Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Withdraws from Nuclear Treaty with Russia; U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Russia over Chemical Weapons Attack on Spy & Daughter; China Threatens to Retaliate after Trump Tariff Threat; As Fed Chair Cuts Interest Rate, Trump Adds More Tariffs on China; GOP Rep. Will Hurd to Retire, Becoming 9th Republican to Leave Congress; NYPD Delivers Recommendation that Officer Involved in Eric Garner's Death Should Be Fired. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:16] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

It was a landmark agreement, one of the cornerstones of the post-Cold War era. More than 30 years after Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the historic nuclear pact known as the INF, the Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Trump administration has now officially and formally withdrawn from it.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making the announcement this morning, accusing Russia in his announcement of long being in violation of the agreement, saying in the announcement, this, quote, "Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise."

What does this mean for the world, for the president's relationship with Vladimir Putin? We're going to get to that in a moment.

There's more. President Trump has now hit Moscow with new sanctions for the attack last year on a former Russia spy. You might remember Sergei Skripal and his daughter, they were poisoned. Russian agents were accused of using a nerve agent. The Kremlin has denied it.

With all of this happening, we now find out that the president spoke with Vladimir Putin on a call this week. So did they hash this all out?

Here's Trump's readout of the call.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spoke with President Putin of Russia yesterday. They're having massive fires in their forests. They have tremendous -- I've never seen anything like it. It's very big. I just offered our assistance because we're very good at putting out forest fires, frankly.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House and he's joining me now.

Jeremy, what are you hearing about all of this today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Kate, the U.S. today has officially withdrawn from the treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, also known as the INF.

And now senior administration officials are telling us that the U.S. could be just weeks ago from its first test of a missile that was previously banned under this treaty. The treaty prohibited the testing and deployment of certain intermediate-range ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles. And it was viewed as a key deterrent between the United States and Russia and formerly the Soviet Union, a key deterrent to nuclear war.

Now there's a risk of heightened tensions as a result of this.

But this comes, of course, after years of the United States warning Russia that it was violating this treaty. Even the Obama administration previously accused Russia of violating the treaty and sought to bring it back into compliance.

Today's withdrawal comes six months after the Trump administration gave Russia an ultimatum to get back into compliance with the treaty or that the United States would withdraw. And that now happened.

This is not the only issue happening right now on the front between the United States and Russia. The United States also yesterday imposing new sanctions at Russia over the poisoning of that former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, in a nerve agent attack that took place in the United Kingdom.

And all of this comes right after the United States, President Trump and President Putin spoke on Wednesday over the phone. Questions about whether or not they discussed any of these matters that the president of the United States was preparing to impose both this new round of sanctions over the Skripal poisoning, as well as this withdrawal from the INF Treaty.

The White House in its readout of the statement and the president in his comments suggested that he was merely calling about the forest fires that are taking place in Siberia, as well as trade issues. The White House, so far, has not responded to our requests asking about anything else was discussed in particular in the latest tensions between the U.S. and Russia -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jeremy, let us know if that changes.

Great to see you. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Joining me right now is CNN global affairs analyst and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot.

Great to see you, Max. Thanks for being here.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thanks for having me. BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the treaty. What is the significance of getting out of this treaty?

Let me just read for our viewers a statement that came from the U.N. Secretary general about this: "The world will lose an invaluable break on nuclear war. This will likely heighten, not reduce the threat posed by ballistic missiles."

Do you think this necessarily leads to an arms race?

BOOT: I don't think that's the case, Kate. I think the INF Treaty is, in a lot of ways, outdated because it does not cover China. China is building a lot of intermediate missiles. And that's a threat the U.S. has responded to. And Russia has been cheating for years, no question. This is not fake intelligence made up by Trump. This is something the Obama administration said.

So I'm generally pretty critical of the Trump administration but, in this case, I think they have a reasonable case for getting out of this treaty. The real question is, why aren't they doing more to confront Russia in other areas, particularly on election interference.

BOLDUAN: Do you think this could be an effective scare tactic to get them back to the table, to get them to come back in compliance of what the point of this agreement was about?

[11:05:10] BOOT: That may be the case or maybe the U.S. just wants to end the limits because we want to respond to the Chinese intermediate missile buildup.

But, again, I don't think this is the major issue between the U.S. and Russia right now because no one really thinks that the Russians are going to attack us with missiles. The way they're attacking us, as we know, is by undermining the integrity of our election system.

BOLDUAN: It's just a juxtaposition, if you will. You have confronting aggression with pulling out, making a bold statement on we're not going to let you go any more in this lane. We're going to put sanctions on you for this attack. And then silence, relative silence, as you say, on another front. What is the effect of all of that together?

BOOT: It's incoherent, Kate. As the Trump administration's policy is on many areas, it's incoherence times 10 in the case of Russia because they've done a few tough things and you can see pulling out of this treaty is a tough thing.

They've imposed some more sanctions on Russia, because of the Skripal case, but very limited, ineffectual sanctions really with a congressional gun to their head because this was mandated by legislation, which they've been ignoring for a year.

But yesterday, real outrage, you had Donald Trump saying that he doesn't believe the Russians are still attacking us, which is something that Robert Mueller testified to before Congress. So this is kind of like they're barring the third-floor window but

they're leaving the front door wide open because this is the number- one way the Russians are attacking us. And Trump seems determined to ignore it. And you wonder if he's hoping, once again, in 2020 to benefit from Russian interference the way he did in 2016.

BOLDUAN: That's such a good way of putting it.

Maybe it's small or big, but I'm just curious on this call between Trump and Vladimir Putin. They say it was only about wildfires. And I do not want to diminish the severity of the wildfires, because it is an incredible tragedy that's been going on for months. But do you think it is credible that wouldn't -- what is your take, that we wouldn't discuss the INF Treaty at a minimum because this deadline has been looming for a long time?

BOOT: It's not credible. Maybe Donald Trump gave his advice on raking the forest to Vladimir Putin, which is the advice he gave to California officials.


BOOT: But you can't take at face value anything this administration says about Russia because of their record of mendacity and the way that Trump has tried to conceal his dealings with Putin, even going to far as to confiscate a translator's notes.

As usual, this phone call we found out about because the Russians told us about it, not the White House.

Remember, The White House has a way of putting out these cover stories like when the Trump campaign was meeting with the Russian envoy for oppo about Hillary Clinton, which was supposedly about adoptions. This phone call was supposedly about forest fires.

In fact, my surmise -- we don't know, but my surmise would be the timing of this, the fact that it happened the day before Trump imposed these very limited and ineffectual sanctions. My surmise would be that he's telling Putin, don't worry about this. I have to do this, Congress is forcing my hand, but I want to have a great relationship, yada, yada, yada. That would be my guess. But we don't know.


BOLDUAN: We only get that readout.

BOOT: Exactly. And you can't trust the White House readouts. And just the record of lying and concealing, just leads to greater suspicions.

And we still -- despite the Mueller investigation, we still don't know the full story of Donald Trump's links with Russia. We don't know what's happened with the counterintelligence investigation, which Mueller told us is still ongoing.

(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: You make an important point. With this news comes an important reminder of not losing sight of ongoing interference and of an ongoing threat from Russia right now, that folks need to continue to keep their eye on the prize on that, even if the barn door is wide open.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thanks very much.

BOOT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

This isn't the only international crisis that President Trump is facing this morning. China is now threatening to retaliate after the president announced yesterday a new escalation in his ongoing trade war with Beijing. A 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imparts. That's on top of the 25 percent tariff already in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese products.

Here's what the president had to say about it yesterday.


TRUMP: When my people came home, they said, we're talking, we have another meeting in early September. I said that's fine but, in the meantime, until such time as there's a deal, we'll be taxing them.


BOLDUAN: So in effect, next month, there's going to be a tax on all Chinese goods coming into the United States, from tech to toys to shoes.

The president continues to claim without any factual basis that this is all being paid for by China. Reports from his own administration contradict that claim. So what will the impact be?

