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House GOP Defends Trump; Trump Speaks at the White House; Trump Defends his Racist Attacks. Aired 1 -1:30p ET

Aired July 16, 2019 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:21] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

And we start with the House of Representatives, where Democratic lawmakers are expected to publicly condemn President Trump for his racist attack on four minority congresswomen. The president taking to Twitter today multiple times to urge Republicans not to vote with Democrats and to insist he's not racist.

Here's the language that Congress members will vote on. The House of Representatives strongly condemns President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants should go back to other countries. By referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as invaders and by saying that members of Congress, who are immigrants, or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants, do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

And, Manu, Republicans are trying very hard to spin this move by Democrats as they unite against this resolution.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Republicans are confident that they won't have many defections on this resolution when it passes the House tonight, likely by a party line vote. Expect all Democrats to vote for it, maybe a handful of Republicans to vote for it as well.

But at the moment, Republicans instead are taking their aim at Democrats, saying that these four congresswomen in particular have been leveling insults at the president. They say the president has a right to fire back. They are not getting into the notion that the president levelled these racist tweets by saying that they should go back to their countries, even though they are American citizens, three of the four of them born in this country. A lot of the members do not want to engage on that and instead side-stepping questions when we asked them specifically about that issue.

And I had a chance to ask one of them, that's Senator Thom Tillis, Republican up in 2020, someone who needs the president's support in a potential Republican primary in his state, I asked him if he's comfortable with the notion of the president telling these women to go back to their countries.


RAJU: Is he saying go back to your country. Should he be telling people to go back to their country? They're Americans.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I'll leave that to the president to (INAUDIBLE).

RAJU: You don't have any concern about saying go back to your country to an American citizen?

TILLIS: We've got issues that we need to solve here. And I think this kind of discussion is casting light -- or casting attention away from things that most of the American people want us to focus on.

RAJU: Isn't' that the president's fault for doing that?

TILLIS: Take a look at some of the audacious comments coming out of the -- the mouths or through social media of some of the folks on the other side of the aisle. You should ask them that question.


RAJU: So I tried to ask him at the ending, isn't that the president's fault for distracting because the Republicans are raising concerns that this is a distraction, but Tillis there pointing the finger at Democrats. And you're hearing a number of Republicans echoing those same concerns.

Now, we do hear some division within the Republican Party on the Senate side. Some expressing their concern a little bit more than others. One Republican up in 2020, Cory Gardner, just told me that he disagrees with the president's tweet. But when I asked him, Brianna, whether or not he believes they are racist, he did not say that. He just simply said, I disagree with the president. I hope he wouldn't say that.


KEILAR: All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much, live for us from The Hill.

President Trump's attacks and his assertion that people who disagree with him should leave the country harkens back to some fear mongering of the 1950s and Senator Joseph McCarthy's hunt for communists. Some recent attention being given again to what legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow famously summed up this way.


EDWARD R. MURROW, CBS NEWS (March 9, 1954): We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine. And remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to right, to speak, to associate and to defend the causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.


KEILAR: Scott Bolden is the former Democratic Party chairman for the District of Columbia. Wajahat Ali is a contributing opinion writer for "The New York Times."

So, Wajahat, I wonder what you think of now this argument Republicans are trying to turn around. You heard Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, saying, no, he didn't think this was racist. But Republicans are trying to reverse this as an attack now on socialism.

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP ED WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, it's awesome. Every day I get told to go back home to my country, even though I was born and raised in America. And I always thought it was racist and hurtful. But little did I know that they just simply disagreed with my political philosophies. And it's interesting that they never followed up --


ALI: Yes. and they -- but they never followed up with a question or debate about socialism or, you know, capitalism, even though I'm not a socialist. And they've never told Bernie Sanders that one open socialist to go back to his country, fix it and then come back.

[13:05:14] This is racism pure and simple. And I just want to say this, when we get told to go back to our -- I just want to explain how it feels. You don't belong. You'll never belong. You're an alien, a stranger, a villain. It doesn't matter how many generations you have been in this country, based on your skin color or your ethnicity, you are not one of us. It is pure abc's of racism. And the fact that they're doing this means weaver living in the upside down. Up is down, left is right and apparently racism is not racism and we are racists for calling out their racism. White supremacy is a hell of a drug.

BOLDEN: Ditto.

KEILAR: Just ditto?

BOLDEN: Yes. No. No, let me -- let me just say this.

The -- beyond the racism piece --

ALI: It rarely happens, by the way.

BOLDEN: Right.

Beyond the racism, it's idiocy because we are a country of immigrants. And so if you tell women who are black or brown, federally elected officials, to go back to their countries, well, they're American citizens. One -- only one is naturalized. Well, why don't you tell all white Americans, all yellow, brown and black Americans to go back to their countries because their ancestors came from somewhere else. This is pure idiocy, if you will. But the president traffics in this racism. The birther movement. We know the pattern and practice. The attacks on these young women. The Charlottesville attack. You name it. The citizenship question. How we treat immigrants. His policy, his leadership and the GOP in tow is all rooted in race, not in American values.

KEILAR: What do you make of the difference in approach, though? We heard Kevin McCarthy asked, yes or no, was this racist. He said no. Then Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about an attack by then candidate Trump on Judge Curiel, who he called Mexican born, who was actually from Indiana. So this is -- I mean this is a somewhat similar thing. And he said that that was the textbook definition of a racist comment.

So what do you make of the difference in approach?

ALI: The difference -- if I may, the difference is utter complicity by the entire Republican infrastructure. Not just Republicans, but also the right-wing media infrastructure that they have fallen behind Trump. He is the face of the Republican Party. Eighty-seven to 90 percent of Republicans support him and Trumpism is the new ideology.

And I'm glad you mentioned that because Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader, in 2016, according to "The Washington Post" said, I think there's two people that Putin pays, Rohrabacher and Trump. And Paul Ryan, House leader at the time, said, hush, hush, stay quiet, keep private. Now that Paul Ryan's out, now he criticizes Trump. Lindsey Graham, Chaffetz, you have McCarthy, all these individuals, right before Trump became president, Brianna, this is why it's so insidious, they know who he is, they know he's racist, they have criticized him with their own words. But now, fast forward two years later, because he's president, they have done a somersault on their own convictions and said no, no, he's not racist, which makes it worse because they know it's wrong.

BOLDEN: It's worse than that, though. The GOP are not victims. They have cut the devil's bargain for power.

ALI: Right.

BOLDEN: The broader question is, these fringe groups, those who are nativism, or practice nativism, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis --

ALI: The alt-right.

BOLDEN: The alt-right, if you will, that element has always been on the fringe of politics. But what Trump has brought it mainstream. And the devil's bargain with the GOP, who have come to support him or love him, is because they want to be re-elected. And his supporters, in many of the states that he won, are driving the GOP vote beyond the 87 or 90 percent support, they're driving a narrow GOP racist message. And there's no one to make them accountable. There are no Jack Kemps in the party any longer. There are no George Bush ones or two or even Ronald Reagan. And so whether it's the Tea Party movement or whether it's anyone else who traffics in this racism rooted in color and opposes the browning of America, if you will, this is a white man's country, there are no statesmen in that regard and all the Dems have to do is fight back.

But they've got to be elected. They've got to elect another president. And they've got to be organized. Their drive to have the white working class as the majority to win the presidential election is not too far behind what we're dealing with, with the Republican Party, because they never won the majority of white voters in this country since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Those white voters left and went to the Republican Party. They haven't looked back. Getting out the black vote and the brown vote is how the Dems win. And they'd better figure that out or rethink what they're thinking now, because Donald Trump has a strong chance of getting re-elected if they don't.

KEILAR: But where's the enthusiasm if he said yesterday he believes people agree with him. If there is an enthusiasm on the part of people who do, then you're talking about Democrats using this to get out the vote. This works, he thinks, to his political advantage.

[13:10:02] ALI: Well, see, he thinks it works to his political advantage. People think he's doing 3-D chess. I don't think he knows how to play chess. This is Donald Trump being Donald Trump going back to the 1970s, right? He's a one-trick pony. He's like one of those bands that keeps playing the hits and has no new material.

And if you look at the 2018 midterms, he could have run on the economy. If I was a strategist, I would have said, hey, you've got the economy, run on that. What did he triple down on? On a white supremacist conspiracy theory of Jews funding a caravan of invaders and immigrants. What happened? Despite voter suppression and gerrymandering, the House Democrats picked up 40 seats. It was a blue wave tsunami.

So he thinks this works to his crowd and he thinks he can mobilize the base, the angry white voter, and with voter suppression it will be enough to barely win.

But you have to also see this out. And if people aren't mentioning this and, if I may, the consequences of this rhetoric. In my community, I have a mosque. I go there for Friday prayer. For the first time in years, there is an armed guard with a gun and a bulletproof vest. My father, first time, been in this country for 50 years, immigrant from Pakistan, came here with the 1965 Immigrant Nationality Act. First time, over the weekend, says, son, I don't think this country will be safe for my grandkids.

Think about that. That's very sobering that my father, who's non- reactionary and non-hysterical feels that this country will not accept my children, my daughter just turned three over the weekend, an American citizen.

