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Congresswomen Fire Back as Trump Steps Up Racist Attacks; Kamala Harris Unveils Details of Prescription Drug Plan. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired July 16, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are people that hate our country.
[05:59:25] REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We love this country. What that means is that we propose the solutions to fix it.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): We are grateful for your support in the face of the most recent xenophobic, bigoted remarks from the occupant of our White House.
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): I don't think he's racist. I think he's an equal opportunity offender.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: They have no moral authority to talk about the border any more. They voted against aid.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MN): We cannot allow these hateful actions to distract us from the critical work to hold this administration accountable to the inhumane conditions at the border.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, July 16. It's 6 a.m. here in New York, and this morning we know a lot more about the president's racist attack on four members of Congress.
We know that it was not a mistake, that it is something he intends to lean on. We know that it has offended some members of his party. At least 19 Republicans have now criticized the remarks in some fashion.
But the party as a whole, and its leadership, is standing by the president, either in silence, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, or affirmation, like House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who actively defended the president.
We also know that House members of both parties may have a chance to go on the record today with a vote on a resolution condemning the president's statement. Will they take a stand? ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And the president is not letting up,
declaring that the four lawmakers hate America, and they can leave if they are not happy here.
There is irony there. This is the same president who won an election proclaiming that America is not great and then entered office with that inaugural speech in which he described American carnage.
It is clear the president will try to make those four Democratic congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party ahead of the 2020 election. The women are joining forces to denounce the president's words, calling the controversy, quote, "a distraction."
So we have a lot to cover. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He has our coverage live from the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Well, he is not backing down. It's a real reminder of what appears to be driving this president: racist remarks, reaffirming again and again political attacks, as well as personal attacks on the patriotism of his political opponents. And members of the president's own party, silence.
TRUMP: They hate it, I think, with a passion.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump unapologetic, defending his racist Twitter tirade aimed at four Democratic congresswomen of color, after telling them Sunday to "go back to help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came."
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 want.
JOHNS: All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens, and three of them -- Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib -- were born in the United States. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee moving to the U.S. as a child.
PRESSLEY: This is a distraction, and we should not take the bait.
JOHNS: The first-term progressives, known as The Squad, fighting back against the president's divisive words.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: He does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally. And that is what this is all about.
TLAIB: Sadly, this is not the first, nor will it be the last time, we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president. We know this is who he is.
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): This is the agenda of white nationalists, and now it's reached the White House garden.
JOHNS: Trump later intensifying his racist clash in another tweet storm, calling the congresswomen anti-American, and falsely insinuating Representative Omar, without mentioning her name, is "pro- al Qaeda."
As few as 19 Republicans in Congress denounced President Trump's comments.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): I think those tweets are racist and xenophobic. They're also inaccurate.
JOHNS: But most falling short of directly calling Trump's statements racist.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-AZ): What was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying and, frankly, it was very wrong.
JOHNS: Other GOP lawmakers backing the president's rhetoric.
CRAMER: I don't think he's racist. I think he's an equal opportunity offender. And I think any -- I think from time to time, some people think that they're special because they got offended by him.
JOHNS: President Trump also going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, misrepresenting her Sunday tweet where he wrote, "Trump's mission is making America white again."
TRUMP: Let me tell you, that's a very racist -- that's a very racist statement. I'm surprised she'd say that.
JOHNS: House Democrats introducing a resolution strongly condemning President Trump.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): I'm not asking you, I'm begging you to stop this, please.
JOHNS: Now, the House is expected to vote on a resolution today, so we'll see where everybody stands on the president's tweet.
The top Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, yesterday defended the president's statements every step of the way. He says this isn't a disagreement about racism. It's a disagreement about socialism.
Back to you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Joe.
So we have a lot to talk about. Let's bring in April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. Bill Kristol is with us, director of Defending Democracy Together. And Aisha Moodie-Mills. She is a Democratic strategist. Great to have all of you this morning. [06:05:00] So today, Nancy Pelosi is trying to force a vote to get
people on the record in perpetuity as to whether or not they stand by the president's remarks.
Aisha, this will be interesting to see how -- if Republicans are willing to go on the record condemning it or whether or not we hear, as we did from, as Joe just said, Kevin McCarthy, where they try to redirect; they try to claim this isn't about racism. This is really about those women. That's what you hear, I think, lots of Republicans starting to try to kind of -- I don't know -- run cover, I guess, from the president's remarks.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, but isn't -- That's what's problematic in the first place, right, is the fact that Republicans are constantly trying to run cover for the fact that the president is not only racist; he's a bigot.
But he is completely un-American. He is behaving like a fascist. And that's what they need to be most concerned about. The fact that this president wants to silence anyone who has critique of this nation, when democracy is fundamentally based on the fact that we have the opportunity to critique our country, is utmost the most problematic thing, I think, that is coming out of this White House and this administration. And the fact that Republicans are completely silent and mute about it, and the fact that the president wants to behave like a dictator --
CAMEROTA: Not -- I mean, we have heard --
MOODIE-MILLS: -- is problematic.
CAMEROTA: We heard from 19 of them. Nineteen of them came forward.
BERMAN: So far.
CAMEROTA: With some -- some more lukewarm than others. But 19 did come forward to condemn it on some level.
MOODIE-MILLS: I mean, 19 out of the entire caucus? Right? We are in a place where literally these are perilous times, I believe, where you have the president of the United States, who believes that he is a dictator, who wants to -- to bring out the military and show some strength and force that is about him, and promoting white supremacy.
And to have the entire Republican caucus not up in arms about what is happening to our democracy is, in and of itself, problematic. And we need to be watching this vote today and hold folks accountable, come to the ballot box in 2020, for how they behave, what they say and what they don't.
BERMAN: That's what Nancy Pelosi is clearly trying to do, is to hold them accountable with their vote.
And April, there is some irony and strategy here from the president. Right? The irony is, is that he thinks that anyone who criticizes America now, when he's president, should leave. However, he came to office by saying America is not great. He entered
office by decrying American carnage, but now when anyone else questions whether or not America is perfect, they should leave.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. It's a "Do as I say, not as I do" mentality and mindset.
You know, John, here's the big thing for me. I keep thinking about what the president tweeted and what he said yesterday.
Now, I'm going back to the Fourth of July, that grand, hopeful, soaring speech that the president gave. And at the very beginning of the speech, he -- he hearkened the names of Martin Luther King. He talked about Harriet Tubman, and he invoked the name of those four young men who sat in at the Greensboro lunch counter, all people who were looking to make America better. The dream of inclusion and equality.
And yet, you -- he talks about them, and they protested peace -- well, Martin Luther King and the four young men at the Greensboro Woolworths counter protested peacefully. Harriet Tubman freed slaves, took -- took the wealth off of the land of these white plantation owners, taking them to freedom. These people changed this nation for the good.
And now, the president is talking about people who are saying that they don't like certain things about this nation. And yet, they are unpatriotic. They're communist. I mean, they even called Dr. King a communist when he was trying to -- to bring the best of America out of America.
So this president is contradictory in what he's saying at a time that he's trying to go back and galvanize that -- that certain sector of America that does not want race on the table and does not want equality, and believes that they are better than the other.
CAMEROTA: Bill, what do you think about the situation Republicans find themselves in this morning?
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I mean, I think it's very important. One reason I've been so sort of upset over the last 48 hours, George Conway, my friend, has a powerful op-ed in "The Washington Post" today, similarly. The Republicans need to step up for the sake of the country. It's really important.
If you look at the history of past demagogues and how they've been checked, or at least the damage they've been done has mitigated. It was often members of their own party, people coming from the same part of the political spectrum who had -- were most effective in helping to stop them.
Obviously, Democrats should criticize the president. They're entitled to. At the end of the day, an awful lot of voters look at that and say, "Well, that's just partisan politics."
Joe McCarthy was stopped when Republicans finally said, "Enough." [06:10:01] George Wallace, the most effective opponents of George
Wallace probably, in some ways, were southerners, white southerners, actually, who said, "No, no, no. We've got to not go down this path of rabble rousing and demagoguery and reaction."
And Pat Buchanan, George W. Bush sort of helped expel him from the Republican Party in 1999, 2000. And other Republicans -- and I was one, I guess -- you know, fought against him.
So I think it's really important, if you think this is really dangerous what Trump is doing, and I think it undoubtedly is, really a kind of divisive and bigoted demagoguery that really could do serious damage to the country, and to our politics, to our society, it's very important the Republicans step up.
So I hope, if they're watching right now, they -- you know, it's a little tough vote for them to take politically. But I hope that more than just a handful do the right thing today on the House floor.
BERMAN: You know, Bill, I've heard you criticize the president before. What I haven't heard in quite such strong terms is for you to criticize other Republicans. Because you overnight said, "The many wannabe demagogues, desperately trying to curry favor by lamely echoing their most great and vulgar leader, they're more odious," you said, "than the president himself." There are a lot of big words there that weren't very nice.
KRISTOL: Yes. I'd just read a couple comments and tweets by House Republicans, like, pathetically trying to sort of suck up to the president or the president's followers by sort of trying to echo him.
It's one thing, look, if you want to be timid and cowardly and stay silent, I guess stay silent. It's not the most admirable thing in the world; it's not, at least, increasing the damage. But going out there and pretending that what the president said is just fine, that that's -- that it's just appropriate to say that kind of thing?
And again, these are members of the House saying it about other members of the House. I mean, it's one -- it's no better, in a way, if the president attacks other individuals, you know, out there: sports athletes or others. They're all Americans; they don't deserve these kinds of attacks. But, you know, the House of representatives has some obligation to defend its own people, just as other institutions, the news media will defend journalists who are -- who are under attack. Right?
So I think even if you're a Republican, first of all, you're a representative. You're an elected representative of the United States of America, as are the four people whom Trump attacked. And in that respect, Republican members of Congress have a special obligation, I think, to step up now.
CAMEROTA: And so Aisha, do you think -- I mean, what I hear Kevin McCarthy and Senator Lindsey Graham doing is, as I said, redirecting, so trying to get away from the racist comments that President Trump said and trying to say, "Well, these women are socialists. That's what people should be upset about. That's what the president should be talking about. They're socialists."
Do you think the Democrats are making a mistake, tactically, because you're a strategist, of allowing themselves to be branded as socialists, not coming up with some sort of new name? Do you think that -- that they're winning, that Republicans are winning in that kind of branding exercise?
MOODIE-MILLS: I think that anytime your strategy is to name call, to be racist, to use dog whistles, but now under Donald Trump, to just overtly say what's on your heart and mind, about how you can't stand and hate people based on virtually nothing but difference. I think that that's always easy. It's always easy to play that game.
It is a difficult challenge, and I think the Democrats are doing a poor job at it, and frankly, you know, let's be real. My people have always been worse at messaging than Republicans but largely because of what I said, because it's easy to just be nasty and spiteful.
But yes, I think that there is an opportunity for the Democrats to do better at talking about what they stand for, what they believe in, and the inclusion and the diversity and this beautiful nation that is America and that all of us are a part of that.
And I think that, if the Democrats do a better job at really appealing to people and are better angels.
Remember, Obama got into office because he was aspirational, and he reminded us of who we aspire to be. This current president is taking us backwards to a regressive time that we don't ever want to see again. And I think the Democrats have an opportunity to remind Americans about that, that frankly, they are missing the mark a little bit in these nuanced policy conversations. I think some of that aspiration and inspiration might be falling -- falling back.
