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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House Rejects Ties Between Rhetoric And Violence; Pipe Bomb Suspect And Synagogue Shooting Suspect In Court; White House Says Media Not Trump Fueling Division; Synagogue Suspect Could Face Death Penalty. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 29, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, to major suspects in the hate crimes rock the nation, make their first appearances in court today. What's behind the rising tide of hate and anti-Sematism in America?
Plus, President Trump blames the media for the anger in the country, labeling us the true enemy of the people. Does he really think he's rhetoric plays no role at all?
And a former first daughter says it's time to stop asking Trump to provide comfort after catastrophic events.
Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, taking zero responsibility. The President backed by his White House staff showing no signs of changing his combative tone as the nation looks it, how divided and ugly it is out there on the wake of what seemed domestic terrorist attacks in Pittsburgh, from Florida and in Kentucky.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today in a familiar move, pointed the finger back at reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The very first thing that the President did was condemn the attacks both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the President and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts that is outrageous, that that would be the first reaction of so many people across this country. The - I'm not finished. The only person responsible for paring it out, either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out.
It's not the President, no more than it was Bernie Sanders fault for the individual who shot up a baseball field of Congressional Republicans. You can't start putting responsibility of individuals on anybody but the individual who carries out the crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: To be as clear responsible Sarah Sanders is correct. Only the alleged synagogue shooter and only the alleged bomb maker are responsible for their actions full stop. But it's also true that President Trump despite occasional efforts to unite the nation in the wake of these incidences also taken clear steps to continue to divide us.
Today tweeting, "There's a great anger in our country caused in part by inaccurate and even fraudulent reporting of the news. The fake news media, the true enemy of the people must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately and fairly." Calling the media, the enemy of the people, again, just days after pipe bombs were sent to CNN by one of Trump's supporters' hours after that tweet then other suspicious package arrived at CNN.
The President's attitude about how his supporters behave and his refusal to take any responsibility for what he tells them is not new. Listen to then candidate Trump refusing to even condemn the anti- Semites who attacked a reporter who wrote an article about Melania Trump that the then candidate and his wife didn't care for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Some of your supporters have viciously attacked this woman Julia Ioffe with anti-Semitic attacks, death threats. These people get so angry, what's your message to these people when something like that happens?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I haven't read the article, but I heard it was very inaccurate article and heard it was a nasty article. I'm married to a woman who's a very fine woman --
BLITZER: These anti-Semitic --
TRUMP: I don't know about that. I don't know anything about that. You mean fans of mine?
BLITZER: But your message to the -- supposed fans of yours posting these you know very angry.
TRUMP: I know nothing about it. You'll have to talk to them about it.
BLITZER: But your message to these fans is.
TRUMP: I don't have a message to the fans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And that's basically been the president's attitude. His supporters are responsible for their own actions and he is not accountable in anyway.
The philosophical question on the table here is why do we, as a society, consider it important? Why is it a standard for politicians to not inflame passions among supporters, using demonizing language or concocting conspiracy theories or throwing around ugly rhetoric?
Why is that our expectation? Doesn't it have something to do with concerns that maybe some supporters will take things too far? That was what Senator Marco Rubio was concerned about in March 2016, talking about his then rival, then candidate Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: I know people like it that Donald Trump says whatever he wants and what they feel like saying. But presidents cannot say anything they want. Presidents have to understand that their words have consequences, often life and death consequences for real people in the real world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Last week, after the pipe bombs but before the ugly attacks in Kentucky and Pittsburgh, former Governor Mitt Romney tweeted, "Disgusting vile threats and actions against fellow Americans and our institutions are sadly unsurprising. Hate acts follow hate speech. It is pastime for us to turn down and tune out the rabid rhetoric."
[19:05:00] Hate acts follow hate speech Mitt Romney said. There is a belief in the United States of America that leaders have an obligation to lead their supporters in the right direction.
The alleged Pittsburgh shooter tweeted negative things about President Trump. He thought President Trump was too controlled by Jews, too controlled to actually make America great again. But the alleged shooter was motivated by one of President Trump's favorite campaign issues, the one he's been ginning up the last few weeks in preparation for the midterms. This migrant caravan, that President Trump demonizes so often.
That's why the shooter in Pittsburgh said he targeted that synagogue, because of this false belief being shopped around all over the place, including by members of Congress, that Jews, the various Jews were funding that caravan. The caravan that President Trump, today, referred to as an invasion.
Do words like that matter? Do hate acts follow hate speech as Mitt Romney said? Sadly, that's not a theoretical question for the people of Pittsburgh. And that's where we begin tonight.
Sara Sidner is in Pittsburgh near the Tree of Life Synagogue. And, Sara, the suspect Robert Bowers was in court today. Tell us what happened.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, the suspect, he went to federal court. He was in a wheelchair. He had on handcuffs. There are 29 federal counts against him in Federal Court. He was given no bond and was taken to jail.
