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Trump Considers Pardoning Arpaio; Which Hot-Button Issue Will Trump Unleash at Arizona Campaign-Style Rally; Navy Confirms Some Remains Found of 10 Missing U.S. Sailors; Treasury Secretary's Wife Flaunts Luxury Goods, Slams Critics. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired August 22, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:11] CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Just minutes from now, President Trump leaves the White House bound for Arizona. He's headlining a campaign-style rally in Phoenix. And political minds all want to know what hot-button controversy the president might unleash today. An endorsement for a rival of Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who has been blasted by Trump lately, or hard-hitting rhetoric on the border wall during the stop in Yuma, or a controversial pardon for Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, who the president has been considering pardoning. Arpaio was found guilty of contempt in a racial profiling case in July.
CNN's Sara Sidner has the back story.
JOE ARPAIO, FORMER MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF: I'm always optimistic.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America is now a convicted criminal. 85-year-old former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, faces possible jail time and a fine after being convicted in federal court of criminal contempt, a misdemeanor.
ARPAIO: This is all a conspiracy.
SIDNER: The case against Arpaio and the department's behavior began in 2007. A class action lawsuit accused him of implementing a policy of racial profiling and unlawful traffic stops of Latinos. Arpaio was sued, accused of encouraging his deputies to detain people for no other reason than they were suspected of being in the country illegally. Known for his tough speech, his department's workplace raids, the tent city where inmates were housed, and the pink underwear he made inmates wear. Arpaio argued his department were simply enforcing the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARPAIO: I'm the elected sheriff. I report directly to the people. I'm not going to subservient to the federal government when they have come up with no proof.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: But Arpaio lost his argument in the civil lawsuit.
In 2013, a federal judge put an injunction in place, ordering the department to halt unconstitutional police practices. According to prosecutors and a judge, Arpaio and his deputies defied the order. Arpaio claimed that the order wasn't clear and he didn't mean to violate it. But a federal judge found Arpaio showed a "flagrant disregard" for the court order.
His critics cheered the decision.
MARY ROSE WILCOX, FORMER MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Racism in any form is wrong. And Joe Arpaio, again, has been the center of racist policies and racist attitudes and he has been criminally convicted.
SIDNER: From the start, in 1999, when Sheriff Joe Arpaio was elected to office, he began a crusade against undocumented immigrants. His deputies' actions terrified not only the undocumented but anyone who looked like they could be.
ARPAIO: Donald Trump will build the wall.
SIDNER: Arpaio's fiery speech on immigration policies gave him a kind of celebrity status in conservative circles and a kinship with the man who would become the 45th president. Arpaio jumped on the Trump train long before his presidential run, supporting the Birther lie about President Obama.
SIDNER: For his part, President Donald Trump supported Arpaio's crusade against undocumented immigrants. Now, when he really needs it, Arpaio may get the best show of support ever from President Trump, a pardon.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.
WARD: Thanks to Sara Sidner for that report.
With racial tensions already inflamed by President Trump's remarks last week, he will visit the Arizona border with Mexico, and almost certainly rally his base with familiar themes on illegal immigration. Half a dozen protests are planned. And even members of his own party are squeamish over the potential backlash.
Let's bring back the panel to discuss this.
Karoun, I want to start with you.
This idea that last night we had Teleprompter Trump and the reviews were pretty good. They were positive. Doesn't he want to hold on to this moment, enjoy the good will that his words may have engendered, rather than rolling the dice tonight with Trump unplugged again? KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: If he
wants to, this is not the most conducive environment for him to head into. He is going into a place where he is used as a backdrop to have some of the most-fiery moments of his campaign to talk about -- he will talk about immigration, almost invariably. That is one of the most-fiery issues in terms of how much discord there is between Republicans and Democrats and even within the parties about what should be done, especially when talking about the border wall. He's picked a fight, already, with so many people in Arizona. He picked a fight with both sitting Senators. He brings up John McCain's health care vote. He endorsed Jeff Flake's primary opponent. This is not an environment of unity. The message he tried to establish last night, we have to love each other and work together. Arizona is one of the most -- one of the most not unified places because of the positions Trump has taken against his political rivals and because of the issues that come up when he goes there. So, if he's going to have a message of community, it will be interesting how he does it.
[11:35:13] WARD: There's a lot of potential pitfalls.
WARD: Patrick, you heard Karoun mentioning Senator Flake, who President Trump calls Flake the Flake. I mean, what do you expect to hear from the president today in Arizona? Are we going to hear, potentially, an endorsement of Kelly Ward, who is challenging Senator Flake?
