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President Trump Sticks To His Old Tricks; White House Looking At Greenland To Become A U.S. Asset; Israel Barred Two Muslim House Democrats; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Is Interviewed About Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar's Travel Ban To Israel; Former Ambassadors Burns And Shapiro Weigh In On The President's Ban For The Congresswomen. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, I think that's how we'll land. Thank you. It's really a pleasure talking to you.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW: Nice talking to you, too.

COOPER: Thank you.

COLBERT: Anderson Cooper. Everybody, we'll be right back.


You know what's going on, right? We've seen it time and time again from this president. Distract and deflect, his old bag of tricks. That's what this is all about. That's what this is all about.

Pay no attention with what you're seeing with your own eyes and hearing with you own ears.

But the thing is, this time the president may have to work a lot harder to distract you because what he wants you to ignore is the economy. And the warning signs of a looming recession that could hit you right in your wallet. That's what he wants you to ignore. Just listen to what he said at this rally just a little while ago, he's in New Hampshire.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401Ks down the tubes, everything is going to be down the tubes. So, whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.



LEMON: OK. Well, that's quite a reelection pitch. The president's distraction campaign revved up this morning with the president tweeting this. "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Representative Omar and Representative Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace."

That's what he says. Well, just minutes later like magic, Israel announced it was barring Congresswoman -- Congresswomen, I should say, Omar and Tlaib from entering the country. Coincidence?

Well, Axios reported last week that the president told his advisers that he thought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar the congresswomen. Those views reportedly reached the top levels of the Israeli government.

And sources tell CNN House Democratic leaders were told by the Israeli government yesterday that the congresswomen would likely be barred. Democrats tried to push back, but you see how that ended up.

The president, who is using the power of his office and the world stage to punish his political enemies, reacting this afternoon.


TRUMP: They are very anti-Jewish and they're very anti-Israel. I think it's disgraceful the thing they've said, what they've said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing and they've become the face of the Democratic Party.


LEMON: He thinks it disgraceful what the congresswomen have said. Both are vocal critics of Israel and both support the BDS boycott movement. But let's remember, it was the president who tweeted that those congresswomen and two others should go back to the countries they came from.

Those racist words, even though every member of the so-called squad is an American citizen. It was the president who stood by while his supporters at a rally last month chanted "send her back" about Congresswoman Omar.


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.



LEMON: The president didn't seem to mind what they said. In fact, he later defended the crowd as patriots. And though he seems to care an awful lot of what those two congresswomen say about the words they used; he doesn't really seem to care very much about another member of Congress. You know who that is? Steve King. Who just yesterday questioned whether there would be any population left if not for rape and incest?


TRUMP: I don't know the situation with Steve King. It looked like I read a statement that supposedly he made. I haven't been briefed on it but certainly it wasn't a very good statement.


LEMON: So, he doesn't know about it? But he read a statement. But he hasn't been briefed. And it's certainly wasn't a very good statement. Now what you would call a strong denunciation of a pretty outrageous statement from the congressman, who has a long, long history of this kind of thing.

But back to the congresswomen now. Ilhan Omar responded to the president saying, quote, "Trump's Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected members of Congress."

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg saying this.


[22:05:00] MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is doing two things simultaneously. Cuddling naked anti-Semitism that is baked into white nationalism, and then pretending to make up for that by backing not so much Israeli interests but the interest of the right-wing Israeli politicians that he seems to find common cause with.


LEMON: Senator Amy Klobuchar telling Jake Tapper this.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president in precipitating this with his tweet, again, conducting foreign policy by tweet is just the worse. He is literally exporting intolerance.


MACCALLUM: But I want you to listen to this. It's from Congressman Tim Ryan who pretty much hit the nail on the head with this.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really think the issue with Trump is that he's coming unhinged because this looming recession we saw him go off the rails yesterday. Now today it's this. It will be something tomorrow and the more the heat gets cranked up and the more this economy softens, the less he's going to be able to keep his stuff together.


LEMON: The president also today, and this is really incredible, claiming that the news media is trying to crash the economy. Which I probably don't have to tell you, but I will, is not true and nothing more than another blatant distraction.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that remember, facts first here, OK, that one big reason for fears about the economy is the president's own trade war with China, which has rattled the stock and bonds markets and sent out warning signs of a recession.

