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Police Fire Tear Gas at Protestors Demanding Puerto Rico Governor Resign; Trump Slams Dem Congresswomen, Crowd Chants 'Send Her Back'; Dangerous Heat Wave Scorches More Than Half the U.S.; CNN to Hold Live Democratic Debate Drawing Tonight; Sen. Rand Paul Blocks Bill to Boost 9/11 First Responders Fund. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A standoff between protesters and police blocking the governor's mansion.

[05:59:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be out here until he resigns.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Send her back," it sent shivers down my spine. It's such ugliness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of what he does is intuitive. He thinks this will work for him.


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 Thursday, July 18, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we do begin with two important breaking stories.

Overnight, there was a single moment where it became crystal-clear that the president's racist tweets about four Democratic members of Congress, they were no accident. That they were features, not a bug, of his 2020 reelection strategy.

It happened at a rally in North Carolina. His most pointed words were for Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, which led to this indelible display.


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: They were chanting "send her back," in case you couldn't hear it. Similar to "lock her up." We'll talk about that.

Also developing this morning, tensions are escalating in Puerto Rico as police fire tear gas at protesters after some of the protestors broke through a barricade at the governor's mansion, demanding that he resign.

The outrage on the island has erupted over alleged corruption and Governor Ricardo Rossello's administration, and these leaked private chats between the governor and his advisors that include profanity, homophobic and misogynistic messages.

So let's begin with CNN's Leyla Santiago. She is live in San Juan with the latest. What's the situation at this hour, Leyla?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Alisyn, the cleanup is underway here in the streets of old San Juan. You can see behind me police are still standing in front of La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.

But you can also see what was left of that protest. A broken-down barrier. And on the walls of the streets of San Juan, you still see the frustrations in the graffiti that the protesters left behind.

This as the calls for the governor's resignation are growing.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): A tense standoff in Puerto Rico's capital escalating to a clash between police in riot gear, firing tear gas into crowds. Thousands of protesters taking to the streets of San Juan late into the night, demanding the island's governor resign.

Marching for a fifth day, chanting, "Ricky resign," a direct message to Governor Ricardo Rossello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be out here until he resigns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're tired of the abuse of so many years of corruption.

SANTIAGO: Rossello is under intense scrutiny after Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism uncovered nearly 900 pages of a leaked private group chat between the governor and his inner circle. They include violent and misogynistic messages about San Juan's mayor, and homophobic references to singer Ricky Martin, who joined protestors in their march, along with other Puerto Rican stars, calling for people to come together.

Even under increasing pressure and despite several members of Rossello's staff resigning amid controversy, still, the governor refuses to step down.

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO (through translator): My responsibility is to continue working and provide you with these results. One will always face different challenges. This is a big challenge, but at the same time, we must fulfill our objectives.

SANTIAGO: Calls for Rossello to leave office reaching the mainland U.S., too, as frustration grows for Puerto Ricans living in Florida and New York City, where "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, also a subject of the leaked messages, marched alongside demonstrators.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, CREATOR, "HAMILTON": I'm so numb by politics in America. But people of Puerto Rico aren't numb, and they're waking us all up. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), and I'm here to have their backs.

SANTIAGO: In San Juan, protesters say it's more than just the leaked messages. The governor's former education secretary and five others were arrested and charged with steering federal aid money to unqualified, politically-connected contractors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's more about the people who are -- who died in Maria and everything that he said in his chat, also the fight against women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about dignity. It's about people. It's about family. It's about everything.


SANTIAGO: And Alisyn, the Department of Justice here has asked for the 12 people involved in those chats to turn over their cell phones for inspection of the phones and the chats on them.

In terms of impact to tourism, I can tell you that Royal Caribbean has already canceled one of its stops here on the island -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: But Leyla, obviously, it's also about more than just the leaks. So what else are the protesters saying?

SANTIAGO: Listen, as I've spoken to protesters here, you realize that this is more than chats. This is something that goes way beyond that. Many people see themselves in those chats. There were insults to people from the countryside. There were insults to women. There were insults to the LGBTQ community. And so many people here tell me that was personal. They see themselves in that.

