CNN’s Phil Mattingly And Ali Velshi Slam Trump's “Literally Illegal” Torture And “Dishonest” Trade Policies

From the June 29 edition of CNN's New Day:

Video file

CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): Phil, you know, you're very close to the Trump campaign in covering it. He had a big day yesterday with his trade policy speech. It was substantive, he had ideas. It's what the party wants, it's what the voters should need. We'll get to that. This is what's going to get the headline, though. His saying we should match tactics. Now, who's he targeting with that? What's going to be the push back?

PHIL MATTINGLY: Well, he's targeting really the electorate that he's targeted up until this point. And I think the question becomes, it's an electorate that already supports him, right? It's the Republican primary electorate that's for him. The question I think is, first off, the idea of bringing back tactics that have been labeled as terrorism and have been banned --

CUOMO: Illegal.

MATTINGLY: They're illegal. They're quite literally illegal. Is unsettling to a lot of people still. But what it taps into is fear about kind of the broad picture that ISIS creates and that we as a country are not tough enough to deal with them. And isn't that at the core of Donald Trump's message throughout the last 13 months? Whether it's on economics or whether it's on national security, we are not tough enough to deal with them. Bring back terrorism. Yeah, of course, why not? They're cutting off heads. We should at least waterboard. It's been a consistent message from him, and you heard it again last night. The question becomes, and I hinted at this earlier, after Orlando, that kind of bombastic congratulatory “I was right, we should be tougher” response did not play well at all. As a matter of fact, most recent polling showed Hillary Clinton was favored in the response to Orlando by as many as 18 points. That was unsettling inside Trump's campaign. You saw the difference in the statement they put out versus the public statement he made. How he kind of tries to walk that line going forward will be interesting.

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): So they both put out statements, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And I just want to read one sentence from each that are the crux of their arguments so we can just see the contradiction here. He put out this statement, and in it he says, “We must take steps now to protect America from terrorists.” So, not specific. But, you know, just saying we should be strong against terrorists. Then she puts out a statement and the crux of which is, “We must deepen our cooperation with our allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe to take on this threat.” OK, a little more specific, but again, not exactly how we are going to quiet terror, Ali.

ALI VELSHI: No and, ultimately, Donald Trump's lack of specificity on being “tough” and “something really bad” is kind of like his “huge and amazing,” none of which a campaign or a presidency makes. The bottom line, and I've done a good deal of studying on how ISIS works, it's very different from Al Qaeda, first of all. Secondly, Ali Soufan has been very clear, if you read his book The Black Banners, much of which has been redacted by the CIA, he speaks specifically about the only usable information they got out of interrogations was when they were not waterboarding. 

CAMEROTA: But people will say anything when they're being tortured is the thinking.

VELSHI: Correct. And fundamentally, this is -- the reason it's not like Al Qaeda is because it has a lot of money. They recruit people. They pay them. Most of them are part of an apocalyptic cult, but some of them are unemployed youth from Western Europe who get a few hundred dollars a week by working for ISIS. So if you undercut them financially, and the way you do that is you get to Qatar, you get to Kuwait, you get to the Gulf Countries, you put pressure on Saudi Arabia, what we're doing. 

CAMEROTA: So why aren't the candidates spelling that out? 

VELSHI: Because Donald Trump doesn't enjoy specificity, and Hillary Clinton understands you can't go and spit on your allies while you're trying to get their help. 

CUOMO: But Ali, let's look at two sides of that proposition. One is he's going to get pushback from the military about we should match tactics. Not only is it a philosophical conversation about do you want to match the savagery of your enemy, that's your one advantage over these people is that they are perceived as savages and you are not.

VELSHI: That is correct, yeah.

CUOMO: And the military's going to say it didn't work for us. So he's going to have a problem with that statement. Plays, as Phil said politically, it is not going to play practically. The trade, though. You said he doesn't like specifics. That speech he gave yesterday on trade was specific.

VELSHI: And dishonest.

CUOMO: Well, why?

VELSHI: Highly dishonest. He claimed Bill Clinton brought NAFTA in. Bill Clinton took over NAFTA because George H. W. Bush couldn't get it done by January 1993.

CUOMO: Hold on, Ali Velshi, let me do something. This will be a statement against interest. I get beaten up. I know you tell me not to do it, but I'm on Twitter on this issue all the time. I get beaten up like, you know, like any metaphor you want to apply because people say, “you got into it.” I got into it with Trump about NAFTA, and he's like “Clinton, Clinton, Clinton.”

VELSHI: It's not Clinton.

CUOMO: I said, “Wait, you can't blame NAFTA on somebody without blaming Bush.” Bush 41 started it, he got it signed, but he couldn't get the votes to get it through. Is that true?

VELSHI: He really desperately wanted to, 100 percent true. He desperately wanted to have NAFTA done before January, before the inauguration in 1993. He couldn't. So Bill Clinton added two side-codicils to NAFTA to strengthen the rights of American workers. That was only one of about seven lies in yesterday's speech. 


There were seven points he said he made in the speech. There were four points because China was three of them. Trade manipulation were two of them. Ronald Reagan, he talked about how Ronald Reagan imposed trade restrictions. He did it four times in his entire eight years, temporarily. Ronald Reagan was a major free trader. So, if that's a substantive speech.


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