Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Protesters Gather As Trump Holds Campaign Rally In AZ; Source: Trump Border Visit Canceled Over Security Concerns; Protesters Challenge Trump Supporters As They Enter Rally; NYT: McConnell Questions Whether Trump Can Salvage Presidency; Interview with Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 22, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOSTHOR: Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT starts right now.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, President Trump about to hold a major campaign rally. Protesters are out to greet him. What is his message tonight?
And more breaking news, Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly haven't spoken in weeks. Angry phone calls, private bad mouthing. McConnell now casting doubt on Trump's ability to salvage his presidency.
Plus, an influential Democrat calls for Trump's removal from office. Why she says that he is mentally unfit to serve.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto in again tonight for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. President Trump arriving in phoenix, Arizona moments ago ready to speak to thousands of supporters at a campaign rally.
That's right. This is an official campaign event for 2020, paid for by the Trump/Pence reelection campaign. However, also greeting the president tonight, angry protesters fired up by Mr. Trump's widely criticized remarks following events in Charlottesville, and making a stand tonight despite triple digit temperatures there.
This as the New York Times is reporting that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately doubts that Trump can save his presidency, as the two are increasingly locked in a bitter political and personal stand off.
Trump's fight with his own party is particularly pointed in Arizona. Tonight, he will be joined by Kelli Ward, a conservative running against Senator Jeff Flake in the state.
We have reporters covering this both inside the convention center and on the street with the protesters. But we begin tonight with Sara Murray standing by for President Trump. And Sara, who are we expecting to show up tonight? The president we saw last night or that more fiery president we often see at campaign rallies like this?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a great question, Jim. Look, there are teleprompters set up behind me but we know that these rallies are some of the president's favorite events.
We do know at least one thing is off the table. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary says President Trump will not pardon controversial sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was held in contempt at Fort for violating a judge's orders in a racial profiling case. So that is not coming tonight.
But that still leaves open the question of whether he is going to show up spitting victory over at some of his fellow Republicans. Jeff Flake, John McCain, both Republican senators in the state have been harsh critics of president Trump. And as you pointed out, one of Flake's challengers that President Trump has lavished praise on will be here in the arena for the event tonight.
So we will see what tone the president take.
SCIUTTO: Interesting. One of the questions is whether he's going to take a harsh line against Republicans, members of his own party.
Sara, the president was also supposed to visit the U.S./Mexico border today but that visit was canceled last minute. Do we know why that is?
MURRAY: That's right. So he was hoping when he was making the stop in Yuma to go about 20 miles to the border and do a tour of the U.S./Mexico border. Sources are telling one of our White House producers, Kevin Liptak that that had to be scrapped because of security concerns.
Now, they're not giving any details on the nature of that security threat, but obviously a blow for the president, who was hoping that he could go there and sort of have yet another talking point as he comes and prepares to talk about immigration most likely here at the Phoenix rally.
Now, he still did the stop in Yuma. He toured border enforcement supplies essentially, but certainly not the border trip the president was hoping for.
SCIUTTO: And still seeking money for that border wall. Sara Murray with the president there.
Outside that arena also in Phoenix tonight, among the many protesters there. Miguel, what is the scene there and what are you hearing from the protesters gathered?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anger, in a word, Jim. There -- let me show you what's going on here. You have about 30, maybe 40 protesters here who have come here to basically taunt the president's supporters as they file into the convention center. Right in between them are the Phoenix police and they put up steel barricades as well.
The police are in a sort of a difficult situation here. They want to ensure everyone's First Amendments rights, but they also want to maintain safety.
There are several groups, certainly anti-Trump groups, Jewish groups, immigration groups, all gathering at different parts of the city right now. Presumably, they will all march in this direction.
Many of the people I've talked to here say that they are self- organizing and they've come to this area, basically, to challenge the president's supporters as they file into the convention center.
The police here are treating this as sort of a very large event, the Super Bowl or the World Series. They are on all hands on deck effort here. They have coordinated with several different law enforcement agencies, including the National Guard in case things get out of hand here.
[19:05:08] For the moment, you have about 30, maybe 40 anti-Trump, anti President Trump people out here who are challenging the people coming in. There are angry words being exchanged. But so far, that's it. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Let's hope it keeps no violence there. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.
OUTFRONT tonight, Mark Preston, our senior political analyst, Nia- Malika Henderson, senior political reporter, Sara Murray, back with me as well.
Mark, if I could begin with you. New reporting from the New York Times really remarkable tonight about this really crumbling relationship between Trump and McConnell, according to people who have spoken with the Senate majority leader.
The paper says, and I'm reading here, quote, McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump's presidency maybe headed and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year's elections and beyond.
That's remarkable from the Republican Senate majority leader to doubt whether the Republican president can salvage his presidency.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Extraordinary, Jim. I mean, look, cannot recall any time in my career having seen relations so bad between members of the same party, one, living in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and one working right down the street in Capitol Hill.
I'm not surprised, though. The fact is Donald Trump hasn't really done a whole lot to help Congress get these major bills passed. Whether that be health care and now as we're heading into infrastructure, the infrastructure bill as well as tax reform.
I think what we're seeing right now is a level of frustration that starting to boil over and really what knocked the lid off is Donald Trump's remarks down in Charlottes -- or about Charlottesville that really allowed these Republicans who have been frustrated with Donald Trump to now start to express some anger and we're starting to see this being leaked out to sources.
SCIUTTO: Yes, very publically leaked out. The relationship between the president and majority leader, crucial to get any of the many things that the president and Republicans want to get done in coming weeks. Mark mentioned there, infrastructure, tax, even the basics of getting a budget passed.
Can the president and the Republican-led Congress do that if you have the two leaders, in effect, battling each other so openly here?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, it's already clear that that is hard because they've only got the 52 seats, not a big majority. And we've seen so far what happened with health care.
And now that Trump is so openly feuding with Mitch McConnell, it's hard to see what they're going to be able to do. I mean, I think it is imperative in many ways for Mitch McConnell's job in terms of wanting to remain as the Senate majority leader. It is imperative that they have some legislative accomplishments.
It is imperative also for Donald Trump, if he wants to be a good president and to sort of deliver on this promise of his election, his campaign promises, he's got to figure out a way to work with folks on the Hill, his colleagues, right?
I mean, I think this was a huge, you know, pushback that we just haven't seen from Republicans so far. And they're basically saying to Donald Trump, you've got to straighten up. You can't be going after Republicans who he needs to get stuff done.
SCIUTTO: It is remarkable and Republicans have control of all three, both the houses and the presidency and to have this kind of division boiling over really remarkable.
Sara, you've been traveling with the White House there. Are White House officials pushing back on this sort of apocalyptic description of the president's relationship with the Senate Majority leader?
MURRAY: Well, let's just say they're downplaying it. They're basically saying, look, it's August, it's not out of the ordinary, perhaps that President Trump and Mitch McConnell have not spoken. They said it's not going to be a huge hurdle.
That seems like a pretty optimistic view. You guys ran through what is a laundry list of big priorities on the table as soon as you get back from this August recess. It seems like that might be something that the president wants to talk to the majority leader about in the Senate. But, again, watch for his tone tonight. If President Trump comes out here at this rally and he decides to unleash yet again on Jeff Flake or lavish praise on Kelli Ward, that's just another thing that's going to stick in Mitch McConnell's (INAUDIBLE). And from the side of the Senate, I can say they will actually has been saying, does the president not understand that you're making it even more difficult to hold the majority in the Senate, even more difficult for us to try to get things done if you're going to try to primary the people who are going to be up on 2018.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, this is not just about vacation, staying out of touch. I mean, the New York Times describes a phone call where they were exchanging expletives on the phone.
But Mark, one of the many issues between Trump and McConnell, of course Trump's attacks on sitting Republican senators. Tonight, the president expected to go after a Republican, in Arizona, Senator Jeff Flake.
[19:10:01] The president has called him toxic, he has tweeted support for Flake's primary opponent, that is Kelli Ward. And in fact, we hear she's going to be there in the audience tonight. Here is a portion of the anti-war ad put out by a super PAC close to the Senate majority leader. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Embarrassing behavior. Dangerous ideas. No wonder Republicans rejected her just one year ago. Chemtrail Kelly, not conservative, just crazy ideas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: The ad noting she ran against McCain, of course, and lost that race. Why would the president dig in on this fight?
PRESTON: Because for all the success that he had, in winning over the electorate and winning in November, defeating Hillary Clinton against all the odds, he's not very political. He doesn't have a very smart political bone in his body.
And that's why I think that if we are going to see some kind of battle build up between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, my money is going to be on Mitch McConnell because Mitch McConnell has seen presidents come and gone.
Mitch McConnell is a very quiet person that our viewers probably don't know a lot about because he keeps to himself. But he's a street fighter and he fights to win. I cannot imagine that Mitch McConnell is going to shirk away from any kind of battle with Donald Trump.
And the battle that Donald Trump seems to be taking on is trying to take out incumbent senators. It's Mitch McConnell's job as the Senate Republican leader to make sure that they win reelection. And Mitch McConnell does know how to win, so we'll see how this plays out.
But, you know, when you look at it politically, it's a problem. When you look at it legislatively, as we talked at the top of this segment, Jim, that's a bigger problem.
SCIUTTO: Nia, when we've seen public disputes become public between the president and his advisors, whether its Reince Priebus or Steve Bannon, those are people that the president can ask to leave. He cannot ask the Senate majority leader to leave.
HENDERSON: Right. And Mitch McConnell enjoys the confidence of his conference, right? Republicans like -- Republicans in the Senate like Mitch, right? And that's what we've seen, sort of a support.
We of course have seen some real anti-McConnell fervor on the far right, sort of the Bannon Breitbart wing of the party. I was looking at the website today of Breitbart and they talked about Mitch McConnell and his low approval rating.
I think Donald Trump looks at this and feels like this is a fight he can win, right. This is essentially the way he won the nomination, going against the establishment. Remember, his whole idea was that he alone could fix it.
So I think we're seeing that again in terms of how he's waging this fight. He thinks he's more popular than Mitch McConnell and he might be. His approval rating might be higher. But again, Mitch McConnell is key to Donald Trump's success as well and it's something that Donald Trump doesn't seem to get at this point.
SCIUTTO: What do they say about military commanders fighting the last war, right? Not always the successful thing to do.
Mark, Nia, Sara Murray, thanks very much.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news. The reporter who broke the story on that deteriorating relationship between the Senate majority leader and the president, he is hearing from more Republicans since his article posted. We're going to have the latest.
Plus, a CNN exclusive, Breitbart punked by a prank that exposes the, quote, dirty work, it is willing to do against White House insiders, including the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump. We've got those revealing e-mails.
And the Treasury secretary's wife is apologizing tonight. Is she Washington's Marie Antoinette?
[19:16:57] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, stunning new details tonight about the deteriorating relationship between the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course a Republican and President Trump. The Republican leader questioning whether President Trump can salvage his presidency.
That according to the New York Times which is reporting that the relationship between the two leaders so frayed, the two men have not spoken to each other in weeks. OUTFRONT tonight, Jonathan Martin who first broke the story for the New York Times. Jonathan, I mean, really just incredible details in here, including about phone calls, breaking into expletive (INAUDIBLE) discussions. Just how bad did you find the relationship between McConnell and Trump here?
JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITCAL CORRESPONDENT THE NEW YORK TIMES: We talked to dozens of people who are very familiar with both men and I think it's safe to say that Senate Leader McConnell, who has been in the Senate since 1984 has not been on the receiving end of a phone conversation from somebody at this level of politics during his career in the United States Senate and certainly not from a president.
President Trump, our sources tell us was furious at Senator McConnell. The pretext was the health care bill. But he quickly started talking about the Russia investigation, intimating that Senate Leader McConnell should be doing more to protect President Trump on the Russia investigation. The information quickly devolve, cussing ensued, and voices were raised and they have not spoken since then.
SCIUTTO: Listen, that's becoming a pattern for this president with the attorney general, the FBI director, the Senate majority leader here now asking for protection from the Russia, from the Russia probe. It is truly remarkable for the GOP, the Senate majority leader to question a Republican -- whether a Republican president can salvage his presidency at this point. What's behind his judgment on that?
MARTIN: There are a couple of issues. First of all, the failure of the health care bill and the president's unwillingness to really get involved in either the salesmanship of the health care bill or really knowing even the basics about the bill. That's the first thing.
The second thing is, the open warfare that this president stages against Republican senators, whether it's Senator McConnell, Senator Flake, Senator Graham, Senator McCain so that's a pretty long list. When you're the sitting president and the leader of a party and you openly attack members of your own conference with a two-seat majority, those things can get the leader of the Senate pretty angry.
The last thing is what happened in Charlottesville last week. And the president's response to the unrest in Charlottesville and the death in Charlottesville, I should say. And I think what that did is created something on a breaking point where a lot of senators who were upset over the first two points that I mentioned, the health care bill and these open attacks against senators, this was kind of the last straw for some folks, including senators who don't usually go after the president, who have just had enough.
And I think Senator McConnell's frustration reflects a lot of folks in his conference. I had a senator call me tonight after the story was published on the web who said, the president acts erratically, he's consumed with the Russia issue. And this senator said it's imperative that President Trump learn more about the tax reform issue that's going to be front and center this fall.
[19:20:14] This senator telling me that President Trump cannot get this tax reform bill unless he uses the bully pulpit and notes sharply that the president's vocabulary on the health care bill was about 10 words total and that can't be the case on tax reform.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Its right it goes to competency but it is interesting to have Republicans raising hard questions about stability. It's truly remarkable like Senator Corker last week in public.
Speaking of Russia in particular, you write that, "He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader's refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation." How much is this specific to the Russia investigation and affecting that relationship with Republicans?
MARTIN: Oh, I think that on President Trump's end that's a huge cause of frustration. You've got two committees, the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee looking at the president's connections to Russia. And I think that bothers President Trump to no end.
He is consumed with this issue as senators have told us. And he believes that the focus on the Russia story is not about his ties to the Russians or Putin but it's about trying to delegitimize his victory against Hillary Clinton last fall.
That's the president's view and so I think that's why he's so angry over the Russia issue.
SCIUTTO: Jonathan Martin, really just incredible story. Thanks for joining us.
MARTIN: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT now, Former Republican Congressman Jack Kingston. He is also a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign and Hunter Bates, he is the former chief of staff for Senator Mitch McConnell.
Jack, I want to start with you. I know you have been speaking to the White House tonight. Are they pushing back on this description here or they defending the president's position?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I think what they're point now is something that we all know, that this is the New York Times, the number one critic -- institutional critic of the president in the country who one more time is writing an article based on anonymous sources.
I think it would really be a story if Jonathan Martin was saying, this is what Senator McConnell told me and this is what the chief of staff told me, or this is what the president told me. But it's always the New York Times with these --
SCIUTTO: It's the New York Times quoting Republican sources here, it's not- --
KINGSTON: Well, I --
SCIUTTO: -- and keep in mind, that's where his description is coming from.
KINGSTON: Well, there are a lot of people out there who claim to be Republicans and want to, I guess, win a chip with the New York Times and talking off record. But I -- really I got to say, it means something when they go on record as somebody who was in Republican leadership --
SCIUTTO: But set aside the journalistic part for a moment. But the fact is McConnell and Trump has very publically gone after each other. You remember from the steps -- from Bedminster, the president was saying to do your job, Mitch via twitter. There were other public comments on camera from both of them.
So this kind of disagreement is not confined to a New York Times story. I'm curious, Jack, if you are saying that there is no deterioration in the relationship.
KINGSTON: No. Really, I think there's no deterioration. I think that there's been some elbows that have been, you know, knocked around a little bit. But I have been with President Trump when he's been on the phone with leaders and he can be a tough guy.
But, you know, that's part of draining the swamp, bringing a different culture to Washington. And frankly I, you know, I served for 22 years, I think that the Washington does need to be shook up a little bit. And sometimes you got to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
SCIUTTO: You have to convince me that expletive filled phone calls with the Senate majority leader somehow bring that relationship along.
But Hunter, you know Senator McConnell very well. You work with him for a long time. Do you believe that this the truth of the relationship from McConnell's perspective?
HUNTER BATES, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: Look, I think the New York Times article saying that the entire Republican agenda is threatened because these two guys had a couple disagreements. I think that's completely overblown.
I've known Mitch McConnell for 30 years and for him, it's rarely ever personal. It's about winning and he and President Trump agree on 90% of the Republican agenda, they agree on 90% of what was on the ballot last year. And I think the idea that the fact that they have had conflict or heated conversation somehow jeopardizes that agenda is simply wrong.
SCIUTTO: Well, let's look, Jack, if we can, first your thoughts, the two men have certainly traded verbal jabs at each other. Here are a few of them that have come out in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R) MAJORITY LEADER: Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Senator McConnell consider stepping down as majority leader? There are some conservative analysts, including Sean Hannity, who say it's time for him to retire.
[19:25:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'll tell you what. If he doesn't get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't' t get a very easy one to get done infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So that's not an unnamed source there, Jack, who was not expressing -- I mean, far from expressing support for the Republican majority leader. In fact, he was saying if he doesn't get this stuff down and since then, of course, repeal and replace didn't happen.
Why is this in the president's interests to fight this battle with the leader of his own party in the Senate?
KINGSTON: You know, I think Mitch McConnell is right. There has been some expectation in the White House that not everybody is an old hand in Washington. But I think on the other hand, the president's point is, listen, we had promised people for seven years, we're going to repeal and replace. We promised them tax reform, we promised them an infrastructure bill.
We promised to build up the military, and I've got to say, every Republican since 2005 has thought about building a border wall or clamping down on border security. So the way I look at it, Jim, is sometimes the wide receiver and the quarterback can't -- they don't necessarily have to be the best of friends to score the touchdown but they both understand the importance of winning the game and what that touchdown means.
And as a Republican, I tell you, we have got to get some points on the board.
SCIUTTO: It helps if they're not throwing punches at each other in the locker room, too. You just give me knowledge of that.
Hunter, if I could ask you, to be fair again, and this is not going to unnamed sources here. It's not just McConnell that Trump appears to be alienating. You had public comments from, for instance, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker last week questioning not only the president's competence but stability.
That is a fairly, you know, festering wound you might say within the Republican Party to have that kind of public disagreement and questioning.
BATES: Look, in terms of Leader McConnell and President Trump, I don't think disagreement over tweets and timing and tactics affects the fact at the end of the day, they're going to come together in September, they're going to lock arms, they're going to raise the debt ceiling, they're going to fund the government, and also they got a goal, and achieve what accomplished Republicans haven't achieved in a generation which is meaning a tax reform to put money back into the pockets of hard working families.
So, I think there's way too much attention paid to the tweets and to the conflict in to one phone conversation. At the end of the day, these two guys know they have to have each other to succeed. And they will work together and succeed and I think that's the important thing to take away from all this.
SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see the evidence if whether they can certainly when they come back from recess. Hunter, Jack Kingston, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
And OUTFRONT next, the Treasury secretary's wife is apologizing tonight after an outburst on Instagram flaunting her wealth. Is she in touch with her inner Marie Antoinette?
And, an impostor posing as Steve Bannon punks Breitbart, the website fooled, it's revealing a shocking campaign aimed at bringing down Ivanka Trump and her husband.
[19:31:28] SCIUTTO: Tonight, President Trump about to hold a campaign rally in Phoenix, despite the mayor's plea that he delay it, to not further divide the country after Charlottesville. It comes as top Republicans continue to try to do damage control, clean up the mess from Trump's blaming both sides for the violence there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president was clear in the aftermath of the tragedy in Charlottesville, that we denounce bigotry and hate and violence in all of its forms.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I had a personal conversation with the president about Charlottesville, and I will leave it at that. But I will tell you that there is no room for hate in this country. I know the pain that hate can cause. And we need to isolate haters, and we need to make sure that they know there is no place for them.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least, moral ambiguity when we need moral clarity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT now, former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, Jason Miller, and former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign, Symone Sanders. She's also a communications consultant for Priorities USA.
Simone, if I could start with you. You just heard the vice president there, the ambassador to U.N. and the House speaker. Did they go far enough?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the vice president and even Nikki Haley had stronger comments on Charlottesville from the outset than the president of the United States. I think that it is very dangerous for folks to try to brush this aside as this is something that can blow over in a week or so. What Donald Trump did was he did morally equate white supremacists with protesters, with people who are there to protest against the white supremacists, and that is -- that is not only dangerous, but it's disheartening and it's also disgusting.
So, no, the vice president and Nikki Haley, nor anyone else went far enough. What I heard from Paul Ryan was actually kind of making it seem as though this was normal. Nothing about this is normal.
SCIUTTO: Jason, what's your response?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, ultimately, what matters is what President Trump has to say here, and I like what President Trump had to say last night with denouncing bigotry and hatred. I was glad to see him raised this at the top of his remarks last night, as he was walking through. I don't think a lot of folks expected to see that.
But, again, this is how the country is going to move forward and this is how the country is going to heal as we continue to talk about the racial divide that we have and the challenges that are facing us. And, look, tonight in Phoenix I think gives the president another opportunity to denounce bigotry and hatred. It doesn't need to be the sole focus of his speech. But again, particularly in a state like Arizona that has had a lot of challenges on this front. We all saw the explosion of the MLK holiday and the way that was bungled and finally -- anyway, that was a whole disaster.
But I think for President Trump, if he stands there tonight and again denounces bigotry and hatred, we start to see this over and over, that's a very clear signal and only then is our leaders, we start to hear that more and more, can we move forward. And again, this is, you know -- we elected Donald Trump to get out there and lead, and I think he has a good opportunity to do that this evening.
SCIUTTO: Symone, Jason referenced this. This is what President Trump said last night to try to move on from the Charlottesville comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together.
[19:35:02] Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Symone, were those the words you needed to hear and the country needed to hear from the president?
SANDERS: Look, I think it was a start. What we didn't play was that the president also said that it's time to move past race in this country. And as a communications person, I would like to say that under no circumstances would the words move past race in anywhere make it into any speech that a principal I worked for was giving because, one, it denotes that the person or people who are handling this speech are ignorant of the real implications of race in this country and the state of race relations.
And two, it's a dangerous reiteration of Columbine politics. So, a few platitudes from a teleprompter are not going to be enough. We now know -- we know for a long time -- but we were just reminded this week, that teleprompter Trump cannot be trusted. We have to wait to see what the president says off the cuff and unfortunately --
SCIUTTO: Tonight might be an opportunity for that, whether we see that.
SANDERS: Tonight might be the night. Absolutely.
SCIUTTO: Moving on, just -- if we can -- to another story. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton, she's apologizing tonight. We should note that, after some real backlash on the Web after an Instagram post where she touted her wealth by tagging a series of designers like Hermes, Tom Ford, hashtag, well pointed out there on the photos.
You can see one Instagram user replied, glad we could pay for your little get-away, #deplorable.
Linton then fired off her own lengthy response which included the following, quote: Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes of in self sacrifice to your country?
I'm curious, Jason, should she have known better than that?
MILLER: Well, of course. And I think as we saw from the apology that Ms. Linton knows that she should have known better there. And while I don't know her as well, I certainly know Secretary Mnuchin, having worked very closely with him during the campaign and during the transition. I have seen him show people a lot of grace and compassion. I don't think those comments reflect who Secretary Mnuchin, his wife, are as individuals.
I think, maybe it's -- I don't know if it's the stress or I can't really speak to why she said that, but I was glad to see her apologize. You can't stay stuff like that, and I think she knows it and I'm sure there's probably nobody is beating themselves up more than the two of them. And again, I have seen Secretary Mnuchin, the way that he's interacted with people and he's a very kind man, and I just, you know -- my heart goes out to him because I think they know this is a mistake here and if they could take those words back, they would. SCIUTTO: When you look at some of the Internet reaction afterwards,
Symone, it reflected for some a division, sort of the haves and have- nots, the 1 percent, all those kind of images again. But the fact is, there is an apology tonight. Do you accept that apology on this?
SANDERS: Look, I think it's great that Ms. Linton apologized. I think after the social media backlash and the media backlash, I think she really had to take a hard look at what she said. But I think this is indicative of a larger issue that there are a lot of people in this country that don't understand what's wrong with hashtaging Hermes, hashtag Tom Ford, and displaying the things that they have on the Internet.
Look, I live a good bag as much as the next girl, but I also know that we are living in the most polarizing times for wealth in this country, and that is what played out yesterday.
SCIUTTO: Yes, a lot of folks can't pay even the most basic bills, let alone think about Hermes or something.
Symone, Jason, always good to speak to both of you.
And OUTFRONT next, the top lawmaker on why she is increasingly worried about what she calls Trump's mental instability. Congresswoman Jackie Speier is my guest.
And "Breitbart" duped posing as Steve Bannon. We've got the emails revealing how far his Website is willing to go for him and his agenda against the White House.
[19:41:41] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, you are looking at live pictures out of Phoenix, Arizona. Protesters waiting to welcome, greet President Trump he arrives for a campaign rally there tonight. Trump hoping to begin to turn things around after his much criticized response to Charlottesville.
But a leading member of Congress now pushing to remove Trump from office, in part because of his response to Charlottesville.
Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier becoming the first member of Congress to say that Trump should be removed through a never before invoked section of the 25th Amendment that lets the vice president and a majority of the cabinet declare him, quote, unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
She recently tweeted, quote: POTUS is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger. Time to invoke the 25th Amendment.
And Congresswoman Speier is joining me now.
Thanks very much for taking the time to join us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you, Jim. SCIUTTO: So explain to us, our audience, what exactly you are basing
this on? What specific examples can you cite as evidence that the president is not stable enough to fulfill his job?
SPEIER: Well, there's actually a growing mountain of evidence that the president has been very erratic, has shown a mental instability. It was crystallized last week with a combination of his comments about fire and fury that he offered up against Kim Jong-un and North Korea and how we would take him out, followed by his back and forth on Charlottesville and how he really became almost abusive in calling people out when he was really telling from his soul what he thought about the Charlottesville incident.
And I think the combination of those, coupled with the fact that there has been a lot of people behind the scenes talking about his instability in Congress for some time now, if you go back in time like six years and watch interviews that he gave then where he could put a whole sentence together, but now tends to put a few words together and then goes off into another sentence unrelated to the first. It is an indication to me that there is some trouble there that is more than just a one off.
And I am concerned for the American people. I am concerned about him having his finger on the button that could send nuclear warheads around the world. And --
SCIUTTO: But let me ask you this because some of this can be attributed to perhaps a distasteful personality or personality, or a style that some would find distasteful. But the standard of mental instability or an incapacity, you know, to carry out the duties of office, that's quite -- that's quite a high standard to me.
SPEIER: Well, first of all, if it has been invoked before, George W. Bush. It was put in place when he had a colonoscopy during his presidency and then, you know, he reestablished his presidency after the test was done.
[19:45:04] SCIUTTO: That was temporary, as opposed to --
SPEIER: That was temporary.
SCIUTTO: -- a continuing inability to do the job.
SPEIER: Well, that's why I'm suggesting that it's really in the court of the vice president and the majority of those members of the cabinet to make that determination at this point whether or not that incapacity is preventing him from doing his job.
SCIUTTO: You mentioned there some of the requirements to meet the standards set by the 25th Amendment. Just in brief, we'll lay them out because the audience may not be aware.
But you need the vice president and a majority of the president's cabinet -- of course, he appointed his cabinet secretaries. So you have that. Or Congress or a body appointed by Congress. And then, a later stage, to make this permanent if the president were to protest, you need a vote of two-thirds in both the Senate and the House.
You have a Republican vice president, of course, in Mike Pence who's been very supportive of the president throughout. The president would have appointed his cabinet secretaries, so folks that he picked for the job. And you still have a majority in both the Senate and the House.
Do you see that -- those as hurdles that practically could be met to reach the standards of the 25th?
SPEIER: I think that the ball is in the court of the vice president and the members of the cabinet. Clearly, the Congress is not going to move on the 25th Amendment or impeachment. The numbers aren't there and meanwhile, we are hearing members on both sides of the aisle talking with great consternation about the instability of the president of the United States.
At some point, we've got to stop whispering about this and talking about it in terms we can all understand. I mean, if the emperor has no clothes, then it's time for not just the child to speak up, it's time for members of Congress who serve on behalf of the American people to speak up.
SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Speier, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
SPEIER: My pleasure. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: And OUTFRONT next, "Breitbart" editors thought they were e- mailing Steve Bannon, but they were actually writing to a prankster posing as the boss. Just what were they plotting for Jared and Ivanka?
And the treasury secretary's wife showing off in a jaw-dropping Instagram post. The former actress once played Marie Antoinette. Is she the 21st century version of the queen?
SCIUTTO: New tonight, "Breitbart" duped.
[19:50:00] Top editors at the right wing Website fell victim to a prankster posing as their boss. The just fired White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and what they say was extremely revealing about the new site's intentions.
Tonight, exclusive new details about what staffers were plotting to please someone they were certain was actually Bannon.
Jake Tapper is OUTFRONT tonight.
Jake, you spoke to the prankster involved. What did he tell you that this Breitbart editor told him?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": Well, this prankster, we should point out, has -- he's pretty good at it. He's done this to top bankers. He's done this to top White House officials. This time, he posed as Steve Bannon.
