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Trump & Biden Trade Jabs in Iowa; Police Fire Tear Gas on Hong Kong Protesters; The Midweek Grades with Chris Cillizza; Reality Check: Who Has Done More for the American Farmer? Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


CALEB CAIN, RADICALIZED WATCHING ALT-RIGHT VIDEOS: Digital hate politics, which leads to radicalization. And this radicalization is a huge public health crisis that we really need to solve.

[07:00:08] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good for you, Caleb. Good for you. I will put on Instagram a link to where people can find the help that you found. Thank you very much for sharing your personal story with us today.

CAIN: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN TALK is next. For our U.S. viewers, violent protests in Hong Kong. And the battle between President Trump and Joe Biden intensifies. NEW DAY continues right now.

And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

The gloves come off in Iowa. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden exchanging jabs and insults in a preview of what could be an ugly general election campaign, if it works out that way.

Joe Biden calling the president, quote, "an existential threat to America." The president resorting to name calling to hit back at Joe Biden.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So one reason President Trump may be obsessed with Joe Biden, this new national poll which shows the president trailing Biden by 13 points.

In fact, the poll shows the president trailing in head-to-head match- ups against all of the leading Democratic hopefuls. The president clearly does not like these polls. So he's decided to say something that's not true about them. He says, incorrectly, that they are fake polls. And again, incorrectly, that they are meant to suppress votes.

Want to bring in Maggie Haberman, "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst.

And Maggie, you've been writing about the anxiety in the White House and also the explanation inside the White House for what the president is doing, from the president's end, with Joe Biden. Explain. MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So the president, a couple of

different things are going on here. The campaign has its own internal polling that shows Joe Biden beating President Trump. Now people who have seen the polls say that, actually, there's other numbers that are better for the president within that polling. But the president did not like reports about the fact that his polling showed that he was behind. He wanted aides to push back on that and counteract that publicly, denying that it showed what it showed, saying there's other numbers that are beneficial for him.

Biden is in the president's head. There is just no question about it. And you can see it every time he talks about Biden.

If you look at these numbers across the board, what you are seeing, including in the CNN numbers, it's not just Joe Biden that the president is down to. The president is under water with a pretty favorable economy. He's at, basically, 42 percent. That is a dangerous territory. And it is -- it is really unheard of in this type of economic moment.

So what you have is anxiety about how do they get to a head-to-head? At the moment, they think it's Biden. They believe that Biden presents the biggest threat. But they want to get to a one-on-one with a Democrat so the president can start defining whoever that is. He is eager to have an opponent, as always, and Joe Biden is the person on top.

CAMEROTA: It's also interesting to have a 73-year-old making fun of a 70-something-year-old.

HABERMAN: Feeble. Feeble, right.

CAMEROTA: I mean, this is -- that's an interesting territory that President Trump wants to target Joe Biden, and they're both septuagenarians.

HABERMAN: It's true. And it is -- it is, you know, the only other person that would be, you know, maybe equally unusual to see was if he was going after Sanders the same way, right, who is also north of 70.

Look, I think that the president is not exactly sure how to go after Joe Biden, because Joe Biden's core strength is his decency. Right? That is his -- basically, his calling card. And they are having a very hard time figuring out how to attack that.

So what they've settled on is this idea that you can paint him as feeble, you can paint him as old, out of step, but that you can also paint him as an insider.

So I was very struck last night, in the speech that the president did, he's now talking about Obama-Biden. Not just Obama, not just Biden. And basically, I think that is a way to make Biden an extension of, you know, the mainstream. And that allows the president, or he hopes, to try to position himself as the insider-outsider. BERMAN: Yes, like Donald Trump Jr. tweeting on that yesterday,

suggesting that Biden has been part of the government of this country for, you know, a fifth of the entire existence of this country.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: It's interesting, Maggie, because you've also said that one of the things that the campaign, the Trump campaign wants to do, is waiting to do, is to paint whoever runs against him as an extremist.

HABERMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: That's complicated, or more complicated with Joe Biden.

HABERMAN: It's very complicated with Joe Biden, because Joe Biden actually has a series of positions that are much more in the center of the Democratic Party. Whereas he had been trying, I think, to avoid, in this Roses Garden strategy that Biden's been running, being pulled to the left.

It was around the Hyde Amendment that you saw him really struggling with that, where on the one hand, they said initially, his campaign, he still supports the Hyde Amendment at this time. And then literally a day later said, no, actually, he doesn't anymore. That was encouraging to the Trump campaign. They believed that that was a big misstep and that that was going to come back to haunt Biden.

But they do know that Biden can appeal to independent voters, swing voters, certain moderates, or possibly can, who other candidates like a Bernie Sanders likely will not be able to.

CAMEROTA: They can't possibly think that going after Biden about shifting positions will work.

HABERMAN: Well, they actually, as you know, have a habit of saying things about other people that they do themselves, and it lacks irony. So I suspect you'll see a lot of that kind of thing.

[07:05:07] CAMEROTA: Here's the split screen from yesterday. So yesterday, as we know, President Trump and Joe Biden were both in Iowa. And there were some interesting moments.

Trust me. There really were some --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He had my speech on in Air Force One. I guess he's really fascinated with me. I find it fascinating. My mother would say, "Joey, focus, focus. Don't descend. Stay up."

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks, and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. I don't know. That reminds me of Crooked Hillary. She did the same thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Well, that's fun.

HABERMAN: Hillary Clinton actually -- what she did when she was campaigning was she barely paid attention to Donald Trump for a very long time. So that's actually not quite an accurate historical representation.

But look, you are seeing two people who know that their political base is going to respond to hearing the other's name. And Donald Trump is trying to condition his supporters to get in line, sort of repeating his feedback about Joe Biden.

You will see more of this at least until the end of this month, when we have the first Democratic debate. And I think that that might be helpful, you know, for Democrats in terms of clarifying their field.

HABERMAN: Do you have reporting, Maggie? Because the president in his speech last night, the final appearance last night, did not mention Joe Biden's name at all. And I have to believe that was deliberate. Do you know how that came to pass?

HABERMAN: I don't know how it came to pass, and I don't want to -- I don't want to speculate, you know, beyond what we know. I think that it was unusual that final speech last night was an open fund-raiser. Most of these fund-raisers are not open. And so I think it's possible that those remarks were being tailored to what they thought the room was. But most of the lines were his standard stump speech anyway.

You know, I think that they are still struggling with the president's impulses, which is to try to rip somebody apart, versus how you handle an opponent and not giving them too much oxygen.

What I would say, John, is remember, the president's advisers don't want him attacking Biden the way he personally has felt he has to. It's not that they don't think that Biden needs to be dealt with. They do. They just don't think you should necessarily deploy the biggest, you know, gun in your arsenal, and that is the president. The president has other ideas.

CAMEROTA: I am interested in the internal polling that you have reporting on, of course. Because the fact that --

HABERMAN: I am, too. If someone has it and wants to give it to me.

CAMEROTA: I would like -- but I mean, isn't it your reporting that says that there's about 17 states --

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- in which President Trump is not doing as well as he would hope?

HABERMAN: No, it's a 17-state poll. We don't know the specific states where he's not doing as well as they would hope, except for the Rust Belt states, where he is struggling, which matches, basically, every state poll that we have seen.

Remember there are three states --Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania -- where the president did well enough last time. And those are key. He needs to do well enough there, or they have to find a different path for him, which is one of the things his campaign is looking at right now.

CAMEROTA: All right. That's what our Dana Bash had been reporting, that they're even looking at places like Oregon --

HABERMAN: New Mexico.

CAMEROTA: -- and New Mexico.

HABERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Nevada, New Hampshire, places that they think would be in play.

HABERMAN: Nevada and New Hampshire, to veteran Republicans, does not sound crazy. That actually sounds smart. And they think that -- Nevada in particular. That makes a lot of sense.

New Mexico is the one that has raised a fair number of eyebrows. I don't know how realistic that one is. It either is meant as a head fake for Democrats, or it actually is out of real concern. And I just don't think we're going to know for a while.

BERMAN: And if they have near infinite funds, you can spend wherever you want.

HABERMAN: And they're going to -- look, they're -- It is really important to just temper this with there is a fair amount of "but on the other hand" in terms of Donald Trump's prospects going forward. He's under water right now. If the election were today, it shows that almost any Democrat would probably beat him, but --

BERMAN: It's not today.

HABERMAN: It's not today. He is an incumbent. The economy so far is good. If that continues, you have to give him a fair amount of support.

And also, Democrats are privately -- and some of them publicly -- saying, "Where is the DNC? Where are the outside groups on trying to define Donald Trump? We're getting no air cover at all." That's their words.

I think that Donald Trump is not -- for all of his own things that he does in public, his campaign is actually running a pretty smart effort.

BERMAN: Ben LaBolt, who was the Obama spokesman, wrote that in "The Atlantic." He was on here the other day saying, "Look, we need outside groups or the DNC to do what the candidates cannot do yet, because they're fighting each other." One last thing, Maggie. Donald Trump Jr. back on Capitol Hill today

for testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. What's the sense within Trump world about how they're doing in this fight and what do they expect from this?

HABERMAN: They generally feel pretty good about it, because I think they were able to limit, you know, if not necessarily the scope of the question, the time that he's going to spend on the Hill.

He did -- he did OK in his -- in his many, many hours of testimony that was behind closed doors over the last two years. They believe that this will probably go OK. They are a little concerned about outside curveballs. Because remember, you have people on the committee who are running for president. And I think that's the big question mark.

[07:10:07] CAMEROTA: And I mean, of course, they did also find discrepancies that they're going to have to ask him about.

HABERMAN: They did. Well, they found discrepancies, certainly, that -- or at least question marks that were raised, right? I mean, we've all heard sort of questions about discrepancies. They haven't always identified what they are.

I think a big question is going to be asking him the discrepancy that you're referring to is something Michael Cohen said versus something Donald Trump Jr. said. I think that what you're going to hear the Trump people say is Michael Cohen is in jail, and Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress already. We'll see.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, great to talk to you, as always.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.

HABERMAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. We do have some breaking news we want to get to right now. Protests -- the protests we've been looking at all morning in Hong Kong have now turned violent. Police firing tear gas and using high-pressure water hoses.

These are some live pictures from the streets right now of the crowds. You can see slightly dispersed but the line certainly drawn outside the government headquarters.

Demonstrators forced lawmakers to delay debate of a controversial extradition Bill.

Our Ivan Watson has been covering this all night long. He is live in Hong Kong with the breaking details. Ivan, give us a sense of what you're seeing.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Right now you see riot police on what's supposed to be a very busy

road in front of one of the poshest shopping malls in the city. And they, moments ago, fired volleys of teargas to send protesters, some of which are here on this overpass with me, running back. And we've seen that throughout the afternoon. This is supposed to be rush hour here.

Instead, I'm allowed to walk around right now on this traffic overpass. And you can see some of the protesters, ordinary bystanders pushed back in the distance if you pan down over here.

And this is just an example of the tension in the streets of Hong Kong over this controversial law that the local government introduced that the protesters fear could give the communist government in mainland China the right to pluck a suspect or fugitive out of the semiautonomous city and put them into mainland China's very opaque and capricious judicial system.

The local authorities, after an estimated 1 million people protested on Sunday against the law -- that would be 1 in 7 Hong Kongers -- they said they're going to push forward with it. And now we have these scenes of -- of battles in the streets. And we don't know where the tension will lead this former British colony next -- Alisyn, John.

CAMEROTA: Ivan, thank you very much for all of your reporting on that situation unfolding there in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden says President Trump's tariffs are beating up the heartland. Is that accurate? We have a "Reality Check" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:16:50] CAMEROTA: All right. Who emerged victorious in the first showdown in Iowa between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden? It's time for the mid-week grades with Professor Chris Cillizza.

