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2020 Presidential Candidates Fan out Across the Country; Interview with Anthony Scaramucci; 2015 Comments by Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore Uncovered. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 16, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00] ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The second part is that the company has to comply with a lawful subpoena or go to court. And at this point, I think it will become a court decision. But again, in my view, the committee has jurisdiction over it. There's a legal right for them to get it. And the question of whether there's political motive, we often see in America that actions taken by the United States Congress are both oversight and politics. And the fact that there's a legitimate oversight purpose is part of the law.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I mean, if it's true, though, that Trump's lawyers are telling the Treasury Department General Counsel, basically, "Ignore this request from Democrats," what could the fallout be?

MILGRAM: Yes. I think that's a terrible way to proceed. And I should say this. That, you know, this belongs in a court, right? The -- the companies have been subpoenaed. The companies have to comply with those subpoenas, or a court has to tell them they don't have to.

So either the company needs to go to court and say, "We've been asked not to," or the Treasury Department needs to intervene and go to court and say, "We don't think that this is -- we should -- that this should be turned over." But someone -- there's a process for which this should be decided, that I would respect if the court said, "Turn it over" or "Not turn it over," I would respect that. But not to just say, "Don't follow the law."

CABRERA: All right. Anne Milgram --

MILGRAM: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- always appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:35:48] CABRERA: 2020 campaigning in full swing. Iowa winning the popularity contest today but candidates, as you can see, they're fanned out really across the country. Leyla Santiago joins us in Norfolk, Virginia with Beto O'Rourke.

Leyla, this is O'Rourke's first speech since he released his tax returns. Can we expect him to go after --

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

CABRERA: -- President Trump about that today?

SANTIAGO: You know, he really didn't talk about it. He wasn't asked about it today. But, you know, we did look into them. He released 10 years of the tax returns that he filed jointly with his wife, Amy, the last one, 2017. Showing where his money comes from and that they reported an income of about $327,000.

Yesterday when I spoke with him about that, he did call for President Trump to release his tax records, saying he believes every presidential candidate should do so. And he believes that if President Trump has to be compelled to do so through a subpoena, so be it. That said, he wasn't asked about it in this town hall, the first stop here in Virginia.

But he was -- he did talk quite a bit about gun violence. And you've got to take timing here. Today is the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. So he brought that into his talk today with the people here, acknowledging the 32 people who died when that happened here in Virginia, and calling for universal background checks on guns.

His next stop? Also in Virginia tonight. He will be heading to Charlottesville, where I imagine he will absolutely be talking about what happened there in 2017 -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Leyla Santiago in Norfolk, Virginia. Thanks.

This morning before he heads to Iowa, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made a quick stop here in New York, this as he faces recent scrutiny over his lack of diversity at campaign events. Listen to what he told our colleagues Poppy Harlow and John Avlon about that this morning on "NEW DAY."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think we need to do better. You know, as I've been on the trail, we found, to some extent, it depends on geography. We had a very diverse crowd at my first stop in Nevada, but less so in South Carolina.

And one of the most important things you can achieve in South Carolina, is engage with African-American voters in particular --

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

BUTTIGIEG: -- which represents such an important part of our party's coalition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Buttigieg went on to say he is working to build a more diverse team. And next Monday night, join us for a special event, five Democratic

presidential candidates in a series of town halls live from New Hampshire, including Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. It starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

In the meantime, still leading Democratic polls is former Vice President Joe Biden, although he hasn't even entered the race yet. Today, Biden is in South Carolina where, in just a few minutes, he will deliver the eulogy at the funeral of the late senator from South Carolina, Fritz Hollings. And our Arlette Saenz is in Charleston with more on this.

Good morning, Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, Ana. Well, Joe Biden is returning here to South Carolina, not as a presidential candidate but as a political eulogist as he's set to deliver a eulogy for his longtime friend and former senator, Fritz Hollings. This is a man that Biden credits with helping him remain in the Senate after that tragic car accident that took the life of his first wife and young daughter back in 1972.