And while the president is all too happy to jump feet first into international affairs in encouraging Israel to bar two American congresswomen he really doesn't seem to want to speak up about violent protests in Hong Kong, even though some of his advisers are warning him that without a stronger U.S. position, there could be a blood bath.

Despite that dire warning, he seems to think all of it could take to the end of protest -- all would take to end the protests is to sit down, a sit down between him and Chinese President Xi and protesters.


TRUMP: I would be willing to bet that if he sat down with the protesters, a group of representative protesters, I bet he'd work it out in 15 minutes.


LEMON: Does China's president, president for life, the man President Trump joked is a king, does he seem like the kind of guy who would sit down with a couple of protesters and hash things out? Not really. I don't think so either.

And let's face it, the president's reluctance to confront China is really about his concern that he's not getting anywhere in his trade war with Beijing, even though he says this.


TRUMP: No, I think the longer the trade war goes on, the weaker China gets and the stronger we get. We're taking in massive amounts of money, billions and billions of dollars, Steve, as you know, and I think the longer it goes, the stronger we get. I have a feeling it's going to go fairly short. I think it's going to be -- China has lost millions of jobs. You saw that reported today.


LEMON: The president insists China wants to make a deal, but he admits that American consumers may have to pay the price.


TRUMP: Now at some point they may have to pay something, but they understand that.


LEMON: The president probably would -- he would probably rather you don't think too much about that. And there's something else the president might want to distract you from. The House judiciary committee has subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski, the

former Trump campaign manager, and a sign of the attention that's getting inside the White House, officials are already talking about invoking executive privilege for Lewandowski, even though he never worked in the White House. So, what does the president think? He thinks Lewandowski would make a great senator.


TRUMP: Corey Lewandowski loves your state, loves New Hampshire.


TRUMP: He was the first one that talk about us possibly winning the whole big ball game, and he's tough and he's smart and I'm hearing he's thinking about running for the Senate from New Hampshire. I don't know.


TRUMP: I think he'd be tough to beat.


LEMON: So never mind that subpoena, huh? Distract and deflect. It's a strategy that has worked for this president so far. But if the economy proves to be his Achilles heel, America is going to face a very big question -- who are you going to believe? The president who distracts and dissembles on a daily basis or your own ears and eyes? You know what the president wants you to think.


[22:09:58] TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.


LEMON: Who you are you going to believe? The president had a lot to say at his rally tonight, and a lot of it wasn't true. We'll do a fact check. Daniel Dale is here, Philip Mudd, April Ryan, next.


LEMON: President Trump making a whole lot of false claims at his rally tonight after encouraging Israel to ban two American congresswomen he considers his political enemies.

Is he trying to distract from the warning signs of the economy and his failure to make a deal with China on trade? Well, let's discuss now. Daniel Dale is here, Philip Mudd as well. Phil the author of "Black Site: The CIA and the Post-9/11 World." April Ryan is here, as well, she's the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House."

Good evening, one and all. April, I'll start with you. APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.

LEMON: Tonight, in his rally, the president touted the strength of the economy. He said, dealing with China is easy and that they want to make a deal. Do you think that he's trying to project a positive outlook on the economy despite the warning signs of a recession?

RYAN: Of course. Any president would always promote optimism and always try to put a great spin on it, but with this president, it's always different. These China tariffs are hurting U.S. companies.

[22:14:54] I talked while I was in New York the other day, I talked with some fashion houses in New York, and they're saying that they're being hit, their numbers are soft when it comes to the tariffs and this time of year right now.

You know, also a telltale sign when there is an economic downturn is the trucking industry. They don't have as much work as they normally have if the economy was booming.

This president wants to project that everything is fine. But the Dow dropped. He's praying that it won't drop 800 points again or worse. It's a bad time right now and this president is deflecting to make everything look like it really is it.

LEMON: And Daniel, as usual, the president wasn't totally sticking with the truth tonight, including claiming the biggest beneficiaries of the tariff battle with China are farmers. Help us out, give us some fact checks here.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Sure. So, there was a litany of false claims. Almost all of them repeated. My favorite is one that he first made during the end of 2016 election. He claims that he had been given an award five or six years before the campaign as Michigan man of the year.

And when he first made that claim, I and others looked it up, asked around, contacted the governor's office in Michigan, asked the Trump campaign. There doesn't appear to be any such award. So, we think he made it up.

