Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Criticized for Inviting Taliban to U.S. Near Anniversary of 9/11; Dorian Survivors Desperate to Evacuate as Death Toll Climbs. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very odd to invite a terrorist organization like that at Camp David, that's not in keeping with the way that the United States negotiates.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): The president should not be negotiating with these really evil people.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Lots of bad folks have come through. The reason you're in negotiations is almost always because the person across the table from it isn't exactly honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy thousand people now left homeless because of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. So many of those islands completely obliterated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have ships coming in back and forth all day, taking folks out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, food doesn't matter to me right now. All I want to get on that boat.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. It is a beautiful morning here in New York. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world this is NEW DAY.

And Congress is back today from its six-week summer recess. Lawmakers are returning to a full slate of issues and investigations. For Democrats, this week will feature the first substantive vote on an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Meanwhile, the debate will be wrapping up in both chambers to avoid another government funding standoff. And dealing with the nation's gun violence epidemic following a summer plague by mass shootings.

BERMAN: Also, the White House is dealing with a new whiff of controversy this morning, questions about whether the U.S. government, including maybe even the military, is serving as something of a booking agent for Trump properties.

The U.S. Air Force is ordering a review of all overseas layovers after it was revealed the crew members stayed at the president's upscale resort in Scotland several times. And this news comes just days after Vice President Pence stayed at the Trump Golf Resort in Ireland, which was more than 180 miles from his official business in Dublin.

Also this morning, we're getting stunning new details about how a planned summit at Camp David with the Taliban, controversial in and of itself, just a few days before the 9/11 anniversary. We're getting new details about how this summit fell apart.

Joining me now is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political analyst. Maggie contributed to the lead story in "The Times" this morning that looks into this summit. And it calls it -- let me read here -- "An extraordinary few days of ad hoc diplomatic wrangling that upended the talks in a weekend Twitter storm. On display were all of the characteristic traits of the Trump presidency, the yearning ambition for the grand prize, the endless quest to achieve what no other president has achieved, the willingness to defy convention, the volatile mood swings and the tribal infighting."

So Maggie, as I said, you contributed to this terrific lead story here. Do you have a sense of what exactly happened here? What was the summit going to do?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via phone): The summit was supposed to be about bringing together Afghan leaders and Taliban leaders, and it was basically the grand finale, or was supposed to be, of talks going on and that were basically close to finalize in terms of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban.

But what happened was a couple of things happened. There was concern on the Afghan leadership side that the agreement wasn't meeting their concern, that they hadn't really been brought into the discussion, but supposedly took a gamble and were willing to come to this meeting.

But then there was a car bombing in Afghanistan that killed several people, including Americans. And the president decided then that he could not go ahead with this. This was an agreement, a peace brokering at Camp David that he wanted as part of what we know he tends to see as the grand gesture befitting him as a deal maker.

It was clear as of Thursday, it was not going ahead. He chose over the weekend to suddenly announce that we can -- we can speculate as to why. It could be because he wanted distraction. It could be, because he just wanted to share it. But it was -- it was suddenly happening, and then it suddenly wasn't. And that it was all done in the cloak of secrecy.

BERMAN: It's interesting, because the Camp David aspect of it, apparently, according to your reporting and others, it was the president who wanted it to be settled at Camp David. This followed a lot of intricate diplomacy from Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha with the Taliban, but the president wanted it at Camp David. And I'll read here: "Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting just to be a celebration of the deal. After staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the deal maker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be."

Now, the Camp David meeting, in and of itself, though, Maggie, appears to have been a problem, at least for some of the people involved in these negotiations.

HABERMAN: That's right. And look, there were concerns about it from some of the parties who were involved in these talks.

And it's worth remembering that, on the U.S. side, there is, as there has been for a while, contention between Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, and John Bolton, the president's main national security voice, who has been sort of sidelined through some of these Afghanistan discussions.

Bolton was expressing more skepticism about this deal, as we understand it, more than Pompeo was. And the other piece that I'm struck by here is, at least from our reporting, there doesn't appear to have been anybody inside the White House or the administration, cautioning them about just how this would look.


A, pitfalls to the president of hosting a Taliban leader at Camp David but also doing this a few days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

BERMAN: Yes. Let me read you the statement from Liz Cheney, who of course, is the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

She says, "Camp David is where America's leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot here. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The president is right to end talks."

So what you're saying, Maggie, is that no one thought to say, "Hey, this may be a bad idea three days before September 11"?

HABERMAN: They don't appear to have. As best as we can tell, it didn't come up at all. It was one of the most jarring facts that the existence of this plan in the first place. I would note about that, Congresswoman Cheney's statement, though, she's saying the president was right to end the talks. She's not commenting on whether he was right to extend the invitation in the first place. It isn't that these just sprang up out of the air for something he wanted to do.

BERMAN: Other Republicans there are certainly critical of the invitation. Adam Kinzinger says, "Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 9/11 and continues; and he will be allowed in our great country. Never, full stop."

And I don't like to play this game too often, you know, the can you imagine if Barack Obama had been president. But can you imagine if Barack Obama had been president and invited the Taliban to Camp David? What certain Republicans would be saying now?

HABERMAN: The outrage, I think, would have been enormous. And, look, the president is very focused, as we know, on trying to end the war in Afghanistan. He campaigned on it. And is something that I think he -- of the few things that I think are genuine, long-held impulses for him, I do think questioning the duration of this war is one of them.

This is the kind of move that would -- that would get applause from certain supporters among his base. But it was going to open him up to enormous criticism from the left and the right. And I think we sort of just see some of that now.

Again, I think he's discovering that these things are more complicated than how he campaigned on them. And I do think he is sincere in his desire to end the war, but I think a lot of even his own supporters are left questioning why go about it in this way.

BERMAN: To be clear, plenty of Democrats, including those running for president right now, would like to see a full withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

So there's bipartisan support in opposition in different ways, but it doesn't fall strictly on party lines.

Maggie, one other point here. U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is it still possible that the president withdraws the number or draws down U.S. troops the same way he was considering, with nothing in return from the Taliban?

HABERMAN: I don't think so, based on every conversation I've had over the last couple of days. Obviously, don't rule out anything with how the president approaches things, but I don't think so. I think that this is a hot stove moment where he is going to recognize that it's going to prompt enormous blowback if he goes ahead that way.

BERMAN: All right. Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for helping us understand this story this morning. Really appreciate your time.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.


Joining us now is Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director, who recently announced he is no longer a supporter of President Trump.

I think that understates how you're feeling about President --


CAMEROTA: It's not that recent. We'll get into some of the language you're currently using.

Let's just talk. This is a big week. OK, so Congress is back. And all sorts of things are going to be happening.

This Wednesday there's going to be the first, basically, I think sort of official vote in the House Judiciary to begin some sort of impeachment hearings. What do you predict -- how do you predict the White House will respond and the president will respond to that?

SCARAMUCCI: I think the first thing you have to look at is what Speaker Pelosi is going to do. I think three or four months ago, I think on the table was no impeachment, because they didn't want to cause this kind of civic/civil war inside the country and inside the government in Washington.

But I think now three months later, if you look at the excessive tweeting and you look at the bizarre behavior and you look at the -- I mean, it's not even lack of presidential behavior. It's just lack of normal human behavior. And I've said this before on this air, and I'll say it again.

If you are a board member of a publicly- traded company and you're looking at this behavior and you look at the rapidity of the tweeting, 122 last weekend, 100 this weekend. Constant attacking of his fellow citizens, the dissembling of policy and all of the nonsense that you just saw with the Taliban.

Moreover, Taliban is saying that that never happened. I mean, they're -- they're issuing a denial. The president is taking a Sharpie and he's moving weather maps. And so how are you going to believe him?

Now, obviously, I don't believe the Taliban. But how are you going to be -- believe the president of the United States when he's got the Sharpie in his hand, and he can change anything at any moment? And he's probably lied now 12,000 times.

So -- so I don't know. I think that three months ago, there would be no impeachment talk that would be realistically on the table. But I think it's very hard to understand how it can't be now, given the magnitude of what's going on.


SCARAMUCCI: Because of all of this, you have predicted, and now it's happened, that there would be a primary challenger, a Republican primary challenger to President Trump. And so we've seen various people come forward. And just this weekend, former South Carolina Governor Sanford. Is that what you had in mind?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think there's more. I think there's two or three other people that are on the fence right now, thinking about it.

CAMEROTA: Like who? SCARAMUCCI: Well, see, that's the unfairness about that question,

Alisyn. Because if I'm having private conversations with somebody and they're not ready yet, it would be unfair for them, to like, out them here on the network. So we have to wait.

CAMEROTA: People that you have more confidence in making a dent than Mark Sanford?

SCARAMUCCI: Not -- not necessarily. I think that just the process now that's in place and the rolling effect of Joe Walsh and Governor Weld and, obviously, Governor Sanford, just the rolling effect of that will start to open the discussion about how ridiculous this is.

I mean, I don't understand it myself. I'm not a politician.

CAMEROTA: Meaning how ridiculous, you mean the president's behavior?

SCARAMUCCI: The president's behavior is ridiculous at this point. It's a combination of impetuosity, mental decline, bullying, you know, moot. It's obviously a mood disorder. I mean, there's a whole host of things that are going on right now that -- and he's leading the free world. He's leading the United States of America.

And so as a responsible citizen or an elected official, particularly an elected official in the Republican Party that would like to save the Republican Party, you're going to have to do something at some point.

If you wait too long, it's almost like the car in Thelma and Louise. You know, you're going to ride the car off the cliff with this guy? And it's ridiculous to even think about that.

But he's doing a very good job on his own. I socialized this idea with John -- John Berman a few weeks -- you know, six weeks ago. That this would be a full-blown meltdown situation, a Trump-nobyl, if you will. They're still trying to cover it up. But as they get into the second or third episode, they're going to start to have to clean it up.

CAMEROTA: Just to dive into that a little bit. Because you make all of these claims that the president is in mental decline. Obviously, you're not his therapist. But you know, Susan Glasser had a piece in "The New Yorker," where she actually used the math. She went back and looked at the tweets that malign someone, that insult somebody, that uses, you know, nasty names. And they, since just two years ago, August of 2017 versus August of 2019, it's, like, tripled. But what's -- so there's that metric. But what metric are you using?

SCARAMUCCI: Do you really have to look at the metrics? I mean, just -- can everybody just stop? I mean, here's what just happened. OK? We spent two and a half years where we're hyper-normalizing gaslighting and we're hyper-normalizing lying.

We have so much respect for that office and the august nature of the presidency that we now have somebody that's obviously not well in the presidency. And now we're trying to hyper-normalize what he's doing. OK. So let's just take a look back. I'm not his therapist. I don't

need to be his therapist. What I need to be is a responsible citizen and take a look at the situation and say, "OK. This is intolerable at this point. What are we all going to do about this collectively?"

And so as -- as we're socializing the idea, Alisyn. It is mainstreaming now, and there are responsible Republicans that are going to come forward, primary him, and obviously, ask him to step down.

CAMEROTA: This weekend he got into a Twitter spat with John Legend?

SCARAMUCCI: Despicable stuff.

CAMEROTA: Why is that despicable?

SCARAMUCCI: Because he's a private citizen. He's a fellow citizen in the United States. His wife is a private citizen.

CAMEROTA: Yes, John Legend. But John Legend and Chrissy Teigen --

SCARAMUCCI: Let's talk about dementia. He may not have -- he may not have normally -- You're going to normalize it now.

CAMEROTA: Well, no, I -- well, a little bit. I'm going to normalize it, because they're celebrities and so they make political statements. OK? So celebrities Chrissy Teigen, John Legend make political statements on Twitter. And so the president responds.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. You've had 44 presidents. All right. Grover Cleveland was president twice.

Have any of the other presidents in recent history, modern history, gone after their private citizens, whether they're celebrities or not celebrities?

So what you're doing is normalizing it because of the last two and a half years. This guy has acted like a bully, crazy person against his fellow citizens.

He may not have early-stage dementia, but he's obviously got early- stage fascism. Because if you go down the checklist of things that people do, is they attack and they use their political power to go after their private citizens.

Now, he's gone after my wife. He's gone after John Legend's wife. If you want to go after me, no problem. I'm not a candidate for office, just a fellow citizen.

But, you know, I'm speaking out against you. Go after me. You're going to go after my wife? You're going to go after John Legend's wife? I mean, this guy is a despicable guy. OK?

To use his own words, he's a very, very bad guy. And the fact that we're now all sitting here and we're trying to normalize it. Go ahead. What's the normalization that you're going to -- what are you going to -- what are you going to argue here, Alisyn? We're going to say that it's normal for him to attack private citizens.

CAMEROTA: I'm talking about -- I'm going to ask about you. Because man, when you fall off the Trump train, you fall off the Trump train. And so -- it's like you've just, like, taken off blinders that you would say that you had for all of these years. And I'm just curious.

SCARAMUCCI: That's -- that's not really fair.


SCARAMUCCI: That's not really fair, because I can point to seven or eight things over the last two years where I said, "Listen, I roundly disagree with that." Wasn't a couch here, but at your other studio you where --

CAMEROTA: Agreed. But you didn't call him, as you just did on Twitter, you just said a truly despicable, horrific guy.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. Well, he --

CAMEROTA: So there were things that bothered you before, but now it's as though it's really getting under your skin.

SCARAMUCCI: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. It's not under my skin. Honestly, it's not. I'm just reflecting back what he's doing in the society so people can see how absolutely nasty it is.

Again, when you're gaslighting something and you're making it hyper- normal, and you're doing a little bit yourself, you're -- you're conflating the situation. So let's all step back. I accepted responsibility where I allowed the

gaslighting to affect me. I wrote a pretty, you know, explanatory op- ed in "The Washington Post."

I followed it up with "The Financial Times" and "The Sunday Express." I'm writing another one right now about what he's actually doing to the national security complex and the executive branch.

And he's a clear and present dangerous to the society now. So -- so if you want to accuse me of not seeing it early on, if you want me to say that I was wrong for not seeing it early on, I was wrong for not seeing it early on.

But here's the problem now. You've got a lot of people that know that it's wrong, and we have to create an offramp for those people.

CAMEROTA: All right. Anthony Scaramucci, always great to talk to you. And some of the things that you have predicted have actually --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm going to switch gears. It sounds like you're -- I'm sorry?

CAMEROTA: Some of the things that you predict actually come to pass.

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, it's going to get way worse now.

CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, he's in full blown, you know, meltdown mania now. It's going to get way worse.

CAMEROTA: What part's going to get worse?

SCARAMUCCI: Just the expression of his personality, the nastiness, the meanness. I mean, he's in full Chernobyl meltdown mania. And so the Sharpie stuff was just, you know -- we're just getting started here now in terms of where he's going.

CAMEROTA: OK. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you very much.

SCARAMUCCI: God to be here, I guess.

CAMEROTA: Great to have -- Come on. You enjoyed this, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: John, you going to interview me next time? She was very rough on me over here. I wonder what's going to happen next time I come.

CAMEROTA: Well, hard to predict, as are so many things. Thank you. John.

BERMAN: I think he accused you of being normal. He obviously doesn't know you.

BERMAN: All right. Hurricane Dorian. Survivors still struggling to find relief. So why were hundreds of evacuees forced off a ferry bound for the U.S.? The response from custom officials. That's next.



BERMAN: All right. This morning, we're getting word of new suffering for Bahamians when they need it the least. As evacuations continue, hundreds of Bahamians hoping to flee the devastation were told to get off a ferry headed to the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, all passengers that don't have U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark.


BERMAN: So this video was taken aboard a ferry leaving the Bahamas. It was posted to social media by a reporter for CNN affiliate WSVN. The announcement, as you could hear there, told evacuees traveling to the U.S. without a visa to disembark.

One woman told a reporter that as many as 130 people left the ferry, including families with children. Now, on its website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says visas are not required for Bahamian residents flying to the United States if they also meet other criteria, like a passport, no criminal record. Problem is: the airports in Freeport in Grand Bahama Island, the airport's simply been destroyed. So many people have to take a boat.

Florida lawmakers have been pressing President Trump to waive the visa requirements for evacuees.

CAMEROTA: The agency leading U.S. relief efforts in the Bahamas describes what they're seeing as looking like, quote, "nuclear bombs were dropped." So far, about $4 million in U.S. international aid has been announced just for the basics, like food and water and shelter.

So the death toll now stands at 45. Of course, that is expected to rise.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Nassau with more -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. the other number there, Alisyn and John, is 70,000 homeless. One in five Bahamians are now homeless. Given the destruction there on the island, which really, you could launch a million superlatives here. It will not begin to describe what we've seen on the Abaco Islands and, of course, people were still desperate to leave.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me the 50 persons who are going. OK?

NEWTON (voice-over): Finally, they're going. Relief for the thousands stranded in apocalyptic conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone that wants to leave can leave. We have -- we have ships coming in back and forth all day taking folks out.

NEWTON: In Marsh Harbour, they line the port hour after hour with one thing on their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, food doesn't even matter to me right now. All I want is just to get on that boat.

NEWTON: Lugging belongings they have scavenged from demolished homes and lives. Thousands were finally evacuated.




WILMORE: Yes, Millie. I OK.

NEWTON: Anne Wilmore was letting her family know she was OK and getting on a boat. It's little solace, though. She has friends and relatives she hasn't heard from since the storm.

The government has warned the death toll will rise dramatically, a fact already known to those who lived through this.

Search dogs are on the islands but strained already from the overwhelming job at hand. Morticians at this makeshift morgue told us they are still waiting for the real work to begin.

The grim task of recovery will be a challenge, they say, as bodies are submerged, others buried alive.

Bahamian and U.S. aid officials confirm that, based on aerial and ground assessments, the Abaco Islands remain a priority for search and recovery. Nowhere more so than the mud, the Haitian neighborhood savagely flattened by this storm.

(on camera): They don't have an estimate as to how many people were here or how many people managed to get out alive. But I mean, look at this. Their family belongings strewn everywhere. It is impossible to make out even where the homes were and where they stood. And that means there is no way of knowing how many victims remain under the rubble.

WILLIAM DAVIS, DORIAN SURVIVOR: You know, and I crossed this today, and there was one laying here and there was one laying there. And this is -- this is the beginning of the mud.

NEWTON (voice-over): William Davis barely survived. This boat ended up on the rooftop of this business. That's how ferocious the surge was. He knows why the death toll so far won't stand.

DAVIS: No way. I -- I think it's going to be astonishing, the death number.

NEWTON (on camera): How many do you think, even from people you know?

DAVIS: Because you know, just from right here, we have, you know, four from right here.

NEWTON (voice-over): He believes those four victims were swept away to sea, and that could be Dorian's indelible legacy. Not just the destruction, but the fact that loved ones now counted as missing may never be found.


CAMEROTA: Paula, just explain to us what happens next for all of the people there who can't ever return -- well, certainly can't return now to those homes.

You know, we just watched that video taken this weekend of a whole -- 130 folks from the Bahamas being unceremoniously forced to leave a boat that they had, you know, gone to for shelter, hoping to get out. They, for whatever reason, couldn't because they didn't have a visa, our -- the U.S. government is saying. Where are people supposed to go now?

NEWTON: Well, the issue is this. And just to get back to that, Bahamians don't need a visa, usually, to go to the United States. What they need, though, is a clean bill of health in terms of their criminal record. And that's something that's difficult to get.

Alisyn, John, I can tell you in speaking to residents, that's the first thing that they thought of. Who can get me that criminal background check from the United States from local authorities so I can get to the United States? So many of them have relatives in the United States. They want to get there, but they know it will be difficult. It was absolutely top of mind.

Then let's deal with the people that are here in Nassau. I was just saying that, look, as many as one in five in the Bahamas are now homeless.

People are worried about coming here. They're in shelters now. They have what they need right now. But they know that this country will be strained to get their kids in school, to get them jobs. And they have seen what has happened in the other storms. They don't just want to languish.

And the other issue is how do you rebuild? Where does the money come from and where do you begin when you're looking at your home, which is down to the foundations? You could look at your school, your church, your local government office. It is all gone. And they have very little confidence right now that any of it will come back soon or if ever.

CAMEROTA: Gosh, there's so much uncertainty. Paula, thank you very much for all of the reporting from there.

All right. So we're just days away now from the next Democratic presidential debate. Is Joe Biden facing some stiffer competition today? What some new polls reveal.