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Trump, Economic Advisers Downplay Recession Fears; Trump Begins To Backtrack On Tougher Gun Restrictions; Scaramucci Says GOP Is Looking For Viable 2020 Alternative. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:00:00]

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: She's sticking with baseball. She's got no plans switching to softball. -- brutal attack.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: I think that's a good decision based upon what we just saw. Andy, thank you very much.

So a week after he publicly broke with the president on our program, does Anthony Scaramucci think other Republicans will join him and when?

New Day continues right now.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is New Day. And we begin with mixed messages on the economy.

Markets around the world are rebounding as the White House downplays any troubling signs. A new survey out this morning shows 34 percent of economists predict a recession by 2021. That is up nine points from February.

American farmers tell us that they are feeling the brunt of President Trump's trade war as his trade adviser claims tariffs are not hurting anyone in the United States despite research and those firsthand accounts from farmers.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Also this morning, we have important new developments in the battle against gun violence in this country. This morning, the president seems to be backpedaling on the pursuit of meaningful background checks. Those were his words, meaningful background checks.

But now, he says something very, very different. We will play you what he said and why it's a big shift from where he was just a few days ago.

CAMEROTA: Okay. And could we see someone new within the GOP somehow force President Trump off the ticket in 2020 or might he leave of his own accord at least one big name Republican says some inside the Trump administration have had enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There are many people inside the White House and in the cabinet. I would ask the left to let's create an off-ramp for those people. Because when you're trying to deprogram people from a cult, one of the first things you have to do is allow them to change their mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Okay. We begin this hour with that very same Republican, Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Communications Director and author of Trump, the Blue Collar President. Anthony, happy Monday.

SCARAMUCCI: Welcome back, Alisyn. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. So you have obviously fallen off the Trump train with a loud thud. And what you said over the weekend is that there are lots of other Republicans who you've spoken to, including some vocal supporters in the White House, who want to follow suit or who believe in what you're doing. But they need an off-ramp. Can you just tell us what that means, what that looks like?

SCARAMUCCI: So it's -- so it's a little bit like a cycle. I mean, if you can get the cycle started, some people that are fear-based due to the president's bullying or the nonsense on his Twitter feed or how he handles himself personally, they're intimidated by him.

And so if we could just get the thing started, I mean, you know, one person said, well, if he goes down in the polls or is politically wounded a little bit, I'll feel more comfortable coming out. Well, the truth of the matter is if you come out and say the truth, that will start the process.

And so I don't -- it's very tough for most people. I understand that. It's a process for people because it's sort of like a loyalty trap, Alisyn. You're a Republican. You want to serve the president. You love the country. You know the president is unstable, so you're telling reporters, well, I'm here because it would be worse if I wasn't here. It's sort of that sort of rhetoric that's going on inside the White House, inside the cabinet. And up on Capitol Hill, they are looking around, saying, well, I don't want to necessarily get primaried somebody further to the right.

But what we saw over the week is the balloon is coming out of the president's bombast. The balloon is coming out of his rhetoric. There is an entire song now of --

CAMEROTA: What does that mean? Where do you see the balloon deflating?

SCARAMUCCI: Where do I see that? Okay. So, number one, the crowd size, you had reporters there taking pictures of where the people were in the crowd. Number two, just listen to him talk or look at the transcript that your reporter, Kaitlan Collins, just put out about the way he's rambling and he's disconnecting sentences and he's acting in a way that is irrational and unstable. So what do you mean where I see that?

[07:05:01]

Look at the NBC/Wall Street Journal report where this was even before last week, he's in the 40 percent category on approval rating and he's 12 points behind any Democrat. I mean, that's any Democrat. And so the Republicans really have to wake up to this.

Some of them said to me over the weekend, well, what are my alternatives? We can't have Elizabeth Warren, they'll cut the stock market in half, capital investment will completely dry up. Well, no, you can have Elizabeth Warren if you remove Donald Trump. Because if you get a viable candidate, and this is what I've said to people that are thinking about running in 2024, the time is now.

What are you going to do in 2024? You're going to say that you stood by with no courage to act? You know that the situation is unstable. You know that the president is off his rocker. What are you going to say in 2024? Well, I knew that but I didn't want to hurt my political prospects in the future so I kept my mouth shut. And now, I'm here in 2024.

You have to operate in an environment like this without fear, Alisyn. Go ahead. You want to ask a skeptical question. Go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But let's talk about 2020, right? Let's talk about 2020. Because you've made the prediction that you think that President Trump will drop out of the race by March, but that sounds like crazy talk. He doesn't -- he seems excited about 2020. He doesn't seem like he's going anywhere. So what are you basing that on?

