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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Immigration Fight; Dow Surges; Interview With Anthony Scaramucci. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired February 6, 2018 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:00]

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another very crazy day on the market, in the market. So, we're going to have to see whether or not this holds up.

But this volatility right now is driven by the fact that we had stability for such a long period of time. You know, one of the traders told me this morning when I was on the phone with him that stability breeds instability. It sounds simple.

But that's exactly what happened here. And you layer on the fact that you have inflation fears and the fear that the Fed may raise rates more, or more frequently than expected, and you have a situation where investors believe that people may take money out of equities and put them into higher yielding assets, potentially bonds.

That's why we see the gyrations that we're seeing. What is unclear right now is why we saw them so drastically yesterday, and why we're seeing such volatility in the market today. Again, I think a lot of people would rather have seen this happen over the course of 10 days, a couple of weeks, then such dramatic gyrations -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And again, Cristina, could you remind us as to why market experts believe there was such a significant drop?

ALESCI: At 3:00 p.m. yesterday? Is that what you're talking about?

TAPPER: Yes, yesterday.

ALESCI: Well, there are lots of theories out there. One theory is the algorithmic trading that happened.

Another theory is tied to a derivative which makes up a very small part of market, but that derivative trading and the ripple effect that happened from that may have sparked some fears and some anxiety, and it may have tripped some sell orders.

That may have been what contributed to that very dramatic drop yesterday. So a bit technical there, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

The market, for those tuning in, ending the day just about -- just under 25000, up about 569, 570 or so. A much better day for the market than yesterday.

Let's turn to the politics lead now. And this afternoon, President Trump threatening another government shutdown. The president's brinksmanship coming as Congress is due to take up immigration reform next week, although a bipartisan consensus on helping the so-called dreamers stay in the United States legally seems increasingly unlikely.

Now the White House is turbo-charging the debate with some loaded language about those dreamers who you might recall were brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. As President Trump is promising -- quote -- "Let's have a shutdown" if he doesn't get immigration reform he wants, specifically referring to taking a tougher stand against undocumented immigrants who are in criminal gangs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.

And if we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety, and unrelated, but still related, they don't want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We will go with another shutdown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's dive right in with my panel.

First of all, let me play, here is White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responding just a few minutes ago to the threat of a shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president isn't looking for this, but if the Democrat Party is going to continue shutdown because they won't include responsible immigration reforms, including fixing MS-13 loopholes and other issues, then the president welcomes that fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Nia-Malika, I guess one of the questions when it comes to the government shutdown, if there is a government shutdown, is might President Trump be blamed for this, given that his comments seem to have caught leaders on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans, off- guard? And he is saying, I would love a shutdown. Let's have a shutdown.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, possibly.

On the one hand, he seems to think that the last shutdown didn't do so good for the Democratic Party. And there was some blowback from Democrats themselves, the way that Chuck Schumer and leaders handled it. So possibly he could certainly be blamed. We have seen him use this

language before about a year ago. This whole idea of maybe it is time for a good shutdown. It certainly I think throws a wrench into the plans in terms of what they want to see on Capitol Hill.

We have talked about sort of an extension of the C.R. of a couple of weeks or months or whatever. But this is the president they have been dealing with, very kind of unpredictable in terms of what he wants to see, and using this kind of off-the-cuff language is not helpful.

TAPPER: An unusual day in Washington, in that somebody else in the White House said something that is even more controversial than what President Trump said.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And that's an unusual day in Washington, you say?

TAPPER: When somebody other than Trump says something more controversial, and specifically referring to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who had to say -- he was talking about the fact in the president's offer on immigration, they offered 1.8 million DACA or dreamers, individuals, some sort of path to legal status.

But here is how John Kelly described it. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants.

And the president sent over what amounts to be two-and-a-half times that number to 1.8 million. The difference between 690,000 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:05:18]

TAPPER: A lot of Democrats very offended by that, the idea -- there were definitely people who were afraid to sign up to DACA. They didn't want the government to have their addresses.

But the notion that another reason why people didn't sign up was because they're too lazy to get off their asses.

Ana Navarro, what do you think?

NAVARRO: I think I'm really sick of this president and everybody who works around him demonizing immigrants.

It seems like everything they utter is about MS-13. It seems that everything they utter is about maligning the dreamers and immigrants that come here. Except for the immigrants that marry Donald Trump, everybody else seems to be in the pot of bad people and bad hombres. And it is enough. It is enough of dividing us by class, by where we

come from, by ethnicity, by gender, by race. It is what he does over and over and over again.

And the people around him need to stop enabling him. I know John Kelly. I knew John Kelly in Miami when he was General John Kelly. And I know he talks tough. He's a Marine. That being said, he is now not the Marine commander. He is now the chief of staff, and he needs to set an example.

This was a man who in Miami in SOUTHCOM when he was dealing with Latin America was respected, revered, seen as somebody who understood the problems down there, who was empathetic, who was humane. I have enormous respect for him. I have enormous respect for his family, for his wife, who does so much for Gold Star families.

But, damn it, the John Kelly that I knew in Miami needs to come and go to Washington and be the one that speaks and that makes things happen, not this guy.

TAPPER: Amanda?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So bring on the shutdown.

Honestly, we have been fighting about immigration since I came to Washington in 2005. It has been the central issue for conservative activists. I agree with Trump. Bring it on. If a shutdown is what it takes to hammer out a deal.

Listen, the White House has been pretty clear on what their offer is. We will offer some kind of protection for DACA people in return for border security and ending the visa lottery and ending chain migration.

And yet people like John McCain, God bless -- God bless him for trying, but they keep bringing the same deals that get rejected by conservatives over and over. This is insanity.

TAPPER: You're siding with Trump on the government shutdown?

CARPENTER: Sure. Let's get this done. If that's what it takes.

Let's be honest. The last shutdown, I called it a pseudo-shutdown, because it really wasn't effective. The Democrats did it over the weekend and the politics were on Trump's side. Bring it on.

HENDERSON: But it's also just not clear how -- you say you would accept that deal. It is not clear if House Republicans would accept the deal.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: I think the main thing they're fighting over right now is whether the DACA part of it would provide a legal path to citizenship for the DACA recipients. Let's fight about that. (CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: I think it's crazy for us to be talking and for the president of the United States, the chief executive to be calling for a shutdown. It seems to me so callous, so frivolous, so dysfunctional, stupid.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Let me just say this.

This is the guy who seven days ago was addressing a joint House of Congress, the State of the Union, calling for bipartisanship and let's do things together. And he has spent the last three days doing nothing but maligning Democrats and maligning everybody else who doesn't go along with him.

Everything he said a week ago was nothing but empty, meaningless rhetoric.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Let's remember really quickly, though, we're year one of Trump. We have already had one pseudo-shutdown. We have had Democrats boycotting -- OK, we're one year completed.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: The honeymoon is over, right? It seems like dog years. This is the seventh year.

TAPPER: Right.

NAVARRO: It was a hell of a short honeymoon.

CARPENTER: If this is what it takes to solve the debate over the single biggest issue, take a week off and actually devote time for it where there is pressure and leverage and deadlines, let's do it.

TAPPER: So, Nia-Malika, the irony of John Kelly being criticized for what he's saying here is that he was trying to talk about how this was a better DACA deal than even President Obama offered because it is 1.8 million individuals.

But I do want to you listen to Sarah Sanders responding just a few minutes ago to the claims from Democrats and immigration groups that what John Kelly said was inappropriate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE SANDERS: The position of the White House is that we want to fix a problem that was created by the previous administration. We have a system that is not lawful. We have a system that is not

lawful. We have a system that has a lot of legal loopholes and has a very large national security concern. We want to address it completely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Not really a response to the language, per se.

But Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat of New Jersey, tweeted in response: "From S-houses to lazy asses, the White House seems to be only concerned with degrading the very people they claim they want to save. Shame on those who insist on demonizing hardworking immigrants for political purposes."

Again, John Kelly was talking about how they were offering something generous, but did so with using language that really offended a lot of people.

[16:10:03]

HENDERSON: Yes, sort of the idea of lazy Latinos. Right.

And we have heard from this president as a candidate talk about Mexico sending their rapists and their murderers to America.

There is this focus, I think -- I agree with Ana here -- on demonizing immigrants. Right? And there isn't a corollary with saying they're a part of this country, this is the only country that many of these DACA recipients have known.

Some of them are serving in the military as well. There is instead a focus MS-13. We of course had the briefing today from the White House talking about MS-13. So that's I think missing from this. And I think it is one of the reasons that it makes it so hard for House Republicans to get on board.

How do you ask the House Republicans to give citizenship and amnesty to this group if you're demonizing them constantly?

TAPPER: And, Ana, I want to you respond to this tweet from President Trump.

The president and vice president invoking the drunk driving death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was killed allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala.

The president tweeted: "So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the border and with illegal immigration fast."

NAVARRO: So I guess today he decided not to fight with the NFL.