But, you know, look, this is being called the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, by the Anti-Defamation League. And many have said that the warning signs have been there. Not just with this suspect, but with many anti-Semitic acts that have been happening around this country. And that those acts have been growing by leaps and bounds.
SIDNER: Investigators say Robert Bowers wanted all Jews to die. The suspect using his arsenal of weapons to try to kill as many Jews as he could now faces a myriad of hate crime and murder charges.
In Squirrel Hill, the center of Jewish Life in and around Pittsburgh, resident Hallie Goldstein says fear was never a part of the equation, until now.
HALLIE GOLDSTIEN, SQUIRREL HILL RESIDENT: Before everyone was saying how they felt stronger and they felt braver, and I don't feel brave. I just feel scared.
SIDNER: Now there is reason to fear, 11 people were just slaughtered in a synagogue in America. For years, incidents of anti-Semitism were on the decline in America, then, came the 2016 presidential election. Since then a meteoric rise, 34 percent increase in 2016, a 57 percent increase in 2017 according to the Anti-Defamation League that tracks it.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE CEO: That's the single largest surge we've ever seen since we started tracking this data.
SIDNER: Nothing is sacred, not human life or places of worship or even where the dead are buried. In Omaha, Nebraska, a veteran's memorial scarred with a swastika. In Indiana, a synagogue desecrated, in Sacramento, California, flyers targeting Jewish students on campus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It screams of the same type of graphics and the same type of design with that the Nazis used.
SIDNER: This is in Potters County, Pennsylvania just a few months ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my country.
SIDNER: It's great. This is also my country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys didn't win the culture war. Get the [ bleep ] out of here now.
SIDNER: And no one can forget the torch bearing men in Charlottesville, Virginia spilling their hate filled rhetoric.
What is beyond all this, the ADL and those who track hates say, there is no doubt political rhetoric is in part to blame. That rhetoric can be subtle or in your face like US Representative Steve King, for example retweeting messages from a known Nazi sympathizer.
STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I'm not deleting that because then you all pile on me and say King has to apologize. He was wrong. He knows he's guilty. I'm not. I don' feel guilty one bit. I'm human. TRUMP: That's with a global special interest.
SIDNER: This Trump political ad raised eyebrows, featuring prominent Jews to target global special interest. And some of the women's march leaders standing with Louis Farrakhan who has preached anti-Semitic sentiments for years.
JONATHAN GREENBELT, ANTI-DEFAMATIO LEAGUE CEO: When Jews are literally under attack, we should have a zero tolerance policy on intolerance. It's unacceptable that anyone from the President to Minister Farrakhan, any one in between should make derisive comments and all of it should be called out. All of it should be unacceptable.
SIDNER: And we spoke with the rabbi here of Tree of Life. He was talking to us about all that had happened. He was taking out the torah to make sure that it was safe. It had not been damaged and he was thankful for that. But he said, Jake, "Love always, always eventually concurs hate." Jake?
[19:10:10] TAPPER: Sara Sidner in Pittsburgh, thanks so much. OUTFRONT now is Democratic Attorney General for the Commonwealth of the Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro. Josh, good to see you again.
You've said that your office is launching a separate investigation, separate from the one the Department of Justice is doing. What are you focusing on specifically?
JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We're interested in finding out the social media platform Gab that was used by not just this killer, but white nationalists, neo-Nazis all across this country. To find out whether or not this is protected free speech or whether or not it is being used to incite violence, going beyond those First Amendment protections. So we're in the early stages of our review and it's something we're looking at very carefully.
TAPPER: Well, pardon me to defend Gab, but I see heinous bigotry on Twitter. I see it on Facebook. Why go after Gab? What's different about that?
SHAPIRO: There's a difference between heinous bigotry, and a platform being use to incite violence in our community. I'm not saying for certain that's what is occurring. I'm saying that is something that we're interested in looking at. And we're interested in looking at it from both a civil and a criminal perspective, and getting to the bottom of how this platform is being use.
TAPPER: The shooter is already facing 29 federal charges, some of which could theoretically be punishable by death. Do you want the feds to seek the death penalty?
SHAPIRO: I do. I think that this is an appropriate case for the feds to do that. I would point out that this is a case being handled by our federal partners. We're supporting them anyway we can. But it's being prosecuted by the Department of Justice and the US attorney in the Western district.
TAPPER: President Trump is planning to come to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Are you welcoming him to your commonwealth? What's your -- you're, you're a Democrat. You're not a supporter of the President. What's your attitude towards him coming?
SHAPIRO: Jake, this isn't about partisanship or whether I support the President. This is about making sure that when the President comes to Pennsylvania, he brings with him words of healing. That he speaks with moral clarity, something that the President seemingly has been unable to do. He allows his words to be misappropriated by people who then use those words to inflict evil in our community.
