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Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Communications Director, is Interviews Abut Trump's Week. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired August 12, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: -- is leaving the church there. Just saying.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Simone Biles is very good at gymnastics.
HILL: This is --
[07:00:07] COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Better than Tom Brady.
BERMAN: At gymnastics? Absolutely. Absolutely.
All right. Coy Wire, thank you very much.
Anthony Scaramucci joins us live. NEW DAY continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Epstein was discovered in his cell here. Sources saying that he died by suicide.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The prison warden, who had to approve of him being taken off of suicide watch, will have to answer to those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president sharing a conspiracy theory linking the Clintons to the death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's whipping people up into anger. What he's doing is dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Presidential hopefuls making their case to Iowans.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have this notion that if you're poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.
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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. I'm John Berman. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me this morning.
Great to have you here.
HILL: Good morning.
BERMAN: And this morning we have what could be a dramatic change of heart from one of the president's longtime allies. Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, at least for a brief period of time, but a long-time defender of his former boss's action in the White House, is now issuing a stark warning to the Republican Party. You may need to find a new candidate in 2020.
HILL: That news coming overnight in an interview with Axios. Scaramucci comparing the Trump presidency to Chernobyl's nuclear disaster. It's just the latest jab after a weekend Twitter war between the two men.
BERMAN: So, what was the tipping point? And is this a sign of things to come when it comes to the president's supporters? Joining me now, Anthony Scaramucci, one-time White House communications director and author of, "Trump, the Blue-Collar President." Anthony, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
All -- with this Axios interview you compared the president to Chernobyl, something of a nuclear meltdown and then you went on to say, "A couple more weeks like this and country over party is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020."
A couple more weeks like this, you say. A couple more weeks like what?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, the last time I was in this chair with you, John, we were talking about the racially-charged rhetoric that led to a whole Twitter nonsense from the president, and obviously, he then left to go to the two shooting areas.
And so, now he comes back from the two shooting areas, that was like a total catastrophe, because the only thing he was doing in those areas was talking about himself and praising himself and crowd sizes.
And so, it just -- one day after the next, it gets worse and worse and worse, and in the meantime, as you know, in a chair like this or inside your studio or elsewhere, I got fired two years ago and have tried to stay very loyal to him and very loyal to the agenda, because I think the policies are very, very good for the American people. But the rhetoric is so charged and so divisive, that we have to all just take a step back now and say what are we doing actually?
So, one thing that I find reprehensible, and the president continues to do this, and I think what will end up happening is, sound and reasonably-minded men and women in the Republican Party will say, "Wait a minute, we can't do this." He is giving people a license to hate, to provide a source of anger to go after each other, and he does it on his Twitter account.
So, let's just stop for a second and think about this. We ignore it, but he goes after people personally. Going after me personally, no problem. I'm a big boy. I can take it. Donny Deutsch can take it, but he goes after individuals as the President of the United States on his Twitter account, OK, which incites hate, which incites death threats.
I mean, at some point, I think the people in my party will have to look at all this stuff and stop being anesthetized to it and say, "Hey, what are we doing?" The policies are great, many of them. The trade war thing is likely going to end up in an unexpected outcome. We can talk about that if you want, but lastly, how are we all tolerating this?
So, to me, I'm just saying, it -- last week, arguably one of the worst weeks in his presidency, and again, I'm not talking about things that happened to him politically from a legislation point of view or things like that, but just from the way he's acting as a human being.
So, to me, a couple more weeks like this, I really do believe there will be a groundswell in the party where people say, "Hey, the policies are great, but you're setting us up the way Jimmy Carter set up the Democratic Party, where they went into the wilderness for 40 years."
So, those are my opinions. I'm very proud to state them. And you know, listen, I mean, if you saw the "Chernobyl" series, it did not end well. So we're in the first two episodes now. Let's see how this thing unfolds.