And a short while ago, we saw Secretary of State John Kerry arriving, as well as former Senator Chris Dodd. The former vice president is about to walk into the church in a short moment.

But Biden has really become this go-to political eulogist over the years, eulogizing people like Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John McCain, even Senator Strom Thurmond, that controversial segregationist from here in South Carolina.

But Biden's friends and allies point to these eulogies, these remembrances as part of a political asset for Biden, his ability to empathize and comfort those in their moments of grief.

Biden's ability to connect with people, of course, was borne out of his own experience with tragedy, first with the death of his wife and daughter and then later, in 2015, after the death of his son Bo Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware, from cancer.

[10:40:03] But this -- these types of remembrances also highlight a complicated political dynamic for Joe Biden. It highlights his more than four decades' long career in Washington, at a time when some Democratic primary voters want to see more fresh-faced, diverse candidates.

But today, here in South Carolina, the focus isn't going to be on 2020 or politics. Biden is expected to keep these remarks very personal -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Arlette Saenz, thank you for that.

Up next, the strategy White House officials say they will use when the redacted Mueller report is released. We'll talk to a former White House staffer about this. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:06] CABRERA: White House officials say they have a plan in place for when the redacted Mueller report is released on Thursday. They tell CNN they're going to let the Justice Department handle this because public opinion has already been mostly made up. But will they stick to that strategy if damaging details surface in this report? Joining us now, Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump White House director of communications.

Anthony, good to have you with us. How do you --

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: Good morning.

CABRERA: -- interpret the president's ongoing attacks? I look at his Twitter feed in the last 24 hours, he's still going after --

SCARAMUCCI: Yes.

CABRERA: -- Mueller and his investigators and this investigation, still calling it a witch hunt. Do you think he seems nervous?

SCARAMUCCI: No. That's the -- that's his strategy. So it's not him being nervous, but that's him imprinting his branding. It's like when he walks up to the press gaggle before the report was -- or the four- page memo was released, and he says, "No collusion," and then he starts the press conversation.

So it's interesting. Says (ph) he's thinking a lot about branding. He tweeted about the 737 Max, and his expertise at branding --

CABRERA: But if his branding is to try to poke holes in the credibility --

SCARAMUCCI: Yes.

CABRERA: -- the Mueller report --

SCARAMUCCI: No question.

CABRERA: -- then why would he want to do that if it is going to --

SCARAMUCCI: Because he's expecting that --

CABRERA: -- vindicate him?

SCARAMUCCI: -- he's expecting that all the good news is out there now, and there's 400 pages of information. And somebody like the president would have the sense to know that in 400 pages, there's more than syllables -- there's likely paragraphs that probably are going to look not great, for him or people in the administration or people in the transition.

And so that doesn't mean anybody did anything wrong, but they could have been approached by people and they could have had conversations with people that they probably shouldn't have. Maybe that was more borne from naivete than it was from anything sinister.

But I think that the right strategy would be to lay low. Public opinion is already out there. I think most of the public has this in their rearview mirror. When the report comes out, there will be people inside the beltway and up here in New York, that will analyze it and offer their criticisms. But at the end of the day, I think it's behind the president. And so I wouldn't be pushing it too hard.

CABRERA: But why would they be preparing a rebuttal if there's nothing to worry about?

SCARAMUCCI: Because he understands the game now, you know? I mean, oftentimes during the campaign and even my short stay in the White House, people looked to President Bush getting lambasted from 2006 to 2008, and the Bush strategy was to take the statesmanship, presidential point of view and it didn't really work for him. His approval ratings went into steady decline.

And so the president has been counterattacking and counterpunching for four to five decades. And so it would make sense for him to have a counterpunching (ph) strategy. But I predict that there's nobody carrying the president's water inside the Department of Justice.

William Barr, who's been around for 30 to 40 years, is a highly -- a man of very high integrity. Moreover, Rod Rosenstein, who I know for 33 years personally, was literally in my section in law school, and who I revisited two Fridays ago at the Harvard Law School 30th year reunion, is a straight-up guy. He's, like, literally, like, a legal Boy Scout.

So there's no way, I think, that there's really dark things in the Mueller report. That stuff would have already come out by now.

CABRERA: OK. So if you trust that -- you trust Barr, you trust Rod Rosenstein, you saw their principal conclusions -- should the president then order the full Mueller report to be released without redactions?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think, you know, that goes back to the Ken Starr situation with President Clinton. There's probably third parties in there that you don't want to put them in a false light. There are probably people that got their testimony out there about other people, that I think that the Justice Department would probably want to keep that withheld as well.

TEXT: Attorney General Barr's Letter on Mueller Report: "The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'"

SCARAMUCCI: Remember, if they go to a full-blown report, future reports, future special counsels are going to have a lot harder time interviewing people. And so I think it would make sense to have a redacted report to particularly protect innocent people --

CABRERA: But as you know, that's going to leave a lot of questions --

SCARAMUCCI: -- it could be --

CABRERA: -- people wondering what was redacted.

SCARAMUCCI: You know, it will and it won't. Because we're in a very short stay news cycle. Four weeks from now, six months from now, as we're gearing up into the presidential election, I don't think it's really going to be anything other than background noise.

So I would say, let's not focus on today because today is quite impermanent. Let's focus on the long-term strategy --

CABRERA: OK.

SCARAMUCCI: -- to win re-election.

CABRERA: So let's talk about the long-term impact, then, of the president's attacks on the media. Because you wrote an op-ed about just that --

SCARAMUCCI: Yes.

CABRERA: -- just in the last 24 hours. It's entitled, "Mr. President, the press is not the enemy of the people." And let me read part of it. It says, "In many ways, the press is the savior of the republic and one of the cornerstone ingredients that has led the great American experiment to prosperity and power over its 243 years."

TEXT: In many ways, the press is the savior of the republic and one of the cornerstone ingredients that has led the great American experiment to prosperity and power over its 243 years. The press may be flawed, it may offer bias, it may be self-righteous and sanctimonious and highly critical, but it is serving the exact purpose that the country's Founders wanted. The press, and I mean all of it, is the" --

CABRERA: "The press may be flawed, it may offer bias, it may be self- righteous and sanctimonious and highly critical, but it is serving the exact purpose that the country's founders wanted." Why did you decide to write this now?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think it's very important. Actually, somebody from "The Hill" reached out to me. I think I was actually on "CNN NEW DAY."

[10:50:00] Where I said, "Listen, the press is just not the enemy of the people." If you really understand the foundational principles of our democracy and the prevention of tyranny that the founders really wanted, the number one person that they were trying to protect, the most important minority in the Western civilization is the individual. And so the way you protect an individual is, you diffuse (ph) power and you have to hold people in power accountable.

So the press has a lot of different mechanisms. But one is to hold people in power accountable.

CABRERA: Yes. SCARAMUCCI: You remember, I turned the lights and cameras back on the

first day I got there.

Second thing, which I think is super-important. If we can teach our children to speak freely, they will think freely and they will go on and create things like CNN, Ted Turner, or like Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. And so our society is made better by a free press. And so he is the leader of --

CABRERA: Do you believe the president's attacks on journalists --

SCARAMUCCI: He's the leader of the free world.

CABRERA: -- are dangerous?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. I mean, there are people that would say that. I'm not in the -- you know, I don't have any police experience or any security experience --

CABRERA: But (ph) do you say that the free press is very important --

SCARAMUCCI: But I would prefer --

CABRERA: -- and you don't think he should --

SCARAMUCCI: -- I would prefer him --

CABRERA: -- go after them?

SCARAMUCCI: -- I would prefer him not to do that. I would prefer him not to say they're the enemy of the people. If he wants to hit very, very hard in a counter-punching way against false stories or specific journalists that have written false things about him, I totally understand that. But just saying these blanket things.

And I also write in the article, you can't parse it out and say, "Well, it's just the fake news media" and it's not the whole press --

CABRERA: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: -- I said that's a little bit of a cop-out.

CABRERA: Yes.

SCARAMUCCI: Let's back off from the press. It's a cornerstone institution in our civilization. It's the first amendment in the Constitution for a reason. It's an a priori thing that we have in our society.

And, by the way, I've been burnt up by the press. I've been lit up on late-night comedy. I've been tabloided in places like the "New York Post." There's been unflattering things said about me in a lot of places including CNN. And so I think I have standing on this thing. At the end of the day, it's their right to say that. I elected to go into the public domain. And it's their right to offer their criticism, pluses or negative. And I think it's very, very dangerous for the president to do this

because what he will do is, he will scare the 10 to 15 percent of the people that he needs to win re-election.

I also point out in the article, I think he's --

CABRERA: That's not going to be politically smart for him --

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: -- but I think he's doing -- yeah, I think he's doing a great job.

CABRERA: -- independents, because of the Constitution, conservatives --

SCARAMUCCI: But I also say in the article, he's doing a great job.

CABRERA: Yes.

SCARAMUCCI: I'd like to see him be re-elected. Knock this off. It'll help you strategically towards your re-election goals.

CABRERA: Anthony Scaramucci, good to have you with us.

SCARAMUCCI; It's great to be -- thank you for having me.

CABRERA: Thank you so much --

SCARAMUCCI: I appreciate it.

CABRERA: -- for coming on.

Two influential voices who guide President Trump on the economy, caught on tape in 2015 slamming his immigration policies. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:02] CABRERA: Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore are two of the strongest voices guiding President Trump on economic policy, but they didn't always agree with him.

In fact in a 2015 radio interview, Stephen Moore, President Trump's current pick to serve on the Federal Reserve, called then-candidate Trump's positions on immigration "crazy and dangerous." And Kudlow, Trump's senior economic advisor, said "Real Republicans do not support Trump's immigration policies."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: "I think it shocked a lot of people, you know, going house to house and deporting illegals, repealing the Fourteenth Amendment... the Republican Party's very much against what Trump wants.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN's Andrew Kaczynski is here with us now.

That little clip is really just a snippet, such a small piece of what you uncovered.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, KFILE: Yes. It's almost, like, hard to summarize in just one interview. Kudlow compared Trump's policies on immigration to the Holocaust -- twice -- in that interview, twice. He disparages Trump supporters as the nativist fringe. That's also a word that Moore uses to describe Trump, "nativist."

And it's very interesting because, you know, we've reached out to Kudlow and he immediately sort of apologized to us in a statement. He said he never should have said it. But Moore also criticized Trump as well, which I think we have a clip of.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHEN MOORE, FEDERAL RESERVE GOVERNOR NOMINEE: I think it's a crazy policy. I think it's bad economics and I think it's even worse politics. It's terrible economics because, look, immigrants who come to this country to work, those are the people we want.

"I'm with him when he says that we shouldn't let, you know, immigrants get welfare. But the vast majority of immigrants come to this country because they want a job. Because they want, you know, economic opportunity."

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CABRERA: So he said that then. What's he saying now?

KACZYNSKI: So he said to me, when I talked to him on the phone, he said, I think -- I -- so he said, quote, "I said a lot of negative things about Donald Trump before I met him."

The reason this is so interesting is because he has sort of these positions that he previously held, like supporting the gold standard or saying there should be no minimum wage, saying we should abolish the Federal Reserve, which he was nominated to --

CABRERA: To be on, now.

KACZYNSKI: -- be on. And he's either walked back or totally changed on those positions. So it leaves him open to a lot of criticism, he's done this for political expediency.

CABRERA: We have about 30 seconds here. So is it your understanding that both of these men actually changed their minds about what they previously believed? Or they're just now trying to cover their tracks?

KACZYNSKI: You know, it's a little more nuanced, sort of just in that they became on (ph) board with the Trump campaign. He sort of adopted their positions on economics. I think they still have these strongly held beliefs, but they're willing to maybe push them aside or downplay them so they can get Trump to push the economic message that they want.

[11:00:02] CABRERA: So now the question is, will the president be able to just sort of look and push these aside and continue to support them.