PATRICK GRIFFIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that's the thing. We don't know which Trump, literally, will show up tonight. What we think in politics and the campaigns and the politicians I have advised over the years, these are people who take it in. They can read a crowd pretty well. They can read the reaction of advisers. This president reads the press. We know that. You would think the president would come away from the generally good remarks and the marks he's gotten on style and substance and presentation from last night and kind of keep that going for a couple days. As Kris said, that has not been the tendency of Donald Trump. So the question is, Donald Trump unplugged from the Teleprompter tonight, and the guy who occasionally participates in what I would call political crowd surfing is not the same guy we saw last night. That could be a problem. What he does tonight is going to say a lot about where he goes from here in terms of the momentum.
Look, the reset for the left is always, as I said before, Trump is a racist. I'm not sure that is credible. But tonight, the president has the opportunity to do the right thing. Leave Senator McCain and Senator Flake alone. Make sure you get out there and at least act like a president. We'll see. That's a test. I'd be surprised if he could do it two nights in a row.
WARD: Chris, what do you think there? Obviously, the other hot- button issue a lot of people in Arizona will want to hear about is the famous promised wall. Will Mexico pay for it? When it is going to be constructed? How does President Trump handle this? CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: What is
remarkable, Clarissa is that a proposal to build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it is the least controversial thing Trump can say tonight, only because he said it so many times before.
The attacks on Senators McCain and Flake, I think would be more problematic if he happened to -- and who knows with him -- if he happens to bring up the Cleveland Browns and the number of their members of their team kneeling last night during the national anthem before the Giants game. There's a lot of places that he could go that are problematic.
In some ways, the most Trumpian thing to do, which is take conventionalism and turn it on its head, is to pardon Joe Arpaio at this event. Because, to Patrick's point, it would take a guy, who no matter what you think of Joe Arpaio, deeply controversial over his long-time six terms as Maricopa County sheriff, and thrust him into the spotlight and have Donald Trump saying this is my guy, I'm going to pardon him. That coming after Charlottesville and then wedging in- between what he did last night, which did him some good, that's Trump in a lot of ways. One step forward, two steps back.
CILLIZZA: He's so unpredictable, it makes it very difficult for us to predict and for Republican politicians to make a gamble on what Trump did yesterday being predictable and what he'll to today or tonight or tomorrow or a week from now.
WARD: Keith, touching on the Arpaio issue, would it be a surprise if he pardoned him? Presidents do this. Presidents pardon controversial people. Look at President Clinton with Marc Rich. Should anyone be surprised if he pardons Arpaio?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLTIICAL COMMENTATOR: No one should be surprised by anything Donald Trump does, period. You have Patrick Griffin, a Republican, defending Trump by saying, who knows which Donald Trump will show up tonight. That's the strongest defense the Republicans can mount in favor of the president of the United States? They don't know who he is themselves. This is just astounding we are in this position.
Joe Arpaio is one of the most divisive law enforcement officers in the county. I went to the Maricopa County Web site today, the sheriff's office, to look it. The two words that stand out on the top of the Web site are "accountability" and -- god, I forgot the second word. Accountability is the important one though. We don't have accountability from Joe Arpaio right now. The idea you can flout a federal court, flout a federal court order and then pardoned for that, that's different by levels of degree from somebody involved in a white-collar crime. I think it's a terrible precedent and it wouldn't be at all surprising.
WARD: Usually, president's do not call rallies to pardon somebody.
DEMIRJIAN: Right --
BOYKIN: This president will do that, though.
# And his rally is already extraordinary, a campaign rally when we're three and a half years away from the election.
[11:40:00] BOYKIN: Not his first time doing it.
WARD: And not his first time doing it.
All right, a lot to talk about and think about. A lot of wild cards.
Keith Boykin, Patrick Griffin, Karoun Demirjian and Chris Cillizza, thank you so much for joining me.
GRIFFIN: Thank you.
[11:40:12] WARD: Coming up after the break, the wife of the president's Treasury secretary under fire after flashing her luxury goods on Instagram and unleashing on a woman who criticized her. She deleted the post, but we have it. That's coming up.
WARD: There is breaking news in the search for 10 missing U.S. sailors. The Navy now confirms that some remains have been found aboard the "USS John McCain" and perhaps at sea. This is one day after the guided missile destroyer collided with a huge oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.
CNN international correspondent, Matt Rivers, is in Singapore with the latest.
Matt, what are you learning about the search?
[11:45:17] MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is ongoing but, unfortunately, it's come up with very tragic results, Clarissa. We just came back a few hours ago from a press conference with the commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet. He confirmed they have found the remains of -- they have found remains within the damaged ship.
Let's show you a little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. SCOTT SWIFT, COMMANDER, U.S. PACIFIC FLEET: The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today. Additionally, the Malaysian Navy has reported they have located potential remains. They are working to confirm and identify those remains.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: So, just to clarify a bit there, when he's talking about those compartments, divers from another U.S. Navy ship that had been in the area worked on the "USS John S. McCain" all day today trying to get into the sealed compartments that were sealed as a result of the flooding that occurred because of the accident that took place. That's where they found some of the remains. And the Malaysian Navy, for its part, has been helping in this search and actually found a body in some of the waters near where this incident took place. That body in the process of being transferred back to the U.S. Navy for identification.
They are still calling it a search and rescue. The admiral, though, was candid in remarks, saying while he is hopeful survivors will be found, as each hour goes by, the odds become slimmer and slimmer -- Clarissa?
WARD: A tragic story, Matt. This is the fourth major incident involving Navy ships this year. Is the Navy saying anything about the potential cause of this?
RIVERS: Well, they are not speculating on the cause as of yet. A U.S. Navy official told CNN the steering on the ship appears to have failed just before this incident happened. But it's not clear if that is the cause of this. But you're right, this didn't happen in a vacuum. There have been numerous incidences they are trying to figure out if these are systemic problems.
WARD: Matt Rivers, in Singapore, thank you for joining us.
Coming up after the break, she is not the first woman to brag about luxury items online and publicly attack a critic, but it's not every day that woman is the wife of the president's Treasury secretary. The stunning Instagram that sparked an online fiery storm. That's next.
[11:52:08] WARD: "Adorably out of touch," those words coming from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, in an all-out Instagram tirade to one of her critics. The Scottish actress posted this photo when she and Mnuchin landed from a Kentucky day trip. You may notice the plethora of hashtags touting designers the secretary's wife is wearing, Tom Ford, Valentino to name a few. A critic blasted Linton in a comment saying, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway, #deplorable." That sent Linton into a full-blown rage.
I want to bring in CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett.
Kate, what did Louise have to say?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, she really went off on this -- the comment on her Instagram page, sort of touting, well, questioning whether this woman paid as much in taxes as she and her husband do, whether she's made the personal sacrifices she and her husband have, and donated, contributed more to the economy, with all these emojis and hashtags. She commented, oh, you look like you have a cute life, cute kids. It was very somewhat aggressive, considering Linton herself opened herself up a bit for these comments. Her Instagram, as of last night, when she posted this, was public. So when she posted the picture, exiting a government plane, tagging designers like Tom Ford and Hermes, and her husband, in that post, it came across as flaunting a wealthy lifestyle.
CNN has heard from a spokesperson, a source of the Treasury Department saying the Mnuchins are going to reimburse the government for Mrs. Linton's travel and that she's not compensated in any way for tagging those designers. However, the damage in the brief time the post was up seems to have been done.
WARD: Because you can't use a word like "sacrifice," you know, on the same night that the president is making a speech about Afghanistan and people who have died in the line of duty, and not expect some kind of a reaction to that.
But let me ask you, because you actually spoke to the woman who commented on Linton's post in the first place. What did she say?
BENNETT: So Ms. Miller said that, you know, she wanted to just put in perspective that this was the couple returning from Kentucky, which is a state that struggles with poverty. She says here, "One in five people live in poverty. Children might not know where their next meal is coming from." They were there for the day discussing tax reform and to visit Fort Knox. Ms. Miller was basically saying she was offended and that this was an inappropriate way to express something coming from a government official, whether she's his wife or not. There's still a government plane involved. And she was expressing her frustration. I think was very surprised from the response she got from Ms. Linton.
[11:55:02] WARD: I can imagine a lot of frustration. And it will be interesting to see if we hear much more out of Louise Linton.
Kate Bennett, thank you so much for that report.
Well, any moment now, President Trump will take off for a campaign- style rally. You're actually looking live at pictures from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The president is going to be traveling to Arizona. But will he stay on message after calling for unity in last night's address, or will he re-ignite the controversy that surrounded his response to Charlottesville?
CNN's live coverage continues ahead.
[11:59:53] MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Manu Raju. John King is off.
President Trump getting ready to jet off to Arizona. His business there tonight, a campaign-style rally. But last night, the venue, very different, a military base for a new military policy to win America's longest war. What's clear, relaxed rules for commanders, a direct challenge to --