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U.S. Withdraws From Nuclear Treaty With Russia; U.S. Prepares to Withdraw Thousands of Troops From Afghanistan; China Threatens to Retaliate After Trump Tariff Threat; Marianne Williamson (D) is Interviewed About Her Statements on Antidepressants. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:23] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone.

We do begin with breaking news for you, because Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, has just announced that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the INF treaty.

This treaty has obviously been in effect for decades, since the '80s. This was supposed to help with the Cold War era. It was a nuclear deal, and it banned intermediate-range missiles, weapons with a range of up to about 3,000 miles.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Russia is, quote, "solely responsible" for this treaty's demise and why the U.S. is pulling out.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Watching very closely. We might hear from the secretary of state any minute now.

Also breaking this morning, a major development in America's longest running war. CNN has learned that the U.S. is preparing for a dramatic troop reduction in Afghanistan, hoping to bring back thousands of service members in the coming months. Sources tell CNN the Trump administration has already begun scaling back personnel at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan.

Let's get straight to CNN's Kylie Atwood, live in Washington.

Kylie, INF treaty is one of the most significant nuclear arms deals of the 20th Century, and as of just a few moments ago, it's dead. Explain.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right. So Secretary Pompeo coming out this morning and saying what we expected, which is that the U.S. has now officially withdrawn from that treaty.

Six months ago, the U.S. told Russia that, if they did not come back into compliance with this treaty, that the U.S. would be departing it. That's what they have officially done today. Because Russia has not been complying with the treaty for years now. And those -- those actions date back to the Obama administration, which also called out Russia for deploying these missiles that were forbidden by the treaty across Russia.

Now, what the U.S. is allowed to do now is start testing and developing those -- those missiles which are built so that they can challenge Russia in this space. They're not going to be deploying those missiles for a number of years, senior administration officials tell us.

But the fear now is that this triggers an arms race. The U.S. says it is Russia's fault. Russia is denying that they are not complying with the treaty. So we are getting into some pretty dangerous territory here.

The other news this morning is that we are the first to report that the U.S. is seeking to draw down half of the footprint, the personnel footprint at its Afghanistan embassy. It is the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

And the Trump administration wants to get out of the war in Afghanistan. They see cutting their footprint at the embassy as one of the ways that they can do this.

But this comes at a very pivotal moment as the U.S. is also hoping to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. We know that the primary U.S. negotiator with the Taliban is meeting with the Taliban again just this week in Doha. And the U.S. is hoping that, if those negotiations are successful, they could reduce their troop levels in Afghanistan from 15,000 to between 8,000 and 9,000 in the coming months -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Kylie Atwood, thank you so much for all of this international breaking news. We'll have much more on it.

We also have more breaking news at the moment, because China is threatening to retaliate after President Trump announced that he will impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. Global markets are down sharply on the news.

CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, joins us now with the details.

Christine, what do we know?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there.

Yes, those are significant moves. Two percent moves mean markets are really spooked here. Tariff man is back, re-igniting this trade war with China. Investors around the world unhappy about this news.

You can see those London, Paris, Frankfurt, all the European markets have opened sharply lower following -- they're not closed, but the European markets' declines.

And on Wall Street, futures are leaning lower here a little bit this morning. Look, yesterday the president said he would slap 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting next month. That effectively, taxes all Chinese goods coming into the U.S. As he has said many times before, he falsely claimed this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's simply not true. Studies show that consumers, not China or other foreign importers, are bearing the weight of these tariffs.

Now, these new tariffs will hit tech particularly hard. Goods like iPhones and other consumer electronics will be taxed. It'll also affect things like sneakers and toys. About 85 percent of the toys sold in the U.S. come from China, and until now, they had not been taxed.

Business groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they're against these new tariffs. Obviously, they say they're only going to hurt consumers and undermine the health of the economy.

And new this morning, the reaction from China. A spokeswoman at China's foreign ministry said China doesn't want a trade war, but it isn't afraid of fighting one, saying that they will take the necessary countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the U.S. -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: China may not want a trade war, but it's in one right now. That's for sure. Christine Romans, thank you very much.

Joining us to discuss all the breaking news this morning, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator; Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary for President Clinton; and Catherine Rampell, "Washington Post" opinion columnist.

Joe, I just want to start with you. The INF treaty, and we just saw Mike Pompeo, who is in Asia in Bangkok right now. He did not speak on this major development, but the INF treaty, one of the most significant arms deals of the 20th Century.

It banned and just completely destroyed an entire class of weaponry. This is missiles that have a range of up to about 3,400 miles. The effect was to take them all out of Europe, a milestone in nuclear arms reduction.

But you will hear from experts on both sides of the aisle, Joe, it had run its course. And Russia was cheating. China wasn't included. It just didn't apply to today. Is this something that makes the world more dangerous this morning, Joe?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it clearly does. And I think it follows a pattern that the Trump administration has followed since the beginning, which is taking things that are imperfect, ripping them up without an alternative. You know, we saw that with the Iran agreement. We saw that with the Paris climate change agreement. We saw that, the attempt with Obamacare and, you know, repeal and replace.

It's one thing to do the symbolic and political thing to throw something out that is not working perfectly. But they're not doing the hard work to replace it with anything.

So yes, we are in a more dangerous place. Yes, the Russians were cheating based on, I think, most experts. But the reality is you've got to get in and do the work to make sure that they do comply. And not just, you know, get up and give a speech about how tough you are without a replacement. So you know, we are in a more dangerous place today.

CAMEROTA: Errol, it sounds like the Obama administration had tried to approach Russia about this to see why they were cheating or to negotiate something. The Trump administration had tried before this, I think, and so how, you know, are Americans -- how worried should Americans feel this morning?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, those who remember the Cold War should be very worried. Because the -- the basics of that problem, of that conundrum, you know, are sort of reassembling themselves.

You know, what will happen if there are more incursions of the kind that we've already seen in Ukraine? What will the United States, what will the western allies do? What will NATO do?

We have troops there. We have interests there. We have a huge part of our economy connected to what goes on in Europe. It's not something you can just turn your back on and say, "Well, they'll have to figure this out on their own if Russia wants to misbehave."

And so you know, there are no easy solutions. There are no good solutions. It has bedeviled one administration after another. This administration has prided itself on what they call principled realism. You know, we hear a lot about the realism. We haven't seen too much standing up for principle, though. And when we do, I think we'll start to see some progress.

BERMAN: and again, we're watching this very closely, waiting to see if Mike Pompeo makes a public statement on this. His office did just release a statement; basically says the United States will not remain party to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia.

Catherine, the other major news this morning, and we're just a few hours away from the market's open, is the notion the president is going to oppose these new tariffs that Christine Romans was just talking about. That is going to hit American voters and consumers much more quickly than this nuclear arms treaty will. This is a big deal, and it's costing Americans already and will cost them more.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Just like Mexico wasn't paying for the wall. China's not paying for the tariffs. Right? All of these studies that we have seen so far from top-notch economists from Princeton and Columbia and the the New York Fed and elsewhere have found that the tariffs that this administration has imposed are being passed along to U.S. consumers and businesses.

And these ones are going to hit the consumer pocketbook more directly, right? Businesses are not going to be able to absorb as much of the cost, in part because it's at the end of the supply chain. It's iPhones. It's toys. It's clothing, et cetera.

I think what's bizarre here is that the economy is basically the only thing Trump has going for him right now. And he is messing with it. Right? I mean, he did this a day after the Fed chair that he appointed went up and said multiple times, in a press conference, the single biggest risk to the U.S. economy and the global economy was these tariffs. And yet, he announced a new round of them.

CAMEROTA: But the Fed also gave him sort of what he wanted, right, with the rate cuts.

RAMPELL: Well, the Fed did cut rates, in part because they were worried about these trade war risks and other global risks. But to say that this gave him permission -- for him to interpret that this gave him permission to impose new tariffs is just so backward. I can't even describe it.

