Return to Transcripts main page


GOP Lawmakers Largely Silent on Trump's Racist Attack; Trump Administration Says ICE Raids are Underway, But Advocacy Groups Say They Don't See Them; Biden Releases New Healthcare Plan. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump suggesting that some members of Congress should go back to their countries.

[05:58:29] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president feels he is resonating with his core supporters.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is racist and un-American. You should never hear that from the president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have not seen any ICE agents making any appearances. But the fear is very palpable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be able to enforce the law in a reasonable way. And that's what we're doing here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want comprehensive immigration reform. But frightening children across our country is simply unacceptable.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, July 16.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fifteenth, 15th. It's July 15.

CAMEROTA: I'll fire someone later.


CAMEROTA: July 15, 6 a.m. here in New York.

This morning, the outcry builds after President Trump tweets a stunningly racist attack against four Democratic congresswomen of color. Democrats spent Sunday speaking out against it and trying to process something like this from the president. But to this point, there is virtual silence from Republican lawmakers. The president not apologizing after sending this incendiary tweet,

telling the women to, quote, "go back" to the countries they come from. All of the lawmakers that are referenced are American citizens. Three of them were born in the United States.

BERMAN: So as we wake up today, the question is what do you call someone that says clearly racist things? This morning, the answer is "Mr. President."

The second question: What do you call lawmakers who stand by in silence when someone says clearly racist things? The answer this morning: "Republican members of Congress."

We've been looking all night and found only one single Republican member of Congress who raised any issue at all with what the president said: Chip Roy of Texas. That's it. All alone. We'll let you know if we see or hear any more this morning.

Why the silence is a huge issue. What are these members so afraid of?

Also, this was no slip of the tongue. This was a deliberate move by the president in an election season. So why does the president think racism is an effective campaign issue?

Let's get straight to the White House. Our Joe Johns is there.

Joe, is the White House explaining this morning why the president's remarks on race (AUDIO GAP)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) have gotten so far out there that virtually everybody who pays any attention at all has got to hear it.

But it also may have served to unite the sometimes fractured Democrats on Capitol Hill.


JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump doubling down on attacks he made Sunday against Democratic congresswomen. In a series of racist tweets, the president writing, "'Progressive' Democratic congresswomen -- should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came."

Though he did not mention the Democrats by name, the apparent targets of his tirade are congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, who are all natural-born citizens, and Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

Amid virtual silence from Republicans on the Hill, Democratic lawmakers slamming the president's rhetoric.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): The president is an illegitimate racist occupying the White House. Yes, he attacked these four women of color, who are members of Congress who have been elected from their districts to come to the Congress of the United States and represent the people in their districts. They are certainly legitimate. He is not.

JOHNS: The four freshman congresswomen have repeatedly spoken out against President Trump's immigration policies and have all called for his impeachment.

Ocasio-Cortez firing back at the president, reminding him she is an American, adding, "Given how you've destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you and the corporations who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet."

Omar accusing the president of stoking white nationalism and calling him "the most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen."

Trump responding to the avalanche of criticism, tweeting, "Whenever confronted, Democrats call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, racist. Their disgusting language and the many terrible things they say about the United States should not be allowed to go unchallenged."

Despite reports of infighting between Nancy Pelosi and the same group of Congresswomen, the House speaker defending the members of her caucus, rejecting what she called the president's xenophobic comments, saying, "'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again," echoing comments she made last week.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We respect the value of every member of our caucus. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power.


JOHNS: So the thing to watch today will be members of the president's own party, particularly on Capitol Hill, to see how many respond to the president's tweets.

Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much.

Joining us now to talk about all this, we have Errol Louis, CNN political commentator; Maysoon Zayid, a writer, producer and disability advocate; and Charlie Dent, a CNN political commentator and former Republican member of Congress from Pennsylvania. Great to have all of you.

Maysoon, I just want to start with you. You are, as we said, an advocate for the disabled, a comedian and a Muslim woman. What did you think when you saw the president's tweets yesterday?

MAYSOON ZAYID, WRITER, PRODUCER: I thought I'm sick of this abuse. That this is actually abusive. As a person who lives in this country, born and raised in America -- and by the way, it doesn't matter where anyone was born. I know that we keep pointing out that Ilhan was born somewhere else. We are American. It is the great equalizer.

And to be living in a country where every single day we are under siege, from Muslim snuff videos to outward racism. This is incitement of violence. I don't feel safe in this country anymore. And I'm not a scaredy-cat. I hang out in war zones. And to be constantly bombarded by this hate, and then to have the GOP be silent, is terrifying.

BERMAN: Have you been told to go home before?

ZAYID: I'm always being told to go back to my country. And I actually use it in my comedy, because whenever they say, "Go back to your country," I say, "Jersey is part of America, whether you like it or not."

[06:05:04] But that moment made me cringe internally. He's said so many different offensive things, but that moment triggered something in so many of us of being told, "Go back to your own country." And where is that country? It's America. Whether they like it or not, this is our country.

BERMAN: I think the reason it triggered something is because it's simple, unnuanced racism.


BERMAN: There's no alternative interpretation to "Go back where you came from" -- Errol Louis.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. Well, I mean, when you hear it described as, "Well, it's nativist" and it's this and it's that. Well, no. It's just racist. Right? If it was some drunk guy at the end of the bar, ranting and raving, everybody would understand exactly what it was.

The sad thing, the shocking thing is that it's coming out of the Oval Office. You know, this is the seat that was held by Jefferson and by Lincoln and by, you know, FDR and JFK and Ronald Reagan, for that matter.

And to have the president speaking, that this is what he chooses to put out there, you know, is there some strategic consideration? Well, yes. The ICE raids were a bust, and maybe he wanted to just distract us all. Maybe this is how he plans to energize his base.

But the sort of crowning sadness of all of it is that nobody stands up. Nobody in the president's party stands up and says, "I don't want to be part of this. This is not acceptable. Something needs to change." Or at a minimum, at a minimum "We're all going to lose a bunch of seats. We're going to lose a bunch of power in the next election if we don't disassociate ourselves from that."

Will no one just stand up and simply say that? I mean, it's not, in some ways, even a moral consideration. It's just a right and wrong kind of a question. And it's very -- it's very sad to think that we've gotten to this point.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, why aren't Republicans speaking out loudly yesterday and today? CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For the same reasons they

don't speak out on other issues, because they're just fearful of primaries. It's that simple.

And in this case, you know, we saw tweets that were -- that were xenophobic, nativist, racially inflammatory, incendiary, and then completely out of bounds.

And -- and what's even more bizarre, if I'm a Republican member right now, I have to be furious with the president for this. Not just because of how horrible the tweets were -- and they were horrible -- but the fact that those four members are not necessarily the most sympathetic members within the Democratic caucus, you know, given their, you know, incitement of primaries against some of their Democratic colleagues.

So, you know, the Democrats were a bit divided. Now the president has just unified the Democrats because of his horrible tweets and behavior.

BERMAN: I get the issue of being politically inexpedient, but Charlie, when you look at this, there's only two possible explanations for why the president said this.

No. 1, he's a racist. That's a possible explanation. No. 2, because he thinks it helps him politically.

Do you think it's either of those answers, or which one do you think it is?

DENT: Well, look, this does not help him politically. For heaven's sakes, I think it hurts him terribly, questioning the legitimacy of four members of Congress as members and as Americans, I think, really offends most of the -- most of the American population. I can't imagine this.

And he's had -- he has a sad history of making these kinds of racially-incendiary comments, from the comments he made about Mexicans, to Charlottesville, to the way he handled the travel ban. And I'm probably forgetting a few more. And now -- and now this.

So again, I think Republicans are going to have to step up at some point and say something. Look, hey, it was Sunday. They're going to be back in town, I suspect, today. And I'm sure CNN is going to be there with microphones in members' faces and wanting comment.

CAMEROTA: And you think, Charlie, just to be clear, that some of them will speak out this morning?

DENT: I suspect they'll be forced to speak out. Because they're going to be walking to and from the Capitol, and the media will be swarming on them. So I think, whether they want to or not, they're going to be -- they're going to have to address this issue. one way or the over.

I mean, I would. I'd get out in front of it. When I was a member, I always stood up every time the president did something like this. I always condemned those comments. Obviously, many said, "Well, that's not enough." I don't know what else they expect you to do. But I always routinely condemned them. I didn't really care how the president or White House staff felt about it, because frankly, most of them agreed with me. Many on, at least, the staff. I know that. And same with my fellow colleagues. They never condemned me for saying these things.

BERMAN: I will note, Charlie, though, that you're a former member now. And it may not be unrelated.

DENT: Yes.

BERMAN: I mean, you chose to retire and not run again, but do you think you could have survived in the Republican Party that Donald Trump has created?

DENT: It would be much harder. I think I possibly could have, but it's -- it's very difficult.

