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Trump Supporters on His First Two Weeks in Office; New Levels of Conflict Hitting Washington; What Drives Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon?; Aired 07:30-8a ET
Aired February 1, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:01] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's been almost two weeks since President Trump took office and it seems there has not been a dull moment. He's taken numerous executive actions, and just last night he made his pick for the Supreme Court. So let's ask some Trump voters how they think he is doing.
Joining us now we have former national deputy director of Students for Trump, Alex Chalgren. We have former chairman of the Trump campaign.
ALEX CHALGREN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Hello, again.
CAMEROTA: Alex, great to see you again. For the Trump campaign of Delaware County and the wife of Ohio state representative Andrew Brenner, Sara Marie Brenner, and someone who is no stranger to our voter panels, we have Pax Hart.
Great to see all of you.
PAX HART, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: Pax, I'll start with you. How do you think Mr. Trump is doing?
HART: It's like Christmas every single day. You know, everybody talks about what, you know, this is an unprecedented administration. What's unprecedented is the speed with which he is delivering on every single thing that he promised he would.
CAMEROTA: So you love the travel ban. You love the starting to roll back Obamacare. What is it that's particularly excited you?
HART: Well, you know, I mean, the travel ban that -- you know, the travel ban is -- there was a Rasmussen poll, about 57 percent of Americans, you know, agreed to do this. This is very common sense.
CAMEROTA: Right. But why do you sound like you're heavy sighing? Did it not go as well as you thought it would?
HART: No, what -- what I think is not going -- you know, I -- I think we're at a point where we're the Democrat Party and now we have all of Hollywood who have established themselves as the opposition party. They're going to fight Trump no matter what he does. I think that's really unfortunate but I think in six months, I think in a year, I think a lot of people are going to look back once the economies starts easing up, once some of these business restrictions start letting up, people are going to look back and say, you know, maybe we overreacted.
CAMEROTA: OK. Alex, what did you think of the travel ban?
CHALGREN: Personally I think it was necessary and in all honesty I think it was not handled as well as it could have. I think in the long run, though, as Reagan said trust but verify. So even though some of these immigrants that had green cards and some of -- even the Christians that had trouble coming into the country, I think it's good to reevaluate our entire immigration system and then once we've come up with a clear solution on how we can better filtrate those coming into this nation I think it'll be all fine.
CAMEROTA: And Alex, what makes you think that we're not doing a good job of vetting people who come into the country? Since it's an 18- month long process. It involves a score of different agencies and no refugee has been involved in a deadly terrorist attacks. So what makes you think that this is needed?
CHALGREN: Right. Right. Well, Alisyn, you look at Europe and then you look at studies which I've seen, studies say that you're more likely to become more of a radical -- to be radicalized after being in the second generation than being a first -- be a first generation Muslim immigrant and that's cause to be concern. I mean, look at what's happening in Europe for example.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, we have a much different policies, obviously, than Europe.
CHALGREN: I mean, you have in the outskirts of Paris, for example. Second generation, third generation.
CAMEROTA: We do much different vetting.
CHALGREN: Yes, we do.
CAMEROTA: Than Europe. But before -- and before I move on to what Sara Marie likes best, one more thing, Alex. Does it trouble you that so many national security experts say that this plays right into ISIS' hand, that it gives the impression to refugees, see, we told you, America doesn't want you?
CHALGREN: No. No, I don't think it does because we've been playing this narrative that hasn't worked of accepting and being the appeaser -- the great appeaser. We're all for immigration. Sure. We're the greatest supporter of immigration in the world as a country but there comes a point where we have to put America first.
CHALGREN: And that's something that Trump supporters and I think Americans as a whole will come to support.
CAMEROTA: Sara Marie, how's it going for you?
SARA MARIE BRENNER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Hi. Well, thanks for having me this morning. I have been very, very happy. I think the biggest thing is that now Washington is seeing what it means to move at the speed of business, which is much different frequently than what they normally have as far as their normal pace goes. So they're seeing what it means to move at the speed of business. We've never had a president like this before who has come from the business background and, you know, for someone like myself who's a small business owner, you know, things like taking 10 years to build a manufacturing plant, I'm not in that sector, but known people who are, you know, we've got to speed things like that up and those are some of the things that Trump is really focusing on right now and trying to make sure that we get rid of a lot of those regulations, getting a lot of the things out of the way so that Washington can start to move at the speed of business. And I think when we do, like Alex just said, you'll start to see a few years from now, hopefully even a few months from now, you'll start to see things change.
