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Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer Was Denied Meeting With Donald Trump On Gun Safety; President Trump Calls The Female Prime Minister Of Denmark "Nasty" After She Called His Idea To Buy Greenland Absurd; President Trump Lets Loose On The White House Lawn In A Head- Spinning Press Conference. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Pastor Chris Harris, thank you so much for joining us, and that is it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you so much. Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin, you're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me. Just in the last 24 hours, the President of the United States snubs an ally because, well, they won't sell Greenland.

He praises an adversary calling for Russia to return to the G8. He endorses a tweet calling himself the King of Israel, and the second coming of God after enraging Jewish leaders with a trope about loyalty.

He blames the media and the Fed for trying to create a recession despite all the warnings and all the while admitting he is concerned enough to consider another tax cut.

He did make some move to keep migrant families and kids detained for even longer while refusing to give them flu shots. And just two weeks after the massacres in El Paso and Dayton where 31 people died, he has one phone call, one phone call with the NRA, and he backs off, quote unquote, "meaningful background checks."

"Atlantic" magazine reporting that he told the NRA they were off the table. But as he left the White House today, the President could not send a clear message on this incredibly urgent issue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks. We're working with Democrats. We're working with Republicans. We already have very strong background checks, but we're going to be filling in some of the loopholes as we call them.

We're dealing with Democrats. We're dealing with Republicans. We're dealing with the NRA. We're dealing with gun owners. We're dealing with everybody. And I think we're going to have something hopefully that's meaningful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Sarah Westwood is in Louisville, Kentucky where the

President will soon address a veterans convention there. So Sarah, just on this issue of guns, are we any closer in an understanding what's actually being discussed on gun reform at the White House?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, we're seeing all sorts of signals out of the White House. As you just heard, we heard President Trump earlier today denying that he has abandoned his push for expanded background checks. But sources do tell CNN that behind the scenes, President Trump has started to cool to the idea which he voiced frequent support for in the immediate aftermath of those two mass shootings earlier this year.

But that shift, sources tell CNN came after a sustained effort from the NRA, from conservative lawmakers, from aides and allies to try to get the President to change his mind about supporting expanded background checks.

Now, of course, it is being told by his aides that this is a policy if he supported it, that could score him few political points, but that could actually hurt him with his own supporters. And we sort of heard him express that sentiment to reporters, as he was leaving the White House to come here to Kentucky, he said that he was concerned Democrats would not be satisfied no matter what policy he supported. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I am concerned that no matter what we agree to, when we get there, I'm concerned, the Democrats will say, "Oh, well, we now want this and we want ..." And you know, it's a slippery slope. And that's what actually your gun owners and a lot of other people are concerned with.

But assuming that that's not going to take place by the Democrats, assuming they really want to get this done, we can get it done.


WESTWOOD: Now, despite all these signals that President Trump has been backing off his push for expanding background checks, the White House has been denying that this idea is off the table. But keep in mind that in February, the White House did issue a veto threat to background check legislation that was passed by House Democrats.

But the view among Trump allies right now, Brooke seems to be that red flag laws, which already exists in some states is the more doable option in the short term, and that Brooke, is something that President Trump, at least for the moment still appears to support.

BALDWIN: All right, Sarah, thank you very much. You know, in the aftermath of El Paso and Dayton becoming the 15th and 16th mass shootings in 2019, millions of children headed back to school this week and their parents pray they will not be the next and who can blame them. Because in the two weeks that followed those shootings, police have

reported 27 incidents where officials have thwarted plots or threats to carry out a mass shooting. There were three arrests. On Tuesday alone, in Florida, a 15-year-old taken into custody for threatening to shoot up his school in a video game chat room. Police body cam captured the confrontation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a comment, so how is there an arrest --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is Florida state statute that says you cannot make a written threat to cause a mass shooting. "I, Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my father's M-15 to school until seven people at a minimum."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he is just a little kid playing a video game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all of these kids keep getting arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're still far --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what the FBI and the local law enforcement is spending time because how do we know he is not going to be the kid in Parkland.


[14:05:00] BALDWIN: He is just a little kid playing a video game. That's what his mom says. The teen's arrest seems to fit into a pattern of the ages police have released. Most of them are between 14 to 38 years of age. They are majority white males and 18 out of the 27 threats were made on social media.

Some of the biggest target -- schools, Walmart's and churches or places of worship. And my next guest actually requested a meeting with the President to talk about solutions to these mass shooting threats while the President is in Kentucky today. That meeting was declined. The Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer is with me now. Mayor Fisher is currently the Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mr. Mayor, welcome, sir.

GREG FISCHER (D), MAYOR OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: So on this meeting, and in fairness, it was a last minute meeting request.


BALDWIN: But why were you told it couldn't be accommodated?

FISCHER: Well, look, it is last minute. The President is a busy person, we get that. All the mayors of America will be in Washington in early September, and we trust you he'll meet with us then.

But you know, the big issue right now is the President does not need to be afraid. Gun safety reform is mainstream. The vast majority of Americans agree with that. And now, NRA members, and of course, an assault rifle ban as well. So all of these things are on the table and Americans are just tired.

This morning, a lady was telling me that now, you can buy a bulletproof backpack, bulletproof vest combination, so your child can wear that to school. I mean, is that what our country has come down to?

And Americans say no, it's not. So we just need some courage from the U.S. Senate, some cover from the President that will call on the Senate to pass at least these background checks that the House has passed. That's just a start.

America doesn't really want incremental reform on this. We want breakthrough reform, so we can go to church, so we can go to a ball game, so we can go to a club, and not be worried about being gunned down and being the next massacre in this country.

BALDWIN: But until that happens, and yes, those bulletproof backpacks are a reality now. So if you had had that meeting, or when you're in Washington and get in front of the President, what do you say to him?

FISCHER: It's a time for statesmanship. I mean, this is a historical time in our country that will be marked one way or the other, and for the person that steps up and brings back some common sense to gun safety, the history books will mark that person with a gold star and saying they did the right thing at the right time.

So this is not a partisan issue -- 264 Mayors -- Republicans, Democrats, independents have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate saying, "Please pass gun reform." So this is much bigger than any political party. It's an American issue. It's a uniquely American issue, but it's a human issue. We're looking for leadership here.

BALDWIN: But it does appear to be partisan. I mean, this President is a Republican, the Senate Majority Leader who hails from your state, Mitch McConnell, who has some bills from the House he is yet to sign, he is a Republican. This is you know, you talk about how he is afraid the NRA, I mean, so much of this is political.

FISCHER: Well, it is, but when you're holding the hand of a mother, or a daughter whose father was just gunned down, they're not asking whether it's a political issue or not. The life of their loved one has just been drained away from them. And that's why we need someone to look beyond party, be a statesperson at this point in time in saying, "This is bigger than I me." So yes, we're stuck.

Mayors aren't stuck. Mayors get things done every day and Washington is behind America on this issue, and they need to catch up.

BALDWIN: After Parkland, the President promises that his administration will do more than just talk, you know, and then doesn't make good on any of that. Dayton and El Paso happened. He talks about making good on background checks, reportedly, reneges after talking to Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA.

And you know, now he is basically standing at the White House today saying, "Well, I do have an appetite for background checks." I'm just wondering, how can anyone believe him? Can you believe him?

FISCHER: Well, the question has to be -- well, the question has to be repeatedly called. Moms aren't going away, students aren't going away, Mayors aren't going away. And it has to be called, so votes can be taken, whether or not we get a green light from the President or not, so people understand what's in their hearts, what's in their minds, and then, in this great democracy, voting takes place.

And this is increasingly becoming an issue that's going to be driving people out to the polls, especially young people. We see what the young leaders from Parkland did today. Ultimately, that's where the decision is going to be made.

And for those people in office right now, you have the American people with you. Have the courage to get over whatever any special interest groups are. They're driving this in Washington, D.C., and listen to your constituents. America needs you right now.

BALDWIN: I read, you know, the letter where you quoted Muhammad Ali and talking about making the impossible possible in so much of these issues, the majority of America is behind you. So Mayor Greg Fischer, best of luck to you in meeting with the President a little later on this year. Thank you, sir.

FISCHER: All right. We're going to keep at it and the Mayors of America will as well. Thank you.

[14:10:07] BALDWIN: Appreciate you. President Trump calls the female Prime Minister of Denmark "nasty" after she called his idea to buy Greenland absurd, but it was never for sale and he is the one who canceled his trip there.

Plus, it is not the first time President Trump's words have been called anti-Semitic, and now he is doubling down on an old trope, accusing American Jews who don't vote for him of being disloyal.

And the President's new rule on immigration that could keep families in detention indefinitely. Got a lot to talk about today. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:15:32] BALDWIN: Well, President Trump has used the term "nasty" in reference to yet another woman. This time, it is the Prime Minister of a foreign ally, specifically Denmark, a nation he abruptly canceled on via tweet, President Trump slammed its leader made to Frederiksen after she rejected the President's idea to purchase Greenland.

She reportedly said that the conversations are quote "an absurd discussion." Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. Here was President Trump just a short time ago.


TRUMP: I looked forward to going, but I thought that the Prime Minister's statement that it was absurd -- that it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say no, we wouldn't be interested. But we can't treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama.

I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something. They could have told me no. This is something that's been discussed for many years. Harry Truman had the idea of Greenland. I had the idea, other people have had the idea.

All they had to do is say, "No, we'd rather not do that." Or "We'd rather not talk about it." Don't say what an absurd idea that is.

She shouldn't treat the United States that way by saying what an -- she said, "absurd." That's not the right word to use, "absurd."


BALDWIN: Well, if anything, the Prime Minister has been more nice than nasty to the President since he tweeted less than 24 hours ago that he was bailing on her nation 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."

Well, here's the Prime Minister's response and this is before the President called her comments nasty.


METTE FREDERIKSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: It is with regret and surprise that I received the news that President Trump has canceled his state visit. I had been looking forward to this. This does not change the character of our good relations. And we will of course, from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. on how we can develop our cooperation.


BALDWIN: Joining me now is a member of the Liberal Party in the Danish Parliament, Michael Aastrup Jensen. He is also the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

So Mr. Jensen, thank you so much for being on with me, and I just set it all up. You heard the President call her nasty, et cetera, your response?

MICHAEL AASTRUP JENSEN, MEMBER OF LIBERAL PARTY IN DANISH PARLIAMENT: Well, I think it has been some very surreal days for Denmark and U.S. relations, and now, this is just a tip of the iceberg.

To state quite clearly that this was absurd was actually the top of mind for every Dane. So the Prime Minister spoke for the entire nation.

BALDWIN: Everyone thinks it is absurd.

JENSEN: Absolutely. And the whole idea that we could actually sell Greenland, which has been a part of the Kingdom of Denmark for so many years, but it's also on the home rule, meaning that the 55,000 people who live in Greenland actually can decide on their own who they want to be part of or not.

So the whole idea was surreal and absurd to start with, and then to cancel a visit to a very close friend and ally is so strange to us. That is actually being perceived by everyone as a grave insult to a friend.

BALDWIN: Let's just -- reminding everyone, you don't need reminding, but just for people in America maybe listening and wondering why this is such an insult and how much of an ally because Denmark is such an ally to the U.S.

Denmark has sent troops to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Syria, to Kosovo, to Mali; 43 Danes were killed in Afghanistan, seven in Iraq, and Denmark is a founding member of NATO. You say this is insulting, how damaging is this to the Danish-U.S. relationship?

JENSEN: Well, we've had strong ties with the U.S. before President Trump and we will also have strong ties with U.S. after President Trump leaves office. But let's be frank here, the whole way that President Trump is behaving is costing the relationship somewhat, but I hope it won't damage it in the future.

So what we will try to do from the Danish side is actually just have good relations with the country of the U.S. as a whole. Trying to, you know, see if we can strengthen our ties with Congress, with the administration in general, with the Secretary of State and so on.

[14:20:08] JENSEN: But President Trump apparently lacks any diplomatic skills whatsoever, and we have to take that into account.

BALDWIN: Also taking into account the backdrop of this, we were listening to the President 24 hours ago expressing his support for reinstating Russia into what is now the G7, what would become the G8 if they are included. So what does it say to you that the President appears to be treating Russia and Vladimir Putin better than your people in Denmark?

JENSEN: Well, every day I say to myself that President Trump cannot get any stranger than yesterday. But he always succeeds somehow.

Russia is a great threat to the stability in Europe and in the West in general, and after they annexed one of -- a part of one of our friend country, Ukraine, we, in the entire Europe -- Western side of Europe -- have seen Russia being more and more aggressive against us. So to see the President Trump apparently trying to be more friends

with Putin than with us, is saddened to say the least.

BALDWIN: One more question for you, sir. And that is we have just learned that in the midst of all of this that President Obama will be traveling to Denmark next month, and presumably, as a former, you know, U.S. President, this trip has been in the works for a while, but the announcement coming right now. What do you make of that?

JENSEN: Well, President Trump -- sorry, President Obama is a very great friend of Denmark as has been in the entire presidency. And there is no question that in the population as a whole, President Obama is still being perceived as a close friend, so he will get a very, very warm welcome.

BALDWIN: Michael Aastrup Jensen, thank you so much, from Denmark. Nice to have you on.

JENSEN: Thank you. You're welcome.

BALDWIN: The Trump administration makes a move that could keep migrant families in detention even longer. What's behind this latest plan that could make the overcrowding problem even worse?

And more White House whiplash, President Trump's ever changing thoughts on a recession and the payroll tax cut. We'll be right back.


[14:26:40] BALDWIN: President Trump letting loose on the White House lawn in a head spinning press conference. He backtracked on a payroll tax cut just 24 hours after saying he was considering them, he doubled down on insulting Jewish people saying only weak people would disagree with his belief that voting for Democrats makes them disloyal to Israel.

And speaking of tropes, he has resurrected the nasty woman title, this time applied it to the Prime Minister of Denmark. And this -- the day after the NRA apparently pushed him to scrap a plan for background checks. Discussion about that is on again, although no actual policy was mentioned.


TRUMP: We can close up the gaps. We could do things that are very good and things that, frankly, gun owners want to have done. But we also have to remember, the gun doesn't pull the trigger, a person does, and we have great mental illness.


BALDWIN: No specific though. Joining me now, CNN Contributor Michael D' Antonio, author of, "The Truth about Trump."

And Michael, that was just a sliver of all the President went through today. I mean, it was a lot, even for this President. What do you think is

really going on?

MICHAEL D' ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he is very concerned about the 2020 election. He has concepts like weakness and strength in his mind at all times, and when he backed away from background checks, and it appeared that the NRA was pushing him around, many people observed the President's own weakness.

And so today, he is going to use that term, but he is going to throw it at somebody else. The same is true when he uses words like "nasty" to talk about other people. It's really something that he knows is true about himself. And even this whole thing about "we have tremendous mental illness," well, I think we see mental illness displayed in the Oval Office, on the White House lawn on a regular basis.

So he is hinting at things that are real and that are serious, but he is sort of flipping them and putting them on other people.

BALDWIN: He also, you know, on the same day, he doubles down on his dual loyalty claim. He retweets a tweet where he is saying, "I am the king of Israel," and then refers to himself there on the lawn, saying, I am the chosen in one in terms of taking on China.

And listen, we know that this man has a healthy ego. But this feels different.

D' ANTONIO: Well, it is different. And you know, you could also say he has a very unhealthy ego that it is wounded in some way that requires him to constantly build himself up.

You know, he is aware that evangelical Americans, especially conservative evangelicals who support him are fixated on Israel. They used to actually be very anti-Israel. They used to be very critical of Israel in all respects. Now they identify with Israel, and they think of themselves as almost the fulfillment of God's plan and that Israel is essential to it.

So he is throwing out these notions, you know, that I am chosen, you know, well, the Jews are considered the chosen people. And when he talks about being the King or someone else talks about him being the Second Coming, well, that sort of mixes up terms that have nothing to do with Judaism.