Fifty Former Republican Cabinet Members Publish Letter Critical of Donald Trump; Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins Does Not



of Donald Trump; Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins Does Not

Endorse Donald Trump; Interview with Evan McMullin. Aired 8-8:30a ET>

[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: -- and from around the world. So let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty former GOP national security officials signing a letter to stop their party's nominee.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is the candidate of the past. Ours is the campaign of the future.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump's policies would throw us into a recession.

CUOMO: New presidential challenger, Evan McMullan, what he could mean to the race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tragedy at a Kansas water park. Something went wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did a young boy die on this world famous waterslide?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lilly King striking gold. Setting a new Olympic record, Ryan Murphy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Day four in Rio. The U.S. women's gymnastics team going for back to back gold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michaels Phelps back in the pool going for his 20th gold medal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, August 9th, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Brianna Keilar and I here for you this morning. And we're talking about Donald Trump's campaign. It was supposed to be in reset mode giving this big economic speech in Detroit. But then this letter comes out from 50 national security heavyweights from his own party. And they say that Donald Trump would be, quote "the most reckless president in U.S. history."

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And it's a move that is coming as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are battling it out on the economy. This morning another blow for Donald Trump as a key Republican senator says that she is not going to back her party's nominee. Our coverage this hour starting with CNN's Jason Carroll. Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, Brianna. You know, Donald Trump says that that open letter is politically motivated. In that letter national security experts say that Trump lacks basic knowledge about U.S. laws and the constitution and that he will weaken the country's moral authority. Trump says he does have the knowledge and temperament to be president, but a number of people within his own party simply do not believe it.


CARROLL: Another prominent Republican coming out this morning against Donald Trump. Maine Senator Susan Collins penning an op-ed in the "Washington Post" explaining why she cannot vote for her party's nominee. "I've become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize." This as 50 Republican national security official warning in an open letter that Trump is unqualified to be commander in chief. The experts who served in Republican administrations from Nixon to George W. Bush labeling Trump as dangerous, reckless, and lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.

MATTHEW WAXMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Our system has produced a candidate who is fundamentally unfit for office.

CARROLL: Trump firing back at those who signed the letter, calling them part of the failed Washington elite who made the world such a dangerous place.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to jump start America. And it can be done. And it won't even be that hard.

CARROLL: The GOP nominee unveiling a new economic plan Monday, hoping to reset his campaign after hitting a rough patch since the convention.

TRUMP: She is the candidate of the past. Ours is the campaign of the future.

CARROLL: Trump is revising his tax plan now, calling for three tax brackets with the highest rate being 33 percent for individuals and capping the corporate tax rate at 15 percent. And in an effort to appeal to working class voters, he hopes to make childcare expenses deductible.

TRUMP: At the center of my plan is trade enforcement with China.

CARROLL: Trump once again called for renegotiating trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership.

TRUMP: A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for TPP.

CARROLL: Wrongly claiming that Hillary Clinton supports it.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants to basically just repackage trickle-down economics.

CARROLL: Clinton slamming Trump's plan, saying there is little in there for the middle class.

CLINTON: Economists left, right, in the middle, all say the same thing, that Trump's policies would throw us into a recession, the last thing we need.


CARROLL: And as for his economic speech, Trump stayed on message despite being interrupted by protesters more than a dozen times. His daughter Ivanka who attended the speech yesterday in Detroit coming to her father's defense. She told the "Detroit Free Press" her father's critics are scared of a Trump presidency, that he is levelheaded, and now is not the time to tell him to alter his approach after he's had so much success. Brianna?

KEILAR: Jason Carroll, thank you.

[08:05:00] And I want to discuss more now with Trump campaign senior adviser and pollster Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne, we are seeing a lot of economists this morning saying there are no real clear benefits for the middle class. Specifically what do you see as the benefits for the middle class in Donald Trump's economic plan?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: There are many benefits for the middle class. And economists can be partisan as well in their ivory towers. Number one, the fully deductible childcare tax credit, that really follows on Ivanka Trump's pledge in her speech in introducing her father at the convention, Brianna, to make child care affordable and accessible for all, a very big issues that really crushes many American families who have to worry about that day in and day out.

Also, if you look at going from seven brackets to three and you look at what those brackets are in this energetic tax plan that he announced today in Detroit, you see that people will be paying less at the margins.

KEILAR: Are those middle class people paying less at the margins? It appears looking at the tax brackets, and also we don't have the income level. That's a little confusing. It doesn't say for those making this much you will now be paying 25 percent instead of 39.6 percent. There are a lot of gaps.

CONWAY: Right, but here's what we know about the current economy. There are 7 million more people in poverty now since President Obama took office. We have over 21 million people in poverty. According to government statistics 94 million people are not working. So those numbers are so devastating that it's easy to identify the problem in his dynamic speech yesterday.

The solutions are to lower the tax rate that's called the corporate tax rate, but basically you're lowering the rate on job creators, on people who can put other people to work. They can start their small businesses, allow them to expand and grow. Entrepreneurship has not done well or the last seven-and-a-half years.

And let me just say this. As Hillary Clinton follows Donald Trump on Thursday in Detroit to lay out her own plan, if what she has in there is so great, why has she been holding out on us for seven and a half years? Why not tell President Obama, hey, here's some good ideas for the economy now? She is in a very tough position because she will talk about the lack of growth. She will talk about the number of people out of work. That is an implicit indictment of the Obama economic record that she wishes to continue.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about some of the criticism that Donald Trump has been getting and to see what you think about it happening now because of the timing. We're hearing now from 50 national security -- a lot of these are former top aides to former President W. Bush, some of them, a number of them cabinet members, and they're really taking aim at Donald Trump. In this open letter it says he is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest all allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander in chief of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. What do you make of this 50 prominent if not household names, pretty prominent Republicans taking aim at him on this?

CONWAY: It's a few dozen folks who I wish would at least step back, Brianna, and say we are presuming he would be dangerous but we certainly know Hillary Clinton already is. She agrees with the Iran nuclear deal. She presided over Benghazi. She was secretary of state when, as Chris said in an earlier segment today, basically the birth and growth of ISIS took hold. We already know how she would perform as commander in chief.

And so there's a great disappointment to someone like me who believes these people are making these conclusions based on what they see and what they read and not having met with him. There are a few people on the list, too, as Mr. Trump noted on a different network this morning, who tried to become part of the campaign and are not part of the campaign. But I believe it's also disappointment for another reason. If you feel like you can help, if you feel like you've got good ideas and you can help, then where were you? Why are you outside writing such a scathing letter if you really care about the nation's security, which is a nonpartisan issue? Why not try to help?

KEILAR: Donald Trump took aim at a number of these folks, saying, OK, you're the architects of Iraq, of the invasion and the attempt at reconstruction afterwards, which if you fact check that, he is correct when it comes to a number of folks who are on this letter. But he also took aim at them. You mentioned Hillary Clinton, you said ISIS, you said Benghazi. He took aim at them on that. I'd s all of them really had nothing to do with that. Is he proving their point by turning around and saying you're responsible for this and your responsible for that, things that they were not involved in?

CONWAY: It's difficult for me to accept that overgeneralization of who was responsible, who wasn't responsible. But I think what he's saying is, this is a binary choice. You're either have Hillary Clinton as your commander in chief or me. And we already know how she would perform. You've gotten a tremendous preview of that.

And the other point I think he's making is that for these folks who are going to have an easier time when they go back to their ivy league college reunions and saying I'm against Donald Trump, then they already have been in positions of power when things didn't go so great.

[08:10:06] You know, Brianna, 81 percent of Americans say they feel less safe now than they did previous. Most of that has happened over the last seven-and-a-half years, but it certainly didn't start then. And I would note there's really little to no coverage of who actually has endorsed Donald Trump. So for example, both of President Bush's former vice presidents, Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle, have endorsed Donald Trump. I'll take two former vice presidents who were there presiding over national security and foreign policy for our nation any day over a few dozen people who I think wrote a very scathing letter.

Even Chris with Congresswoman Dingell earlier asking what is Hillary Clinton's greatest accomplishment? You get the deer in the headlights look. She never stops quitting. She never stops quitting what, running for office? A D.C. resume is not necessarily what the American people want when it comes to the next commander in chief.

KEILAR: You said a lot of people who are not behind Trump are getting attention, and one of the people right now is Susan Collins. If you're looking at senators she's obviously perhaps the most moderate among Republican senators, so maybe not entirely a surprise, but what she said I think the timing of it. In part she said "With the passage of time I have become increasingly displayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize." And she talks about how his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing, she said that that revealed Mr. Trump is unworthy to be our president.

Maybe not surprising that this is Susan Collins, more moderate, but let me ask you about the timing. You have this letter, you have Susan Collins, you have a lot of opposition. Is this in your view a concerted effort to try to take Donald Trump down at this point in time, not too long after the convention and not too far off from the election?

CONWAY: It certainly appears that way. It would be nice if he got the basic minimum Mitt Romney, John McCain treatment when they were nominees. And let me go a step farther, Brianna. Just a couple of days ago, what did Donald Trump do? He endorsed John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, two of Susan Collins' colleagues in the Senate who are up for reelection this time. And he endorsed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who will win his primary today, and I assume as speaker of the house would be working with a President Trump very well.

And so where's the gratitude and frankly the exchange there? When Donald Trump and Mike Pence are endorsing people like Senator McCain and Senator Ayotte, the hope the expectation is they would also get the endorsements and support of members of their own party.

So here it is again where Donald Trump is putting himself out there very generously endorsing publicly last Friday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, two sitting senators, and then to have a Republican senator come back and write an entire op-ed in a very anti-Trump newspaper I think is disappointing.

But look, I think it's healthy for families to have disagreements. I would prefer them to not spill over in public as often as they seem to. But it's good to shed skin. It took a really long time for President Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders to endorse Hillary Clinton. It basically happened last month.

KEILAR: I want you to comment on polls, which you know a thing or two about. We saw a poll yesterday where there was a 10-point spread, our poll, between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Today a Monmouth University poll showing that Hillary Clinton is 13 points up on Donald Trump and she's at 50 percent. He's at 37 percent. He's really been struggling to break that as a ceiling.

CONWAY: It's easy to cherry pick different polls because the Reuters poll over the weekend showed a three-point race and that's an online poll where people feel very comfortable to admit that they're going to vote for Donald Trump just like when they go into the ballot box they'll be doing that. But the fact is that what Mr. Trump lost over the last week or so were many Republican voters, basically from 86 of Republicans to 74 percent of Republicans. They will come back to him. They're basically signaling that they want to see substance and specific policy solutions like they did in his dynamic, energetic speech yesterday in Detroit. Next week you're going to hear more on a different topic, the week after that another topic.

And so people want specifics, they want solutions. Those folks are not going to Hillary Clinton. I also would just point out in all of these polls that he's still doing very well with independents and he's still doing very well with men. The real gender gap this cycle that gets no attention is Hillary Clinton's chronic problem with male voters. She can't seem to break the fever she has with male voters. They distrust her, they dislike her. They don't seem to want her to be commander in chief or president.

KEILAR: She's doing much better with women. We're seeing that cut both ways as well. Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

CONWAY: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, we've got a new contender in the 2016 race, an independent conservative named Evan McMullen. Why is he in the race? What does he say he has that Donald Trump does not? And why is he the man to beat Hillary Clinton? You're going to hear the answers from him, this former CIA operative, next.


CUOMO: All right. We've got a new contender in the 2016 race, an independent conservative named Evan McMullin. Why is he in the race? What does he say he has that Donald Trump does not? And why is he the man to beat Hillary Clinton?

You're going to hear the answers from him, this former CIA operative, next.


[08:18:40] CUOMO: There is a new challenger in the 2016 presidential race. And while he was unknown to many before yesterday, he could shake up the election. His name is Evan McMullin. He's a former congressional aide and a CIA operative. He's running as an independent conservative, joins us.

Welcome to the jungle, as I just said to you before we went.


CUOMO: First, let's start with the possibilities and then the probabilities. Possible to get on the ballot in all 50 states at this point in the election? How?

MCMULLIN: Absolutely it is.

A lot of people misunderstand the process. There are a multitude of ways to get on ballots in the United States. We're pursuing all of them. And I've got a great team that's spent a lot of time studying this, months studying this, and preparing.

They will -- we will on a broad number of state ballots across the country. We hope to be on all 50, in fact.

CUOMO: What is your goal? Do you see yourself as having a chance to win? Or are you a salvo from the right against Donald Trump?

MCMULLIN: Absolutely not. We are in this to win this. We are going to fight and scrap and claw all the way to the end.

CUOMO: But you could help Hillary Clinton just by your mere existence. This is something that every this party person has to deal with it and, certainly, this has been a big part of the ambivalence within your party, within the GOP has been -- you know, what do we do to make our point about Trump without helping Hillary Clinton?

[08:20:06] How do you balance that?

MCMULLIN: Well, look, I would just say this -- Donald Trump is already losing to Hillary Clinton. I just entered this race yesterday. He's doing very badly.

Trump is weak. Trump is a weak candidate. And he is losing badly against one of the most unfit Democratic candidates to appear before the American people in quite some time.

So, Donald Trump is responsible for Hillary's success. And I believe that Donald Trump is ensuring that Hillary Clinton take the White House.

So, I'm -- what I'm doing is I'm trying to offer the American people something they can vote for as opposed to voting against. Everybody now seems to be looking for something else, looking for another option. And that's what we hope to offer, something -- an option of new leadership, leadership that unites the country, leadership that has a history of putting the country before personal interests, which I don't think either of the two major party candidates do.

CUOMO: So, tell us about Evan McMullin. Who are you?

MCMULLIN: Well, as you pointed out in the intro, I'm a former central intelligence operations officer. I have served -- worked in the private sector as well, and then led policy initiatives for the House Republicans over the last couple of years.