CAMEROTA: So, Pax, you're super enthusiastic about what you've been so far, and you like the speed with which things are happening. Is there anything that Mr. Trump could do that would turn you off or -- I mean, are you so gung-ho that really he can't disappoint you?
[07:35:02] HART: I wouldn't say I'm gung-ho. I'm saying that what I'm seeing is exactly what I voted for and where, you know --
HART: Like you said, you know, he's coming from a business world. That's what we want. That's what we sent to Washington. We wanted somebody who was not part of Washington, who was not part of the problem to go in and start looking at things from the point of view of an entrepreneur, from a point of view of a businessman and that's what we're doing.
I think once his Cabinet picks get confirmed we're actually going to see his administration unfold and we're going to see unbelievable changes. You know, the -- one of the most important things that I saw, you know, and the gentleman touched on this is, you know, right now we have 56 percent of black -- African-American men under the edge of 30 who are unemployed and who are not in school.
CAMEROTA: I think that's data has been --
HART: Those are the people --
CAMEROTA: Well, hold on one second because I want to talk to you about that.
HART: Yes. Yes.
CAMEROTA: Those are some of the things that Mr. Trump talks about as well. There are people -- and so some of that accounts people in school. That number had been I believe inflated. But we will check that. But your point was that that's too high.
HART: Well, my point is that yes, you know, we are compassionate to refugees and yes, we are -- you know, Mayor de Blasio who is -- you know, and we have these sanctuary city mayors who are defending illegal immigrants in this country, what Trump went in saying was that we can't spend our resources on these people while we have sections of the American population who are being under represented, who are disenfranchised. Those are the people that need our attention first.
CAMEROTA: Alex, what are you keeping an eye on? What are you waiting to see if Mr. Trump will fulfill?
CHALGREN: First off, as the gentleman said, I'm waiting to see how he really turns the inner cities around with crime and helping the African-American community as a black man myself. I'm concerned about the African-American community in education regards and violence and things like that. And then also I'm looking to see how the economy is just going to bolster under his administration. As a rising hopefully college freshman -- yes, college freshman next year I will expect after four years to have a job and to do well in that job.
CAMEROTA: Alex, you're only going to be a college freshman? You're going to be a college freshman next year?
CAMEROTA: We'll all be voting for you for president soon. Way to overachieve. Let me get Sara Marie in there.
Sara Marie, what are you -- what are you now hoping for? What are you waiting to see happen?
BRENNER: Well, I'm currently working on a doctorate in Ed and so I follow a lot of education issues and I'm excited about Betsy DeVos. I think that one area where -- you know, I think that the whole Ed scope that we're dealing with right now is the civil rights issue of our time. We have so many inner cities who's just kind of reflect on what the other two gentlemen have said. We have so many inner cities where we have people who are not currently getting the education that they need and they're not able to get out of that situation, and I don't think that we should force them to wait generation after generation after generation until somebody can afford to move.
We can make the money and follow the student, create competition among the school districts that right now are terribly underperforming even though we just pour money, and pour money, and pour money. A lot of states give the unions what they want and you still don't see the improvements. So I'm really looking forward to seeing what she does.
CAMEROTA: And just very quickly, Sara, because we don't have -- Sara Marie, just because we're running out of time, you're OK with the fact that she doesn't have any public school experience?
BRENNER: No. Because when you look at -- you know, that's fine. It's not a problem. I don't think you need something like that when you're looking at a position like what she's doing it's about management, it's about leadership, it's not about spending time in the classroom. That's what our teachers do, our principals. Those people certainly need that classroom time. But a person who is in that secretary of Ed role needs to understand the bigger picture, be able to roll out policies, manage well, lead well.
BRENNER: Organize well, and her history really shows that she is able to accomplish that, no question.
CAMEROTA: Sara Marie, Alex, Pax, great to see you all again. Thanks so much for coming in and giving us --
CHALGREN: Thank you, Alisyn.
BRENNER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Your latest thoughts on President Trump. We'll talk to you again. Chris.
BRENNER: Thank you.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alisyn. So it's not unusual that someone campaigns for president by saying look, I can bring people together. President Trump said, I'm a businessman. I can get people to make deals. Well, that ain't happening. And we're seeing a showdown now about the Supreme Court and these Cabinet picks.
What is behind this intensifying political fight? Is there any room for working together? Next.
[07:43:01] CUOMO: President Trump in a primetime special naming Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court nominee. The president calling for unity, saying get something done for the American people. The Democrats are saying not so fast. This was a hostile choice and they're also delaying some of the Cabinet confirmations. This is creating big questions about what's the right thing to do when you're in the opposition.
Joining us now, CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum and Christine Quinn, former New York City Council speaker.
So, Christine, put at your feet is the argument of hypocrisy. You just lived through eight years of saying the Republicans are the worst people in the world for opposing for opposition sake and now you seem to be putting yourselves in the same position. True?
CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: No, not at all. I mean, look, people are talking about this nominee and about wanting to have hearings to explore his record. Very different than Judge Garland to never even got a hearing. I think there is a difference between just opposing and saying we won't even talk and saying I have concerns. This nominee has a record I disagree with significantly on LGBT issues, abortion issues, corporate regulations, the environment, gun control. And the senators saying we need to passionately, but in yet a dignified way, have those conversations.
I think there's a difference between standing by your views and values and opposing for the sake of opposition and as it relates to nominees --
CUOMO: Well, let's talk about that next.
CUOMO: But on SCOTUS, how do you see it?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I -- they are definitely going to have hearings. They are going to have meetings. But let's be honest. I mean, this is an incredibly qualified judge. I mean, this guy is --
CUOMO: They could say the same thing about Merrick Garland.
SANTORUM: Yes, but --
CUOMO: We got the same moral vote that Gorsuch did.
SANTORUM: Well, you're comparing apples and oranges. I mean, Elena Kagan sailed through. Sonya Sotomayor, sailed through. None of this talk of filibuster. None of this talk of slowing anything down. The reality is, Merrick Garland came forward at the end of the president's eight-year term. It was -- it would have been -- you can't convince me in 100 years the Democrats wouldn't have done the same thing at the end of an eight-year Republican administration. Particularly when they thought --
[07:45:09] CUOMO: Although Cruz said if Hillary wins don't let the Scalia seat come out. Filibuster --
SANTORUM: Well, I disagree with that. Look, the president has the right to nominate his Cabinet. He has the -- he won the election. He should nominate his people. And what Donald Trump did in this nomination is -- you want to talk about mainstream, this guy is right in the middle of the mainstream of conservative thought. He's not a fringe player. He is exactly what -- just left the court with Justice Scalia who maybe some people agreed on his opinions but he clearly was a respected justice by both sides.
CUOMO: Well, let -- we'll let the hearings speak for whether or not he's qualified.
QUINN: I think -- I just want to disagree with one particular point. You said on Sonya Sotomayor's hearings were anything but a breeze. If you remember back to those confirmation hearings the question of what she had or hadn't said about wise Latina, she was very aggressively treated.
SANTORUM: I think he'll be aggressively treated, too, and there's nothing wrong with that.
QUINN: Well, no, no. SANTORUM: But he allowed -- they allowed the vote, the process to
move rather quickly.
QUINN: I don't think describing it as an ease --
SANTORUM: A breeze.
CUOMO: But to be fair to Rick, we're dealing with a low bar for decency right now.
CUOMO: She got a vote. She made it through. That's his point. Let's talk about the confirmation process which is in forms of this last discussion.
CUOMO: Opposition for opposition sake. Not showing up at hearings. You don't have the votes and if you can't find something that is worth pursuing legally against one of these people they're probably going to get a vote and they're going to get through. Why stall?
QUINN: Well, I actually think it's not stalling. It's people raising their issues and we're seeing --
CUOMO: They didn't show.
