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Biden Warns about Debate; Judge Blocks Asylum Restrictions; North Korea Fires Missiles; Clippers' Owner Fired Up; GOP Parroted Hannity. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 25, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:298] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Former Vice President Joe Biden is previewing new lines of attack -- attacks against his Democratic rivals. This is ahead of next week's CNN debates. Biden told the crowd at a fundraiser in Detroit last night, I'm not going to be as polite this time.

What does that mean? Hmm?

Let's ask Joe Lockhart and Kaitlan Collins. Also joining us now, CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck.

Joe, not as polite this time. What does that mean?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think a little bit of this was just putting the other candidates on notice that if they come after him, he's ready this time.

I -- it's -- I do think the fight he wants to have, though, and I think he will pick it with Kamala Harris' on Medicare for all. I think this is an issue -- this is why I'm -- I'm a little disappointed with the draw that you don't have either Sanders or Warren on the same stage because this is going to be a central right of whether -- and Medicare for all has to be described. It's, you know, what Warren and Sanders and Kamala Harris sometimes have been for is abolishing private insurance. Biden is itching for that fight.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you know how I know you're right that it's the fight he wants to have? Because he already started having it.


BERMAN: He's already started this attack.

Let's listen to what he said. He doesn't mention Senator Harris by name, but he's clearly alluding to her when he is speaking about Medicare for all.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you've got to find $30 trillion to $40 trillion somewhere. And how are you going to do it? Well, I find the people who say they're for Medicare for all, but they're not going to tax the middle class because you don't need to do that. Come on. I mean, what is this, is this a fantasy world here?


BERMAN: Fantasy world, Rebecca.

And -- when people are five days before the debate, I often start thinking, we are seeing some of the debate prep come to light here. So I'm wondering if we hear more about fantasy world next week.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely. This is all very intentionally by Joe Biden. Obviously a change from his last debate performance. This is no more Mr. Nice Guy Joe Biden.

But he does feel -- I agree with you, Joe, he does feel that this is beneficial turf for him to be fighting this war on. Health care is the number one issue for voters in this election, even in the Democratic primary. Medicare for all is going to be a key fight of this election. I -- he's even excited to have is the fight with Cory Booker about policing, about criminal justice reform.

Joe Biden is wanting to run this race as the moderate candidate. He's making the case that that is going to be the most beneficial to Democrats in the general election. And so in so much as he can show that through these policy fights, I think he's ready for that. He's excited for that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But also the knives are really starting to come out here because you saw that some candidates were afforded a boost by going after Joe Biden in that last debate. So now they know to prepare because a lot of other people are going to try to capitalize on that moment that really did boost Kamala Harris. So you're going to see other candidates try to take that same tactic. Cory Booker's already trying to do it. So I think Joe Biden is just essentially getting prepared for whatever is going to come his way.

BUCK: And now he's ready. Now he's ready. He was clearly taken aback by Kamala in that first debate. I think this time you're going to see a much more aggressive, much more prepared Joe Biden. At least that's what his campaign is hoping for.

CAMEROTA: And as John has said, it's already starting to happen.

So let's listen to what Senator Cory Booker has said yesterday I believe about Joe Biden and how he plans, it sounds like, to be critical of him about his crime bill past.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now that he's unrolled this -- unveiled his -- his crime bill, for a guy who helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country.


CAMEROTA: So, Joe, before you respond to that, here is how Joe Biden seems to be responding. He said about attacks like that, I'm not going to be as polite this time because this is the same person who asked me to come to California and nominate her in the convention. That's obviously about Senator Kamala Harris. If they want to argue about the past, I can do that. I got a past I'm proud of. They've got a past that's not quite so good.

[06:35:18] BERMAN: You know, in fact, the vice president, I believe we have this sound, goes right after Cory Booker and his record as mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Listen.

CAMEROTA: Let's hear that.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To look at the mayor's record in Newark, one of the provisions I wrote in the crime bill added (ph) a practice (ph) of misbehavior, his police department was stopping and frisking people, mostly African-American men. We took action against them. The Justice Department took action against them and held the police department accountable.


CAMEROTA: All right. There you go.

So, Joe, he is going after Kamala Harris, though he's using the pronoun "they" and -- and what you hear there about Cory Booker.

LOCKHART: Yes, I -- I expect there to be less fireworks between Harris and Biden and more fireworks between Booker and Biden. Booker needs to be relevant. He's -- he's -- he's nowhere in the polls. And I think it's hard for him because he wants to be positive. That's his brand. But he's got to get in this race and I think he'll -- he will go.

But I think they all go after Biden at their own peril because particularly older African-Americans who are reliable voters have an enormous amount of good will towards Biden. They know him much better than they know Cory Booker or Kamala Harris. Not that they can't do well eventually. And going after them in a -- gong after Biden in sort of a gratuitous way I think actually could backfire on them and could solidify (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Well, that's what I find so interesting about Joe Biden in his direct comments about Senator Harris, her record, and Cory -- Senator Booker's record on issues of race in civil rights.


