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Trump Posts Wrestling Video of Himself Attacking CNN. Aired 7- 7:30a ET
Aired July 3, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMEROTA: ... juvenile, and leaving many of his members of his own party in disbelief. This as the president prepares for the G-20 summit in Germany and his first face-to-face encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
[07:00:20] BERMAN: Sources tell CNN the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine will be on the president's agenda with Vladimir Putin, but there are no plans for the president to bring up Russia's interference in the U.S. election.
We have this all covered, beginning with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live at the White House. A lot going on this morning, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. That's right. President Trump is going to be at Bedminster for much of the day. He'll be returning to the White House late this evening or so. He'll be hosting military families for the July Fourth festivities tomorrow.
The president is spending much of the holiday weekend, however, using the bully pulpit not to push forward on the GOP health care plan, but rather ramp up the attacks on the media.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump escalating his ongoing war against the press, tweeting out this doctored video of himself pummeling a man with an edited CNN logo over his face. The video drawing sharp, widespread condemnation.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is an incitement to violence.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very disturbing. There's nothing light -- light-hearted about it whatsoever.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: And we need to protect freedom of the press. There is a responsibility on the part of everyone, including the president of the United States.
MALVEAUX: Homeland security advisor Thomas Bossert, first shown the video on ABC, insisting the president is not inciting violence. THOMAS BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: I think that no one would
perceive that as a threat. I hope they don't. But I do think that he's beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.
MALVEAUX: The president tweeting a barrage of anti-media attacks over the holiday weekend, and defending his use of social media as "modern- day presidential." Trump even unleashing a verbal tirade at an event meant to honor America's veterans ahead of the Fourth of July.
TRUMP: The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I'm president, and they're not.
MALVEAUX: This with the White House already on defense for the president's crude attacks on two MSNBC hosts last week.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.
MALVEAUX: CNN responding directly to the president's latest attack: "It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the president had never done so. Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he's involved in juvenile behavior, far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his."
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price insisting the president's tweeting doesn't detract from the health care battle.
TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: The fact of the matter is that he can do more than one thing at a time.
MALVEAUX: But some Republicans saying the behavior could have serious consequences.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: People are now begging the president not to do this. And, you know, he ought to stop doing it.
SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: There's an important distinction to draw between bad stories or crappy coverage and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that, and trying to weaponize distrust.
MALVEAUX: This is going to be a critically important and busy week for the president as North Korea continues to provoke and the president putting in calls to the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China. On Wednesday, he'll travel to Europe for the G-20 summit. He will also have a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- John, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much for all of that background.
Let's discuss it all with our panel. We want to bring in David Drucker, CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner"; Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters and the president of the White House Correspondents' Association; and Karoun Demirjian, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post." Great to see all of you.
David Drucker, let's talk about what the president's doing here with retweeting things like this and continuing, seemingly even escalating his battle with the media. I read that you said that he believes that fighting with the press furthers his political agenda. How is that going? Is that working?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, his legislative agenda and his political agenda should be the same, but I think they're two different things. And I think from the president's point of view, these are the kinds of attacks that worked for him to establish himself as a Republican leader.
We often talk, Alisyn, about how attacking the media, trying to undermine the media furthers his connection to his very loyal base and keeps them immune from criticism of the president, because if you can't trust the coverage, then there's never any reason to doubt.
[07:05:00] CAMEROTA: Right. But David, I just want to -- I just want to ask you about the math there. So let's give him 35 percent. OK? That's what the approval rating, the base is right now.
CAMEROTA: So can he move forward and get things done with just 35 percent of the country, if 65 percent of the country doesn't like this?
DRUCKER: Well, no, he can't. But what I was getting to was the fact that there's a broader Republican universe out there that, although they are not always pleased with the president's behavior and method of attack, believes that he's right about us, believes that he's right about the press.
And I think that, in a way, this helps him maintain sort of his connection and his support among the broader Republican electorate, who although they wish he might go about these attacks in a different way, tend to agree with him that the media is out to get him. And then they, too, then doubt a lot of the critical coverage that I think actually, as I've been part of this coverage from time to time, has actually been pretty fair and pretty on point, even though many Republican voters don't think so.
And so I think that satisfies the president's political agenda in terms of his 2020 re-election. And his legislative agenda is another matter.
CAMEROTA: Yes. DRUCKER: I actually think he could be using his support among Republicans in the bully pulpit to further that if he did things differently. But the president, obviously, has a different view.
