Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Slams Immigrants; Trump a Racist; Trump Cancels Trip; Trump Gets First Presidential Physical; Trump's FISA Tweet Causes Chaos. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired January 12, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president's disparaging and, frankly, racist remarks against immigrants from what he calls shithole countries sending shockwaves throughout the world.

CNN's Farai Sevenzo is in Nairobi in Kenya with reaction there.

Farai, what are you hearing?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing much of what you're hearing, just shock and disbelief that, you know, just in September, President Trump held a luncheon on the edges of the U.N. General Assembly and he met several African leaders and he expressed his desire increase cooperation, especially in the economic field. And for this to come out that what he really thinks about African countries is that it's a shithole place.

And, of course, already "The Star," the newspaper, has gone ahead with a cartoon which shows Africa in the president's mind made up of various locations, variously described at shithole. And, of course, the bloggers have been out on social media. People are saying there are no shithole countries, just shithole leaders. And, of course, they're not confining those to the borders of Africa.

BERMAN: All right, Farai.


BERMAN: Farai Sevenzo, thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for that.

So, this is not the first time that Donald Trump has made rationally charged comments. Here you go.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to have him show his birth certificate. And, can I be honest with you? I hope he can.

They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. But we're building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall

between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings.

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.

We had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago, they call her Pocahontas.

All right, so today the question being asked, is President Trump a racist?

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Charles Blow.

So, Charles, you're laughing at the question itself.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean I don't -- I don't -- it's really hard to even know where to begin with this sort of thing.


BLOW: Because -- I mean, we can start at a basic place, which is that there are very few issues that you could find where Trump hasn't been all over the place. Political issues. This particular issue of hostility toward people who are black and brown is one thing that he's been consistent with his entire life. That means that this is really who he is.

And if you -- and if you think that maybe it's not who he is, you should look for some place where he apologized, repented, asked for absolution. There is not one. And that means that he is -- and, in fact, he doubles down on it.

CAMEROTA: And some -- it's interesting because sometimes, Charles, he says the right thing when he's reading from a script. Haitians, I will be your champion. You will never have a better champion than I. So you can find in the record him occasionally saying the right thing. But it's not -- it doesn't sound as genuine as it does when he speaks off the cuff.

BLOW: I can read anything, right? But it is -- when you are talking, I want to know what you believe. And the pressure of the presidency, you're under a microscopy. And what that does is it reveals who you actually are because there's no place for you to hide, right? And so there are people always in your face. Everything that you're saying is being scrutinized. That means that eventually whatever you believe --

CAMEROTA: You reveal yourself.

BLOW: You will -- you will reveal it. And so he's simply revealing that. I think the bigger question that we have to ask are basically -- are

really the real test now is to move away from just looking at him to looking at all the people who are defending and supporting him.

BERMAN: Or being silent.

BLOW: Or being silent. You cannot constantly, you know, come out in the moment and say, oh, he said a horrible thing, I denounce it, and then go to the White House when you pass that -- you know, you're giving away the store (ph) with a tax bill and say, he is the best person ever and he's the best president ever and we love him and he's just leading us in the right way. There is no space in there for you to do that. And that means that you are basically participating in the bigotry. You are part of it.

I think people have the misconception that you can take the policies without the poison. And you cannot.

CAMEROTA: Yes, listen, that's -- that's what they're trying to do.

BLOW: You cannot.

CAMEROTA: We've heard (ph) it a million times from the Republicans whom we interview here, which is, the policies are so important, the policies are what their voters voted for and wanted them to represent in Washington. So they're going to just stick with the policies and they're going to try to put this in a box and they're going to try to compartmentalize the stuff that he's saying because the policies are worth it. Why isn't that a good point?

[06:35:08] BLOW: There is no -- there's no difference between what I believe, what I say, and what I do, right? There is -- there is no way to separate what Trump believes on a basic level from what he wants to do. That meeting in which he said this was a meeting about policy. There is no way to separate the racism that's come out of his mouth from his intention with the policy. So I -- you know, this -- I think if you don't want a -- I -- I get it. I get the desire to say, I've been a lifelong Republican. This is a Republican president. I would like to be able to agree with the Republican principles. But if --

CAMEROTA: Well, it's that, but it's also, we want tax reform. We've always wanted it. And, guess what, we're getting it. We want immigration reform. We've always wanted it. And maybe we're going to be able to manage this so we get it. It's those things.

BLOW: Right. But I would -- I would submit that imbedded in a lot of the immigration language, even apart from Trump, has a racially skewed kind of sensibility to it.

BERMAN: There's another element of this, which isn't just people saying, oh, we're going to accept it because we like other things. There are people who are making the case, including the White House, that the president's base will accept it because they like it, because they agree with it.

