Return to Transcripts main page
Rep. Omar Responds To Israel's Ban On Her Entry: "Chilling"; Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) Is Interviewed About Banning Of Omar And Tlaib On Visit To Israel; Market Whiplash: China Threatens To Retaliate Against Tariffs; WAPO: Autopsy Found Broken Bones In Epstein's Neck. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired August 15, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.
Just moments ago, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar responded to what critics are calling an unprecedented diplomatic disaster. The congresswoman herself is calling it, quote, unquote, "an affront," after she and fellow Democratic lawmaker, Rashida Tlaib, have just been banned from entering Israel. The rejection up ends the trip that they were planning to take this upcoming weekend. Congresswoman Tlaib has yet to respond.
But Omar wrote this, quote, "Trump's Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected members of Congress." Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to ever serve in Congress. And the congresswoman goes on to say, "As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world." She writes, "The irony of the only democracy in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation."
Israeli Prime Minister, meantime, Benjamin Netanyahu said that the two women's purpose for the visit was, quote, unquote, "negating the legitimacy of Israel."
Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib support BDS that is the movement to boycott Israel and protest of its policies against Palestinians. Israel announced the denial of entry after President Trump tweeted that it would show, quote, "great weakness," if these two congresswomen were not banned.
So let's start with CNN's Oren Liebermann. He's live in Jerusalem. What more are you hearing, Oren?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot that's unprecedented. First, President Donald Trump's tweet saying Israel will be showing great weakness by letting them in. Basically, Trump trying to dictate to Israel what its foreign policy should be, and perhaps more importantly, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu very little wiggle room in terms of what his decision would be.
Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with Trump and he wasn't about to start now. A short time after that tweet, the announcement came first from the deputy foreign minister and then from Netanyahu himself. But the Israeli government had officially - and this is the other unprecedented part -- decided to deny entry to two American duly elected congresswomen. And that's something that hasn't happened here before.
Israel relying upon a law that was passed about two and a half years ago that allows it to bar entry to anyone who supports a boycott of Israel. But this is certainly the most high profile use of that law since it was passed and since it was enacted.
It's also worth noting, this is a reversal of Israel's policy. About a month ago, it was Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, considered one of those closest to Netanyahu, who said, out of respect for the U.S. Congress, Israel would allow these two congresswomen to visit. That lasted all up until this afternoon with Trump's tweet, and then the official statement coming from the Israeli government and from Netanyahu.
Well, criticism has come from all over the place, including interestingly enough from the pro-Israel American lobby AIPAC, which normally sides with Trump and Netanyahu, saying this time that although yes, these congresswomen might be anti-Israel, it was still better to allow them to enter the country, to learn, to see and to meet. So, an unusual rift there between AIPAC and Trump and Netanyahu.
Criticism also coming from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Steny Hoyer, all of them saying, look, it would be better to interact with them, to interface with them and to let them learn about Israel on what was supposed to be about a four-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, a trip that we now know will no longer happen, barring some, frankly, even more surprising reversal on the part of Israel, which I don't expect at this point at all.
BALDWIN: Oren, let me just ask you, because we saw Netanyahu's statement on who they would not be visiting with, do you know, were they planning to meet with members of the Israeli government?
LIEBERMANN: According to organizers of the trip, they weren't supposed to meet any government officials on either side. They're going to meet civil service groups, human rights organizations, as well as peace activists - Israeli and Palestinian.
We did speak with democratic congressional aide familiar with the trip who said that Congresswoman Omar was planning to meet first with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, who lives in Israel as well as some members of Israel's Knesset, though that aide did not say which members Israel's Knesset.
Omar, let's not forget, is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Those meetings, of course, will now no longer be happening. [15:05:02] BALDWIN: Oren Liebermann, thank you very much, in Jerusalem.
With me now, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana.
Congressman Carson, thank you so much for being with me.
REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN): Thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: First your response, obviously, a, to Israel banning these two sitting members of Congress and b, to the fact that a U.S. president is essentially telling a foreign country and an ally not to let them in.
CARSON: I'm deeply disappointed. Israel has been an important ally to the United States for countless years and for them to allow a tweet from President Trump to influence them is akin to a bully taking a kids lunch money to school.
BALDWIN: You say Israel is being bullied by Trump. Have you talked to either of these --
BALDWIN: Have you talked to either of these congresswomen about this?
