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CNN RIGHT NOW
Trump Responds to Paul Ryan's Criticism Cited in New Book; Trump Defends Pelosi Amid Democratic Criticism: "She Not a Racist"; Labor Secretary Becomes Trump's 13th Cabinet Member to Depart; House Passes Extension of 9/11 1st Responder Bill; Tropical Storm Barry Strengthens, Moves Closer to Louisiana Coast. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 12, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:31:12] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: An old feud is now back. President Trump is again going after House Speaker Paul Ryan, the former House speaker, today over new excerpts from a book in which the former speaker basically calls Trump clueless. Listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn't a leader.
Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me, because we got taxes cut.
Frankly, he was a baby. He didn't know what the hell he was doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: He was a baby. He didn't know what he was doing.
Here is one of the parts of the book that set the president off. Ryan telling author, Tim Alberta, "I told myself I've got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right because, I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time. Those of us around him really helped stop him from making bad decisions all the time."
Joining me now from Utah is former U.S. Representative Mia Love, and here in studio with me is A.B. Stoddard from "Real Clear Politics."
Thank you both for joining me.
A.B., first to you.
These are incredible quotes. This is obviously a hugely anticipated book from a well-respected author.
Of course, critics of Paul Ryan have pounced, saying that he essentially knowingly enabled the president, who he is now admitting was essentially clueless. He says he wanted to scold Trump, so what was stopping him?
A.B. STODDARD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what stopped everybody who's still in Congress speaking about the president in derogatory and critical ways privately but continue to flatter him in public and be supportive of him because the voters are solidly with President Trump, that they represent in their states or their districts. And they intend to hold their seats.
And they believe they can enact a conservative agenda, which, thus far, is only tax reform, as long as they stay in the good graces of President Trump.
And so the rationalization that the former speaker is describing is that he was trying to stop him from doing other things and to enact, you know, priorities. The only way to do that was to go along and get along.
I heard Congresswoman Will Hurd on this broadcast today stick up for Paul Ryan. He is not a baby, he is not a loser, he is one of the great minds of the Republican Party.
But he certainly did not use his perch to stand up for the things that he's now saying are so important.
MARQUARDT: Does this have any impact now? Besides raising the ire of the president, does it have any impact on the electorate, on the Republican Party?
STODDARD: I don't think so. The party is solely the party of Donald Trump. Paul Ryan and others have let it go. It has become a party that has abandoned its former principles, you know, reductions in spending, small taxation, free trade, less government, all of it.
And so the thing is, you're going to hear very few defenses of Paul Ryan today because, those who are still in office, are trying to stay on the good side of President Trump. I think it comes and goes.
And I don't think it's the most explosive part of Tim Alberta's reporting once we get on the other side of this book.
MARQUARDT: He certainly got us interested in it.
Mia, to you. We've seen this kind of thing before and it's become something of a pattern where Republicans don't really get a backbone to criticize the president until after they have decided that they're leaving or have actually, like in Paul Ryan's case, have left office and aren't really in a position of power to do anything about it. Why is that?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I'd say that there are a lot of people that have been willing to go out there during their time in office and call the president out. Unfortunately, those people happen to be the same people that the Democrats would target. I can name a whole list of people that were out there that did everything they could to make sure that they stayed true to the Republican Party. [13:35:08] But I have to say this about Paul Ryan. Look, there are a
lot of people -- I don't see anything that he said that was actually -- that warranted that type of backlash from the president.
To say that the president didn't know what he was doing, there are people that like that about the president. They like the fact that he's not a politician. So that doesn't make any sense to me.
Also, I'm sure that Paul Ryan, who was my mentor in the House of Representatives, wanted to scold me because I actually put my name on a discharge petition. So being -- you know, having somebody upset with you once in a while, that's OK.
So I don't -- this is one of the things that I don't like. I don't understand why there was such a big backlash from the president when Paul Ryan was just pretty much stating the truth.
I have never known Paul Ryan to lie about anything. And so maybe he was just being honest with his feelings. And he ended up getting this backlash.