BERMAN: You could look at that and say, it's risky for a 76-year-old white guy to be going after two African-American senators on issues of race. But he feels comfortable, perhaps, Rebecca, because of what Joe's talking about, his long relationship. BUCK: He does. And I think he recognizes now, relative to the last

debate, that he does need to engage with these rifles. He can't just go in as the elder statesman. He can't just stay above the fray. He really needs to engage and defend his record.

But I think there is a risk here also for Joe Biden. There's a risk in the other candidates going after Joe Biden. But I think there might be a bigger risk for Joe Biden punching back, playing their game, because he is so well-liked right now, but you can start to see his favorability slip if he goes after these candidates in a way that isn't strategic.

LOCKHART: Yes. And that's why I think a lot of what you're going to see in the lead up to the debate is conditioning. And you may not see quite as an aggressive Biden on the debate stage. But he's -- it's sort of -- he's -- it's a little bit of a brush pass (ph) pitch to several of his rivals.

CAMEROTA: One topic that always ranks as number one for Republicans, not as much for Democrats, but is certainly in the collective consciousness right now is immigration. And President Trump just got a defeat from a California federal judge who blocked the president's latest asylum directive whereby a refugee would have to apply for asylum outside of the U.S., if they were transiting through a second country, they wouldn't be able to come to the U.S. until they had already done that and the judge said that that doesn't work.

COLLINS: Yes, a defeat in California. A win in a court in D.C. The question is, of course, they're likely going to appeal this going forward. But you're seeing this ongoing struggle that the administration is having. They're still trying to carry out policies that they tried since day one essentially with the president at DHS. They're just trying to do it in a different way. But now they're facing all this upheaval, of course, with the leadership at DHS. There are so many knives out there, it's kind of hard to know which direction to look in. But as they are making these asylum fights, essentially how they feel the west wing is that they're doing what the president has wanted since day one. Whether or not it's going to be effective and be successful in court is another question, but they are seeing this widespread frustration just with the Ninth Circuit Court or certain courts that they feel are like the only ones that are holding the president back from getting these asylum rules, these changes that he wants.

BERMAN: And even if they lose in court or delay it in court, what they get is the political -- the political play to the base, which is --

COLLINS: Which is exactly what they got with the ICE raids.

BERMAN: Right.

COLLINS: Where the president was tweeting that, you know, so many -- hundreds of thousands of people were going to be deported and then, of course, ICE confirmed only 35 people ended up being deported as part of those raids. But it's the messaging strategy that works for the president and we see it when we speak to voters on the campaign trail, when we're out with him at rallies where they say actually he's doing what we want on this, even though if you look at the numbers, they're not that much different.

LOCKHART: And I think that what he's hoping is the Democrat will try to outdo each other on who can be the most lenient for the border so he can make this case that Democrats are for open borders. That -- you know, a lot got -- the Kamala Harris/Biden exchange got a lot of the attention from the first debate. But really on that first night the Democrats were sort of leaning, you know, very --

COLLINS: On decriminalizing.

LOCKHART: On decriminalizing and that -- that plays into Trump's strategy.

CAMEROTA: All right, thank you all very much for all of those insights.

[06:40:01] There are also more provocations from North Korea after they have fired two more missiles. So we'll tell you why South Korea feels this is new type of threat we're seeing.


CAMEROTA: North Korea fired two short range missiles overnight and South Korean officials say one of them is a new type of threat.

CNN's Will Ripley has been to North Korea 19 times. He joins us live with the latest developments.

What have you learned, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you listen to President Trump at the Demilitarized Zone when he met with Kim Jong-un and stepped into North Korea, he said this kind of missile really isn't much of a threat because it's not an ICBM that can hit the mainland U.S. But South Korea feels very differently.

These missiles that were launched from the coastal city of Juansan (ph), it's a place I've visited before. It's where North Korea often launches missiles. You know, one of them flew more than 400 miles into the waters off the Korean peninsula. The other flew just under 300 miles. And these are missiles that could potentially carry nuclear warheads, putting tens of millions of people in South Korea and, by the way, 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there in the line of fire.

[06:45:02] This raises a question, what is North Korea doing right now? Just a couple of days ago, they released these images of Kim Jong-un standing by a new, larger submarine that could potentially also carry submarine-launched ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads. North Korea trying to display its military capabilities that seem to be growing as diplomacy has hit a standstill. There are a lot of questions right now about what is going to happen after Trump and Kim pledge to resume working level negotiations. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not expected to meet with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho (ph), in Bangkok next week. And, in fact, this test was conducted, John, when National Security Adviser John Bolton was in South Korea meeting with officials there. And, of course, the North Koreans don't like to see Bolton anywhere on the peninsula.

Could this have been a message to the Trump administration? Undoubtedly. Where we go from here? Unclear.

BERMAN: Yes, few coincidences when it comes to timing for North Korea when they test things. And all of this is happening even as the president continues to praise and tout his relationship with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.

Will Ripley, thank you very much for your reporting.

So, have you ever seen a billionaire get really, really excited? Well, you are about to. And, really, it's an understatement. "Bleacher Report" is next.


[06:50:15] BERMAN: Steve Ballmer has a lot of money and even more excitement this morning. The Los Angeles Clippers owner, he went bonkers, frankly, yesterday while introducing his new stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

I can understand why.

