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Pompeo Speaks with Danes after Trump Calls P.M. "Nasty"; Trump Defends Wanting to Have Russia in G-7; U.S. Steel to Temporarily Lay Off 200 Workers; Former Rep. Joe Walsh "Strongly Considering" Challenging Trump in Primary; Fires Raging at Record Rate in Amazon Rainforest. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:13] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo is in the middle of some pretty serious diplomatic damage control in the aftermath of the president abruptly canceling a trip to Denmark and then calling the prime minister "nasty."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea. It was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do was say, no, we wouldn't be interested.


BOLDUAN: All because the country wouldn't consider selling part of its territory to Donald Trump.

The secretary of state spoke with the Danish foreign minister late yesterday and, according to a readout from the foreign minister, the conversation was, quote, "frank, friendly and constructive."

So is it all better now?

Joining me right now, David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst and national security correspondent for the "New York Times."

David, with the way this was devolved, is Mike Pompeo going to be able to smooth this thing over?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it will get forgotten about over time, except on late-night comedy where I think it will probably have a fairly long life. I think that's probably what angered the president more than anything that the prime minister said. (AUDIO PROBLEM -- many jokes about it.

This was completely self-inflicted, Kate. If they had sort of quietly gone ahead of time and said, when the president is in Copenhagen, he's going to raise this possibility, and sort of prepared the ground for it -- (AUDIO PROBLEM) -- all the things you do in normal diplomacy, I don't think you would have seen this kind of reaction.

Instead, it leaked out by the "Wall Street Journal." Good for them. The president then saw the direction.

And I thought what the prime minister said was relatively mild compared to some things that you see the president say about other world leaders on his Twitter account.

BOLDUAN: I think you're right.

What does this all mean looking ahead to the G-7? Emmanuel Macron just announced they aren't going to be putting together a final communique. Is Macron acknowledging like this whole bit has kind of fallen apart and they're not going to be able to come together and agree on anything? I mean, is he acknowledging defeat before they even begin?

SANGER: Well, it's interesting that the one issue that the president put out for the G-7 ahead of time, at least publicly, was the question of whether or not Russia would be readmitted, which he said he wanted to do, without having to resolve the reason that Russia was disinvited from the G-7 meetings to begin with, which was the annexation of Crimea, which the president referred to as a result of President Obama's team (ph). It wasn't.

It was because all of the G-7 believed that you shouldn't have a country that had just invaded another nation sit there at the table. And there's been very little done to resolve that.

The most astounding thing is that the G-7 has -- (AUDIO PROBLEM)

BOLDUAN: I think we're losing David.

SANGER: -- some agreement, and including -- (AUDIO PROBLEM)

BOLDUAN: Sorry, David, I think we're having some technical difficulties.

David, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Darn.

[11:34:33] Coming up, another Republican says that he's strongly considering a primary challenge against President Trump. With the president's approval rating among Republicans at 84 percent, does any Republican challenger stand a chance? Former Ohio Governor John Kasich joins me next.


BOLDUAN: Nearly 200 steelworkers in Michigan will soon be out of a job. Why? The company is blaming softening demand. This comes after President Trump claimed as recently as last week that his steel tariffs were actually saving the industry.


TRUMP: By the way, steel, steel was dead. Your business was dead, OK. I don't want to be overly crude. Your business was dead. And I put a little thing called a 25 percent tariff on all of the dumped steel all over the country and now your business is thriving.


BOLDUAN: Steel prices have fallen dramatically since March 2018 when Trump first announced the tariff on steel imports. So what now?

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is in Michigan seeing the real impact in real time with the folks who have been directly impacted.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER: Hi, Kate. People we have spoken to here in the community are concerned and shocked by this news. They thought that these steel tariffs were going to bring back production and bring back jobs. But instead, U.S. Steel announcing that they are going to temporarily be laying off about 200 workers here at this factory behind me, citing ongoing market challenges.

And this is very different to what we've heard the president say just in the last week. He credited himself for bringing back the steel industry.

But we spoke to one city official who says he sees no evidence of that here and he and another community leader are concerned that these temporary layoffs will become permanent.


RICHARD MARSH, CITY ADMINISTRATOR, ECORSE, MICHIGAN: We assume that we would have more production. And, in fact, we thought it would have the reverse effect, there would be more hiring taking place, you know locally.

It was a shock and I'm hoping that things reverse quickly.

[11:40:11] JAMES PERRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOWNRIVER COMMUNITY: It's a recession when your neighbor is laid off. It's a depression when you get laid off. And it hasn't changed in the past 38 or 39 years.

You know, you get concerned when you hear 200 people are laid off. So it is a concern.


YURKEVICH: And 200 layoffs may not sound like a lot when you're comparing it to the couple of thousand employees who work here. But the concern is that these temporary layoffs are a signal of a downturn in the industry rather than an industry coming back.

If you look at U.S. steel prices this time last year, that stock was trading at about $30 a share. Today, it's trading at about $12. That's a 60 percent drop.

And as for when these temporary layoffs will come back online, U.S. Steel says they don't have a timeline for that, adding another level of uncertainty -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's for sure.

Vanessa, thank you very much for that.

Joining me now is the former Republican governor of Ohio, now CNN's political commentator, John Kasich.

Governor, thank you being here.

I want to get your take on what Vanessa was talking to us right there. If this is a driving headline, if this is what's happening in Michigan, they're seeing layoffs and softening demand in the steel industry, and problems in other sectors as well, what can the president say the next time he heads to the battleground state? Who is to blame?

JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, there's no question that the manufacturing sector is experiencing a slowdown, Kate. And it happens for a variety of reasons.

In terms of steel, steel prices, the health of steel companies tend to gyrate. It's up and down and there's a lot of factors that go into that. But when you don't have the demand, which it appears we're seeing less demand for a whole lot of manufactured items, or when you add in the inputs that people have to have to make a product, including things that get imported, which now costs more, all this contributes to a slowdown.

And so what people are hoping is that the consumer demands are going to push the economy along and outweigh the decline in manufacturing.

But, look, we've had a long, long recovery, one of the longest recoveries in history if not the longest recovery and these don't go on forever. And so we're going through a cycle.

And obviously, the tariffs have not helped us. They are contributing to this. And a slowing economy is never good news for an incumbent president or incumbent governor. It doesn't matter what it is. People want to see their lives getting better.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. That is definitely the reality.

On that note, I am not going to ask you about where you are in considering a presidential run, even though you are heading to New Hampshire to give a speech. I'm just noting that.

But I am going to ask you --

KASICH: I hope so. I'm planning on it. We'll see.

BOLDUAN: Planning. Planning. Planning.

I am going to ask you, then, about the other Republicans who are considering launching primary challenges because it seems to have picked up recently. What do you think of Joe Walsh? KASICH: I don't know the man. I think that, right now, the president

is running strong there.

In terms of me, I would like to make a speech and talk about the two paths. In fact, it's something I spoke about years ago and I've written about it. It's why I didn't endorse the president because I think there's a way of bringing people together and acknowledge their problems but tell them that we can work together to solve them rather than to victimize or name call or anything like that. And so I'd like to go there and do that.

In terms of me, what people need to understand is, when I run, I run to win. I don't run to damage. I'm not a stalking horse for anybody.

So at this point I don't see a path. It doesn't mean there isn't a path in the future. I'm not playing a game with anybody. I'm not trying to mislead everybody. This is very serious business. And right now, I don't see the path.

It doesn't mean there wouldn't be one later in terms of these folks who are running, whoever they are. I think it's a big challenge and it takes an awful lot of work and you've got to catch the magic in the bottle in New Hampshire that could propel you to other states. You have to have the resources.

It's very complicated in terms of running for president. Believe me, I've done it a couple of times. And by the way, I didn't win either time. If I had, I probably wouldn't be here. Well, maybe I still would be doing this.


BOLDUAN: You would definitely be sitting down with me if you had won. I know that you would.

KASICH: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Mark Sanford, of South Carolina, he's also considering running. He's kind of in the middle of this process.

I'm going to read you one thing that he said recently about a Republican primary challenger. He says, "Anybody who says, 'I think I can beat Donald Trump,' I think is stretching it. It's daunting. And it is, indeed, preposterous at many different levels."

When I hear him saying that and he's considering a primary challenge, is it worth it? Is there value in doing it if it's preposterous on many levels?

[11:45:07] KASICH: Well, I can't speak for any of these other folks. But, for me, for my family, for my friends, you can do anything just for a flier. I'm not into some demolition derby where you go around the track and see who I can knock out.

I ran the last time because I thought I could win. And in New Hampshire, I beat all these people who were expected to beat me. I didn't beat Trump. But I did quite well. I thought I would get a bump going into South Carolina. It never happened. There was too much focus on Donald Trump.

And I did over 100 town hall meetings up there. I love to be on the ground and I had a great time running for president. But it's very complicated. And if you don't think you can win, maybe you do it for other reasons. But I run to win. If I get back into the game, it's because I think I can do it.

Some people would say, well, just do it and run and try to damage him. That might be somebody else's job, but I don't think the good Lord has given me the skills that I have and the success that I have so I can go out and just damage somebody else. It's just not in my nature. And I've got to be honest with you.

But, look, I don't know what's going to happen and we don't know what's going to happen in the next hour, let alone what's going to happen in the next couple of months.

BOLDUAN: No truer words have ever been spoken.

Speaking of the good Lord, Governor, what do you think would have been the reaction if President Barack Obama looked to the heavens and said that he was the chosen one?

KASICH: This is something you have to be very careful about, in my opinion, because -- there's one thing that I know I fail at that he expects out of us all the time and that's a dose of humility. And the older I get, the smarter I get, I think, the more that I understand how we have to strive for that.

Just last night, I was in the gym and I asked this person in the gym would they like water, because I was going to go get it. They said, no, no, you don't need to bother with that. I said I've become like a water boy. And when I came back I gave him the water and I looked at him, and I said, when people who are important don't want to do little things or small things for other people, that means they're unsure of themselves.

So I think the issue of humility really matters. I fail at it. I'm a jerk sometimes. There's no question about it. But I'm trying to do my best to realize that the gifts I have and the opportunities I have, a lot of them are because of my hard work, but most of them come from above.

BOLDUAN: Excellent point.

Governor, thanks for being here.

KASICH: Kate, it's always so much fun to talk to you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, fires in the Amazon Rainforest are burning out of control. The smoke is so thick, Brazil's largest city is plunged into darkness in the middle of the day. A live update coming up in Sao Paulo. That's next.

But first, up to 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste -- 40 percent. A hard fact to grasp when you consider one in eight American households struggles to feed their families.

In today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD," a nonprofit takes good food destined for landfills and sends it to good people in need.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In asparagus, we package it up and it's going to shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody needy. That's the important thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forgotten Harvest, as a food rescue organization, is literally helping prevent perishable items from going to waste. Items like asparagus, tomatoes, fresh green vegetables that are coming off of local farms here in Michigan.

Forgotten Harvest's operation is set up largely as a logistics business.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're working in our warehouse with volunteers who are coming here to help repack so that our trucks and our drivers can leave our warehouse in the morning, go to retailers and pick up the food that they have available to donate to us. And then we redistribute the food to our community partners like community homes, shelters, churches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't thank them enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every year, we're giving out about 44 million pounds of food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me get number five.

[11:49:17] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We serve hundreds of families. The term "forgotten" is good that they used that term, because there's some food that is forgotten. People just throw it away where you have people who can be nourished by it. There's definitely a need.



BOLDUAN: The images are really just shocking. Fires consuming the world's largest rainforest. Brazil's Amazon Rainforest is burning at a record rate. This is according to the Brazil space center. The flames destroying one and a half football fields of forests every minute of every day since it started. Now, smoke has spread over half of Brazil and spilling into neighboring countries.

CNN's Shasta Darlington is in Sao Paulo. Shasta, how bad is it?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN REPORTER: These fires are ravaging the Amazon at an alarming rate. Many have been set by loggers and ranchers trying to clear the land.

What's amazing is that we can actually see some of the smoke in Sao Paulo. I'm more than 1,000 miles away. Yet, earlier this week, the city was plunged into darkness at 3:00 p.m. as though it were night. And it was a mixture of low-lying clouds but also the smoke coming from those fires in the Amazon.

This has sparked a war of words with environmentalists blaming the president here, Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly said that we need to develop the Amazon. And Bolsonaro blaming NGOs saying maybe they're trying to burn it down to make him look bad.

All in all, it's a pretty dire situation -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That war of words not helping anybody get their handle on it any faster.

Shasta, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

[11:55:04] Still ahead, for President Trump, it's been a week of contradictions. How the word salad of yesterday could impact his pitch to voters in 2020.