And the President needs to stand up and firmly condemn that. He cannot continue to allow this to go on, on our time lines or in our town squares. And the President has a unique responsibility to rise above the noise and bring down the temperature of our rhetoric, and help our community begin to heal. That's what I want to see from our President. I think that's what most Americans want to see from our President. But sadly he seems to miss the mark every single time he opens up his mouth or engages his twitter feed.
TAPPER: Well, he did condemn in no uncertain terms anti-Semitism and the act of violence, the flags at the White House are at half staff. I understand that in general, you have an issue with his rhetoric. But do you think he's handled this tragedy in the wrong way?
SHAPIRO: Well, I would say that the Department of Justice and those I've worked with on the law enforcement side get A plus marks on this. But I think the President has a unique responsibility, any President does. And that is to be the healer in chief.
To try and figure out a way to bring people together, to maybe stop his political attacks and political rhetoric for a moment and see how that is being used by people who want to do ill and evil to others. And try to find a way to bring the American people together.
That is the President's task. And he has not risen to the level that we need him to rise to in America. Look, we know that there are people enabling this kind of hate in our community. And we know that there are people cheer leading it on. And we know there are people relying on the President's words and tweets and actions to bolster that effort. Fair or not, right or wrong, they are relying on the President's words to push that hateful speech forward.
And the President right now needs to send a clear message to everyone. In Pittsburgh, throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and throughout the world, that he doesn't want his language to be used to foster attacks and foment hate in our communities, and instead to try to bring people together.
TAPPER: All right, Attorney General Josh Shapiro of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, good to see you, Josh, towards under these circumstances.
OUTFRONT now, Rabbi Alvin Berkun, Rabbi Berkun is the America's Rabbi of Tree of Life Synagogue. And he has attended Saturday morning services there for 35 years. Last Saturday, this Sabbath his wife felt sick and asked him to stay home, and he did.
[19:15:00] Rabbi, first of all, I don't even know what to say, my deepest condolences to you, to your community. I know you were at the hospital today meeting with some of the wounded congregants and first responders. How are they doing?
RABBI ALVIN BERKUN, RABBI EMERITUS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: It's hard to say in the cases of all of them. Some of them are doing better. I visited some of the policemen who, as you know went into the line of fire to save the life of others. There's two of them are still in the hospital. Couple of the other people are still there, some serious conditions. It's been a pretty awful experience.
TAPPER: You've been part of this community for at least 35 years. You led it for 23 years. How does one even attempt to comfort your congregation while you yourself are in mourning?
BERKUN: It's true. What we've seen, I think at least in the Pittsburgh area, and maybe around the country, is an outpouring of support. And for Jews who have been targeted not only now, but really for thousands of years has a very important piece of the picture because we do really need to know that we're not alone. We're obviously a minority group, and so we're vulnerable.
But the key is, at least in Pittsburgh that showed itself last night, thousands of people came, people from every faith, the Islamic, Christian, Catholic, every denomination was there, every color was there, it was really quite an outpouring of support.
TAPPER: On Saturday, President Trump suggested that it would have been better had there been an armed guard on hand at Tree of Life. I know that since 9/11 and then obviously in the last few years, there's been a rise in anti-Semitism. A lot of synagogues and mosques around the country have had armed guards. What do you think of that?
BERKUN: I'm not sure. I'm obviously, those are decisions that have to be made and perhaps the government has to help in that regard. Our synagogue, Tree of Life, for years, decades actually is hired off duty police to be there on the high holidays where we have big, big crowds of people. But during the week, the building is secured in the sense that we have to be buzzed in with a camera overlooking the door. But each and every Shabbat morning, we do not have that kind of security. Doors are wide open, and that probably has to be re-evaluated.
TAPPER: Lastly, before I let you go, what do you want people watching you right now around the world and in the United States. What do you want us to know? How can we help? What's the message you want us to hear?
BERKUN: I think we have to hug somebody. We have to lower the rhetoric. We have to be vigilant and observant. And we have to know that things can never be the same in our country, which is a very sad, sad commentary. TAPPER: All right, well I'm so sorry for the loss of your congregants and your friends. May their memories be a blessing to you, sir. Thank you for being with us.
BERKUN: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: OUTFRONT next, the 15th suspected pipe bomb, this time sent to CNN in Atlanta, intercepted thankfully in the mail. As investigator say, the suspect had a list of more than 100 targets. Who else might have been on that list? I'll speak to the Defendant's attorney. And Kellyanne Conway blames, "Anti-riliosity" for the W attacked on the Pittsburgh Synagogue. Plus, should we look to President Trump to comfort the nation in times of grief? Ronald Reagan's daughter says, no. Patti Davis is my guest, stay with us.
[19:22:27] TAPPER: Tonight, the man accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and to CNN, making his first appearance in court. This comes as another suspicious package that centers up in Atlanta today. This one was sent to CNN's headquarters there. Authorities believe it was sent by Cesar Sayoc, the same suspect behind the other pipe bombs. If confirmed, this would bring the total number of known packages allegedly sent by him to 15.
