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Israel Bans Reps. Tlaib & Omar from Visiting the Country Per Trump's Request; White House Keep Eye on Economy as Recession Warning Signs Flash & Trump Blames the Fed; 6 Philadelphia Police Officers Shot in Hours-Long Standoff; Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) Discusses Police Standoff & Injured Officers, Gun Control, Criminals with Guns. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ask people at Amazon. I wake up of every morning afraid, wake up terrified, be afraid of our customers. Those are the people we have to pay attention to.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You can watch the entire documentary. It is tomorrow night, Friday night, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Thank you all for joining me today. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

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

We are following breaking news at this hour. Israel has now moved to block two Democratic members of Congress from visiting the country. This, after President Trump urged Israel to do just that. We're talking about Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the very same freshmen Democrats that the president has targeted and attacked for weeks.

Here's what the president said just this morning on Twitter. He wrote this, "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Congresswoman Omar and Tlaib to visit."

He goes on to make more inflammatory attacks against those sitting members of Congress. Now it looks like Israel is listening.

CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me from Jerusalem. Sarah Westwood joins me from New Jersey where the president is vacationing.

Oren, first to you.

You've been following this. There were rumors that this could be in the offing. What do you have now? OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now the decision is

official. According to a spokesman for Israel Israel's deputy foreign minister, Israel has now decided to bar entry to Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.

Let's not forget these are two Muslim Congresswomen. And Tlaib herself is the first Congresswoman of Palestinian origin. Israel will bar them entry and not allow them in. They were scheduled to arrive tomorrow night.

It was the deputy foreign minister who first made the comments on Israel radio and she was the first Israeli official to acknowledge the decision had been made. There were no details about who made the final decision and when it was made.

We do know it came just minutes after President Donald Trump tweeted that Israel would be showing, quote, "great weakness" by allowing them in, and that may have forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hand. Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with President Trump and it didn't seem like he was about to start now.

That final decision coming, as we know, from the deputy foreign minister just a short time ago, or at least its announcement.

What allows Israel to do this and why did Israel do this? Congresswoman Tlaib and Omar are vocal critics of Israel as well as supporters of the boycott movement against Israel.

About 2.5 years ago, Israel passed a law saying it can bar entry to anyone who supports the boycott of Israel, although, that law has never been used in a high-profile case, especially on the tail of the bipartisan delegation of congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, being here. And some are still here. Here Israel reversing a policy.

Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, had said last month they would be allowed entry because of Israel's respect for the U.S. Congress, but now this decision reversing that. They will be barred entry according to Israeli officials.

BOLDUAN: I just want to put a fine point. You alerted this earlier, flagged this quote from Ron Dermer earlier. For our viewers, just last month, this is what he said, "Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."

He's considered one of the closest -- one of the closest advisers, I guess you would say, to Netanyahu and now we see this reversal.

Oren, stick with me if you could for just a second.

Let me get over to Sarah Westwood.

Sarah, that's what we're hearing from the Israeli side. What are you hearing from the White House, if anything, right now?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this morning, you read part of the president's tweet. He weighed in on the decision Israel had before it as to whether to admit these two members of Congress.

But we should just stress -- we really can't stress enough how unusual and unprecedented it is for the president of the United States to pressure an ally to reject the admission of sitting members of Congress.

And in that tweet that President Trump fired off this morning he seemed to tie his pressure campaign on Israel to an explicitly political motivation. After raising those allegations against the women, he said, "Nothing can be done or said to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office."

So there, he's directly tying it to their reelection prospects in two states in which his reelection campaign hopes to be competitive.

He has often attacked these two women before and the other two freshmen House Democrats that make up the group known as the Squad. And he's really created a lot of backlash after saying some out-right racist things about these women, including encouraging them to go back to where they came from are before they start criticizing the United States government.

So obviously, the president's intervention in Israel's decision is going to get a lot of scrutiny as we sort this out -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Guys, stand by.

I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller. He's kind enough to jump on the phone.

[11:05:05] Aaron, this is an area of the world that you have worked on for most of your career, the Mideast peace process. What is your reaction to Israel barring these members of Congress from entry, and also President Trump's involvement?

ARRON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (via telephone): Look, this visit was never going to be have Israeli Palestinian peace making. The representatives Omar and Tlaib have very strong views on the Palestinian issue. That's their right.

My concern with this, Kate, is on two levels. Number one, I've watched Republican and Democratic administrations intercede in Israeli politics before. Never have I seen an administration so determined to intervene in any way it can in the affairs of another nation.

