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Trump's Statements More Erratic as Economy Worsens; Joe Walsh is Interviewed about His Possible GOP Challenge to Trump. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Last year, Umpire Carlos Ramos first gave Williams a warning for getting a coaching signal from the stands. He then gave her a point penalty for breaking her racket and then a game penalty for verbal abuse when she called him a thief.

[07:00:12] Serena pleaded with Open officials that the treatment was unfair. Naomi Osaka went on to win that match, first grand slam title. The draw for this year's Open announced later today, guys. Play begins on Monday.

Alisyn, me and you were both at that final. I doubt the drama happens again this year.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I will never forget it. What a -- what a night that was. Andy, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: All right. We're following a lot of news, needless to say. NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia outsmarted President Obama. Obama was upset.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The president needs enemies in order to make the case about himself.

TRUMP: This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald really does believe these things. He's never going to change.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: To what do we owe this? Rising pressure on Mr. Trump as the economy seems more worrisome? New troubling signs this morning.

TRUMP: I have an appetite for background checks. We're working with Democrats. We're working with Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's beholden to the NRA. He doesn't have the courage to stand up to them. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is the one who fixed the criminal

background check system. He wants solutions that work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

BERMAN: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

This morning, President Trump walking a fine line, or maybe trotting on that fine line, between bravado and bizarro. "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 stems from rising pressure on Mr. Trump as the economy seems more worrisome and next year's election approaches."

And this all does comes as there are new troubling signs for the U.S. economy. The Labor Department reports a half million fewer job gains than previously reported and the largest downward revision in a decade. The bond yield curve briefly inverted again amid recession fears. And the budget deficit is on path to top $1 trillion.

CAMEROTA: So all this as the president's rhetoric reaches new, even weirder limits. He refers to himself as "the chosen one" to take on China on trade. He also praised a conspiracy theorist who called him the king of Israel. And he again questioned the loyalty of Jews who vote for Democrats.

He also again criticized Denmark, calling the female prime minister "nasty" for refusing to sell Greenland.

So what is behind this scattershot approach from the president?

Joining us now is Ana Navarro, CNN political commentator; Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst; and Ben Howe, columnist and author of "The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Choose Political Power Over Christian Values." Great to have all of you.

Ana, listen. I mean, we had a debate earlier in the program about whether or not the president, at this point, is just messing with everyone. He's calling himself the chosen one. He's suggesting he's the messiah. He seems to be enjoying this moment of rhetorical madness, or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Or do you see something else happening here?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is it mutually exclusive? Can he be a raving mad narcissist with a messianic complex and, at the same time, be trying to distract us from the skittish economy? From the fact that he triggered a white supremacist to go hunt down Latinos like if they were animals? From the fact that he capitulated to the NRA and is owned by the NRA after saying he was going to go for background checks? So could it be both?

But look, it's alarming. It's worrying. And you can save the tweets, folks, telling me that I'm not a mental health professional and shouldn't be talking about this. Because my four-pound micro-poodle Cha-Cha can look at this and say it is insane. It is beyond not being normal. Right now, it is a level of instability.

I just came back from 17 days abroad. We are the laughingstock internationally. You can't go anywhere without people saying, "What is wrong with Trump? What is wrong with America? Have Americans lost their mind that they have this president?"

I mean, this fight with Denmark, an ally, over buying Greenland? This is insane. (SPEAKING SPANISH) President Loco.

CAMEROTA: Even your poodle understood that.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, why can't Ana give a straight answer? Why can't she just say what she means?

CAMEROTA: Say how she feels.

TOOBIN: You know?

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

TOOBIN: Can I just say, you know, of course I agree with every word Ana said. But the other point is, where is the --

NAVARRO: Yes. Now say it in Spanish.

TOOBIN: No. Sorry, I know my limits.

Where -- where is the Republican Party? Where is anyone in that party who, you know, can say that the emperor has no clothes, and the emperor is acting like a lunatic?

[07:05:02] I mean, this is so obvious. This is so wrong. And the narcissism and the constant lying, it's obvious to anyone. And the fact that the Republican Party has no one with the courage to speak up about this is a shame on this party, and it will haunt that party.

CAMEROTA: You mean in Congress, because there are Republicans who are threatening to challenge the president who are challenging him.

TOOBIN: Who? Like Joe Walsh? I mean --

BERMAN: Joe Walsh, who will be on in just a few minutes so be careful what you say.

TOOBIN: Sorry, but I mean, these are not major figures in the party.

BERMAN: Can I ask this a different way, Ben Howe? Let's play the sound here, because I think it's important. Especially, I want your take on this. Where the president looked to the skies and called himself "the chosen one."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody said, "It's Trump's trade war." This isn't my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: "I am the chosen one," he said, Ben. And I want you to weigh in on this conversation overall, but as someone who just wrote a book on this, "The Immoral Majority," how would the right -- or Christian conservatives or the Republican Party in general, conservative talk radio -- have reacted if President Obama had looked to the skies and said, "I am the chosen one"?

BEN HOWE, AUTHOR, "THE IMMORAL MAJORITY": That's a good question, because "the chosen one" was a phrase that a lot of people actually used as a joke. People on the right would say that about Obama. They would say, "Oh, you think he's the chosen one," and that was the insult. I don't remember Obama ever saying it. Trump goes ahead and says it.

What's interesting is he's -- he's always talked this way. I mean, at the convention in 2016, he said that he was the only one who could disrupt the establishment. He said, "I'm the only one who can fix it," in regards to the economy. So he's always talked this way.

I think it's also worth noting that there are plenty of evangelicals who are surrounding this guy. And an evangelical advisory board. And they're kind of in his ear at all times, saying, "Don't worry about the stuff that, you know, normal Christians have to worry about. You've got a job to do. Yes, you don't necessarily represent" -- you know, like you've got Robert Jeffress who said that he -- he doesn't want a president that represents the kind of values that Jesus spoke about on the Sermon of the Mount. He wants kind of the opposite of that. We should run from a candidate that would be more like that. We should run from a president that would be more like that.

So when you have these guys in your ear every day, praying over you and exempting you, then it's not that surprising that he would think that way.

I also think, you know, for most people, if they jokingly said, "I'm the chosen one," it could be taken as a joke. But contextually speaking, he had basically just called himself the king of the Jews. Well, the king of Israel. But, you know, he was happy to re -- to quote all of that and about himself.

So contextually, given everything he's said in the past from all the way back in 2016 until today, he believes it. He believes he is the chosen one.

TOOBIN: Can I just add one point to that? There are never any jokes with President Trump. That's what he -- when he says something and then, you know, his enablers come and say, "It's a joke," it's not a joke.

When he said during the campaign, "Russia if you're looking for -- you know, find Hillary's emails," he meant find Hillary's emails. When he said, "The chosen one," he meant the chosen one. These are not jokes. This is what he believes.

NAVARRO: Well, look, maybe he was referring to being chosen by Putin. That would be a hell of a lot more accurate than looking up at the sky and, you know, making a reference to God.

And you know the answer of what evangelicals and religious people would be doing if Obama had looked up at the sky and called himself the chosen one. They'd be thumping their Bibles. They'd be clutching their pearls. And they would be demanding apology -- an apology from Obama for making a comparison to God.

And were we have a guy -- a guy who is a pathological liar, who is a cheater, who is -- who embodies every value that is antithesis to what evangelicals and religious people hold dear, calling himself "the chosen one." And everybody just kind of shrugs their shoulders and says it's Trump being Trump.

Because the brilliance of what Trump did in 2018 was he instilled fear and terror into every Republican running for office. Because if he opposes you and goes after you, you're going to lose your primary. And so now he's got them cowering in silent complicity.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Ben.

HOWE: It -- it's also worth pointing out that, you know, in terms of narcissism, you know, he's got the narcissist's dream life. He spent his whole life a billionaire, getting a lot of attention and thinking he's the center of the universe, essentially. And then he became the president and kind of became the center of the universe. So from his point of view, everything is destined, in a way.

And so I put a lot of blame on the people around him. I mean, these people feed into that ego and assure him that all of those illusions of grandeur he's had all his life were obviously true, because look where he is. So you know, I put a lot on them. I don't expect him to change.

But if there's supposed to be a conservative movement or a Republican Party that survives past Donald Trump, maybe don't just feed the narcissist's ego for the next two years.

[07:10:02] CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, and you don't have to be a mental health professional, Ana, to read the DSM manual, the definition of narcissism. It spells out exactly the sign posts and the symptoms and then thinking that you're -- saying that you're the chosen one, retweeting that you're the king of Israel, thinking that -- you know, being -- only seeing things, obviously, through your own warped lens.

And all of that is fine. We can leave it to the mental health professionals if we want, but it does have a corrosive effect on the country.

And I think the most troubling and really, really upsetting today are all the spate of mass shootings that we're seeing and the ones that have been foiled, thank God, by good police work. But every day we are reporting here on the program about somebody with a cache of weapons who has threatened to do a mass shooting that police have had to foil, because it turns out that it is contagious. People see the mass shootings and think to themselves, if they have any problem, "Well, that's the solution. I, too, can do -- I can get my hands on a weapon, and I, too, can do mass shootings."

I mean, we have a segment coming up with some of the survivors of Parkland. And it's just -- that is what we should be -- what the president of the United States should be working to fix. But because of this scattershot approach, Jeffrey, we are all over the place.

TOOBIN: Well, it's -- it's not the scattershot approach. It's the NRA running the White House on this issue. I mean, the National Rifle Association is running the Republican Party, as it has run it for at least a generation. And if Wayne LaPierre doesn't want a bill passed, a bill will not pass.

I mean, remember, there was a Democratic president after Sandy Hook in Connecticut. And they couldn't get a -- any sort of gun safety bill passed. They're certainly not going to get it passed now with a Republican president who's in the NRA's pocket.

BERMAN: Can I tell you what I think is weighing on him more, though? Because obviously it doesn't appear as if he put that much thought into the gun discussion, because he seems to be on all sides all at once here.

I think it's the economy. Based on what we're hearing from the president's advisers, based on what we're seeing in the data here, there are real concerns here.

The Labor Department just reported weaker gains, job gains than reported. The yield curve inverted again yesterday. The deficit is on path to surpass $1 trillion.

So Ben, again, and you're someone, former Tea Party guy, fiscal conservative. The economy has been really important to you. What does it do -- if the president loses the economy as a talking point, how do you think that weighs on him? Could that explain this erratic behavior?

HOWE: Well, no. I don't think it explains the erratic behavior, because that I find to be one of the most -- it's erratic, but it's consistent. He's been consistently erratic for a long time. I'm seeing the same behaviors now that I think I saw a few years ago.

But I will say going into 2020, it might seem a little more unhinged, perhaps, especially as the party starts to grow in that erraticness [SIC] with him.

Because in 2016, which we all point back to as the Dumpster fire year where everything was insane, even his supporters didn't think he would win. Nobody thought he would win. So that got upset, and then he did. I mean, it's not going to get calmer now in 2020 when everybody knows that he can win.

And certainly his, you know, supporters, who were already pretty diehard even though they thought he probably wouldn't win, how -- how insane is it going to get now that they know this?

And consider also, we've got two Supreme Court nominees that he got. The idea of getting two more, that's the promised land. They're going to go nuts to get that to happen, regardless of the economy.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Ben, Jeffrey, Ana, thank you very much for the conversation.

NAVARRO: God forbid this chosen one will lead us into that promised land.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Ana.

BERMAN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin teased it before. Could President Trump have a new Republican challenger as of this morning? We're going to be joined by someone weighing a 2020 election bid next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:18:07] BERMAN: Happening now, "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that a new Republican could jump into the presidential race to challenge President Trump in the next few days.

Joining us now is Joe Walsh, conservative radio host and former Republican congressman from Illinois.

Joe, great to have you here. When you were on with us last week, you said you hadn't ruled out a run for the White House. "The New York Times" says now you might make up your mind in the next few days. How about right now? Are you challenging President Trump in the Republican primary?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN: Hey, John, it's good to be with you. I'm not avoiding your question, but before I answer your question, can I just get this out?

I listened to your prior segment, and it's fascinating TV, but man, I think we overanalyze Trump. He's not complicated, John. He's a horrible human being. He's a bad, bad guy. And every single day, every single day you, I, and everybody watching us right now is reminded of how damn unfit he is.

And to what Jeffrey Toobin said earlier, John, that -- that he's stunned and disappointed that no Republican has stepped up to call him out on his unfitness, Jeffrey's right. The Republican Party will always, always regret the fact that they did not call this man out. Somebody has to.

BERMAN: If you feel that way, are you running against him?

WALSH: I'm strongly, strongly considering it. That's -- again, I'm not trying to be cute or coy. I've told you before, if somebody's going to get in there and go after him, John, it's got to be done soon. You're running out of time.

But more importantly, these are not conventional times. Look at the guy in the White House. These are urgent times. Somebody needs to make that case. I have yet to hear any potential Republican make that case.

[07:20:05] BERMAN: Why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you run at this point? Again, if you feel as strongly as you do, why not you?

WALSH: I may. I just don't know yet, John. I don't know yet. But it's got to be done soon, and if I do it, I will do it soon. Look, I'm a former congressman. I've been on the radio around the country for the last six years. I'm an OK guy.

There are bigger names than me. There are bigger former senators and members of Congress. But none of them have the courage to step up and challenge him. John, this is the time where somebody's got to be be brave.

BERMAN: So you say no one has the courage to challenge him. Bill Kristol, who you've been talking to, formerly with "The Standard" -- and by the way, you've hired political analysts. You're talking to people behind the scenes here for real.

WALSH: Yes.

BERMAN: This is a real consideration now.

WALSH: Yes.

BERMAN: Bill Kristol, in this interview in "The New York Times," makes clear that you're appealing to him, basically because you're the kind of guy who can punch the president in the nose rhetorically. Why is that important, do you think?

WALSH: Because Trump's a bully, and he's a coward. And the only way you beat a bully and you beat a coward is to expose them, is to punch them.

Donald Trump's been a con man his whole life. Again, for the life of me, John, I don't know why any other Republican can't say this.

It's got nothing to do with the debt and the deficits. That's a concern. It's got nothing to do with his bad, horrible tariffs. They are bad and horrible.

He is a bad man who -- and we don't talk about this enough, John. Millions and millions of American children every single day in this country are learning. They're paying attention. They're learning that it's OK to lie and be a bully and be cruel. The only way you primary Donald Trump and beat him is to expose him for the con man he is. And if I did it, John, that's what I'd do. I'd punch him every single day.

BERMAN: You have called him a bad man among other things. He is, in your words, a bad man that you voted for.

WALSH: Yes. Absolutely. So I found the religion. Look, you and I talked. He lost me officially at Helsinki about a year, year and a half ago, when he stood in front of the world and said, "I'm with that guy Putin and not my own people." That was it. That was ugly. That was disloyal.

But really, John, what -- what's grown on me since 2016 is this troubling truth. Virtually every time he opens his mouth, he lies. I mean, we've never had that before.

Look, I was in Congress with Obama, and I called him out on a couple of doozies. But we've never had a president -- and this is pretty scary. We've never been in a situation where every single time a president opened his mouth, it was a lie. I don't give a damn what your politics are. That's got to be called out.

BERMAN: Let me ask you this. Because again, you're on conservative radio now. And you went after President Obama a lot in ways that you've now apologized for. Again, we'll stipulate you said he was a Muslim. You've apologized for that.

Had President Obama gone out in the White House, the South Lawn, looked up at the sky and said, "I am the chosen one," how would have 2015 Joe Walsh have treated that on the radio?

WALSH: 2015 Joe Walsh would have gone crazy. And John, more importantly, all of my listeners in conservative talk radio would have gone crazy.

This, again, is what's so disappointing. The silence. Trump increases the deficits more than Obama, and yet all of my listeners and all of the Republicans stay silent.

I've told you this before. The one good thing Donald Trump has done for me is he's taught me how absolutely ugly personal political hate is. Because I engaged in that way, way too much when I was in Congress. Trump has kind of shown us how -- how bad it can be, because that's -- that's what he always does.

BERMAN: I just want to make one thing clear. You said President Trump was a Muslim. I don't think accusing anyone of being a Muslim was an insult. It just wasn't true.

WALSH: Absolutely.

BERMAN: And it was used over a long period of time by people to attack the president for one reason or another.

WALSH: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Joe, can you win?

WALSH: Yes. Because here's -- here's the bet, I think. And I think -- by the way, John, don't trick me into saying can I win. I think -- I think a good challenger can win. Again, John, only if they make the moral case. This guy's unfit. He lies every time he opens his mouth. If you're not going to say that, then don't even challenge him.

BERMAN: Is it worth -- is it worth running, though, even if you can't win?

WALSH: Yes. Because this is a scary time. And if Republicans, John, stay silent in the face of this guy, I don't think the country will ever forgive the Republican Party.

[07:25:07] But forget about the Republican Party. If this guy gets four more years, we're in real, real trouble. It's worth doing anything you can do to try to stop that.

BERMAN: I've got to let you go. But when are you going to decide by? What's the deadline date?

WALSH: Labor Day's in, what, a week. If you want to get in, you've got to get in sometime within the next week or so.

BERMAN: All right. Former Congressman Joe Walsh, thank you for coming on this morning, although not revealing your intentions. Maybe leaning a little bit more toward it. Is that safe to say this morning?

WALSH: Safe to say. Good to be with you, John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Congressman. Appreciate it -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Fascinating. Always fascinating to talk to him. To hear his -- his new -- newfound feelings and to hear his future plans.

BERMAN: He's getting it from both the right and left. To be clear, he gets criticism from both the right and the left. The left's like, "Well, where were you? You said all these horrible things."

CAMEROTA: Right.

BERMAN: The right is like, "How do we believe you now?"

CAMEROTA: It's a precarious position to be in, but he's been in it now for a while.

All right. In the three weeks since Dayton and El Paso, since the mass shootings there, we've seen President Trump do, well, absolutely nothing to solve the problem of mass shootings. Will we see any meaningful change to address gun violence in this country? Two people who lost loved ones in the Parkland school massacre give us their take, next.

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