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Trump Slams Russian Hoax; Children Remain in Government Custody; July Jobs Report; Democrats Divided over Party's Direction. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired August 3, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: The Russians didn't actually sway the election, so why should we spend more money on it, even though they're still trying?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Yes, I heard that. To me, that was a very disturbing comment. The reason is that we know that in 20 something states they were actually able to crack into the voter registration rolls. You can wreak havoc if you change somebody's address or their birth date or their name by a few letters. So, to me, that's -- I mean they're basically right there. You know, so I didn't understand his comment.

But in terms of the resources that we need, after the hanging chad episode in the 2000 election, there was basically double, I think, or more in terms of the amount of resources. Hundreds of millions of dollars that was committed back then to election security. And that's when a lot of counties and states updated their voting equipment, switching from paper ballots to what we have now, which is a lot of electronic machines. So there's been about, I think, 350 million or so that's been committed, which is a good start, but we need much more.

The other disturbing part is that there's no federal election law that sets even a basic level of election security or minimum cyber security protections for our voting machines. And a few the states we know, a handful of the states, have not come forward to the federal government and asked for help in terms of the federal resources that are available to help shore up election security. So that is a big concern.

GREGORY: Let me move on to the question of immigration and what's been happening with these folks, including children, who have separated from their parents. The administration has made a couple of points. One, that they're really are going to task social service groups, the ACLU, with helping to reunite these families, putting the onus on them, and also may be changing the rule that would allow the government to keep the families together for a longer period of time so that you don't have this forced separation. Where do you come down on the best way forward?

CASTRO: Well, first, I'm astonished because the Trump administration told members of Congress directly and really told the American people that they knew where every parent and every child was located. Now they're basically outsourcing the task of finding some of these parents over to the ACLU and perhaps other groups. That, to me, is an astonishing failure by the Trump administration, by our federal government.

Number one, they lied to us. And, second, they were so incredibly sloppy that they didn't keep track of the parents and the children. So that's a big concern.

To your second -- the second part of your question, I don't think that indefinite detention, keeping people, you know, for a year or more is the answer to this.

GREGORY: Five hundred and seventy-two kids still separated from their families. The difference -- children separated from their parents. The difficulty that the ACLU or others working on behalf of these children will face without the government's help to reunify them, but is this an admission that the government simply has lost track?

CASTRO: Yes, it pretty much is. That's what it sounds like. It sounds like kind of a de facto admission, hey, you know, we don't know where these people are and can you help us out. And the only thing that is missing there is a kind of a plea, will you please help us do this because we don't know where they are. But that seems to be the situation. And that is a horrendous way for the Trump administration to be operating and to be treating human beings.

GREGORY: Congressman Joaquin Castro coming to us from the Alamo this morning in San Antonio. Thank you, congressman, very much.

CASTRO: Thank you.


The new jobs report is just out. Is it good news or bad news for workers? We'll have the numbers for you.


[08:38:21] CAMEROTA: Some breaking economic news. The Labor Department releasing the July jobs report.

CNN's Alison Kosik is here with more.

How's it looking, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, it is looking like a bit of a slowdown for the number of jobs that were added in the month of July, 157,000 jobs created. That was less than expectations. Though we are seeing big revisions higher for May and June, that's a plus 59,000.

As far as the unemployment rate goes, we're seeing -- we're seeing it tick down 3.9 percent. And what that essentially shows is that the labor market is getting tighter. Unfortunately, we're not seeing it in wages. Wages at a 2.7 percent annual rate. That was within expectations. But here's the thing, in good economic times in the past, like we're having now, we've seen greater wage growth. Anywhere between 3 percent and 4 percent. So we're not seeing that.

Where is the hiring happening? The hiring's happening in business. An addition of 51,000 jobs. Manufacturing, 37,000. Health care, 34,000. Pausing on manufacturing here because we're not seeing any impact yet of those tariffs imposed by the Trump administration or China affecting jobs in the manufacturing sector.

We are seeing futures get hit, though, because this jobs report is a miss with 157,000 jobs created in July. It is a miss of expectations. We're seeing a flat open to the start of the trading day.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for breaking all of that down for us now.

KOSIK: You got it.

GREGORY: Thank you.

A kayaking accident left a man paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors were unsure if he'd ever be able to walk again. But that all changed when he met this week's hero. CNN's hero Amanda Boxville (ph). You could call her the bionic woman. Watch.



My goal has always been to make a full recovery. And I think a lot of people thought that was farfetched.

[08:40:08] It was a lot of hard work. I remember when I made this first couple of steps. That's when I knew that making a full recovery was possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's living the miracle of what we all want, what we all aspire for, to stand up and to do it on our own. He's doing it.