[07:05:12] BERMAN: Are you calling for a change to the top of the Republican ticket?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I'm calling for it to be considered, yes. I think you have to consider a change at the top of the ticket when someone is acting like this, when someone is that lax intellectual curiosity to take ideas from friends.
Just give you an example. Last week on this show you asked me specifically, do I still support the president? I said that I did. I go on "The Bill Maher Show," I'm asked, do I still support the president? Yes, I do, however the racially-charged comments, the divisive tweeting, the nonsense coming from the president is not helping the country.
And so, if you're in a place in your mind where loyal people to you -- and again, I was fired two years ago. He pointed that out on Twitter. Big deal, blah, blah. I do appreciate the president getting the 11 days right, though, by the way, so thank you, Mr. President.
But, you know, he's out there doing things, and you're trying to give him advice, but he can't listen to anybody. And if you say something that's one or two sentences off the mark of his support. And I would tell his loyalists, loyalty is not blind obedience unless you're supporting a demagogue, OK? BERMAN: Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: And so, you don't want to ever be like that in your life.
BERMAN: Anthony, last week when I asked you if you still supported him, the answer was yes. This morning, when I asked you if you're calling for a change to the top of the ticket, you said it should be considered. So, are you no longer, as of this morning, supporting ...
SCARAMUCCI: I'm in a neutral -- I'm now in a -- I'm a Republican, so I'm not switching parties to support a Democrat. I believe in the values and the policies of the Republican Party, but I'm now neutral on the president.
BERMAN: You're now neutral on the president?
SCARAMUCCI: And let's see how he continues to act. And if he -- oh, absolutely. You have to -- you have to get into a neutral position. And very --
BERMAN: All right, so you are no longer an active --
SCARAMUCCI: -- and very smart-minded people --
BERMAN: -- you are no longer -- and Anthony, I just don't want to pass this by, so people -- you are no longer an active supporter of President Trump and his reelection bid?
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I think that's -- I think that's pretty obvious from over the weekend. I mean, the guy's actually dissembling a little bit, and he's sounding more and more nonsensical. And you know, we're sort of anesthetized to it and people inside of Washington, "Oh yes, that's just President Trump. Just let him act like that." But you know, you're fracturing the institutions and all of the things that the country stands for.
So, that's not worth the economic policies. You know, that's not worth the GDP growth, which by the way, is slowing down and the stock market's exactly where it was a year ago. And I do think you have a bigger problem with the trade war than people think. The Fed is not cutting rates if the economy is doing super well. And so --
BERMAN: So Anthony -- Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: -- so, you've got a combination of things now.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, go ahead, John.
BERMAN: I was going to say, so the one intervening event over the weekend was, you had a Twitter exchange with the president, where he criticized you directly. All the other stuff is stuff we've seen from President Trump for years at this point, from when he was -- before president. So, what changed exactly over the last two days? SCARAMUCCI: You -- you -- you -- OK, so you and Alisyn have often asked me that, and people say, "Well, OK, where's the red line where you break from your support from somebody?" Because remember, loyalty is symmetrical.
SCARAMUCCI: It's not asymmetric. And so -- so what I said to you last week was, "Geez, this is really polarizing. This is very, very divisive. As a supporter of his, I would caution that we not go in this direction."
You brought up stochastic terrorism in our last interview, and I suggested, "OK, I can understand how this charged rhetoric coming from the bully pulpit of the presidency could lead to some unintended tragic consequences." And so, all I said was, I wish the president would stop doing that. One scintilla of criticism, you get this sort of backlash.
And so, for me, it's a combination of factors. He's taking one step too far with the racial charging of his rhetoric and his Twitter feed. And you can say, OK, well the only reason why you're breaking from him now is that he went after you specifically on Twitter, and I'll accept that.
I think that, to me, was a big turning point, because I'm looking at that saying, "Wait a minute. I'm out here supporting him." The guy fired me two years ago. I have been super loyal to this guy, super loyal to the president's agenda. But there's something wrong with the guy as a leader if he can't take constructive criticism or advice from people that have been super loyal to him.
