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Discussion Around Trump's Haiti Remarks. Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 12, 2018 - 7:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Jason, Anna, hang on one second, hang on one second Anna, the president just --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I don't want them, I don't say that you look like a buffoon trying to make sense of what this man is saying. This is about Donald Trump being a racist. I don't care what you say. This is about the hate in the African --

BERMAN: Let's -- you should give him some credit. Anna, hang on, the president put out a statement. The president just put out a statement.

NAVARRO: (inaudible) I'll give him credit.

BERMAN: The president just put out a statement and I would like to add that to this conversation right now. The president says, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made, a big step back for DACA." Well, now he's adding something that if not true to the discussion right now.

The people at that meeting confirmed to CNN as well as every major news organization that he said exactly those words. The White House did not deny that he used those words last night. So now this morning, he's trying to suggest that he didn't say them, Jason.

JASON MILLER, AMERICAN COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Well, I obviously wasn't inside the meeting, so I don't know exactly what was said, but I did talk to folks in the White House last night who said very clearly that this was a conversation about merit-based immigration reform.

The president pushed back very strongly and so the plan they'd brought to him was ridiculous and look, if they're going to go and try to push for special carve outs, like I said, whether it's for the U.K. or whether it's for Haiti, or any other country, that's not going to be a plan that's acceptable to the president.


NAVARRO: Listen, at this point, the only thing I have to say is that today ironically is the anniversary, the 8th year anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti where over 700,000 Haitians died and I hope that we can reflect on that today as a country.

Have a moment of silence and send that country is today the poorest country in the western hemisphere and has spent to some of the best Americans we have here making all sorts of sacrifices and working hard to contribute to the society, let's give them a thought and some prayers today.

BERMAN: Jason, what about compassion, right? What about compassion about the people from Haiti who came to the United States?

It's also been reported that the president said in meetings that they all have AIDS. As far as the people from Africa go, The New York Times reported that he said people from Nigeria should go back to their huts. How do you explain that away?

MILLER: Well, John, you bring up an important point about compassion because the U.S. is the most compassionate country on -- in the history of the world.

BERMAN: Has been -- it has been historically.

MILLER: And it still is and we still bring in tens of thousands of folks a year from countries who are going through tragedies or distressed countries to try to help people out. But, again, it's -- when they say TPS, the T stands for temporary.

We're not bringing folks in and saying that we're giving you automatic citizenship or you're going to be here permanently. There's a process, if folks want to apply to be a citizen of the United States, there's a process for that. We can't just go and give citizenship to everyone in the world who wants it.

Again, everyone in the world wants to come here because the U.S. is so great. We have big hearts, we're a very compassionate society but we can only do so much, we can only have so much.

BERMAN: We have been. We have been. Anna, I want to ask this to you because I've been asking all morning, Mitch McConnell, Speaker Ryan, where are you on this?

They have been silent on the president's comments. Do they need to make a statement? And the lack of a statement. Does that mean they approve of what the president says? Does that mean that the leadership of the Republican Party stands by the sentiment expressed by the president?

NAVARRO: Look, there's been a lot of Republicans, a lot of Republicans in Congress. I've read the tweets and I've read the statements who have spoken out about this.

But it is important for the leadership to say that this is not what they represent, that this is not what they stand by, that this is not what is acceptable in America. It is important for the Republican leaders to remember especially this weekend as we are going into Martin Luther King Weekend that we are the party of Lincoln, that we are a party that was built to be inclusive, that was built to be on equality, that was built on fighting for people's rights.

And that this type of racism, that this type of bigotry will not go unanswered by Republican leadership. Yes, they have a duty and it is a pain in the neck, it is a pain in the neck for leaders, republican leaders to have to spend their time responding to Donald Trump, but it is not an option. Silence is complicity, they cannot remain silent in the face of such racism and such bigotry tearing America apart today.

