Return to Transcripts main page
Caravan of Central Americans Hope for Asylum at U.S. Border; Trump: I Have 'Everything' to Do with North Korea Breakthrough; Michelle Wolf Under Fire for Biting Comedy at Correspondents' Dinner; Report: Ronny Jackson Won't Return as Trump's Doctor. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 30, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have been on trains and on buses. This is the moment that they have been waiting for.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you watching that mess with the caravan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an administration that looks at this as a border security problem when this is a humanitarian problem.
TRUMP: What do you think President Trump had to do with it? Like, how about everything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An upcoming summit, I think, is a terrific opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nobody in the Trump administration starry- eyed about what may happen here.
MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: She Burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought she was funny. I laughed.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The White House Correspondents' Association allowed this annual dinner to turn into more and more of a spectacle.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Monday, April 30, 6 here in New York. Here's our starting line.
A caravan of asylum-seeking Central Americans is now at the Mexico- U.S. border. But U.S. immigration inspectors say they don't have the space to accommodate them. President Trump repeatedly vowing not to let these people in, calling this humanitarian situation "a mess" and setting up a showdown at the border.
Also, President Trump taking full credit for the peace talks on the Korean Peninsula, and South Korea says Kim Jong-un will shut down his nuclear test sites soon. But America's new top diplomat says the Trump administration has its eyes wide open as Mr. Trump prepares to meet with Kim.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, several media outlets are reporting that Ronny Jackson will no longer be President Trump's personal physician after a series of misconduct allegations forced him to withdraw from being considered as V.A. secretary. Now in retaliation, the president is threatening to ruin the career of the Democratic senator who made the allegations against Jackson.
And President Trump assailing the White House Correspondents' Dinner after a comedian's controversial roast. The journalists' association is now distancing itself from that comedian. Did Michelle Wolf's monologue go too far? We will debate that.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live at the White House. What's the latest, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, the president had quite the weekend here. He was -- had several calls with foreign leaders. He called on one Democratic senator to resign. A free- wheeling rally in Michigan on Saturday night. And even some criticism of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
But he has one big issue on his plate here today, and that is that caravan of migrants from Central America that has arrived at a border crossing. And now we are set for a showdown between those migrants and the president's anti-immigration rhetoric.
COLLINS (voice-over): Dozens of migrants seeking asylum in the United States, now awaiting processing at the California border, despite warnings that the immigration center there has reached its capacity. The migrants reaching the United States border after a month-long journey from Central America. Some climbing the border fence and waving to supporters on the U.S. side of the beach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We welcome the Central American refugees. You are welcome here.
COLLINS: But President Trump sending the opposite signal, instructing the Department of Homeland Security last week to turn the migrants away.
TRUMP: Are you watching that mess that's going on right now with the caravan coming up? Are you watching this? And our laws are so weak, they're so pathetic. Given to us by Democrats, they're so pathetic.
COLLINS: The president repeatedly referencing the caravan during a free-wheeling rally Saturday night as he criticized U.S. immigration laws. TRUMP: We've gotten Mexico to work with us on stopping a lot of
what's pouring in, but we have the worst laws anywhere in the world. We don't have borders. We're going to build the wall. And if we don't get border security, we'll have no choice. We'll close down the country.
COLLINS: President Trump also defending his former nominee for veterans affairs secretary, Dr. Ronny Jackson. Mr. Trump calling for the resignation of Democratic Senator Jon Tester after he put out a list of misconduct allegations from Jackson's current and former colleagues.
TRUMP: Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he'd never be elected again.
COLLINS: Jackson has denied any misconduct. And the White House has presented documents disputing claims of an alcohol-related car accident and improper pill distribution. But questions remain.
Multiple outlets now reporting that Jackson won't return as the president's physician but will continue to work in the White House medical unit.
President Trump also taking aim at the White House Correspondents' Dinner after the comedian Michelle Wolf's controversial roast.
WOLF: I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's lies. Probably lies.
COLLINS: The president calling the event an embarrassment and Wolf's stand-up act, quote, "filthy." The White House Correspondents' Association expressing regret that Wolf's monologue was, quote, "not in the spirit of the group's mission" to celebrate the First Amendment.
COLLINS: Now Chris and Alisyn, we'll hear from the president today during a press conference with the president of Nigeria. There have been no angry tweets about the caravan or the dinner yet. But of course, it's only 6:05 a.m., so stay tuned.
CUOMO: It's true. We're getting right towards peak tweet time, Kaitlan. I'll let you know how it goes.
All right. Joining us now is CNN political analysts Alex Burns and John Avlon.
So we start, John, on North Korea. OK? And, what, 10, 12 days ago. You know, the idea of, boy, if everything goes right here, this would be amazing. Right? This would be, like, a real peace development. Could be the stuff of a prize. Everybody laughs it off.
Then we have the big moment with Moon and Kim. And we learn that Moon has really been engineering this. There's some pluses and minuses to it, but the U.S. is involved as well, and this is good.
Now we have the president standing up there saying, "I had everything to do with all of this."
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: All me, baby.
CUOMO: But then Pompeo says, "Hold on, hold on. We have our eyes wide open." So what's your read on the plus/minus of what's happening here, the optics, the political optics of North Korea?
AVLON: Look, I think this goes well beyond optics. It's what's the actual possibility of a deal getting done and not going off the rails when Trump sits down with Kim.
All right. So here's what's important. Remember, Trump deserves credit for this. He has changed the calculus around this negotiation. He deserves credit. In a way that, you know, didn't occur before. North Korea has played this brinksmanship forever.
What I think is different is that Moon, of course, is the president of South Korea. He also really wants conciliation. Now, you have over the weekend John Bolton raising the specter of Libya, which is not the best metaphor if you are North Korea. They have been afraid of what happened to Gadhafi after he renounced nuclear weapons.
So this is all leading up to a very high-stakes negotiation. Can President Trump get -- ? Sure. But has his bellicosity set up a different condition in which Kim seems willing to negotiate? He deserves credit for that.
CUOMO: And I apologize for stepping on the lead. I just wanted to make sure that gets out there. Because I believe with the Iran deal and nuclear, and K. (ph) going on at the same time, we've to keep it in focus. But I know that we have a big story this week.
CAMEROTA: Well, look, that's a big story. Obviously, North Korea is a big story.
CUOMO: You're right, true.
CAMEROTA: That's fine. Let's touch on that. And then let's move on to what's happening on the border, OK, with immigration. So the president has been stoking fears about this caravan that's charging towards the border. So now they're there. There are at least dozens of people, maybe a couple of hundred. And they are seeking asylum. And, Alex, there's a process by which people seek asylum. And these folks are going through that process for which they seek asylum.
The good data point is last year when this same thing happened, 100 -- 200 people showed up. Three people have been granted political asylum. So I mean, this is kind of business as usual, much as the president is ginning up his crowd about it.
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's totally business as usual. And the president says we have such weak laws we can't do anything about this. No. We actually have laws that deal with this problem and deal with this as an issue quite regularly. That people do get to come and make their case for why they deserve asylum, and then most people don't actually get asylum in the end. And you can find that satisfactory, you can find that unsatisfactory. But he does like to go out and tell these stories, often about immigration, about national security, about crime and terrorism that suggest that we're living in this state of total chaos and that the United States is being completely overrun or taken advantage of or whatever term you want to use. And that's just simply not the reality that we're living in.
AVLON: Right. He does create an impression that the caravan is going to bum rush the border, and we're being overwhelmed. The reality is, is that this border crossing in San Diego is quite fortified. People come. They apply for asylum and they go for what's called a credible fear interview. So this is not chaotic. This is orderly. And the vast majority of these folks aren't getting across the border.
BURNS: And the credible fear interview is the first part of the process. Right? If they determine that you have a credible fear if you're sent back, then you get to really make your case for why you deserve asylum.
So you're going to hear a lot of statistics over the next few days. Probably about, you know, 75 percent of people make it through. It's just not -- it's much, much tougher than that.
CAMEROTA: One more thing that I want to get to on this topic before we move on. And that is that the president seems to have changed his narrative now about immigrants. So it has been, as we know, up until now, they're coming to take your jobs. They're coming to take your jobs.
Then this weekend it was, "You know what? They're coming to help you with your jobs. We're going to make sure they help you." So listen to this difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: For the farmers, OK. It's going to get good. And we're going to let your guest workers come in, because we're going to have strong borders but we have to have your workers come in.
You know, the unemployment picture is so good, it's so strong that we have to let people come in. They're going to be guest workers. They're going to come in; they're going to work on your farms. We're going to have the H-2B's coming in. We're going to have a lot of things happening. But then they have to go out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's a different tone, John Avlon.
AVLON: That's a tasty little morsel of a shift right there. Look, he's taking credit for unemployment. It's a kind of a feed to the farming community, which does depend on guest workers. He's saying if they come in, they've got to go out when the season's done. But maybe that's something like eVerify. But this is not a president who talks in policy specifics. So I'm not going to put in a ton of stock in that little morsel.
[06:10:04] CUOMO: Right. But he's doing -- look, all true. All true. Right issue, right analysis. However, I think it's more pernicious than that, what he's doing.
The theory of the case is these are bad people. All right? They're murderers; they're rapists, and at best they're coming here to steal your jobs. OK?
We know the statistics deny the first two categories of being an urgency. OK? We know that on the third it's demonstrably false. Now, what is the reality? These people take the jobs that Americans don't want to do. And we see that by the supply. If it wasn't the supply of these jobs, the people wouldn't come here.
So now he's saying that's a good thing. What is the net effect of this? Is this just divisive politics again now, with, like, a little chaser shot of being completely misleading about the reality? Or what is the -- what's his plan here? Is he trying to move towards the truth, which is agriculture is in really bad shape if they don't have these illegal works? God forbid you have to bust down on the employers of undocumented people. If you did that, if you policed the people creating the demand, wow, I wonder what that would do for the problem? But they can't, because those are his friends. Right? They fill up the lobbyists' coffers. So you're not doing that. Got to demonize the people who are trying to be desperate enough to make a new life. So what's the play?
BURNS: Look, I think you described it very, very well. This is divisive politics and, frankly, with a chaser of sort of appeasing the business community, appeasing important constituencies who are aligned with the president.
And this is not the first time we've seen this, right? Going back years, you have President Trump or candidate Trump in the big picture wanting to demonize immigrants, talk about illegal immigration as a massive national security threat.
And then there's always the asterisk of, but the way, we probably don't want to send -- send the kids back. By the way, it is important that we are able to get, you know, cheap immigrant labor for your farms, right?
So in many ways it's an enormous tonal shift from the traditional sort of national Republican position of "We want to be tough on the border, but we want to, you know, have free movement of labor and markets up to a point."
But he just sort of reverses the emphasis entirely and makes it all about demonizing immigrants and never really gets to the policy that would probably pass Congress pretty easily if he ever threw himself behind it.
CAMEROTA: OK. Here's the kicker. White House Correspondents' Dinner. So you know all the controversy. Michelle Wolf, the comedian, said lots of biting -- had lots of biting jokes for lots of people. She spread it around. And it was, I think, difficult to watch Sarah Sanders sitting up on the dais and having to take the incoming of the biting humor. Did Michelle Wolf go too far?
AVLON: Look, I think whenever there's too much pearl clutching about comedians, it looks bad in the rear-view mirror. Remember, people were offended by Imus. Did he go too far? Possibly. Stephen Colbert. That looks pretty good in the rear-view mirror of history.
At the end of the day, if this is in defense of the First Amendment, then you back comedians. Some of them, you should probably, when you book it, you're aiming more for Mark Twain than insult comedy. Sometimes you're going to get insult comedy. But I do think getting too outraged about this the morning and days after doesn't necessarily age well.
BURNS: I'm -- I would kind of co-sign that. Look, I think this has become this annual ritual of performative self-loathing by the media. That there's always something. That if it's not the comedian going too far, then it's, "Oh, my goodness. You know, we're in a recession and look at how all these people are dressed."
Or "Oh, you know, the president is there, and we're there. And we're supposed to be tough on the president."
And look, I haven't been to the dinner in a number of years.
CAMEROTA: Are you boycotting it?
BURNS: No. "The New York Times" actually doesn't go to the dinner, just as a matter of policy. But no, I'm not personally sort of opposed to the dinner as an institution. But I think you've either got to go and just sort of roll with it or just skip it and don't obsess about it. But this sort is days-long self-flagellation, self- obsession, this is what bothers people about the media.
AVLON: "Performative self-loathing" is the greatest phrase. I love that.
CAMEROTA: It is.
CUOMO: That's what I go for every day.
AVLON: It's sort of -- it's your form of interpretive dance.
CUOMO: Finally I can put a label on it. Save me some therapy bills. "I know what it is!"
CAMEROTA: All right. On that note, gentlemen, thank you very much. So after walking his nomination to be V.A. secretary, Dr. Ronny
Jackson's future as the president's personal physician has now reportedly been decided. We'll tell you what's happening, next.
CAMEROTA: Multiple reports say that White House doctor Ronny Jackson will not return to his job as President Trump's personal physician. Jackson, as you know, withdrew his nomination to be secretary of Veterans Affairs after a string of damaging misconduct allegations surfaced, all of which Jackson denied.
So back with us now are John Avlon and Alex Burns. So listen, this whole Dr. Jackson megillah is really unfortunate. I mean, because we never -- there were allegations and there was reporting that many people, I think the number was 23, came forward, current and former staffers, with allegations. But they were never proven.
And now Pam Brown, one of our wonderful correspondents, says that a White House official has shown her official documents that seem to exonerate him on some of these charges, including that he wrecked a government vehicle during a drunk-driving accident. There is no evidence in the documents provided that Jackson was drinking on the job.
And so he withdrew his -- in other words, there was no hearing. We never got to the bottom of these allegations. And here's a guy who is not only out of the nomination for V.A. secretary but is no longer the president's physician.
AVLON: Right. Which is a job that by all accounts he was excellent at. Previous presidents as well testifying to how well he performed in that job is.
Look, you know, the nomination was misguided because it was sent up without any vetting by the president, impulsively. Then Tester and Isaakson got 23 people, all anonymous to the public, with a series of allegations that were really troubling.
Now the Secret Service is saying there's no record of some of these allegations. That is also troubling.
Now, should Jackson have recused himself -- you know, removed himself from this nomination? Should he have had his day in court? Signs point to yes. Should we be cautious about some of these allegations, especially when they fall apart? Yes. And then where does a man like Jackson go to get his reputation back?
[06:20:04] But this is still a problem created by Trump, without any vetting, nominating someone who didn't have the experience to run the V.A.
CUOMO: All right. So let's just have, to use Pompeo's expression, eyes wide open on this. People are going to blame the media and the Democrats for this and say these were false allegations. It was bogus; it was trumped up. Here's what we know. The FBI never finished its background check,
because this got rushed through. So they weren't able to dot all the "I's" and cross the "T's," one.
Two, second, absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence.
CUOMO: So we don't whether the record-keeping is right or not, which goes to your point about process. And you should have had these things more vetted.
But then the big question becomes, Alex, if they're all untrue, if you had the ability to rebut them in a way -- I wouldn't use the word "exonerate" but to show we don't have any proof of what you're suggesting, why didn't they stick by Jackson? It would have been a great opportunity for them to rub it in the face of their perceived enemies and say, "This was false, just like everything else we say is false."
BURNS: Of course. And look, this narrative out there that all the allegations have totally fallen apart, this is -- this is a bogus narrative in its own right.
That you have, yes, a bunch of allegations, anonymously sourced allegations that Senator Tester and the sort of relevant Senate committee Democrats have pushed out there. And some of those are unproven.
You also have a subset of those allegations that media, including CNN, has independently verified. These questions of loosely dispensing pills, giving out pills without prescriptions in the White House medical office. That stuff is serious.
So you have seen the White House kind of hone in on this one allegation about the car incident and say, "We have no record of that" and therefore...
CAMEROTA: I mean, there are so many allegations that it's hard to boil them all down. But those were two egregious ones. If you were in a drunk driving accident, surely, there would be evidence of it. OK? Surely, there's some insurance bills, or there's something. And they can't find those.
