Return to Transcripts main page
NYT: Violent Video Depicting Fake Trump Shooting Media & Critics Shown at His Miami Resort; 12 Democratic Candidates to Face Off in a Debate. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 14, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST/ANCHOR: So good.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A masterpiece. A masterpiece.
AVLON: Really, that is -- that is -- that's a keeper.
CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, this, one of our top stories. There's a violent and vile video. It features a fake President Trump engaged in a mass church shooting. It was shown at one of the president's resorts. NEW DAY continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A disturbing meme video of a fake President Trump shooting, assaulting and stabbing members of the media and his critics was shown at a pro-Trump conference last week.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Impeachment. I never thought I'd see or hear that word with regard to me. Impeachment.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It's clear already that this meeting was being conditioned on their willingness to interfere in the U.S. election to help the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Schiff wants to get the United States of America drunk on his favorite cocktail. There's three ingredients: cherry-picking leaks, withholding facts, and three is just outright lying.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. John Avlon is with me today, in for John Berman. Great to have you.
AVLON: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: OK. So the House impeachment inquiry shifts into high gear this week. Lawmakers are returning to Washington from their two-week recess to hear from more key figures in the Ukraine whistle-blower scandal.
This includes an interview a few hours from now with Fiona Hill. She's the president's former top Russia adviser. And on Thursday, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is going -- at least he's scheduled to testify, this time under subpoena, after his initial voluntary deposition, you'll remember, was blocked by the State Department.
Now, according to "The Washington Post," he is expected to tell lawmakers there was a quid pro quo involving the Ukraine investigation, although he did not believe it was a corrupt quid pro quo.
AVLON: Also this morning, "The New York Times" obtaining a disturbing and extremely violent video shown at a conference by a pro-Trump group at President Trump's Miami golf resort last week. That shows a fake President Trump head edited onto the body of a man opening fire in a, quote, "Church of Fake News," assaulting and stabbing critics in the media.
Now according to "The Times," the clip ends with Trump driving a stake into the head of a person who has the CNN logo for a face before standing and smiling as he looks around.
The clip appears to be edited from a church massacre scene in the 2014 movie "Kingsman: The Secret Service." A spokesperson for President Trump's reelection campaign told "The Times" he did not know anything about the video, and the video was not produced by the campaign. The campaign does not condone violence.
CNN is calling on the president to denounce the video in the strongest possible terms.
CAMEROTA: All right. So joining us now, Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The New York Times." She broke this story about the tape.
Maggie, good morning.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via phone): Good morning.
CAMEROTA: So why was this sickening video that we're not playing for our viewers, because it's just actually too violent. Why was this shown at the president's Doral resort?
HABERMAN: So according to an organizer of the conference, Alisyn, it was shown as part of a, quote unquote, meme exhibit. It was shown in one room of the conference, it appears. Does not appear as if the people who spoke at the conference, the major figures who are associated with the president's campaign, had seen it. But it was shown on some loop to people walking in and out of a room.
This is obviously an event that was held at the president's resort. It was -- the organizers say that they didn't pick the meme. They didn't have control of the content, and this matter is under review. Or at least that's what they said yesterday. AVLON: Maggie, you know, we've seen Cesar Sayoc, the pipe bomber,
have a legal defense saying the president's statements are what inspired him to attempt violence.
What does this video and the fact it's shown at a pro-Trump rally at the president's golf resort, say to you about the environment that appears to be set or condoned, tacitly or implicitly, by the president and his campaign.
HABERMAN: What it says, at minimum, is that there's a lack of responsibility being taken for the kind of violence, violent imagery on the Internet. Some of it the president's language is inciting.
You know, obviously, as far as we have no reason to believe that anybody knew anything about this video, as they say. But there is a trickle-down effect on culture from -- from language. And we have seen the president repeatedly saying, well, I had nothing to do with that. But this is why denouncing things matters so much. It sends a message to supporters.
CAMEROTA: You know, this video, just to make everybody aware of what it is, it depicts an illustration, basically, of President Trump going into a church and opening fire and conducting a mass shooting in a church against the press. Specific entities of the press as well as some other of his political rivals or politicians.
Do you have a sense, Maggie, from your reporting, of what people thought when they saw this video at this resort?
