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Five Immigration Protesters Injured; Greenland to Trump: We're Not For Sale; Trump's Tumultuous Two Weeks. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


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(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jack Lemmon becomes Daphne. And without really trying to, he attracts a millionaire, who falls in love with him.

JACK LEMMON, ACTOR: I'm engaged.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Congratulations. Who's the lucky girl?

LEMMON: I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The finale of the new CNN original series, "THE MOVIES," airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

And we roll on, on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

Call it the fortnight of frenzy. Even by Trump standards, the last two weeks have been turbulent, both domestically and globally.

So, let's start, let's just go there with the conspiracy. So, the president retweets this guy who implied that Jeffrey Epstein didn't die by suicide, but was actually killed by the Clintons.

He also retweets a claim from a random Twitter account that the FBI ignored investigating the Parkland shooter and the convicted sex abuse -- abuser, Larry Nassar, because they too were busy investigating Trump.

In the aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the president insulted the mayors of both of those cities. And then there was this photo with the little baby who was orphaned in those El Paso attacks, a thumbs up and a grin. That didn't go over well.

Neither did the Mississippi ICE raids, which became a new kind of family separation for this administration and left kids alone without their parents.

But acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli warned, more are coming.

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KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Their enforcement efforts are up. And I think you can expect to see more of that as part of the message of this administration. We're going to enforce the law.

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BALDWIN: And, of course, it was Cuccinelli who then tried to take a red pin to the Statue of Liberty poem.

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QUESTION: Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus' words etched on the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor," are also part of the American ethos?

CUCCINELLI: 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.

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.

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BALDWIN: And even those who have been loyal to this president not only turned on him, but suggested he's not all there.

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ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This guy, I was loyal to him because that is the nature of my background. That is the nature of my neighborhood.

And I was trying to do everything I could to stay loyal to him, but he's going crazier and crazier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It's not any calmer on the global stage. The president tiptoed around the pro-democracy revolt unfold folding in Hong Kong, and largely ignored a series of missile launches by North Korea.

In fact, he praised Kim Jong-un and criticized the joint U.S. and South Korean military drills as -- quote -- "ridiculous."

He also took to Twitter to urge Israeli leaders to block two U.S. congresswomen from visiting. And that is exactly what Israel did.

The economy, the Dow, which he always takes credit for when it's up, dropped 800 points after the bond market warned of a recession. Of course, he blamed everyone from the Fed chair to the media.

And you know the guy he mocked at his rally for being overweight? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That guy's got a serious weight problem. Go home. Start exercising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: It turns out the president called him today, but he did not apologize.

And to cap it all off, the president inquired about purchasing Greenland, like, the country. While buying Greenland might be strategically awesome, Greenland currently belongs to Denmark.

And Denmark's foreign minister says -- quote -- "if Trump is truly contemplating this, then this is the final proof that he has gone mad."

So you're saying there's a chance Greenland is for sale?

Folks, that was two weeks, two weeks.

Let me bring in Michael Smerconish. He is host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

And, Michael, beyond all the chaos here, the president has always considered the economy his failsafe issue. But with that potentially in jeopardy -- and, reportedly, this administration doesn't have a plan if there is a recession -- can he still run on the economy?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I just listened and paid attention to the highlight reel.

And to hear what's transpired in the last week or two, you would say, that's a real S-show, right? But it didn't stop anybody who showed up last night in New Hampshire. It did not keep away the record crowd that showed up in Manchester last night to hear their guy.

So what do I interpret from that? Nothing that you have articulated will dissuade those who supported him from doing so again, with the exception, though, Brooke, to your question, of the economy. He may be able to shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, but the polling data and the focus group analysis suggests that this really is his Achilles' heel.

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He's never been above 50 percent as president in terms of his approval rating, but he's been evaluated in the best of economic conditions, and only comes in, in the mid-40s.

So, bottom line, all of the other things are, frankly, a harrumph in the age of Trump. The economy, big stuff.

BALDWIN: Such a valid point, and people showed up for him. And then if and when he does feel cornered by whatever the issue may be, right, the president has shown he knows how to turn his voters against his political rivals.

Or you think of what he was able to do with Robert Mueller, the special counsel. But the economy, Michael, I would argue, is not something that he could weaponize, right? I mean, at the end of the day, everyone has a wallet. Everyone's worrying about their financial business.

And it's that feeling of security, or lack thereof, that they would bring to the ballot box next November.

SMERCONISH: I think what you're saying is, and I agree with it, he can't lay this off on somebody else.

BALDWIN: That's what I'm saying.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Yes, the reason that he can't lay it off on somebody else is, because for the last two years, he's been taking full credit for it. I mean, you can't point at Strzok and Page, or Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, right, or Jim Comey.

I could sit here and I could give you the laundry list of the usual suspects. But you can't blame any of them if the economy takes a turn. And I'm just not equipped to know if there's some kind of a blip on the radar screen right now or if this is the beginning of a downturn. I hope it's not the beginning of a downturn.

BALDWIN: Of course. Of course. We all hope that. We all hope that.

Let me ask you about this. "The New York Times" has an interesting article today on Senator Elizabeth Warren, saying that she inspires this incredible amount of voter enthusiasm, and even some FOX News polling shows that she is second only now to Joe Biden.

But there is also this fear over her electability. And I'm just wondering, why do you think that is? And how would she need to overcome that hurdle?

SMERCONISH: So, Jonathan Martin, who wrote the piece of "The Times," is a guest of mine, tomorrow on CNN to talk about this.

And there seems to be a head vs. heart debate playing itself within the Democratic Party, where the passion is stirred by Elizabeth Warren, because those who are the party activists, they appreciate her pure progressivism.

But there's this concern. There are these flashbacks to Walter Mondale or Dukakis or even McGovern for those who are old enough, and they say, uh-oh, is she too doctrinaire, is she too liberal to be able to run against Donald Trump? And are we, the most progressive in the party, better off taking two-thirds of a loaf of bread and running with Joe instead?

So it's a really interesting debate. And I don't have an answer to your question, which is, how does she combat it? How does she say, no, no, no, I am electable and you can you can have your cake and eat it too?

BALDWIN: So Warren would be the heart. I think you're saying Biden would be the head.

We will watch for your conversation with Jonathan Martin tomorrow. I will be curious which one would went out at the end of the day?

SMERCONISH: Thanks for that.

BALDWIN: Michael Smerconish, thank you very much. We will be tuning in to "SMERCONISH" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. here on CNN.

SMERCONISH: See you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Also today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan says that she will not go to Israel, thus rejecting this reversal made by Israel over her visit planned for this upcoming weekend.

Just a day ago, Israel said that it was denying Congresswoman Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar entry due to their support of the boycott Israel movement, also known as BDS, which protests policies against the Palestinians.

And then Congresswoman Tlaib made a plea to be able to go. She wanted to go see your grandmother. She is in her 90s, who lives in the West Bank. So Israel's interior minister granted her access on the basis of humanitarian grounds and after she -- quote, unquote -- "committed to accept Israel's restrictions."

Flash forward to this morning. Congresswoman Tlaib rebuke the offer, tweeting this: "When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can't allow the state of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me and use my love for my city to bow down -- city to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies."

"Silencing me," she goes on, "and treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in, fighting against racism, oppression, and injustice."

Israel's ban on Congresswoman Omar visiting, though, remains unchanged.

And Kelly Magsamen is a former Defense Department official who has served the National Security Council and the State Department. And she's now at the Center for American Progress.

So, Kelly, nice to have you back.

And I was reading some of your notes on all of this. And you said this is a disgrace. Tell me why.

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR IRAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Absolutely.

I mean, I have served in National Security Council staffs for two presidents. I have worked closely with the Israelis on a number of national security issues. The U.S.-Israel relationship is a unique one, has been traditionally bipartisan.

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I think it's a disgrace for both Israel and for the United States, the fact that President Trump essentially told a foreign government that they should bar entry to a member of Congress, who's also a member of the political opposition party, has a tremendously negative precedent, not just for Israel issues, but also beyond Israel.

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BALDWIN: What do you think his motivation is, Trump's?

MAGSAMEN: Oh, I think Trump thinks that, politically, this works for him, he can continue to try to divide Democrats around the issue of Israel.

I think he's trying to sow some division within the party, appeal to a very right-wing evangelical base within his own party. His instincts in this case are purely political. And unfortunately, for Israel, that's going to have long-term implications.

BALDWIN: But what about globally? Do you think there's a bigger motivation?

MAGSAMEN: I don't know if there's a bigger motivation globally, but it does set the precedent for another country, say, a Russia or a China, to say, well, maybe to curry Trump's favor, we can ban members of the Democratic Party from visiting or anyone who critiques us.

I think Trump doesn't think about these things. He has no sense of the weight of the office, the responsibilities of the office, the responsibility to uphold the values of the United States and our Constitution. And I think just you're seeing how that's playing out right now.

BALDWIN: What about the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu? What's his motivation here?

MAGSAMEN: I think this -- for Bibi, this is -- in some ways, it's not that surprising. He's a highly political prime minister. He's been very much a part of trying to drive this relationship into a political domain.

So, in some ways, it's not surprising, but it's also a sign of real weakness for the prime minister. I mean, he essentially is in his own political battle back at home. So, part of this is his own politics within the right wing of Israel.

So, this is all -- all politics. And, unfortunately, it's going to have long term-strategic implications. BALDWIN: I do want to read this tweet. This is from Republican

Senator Marco Rubio. And he talked about how he disagrees with these two congresswomen on Israel and how he's the author of the anti-BDS bill.

But just going towards the end, he suggests that this ban -- and this is -- this was from yesterday, right before the reversal on the humanitarian grounds. He suggested the ban might be exactly what these two congresswomen wanted, he says, to bolster what he called attacks on Israel.

And now, just given the fact that she's not going and stirring up even more headlines, does that give any credence to what Senator Rubio is saying?

MAGSAMEN: Well, first of all, I don't think that this is what they wanted, in any way, shape, or form.

But I do think Senator Rubio's point about giving wind to the forces that Israel actually opposes with relationship to BDS, I think BDS just got a huge boost, frankly, from Israel's decision this issue. And so, therefore, it's very much cutting off their nose to spite their face.

BALDWIN: Kelly Magsamen, thank you.

MAGSAMEN: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: President Trump floats the idea of buying the country of Greenland, that country responding: We're not for sale.

And an employee at a Rhode Island detention facility is on leave after he drove his truck toward this group of immigration protesters, and then the crowd gets pepper-sprayed. So we will show you the video. We will explain exactly what happened there.

And, later, 2020 candidates make their case to a room full of black church leaders. We will take you live to Atlanta with details on their message today.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

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BALDWIN: President Trump's dream of adding to his real estate legacy getting the cold shoulder from the world's largest island.

The government of Greenland is making it clear to Trump the Greenland is -- quote -- "not for sale." The prime minister of Denmark, country that owns Greenland, tweeting in response to Trump's proposal -- quote -- "It must be an April Fool's Day joke, but totally out of season."

Now, CNN has learned from sources that the president has on multiple occasions floated the idea of buying this island from the Danish government. And I know it seems like a far-fetched real estate deal. The idea has actually come up before, most recently during the Second World War.

Greenland is also home to the northern most U.S. military base some 750 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Heather Conley is the senior vice president of Europe, Eurasia and Arctic at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She is also a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state under George W. Bush.

So, Heather, thank you so much for joining me.

And just is this a crazy idea or a crazy smart idea?

HEATHER CONLEY, DIRECTOR, EUROPE PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I don't think it's a serious idea.

But what I'm really glad that we're able to do is talk about Greenland and how strategically important it is for the United States. You mentioned the Thule Air Force Base. It is such an important air base for early warning against incoming missiles.

And it's a very strategic location to make sure that we can keep an eye on what Russia is doing in the Arctic. So it's really important. I don't think -- we are not buying Greenland. But it's an important part of the U.S.-Danish defense cooperation, for sure.

BALDWIN: OK. I mentioned some of the historic context.

Just Trump isn't actually the first U.S. president who has tried to buy Greenland. Apparently, President Truman offered $100 million for Greenland after World War II. Denmark said no then. They're saying no again.

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What options does the U.S. have to expand military operations in Greenland?

CONLEY: Well, we have a defense agreement. And it's very much focused on gaining that cooperation with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities.

This joint agreement allows us to keep that military base and to upgrade it when needed, and potentially to expand it. But we do it in cooperation. We don't need to buy Greenland. But we will, I think, over time continue to strengthen our defense relationship and our position at Thule Air Force base.

BALDWIN: So, last question, do you think then that this move is about strategy or Trump's legacy? Or do you think this is just merely meant as a distraction, Heather?

CONLEY: Well, I think it must have piqued his curiosity from a historical standpoint.

But as he prepares to go to Denmark for his state visit, I hope he -- I hope the president has a full appreciation for the strategic importance of the Arctic. And the United States needs to up its game. So I hope this conversation is helping the president do that.

BALDWIN: Heather Conley, thank you very much.

Next here: Five immigration protesters were hospitalized in Rhode Island after a worker at the detention facility they were gathered around drove a truck toward them. Hear what his employer is now saying.

And an update on the investigation into that fiery plane crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s plane.

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BALDWIN: New video shows an employee at a detention center in Rhode Island driving a truck toward a crowd of demonstrators. They were there protesting over the facility's acceptance of ICE detainees.

Five people were hospitalized after the Wednesday night incident in Rhode Island. The driver, an officer at the detention center, has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of two investigations.

And with me now, CNN's Jason Carroll.

Wow.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that video.

BALDWIN: What do about this truck driver? And what kind of trouble is he in?

CARROLL: Well, a couple things.

First of all, when you see that video there, it's just really a miracle that no one was really severely hurt or even worse. But the truck driver has been identified as Captain Thomas Woodworth. He's a correctional officer at the Wyatt Detention Center there in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

That's the privately run facility that works with ICE where all of this took place. He's on administrative leave, as you say, pending the outcome of a few investigations.

ICE has told CNN none of their personnel were personally involved in the incident. The facility is conducting an internal investigation. A spokesperson saying Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top- to-bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers' response and the Wyatt's protocols regarding protest activities outside of that facility. Rhode Island State Police are also conducting their own investigation.

The state's attorney general saying: "Once we have a full understanding all of the relevant facts, we will determine how to proceed. Peaceful protest is a fundamental right of all Americans. We urge all to exercise restraint as our investigation proceeds."

Also, Rhode Island's governor weighing in on this . She is outraged over what she saw and also says that, look, these protesters were out there doing what the Constitution allows. And, in her eyes, it's very clear this truck driver went too far.

BALDWIN: Yes, that video.

Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

CARROLL: You bet.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just in to CNN, we have learned the results of Jeffrey Epstein's autopsy is expected to be released later today.

Brynn Gingras is following this for us.

And so, Brynn, what exactly are we expecting?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right, Brooke.

I mean, we have been waiting for just some more answers to all these questions that have been surrounding the death of the financier Jeffrey Epstein from since the weekend when he was found dead in his cell here in Lower Manhattan.

So what we're learning from a source is that that autopsy is expected at some point today. Now, of course, that is going to be give us the cause and the manner of his death.

Now, remember, we have sources that are very close to this investigation who have been telling us that they have no reason to believe that it's anything but the fact that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself inside that jail. However, this is going to give us some final conclusion.

Sources also tell us that even his personnel, that his -- representatives of Epstein aren't disputing that fact either. But, of course, that's not the final answer. We get that final answer with the autopsy.

And that will also just help investigators in the end continue this investigation, like giving the time of death and other details from what they found through that examination of his body by the medical examiner. So we will continue to update you -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will wait for that information later on.

Brynn, thank you so much, Brynn Gingras, on this Epstein autopsy. More breaking news this afternoon, Israel announcing that it has

intercepted a rocket from Gaza. So, stand by for new information there.

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