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DOJ Wants to Defend Trump in Defamation Suit; Trump Holds Rally in NC; McConnell's Stimulus Plan; Trump Announces Troop Withdrawals; Coronavirus at Syrian Refugee Camp. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Didn't know E. Jean Carroll, OK. That's what he said. She has the pictures of them at events together, at least one event, yucking it up. You know, they -- she -- he said he had never met her, I think. They've met.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And that -- and that -- and that she wasn't his type. I mean that's the defamation also, I think, right?

CAMEROTA: OK. All right. So, I mean, what is your take on the fact that Bill Barr wants to somehow, I don't know, interfere in the -- the courts just going through the regular process with this?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, this is such a weird thing, right? It's an amazing story to be thrust into a crazy year with 60 days to go before an election. And it's one more thing.

Donald Trump will lie when the truth will suffice. So that -- that explains the insanity of saying you've never met somebody when there's evidence that you've met them.

I do think the interesting thing we were just talking about is -- is the notion that -- that -- that sort of dismissing an allegation is part of the scope of the job of president, and, therefore, it should fall under the Justice Department's purview. I think that's an interesting, and as John was saying, I think that ultimately that would lead you to a place, a precedent, where any president could attack anybody for any reason and really have no recourse. You have no recourse.

The only one area where I am a little concerned would be the notion that you could sue a president and basically tie them up in litigation at a time of re-election or of an election. I think that that's -- that's something that we should be a little bit concerned about. But -- but mostly here, this is a story about whether our tax dollars should be going to pay for Donald Trump's defense. And I think that's a tough sell to make.

BERMAN: So, Toluse, I want to put up pictures of the president's rally from last night because you can see clearly the president is not wearing a mask and you can see in the crowd that the majority of people there are not wearing masks. And they're all over each other, right? I mean this is -- this is the type of picture that would make Anthony Fauci's skin crawl because you have all these people right on top of each other for hours, because you have to get to these events, you know, two hours before to clear the Secret Service. So you're just sitting next to people without a mask for a long, long time. Then the president does his rally, says his thing.

But this is a picture the president's clearly OK with. It's a calculation, Toluse. It's a message that he is trying to send. And I know the Biden campaign is trying to send the diametrically opposed message.

So what's the calculation here?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, two different campaigns, two completely different approaches to this pandemic. President Trump is essentially saying this is over, we're rounding the corner, everyone can get back to normal, you can go back to your rallies, you can gather in the groups of hundreds or thousands of people, don't worry about wearing a mask, everything is going to be fine. He's trying to give that sense of normalcy.

Obviously that is not what the public health experts are saying and that's something that could prolong this pandemic. We can -- we've seen these super spreader events in the past. It only takes a few people who are infectious in a big crowd like that for this type of spread to spread and to go to different states and to increase significantly.

But the president wants to hold his rallies. He's going to hold his rallies. The next eight weeks will be full of these types of events. He has several of them planned even over the course of the next few days.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden, mostly, has been trying to stay socially distanced. He's been staying in Delaware, traveling only minimally. When he travels, he doesn't go to big crowds, in large part because he wants to model good public behavior, but also because he, himself, knows that he is in a high-risk category. He is in his late 70s and catching the virus could be a, you know, death sentence for someone in that -- in that category. So he's trying to show that he is following the public health guidelines, following the scientists, while foregoing some of these major events, while also trying to campaign and trying to get out there on the -- on the campaign trail.

But it's a completely different approach and we'll have to wait and see for the next several weeks to find out which approach works. They're both taking some risks here, but it's clear that President Trump does not mind taking a risky approach to trying to win a second term.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, he's also taking some other approaches, Matt. Fact checkers were burning the midnight oil after his speech yesterday. But one of the things that he said really jumped out. He encouraged everyone in that crowded rally to become poll watchers. He said to watch, quote, all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do. The idea that he is going to need that much -- you know, to call in

the cavalry and have them do whatever they think necessary at, you know, polling places, what does it tell us that the president is getting -- sounds like he's getting paranoid about the election and is sort of casting about for more help than he would normally need.

LEWIS: Yes. We, first I would say, I think, just going to the rallies in general, there's another reason why Donald Trump wants to do them and Joe Biden doesn't care as much.

[06:35:03]

I think all of the reasons just cited are true. But the additional one is that like -- this is what Donald Trump does. He feeds off the audience. He uses it as a focus group. And he excels in this -- in this venue. It's part of the way he won in 2016. So like telling Donald Trump you can't hold a rally is like saying to Nolan Ryan, like, OK, we're in the Super Bowl, but no fast balls, you know? So it's a disproportionate -- it disproportionately hurts Donald Trump, even though I think we would all agree it would be safer not to do what he's doing.

So, basically, yes, I think that what Trump is doing with the poll watchers is trying to scaremonger, he's trying to raise the notion that this election is rigged. And that if he, in fact, loses, he has an excuse, as well.

I would say that being a poll watcher, if it means, you know, like the little old ladies or men who actually are at the polls helping facilitate democracy, the people who volunteer, that is a good thing. We should be encouraging younger people to volunteer. It's not a partisan thing. You go down there. That's a good thing. I don't think that Donald Trump is quite summoning us to our better angels, but his message is actually a good one. We should be volunteering to do this job.

BERMAN: There's two different things here. There's poll workers, which is the -- usually the older men and women, and then there are poll watchers.

LEWIS: Right.

BERMAN: Those are people who stand and try to catch people doing things that are wrong, which often has the connotation of intimidation historically. And these are two very different things to be sure.

LEWIS: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Matt Lewis, Toluse Olorunnipa, thanks so much for being with us.

LEWIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, new this morning, President Trump has not released a new health care plan. On July 19th he told Chris Wallace it would happen within two weeks. That was seven weeks ago. There is no new plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolling out a proposal to rescue the economy. What's in it and does it have any chance of passing?

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[06:41:00]

BERMAN: The Senate could vote as soon as tomorrow on a slimmed down rescue bill proposed by Majority Leader -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The bill includes $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through December, which is $300 less than the $600 they were getting until it expired. For small businesses that have seen their revenue decline by 35 percent, also get some money, but no additional stimulus checks and no relief for states.

Doesn't have much chance of becoming law. Democrats have already said they oppose it. Some Republicans are likely to oppose it as well.

Joining us now, CNN anchor and correspondent Julia Chatterley.

A lot of this is politics so Mitch McConnell can say, we're proposing something.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what it looks like, a bill to show that you at least tried, not that you really cared. And, quite frankly, that's tragic for the American people. No one, and I include the Democrats in this quite frankly, were in deal-making mode here. And all of them, all these lawmakers, have to own it.

The result is, it was not time to withdraw support, financial aid from people. So we are going to see a weaker recovery than we might have done.

Just look at what we've got now. I said to you yesterday, near 30 million people who were collecting some form of benefit. They will continue to get less money than they had during the peak of the crisis. And, let's be clear, they were spending that money. So spending in a spending-driven economy will go down. That will have a knock-on impact to small businesses, whom also, in many cases, have not got back to normal because we're still in a pandemic. We'll have to make tough decisions on (ph) good (ph) jobs.

This cash-strapped state and local governments, as well, they are probably going to have to make tough decisions as well about jobs. All this has a knock-on impact. The challenge is qualifying it.

Mark Zandi at Moody's Analytics was expecting $1.5 trillion worth of further financial aid. He said without it we could see an unemployment rate -- an official rate, let's be clear, at the end of this year, back up to 10 percent. I'd argue we're already above 10 percent at this level. So it's going to be worse.

In the end, we're going to get a third quarter growth number, guys, three days before the election that's going to look like a bumper number because it's a bounce back from the depths of despair in the second quarter. That's going to mask pain for millions of Americans. And more pain than they should have had, quite frankly, at this stage.

CAMEROTA: That's really good context for everybody to keep in mind when they see these numbers.

So what happened with the stock market yesterday?

CHATTERLEY: You know, we have gone straight up for six months since the lows in March. So even just to see a 10 percent pullback from the tech-heavy Nasdaq market in the space of three days, it seems shocking, but, quite frankly, it's understandable.

Guys, if we take a step back, the biggest tech names out there, the Apples, the Amazons, the Microsofts, we got to a point where they represented to around a quarter of the S&P 500. So if you lose money, if those stocks pull back, they drag the whole index down.

If you look beneath the surface, people are buying recovery stocks, the retailers, the airlines. The problem is, they're just such a small size here that they don't see it. They get masked by the broader pullback.

I'd also throw in, very quickly, politics, as well. Look, Biden may be the most business-friendly Democrat out there, but he is talking about rolling back some of Trump's tax cuts. And that means lower profits for some of these big companies. So perhaps that's playing into it a little bit here, too. But also, bottom line, guys, FOMO. John, you know these geeky technical terms. Do you know what --

BERMAN: Fear of missing out.

CHATTERLEY: Yes.

BERMAN: Fear of missing out.

CHATTERLEY: You see, there you go.

BERMAN: All right, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: That will come back.

BERMAN: Julia Chatterley, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

BERMAN: So an announcement from the Trump administration on U.S. troops overseas. Details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:48:47]

BERMAN: All right, breaking moments ago, the Trump administration just announced it is withdrawing more troops from Iraq. CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon.

What are the details here, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

Something President Trump really wanted to have happen. A short time ago in Baghdad, the head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the area, announced that the 5,200 troops in Iraq, that level will be brought down to about 3,000 during the month of September. General Frank McKenzie speaking in Baghdad this morning said, and I quote, this decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi security forces' increased ability to operate independently. The journey has been difficult, the sacrifice has been great, but the progress has been significant.

