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Trump Grows More Erratic Amid Economic Warnings; Jay Inslee Drops Out of Democratic Race. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You vote for a Democrat, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people and Israel.

[05:59:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't that anti-Semitic?

TRUMP: It's only anti-Semitic in your head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those comments absolutely are anti-Semitic.

TRUMP: The United States is doing phenomenally well. We have a strong economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. Steel announced it was temporarily laying off about 200 workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a recession when your neighbor's laid off. It's a depression when you get laid off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Fasten your seat belts, everyone. It's going to be a bumpy, rhetorical ride this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: But that's just Thursday.

CAMEROTA: That's exactly right.

BERMAN: That's just Thursday.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, when I was looking at the list of things that had happened yesterday that we'll get to in a second, I was thinking, "or you could just call it Thursday."

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. Welcome to our viewers in the United States, around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday. It's August 22, 6 a.m. here in New York.

We begin with something you probably never thought you'd hear the president of the United States say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am the chosen one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Yes. That was the president declaring himself the chosen one for his effort to take on China on trade.

Now, that was right after he basked in the praise of a right-wing conspiracy theorist who calls him the king of Israel. President Trump also, again, questioned the loyalty of American Jews, repeating the same anti-Semitic trope he has criticized Democrats for. But wait, there's more.

BERMAN: Yes. He also flat-out contradicted statements he had made just the day before on taxes and guns.

So to what do we owe this leadership cocktail of offensive, confusing and contradictory? "The New York Times" reports this morning, "Some former Trump administration officials in recent days said they were increasingly worried about the president's behavior, suggesting it semis from rising pressure on Mr. Trump as the economy seems more worrisome and next year's election approaches."

And there are new troubling signs for the U.S. economy this morning. The Labor Department reports that employers added half a million fewer jobs in 2018 or early 2019 than previously reported. There was another yield curve inversion, fueling recession fears; and the budget deficit is on path to surpass $1 trillion.

There is a lot going on this morning. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns, who is live at the White House -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you're right. Congress is still on its long August recess, but as you can see, the president is keeping very busy at that media availability out here at the White House.

Just yesterday, he talked a lot about a lot of things. Some of the things he said were contradictory; some were confusing, including on the issue of guns.

But when he got to that fundraiser in Kentucky that he went to, two sources told us he didn't talk about guns at all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump seizing the spotlight, sending mixed messages and contradicting himself on issues like gun legislation.

TRUMP: I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks.

JOHNS: Yet, sources tell CNN Trump had a long conversation with NRA leadership the day before and is standing by gun lobbyists.

TRUMP: We also have to remember the gun doesn't pull the trigger. A person does. And we have great mental illness.

JOHNS: The president also stoking outrage by repeating an anti- Semitic trope.

TRUMP: If you vote for a Democrat, you're very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.

JOHNS: Claiming this about previous criticism.

TRUMP: It's only anti-Semitic in your head.

JOHNS: President Trump also tweeting out a comment from a conservative conspiracy theorist, writing, "Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the nice words. 'President Trump is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America. Like he's the King of Israel. They love him like he's the second coming of God.'"

The president even going as far as using biblical terms to describe himself.

TRUMP: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it, so I'm taking on China. I'm taking on China on trade. And you know what? We're winning.

JOHNS: And taking aim once again at his predecessor.

TRUMP: So Russia outsmarted President Obama. President Obama and others brought the families apart. But I'm the one that kept the families together.

JOHNS: But that's just not true. Separations were rare under the Obama administration. The Trump administration has only intensified family separations at the border.

Also on immigration, the president ramped up his rhetoric on constitutionally-guaranteed birthright citizenship.

TRUMP: You walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen. We are looking at birthright citizenship very closely. It's -- it's, frankly, ridiculous.

JOHNS: The question of a possible recession?

TRUMP: I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy.

JOHNS: But that's not what Trump said Tuesday.

TRUMP: Payroll tax is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that.

JOHNS: And the president is using a familiar insult to again attack Denmark's prime minister after she dismissed his idea of buying Greenland.

TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement, that it was absurd. That it was an absurd idea. It was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do was say, "No, we wouldn't be interested."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, the Danish prime minister is only the latest in a growing group of women leaders the president has referred to as nasty. That group includes Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for trying to sum all of that up in two minutes.

Let's bring in our experts: Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst; John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst; and Frank Bruni, "New York Times" op-ed columnist and CNN contributor.

John, at this point, don't you think the president is just messing with people? To say, "I'm the chosen one"? Later in the day he said that he wanted to award himself the Medal of Honor, he told Medal of Honor recipients. Don't you think at this point -- I mean, he likes being provocative. Don't you think he's just trying to make people's blood boil at this point?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, that's one explanation. One explanation is this is all an ornate troll, and the president is truly in control and just tweaking people.

The other explanation is that he's becoming more than a little unhinged. We've had countries in the world that have had mad kings before. We're not one of them.

But what we're watching. if you look at any of the quotes from yesterday -- "I'm the chosen one," retweeting somebody that's saying he is the messiah, talking about the king of Israel and the second coming of God; saying that he thought about awarding himself the Medal of Honor. This is unhinged behavior.

And, you know, Tom Friedman was on "ANDERSON COOPER" last night and said that if any -- this was the president of any company, the board of directors would have him removed. This is not tightly-wrapped behavior. It's troubling behavior. It seems to indicate that he is untethering with reality more and more as the pressure grows.

CAMEROTA: That's not how you see it? You don't think that this is all -- just to him, he's enjoying this; it's a big show?

AVLON: No. The version where this is the Phil Hartman/Ronald Reagan sketch where he's massively in control but he's just playing the doddering old dude in -- in reality, isn't -- it doesn't ring true.

BERMAN: I actually think it's a false choice that you're presenting there, because I think the net effect is he comes off as erratic, and the impact of it is essentially the same.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, no, I agree with you. Yes.

BERMAN: With me, not Alisyn.

BRUNI: With -- I always -- I always agree with both of you. I'm going to add the two of you together.

CAMEROTA: Way to thread the needle.

BRUNI: But you know, let's remember, the presidency does strange things to people with normal psychologies. Right? I mean, you're under the most withering microscope imaginable. You have all of these people around you, who ae kind of looking up to you and inflating your ego. You have enormous, enormous pressure on you.

So if you go into the presidency with a normal psychology, it can do very strange things to you. If you go into the presidency as Donald Trump, the end point is not pretty.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know, I think you can't totally divorce this from the timing context of it, which is that, in a couple of days, the president is going to be back in France at the G-7 at this international event that he, every year, tries to figure out whether it's like NATO or G-7 meeting, kind of how to have the upper hand, how to walk in with the narrative, how to -- how to set the stage on his terms, very often by shocking the sensibilities of the European leaders he's going to be with.

Now, you can argue the merits of this. Is this a good strategy? What is the end goal of the strategy? Well, he does it every time, and he's doing it again. And this is also taking us away from the conversation about what's actually happening with the economy.

BERMAN: I just want to -- I want to make clear. The idea that maybe he's just trolling us, I really do think that's a problematic theory to put out with all of this right now. Because if you look at what happened just yesterday, contradicting himself on not minor issues that aren't minor to Americans. We're talking about taxes, and we're talking about gun policy, policy against gun violence. He is confusing everybody about where he stands on that.

CAMEROTA: I'm not saying it doesn't have an unsettling effect.

BERMAN: But wait, there's more.

CAMEROTA: Don't get me wrong.

BERMAN: But wait, there's more. Like, just being a little anti- Semitic for the second day in a row and making crystal-clear that's where you stand on something, that's not trolling anybody. That's just being anti-Semitic.

So when you look at this, the net effect of all of it, I think, muddles things, including the markets. CAMEROTA: Oh, please. For -- for -- absolutely. There's a

difference between his motivation and what's causing it and the net effect. And the net effect is something that we are all living with and to -- including the markets.

Let me just put up with one second. There are all these troubling signs for the U.S. economy that he's not talking about, that he's saying, "Nothing to see here."

So the Labor Department released -- had to revise downward the biggest revision downward in a decade, I think.

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Maybe more. By half a million jobs. Another yield curve inversion, which people say is the, you know, flashing red warning sign of a coming recession. Budget deficit is about to surpass 1 trillion. We used to care about that. So there -- that's just the -- and then we'll get to guns in a second.

AVLON: Yes, look. This is the point that, beneath all the unhinged rhetoric, there are a lot of real hard data things going south.

But again, I don't think you need to choose. This is not an ornate attempt to distract us. This is not Nixon's "mad man" theory to try to increase his leverage in negotiations. This is a pattern of statements made in one day, any one of which would normally dominate a cycle.

And again, the president of the United States repeated somebody saying he was the second coming of God, called himself "the chosen one" and mused about whether he could award himself the Medal of Honor. This is stuff out of a dark satire. And everyone who's supporting him is going to own it going forward.

Imagine, if you will, any other president, a Democratic president saying any one of those things once. Weeks of concerned trolling coverage on a competing network.

BRUNI: John, let's be positive. We could -- we could thank him for his humility. He used to talk about getting the Nobel. Now he's down to the Medal of Freedom, right? So maybe he's not unhinged. Maybe he's coming back down to reality.

AVLON: An -- theory.

(CROSSTALK)

TALEN: Those CBO numbers, you know, are a problem on a couple of levels, right? Because they exist in a situation with really relatively low unemployment figures, right?

And if some of those, if the interest rates change, if the unemployment figures change, that escalates the problem, that it's already worse than it was predicted to have been. The tariffs are adding pressure on this. The tax cuts have created problems. A lot of these are kind of a peek under the rug at some of the longer-

term consequences of the policies that have juiced the economy up until now.

CAMEROTA: And again, all of this dark humor, to your point, is I think, masking or at least competing with something really dark happening. And that is this spate of mass shootings that we've had, daily mass shootings, and a spate of foiled mass shootings.

In the past week, police have been working overtime, thank God, around the country; and they have stopped all of these young men who want to do mass shootings. Because it turns out that it is contagious. It is -- there are copycats. It is contagious. You see all of this, and it starts to feels like the answer. And there's this spike in white supremacy.

And so all of this is leading to a very unsettled feeling among people who are normally sane and people who are unhinged.

AVLON: Typically, you have the president of the United States acting as comforter in chief and sort of using the moral authority of the office to try to ground the conversation.

Instead, not only are some of these shooters echoing rhetoric the president has used, unfortunately. But yesterday, he flip-flopped for -- I'm losing track -- the third or fourth time on whether he supports background checks. That's -- that's substantive. That's policy. There's strategy behind that. Maybe he doesn't remember; maybe he doesn't care. But that's a real problem in the face of a rising body count.

BERMAN: And again, as comforter in chief, one of the things he is supposed to do is help soothe, I think, the frayed nerves and the real hurt in these places. I just want you to listen to how he talked yesterday about his visit to these hospitals in Dayton and El Paso.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When I went to El Paso, and I went into those hospitals, the love for me, and me maybe as a representative of the country, but for me, and my love for them was these people are unparalleled. These are incredible people. But if you read the papers, it was like nobody would meet with me. Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the rooms. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn't even walk on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Me, me, me, me, me.

BRUNI: This is the thing he's most consistent on, John. Remember, when he was in El Paso, he talked to them about how great his crowds had been previously and how bad Beto's were.

CAMEROTA: I mean, these are people who were -- BRUNI: And that's what he talked to them about when he was supposed to be consoling.

CAMEROTA: -- almost just killed with gun violence and relatives of people who were killed.

BERMAN: Exactly. And I just want to add that and all these examples, because what they are is examples of a problem.

Look, I'm not going to go into the mental state. That's something that George Conway and others do. I don't even think you have to touch that to talk about the impact of the erratic behavior here.

And you start to look -- and I don't want to put too much weight in Anthony Scaramucci, in Joe Walsh, in Bill Weld, in Mark Sanford, but there are Republicans now who are coming forward and saying, "This behavior is enough for us to step back."

You are grimacing and saying no.

BRUNI: Well, I'm just grimacing, because I think Anthony Scaramucci will say whatever gets him air time. You know, so -- But yes. You are right. People are coming forward.

Another thing you talk about the effect of it, let's go back to the Greenland Denmark thing. We are a laughingstock of the world. We used to be the light of the world. And under Donald Trump, we are becoming the laughingstock of the world, because we don't behave as a serious nation under him. I mean, it's incredible.

TALEV: Well, I do think European leaders have sought so far to separate their long-term impressions of the United States from their kind of visual impressions of dealing with this president.

And the upcoming election has always been a pivot point for many of those European countries. Kind of like, "OK, we'll give you these four years, but if you take eight, we're going to have to reconsider our relationship."

TALEV: And that's the context in which, you know, we're going to see this G-7 coming together, because I think we even heard Boris Johnson yesterday kind of trying to find that safe distance between himself and President Trump when it comes to do you let Russia back in the club and this sort of stuff.

CAMEROTA: When Boris Johnson says things are getting nutty, you really have to take a moment to consider that.

BERMAN: There you go.

CAMEROTA: I mean -- OK. On that note.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, 2020's sprawling Democratic field just got a bit smaller. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has dropped out of the presidential race. Inslee had not yet qualified for September's debate. He was struggling to pick up support in the polls. He did make confronting climate change the centerpiece of his campaign. A source now tells CNN he is set to announce today that he will seek a third term as governor of Washington.

[06:15:01] CAMEROTA: All right. President Obama has not been in office for two and a half years as you might know. But President Trump doesn't always think about that timeline. He talks a lot about President Obama. So there's more of what he said yesterday. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. We're still trying to digest everything President Trump said yesterday. So much of it was contradictory and confusing. But there was one thing that he was crystal-clear on. That just about everything that he thinks has gone wrong, even things that --

CAMEROTA: In his past three and a half years.

BERMAN: Exactly. It's all Barack Obama's fault. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So Russia outsmarted President Obama.

It was President Obama that built those cages. So President Obama had separation. I'm the one that brought them together.

I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy. Certainly, a payroll tax cut. President Obama did that in order to artificially jack up the economy. President Trump had zero interest rates. I don't have zero interest rates. I have real interest rates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: A ton of that, by the way, just not true, including the separation policy.

CAMEROTA: Well, yes. You can't just say something and hope that everybody forgets and hope that the videotape doesn't exist. We remember child separation.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: It happened recently. We all saw it with our own eyes. We can't just wish that away.

BERMAN: It was a Trump administration policy.

Back with us now, Margaret Talev, John Avlon and Frank Bruni. But to the larger point here, which is this obsession with somebody who hasn't made a decision from the Oval Office in two and a half years, it gives you a window.

BRUNI: Well, sure. But also, in Trump's defense, although that's a weird phrase, I mean, every president is very conscious of his predecessor, because that's the obvious and near yardstick.

I think we're going to hear more and more from Trump about "Obama this, Obama that" as November 2020 approaches. Because President Trump is worried, above all, that he will be mortified by not getting a second term. And what did his predecessor do? Got two terms. Got reelected. And so I think the specter of Obama hangs over him more heavily than ever.

TALEV: There's also something just viscerable [SIC] -- visceral -- what's the word?

BERMAN: Both visible and visceral. They're both right.

CAMEROTA: You've come up with a sniglet. Thank you.

AVLON: A sniglet! Those were great.

TALEV: For President Trump about the Obama legacy. I mean, he does -- I think President Trump does feel that President Obama is trolling him from beyond the presidency, even though President Obama has largely sort of stayed out of it.

CAMEROTA: I mean, so many of his, of President Obama's supporters wish he were more vocal.

AVLON: Yes.

TALEV: Yes. That's true. But President Trump, like, if you go back from 2017 and make the list, has almost, like, systematically gone down the list to try to undo or check or reverse or countercheck every major policy initiative that President Obama tried to roll out. Like, he's -- President Trump thinks about President Obama a lot. Like, a lot, like all the time.

But also if vice -- former Vice President Biden were to end up being the Democratic nominee, President Trump wants to be able to run against the Obama legacy. If the economy were to go south, President Trump is looking for people to blame, and he will seek to attach the seeds of it to the Obama administration. So there are strategic reasons. But there's also just, like, an emotional.

AVLON: Yes. But let's root this in reality. Because again, while the president wants to say, don't listen to -- you know, look at what you see, listen to what I say, the obsession with Obama 20 times in yesterday's presser doesn't fit the facts of the economy.

Obviously, he -- we are in the longest economic expansion in our history, three-quarters of which started under President Obama. One quarter of which Donald Trump inherited, and it has accelerated. Great.

You want to talk about Crimea? OK. Did that happen under Obama's watch? Yes. Was the administration strong enough? Possibly not. Not enough attention was paid.

But it's President Trump who wants to reverse those sanctions and the punitive measures that were taken by the international community after the invasion of Crimea.

The family separations. "I'm the one who separated [SIC] them." What kind of bizarre world --

BERMAN: He's the one who got them together, he's saying.

AVLON: Yes, except -- yes. Because in fact, he's the one who separated them as a matter of policy. And we know that to be true. So all these things are not rooted in reality. And yet, he keeps beating that drum. And so, unfortunately, it's our job again to say, "Stop it, Mr. President." We need to root this conversation in

reality.

TALEV: CNN actually did a great fact check on yesterday's live show at the departure. And totally worth reading. Like, I think it's either 7 things or 11 things that, you know --

CAMEROTA: Eleven.

BRUNI: But it's a politically convenient drum. You made the great point that, if he ends up running against Joe Biden, he's going to be running against the Obama legacy. So starting to tarnish that now is like sort of getting work done ahead of time. But it's also politically convenient, because his base hated President Obama. And he's constantly saying and doing things to keep them ginned up and on his side.

BERMAN: Can I just ask one last point of the discussion we've been having overall, as we talk about the attacks on President Obama and yesterday, overall, again? Do you think that the pressure of the economy and the pressure of all of this is weighing on him?

BRUNI: A hundred percent. Because how many times in these first two and a half years has he taken credit for the economy? And as he said, how can -- remember, how can you impeach someone who's presiding over this great an economy? He said that many, many times.

Well, the economy is not looking so great, and I think, unhinged or not, he understands that his election hinges more on what the economy looks like in the six months before November 2020 than any other factor, than any culture war.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about 2020. On the other side, the Democratic field has gotten just a little bit smaller this morning. So Washington state Governor Jay Inslee is out. Obviously, his single issue, his single issue, I mean, his main focus was climate change. And somebody else will have to pick up that mantel.

AVLON: Ahead of the climate change debate, you see a winnowing of governors. Those are bad signs for the Democratic field. I think, you know, it's understandable to want to kind of cull the herd, because 24 is a lot. But they keep losing governors, and -- and I think that's actually a bad thing for the national debate at this stage.

BERMAN: But these governors that you're lamenting, I mean, you know, 2 percent -- in what other universe is 2 percent this giant measurement of success? You know, they're not even at 1 percent. If they were at 2 percent in the polls, they would still be in the debates.

AVLON: Look, I grant you, but part of the problem with the way this is such a wide field is the percentage number actually becomes a higher hurdle. It sounds like the lowest thing in the world. But it takes a little bit of time to get traction in this cycle unless you come in as a star. And we've got a lot of folks who are senators who have been in the public eye for a long time, whereas we tend to ignore western governors, unfortunately. And they're in asterisk land, as well.

BERMAN: I'm just going to disagree with your police work there. Again, Pete Buttigieg, he was mayor of south Bend.

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: He didn't come in as a star. He came in with a name no one could pronounce.

AVLON: That's a totally fair exception.

BRUNI: But Pete Buttigieg is a great media story. His youth, his sexual orientation, all of that.

And I think what John is suggesting -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- is governors are the people we credit with doing things, with actually administering things. And we live in a celebrity climate where, if you're a senator who gets to preen during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, or if you're a governor of a small Indiana city but you have a great, great personal story and several distinguishing characteristics, that matters more in a field this big and a celebrity culture than governing a state.

AVLON: Thank you, Mr. Bruni.

CAMEROTA: All right.

AVLON: Well said.

CAMEROTA: Let's move onto another candidate. Mayor -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had this event, via livestream, via satellite, or whatever in Iowa yesterday. And apparently -- I don't know if he inhaled some helium before this event or what, but here is the moment of his livestream event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank you for the fight you're waging every day.

Two weeks paid vacation every year. That's the kind of thing that will transform people's lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: OK.

BERMAN: Well, "transform" is the right word there.

CAMEROTA: That was a technical glitch. The audio guy apologized to the mayor afterwards. The mayor did not know he was coming across as Alvin the Chipmunk.

TALEV: It's even better when it's totally straight-faced.

But I think, like, look, sometimes you just take your opportunity. Right? I mean, you're trying to break through, trying to get on the air. Here's your moment. It's a good time to talk about climate change. Everybody wants --

AVLON: But really, it's funny, because such a tall man and such a small voice. I have a nickname for the band, by the way: Asterisk and the Chipmunks, because the polling is a problem.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

AVLON: There you go.

CAMEROTA: All right. I don't think it's catch enough, but we'll work --

AVLON: We'll work on it.

CAMEROTA: We'll work on it.

Thank you all very much.

OK. Now to this. There's an intense manhunt underway at this hour for a gunman who shot a California police officer. So the officer survived. We'll give you the back story on this next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)