So what are the consequences, Brianna? And I just feel like -- I just want to pivot that conversation for a second because we've been talking about the outrage and he said/she said. But what does this do to communities of color living in this country? KEILAR: I want to listen to how -- at the center of this, the

criticism from President Trump, the raciest attack, was direct toward four Democratic congresswomen. Let's listen to how they responded.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Recent tweets and words from the president are simply a continuation of his racist and xenophobic playbook.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): This is the agenda of white nationalists.

And now it's reached the White House garden.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Given the size of this squad and this great nation, we cannot, we will not be silenced.


KEILAR: The president speaking just moments ago. Let's listen.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) should leave if they're not happy. Where should they go?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's up to them. Go wherever they want or they can stay. But they should love our country. They shouldn't hate our country. You look at what they've said. I -- I have clips right here. The most vile, horrible statements about our country, about Israel, about others.

It's up to them. They can do what they want. They can leave, they can stay, but they should love our country and they should work for the good of our country.

All right, thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press.




We're speaking to Turkey.

QUESTION: What are you saying to them, sir?

TRUMP: I've had a very good relationship. And, frankly, it's a very complex situation. The Obama administration would not sell them the patriot missiles. They need the patriot missiles for defense. They would not sell them under any circumstance. And Turkey tried very hard to buy them and they wouldn't sell them.

And this went on for a long period of time. And it was as soon as they found out that they were going to have to buy the missiles, a comparable -- not as good a missile, but a comparable almost missile from Russia, all of a sudden everybody started rushing and saying to Turkey, OK, we'll sell you the patriot missile. It was only when they founding out they couldn't get it, then they say, let's go, we'll sell you the patriot missile.

But by that time, Turkey had already signed and paid a lot of money to Russia for the missile system that they were not allowed to buy here, foolishly, because Turkey is a NATO member.

Turkey has also ordered over 100 F-35 planes. Substantially over 100. And they have plans to order more. But because they have a system of missiles that's made in Russia, they're now prohibited from buying over 100 planes. I would say that Lockheed isn't exactly happy. That's a lot of jobs. And, frankly, I've always had a very good relationship. We have Pastor Brunson came back at my request when I called. Pastor Brunson was going to be in jail for 25 years and I called President Erdogan and I said, listen, he's an innocent man, he's a pastor, he's a religious man, he's not a spy, he's not the things they said. And we had a couple of conversations and I was able to get him back, along with many other people I was able to get back. The press doesn't want to write about it.

[13:15:03] Our ambassador for hostage negotiations said Trump is the greatest of all time. I only tell you that because you'll never say it. But I guess we have 21 back. I got 21 back. I don't pay either, unlike the $1.8 billion that was paid by the Obama administration to get hostages back. I don't pay. Because once you pay, it doesn't work out.

So what happens is, we have a situation where Turkey is very good with us. Very good. And we are now telling Turkey that because you have really been forced to buy another missile system, we're not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets. It's a very tough situation that they're in and it's a very tough situation that we've been placed in, the United States.

With all of that being said, we're working through it. We'll see what happens. But it's not really fair. They wanted to buy -- I don't stick up for countries. I don't stick up for turkey. I don't stick up -- other than I've had a good relationship with President Erdogan. He wanted to buy our patriot missile. We wouldn't sell it. And then when he made a deal -- and he really wanted to buy it. And then when he made a deal with another country, Russia, to buy their system that he didn't even want, then all of a sudden we say, oh, OK, we'll -- we'll now sell you the patriot. And because of the fact he bought a Russian missile, we're not allowed to sell him billions of dollars' worth of aircraft. It's not a fair situation.

Do you have something to add to that, Mike?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: No, sir, I think you've explained it well. TRUMP: I think so. Glad you said the right thing.


TRUMP: Well, what we're doing with China -- first of all, Peter Thiel (ph) is a friend of mine. He's a tremendous contributor. He's a big -- he's a big -- he spoke at our convention, at the Republican National Convention. Peter is a brilliant young man, one of the most successful people in Silicon Valley. I guess he was an original investor in some of these biggest, biggest companies, including FaceBook, I understand.

Yes, he made a very strong charge. He's one of the top -- maybe the top expert on all of those things. And he made a very big statement about Google. And I would like to recommend to the various agencies, including perhaps our attorney general who is with us, to maybe take a look. It's a big -- it's a big statement when you say that, you know, Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country.

So I think we'll all look at that. I know that our other agencies will be looking at it. And we'll see if there's any truth to it. But that's a very big statement made by somebody who's highly respected. So we'll certainly take a look at that.

QUESTION: In at least two Central American countries have said they're not going to play ball with your new asylum plans. What are you going to do?

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. We were sending hundreds of millions of dollars to -- are you talking about Guatemala and Honduras? We were sending hundreds of millions of dollars to Guatemala and Honduras. We're not going to send it anymore. We haven't been sending it for the last year because they weren't doing anything for us. They were forming caravans and they were sending them up. And in those caravans you had some very bad actors. You had some people that were not people that we want in our country.

So I realized that when they -- in the middle of their city or towns, when you form a caravan, if a government is at all a government, they don't have to allow that caravan to come up. So if they're not going to play ball, that's OK with me. We're not going to play ball with them. We don't give them any more money. They've been ripping us off for years. I'm not a fan. So until they shape up -- now all of a sudden they came down supposedly with a supreme court ruling that they're not allowed to do a safe third agreement with us. Well, I sort of wonder what -- did it come down because they wanted that ruling to come down?

But we were giving them hundreds of millions of dollars like fools for years. And all they did is send us up a lot of people, caused a lot of problems and a lot of the people in those caravans were criminals. Hardened criminals. Dangerous people. And why not? Why would Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador, why would they keep their criminals when you can put them into the caravan, lose them in a caravan and send them up to the United States. We take everybody. Because the Democrats don't allow immigration laws that mean anything. It's horrible. It's horrible. How they aren't -- how they aren't taking care of just that one situation, which could be taken care of very easily, how they won't even give us a vote on that. We've had many interviews of the people in those caravans. Some of them are very bad players.

[13:20:01] You had interviews -- one of the folks that was perhaps in this room, I think might be in this room, said what was your crime? And the man said, murder. And the reporter looks at -- murder? That's a very famous clip. It's a -- well, what was your crime? You know, they were interviewing to show how wonderful the people are in the caravan.

And you, sir, what was your crime? Murder. The young woman goes, well, I'm surprised they didn't cut it. It must have been live otherwise you would have cut it. It must have been a live shot. But pretty famous shot. You have a lot of that. And so as far as those countries we were supposed to have a safe third, we didn't.

Now, Mexico, because of tariffs, but that doesn't matter because they've really been doing a job. They've only had one week in June, and June was down 28 percent. One week. Two thousand soldiers they started with, now they have 6,000 soldiers on their southern border. You know, they used to have like three soldiers. They had nobody. They wouldn't do it. For 45 years, 50 years, people have tried in the State Department, one of Mike's people said, the woman that we respect who's been in charge of Mexico for 20 years, she laughed when we said we were going to ask for these things. She said, they've been trying to get -- she was there for 20 years, but they've been trying to get it for 45 or 50 years, the things that I asked for. And they all laughed.

I got it done in one day. Because I said, if you don't do it, we're going to put tariffs on. And every car that comes through that used to be made in the United States, now Mexico has 30 percent of our car business, but that's not going to happen anymore. No more companies are going to leave because we have reasons that they can't leave anymore. There's just no reason for them to leave anymore. In fact, just the opposite, they're all coming back.

But now we have 21,000 soldiers, 6,000 on the Guatemala border, and -- which is, you know, obviously, that makes the safe third, John, much less important, you understand. It's very hard to get from Guatemala to the United States. And we'll have about 16,000 or so, maybe more, on our southern border. And we're using the Mexican immigration laws, because that's Mexico. And those laws say you can actually tell a person, I'm sorry, you can't come in, get out. Or they can take them back to a point of origin.

So we're doing very well, but we have no help whatsoever from the Democrats. Just the opposite. They want open borders. They obviously don't mind crime and drugs and human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem. And human trafficking mostly in women. And, you know, Democrats with their big wonderful hearts, human trafficking with women, where three, four, five women are put in the back of a van or the back of a car. And they go through areas where there will soon be wall but there's no wall right now because you can't obviously come through ports of entry. But we're really doing well on the border considering we have

absolutely no help from the Democrats. Not only no help, just the opposite. Now, we won a big lawsuit against Nancy Pelosi and Congress having to do with the wall. You saw that two weeks ago. But we also have one that we're appealing to the Supreme Court, I think it was just put into the Supreme Court And I hope we're going to be successful on that.

But we're building a lot of wall right now. But it's being met with force. There's no question about it. The Democrats are fighting us on a wall. So people can come through. But now what's happening with Mexico, 21,000 soldiers. We're hearing that even the cartels are saying, wow, this is hard to get through because the cartels were bringing tremendous numbers of people into our country, through diversion and other tactics, and money. So we're doing well on the border considering we have no help.

I think we're doing well even if we did have help. And I want to thank Mexico because they really have gone above and beyond. I think beyond, Mike, what we thought. We didn't ever expect 21,000 soldiers. We expected a smaller number than that. And, at the same time, they're helping themselves a lot because they were having a lot of crime. And the border was really -- the borders were run by the cartels and Mexico is taking back its country. And I give the president a tremendous amount of credit for that because that's been going on for a long time.

Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press. Thank you, guys. Thank you, press.

KEILAR: All right, President Trump there and -- talking about a number of things from Iran, where he was falsely representing some of the money -- or the money that went from the -- during the Obama administration to Iran, not exactly making the facts clear that this was money that was freed up, it had been frozen assets, so certainly leaving out a lot of context there.

[13:25:08] But talking about immigration as well, blaming Democrats for not getting anything done, saying -- quoting actually -- or he said that you had governments like Honduras and other northern triangle governments who were actually funneling criminals.

Actually, let's listen back in. There's more.

TRUMP: Said by the congresswomen that is so bad, so horrible, that I almost don't want to read it, it's so bad.

I think what you do is you have the same list that I do. You should repeat some of that.

When the Democrats didn't want to mention the name of the congresswoman, not so long ago, and what they did and the way they're treating Israel is a disgrace. But not only Israel, it's what they say about our country. It's my opinion they hate our country. And that's not good. It's not acceptable.

Thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press. OK, guys, thank you. Thank you, guys.

QUESTION: Mr. President, isn't it a core value to be able to criticize this country? Isn't that a (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, guys. Right this way. Thank you, press.

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right this way, guys, thank you.

KEILAR: All right, there is a lot to focus on and fact check in this, but let's focus on this continuing criticism that he has of four freshmen female lawmakers of color who he made a racist attack against on Twitter and is now trying to pivot away from. And he's really standing by certainly the situation and what he said. He has argued that he is not racist.

And what he just said was that, as his first comment said, they should leave and go back to the countries from which they came, even though three of them are from America and they're all citizens. He said they can leave, they can stay, it's up to them. They need to love our country. And he kept going back to saying that there were vile statements that all of these congresswomen have said.

This, of course, is not the issue. The issue has been in his tweet taking aim at them for what assumed to be that because they are of color, that they are not properly in America that -- in the way that someone who is not of color is.

I want to bring in CNN's Kaitlin Collins at the White House.

He's standing by his criticism, but he's also in something that is of note, Kaitlan, trying to pivot away from it. We see Republicans trying to zero in on socialism is really the target here, even though that's not what the president's initial tweet said. Here he's trying to say that they don't love America. He thinks that they hate the country. That's what he's saying about them.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And you're seeing just how much the president is digging in on that argument he's making to where even in this cabinet meeting that the president is having, he held up a packet of papers and said that those were clips of these congresswomen that the president has spent the last three days attacking. And he says they are, quote, vile statements that those women have made.

Now, he didn't read the statements to the reporters who were in the room while the cameras were in there. He said essentially basically the reporters could look them up themselves. But you're seeing the president trying to say, because of this feeling that he's been echoing on Twitter all morning is that he thinks they should be rebuked for the things they've said instead of the president being rebuked for something he has said, those racist attacks on those women, something that we know our Capitol Hill team has been following, and is a vote that's going to come up later today with Democrats being able to take that opportunity to go after the president. And it's going to be a test of what Republicans are going to say about the president's comments.

Now, the president was asked by reporters in the room where is he suggesting that these congresswomen should go, because, of course, as many have noted, three of them were born in the United States and one later became a United States citizen when she was a teenager. The president said, quote, go wherever they want or they can stay, but then he added that he wanted them to love the country. So he's repeating this statement that he's been saying that they need -- they do not love America, they need to love the country more, even though in that press conference they held yesterday, they said, that is not the problem and pushed back on the president's comments strongly.

Now, Brianna, what this is really all part of a bigger picture is the president and his allies trying to rebrand his racist attacks on them as attacks on things they have said, as the president was pointing out there, their policies and socialism in general, instead of focusing on what the president initially said, which is when he told these four congresswomen they need to go back to the places that they came from.

KEILAR: How do -- when you ask White House aides there about how he's approached this, I mean, what would they say to the suggestion that the president could have taken issue with the things that they've said and the opinions that they have held and the policies they hold without a racist attack? That's where the issue comes in.

COLLINS: Yes, and it depends on if you're asking them in front of cameras or behind cameras.


COLLINS: We've spoken to several officials behind the scenes who have said they do not stand by the president's comments. They do not think those were wise comments for the president to make. The comment about going back to the places they came from.

[13:30:08] But then when you hear from officials on camera.