BERMAN: Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: It tells you that there's probably not a lot of listening going on inside the White House, at which point, you know, we have to shine a light on that, and it requires people to be truthful to themselves and truthful to the country over a specific person.
[07:10:09] BERMAN: One of the things -- one of the things you wrote over the weekend was, "Eventually, he turns on everyone, and soon it will be you and then the entire country." What do you mean he could turn on the entire country?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, he has a nihilistic way to his personality, so the minute you say something he doesn't like, he figures that he can intimidate you like a bully. You know, I mean, John, where in American history or in our movies or in our culture does the bully win?
You know, so to me, this gruff, intimidating, bullying nonsense, strong people have to get together and call it out for what it is. And so -- so that's where I stand on this. And I tried to stay loyal to him, but you can't be loyal to somebody that, again, is asymmetric in his loyalty. And so, the people know that. I mean, the overwhelming flood of texts, phone conversations and
support last night from people that are actually inside the White House, up on Capitol Hill, former elected officials, current people in positions of power, current elected officials, is truly staggering. And so, I think if we break through as a group --
BERMAN: Who? Can you -- can you give us any -- can you give us any names? Can you give us any names or characterize the types of people who called and supported you?
SCARAMUCCI: John -- John, it's not fair, but at some point these people will have the courage to speak up on their own. OK? You know, somebody said to me last night, why -- and there are detractors, too. I want to be very balanced here. Why did I leak something to Axios? I'm like, I didn't leak anything to Axios --
BERMAN: That was on the record.
SCARAMUCCI: -- I just put a name on it. It's a totally different thing --
BERMAN: So Anthony, the reason I was asking who and to name names, it is --
SCARAMUCCI: It's totally on the record.
BERMAN: -- I'm trying to get a sense of, obviously you're not an elected official, but who do you think you --
SCARAMUCCI: I think it's important for people to speak for themselves.
BERMAN: Who do you think you represent? Who do you think you represent? Who are the Anthony Scaramuccis of the world here? What type of Republican or Trump supporter do you think now is vulnerable?
SCARAMUCCI: I think -- I think there's a very large group of people that are thinking about this from an intellectual point of view that are marrying policy to country. The origin of the country, what the country stands for, why we have the first name "United," and they're stepping back and saying, "OK, wait a minute. This is way too divisive." OK, he is the commander in chief, and he's supposed to represent everybody.
And so, when he's going in a direction of being this divisive and using this type of rhetoric, again, using your words, stochastic terrorism, and things like, you've got to stop and say, wait a minute, if you can't take any advice from your friends and you're siloed in, you just, you know, random tweet storming people, to me it doesn't make any sense.
And so, I know there's a lot of smart, rational Republicans and there's a lot of smart, rational people in the party that will say, "OK, wait a minute, it's starting to be more unhinged every single day." And so --
BERMAN: You --
SCARAMUCCI: -- last week to me was a turning point. You'll say it was because he tweeted at me, but --
BERMAN: I didn't say that. I was --
SCARAMUCCI: -- we were talking about this a week ago.
BERMAN: The White House -- the White House is saying it's cause he tweeted at you.
SCARAMUCCI: Oh, you suggested.
BERMAN: I asked about it. The White House says --
BERMAN: -- someone had his feelings hurt.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I --
BERMAN: It sounds like he had his feelings hurt. That's what the White House says. I was merely relaying that.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, exactly. I don't -- hey, John -- John, I need this aggravation like a hole in my head. OK? I love my country. I don't have my feelings hurt. Trust me, I got fired, didn't get my feelings hurt, dusted myself off, went right back to work, and I supported the president.
BERMAN: So, actually -- well, OK, let me ask about supporting the president -- do you regret --
SCARAMUCCI: But, we're in a place now where there's 15 months to go -- go ahead.