Look, it is one more instance. Donald Trump does not miss any opportunity to find whatever may be going on, to emphasize whatever crimes may have been committed by immigrants, who have a lower crime rate than native-born. He does not miss the opportunity to bang and attack and bash immigrants over and over again because he is feeding his base.

Because it is what his base wants to hear. And because that he knows most of America wants to see the DREAM Act issue resolved. And he has got to do it. He feels pressure to do it. The way he takes the pressure off is by making those kids that are so compelling, and those stories that are so compelling, making them into demons, making them into bad hombres.

TAPPER: Very quickly.

CARPENTER: I don't think there's anything wrong with that tweet.

Why can't we talk about what a terrible thing it is when illegal immigrants who return to the country illegally again and again and continue to commit crimes, say that is a bad thing?

What Democrat is going to defend that? Part of reason conservative Republicans feel like they're going a little crazy and President Trump is driven to reemphasize and dig the knife in when incidents like this occur is because everyone says don't take that seriously. That is not really happening. It does keep happening.

NAVARRO: No immigration advocate does not agree with getting rid of every single criminal alien, serious criminal alien.

CARPENTER: So why does everybody go crazy?

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Because he is never capable of saying one good thing about immigrants. That's why. And we are fed up.

TAPPER: We have to take a very quick break.

President Trump is not only threatening a shutdown. He's also outraged Democrats, some who have fought for this country, for questioning Democrats' patriotism. I will get a reaction from a close Trump ally who is also known for having his choice of words, Anthony Scaramucci.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back and continuing with the politics lead today. Just days ahead of another potential government shutdown, President Trump said this afternoon he would love to see a shutdown if Democrats don't agree to his proposal.

I'm joined now by Anthony Scaramucci. He's the former White House communications director for President Trump.

Thanks so much for being here, Anthony. It's always good to see you. ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I

appreciate being here, Jake.

TAPPER: So, the president said this afternoon, you heard, quote, I would love to see a shutdown if we don't see taking care of in terms of some tougher immigration and border measures he wants. What's your reaction?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, he is exuding his toughness. He's basically saying it's a nonpolitical strategy. It's more of a business strategy in negotiating and his attitude is, is you're going to own another defeat with another governmental shutdown. And he also recognizes that the gang violence in this sort of activity is something that he feels he got hired to help prevent and put down around the country. So, it's a combination of those two things.

TAPPER: Does it have the risk, doesn't carry with it the risk that he will be blamed for the shutdown? That there's no video of him saying let's have a shutdown, I'd love to have a shutdown?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Well, you know, he has tweeted about that four or five years ago about a shutdown. He said that there be -- it might be healthy and cleansing to have a good governmental shutdown.

I don't think he's going to get blamed for it. I think the American people recognize that he is taking that position out of frustration more than he's taking that position like he wants to shut down the government and hurt the processes of government. If anything, he is trying to signal with the statement that he just made that we need to protect the American military and our heroes both here in the United States and outside the United States by not having a shutdown, but he is tough enough to not blink in a negotiation scenario with the Democrats.

TAPPER: The chief of staff, John Kelly, retired marine general, spoke with "The Washington Post" earlier. He talked about how the president made this offer for 1.8 million Dreamers or DACA recipients to be on a legal path -- a path to legal status. But he said something else. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number to 1.8 million. The difference between 690,000 and 1.8 million were the people some would say were too afraid to sign up. Others would say are too lazy to get off their asses but they didn't sign up.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, obviously Latino, he said that those words were needlessly callous and disrespectful when referring to people who were too lazy to get off their asses. SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, don't go by me because I'm not one that

microanalyses every word that comes out of my mouth. So, I think it's unfair to the general that we're going to micro-analyze every word. I mean, he's respectful of everybody.

Listen, he fired me. He fired me respectfully. You'll never hear me say a bad thing about him. I've got an enormous amount of almost for him and what he's doing in the White House and what he did with his career.

So, I think, you know, he is talking in a vernacular that, frankly, I'm comfortable talking in. So, I think, is it Congressman Joaquin?

TAPPER: Joaquin Castro.

SCARAMUCCI: Let's all try to be a little less sensitive. We're trying to do the right thing and let's cut a deal on DACA. The president is offering something very generous.

I think General Kelly is just saying, if you look at the numbers, we're going with three times what actually registered so we are trying to fix the problem. So, I think that's where the messaging is. And so, we have a tendency to microanalyze this stuff. It is being done to me, I don't like it. I'm sure the general doesn't like it either.

TAPPER: I want to turn to the president's remarks about the Democrats' reaction to the State of the Union Address. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Yes, I guess, why not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, the White House says the president said when he said that, he was clearly joking. You're smiling. I want to let you react.

