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THE SITUATION ROOM
Pharma Giant Johnson & Johnson Slapped With Landmark Ruling; President Trump Creates Confusion And Lies At The G7; No-Show For Trump At Climate Change Meeting At G7; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Asked About Trump's Performance At The G7 Summit; Trump Returns To The U.S. After Sowing Discord And Confusion At G7 Summit On China, Iran, And More; Warren Drawing Largest Crowds Of Her Campaign As New Polls Show No Clear Democratic 2020 Front-Runner; Trump Says He's Seriously Considering His Own Golf Resort As Site of Next G7. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 26, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Landmark decision. An Oklahoma judge finds Johnson & Johnson more than half a billion dollars for its part in the states opioid crisis. The money will go to relieve the impact of the epidemic which has ravaged the state.
Tilting at windmills. President Trump departs the G7 leaving behind confusion and a trail of falsehoods. He says China called wanting to make a deal but that seems to be news to China and he skipped an urgent climate crisis meeting saying he is not going to lose America's wealth on environmental dreams or windmills.
Blaming Obama. President Trump again goes off on former President Obama blaming him for Russia's ouster from what used to be the G8 and saying he was outsmarted by Vladimir Putin.
And OK, Doral? President Trump declares that his own Doral golf club in Florida maybe the best place to hold the next year's G7 summit which the U.S. is slated to host while suggesting he wouldn't make money if the event were held there. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
Breaking news, an Oklahoma judge has ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay more than half a billion dollars for its role in the state's opioid crisis. It could be the tip of an iceberg in cases against drugmakers. Johnson & Johnson says it will appeal.
Also tonight, President Trump is on his way back from the G7 summit where he left key allies and onlookers dizzy as he shifted positions on critical issues. With his trade war raging, the president claimed that Chinese officials have reached out seeking to make a deal but China hasn't confirmed any such calls.
Even though Russia was kicked out of what was then the G8 for annexing Crimea, President Trump said he'd consider inviting Vladimir Putin to next year's summit suggesting it should be held at his Miami-area golf club. After talking tough on Iran, the president flipped and said there is a
really good chance, his words, he could meet with Iran's president. And with the Amazon burning, President Trump was missing when the allies gathered to discuss the climate crisis leaving an empty chair. I'll speak with Senator Mazie Hirono and our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage of today's top stories.
First, let's get to the breaking news in a landmark decision, an Oklahoma judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its part of the opioid epidemic ravaging the state. CNN's Alexandra Field is in Norman, Oklahoma for us. Alexandria, tell us about this decision.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you cannot overstate the significance of it. It appears the state of Oklahoma has just written the playbook that dozens of other states could follow in seeking to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for fuelling the opioid epidemic.
In court today, the judge said that the state had made its case that Johnson & Johnson had created a public nuisance. The state had to argue that the pharmaceutical company cost the state of Oklahoma billion dollars, devastated thousands of lives.
The judge seemed to be of that opinion as well, talking about the misleading marketing practices of Johnson & Johnson and an epidemic that has ravaged this state through death and through addiction. In the end, the state was pursuing a $17.2 billion settlement against Johnson & Johnson.
The judge has ordered that Johnson & Johnson pay $572 million. Less of course than the state wanted, but it appears that that is the amount that the judge feels is necessary for one year of abatement statewide. Those are prevention, addiction and relief services for those who have suffered as a result of this epidemic.
But again, Wolf, the implications of this ruling far greater than the state alone. First of all, Johnson & Johnson says they will appeal. They say that they have closely followed state and federal laws. They defend the use of their painkillers for proper prescribed purposes. They say they're being made a scapegoat.
But there are thousands of claims right now against pharmaceutical companies and people who say that those companies need to be held responsible in the way that they were held responsible today right here in Oklahoma.
BLITZER: Very important decision indeed in Oklahoma. Alexandra thanks very much.
Meanwhile, President Trump tonight is heading home from the G7 summit in France. Let's go live to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the president has left behind a lot of confusion where you are over there.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Throughout this G7 summit, the president and his team, they have offered conflicting and false statements on a whole range of topics, from China to Russia to climate change.
Isolated and alone on the world stage, the president wasn't leading at this G7 summit, but he was misleading.