I would be first to tell you, I did not want to have to spend all of 2018, you know, talking about President Trump and his conduct in office. That's what we did in 2016. And I never endorsed him; I never supported him. And I routinely criticized, you know, his comments and his behavior. And frankly, it became a bit tiring. And I didn't want to have to spend the rest of my time in Congress just addressing whatever he's doing when I'd rather be dealing with substantive policy issues like those on the border. I had some experience.

[06:10:14] That was really frustrating to me. And I know it was frustrating to my colleagues. And many of my former colleagues who lost their elections, you know, will be --


DENT: They'll tell you why they lost. It was because of the president and his conduct in office. It's that simple.

CAMEROTA: You know, there was this moment on morning television yesterday that I know got your attention. For many Republicans, FOX TV and "FOX & Friends" is their sole source of information. OK? That -- it just is. That's where -- where they like to hear their own views reflected back at them.

And so I think that the folks on "FOX & Friends" were responding to this racist tweet in real time. So I think they were reading it right when it came out.

And their reaction sets the tone for how then Republicans, not just lawmakers but just regular people, try to process it. So here's how they tackled it yesterday.


GRIFF JENKINS, HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": "These places need your help badly. You can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements." This tweet that you're just seeing now is clearly going to get, I think, a lot of discussion.

TODD PIRO, HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": Comedian in chief.

JEDEDIAH BILA, HOST, "FOX & FRIENDS": Someone's feeling very comedic today.


CAMEROTA: Just all fun and games, Maysoon.

ZAYID: I'm feeling really comedic. I'm a comedian. Racism is not funny. It's violent.

And also, it made me think, will they laugh if we get rounded up? How far away from that are we?

As someone who is Muslim, as someone who, like Rashida, comes from Palestinian heritage. As someone who like Jedediah, who was on that TV, is brown, and is constantly being yelled at to go back to their own country. Will they be chuckling? Will they think it's funny?

Do they realize that this literally puts people in danger every single day, when they laugh and then they excuse it? When they think that the most powerful person in the world, making racist comments, misogynistic comments, putting women who are constantly threatened every day in even more danger, is chuckle-worthy, where have we reached in this country?

BERMAN: It's like "Camerota, go back to Italy." You know, "Berman, you know, go back to Russia or Poland or Lithuania or whatever it is your people come from there."

It really is the story of America. And there's just this logical inconsistency, Errol, that's bothered me for weeks since we heard Tucker Carlson with his racism there.

Donald Trump ran on American carnage. He ran on running down America. But it's OK for him to say that America needs improvement. But God forbid someone who's black or brown or a more recent immigrant question --

LOUIS: That's right.

BERMAN: -- anything that's going on.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, I mean, that's what's so offensive about it, is that it's not just that he's denigrating them and sort of saying it doesn't matter whether you're born in, you know, the Bronx or Mogadishu, you know. All you colored people, you don't belong here. You know, go back to your problems.

CAMEROTA: He doesn't know where they were born. He has no idea.

LOUIS: He doesn't know. He doesn't care.

CAMEROTA: He doesn't care, yes.

LOUIS: So -- so the -- but even worse than that is these are people who are trying to help the country. Right? I mean, this is public service. These are women who could be doing many, many other things.

You know, I think they've simply proved by their performance they could be in the private sector, doing other stuff. They could be elsewhere in the public sector doing things.

The right to contribute, the right to build, the right to be heard and to try and make things better for yourself and for your community and your people, that's what public service is all about.

And so he's trying to sort of wipe an entire segment out of the public conversation. And leave it up to him to, you know, I guess pose as a hero and he alone can fix it and on and on and on.

Now most people realize that that's not going to happen. That's not the way the world is. That's not the way this country is. We know who's going to win this argument in the end. It's just distressing that, with all the powers of the presidency, he's choosing for very small advantage, for very small gain, to try and divide the country this way.

ZAYID: But do we know who's going to win? Because I'm not quite sure we are. It has become so normalized. We're bringing birtherism back. That's exactly what this is.

And we have people saying that the GOP is afraid to speak out, because they don't want to lose primaries. The assumption is that voters support racism. So will we win, or is it really now being normalized and becoming something we can't beat?

LOUIS: Obviously, there's an attempt to normalize it. But I think, look, the 2018 elections have shown that going to the Republican base over and over again and taking more and more extreme positions, in this case hateful positions, is not going to be the key to victory. I mean, that are -- they've already -- I mean --

ZAYID: Except for the Senate.