HABERMAN: Some people -- I mean, we obviously, can't speak for every person who saw it and how they responded, but we do know that some people were troubled by it and were surprised at how graphic in nature it was.
Alisyn, we also noted in the story that the president, in 2017, tweeted a -- not similar in the sense it was nowhere near as violent, but he tweeted a meme where there was -- you know, it was the president knocking out a person with the CNN logo over their head. And the president -- you know, that tweet went viral.
So it's -- it's worth remembering that this is at least the genre of content that the president in the past has endorsed on his Twitter feed.
CAMEROTA: I have a new statement here from the group that organized this event, this political event at the president's Doral resort a couple of days ago.
So here's what they have just said, Maggie: "It has come to our attention that an unauthorized video was shown in a side room at AMPFest 90" -- sorry, AMPFest 19. That's the name of this conference. "The video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the conference organizers. The organizers of AMPFest 19 were not even aware of the video until they were contacted by 'The New York Times.' The first time anyone officially associated with the conference was made aware of the video was when 'The New York Times' requested comment. We find it shocking that 'The New York Times' would not report on any of the sanctioned events in the article, including our panel conversation, literally condemning political violence, while claiming to be upset over a meme that was not sanctioned, shown on stage or approved. AMPFest 19 always has and always will condemn political violence. And proof of this was our major panel discussion on this very topic."
Maggie, your response. And how is it possible that none of the organizers knew that this was being shown in a room clearly on a monitor that had been set up somehow?
HABERMAN: Right. It's an odd response for something that was aired at a conference that they put on. It's also sort of an odd response, given that they said something totally different yesterday. And this was a conference where the -- the organizers did not make it fully open press. It was not, you know, as if credentials were easily handed out. They can -- they have to answer for their own response. But it was their conference. The video showed at their conference.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, thank you very much --
HABERMAN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: -- for all of your reporting and all of the information this morning. We'll talk to you soon.
All right. Joining us now, we have Bianna Golodryga, CNN senior global affairs analyst, and Margaret Talev, politics and White House editor for Axios and the former president of the White House Correspondents' Association.
And in that vein, Margaret, I want to ask you about this video. I'll read to you what the current president, Jonathan Karl, of the White House Correspondents' Association, said: "The White House Correspondents' Association is horrified by a video reportedly shown over the weekend at a political conference organized by the president's supporters at the Trump National Doral in Miami. All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed towards journalists and the president's political opponents. We have previously told the president his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society."
Your thoughts? Margaret?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- I think Jon Karl spoke very well for -- for the organization and for all journalists, not just the ones who cover the White House.
And, you know, it's a terrifying and deeply disturbing video. And it goes to the heart of something that all journalists have been very concerned about over the last couple of years, which is that, you know, it only takes one misguided person who hears the president's critiques about him seeing the press as not just an enemy of himself, which the press is not. The press is just here to cover the news. Or as an enemy of the public, which is a shocking comment. And -- and someone would misunderstand that and be motivated to act in a violent way.
So there have been long-standing concerns about this. And this taps into it. But, you know, I also want to say it just sort of comes at a time when the nation is galvanized, at least before the impeachment discussion over a debate on gun violence.
It comes as, yet again, a police officer has killed a person of color in their home. And you know -- and it comes in the wake of an array of mass shootings across this country that have got a lot of Republicans really upset and worried about what to do.
So there is a broader context outside of just journalists that this touches on the heart of, but it is a real concern for working journalists that somebody could misunderstand colorful and inappropriate attacks on the role of the press in this country and be driven to act. It's something that I'm really concerned about also.
AVLON: Bianna, I mean, one of the things in this disturbing video is that the president is depicted as attacking not just the press in a church but also his political critics and political opponents. Including Republicans. Including the late John McCain.
What does that say to you about -- about sort of the world view of some of these folks in terms of President Trump and what they apparently cheer in some parody fashion?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it makes me wonder why the Secret Service is not involved in this, if they haven't been, if they're not already.
I mean, it is so disturbing to watch this video. I think it shows that it speaks to any of the so-called enemies that this president has amassed.
And we know that they typically don't fall into just one party line. They cross parties.
