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Trump: I Don't Know If I Can Stop "Send Her Back" Chant; House Dems Nearing Majority In Favor Of Impeachment Inquiry; U.S. To Test New Missile To Counter Russian Aggression In Europe; Trump Orders Medals Stripped From Navy Lawyers Who Tried Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher On Murder Charges; KY Miners Stranded Without Pay, Block Train Demanding Money From Bankrupt Company. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 16:30   ET


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump adding: We will grow bigger, better and stronger together, strangely mimicking Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan.

[16:30:05] HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We are stronger when we grow together.

PHILLIP: It was an unusually mild response from Trump who on the first night of the debates quoted Louisiana Republican John Kennedy, calling Democrats socialists.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.

PHILLIP: Tonight's Ohio rally is Trump's first time back on the campaign trail since this chant sparked by partisan condemnation.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

PHILLIP: That coming days after Trump singed out Somali-born American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and three U.S.-born lawmakers of color, saying they should return to the countries from which they came.

One Ohio Republican lawmaker nervous at the chant will make another appearance tonight. Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio telling "The Associated Press", I would discourage the crowd from doing anything appropriate. And I think saying something like that would be inappropriate.

Back in Washington, the Senate approving a massive compromise budget deal, but even with the president's backing, 23 Republicans objected, saying it fails to rein in government spending.

Republican leaders insisting the compromise was necessary.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): By passing this funding agreement, we are avoiding the possibility of government shutdown again this fall.


PHILLIP: And President Trump made another big piece of news today when he announced that he will, in fact, place a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods depending on September 1st.

Jake, this is the latest sign that those talks with the Chinese are not going particularly well, they have stalled, especially even after President Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, in June. Those tariffs are set to go into place next month and they have already spooked Wall Street as fears that the trade war is nowhere near an end -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Abby Phillip at the White House, thanks so much.

Tonight's Trump rally was particularly ugly, a reference to a -- she fled as a child, as a refugee. Ohio Congressman, Republican Steve Chabot, said, if the chant happens again, quote, I would hope the president would silence the crowd, tell them, hey, don't do that. There's no place for that. It's not helpful, it's not right.

What are the odds you think that he's going to say that, Amanda?


Listen, President Trump opened up the Pandora's box of racism during the 2016 election, talking about Judge Curiel, David Duke, and he's not in control of this thing anymore. It's how we ended up with something like Charlottesville and had to make an asinine comment about there's good people on both sides. Because those are the people -- not all -- some of the loyal base that shows up to these rallies.

So, to me, the more interesting question isn't how Donald Trump reacts. It's how he's being led around by the nose by the worst elements in this country.

TAPPER: So, you really -- you think he doesn't have control anymore. Do you agree?

MEHDI HASAN, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE INTERCEPT: I kind of do and don't. I think he gets led by lots of people, but he's clearly inciting this stuff. This is stuff that he's doing deliberately. His advisers briefing "The Washington Post", this is part of the strategy to get the base out. It's disgusting. He knows what he's doing when he's tweeting about these four American citizens, three of them born in this country, saying they should go back to the crime infested places from which they come, using the word infestation always in relations to people of color.

I hope, I hope the debate is over amongst politicians and media is over about Trump's racism. The most recent remarks are the most racist ones. You know, telling people to go back where they came from is the literal example of racism as experienced by those of us who grow up listening to that chant.

So, this rally is going to be depressing. It's another hate rally. He's not going to control the crowd. He's the one inciting the crowd. Remember the 13 seconds he took.

And I just think, you know, there have been studies done showing correlations between hate crimes going up in counties where these rallies are being held. And we know that white nationalist groups are being emboldened by this rhetoric. It's deeply worrying. Jay Inslee's line at the debate that we cannot tolerate a white nationalist in the White House is probably the most important on the debate.

TAPPER: And question always is, why not just talk about the economy? Why not just talk about the things you're succeeding? I understand. But -- I mean, it's true, telling something of color to go back where you came from, especially -- I mean, even if they came from other country is racist, but especially people who were from this country. Why is he doing it?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He can't help himself. He wants to attack those going after him, so he's going to continue to do that. But it's also this uncanny ability that his attacks end up elevating the very people he wants to make the head of the Democratic Party, the face of the Democratic Party.

So, it works for him on two levels, sort of like emotional and strategic thing, even though it's not actually a strategy. I don't think it's actually a strategy. It's more of just his need to lash out.

But there's a chance tonight -- he did back off of this, suggesting he sees it a bit as a liability, at least, because he doesn't always back off of this disgusting stuff, right?

[19:35:05] So, there's a chance he goes in a different direction. He just goes on the debate performances. We can hope.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

Paul, have you first on the next panel.

Democrats in the House just two lawmakers away from reaching a crucial milestone. We'll explain what it is next. Stay with us.



MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even if majority of your caucus wants to go forward an impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's not even close in our caucus.

RAJU: But eventually --

PELOSI: You know, why are we speculating on hypotheticals?


TAPPER: That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi less than two months ago talking to my colleague Manu Raju, when the thought of the majority of Democrats wanting an impeachment inquiry seemed at least to far- fetched?

[16:40:04] But today, that hypothetical is looking more and more likely, with CNN counting 116 Democratic lawmakers are now in favor, just two shy of a majority of House Democrats. There are 235 House Democrats.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Manu, with your Nostradamus-like abilities of predicting the future, if two more House Democrats come out in favor of impeachment proceedings, what happens next?

RAJU: Well, the pressure is going to intensify on the House speaker who currently wants to continue to pursue their course of action was to fight the matters in court. Now, Speaker Pelosi did bless language that was in the lawsuit filed by the House Judiciary Committee last week, saying that articles of impeachment are under consideration, is part of that committee's investigation, that lawsuits trying to get the underlying grand jury evidence from the Mueller probe.

Now, the speaker -- the leader of that committee, Jerry Nadler, has essential said that what they're doing is similar, if not the same as an informal impeachment inquiry, but more and more members are calling for at least formal proceedings to begin, whether those front line Democrats, those most vulnerable House Democrats, ones who won Trump districts, if they start to break, that could force a speaker's hand. Right now, some have started to call for an impeachment inquiry.

And, Jake, today, I asked the speaker whether or not she will change her position because they're reaching that majority threshold. She declined to comment, said that she would soon put a statement, Jake.

TAPPER: And the election is only 15 months away, of course. Impeachment proceedings don't happen overnight. Is impeachment at this point with the election only 15 months away, is that even a realistic goal?

RAJU: Well, some are worried that people are pushing impeachment, that it's not because that window is closing. And the debate, it continues within the caucus, some like Pelosi arguing that Trump is trying to goad their party into impeachment so the Senate will ultimately acquit him and he can campaign on it. But others are saying if the House doesn't impeach, the president will campaign that Democrats didn't have enough evidence to go forward. So, that debate will continue behind closed doors.

And we'll see what lawmakers here when they're back home during the August recess -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, something is about to happen that's not happened since the Soviet Union was in its death throes. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:45:00] TAPPER: A CNN exclusive in our "WORLD LEAD" now. Defense officials are confirming that the United States military is preparing to test a new non-nuclear missile specifically they say to counter Russian aggression. This comes as tomorrow could mark the end of a 30-year-old landmark nuclear agreement known as the INF treaty.

The Obama and Trump administrations have both repeatedly accused Moscow of violating that agreement. And as CNN's Barbara Starr reports, it's all sparking fears of renewed modern-day arms race.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This is the Russian missile, the U.S. says led to the demise of a critical Cold War, U.S.- Soviet Arms Control Treaty. And new this hour, CNN has learned that the U.S. military is set to test a new non-nuclear mobile lunch cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Russia in Europe according to a senior us defense official. Details of this new weapon are scanned as it is just entering the test phase.

This comes as the U.S. is expected to formally withdraw tomorrow from the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.

STARR: It's one of the few areas where the Trump and Obama administrations agree.

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: Russia has cheated or is cheating on treaties. I gave the Obama administration high marks for calling them out and trying to work this.

STARR: The U.S. has long claimed Russia was in violation when it built and deployed this new ground-launched missile. Defense officials say Russia has deployed multiple battalions on a rapidly moving mobile lunch vehicles that US intelligence may find difficult to detect.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The threat is not American withdraw from the INF treaty, the threat as the Russian missiles already before us.

STARR: If war breaks out, the Russians could target European port, cities, and critical military and civilian infrastructure according to U.S. officials. This new U.S. missile aim to deter those Russian threats, but could also be used against China in a crisis.

ESPER: We obviously need to prepare our air missile defenses to defeat those intermediate-range missiles. But then the other part is to make sure that we develop our own conventional high enough range missiles to deal not just with Russia, but China.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STARR: Now the U.S. still has to get European nations to agree to take the American missiles on their territory, but nations like Poland that are nervous about next-door Russia just might do it. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much. Joining me now to discuss this is retired Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby who served as Pentagon Press Secretary under President Obama. Admiral, thanks for joining.

The U.S. claims that Russia has continually violated the INF, that the INF treaty is outdated, it doesn't factor in China or other nuclear world powers. But I want you to take a listen to former Secretary of State Colin Powell who told me in December that would be a mistake withdraw.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: The Soviet have been cheating on the INF treaty so let's get out of the INF Treaty. Good, you do that. Guess what? The Soviets aren't cheating anymore because there's no treaty to cheat. It doesn't make any sense.


TAPPER: What do you think?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: He makes a good point. I mean, it just -- it just frees Vladimir Putin up to continue to develop these weapons and maybe even at an accelerated rate now because he's already given the belief that the United States is now going to be non-compliant and developing their own systems.

