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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Family Survive Fiery Plane Crash; Israel to Allow Representative Tlaib to Visit Family in West Bank; Trump Asked Aides if It's Possible to Buy Greenland; Trump Trails Leading Dems in 2020 Matchups. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


[06:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- morning. They somehow managed to walk away from this fiery plane crash that you see on your screen. This plane burst into flames after rolling off the runway as it landed in Tennessee. Incredibly, all five people on board survived. Federal investigators are looking into the cause of this crash.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we do have more breaking news. Just moments ago we learned that Israel has reversed its reversal on allowing Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit the West Bank. Tlaib was just granted permission to visit her grandmother there on humanitarian grounds. This surprise move is happening after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from entering under intense pressure from President Trump. As the "New York Times" put it, enlisting a foreign power, want to take action against two American citizens, crossing a line other U.S. presidents have not. Netanyahu said he decided to deny them entry because of their support of a movement to boycott Israel.

We're going to have much on story which is developing right now in just a moment. Let's start, though, with CNN's Dianne Gallagher in Elizabethtown, Tennessee, where there is good news on Junior -- Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There really is, John. And look, you can probably see the road still shut down behind me. The charred remains from that horrific plane crash, the Earnhardt family on their way to the race in nearby Bristol, and authorities agree they are lucky to be alive this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Watch the aftermath of the fiery plane crash in Tennessee sending thick clouds of black smoke into the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a baby in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There might be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That dude just pulled a baby out of there.

GALLAGHER: Escaping that inferno, retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. on board the private jet with his wife, 1-year-old daughter Isla, their dog, and two pilots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The airplane was fully engulfed. All the people had gotten out of it.

GALLAGHER: The FAA says the jet rolled off the end of the runway while landing at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport bursting into flames. The city's mayor says the plane touched down halfway down the runway before crashing through the airport's fence. Some of the fencing wrapped around the plane's fuselage.

CHIEF BARRY CARRIER, ELIZABETHTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: If that would have been where the door was, it would have been a lot more difficult for them to get the door open. So, it looks like everything worked in their favor instead of against them.

GALLAGHER: Earnhardt's sister Kelley tweeting a thank you to, quote, "The angels among us. Our pilots, first responders, and medical staff."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dale Earnhardt Jr., checkered flag at Talladega.

GALLAGHER: Earnhardt Jr. is one of NASCAR's most popular drivers. He follows on the footsteps of his legendary father who in 2001 died tragically in a crash at the Daytona 500.

DALE EARNHARDT JR., RETIRED NASCAR DRIVER: That's where I got the core base of my fans from is my father's -- you know, all my father's hard work. But I feel like at the same time I've done something right to keep it and build it.

GALLAGHER: And this isn't the first time Dale Jr. survived a fiery crash. His car burst into flames after a crash back in 2004 during a practice session.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER: And the FAA and NTSB are investigating this crash. Dale Jr. and his family went to the hospital. They were checked out. And, John, they're going to be spending the weekend -- instead of calling the race here in Bristol, they're going to take some time off, spend it together recovering from again something that everyone is in agreement could have been so much worse than it really was.

BERMAN: That is very understandable. Take the weekend, by all means. Huge relief among racing fans around the world this morning.

GALLAGHER: Yes.

BERMAN: Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much for being with us.

All right. The breaking news. So Israel has agreed to allow Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib into the West Bank after announcing yesterday that she and another lawmaker were barred from visiting. So this is a reversal of a reversal here. There are going to be some restrictions, we understand.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem with the breaking details.

Oren, what have you learned?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel had made it clear that if there was a humanitarian request on the part of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit her family, that would be considered separately from request to make a political visit. That as we know was rejected after President Donald Trump said Israel would be showing great weakness by allowing the two first Muslim congresswomen to enter the country.

Now that humanitarian request came in separately for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit her family in the West Bank and that has been granted by Israel's Interior Ministry. After Israel announced they would bar the two congresswomen from entering the country, Congresswoman Tlaib sent her own request in which she wrote, I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.

Well, after a few hours of deliberation today, Israel's Interior minister who has the final say on this decided to grant that request to allow Congresswoman Tlaib to enter Israel and the Palestinian territories to visit her family including her 90-year-old grandmother. Tlaib had said it might be her last chance to see her. Israel's Interior minister wrote in his statement, "In light of that and in accordance with his commitment from yesterday, Minister Deri decided to allow her entry into Israel and expressed hope she would stand by her commitment and that the visit would indeed be for humanitarian needs only."

[06:05:13] Of course this comes only one day after that decision to bar two sitting duly elected members of the U.S. Congress into Israel. President Donald Trump as we said tweeted Israel would be showing great weakness by allowing them in, and that left Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu very little wiggle room. He announced his statement a short time later saying that they would be barred from entering. And in doing so, he pointed out that even the U.S. has once barred a member from Israel's Knesset from entering the country, that seven years ago under former president Barack Obama.

Alisyn and John, it will be very interesting to see how President Trump responds to this decision to allow Representative Tlaib to enter the country.

CAMEROTA: We are monitoring that right now. Oren, thank you very much.

Let's bring in to discuss this and more, we have CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins here, also CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, and Rachel Bade, congressional reporter for the "Washington Post" and a CNN political analyst.

John, but historically speaking, just give us the context for this. So a U.S. president working with a foreign power, an ally, to block two U.S. lawmakers. I mean, Oren was just saying that during -- there was something of the reverse of this from the Knesset from -- with Obama. What do you make of this historical moment? JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Let's talk about

American traditions. There's no obvious precedent to this. The idea it's driven American policy historically before President Trump was this old adage. Partisanship ought to end at the water's edge. We were united when it came to foreign policy. Take a step back from all the politics around Rashida Tlaib and Omar Ilhan and ask -- Ilhan Omar, and ask yourself this. Imagine a president of the United States pressuring a foreign power, an ally, to not allow duly elected members of the United States Congress into their country. It's a mind blower. And yet there's a certain creeping numbness that comes in with this sort of daily outrages.

This is a big deal. Now, it appears that Rashida Tlaib has gotten this exception to visit her grandmother in the West Bank. But it also further tightens the relationship not only between Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump, but it raises the specter of support of Israel becoming seen as a partisan thing. That is bad. That is a dangerous precedent for the United States and for Israel, one of our closest allies historically.

And that's why we have Marco Rubio came out and said this a unwise. AIPAC came out and said this is a mistake. So watch what you wish for because by making this relationship seem partisan it actually denigrates the larger project we've been engaged in for over 67 --

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, there's really two things going on here. Number one, as the "New York Times" put it, the president crossed the line no U.S. president has crossed before.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: Which is to get retribution against domestic political allies from countries overseas. The other thing that happened is that Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, buckled. He buckled here because Israel had indicated they were going to allow these two members in. And then they seemed to buckle under the pressure from President Trump. It was only after President Trump started leaning on them that they said no.

On the other hand, Rachel Bade, the other hand here is that Democrats are now in a position that they haven't liked to be in for the last really two or three months, which is that the Democratic elected officials, long-time allies of Israel and supporters of Israel, the leadership of the Democratic Party, now has to come out against the Israeli government. That's a tough place for them to be, Rachel.

RACHEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. So they hate this for multiple reasons. Of course they see some hypocrisy in it because Israel sort of -- has been this beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Sort of shining city on a hill for a lot of Democrats. But this obviously goes against that. But not only are they concerned about their colleagues being denied entry and what this looks like and how bad it looks, they're also worried about being pitted against Israel and being seen as not being with them 100 percent.

If you go back a couple of months ago when Omar first came out with those comments that a lot of people said were blatantly anti-Semitic, they condemned those comments. In July they passed a resolution that condemns this BDS movement, which is the boycott of Israel, that these two congresswomen support and hence the reason why Israel is not letting them into this country. And the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who's a Democrat from Maryland, he just led a delegation of several dozen Democrats to Israel. And this was all to show Israel, look, don't listen to President Trump who says that Democrats don't support this Jewish nation. We are with you, we've always been with you.

But this, again, changes that message because they are having to call out Israel which they don't want to do. They want to be seen as being a top ally just as much as Trump is with Netanyahu. They want to be there. They want to be by their side. But they are having to push back on Israel and say this is not OK. And they frankly don't want to do that.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Kaitlan, I think that some analysts believe that being anti-Israel policy is not the same as being anti-Semitic. But, of course, all of this follows after President Trump defended the Neo- Nazis in Charlottesville and Israel isn't banning him.

[06:10:08] I mean, it's all so political at this point.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and you have to look at comments that members of Congress have made that the president is condemning and people he's not. He's focusing on what they're calling themselves a "Squad." Now of course Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Steve King, on the other hand, a member of the president's own party, has made comments that he's come under fire for recently, of course, saying that there may not be any population left if there wasn't rape or incest.

And the president was asked about that yesterday, he said he had not been briefed on the matter, hadn't fully seen the statement but then said of course it was a troubling statement. So it's interesting to see who the president is picking to target here of course. The question is, them allowing Rashida Tlaib to come in for the humanitarian visit, I'm not sure the president is going to draw the distinction that Israel is strong, between a political visit and one to visit your family.

I still think that the president may have an issue with them allowing her to come in to visit her 90-year-old grandmother. I don't think he's going to see it the way that Israel is doing it.

BERMAN: We'll see. I mean, it may very well be that they got permission from the president since the president seemed to be the one directing Israeli policy the first time around.

AVLON: We should remind people also that Bibi Netanyahu is facing another reelection.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes. Oh, absolutely.

AVLON: And so this is all within the context the president inserting himself in -- not only in international politics, but domestic politics in Israel.

BERMAN: I do want to talk about the man of the moment, and Kaitlan, I'm going to put this to you. That's Corey Lewandowski. The former campaign manager who was fired by Donald Trump on the advice of his children back in 2016. The former Trump campaign manager who was investigated for roughing up a reporter during the campaign, if I'm correct. He's considering running for Senate in New Hampshire and was at the rally last night with the president in New Hampshire. And the president really seemed to do everything but officially endorse Lewandowski. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he'd be tough to beat. I'll tell you one thing, he'll go into Washington and he's going to have you in mind. He's going to do a job if he does do it so we'll see what happens. He hasn't made up his mind yet. But he would be -- he would be fantastic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That's an endorsement.

BERMAN: That really is. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: But that's an endorsement right there. Now Lewandowski is an interesting figure, Kaitlan, because he's also wanted to testify on Capitol Hill in relation to things having to do with the Mueller report.

COLLINS: And all of this came on the same day yesterday. You noticed he flew with the president on Air Force One to New Hampshire for this rally. Of course that's the same day that they issued this subpoena against him because they want to talk to him about conversations he had with the president about Robert Mueller and the president directing him to send that message to then Attorney General Jeff Sessions about reining in the special counsel's investigation.

Now we have reporting that is a little bizarre that people are kind of caught off guard by. And that's that the White House knew the subpoena was coming. And now they're considering invoking executive privilege to limit Corey Lewandowski from complying with this congressional subpoena.

Now, there are obvious questions about whether or not how you could do that since he never has worked in the White House and that is what executive privilege is for. So the president can have conversations with high-level people in the government. Something Corey Lewandowski has never done. He hasn't worked for the president since the campaign.

But that's a conversation they're having behind the scenes at the White House. They haven't made the decision to pursue it. They're still figuring out if they can make that assertion. But it's certainly something that they're considering. And it shows how much they don't want Corey Lewandowski to have to answer questions about conversations like that one that he had (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: You know, we don't even have to call Jeffrey Toobin for this. There is --

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Seriously. there is no legal justification for this.

CAMEROTA: We can handle this one.

AVLON: Yes. Yes. We got this.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: There is legal justification. There's no executive privilege unless you work actually in the White House, which Corey Lewandowski never has.

CAMEROTA: You know what would be a great place to go this weekend if you wanted to get away?

BERMAN: Way away.

CAMEROTA: Way away. Greenland.

BERMAN: I hear.

CAMEROTA: It's so nice this time of year.

AVLON: I've heard that. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Rachel, there are also conversations we're told going on behind the scenes that the president wants to purchase Greenland?

BERMAN: Yes.

AVLON: Because why not.

CAMEROTA: What do we know?

(LAUGHTER)

BADE: Yes. Apparently Trump started talking about this earlier this year and sees Greenland and all the resources it has and has been saying things along the lines of, you know, if we purchased Greenland, it would be great for our national security. We'd have all these resources at our dispense. Sure, great. Logical argument. But Greenland is a property of Denmark as we know and semiautonomous in and of itself. You can't just purchase an island like Greenland.

And the funny thing about this reporting at least from my standpoint is that you're reading it and all these aides are telling the president, sure, Mr. President, we're going to look into this for you. Not telling him it ain't going to happen. But again that just speaks to aides not wanting to push back against the president and sort of going along with what he says and hoping he forgets about it eventually.

AVLON: I mean, hey. You know, William Steward purchased Alaska from Russia. And what you love is a president you can imagine him looking at the globe, and saying there's a large piece of real estate there, that's probably undervalued. What's Denmark done with Greenland lately?

BERMAN: It's not as big as it looks, though, on the map.

AVLON: No.

BERMAN: On the map, it gets stretched out.

AVLON: That is in fact true.

BERMAN: Which is might be the issue for the president. Might be --

AVLON: We show a proportional map, maybe the interest would go down?

BERMAN: It might not be as big as the president --

CAMEROTA: And you know, Iceland is more green and Greenland has more ice. I hope that somebody show him that.

[06:15:04] COLLINS: This is also a running pattern you see in the White House where the president says thing and suggests things and people don't take him seriously. They say things like Rachel was noting, sure, we'll look into that. This happened, it reminds me, of when the president picked his own doctor to be the VA secretary nominee, Ronnie Jackson, of course, something that the president had mentioned several times as they were searching for a VA nominee, people did not take him seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: But then it --

AVLON: But it turned out not a very good idea.

CAMEROTA: Yes. All right.

BERMAN: Look, I will say, within a few months, there's going to be chants at rallies, you know, who's going to buy it, Greenland, or something.

AVLON: That's right.

BERMAN: Who's going to build it, Greenland.

AVLON: Right. And then we can have more references to the princess bride unemployed in Greenland.

BERMAN: There you go.

CAMEROTA: Inconceivable.

AVLON: Inconceivable.

CAMEROTA: OK. Very nice. Let's move on.

BERMAN: All right. There are new polls in the 2020 race and President Trump might not like them. Not just who he is trailing here, but how he is trailing. And the one poll number that might be the most ominous of all. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:20:36] BERMAN: Brand new 2020 national poll could give President Trump some heartburn this morning. It shows the four top Democratic candidates not just beating the president in head-to-head matchups, but look at the president's number there. He doesn't crack 40 percent against any of the leading Democrats.

Back with us, Kaitlan Collins and John Avlon. And, you know, he's in the high 30s. That is not where you want to be when you're running for reelection, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: No, it's not. And the president is clearly concerned about this because you saw him last night at that reelection rally in New Hampshire where he was complaining about fake polls. Something you often see when he doesn't like the numbers that are reflected in this. And it's certainly something that the campaign is paying close attention to which is why you're seeing the president already start to travel to places like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, because the president is growing increasingly concerned about his numbers when he's matched up with these Democratic candidates.

BERMAN: He got his F wrong there. It's FOX polls.

AVLON: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: FOX polls. Not fake polls.

AVLON: Yes. And that's why it's a little bit harder for him to try to simply dismiss it, right? Because he puts so much stock in FOX's affirmation unit. This polling is really pretty devastating. I mean, being under 40 percent against all head-to-head matchups is terrible. I mean, that's, like, Jimmy Carter re-elect, you know, levels of bad. So the fact that it's not just for Joe Biden but it's also for Bernie Sanders, that's a big problem. Because it does show that his actual support in head-to-heads is probably lower than his job approval right now.

CAMEROTA: I mean, of course, it's early days.

AVLON: Yes. Sure.

CAMEROTA: The election is not today, but if the economy is something that he's banking on, then there could be trouble ahead. And what he did last night was really interesting. So on this very bumpy week of all sorts of nerve-racking financial news between the bonds, between the markets, he somehow suggested that only he has a good economy. I mean, he -- this is not the week, necessarily, to make this argument, but he did last night. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have no choice but to vote for me. Because your 401(k)s, down the tubes, everything's going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Everything's going to be down the tubes if what? I don't think he finished that sentence. I was confused about what --

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: That (INAUDIBLE) you guessing.

AVLON: Yes, exactly.

COLLINS: I do I think that the president is fully aware of the fact that the people who do approve of the job he's doing, the reason they do that is because of the economy. So the president knows that if the economy goes south, it's not going to be good for his reelection chances. That's why you're seeing him try to prepare to blame the Fed chairman for what's going to happen with the economy.

CAMEROTA: Already blaming him.

COLLINS: He's blaming the media saying that we are trying to crash the economy because we know it will hurt his reelection chances which of course is not true. He's keenly aware of that. The president has been watching the markets. That's why with you saw him back off those tariffs that -- China this week. A pretty rare acknowledgment from the president that those tariffs are hurting American consumers. It's something that he is paying increasingly amount of attention to. And there's anxiety inside the West Wing over it.

AVLON: Sure. And look, the president's pretty transparent. What he said very clearly is his reelection depends upon the economy and negative partisanship. And that quote you heard them both together. That, you know, he's going to run down the Democrats with the idea also that they're going to tank the economy and try to do a scorcher strategy and sneak into reelection, which is why one of those polls or one of the stats in the new poll is so significant.

BERMAN: Yes. Let me read this to you because this was the president's secret sauce in winning in 2016. Voters in 2016 who dislike both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump won them overwhelmingly in 2016. But look now, FOX News tested for voters with a negative view of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Biden crushes President Trump here. And again, this is a sort of obscure number, Kaitlan, but it could be -- or John, this could be a key number for the president.

AVLON: This is a huge deal for that very reason which is then in the exit polls in 2016. He succeeded in driving up Hillary Clinton's negative. Something that had been building for decades, in fact. And that's how he really pulled it out because folks who came in and said they're both crooks, they're both (INAUDIBLE), I don't like either of them, went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

Here we're seeing the exact opposite and the spread is not small. So what this means is, is if Donald Trump's core reelection strategy is negative partisanship, is to attack the Democrats in every way, shape and form to try to make them as toxic and extreme as humanly possible, it doesn't work with Joe Biden at the very least by a very large margin. That's a big problem.

[06:25:07] COLLINS: And just to make clear what these numbers are showing. In 2016 people who didn't like either voted for President Trump because they knew Hillary Clinton. They knew what the Clinton style of governing was going to look like, they thought. So they went with President Trump because they didn't know going to look like. With Joe Biden and President Trump, it looks like they are picking -- people who don't like either, are going to pick Joe Biden.

Just to make sure that's clear for people. That is something that is going to be a concern for them because that's really what they banked on. With the president making arguments like you saw with the economy one. What the hell do you have to lose if you don't vote for me or if you do vote for me? So that is kind of the argument they've been counting on. And that's why you see the president worrying about expanding his base, trying to get those voters who aren't in his core supporters, that was the argument he's making there with that economy comment.

AVLON: And it's so interesting what's different is last time around, as you just said, Kaitlan, it was you know what the Clinton style of governing will look like. You don't know what the disruptor-in-chief will be. Now we do. And in that head-to-head of an Obama-Biden redux in the form of Joe Biden, and more of Donald Trump, it ain't even close.

BERMAN: And for all of this? Greenland.

AVLON: Greenland.

BERMAN: Is it Greenland or Greenland?

CAMEROTA: Yes, which one is it?

AVLON: I'm going to go Greenland.

CAMEROTA: I think it's Greenland. Greenland.

COLLINS: I don't know. I'm from the south. I don't think I should be pronouncing things.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Call us and let us know.

BERMAN: They're all waking up to this news anyway. They've got bigger concerns anyway.

CAMEROTA: They're about to be a colony.

All right, Kaitlan, John, thank you very much.

North Korea launches two more missiles this morning. South Korea as you can imagine is not happy about this. We'll tell you who they blame in a live report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:30:00]