BLOW: Exactly. BERMAN: I want you to listen to the president's, you know, official cable network, you know, Fox, talk about this last night.


JESSE WATERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: If it's true, this is how the forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar. This is how Trump relates to people. If you're at a bar and you're in Wisconsin and you're thinking they're bringing in a bunch of Haiti people or El Salvadorians or people from Niger, this is how some people talk. Is it graceful? No. Is it polite or delicate? Absolutely not. Is it a little offensive? Of course it is. But, you know what, this doesn't move the needle at all. This is who Trump is. He doesn't care. He shoots from the hip. And if he offends some people, fine. There's so many more offensive things that are happening in this world.


BERMAN: Charles?

BLOW: That's an indictment. That is an indictment of the Trump base, right? That they're basically saying, this is racist and this is how we talk and this is perfectly OK.

CAMEROTA: And if the president talks like a drunk racist at a bar, then we get it.

BLOW: He's one of us. That is the extraordinary thing. We -- they keep -- like, even -- on television, in writing, on the newspapers, we keep trying to go out and say, we need to understand these Trump voters. I actually think I understand them.

CAMEROTA: No, Charles, I don't because you can't say that that's how they feel.

Jesse Waters is indicting them. That's not fair. That's not how they feel, actually.

BLOW: The moment.

CAMEROTA: I talk to them all the time.

BLOW: Let me --

CAMEROTA: I never hear them say what the president said in the Oval Office. They don't say racist thing like that.

BLOW: The mistake you're thinking is that you believe that while -- that bias and white supremacy has to be articulated to be true. And I'm telling you that the moment that you let someone do these things and stay -- I know it before I go to the ballot and I am still going to vote for that person. I know it before they call me with the poll and I'm still going to say, I support what he does. That means that you have co-signed it. You have -- there isn't -- just because you do not articulate your biases does not mean that you (INAUDIBLE). CAMEROTA: I hear you. I understand. You're saying it's a tacit approval. I get it. But I'm also saying that you can't paint with a broad brush stroke about how they feel. You cannot put them all into a basket of deplorables. That's where Hillary Clinton went wrong and it -- it isn't right.

BLOW: I'm not Hillary Clinton. And I'm telling you right now, you're putting yourself in a basket of deplorables if you say, after he says the things that he has said and done, not only during his campaign, during his presidency his entire life, if you continue to say that I approve of his behavior, which is -- these are all the questions they ask in these polls. I approve his behavior. I approve his leadership. If you continue to say that, you are putting yourself in the basket of deplorables.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And fewer and fewer people are saying that they've --

BLOW: And I'm just saying that the ones who do, and that's what I'm considering the base, the people who on those polls say that they approve of that behavior, you are putting yourself into that basket. This has got nothing to do with me. I'm not doing that. You are telling me -- I read the data. I read what he says. I read what people -- how people respond. I listen to the people on Fox News. They are doing that. It has nothing to do with me.

CAMEROTA: No, I hear it, that Jesse Waters is certainly do that -- doing that for sure.

BERMAN: He shows. He shows. Jesse Waters shows. You know, he's OK with it.

CAMEROTA: For sure. You heard him. Yes. That's fine. You know, he's -- I mean there's no debating that.

Charles, always great to get your perspective.

BLOW: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for being here.

President Trump canceling his visit to London next month because he says it was because of his bad embassy deal made by President Obama. But it doesn't make sense. It doesn't pass the fact test. We'll talk about it, next.


[06:42:45] BERMAN: All right, we have a new picture we want to show you just in from London right now. Let's put that up. Well, behind that screen we saw moments ago, I know --

CAMEROTA: Staging.

BERMAN: There he is. That is President Donald Trump in London. Of course, it's not the real president Donald Trump because he will not be going there. He has pulled out of a planned visit to London right now.

London's mayor is firing back at the president for canceling his visit to the U.K. next month. The president was supposed to cut the ribbon at the new U.S. embassy, but the president now says, quote, not a big fan of the Obama administration having sold perhaps the best located (ph) and finest embassy in London for peanuts, only to build a new one in an off location for $1.12 billion. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon. No!

There's a lot wrong with that statement. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in London with the facts.

Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The wax works (ph) version of Donald Trump behind me there, possibly brought in by the museum as part of a (INAUDIBLE) to do a lot of this sort of thing. Well, that really gives you an idea of exactly how this is being treated by many Londoners.

Let's deal with the facts, first of all. It wasn't the Obama administration that moved the embassy from Mayfair, a very nice part of central London to here. Batasi (ph) also a very nice part of south London. It was the Bush administration, about a decade ago, off citing security reasons.

Is it a big financial burden for the U.S. taxpayer? Pretty much unclear. The State Department said the sale of the old building would fund this building behind me. That is entirely feasible, frankly, because the Qatari Sovern Wealth Fund that purchased the old emissary are now turning it into a luxury hotel. SO that's a billion pound project, $1.3 billion or so. Probably enough to pay for the partially opened building behind me here.

Really, though, let's get to the heart of this. He wasn't actually necessarily formally invited yet. There was a lose invitation held out by British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier last year, but no firm date. February is the date he chose to preemptively strike down and, if you look at the reaction, you get a real idea, frankly, of the unpopularity he feared. The mayor of London saying there probably would have been mass peaceful protests in the event he turned up and saying that his cancellation is frankly him finally getting the message.

[06:45:00] So no love lost really here amongst most Londoners. They'll be seeing this Wax Work version of the president here. But also I think some surprised, and Londoners too, that this is what occupied the most powerful man in the world's mind in the early hours of this morning.


CAMEROTA: Nick, sometimes those wax figures don't look as life like as that one. That was quite a reveal there in London. Thank you very much for the reporting.

So, Donald Trump is getting a physical today.

BERMAN: The real Donald Trump. Not the wax -- not the wax Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: The real Donald Trump. Not the wax. It would not go well, the wax figure.


CAMEROTA: What will this exam reveal about his health? That's next.


CAMEROTA: Today, President Trump gets his first official physical since becoming president. It will be conducted by the physician to the president rather than his personal doctor. And the White House says it will release the results. The president predicts it will go very well.


QUESTION: How do you think the physical will go?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's going to go very well. I'll be very surprised if it doesn't. It better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy.


CAMEROTA: CNN chief medial correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

What might we learn, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we know a few things about his health already and, you know, just the basics, his height, his weight. He takes certain medications, including a medication to lower his cholesterol. So that number you see there of his cholesterol, that's based on his -- a medication that he's taking. He takes Propecia for hair loss, a low dose aspirin. We know sort of the basics.

We also know, you know, that he's had a lifestyle that consists of eating lots of fast food. He's not getting much exercise. Lots of stress. The question then becomes, what's the impact of that sort of lifestyle in this first year of the presidency and all the stressors of the presidency on his physical health now?

So they'll -- it's a pretty detailed exam. They check his heart, his lungs. Those are the big concerns, obviously, for someone of his age. Any risk factors for stroke. Any applicable cancer screenings at this point. Typically he gets asked about anxiety, about stress, about depression, just as a standard with a primary physical exam like this. So those are the sorts of things we'll get.

As you know, as we've said, this is not a mandatory exam and there is no requirement that any of his results be released or that they all be released. So we'll have to see what we actually find out afterward, guys.

BERMAN: We will only find out what they want us to find out.

GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: It will be disclosed the way that they want it to be disclosed. And a lot of the questions leading into this, Sanjay, have been, you talked about anxiety questions. There are, you know, mental health. How complete of a mental health exam with this be or has it been in the past?

[06:50:11] GUPTA: Well, it -- what the White House has telegraphed is that there's really not going to be a mental health exam for President Trump. And to be fair, at least over the last 16 years that I've been covering these sorts of issues, it's typically not a big part of the exam if present at all. Candidate at the time, McCain, I reviewed all of his medical records. That was back in 2008. And he had quite a bit of mental health exams for his own personal medical records. But typically for presidents, it's not usually part of it. There are mental health exams that can be done, including even a quick -- what's called a mini mental status exam, that's just like a 10-minute exam, to a much more detailed neuro psychiatric exam, which could even find some of the early signs of things like dementia, which can be very difficult to diagnose.

But, again, we're hearing that he's not having that and if he did we probably wouldn't hear the results.

BERMAN: Safe bet. Sanjay Gupta for us. Thank you very much, doctor.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: The House votes to renew the FISA surveillance program despite confusion prompted by the president's confusion. He condemned the bill, then supported it, only after told he supported it by Paul Ryan. We'll discuss, next.


[06:55:02] BERMAN: So a bill supporting a surveillance programs passes on Capitol Hill, but not before the president, in the form of a tweet, triggers chaos in Washington. He cast condemnation on the FISA bill and contradicted his own administration which publically said they supported this bill.

I want to bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Phillip Mudd.

This bill passed, Phil, only after --


BERMAN: Only after, you know, President Trump was told by Paul Ryan that he supported it. Paul Ryan had to explain to the president why, you know, President Trump supported it right now. As someone who's been on the front lines of this --

MUDD: Yes.

BERMAN: And it's controversial. I'm not suggesting that FISA, you know, and surveillance aren't controversial. Why is 702 -- Section 702, the part that was extended yesterday, why is it important to you?

