Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Official Says Statue of Liberty Poem About Europeans; Dow Falls Amid New Recession Warning, Trump Trade War; Jay-Z Teaming Up with NFL Despite Past Criticism of League; Man Arrested After Bringing Gun into Walmart. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: A Trump administration official attempts to interpret poet, Emma Lazurus. The one who wrote the Statue of Liberty inscription we all know. Give me your tired, your poor.

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, tried to amend those iconic words and then later tried to explain himself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus' words, etched in the Statue of Liberty, give me your tired, your poor are also part of the American ethos?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They certainly are, give me your tired, and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.

CUCCINELLI: Well, of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe, where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.


BALDWIN: Cuccinelli is on the receiving end of quite a bit of criticism. People from immigration rights advocates to historians. And there's additional anger as the Trump administration unveils this new rule that could dramatically cut the number legal immigrants able to qualify for green cards.

Annie Polland is the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society and is leading a three-year initiative called the Emma Lazarus Project to explore the life of the poet. So thank you for coming in, it's so nice to meet you, Annie.


BALDWIN: You recently asked sixth graders to rewrite these hallowed words, right, based upon how they would apply to the world today. Here is a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For all her storied strength, Lady Liberty weeps as she stands as what she symbolizes is crushed to dust in politicians' hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her people ignore her and refuse her protection. And allow her glistening beige skin to be tarnished by hate. They allow her hope to fade to a melancholy silence and her skin to melt into muddy green losing its shine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear your words are not twisted to insults but crafted to songs. Hear the mighty arguments of peace are indestructible. Our differences unify our love.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let one thing be clear. We welcome you to enter here with open arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Though some allocate for you to fail. The foundation of this country will prevail. So fear not of what is unknown and welcome to America, your newfound home.


BALDWIN: Wow. And they are 11. What did you think of their responses?

POLLAND: They were amazing, they were beyond anything that we could have expected. And they still bring tears to my eyes.

BALDWIN: Bring tears to your eyes. And then how do you compare that to what we heard from Ken Cuccinelli and his rewording of Emma Lazarus?

POLLAND: What I can say is that the students had the benefit of learning about Emma Lazarus in our time, so they had a full history lesson in her context.

BALDWIN: But they're 11.

POLLAND: They're 11 and they're 12. And they were able to think in a really new nuanced way about this poem, what it meant at the time, what it means today. And they were truly able to kind of look inside and add their own voice to that. And I think Emma Lazarus would be really happy with their poems.

BALDWIN: What do you think of what he said?

POLLAND: I think what he said is somewhat reductive. I think it's difficult to take a poem and take it out of context and just apply it to one law. That's not the way a poem and American ideals should be used.

BALDWIN: I want you to just give us a history lesson, because just reminding everyone. Cuccinelli last night told Erin that the Statue of Liberty poem was about, quote, people coming from Europe. So you tell us, who was Emma Lazarus referring to when she wrote those hallowed words. POLLAND: Well, so, in that poem -- and the poem is longer than what we typically hear. We typically hear, give me your tired and your poor. But in the first stanza of the poem, she refers to America as a mother of exiles. She doesn't say a mother of European exiles, she doesn't say a mother of Irish exiles. She says a mother of exiles.

And so what she was putting forward was a more universal stance about welcoming immigrants and that America becomes America in part through a compassionate welcoming of immigrants.

BALDWIN: Wasn't she specifically inspired by or writing about Jews who were coming?

POLLAND: Well, she had had direct contact with east European Jews who were coming in large numbers. They were fleeing persecution. They were coming with hardly any money. They were coming with their families. And she went to help them, and that was kind of her awakening to the plight of immigrants.

But I think it's important too that when she wrote the poem, she didn't say we're here to help Jewish immigrants. No, she kind of took that particular experience and universalized that to think about America more broadly.

BALDWIN: When we look also at the new Trump immigration rules, it will actually make it harder for immigrants to get into this country. And a lot of people are pointing today that Trump's own grandfather probably would not have qualified under Trump's own rules when he came here from Germany in 1885.

POLLAND: I think that's right. And I think so many Americans who have been here for several generations would also find that their ancestors would have been in trouble. So, yes.

BALDWIN: Annie Polland, again, if people want to learn about your project it's called --

POLLAND: The Emma Lazarus Project. And you can go to

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Great. Annie, thank you very much.

POLLAND: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Nice to meet you.

POLLAND: Nice to meet you too.

BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news on Wall Street today. The Dow down 733 points here, 26 minutes to go until the closing bell, we'll explain that the key indicator that has experts worried about a potential recession.

Plus, new details on how an El Paso native, singer Khalid is planning to help his hometown as they recover from the mass shooting where 22 people were killed. We'll be right back.


[15:40:00] BALDWIN: Right now stocks are sinking on Wall Street as the bond market flashes a key recession warning. We are minutes before the closing bell, the Dow is down 730-ish points there. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped below the 2-year rate.

Diane Swonk is chief economist for Grant Thornton. So Diane, thank you so much for being on with me. And I know that you have been worried about a recession for months. So if the bond market is signaling recession this morning, how accurate or imminent might that be?

DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GRANT THORNTON: Well, we hope it's not imminent. Certainly the bond market, this is a red flag that perhaps the bond market thinks we might have a recession coming. It could be due to other factors. Because this time is always different as we say. But the bottom line is there could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There's real fear factor that the global economy is weakening. We added insult to injury basically tripping China up even worse, putting our foot out as they were already stumbling with the trade war. That's important because they're the elephant in the room. Second largest economy in the world, and unlike Japan back in the 1980s, they're not isolated. They affect all of us.

And showing up in weakness in Germany, weakness in Europe. We've got other trade wars going on elsewhere in the world. All of that comes home to roost, and it's already showing up in the U.S. economy as weakness in investment where businesses are holding back.

Consumers doing great but businesses are saying, hey, I don't know where to tread, I don't know what the rules of the road are. I don't know where the next pothole is. So I'm not going to place that bet on the future. Something's got to


BALDWIN: So maybe, they're not hiring right now which is I know an issue with businesses. But back to your metaphor of you know sticking your leg out and tripping China, I mean President Trump, right. So President Trump, obviously, China is a huge piece of this but then there's he's been throwing the Fed under the bus tweeting new insults directed at Jay Powell, the Fed chair.

What's your take on him blaming Powell for what we are seeing there on the big board today? Especially when Powell just cut interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis a decade ago?

SWONK: Listen, I have not known any president that wasn't happy when the economy wasn't going exactly how they like and they want to blame the Fed. They don't do it as publicly as this President happens to have done it. And it's very unproductive, because by doing this, even as the Fed does actually have to cut rates to deal with the weakening economy.

No matter whether it was caused by bad trade policy or whatever, that is their job. It undermines their credibility and that's really important, because the last thing we want is the Fed doesn't have a lot of tools. We are already at low rates. We don't have a lot to cut here. And as we get closer to --- if we do actually go into recession, the Fed has less power the more the Fed's credibility is undermined by the President.

The idea that the Fed would do what he says, that undermines their power in financial markets, that they can sort of do whatever it takes to make us not get into a recession. And that is undermining. So this is really self-defeating in terms of what the President is doing, in terms of when he really needs the Fed most. This will leave them less in their toolbox to right the ship when we need it.

BALDWIN: Well, on righting the ship, what options would the President have if he is backed into a corner. I mean he's putting so much into how great the economy is.

SWONK: Well, the economy is fine right now. The economy is still doing well and will likely get good retail sales numbers tomorrow, that's good. The risks are rising, and financial markets are making what could be a self-fulfilling prophecy of fear factor out there. We have a lot of uncertainty and the minute businesses -- that affects businesses to the point of cutting jobs. That affects us all. And that's what we want to avert the problem is they do have to react to these headwinds and offset it with a rate cut and they will in September.

BALDWIN: What do you say? You talk about fears, right, what do you say to the average American who's watching this, who's watching the Dow down several hundred points who has 401k or has college debt or is paying a mortgage. What do you tell folks who are worried?

SWONK: Well, you know, the good news is, that we've seen mortgage applications for refinancing surge and consumer balance sheet as hard as some student debt is and things like that, they're in much better shape than they've been in a long time. And at these low interest rates they are much easier to service.

The real issue is we don't want to get to that point where things are fine and then all of a sudden, they're not. Because that is the way it works, you know, something's got to give. And we really need to see some more stable policies to know where we're going. So that businesses put their money where their mouth is and start betting on the future and not pulling back on the future.

BALDWIN: Some more stable policies. I hear you, Diane Swonk. Thank you so much for your expertise, appreciate it.

Coming up next, Jay-Z taking some heat for teaming up with the NFL despite being a critic of the league in the past, hear how he's responding.


BALDWIN: Jay-Z, rapper Jay-Z says he is joining forces with the NFL for music and for social justice projects.

[15:50:00] Rock Nation, an entertainment company founded by Jay-Z will advise on NFL performances like the Super Bowl. They say the goal is to strengthen community and inspire meaningful social change across America.