SCARAMUCCI: It's not crazy talk. It's the talk of an entrepreneur that can see the future and with a little help can bend us towards that future. It's really not crazy talk. Because if you go into the low 30s on your approval rating and you're 20 points behind the Democrat, and if you think that's not possible, I've been operating in the capital markets for 31 years. What he's done on the trade situation has totally and completely destabilized the global economy.

And forget about the farmers for a second. I'm very sympathetic to them, but it's hurting them, but it's hurting the entire capital market system.

And so the forecast for a recession now, before the election is about 60 percent. Okay, when you invert the yield curve like what happened last week, that's a direct result of the uncertainty around the trade deal.

So you have combination of things going on. He's dissembling, becoming more unstable and more erratic, the economy is rolling over and this is not a guy who likes losing. So he shows up at the polls down 20-plus percent sometime in March, I think he pulls the plug. But what we have to do right now is you have to offer Republicans a viable candidate. And you have to offer them an off-ramp because it's tough. You're sitting there. You want to be loyal.

I was on your show a few weeks ago. You asked me, would I break from the president if he continued with some of the rhetoric that many people in and outside the White House that are Republicans think are racially divided.

I'm not calling the president a racist. I know that's now anesthetizing (ph) people. I'm just saying, would I break, and the answer was, yes, I would absolute break because this is -- you have to break for your children, okay? I have five children. You can't have the social fabric of the United States disintegrate over one man.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, listen, Anthony -- I mean, listen, it's very interesting to hear you because you were such a supporter and you worked in the White House. But, you know, as you know, so many people on the Democratic side have thought this way for a long time, that the president was tearing at the fabric of the country.

But I want to ask you this, Anthony. Who is that viable alternative? Who is the Republican that you think could step in and garner the support that President Trump has?

SCARAMUCCI: The good news is you really have until November but you could also skip over the states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and you could work on the bigger states. And you could start winning delegates from some of the bigger states that are sour on the president.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But like who? Just give us some names. I mean, because I'm just -- I just --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't think it's fair --

CAMEROTA: But what about Joe Walsh, former Congressman Joe Walsh? Because he was on our air last weekend and he, like you, is quite vocal now speaking out against the president. So what about him? What about Mark Sanford speaking out? What about Bill Weld who is running? Any alternatives?

SCARAMUCCI: I'm in the process. I'm a very organized guy and I know how to delegate. I'm in the process of putting together a team of people who feel the same way that I do. This is not a never Trump situation. This is not just a screeching rhetoric. This is, okay, the guy is unstable. Everyone inside knows it. Everyone outside knows it. Let's see if we can find a viable alternative.

Moreover, I've got to get some of these former cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it.

[07:10:01]

They know it's a crisis. It goes back to things like The Caine Mutiny-Court Martial. If you read that book, everyone was nervous on the boat but it was a fitness to serve question and it became your patriotic duty to speak out. So this is not a never Trump sort of thing. CAMEROTA: And who are those former cabinets?

SCARAMUCCI: This is an organized process.

Okay. Well, again, it would not be fair for me to bring up their names right now. But I will predict that in the middle to late fall, there will be a trove of people that will come together in unity and say, okay, look, this is what's going on. This is how the person is acting. This is why there's nobody inside the White House he's taking any advice from. And so this is what you've got to do.

If you want five more years of somebody operating at the top of the government all alone, that's up to the United States and the voters to decide that. But at least people that are in the know have to express that to give the voters that information.

CAMEROTA: So, Anthony, when you say that you're compiling a team of people who are like minded, are you considering a run?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I told John Berman, I am not considering. I told him last week, I'm running for re-election in my marriage. It's a one-day term. And I thought there were no term limits until John exposed me. And now, my wife is telling me there are term limits, okay?

So, no, I'm private citizen.

CAMEROTA: I can't believe you haven't extended that to two days. I mean, you've been working on this a long time.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm working on it. Thank God she loves me again. But the truth of the matter is my family is super important to me. I'm a business person. I was trying to help the president of the United States in his campaign.

And then when he asked me to come in -- I'll be writing a very detailed account of my odyssey of moving from a Trump supporter to where I am now, which is, you know, it's almost like you're on a board of directors and you're looking at a CEO that's gone mad. And you're sitting there saying, gee, should we expose this? It's like I said last week. Should we cover this up or do we have to clean this up? And responsible people know that they have to clean things up.

CAMEROTA: Okay.

SCARAMUCCI: So we're going to put a board together, explain to the American people what's going on. But, no, I have no interest in running for the presidency.

CAMEROTA: Okay. And we'll --

SCARAMUCCI: I sort of love my life and my job and my wife and family.

