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Analysts Examine President Trump's Relationship with Congressional Republicans; Hurricane Warnings in Effect off Coast of Texas; Store that Sold Winning Lottery Ticket Still Unknown; Interview with Republican Congressman Dan Donovan of New York. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 24, 2017 - 08:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: 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. There's teleprompter Trump, and, as we know, there's rally, political rally campaign style Trump. So what are we do make of all of this?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean I think you see kind of the struggle between a more conventional White House that puts words in front of him and gets him into the teleprompter on time, and that can, on a good day, get him to read that, and then Trump's own instincts, which are much more toward being a divider. And I think that is the genuine Trump.

Now, I think he generally has fell - what's striking to me about this moment is that this is a moment that intrinsically puts tension on kind of the cohesion of the country. We are going through big demographic and economic changes. I think what is so striking is that generally speaking, his natural instinct is to jump up and down on those fault lines. He believes that polarizing has worked for him. It worked in the primary, it worked in November, even though he only got to 46 percent of the vote. And I think the American people see that as the genuine Trump. If you look at the polling that came out, for example, yesterday from Quinnipiac, there's no question that people see him much more than as a divider than a uniter. I think that is the authentic instinct. And the other is when the White House can impose more of a process upon him.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Amie, isn't it as simple as sometimes he's forced to be about we. And most of the time he wants to be about me. And that's what you see. He doesn't like that you challenge him about what he said or said he was wrong, he attacks you. And that goes no matter who you are, whether it's the media, a senator in his own party, doesn't matter. The question is impact. Where does this help him, where does this hurt him?

AMIE PARNES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It hurts because Republicans are really upset with him. You have everyone from Mitch McConnell to donors --

CUOMO: Enough to do anything about it or just to grouse to us?

PARNES: No. I think when Congress comes back in session it will be really interesting to see what they say. People are going to be asking them questions. They're going to be focused on this. They're going to be putting them to the test and saying are you with this? Are you for this specifically? And that's going to be a really critical test I think for a lot of people because you're hearing a lot of rumbling behind the scenes for months already. When he made those comments to cops a couple of weeks ago, you started hearing a lot of donors getting a little bit upset and there's some consternation building. And you've seen kind of a cascade of that I think throughout. And I think that's going to boil over when Congress comes back into session.

JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's going to boil over one of his biggest priorities, which is the Wall, capital "W." There is no appetite among a lot of folks, in the Senate especially on the Republican side, to close down the government to put money behind the building of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico. They don't want to do it. There is support in the House, certainly, and some parts of the Senate, but there's no desire among Mitch McConnell and his lieutenants to close down the federal government to get money into a one-year spending bill to build this wall. That is where you're going to see there's real tension next month.

CAMEROTA: Ron, for a long time it seemed as though Republicans were afraid to argue with anything the president wants because for fear of alienating his base. There's new Quinnipiac poll numbers out that I want to bounce off of all of you. It asked a couple questions. We'll start with one that's just a take on temperament. Is President Trump level-headed. The respondents, as you'll see, 68 percent say no, 29 percent say yes. What's interesting is when you break it down party by party, of independents 70 percent say no to the level-headed question whereas 26 percent say yes. And divided, next, does President Trump divide or unite the country? Sixth-two percent of respondents say he divides the country. So it's independents obviously that people keep an eye on, and you, as our master poll prognosticator, what do you see in these numbers?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think, first of all, all of the numbers that have come out, both the national polls like Quinnipiac and also the others state by state polls that came out last week in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the three states that delivered in the White House, they all make clear that it is erroneous to argue that he has seen no erosion in his base. He is declining not only among the groups that were skeptical of him to begin with, but he is in the Quinnipiac poll 15 points below, his approval rating is 15 points below his vote among whites without a college education who are his core group. In the three critical rustbelt states his approval rating was 20 points at least below his vote in all three states. And in all three states at least 28 of the people who voted for him said they are embarrassed by his conduct as president.

So the idea that everybody is still with him when we go out into these little towns, and that's fine reporting, but the idea that everybody voted for him is still with him is not right.

And second point, as I think that what Republicans on the Hill have learned is that the president can drive a news cycle through that endless series of personal feuds. As Jonathan was saying, anybody who attacks him he will go back at twice as hard.

[08:05:11] But what he has not shown the ability to do is drive a message around a policy or legislative agenda. The fact is he can complain all he wants about the Republicans failing to deliver on health care, but by the time that bill came to a vote in the Senate it had support of less than 20 percent support of the public. That's the job of the president to provide that kind of air cover. He now wants to shut down the government over a wall that 60 percent or more of the public consistently opposes in polling before you even get to the question of a shutdown. Does he have a capacity to change those numbers by going out and making this a sane argument about anything other than who he's mad at today? He has not demonstrated that.

So Republicans look at this where they're in a situation where he will be quick to blame them if they don't pass legislation but he may be of very little help in actually doing so.

MARTIN: And there's no desire or capacity on the part of the White House staff to make him go out and sell a message. They keep scheduling these basic campaign rallies with no larger goal besides to have him vent his spleen. My colleague Alex Burns and I had a story about the rift between the president and Senator McConnell --

CUOMO: Put out a statement saying that everything's hunky-dory.

MARTIN: Exactly. Although there's much more below the surface. When that story when online, I got a phone call from a GOP senator who brought up the Trump obsession with Russia but also said, look, his vocabulary on the health care debate was about 10 words. He said he has got to use the bully pulpit to drive tax reform or it's never going to happen. If he does not go out there and try to sell tax reform, it's not going to happen. And also, it's not going to give the Republicans anything to run on next year. Right now they have no accomplishments to run on in the midterms. They need a victory.

CUOMO: Executive orders don't help them, that's true.

But under the category of method to the madness, I don't know how it helps Trump to play with the morality equivalency between Nazis and those who oppose them. I don't get his play there. But being disruptive, attacking his own party, while the political playbook would say that's madness, people want him to be disruptive. The GOP doesn't have a lot of fans as an entity, just like people don't love either political party anymore. Could that work for him?

PARNES: I don't know, because the reason he was successful with Gorsuch, for instance, was because he was working with Mitch McConnell. He needs these people on his side. It's not helpful to him largely if he's pushing tax reform and he wants these bigger, to put bigger points on the board to actually be riffing these people.

CUOMO: But his play is people are mad because they didn't get it done. Do I want that on me? No. It's on them, so I'm going to go after them as well. Could that work? Can the people's agent against inefficacy --

MARTIN: The swamp. Yes.

PARNES: I don't think so. I really don't because I think ultimately he needs all these people. He needs to work with them. And he needs Republicans, not only Democrats and Republicans, but even to do something like infrastructure, low hanging fruit. Something that people thought that he could pass very easily.

MARTIN: If they have no wins and lose the house next year that's going to be on him in 2019 because then you're going to have a House Democrat majority with subpoena power that's going to give him a hard time and perhaps even impeach him. So his fate, Chris, is very much tied to those folks. He relishes going after them because, you're right, he doesn't want to take the blame. But guess what, his fate is tied to them, and if they lose the majority next year in the House, that's going to create a world of problems.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Real quick. The last three times we've had unified of government, one party controlling the House, the Senate, and the White House, going into a midterm, they've lost it. There is a risk in not getting things done. There's also a risk in getting things done because the dynamic that we've seen in 2010 and 2006 and 1994 essentially is that the party in power, their voters feel like you didn't get enough done. They're kind of disappointed. And the other side is outraged. They feel like you're steamrolling us and moving the country in a direction we don't support.

I think certainly if you look at the strong disapproval of President Trump, one of the things that's most striking in that Quinnipiac poll is that essentially everyone that disapproves except, for four percent, say they strongly disapprove. Those are very high numbers. That historically, has been, as Jonathan knows, a marker of turnout. You have a very engaged Democratic base at this point. And Republicans have to kind of work through this I think very complex landscape at this point because the president, as I said, has shown no ability to help them pass legislation.

It is clear, as Chris says, he will kind of triangulate in his own way to go after both sides if they don't, very different than the Bill Clinton version of triangulation which is finding a midpoint between the parties and working out deals on welfare reform and the balanced budget in 96, 97. I think what President Trump could be heading toward, as Chris suggests, is in fact kind of a point away from both sides where he blames both of them. There is an audience for that but it's not 50 percent of the country.