BERMAN: Jason, so --

MILLER: And where Anna and I agree is that the Republican Party is the party of inclusiveness, that we are the compassionate party and, again, that's why I think President Trump and the Republicans Congress have the ability to get a deal done to help the dreamers, to get something done on comprehensive immigration reform when Democrats --

BERMAN: And Jason -- but Jason, but Jason, but Jason, you've been talking about immigration reform, it's part of the discussion but it's not the whole discussion.

MILLER: That was the entire -- that was the entire discussion.

BERMAN: No. No. That's why they were in the room, that's why they were in the room and then the president said what he said, OK? So, broader context of merit-based--

MILLER: He called these countries shitholes --

NAVARRO: Can I tell you something?

BERMAN: Hang on -- go ahead Anna.

NAVARRO: If this is about immigration reform, then I would say to Donald J Racist, put up or shut up. Exert some leadership, say exactly what you want, go read up on the policy issues and come up with a plan. Exert leadership on Congress and get a plan signed and delivered. We've got a deadline ticking and we've got kids whose lives are in -


BERMAN: Hang on, hang on. My question -- Anna, hang on, hang on, hang on. Anna, wait.

NAVARRO: Because of his comments, this is now in danger.

BERMAN: Anna, my question to Jason here is, if the president said the people of Haiti all have AIDS, if the president said the people of Nigeria should go back to --

MILLER: The White House denied that.

BERMAN: Are those racist comments? Are those -- if anyone said it, would those be racist comments?

MILLER: Absolutely -- you're -- that's a false binary choice you're trying to present to me John, because the White House said that those comments weren't made, there's no one --

BERMAN: The president just said -- the president just said that he didn't call those countries shithole countries after the people in those meetings have told every media organization that he did and the White House didn't deny it. Just because --

MILLER: He said that the language that's been represented wasn't accurate to what was in the meeting yesterday. Again, wasn't in the meeting yesterday.

BERMAN: It seems to me what you don't want to say is those comments if he said them were racist.

MILLER: John, but then --

BERMAN: Racist things.

MILLER: I could turn around and throw several things at you that are completely irrelevant to this conversation and try to get you to say, "Hey John Berman, will you say the following is terrible."

But that's irrelevant because they weren't said. And so you're trying to bait me and put me in a corner and trying to say that the president is something that he's not. I mean, I had the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours with the president last year in 2016 traveling around.

And what I saw is a president who wants to represent all Americans. I saw the event that he did in Little Haiti, saw the events that he did in inner city and whether it be in Cleveland when I campaigned with him and he was talking about school choice and infrastructure and all these great things. And you know what, and there's a reason like he did two points better with African-Americans and three points better with Hispanics than Mitt Romney did four years earlier, because there's a message of hope and optimism and you know who's going to ben -- who's benefiting the most right now in this country, right now it's the unemployment rate is going down the most.

BERMAN: But Jason, we're moving from the discussion right now, you said the president wants to represent all American. Apparently not as of today, Americans are people in America who come from Haiti because the president reportedly said yesterday that people from Haiti, get them out. Jason --

MILLER: I mean John, I mean this is -- John, this isn't a global village. I mean, is that what you're trying to state here but just -- because it's --

BERMAN: Well, I'm not -- I'm just saying the president said the people from Haiti, get them out. The president said that yesterday in the meeting, those were his sentiments. You said he wanted to represent everybody. I was just clarifying that he seems to have some line there that doesn't include that --

MILLER: Absolutely wants to represent all Americans and you know what, if we want to keep them America the absolute best place on the planet, we have to reform our immigration system. We're see -- look at what he's doing with DACA and trying to come up with some kind of deal and some kind of --

BERMAN: Well actually Jason, we have to go because Alisyn has an interview right now. But we don't know what he wants to do with DACA, we completely don't know.

MILLER: No, we do know. We saw that 55 minutes --

BERMAN: But he said bring me a bill and when then when a bipartisan group brought him a bill, he said no. We don't know where he stands. Kevin McCarthy told the president where he stands, we don't know -- we don't know where the president is.

