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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Responding To Repeated Attacks By President Trump; Former U.S. Representative Walsh Believes Trump's Racist Attack Should Be Last Straw For The GOP; New Details About Stormy Daniels Hush Money Payment. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 13:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters and we start with a freshman Congresswoman fighting back now. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar responding to repeated attacks by President Trump, the President's defenders on Capitol Hill and the President's supporters at a rally in North Carolina who chanted "send her back." Here is that moment from last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: (Chanting "Send her back.").


KEILAR: No attempts by the President to quiet the crowd. The President telling reporters he is enjoying the fight against Ilhan Omar and three other Congresswomen of color, which he started on Sunday, when he told all of them to go back to their home countries, even though three of them are from America, and that that phrase is a racist trope.

But those chants and his most vile comments were aimed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and here's what she said just moments ago.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): We have said this President is racist. We have condemned his racist remarks. I believe he is fascist. I want to remind people that this is what this President and his supporters have taught our country that is supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place, and so this is not about me, this is about us fighting for what this country truly should be.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I think the President put millions of Americans in danger last night. His rhetoric is endangering lots of people. This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment.


KEILAR: Julie Hirschfeld Davis is a congressional correspondent for "The New York Times" and she's joining us now and it seems like "send her back" is the new "lock her up." Only this -- this is not just inappropriate, this is racist.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. I mean, it's clearly playing off of what the President himself tweeted over the weekend, this idea of go back to their countries.

Ilhan Omar is the only one of those four who was actually not born in the United States, but they're all American citizens. And he clearly, you know, expressed that view and then his supporters really seemed to take it and run with it last night.

And it is something that a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill are saying today that they are -- you know, very uncomfortable with. They're really trying to distance themselves from that chant. But interestingly, they're still not criticizing the President. They're not saying that he's in any way responsible for those statements which are clearly again playing off of what he is putting out there on his Twitter feed and in his public statements.

KEILAR: It's important to note that when you look at this last night, his comments about them were scripted. They were in the teleprompter. He is trying to capitalize on this.

DAVIS: Absolutely. And what Republicans are trying to do is sort of split hairs and make a distinction between what he is saying about Representative Omar's policy positions, things that she said about the United States, things that she said about Israel that she has said, you know, she regrets and anything racist or xenophobic.

But clearly, that was not a distinction he made in the original tweet. It's not a distinction he has been careful about, and there's a real sense that he is deliberately sort of clouding the lines here and trying to stoke this fire of real hostility in his crowds toward these women of color.

KEILAR: Ilhan Omar has -- I mean, the scrutiny that her tweets have gotten, she's gotten a lot. They've not been received warmly because she has traffic in anti-Semitic tropes, but hearing him say, she's trapped -- these are vile expressions of hers. I think it's important to point out, he has trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes as a candidate.

I remember him tweeting out, it was a dollar bill with Hillary Clinton's face on it and had the Star of David on it. They tried to say it was a share of six-point star, but it was pretty clear he was trafficking in the same trope that she was.

[13:05:06] DAVIS: Right. Absolutely. And the point that he has tried to make about these four Congresswoman is that, you know, he says they hate America. He says, they've -- you know, hit on the country and said, you know, brutal things about the country that are ugly and vile.

He himself campaigned on some pretty tough things that he was saying about the country and all of the failures that had happened in this country. He compared the United States to Russia. I mean, you know, there's been a long history of him actually, sort of casting doubt on American exceptionalism.

So, it's interesting to see him now take that and cast it on them and say, that's the reason he is attacking them. It doesn't have to do with their race or anything else. It just has to do with not liking America.

KEILAR: Depending on who Democrats put up as a nominee, this argument about socialism might be difficult for him to make. But there are certainly some candidates to the left, where the President could do that. He could take this idea of socialism, which he has tried to contort his argument with these women into.

And if that's the case, and it's an argument -- actually, let's listen now. This is President Trump. We just turned this tape in.


TRUMP: Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. It really was a loud -- I disagree with it, by the way, but it was quite a chant and I felt a little bit badly about it.

But I will say this, I did -- and I started speaking very quickly, but it started up rather, rather fast, as you probably noticed.

QUESTION: So you'll tell your supporters never to say it again.

TRUMP: Well, I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But again, I didn't say -- I didn't say that, they did. But I disagree with it.

QUESTION: But they were echoing what you said in your first tweet that they should go back.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think if you examine it, I don't think you'll find that, but I disagree with it. Anybody else?

QUESTION: Why did you decline the NAACP's invitation to be part of the presidential forum?

TRUMP: Because we had a date set and then they wanted to change the date and they wanted to do it in the form of an interview. I had agreed to make a speech. I would have loved to have made a speech to the NAACP.

