To CNN's horror, President Trump unleashed a series of new tweets Monday morning, picking up where he left off in his "tweet storm" on Sunday. As she briefed the anchors of New Day, White House Reporter Kaitlan Collins could not tell if "these tweets actually represent a change in policy for this President or if they’re just simply him venting after watching cable news."
As CNN attempted to make the case that part of the President's Easter Sunday "tweet storm" directly resulted from a segment on Fox & Friends Weekend, guest co-host and former Obama administration official Jim Sciutto attempted to paint that particular segment as racist.
Less than 24 hours after the President released a tweet that urged Republicans to use the nuclear option to pass tough laws to prevent “caravans” from coming into the United States and just minutes before this New Day segment aired, President Trump tweeted about Mexico allowing "large caravans of people enter[ing] their country" and that "[t]hey must stop them at their northern border.”
Co-host Alisyn Camerota asked CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in on the President’s assertion that “we have no effective border laws.” Toobin argued that “it’s a mistake to parse these tweets too carefully for logic and factual accuracy.”
The discussion then turned to the Fox & Friends Weekend segment about a caravan filled with an “army of migrants” hoping to make their way from the United States of Honduras. The hosts tried to make the point that this segment triggered the President to make his initial tweet referencing “caravans.” Sciutto denounced the use of the phrase “army of migrants”, saying that “it speaks to an invasion of brown people, right, from Central America?”
Toobin then launched a public service announcement for the DACA recipients, making sure that the New Day viewers knew that the dreamers “are actual human beings who have lived...the vast majority of the ir lives in the United States.”
As Toobin made his case for amnesty for the DACA recipients, Camerota tried to paint the “Dreamers” in the best possible light: “they have served in the military, they’ve gone through schools.” Guest co-host John Avlon argued that the rhetoric about DACA ends up “dehumanizing the people we’re talking about, the human beings because it’s at the level of a talking point of a sound bite, designed to create fear among a certain element of the base.”
Toobin then expressed his pessimism about a DACA deal, saying “there hasn’t been a single time in the Trump Presidency when he has done a Nixon to China, when he has done anything, any policy except that that pleases his base. I mean that’s, that’s the bet he’s placing on his Presidency, of being a very hardline conservative and keeping his base happy.”
To see the relevant transcript, click "expand."
CNN's New Day
KAITLAN COLLINS: The President is continuing to tweet his, following up his “tweet storm” yesterday, Jim, Alisyn, and John, saying “Mexico has the absolute power to let these large caravans of people enter their country. They must stop them at their northern border, which they can do because their border laws work, not allow them to pass through into our country, which has no effective border laws.” So we’re seeing there he’s continuing to tweet about this. It’s unclear if these tweets actually represent a change in policy for this President or if they’re just simply him venting after watching cable news.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Okay, we’ll talk about that.
JIM SCIUTTO: Does that happen? Does that happen, Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Okay. We’ll talk about that connection. Kaitlan, thank you very much. Here to break down all of this, we have CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev and CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. So, Jeffrey, he says we, Mexico has effective border laws but we don’t. We have no effective border laws? Is that what the President just said?
JEFFREY TOOBIN: You know, he’s also said that his administration is a huge success at cutting illegal immigration so, you know, I, I think it’s a mistake to parse these tweets too carefully for logic and factual accuracy. But they are good windows into what he is actually thinking. And he is worried that his base thinks that he is getting soft on immigration.
CAMEROTA: Right, we’ve heard that from Ann Coulter for sure.
TOOBIN: This stuff that takes a harder line. Okay, before you guys all talk about it, we do now know the genesis of this change in his policy and it was a Fox & Friends Weekend segment. The President loves watching Fox & Friends, as we know, my friends over at the weekend show. Griff Jenkins was on, Abby Hunstman was on, Pete Hegseth was on, and they were opining on this story of a caravan with a reporter in it, trying to get from, I think Honduras, to the U.S. border. So here is what the President watched. Listen to this moment.
PETE HEGSETH: An army of migrants is literally marching or riding or making their way from, is it from Honduras?
ABBY HUNTSMAN: Most, all of them from Central America. The big question is, what happens when they do arrive in the US? I know they want to, to seek protection
GRIFF JENKINS: Some are seeking asylum.
HUNTSMAN: But they won’t necessarily get that?
JENKINS: Well, no, they’re going to be arrested. I mean, you can’t illegally come to the United States.