CUOMO: Family situation? We know you're from Utah. That becomes relevant also, you being in the race. Could that wind up affecting those eight delegates they have coming out of Utah? Tell us about that.

MCMULLIN: I was born in Utah. I went to school at Brigham Young University. I was raised in an area outside of Seattle, Washington.

CUOMO: You're Mormon?

MCMULLIN: I am Mormon, absolutely. Yes. I'm excited. Our headquarters will be based in Utah. There are a lot of people there. Utah handed Trump his largest defeat.

There are a lot of people there who are highly dissatisfied with the options they have in this election. Like American elsewhere. That's not just a Utah thing. That's an American thing. You look at the negatives for both of these candidates.

CUOMO: Never seen anything like it.

MCMULLIN: Absolutely. That's right.

CUOMO: You don't have to be an analyst to know that.

So, you say you want to give people something to vote for.

MCMULLIN: That's right.

CUOMO: You have not been in elected office. You have worked with the Congress. What are you offering?

MCMULLIN: Well, I'll say this, it used to be that our leaders weren't career politicians. It used to be that they served from time to time and otherwise they returned to their own work outside of government. I'm a big believer in that. No, I haven't served in elected office before. But that's because I've been busy doing things that have given me the knowledge and the skill set to answer some of the country's biggest challenges from day one. So that's why I'm running.

I had hoped that someone else with national name I.D. would step forward months and months ago. When that didn't happen and realizing that I had the knowledge and skill set to do just that, to help us face some major challenges we face, I had to get off the sidelines and enter the race.

CUOMO: Do you believe you could be president of the United States?

MCMULLIN: I believe I could be. The team will fight for that. We're going to rally the support of millions of Americans who are deeply dissatisfied with the government. They believe they're not being heard by this government. Hillary Clinton and they see somebody who believes she's unaccountable to the American people.

They look at Donald Trump and they see someone who wants to divide us and weaken us in order to empower himself. This is not the kind of leadership -- this is not American leadership, period.

CUOMO: What do you say to those people who are angry, who don't like the status quo, who believe anybody who comes out of that system is going to be part of that system? What do you say to them that makes you better than Trump?

MCMULLLIN: I say come join us. Go to, see where you can help out, see where you can get involved. Be a part of this.

We think this will be a national movement. If yesterday's response to what we're doing is any indication, it will be. People are being rallied around the country to support us. And I think we're gaining fast, powerful traction.

CUOMO: What's your idea, though? What's the message of your campaign?

MCMULLIN: The message of my campaign is one of unification of the American people. There's too much partisan bickering and division in our country that I think both of these candidates seek to exploit for their own purposes. That's not what make America strong.

As a former CIA operative I can tell you -- it is a fact. If we had more time I could tell you why this is the case. When America is divided, America is weaker from a national security perspective and from a prosperity perspective. We need to unify as a country and that's what I'm about.

CUOMO: What do you think is the single biggest thing you would achieve as president of the United States?

MCMULLIN: Well, I would say there are a few things. We need to defeat ISIS and Islamist terrorism. We have to do that. I know how to do that. It's not a mystery. CUOMO: But as an CIA operative you know when people say defeat ISIS, like some standing army or sovereign, it isn't, right?

[08:25:05] It's an out growth of an ideology that's born of a desperation that you have to address, in the underlying ways. I mean, we've got those results from CIA all the time. So, how do you do that?

MCMULLIN: Well, that's such a true observation, Chris, and something that many people don't understand. We do need to take the fight to them on the battlefield, but we also have to combat the ideology. In the Cold War, for example, we were much more effective at combating the idea of communism. We're terrible at that with regard to Islamist extremism and terrorism.

We need to be much more about that. This ultimately is a battle of ideas actually as you point out. And we've got to be better at that.

CUOMO: Evan McMullin, you're late into the game. But NEW DAY is a forum for the voters. You are welcome back on this show to talk about what matters to this election.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: That's our pledge.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you for joining us. Good luck.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Certainly the country needs options that are good for them.

MCMULLIN: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Appreciate you being here.


KEILAR: Chris, there are some new details that are surfacing this morning in the death of a 10-year-old boy on a water slide in Kansas. Is the state in part to blame? We will dig deeper, next.


(Byline: Chris Cuomo, Brianna Keilar, Jason Carroll)

(Guest: Kellyanne Conway, Evan McMullin )

(High: Fifty former Republican cabinet members publish a letter critical of Donald Trump. Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins does not endorse Donald Trump for president. Interview with Evan McMullin )

(Spec: Politics; Elections; Donald Trump; Government; Susan Collins; Evan McMullin)