BERMAN: And we'll get to that in a second. Because he's using the bully pulpit almost exclusively to talk about the media, not to talk about health care, not to talk about Russia, not to talk about Syria. You know, this is what he's chosen to talk about.
But Jeff Mason, again, you're the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, so you're sort of on the front lines of this discussion. There are people who look at what the president is doing here, saying what he's doing is trying to create a situation where there is no truth, correct? You know, if you create a situation where there is no truth, there are no facts in play, then you can operate almost with impunity.
JEFF MASON, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: Well, that's an interesting theory. I don't know if that's his intention with his tweets against the media. I think that there is an actual deep-seated dislike with President Trump and with many of his advisers at the White House for the media and that this is just his way of getting back at it.
And, yes, it's distracting, no doubt, from his legislative agenda. I think it was interesting to see last week some Republican lawmakers from his own party criticizing him for doing that with regard to the attacks on MSNBC.
But, you know, whether or not that's a broad strategy, more theoretically, or whether it's just really who President Trump is, I think is a different question.
CAMEROTA: Karoun, I'm just not ready to give up yet on the spirit that everyone in Congress espoused after the Steve Scalise shooting. And everybody told us on our air, and seemed really genuine and really heart felt, we have to tone it down, it has gotten -- the rhetoric has gotten too hot; it's gotten too hateful; it's gotten too offensive. You're in the halls of Congress all the time. How is this tweet helpful?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's not. To the credit of the members of Congress who are coming out and condemning it, that shows you the disconnect between the members of Congress after that tragic event and the president, who spoke about wanting to improve the discourse but didn't sustain that very well for more than a few -- maybe a day, if even a day at that point.
You know, I just wanted to go back to the point you made before, though, about, you know, there being no necessarily -- no truth here and facts not mattering. That's certainly been a feature that we've discussed about the Trump operations since his campaign days with the question about alternative facts, but it's also a feature of, you know, more strong-men world leaders than the American -- than the American political system has normally been used to, because we have so many checks and balances here. But that sort of full control of the message, full control over what
people think truth is and isn't, is a classic feature of -- I mean, of people in control of countries like Russia and places like that. It's part of just, you know, solidifying your brand, solidifying your support and your base and hoping that that extends beyond that as you become more influential.
And this -- and this point, too, it's -- it's controlling the conversation. We're not talking about the health care bill. We're not even talking about, as you just raised, that the discourse in Washington, D.C., in a way that extends outside the president's Twitter account. So he is the center of the conversation.
BERMAN: And look, Ben Sasse, Republican senator from Nebraska, said one of the things the president seems to be doing here is to weaponize distrust. I mean, what's happening here is something at a deeper level.
The president says this is part of the new media strategy, sort of the modern reality here. Let me read you. He says, "My use of social media is not presidential. It's modern-day presidential. Make America great again."
Jeff Mason, you know, one of the things that people note about, you know, if the media doesn't like what the president is doing here, stop covering him the same way. You're the president of the White House Correspondents' Association. If the White House won't hold on-camera briefings, stop going. You know, if the president is going to do this, stop covering it. What's the right way to handle it?
[07:10:09] MASON: Well, I guess from the perspective of the White House Correspondents' Association, we're going to continue to push for what journalists need. And journalists need the ability to do their jobs, and that includes being able to ask questions of the press secretary, of his deputy, and of other senior officials and of the president himself. So that is important, whether you're a television journalist, or a print journalist or a radio journalist. Those are just values that are critical to us to be able to do our jobs and that are protected by the First Amendment.
In terms of how specifically individual news organizations and individual reporters choose to cover the news, you know, that's not the job of the White House Correspondents' Association to tell. But we absolutely support the right of them to do those jobs and will continue advocating with the White House for that ability.
CAMEROTA: Karoun, I want to go to you, not to shortchange David Drucker, but because I know that you have all sorts of new reporting on where we are with the health care plan that is coming out of the Senate. What's the latest?
DEMIRJIAN: Well, the latest is that it is in a period of being rediscussed. They did not have the votes to be able to do things on the schedule that Mitch McConnell put out, which was hoping for the end of last week before they went into this break. Now they're talking about trying to make changes to make the Medicaid
cuts less severe, to try to keep the cuts -- to make sure that fewer people fall off of their health insurance, to try to address funding for opioid abuse and addiction. And so all of these things are still under discussion. We don't know what the final package is going to look like.
At the same time now, you have the president's surrogates saying, "Well, he's working the phones to try to build support," but support to a bill that's not really finalized.
You have more Republicans speaking freely about, "You know what? If this isn't going to work, maybe in the next week after we get back, maybe we try doing a repeal first and then replacing it."
You have the moderate Republicans now saying, "You know what? Maybe we should go back to the Cassidy-Collins bill and other proposals that were out there that don't look like what the Senate bill looks like now."
So you basically have a whole bunch of stuff flying around in the air. They have to nail it down by the time we get back to D.C. next week in a week's time, or there's just going to be more chaos. And more chaos leads to more splintering, and more splintering leads to not having 50 votes to pass that bill.
BERMAN: So more chaos along these lines, David Drucker, of going back to your original point here about, you know, whether or not the president is using his bully pulpit in a way to advance the legislative agenda here. Are his comments on Twitter, are they helping push forward health care, which is supposed to be one of his signature items?
DRUCKER: Correct. And this is where Republicans have been very critical. I was speaking to them last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill, and they were telling me that, look, the president has a unique connection to his loyal base, and he can get attention in ways that other presidents couldn't. And if he used the bully pulpit to further the health care agenda, he might be able to actually create votes for this health care bill and, either through pressure or through creating political space for some of these Republicans to take a risk on this bill.
And this is one area, and it's why I've always felt they were going to get to a bill one way or the other. We'll see if that happens. But this is one area where, if Trump cannot make this happen, this does become a problem for Republicans in 2018, because this would be a major failed promise, No. 1, that Republicans and the president promised on; and they control, obviously, all levels of government.
But the other thing we're dealing with now is problems with the health care system, and regardless of who Republicans or Democrats want to blame, it's a problem; and Republicans are in control, and voters are going to expect them to fix it.
And so this is something that the president will be blamed for, if it doesn't get done. And it would behoove him and, obviously, his party to get this thing done. And if he could use his powers of attention, if you will...
DRUCKER: ... to further the health care bill, rather than attacking the media, his party and his agenda would be in a much better place, especially with tax reform upcoming.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of those insights.
So we have not heard much from GOP leaders since the president's controversial tweet this weekend. But we will ask Republican Congressman Scott Taylor for his thoughts when he joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOSSERT: I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. He's a genuine president, expressing himself genuinely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to do any good for me or anyone else to come in and just comment on things we might not like about his Twitter behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Well, a tepid response from the administration following President Trump's latest tweet, which included a video clip showing him wrestling and punching someone with the CNN logo superimposed on their head. The White House is talking about voter fraud, not from Russia, meddling, but Americans.
Let us join -- be joined now by Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Alisyn, how are you?
CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. Let's talk about this tweet. The president retweeted this WrestleMania stuff of him punching somebody with a CNN logo on their head. The -- it appears that the origin of that video was from the Reddit account of somebody with just sickening anti-Semitic and racist rants on their account. What's your response to this?
TAYLOR: Well, I don't -- I don't know anything about what you just said in terms of whose account it was or anything like that. I have no idea.
I've been critical of the president's tweets before. I think that -- but if I could give objective advice to you, I think you -- I think you guys are getting played, man. I think every time he does this, you guys overreact -- and I say "You guys," I mean the media in general -- you overreact, and you play right into his hands. I mean, this is -- ironically, CNN reported on him learning politics from the World Wrestling Federation in 2015. And now you're, like, "Oh, my God, he's inciting violence."
I just don't -- I don't think any American -- most Americans, excuse me, certainly some, maybe, but most Americans out there believe that he's inciting violence from a WWF clip.
CAMEROTA: Right, so I mean...
[07:02:00] TAYLOR: Here you are, and I've watched your -- hold on a second, I've watched your segments, and you keep talking about this. There's tons of news out there. Let's talk about real issues.
CAMEROTA: Yes. We've been told these are official presidential statements. Is the Twitter account of POTUS an official statement or not?
TAYLOR: Well, that's -- I know that there are two accounts there. There's one that's unofficial; there's one that's official.
CAMEROTA: It is from the official president of the United States account. So is this a presidential statement?
TAYLOR: Listen, as I -- as I said to you, I would -- I would prefer the president not make some of these tweets. I've been critical on CNN, as well, too.
I just think that this plays right -- you guys are playing right into his hands. You overreact. And then what he -- and then what he's able to -- he's able to use that politically. And I just think that you guys, you've got to start reporting really news. This is not really news.
