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Trump's Comments on the Media; Khashoggi's Fiance Plea to Trump; Dems Call for Hearing on Hate Crimes; Trump to Visit Pittsburgh; Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:24] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president said this morning the fake news media, the true enemy of the people, must stop. (INAUDIBLE) to report the news accurately and fairly. Can you state for the record which outlets that you and the president regard as the enemy of the people?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to walk- through a list, but I think those individuals probably know who they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that include -- would that include my outlet, which received a bomb last week?

SANDERS: I don't think it's necessarily specific to a general, broad generalization of a full outlet. At times I think there's individuals that the president would be referencing.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the president did not reference individuals. He referenced the media in general. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defending the president's attacks on the media in the days following a string of hate-fueled crimes.

My colleague, Jim Acosta, he asked her about our next guest's tweet at Monday's press briefing as well. He's Dave Lapan. He's a retired Marine Corps colonel, former spokesman for the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, I should remind you, and he wrote the following in a tweet. Over 30 plus years as a U.S. Marine, I defended our country against its true enemies. In 20 plus years as a U.S. Marine Crops, Pentagon and DHS spokesman, I dealt with the news media nearly every day. I know quite a bit about the press and know this -- they are not the enemy of the American people.

Joining us now is Dave Lapan. He's currently vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Dave, thanks so much for taking the time.


SCIUTTO: I should remind our viewers, you served under Bush, Obama and Trump. You did it in difficult times, post 9/11, Iraq invasion, the recent politically divisions at home. I've had a lot of interactions with you, not all of them friendly or easy, but you were always fair- minded, dedicated.

I'm curious, what led you to speak out this time about the president's comments?

LAPAN: Well, a couple of things, Jim.

Obviously, this rhetoric had gone on for some time. But I have to say, and I'm not directly tying this to what happened here, but I knew Jamal Khashoggi. I was struck by the fact that he was murdered for doing his job, for being a journalist. Certainly the bombs last week. The idea that journalists now have to fear for their safety for doing their job, it just seems to be going too far.

And in my tweet, as you noticed, and as you talked about, I tried to establish right up front my credentials, you know, as a Marine, over 30 years, understanding what our true enemies are. You know, it's al- Qaeda. It's ISIS. It's Russia. It's Iran. It's not the press.

And, in fact, now it's -- you could also put domestic terrorism in that category as well. And the other piece, as you noted, too, I've been critical of the press as a public affairs officer, as a spokesman. I didn't always see eye to eye with reporters, like yourself and others, but it never got nasty. It was never demonizing the press. It was never name calling. When we disagreed, we disagreed respectfully and based on facts. And I think that's what I'm calling for here, is more civility, ways to be disagree -- to be able to disagree with one other without being disagreeable and without name calling.

SCIUTTO: Well, I could -- I could attest to your civility because I experienced it.

You saw the White House press secretary there defending the president's dismissal of entire organizations. And let's be frank, the president has not just focused that on individual organizations. He's said it about the press in general.

Beyond being someone who wore the uniform of the U.S. Marines for 34 years, you served as a spokesperson for the Marine Corps, for the Pentagon, for the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump. Was that a fitting role for the White House press secretary to take that stand and to echo, in effect, those attacks on the media by the president?

LAPAN: Well, again, as somebody who's, you know, not had that particular job, which I believe is the toughest job in all of spokesperson-hood, if that's a term, and I think her job is to reflect the president. And, in many ways, she does that. I certainly take a lot of issues with the things that she says, the falsehoods and things like that, but it also, again, is her job to reflect the president's views on things.

[09:35:12] SCIUTTO: Did you have moments, though, I imagine everyone has their limits, is there an obligation here, because that role, yes, is to reflect the president, but it's also to speak to the American people from the White House, in effect communicate in two directions, right? I mean to communicate to those people but also take their questions and take their questions with respect. Is there a point when a White House spokesperson echoes the president's attacks on the media when that spokesperson should hang it up and say, I'm not going to do this anymore?

LAPAN: Well, I think it is important that a spokesperson, as you have suggested, not only reflects their boss, you know, so in the various positions that I had, I was speaking on behalf of my boss or the department or whatever, but I also had an obligation to the American public to be truthful. And I wouldn't cross that line. And I told reporters that I couldn't tell them when I couldn't tell them things. I would never lie. That was the other red line that I wouldn't cross. That, again, it came to a point of defending something and having to be untruthful about it, then I wouldn't do that. You know, my credibility is everything. And so I think there is a point at which you have to either maintain your personal credibility or to leave the position.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, let me say, you're a testament to the fact that folks can be at odds in terms of their duties but still deal with each other in a civil way as Americans.

