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Tlaib Rejects Israel's Invitation; Bank CEOs Warn of Impact of Trade War; Greenland's Not for Sale. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Judgement call.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. I hope you get up early and join us.

Don't go anywhere. A busy day, despite what we just talked about.

Brianna Keilar starts "RIGHT NOW."

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, thanks, but no thanks. Israel lifted its ban of a Democratic congresswoman in exchange for conditions on her trip. Now the Muslim congresswoman says she won't go after all.

And as the economy gets a bit shaky, the president spreads fear in the name of getting re-elected.

Plus, you can take the man out of real estate, but you can't take the real estate out of the man. Why the president wants the U.S. to buy Greenland.

And a mystery deepens after disturbing video surfaces of a truck driving into a crowd of ICE protesters.

We do start with this reversal by Israel and by Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Shortly after Israel approved a visit by Tlaib on humanitarian rather than official congressional grounds with certain conditions in place, she announced that she won't be going after all. This all comes a day after Israel banned Tlaib and fellow Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, both of them Muslim lawmakers, from making an official trip to Israel. The Israeli government didn't like their travel plans or their support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel in protest of its policies toward Palestinians.

Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank, asked for a waiver to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, but she was told that she would be severely limited in what he could see and what she could say. Tlaib's family told CNN that the congresswoman should not agree to those conditions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GHASSAN TLAIB, REP. TLAIB'S UNCLE (through translator): We are against the conditional visit of Rashida to Palestine. Rashida has the right to visit Palestine as a Palestinian, regardless of being a congresswoman, as any citizen with a U.S. passport has the right to come and visit their family without any conditions or pressure.


KEILAR: Now, Tlaib tweeted this statement. 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 sity to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies. Silencing me 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 -- that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in, fighting against racism, oppression and injustice.

Now, Congresswoman Omar, at this point, still remains banned from visiting Israel.

I want to talk now with Daniel Shapiro. He was U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Obama and he's joining us now from Tel Aviv.

You've written about this. You lay out really both sides here and you acknowledge, Daniel, I think one of the things that is so interesting is, you acknowledge the opinions of everyone in -- all the parties in this back-and-forth that we've been seeing, but you also take issue with some of the actions.

I wonder what your reaction is to this most recent development of Congresswoman Tlaib deciding she does not want to go to Israel under these conditions that have been set by Israel.

DANIEL SHAPIRO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL UNDER OBAMA: Well, of course this exchange happened after the very explosive day yesterday when Israel reversed its decision and decided not to allow Congresswoman Tlaib and Congresswoman Omar to travel. So it appears there was some effort overnight to arrange conditions that would allow her to visit her family. She agreed to them and then changed her mind and felt that those weren't conditions.

I think there was some good faith effort to try to find a way for that to happen and, obviously, she didn't feel comfortable and she's under no obligation to travel under that circumstance. And it underscores the difficult situation many Palestinian families find themselves in.

But really the water had been soured by everything that had occurred over the previous several days. The two members of Congress who are supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, I strongly oppose that movement and disagree with them on it. Wanted to come for a visit. Not a balanced visit, I would say, but a visit that Israel had approved, saying that they, out of respect for the United States Congress and the U.S. -Israel alliance, would allow any member of Congress to visit and probably could have extended some more offers of other kinds of briefings to them.

Then, under pressure from President Trump, who decided to deputize Israel in his divisive, racial politics in the United States and he's gone and made these congresswomen foils in that kind of politics, Israel reversed itself and decided not to let them go. And once that happened, I think it would have been very difficult to come up with circumstances where the two sides could have faith and -- a good faith negotiation for a visit.

KEILAR: So talk about this idea, what you think a balanced visit would have been. Israel explained its initial ban of the two congresswomen by saying they weren't asking to meet with any Israeli officials in the government or the opposition. What would you have liked to have seen?

[13:05:15] SHAPIRO: I would encourage any member of Congress who comes to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories to meet with Israelis and Palestinians, in the governments and out of the governments, regular citizens, people in the security services, students, and hear their stories and see how they live. And certainly they will see Palestinians living in very difficult circumstances and those are important stories to hear. Certainly they will hear from Israelis who have been subject to terrorist attacks, and those are very important subjects to hear.

There's other aspects of the U.S./Israel relationship and alliance and our security partnership that don't relate to the Palestinian issue, but relate to Iran and Lebanon and Syria. There's an economic partnership and a possibility of a great economic partnership with the Palestinians that we already have with the Israelis. So there's much that one can do if one is open-minded in talking to people on all sides and looking for solutions to the stalemate that has bedeviled this conflict for so many years. That's the kind of trip I would encourage any member of Congress to undertake.