He again took credit for the passage of the veteran's choice law that Barack Obama signed into law in 2014. He again misstated a whole variety of numbers from the number of judicial vacancies he had to the trade deficit with China. And so, this was the same old, but the same old for him is pretty much incessant dishonesty.

LEMON: Phil, the president is attempting to make Representatives Omar and Tlaib the face of the Democratic Party. He also acknowledged today that he did speak to people in Israel about the decision to ban them from the country. What does it say that the president would orchestrate something like this?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it says interesting things both about the United States and about Israel. First, this, forget about Congress. They're U.S. citizens who want to travel to a U.S. ally and the president says, let me talk to an American ally about presenting citizens from traveling over there.

If I were Nancy Pelosi, I'd send a letter to Mike Pompeo, the secretary f state, saying would you help us support the travel of American citizens to visit a U.S. ally?

The other interesting thing is from the Israeli perspective. Look, AIPAC, the most significant lobby in Washington, I venture their annual event comes out not in support of the president or Benjamin Netanyahu, it comes out in support of two U.S. Muslim congresswomen who are attacked by the president and says the right thing.

We don't agree -- this is AIPAC speaking, we don't agree with the congresswomen but they should see the miracle of Israel and they should travel here so that they can understand firsthand what happened in Israel.

It's the Israeli lobbying telling the president of the United States that he should allow Muslim congresswomen to travel to Israel. If that isn't nuts, Don, you tell me what is.

LEMON: Well --

MUDD: It's a two-Tylenol moment.

LEMON: Daniel, let's bring you back in here. The president has made many claims about what the two congresswomen have said about Israel. Is there any truth to any of that?

DALE: Well, I think some of it is arguably reasonable opinion, even if you don't agree with it. For example, Congresswoman Omar has acknowledged that she said inadvertently used anti-Semitic tropes in a tweet from a number of years ago in which she said Israel had, quote, "hypnotized the world" phrase that has a long anti-Semitic history.

So, I think it's clear the president is exaggerating when he says that these congresswomen hate all Jews. There's no evidence of that. But I don't think it for me to say, you know, whether there's any evidence of anti-Semitism. Their defenders say no, critics say some of these statements about Israel do qualify.

LEMON: Yes. April, you know, the president said tonight, quote, radical Democrats are trying to tear the country apart." But let's put up, this is a new Fox News poll. It says that 59 percent of voters say he is the one tearing the country apart. And a Fox poll tonight shows that if the election were held today, he might lose to a number of top Democrats. So, is this just projecting you think?

RYAN: Yes. Again, the president is trying to create the picture, the winning picture, but the Fox polls are consistent with other polls, some Democratic polls that we've been hearing.

This president at the very least is limited. He does not understand governance. He's changed the dynamic of this nation and the world with his rhetoric.

When you focus in on Democrats trying to hurt the country, you're focusing on yourself because once you point a finger at one person, you got to point a finger at yourself. This president has done a lot to start tearing down the structures, the policies, the foundation that has been built and has been going successfully.

Well, maybe not as successfully as some would like but moving this country towards a direction that is positive versus what we're seeing now.


[22:20:03] LEMON: But April, let's put these numbers put.

RYAN: So, this is definitely a deflection.

LEMON: Because if you look at these numbers, he's not even hitting 40 percent in this poll against the other candidates. The other candidates, if you look at --

RYAN: Right.

LEMON: -- if you look at Biden, Warren, Biden is 50 percent, 46 percent. They're above 40 percent. He is not.

RYAN: Right. Yes. A couple weeks ago there were Democratic polls saying that any candidate, any Democratic candidate could defeat this president, and then we heard later it was Biden and Sanders. And now it's all of them.

We are on a downward turn with this president, who is trying to entertain as well as grab that base with his election effort, his reelection bid, and it is ugly. And people are seeing it for what it is. The will of the people, the good will of the people is speaking through these Fox polls.


RYAN: Fox News is promoting this. And now it's time for the president to turn on Fox. And let's see if he does because they promoted this poll or at least released this honest poll.

LEMON: Philip Mudd, you know, the president continues to fire out tweets and retweets. Today he responded to a post claiming that the FBI was, quote, "too busy to take down Trump to stop the Parkland shooter and Larry Nassar, the doctor who sexually abused gymnasts saying, much truth to this."

