his head, even capable of accepting the assessment by the intelligence community. And, you know, he wants to call it a witch hunt, and every day we see more evidence.
COOPER: But Paul when they were in the Clinton White House, I mean, during that whole ongoing investigation there was never a pre-dawn raid on a home.
BEGALA: Never, never, and I've heard John, it never happened in Watergate. This is on president, but actually for me as an observer of these things, the most important thing is that this happened July 26, and we're only learning about it now, Robert Mueller does not leak. He is running a button up. We knew everything Starr was doing, as he was doing it because he leaked or his team -- they leaked in real time. That's astonishing to me.
The other thing is, if you track back the president's tweets, on that day, July 26, he attacked the Deputy Director of the FBI, Andy McCabe and tried to smear him. So maybe he didn't know and President Trump didn't know, the White House says they were shocked to learn it about it today, maybe so. But there's an interesting coincidence attack on the number two --
COOPER: Couples hours later.
BEGALA: Couple hours, yes.
PAGE: This is a huge warning not just to Manafort, but to everyone single one of this. The people who are involve in the Trump orbit. And could be testified this investigation about how serious Mueller is. How pathetically he's being, how far he is gone. And, you know, if you could get -- if you get Manafort on some financial shenanigans. Once you say you couldn't use that as a tool to flip him on political crimes. In fact --
DOUTHAT: If there are. Look, if there are political crimes and Paul Manafort knows about them. Then yes, this is disastrous for Trump. I'm just saying that if we had financial and there isn't --
PAGE: And doesn't lead elsewhere.
DOUTHAT: It doesn't lead elsewhere. Trump will come out and say, this is not what this investigation was supposed to be about, they found one of my ex-friends who did something wrong, that 's terrible, he's a bad guy, I'll never speak to him again. But all then the fishing expedition and Democrats pulled it.
WHITAKER: And this is consistent with what we heard Rod Rosenstein say on Sunday which is Bob Mueller knows who the targets and subjects of this investigation are on. And it's clear that Paul Manafort is a target of this investigation. And I don't think it's necessary to go very far to say that they're looking at whether he has foreign bank accounts, because that's some of the reporting, and they're seeing if those bank account records are at home. I mean, it all makes perfect sense from a law enforcement having done this before as to how they're putting the others investigation.
[21:45:00] NAVARRO: From a political perspective, I think it makes it that much more hard, harder for Donald Trump to try to fire Bob Mueller. It's going to be a scandal. It's going to be a disaster for Republicans, they really should figure out how to pass, vote on that bill that Lindsay Graham put on to protect Bob Mueller from whatever erratic behavior Donald Trump might be suffering from one morning.
COOPER: Let's take a quick break. And when we come back, Senator Mitch McConnell says the president's lack of work experience may be partially to blame for the failure of health care reform. While the president and others fire back, next.
COOPER: And another potential feud is brewing between the president and the high ranking member of his own party, this time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It started when McConnell made these remarks yesterday about President Trump's push very fast repeal and replace of Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: And our new president of course have been in this line of work before, and I think that excessive expectations of how quickly things happen in the Democratic process. And so, part of the reason I think people feel like we're under performing is because too many kind of artificial deadlines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:50:03] COOPER: This morning Fox anchor Sean Hannity seize on the remarks fired back with this tweet, "No Senator, YOU are a WEAK, SPINELESS leader who does not keep his word and you need to Retire!" All in capitalize.
Then this afternoon, the president tweeted, "Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?" There again, he is blaming leader McConnell and Senate Republicans for the failure to repeal Obamacare, something he's done before.
White House social media Director Dan Scavino tweeted similarly, "More excuses. Senate Majority Leader must have needed another 4 years - in addition to the 7 years -- to repeal and replace Obamacare" Excuses, he says. Fox News anchor and the president and a top west wing staff were publicly attacking the most powerful Republican in the Senate. Certainly, an interesting strategy right now, the White House will need him to get tax reform and the border wall through Congress.
Have you ever seen anything like this from a president with a top leader of his own party?
PAGE: Never, never, I mean, it's a good thing that he doesn't have -- that Mitch McConnell doesn't have nuclear weapons or we'd have nuclear war on two fronts. I mean, and all he said was excessive expectations. It's not like he, you know, challenged his fundamental qualities as a leader and a president. I've never seen anything like this. And it's -- you know, he'll need support -- he'll need friends -- and President Trump will need friends in the Senate soon, like what's keeping the government open certainly next month by passing a pending bill.
And over the long term, over the term of his presidency he's going to need to go back to these same Republican senators who he's now --
COOPER: But in fairness to President Trump he's not wrong in that --
PAGE: Oh, right. He's completely right.
COOPER: -- that it's amazing that it took, you know, that after seven years of talking about this they haven't done anything.
