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Tear Gas Fired at Protestors Demanding Puerto Rico's Governor Resign; Trump Continues Attacks on Congresswomen, Rally Cries 'Send Her Back'; Iran Seizes Foreign Tanker; Half the U.S. Under Dangerous Heat Wave Warnings; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is Interviewed About Trump Rally Chants. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 07:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- for the hate- filled extremists, constantly trying to tear our country down. If they don't like it, let them leave.

[07:00:08] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Advisors around the president see a political winning strategy in all of this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's effective with his base, but he can't win with just his base.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's make it about politics. Let's not say, "Send her back." Let's say, "Vote her out."


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. And President Trump is continuing his attacks on four congresswomen of color at a campaign rally last night in North Carolina.

You could hear the president slamming the Democratic Squad as what he said were "hate-filled extremists." And his supporters cheered. When he singled out Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, they did this.


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!


CAMEROTA: We should note that she had apologized for those, which is something that he never did for siding with the neo-Nazis and saying they were very fine people.

What you heard the crowd there say was, "Send her back," which of course, echoes the chants of, "Lock her up" from the 2016 campaign. So we'll talk more about all of this in a moment.

BERMAN: And it's also clear now that this is a campaign strategy. This is no accident. It is a strategy and one the Trump campaign claims they think is working.

Also developing this morning, violent clashes in Puerto Rico between police and protestors demanding the island's embattled governor resign. You can see officers there in riot gear, firing tear gas after they burst through barricades at the governor's mansion.

The protests escalated after the release of nearly 900 pages of leaked private chats from Governor Ricardo Rossello that include profanity, homophobic and misogynist messages about other politicians, media members and celebrities. The governor is refusing to step down.

Let's get the very latest from the island right now. Leyla Santiago live in San Juan.

You can see them cleaning up behind you, Leyla.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Correct. And I actually checked in with the governor's office this morning. They are not responding when I asked how is the governor feeling this morning in terms of considering resignation. They are silent.

Now, I can tell you we were here standing on this street when tear gas was dispersed last night. We saw chaos. I can only really describe it a


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 USA, 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 from 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 -- 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 John, while police are still guarding La Fortaleza -- That's the governor's mansion here -- you can still see the remnants of the protests last night, be it in a broken barricade or in the frustrations that are written in graffiti on the walls.

Now all eyes today will not only be on the governor's mansion and the governor and his decision, but it will also be on legislators to see if they will move forward with impeachment proceedings.

BERMAN: Leyla, we heard it there from one of the protesters. This is about more than the offensive text messages, isn't it?

SANTIAGO: You know, so many people that I've talked to, as they were marching on the streets of not just San Juan but across the island, say that this is about rid -- getting rid of corruption on this island. I heard a lot of words repeated: "indignation," "resign," "enough."

So many people see themselves in the insults that came out of these chats, be it because they spoke of people from the countryside. Be it because they spoke of bodies that were piling up after Hurricane Maria. Be it because they said that "We fooled our own." I think this was personal for a lot of people. But it goes beyond that. After arrests of former administration

officials because of a corruption scandal, after years of questioning where money is going, it is all coming to a boiling point right here in front of the La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.

BERMAN: Leyla Santiago, it is terrific having you there. Thank you so much for your reporting. We'll let you get back to work and talk to you again in a little bit.

CAMEROTA: OK. Now to this, John. President Trump's 2020 re-election strategy was on full display last night at his rally in North Carolina. So joining us now with some more insight and reporting is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political analyst.

Maggie, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: What happened last night at the rally was so instructive, I think. Because President Trump was, again, going after these four congresswomen of color in very incendiary ways, and it was on teleprompter. He wasn't just riffing. And that means that the incendiary stuff was written down. And that means they thought about it, because it is a campaign strategy.

And so it is your reporting that they have decided somehow that, I guess, stoking racial tension is going to be more effective than talking about the economy?

HABERMAN: It's not as if stoking racial tension has never been done before and that it's never worked before. Politicians do it, because it works.

Very few people run for re-election as incumbent presidents with an economy like this without talking about it, which is what this president does.

And the one thing I must would asterisk heavily here is, yes, it is now a strategy. But this was not a strategy when he tweeted this out on Sunday, you know, about they should go back to where they came from. He tweeted something as some visceral reaction either to something he saw on television or something he was reading, and they then had to reverse engineer this as some plot of genius.

In reality, look, he ran a campaign of division and stoking tensions and inflaming tensions in 2016. He is going to make that, I think, look like a quiet stroll through the park based on yesterday.

