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Backlash Grows Over Trump's Charlottesville Remarks; Republican Senators Strike Back At Trump; OSU Basketball Team Narrowly Avoids Spain Terror Attack; At Least 14 Dead, 100 Hurt In Spain Terror Attack. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 18, 2017 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:30:00] REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY), MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES, CO-CHAIR, HOUSE REPUBLICAN ISRAEL CAUCUS: And we also have to make sure that there's no ambiguity -- that there is an important message to be sent of zero tolerance whatsoever for those who associate themselves with the KKK and Nazism.

I don't think that that makes the president an incompetent president. There are people who are probably watching the show who won't be happy with anything a Republican says as long as the -- as long as President Trump is in office. And I know that while we can call out the president where we disagree with the president of our own party, I know that there a lot of people out there that no matter what we say they're not going to be happy.

And I'm not trying to undercut the president, by any means. I want him to be successful.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You're trying very hard not to, Congressman.

ZELDIN: I want our Congress to be successful.

CUOMO: You know, you're -- you know, you're burning a lot of calories trying not to call out the president and I understand that within your role within the party.

But, you know, as a proud member of the Jewish faith and somebody who's served this country, the idea that, you know, there were some good people down there marching along with the KKK. Did you know that? Do you accept that --

ZELDIN: Well, as I just pointed --

CUOMO: -- because that's what the president says.

ZELDIN: I just pointed out that --

CUOMO: The president says there were some good people down there who just want to keep the Confederate statues up. They're good people, they just happen to be with the KKK.

Do you accept that notion? ZELDIN: Well, no. I don't know of anyone who was there as part of the protest who are good people. I don't know -- I don't know everyone who was there. I don't know anyone -- any of these people who were there protesting so, you know, it's hard --

CUOMO: There are no reports from the ground that we've heard of where there was some separate march or there was a group putting out information --

ZELDIN: Right.

CUOMO: -- that they reject --

ZELDIN: So -- yes --

CUOMO: -- white supremacy -- that they just want to talk about the statues.

But the president says that there were, and what does that mean to you --

ZELDIN: Right.

CUOMO: -- as a member of the Jewish faith who is specifically targeted by these people who never talked about a statue. They talked about you never replacing them.

ZELDIN: Yes, there should -- there should not have -- there should not be anyone who is a good person who was participating in any type of an effort that in any way, shape, or form is associated with the KKK and Nazism and all of the evil that they represent.

As I pointed out in my -- you know, in a previous answer here is that there are parts of what the president said that you can say are factually inaccurate. There are other parts that are hard -- that are hard truths.

But as far as the -- you know, the factually inaccurate piece, I don't know of anyone who would be there who would associate themselves with that particular protest who are -- who are good people. And if there was, the moment that they show up at the protest and they realize that it's something other than what they thought it was, they should disassociate themselves completely and disengage from that protest and not be connected to it in any way, shape, or form.

CUOMO: Congressman, I know these are not easy conversations when the president was within your party, but that is the mantle of leadership. You are a Congressperson and we appreciate you coming on NEW DAY to talk about this. There aren't many members of your party who will.

Thank you, sir.

ZELDIN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well -- Poppy. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump increasingly isolated following his comments in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville. We will discuss the fallout ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:37:15] HARLOW: The Republican Party pushing back against the president. Senators like Bob Corker, Tim Scott questioning not only what he said but now, his stability, his ability to lead, his moral authority, in their words.

What is the impact of this as the president is increasingly isolated?

Let's bring in CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein, and "CNN POLITICS" reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza. Gentlemen, nice to have you here.

Let's take a moment to listen --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Good morning.

HARLOW: Good morning.

Let's take a moment to listen to Sen. Corker because this is someone who has, you know, taken pains to not call out the president a lot. He was considered possibly, for V.P., Secretary of State, but he didn't hold back yesterday -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.

He also, recently, has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Chris Cillizza, this was the point in your newsletter last night. That is a big deal, those words.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, CNN POLITICS: Yes, I think they are. I think, Poppy, right. We know the source matters, right?

HARLOW: Yes.

CILLIZZA: This is not Lindsey Graham or John McCain --

HARLOW: Right.

CILLIZZA: -- both serious senators, but people who have never been even close to Trump fans. This is Bob Corker, someone who has worked hard to keep a line of communication open with this White House. And so when you hear anything critical of Trump from him, I think you pay attention.

I think the critique is even more important. This is not about well, the president says some things that maybe he shouldn't say, right? That was sort of what Lee Zeldin was saying earlier in the show.

This is a fundamental questioning of whether the President of the United States is up for the job that he currently holds. Corker uses the word stability twice in the Q&A with reporters. He uses the word competence twice.

When a sitting Republican senator who is not a Trump hater questions the stability and competence of the President of the United States it's, number one, not an accident, and number two, it's something we need to pay attention to.

CUOMO: But numbers matter and there are a lot more Zeldins, Ron, than there are --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: -- Corkers.

Lee Zeldin -- I said he was burning a lot of calories, not to disrespect the Congressman --

CILLIZZA: Yes.

CUOMO: -- but just, you know, to give you a profile and the truth there, you know.

The idea that well, yes, dipping bullets in pig's blood, and slaughtering Muslims, and trying to disrespect their faith while we do it is not an effective mode of terror -- anti-terror that we're studying right now.

That's about as generous an assessment of a B.S. story and suggestion --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: -- that you can offer, and there are a lot more people doing that kind of speaking out about the president than what Corker just did.

[07:40:02] What does that mean?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, sure.

I mean, look, first of all, I mean, the argument from most Republicans that, you know, you hear privately is we can't criticize the president more forcefully while our base is still with him -- while our own voters are still with him. As I said in the last hour, if you look historically, that has not been a disqualifying dynamic for earlier generations of leaders. I mean, basically, every time when people in Congress have stood up to a president from their own party, from William Fulbright on Vietnam in '66 to the Senate Republicans on Watergate in the seventies, that president was still overwhelmingly popular with voters in their own party.

Leadership matters. Leadership can shape public opinion.

And I think also -- I think it's really important for Republicans, I think, in Congress to understand where -- what the trajectory of this administration is.

I mean, Steve Bannon, you know, kind of came out of seclusion with e- mails and comments to several news organizations in the last few days saying if they want to talk about race every day, we'll win talking about economics. In fact, I would argue that the sequence is exactly the opposite.

It was only after the health care bill and the erosion that that created in the president's support among blue-collar and older adults, two cornerstones of his coalition, when he kind of moved away from his promise to protect them economically during the campaign.

Only after that have we seen the administration turn sharply right on a series of cultural and racial issues culminating in Charlottesville. And I think that is what Republicans can probably expect more of in the months and years ahead and they've got to decide are they willing to stay on that ride.

HARLOW: Chris --

CILLIZZA: And just -- yes. I'd probably just quickly add to the trajectory point.

Where -- if you're a Republican elected official, let's say, where do you think this goes?

I mean, you know, I heard someone last night say well, what's needed -- I think it was Jack Kingston. What's needed is that Donald Trump may need, you know -- he needs a course correction.

This is Donald Trump. He's a 71-year-old man. He's -- we now have two-plus years of him as either a -- you know, as a candidate and now as president. The idea that Donald Trump is suddenly going to become someone other than who he is seems to me a little bit of a fantasy.

BROWNSTEIN: And it's not only -- it's not only the personal kind of qualities, it -- there's truly a political calculation here, again.

From the beginning, President Trump and his team have believed that the way to win is to mobilize the elements of the Republican coalition, first in the primary and then in the country, that are the most uneasy about demographic change, whether it's, you know, blue- collar, older, evangelical, and non-urban whites. That -- and mobilizing that base and feeding that base has been the most consistent political note.

And so the question for Republicans is do they believe that is enough in a diversifying, urbanizing country. It is not only moral, there's a political calculus at work for them, as well.

CUOMO: All right, gentlemen, appreciate it. Thank you for the perspective, as always.

I mean, you have to say, if nothing else, what we've seen with Charlottesville and what the president said about studying the fake Pershing story, it's very clear what his strategy is and who he's trying to cultivate. Will it work for the country? We'll see.

U.S. college basketball teams caught in Spain during that deadly terror attack. How did they fare, what did they do? We have the details in the "Bleacher Report."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:47:05] HARLOW: The Oregon State men's basketball team narrowly avoided becoming victims of the terror attack in Barcelona.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report" this morning. Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Poppy.

A number of college basketball teams are currently in Barcelona playing exhibition games and doing some sightseeing and the attack happened right in front of the hotel where Oregon State is staying.

Now, they were eating a pre-game dinner at the time and everyone is safe. And head coach Wayne Tinkle posted a video describing the team's experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE TINKLE, HEAD BASKETBALL COACH, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY: And literally looking out of our window -- we won't show you pictures, but some horrific sights. Several fatalities within eyesight of our hotel rooms.

I know people back home are concerned but I don't think they understand the gravity of what occurred here today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, teams from several other schools, including Arizona and Clemson, are also in Barcelona on similar tours. But Chris, luckily, every team that was in Spain has checked in as safe after the attack.

CUOMO: A scary situation for all involved.

Andy, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right. CUOMO: So, terrorists, as we were just referring, struck one of the biggest tourist destinations in Spain -- that wasn't by accident -- and they were using a weapon that we're seeing more and more now that makes it even harder to protect what's called soft targets.

We have a former Homeland Security adviser with what this means for the fight against terror, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:40] HARLOW: The death toll in Spain has risen to 14 victims that were killed and scores injured after this string of terror attacks throughout the country.

This is just the latest case of vans and trucks mowing down crowds -- the people in very popular tourist destinations across the Europe. What can you learn from these attacks?

Let's discuss with CNN senior national security analyst and former Homeland Security adviser to President Obama, Lisa Monaco. It is nice to have you here.

LISA MONACO, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning, Poppy.

HARLOW: Good morning.

Las Ramblas -- I mean, if you've been to Barcelona you've had lunch and you've walked down Las Ramblas. This is like the equivalent to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.And you argue that this attack looks more and more like the big Paris terror attack in 2015. Why?

MONACO: Well, it's starting to look like that. What we've seen in the reports over the last 24 hours and we now have reports of back-to- back vehicle terrorism attacks, both in Las Ramblas and to the south of Barcelona last night. We have this report of the explosion in the apartments the night before. All of this comes together and starts to look more like a complex attack.

Now, it's still early days and we're going to have to see what the authorities uncover. And we've seen Islamic State-supported media claim credit for this, as well.

HARLOW: So the fact that Spain had largely been immune from this -- there have been no terrorist attacks in Spain since 2004 --

MONACO: Right.

HARLOW: -- or since 190 people died in the train system attack -- Spain had been doing a very good job of its counterterrorism effort -- prevention effort.

The fact that it has now hit Spain tells you what?

MONACO: It tells us that the perpetrators of this are at least adhering to direction that has come from the Islamic State. We'll see if this is, in fact, directed by ISIS leadership. But even it was merely inspired by it, they are using the same tactics that ISIS has told its followers to use.

HARLOW: And the weakening of ISIS on the ground in Syria and Iraq says something as well, right, because to drive a van into a group of people takes no training.

MONACO: Yes.

HARLOW: It takes no ability to build bombs, and this house that exploded may have been their bomb factory, we don't know.

MONACO: Right.

HARLOW: But that aside, I mean, this is a weaponization of vehicles that al-Qaeda pushed, you know, from 2010 on, that ISIS is pushing, and it's terrifying for people.

[07:55:07] And, you know, I'm about to fly with our daughter --

MONACO: Yes.