LOUIS: Kevin McCarthy, the conference leader for the Republicans in the House, he's one of seven Republicans left in the California delegation of 54 members. I mean, I don't know how much more they're going to have to lose. Maybe we'll find out in 2020.

[06:15:05] But I think they're going to -- they have a world of hurt coming to them.

And when I say they're going to lose the argument, I mean --

DENT: That's the Northeast.

LOUIS: -- that's in the long-term. Maybe not necessarily 2020, although I think it's going to be awful for a lot of these folks.

Their silence, by the way, I think, is not necessarily assent. It's more like fear.

ZAYID: I think it's agreement.

LOUIS: They're afraid of their base; they're afraid of what's coming.

ZAYID: I think it's agreement. I think if they were really, really offended, if they had any concept of decency, they would speak out. And I think that they can speak out in a way where they still get the votes that they need. You don't trade decency and humanity for votes.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you very much. Thanks so much for your candor this morning and for having this conversation. Obviously, we are all just trying to process what it means that the president of the United States feels this way.

BERMAN: And we are -- the phone lines are open. If you're a Republican member of Congress, and you want to speak out this morning, call us.

CAMEROTA: You know where to find us.

BERMAN: We will give you a platform to speak out against racism.

All right. Happening now. What raids? The Trump administration claims that sweeping actions to round up thousands of undocumented immigrants are now underway, but authorities in the cities that were supposed to be targeted really report no confirmed cases of migrants being arrested.

Rosa Flores joins us now, live from Chicago where this was supposed to be taking place.

Rosa, what are you hearing?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, good morning.

A senior official told CNN on Sunday morning that these raids were underway. "The New York Times," of course, is reporting that an official told the paper that the operations had been altered, that they had changed.

CNN, of course, called advocates in all of the nine targeted U.S. cities, and those advocates say that the raids did not happen. But here is what did materialize.

And that was the widespread fear in the undocumented and immigrant communities across the country. Because let's remember: Under the Obama administration, hundreds of thousands of undocumented families came out of the shadows. They gave their addresses to the U.S. government to apply for programs like DACA.

And under the Trump administration, after family separation, thousands of mothers and fathers and family members came out of the shadows so they could claim those children that had been separated.

So that's why advocates around the country say that they stepped in. I spoke to advocates in multiple states, and in a nutshell, they say that they prepared the undocumented community. They did things like hold "know your rights" workshops. And also they set up ICE raid hotlines so the people in the community could call in. And then also created community response teams with civil rights lawyers that could respond to these raids.

So Alisyn, even though, you know, at this point it's unclear, because administration officials say that -- that these raids did happen, and advocates say that they didn't happen.

But then the other thing that we can say did materialize is that the undocumented community is a little more educated about their civil rights this morning after advocates from across the country went out and tried to educate them on those rights.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting. And Rosa, we'll try to get the exact numbers, if we can this morning. So thank you very much for the latest status report there.

BERMAN: He'll be speaking at -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) later, right?

CAMEROTA: He should have the right numbers. He'll be able to tell us --

BERMAN: He'll have some numbers.

CAMEROTA: -- how many people were arrested yesterday. That was their whole goal. So we'll see.

Breaking news in the 2020 race. Former Vice President Joe Biden just released his new healthcare plan moments ago, and it draws a clear distinction between him and the other top Democrats. So we will break down the details, next.


CAMEROTA: OK. We do have some breaking news from the campaign trail. Former Vice President Joe Biden has just released his new healthcare plan, and CNN's Jessica Dean is here with the details.

What do we know?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to both of you.

Look, this is becoming the issue that is quickly becoming a defining issue for these candidates. We're starting to see some of the contrasts.

Let's break down what Vice President Biden is proposing here. Two big components that you'll see right here. Federal subsidies to make Obamacare exchanges cheaper. Public option programs similar to Medicare. It also allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Those top two are the big ones. Let's really dig into those. Federal

subsidies to make Obamacare exchanges cheaper. What that's going to do is allow to supplement some of these families that have been kind of caught in the middle here, that the criticism of Obamacare is it's too expensive. Well, this is going to allow a family of four making $110,000, say, to save about $750 a month.

They're also going to support gold plans versus silver. A gold plan is going to let you have a lower deductible.

Now, breaking down that public option, then you're going to be able to put in people who are in Republican-led red states that were not able to get -- they did not expand Medicaid. So now they're going to be enrolled in this public option.

Also, if you have health insurance you don't like, you can join the public option.

