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How Will New White House Communications Team Handle The Press?; President Trump: "Drain The Sewer"; Democrats Hope To Unify Under New Economic Plan. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 06:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- these new sanctions in, where do you take the relationship with Russia? I have a little sympathy for the president on one point here, which is most presidents have the ability to lift some sanctions, as President Obama did with Iran, for diplomatic purposes. The president has basically cut himself out of that by the way he's handled this.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Gentlemen, thank you very much for all of that perspective.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Another very big story we have to cover with you this morning. Nine undocumented immigrants, at the latest count, have been found dead in Texas. There are 20 more fighting for their lives. There was this huge group of people all found in a truck. They were victims of human trafficking. The details are terrible. We have them next.


CUOMO: Breaking news out of Arizona, rescue crews racing to save 17 hikers, who got caught up in severe flashfloods.

[06:35:03] You can see here one man being air lifted to safety. Eight people including a 4-year-old boy have also been rescued from raging waters all throughout the day.

CAMEROTA: Now to this terrible story. Nine people confirmed dead in what's being treated as a human trafficking case. Authorities say more than 100 people were crammed inside a tractor-trailer at a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.

More than two dozen other victims were sent to the hospital suffering from heat stroke and dehydration. The tractor-trailer's driver identified as James Bradley of Clearwater, Florida, will be in court later today.

CUOMO: I was recently on the border, and they say because of the political pressure, legal pressure, they're trying to cram more people into these trips across the border, now making it even more dangerous and more deadly.

All right, another story for you this morning, the president tweeting a veiled threat to Republicans, "Calling again on the GOP to repeal and replace the disastrous," that's his word if you look at your screen, "Obamacare."

Adding, quote, "The repercussions will be far greater than lawmakers might expect." The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on this procedural motion. This kind of vote to vote again, to bring up the House-passed Obamacare repeal legislation as it stands right now. Republican leaders don't have the votes for that.

CAMEROTA: So there is a new communications team at the White House. Does that mean there's some hope for a reset with the media? What does it mean for press briefings? We take a closer look at all of this when NEW DAY continues.



ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I love the president. I'm very loyal to the president. I love these guys. I respect these guys. I love the president. The president is phenomenal to the press. The president himself is always going to be the president.

I think he's got some of the best political instincts in the world and perhaps in history. He's done a phenomenal job for the American people.


[06:40:04] CAMEROTA: All right, that's new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, wooing President Trump. Sean Spicer, the former press secretary is out, as you may have heard. So, will these changes somehow turn around the White House's messaging and relationship with the press?

Let's bring in chairman of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, and former White House communications director under President Obama, Anita Dunn. Great the see both of you.

Anita, I want to start with you. Anthony Scaramucci is an interesting guy. He is on the record, on Twitter, on videotape, disagreeing with many of President Trump's positions. Anthony Scaramucci is pro- choice, pro-gun control, against the death penalty.

He's called President Trump a spectacle. He says he doesn't like how President Trump has spoken about women. I mean, I could go on. How is this going to work for him to be the head of President Trump's communications team?

ANITA DUNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You know, it's not unusual for people who in the past have disagreed with the candidate to end up working with them, especially when you've gone through a contested primary process. This does seem to be a rather aggravated example of that. You know, Anthony Scaramucci has made the decision he is going to be Donald Trump's spokesperson, and in that capacity, he is in many ways, like his lawyer, I've always said a good press secretary is like a good lawyer, you're arguing your case.

What's interesting about your approach to the job is that rather than seeing it as a job where he's communicating the administration's priorities out to the public, at least initially he seems to see the job as one where he has to communicate to the president how great he is. That is a non-traditional job description as the White House communications director.

CAMEROTA: That's a diplomatic term, slightly non-traditional. Matt, look, it's been said before that there is a constituency of one sometimes when you hear the press office speaking because they know that they're going to go back to the White House and President Trump is going to give them a grade on how he thinks they did.

So, sometimes they telegraph their feelings directly to the president, as I think you heard, Anthony Scaramucci saying, I love the president, the president is wonderful. But what about all of these different positions that he's had than President Trump? Does he just sublimate his own feelings? Now he's no longer pro-choice, pro-gun control, has any objection to what the president has said in the past?

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, the hard, cold reality, Alisyn. When you join an administration, when you work for a White House, it's no longer about your opinions. It's about the president's opinions.

The hard thing for people who are in the communications shop who has to actually speak for a president is they have to put their ideas aside. The reason why you take the job, you might ask yourself, well, why would someone who has disagreements with the president take the job.

In most cases it's because they really admire that president they work for. They like the agenda overall, and they want to be an asset. But I can't tell you how many times in my experience when people are having beers at the end of the day, then the real honest disagreements come out. When the cameras are on, you've got the president's back.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I get it. But it just seems to me that he's farther away from the president's agenda than we've heard other recent press secretaries.

SCHLAPP: I don't think that's right.

CAMEROTA: Well, let me just play for you -- I mean, this is the thing that Anthony Scaramucci says he wishes he hadn't said and that he could take back. So, this is where he was on Fox News calling President Trump in names. So, listen to this.


SCARAMUCCI: That's another hack politician. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called Donald Trump a hack?

SCARAMUCCI: He's a hack politician. He's probably going to make Elizabeth Warren his vice presidential nominee with comments like that. It's anti American, very, very divisive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think Donald is a --

SCARAMUCCI: I'll tell who is going to be president of, you can tell Donald I said this, the Queens County Bullies Association. You have to cut it out now and stop all this crazy rhetoric.


CAMEROTA: He calls him anti American, a bully, a hack. Just one more second with you, Matt. This is a long bridge to cross for Anthony Scaramucci.

SCHLAPP: Yes. Let me tell you, Alisyn. I think about this every time I come on your show. Words come to haunt you and I don't think the president, if he's ever mad at Scaramucci, I think he might play that tape for him and remind him that he's said these things.

But look, the president has seen it all and I know they have a good and warm personal relationship. It's exactly what the White House needs. The president needs a communications team who he will listen to and who he respects at this time more than ever.

CAMEROTA: Anita, President Trump has a new tweet out. I know you haven't seen that yet, so you'll be responding in realtime, "Drain the swamp should be changed to drain the sewer. It's actually much worse than anyone thought. It begins with the fake news."

So, President Trump does his own communicating with the public. Anthony Scaramucci has to expound on that or sometimes clean it up. He's going have a challenging job.

[06:45:11] DUNN: He has the most challenging job in Washington because I think most presidents feel at the end of the day that their communications could be better. If people understood them better, they would have much more support.

Again, Donald Trump is his own communications director, his own political director, to some extent his own chief of staff, and he was his own campaign manager. That makes Anthony Scaramucci's job that much more challenging.

I think that as he actually learns what the job is because, of course, he has no government experience the same way the president has no government experience -- he may find that it is, indeed, tougher than he had thought.

CAMEROTA: It will be very interesting to see what happens over the course of the next few days and weeks. Matt and Anita, thank you very much -- Chris. CUOMO: All right. Democrats hoping to turn the tide in 2018 by unveiling an economic plan today. People have been calling for the Democrats to step up with ideas on the ACA, on the economy. They say we have a better deal. What is it? Details next.



SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: It is in part our fault. When you lose an election with someone who has 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say what did we do wrong?


CUOMO: This is something a lot of Democrats don't want to hear. What do you mean? It wasn't the media? It wasn't Donald Trump and hate that made us lose the election? Maybe it was the Democratic Party.

[06:50:01] A lot of Democrats don't want to hear that. That is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest elected Democrat in the country, saying the party needs to blame itself for losses in the 2016 election, not Russia, not Comey.

Well, but the Democrats in elected office right now are doing something else, other than just looking back, they're looking forward. They have a new economic agenda called a better deal. What is it?

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Democrat from California. Of course, good to have you with us this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Glad to be with you this morning.

CUOMO: We'll talk about the politics and Schumer and what that means for your party. I want to know what is the better deal? We've been pushing on the Democrats, what are you going to come up with, where are your ideas?

The headlines I get are these, create more full-time jobs for 10 million Americans, crack down on big corporate mergers, lower prescription drug prices. How do you weave those three things together?

LEE: Sure. Thank you very much, Chris. Later today the full agenda will be rolled out. Let me first speak to the process in terms of our leadership. Our communications team met with the majority of the members of our Democratic caucus, and we're a very diverse caucus.

And got input into this agenda, and what we found through the meetings and discussions is people really want to look at where Democrats stand in terms of economic security, in terms of good paying jobs, in terms of health care.

And so, we have a variety of districts. We have suburban, rural, urban districts, and this message was discussed so we could make sure we could talk about what we stand for in all of our districts.

But what's important is our agenda and what we do to make sure that people throughout the country, not just Democrats, but Republicans and independents know that we're fighting for them for economic (inaudible).

CUOMO: Well, so you have the message and there's no question. I remember growing up the Democratic Party was the blue collar party. That seems to have switched now where the Republican Party is the blue collar party and the Democrats are the white collar party. Do you agree with that assessment?