KEILAR: You've written about how this whole episode demonstrates a dependency by Prime Minister Netanyahu on Donald Trump. What are your concerns about that and just your general concerns about Israel becoming this political pawn in the U.S.?

SHAPIRO: Well, President Trump has made it very clear that he seeks to weaponize the issue of Israel in America's partisan political wars. He calls Democrats an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish party. These are absurd slurs and they should be rejected by everybody.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu has made his close partnership with President Trump, who's fairly popular in Israel, a very central part of his re-election campaign. He's running in a very closely contested election in about one month from now. He drapes buildings in Tel Aviv with posters of him and President Trump shaking hands and grinning at each other. And so he is afraid to have any daylight between himself and President Trump.

So here, initially, he had made a very sensible decision that Israel is a strong democracy and can deal with people who come and criticize it and it would have these members of Congress come and say things that they probably strongly disagree with, but that that was in keeping with our bilateral relationship and the U.S. Congress' role as a support of Israel. But then, under pressure from President Trump, who began tweeting yesterday morning about how Israel shouldn't let these members of Congress visit, president -- Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly felt that he couldn't allow that gap to emerge between him and President Trump. It would potentially damage his own political aspirations. And so that was the dependency I was referring to.

KEILAR: All right, Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, thank you, sir. Really appreciate you being with us.

SHAPIRO: It's good to be with you.

KEILAR: This has been a wild couple of weeks for President Trump. So let's go through this in no particular order here.

Let's start with the president spreading a conspiracy theory about the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. He also retweeted someone else who is blaming the FBI for the Parkland shooting and for allowing former physician Larry Nassar to sexually abuse hundreds of American gymnasts.

And then in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the president went golfing as the country grappled with the fear and the fallout from those disasters.

On the president's visit to El Paso and Dayton, he insulted the mayors of both cities. And while visiting, he made it about himself and he talked about crowd size.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at this group of people, can you believe this? Good-looking people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are fantastic.

D. TRUMP: I was here three months ago. We made a speech. And had a -- what the name of the arena? That place was packed, right?


D. TRUMP: So that was some crowd.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Thank you for all that you do. Thank you.

D. TRUMP: And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot.


KEILAR: So the president also took this picture here, a thumbs up he's giving as the first lady holds a baby who lost both of his parents in the El Paso shooting. There were Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi. They were launched right after kids started the new school year, only to come home to find parents gone. One young girl pleading for the return of her father.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal. Governments, please put your heart -- let my parent be free with the -- everybody else.


KEILAR: Ken Cuccinelli, the president's acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ignored the impact and warned that more raids were coming. Cuccinelli also rewrote the message on the Statue of Liberty, saying that its intention was to only welcome immigrants from Europe who would not financially burden their new country.

[13:10:06] And then add to this, a former Trump loyalist, an apologist, offering a sober message. Ex-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci now saying that he thinks the president is, quote, worse than a racist and suggesting the president may be declining mentally.


Anthony SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR UNDER TRUMP: 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.

KEILAR: So let's turn to global politics now. The president waded into the Hong Kong protests. He did not do that to support people demonstrating in favor of democracy. Instead his message was that China's president could easily end the protests peacefully.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, something's probably happening with Hong Kong because when you look at, you know, what's going on, they've had riots for a long period of time. And I don't know what China's attitude is. Somebody said that at some point they're going to want to stop that. But that's between Hong Kong and that's between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China. They'll have to deal with that themselves. They don't need advice.


KEILAR: Now, President Trump also largely ignored a series of missile test launches by North Korea. His response was to instead criticize a key U.S. ally by calling joint U.S./South Korean military exercises, quote, ridiculous and expensive.

And then just yesterday he prompted Israel to ban two U.S. Muslim congresswomen by tweeting that Israel would be weak to allow them in on a planned visit. But it's the economy that may be the biggest issue right now and the

president's trade war with China. A trade war that he once called "easy" in this tweet. Trade wars, he said, are good and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don't trade anymore. We win big. It's easy.

But then last night, he said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, I never said China was going to be easy. But it's not tough. And they want to make a deal. We just spoke to them yesterday. They want to make a deal. They want to make a deal. They have to make a deal. And, you know what, it will be wonderful to make a deal. I don't think we're ready to make a deal.


