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Trump Speaks at the White House; Trump Defends Attacks on U.S. Congresswomen. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omar. How great al Qaeda is. When you hear that, and we're losing great soldiers to al Qaeda. When you see the World Trade Center gets knocked down and you see the statements made about the World Trade Center, all the death and destruction. I'll tell you what, I'm not happy with them.

And it's very easy for me to say, "Oh, gee, well, it's OK." If the -- if weak politicians want to say -- and the Democrats, in this case -- if they want to gear their wagons around these four people, I think they're going to have a very tough election, because I don't think the people of the United States will stand for it.



TRUMP: John (ph), go ahead. Go ahead, John (ph).

QUESTION: Mr. President, let me see if I can (inaudible) sort of what people are talking about.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Does it concern you that that tweet was seen as racist? Lindsey Graham said -- encouraged you to aim higher. And does it trouble you...


TRUMP: No, no. He didn't say about -- he just said, "Don't go" -- see, I disagree with Lindsey. These are congressmen. What am I supposed to do, just wait for senators? No. These are four -- so I disagree with Lindsey on that. That was the only thing.

He said, "Aim higher. Shoot higher." What am I going to do? Wait until we get somebody else at a higher position, a higher office?

These are people that hate our country. Hey, John (ph), they hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion.

Now, it's possible I'm wrong. The voter will decide.

But when I hear the way they talk about our country, when I hear the anti-Semitic language they use, when I hear the hatred they have for Israel and the love they have for enemies like Al Qaida, then you know what? I will tell you that I do not believe this is good for the Democrat Party. Certainly it's not the party that I've known over the years.


QUESTION: Does it concern you -- does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist, and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

TRUMP: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me. And all I'm saying, they want to leave, they can leave.

Now, it doesn't say "Leave forever." It says, "Leave if you are" -- but what it says, what -- and what that -- John (ph). What that says is, if they're not happy with the United States, if they're doing nothing but criticizing us all the time -- you see these people walking down, criticizing the United States.

We just hit the highest stock market in history. All of these incredible manufacturers that are in -- these are great businesspeople, they employ many people. And we have workers with us, too. They're having the best year they've ever had. Can I say that? Is that a correct statement?


So -- and they're hiring more people than they've ever had, and more people are making a good living than they've ever had. We just hit 27,000-plus on the Dow. It's the highest the stock market has ever been.

And you have to go by the election, because the market started going up the day after I won. You know, they like to add all of that tremendous gain, they like to try and give it to Obama. The fact is, if I would have lost, the stock market would crash.

TRUMP: And if these people that I watch in those debates ever got their hands on the United States government, 401(k)s, the values of your company, everything else that we talk about, we're so proud of, it's down the tubes. People will lose their money. They'll lose their wealth. You'll have a crash like you've never seen before.

And I'm really good at this stuff, I know what I'm talking about.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.



QUESTION: Where's this (inaudible), Mr. President?

TRUMP: The ICE raids -- the ICE raids...

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: The ICE raids were very successful.

People came into our country illegally -- illegally. Many were felons. Many were convicted of crimes. Many, many were taken out on Sunday, you just didn't know about it.

In fact, I went to -- I spoke to the head of ICE. I spoke to a couple of people. We had many people. It was a very successful day, but you didn't see a lot of it because it was done a lot. You'll speak to them. And I don't -- not even sure they should be telling you, but it was a lot.

And it wouldn't have to be Sunday. We've been doing this.

Look, we have been removing MS-13. They're monsters. We've been removing MS-13 by the thousands during my administration. And I tell my people it'd be much easier to go the other route. But I say, "Focus on the criminals. Focus on the people that are killing people, that are causing crime. Focus on them." Much easier just to go to general population. That's easy, but I don't do it the easy way.

We're getting tremendous numbers of criminals. And yesterday, it was just reported to me before I woke (ph), because I said, "How did that go yesterday?" It didn't have to start yesterday. The truth is it started a number of days before yesterday, but yesterday was very successful.

People come into our country illegally, and they go out legally. Every person taken out had papers, and we had court orders.