CAMEROTA: Got that. And we look forward to that op-ed.

SCARAMUCCI: But I love my country, Alisyn. But I love -- let me just say this. I love my country. And it's country over party. Don't be a partisan. Be a patriot. Tell the truth. Please, guys. You know -- and you're telling reporters off the record. Tell the truth to the American people and you'll feel relieved and your family members that are telling you to tell the truth will feel relieved.

CAMEROTA: Well, as you know, Hogan Gidley, one of the White House spokespeople, says that you're just doing this now for profit. Are you making a profit now that you have come out so vocally?

SCARAMUCCI: I mean, this is -- okay. Alisyn, this couldn't be more aggravating, okay? I admire Hogan Gidley because he is doing a very, very tough job. But someone would have to explain to me how I'm profiting from this.

Moreover, as I pointed out yesterday, you know, I had to release all my financial disclosures. I don't need to profit from this. If anything, it hurts because a lot of Republicans that are still tight we the president are going to disavow me and the Democrats, like you just mentioned are like, well, where were you three or four years ago.

So I've put myself in no man's land. You have to think about that for a second. Why would I do that? Just put myself in no man's land? Because of the country, because of my children, because I know what's going on inside the system is horrific. And you know what? It's like the early stages of a horror movie.

Remember the horror movies when we were kids? Everybody is hiding and lurking from the monster. No one wants to come out and deal with the monster. Then the monster is wreaking havoc in the movie and then people are like, okay, we've got to take on the monster.

So we're in the early stages of that situation. I don't want to be doing this. Hogan Gidley is wrong about that.

CAMEROTA: I mean, very quickly, we only have a few seconds left, but aren't you the cautionary tale? I mean, if you're saying that you've lost friends, if you're saying that you have on some level become a pariah, aren't you cautionary tale?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying to people, no, come on. You know and you're teaching your kids this. You've got five or ten friends in your life. Everyone else is a good acquaintance. I'm not saying I've lost real friends. I'm saying I've been disavowed. I mean, getting lit up with text messages from people that are in the tank for the president. But the flip side is they don't know what I know.

And so I am going to put a coalition to a gather people to explain what is going on. And then like-minded people, I believe, will change their mind and seek an alternative, somebody that's way more normal that can embrace all of the same policies but strain out all the badness that's going on in the country.

[07:15:01]

Remember, a recession is a bone break. But a tearing of the social fabric is metastatic cancer.

CAMEROTA: All right. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you always, fascinating to get your perspective on all this.

SCARAMUCCI: Welcome back, Alisyn. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Anthony. John?

BERMAN: All right, interesting.

So last week's presidential speech in front of Pennsylvania Union workers looked a heck of a lot like a campaign rally. Now, reports those in attendance were forced to attend.

Coming up, we're going to speak to the Federal Election Commission to find out what are the rules surrounding events like this? What this, in fact, a White House event? Should the campaign be forking other catch for this? Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. Moments ago, Anthony Scaramucci was talking about putting together a coalition of people, including Republicans, to try to challenge President Trump in a primary.

On this show in the last seven days, we had former Congressman Joe Walsh saying he hasn't ruled out a primary challenge to President Trump. Mark Sanford said he will decide by Labor Day whether he primaries president Trump. So is this --

[07:20:04]

CAMEROTA: Bill Weld is running.

BERMAN: Bill Weld is already -- sorry, Governor, we left you out. My former governor, Governor Weld, there is running already. So when does this become a real threat to President Trump, if ever?

Joining us now is Michael Smerconish, Host of CNN Smerconish and a CNN Political Commentator, and Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and CNN Political Commentator.

Paul, is this real now and what would it take for it to be a genuine threat against President Trump?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No and a miracle.

CAMEROTA: Next question.

BEGALA: They're not going to have a successful primary challenge to Donald Trump. It's not -- I mean, they might challenge him, they may damage him or wound him, I don't think it would be anything at all like, for example, what Pat Buchanan did to another Republican president, George H.W. Bush many years ago. It's not going to happen.

If Mr. Scaramucci and other disaffected Trump Republicans, they want to get rid of President Trump, they need to find a home in the Democratic Party. And more importantly, the Democratic Party needs to find a home for them.

Democratic Party is a party of inclusion. They need to reach out and include disaffected Republicans. That's how they won the House. But they're not going to challenge Donald Trump in his own party. He could.

Remember, he tragically, stupidly, but accurately said he could shoot a guy on 5th Avenue and not lose votes. We know that's true. Dick Cheney shot a guy and didn't lose any vote. So that's how Republicans are. You want to get rid of Trump, you've got to be a Democrat (ph).