Like, the whole point of cutting rates was to sort of sort of neutralize that risk. And he's elevating it. Right? I mean, there's only so much that the Fed can do. And if this is passed through to inflation, the Fed's going to be in a really tough position, right? Because inflation -- higher inflation would suggest that they need to raise rates.

So I do not envy the Fed at this point. Trump is not making their job easy, and he's not making the job of the American consumer, who just wants to pay their bills, particularly easy.

BERMAN: And just one more question on this. If you see any sign -- and you look at this every day. Any sign that China can be pushed into making a deal?

RAMPELL: No. No. I mean, this is not the first round of tariffs that he's put on China. And so far, that -- whatever leverage he thought he had, he seems to have lost.

[06:10:08] I mean, it's really Americans, again, who are bearing the brunt of all of this. China is certainly not happy. They're losing business, of course. But remember, they don't have an election next year. Right? They're not a democracy. In the United States, politicians have to respond, right? When voters are unhappy, when the cost of goods goes up, for example, or uncertainty slows hiring, slows investment.

China may have an unhappy populace because of this. But there's a lot of rising nationalism, a lot of sentiment that China doesn't want to be bullied here. And they don't have to respond to those immediate, you know, near-term pain the consumers might be feeling. And if anything, they might be incentivized to dig in their heels.

CAMEROTA: Joe, that leads us to the other big international news, and that's Afghanistan and what President Trump and the administration plans to do there in terms of withdrawing half of the footprint and bringing soldiers back from there. And so how should we interpret that this morning?

LOCKHART: You know, the devil's in the details, as it has been for 17 years, which is can you make a deal with the Taliban. But I think if they can make a deal that's in America's interests over the coming weeks. The negotiations are ongoing. This is an important step. And this will be a win, a significant win for the Trump administration.

I think presidents since Bush, since we deployed there, have been trying to get out. But you just can't leave with no, you know, with no deal in place with the Taliban. So let's see what -- what they negotiate.

But if they are -- if they are able to negotiate something on -- on reasonable terms that protect, you know, our national interests, this is a significant step forward and a significant win for the president.

BERMAN: In purely political terms, Errol, two nights ago on the debate stage, we heard many Democrats who were running for president call for a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops. Pete Buttigieg wants to do it all within a year.

LOCKHART: That's right. And he's served in Afghanistan, so he knows what he's talking about.

Interestingly enough, though, let's keep in mind, the Trump administration is talking about drawing down troops to the same level that it was when he was inaugurated.

So we're not talking about a full withdrawal. We're not talking about fundamentally changing the relationship there. What we are talking about is them trying to negotiate something with the Taliban, which currently controls half of the country.

You know, and so we've got really sort of -- we've got a huge investment in the sitting government. We're talking with their sworn enemies. We're trying to sort of negotiate something, and we're going to pretty much be where we started. This does not look like a promising end to the forever war, as far as I can tell.

CAMEROTA: Why?

LOUIS: I mean, if you're talking about going back to where we were in 2017, does that suggest that we're going to --

CAMEROTA: I see. Meaning because -- because you're saying that there had been a surge. It's just going back, so there's not an end.

LOUIS: That's right. And this is -- this is not necessarily a direct result of the surge either. I mean, this is -- you know, this is really more again like, again, sort of realism just sort of saying, look, the Taliban is half the country. We're not supposed to be talking with them? They were certainly involved, and they've made no claims that they're going to walk away from their many, many alliances with the terrorist groups that have been attacking the United States.

BERMAN: Yes, what happens next largely depends on what the Taliban decides to do, which is a place that I think some analysts find uncomfortable, is another way of looking at it.

All right. Errol, Joe, Catherine, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you all very much.

All right. So she grabbed some of the spotlight at the Democratic debates. But now Marianne Williamson's past positions on things like antidepressants are coming under more scrutiny. Her heated interview with Anderson Cooper, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:20] CAMEROTA: Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson was the most searched candidate after this week's Democratic debates. And some of those searches brought up some of her controversial comments on antidepressants.

Our Anderson Cooper pressed her about that last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're saying one in ten are on antidepressants, not a good sigh. Not a time in American history for us to be numbing our pain. Telling a person who's depressed and is 40 years old and thinking about suicide that, if they take an antidepressant it's going to numb them --

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not talking about people -- excuse me, I'm not talk -- may I please speak? I'm not talking about people who are suicidal. I'm talking about people who are depressed about the world today, given the fact that the world is depressing.

COOPER: OK. I'm talking about -- well, clinically depressed people are not depressed just because the world is depressing. They have a chemical imbalance.

WILLIAMSON: Excuse me. But you are the one making some blanket statements here that there is no particular scientific evidence to prove.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. Let's bring back Errol Louis and Joe Lockhart. Joining us now also, we have Rebecca Buck, who has been on the campaign trail with so many different candidates.

Errol, when you scratch the surface, Marianne Williamson, people felt, had a very strong performance at the debate. She -- people are very intrigued by her. She has been the most searched a few times now.

But when you scratch the surface as -- I mean, this is the process, right? This is what this next year and a half is for, is to see where people really stand on positions. And that was a different Marianne Williamson last night with Anderson. She was more defensive, it seemed.

LOUIS: Well, yes. Well, she was put on the defensive, because she was being pressed by a very good journalist. I mean, I think, look, running for president is one thing.

Talking about antidepressants and talking about the healthcare industry, not from a policy standpoint but from an almost personal standpoint, from a -- from a therapeutic standpoint, is a totally different conversation.

[06:20:12] And to the extent that she looks out of place sometimes in these debates and on the campaign trail, it's because she comes from that other world.

You know, when you're running for president, we want to talk about health care. We want to talk about billions, hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, what it's going to do for 300 million people. That's really not her forte. Where she is a specialist and where she can be actually very interesting is where she talks about her one-on- one work; when she talks about people as people, you know, as individuals. And it gets to be a very different kind of a conversation. I think you saw those two worlds collide in that interview last night.

If you're going to run for president, and if you're going to start getting attention, people are going to start looking at your past and looking at your record, particularly on the areas that you focus on as part of your professional life. And that's what's going on here.

Let's play a little bit more, because I think this is a really revealing interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMSON: We are living in a society now where somebody is going through just a normal breakup, and somebody says they think you should be on something.

And once again, let's talk about how many times it's the gynecologist. This is not a mental health professional. And how many times people say that the doctor who gave it to them --

COOPER: But you're relying on the Church of Scientology for factual background to your argument. What I care about is people who are dying, and there's a stigma for people actually seeking medical help for something that could save their life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Again, Rebecca, a very interesting discussion. Interesting, as Errol said, at many levels here. Marianne Williamson, she had answers. She can talk about the issues. And she talks about them in a way that connects with people. But she's also going to talk about what she has accomplished, correct?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, absolutely. But it's so important, John, that Anderson was asking these questions of Marianne Williamson at this stage.

Because to this point, she's been sort of a novelty in this presidential race, and she could continue to be. I mean, it's not certain by any means that she will make the next debate stage. Currently, she is not on track to make the next debate stage. Currently, she is not on track to make the next debate stage.

For as long, though, as she has this bully pulpit, I think really important that we press her on these views and press her on these facts. Because this is something that could actually have real-world impacts.

Marianne Williamson is a spiritual advisor. She's an author. She's not a doctor, but she's out there on national television, talking about these things on Twitter, on social media. And so it's so important that we actually get to the facts here and not just her views and her feelings about -- about medicine and things that have actual life or death consequences.

CAMEROTA: Joe, Donald Trump wasn't an expert in public health or mental health or health care policy. And what he did and, in part, what allowed him to win was that he sort of appealed to people's feelings. And their gut, you know, that's what he speaks to. And so does she. She does that too.

And a lot of people respond to that. You know, when she talks about sort of the crisis of the soul and about how people are being treated for their sadness. You know, she's not talking about how antidepressants also save lives, and thank goodness Anderson brought that up. But that's -- her appeal is similar in the way that Donald Trump's was.

LOCKHART: Yes. And listen, you know, talking about spirituality and the crisis of the soul, I think, does have an appeal to people.

