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CNN TONIGHT

Greenland Is Not For Sale; President Trump Caved In On Gun Control Issue; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Presidential Candidate, Is Interviewed About The Idea Of The Trump Administration To Buy Greenland, About Joe Biden's Numbers And His Presidential Candidacy; Trump Not Done Attacking Anthony Scaramucci; President Trump Insisting The Economy Is Doing Well; Donald Trump Targeting Congresswomen Omar And Tlaib. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Mr. President, you may sleep less but the rest of this country may rest a little easier.

Thank you for watching tonight. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You make a pretty good point. And people ask, I'm sure they ask you as well coming from a political family. Hey, why don't you run for office. You ever think of running for president, and I say no way in -- seriously no way in hell.

CUOMO: People ask you about running for office?

LEMON: They absolutely do.

CUOMO: That is a sad commentary on the state of affairs.

LEMON: They said I should run and I should make you my V.P.

CUOMO: What? Nobody has ever said that to you ever.

LEMON: He said, they said make Chris Lemon your V.P.

CUOMO: My God.

LEMON: That's exactly what he said.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. That keeps me up at night. That cabdriver in Detroit turning around and saying your voice, you're Chris Lemon. That is one of the worst things I've ever heard.

LEMON: You should never, ever have told me that. I'm going to get -- I'm going to get a license plate with you with that on it. C. Lemon, that's your new name. C. Lemon.

CUOMO: I could be called worse things, this we both know.

LEMON: No, but seriously. Listen, let's talk about what you were saying. I think about before that escalator ride what I look like. Everyone says, man, they used to tell me you look like you're in your 20s. Now they me you look like you're in your 60s.

I know I've aged a ton but I think the country, we have so -- it's so -- we are inundated every single day and especially those of us who have to report on this every night, five days a night for me. It's like news, through a fire hose of news every single day. It is exhausting and it's aging.

CUOMO: Well, and we don't own it in any way the way our leaders do. Look, the point I'm trying to make in the closing is pretty basic. This president should be caring about things and he should be taking on battles, he shouldn't be creating them.

LEMON: Yes. Well, he does.

CUOMO: He sees division as a currency for him. There's an election coming. We're covering the state of play on a daily basis of who's up and down and what it means for him and why.

The economy, he starts fights with the Fed. By the way, I don't think he's wrong in the policy, but I think he's right -- he's wrong about how he deals with it.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: He starts fights now, he's trying to put the Jews in a bucket, trying to push people of with us and them, breaking up groups, playing on what holds our fabric together here and it's a fragile thing. He should care more about these things and he should foment them less, that's his job.

LEMON: Yes. Well, he creates a crisis and then he solves it and then he credits himself for solving a crisis which was self-created --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes. And what does he solve?

LEMON: -- and the -- yes, I know.

CUOMO: You know? Is passing a rule that says you can keep all migrants families together is that solving?

LEMON: Is that solving. Yes.

CUOMO: Or should you find a way to process some --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Or saying you're not going to meet with an ally because you don't want to -- you no longer want to buy the island, their island. It's unbelievable. I got to --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And look, some of the staff is going to catch up with them, Don. I don't know if you heard Stephen Moore on this show but he's saying did you know that we have more available jobs as a surplus than we've ever had before?

Well, then maybe you shouldn't demonize the people who are coming to take those low skilled labor jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Who are coming over to take the jobs. yes.

CUOMO: He goes, well, I'm not, I'm not for that. I'm just for them coming legally.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Well, then maybe you should stop calling them murderers and rapists and create a better system.

LEMON: That just went right over their head.

CUOMO: No, they just don't want to deal with what he says.

LEMON: All right. Yes.

CUOMO: That's their job.

LEMON: Have a good one.

CUOMO: You too, brother.

LEMON: I'll see you tomorrow. Nice show.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

This is our breaking news. He is serious. He is serious. The President of the United States is apparently serious about trying to buy Greenland from Denmark. So serious that he's canceling his planned visit to Denmark scheduled for the end of next week because the Danish prime minister doesn't want to sell him the largest island in the world with a population of more than 56,000.

Because she says, quote, "Thankfully the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over."

The president tweeting, of course tweeting, "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's comments that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland. I will be postponing our meetings scheduled in two weeks for another time. The prime minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future."

Well, he sure has changed his tune since he said this. This was over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, the concept came up

and I said certainly I'd be strategically it's interesting and we'd be interested. But we'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Not number one on the burner, but he's willing to cancel an official visit to a NATO ally? He's willing to take his bat and his ball and just go home?

This president wants to convince you that he's a tough guy so he's picking a fight with Greenland. Greenland. He wants to convince you that he is a tough guy. It's why he is consistently following strategy, the strategy of dividing America, of trying to pit us against each other.

[22:05:02] Just listen to what he says about Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and about Jewish-Americans who vote for Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Where has the Democratic Party gone, where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does he even know what he's just said there? Think about it. Disloyalty. Disloyalty? What is the president talking about? Honestly, think about it. Is he trafficking in the ugly anti-Semitic charge of dual loyalty? Questioning the loyalty of Jewish citizens?

The Anti-Defamation League's Jonathan Greenblatt tweeting this. He says, "It is unclear who POTUS is claiming Jews would be disloyal to but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we said before it's possible to engage in the Democratic process without these claims. It's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football."

Is this about Israel? Or is it the president talking about loyalty to himself? Afterall, Jewish-Americans voted for a Democratic, the Democratic Party by about a three to one margin in the 2018 mid-terms.

Like I said, remember he just said it just moments ago, this president's strategy is to divide Americans with 2020 on the horizon and to convince you that he is a tough guy. It's why he attacks his political enemies like the congresswomen, Tlaib and Omar.

It's why he attacks former members of team Trump like Anthony Scaramucci who says he was wrong about Trump and won't support him for his second term.

The president tweeting, tweet of course that Scaramucci is, quote, "just another disgruntled former employee who got fired for gross incompetence." What ever happened to hiring only the best people? Only the best people remember?

I'm going to talk to Anthony Scaramucci just a minute right here, live on this show. But this whole tough guy thing, are you listening to me? It's a farce.

Actually, this president is no tough guy when he's up against a tough opponent. He caved. He caved on background checks. Even though he said this just days after 31 people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important.

Frankly, we need intelligent background checks, OK? This isn't a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Intelligent background checks. That was then. Now he's caving. Even though 90 percent of those surveyed in a Fox News poll last week, 90 percent, Fox News, 90 percent Fox News support background checks on all gun buyers.

A source confirming the president had a conversation with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre today and told him that universal background checks were off the table. And then he went out to spout NRA talking points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have very, very strong background checks right now, but we have sort of missing areas and areas that don't complete the whole circle. And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem and I've said it a hundred times it's not the gun that pulls the trigger, it's the person that pulls the trigger. These are sick people and it is also that kind of a problem. And we're looking at mental institutions which we used to have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And speaking of NRA talking points, there is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of the people that put me where I am, are strong believers in the Second Amendment, and I am also. And we have to be very careful about that. You know they call it the slippery slope and all of a sudden everything gets taken away. We're not going to let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Remember when then candidate Trump said this about Second Amendment people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. And by the way if she gets to pick --

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people maybe there is, I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:09:55] LEMON: This is president who will cave to the NRA every single time. He did it after 17 students and their teachers were shot to death in Parkland, Florida. He's doing it again now. He also caved on China. Even though he is talking like a tough guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am doing this whether it's good or bad for your statement about, will we fall into a recession for two months, OK?

The fact is somebody had to take China and my life would be a lot easier if I didn't take China on, but I like doing it because I have to do it, and we're getting great results.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Tough guy. He seems to have forgotten what happened just last week when he caved on another round of tariffs on China, pushing them back until December 15th.

Top economic advisor Peter Navarro calling that decision, that decision to cave, quote, "a Christmas present to the nation."

The president also caved to Vladimir Putin, disgracefully in Helsinki, taking Putin's word over his own intelligence community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others and they say they think it's Russia. I have President Putin he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Now he's caving to Putin again, calling for Russia to be welcomed back into what is now the G-7 just days before the group is due to meet in France and claiming Putin, his word, outsmarted President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I guess President Obama because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out. But I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G-8. President Obama didn't want Russia in because he got outsmarted. Well, that's not the way it really should work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The fact is that's not the way it works. It's not the way it works. It's not the way this works. Russia was kicked out of what was then the G-8 after the majority, the majority of member countries condemned Putin's annexation of Crimea which by the way Russia continues to hold.

But this president thinks it's appropriate to welcome Russia back. And if Vladimir Putin has outsmarted anybody it's probably not President Obama. So why is this president doing all of this, why is he playing the tough guy only to cave at the last minute? Why is he slamming President Obama? Why is he of all things throwing a temper tantrum over not being able to buy Greenland?

It is simple, it's very simple. The president is worried. And when he's worried what does he do? He tries to distract you with tough talk and shiny objects. And what is he worried about? Two words for you. Twenty-twenty.

Like I said the president scrapping an official visit to NATO ally, to a NATO ally because they won't sell him Greenland. Does the rest of the world think of all of this? What do they think? We're going to dig into it. That's next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It bears repeating because it's frankly hard to believe. The President of the United States postponing a visit to a NATO ally apparently because they won't sell him Greenland.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins me now at the White House lawn. Good evening to you, sir. Thank you for joining us.

President Trump had been expected to visit Denmark late next week but that's no longer happening. It's hard to believe the reasoning here. Tell us why.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, it's basically because Denmark is reluctant to sell him Greenland. The president had brought this up in conversations several times according to White House sources. Even have the White House counsel look into the legality of buying Greenland.

So, this is something he was taking seriously. On the face of it, it wouldn't be crazy for the United States to try something like this considering Greenland has tremendous strategic implications.

It has a lot of natural resources, there's already a U.S. military base there. What isn't clear is exactly why the president thought it was up for grabs, why he thought it was for sale. The Danish prime minister made clear that this story was absurd. She

even said I hope that this is not meant seriously. Apparently, President Trump was taking it very seriously because now he's not going to Denmark altogether.

Take a look at what he tweeted a short time ago. He wrote, quote, "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's comments that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland.

I will be postponing our meetings scheduled in two weeks for another time. The prime minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future."

Now some of the president's surrogates have suggested that he was joke about all this. But it's clear that his main motivator for going to Denmark in the first place was this purchase of Denmark or rather, of Greenland from Denmark which clearly is not happening, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate that, Boris Sanchez.

Now I want to bring in "Washington Post's" Philip Bump, and "Wall Street Journal's" Vivian Salama.

Thank you both for joining us this evening. It's an interesting conversation.

Vivian, I'm going to start with you. You and your colleagues at the Wall Street Journal broke this story. At the time it was unclear how serious the president was about this, and now he is postponing a trip to a NATO ally over this. Remember we just spoke about it last week.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I'm still wrapping my head around it, frankly. I mean, when we reported the story last week, we knew it was going to be a talker. I don't think we realized the extent to which it was going to kind of blow up and turn into this international incident where the president cancels his trip.

But obviously, there's been a lot that's happened since then with both the leaders of Greenland and Denmark coming out condemning this saying that they hope it's a joke, that Greenland is not for sale.

And they've really doubled down on this notion that President Trump is basically putting out there, this antiquated foreign policy outlook where he thinks that he can a sovereign can buy a country from another sovereign.

It's very sort of late 19th century, early 20th century idea. The last time we tried it after all was in 1946. And even then, Denmark said, no, we're not going to sell Greenland. [22:19:59] But since then obviously there's a new world order and a lot of the European countries that have been reacting to this said, you know, that is not how things work, but President Trump obviously doubling down today and saying he's very serious about it, and so serious that he won't go to Denmark if they're not willing to discuss.

LEMON: Here's what the Danish prime minister said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

METTE FREDERIKSON, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK (ON SCREEN CAPTIONS): Of course, Greenland is not for sale. I totally agree with Kim Kielsen, and by the way, Greenland does not belong to Denmark, so it's not a case for us, but naturally, Greenland is not for sale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Philip Bump, the prime minister standing up for Denmark saying it's not for sale, there's no for sale sign on Greenland. Is this why he's canceling his trip, was this his whole reason for going there?

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, the reporting suggests that it is, and certainly his tweets suggest that if she isn't willing to talk about this thing, then he is not going to go.

I mean, it is -- it is -- we have a headline on the Washington Post right now that says Trump cancels his trip because Denmark won't sell him Greenland. And it's like, is this the onion? Am I reading an onion headline? When I see that, it's astonishing.

LEMON: Can you believe we're actually discussing this? Like what --

(CROSSTALK)

BUMP: You know why I can? I can because this is guy who spent 30 years trying to buy real estate. Right? And so, he gets into the White House, he wants to do something splashy because that's sort of his nature and he says there's this big chunk of land, let's try and buy it, it's got a lot of these resources, let's try and buy that.

He talks to his folks, he talks to his attorneys and that's what he does. And even this move tonight is the sort of thing he does in the art of the deal. They're not going to come to the table, I'm going to walk away first. And I'm going to -- that's how I'm going to make step. This is all very Trump organization, Donald Trump. It is not the president of the United States.

LEMON: He wants a big land deal? is that what you're --

BUMP: Yes, I think so. I think that he thinks in terms of what's the big splashy thing I can do, I can buy something big -- some big bid of real estate. And what's the bigger bid of real estate than Greenland.

LEMON: Got you. But Vivian, there are people involved here. They live there, they aren't willing to have their nationality bought and sold.

SALAMA: That's absolutely right. And so that's been one of the many factors that will obviously make this quite impossible to pull off is that folks in Greenland really kind of -- there was an out roar when -- an uproar when all this happened last week, to the point that there are all these satirical, you know, jokes and whatnot and little web sites that were going around.

Some folks in Greenland sent me a for sale sign with a map of Greenland on it as a joke that was kind of spreading around. And another, the Queen of Denmark actually canceling her meeting with President Trump over the Greenland issue.

And obviously it's kind of taken off as a joke over there. But when push comes to shove folks over there saying absolutely not. I mean, we would love America to invest more money, and that's something that the government of Greenland has said over and over since last Thursday when we put out the stories, yes, we welcome your investment, we're open for business but we're not for sale.

And President Trump obviously still wanting to negotiate that point.

LEMON: Philip Bump, what does it say about President Trump that he'll cozy up to an adversary like Russia but then he will do this sort of weird thing with an ally like Denmark, basically, you know, saying I can buy and sell you and if you don't, whatever, I'm going to cancel my trip?

BUMP: I mean, honestly, it doesn't tell us anything new about Donald Trump. This is the Donald Trump we've known since January 20, 2017, that he is much more comfortable speaking with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un as it turns out, speaking with Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. He's much more comfortable with those sorts of leaders than he is with elected Democratic leaders who are responsible constituents.

LEMON: Yes. Philip, Vivian, thank you. Keep bringing us the stories. I mean, Vivian and I talked about this last week and here we are. As we said we didn't imagine --

(CROSSTALK)

BUMP: Who knows?

LEMON: -- that we would be discussing it at length again this week. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

There's lots of news coming out of the White House tonight and I'll have a presidential candidate weigh in on all of it. It's Senator Cory Booker and he's next.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump announcing tonight with a tweet of course that he is postponing his trip to Denmark after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that she has, quote, "no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland."

Joining me now is presidential candidate and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Senator, thank you so much. Listen, I want to start by asking you what you think about the president canceling his trip to Denmark because they won't discuss selling Greenland to us.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, as a member of the Senate foreign relations committee I can tell you that at this point that's absurd and, frankly, I don't care. It's the president distracting from so much of the other urgent things going on right now. And I just think this has all much to do about nothing when we have things that we should be talking about.

His administration fought to cut title 10 funding for Planned Parenthood all around the country. We have real issues like dealing with gun violence in this country and the president seems to be taking orders from the NRA and the corporate gun lobby and not Republicans who even agree on the need for background checks.

LEMON: Yes.

BOOKER: So, this an absurdity, it's ridiculous. It makes us I think look bad as a nation, but we've got real problems that we should be dealing and he's a master of destruction.

LEMON: Following two mass shootings President Trump vowed to push for expanding gun background checks, yet he has done nothing to move it forward. If the White House is taking cues from the NRA or gun reform, what will you do right to -- right now to stop this epidemic?

BOOKER: Well, right now we've got to understand that power can seize nothing without a demand. And this is something that we all share a common cause in whether you live in an inner city with as far too many shootings and murders on a daily basis or you are in communities that see the ravages of white supremacy and white wing extremism, that kind of terrorism knows no boundaries.

They're going after synagogues, they're going after churches, they're going after concert halls as well as a Wal-Mart. And this is the time that Americans have to understand that change historically does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington.

It wasn't a bunch of men in 1920 that got together and said hey, let's give them the right vote. Change in America comes from a demand, and we need not to let this be a time of impotent empathy where we don't feel enough pain for our brothers and sisters across this country that are suffering from the ravages of violence but we all begin to demand it Republican and Democrat.

This is a president who is not accepting responsibility for a crisis. In fact, he's contributing to it, and that's unacceptable so I'm going to fight, and it's one of the reasons I'm fighting so hard to be president because this is a problem we can solve.

[22:29:56] LEMON: Listen, another issue I know you've been very vocal about it and that is the detention of migrants especially children. An administration source is confirming that the administration is expected to announce a new regulation which would allow for the detention of migrant families longer than the current 20-day limit, families which are not released will be held at family residential centers run by ICE during the parents' immigration proceedings. What's your reaction to that, Senator?

BOOKER: It is cruelty and unnecessary. You know, there's data and it shows that having a family case management plan can get 100 percent compliance to families in cooperating with the legal process, showing up at 100 percent to all of the proceedings. This is the cruelty of putting children and families, nursing moms, expectant mothers, in conditions that are intolerable, unacceptable, and quite expensive to taxpayers.

And this is yet another example of Donald Trump in his moral vandalism, not only violating the human rights, the human dignity of migrant families, but also violating the values and common decency of this country.

LEMON: There's a new CNN poll out today, and the Vice President Joe Biden has the lead. His lead has jumped up 7 points since June followed by Senator Bernie Sanders at 15 percent, Senator Elizabeth Warren at 14 percent, you're at 2 percent. I just want you to listen to what Jill Biden said yesterday about electability, Senator, and then we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, healthcare than Joe is. But you've got to look at his (Inaudible) election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, OK. I sort of personally like so-and-so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So she said no matter how you feel about the other candidates and whatever you may not be all aboard with her husband, but he's the one that can beat. The bottom line has to be beating Donald Trump. So do you agree with that? And what is your plan also -- second part of the question, to break into the top tier of candidates for Democrats.

BOOKER: Well, first and foremost, that is kind of frightening advice to me. You know, Democrats, we shouldn't modulate our values or try to triangulate our policy positions based upon what some pundits say is electability. I know what electability is, and that is being able to excite and energize, to call to people's hearts and spirits. We need a movement election, and we need a movement leader.

And so I couldn't disagree more. This idea of electability, we know what his electability is, people that can energize our base, energize black and brown voters, suburban voters, rural voters. We need somebody that can really excite this party. And as far as polling right now, I think Joe Biden should be worried. Because in my lifetime, I don't think -- well before Carter, we haven't had a person who was leading in the polls this far-out who's ever gone on to be president from our party.

The people that usually go on are people that at this point are considered underdogs, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, all considered -- six months out from Iowa to be long shots at best. There's a lot of time left in this election and we are in a really good place, in fact, in Iowa...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do you have a plan or are you going to continue on as you're doing now?

BOOKER: Oh, our plan is actually working. What wins in Iowa, what we've seen with John Carey who was polling at four percent and went onto win Iowa, Barack Obama was considered the underdog, is organizations on the ground. We have more endorsements from -- like state legislators, for example, people in Iowa who know what wins and have a lot of intelligence about wanting to put their resources behind a winning candidate.

We have more endorsers than the top five pollers combined, because in Iowa people understand, not only is it my message, my heart, my grit, my ability to inspire crowds, motivating people to get on board our team. But even the Des Moines Register to other Iowa outlets say that I am either the one of the two top organizations. That's what wins in our early primary states. And we're going to keep battling that way on the ground. This is a retail fight when it comes to the early primary states.

LEMON: Senator Cory booker, always appreciate your time and your perspective. Thank you, sir.

BOOKER: No, thank you, man. It's really good to be on. I hope to see you again soon.

LEMON: The president is still attack-tweeting his former communications director. Why does Anthony Scaramucci get under his former boss' skin so much? Guess what? He's here. He's live, and I am going to ask him next.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump is not done lashing out at his former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, tweeting this morning that he was "just another former employee who got fired for gross incompetence." Remember only the best people, right? Well, here to discuss now is none other than Anthony Scaramucci.

Good to have you on. Thank you, sir.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: He said other things, too. But we can just with that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We'll go with that. There's enough to go around. SCARAMUCCI: After our conversation, there'll be a couple more. And

then, you know, I am sort of tired of responding to them because it's so sophomoric. And, you know, I feel like I am operating like the high school president who happens to also be the bully in the lunchroom cafeteria. I mean, I sort of find it comical.

LEMON: All right, well, let's talk about something else before we get (Inaudible). His trip to Denmark, right, he's saying that he's postponing it because the prime minister won't discuss purchasing Greenland. Aren't there other things to discuss especially with an ally?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, but it is broader context there. He wants to be the human wrecking ball for the grand alliance. He wants to destabilize everybody. He's such a narcissist. What he wants to do is say to all of our European allies and leaders of the free world around the world, he wants to say, well, I am now in charge now. And I'm just going to swing this wrecking ball any which way that I like to show you that I'm in power.

[22:40:04] And so as we said say here in New York, that's like a total spite job for no reason. I don't know enough about Greenland to think it was for sale or not for sale. But I would assume that it was never for sale, and so just the notion that he's putting that out there, he's doing three things to hurt the American society. Number one, he's embarrassing all of America in front of the world.

Number two, he's displaying the full-blown narcissism where he thinks he has some kind of uber power relative to the rest of the world. The United States is the most powerful country, still, has the most powerful military. But what made us so great was the benevolence of our culture and the benevolence of our society. Now, we have this human wrecking ball out there.

And the third thing, which is most important thing, is that each of us as Americans, we're sitting around saying OK, we like this, we like that. But, man, something really does not feel right, and it's him and so he's got to go.

LEMON: I want to talk about that because you, you know, have an op-ed in the Washington Post which I thought was fascinating, and I thought it was very honest. I am going to get to that in a minute. But also when you said that he's -- but he's the most person, it's also how you use that power and whether you have credibility with that power.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, his power is declining is every single day. See, what he doesn't understand is that he has a rate-limiting slope of power decline every single day. Because every time he opens his mouth, every time he sends out a tweet, what's happening is the rest of the world is reassembling itself around him. And so his America first strategy is going to leave America alone.

LEMON: He doesn't use his power wisely?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, no. It's actually -- to his detriment, to his detriment of the American society, to the American citizen, to the global citizen. Every time his mouth opens, he reduces American power around the world.

LEMON: So you try and -- listen, you've been saying you want a coalition of people around you to sort of -- to primary basically this president, right?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, he's going to get primaried. I mean, I am very confident that he'll be primaried. And no one's going to make those announcements until after Labor Day.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's a former Congressman, former Governor of South Carolina. So OK, and he's saying -- listen I want to go up against him, I am not sure he's going to decide on Labor Day -- by Labor Day if he's going to do it. But he said listen. I can't vote for a Democrat. I would vote Trump. How do you convince someone like that?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think the primary note is the conventional wisdom that if you go into a primary you're like a Republican crash dummy. But the president has a very tired script. It's a bullying script. He says the same thing about everybody. He didn't know this person. This person is a fat slob. It's tired now, you know? You're in your third or fourth season of it, and it's sort of very, very tired.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: In your last rally that it was -- he didn't have the same energy...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: He knows people hate him. So I mean, like, when he's in the rally, he's saying if you love me or you hate me, you're going to vote your 401(k), and you're going to vote for me. But the American people, they love their 401(k). I must that they don't. And maybe there's a group of them that love the 401(k) more than America. But they love to -- the majority of Americans are looking at this situation.

They're going to go to bed tonight. They're going to say is this right? The way he's handling himself -- let me step back. There are a lot of older Americans that don't look at Twitter, but ask one of your kids or grandkids to show you the president's Twitter feeds and say is this normal? I mean, he's attacking my wife. He attacked Ted Cruz's wife. Is that normal?

Cowards attack civilians. Cowards napalm civilians, OK? He's like a despicable coward, or to quote Ted Cruz, "he's a sniveling coward." And so he's going after civilians. So you have to stop and look...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: Bullies go after civilians and they go after weakness. You know, and so for me, you know, I grew up in a blue collar area so...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I got two things. You told David Axelrod that you're going to do a super pack, right?

SCARAMUCCI: We're in process of organizing that.

LEMON: To take on Trump. Do you think it's possible?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: Well, we have to make sure he loses in every swing state. And so what we have to do is bring a coalition of willing Republicans that know how diseased he is as a human being. And we have to bring it into those swing states to make sure he loses in every single swing state.

LEMON: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: I will lead that process and I'll put my own dough in...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I've got 30 seconds left, OK? You talked about how it took you so long. And you said to members of the resistance, please leave room in the off-ramp for those willing to admit their mistakes, my personal honesty took longer than it should have. But I'm not concerned with being on the right side of history. I am determined to ensure that good people are the ones who end up writing it.

SCARAMUCCI: Yeah, no. That's exactly right. No one is going to remember any of us, Don. And even President Trump, they're not going to remember. They'll probably remember Neil Armstrong from our era. That's about it.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: I think it's not an epiphany, because that's like sort of the road (Inaudible) this has been a gradual thing for me. And that I said, OK, the full-blown racism over this squad was ridiculous. And then after the Bill Maher Show, I turned to my wife. I said if he's a full-blown demagogue, I was 9/10 for him, 1/10 not for him. He's going to come at me hard. And when he does that, it's over for me. And I'm going to help him get defeated.

[22:45:13] LEMON: Thank you.

SCARAMUCCI: Here we are, man, OK?

LEMON: Appreciate it.

SCARAMUCCI: Yeah.

LEMON: See you next time.

SCARAMUCCI: Nice to be here.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump insisting today that the economy is strong and trying to dismiss fears that the country maybe heading toward a recession, but acknowledging that some tax cut options are under discussion, including a possible payroll tax cut. Here to discuss is former Republican Congressman, Charlie Dent, and Political Analyst, Kirsten Powers.

Good evening, to both of you.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.

[22:50:00] LEMON: Kirsten, President Trump says that he is eyeing a payroll tax cut after his staff denied this was even on the table. He says that we're -- he says we're far from a recession. We're not even close. So why do it now?

POWERS: Well, because we're not far from a recession. There was actually a recent survey where three out of four of the nation's top economists said that they're very concerned that we are headed for a recession, and they named the number-one cause of that Trump's trade war with China. So I think that this is something that economists have been concerned about for a while, even predating the trade war, frankly.

You know, there was a lot of talk around the tax cuts that this was supposed to radically transform our economy. But it really didn't. It did a lot for people at the top but not for the entire economy. So I think that the White House is obviously getting concerned, especially because there's nothing that can harm somebody running for reelection more than the economy going into a recession.

LEMON: Charlie, he's saying that the economy is great. At the same time, he's mulling moves that you don't do when everything is fine and dandy.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I think it's -- I think there's a bit of incoherence going on here, Don. As Kirsten said, I think most economists are expecting some kind of a slowdown in 2020. I am not saying a recession, but they've been anticipating a slower 2020 for some time. But to take a stimulus measure like cutting the payroll tax or demanding that the Fed lower interest rates, the economy is still reasonably good, although slower.

What do you do when we actually do hit a recession and if we take those steps now? I mean, what arrows will be left in the quiver? The Fed doesn't have too many other options other than lowering interest rates and providing greater liquidity. And if you're going to do the tax cut now, what do you do when we actually do hit that recession, which will come at some point sooner or later? LEMON: Kirsten, I want you to listen to what the president had to say

on China. This was today. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our country cannot continue to pay China $500 billion a year because stupid people are running it. So I don't mind this question. Whether it's good or bad short-term is irrelevant. We have to solve the problem with China because they're taking out $500 billion a year plus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He says short-term is irrelevant. Try telling that that to the farmers who are hurting right at this very moment.

POWERS: Right. Yeah, I mean, the short-term can be very harmful to the point of actually running people out of business, their, you know, their livelihoods, you know, family businesses often. So I think the short-term does matter. Sometimes, you do have to make tough decisions that can be, you know, a little harder in the short-term but you get a long-term payoff. The problem is I think a lot of people are wondering, like, what's the long-term payoff.

And what are we getting for this? What is the, you know, what is the benefit of what the president is doing? And a lot of people who are experts in this area say that what you really need is more of a multilateral approach, not the sort of go it alone trade war that he started.

LEMON: Can we talk about the president's attacks on the Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and the squad? Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You should see the things that the four of them have said about Israel over the last couple of years. I mean, Omar is a disaster for Jewish people. I can't imagine if she has any Jewish people in her district that they could possibly vote for her. But what Omar has said, what Tlaib has said, and then yesterday I noticed for the first time Tlaib with the tears. All of a sudden, she starts with tears, tears. And I don't buy it. I don't buy it. I don't buy it for a second.

LEMON: So Charlie, he wants to make these four congresswomen of color his opposition. But won't his true Democratic opposition be whoever emerges from the Democratic primary?

DENT: Well, of course, Don. Sure, the president, many Republicans, will try to make the squad the object of their attacks. But at the end of the day, the Democratic nominee for president is going to be the person with whom Donald Trump is going to have to contrast himself. I think the squad is going to be a bit of a sideshow. Just as Steve King will be a sideshow on the Republican side.

I mean, but bottom line is I think the president is wrong for trying to elevate them the way he has. I think he's making a mistake politically.

LEMON: Kirsten?

POWERS: Well, anybody noticed how the sideshows are always women? So it's Hillary Clinton who's the demon that's going to destroy your life. It's Nancy Pelosi who's the demon who's going to destroy your life. I mean, she -- how many times did the Republicans run, viciously attacking Nancy Pelosi, and now they've shifted over to these four women and tried to make them the demons that are coming to ruin your life.

[22:54:56] So there's something wrong on the Republican Party that they always have -- that they always demonize women, Democratic women, basically, you know, as being sort of out of control, right? And somehow sort of uniquely evil almost is the way that they talk about them and they exaggerate, you know, the way they talked about Nancy Pelosi for so long. It's been such a ridiculous exaggeration. But what's happening here is even worse because it's not just misogyny, it's also racism.

LEMON: Yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: That's why these women have been targeted the way they have, and the president doesn't care about Jewish people. I am sorry. If he did, he wouldn't have said the thing that he said today about basically calling Jews stupid and disloyal for not voting for him.

LEMON: Yes. I've got to run. That's got to be the last word. Thank you, both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)