[17:05:04] ACOSTA (voice-over): The G7 proved to be a slippery summit for President Trump. After days of rattling world markets in his trade war with China, the president made conflicting claims that officials in Beijing were reaching out to his administration to ease tensions.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I very much appreciate the fact that they came out late last night -- very late last night -- and they said, you know, they want to make a deal. They want it to be under calm circumstances.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president started the day claiming his team had received assuring calls from Chinese officials, but China, all but said Mr. Trump was exaggerating.
TRUMP: We have gotten two calls and very, very big calls, very productive calls. They mean business. They want to be able to make a deal.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Later in the day, the president didn't want to talk about whether the calls had occurred.
TRUMP: I don't want to talk about the calls. We've had calls. We've had calls at the highest level but I don't want to talk about that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): At a news conference, Mr. Trump pointed to his treasury secretary.
TRUMP: Secretary Mnuchin is here.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Who would only say both sides are talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there were phone calls, sir? Mr. President, there were phone calls.
TRUMP: Numerous calls.
STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S SECRETARY OF TREASURY: (Inaudible) going back and forth.
ACOSTA (voice-over): That followed confusion created by the president over the weekend when he seemed to say he was having second thoughts about his trade war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, any second thoughts on the escalating trade war about China.
TRUMP: Yes, for sure. Why not?
ACOSTA (voice-over): A comment the White House later walked back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds as though you're both trying to clean up what the president said was clear --
MNUCHIN: We're not cleaning anything up.
ACOSTA (voice-over): On whether Vladimir Putin will be invited to the next summit, the president gave a misleading answer about why Russia was kicked out of the G8, dancing around the fact that it was punishment for Moscow's action in Ukraine.
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.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But that is not true. And Mr. Trump got testy when he was called out for it.
TRUMP: I know you like President Obama, but it was annexed during President Obama's term.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was evasive on whether he would meet with the Iran's president too.
TRUMP: He's a great negotiator. But he -- I think he's going to want to meet. I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out.
ACOSTA (voice-over): And perhaps the most lasting image from this summit, Mr. Trump was missing in action on climate change. Skipping a meeting devoted to the global challenge. The White House claimed the president was absent because he had meetings with leaders from Germany and India. But that is also not true.
Those leaders were at the climate meeting. Asked about his past skepticism of climate change something he's called a Chinese hoax, Mr. President Trump bragged about the U.S. energy industry.
TRUMP: And I'm not going to lose that wealth. I'm not going to lose it on dreams and windmills, which frankly aren't working too well. I'm not going to lose it. And I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president flat out refused to say whether he believes that climate change is happening as he left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) about climate change? Do you believe in climate change?
ACOSTA (on camera): And the president told another falsehood at the news conference claiming at one point that the First Lady has met with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but that's also not true. The First Lady has never met with Kim Jong-un and the White House was forced to issue a statement clarifying the record, Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta on the scene for us. Thank you very
Let's get some more on this. Let's bring in our Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Jim, what if anything, do you think the president accomplished at this G7 summit?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is not clear anything really. I mean, a G7 summit should be something of a diplomatic lay-up. You're meeting with your closest allies in the G7. It should at least be achievable to come to agreement on one or a handful of issues, but what we see is on the primary national security and foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. and Europe today.
There is very public disagreement. The Iran nuclear deal front and center, but also Russia's re-admission to G7, open disagreement on that. The China trade war, Trump being pressed by his allies and also have become -- his own allies have become the target of Trump's trade war tariffs, et cetera, targeted Europe as well, and then of course on climate change, no agreement, very public disagreement.
And here is another measure of this. This is President Trump's third G7 summit. On each of the issues, the president has not moved his allies' one iota. The Europeans staying very much in lock step with the Iran nuclear deal, in fact, are trying to find ways around U.S. penalties on Iran.
Climate change certainly Trump the odd man out. The trade war has not won over any fans in Europe. And on Russia, though President Trump has pushed this idea for some time, he left there with no new accolades to his plan to welcome Russia back in.
[17:09:58] As Jim Acosta noted, it was kicked not because President Obama wanted it alone, but because the whole group decided that Russia had annexed illegally and invaded illegally Crimea. That was the reason. No movement on any of those issues, Wolf, after a third summit for this president.
BLITZER: What struck you, Jim, about the president's news conference earlier in the day?
SCIUTTO: I think if you look at the last 24 hours, but even the last 72 hours, the president misled on a whole host of consequential issues. We made a rough list of it because it is worth recounting because the president's words have value.
White House gave a false excuse for skipping the climate meeting. Those two other leaders, the German and Indian leader, they were there. So, it wasn't the reason for the president not being there.
Trump said that China called the U.S. trade team to restart talks. He seemed to redefine that later saying he was simply reading a statement from a Chinese leader there.
And of course the White House changed its explanation of the president having second thoughts, him saying it second thoughts, the White House then saying, well, that was second thoughts about whether he was tough enough on China.
He said G7 leaders wanted to readmit Russia. Their public comments do not support that. He said that G7 leaders asked him about the U.S. media and referred to the U.S. media as the fake news media. There was no evidence of that either.
Of course, he claimed it was all about Obama on Crimea when in fact the G7 was united, was unanimous in kicking Russia out in 2014. He said the First Lady got to know Kim Jong-un. She's never met him before. The White House had to clarify that.
Finally, Trump claimed that it will lose $3 billion to $5 billion on the presidency -- nothing to corroborate that. Meanwhile, he claimed as well as Jim Acosta noted, that he would make no money from the G7 next year being at his own private golf club. Of course he owns the golf club and that money would go to the golf club's coffers.
The president's words matter on the international stage. You might argue they matter more and the president said a whole host of false and misleading things during the course of these last few days.
BLITZER: Lengthy list there indeed. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. She is a member of both the judiciary and armed services committees. Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Let's begin with the president's news conference at the G7 earlier in the day. He says China wants to make a deal to end the trade war. Do you see any sign of that happening?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): You never know with the president because I think just a few days ago he said that Xi Jinping was an enemy of the people and then now Xi Jinping is a great leader.
So, as your prior commentator said, you have to make a list of all of the misleading and outright lies that the president perpetuates even at the level of a G7 meeting with other world leaders. So, what he does is he continues to diminish U.S. credibility and influence throughout the world by his erratic and unpredictable behavior. As far as the deals with China, we'll have to see.
BLITZER: As you know, there are plenty --
HIRONO: That's what he says. We'll see what happens.
BLITZER: -- there are plenty Democrats -- you're a Democrat -- who agree with the president that China's trade practices, intellectual property being stolen need to be confronted.
BLITZER: How should the U.S. do that without hurting the U.S. economy?
HIRONO: By being reasonable and rational about what we want to do and how we want to accomplish things, but not by unilateral tweets. China is playing a long game. You know, they look at a whole of government approach, 50 years. It is a long game. The president plays a tweet game.
So, this is how he conducts foreign policy. And, yes, we acknowledge that there are issues that we have with China in terms of intellectual properties, et cetera. Well, there are rational ways of addressing these concerns. That's not what the president does.
BLITZER: As you heard -- the president also made his case for letting Russia back into the G7 without preconditions, once again becoming the G8. What message would that send to the world?
HIRONO: The message that sends to the world is that a country like Russia -- I would say that President Putin is really happy with the kind of support he gets from President Trump as would two other world leaders, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un.
The president has an affinity toward these kind of leaders. So once again he -- the president blames Obama -- President Obama for the so- called annexation or the takeover of Crimea by Russia. Nothing could be further from the truth and yet he continues to push it out.
This man has a major obsession with President Obama and all of President Obama's policies, including, by the way, his inability to face up -- unwillingness to face up to the fact that climate change is here and even to the point of -- what an embarrassment to say he missed a climate change meeting because he was having talks with Angela Merkel and Modi of India and both of them were at the meeting.
[17:15:04] BLITZER: Yes, there is -- we showed --
HIRONO: That's a climate change meeting.
BLITZER: -- a picture of the empty chair at that summit. At that moment there, were G6, not G7 leaders there. Under what circumstances, senator, if any, would you support reinstating Russia into the G7 and making it once again G8?
HIRONO: Maybe they should give Crimea back. But I think for the president to keep going on and on when the other leaders, after all, we don't get to select who should be in the G7 or G8 all by ourselves even if the president wants to do that.
There are other members of G7 and -- G6 members and I don't think they're all eager to welcome Russia back because they are the ones who took the position that Russia should be kicked out of the G8.