The president of the United States has worked insidiously to try to reelect Benjamin Netanyahu. This tweet, this particular intercession to actually push, encourage and enable an Israeli prime minister, who was probably headed in that direction before, to ban these two women for personal and political reasons, to ban two sitting members of Congress, that is virtually unprecedented. It certainly contradicts anything that would strike me as rational, logical politics.

One useful point, for the state of Israel, Congress is an enduring reality. And Congress, particularly in in administration, has become incredibly political.

The president is determined to make the Republicans the go-to party on Israel and paint the Democrats as not only divided but divisive.

And I think the Israelis have created a self-inflicted wound.

Donald Trump will pass from the presidency, if not in a year and a half, then in four. He is, in many respects, a speed bump for Israel. Congress is an enduring reality. And I think the Israelis have made a serious mistake, understanding all of the sentiment of how biased these two representatives may or may not be.

I think this is a mistake and, frankly, a disaster all around.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, you mentioned Congress, but we could be talking about politics in the United States, but also there's a heavy dose of politics that's going on in Israel right now. How much do you think Netanyahu's tough reelection bid right now is a part of this?

MILLER: Nobody on earth right now, Kate, can predict the outcome of the election on September 17th. Whether this is going to help or hurt, virtually -- I would say, in the end, it's going to be a wash.

The president accused him of being weak, the prime minister of Israel, and bending to the president's will. I think it's demonstrated he's acting as a derivative or an adjunct of the United States. But, frankly, even though Donald Trump is probably more unified with Israel, than any other country in the world, this doesn't make Benjamin Netanyahu look like a strong and willful leader.

BOLDUAN: I don't know how many times we've said it together but hearing that from you that this is an unprecedented moment, we -- I feel like we've witnessed a lot of unprecedented moments when it comes to the relationships here and abroad and this is yet another one.

Aaron, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

MILLER: Thank you, Kate. Bye-bye.

BOLDUAN: So we're going to keep an eye on that. We're going to return to that breaking news throughout the hour.

But I want to get back to Sarah Westwood who is following a lot of other goings on with the president right now.

Sarah, thanks so much for sticking around.

At the very same time, President Trump is keeping his eye, and the White House and the campaign, let's be honest, keeping their eye on the economy right now and warning signs in the economy, not just the markets, the trade war with China, markets overseas. What are you hearing from the White House about the roller coaster?

How worried are they about the flashing lights that are -- the warning lights that are flashing right now when it comes to the economy?

WESTWOOD: Well, Kate, there are some in the White House who are worried. But one person who doesn't seem to be that worried about the long-term implications of the turbulence we've seen in the market this week is President Trump. He's still maintaining optimism about striking some kind of trade deal with China.

And publicly, he's blaming the market sell-off, these fears about an economic downturn on the Federal Reserve. That's one of his favorite scapegoats when it comes to the economy. He's accused the Fed of raising interest rates too much, too quickly.

But privately, sources familiar with the talks to do CNN that President Trump has vented his frustration with the team that he's tasked with negotiating this trade agreement with China is not doing enough to get there on an agreement.

Many saw his administration's designation of China as a currency manipulator last week as a sign that the talks are deadlock. There's not a lot of indications that we've seen progress on that front.

And meanwhile, there are real fears about a recession among the president's aides and allies because economic growth under President Trump, that's seen as one of the greatest underlying trends working in favor of the president's reelection, there's fears that a recession could really jeopardize the president's chances of winning a second term in office.

[11:10:05] The president receives his highest marks and highest approval ratings when it comes to his handling of the economy. So there are fears, Kate, that if this economic downturn proves to be long-term that could really imperil the president's chances.

BOLDUAN: There's one thing right now that could decide whether President Trump is reelected, it is this one thing, it is the economy.

Sarah, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

A lot of questions. Joining me right now is Rick Newman, columnist for "Yahoo Finance" and author of "Rebounders, How Winners Pivot from Setback."

Great to see you.


BOLDUAN: How are you?


BOLDUAN: The market will go up and down, will continue to go up and down. What are you watching, though, as recession fears grow?

NEWMAN: Certainly, watching consumers, how our consumer is behaving, are they starting to lose confidence, and how businesses are behaving.

So we have kind of a slip story there. Businesses are slowing down in terms of spending. We've seen a slowdown in the manufacturing sector. Those are the worrisome signs.

Consumers, however, are doing fine. We still have a very low unemployment rate. We've got retail sales numbers this morning that show people are spending money.

So if consumers are hearing people talk about recession, they're not very worried. They're still going to the mall and ordering stuff online and those packages keep coming.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating.

The president's reaction to this is, everything is fine and, as Sarah was pointing out, blaming the Fed.

Here's one tweet of his from this morning: "China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping. Our problem is with the Fed, raise too much and too fast, now too slow to cut. The Fed is holding us back."