Hi, Chris. I'm putting on my glasses for this professorial moment, as well.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS WRITER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Unfortunately, I always wear my glasses, but sure.

CAMEROTA: OK. Joe Biden. How's he doing this week?

CILLIZZA: OK. Very hard to grade him this week, Alisyn. I gave him a "B" minus, because I had "B" plus. I changed it to a "B" minus. And the reason, let's go through the positive first.

Donald Trump continues to be Joe Biden's best advocate: attacking him, raising him up as though it's a one-on-one race between Trump and Biden.

But Joe Biden's numbers in our Iowa poll, yes, he was ahead. But there's reason for some concern. He's very well-known and not in that big of a lead. Right? And I think that's always concerning. So I give him a "B" minus. I -- gosh, it could have been a "C" plus.

But I think he might still be in first place, so let's not overlook that.

BERMAN: You did give out one "A" this week.

CILLIZZA: I did.

BERMAN: To whom?

CILLIZZA: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. And he hasn't been in our grades lately, John, but I think that this week merits it.

And the reason I gave him an "A," look at our Iowa poll. It was released on Saturday night. Go through it, look at the numbers. Buttigieg has basically clumped with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I think it goes 16 Sanders, 15 Warren, 14 Buttigieg. Biden in first with 24.

Can you -- if you're Pete Buttigieg, you have to be thrilled with that. You have spent zero dollars on television advertising in the state. You're just now getting your offices up and running and getting your staff. And yet, you are tied with a guy who raised $247 million, came in second to Hillary Clinton, a national figure in Elizabeth Warren. And you're within striking distance of the former two-term vice president of the United States. You're the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. That's pretty dang good.

CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump.

CILLIZZA: Speaking of which, I gave him a "D." I don't give the sitting president an "F" usually, because I think he's still in a relatively strong position vis-a-vis where he was in 2016, which is I never thought he had any chance of winning.

But if you look at the Quinnipiac poll that came out last night, national polling, he's behind Biden by 13 points. Biden is over 50. He's behind all the top-tier Democratic candidates by a significant amount. Polling in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, all suggest it's going to be hard for him to recreate what he did in 2016.

And he just will not stay on message. Every time he talks about Biden, we have a White House aide telling one of our great reporters, "We really wish he wouldn't do that." But he just -- he is obsessed with Joe Biden. It is a good thing for Joe Biden. It is a bad thing for Donald Trump to continue to talk about him. And yet, he can't stop. So "D."

BERMAN: So Chris, I was under the impression that you never gave out an "F."

CILLIZZA: Incorrect.

BERMAN: But it seems like today there is one. CILLIZZA: Yes. I think I've actually given Bill de Blasio two "F's."

The first one was because I didn't understand he was running -- why he was running. The second is because I don't understand why he's running.

Also, there is a poll, and it's by Siena College. You need to look at it. Bill de Blasio, less popular in the overwhelmingly Democratic state of New York than who? Donald John Trump.

[07:20:15] I don't get it. I've never gotten it. It doesn't make any sense to me why he is doing this. There is no rationale or path for the candidacy. He is not popular where he was elected. And there's no evidence that he's getting any more popular in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. So I don't -- I don't get it.

CAMEROTA: You can't just grade, Chris, on popularity. You have to grade on actions or on their -- what they've achieved.

CILLIZZA: Yes. But remember, Alisyn, polling is a function, in many ways, of how people assess their time in office. And De Blasio has been mayor and is less popular than Donald Trump, who is probably -- well, I shouldn't say George W. Bush might have been less popular in New York at certain times than Donald Trump, but he is down there.

Look, the people who know him best rate him worst. I don't think that's just about popularity. I think you have to take everything into account, and that includes job performance, which I assume people are rating him on.

CAMEROTA: Well, when we've had him on our program, he has talked about his path and all that he's accomplished in New York, from universal pre-K. I could go on. So it's not -- it ain't nothing.

CILLIZZA: No. It's not nothing. Look, he's the mayor of New York City. What am I? Just a guy who gives out grades.

BERMAN: Humility. Chris Cillizza, Professor, thank you very much for that.

CILLIZZA: Thank you both. Have a great week.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. You, too.

BERMAN: All right. Them's fighting words down in Iowa. Joe Biden says President Trump has abandoned the American farmer. And he went right to the middle of America's heartland to say it. But President Trump said he is the farmer's best friend.

John Avlon has a "Reality Check" -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, guys.

So Joe Biden unloaded on President Trump in Iowa yesterday, and he tailored his attacks to a core Trump constituency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: American farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China, and no one knows that better than the folks of Iowa.

It's easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain and taking the hit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Trump, who was also headed to Iowa, shot back literally before Biden got the words out of his mouth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Best thing that ever happened to the farmers is me. The farmers are my best friend. Nobody has treated the farmers better than Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: So is there really no one who's treated farmers better than President Trump?

Well, first, let's take a look at Iowa's economy. Unemployment there -- rate there is 2.4 percent, third lowest in the nation. That's very good news from a political perspective.

But it was only 3.5 percent at the end of 2016, about half of what it was in the early months of the Obama administration.

And what about the farmers? Well, the sting of Trump's tariffs against China, and China's counterattacks, have begun to make themselves felt down on the farm.

According to Bloomberg, American farm income is off at least 16 percent, around $63 billion, about half the level it was as recently as 2013, the start of Obama's second term.

Now, China strategically has gone after soybeans, and because they're the world's largest importer, it's definitely leaving a mark. The amount of soybeans piling up in storage is up nearly 30 percent over last year. Soybean and corn prices are down at least 10 percent since April.

Not only that, Iowa farmers already hold the most agricultural debt in the nation, and now some of them are having trouble getting operating loans, while farm bankruptcies rose 30 percent last year in six key Midwest states.

"But wait," you say, "I heard President Trump promise he was going to take care of our great patriot farmers."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We will ensure that our farmers get the relief they need and very, very quickly. It's a good time to be a farmer. We're going to make sure of that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Not so much. Turns out federal aid is a lousy substitute for trade.

So far American taxpayers are on the hook for $28 billion -- that's with a "B" -- to farmers, a way of alleviating their pain, minimizing political damage to the president in the process. Now, as much money as that is, it's being called just a little Band-Aid by one Midwest senator.

And you might not be shocked to hear there's some inefficiencies in how the money's being doled out. For example, one study showed about a hundred Iowa farmers received less than $25. A handful received $10 or less. And Iowa state economist called it, quote, "simply a joke," saying that someone at the USDA must have made a mistake.

Now, on the infuriating flip side, the top ten aid recipients received 68 percent of the money. Now there are a lot of loopholes here, and one person apparently benefitting from this, this guy: seven-term Republican senator and family farmer Chuck Grassley. He's applied for assistance both times the Trump administration offered it. He's also suggested that only farmers with, quote, "dirt under their fingernails" should get it, saying he's one of those, too. But Chuck Grassley has worked in Washington since 1975, before three presidential candidates were even born.

Look, Trump's tried to soften the blow of his trade wars with billions in handouts, but farmers are still bearing the burden, and the situation is getting worse. So much for trade wars being good and easy to win.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: That's a good dose of reality, John. Thank you very much.

[07:25:03] BERMAN: I'll take a double dose of reality.

CAMEROTA: Make mine a double.

Jon Stewart came out of retirement for a stunning performance yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, FORMER LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Behind me --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Yes, it wasn't a performance. I mean, this is real life for him and real life for the people who are with him.

CAMEROTA: It was remarkably emotional and intense. He told off Congress for saying that they would never forget 9/11 but then, he says, overlooking our heroes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: When America was attacked, they ran into burning buildings as people ran away from them. And now 9/11 first responders.

[07:30:00]