He's attacking the FBI for a responsibility in these horrible, horrible crimes. What do you think of that?

MUDD: Can we take just a -- I mean, this is a serious issue. You know, I joke about everything, I can't joke about this. The president refused to acknowledge Russian intervention in the American Democratic process. Russian intervention is an FBI responsibility.

He can't even speak to the FBI about how the president should talk to the American people about protecting themselves during an election. We have a question raised by not me but the FBI director about not Islamic terrorism but domestic terrorism led by white supremacists in this country.

The FBI is the lead on investigating federal charges about white supremacy in this country and the president can't even speak about it. And instead, he steps back and blames the FBI.

How about looking at problems in America and working with the people actually that he appointed to say why don't we have a conversation about whether we need new laws on investigating white supremacy, instead of saying why didn't you investigate Larry Nassar, who was a gymnast physician in Michigan?

I mean, I don't know what the president is talking about. He can't even talk to the American people about Russian intervention, which is something that the FBI has to investigate. Again, what he does, as you said, diverts. Divert, divert, divert.

LEMON: Daniel, listen, the president also offered his totally false conspiracy theory about how he lost New Hampshire in 2016. Watch this.


TRUMP: New Hampshire should have been won last time, except we had a lot of people come in at the last moment, which was a rather strange situation, thousands and thousands of people coming in from locations unknown.


LEMON: How wrong is he and how does this line up with his other voting conspiracy theories?

DALE: Well, it's part and parcel with all of those. And he's totally wrong. So, he was less explicit this evening than he usually is, but what's he's talking about is this conspiracy theory that liberals were illegally bussed from Massachusetts to slightly less liberal at least New Hampshire to illegally cast votes in that state.

The state has investigated these claims in part because the president and his allied have made them and found no evidence whatsoever that there was this kind of mass fraud that he's alleged.

So, he's wrongly alleged mass fraud in New Hampshire, he's wrongly alleged mass fraud in California, he's generally alleged mass fraud by illegal immigrants who he's wrongly said dress up in hats and costumes, disguises to vote illegally.

So, basically, none of his claims are correct. And we know from study after study that a voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

DALE: Thank you.

MUDD: Thank you.

LEMON: Did you see this story today? Did you think it was from the onion? President Trump could be looking into a new real estate venture, he is asking his aides if it is possible to buy -- wait for it -- Greenland. You heard me.


LEMON: I've got a deal for you. Sources say President Trump has on multiple occasions brought the idea of buying Greenland from the Danish government. And the White House counsel's office has looked into the possibility.

Joining me now is Vivian Salama. She is a White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who is the first to report this story. Vivian, thank you so much. I appreciate this. Is this serious? Is the president serious about buying Greenland?

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: He's definitely raised the possibility. But our understanding from the numerous sources that we spoke to is that he's raised it at times seriously, at times not so seriously.

I mean, it's coming from conversations a number of times. Most of the sources that we spoke to didn't necessarily think it was going to happen but the subject had come up in legitimate policy context.

And so, that was something that they really stressed. Is that there were economic contacts, there was also some military elements to it and he's definitely intrigued by it. That's to be sure. Whether or not he's serious as far as to pull the trigger on something like that, it remains to be seen.

LEMON: Yes. So, what is so appealing though about Greenland? Why would it be something the U.S. would want to buy? Is it because we have assets there? Is it, why would we want to buy that?

SALAMA: Well, first of all, Greenland is home to a vast amount of natural resources, just for its location. Really that's been something that the U.S. has eyed for decades. Also, it's a military -- for military purposes, it's a great strategic location. The U.S. actually already has a military base, it's the northern most base that the U.S. has.

[22:29:58] And obviously just for any kind of exploration in the Arctic and things like that, defending off any threats that would be in the Arctic obviously, there's a lot of competition with China, also with Russia in the arctic right now. And so having a base there has been very important to the U.S. And there's always been this desire to expand the U.S. presence there.

But Don, I want to stress the fact that this is actually not the first time that the U.S. has actually explored something like this. The U.S. has actually looked into buying Greenland twice before, once in the 1800s, and then again right after World War II in 1946. And so President Trump's idea is not so off the wall. LEMON: Yeah. OK, so listen, you mentioned -- you said the natural

resources. And you're right. Your source -- one source told you the president was interested in the idea because of the island's natural resources, and because it would give him a legacy akin to a former president, Dwight Eisenhower's admission of Alaska into the U.S. as a state. Do you think it's all about legacy for President Trump?

SALAMA: There's definitely an element to that. I mean President Trump really likes to do these grand gestures and these grand ideas so that he can really stand out from his predecessors, everything from talking to Kim Jong-Un and crossing into North Korea, possibly buying Greenland. And so this is definitely something that has intrigued him for multiple reasons.

But also for everything that you just said, which is that you get these natural resources and kind of have that investment as a result of those natural resources. You gain that military asset by strengthening your position in the arctic, but also you gain this additional territory, which, you know, could be -- impact presidents downs the line and impact the country down the line. So it's definitely something that's piqued his interest.

LEMON: So as always, the question when you're trying to purchase real estate is how much and who are you buying it from? So who would he buy it from and for how much?

SALAMA: So right now, Denmark -- it's an autonomous country, but it actually is overseen by Denmark -- sorry, Greenland. I'm confusing them now. So Greenland is autonomous, but Denmark actually rules it officially that -- the queen is the ruler of Greenland officially. And so they still -- Denmark still gives a lot of money every single year to Greenland. A lot of the subsidy -- it subsidizes a lot of their basic, you know, GDP and things like that.

Without Denmark's assistance financially, Greenland would actually be one of the poorest European nations, and so it depends a lot on Greenland -- it depends a lot on Denmark. I am confusing the two of them tonight. It's been a long day. But one thing that's really important to note is we tried to calculate it, because the 1946 attempt to purchase Den -- to purchase Greenland, the U.S. offered $100 million.

And so we tried to figure out, OK, in 2019, how much exactly would Greenland possibly be worth. We couldn't really get an exact figure. But just to give you an idea what they were looking at back then, $100 million. Of course, Denmark didn't go for it at the time. And there's no thing that Denmark would go for it now. Maybe we'll find out, because President Trump is heading to Denmark next month.

LEMON: So the answer is a lot of money, basically.

SALAMA: A lot of money.

LEMON: There's a record ice melt in Greenland this year. In one day, this summer, the ice sheet covering the island lost a 11 billion tons of ice. I mean it is ironic that he'd be interested in buying Greenland, but not at all interested in the climate crisis that threatens it.

SALAMA: Well, it is interesting. It's something worth noting is that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is supposed to go to Greenland in May. And one of the issues that he was going to be talking about is some of the economic development there. But one of the things he refused to talk about, and this was an issue that came up numerous times was is he wouldn't really acknowledge climate change ahead of that visit.

Now, I want to mention that that visit actually was cancelled because of the Iran crisis that was escalating at that time, so he didn't end up going. But this was a sticking point for a lot of my colleagues who were covering the State Department, who were trying to get some sort of recognition from him, especially going to a place like Greenland, which is so impacted by climate change, and he wouldn't go there.

LEMON: Yeah. Vivian, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

SALAMA: Thank you.

LEMON: Democrats outraged after President Trump urged Israel to block entry to two of his political enemies, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. I'm going to get reaction from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. That's next.


LEMON: The United States Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, banned from traveling to Israel. That, right after President Trump tweeted this. He said -- he accused them of hating Israel, advising the country that would "show great weakness if they were allowed in." There's the tweet up on your screen. Joining me now is -- to discuss is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, good to see you. Thank you.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Good to be here with you.


LEMON: Give me your reaction to the president urging Israel to ban two sitting Congresswomen from visiting.

JACKSON LEE: Well, I heard the discussion just the other day on the economy here in the United States, and someone described this administration as a drunken, out of control, with no purpose. And I would simply say that today I was stunned.

Frankly, it is an administration out of control, office of the presidency out of control. It is engaging in behavior that, historically, has never been heard of by the president of the United States.

I am appalled and stunned that you would tell another nation not to allow your citizens, who are not members of Congress, but plainly are law abiding citizens. Those two members of Congress were law abiding citizens, due citizens of the United States. Tragically, it goes again to the attitude of the administration about Muslims and the fake news about people's beliefs, of which they know none of.

[22:40:08] And so I believe Israel should reconsider and allow these two sitting members of Congress to do their oversight duties.

LEMON: But he said they hate all Jews.

JACKSON LEE: And asked the question what proof does he have? I have no proof of that. And I've not seen any evidence of hatred from those two members. They have different opinions from many of us. They have different opinions from many people in the United States Congress and many people in the United States, but they have opinions that are the same that some people have in the United States.

But the most important point is if diplomacy is diplomacy, then what it means is that you engage, you allow discussion and dissent and debate. And that's what our Constitution protects. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, we hold that very dear.

LEMON: Yeah.

JACKSON LEE: And so I would just ask the leadership of Israel to reconsider, and take note of the fact that APAC, a strong, strong, resolved organization for the survival, support, and promotion of the people of Israel. And Israel has indicated that that was wrong headed and that Israel should open its doors to these two members of Congress.

LEMON: You just mentioned -- you said you're a member of the House Judiciary Committee, you are. Today, the committee issued subpoenas for Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, the former White House aide and Rick Dearborn. What do you need to hear from them, Congresswoman?

JACKSON LEE: Well, they were cited as one of the -- how should I say, building block of obstruction of justice. Those two individuals were asked by the president of the United States to ask General Sessions, who had recused himself already, Attorney General Sessions, who was ultimately fired, to dumb down the Mueller report, to make sure that it didn't investigate Trump.

And actually he dictated a note to Corey, and Corey was supposed to take it to Attorney General Sessions, who had already recused himself, outrageous. And when Corey failed to do his duty or his bidding, he then asked Mr. Dearborn, hey, let me just throw it off on you. You're a deputy chief to Attorney General Sessions. You need to take this note that says dumb down the Mueller report.

Only talk about -- first time he probably ever said it is the impact on the elections, but don't investigate the Trump administration, and really told those individuals not to say anything. So we want to probe what else he may have told them. And frankly, this is now so many factors that seems to be leading toward articles of impeachment. We believe that we should be fully informed as we move toward that. LEMON: I know you want to talk about guns before we run out of time

here. What message do you want to send tonight?

JACKSON LEE: I want to send tonight that first we have the tragedy of 22 dead people in El Paso. I just came back from El Paso. The people are resilient but they are mourning. They're hurting. They're burying their loved ones.

They're sitting in hospital rooms. Dayton, California, and just in the last 48 hours the siege in Philly, Pennsylvania, and the mayor just pleading to the American people and to the United States government there are too many guns.

And so frankly, I want us to be courageous enough to ban assault weapons, to ban these high-powered ammunition, to ensure that the universal background checks do pass, and to focus on white supremacy. I met with the secretary of Homeland Security in Mississippi on Tuesday with the Homeland Security Committee and chairman, and I said that racism is a national security threat.

We've got to face this and we've got to own up to it. We've got to fix it. I would like to think we had a president of the United States that would immediately sign gun safety legislation, but as well, begin to acknowledge racism, white supremacy, ask himself internally who he is and what he is, and to denounce it, and to heal this nation. That's what we need.

LEMON: Congresswoman, always a pleasure.

JACKSON LEE: A pleasure to be with you.

LEMON: Thank you very much. It's good to have you here in studio in New York City.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you.

LEMON: President Trump doesn't seem to want to speak out about violent protests in Hong Kong, but he didn't hesitate to urge Israel to ban the U.S. -- United States congresswomen. Is he getting his priorities right on the world stage? I am going to ask two former ambassadors. That's next.


LEMON: The president using the power of his office to urge Israel to ban two American congresswomen while avoiding speaking out on violent protests in Hong Kong. What does the world think of all this? I want to discuss now with two diplomats, Daniel Shapiro, the former Ambassador to Israel, and Nicholas Burns, former Ambassador to NATO and to Greece.

Gentlemen, it's an honor to have both of you on. Thank you so much. Ambassador Shapiro, I'm going to start with you. President Trump was asked today about getting involved in the congresswomen's trip to Israel? Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you feel the need to get involved in the congresswomen's trip to Israel?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I am only involved from the standpoint of they are very anti-Jewish and they're very anti-Israel. I think it's disgraceful, the things they've said. You have lists of -- this isn't just a one-line mistake. What they've said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing, and they've become the face of the Democrat Party.


LEMON: So Ambassador Shapiro, if the president intervene, how significant is that?

[22:50:00] AMBASSADOR DANIEL SHAPIRO, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, it's significant, because what he's doing is great damage to the historic foundation of a very important relationship, the U.S.' relationship, which has always depended on broad bipartisan support, so that is stable and durable through changes of parties and changes government in both countries.

Instead, he's made it subject to the same divisive, racist politics that he's applying to immigration, that he's applying to policing and gun issues, and decided to make these members of Congress, who have been his foils for this racist rhetoric of his, part of the story in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel had made a decision a month ago to allow them to visit Israel, even though they hold views that are very critical, (INAUDIBLE) I strongly disagree with by the way, including supporting boycotts and divestments and sanctions and Israel.

But Israel made the sensible decision that any member of Congress should be able to visit because of the strong relationship they have with this country and with both parties. And then he decided to throw that relationship into the morass of his racist politics, and the prime minister of Israel, who is in a very desperate reelection battle and advertises his close relationship with President Trump as his main asset, decided he had to go along with it.

LEMON: Ambassador Burns, the president seems to have used the power of his office to keep diplomatically elected -- democratically elected, I should say, representatives from doing their jobs. Is that an abuse of power? What are your thoughts on this?

AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO NATO: I think it is -- this is -- Don, this is a disgraceful decision by the president. I can't remember anything like this in the history of our country. These two women are elected representatives. They represent lots of people in their home states in Michigan and in Minnesota. And they have a constitutional right and duty to travel overseas to help this country have an effective foreign policy.

The precedent here is also very dangerous. The president now gives an excuse to Russia or to China or other authoritarian regimes to deny entry by American members of Congress, because those members have been critical of those countries. And so all around, this is a very damaging day for the United States. And I think, Don, it also gets to the point that the president is -- has been extremely weak in foreign policy.

He styles himself as kind of a strongman, but he's not a strongman at all, because the strongest power of the American presidency is to defend our democracy, to honor it, to honor human rights, and freedom of speech. And these women are now being -- these representatives are now being denied that by the president of the United States.

LEMON: Ambassador Shapiro, you heard what Ambassador Burns said. He said it's been a damaging day for the United States, I mean by exploiting a domestic issue on the international stage. Is the president making it more difficult to conduct foreign policy? What are the risks here?

SHAPIRO: Well, there's no question that our allies have already concluded that this president will always place his own political interests higher than the relationships that have really sustained U.S. foreign policy interests over many decades. He attacks our NATO allies. He attacks and often abandons the interests of our Asian allies. He throws the U.S. relationship, historically a bipartisan one, into the morass of U.S. partisan politics.

And then he shows his strong support for dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, or is silent or nearly silent on the peaceful protesters demanding their rights in Hong Kong. The message to most of the world is dictators can get their way. Democracies and allies and the important relationships we have built with them and sustained with them over many decades are completely expendable on the whims of his emotions and his Twitter feed, and his political needs as he heads into a difficult reelection year.

LEMON: Ambassador Burns, President Trump was asked today if he is concerned about a violent crackdown by China in Hong Kong. I want you to listen to what he said about China's president.


TRUMP: He's a man I like a lot. I get along with him very well, President Xi. And I said that I would be willing to bet that if he sat down with the protesters, a group of representative protesters, I would bet he'd work it out in 15 minutes.


LEMON: Ambassador Burns, I will be honest. I mean that sounds very naive to me. Is it?

BURNS: It's naive. I will make a bet that the protesters and President Xi could not work out a deal in 15 minutes. I mean the fact is that the United States has supported this handover of power from Britain to China. We did it on June 30th, 1997. I was there with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. We have always believed that the rights of the people of Hong Kong, in that agreement, should be respected for at least the 50 years of the term of the agreement.

[22:55:00] And the president, if you look at his tweets today and in past days and his other public statements, he is opening the door to the Chinese government to use military force against those protesters. You cannot read it any other way. And that's exactly how the Chinese government is reading it. So the greatest authority the president -- the presidency has always had is the moral authority of our democracy, of our founding principles.

And Dan's exactly right, Ambassador Shapiro. The president has let our allies down. He's dismantled the global trade regime. He's made a thousand mistakes in foreign policy. The greatest one is this. He's not exercising the democratic power, the belief in human rights that Americans have always believed in. And in that regard, he's completely deficient as a president and weak as a president in expressing our values, and you're seeing that in Hong Kong.

LEMON: Ambassadors Burns and Shapiro, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. We'll be right back.

BURNS: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: Thank you.