HARLOW: -- to Europe on Saturday.

It's terrifying for Americans. What are they supposed to think?

MONACO: It's absolutely terrifying. It's deeply unsettling for people to see these types of everyday items that we use in our lives be used as a weapon of terrorism. This kind of car carnage that we're seeing is deeply unsettling.

I think what individuals have to do is understand that these attacks are meant to instill fear. Terrorists want us to change our lives. They want us to change what we do as we go about our business and we can't do that. Then the terrorists win.

We've seen government try and put around barriers around tourist attractions and other pedestrian malls and the like.

HARLOW: Yes.

MONACO: The problem is we can't barricade ourselves off from our everyday life.

HARLOW: The president was very quick to condemn this as a terror attack immediately after he was -- he hedged, to say the least, on Charlottesville, calling that, you know, an act of domestic terror for quite awhile.

And he followed up yesterday's remarks on Twitter, calling this a terror attack by pushing a fact-free story about a general more than 100 years ago in Spain, dipping bullets into pig's blood and killing Muslim terrorists, et cetera. Not only incredibly insulting to the Muslim faith but with no basis in fact. And he told the American people -- he said to study it.

MONACO: Yes.

HARLOW: That was his reaction to this.

Your thoughts?

MONACO: It's absurd and it's dangerous. It's absurd not only because fact-free, it's absolutely without any basis. It's been debunked by historians for years.

And it's dangerous because it's putting forward, basically claiming we should use an atrocity -- in essence, a war crime in response to terrorism.

HARLOW: But that doesn't embolden --

Some have made the point that it was just further would embolden those who are enemies of Americansoverseas to hurt them.

MONACO: Well, anytime you play into with rhetoric of the kind we saw yesterday, you play into the ISIS message that we are in a war with Islam. That's what they use to recruit individuals to their fights to come and become radicalized.

So anytime you use rhetoric like the type we saw yesterday you're playing into that message and helping their recruitment and, indeed, making -- seeding their message that U.S. citizens should be a target.

HARLOW: So if you were -- and I know you are not advising this president but you did advise President Obama on things like this.

MONACO: Yes.

HARLOW: What would you tell President Trump? What does he need to say and do next?

MONACO: Look, the U.S. should be doing, in the aftermath of a horror like this that's visited upon our ally -- and, of course, Spain's a NATO ally -- is showing steady strength and resolve, and solidarity with our Spanish partners.

And sending out a message of resilience, and strength, and hope, and solidarity that we are with them. That we'll provide any assistance we can. And that we should all stand strong as allies against this type of terrorism.

HARLOW: We've heard that more from the vice president in his remarks than you -- than you did from the president. In his first tweet condemning it, but the second one, of course, pushing something not true is what has everyone questioning what he was thinking.

Lisa Monaco, appreciate the analysis. Thank you. Nice to have you.

MONACO: Good to be with you.

HARLOW: Chris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: A second attack coming hours after the worst act of terror in Spain in over a decade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you could hear was so much chaos and everyone just screaming and yelling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just plowing people down.

HARLOW: President Trump under fire this morning for his response to the tragedy in Barcelona, retelling a debunked mythical story about Gen. Pershing shooting Muslims.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: Terrorists should know the United States and our allies are resolved to bringing justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just when you think it couldn't any worse, he quadruples down.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What we want to see is clarity and moral authority, and that moral authority is compromised.

CORKER: He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.

WILLIAM KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": This is a party that is in crisis and it couldn't have happened at a worse time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, August 18th, 8:00 in the East.

Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow has been here all week and there's been a lot of news.

HARLOW: Lots.

CUOMO: Thanks for being with me.

HARLOW: Sure.

CUOMO: All right.

So, up first, the death toll rising to 14 lives lost in terror attacks in Spain, 13 of them taken when a van plowed into a crowd of people in the city's popular district known as Las Ramblas. Police just arresting a fourth suspect only moments ago. The search, however, continuing for the driver of the van.