But if you start reading these, Alisyn and John, what you'll notice is this is a lot of what they wanted originally with Obamacare when they first proposed all of this. That's not what they ultimately got, but the campaign really wants to come back, they want to strengthen Obamacare. They want to catch some of these people that they know are either paying too much, that it's not that they have health insurance and they can't even really afford it. Or people like those people in those states that didn't expand Medicaid that -- that aren't able to have health insurance.

[06:25:10] So this really a contrast with some of these other more liberal candidates that want to go more toward Medicare for all. That's really the key difference here, is that Biden wants to keep and strengthen Obamacare.

BERMAN: All right. Jessica Dean for us. Jessica, great to have you with us on set with us. Really appreciate it.

Want to discuss much more. Joining us now is Jess McIntosh, CNN political commentator and former director of communications outreach for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Also with us is Sarah Isgur, CNN political analyst, who has worked on a number of Republican campaigns.

Jess, I want to start with you here on the policy which Biden is proposing. There are some nuances there. It's basically the original Obamacare.


BERMAN: It's Obamacare with the public option. That's the policy. People can buy into a Medicare option, if they want.

From the political perspective, what this does is it allows Joe Biden to differentiate himself from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Is that useful to him or how is that useful to him?

MCINTOSH: On the one hand, you're right about what he's going back to. But he's going back to it in a country that has moved significantly farther on this issues than where we were in 2008. Regardless of Republican obstructionism, I think we would have gotten a public option.

Now the numbers for Medicare for all are really quite strong across the board. If you add that Medicare for all with the option of keeping your private insurance, you can get up to, like, 40 percent of Republican support. So we're not looking at really very leftist ideas here. We're looking at ideas that have a broad general consensus.

So I think basically the entire field at this point wants some form of expanded government health care. Most of them leave in the private insurance option. Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, the two notable exceptions who are Medicare for all in its purist form.

I don't think that most of the electorate is going to be voting based on the incremental differences between these candidates on this issue, but it is really exciting to have this debate when the other side is so engaged in disinformation around healthcare, and it is such a critical issue for everybody of every party.

CAMEROTA: So Sarah, as someone who has, as we've said, helped Republicans get elected, explain what could people object to in the Joe Biden plan? Because it's Medicare for all who want it, basically.

So there's a lot of options. Public option. You can keep your own private health care or you can go public. So what will be the objections to that?

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Jess is sort of highlighting a lot of them, because Joe Biden is falling into a trap that we've seen candidates fall into every cycle, which is running in the general before you've won the primary. Hillary Clinton did it. Jeb Bush did it. It could be a very dangerous place to be. And it's so easy to do when you're the frontrunner.

I think it's smart that he's drawing his contrast with Bernie Sanders. What we've seen from polling is that, for Bernie Sanders voters, their second choice is Joe Biden right now.

But for Elizabeth Warren voters, for instance, whose policies are pretty indistinguishable with Bernie Sanders, their second choice is Kamala Harris right now.

So very smart for Joe Biden to be pointedly drawing that distinction with Bernie Sanders. But again, I have to agree with Jess. Are they really switching voters over the incremental changes right now? Probably not. Do I think a lot of voters in those polls understand what Medicare for all versus Joe Biden's plan? Probably not yet. That will come out more in a general election.

BIDEN: Well, when you start asking people about socialism -- I'm not suggesting Medicare for all is socialism -- but you know that socialism is a buzzword and drives people crazy in the polls.

And so if you start saying Medicare for all, where we take away your private insurance, and you're going to get government-controlled health care, that's where it becomes politically problematic from a polling perspective.

MCINTOSH: I just think that whatever nominee we have with whatever plan, the Republicans are going to call it Medicare for all socialism. It won't matter whether we get a strength in Obamacare incremental plan like Biden has pushed out or an actual Medicare for all plan like Bernie Sanders is supporting. That is what Republicans are going to say.

So for Democrats to decide to concede that point in the beginning, I think, is probably not playing the right politics. We just have to be ready for it.

CAMEROTA: But Sarah, do you think the Democrats are, as a whole, sitting in a better position today approaching 2020 than President Trump, who has not come up with a coherent health plan?

ISGUR: On healthcare, I think that having a wide debate within the party is probably helping them energize their base. You know it's an important issue. And I think you're going to see that in some of the polling on the -- which candidate is best positioned to work on "X."

Healthcare, I think Democrats have always led on that issue for the last 10, 20 years, I think. And I think they'll continue to do so.

But on the economy, for instance, you're still seeing the president polling ahead than most of the Democrats on that issue. And I think that that's where they need to move next.

BERMAN: I think it will -- it gives Joe.