Joining me right now is Neil Irwin. He's a senior economic correspondent for the "New York Times."

[11:10:01] Neil, thanks for being here.


BOLDUAN: So this is round -- god knows what when it comes to China on the trade war. What is the impact of the latest, the 10 percent tariff on $300 billion?

IRWIN: I think the key thing to know is that these aren't individual. They're cumulative. It's not just the 10 percent on $300 billion. That's $30 billion if you do the simple math on a $20 trillion economy. But this comes on top of, as you say, taxes on the existing 25 percent

tariffs on $250 billion, tariffs on steel and aluminum, trade tensions with Europe, Japan, Mexico. And all of that is creating a real damper on business.

If you're in any kind of manufacturing industry or any kind of U.S. exporter, you have retaliation and you're dealing with higher goods for the goods you import. We're seeing that in the numbers, in the jobs numbers, and we're seeing that in corporate earnings reports.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about more of the impact. The Fed chair said this week that in announcing the interest cut, it was responding to global trade tension. And then the president makes this move a day later. I wonder what now. Does this erase all the breathing room the Fed was trying to give this economy?

IRWIN: I think we have this weird circularity that's happening where the trade wars slow the economy, slow the world economy, the Fed reacts by lowering rates that gets things back on track, that helps boost the stock market. And then Trump is getting what he wants. He's getting a booming stock market and rate cuts. So now rinse and repeat, we're doing it again.

I don't know how that ends. It's a very strange kind of odd scenario where these things impact each other that don't normally have much to do with each other.

BOLDUAN: The uncertainty is why everyone is on the same ride waiting to see how this really turns out.

The president in the middle of all of this continues to try and spin this as a win for consumers.

I want to play once again what he said just yesterday about this. Listen.


TRUMP: We're taking in many billions of dollars. There's been absolutely no inflation. And frankly, it hasn't cost our consumer anything. It costs China.


BOLDUAN: You study this closer than most. Does his claim get any more true the longer he repeats it?

IRWIN: I would say it's kind of the opposite. The previous rounds of tariffs have been mainly on what are called intermediate goods, meaning things that other businesses buy and use in their production processes.

Expanding this $300 billion round of tariffs on China, when it goes into effect, that is capturing more consumer goods, so things like furniture and consumer goods you might buy at the store. So that's going to show up in either higher prices for those goods or companies having to source elsewhere, which raises their cost and also results in higher prices.

We don't know how much or at what pace, but if this keeps expanding and keeps escalating, there's no way it doesn't start to pinch American's wallets at some point.

BOLDUAN: And there's no agreement in the offing. They're still talking, but the agreement, there's no idea of when an agreement could be coming.

It's great to see you, Neil. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your reporting.

IRWIN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, the only black Republican in the House of Representatives just announced he's calling it quits. And this is after Congressman Will Hurd had declared that he's the face of the future of his party. What changed?

Plus, a heartbreaking tragedy for one of America's most famous families. What we're learning now about the death of Robert Kennedy's granddaughter at the Kennedy family compound.


[11:18:16] BOLDUAN: The Republican Party has a personnel problem. Texas Congressman Will Hurd, the lone black Republican in the House of Representatives, just announced he will not be seeking reelection. His retirement was anything but expected. Just two weeks ago, he was telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he was the face of the future of the party.


REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Look, I'm the only black Republican in the House of Representatives. I go into communities that most Republicans don't show up in order to take a conservative message.

I always say if the Republican Party in Texas doesn't start looking like Texas, there won't be a Republican Party in Texas. And I think that goes for the rest of the country.

What I can say, I'm the face of the future Republican Party.


BOLDUAN: But that's not all. Hurd is now the ninth Republican to announce that he's going to be out. It's been something of a Republican exodus in just a last week-plus. Before Hurd, Mike Conaway announced that he's retiring on Wednesday. Utah Representative Rob Bishop announced the same Monday. Then Alabama's Martha Roby announced, Pete Olson, of Texas, last Thursday. , Paul Mitchell of Michigan, one day before that. That's just the past couple of weeks. By comparison, only two Democrats have announced retirement.

