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Republican Narrowly Wins North Carolina Special Election; Poll: Trump Approval at 39%, Lowest Since January; Tornado Rips Through Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Trump Fires His Third National Security Advisor. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN BISHOP (R), NORTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT: We had a great victory tonight. Nice margin.

[05:58:01]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Carolina Nine will stay in Republican hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very close race in a district President Trump carried by 12 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats should not be playing this district.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a swing district. This should not be a competitive district at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody lasts long in the chaos of the Trump administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Bolton and his policy interests and his policy positions deviated quite dramatically from President Trump's.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president's entitled to the staff that he wants. He should have people that he trusts and values.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, September 11. It's always strange to say that date.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is. And it's always important to remember everything now associated with that date. And throughout the show, we'll be breaking in to bring you some of the coverage from the memorials.

CAMEROTA: It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And breaking overnight, Republican Dan Bishop narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina's special election. President Trump made an 11th-hour trip there to campaign for Bishop, and that may have helped the Republican win.

But this election also holds some warning signs for President Trump and congressional Republicans heading into the 2020 election. The narrow margin of victory in a district that Republicans have held for decades underscores the challenges that they are facing with suburban voters.

What's more, there's this new CNN national poll that shows 6 in 10 Americans believe President Trump does not deserve a second term.

BERMAN: Also this morning, President Trump is searching for his fourth national security adviser in three years. By the way, no president has ever had four national security advisers --

CAMEROTA: None.

BERMAN: -- in the first term. None.

CAMEROTA: OK.

BERMAN: Never.

CAMEROTA: I was wondering if that was ever.

BERMAN: It's never happened in ever. Ever.

CAMEROTA: Never you're saying.

BERMAN: Right. CNN has new reporting on a bitter argument between Bolton and the president Monday night over the president's decision to invite the Taliban to meet at Camp David.

According to a source, President Trump has been unhappy with John Bolton since, quote, "the beginning of time," because he felt his national security adviser wanted to start a war.

For his part, Bolton has been concerned about the president caving -- his words -- too often when dealing with dictators like Kim Jong-un.

And he's not going quietly. He texted reporters overnight saying, quote, "I will have my say in due course."

The president says a replacement will be appointed within a week, but we've heard that before. Don't hold your breath. CNN has learned at least ten names are being discussed.

We have a lot to cover this morning. We're going to begin with this special election in North Carolina. Ryan Nobles joins us live from Charlotte. An eked-out victory for the Republican there, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. Good morning.

This was a win for Republicans last night in North Carolina. This hotly-contested Ninth District. It ended up being a two-point victory for Dan Bishop, the Republican, over the Democrat, Dan McCready. And if this is a bellwether for 2020, there are warning signs for both

Republicans and for Democrats. For the Republicans, Bishop underperformed the race here in 2018 quite a bit in the suburbs, just outside Charlotte where we are tonight.

But it was the eastern part of this district, the rural area where Dan McCready, the Democrat, did much worse than he did less than a year ago. And that could be, in part, because of the late-minute visit that President Trump made on Monday in support of Bishop.

And after claiming victory last night, Bishop said, yes, President Trump had a big part in his victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BISHOP: Even though we were down not too long ago, the president and Vice President Pence committed themselves to this race and their help undoubtedly put us over the top.

It's an indication that President Trump's vision for America is -- is received warmly by people in the Ninth District. And -- and let's give him his due.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Now, under normal circumstances, this wouldn't even be a competitive race for Democrats. In the past, Donald Trump won this district in 2016 by 12 points. Republicans have held it since the '60s.

But the Republicans are giving President Trump for, at least in part, helping this candidate over the finish line. I had one Republican operative tell me last night that the president's visit here on Monday was like an offensive lineman opening up a hole on the two-yard line for their candidate and pushing him into the end zone.

So even though there are a lot to take from this and what it could mean for 2020, basically, everything stays the same. A Republican had this seat before, and a Republican will continue to represent the Ninth District -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Ryan. Thank you very much for all of that.

So for more on the implications of this race and CNN's new poll numbers, let's bring in Harry Enten, CNN senior political writer and analyst; and Laura Coates, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. Great to have both of you at the table.

So harry, if this is a bellwether, what does it tell us?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean, it tells you what we've seen all along, and that is the president of the United States is not exactly popular in this country. That this national environment still leans more towards the Democrats than towards Republicans. In a neutral political year, you'd expect Republicans to carry this district by double digits. But the fact was, I was here late last night. A lot of us were. And it was a close enough race that, even though Bishop came out in front, it was closer than Republicans would like.

BERMAN: It was closer. Both sides -- you know, Ryan was saying Republicans say the president pushed Bishop over the finish line. Democrats say the same thing. They think that the president's visit there undoubtedly helped him.

But these are the numbers that I think might make Republicans nervous nationwide, Laura.

Look at the margin. This is the North Carolina race. Bishop won by about 2 percent. Right? In this district in 2016, Donald Trump run by 12 percent. And in 2016, when he won this district by 12 percent, he won the state of North Carolina by 3.5 percent.

So follow my math here. The point is, if he's barely winning in a district he crushed in last time, it might mean that North Carolina could be in play.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And that's the bellwether for me. Because you have an instance where the president should have had a landslide victory. And this is essentially -- think in your mind -- this was, in some people's issue, a recall or some type of referendum on the White House.

[06:05:04]

And so even though he was not on the ballot, he went there, Pence went there. The last minute, they had a phone center set up.

And remember, the president was also in Greenville about, what, a month ago when he had the famous chants now of Ilhan Omar and "Send her back." This is an indication that people in North Carolina, maybe across the country -- Harry, you tell me -- the idea of being -- being -- rejecting that notion of being very polarizing and that moderate viewpoints are more of the game of the day. And this shows it.

CAMEROTA: I guess. I mean, although Dan Bishop is no Donald Trump. I mean, in other words --

COATES: He's not.

CAMEROTA: I'm only saying, if Donald Trump really were on the ballot, he perhaps would have won by more than two points. We just don't know. I mean, unless you think that he's a total proxy and stand-in for Donald Trump. You tell me.

ENTEN: I mean, what I'll tell you in this midterm -- past midterm election we saw higher correlation between the House vote and the previous presidential vote than we've seen in any midterm ever. Ninety percent of those who disapprove of the job that Donald Trump was doing decided to vote for the Democrat Party.

CAMEROTA: In the midterms. ENTEN: In the midterms. But we saw that same pattern leading up to

the midterms in those special elections. We're the difference between the 2016 base line. And what occurred in the special elections, between 2017 and 2018, very much mirrored what ended up happening in the 2018 House.

CAMEROTA: One last thing, though. There was more voter turnout in the midterms in 2018 than there was yesterday.

ENTEN: Yes. And I think that's a question, right? It makes it so this is, like, a rougher approximation, right? If there was gull turnout, would McCready have won? Would he have lost by four? But the general idea that this district ended up being more democratic than it was in the 2016 presidential vote. Very, very clear.

BERMAN: Right. Dan McCready did better in the suburbs than he did, by the way, in 2018. And way better in the suburbs than did in 2016. But worse in the rural areas. I mean, this is a warning sign still for Democrats that, even with their perfect candidate for this district, or who was seen as a good candidate, they can't make inroads in this rural area. What does that tell us nationwide?

COATES: Well, and the fact -- remember, the reason the first Republican in this race did not run for reelection or have special elections, because there was a fraud allegation.

So even with fraud on top of that, the Democrats still did not make the inroads they needed to. That essentially says maybe that there is the bellwether we're all talking about is actually misguided in the sense that all of the grounds that Democrats think that they're making because of the president's antics, perhaps other administrative functions, that they are not carrying the day for people.

So now the question is, what will? What will make the difference for people to actually have the tone and the pendulum shift the other direction? If fraud's not the issue, if this is not the issue, then what's going to be the case?

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look. I think the fact of the matter is that we discussed this over and over and over again. This is a district that leans more Republican than the nation as a whole. And this district was not that.

BERMAN: Thirty-five districts or less. Thirty-five districts in Republican hands are less Republicans in this one.

ENTEN: Right. And there are only, I believe, four districts that are currently represented by Democrats that were more Trump friendly in 2016 than this one.

This was an uphill climb for Democrats. They came close, but to be perfectly honest, it wasn't a big surprise that they weren't able to come out on top. But the fact that they came so close to me is somewhat worrisome.

CAMEROTA: Let's look at some CNN polls. These are hot off the presses. So this shows President Trump's approval rating right now. It is at 39 percent, Harry, and I know that you're looking at -- OK, disapproval is 55. And so you're comparing it with where he's been in recent months.

ENTEN: Yes, I think, look, that trend line on the screen right there says it all, right? He was consistently in the mid-40s in the middle part of this year. And then we've saw that drop to 39 percent this month.

And what I think is so important, though, is it's not just being seen in our poll. It's being seen across polls. NBC News/"Washington Post" poll, a drop of about five points. A Gallup poll, a drop of about five points. A Marist poll that literally just came out in the last hour, a drop of three points. And that is the thing that I think is worse, is that we're seeing this across all the polls.

And more than that, there's a real reason why. If you look at our CNN poll yesterday, what did we see? We saw the president's approval rating on the economy just barely above his disapproval rating. And we see a trend downward now. Look at this. The net approval ratings on the economy, down from plus 15 points in April, down to just now plus one points and a steady climb downward as the president has engaged in the trade wars and consumer sentiment and confidence in the future of the economy has gone southward, as well.

BERMAN: And we know from CNN reporting that those economic numbers are what is agitating the president right now.

ENTEN: Good reason.

BERMAN: His behavioral outbreaks.

All right. Stick around, guys. A lot more to talk about.

Breaking overnight. A tornado tore through Sioux Falls, South Dakota, leaving behind extensive damage. This is the window from a hospital there. You can see there it's blown out the floor there. Look at that. It's covered with broken glass.

The walls of an auto parts store peeled off completely. You see downed power lines, trees just strewn everywhere.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers here with much more on that and also the forecast -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, this storm just developed right over the city. There was a line of weather, but it wasn't really spinning until it got to Sioux Falls right there. And that's -- this is now backing you up about six hours as the storm rolled on by.

[06:10:10]

Eleven tornado reports yesterday. There may even be more. This happened in the overnight hours, in the dark hours. Those are the worst possible times for tornadoes to hit. People are sleeping. They don't hear the alarms. But another day, another round of severe weather today. First of all,

a batch goes to Minneapolis here in a couple of hours. But another round south of Sioux Falls, very close to Denver, moving into Nebraska again in the overnight hours tonight.

Highs there are in the 90s. That's a lot of heat. That's enough heat to cause severe weather. Ninety-five in D.C. today. Going to be a hot one across the East Coast.

Guys, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chad, thank you very much.

So with John Bolton out, who will take his place? And what will change in President Trump's foreign policy? All of that next.

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[06:15:28]

CAMEROTA: Well, this morning President Trump is looking for his fourth national security adviser after firing John Bolton. CNN has new reporting about what led to Bolton's departure and what it might mean for U.S. foreign policy.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House for us with more.

Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

It was awkward from the start. President Trump has another high- profile departure in a job that's seen unusual turnover since he took office. He's now looking for, as you said, the fourth national security adviser since coming to the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump abruptly firing his third national security, John Bolton. The president announcing it by tweet, writing that he told Bolton his services are no longer needed at the White House adding, "I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning."

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: John Bolton's priorities and policies just don't match up with the president's.

JOHNS: Minutes after, Bolton tweeting his version of what happened, writing, "I offered to resign last night, and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow.'"

The president's now-canceled secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David apparently the breaking point. Bolton thought it was a bad idea from the start. Sources tell CNN Bolton even told the president that to his face. Multiple sources tell CNN that Trump grew increasingly irritated with

Bolton's outspoken nature in recent months.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, John is very good. John is a -- he has strong views on things, but that's OK. I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing. Isn't it?

JOHNS: A source close to the White House tells us that President Trump has been complaining that John wanted to start a war almost since the beginning. And in meetings with dictators like North Korea's Kim Jong-un, the source says Bolton thought Trump caved too much.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you take Kim Jong-un at his word?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The president takes him as his word.

TAPPER: He does, but what about you?

BOLTON: My opinion doesn't matter.

JOHNS: Bolton's firing came before a scheduled White House press briefing with Secretary of State Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: The president's view of the Iraq War and Ambassador Bolton's was very different.

POMPEO: The president is entitled to the staff that he wants. He should have people that he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgments benefit him in delivering American foreign policy.

JOHNS: Some Trump allies backed Bolton's firing.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don't care if President Trump and Kim Jong-un go on vacation, if that's what it takes to give him up his -- give up the nuclear weapons. So let's give your way a try, and I'm going to support him all I can.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: CNN has learned that at least ten names are being floated for John Bolton's replacement. The president says he wants to name a successor next week -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Joe. Thank you very much. Keep us posted on that. The president often says one week and one week becomes one month, six months.

CAMEROTA: Are you referring to Infrastructure Week.

BERMAN: All of it.

CAMEROTA: All right. BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman.

She is the White House correspondent for "The New York Times." Maggie, this was something. Not only is Bolton out, but in the hours after, the knives were out for him in a way that I've not seen before in this White House. What does all of this tell you?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we've seen it before. I think we saw it with Steve Bannon, and I think we've seen it with any number of aides.

What we haven't seen before is someone who was fired fighting back and disputing the accounts on the record, which John Bolton did almost immediately.

What's going on, John, is the same thing that's been happening for a while, which is that the president had a national security adviser who was inevitably going to be at odds with him.

Their world views are diametrically opposed, and John Bolton is somebody who ran for president himself. So he sees himself as a principal and sees himself as something of an equal to the president or greater than the president.

And, you know, I think this is a discredit to the aides who have been telling all of us for months when we've been asking about the tensions between them, "No, no, you're overstating it." And then they admitted to it completely yesterday.

The president is starting from scratch. This is why it is advisable not to pick aides, based on how they perform on television but to talk to them ahead of time about -- and not based on how a major donor feels, like a Sheldon Adelson, who favored John Bolton, but to spend time with him about how they conform to your views.

I think in the meantime, there's -- you know, as Jeff said, there's 10 names at least being considered. It might be one of the names on that list. It might be somebody else who we're not thinking of. I think in the short-term, this empowers Mike Pompeo a great deal.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, I'm so glad you brought that up. Because as we know, the president uses FOX TV as his temp agency. And so he sees somebody who performs well on television, or he thinks they do or they get his attention somehow. And then, I mean, just ask K.T. McFarland. Ask Heather Nauert. Ask Bill Schein. Ask John Bolton.

[06:20:06]

I mean, it's as though he's -- I don't know what goes wrong once he meets them officially, but it's -- it's perhaps not the best way to find your next cabinet.

HABERMAN: It was utterly predictable they were not going to end up on the same page. And I think that Bolton, you know -- the president -- Mike Pompeo is correct. It's true of any president. The president is entitled to have a national security adviser who they think shares their views. It's just that it was clear from day one that John Bolton did not. And this president ran, among other things on, you know, getting out of Afghanistan on ending these foreign wars.

We know that John Bolton did not like the direction that that was taking. That was part of the final straw, but it was not the only straw. And in the case of John Bolton, he is someone who historically has made a lot of enemies among his fellow administration aides. And he did not have a ton of friends by the time this all happened.

So there were a number of people who were gleefully, you know, twisting the knife long before he left.

BERMAN: Maggie, the very first thing you said is what's different here is that John Bolton is not going quietly. He's arguing on the facts about how he was dismissed. He's made clear. He's going to speak out more in the future.

What is this going to look like? Is he going to sign onto the Joe Walsh campaign or being talking like Anthony Scaramucci? What do you expect to see here? What will the impact be of that?

HABERMAN: I don't think that he'll be talking like Anthony Scaramucci, and I don't think that this is going to turn into him being outspoken in that way. Because I think at the end of the day, he has policy objectives that align more closely with the Republican president than the people who are criticizing the Republican president.

But I do think that you are going to see a couple of questions. Does he return to FOX News, where he used to be a contributor? Or is FOX News going to be concerned about having him back on? Does he write a book? Does he start doing speeches?

I don't think we know yet, but it was a very clear gauntlet that he was throwing down yesterday, where they could not even agree on exactly what happened. And because John Bolton has often denied things that are true and the president has denied things that are true, it's hard to know which account to believe.

CAMEROTA: And so what is the feeling inside the White House and Pentagon of how this will change policy on Iran, Afghanistan, everything?

HABERMAN: There's not a belief it will change policy tremendously. Certainly, Mike Pompeo has been taking more of a role on a number of fronts, and he is much more aligned with the president.

There was -- I should not, there was a lot of frustration around the White House that people believe John Bolton had played a hand in letting it be known that Mike Pence had objected, along with him, to aspects of this planned Camp David meeting with Taliban officials.

I think it is going to mean that you're going to have a less hawkish voice within the number -- the group of people serving under him who are talking to him.

It's not the only person. There's a number of Republican senators who are close with the president and talk to him on foreign policy. But I think you're going to see, as we have on a number of fronts, policy views that hew more closely to how the president sees the world than in the first year, when he was learning the job and I think was willing to hear a bunch of different voices.

But the other perspective, Alisyn, inside the White House, candidly, is glee. John Bolton was not favored or liked. His staff was not favored or liked broadly within the West Wing. They saw him in the staff as undermining the president. I think the question is how many of John Bolton's staffers actually stay on now.

CAMEROTA: I didn't feel that Mike Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin were disguising that glee.

BERMAN: Are you kidding? They were practically dancing.

HABERMAN: It was -- it was yes.

BERMAN: Dancing. That was really unseemly, if you want to ask.

But Maggie, what does Mike Pompeo ascendant look like here? A more empowered Mike Pompeo, if that's what's going to happen? And there are some people speculating on -- I can't imagine it would ever happen. You see a Henry Kissinger situation where he could take on two portfolios, like national security advisor. There's no way that would happen, is there?

HABERMAN: I mean, there's always a way that anything could happen in this White House, but I think it's unlikely. I talked about that possibility with a couple of people yesterday, and all of them said that that is not realistic, in no small measure because Mike Pompeo is still seen as likely to run for Senate.

And if he goes, I don't think that they're going to start down a road for him, and he would have to go at some point in the coming months.

But I do think that, at least for the time being, it is going to be Mike Pompeo who has the president's ear more, and certainly, we know that Mike Pompeo was much more supportive of these Afghanistan discussions than John Bolton was. You're going to see other scenarios like that going forward.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, thank you.

HABERMAN: Thank you, guys.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for all the reporting. Really interesting.

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, there are new accusations against the newest player for the New England Patriots, Antonio Brown. We will let you know what he is accused of doing, how he is responding, how the Patriots are responding. What's next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. Breaking overnight, a former trainer is accusing NFL star receiver Antonio Brown of rape and two other instances of sexual assault. This is according to a federal lawsuit filed in Florida on Tuesday.

The suit was filed one day, just one day after Antonio Brown signed with the New England Patriots. The team now says it is waiting for the league to investigate the allegations, which Brown denies.

I want to bring in Laura Coates again, CNN legal analyst; and Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and former executive vice president of communications for the National Football League.

Let me read you part of the statement from the accuser, Brittany Taylor. We're naming her because she came forward and named herself here. She says, as a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision. I have found strength in my faith and my family and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault. Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person.

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