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Trump: House Vote On Anti-Hate Resolution Disgraceful; House Passes Condemning Anti-Semitism, Bigotry; Today: Dems To Vote On Plan To Expand Voting Rights. Aired 10-10:30 ET
Aired March 8, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Look, when I came in under the Obama administration, North Korea was a disaster. You were going to war, folks, whether you know it or not. You were going to where there was no talking, there was testing, we didn't have our people back, we didn't have our great hostages. Now, we're getting the remains, we're doing a lot of things now.
This was a disaster. I inherited a mess. In many ways, I inherited -- the Middle Easter, I inherited a mess. And it's straightening out a lot. We are doing very well there. I inherited a mess. I inherited -- wait, wait. I inherited a mess with North Korea. And right now, you have no testing, you have no nothing. But I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.
TRUMP: I thought yesterday's vote by the House was disgraceful because it has become -- the democrats have become an anti-Israel party, they have become an anti-Jewish party. And I thought that vote was a disgrace and so does everybody else, if you get an honest answer. If you get an honest answer from politicians, they thought it was a disgrace. The democrats have become an anti-Israel party, they have become an anti-Jewish party, and that's too bad. I'm going to Alabama.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: The President there commenting to reporters, answering a few questions on his way to Alabama. A couple of notable lines on a day when he receives bad economic news, the job growth far below, as predicted, he focuses on wage information, the stock market, on Paul Manafort's, as he feels very badly about him and repeats what -- essentially, what is a false claim that the judge there eliminated the possibility of any collusion. In fact, the judge in that case said just that collusion did not relate to Manafort's case.
He also made, as he left there, what is quite an alarming charge about the Democratic Party. He described them as an anti-Israel party and Anti-Jewish party.
We're joined now by CNN's Sarah Westwood, Kim Wehle, former Federal Prosecutor, Evan Perez here with me and Jackie Kucinich here. Let me begin with you, if I can, Sarah Westwood, because those final words, the parting shot as he left for Alabama there, that is quite a position for this President to take. Democrats, anti-Israel, anti- Jewish party, have you heard the President say that before?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Jim, President Trump has weighed in on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's comments. He has criticized her. But there are a lot of people who have pointed out that President Trump did not condemn Republican Congressman Steve King when he made remarks that were widely perceived as racist but is now demanding accountability for Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her comments. Obviously, the Democratic Party has been grappling with this all week, passing a resolution condemning bigotry.
President Trump laying down a sort of a marker on North Korea there, saying that he would be very disappointed if he were to see North Korea resume missile testing. Obviously, the second summit with North Korea in Vietnam did not go as the President had planned. Trump also expressing sympathy there for his former top campaign official, Paul Manafort, saying he feels badly for Manafort who has given, what, many have viewed as a light sentence on the crimes. And seizing on those comments from, Jim, in a highly misleading way, as you pointed, the judge said that in the case the specific charges that Manafort was being sentenced for yesterday, those had nothing to do with collusion. That obviously doesn't preclude collusion from having taken place at all. But he has elevated those comments on Twitter and, again, today, and then dismissing concerns about those disappointing February jobs numbers.
Earlier this morning on social media, he was promoting just the women's unemployment rate and he said that hopefully the trend is continuing towards job creation that even though the jobs created in February fell far short of expectations that the trend could bear out that the economic growth is still strong, Jim.
SCIUTTO: All right. Sarah, thank you. Jackie Kucinich, we should remind in Charlottesville, there were protesters marching with torches celebrating Nazi-ism and KKA.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: [INAUDIBLE] people out on places.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and blood and soil. The President famously saying both sides, there were good people on both sides. Your reaction to him calling democrats an anti-Israel party, anti-Jewish party.
KUCINICH: The President likes to speak in extremes. He likes to go into the bombastic realm quite frequently. And I think that's what he is doing here. And it is shameless considering his own, not only failing to condemn Charlottesville on the first try, but also, let's not forget during the campaign, he was re-Tweeting memes that showed Hillary Clinton with a Star of David on the backdrop of money.
He spoke, I believe it was at APAC, and said, you won't like me because I don't need your money, which is anti-Semitic.
SCIUTTO: And the George Soros memes related to the migrate caravan, yes.
KUCINICH: Exactly. There's a -- the list goes on and on and on. So is the President being hypocritical here? Yes, he is.
SCIUTTO: Okay. On another issue, because there was a lot there to unpack, Evan Perez, Kim Wehle with me as well. Let's talk about Paul Manafort there, the president feeling very badly for him, a very, very tough time for him, but, again, repeating what is not a true statement, that the judge made some sort of definitive resolution of the question of collusion. What did the judge actually say yesterday related to the Manafort case as opposed to what the President says he said?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what -- the judge did not say what the President just said. But the judge said simply that one of the things I will not consider is the question of whether or not Paul Manafort was part of some Russian collusion operation or some kind of conspiracy with the Russian towards the 2016 election. And there's a good reason for that, because Paul Manafort was not charged with that in this case.
As a matter of fact, the judge early on, we've covered this case last year, he made a point of saying that to both the defense and the prosecution, you are not going to talk about Russia and you're not going to talk about collusion in this case because that is not one of the charges. And so the judge really was sticking to his guns.
And, by the way, he's is right. I mean, this is a case about tax fraud, this is a case about bank fraud, this is a case about failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. That's what this case is about.
SCIUTTO: Right. Kim, your reaction, I mean, to that? And the President's -- of course, the question today is the length of the sentence because he judge giving Paul Manafort far below what the guidelines are, the judge making the case that, listen, okay, those are the guidelines. But, in fact, if you look at other similar cases, folks, who had far more money served either less time or not that much more time, your reaction to the judge's decision and the President's reaction here now?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, certainly, those guidelines gave a tremendous amount of discussion to the judge, as you indicated. But I think four years under the broader scheme of things does seem low to most former prosecutors in part because of what's happening, I think, in the District of Columbia, including the witness tampering, that he broke the plea deal, he showed some contempt for that process. In that instance, normally, if the range is 17 to 25, if there's the departure, there're rationales, reasons for the departures.
Comparisons, sure, but there's always in the law one-offs, right? There're always extraordinary circumstances where you don't necessarily file a President. And I think Paul Manafort, in this instance, is a unique individual.
As far as the collusion point, yes, I agree, this was not specifically very clearly not about collusion, but the President is going to make the most of it because he is in -- I think in some deep water based on Michael Cohen's testimony and other things that are happening in the Congress right now.
SCIUTTO: Sarah Westwood, we have you still at the White House. And, again, a lot to unpack from the President's comments there. But the President being forced really to react to two aggressive moves by North Korea in the timeframe since his second face-to-face meeting with no outcome with the North Korean leader, activity at missile sites, direct conflict of what the President described again as a very good relationship. But he did say, I'd be disappointed and surprised if testing were to continue again. Is this administration concerned that the relationship with North Korea is unraveling?
WESTWOOD: Well, certainly, the President has pointed repeatedly to the fact that North Korea hasn't tested a missile since that initial summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore as itself a victory. They say that they point to the fiery rhetoric that was going on between North Korea and the U.S. before the summit. And they say that that is a sign of progress. That is the fruit that came out of that first summit and has continued through the second summit. So if North Korea were to resume missile testing and were to start ramping up its provocations in a way that it was prior to President Trump sitting down with Kim Jong-un, that would take away the President's really only talking point when it comes to North Korea.
So we just heard President Trump say he would be surprised in a negative way if North Korea were to resume that aggressive behavior sort of dismissing concerns that potential we did see some sort of missile activity from North Korea yesterday.
SCIUTTO: Again, just to highlight the point, Jackie, to speak to you, because it is remarkable to hear a sitting President of the United States characterizing the entire party as an anti-Israel party and anti-Jewish party. We have pictures now, again, of the Charlottesville protest, which still were a shocking moment in the country's history in this modern time, to see people marching there with torches. And, again, the President had multiple opportunities there to call out this overt anti-Semitism, support for Nazi-ism and worse. But now, he is claiming the democrats have done the same.
The fact is this resolution did not call out Ilhan Omar by name.
KUCINICH: Not by name.
SCIUTTO: But also the fact is that 23 republicans did not vote in support of this anti-bigotry resolution. What's the explanation for that?
KUCINICH: So I think there is some anger among -- in the republican ranks as a result of that because everyone is going to either to vote against it because then it is just nakedly political or you're going to vote for it because it was an unobjectionable resolution. It kind of just condemned all hate.
SCIUTTO: And who's going to vote against the resolution.
KUCINICH: Right. But going back to the President real quick. I mean, he is a sloganeer. He likes slogans. And you can hear him saying what he said there on the line at a rally. It is quite a slogan. But you can -- that's where he immediately goes.
And I think that was one of the fears that democrats had as a result not only because of the hurt feelings and the raw feelings going on in their caucus right now and that were not dispelled by this resolution by an stretch. It is not settled at all.
But there also is this concern that they are ceding the moral high ground to the President and allowing him to have even the most minuscule anything to say those extreme things that he did say.
SCIUTTO: Yes. And I should note that the republicans who voted against the resolution, they are saying the rationale was because it did not name Omar specifically and because it was not only about anti- Semitism because it brought in this broader message about against hate at all times. Is that a reasonable explanation?
KUCINICH: For some of the members, yes. I mean, particularly, someone like Congressman Lee Zeldin, he was on the floor before the vote was even taken calling out Congresswoman Omar by name and saying that they needed to have a resolution basically to do that and saying that they were trying to take the focus off of her by adding all of these other groups to this resolution. So he is someone that has called her out on Twitter and was very vocal about why he particularly did not endorse that resolution.
SCIUTTO: Okay, all right. But before we go, and Evan and Kim, just quickly on this, the President, we were waiting for the Mueller report, as we have for some time. He sensed that it is coming soon. But as you hear the President here reacting to Manafort, you are getting a sample of how he might react to a Mueller report that does anything but list by bullet point specific instances of collusion with Russia., are we not?
PEREZ: I think -- look, I think the President and his team have a lot of reason to be feeling pretty good about this. I think, look, if the Mueller investigation had found people who had done this kind of conspiracy that reached a level where they could file charges against them, they would have done so. Certainly, they would have done so by now because the investigation is coming to a close.
Now, we don't know what else they found. We don't know whether they -- in his confidential report to the Attorney General, Nueller will say, look, we looked at this. We found all of these things, but it did not reach the level where we could bring charges that we could support. Maybe he describes that. And that's going to be pretty bad, right? But what the President will be able to do, as Jackie correctly points out, he is a sloganeer and I think he'll simply -- just simply go to Twitter and say, see, I told you this was a hoax, this was no collusion, and then the details will be left to the rest of us to sort of describe exactly what happened.
SCIUTTO: Kim, again, we don't know what's going to -- you know, it probably could be a surprise, but your reaction and whether you have a point?
WEHLE: Well, you know, I think the Mueller report, the Mueller campaign, the Mueller investigation, what we hear about that that's accurate comes from Mueller himself. So he hasn't leaked stuff in the past. We haven't had heads up on any kinds of indictments. So the idea that this is coming, I wonder where is that is coming from. It's not coming from Mueller so we can't have any confidence.
And I don't necessarily agree that we won't see additional indictments. We just don't know that information. But I do think it is very important what's on happens in Congress right now because we are -- I'm also a constitutional law professor, I have a book coming out on the constitution, we are at a constitutional crisis where there is a power struggle between the Congress, the courts and the President. And the more the President -- masses power, stokes hatred, stokes violent thoughts or violent actions potentially, the more we are sliding out of a traditional democracy.
And I think Americans have to understand it's not set in stone. We don't have a right to this process going forward. We have to be very vigilant about it.
SCIUTTO: No question, there can still be a lot of surprises. Kim, Evan, Jackie, Sarah at the White House, thanks very much.
Still to come, the President shrugging off those disappointing job numbers they were surprised. Did he just lose one of the very key things that he likes to tout about his administration? More coming up.
[10:19:02] SCIUTTO: A resolution condemning hate overwhelmingly passed in the House but it was not pretty getting there for democrats, lots of divisions internally on full display over comments by representative Ilhan Omar, her comments about Israel. So how does the party now move forward?
Joining me is Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama. Congresswomen, very good to have you on this morning, thank you for taking the time.
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), A.L.: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: First, I want to get you to react to comments from the President just moments ago. He just described the entire Democratic Party as an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish party. Your reaction? SEWELL: That's obviously false. I think that the resolution yesterday was about anti-hate and being very much about making sure all of us -- this is not a partisan issue. Hate in this society has really risen a lot with this President and his administration. And frankly, I think it's important that we lay down a marker that hate in all of its forms are unacceptable and un-American.
SCIUTTO: No one will argue with that point. Why no mention in the resolution of the comments which sparked the desire, frankly, for the resolution, and that, of course, the comments by Representative Omar? And not just one comment but a series of comments that were read by many as including long time tropes about anti-Semitism? Why no mention of that in this resolution?
SEWELL: Well, I mean, I think that it was important for us to talk broadly about all relevant comments that had been made not just by folks here in Congress but also by this President and really unequivocally call out hatred in all of its forms. So, today, we're going to have an opportunity to vote in a few minutes. And I thank you for moving up my head town [ph].
