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Anthony Scaramucci on Trump's Comments; Trump Clarifies Stance on Foreign Dirt; Iran Removed Mine from Tanker. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 14, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Wouldn't want to lose her.

Anthony SCARAMUCCI,: She's been unbelievably loyal, you know. And so --

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about what the president said. And that is, when you heard the president say that, yes, he would do it all over again, he would again be open for business and accept dirt on an opponent from a foreign adversary, what went through your head?

SCARAMUCCI: I was -- I was calling my Norwegian friends to see if they had any information on Joe Biden.

CAMEROTA: He said that he would -- from -- he said any -- any country -- wait, hold on. He was asked -- so it could be Russia.

SCARAMUCCI: But he did walk back though -- that --

CAMEROTA: It could be China. It could be Venezuela. It could, God forbid, be Norway. What did you think when you heard the president say he would do (INAUDIBLE).

SCARAMUCCI: OK. The first thing I thought was like, I wish he didn't say it. I get the point of what he is trying to make. It's -- it's indefensible, so I'm not here to defend it. And he walked it back.

I mean, listen, here's the other thing about the president, OK, he is an off the cuff guy. What made him president and made him successful is that level of authenticity. And so sometimes he's talking in a very relaxed, uncontrolled manner. And, listen, I mean, he walked it back. So what do --

CAMEROTA: But do you -- did you believe --

SCARAMUCCI: What do you want -- this is another thing, we can't hold everybody accountable for every single syllable.

CAMEROTA: No, but he sounded off --

SCARAMUCCI: We're having a hard time in our society doing that as well.

CAMEROTA: Understood.

He sounded authentic. He sounded authentic when he said it.

So do you think he would accept the help, even though he walked it back today?

SCARAMUCCI: You have to remember -- OK, listen to the whole transcript, though, OK. They're bringing up his son. He's very, very protective of his son. He's like reading about his son going to jail as he referenced. He didn't think that was fair. I know Don very, very well. I think Don's a very honest guy, Don Junior.


SCARAMUCCI: And so he was trying to defend his son at the same time.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but do you think --

SCARAMUCCI: So put yourself in the role of a parent, OK.

CAMEROTA: Sure, but --

SCARAMUCCI: Someone's coming after your kid.


SCARAMUCCI: And he's sitting there saying, OK, listen, I want -- I'm defending my son and he's explaining -- he was really trying to pars the thing and saying, listen, it was totally inappropriate. Of course I'm going to the FBI. But the flipside is I can understand --

CAMEROTA: He didn't say that. He did not say that.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, he sort of said it. Go look at the transcript.

CAMEROTA: But I guess the point is, is that he sounded like, yes, he would take help.

SCARAMUCCI: But -- but you asked -- you asked a different question before that was like --

CAMEROTA: My question now.

SCARAMUCCI: Why are the Republicans not coming out on -- on this thing. They should. And so should the president.

CAMEROTA: There, my question --

SCARAMUCCI: The president should say, you know what, I should walk that back. I made a mistake saying it and let's sign that law.

CAMEROTA: Yes, my question is, do you think that he would still accept dirt?

SCARAMUCCI: I personally don't think he would, OK, because he -- he's not that -- he doesn't have that personality. He -- he's the type of guy where --

CAMEROTA: They did have that personality. They did invite the Russians into Trump Tower.

SCARAMUCCI: Not him. He didn't -- he didn't -- he didn't --

CAMEROTA: He didn't know anything about it.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, but read the -- you read the Mueller report.


SCARAMUCCI: I read the Mueller report. There was no criminal intent on the president's behalf. Go -- go read the part two section and the analytical commentary from Mueller.

CAMEROTA: So thought he said, yes, I'd be interested in hearing it, you don't think he was being honest?

SCARAMUCCI: I think he was trying to -- I honestly think he was trying to defend his son in the context of the conversation with George Stephanopoulos. But I don't think he would take the information. He certainly walked it back this morning.

But I think more importantly, a question that you asked earlier is, should the Republicans sign a bill that says, hey, we're going to leave foreign agents out of our election process. I think they should do that. I think there's no reason not to do that. I think the president should support that.

CAMEROTA: You think the president --

SCARAMUCCI: He's not going to do it anyways, so just support it.

CAMEROTA: And you think the president, if -- if Russia came calling, this go around he would call the FBI, you think?

SCARAMUCCI: I do because I think that he would probably -- knowing his personality, he's super smart, he would think it was like a trap, too. I mean he would be definitely first person to call the FBI.

CAMEROTA: You know, twice now, in just the past week or so, the president has had these interviews that have not gone that well. That there has been backlash after them. One of them was on D-Day in Normandy, the backdrop were the gravestones of the fallen from D-Day, and he was on Fox, and then -- and out of that, on foreign soil, he criticized a U.S. leader, Nancy Pelosi, in pretty harsh terms. Then he had this one with George Stephanopoulos.

Who in the White House let these moments happen?

SCARAMUCCI: OK, well, first of all, I mean the president is his own coms director, as you know, are very well aware of that.

I mean the thing I would say to the president, if he was listening to me is, I'd say, listen, you're going into a re-election cycle. People are going to -- you've been analyzed to the electron microscopic level, but it's going to go even deeper than that. And I would point out that Governor Romney probably trounced President Obama in the first debate in 2012 --


SCARAMUCCI: Because what ends up happening is when you're president you don't have a lot of people around you that are giving you, you know, hit the hammer on the head of the nail advice.

CAMEROTA: But wouldn't you have stopped him from sitting in front of the gravestones on D-Day and criticizing a U.S. --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I -- I would have probably -- I would have probably said to him, OK, listen, we're on a -- we're -- you know, you're going to probably get asked some tough questions. You're sitting here with all these graves behind you. Take into context the atmosphere.

But you have to also understand, like what happens a lot for him, you know, he would say 90 percent of the media is against him. He's always in an embattled position. And he feels he has to fight back.

He would also point out the people like George W. Bush, who didn't fight back after the 2006 midterms --


SCARAMUCCI: Got annihilated. And so -- so he's --

CAMEROTA: But you're saying that he made that decision to sit there in front of those gravestones and to criticize Nancy Pelosi?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I think so. Yes. And I -- but I also -- but I also want to put you in his frame of mind for a second, OK? You're taking constant incoming. OK, 90 percent of the media -- don't go by me, that's an objective study -- is against you. And he's made the decision, if I'm not the guy fighting back, who's going to fight back on my behalf? And he's watched other politicians who have not fought back in the same situation and they end up getting annihilated, Alisyn.

[08:35:09] So -- so, I mean, listen, are -- should he be more strategic, should he be more selective, should he have more verbal discipline now that he's going into the election? I mean all of those things are obvious, but you have to at least understand the context of where he's coming from.

CAMEROTA: And you don't think that's why Sarah Sanders is leaving?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I think -- I mean that's like -- I mean she's three and a half years. Remember, it's a year in the campaign.


SCARAMUCCI: Two and a half in the White House.

CAMEROTA: She's just --

SCARAMUCCI: I mean that's a brutal time. I mean that's like a -- like 350 Muccis (ph) or something like that. I mean that is a --

CAMEROTA: Yes, we do use that time reference.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, that is a -- that is a brutal -- and, by the way, she did a great job. I know people are -- have mixed views of her in places like this, but I love her and I think she did a great job and she's an -- an honest broker --

CAMEROTA: You think so? Is that what you --

SCARAMUCCI: I do think so, yes.

CAMEROTA: She admitted in the Mueller report that she lied.

SCARAMUCCI: Come on, it's a very -- it's very tough, Alisyn, OK.

CAMEROTA: But very tough is different than being an honest broker, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: It's very tough. Alisyn, you're looking, you're looking for purity and you're not going to get it in any of us.

CAMEROTA: I'm looking for honesty.

SCARAMUCCI: I know you are, but, I mean, we all have touches of gray.

CAMEROTA: Can't we count on the press secretary to the White House to be honest?

SCARAMUCCI: Alisyn, Alisyn, don't be sanctimonious. We all have touches of gray in our personality.

CAMEROTA: You don't think that the American public --

SCARAMUCCI: You can't --

CAMEROTA: Should count on the White House press secretary to be honest?

SCARAMUCCI: And -- and I would tell you that, to the best of her capability and best of her intent, in each and every situation, she absolutely tried to do that. Did she make mistakes? Did she say things that she wanted to course correct? No question. Tell me a person in our civilization that hasn't had to do that in their life.

CAMEROTA: Very, very quickly, you have said that you would be willing to go back to the White House. That job is now open. Here's what the president just said about your offer to go back to the White House. Listen to this.

SCARAMUCCI: I don't remember offering, but I said I would go back, yes.

CAMEROTA: Listen to this.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, go ahead. Hold on. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I like Anthony, and he's been very nice and all but I think Anthony -- he should stay where he is right now.


TRUMP: He's doing a -- he's --

KILMEADE: Stephanie --

TRUMP: And he's doing a good job and let's -- let's keep it that way for a little while. well,


SCARAMUCCI: Well, look, I mean, first of all, he's given me really good advice. He's my -- I said on one of the other networks, I would like to stay married, Alisyn. Shouldn't that be a goal for all of us today (ph). And so --

CAMEROTA: It is a good goal. But President Trump is your marriage counselor?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, he's my marriage counselor, OK. Is that OK? I mean he gave me -- he's giving me very good advice over the year there, all right?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I mean he has had a few different wives, just to point out the irony of what you're saying and -- and some problems with some of them.

SCARAMUCCI: He's had a few different wives, but I would -- I would like to stay with my -- I would like to -- I happen to love my wife. We patched things up. We're doing quite well.

CAMEROTA: Happy to hear that.

SCARAMUCCI: And the other thing is, I like keeping my hair, OK? I think on the fourth day I was at the shower at the White House watching the hair go into the drain. I'd like to keep my hair as well, Alisyn.


SCARAMUCCI: Keep the wife. Keep the hair. I'm going to have a great Father's Day.

CAMEROTA: And he said, stay right where you are. I guess he means on CNN.

Anthony Scaramucci --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm here with you. CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. We appreciate the insight.

Let's get to John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks so much, Alisyn, and Happy Father's Day to you, Anthony.

I will say this, in terms of whether it was a backtrack from the president, he still does say he would listen to foreign adversaries offering dirt on political opponents because how else the president says would you know what they're going to talk about. We'll analyze that fresh sound for you next.


[08:42:00] BERMAN: So just moments ago President Trump seemed to be trying to clean up what he said earlier this week about being willing to listen to foreign adversaries offering dirt on political opponents and whether he would report it to the FBI. Listen to this.


PRESET: First of all, I don't think anybody would present me with anything bad because they know how much I love this country. Nobody's going to present me with anything bad.

Number two, if I was -- and, of course, you have to look at it, because if you don't look at it you're not going to know if it's bad. How are you going to know if it's bad? But, of course, you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that. But, of course, you do that. You --


BERMAN: I want to bring in the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," Fareed Zakaria.

How are you going to know it's bad unless you listen to it? Is that the way that vetting intelligence from foreign adversaries works?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, it could be the weather report. Who knows what it is. That seems to be Donald Trump's defense now. All I meant was I would read it to literally tell whether or not it was the daily -- you know, the newspaper, the weather or actually intelligence.

No, I mean, I think this is as close as you'll get to Donald Trump saying he was wrong, which is to say he'll never say he was wrong, but what he's saying now is essentially the opposite of what he said to George Stephanopoulos.

BERMAN: It is. It is the opposite. And it does force one to question which one to believe because before he was explicit on whether or not he would report it to the FBI. He made a point of lying about whether he's reported anything to the FBI before. He says, in my life I've never reported anything to the FBI. And now he's saying, of course I would.

ZAKARIA: I think what's -- what's puzzling about it is, was -- I wondered whether the reaction to Stephanopoulos initially was because he was trying to minimize the -- you know, the issue. After all, the Mueller report makes clear, the Russians did try to help him during the election. They did offer dirt. They didn't deliver on it. And perhaps he was trying to say, well, that's not a big deal, right? And it could have been that and then he found that it snowballed into something bigger and so he's now backtracking.

BERMAN: Just, again, you know, based on your vast knowledge of these foreign adversaries and their intelligence services, even if they listened to the president and try to clean this up this morning, will that deter them?

ZAKARIA: Well, I think that what they -- what the -- the sad thing here is he seems to accept it as a matter of course rather than being outraged by the idea that there should be any foreign interference. After all, this is the core of Democracy, right, do you want free, fair elections that are seen as untainted and legitimate. For Trump it seems like it's a big free-for-all. Everyone's trying to do whatever they can. You get help from whomever you want. No, that's not how elections work in a free society.

BERMAN: Again, we still have this banner up that says Trump clarifies his stance. He still says he'd be willing to listen. He says, how are you going to know it's bad unless you listen.

Fareed, I want your take on the other breaking news from overnight. CNN obtained this video that U.S. officials tell us shows the Iranians removing a mine from one of the tankers that was attacked near the Straits of Hormuz overnight. Again, removing the mine. U.S. officials say this seems to indicate the Iranians were trying to cover up what they were doing.

[08:45:08] Do you think the intelligence, based on what you have seen, indicates the Iranians were behind this and why? Why would the Iranians do this now?

ZAKARIA: So I think it's -- it's a fair conclusion to draw that the -- that the Iranians in some way are behind this. And I think the reason they're doing it is this. Look, the United States under Trump has put Iran in a corner, backed Iran into a corner with unimaginable pressure. They have reneged on the Iran deal, even though Iran was abiding by this. They've slapped sanctions on Iran. They've threatened sanctions on any other country in the world that does business with Iran. They've sent 1,500 more troops into the Persian Gulf. In that circumstance, the Iranians, I think, may be trying to signal, or some faction within that government, because it is also divided, they might be trying to signal, look, we have options, too. We have leverage. We can do things that raise the price of oil. We can strike against your interests.

Remember, the Iranians have the ability to strike in Iraq, where there are U.S. troops, in Syria, in Lebanon and, of course, in the Straits of Hormuz, where a very large part of the world's oil goes through. So they might be -- when pressed like this, trying to show, we have leverage.

BERMAN: Does there need to be a U.S. military response if they firmly believe the Iranians were behind an attack on tankers?

ZAKARIA: I think we have to step back and ask ourselves, what is our strategy toward Iran? Why are we putting this enormous amount of pressure on Iran? Are we trying to do regime change? If we're trying to do regime change, it is not going to happen without substantial American military force. That would be a massive foreign intervention. If not, what are we trying to do? Why are we not trying to do it in coordination with our allies?

I think right now the Trump administration does not have a strategy towards Iran, it has a series of impulses and reflexes. We don't like Obama. We're going to do the opposite of what they're doing. That is not a strategy. Those are impulses.

BERMAN: So, Fareed, you just had a news making interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was at the Council on Foreign Relations, correct?

ZAKARIA: Correct.

BERMAN: And the subject -- the subject of the day and almost every day for the House speaker now seems to be whether or not to open an official impeachment inquiry. Let's listen to what she told you.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't think there's anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States. And so you have to handle it with great care.

You shouldn't impeach politically and you shouldn't not impeach politically, but you -- we must always remember, we have a responsibility for oneness because that is the strength of our -- that is the strength of our country.


BERMAN: So what did you take from this?

ZAKARIA: She's sticking to her guns. I think the thing that is impressive about Nancy Pelosi is, she thinks this out two, three, four steps out, you know, and she's asking herself, look, the Mueller report is out there. Impeachment hearings are not like the Watergate hearings going to reveal new things. They will essentially just stage what we already know from the Mueller report. The country is against impeachment. It's never going to succeed because the Senate is in lockstep with Donald Trump there. You're not going to get two-thirds of the Senate to convict.

In that circumstance, the way she nets it out, it doesn't happen, it doesn't work, Trump's base gets energized, you know, it fails, why do it? And I think she is -- she's very disciplined. She's very tough. She realizes it's not going to go anywhere and so she is slow rolling it. And she has -- you know, she has had this view from the start. She has managed miraculously to keep her caucus together while holding to her -- to her pretty hard line on this issue.

BERMAN: Very quickly, does this -- these new statements the president said, he's willing to listen to foreign adversaries, give her a new legislative avenue to at least pass something?

ZAKARIA: Yes, I think the -- the main takeaway I get from all -- so much of what Trump is doing, the president is too unconstrained in this country. We have -- we have assumed that we will have presidents of good will who will release their taxes, put their businesses in blind trusts, you know, do a certain -- a whole bunch of things that were norms not laws. Congress needs to come in and pass a kind of Trump package of constraints on the executive branch that require by law some of the things that used to be done as norms and conventions.

BERMAN: All right, Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," we look forward to the show on Sunday. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ZAKARIA: A pleasure.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.


[08:53:34] CAMEROTA: OK, so it's Friday and I thought I should give a little special shout-out to journalism this morning.

BERMAN: Yay, journalism.

CAMEROTA: Yesterday I got to be a part of this wonderful event and I want to share some pictures with all of you. It was the Mirror Awards given out by the New House School at Syracuse University. It honored excellent journalists from outlets such as "Politico," "BuzzFeed," "The New Yorker" and the big award went to our boss, Jeff Zucker, for his more than 30 years in journalism. And in his speech -- now, see, you only see me here for some reason. But in any event, in his speech, Jeff made the point that these are challenging times for journalists, but there has never been a more important time for truth and for facts.

So, John, like you, I go to a lot of these events, you know, and this one was just particularly warm and inspiring. And I was trying to figure out what the secret sauce was, why it was so great, and I think it's because I was the MC.

BERMAN: OK. That was like a 45-second setup to land that joke right there.

CAMEROTA: And here are some pictures of that great moment. You know, I killed it. No, I'm serious -- I'm kidding.

BERMAN: You're serious how good you were.

CAMEROTA: No, I'm serious, it was a really nice event. BERMAN: I'm sure it was. I wasn't invited, but I know it was a lovely


CAMEROTA: An oversight on my part.

BERMAN: A lovely -- a lovely event and you were great.

Let's talk about CNN Heroes.

CAMEROTA: Oh, let's do that.

BERMAN: And not Jeff Zucker, but much like Jeff, he hails from Scotland, but Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow feeds hungry school children in 18 countries around the world through his non-profit Mary's Meals.

[08:55:02] He was honored as a CNN Hero in 2010, an event where he met and befriended fellow Scotsman, actor Gerard Butler. The two recently visited Haiti where they met some of the 1.4 million children being fed every day.


MAGNUS MACFARLANE-BARROW, CNN HERO: Greatest privilege of doing this work is just meeting those children who are eating Mary's Meals.

The numbers become just mind-boggling after a while. But the real beauty of it is watching those children become the people they're meant to be.

GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR: I remember we went just before lunch, and they were tired. Then they had lunch and, oh, my God, it was like different people.

And then you realize the simple value of this program.


BERMAN: Oh, look at that. That is wonderful.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful.

BERMAN: All right, to find more out about Magnus' life-changing work and his friendship with Gerard Butler, go to And while you're there, nominate some you know to be a CNN Hero.

There is a lot going on this morning.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, we packed a lot into three hours.

BERMAN: All right, much more on the breaking news, the president trying to clean up his calls for foreign campaign assistance. What exactly did he say? We'll tell you, next.