And it's not just the number. It's who is retiring and why that deserves attention.

Here now to discuss, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent and former Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, both CNN political commentators.

Thanks for being here. Really appreciate it.

Congressman Dent, are you surprised by Hurd's announcement? What do you make of it?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not surprised, but this is devastating for Republicans. Will Hurd is one of three House Republicans who represents a district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Brian Fitzpatrick and John Katko being the other.

[11:20:05] And I'll tell you, if the Republicans have any hope at all of picking up some seats in the 2020 election, they're going to need people like Will Hurd because that seat is now gone.

If they need to pick up 17 or 18 seats. Well, guess what? The task just got harder, much harder.

You also have Pete Olson. His seat is at great risk for Republicans. And a guy like Mike Conaway, who announced the other day. His seat will go Republicans but he's a very thoughtful, measured member and very respected. He's going to be replaced by somebody wearing a MAGA hat probably. That's what's going to happen.

This is very news for Republicans. Susan Brooks' seat, they're going to have to spend money on that one. Paul Mitchell. This is devastating. There's no good news.

And Will is a great friend. To 72 percent of Hispanics -- I'm sure he's very frustrated having to answer questions when the president attacks people of color. And then here it is, an African-American Republican with a 71 percent Hispanic district. This must grate on him personally to have to respond --


BOLDUAN: You know that personally because having to answer for the president on things that he says and does is something that you and I have talked about a lot since you announced your retirement, being part of your decision was how grating and exhausting it can be when some members, surprisingly, shockingly, would like to focus on legislating and policy.

Congressman Gutierrez, his retiring, Hurd's retirement means now that Senator Tim Scott will be the only black Republican in the entire Congress.

My friend at "Politico" also smartly pointed this out this morning and it really caught my eye. There are now more Republican members of the House named Jim than there are women Republicans running for reelection.

You're not in the business of giving Republicans advice, but how do you spin that?

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is part of the whiting and the shrinking of the Republican Party. And really it looms disastrous for them in the future.

This was - yes, he was a Republican. He was black. He was also young. I think he's 41 years old. So in political terms, he's in his adolescence. He has a whole life ahead of him. And I hope he finds another way to show public service.

And it demonstrates something under Donald Trump, right? How do people like Will Hurd survive?

Now, he was the lone black Republican. We know that Mia Love, who works with us now as a commentator, right, was the first black woman Republican elected to the Congress of the United States. Gone. And I believe, in great measure, because Donald Trump is president of the United States.

And if you don't agree with me, just listen to Donald Trump after she lost. What did he say? I'm going to help you get back the next time. He said, you didn't show me enough love. You didn't like me enough, right? You didn't support me enough. That's why you went down.

No, President Trump, you're destroying your own party and you're reducing your own party and that's why I think the future looks so bad.

Here's the other thing, is that they have a problem with minorities, but they also have a problem with women. So how is it that you build a coalition into the future so that you have a national presence as a party.


GUTIERREZ: -- bipartisanship in the United States of America --


BOLDUAN: Just a second, Congressman Gutierrez, because that's also a problem with Democrats, with this personnel problem on the right.

Congressman Dent, when you take this in combination with how many Republican retirements there were no 2018, who can stop the bleeding? What do you think the future fix is here for your party?

DENT: The future fix for the party is to become a party that is going to become more inclusive. We have to make the party more welcoming to people. This is not a club. Politics is an exercise of inclusion, not exclusion, addition, not subtraction.

And unfortunately, during the Trump era, the party has really just doubled down on its base, playing to the shrillest elements of the base and not really trying to find ways to expand.

As Luis just said, losing Mia Love and Carlos Curbelo in the last election I thought was also devastating. And not just that they lost, but then the way the president treated them. Mia Love didn't show me enough love. Carlos Curbelo didn't warm up to me enough. These were two of the most articulate voices for Republicans who were people of color and they're gone and the president ridiculed them.

So the bottom line is, unless the party is going to start making serious outreaches to those in the Hispanic and the Asian communities and the African-American communities, we're going to be in a lot of trouble. We can't simply double down on guys who look like me.

[11:25:01] BOLDUAN: Congressman, Gutierrez, Will Hurd is a conservative. He's also, though, someone who would speak out against the president, would stand up to things that the president said and, at times, would buck the party and vote on a bipartisan way and vote with Democrats.

I do wonder, when you talk about bipartisanship, what does this mean, this kind of shift that's happening with these retirements, what does it mean for Democrats when lawmakers like this are the ones leaving more and more?

GUTIERREZ: Well, first of all, I want to say I agree with my former colleague, the seat is going to go Democrat. You and I can come back and review this tape, Kate, after the November election of 2020.

But, look, bipartisanship is something that is celebrated, right, and everybody applauds it, but it's seldom rewarded. And under Donald Trump, he's made it impossible.

I remember a few short years ago being in Chicago with Speaker Ryan, talking about comprehensive immigration reform, and working with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because, in the end, real big things like immigration reform and health care, you're really going to have to reach across the other side of the aisle if you're going to make them possible. But it's seldom rewarded, unfortunately.

And what I have to say is, look, Will Hurd took a trip. Remember the trip he took with Beto O'Rourke, 1,600 miles, they missed their plane? They tried to work together. But Donald Trump is making it impossible because, in the end, yes, he was a Republican, yes, he was a conservative, but he was also a black man. And he made it impossible for him to be able to get reelected, a black man, a Republican, winning in a super majority Hispanic district.

You would think the party would want to promote and help and solidify his position. They did everything they could, especially the president, to undercut because he's thoughtful and careful and because he's a patriot.

And you can disagree with people like Will Hurd, but you cannot disagree with their sense of patriotism and their sense of commitment to making America a better place for all of us to live.

BOLDUAN: One thing we do know, we have heard from Will Hurd, is that he is looking forward to running at some point again for another elected office. Let us see when that is and what the office is. We have not heard the last from Will Hurd.

It's great to have you guys here.

Thank you so much.

DENT: Thanks, Kate.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

We are getting some breaking news that was just handed to me, just coming in. An NYPD official is announcing her recommendation for the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.

Let me get over right now to Shimon Prokupecz. He's got the very latest on this.

Shimon, what are you hearing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: This is big news here certainly for the Garner family. This is something that they've been waiting to hear for really five years, when you think about it.

And word now, we're told by officials, is that the NYPD judge who oversaw the internal hearing for the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, after a six-day trial, has recommended that he be terminated, that the police commissioner fire Daniel Pantaleo.

And that is really the next step here. What will the police commissioner do? Will he fire the officer after these recommendations from the NYPD department?

This trial, this judge is a deputy commissioner, Rosemary Maldonado, she oversaw the six-day trial. Heard testimony, saw evidence, and now has recommended that the officer be terminated, be fired from the police department.

It is up to the police commissioner now, and that is very important for folks to understand, what the ultimate outcome is.

And from what I'm told is that the NYPD commissioner, James O'Neill, is expected to follow her recommendations. When that will happen is unclear. It is expected that he's going to move pretty swiftly, so they could hear something within the next 10 days.

There's a process for the officer involved. His attorneys, they get to sort of appeal. They can appeal this decision to the police commissioner. They can submit briefs and argue to him why it is that the officer should not be terminated.

And one other point for the officer, and that is his pension. Will he be allowed to keep his pension if the police commissioner terminates him? The commissioner can decide to also take away his pension. That is a severe consequence in all of this. And it hasn't been done often, but it is done in some cases. And that would be the ultimate punishment here as well for this officer.

So if, in the end, the police commissioner decides to fire him, he would lose his job, but then he could also lose his pension.

But all of this is still up in the air. And we should have word probably in the next 10 days.

But I think this will be a huge relief for the Garner family and for folks who have been seeking justice in this case.

[11:30:04] BOLDUAN: Right. As you have pointed out many a time, this isn't just about something that happened in New York.


BOLDUAN: This is a death in a case that captured the nation --