CAMEROTA: I hear you. I get it. I share your feelings sometimes. What's confusing is when the president of the United States focuses on this.
I'll show you how much -- how many tweets he's put out that are media attacks. Ninety-four of his tweets are attacks on media, versus 29 on the military and what's happening with our veterans. So where's his focus?
TAYLOR: Well, I think that's interesting. Because if you look at the media coverage -- and I didn't come here to defend the president. But you're asking these questions.
CAMEROTA: I'm asking your opinion. Where's his focus?
TAYLOR: I'm going to tell you. When you look at your focus, and the media's focus, it's all attacking the president. It's been that way for a couple years. And you mentioned the 35 percent...
CAMEROTA: But we're responding today to his attacks on CNN.
TAYLOR: ... that he had. Well, then he won the presidency. CAMEROTA: We're responding to his attacks on CNN, punching CNN, Congressman.
TAYLOR: So look, what I will tell you is this, Alisyn. I understand what you're saying. What I will tell you is that I can tell you definitely, without a doubt, there's a lot of focus on the V.A. There are a lot of focus on veterans. There's a lot of focus on foreign policy. You should cover that too. But you guys should cover that, too.
CAMEROTA: And how is that evident? How would we know that?
TAYLOR: You're falling into a trip by...
CAMEROTA: Where would we -- Congressman, where would we see that?
TAYLOR: I'm actually just giving you, you know, objective advice. You're actually falling into a trip by covering tweets all the time. There's a lot of news out there. There's a lot of focus on health care. A lot of focus on veterans. A lot of focus on the South China Sea. There's a lot of news out there to cover.
CAMEROTA: So why isn't the president talking about that?
TAYLOR: He is talking about it. I see it -- I see him talking about it. We're working with the White House on different initiatives out there that aren't being covered, necessarily.
TAYLOR: I'm just giving you advice. I think you're falling into a trap.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. I accept your career advice. But I'm curious, are you saying that we should begin now ignoring all the president's tweets, because really, the vast majority of them are frivolous...
TAYLOR: That's not what I'm saying.
CAMEROTA: ... are frivolous as we've shown you, with the numbers? You think that we should just start ignoring the president's tweets?
TAYLOR: What I'd -- OK, what I'd like for you to do the next segment you have is put the numbers up of your negative coverage of the president, as well, too.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, that is a -- forgive me -- crazy suggestion. When we...
TAYLOR: Why is it a crazy suggestion?
CAMEROTA: Because we are covering...
TAYLOR: Because I watch your segments.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, let me answer. TAYLOR: The last three ones are all about these tweets. You're not
covering the news. Cover the news.
CAMEROTA: And how do we know -- and how...
TAYLOR: You cover the tweets, you should do that. Cover the news, too.
CAMEROTA: Congressman -- good. How do we know when the presidential tweet is newsworthy?
TAYLOR: You've got -- like I just said, your whole segment is all about this.
CAMEROTA: How do we know? Just give me the road map.
TAYLOR: There's a lot of news out there. Cover that. Cover the news.
CAMEROTA: How do we know when the president's tweet is newsworthy?
TAYLOR: As I just said, you've covered his tweet. You've covered it over and over and over and over again.
CAMEROTA: I haven't gotten your response to it.
TAYLOR: Let's talk about the news with you.
CAMEROTA: The reason that we have...
TAYLOR: I just told you. I've been critical of the president.
CAMEROTA: Yes, and are you critical of this tweet? Do you think this one was a mistake?
TAYLOR: Of course. I don't think it makes sense to do that. But that's his -- that's his decision to do that politically, and he will take either the successes or the consequences of making that politically.
But I don't think that should make you do nothing but cover his tweet all day long. You've got a lot of other things to cover.
CAMEROTA: I agree. We would love to be able to move on. We wish the president would talk about substance. We wish that the press...
TAYLOR: Well, I thought we were going to come on here and talk about the South China Sea, about voter fraud, but here we are, talking about the tweets, the whole segment. You're playing right into the political hands.
CAMEROTA: Basically, I wanted to get your opinion on whether or not you thought this was a mistake for the president and whether or not you think that Republican leadership should speak out against it. So answer that and we can move on to voter fraud.
TAYLOR: I've already said I'm critical of it.
CAMEROTA: Do you think Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell should...
TAYLOR: I'm critical of it. I'm critical of it. I don't think it makes sense.
CAMEROTA: Has the leadership been vocal enough about that?
TAYLOR: That's up to them to get on your show and talk about that. I'm not going to, you know...
CAMEROTA: OK. You're not going to give them advice, got it.
Let's talk about voter fraud. So you know that there's now -- that there are something like 27 states that do not want to comply with the White House request for all of this personal information from -- of voters, including Virginia.
What's your response to the secretaries of state saying, "No, we don't feel like turning over private information of people's Social Security numbers and addresses and the way they voted in the past"?
[07:25:05] TAYLOR: Well, I think there's two things here. No. 1, I believe in states' rights, of course. So if there's something -- if there are states -- because obviously, we control elections at the state level. And if there is legal information, private information they don't want to disclose, be it via state laws, no problem.
But what I saw, and actually, it was in CNN's reporting on what the request was, and the request was public information that is available to anyone, if they pay for the voter rolls. Like if I'm a candidate, I can pay for the voter rolls and get it here in Virginia, as well, too. I don't really see a problem with that, because it's public information, as long as the commission pays for it.
But, yes, if there is something that runs afoul of state laws, I support the states in not -- in not sending that in.
CAMEROTA: Here's what the...
TAYLOR: I didn't see -- as I saw the -- what was on the statement, it said public information.
CAMEROTA: Well, yes and no. I mean, it's private information. But some of it is public. And the White House...
TAYLOR: No, if it's -- if it's available -- what the statement said, via CNN's story that I read, was public information that doesn't run afoul of state laws. I don't have an issue with that.
TAYLOR: If it did, if it was private information like you said, that ran against state laws, I would not support it, of course.
CAMEROTA: Got it. Here's why it's confusing. Let me just read what Mississippi secretary of state says about this request. Quote, "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes."
I think the question, Congressman, that it brings up is why is the White House focused on trying to get the voting histories of Americans? What's that about? What could they be compiling this for?
TAYLOR: Well, let me -- let me again agree with Mississippi in saying that they do have a duty to protect the privacy of their citizens and the integrity of their own elections that states run.
Again, via your reporting -- not yours personally, but CNN's -- it says, you know, from -- the request was public information that doesn't run against state law, doesn't run afoul of state law.
CAMEROTA: But to what end? Why does the White -- just so that I'm clear, how does that help cut down on voter fraud? Why does the White House need that?
TAYLOR: Well, you see -- you see that the folks that are on the commission are actually from the state level that I saw. And I don't see a problem with trying to figure out if there was problems. There are a lot of people out there who do believe that there is voter fraud. So...
CAMEROTA: Right. But there's not widespread voter fraud.
TAYLOR: You say that, but that's...
CAMEROTA: Because of the numbers. I mean, I'm just reporting the data.
TAYLOR: You say that. You say that, but what's the problem in looking to it? Just like what's the problem of looking to Russian meddling in an election? I don't see a problem with that; I think it's important to do so. So you know...
CAMEROTA: Sure. I understand. I'm just giving you facts and the data that...
TAYLOR: ... as long as the information is public, as long as the states are able to -- You say that, but there's studies that say there's not. But if there is -- and I'm not -- I'm not arguing that there's widespread voter fraud or not.
CAMEROTA: But what do you think? Do you think there's widespread voter fraud?
TAYLOR: The White House -- if the White House has the prerogative -- if the White House has a prerogative to look into it, and they look for public information, that's not private...
TAYLOR: ... that doesn't run afoul of state law...
CAMEROTA: Got it.
TAYLOR: ... I don't see a problem with it. I don't see a problem with it.
CAMEROTA: I heard you. But just for your -- but just for your opinion, since you're in Congress, do you think that there's widespread voter fraud?
TAYLOR: I don't believe so. But I don't know. And I don't have a big problem with them looking into it.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Scott Taylor, thanks so much.
TAYLOR: No problem.
CAMEROTA: Happy Fourth of July.
TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: You too.
TAYLOR: You, too.
BERMAN: Nice of him to give us advice. A lot of information.
CAMEROTA: I'm getting a lot of career advice lately, from -- Kellyanne Conway gave us some last week, and the congressman.
BERMAN: Congressman Taylor is actually pleasure to talk with, and I think he likes engaging with us on a regular basis.
CAMEROTA: I agree. I agree with you. We enjoy having him on.
BERMAN: All right. Senators may be home for the Fourth. That is not stopping the debate on the Republican health care bill. Will Republicans reach out to Democrats for a compromise? We're going to get the view from one key Democratic senator. That's next.