OK, thank you.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you've been listening to President Trump there insisting that he's not concerned by people who say that his recent tweets, his recent racist tweets are racist. He said many people agree with me. He says the four Congresswomen of color that he's been targeting should leave the U.S. if they don't like it here.

Sunday he called for what was clearly these four freshmen congresswomen to return to their home countries. President Trump was referring to New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar and Michigan's Rashida Tlaib when he tweeted this. He said, so interesting to see progressive Democrat congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States how our government is to be run. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.

Now, three of these four women were born in America. And Ilhan Omar has been an American citizen since she was a teenager. This morning, after Democrats, including Speaker Pelosi, who recently has been at odds with the four came to their defense and called the president racist.

Then today the president responded, quote, if Democrats want to unite around the foul language and racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of thesis very unpopular and unrepresentative congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

And just moments ago, similarly, he defended himself.


QUESTION: What are you talking about in your tweet about going back to their home country?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't mention -- I didn't mention names. And I didn't do that. But I will tell you, with our country, and I think everybody in this audience, these are great manufacturers, great workers in our audience too. They brought a lot of their workers here. If you're not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave. And that's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it, by the way. A lot of people love it. But if you're not happy in the U.S., if you're complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want, don't come back, that's OK too. But if you're not happy, you can leave.


KEILAR: Let's go to Boris Sanchez now. He is at the White House.

Tell us more, Boris, about this defense.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, the third annual Made in America Day took a dark turn on the South Lawn of the White House just a few moments ago. President Trump with this outburst defending these racist tweets that he sent out yesterday attacking these four progressive congresswomen. He didn't mention their names yesterday. Today he specifically went after one of them. That's Representative Ilhan Omar. Now, the president saying that she is anti-Semitic, that she hates Jews, that she hates Israel and then she puffs her chest out when she talks about al Qaeda.

And the president was also asked about whether he was concerned that some of the language that he uses in these tweets may appeal to white supremacists, if it may be indicative of some kind of support for their beliefs. The president saying that he's not concerned about any links to white supremacy, essentially denying the fact that he has made many remarks in the past that are racist and blatantly xenophobic.

The president then went on to talk about the planned ICE raids just a couple of weeks ago. He says that -- said that millions of people would be deported. Today he said that he had spoken with some of the heads in his administration handling these raids and that they would not give an official number to the public of how many people were deported.

But, ultimately, the president going back to this theme of race in his discussions over these four progressive women, saying that they should leave the United States if they don't like it. Notably the president doesn't say the same thing about other congress people who have been critical of him and his administration and who often are critical of American policy, people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, people who he has not told to go back to their countries, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you so much.

I want to bring in professor and author Michael Eric Dyson. We have Gloria Borger with us, our CNN chief political analyst, and "Politico" congressional reporter Rachael Bade.

Michael, first to you.

What -- what do you think of what you have been witnessing really since yesterday with the tweets and now the president not really defending himself so much as standing by what he said. He said people agree with him.

[13:10:07] MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE": Right. Well, he's a demented, political genius, let's give it to him. He at once plays to his base and to the base's instincts in American society. The xenophobia, the racism, the misogyny of collecting these women together to knock them down, like a kind of political pinata, beating at them. It's ridiculous.

And what's even more ridiculous is that we don't hear an outcry from other Republicans who know better, who have more humane sensibilities. Who understand that, look, you know, it is a contact sport to be involved in politics, and the president plays them with ultimate panache and hurtful vigor. But at the end of the day, we are all Americans. To demonize them the way he did Barack Obama, the way he called into question Kamala Harris, now he's calling into question the identity, the citizenship of these people. We can disagree without trying to otherize (ph) our fellow American citizens and try to portray them as enemies of the state. This is vicious, it's deleterious and it calls for the conscience of the Republican Party to come forward and to say enough is enough.

KEILAR: They're not coming forward.

DYSON: No, no, they are cowards as well.

KEILAR: There is clearly a fear about saying -- there's clearly a belief on the part of the Republican Party that people, some people, some Americans --

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: Whose votes Republicans rely on -- DYSON: Yes.