KEILAR: So now he's saying it's not so easy. Not so easy because of the blowback from his announcement of more tariffs. This sent the Dow tumbling 800 points. This was the biggest drop of the year. China threatened to retaliate. The president now saying that the tariffs are going to be delayed again.

And even through this back-and-forth he is refusing to take any responsibility. Instead, he's blamed China, he's blamed the Fed chairman, Jay Powell, he's blamed the media, of course. And all of this could throw cold water on the president's re-election slogan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So whether you love me or hate me, you've got to vote for me.


KEILAR: So despite the president's confidence, "The Washington Post" now reporting that the red flags on the economy does have the president spooked.

Let's talk to Neel Kashkari. He is the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.

Thank you so much for being with us.


KEILAR: We should also note that your former role was assistant secretary of the Treasury, which is how we all came to know you. You led the federal government's high-profile response to the 2008 economic meltdown. You over saw the TARP, the Trouble Assets Relief Program, for short.

And I want to know, when you're looking at these forecasts here, you're hearing some folks, you're hearing some observers, you're seeing indicators that are showing recession warnings. Do you think that the economy is on the brink?

KASHKARI: Well, it's a -- the signals are mixed right now and I'm paying very close attention because we're getting these confusing signals.

On one hand, U.S. consumers and families seem to be doing reasonably well. The job market is still strong. The economy is still creating jobs. Wages are slowly picking up and consumers are still spending. And consumer spending is the bulk of the U.S. economy. So that's all good news so far.

On the other hand, businesses are spooked. Businesses -- U.S. businesses are really worried about the trade war and we're seeing businesses pull back and being more reluctant to make investments going forward. And we're seeing the effects of this trade war on Germany and China. So the global economy appears to be slowing. So there's good news in terms of the U.S. consumers, but there's concerning news in terms of businesses.

And then the bond market is showing signs of potential recession ahead. So, I mean, I'm paying very close attention. I know all my colleagues are. We don't know yet, are we headed for a recession? That's not my base case scenario. But the risks have increased quite a bit.

KEILAR: So you said yesterday you're leaning towards more stimulus. Is that just as an insurance policy? Explain to us your reasoning for that.

KASHKARI: Well, one of the things, you know, in the news that gets a lot of attention, this thing called the yield curve where long-term Treasury interest rates are lower than short-term Treasury interest rates. Usually it's the opposite. If you loan your money to the government and you tie it up for a number of years, the longer you tie it up, the higher the return you expect. So now that people are lending their money to the government and expecting a lower return, that itself is a signal to me that interest rates right now might be too high, that the Federal Reserve might have interest rates too high given the underlying fundamentals of the U.S. economy. So that's where I'm leaning right now saying that we probably need to go ahead and pull back on interest rates to provide more support to the economy. But we need to continue to watch the data as it comes in over the next month before our next meeting.

[13:15:38] KEILAR: So is part of this about doing something right now, taking action early, so that something isn't worse later? And when you think of that, are you looking at the -- our most recent financial crisis as a cautionary tale in that?

KASHKARI: It is. I mean I think we've learned from the most recent financial crisis, but also the experience of other major economies around the world, that it's much better to be early and aggressive in responding to a slowdown than it is to being late to it. I know back in 2008 during the intense financial crisis, we were always late, and that's because we weren't sure how bad it was going to get. And that ended up making things worse. I mean I -- we have to admit that. And I think now -- you know, interest rates are already quite low relative to history, and that means we don't have as much room to cut rates, so we don't want to go back and hit zero and then have, you know, somewhat be out of ammunition or have less ammunition.

So in that environment, it is better. I think people around the world have learned it is better to be early and aggressive if you see a slowdown than wait until you're sure the economy is in recession.

KEILAR: Do you think, as we look at some of the criticism over and over the president has had for the head of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, that it's fair for the president to be taking aim at him for problems with the economy?

KASHKARI: Well, I think, first of all, let me just say, Jerome Powell is an outstanding Federal Reserve chairman and an A-plus public servant and I think we're all lucky to have him and support him.

Look, I've been critical myself of some of our interest rate increase. I have argued historically that in the recent years they were not justified by the data. And I think that that is still true. So I think that there's some truth to that.

But right now, when we talk to businesses around the country, businesses are mostly concerned about the trade war, about the slowdown in the global economy. Very few businesses that I talk to are pointing to the Federal Reserve and saying, hey, it's your interest rate policy that is slowing things down. Much more likely it's focused on trade policy and global uncertainty and global anxiety. So I don't think that that part of the criticism is fair.

