tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN October 19, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
established company. marco rubio says they are trying to figure out the plan to get power back to the island. wolf, more than a month after the storm. >> bill, great reporting for us. see you back here tomorrow as well. that's it for me. thanks for watching. erin burnett out front starts right now. >> without front, next. breaking news. the defense of president trump's controversial call to a gold star family. is the white house hiding something when it comes to the ambush? lots of questions, not many answers. john mccain, tonight, threaten subpoenas. plus, president obama and george w. bush taking swipes at president trump tonight. we go live to a campaign rally where former president obama is about to speak. let's go out front. good evening, i'm erin burnett. out front tonight, the breaking news, general john kelly breaks silence. an extraordinary press conference from the four-star general speaking out about the
biggest combat loss in trump's administration. the ambush that killed four american soldiers. kelly's own son was killed in afghanistan. he used every ounce of breath he has for the handling of phone calls to the families of four soldiers. here he is. >> he said to me, what do i say? i said to him, sir, there's nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families. but, let me tell you what i tell them. let me tell you what my best friend told me because he was my casualty officer. he said, kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. he knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. he knew what the possibilities were because we are at war.
when he died, in the four cases here and my son's case in afghanistan, when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. that's what the president tried to say to four families the other day. >> kelly said he couldn't believe it that fredricka wilson listened in on the president's call to the family. >> i was stunned when i came to work yesterday morning, broken hearted at what i saw a member of congress doing. a member of congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the united states to a young wife and in his way, tried to express that opinion that he's a brave man, a fallen hero. he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. >> kelly, charging wilson with
politicizing this tragic event and slamming her for listening in on a call that kelly, of course, himself, was listening in on with the president. wilson isn't a random member of congress. she knew him his whole life, was a mentor to him and school principal to johnson's father. she says this is very personal to her. that's why she was with the family at the time of great grief and loss. kelly didn't acknowledge that. he took it further suggesting she is an empty barrel telling a story about a dedication ceremony in miami. >> the congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty battles making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
>> empty barrel. whatever you think of congresswoman wilson and what she did, calling someone an empty barrel is making this political and personal. amid all of this, it shouldn't be lost. what congresswoman wilson said the president said on the call to sergeant johnson family actually happened, almost word for word the words president trump used according to fredricka wilson. >> he said to the wife, well, i guess he knew what he was getting into. >> congresswoman wilson was scheduled to be my guest. she canceled after kelly spoke. we hope she will join us when she is ready to speak out. sarah, this was an incredible press conference. the white house clearly trying to move on from this controversy. >> reporter: it was an incredible press conference. this is not the narrative the white house wants to deal with. obviously, there are raw
emotions on all sides of this. we saw this when general kelly came to the briefing room and spoke of something he doesn't normally speak of. the loss of his son in afghanistan. he talked about how you transport a soldier's body when they are killed, home, and how a mass casualty or casualty officer will accompany them and just the gravity of the moment, the gravity of the duty, the gravity of informing a family of what has happened in the worst moment of their life and how he advised the president that the president shouldn't make these phone calls, there was nothing he could do to improve on the situation and offered his words of advice from his experience on how the president should navigate this. obviously, the phone call did not go the way they hoped. we saw congresswoman wilson come out and assail the president's word choice, the president's tone, the mother of the sergeant confirmed the congresswoman's account, confirmed the words the
president used and that the sergeant's widow was upset by this. obviously, it didn't go the way they hoped. as we saw general kelly talk of how important it was that it was politicized, he went on to call the congresswoman an empty barrel and leave out the context that she was with the family. by her account, she was close to the family and with the family when the president called. they put the call on speakerphone when she was there. on all sides whether it was kelly's side of president trump's side, everyone has made this a political football, i think in ways they may not have necessarily intended and certainly, in ways that you would not hope for the death of a serviceman. >> that is absolutely true. thank you so much, sarah. now outfront, mark puto who spent the day with congresswoman wilson and chris cillizza. mark, you were there, with her
throughout the day and with congresswoman wilson when she learned what general kelly said about her. you know, in part, the empty barrel comments, of course, and calling her selfish. what was her reaction? >> i was on the iphone with the story on it and she looked at it quickly and said, he'll say that to save his job, he'll say anything. then wilson reiterated that she had other witnesses on the call and it wasn't just her. as you pointed out, her account of what trump said is similar to what john kelly said trump said. the difference here seems to be in context. the outlier appears to be president trump who called wilson's version of what he said fabricated, yet, again, kelly kind of echoed what wilson said trump told the widow. >> that's tree. look, the attacks on the congresswoman were deeply personal. play again, you know, kelly
telling that story of the opening of the fbi office back in 2015, the dedication of the field office in miami. here is what he said. >> the congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. how she took care of her constituents and got the money and called up president obama and on that phone call, he gave the money, $20 million to build the building. she sat down. we were stunned. stunned that she did that. even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. >> even for someone who is that empty a barrel. that is nasty. was this general kelly going out on his own or did the president send him out to do this? >> you know, general kelly, to
date, used the word stunning, stunned, variations of that. it was stunning the way he went after the congressman, the congresswoman. you asked if trump put him up to it. he seemed to be speaking personally and had this story from 2015 with a level of disdain that was quite surprising, calling her an empty barrel twice, referring to her as this woman, never saying her name or acknowledging that she actually had a role in sergeant johnson's life. i mean, he talked about, for instance, how sergeant johnson was self-less in one of the best of us. guess what? representative wilson had a role in that. she was a principal, she was a teacher, she's been in that community for decades and decades. also, i'm not sure why general kelly couldn't understand maybe the family wanted her there
because she was a friend, of course, but she's a government official and had gone through this before with other people, other young men who had fallen and part of her mentoring program. maybe they wanted her there because she was familiar with the situation before. i thought it was a low point for him. he, on the one hand is kind of lamenting the erosion where women were treated like they were sacred and there hs dismissing representative wilson like she was nothing. >> that's the thing i find surprising about this. he's criticizing her for listening in. he was listening in because the president of the united states wanted him in the room. she was there because the family put him on speakerphone. doesn't that give her the equal right? >> she's a member of congress that represents constituents. what you have to do, you have to separate out the sort of first
half of what john kelly said and the second half of what he said. the first half, extremely moving stuff. details that most of us don't know about how bodies of fallen soldiers are moved, how they are brought home and the calls work, talking about the loss of his own son and john dunford reaching out to him and giving him the advice he passes on to trump that trump tries to communicate down the line. so, that's part one. part two is a lot of us touched on and you touched on as it relates to congresswoman wilson and also, i thought the whole thing about things that used to be sacred, you have to remember who your boss is. donald trump went after the kahn family after the national democratic convention, but responded to a gold star family that lost their son.
donald trump is not captured about john mccain, the man who was the nominee of the party and donald trump made a lot of comments about the sacred women. >> okay, i want to play that soundbyte. >> yeah. >> there is something about that, whether you support president trump or you don't support him. many of the things he has said and done to and said about women are disgusting, at the least. here is what general kelly said about things that are sacred. >> when i was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. women were sacred. looked upon with great honor. that's obviously not the case anymore as we have seen. life. the dignity of life is sacred. that's gone. religion, that seems to be gone as well. gold star families, i think that left in the convention over the summer. >> obviously exonerating his own boss on the gold star families issue. marc, women were sacred, looked
upon with great honor. that's obviously not the case anymore as we have seen in recent cases. >> sounds like he's talking about -- i guess he's talking about harvey weinstein. >> i'm sure, but is he truly oblivious to his boss? >> i mean, if you are asking me to get inside the mind of a trump white house official, i'm vastly underqualified. you might need a mind reader to do that. what i can say, bring it back to congresswoman fredricka wilson, she's an icon in the african-american community in miami-dade county. in that role, she is widely known and well known and really beloved. she has earned that reputation by having 5,000 role model of excellence program which he graduated from in 2010. when she goes to events, she has a number of young black men who grow up poor, disadvantaged, at risk, who love her.
they have gone on to be professionals, firemen, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and they always remember her. they revere her. so, i think it would probably help general kelly to know more about fredricka wilson and understand when they talk about revering women, she is revered in the african-american community here. incidentally, they hate trump. her constituents despise trump. i have a lot of people saying that, you know, she's going to get voted out of office. if anything, this will increase her popularity in the district. >> you were nodding as marc was talking. >> that's the thing. i mean, he trashed representative wilson in that speech from the white house. here is a person who is a public servant in her own way and a patriot in her own way and has been in her own way in serving her constituents there. it was such an odd thing he did
that. i think marc bringing up the racial component, you can't dismiss that. here is a white house that has been plagued by being racially di- visive and they are trashing this african-american woman who has done great things for the community and things for african-american men in particular. something that conservatives, you would think, she has 5,000 role models program. you would think conservatives would embrace that, the kind of things she is trying to do in that community. here she is, trashed from the white house. i thought it was a real unfortunate note for general kelly, unnecessary, really. >> the speech had a lot of emotional and meaningful moments everyone could acknowledge for a man who is a hero to slam her and not know the facts of the relationship with the family. certainly hit a bad tone. >> by the way, very, very quickly, remember who brought
john kelly's son's death into the political conversation. wasn't fredricka wilson. it was donald trump who said ask general kelly about his son because he wanted to make the point that he did more for fallen soldiers than past presidents. let's not forget, i know three days ago feels like a millennium ago, but that's how we got to john kelly talking about the loss of his son. >> right. very well said. thank you all. >> thank you. next, general kelly talking about his son's death today. his feelings always kept private. now, thanks to the president, forced into the open. >> he's the finest man i ever knew. >> why? >> just is. >> plus, john mccain threatened subpoenas on the ambush. why are there still so many questions tonight. president bush speaking out,
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president trump said what he denied about i saying about an american soldier killed. democratic congresswoman, fredricka wilson said trump called the widow and said, quote, he knew what he signed up for. that's word for word what she said the president said. here is the president yesterday, and his chief of staff today, talking about that exact same phone call. >> didn't say what that woman said. didn't say it at all. >> a congresswoman who listened in on a phone call from the president of the united states. he tried to express that opinion that he is a brave man, a fallen hero. he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. that was the message transmitted. >> out front, former clinton white house aid and former communications director, brian
lanza, who was the former deputy communications director for the trump campaign. he said he never said what the congresswoman said. he snad a tweet, it was fabricated. general kelly says the exact same words the congresswoman said. was the president not telling the truth? >> i hear it differently than you. i hear context. context matters. what the congresswoman is trying to portrait is a harsh context. when you hear what general kelly says, there is a huge distinction. i think the president is saying that's not what he said, it's not the context. i think that's the criticism is unfair. this is where we are today. >> keith? >> in other words, what i think brian is saying is the president lied to the american public. >> that's not what i'm saying. >> that's what you said, in other words. he said the congresswoman fabricated the words. they were the same words.
general kelly confirmed the words. the context might have been different. i heard it maybe he said it, but meant something different. >> wanted her to hear it a different way. >> he came out, denied it, went into the normal mode to attack, attack, attack and make the story about him. it's this narcissistic personality. he has to learn to be bigger than that. >> two members of the family confirmed the president said that. when you get at the tone of the words that matter, context, let's give you that. if that's what they heard, isn't it incumbent on him to say, gosh, that's not what i meant. to be -- to be the kind of emp thetic one. >> we don't know what follow up conversations they are going to have with the president being the president of the united states. we don't know how long he will be engaged in this. we should allow this private
moment of the commander in chief with the family members of the fallen. what i saw earlier, general kelly's press conference was a rebuke of the coverage of the last 72 hours on this specific phone call. this is the problem that is occurring. we are not giving the president the benefit of the doubt. we are jumping to the most negative conclusion and we get lost in these things. that's the problem here. >> i feel it incumbent upon me, if he's frustrated with the past 72 hours, it should be with the person that started the thing politici politicizing it, president trump. nobody is talking about that. >> the media is the one who politicized this saying when did you actually call? you have been tweeting on these things, but you haven't called the family. >> no, no, no. >> that's what took place. >> first of all -- the media has its job. >> sure. >> let's not make this -- let me
speak for a chance, okay. brian, what's going on here is four american soldiers were killed two weeks ago. two weeks and one day. the president of the united states took 12 days to acknowledge it. the defense department drafted a statement for the president to issue. he did not issue that statement. he didn't talk about it. he was attacking hillary clinton, barack obama and the nfl during that time. he talked about it on monday because a reporter asked him a question. he had been not saying anything about it. this young man, david johnson, his body was lying out there in the desert for two whole days, practically and the united states government did nothing to rescue him. yes, the american people want to know what happened. we want answers. the family deserves answers. >> abc luftly. >> that's the reason the widow and the mother conferred with congresswoman wilson. >> john kelly said there were many thing that is were sacred
in this thing, gold star families. it's no longer that. the last thing that may be sacred is men fighting for the united states. >> i still hope, as you write your stories, and i appeal to america that let's not let this maybe last thing that is held sacred in our society, a young man, a young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country. let's try to somehow keep that sacred. but, it eroded a great deal fwi selfish behavior of a member of congress. >> brian, are you all right with that? bringing in a member of congress into this? >> i mean, i would say this, she shouldn't have spoke out without the complete context of the statement. this should be a very personal phone call between the family and the president. some president's make these calls, some don't. it doesn't matter what each
president does. this should be a private moment. for her to politicize it, she brought in a political twist between something that should be between the president and the family. that's repulsive. we need to let the families mourn. we need to support them, prop them up, love them, encourage them, do all these things. the last thing to do is politicize them. >> i agree. i agree, we should not politicize it. why was the chief of staff on the call? it's not just a communication between one person and another. fredricka wilson was a family friend of johnson. she knew this young man. she had the right to be there. she was in the car with the widow at the time it happened. the idea donald trump and the white house is trying to make it an attack on congresswoman wilson is their responsibility. >> thank you both. what happened?
john mccain is threatening subpoenas on the ambush. why are there still so few answers? obama back on the campaign trail with a not so subtle swipe at the current command every in chief. >> the politics we see, now we thought we put that to bed. pic but with my back pain i couldn't sleep and get up in time. then i found aleve pm. aleve pm is the only one to combine a safe sleep aid plus the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. i'm back. aleve pm for a better am.
breaking news. senator john mccain may seek a subpoena on the ambush in legionnaire to left four dead and others wounded. it doesn't matter that the department hasn't finished their own investigation. >> that's not how the system works. we are co-equal branches of government. >> why are there still no answers more than two weeks after the greatest combat loss in president trump's administration? barbara starr is out front. >> reporter: green berets were leading. 29 routine patrols over the last six months. this time, it was all out
combat. >> a reason we have u.s. army soldiers there and not the peace corps. we carry guns. it's the reality and the danger our troops face. >> reporter: kogt initial reports, the soldiers just left the meeting and were near their trucks to meet up with those who stayed behind. they walked right into an ambush. >> a fire fight is unlike any other human endeavor. it's confusing, it's loud, it's terrifying. there's blood, screams, danger all around. >> reporter: a military investigation is under way. >> had we anticipated this sort of attack we would have absolutely devoted more resources to it, to reduce the risk and that's something we are looking at right now. >> reporter: what is known is disturbing. the troops had been told it was unlikely there would be opposition in the area. now, the u.s. believes it was 50 isis fighters who attacked them.
isis was armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. the americans had their rifles. the u.s. troops fought back, running for cover, calling for help. 30 minutes later, french jets flew over the battlefield to scare off the isis fighters. they had no authority to fire on them. it was close to an hour before french military helicopters and a u.s. contractor aircraft came in to evacuate the dead and wounded, u.s. officials say. >> did they know what was going on in the area? were they sharing with the right people? did the african countries know something the u.s. did not know? that's another area. the third area might be how do you evacuate if you have potential casualties? >> reporter: tough questions face the pentagon and the president. what happened during the fire fight. how did sergeant johnson get left behind?
was he killed instantly? important questions to understand what went wrong, especially how did sergeant johnson get separated from his fellow soldiers when the evacuation aircraft took off, they were one minnesota short. no one can say why johnson wasn't picked up. >> the u.s. military does not leave troops behind. i ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the fire fight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once. >> because nobody knew if he might be alive still, plans for a secret navy s.e.a.l. rescue mission was made. sergeant johnson's body was found 48 hours later. nobody can say why and how he was left behind. the pentagon is making the case that the troops on the ground did everything they could to find sergeant johnson, but we have not been given the full narrative, yet. that said, today, we saw the
chief of staff of the white house, john kelly, secretary mattis out for the first time in public discussing all of this in detail. we are told very much part of the administration effort to recapture the narrative on the story. >> barbara, thank you very much. out front, sean turner. he served 21 years in the u.s. marine corps, including tours in iraq and afghanistan. cia operative and security analyst, bob joins us with the joint chief of staff, senator blaten. you know a lot about what we need to know about what happened here. colonel, let me start with you. you heard barbara's report. john mccain saying he's considering subpoenas. he is not getting any answers at all, right now. what is the issue here? why are there no answers going to the senate armed service committee or information going to them at all?
>> well, erin, right now, there is little information going to the armed service committee. part of it may be because the pentagon is looking into what exactly happened. they believe they have to make sure everything is set up exactly correct so they can present it to congress. of course, congress is going to look at this and say, we need to know now what happened. >> right. >> part of it is resource. congress holds the pursestrings. >> john mccain said that's not how it works, they get all the information right away. bob, last night, you said this is worse than benghazi because that was the ambassador's decision. he made that decision. in this case, it was the pentagon's decision, ultimately, the commander in chief's responsibility. do you think they know more than they are telling us? this john mccain feeling saying they are not being up front?
>> well, erin, i think a mistake was made. they were clearly surprised in an ambush. the intelligence was bad. they shouldn't have been there. there was no back up. the fact contractors had to rescue them, the fact that the french flew over the sight, but couldn't fire, it was a fiasco. they were set up. through command, through the pentagon, people understand this. a huge mistake was made. whose fault was it? the fact that these guys fought heroically and got out of there, the fact somebody was left behind, that happens in the confusion of combat. the question is, who sent them up there and, you know, the president is saying, look, we have defeated isis in raqqah, i have done it, finally, the past administration failed. in fact, isis is very much active and this is something that people aren't prepared to admit in the administration. >> i want to talk more about that in a moment. that's a crucial point.
sean, what about the point bob raises. they go into this village and they obviously don't have the intelligence, right? there's 50 isis linked militants there. a lot of people would have known that. it's a village they have been to a lot of times before. it would seem it's intelligence that someone should have had and, yet, they get in there, 30 minutes later, the french fly over and they are not allowed to drop anything if they had it. they are not allowed to do that. contractors had to get them out. does this trouble you? >> it does, erin. i think intelligence is the most important point here. the military investigators are going to look at this intelligence from a bunch of perspectives. they are going to look at the source of the intelligence. was this recent intelligence or operating based on old intelligence? an important question is they are going to look at how this intelligence they were operating under when they decided to take this particular action, how that
compared to intelligence they had previously. if you had intelligence saying it was permissive for quite some time and as a result, you get into a rhythm and operate in a certain way in a hostile area, then that environment changes. often times, that's what you see when events like this happen. >> sean, it seems if that's the case, there was a huge misjudgment. there was an expectation they were going to be up front about this information. obviously they weren't. you don't have 50 isis people without people not knowing about it. >> absolutely right. it's also the case that if this was good intelligence, understand this is an environment where we tend to have fairly good intelligence, one of two things will happen here. either we are going to discover that there was something about the intelligence that changed fairly rapidly so we no longer had good visibility of what was happening on the ground or,
those attackers, those fighters had some information that we were not able to glean in intelligence because they got it fairly recently. there are a lot of questions to be answered here. the one thing i will say, erin, is that no matter what this investigation finds, absz luteally nothing should take away from the sacrifice these brave men made and i think from the top down, we need to make sure we honor their service and wraparound these families. they need our support. >> before we go, bob, the president in the past few weeks talking about how well his administration is doing against isis. here he is. >> we have done better in eight months of my presidency than the previous eight years against isis. we have made great strides against isis. isis is now giving up. they are giving up. >> here they are active in a country most americans don't often hear of. 50 in one village.
bob? >> erin, yeah, it's a mistake. losing raqqah is important to them, but not crucial. isis is coming back and it will strike back whether it's in chad or mali. they will come back. or the middle east. we are not done with this war. to claim victory is a big mistake on the add min strangss part, i guarantee that. trump interviews candidates for open positions. if a top democrat has his way, they will never get those jobs. president trump giving himself a ten out of ten in puerto rico. do people there agree? we are live in san juan. .your e. that's why there's ocuvite. it helps replenish nutrients your eyes can lose as you age. nourish your eyes to help keep them healthy. ocuvite. be good to your eyes.
it's me and it's you. don't stop now, it's easy to add to the routine. join energy upgrade california and do your thing. tonight, national security adviser, hr mcmaster defending the delayed response to the legionnaire attack. >> the investigation has a couple aims. one is to inform the american people, inform the congress, inform across the government as to what really happened. they have a common understanding. it might seem like this has been a long time. it's not that long ago. >> up front now senator richard blumenthal, this raid up front and center for you.
we don't know a lot about the raid. it's been two weeks. part of the reason it became a massive story is the president's silence on it for 12 days until asked about it. senator john mccain said the trump administration is not being up front. he said they are not. here is what he told us today. >> does the committee need to know in terms of details -- >> everything. >> reporter: can you be more specific? >> everything. >> reporter: what steps? >> maybe require a subpoena. >> do you feel the administration has been forthcoming? >> of course not. >> pretty infinitive, of course not and may require a subpoena. do you think the administration might be hiding something, somewhere? >> i agree with senator mccain. the administration needs to be more forthcoming. there may be a reason for subpoenas. certainly, there is a need for a classified briefing as soon as possible, not weeks away but next week and i believe, also,
the american public has a right to know. there ought to be open hearings. the administration officials should be under oath and public. there needs to be a full, fair investigation, not only by the administration, but possibly by our committee as well. so, i agree completely with senator mccain and senator reid who are in unison on this issue. >> why do you think it took them so long? they had a statement ready go. they didn't put it out. 12 days went by. that's why the president was asked about this, then, of course, he made it political with a separate issue of calling the families of the fallen. we are now two weeks out. why haven't they said anything? >> the delay in disclosure ought to be question number one. i think it is one of the reasons why senator mccain rightly was so definitive in his statement that the administration failed to be forthcoming and, in fact,
they have been. they need to engage in full disclosure here. >> you also suggested today, you may try to block u.s. attorney nominees interviewed by the president. he is doing that. to be clear, there were a lot of vacancies, right? he fired a lot of people. the resignation of 46 attorneys is what he asked for. a white house official told cnn today, speaking of you, senate democrats would like to reduce the president's constitutional powers but he and presidents before and after him may talk to nominations within the executive branch. >> we are talking here about nominees in two or three judicial districts where president trump fired the incumbents and where politically sensitive investigations were under way involving his associates, the presidents.
