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Trump Defends Syria Troop Withdrawal; Trump Campaign Takes Lead on Impeachment Strategy; U.S. Deficit Nears $1 Trillion; U.S. Diplomat's Wife Flees U.K. after Deadly Crash. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 8, 2019 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, President Trump is facing harsh criticism from some of his closest allies, blasting his decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of an expected invasion by Turkey. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the plan would only benefit Russia, Iran and the Assad regime. The president, for his part, is defending the move.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we've been in Syria for a long time, and it was supposed to be a very short hit. And a hit on ISIS. But it didn't work out that way. They never left. And they've been there for many, many years.

I spoke with President Erdogan of Turkey and I said, you got to treat them good. You got to take care of ISIS.

Don't forget, we've captured -- we defeated this group largely, defeated ISIS 100 percent.


BERMAN: All right, CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in Iraq's Kurdish region for the very latest here.

And, Clarissa, what has the response been from the Kurds?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you, John, it's not only U.S. politicians who are putting up really stiff resistance to President Trump's seemingly sudden decision to pull back U.S. troops from the border, essentially allowing Turkey to go ahead and launch whatever kind of military encouragement it sees fit. Iraqi, Kurdish forces here also in Syria are deeply troubled by the decision, but they're also, I think it's fair to say, John, deeply confused. They simply don't understand exactly what is going to happen here. They're particularly confused by President Trump's tweet saying that if he deems in all his wisdom that the Turkish military has done something that is, quote, off limits, that he will be responding by decimating Turkey economically. So they want to know what exactly are President Trump's red lines and

what exactly will the U.S. do when push comes to shove to try to protect the Syrian Kurds, who, it's important to remember, have been the U.S.' staunchest ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS. Tens of thousands of them have been killed to that end.

Also, this is not just about the U.S. seemingly hanging out one of its most important allies in the region to dry. This is about geopolitical concerns. Concerns of security. What you heard from Republicans who are worried that Russia will step in to fill the void and benefit from this situation, that the regime of Bashar al Assad, which is responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, will also benefit because essentially the Kurds will have no one else to turn to, to help get protection from Turkey. So there's concern about that.


And then there's concern about these ISIS camps. Tens of thousands of either ISIS fighters or family members of ISIS fighters, many of them radicalized, are now in prison camps under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces. If there is a military invasion into northern Syria by the Turkish military, the concern is that those Syrian Kurdish forces will be forced to leave those camps to go to fight. And then what happens to the ISIS fighters inside those camps? That is something that is deeply troubling, not just regionally, but to European leaders, who are also really scratching their heads to try to understand what exactly the impetus was behind President Trump's decision.

Everyone's saying on the Syrian side that they're waiting to see. They've been through this before in January when President Trump said he would pull out all his forces. That didn't end up happening quite that way then, and they're hoping that maybe they get another stay of execution this time, Alisyn.

BERMAN: They're hoping for a flip-flop. They are literally hoping for a presidential flip-flop, which is telling in and of itself.

Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for being there for us.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the Trump campaign will lead the response to the impeachment inquiry. What that means, next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump's re-election campaign is attempting to take the lead of the White House impeachment strategy. Campaign officials have blasted out talking points, coordinated with surrogates and even prepared an impeachment themed video that was ready for the president to tweet out moments after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she was launching a formal inquiry.

Let's talk about this strategy and bring in CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary and led the White House war room during his impeachment.

So, Joe, they're beginning to take your free advice, which is they need to develop a particular group that will lead the strategy. You had called for -- or you had suggested a war room or akin to what happened in the Clinton White House. But this is the Trump campaign, which, let's face it, has been an effective arm of fundraising. Their fundraising gang. They have a ton of money and messaging for President Trump.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, listen, you know, a war room isn't necessarily a room where people sit. It's an organized effort of people who all they do is work on the pushback of impeachment. And it makes some sense for the campaign to do it because, you're right, they have unlimited resources. And I think the single most coherent defense of the president so far has been an ad they did where they kind of acknowledged that, yes, he may have done some things wrong, but that's Donald Trump, he breaks the rules. He's a tough guy. He doesn't go by Washington norms, which has been their message the whole time. He's a disrupter. Judge him by his results, not how he gets to there.

The ironic thing I think for me is, it is the exact opposite approach. I was the press secretary for the re-election campaign for Bill Clinton, and we funneled everything through the White House and through the prism of policy and doing things for the people because we thought if the campaign, you know, trumpeted things, it seems political. But I think they don't have many choices. The White House staff, I think, is in disarray. The Hill doesn't know what to do. They're running back and forth. So the campaign is where this is going to be centered.

BERMAN: Hot off the presses, friends, a new poll from "The Washington Post," which has terrible numbers in here for the president. Support for an impeachment inquiry is now at 58 percent. That is up significantly. But, more significantly, 49 percent say they are now for removal, which is up significantly from July. Among independents, 57 percent support the inquiry, 49 percent support removal. Support for the inquiry is up among Republicans to 30 percent. Twenty percent of Republicans favor removal.

These are brutal numbers for the president.

LOCKHART: They are terrible numbers. And it's bad news across the board. These numbers, with Republicans, are creeping up. You know they -- I can understand 30 percent on the inquiry, but the 20 percent for removal is terrible.

But even worse news is independents. Donald Trump won because he convinced enough independents that Hillary Clinton didn't have the character to be president. It's ironic now or absurd now.

Independent wills decide this next election. And when you have 50 percent of them now with only at the -- in the second inning of the story saying he should be removed, that number will only go up. That is just -- that is very hard to see his path to electoral victory. He may survive impeachment, but it's very hard to see at this point how he survives Election Day.

CAMEROTA: And yet, I mean, we have reporting that Democrats in districts that Trump won are getting an earful when they've been on recess, and they're having these town hall meetings and people are yelling at them about starting an impeachment inquiry.

LOCKHART: Yes, you know, my guess is, if I'm a Republican in any of these districts, I'm going to show up at these town halls and make sure that they feel some heat.

I think if you go and look at the vast majority of town hall meetings, you'll find that people are saying, well, we don't care that much about impeachment. We care about health care. We care about jobs. We care about minimum wage being raised. That's what, I think, most of them are hearing. But, you know, a lot of these town halls, having been in this business for a while of trying to get as many of your people to the town halls as you can, to create that atmosphere, I don't think -- I -- let's put it this way, I think Pelosi has given the vulnerable Democrats maximum protection, but they, you know, they still --

CAMEROTA: But you put more stock in the polls than you do what's happening at the town halls for Democrats?


LOCKHART: I -- I think the Democrats that I've talked to uniformly tell me that they're surprised that more of their constituents aren't making a bigger deal of this. I think the polls show that people are concerned. But when you get your member of Congress in front of you, you have a -- you generally, if it's genuine, you bring up an issue that you care about in your life.

BERMAN: Nancy Pelosi's putting this poll in every inbox in Congress this morning for the Democrats, no question. And it shows me that perhaps those Democrats who might have had some angina over their decision are having less and less of it as the days go on.

LOCKHART: Yes, and I think, you know, Ukraine is -- is a difference maker because this is so clear and it has so much to do with protecting the next election that they -- that gives them the cover I think they need to do something that is (INAUDIBLE). We should never think that impeachment is some simple, political act. It is the most dire consequence or action you can take as a member of Congress. And, yes, I think it's proven -- she's proven right to have waited as long as she did.

CAMEROTA: Joe Lockhart, thank you very much for all of your expertise.

LOCKHART: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Now to this story.

The wife of an American diplomat left Britain after being accused of killing a 19-year-old in a car crash. So will the U.S. maintain her diplomatic immunity or send her back to the U.K.? The parents of the teenager killed in that crash join us next.


BERMAN: All right, brand new numbers from the Congressional Budget Office on the deficit. Remember, candidate Trump promised to get rid of the national debt in eight years. Doesn't look like that's happening based on the numbers we're seeing just this morning.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans here with that.



Yes, you can't do that when you've got budget buster numbers from the Congressional Budget Office. The budget deficit approaching a trillion dollars for the year, $984 billion for 2019. That is officially the highest since 2012.


It's almost 5 percent of GDP, 5 percent of the size of the entire economy.

So how did we get here? More spending on Medicare, defense and interest payments. Government spending is growing twice as fast as revenue. Those big corporate tax cuts President Trump signed into law back in 2017 mean less money coming in. The gap has only ever exceeded 1 trillion four times in the period immediately following the global financial crisis. Never when an economy is strong.

Of course the White House dismissed the deficit, saying -- has dismissed this deficit saying a roaring Trump economy would fix it. Instead, it's been a drip, drip, drip of downgraded growth forecast and rising risks.

Let me tell you what they are. Manufacturing is a contraction. Employment in American factories down 2,000 in September. The bigger services sector is wobbling. And economists worry the president's trade war will stall the American economy, not necessarily push it into a recession, but stop it in its tracks.

The New York Fed now predicts a fourth quarter GDP, fourth quarter economic growth, of only 1.3 percent. Not the economy the president promised heading into an election, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine, thank you very much for all of that.

So, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging the U.S. to reconsider giving diplomatic immunity to an American diplomat's wife. Johnson says Anne Sacoolas was behind the wheel of a car that crashed into 19-year-old Harry Dunn's motorcycle in August killing him. Police in the U.K. say she was driving on the wrong side of the road and left the country after this crash.

Joining us now from London are Harry Dunn's parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, and the Dunn family spokesperson, Radd Seiger.

Charlotte and Tim, we're so, so sorry for your loss and so sorry that you haven't been able to get any sort of justice or even answers about this.

Charlotte, what have investigators told you about what happened that night of August 27th?

CHARLOTTE CHARLES, MOTHER OF HARRY DUNN: It was very clear what happened. The driver of the car pulled out of REF Carlton (ph) on the wrong side of the road. CCTV evidence proves that that's what happened. She traveled 350 to 400 yards, and the first person she came across was -- was our boy, Harry. Unfortunately on the barrow (ph) of a hill. They had no chance of avoiding each other. He certainly had no chance of avoiding her and the size of the car that she was in.

And then we -- we were pretty much led to believe it would be a clear cut case. She was on the wrong side of the road. He was riding perfectly safely and in accordance with U.K. British law.

CAMEROTA: And, Tim, tell us what happened when you heard that the driver had fled the country.

TIM DUNN, FATHER OF HARRY DUNN: Because it took a while for us to get that information, we were devastated. We thought it -- everything was going along smoothly. The police had been doing their job. And then when they come to a meeting with us as a family, and told us it was just heart wrenching. We were just devastated. We couldn't believe it.

CAMEROTA: As you all know, the 1961 Vienna Convention says that diplomats and their families are typically immune from prosecution in the host country.

What's your response to that?

DUNN: Our understanding of the law is that the diplomat is immune if they are in threat, not immune if they have caused an accident or actually killed somebody.

CAMEROTA: Radd, I know that this is not -- you're not just the family's spokesperson. Your son, as we understand it, was Harry's dear friend. Can you tell us just about the loss that everyone is experiencing?


We live in a rural part of the country. It's a very small community, maybe about 500 people in our village, and there's a couple of villages around. We are -- everybody knows everybody else.

My son was a good friend of both Harry and his twin brother Nile. You know, these kids grew up together since, you know, they were -- they've basically known each other since they were babies.

This has had a devastating impact, well, not just in our little part of the country, but the whole country. And we can now feel, you know, that everybody is sharing our loss. And, you know, it's -- Alisyn, it's difficult to put into words. I -- you know, I'm here as the family spokesman, family representative, but Harry was one of my buddies. And, you know. I -- you know, I went on school trips with him and laughed and played. And so I'm -- I'm trying to keep myself together and help this family through this, you know, needless, senseless, you know, situation on top of the grief that they're having to deal with.

But I'm, you know, speaking to you honestly, I'm, you know, I'm having to keep it together myself because six weeks ago Harry was a, you know, lively person around the village who everybody loved.


And, you know, you know, and now he's gone. And my son is -- is -- is struggling too, you know. We're all struggling.

CAMEROTA: We hear it. We can -- we can feel that.

SEIGER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And so, Charlotte, what do you want the driver of that car to know today?

CHARLES: Just how much we're suffering, I suppose. You know, we're six weeks on. And even though this supposed diplomatic immunity has put a cloak around her, protected her, surely as a human and a mom herself, I just want her to know that we're completely broken. She's -- she's broken our family. We've all got to try and find another way of living our lives. We don't know where to start. We've gone from it being an open and closed pretty straightforward case, to it being now the complete opposite.

We don't know how she's feeling. We don't know whether she's remorseful, whether she's just managing to ignore it, get on with her life. So anything -- any contact from her would -- would be a crumb of hope.


You all need diplomatic help. You all, I know, are reaching out to the British foreign minister. And I know that you wish that leaders in the U.S. could help also.

What do you want from President Trump, and what's your message to President Trump this morning?

DUNN: Just to look and listen to what's happened and try and see it from our point of view and our hearts ache and hopefully he can help with bringing her back to the U.K. so we can -- so we can get on and do our stuff and do the justice and help us to start grieving again.

CAMEROTA: It's very hard to have closure when there is no justice for this. I mean it's just you all are stuck in this sort of purgatory of, as you point out, Charlotte --

CHARLES: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Of not knowing what's happening with her family and what's happening on this side. And, you know, you just don't deserve to be lingering in this -- in this state of grief.

How is -- Charlotte, how is your other son? I mean, as we said, Harry was a twin. How is Nile?

CHARLES: Drifting through hour by hour like we are each day. And he's got to rediscover who he is. He's always been a -- they've always been a them and an us. Although he's got siblings on both sides of the extended family, he only had one twin. And he's doing his best. He's trying to be strong. But he's right behind us fully on trying to get justice for Harry. He -- yes, he's obviously devastated.


Well, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn and Radd Seiger, we hear your plea. We hope that leaders on both side in both countries are listening. And we certainly hope that your family can get through this and get some sort of justice for Harry.

Thank you very much for being with us.

SEIGER: Thank you.

DUNN: Thank you.

CHARLES: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

DUNN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Gosh, it's just hard, John. I mean, obviously, as both parents of twins, we understand the grief that the whole family would feel for a loss like this.

BERMAN: Yes, and to be caught in the middle of an international dispute on top of all that.

CAMEROTA: We will be continuing to follow that story.

Meanwhile, back here, new poll numbers paint a very bleak picture for President Trump's fate on impeachment.

So NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sondland's testimony will be a really big moment in this inquiry, and his name is all over those text messages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see him discussing with other diplomats who are concerned that there's another quid pro quo going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't read like a text. It reads like the back of your credit card bill. It's very carefully stated. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. troops are pulling back from the Syrian

Turkish border, making way for a looming Turkish invasion.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We defeated this group, largely, defeated ISIS 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest lie being told by the administration that ISIS is defeated.


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.

And we have breaking news.


A new national poll shows support for an impeachment inquiry growing big time. These are brutal numbers for President Trump.