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CNN TONIGHT

If Economy Sinks, Trump Sinks; Jewish Community Reacts To Anti- Semitic Trope By President Trump; CEO Testimony Raises Some Eyebrows; Donald Trump Feuding With Denmark's Prime Minister; Wildfires In The Amazon In A Record Rate; Patrick Byrne Saying He Carried Out Political Espionage. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: He also wasn't mentioned in her indictment. But either he has the name or you've got to feel bad for Patrick Byrne because as great as he rose to the society, something's off with him now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Well, her, and what did her people saying that he, it's said that her attorney said, well, he's making some claims that are worth investigating. I'm paraphrasing here. That's basically what they're saying. Listen, like --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They're desperate to do anything than can help her situation.

LEMON: Exactly.

CUOMO: You know, she's got real trouble.

LEMON: Like you, I read the story earlier with a healthy degree of skepticism, as I read everything nowadays, especially with a healthy degree of skepticism. We're living in an unprecedented time. You don't know.

And then I saw the interview earlier tonight as I was preparing for the show, I'm sure as you did as well, and then you jumped on calling him.

But, listen, it's interesting because speaking for the people at home as I'm watching it the first time, I'm like, what is he saying because this whole deep state thing was supposed to be about setting up Donald Trump, but yet he's saying that Hillary Clinton was set up.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And that the FBI was used as a political apparatus, worked as an investigative apparatus.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know, he's not making a -- if I had even sensed that this was about a political agenda --

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: -- or some Infowars B.S. like that, I would never have him on the show, but I know him, I've tracked his career over the years, his web site has got some stuff on it that is certainly controversial.

LEMON: Deepcapture.com the thing that he does.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: I mean, he is a conspiracy theorist of sorts. Not, you know, like the ones we were talking about yesterday with the guy calling President Trump the second coming.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes. I mean, he's not like some -- he's not some lunatic.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Or something like that. And again, his company was a $745 million company. I'm not saying you can't be rich and cuckoo, I'm saying that, you know, he's always sounded like that. When I interviewed him in 1998, '99 he sounded like that. But look, either he's got the names --

LEMON: Or he doesn't.

CUOMO: -- or he doesn't. And in terms of politics he says what they did with Clinton was wrong. What they did with Trump was wrong. What they did with me was wrong. So, it's not like he's trying to advance a partisan agenda that I see.

LEMON: What's interesting to me, though, is again, I said a healthy degree of skepticism. But you don't know. He could be telling the truth 100 percent --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Either he's got the names or he doesn't.

LEMON: We don't know in these times. Listen, people don't know what to believe now. And having heard what he had to say, I don't know. And I would like -- I would like it to be investigated a bit more. But when he --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, he says the DOJ -- and they put out -- they put out a statement that they did meet with him.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: But honestly, you don't have to go any further than this. Either the names he has check out or they don't. He doesn't want to give them the meat, fine.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And the dates and the times and the meetings and all of that, yes.

CUOMO: But look, either the names check and he -- they know him or they say, no, this guy is sad but, you know, this is -- this is -- none of this is in the realm of reality. You don't know.

LEMON: The whole part about Warren Buffet -- he said Warren Buffett advised him to come forward and then he said him and others, I believe, hopefully I'm getting this right, said that you're going to be eaten alive by the political class in Washington if you come forward with this. I'm sure they're mulling it over now.

CUOMO: He's going to get eaten alive by us, you know, as we go through the fact through, you know, the fact checking of it. And that's OK.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I mean, that's the rigor that a situation like this is going to warrant. And it's easy. You know, we're putting in calls right now to Warren Buffett and he's either not going to comment or he's going to comment and say this is true or not true.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Not the underlying story because I don't think he has proof of that, either he has pictures of him and Butina or he doesn't.

LEMON: But if you listen to Asha Rangappa, she said, listen, it's not unusual for the FBI to talk to someone about it, you know, especially if you have a relationship with someone that they're investigating.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And he says he wanted them.

LEMON: Of course, they're going to try to use you as an asset.

CUOMO: I'm not saying that that part's weird, I'm just saying overall, it's strange. Look, given who he is, I think he deserved to have his say. And he's had it. And now we got to vet it. But I do not see it as the advancing of some deep state conspiracy that, like, we hear from a lot of the Trumpers on the far-right or something like that. I don't see it.

LEMON: Well, they will try to put the two together, right? It's a whole deep state thing. But what he's saying, he's not talking about as you said, they're just going after the Trump people. They're just going after the campaign.

Basically, what he's saying, according to him, is that the premier investigative unit in the United States is being used, at least he thinks, in this situation as a political unit rather than an investigative unit. And if that is indeed so, that is troubling. CUOMO: It is, but here is the good news. Either the names that he

says he gave them check out or they don't.

LEMON: Or they don't.

CUOMO: And as soon as we find out that they do, then it's worth looking at the next chapter of this. And until that, you've heard it. There's no reason for anybody to say that we're, like, keeping it quiet or covering it up.

LEMON: Of course not.

CUOMO: And now he's had his say. He deserves it. He's the head of a big company. He's never been tarred with anything like this before. It's worth hearing. We've heard it. We're checking on it. We'll see.

[22:04:59] LEMON: Mull it over and then we'll figure it out. We'll go from there. Thank you. We have lots to talk about. We're going to talk about that as well but a lot more as well. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you soon. Nice, interesting interview, to say the least. Fascinating.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And we got to talk about the president of the United States as well. His erratic behavior because we can't let that slip to the wayside, OK? Slip by the wayside, his erratic behavior because it is getting worse. It is getting worse.

We've heard it with our own ears. We've seen it with our own eyes. Sources inside the White House telling CNN that the president is worried that the economy will take a downward turn ahead of the election.

And "The New York Times" reports that some former members of team Trump that they're afraid the pressure is getting to him. They're afraid of what he'll do or what he'll say if those warning lights on the economy keep flashing as the election gets closer.

Because the fact is as the economy goes, so goes Trump's presidency. And worries about the economy, well, they bring out the worst in this president. Every campaign rally, every Q&A with reporters on the White House lawn, every tweet is another opportunity for him to go off script to contradict himself on his own policies and to lash out at his perceived political enemies.

The fact is most of us would be in big trouble for doing what this president has done. Think about that. Think about what -- if you had -- if you did or said what this president has said. You'd be in big trouble.

Lobbing anti-Semitic attacks at American Jews who support Democrats. Launching a nonsensical scheme to buy Greenland then feuding with Denmark's prime minister when she wouldn't go along with him. Not to mention praising a known conspiracy theorist who said he's like the king of Israel and the second coming of God. And then there are the contradictions on his own policies. The latest

on tax cuts. The White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow saying this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: What the president's trying to say is there's no near-term tax cuts for stimulus or fighting recession. We're not going to tamper with temporary tax cuts of any kind, any kind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He says the president is trying to say there are no tax cuts coming any time soon, but what the president actually said was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're always looking at the capital gains tax, payroll tax.

Payroll tax is something that we think about and a lot of people would like to see that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And a day later, this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he's not looking at a tax cut except he's always looking at tax cuts. It's like he doesn't even know or care about his own policies. Let's not forget what the president said about the tax cut he's already pushed through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, here's a fact. The fact is the president's tax cut only lowered rates temporarily for individual taxpayers, but corporations got a permanent tax cut. And all of that has fueled an explosion in the deficit. It's expected to hit $960 billion this year. And soar past $1 trillion next year, $960 billion this year. Soar past $1 trillion next year.

What else is happening next year? That's right, the election. Like I said, worries about the economy bring out the worst in this president. The worst. Like trying to buy Greenland and then freaking out when Denmark's prime minister calls the idea absurd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that was -- it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And then taking the whole thing very, very personally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off, because she's blowing off the United States, and we've done a lot for Denmark. We've done a lot. I know Denmark well. I have many friends from Denmark. I have many people from Denmark that live in the United States. And we treat countries with respect.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The worst like defending Vladimir Putin and claiming he outsmarted President Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia outsmarted President Obama. They took over during his term, not during mine, Crimea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're still there. Why let them in now?

TRUMP: They took over Crimea. We spend a lot of time talking about Russia at those meetings and they're not there. I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there so we can speak directly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:10:02] LEMON: So, let's remember this, okay? Russia still holds Crimea. Russia still holds Crimea. And that's the whole reason that they were kicked out of the then G8 in the first place. Vladimir Putin has done absolutely nothing to deserve being welcomed back.

So, what will President Trump do at the G7 in a matter of days? Well, he's told us what he -- what he's going to do, what he wants to do at least. He wants to get his buddy Vladimir Putin welcomed back, the man he stood by in Helsinki as he threw his own intelligence community right under the bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, and let's not forget this president's attacks on Jewish- Americans who support Democrats. Trafficking in the old ugly anti- Semitic charge of dual loyalty. Only this time turning it on its head and complaining that he thinks they're disloyal to Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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.

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)

LEMON: Let's not forget that this president, who is waging a trade war with China, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it. So, I'm taking on China. I'm taking on China on trade. And you know what? We're winning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He says he's the chosen one. Chosen by whom, I wonder. He says he's winning. Must have forgotten that he backed down on a new round of tariffs just last week. The White House calling that a Christmas present to the nation.

And then there's the president's disgraceful flip-flopping on background checks less than three weeks after 31 people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. First, he was for background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Then he resorted to spouting NRA talking points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have very, very strong background checks right now. And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem, and I've said it 100 times, it's not the gun that pulls the trigger, it's the person that pulls the trigger.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And tonight, he tweets about having a meeting on mass shootings without clarifying who was at that meeting. Saying, quote, "I am hopeful Congress will engage with my team to pass meaningful legislation." Hopeful? You mean like those hopes and prayers that pop up after every mass shooting? And did you see any mention there of any concrete, like, background checks? Anything concrete like background checks? Neither did I.

All these contradictions. All these attacks on his enemies. All this crazy talk about being the chosen one and the king of Israel. It's all because his worries about the economy bring out the worst in this president.

Like I said, as the economy goes, so goes the Trump presidency. You know, you heard a lot of shocking claims from the CEO of Overstock.com in his interview tonight with Chris. Patrick Byrne, he says he helped the FBI carry out what he calls political espionage and he admits he had a relationship with accused Russian agent Maria Butina. We're going to dig into his controversy claims, his extraordinary claims, I should say, next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're going to continue to follow developments on the Overstock story, so stand by.

But now I want to turn to President Trump's increasingly erratic behavior. Sources inside the White House telling CNN that he's worried the economy may turn downward ahead of the 2020 election. So how should the Democratic candidates react?

Frank Bruni is here to discuss of "The New York Times," of course. David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama joins us as well. Good evening, gentlemen. David, if economic concerns are bringing out the worse in this president, how should 2020 Democrats be addressing that chaos that results from this. What is the message here?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well I think the word you used -- the operative word is chaos. And you know, I believed for a very long time that the most effective argument for anyone running against the president is that we just can't do this for another four years.

It's less about, you know, it's easy to get outraged, it's easy to be morally indignant about what he's done, we do that all the time, but the reality is whether you like some of the things he's done or you don't, what I think a majority of Americans can agree on is we can't wake up every day to the tweets and tantrums and gratuitous battles that create all of this chaos and make it very difficult to get anything done on the things that they actually care about.

And I think that's the most effective argument for anyone running against this president. We, you know, you once asked, you know, are you better off than you were four years ago? The question in 2020 will be, can we actually do this for another four years?

LEMON: Yes, well, it's interesting because we do wake up evidence to -- people have no idea, Frank, what they're going to wake up to, right? It's just a storm of you know what every day just coming out of the president's Twitter feed. Then you see it on the White House lawn.

Listen, there are so many every day. Let me read them. This is the headlines right now. Trump administration wants to hold undocumented families together indefinitely. He doubled down an anti-Semitic trope. He thanked a conspiracy theorist. He threw a tantrum over Greenland. What do -- what do Democrats focus on now?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually don't think they --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Is it fitness?

BRUNI: Well, I don't think they need to go through all of that because I think Donald Trump is making the greatest case against himself, do you know what I mean?

LEMON: Yes.

[22:20:00] BRUNI: Like I think most Americans are watching this, they're exhausted by it. Unless they're already predisposed favorably to Donald Trump, they are thinking we need to get beyond that.

I think what the Democratic candidates need to do is it not bang on and on about how terrible Donald Trump is. Because I think the people -- people who can see clearly see that. I think they need to talk about themselves and what they're going to do and let voters fill in the blank of do I want four more years of Trump?

This is the most covered, dissected, discussed in his own way transparent presidency in my lifetime. I mean, you can see very vividly all the time, every hour of the day in every tweet who Donald Trump is. Voters know who he is. They know what they think about him. What they don't know is what their alternatives are. And so, I think Democrats need to focus on their plans, their vision and let him step all over himself.

LEMON: OK. Well, let me ask you this though. Because listen, as you said people are exhausted. It's true. They are. They have Trump fatigue. Right? They're just tired. But he's still riding a pretty good economy. What happens if it turns south? Then what?

BRUNI: Well, I mean, what I would change I would talk about the economy if I were a Democrat. I would talk about what I was going to do differently and how I might pull it out of its tailspin. I wouldn't personalize it to Donald Trump. Because if everything becomes a food fight, everybody descends to his level.

And I think the way, and David has talked about this a lot too so I think David is going to agree with me. I think the way for a Democrat to move forward is to model a much better kind of behavior, to model a more civic discussion, you know, to model a more collaborative approach rather than pitting everybody against each other all the time.

LEMON: What do you think of that, David?

AXELROD: Well, I do agree with that. I think people are going to be looking for the remedy to this migraine headache that won't go away. And they're going to be looking for calm. They're going to be looking for decency. They're going to be looking for, as Frank says, a better model of what the president should be.

And I don't think you have to bring the -- I don't think you have to bring the language of repudiation every single day. The only place where I slightly disagree with Frank is that I do think that you have to have an argument -- this is a choice.

Every election is a choice. And you have to be able to frame the choice, but I think the choice should be framed in terms of stability, decency, calm, reason versus what we have. I don't think it has to carry heavy judgment with it. I think people are making their own judgments. So, on that I thoroughly agree.

BRUNI: I think I would also say a Democrat should talk about broken promises, right? I mean, saying Donald Trump is indecent, saying Donald Trump is erratic, that's all stuff a voter can determine by him or herself. But broken promises. Go through what he said his presidency was going to be like and where he's fallen short because that's concrete.

LEMON: Frank, David, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Be sure to watch David Axelrod on "THE AXE FILES" Saturday night at 7 Eastern, "THE AXE FILES" right here on CNN. I appreciate it.

The president's attacks on Jewish voters are still making waves. My next guest calls what he said breathtakingly cynical and buffoonish and he knows what he's talking about. He's the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel. He's next.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump attacking Jewish- Americans who vote for Democrats, claiming they're being disloyal, disloyal to Israel.

Joining me now to discuss is Ambassador Daniel Shapiro who was U.S. Ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama. Thank you so much, ambassador. I really appreciate you joining us. You called President Trump's expectation that Jewish people vote for him because of his record on Israel breathtakingly cynical. Tell me why. DANIEL SHAPIRO, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, look, first

of all, the charge of disloyalty toward American Jews who vote for Democrats is outrageous and it does echo some of the worst anti- Semitic attacks throughout history, sometimes that have led to violence against Jews everywhere they've lived, so it deserves condemnation.

But even more than that, it deserves ridicule because it's a sign of President Trump's complete narcissism and childish expectation that the American-Jewish community will simply salute in obsequious appreciation for the gifts he thinks he's bestowed on us for the support he's given to Israel.

Now, American-Jews do support and appreciate United States' support for Israel, which comes from both parties. Mostly you would say, and you can't speak in monolithic terms because there is obviously a range of views. But mostly, they support a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and President Trump has largely ignored that.

But American-Jewish voters have also proven through decades of support for Democratic candidates in the 70 to 75 percent range that they care about civility in our politics, that they care about how immigrants and minorities are treated, that they care caring for our planet, about women's right to choose, about gun violence, about LGBT rights.

And on those issues President Trump is completely out of touch and out of sync with the American-Jewish community so his expectation that people will just fall in line and support him is just not going to fly.

LEMON: So, explain this to me and correct me if I'm wrong. Trump calls Jewish people disloyal to Israel, but you don't think that's what he really means?

SHAPIRO: Well, yes, he said on day two that what he meant was Jews are disloyal to the Israel or to the Jewish people if they vote for Democrats. As if he's any position to judge Jewish people's loyalty to their own faith or their people or to the state of Israel.

Of course, he has no standing to make such a judgment. But I think we know this president at this point in time well enough to understand what he really means. He really means that he deserves praise. It's his narcissism. It's his transactional nature. It's his insatiable desire for people to tell him how great he is.

That he thinks he has backed Israel by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, by recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory, by cancelling the Iran nuclear deal. Those are things, by the way, that make him popular in Israel and I don't begrudge Israelis if they agree with him.

But if he thinks that will make American-Jews simply snap to attention and support him, he just misunderstands the Jewish community in its entirety.

[22:30:06] LEMON: Yes. "The Washington Post" points out that Trump compares his unpopularity with Jews to the overwhelming support he gets from evangelical Christians. What does Trump not understand about Jewish-Americans?

SHAPIRO: Again, we shouldn't speak in monolithic terms. There are a wide range of views. But for decades, the American-Jewish community has voted 70 to 75 percent for Democrats. That's not going to change in 2020. In fact, every time President Trump opens his mouth, I think the numbers tick up. There's a wide range of things people care about when they come into the voting booth.

And many of them, by the way, are informed by their understanding of Jewish tradition and Jewish values and caring for the stranger, and caring for the less fortunate, and a society that looks after its weakest members. Other people may have a different understanding of Jewish informs this politics. And I don't begrudge anybody who views it differently.

But the evidence is that the vast majority of the American-Jewish community thinks in those terms. And when they think in those terms and think about Donald Trump, they're thinking about the antithesis of what they're looking for in political leadership.

LEMON: You're right. In 2016, 71 percent of Jewish voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, 23 percent for President Trump. And that's according to a Gallup poll. And maybe you're right. The numbers may be ticking up. I want to ask you about Jared and Ivanka. Jared has been Trump's point person for all things Israel in the Middle East, but they haven't been speaking out on this issue. Does their silence say anything to you?

SHAPIRO: Look. I don't know how that relationship works in that family and in the administration. So I am not going to judge people personally on that. I do think one of the things that's interesting is that President Trump's disconnect from the reality of how the vast majority of the American-Jewish community thinks in terms of politics may be related to the fact that he has a small circle of advisers, some of them Jewish.

And again, everyone's entitled to their own views. But because he hears their views echoed back to him in support of his own outlook on the world, on Israel, on other political matters, he thinks that that's what all American Jews think. And that's where he's really out of touch and out of sync. And again, for a reality-challenged president, I am not sure there's an issue on which he's more disconnected from reality than political behaviors and attitudes of the American-Jewish community.

LEMON: You were the U.S. Ambassador to Israel from 2011 -- excuse me, until the end of Obama's presidency. Relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were certainly not as warm as they are now with Trump. How do you see the main differences in the relationship?

SHAPIRO: Well, President Obama was a very strong supporter of the U.S. security partnership with Israel. He provided funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system and Israel purchasing the F-35 aircraft, and signed a $38 billion military assistance agreement. He also strongly pushed for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

And actually, Netanyahu was on board for that for several of those years. They had some disagreements about Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and that produced some public friction, and then, of course, there was the Iran nuclear deal which they disagreed on. It was a legitimate disagreement between two allies about how to deal with an issue that we both agreed needed to be dealt with, preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

President Trump is obviously much more in sync with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He has said he's for peace between Israelis and Palestinians but never talks about a two-state solution, hasn't really asked Israel to do anything on that. He's taken a number of steps that Israelis appreciate, as I said, and that's all very fine. He also cancelled the Iran nuclear deal.

So there's a lot more maybe agreement on some of those core issues. It appeared from the steps that President Trump took last spring, as Prime Minister Netanyahu was heading into an election that he wanted to actively engage to help the prime minister win that election. He did the recognition of the Golan Heights. He hosted him for a visit. He sent Secretary Pompeo to Israel.

It's interesting -- it will be interesting to see if President Trump takes a similar approach at the upcoming Israeli election, the rerun election that's going to take place in about three weeks from now.

LEMON: Yeah. Ambassador Shapiro, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

SHAPIRO: Good to be with you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president is feuding with Denmark over the prime minister's refusal to consider selling Greenland, gloating over praise from a right-wing conspiracy theorist and continuing attacks on four congresswomen of color. And that's just this week. There are people who predicted what a Trump presidency would be like back in the 2016 campaign. But some of those former rivals have now become allies.

And joining me now is CNN's Chris Cillizza.

Chris, good evening to you. Senator Ted Cruz, here he is predicting a potential conflict with Denmark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button. I mean, we're liable to wake up one morning, and Donald if he were president, would have nuked Denmark. That's not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Was Senator Cruz's statement in response to anything in particular Trump had done or said.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yeah. I remember watching it live, actually, Don. So that was right after Cruz had won the Iowa caucuses.

LEMON: Right.

CILLIZZA: Everyone thought, well, the Trump balloon is now burst. And remember that Trump was accusing Cruz of cheating in those Iowa caucuses and asking for a do-over.

LEMON: I remember.

[22:40:02] CILLIZZA: So that's the context there. And you can -- just quickly, you can hear reporters laughing when Cruz says he's liable to nuke Denmark. The truth is Cruz is just grasping at something. Who knew that he would...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, he's not nuking Denmark.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: But if you said to me what fight with our allies would we pick between Donald Trump getting elected. Now, Denmark would not be in the first 100 that I would name.

LEMON: One more prediction from Senator Cruz.

CILLIZZA: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Donald can't defend his own record. Whenever you point out what he's actually said, he just screams liar. He insults you. He attacks you. He makes it personal. And he gets very rattled. He doesn't like anyone pointing to his actual substantive records. But I think that's ultimately a sign of weakness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is undoubtedly what President Trump does. When and why did Senator Cruz change his tune about Trump?

CILLIZZA: Yeah. He was right in his analysis that Trump is fundamentally a bully, and that's who he's always been. Remember, Cruz took a long time to come around to Donald Trump, Don. I remember at the Republican National Convention, August of 2016, Ted Cruz is up on stage, gives a speech, he doesn't endorse Donald Trump. The crowd goes wild. He booed Donald Trump, goes wild. Well, he came around because guess what was coming up in 2018?

Ted Cruz's reelection race, guess who is really popular in the Republican Party in Texas, Donald Trump. So we remember the general election, right? Ted Cruz barely beats Beto O'Rourke. But the reason he didn't have a serious primary challenge is because he came around on Donald Trump and won Trump's support. That's the -- it's all politics.

LEMON: I am glad you reminded us of that convention moment. I remember that. It was pretty shocking.

CILLIZZA: It was remarkable. You thought they'll never patch things up, well.

LEMON: Another Texan rival now turned ally, Governor Rick Perry. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK Perry (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism, a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean spiritedness and nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen, Perry's one of the most stable members of the Trump cabinet in a White House known for a high turnover. How has he managed to stay on so long after such a stinging rebuke?

CILLIZZA: Yeah. I mean, it's remarkable to think, you know, we're four years on and he's the energy secretary. And he has been since the start of the Trump administration. How has he been able to stay on? Well, Donald Trump loves a redemption story, right? He loves the -- we used to be rivals, but Rick and I, we're good now. But the way that that works, Don, and this is true with almost everybody we're talking about.

The way that it works is if you capitulate to Trump. If you either apologize to him or you acknowledge he was really right, and that's how you get back in his good graces.

LEMON: Yeah. When you think about the constant attacks on the four congresswomen of color, comments about Jewish Democrats, listen, this is what Senator Lindsey Graham said. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R) FORMER PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Here's what you're buying. He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party. He doesn't represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Senator Graham is now one of Trump's most vocal defenders. Was he wrong about Trump representing his party? CILLIZZA: No. I mean, he meant what he said. I've told people this

all the time that Donald Trump is not really a Republican. I know there's an R after his name. I know that he ran as a Republican. But look at people who have been in the Republican Party for a long time, Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, you know, people who are pillars of -- John Kasich, people who are pillars of the party.

They're not all actively speaking out against Donald Trump. But what he represents is not conservatism of Paul Ryan, of John Boehner, of people who were longtime stalwarts of the party. I mean, it's just not close. I want to make, Don, if I can one other point. And your great people built a graphic for us. Look, it's not just Republican politicians who warned us about Donald Trump.

We knew about Donald Trump. I pulled these numbers in a 2016 exit poll. So Donald Trump wins this election, but he wins it with 33 percent of people saying he's honest and trustworthy. He wins it 64 -- two-thirds of people say he wasn't honest and trustworthy. He won that election, Don. This one is stunning to me, 38 percent of people saying he is qualified to serve as president.

These are not current numbers, folks. This is not from a recent CNN poll. This is from the 2016 exit poll, people who had just voted. We knew what we were getting. So how does he win is the question. He wins because people want radical change, and they are willing to vote for him, putting aside all of those concerns.

LEMON: Chris Cillizza, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, my friend.

LEMON: Rainforests in the Amazon are burning at an astonishing rate. And this is going to have an impact that -- all over the world. We're going to talk about that. That's next.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: With a world facing a worsening climate crisis, we could be on the verge of a massive environmental disaster in Brazil. Scientists say wildfires are raging across the Amazon rainforest at a record rate. Environmentalists blame ranchers and loggers who want to clear and use the land. Let's talk about this with wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin. Jeff, it's so good to have you on. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

JEFF CORWIN, OCEAN TREKS HOST: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Explain why what's going on in the Amazon right now -- is so disturbing and what the potential effects are for the entire planet.

CORWIN: Great question. First of all, you just said we're on the verge of an environmental catastrophe. Correction, we are in the midst...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We are in one.

[22:49:50] CORWIN: Of an environmental catastrophe. So what's the big deal about rainforests? Well, rainforests take up about 5 percent of our planet's surface, and they contain 60 to 70 percent of all life. And on a good day, Don, we lose 3,000 acres of rainforest every hour.

LEMON: Wow.

CORWIN: So this catastrophic loss of life is really unprecedented. And right now, with the onslaught of climate change, mixed with homesteading, and mining, and all that contributing deforestation, Brazil is on the verge to lose probably 60 percent of its remaining habitat within under a decade.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, you mentioned all those things about how much we're losing. But the Amazon rainforest produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen, and is often called the planet's lungs. That's according to the World Wildlife Fund. If it is irrevocably damaged, it could start emitting carbon instead, right?

CORWIN: Well, not only is it the lungs, the respiratory organ for planet Earth, Don. It is a natural carbon reservoir. We take carbon. We cut that rainforest down that is locked up, that's been sequestered in those trees. That carbon then gets liberated into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. So we are literally taking our natural nature solution as a climate change remedy and turning it into the problem.

LEMON: I am looking at these beautiful pictures and it is just hard to believe that it is happening, when you juxtapose that to the fire pictures. You have a lot of experience studying the rainforest. Many scientists and environmentalists agree that the rainforests are one of the best defenses against the threat of climate change. How important is the Amazon rainforest in trying to prevent the worst of climate change from occurring?

CORWIN: It is critically important, because not only is it a great reservoir for carbon, which is locked up in the material which makes up trees, and not only is it producing oxygen, but it actually, through the process of creating shade, is significant in controlling temperature for our planet. And it is also a part of our global hydraulic cycle, our water cycle.

So if we continue on this course, and then you integrate everything else, Don, that is happening on the planet. When you -- it used to be that in the north, we had the great environmental compass which was the United States. Well, we are no longer that. So Bolsonaro, who is the President of Brazil, has a no-holds-bar approach to the environment. He is basically the Trump of the south of Brazil.

LEMON: Interesting. The fire is starting to spread at a far quicker pace when the land is dry. Researchers say, though, that we've already seen more fires this year in the Amazon than ever before. And the driest part of the year, Jeff, is still to come. I honestly hate to ask you this question, but where do you see this headed? CORWIN: I think we're heading to a moment of reckoning that is going

to shake us in the 21st century. We are now, Don, in the -- what is argued to be the sixth extinction. And when you take, for example, that fact of what we're doing now in the United States, we've just pulled out all the teeth out of the Endangered Species Act, so we're no longer prioritizing our national natural heritage.

When you take what's happening with habitat loss like deforestation in rainforests, throw that in with the plastic waste issue around the world, the 10 billion pounds of trash we put in our oceans every year. Add that to the fact, Don, that in the next week or two, Greenland will have lost half a trillion tons of ice. You put that all together. It makes me weep for my children's future.

LEMON: Oh, boy. Jeff Corwin, thank you. I appreciate it. I'm sure we'll be talking more about this. Thank you for coming on and discussing this terrible, terrible tragedy.

CORWIN: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. Our breaking news tonight, a lot of shocking claims tonight from the CEO of Overstock.com in his interview with Chris Cuomo, Patrick Byrne says that he helped the FBI carry out what he calls political espionage, and admits that he had a relationship with accused Russian agent, Maria Butina. And there's a lot more. We're dig into that, his extraordinary claims. That's next.

[22:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Here are stories that we'll be covering this hour. Our breaking news, the CEO of overstock.com making some shocking claims tonight, saying he helped the FBI carry out what he calls political espionage, Patrick Byrne also admits he had an intimate relationship with accused Russian agent, Maria Butina. He had a lot more to say to Chris Cuomo tonight.

We're dig into it in just a moment. That, as President Trump's behavior is getting more and more erratic. Sources inside the White House telling CNN he's worried that the economy may take a downturn ahead of the 2020 election. Will that influence voters? And what might it mean in the Democratic presidential race? We're going to get some answers just ahead.