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Explaining Trump's Breeding Tweet; Rain and Thunderstorms for Northeast; Ceremony for French President. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:25] ALISYN CAMEROTA, ,CNN ANCHOR: The White House is on the defensive about one of President Trump's tweets that said, in part, there is a revolution going on in California. So many sanctuary areas want out of this ridiculous crime invested and breeding concept.

On Monday, reporters, including CNN's Jim Acosta, pressed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explain what the president meant by the word "breeding."


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: When he used the word "breeding," was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California, that they breed a lot or that they're prone to breeding? Was he talking about --

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, he's talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What did he mean by "breeding"?

SANDERS: Again, the president has recognized that this is a major problem and a lot of people, even in California, want to see the issue of sanctuary cities addressed. And the president's doing what he can to do that.

RYAN: What does breeding mean to this president, because when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding, populating. I mean --

SANDERS: I'm not going to begin to think what you think. Certainly I think that -- it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But the president is talking about a growing problem. And I addressed that with Jim. And I don't have anything else to add.


CAMEROTA: Oh, well, here's Miriam Webster's definition of breeding. Number one, the action or process of bearing or generating. Number two, ancestry. Number three, the sexual propagation of plants or animals. So let's discuss it with author of "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to

White America," Michael Eric Dyson, and CNN political commentator Steve Cortes.

Steve, I'll start -- gentlemen, great to see both of you.

But, Steve, I want to start with you because you were a campaign adviser to President Trump. When you hear the word "breeding," how do you hear it?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I hear it -- I mean not to play English teacher, but I believe breeding is describing crime, the noun (ph) crime, crime breeding. He's used that phrase many times when he talks about sanctuary cities. As a matter of fact, I remember the big interview he gave right before the Super Bowl with Bill O'Reilly, he used exactly that phrase about sanctuary cities. He says they are crime breeding. So that's exactly what I took out of it.

Now, I'll admit, I think he wrote it in artfully. I wish he had repeated crime, so crime infesting and crime breeding would have make it more clear and we wouldn't even be having this discussion. But I -- I do not, in any way, ascribe nefarious intent for the president's tweet.

CAMEROTA: And, you know, Michael, isn't that part of the problem? The president is so inarticulate in terms of these tweets. They're rife with spelling errors. They're rife with grammatical errors. It's sometimes impossible to know exactly what he means. But how do you hear the word "breeding"?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Well, all due respect to brother Steve there, an infelicitous turn of phrase perhaps is a problem with a person otherwise highly articulate and sensible. This president, you have to wade through a morass of high unintelligence to figure out what he's saying. You've got to have a deconstructionist on one hand and a reconstructionist on the other.

[08:35:14] The point is not simply the infelicitous of this turn of phrase, it is the viciousness with which that phrase is communicated. And it's the body of belief that that phrase intends to communicate.

We know that this president has been deeply and profoundly anti- immigrant, especially against brown people, especially against Latinos. So when he talks about a breeding concept, be aware of the denotation and the connotation of the word.

CORTES: Michael --

DYSON: And the reality is here, breeding is connected to a --

CORTES: Michael --

DYSON: Lethargic and I think a very lethal conception of breeding among Latino people that needs to be dealt with. If the president doesn't understand that, shame on him. CORTES: No, listen, that is so unfair and just not true. And I say

this, by the way, as a brown man, as a Latino, as a son of an immigrant. By the way, so was Donald Trump, the son of an immigrant, also married to one. He is not anti-immigrant. None of us in the Trump movement are. We are anti-illegal immigration.

And I would say this, by the way, too. Sanctuary cities in places like California are most dangerous often for Latinos themselves, for American citizens of Hispanic descent. They are often, if not mostly the victims of dangerous illegal aliens who are allowed to hide in plain site because of the misbegotten blue state policies of people like Governor Jerry Brown.

DYSON: Well, here's the point, that those people who are Latinos who are subjected to vicious forms of arbitrary crime are not being targeted because they are somehow Latinos and they're in the communities where illegals are present. When we look at the rate of crime among -- against Latino people, it is not the so-called illegals who are doing the majority of that crime.