KEILAR: Do agree with the president, as he stated. He's being partisan here. He's -- you said misogyny. He's being sexist. He's being racist here. It is wrong what he is saying.


KEILAR: It is divisive. And yet there seems to be this inability to say something. So what do you -- what do you make of that?

DYSON: Well, what I make of that is, all along we hear the cry, oh, no, everybody who supports Donald Trump is not racist. Show it. Prove it. And if people are afraid to speak out because they fear that that base is the kind of, you know, substrata that supports that party, then you've got to at least come out of the closet, so to speak, and admit these are racist sensibilities. And anybody who protects them, anybody who defends them, anybody who suggests that they are not worthy of immediate reproach and immediate rebuff is in league with and complicit with these kind of racist, sexist, and anti-American beliefs. This is anti-patriotic to me.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's also part of a political strategy. It's clearly orchestrated here that -- let's look at what has occurred in recent days. You've had the threats of mass roundups of illegal immigrants and you heard the president just talk about that just now. The president hosted right-wing social media, you know, and he thought that was a great success. You've had the challenge on the citizenship question on the census. So, you know, this is -- this doesn't come out of thin air here. This is a president, and you said you've got to hand it to him in his -- in his own way, who knows exactly what he is doing. And by challenging these four women, he is saying they represent the Democratic Party.

And he -- you know, there's a fight in the Democratic Party going on and you could argue that he inserted himself and sort of stopped that cold, which might be good for the Democrats. But he is also trying to say, you know, they're the leaders of the Democratic Party, when, of course, they are not. And so he knows what he's -- he knows what he's doing here.

DYSON: And it's both hand (ph), I think. See, what you just said is all true.


DYSON: But it doesn't absolve us of the necessity to call it for what it is.

BORGER: I agree.

DYSON: It is a political strategy --

BORGER: I totally agree.

DYSON: That is racist, that is sexist, that is misogynistic, that is xenophobic.

BORGER: They're not mutually exclusive.

DYSON: They not mutually exclusive and they're reinforcing and you've got to name every element of that offense.

BORGER: Right.

KEILAR: But it's -- it is also unusual, not for President Trump, but in politics, this is pretty unusual. This is the kind of thing that normally, for anyone else would just be incredibly surprising. This is not -- this is a strategy --

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: This is racist. This is not something that is within the norm, no matter how much -- and you cite a bunch of data points.

DYSON: Right. Right.

KEILAR: But this is still very clearly not within the norm. And when I think of Republicans, Rachael, you're a reporter for "The Washington Post," is I think of Republicans, some of them are, I'm sure, not identifying with what he's saying and yet they don't want to say anything.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there's definitely this sort of deer in the headlights feeling. I mean the past 24 hours -- or I guess it's less than that now -- Republicans have been really slow in pushback. We are starting to see some come out. Just before the show started, Senator Susan Collins actually asked Trump to take down his tweet, saying that it's unacceptable. We saw Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas, from a very moderate district, say this is point blank racist and xenophobic. It is not behavior that is becoming of a president. He called it hurtful and politically divisive. I mean there are some Republicans who are starting to speak out, but you're not hearing the Republican leadership --

[13:15:08] KEILAR: And -- but what is this --

DYSON: But unacceptable at such a use of --

BORGER: Where's McConnell?

KEILAR: And -- and -- and what does that say to you, Rachael, when I -- when you hear those names.

BADE: Right.

KEILAR: Will Hurd is in a district where, you know, he's the only Republican with -- and it's a huge swath of the border, but that's also a purple district.

BADE: It is.

KEILAR: Susan Collins is sort of this old school New England Republican that doesn't exist in so many -- very many places anymore.

BORGER: Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania.

BADE: Right.

DYSON: Right.

BOLDUAN: These -- these are sort of the usual suspects of people who have a leg to stand on politically who can come out and say something.

BADE: That's right. It politically benefits them in their district if they push back against the president. I mean clearly the political calculus is the number one priority for Republicans right now. And there's a fear that if you come from a far right district where everybody loves the president, that, you know, you're going to take heat if you go out there and criticize him.

I think that what happened this weekend on the Democratic side is really interesting because the infighting in the Democratic Party, and the House in particular, has been absolutely brutal and ugly. I mean we saw one of the squad members on Saturday say something about how we don't -- quote, we don't need any more black faces that don't want to be black voices. And she was specifically talking about members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were standing up for Pelosi, who they were fighting with. So it was getting really bad.

KEILAR: Over her.

BADE: And Trump's tweet totally changed everything. Now the conversation is about Democrats versus Trump. Democrats are uniting. We just learned that there's going to be a resolution potentially on the floor this week or next week rebuking President Trump for these tweets over the weekend.

DYSON: Right. Well, the enemy of my enemy turns out to be my friend. But the problem here is that the Republicans haven't named this specifically for what it is, a malady of racial and gender proportions that is quite epic. And the point you were making, I think, is very -- is very clear. That usually even this kind of thing crosses the line. You're going to get some pushback.

The inability for Republicans to find a spine, to say this is wrong. Susan Collins talks about unacceptability. That's your three-year-old throwing, you know, Cheerios at the television. Racist is what it is. Misogynistic is what it is. Sexist is what it is. Xenophobic is what it is. And we've got to begin to use these words as cajoles and hammers against the viciousness that we see prevailing.

BORGER: But -- and -- and that's 100 percent correct. And what Trump is doing here for the Democrats is he's saying, well, if you defend these four women, I don't call them communists. You know, Lindsey Graham calls them communists. I don't call them --

DYSON: The brave (ph).

KEILAR: Socialists. Maybe they're communists is what he said. BORGER: So if you defend them against what I said --

DYSON: Right.

BORGER: Then that means you agree with them on everything.

DYSON: Oh, it's distorted logic. I mean (INAUDIBLE) logic (INAUDIBLE).

BORGER: And it is. It is -- it is. But you see what he's doing.

DYSON: Oh, absolutely.

BORGER: And you see what he's doing. It's --

DYSON: And brilliantly.

BORGER: Exactly.

BADE: And as, you know, Republicans, they're going to be -- the good thing about -- well, Democrats would argue the good thing about this resolution that they're going to be putting on the floor is that not only does it unite them, the Democrats, but it's going to put Republicans on record. So right now we might be sort of pulling teeth to get statements from Republican leadership in the House and in the Senate. But in the House, they're not going to have a choice. They're going to have to vote on this one way or another.

KEILAR: How -- how does this moment in history -- how does history judge this moment, do you think?

DYSON: I think it's going to -- we're going to look back collectively, and not too long from now, and see the inability to find our American compass, right? This is not about simply identity politics, whether you're black or brown or red or yellow or women or if you are gay. It's about how we define what is American.

And, unfortunately, when people say this is not America, this is American. This has happened before. But it's not America at its best. What about those great voices that call us to conscience, the better angels of our natures. The statesmen and stateswomen in political office who say we rise above narrow, vicious, petty, partisan politics to find the American way. This is going to be harshly judged.

KEILAR: I want to -- let's let Hillary --

BORGER: Can I just say, we've been through this, though. We've had Charlottesville, We've had birtherism. We've had Donald Trump calling a Mexican-American judge saying --

DYSON: A racist.

BORGER: And Paul Ryan said that was racist and then still supported Donald Trump.

DYSON: Right. KEILAR: Hillary Clinton just tweeted, so let's look at what she said. She said, let's not forget why Trump is attacking Democratic women of color in the first place. They brought attention to the inhumane conditions they saw at this administration's detention camps. What will we say to those we imprisoned for seeking safety?

What do you think?

BORGER: I think that is the context of this. The context of this is that you had the vice president going down to the border and Pamela Brown did a great interview with him where he wouldn't acknowledge what was right in front of his eyes. And these women, we had a hearing last week, were quite emotional, a couple of them, and I think that the president is pushing back on that very strongly. I mean he -- he punches.

DYSON: Oh, yes.

[13:20:00] BORGER: And that is -- that is exactly what he is doing here.

DYSON: It is distraction (ph).

BORGER: And Republicans, to Racheal's point, Republicans are afraid because he's so popular, they're, you know, they're afraid to take him on. I mean Paul Ryan could have said that his remarks on Judge Curiel were racist, but as we all know, he then went on and --

DYSON: Supported him.

BORGER: Supported him.

DYSON: And then afterward you write a book, a memoir, and you make money off of your reflections of conscience now, when you had the position and had the ability to make a difference and use your bully pulpit.

Look, it is the politics of distraction here. And, again, let's acknowledge the political genius of Donald Trump. What do you do? You throw a hand grenade to distract from the bomb that's blowing up over here. And now we're all talking about that as opposed to cages and treating young children as animal and people as animals and people as animals and losing again our American way. It's a -- it's a -- as I said, it's political dementia, but also a demented genius at its best. And Donald Trump is playing it for all it's worth.

KEILAR: But he's betting in a way that he can shoot the moon, right? He's betting that he can stir up the intensity of those who support him. He's not looking to expand his base here. And he's certainly going to be turning some people off. It's noteworthy that it seems like there's no foil for him that sticks in his craw like women of color. We have seen this repeatedly.

DYSON: Right.

KEILAR: This is where it appears he reserves some of his most -- his vitriol, his most intense vitriol for. Is this going to have political blowback for him even if it is working strategically in one capacity?

BADE: I mean I think we saw in the 2018 midterms election that this sort of rhetoric has a consequence for him. I mean he lost control of the House. Pelosi took over. And, you know, if past is any prologue, that means this could really hurt him in 2020. I mean when it comes to immigration and, you know, the economy, he's got sort of this fight -- he's got this ground to fight on.

But this sort of language is going to repel independents. It's going to turn people off. And it's really going to undercut him.

DYSON: You know --

BADE: I think -- I want to add one more thing here. We are getting word right now that a Texas Democrat, Al Green, is now talking about forcing the articles of impeachment on the House floor in the next week and a half before they leave for August recess.


BADE: So you can just see how much anger and emotion this is really ginning up in the -- in the Democratic Party right now.

DYSON: But, see, I don't think -- but, unfortunately, and tragically, the answer is no, he's not going to pay a price. I think that his base accepts this. Black women are even lower on the totem pole than black men. So he picks on the lowest niche, so to speak, and he goes at that and he hammers at that and he will not pay a price.

White women who are conservative, the 54 percent of eligible white women who voted for Donald Trump in the last election are not going to stand up and say, as women, we identify with a fellow woman who's being assaulted viciously, lambasted by a president in sexist terms. And, unfortunately and tragically, not only does the Republican Party not have a spine, but the masses of white brothers and sisters who find themselves in league with or at least contra distinctive to this guy will not stand up and tell you the truth (ph).

KEILAR: Thank you. We have to leave it there. Thank you guys so much.

We have a whole lot more on our breaking news here, including reaction from former Republican Governor John Kasich, who is calling on Republicans to speak up against the president.

Also, was the president's threat to carry out raids on undocumented immigrants a stunt? He said they happened, but we just didn't see them. We're going to look at that.

And Joe Biden unveils his health care plan. One that goes farther than Obamacare but not as far as Medicare for all.


[13:28:31] KEILAR: More now on our breaking news.

The president defending his racist attacks against four congresswomen of color. This overtly racist broadside against these women following the president's move last week to demand that the census include a citizenship question he admits is there to limit the power of communities with large populations of non-citizens.

This also comes as he's announced raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting immigrant communities. And it comes as he speaks glowingly about immigration detention centers where conditions have been widely reported as abhorrent, including by the press pool that accompanied Vice President Pence to the border this weekend.

This fits a pattern for the president who has long made it clear that he thinks white people matter more than non-white people, even if they're American. Thirty years ago he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five. Five minority youths who were falsely accused of rape. Trump still refusing to believe their innocence now 16 years after they were exonerated. Eight years ago, he tried to de- legitimatize the election of the nation's first African-American president by publicly questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S. The Trump presidential campaign kicking off four years ago with a racist rant about people from Mexico, calling them murderers and rapists.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.


[13:30:06] KEILAR: Remember Judge Gonzalo Curiel.