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President Trump: Scripted Vs. Unscripted; Debt Limit Deadline Nears; Colin Kaepernick Supporters Demonstrate Outside NFL HQ; Elian Gonzalez And The Impact On Cuban Exiles. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 24, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:45] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So, which is it? Does the president want to put the country first and heal wounds and unite or be Trump, flame-throwing and divisive?

The answer may be clear to you but the president seems to be confused. Why? Well, six different times he's flip-flopped on the moral mandate raised by the ugliness in Charlottesville.

Here are the facts.

The first response was Saturday, the 12th.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible termis egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.


CUOMO: Now, the 'on many sides' mitigating moral monsters like the KKK was not liked. So, two days later, those many sides were gone.


TRUMP: We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.


CUOMO: But when pressed by reporters about his initial error, Trump did what he does most, he doubled down.


TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides.


CUOMO: Then, when his own party finally came out to beat back the president's divisiveness, Trump spoke of unity and said we owe it to the troops. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When we open our hearts to patriotism there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate.


CUOMO: But just a day later -- literally, a day later -- the country that the troops deserve gave way to the political reality that Trump wants, once again saying he did nothing wrong.


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 see -- yes, KKK. We have KKK.


CUOMO: Then again, literally, the next day, back on prompter reading somebody else's words in Nevada, we heard this.


TRUMP: It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us.


CUOMO: Well, what is the deal?

Let's debate this with CNN political commentators. I've got Ana Navarro and Ben Ferguson.

I mean, Ben, it's always nice to be (INAUDIBLE). Good to see you, and good to see you -- good to see you.

So, it seems obvious what's going on here, OK? He believes what he says when he's with those crowds, OK? Antifa, KKK, they're both bad and I -- that's it. And you don't want to say it but that's what he believes.

And then every once in a while somebody says look, you're putting us in a hole, say this, and he will literally be tied to the prompter. He doesn't even really move from screen to screen. That's how tied he is to somebody else's words.

But it's clearly not where his head is on this issue right now. I mean, isn't that just a fair reckoning?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW": I disagree with you a little bit. I think there's different settings where you have different things that you can say.

When you're talking to your base you're going to have much more a blunt conversation. He doesn't need a teleprompter then. If he's in his rally, which is a place that he loves and he feels like he can -- it's -- literally, that's probably one of his happiest places to be, he's going to be him. He's going to be Donald Trump.

[07:35:08] If he's going the next day and he's talking to a different group of people, whether it's the military or a more formal setting the day after that you saw yesterday with the teleprompter --

I don't think it's fair to say those are not his words. He obviously goes over that. He goes over it with a speechwriter. Every president has somebody that writes for them. But if Donald Trump doesn't like it, he will go off that teleprompter and people criticize him for it.

CUOMO: And he does exactly that, 24 hours later, Ana. He says the message that's supposed to be given is presidential and then he fights it. So it's not just the same as saying I'm going to give one set of policy ideas to you because you're the Texan and I'll give another one to you.

Yes, politicians do that. This is about morality. This is about who is bad and who is good, or what is bad and what is good. It's not something like just selling different items to people.


Look, if he was reading a teleprompter and then giving an off-the-cuff speech about policy, none of us expect Donald Trump to be Albert Einstein. None of us expect him to be a tenured professor at Harvard. We know he doesn't know policy.

But his was a basic moral issue. This was about condemning white supremacy, this was about condemning hatred and racism. If you cannot have a consistent message on that then you have a real problem.

We are not asking him for consistency on details. We are asking him for consistency on right and wrong. And it's not only that he was inconsistent, it's that he was inconsistent over and over again.

He said one thing on Saturday, he said another thing on Monday, he said another thing on Tuesday, he said another thing -- you know, I mean, it is one day after the other.

So this is very simple. It is the real Trump versus the scripted Trump. It is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

FERGUSON: I don't think it's that. I think it's an issue of Donald Trump trying to navigate and figure out exactly how to communicate not as a candidate, not as Donald Trump, the guy who goes out there and connects with a lot of people that voted for him and made him president.

I think he's trying to figure out exactly -- sometimes you have to talk differently when you actually are the President of the United States of America. I think what he's learned this week or over the last week and a half

is you've got to get certain issues right every time. You've got to have a clear and concise message.

What he had the other night when he talked about the war in Afghanistan was very clear and concise. There was no ambiguity there. That's where I do think the president can probably learn from that night.

That was a good night for the president, right? That was a night when people walked away and they said I feel comfortable with this, I feel like he has an understanding of the issue. I think the president has to start doing that more often.

I agree with you that you don't want to have when you're walking out there one thing that you say on a Tuesday that looks like it's different than what you said on a Wednesday.

But I also think that Donald Trump should have the right to be Donald Trump and to not have everything -- some people, I think, focus in so much on certain little words and things. He cleared up -- when he was in his rally the other night, he didn't say both sides. Most people said he shouldn't ever have said both sides.

NAVARRO: Actually, he did say it. He just said it in different words --

FERGUSON: But -- hold on --

NAVARRO: -- when he said they are trying to take away our history. That's both sides. He is pitting American versus American with those words.


NAVARRO: And he lost the right to be divisive the day he became President of the United States of America. He is not the president of a divided states of America.


NAVARRO: He has lost the right to pit one American versus another --

FERGUSON: I think you had, though --

NAVARRO: -- the day he took that oath of office.

FERGUSON: I think you can have a real conversation about people that become violent and that doesn't mean that you're necessarily a bad person.

Like, what we've done is we basically put the president in saying you can only say this. You can't have a real conversation about this.

We should be able -- when we're watching on T.V. people that are literally being violent it is insane to imply that somehow the president shouldn't be able to talk about this, though they are literally wearing a gas mask, throwing a canister of gas, throwing urine at police officers.

NAVARRO: But, the only time --


NAVARRO: The only time he's making a coherent message is when he's on teleprompter. You almost get the feeling --


NAVARRO: -- that John Kelly is behind a curtain somewhere, you know --

FERGUSON: But, Ana -- but if that was true he wouldn't have been elected.

NAVARRO: -- operating a shock collar.

FERGUSON: But also, he got elected by not being on the teleprompter.

NAVARRO: He got elected despite saying, you know, crazy, incoherent things.

CUOMO: He got elected not being on teleprompter --

FERGUSON: Lindsey Graham ought to beat him if he was on teleprompter the whole time.

CUOMO: -- or connecting with a base. There are a lot of good reasons, positive attributes, that got him elected for the group of people that voted for him. There's no question about that.

This is about something else. This isn't about how you do it, it's about what's in here (heart) and what's in here (head).

You either think that Nazis and people fighting against Nazis are different on a moral basis.


CUOMO: -- or you don't.

It's not about the violence. Violence is wrong. If you are violent when you have protests you are a rioter, you're not a protester.

So, whether it's Antifa or it's BLM or it's a white supremacist, when you commit a crime in the act of protest you surrender the First Amendment right to a criminal violation. It was never the issue.

It was that people like Heather Heyer who were there to fight against white supremacy were somehow equal to them because they both got violent, and you know that's not true because you condemned it.

[07:40:04] FERGUSON: Absolutely. CUOMO: But, you're also defending the president as if somehow this is about picking audiences and learning how to be president.

FERGUSON: I don't think it's that.

CUOMO: It's about what is in your heart. You either think it's what's wrong or you don't.

FERGUSON: Here's -- OK, here's what I'll say, though.

I think there is many Americans that watched what was going on on T.V. and they literally were visually seeing people --

CUOMO: Right.

FERGUSON: -- that were violent over here and violent over here. And there was a real conversation the next day about that because when you watched it you knew that there people on both sides that were being violent.

The problem is --

CUOMO: But when it's --

FERGUSON: Let me say this though.


CUOMO: Hold on. The analogy is specious analogy. I've heard it many times. When the blacks were fighting against the people with the fire hoses were they morally equal? Were they morally equal?

FERGUSON: I think you know the answer to that.

CUOMO: No is the answer. They were not morally equal.

FERGUSON: I mean --

CUOMO: So when the white supremacist has the torch and I get up in the white supremacist's face and we start going at it and there's a fight, are we morally equal?




NAVARRO: There's a right side and wrong side.


CUOMO: And you said that in the aftermath.

FERGUSON: And I -- and I said that and I agree with it now. There's no -- When you're the President of the United States of America there are

certain issues you have to always get right. The issue of race is definitely one of those. When you see someone hate -- hate, race, bigotry, whatever that may be in that category, you have to always get that issue right. I totally agree with you.

At the same time, I do not think that there is a problem having a real conversation about the fact that there are certain people -- I don't care -- that show up at these events to become violent. And to act as if there were people there that were not there solely to be violent --

NAVARRO: Yes, but, Ben, Ben, Ben --

FERGUSON: -- solely have an --

NAVARRO: What happened that Saturday at UVA was not --

CUOMO: People with the torches and the guns.

NAVARRO: But listen, we cannot say that about the people that showed up -- the very brave, young students -- UVA students who showed up to counter-protest on Saturday. They didn't show up there to be violent.

FERGUSON: I agree with you, completely.

NAVARRO: They showed up there to defend American values.

And we have got to talk about just how reprehensible this speech -- this rally speech in Arizona was. He spent minutes after minutes relitigating his response to Charlottesville. It was all about him.

Then he is in Arizona. Just miles away is John McCain, a national hero who was hanging by his thumbs for five years while Donald Trump was getting five draft deferments. And he leads the chant -- the chant against John McCain.


NAVARRO: He fosters an environment where people show up with signs that say John McCain is a traitor and John McCain should die. A man who is going through chemotherapy. A man who is fighting cancer right now.


NAVARRO: That is reprehensible.


Then he says you versus ours when it comes to Americans. That is reprehensible.


NAVARRO: He gives a passing mention to Heather Heyer.

CUOMO: All right.

FERGUSON: All right, let me speak.

CUOMO: Final word.

FERGUSON: Let's be -- let's be clear.

I think the president -- you know, I don't know if someone showed up and had a sign that said John McCain should die. If they did, that's reprehensible. It's wrong.

NAVARRO: It's on video.

FERGUSON: OK, then I'm saying it's wrong.

John McCain is in politics. John McCain knows in politics you're going to have a vicious debate.

I don't like -- and I love John McCain, I really do. But John McCain, I think, understands that when you're in politics it's going to get heated. And, John McCain doesn't mind that so let's not act like he's, you know, somehow unable to handle himself.

CUOMO: There's a line --

NAVARRO: I'm sorry, but Donald Trump is not fit to say John McCain's name.

CUOMO: You would -- but you --


CUOMO: Look, look, you're allowed to have political fights but it's about how you fight as well. It's about what the level of disagreement is.

You don't like my policy, that's one thing, but you wouldn't insult my dead father. You wouldn't say that I'm not a hero because I got captured.

You know, there's certain things that you do because --


CUOMO: -- they're about decency and then there's politics and they can go together. We're just seeing them get torn apart by this tribal politics.

Ben, Ana, you did a good job. I thought we were going to go at it. I thought there was a plate of metal in that.

NAVARRO: Yes, and this is -- this is not from hitting back.

FERGUSON: (Laughing).

CUOMO: I thought you were like -- I thought were like Iron Mike Sharpe from old WWF days.

NAVARRO: Anybody comes after your father, I'm defending him, too.

CUOMO: But, no, it was good. Everything was good -- Alisyn.


Sending a message to the NFL. Why hundreds of protesters say quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being kept off the field. We have the latest for you in the "Bleacher Report," next.


[07:48:17] CAMEROTA: OK, time for "CNN Money Now."

The next big test for Washington, the debt ceiling. The debate starts today. Start the clock for the government shutdown question.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more.

It never fails. The perennial debate. Here it is.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And it's called the X date, exactly when the government runs out of money and the latest target, early to mid-October.

To avoid picking and choosing which bills to pay, lawmakers must raise the country's debt limit before then so the Treasury can pay America's bills in full and on time.

Now, for months, the Secretary Treasury Steven Mnuchin has used special accounting tricks to stay under the debt ceiling but the gimmicks tap out sometime between September 29th and mid-October.

There are big consequences if Washington doesn't raise the ceiling in time. A downgrade for U.S. credit, federal employees and contractors wouldn't get paid, and world markets could tank.

Now, that debt ceiling will be hit exactly as Congress needs to pass a spending measure to keep the government open and the president is now threatening a government shutdown if his border wall is not funded. By the way, the last shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion -- Chris.

CUOMO: Good to know, Christine. And, you know, when they hold up those payments it's the people who pay the price.

ROMANS: Oh, absolutely.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

So, the streets outside the NFL offices in New York are filled with Colin Kaepernick supporters.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Kaepernick was, of course, the guy who started these protests in this most recent spate of not standing during the National Anthem.

What's the latest?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you know, the NFL season kicks off two weeks from today and Kaepernick remains without a team.

And because of that, a number of civil rights groups organized a rally outside of the NFL's offices. Now, people were wearing Kaepernick jerseys and shirts with Kaepernick's face on them. And many believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by teams because of his social activism.

[07:50:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NFL is 70 percent people of color. They need the black and brown community so blackballing Colin Kaepernick, that's not in their best interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, the NFL thinks he's bad for business.

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, JR., COLIN KAEPERNICK SUPPORTER: He's not yelling or screaming or being disrespectful. He's just bringing attention to a very important issue they have a problem with.


SCHOLES: Now, organizers from the United We Stand rally requested a meeting with the NFL by September 7th to discuss methods to support and protect players who are socially active. And, Alisyn, they say if they don't get that meeting they will call for a boycott of the league and its sponsors.

CAMEROTA: OK, Andy. We know you'll keep us up to speed on all of that. Thank you very much.

So we all remember Elian Gonzalez and the day that he was taken forcibly from his home, a gun pointed at him in this infamous photo in this custody battle that gained international attention.

Well, now, 17 years later CNN goes one-on-one with Elian Gonzalez. That's next.


CAMEROTA: OK. So we all remember the story of Elian Gonzalez, the little Cuban boy taken by armed immigration agents from Florida, sent back to his father in Cuba.

Well now, 17 years later, there's a new CNN documentary -- airs tonight -- and it breaks down what life is like now for one of the most identifiable people in Cuba, 23-year-old Elian Gonzalez.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELIAN GONZALEZ (through translator): When I got older, my father sat me down and said I brought you back because I love Cuba, I love the revolution, and I love Fidel.

It's not that I have to demonstrate anything now, just wait. When the Cuban people need me, I have to be there. I have to fight for the Cuban people.


CROWD: Viva.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viva, the Cuban youth.

CROWD: Viva.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homeland or death?


CAMEROTA: Fascinating.


CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann sat down with Elian ahead of the documentary's release. He's joining us now from Havana.

Great to see you, as always.

What does Elian mean to the people there?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, he means so much. People went out in the street and fought for his return. A lot of people never thought he would get back here, that the empire -- the imperial -- was going to keep him. And so they feel -- many of the people, including Fidel Castro until he died last year -- that Elian belonged to them. That he was, somehow, their child.

And you sure got that sense walking around yesterday. We got the rare chance to sit down with him in his hometown, Cardenas. People walked up, they hugged him. And these are people who live in his town and they just want to grab ahold of him and he's fine with this.

[07:55:10] He's incredibly poised. He's no longer that shy little boy. He's a very confident man who is sure of his opinions and he says that he has not been brainwashed.

I was in his home. It's a nice house but it's hardly the mansion the people in South Florida said that he would get for coming back here.

And he says he now has a somewhat normal life. That he works as an engineer, that he's engaged to be married, and he says he has no doubts that his father had -- made the right choice in bringing him back to Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OPPMANN: What do you think your life would have been like if you had stayed in the United States?

GONZALEZ (through translator): I think I would have become the poster boy for that group of Cubans in Miami that tries to destroy the revolution that try to make Cuba look bad.

I would have been used in that way. I would have become an actor on T.V. or maybe I would have more money than I have here with more comforts, but I wouldn't have my family. I wouldn't have the tranquility I have in Cuba.


OPPMANN: The most striking thing, though, was that both Elian Gonzalez and his father Juan Miguel said they have no ill will towards their Miami relatives despite the bitter, bitter family feud.

Elian Gonzalez says he's dying to go back to the U.S. for a visit. He would go to Miami. His father started tearing up at that thought during the interview. He was concerned about his well-being.

But, Elian Gonzalez said it's his decision now. He thinks about the U.S. all of the time. Even though his life is in Cuba he wants to go back and, he says, thank the people who supported his father in his desire to return to Cuba. He says he needs to go back and thank those people personally.

He also says that he would like to meet with those Miami relatives. That the bad blood has gone on for too long. And both he and father said it is time to reconcile the Gonzalez family fight.

CUOMO: What is he doing in Cuba? What's his life like?

OPPMANN: So, he has trained to be an engineer. He graduated last year, Chris, from a military academy. People saw him in his military uniform and said no, he's become a spokesman for the government here.

But he's now working for a company that makes water tanks, which are a very important facet of people's lives here. They go on top of people's homes.

He's got a very nice girlfriend. He was serving us lots of cups of Cuban coffee yesterday. He lives with his dad like most Cubans do here and he says he's just kind of a regular guy.

But he is so well-spoken, so sure of his opinions. He wants to learn English. He's working on that and he says he's got big hopes for the future.

I don't think this is the last we've heard of Elian Gonzalez.

CAMEROTA: Patrick, it is so fascinating to see where he is now. Thank you so much for bringing that to us.

And, CNN films will air that tonight. "Elian: The Story of A Cuban Boy Caught Between Two Nations." It will be tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CUOMO: All right. We are following a lot of news. Let's get after it.


TRUMP: It is time to heal the wounds that divide us. These are bad people and I really think they don't like our country.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: He'll make a scripted teleprompter speech and then turn around and negate it by unbridled, unleashed Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To threaten government shutdown a month before and he'd even toy with it, is dangerous for our role in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wanted a president to break the system, to break Washington.

REP. TOM COLE (R), ARIZONA, MEMBER, BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS AND RULES COMMITTEES: Don't make it personal and remember, these are members of your team. You're going to need every vote you've got.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get those tickets out. Let's play.

CUOMO: This is the largest win ever by a single ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lucky winner walked in not knowing they purchased a ticket that could forever change their life.


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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your new day. It is Thursday, August 24th, now 8:00 in the east.

And if you look at the headlines they are all just hitting on one theme. "Presidential Whiplash: Three personas in three speeches, but the same president." And, "Different Day, Different crowd, Different Trump."

The wild swing from uniter to divider coming as the rift between the president and his own party widens, and it has to threaten his ability to get anything through Congress.

CAMEROTA: All right. On another subject, also this morning, who won the massive Powerball jacket?

One winning ticket was sold in Watertown, Massachusetts. It hit all six magic numbers for a whopping $758 million. That is the largest jackpot won by a single ticket in American history.

We will speak with the owner of the store where the ticket was sold. So let's start, though, with our top story and that is everything that is happening in Washington and all the politics.

We want to bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin and Amie Parnes, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Great to have all of you here.

Ron, let me start with you. It's hard to get our bearings sometimes with the whiplash of the past week where we saw President Trump in all sorts of different personas and modes.