It was very jarring to see a sitting U.S. president not quieting changes of "Send her back." And again we've said this repeatedly here and elsewhere, but you have to contrast it with what John McCain did when he was running for president in 2008, and somebody referred to then-Senator Barack Obama as an Arab. And John McCain interrupted and said, "No, he's just somebody who I have disagreements with." You're going to see the president doing a lot of this. And his

advisers believe that people are more turned off by Congresswoman Omar and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the, quote, unquote, "Squad." But this is really about Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman from Minnesota. And they believe that there's going to be enough discomfort about her with swing voters and some Democrats that this will be effective. We -- it is way too early to know how this is going to play.

BERMAN: A couple interesting aspects of this. No. 1, the idea that it was reverse-engineered. Because now we're getting all this -- all these statements from the Trump campaign and supporters saying, "Oh, this is a strategy, a big strategy here." He said it, and then they made it a strategy.

HABERMAN: Correct.

BERMAN: Now they're also saying they think it's working. That's a message they very much want to get out there.

Now, just because they're saying it doesn't mean it's true.

HABERMAN: Correct.

BERMAN: But it is interesting they're saying it.

HABERMAN: I think they're saying it for a couple of reasons. Again, I think they're saying it, because I do think that they think that there is something effective in taking on Omar and the three other congresswomen and making them the face of the Democratic Party.

And I think that they actually got some help in doing that from Democrats this week. I've had two Democratic strategists say to me privately, if it's Trump versus, you know, the Green New Deal congressmembers, Democrats are going to lose.

However, at some point, there is going to be an actual Democratic nominee, and Trump is going to have to run against that person. And Trump's re-election is still going to come down to who that nominee is and where the economy is.

CAMEROTA: I hear some projection in what he's saying. And I know you love the armchair analysis segments that I foist on you.

HABERMAN: I do love -- I do love that, yes.

CAMEROTA: But I hear some projection, because I hear that the things that he has taken the biggest criticism for are the Charlottesville, where he said that neo-Nazis were very fine people. Helsinki, where he sold out the U.S. and sided with Vladimir Putin and blamed the U.S. for the Russian interference. So those two things I hear him now trying to turn on these women, where he's saying they're anti-Semitic. She apologized for her remark.

HABERMAN: Which she?

CAMEROTA: Ilhan Omar. I think -- correct me if I'm wrong -- said that when she had said things about Israel, she said that she -- this was a learning experience for her.

HABERMAN: Right. I think the -- I will say that I have heard a lot of concern from Democrats, both in Congress and not in Congress, about some of the things that Congresswoman Omar has said. Because she has a couple of times said things like this. It's more than one occasion. And at a certain point, I think that even some of her colleagues are left wondering why it is that this keeps happening. So --

CAMEROTA: I guess my point is that he has not apologized for --

HABERMAN: Sure. Well --

CAMEROTA: -- saying that neo-Nazis were fine people.


CAMEROTA: So who's the anti-Semite? I mean --

HABERMAN: Well, I'm not willing to call President Trump an anti- Semite. But I do think -- and I'm not willing to call Congresswoman Omar anti-Semite. I'm just saying the commentary is --

CAMEROTA: Understood. I guess my point is that I hear him trying to turn that language --


CAMEROTA: -- on one of his opponents in a way that he never took ownership of.

HABERMAN: Right. Look, as we know, the president is very capable of doing the exact same things that he accuses other people of doing. My colleague, Peter Baker, wrote a whole story this week about how President Trump, who has described America in really dark, grim terms over the last longer than four years, is now saying that these women are un-American for voicing criticisms about the government.

Voicing criticism about the government is codified in our system. That we don't have -- we don't have monarchs. We have -- we have elected officials, and the right to criticize and protest is built into our system.

I don't know if I think it's projection. I do think that what the president is doing is trying to make somebody else the other and the other unacceptable. And I think we have seen him do that over and over and over again.

BERMAN: When the crowd was chanting, "Send her back," and he was allowing it or welcoming it or permitting it, however you want to say that, you did see some anxiety, I think, in some Republicans who have been supportive of the president. Some who have been less supportive. Tim Miller, who's not supportive. You know, he said it was bad. Guy Benson, who's on Fox a lot --

HABERMAN: Sure. BERMAN: -- very uncomfortable. Mark Walker, congressman from North Carolina, said, basically, he was unsettled by hearing this. He doesn't agree with Ilhan Omar, but he says, you know, "It was brief. I struggled with the 'Send her back' chant tonight. We should not use phrasing that's painful to our friends in the minority communities."

Now I know that only four House members voted against the president, but he does run some risks by pushing this to the extent he is.