now, he is interviewing the nominees to replace those incumbents. now, interviews by the president of the united states with united states attorney nominees is unprecedented as far as z i know and i asked attorney general sessions yesterday whether he knew of any and he did not. >> so, you are saying, perhaps not uninstitutional or illegal but unprecedented and that's enough. >> unprecedented and creates a grave appearance of a conflict of interest for the president to interview nominees for chief prosecutorial positions where he may be, in fact, a target of an investigation or legal action. and, that is problematic from my standpoint. i am going to ask those nominees about those conversations with the president of the united states, to determine whether, in any way, he raised issues that may be relevant to their subsequent service and i am
going to block those nominations until we have those hearings and we are given an opportune toy ask those questions under oath. >> of course to state the obvious, the >> jurisdiction of new york applies to trump corporation, thank you senator blumenthal as always. >> on "outfront" next, president trump gives himself a ten on the puerto rican hurricane response. do people on the ground think it's a ten? into a prince. and sadness into happily ever after. but it can't transform your business. for that, you need dell technologies. 7 technology leaders now working together under one name. we're transforming jet engines into turbo-powered safety inspectors. dairy cows
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shying away from the current political environment under president trump. >> instead of our politics reflecting our values, we've got politics infecting our communities. instead of looking for ways to work together and get things done in practical way, we've got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry. to demonize people who have different ideas. to get the base all riled up. >> this just hours after george w. bush blasted bigotry and white supremacy and said this in new york. >> we've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. at times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. argument turns too easily into
animosity. disagreement escalates into dehumanization. we've seen nationalism distorted into nativism. >> pretty strong words, well written. alex is in richmond, virginia, where president obama are. president bush and president obama both aiming at president trump but not naming him by name. how was president obama received today? >> reporter: very well. you can hear the raucous crowd. rock star's welcome. first time that president obama is back in campaign mode since the brutal election last year. former president making two stops, first in new jersey this afternoon to support the gubernatorial candidate there, phil murphy, and coming to richmond to support ralph north am. he made it clear in comments, became evident he wasn't going
to mention trump by name. didn't talk about the efforts of president trump to erase president obama's legacy when it comes to health care, iran, the paris peace accord. but what he did make clear is that he does not want to see any more of president trump's brand of political divisiveness. take a listen. >> at a time when our politics just seem so divided and so angry and so nasty, is whether we can recapture that spirit, whether we support and embrace somebody who wants to bring people together. >> reporter: so a clear attack against president trump and his brand of politics, calling it short-term gains when he appeals to the crowds and base in campaign-style rallies.
big question, how much will president obama be campaigning going forward? this is the first time we mentioned he came out. we know from obama camp he's interested in state races where so much of the former president's agenda and legacy can be protected but don't have much of an indication of how much go out for congressional candidates in 2018. race in virginia is very close. remains to be seen how much president obama's star power can affect this race, election on november 7th. >> and also new tonight, president trump giving himself a pat on the back over his response to the deadly hurricane that tore through pryts. >> how would you grade the white house response? >> i'd say it was a ten. >> out of what? a ten. despite 80% of the island still not having power. areas without access to clean water and nearly a move after hurricane irma hit. what do people there think?
that's what matters polo you talked to people who were hit hard. what are they telling you? >> reporter: optimistic assessment from the oval office is not sitting well for people here on island where 22% of folks have electricity. rest still many the dark a month after the hurricane swept through. you've heard the stories for weeks and the real need, especially in rural pockets. today didn't go far. five minutes outside the capital. took the news to residents in that neighborhood about the grade that president trump gave the efforts by u.s. government. here's what they had to say about it. >> i grade them f. because they -- they're going too slow. it's been a month, already. more than a month. u.s. troops should have been here two days later.
why take a week, two? why not two or three days later? this is emergency. there's people dying, killing themselves. babies getting sick. my daughter five months old, been in hospital twice in less than a month. >> president trump says that government deserves a ten grade for the performance. >> zero. american. >> reporter: zero and f. two u.s. citizens. progress we saw, fema contractors putting blue tarps on homes, utility cruise replacing poles that were snapped like twigs but reality is probably could be months before electricity is flowing through the lines. consensus among the folks if president trump, if local
officials want that ten, they have to work for it. >> thank you so much polo. thanks for joining us. watch "outfront" anytime on cnngo. "360" now. white house chief of staff john kelly retired general and gold star supporter spoke to reporters and delivered a defense of president trump's call to widow, wife of sergeant ladavid johnson. congresswoman was with the wife when president called her. said the president was insensitive when he told the wife, he knew what he signed up for, but i guess