Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Defends Migrant Detention Centers; Trump Says U.S. Will No Longer Deal With U.K. Ambassador. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 8, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:42]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our world lead now.

President Trump saying moments ago that the United States government will no longer deal with the British ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, after Darroch described President Trump as -- quote -- "inept and insecure" in private diplomatic memos that had been leaked to "The Daily Mail."

Mr. Trump tweeting -- quote -- "I do not know the ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him. The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new prime minister."

Ambassador Darroch, who is actually well-liked and well thought of, painted a picture of dysfunction inside the Trump administration and the White House and warned that the Trump presidency could end in disgrace.

Toluse, let me start with you.

The president just got back from the U.K. and had a lovely trip there. But I have to say, did you see anything in these cables that surprised you? I mean, it looked -- some of them could have been lifted right out of the front page of "The New York Times."

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the ambassador basically was reflecting what's happening internally in the White House, which is, there is a lot of dysfunction. There's a lot of disarray there.

You do hear different messages from different people within the administration. And, as an ambassador, he was doing his job and reporting back to his home country, saying, if you're going to deal with this government, this is how you should do it. This is what you should be aware of.

And there was nothing really all that surprising in there. He talked about how the president is thin-skinned. And, I mean, obviously, with the president saying that we will no longer deal with the ambassador, it's sort of a reflection of that.

This ambassador is probably on his way out the door because there's going to be a new prime minister in the U.K., but the president sort of used the opportunity to attack the current prime minister in the U.K., Theresa May, saying that she did a bad job with Brexit.

So that's probably what this ambassador was trying to deal with and trying to make sure that he was keeping under wraps and sort of figuring out how to deal with the president and deal with this administration without causing the type of blowup that we have seen from these leaks.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and I thought one of the interesting things he said, that the president did have this, he was dazzled by his trip to the U.K., but he warned that that doesn't mean he's not going to flip and turn against them on some major issue in the future, which is -- kind of reflects what a lot our closest -- the U.S.' closest allies have been dealing with, is that they can't trust that this president is going to back them on major issues, whereas, in -- and instead align himself with countries that aren't as friendly.

TAPPER: And, Mary Katharine, according to "The Daily Mail," Darroch wrote in one memo -- quote -- "We don't really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction-riven, less diplomatically clumsy and inept."

Surprising to you?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think most of it is very surprising. And Theresa May has got to be like, sure, this is what I needed. Right?

And, look, the irony is, of course, that he was trying to prevent this sort of international blowup. The other fact is that, because it's the Trump administration, we will likely move on, they will have a new prime minister, they will have a new ambassador, and we will all forget about this within like seven days?

TAPPER: Right. No, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: That's pretty generous.

HAM: Well, I'm trying.

TAPPER: Darroch also had a nice turn of phrase. In talking about Trump's ability to weather controversy, as you're talking about, and just move on to the next...

HAM: That's one way of putting him.

TAPPER: ... he compared him to Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of "The Terminator," battered, but intact at the end of the film, not a bad comparison.

POWERS: Yes. I think we should hire him as a political analyst. I mean, he seems

very astute. He was basically describing reality. So it's not surprising.

That said, that even if he wasn't leaving, I don't think it would actually be unreasonable for the Trump administration to be upset. I mean, no one's going to see that, whether it's true, and like it. They want to feel like there's somebody there that they can deal with who's maybe not sitting in judgment of them and writing these kinds of memos.

TAPPER: What would be the right reaction, just for the president just to ignore it?

HAM: I mean, probably yes, because the problem will sort of fix itself in a bit. And we're all acknowledging that this is stuff that many people say -- many people are saying about President Trump.

TAPPER: Well, Republicans too. You hear this all the time from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: You could just leave it alone, but he will not leave it alone.

I do think the leaking of cables in general can be problematic for these relationships.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Yes. It certainly was after WikiLeaks.

HAM: Either this prime minister the next.

TAPPER: Yes.

The U.S. women's soccer team about to arrive back in America after winning the World Cup, but will they ultimately get invited to the White House?

[16:35:00]

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our politics late today, the Trump administration is continuing to downplay the appalling conditions inside some migrant detention centers after a "New York Times" report gave some of the most horrifying details to date, reports of scabies and shingles outbreaks, children left hungry with nowhere to sleep, nowhere to clean themselves, according to current and former Border Patrol agents and visitors.

Acting DHS Chief Kevin McAleenan calls the claims unsubstantiated. And as CNN's Abby Phillip now reports, the president is going so far

as to say the people in these centers are actually very happy and better off than before.

[16:40:01]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump doubling down on two of the most controversial issues of his presidency, conditions at migrant detention centers.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have seen some of those places, and they are run beautifully. They are clean. They are good.

PHILLIP: And his push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

TRUMP: They're asking everything, except, are you a citizen of the United States? How ridiculous is that?

PHILLIP: Trump Sunday claiming that conditions at the U.S. border detention facilities are actually better than the places migrants came from.

TRUMP: Those are people that are very happy with what's going on, because, relatively speaking, they're in much better shape right now.

PHILLIP: Trump's comments in sharp contrast with the facts on the ground.

"The New York Times" describing squalid conditions at one facility in Clint, Texas, saying Border Patrol agents described outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chicken pox, as children sit in cramped cells with clothing so dirty, the smell spread to the agents' own clothing.

Trump instead that report is fake and saying he wants reporters to see the facilities themselves.

TRUMP: But it is crowded. But we want to have the press go in and see.

PHILLIP: Reporters have already seen children sleeping under solar blankets and migrants crowded into holding pens. The border situation just one key immigration-related issue for the Trump base, the other, the ongoing census fight.

After a defeat in the Supreme Court, Trump is still pushing his administration to force U.S. citizenship question to the 2020 census.

TRUMP: We are moving forward. We have a couple of avenues. And our attorney general is doing a fantastic job in many ways. And I think he's got it under control.

PHILLIP: But one senior Trump official says everything is up in the air as the administration scrambles to determine if an executive order would even pass muster with the courts.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think, over the next day or two, you will see what approach we're taking. And I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: And in addition to commenting on the census, Bill Barr also commented on former special counsel Robert Mueller's impending testimony before the Senate, the House -- the House Democrats.

Barr called that disappointing. He said that Democrats are trying to create some kind of public spectacle. That testimony is scheduled to happen next week -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Abby Phillip at the White House for us, thanks so much.

In the past, President Trump has called climate change a -- quote -- "Chinese hoax," which, of course, it is not. Now he just spoke about his environmental record. And we're going to fact-check his claims.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

1645 (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our Earth Matters Series, we're zeroing in on President Trump's claims just made moments ago on what he calls his environmental leadership touting his administration for improving the quality of air and water in the U.S. That would be despite pulling out the -- pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and rolling back power plant regulations and weakening fuel standards in the U.S. auto industry.

Let's bring in Daniel Dale to fact check the President, and of course Bill Weir, CNN's Climate Correspondent. Daniel, first to you. I want to listen to the sound and tell me what you think of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember, management, it's called forest management. So it is a very important term. When I went to California, they sort of scoffed at me for the first two weeks and maybe three weeks and not so much four weeks and after about five weeks they said, you know, he's right. He's right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Daniel, what is he talking about?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: So he's talking about the time when he was claiming that climate change was not the driver of California's wildfires, rather it was forest management, it was that they were not doing good enough job raking leaves and cleaning up the floor of the forest and that is the big issue.

And so this claim he made today is revisionist history. California was not scoffing at the idea that forest management was part of the problem. Pretty much everyone agrees that it is but they were also saying that climate change is also a significant part of the problem. They were saying that the two fires that were happening when Trump was making this claim, the Camp and Woolsey Fire did not even start in forests.

They were also pointing out that the federal government, not California, managed more than half of the California forest so they are rejecting the blame he's placing on them. So this kind of -- this story that he's telling today, they laughed at me and then they said I'm right is not what happened, Jake.

TAPPER: Interesting. Bill, the president used to say, wrongly, that the U.S. had the cleanest air and water in the world. He's now changed his language on that in recent weeks.

BILL WEIR, CNN CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Maybe the facts caught up with him, Jake. They have sort of modified that claim. The numbers we can put up here is -- show that we don't come anywhere close to the top of the world when it comes to these things. Tenth in air quality, water sanitation 29th, drinking water was careful to say unlike Vice President Pence who tried -- I guess claimed to you that all water was clean, number one there.

But lost in all of this is he's touting the claims that are only made possible by Richard Nixon and every president since. The Clean Water and Air Act, the EPA that really did a great job of making the air in Los Angeles not you know, tasteable anymore. You could see now the mountains or you know, the Cuyahoga River isn't on fire anymore.

But saying that we're now going to gut that entire agency is like saying there has been a 74 percent reduction in house fires over the last you know, generation, but we're going to fire the firemen and put taxes on hoses and take away regulations on smoke alarms and we think it will somehow get better.

TAPPER: Daniel, the president put a price tag on the Green New Deal that's popular among many progressives. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Their plan is estimated to cost our economy nearly $100 trillion, a number unthinkable, a number not affordable even in the best of times. If you go 150 years from now and we've had great success, that is not a number that is even thought to be affordable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:50:21] TAPPER: $100 trillion, Daniel? DALE: So, Jake, we know the President makes up a lot of numbers. This is not a number he made up out of thin air. This is a number that comes from a Conservative group, the American Action Forum, which put a price tag on the Green New Deal of $93 trillion.

I think it is important to note the source of the figure and it is also important to note how they got it. What they did was make a number of assumptions and estimates that we have no idea it will come true.

For example, they assume there would be a $36 trillion cost from the U.S. implementing a single-payer health care plan like Bernie Sanders wants as part of the Green New Deal. We have no idea if Bernie Sanders will be President. We have no idea if this is how Green New Deal proponents will try to achieve the goal of universal health care so there are a lot of assumptions here.

TAPPER: At least it's based on a number that exists somewhere, the baby steps.

DALE: They're something.

TAPPER: Bill, you are out there talking every day to people about climate change, the effects of it. Do Americans have confidence in how President Trump is handling environmental issues and climate change?

WEIR: Not really. I mean, that's -- that topic, he gets his highest disapproval numbers. It's two to one disapprove to approve on that. But it's like politics. Climate change is local. And as you go on a road trip across America, it is like a road trip through the five stages of grief. There's a lot of denial spots.

You get to a place like Miami where there is bargaining. But what struck me today is he brought up an owner of a bakeshop in Florida who saw firsthand the devastation of red tide which is caused by pollutants flowing down Lake Okeechobee and into the gulf there and it's charged -- supercharged these bacteria and it's cause -- you know, exacerbated by climate change which makes me think he's got Republicans at Mar-a-Lago and they're seeing internal numbers, polling numbers that Republicans in Florida really care about the climate because it is nonpartisan.

And the same in Alaska where it was hotter in Anchorage than Key West on the July -- Fourth of July, at some point you cannot deny it despite your party loyalty.

TAPPER: All right, Bill Weir and Daniel Dale, thank you so much for the fact-checking. I appreciate it. A live look now at the U.S. Women's Soccer Team touching down on U.S. soil and bringing home a world cup trophy. But the team's fight is not quite over. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: We have some breaking news in the "SPORTS LEAD." The superlative world cup soccer champions are back in U.S. soil. The plane carrying the U.S. Women's Team just touched down at Newark Liberty International Airport moments ago. The celebrations are just getting started.

There is the big parade set for Wednesday. An invitation for the team to visit Congress and Washington. But, as CNN's Dianne Gallagher now reports, President Trump has yet to formally invite the team to the White House or was that invitation by tweet supposed to be enough?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The back to back World Cup champions returning home as heroes. But as they celebrate a record of fourth cup win, the U.S. Women's national team is focused on a bigger opponent, getting paid the same as male athletes. Echoing include the sold-out stadium on Sunday, chants of USA switched to "equal pay."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay!

MEGAN RAPINOE, ATHLETE: We definitely heard that as we were kind of lining up. I think we have a case no matter what. Obviously, we brought the lawsuit but this just you know, sort of blows it out of the water. Is like, is it even about that anymore or is it just kind of about doing the right thing?

GALLAGHER: Mediation expected to start soon in a lawsuit filed in March by members of the 2015 world cup winning team claiming gender discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Complaints go far beyond pay equity, ranging from quality of training, travel, and promotion provided versus what the U.S. National Men's Team receives.

President Trump who has publicly sparred with co-captain Megan Rapinoe after she said in June if they won she would not be going "to the bleeping White House" did congratulate the team on Twitter but isn't ready to support the fight for fair pay.

TRUMP: You also have to look at numbers because when you look at World Cup soccer, that's one thing, and you also have to look at soccer -- professional soccer. You have to see who's taking in what. So I don't know what those numbers are.

GALLAGHER: In terms of revenue, between 2016 and 2018, the U.S. Women's Team generated more than the men according to the Wall Street Journal and that's all before this financially record-setting world cup win. And despite having previously said the team would be invited to the White House whether they won or not, the President now said he's mulling it over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you invite the Women's Team to the White House, the soccer team?

TRUMP: We haven't thought about it. We'll look at that, certainly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER: And so really, Jake, the question is also if he does invite the women to the White House, will they go? And we can't really answer that at this point. There is no shortage of invitations though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she's already extended a bipartisan invitation for them to visit the U.S. Capitol.

And, again, they have come from just about everybody at this point. They're being heralded as they should be. They are the four-time World Cup Champions, Jake. Something that has not been done. Again we're waiting for them to kind of come off the plane here, back on U.S. soil. They will be celebrated, Jake, on Wednesday with that ticker-tape parade in New York.

TAPPER: It was quite a game. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much. You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram.