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Trump To End Protected Status For 200,000 Salvadorians; Wolff: 100 Percent Of People Around Trump Believe He's Unfit For Office; Former U.S. Ambassador To U.N. On Trump's International Policies; Kansas Lawmaker Apologizes For Remarks On Blacks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You'll be good.

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Let me try -- let me try to explain. Look, my heart breaks for people.

I think a lot of people around the globe want to be in America and many of them want to be Americans. And I think it's because we have -- we have a great country. And I understand that there's probably more economic opportunity and the ability to live your life as you want.

But that being said, is that there has to be a legal system. So, if we do this --


SCHLAPP: -- under TPS where people can flow into this country -- and I agree, it's an act of compassion and I'm OK with people coming here temporarily.

But, Chris, that's going to stop if always coming here temporarily results in back-door staying here permanently because we pull on the heartstrings because these people get in front of the line of other people who are applying through the process from these very same countries and trying to come here --

CUOMO: Right, I hear you.

SCHLAPP: -- through a legal route. Why do those people always --

CUOMO: I hear you. I hear you.

SCHLAPP: -- get pushed back?

CUOMO: I hear you, but there is a legit accommodation that doesn't mean having to leverage their livelihoods. That's all I'm saying.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But listen, I actually think that Donald Trump has this -- is in a unique position. He has got absolute support from his base.

CUOMO: Right. NAVARRO: His base tends to be the ones that are anti-immigrant. He has got much more maneuverability than an Obama did, than a George W. Bush did.

He could actually get something accomplished that they tried to do and they failed at. This could be a huge accomplishment for him because he has got the support of that base. They give him a lot of wiggle room. He can come up with the art of a deal.

And I think that, you know, at this point you've got to think of these TPS people as part of the equation.

CUOMO: Sure.

NAVARRO: If you're going to take away the lottery visa maybe, you know, it's almost the same amount of people that are the Haitian TPS. Give them some of the TPS folks. It is a smarter way to do immigration to, you know, pick people who are already American and have already proved themselves --


NAVARRO: -- to be part of this country.

CUOMO: All right.

NAVARRO: I just think you've got to think outside the box.


CUOMO: I got you. We're out of time, though, guys. Look, I appreciate this conversation.

We'll keep going as we see what the president does and how Congress responds. I'll certainly have you back here. Ideas are always welcomed.

Matt, Ana, thank you.

SCHLAPP: Thank you.

CUOMO: A quick programming note. Tonight, we're going to go back to primetime for a few weeks, part of CNN's new year special programming, 9:00 p.m. eastern.

Tonight, we've got former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and here's why. He knows the president better than most people who are in that White House right now. He's known him for a long time.

How does he justify what's being said about the president? How does he justify these decisions that we were just talking about now?

A good inside voice. We'll test the position -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: That sounds so intriguing I might even stay up late for it.


CAMEROTA: Yes, we'll see.

Meanwhile, author Michael Wolff says 100 percent of the White House staffers whom he spoke to think the president is unfit for office.

The ghostwriter for "The Art of the Deal" spent a lot of time with Donald Trump. What does he think about that? He's next.


[07:36:43] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY: INSIDE THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE": It is to everybody who speaks to him. If you spoke to the president, if you interviewed the president, you would -- you would call me up and say oh, my God.


CAMEROTA: That was Michael Wolff, the author of "Fire and Fury," fueling questions about President Trump's mental fitness.

Wolff claims that 100 percent of the people around the president whom he spoke to believe Mr. Trump is unfit for office.

Joining us now is Tony Schwartz. He was the ghostwriter behind the Trump autobiography, "The Art of the Deal." Good morning, Tony.


CAMEROTA: OK. Great to have you because you spent a lot of time shadowing and hanging around with Donald Trump while you were ghostwriting his book, but that was in 1987 which, I hate to say, was a long time ago.

So, when you read Michael Wolff's book, what is new to you? What surprised you?