CNN's Joe Johns is in Miami. And Joe, official say that he had a list of more than 100 other potential targets. What more can you tell us about this list?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, this is very much about what we know, and what we don't know right now, Jake. What we do know is according to our colleagues here at CNN, he did allegedly have this list of more than 100 names of people he was targeting, that's according to the authorities.
Some of those people received explosive packages, most did not. We also know that there were indications of a package that came through the mail from over the weekend that ended up in Atlanta and the post office headed for our colleagues at CNN center there.
We also know that he was locked up on Friday. So, if this is indeed the perpetrator and if in fact he did put packages in the mail, then presumably by inference, the package mailing would have ended late Thursday night, early Friday morning. The last question, of course, is whether there are any other packages in the postal system? That, right now, is something the authorities simply cannot answer, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Joe Johns. OUTFRONT now, Jamie Benjamin and Daniel Aaronson, the defense attorneys for the accused bomber, Cesar Sayoc.
Jamie, let me start with you, law enforcement officials telling CNN that your client had a list of more than a 100 people to whom he intended to send packages. Is that true? And if so, can you tell us who's on the list? JAMIE BENJAMIN, ATTORNEY FOR BOMB SUSPECT CESAR SAYOC: We can't confirm anything like that. All we have to go on is we have complaint that originated out of the Southern District of New York, where it alleges the original 13 packages and some evidence that they claim may tie our client to that. So the things that were reported today, the government has not shared with us, and we do not have any knowledge of it, whatsoever.
TAPPER: Daniel, take a listen to FBI Director, Christopher Wray laying out some of the evidence, he says, against your client, this is just a few days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:25:02] CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Based on their initial analysis, they uncovered a latent fingerprint from one of the envelopes containing an IED that had been sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We have confirmed this fingerprint is that of Cesar Sayoc. There's also a possible DNA connection between samples collected from pieces of two different IEDs mailed in separate envelopes and a sample previously collected from Sayoc in connection with an earlier arrest down in Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's a lot of evidence. Do you deny that your client did this? Is he innocent in your view?
DANIEL AARONSON, ATTORNEY FOR BOMB SUSPECT CESAR SAYOC: Well, first of all, it's not up to me to deny or to confirm or whatever you want to say, the bottom line of it he is innocent until proven guilty.
But as to the few pieces of evidence that you reference, the bottom line of it is in the criminal complaint, there's a footnote at the bottom of it that acknowledges that this of the -- the fingerprint evidence has not confirmed and would certainly not be admissible in the court of law at this stage as far as proof of guilt.
And that's to the DNA, there were possible DNA connection. We don't know if the possible DNA connection is one in a million, one in a thousand, one in two people. So as far as we're concerned at this stage that is kind of clumsy at to this.
TAPPER: Well, just to drill down this for a second. I know and we are all innocent until proven guilty, do you believe at this point, and I know it's way early, but do you believe that your client is ultimately going to plead innocent, not guilty?
BENJAMIN: He's going to plead not guilty at this stage. There's no reason for him to plead any other way.
TAPPER: Jamie, two law enforcement sources say, he was building the pipe bombs in his van. They tell us they found soldering equipment, stamps, envelope, paper, a printer, and the powder inside your client's van. I don't know if you heard that. I've been told that but how do you explain it? BENJAMIN: We're so preliminary into this case, that, first of all, we have not been told that at all. The reports in the media and these things that have floated out there haven't been officially made part of a record or an allegation against Mr. Sayoc. At this point, you know, we have -- we're criminal defense attorneys representing a gentleman that's been accused.
He, of course, isn't guilty until a jury finds and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It's hard to even process what is real and what isn't real when it comes to evidence against him at this stage. It's really less than two full business days into the case itself. And we were able to just with him briefly through a thick glass panel and a screen, you can't even see the other person on the other side of for a total of less than 15-20 minutes, and that isn't enough time to be able to digest or prepare or to be able to defend a person because we know so little.
So, it's early on, we're going to do everything in our knowledge, and power, and expertise to make sure his constitutional rights are protected and make sure the government amidst their burden to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, because at this stage, he's innocent.
TAPPER: And I want to play for you one of, say, his former boss, the one at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen, where he was a delivery driver told OUTFRONT. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBRA GUREGHIAN, SAYOC'S FORMER EMPLOYER: He knew that I was a very strong supporter, very strong lesbian, very proud of my sexuality, but more than once he told me that, if he had complete autonomy, I would burn in hell with all the black and Jews and Hispanic and everybody else. It was just the white supremacists that were going to rule the world. And unfortunately he said, "Debra, as much as I like you, you're going to be the first one I burn."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Have you been made aware at all of his behavior and possible threats that he has made against his former boss or anyone else?
AARONSON: Well, first of all, I don't know anything about his former boss. She may be telling the truth, she may not be. There maybe some agenda. So, this is just somebody making the statement and I don't know the veracity of that statement.