BERMAN: Do you regret -- do you regret your years of support for President Trump as you sit here this morning?
SCARAMUCCI: No, absolutely not, because what the president did and I think his value to our society was, he opened the door again for blue- collar workers who felt left out of the economic system and felt left out of the establishment political powers. And so, I give him huge credit for that, frankly, wrote a book about that.
BERMAN: You did. Since you quoted me with the phrase --
SCARAMUCCI: But the divisiveness -- I'm sorry?
BERMAN: Since you quoted me using the phrase -- since you quote me using the phrase "stochastic terror," I want to quote you on Twitter sounding smart. You're quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, and you put out a statement overnight, quoting him --
BERMAN: -- saying, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil." What's the evil here Anthony?
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. There's -- there's a pernicious evil in trying to divide the country. And so, at the end of the day, you know, I'm really a very big-time pragmatic person. I'm not really an ideologue. And so when I step back and look at where we are as a nation, we could be doing so much better than we're doing right now.
We wake up in the morning, we're like, "OK, what's he going to do now? What's he going to say? How is going to say it?" And in the beginning, it was sort of entertaining. And in the beginning, you're like, OK, there's real change needed in Washington. So hopefully, this will provide some level of disruption.
[07:15:19] But now we're at the point where we're like, "OK, what is this all about? Is this about the country? Is this about the individual?" See, if it's about the individual, that's not really how the country got set up. I mean, that's why when we set up --
BERMAN: When you use phrases like evil --
SCARAMUCCI: -- the separation of powers --
BERMAN: -- when you use phrases like evil and quoting Bonhoeffer and using words like "evil" and talking about dangerous, it sounds like you are saying, Anthony, that the President of the United States is a threat to the security of the United States. Is that what you're saying?
SCARAMUCCI: I -- I would -- let's watch how this unfolds. I think that is starting to happen, John. And as I said to Jonathan Swan last night, if he continues like this over the next three or four weeks, it is a responsibility of people in the Republican Party, OK, to say, "Hey, man, you know, we may need to put a relief pitcher in here. You pitched six strong innings, but you're -- you know, you're throwing it up against the backstop now."
So -- and I really believe that. And so, let's see what happens. I'm a loyal Republican, and I've tried to be loyal to him, but let's face it. I mean, he's gone off the rails, and so we just have to call for what it is.
BERMAN: Do you have a candidate that you're considering supporting for president in 2020 at this point?
SCARAMUCCI: Let's -- let's watch how this unfolds. The filing deadlines aren't until November. There's a lot of ambitious politicians out there that could look at this and say, "This is an opportunity to state and reframe the Republican Party for the future and call on the values of the Republican Party of individualism and inclusiveness." It's not just the economic policies. It's the values of that spirit of freedom.
And right now, you've got a bunch of nonsense going on, where if you disagree with the guy for one second, he flips out on you. And people know inside the White House that you can't really talk to him. He doesn't take any advice from anybody. And he's beating to his own drum, and people are trying to work around him at this point. And it's a disaster, to use his own words. What you've got going on right now is a complete and unmitigated disaster.
So -- so, let's see how it goes over the next three or four weeks. If he continues with the nonsense, trust me, there's a lot of ambitious people in the country. Someone will poke their head up and say, "Hey, there is an alternative to this sort of stuff. It's a Republican alternative, and it's one steeped in the values and the traditions of the United States, not this sort of stuff."
BERMAN: Anthony Scaramucci, you may want to step away from your phone and Twitter account today. I think it will be an interesting place.
SCARAMUCCI: No, it's all good. I mean, hey, it's all good. You know, you can come after me all day. I get all that stuff and the robots. And he's going to, you know -- but, you're not going to bully me. I mean, come on man. I grew up in the same neighborhood. You're not going to bully a guy like me.
BERMAN: You're not running for president?