MARQUARDT: I want to switch gears a little bit and talk to both of you about the current speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the infighting going on between her and freshmen Democrats, specifically Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
And in a pretty remarkable moment this morning, the president actually defended Pelosi when he was heading to the helicopter. Let's take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Cortez is being very disrespectful to somebody that's been there a long time. I deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot. And we go back and forth, that is fine. But I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her.
But Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect. She should not be doing what she's doing.
TRUMP: And I'll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do. She is not a racist, OK. She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So there, Mia, you have the president sticking up for Nancy Pelosi saying she's not a racist. What do you make of this internal squabbling? And does the president have a point there?
LOVE: Oh, I thought that that was really interesting also. I didn't think it came off poorly for him to stick up with Nancy Pelosi.
I would say that both Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan have been there for -- Paul had been there for a while and Nancy Pelosi is there and she's been there a long time.
I think what's missing here is mutual respect. You may not agree with someone, but Nancy Pelosi actually knows what she's doing.
Some of these new people that are coming in that are out there trying to do whatever they can, they're moving everyone to the left, should be careful, because it ends up hurting their own party in the long run.
MARQUARDT: A.B., do you agree? Is there mutual respect?
STODDARD: I can't believe I'm agreeing with President Trump here. It is disrespectful what these four women are saying about Nancy Pelosi and to imply that she's a racist, if that's what you're saying.
This doesn't help Nancy Pelosi so I think the president is enjoying it. Because nothing would make Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez happier than to say that the speaker is getting defended by President Trump.
But this is -- she's the new sort of boogieman of the right, Cortez is. So I'm not surprised he wasn't going to pick on Nancy Pelosi. But he did recently call her horrible and vindictive.
STODDARD: So even though I do think he has a strange respect for her.
Nancy Pelosi tends to sort of destabilize the president, so it's an interesting, ongoing tension.
MARQUARDT: Until recently, he's been kind of reluctant to attack her.
MARQUARDT: Mia, I want to switch gears again quickly. What do you make of all this turnover in the Trump administration, all these vacancies in the Trump cabinet? We're seeing today the secretary of labor, Alex Acosta, stepping down. What do you make of that?
LOVE: Well, I just think it just repeats the narrative or keeps the narrative of instability there. I mean, if you look at normal Americans, they like to have people that are there, that have been there, that have been working on certain policies for a while, that have been helping them through certain things. I think it just sends a big message of instability.
This is not the first time. I mean you've got so many -- the mass exodus is just -- it's a little worrisome.
And I think it's too late. I don't think there's a point we can say, OK, now we have to make sure we can hold on to everyone.
Every single member of Congress was judged on their attrition. You were judged what kind of member of Congress you were by how many people you were able to keep in your office. If that's the same record they're going by, the administration isn't doing well. MARQUARDT: The Department of labor is arguably one of the most stable
and scandal-free departments in this administration and there goes Alex Acosta.
A.B. Stoddard and former Congresswoman Mia Love, thanks very much.
[13:39:52] Now breaking news in the House. Just voting to extend the 9/11 first responders bill after months of delays. I'll be speaking with first responder, John Feal, and Jon Stewart. That's next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
MARQUARDT: Moments ago, the House of Representatives voted yes to legislation extending funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. So for another 71 years.
It comes weeks after the bill received nationwide attention following impassioned pleas for support from surviving first responders as well as comedian and activist, Jon Stewart, who joins me now along with first responder, John Feal.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.
[13:45:09] John Feal, to you, thank you for your service.
Guys, this was a very long time coming.
John Feal, first to you.
How are you feeling in this moment after this news?
JOHN FEAL, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: Personally, I knew this was going to happen, so I'm not going to celebrate. I'm not going to jump up and down. We've got more work to do.
But for the Alvarez family and the guys behind me and my guys that are roaming the halls, I hope they savor this moment because it's historic. And like I said earlier, nobody owns 9/11 but today we own 7/12. I'm so proud of my team. We've got a lot more work to do.