Number two, what's interesting here is that what you're denying is the legitimate association between the connotation and denotation of the word "breeding." Breeding among Latino people. You are a brown person. That's great. But you're not all brown people. So then your particular perspective does not exhaust an understanding of Latinos who have been victims of vicious forms of bigotry in this country that have been resurgent under this president and his anti-immigration policy has been tagged to them in very specific fashion.


CAMEROTA: Hold on, I do want to get to this. Hold your thought for a second, Steve, because I do want to talk about this. Part of why the alarm bells went off for people with the word "breeding" was because of the connection to white supremacists. They use this term. I have a few examples.

Here's Richard Spencer, who said on October of 2017, the present races of mankind are the result of interbreeding between earlier and later arrivals in the various regions of the world.

Here's Carl Higibe. He was one of the president's picks for -- to be chief of external affairs before he had to withdrawal over some of this rhetoric. He said, the taxpayers are tired of supporting government checks to go to these people, meaning minorities, who think breeding is a form of government employment.

The National Policy Institute, which is what the white supremacists call their think tank, white supremacists -- they fret about white displacement by the minorities through differential fertility rates and interracial breeding.

So, Steve, the point is, the president wasn't sensitive to that connotation, even if he meant it in the best possible ways.

CORTES: Well, Alisyn, I'm assuming he wasn't sensitive to it because he doesn't pay attention to those people. And why should he to those hateful people who spew that kind of rhetoric, people like Richard Spencer. So he's not aware of it. I'm not aware of it.

What -- what I think matters here, you know, there's just a constant within the media and within the opposition to Trump, there's a constant default where you will always assume the worst possible inference into the things he says, rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt. And, by the way, I think he's earned the benefit of the doubt because of how well people of color are doing presently in America under his policies. And that's what I want to talk about is his policies, not (INAUDIBLE).

DYSON: Well, here's -- well, here's --

CAMEROTA: Hold on. I understand. But, listen, just -- by even having this debate we're giving him the benefit of the doubt, OK.

CORTES: Right.

CAMEROTA: OK, you're representing his point. That's not how you heard it.


CAMEROTA: So that is the benefit of the doubt.

But, Michael, go ahead.

DYSON: Yes, no, absolutely right.

But number two here, oh, now you're going to play the ignorant card? Oh, I didn't -- miss, ma'am, I don't nothing about those implications and those inferences. I didn't know that breeding had been associated with white supremacist language here. Look, you're a highly intelligent man. So we understand that you have to be responsible for your understanding of what's going on here. Breeding -- using a concept like breeding is indicative of a kind of white supremacist logic --

CORTES: But he means crime breeding.

DYSON: Let me finish. I let you finish, sir.

It is a white supremacist ideal that Ms. Alisyn Camerota has already suggested to you is central to the definition of white supremacy in this present moment. So we can't disassociate arbitrarily the president's use of that language. And, let me tell you, you're giving him the benefit of the doubt. He's a guy who has said, I can't tell the difference between bigotry and those who are against bigotry. Here's a guy who says there are good people on both sides. So we've given him the benefit of the doubt.

What we need to now is to apply to him a reasonable standard and litmus test of rational discourse to suggest you should be responsible for the language you use. Shame on you, Mr. President. Grow up. Grow into your language. Learn to use auto correct. And then revise yourself with a redactor who gives you a sense of editing that is based inhumanity and compassion, not based upon your arbitrary assertions of bigotry, which we see is flowing here quite powerfully in his tweets.

[08:40:17] CAMEROTA: Steve, even if you give it to --

CORTES: Well, what I --

CAMEROTA: OK, hold on one second and then I'll let you respond. Even if you give it your reading, which is the best possible one, how does that comport with what he had said he wants for dreamers, which is the bill of love, to treat them with love? How do you say that, you know, when you connect undocumented immigrants to crime and breeding, how does that even make sense?

CORTES: Well, hold on.

