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Trump Rally Offers Preview Of His Ugly Reelection Strategy; Families Of Boeing 737 MAX Crash Victims Give Emotional Testimony; CNN To Hold Live Democratic Debate Drawing Tonight. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:12] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is continuing his racist attacks against four Democratic congresswomen, boasting publicly that he believes this is a winning issue for him.

Joining us now is Anthony Scaramucci. He's the former White House communications director under President Trump. Anthony, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: When you saw that rally last night in North Carolina and you see all of the people -- the President Trump supporters chanting "Send her back! Send her back!" -- do you agree that this is a winning campaign strategy for him?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, they won last time so it may be a winning campaign strategy, but it is against the idealistic values of America.

And so what ends up happening is it's such a turnoff to a large group of people that you are running a risk that 15 percent of the people that you want to get you through that electoral map and back into the presidency say, you know what? I love the policies, but I don't like the "send her back" rhetoric. I don't like the racist rhetoric of sending people back to the homes that they came from, even though these three -- three of the four people were born in the United States.

So, for me, it's really about the ideas of America and what we stand for as a country. And so, if the president wants to do that -- you know, I like the president. I've supported the president.


SCARAMUCCI: He has a great economic agenda. He's going up against --

CAMEROTA: Which he's not talking about. Just --

SCARAMUCCI: Which I don't know -- that I don't understand.

CAMEROTA: Hold on, Anthony. I want to -- I want to talk --

SCARAMUCCI: Then again, I'm a Wall Street guy, so I think the economy's doing great. Why not talk about it?

CAMEROTA: Yes. But, I mean, you do know politics. And so, the White House -- there's reporting -- I mean, we just had Maggie Haberman on. There's reporting that they're deciding to go with this. They think --


CAMEROTA: -- that this sort of stirring up of racial tension is more effective, for some reason, than talking about the economy.

You know this White House. Why do they think that?

SCARAMUCCI: So I think -- again, I think that is that if you can increase the voter participation in the president's base, a lot of people in the middle will vote for him because of the economic agenda and a lot of those positive things.

[07:35:03] And then, what they're also hoping to do is by labeling the Democrats of that squad, hopefully, you can pull the candidate, whoever that may be, into the direction of the squad, which -- you know, listen, you may disagree with me on this but they have disastrous policies. They also say anti-Semitic things. And they've -- they haven't really -- they're --

CAMEROTA: As has the president.

SCARAMUCCI: -- agreeing --

I'm just giving you what the strategy is. Don't push back for a second because I think --

CAMEROTA: But I'm just saying that you can't just look at one and not look at the other side.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm going to look at both, but don't push back for a second because I think it's important to explain the strategy.

If he can get the Democratic Party effectively labeled -- that squad and that hard-left, OK -- even though he's got some racial tension going in there -- he gets the voter participation up -- the other people hold their nose and they vote for him and he wins reelection.

CAMEROTA: OK. That's good.

SCARAMUCCI: So that's the strategy, OK?

CAMEROTA: That's helpful. I appreciate that.

SCARAMUCCI: So that's the strategy.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate your -- OK.

SCARAMUCCI: So, I think -- I think both sides are a little ridiculous.

And I think -- I think what's happening now is that moderate people -- you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, there's two types of people. If you don't vote, that's almost as good as voting in a lot of ways. Let me explain to you why because --

CAMEROTA: Because you turn people off, you mean.

SCARAMUCCI: Exactly. If you turn enough people off and they don't vote, and they say OK, scram on the politics.

But what I like to tell people -- I was at an event last night. I said, hey, look at your tax return. In my case, I'm at 53 percent, so I'm a minority partner in my own life.

I don't know what your tax return is. Maybe it's --


SCARAMUCCI: -- 30 percent. But the government's taking a third of your -- like, they're a big-time partner in your business.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and I want to get this, Anthony, because I think that's really --

SCARAMUCCI: So you've got to get involved with the hiring decisions.