KEILAR: All right, Neel Kashkari, thank you so much for coming on.

KASHKARI: Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: There's some disturbing new video that we're getting in. It shows horrifying moments when a truck plows into a crowd of people protesting outside of a detention facility that cooperates with ICE.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren, today, releasing a plan for Native Americans, even as the president continues to use a slur against her.

And, location, location, location. The realtor in chief wants to know if the U.S. should buy Greenland.


[13:23:04] KEILAR: Greenland is not for sale. That's the reply from the government of Greenland responding to reports that President Trump, on several occasions, has asked about buying the island. The prime minister of Denmark, the country that owns Greenland, even tweeted out, quote, it must be April Fool's Day.

"The Wall Street Journal" reported that President Trump raised this issue during meetings and dinners and even asked his White House counsel to look into this.

So if this seems like a farfetched real estate deal even for Donald Trump, this is actually an idea that has been floated before, most recently though it was during the Second World War. Greenland already houses the northernmost U.S. military base, about 750 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Let's talk now to Rufus Gifford. He is the former U.S. ambassador to Denmark under President Obama. He was also a close aide to Obama and he's joining us now from Copenhagen.

And, ambassador, tell us more about the reception that this idea is getting there in Denmark and just from, I guess, people in this space, in this diplomatic space like yours, as they watch this unfold.

RUFUS GIFFORD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO DENMARK: Yes, well, and, first, to let you understand where I come from on this, and Greenland is a remarkable part of the world. And the American Greenland relationship is critical, I think.

And in my three and a half years as ambassador, it's something I spent a bunch of time on. And I've been to Greenland nine times. I love this place and I love the people.

But to answer your question, Brianna, directly, the reception is chilly, to say the least. I think this idea -- Greenland is a critically -- it's challenged. The relationship between Denmark and Greenland is challenged. It absolutely is. But that being said, it's a critically important part of the kingdom.

I think the Danes have a great understanding of the complexity that exists in Greenland, both from a climate standpoint, as well as just a human standpoint. We have over 50,000 people that live on this largest island in the world with only, I think, it's 40 miles of roads. So you can -- and some of the most brutal winters that you can possibly imagine.

[13:25:20] So all of these challenges speak to kind of the complexity that is Greenland. And so I think when the Danes read these reports that Donald Trump is trying to buy Greenland, or is interested in buying Greenland, I don't think very many people view him as someone who views something like this with the level of sophistication and, frankly, complexity that it actually deserves. So I think it's a -- it's gotten a chilly reception both in Copenhagen and in Nuuk, which is the capital of Greenland.

KEILAR: It seems -- which is important. I think a lot of people wouldn't even know how to pronounce Nuuk, so I'm glad that you've told us about that.

The -- even though this idea is unrealistic, right --

GIFFORD: A pleasure.

KEILAR: That the president is -- has been proposing this. Why do you think he's interested in Greenland? Do you think it's strategic advantage? Do you think it's his personal interest in purchasing real estate? What is it?

GIFFORD: Well, I think that this is -- and, look, this is speculation on my part, but I do. When I first saw this, my first question is, why? What is the motive here? You mentioned the desire on the part of the United States to purchase Greenland in 1945 and '46. And there was real strategic interest at that point. If you think about Europe at that point, there was so much unrest and the proximity, of course, the proximity that Greenland does have to Russia is something that's always been of concern to the United States in particular during the Cold War. So back then the idea that a foreign adversary somehow could have a presence so close to our shores was a real threat.

But nowadays, Denmark is NATO, which means Greenland is NATO, which means we have an ally in Greenland right near our shores. So it can't be the national security interest, right? So you have to go to the economic interest. You have to go to he's looking at minerals, he's looking at oil and gas, he's looking at shipping routes and all of these things.

And, look, that is something that I worked on while I was ambassador. And I don't -- I don't -- I don't think -- I think everything, as it relates to Greenland, can and should be part of the conversation.

But, again, this has to be -- this has to be handled with a delicacy. It has to be handled with a sophistication that I don't see -- think we've seen this administration display at any point over the course of the last two years. So I think it's -- I think it's a very, very bad idea.

KEILAR: Thank you so much. Rufus Gifford in Copenhagen, we really appreciate you being with us.

Elizabeth Warren bouncing back from her DNA test fallout with a policy agenda specifically for Native Americans. And her rise on the trail provokes a new threat by President Trump.

Also, new details on the fiery crash that Dale Earnhardt Junior walked away from alive.