You'll recall, U.S. troops went back into Iraq because the Iraqis really were unable to defend themselves in the onslaught brought on by ISIS. Now the feeling is they are much better trained, much better able to fight. U.S. troops can begin to come home.

You know, President Trump's remarks certainly demeaning the U.S. military and criticizing top Pentagon leadership for supporting defense companies, essentially accusing them of being war profiteers, the chickens may come home to roost on that.

[06:50:03]

Just yesterday, we want to note, the Pentagon awarded a $13 billion contract to Northrop Grumman to build a new intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile. The program is very controversial. Not everyone thinks it's needed. And rebuilding, building a new ICBM, is central to the president's message point that he is the one rebuilding the U.S. military. And rebuilding the U.S. military comes through awarding contracts to defense companies, which Mr. Trump just criticized.

Alisyn.

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

Now two Syrian refugees testing positive at a camp in Jordan that holds nearly 37,000 people.

Joining us now is CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward. Her new book is "On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist." It is out this week.

And, Clarissa, we're so happy to have you and we'll talk about your book in a second.

But let's just start there. I mean I don't know if you're familiar with this particular refugee camp, but the idea of an outbreak in that kind of contained quarters and packed, what does this mean?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a scenario, Alisyn, that everybody has been really bracing themselves for, particularly international NGOs who are working in camps, like Azraq, nearly 40,000 people living there. Another camp in Jordan even bigger, Zaatari, has nearly 100,000 people living there.

And, of course, when you have an outbreak in a refugee camp, where there is no possibility of social distancing, where there are cramped living conditions, where there is limited sanitation, so good hygiene practices like regular washing of hands is very difficult to maintain, there you have all the recipe or the ingredients, rather, for potentially a real crisis.

So a lot of people very concerned that this outbreak could spread. And, of course, if it did spread, even beyond a camp like Azraq, you're talking about millions of Syrian refugees who have been forced outside the country and many more millions of refugees from other countries, the Rohingya, et cetera, across the world. This could be a real disaster if aid workers are not able to get it under control, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk, Clarissa, about your career and about why you're so familiar with these war-torn areas and that you have been a foreign correspondent and you have often been in the line of danger. And you didn't plan on doing this. I mean in the book you talk about your career and all of the seeds for it. And was it 9/11 that changed kind of the trajectory of your life?

WARD: It was. And I feel like it's almost become a cliche to say that, but at the same time I'm sure most Americans feel the same way, that 9/11 was this kind of pivotal moment for them, this game-changing, life-changing moment. And for me it was the moment where I realized I had a vocation. I felt this strong sense of compulsion that I needed to understand why this had happened, I needed to understand where the hatred came from, I needed to understand where the miscommunication, the dehumanization, how was this all happening?

And so I was a senior in college. I had been studying Russian and French literature and I wanted to be an actress at the time. I loved storytelling and languages, but it was really that pivotal moment for me in which I knew I had an epiphany and that I wanted to go out and do this work, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And you did it. I mean you did it. You've worked at different networks and you have gone out and done this work in such an impressive way. And now you have two very little kids, you have a 2- month-old baby. And I know that we don't ask men this question about how parenthood has changed the course of their career or changed their calculations for going into danger, but maybe we should ask men that more often. In other words, I don't think we shouldn't ask women it, I think we should ask men more often.

So how has it changed how you see your career and if you'll still be going into necessarily those dangerous situations?

WARD: I think it's a really good question, Alisyn, and I'm glad that you pointed out that it's a question we should be asking fathers and men as well because it's a similar set of calculations that you have to make. The responsibility you feel to tell people's stories, to continue doing your work, but the responsibility you have as a parent to a child who you love more than yourself, who essentially you are midwifing this young soul into the world. And that's a huge responsibility.

I definitely take security incredibly seriously. I won't do a trip or go to a place where I really feel that my life is in significant jeopardy. But more broadly speaking, Alisyn, I would say the biggest change that I feel as a result of becoming a mother is that I am so open emotionally.

[06:55:03]

It's like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and I feel everything so much more keenly. It was always painful to watch a child suffer, but now it's become almost unbearable. And I really hope that that level of compassion and that heightened sense of emotion and sensitivity to the horrors of war makes its way into my reporting, makes my reporting more compelling. And as counterintuitive as it may sound, I would like to see more mothers covering war as we enter an era where there is a broader and more diverse group of voices telling peoples' stories, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, it already does, Clarissa. We see it all the time in your reporting. And people can read about the intensity of your career, as well as your personal life in your new book, "On All Fronts." It's a great book.

And thanks so much for sharing it with us and for all you do.

WARD: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, a setback in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. A major phase iii trial vaccine is now on hold. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going explain why.

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