I want to thank this didn't I to the -- guy to the right of me for everything he's done.
MARQUARDT: We did see you hugging just a moment ago.
John Feal, we also just saw Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, just whispering something to you. What did she say?
FEAL: She told me I was tenacious, I was a pit bull, I was a pain in the ass. She said that I was right and that we work for you. And that she looks forward to working with us in the future when Jon and I do the burn pit bill. MARQUARDT: Jon Stewart, to you.
This is also expected to pass the Senate. You've been working on this for so long. First of all, how are you feeling? And is this enough?
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & ACTIVIST: I mean, look, it's -- you know, it's hard to be celebratory when people do their jobs.
You know, for Phil and for Ida, they're down here in Lu' s memory. And what he really wanted was to see this happen before he passed. We weren't able to make that happen. But in his memory we're going to make it happen in the Senate.
But for Ray Pfeifer and for all the first responders and the victims and survivors that those names represent -- we now know name now of Jimmy Zadroga and Lu Alvarez and Ray Pfeifer -- but they represent a community of people that are in terrible pain and are sick and dying.
Phil brought up this point that 16 died this month. Sixteen. What's happening to that community is urgent, it's dire, and it's heartbreaking.
And so, look, these guys have put in the work for 15 years. John Feal has given 15 years of his life and half his foot and a kidney to this cause. We just want them to be able to exhale.
Passing this in the Senate in two weeks -- and we're going to hold Senator McConnell to his word -- will be a chance to exhale.
But it doesn't fix the grief and the suffering that they will continue to experience going forward. It just removes that extra burden that needn't have been there in the first place.
MARQUARDT: This bill extends funding through 2090.
Jon Stewart, just quickly, if you wouldn't mind, explain what these funds will do. What they'll provide.
STEWART: Well, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act provide for the illnesses and injuries that 9/11 first responders and victims suffered not just on that day but in the months past that, when they were down on the pile and they were working in an area that was incredibly toxic, but they were told was safe.
And this allows their families to not have to go bankrupt. It allows these responders and other survivors not to have to decide whether to take that chemo shot or to pay their rent. This allows them to pursue the treatments that they need to pursue. It allows their families to be able to stay in their houses and continue to live their lives.
MARQUARDT: Let me --
STEWART: And that's it.
FEAL: Let me correct my colleague over here. The VCF --
FEAL: -- which is James, Joe, Ray Pfeifer, Luis Alvarez's victim compensation fund now, will make people whole again. So for those who lost their jobs or those --
FEAL: -- who got illnesses or injuries from working at Ground Zero or Shanksville or the Pentagon, they will be made whole again. And those who received cuts already will get a second check. So we --
STEWART: And it won't expire.
FEAL: The process has started of relieving the burden in the 9/11 community.
And for the tens of thousands that have been following us, you have watched grassroot activism at its best. You have watched the American people take the fight to Congress. We didn't wait for Congress to come to us. We went to Congress. These men and women behind me, the champions.
Listen, Congress and the Senate, they're doing their job. I'm never going to congratulate them.
But those who stand beside me and behind me and in front of me, they deserve all the credit. Over 300 meetings in the last nine months. We drove over 7,000 miles. We walked over 300 miles in the halls of Congress. We have over 172 manhours in meetings.
[13:50:08] These people right here, not only were they heroes on 9/11 and the days and weeks after, they're heroes again. They deserve all the credit. Me and John just drove the bus.
STEWART: Congress --
STEWART: They were down there and they said, we're sorry you didn't get full attendance at your hearing. We're sorry that when Lu Alvarez spoke, only six members were sitting there, but they're very busy.
Well, Lu Alvarez chose to spend his last few weeks on earth fighting, not for himself, but for the other families and victims. His time -- Lu's time was the most valuable time.
That's why it's great to have Phil and Ida down here to be able to represent him.
STEWART: But the perspective and the priorities are upside down here. And hopefully, this is a chance to get them right side up again.