BURNS: We'll see if they can't find them. We'll see if there's an I.G. report on this, an inspector general's report. We will see what happens, you know, when it comes time to see whether, you know, Admiral Jackson remains in the White House medical unit, period. There's going not be some kind of process here. It's just not going to be one that plays out in front of the Senate. And that was a choice that the White House and Admiral Jackson made.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's move on. The Russian lawyer who visited Don Jr. in the White House, President Trump now has a new theory about what was behind this? Let's play what President Trump said over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Have you heard about the lawyer? For a year a woman lawyer -- she was, like "Oh, I know nothing. I know nothing." Now all of a sudden, she supposedly is involved with government. You know why? If she did that, because Putin and the group said, "You know, this Trump is killing us. Why don't you say that you're involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I'm confused.
AVLON: Well --
CAMEROTA: Am I the only one?
AVLON: NO. No, you're not.
CAMEROTA: What is he saying there?
AVLON: What he appears to be saying is that Veselnitskaya, the lawyer, was put forward now saying that she's been working as an informant to, basically, the A.G. of Russia. And that claim, which contradicts previous statements she made, is designed to sow the seeds of confusion in the United States.
CAMEROTA: It's working.
CUOMO: The "because," the "because" matters.
CUOMO: Because that is the beauty of the Trump spin on this, is he's hurting Russia so badly, he's so tough on Russia --
AVLON: So tough. Yes.
CUOMO: -- that Putin put this lawyer up now -- the key word is "now." To now say that she was working with Russia back then to try to hurt Trump, because Trump is hurting Russia so much. However, the "now" is the key. Because it can't be that back then, when she met with your son --
CAMEROTA: That would be bad.
CUOMO: -- and those other guys --
CAMEROTA: That would be bad.
CUOMO: She was promising Clinton stuff.
CAMEROTA: Right. CUOMO: If then he was to acknowledge it, then it makes the whole nefarious system of their interference real. And it's something he should have curiosity about.
CAMEROTA: I'm going to flow chart this for our next hour.
CUOMO: So he's trying to have it both ways here, Alex, as only he can. And of course, he's preaching to the converted there. They were going to say "amen" to whatever he says.
BURNS: Right. And you know, just as a political reporter, I do sort of step back from the details of the theory that he's putting out there and think, "My goodness. This guy is in front of a very friendly crowd, in front of -- in a state that he won with a bunch of important elections. Why are you even talking about this?" You know, where is the sort of internal regulator that says, "Yes, I'm under investigation. The Russia thing doesn't look awesome for me. But let me talk about stuff that is going well." Right?
AVLON: Why are you looking for an internal regulator at this point?
CUOMO: What was the phrase you used before? "Practiced self- flagellation"? Maybe that's what's going on here. Is that he's trying to --
CUOMO: Performative self-flagellation. I mean, look, what -- he stands up there, and he makes -- this is a convoluted theory, right?
CAMEROTA: You think?
CUOMO: He doesn't want to own what's going on with Russia and interference, but he wants to play it to advantage, if he can. He stands up on the stage and says, "I know things about Senator Jon Tester" --
CUOMO: "-- that if I said them, he would never get elected again."
Doesn't he have to say what those things are now? Don't you have to put up or shut up in that kind of situation?
[06:25:04] AVLON: Not if you're Donald Trump, because this is just an obvious outright threat that doesn't need to be based in anything, because it's about innuendo.
Look, Tester went forward with some disturbing allegations. They didn't help Jackson's nomination. But his Republican colleague on the Senate, Johnny Isaakson from Georgia, had the same concerns. And thinks, by the way, that Tester performed appropriately.
So look, Tester, has won tough elections in Montana before. He's won them in presidential years when Mitt Romney won the state by 15 points. He was re-elected. So this is -- you know, let's have this fight. We'll play out over the fall in Montana. But this is a pure threat.
CUOMO: So the man who is comfortable saying they were dancing on the roofs after 9/11 and that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, he doesn't want to talk about Jon Tester's allegations, though, because they'd be too damaging.
CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. You just found the first contradiction in the Trump administration? We've been looking for this.
CUOMO: Hold on. I just like to put it out there for those keeping score.
CUOMO: The tally is high.
CAMEROTA: Alex Burns, John Avlon, thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Two deadly bombings to tell you about that just tore through Afghanistan's capital city. Dozens were killed and injured. There is an increasing threat there to all citizenry and journalists. We have breaking details next.