DOUTHAT: But McConnell is right too. The moment, you, McConnell -- in this specific instance I think Trump has the better of the arguments, I mean, both because, one, look, Republicans pretended to have a plan to replace Obamacare throughout the Obama administration, and, you know, you could say that Trump shouldn't have believed them. That's I think a fair criticism. But this was, you know, this was the Congressional Republican claim that we have a plan that can unite our party. And they didn't.
COOPER: But President Trump also claimed to have a plan. He said he had a plan. DOUTHAT: And Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell convinced Donald Trump that they should start with health care. Do you think Donald Trump really wanted to start with Obamacare? He would have liked to start with an infrastructure bill or something. They said do health care first and they couldn't do it.
NAVARRO: Mitch Mcconnell is the majority leader, and Mitch McConnell has stuck with Donald Trump this entire time. He has looked the other way time and time again when Donald Trump has said or tweeted something crazy. If this is a criticism what he said, excessive expectations, I mean, really, at this point, it's going to be easier to keep track of the Republicans he has not attacked than those he has.
DOUTHAT: Donald Trump is a bad president, but sometimes he's right.
WHITAKER: Well --
COOPER: Now -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
WHITAKER: Well, somebody that is, you know, sort of in this movement and understands not only sort of the Trump voter but Republicans generally is, listen, for -- you know, this is our fear of how Washington works, is that the, you know, you send all these Republicans including the president, the House and the Senate, and they still can't get done what they've promised you. And I think what you're looking at is maybe -- if it all of a sudden becomes a division in the party where Trump starts going after McConnell's senators that he needs in 2018, I mean that could be a real problem.
NAVARRO: He is doing that.
BEGALA: I do know and from research and going out and talking to folks, Trump voters hate the Republican establishment more than they hate the Democrats. And so, this is music to their ears when he picks a fight with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. That's Trump playing to his base. The problem is that that's all he seems to be able to do. He has -- Mitch McConnell gave him his only important accomplishment, which is Justice Neil Gorsuch. He did it, but I think, almost breaking the Senate, unfairly denying President Obama, the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, but whatever. The only important accomplishment Trump has is because of Mitch McConnell's insider expertise of the Senate.
And so, they're going to -- he's going to need Mitch to get him a budget, to get him a debt deal, and yet he has to attack these guys, Ryan and McConnell especially --
NAVARRO: Yes. And the week before he was attacking Murkowski, he was -- you know, his people, his Trump world has advertised against Heller in a swing state in Nevada. They are raising money in a primary against Flake in a swing state of Arizona. So at some point, you begin to ask yourself, do you actually want a Republican majority or do you want to be able to say --
BEGALA: He only needs 34 to be kept from being removed in the impeachment trial to come.
WHITAKER: But he's also read and his people read Nate Silver's analysis where it essentially says 2018 is the best year for Republicans if you look at how the maps is growing and how these Congressional seats sit. You know, even as unpopular as he is, there's still a chance that Republicans could pick up seats.
PAGE: Hey, the maps looked great for Democrats in the Senate last year. And you know what happened, they didn't do anything. The problem for Trump is he may be right that Republicans should have delivered on this long-term promise, but we've got a two-party system and that's his party. Democrats aren't going to come to his side. He's got no third-party movement going for him. If he wants to govern on anything, these are the folks he needs.
[21:55:01] NAVARRO: Well, my question as a Republican, though, to Republican elected officials, is why do you keep sticking your neck out for this guy and why do you keep hanging with this guy when he is so quick and throwing you under the bus whenever he wants to and needs to? So I think, you know, if you're a Republican leader watch your own back.
DOUTHAT: Well they are. I mean, but what should McConnell do to watch his own back that he isn't doing?
NAVARRO: Look, I think he needs to be strong with Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump if he sees you in a position of weakness takes advantage of you. So I think being confrontational at some points works better with Donald Trump than just pretending that something he said is troubling or disturbing. I mean, they use the most mushy words I have ever heard.
BEGALA: What we're seeing is really what the founding fathers wanted, you know, when -- it's a transition for president Clinton coming in, I went and saw John Sununu who'd been President Bush Sr.'s chief of staff. He said this, he said, you'll find before you can realize it that the disputes are not Republican and Democrat, its article 1 versus article 2, Congress is article 1. Here's Mitch McConnell, theoretically of the same party as our president, criticizing him but more importantly, Matt and I were talking about this during the break, is holding the session and -- the Senate and pro forma sessions during this recess. So the president of his own party cannot make a recess appointment and run the Senate. So you're seeing this institutional pressure --
BEGALA: -- which I think are amazing and wonderful. Is Mr. Madison would be very happy actually.
COOPER: And I want to thank everybody. We'll be right back. More news ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Thanks for watching 360. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts now.
DON LEMON: North Korea steps right over President Trump's redline.
This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon.