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President Trump Gives Speech in Arizona; Hillary Clinton to Release Book Describing Presidential Campaign; Trump Defends Charlottesville Response. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 23, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:05:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That's an important point. Thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting there.

We're following a lot of news. What do you say? Let's get after it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This issue of Charlottesville is the albatross around this administration's neck.

TRUMP: They're trying to take away our culture. They've got clubs and they've got everything. Antifa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I found this downright scary and disturbing. I worry about, frankly, access to nuclear code.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president would very much like the president was and almost every one of his rallies.

TRUMP: We were just one vote away from victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president had more kind words for the leader of North Korea than he did for a war hero who was fighting brain cancer.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, August 23rd, 8:00 here in New York.

Up first, President Trump fiery and described by many as unhinged. The president accusing the media of distorting his words on Charlottesville and violence, except the president conveniently omitted his own blame of, quote, "many sides." Last night he also omitted that he had said that very fine people marched with white supremacists. CUOMO: Be clear, this was a new low. He played his supporters for

fools. We all know what he did and did not say and he will be called out for it, period, because what you ignore, you empower.

There are also political attacks last night. His party had to hear him attack the two GOP senators from Arizona. That's where the Trump rally was held. The bigger concern is that CNN has learned that president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not spoken in weeks.

Joining us now are CNN political analyst David Gregory, senior White House correspondent from "Bloomberg News" Margaret Talev, and executive editor from "Bloomberg View" Timothy O'Brien, the author of "Trump Nation, The Art of Being the Donald." David Gregory, we have said it before but it has never been more true than it was last night, which was this was him at his worst.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, at his most destructive, at his most self-destructive, the president willfully lying to a narrow band of his supporters, and as you said trying to play them for fools, trying to turn Americans against the news media, doing so deliberately, cynically in an effort to try to lessen the impact of what he has done to himself as president.

When you hear the majority leader Mitch McConnell saying privately that he wonders whether Trump can salvage his presidency, these are self-inflicted wounds. President Trump made the decision to say that there was blame on many sides and that there were many good people among the neo-Nazis and the racists and the anti-Semites that were in Charlottesville. That's his doing. And the fact that on his watch he's got chaos within the West Wing, this self-described great businessman can't run his staff. That's all his doing. It's not the media's fault. You may have a problem with the news media. That's not the media's fault. And that's where the media will play a role to point that out and judge him guest his own promises and hold him accountable.

CAMEROTA: OK, so let's do that. Let's play his original words about Charlottesville and then how he tried to amend them last night. Listen to this.


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.


CAMEROTA: So, Tim O'Brien, why de omit the "on many sides, on many sides" last night, which was the very part that had so much human --

CUOMO: And the good people were there on both sides as well.

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": Because he's been getting away with this for decades. This is not a new Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been a race-baiter for decades going back to the Central Park jogger case in the late 1980s. This is a man who inserted himself into a racially and politically charged event to get publicity, by taking ads out accusing the alleged assailants of crimes they hadn't yet been proven to have committing.

He comes from a family business that the Justice Department investigated for racial discrimination. He was part of the birther movement against Obama. Trump's positioning on race and social issues attendant to race is not a new phenomenon.

[08:05:15] And then secondarily he spent a long business career and public career getting away with flagrant boasts, exaggerations, lies, flat-out lies. He's used to it. So it's not new. I think what's new is he's in a forum where large institutions have to decide what they're going to stand up for, whether it's the judiciary, the media, or in this case the GOP.

CUOMO: Margaret, where are we on that? We keep calling out leaders, when are you going to lead? What are you going to do? Paul Ryan was on the town hall. He said after the president' speech about Afghanistan what he should have said last week. Now they're dealing with another opportunity. The president materially misrepresented what he said. He doubled down once again on a negative message. How is it playing within his own ranks, how is it playing in and D.C.?

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": Well, Chris, it's become much more complicated by the president's apparent willingness to take on Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, some of these long standing Republican incumbents who face primary challenges.

And what we saw last night of course was messaging to the base between the wink-wink, nod-nod on former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's likelihood of a pardon by the president, in terms of his willingness to shut down the government over the border wall issue, in terms of many of these issues.

The problem of course is that when you're the president, just because you have a rally at 10:00 p.m. east coast time to talk to your base, it doesn't mean you can only talk to your base. Of course you're talking to all of the United States. And so the question increasingly is was what the Republican leadership is willing to do. Until now the calculation has been that President Trump's success is their success, and their success is President Trump's success and that they're tied together. If it you see Republican leadership begin to calculate that may no longer be the case you could potentially see a change. I think we need to see what happens when everyone comes back from the August recess, though.

CAMEROTA: David, another interesting calculation was what President Trump decided to do in attacking Arizona senators in their own backyard.

CUOMO: Republicans.

CAMEROTA: Republicans. So here he is talking about Jeff Flake and John McCain.


TRUMP: We were just one vote away from victory after seven years of everybody proclaiming repeal and replace, one vote away. But you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President, don't mention any names.

So I won't. I won't. No, I won't. 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, so I won't talk about him.


CAMEROTA: So, David, how's this battle going to play out with the Republican Arizona senators?

GREGORY: You know, I don't know. I mean it is really remarkable to hear a Republican president going to Arizona, the state of Barry Goldwater, and trash its two Republican senators, both pretty conservative on foreign policy matters and other matters as well. But I think this is the critical question. President Trump, aside from the temperament issues, stability questions, and his judgment, as a Republican, has become an increasingly isolated figure. He is running against the Republican Party, running against the establishment.

Yes, he did that in the campaign, I realize that. But now as president he's actively in a hot war with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. He'll take on Paul Ryan if that's necessary. Taking on Jeff Flake who is the junior senator he was referring to in Arizona who has written a book about reclaiming the soul of conservatism within the Republican Party.

So I don't know whether there are enough voters who reward him for a populist message that takes on the establishment of the party or whether conservatives and the establishment of the party band together to reclaim some agenda back. Look, President Trump still promised to accomplish things. He promised that he would get infrastructure done, health care reform done, repealing Obamacare, and tax reform done. So far he's come up empty. And those are facts that he's going to have to contend with politically.

[08:10:00] CUOMO: The sad reality is there are people in that crowd last night who are desperate for better out of their wage structure, from the leaders, and the president's been making it about him and his own personal battles. So will they get their interest served? We don't know.

And now, I don't know if this is a good thing or bad thing for the president, but Hillary Clinton reenters the fray. We have the first excerpt of her book, some of the audio. And we're going to play her recounting of that now infamous scene of the debate, I think it was the second debate, where Trump was looming behind her while she was speaking. This is how Hillary Clinton felt during that moment. And we'll show you the video of the event to kind of synchronize the two. Here's a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not OK, I thought. It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage, and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled.

It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling, and carry on as if he weren't repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can't intimidate me, so back up.

I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men throwing to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard. I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched first, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.


CAMEROTA: OK. That's insightful, I think, and interesting to hear her take on that because option B that she describes, would have been better TV, obviously, and better I think that people -- obviously her supporters would have loved for her to turn around and say back up, you creep. But she explains, in her -- why she sort of never does that. That's not her model.

GREGORY: Isn't it interesting, Alisyn, as you know well, if she had chosen option B, how many people would say she was so aggressive and so nasty and that was so unladylike. And you don't have to be Hillary Clinton as a woman, as you know, Alisyn, as I know from my wife and other women in my life, to be in a position where men speak to you in a way that can, or look to you in a way in a is menacing, that is unwelcome, or dismissive. You may go into a cocktail party and nobody asks you what you do or doesn't care about what you think.

So I thought her use of the words trying to throw me off or in a professional setting where maybe they don't treat you the same way. So I think there's so much truth to Hillary Clinton speaking there, and I'm really interested to hear more about those experiences as a women and the very difficult walk that she had trying to portray the toughness of her presidential candidate while also dealing. CUOMO: She also had a complicated effect on the election. There were

people who were for Hillary Clinton. There were also people who were so against her that it wound up being a proxy for a Trump vote, Margaret. There's so many Trump supporters who, when they have to deal with his shortcomings and his personal failures, as president, they say yes, but I was never going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

TALEV: Yes. And I think, you know, one of the questions that's going to emerge with the publicity around the book is to what end is all of this introspection? Is it about Hillary Clinton trying to burnish or adjust her own legacy, or is it supposed to be a lifeline, a path forward to the Democratic Party, which could use it right now in terms of motivation and organization.

And so, just as we heard the president at this rally last night try to explain to everybody what he was really doing and what he really meant to try to sort of dial down the criticism around the way he handled Charlottesville, they're obviously two completely different situations. But I think in this case we're seeing Hillary Clinton try to explain to people these were the things that you couldn't see. These were the things I was thinking. And the question now is what are American voters supposed to do with that information and what are Democrats supposed to do with that information going forward?

CAMEROTA: I think it's interesting because she rarely allows a window into your inner thinking and her inner thoughts. So that was just interesting to hear her. We all watched that moment and had to wonder what were they both thinking, and so she gave us that window.

[08:15:07] O'BRIEN: And to her credit, I think historically, she has had a very good, strong spine and strength of character about standing up to the face of these kinds of issues.

I think the larger thing going on is that the Democrats have a post- Hillary problem. And the GOP has a present Donald problem. And how is the -- how are Democrats going to confine a liberal message that resonates with Trump voters?

And how is the GOP going to define contemporary conservatism?

I think that's the political malaise we're all in right now.

CUOMO: But the proposition meets them both the same way, which is, it is time to define who you are and what you're about and then go out and fight for it. And we'll see what each side decides.


GREGORY: -- we're also going to be looking for accountability. They're really going to be looking for accountability from Hillary Clinton in all of this introspection.

CUOMO: Right.

What does she own? It comes out in a couple of weeks. So then we'll know. I think September 12th is the date I'm being told. So put that on your calendar.

All right, panel, thank you very much.

Well, President Trump blaming us for distorting his words about Charlottesville. Blaming the media is not new. But the president has created a matter of fact. And we will take you through the facts and you can decide who is right and who is not -- next.


CUOMO: All right. So this is not about a matter of opinion. It's about --


CUOMO: -- a matter of fact. Let's begin.

President Trump started last night's rally with the right message about the violence in Charlottesville.


TRUMP: Tonight, this entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs who perpetrate hatred and violence.


CUOMO: Here's the problem. After he said that, he did all he could to dissolve that unity by distorting reality and blaming those responsible for calling him out.


TRUMP: But the very dishonest media, those people right up there with all the cameras, they don't report the facts. Just like they don't want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.


CUOMO: So we have a matter of fact here. I will now play for you what the president said that he said after Charlottesville.


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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: All right. Now this is not an edit. He was done. That's what he said that he said. But the problem is he omitted things. And he did so on purpose.


TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.


CUOMO: Those were the most important words, because it drew a moral equivalence between Nazis and those opposing them. That was the whole point. He left it out. Not a coincidence. And what about those people he so condemns?


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 it, yes. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all.


CUOMO: OK. Well, here's what he said about those very same people when pressed by CNN's Jim Acosta.


TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue.


CUOMO: Who -- what fine people protest with white supremacists?

Even if you went there with a pure heart to talk about the statue, when you saw what was going on, you would leave. And that's why there is no proof, whether it's Vice or the reporters on the ground or anything you can find that shows there was some parallel pure movement there that was just about the statue.

The statue was a ruse and the people who were there were hateful. These are those people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.


CUOMO: All right. Enough of them. That's what they were saying. It wasn't about the statue. It was never about the statue. It was about hate and getting a platform from it and then getting a favor from the president.

And what he did last night was misleading. And do not forget. It is a matter of fact. He drew a moral equation between white supremacists and those opposing them. This isn't about the violence that was wrong on both sides; it was about the morality at play on both sides.

Those are his words. He can run from them but he cannot hide from the truth -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris thank you for that. Let's discuss the president's speech last night with CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and Ben Ferguson.

And Ana tweeted last night. We'll read that.

"Only possible defensible explanation for Trump's disgusting, unpresidential and narcissistic behavior would be early onset dementia."

OK. Welcome to both of you.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN COMMENTATOR: Good morning to you.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and good morning to both of you.

Ana, listen, are you going overboard?

When you move into the mentally unfit, the dementia, that's just a whole new realm of which, frankly, you have no proof and no evidence.

And so why jump that shark?

NAVARRO: Because it's not normal. And you see people who are normalizing it at this point are becoming complicit. What we saw yesterday was a President of the United States fanning the flames.

Look, for a while there, as Chris said, he was reading off the teleprompter and you thought, OK. This might be a normal rally. He might have some presidential moments.

Then he takes these papers out of his pocket. He obviously had intent of going rogue, doing what his advisers told him not to do. Alisyn, he is the commander in chief, he is the leader of the United States. He is supposed to be uniting us.

We have just had the most horrible week, the most horrible 10 days of division, racial tensions, grief in this country. And instead of this man going out there and figuring --


NAVARRO: -- out how to heal the country, it was all about him. He didn't talk about hatred. He didn't talk about bigotry. He didn't talk about Heather Heyer. He talked about how he was the victim, how he was being attacked. That is called narcissism. That is not normal. That is not sane behavior. I am not a psychiatrist. I am just a regular human being who knows a

lot of people and who knows the difference between right and wrong, which is more than this 71-year-old man baby seems to be able to know.

CAMEROTA: Ben, how did you hear it?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Number one, Ana, you're better than this. To come out there and you criticize the president constantly and that's fine.

But to say that the man has a medical condition or imply that somehow has dementia, you've had pretty intense moments on TV. You had some intense moments where you were yelling the P word on TV. No one tweeted out and said that you have early onset dementia.

To describe someone that way I think is incredibly unfair. I also think that, honestly, you're a lot better than that.


CAMEROTA: -- I'm just curious, what -- did you think that his speech last night was OK?

Did you think it was unifying?

FERGUSON: I thought it was a classic campaign rally speech that we've been seeing now for, what?

A year, over a year?


CAMEROTA: But he's the president. He's not a campaigner anymore.


FERGUSON: Well, you campaign when you're the president.


CAMEROTA: -- one more thing -- of course. Look, by definition, a campaign is divisive. By definition. As president you're supposed to be uniting the country.

Did you feel the speech was unifying.

FERGUSON: I don't think every speech the president gives has to be a, quote, " unifying speech" because you're fighting for something in politics. I can give you thousands of examples, where Barack Obama was not unifying the country and was trying to pass ObamaCare.

Did anyone say he was unhinged or had early onset dementia?


FERGUSON: Let me finish this one thing though. This is the part that I think people that criticize the president and they constantly say, well, he's unpresidential or he's unhinged or he is outside the realm. The same people that are saying that are the ones that are tweeting things like I think the president has dementia or I think it's time to unseat the president or I think it's time to impeach him.

If you don't like the president, it doesn't mean that you have to go to personal attacks or to somehow say that his mind is not sane. That's a very bitter thing to say.


NAVARRO: Let me say this. I did not say he had dementia.

FERGUSON: You implied it.

NAVARRO: No, no, no. Go read my tweet. It's right there. I'm not making it up. What I said was --


NAVARRO: Ben, hold on this is not about you and me. I'm not going to go after you because you are an apologist for every ridiculous thing this man says.


NAVARRO: I let you speak. What I said was that the only defensible excuse, the only defensible explanation is if he is not mentally well because if he is, then he is just such an incredible, self-centered, narcissistic, unfit jerk that it makes it that much worse.

FERGUSON: This is what I'm talking about.

NAVARRO: The only thing that would make it defensible is if he really is not well. If sometime later in the future we find out he has something. I'm not saying he has it.

FERGUSON: Of course you are.

NAVARRO: I'm saying it is the only defensible excuse for his disgusting, self-centered, narcissistic behavior.

FERGUSON: I get you hate the president. You voted for Hillary Clinton.

NAVARRO: And I get that you apologize for every ridiculous --

FERGUSON: I don't apologize --

CAMEROTA: I agree with both of you that this isn't actually about both of you.

Ben, I'm really curious, did you think last night's speech was helpful for the country?

FERGUSON: I think last night's speech, there's two things that I took away form it. People that criticized the president last week on his response -- and I was one of those that criticized him on his response to Charlottesville, last night he omitted the "both sides" and then people criticized him, saying, well, he's rewriting history.


FERGUSON: So my point is this. Last night I think the president understood and pivoted to become a better president on that issue and not keep doubling or tripling down on something --


FERGUSON: This is where I disagree. We all, last week, everybody's saying I hope we see a new president. I hope that we see him come out differently. I hope we see that he changes his tone. I hope he won't continue to use --


CAMEROTA: -- taking out a piece of paper from his pocket and saying something different than what he actually had said --

FERGUSON: This is where I think you look at it completely different than I do. I think the president last night was more responsible than he was a week ago. We should be glad that he was more responsible and not go back to the "both sides" rhetoric.

It's what everyone said they wanted him to do, right. They all said, you can't walk out there and you can't have a moral clemency between the both sides. Last night he omits it because he doesn't want to keep putting it out there.

CAMEROTA: But he didn't admit wrongdoing.


FERGUSON: At a campaign rally last night?

I don't think anyone there last night thought he was, quote, "rewriting history." I think what they thought last night is he was actually having a rally with his supporters, with his base. And he didn't say some things that were hurtful that he said a week ago, because if he would have come out and said the whole thing, people would have said he's tripling down, he's quadrupling down on this.

CAMEROTA: One more thing before I let Ana get back in, do you think that -- you said he wanted to not hurt anybody.

Do you think that he's hurting reporters and the press with his language?

FERGUSON: I think if you're going after the press, you have to be very clear who you're going after.