[16:50:13] TAPPER: And we hear claims of modern-day nuclear arms race potentially breaking out because of this. Do you see that happening?

KIRBY: I'm worried, Jake, that there's nothing in place in it. I think the people that say there could be an arms race have a point because I've heard nothing from the Trump administration about what to replace the INF with, or simply pulling out of it, giving again Russia and China free reign to continue to develop these weapons systems, and to be more worried about what we're doing in return.

TAPPER: But is there any reason to think that there would be any movement towards a comprehensive worldwide arms treaty of some sort with, you know, taking the time, not just Russia, but China and others?

KIRBY: Well, you don't know until you try and that's the whole art of diplomacy. And I don't see any effort by this administration to try to sit down at the table and try to negotiate those kinds of agreements.

The other thing, Jake is, in order to make these kinds of weapons systems valuable, you have to have basing. You have to have basing in Europe, and you're going to have basing in the Asia-Pacific Theater, which means any country basing them is going to become a preemptive threat or a victim of a preemptive threat.

TAPPER: So I want to ask you, as long as I have you here. You're a Navy man. President Trump ordered medals rescinded from the Navy prosecutors who unsuccessfully tried SEAL Team Leader Eddie Gallagher who was charged with murdering a teenage ISIS detainee.

The President tweeted, "The prosecutors who lost the case against seal Eddie Gallagher who I released from solitary confinement so he could fight this case properly were ridiculously given the Navy Achievement Medal. Not only did they lose the case, they had difficulty with respect information that may have been obtained from opposing lawyers and for giving immunity in a totally incompetent fashion."

The President's obviously expressing support for Gallagher and his family as well. What do you make of this decision to rescind the medals?

KIRBY: I think it's petty, mean spirited. I think it's small. I think it's pity to the president. Look, he has every right to do that. He's the commander in chief. He can get involved in this. I've never seen that happen at a lower level like this but he's casting dispersions against everybody who worked on the case.

I can understand the concern over perhaps the prosecutors because the prosecutors didn't exactly crown themselves in glory. It's a little weird to me that the Navy legal leadership would have this ceremony in such a public way and ostentatious way.

But some of those medals and letters that he rescinded went to junior enlisted personnel that were simply doing clerical work in trying to help the prosecution team do their jobs better. He didn't need to do such a blanket repudiation and get involved in that way.

TAPPER: Do you think they should have gotten the medals that the head -- that the elite people that got medal as a prosecutor?

KIRBY: I think it's a fair question to ask that, Jake. I haven't seen those citations enough to know, certainly but I think it's a fair question to ask whether the lawyers -- because the prosecution team was reprimanded by the judge, the lead prosecutor was fired for warrantless surveillance.

So there's a legitimate question about whether or not these lawyers should have been given a reward at the end of the case -- oh, by the way, that they lost.

TAPPER: Right. All right, Admiral Kirby, always good to see you. Thank you, sir. They say they got the shaft and now a group of coal miners are blocking the train tracks until they get their back pay. President Trump will not be far from the standoff tonight. Stay with us.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back. In our "NATIONAL LEAD" today, miners in the heart of Trump country on a standoff literally with a coal company that unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy leaving 400 workers without pay. Some of those workers have been sitting on the railroad tracks for days blocking a train carrying the coal. And as soon as Alexandra Field reports, they say they will not leave until they get paid.


SHANE SMITH, COAL MINER: They didn't pay our 401k in, they didn't pay our child support in, and our last checks bounced. We want our money.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miners in Kentucky are taken to the tracks blocking the coal they've collected from shipping out until they're paid their due.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We worked for it, we earned it, and we deserve it. And that's why we're standing here today and we're going nowhere until we find out if we're going to get it.

FIELD: Once the nation's six largest coal producers, Black Jewel and its parent company lock their gates July 1st, filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy without warning its workers, leaving them without a paycheck for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been rough for the last month because I had no money coming in.

FIELD: CNN affiliate WYMT confirms Black Jewels former CEO sent an apology letter to employees saying he accepts responsibility for the company's downfall, adding, he had tried to get a loan to cover employee pay.

Now, WYMT reports Black Jewel is auctioning off its mines in Wyoming, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky through bankruptcy court. All but Virginia voted for President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're putting our miners back to work like never before. They're going back, back, back.

FIELD: Now, miners say they need his support more than ever. Neither Black Jewel nor its parent company have responded to request for comment. But if their coal mines aren't auctioned successfully, these families will have to find a new way to make ends meet.

CHRIS ROWE, COAL MINER: A coal miner is a very tough, strong man, but when it comes to your kids, you're going to break. And not be able to provide for him or get for him or anything like that, that hurts.

FIELDS: Alexandra Field, CNN New York.


TAPPER: You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at Jake Tapper or you can tweet the show at the lead CNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

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