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Trump Tweets About Iran and a GOP Congressman; Trump Weighs in on Abortion Issue; Senator Kamala Harris Holds Campaign Rally in Los Angeles; Migrants Won't Be Flown to Two Florida Counties. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 19, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:01:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks so much for being here.

We have this just into CNN. President Trump aiming a sudden and strong warning at Iran with very bold language and really no context. The president tweeting a lot today, as he tends to do on weekends with no public White House events. Tweeting about his unfair treatment in the media and calling a Republican congressman schoolyard names for suggesting impeachment proceedings. And then these words just a short time ago. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again."

Tensions have risen lately with the U.S. accusing Tehran of putting missiles on ships offshore. The U.S. responding by sending an aircraft carrier group to the region. Iran's Foreign minister has also been trolling President Trump on Twitter in recent days.

Now this is not the only time President Trump has warned or outright threatened Iran. He wrote this last July. And I won't read it all but it's in capital letters, uses much of the same language and tone as his warning today. Quote, "Never, ever threaten the United States again."

CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House. Boris, judging by his Twitter feed, the president has a mixed bag of things on his mind today. Did anything foreshadow this very strong warning to Iran today and do we know what specifically triggered it?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we've asked officials on the National Security Council about the circumstances behind the president's tweet about Iran. They have declined to comment, though we should point out as you showed there in that tweet the president has not been shy about using inflammatory rhetoric regarding nations that have difficult relations with the United States, notably not just Iran, but previously North Korea until relations seemed to warm up a bit between the two.

We should point out the president also tweeted about Congressman Justin Amash, as you mentioned. He is the first Republican to suggest that some of the actions by President Trump described in the Mueller report are impeachable. The president tweeting out to him, calling him a loser. Certainly Democrats don't feel that way, including Senator Elizabeth

Warren. Obviously she is running for president. And she defended Justin Amash today on the campaign trail. Listen to more of what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Congressman Amash made the point in his statement that he felt uneasy about this fundamental question about who we owe our loyalty to. And on this I could not be stronger. I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. There is no exception in that oath for political inconvenience. Everyone, everyone in this country is subject to the rule of law. That includes the president of the United States.

I believe we need to bring this impeachment action, and we need to have every member of Congress vote on it and live with that vote for the rest of their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now so far, Ana, the most prominent Republican to talk about Justin Amash's statement last night on Twitter is Republican Senator Mitt Romney. He says that he respects Justin Amash but he disagrees about whether the actions by President Trump are impeachable. I should point out the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Rhonda McDaniel, put out a statement saying that Justin Amash is sad and that he is parroting Democratic talking points -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Boris Sanchez, at the White House. Thank you.

Joining us now is President Nixon's former White House Counsel John Dean.

John, good to see you. For impeachment we know to be effective, both parties will have to have the will, the proverbial "Dan Broke on Nixon." Are you seeing any parallels right now?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there is a direct parallel with Justin Amash's move. Larry Hogan, congressman from Maryland, was the first to break rank in the Republicans against Nixon. It was early. He was lonely. He was attacked, but it did start the process. So there is a direct parallel, yes.

[18:05:05] CABRERA: CNN asked Senator Mitt Romney, another Trump critic, about Congressman Amash and his call for impeachment. And Romney wasn't ready to go as far. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement. But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don't have the elements that are evidenced in this document. I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law but also considers practicality and politics. And the American people just aren't there. And I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate. The Senate is certainly not there either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I know you agree with Amash and that you've noted before that Mueller's report presents clear evidence of obstruction. But if Amash is just one Republican voice, is there enough political and legal momentum for anything to come out of this?

DEAN: Well, there's certainly enough votes in the House, but there are not enough votes in the Senate. And of course, the Senate would try in the Articles of Impeachment sent by the House. So I think it's a nonstarter as far as removal or a guilty and removal judgment at this point.

But, Ana, typically these things take a process that has really not even gotten off the ground in the House yet with Trump stonewalling everything. The public is learning nothing. It's a pretty effective tactic if he gets away with it. But I think that we'll see if he gets away with it. They can start calling witnesses who will come up and start testifying about it because they've got to educate the public. And today very few Americans have read the Mueller report, even know what its contents are. So it's early in the process also.

CABRERA: In fact, Congressman Amash says he believes most lawmakers haven't read the full Mueller report. What's your reaction to that?

DEAN: I suspect that is the case. I worked on Capitol Hill. I was a staffer there for -- on the Judiciary Committee and know members are awfully busy today even more so than back when I was there. Raising money is their full-time work. So I doubt they have read it, and I think they should. But I'm not hopeful.

CABRERA: If they read it, do you think it would make a difference?

DEAN: Yes, it would make a big difference. It's a very persuasive document. It's not done with any set of flaring rhetoric. It just lays out fact after fact after fact. And it doesn't draw conclusions, really, in either section but it clearly does not exonerate the president with the obstruction issue.

CABRERA: Which Mueller spells out this does not exonerate him.

DEAN: Yes.

CABRERA: It seems as though White House or former White House counsel Don McGahn would be witness number one in an obstruction case. Trump denies the special counsel's report that the president ordered McGahn to fire Mueller. Now the White House meantime has told McGahn not to comply with the subpoena. Is it really up to the White House whether or not we hear from McGahn?

DEAN: It is not. They have no control over him. They'd have to go to court and get some sort of injunction against his testifying. Otherwise he could be held in contempt of Congress for not appearing. He -- there's just no reason he could not go. He might take the Fifth. He might say executive privilege, but he certainly has to appear if called.

CABRERA: And we still don't know if Mueller will testify. What do you see as the potential impact of his testimony?

DEAN: Well, both McGahn and Mueller would be big witnesses. And I suspect at some point we'll get both of them.

CABRERA: OK. John Dean, good to have you with us. I really appreciate your time this weekend.

DEAN: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: And thank you.

More now on the significance of Republican congressman taking a stand against the president and some of the other big stories out of Washington this weekend.

Joining us now is CNN political analyst Michael Shear. He is the White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and "TIME" magazine contributor Jay Newton-Small.

Michael, a Republican calling for impeachment. Should the president be worried?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, not so much at this point. I mean, look, Congressman Amash is a Republican, but he is also sort of isolated in the Republican caucus. He is a libertarian. He has shown himself to be a kind of contrarian when it comes to what the Republican leadership wants. And as you saw with that clip of Senator Romney, the -- you know, there aren't people even like Senator Romney who himself is somebody who has shown himself to be willing to criticize the president, and he's not even willing to go as far as Congressman Amash is.

And so, I mean, I -- I think, you know, that while it's -- you know, the Democrats are going to make a lot out of it, you know the presidential candidates for sure are going to point to this. The other Democrats in the House are going to point to it.

[18:10:01] But in the end, until you see mainstream Republicans, people who are either in the leadership or who represent broader coalitions within the House or the Senate, I just don't think it has all that much significance.

CABRERA: Jay, in fact Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib saw Amash's tweet and tweeted this. "Come find me in 1628 Long Worth. I've got an impeachment investigation resolution you're going to want to co- sponsor."

Michael mentioned Democrats may be being sort of reinvigorated after this Amash statement. Do you believe this gives Democrats more fire for their investigations? JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Ana, I think it does.

You know, you see now that they can basically say this is a Republican -- this is a bipartisan call for impeachment, that this is not just a unilaterally Democratic call for this. And I think it does put the Democratic leaders in particular like Nancy Pelosi in a little bit more of a bind. There is a lot more pressure potentially on her to move forward with some kind of impeachment proceedings. And I think that you will -- you hear from sources on the Hill that that is something that they are going to consider, not necessarily that they're going to hold impeachment itself, but just to begin an investigation into impeachment which would allow them, frankly, much more leeway to subpoena witnesses like Don McGahn, to subpoena witnesses like Bob Mueller who have both now declined I think to come forward under certain circumstances to testify before certain committees.

It would be a lot harder if there is an impeachment investigation for them to decline. And so, also, it's a lot harder for the White House to deny documents, deny access to certain staff. So in that case potentially I think this does help move things more towards opening some kind of investigation like that, which is kind of one step forward to potential impeachment trial. But I don't think that you'll see Democrats going all the way to an impeachment trial and impeachment itself because you still don't have the support of the Senate. You need those votes in the Senate.

CABRERA: Yes.

NEWTON-SMALL: And so until then it's all just politics.

CABRERA: So, Michael, if not a sign of an impeachment proceeding here, could Amash's move be a sign of more bipartisanship to come?

SHEAR: Well, I don't know. I mean, I think the relationship between this White House and the Congress really sort of divides into two primary camps. There is on the one hand the Democratic attempts to investigate the president in all of the different ways that they're trying to do that. And that certainly bodes ill for any kind of bipartisanship in -- as long as they're doing that.

There are some areas. Next week we're going to have another conversation about infrastructure between the White House and some members of Congress, and there -- you know, there is talk on both sides that there might be some way in which the president and the Democrats could get together on something like that.

But, look, you know, I think the truth is that we're heading into an election year. 2020 is going to be here before we all know it. And once that happens, you know, I suspect that everybody's political attitudes are going to harden. Certainly the president is going to be out on the campaign trail doing his rallies that are really, you know, typically very harsh, partisan political rhetoric. And the Democrats will be doing the same. And the presidential candidates will be on the trail. And I think anybody who is hoping for a kind of new kumbaya on Capitol Hill is probably going to be holding their breath a long time. CABRERA: I want to talk more about the 2020 campaign and an issue

that seems to be getting hotter every day. The president tweeting about abortion this weekend as well. He distanced himself from the Alabama law, but insisted on his pro-life stance ahead of 2020, saying in part this, "I am strongly pro-life with the three exceptions, rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother, the same position taken by Ronald Reagan." He goes on the say, "We must stick together and win. If we are foolish and do not stay united as one, all of our hard fought gains for life can and will rapidly disappear."

Jay, is abortion the winning issue for Republicans in 2020?

NEWTON-SMALL: It's really baffling, Ana. I don't -- I mean, it's not something that they should really be bringing up. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans do support the idea of access to abortions -- safe abortions for most Americans. I think something like 58 percent, 60 percent. And so it's always been an unpopular issue on the ballot. There's obviously people -- both sides have small groups where this drives it out and they are one-issue voters. But overall most mainstreams, sort of the silent majority voters of America don't view this as something they do vote on the ballot.

What they do vote on, though, is the economy. And the economy is roaring right now. So most Republicans would say we should be running on the economy. And I think even you saw that in Donald Trump's tweets, he was sort of trying to move away from the issue of abortion and say let's not run on this, let's actually focus. Let's be united, let's stand together and not be divided on this issue and focus on other things like ideally I think the economy is what most Republicans want to talk about at the ballot polls or in ballot boxes this next year I'd say.

CABRERA: And Michael, when I think about this abortion issue, I think about the power of the female vote and whether this issue, you know, with the states -- by state by state so many, 15 total, who are now passing these restrictive abortion laws, if it could backfire.

[18:15:007] SHEAR: Yes, look, I totally agree with Jay. I mean, this is sort of baffling for two reasons. One, the abortion issue, if anything, is driven by the people who are passionate about something happening. And if these laws, you know, give a sense to people that actually "Roe versus Wade" is actually threatened in a way that it hasn't really been threatened for four or five decades, that would seem to give the Democrats more energy that they haven't had in the past.

And I think also to Jay's point about the economy, women voters in particular were the ones who Republican candidates in the 2018 midterms really felt like they could have appealed to more if President Trump had focused on the economy more, not focused so much on in that case immigration and the caravans that were coming towards the border, and if they had stayed focused on the economy, they might have done better.

The same thing is true for 2020. If the Republicans get diverted to abortion and don't talk about the ways in which a very good economy in their argument would be the result of the Republican control of the White House, then they're missing an opportunity, and I think a lot of Republicans are going to be upset with that, if that -- if the conversation gets diverted to a sort of hot button social issue like that.

CABRERA: OK, Michael Shear, Jay Newton-Small, thank you both.

NEWTON-SMALL: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: I want to take you live to the campaign trail. These are pictures of Senator Bernie Sanders speaking in Birmingham, Alabama, this hour. He is one of 23 Democrats now vying for the Democratic nomination. And with so many in the running, it's hard to stand out. Some already re-launching their campaigns, hoping to gain traction.

We'll take a look at how it's working out, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:31] CABRERA: The 2020 race is heating up this weekend, especially after Democratic front-runner Joe Biden's official campaign kickoff rally in his home state of Pennsylvania. On the trail today, Senator Kamala Harris. She is holding an event at a community college in Los Angeles this hour. Senator Elizabeth Warren with rallies and a town hall in New Hampshire. Congressman Seth Moulton rolling out his national volunteer service initiative at an event in Massachusetts, and Congressman Eric Swalwell holding a town hall in Indiana.

There is also Senator Bernie Sanders set to join the march for reproductive freedom in Birmingham, Alabama, tonight. That's after holding a campaign rally right now.

Now the Democratic field got even more crowded this week when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Montana Governor Steve Bullock threw their hats into the ring. Nearly two dozen Democratic candidates are now running for president. And a new FOX News poll shows Joe Biden way out front by a significant margin among Democratic primary voters. He has 35 percent.

In second place Senator Sanders at 17 percent followed by Senator Warren at 9 percent, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6 percent, and Senator Kamala Harris at 5 percent.

Let's get right out to CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah in Los Angeles. Senator Harris holding a campaign event at Southwest College in L.A. this hour.

And Kyung, Harris had to re-launch her campaign just a couple of weeks ago. Today she is kicking off her California campaign. Tell us about the battleground in her home state.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the emphasis there, Ana, is battleground. You're using the absolutely appropriate word here because for the first time California truly is a battleground. (INAUDIBLE). They have moved up the primary date to Tuesday. So this is where you are seeing a lot of candidates for the first time running for president who are coming here to try to woo members of their party in order to win this state.

And so this is a state where you won't hear Kamala Harris talk about having a home state advantage. But you will hear her talking about that she has won here statewide as attorney general, that she has won here as in the U.S. Senate, and that she feels that she is out here hard fundraising. That while Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are also out here nipping at her heels, that she is doing well in the fundraising game.

And what you're seeing here, all this activity around me, Ana, is the excitement of the home state people who have known her for years. So truly the battleground begins now for this candidate in this campaign as far as California.

CABRERA: It is a loud crowd there behind you, Kyung. We know Senator Harris made some waves this week when she brushed off a reporter's question about possibly being Joe Biden's running mate. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Joe Biden would be a great running mate. As vice president, he has proven that he knows how to do the job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So she is saying yes, he could be my running mate. Is Senator Harris expected to turn up the volume on her Biden slams today?

LAH: Well, I don't know if you would characterize that as a slam from her campaign. They're calling that sort of a witty comeback. What you're going hear from the Harris campaign is that they are not in this race to tear down other candidates. That they don't think that is good for the Democratic Party. But you are going to hear them say that they're going to differentiate themselves. That they're going to prove themselves that they deserve to be the nominee, that this campaign deserves to be as such.

And so what you're probably going to hear from her today is much more on substance, that she is going to try to define her campaign based on policy, on substance, and define herself as the person who is the face of the Democratic Party moving forward -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Kyung Lah in Los Angeles for us. Thank you.

Another day, another major reversal from the Trump administration. How the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security is reversing course on what the administration is doing with migrants detained along the southern border.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:28:04] CABRERA: Just in to CNN, the acting Homeland Security secretary says migrants captured along the U.S. southern border will not be sent to sanctuary cities. This after President Trump and some members of his administration expressed their support for this idea. Now Secretary Kevin McAleenan also confirmed that hundreds of migrants will not be relocated to two Democratic counties in Florida as was originally discussed. That plan as you know drew major backlash from local and state officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING DHS SECRETARY: The reports in the media were that flights had already occurred. Those were not accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that's the part that you're saying the media was inaccurate on.

MCALEENAN: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The flights already occurred.

MCALEENAN: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you acknowledge that there were officials from your own agency who said that this was indeed going to happen in Florida.

MCALEENAN: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has indeed notified --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that cities, Detroit, Buffalo and Miami.

MCALEENAN: U.S. Customs and Border Protection did notify officials locally in those areas that they were looking at the possibility of doing this, that's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And those cities are also off the table now?

MCALEENAN: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And this decision was made when?

MCALEENAN: The commissioner -- the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection made that decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday?

MCALEENAN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Meantime, thousands of migrants crowded into overwhelmed Border Patrol stations and photos revealing migrant children sleeping on the ground.

Here is CNN's Rosa Flores with her report on the conditions for these detainees.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pictures of migrants waiting to get processed on the U.S. side of the southern border are difficult to watch. Families sprawled under makeshift tents, children sleeping on the ground, covered in Mylar blankets. The strain is not just on migrants. It's also on the officers who have apprehended a record-breaking number of migrants, more than 500,000 since October.

DEPUTY CHIEF RAUL ORTIZ, BORDER PATROL AGENT: I'm a father. I'm a grandfather. Somebody needs to do something about this.

FLORES: Thursday, officials in Florida's Palm Beach and Broward Counties said they were notified that about 1,000 undocumented migrants a month could be sent to the Sunshine State for processing and releasing.

MAYOR MARK BOGEN (D), BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: It's not a good plan. We think it's a danger to this community, and it's going to put a real strain on what the resources are.

MAYOR MARK BOGEN (D), BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: I personally would suggest that we bring these people over to his hotel and ask the President to open his heart and home to these people as well.

FLORES (voice-over): Sunday, the Acting DHS Secretary said the agency had been looking at all options. President Trump told Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that migrants would not be flown to Florida, but Border Patrol agents on the ground say Washington has to do something.

RAUL ORTIZ, DEPUTY CHIEF PATROL AGENT, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Until, you know, folks in Congress, folks at the White House, folks on Capitol Hill actually put forth an honest effort to address the situation here on the border, it's not just a humanitarian crisis, it's a border security crisis.

FLORES (voice-over): Without more resources from our nation's capital, DHS has resorted to other measures, like releasing thousands of undocumented migrants into border communities, flying or driving thousands of others to Laredo or San Diego, and reassigning agents from ports of entry to migrant processing centers.

One newly added temporary facility in south Texas alone holds 8,000 migrants on any given day.

ORTIZ: We're doing everything we can in our power to ensure that they're safe. We want to let them know that they're safe now.

FLORES (voice-over): While agents continue to do their jobs along the border, many are asking if politicians are doing theirs in Washington.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The President claimed on the campaign trail that he would support the torture of detainees, and a new report says he is requesting paperwork to pardon American war criminals. But could that actually put U.S. service members at risk? We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:29] CABRERA: President Trump may be considering pardons for several military service members accused or convicted of war crimes.

Two U.S. officials tell the "New York Times" the administration has made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops around Memorial Day. And among them are a Navy SEALs chief facing trial for charges of shooting unarmed civilians, also Marine snipers charged with urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters.

I want to bring in CNN military analysts retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

And, Lieutenant, do we know what, if anything, these service members have done to merit a presidential pardon?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Not that I know of, Ana. Now, certainly, I'm not involved in the legal implications of producing pardon, a job of the Justice Department after the President asked them to consider. But what I do know is that these individuals have violated the land -- the Law of Land Warfare.

They've disobeyed legal orders during combat in terms of the treatment of civilian and enemy combatants. They've ignored ethical standards associated with the military profession. And they've conducted outright criminal behavior.

Some have been charged. Some have been -- those charges had gone to trial. Others are still awaiting trial. But it's a bevy of things that the President is looking at in one fell swoop, according to the "New York Times" report. And in my view, all these things are wrong and will cause a great deal of damage.

CABRERA: You also have said that this is dangerous and disastrous to military cohesion and discipline. How does this put U.S. soldiers at risk?

HERTLING: Yes. What I said in a tweet was that, you know, most people would see this as reprehensible and a horrible event, to pardon these individuals who are proceeding through trial or who would -- it would commute a sentence.

But it also has second and third order effects for any commanders in the field and for our allies and partners who depend on the United States military to do the right things, according to the Law of Land Warfare and ethical combat.

You know, Ana, military commanders -- you know, we don't talk about this much, but military commanders have the requirement to control violence on the battlefield. And the way they do that is by ensuring their units are held to withheld -- or are held to higher standards and a rigorous application of the rule of law.

That generates mutual trust between soldiers, between units, doing the right thing. And it's what separates us, the military, the professional military, from gangs and terrorists.

And it would be dangerous, not only for the institution of the U.S. military but also the way we're perceived around the world, not only by our allies and partner but also by our enemies.

CABRERA: This month, Trump already pardoned Michael Behenna. He's a former Army lieutenant convicted of killing a detained Iraqi man he was interrogating.

Now, the ACLU said this pardon represented a presidential endorsement of murder. Your reaction, and what message does this send to the American people?

HERTLING: Well, one of the things the President has -- certainly has the legal power to do is to execute pardons and to apply these pardons to individuals he thinks are appropriate to receive them.

But unfortunately, in these cases, I would tend to agree with the ACLU, knowing that, as a commander both in combat and peacetime, I had to apply the rule of law to soldiers who committed heinous acts in either combat or peacetime.

And it just chips away in another aspect of rule of law, in this case, the military application of that rule of law. And that's just as dangerous as any chipping away of civilian rule of law through the courts.

So, yes, I would tend to agree with the ACLU on this. Any time you subject any individual service members to trial for crimes committed in combat or peacetime, the military justice system works extremely hard to ensure they are treated in a just and fair way.

And doing anything else for someone who has been accused of, truthfully, what's called an extrajudicial killing, which is what Behenna did, is anathema to all the values and ethics -- ethical patterns that we stand for.

CABRERA: Always good to have you with us. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thank you.

HERTLING: Ana, thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, the President loves to brag about making money, but some of his prized properties are apparently losing it by the millions. Has the Trump brand lost its luster?

[18:40:01] But first, Christine Romans is here with this week's "Before the Bell." Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Volatility is back as trade headlines royal Wall Street. Last Monday, stocks suffered their worst decline since early January as the trade war with China escalated.

But the major averages rebounded later in the week after President Trump delayed imposing tariffs on European autos. The whiplash, you can expect it'll continue as investors react to each trade development.

This week several retailers report quarterly earnings results. We'll hear from Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, Kohl's, and Best Buy, among the companies reporting.

Expect to hear a lot about tariffs. Retailers depend heavily on China for their supply chain. Forty-one percent of all apparel and 72 percent of all footwear was imported from China in 2017.

And some stores are passing the costs of tariffs along to consumers. Last week, Walmart warned it would raise prices on some products, although it didn't specify which ones.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:45:13] CABRERA: Well, there have been plenty of questions about the true nature of the President's wealth. He has always had a valuable brand. But now, maybe not so much. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of Donald Trump's favorite brands.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is now the hottest resort of its kind anywhere in the United States.

TODD (voice-over): An example, he says, of his Midas touch.

TRUMP: We've had tremendous success. The bookings are through the roof.

TODD (voice-over): But now, it appears profits at the storied Doral golf course in Florida may have fallen through the floor.

Financial records obtained by the "Washington Post" show operating income at the Trump National Doral resort, which Trump bought and restored in 2012, fell by 69 percent from 2015 to 2017 when Trump became president.

And there's reportedly been financial trouble at another property that's also been the President's pride and joy.

TRUMP: It's great to be at Trump Tower.

TODD (voice-over): A new report by Bloomberg says Trump Tower, his crown jewel, now ranks as one of the least desirable luxury properties in Manhattan.

Bloomberg says the occupancy rate at the tower has plummeted in the last seven years, from 99 percent down to 83 percent, twice the average vacancy rate for Manhattan. Bloomberg also says it used public information to calculate that eight

of nine condos sold since Trump became president sold for a loss, although sources close to the Trump Organization dispute that math.

Trump watchers say it's all evidence that the White House may be taking the shine off Trump's gold-covered portfolio.

MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, " TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY, AND POWER": Whether it's his golf course, his resorts, or his showcase building in New York's Fifth Avenue, in each case, we see that there's been an impact where people do not want to do business in a place with -- that carries the name of someone who they vehemently disagree with.

TODD (voice-over): The lobby of Trump Tower has been the backdrop for some of Trump's most controversial political statements on the violence in Charlottesville connected to a White nationalist protest.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides.

TODD (voice-over): Or a remark targeting undocumented immigrants from Latin America when he launched his 2016 campaign.

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

TODD (voice-over): A comment which the "Post" report implies may well have led wealthy clients from Latin America to steer away from the Doral resort in Miami.

At Trump Tower, the problems could also stem from the realities of being the President's New York home base. Security fortifications, gawking crowds, and protests can make it a tougher place to live and work according to the former Trump Organization executive who headed up its construction in 1983.

BARBARA RES, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You've got Secret Service and cops all over the place. It's hard to get to the building to begin with.

TODD (voice-over): One marketing expert says the President's brand has been hurt because sometimes it simply couldn't be distinguished from politics.

RICHARD LEVICK, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LEVICK: The President has decided not to separate himself from his brand. Although he no longer runs the day-to-day activities, it's very hard to distinguish the two, both from the President's point of view, from the Democratic point of view, and from the general public.

TODD (voice-over): Trump supporters dispute those concerns. They say the President's political success has boosted the visibility of the Trump brand, even more than his brash marketing and his T.V. show ever did.

They say conservative political events and foreign dignitaries flocking to the Trump International Hotel in Washington and to Mar-a- Lago have boosted profits at those properties. Doral, for instance, is still making money.

And Trump himself says he's not worried if his business empire pays a price for his presidency.

TRUMP: I will tell you, and as most of you know, being president has cost me a fortune, and that's O.K. with me.

TODD (voice-over): But his biographers say, in reality, declining revenue at Trump Tower and Doral have to be eating away at Donald Trump.

FISHER: Deep down, he is someone who reacts very poorly to a downturn, someone who doesn't like to be told that he is not a winner at every turn.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Responding to CNN's request for comment, a representative of the Trump Organization called the article on the Doral resort, quote, absolute garbage, saying 2018 was one of the best years in the history of that property.

Trump's son, Eric Trump, told the "Washington Post," quote, our iconic properties are the best in the world, and our portfolio is unrivaled by anyone.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CABRERA: Coming up, a moment a pilot confronted Boeing about the type of plane now involved in two deadly crashes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We flat-out deserve to know what is on our airplanes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't disagree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:49:40] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: New audio reveals the moment pilots confronted Boeing about an anti-stall feature on the 737 Max jet. This confrontation happened last November, just weeks after the Lion Air crash that killed 189 people and four months before the Ethiopian Airlines' tragedy that killed 157.

This week, the acting head of the FAA went before a House committee to defend its certification procedures for the 737 Max. More now from CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pilot should have

reacted, should have recovered, should have saved their doomed jets in response to two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max airplanes. That was the message from some during this tense hearing on Capitol Hill.

REP. SAM GRAVES (R), MISSOURI: Pilots trained in the United States would have successfully been able to handle this situation.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But others pushed back.

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON: The pilots were the redundancy. How the hell are you the redundancy if you don't know something?

FOREMAN (voice-over): At issue, an automated stabilization system called MCAS, implicated first in a crash near Indonesia last fall. Investigators believe it erroneously pushed that plane into an unrecoverable dive. What's more, at the time, pilots did not know the system existed.

Now, audio recordings released by the Allied Pilots Association show American airline pilots speaking angrily with a Boeing official just weeks later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We flat-out deserve to know what is on our airplanes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't disagree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys didn't even know that damn system was on the airplane, nor did anybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that understanding this system would have changed the outcome on this.

FOREMAN (voice-over): That pilots' union says of the meeting, quote, Boeing did not treat the situation like the emergency it was.

Boeing did issue updated instructions after that crash, but then another plane went down in Ethiopia in March. And once again, investigators are pointing to MCAS.

[18:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This cannot happen again.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The FAA is clearly unhappy with Boeing's slow response to the initial problem and slow communication about a software glitch which prevented an alert system from functioning.

DANIEL ELWELL, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: It took too long.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But those same FAA officials under fire themselves for the regulation of the 737 Max are also pushing some blame toward the pilots, even as they cautiously move forward.

ELWELL: The 737 Max will return to service only when the FAA's analysis of the facts and technical data indicate that it's safe to do so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: And these facts weigh over it all, 346 people lost their lives in these twin crashes involving American-made jets. And there will be more hearings before it's all over.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

CABRERA: Just a quick programming note, see what happens when victims of violent crimes and their offenders meet face-to-face on the new "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES: THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES." That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. followed by "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA WITH W. KAMAU BELL" at 10:00 p.m.

Now, this is a commencement speech that will be hard to top. How the graduating class of Morehouse College got a whole lot more than a diploma. I'll speak with one of the new grads impacted just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)