SCARAMUCCI: Let's just call it what it is, and let's --
BERMAN: Are you running for president?
SCARAMUCCI: Let's see if we -- am I -- I'm running for re-election in my marriage, John, OK? And I'm on like a one-day term, OK, so I'm not -- I'm not running for president. I just want to stay married.
SCARAMUCCI: But I do love my country, and I think people have to pay attention to what is going on. And they've got to say, "OK, wait a minute, we've got to break" -- remember when the water got thrown on the green witch and she started melting. What happened to all those soldiers, right?
I mean, they're in that position right now. So let's throw some water on the green witch, and let's watch what the soldiers do, which is they'll team up with Dorothy. I mean, that's how the movies go. Let's end the bullying, and let's end this sort of nonsense.
BERMAN: To be clear, they sang, "Ding dong, the witch is dead," I think is exactly how they handled the death of the green witch.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, exactly. But you know, when she gets -- they're all behind her until she gets hit with the water. Then she starts melting, and they're like, "Hey, Dorothy, I'm sorry about that. You know, she was a little crazy, but now that she's melted, I can speak the truth." You know, that sort of thing.
BERMAN: All right, Anthony. We're going to go now, as we're getting into the end of "The Wizard of Oz." We do appreciate you being with us this morning and speaking your mind. I do think it is an important day, as you are no longer, as of this moment, a supporter of President Trump for re-election. Thank you for coming on NEW DAY this morning. We look forward to speaking to you again.
SCARAMUCCI: Hey, it's good to -- good to be here.
BERMAN: All right, thanks, Anthony.
HILL: There's a lot to process there. By the way, I think it was the Munchkins who sang, "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead."
BERMAN: Oh, they did.
HILL: Just so we're clear.
BERMAN: One of the people in the -- they, like, came to Dorothy and they thanked her, right?
HILL: Yes. I mean, I think they're pretty happy with her at the end of the day.
BERMAN: I'm sorry about offending the Munchkins.
HILL: It's fine. We'll get into that. And we'll also talk about whether Republicans would actually consider a GOP challenger to the president, as Mr. Scaramucci is suggesting maybe in the next three to four weeks they should consider. There's a lot to unpack there. Stay with us.
[07:24:00] HILL: You heard it right here on NEW DAY just moments ago. Former White House communications director, long-time defender of President Trump, now saying his former boss may not be the best choice for Republicans in 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Are you calling for a change at the top of the Republican ticket?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I'm calling for it to be considered, yes. I think you have to consider a change at the top of the ticket when someone is acting like this. When someone is that lax of intellectual curiosity to take ideas from friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Let's bring in now David Chalian, CNN political director; Jeff Zeleny, CNN senior Washington correspondent; and Kaitlan Collins, CNN White House correspondent. There was a lot to take in there, to put it mildly.
David, when you look at this, though, we have him saying, "Listen, we should think about a change at the top of the ticket." And looking at that very seriously, he says, "Well, you know, in the next three to four weeks, let's see." Wouldn't name names.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. HILL: The reality of that actually happening is --
CHALIAN: Right. We should talk both about the significance of this --
CHALIAN: -- and the non-significance of this. Right? I mean, totally significant that somebody who was this loyal to the president, in a very public way, breaks from him. We haven't seen much of that, despite lots of calls for that throughout the last two and a half years. This is a pretty significant break.
To -- for Scaramucci to say something like Trump is a pernicious evil that is trying to divide the country, I don't know how he squares that with then not regretting his support for the president. He'll have to further explain that. But that's significant.
What is not significant is Anthony Scaramucci's weight with the Republican Party. Right? When you see that 90 percent of Republicans continue to support this president, is Anthony Scaramucci going to be trusted by those people as the way to go in the Republican Party more than the president? All evidence suggests no, that the president has a pretty secure lock on a significant portion of the base inside the Republican Party.