The video is so long that the organizer's statement and their argument that we didn't know anything about this until it was played, once you start seeing ten seconds of this video, someone had the opportunity to cut it off. Right? This video goes on and on and on. It is so unbelievably gruesome.
And to go back to an earlier point made about the fate of journalism in this country as a whole. The fact that their statement suggests that "The New York Times" didn't focus on the certain aspects of this conference. It's sort of blaming "The New York Times" for not focusing on a panel they had against violence. Tells you where we are in the country when it comes to the relationship Americans have with journalism. CAMEROTA: One more thing. Margaret, you know, I just have to -- I
mean, I think that the White House Correspondents' Association statement is great. But I think that they -- they miss the mark in this one phrase. "We've previously told the president his rhetoric could incite violence." We've already seen it, Margaret. Already.
The Tree of Life Synagogue shooter said that he liked the rhetoric that the president was using about immigrants and what was happening at the border. Cesar Sayoc, who sent bombs to CNN, had his van festooned with language the president used and bull's eyes on certain people. It's already happening.
And so -- I could go on. The El Paso shooter cites some of the same language. It's happening. This is not a sort of random fear that we have going forward. It's already happening.
And I just want to say one more thing about CNN, that CNN has put out about this video, because CNN is targeted in the video. Here's what the CNN statement is: "Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the president have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining. But it is by far and away the worst. The images depicted are vile and horrific. The president, and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms. Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone."
Your final thoughts on this, Margaret?
TALEV: Well, my final thought is that I'm concerned as we go into what is going to be at least a month-long season over this impeachment inquiry that, again, anyone -- anyone who doesn't understand the way the news business works will wrongly interpret the work of journalists, and I just want to make clear to people that journalists are Americans.
Journalists' job is to try to tell the news in an impartial way. And sometimes, that is critical of a president of either party. And that should not be a call to incite anyone to violence. And this is just a very concerning development.
GOLODRYGA: And if I -- and if I could quickly say, the president's silence right now seems to, in effect, justify some of this reaction. There was a video picture circulating over the Internet over the weekend of a man getting on an airplane, wearing a shirt suggesting that journalists should be hung.
You know, the fact that this is becoming an everyday kind of phenomenon where people are talking about journalists in such a way.
We have it much better off than many other journalists around the world. I'm not going to deny that. That having been said, a lot of this could have been prevented. And it's the same thing we've seen with the president not wanting to denounce David Duke, not wanting to denounce some of the organizers in Charlottesville. It's a repeated pattern we're seeing from the president. It's
escalating. And the best thing that this administration could do last night was denounce videos like this.
CAMEROTA: And just to Margaret's point, I mean, I think that you're so right that there are some people that don't understand that one of journalists' roles is a watch dog of government. That's what we're tasked with. That's in our mission statement: watchdog of government. Not lap dog. Watchdog of government.
And, you know, sometimes I think that the president's supporters don't completely understand that. Thank you both, Bianna, Margaret, very much.
OK. A record debate just one day away here on CNN. How will 12 Democratic presidential candidates stand out in that crowded field on that crowded stage, John?
AVLON: All right. The biggest presidential primary debate in history just one day away, hosted by CNN and "The New York Times." Tomorrow night 12 Democratic hopefuls will take the stage in Westerville, Ohio.
CAMEROTA: You weren't kidding. That is big.
AVLON: That's 12. All right. So in the Buckeye State.
So what do the candidates need to do to stand out? That's the key question. Joining us to answer it, no better than Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH" on -- Sirius -- Michael Smerconish program on Sirius XM, as well.
All right. Michael, I want to start with you on that big question. You've got Biden and Warren center stage. They've both been rising in the polls.
So two questions: your advice to them. One, what can Biden do to stop Warren having the big mo? And two, what can Warren do to show folks that she could be a credible general election candidate and not just popular with the progressive base?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, "SMERCONISH": You know what's interesting, is that despite the intense interest in these debates so far, the needle hasn't really moved. If you look at the latest polling as to where they stand, the race has not been shaken up thus far, although the betting markets, in contrast to the polling data, suggest that, actually, it's Elizabeth Warren who is twice the odds of being the nominee as Joe Biden. So that disconnect fascinates me.