But I will tell you, I've represented him three times in the past on minor offenses. Nobody that I never represented has been more respectful to me, has treated me with more courtesy and he knows that I am Jewish, and there has never been anything from him that would be an indication to me that there's any anti-Semitism that he has.
I don't know this lady. I have no idea whether what she's saying is true or not. I know my experiences with him have all been one of respect. TAPPER: All right. Thank you, gentlemen, so much for your time. We really appreciate it. OUTFRONT, Next, President Ronald Regan's daughter, says that we should no longer look to President Trump to comfort a grieving nation at times like this. Patti Davis will be my guest.
And Sarah Sanders has asked, which media outlets are the true enemy of the people?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I'm not going to walk through a list, but I think those individuals probably know who they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Tonight the White House standing by President Trump's assertion that the media is the true enemy of the people. This even as another suspicious package was sent to CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Shouldn't you have the guts, Sarah, to state which outlets, which journalists are the enemy of the people?
SANDERS: I think it's irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: For the record, CNN did not blame President Trump for the pipe bomb. The bomber is solely, directly responsible for the bombs.
But CNN has said, the president of CNN, that President Trump and Sarah Sanders don't seem to get the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media or the degree to which their words matter.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at the White House.
And, Jeff, the president sent a tweet attacking the media. How do advisers see this as squaring with his calls for unity?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, they viewed it as the president defending himself. That is a typical answer to many things the president fighting back, the president under attack by others, defending himself.
That tweet came this morning at 8:03 a.m. This is how the president decided to use his bully pulpit today, not by talking about any of the victims from the synagogue, not by talking about anti-Semitism, but by blaming the hate and anger in America in his view on what he called the media -- simply not true. [19:35:07] But that was his only public statement on that, so far. He
will be doing interviews later that are airing on Fox. But he did not have any public events today.
But, Jake, the reality is, talking to a variety of people here at the White House, and other Republicans who are allies of this president, they say he's filled with grievance, he believes that his words over the weekend denouncing all of this were not really given that much attention, which, of course, isn't true as well. They were broadcast, but he was talking so much, and went ahead with that campaign rally, that is what made more news, of course, going after Maxine Waters again, going after others.
So, the president going to Pittsburgh tomorrow, facing a challenging situation there on the scene, because frankly, many do not want him to come. The rabbi, though, at the synagogue said he is welcome, he is the president. So, he will be going, but unclear who he's meeting with.
I'm told by advisers and officials it's unlikely he will meet with any family members at least at this point, more likely law enforcement officials. But, Jake, the reality is, the president is blaming everyone, not accepting any blame for the rhetoric that he has started. But after this visit in Pittsburgh tomorrow, after that, the midterm election races get underway. Eleven rallies we're told tonight in six days.
That's why this visited is happening tomorrow. But the mayor of Pittsburgh said earlier today it's too soon. But they should be burying the dead first, Jake, so a challenging visit tomorrow and then back to politics for the president -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT now, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation", Joan Walsh, former White House director of legislative affairs for President Trump, Marc Short, who we need to note signed a non- disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter, and "Daily Beast" columnist and nondenominational rabbi, Jay Michaelson.
Joan, let me start with you, the White House argument is that the attacks on him have not stopped. Tom Steyer was on my show yesterday, had some very harsh things to say. Congressman Adam Schiff had some very harsh things to say. Their argument, why should he unilaterally disarm?
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Because he is the president, Jake, I know you know that, we expect more from the president. And I also have to say, you know, on a day like today, he wakes up, and he calls us once again enemies of the people, and now we get a third pipe bomb addressed to CNN. He did not do it, it's solely the bomber's responsibility, but he can't hold back for even a few days.
Tom Steyer got a pipe bomb, he had some sharp words for the president. He can't hold back from Tom Steyer, on the day when more Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh, in the entire history of our country. That same day he decides to attack a very prominent Jewish conservative, Bill Kristol, by name. He cannot stop himself. And, therefore, the criticism won't stop either. It's our job.
TAPPER: Marc, your response?
MARC SHORT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think the president has elevated Jewish members across his administration to the highest levels. You know that he's welcomed in, his son-in-law is Jewish, his daughter has converted to Judaism, his grandchildren were being raised Jewish. I think notions of calling the president anti-Semitic are over the top.
WALSH: I didn't call him anti-Semitic.
SHORT: I said on your show before that I do not think the press is the enemy of the people. That a fair and free press is foundational to our democracy. Having said that, with that freedom comes enormous responsibility for the media to report news fairly and without bias. I think it's hard to argue that this administration has been covered without bias.
TAPPER: Let me drill down, because you said -- interjected saying you didn't call him anti-Semitic.
WALSH: I did not.
TAPPER: What were you suggesting President Trump when you noted that on the same day, those Jews were massacred, the deadliest day for Jews in American history on Saturday, that he went after Bill Kristol, the prominent Jewish conservative if --
WALSH: He clearly didn't care enough not to go after Bill Kristol.