We have, as you know, record unemployment numbers, the lowest in the history of our country. We have the poverty numbers. It's a poverty scale, and the African-Americans doing the best that they've ever done in the history of our country. It is something to be very proud of. I mean, really proud of. I was going over with Mike before some of the numbers having to do

with the African-American community. It's the best numbers we've ever had. I very much wanted to go. But we had a date, the date got changed. And unfortunately, they wanted to do it in the form of a question and answer. I think you were going to be possibly the person asking the question.

QUESTION: I am the moderator.

TRUMP: Yes, I mean, so maybe you could answer the question better than me. Yes. Go ahead, please?

QUESTION: Mr. President, did you appoint Senator Rand Paul as your emissary to Iran (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: No, I don't know anything about that, other than I have spoken to Senator Paul and Senator Paul is somebody I have a very good relationship with. And I would listen to him, but I didn't appoint him, no. When did this come up?

QUESTION: Yesterday or the day before.

TRUMP: Yes. No, he is somebody that I listen to. I respect Senator Paul and if he had some ideas, I'd listen. I will say that Iran is a much different country right now when I took over and Mike and I came into office. Iran was the scourge of the world. They were doing 14 different sites of confliction.

They were fighting and causing problems in Yemen, and Syria and Iraq and all over. It's a much different country right now. You look at what's happening, you look at them pulling back and they're not pulling back because they love us. They're pulling back because they don't have money. They're being hurt very badly by sanctions.

And I hope that doesn't happen for long because I hope they're able to strengthen that. It can happen very quickly, but if you look at the original President Obama deal, it was a disaster from many standpoints.

But almost -- most importantly, because it was going to be ending very shortly, you know, it's a very short term deal. You can't have a short term deal for a country, you need a hundred-year deal. You don't need a short term.

In a few years, literally in a few years, they would be on their way to a nuclear weapon. That's unacceptable. Plus, they can't do ballistic missiles and the deal allows them to do ballistic missiles. And we have to look at other sites.

The best -- the most important sites, we were not allowed to go and look at. What kind of a deal is that? And other things and many other things.

So Iran is not the same country. They have inflation now at 75 percent. They're having tremendous problems within the country. They're selling very little oil. We have an embargo. We have a stop on oil. Even the European countries are now agreeing with me. You see they're coming over and they're coming over very strong.

It's very sad, what happened to Iran. All we want to do is have a fair deal. The deal that was made was a bad deal. It was not approved by Congress, lot of problems with the deal that was made.

And we can do something quickly or we can take our time. I'm in no rush. I'm in no rush.

[13:10:04] QUESTION: Mr. President, are you concerned with your supporters changing, you know, "send her back" to Senator Omar, (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, I have tremendous support. And I wasn't happy with that message that they gave last night. But that was a packed arena, we could have sold that arena. We could have sold 10 of those arenas last night. There were tremendous numbers of people that couldn't get in. We had outside, thousands and thousands of people. And we had thousands and thousands of people that wanted to come, and we said, "Please don't come." It held 10,000 people. It was packed.

We could have sold that arena 10 times. There is tremendous support for the Republican Party, there is tremendous support for this team, for the President, for the Vice President. We have tremendous support, maybe like nobody has seen in a long time. It is great energy.

I say there is far more energy on the right than there is on the left, and then I hear about the left, all I see is the left is fighting all over the place. I think we have far more support than they do. And I think we have far more energy than they do.

And we're going to have a very interesting election. But I was not happy when I heard that chant. Thank you, everyone. Thank you very much everybody.

QUESTION: Mr. President, why did you encourage them? Why did they do it?

TRUMP: You'd have to ask them. You'd have to ask them, John. What I would suggest -- I was not happy with it. But what I would suggest, you go there, go to North Carolina. And you ask the people, why did they say that? But that's what they said. That's what they did.

QUESTION: Will you stop them if they tried to do it again?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't like that they did it. And I started speaking very quickly. I could have -- I could have stood back. Excuse me. Well, really, if you would have heard, there was a tremendous amount of noise and action and everything else.

I started very quickly, and I think you know that. I know you -- maybe you're giving me too much credit. You're used to giving me too much credit. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.

QUESTION: The next --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very, very much.

TRUMP: I will try. I would certainly try.



KEILAR: All right, the President there is lying about how he responded to this "send her back" chant in North Carolina last night. He said that he spoke quickly after it began. Actually, he waited several seconds. We have the tape. Let's watch.


TRUMP: And obviously and, importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: (Chanting "Send her back.")


KEILAR: Thirteen seconds. That is not speaking quickly. He also said that he was not happy with it. I want to bring back Julie Hirschfeld Davis to discuss this.

All right, he can speak to his own emotions, you can certainly have an opinion about whether the way he behaved was indicative of him being unhappy with it. But you can't argue with the fact that he really opened up the floor for this chant to take over the rally.

