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Trump Calls Jews Voting for Democrats Disloyal; Trump Calls Danish Prime Minister Nasty; Questioning President Trump's Support of Background Checks. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: It just makes -- I have so many questions about how they would have even learned about this song.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BALDWIN: So much. So much.

Sara Sidner, please stay on it.

SIDNER: They're educating themselves, but just they're not educating themselves about what this does to the Jewish community.

BALDWIN: Not properly, as Eva Schloss told you when you were in Newport Beach earlier in the spring.

(CROSSTALK)

SIDNER: Exactly. That's right.

BALDWIN: I was reading that piece yesterday. I know. I know.

(CROSSTALK)

SIDNER: Thirteen miles away, this happened in a similar situation with another kid doing a Nazi salute over a swastika at a party.

BALDWIN: I know.

SIDNER: So there's a problem here that needs to be looked at, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I'm glad we're covering it. I'm glad you're covering it.

SIDNER: Me too.

BALDWIN: Sara Sidner, thank you.

We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And I just want to begin this hour with this question that the president cannot seem to answer. Do you or do you not support stronger background checks?

Two weeks now, after 31 people died in back-to-back mass shootings in this country, we still don't know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, we have many, many people that are unable to buy guns right now. Many people are unable to buy guns. We have background checks.

But there are loopholes in the background checks. And that's what I spoke to the NRA about yesterday. They want to get rid of the loopholes as well as I do. At the same time, I don't want to take away people's Second Amendment rights. I don't want to take away the Constitution having to do with gun ownership.

And we can't let that slope go so easy that we're talking about background checks. Then, all of a sudden, we're talking about let's take everybody's gun away. People need weapons, unfortunately, for protection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Well, as he contemplates this crucial decision before Congress returns next month, his mind appears to be, well, elsewhere.

Just to recap the past 24 hours, this president of the United States snubs an ally because 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, all the while admitting he's concerned enough to consider another tax cut.

And then he makes a move to keep migrant families and their children detained for even longer, while refusing to give them flu shots, which brings me to today, where, after one phone call with the NRA, he agreed to move background checks off the table.

That is according to "Atlantic" magazine. And while this president hasn't taken any action in the wake of El Paso and those -- the Dayton mass shootings, local law enforcement has been extremely busy.

Did you know that police have reported 27 incidents where officials have thwarted plots or threats to carry out a mass shooting, three of them on Tuesday alone?

President Trump made a promise to my next guest. His son Justin survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida. And its wake, he was invited to the White House to talk about possible solutions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN GRUBER, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace. There needs to be significant change in this country, because this has to never happen again. CARY GRUBER, FATHER: And Justin was texting me hiding in a closet,

saying: "If something happens, I love you. If something happens, I love you."

And you can't imagine what that's like as a parent. And then his phone died. And I didn't know what happened for another hour. So -- so 17 lives are gone. I was lucky enough to get my son home, but 17 families -- it's not left and right. It's not political. It's a human issue. People are dying. And we have to stop this. We have to stop it.

If he's not old enough to buy a drink, to go and buy a beer, he should not be able to buy a gun at 18 years old. I mean, that's just common sense. We have to do common sense. Please, Mr. Trump, these are things we have to do.

TRUMP: We want to learn everything we can learn. And we're going to go -- starting about two minutes after this meeting, we're going to work, because this is a long-term situation that we have to solve. We will solve it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: What a moment that was.

That father in that clip, Cary Gruber is with me now.

So, Cary, thank you so much for coming on today.

And, I mean, just watching you all these months later, you in the room, your son was sitting next to Mike Pence. They made these promises to your face. Why do you think this president hasn't followed through?

C. GRUBER: I mean, I think that he is just beholden to the NRA and to his base.

I mean, I think it's political. I think it's -- yes, we were in that room, and I really wanted to believe him that day. It was powerful being there. And I really wanted to think change could happen, especially feeling it so close, because we live here and experienced it.

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But you know, as we see time and time again, after El Paso and Dayton just most recently, but it seems to happen that, almost every two weeks, there's another shooting and there's another murder. There's so many murders every day.

And then he says that something will be done. He said that there's a great appetite for background checks now, we're going to really do something, Mitch McConnell, blah, blah, blah.

And it's just talk. And it's just talk. BALDWIN: Let's talk about the blah, blah, blah, because the blah,

blah, blah really, really matters. His whole message on background checks has been anything but clear.

And you brought up in El Paso and Dayton. Let me just play some of what he said in the wake of those mass shootings and then what he just said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a slippery slope. They think you approve one thing and that leads to a lot of bad things. I don't agree with that.

I think we can do meaningful, very meaningful background checks.

I'm 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 or we want -- and it's a slippery slope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, Cary, those two words slippery slope, like, those exact words, that is a mainstay of the NRA.

First, he says he doesn't agree with it. Then he parrots that same logic today in the same breath as saying that he has an appetite for background checks. And we know that he has had at least two phone calls with Wayne LaPierre. He's the head of the NRA.

And with all these deaths since Parkland and all the cries for gun control and change, why do you think the voices of the NRA still have so much power over this president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?

C. GRUBER: I think -- I think it's all political. It's all -- it's his base, and he's talking to his base and the election is coming up.

And if he doesn't have the NRA in his pockets and behind him with that base, I think, if he flips to the other side, and all of a sudden gives into background checks -- meanwhile, universal background checks, 90 percent of NRA members agree with it.

So it's not like he's caving in. Universal background checks should happen, the red flag laws. Banning assault weapons should happen. I could see where he might not try to do that because that might look like he's caving in, and then everybody's going to be afraid for their guns.

But this is not about Second Amendment. In Florida, they raised the age to 21. Governor Scott helped help to do that. So that was great. That should be around the country.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: That's something. If you can't drink -- I know. We heard you from the White House. And I know that's one of your solutions now.

And I have also heard you say that God forbid something happens to the child of one of these Republican lawmakers. I remember when I was in Dayton covering the mass shooting there and we were all reporting on how Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who actually had an A rating from the NRA, had a daughter who was in that Oregon district the night that that man killed all those people.

C. GRUBER: Right.

BALDWIN: And so now he supports a ban on military style weapons.

C. GRUBER: Exactly. Exactly.

BALDWIN: But, Cary, no one wishes that on anyone, right, left, right or center.

C. GRUBER: Of course.

No one wants anybody -- no one wants more innocent people die or any anybody to die, obviously. But, unfortunately, the way we live and the world we live in, if it doesn't hit home to a lot of these Republicans, the president, if the president knew someone or had a family member or someone related that, God forbid, something like this happened to them, it would hit them, hopefully, hopefully, at their core and move them to do something.

Right now, the president is far away in the White House from all these different shootings. And he has to say the prayers and condolences, but it doesn't do anything unless you do action. We need action. We need someone that will take action.

You have Biden, not -- a lot of people may not love him, but you know what? He's for banning assault weapons. He's for gun control. And most of the Democrats are. And for a lot of us in Parkland -- for me, it's a one-issue election.

BALDWIN: I want to end the conversation just listening to you again at the White House talking about safety and peace and how you were texting with him from -- as he was hiding in a closet.

C. GRUBER: It was horrible.

BALDWIN: And a year-and-a-half -- a year-and-a-half later, when the 15th shooting of the year, the 16th shooting of the year being El Paso and Dayton happened, what conversations do you have with your child?

C. GRUBER: It's funny you say that because we just -- he hasn't wanted to discuss it, and he kind of blocked it in his mind. That's the way he lives with it now because it's too powerful and too upsetting.

But we just had the conversation two nights ago at the dinner table and we talked about the whole thing going down again, how he was texting me, how I didn't know and he was hiding in the cause and the whole -- the whole fear of everything. And it brought chills to me. It made me angry again. It made me -- it brought it all back. It brought it all back. And I'm sure it does. And think of all the 17 victims here in Parkland. They all are gone. So they can't even have this conversation with their kid.

And now all these other new -- the new deaths and the new murders out there. So it's aggravating. And the people that sit up there, like Mitch McConnell, I mean, how do they not have a heart and a sense of mind to do the right thing just on these little things, like universal background checks and red flag and banning assault weapons?

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No one needs to have an assault weapon. I mean, why do you need an assault weapon? That's for murdering people, murdering.

So these are -- I just don't understand people. I just can't get my hands around it. And until we change the administration, until we change the politicians, and until we get people that think like- mindedly with their heart and common sense, things are not going to change, apparently, which is upsetting.

BALDWIN: Cary Gruber, thank you so much for just using your voice and for coming on and speaking with me about all of this. Thank you very much.

C. GRUBER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Now to this, the president doubling down on an anti-Semitic trope involving Jewish Americans and loyalty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Democrats have gone very far away from Israel. I cannot understand how they can do that. They don't want to fund Israel. They want to take away foreign aid to Israel. They want to do a lot of bad things to Israel.

In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you're being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, just to recap, the president of the United States claims that Jewish Americans who choose to vote for Democrats either aren't smart or can't be trusted or are being disloyal to Israel or are being weak.

This is not the first time this president has openly dabbled in anti- Semitism. It's been two years since white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, chanting "Jews will not replace us."

Nevertheless, President Trump insisted that there were -- quote -- "good people on both sides."

And in the final video ad for his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump denounced the political establishment with these words and images:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don't have your good in mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And some of the faces you just saw included Democratic Party supporter George Soros, the then chair the Fed, Janet Yellen. Both are Jewish.

And then there were these remarks made to the Republican Jewish Coalition back in 2015:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You're not going to support me because I don't want your money. That's why you don't want to give me money, OK? But that's OK. You want to control your own politician? That's fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Joining me with more, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

And, Gloria, I mean, this duel loyalty claim, basically, he's equating being Jewish with being loyal to Israel, which isn't the same thing.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, of course not. It's ridiculous. It's a trope.

And what does being loyal to Israel mean, actually? Does it mean being loyal to Bibi Netanyahu, with whom he is very close? Because you can be loyal to Israel and you can disagree politically with Netanyahu, of course.

So you can say that it's anti-Semitic. You can say that Donald Trump is also a racist for all the other things he said.

I believe, Brooke, more than anything else, and maybe in addition to those things, Donald Trump is an opportunist.

And what he's trying to do more than anything with all of this garbage, which is exactly what it is, what he's trying to do is gather his base, or tell those conservative Jews who may be wavering, look, you can't vote for those Democrats. Look who they like. Look who's running their party, right? Look at the Squad, for example.

So this is all opportunism. This is all about trying to get as many votes as he can. So they're not mutually exclusive. You can be anti- Semitic and an opportunist or racist and an opportunist, and it may be all of the above.

BALDWIN: OK, so, opportunistic. I hear you on that. BORGER: Totally.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you about this new CNN poll showing Trump's approval rating at 40 percent. The only president who polled lower at this same point in his presidency was Jimmy Carter. That was back in '79.

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: What do you think is behind the drop?

BORGER: I think Donald Trump's outrage is -- I will put it that way. His outbursts are behind the drops in a lot of ways.

I think the public is exhausted by Donald Trump, truly and completely exhausted by him. I do believe, obviously, if you look at our poll, that while the economy is the number he does the best on, 50 percent believe he's doing a good job on the economy, that is down.

But when you look at a number like race relations, I'm looking at it, it's 32 percent believe he's doing good job on race relations. No surprise there. Gun policy, 36 percent. Foreign affairs, 40 percent.

[15:15:07]

So, all those numbers are coming down. And I think you put those all in a pile, and then on top of it, you put the public exhaustion with 21 tweets before breakfast, as it was the other day, the president talking about Jews the way he's talking about Jews, the president talking about race the way he's talking about race.

And I think the public is just saying, enough. Now, that could change. We always have to say, this is early, but there's been a lot of this churning lately. And I think the public is just getting tired of it.

BALDWIN: Well, they get to make up their minds next November, right?

BORGER: They do.

And you know what? You don't vote in a vacuum. So you vote for or against Donald Trump, depending who he is running against. And that's a big part of the equation, as we all know.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

BORGER: Sure.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: President Trump calls the prime minister of Denmark nasty, even though he's the one who started this feud with her over buying Greenland and then canceled a trip there.

I will be joined live by someone who says the president has just crossed an important line.

And in the midst of his insults against Denmark, President Trump is doubling down on the idea of getting that G8 back together -- why he says Russia should be part of the group again, despite repeated violations of international law.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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BALDWIN: Well, President Trump has used the term nasty in reference to yet another woman today.

In this instance, it is the prime minister of a foreign ally, specifically Denmark, a nation he abruptly canceled on via tweet. So President Trump slammed its leader, Mette Frederiksen, after she rejected the president's idea to buy Greenland, telling Greenland, this newspaper, that the conversations are -- quote -- "an absurd discussion."

And this was what the president said just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Denmark, I looked forward to going, but I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that was -- that it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But, if anything, the prime minister has been far nicer than nasty to President Trump since he tweeted less than 24 hours ago that he was bailing on her nation for her comments that -- quote -- "She would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland."

The prime minister's public response showed no hard feelings. Note, this was before Trump called her comments nasty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

METTE FREDERIKSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Thomas Wright is the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

So, Thomas, good to see you, sir. Welcome.

THOMAS WRIGHT, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I talked to a member of the Danish Parliament last hour and, of course, asked him for his response on all of this. And he said the whole thing was just really surreal and insulting to the people of Denmark. What's your reaction?

WRIGHT: Yes, I think it is that.

I mean, Denmark's been an incredibly close ally of the United States. And they're -- they participated in the Iraq War and the Afghanistan war. They suffered casualties, over, I think, 50 fatalities in those wars.

They very early, early involved in the kind counter-ISIL coalition in Western Iraq. And they have been really stalwart allies in a variety of other fronts. So I think it is sort of an insult to the alliance and to those Danish soldiers who fought alongside of the U.S.

But I think it's also broader than that, because I think the president yesterday, canceling the visit, did really cross a Rubicon, a very dangerous line in terms of his policy towards Europe.

BALDWIN: So then what happens as a result?

WRIGHT: Well, I think what Trump did was, he went from making sort of an unusual and maybe crazy offer to buy Greenland, which everyone can laugh about and say that is sort of ridiculous, or people can say it's sort of reasonable because Truman offered to do it, but he went from that to then sort of using leverage and imposing costs on Denmark because they opposed what he wanted.

So he tried to impose diplomatic costs. Today, he started talking about Danish defense spending. This really is something of a quite different character, is trying to use American power to push Denmark around, to try to revise the territorial agreements of Europe.

And I think that is actually a very serious thing. And that's something that we see far more frequently from China, Russia, and others. It's not something we have really ever seen in modern times from the United States, and it's not something we should expect from the president.

BALDWIN: What do you make of President Obama actually going to Denmark next month?

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WRIGHT: Yes, that has been raised as a possible reason why Trump canceled his visit, because he didn't want to be compared with Obama.

I don't know if that is his inner thinking or not, but, obviously, President Obama, I think, is more popular in Denmark than President Trump. And he definitely will be after yesterday.

But the bigger sort of point here is really about sort of the future of sort of U.S. interests in Europe, and it's that the U.S. has an interest in a Europe that is stable and peaceful, and that -- and that continues to abide by sort of the post-war Cold War sort of agreements on the European order, which the very fundamental premise of which is acceptance of territorial boundaries, and also accepting that Greenland belongs to the people of Greenland.

That is their relationship with the kingdom of Denmark, and it's not even in the gift of the Danes to sell even if they wanted to.

BALDWIN: Sure.

Thank you for pointing that out. And I hear you, the fact that he has just crossed this massive, massive line by doing this and canceling.

Tom Wright, thank you very much for coming on, providing your expertise. Appreciate you.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next: Russia has invaded Crimea and attacked our elections, but still President Trump says Vladimir Putin should join the G8 again.

We will have the backstory on where this idea may have actually come from.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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