BERMAN: He already -- he had no more elections in front of him when that news came out to be --

CAMEROTA: But I think what Paul is saying is really interesting in terms of the being embraced by the Democrats, because that is what Anthony Scaramucci is calling for. When he says that the left needs to provide them an off-ramp, what he was saying was that stop criticizing Republicans, be welcoming to Republicans, sort of open your arms to know that they are ready to jump ship. And so he's suggesting what you are.

But, Michael, okay, so maybe you agree there could be no -- Anthony Scaramucci won't come up with a challenger to President Trump. However, what he says is that high profile Republicans will come forward, he believes. He has spoken, he has told us, to former cabinet members. And if high profile former cabinet members were to come forward and speak out against President Trump, do you think that would have an impact, Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. The only thing that would have an impact based on what he just said is whether you have a majority of the current cabinet stand up and say something.

I took notes as to what he was saying. Because when we made the first reference, I thought, where is he going with this? Unstable, off his rocker, erratic, questioned his fitness to serve, and said he's, quote, unquote, gone mad. Well, we have process for this. It's called the 25th Amendment. It requires the majority of the cabinet and the vice president and ultimately two-thirds of each House. But that's just not in the cards. I mean, there's not been any sign of anyone in the current cabinet adopting that which Scaramucci has just said.

BERMAN: It's interesting to me, and Paul brought it up. Because it's very -- no president has ever lost in a primary. I mean, yes, Lyndon Johnson was pushed out. He ultimately bailed. But, Paul, there is a long record of incumbents being damaged by primaries.

And you brought up Pat Buchanan, 1992, George H.W. Bush, there was Ted Kennedy against Jimmy Carter in 1980, Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford in '76. It can leave a mark. So you don't even see the possibility of leaving a mark? BEGALA: No, and here's why. In the case of all three of those, Pat Buchanan, Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, they came from the ideological base of the party. They accuse the incumbent president of apostasy, all right, that Ford wasn't enough of a conservative or Bush wasn't enough a conservative or Carter wasn't enough of a liberal.

Donald Trump, he has got a lot of stuff. He is very, very good at holding that base. I think what Democrats need to listen to Mooch about though is to create off-ramp, okay? They're more academically inclined, call it a permission structure.

This is how Nancy Pelosi won the House. She first recruited great candidates. Democrats need great candidates. I think there's a lot of talent in that field. But then they ran in Trump districts on a message that welcomed and included Republicans. I mean, I'm a catholic. I'm a Pope Francis catholic. Man, we're seeking out converts every day. We're not hunting down heretics. But Democrats need to be a part of it, seeks out converts, not hunt down heretics.

CAMEROTA: Michael, your thoughts?

SMERCONISH: How do I follow that? I think that he's absolutely right.

I also think that part of what Mooch was saying is that it depends what kind of a Democrat is nominated because there needs to be an appeal to those who are not far to the left, this old practically versus real progressivism that we see playing itself out in the party as Elizabeth Warren is having a real ascension, at least I think so, and is probably posing the most significant threat to Joe Biden.

[07:25:01]

Could the type of individual that Anthony Scaramucci is describing find appeal with an Elizabeth Warren? It's an open question.

BERMAN: Hey, can I declare Massachusetts privilege here and ask a question about what I thought was the most interesting article that I've read over the last week?

Joe Kennedy, congressman from Massachusetts, is considering a primary challenge or hasn't ruled it out against Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Now, these are both well-known names in the Commonwealth, Paul Begala. I think what this speaks to is something bigger happening inside the Democratic Party, something generational happening inside the Democratic Party.

Do you think that Congressman Kennedy will do it, A? And, B, what does it tell us about the broader picture here?

BEGALA: I don't know if he will do it. But I think you're exactly right, there is a generational change. In your beloved Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you saw Ayanna Presley take on Mike Capuano. Capuano was a terrific progressive, a pretty tradition progressive. And Pressley came in with all this energy and knocked him out. And that's really impressive. It's a hard thing to do. And I think Joe Kennedy may be looking at that same sort of generational change. There is a restiveness in the Democratic Party.

And, by the way, my party's best age cohort is under 30, right? So if you want to be a successful Democrat, you have to be successful with those under 30.

65-plus, that's in Mr. Trump's base. So if we want to cut into that, pointing out that he's trying to cut Medicare, I think they would be great. But right now, the age heart -- the generational heart of the Republican Party, young people, Joe Kennedy can appeal to them.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Michael, Paul, thank you very much. It was great to check in with you both.

BERMAN: All right. The Washington Post, by their account, the president has made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims. And now the head of one powerful government agency is calling the president's bluff when it comes to claims about voter fraud.

We're going to talk to the Chair of the FEC next.

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[07:30:00]

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