I haven't witnessed that too often in my lifetime.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that's remarkable.

GREGORY: Always great. Always great.

CAMEROTA: That is a remarkable story.

GREGORY: To see Nate's story and learn about Amanda's program, go to

CAMEROTA: OK, so what's happening in the Democratic Party? Is the far left somehow fighting the center? What is this doing to the party? What does it mean for the midterms? David Axelrod has some thoughts on all of this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:14] CAMEROTA: Let's get a status report on where the Democrats are today. Are they picking up any steam ahead of the midterm elections? And are they moving to the left to succeed or the center?

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports from New Orleans where some 2020 Democratic hopefuls are gathering.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The yearly gathering of progressives, Netroots Nation, attracting the president's biggest detractors.

TOM STEYER, WANTS TRUMP IMPEACHED: He is reckless, dangerous, and lawless. I think that he is a threat to the United States, to our people and our democracy.

MARQUEZ: One star of the show --

STEYER: Why is he still president?

MARQUEZ: California's billionaire Tom Steyer, who has spent millions running adds nationwide urging the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why hasn't Congress started impeachment proceedings?

MARQUEZ: All the immigration talk now worries mainstream establishment Democrats.

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Running a hypothetical campaign right now about having an impeachment vote when we could be spending that time and energy revealing to the American people how corrupt this administration is, I don't think that that's a productive way to go right now.

MARQUEZ: The fear, talking impeachment before the special counsel's investigation is complete could turn off independents and moderates ahead of the midterms and beyond.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Is there any concern that that fissure between the far left and the center is going to hurt candidates in November and possibly the presidential contenders in 2020?

STEYER: I don't think we should be quite so clever about pollsters and I think that the people -- the political establishment in Washington, D.C. should get back to much simpler question, which is, are we telling the truth about the most important things in America? Are we standing up for the American people?

MARQUEZ (voice over): Potential 2020 contenders making their way to net roots, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Voting and supporting for Abdul El-Sayed for governor is the right thing to do.

MARQUEZ: And self-professed Democratic socialist, candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset an establishment Democrat in her primary and is now stumping for progressives nationwide.

AMY RICKLES CONLEY, NETROOTS NATION: We don't believe that the way forward and the way to win for progressives and for Democrats is to go moderate. We want to see candidates who are bold, who are visionary and who speak to the people.

MARQUEZ: Republicans painting Netroots as now mainstream. In talking points sent to reporters, the Republican National Committee called Netroots a formerly fringe far left progressive movement that has become a key force in moving the Democratic Party further left.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Do you think the Democratic Party has moved to the left or is this just a more open tent these days?

CONLEY: I do think that it's moving more and more left. I don't think that progressivism or liberalism is a far out idea anymore.


CAMEROTA: Thanks, Miguel Marquez.

GREGORY: Yes. So, how will Democrats decide on their party's direction? We want to get "The Bottom Line" this morning with CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.

Ax, great to see you.

I --


GREGORY: We only have about 27 questions to get to with you to kind of sum all of what's happened this week up.

AXELROD: All right, I'll give you yes/no answers.

GREGORY: Yes, well, that's perfect.

I am -- we're both fascinated by the state of the Democratic Party, whether it's views on impeachment, whether how far progressive to go in the party, all of those strains. And it strikes me that in opposition to a president, I think back to Obama, and it took eight years of opposition to Bush for Democrats ultimately to get it right because it didn't work in 2004. It took until Barack Obama to kind of get for that opposition to really gel.

What are you seeing in the Democratic Party and does it look like it's coherent enough to take on Trump, as they would like that do?

AXELROD: Yes, you know, first of all, you know, George W. Bush didn't win by all that much in 2004. That was a very close election. As you know, Ohio decided that election. But leaving that aside, there is a lot of energy and you saw it --

you've seen it from the day after the inauguration and the big protest that has translated into higher voter turnout, larger numbers of candidates, you know, grass-roots contributions and so on. And then in the elections themselves, Democrats have been pretty successful in flipping seats. So there are all kinds of objective indications.

You know, there's a special election next week in Ohio in a district that Trump won by 11 points. That's a plus seven Republican district in which it is a neck and neck race. These are indications of something going on out there. So I do think that there is a tailwind behind Democrats. That doesn't guarantee anything and it will be the presidential candidate who defines the image and the direction of the party in 2020. That's never decided in off-year elections where -- because we're a big, vast diverse country.

[08:50:27] Conor Lamb won a great race in Pennsylvania running with a different tone and tenor than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents her district very, very well. And so we -- you know, it's the presidential candidate who will define what the party looks like going into that election.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But stick with the midterms for a second. And that dynamic that you just laid out between Conor Lamb and Ocasio-Cortez is exactly the one that we want to talk about because there seems to be this struggle, is the Democratic Party moving farther to the left? Will it be a far left liberal party or will it be a, you know, blue dog centrist party? Isn't there room enough -- I mean are these -- are these mutually exclusive?

AXELROD: Yes, well, I mean --

CAMEROTA: Can -- do Democrats have to decide, I guess is my question.

AXELROD: Well, this is a big -- well, look, I think that, you know, she would not have -- she would not have won in Alabama where Doug Jones won or in Pennsylvania where Conor Lamb won. So I think that you have the greatest success when your candidates reflect your district.

I think there is a broad consensus among Democrats on certain issues. Certainly Trump is one. But that something has -- that you have -- we have to do something about health care, that we are -- there is a concern about income inequality and job insecurity. You know, these kinds of issues are fundamental to what Democrats believe in.

At the bottom line, they believe government has to play a role. That we can't withdraw. And that's something that unites Democrats. There are -- there are -- there are big differences over tactics. But I think this is an overblown thing (ph). I'm not -- I don't want to be Pollyannaish, but you saw what happened in Virginia last year. Very -- very, very vigorous race between a candidate who ran from the left, Tom Perriello, and Ralph Northam, who was more of a center left Democrat. Northam won the primary and Democrats united and he won a larger-than-expected victory. And I think a lot of it has to do with Trump. I think there is a sense of urgency among Democrats to win these races because there's great concern about the direction in which this president is leading.

GREGORY: Well, let's talk about that, Ax, because you're very concerned about what the administration is doing to roll back particular policies of the Obama administration on the environment, I think about fuel standards and their announcement that's come out in the last couple days.


GREGORY: Combatting climate change. You know, EPA regulations.

So this is -- one of the reasons why conservatives ultimately fell in line for Trump is that there is a different view about what government should do, how it should balance economic interests with environmental concerns.


GREGORY: How it should intervene in the economy. Whether there should be universal health care. You are seeing this play out right now with a president who is also relying, as Obama did, on executive rules, executive power to change the direction. But you don't like the direction it's going in now?

AXELROD: Well, look, you know, let me make clear, and I've said this before here and elsewhere, it's not -- I don't care about the Obama legacy. History will take care of that. It's the practical implications of these policies.

You guys read news and so you're covering stories at the same time the administration rolling back these measures that are meant to try and combat climate change. And, you know, these -- these runaway wildfires in the west and these floods in the east, there are real implications to these policies.

I mean you look at these wildfires. I mean Trump is literally Nero (ph) while the west burns. And that's what concerns me, the real life implications of this. And what's interesting on health care, you mentioned health care, is the Affordable Care Act has never been more popular. There is a real urgency about health care in this country. It's rising to the top of the list again of issues of concern among people. And you don't hear Republicans talking anymore about the Affordable Care Act as much. You don't hear them talking about repeal and replace as much because, you know, we see the uninsured rising again. We've seen premiums jacked up largely because of the administration's actions.

And so, you know, I -- I'm not worried about legacies, I'm worried about the impact of policies. And ultimately people -- you're right, David, there's this philosophical difference. Ultimately when people vote, they're going to have to judge, are the policies of this administration helping them -- helping them? Are their wages going up? Are their lives better? If the answer is no, even if the -- even if their -- the GDP is up and Wall Street's doing well, then they're going to have a political problem.


[08:55:10] CAMEROTA: Very quickly David, we only have 30 seconds left, what did you think when you saw all of those national security heads come out and take the podium and try to sound the alarm of what's happening current day, now, as we speak about Russian interference?

AXELROD: Well, we have a bipolar administration. We have a president saying one thing and his administration saying another. It's important that they did what they did. It's also important for the president to stop undercutting that message and sending signals to Moscow that the back door is going to be open.

GREGORY: Is it -- is it -- do you think we can safeguard the country well enough with this bipolar existence?

AXELROD: I think it puts us in jeopardy. I have confidence in people who were standing on that platform. I think they were serious people. They've been attacked by this president as well. But when the president speaks, people listen, and Vladimir Putin listens as well. We need to be -- we need to move forward as one. And it's concerning and bewildering that this president is willing to undercut these folks on what is a major, major concern for our democracy.

CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line." Have a wonderful weekend.

GREGORY: Thanks. See you, David.

AXELROD: Have a great weekend, you guys.

CAMEROTA: And it's been wonderful to work with you. Have a fantastic weekend.

GREGORY: Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it. You too.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Erica Hill picks up right after the break.


[09:00:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.