CAMEROTA: That's really important, what you just said, because you've called the president's tweets, to quote you, "reprehensible, racist, and Neanderthal-ish." And yet --

SCARAMUCCI: Absolutely ridiculous.

CAMEROTA: -- you still support him?

SCARAMUCCI: I do -- I support him. I would like him to conform that behavior.

If he continues on that path, I think what the president needs to know from his friends who are too afraid to tell him to his face what they really think of those tweets -- if he continues on that path, he's going to lose -- like a glacier of support is going to break off and float away from him in a way that he doesn't fully understand. So you've got --

CAMEROTA: But would you still support him?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I'm not -- I'm not -- as I've said, I've been very, very direct about it. I like the president a great deal, personally.


SCARAMUCCI: I've supported the agenda and raised a lot of money for him.

CAMEROTA: But if he continues with these tweets, he would lose your support?

SCARAMUCCI: No, if he -- if he -- oh, not just my support. I think that the message to the president is there's going to be a large glacier of people --


SCARAMUCCI: -- that under their breath are saying this is ridiculous.

He has friends of his in the White House that are working for him --


SCARAMUCCI: -- that are telling reporters that these tweets are racist, but I can't say anything because I've got to keep --


SCARAMUCCI: -- my job.

CAMEROTA: But at what point --

SCARAMUCCI: And when that glacier breaks --

CAMEROTA: When does that happen?

SCARAMUCCI: -- it's going to be very bad.

CAMEROTA: When does that happen? When does he lose your support? I mean, since you've already called these tweets --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean --

CAMEROTA: -- racist, when -- what are you waiting for?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, let's see what he does. Let's see what he does.

Also, you have to understand you only have two choices.

CAMEROTA: But one more racist -- I'm just curious. One more racist tweet and he loses your support?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. You know, it's like what Potter Stewart said about pornography -- you know it when you see it.


SCARAMUCCI: But you also have to compare it to what you're going up against, OK? So if he's going up against a left-wing radical --


SCARAMUCCI: -- human being that's going to go for the Green New Deal, destroy the economy --

CAMEROTA: Yes. SCARAMUCCI: -- triple taxes, layer on the regulation that slowed down the --

CAMEROTA: But that's not fueled by -- OK, but I just want to be clear. So you're willing to --

SCARAMUCCI: Is Joe Biden the nominee?

CAMEROTA: I'm just -- I'm just checking your pulse here. You are willing to continue supporting --

SCARAMUCCI: It's not -- it's not just my pulse. It's not just my pulse.

CAMEROTA: You're just -- just you, Anthony.


CAMEROTA: You're willing to continue supporting President Trump though you consider his tweet racist and reprehensible because you --

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. I don't think of him as a racist.

CAMEROTA: -- I guess, like his -- what policies?

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, no, no. Don't make it a moral question.

CAMEROTA: It is a moral question.

SCARAMUCCI: It -- for me, it will eventually be a moral question, but he's not a racist, OK? So if he --

CAMEROTA: But his tweets are racist.

SCARAMUCCI: The tweets are racist, yes. And, by the way, his friends that would tell him the truth, they would tell him that the tweets are racist.

So -- but again, I don't believe he's a racist. I think he's done a very good job for the country.


SCARAMUCCI: If he continues on that path -- again, you don't want me to say this but I'm going to repeat it again because I think it's important for people to hear -- it won't be just me. It will be a very large coalition of people --


SCARAMUCCI: -- that have worked for him in the past that are working for him now that will say that is un-American. And, you know, it's reminiscent of McCarthyism.

And so, what ends up happening is you hear it, you don't like it, you ignore it -- you hear it, you don't like it, you ignore it -- you hear it, you don't like it. You say, OK, wait a minute. This is not the direction that the country has to go in.


SCARAMUCCI: And so, if you're weighing the policies and you're weighing that strategy versus what America stands for, OK, you're making a very big mistake.

CAMEROTA: Right. So at this point --

SCARAMUCCI: That's my honest opinion. By the way --

CAMEROTA: I really appreciate that, Anthony, but I just --

SCARAMUCCI: By the way, I love my country and so I'm going to --

CAMEROTA: I understand, but I'm just --

SCARAMUCCI: -- talk to you very honestly about how I feel about the situation.

CAMEROTA: We appreciate you candor on this. But I'm just wondering at what point you -- enough is enough for you. So, at the moment, you're hearing it and ignoring it, you're saying?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I'm not ignoring it. Am I ignoring it? I'm sitting here on national --

CAMEROTA: You're still supporting President Trump.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm sitting here on national television denouncing it. I don't think I'm ignoring it. You can't say I'm ignoring it. But --

CAMEROTA: But you're putting it aside to support him because why?

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, I don't think I'm putting it aside. I'm saying that you're doing something that I don't think you really want to do.

[07:40:02] You have an unbelievable agenda. What you've done from a policy perspective has been amazing for the country. How you're doing things stylistically, you could have a very large disaffection of people that really want to vote for you. I don't -- I don't -- I couldn't be any more clear than that.

And by the way, you know, I think he needs to hear that. I think the campaign needs to hear that. And I think there needs to be some courage in elected officials in the Republican Party to pick up the phone and say hey, you should really knock this off because directionally, this is not the way we want to go in the country.

CAMEROTA: And you don't think that you could any better with any other Republican?

SCARAMUCCI: Win it on -- win it on policy.

CAMEROTA: There's no other Republican --

SCARAMUCCI: You mean, someone's going to primary the president? What do you mean?

CAMEROTA: Sure -- William Weld. You don't think that there's any other Republican who wouldn't send out racist tweets --


CAMEROTA: -- who also be a good steward --


CAMEROTA: -- of the economy?

SCARAMUCCI: Alisyn, you're an idealist. I'd like to think of myself sometimes as an idealist.

The president has a 94 percent approval rating in the Republican Party. There's no standing politician or known person that's going to challenge him in the Republican Party.

Let's say they challenged him in the Republican Party and that might be a good thing for the president because it will get him, possibly, to conform some of his behavior. He's going to win the nomination.

Moreover, if the Republicans want to win, they don't want to do what Ronald Reagan did to Gerald Ford or Edward Kennedy -- you know, Sen. Kennedy did to Jimmy Carter.

So, I don't think anybody's going to challenge the president and he's going to be the Republican nominee.

The question is how are you getting there? And if you're getting there in this direction, people are going to break and -- because let me tell you something -- you know, like you talk about.

It's like for my grandparents. You're an Italian-American. This is for my grandparents, it's for nobody else. My grandmother was told to go back to where she came from.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

SCARAMUCCI: Now, you may not like this woman's policies -- Rep. Omar -- but you don't tell her to go back from where she came from. She's a naturalized citizen. She has a Democratically-elected seat in the Congress.

Beat her pants off ideologically, define her for the bad policies that she has, but don't tell her to go back to where she came from. It's absolutely -- it's absolutely --

CAMEROTA: Of course. He also told the other three congresswomen to go --

SCARAMUCCI: It's absolutely -- it's absolutely ridiculous.

So -- but the flipside of it is --

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

SCARAMUCCI: -- on a comparative basis, OK, they have nobody running against the president, in my opinion, that's going to beat him, OK? So I just hope we don't have this ugly situation going into November of 2020.

CAMEROTA: Oh, you clearly are --

SCARAMUCCI: And by the way, it's not just me.

CAMEROTA: -- an idealist (INAUDIBLE).

SCARAMUCCI: By the way, it's not just me. I mean, I just think the message for people is it's not just me. Trust me, there's a lot of people out there that just don't have the courage to say what I'm saying, OK, but they're ready to move on this if he continues down this path. There's no question about it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for being here, Anthony. Great to see you --

SCARAMUCCI: Nice to see you, too.

CAMEROTA: -- as always. Appreciate the candor.

SCARAMUCCI: Are you going to run as a Republican nominee?

CAMEROTA: If my country calls me.


CAMEROTA: You know, which they --

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

CAMEROTA: -- obviously are clamoring for -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, you weren't born in America. That's a problem.

Lawmakers hear from the man haunted by his family's final minutes aboard a doomed plane.


PAUL NJOROGE, LOST FIVE FAMILY MEMBERS IN 737 MAX CRASH: My wife and mom-in-law knew they were going to die. They had to somehow comfort the children during those final moments.


BERMAN: Why he's speaking out, next.


[07:47:02] BERMAN: As many as 13 Philadelphia police officers are expected to be suspended beginning tomorrow, the first step before they're likely fired. They're among 72 officers who were taken off the street and placed on administrative duty in June for racist and offensive Facebook posts.

Polo Sandoval here with the details -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, guys, the Plain View Project -- they're the ones who first initially posted these messages here. It describes itself as database of public Facebook posts and comments made by police officers across the country.

And now, this new reporting by the "Philadelphia Enquirer" -- reporting now that as early as tomorrow we could begin to see officers fired. Three sources telling the newspaper there in Philadelphia that as many as 13 officers expected to be eventually suspended with intent to dismiss. Now, it still remains unclear exactly who they are and what they posted.

And this story is coming after an investigation that was launched by the police department into the officers' posts that included Confederate imagery. Also, anti-Muslim sentiments, violent rhetoric, and racist comments.

The commissioner in that city, Richard Ross, saying the department has been reviewing each and every one of these posts to see if it potentially would be constitutionally-protected free speech.

The local police officers union is calling this an overly broad social media investigation that has already taken many officers off the streets.

The commissioner there in that city agrees, yes, there has been an impact in the neighborhood but really, more of a negative one here. Ross fears that it's actually going to make it even harder for officers to cultivate relationships with some of those groups that they have struggled to maintain relationships in the past.

So again, this breaking in the last 12 hours. We could potentially see 13 of those 72 officers finally get off the job permanently -- guys.

CAMEROTA: Wow. OK, Polo. Thank you very much for that reporting.

Now to this. Families who lost loved ones in Boeing's 737 MAX jet crashes say the company put greed before safety.

In heart-wrenching testimony before Congress, a Canadian businessman described his family's final minutes on one of the jets that crashed in the past year.

CNN's Rene Marsh is live in Washington with more. This was heartbreaking, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION AND TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, it was really difficult to watch. I mean, these families say that their loved ones were snatched from them, killed after simply boarding a plane -- a Boeing 737 MAX. And these families are blaming Boeing and the FAA for not grounding this plane fast enough.

Of course, this comes as the manufacturer is scrambling to fix its jet.

But I want you to listen to Paul Njoroge, a father of five who lost -- a father who lost five family members as he talks about the family's final minutes on board one of the 737s that crashed in the last year.


NJOROGE: I think about their last six minutes a lot. My wife and mom-in-law knew they were going to die. They had to somehow comfort the children during those final moments knowing they were all their last.

I wish I was there with them. It never leaves me but my family's flesh is still in Ethiopia, mixed with the soil, the jet fuel, and pieces of the aircraft.


[07:50:08] MARSH: Well, adding insult to injury, victims' families say Boeing has not reached out to them directly to extend sympathy.

Boeing's CEO has publicly said that he regrets the deaths, and the company has set aside some $100 million to assist the families. And a Boeing spokesperson did not dispute this lack of communication with the victims' families.

We should point out that regulators have grounded this 737. That happened worldwide in March. But again, the victims' families slamming Boeing for initially saying that these planes were safe.

BERMAN: Rene Marsh, terrific reporting. Thank you very much.

Just a few hours until high Democratic drama. The drawing to determine who will face off against whom in the CNN debates in just two weeks.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee on what he expects to see. That's next.


[07:55:03] BERMAN: We're just hours away from CNN's live drawing to determine the lineup for the upcoming Democratic presidential debates, which will be held on July 30th and 31st in Detroit, right here on CNN.

Joining me now is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Whoever is on whichever of those two stages is going to have to ultimately run --


BERMAN: -- against President Trump. And we now know what his campaign strategy is and we heard some of it last night with people at that rally in North Carolina chanting "Send her back" about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

My question to you, as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, how do you reach the voters who were in that hall last night chanting "Send her back?"

PEREZ: Well, those voters, I think, are his hardcore base and so those aren't the voters that we're focused on. We're focused on the rest of America because those voters reflect a minority of people in America.

Look in 2018, John. We had a relentless focus on the issues that matter most.

We were able to persuade voters in states across the country that it's the Democratic Party that has your back on health care. It's the Democratic Party that's working to protect your coverage if you have a preexisting condition. It's the Democratic Party that's working to make sure we bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

It's the Democratic Party that's working to make sure your kids have access to a quality education. And all of those issues -- these are the issues that matter most to people.

We are focused like a laser on making sure we improve peoples' lives because people are wondering who are -- when they're -- when they're making a choice in November of next year, just as they made choices in November of last year, they're asking the basic question, "Who has my back?"

And what they've seen over the course of this presidency is that this president has a knife in their back. Democrats have their back on the key issues and that's what is so important to --

BERMAN: So, turn it --

PEREZ: -- the American people.

BERMAN: It sounds to me like you're saying turn the discussion to policy and to issues, not necessarily to the president's character?

PEREZ: The distractions of this president are endless.

The number one issue in America for voters is health care. Last week, they went to court trying to absolutely eliminate the Affordable Care Act. They want to accomplish in court what they couldn't accomplish in Congress, which is to make it harder for people to have access to health care.

You would think if that's the number one issue confronting voters that his Twitter feed would reflect that, but his Twitter feed is all about distractions.

The 2018 distraction was caravans. That didn't work. Voters saw through it.

The 2020 distraction is what you see now -- these incredibly divisive and racist --

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: -- efforts to divide our nation along racial lines. And the American people see through that.

This is conduct unbecoming a president. It's conduct unbecoming anybody in this country. Voters see through it. Voters are tired of it.

Stop tweeting, Mr. President. Start governing. Start bringing people together. But he doesn't have the capacity to do that.

And so many people are suffering right now.

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: I'm in Wisconsin at the moment. Dairy farmers are taking it on the chin here. They have -- the highest --


PEREZ: -- foreclosure rate among dairy farmers in the nation is here in Wisconsin.

And he was here recently, literally a week or so ago, saying, you know, it -- things -- they've gotten over the hump here in dairy land, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

BERMAN: One of the things -- one of things we've heard --

PEREZ: And so, we're here talking about the truth.

BERMAN: And I think there are some members of Congress -- Democratic members of Congress who agree with you. Some of them have spoken to Jake Tapper, saying they'd rather focus on issues than character.

One has said, "The president has won this one," of the debate this week. "What the president has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks" -- talking about those four Democratic members of Congress the president attacked -- "and the president has not identified the entire party with them."

Do you feel that these four women are somehow a liability for your party?

PEREZ: No. These four women and everyone in our Democratic caucus reflects the remarkable rich diversity of the Democratic Party. Our diversity is our greatest strength. Our unity is our greatest strength and our unity is Donald Trump's

worst nightmare. We saw it in 2018 where we won elections at scale -- historic victories --


PEREZ: -- not only in the congressional races but in State House races, governors, state legislatures, and that momentum continues.

And again, when you can't fight the battle on the merits of the issues, like health care and bringing down the cost prescription drugs -- where's his infrastructure bill? It's nonexistent because he doesn't want to talk about that -- you try to distract.

And voters are both sick and tired of this. They want a president who is competent, they want a president they can be proud of, and this president is none of the above. He's patently ineffective.