So with me now, CNN senior entertainment reporter my friend Lisa France. So, Lisa, obviously, I read your pieces every morning on and you wrote about this and Khalid who we'll get to in a second. But on this, you know, Jay-Z himself has criticized the NFL for how it treated Collin Kaepernick when he took a knee during the anthem so what is the real story here?

LISA FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, what Jay-Z says is he feels like this is the natural progression, the next step. That first you protest, then you have the company say, OK, we hear your protest and we're going to work with you. So to him this is the natural next step.

That the Commissioner Roger Goodell has heard the complaints. He's heard what the public has said, he's heard what his players have said and so now we need to get busy and start doing some work to actually address social injustice.

BALDWIN: OK. So, we'll follow that -- sorry.

FRANCE: I was just going to say -- sorry. You know what, it's so much genius right here, right now. He's saying he doesn't see a disconnect. He sees that this is actually what we're supposed to be doing. And maybe not focusing so much on the fact that Collin Kaepernick doesn't have a job.

BALDWIN: He does not. And people want something done about that. We'll watch and see what work is done. Meantime, and I appreciate the genius, it is just a lot of yours, talk about Khalid and this El Paso benefit concert.

FRANCE: So Khalid, he was an army brat, a military brat and lived a lot of places but he spent his senior year living in El Paso and he feels like El Paso is really the city that helped him grow as an artist. He's one of the most streamed musical acts on Spotify. He's only 21 years old and so he wants to give back.

Because he said that what happened with the shooting and the 22 victims in his hometown -- which he considers El Paso now to be his hometown -- really touched his heart and he wanted to be able to do something to give back to the victims. So, he's holding this benefit concert and he's encouraging everybody to come out and participate, and if you can't get tickets, buy a t-shirt or do something to benefit the victims' fund.

BALDWIN: Who is coming out? Do you know?

FRANCE: Not yet. We haven't really talked about -- he hasn't really said who. Just special guests. So far, special guests.

BALDWIN: Special guests.

FRANCE: Special guests. And so, we have to wait and see. But people are super-duper excited and you have people according to the tweets coming from all around the country just to be supportive.

BALDWIN: It's amazing. Tickets on sale today. Lisa France, you and your genius, thank you very much.

FRANCE: Thank you, love.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

I also want to share a touching story out of El Paso where so many families are still of course burying their loved ones. The husband of one of the 22 people killed in that mass shooting is extending a special invitation to the community there, he is asking the public to attend his wife's funeral this Friday.

At Perches Funeral Home which has offered free funeral services to all of the families posted this.

Quote, Mr. Antonio Basco was married for 22 years to his wife Margie Reckard. He had no other family. He welcomes anyone to attend his wife's services. Reckards' children are expected to be there and Basco told local media, that quote, when I met her, she was an angel and she still is. I was supposed to be the strong one but I found out I'm the weak one and she is going to be missed a lot, end quote. Margie Reckard was 67 years old.

BALDWIN: New reaction since we did this story earlier this hour, more 2020 candidates are now calling on Republican Congressman Steve King to resign after his comments on rape and incest.

Plus minutes to the closing bell now, the Dow down nearly 800 points. As fears of a new recession continue to grow.


BALDWIN: The man who took a gun into Walmart just days after a shooter murdered 22 people at the Walmart in El Paso says he is foolish but not evil. 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko says he is thankful he did not get shot when he openly carried the rifle into a Springfield, Missouri store just days after back-to-back mass shootings. He also was wearing body armor. He was arrested and charged with terrorist threats in the second-degree.


DMITRIY ANDREYCHENKO, ARRESTED AFTER BRINGING GUN INTO A MISSOURI WALMART: I called a Walmart to make sure this was allowed. And they said it was. So no one looked like they were scared, no one looked frightened. There was no one screaming, no one was getting trampled, it just looked like a very civil evacuation of the building. I just want people to know that I'm not a bad person. I would never, ever hurt anyone.

It was foolish. I didn't give it thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Well, his lawyer told our affiliate that he is a permanent resident and faces deportation if he is convicted. And that does it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being here. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is President Trump's best re-election argument slipping away today. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

The Dow dives. Hundreds of points in the fallout of President Trump's trade war with China and a new warning that we may be heading for a recession. What the red arrows could mean for your household and the next election?

Leaving the race to win a marathon. The new buzz that some Presidential candidates could do the Democratic Party better by dropping out and running for Senate instead.

Plus, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, tearing into the Senate Majority Leader using a nickname she must know he hates, Moscow Mitch, after a new report claims McConnell let one Russian oligarch slide on sanctions to benefit business in his state.