BERMAN: And look. It's interesting. If you chart where Scaramucci has been, up until last weekend, we had him on. He was still adamant that he's a supporter of the president. Now this morning, no longer a supporter, Kaitlan.
And one thing he has said to us, even before today, is he has been speaking with people, former White House officials, former cabinet staffers. He says current, as well, who are near the same place he is.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And that's what he claims. He says he's gotten a wealth of support, he says, in the form of messages and phone calls since he got into this feud with the president just over this weekend from not only lawmakers, he said, but also from the president's allies. And he said people inside the White House. Meaning people who still work there right now, saying that they agree with him.
That's what's interesting about this, because he's saying, essentially, this is the straw that broke the camel's back. And this is just too far for him and the comments he's making, the racially- charged tweets, the divisive comments. He said that's just too much. And the way the president conducted himself at the scenes of these two mass shootings.
It's kind of the opposite inside the White House, based on people we've spoken with. It's the more and more things that the president does where people just kind of shake their hands, don't -- shrug their shoulders, don't know what to do. But it becomes more muted. Because the more things the president does, the less of a crazy reaction within the White House. Because they're like, "Well, we weathered when he made these comments about Charlottesville, so we can get through this." It's seen as that, instead of Scaramucci had so many things that it's now leading him to not support the president.
HILL: It's interesting, too. You mention Charlottesville. We should point out, today is the two-year anniversary --
HILL: -- of Charlottesville. And obviously, the comments from the president that came later.
I'm not sure if Jeff Zeleny is still with us. I know we were having some trouble with his signal. There he is.
I'm glad to see you, my friend. As we're looking at all of this, right, and this conversation that Anthony Scaramucci has now started about, in his words, earlier, it may be time for a relief pitcher. But not being specific at all about a candidate, who it would be. I imagine that's going to get a little bit of a reaction. And there may have been some over the weekend with his comments, as well, there in Iowa, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, there's no question that there is some concern among Republicans about what the president is going to say or what he's going to do.
But the reality here is I cannot even imagine a credible Republican candidate wanting to step up and put their hat in the ring here. You know, Republicans on Capitol Hill and across the country have been afraid to speak out against the president, have been afraid to vote against the president. Certainly, running against him would be, you know, a different matter entirely here.
So Anthony Scaramucci certainly represents, I guess, one view inside the party. But one of the biggest accomplishments that President Trump has had, I think, is consolidating the Republican and conservative base.
And as David was saying earlier, 90 percent of Republicans support him. So I do not see that changing at all.
And the reality is Anthony Scaramucci, you know, speaks for some. But voters out in Trump country, if you will, like the president. And I don't see that changing at all. And gosh, I mean, I think the list is very short of people who would be brave enough, if you will, to run against him.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jeff is totally right about the public facing aspect of this and what Republican lawmakers will say publicly about the president. They're going to dismiss Anthony Scaramucci, of course, and say, "Oh, you know, what he says isn't what we believe."
Behind the scenes, there are a lot of Republican lawmakers, though, who do criticize the president and who do say things like what Scaramucci is saying there. So that's what's interesting about this. Talking about the tweets, peddling conspiracy theories. The way he conducts himself at the scenes of mass shootings. That actually something that is a conversation people have in Washington. A lot of the times, a lot of people who publicly support the president say things like that privately.
BERMAN: It's interesting. Anthony did call it the worst week of the Trump presidency. And the framing of it, David, is something that Joe Biden has very much tried to frame it as over the last several weeks -- in fact, since he jumped into the campaign with his comments about Charlottesville, saying the president, you know, he's using the words evil and dangerous and threat to the country. That's what Joe Biden has been trying to do in this campaign. Sometimes with success, like his entry into the race and then last week when he gave this speech in Iowa.
But then over the weekend, there have been more -- some people call them lapses. Some people call them gaffes. Misstatements. And all the articles this morning as you wake up about Joe Biden's weekend on the stump in Iowa has been that he's been having this trouble.