We're about to vote on democratic reforms that I think that American people are calling for. They want to see us work in a bipartisan way for the people. And I think that H.R. 1 is a great foundation for us to really lay down another marker and let the American people know that we want to work. Government should be working for the people and on behalf of the people, all of the people and should be inclusive.
I think that the latest Tweet by the President is just another way to divide us and we shouldn't allow that to happen. And, frankly, that's what this resolution was -- for me, it was an opportunity for us to talk about hate in all of its forms and call it out as un-American, no matter whether it's coming from the White House or if it's coming from a member of Congress or it's coming from a fellow American. We should call out hate in all of its forms.
SCIUTTO: Let's talk about what you're voting on today because H.R. 1, this is quite expansive and it fits with what the message was that democrats were attempting to sell in the midterm election, and that is that we are doers. We're going to get on your --
SEWELL: And I don't think they're just attempting to sell it [ph], but we actually --
SCIUTTO: No, I'm not saying that in any disparaging way. I mean, my point is this, is that what seems to have made the difference for democrats in the midterms was running moderate candidates to flip red districts to blue, had a lot of success, and a lot of the folks who did that were pushing for things like this that had broad bases of support among voters, more affordable healthcare, for instance.
And yet, in the two months since taking office, as you know, a lot of your colleagues pulling you to decisions much further to the left than positions of many of those moderates who flip those districts. I had one of your fellow democrats on in the last hour who talked about there being extremes on both sides in both parties, a reference to extremist positions within the Democratic Party. I wonder if you share that concern that some members are pulling the party so far to the left that it endangers your majority but also the White House in 2020.
SEWELL: Well, listen, I think that -- I'm a Vice Chair of the new democratic coalition. We are pro-growth democrats, probably more moderate into the center. And I represent Alabama. And until Doug Jones was elected, I was the only democrat in our delegation. So I am concerned that we as a party make sure that we strengthen our majority. And the best way to do that is to definitely continue to flip those seats that are red to blue and to strengthen our hand. And I also know that --
SCIUTTO: Are you concerned that some of your colleagues are taking the party in too extreme of a direction?
SEWELL: Well, I think that there's is a concern that both parties have are extreme far left and extreme far right. But I think that you govern in the middle. I do believe that most Americans, especially in the red states like Alabama, are more moderate. And so I think that it's important for us to make sure that we cover the full spectrum.
You know, I personally sit on ways and means. And I'm looking forward to soaring [ph] up the Affordable Care Act and providing market stability, be that in the form of reinsurance. But I think it's really important that everybody is covered. So, for example, in Alabama we didn't expand Medicaid, which was not supposed to be an option. But the Supreme Court made it an option with the Affordable Care Act.
So it's important for me that we have universal health coverage for everyone. And I think that's the key. So while I'm not supportive of Medicare for all, I am supportive of universal healthcare.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about voting rights, because that, of course, part of what you're voting on today. And I know it's an issue close to your heart as well.
SCIUTTO: You have heard Senator Mitch McConnell, of course, the majority leader in the Senate, dismissed this as a power grab by democrats, the Democratic Party Protection Act, I think, he referred to it as. Your response to that claim.
SEWELL: You know, that's absolutely not true. We just got through celebrating yesterday the 54th anniversary of bloody Sunday.
And this past weekend, I brought 40 plus members of Congress, it was bicameral and bipartisan, and to really celebrate the meaning of bloody Sunday, which was a colleague like John Lewis being bludgeoned on a bridge for the right of all Americans, all American citizens to vote.
And so this is not a power grab. Voting rights should not be a partisan issue. I would welcome Mitch McConnell and other republicans signing on to my bill, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore Section 4 and enforceability, the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
H.R. 1 is very much in line with providing more transparency and more opportunity and access to the ballot box for all Americans. It's unacceptable when state legislators are using their power, talk about a power grab, states like North Dakota, not just states of the Confederacy, like Alabama, but states like North Dakota instituted a law that you have to -- in order to register to vote, you had to have a physical address, knowing that folks on tribal lands, Indian country, mostly have P.O. boxes.
Now, those are targeted state restrictive voting laws that are un- American, unacceptable and all of us, especially those of us who are elected officials, whether republicans or democrats, should be about making sure that every American has access to the ballot box.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, listen, you had a race overturned, right, North Carolina, because of actual election fraud in the last cycle.
SEWELL: Yes, absolutely.
SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Terri Sewell, thank you so much for joining us. I look forward to having you back on the air.
SEWELL: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, new job numbers are in, a big surprise on the downside. What does this all mean for the economy and what does it mean for you?