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Heatwave Hits Large Areas of U.S.; British Government Warns Iran to Release Captured Oil Tanker and Crew; Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) Interviewed on His Vote for Impeaching President Trump and Continuing Presidential Campaign; Commemorations Held for 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing; President Trump Retweets Controversial British Media Personality Accused of Racism; Trump Administration Proposes Allowing No Refugees into U.S. in 2020. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 20, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:18] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning. We're so glad to see you on this Saturday. It is July 20th. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: And of course, we want to begin with what, sadly, what is the latest death in this blistering heat wave that is affecting so much of the U.S. this morning. This death in Arizona, an A.C. technician appears to have died from excessive heat while he was working in an attic.

BLACKWELL: Now, this is obviously dangerous and uncomfortable for a lot of people, 150 million people across 30 states are under heat alerts with the temperatures feeling like they are above 110 degrees in some cities. Consider this in Michigan -- more than 200,000 people there, they don't have power.

Let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval live from New York. Polo, we have seen your reporting on the heat, and people are doing a lot of creative things to try to stay cool.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even for the south Texan standing in front of you, it is certainly getting a little warm here. Standing in the shadow of iconic Unisphere fountain here in Queens, New York, I can tell you that yesterday this place was packed with people. Today it will be even hotter. We expect even more people here trying to get some much needed relief from this heatwave, Victor and Christi. Some of those vulnerable are the elderly and children.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is incredible out here.

SANDOVAL: Much of the United States is sweltering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year, it's really hot. It's like burning hot. SANDOVAL: About 195 million people are under heat watches and

warnings, part of a potentially record-breaking heat wave set to scorch the country through Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have one, two, three, four of the teachers over there, because they can't handle it. And here is just me who is over here.

SANDOVAL: Major cities have opened up cooling centers for those without air conditioning, and officials from New Mexico to New Hampshire are warning people to stay indoors, stay hydrated, and check on their neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look out for the elderly. Look out for young people. They are the most vulnerable.

SANDOVAL: In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a heat emergency, cautioning residents to reduce electricity use and ordering high rise office buildings to raise their thermostats to avoid power outages.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We keep emphasizing set it at 78 degrees. Unless you have a specific condition where you need it to be cooler, 78 degrees will keep you safe, will keep you cool enough, will keep you healthy. And again, we want to always be careful not to use more electricity than we need to.

SANDOVAL: Major events also being cancelled, the Ozy Musical Festival in New York to horse races in Saratoga. And in Illinois, zoo workers are doing their best to help the animals beat the heat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: And back out live in Queens, New York, you see behind me, guys, it is never too early to try to get a prime spot here in the park under the shade, or again, in the midst of this iconic fountain here. And guys, it's going to get hotter here, too. According to the scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the hottest June every recorded on the planet. And when you hear from experts, Victor and Christi, they say we're likely only going to begin to see more of these heatwaves happening more frequently, part of this ongoing climate crisis.

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Good point to make as we go to CNN's meteorologist Allison Chinchar who is live in the Weather Center. And Allison, how long is going to last?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: At least a few more days for some folks. They may not even see relief until, say, Monday or even Tuesday of the upcoming week. Again, you've got about 75 percent of the U.S. population that's going to have that temperature of 90 degrees or higher, with the feels-like temperature being very warm.

The reason why this is happening is you have a dome of high pressure, this high pressure that is basically sitting over the eastern half of the country. Naturally with the high pressure, you have air being pushed down to the surface. But it's hot. It's summertime, like it should be. So that heat begins to rise. But the high pressure basically pushes all that hot air back down to the ground, preventing it from being able to escape.

Here's the thing, though. It is not just one city that's dealing with this oppressive heat. You have numerous cities, numerous states, 30 of them to be exact, that are dealing with this oppressive heat. You have excessive heat watches, excessive heat warnings, and even heat advisories and stretching from New Mexico all the way up to Maine. And it's not just for today. It will carry through to the weekend.

Looking at the forecast high temperatures, not the heat index, the temperature, we are expecting 96 today in Chicago, 97 for St. Louis and Kansas City, 98 for places like Oklahoma City and Dallas, 100 for the actual temperature in Washington, D.C. But it is going to feel even warmer than that, because when you factor in the humidity, and it feels-like temperature, what it would feel like on your body, it is going to be 108 in Washington, D.C., 106 for Chicago, 103 in Oklahoma City.

[10:05:04] To understand what that means is the feels-like temperature is basically taking into account sweat. You are outside, it's 90 degrees, obviously everybody sweats. But when you have high humidity, that sweat cannot evaporate from your skin, basically making it feel like you are wearing an extra layer of clothing, and that makes you feel even hotter than what the temperature already is.

The good news is, Victor and Christi, once we get to next week, we finally will start to see some relief from this heat, but some areas are going to have to wait to at least Tuesday or Wednesday to do that.

BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

PAUL: We want to get to the escalation and tensions between Iran and the west right now. Just in the past hour the European Union joined the list of international organizations and countries calling on Iran to release a British flagged oil tanker that it captured in the Strait of Hormuz.

BLACKWELL: Iran claims the ship was involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat after reportedly ignoring the boat's distress call. The British government warns there will be serious consequences if Iran does not release the tanker and its crew. Clarissa Ward joins us now. Clarissa, are British officials expounding at all on what those serious consequences could be?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they are not, Victor. And indeed, by saying that those serious consequences would be favored as diplomatic options as opposed to military options, I think they are making it clear that they really do not want to see this situation escalate any further than it has already very much in danger of doing.

Now, we do know that the foreign secretary here, Jeremy Hunt, has spoken to recently to the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif. He took to Twitter to express disappointment with Zarif that despite previous promises to try to deescalate tensions in the Persian Gulf, he now views Iran as continuing to further escalate those tensions.

We also know that the Iranian charge d'affaires here in the U.K. has been summoned, but we don't exactly what course exactly the U.K. is going to take to try to make sure that that tanker and the 23 people aboard does indeed get released, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. We appreciate the update.

BLACKWELL: Democrats are divided on the question of whether to impeach President Trump. Congressman Seth Moulton has been pushing for impeachment from the start, and this week he has made it clear that it's a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He joins us next.

PAUL: And Senator Bernie Sanders is in Iowa this morning, busy week ahead for him. Why this weekend is an important one for the senator and his campaign.

BLACKWELL: Also, it has been a half-century since the U.S. won the race to the moon when Neil Armstrong set the Eagle Lander on the moon with just seconds to spare. Coming up, we will talk you live to the room where they made it happen, Houston's Apollo Mission Control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston, the Eagle has landed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[10:11:55] BLACKWELL: There was a special guest with Senator Elizabeth Warren during a campaign event in Iowa yesterday.

BLACKWELL: Someone rushed the stage, but it wasn't a protester. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- people they love. We have an extra.

(LAUGHTER)

WARREN: Hi, sweetie. Are you looking for mama? Are you with someone here? It's OK. Oh, sister.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So the little girl's sister eventually came and took her off of the stage. Before going back to her stump speech, Senator Warren seemed a little moved by the moment, calling it a reminder of why we are in this fight, she says.

PAUL: And Senator Bernie Sanders is in Iowa this morning. He has a busy weekend ahead. He's taking on senior issues at a roundtable and an AARP-"Des Moines Register" Forum this afternoon. And he'll also stop by a country fair and a summer picnic tonight.

PAUL: His day kicks off next hour with an office opening in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and that is where we find CNN's Ryan Nobles this morning. Ryan, good morning to you. A lot on his plate today.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Christi, this is really a quintessential Iowa weekend for Bernie Sanders. And it is going to start with five different events across the western side of Iowa starting right here with an office opening in Council Bluffs. And this is an example of the infrastructure that the Sanders campaign is really attempting to build here in Iowa, something that he can do because of the vast resources that he has, more cash on hand than any other presidential campaign. That allows for many of these offices all across the state, also allows for him to employ field staff that can help get out the vote here, and more importantly, in the state of Iowa, organize the caucus process, which is of course very involved and very intensive.

And what is interesting about the Sanders weekend is that isn't going to be a traditional Sanders weekend in that there aren't going to be these massive big rallies that Bernie Sanders is known for. Instead, these are going to be a lot more one-on-one interaction with voters here in Iowa. You mentioned he's got this office opening. He is going to do the AARP forum later today. But he's also going to have a roundtable, and then just head to a county fair and talk with voters. This is an attempt for Sanders show a more human side of him as a candidate, really connect with Iowa voters, because it is that connection that often compels someone to participate in the caucus process. And this of course, Victor and Christi, enormously important to Sanders' and his team as we head closer and closer to those Iowa caucuses at the beginning of next year. Victor and Christi?

PAUL: All right, Ryan Nobles, and if you are following him all day, you are going to have a lot of running to do yourself, I know, my friend. Thank you. Take good care.

NOBLES: It is going to be warm. It is going to be warm.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Stay cool out there.

So this week, a vote to impeach President Trump failed in the House, but 95 Democrats did vote for it to move forward, and that is a little more than 40 percent of the caucus. And one of those Democrats is Congressman Seth Moulton, the 2020 candidate. He has been making the case for impeachment for more than a year now, and Congressman Seth Moulton joins us live now. Congressman, good to see you again.

REP. SETH MOULTON, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, too, Victor.

[10:15:00] BLACKWELL: Before we get to the impeachment vote, I want to ask you from your position on House Armed Services about what is happening with Iran. CNN's reporting is that privately the president is becoming more hawkish on Iran, placing less emphasis on diplomacy. What is your degree of confidence that this will not escalate, especially over this British tanker seizure, to a military response?

MOULTON: I have no confidence that it won't escalate, because this is a terribly erratic president. Remember, this is the president who authorized air strikes against Iran and then canceled them 10 minutes later. He clearly has no strategy. And his administration isn't on the same place. You have got Bolton and Pompeo obviously wanting to go to war to press this case. The president can't make up his mind.

What we need is a commander in chief with a very clear strategy that lays out a pathway for Iran to improve its behavior in exchange for releasing sanctions, but it doesn't say it's going to require regime change, which is just completely unrealistic.

We need an administration that makes it clear that we will get back into the nuclear deal, even make it stronger, but do it together with our allies. Trump has frayed our alliances with the European Union and pulled apart the nuclear deal. That's why Iran is now enriching uranium to make a nuclear bomb. So the situation has gotten very dangerous under this president. He clearly doesn't have a plan.

If I were commander in chief, I would make it very clear exactly what the mission is, exactly how our allies are together with us in this mission, and make it clear to Iran what they need to do in order to comply.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about impeachment now. This week you voted in support of Texas Congressman Al Green's impeachment resolution. Let's put up a line from it. He said "Donald John Trump by causing such harm to the society of the United States is unfit to be president and warrants impeachment trial and removal from office." This doesn't allege a crime, just general unfit to hold office. Does this meet the threshold of impeachment?

MOULTON: It does meet the threshold. The Constitution makes it very clear that it is up to the House of Representatives to decide whether the president has met the threshold for impeachment. But we have to hold the hearings --

BLACKWELL: Of high crimes and misdemeanors. Where is that in this resolution?

MOULTON: If you think that having a racist president who incites the kind of violent lines that we saw in North Carolina isn't grounds for even having a debate on impeachment, Victor, I'm not going to convince you. But the reality here is very clear. This is a moral moment for America, and for the Democratic Party.

I worked so hard over the last two years supporting a bunch of veterans running in the key districts that we needed to win back to take the House, to win the House so that we could hold the president accountable. And I don't know why our leadership refuses to do that. This is a debate that we need to have.

Now, they have made the case that the polls aren't with us yet, that the politics may be against us, but how about just doing the right thing? How about doing the right thing?

BLACKWELL: When you say do the right thing, I want you to listen to a congressman several months ago talking about why he was supporting impeachment of the president. That congressman is you, and it's a different justification. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SETH MOULTON, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I voted to move forward with discussing and debating impeachment last year, because I think it was clear last year that the president has clearly committed crimes that deserves this debate. He has obstructed justice. He has campaign finance violations. He's profited off of the office, which means that he has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. We should be having this debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So how do you expect to grow public support if you're shifting the justification for why you want to start the debate?

MOULTON: Victor, I am not shifting the justification. All the things I said back still apply. We're just adding to the case. That is exactly what has happened --

BLACKWELL: But none of that was in this resolution from Congressman Green, none of that was in it.

MOULTON: Well, we have already voted on his previous resolution that included it. This is just adding to the case. And that is exactly what an impeachment inquiry does. When the impeachment proceedings started against Richard Nixon, only 30 percent of the country thought that he should be impeached. That number is already much higher for Trump, 45 percent of America today thinks that he should be impeached. But by having that open, transparent debate before Congress and the American people, we brought to light all these different issues. The fact that, like you say, or like I said before, he has committed crimes, but also the fact that he is just not providing the moral leadership that we expect as a commander in chief of the United States.

BLACKWELL: Congressman, we are running low on time, but I have got to ask you quickly, CNN will host the next Democratic presidential debate later this month. You did not qualify to make these first two debates. You raise $1.2 million in the second quarter, $700,000 cash on hand, that's near the back of the pack. Your congressional district on Massachusetts borders New Hampshire. The latest New Hampshire poll, you are at zero support there, hash mark in NBC/"Wall Street Journal" national poll. How long can you stay in this race with those statistics, numbers, and fundraising? [10:20:04] MOULTON: I raised more money than five of the people on

the debate stage. I have qualified in 12 different polls that the Washington establishment and D.C. has chosen simply not to count. And the fact of the matter is that my message is resonating on the ground and they are the people who are going to decide who the nominee is.

BLACKWELL: The threshold was one percent in three polls.

MOULTON: And I have qualified according to 12. But the same Washington establishment that is saying that we don't have the courage to have this debate about impeachment are the people who are picking the folks to be on stage in this debate.

What we should be doing is picking the best nominee to take on Donald Trump. I'm a combat veteran, the only one in the race. I played a key part in taking back the House in 2018. And what I hear from the voters on the ground is that they want that voice to be heard on the debate stage.

BLACKWELL: Congressman Seth Moulton, we have to wrap it there. Thank you so much for being with us.

MOULTON: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: Well, 50 years ago today, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. We're going to take you live to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in the room where they made it happen. That's coming up. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[10:25:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contact light. OK, engine stopped. Descent into command override off. Engine arm off, 413 is in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We copy you down, Eagle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger Tranquility, we copy you on ground. You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: So those engineers in Houston were nervous for a reason. The flight computer flashed warnings that it was overloaded as Neil Armstrong said the Eagle landed down on the moon with just 30 seconds of fuel left in the tank.

PAUL: Isn't that something? And today to celebrate 50 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon, there's a projection, look at this, of a Saturn V rocket, that's on the Washington Monument. Now back in 1969 more than a half-billion people watched on television as Neil Armstrong stepped down that ladder and said the line we all know so well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Let's go to where they sat, those nerves of steel, I guess we should call them, the nerve center of that mission, and so many others. Our Rachel Crane is at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It has got to be surreal today, is it, Rachel?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Christi, this is probably the coolest location I have ever gone live from this is Apollo Mission Control, the room where it happened, where the scientists and engineers of the Apollo program were able to land Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon 50 years ago today. And it looks this way as a result of a six-year tireless restoration program. It looks as if the scientists and engineers just stepped away from their desks. Everything is authentic as possible from the wall paper to the carpets to the ashtrays. Every console has a flight plan. Even the astronaut's heartbeats are displayed on the monitor here.

I had the opportunity to speak with NASA's current Chief Flight Director Holly Ridings about the significance of this room. Take a listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLY RIDINGS, NASA CHIEF FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Having spent some time in here with the flight directors that were responsible for the Apollo missions, many of them talk about it like a cathedral. And so you come in, and this is where everything else stops. You are focused, you're doing your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CRANE: Now, all week long there have been all kinds of celebrations, galas, events, concerts, gatherings, reunions to commemorate the 50th anniversary. And in just a couple of hours the veterans of the Apollo program will be gathering in this room for a reunion to pay homage to what they were able to accomplish in this room, and really what humanity was able to accomplish by landing Neil and Buzz on the moon 50 years ago today. Victor, Christi?

BLACKWELL: Rachel Crane in a perfect spot for today. Thank you so much.

PAUL: So the Apollo landing was part of a promise kept after President Kennedy made this vow at the start of the decade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: He said that at Rice University, September 22nd, 1962. Rice University where CNN Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley, by the way, is a professor, and he's also the author of "American Moonshot." There it is. Douglas, so good to have you with us. When I listen to that speech, I wonder, certainly NASA, the intentions for space exploration, they were adventurous and they were inspirational, but was there a tinge of wanting to one-up Russia at that point?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Oh, yes. It is more than a tinge. John F. Kennedy didn't like to lose. He never lost a race in his whole political career. He first went to Congress in 1946, and then got reelected in 1948 and 1950. He won the Senate in 52, won the Senate in 58, won the presidency in 1960, then of course died in Dallas in 1963, but he never lost. But he felt that we were losing to the Soviet Union in space exploration.

So he seized on the word "leapfrog," how can we leapfrog what Russia is doing? And the answer is the moonshot, and let's go to the moon. And everybody at NASA when he made the announcement just said you've got to be kidding me. We have got no technology to do such a thing. We don't have the computer system to do it. But Kennedy said we'll find it. In that way he was a product of the Second World War where we would do innovation very quickly to accomplish a major goal.

[10:30:01] PAUL: It was a bit of a hard sell to some people, was it not?

BRINKLEY: It was, but Kennedy when he announced it had about an 80 percent approval rating, if you can believe that. And he went to Capitol Hill, and the Democrats were all on his side, and to Republicans, he would simply say, Kennedy, so you want Russia to go to the moon first? And they would say no, no, that's not what I am saying. And so he was able to build quite a strong coalition, found $25 billion for the Apollo program, that would be around $180 billion today. And it always had enough bipartisan gas in its tank. There are many moments that almost got derailed, particularly in 1967 when we lost three astronauts in a disaster at Cape Canaveral. But beyond that, that moment where it almost ended, we pushed it all the way to 1969, and the irony is JFK's old rival Richard Nixon was the president when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon.

PAUL: I think something that a lot people might not know that is really interesting about this is the fact that President Nixon had drafted, had his speechwriter draft a different speech just in case things did not go well, and in that speech he was to say, if they had not come back, "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace." It is pretty profound when you think about it.

You interviewed Neil Armstrong years ago. This was a man who said he knew that he had a 50-50 chance of making this work and coming back. Did he talk to you about making that decision? BRINKLEY: Look, Neil Armstrong never really blinked. He just had a

mission. He was going to fulfill Kennedy's pledge. His pulse stayed normal, his heart rate normal. But he did tell me that they had a 50- 50 chance of success, not that they were going to die, but that everything would work exactly as planned.

But there was confidence in that they had done a lot of the dress rehearsals in Apollo, there was the kind of to confidence you do when you go on an exploration or a mission. But when they all got retrieved in the South Pacific, meaning Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, they were all safe, and Mission Control, where you were just at, they were on NASA on a big screen. They put Jack Kennedy's moon pledge of May 25th, 1961, and underneath it, it said "task Accomplished, July, 1969."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: That is something. Douglas Brinkley, author of "American Moonshot," we appreciate you so much taking the time to talk to us.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: When we come back, why is the president spending his Saturday morning sharing the rants of a far right British columnist? We'll discuss. Alice Stewart and Maria Cardona join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:31:15] BLACKWELL: This morning, President Trump is sharing with more than 62 million followers tweets from a woman in the U.K. named Katie Hopkins, and not for the first time. Here is why this matters. After a week of attacking the U.S. congresswomen for their comments about their country and a racist chant at his own rally, and denying claims of his own racism, the president is promoting a woman who has a long history of spewing hate.

Here is what you need to know about Katie Hopkins. She found fame as a contestant on the U.K.'s "Apprentice" in 2007. Then she became a commentator and a columnist. Some of her greatest hits, in 2015 she compared refugees to cockroaches in an article for the "Sun" newspaper. More than 316,000 signatures called for her to be fired. In 2017 Hopkins tweeted this during the Oscar So White movement, "Dear black people, if your lives matter, why do you stab and shoot each other so much?" That same year she was fired from a radio show after she called for a final solution for Muslims in England after a terror attack in Manchester. That was the Nazi's plan to exterminate Jews, their words. And then last year she called a Twitter user a "jigaboo."

So that's this matters, because the president of the United States is directly sharing on his platform the tweets, the thoughts, the words of that woman, Katie Hopkins on your screen.

Let's discuss now. Joining me now are two CNN political commentators, Republican strategist Alice Stewart and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. Welcome back to both of you.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Alice, first to you. Of all of the voices of support, and there plenty of them, after the president tries for several days now to say I don't have a racist bone in my body, why reach to Katie Hopkins? He doesn't follow her. He has to look for Katie Hopkins to find tweets to retweet. Why her?

STEWART: Two big reasons. One is she has 962,000 followers on Twitter that --

BLACKWELL: He has 62 million.

STEWART: Exactly, it's massive. And she is a huge Trump supporter. I disagree with the way she talks and the language she uses and the tone she uses, that is insult insulting, it is repulsive, but from the president's viewpoint she is a strong supporter of him. she inartfully, but she does explain that what we are seeing here with the president and the squad is a binary choice between their socialist policies and their views, and make America great again. And she tries to explain this is what is going on between the president and these four congresswomen. Unfortunately, she does it in a very disrespectful way, but that is exactly the reason why we are seeing president --

BLACKWELL: Racist. We can just call it racist, when she calls people cockroaches or calls it for a final solution for Muslims, I don't think there is any gray area there.