I would also add since Marc, you know, is bringing this up, it took the president several hours to mention that this occurred at a synagogue. It took him a long time to mention that these were Jews. And then his first statements about it seemed to imply that the Jews might bear some responsibility because they weren't armed Jews and they didn't have a way to fight back.
All his behavior and statements were tone deaf, Jake, until we hear from reporting that his daughter and son in law, Jewish, persuaded him, that's the word that's being used, he persuaded him to take a kinder tone to use the word Jewish, to use the word synagogue, to express concern.
I don't know what's in the man's heart, Jake. I judge him by his behavior, and his behavior did not show a lot of care and concern about the Jewish community that day.
SHORT: -- based upon his words. You're judging him on what you interpret to be what he left out of his words. And now looking at the fact that, again, he has elevated Jewish members across his administration --
[19:40:01] WALSH: I actually don't care about that, Marc. I've seen racist people hire black people.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we need to clarify things a little bit.
TAPPER: Let's bring in, Amanda.
Go ahead, Amanda.
CARPENTER: Two separate incidents, but it gets down to one huge concern, and that goes to Donald Trump's language and his associations. We saw what happened with the pipe bomber, with a person who believed Donald Trump when he said the press is the enemy of the people, and he acted on it, Donald Trump is not responsible for that man, but knowing that his words had that impact, will he retire that phrase now? What's to stop it from happening again?
So, going-forward, knowing that his words caused that man to act, he is responsible, knowing that the Trump campaign played footsie and cozied up to the alt-right all through his campaign, which at its core is an anti-Semitic movement, anybody that spends five minutes in the Internet, looking at their chat rooms can figure that out. Is he still going to send those coded signals to that community which gets them riled up?
He's not responsible for what happened this week, but going forward, if he does not change and recognize the impact his words have, he will be.
TAPPER: So, there is this question about words, Marc. To that point, here's what -- I'm sorry, Jay. Here's what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: President who should be unifying and instead he is exciting people, inciting people, the president's words matter more than anybody else. And his job I always thought is to be a unifier, not to be the leader of a party, but to be the leader of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's hard to argue that he should be a unifier and a leader of the country. Do you think the president's words can hold -- can be held responsible for the actions of a grown man?
JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think it's strange we keep using the word responsible as if it's black and white. If you're a kid at a party and you spike the punch with a bunch of green alcohol, are you responsible when some kid gets drunk and commits a DUI? I mean, you know that that's inevitable. President Trump has been playing with fire for years. His supporters have been playing a kind of devil's bargain. If we support him, we'll overlook the bad stuff. Well, this is the cost. The bill has come due.
When you play with fire, when you pander to white supremacists, and say, well, there's good people on both sides of a neo-Nazi rally, what do you expect that's going to happen? So, I think this focus on responsibility as though it's some kind of a legal case is maybe mistaken.
You know, academics use this term stochastic terrorism, which means creating the conditions for a lone wolf, an evil person like Robert Bowers to act. That doesn't mean you're responsible for those actions, but it means you create those circumstances about.
TAPPER: Let's bring Marc in.
Marc, the president says he wants unity, and yet you've heard the other panelists. Let's take a look at some of the tweets that he sent.
We had one tweet today calling Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, a thief. There's no evidence that he's a thief. He called Tom Steyer after Tom Steyer was on my show criticizing him -- he called him -- and, by the way, Steyer was a target of a bomb. He called him wacky and a crazed and stumbling lunatic.
On the caravan, quote, he wrote, many gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the caravan heading to our southern border. This is an invasion of our country is waiting for you.
What is your response because you're out numbered here, 3-1. People who think that President Trump needs to -- is playing with fire, as Jay put it, that you can't incite a base and incite a movement so much and not think that maybe some people are going to take it too far?
SHORT: I don't think the president is encouraged by bombs or the violence that's occurred. I do think that there's -- all of us could be doing a better job. From the president to those of us who commentate to frankly the news organizations, to help to lower the rhetoric in this country in ways that we can be more respectful of each other.
I also think that too often, we as a country we put our faith in our elected leaders. And I think that the one who can help to heal our land, is the one in Second Chronicle said, if my people will humble themselves and face me and pray to me, I will heal their land.
And that's what our nation needs to be doing, is more praying as opposed to getting more involved in political pointing fingers.
MICHAELSON: I'm sorry, isn't praying what the people in the synagogue were doing when they were gunned down --
MICHAELSON: -- because Trump says they should have an armed guard? I thought they were praying.
SHORT: Listen to the full response he gave that question, when he was asked specifically about that. He also said that those people should have certainly been protected in the synagogue. And I think you'll hear more of that tomorrow. So, again, we're trying to point fingers at political --
WALSH: Four police officers were shot, they had guns, Marc.
SHORT: Joan, I understand what happened, I understand that, and I think we all need to step back for a second, tone down the rhetoric ourselves, allow the president's opportunity tomorrow to make more thorough remarks, but recognize in many cases, we're putting our faith in people, when, in fact, we should be putting our faith in God.