MILLER: The president wants to get a deal done not just on DACA but on more comprehensive immigration reform with border security, no one else is get -- is doing that. He's the one that's doing that.

BERMAN: Well, members of Congress have been sitting trying to hammer something out. He rejected it -- Jason, we got to go. Jason, Anna Navarro, great to have you with us. I do appreciate the discussion and the passion of all, thanks guys. Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: OK John. Joining us now is Democratic Congress Tim Ryan of Ohio to talk about all of this, thanks for being here.

REP. TIM RYAN, (D) OHIO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: What a morning.

RYAN: Exhausting.

CAMEROTA: The president just tweeted about that so let me just read it for everybody who is just joining us, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made, a big setback for DACA."

Just to be clear, that's contradictory, the language used was tough it was not the language used, number one. Number two, all of the senators have had 14 hours to come out and say that that's not what happened in there, they've been able to come out and repute it, none of them have.

We also -- CNN has sources not one, plural, sources, that do tell us that the president said that he doesn't want people from blank hole countries. So I'm going to go with sources and plural. What -- can you share with us what your thoughts were when you heard what happened in that meeting?

RYAN: Well when we were home over holiday break, the one word I heard more than anything else was exhausted. People are just so exhausted, he's not the president, he's the king of chaos really.

There's all this drama that surrounds the president of the United States, it seems like every single day he's insulting, he's dividing. And I think what we saw with this comment yesterday, I think reveals to a lot of people that if you're not a billionaire, you don't live in a gold plated Trump Tower, you're somehow inferior.

And whether it's black people from Africa or black people in the United States or brown people who are here who want to assimilate and come into the country, or white working class people. I mean, we talked about this a lot and I think even here during the campaign. If you go back, President Trump was discriminating against black people with housing units 40 years ago.

CAMEROTA: So, you think he has a pattern of racism?

RYAN: There -- I don't think there's any question about it and I don't take any joy in saying it, it's sad that he's the president of the United States, 40 years ago he was discriminating against people, he has a pattern of screwing workers, not paying them, waitresses, waiters, electrical workers, small little business people. Over the years he just destroys people, insults people, screws them financially long over his entire life. And so we're just seeing that pattern continue.

CAMEROTA: You heard his supporters, they say, "Oh no, no. This is about the president wanting this to be a merit-based system." Do you see any other way than say -- than these being racists comments about we don't want people from Africa and El Salvador and Haiti?

RYAN: Look, of course, we want people to come to the United States, who are going to go to our universities and create businesses, innovative, there's a long pattern of immigrants being small business people in the United States, of course we want to keep that.

But there's also room in the United States from people who are coming from countries where there's ethnic cleansing, where there's natural disasters. I mean, when did America become a place where we didn't have the courage or the strength to take those people in? And I come from a long line of Italian immigrants and Irish immigrants who came to this country.

What would President Trump -- what would he have called -- what did his dad call those countries back in the day that were my Italian grandparents? I wondered what he called them.

CAMEROTA: I mean, what happened to the foundational principle of the United States of the poor, huddled, hungry masses? I mean, do we no longer want people who need our help? Do we only want the -- I mean, it sounds as though he wants a foundational change to immigration, that we're not going to help people who are persecuted, we're not going to help people from poverty-stricken countries, we just -- just send us your blond, blue-eyed Ivy League scholars please.

RYAN: Right. Right. I think the president wants the United States to be one big Mar-a-Lago. You got a lot of money, you get a tax cut. You'll look pretty, you get all dressed up and you look handsome, you can get into the club. And that's not what the United States was made of, that's not what --

that's not why the United States was here. I mean, look at the founding folks that started our country. We were considered the rabble rousers, we were considered peasant stock. And I take pride in that and that's what's America is all about and the opportunity to get into Mar-A-Lago. Not to put the gates up and say, "Hey, if you're already there, no one else is allowed in."

CAMEROTA: If you have $200,000 you can get in. Given that the president feels this way as he outlined in this meeting, what does this mean for the future of immigration and the plan and for DACA that seemed to be sort of on track yesterday, but now what?

RYAN: I think this is, again, the pattern where you think you can get close to a deal with the president and he goes back on his word or injects some kind of chaos into the environment where something couldn't happen.

But I think it's important that we led -- and I had a very powerful meeting a couple of days ago with dreamers from Ohio in my office, a lot of tears shed. I mean, these are young kids who got here 10, 11, 12 years old, one of them was going to med school, one of them had a year in law school at the University of Cincinnati, all working hard.

And they would say things like, "I don't get to see my mom because she works three jobs and I really haven't seen her much in the last four or five years" because these people are working hard trying to live the American dream. And for the president to kind of dismantle that and make that so difficult to do is really tragic and I think, again, it's a setback.

I want the dreamers to know, I want the Latino community to know, I want the African-America community to know, I want the immigrant community to know that there are politicians in Washington, D.C, that are standing up for them and fighting for them and we need to be united in the United States.


RYAN: We can solve these problems. They're not unsolvable.

CAMEROTA: OK, well, it sounds like they are because here's the tweet that the president sent out, it's long but I think that it gives some insight into what he's thinking is this morning.

"The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican senators and congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, chain and lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly. I want a merit-based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people, I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs, I want to fund our military, not do a dam defund, because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards, the Dems will threaten shutdown but what they are really doing is shutting down our military at a time we need it most -- get smart, make America great again." It doesn't sound like there's going to be a deal.

RYAN: Well, I mean the fact that he brings up every issue that he -- that has nothing to do with the issue -- the military. Look, President Trump just spearheaded a tax cut bill that was -- will end up costing us $2.3 trillion that went -- 80 percent of it went to the wealthiest people in the country and now he turns around and says, "Well, we don't have money for this, we don't money for that." So, he is the one injecting chaos into the scenario.

Now, my one critique of the Democrats would be, I think we came in low. President -- the president's big deal was the wall.


RYAN: Our big deal is we want to pathway to citizenship, we want to solve this problem, we want to --

CAMEROTA: For the dreamers.

RYAN: For the dreamers and --

CAMEROTA: For everybody. Right.

RYAN: -- for everybody. Pay a fine, learn the language, pay any back taxes, and come into the United States and let's solve this problem and Democrats, we should be negotiating from a higher place.

CAMEROTA: It seems like you're far apart this morning. But Congressman Tim Ryan, we really appreciate you being here.

RYAN: Thank you for your time. Thanks. Good luck today.

CAMEROTA: A quick programming note, Corey Lewandowski will be on Cuomo Primetime tonight at 9:00p.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: Yes. What could possibly go wrong there? All right. President Trump cancelling his trip to London next month and he's blaming President Obama, a live report, next.


BERMAN: All right. New this morning, the mayor of London is laughing out at President Trump for calling off his visit to the United Kingdom next month. The president cancelled this visit overnight.

He was expected to cut the ribbon at the new U.S. Embassy there, but now he says he's not going, why? This is what the president says, "Not a big fan of the Obama administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts only to build a new one in an off location for $1.2 billion. Bad deal, wanted me to cut ribbon, no."

There's a lot there that's simply not true. Could it possibly be that he's not going because there would be mass protests and some leaders and Britain have said they don't want him there? CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live at the U.S. Embassy in London with more, Nick good morning. NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, so much really factually wrong with that tweet. Let's start with the basics, it wasn't the Obama Administration that moved the U.S. Embassy to here, Battersea south of the Thames River, a reasonable nice area from the very heart of Central London, Mayfair, one of the nicest districts in London period.

It was the Bush Administration citing security concerns, that old plot of the U.S. Embassy is still partially functional, has in fact been sold to a Qatari sovereign wealth fund who plans to turn it into a luxury hotel, a GBP1 billion, about $1.3 billion, plenty of money frankly to pay for the facility behind me, that's what the State Department claim has happened. The real figures are not entirely transparent at this point.