[08:10:06] CAMEROTA: Amie, one interesting question. Obviously you've made the case that the president needs Congress. Does Congress need the president? I mean, we just had Senator Blumenthal on who suggested this plan that he sees this sort of newfound desire for bipartisanship because if you can't count on the president then you have to turn to your previous enemies. So Republicans and Democrats he thinks there's a new appetite for working together. And he said they're going to get things done, and they're just going to give the president the credit, and everybody is going to be happy. PARNES: I think they need each other is the answer. And he needs to

learn that everything isn't about Trump. It's not about him. It's not about -- and that's a hard lesson to learn. But this is a guy who was -- who campaigned on the fact that he's deal maker, and he hasn't been able to make any deals so far. And that I think speaks a lot to what's going on right now.

MARTIN: The biggest accomplishment he has is that he signed a Russia sanctions bill that he deeply resents and it's still simmering over. So no, he has not been able to sort of forge any kind of consensus and he does not understand the sort of institutional loyalties to parties that presidents have and the fact that their fates are intertwined. And if he doesn't learn it pretty soon, 2018 is going to be a rude wake-up call for him.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you.

CUOMO: This was a really informative session. We get lucky. We get to be surrounded by great minds every morning like this. Thanks to all three of you, appreciate it.

So political storms blow over, real storms we've got to track. And coming towards Texas right now on the coast is a hurricane. Right now it's may be a tropical storm, can become a hurricane. It's called Harvey. The forecast models are very alarming. It's a hurricane warning right now, and it supposed to make landfall coming up soon. So let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers. So what is it right now, what is it forecasted to be? What are the variables?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It was supposed to be 45 and now it's 60 because they just but a plane in there, and the plane said, whoa, what did we just find. Sixty miles per hour, not supposed to be that strong. Not supposed to be this low pressure either. The pressure went down to 985. It should be 995. I know those are just numbers, but we're about 10 percent lower than we should be right now. So will this be a category one with the forecast, or could this be a category two or three when it makes landfall, the first major landfall of a major hurricane in a very, very, very long time. We have that amnesia of what a hurricane really can do. Hurricane warnings are posted. Flood warnings are going to be posted because some spots along the Florida gulf coast all the way to the Texas Gulf coast all the way to San Antonio and Houston could get 20 inches of rain depending how slowly this storm moves.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chad, please keep an eye on all of that for our viewers. Thank you very much.

We have more breaking news. There's a big update about this morning's historic Powerball jackpot. A single winning ticket worth more than $758 million was not sold in Watertown, Massachusetts, as we've been reporting. The state lottery commission made a mistake and they have just made a new announcement. So let's get right to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's live at the store that thought they had sold the winning ticket. What is the mix-up here, Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. You should have seen the smiles on the faces of people that work here. They were so excited they had that winning ticket sold here, and now actually my producer is the one who sort of broke the news to him that that's not the case.

So what we're learning now from the lottery here in Massachusetts is that the winning ticket was sold, yes, at a store in Massachusetts, just not this one. We're still trying to confirm which store that is. Regardless of all of that, these corrections have been posted all throughout the morning. We do know this is a pretty big prize that has been won by someone or at least a group of people, maybe, because we see those pools all the time. And it adds up to about $443 million.

Now here's the thing. If you're waking up this morning and you're hearing that only one person or one ticket was sold of the winning ticket, don't be so upset because there were other winners as well. There are people that won, six tickets were sold that are worth $2 million and 34 tickets that were sold that were $1 million worth to the ticket holder. So there's other winners out there.

But certainly this has been interesting, as everyone here has descended on this store, congratulated the store owners, and now we all need to relocate to another area because this is not where that winning ticket was sold.

So Brynn, hold on a second. Let's talk about what this means. So for that store, the $50,000 just flew away like a little birdie because they get a bonus if they sold the ticket. So that's that story. But in terms of the integrity of the numbers that are the winning numbers, the number of tickets that won, is the lottery commission still straight on all of that?

GINGRAS: We're trying to figure that out, Chris, to be honest with you, because we're seeing a bunch of corrections. We're trying to get the exact correction. But the original release said that there was only one winning ticket. So that means all of the numbers were there. But there were also in that original release, 40 other millionaire tickets, meaning that they had some amount of numbers correct, totaling the amount of that ticket to about $2 million and again 34 other tickets worth $1 million. So, we're still trying to figure out exactly how many millionaires we're talking about here. But we do believe there is still only one ticket worth that enormous jackpot.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, first of all, there are other winners as well. We won $24, Brynn. I don't know if you're aware of this. We had a huge pool.

It was just our show and our floor crew. So, we won $24 million (ph), but what I hear Brynn saying is we still got a chance.

CUOMO: Yes. I'm not hearing it but it would nice if it were true. I'll tell you what, though, one thing is for sure -- uncertainty in these matters have huge reverberations. So they need to nail it down. You know, there's not just money at stake but people's --


CUOMO: Get crazy.

Brynn Gingras, you are a good reporter. You will figure this out. Let us know. Next time we'll put you in the pool. You're known to be a little tight with the pockets, though.

GINGRAS: Thank you.

CUOMO: You've got to put up a Lincoln for that. Five bucks a person. All right. Open the purse with the moths out, contribute with risk.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

CUOMO: So, how are the Republicans, OK, how are they dealing with what we're seeing from the president of the United States, that he says what he wants to when he believes it suits his personal interests. Whether it's scripted or unscripted from the teleprompter, it's about what's in his head and what's in his heart. How do they defend it?

A Republican congressman takes up the mantle, next.



[08:20:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I think there's blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides.

When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry.

I hit them with the neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything.

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: There's no question that the messages come into conflict with one another but is this really about a tale of two Trumps, one that's on teleprompter and stays on message, the other that guys off script and often distracts from his own agenda.

So, let's discuss with Republican Congressman Dan Donovan from New York. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees.

It's great to have you here, Congressman.

REP. DAN DONOVAN (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: I wanted to have you come on because not only you're a known and extremely experienced and respected former prosecutor, so you can make a case. But you're known as a straight-up guy. And when it comes to moral issues, you're solid on them. That's not what happened here. The president started off in a place

where the people who were fighting against the white supremacists in his mind were seen as some type of equivalent to the people they were fighting against. Did you agree with that?

DONOVAN: I did not. These hateful people who stormed the University of Virginia and some heinous event occurs where a young woman loses her life. You know, we have free speech. We have freedom of assembly, Chris, but hateful speech and people who believe people of a certain religion should be eliminated from a planet and people who are a different skin color are inferior, that's not what America is about.

CUOMO: So, what do you make of the president playing on these serious fault lines of potential division? They're not things that you play with. I mean, politicians with all due respect and I know you gotten to the --

DONOVAN: I'm a public servant.

CUOMO: All right. OK. I know you say that all the time and I respect the line. But there's certain things you play with and certain things you don't. And the morality seems to be one of those.

You don't pander to people who want an alt-right versus alt-left war. You don't do it because it's wrong even if can be politically efficacious. We're seeing the president pander here.

DONOVAN: Yes. No, but I think you see the president -- I thought the speech on Monday, unified the country.

CUOMO: The Afghanistan.


CUOMO: What we need to do there and why.

DONOVAN: In the beginning of that speech when he spoke about America and how he doesn't want the soldiers that he's a commander in chief of coming home to a divided country where we have hate in our own country. So, I think he really gave a powerful speech and delivered the message he wanted America to hear that evening.

CUOMO: But the next day, he totally erased it. By saying that he was taking the wrong way, this is the media, that we are the cause of the division of in country.

And I used to smile at it. I've known the president a long time. I was like -- I don't smile at it anymore because it's dangerous when he's using it the way he is. These are ugly divisions.

DONOVAN: He has a great distrust for the media, as you know. I suspect --

CUOMO: Except when we say what he likes. Then he loves us and come on all the time.

DONOVAN: I think every once in a while, that's probably a rare occasion, Chris.

He, I think, you know, he plays the audience, he knows the audience. I went to Long Island with him two weeks ago. He spoke about this vicious gang MS-13 that mutilates human beings. There were 17 young people on Long Island who were killed.

And he spoke to an audience of 300 people in law enforcement, and he just spoke off-the-cuff about how when police officers put a suspect in a car, they put their hand on his head and ease him in. He says if you take your hand off of their head, I wouldn't mind.

Next day, everybody is talking about president is promoting police brutality.

CUOMO: He said be nice but don't be too nice, is what he said.

DONOVAN: Right. And he's talking to that audience.

CUOMO: Right, but that's about style.


CUOMO: That's about how you come across as presidential and you're kind of joking about an issue that is so divisive. But even that isn't as bad as playing, well, the Nazis and people who are protesting against, blame on both sides. That is taking it to a place where I don't know how that's constructive for America. Do you?

DONOVAN: No. I don't think it's constructive to America and I think he made his real point on Monday night.

CUOMO: But how real can it be if he contradicts it the next day? And also, this is a serious matter. The politics, though, he's doing it as well. There's a new tweet he just did during our conversation. Don't worry it's not about you.

I requested that Mitch M and Paul R tie the debt ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. bill that just passed for easy approval. They -- we're waiting on the rest of it. So, we can anticipate that the "they" is going to lead to him bashing them both for not doing what he wanted.

[08:25:02] What is your concern about the president going against you and his own?

DONOVAN: Yes. I mean, this is the politics of our governing. The president believes, at least I believe he believes that by putting pressure on the leaders, he'll get some things accomplished. There's times that he invites them over to the White House, sit down and work out what they want to work out.

I think the president is getting frustrated. I mean, he's been in office now for eight months. He had a very ambitious agenda. He walked in the door and they told him he had to do health care before he has to do infras -- income tax reform, because there was tax implications in health care. CUOMO: Use the money from one to fund the other.

DONOVAN: You have to do tax reform before you can do infrastructure because you need the money from tax reform to do infrastructure. And we're eight months into a two-year election cycle and the president hasn't seen any of these accomplishments.

I think that's why you see a lot of movement in his administration and his circle. The president isn't a very patient man and he wants people to perform. And if you're not performing and he has a short time line to achieve his agenda, he's going make some changes.

CUOMO: But his performance winds up mattering also, right? You know that it was a common feeling that during the health care debate, he wasn't as helpful as he should have been because he didn't understand the policy and he wasn't working it to create the deal that he's so great at making.

And he just finished this tweet, and he said: They didn't do it. So now we have a big deal with Dems, holding them up as usual, on debt ceiling approval. Could have been so easy, now a mess.

This is not a realistic expectation. It was never going to be easy. You have never going to pin the debt ceiling to the V.A. bill. That wasn't going to happen.

I mean, you probably -- how would have been with that?

DONOVAN: Well, first of all, we have to raise the debt ceiling because we can't let our country go bankrupt. We have to pay our bills.

CUOMO: That's not what he says. He says shut the government down. Build a wall.

DONOVAN: And I disagree with him. As my good friend used to say if you agree with me 60 percent of the time, vote for me. If you agree with 90 percent of the time, go see a psychiatrist.

So, I don't agree with the president all the time. But I think he loves this nation. He wants us to succeed. I think w got at a slower pace.

And I'm -- Chris, I've been there for two and a half years. Congress goes at a slow pace than I would like to see it go. I think there's a lot of things we could get done. He's willing to work with Democrats. I think he wants to govern and get some of these political stuff out of the way.

CUOMO: What if he puts the flag at sand and says this wall's getting done and I'll shut the government down if you don't? I know he can't shut the government down. I know it's an operation of Congress. This is what the president is saying.

What happens? DONOVAN: Congress, again, as you just said, Congress will determine

what happens. We're going to do the budget. President sent his budget over to Congress. But that's just a list of his priorities.

I sat with a colleague of mine recently who's been there for 13 terms, 26 years. He says he's never seen a presidential budget get passed. Article One of the Constitution gives Congress the ability to do that.

CUOMO: True, but if he calls you up and says, Donovan, you get with me with this wall or I'm going to come back to Staten Island and South Brooklyn and I'm going to crush you where you live. What will you say?

DONOVAN: I don't think the president will do that to me. I voted against the health care bill. The president understood my vote. He understood it wasn't good for the people I represent. He wanted me to vote in a way that represents the people that sent me to Congress.

So, as much of this banter and these stories we hear about this, I haven't seen it. I voted against his health care bill.

CUOMO: Dan Donovan, good luck to you down there getting things done for the people who elected you.

DONOVAN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: You're also welcome here on NEW DAY to talk about what matters.

DONOVAN: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Ok, gentlemen.

Family members of the ten U.S. Navy sailors killed on the USS John McCain in this week's collision are enduring an agonizing wait for word of the fate of their loved ones. We will speak to the mother of one of those sailors, next.