[19:45:02] CARPENTER: We can pray all we want -- let me be --
TAPPER: Let's Joan go and then you can go.
WALSH: I happen to believe in god, but a lot of people in this country don't. And they're entitled to that. They're entitled to believe in the goodness of one another.
SHORT: I'm not questioning that.
WALSH: And to believe in the goodness and the integrity of their elected leaders. So, to tell people to pray because we have a man in the White House who can't find it within himself to do the decent thing and tone this down, that's really disrespectful, Marc. You didn't mean that.
TAPPER: Amanda, let me bring you in here.
WALSH: It's disrespectful to encourage people to pray.
CARPENTER: Yes, everybody should pray, and I pray for our leaders, definitely Donald Trump.
But for things to change, he must dramatically change course going forward. Until he lets these movements know that their presence and their support is not welcome, they will continue to feel emboldened. They will continue to take his words and give it purpose in their own life. This is why people are driven to do these things, to commit these acts of terrorism, because they find purpose in doing these things, like sending pipe bombs and going to a synagogue and shooting them up. And that has to be put to a full stop, full clarity for anything to change going forward.
TAPPER: Jay, let me play devil's advocate here, I think there are a lot of people in the Jewish community who say what happened on Saturday and said, boy, we need to get armed guards in our synagogue, just to protect our congregants. Is it possible that that's all President Trump meant? Like this is a dangerous world, things are bad? You should have armed guards? I mean, I understand to a lot of people it came out as tone deaf and
clumsy. Is it not possible that he just meant it in the same way, you know, a million Jews across the country on Saturday said, we need to check in with our security people at our synagogue?
MICHAELSON: Well, I think it's reasonable for synagogues to have security, obviously. But it's really dodging a responsibility to say the victims should have had guns to fight someone with an AR-15, which, of course, is a weapon that shouldn't be on the streets in the first place. But, you know, a lot of Jewish Trump supporters have entered into that devil's bargain. They said, well, we'll put up with a little anti-Semitism and the movement, because after all, Donald Trump isn't anti-Semitic, and he's so good on Israel and so forth.
That's why this is really a moment of reckoning for American Jews and for anyone who cares about prejudice in this country.
TAPPER: I want to bring -- Joan, I want you to listen to Kellyanne Conway earlier today, suggesting that the massacre acts, Tree of Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on Jews on American history, is because or at least part of a general anti-religiosity sentiment in the country. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny to make fun of anybody of faith, to constantly be making fun of people who express religion, the late night comedians, the unfunny people on TV shows. It's always anti-religious. And remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joan, what was your response to that?
WALSH: Kellyanne really outdid herself today, that is magnificent. That is just incredible spin. I mean, late night comedians. These people were not murdered by an anti-religious person. They were murdered by a crazy anti-Semite.
Bill Maher may mock every religion. He has never picked up a gun and murdered anyone. How does she sleep at night? How did she live with herself? That is preposterous.
And it's again, it's this dangerous deflection of responsibility. But, you know, thankfully, it's too stupid honestly to be believed. No one will fall for it.
TAPPER: Marc, your response?
SHORT: Well, I think just a few minutes ago, I was encouraging prayer and Joan said she thought that was offensive to the agnostics and atheists in our country.
WALSH: I did. SHORT: So, I think we see the evidence of it right here on your show.
WALSH: I'm not hostile to religion.
SHORT: It doesn't have to be Bill Maher. It's actually right here on your show. And I think there's a double standard.
WALSH: Are you kidding? Are you kidding?
SHORT: No, I'm being quite factual with the comments you just gave.
WALSH: My comments contribute to an anti-religious atmosphere. I went to Catholic school. I'm a practicing Catholic. How dare you. How dare you, Marc Short?
SHORT: All I said, Joan, is that we should be encouraging people to pray, and you said that was offensive.
WALSH: You really need to watch yourselves, that is offensive.
TAPPER: Amanda, I know you're a person of faith also, I wonder if you can be quick, I want to let Jay, who's a rabbi. So, he's obviously a person of faith, your reaction also.
CARPENTER: She's trying to shift the blame to a different political target by going after late night hosts, but here's why it's so tone deaf, there are a lot of people in America who are scared. If you work in the media, you are probably scared. If you want to go to church, you're scared. If you want to go to a grocery store, you're scare. If you send your kids to school, you're probably scared.
And for some reason, all the people in the White House can't get that and empathize where that, they're too busy protecting their own fragile political egos.
TAPPER: Jay, what did you think about the anti-religiosity?
MICHAELSON: It's beyond offensive. The notion that this was -- I don't know how much more explicit a terrorist has to be, the Robert Bowers, saying explicitly why he's carrying this out, lies about a migrant caravan, lies about Jewish involvement. These are lies that are in Trump's movement.
[19:50:01] And it really goes to show, you know, anti-Semitism and Trumpian nationalism, it's a package deal. You can't have one without the other. And that's exactly -- that's why I think as a rabbi, what I would like to hear the president say is an apology.
TAPPER: All right. OUTFRONT next, my next guest says President Trump is incapable of empathy in times of tragedy. We're going to talk to former first daughter Patti Davis.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: As President Trump and the first lady prepare to head to Pittsburgh tomorrow in the wake of the deadly synagogue shooting there, the White House is defending the president's actions in times of crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: At what point does a national tragedy take precedence over the president needing to punch back? If not now, when?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think you saw the president do exactly that in the wake of a national tragedy. Not just this week but every time that our country has experienced the type of heartache and pain that we have over the last week. This is a president who's risen to that occasion and worked to bring to our country together in a number of occasions, whether it's the hurricanes, whether it's Las Vegas shooting, whether it was the Pittsburgh shooting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Our next guest disagrees.
OUTFRONT tonight, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan, Patti Davis. She has a new op-ed in "The Washington Post" where she writes about President Trump, quote: This president will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation. It's not in him. When questioned after a tragedy, he will always be glib and inappropriate.
So, I have a wild suggestion. Let's stop asking him. His words are only salt in our wounds.
Patti Davis joins me now. Thanks for joining us.
Obviously, people --
PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Thank you.
TAPPER: -- know that you're not a supporter of President Trump. You're a progressive. But you don't think he's done what Sarah Sanders says. You don't think he has risen to that occasion ever in times of national tragedy?
DAVIS: Unless I missed a news day, I've never seen or heard him.
[19:55:00] And, you know, it occurred to me when I watched him being questioned right -- you know, when the news of the shooting in Pittsburgh had come out and he was walking to Marine One and he was being questioned by the journalists. I don't think there was any journalist there who didn't have some idea of what he was going to say, essentially what he was going to say, that he wasn't going to reach out to the broken hearts across this country and offer solace and compassion, because he never has before. And I thought, why are you even asking him? You know, there's no law
that says that reporters have to question the president while he's walking to the helicopter or to the plane. What if you just don't ask him at times like this? And don't give him that opportunity to literally rub salt in our wounds.
TAPPER: Obviously, every time -- well, not obviously -- but every time I think of your dad, I think about his address to the nation following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
TAPPER: Here's part of what I think about every time I think about your dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: Nancy and I are pained to the core of the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all the people of our country. This is truly a national loss. I wish I could talk to every man or woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades and we know of your anguish. We share it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, Patti, with all due respect, that is a really high bar. I mean, I get what you're coming from. But you --
TAPPER: But, I mean, that's the gold standard of comforting a nation? Is it possible you just expect too much?
DAVIS: No, I don't think I do. I'm not asking him to -- well, I'm not asking Trump to do anything, but I'm not expecting anybody to reach the level of my father's eloquence, because it was -- it was eloquences.
Can you just reach out from your heart? And I don't think that this president can. So, again, I get back to why are we asking him to? If you, in your personal life, had a tragedy or a loss or were in grief, you wouldn't reach out to someone who you knew was not going to comfort you or show you solace. That would be a ridiculous thing to do.
So, why do we do -- why do we expect him to?
TAPPER: I don't know if you saw, but George Conway, a noted conservative attorney in Washington, D.C., who happens to have a wife --
DAVIS: Kellyanne Conway's husband? TAPPER: That is true. That is also true. He retweeted part of your
TAPPER: The part about how he will never offer -- President Trump will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation.
TAPPER: It's not in him. And then he responded on Twitter. Somebody else said the president lacks the communication skills and he responded, George Conway, by saying, it's far beyond that. It's that there's nothing from within to communicate.
DAVIS: Well, I think -- first of all, wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in that dining room tonight, in that home? I wouldn't but anyway --
TAPPER: Probably some interesting conversations. I think that's true.
DAVIS: Yes, probably. I didn't know that he had --
TAPPER: Do you think that's the problem? George Conway is basically saying he doesn't have it within him to communicate. It's not that it's a communications problem.
DAVIS: Well, I kind of said the same thing. Look, I don't know what's inside of anybody except I do know what people show on the outside. At some point, we do show what is inside of us.
And Donald Trump has never shown compassion ever. He didn't just burst on the scene. He has been in the public eye for 40 years. Can you name any instance where he has shown kindness and compassion? He never had a reputation for that.
TAPPER: Well, I'm not the press secretary of the White House. But I'm sure if Sarah were here, she would say, you don't see what he's like with people on our staff and we're all devoted to him and you don't see how great he is to soldiers when he meets them. I mean, I'm sure she would be able to relay a number of moments that she has seen.
DAVIS: Well, of course because that's what she does, but I don't know what to say about Sarah Sanders. I don't know what movie she's watching, because the rest of us are watching a different movie.
TAPPER: Patti Davis, so nice to meet you via satellite. Thanks so much for your time today.
DAVIS: Thank you.
TAPPER: Really appreciate it.
Thanks for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts now.