BLITZER: In another dramatic moment at that news conference today, the president signaled that he would be willing to meet with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. Do you think a meeting with the Iranian leadership like that could be productive?
HIRONO: I would have major concerns if it's President Trump going into this meeting because, remember, he's the one that blew up the Iranian nuclear deal even if our European allies do not want him to do that. So, I think it is very dangerous for the president to go and meet with any world leader at this point because we don't know what they're going to talk about. And there is usually a massive lack of preparation. And for something as important as meeting with the Iranian leader, I would say that I would have major concerns unless our allies are also involved and engaged.
BLITZER: Senator Hirono, thanks so much for joining us.
HIRONO: Thank you. I just want to do one shout out. I'm in Hawaii. I want to give a shout out to our Hawaii little league teams that are doing really great at the World Series.
BLITZER: Good luck to that little league team. Nice shout out indeed. All right, thanks very much, senator, for that. Appreciate it.
HIRONO: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, President Trump has reportedly suggested that the military look into using nuclear weapons on hurricanes before they reach the United States.
And Elizabeth Warren is drawing big crowds out on the campaign trail as a new poll shows her in a three-way fight atop the Democratic count.
[17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: President Trump right now heading back to Washington after standing alone creating some confusion, serious confusion at the G7 summit in France. Let's dig deeper with our experts and analysts.
Shawn Turner, on so many of the critical issues, whether the Iran nuclear deal, the trade war, the climate crisis, the president seemed to be outside, seemed to be isolated on the global stage right now. What are the consequences of that?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. You know, look, I think if we continue down this path the consequences of this -- are potentially devastating.
Looking at this through a national security lens, when the president refuses to engage on these issues, these legitimate national security issues, what he's doing is he is sending a message to the world that the United States is no longer interested in leading the global community as we deal with these kind of pressing global challenges.
And I think what we're going to continue to see as we're going to continue to see other leaders like Emmanuel Macron and other nation states like Russia try to work to fill that void as we move forward.
As we know with someone like Russia, you know, they look to fill that void both overtly and covertly behind the scenes by jockeying and trying to move the pieces around on the kind of international table.
So, I think that this is really going to come down to the next president to look at how much damage has been done with regard to our position on the national stage and to try to restore our position once Donald Trump is no longer in office.
BLITZER: At the G7 summit, Bianna as you heard, the president repeatedly suggested he would like Russia back in the G7, make it once again the G8. What do you think? What are the consequences of that?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, given how unpredictable this administration and this president are throughout these summits over the past few years, the one predictable angle has been the sympathy that President Trump does seem to express towards Vladimir Putin.
So, I wish I could say I was surprised by the president saying that he wishes that Russia would be re-entering back into the G8. This is something that he expressed last year as well. Look, at some point, it may make sense for Russia to re-enter but they have to pay a price.
Right now, annexing an independent country and invading the country where they are still holding some 24 Ukrainian soldiers when they took over three vessels, remember, last year in international waters, they have not paid a price for any of that other than obviously internal unrest that you've seen over the past few months.
You've seen continued demonstrations throughout Russia. There is more unrest with the economy, many predicting that Russia will be facing a recession soon. A lot of disappointment with Vladimir Putin's leadership in the country.
You see a huge disparity, an income disparity in the country and instead of the United States focusing on that and seizing on that vulnerability that Vladimir Putin is really facing and isolating him even more and making him finally have to deal with a lot of his actions.
[17:25:01] Instead, the president seems to be looking over all of that and instead wanting to embrace him which is something we've seen him do time and time again.
The only other European country which is sympathetic to this is Italy, which we know has accepted a lot -- this government in particular -- has accepted a lot of Russian money and has led to a lot of corruption internally.
BLITZER: You know, Chris, the image that he projected at the G7 summit, is that the image he wants to project going into his re- election campaign?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. I mean, I know he gave a quote that said I don't do anything for politics, you know, I only do what is right. You could reverse that potentially but I don't think -- I don't think that quote is true.
I think he is acutely aware of the fact that being disliked by the leaders of -- let's say he's not disliked -- being not a part of that club, the G7, whether it is in Germany or France or the U.K., is a good thing for his base politics. Now, I always say that on one hand. On the other hand, I continue to
believe and the polling suggests this that you can not -- Donald Trump could not win with his base alone. He seems committed to that path. These last 48 hours is an example of that. But the numbers suggest if everyone who comprises his base votes for him he still doesn't have enough votes.
BLITZER: What is your big takeaway from the G7?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, one is just -- I thin two things. One is America's increasing isolation from our strongest allies, right? You have the G6 and then you have the United States. So, you know, there were a lot of internal differences among those countries under the Obama, under the Bush administration.
But now we see an alignment of those countries sort of teaming up against us because Trump -- because of the way that Trump presents America on the world stage. So on climate change, on Iran, on Russia --
LIZZA: -- on trade. It's -- it's Trump against our allies. I mean, he didn't even show up for an important climate session. And then the second thing is, you know, every president comes in -- most presidents come in novice unless, you know, they were sort of vice president -- and they might not understand things like the G7 or some of these world organizations, but they get better by their third year.
And they make -- some even some mistakes and gaffes in the first year, this happened with Obama, it happened with Bush. But by a few years into it, when they're representing the country, they kind of get it, you know, and they become better diplomats. I don't think you could say the same yet about Trump when he goes abroad.
CILLIZZA: And just very quickly, the thing to Ryan's point, the thing that is so radical about Trump is he had -- Bush, Clinton, Obama, they had an interest in getting better.
CILLIZZA: He does not. He has no -- here is no impetuous or drive for him to get better. He likes being the odd man out.
BLITZER: Everybody stick around. There is a lot more we need to discuss, and we will right after this quick break.
[17:29:29] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're back with our experts and our analysts.
And, Shawn Turner, let me put up on the screen a bunch of what we're calling "Trump G7 misstatements, Lies and Distortions" that were made at the G7 Summit. What's the impact of these kinds of stuff on the global stage? TURNER: Look, this is devastating to our -- our relationships with
our partners and allies because what this does is it creates a constant sense of uncertainty across the world about whether or not our partners and allies can depend on, can believe in what the President says. And clearly, that -- clearly, they now know that that's not the case.
But, you know, there's another part to this, Wolf, that I think is really, really interesting for people to consider. You know, usually -- it's usually the case that when you have the White House coming out with misstatements or saying things that they need to be held accountable for or they need to explain, the forum to do that are the White House press briefings.
And I think that one of the reasons that we're seeing just this kind of blatant and direct, you know, misstatements across the board and why people feel like they can do it is because they're not standing up in the White House at the podium and letting journalists hold them accountable and ask them to clarify these statements. They're simply putting them out there and letting them take root and causing people to be misled.
BLITZER: I'm curious, Bianna, he claims he will lose $3 billion to $5 billion as a result of being President of the United States. Do you see -- and he hasn't backed that up with any evidence, but do you see any explanation, possible explanation, for those kinds of figures?
GOLODRYGA: It goes back to this president, quite frankly, being the sorest loser -- the sorest winner, I mean. It's gone from the day he won the election to every single time there's a headline that he views unfavorably, that he is somehow the victim. This is one of those situations as well.
And, of course, he always follows up with saying, oh, but -- but, you know, it's worth the pain, it's worth the suffering because I love this country more than anything. I don't think we've ever seen a president quite play this violin song the way President Trump has, and I'm not sure where he's getting those figures from. I don't think that's a priority for the majority of Americans either.
But I will go back to the graphic you just put up about these untruths and the constant barrage of fake news any time the President or the administration doesn't like a headline that the U.S. media puts out because what happens -- it's dangerous on multiple layers. Most importantly when you have a situation like you have now with the trade dispute with China, an authoritarian dictatorship, when they're rebutting the President, saying, well, no, they didn't -- we didn't reach out, and we're in a position where we don't know who to believe.
[17:35:09] I don't remember the last time we've ever been put into a situation where we don't quite know whether to believe the United States administration or an authoritarian regime. The same thing has happened with the Russian government as well.
And so, I'm -- I think, you know, for the President's short-term vantage point, he may view it as a victory or points amongst his base. On a longer-term time frame, for the U.S. public not to believe the U.S. media is something that's going to be damaging, not only to this administration but, obviously, to our democracy as a whole.
BLITZER: He keeps going after President Obama. He blames President Obama for the Russian invasion of Ukraine --
BLITZER: -- annexation of Crimea, but we're hearing a lot more about of this criticism of his predecessor.
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, he is someone who -- there is some truth in the counter-puncher. I think he is also a puncher and a counter- puncher. He likes to present himself as a counter-puncher, but he needs a foil. Like, he doesn't have -- there is not a core -- outside of maybe a little bit on trade and protectionism, there's not really a course set of beliefs that Donald Trump holds, right? So there's not a lot of things he believes in, he really uses -- he acts in opposition to other people.
Can I just make one other point on what Bianna said? I'm stunned -- and our colleague Daniel Dale makes this point, and I think it's really important. I'm stunned by -- the administration and the President lie about the dumbest stuff.
Melania and Kim Jong-un have a great relationship. Well, they've -- I mean, it would be odd if they had met. They've never met. He didn't go to the climate change thing because he was meeting -- they were doing bilateral sessions with India and Germany. Well, you know, there's a picture of Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of India.
Like, it is so rooted in who he is, he just does not tell the truth on -- and if -- to be on this point, if you lie about dumb stuff --
CILLIZZA: -- you lie about big things. And even if you don't lie about big things, we never know when you're telling the truth.
LIZZA: You know, often, liars that are really good are very precise in their lies because they're conscious of whether they're telling the truth and when they're lying. Trump is different.
LIZZA: He is more of a -- and this is not in any way to let him off the hook, more of a B.S.-er. So sometimes when he says something, it corresponds to the truth but there's nothing sort of connecting those two things in his mind.
LIZZA: I think this is what explains the -- why they lie about such stupid things. It's just a constant stream of whatever works in that situation.
BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following, including Elizabeth Warren drawing some of the largest crowds of her campaign. Where does she place in a new poll on the 2020 White House hopefuls?
[17:37:45] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're following the Democratic race for the White House and a notable increase in the crowds one candidate is drawing. Our Senior Washington Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is here.
Jeff, Elizabeth Warren appears to be rising both in terms of the number of people turning out to hear her and her place in the polls.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's no question she is. And her candidacy has been steadily rising for months with enthusiasm for her growing among some Democrats. Now, Joe Biden as we know, started off the summer as the front-runner and by many measurements, is still ahead of the pack. But as the summer campaign season comes to a close, the question is whether the shape of the race is changing.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to win this by just saying not Trump. We're not.
ZELENY (voice-over): Elizabeth Warren sharpening her electability argument and delivering the message to some of the largest crowds yet of the 2020 campaign. In Seattle on Sunday.
WARREN: We need to pay attention to what's been broken, not just in the last 2-1/2 years but what's been broken for decades.
ZELENY (voice-over): -- and last week, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Warren drawing thousands and thousands. In a sign of rising enthusiasm and growing curiosity about her candidacy.
WARREN: And that's what I'm seeing in these crowds, people who are all in.
ZELENY (voice-over): It is a subtle, though unmistakable, contrast with Joe Biden whose audiences have been far smaller. Yet Biden is still leading the Democratic field by most metrics. As he insists he's the strongest candidate to defeat President Trump. He's not calling for a revolution, but rather hoping to make the race a referendum on Trump.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to take a movement. It has to be a movement grounded in our values and our ideals that define us as a country. And they're being crushed. ZELENY (voice-over): The 2020 contest has been remarkably stable
throughout the summer, but campaign advisers tell CNN they believe the race could be far more fluid heading into the fall.
A new Monmouth University poll today shows a three-way fight with Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Biden at the top of the field. Yet that survey stands in contrast to a CNN poll last week that showed Biden with a double-digit lead over Sanders and Warren. Sanders is also drawing impressive crowds just like he did in 2016. A reminder that crowd sizes do not always translate to victory.
But then, like now, the fight for the nomination is framed about whether a progressive or a more moderate approach offers the best chance of winning back the White House. That divide on critical issues like health care on clear display between Montana Governor Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at back-to-back CNN town halls Sunday night.
GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think, though, that the best thing to do would be to start all over. I don't want to take away 165 million people that have employer-sponsored health care and take it away.
[17:45:06] MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There should not be such a thing as an American who doesn't have insurance or doesn't have health care. That should be a thing of the past.
ZELENY: Now, the competition between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden is intensifying. Ideologically, the -- the two of them represent the big choices facing the party, a progressive or more of a pragmatic choice. So far, they've rarely interacted on the campaign but, Wolf, that could soon change. We find out who makes the September debate stage later this week. That could put both of them side-by-side.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that front. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, for that report.
Coming up, President Trump claims his aides scoured the country trying to find the perfect place for the next G7 Summit. Turns out it's one of his own resorts.
[17:50:30] BLITZER: President Trump used the G7 Summit in France to make a sales pitch for hosting the next summit at one of his golf resorts. Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Brian, this is raising some serious concerns.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's raising a lot of concerns, Wolf, among ethics watchdogs because of potential conflicts of interests. And it's raising concerns tonight with security professionals, including former Secret Service officials, who say the task of heading off potential threats at the Trump National Doral Golf club could be enormous. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): At times, it wasn't clear if he was playing president or pitchman.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best. It's brand-new.
TODD (voice-over): Today, at the G7, President Trump sang the praises of his resort at the Trump National Doral golf club near Miami, actively promoting it as a possible site for the G7 Summit next year, suggesting it had the perfect hotel accommodations to talk nuclear nonproliferation.
TRUMP: With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings. We call them bungalows. They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants. Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.
TODD (voice-over): It's not the first time President Trump has openly beamed about one of his favorite properties.
TRUMP: This is now the hottest resort of its kind anywhere in the United States.
TODD (voice-over): But today, the President insisted that suggesting Doral wasn't his idea, saying administration officials looked at 12 places around the U.S. and nothing came close to his own resort.
TRUMP: Some were two hours from an airport, some were four hours. I mean, they were so far away. Some didn't allow this or they didn't allow that.
TODD (voice-over): Among those endorsing the location, Trump said, were Secret Service officials. Anthony Chapa, a former assistant Secret Service director who planned security for inaugurations, says securing such an enormous location is a serious challenge for the Secret Service.
ANTHONY CHAPA, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE: Well, some of the unique problems in a place like that is access. You know, who has access? How do you control access? You know, how close can people come to the event?
TODD (voice-over): Doral is a sprawling expanse -- four golf courses, the site of several big tournaments, nearly 650 guest rooms and several villas on about 800 acres. Chapa says Doral is so large, in fact, and the threat of people sneaking on to the grounds is so worrisome that the Secret Service might have to section it off.
CHAPA: You know, the golf course is one section. That's going to be viewed separate from the actual meeting site, separate from the arrival site, separate from the parking site, separate from where protesters might come. TODD (voice-over): There are also questions tonight over whether the
President is trying to save a struggling Trump brand while hosting world leaders. This spring, financial records obtained by "The Washington Post" showed net operating income at Doral, which Trump bought in 2012 and restored, fell by 69 percent from 2015 to 2017 when Trump became president. One of several indications that his presidency may have taken the shine off his gold-covered portfolio.
MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY, AND POWER": Whether it's his golf courses, it's his resorts, or his showcase building in New York's Fifth Avenue, in each case, we see that there's been an impact where people do not want to do business in a place with -- that carries the name of someone who they vehemently disagree with.
TODD (voice-over): Today, the President denied he is trying to boost his brand even as he sang its praises.
TRUMP: I'm not going to make any money. I don't want to make money. I don't care about making money.
TODD: Security experts and other observers say it's a good thing President Trump says he doesn't care about making money by hosting the G7 Summit at Doral because there's a good chance he'll lose a lot of money if this happens.
They say in order to properly secure the event, guests who are already there may be asked to leave during the event. Others who want to book rooms and outings may be asked to stay away for several days. And, Wolf, this place could be out of commission for a week or more.
BLITZER: Yes. The last time the U.S. hosted a G7 and a G8 was in 2012 --
BLITZER: -- under President Obama. And it was held at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David, Maryland.
BLITZER: A very secure location, indeed.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Coming up, President Trump heads back to the G7 Summit, leaving behind confusion. He says China called, wanting to make a deal on trade, but that seems to be news to China.
[17:54:51] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Opioid maker blamed. A historic court ruling tonight holds pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling the opioid crisis in Oklahoma. We'll break down the decision and its impact on one of the worst health epidemics in U.S. history.
[18:00:03] Alternate reality show. President Trump tries to put an upbeat spin on the G7 Summit that collides with the facts.