MUDD: It's not important, it's critical in the world I live in. Pretty simple proposition here. We're not talking about surveilling American citizens. Let's be clear. And we're not talking about spying in America. We're talking about two criteria to collect information.

If you're a foreigner, for example, you're an al Qaeda member in Yemen and you're operating overseas, those two characteristics, someone we think is a foreigner, someone operating overseas, we can go collect against you without going to a court. We can collect against you without giving you the same rights a citizen might have. That's as simple as I can make it.

People are confusing this saying this is collection against Americans. This is Edward Snowden. This is about collection overseas against foreigners.

One more quick point on Trump's comments about Trump Tower. This is not about foreigners in the United States. So if you're surveilling the Russian ambassador here, he's in the U.S., you can't use 702. So let's not confuse apples and oranges here.

CAMEROTA: So why do you think the president was confused?

MUDD: He wasn't confused. He was ignorant. The White House issued a statement that said we support this. That is a written statement from earlier in January. It's a standard practice to say there's legislation on The Hill that we support.

I'm not sure the president was aware of that. So don't tell me he was confused between apples and oranges. I don't think he knew -- forget about Paul Ryan. I don't think he knew that the White House -- his White House had issued a statement saying we support it.

CAMEROTA: He doesn't know his own policies?

MUDD: Correct. Yes. Well, do you want me to confuse it? That's about it.

CAMEROTA: That's it.

MUDD: Yes.

CAMEROTA: That's as plain spoken as you can ever be. That is --

MUDD: Yes, clear as mud.

BERMAN: So -- so -- clear as mud.

On the subject of ignorance, Phil --

MUDD: Yes. BERMAN: Because you introduced that word. You had a somewhat visceral reaction to the president calling Haiti, El Salvador, every nation in Africa shithole countries and noting that he would like more people from Norway to come to the U.S. You had a visceral reaction.

MUDD: No, I didn't react to what he called a country. I reacted to him saying a white person from a country coming here is OK and a black person coming isn't OK. OK, let's be clear, this is not economics and this is not countries. This is about saying whites are OK, blacks are not.

I grew up in a household where we were told we were waps (ph) and we were marcel (ph) eaters. I grew up in a household where my best friend's mom couldn't play with the kid across the street because they were kikes (ph). And you want to tell me, after this country learned that a white person could own a black person in the 19th century, that Chinese people 110 years ago were slant eyes, that people in World War II who were Japanese immigrants to this country deserve to be in detention camps. And, once again, we've got to learn that a white person isn't better than a black person?

How many times do we learn the lesson? How many times did we learn the lesson? That this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It's not the land of the bigots.

I've had it with this. We have shadowy conversations in this country about racism. This is about race. It's not about countries. It's not about shitholes. And it's not about Norway and Haiti. It's about a white man can come here and a black man can't. That's it.

Sorry, I got to have a -- I need a little bit of a coffee break now. I apologize.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, Phil, it's an emotional topic.

MUDD: It is. But, remember, we're all shitholers. I come -- I'm a represent of a country that came from countries that were once viewed as dirty. The Irish and the Italians that I come from were told in the 19th century, you're dirty. You're not from the puritan stock that built this country. We told people until the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s, you're dirty. We learn this again and again. But that's who we are. We're dirty.

BERMAN: And the thing -- the thing that gets to me is you, a grown man, allegedly, if this is your reaction to this, what happens if you're a kid. If you're a kid of Haitian descent in this country right now, or if you're a kid who looks like someone of Haitian descent in this country right now --

CAMEROTA: Or if you're a white kid, why don't you want African kids to come here?

BERMAN: What are you supposed to think about yourself?

CAMEROTA: I mean what -- what's the lesson for any kid? MUDD: The lesson I think -- I mean I'm a world -- the world's leading

optimist. The lesson is great. The overwhelming reaction in this country is to say, if you're a black brother or a brown brother or a yellow brother, a Native American brother or a white brother, we all came from the same place and we are all shitholers arm in arm. That's who we are.

CAMEROTA: It's not -- listen, that's beautiful, but we haven't heard that from the leaders in Congress.

MUDD: Well, I mean, you -- you've seen their approval rating lately? They're at, what, 10, 15 percent. You see why the American people don't trust them. They don't speak the truth to us. I'd like to hear them speak, but the American people don't trust them. I don't view them as a barometer for American views.

BERMAN: Phil Mudd from the state of -- well, I'm not going to say it out loud. Thanks very much for being with us.

MUDD: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for sharing all that, Phil.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

[07:00:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to bring value to the United States of America and you say no because they're from a shithole because of the color of their skin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole point is it should be on a merit based system. This is getting twisted around.