DYSON: It doesn't.

CORTES: He was talking about crime because he was talking about sanctuary cities, and that's exactly what sanctuary cities are about, are allowing people who don't belong here in the first place, who have then shown themselves to be dangerous to our community, to nonetheless remain in our community and (INAUDIBLE) law.

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute -- wait a minute, you're talking about undocumented immigrants. They haven't shown themselves to be any more dangerous.

CORTES: No, no.

CAMEROTA: In fact, less dangerous than native born Americans in terms of crime rates.

CORTES: OK, you know, Alisyn, I hear that quite a lot and that might be true and there's -- there's a lot of debate about that.

DYSON: Oh, my God.

CORTES: But even if it is true, and I'll concede that point -- even if I'll concede that point, that doesn't mean that every crime committed -- every single crime committed by an illegal immigrant in the United states is preventable. So even one is much too many. I mean tell that to Kate Steinle's family, or tell it to Sandra Durand's (ph) family, an Hispanic-American mother who was killed by a five times deported criminal. I mean you saw a father --

DYSON: (INAUDIBLE) logic right there. Just because -- wait a minute -- if that's the case, we can look at -- we can look at people who are white who are committing crimes. Many more crimes are committed by people who are in this country, quote, legally who have done nefarious things. So the manipulation of logic here is quite problematic.

What you're not dealing with is, this -- this is the fact. Latino people are subjected to vicious forms of bigotry. The president has been chief among those who have been bigoted toward that community. And your being a brown person cannot exempt you from the kind of horrible, inside acknowledgement that there's something going on here and you can't justify a white supremacist's logic. You can be a white supremacist in brown skin. The reality is, is that the logic is what's problematic here.

CAMEROTA: All right.

DYSON: And the president must be held to account.

CAMEROTA: All right.

CORTES: Quite the opposite.

CAMEROTA: Last word, Steve.

CORTES: He's advancing the interests of people of colors in this country, the citizens of this color -- excuse me, the citizens of this country of whatever color. That's what he's protecting and promoting, their prosperity and their security.

DYSON: Not at all. Not at all.

CAMEROTA: OK. OK. Steve Cortes, Michael Eric Dyson, thank you both very much for being here with your perspectives.

DYSON: Thank you.

CORTES: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, so another issue that this administration has to deal with are vetting questions surrounding President Trump's cabinet picks. Are they really looking for the best of the best in making sure that's who they choose? The evidence says no. "The Bottom Line" on that, ahead.


[08:46:19] CUOMO: All right, this is the tornado time of year and there is an isolated threat in the mid-Atlantic today as rain and thunderstorms move toward the northeast. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast.

Where are your eyes?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Extreme eastern North Carolina right along the outer banks. That's where the threat of anything that spins today could make something significant. Otherwise, this is heavy rainfall washing away the pollen. Very beneficial stuff here.

This weather is brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

Now, the rain does get to New York City by midnight tonight. This is the forecast radar. All the way to 1:30 in the morning, this is what the radar is going to look like, very heavy and slow moving rainfall could cause some flash flooding, two to four inches of rain not out of the question all up and down the coast. Temperatures remain pretty steady in the 60s to almost 70 degrees, about where we should be. April showers and then the May flowers.


CAMEROTA: Very nice. Very poetic, Chad. Thank you so much.

MYERS: I made it up myself.

CAMEROTA: I know. I've never heard that before. That is beautiful.

All right, so we are moments away from the French president arriving at the White House. Look at this, in preparation. Up next, we get "The Bottom Line" on the high stakes meetings, next.


[08:51:33] CAMEROTA: OK, we're following some breaking news. Here's the scene right now outside of the White House. This is the South Lawn. You can see many prominent members of the cabinet there, along with Vice President Mike Pence, as they prepare for the arrival of the French president, Macron.

CUOMO: Right. So you see John Kelly's got his head turned away from us right now. You have the commerce secretary next to him, Wilbur Ross. You have the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin. Who is the -- there's a woman to his left who is, you can tell me, Karen Pence.

CAMEROTA: No, no there is -- we're missing one.

CUOMO: No, that's -- do you see the vice president and his wife there. You see a man named John Sullivan, who's a deputy secretary at the secretary of state at the State Department and then when we find out who that woman is, we will tell you. Behind you'll see Sarah Sanders, Larry Kudlow over -- other advisers. But you have cabinet level and vice president people in that front row.

We have the Army Band. The (INAUDIBLE) own band is playing. There are going to be 500 in the military attachment. This is a big deal. It's about the pomp and circumstance and the first time we've seen the president and the first lady have this kind of ceremonial event.

CAMEROTA: OK, so let's get "The Bottom "Line on what to expect from CNN political director David Chalian.

So what are you watching for today, David?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as Chris was just saying, first and foremost, watching these pictures, the pomp and circumstance is important. The style is part of the substance of a state visit and watching the president and the first lady as sort of global hosts in a way that we have not seen before in this administration I think is key. But in terms of what these two leaders are going to be exploring, I mean, I'm looking to see their relationship and how its developing. I mean you remember, over the course of the last 15 months or so, from the handshakes to Bastille Day with the military parade that President Trump loved so much out in France, Macron has been courting Donald Trump in a very significant way.

And then, obviously, on the policy front, most recently France and the United States, along with Great Britain with the attack in Syria, the response to the chemical weapons attack there, I'm looking to see about Syria, the Iran nuclear deal and climate change. Those three issues I think are probably top of the agenda as they have a series of meetings throughout the day today.

CUOMO: All right. So in terms of the stakes, OK, everybody seems to be focusing on the Iran deal. Obviously it dovetails with what North Korea might expect from any type of negotiation with the United States. How do you see that breaking down in terms of what's likely and unlikely?

CHALIAN: Well, I mean, the clock is ticking, right? There's this May 12th deadline that the president has. He has -- all indications had been that he wants to pull out of this and he's sort of getting double teamed this week with the -- with Macron and then Angela Merkel coming from Germany at the end of the week because the European powers are very interested in the United States staying in this deal and not pulling out. And so whether or not that has influence on Donald Trump remains to be seen. It's certainly not at all where he has indicated he's going. But you're right to mention the North Korea moment, Chris. You can't divorce it from what may happen with the Iran nuclear deal because everybody's watching to see how President Trump will deal with an already existing agreement before he potentially enters another one with North Korea.

CAMEROTA: So, David, there's this 11:45 joint press conference with Macron and President Trump. Is there any possible way that we learn how President Trump feels at that press conference? Will he make some sort of -- if Macron is able to sway him one way or the other, would he make that announcement this morning?

[08:55:01] CHALIAN: Again, here you are putting me in the position of predicting Donald Trump.


CHALIAN: Yes, that's a -- that's a near impossibility. I would be surprised, Alisyn, if indeed we heard some pronouncement of policy relating to the Iran nuclear deal at the joint press conference. I think whatever influence Macron may have on Donald Trump will be behind the scenes and then may be reflected in a final decision that we see down the road. But I don't think standing next to his French counterpart is how President Trump is probably wanting to make his announcement on that.

CUOMO: Be very interesting to see how the trust works moving forward, whether or not what the French president is told by the American president and vice versa winds up coming to fruition. It's a big part of the calculus here and it's one of the big concerns about the U.S. president.

David Chalian, thank you for setting the table for us. Appreciate it.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: We're just -- he's just listening to the music.

CUOMO: So are we.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we are.

CUOMO: Pershing the Army Band, the Pershing Band.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic. We'll look forward to the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Band as well coming up. CNN's live coverage of the arrival ceremony for the French president will continue on "NEWSROOM" with John Berman after this quick break. Have a great day.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

[08:59:55] A president who sometimes struggles with acting presidential is about to have his moment. In a spectacle that oozes presidentialness, the president and first lady of the United States will officially welcome the president and first lady of France for a state visit, the first since President Trump took office. You are looking at live pictures right now from the south side of the White House.