Joe Biden needs to somehow underscore the electability argument. That's what he's got going for him. It will be very interesting to see how this Hunter Biden deciding he's not going to participate in the Chinese equity firm gets played. Because I think to even raise Hunter Biden's name in that debate hall
is going to draw hisses from the audience. Because the Democratic partisans, they don't want to hear anything about this. But it is kind of the elephant in the room because of the way the president is defending himself on impeachment.
And finally, I would say that Elizabeth Warren, she wants no part of any of that conversation. She's like, you know, the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race for her. Because she continues to ascend.
CAMEROTA: Michael, I think you raise --
AVLON: Aesop reference. I like it.
CAMEROTA: I like that, as well. I think that you raise such an interesting question, and point, which is that if the moderators bring it up, bring up, right, the -- any of the Biden stuff, that they will be hissed.
Will Joe Biden bring it up? Because, you know, as we've been reporting, he -- he is the sort of tackling it more head on, saying that it's going to be a squeaky-clean White House if he's elected.
And by the way, should he hit more often the fact that the Trump children also make money still from overseas?
I think that to remain silent is to appear that he's got something to hide. I also think that it shows vigor on his part. Because frankly there's been no other issue that's been raised in the cycle thus far where Joe looks like a man of youth until all of a sudden you are attacking a family member of his.
I thought Jake Tapper brought it up in the correct way yesterday when he had Mayor Pete on his program, and he said -- I'm paraphrasing -- but isn't it really a tacit acknowledgment when Hunter Biden decides he's backing off from that equity firm that there was at least an appearance of wrongdoing? That's a legitimate way of raising it.
But Alisyn, I don't think any of the other 11 on the stage -- and I might be wrong -- will want to bring it up unsolicited. I don't think this will be a Kamala Harris moment. I don't think this will be a Julian Castro moment. I think they want to stay away from that issue.
AVLON: Lest they get hit by the Biden boomerang, which has hurt so many candidates who've taken a shot at him on the stage.
Michael, the other big news of the week, obviously, is impeachment. This is the stuff of history books. And as we've got key testimony from ambassador Sondland, what are you looking for? Because what we're hearing is extraordinary.
He'll say there was a quid pro quo but not corrupt intent. He'll say the president said it, but just because he said it doesn't mean it's true. Put on your lawyer hat. What are you listening for? SMERCONISH: So OK. Here's my lawyer hat. I think that the Trump White House has awakened to the idea that there is actually a legal defense if they own the quid pro quo but call it by some other name.
There's a professor at Ohio State University named Ed Foley. He's a constitutional scholar. He wrote about this for "Politico. So it's not my original idea.
But the argument, essentially, is that, if they held up money from being paid to Ukraine with a good motive. A motive of the national interest of not wanting to see tax dollars squandered; as opposed to the president's personal interest in getting himself re-elected, that there could actually be a defense against his abuse of office charge if it should come to that.
And I think they're slowly realizing that maybe what they ought to say is, that's right. We didn't want the money to go to Ukraine, because we were so worried they were going to waste it.
[07:25:00] CAMEROTA: Yes, well, the Democrats don't believe that line. Because they've read the transcript where the president is not crystal-clear about those motives, but he is crystal-clear about, hey, do us a favor.
SMERCONISH: Well, and Alisyn, get ready for this. It requires that you get into the head of the president. Right? Because this comes down to a question of his intelligence. What was his motive? And that is a hard sell.
And here's the last thing I'll say if you'll permit me. I'm about to do a radio show. Then I'm going to get on an airplane and go to Ohio to participate in CNN's coverage of the debate.
And because of that despicable video that you've been discussing this morning, I now need to be looking over my shoulder in a way that I wouldn't have heretofore.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I feel it. We all feel it. We understand that. Michael, thank you for saying all of that and be careful. And we'll look forward to talking to you again soon.
AVLON: And we will see you in Ohio.
You can watch the new CNN/"New York Times" Democratic presidential debate live from Ohio tomorrow night at 8 Eastern.
CAMEROTA: OK. President Trump ordering all U.S. troops out of northern Syria now as the situation for the Kurds grows more dire by the hour. We have a top member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, next.
CAMEROTA: Congress returns to Capitol Hill this week, with Democrats intensifying their impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida.