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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Repeats Threat of Government Shutdown; Trump in Tampa to Campaign for Staunch Supporter; Several States Suing Trump administration to Block 3-D Printed Guns; LeBron James Opens New School in His Hometown; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 31, 2018 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- Thune said. It's a negotiating tactic. Shortly after the president made his remarks yesterday --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- Mitch McConnell came to the floor, and said, we will fund government in a timely and orderly manner. And then you had Senator John Kennedy, generally a supporter of the president.

HARLOW: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: I'm kind of a big believer in hitting things head on. And if the president wants to shut down the government, you know, that's his prerogative. I don't -- I think it would be a mistake. And I don't think it's going to be necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: That's pretty much repeated by everybody. And it shows you where they are. I think the big question right now on Capitol Hill is how serious is he.

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: You can think back to health care or tax reform. The president diverging from the strategy is not necessarily a rarity on the legislative front. But whether or not he's willing to hold on to that and really make a fight out of this is still another question.

HARLOW: Is he willing to possibly lose the House over it?

MATTINGLY: That is the concern. I'll tell you something that's happened over the last couple of weeks, that we've heard more and more of, and that is, is the White House willing to sacrifice the House because the president wants a punching bag coming into the 2020 election?

HARLOW: Exactly. MATTINGLY: Right? There's this idea of it will be better to run

against Congress, it would be better to run against House Democrats. Now I haven't heard that from the White House. I know Republicans are just concerned sometimes and frankly when things are quiet, they get concerned. But there's kind of relevance to the idea because it worked, say, for Bill Clinton at one point in time.

I think the reality right now is behind the scenes, when I talk to Republican staffers on the Hill. They're hearing from the White House that the strategy still stands, the president will be with them in the end. They're willing to have the fight after the election. But the concern right now is real.

HARLOW: And there was no timeline on that Trump tweet a few days ago threatening the shutdown. And you know this is going to be a fight. You know, and they're ready for it. A fight they'll have in, say, December. But if it were to happen before the midterms, he would put the Kavanaugh hearings all up in the air.

MATTINGLY: This is a huge point right now and a point that I'm told was made by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office to the president in a private meeting last week, which is essentially Republicans feel good about where they are in the Kavanaugh nomination right now. Obviously a lot of time to go, but they feel like they can get him confirmed. That confirmation would happen at the end of September, when a government shutdown would occur. They don't want to step on that message, they don't want to step on that message, they don't want to step on a confirmation. So just push it off. McConnell thought Trump heard him at the time.

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: They still do. We'll see.

HARLOW: Your sources telling you, just take a win here.

MATTINGLY: Yes.

HARLOW: Just take a win on this one.

MATTINGLY: Exactly.

HARLOW: Thank you. Nice to have you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: All right. Tonight, President Trump heads to Tampa, Florida. He will campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate who according to "The New York Times" the president decided to support after he saw him defend the Trump agenda on FOX News. The president tweeted this morning, "Congressman Ron DeSantis will be a great governor," that is if he wins. He's embraced all things Trump during the primary race. Here's part of his latest political ad that certainly got a lot of people talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CASEY DESANTIS, REPRESENTATIVE RON DESANTIS' WIFE: He is teaching Madison to talk.

REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Make America great again.

C. DESANTIS: People say Ron is all Trump. But he is so much more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: And joining me now is the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Al Cardenas.

Nice to have you. Thanks for being with me.

AL CARDENAS, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: My pleasure. Good to be with you.

HARLOW: Let's talk about this because you have -- you know, his primary challenger, Republican Putnam, who the vice president was supporting, who was way ahead in fundraising, who was way ahead in the polling, until DeSantis started going on FOX News over and over again. The president, according to the "New York Times" reporting this morning, saw him on FOX News, tweeted about him and has been supportive of him ever since. And the table has turned here. Has the president been a kingmaker in Florida on this one?

CARDENAS: So far apparently so. I mean, Ron DeSantis was 20 points behind, very few people knew him. And between FOX News and some of their personalities and the president and his tweets and commentary, I mean, he's gained more than 30 points without spending a lot of money in a period of less than a month. That's -- we don't see that in Florida. And so that's a demonstrable strength. It's a weird race. Republicans have had -- you know, Republican governors for 20 years in Florida. Every state-wide elected officials are Republican. But the president has a minus three favorability rating in the state, although he's doing pretty well within the Republican Party, so --

HARLOW: Right.

CARDENAS: You know, this is a high-risk deal for the president. You know --

HARLOW: Well, let me read you what -- let me read you how "The New York Times" puts it this morning and get your take. Quote, "Mr. Putnam's collapse and Mr. DeSantis' rise illustrate the extraordinary clout Mr. Trump now wields in his adopted party. A power so great that the president is effectively able to decide primaries with a single tweet."

If that's the case in Florida, do you think that nationally or is this a one-off?

CARDENAS: I think nationally, in primaries that's the case. We'll see in the general election. Some states he's liked. Some states he's not. In Florida, he is under water right now. And just think about this. If Republicans can't win the presidency unless they win Florida. 2020 is coming up next. And if for some reason the Democrat wins general election and some of it is attributed to the embrace of the president, he is going to have a hard time in his re-elect in Florida in 2020. So he's going out on a limb in what I consider would be a pretty high-risk deal.

[10:35:12] HARLOW: So tonight he speaks in Tampa, which actually went by just a few percentage points for Hillary Clinton, that part of Florida in the 2016 election. You think he is not going to talk about immigration, right?

CARDENAS: You know, you never know with the president. In a state as diverse as Florida, you would think boy, that's bad politics. But remember we're talking about the primary, not the general election. Immigration moves points in Florida. He may touch upon it. I think, you know, if he sticks to a script, it's going to be about the economy, jobs. Florida has gained a lot of jobs. It's going to be about how well the thing is doing. And he may be a little rough on what's going on with dictatorships in Latin American and Nicaragua and Venezuela because of the significant Hispanic population.

HARLOW: Right.

CARDENAS: If he touches on immigration, it's a primary play, but it's not going to help the party in the general election.

HARLOW: Before you go, I mean, come November, you know that Trump will obviously affect the turnout up and down the ticket.

CARDENAS: Right.

HARLOW: But who -- which party do you think it will help more, Republicans or Democrats, in the state?

CARDENAS: Yes, that's the big question. Right? I mean, look, we've got a Senate race where Rick Scott is ahead three points right now. We've got a governor's race that's got a tough primary on both sides. But my sense is, it's going to go down to the wire. Probably the top of the ticket races will be won or lost by turnout. And, you know, he cuts both ways. He gets excited the Republican base. But the Democrats go crazy when he speaks. And so who is going to win the turnout battle in Florida will determine who wins these state-wide races.

HARLOW: Al Cardenas, thanks for being with me this morning.

CARDENAS: OK.

HARLOW: All right. Today, an all-out push for some states and lawmakers to stop people from being able to download and print a gun. Seriously. This becomes legal tomorrow. Will it be stopped? We will explain ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:43] HARLOW: Starting tomorrow morning, it will be legal to print your own gun including assault-style rifles like the AR-15. But a coalition of attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia are working to try to stop that. They're hoping for an emergency injunction. Even the president just weighed in on Twitter. Here's what he writes, "I am looking into 3-D plastic guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to the NRA. Doesn't seem to make much sense."

Let's go to Tom Foreman. He joins me from Washington. So this -- I mean, apparently, according to our reporting, some of these plans have already made it online. And some folks are already downloading them. What will be legal tomorrow? And what is the big picture impact?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big picture -- those are really two important questions. What's legal tomorrow is you can download the plans. That's what the argument is. And theoretically if you have purchased a high enough level 3-D printer, you can create a lot of components for guns or you can create in one case, like a single shotgun, you might be able to create that one right there, the entire gun. But that's a single-shot gun that doesn't really have much durability, that's for sure. So that's what's possible.

Now the reality of it is, though, to create these things, you are going to have to spend several thousand dollars at least on the type of printer that would be able to create the parts and put such a gun together. So in practical terms, it is still wildly more efficient and effective for criminals and terrorists and anybody else to simply go buy guns, either on a legal market or on the black market. They can get them much better there and they're much more reliable weapons than anything we're talking about here -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Can you give us the background on this, Tom? Because as I understand it, this stems from a case back in 2013. And this is an agreement -- a settlement that was finally reached between, you know, the man who initially came up with this and wanted to be allowed to do it legally and the Trump administration.

FOREMAN: Yes, and that's this -- was really centered around this single shot plastic gun.

HARLOW: Right.

FOREMAN: And again, it's important not to conflate things here. That gun is truly made entirely of plastic, except for a metal plate that is put into it just to conform with the law that says there has to be some metal in guns so they can be detected. But this is to be a functional part of this gun. That's really what this was all about initially. The idea that this gun was out there and this gun is scary because the idea is it could get through a metal detector and not be seen. A very limited gun. These others, though, as you can see, involve metal parts. That's much more complicated. Still, the idea that people could start producing unregistered guns or untraceable guns in their garage, that's a big challenge. And that's what people are feared about, more fearful of the future actually than what's happening at the moment.

HARLOW: Right. Like an AR-15. Thank you, Tom. We appreciate the reporting. Ahead for us, LeBron James sitting down with our Don Lemon. As he

takes his talent to the West Coast, he is leaving something behind for his hometown, for the children there. Next, what that is. And also what he says could make him run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Do you -- would you ever run for office?

LEBRON JAMES, FOUR-TIME NBA MVP: Run for office?

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Would you ever run -- would you ever be a politician?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:49:17] HARLOW: King James for president? LeBron James is not completely ruling it out. And he says one troubling thing the current president has done was changed the way that sports are perceived in America. Listen to this interview with Don Lemon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES: And what I noticed over the last few months, that he's kind of used sport to kind of divide us and that's something that I can't relate to because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white. You know? And I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them. And they got an opportunity to learn about me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Our Don Lemon spoke to James. Long, fascinating sit-down interview about what he is doing in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, teaming up with the public school system there to create an elementary school helping support and work with average children.

[10:50:06] Don joins me now. I am so glad --

LEMON: The faces on those kids. Did you see them?

HARLOW: They're --

LEMON: We walked into the classroom. They had no idea he was coming. And they -- one little girl, she shrank down on her seat. She was like, oh, my gosh. Her eyes got huge. And she couldn't even speak. They were so excited to see him. And they didn't -- they don't care what color he is or -- they just love him. That's it.

HARLOW: I'm so glad you did this. And so glad he is doing this. I have been reading about this for years.

LEMON: Right. HARLOW: Promise and what he is doing. And it's not just money. He

is throwing his heart into this. So before we get into the politics and what he said about race, let's just talk about this school.

LEMON: OK.

HARLOW: And let's listen for a minute, guys. Let's cue up that sound where, Don, you talk to him about why he is doing this for the kids of Akron.

LEMON: OK.

HARLOW: Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you hope happens from this school? Because I got to tell you, I walked through. I am impressed. Everybody is impressed. This is a great thing you're doing. What do you want to happen? What do you want this to go from here?

JAMES: What I want to happen, every kid that walked through those doors, every kid, you know, from the 240 that we're starting with right now, third to fourth grade to the 2022 where we don't have first through eighth grade, we want every kid to be walk through this school to be inspired, to come away with something, something where they can give back. And it could be anything, but just for kids in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Not only does someone cares, someone is doing something, not just for the kids, for the whole family.

LEMON: Well, this -- it's a holistic approach. I mean, of course it's a STEM school, where, you know, they talk about mathematics, right? Engineering, science and so on, technology. So it's a STEM school. But it's also holistic because it's for the whole family. If the parents don't have a GED or don't have a high school diploma they can go there and they can get one as well. So they're part of it. They have two meals and a snack a day. They're -- it's from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. so it's longer hours. Every kid who lives more than two miles away, gets free transportation.

HARLOW: Wow.

LEMON: If you look every kid gets a bicycle and a helmet so they can transport themselves to and from school if they need to or because bicycles were so important to him. It's a real holistic approach.

HARLOW: Incredible. You also spoke to him about what's going on in the country right now.

LEMON: I did.

HARLOW: About the president, about race, about the divided country. So let's listen to part of that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There's been -- something has changed in you over the last year or two. Is it what's going on in the country racially? Is it political?

JAMES: I think it's a little bit of everything. I think it starts with the Trayvon Martin situation. You know, and the reason it starts with that, I believe, is because having kids of my own, having boys of my own, it hit home for me to see and to learn a story and to think that if my boy left home and he never returned.

LEMON: Right.

JAMES: You know, that kind of -- that kind of hit a switch.

LEMON: Right.

JAMES: That kind of hit a switch for me. And from that point on, I knew that my voice and my platform had to be used for more than just sports.

LEMON: You think it's harder to be -- when you see these incidents of just by people living, just being black.

JAMES: Yes.

LEMON: And what happened to your house and all that, do you think it's harder now? Or you think it's always been there, we're just seeing it because of cellphones and --

JAMES: No, I think it's always been there. But I think the president in charge now has given people -- they don't care now. They throw it in your face now.

LEMON: Do you -- would you ever run for office?

JAMES: Run for office?

LEMON: Would you ever run -- would you ever be a politician and run for office?

JAMES: I don't think so. I don't think so. I sit here and say I don't think so. I don't know.

LEMON: I'm being serious. If someone tried to recruit a LeBron to run for president, they said, listen, they've got no one, if you don't run, Trump is going to win, would you run?

JAMES: Well, in that case, I may. Yes. If they have no one, I believe -- I mean, I believe there is some people out there, I hope.

LEMON: But if there's no one.

JAMES: Let's see -- let's see first. Let's see first. (LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: I mean, you guys are laughing but you don't think it's --

LEMON: I think you would. I think you had to. I think that he -- it's become so important to him. He is so outraged and rightfully so. Concerned I should say is a better word about what's happening in this country when it comes to race. We sit here on television and we -- you have to discuss it. Well, let's hear this side, let's hear that side. There's no other side. There's no other side to racism. There's no other side to saying that there are -- you know, there are good people or fine people on both sides in Charlottesville. It's absurdity.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: And we -- it's the theater of the absurd. And I commend him for speaking out and not being concerned as a celebrity.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: I'm going to lose this demographic or tick this group off.

HARLOW: I'm so glad you say that because there are celebrities and athletes who say, this is my job. I'm doing my job. But I don't have a responsibility. And like, I don't need to be the role model for every kid and I don't need to speak out on these social issues. He feels so differently.

LEMON: Yes. Well, he feels that he has a unique position. And I asked him about this. He said, this is how I feel about this school. This is how I feel about what's happening in the country.

[10:55:03] Other people can do what they want. But I do think to a certain extent that anyone who has a platform, anyone who makes a livelihood off of the public has the responsibility to give back and to speak out for what's right and what's wrong. It has nothing to do with ideology. It's not about right and left. It's about right and wrong. And when wrong has happened in the past in this country or in other places, and people didn't speak out, we see the atrocities that come from that. So in your time, I think it's incumbent upon people to do so, even journalists, even athletes. And I think LeBron James sees that and knows that.

HARLOW: It's a fascinating interview. People didn't see it all last night on your show, where can they go?

LEMON: They can go to CNN.com. Of course.

HARLOW: All there.

LEMON: Yes. Or check out social media and "CNN TONIGHT."

HARLOW: Thank you, my friend. LEMON: It's so good to see you.

HARLOW: Great interview.

LEMON: You know, up early.

HARLOW: I know. We're usually here at opposite hours.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Easy watching you like --

HARLOW: Thank you. Thank you, Don. Appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thank you all for being with me today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)