HABERMAN: Yes. No question. I mean, I think because look, I think it depends on how much more he does of this kind of thing. I mean, specifically, this kind of thing, how much people actually see it. Remember, these rallies are not being broadcast the way they were in 2016, at least yet. And I do think that that makes the difference. Whether they will remains to be seen.

But I do think that there is a risk that I don't know that voters are going to want to think that the president of the United States is targeting citizens. And I mean, yes, the congresswoman is an elected official, but she's also an American. All four of these congresswomen are Americans. And he is going after them as not Americans.

And I think at a certain point, there were -- there were a number of conservatives who have been pretty supportive of the president who were on Twitter last night, saying this was a bridge too far.

But again, we saw a lot of people say in 2016 that things were a bridge too far, and it didn't matter.

BERMAN: Right.

HABERMAN: It didn't impact what the president does.

And I do want to add something back to what you were saying about the president, you know, projecting or accusing other people. In the -- yes, Congresswoman Omar has said a number of things where the -- the explanation has been she didn't know or she didn't understand. President Trump has either supported a number of comments or made a number of comments where his supporters expect him to be given a pass. And at a certain point, how many times do you give somebody a pass and say, "Well, they just didn't know"?

BERMAN: Is there a swing-vote strategy, as far as you can tell, inside the Trump campaign or the White House right now?

HABERMAN: No. I mean, their strategy is very similar to what -- one- half of their strategy is very similar to what we saw with President Trump's re-election in 2012, which was to destroy Mitt Romney. And they had a super PAC that was helping them do that. The super PAC was doing it and the campaign was doing it while the president himself, President Obama, was talking about the middle class. He was talking about jobs. So the president was giving a pretty uplifting message, and the negative was being primarily dealt with by other parts of the campaign.

This is a president who wants to do it all himself and has no other -- knows no other way. So he's going to go out there and say all of these things that you really don't necessarily want a candidate being the one to do.

There is no swing vote strategy. The strategy is win by whatever means necessary. And that has been Donald Trump's strategy as long as we have all seen him in public life.

CAMEROTA: Really helpful to get insight into this. Maggie, thank you very much.

[07:15:07] BERMAN: All right. We have breaking news just in from the Middle East. Iran claims it has seized a foreign tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. State media accuses the crew of 12 of carrying a million barrels of smuggled oil.

CNN's Sam Kiley live in Abu Dhabi with the breaking details.

Explain what's going on here, Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's all rather mysterious. And it comes, of course, amid ever-increasing tensions. Now, we don't know in this region, particularly in the Strait of Hormuz. You'll recall just a few weeks ago that was the same area where that U.S. drone was downed by Iranian surface-to-air missiles, the Iranians say -- say in Iranian air space. The Americans saying in international air space.

Now we have the seizure of this tanker. The Iranians say that they seized it on Sunday, that it is the only tanker that they have seized over the last significant period and that it was somehow involved in smuggling. They haven't named the craft. They haven't named the owners. Nor, indeed, have they said what exactly fuel was on board.

Now, there were reports at the weekend coming out of the Pentagon that a small -- relatively small tanker had been seized, erroneously ascribed to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is saying it's absolutely -- they have no record of any kind of missing vessel having been seized.

So this is a story that's going to develop, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sam, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Meanwhile, back here, a dangerous heat wave is set to scorch more than half of the United States. More than 150 million people are under a heat advisory today.

So CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has been watching it all. A lot of purple on that map.

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: You bet. It starts in the Midwest today, and it truly gets to the northeast tomorrow, although there still will be some hot places along the mid-Atlantic states this afternoon.

It's a big bubble of high pressure. It's just a summer type high that has a lot of humidity inside.

I got out of my car today, and my phone fogged up. That's how much humidity is in the air.

The heat is here. The humidity is there. You're going to need to take breaks. Make sure the pets and the kids have plenty of water and shade, because the temperatures you see on the map are in the shade. In the sun, it will feel even warmer.

Look at that. Morning low temperature on Saturday morning in D.C. won't get below 80. Eighty-two will be the morning low. And then by the afternoon, it's going to feel somewhere between 108 and 110 degrees out there. Same in Richmond. In Petersburg, down into North Carolina, South Carolina, and the like.

This is a hot couple of days. Probably a four-day record-breaking heat in some spots kind of outbreak. But next week, it's cooler. Something to look forward to.

BERMAN: All right. We are looking forward to that. Chad Myers for us, thank you very much.

So are the Democrats getting played by President Trump right now with his racist messaging? We're going to speak to a leading Democrat in Congress next.


[07:22:02] BERMAN: Overnight, an indelible moment. The president at a campaign rally, welcoming the crowd chanting, "Send her back" about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.


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!


BERMAN: Joining us now is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He's the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Congressman, thank you very much for being with us.

You voted to condemn the president for his tweet over the weekend, his racist tweet where he told Ilhan Omar and three other members to go back to the countries they came from. All four of them are American citizens.

So that chant last night at the campaign rally. When the crowd was chanting, "Send her back," was that racist? REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, listen, the president's words are

dangerous. The president's words are destructive. The president's words are divisive. And the American people deserve better from the individual who has the responsibility of trying to bring everyone together.

But he continues to peddle hatred and xenophobia and use racist tropes like the one that he has consistently directed at those four congresswomen of color. And that's unfortunate, and that's where we should keep the focus.

We've done what we needed to do. We have denounced him in the clearest possible terms. And now we, as House Democrats, are continuing to do the business of the American people, to work on kitchen-table pocketbook issues.

Later on today, we are going to pass the Raise the Wage Act, because the American people deserve a raise. There hasn't been an increase in the federal minimum wage in more than ten years, while at the same time corporate profits are skyrocketing through the roof.

We're going to continue to stand up for working families, middle-class folks, senior citizens, the poor, the sick, the afflicted; and fight for the people.

BERMAN: And we'll talk about the federal minimum wage in just a moment here. But the fact that that audience was chanting what they were chanting in response to the president, does that show that, perhaps, his rhetoric is working or connecting with some voters?

JEFFRIES: In my view, at the end of the day, the goodness of the American people will be made clear next November. And I don't believe that they will support this type of individual who has continued to peddle destructive things that are ripping apart the civic fabric of this nation.

BERMAN: There are some Democrats inside your caucus who are concerned about how this has played out over the last week and, to an extent, the Democratic response here.

I want to read you something that my colleague Jake Tapper wrote. He says, "'The president won this one,' said House dem -- one of the -- House Dem 1 of the Trump versus the Squad showdown. 'What the president has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the president has now identified the entire party with them.'"

BERMAN: What do you say that concern that's coming from members of your own caucus?

JEFFRIES: Well, that appears to have been an anonymous contribution to the public discussion. So there's not really much for me to respond there, I mean, to say.

BERMAN: Well, there are four members that said that to Jake. I don't doubt for a second that he talked to four members who said that to him. So let's -- let's take it as fact that they said it.

JEFFRIES: Well, let me simply say this. What we have seen is the president versus the American people. And his conduct is what is reckless.

And it's because he's an ineffective individual. He is not getting the job done. His signature legislative accomplishment is to jam the GOP tax scam down the throats of the American people, where 83 percent of the benefits went to the wealthiest 1 percent. He doesn't want to talk about this.

At this very moment, his administration is trying to strip away protections for more than 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions. That was the defining issue of the midterm election. He doesn't want to talk about that.

He doesn't want to talk about the fact that he has children in cages, living in inhumane conditions on the U.S.-Mexico border. Our government, not any other government, not Iran, not Russia, not China, our government.

And so he results or resorts to peddling this kind of rhetoric. But we are going to keep our focus on getting things done. That is the winning formula. And that's what unites the House Democratic caucus.

BERMAN: And I hear you talking to me, trying to walk and chew gum at the same time. And this is the challenge for House Democrats. How do you respond to offensive things, racist things the president says, and also show the American people that you can legitimate at the same time?

Talk to me about this minimum wage bill today, what it does. And I do want to tell you what the CBO says, the Congressional Budget Office has said that, while it could boost wages for well over a million people, it could also cost some jobs, a million jobs.

JEFFRIES: Well, we think it will result in boosting wages for tens of millions of Americans over time in a manner that will also be good for the economy, because when you put more money in the pockets of everyday Americans, you increase consumer demand. When you increase consumer demand, you increase spending. When you increase spending, you boost the economy.

So that, in and of itself, is incredibly important. And that's why Democrats are leading the charge in this regard, fighting for the people, not for the wealthy, the well-off, and the well-connected. That's what the other side does.

We don't have an unemployment challenge at the moment, but we have an underemployment challenge. We have a wage stagnation challenge. We believe every American deserves a living wage. We have a college affordability challenge. We have a retirement insecurity challenge. We've been working through these issues, and we will continue to do so.

BERMAN: Let me just put it up on the screen, because -- because I misquoted it slightly about what the CBO says about this bill that you're putting up there. It would boost wages of 17 million workers currently earning less than $15 an hour. I think we have this graphic.

Another 10 million workers earning just above $15 an hour could see raises. One point three million fewer people with annual income below poverty threshold.

But the median estimate is that 1.3 million others would become jobless.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you for being with us today. I do appreciate your time.

JEFFRIES: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right, John. He is one of the few Trump allies to denounce the president's racist attacks on four congresswomen. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is here. He joins us next.