But I think she -- and Anderson did a good job to bring this out -- in her own way is very much like Donald Trump, which is that, you know, we can't have a president who goes on gut and is anti-science, and is anti-data. And you know, takes information from -- with Trump from white nationalists. With Williamson, from you know, the -- the Scientologists. That's very dangerous.

We have to get away from this sort of anti-intellectualism of "It's all about how I feel," and you know, this spiritual sense and throwing away the science.

I mean, you know, what does she feel about climate change? Is that about how you feel? So I think it's pretty dangerous.

I think she made some interesting points. She brought some life to the debates. But as -- but as a Democratic partisan, I sure hope she's not on the stage next time, because this is way too serious to be dabbling in this pseudoscience that she's talking about.

BERMAN: Another candidate who was controversial in the Democratic CNN debates this week was Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii. She went after Kamala Harris on criminal justice reform.

But her own record has been questioned, as well. She is an Iraq War vet. She has served overseas, but she has also -- well, chosen not to be critical of Bashar al-Assad. She met with Bashar al-Assad, and many Democrats and Republicans say, gave cover to Bashar al-Assad. And she gave an interview with Chris Cuomo last night where I think she said something I haven't heard her say this way before. So let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a brutal dictator. Just like Saddam Hussein. Just like Gadhafi in Libya. The reason that I am so outspoken on this issue of ending these wasteful regime-change wars is because I have seen first-hand this high human cost of war and the impact that it has on my fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[06:25:21] BERMAN: So does that answer the criticism at all?

LOUIS: It doesn't. And it will not. The reality is she's, from a strictly political standpoint, made a very, very tough choice to talk primarily about foreign policy and make that her calling card. Even knowing and, as any political adviser would tell her, that is not what people vote for, by and large.

I mean, even at the height of the Cold War, it wasn't the No. 1 issue. It might be No. 2, might be No. 3. In the current environment, it's nowhere near the top of people's concerns, according to the pollsters.

So she's got sort of a calling card that's very controversial. And then she takes a controversial position within -- within foreign policy.

Look, substantively, is she right? Yes. There is a conversation that needs to be had about what happens when you sort of say, "Let's get rid of Gadhafi," and then what comes after. There has to be a structured, kind of intelligent discussion.

She may not be the best messenger for that, because she's sort of staked her campaign on this very difficult position.

BERMAN: And she's been so hesitant or unwilling to criticize Bashar al-Assad, who is a killer, at all.

CAMEROTA: I think she only said that there, because Chris pressed her to say that. I don't know that she would voluntarily have said that.

BERMAN: No. She hasn't been. She's been given a thousand opportunities to say it and hasn't. And the last night, she finally broke, I suppose.

CAMEROTA: Joe, what did you hear?

LOCKHART: Yes, no. I agree. It's -- you know, she -- I think, you know, there are very few things in the -- in our presidential politics in the aftermath of Trump that seem disqualifying. But I think it is this with Tulsi Gabbard, because Democrats are different than Republicans. This is disqualifying. She's an apologist for Assad, and she's been given every opportunity to walk that back. She has chosen not to. It is an indefensible position.

And despite making some good points about the dangers of regime change, when you become an apologist for a brutal dictator like Assad, at least on the Democratic side of the -- of the debate, you disqualify yourself.

BERMAN: Rebecca, we have to run here, but this morning as the campaigns are waking up, does the Biden campaign feel good about how they're ending this week?

BUCK: Well, certainly, it was a stronger debate performance for Biden than what we saw in the first round, and so that's something for them to be happy about, certainly.

But the consensus among Democrats is still that Joe Biden is a weak frontrunner. He didn't show on the debate stage that he could handle himself, no matter what; that there shouldn't be any questions about his campaign.

And so I think there's still a big question mark hanging over Joe Biden's campaign that they're going to continue to have to answer in the weeks ahead and, of course, on that next debate stage in September.

BERMAN: Rebecca, Errol, Joe, thank you very much.

BUCK: Thank you.

BERMAN: There is a new tragedy in the Kennedy family this morning. We are learning new information about a death in Hyannis Port at the Kennedy family compound involving Robert Kennedy's granddaughter. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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