LEE: No, I don't agree. When you look at our history in fighting for good paying jobs and fighting for lifting people out of poverty, 47 million people living below the poverty line working, the working poor, the low-income individuals, the middle class, Democrats historically have fought to do that.

CUOMO: True. But you don't feel that there's been a narrative shift in terms of how the parties are perceived?

LEE: Well, that may be because of the headline sound bites. It may be because we haven't done a good enough job in communicating our message and what we stand for and who we are and what we have done and will continue to do.

That's why we're rolling this out today to make sure that the public understands that we're not only fighting for Democrats, we're fighting for the country, fighting for economic security, for jobs, for living wages, for health care, and they will say we've been there all along, but haven't been able to break through in terms of the sound bites and the media.

CUOMO: Any how when it comes to 10 million full-time jobs?

LEE: Well, it will be rolled out later. I think all of us will have our piece in terms of how it will work. Remember, we're in the minority now in the Congress. We're still fighting for infrastructure, for efforts to -- I'm on the Appropriations Committee, for example

Let me tell you, we worked on the bills last week, and it's very clear that the Republicans stand for millionaires and billionaires, these huge cuts. Look at State Department cuts. They want to propose 30 percent in cuts, cutting workforce training, cutting apprenticeship programs.

We're trying to make sure that the public understands -- we're there fighting to make sure they have the skills and the education necessary to compete in the global economy so that they can have a better standard of living for their families. That's what everyone wants.

CUOMO: Prescription drug prices, is a huge thing, for Democrats and Republicans. Everybody will agree the ACA needs fixes when you look at the individual markets. It often comes down to cost structure. Drug prices are a huge part of cost structure. How aggressive do you think this move will be on lowering drug prices?

LEE: When you look at the Affordable Care Act and where the improvements are necessary, prescription drug costs are one area. We're going to work hard to make sure that we -- look at the VA, for example, to make sure that we ensure people have the chance to reduce their prescription drugs through perhaps bulk buying and economies of scale.

And so, it's very important that people understand. We've been trying this for years. It hasn't worked. But we will definitely move forward so the public understands what it will take to work. First, Republicans must stop this effort to repeal and take away health care from 22 million people.

CUOMO: Look, this could be something where you find some common ground. A lot of Republicans talk about drug prices as well. It will be interesting to see if we can see some type of cooperation on it. As you say, the details will be out later today.

[06:55:06] But there is something that we should discuss right now. You talked about appropriations earlier. Ryan is taking the AUMF out of the appropriations bill. It's not going to be part of what hits the floor and gets discussed.

What's the AUMF? The authorization for the use of military force. Everything the U.S. military does right now, it's still doing under official authority from 2001, the war on terror.

It just doesn't make sense, Barbara Lee, doesn't make sense we're still fighting on language against the Taliban in 2001. The world has changed. Why doesn't Congress step up and own its Constitutional responsibility to declare war in situations?

LEE: Congress is missing in action. This resolution -- I was the only one who voted against it in 2001 because it was overly broad, 60 words and it gave authority to any president to wage war.

I've been trying for years and years and years to repeal this, and say Congress must debate and vote, whether we vote up or down, the substance of it we would discuss, the cost and consequences.

We are 16 years into this. What happened in the Appropriations Committee was finally I was able to get bipartisan support to pass this on a voice vote. People actually applauded after it was passed. We had worked very hard for years to build this kind of bipartisan support.

Example of bipartisanship, what happens in this overall process? The bill moves from the Appropriations Committee onto the floor, needing to go through the Rules Committee which establishes the parameters for the debate.

In the middle of the night, several nights ago, it just disappeared out of a 326-word document, a bill that was democratically voted on, that the people in our country asked their members to vote for as their constituents, Paul Ryan just took it out. It just disappeared. That is underhanded. It undermined our democratic process. It's wrong. This shows an exam of how they really don't want to work in a bipartisan way. I don't know what the speaker is afraid of.

Congress is missing in action. We need to do our job. It's our constitutional responsibility. We're going to keep working and fighting. We're building a broader base of support and I think sooner or later we'll get this done.

CUOMO: Well, we will chase down what's going on, on that, and we look forward to the details of a better deal later today. Barbara Lee, thank you for being on NEW DAY. Appreciate it.

LEE: My pleasure. Glad to be with you.

CUOMO: All right -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Chris, we are going to much more on our developing story. Jared Kushner's new statement released just this hour. What he said about the meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.



CUOMO: Jared Kushner put out an 11-page statement for the public record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sharing his side of the story about Russian contacts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kushner has the most to lose at this moment in the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a lot of ground to cover. We want to know about several meetings that have been alleged to have taken place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hasn't made a decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he vetoes the bill, we will override his veto.