QUINN: We're seeing repeated nominees come in unprepared and not having filed or submitted so to speak all of the paperwork and all of the checks --
QUINN: I don't -- you're applying -- you're going through the process to be a member of the United States Cabinet. This isn't whether, you know, you check the right box ordering something. This is one of the most important positions in the country you should be prepared when you go before the United States Senate and have all of your information. And remember, I think it's fair for the senators and others to enter this process skeptical because we never saw the full transparency on President Trump in many areas relating to his corporate conflicts, his taxes, so wanting to have all of the information particularly since many of these nominees and it's neither right nor wrong come from the corporate world or don't have particular experience.
CUOMO: They have complex backgrounds in terms of finances. That's true.
QUINN: And that should be out there and they should care about the process. And look, I also want to be clear, yes, we lost the election. The Democrats. But that doesn't mean that we're going to roll over and forget our values and our positions. Those Democratic senators were elected as Democratic senators and they have an obligation to keep bipartisan issues --
CUOMO: All right.
SANTORUM: Let's be honest. This isn't about values. This is about issues. I mean, they're blocking these people on -- as Chris said, they're blocking them on technicalities. You know --
CUOMO: In some cases.
SANTORUM: Most of them. You're talking -- Christine, you just talked about paperwork. You just talked about well, not answering questions. The bottom line is they've answered thousands of questions. There have been more vetting -- longer vetting than Obama's nominees for the same positions four years ago. The reality is this is pure obstructionism.
Yes, our Cabinet secretary is important but as we -- yes, but as we've seen, who really runs the government? It's not the Cabinet secretary. The Cabinet secretaries are there to follow through on what the president wants to do. And they're only there for a short period of time. The bottom line is -- I was in the Senate. I gave huge deference to the president on who he picks as his Cabinet.
CUOMO: All right.
SANTORUM: Why? Because our job is to let the government --
QUINN: You know --
SANTORUM: Let the president set up his own government.
QUINN: I think --
CUOMO: Last thing on this because I don't have a lot of time, but I want to ask you one thing, do you think the president -- I remember when this was going on the last time. There was fair criticism put at the feet of the president then Barack Obama that you need to be the biggest man in the room and find a way to bridge this better. Don't leave it up to the Democrats and the Republicans, it will never happen.
Is that onus also on President Trump? Should be doing more than he's doing right now to try to get people to work together because he's being disruptive by design right now.
SANTORUM: Well, I think he's trying to follow through with these campaign pledges but I would just argue this. I mean, one of the campaign pledges was --
QUINN: To unite. And we see the opposite.
SANTORUM: To remove --
(CROSSTALK) SANTORUM: Bernie Sanders loves that. There are things that -- this Republican is doing that Democrats now agree to. Barrack Obama never had a one thing that the Republicans never had.
QUINN: He promised to bring us together.
CUOMO: All right.
QUINN: And every choice he's made and the way he's done it using Twitter as his platform is ripping people apart. Just look at what's happening with the Muslim ban. I just want to say on nominees, we have an EPA --
QUINN: Whose life work in part has been getting rid of the EPA. That's not a technicality.
SANTORUM: Thanks be to God. That's great.
QUINN: But that's not a technicality. And I think that's dangerous.
SANTORUM: Getting rid of the oppressiveness of the EPA.
CUOMO: All right.
QUINN: But that's dangerous.
SANTORUM: No, it's not.
QUINN: Yes, it is.
CUOMO: Carry it on in the break. Alisyn.
[07:50:04] CAMEROTA: Thanks be to God. You don't hear a guest say that very often. Well done.
CUOMO: Not often enough.
SANTORUM: I do.
CAMEROTA: I know. I know.
President Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon has worked in Hollywood, Goldman Sachs and most famously Breitbart. Now he's shaping presidential policy. Who is Steve Bannon? We talk to someone who worked with him for 20 years next.
CAMEROTA: Steve Bannon. You know the name, but probably not much about the man. As Mr. Trump's chief strategist, Bannon is emerging as a controversial figure. Some of his moves, telling the press to, quote, "shut their mouths," and being elevated to the National Security Council. So who is Steve Bannon?
Let's discuss with Julia Jones, Steve Bannon's writing partner in Hollywood for nearly 20 years. And "Hollywood Reporter" columnist Michael Wolff who interviewed Bannon before and after the election.
Great to have both of you here. You will help us paint a much better picture of who Steve Bannon is.
Julia, let me start with you. You worked with him for almost 20 years in Hollywood. What is he like?
JULIA JONES, STEVE BANNON'S FORMER WRITING PARTNER: OK. Thank you. What is Steve like? He's a very different person now than he was then 20 years ago. I don't really know the Steve Bannon that you have today.
CAMEROTA: Let me read to you or let me just quote to you something that I've heard you say about him, and that was -- you said he loves war. What does that mean?
[07:55:08] JONES: Yes. Well, Steve and I were both very interested in the ancient philosophers, that was the thing that drew us together. But Steve always tended to focus on military battles, kind of his bible was "The Art of War," the Chinese book, I think it was -- I'm not sure when it was written.
CAMEROTA: And what did he love about war? I mean, he just loves strategy? He loves warfare? Why does he love war?
JONES: You'd have to ask him. He's a man, I'm not. So I think that Steve liked the strategy. He liked the -- I'm going to ask --
CAMEROTA: All right. We can move --
CUOMO: You think about it. Let yourself get absorbed in the conversation.
Michael, help us out here. Bannon has a lot of bad things ascribed to him now as he's coming into this controversial mode of this. How much of it in your own reckoning of him is worthy of criticism? What is the fact and the fiction?
MICHAEL WOLFF, COLUMNIST, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Well, let me do it this way. I probably don't agree with anything that Steve Bannon agrees with. We're on diametric opposite sides of most issues. But I've spent a fair amount of time with him during the campaign, after and now going into -- taking power.
I find him smart, considerate, interesting, someone who has given a lot of thought to everything he's now saying. So this is not a situation in which we have someone who has some dark force has blundered in through the door and we don't know how this guy got here and what he's doing here.
He is -- he is someone who you would find, if you sat across the table from him, recognizable, interesting and a compelling figure. CAMEROTA: And so then --
WOLFF: This is not -- what I'm saying is this is not a mistake.
CAMEROTA: So then, Michael, I mean, that's fascinating to hear your depiction. How do you explain -- here's a radio show from Breitbart News Daily, this is from 2015 when he was talking about refugees. And it doesn't sound particularly compassionate. So let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The only vet, if you're going to let them in, why even let them in? Can't that money be used in the United States? I mean, I think the issue is, should we just take a pause and a hiatus for a number of years on any, any influx from that area of the world?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: As you point out, he's been thinking about this issue for --
WOLFF: And exactly what Donald Trump ran on. That's what he said was going to happen. That's the basis partly on which he won and that's what they've done. So --
CUOMO: That's why he's relevant, right? Because otherwise he'd be as marginal as most of what comes out of Breitbart. You know? But he is now next to the seat of power and he seems to be the heaviest hand in the first few moves we've seen out of the White House with these executive orders.
WOLFF: I think he is. Yes. I mean, let's not --
CUOMO: This guy's name written all over it. The false allegations about voter fraud has his name written all over it. Sheltering Russia has his name all over it.
WOLFF: In every way. I think the news here is that Steve Bannon is the central -- he's the visionary of this administration. He's the go-to person for the president and for many other people there. It's his ideas that are first and foremost, that are paramount at this point in time, absolutely.
CAMEROTA: Some Trump critics have begun calling him President Bannon because they think that he is pulling the strings.
WOLFF: Yes. I'm not sure what that means. He's not the president. We have a president who is I think that we can say, very forceful. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen because Donald Trump wants it to happen.
Donald Trump, I think we've seen, is not an absentee president. But I do think, you know, during the Bush administration Karl Rove was called Bush's brain. And I think that probably works here, too. Bannon is Trump's brain. CUOMO: An interesting look at an interesting man.
Michael Wolff, we are going to need to have you back on because as situations develop, and they have the Bannon signature on them --
WOLFF: Since I've become the Bannon whisperer guest.
CUOMO: Hey, just for this moment. You have made a career of deconstructing important people, and you're doing it once again.
CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Julia Jones as well.
WOLFF: OK. Thanks.
CAMEROTA: Michael, thank you very much for being.
We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.