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Trump Delivers Angry, Divisive Speech in Phoenix. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired August 23, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The white supremacists, neo-Nazi, I got them all.
[07:00:04] What did they say? "It should have been sooner. He's a racist."
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: One night after he appealed to the country about unity, this was nothing but a speech of division.
TRUMP: I don't believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an astounding chain of lies by a man who is mentally unstable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes that this is how he's going to hold his coalition of supporters together.
TRUMP: Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are the Republicans on this? Are they proud this is the leader of the Republican Party?
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, the president was at his most divisive last night, blaming the media for the fierce backlash he received over his Charlottesville response, accusing reporters of distorting his words. This is a new low.
The president stood before his supporters and conveniently omitted words he said, blaming many sides for the deadly violence, and he never brought up last night the fact that he said "very fine people" marched with white supremacists. This is a matter of fact, and he will be held to account for what he said.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president not stopping there. He also attacked Arizona Republican senators Flake and McCain, but without saying their names. And he also vowed to shut down the government if Congress does not finance his border wall.
This speech was very different from his measured and scripted Afghanistan speech on Monday night. And now all eyes are on his speech today in Nevada.
So we have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Boris Sanchez. He is live in Phoenix. Give us the latest, Boris.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Alisyn.
Yes, the president saying that Americans should come together, that we should unite as a nation and then launching into a 77-minute speech where he attacked some of his favorite targets: the media, Democrats, members of his own party, the Republicans. He also spent a lot of time trying to clarify his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, though he left out some important information.
TRUMP: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence." That's me speaking on Saturday.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): President Trump attempting to revise history, selectively recounting his past statements about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and purposely omitting his off-the-cuff responses that sparked the uproar.
TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
SANCHEZ: The president blaming the media for the backlash.
TRUMP: I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let's say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all. So they're having a hard time. So what did they say, right? "It should have been sooner. He's a racist."
SANCHEZ: And accusing the press of giving a platform to hate groups, a charge the president reiterated on Twitter after the campaign rally.
TRUMP: They're bad people, and I really think they don't like our country.
SANCHEZ: President Trump also fomenting division by attacking the removal of Confederate statues.
TRUMP: They're trying to take away our culture. They're trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders, they do it overnight.
SANCHEZ: Mr. Trump also threatens to shut down the government over funding his border wall, but he made no mention of his promise to make Mexico pay for it.
TRUMP: We have to close down our government. We're building that wall.
SANCHEZ: The president throwing more red meat to his base...
TRUMP: I think we'll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point, OK, probably.
SANCHEZ: ... before once again attacking Arizona's two Republican senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, who's battling brain cancer, without saying their names.
TRUMP: One vote away. I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn't it? Very presidential.
And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator who's weak on borders, weak on crime.
SANCHEZ: President Trump also firing up the crowd and teasing a potential pardon of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
TRUMP: So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?
I'll make a prediction. I think he's going to be just fine, OK?
SANCHEZ: The president did call out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, saying, "We have to talk to Mitch." The wording of that, Alisyn and Chris, is interesting, because sources tell CNN the two men haven't spoken in weeks. And the last couple times they've communicated have been, let's say, unpleasant. Beyond that, "The New York Times" is reporting that McConnell is now privately questioning President Trump's fitness for the office of president -- Alisyn and Chris.
CAMEROTA: Yes. All that reporting is very interesting, and we'll get into it right now. Thank you, Boris.
Joining us to discuss all of this are CNN political analyst and editor in chief of "The Daily Beast," John Avlon; reporter and editor at large for CNN Politics Chris Cillizza; and CNN political analyst David Gregory.
David Gregory, how do you explain what we heard last night?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have a slash-and-burn president who is appealing to his lowest common denominator of support. I don't think there's any other way to explain it. This is a very cynical, and frankly, a bit stale approach now, to attacking the news media, trying to discredit the news media in front of his own base of support and perhaps beyond that.
Look, it's not worth getting worked up about, because it's simply not going to work. The facts are what they are. The president is a destructive figure to himself and to the country on these particular questions. What he did last week, what he didn't do, what he said and what he didn't say, how he changed what he said, that's all on display for everyone to see. These are his own words. You don't need the news media for this. You need to simply just turn on your television. The criticism from business groups, from fellow Republicans, from Democrats, it's all out there for everybody to see.
So I think this -- this zone of destructiveness that he in, where he's undermining an opportunity to salvage his own presidency, is getting to the point where he's simply not going to be able to get anything else done, and then he's going to have to rely on a kind of angry band of people who think he's refreshing in his rants. And I think that's all about what he's going to have. So you know, a guy who lays out an Afghanistan strategy yesterday is now not a president so much as somebody who's kind of angry and ranting at a campaign rally. It's unbecoming of our country.
AVLON: Look, there's commander-in-chief, which we saw two nights ago, and then there's king of the mob, which is who we saw last night. And it demeans the office of president to the extent that it's such a departure from anything we've seen, not only that it's sort of an unhinged rant in which the president quotes from his own remarks, you know, erroneously in front of a crew, attacks the media.
In a way, I think that's more elevated than we've seen, saying that journalists don't like America, hate our history, hate our heritage, are a source of division. That's demagogic language which we've seen around the world, but rarely in the United States and never from a president.
To calling out Republican members of the Senate, not by name but going after John McCain, one of the most respected people in our politics, and Jeff Flake, who's facing a tough re-election.
To saying that he's willing to have a government shutdown, which is already looming, over a wall. To hinting that he's going to pardon Joe Arpaio, one of the most polarizing people in law enforcement, formerly sheriff of Maricopa County.
This was a rant that was riddled with lies and with demagogic tactics. And we shouldn't get inured to the fact that this is just Trump as normal, that it's getting stale. It's ratcheting up. He may be more isolated, but that could make him more dangerous in a way.
CUOMO: And that's why it makes the job, Chris Cillizza, to check it. You know, I get David's point about how it gets processed emotionally. But this is about the practicality of what do you do? What do you do when the president of the United States stands before thousands in an audience of millions and materially misleads about what he said to forward a narrative of being a victim, and then directs the American people to attack the institution that checks the president?
CILLIZZA: The purposeful misleading is the thing that is so dangerous. He knows the things he's saying are not accurate. He is, at root -- I've called him a provocateur a lot of times. I think he is that.
He's also at root sort of a fabulist. He has been his whole life. He's sort of telling the story of Donald Trump's life, whether that was making up a P.R. guy in his younger years to tout his virility and appeal to women in New York City high society circles, or now in which he just makes stuff up and repeats it.
My former colleagues at "The Washington Post," he crested -- this was before the Arizona speech. He crested a thousand misstatements or lies in his 200-plus days in office yesterday before Arizona.
It's -- all politicians mislead at some point. Most of them, when called on it stop doing it. He does not. It's hugely dangerous.
[07:10:07] The only thing that we can do in the media is say, "Look." What he did last night in terms of recreating what he said about Charlottesville is inaccurate. He left out the most important part which is when he said "on many sides" or "on both sides." That's the whole moral equivalency that not the media condemned him for, but that Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, virtually every member of the Republican leadership. No, not all by name, but this is not a media driven thing. This is Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, David.
GREGORY: There's another piece of the accountability, which is just hold him accountable for what the president said he would do in office, claims that he's made, how he's going to move the progress forward. Take those promises and look at results.
We don't have to make a judgment about this every day. It's stale, because our viewers who are watching this around the world understand what the president is doing. They understand that it is demagoguery. They understand that it is propaganda. They understand that it is desperation.
Thankfully, in our country, we don't have a minister of propaganda who can shut CNN down and shut newspapers down, because we're a strong and vibrant democracy. So we have an ability to stand up to the president and say, "Well, Mr. President, the claims you're making about our own history as a country are simply misinformed. And you don't apparently have a sweep of U.S. history." But pure accountability leads you to say he's just not accomplishing what he said he was going to accomplish, and he's running out of options.
CAMEROTA: So John, I mean, now you hear more people behind the scenes talking about the president's fitness for office and some people publicly talking about the president's fitness for office. James Clapper was on CNN last night with very strong words, very troubling words. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I really question his ability -- his fitness to be in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it. Maybe he is looking for a way out. I worry about, frankly, the access to the nuclear codes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. There's a lot there. "I'm looking for a way out." That might be the president's critics' wishful thinking.
AVLON: Yes. Let's put that to the side, because I think that -- that's trying to find what's in some strategic mind that we haven't haven't seen a lot of evidence of.
What I think is more troubling is that this is the former director of national intelligence, someone who has served in administrations, Democrat and Republican, going back to John F. Kennedy, saying out loud in the United States, after seven months of a president, that he may not be fit for the office; and raising the real concern about someone who may not be mentally stable having access to nuclear codes.
And it's not just the former director of national intelligence. It's increasingly senators like Bob Corker, one of the most respected members of the Senate, saying he's worried about the president's stability. This is a riff you're hearing on and on. If it's not troubling you, you're not paying attention.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Can I just make a quick counterargument, not necessarily disagreeing with Mr. Clapper or John, but that the focus on mental stability and competency, I understand that line of arguing. The only point I would make is that Donald Trump has been this impetuous fabulist for a -- it's not as though this is new. It's not as though he was Jimmy Carter on the campaign trail and Donald Trump in the White House. He's been this guy his entire life. He was this guy on the campaign trail.
That's not to say he may not be -- the questions of fitness for office, that doesn't dismiss them. But it's not as though there's been some radical change in who the guy is.
CAMEROTA: OK. Panel, thank you very much for all of the analysis for us.
CUOMO: All right. So let's take a look at some of the breaking news we have, as well.
CAMEROTA: The Navy dismissing the commander of the U.S. Seventh fleet following a string of deadly collisions, including this week's crash involving the USS John McCain. Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin is being relieved of duty after four ship collisions happened on his watch this year.
CUOMO: The terror cell behind the Barcelona van attack planned to bomb some of the city's best-known landmarks, including the famous Sagrada Familia Church. It is world-renowned church, this church. It is a symbol not just for Catholics, but for Christians the world over. And according to one of the four surviving suspects, the group plotted the bombings for at least two months until the home they were using to make the explosives blew up. The men say an imam was the mastermind of the plot, but he died in that blast. Police wound up shooting and killing six others involved.
[07:15:02] CAMEROTA: All right. Some exciting news. Powerball fever reaching fever pitch as the jackpot soars to $700 million for tonight's drawing. It's the second largest prize ever. It's expected to balloon as dreamers lay out more cash for a chance of winning.
The odds of striking it rich: 1 in 292 million. But that's not stopping us from starting an office pool. If no one wins tonight, the next jackpot could be even the biggest ever, more than $1.6 billion.
CUOMO: First of all, the money goes to good sources. So you know, and even though it's a lot of money that goes -- and I get the Christine Romans argument about you have a better chance of, like, anything else in the world happening, but you've still got a chance.
CAMEROTA: It's fun to dream.
CUOMO: Why not? Why not? So we're in.
CAMEROTA: We're in.
CUOMO: So if you don't see us in a couple days...
CAMEROTA: You'll understand.
CUOMO: ... you'll know why.
The president threatening to shut down the government. Remember, he doesn't do government shutdowns. It would come from Congress. But that's beside the point. It's all about his proposal to build the wall. The wall is back as the center of his immigration policy. What are the Republicans going to do with this? They moved away from the wall. What will the Democrats do? We're going to ask the first formerly undocumented immigrant to be elected to Congress, next.
CUOMO: President Trump back to dividing, delivering a long and divisive speech at a rally in Phoenix, calling out Democrats who oppose his plan to build a border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall.
Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security. You are putting all of America's safety at risk. You're doing that. You're doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: First, it's not just Democrats. A lot of Republicans are against the wall as well, notably Congressman Will Hurd, Republican and rising star within the party, who represents people along the border, who says this wall should not be the first move to making America safer.
Joining us now is a Democrat, Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York. He's the first formerly undocumented immigrant elected to Congress.
Always good to see you, sir.
REP. ADRIANA ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: Good to see you.
CUOMO: The wall is back. It's the main priority, and it is you and people like you who are blocking it; and you will lose, because he will shut down the government. Does that resonate?
ESPAILLAT: That resonates to folks that he wants to get riled up. I think this is fear mongering at its very best. It's divisive. It throws salt on the wound of Virginia, what just happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. It's really unacceptable, divisive. He's taking money away from Medicaid, which will help -- hurt children, families, poor families, women. Forty thousand -- 60,000 people in the state of Arizona, you know, will lose their jobs if Medicaid is cut.
A great number, 400,000 people, were not in the ACA before it got enacted, and now they have health insurance. Those are the programs that will be hurt if he takes -- if he divests this money in the human capital and tries to build a divisive wall.
CUOMO: Well, what do you do? He's got the numbers in Congress. I did set up this segment by saying there are a lot of Republicans who are shy on the wall, as well. But if they decide to bring this to the floor, if the president somehow is able to motivate this as part of the agenda, do you think there could be a shutdown over this?
ESPAILLAT: Well, you know, he's had trouble passing legislation. We saw what happened with Obamacare. You know, with everything he says and every time he pounds his chest, you may think that he has absolute control.
But in fact, you see that he has had trouble. He's stumbled a lot. A couple of his top advisers had to step down. You know, he hasn't been able to dismantle Obamacare. So he's had trouble in his first six, seven months in governing. And he has trouble, you know, getting a consensus in Congress, even though the Republicans control both houses.
So I wouldn't say it's a done deal, absolutely not. I think there's many of us on both sides of the aisle, I think it's a bad idea.
CUOMO: People were loving it last night there in Arizona, of course, at a Trump valley. They were also loving when he suggested that Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be just fine. And he suggested that the sheriff was punished for doing his job. Do you agree?
ESPAILLAT: Here he goes again, compromising the rule of law. This is a nation of laws. This sheriff has been found guilty of profiling. And basically, you know, profiling is a horrendous act of any person in law enforcement. And he's been held in contempt by a court of law. And here is the president of the United States under -- undermining an important branch of government, the judiciary branch of government.
This is horrendous, again, flaming divisiveness, the one-liners to try to press the buttons and get his base to rile up as he did in Virginia, which is horrendous.
CUOMO: Now you brought up Charlottesville a couple of different times. The president last night basically blamed it on = the media. He said that he condemned all the hateful people. He said, "I had them all, the KKK, the white supremacists. I said it all, but it wasn't enough. They say it wasn't early enough."
The comments that he gave -- attributed to himself last night were incomplete. I want to play you the sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Here's what I said on Saturday. "We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia." This is me speaking. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence." That's me speaking on Saturday.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:25:10] CUOMO: He left those words out, and it can't be an accident. And he also left out that he had said there were good people on both sides. Why do those words matter?
ESPAILLAT: They really matter. You know, Chris, had you taken those video shots that you, CNN and other media outlets gave the American people of what happened in Virginia, and you made them in black and white, you would have thought that you were looking at the History Channel and Nazi Germany. You know, these guys with torches, chanting these anti-Semitic slogans, unheard of. I mean, I'm in my early 60s, but I haven't seen anything like this before that I can remember.
And so for him to just conveniently leave these people out and try to equate protestors -- anti-protesters that were there with white supremacists, that is throwing salt in the wound. That is inflaming racism, bigotry, the legacy of the Confederacy. That is what this guy is standing for. That's why some very important people are questioning his fitness to rule our country.
CUOMO: One thing is for sure. When you get back into session, there are going to be some battles to be fought, and we will be covering it every step of the way.
ESPAILLAT: Thank you.
CUOMO: Congressman, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris. President Trump's supporters react to the president's response to Charlottesville. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How many of you, show of hands, were troubled by the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville? None of you minded how President Trump responded?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. Keep watching, because we are about to show you how a conspiracy theory is affecting their take on the event. That's next.