CARDONA: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me come to you, because, listen, he has retweeted her before. He has tweeted Britain First, he's tweeted fascists. He says it was a sheriff star, but a Star of David on a stack of cash during the campaign. And his approval rating is unchanged. He was elected president. How much at the end of this week does any of this matter?

CARDONA: Well, I hope that it will matter, Victor, and Democrats and independents I believe here in this country, are going to try to make it matter in 2020. This is hugely important, and I'm so glad that CNN continues to point these things out, because there is a much simpler explanation than my friend Alice just gave in terms of why he retweeted her. He retweets her because he is likeminded, because they are birds of a feather, because they agree on issues of racism and bigotry and the fact that they don't like people of color because they are threatened by it.

[10:40:09] He retweets her because he is a white nationalist. He retweets her because he is now just playing every single day page after page after page of out of the playbook of white supremacists. There is no other explanation for this, Victor. And the more that his Republican supporters try to twist themselves up

in knots trying to explain this, the more that we can underscore the fact that there is no other explanation other than the president is a racist, he is a white supremist, he is a white nationalist, and he is demonstrating it not just because of the tweets and because of what he says in the rallies, but because of what he implements in policies.

BLACKWELL: Alice, come on back in here.

STEWART: I think it is really important to follow-up that with that we talk so much about what this president has tweeted the last few days and what people like Katie have tweeted, but we have not reminded people of what we have heard from the four congresswomen. Between the four of them, their anti-Semitic comments, the comments that are disparaging to the efforts at the border. We have heard them say that support for Israel is all about the Benjamins. They've said that Israel has hypnotized people. We've heard that our centers on the borders are like concentration camps.

CARDONA: And they are.

STEWART: And black and brown people that support our immigration policies are cogs in the system.

CARDONA: Victor. But you know what, Alice?

BLACKWELL: Let her finish her thought. Go ahead, Alice.

STEWART: These kinds of comments are disparaging. They're wrong and inappropriate, and they are not being talked about as much as the president is. And it is important to remind people what they have said, and this is why the president has reacted.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Maria.

CARDONA: Here is what is wrong with what you have said, because it is something that Trump says, and you are parroting it. Jewish people are telling the president to stop it. Jewish people are telling the president to stop using them as shields for his racism. Yes, Ilhan Omar has used some anti-Semitic tropes. And guess what, she has apologized, and says that she is learning from the colleagues how her language matters. Has the president ever apologized for his racist rants? Absolutely not, because he knows that it riles up his anti- immigrant racist base. We have seen it in the rallies, and it is disgusting that he is continuing to use it, and it is disgusting, and even disgusting to Jewish people here that he is using them as shields to promote his white supremacist and his white nationalism.

BLACKWELL: We need to take a break here. Alice and Maria, stay with us. Alice, I am coming to you first after the break on your thoughts on a plan floated by the administration as it is relates to refugees and the numbers that could be admitted to the country next year. Christi?

PAUL: Before that, our new original series "The Movies" continues Sunday night with the 2000s form "The Dark Knight" to "Gladiator" to "Monsters, Inc." Hear from the actors, the directors, the people who brought your favorite scenes to life. Get the stories behind the movies you love. "The Movies" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN.

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[10:46:03] BLACKWELL: The Trump administration is considering lowering the numbers of refugees allowed into the U.S. next year to zero. Now, 30,000 this year is at the lowest levels in decades for the U.S., drastically lower than the 110,000 admitted in 2017.

Let's bring back Republican strategist Alice Stewart and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. First, "Politico" was the first to report the details of this meeting last week where this idea was floated. Alice, first to you. Is this something that the president should move forward on, and would the party going into the election year, back him on that?

STEWART: It remains to be seen. I think the two most important words in your introduction there, Victor, were "is considering." This was an initial proposal, talked about an initial meeting and discussion on this, and it's up for discussion. We have already heard pushback from the DOD and other humanitarian groups. But it is important to remember, look at our humanitarian program we have here in the United States. This it is the most generous humanitarian program in the world. Unfortunately, we currently have a backlog of about 300,000 cases at the border, and that is the first priority, and that is what we need to certainly look at.

And what we are going to be seeing here, every year the presidents has had the opportunity to revisit this program and look at what the ceiling would be, President Obama, as you recall, paused this program briefly back in 2011. This is just something that is being considered. I expect there to be discussions back and forth, and they'll find some kind of happy medium.

BLACKWELL: Alice, how do you reconcile that generosity that you talk about with the president saying, sorry, we are full to people who wanted to come into the country, wanting to change the asylum laws, admit no refugees, cutting off aid to the Northern Triangle countries. It seems like there is a conflict, a contradiction between the generosity you speak about and the policies that the president is proposing or actually executing now?

STEWART: He hasn't said we are full yet, this is still under consideration. But good point on the Northern Triangle. I do think that aid should continue. It is critical that we put money into those three countries there, because stopping the problems there at the source when it comes to drugs and gangs and violence and senseless murders, the humanitarian aid we can provide to the Northern Triangle to help improve the economy there and stem the flow of them coming into this country. So I think that is something we should continue, but this is all part of the big negotiation.

BLACKWELL: Maria, let me come to you.

CARDONA: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Because the president, the administration, this was a great political play. They float it, so it appeases the people they want to hear that, but they never actually have to sell the policy.

CARDONA: That is exactly right. But here's, I think, the danger, Victor. The people who are around the president from Stephen Miller on down are the ones who actually do want to implement this policy of zero, of receiving zero refugees. And let's make no mistake about this, this is the next step in implementing the administration's frankly racist-based policies. He does have people around him, and I think he agrees with them, they do want to shut the border down. He has said no more people should be welcome. They don't want any more people, especially if the people come from s-hole countries, as he has said himself.

And look, in terms of the refugee policy, this is important for viewers to understand. This is a mechanism that this country has had frankly from its founding that focuses on this country being a beacon of hope and liberty, the way that Ronald Reagan talked about it. And it's something that our military and our diplomatic corps use to negotiate around the world to figure out what is the best way to move forward in terms of America's foreign policy. And they are the ones, the Department of Defense are the ones who are saying, no, this is stupid. This does not serve America's interests.

[10:50:00] BLACKWELL: Especially considering the Iraqis who have helped Americans for quite a long time now --

CARDONA: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: -- who may want to come to this country. Maria Cardona, Alice Stewart, thank you.

CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.

STEWART: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: I want to read this from former first lady Michelle Obama when she tweeted "What truly makes our country great is its diversity. I have seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there is a place for us all. We must remember it is not my America or your America, it is our America."

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna has called for the Obamas to come out and give speeches to rebut President Trump. We'll see if they decide to do that. Christi?

PAUL: And now we go to Shaquille O'Neal.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: I have seen this video, that why I chuckle.

PAUL: We're going to share some video with you. Here is the game. Can you spot Shaquille?

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Yes, he is the one who is seven feet tall.

PAUL: We'll tell you more.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first message to people is that if you think something might be, something is wrong, and you should get help. I went to the V.A., and they gave me a lot of paperwork, and I looked at it and I said, I am not really sure I know how to navigate this process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and I'm in a decent spot to be able to figure that sort of thing out. So I went to an organization in my town in Kansas City called Veterans Community Project. They helped me navigate the process. They serve all vets. Anybody who falls through the cracks, they have a village of tiny houses. They've effectively eradicated veterans' homelessness in Kansas City, and I am excited to lead the national expansion of the organization. It's our new mission.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:55:06] PAUL: Find out more about the Veterans Community Project. Go to CNNHeroes.com. And while you're there, to nominate someone you know to be a CNN Hero. We'd love to meet them.

BLACKWELL: I like this one.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Shaq, oh, he knows how to party. And when he is at the party, it is easy to spot him.

PAUL: You take a look, you tell me how quickly it takes for you to go, there he is.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: This is at Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium, front row no less, which makes you go, can anybody behind him see?

BLACKWELL: Seven-foot guy down in front. We paid for these tickets too. You see him here in the mosh pit enjoying this. It looks like he is having a good time.

PAUL: Yes. Just some good video.

BLACKWELL: One more time. This shot immediately. PAUL: Go, Shaq.

Thank you so much for spending your morning with us. We really appreciate you. Don't forget to tweet us, too, we'd love to hear from you, @Christi_Paul, and @VictorBlackwell. We hope you make good memories.

BLACKWELL: There is much more ahead in the next hour of CNN's Newsroom. Martin Savidge is in for Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom continues after a break.

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