CARSON: Not yet, I mean, we talked about the trip -- I have a conflicting commitment that wouldn't allow me to attend the trip, but I'm deeply disappointed. I mean we have two democratically elected members of Congress who are serving our country phenomenally well. For them to be prevented from entering into the country, I think it speaks to a kind of political opportunism on the sides of both Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu who both face questionable re-election efforts.
And so, this effort at political expediency disappoints me because it raises the point, how deeply are they concerned about strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel. Or are they just concerned about both their far right wing constituents.
BALDWIN: I want to come back to Netanyahu in a second. But we've seen the tweet, the statement from Congresswoman Omar. What would you advise these congresswomen to do? What are their options?
CARSON: Well I think they're smart. I mean, colleagues are speaking out, myself and others, Speaker Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, other rank and file members are speaking out. Even AIPAC has spoken out against this measure, which is just saying a lot.
And so, I think globally, people see that this is a grave injustice. And it doesn't look well for Israel. My appeal is to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I met with on several occasions to reconsider this ban. Not for political expediency, but for the sake of all democracies across the globe.
BALDWIN: I should also add to your list of folks speaking out, even Republican Senator Marco Rubio, you know, talking about how he disagrees with these ladies on policy, but he said denying them entry into Israel is a mistake. Now, Netanyahu mentioned the boycott movement, right, known as the BDS movement. And you're one of only 17 people in the House to support it, can you tell me why?
CARSON: Well, for me it was about allowing free speech, no government, no individual, no group of people, no person, including myself is above reproach, criticism, critique and I think if you consider yourself to have democratic values, if you consider yourself to be a democracy, you should be self-aware enough or self-critical enough to have enough of an approach to self-analysis to be able to accept criticism and critiques to strengthen your policies and to strengthen your nation.
And so to stop this kind of dissent, to stop this kind criticism of the Israeli policies as it relates to settlement expansion, as it relates to the mistreatment of Palestinians, as it relates to this treatment of Africans, Ethiopian, Jews. I think there has to be a reassessment about the direction that the great state of Israel wants to take.
BALDWIN: Congressman Andre Carson, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
CARSON: What an honor, thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you, sir.
President Trump's trade war today taking some dramatic twists, China unleashing a threat as Trump's offensive tone, even wooing the Chinese leader on Twitter. China vowing today to retaliate against the U.S. over looming tariffs even after Trump's move to delay them until December.
All of this is happening as Wall Street whiplash ravels the stock market's stocks regaining some momentum after Wednesday's 800 points slide, set off by investors reacting to a significant recession warning signs.
So first, let's go to Chris Cillizza on this. And I know you've been looking in a Trump's sort of more positive economic stance, right, while dire signs of red lights flashing on a possible recession are happening. What are you seeing?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, Brooke. So this approach strategically by Donald Trump is similar to his approach on lots of things. There's boosterism and blame, both happening almost simultaneously on tracks by the president.
First, to boosterism, this is from this morning, the United States is now by far the biggest, strongest, most powerful economy in the world and it's not even close, et cetera, et cetera. Remember the blame part I mentioned? [15:10:00] Let's go to the next one, these are tweets that came up - you know this is literally - look at all these dates. This is all within the last 24 to 36 hours, the fed has got to do something. The problem is with the fed, thank you to clueless Jay Powell. By the way, annotated -- I nominated him to the fed -- Donald Trump. And the Federal Reserve, the fed is holding us back. Jay Powell made two enormous mistakes.
Now, what Donald Trump's issue here is that the fed is not cutting in his mind interest rates fast enough to keep up with interest rate cuts being done around the world. Except what's another thing we know about Donald Trump. There's a tweet for everything. September 29, 2011. The fed's low interest rates, and flooding the market with dollars needs to be stopped or we will face record inflation. But he just said that they're not cutting interest rates.
OK. This is the point, right? So there's -- without question, there's boosterism, there's blame, and yes, there is hypocrisy. This is -- that sentence is basically Donald Trump's presidency in one sentence, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Pretty telling, looking at all those tweets. And just on the trade war front, you know, the White House is trying to have it both ways, right? Tariffs are great and delaying tariffs, also great.
CILLIZZA: Yes. Look, any economist will tell you that the American consumers paying for this tariff war with China. Except Donald Trump is in a kind of he won't tell you that. But of late, the last 24 hours, two people involved very closely in his trade policy, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, have essentially acknowledged that. Let's play that sound first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: We heard two things from the businesses that were going to be impacted by this. First of all, for the holidays, they had already bought the stuff, they had dollar denominated contracts, there was no way based on those contracts they could shift the burden of the price, the tariffs back to the Chinese. And on that basis, alone, there was no reason to inflict harm on ourselves.
WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Nobody wants to take any chance of disrupting the Christmas season.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: Now, again, that's very different. And I'll use his words, not mine, than what Donald Trump has been saying about who tariffs hit and who they hurt. And let's play Donald Trump on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American taxpayer is not paying for it, the American taxpayer is not paying for it. What China's doing, is by depressing their currency and by pouring tremendous amounts of money into their system. They're paying for it. The prices have not gone up. In fact in some cases they've gone down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: So look, Brooke, you can see there, there's the evidence on audio, direct contradiction there. Tariffs are being paid for by the American public ask any economist. It's why they're being delayed until December 15th. So as not to hurt the holiday spending season here, there's just a hypocrisy contradiction.
This is Donald Trump. He holds boosterism, blame, hypocrisy, all in one show. And you're seeing it in this trade war which I will remind people, Donald Trump famously said these trade wars are easy to win. Brooke, back to you.
BALDWIN: He brought it on himself, thank you for calling it out. Chris Cilliza, good to have you on. Let's get more analysis. Linette Lopez is back with us, senior finance correspondent for "Business Insider." Hello to you.
LINETTE LOPEZ, SENIOR FINANCE CORRESPONDENT, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Hello. What a day, what a last few days.
BALDWIN: I mean -- the White House is obviously very concerned about the public perception of these trade wars on the markets, on the economy, that the president today tried blaming the media. Let me just read for you, this is from "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board. Peace today. They wrote in part, "Someone should tell Mr. Trump that incumbent presidents who preside over recessions within two years of an election rarely get a second term." Your thoughts?
LOPEZ: I think Donald Trump is very aware of that, and he's doing everything that he can to bully the fed, make it look like it's the feds fault, and keep interest rates as low as possible to keep money flowing through the economy. That's fine. It's not going to work. What he's doing with these tariffs, even by delaying them. The next wave of terrorists really hits close, right?
Speakers, whatever, retail. Retail has been part of this economy that's been suffering. Stores have been closing. Workers have been getting laid off. It's just a weak sector of the economy. He's going to kick the weak man here. And retails obviously, consumer spending, that's the strongest part of the global economy right now, not just America, the American consumer is the brightest spot of the entire world.
And so, now he's doing even more to damage that. I don't know if he realizes this, and he's just putting on a show or if he genuinely believes things that are not true. But either way, it's going to be a very rough couple of months, rough couple of years, potentially, and that's what the yield curve, this inverted thing, that is what it's telling us. It's telling us that the next two years are looking cloudier and more uncertain than 10 years from now. [15:15:00] So, it's a very confusing thing for normal people, but simply that's it. It just means that the market is saying the next two years are looking kind of weird. That's -- that should be obvious, Donald Trump is saying that there are going to be more tariffs in the future.
And he's also at the same time trying to make nice with Xi Jinping but Xi Jinping has seen this play before. You know, naughty and nice Donald Trump is very familiar to Chinese policy makers. So now they're done. They're just going to do their own thing.
BALDWIN: You know who it's not going over well with is farmers, right? Farmers -- many of whom who supported President Trump, then candidate Trump in 16, they're struggling. We sent Vanessa Yurkevich to Minnesota. I just want to play this. This is when she caught up with the president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY WERTISH, PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA FARMERS UNION: Words in Twitter and tweets, that doesn't pay the farmer's bills, it doesn't solve the problem we're dealing with, and you know, this one, like I said earlier, this is self-inflicted by our president. And we definitely agree -- it doesn't appear that there's a plan b.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: He said it himself, right? The tweet, the Twitters, you know it's self-inflicted.
LOPEZ: There's no plan b.
BALDWIN: The president needs these farmers, a, just for our own - you know from our own country. For our own production, but also, come November 2020.
LOPEZ: Saying that there's a plan b makes it sound like there was a plan a, and there was no plan a. The plan a, was just Donald Trump being himself, bullying, trying to shove Xi Jinping in a corner. If you watch Chinese media, they really haven't said anything negative about the United States in terms of this trade war. Until like May, when things really started to fall apart.
Now you have the media there up all these nationalist sentiments, it makes it almost impossible for Xi Jinping to back down because now his government is able to place their economic problems on the shoulders of the United States. And why not? That's a great thing for them. They blame it on us instead of their own problems. So why would Xi Jinping fix this now. There's no reason.
BALDWIN: Which is a massive problem for America and in particular, politically speaking, potentially President Trump. Linette Lopez, thank you.
Coming up next, new details about Jeffrey Epstein's death inside of a New York jail, "The Washington Post" reporting that his neck bones were broken, we'll explain exactly what that could mean. And growing calls for Iowa Congressman Steve King to resign after he made an appalling comment about rape and incest. We'll be right back.
[15:22:22] BALDWIN: Representatives for Jeffrey Epstein, including a pathologist hired by his family who was present during the multimillionaire's autopsy says that they're not disputing a medical examiner finding that he decide by suicide over this past weekend.
Epstein who was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges was found dead in his jail cell early Sunday morning. The autopsies still has not been released to the public but two people familiar with the findings tell "The Washington Post" that Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bone, including one located near his Adam's apple.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is our chief medical correspondent here at CNN and Elie Honig is a CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor. He was also the assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York which announced the entitlement of Epstein earlier this summer.
But to the good doctor, Sanjay, just to you, you know that when you read the post this morning, it cites these experts to say this inquiry, raised new questions about Epstein's death. But are these fractures necessarily inconsistent with a suicide by hanging, especially given his age?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. The answer to that question is No. I don't think that this is inconsistent with that at all. I think what a lot of people have made a lot of tension of is this fracture of his bone that you referred to called the hyoid bone. And you know you could feel this yourself, I mean, just if you run your finger along your jaw, the first sort of hard thing you feel right in front of your windpipe, that's the hyoid bone.
As you get older, that bone becomes more brittle and breaks more easily and it's often something that is - can fracture when someone is strangulated. It can also fracture when somebody dies by hanging as well. So it happens in both cases, and I don't think it really makes a clear impression one way or the other.
I will say, Brooke, the other part of what you said, that he had these other fractures in his neck, one could argue that could happen in either situation too. But perhaps that's more likely to happen from something that is - sort of from hanging or drop hanging. There's even a type of fracture of these bones in the neck called the hangman's fracture. We don't know if that was the type of fracture that he had, but I don't think by this limited information you could draw a conclusion other than, he had these broken bones, it can't really tell you exactly still how those bones were fractured.
BALDWIN: Got it, and then on the investigation you, sir, say that there is a big difference between cause of death and manner of death.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's a really important distinction. Cause of death is the scientific reason caused impetuous for the death. It could be gunshot wound. It could heart attack. It could be overdose, any number, but that's usually pretty objective.
[15:25:00] Then you have manner of death, and people need to understand, because I know on TV, the medical examiner will finish the autopsy and say, this was a suicide, this was a homicide. But in reality, there's a subjective element that goes into determining manner of death - homicide, suicide, accident --
BALDWIN: How do you mean?
HONIG: So, the medical examiner has to look at all the evidence and draw certain judgements. And it's not black and white. And I've seen multiple medical examiners look at the same autopsy and disagree on whether it was a suicide or homicide.
And this piece of evidence about the hyoid bone is a perfect example. We just heard Dr. Gupta say it's consistent with suicide. It's also consistent with homicide. And so what the medical examiner has to do is look at all the evidence and draw conclusion. But I understand, it can be challenged even in court.
BALDWIN: So -- OK. So that's your point about it being subjective. Sanjay, medical examiners look at factors besides autopsies, right, before reaching any sort of conclusion? So, what could other factors include?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean we need to keep in mind we're dealing with a really limited information here, and also it sounds like it was a description of the autopsy given to reporters, so is there some lost in translation there. There are all sorts of things that go into this, things that are totally unrelated to what we're talking about - toxins in the body.
Was there a poisoning? Was there something else that occurred here? Were there signs of struggle? You know that would be a big thing to Elie's point about homicide versus suicide. Maybe not enough to be conclusive but if someone struggled it's obviously going to paint a different picture.
Were there underlying medical conditions? I mean, again, nobody is suggesting that. We don't know that. But when you're doing an autopsy, when you're trying to render some sort of conclusion like this in an unusual situation like this, you look at everything, really, even the patient history, and any other medical problems that pre-existed.
BALDWIN: Part of the investigation, even looking into his health condition prior to you know when they found him. Looking at - Elie well knows, he's been in MCC at time like all the cameras around, who was coming, who was going, that kind of thing, that's all part of this investigation. Sanjay and Elie, thank you both very much.
Just in to CNN, the mayor of El Paso saying the president accused him of being a RINO, that's Republican in name only. The president visited last week in the mass shooting aftermath. We have that for you, next.