SCHWARTZ: Well, he has clearly deteriorated.

Most of the general things that Wolff observes are things that I observed and that I talked about when I spoke to "The New Yorker" in July of 2016. The utter inability to pay attention for any long period of time, the garbled syntax when he tries to speak, the utter and complete self-absorption.

All of these things have always been true of Trump. What's happened is that he's deteriorated. He doesn't think even as well as he once did and I certainly share, Alisyn, the belief that Trump is the person Wolff describes in as being in that book.

And I don't know about 100 percent unless he didn't talk to some of the people who are his -- you know, I don't believe Sarah Huckabee thinks that he's what Wolff said he was.

But I believe that any reasonable person spending at least 15 minutes with Donald Trump knows that this is a deeply, deeply disturbed man.

CAMEROTA: So, Tony, you see, if I understand you correctly, some of the quirks, for lack of a better word, becoming more pronounced since you spent time with him.

So, let's just do a lightning round of some of the headlines from Michael Wolff's book because I want to get you to weigh in on them.

Number one, did the president watch between four and eight hours of television? I mean, this has been other reporting from "The New York Times" as well. When you spent time with him was the president watching a lot of T.V. every day?

SCHWARTZ: He was, Alisyn. He watched in the early morning and he watched from the time he went back to his apartment in the evening.

But what he did during the day, I can say because I was there for it for months and months at a time, is he worked. He doesn't appear to do so much of that anymore and I don't know the reason. But it's clear that he's either lazy or incapable of working now and that wasn't as true before.

CAMEROTA: OK, I want to ask you about that because that has been attention-grabbing. I don't know of anyone who would call Donald Trump lazy. In my experience with him, he could spin a lot of plates at once. He was a multitasker and he was a hard worker.

So, the reports that he -- and this is stuff that is from Axios. This isn't even from Michael Wolff's book but I want to get your comment on it -- that he is showing up in the Oval Office later and later, sometimes as late as 11:00 a.m.

[07:40:11] That's news to you?

SCHWARTZ: Absolutely, news to me and I suspect that the reason, as you suggest, is not that he's lazy. It's that he is so disturbed about what's going on and so obsessed with watching it on T.V., and so much more singularly self-absorbed than he's ever been -- and that's saying a lot to be more -- that he feels compelled to stay in front of that T.V.

And he sure as heck doesn't have an interest in policy, so the things that would go on in the office -- in the Oval Office are not things he actually wants to spend much time doing.

CAMEROTA: Michael Wolff has reported -- and I want to get your thoughts on this -- the president seems to fixate on things.

In fact, according to Michael Wolff, when he talked to people around him the president tells the same stories over and over. And maybe he always did that but now, there's seems to be a condensed time. If he used to tell the same stories in half an hour, now Michael Wolff claims it's in 10 minutes. Did you see that practice?

SCHWARTZ: Well, just to be fair, Donald Trump has only told one story and that story has been the same throughout his life. I'm the greatest, I'm the best. Now, it's advanced to I'm a genius -- a stable genius. But it's always been the same story.

I do believe that he's become more repetitive. I'm one of the people who went back and watched a lot of the interviews that he did 20 and 30 years ago and they are dramatically different. They're scarily different.

He is more articulate. I wouldn't call him a, you know, a literary figure but he's vastly more articulate, he's less repetitive. So, I tend to believe that general conclusion.

CAMEROTA: When you spent time with him in 1987, did you ever have any questions about his mental stability?

SCHWARTZ: You know, he was not under any kind of intense stress and this whole phrase, mental stability, is such a tough one.

Did I think he was a deeply narcissistic guy, yes? I mean, most of the diagnoses you could with Donald Trump, any layperson can do.

Do I think he was mentally unstable then? Yes, I do. In other words, had he been subjected to intense stress, do I think he would have behaved in ways that are scary? I do think that.

At that time, it simply wasn't the case. Now that he's president and the pressure is ratcheting up not only in terms of just being president but all the controversy and pressure around him, I think it does contribute to his instability and that instability is significant --


SCHWARTZ: -- and frightening.

CAMEROTA: Tony Schwartz, great to get your perspective because you spent a lot of time with the president and it's interesting to hear your reflections from 1987.

Thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris --

CUOMO: All right, a big headshaker for you this morning. Here's what happened.

A Kansas state lawmaker is now apologizing because of a really just wildly wrong comment that he made during a debate about race and marijuana. What he said -- what he seemed to really believe that had people stunned, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:47:13] CUOMO: All right.

So, there is a new documentary coming out January 18th and 19th called "THE FINAL YEAR," and it's about the final year of the Obama administration from a foreign policy perspective. You have all these players in there.

One of them is Samantha Power. You'll remember her. She was the now- former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

So, we talked to her about what this documentary was about but, specifically, was does she believe that the achievements that the Trump administration are heralding right now are a function of proof that Obama was weak and Trump is strong.

Here's her response and what she says are her concerns from all of our future.


SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I don't think we should all express delight in having pulled back from the brink of the potential nuclear war. I don't think that that's where the bar should lie.

And the fact that we have walked away from the international agreements that we forged isn't just bad for the last administration.

People say to me all the time you must be so sad about your legacy and all the work you guys did. A legacy? I'm sad for the international order and for the risk to peace and the welfare of people around the world.

And I think the fact that the rest of the world is moving on, that China's trying to forge a free trade agreement, where we didn't, create a huge regional trade block would be a major threat to our interests. The fact that the Europeans have basically said to us you may want to walk away from the Iran deal but the Iranian government is keeping to the Iran deal, so we're sticking with it.

These are real problems for our ability when we face threats that are not of our own making. Most of the crises that this administration has faced are of their own making. Wait until the real threat comes.

And in terms of Korea, I think it is very important that there's a dialogue between North and South Korea but I don't think that that's something that we have encouraged. That's something the Republic of Korea has done, fearful that the language that the president has been using is going to lead us down a very reckless and dangerous path.

CUOMO: How would you describe the Trump foreign policy strategy or ideology, to date?

POWER: I would have no ability to tell you what that foreign policy or strategy is.

I know that the secretary of state wants to cut the State Department's budget and staff. To me, that's not a foreign policy, that's bookkeeping.

And the president wanted to go after ISIS again. I think that's something very important that we have achieved.

But ISIS is a symptom, as well, of major governments' challenges and I'm not seeing the diplomacy that you need in order to create a kind of inclusive Iraq that is going to mean -- or Syria, for that matter -- that is going to mean that the people who have gravitated toward ISIS feel that they have a place in a new society.

But I couldn't tell you what they are trying to achieve.

CUOMO: Do you think or do you wish that the Obama administration had done more to sound the alarm about Russian interference during the election?

POWER: Well, I think given how things turned out we all ask ourselves, you know, what more could we have done, for sure.

[07:50:02] CUOMO: Plenty. Could have done a lot more than was done. I get the decision that was made. You didn't want to seem like you were interfering.

And to be clear, you weren't the one making these decisions, but as part of that team. We get what the calculus was.

In retrospect, do you wish more had been done?

POWER: I have a hard time believing that the Republicans who were discouraging us from jumping up and as on -- at a political level as succinct (ph) from the Intelligence Community jumping up and down, which we -- which they did -- that those Republicans would have embraced that message and said oh, my gosh, look.

Listen to President Obama. He said that President Putin is trying to interfere in our election. Here's all the evidence President Obama has laid out showing Russian interference.

You really think, Chris, that senior Republicans would have said oh, he has a point, let's band together? There's nothing --

CUOMO: But were they saying don't?

POWER: Well, look at the investigations underway right now. I don't think we've seen evidence of a rally around the flag effect around election interference, and nothing saddens me more than that because whoever you want to vote for, the one thing we should all be able to agree on is that Americans should get to choose.

CUOMO: What do you make of these questions about President Trump's fitness?

POWER: Certainly, just on the basis of my Twitter feed, they seem like worthy questions. I'm talking the whole --

CUOMO: You think it's really about fitness or health, or do you think it's about behavior?

POWER: I don't have insight into the president any more than you do.

CUOMO: The idea of what you want people to get from the final year -- this documentary will be in theaters January 19th, 2018, so upcoming. What will people take from it, or should you?

POWER: Well, I really hope people see this film and not as a period piece or an exercise -- a trip down memory lane to make themselves feel better about their day-to-day. It's -- I don't -- I hope it's not just a time warp.

It's a film -- it's the first documentary, I think, that opens up government and actually shows behind the scenes how decisions are made, the arguments, the heartbreak sometimes, the mistakes, as well as the successes.

And, you know, at a time when people despair about our institutions and have less faith, not more faith in government, I think what it shows is yes, diplomacy and our efforts to make peace and rights or whatever around the world.

But it mainly just shows caring about the enterprise. Having a set of objectives. Recognizing that the interests of the American people are linked to those of people abroad.

And giving everything, as John Kerry does in one of the scenes in the film. He can barely walk up the stairs, you know. He has just been -- you know, done 19 hours of meetings and is going from Yemen to Libya to Syria, you know, trying to make things better.

Does the film show us succeeding in Syria? It does not. But I think that effort, having that objective, mobilizing the countries of the world around American leadership in pursuit of a more humane, more just, and more stable world, that's the right objective.

CUOMO: Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Always appreciate your perspective. You're always welcome on the show.

POWER: Thank you. Good to be here.


CUOMO: Make sure to catch the documentary "THE FINAL YEAR" January 19th.

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

CAMEROTA: Or not, right now.

CUOMO: Who was I talking to? CAMEROTA: What were you doing there?

CUOMO: I love that line so much I say it when it means nothing.

CAMEROTA: You say it at home.

CUOMO: I do --

CAMEROTA: I think so.

CUOMO: -- and people ignore me or tell me to go away. Go take a shower.

CAMEROTA: Before dinner.

CUOMO: All right. So, we're going to take a break.

When we come back -- sometimes we just need to play you something and let you see it, and see that this is an elected lawmaker in Kansas who was making an argument about why he's against marijuana legalization. There are plenty of reasons to be against it and for it, but his reason will pop your eyes open.


[07:58:01] CUOMO: Something you're not hearing a lot about. Everybody's talking about the Dreamers but did you know that the Trump administration just told more than 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador who fled twin earthquakes in 2001 that they must go.

The decision to cancel their temporary resident permits comes with an 18-month grace period in order to give them to time to apply for other forms of immigration relief or leave the U.S.

Critics say El Salvador isn't ready for the influx from the U.S., which is why the temporary status has been extended. The serious issues there -- these are now families with homes, kids, and jobs.

CAMEROTA: President Trump's Health and Human Services nominee, former pharmaceutical insider Alex Azar, heads to Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are expected to grill him on rising drug prices and the future of Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans are expected to give their unanimous support to Azar.

CUOMO: All right, you ready for this?

This Kansas state lawmaker was in this town meeting arguing about whether or not to legalize marijuana, OK, and one of his reasons for being against the legalization was this. Listen carefully -- the tape's not great.


REP. STEVE ALFORD (R), KANSAS: What you really need to do is go back in the thirties when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States, what was the reason they did that? One of the reasons why, and I hate to say it, is that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst on those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics, and that.


CUOMO: That is Republican State Rep. Steve Alford in a public meeting. And yes, he just said African-Americans had the worst response to marijuana as a function of their character and makeup.

He then issued a statement saying he was wrong -- duh -- and sincerely apologized to anyone he hurt.

Why do we play this?