But put aside the possible misinterpretation of this real estate deal by a former real estate magnate, this is really about popularity. I don't think anybody expected him to have a warm welcome here. And that's been made absolutely clear by the mayor of London himself today responding to this strange decision to cancel the visit that hadn't actually been formally announced, less given a date to yet over Twitter overnight.

The mayor of London saying well perhaps Donald Trump, "Finally got the message" and that his divisiveness was not welcome here and that he could have expected mass peaceful protests, a very strange thing frankly in the eyes of many Londoners for the most powerful man in the world to spend the early hours of this morning thinking and tweeting about them.

They started their own hashtag, I canceled my trip to London on Twitter. It's really sadly an issue of some fun rather than about the former special relationship. Alisyn?

CAMETORA: All right Nick, thank you for explaining all of that strangeness to us from London. So, your Facebook feed, newsfeed is getting a makeover. What you can expect to see first on your feed, now.


BERMAN: Mark Zuckerberg promising to fix Facebook by making changes to its newsfeed algorithm. The social media giant says the change will affect its two billion users by prioritizing posts from your family and friends assuming you have family and friends over news brand.

CNN's Laurie Segall live in San Francisco with more. Laurie, this is a big deal.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It is because you have to think about it, any time they tweak the algorithm, it impacts two billion people and we also have seen some pretty unflattering things about Facebook over the last year. The weaponization of the platform to interfere with the election, you also -- John, you have thiese mental health studies coming up showing that passive scrolling which I know I do a lot of, just looking at posts isn't necessarily good for mental health.

So I just spoke to Facebook VP of newsfeed and he said that the new idea, the tweaking of the algorithm is a hopefully prioritized quality over quantity, take a listen.


ADAM MOSSERI, FACEBOOK VICE PRESIDENT OF NEWSFEED: So the idea is to try and focus more on bringing people together by trying to put more emphasis on facilitating more meaningful social interactions between people.

And the way we do that in ranking is to value things like commenting or writing a long comment more and valuing things like how long we might think you -- how long you think you might watch a video for less. And so as a result, the ecosystem will shift.

SEGALL: Could that lead to less daily active users?

MOSSERI: I think -- I mean, anything is always possible. In this case, we haven't seen that people come to Facebook less often. We do see that people spend a little bit less time on Facebook but we think that if we are creating an experience that people are finding meaningful, that over the long run they're going to use the experience of the platform more, that would be good both for people and for the business.

SEGALL: You guys have fallen into some uncomfortable editorial questions in the last year whether it's the weaponization of the platform or just hate speech and all of these real philosophical ethical questions that come with becoming a worldwide platform. So is this trying to take a step away from those uncomfortable editorial questions?

MOSSERI: I don't think there's any future in which we are not having difficult conversations about sticky issues. And so I don't think this --

SEGALL: Increasingly, though, right?

MOSSERI: Yes. And that's because the -- a lot of people use our platform every single day and it's an important part of the way people communicate and consume information. And so I think along with that comes a lot of attention and scrutiny and this ranking change isn't going to change that.


SEGALL: And I will say, one thing to look at, I mean this could potentially reward comments that provoke reactions. So think of the -- some of the people you know on Facebook that like to start these types of conversations and sometimes they go down a rabbit hole.

This could reward that and then also I think a lot of publishers are really worried about this -- what this means for them because a lot of publishers have put a lot of weight on making sure they get those eyeballs on Facebook, and this is part one of Mark Zuckerberg's New Year's resolution to fix Facebook. I think we're going to see many, many more changes over the next year.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Listen, it's a brave new world and no one knows where it leads, to be honest. But Laurie, thank you very much for being on the forefront of it always for us. So we're following a lot of news this morning, let's get right to it.

Good morning everyone, welcome to your New Day, it is Friday, January 12th, 8:00. Chris is off, John Berman joins me, what a morning.

BERMAN: It is a new day, a new uncensored day.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it really is here and everywhere in the county because of these comments that President Trump now denies making. They were racially charged comments about immigrants during an Oval Office meeting with senators.