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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Trump Lashes Out, Cancels Denmark Trip And Calls MP "Very Nasty" After Being Told Buying Greenland Would Be "Absurd"; Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) Is Interviewed About The President Calling The Prime Minister Of Denmark "Nasty"; Trump Declares "I Am The Chosen One"; Trump Defends Plan To Detain Migrant Children And Their Families Indefinitely: "I Have The Children On My Mind". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: ... demonstrations demanding full democracy and police accountability in Hong Kong. The most recent protest drew 1.7 million people. I'm Brianna Keilar and Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, tone-deaf. The President lashing out at Denmark's Prime Minister calling her comments nasty after she said Greenland is not for sale. Plus, President Trump feeds his ego declaring now he's the chosen one and he didn't stop there. And a California man accused of plotting to commit mass murder at a hotel and his arrest part of a disturbing new trend. Let's go out front.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's thin skin. The President definitely not letting the whole buy Greenland thing go. After abruptly canceling his visit to Copenhagen via Twitter, the President stepped up his attacks on the Danish Prime Minister, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Denmark, I look forward to going but I thought that the Prime Minister's statement that it was absurd, that was it was an absurd idea, it was nasty, I thought it was inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say, "No, we wouldn't be interested."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: The president referring to yet another woman as nasty. It's a word he's often used when describing women that he disagrees with or who simply call them out. Denmark's Prime Minister responded to the President's attack saying this.

"I don't think I have been blunt or harsh in this discussion, in fact, I think we have answered in a nice tone from our Danish side."

That tone she's talking about was her previous reaction to Trump wanting to buy Greenland when she called it, she said it was an absurd discussion and she also said this. "Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously." That is nasty, apparently, not by most standards.

It is a blow though to the President who likes to claim he's the ultimate dealmaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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, because he's not talking to me. Excuse me, she's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way at least under me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Don't talk to him or the United States that way. Let's be clear, the President of the United States has been called much worse. Remember dotard? North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in an official statement back in 2017 saying, "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

And how did the President respond to that insult? He didn't cancel the trip. No, not at all. He met with Kim three times and even sent him love letters. Or, how about Russia? It threatened to, quote, precise and painful response to new U.S. sanctions. Apparently, that is not nasty at all because Trump's now cozying up yet again to President Putin.

But saying no to selling an island to the President of the United States according to Trump, that is nasty. So where does this go from here? Denmark's Prime Minister said this today. "I hope we can stop the discussion, from a Danish perspective we definitely want to do that, so we can focus our energy on what is important." And here's what the former Danish Foreign Minister told me today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN LIDEGAARD, FORMER DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER: But I hope that tomorrow both the President, the American people and Denmark will look forward and see that we have so many things to do in the Arctic region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: They are clearly ready to turn the page on this. I'll leave it up to you to decide if you think the President is ready to move on as well. But if history is any indication, do not count on it. And whatever you do, don't call the President thin skinned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: First of all, I don't have thin skin. I have very strong and very thick skin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: We couldn't help ourselves. Boris Sanchez is out front at the White House for us. Boris, are there any indications that President Trump is ready and willing to let this dispute go?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Kate. In fact, shortly after those statements that you just played from President Trump this afternoon at the White House, he tweeted critically about Denmark's spending on defense in relation to its NATO commitments. It's unclear exactly where the President got the idea that Greenland was for sale, but he's clearly taken this to heart canceling his trip to Denmark altogether.

A noted shift today from what we saw last night on Twitter where he actually thanked the Danish Prime Minister for being candid and for saving the United States money on travel. The President, as you pointed out, is a frequent critic of the United States allies, often its closest allies. As you know, Denmark, very supportive of the United States foreign policy, sending troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. But this is a lens into the President's thinking on politics and specifically foreign policy.

[19:05:02] To him, this is all personal. He's nice to people like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un when they say nice things about him. When the Danish Prime Minister expresses a form of disbelief and that the United States would try to buy Greenland even though there was no indication that it was for sale, he calls her a nasty woman. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thanks, Boris. Appreciate it. Out right now, Democratic Congressman from Michigan, Andy Levin. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thank you for being here.

REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): Hey, Kate. It's good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. What do you make of the President of the United States calling the leader of another country, a NATO ally no less nasty today?

LEVIN: Well, it's another example of the President's sexism and it's also dissing a good ally for no reason. Greenland was not for sale. Imagine if another country said, "Well, we'll buy Florida now." And the President said, "Florida is not for sale, excuse me." And they got all mad about it. It's really ridiculous.

BOLDUAN: I have heard over and over that no matter how ridiculous, the strong alliance between the United States and Denmark will endure this episode if you want to call it that. Do you think though that this is doing damage?

LEVIN: Yes, it's doing damage. We have to take this seriously as absurd as the President's behavior is, he makes us a laughingstock of the world when he makes these absurd claims. And when he cancels trips to allies to visit an ally, at the same time that he's wanting to allow Russia back into the G7 simply because of whatever way he's beholden to Vladimir Putin.

That in terms of American foreign policy, we have an adversary that violated the rule of law, invaded another country, an ally of ours, and annexed a significant part of it and he's ready to let that go without conditions. That is extremely disturbing. And if I were a U.S. ally, I would be very mistrustful of our government because how do you deal with someone who behaves like Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Well, I do want to ask you about that and let me play for our viewers what the President said about it today, because he didn't only double down on his criticism of the Danish Prime Minister and his attack against her, he also double down on what you're talking about. Now he wants to invite - offering a support for Vladimir Putin and wanting to invite Russia back in to the G7. Here's how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He made a living on outsmarting President Obama. And frankly, because of it Obama was upset and he got Obama out of what was the G8 into the G7. I think Russia should be a part of it, because we're looking for world peace and other things, trade and other things and it would be a lot easier to have Russia in where they had always been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: What does this say to you about President Trump's approach to diplomacy?

LEVIN: It says that we have a President who has less understanding of foreign policy than any other in our modern history. Here he is accusing his predecessor of being thin skin and having his ego bruised and therefore acting against Russia on the very day that he withdraws from a trip to an ally because they told him that a significant part of their territory is not for sale.

He personalizes everything and everything is about Donald J. Trump and his ego. We have to take the invasion of Ukraine seriously. It has to have consequences and we cannot allow any country to be running around invading its neighbors and taking over its territory and then say, "Oh, well, let bygones be bygones. You're back in the G8."

The very, perhaps, one of the very biggest plums that Russia would like and we've already started to see the reaction in Russia, Kate. They're going bananas over there. They're gloating. They're cheering. They cannot believe the gifts that Donald Trump gives Russia every day and it's an embarrassment for our country.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, I do also want to ask you, you are a Jewish- American, you're a Democrat today.

LEVIN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: President Trump defended his statement that Jewish-Americans who vote for Democrats are disloyal. Here's how I put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your critics have said that is an anti-Semitic remark. How do you respond to that?

TRUMP: I haven't heard anybody say that. Just the opposite. I think that if you vote for a Democrat, you're very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:10:08] BOLDUAN: He says his comments are not anti-Semitic, but do you think those comments are anti-Semitic?

LEVIN: Those comments absolutely are anti-Semitic. Kate, this is the President of the United States repeating a trope about dual loyalty that has been at the heart of the oppression of Jewish people in countries all over the world for centuries.

BOLDUAN: Does it make a difference to you, Congressman, if he doesn't view it as anti-Semitic or he doesn't know it is?

LEVIN: That's almost more troubling than if he did, isn't it, Kate? I mean, here's a person who talked about fine people on both sides when Neo-Nazis were on the march in Charlottesville. Here's a person who repeatedly talks about people from Latin America coming to our country as an invasion and then we have white supremacist massacres in our country by people who put up statements on the internet that say they're doing it to avoid an invasion of Latinos.

The President is at the center of a maelstrom of an increase in white supremacy and hate crimes in this country. I don't care whether he knows what he's doing or not. He's a danger to Jewish people in this country. He's undermining the incredibly important alliance between America and Israel. It's been bipartisan and supported by presidents, Republican and Democratic, since Harry Truman.

And we have to protect bipartisan support for Israel and for a two- state solution, so that Israel can live at peace alongside a Palestinian neighbor where Palestinians have their rights respected too. So we know what we need to do, somehow we've got to survive this president long enough. And I think our allies understand this that he doesn't represent the will of the American people.

And on November 3, 2020, we're going to have to get a president who can begin to restore our relationships where he is friendly with our allies and doesn't suck up to dictators like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin.

BOLDUAN: I will say far before November 2020, the conversation about anti-Semitism and the rise of anti-semitism in our country is far beyond politics. And we must have that conversation much sooner than November 3, I know you agree with that.

LEVIN: I'm having it every day.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

LEVIN: As a Jewish congressman who neighbors my Palestinian Muslim neighbor in Congress Rashida Tlaib, we're talking about it here in Metro Detroit every single day. You're right.

BOLDUAN: In real time.

LEVIN: In real time, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, Thank you. Thanks for coming in.

LEVIN: Thank you. Take care.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, President Trump is known to have an ego but is he taking it now to a whole new level?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: As he looks to the sky. Plus, the White House pushing a new policy to end a court order that protects migrant children. Why? And after supporting, then caving and backing down and then turning back on background checks, Trump now insists that he hasn't changed his position at all. So where exactly does he stand on the issue?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:05] BOLDUAN: New tonight, "I am the chosen one." Those words spoken by the President of the United States as he defends his trade war with China amid growing fears of a looming recession.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody said, "It's Trump's trade war." This isn't my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it. So I'm taking on China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That came just hours after he tweeted out a quote from a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorists who said about Trump in part this, quote, the Jewish people in Israel love him like he's the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.

Out front now CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, and the Author of The Making of Donald Trump, David Cay Johnston. Thanks, guys.

Gloria, when Trump calls himself the chosen one, he was talking about the trade war. So why is that an issue of ego for him?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, his calling card has always been 'I am a great businessman and I therefore can fix the problems in this country'. And you'll recall even during his speech at the convention he said, "Only I can fix it," when he was talking about the ills that plague this country, be it our economic hills or lobbying, et cetera, et cetera. So Trump sees himself as this kind of economic savior and that he's

the only guy who can go in a room and negotiate a deal and get it done because he hasn't seen the difference between being somebody who's involved in real estate and can walk out of a real estate deal versus somebody who's actually running a country and cannot walk out a negotiation just when he wants to.

BOLDUAN: He also said, "I'm the only one that can fix it when it came to draining the swamp too."

BORGER: That's true.

BOLDUAN: Just a note, David.

BORGER: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: David, you studied Trump for years. You've also called him a world class narcissist was one of the quotes that I've seen from you. How does that play into everything that we're hearing from the President today? From 'I am the chosen one' to 'I'm the second coming of God' to declaring the Danish leader can't talk like that against the President of the United States?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP: Kate, Donald really does believe that he is superior to the rest of us. He has himself talked about how the Trumps believe they are genetically superior to the rest of us. Notice how he calls everybody who in any way doesn't bow down to him an idiot, a fool. They don't know what they're doing.

And if Donald were not the President, if he were someone you sat down next to in a bar or at a dinner that you had to go to or on an airplane, you would within a matter of minutes conclude from listening to this guy that he's a blowhard who's crazy.

[19:20:04] But Donald really does believe these things and they're delusional and they're indicative of the fact that our 45th President is deeply mentally ill, given how common mental illness is, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that at some point we're going to have a mentally ill president, that's what we've got now.

BOLDUAN: Also, just sit here and think how would people be reacting if President Obama had been standing in the driveway and looked up and said, "I am the chosen one." I just would love to see the reaction then. But also on the Obama front, Gloria, we noticed something, I don't know any other way to describe it other than strange today during his remarks to reporters, he could not stop talking about Obama just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We can't treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama. That was outsmarting Obama. So Russia outsmarted President Obama. It was President Obama that built those cages. So President Obama had separation. I'm the one that brought them together. I'm looking at a tax cut now, we don't need it. We have a strong economy.

Certainly, a payroll tax cut, President Obama did that in order to artificially jack up the economy. President Obama had zero interest rates. I don't have zero interest. I have real address rates and despite that I have a strong economy. I mean, it was over, and that's not all of it. I mean it was over and over again. Why is he still making this about Obama?

BORGER: Well, in case you haven't noticed, the President needs enemies in order to make the case about himself. And the enemy of the day, today, was Barack Obama as it is on many days. And, of course, he's never to blame for any problems or any mistakes.

So if there are problems in the past with the economy, then you blame somebody else. I mean when you are president, the sign says the buck stops here. Harry Truman, the buck stops here. With Donald Trump, the sign is the buck stopped there. Not with me, there. And there, of course, is Barack Obama.

Tomorrow it'll be Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton's emails. And maybe the day after that it will be Joe Biden who, of course, worked with Barack Obama. So if Biden is the nominee, you can expect to hear a lot more of that.

BOLDUAN: It was a strange one today.

BORGER: Yes, it was.

BOLDUAN: David, let me play also what the President said when asked about his visits to Dayton and El Paso after the mass shootings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: These people, the families and also the people that were so badly injured that I was with, they love our country. And frankly, you want to know the truth? They love their president. If you read the papers, it was like nobody would meet with me.

Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the rooms. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn't even walk on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: The hospital in El Paso said on the record that victims of the shooting did not want to meet with him, David. I'm left today after watching this wondering what would have to happen for the President to finally stop complaining that he isn't getting enough praise.

JOHNSTON: It's never going to stop. Donald is an empty vessel who because of the way he was brought up, his father never told him he loved him. His mother was depressed when he was a preschooler. He's never going to change. The man is 73 years old. He's cooked. And it's very sad. I mean, Donald Trump is a man who has never known

joy. You can't find a video of him anywhere. In my personal dealings with him, I've never seen him laugh except for forced laughter. Empty vessel inside and he keeps trying to fill this emptiness and he can't.

And unlike a president who would have empathy for the victims, the survivors or the family members who are survivors, to Donald Trump, it's about him. It's not about you or me or somebody whose mother was massacred. It's about him.

BORGER: Yes. And it's about adoration. And so even if you're going to console the inconsolable, who have just been through such a tragedy, he has to drive some kind of admiration for himself out of it. And I'm not a shrink and I agree with what David is saying but I have no degree to say it.

But I but I do believe that part of the reason the reelection matters so much to him is because that affirmation and that adoration comes with his base, and with people who will go to his rallies and who will support him whom he hopes will bring him a second term and that will bring him the affirmation that he really needs.

BOLDUAN: And still probably not enough joy.

[19:25:00] Guys, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. A really strange day.

OUTFRONT next, Senator Kamala Harris tearing into the President suggesting that he read the Constitution after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You walk over the border, have a baby. Congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen. We're looking at it very, very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Plus, President Trump's leveling a new threat at America's allies, take back your ISIS fighters or he'll release them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:22] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the Trump administration pushing now to hold migrant families indefinitely. The administration wants to eliminate the 20-day cap on how long it can detain migrant children and that was part of a court order from the '90s as they would wait for their cases to be decided.

The Acting Head of DHS says the policy is designed to deter illegal immigration. President Trump says they want to keep families together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Very much I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly. I'm the one that kept the families together. With what we're doing

now, we'll do even more of that but it'll make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:30:05] BOLDUAN: Out front now, Maria Cardona, Democratic Strategist and Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.

Guys, thanks for being here.

Maria, what's your reaction to this new policy and the president saying he is doing it with the children in mind?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is so laughable that the president would say that when he is the one -- his administration was the one who made an official policy pronouncement that they would separate children and families, that they would rip kids from the bosoms from their mothers to keep them from coming here.

It was a huge disaster. It was a political disaster for the president and his party. They had to say they weren't doing that anymore when, in fact, they are still doing it. There are instances it's still happening.

So, for him to say that he is the one keeping kids together is laughable. It is not a deterrent as we have seen. And it is something that is going to make these migrant children continue to suffer. It's going to have lifelong consequences and it certainly does not promote or is not in line with the image that we want to project as Americans.

BOLDUAN: Scott, what do you -- what do you think about this?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the rule is imminently defensible although I think it's going to be challenged in court. So we're some months away from knowing whether it's actually going to take effect.

I think the Flores rule, though, has been exploited by people over the years. It's also been exploited by people engaged in human trafficking. You know you show up with kids. You get detained and after 20 days, we have to release you into the interior of the United States.

Well, some of these people engaged in human trafficking were exploiting that. By closing this loophole, we are allowing families to stay together and we are immediately putting in -- putting them in the U.S. judicial process so their case can be adjudicated. This gives them a minimum standard of living. They'll put in to facilities where there is bedding, food, clothes, recreation, education.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: But to me the most important thing I heard from the administration today is this rule will not permit the separation of the families. They cross the border illegally as a family unit. And so they'll be put as a family unit in a U.S. holding facility while their case is being adjudicated.

I think that's -- I think that's a step in the right direction. And we're shutting down I think hopefully the human traffickers who are exploiting our laws.

BOLDUAN: Maria?

CARDONA: Kate, my friend -- my friend Scott needs to be corrected on a couple of Republican talking points that he is using which are untrue.

The first one is they focus on the issue of human trafficking. Sure, there are human traffickers. And that should be the priority for in administration to fight.

The fact of the matter is that the percentage of human traffickers who come over pretending that they have kids in hand in order to exploit this loophole is infinitesimal. The vast majority of families who are coming over with kids are families who are coming with their children who are fleeing violence and in many cases certain death for their kids if they don't come over here. Number one.

Number two, if my friend Scott is someone who can have confidence in this administration, that they will be taking care of the children in a way that children should be taken care of, I welcome him to take his own kids there and let them stay for a week. We know that he won't do that. I wouldn't let him do that, because what have we seen, Kate, seven children have died in custody of ICE very recently, this past year.

And in fact, what we have seen from civil rights organizations who have seen these facilities and from people who have talked to the families like me, I have been to the border, talked to the families, I saw this child with my own eyes, Kate, whose diaper had not been changed in three days when this they came the out of ICE custody.

That is not a system that I would in -- there is no way in hell I would put my own children there and no way in hell I would say we should leave migrant children in that custody and in those kinds of conditions.

BOLDUAN: Ii want to move on, but Scott got to respond.

JENNINGS: Absolutely. Number one, I think people with legitimate asylum claims are going to be immediately put into the U.S. system to adjudicate their claims. And if they have as Maria pointed out, legitimate asylum claims, fleeing places that are violent, that claim is going to be heard in a court immediately. Number two --

BOLDUAN: Asylum claims are not heard --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's part of the problem.

JENNINGS: There are massive trafficking problems. I'm not willing -- I'm not willing to accept any human trafficking problems. I'm not willing to accept any of these children being exploited by human traffickers.

But the final issue is this: After 20 days, under the current system, we have to release the people into the United States illegally and hope they show up for court. That is not an acceptable position for most Americans. They want to see these people adjudicated and fairly and treated well.

CARDONA: The vast majority of them do, Scott.

JENNINGS: But releasing them into the country is essential decriminalizing border crossings, and saying we don't have borders effectively. That's not acceptable to the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's not true. You know why.

[19:35:01] Ninety percent of the families who have --

JENNINGS: They have to release them after 20 days.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Because the court deemed it was unacceptable to keep the child in a facility that long.

CARDONA: That's right.

JENNINGS: I'm sorry, Kate?

CARDONA: And the vast majority of families do show up.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Because a court ordered after a very stents of lawsuit that took years, they decided that over 20 days was an unacceptable period of time to have a child remain in that kind of custody. That's why.

JENNINGS: Well, it's in the United States' best interests to adjudicate these people immediately. There is no incentive for the U.S. government to let it go on indefinitely.

CARDONA: But it doesn't happen, Scott.

BOLDUAN: But it doesn't happen that way.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: It will under the new rule. It will under the new rule, I imagine.

BOLDUAN: Well, a lot more to be discussed here, guys. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

CARDONA: Way too much confidence there, Scott. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, President Trump can't seem to get his position straight on background checks. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Did you tell Wayne LaPierre that you would not pursue background checks?

TRUMP: No, I didn't say anything about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And Bill de Blasio running for president or auditioning for the Chipmunks?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank you for the fight you are waging every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tonight, more whiplash from the president on guns. President Trump saying today he has a, quote/unquote, appetite for background checks, denying reports that he took universal background checks off the table in a lengthy call with the head of the NRA yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:40:07] REPORTER: Did you tell Wayne LaPierre that you would not pursue background checks?

TRUMP: No, I didn't say anything about that. We had a great talk with Wayne yesterday. I didn't say anything about that. We talked about concepts. Wayne agrees things have to be done also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, Democratic presidential candidate and a senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Senator, thank you for being here.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of the president -- the only best way to say is really being all over the map on the issue of background checks. Do you think that's intentional?

GILLIBRAND: I think he is beholden to the NRA and doesn't have the guts to stand up to the NRA. We have a real problem in Washington with the greed and corruption that's at the heart of why it's so hard to get common sense things done. And it's why as a presidential candidate, I'm running on publicly-funded elections, actually getting money out of politics, making sure we have clean elections. We can deal with actual public corruption.

I think President Trump's beholden to Wayne LaPierre and the gun manufacturers. And he doesn't have the courage to stand up to them.

BOLDUAN: If universal background checks are off the table, but the president still has an appetite for something stronger on background checks, do you think he is serious? Do you think there is something in between?

GILLIBRAND: I don't think he is serious. I think he is going to do whatever the NRA tells him to do.

They don't want universal background checks. They don't even want to deny people on the terror watch list the ability to buy guns. They are against the violence against women's act because they want to make sure abusers can buy guns.

We need to close the boyfriend loophole. We need universal background checks. We need to ban military style weapons and large magazines, as well as having a federal anti-gun trafficking law.

The bottom line is we shouldn't be willing to live in a country where kids can't do back to school shopping in a Walmart. We shouldn't be willing to live in a country where our kids are learning shelter in place drills instead of mathematical drills.

And it's not OK. We need a president with the courage and guts to stand up to the NRA. And I do.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about what your positions and what you support when it comes to gun safety. You support a federal assault weapons buyback program. The president today warned that policy is a slippery slope.

The way he put it to reporters today is, all of a sudden, we're talking about taking everybody's guns away.

Is that what you want to do?

GILLIBRAND: No, he is full of it. And he is just spewing NRA talking points.

It's not a slippery slope. We want to ban assault rifles and large magazine clips. We want to ban (AUDIO GAP) military is trained in, to use as a (AUDIO GAP). And because President Trump who has fueled this hate and division across America, you have people who are out there fueled by hate, literally hunting down other people with these weapons of war.

It's got to stop. And we need a president who is independent, who can stand up to the NRA and gun manufacturers and put the American people first.

BOLDUAN: But, Senator, I asked specifically about the buyback, mandatory buybacks.

GILLIBRAND: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Are you concerned that your support of mandatory buyback program, that that hurts a push to get something bipartisan in Congress? Because Republicans are not going to support that.

GILLIBRAND: Yes, but you could do this. You could say let's ban military style weapons and large magazines, offer a buyback program to anyone who owns a military style weapon and wants to be compensated for it.

BOLDUAN: You make it mandatory?

GILLIBRAND: You may never need to make it mandatory if people are willing to sell them back and you get the weapons off the streets. (AUDIO GAP) sale and the purchase illegal and you need to make the use illegal. Barring that, you could have a registration for anything else.

And we have that today for machine guns, and for other military style weapon where you have to get your fingerprints. You have to register. You have to have a background check to even own it. What we want to do is to make the use, purchase and sale illegal.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about the president's comments today about ISIS as well. Let me just play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now, and Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn't take them, I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany and France and other places.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He is threatening to drop terrorists off in countries of European allies. You support closing Gitmo, but what's your reaction to the president's threat?

GILLIBRAND: I think he is absurd and I don't think he understands what he's saying. We can actually try terrorists in Article III courts. That is the most effective way to get justice for those who engage in terrorism. And it works.

Our courts are strong. They are effective.

[19:45:01] And we have done it before. So that's what we should be doing.

We don't need to drop them off in other countries. We have agreements with other foreign powers to deal with terrorism, particularly cross- border terrorism.

And President Trump really has stepped away from his role as a leader on the world stage. He shrunk from his responsibilities and is making us less safe.

BOLDUAN: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thanks so much.

GILLIBRAND: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, a teenager arrested after there threatening to commit mass murder at his high school, the arrest part of a chilling trend.

Plus, Bill de Blasio's high pitched pitch to voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DE BLASIO: My message comes down to three words: working people first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tonight, police arresting a California man, accused of planning a mass shooting at the Marriott Hotel where he worked. Authorities say they found multiple high-powered weapons and tactical gear at the suspect's home. This is just one of at least 30 arrests for threats of mass attacks since the Dayton and El Paso shootings less than three weeks ago.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHIEF ROBERT LUNA, LONG BEACH POLICE: Suspect Montoya had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident.

[19:50:10] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 37-year-old California man hotel arrested today after allegedly planning employees and guests at a Marriott Hotel where he worked.

MOTHER: He's just a little boy. He didn't do anything wrong.

FLORES: A 15-year-old arrested in Florida accused of threatening to commit mass murder at his high school. Because he's a juvenile, it's unclear if he's entered a plea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not to be in any possession of firearms.

FLORES: And a self-described white nationalist pleading not guilty to charges of online harassment and aggravated menacing after allegedly threatening carry out a mass shooting at a Youngstown, Ohio, Jewish community center. In the days and weeks following the two latest deadly mass shootings

in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, more than two dozen arrests have been made across the U.S. as plots to commit mass murder have been foiled.

SHERIFF MICHAEL J. CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Clearly, this is a person that fits the profile of what an active shooter is.

FLORES: Florida police say Tristan Scott Wix threatened to commit a mass shooting in a series of text messages with his ex-girlfriend. It's not clear if Wix entered a plea. His attorney declined to comment.

CHITWOOD: Twenty-four years old, lost his girlfriend, lost his job, has no money, and is fascinated and studies the last big active killers that we've had in our country.

FLORES: A similarity among them: the potential targets.

EMILY MARTINEZ, STUDENT: It's really sad that I have to go to school and think about that and think about the people that are making threats.

FLORES: In at least nine separate incidents, police say the intended targets were schools. At least five cases involved Walmart stores. Other targeted places of worship, the general public and one called for a genocide of Latinos.

Of the more than two dozen threats this month alone, at least six were allegedly set to take place in Florida. This Florida teen's mother says her son was just joking around.

MOTHER: Yes, he's 15. He's still a little boy and he's not one of the crazy people out there doing stuff.

OFFICER: Well, he did what he did.

MOTHER: Yes, but he shouldn't be treated as though he is a terrorist or something because he made a silly statement on a stupid video game.

FLORES: The Volusia County sheriff's office writing on Facebook: Joke or not, such comments are a felony in Florida.

From coast to coast, dozens of suspects, dozens of tipsters turning them in and police taking no chances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: And if you're wondering what has changed, why so many arrests, why so many foiled plots? Well, after the latest two shootings, CNN learned from law enforcement sources that FBI Director Christopher Wray asked all of his offices, all the FBI offices around the country to conduct threat assessments to prevent mass shootings and, Kate, it appears to be working.

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, Bill de Blasio's campaign hits a high note of sorts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DE BLASIO: A real, intense, bold change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:35] BOLDUAN: Did -- tonight, did presidential candidate Bill de Blasio spoke to Iowans from -- I don't know, the Land of Oz?

Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do the Chipmunks, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have in common?

DE BLASIO: I thank you, everybody. I'm so happy I'm with you and I apologize I couldn't be there in person.

MOOS: Do not adjust your set. The mayor's voice is distorted beyond fixing. Someone tweeted: I like him better this way.

Mayor de Blasio's flight was cancelled due to weather, so he made an on screen appearance at the Iowa Federation of Labor Convention.

DE BLASIO: A real, intense, bold change.

MOOS: What was real and intense was his change of voice, which technicians tried unsuccessfully to fix, even as he spoke.

DE BLASIO: A really, really difficult battle.

MOOS: And no, the presidential candidate hadn't been sucking helium like Jimmy Fallon.

De Blasio's high-pitched voice inspired only a stifled chuckle in the room but jokes dominated online. He represents the lollipop guild.

(SINGING)

MOOS: When de Blasio ended his presentation --

DE BLASIO: Thank you, everybody.

MOOS: -- the emcee responded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, that was a little bit different.

MOOS: There were other audio issues.

Joe Biden's mic was turned off at one point. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Spread it. Go spread it,

guys.

MOOS: And even the emcee had to blow and tap, tap and blow.

Organizers apologized and later gave de Blasio a second chance to speak undistorted.

DE BLASIO: Crystal clear.

MOOS: De Blasio later joked a cancelled flight can't stop me from auditioning for "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

Oh, we're talking about it.

DE BLASIO: My message comes down to three words: working people first.

MOOS: Correction, working audio first or your campaign will be headed --

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: I don't know why high-pitch voices are so funny but they really are.

Thanks so much for joining us, everybody.

"AC360" starts right now.