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CNN RIGHT NOW
Trump Speaks On Talks Over Looming Debt Ceiling Crisis; Trump Renews Attacks On Rep. Omar, Praises Rally Crowd; CNN: Trump Took Heat From Allies, Daughter Over Racist Chants; This Very Moment 50 Years Ago: Apollo 11 Goes To Dark Side; Dems To Press Mueller On Five Areas Of Potential Trump Obstruction; Was Hope Hicks Truthful To Lawmakers About Hush Money?; Warren And Sanders To Face Off, Battle Moderate Candidates; Biden To Face Off With Booker And Harris, Two Of His Recent Critics. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired July 19, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Obama put $10 trillion. It doubled the debt. It was at 10, it went to 20, went to even above 20. And some of it is attributed to him even that I assumed.
So, when they start talking about using the debt ceiling as a wedge to negotiate for things that they want, they have told me very strongly they would never use that. That's a very, very sacred thing in our country, debt ceiling. We can never play with it. So I would have to assume we're in great shape.
But just remember also, the previous administration doubled the debt in our country. You take all of the presidents that came before, doubled the debt from there. That's a pretty big statement. And certainly it's a big statement to be talking about for that party to be talking about using the debt ceiling. And I don't think they are. It's been mentioned, but I don't think they are. I don't think anybody would want to play that card. Steve (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boris Johnson, it looks like he's going to be the next British prime minister? What do you think about him?
TRUMP: I like him. I like Boris Johnson. Boris -- I spoke to him yesterday. I think he's going to do a great job. I think we're going to have a great relationship. I think they've done a very poor job with Brexit. I think the previous prime minister has done a very bad job with Brexit. What can I say? I mean, it's a disaster.
And it shouldn't be that way. I think Boris will straighten it out. I like Boris Johnson, I always have. He's a different kind of a guy, but they say I'm a different kind of a guy, too. We get along well. I think we'll have a very good relationship. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump, on Japan and Korea, since you just went (ph) on there, there's some ongoing tension.
TRUMP: Yes, there is ongoing tension between Japan and Korea. In fact, the president of Korea asked me if I could get involved. I said, how many things do I have to get involved in. I'm involved in North Korea on helping you. I'm involved in so many things.
We just did a trade deal, a great trade deal with South Korea, but he tells me that they have a lot of friction going on now with respect to trade, primarily with respect to trade. And Japan has some things that South Korea wants. And he asked me to get involved.
So maybe if they would both want me to, I'll be -- it's like a full- time job, getting involved between Japan and South Korea. But I like both leaders. I like President Moon and you know how I feel about Prime Minister Abe. He's a very special guy also.
So if they need me, I'm there. Hopefully they can work it out, but they do have tension, there's no question about it. Trade tension, OK? Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
BRIANNA KEILA, CNN HOST: All right, the President there in the Oval Office talking about a number of topics from the debt ceiling, to the freed rapper, ASAP Rocky, and of course this controversy that started with his racist tweets about four congresswomen of color.
I want to get to Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, just sort of dissect what he said because this is a little different than what we heard yesterday. Yesterday he was distancing himself from the chant in North Carolina, the send her back chant. He said he didn't like it.
He lied and said that he tried to move on quickly, he didn't. He actually let it kind of fill the room for 15 seconds. But today he deflected questions about the chants and then he praised the crowd. It seems like he might be concerned that he could be upsetting supporters.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're seeing the President strike a much more defiant tone than what we saw yesterday in the Oval Office when he was saying he didn't know what those -- his supporters were chanting, that he tried to shut it down.
Instead today he's focusing on the congresswoman, saying he doesn't like what they have been saying and he stood up for his supporters in North Carolina at that rally on Wednesday night, calling them patriots and talking about them and then saying he's very displeased with what people like Representative Ilhan Omar have said, the comments they've made.
He calls her a disgrace to this country. He said he didn't like that she said she was going to be a nightmare for the President, something she repeated at a town hall in Minnesota last night, saying that she was going to be a nightmare for him because she found his policies to be a nightmare for her and the people that she represents.
So you're seeing this brawl between them continue out now for five days, this back-and-forth between the two of them that is going on after we had reporting that Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence among others had urged the President to back off that chant, to distance himself from it. And today you're hearing a very different tone from the President on that.
He also spoke about Iran now that Iran is denying that the U.S. downed one of its drones, something the President announced here at the White House yesterday. The President said that the U.S. is confident. It was an Iranian drone that they downed and even had his National Security Advisor John Bolton speak to that effect and say the same.
That's interesting as well because we know that there's been some back and forth between the President and John Bolton where there's been on different pages when it comes to Iran, when it comes to other issues on national -- on the national security front.
[13:05:06] So it does seem to be significant that he asked him to speak there and back him up on this as those tensions are escalating in the Persian Gulf.
On ASAP Rocky, that's the rapper who's been detained in Sweden, and the President said actually it was Melania Trump, the First Lady, who brought that to his attention. And she even said a few words there in the Oval Office as well where she said they are working with the State Department, having conversations about having him freed after he was involved in this alleged assault in Sweden.
But the President didn't seem to have a much to offer on that front. He just said it's something they're having conversations about behind closed doors.
KEILAR: A virtual grab bag of topics as always is the case. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you so much.
One of the other things that he said, he talked about his comments on the debt, worth noting that the U.S. national debt under President Trump has actually increased by a considerable amount. It's a $22 trillion, up $2 trillion in President Donald Trump's presidency.
You'll notice a pattern with the President. He says he didn't like the chants when he clearly had no problem with them. It brings back a few memories, like the lock her up chants that were aimed at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. In July of 2016, Trump said that he didn't like those either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I started talking about Hillary Clinton, the veterans who saw her 24 hours before started screaming lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. And I said don't do that. You know, I didn't do that for any reason. I really -- I didn't like it. And they stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: No. No, they didn't. This was last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And you might remember when he said this in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK. Just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees, I promise. I promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: When a Trump supporter actually acted on that advice, the campaign was very quick to say that they never meant it.
Shermichael Singleton is a Republican strategist. He was Ben Carlson's chief of staff at HUD until he was fired by the White House after the discovery of an old op-ed he's written that was critical of President Trump. And also with us is CNN's Michael Warren.
So, Shermichael, this chant, what do you make of what the President is now saying, because he seemed yesterday really to distance himself. He seems really concerned that he might be ticking off some supporters who he was actually encouraging at the rally. And it makes me wonder then now that he's not discouraging it if this could become a staple at these events.
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think this is lock her up 2.0 but racially fused. I'm not surprised that today he's all of a sudden backing away from this. When I first heard his first remarks, I could not imagine Donald Trump in an arena with his supporters saying deport her or send her away and all of a sudden Donald Trump would say wait a minute, that's not the American thing to do. So I'm not surprised by this.
I think for Donald Trump, he doesn't really have room to expand his support within elected -- within registered voters, I should say. So for him it ultimately comes down to can I maximize turnout with my 35 percent to 40 percent of supporters that I have. And he has to figure out every single way to possibly do this, but I think there's a miscalculation here on President Trump's part.
When you look at some of those key battleground states that he won in 2016, he won by very, very slim margins. Hillary Clinton did see a decrease in turnout with key constituents such as African-Americans. There is no guarantee that we will see a repeat of 2016, and I think by ginning up racial tensions, he could do something that could backfire and hurt his re-election bid.
KEILAR: And that -- I mean, that is the sort of tight rope act he's walking, right? And we have some reporting, Michael, from yesterday that Ivanka -- or about what happened yesterday when he back pedaled, that Ivanka Trump actually expressed some concerns to her dad about the chants and that is then when we saw him back pedal on it, but now today. So how do you make sense of this rock and a hard place that he's between?
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, you know, the President often feels things out. It was a moment and that he felt that it was moment. People were talking about it on television and a lot of Republican members were sort of withholding their judgment or coming out and saying, look, we disagree with what Ilhan Omar says, with what the squad says, but this was a bridge too far.
And I think the President often tries to measure the temperature of his audience. And he's trying to figure that out and we're seeing it in real time. It is interesting, and I think Shermichael is right about the President sort of strategy to maximize turnout among his base.
But, you know, there are a lot of Republicans who are trying to win over those swing voters that maybe have already been turned off by President Trump in some of these House races that they lost in 2018.
[13:10:02] I was just speaking with a Republican strategist who said this could be in a sort of perverse way, an opportunity for a Republican House candidate to put some distance between themselves and the President, particularly one who's not an incumbent right now, and who can really try to reach out to those voters and say that's not who I'm about, vote for me.
KEILAR: Hugh Hewitt, who's a prominent conservative commentator, he thinks that the chants are bad politically, that this is political suicide. He tweeted this, "Send her back is a nativist, terrible chant. Also electoral suicide. There are more than 400,000 naturalized residents in Pennsylvania, with 200,000 more in Michigan. Donald Trump won PA by and Michigan by 11K, PA by 44K. #VoteHerOut, fine. #SendHerBack, nativist. Catholics, by the way, remember." What do you think?
SINGLETON: I mean, that goes back to my original point that I think 2016 was a very unique -- sort of a political phenomenon if you will that, again, Hillary Clinton was a unique candidate. A lot of people had strong views on her. Again, there's no guarantee that you're going see a repeat of that next year.
And what's so interesting to me about this, and I think, again, another miscalculation from the President, when you look at AOC or even Rep. Omar, Ilhan Omar, when you look at their favorability in key electoral states, it's extremely low.
And I do think that many voters, if you look at data, sort of do say, OK, these individuals represent the overall Democratic Party. So there's a legitimate case to make on issues that the President is completely avoiding.
KEILAR: I want to ask you real quick about the debt ceiling and just the debt him talking about that there is interesting. We've heard Mark Sanford is floating this idea of maybe running and this is the one issue. You talk about anything else and he brings it back to this. The President, who has seen the debt balloon under him, and P.S. he did not inherit an almost depression like President Obama, is trying to now change the narrative here. He seems maybe weary of that argument.
WARREN: Yes. It's an interesting way and I'm intrigued by Mark Sanford as well if he does decide to actually run for President. It's an interesting entry into talking with Republican voters. Because you've seen from others, people like Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, really the only real challenger to President Trump in the Republican primary not getting very far by criticizing Trump himself. More issues-based criticism, maybe there's a little more potency to that.
SINGLETON: Right. And I would say Axios actually just released an article earlier today that talked about a focus group that they sat down with some folks in a key swing state. And the number one issue for most of those voters was the economy. That's the greatest benefactor of Donald Trump has.
If someone begins to make the case that, hey, the economy maybe doing great for wealthy individuals or folks on Wall Street but not Main Street, I think that's an argument that it would be very difficult for him to argue otherwise. And again, Brianna, we're expecting a possible recession next year. That certainly would not benefit the President.
KEILAR: All right. Michael Warren, Shermichael Singleton, thank you so much for both -- for your analysis from both of you.
So she was the one who is closest to the President, one of the people closest to the President, and now a new revelation shows Hope Hicks may have lied to lawmakers.
And after weeks of defending himself against criticism from Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, Joe Biden will now stand between the two of them in CNN's debate.
But first, as the world gets ready to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, CNN is counting down some of the key moments of that historic mission. Exactly 50 years ago today at this time, the Apollo 11 spacecraft passed completely behind the moon, out of radio contact with earth for the first time during the mission.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were completely cut off from the rest of humanity for about 47 minutes. Here's how Apollo 11's first trip behind the dark side of the moon is captured in the award-winning new CNN film "Apollo 11" which airs tomorrow at 11:00 p.m. here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moon is there, boy, in all its splendor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, moon. How's your back side?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All your systems are looking good. Going around the corner, we'll see you on the other side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loss of signal as Apollo 11 goes behind the moon
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:19:42] KEILAR: We are less than a week out now from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress and now we're learning more about the Democrats' game plan for questioning him on what will be an historic appearance.
We're told that lawmakers will try to challenge Trump's no collusion claim by focusing on his campaigns contacts with Russia and WikiLeaks while zeroing in on five areas of the Mueller report where the President allegedly obstructed justice.
[13:20:05] This includes his efforts to fire Mueller and to tamper with witnesses like former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
National Security Lawyer Bradley Moss is here with us. And Brad, Democrats are banking on the idea that a lot of people haven't read the report but they're going to absorb more of it now watching this hearing. Do you think that's the case?
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY LAWYER: To an extent, yes. I mean, you think about anything. People don't necessarily always read the books. They don't necessarily always read the reports. They watch the movie. They will watch the mini series.
And I think that's what Democrats expect here is that a lot of the juicier parts, a lot of the details of what came out of this 400-page report takes time to, you know, to adjust and takes time to take in.
And so while people may not sit there and read through it like the rest of us did because we're all crazy, they will watch a two or three hour televised hearing. They will catch the sound bites.
And I think the plan of the Democrats has to be -- to avoid the circus, avoid political gamesmanship, focus on the facts, especially on obstruction, because that's where the strongest arguments are in the context of impeachment.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about Hope Hicks, because she testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month and she told Congress multiple times that she was never present for conversations with Trump and Michael Cohen regarding any payments to Stormy Daniels.
However, there's newly unsealed court documents indicating that Hicks spoke with them about it on more than one occasion, so not just once. And now the committee wants her back to clarify. She's standing by her testimony calling it truthful. Do you think she's in trouble?
MOSS: She can be. And here's where the interesting part was. If you look at the press statement that her lawyers put out, they seem to be hanging their hat on the idea of whether or not the subject matter was the hush payments. They're talking all about she was not present and involved in hush payment discussions.
Now, that's not necessarily how limited the questioning was Congress, before Congresswoman Jackson Lee, but I have a feeling just, you know, getting some foreshadowing from how they put out this press statement, that's where they're going to put their defense saying when she heard the question in that testimony, her understanding, her interpretation was they were specifically referencing hush payments.
And she's going to probably say, oh, we talked about Stormy Daniels but I wasn't involved in the conversations where they literally discussed how we're going to silence her with money.
KEILAR: Does that fly?
MOSS: In a court of law, it's anybody's guess. If, you know, would I take that gamble to the Vegas? No. I think she'd lose. But she's also got the President in her back pocket. Lord knows if she actually went down for that, what are the odds that Donald Trump is not going just pardon her?
KEILAR: Very good question. All right, Brad, thank you so much.
KEILAR: The match ups are set for the CNN Democratic debates and two of the most liberal candidates will go head-to-head for the first time. Will Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders target each other?
Plus, one of their Democratic rivals, John Delaney, is going to join me here live and react to a report that his staff, some of his staff asked him to drop out of the race.
[13:27:51] KEILAR: The match up draw is done. The stages are set, and Democratic presidential hopefuls have their schedules for the CNN debates. 20 candidates are divided over two nights. The first round of 10 facing off July 30th and then we'll see the second round of 10 candidates the next night, Wednesday, July 31st.
The co-founder and managing editor for The Beat DC Tiffany Cross here with us along with CNN Political Analyst and White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan as well.
What are you expecting out of this rematch? Because we're going to see it, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden on the stage again. This is the big question.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, everyone needs to get their popcorn and just sit and watch, because it is going to be must-see T.V. The rematch, now this is going to be very strategic on all sides. Those who are under the bar, you know, what is it, 1 percent or above, they're going to probably try to gain some ground by being very provocative.
There's blood in the water for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They'll probably go in on them to get some attention. But then also when it comes to the Kamala Harris and Joe Biden match up, Joe Biden has to be very careful how he attacks her because we're expecting an attack.
How he attacks Kamala Harris because, one, she is a black woman. There is a difference for her to be in this space, this rarefied space. But then he also has to remember, two, the albatross of Anita Hill still hangs on his neck.
For Kamala Harris, she has got to be very careful going after him because she could look like a bully. So, both of them have to go into this being very strategic and how to fight the battle.
Her prosecutorial record, if he goes after her, she will say, look, and this is what she said to me in New Orleans when I did an interview with here. She said, look, my family is a civil rights family. You know, I grew up in civil rights and I understand the dynamic. And that's what she's going to try to fall back on.
KEILAR: He tried in that first debate to say I was a defender. You could tell he was about to go in to take issue with her record as a prosecutor, which is a vulnerability for her.
TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING EDITOR, THE BEAT DC: Right.
KEILAR: And, but I wonder if he'll do that again. He's already shown his cards.
CROSS: I think April has a point, but I do want to say, look, I know there's a lot of attention on Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. But, listen, this is a very serious business.