[06:05:07 But to your point, this goes beyond, in trying to rid this island of corruption. And -- and the concern for many -- I heard someone last night say, "Look, I don't agree with anything Donald Trump says, but I agree that he was correct in the corruption that he spoke of of these public officials in power on this island."

And the concern is that those who are most vulnerable, Alisyn, those who are still rebuilding today after Hurricane Maria, could see more of an impact if this, in some way, hurts their chance of getting aid for so many people.

The words that I heard repeated was "indignation" and "corruption" and. of course, "resign."

CAMEROTA: This is the last thing that people in Puerto Rico need. Leyla, thank you for all of your reporting on the ground there for us -- John.

BERMAN: All right. This morning could very well be the moment we all look back on and say, "Ah, that is when we knew the president's exact 2020 campaign message."

A searing, unforgettable display in North Carolina, where the president welcomed a rally chanting, "Send her back." This was in response to his attacks on Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. This morning, all the major papers have new articles about the president's 2020 campaign strategy and, basically, that moment is it.

CNN's Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill. Seems crystal-clear now, Lauren.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, John, this Twitter controversy really fueling the president's 2020 campaign. Instead of backing down, he really dug in last night at that rally in North Carolina. Here's what he had the crowd chanting a couple minutes into his speech.


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send her back! Send her back!


FOX: And the House voting last night easily to defeat that measure by Representative Al Green, a Democrat, to advance impeachment in the House of Representatives, with 137 Democrats voting to table it, or essentially, to dissolve of it. But 95 Democrats wanted to advance it.

And I think that that reveals just what Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has on her hands. Her caucus divided over this question of impeachment, even though she's encouraged them to dig in on policy, to dig in on the investigations they already have.

The House also voted last night to hold in contempt of Congress, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, and Attorney General William Barr over their refusal to answer questions about the House Oversight Committee's investigation into how a question about how citizenship was proposed for the U.S. Census -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right. Lauren Fox for us on Capitol Hill. Lauren, thank you very much. We'll come back to you in a little bit.

Joining us now, Rachael Bade, congressional correspondent for "The Washington Post"; David Gregory, CNN political analyst; and Tiffany Cross, co-founder and managing editor of "The Beat DC."

Friends, I want to read to you something that Tim Miller wrote overnight. Tim was a senior adviser on the Jeb Bush presidential campaign in 2016. Jeb Bush, of course, a Republican.

Tim watched the rally last night, where the president was leading the crowd in these chants of, "Send her back." And he wrote, "Imagine how this video of the president leading a white mob in a 'send her back' chant, targeting a black refugee, is going to look in your kids' high school government history classes."

In other words, think about how history will judge this. And then David, combine that with the fact that so much of this speech that the president read was on teleprompter. His attacks on the members last night were on prompter. So it is just clear that this is a strategy. It is deliberate now.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think what's so striking, beyond how offensive it is, is that the president has kind of cast aside what would have been another available strategy, which is just to run against Democrats who he thinks are liberal extremists in their views.

Or you could single out Congresswoman Omar for anti-Semitic comments that she's made and denounce those, and try to define the broader Democratic Party beyond the presidential candidates as standing for these views; what he might call socialists or, you know, attacking Medicare for all and on and on and on.

But of course, he's gone so far beyond that. Assuming, in his mind, that there's an audience of that for that of his supporters who would say, "Yes, this is the problem with America." That these congresswomen somehow represent what's wrong with America. That's where he's going.

Of course, it could change in a week in terms of a lasting strategy.

But it -- but you raise the point about a government class. The president behaves in a way that I would never want my children to behave or to ever repeat.

And so this question of how much character matters and how much his character matters is really going to be the defining issue of 2020, versus the condition of the country.

And along with that, do his supporters who come out who have some kind of tolerance for this, at whatever level that is, are they dwarfed in number by those who find this offensive? That's what we have to watch very carefully.

CAMEROTA: Tiffany, I think that it's so telling that it was on teleprompter. You know, that means somebody wrote it. And usually, the president, I think, doesn't write his teleprompter speeches.

And that means, I mean, as John said, it's a campaign strategy. They're not going to talk about the economy. He's going to talk about these incendiary issues and that, you know, bring up these chants about racial tension.

And so he thinks that that's a more winning strategy than the economy. What does that tell us?

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER/MANAGING EDITOR, THE BEAT DC: Yes. Well, it tells us he thinks it's a winning strategy, because that's what worked for him in the last election.

Listen, these attacks are nothing new. He is a one-trick pony, and this is what he does. He needed a new face to put behind his racist rhetoric.

I'm really happy that everybody else has caught up, because had we called a thing a thing in 2016, when he kicked off his campaigns -- or 2015, when he kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers.

I mean, we've known for decades when he called for the execution of the Central Park Five, now the exonerated five. In 2011, when he accused the first black president, President Barack Obama, of being born in Africa.

Listen, this is not anything that's shocking to a lot of people across the country. We've known this. I think it's, you know, challenging for some of us to watch, when we've seen over the past few years for us to describe these comments as racially-charged or some people perceive them to be as racist. We have to start calling this out and say the president is a white supremacist.

We also have to stop perpetuating this false narrative that he was elected because of economic woes, because the white working class thought he would save them. That's not true, and the data shows that.

There's a study by UCLA, UC Irvine and Princeton that shows the No. 1 reason that people switched from Democrat to Republican to vote for Obama and then vote for Trump was because they all held hostile views on race.

When we looked at his rallies in 2015 and '16, and when you heard the rhetoric, the racist rhetoric coming from people in the rallies, the signs that they held up, the sound bites they gave, it was all very consistent with what this president said.

So it's not new; it's not a new strategy. This is very consistent. I take David's point that, you know, we'll have to see if this crowd is dwarfed. Because even though they don't represent the majority of the country --


CROSS: -- they do over-index at the ballot box.

CAMEROTA: Well, hold on. I just want to -- I just want to say one thing about what you just said. Because we read that -- the top line of that UC Davis research, as well. And it's that some whites who voted for Trump, it's not that they love the racist talk. It's that they don't feel that they've ever benefitted from white privilege. Their kids may go to substandard public schools. They haven't coasted on whatever people think is white privilege.

And so they feel that race -- all the talk of race hasn't worked for them. I mean, I just think that's a little bit different than them being driven by racist sentiments.

CROSS: But let -- but let me push back on that a little bit, Alisyn. Because when -- so a lot of people, I think, hold that safe view. You know, they, you know, feel like they're not like those other people. They're not like racists.

But when you are backing a candidate who has made his entire campaign about white identity politics, about how white people are getting the short end of the stick, and he has backed that up with racist rhetoric, racist policies, racist action, and this is the camp you're in, then you do identify with some level of racism. You do fall in the category of white supremacy.

You cannot back a racist and then say, "No, but I don't -- I only support 'x,' 'y,' and 'z,' but I don't support his racism." That is not the way that the rest of the country can perceive those kind of racist attacks and things that promote and perpetuate white supremacy in this country.

BERMAN: Rachael, it's interesting to me that all of the major papers -- "The Wall Street Journal," "The New York Times" and your very own "Washington Post" -- Toluse Olorunnipa had this article yesterday, saying that the Trump campaign is really happy with how this is going. They think this is a strategy that is working for them over the last few days.

Now, just because they say it doesn't mean it's true. Let me establish that. It was -- seems to me like a very calculated, planted story in some of these papers.

But what are you hearing among Democrats on Capitol Hill this morning? Because Jake Tapper has had some fascinating conversations; our reporters had fascinating conversations with some Democrats who feel like the president is dictating where this is heading right now; and they're being dragged along here, instead of talking about what they want to talk about.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there's definitely some frustration there, that they have to keep responding to these, you know, racist comments or the chat from last night. I'm sure they're going to feel pressured to say something today when they would rather be talking about what they're running on in 2020, their legislative agenda, health care, prescription drugs. So frustration is one word, I would say, we're definitely hearing on Capitol Hill.

[06:15:10] There's another, though. And if you pivot from Trump and look at Omar, "fear" is the word that we're -- we've heard before, too. Because, you know, this is a woman who is being targeted with death threats on a regular basis because of her religion and the color of her skin.

This is a woman who, last time Trump attacked her and retweeted this video suggesting she somehow supported the horrible events of 9/11; had to get her own security detail appointed by Speaker Pelosi, because the death threats got so bad.

This sort of rhetoric, this sort of escalation, this is going to cause some serious concern on Capitol Hill about the safety of these four women, particularly Omar, after last night.

And it's interesting because, you know, on Tuesday, Republicans made, you know, this whole scene, saying that Speaker Pelosi was breaking the decorum rules in the House when she said Trump's tweets saying these four women need to, quote, "Go back to their countries of origin" were racist tweets. They said that she shouldn't be doing that. She's changing the structure of the House. What is politics coming to?

And yet, this is a party, these are Republicans on the Hill who are embracing a party where these sort of chants, saying a Somali refugee needs to go back to her own country, even though she's a citizen of the United States and a duly-elected member of Congress, I mean, if that's not hypocrisy, I don't know what is.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Rachael, I'm so glad you brought that up. Because David, we can have as many high-level conversations as we want about campaign strategy, but this is dangerous. Hearing a mob say, "Send her back," chant "Send her back," it may seem like all fun and games there at the time. But it's only a matter of time until something is ignited, as we saw from the kook with the van festooned with all the Trump stickers who then started sending bombs to news organizations and to Democrats.

GREGORY: I think there's no questions about it. And I think there's a lot of journalists in positions of authority within media organizations who have, point blank, told the president how dangerous this rhetoric is to be stirring this up. And the president clearly doesn't care. And it is dangerous.

And at the same time, there is a willingness -- look, you have to look at what the state of the Republican Party is. And the fact that the president is, each day, defining what the Republican Party stands for.

And yet, I think there are a lot of Republicans who engage in a lot of separation from the president and focus on different things. That's why I go back to, is this a character question about the president? I think Democrats have the ability to do both. Say, let's -- let's evaluate who this president is, what he stands for, what he brings to the office. And then let's also take on policies, take on the state of the country. They're going to have to do both and hope that there is a significant backlash against who he is.

BERMAN: That's really the challenge, isn't it? The ability to show that they're doing both and not look like they're focused on any one thing too much.

All right, guys. Stand by, because we have a lot more to discuss on this front.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, there's also a dangerous heat wave to tell you about. It's set to scorch more than half of the United States this week. More than 150 million Americans are under a heat advisory today.

So CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has been looking at all of this. He has our forecast. How bad is it, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's going to feel like 109 degrees outside of Chicago today, a little bit away from the lake. You're going to go outside, and your eyeglasses are going to steam up. Your body is not going to be able to cool itself down unless you go someplace cooler than outside.

This weather is brought to you by Boost nutritional drink. Be up for life.

It's a heat dome. It's summer. It happens. The good news is, by this time next week, this thing is gone, and we're below normal for a couple days. The heat dome is a high pressure that pushes the heat back toward the surface.

So here are your heat indexes. One good day yet, still, for New York City, but it comes in tomorrow. D.C., you're very hot.

Another problem is we're not going to cool down overnight. You can't open the windows and get your house down to 65 with cool air. It isn't even going to cool down below 80, 82 degrees. And your heat index for New York City begins to warm up all the way to 106 on Saturday.

Hot in D.C. for a lot of festivities on Saturday, as well. Chicago, you finally cool down by the end of the weekend.

But John, this is the hottest air of the season so far. People need to be ready with pets and kids and the adults alike and also the elderly. Please check on everybody today. It's going to be a hot one.

BERMAN: Absolutely. Be careful. And also big hair. Just be ready for all of that. All right, Chad. Thank you very much.

So there's no Zion Williamson, but there is a lot of anticipation. The draw that could change the 2020 race for the Democrats, that's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:25:03] CAMEROTA: OK. So tonight, there is a CNN special event. It is a live drawing for the CNN Democratic primary debates. The lineups for the next 2020 debates on July 30 and 31 will be set tonight, and you can watch it all unfold right here on CNN.