Again, this is not Steve Bannon. This is a bogus Bannon. And he sent an e-mail to Alex Marlow, the editor in chief. So, do you think you'll have them packed and shipping out before Christmas? That's a reference to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
And the editor wrote, let me see what I can do. Hard to know given your description of them is evil, I don't know what motivates them if they are semi-normal, then yes, they out by end of year.
And another reference by Alex Marlow, the editor in chief, said of the globalists, aka Ivanka and Jared: I spooked them today. Did five stories on globalist takeover, positioning you as only hope to stop it, meaning Bannon.
You need to own that. Just have surrogates do the dirty work, Boyle, Raheem, me, Tony, have been waiting for this. That's a reference to several other Breitbart employees.
And what they're saying there, what Alex Marlow, the editor in chief of "Breitbart" is saying is that he and three other Breitbarters will do the, quote/unquote, "dirty work" of viciously attacking Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, so as to help Steve Bannon and his nationalistic views and he be -- and to help portraying him as the savior of that movement.
SCIUTTO: It's revealing because they weren't reluctant answers. They seem to be automatic answers to that question. Now, are Steve Bannon -- is Breitbart denying or defending what they told the person behind the pranks?
TAPPER: They are not at all. They're admitting that they got hoodwinked and they are saying that that only reason we're covering this is because we're obsessed with "Breitbart", because they're effective and you don't have to read their private e-mails to find out they're against the globalist agenda. You just have to read the front page.
But we should point out, one of the other things that the editor in chief of "Breitbart", Alex Marlow, did was smear Ivanka Trump with something we're not going to share with our viewers. A personal, uncorroborated, unfounded smear of the private life of Ivanka Trump. And Alex Marlow and "Breitbart" were unrepentant and unapologetic about that.
SCIUTTO: I mean, it raises questions about what they're being to do to get this agenda across.
Now, you mentioned it's not the first time this prankster pulled this stunt before -- in the past pranking White House staffers. What do you believe the motive of the prankster is here?
TAPPER: Well, I think, clearly, he is liberal in his politics. I also think he's also kind of bored and finds this as an interesting challenge. It entertains him. And as we noted, he was able to convince some top White House
staffers, including Anthony Scaramucci, that he was Reince Priebus. And he sent e-mails to Scaramucci when Scaramucci was at the White House, as we saw some really vicious back and forth there.
So, he's able to get into situations and get revealing information from people, deceiving them, hoodwinking them.
SCIUTTO: Yes, incredible. And e-mails live on.
Jake Tapper, great reporting, thanks very much.
TAPPER: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Next, when flaunting wealth comes back to bite you. Jeanne Moos on the backlash against the treasury secretary's wife.
[19:57:54] SCIUTTO: Did the treasury secretary's wife have a Marie Antoinette moment? Jeanne Moos has the story.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She once played Marie Antoinette, and it didn't end well. Now, the former actress and current wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is being zinged for acting like the French royal in real life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't feel very well.
MOOS: Louise Linton posted this photo of the multimillionaire Mnuchins getting off a government jet to visit Ft. Knox, Kentucky. She tagged the photo with luxury brands she was wearing. Tom Ford sunnies for sunglass, Hermes scarf, Valentino rock stud heels, which so annoyed Jenni Miller, an Oregon mother of three, that posted back: Glad we could pay for your getaway. #deplorable.
JENNI MILLER, CALLED OUT TREASURY SECRETARY MNUCHIN'S WIFE OVER INSTAGRAM POST: Honestly, it was probably just a weak moment for me. It was the first time I ever posted on someone's Instagram.
MOOS: The treasury secretary's newlywed wife responded with a rant.
Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip? Adorable.
Do you think the U.S. government paid for our honeymoon, our personal travel? LOL.
Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? You're adorably out of touch. The post was adorned with blown kisses.
Miller's reaction --
MILLER: A little bit amused, a little bit horrified.
MOOS (on camera): It was one overarching theme to the criticism.
(voice-over): It's a little let them eat cake, don't you think, tweeted the former CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Linton deleted her tirade. Someone joked, luckily, her photo remains.
And now, Linton says, I apologize for my post on social media. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive.
The Mnuchins are reimbursing the government for her travel.
In the past, she's played a creepy deputy and a reporter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're hot.
MOOS: But when she came off sounding like the custom party character she played in "CSI: New York", she was clearly in over her head.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
SCIUTTO: Thank you for joining us tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.
"AC360" starts right now.