Coy Wire here with the "Bleacher Report."


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Your fellow Harvard alum might be the most pumped up billionaire on the planet, the former Microsoft CEO worth over $52 billion according to Forbes. You could tell he loves being the owner of the Clippers. Always on the sideline fist pumping, hardly able to contain himself at times. And that was the case yesterday when he introduced his new stars.



STEVE BALLMER, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I have these notes, but I got to say, I'm just fired up to be here today. It's pretty cool! Pretty damn cool! Whoo! Come on! Come on! Come on! Get up!


WIRE: He was so excited. He didn't even know was he supposed to high five or bro hug Kawhi Leonard. It turned into this fun, slightly awkward moment on social media that, as you can imagine, people had fun with.

Now, let's go to the Yankees. Edward Encarnacion been lighting it up for the pinstripes since being traded from Seattle last month. The 36- year-old pulling off his trademark move, walking the parrot after smashing his 30th home run of the season in last night's win over the Twins. He's now fifth in the league for homers. And his teammates, check this out, go on Amazon and decide to get him a stuffed parrot doll so he doesn't have to walk that invisible parrot anymore.

Then he saves a seat for the new parrot on his team's charter plane on the way back. Alisyn, no word yet on what the name will be, but much to Berman's chagrin, I think they're -- I think they're consideration red sox slayer is the new name for the parrot.

BERMAN: That's a dumb name.

CAMEROTA: All right, on that note, thank you. Thank you, Coy.

There's no debate really. There's no follow-up to that.

BERMAN: That's all I can say to that.

CAMEROTA: That's it.

All right, some of the questions from Republican lawmakers to Robert Mueller may have sounded familiar to Fox viewers. How they went from prime time TV to Congress, next.


[06:56:48] CAMEROTA: The Fox TV talking points were on full display at the Mueller hearings on Wednesday. How Republican lawmakers took their cues from Sean Hannity.

John Avlon has been connecting the dots. He has our "Reality Check.'

Hi, John.


Well, look, during the Mueller hearings, it sometimes sounded like Republicans and Democrats were living in different worlds. With the exception of Congressman Will Hurd, Republicans essentially ignored the findings of the Mueller report, preferring to focus instead on alternative facts, half-baked deep state conspiracy theories.

And a perfect example of the Fox Trump feedback loop, it turns out that many of the GOP questions yesterday came straight from Sean Hannity. My former colleagues at "The Daily Beast" picked up on the parroted talking points and it's kind of stunning to see congressmen outsource their oversight of the republic to a right wing opinion host.

But they're not alone because President Trump's not just a devoted Hannity viewer, he's also a part-time publicist telling people to watch a really strong show the night before the Mueller hearings. But Trump had reason to be excited because Hannity was offering up questions for Republicans to ask Mueller despite assuring his audience this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: This is not me telling people what to do.


AVLON: But this show is an irony-free zone and here's part of how Hannity kicked it all off.


HANNITY: If you haven't read the Mueller report, that makes you even more pathetic. And I'm sure there are some of you out there.

I'm going to try and assist, for the American public's sake, because lies, conspiracy theories and a hoax have led most of the media coverage.


AVLON: Hannity then, of course, proceeded to focus on lies and conspiracy theories.

Obligingly, here was former Intel Chair Devin Nunes.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): There is collusion in plain sight. Collusion between Russia and the Democratic Party.


AVLON: That was the opening statement and it got worse from there.

So here's one of Hannity's suggested questions.


HANNITY: Is it fair to say, Mr. Mueller, that you're friends with Jim Comey?


AVLON: And just like a ventriloquist with a dummy on his knee, here's Louie Gohmert of Texas.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): You and James Comey have been good friends or were good friends for a -- for many years, correct?

AVLON: Now, here's a suggested question about Muller aide Andrew Weissman.


HANNITY: Were you aware that Weissman was a devout Democrat who was at Hillary Clinton's victory party? (END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: And here's North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong.


REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Andrew Weissman attended Hillary Clinton's election night party, did you know that?


AVLON: Next up, same guy, different question.


HANNITY: Were you aware that Jeannie Rhee, who worked for you, oh, she worked for Hillary Clinton on the Clinton Foundation as her lawyer?

ARMSTRONG: Are you aware that Ms. Jeannie Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in litigation regarding personal e-mails origining -- originating from Clinton's time as secretary of state?


AVLON: Sometimes the questions were really basic. Here's Hannity.


HANNITY: Does the president have the authority under article two to fire an FBI director? Or even you?


AVLON: And here's the GOP version.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't the president fire the FBI director at any time without reason under Article One of the Constitution?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

Can he also fire you as special counsel at any time without any reason?


AVLON: Now, all of this is a sign of coming attractions. The investigate the investigators gambit. But the GOP seems to care more about the findings of the actual report, because there were virtually no Republican questions dealing with the serious, verified Russian attempts to influence our election to benefit Donald Trump.

It's just the latest sign of how hyper partisanship makes us unable to agree on basic facts, as Republican resist addressing a real and still ongoing national security threat that would have them screaming for impeachment of a Democratic president did it.