His trade advisor, Peter Navarro, is saying basically the same thing. For our viewers, listen to this.


PETER NAVARRO, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP & DIRECTOR, TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: This is basically the Federal Reserve's problem, volatility. They are causing this because, when Jay Powell got in as chairman, he proceeded to raise interest rates by 100 basis points, too far too fast. And even though the Trump economy is rock solid, it slowed us down a bit because of the higher interest rates.


BOLDUAN: Are they right, are they wrong? Are they a little of both?

NEWMAN: We know Trump never blames himself for anything.


NEWSMAN: So he's got to find somebody to pin this on. He's been blaming the Federal Reserve for everything bad that's happened in the economy for the last year.

We're pointing out, in 2016, when he was a candidate, he criticized the Federal Reserve for keeping interest rates too low to help Obama. Back then, he said the Fed was politicized and that sabers were getting creamed. That was his phrase --


NEWMAN: -- in 2016. Now he wants the Federal Reserve to do exactly that, push interest rates back down. The Fed has been raising rates slowly. It raised rates starting in

2015 during the Obama presidency and it raised them through 2018 and it stopped and now it has started and cut by one quarter of a point. So interest rates are still low.

It's possible that the Fed did go a little bit too far in raising rates. But mortgages are still very cheap and car loans are cheap. And if we have a problem, if we have a real recession, the Fed just does not have much room to cut rates --


NEWMAN: -- which is what they normally do during a recession.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you. If the Fed is starting to cut, if the Fed is cutting, what are the tools left when the economy turns south?

NEWMAN: So during recessions, the average has been the Fed cuts rates by about five percentage points. Right now, short-term interest rates are only two and a quarter, so the Fed can only cut two and a quarter by the time they get down to zero. And then they have to start figuring out more create things to do.

That so-called quantitative easing, those unconventional stimulus measures, those have kind of worked but it remains unchartered territory. And we're not out of the woods yet on quantitative easing so we don't know all of the long-term ramifications.


BOLDUAN: When it comes to China, you said something that maybe it was a tweet or you said it, but I found it really interesting. The tariffs that the president has delayed at this point, you don't think that they're ever actually going to go into effect. Why is that?

NEWMAN: First of all, the tariffs are a tax on American consumers. So these would be products. And Americans would see the prices go up overnight. Maybe not by the whole 10 percent but some portion. There would be lots of stories about how prices are going up.

So for the president to say, OK, we're going to put this off until after Christmas, I just don't think that having identified this whole list of products, it's cell phones, laptops, video game consoles, I just don't think that having said, OK, those are so important, we're not going to raise taxes on those before Christmas --


NEWMAN: -- but we're going to raise taxes after Christmas.

And 2020 is an election year. What president has ever raised taxes on American consumers and gotten reelected? I think the answer is none.


NEWMAN: Think about H.W. Bush raising taxes in the early 1990s, violating his "no taxes" pledge, and that's why he lost. So --

BOLDUAN: Short-term pain, long-term gain is not --

NEWMAN: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- a campaign that have ever --

NEWMAN: And by the way, Trump has never made that case. He has never said this trade war is worth it.


BOLDUAN: He always says there's no hit that's happening at all to anybody.

NEWMAN: He keeps saying there's no pain. And ask farmers about that. They're feeling a lot of pain.

[11:15:02] BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

Great to see you, Rick.

NEWMAN: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in.

NEWMAN: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, an hours-long standoff in Philadelphia leaves six police officers recovering from gunshot wounds. Now local official say they can't wait any longer for action on gun control. The governor of Pennsylvania is going to join next for an update on what happened yesterday and what he wants to see happen now.

Plus, he invited the entire El Paso community to his wife's funeral after losing her in the El Paso mass shooting. Now they're having to move her funeral services to a larger venue because of the outpouring of support that is coming in. This grieving husband joins us next.


[11:20:30] BOLDUAN: For nearly eight hours, a terrifying and dangerous standoff with police in north Philadelphia.





(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Six officers are now recovering from gunshot wounds this morning after a man opened fire on police who were attempting to serve a warrant.

The suspect held up inside a home for hours, firing at police from inside. The gunfight even trapping some of the officers inside for a time. Ultimately, the man surrendered around midnight last night.

The mayor of Philadelphia outraged that this man has even capable of pulling this off. He had this to say at a press conference.


JIM KENNEY, (D), PHILADELPHIA MAYOR: If the state and federal government don't want to stand up to the NRA and some other folks, then let us police ourselves. If they preempt us on all kinds of gun control legislation. Our officers deserve to be protected and they don't deserve to be shot at by a gun for hours with an unlimited supply of weapons and an unlimited supply of bullets.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf.

Governor, thank you for being here.

GOV. TOM WOLF, (D-PA): Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: First, I just want to ask you what you're hearing, if anything, from the Philadelphia police officers, the officers that were injured and shot? How are they doing today?

WOLF: Well, that's the first stop I made in Philadelphia. I went to the 39th district and went around and met the police officers. Some of whom were actually here last night. I even met one of the officers who was injured. And I asked him how they're doing. I thanked them for what they did.

I mean, these folks, they run toward the fire, not away from it, and we really owe them a lot. And so I thanked them. And asked them what they thought we should be doing, what more could we do to help.

I agree with the mayor of Philadelphia. Jim Kenney said it exactly right. We make it too easy for people to get the kinds of guns that shoot at the police officers who were trying to maintain the peace.

BOLDUAN: If you can, would you share what you heard from the officers?

WOLF: Yes. I mean, I think there was a desire to have a broader understanding of the reality of their job, that they're facing a jerk like this guy who had a rifle, has a list of offenses that's as long as your arm. How did he get those guns? How did he get the gun that was firing on police officers that injured six of them? And I think there's a frustration that that's happening. I think

there's a frustration that there's a lack of awareness that these are the folks in blue who are actually standing to protect and make our communities safer. They're the ones who actually went toward the line of fire last night. And I think just a general frustration.

And I was there to understand, try to understand that, and to listen, and also to say thank you for what you did.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We're all so thankful for what they did. Do you know yet -- this went on for hours. Do you know yet how many guns, if it was multiple guns this guy had? How much ammunition he had in there?

WOLF: I don't know, but he had a lot, enough to keep officers at bay for eight hours and injure six officers. So he had a lot.

And it just gets back to the point that I've been trying to make in Harrisburg and I think other governors around the country are trying to make and Senators and congresspeople are trying to make in Washington, that they need to make sure that we do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of jerks like this, who are going to use it illegally to hurt the very people who are trying to protect our communities.

BOLDUAN: The police commissioner said that this guy had an extensive criminal history. And that is what the president is actually pointing to this morning when he weighed in on the shootings.

I'm not sure if you've seen what he wrote on Twitter but I would like to read it. He wrote, "The Philadelphia shooter should never have been allowed to be on the streets. He had a long and very dangerous criminal record. Looked like he was having a good time after his capture and after wounding so many police. Long sentence, must get much tougher on street crime."

What do you say to the president?

[11:25:05] WOLF: Yes, I think there are a lot of things that we can do, but we need to start with really good gun legislation. Let's take guns out of the hands of people like this. Then they don't have the means to do the things that this jerk did last night.

We can argue for a long time about all the different things that we need to do and we could make a lot of different arguments, but let's start with reasonable responsible gun safety legislation to get guns out of hands of people like this.

BOLDUAN: He has a long criminal history. Do we know that he legally should have had those guns at all?

WOLF: I don't know, but I can't imagine that he got these guns legally.


WOLF: But somebody did and somebody gave him those guns. And we have a system that allows all those things -- that to take place. We need to stop that. We need to figure out what kinds of legislation we need to pass to make sure that people like that, however they did it, don't have access to these guns.

BOLDUAN: And timing is pretty remarkable. You just announced executive actions that you were going to be taking to combat gun violence ahead of when the shooting happened. You also have acknowledged and I think you're saying here that those actions are unlikely to be enough.

In light of this shooting happening in Philadelphia, what more are you looking to do or what more specifically, as a governor of Pennsylvania, do you want to see Congress do or your state assembly do?

WOLF: Well, as I say, we need to start with real gun legislation. We need to have -- pass the red flag legislation. We need to make sure that straw purchases don't take place. We need to make sure we go after people who illegally sell guns to people like the jerk who was doing what he did here last night for eight hours. We need to do those things.

We also need to address issues of equity, fairness, civil rights. We need to address the issue fully on poverty. There are a lot of things. Mental health. The list goes on and on.

The point is we've got to start by making sure people who shouldn't have guns don't have those guns and can't -- aren't in a position to do the terrible things that this guy did last night.

BOLDUAN: Just so thankful. And it's almost remarkable that six officers shot and, thankfully, they are doing OK. And we know that one was even grazed in the head and that's a matter of centimeters or millimeters before it would be a very different conversation we would be having today.

Governor, thank you for coming on.

WOLF: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, Beto O'Rourke is returning to the campaign trail after taking time off to mourn with the victims, mourn the victims and mourn with the families of the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.

But it also comes amid growing calls for him to fight for a different office. What is he saying? That's ahead.