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Dave Chappelle Hosts Benefit Concert in the Wake of Dayton Shooting; Trump Says He's Having Second Thoughts on Escalating the China Trade War; Macron Sparks Confusion by Inviting Iran's Foreign Minister to G7; Interview with Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) on G7 Summit. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 25, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:53] ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Alex Marquardt, in for Ana Cabrera.

Tonight, we are hearing from one of the biggest names in comedy, Dave Chappelle, as he headlined a benefit concert in his home state of Ohio following the mass shooting in the city of Dayton that left nine people dead. The star-studded event brought out some of the biggest names in entertainment including Jon Stewart, Kanye West and Stevie Wonder. Dave Chappelle, telling the crowd this event was meant to bring awareness to the plague of mass shootings taking place across America. Take a listen.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Today, we're going to show the world that nothing will get us down. Dayton, Ohio, no matter what's going on, no matter how tough these times get, we hold our heads up high because we know where we are from. O-H.

CROWD: Ohio.

CHAPPELLE: Shout out to Kanye West for being here this morning. I got friends that flew in from all over this country to be here today. They didn't ask for a dime or a dollar. Just here to tell the city that they love you. And we're not just doing this for our city. We're doing this for every victim of every mass shooting in our country.


MARQUARDT: CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me now from the concert.

Polo, you just spoke with Dave Chappelle. What did he have to say?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He basically said that this is much more than just a block party, Alex. You know, for many people, Dave Chappelle is a comedian, is an actor. For many people he is a neighbor. He lives just outside of the city. So the events of that day certainly hit very close to home. So he says that this is meant to really pay tribute to the memories of those nine people who died on this very street. But also, to remind the rest of the country and world that in Dayton, neighbors help neighbors. So here's a bit of the conversation that we had.


SANDOVAL: For those who aren't here, what -- how can you best describe that magic that's happening out there, specifically to Dayton?

CHAPPELLE: You know, Dayton had a tough year, man. We had a Klan rally this year. We had a tornado tear up the north side of the city. And then that shooting happened. And I think that the -- just locally, there's a determination to not let that define us. And, you know, to shake the fear.

I think a lot of people have -- you know, maybe even reasonable fear, man, because the climate is so out of hand. And every once in a while I think it's good for neighbors to reaffirm to one another that we're neighbors. Like no matter what it is, you know, we're neighbors. And these people, they have been wonderful neighbors for me, man. Like this area in Dayton, it's like one of the most viable blocks in the city. It's where everyone comes, like, to relax, entertain themselves. You know, our kids come down here and hang out and party.

So, for something like this to happen, you know, you really have to take a moment like that and I think the best way to honor the people that were slain and even injured in this is to pick yourself up and to pick your city up and be better than you were before. You know, otherwise, you don't want anyone to die in vain or suffer in vain. A lot of people are suffering. It really affected the community a lot. But they way we're coming out of it I think is what makes it such a great place to live.

SANDOVAL: You said something out there but when things got started that I think the rest of the country would have probably been extremely excited to hear and pleased to hear, which was, this is for every victim of every mass shooting in the country, but specifically because it happened on the heels of El Paso. So can you just elaborate on that a little bit? Your message to the people who may not --

CHAPPELLE: I mean, I grew up in Washington. So that city always makes the news. I moved to New York. And that city always makes the news. And Los Angeles can't stop talking about itself. These people are often forgotten. You know what I mean? And then, something like this happens in your city and you think of all the other times it happened, it makes all very real. You realize these aren't numbers. These are people's lives. And it hurts. Like not even in a political way but just in a human way. It's like, hopefully, we can usher in an era where people are more kind to each other and treat each other better.

[20:05:01] SANDOVAL: When you got that phone call that morning, Dave, what went through your mind when you found out that it happened 16 miles from your home?

CHAPPELLE: I couldn't believe it. I was getting ready to go on stage. I was going on tour with Joe Rogen and I got a CNN alert on my phone that said that there was a shooting in Dayton. I didn't know the scope, I didn't know the size. I didn't find out until later when I got off stage. And in the next morning, I called the mayor and you know, this began to happen. Like it wasn't -- this happened almost immediately.

Like people around here, man, they are scrappy people. They get up and they get it done. And what they were able to do this week and the way the community has come out to support this, it's a show of force. It's like good people got to be louder than bad people. This country is filled with good people. And the good ones got to make some noise. Because the bad ones are getting too much spotlight.

SANDOVAL: Finally, for me, Dave, what do you hope -- after everything is said and done tonight, what do you hope still lasts and if anything continues to grow whether it's politically or socially? What do you hope lasts after this?

CHAPPELLE: Man, politically, I could care less at this point. I mean, it's ridiculous. But socially, man, I think that people do need to understand just the ethics of being a neighbor, of being a friend. I think we just got to be kind to each other. Like deliberately and willfully kind, even when it's hard to do or if you're afraid to do it. Somebody got to put their goddamn dukes down and so we can live better lives. So that's what we hoping we can start.


SANDOVAL: And Chappelle made it very clear to me that it is not just his voice. In fact, he called many fellow artists to come here and to be part of the community, particularly today. And that's exactly what happened. Kanye West, somebody who was seen around the community as well. So Chappelle really trying to make that point that it was not just him. It is also others and really it all comes down to the community and potentially people out there that can help by donating to Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund which is one of the most alive places as you can see, Alex. The energy is high. I believe what really happened here two days -- three weeks ago.

MARQUARDT: Yes. Nice to see some happiness there.

Polo Sandoval, our big thanks to you. Wonderful interview with a proud Ohioan, trying to raise awareness today and bring some joy to a community that has seen so much pain.


[20:11:05] MARQUARDT: Now to the G7 summit which this year is taking place in the south of France. It's the annual gathering where several of the world's most powerful leaders are getting together. Today's agenda was chockful of back-to-back meetings before ending with a working dinner, where this family photo, as it's known, was taken. And it was during one of those earlier face-to-face talks that there seems to be something that we don't normally see from President Trump. An admission of sorts that he got something wrong. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. For sure. Why not. Might as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Second thoughts, yes?

TRUMP: Might as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.


MARQUARDT: But then within minutes, the White House claimed in a statement that the president had been misinterpreted.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president was asked this a couple of times and he said it a couple of times that he's having second thoughts.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think we're not cleaning up anything. I want to be clear. The president, when we saw how this was being reported, the White House put out a statement to make very clear --

ACOSTA: We just quoted him.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you spoken to him directly about it?

MNUCHIN: Yes. Absolutely.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did he say exactly, sir?

MNUCHIN: Again, he said he was not having second thoughts about putting on the tariffs. If anything, he was thinking about raising them.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mixed messages are creating confusion for leaders who are here at the G7.

MNUCHIN: I don't think there's any confusion.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They can't understand what the president is saying --

MNUCHIN: Let me say, these meetings have been going great.


MARQUARDT: CNN's senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is live with us from Biarritz.

Jim, as the White House talks about really further inflaming this trade war with China, what have you heard in terms of reaction from fellow world leaders attending?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I must say, Alex, that first statement by President Trump really got things going here because it was such a departure from his attitude that the readers thought they were going to come -- going to confront here at this summit. So I suspect that initially there was some relief to hear him speak like that. But then afterwards when the White House corrected things and put things back on course, the leaders, I think, probably were a little bit disappointed.

It should be said that President Trump's complaints about trying to have some merit as far as some of these leaders are concerned, especially in the area of intellectual properties and whatnot. However, they believe and several of them have told Mr. Trump directly that they think a trade war is really the wrong way to go at it. And they put up protectionism. It's going to be something that hurts all of their economies or it has begun to hurt their economies. And as a consequence, he heard an earful while he was here from the other leaders who say it's the wrong approach -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: And Jim, one of the other things that really got this weekend started, this summit started, was the case of Iran being invited by the French President Emmanuel Macron. White House officials have described it as a curveball. How did this come about? And what was accomplished in terms of what Iran was there to talk about?

BITTERMANN: Well, it was the second big surprise of the day, Alex. It was when suddenly we learned that Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, had flown to Biarritz and had joined the sidelines of this summit. Joined Emmanuel Macron, the French president, as well as his foreign minister and other officials, on the sidelines of the summit.

Macron orchestrated this whole thing. He told President Trump yesterday at their tete-a-tete luncheon that this was going to happen. But still, Americans felt -- the American officials felt like they had been dealt a curveball on this because that hadn't been part of the original planning. Now what Macron was up to, I think, because he had met with Zarif earlier this week in France, what he was up to was to try to get some kind of ice-breaking move going here.

[20:15:07] The French are very much on the idea along the lines that they want to deescalate the kind of conflictual talk that you're hearing between the United States and Iran. So this was probably the aim of Macron.

What his intention was by bringing Zarif here and inviting him, unknown because really what happened was that he came here, he met with Macron and the other officials, but he'd already done that earlier in the week. So if he had been hoping to meet with American officials, it wasn't on the cards -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Right. And officials -- officials from Germany and Britain were also briefed, but as you say, Jim, no Iranians met with any Americans.

Jim Bittermann, staying up late for us in Biarritz in France. Thanks very much.

Now joining us is Democratic Congressman John Garamendi from California. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Good to be with you.

MARQUARDT: I want to start with this last-minute invitation that we're just talking about with Jim Bittermann by the French President Macron to Iran's foreign minister over there at the G7 summit. The White House had been aware. We understand that they learned later. They have called it a curveball. They did not know Iranians met with anybody from the American delegation. But the Europeans, as we saw and others, are clearly interested in keeping Iran in the fold. And more than anything, keeping the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA going.

But what does this say that Iran would fly to the G7, meet with France? What does it say about how isolated the U.S. is on the issue of Iran?

GARAMENDI: Well, you just said it so very, very well. When the president unilaterally pulled out of the joint JCPOA, that was the nuclear deal with Iran, he left our allies, the Europeans, British, French, Germans, the Russians, and the Chinese, he left them hanging out there. He went off all by himself and pulled America out.

Now those other countries have done their very best to try to keep the deal together because in their view, and in mine, the deal actually was preventing Iran from moving forward with its nuclear bomb program. Now Iran has plenty of other problems. They clearly have terrorist operations in the area. They are clearly a bad set of actors. Nevertheless, the Europeans sent a very clear message or at least the French here sent a very clear message to the president that he is on his own here and that the Europeans, together with the Russians and the Chinese, are going to try to keep the JCPOA intact, in place.

Whether the president is going to be successful with his maximum pressure campaign, it appears rather doubtful right now.

MARQUARDT: Another area, Congressman, that the U.S. seems to be on its own, the Trump administration is the question of bringing Russia back into the G8. This year, as we have noted, is a G7 summit. Russia was kicked out after they invaded and annexed Crimea. So what do you make of the president's call to readmit Russia and recreate it as a G8?

GARAMENDI: Well, first of all, the policy question, it is just really a real bad policy. No doubt Russia is a bad actor. Not only did they annex -- invade and annex Crimea using their little green man and then the regular military, they also used their little green men in an invasion of eastern Ukraine, a fight that is still going on. It's a war going on in that area, a very low-level right now.

Now the Europeans were correctly very, very concerned that Russia was on the move to put pressure on the Eastern European countries that could easily have invaded, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. So, the United States pushed back. We have done a lot in that area. We have increased troop -- our own troops. We have also moved to strengthen NATO in the area. A little later next month, I'll be going there with my fellow Armed Services Committee members to strengthen the alliance and to make sure that we have sufficient resources in place in Eastern Europe to make it very clear to the Russians, no, you cannot do that, yes, you must leave Ukraine.

Until those things are done, then we should never allow Russia back into the G7. The president is just plain wrong here. Now that's on the policy side. On the political side, what's going on here with President Trump and Putin? What is this relationship? What does Putin have over this president that causes this president to do some really bad policy decisions?

[20:20:02] MARQUARDT: All right. Congressman John Garamendi, we've got to leave it there. Thanks so much for speaking with me tonight.

GARAMENDI: Good to be with you. Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Well, as the 2020 race heats up, there are two Democrats sounding off on CNN tonight. We will have a bit of that next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


MARQUARDT: The 2020 presidential race speeding along here tonight on CNN with a town hall doubleheader. Voters themselves getting in on the action asking tough questions and pressing two candidates on their plans for how they would lead the country.

First up with CNN's town hall with Steve Bullock, the Montana governor who has been pitching himself as a moderate with a successful track record in a deep red state. Bullock says health care is a very personal issue for every American family.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My son Cameron is -- is now 12 years old. He had a heart attack within 24 hours of being born. He had to be life-flighted out to Salt Lake where we spent the first month of his life hoping he would live. Because we had a quality health care plan, that's what's allowed Cam to be where he is today.

Recognize that the greatest stride that we made since Medicaid and Medicare was Obamacare. I want to build on that, not start all over. And I think you could do that with a public option.

[20:25:07] If we can't win back places that we lost, we're not going to win this election. We could run up the numbers 2 million more in New York and guess what, if we can't win places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, we're not going to win this election. And I'm the only one in the field that actually won in a Trump state.


MARQUARDT: CNN also hosted a town hall with the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio who had some fiery words on immigration. Take a listen.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For decades, there's been an effort to demonize immigrants. It's been all about color. Remember, Donald Trump literally first day of his campaign attacked Mexican Americans. And described them as criminals, as an entire population. So this has always been about race and it should not be but it has been.

If we recognize that there's many, many people in this country who happen to be American citizens, many of them happen to be white, who they themselves are legitimately struggling, their American dream is not working out, they are economically challenged, the next generation is not doing as well as they hoped, they have a lot of debt, there's a lot problems in their lives, they are frustrated. I don't blame them for being frustrated.

But they've been told for years and years the immigrants did it to them. And I want to be blunt about it. The immigrants didn't do that to you. Wall Street did that to you. The big corporations did that to you. The guy in the kitchen or the guy in the fields didn't have the power to do that to you. Only those who had the power and the wealth could create an economy so unfair to working people and middle class people.


MARQUARDT: Tonight's two town halls hosted by CNN also included a few lighthearted moments. Watch.


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: OK. Let's just get the elephant in the room out of the way. You are really tall.



DE BLASIO: We have a height differential.

CABRERA: Just a little bit. I think you're more than a foot taller than me officially.

DE BLASIO: But we're all Americans.


MARQUARDT: Both de Blasio and Bullock are in fact polling near the bottom of the pack, trying hard to qualify for the next Democratic debate by this week's deadline.

Now just ahead, as the situation in the Amazon rain forest worsens, there is a small glimmer of hope. I'll be talking to a member of the Colorado-based super tanker team brought in to fight the flames.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: The sprawling Amazon rainforest spans eight South American countries. Here is some new disturbing video taken from above earlier today, over just one small part of the Brazilian Amazon. CNN got a firsthand look at the fires ravaging this vital ecosystem which has been called the lungs of the planet. It produces 20 percent of the world's oxygen.

In response to the fires, Brazil's president says that he is sending 43,000 troops to help fight those fires. Bolivia is also stepping up. Their president appoints 2,000 soldiers and 450 firefighters to battle the blazes, in his region. Bolivia is also now getting help from a Colorado-based group that has sent what is known as a V-L-A-T, that stands simply for a Very Large Air Tanker.

Now, this super tanker that you see right there is specifically designed -- it's a 747-400. It's capable of dropping more than 19,000 gallons per trip, 19,000 gallons. Company president Dan Reese, now joins me via Skype from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Dan, thanks so much for joining me tonight. Tell me, when your team arrived on the scene, what have they seen? What have you seen since you got there?

DAN REESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL SUPERTANKER (via Skype): Well, our first indication that we had our hands full was when we were inbound early that morning, flying over the country inbound to Santa Cruz. There was just a tremendous amount of fire and all of us on board have seen fire and we have seen fire at night. And we were coming in at probably 38,000 feet, so from high altitude.

And we were seeing just a lot of fire on the ground. So, during the daylight hours when the crews got up and flew, it was evident that there was just a tremendous amount of fire on the ground, in the country, so a little bit overwhelming.

MARQUARDT: Yes, can you speak a little bit more to that? I mean, this clearly is not your first rodeo. Your company has gone to places like Alaska, California, Chile, Israel, to name others. Do you have any sense of the scale, how what you have seen compares to what you are about to be attacking down there in the Amazon?

REESE: Well, my comparison really is, firefighting that I've done in the United States. So, I retired from Cal fire in our air operations program there. So, I have seen my share of fire in the United States, specifically mostly in California, so I can compare it to those fires.