But there are Democrats in Congress who served in uniform who didn't think it was funny.

Army National Guard veteran, Congressman Tim Walz, tweeted, quote, I didn't serve 24 years in uniform for this country to be called treasonous. We're simply disagreeing with your disastrous policies, Mr. President. U.S. Air Force veteran and Congressman Ted Lieu wrote: Dear President Trump, I served in active duty in the U.S. military to give people the right to clap when the president speaks or not to clap, to stand or to sit, to attend your speeches or to boycott them. We are not and never will be an authoritarian regime. Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost her legs while serving in Iraq, tweeted, we don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore an oath in the military and in the Senate to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of cadet bone spurs and clap when he demands I clap.

Do you think that the president owes apology to the veterans in Congress who took offense?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, first of all, all three of those people who I disagree with ideologically, I want to personally thank them for their service. And I think that's the hallmark of the United States, that we can disagree with each other and we all love the country and all the foundational principles that the country represents.

I think we're going to have a very long three years if we're going to microanalyze the sentence structure of everything the president says.

TAPPER: Calling somebody treasonous.

SCARAMUCCI: I know, and his button is bigger than the other guy's button, and he's got tweets out there that people don't like. I clearly thought it was joking. You saw my reaction to it.

TAPPER: You laughed immediately.

SCARAMUCCI: I was smiling. I know his personality. You can watch the gesticulation and you can watch the smile on his face when he's saying it. He probably doesn't mean it.

But I think the journalists I talked to, congressmen that I talked to, all say the same thing, but wait a minute, Anthony. He is president. So, he should measure his words more and he should be more careful, more editorially articulate with his words. And so, that may or may not be true, but that's not President Trump.

So what I would say to people is take him for what he is. You know through the style of him what his content actually really is. He was clearly joking there. And if we're going to spend a news cycle on the joke of that word because it is harmful to some people, which I recognize and certainly people that have served in the military. I'd say, just take it back a step and look at him for the person that he is and don't take that remark seriously.

TAPPER: You and I have talked about it before, but the president was there giving a speech to talk about tax reform and to talk about the benefits of the tax cuts. And he steps on his own speech. He steps in his own message when he says something like that, calling people treasonous. And while you and your friends like Don Trump Jr. and others know how he meant it, or you think you know how he meant it and you laughed and such. There are a lot of people who don't.

Even if you're not taking with the offense that some people felt, it did step on his own message. Don't you think he needs to be more strategic?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Well, but then he's talking about, you didn't show it, but he's also talking about don't go to the movies on Election Day. I need you guys, certainly you people are not going to go to the movies. It's this sort of conventional nature, this colloquialism that he has that really brought a lot of people over the line. I mean, if you look at the exit polling data, it turns out that there were way more people in what the president would call the forgotten man or woman that showed up at the polls than we originally thought.

So, he has a connection to these people. And so, he has a connection to those people because he's talking to them in a non-sanitary way. If he is overly sanitized his language, Jake, they would probably tune out from him.

So I get you. There's a double edged sword here. Listen, he stepped on his message. We're now talking about the words that he used as opposed to his tax cut. And I hear you but there's a balance where he's really reaching out.

If he's going to win and he's going to break history and cheat history by recapturing or maintaining the House and the Senate, he's got to go back to the people got him elected. And he's got to speak to them in a language that they like, not necessarily the language that you or I or people here in Washington like.

TAPPER: All right. Anthony, stay right here. I have more to ask you. You suggested the president should not sit down for an interview with special Robert Mueller but there's nothing to worry about if he has nothing to hide, right?

We're going to get into that next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: "The New York Times" reports the president's lawyers are advising Mr. Trump not to sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, partially because they're concerned he might incriminate himself.

Here with me is former White House communications director for President Trump, Anthony Scaramucci.

And, Anthony, you said this week, you don't believe the president should agree to an interview as well because you don't want him caught in a gotcha moment. But if he has nothing to hide and he tells the truth, that shouldn't be a concern.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, OK. So, first of all, not an official statement or anything like that, because I'm talking as a private citizen.

TAPPER: Right, but as a --

SCARAMUCCI: But what I know about the tendencies, the malaprops and things like that.

But I do think that the president's lawyers, I think the lawyers probably still have that on the table. They're probably not going to talk to you but my guess is that the lawyers still have the notion, the idea of him actually testifying, because I think they want to make clear to everybody, the American people and the people that are in this special prosecutor's office and Robert Mueller himself, that the president has done nothing to obstruct justice. He is up front. He's had no collusion.

Clearly, 13 months have gone by.