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President Trump Appears to Back Off Calls for Expanded Background Checks for Gun Purchases; Jay-Z's Company Makes Entertainment Deal with NFL. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People don't realize, we have very strong background checks right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got things the vast majority of Americans support that still haven't got done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three potential mass shooting foiled by police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are finding the community online. The FBI is nervous about this threat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, August 19th, it's 8:00 in the east. And it certainly seems as if the president is retreating on gun legislation again. Just 10 days after calling for meaningful background checks, the president is now arguing or seems to be arguing that the status quo might be enough.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People don't realize, we have very strong background checks right now. You go in to buy a gun, you have to sign up. There are a lot of background checks that have been approved over the years.


BERMAN: With Congress still on recess there's really been no movement on gun legislation following the massacres in California and then El Paso and then Dayton.

CAMEROTA: But a new national poll shows that Americans want action. An overwhelming majority want background checks expanded, and 52 percent of voters disapprove of the way the president is handling the response to these mass shootings. It's worth noting that four of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history have happened during the Trump presidency. BERMAN: Joining us now to discuss, Andrew Gillum, CNN political

commentator, the former mayor of Tallahassee and 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator and a former Democratic member of the South Carolina House, he supports Senator Kamala Harris, April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and Angela Rye, CNN political commentator and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. I'm just an anchor at CNN. I have one simple line there.


BERMAN: I don't know. Those are some lofty titles there.

I think the significance here is that any Republican you talk to inside the Senate says that if there's going to be movement on expanding checks, the president is going to have to lead the way. The president is going to be the one -- have to be the one to push it along. Mitch McConnell's people have said that. That seems to be the notion. So, Mayor Gillum, when you have the president of the United States just 10 days after calling for meaningful background checks and saying that is something he wanted, all of a sudden say, yes, we have strong background checks already, it seems to me that whatever steel might have been in his spine before on background checks is gone now again.

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: John, Alisyn, the truth is this president simply cannot be trusted. His word is not his bond. And it's not just this issue. You can scour the issues over his presidency where he began with one day with one tweet or one comment and it ends the day in the complete opposite direction.

And really, it is disappointing because, Democrats, Republicans, independents, this is bipartisan support all around the country for the Congress and president to do something. This is a moment for him to demonstrate leadership. Yet that is a term, that is a characteristic that continues to elude this president. He's showy. He likes to put stuff in the atmosphere to distract us. But when it comes to actually biting the bullet -- excuse the pun -- he backs away. He retracts, he surrenders.

What this tells me is, certainly on this issue, is that Donald Trump is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA, he's terrified of them. He's running a base campaign, and I think on this issue will continue to shrink from leadership and moral leadership and clarity that's required at this moment as many Americans are concerned for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, their schools, their churches, their synagogues, and our president waits.

CAMEROTA: Angela, here are just a few poll numbers to put up so people see where Americans are on these -- 89 percent of Americans, Republicans, Democrats support expanding background checks, red flag laws that get guns out of the hands out of the most dangerous percent, 76 percent, voluntary buyback, 75 percent, ban sale of assault weapons, 62 percent. So will anything change right now as you see it? ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, and I think that this

is really the question. We have a president who, as Andrew just said, has zero credibility. He has questioned polls and the legitimacy of them when, again, they are not in his favor. And I think that the question really is on all of us. What are we going to do to demonstrate leadership, because we know that he's not able to demonstrate leadership? What are we going to do to ensure members of Congress who are elected to serve the public regardless of whether those members in their communities and their districts or in their states voted for them, they have an ensemble foundation to serve the public.

[08:05:05] What we know right now is that gun rights are conflicting with human rights, the right to live. So for all of the people out there, especially on the conservative side of the aisle that say they are pro-life, you should be pro-life when it comes to gun killings. So where are you? Where are you when it's time to stand out for the right to live when people are being killed, when kids -- Andrew just talked about his kids and the kinds of conversations he's going to have to have with his children now that they have started school. Do we really want those conversations being had with preschoolers and kindergartners? That is unreasonable. It is irresponsible, and it is incumbent upon the people, the American people, to do something about this when the president won't act.

BERMAN: Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I'm depressed, I'm exhausted, I'm tired. As an age-old adage, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don't believe anything is going to happen. And I'm sorry for being so jaded, but I'm jaded by reality. You have people gunned down at a concert, you have people gunned down at an elementary school, you have people gunned down in a church. Nothing has changed in this country because people are afraid to go up against a lobby.

And we can say now, your question, John, was damning, and it didn't do anything for my depression this morning, because now you're asking me to ask the president of the United States to be a leader, something he's been incapable of doing his entire life. And so now if that is what I have to depend on, then my depression, it exacerbates because I can't have any faith in him.

But if it's incumbent upon me to do something, we've already had enough bloodshed, but I would look in the camera and simply ask Lindsey Graham to have the fortitude necessary to go out and implement some change as a South Carolinian. We had the Parkland kids. We have Moms Demand Action. We have all of these individuals fighting for everything they believe in, but we have cowards that we've elected to places of government, and that has to change. I don't believe anything will, so stop messing with my depressing this morning, John.

CAMEROTA: That is doubly depressing. April, you cover the White House day in and day out. Why does the president -- the president who leads from his gut, who tweets immediately that he thinks that background checks should be expanded -- I could just go down the list -- that the age minimum should be raised for gun purchases, that bump stocks should be banned. Right after these, that's his first instinct is that something has to change. Why does he backtrack like this?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know why he backtracks, because the American public is not pushing hard enough. And I hate to do that and say that, but it's the truth. When you saw what happened in Parkland and when you saw what happened in Vegas with the bump stocks, he did the bump stocks, he got a ban on bump stocks. But then when it came to Parkland, he held a town hall meeting. These kids forced the nation to look in the mirror. And he said he was so taken by the honesty, the sheer pain and the hurt and the tears in that room in the White House, that he said, I'm going to look into this.

But what was it, the first obstacle, the NRA. The NRA said, whoa, hold your horses. And he had to at that moment. But there is more of an outcry now. So it depends, and I've heard from my sources who are in the inner circle who said, look, the president has told NRA we may not be able to hold off much longer.

But here is another reason why if it does not move, it's because this is an election year. You have Mitch McConnell who is not willing to move on this, who is in a battle to save his seat, his political career. So this is about politics, it's about winning an election in certain states that believe in the Second Amendment, and also the NRA. But the will of the people, the moral clarity from the American public, if they push hard enough, if they push long enough, hard enough, consistently and persistently, things could change. I've seen it over the past.

GILLUM: I don't think any of us, by the way, April, disagree with the Second Amendment. None of us are trying to change the language of the Constitution. We're simply saying in Ohio in a matter of 30 seconds, you had a weapon that could basically level -- quite frankly hundreds of people. In this case we were fortunate in some instances that there weren't more bodies laying in the street here. But you have individuals who have weapons of war, weapons that, quite frankly, have artillery that outflanks that of law enforcement agencies charged with protecting us.

Listen, folks, we do have to do something. I'm extremely proud of Moms Demand Action. I'm extremely proud of the young people from Parkland. And I will tell you one distinct difference that happened in Florida following what happened at Sandy Hook that didn't happen here in the nation is that the legislative session happened to be in when that very tragic event took place. And so our representatives weren't able to escape the reality that they were in position right there, right in that moment, to take a vote and to change some things.

[08:10:10] We didn't get as much as we wanted, but we do have red flag laws now, right? We did address the age limit to be table to access high capacity weapons. But we've got to do more. The worst thing we could have done was let Mitch McConnell get away with not calling back the United States Senate and the Congress to deal with these issues immediately.

BERMAN: I'm going to shift gears, if I can right now.

RYE: Andrew, really quick. BERMAN: Angela, it's has to be super quick because I want to get to

this next subject, but go ahead.

RYE: Really, really quick, I just want to say this because I think as black folks sitting on this air we also don't want to ignore the folks in our communities every day who are working hard against gun violence when it does rise to the level of a mass shooting. But those Black Lives Matter, too, I just want to commend those folks for not giving up, and hopefully they all can help Bakari in aiding that depression, because we've got work to do.

BERMAN: I want to talk about social justice and I want to talk about sports, if I can, because Jay-Z and his company has struck a deal with the NFL, an entertainment deal. And in the process of doing this has sort of talked about where he sees the movement for social justice right now and where it's going. And he also spoke about Colin Kaepernick. Let's listen to what Jay-Z said.


JAY-Z, ENTREPRENEUR: You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual say, I hear you. What do we do next? I think we've past kneeling. I think it's time to go into actionable items.


BERMAN: We're past kneeling, he says. Colin Kaepernick, as you can imagine, has something to say about that. On Instagram, he says "My brothers Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson," who are all athletes, who are continuing to protest along with Colin Kaepernick "continue to fight for the people even in the face of death threats. They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong, brothers."

Are there two sides to this? Is there a team Jay-Z and a team Colin Kaepernick on this issue, Angela?

RYE: Well, let me first just say this. This is a really tricky, sore subject. And first --

SELLERS: You first, Angela.

RYE: He sure did, I'm ready. And I'm ready. The issue is plain and simple. The issue is that Jay-Z talked about kneeling, but there was also some additional context in that press conference they called. People should continue to kneel. People should continue to protest. Why? Because the issue was police brutality, and black folks and brown folks and other folks are continuing to be gunned down and beat down by law enforcement all over this country. So no, the protest does not end.

Additionally, I would say to Colin, Colin, I hope that you will figure out a way to work with Jay-Z on this. I'm not talking about striking a deal with the NFL. But if now the second part of the protest is that you still don't have a job, let's figure out how you get that job, right? And I don't think it's either-or. I would love to see Jay-Z say, yo, I want to work with the NFL, but this deal is coming to a screeching halt if Colin can't get signed. And I think that's reasonable. That's a win for the culture. I have a lot more to say about this, but it's probably a book. I'll defer to the squad.

CAMEROTA: That's a good tease. Bakari, which side are you on, Jay-Z or Kaepernick, if it breaks that way?

SELLERS: I don't think it's a side issue. But I will say, with all due respect to Sean Carter, Jay-Z, I think he was wrong in his comment, because kneeling is an action item. I think protesting, sitting, marching, sometimes those things we do in silence, that civil disobedience, those are action items. I don't think this is one side or the other. I think we're all on the same side of the coin. I think that we're all protesting in our own ways. And yes, I think movement do evolve. Jay-Z in "Diamonds are Forever," he said it best. He said I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man. And so he's taking what he knows, that knowledge he knows about business --

RYE: Come on with the lyrics.

SELLERS: -- and trying to bring forth -- "Diamonds are Forever," by the way, is a great song. I hope John and Alisyn bump it as we leave the segment.


SELLERS: But he's taking what he knows as a businessman and trying to move social justice forward. I'm going to be patient with Jay, because Jay has bailed out protesters, he's sent kids to college. He deserves our patience and our respect as we see how this evolves. But I will say that Colin Kaepernick gave up everything that he had for something he believed in. He will always be a hero in the same vein that we talk about Muhammad Ali.

BERMAN: Mayor?

GILLUM: I'll tell you, I agree with both my colleagues here.

RYE: Andrew was trying to hide. Andrew was like, don't call on me, don't call on me.


GILLUM: No. The truth is, so I will tell you, I was disappointed when I heard that we're past kneeling, right. And I think that we should all reject that. We're not past kneeling. Innocent people, particularly black and brown people, continue to die in the streets unwarranted. We're not beyond that point. I was disappointed that a conversation didn't take place between Mr. Kaepernick and obviously Jay-Z before this thing was struck.

Now, I'm not going to pity Colin Kaepernick for not having a job, and I don't think he would want us to pity him in that way. This movement wasn't about that. It is about the injustice that continues to be pervasive in our society. That being said, Jay-Z, is not new to this, I think about the work

that he has done for the Trayvon Martin Foundation here for Sybrina Fulton, and for Tracy, down here in Florida. He is conscious about these issues.

And I just -- I'm hopeful, and I'm going to watch it as well, that there's a bigger plan at play here because we're not dealing with a dummy. He is a smart man. He's a businessman. But he also is someone who is conscious and I think aware of the environment that we find ourselves and I think we'll do some something to move the ball forward here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, friends, Diamonds are forever, and of course all you are as well -- forever. Thank you for being here.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We owe you -- I know. We you one, April.

BERMAN: You're first up next time. You're first -- so take it up with the executives.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: April is right? What about -- I know, April is not letting you go, John.

RYAN: Wait, a minute. Wait, wait. I'm going to say this, I'm going to say this. I am for the culture of 400 years since we Africans were brought into this nation, I'm for Jay-Z making change on the inside, and Colin Kaepernick getting a job back in the NFL and for people to still stand up for what's right.

Four hundred years ago, Africans were dealt with policing, 400 years ago until today, it is still an issue. Jay-Z is wrong there. But he needs to do the work from the inside out.

CAMEROTA: April, you did it in under 10 seconds. You've got your message out. You delivered.

BERMAN: Diamonds are forever.

CAMEROTA: That was excellent. Yes.

BERMAN: Like, I think I always say.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you so much.

RYAN: Diamonds are forever.

CAMEROTA: All right, moving on. President Trump's interest in buying Greenland from Denmark has been ridiculed. But yesterday he confirmed that the idea is no joke. So we will talk to the former U.S. Ambassador of Denmark -- or to Denmark -- all about this, next.


[08:21:07] BERMAN: All right, this morning, President Trump has confirmed that his administration has discussed the possibility of buying Greenland from Denmark, which by the way, Greenland is not for sale.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner, I can tell you that. Essentially, it's a large real estate deal. A lot of things could be done. It's hurting Denmark very badly, because they're losing almost $700 million a year carrying. So they carry it at a great loss. And strategically for the United States, it would be nice.


BERMAN: All right, joining us now is the former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford who happens to be in Denmark this morning. Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us. Can I just ask what your first reaction was when you heard this news?

And I should note that you actually have been to Greenland more than almost anyone else I've ever talked you in my life? What? Twelve times, so you know, you're talking about here. Your first reaction when you heard this?

RUFUS GIFFORD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO DENMARK: Yes. Oh, good morning, John and Alisyn. Yes, so I was -- honestly, I saw that "Wall Street Journal" headline when I boarded a flight in Boston bound for Copenhagen.

And at first, I think like many people, I thought it was a joke. And in reading more, it became confirmed. And, you know, I shook my head, as I often say, as many times as I've heard about Trump's foreign policy decisions, I laughed until I cried. Because it just seemed to be such a bizarre and cavalier way to talk about what is really a phenomenal alliance and critically important alliance strategically, and I don't mean just the U.S. and Denmark, but also the United States and Greenland.

BERMAN: So, you're there, and no doubt you've spoken to a lot of people in Denmark about this. What are they saying about this?

GIFFORD: Well, I think, yes, it's -- I would say it's gone over -- it's gone over like a lead balloon. You've seen both the former Prime Minister of Denmark, the current Prime Minister of Denmark, the Greenland government, all say that Greenland is not for sale.

Many of them thinking that they -- many of them hoping it was a joke, when they first heard about it. And that really speaks to what this is all about.

I think, the clip you just played of the President and talking about the purchase of the largest island in the world that 50-plus -- more than 50,000 people live on talking about it like a great real estate transaction. This is simply not how you conduct foreign policy.

Foreign policy is not strictly about dollars and cents, and he speaks about it as if it is just dollars and cents. Greenland has been a critically important part of the Kingdom of Denmark for centuries, literally centuries.

And I would imagine now, of course, as Americans, we all know that anything is possible. But I can't imagine that that's going to change anytime soon.

BERMAN: I should -- this is the time of the interview where we give the historical disclaimer here, which is that it's not the first time that someone in the United States is talking about buying Greenland from Denmark. Harry Truman wanted to do it after World War II for some $100 million, and it's also not the first time that the United States could be engaged in a real estate transaction with Denmark, correct?

The U.S. Virgin Islands, I think or what are now the U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark, I believe, it was 1917. So historically, and I'm talking about decades and decades and decades ago, stuff like this did happen. But what's the difference then and now?

GIFFORD: Well, it's a really important point, John and think about where we were geopolitically in 1946 versus now. In 1946, Harry Truman and the United States more generally, were very, very concerned in the aftermath of World War II leading into the Cold War about adversarial powers, adversarial countries gaining a foothold very, very close to the United States.

Of course, Greenland, other than Canada and Mexico and some of the Caribbean Islands is really as close to the United States geographically as you can get. So there was real concern.

[08:25:08] GIFFORD: What's the difference now? The difference now is something that's critically important to the peace and prosperity of the West, which is NATO -- of the world, which is NATO.

Greenland is NATO, because Denmark is NATO. So in essence, any challenge to Greenland would invoke Article 5, which would then the entire alliance would respond. That is so you can't compare the geopolitics of 1946 to 2019, frankly.

And as far as the Virgin Islands is concerned, you're absolutely right. I bet most of your viewers don't know that the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix were Danish until the early 1900s. We got it for a very, very good price, frankly, and the Danes are still not particularly happy about it.

So I can't imagine they would let Greenland go just like they let the Virgin Islands go.

BERMAN: Of course, the President's comments yesterday, one of the most important things he might have said was, "It's not on the front burner," which indicates to me, I doubt this is going to be the dominant subject of the private discussions in Denmark where the President goes there in a couple of weeks, correct?

GIFFORD: Well, I think that's -- I'm certain, that's correct. I don't know that for a fact, but I'm certain that's correct. And let's be clear, with this, too, that a greater partnership between the United States and Denmark, excuse me, between the United States and Greenland would benefit every party. The United States, Greenland, and Denmark, everyone would look for that.

So whether we're talking about economic investment, and even the military partnership, I would imagine that that would be welcomed by all parties, but purchasing -- purchasing -- a great real estate transaction. That is where this just feels completely tone deaf and out of line.

And I think there's a real distinction there, but absolutely greater partnership with Greenland. Bring it on. I think that that the United States has been working on that for years and years.

Certainly, we did in the Obama administration. But I can tell you, if anybody in the Obama administration had brought up purchasing Greenland, we would have been laughed out of the room.

BERMAN: Ambassador Rufus Gifford, thanks for joining us this morning from Denmark, I should say, thank you -- Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: All right, John. Immigration hardliner, Stephen Miller is one of the most influential aides in the West Wing. Our next guest brings his deep dive reporting to us on who Miller is and how he got so powerful, next.