MARQUARDT: John Feal, is there anything else you want people to know about your friend, Lu Alvarez. He --
STEWART: He can't hear you.
Well, Jon Stewart, maybe you can convey this.
What do you guys want people to remember about Lu Alvarez?
FEAL: What I want everyone to remember about Lu Alvarez, and Ray Pfeifer and John McNamara (ph) and Barry Delfano (ph), and the hundreds in the thousands that we lost, I want them to know that they were the best of the best this country offered 18 years ago. They were selfless patriots.
And I hope -- I pray that I become half the man that they were. Because to be able to give of yourself in your final days and final hours and final minutes, that says a lot about these men and women in uniform and non-uniform. They gave of themselves to the very end. Just like on 9/11, and the days and weeks that followed, they gave of themselves.
And we continue to give of ourselves now. We have just advocated for tens of thousands of people that are going to receive help. That's historic, ot many people around this country can say, they went to Washington, D.C., and made the process work. We made, we forced, we shamed the process to work.
So Lu Alvarez' passing is not in vain. And I know Lu's smiling right now.
When he gave me his shield to give to Mitch McConnell and I shook Mitch McConnell's hand -- I'm going to keep mitch McConnell's word. He said he was going to get this done before the summer recess. I can tell you now, that when we leave here today and we get off air, that we're going to make sure that Mitch McConnell sticks to his word. And over the next week or two, we're going to keep the pressure on the Senate.
But let's talk about the 72 co-sponsors we got in the Senate. Because we're now done with the House. That means Senator Gillibrand would technically make 23 co-sponsors. That means there are 27 members of the Senate that aren't on board. I'm giving you the next week to get on board or we're going to make your life miserable.
MARQUARDT: John Feal, Jon Stewart, I know you say you're not celebrating. But hope you'll take our congratulations on this victory.
Thank you so much for joining us.
John Feal, thank you to you and the heroes of 9/11, your colleagues, for your service.
FEAL: Thank you for having us.
MARQUARDT: And we'll be right back.
[13:55:14] MARQUARDT: Now to the unprecedented threat to millions along the Louisiana coast. Tropical Storm Barry is intensifying and in on track to reach hurricane strength once it makes landfall. That's expected to be tomorrow morning. Relentless rain and severe storm surge could result in life-threatening flooding to areas like New Orleans. And all eyes are on the levees that protect the city, because the Mississippi River is already twice as high as normal.
CNN is tracking the storm from all angles. CNN's Ryan Young is near New Orleans where the worst may be yet to come.
Ryan, what can we expect?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people are worried about the water next to me. This is the Mississippi. Already, there's 10 feet more water in this area than should be expected this time of year.
We've seen flooding all across America from the Mississippi. But now when you think about all this rain that could be headed this direction, we're talking about 10 to 15 inches. They are worried about what the storm surge could be.
When you talk to residents, depending on what side of town they're on, you have different opinions. We went to the lower 9th Ward today. We talked to residents there. They said they believe the levees will hold.
When you go to other sections of the city, they bring up Wednesday and the idea they had that torrential downpour for several hours that left cars flooded in the street.
Today, there was a conference that was supposed to come to town. And 16,000 women from one sorority were here for a national conference. They've been told to leave. In fact, at the airport, there are lines stretching around the building.
You look back at this direction, think about all the water that's here, and all the water that could be headed this way, businesses downtown have already started deploying sandbags in front of their doors to make sure they're prepared.
When you think about this in terms of the impact of what the rain could be, they are happy to hear the winds may not be impacting this area as much as they were first told about before.
Looking at the sky so far, no heavy rain today. This is one of those things where people are just waiting to see.
But especially for those who have lived here a long time, they believe they'll be able to get through this because they think it will be another tropical storm that will move through quickly. Emergency officials are not so sure just yet.
MARQUARDT: It's only July.
Ryan Young, thank you. You and your team stay safe --
MARQUARDT: -- in the coming hours and days.
MARQUARDT: More on our breaking news. As the labor secretary resigns, the president also considering replacing his director of National Intelligence. Stand by for that.