So let's bring back David Gregory and Rachael Bade. Also joining us, M.J. Lee, CNN political correspondent.

OK. So this is very exciting. They're doing this differently than ever done before, M.G. -- M.J., so let's talk about it.

Here are the 20 -- I'll put up their pictures -- who have made the debate stage on one of the nights. So it boils down to 20, and there they are. I won't go through all of their names.

But here's what's interesting. We're going to watch a drawing, and it's been split into, basically, three tiers. The top tier, which is Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. They'll be the final draw. Then there's the second draw, of the second most popular, basically, people; and the third draw, which will happen first, is the people who are polling, basically, at the lowest.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the way that this is being done guarantees that those four that you're looking on the screen right now -- Biden, Bernie, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren -- are going to be split into two. Two of them will face each other. We just don't know which two.

I think no matter how the drawing happens, it is going to be a fascinating debate. First of all, if Biden is again on stage with Harris, are we going to see fireworks, round two? And is each of the candidates going to bring a different strategy?

Because clearly, last time it was very, very obvious that Kamala Harris came prepared with that specific attack; and Biden, you have to assume, if he knows he's going to confront Harris again, is going to be prepared, I think, on a whole different level.

I'm also just watching very closely who Warren ends up getting paired up with, only because she actually didn't have a top-tier candidate that she was facing off against last time.

If she faces off against Biden, for example, I think that is going to be fascinating. Their ideological differences are so stark, but they have not had the chance to face one another.

But remember, it was on Biden's announcement day that she told reporters in this passing way, you know, "At one point Biden was on the side of the credit card companies."

So we know there's a lot there and potential tension there. We just don't know exactly how the pairings are going to end up.

BERMAN: So David Gregory, who wants whom, who needs whom and who fears whom when you're talking about how this is split up? For instance, is it -- does Joe Biden need the rematch with Kamala Harris? Or do you think he wants to differentiate himself from a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren?

GREGORY: I think he'd like to do all those things, but I think at the moment, he's looking into, you know, one of those multisided mirrors at all images of himself, to figure out whether he's actually going to show up. That's what he needs. That's where the high bar is. Is he going to really come ready to debate, ready to go onto the offensive, as opposed to playing this frontrunner game, where he's just going to try to cruise around and not really have to interact with anybody?

I think now he realizes that's over. That he is the frontrunner. That his -- that the Democrats who he's competing against will come after him on all kinds of issues that are generational, that are ideological. So he's got to be ready.

So the obvious thing to look for is can he square off against Kamala Harris, Senator Harris, and do a better job? I think Elizabeth Warren, as has been said, would be an interesting contrast. But really, all of them, I think, pose important tests.

But the Biden factor, his ability to rebound, is No. 1.

I also look for, you know, a candidate like Pete Buttigieg, who I thought did very well. It's just that Senator Harris did so well in that first debate. Can he find a way to break through in a crowded field when I think he's a little bit more of a detached figure? So I'd be looking for that, as well.

CAMEROTA: OK. So that'll be 8 p.m. tonight, the live drawing. Everybody tune in for that.

Meanwhile, let's talk about what happened in the Senate yesterday. So it was the 9/11 first responders funding was up for a vote. And this would have funded them for decades to come. So they didn't always have to go hat in hand to the Senate and the House and beg repeatedly, as they have for these past 18 years, to get funding for their, you know, deadly diseases that they're struggling with.

So it could have been easy to vote for -- to say yes for this vote to happen. But Senator Rand Paul had an objection. And here he is.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): We're adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year, and therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that's going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable.

We need, at the least, to have this debate. I will be offering up an amendment if this bill should come to the floor. But until then, I will object.


CAMEROTA: Rachael, what's that about? I mean, of course, there is runaway debt, but why now did Rand Paul decide to focus on that?

BADE: Yes, so Rand Paul sort of brands himself as this, you know, hard-core libertarian. He always talks about limited government; small government, limited spending. And so this is right in line with his ideology, if you look at it that way.