BERMAN: April, very quickly. You know, it's only Tuesday. What does the rest of this week hold in the White House, is this Division Week instead of Infrastructure Week? Because the president is really leaning in on this. Is this now the message?
RYAN: This is the message. This is the message. You're going to either see a rallying cry to support the president in a way that doesn't necessarily put the racial piece out there, but it's going to be something where they still stand by the president.
Look at it. I mean, these Republicans realize that the president is flawed, but they stand by him, no matter what. Because he's this president that's changing the Supreme Court. He could be changing Roe v. Wade. He's also changing so many issues on the table: from guns to anything that they hold high and dear.
So this week they're going to rally around him. They may condemn the wording, but they will still rally around him.
And it's interesting. I want to see how this plays out with the Republicans as the president still has left open the idea to next week, on the 24th, to possibly go to Detroit and address the NAACP, taking questions in the presidential forum at the NAACP. So we'll see how this all plays out this week and next week.
CAMEROTA: OK. April, Aisha, Bill, thank you very much for all of your perspectives.
And we should let the viewers know, stick around, because in our next hour, we are going to speak with Tim Alberta. He's the author of this new book that's getting so much attention called "American Carnage," taken from the inaugural address. And the book examines President Trump's takeover, as he describes it, of the Republican Party, and he brings us perspective on how we got here and what we're seeing on Capitol Hill.
BERMAN: This week is the answer to every question raised in Tim's book. It's as if he knew this was coming, and it came out in this week. And it's really unbelievable.
CAMEROTA: It is here.
BERMAN: All right. But first, presidential contender Senator Kamala Harris had murky answers on healthcare, but moments ago she unveiled added a new plan in advance of the CNN debates. We're digging through the details, and we'll bring them to you next.
CAMEROTA: OK, we do have some breaking news. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has just released the details of her plan to lower prices on prescription drugs.
And CNN's Jessica Dean is here with the details.
What are you seeing, Jessica?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Alisyn.
Yes, this is the week of health care when it comes to the 2020 candidates. Kamala Harris out this morning with this policy proposal aimed at big pharma and prescription drug prices and lowering those prices.
So what's in the policy? Let's get into it right now.
This policy would set price limits on prescription drugs. It also taxes any pharmaceutical company's profit from overcharging at 100 percent.
Additionally, it's going to allow to import lower cost drug alternatives and gives the Department of Justice more oversight of price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.
Now, this is something that Kamala Harris did as attorney general, this is -- of California. This was an area where she did a lot of work as attorney general and has done work also in her time as a senator. And you see there, very focused on prescription drugs. What we aren't hearing about this morning is Medicare for all. Her campaign has kind of equivocated on where she comes down on exactly on that proposal. We expect to hear more about that in the days and weeks to come.
But this one very, you know, in a niche, very focused on the prescription drug costs, lowering that. She's going to talk more about that in Iowa today as she talks to people there.
But again, Health Care Week for the 2020 candidates. We're supposed to hear more from Bernie Sanders tomorrow on Medicare for all, as well, guys.
BERMAN: Health Care Week is months long, maybe years long --
DEAN: It's forever.
BERMAN: -- in this presidential candidate. Jessica Dean, thank you very much.
Joining us now is Jess McIntosh, former director of communications and outreach for the Hillary Clinton; and Alex Burns, national political correspondent for "The New York Times."
A couple interesting things about this. No. 1, by focusing on prescription drugs, that targets seniors, I think, to a large extent. It's a large concern for seniors, and those are voters that right now are lining up behind Joe Biden. That's very interesting.
And also, just deciding to get in with both feet to this healthcare discussion. Two weeks to the day before the CNN.
CAMEROTA: You sure?
BERMAN: Two weeks to the day before the CNN debate.
CAMEROTA: Are you sure?
BERMAN: I was maybe getting it wrong yesterday. It is interesting, Alex.
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is, and it also gives her a space to talk about health care, where she's not playing on turf essentially chosen by Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. Right?
That if you are talking about Medicare for all, whether you're for it or against it, you are essentially have a Bernie Sanders debate. If you are talking about an issue that is deeply relevant to healthcare, but is not about whether or not we ought to have a Canadian-style healthcare system, you do have some space to sort of set your own agenda, define yourself in the eyes of voters.
I don't know that it ultimately gets you away from the Medicare for all issue for very long, but it does create some space.
CAMEROTA: Because Kamala Harris has had a bit of a muddled message in terms of her healthcare plan. She has seemed to say different things at different times. But do you see the distinctions emerging now between the Democrats that voters will be able to grasp onto?
JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, I think so. You see -- you see Kamala supporting, along with most of the Democratic field, a Medicare for all that includes some sort of private insurance option. You see Elizabeth and Bernie supporting a true Medicare for all that does not.
This is really smart for her to get in on prescription drugs. Literally nobody in the country is excited about prescription drug companies and how they handle American pricing. So for her to decide that this is the issue she wants to jump in on for health care simply makes sense.
She's got this 3 a.m. agenda. Prescription drug costs absolutely fit into that. So I think it's -- it's smart of her to be able to reframe the debate away, as Alex said, from Medicare for all or not. Because the healthcare question is actually larger than that.
BERMAN: You know who likes the discussion right now of Medicare for all or not? Joe Biden. He is using it as a wedge, a policy wedge with Bernie Sanders. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the appeal of Medicare for all. But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare, and I'm not for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: What do you see there, Alex?
BURNS: I see Joe Biden actually stepping into the -- not centrist but center left space in this race that he was expected to occupy all along.
One of the things that was so striking in that first debate and that, in my reporting, supporters of Joe Biden were really disappointed by was that he didn't sort of stake his ground as, "Yes, I am the more moderate guy on this stage," and now you're seeing him do it. It's a little bit late, but as John mentioned, there is another event coming up.
[06:25:13] BERMAN: Two weeks from today.
BURNS: Two weeks from today where he will have the opportunity to do that. It does give him the opportunity to, you know, really claim a faction of the party as his own, not just sort of continue coasting on, you know, name I.D. and good feelings held over from the Obama years.
MCINTOSH: The risk that he has here, thought, is that he comes dangerously close to using Republican talking points when talking about Medicare for all. There was a lot of "Medicare as you know it will go away. Seniors will be left with nothing." That sounds suspiciously like Donald Trump.
And as long as Biden is trying to appeal to the Democratic base during the primary, they're not going to like him engaging with this topic using that kind of language.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, let's pull up the second quarter fundraising for the Democrats. It's just out, and I think the headline is that Beto O'Rourke has underperformed from, I guess, what his campaign expected. So he brought in 3.6 million. And that's just notable, because he was known as such an impressive fundraiser, certainly, during the Senate race against Ted Cruz.
And this can't all be because of the "Vanity Fair" cover. I mean, it really cannot be. So what else is happening?
BURNS: Look, I think it shows you, one of the -- one of the sort of foundational assumptions about that campaign was that he had this huge small donor base from his Senate list, and it would just keep on giving and giving. And we see that that's not the case.
I will say that, for me, what stands out about the second quarter fundraising numbers is that two candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have not held a single fundraiser between the two of them, have as much cash in the bank at the end of the quarter as three candidates -- Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris -- who have been working major donors aggressively. It's about $47 million for the first two, $47 million for the second group. That tells you something really profound about the way the money game has changed.
BERMAN: That is really interesting. Small dollars, to be sure. And by the way, the dog maxed out in the "Vanity Fair" cover. That's the issue. That is why Beto O'Rourke didn't raise the money, because the dog maxed out. It's that simple.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for that subtext. Thank you, guys, for the conversation.
All right. Up next, we do have some breaking news from North Korea. North Korea hinting that it may start testing missiles again. And taking on U.S. leaders. The statement that is getting the world's attention, next.