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President Trump Makes Controversial Statements at Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin; Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci Suggests President Trump Change Course on Russia Policy. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 17, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who really did fire back at the president, his office put out this statement. It said "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy." So how will the White House spin this? Is there a way to spin this? They have some talking points sent to some of their allies that falsely claims the president has, quote, "repeatedly believed U.S. intelligence agencies" despite constantly undermining them.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now to talk about all of this, we have former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Anthony, thank you so much for being here.
President Trump said a lot of things yesterday, and one of the things he said is he holds both the United States and Russia responsible for the election meddling. Why would he say ever that?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Let's step back for a second. Let me explain what I think he's trying to do and let me also explain why it's not working and why I think he has to reverse course immediately, and he's got to get out there as soon as possible before the concrete starts to set on this.
CAMEROTA: It's starting. Already Republicans in Congress are starting to speak out more than we have heard.
SCARAMUCCI: Here what I would say. If you're loyal to the president -- which I happen to be very loyal to the president -- loyalty right now requires you to tell the truth and sit with him and explain to him the optics of the situation, why the optics are bad, the strategy in terms of trying to get along with Vladimir Putin and deploying a strategy of going against the intelligence agencies is very bad. And then the last thing as it relates to the execution of what you really want in the world, which is global peace and prosperity, you have got to back up the U.S. intelligence agencies here.
CAMEROTA: Why isn't he doing that?
SCARAMUCCI: While I think the -- again, I can only explain it from my vantage point. I think that he's looking at the situation as a contrarian, as an entrepreneur, and he wants to have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin, and he wants to suppress the anxiety and the antagonism between the two nations that have been present for the last five or six years.
CAMEROTA: Why does he seem to want to have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin over a good relationship with his own intelligence agencies?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, that's where I think the dilemma is. I think that he's made a very big mistake here. He has got to reverse course immediately.
CAMEROTA: What would that look like? Reversing course immediately.
SCARAMUCCI: Do you live in the city?
CAMEROTA: I live outside the city.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, so in the city about three or four years ago a couple police officers unfortunately were killed. The entire police department turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio.
CAMEROTA: I do remember that.
SCARAMUCCI: He reversed course. Mayor de Blasio and I are from different parties, I'm not in love with the guy, but his course reversal was very, very smart. We have the lowest crime rate now in the city.
CAMEROTA: Fine, so just show me what that would look like today. What could President Trump come out today and say and do that you think would be effective?
SCARAMUCCI: His smartest, most loyal aides and his smartest most trusted advisers that are super loyal to him have to get to him right now and say, listen, this is a grave mistake. You have got the German foreign minister speaking out against us, the optics of the situation, you know you're an aesthetic guy and a media guy, the optics of the situation are a disaster. I understand the course objective but we have got to change strategy.
CAMEROTA: But again, so what today could the president say to the American people that would allow us to unhear what we heard yesterday?
SCARAMUCCI: I would be issuing a statement. If you go back to Charlottesville, the president had it right in the early part, he came back to the White House, he issued a statement after Charlottesville. Then he went to the press conference in Trump Tower --
CAMEROTA: And blamed both sides.
SCARAMUCCI: And he made that statement which I think was a regrettable statement. But he's got to get out there right now. This is a --
CAMEROTA: And just craft that statement for me. Just tell me the statement that would make us unhear that he blamed America.
SCARAMUCCI: I think the statement is very simple that after talking to Dan Coats and my team, the evidence is obviously irrefutable. We spent $30 billion acquiring this evidence. Men and women have lost their lives acquiring this intelligence. These are my people, I'm the commander-in-chief, I've looked at the evidence, and I misspoke at the press conference yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Why has he never said that?
SCARAMUCCI: I've been very tough on Russia.
CAMEROTA: Anthony, hold on a second. He's had 18 months to say something like that. Why has he never said that? Surely he knows what the intel looks like.
SCARAMUCCI: Because the president is sore about the questions of the legitimacy of his electoral success, and the president is conflating the two issues. He's tying the collusion accusation to the irrefutable evidence that the Russians meddled in the election. You see what's happening? So by conjoining those two things he's getting very frustrated and he's getting emotionally charged.
CAMEROTA: Hold on, I have a question. Is it possible he's putting his own ego over the United States and our reputation?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, that's what -- I was just going to say. And I want to start out by saying any time I've put my own ego in place, particularly in the White House, that's one of the reasons why I lost my job, frankly, when Reince Priebus was coming after me and blocked my OPL position and the president eventually gave me the comms job position, I had my ego in place, and it caused me to do things that were mistaken and I lost my job.
[08:05:07] CAMEROTA: And that's what he's doing?
SCARAMUCCI: And so I'm here to tell you any time somebody puts their ego and their pride in the situation, they can get emotionally charged, and they can make tactical and strategic mistakes. And I believe he did that in Helsinki yesterday. And I believe honest people inside the White House that love the country, love the president, and are loyal to the president will look him straight in the face and say, Mr. President, this is absolutely the wrong strategy.
CAMEROTA: Like who? I'm just curious, who do you think is going to say that to the president?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. I don't want to say somebody's name, because here's the problem, some of the people in the White House really like me and there's one or two people in the White House that really don't like me. So I suggest somebody's name and they go on the most wanted list.
CAMEROTA: I understand why you're in a pickle. But the reason I want you to say somebody's name is because we want some accountability. So here's the deal. Yesterday Bill Shine, whom you and I both know very well, the head of the new communications, here he is, the head of the communications now in the White House has basically your job, he was with the president in Helsinki. Sarah Sanders, you saw here there, she was with the president. You think that they have any control over what the president says? He talked about America's foolishness and stupidity even on their watch.
SCARAMUCCI: I don't think they have control. And it's not really even about control. What it is about is trusting your inner self and telling the truth. We read in first grade the story about the emperor not having any clothes, and if the emperor has no clothes you have got to be the one person in the room that says I'm sorry. I'll speak for myself. I spent two years on the campaign, I gave several hundred thousand dollars to the PAC, the campaign, and the inauguration.
CAMEROTA: And you lost your job.
SCARAMUCCI: And I lost my job after 11 days, and by the way, it hurt my company. So I'm sitting here as a loyal guy --
CAMEROTA: I understand that.
SCARAMUCCI: I've got to switch tactics here. It's not working.
CAMEROTA: But who is going to tell the emperor he has no clothes.
SCARAMUCCI: Inside the White House?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't know the answer to that, but I do have a close relationship with many people inside that White House.
CAMEROTA: It doesn't seem like anybody says this to the president.
SCARAMUCCI: Here's the problem. What's happened is because there's been so many firings, there's been so many defections and there's been some impetuous activity in terms of the way people get fired, people like their jobs, they like the access. That's part of Washington which I don't like, maybe you like. I don't like that part of Washington. And so what happens is you're like, OK, wait a minute, I'm going to keep my mouth shut here and I'm going to go into the path of the sycophancy here.
SCARAMUCCI: And this is that absolute wrong situation to be doing that, absolute wrong situation to be doing that.
SCARAMUCCI: So Rand Paul is an example. I get where Rand Paul is coming from, and I, too, want peace, and I do want to figure out a way to have mutual interests with Russia. I totally understand the issues related to Russia and the threat of Russia as a nuclear power, but this is absolutely wrong. And you have got to reverse course immediately.
CAMEROTA: OK, so you're recommending that the president put out a statement today and say what you said, say what you recommended that he say and unequivocally for the first time say Russia --
SCARAMUCCI: Maybe not say what I'm say. He's got smarter people in the room than me. He should sit down with his team. He's got some great people in there. You mentioned Bill Shine. These are great people. Sit down, formulate a statement, reverse course immediately --
CAMEROTA: Why haven't they done that? It's 8:08 in the morning.
SCARAMUCCI: They haven't because I think, number one, there's a general reluctance for the White House to ever backtrack on certain things.
CAMEROTA: And every apologize for anything.
SCARAMUCCI: There's a general reluctance to apologize, although he did apologize to Theresa May at the press conference the other day. I think you caught that. He did apologize after the "Access Hollywood" tape.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that we're going to hear an apology today?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't know, but let me just give you these other two points. He walked back the child separation policy, and he redecided to bring the flag downs half-mast after the "Gazette" shooting. --
CAMEROTA: So occasionally he reverses course and you think that today he will see that?
SCARAMUCCI: He has to reverse. He's got to reverse course, because here's what's going to happen. If he doesn't reverse course he's creating unnatural alliances against himself. He's got Republican Party members that want to support him that are going to switch on him now and they're going to conjoin themselves to the Democrats, and he doesn't want that right now. He has got so many things going on so well in the economy, so many things going on so well in terms of what he's doing right, this is a glaring optical mistake, this is a glaring strategic mistake.
CAMEROTA: Is it a glaring belief system mistake?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't think so.
CAMEROTA: Does he believe -- let me play for everybody --
SCARAMUCCI: I don't think so. I think he's conflating the issue.
CAMEROTA: He said both sides were to blame. This is him yesterday in Helsinki, and I just want to play the president's own words so you can tell me if this is what he believes. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we are all to blame. I do feel we have both made some mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I remember when President Obama said anything mildly critical of the United States, I remember the hue and cry among FOX News and among Republicans who said he was part of the blame America first crowd. That's blaming America first, isn't it?
[08:10:13] SCARAMUCCI: OK, but let me just -- again, I'll explain it if you want to hear it. What he's basically trying to say there is that the tension between us and the Russians in his mind is completely unnecessary at the threshold level that it's at now and that there's blame on both sides to try to bring the tension down. That's what he's basically trying to say.
CAMEROTA: Because it sounded a lot like he was saying that America, the victim of election hacking, was to blame.
SCARAMUCCI: Alisyn, I understand that. That's one of the reasons why he's got to walk this stuff back. But I think what he's doing right now is he's conflating the two issues of collusion and the Russians actually meddling in the election, and he's saying, wait a minute, people are going to say that my electoral success is delegitimized by all this. That's the expression of the frustration. That's where he's coming from. He's got to knock it off.
CAMEROTA: I understand that, but, again, the office of the presidency has to be bigger than any one person's ego, as you pointed out. Something else interesting happened yesterday -- or I think this was either Sunday or Monday. CBS asked the president about Dan Coats, the DNI, his warning. He is sounding the warning bells, and what he said is he sees red lights flashing about what's to come for the midterms and 2020, the way red lights were flashing before 9/11. It's that dire of a situation. There's that many warning signs that Russia is going to do it again.
The president was asked about this. You know what he said to CBS? Well, I don't know, I'm going to have to look into that. He doesn't know whether or not Russian is going to try to look into that? How can the president of the United States not know that, Anthony?
SCARAMUCCI: I'm not here to speak on behalf of him in terms of what's inside his mind. I'm here to offer an objective, someone that's loyal to the administration, someone that tried to help him become president, and someone who actually sacrificed a lot, frankly, to have that happen.
CAMEROTA: So why are you still loyal? You have sacrificed so much. Why are you still loyal?
SCARAMUCCI: Here's the reason. He, in my opinion, if you look at the economy, you look at the progress that we've made on policy, and you look at economic growth and opportunity in the inner cities, African- American unemployment, Hispanic-American unemployment, and you look at the general direction the country is going in, it's very, very good. If you look at this specific issue, this specific issue is very, very bad. And if he doesn't switch course, what will happen is he will lose people that want to support him.
And so I'm a very loyal guy. When my friends are in trouble I like running towards my friends, not away from them. I've always done that in my life. We've talked about Michael Cohen on this show. I feel that way about Michael Cohen.
CAMEROTA: You've done a lot of running towards the White House.
SCARAMUCCI: I have. I have. But this is a major mistake, Alisyn. And so if they don't reverse -- this is not a mistake of words, by the way. This is not a bad P.R. kerfuffle. This is a mistake of strategy. This is a mistake of execution. This is a mistake of thinking, and you have your ego involved. And let me tell you another thing you're doing. You're conflating the issue of Russian collusion with Russian meddling. Don't conflate those two issues.
I believe that the president didn't collude and I accept him at his word there, but I also believe Dan Coats that the Russian government and Russian intelligence officers are trying to disrupt our democracy and they're trying to make Americans lose trust in the faith of their democratic institutions.
CAMEROTA: And the president needs to do something about it.
SCARAMUCCI: He's got to speak out about it, and he has got to reverse course immediately. And I'm telling you, if you don't reverse course immediately, what ends up happening is unnatural alliances are going to build up in Washington and outside of Washington.
CAMEROTA: Listen, you're already hearing Republicans speak out in a way I'm not sure they have. Paul Ryan has --
SCARAMUCCI: Don't miss what the German foreign minister said. The president said he's having a great time in NATO and NATO loves him and they love, don't miss what the German foreign minister says.
CAMEROTA: Which was?
SCARAMUCCI: The German foreign minister said we're now worried about the United States and we're now thinking about the United States as us and them being in a potentially adversarial relationship.
CAMEROTA: And that's very troubling.
SCARAMUCCI: Very bad for the United States. And I want to say one last thing, and I know you have to go to break, but you have to understand the reason why we're spending more money on the military, that was a strategic decision that was made 75 years ago to make sure the United States had military superiority over all other nations.
CAMEROTA: Tell that to the president.
SCARAMUCCI: I think it's important for the American people to understand. When he says pay their bills, I get that if you want to make an adjustment to the new world, the post-World War II order.
CAMEROTA: It's the president who is upsetting that world order.
SCARAMUCCI: Alisyn, we made a decision to spend more money so that we would be the military superior nation because we believed in our benevolence and our democratic system.
CAMEROTA: If we had more power we could call more shots, and President Trump is changing that.
SCARAMUCCI: So it was worth that money, Alisyn, and the people are not understanding that.
CAMEROTA: When you say the people, is that a euphemism for President Trump?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think the president -- I don't know who's talking to him, OK, but Jim -- Secretary Mattis should say, listen, in 1945, '46, we --
SCARAMUCCI: We demilitarized Japan. We demilitarized Germany.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I know all of this history.
SCARAMUCCI: We put the system in place --
CAMEROTA: It's President Trump who's --
SCARAMUCCI: And we spent the extra money so that we wouldn't have to worry about these guys having military --
COOPER: Maybe he's listening to you this morning but I got to go.
SCARAMUCCI: Adversaries turn into allies and allies turn into adversaries.
CAMEROTA: You're seeing that.
SCARAMUCCI: We've got to be careful.
CAMEROTA: We're seeing that happening, Anthony Scaramucci. We appreciate you bringing us a window into the White House. Thank you very much.
SCARAMUCCI: It's great to be here, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, such important words, Anthony Scaramucci saying not a mistake of words from the president but this was a choice. He chose Vladimir Putin. This isn't a communications issue. This is a choice, this is where his heart is.
So what will Congress do about this? We have the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner who has seen so much of this intelligence firsthand. What does he make of this? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:20:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Trump refusing to stand by his own intelligence community that concluded unanimously that Russia attacked the 2016 election.
Joining us now is Senator Mark Warner, he's the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election.
Senator, thanks for being here.
SEN. MARK WARNER, RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Your thoughts on what we witnessed yesterday in Helsinki?
WARNER: Well, first of all, I want to comment on your previous guest who I guess is a spokesman for the White House.
CAMEROTA: Well, not exactly. I mean, he's a friend of the president's and a loyal supporter --
WARNER: Let's take --
CAMEROTA: And not an official spokesman.
WARNER: But let's put in contrast what he was in effect saying and obviously from some of Trump's comments last night doubling down on his comments in Helsinki where he applauds Putin. Obviously Trump was in a very weak position but the thing about NATO, the thing about a relationship with NATO and the EU, these are not only defense alliances, but these are alliances of democracies.
We all believe in rule of law. We believe in a free press. We believe in one man, one vote. These are not values that Russia represents and, frankly, these are not values it seems like Mr. Trump is very comfortable with and one of the things I think it's going to be incumbent upon Congress to do is push back very strongly against this misrepresentation of who America is.
Now Congress did this because we were nervous before Trump went off on this visit. 98 senators voted to reaffirm our commitment to NATO. Obviously Trump still did not hear that message and I was sitting yesterday with parliamentarians from other nations at the Atlantic Council who had been attacked by Russia in their election processes as well so not only is Trump rebutting our own intelligence community, he's rebutting the experience of many other nations in Europe who have been victims of Russian aggression and for that matter even our American tech companies, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, have all acknowledged that Russians misused their platform to manipulate our elections in 2016.
CAMEROTA: So where does that leave us, Senator? What can Congress do? Are you hearing anything different from your Republican colleagues yesterday than you've heard previously at things you objected to the president saying? Has something shifted yesterday?
WARNER: I think yesterday may end up being the defining moment of the Trump presidency. This was such a pitiful performance and such a degrading effort by this president and frankly was an embarrassment to all Americans. For that matter an embarrassment of friends of America all over the world.
So I think if the president is not willing to step up, whether it's a sense of the Senate, whether it's some efforts, there's bipartisan legislation that Marco Rubio has proposed that would put automatic sanctions in place on countries if they interfere in our elections. There are a variety of options. But I think some of our Republican colleagues need to do more than put out strong statements.
We need to act to show the rest of the world that America is willing to stand up to the kind of bullying tactics that Putin employs across to Europe, and frankly the kind of bullying tactics that showed a very weak Donald Trump and a very strong Vladimir Putin yesterday.
CAMEROTA: One of the things that you said that you're concerned about is what went on during the portion that we didn't see, that wasn't televised, the stuff that was behind closed doors, the stuff that President Trump said he didn't want his top aides in there, he didn't want State Department officials. It was just mano-a-mano. It was Vladimir Putin and it was President Trump, and there were two interpreters, we understand, who were in the room.
You would like to see notes from inside there?
WARNER: I would like to see even the notes -- I would like to see if there are notes from the American translator about what went on.
CAMEROTA: I don't think they takes notes.
WARNER: I mean, if this is --
CAMEROTA: I don't -- the translators just translate in real time, right?
WARNER: No, no, listen. There are -- there are oftentimes translators that will take some notes to make sure they've got a translation right. We'll have to see what's there. But if this was the performance of an American president in public, in a press conference and from the world, kowtowing to Vladimir Putin, lord knows what he said in private. Vladimir Putin is a trained KGB agent. Vladimir Putin, 18 years on
the international stage. Vladimir Putin has a reputation for having a remarkable memory. I can even imagine Putin coming in with maps of Ukraine, maps of Syria, great knowledge of details.
This president, even as allies would acknowledge, just kind of wings it and I think this president could have been taken advantage of repeatedly and we won't know yet Putin, and I would imagine knowing the Russian services, I imagine Putin has some record on what went on in that sessions.
[08:25:08] And I'm afraid that he may be able to use that again to hold over this president.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So you're --
WARNER: And this is one of the reasons --
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, you're hoping that there are notes. How would Congress get their hands on those notes?
WARNER: Well, we have a whole process in terms of what's called the Gang of Eight of the top bipartisan leaders, the Democratic and Republican leadership, leaders in the intelligence community. I can only hope there are notes because my fear is otherwise some of the things that may have gone on, we may see only the Russian versions of what went on that meeting on a going-forward basis.
This is why the Mueller investigation has to finish. This is why the Senate Intelligence Committee has to -- investigation has to finish. This is why we continue to see more and more indictments not only of Russians in the last few days but I think in terms of the indictments yesterday. Indications that Americans may be soon named as well. We are -- we're not done with this process.
CAMEROTA: When is the Senate Intel Committee going to finish its work?
WARNER: Listen, I want to get it done, and I am as anxious to get all the facts out as anyone else and get this behind us but what we continue to discover and as we've seen more and more of these indictments from Mueller roll out, there are more and more avenues that have to be pursued.
CAMEROTA: Senator Mark Warner, thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much for being on NEW DAY.
WARNER: Thank you, Alisyn.
BERMAN: The president of the United States told the world his own director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, he doesn't take his any word any higher than that of Vladimir Putin. So what should Dan Coats do? Should he resign? We're going to speak to someone who served in a presidential Cabinet, and helped keep America safe after September 11th, Tom Ridge joins us next.