HUNTSMAN: Will they though? I don’t know.
HEGSETH: What do you think? If there’s a small migrant army marching toward the United States peacefully but wants to cross our borders, how should it be handled?
TOOBIN: I don’t know, what a good question for the Fox audience.
JIM SCIUTTO: A migrant army. Listen, I mean listen to that phrasing, though. This is an army, it speaks to an invasion of brown people, right, from Central America? This is the implication there and you do have a direct kind of pipeline from that broadcast to the President.
CAMEROTA: Because the President tweeted shortly after that. But listen, that’s a talking point on Fox & Friends Weekend. We used to do these all the time. That’s what the show is. You talk about the news, you don’t report the news. You talk about the news and you sort of opine on it. But when, when I was on the show, President Obama wasn’t forming policy, I don’t think, based on my blatherings. But, but Margaret, this, this, there is a direct link from that airing to then the President’s tweet.
MARGARET TALEV: Well, and the President knows that there is a key component of his base that also watches the same programming and may, may want him to respond to that also. I, you know, look, it is not exactly clear whether this was sort of weekend twitter and then we’ll shift back to weekday policy or whether this is a potential shift. Up until now, we’ve been hearing pretty consistently that they think they’re going to be able to work this out on NAFTA and that the President’s been committed to taking care of the DACA children at some point. Although, just how wasn’t clear, that March date passed and here we are now. I’ll say this. At 2:00 this afternoon on his public schedule is a meeting with the new National Economic Council Leader Larry Kudlow, there to replace Gary Cohn. And Larry Kudlow’s input could be really important on a couple of fronts, both dealing with how the US and Mexico deal with one another economically and, and about China policy.
TOOBIN: But, but let’s just talk about DACA for one more minute and point out that there are 800,000 people whose lives and fate are in jeopardy here. And, you know, we talk about them as if they are just a political issue. They are actual human beings who have lived vast, lived the vast majority of their lives in the United States...
CAMEROTA: They've served in the military, they have gone through schools...
TOOBIN: ...And, and, you know, the President keeps making up stuff about them, you know, acting as if he’s the one that wanted to protect them, when in fact, it’s been the Republicans who have rejected every attempt to, to protect their fate. I mean, you know...
JOHN AVLON: What we’re seeing from that clip, though, that I think’s significant is the moment of inception. I mean, when Pete Hegseth says, you know, “What do you think?”, he might as well say “what do you think, Mr. President?” Because he is going to get a response in close to real time, the President tweeting this morning about this, apparently in reaction to another, you know, segment on that station. And so it does end up dehumanizing the people we’re talking about, the human beings because it’s at the level of a talking point of a sound bite, designed to create fear among a certain element of the base.
SCIUTTO: It’s a pure political calculation, as Kaitlan Collins reporting this morning. The President does feel, as you were referencing Jeffrey, that his base is worried he’s softening on immigration. And therefore, you know, he’s sending a message directly to the base with this.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, I mean, Ann Coulter, we heard, we saw the reporting from Frank Bruni this weekend, that she says without a wall, that she’s a former Trumper. That that’s, that’s the deal breaker for her. Here’s, is this another tweet?
SCIUTTO: Yes it is, because there is a dot, dot, dot. It’s a continuation of the one earlier. But the President continuing, "Congress must immediately pass Border Legislation, use Nuclear Option if necessary, to stop the massive inflow of Drugs and People. Border Patrol Agents (and ICE) are GREAT, but the weak Dem laws don’t allow them to do their job. Act now Congress, our country is being stolen!” I mean, there’s a factual issue here, in that actually, immigration across that border is down dramatically in the last, in the last year but the President’s political point is clear.
AVLON: Yeah, he’s invoking the nuclear option and he’s talking about how the country’s borders are being stolen, apparently under his watch. But the real tragedy is the President has the capital to pull a Nixon in China on this issue if he wanted to. You know, there were outlines of a grand bargain that could preserve the dreamers, which in the past he said he’s wanted to do, and increase border security, which clearly is a priority for him. But the President would seem to rather grandstand on the issue than govern and that’s a loss for the country as well as for his political base.
TOOBIN: Well, there hasn’t been a single time in the Trump Presidency when he has done a Nixon to China, when he has done anything, any policy except that that pleases his base. I mean that’s, that’s the bet he’s placing on his Presidency, of being a very hardline conservative and keeping his base happy. But, you know, we’ll see how that works out in the midterms and his re-election.