I thank you for that. Thank you for your service in the Marine Corps, Dave Lapan.

LAPAN: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Still very few answers four weeks after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed. But, today, a renewed pledge from Turkey to uncover the truth after the White House continues to weigh its reaction and its options.


[09:41:13] SCIUTTO: Today marks four weeks since journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He went there for marriage papers to marry his fiance. He never left. Four weeks later. His fiance was waiting outside when he went in. President Erdogan of Turkey is pledging not to stop pursuing the investigation into his death. And we've had multiple explanations and reversals by Saudi officials during that time. Of course now they admit it was a premeditated murder.

HARLOW: This follows an impassioned plea from Khashoggi's fiance calling on the president to, quote, in her words, not pave the way for a cover story.

Let's go to our colleague, Jomana Karadsheh, she joins us in Istanbul.

And, Jomana, first of all, what are you learning today? I mean that was such a powerful interview to hear from his fiance in those words really directly to the U.S. president, and then what's the White House saying in response?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, just to let you know, in the past few hours, a short time ago, we saw the chief prosecutor for Saudi Arabia here at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. This is his first visit to the crime scene, as Jim mentioned there, four weeks after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. This is coming after that shifting narrative that we have seen from Saudi Arabia over the past few weeks, finally coming out this weekend and saying that it was premeditated murder.

Now, we don't know what he did in the consulate. He was in there for about 90 minutes. This follows his meeting yesterday and today for more than an hour with the chief prosecutor for Istanbul, who is heading the Turkish investigating into the killing of Khashoggi.

Now, we don't know the details of that meeting, but what we understand from Turkish officials is they're not yet satisfied with the level of cooperation from the Saudi authorities.

Now, we understand that he was coming to Turkey with the testimony of 18 individuals who were attested in Saudi Arabia for their connection with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Now, that was never going to be enough for Turkey. They have been asking and saying they want those 18 extradited to face justice here in Turkey.

And there are so many other questions that Turkey wants answered. They want to know who ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. They say, more importantly, where is the body of Khashoggi. Something we also heard from his fiance, as you mentioned there, in that very emotional speech she made yesterday in London at a memorial service. And she thanked millions around the world for their solidarity, but she also said she's disappointed in international leaders, in world leaders, especially the United States, saying that they must ensure that justice is served and not pave the way for a cover-up.

Poppy. Jim.


SCIUTTO: You make a great point there, Jomana. We have to remind people, this is four weeks later. No body.

HARLOW: No body.

SCIUTTO: The Saudis have no good answer to that question. Of course the question is, how much pressure is the U.S. president and administration putting on the Saudis for that answer to a very basic question. You might say that his fiance deserves an answer to that question.


SCIUTTO: Well, Congress is on break right now, but a handful of Democrats are calling on their Republican colleagues to come back to Washington for an emergency hearing on hate crimes. We're going to be asking one of those Democrats what the GOP response has been so far. That's right after this.


[09:48:50] HARLOW: Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And this morning, top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling for an emergency hearing on hate crimes and domestic terrorism. They sent this letter just yesterday to the chairman of their committee.

Joining me now is one of the member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Ted Lieu of California.

Good morning, congressman. I'm glad you're with us on what has been a series of very, very sad weeks for this country.

In this letter, let me read part of what you and your fellow Democrats say. You say, quote, it fails us -- it falls on us, rather, to begin the hard work of answering questions left in the wake of violence. There is a cost to inaction as well.

If you get this hearing, what do you hope it accomplishes?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Poppy, for your question.

Let me first say that my heart goes out to the victims of terror this past week. They and their families remain in my thoughts.

We would like to have this hearing, and it's something we've been calling for, for quite a while. After the white supremacist mob event in Charlottesville we asked for a similar hearing, and that's because the House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over hate crimes, religious freedom and civil liberties and all of these are under attack in the United State and we want to have a hearing to see how we can make these issues better, not worse.

[09:50:03] HARLOW: You know, as you know, and it struck me reading it this morning. On Sunday we also saw gun -- a round of gunshots fired into a Florida Republican Party office overnight Sunday into Monday morning. What's your reaction to that as well, and would that also be covered in this hearing?

LIEU: Yes, the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee also goes to gun violence. We should look at the epidemic of gun violence in America. Unfortunately, the Republicans, that have control of the committee, have chosen to focus on irrelevant issues like Hillary Clinton's e-mails. I think it's time we actually do hearings on issues that matter to Americans.

HARLOW: I think it is an issue that also mattered to Americans, but both things can be done at the same time, congressman. I hear you.

Let's talk about today in Pittsburgh. The funerals begin at 11:00 a.m. today for the 11 souls that we lost in that tracking shooting over the weekend. The president will be in Pittsburgh this afternoon. The mayor of Pittsburgh has said, wait, don't come yet. But the rabbi of the synagogue, as you know, has said, look, the president is welcome any time. Are you glad to see the president making the visit today?

LIEU: I believe that the president of the United States should be able to go anywhere that he wants. But what's more important is instead of using rhetoric that's divisive, I hope that the president tries to unify our nation, and I look forward to hearing what the president has to say.

HARLOW: That's interesting because, you know, the fact is that a number of leaders in Congress and the Senate and the House, Republicans and Democrats, have declined the White House invitation to go with the president today. But you believe it is -- you're OK with the president going to Pittsburgh today?

LIEU: Again, I believe the president should be able to go wherever he wants. But what's more important is, what does the president say. And this is a president that has, in his rhetoric, condoned or suggested violence. He said it's OK basically to body slam a reporter. He's tweeted a video of CNN being body slammed. That is not OK. He's crossed a line repeatedly. Now is a time for him to try to unify the nation. I hope he tries to do that.

HARLOW: I want your reaction to this exchange this morning. The rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue was on with our colleague, Alisyn Camerota, this morning. Listen to this.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": What do you say to people who criticize you for opening your doors to the president at this time?

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, RABBI, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I have received many e-mails that are not happy with those words. The thing that saddens me is, those e-mails also contain hate. And it just continues in this vicious cycle. Hate promulgating more hate promulgating more hate. And that's just not the solution. We need to be better than this. We can be better than this.


HARLOW: Is he right? We can be better than this all around, that he got messages of hate for welcoming the president today?

LIEU: Yes, I believe we can all do better in America. Now, the president does have a unique role. He's a leader of the free world of our country. And Donald Trump has three main jobs, to keep us safe, to make us feel safe, and to unify our nation. He's largely failed at all of those, but it doesn't mean that he can't reverse himself and try to heal our nation. I hope he tries to do that today.

HARLOW: Do you think he can do that? Do -- I mean do you think that --

LIEU: Right. HARLOW: Given the words that the president has used, given the examples you just laid out when it comes to, you know, condoning violence against that reporter, for example, can he be the consoler in chief? Is there something that could turn this around?

LIEU: I remember watching Donald Trump's two addresses to Congress. And I remember walking out telling one of my Democratic colleagues, you know, that was a pretty good address to Congress. It's made our jobs harder as Democrats to take back the House, but I feel better as an American.

I want to see that. I want to see the president do what I've seen him do before when he gave the State of the Union. I'm sure he can do that for two hours. Hopefully he can expand that and really try to unify our nation instead of blaming scapegoats and trying to divide our nation.

HARLOW: Congressman Ted Lieu, I appreciate you being here today. An important day, of course, for the country and for the people of Pittsburgh as we wait for the president to go there.

Thank you.

LIEU: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, we're following all of those developments. Again, the funerals taking place this morning. A presidential visit in Pittsburgh this afternoon. We'll be right back.


[09:58:52] SCIUTTO: One week from today America will be at the polls. What are you passionate about? What is driving you to the polls? Here's what you told us in the latest installment of our "Why I'm Voting" segment.


KAYSEE ARROWSMITH, VOTER FROM GEORGIA: The environment is a really important issue for me. I want to support candidates who support environmental regulations and support conservation more generally.

LEAH, VOTER FROM TEXAS: I think it's very important to keep a conservative majority in all branches of government. The issues that I think are most passionate to me are the Supreme Court.

JJ JACOBS, VOTER FROM IOWA: I think everybody should have access to affordable health care. Mental health care, as somebody who deals with mental illness, it's important to me because I see how it negatively affects me as well as other people.

ARTIE NIESEN, VOTER FROM CALIFORNIA: I'm concerned about, you know, the tariffs on the farmers. They're having a bad time trying to keep their -- keep their businesses going.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: We were just saying how much we love this segment. No pundits. Just you.

SCIUTTO: What you're thinking.

HARLOW: Thanks for doing that. Post a video on Instagram, use the hashtag #whyivotecnn. We have one more week of these before the midterms.

[10:00:06] SCIUTTO: A good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow.