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President Trump's Questionable Claims At G7; President Trump Floats Hosting Next G7 At His Doral Club; Former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh Announces Run Against President Trump; Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay $572 Million For Its Role In Oklahoma's Opioid Crisis; Company Calls Decision "Flawed"; G7 Commits $20 Million To Protect The Amazon. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:18] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So, the H and H bomb stands for hurricane. Who knew?

John Berman here, in for Anderson.

And the reporting in "Axios" that President Trump has asked his AIDS on several occasions about the possibility of using nuclear explosions to stop hurricanes was in some ways the least remarkable piece of news to emerge from the G7 summit on the coast of France, which wrapped up earlier today. Kind of like trying to buy Greenland and cancelling a state visit to the ally that told you it was not for sale, which happened.

It is legitimately outlandish, but so much so, it ironically barely registers because to take it too seriously would be just too mind- blowing, so you move on. You play past it.

Tonight, though, there is far more from that summit that cannot be brushed aside so easily because it concerns legitimately serious stuff and because of what it says or continues to say about the president. It all came out today in a series of press encounters that saw the president make news on any fronts and we'll explore all of them tonight.

First, though, to set the stage when we left you on Friday, the president had just departed for France having sent Wall Street tumbling by leveling new tariff threats against China. Then he suggested he might have regrets about that. Then his staff said, no, his only regret was not being tougher. And then this morning, he got less tough.

Confusion aside, on China at least, the situation has not devolved in the last few days as far as we can tell. The two countries are apparently still talking, though, as you will see, the question of who precisely is doing the talking and at what level remains in dispute.

Here is the president this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we've had many calls, Secretary Mnuchin is here and you've had many calls over the last 24 hours, but certainly over the last 48 hours, we've had many calls, not just one. This isn't one. These are high level calls.

They want to make a deal. And, by the way, I think a deal will be made. But they want to make a deal.

REPORTER: So the Chinese are saying there weren't --

TRUMP: The Chinese are not saying that.

REPORTER: There were phone calls, sir, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Numerous calls.


BERMAN: Again, the Chinese foreign ministry said they were not aware of any specific calls in their briefing this morning, and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said there had only been, quote, communication and would not when pressed directly even say there had been any phone call let alone many high-level calls, raising questions about whether the president embellished his account.

He did however, no question, clearly embellish this.


TRUMP: The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un and I think she'd agree with me, he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.


BERMAN: And point of fact, she has never met the North Korean dictator, ever.

A spokesperson later said that because the president confides in the first lady so much, he feels that she has come to know Kim, too.

As for other dictators whom the first lady has met, the president once again took the dictator side of things. Here is some of what he said about Vladimir Putin and Russia which was kicked out of what was then the G8 for annexing Crimea.

Listen to how he explains what Russia did as he argues the case to invite Putin back.


TRUMP: They should be in. They were a president -- I'm not blaming him. A lot of bad things happened with President Putin and President Obama.

One of the things that happened was as you know, what happened in -- with a very big area, a very, very big and important area in the Middle East with a red line drawn and then President Obama decided that he was not going to do anything about it. You can't draw red lines in the sand. You just can't do it.

And the other was in Ukraine having to do with a certain section of Ukraine that you know very well where it was sort of taken away from President Obama. Not taken away from President Trump, taken away from President Obama.


BERMAN: Keeping them honest, not even Vladimir Putin has put it that way and to make it perfectly clear, he didn't take Crimea away from any U.S. president, he took it away from Ukraine and was penalized by the G7, including the United States, those are simply facts which the president disregards in favor of the story he's telling the world.


TRUMP: President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him, and he wanted Russia to be out of the, what was called the G8. And that was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. He was out smarted. President Putin outsmarted President Obama.

[20:05:01] Wait a minute.

And I can understand how President Obama would feel. He wasn't happy and they are not in for that reason.


BERMAN: Again, that is factually untrue, as was this.


REPORTER: Mr. President, were you able to attend the working session on climate and oceans earlier?

TRUMP: Yes, we're having it in a little while.


BERMAN: And point of fact, by the time the president said that, the meeting had already taken place as you heard.

His press secretary explaining it by saying quote, the president had scheduled meetings and by laterals with Germany and India so a senior member went instead. And you should believe her and not your lying eyes or this lying video which clearly shows the leaders of India and Germany, the ones the president was supposed to be meeting with, in the meeting that he skipped and right there is the empty spot at the table set aside for him, not that he needs to hear lectures on the environment because he says no one knows more about it than him.


TRUMP: And I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody that's I guess, I can say definitely because I've done many, many, many of them. More than anybody that's been president or vice president or anything even close to president. And I think I know more about the environment than most people.


BERMAN: Keeping them honest, filing environmental impact statements does not make you an expert on the environment, it makes you a potential polluter who has to show authorities how you plan to build something without hurting the environment, something like a golf course or as the president sees it, the site of next year's summit.


TRUMP: It's close to the -- we haven't made a final decision but it's right next to the airport right there, meaning a few minutes away. It's a great place. It's got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acreage, so we can handle whatever happens, so many people really like it. And plus, it has buildings, that have 50 to 70 units, so each delegation can have its own building. So, you have the seven various delegations that can have their own building.

So, a lot -- they can have buildings for the press. Very big. Great conference facility. We're thinking about it. They love the location of the hotel and they also like the fact it's next to the airport for convenience.


BERMAN: Wow, from the sound of that, you'd almost think the president was back in private life plugging one of his properties.

And you'd be right. He is. The Trump National Doral Country Club, his Trump National Doral Country Club. Somehow of all the summit locations in the entire country, the single best one is the one the president and his family own. The one that hasn't been doing so well lately and could really use a boost.

After all, it's got tremendous acreage like, you know, Camp David. It's close to an airport, you know, like Washington, New York, Chicago, Des Moines or St. Louis.

And get this -- it's got a hotel. I mean, how does that happen? A hotel and an airport nearby, too. Not that the president is concerned has his own aids have reportedly been that in addition to appearing to be a massive conflict of interest, it actually would be one. But he says he's the one making the sacrifice.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what? I've spent and I think I will in a combination of loss and opportunity, probably, it will cost me anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion to be president and the only thing I care about is this country. Couldn't careless, otherwise I wouldn't have done it.

People have asked me, what do you think it costs? And between opportunity, not doing thing -- I used to get a lot of money to make speeches. Now I make speeches all the time. You know what I get? Zippo.


BERMAN: Zippo. Nothing.

Now, on top of that, Doral is in hurricane country. That again, it's nothing that a few nukes couldn't handle.

Plenty to talk about. Joining us, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby who served as State and Defense Department spokesperson during the Obama administration. Also, former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. senator, Rick Santorum. He's currently a CNN senior political commentator. And Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and columnist for "USA Today."

Admiral, I want to start with you. You've been on trips like this before. I'm just curious, what does the world, what do world leaders take away when they see the president do this? The string of falsehoods, the fanciful statements that drift off into the oblivion? What's the takeaway for these leaders?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN DIPLOMATIC & MILITARY ANALYST: My guess is certainly, the foreign diplomats I've talked to, that they -- it just reinforces for them a view that they now have come to have over the last couple years that he can't really be relied upon, his word and our word, as a country can't be relied upon. And American leadership is also cannot be relied upon in the world.

And quite frankly, they are working around President Trump. They are working around the United States. You saw that play out fairly well here at this G7.

[20:10:03] BERMAN: Kirsten, to me, the small lies are almost inexplicable than the big lies. Why say that your wife has, you know, come to know Kim Jong-un and grow front of him when the two have never met? I'm inclined to ask why he does that. But how could you know?


BERMAN: What's the impact on that, though? Does it tell you that he does that?

POWERS: Well, I mean, I don't -- the question is does he think that she's met him? I mean, that's what comes to my mind. I don't know. Is it something that's necessarily a lie or is he confused and he believes that that happened, even though that's something so momentum it seems like you would remember that.

I think the biggest problem with this is it's an embarrassment to the United States. I mean, watching that press conference, you know, as John Kirby was just talking about, the other leaders are looking at this and seeing this, and they can't possibly take it seriously and I would assume that is a lot, causes them a lot of concern because the United States, of course, has been a country that has had a very important role in terms of leadership in the world. BERMAN: Senator Santorum, there are big portentous things at stake

right now around the world and perhaps number one in that list is this trade war that the president is in with China. Do you have any question from Friday to today, from Friday when he threatened to increase tariffs, from Friday when he called, you know, President Xi the enemy of the United States, to today where he was looking for a way to deescalate and pull back? Do you think the president is backing off?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the president is responding to the Chinese advice that said they wanted in this trade dispute, they don't want escalation, they want to calm the resolution.

BERMAN: That's what China always says. That's standard language, though, for China.

SANTORUM: Well, but I think the president is trying to respond to that. Look, I think the president has done I believe a very good job in getting China to the table here. I mean, this is, as I said many times, lots of administrations had the opportunity to take on China, and Republicans and Democrats for decades have known that China is infiltrating, is stealing our technology through espionage, all -- I mean, they are bad actors on the stage.

And I don't blame President Obama. He had a recession he had to deal with. I don't blame President Bush. He had a war he had to deal with.

But you go back to President Clinton, he had opportunities and a great economy to take on China and didn't do it. Now, the president has a good economy and this is the right time to take on China. Is it going to have an impact on the U.S. economy? Probably some.

But there's no better time when you have record unemployment, when you have record growth, that this is the time to take a little hit and try to win the long-term game. And the president is doing that and I give him high marks for trying.

BERMAN: I don't think anyone is arguing China is a bad actor. The discussion is whether the methods are the most effective way to move him -- move China off of that and also, who is paying for it. Kirsten, you wanted to get in there?

POWERS: No, I mean, I just I think the question is look, if it worked, I think, I don't know anybody that wouldn't support it, right? China obviously is a problem. It's been a problem long time and I think the Clinton administration actually did do a lot to challenge China, but it's a very tough nut to crack.

And so, I think the question is, how was this going make things better and I think that the impact on the economy potentially putting us into a recession is a pretty steep price to pay.

SANTORUM: I think it's over stating the case. I don't think we're near a recession. We had almost -- over 3 percent growth, if it knocks it down to 2 percent, we're just back to where president Obama was for eight years.

So, let's look at the reality the president is doing something maybe untraditional and I understand people don't like some of the tactics. But he's outwardly fighting the Chinese and I think we'll wait and see where we can get that agreement, the 150-page agreement back on the table with real teeth to stop China from don't this.

BERMAN: The results matter and so far there haven't been any.

Admiral Kirby, one of the things the president said today when asked directly about the fact you call Xi an enemy on Monday and today, he's a great friend, he's like that's just the way I negotiate. That's just the way it is.

KIRBY: Yeah, I don't know anything about negotiating trade deals but it is -- this is the whiplash effect I think in what's making the market so uncertain and unsteady, and also, frankly, it's worrying our allies and partners. Look, I think, you know, back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago, I agree that President Trump and administration have been tougher on China.

Militarily speaking, too, I applaud what they've done in the South China Sea to do these freedom of navigation operations.

[20:15:04] I think he would have found a very welcome audience to some of these ideas at the G7 if he had taken the opportunity but didn't do that. I mean, he almost went to France with no agenda and sort of let Macron and the rest run it. He actually could have I think gotten some solidarity behind some of the things he's trying to do.

Yes, they are worried about the trade war and where it's going and tariffs and I understand that. But there are things with respect to China that the Europeans agree with him on, about intellectual property theft, about cyberspace, and about the South China Sea. And I think he really missed an opportunity to broaden this discussion about China with allies and partners, and I think would have been sympathetic to some of those moves.

BERMAN: Admiral, as everyone departs or has departed the G7, do you think Emmanuel Macron is breathing a sigh of relief, glad it's over?

KIRBY: Yes, I think not only is he breathing a sigh of relief. I think he's probably patting himself on the back. I think he handled President Trump masterfully in this. He pulled him away from all the advisers and had a private lunch.

You know, he deferred to him about bringing Zarif into the discussion and I think when it comes to Iran, he actually got President Trump today to say that he's still willing to meet with Rouhani and issue any idea of regime change in Tehran. So, I think, especially on Iran, Macron should be -- should be commended what he got President Trump to sign up to.

BERMAN: All right. Admiral Kirby, thank you very much. Senator and Kirsten, stick around. We've got much for you. I want to drill down deeper into the question of holding the next G7 at the president's golf course. George W. Bush's top ethics lawyers joins us for that.

And later, new polling paints a whole new picture in the Democratic presidential race and could be a warning sign for Joe Biden, and a boost for Elizabeth Warren.


[20:20:48] BERMAN: We're talking about President Trump's trip to the G7 summit and his tentative plans to hold the next one at his Florida country club. What he said today wasn't his idea at all.


TRUMP: And when my people came back, they took tours and went to different places, I won't mention places but you'll have a list because they're going to give a presentation fairly soon. They went to places all over the country and they came back and said this is where I would like to be. Now, we had military people doing it, we had Secret Service people doing it. We had people that really understand what it's about. It's not about me. It's about getting the right location.


BERMAN: (AUDIO GAP) Richard Painter, top White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. He currently teaches at the University of Minnesota.

And, Richard, I want to start with you. You think the president hosting the G7 at his own resort would be illegal and violate the emoluments clause. Explain why you think that.

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, the emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits anyone holding a position of trust with the United States government to make something any profits and benefits from foreign governments. And two federal district courts have interpreted the emoluments clause in cases brought against Donald Trump to prohibit exactly this type of thing. Those cases were later dismissed because the plaintiffs were ruled not to have standing. But the interpretation of the emoluments clause stands.

This would be illegal. If he takes any money for hotel rooms, for food, for beverages, for golfing or anything else, it would be a clear violation of the United States Constitution.

Second, he's using his presidency to promote his own business. That's a conflict of interest entirely apart from the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

And the third problem here is that this is a president who has shown no interest in the key topics of the G7 meeting, including climate change. He's not willing to attend the meetings, although he totes himself as an environmentalist because he's filled out environmental impacts for golf course. (AUDIO GAP) the United States that this is going on. BERMAN: So, Senator Santorum, aside from legalities, what about being


SANTORUM: Well, I don't agree with the third point that was just made, but I think the first two points are legitimate points. I mean, the fact is that the president should not be doing this. He shouldn't -- it would be a violation of the law as far as I understand it.

I hope this is the last time he mentions it. I hope if anybody who did suggest to him -- I mean, it's just remarkable that someone would suggest that it would be held at his -- at Doral. Again, I hope that's not true and if it is true, I hope they put on end to it very quickly.

BERMAN: Rick, if you were working in the White House. At one point, you were rumored to be a possible chief of staff. I know it never happened.

But if someone came to you, White House staffer or the president himself and said, hey, let's hold the G7 at Doral --

SANTORUM: Hell no.

BERMAN: Hell no? What does it tell you then that the president is entertaining this?

SANTORUM: Look, I think this is, you know, there is a good and bad that comes with everybody. This is one of the things I scratch my head and wonder why the president doesn't see the obvious -- not just conflict of interest but how it could be used by his political opponents to undermine some of the good things that he's trying to accomplish there. And again, I'm disappointed that he even brought it up and I hope that it's the last we hear of it.

BERMAN: I don't think, Kirsten, it's going to be the last we hear of it. I can almost guarantee it's not the last we hear of it.

POWERS: Yes, I find it a little hard to believe that some secret service people came up with this idea. I think the president probably came up with the idea, and it's to your point, even if it was completely legal, completely on the up and up, it would be inappropriate. It would be very swampy.

You are not -- you are supposed to as president be always completely above reproach and you shouldn't be trying to financially benefit from a meeting, an official meeting of the United States.

[20:25:04] BERMAN: Richard, how is this different? You're so people can understand this and understand the distinctions here -- George W. Bush hosted world leaders at Crawford. Different presidents have hosted people at their homes. What makes this different?

PAINTER: He's making money off it. George W. Bush didn't charge rent to foreign governments at Crawford.

If Donald Trump wants to comp everybody and invite them in free of charge, give them rooms and drinks and food and golf and whatever entertainment he provides -- assuming it's legal -- I guess that wouldn't violate the emoluments clause. He'd create a lot of other problems because he's still promoting a for-profit business. But at this point, what we hear is that they want to use the facility as a commercial facility, presumably have the foreign governments pay for it.

That's a direct violation of the emoluments clause and it has nothing to do with presidents inviting foreign leaders to their own homes whether it be Kennebunkport, or Crawford or the Hyannis compound for the Kennedy family.

BERMAN: Kirsten, I covered a lot of campaigns and one thing has a bipartisan impact in any campaign or with either party, and that's when a candidate has the stink of corruption or has the stink of trying to pad his or her own pocket. It just hurts a candidate no matter what party it's in.

I'm curious if the Democrat should be more focused on this aspect of President Trump than other things that they are focused on.

POWERS: I'm sure it will be one of the many things they focus on, but I think that people have -- I mean, I don't think this is a secret. That this is who Donald Trump is. That so much of what he does is constantly with an eye towards making money if he can figure out a way to, you know, profit -- his family can profit off the presidency now or in the future.

I think a lot of the things he does in terms of his relation -- very bizarre relationships with various world leaders have a lot to do with his interest in his future business interest. So, I think it certainly is something they should focus on. I don't think it will be a center piece but it's obviously something that's highly problematic.

SANTORUM: Yes, the reality is that the president meant -- look, Doral is not doing well. Why? Because a lot of people don't like Donald Trump, particularly in the corporate world, and they're not using his facilities.

So, I think the president paid a price. I mean, that's a story to be told, too. But he doesn't do himself any good by doing things like this and like I said, please, Mr. President, stop. Please?

BERMAN: What does it tell you about his priorities, though, Rick, that he can't stop?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, look, I just think he's a promoter and that's what he does. I think that's just who he is and it's inappropriate. He shouldn't do it.

But I don't think that this president -- I disagree with Kirsten. I don't think he's here to make money off the presidency and I think he's losing money and as well he should. I mean, it's an important job and he should focus on, I think he does.

BERMAN: By the way, the White House and Trump Organization haven't furnished proof about losing money. But go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: But the reason -- if he is losing money, it's his own fault, right? I mean, you don't lose money because you're the president. You lose money because you say racist things for example or you, you know, accuse all Jews who vote for Democrats for being disloyal, for example. I mean, these are things he alienates people with.

And so, you know, it's not a forgone conclusion that being president would necessarily harm your business.

BERMAN: Rick, we're going to have to go. We'll take it up during the break.

Rick Santorum, Kirsten Powers, Richard Painter, thank you for being with us.

I do want to tell you that President Trump has just landed in the United States, back at Joint Base Andrews. There is Air Force One there. He will deplane momentarily.

Not impossible that he would speak to cameras upon leaving the plane shortly. Doesn't happen often but who knows with the way this trip has been going. So, we're going to keep our eye on that over the next few minutes.

Next, Joe Biden takes a hit at the polls, Elizabeth Warren gets a boost. New numbers and a conversation about what they mean when 360 continues.


[20:33:04] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Senator Bernie Sanders was in Pittsburgh today where he picked up a key union endorsement. He also got a boost in new polling from Monmouth University. It showed him in a three-way tie with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, with the former vice president down 13 points since last -- the last Monmouth survey.

That said, an average of several other recent polls show that former Vice President Joe Biden is in a much better position. And, again, these are national polls we're talking about in the primary campaign, of course, goes state by state. Still the movement does bear a closer look.

Joining us for that, Van Jones, former senior Obama White House advisor and host of CNN's "Van Jones Show." And, Van, with all the disclaimers, including that this poll has a margin of error of 6 percent, which is actually quite a bit, if you're part of the Joe Biden campaign and you've based this election on electability, how concerned are you that there is this poll out today which doesn't show you winning, which is supposed to be his thing?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, this is not a good poll for Biden and I do think that it speaks -- you have to look at the other polls, all that sort stuff. But, listen, first of all, look at the strength of the progressive block. You know, when you put Sanders and Warren together, I mean, that's almost half the party going for candidates that are extremely, extremely progressive, this kind of cuts against the idea that the only thing that matters is electability.

People may be recalculating what makes someone electable. I think the traditional wisdom has been you're electable if you're more appealing to moderates, if you can kind of get the independents. That narrative was really carrying Biden along.

I think now you're starting to see people make the case. It's going to be somebody who can -- you're electable if you can electrify, that you've got to be able to rally up the base and you got to be able to bring new people in, young people in and give a reason to come to the polls. And under that rational, certainly Elizabeth Warren looks very attractive, certainly Bernie is able to hang on.

[20:35:03] If I were in the Biden camp, I would be very concerned about the fact that -- right now, he's holding his own in the top three against a whole bunch of other people but look at that progressive block.

BERMAN: Let's talk about Elizabeth Warren for a second here, because there's been a focus on the crowds. Now, crowd size is often controversial when you're covering elections because it doesn't always mean that the person is generating tons and tons of support but she had 12,000 at a rally, some 15,000 I think at a rally in Seattle.

A lot of people are showing up to Elizabeth Warren events and you combine that with the strong showing and this poll and other polls which have shown her consistently inching up. What does that tell you about the Warren campaign?

JONES: Listen, she's the most impressive person on the scene right now because you got to remember, she was written off for dead. She slipped on the Pocahontas banana peel four or five different times. She couldn't figure out a way to shake it off. She's, you know, released her DNA stuff that made it worse.

People were not talking about Elizabeth Warren six or seventh months ago. And yet she's somehow has been able to clawed her way back, climbed her way back and people are excited about Elizabeth Warren.

Listen, The Rock, no less than The Rock on the season premiere of "Ballers" was reading an Elizabeth Warren book. Now, this is -- you know, that gives you a sense of how far she's broken through to the culture. They were tweeting back and forth.

Listen, she is making inroads everywhere. She's not making a bunch of enemies. She's not making mistakes. She's really, really doing something extraordinary right now.

BERMAN: The Warren, Sanders, you call it a block. Now, I happen to think that their coalitions don't line up exactly one to one. I think that Bernie Sanders does --

JONES: Sure enough.

BERMAN: -- better about non-college white men. She does better with college educated white women. And there's not a one for one lineup there. But how long do you think they can survive this mutual non- aggression path that they have now?

JONES: Look, I don't know. It can't last forever. So far they are benefiting from each other because they are stretching out the window of ideas. They're stretching that over tone window where ideas that were completely off the table, even four years ago, even six years ago are now firmly considered mainstream ideas in Democratic Party. They both have been pulling on that end of the rope together.

But at a certain point, they're going to have to turn around and square off with each other. But right now, they're doing all of that to the detriment of all the moderates. The moderates who happen to divide the pie up while Biden holds on to a big chunk. The rest of them are way down there in a single digit.

Now, listen, you do see some movement from Cory Booker starting to climb and creep a little bit there. That's interesting. But everything else, I mean, it looks like Elizabeth Warren, it's the summer of Elizabeth Warren. That's what she got to call it.

BERMAN: And last question, Van, this next debate and the cut off for the next debate I think is tomorrow, actually we'll have just 10 candidates. Do you think that's where the race is now or they're really even fewer at this point that have a legitimate shot?

JONES: Look, I think we all know it's probably down to four or five. I mean, you know, somebody can do something interesting but right now I think you're looking at those top three, those top four. Something amazing would have to happen to change that.

BERMAN: Van Jones, great to have you. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.

JONES: I'm glad to be here.

BERMAN: We're going to switch sides, a new Republican candidate wants to unseat President Trump, yet at one time he supported him and he has a long history of racially charged comments himself. I'm going to speak with former Congressman Joe Walsh, next.


[20:42:08] BERMAN: Despite President Trump's high approval among Republicans, he is facing a new challenger for the 2020 nomination, conservative radio host and former one-term Tea Party congressman, Joe Walsh, is the second Republican to say he will run against the President.

Now, Walsh certainly drew controversy with remarks about African- Americans and false claims about President Obama. Among his notable tweets over the years, this one from just last year that reads in part, "I have a right to call Obama a Muslim." Months later he wrote, "Obama got elected because he's black, not because he accomplished anything significant." And in 2017, there is this part of a tweet, "I have a right to say blacks are lazy."

Joining us now was Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh. Congressman, thanks for being with us. And we've had a chance to talk a lot over the last two weeks.


BERMAN: And you've apologized for these past statements, which is notable. I do want to ask you this question, though. Given that you've apologized, why do you think people should overlook your past and send your (ph) rhetoric not the President's?

WALSH: Well, and again, John, just some context here. So probably in the last six years, I've tweeted 40,000 times. There are probably a few hundred tweets that you and I would scratch our heads about. I don't apologize for every tweet. When it's warranted, I will.

Those tweets that you mentioned at the beginning, I'm a big free speech supporter and I up hoar political correctness. So I'll say things like, you know, well, I should have a right to say that white people are this or Christians are this. I'm a pretty equal opportunity offender when it comes to free speech.

But to your broader point, no, everything I've tweeted, I own. And if there is a tweet that I need to apologize for, John, I will. I'll own it and regret it.

BERMAN: You said today, one of the things you said today is you've tweeted racist things in the past, but you don't think it makes you a racist?

WALSH: No. I think, john -- I think we're all a little bit racist. We've all said racist things. I'll bet if you and I went through everybody's Twitter feed, we're going to find things that are objectionable and offensive. I think we all have. I know when I look back at some of my tweets over the years, because I was so outspoken, yes, I've tweeted some racist things, on purpose, no.

BERMAN: Blacks are lazy. I mean --

WALSH: No, no, no, that's -- but, John, I didn't say that because I meant it. Whites are privileged. I mean, I used that as an example and I've used that as an example with any racial group. I don't believe that. The point I was making, in America, you should have a right to say anything.

BERMAN: You know, Kurt Vonnegut wrote, you are what you pretend to be so be careful what you pretend to be. I get the distinct you're trying to make there, but I think some people may look at it and say it's too cute. That said --


BERMAN: -- you've apologized and explained that. You are where you are sitting here running for president tonight. We looked at your campaign website for policy positions right now and there's not much up there, if anything, about policy right now. So policy-wise, how would you be different than President Trump?

[20:45:05] WALSH: It's a great question because I understand -- remember, I'm running against Trump because he's morally unfit, period. It's about Trump. It's not about the issues, it's about Trump. But on the issues, I believe in a wall Trump hasn't built a wall. I believe in border security, Trump has botched the border. The border is a bigger mess now than it was when --

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) of the President on immigration?

WALSH: If you want to call that to the right. But, again, I don't believe Trump is anywhere to the left or right. Trump is only about Trump. I went to Washington 10 years ago to do something about the debt and deficits. This President is increasing the debt more than Obama did.

BERMAN: Would you back off his tax cut?

WALSH: Well, I -- yes, that was a horrible tax cut. I would have probably -- I believe in cutting taxes, that was a bad tax cut. I would have given a middle class payroll tax cut. Tariffs are horrible policies. Americans, farmers, everybody is hurt by this tariff reform right now. I could go on. But, yes, I may -- I believe in limited government and balanced budgets, that's not what this guy is.

BERMAN: So you've been in the race for 24 hours, not even by 36 hours? I know it feels like a long time.


BERMAN: What's the impact? I mean, I've been curious about this because you're a conservative radio talk show host and I have a hard time believing that your audience will like the idea that you're running against the President. So what is the impact been on your radio show?

WALSH: 80 percent to 90 percent of my audience supports the President. I just found out that I lost my national radio show, so that's gone. But I figured that might happen, John.

BERMAN: You lost it why?

WALSH: I don't know why. I just got a notice before I came in the studio. I'm running for president. I oppose this President. Most of my listeners support the President. It's not an easy thing to do to be in conservative talk radio and oppose this President. I knew that, John, when I made the announcement yesterday that it could be in jeopardy.

BERMAN: So no more radio show at all for you?

WALSH: No more radio show, but that's OK. I'm going to campaign full-time because again, this President is -- John, this was a difficult thing to do. Yes, but I believe it's urgent because this President is a danger. We cannot let him get elected for another four years.

BERMAN: Joe Walsh, thank you for coming in tonight.

WALSH: Thanks, John. I always enjoy it.

BERMAN: Appreciate the conversation.

WALSH: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, up next, a landmark ruling, a judge finds a major company responsible for one state's opioid crisis.


[20:51:23] BERMAN: A landmark court ruling, a judge in Oklahoma has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for pushing doctors to prescribe opioids and downplay the risk of addiction.

Action the state said it helped fuel the state's opioid crisis, yes, we're talking about the company Johnson & Johnson known for baby shampoo and other family friendly products, which also has a pharmaceutical division, and Johnson & Johnson has denied any wrongdoing. It calls the judge's decision flawed and will appeal the ruling.

Chris Cuomo joins us now with more on this and a preview of what's coming up on "Cuomo Prime Time." Counsel, let me ask you this. Johnson & Johnson says that their product is government approved and FDA regulated, so why, then, are they being charged and forced to pay a fine over it?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well, there are two answers to that. The answer, in fact, is because the judge found in Oklahoma they violated the state nuisance law. And there's a very interesting reckoning of it. Obviously, the judge accepted the attorney general, the state's case that nuisance law doesn't have to be in the confines of messing with our property. My dog messing around in your garden, creating a nuisance of trespass, and one way or another, that this can qualify, too, because it's affecting people's enjoyment of life.

The other reason is, if you read the facts here in the findings, how they sold and marketed the drugs in convincing doctors that what they think is addiction really isn't and they need to prescribe more in those cases, not less. And it's really a solicitation, it's really a fraud, but those are harder cases to make.

So the question then becomes, will it stick? We've never seen a case like this. And if it sticks, John, and companies can be held responsible for their role in addiction, things could change.

BERMAN: Quickly, what do you have coming up on "Cuomo Prime Time"?

CUOMO: We're going to go big on this, because I think it's really important. The piece of the responsibility of the companies has always been big. We also have Matt Schlapp, leading conservative voice. We'll be getting after it with him about the state of play on the left, on the right, and we'll be talking about the polls on the left. I can't believe Biden's in a three-way tie.

BERMAN: All right, Chris Cuomo, counselor, thank you very much. See you in a few minutes.

Up next, a new aerial view of the devastation from the fires in the Amazon rainforest. We'll get an update on the firefight from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.


[20:57:16] BERMAN: Global money being pledged to help those affected by huge wildfires burning in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. The G-7 nations will set up a $20 million emergency fund. And the environmental foundation created in part by actor Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $5 million.

Meanwhile, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh's team recorded this video during an aerial tour of the fire. Brazilian officials say every minute the flames destroy one and a half soccer fields.

Nick Paton Walsh joins us now with the very latest. So, Nick, you've seen how bad it is. How can anyone begin to tackle this?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's extraordinary. I mean, often, you can't see the problem because of how dense the smoke is. And we flew over areas that we have only reached by getting over them in a plane. There are no roads connecting them.

So this operation when it gets underway and we see Brazilian military cargo planes above us is going to have to be enormous or perhaps depend on some kind of natural response like massive consistent rain.

There's been drops of it here and supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro have tried to suggest on social media that might be tackling the problem, but it simply won't. 43,000 troops here will need massive additional support.

Brazil has been willing to accept Israeli help, but it seems to be shunning the $20 million or so that the world's seven richest nations managed to scramble together, a pretty pitiful sum. I'm not sure if that will even be allowed into the country. John?

BERMAN: Shunning the $20 million. They don't want the $20 million?

WALSH: It seems that way. He didn't specifically say that, but in a speech he gave to journalists, he was very angry at the media and also at President Emmanuel Macron, with whom he'd been in a bit of a spat all day, ever since the Brazilian president commented on an offensive meme about the French president's wife. And then the French president said they hope eventually Brazil would get a president who's up to the job. So, no real love between Brazil and Paris. The question really moving forward is whether that stops Brazil from letting people in who might help them tackle the fires. You get a slide sense maybe Brazil is trying to downplay the problem at this point, but also plays to Bolsonaro's base, John.

BERMAN: You know, these pictures really are stunning and terrifying in their own way, Nick. Why are the fires so bad right now?

WALSH: Some say it is particularly bad because of the dry season, but most activists and most scientists who've looked at this problem outside of Brazilian government circles say very clearly, this is down to deforestation.

This is because so much land has been cleared, so much licensed has been given to farmers to create agricultural land from the forest by the Bolsonaro government's lacks policy toward the Amazon doing it as a resource to make people rich.

That, in fact, that's dried the ground out, kept less moisture in it, and made it more susceptible to fires if they occur. And also others say, too, fires are the first step in deforestation. You burn the land, then you clear it, then you put cattle on it, then you make your money and your sell your beef.

So, there's a process happening here which could permanently damage the ecosystem of the Amazon. We all depend on it for our oxygen. The question is, is it nearing at tipping point where the dryness caused by deforestation on fires becomes irrevocable and causes a sort of self-fulfilling cycle of damage here? More fires every single year. We just don't know, John, but it's fair to stay close.

BERMAN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for being there and showing us what's going on.

The news continues now, so I'll hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time."