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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Family Survive Plane Crash; Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak At Event Hosted By Black Church PAC; Right-Wing And Left-Wing Groups Gather In Portland, Oregon, For Protests And Counter-Protests; Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler Interviewed On Political Protests And Possible Violence In Portland; Rallies Organized Across Country Promoting Gun Control Legislation; President Trump Comments On U.S. Economy; New York Police Have In Custody Man Seen Dropping Off Rice Cookers At Two Locations; Retrospective On Woodstock Profiled. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 17, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] DAVE FAHERTY, WSOC: For much of the day, race fans stopped by to see the wreckage, including Bobby Loveless (ph) and his son, whose middle name is Dale after Junior's father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want to say to dale and his family tonight?

DUSTIN DALE PARLIER, RACING FAN: That you're in our prayers, and just be blessed. Make a quick recovery.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Incredible. That was Dave Faherty reporting. The NTSB has interviewed the pilots and recovered the plane's flight data recorder.

Hello again, everyone, and thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, right here in Atlanta, presidential candidates have descended to talk prayer and politics. The Black Church PAC is hosting five of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Julian Castro. Sanders and Warren both speaking in the last couple of hours, making their pitches to African-American voters on their visions for America if elected.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Justice means that all of our people, regardless of income, have the right to all of the education that they need. And I am proud to help lead the effort to make public colleges and universities tuition free.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should Black Church folks trust you with their vote? SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I put out a

lot of plans.


WARREN: You've heard. But the reason for doing that is partly to say this is where I'll go. Those plans show my values. But it's also partly to say, and you can hold me accountable.


WHITFIELD: Our Business and Politics Reporter, Vanessa Yurkevich is at the event and joins us right now. So Vanessa, you've been talking to voters. What have they been saying?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Hi, Fred. As you said, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren just wrapping up a short time ago, making their pitch for faith leaders here and black millennial voters.

The key issue that got this crowd to their feet -- student debt. Many of the voters we spoke to here saddled with thousands of dollars in debt, still in college, wondering what they're going to do about their future. But we were also curious what other issues for voters mattered here, so we asked them.


JADA SIMMONS, VOTER: What's most important to me is that they actually care about the people that they're serving, and that it's not just about money or about their fame, that it's really about the people who are going to be affected by every decision that they make.

FRANCISCA SHAW, VOTER: The economy. I know we're -- they're talking about a downturn going to be happening. Obviously we don't know when that's going to happen, but I would love to hear what their thoughts are on that and how they can help not make it as bad as it was in 08.

JENNIFER MARTIN, VOTER: Gun violence. I think that's really important. I think it's an issue in our communities. I think from police to just everyday community gun violence, these mass shootings that have been happening, I think that it's just very important, and we need to do something about it.

ARCHIE MCINNIS III, VOTER: Gun control. That's a thing that's like close to my heart because innocent people are dying all the time. I feel like there's just something that has to be done about that.


YURKEVICH: Now three of the presidential candidates that spoke at this conference are heading to South Carolina, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders, where they are going to try to connect with voters on some of these issues. And South Carolina, a key early voting state, but also with a voting population with 60 percent African-Americans. And a lot of these candidates still have a lot of work to do. If

you're not Joe Biden who is polling at 50 percent with African- American voters, you're polling closer to the single digits. So a lot of these candidates will see as time goes on still trying to connect with this critical electorate in order to win this Democratic nomination. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much here in Atlanta.

Joining me right now is Seema Mehta, political writer for "The Los Angeles Times," and Larry Sabato, Director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Good to see both of you.

So Larry, you first. Why specifically courting the African-American vote each though they don't vote as a monolith, but why is it so important for these candidates to connect particularly with black voters?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Fred, I'd put it this way. It is literally impossible for someone to win the Democratic nomination who does not have substantial African- American support. It doesn't mean they have to be first in the list of candidates African-Americans are voting for, but they have to have some.

Your correspondent just mentioned that 60 percent or more of the Democratic primary in South Carolina will be composed of African- Americans.

[14:05:07] So it's essential there, and also it's good planning for the fall because not only does the Democrat need really at least about 90 percent of the African-American vote, they need a good turnout, which is what Hillary Clinton never got. And they don't want to see that happen again.

WHITFIELD: So Seema, of the five candidates who are showing up at the weekend's event today, is there a way in which to determine who seems to be connecting best with that audience right now?

SEEMA MEHTA, POLITICAL WRITER, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think we're still in an early phase. So they're still making their efforts. But Elizabeth Warren really has been reaching out, particularly to African-American women. We've seen her go to a lot of events.

We've seen her go to South Carolina a lot. So I think she's certainly making a lot of efforts. But a number of the candidates in the field are doing the same, whether it's Pete Buttigieg, whether it's Kamala Harris, Cory Booker. I think they're all trying to see whether Joe Biden's support, high level among African-Americans, whether that's sustainable or whether that's an aside as the voters get to know more of these candidates.

WHITFIELD: Larry, according to that polling, Joe Biden is still enjoying about 50 percent of the African-American vote. But then we're also learning a little bit more about conversations that the former vice president has had with former president Barack Obama about whether Joe Biden should run.

"The New York Times" reports that the former president told Biden, I'm quoting now, "You don't have to do this, Joe, you really don't." What do you think he meant by that?

SABATO: Well, he may have been thinking, probably was at least partly thinking about the terrible tragedy that hit the Biden family while Biden was vice president, one of his sons passing away. That was a great piece, Fred. People really ought to read that. It was revealing, certainly things I hadn't seen before.

Obama likes Biden, Obama is helping Biden to a greater degree behind the scenes than we knew at least before this piece was published. But there's also some hesitation about his age, and Obama gave him advice to get some younger aides, which by the way is some very good advice.

WHITFIELD: Right. And we may see him use the word "love." Those two really did love each other. You could see while in office, and then upon departure, that they really had a really beautiful relationship.

So Seema, talk to us more about why the former president thought it was really important to convey, according to this "New York Times" reporting, convey that Joe Biden was surrounded by too many seasoned people, so to speak. He communicated his frustration that Biden's closest advisers are too old, out of touch with the current political climate, urging him to get more younger aides.

MEHTA: Well, I think he was recognizing that the Democratic Party of today is not the Democratic Party that it was when he was first elected in 2008. We have a lot of energy coming from the left wing, from the most liberal wing.

You see that with the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and who are even relooking at the administration, sometimes critically, as we saw in the debate in Detroit earlier last month. And I think the Biden campaign in some ways does recognize this. You noticed they hired Symone Sanders. She's a very prominent person on the campaign. She worked for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign.

WHITFIELD: And she's young.

MEHTA: And just one other point to step back, I think the president realized -- and this happens with other candidates, as well -- when he left office, he Biden left office, he was looked at as this elder statesman. He was widely respected. He was working on cancer. And he knew that the moment he put his hat in the ring that would go down. The same thing happened with Hillary Clinton. When she was former secretary of state, she polled well. But the moment she entered the race in 2016, the same thing happened to her.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, well, we'll leave it there for now. Larry Sabato, Seema Mehta, thank you so much.

MEHTA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, new today, CNN is learning more about Trump's rally at the Pittsburgh chemical plant. On Tuesday union workers at the plant were given an ultimatum about attending, be at the event or use a day of personal time off and lose any overtime pay that they may have earned for that week. CNN's Kristen Holmes is live for us in Berkeley Heights where the president is wrapping up his vacation. So Kristen, tell us more about this ultimatum.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. So more controversy surrounding that Tuesday event. So all of this coming to light because of a memo that we know at least some of those plant workers received. And I want to pull it up because I want to read you exactly what it said. It says, "Your attendance is not mandatory.

This will be considered an excused absence. However, those who are not in attendance will not receive overtime pay on Friday." So obviously sounds a little bit mandatory there when that's the ultimatum.

We also know that least some of the workers who attended that speech, that rally, were told that they were not allowed to protest. So very interesting here how this happened.

[14:10:05] Now, the head of Shell has talked to CNN. They say they did, in fact, say that they would lose some overtime pay if they didn't attend. They said that's normal for these kinds of events. If the workers didn't show up on Friday when that event was, then of course they're not going to get their overtime.

However, they do deny that they ever wrote that memo. So interesting here dynamics. We're not sure exactly what's going on with something lost in translation, particularly when it comes to the part about whether or not workers were allowed to protest.

And Fred, I just want to bring up, again, this event was supposed to be a White House event. It was not supposed to be a campaign for reelection event. But we do know that when Trump was there, it quickly turned into that when he started saying that union workers should oust their leadership if they don't support Trump. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.

Still ahead, protests in Portland, Oregon. Far right, far left groups squaring off. The mayor is now warning citizens to stay indoors. In fact, a lot of shops downtown have closed as a result of this demonstration.

Plus, nationwide protests hoping to move the needle on gun-control reforms. How demonstrators hope to make their messages heard to the people who can actually change things in Washington.


[14:15:03] WHITFIELD: Portland, Oregon, is bracing for a potentially violent afternoon as protests by far-right extremist groups are expected to be met by counter-protests organized by the far left extremist group. The city's mayor sent out there message warning residents and visitors.


MAYOR TED WHEELER, PORTLAND, OREGON: This is Mayor Ted Wheeler. Thank you for contacting my office. If you are contacting our office regarding the August 17th protests, please note that we've prepared accordingly. If this is an emergency, please dial 911. If this is a related incident but not an emergency, please dial the Portland police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333. We encourage those of you who are visiting downtown Portland during this time to be aware of your surroundings.

We've learned that large groups will gather in Waterfront Park at 11:00 a.m. In past demonstrations, various groups have taken to the streets in the core of downtown. We recommend for your safety to move away from these groups, inside a location if possible, as a precaution if you find yourself near demonstrators. Please visit our website and PPB's website for additional details.

We are committed to ensuring that all visitors and residents in our city are safe. I've directed the Portland Police Bureau to use appropriate means to ensure a safe environment.

Thank you again for calling, and have a safe weekend.


WHITFIELD: Quite the recording coming from the city's mayor. Meantime, President Trump also weighing in and threatening to label Antifa, the anti-fascist group, as, quote, "an organization of terror and saying," and saying, quote, "Hopefully the mayor will be able to properly do his job," end quote. But the president said nothing about the far right extremists also rallying.

Portland has been the scene for several violent protests, including one in June where three people were arrested and eight people injured, including a right-wing blogger who was attacked. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joining me on the phone. So Mr. Mayor, we heard your recording. So you are sending out a big warning to avoid the Portland area because of these potential clashes of these two groups. Describe your concern right now as they gather.

MAYOR TED WHEELER, PORTLAND, OREGON: Right now the situation is potentially volatile. We have groups gathering on both sides of the river. We have through the Portland Police Bureau and other law enforcement agencies seized some weapons. But right now, things are pretty calm.

WHITFIELD: So when you say they are on both sides of the river, is it the intention to try to keep these opposing groups geographically separated?

WHEELER: Well, operationally, the law enforcement partners engaged in this will certainly do their level best to keep separation as much as possible. But here's the bottom line. We've prepared for this for weeks.

We have law enforcement partners at the state, regional, and local level who are all working together. They've trained for this. They've been collaborating and sharing information for a number of weeks.

Our community has been unified. Business, government, labor, civil right leaders, others have all come together. And we've said, look, Portland's a great place, it's a beautiful place, but we don't want people to come here to commit acts of violence.

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It's still early in the day here on the west coast. But I know that our law enforcement partners, they're out there, they're communicating with people, they're talking to people, and they're maintaining an active, visible presence. And that seems so far to be keeping the lid on any potential skirmishes.

WHITFIELD: And so I understand that you've got 1,000 officers, really your entire Portland police force on duty. You've got state patrol there, and then you also referenced national, so you've got FBI there, as well.

WHEELER: Correct.

WHITFIELD: This protest or demonstration was initially one that applied for a permit, the permit that was not given by the city, correct? So how did it get to this level that you've got these groups gathering? And is it the case that it was the far left group that applied for the permit, or is it the far right group?

WHEELER: No. There have been no permits applied for by any of the participants today. And that was as of last night. I didn't check this morning, but it's my understanding that nobody applied for a permit.

Regardless, the name of the game here is to make sure that the police and their associates work hard to maintain the order, make sure people remain safe, make sure that people have the right to assembly and express their opinions. But we're going to make sure that nobody engages in any acts of violence or vandalism. If anybody violates the law, there will be consequences. We're here to enforce the law.

[14:20:10] WHITFIELD: And what do you attribute to this kind of turnout, because just looking at the images, this is sizable. It's difficult to determine who represents what from the kind of vantage point view that we're looking at, but dozens if not hundreds of people, and it certainly has precipitated a number of downtown stores to close up shop, as well. How did it get this big?

WHEELER: Portland has been a flashpoint particularly for those on the far right, including some who I would characterize as white supremacists or white nationalists, neo-Nazis. They picked Portland because they know that Portland is largely a very progressive city, and they know that if they come here there is going to be a reaction, there's going to be a response.

And that's what they're looking for. They're looking for conflict. They're hoping for media coverage. They hope that their message will get carried nationally and potentially globally. And that's part of the reason they picked Portland.

But what I'd like the rest of the country to understand is we've actually had very few violent skirmishes in the city. We've had over 200 demonstrations in the last year, and very few of them have led to violence.

But we're sending a clear and unified message that if you're coming to Portland to engage in acts of violence, number one, we don't want you here. But if you do come here, our law enforcement partners have the resources, they have the partnership, they have the tools, and they have the will to enforce the law and ensure the public safety.

WHITFIELD: Of course, as we look at images, we see a lot of people, and there's some movement in some corners of the screen. But again, we're not really sure what all of it means. We're trying to do some reporting on that.

What about your views on how the president of the United States would weigh in via tweet, his vacationing in New Jersey and he would tweet that he would threaten to label Antifa, anti-fascist group, as an organization of terror, and then would say hopefully the mayor will be able to properly do his job? How do you interpret that?

WHEELER: Look, my job today is to be heads down and focused on maintaining the public safety here in Portland, Oregon. I'm focused on what's going on the ground here in my community. I'm not concerning myself with tweets coming out of Washington, D.C.

And frankly, it's not helpful. This is a potentially dangerous and volatile situation. And adding to that noise doesn't do anything to support or help the efforts that are going on here in Portland.

But I'm not going to concern myself with it. I'm focused on what's going on the ground here operationally in my city. That's my job.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then how do you keep tabs -- how are you able to get the best vantage point of how and what kind of activity is unfolding? Because when we just look at all the images, it looks like there are pockets of areas throughout Portland where people are gathering.

But it's difficult to discern what the motivation is of any number of these people. How are you going to be able to keep tabs of what's happening, what's being said, what activity is unfolding?

WHEELER: Well, I'm not going to get into operational details. But I will tell you that we have a widespread law enforcement presence. We're keeping tabs of the situation across the city. And we're sharing information, and we're being very aggressive in terms of communicating with the public. So we have our bases covered.

WHITFIELD: All right, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, good luck. Thank you so much.

WHEELER: Thank you, I appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: I want to bring in Sara Sidner, who is monitoring the situation on the ground there in Portland.

And Sara, kind of describe what you're seeing. And we're just looking at various vantage points of people gathering, milling around. But like the mayor just said, it's potentially volatile just by the fact that you've got all of these people there. But what's the objective, and what's the fear?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. What makes it more volatile is that the person that organized this from the far right group, Proud Boys, was on Twitter, Joe Biggs, saying things like death to Antifa, and talking about get your guns, be ready, make sure you train. And so that is part of what ratcheted this up, because, of course, Antifa being the anti-fascists, they responded and are expected to respond.

The whole reason for this whole thing was to try to get the government's attention. The far right wanting Antifa to be called a domestic terrorist organization. And the president chiming in certainly ratchets all of that up here in the city.

I want to give you an idea of what the police are doing right now. Just so you know, Portland realized that because this could be a volatile, huge number of people coming, they brought in about 18 other agencies from across the state, including federal agencies, as well.

[14:25:06] But this is what they're doing right now. So you see the line of police here, a double line of officers who are trying to keep the two groups, or two sides, if you will, separated. You've got folks from the anti-fascist, you have folks from neighborhoods over here, you have people who do not in any way support the president, the more liberal side of folks on this side of the divide.

If you look up, and our photographer Jim will sort of show you this is where the folks from the right came. They came over this bridge as the folks from the left were gathering. And then if you just swing the camera around, and we're a little bit far away, but we'll go a little bit closer, you will see lots of people with cameras from both sides. You will also see a large gathering, but not as large as the sort of liberal gathering of folks that are supportive of the right.

We've already seen the Proud Boys here. And as I mentioned, Joe Biggs who is one of their -- one of their leaders, one of the people who helped organize this, had come out and said some things, Twitter took him off Twitter, Facebook suspended him from Facebook.

But we also know that this isn't just a left-right violence issue. The president talking about Antifa being violent. It turns out that here in Portland that several of the right-wingers who were here back in May during a skirmish have been arrested and booked on riot charges, including one of the folks that encouraged hundreds of people to show up here. His name is Joey Gibson, and he basically has said, look, we're with

Patriot Prayer. We want people to come out. But he is calling for nonviolent approach in this, though that is not what happened back in May when his group, Patriot Prayer, and some anti-fascist groups collided outside of a bar here.

So it is interesting to note that while the president only talks about the leftist side, the Antifa side, there is a violent side of the right. And the city has made that clear by arresting some of the folks that were involved in a Mayday melee, if you will. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Right. And then you heard the mayor who described that many people that he identified to be in part the right groups, far right groups, are also white supremacists and extremists to that measure.

So now we're also getting some reporting, Sara, that Portland police have seized bear spray, shields, poles from many of the groups that are at these rallies or protests. And I guess this is complicated, too, and so volatile because you've got so many different groups identifying with so many different points of view, some of whom are opposing.

And then when you talk about weaponry like this that police say have already been seized, it's not just about fighting words but that this volatility has some potential for violence, as well.

SIDNER: That's right. There's always a potential for violence. I'm going to turn the camera back around because some of the announcements are being made to tell people to stay off of the streets that have been closed, stay off of the sidewalks that have been closed.

And there are certainly folks on this side of the divide that would like to get to the folks on the other side. You're hearing that announcement from Portland police, again, telling people that the sidewalks are closed.

And I do want to give you some idea. There is a reason why Portland is chosen time and time again. You heard the mayor talking about 200 protests, most of them have gone off without violence. But violence does happen.

And violence has happened back in May, it happened in June with a conservative blogger being attacked. You see people trying to jump over the divide. Some are frustrated residents, others of them are members of the liberal groups and Antifa who would like to come over here and engage the right and tell them to go home. And there's always a fear of violence when the groups come together.

But I do want to mention that this is not in a vacuum. There is a history here in Oregon. You know this very well, but this was the only whites-only state to join the union. And because of that, if you look back at the history of white nationalism, there was a sense that they would create a whites-only ethno-state here that they call Pacifica or Cascadia, they have different names for it. That wasn't just Oregon but much of the pacific northwest. That plays

a role. That is why many of these groups that track hate groups are very concerned that this will be the largest gathering of far right or white nationalists since Charlottesville in 2017, and you remember what happened there.

So the city is aware and cognizant of that, as well. And that is why there are so many police out here. There are not only police that you can see and very well identify as officers, but there are people who are here under cover. There are eyes all over this area where this was scheduled to happen.

[14:30:09] And so at this point, we have seen no violence. We just heard a lot of chanting, a lot of jeering. We've heard a lot of folks talking about not engaging with one another. But there's certainly an element here that this could turn into something that is far more problematic for the city of Portland and for those who came out here together to try and shout each other down, if you will, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Sara Sidner, we'll keep checking with you there out of Portland. Thank you so much.

And we're going to take a short break right now.


WHITFIELD: We continue to watch the massive gathering of extremist far right, far left groups in Portland, Oregon. All police on duty along with state police and FBI all there as they assemble.

And you heard the recording from the mayor of the city earlier asking residents to simply stay put, stay inside in their home. So many businesses have shuttered, have closed for the day in anticipation of what is being described by the mayor as a very volatile gathering. We'll continue to watch.

In the aftermath of two mass shootings and a nation on edge, gun safety groups are taking to the streets in all 50 states today.

[14:35:02] The rallies organized by Everytown for Gun Safety and other gun safety groups are set to take place in more than 100 different locations this weekend. The gatherings a response to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. And with U.S. Congress in the midst of a long summer break, the so-called recess rallies are aimed at pressuring lawmakers to change gun laws in America.

And in some cases, protesters plan to show up at U.S. senators' district offices to demand action on background checks and red flag laws. One of the rallies underway right now is in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people during a rampage two weeks ago. And that's where we find CNN's Natasha Chen. So Natasha, what are people saying and doing?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now on stage are the young college students who organized this particular event. They actually got this off the ground without help initially from any other group, though Moms Demand Action did come in and assist them with this later on. So this is a little bit different from some of the other rallies taking place today.

But these folks are still grieving. They're still mourning. And instead of sitting passively in their grief, they wanted to turn that into action. So what we've see today are speakers, including Congresswoman Veronica Escobar who called for a ban on assault weapons, who called for red flag laws and who called for universal, stronger background checks. Here's what Escobar told us after she spoke on stage.


REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR, (D-TX): It is absolutely unreal to me that commonsense bipartisan legislation won't even hear debate on the Senate side. It is un-American. What Senator McConnell has done is essentially silenced millions of Americans. One man, one man has the power to silence millions. It's unjust, un-American, unfair, and it's deadly. For people like those of us who live in El Paso, Texas, these laws are a matter of life and death.


CHEN: There were a couple of counter-protesters here at back of the group, but so far no major confrontations with them. What we do see is that there are tents back there, college students registering others to vote, trying to get that young voice to speak out. And there's also another table where there are postcards where people can send notes to Senator Mitch McConnell's office asking him to have that debate on gun legislation on the Senate floor, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen in El Paso, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

Still to come, President Trump predicts an economic disaster if he is not reelected. But indicators show a downturn could come sooner than 2020. More next.


[14:41:24] WHITFIELD: Live picture right now. We're continuing to monitor developments in Portland, Oregon, where far left organizers and far right organizers, and groups, are all gathering by the hundreds. You heard the mayor of Portland earlier calling this a volatile situation.

It was a rollercoaster week on wall street. The Dow closed Friday on a positive note, up more than 300 points. But on Wednesday, we saw the worst drop of the year. The Dow was down 800 points, and the S&P 500 fell three percent. The main concern, investors see a trade war between the U.S. and China with no end in sight.

And on Friday China announcing plans for an additional stimulus to shore up its economy. All this as President Trump works to win reelection in 2020, touting the very policies that have rattled many investors, while reassuring voters that when it comes to the economy, he is your best bet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we're opposing beautiful, well-placed tariffs, money comes in.

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.



WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now, Jamie Metzl, he's a senior fellow on the Atlantic Council and former NSC staffer in the Clinton administration. He also authored a book, "Hacking Darwin, Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity."

Good to see you, Jamie.


WHITFIELD: Your impressions when you hear the president say that?

METZL: It's just not true. Our economy has done well in some ways, the stock market is up because basically there's been -- it's on a sugar high because of all of these tax cuts that have gone to the wealthiest members of society and to big corporations. And now this bill is in many ways coming due. So we're in a very precarious situation.

The economy is being mismanaged in many ways. We're going into trade war not just with China but with our closest allies. This is a very, very dangerous situation, and this kind of grandstanding is not what we need. We need sound policies, and that's not what is coming out of Washington.

WHITFIELD: So would you say we got warning bells of a possible recession, this so called yield curve inverting for the first time since 2007?

METZL: Absolutely. These are real warning signs. What does it mean? The technical word is the yield curve. What does it mean if it's more expensive to borrow money for the long term than the short term? That shows that people are really frightened. There's a lot of money that's coming out of the markets because people realize that this sugar high is coming to an end.

And we need some serious people. Even in the beginning of the Trump administration, there were some serious people who were trying to lay a foundation for economic reforms, even ones that I personally didn't agree with. But now we have governance by tweet.

And we are gliding into a trade war that is going to have profound implications, not just for the United States but for the world. And we have to be tough on China, and it's great that we're doing it. But we're doing it in the wrong way. And if we're tough on China and we unnecessarily hurt ourselves, we are worse off than we need to be.

[14:45:00] WHITFIELD: So meantime, China does keep moving right along despite these threats of new tariffs on the horizon from the U.S. But we're also watching protests going on in Hong Kong. Do you see those protests in any way playing a role in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China? The president did say, or said he had a lot of confidence in Xi Jinping to handle it. Do you think there will be something else?

METZL: It's a contradictory message. On one hand in the context of our trade negotiations we're telling China that you, China, need to abide by the rule of law, you can't steal our intellectual property, you can't do all of those things. On the other hand, we have Hong Kong, which is this little point of light inside of China where there actually is rule of law, where there are even the semblance of democracy.

And rather than saying, which he should, President Trump saying, which he should, that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong, he's saying, you, Xi Jinping, you just deal with that problem. That's not -- that doesn't just violate America's values. It also violates America's interests, because it's in our interest for China to be more like Hong Kong. That's the kind of China that we want as a partner. And that's what we seem to be fighting for in this trade conflict.

So it really, the inconsistencies coming out of Washington are really undermining America's interests. And they're creating, frankly, a lot of chaos not just in Asia but around the world.

WHITFIELD: Jamie Metzl, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much, as Hong Kong enters its 11th now weekend of those protests.

Meantime here in the United States, we're watching developments out of Portland, Oregon, where far left, far right extremist groups have gathered by the hundreds. They are in the downtown area. You see them on this span of the bridge. We have seen there have been a couple of arrests, but so far the protests, while tense, and as the mayor describes volatile, have not turned violent each though there has been an apprehension of weapons by police throughout these many groups that are gathering. We'll continue to watch and keep you posted. We'll be right back after this.


[14:51:10] WHITFIELD: Look at these pictures still coming in. We continue to monitor developments out of Portland, Oregon, where far left extremist groups and far right extremist groups have gathered by the hundreds. The mayor has cautioned people to stay indoors, stay in their homes. Already police have seized weapons from a number of people who have gathered there, and the mayor is continuing to call this a volatile situation.

Meantime, New York police say they have the man in custody who was seen in surveillance video dropping off rice cookers at two different locations including a busy transit hub. CNN Correspondent, Polo Sandoval joining me right now from New York with more on this. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, good afternoon. The NYPD has not identified him by name. They are confident that they now have in custody the man that they believe placed a couple of kitchen appliances in a very busy lower Manhattan subway station, causing quite the scare.

You recall the initial call came in about possible pressure cookers that had been located at the subway station both on the mezzanine and also on the platform itself. Of course, the immediate images that come to mind are some of the previous instances where some of those pressure cookers were used to, as improvised explosive devices. However, an investigation eventually revealed that those were actually rice cookers, that they were empty, and that they were not a threat.

However, investigators have been trying to track down this individual, releasing his photo yesterday. And then at 2:00 in the morning today is when investigators were able to track him down. All we know at this point based on information that has been released is that he was unconscious, found in a neighborhood in the Bronx. But we are learning to hopefully -- expected to learn more about that, and if he will face any potential criminal charges. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

We're also watching developments in Portland, Oregon, where far left, far right extremist groups have gathered there. We've seen arrests, but so far the protest, while tense, have not turned violent. We are back in a moment.


[14:56:55] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Exactly 50 years ago nearly a half million people crowded on to a farm in upstate New York to hear the biggest acts in rock and roll. It was called Woodstock and quickly became known as what many consider to be the most iconic pop culture event in history.

And CNN has a new special report on its legacy. Bill Weir talks to the major figures who helped make the festival a great success, along with artists who were performing there, like David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this burst of creativity that you've had, you sing about death. Do you think about how you want to be remembered?

DAVID CROSBY, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Not so much. The songs will do that. They're the best I can do. That's the weird thing, everybody's scared to talk about it. The question is, what are you going to do with it? How do you spend that two weeks or that 10 years? And I got that figured out. Family, music, because it's the only thing I can do.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Bill Weir joined me earlier today to talk about some of Woodstock's most memorable moments.


WHITFIELD: So when you talk to these artists, what is it that they remember most? Was it the crowd, the conditions, or kind of the consciousness of the time?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it's less about the music and more about the human connection. Exactly 50 years ago this morning Woodstock was the third-largest city in New York, and they were out of food. And that's when all these locals came, resort owners, farmers, who were suspicious at first of this huge horde of hippies coming. They donated food. And there was a hippie FEMA, the hog farm, the commune with the wavy gravy. And they fed each other.

And I think that's why of all the concerts this is the one that gets the golden anniversary, because it should have been a humanitarian disaster. Almost half a million people there for that whole weekend. Only two casualties.

WHITFIELD: My gosh. Don't get me wrong, I was around, but I wasn't around there.

WEIR: Sure.

WHITFIELD: I was a little too young. But were there any particular moments that a lot of these musicians talked about --

WEIR: Yes --

WHITFIELD: -- that made it so memorable --

WEIR: Absolutely. And each one, there's 400,000 different stories. But what intrigued me is I wanted to see how much of the ideals of peace, love, and music hold up 50 years later. And David Crosby, he no longer talks to Stills, Nash, and Young. Their peace and love turned into fights and lawsuits and bitterness. But there are these little moments of connection. The couple on the cover of the Woodstock album, the iconic triple album with them wrapped in a blanket, they're still together, married 48 years.

And so I think it's one of those cultural moments that we aspire to. We like to think that we would take care of each other if the fences come down and there were no metal detectors, especially these days.

WHITFIELD: Right. And so many iconic moments in music and other ways. "Star Spangled Banner."

WEIR: Exactly, Hendrix.

WHITFIELD: You can't forget that. Or at least you know what I mean by can't forget it. I wasn't there, but I'm really aware.



WHITFIELD: All right, Bill Weir, thank you so much.