DAVIS: I mean, the body language was not that as someone who was trying to shut something down or you know, pick up where he left off. He -- I think, and you've seen him do this before at rallies when he always did it when they would chant, "lock her up." He sort of steps back and gives it a chance to breathe.

Because you know, in many ways, these are sort of entertainment events in his mind. And he enjoys the back and forth, but he clearly was doing that. It seems very clear that at the very least in the moment, he was not trying to stop it now. Now, maybe upon reflection, he wishes he had, but that was not sort of his behavior.

And he is right. The crowd was very loud and he seemed to really revel in their enthusiasm.

KEILAR: So, he had at one point tried to pivot away from the idea of saying send -- go back to the country from which you came. And he was trying -- and so are Republicans to say that this is about the bad things these Congresswomen have said in their views and about the fact that they are very liberal.

He has tried to brand them socialist. He has tried to tie the Democratic Party to them, and that politically was something that worked, I think, better for him. And many observers think that worked better for him. So it is part of the reason why he is now saying he is not happy that

they said this and lying about whether he let this take over the rally, because he's hearing from other people around him who are saying, "Sir, you went back to the part you weren't supposed to go back to."

DAVIS: Well, yes. I mean, I think -- you know, I talked to a couple of senior Republicans today and they have expressed in no uncertain terms that they do not like -- they did not like this chant. They thought it was awful. They don't want to be associated with this. They don't want the party associated with that kind of sentiment, but they're not criticizing him directly.

So what they're doing I think, is trying to gently prod him toward walking back from this precipice. Focus on socialism, they say. You know, focus on all these other themes, these policy themes. Bring up how some of these women have made anti-Semitic statements and you know, really hammer them for that, but don't go there in terms of a chant that could be seen -- it was clearly seen as so racist and so xenophobic and so just completely ugly and a couple of them called it un-American.

[13:15:19] DAVIS: They clearly are not comfortable with being there. And Mark Walker, a Congressman from North Carolina, who tweeted after the rally and really criticized or said he had struggled with that moment, said, you know, we can't let "send her back" become the new "lock her up." And he told the Vice President that this morning, so I think that's going to be a big factor going forward.

KEILAR: All right Julie, let's bring in Abby Philip, who is at the White House for us. Abby, you have been watching this. Sorry, here we go -- this camera. Abby, you've been watching this. The President clearly misrepresenting what happened. What are you hearing from your sources about what the President is trying to do here?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not like he is trying to distance himself from the chant based on the pushback that he is getting from fellow Republicans, many of whom today didn't really want to even talk about what happened last night. And those that did disavowed the chance.

So President Trump, even though he really gave his supporters the fuel for this chant by sending those tweets over the weekend, that said, they should go back to the countries from which they came. Those were President Trump's words that his supporters then repeated back to him essentially last night.

This is something we've seen from the President before, when the "lock her up" chant started in the 2016 campaign. He tried to distance himself from those, too, until they became part of the foundation of his rallies. They are now omnipresent at every, every single rally. We still hear "lock her up" chants.

It will be interesting to see if that is what becomes of this new chant that popped up last night. But clearly President Trump is sensitive to some of this pushback that he is getting. But Brianna, you've noted, not only did he stand there for 12 to 13 seconds as they chanted, but they got that chant from his tweet that was sent over the weekend.

The President's campaign is now trying to change the topic to a campaign strategy of framing the Democratic Party as being supporters of the squad, but this all started with the President's tweet and the President's words "go back."

KEILAR: Yes, I guess maybe his supporters did not get the message about the pivot. Abby Phillip at the White House. Thank you so much.

A former Republican lawmaker says Trump's racist tweets that triggered all of this should be the GOP's last straw, but it won't be. Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh writes in "The Washington Post," quote, "In a world where more Republicans still sincerely thought of our party as the Party of Lincoln condemning the President's words should have been a no-brainer, and in theory should have been the tipping point where Republicans started hopping off the Trump bandwagon. Republican voters aren't going anywhere though, because they don't care."

Joe Walsh is joining us now to discuss this. Why do you think that Republican voters don't care?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Hey, Brianna. Good to be with you. Because they're so angry. It is their anger that got Trump elected. So it's the weirdest thing. They don't give a damn what he does. They don't care what he does. They don't care what he says.

On my radio show, I hear from listeners all the time. You just played the President there a minute ago, and you're right, he lied about what he did in North Carolina last night. This is on him.

But when I tell my listeners that, Brianna, my listeners will say and these are Trump supporters, "I don't care that he lies. I hate the Democrats." They don't care that he lies almost every single time he opens his mouth, because he is so angry. And you get what you got last night.

That was -- it made me as a former Republican Member of Congress, it made me profoundly sad that the standard bearer of the Republican Party, my party is making "send her back" his campaign rallying cry. It's ugly, it's racist, it's anti-American, and it ought to be denounced.

And Brianna, it should have been denounced by the President last night, but he's not capable of it.

KEILAR: And they're not announcing it. So when you look at this, in your assessment, how much of Republicans not admitting that the President's clearly racist remarks and actions are racist, is that they don't want to suffer his ire. How much is it that it's because they don't want to lose Republican voters support? How much is this solution aversion that if they admit it, they might have to actually do something about it? What do you think? WALSH: Well, I can tell you, Brianna, that all of my former

Republican colleagues up in Congress, they agree with what I'm saying to you publicly right now.

KEILAR: They agree privately.

WALSH: That is despicable.

KEILAR: They agree privately that what you are saying publicly.

WALSH: Absolutely. They can't stand what the President has unleashed -- this big bowl of ugly. They know -- they know privately, Brianna, that if "send her back" is the rally cry for 2020, Trump is going to lose and the Republicans are going to lose.

[13:20:21] WALSH: And I had to crack up your congressional correspondent earlier, who said that privately, these Republicans are uncomfortable with what the President did last night and uncomfortable with the chant privately. Bull crap. I'm being privately uncomfortable. I'm sick of the private stuff.

These Republicans have got to get the courage to stand up publicly and denounce this, and if my former colleagues, Brianna -- I get worked up about this -- if they don't strongly publicly denounce this un- American crap, Republicans are going to get wiped out in 2020.

KEILAR: So do you think President Trump will be reelected? It sounds like you're saying no.

WALSH: Well, I think he has made the determination, Brianna that he can only get his 35 percent all riled up and ginned up. He didn't get any new votes last night. He is hell bent on dividing this country. He wants his "send her back" people behind him and that's all he wants.

KEILAR: Do you think -- that's my question, though -- do you think it works? Do you think that he --


KEILAR: You do not think that this works for reelection?

WALSH: No, I will say this Brianna, again, loud and clear. And I hope all my Republican colleagues are listening. If "send her back" and this ugly, anti-American racist thing that the President has unleashed, if this becomes their campaign to rally his base, Trump is going to lose.

He can't win with just his base. He will lose and the Republicans will lose and you know what, Brianna? They will deserve to lose.

KEILAR: Joe Walsh, thank you so much.

WALSH: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have breaking news in the investigation of this hush money payments involving Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress. Hear how the President and his team tried to cover up this scandal. New details on that.

Plus tonight, CNN is holding a live drawing to see which candidates, which Democratic candidates will be paired in our next debate. We're going to show you how this works.


[13:27:17] KEILAR: We're now learning more about how the President tried to silence his alleged mistress, Stormy Daniels and who was involved in this.

A judge has just unsealed search warrant materials connected to the Michael Cohen case, and they show that during the 2016 election, in the hours following the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape as Trump's candidacy faced near ruin, there were a flurry of phone calls about the former adult film star and director going public with her alleged affair with Trump.

These are phone calls that prove he was aware of the payoff long before he said this in 2018.


QUESTION: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000.00 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No.

QUESTION: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

QUESTION: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know.


KEILAR: So we now know that that is a verifiable lie. And here with me now to discuss the CNN's Kara Scannell and former Federal prosecutor Joseph Marino.

Kara, you've been doing this reporting. Tell us about these phone calls?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, these phone calls that are detailed in this affidavit supporting the application for a search warrant. This is based on records that the FBI had obtained showing that there were these communications.

So, just so when you compare it to Donald Trump's statement there, you really see that these are phone statements. These are records that shows that they were these communications and what it told us was that the day after the "Access Hollywood" tape was public, there was this mad scramble in the Trump campaign.

There's a phone call between Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks, his communication strategist then, you know, and they were trying to get a handle of all this negative information at the time. The FBI says that they believe that these phone calls were all discussing Stormy Daniels.

Then you see Michael Cohen acting as the middleman in this where he is then on the phone with the American media publisher, David Pecker, and Dylan Howard of the "National Enquirer." You know, there's all these back and forth, at least 10 telephone calls and then it ends that day with a text message exchange from Dylan Howard telling Michael Cohen, "You know, Keith has agreed to this," and Keith being Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels's attorney.

Now what we've also learned from these documents is that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen spoke at least two times the morning and even 30 minutes before Cohen began the process of wiring that $130,000.00 payment to Stormy Daniels. They also spoke again two days later when they were finalizing the paperwork.

So, you see Donald Trump, for the first time actually identified by name by prosecutors and government officials in this and then also seeing his actual constant communication and involvement throughout this process to Michael Cohen.

By contrast, the FBI affidavit said that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump had spoken maybe once a month, the previous several months before that.