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Five Dead, 21 Injured in West Texas Mass Shooting; Hurricane Dorian Upgraded to Category 5, Nears Bahamas; Poll: More Voters Say Economy is Getting Worse Instead of Better; Biden, Warren, Sanders Take Center Stage in Next Debate; Stage Is Set for Third Democratic Presidential Debate; Hurricane Dorian Upgraded to Category 5; Trump Tweets Image of Iranian Launchpad after Explosion. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 1, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:18] MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Another mass shooting in America. Five killed in west Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a shooting going on in Odessa, Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, god. They're shooting right there.

RAJU: Plus, Americans growing more pessimistic about the economy. But president Trump says not to worry.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stock market is doing well. The economy is doing great. Worldwide, we're the number one by far.

RAJU: The 2020 front-runners prepare for their most important debate yet. At Center stage, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm just going to be me, and she will be her, and let people make their judgments.

RAJU: And Hurricane Dorian takes aim for the U.S. mainland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hoping that everything comes out OK, but I'm kind of freaking out.

RAJU: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.



I'm Manu Raju, in this morning for John King.

A lot of breaking news for you this morning. Hurricane Dorian just minutes ago upgraded to a category five storm, with 160-mile-an-hour sustained winds and it's closing in on the Bahamas. The latest forecast has the storm slowing down, lurking off the Florida and southeastern coastline for much of the week. We will go to the CNN weather center for the latest forecast in just a bit.

But we have to start with yet another mass shooting, this time the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa. Five people are dead, 21 injured. The suspect shot dead by police.

Authorities say it started Saturday afternoon with a traffic stop on Interstate 20 near midland. The man used a rifle to shoot at state troopers, and then sped away, taking random shots at passing cars and pedestrians, eventually hijacking a postal vehicle and making his way to Odessa, still spraying gunfire.

The chase ended with a gun battle in a movie theater parking lot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a shooting going on in Odessa, Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, god they're shooting right there.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they shooting? .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know. I can't see.


RAJU: In addition to the five dead, the list of injured includes three law enforcement officers and a 17-month-old girl, who is expected to survive.

Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera.

Ed, what are you learning on the ground?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, this was a surreal and wild scene. An Odessa police officer just described as something they never anticipated and really had never seen before, nor trained for because of the sporadic and the widespread nature of where all of these different shootings took place.

So, in many of these mass shootings, it all takes place in one location. But this was spread over miles and miles across the city. And calls were coming in constantly of people being wounded by gunfire, which added to the chaos of the moment. This was, as you mentioned, a wild scene. Five people dead. Nearly

two dozen injured. Among those dead, a high school student here in Odessa. And among the wounded is a 17-month-old child who was airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, and we are told now is in satisfactory condition.

But from people who were here on the front lines dealing with this chaos, they described a frightening scene.


DR. SUDIP BOSE, ODESSA PHYSICIAN: I encourage everyone in every community, no matter what size, if you're in the middle of the desert, urban area, to prepare in advance. Unfortunately, it may not be a matter of if, it may be a matter of when. It starts with knowing how to stop bleeding, it starts with how to do BLS and chest compressions. This is something that we as Americans can do.


LAVANDERA: And, Manu, we have been told here this morning by Odessa police, there has been a press conference scheduled for 9:30 Central Time this morning. This has now been pushed back into noon central time, so 1:00 Eastern before we get any more information as investigators here continue working around the clock to piece together how all of this unfolded and determining a motive behind this attack -- Manu.

RAJU: A lot of unanswered questions from a horrific scene in yet another mass shooting.

Ed Lavandera, thank you for that.

Now, joining with us with their report and their insights, Margaret Talev from "Axios", "TIME Magazine's" Molly Ball, Michael Shear from "The New York Times", and Laura Barron-Lopez from "Politico".

[08:05:06] I want to start with what Mike Pence said on his way to Warsaw when he was asked about what happened yesterday in Texas.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our hearts break for the families who have loved ones who were injured. Those who have had loved ones who lost their lives in the wake of this latest mass shooting. And the president and I and our administration absolutely determine to work with leaders in both parties and the Congress to take some steps that we can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocity in our country.


RAJU: Now, the vice president says they want to work with Congress. But there's been virtually no action. There has been no action since the latest mass shootings that occurred not even a month ago. The president has been all over the map about what he would accept on background checks.

What do you think the president is ultimately going to accept here?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't see any reason, unfortunately, to see that anything has changed over the course of the last 48 hours or 24 hours. We now know that in the month of August alone, there were more than 50 fatalities in the U.S. as a result of mass shootings, but there is no indication that there's been a turning point in the president's political calculus or in the Republican Party's political calculus in terms of Congress.

So when we get back, I think, there's no more than there was before. And now, there is a hurricane in the mix on top of it.

RAJU: Yes, and the support for new gun laws is overwhelming in this country. Just look at this Quinnipiac poll from earlier this week, universal background checks, which is what the House passed and virtually has to chance of passing the Republican-led Senate, 93 percent of voters support that. And even 60 percent of voters support an assault weapons ban.

But it appears there will be some discussion about red flag legislation. Presumably, it won't go as far as enough as a lot of people would like. Would that be enough do you think to satisfy the electorate if Congress were to pass something that may be considered some response to it but not as far as what the majority wants.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you are seeing increasing pressure on this issue. What has happened is not only that the public favors new gun control laws by really a margin that we have not seen in decades, but also the intensity on this issue has really increased. There are new activist movements. You have people fired up about this issue, voting on this issue in a way that previously I think we had this impression there was a lopsided passion dynamic where it was the NRA members and the anti-gun control to be single-issue voters.

We see a lot of that on the other side. I think it has created more pressure.

RAJU: Yes. .

BALL: But the Democrats, you know, this had debate earlier in August about whether they should come back to Washington, pass more laws than they already have, having already passed the background law. And the argument was, no, we have done our part. Let's keep the pressure on the senate, on Mitch McConnell, to do something with the law that we already passed and Senate obviously --

RAJU: And listen to how Beto O'Rourke, 2020 presidential candidate, talked about this, as he mentioned Democrats seem to be more engaged than they have in the past. This is how Beto talked about it in the aftermath of the shooting.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what the motivation is. Firearms that were used or how they acquired them. But we do know this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED)



O'ROURKE: There is no reason we have to accept this as our fortune, as our future, as our fate. And yet, functionally, right now, we have.


RAJU: Democrats used to be afraid to talk about gun control. Now I think they are not.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. No, they're very confident in this area. They feel as the momentum, the public sentiment is at their backs. And this is something I saw on the campaign trail last cycle. The number of house races and house districts that flipped, were gun control was a key issue there. You heard a lot of voters who said they had never been engaged before.

But because of the mass shootings from Parkland to now, they feel they needed to become more engaged, they were afraid about this issue. And that being said, you know, House Democrats, yes, had the debate about whether they should come back. They were originally supposed to come back this -- next week, and delayed that because of Hurricane Dorian. So, it looks like the earlier hearing that House Democrats may even have on this issue is when they will fully return September 9th.

RAJU: There's the segue to the next big breaking story of this moment. The Hurricane Dorian a powerful category 5 hurricane and in an erratic path. It poses a threat from Florida, all the way up to the Carolinas, forcing many cities along its path to begin putting emergency plans in place.

I want to go to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

Allison, the Bahamas will feel Dorian first. When do you expect landfall?

[08:10:00] ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, imminently. And I would like to point out that the National Hurricane Center and the latest update they just gave referred to this as a catastrophic landfall for the Bahamas. And again, we're not just talking about the winds, although, yes, those have increased up around 160 miles an hour, gusting even higher, up around 185 miles per hour. But the storm surge is going to be a huge factor for a lot of these islands, 15 if not even potentially as high as 20 feet.

The eye of the hurricane has also expanded a little bit as well. This is concerning because this goes to show that the storm is still intensifying. We do expect as those hurricane hunters have gone out and taken some of the numbers, that this will maintain a major hurricane as it continues its track off the west. It is still headed towards Florida. More of Florida was added back to the cone of uncertainty this

morning, which was removed partially yesterday. So, Florida, Manu, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina are all still in the potential for a landfall from this storm over the next couple of days.

RAJU: We'll keep watching this. It changes by the minute it seems. Thank you for that.

And next for us, the Trump trade war -- new tariffs in effect as of today on thousands of Chinese-made goods.


RAJU: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

Time now to talk about the Trump economy and the president's trade war. As of this morning, new tariffs in place on $100 billion worth of Chinese goods. The list includes clothing, shoes, sheets, pillows, sports equipment, kitchenware and even diapers.

[08:15:05] Tariffs are a tax on imported goods and likely mean higher prices for American consumers. Even top Republicans worry the trade war could also trigger an election year recession. One of them is U.S. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

But here's what President Trump thinks of that.


TRUMP: So what does Pat Toomey want me to do? Does he want me to say, let me put my hands up, China, continue to rip us off? Let me give up right now, China, even though we're winning. Let me give up right now, you continue, to take out $400 billion, $500 billion, $600 billion out of our hide. Continue to steal our intellectual property, continue to do all the other horrible things you have been doing to us for 30 years.


RAJU: Now, to be sure, unemployment is still near historic lows and consumer spending remains strong. But a poll out last week illustrates the threat the president is facing. For the first time since he took office, more Americans say the economy is getting worse than it is getting better. And more Americans say Trump economic policies are hurting rather than helping.

Now, I wonder, Michael, you cover the White House for "The New York Times". How nervous is the White House right now of a possible recession?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, look, they are certainly nervous. It's central to his argument for reelection is that the economy is good. He says it all the time in every setting.

I think when I was with the president in France at the G7 last weekend, and I think one of the things that came out there was that the level of uncertainty that hangs over this subject area, that hangs over the trade subject, because the president isn't operating on a straight line. It's not like you can look -- it is sort of like the track of a hurricane. You can't look and predict what he is going to do in a moment.

Just the few days we were in France, he went back and forth. At one point, President Xi of China was an enemy, the next they were trying to restart negotiations over the trade stuff. So, as bad as the impact is that people are feeling, the impact of the actual tariffs, I think in some ways hanging over the kind of whole subject is the question of you just don't know whether, you know, today's optimism that we are on a path towards resolution is going to be what we feel tomorrow or a week later or a month later

RAJU: And it's clearly not the way the president has billed this trade war. Initially, he said the tariffs would level the playing field. He said that it would reduce the trade deficits, that both sides are digging in. China responding today saying they are not backing down. The president is not showing any signs of backing down. U.S. consumers may take the brunt of it.

BALL: Well, this tranche of tariffs is really different than other tranches because of how much it affects consumers. We have heard a lot in previous rounds of this escalating trade war about the affect on businesses, especially farmers. And, certainly, they have felt the brunt of it.

The question, are consumers going to start to notice prices going up for things that you buy at Target, right? Because that really has been a little bit down the supply chain from where the tariffs hit previously. Also, new tariffs on fuel, which has not been part of the trade war up until now.

So, there's a potential for I think a cascading effect if consumers start to lose confidence, if businesses start to cut back on investment because the uncertainty as well as because of the rising prices. That's when you may felt the fear I think on the part of the White House and others, you can get a cascading effect that becomes impossible to stop.

RAJU: And look at how -- these are some of the companies raised concerns about tariffs hurting them. A number of -- some major American companies, multinational firms. Yet the president when he was asked about the companies raising concerns, this is what he said.


TRUMP: A lot of badly run companies are trying to blame tariffs. In other words, if they're running badly and they're having a bad quarter or they're unlucky in some ways, they are likely to blame the tariffs. It's not the tariffs. It's called bad management.


RAJU: Bad management. Now, is this tenable position for the president to take? TALEV: This is a nuanced issue and President Trump doesn't nuance

that well. But, yes, it seems like the chamber of commerce go with him on this.

But here's the thing. The White House has always known and has always said when you have like a substantive discussion with, you know, someone in the NSC or in the trade areas that this is a long game, that the U.S. believes that it can afford to absorb some of the difficulty in the near term to put the heat on China in the long term, but nothing will change if they don't do this. That they understand this is a real fight with repercussions.

But it is overlaid against the reality of our election cycle, versus China's, which is really not like a thing, right? So, president for life and president for one or maybe two terms.

[08:20:04] And there is a different calculus and a different pace there. But for the president, in terms of his support, this message on sticking it to China is really powerful both with his base within the Republican Party but also some of that crossover appeal to sort of independent or even some Democratic voters, union voters.

So, it's -- he has felt that it is important to stick to this message, not just because it's one of the few ideological things that you can say he believes in. Like what does he believe in guns? We don't really know. What does he believe on trade? We know.

RAJU: One of the things he believes in, he is trying to reenergize his base on is the wall, what to do with the wall. And we learned last week about his efforts to redouble efforts to try to build the wall. CNN, "Washington Post" and others reporting about him apparently suggesting he would be willing to pardon individuals to break the law if commit illegal acts to move forward. CNN reported it.

Trump, sources say, is searching for an accomplishment to run on in 2020, and realizing time is running short to fulfill some of the key promises he made to voters in 2016. Trump has recently told aides he would pardon them if they committed illegal acts while fulfilling his demand to build a wall on the southern border by 2020, two officials confirmed to CNN.

Now, Trump says these stories are made up, his spokesman said that he was just saying in sort of in a joking way. But, clearly, the president still sees as well, it will his energize base. But if they don't move forward, will the base not come out?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I don't know if I think they won't come out. I mean, a lot of people who are avid Trump supporters appear to have been with him from the very beginning, are still with him, amongst the Republican base, his numbers are still strong. But this is very much a key pillar of his re-election campaign, his -- from what he launched in 2015 until now, his major theme has been building the wall. It's been about immigration, it's been about grievance politics.

And so, I don't expect that that is going to change at all. RAJU: Yes. Of course, we will hear more about that in the days


Up next for us, the Democratic debate and the ideological showdown years in the making as Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren face off for the first time.

But, first, a message from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to worried fans and supporters just weeks after treatment for pancreatic cancer.




And I'm on my way to being very well. I love my job. It's the best and the hardest job that I have ever have. And it has kept me going through four cancer battles.



[08:26:15] RAJU: We've got some breaking news on Hurricane Dorian. The National Weather Center just upgraded Dorian to a category 5, catastrophe storm with 160-mile-per-hour sustained winds. It is threatening the Bahamas, Florida, and the U.S. southeast.

And we'll get a live update in just a little bit.

But back to politics for now. The stage is set for the next Democratic debate -- debate singular. And that's thanks to stricter qualifying requirements from the DNC.

The next debate less than two weeks away will be a one-night event. Ten candidates made the cut. It is worth pointing out that just three of them are white men. And for the first time this campaign, the three frontrunners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, they will all share the same stage.

Now, Biden enters the debate holding steady, top of the pack. With one star on the rise in recent weeks, will voters finally see a showdown between her fiery brand of liberalism and his more moderate approach?

Biden for his part downplays the possibility of fireworks.


REPORTER: This is the first time you'll be on stage with Elizabeth Warren. Is there a certain contrast you're hoping to draw with her?

BIDEN: Well, let people -- I'm just going to be me, and she'll be her and let people make their judgments. I have great respect for her. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: But Biden still has the lead. Warren is clearly emerging as this threat. Will we finally see this one-on-one confrontation between them? And what would it look like?

BALL: Well, I would not be surprised to see it and I would not be surprised to see it in particular on economic issues. There's some history here. This isn't just about two different brands of politics or two different sort of ideological dispositions.

Warren has gone after Biden himself very sharply in the past when she was working on bankruptcy issues. There was a hearing it got testy between the two of them. She targets him in one of her books as the type of, sort of corporate Democrat she sets herself against. So, whether it's that issue or just economic issues in general, I would not be surprised to see a very sharp contrast drawn.

And I think that all of us in the punditocracy are sort of licking our lips and are excited for that because -- in part because they haven't been on the same stage before.

RAJU: Yes.

BALL: They are at this point, either the top two, or in the top three candidates. They have their differences. They are substantive people on policies. So, it will be very interesting and potentially revealing to see the two of them actually discuss this --

RAJU: And how will Warren take some of the incoming fire? Also, a big question, she's been -- she had the rocky launch in her campaign, amid the questions about her claiming Native American ancestry.

Then, she has been fairly smooth. She's been rising in the polls. She has not taken many attacks.

But here's a story from politico. The headline is: Warren love fest ending as 2020 competitors feel her rise. This is a quote from Dick Harpootlian. He says: Her economics are fraud and at some point, someone is going to point that out. She is a multimillionaire professor at Harvard. She can't rail against the 1 percent. She is one of the 1 percent.

He is a South Carolina state senator and a Biden ally.

But also, Bakari Sellers of the Harris campaign South Carolina co- chair, says: The biggest criticism of Elizabeth Warren is her in ability to make her plans actually reality. There are a lot of voters, especially black voters, who will say a lot of this is pie in the sky and we want pie on the table.

How will she respond to this?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Well, I mean, another interesting aspect about this upcoming debate is that Harris is also, for the first time, going to be on the stage with Warren. They have never been on the debate stage together as well. So, whether or not Harris decides to attack her as Bakari Sellers slightly telegraphed there on issues about her economics plan, Warren so far, you know, has still been defending it very -- very aggressively.

[08:30:00] She -- if she goes for Biden, I think she may initiate that attack. Biden's campaign has often says he doesn't initiate attacks. He lets them -- he takes the incoming and then responds and pushes back. It's the dynamics --


MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well I was just going to say, the other person that we shouldn't forget about, right, is Bernie Sanders who is on the stage as well. And it may be that, you know, if he wasn't, if it was just Elizabeth Warren versus Biden, they might sort of tiptoe around each other.

But you know, in some sense, you know Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both have an incentive to prove that they are the ones that are going to take on Biden and sort of by default then be the ones to take on Trump if they were e to win. And you could see the clashing escalate because the two of them are trying to sort of see which one can be tougher.

MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: And we now have seen a number of Biden missteps since -- really since day one of his campaign. I mean just at the headlines. Including last week, the big one for the "Washington Post". "As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story." He claimed he was -- the spirit of his story was correct, even though the details were mostly false.

But still at the same time, despite all of these problems, look at the polls. I mean overall, just very -- when you look at the demographics, among Democratic, Democratic-leaning voters in this Quinnipiac poll just out last week, only very liberal voters and people from the 18 to 34 support two other candidates -- Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

But look at this. I mean everywhere else. Every other ideological group, somewhat liberal, moderate/conservative, men/women, black, different ages., different income levels -- all support Joe Biden at the moment.

And in this world, the Trump world, falsehoods and things that the President says, if Biden makes mistakes and commits gaffes on the campaign trail, does it really have that much of an impact?

MARGARET TALEV, POLITICS AND WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, AXIOS: That's why he is not going after Elizabeth Warren. Also because it's not -- that's wouldn't seem like a Joe Biden thing to do, right. But that base -- the liberal base -- and to some extent the younger voters -- all of that matters when it comes to turnout.

And of course the ongoing question in this early stage in the selection has been once you get a nominee, whoever is running against Donald Trump, are Democrats going to turn out in the highest numbers or in kind of like the (INAUDIBLE) numbers in some of those plates where it really mattered last time around, you know?

And the thing that I think -- that I'm a little concerned about, looking forward to in this debate is that the format, it is still a crowded stage. It still may not allow for what we really want to see, which is both the deep substantive differences among really the leading candidates.

But also that back and forth. The ongoing sustained back and forth, which is like how does Elizabeth Warren deal with Biden? How does Sanders deal with Warren. How does Biden deal with those two?

If you add up Sanders support and Warren support, they actually give Joe Biden quite a run for his money. But they both can't emerge. So it's going to break at some point. Maybe -- I don't know if it's going to be sooner or later. But when it does --


RAJU: Yes. And it will be interesting to see how those other candidates fare, the people on the stage who need that breakout moment. Do they go the way of Kirsten Gillibrand last week, dropping out of the race. We shall see.

Hurricane Dorian just upgraded to a powerful Category 5 storm. Next, we will go live to the Bahamas, which is now bracing for a direct hit.


RAJU: We're following breaking news this morning.

Hurricane Dorian just has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm, with 160-mile-an-hour sustained winds. Now, the slow-moving storm likely will remain a threat for much of the coming week.

Millions of people in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are waiting to see whether if it will take aim at them or just stay off the coast.

Right now, it is headed for the northwestern Bahamas. And that's where we find CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Freeport this morning.

Patrick -- behind you it looks beautiful right now but it sure isn't going to stay that way, is it?


And it is a beautiful morning here. but we know in the hours ahead, the weather conditions are going to deteriorate and very, very quickly. Already about 80 miles east of where I am they are beginning to feel the effects of this incredibly powerful and slow-moving hurricane.

And that's particularly dangerous because the longer a hurricane of this magnitude is over you, the more damage it does, the more winds lash people's homes and places where they are taking refuge. You can expect to have a higher storm surge. And there's so many of these islands are low lying. Many of them are just above sea level. We've actually seen people get evacuated to where we are because it is higher ground. But the highest point of land on this island, Manu, is only 30 feet high. We're talking about a storm surge, an expected storm surge of 15 to 20 feet.

So much of this island, many of the islands around us in the coming days and hours, will be under water. It is about as dangerous as you can get to be on a low-lying island to have a slow-moving Cat 5 hurricane coming your way.

And unlike the United States where there is still some doubt, there is no doubt here we are going to take a direct hit.

RAJU: And when do authorities in the Bahamas hope to get help there after Dorian moves out?

OPPMANN: You know, the problem is we're on an island, of course. And the airport has been closed. We got on one of the last flights on Thursday. So probably not until mid-week. But it just depends on how badly damaged the airport is, when they could get a boat in here.

RAJU: Patrick Oppmann in the Bahamas there. Thanks for joining us.

And we'll keep monitoring this as the day progresses.

Next up for us here, ex-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks out, but not about President Trump, at least not yet.


RAJU: Now, here's something you don't see every day. A high resolution picture of the aftermath of an Iranian rocket's launch pad explosion. The image from last week, likely highly classified, as you see. It's an image tweeted out to the world by the President of the United States.

The President also seemed to be taunting the Iranians, adding the United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident, he wrote. I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened.

Now some are questioning whether the tweet revealed any sensitive national security secrets with those tweets. But the President is not one of them.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a photo, and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do. And we'll see what happens.

They had a big mishap. It's unfortunate. So Iran, as you probably know, they were going to set off a big missile. And it did not work out too well. It had nothing to do with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) The President wants to have talks with Iran. Then he taunts Iran. And then he may have put out classified information. What is the strategy?

SHEAR: Well, I mean I think the strategy --

RAJU: Is there a strategy?

[08:44:52[ SHEAR: -- well, I think in some ways it's pretty clear that the President has, from the beginning, said that he wants to put greater and greater pressure on Iran and thought that the Iran nuclear deal that had been put in place by the previous administration didn't do that and let the pressure off too much of on a regime that, you know, is particularly bad in the region and around the world.

And so I think that's ultimately the grand strategy. But what doesn't make a lot of sense though a lot of times is that sort of tactical moves along the way. And I think the question of whether or not the President was given this photo had a substantive conversation with his national security team and said let's all talk about whether or not this picture, you know, should be something that is releasable or whether he just saw it, grabbed the phone and like took a picture at it.

RAJU: Yes.

SHEAR: I mean that I think is the real question because the difference matters.

TALEV: In fact, if you look at the picture, you can see the shadow. It's like -- you know, what the shadow is when you're trying to take a picture and they're like you have that image of yourself on there.

He's right. He's got the absolute -- he decides what gets declassified. He can declassify instantly like that and it's fine for him to do.

And when he goes on like a rant about leakers, this is not a leak. He's the President. He can declassify it.

But there are implications to it. And their implications is this wasn't kind of like strategized on the front end. And one of those is that it allows all these foreign governments -- not just the Iranians but like the rest of them -- the Chinese, you know whoever, to understand what our capabilities are in the air over that area. What are U.S. surveillance capabilities.

RAJU: Yes. Detailed.

TALEV: They are not images that are commercially available. And so at least the initial reaction from kind of the intel community writ large, the people who have access to it, is one of real surprise and sort of shock.

RAJU: Yes. And did the U.S. violate Iranian airspace -- big question going forward. Now, I also want to talk about Jim Mattis, the former Defense Secretary, who abruptly left the administration and how there have been a lot of questions about when he will speak out.

And he is sort of speaking out now. He says to "The Atlantic" last week. "The duty of silence. If you leave an administration, you owe some silence. When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. There is a period which I owe my silence. It is not eternal. It is not going to be forever."

What does that mean.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And this also comes -- you know, he has a book that's about to come out and there was an excerpt published in the "Wall Street Journal" where He took a similar tact.

In fact, in some ways, he's more reticent, seemingly, in this book than he was in his resignation letter where it was pretty clear that he was resigning in protest and it was about his relationship with the President and the things the President insisted on doing over his objections.

"The Atlantic" interview is very funny because you have the interviewer continually pressing him. Why aren't you being more forceful about this? Why won't you criticize the President? Don't you have a duty given the things you've seen to, you know, share it with the American public?

But he is very steadfast in his view. So it will be interesting to see does he decide in the next, you know year or so to become a more outspoken critic of Trump? And that's a big decision particularly for someone of Mattis's stature who has always prided himself on being nonpolitical.

RAJU: Yes.

BALL: He really has taken pains throughout his career not to be seen as a political actor. That's a source of a lot of his respect in the Defense community.

RAJU: Yes. And I suspect when he says it's not going to be forever. Perhaps it's going to be after the President leaves office. We'll see about that.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including a House race in North Carolina. The special election coming up that could turn a dark red district blue.


RAJU: Time now to let our great reporters share a page from their notebooks to help you get out ahead of the week to come.

Margaret. TALEV: Well, Manu -- I'm going to be watching what those Democratic hopefuls who are now beginning to drop out of the presidential contest are doing. It's Labor Day weekend. Traditionally politicians come back from summer ready to reset for whatever.

But for this group of folks, which is going to be growing in the coming months that reset is going to involve how to remain relevant when you get back.

We know that Seth Moulton, for example, is going to be working on veterans' issues. We know that Kirsten Gillibrand is going to be working on how to remain relevant with women.

And part of this is to come up with a next act. And part of it is just in case there's a spot somewhere for whoever emerges as the 2020 nominee, in case there's a spot on the vice presidential ticket or in case there's a spot on the future cabinet. What is the place that you are staking out and how do you remain relevant.

RAJU: Yes. I suspect a lot of positioning in the weeks and days ahead.


RAJU: Molly.

BALL: I'm watching health care. Two new studies in the past month have shown that for the first time since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate is rising. And that's an unusual thing to be happening in such a strong economy with such low unemployment.

Usually people who have jobs, people have health care. But in this, we are seeing a small uptick in the number of people that are insured.

We know the politics of health care are very volatile. Obviously it was a big boost to Democrats in 2018. Now, Republicans would say that what's happening is because of Obamacare. That's the thing.

But Republicans know that this is not an issue that helps them. And this development also I think lends some urgency to the primary fight over healthcare between the Democrats as they try to argue for whether it's single payer or tweaks to the ACA.

When you see a decline like this, that lends some urgency to that debate to say, there is something here that we probably have to fix.

RAJU: We'll see what the President has to say about that when he sees those numbers as well.


SHEAR: So on September 10th the President's top aides will be meeting to determine the maximum number of refugees that can be let into the country in the coming year. For the past two and a half, three years, Stephen Miller and his allies in the administration have been pushing -- trying to push to get that number as low as possible. They did that over the objections of people like Rex Tillerson the former Secretary of State, Jim Mattis the former Secretary of Defense, and Nikki Haley the former U.N. Ambassador, all of whom favored a more robust refugee program.

This year, of course, all those folks are gone. And the expectations is that Miller will be able to push that number as close to zero as possible, of course at a time that many people around the world are fleeing civil war, poverty, hunger, and the like.

So as the President likes to say, we'll see what happens.

RAJU: Yes. And it shows the power of Stephen Miller continues to grow in this White House.


BARRON-LOPEZ: So I'm keeping an eye on the special election in North Carolina's ninth congressional district. It's the final stretch this week. Republicans are pulling out all the stops, because this district went for Trump in 2016 by 12 points. But it's very close right now.

[08:55:03] Democrats should not be competitive here, and they are. So the President expects to make a trip there in the final days, as well as Vice President Pence. Donald Trump Jr. was there just this past week.

So it's a big deal for Republicans. And they want to avoid an embarrassing loss there.

RAJU: Of course the President is pulling out all stops, as you mentioned.

I'll close with this. As Congress has been on recess this summer, the House Judiciary Committee has been laying the groundwork to potentially move to impeach the President as soon as this fall with several key matters about to come to a head.

That includes subpoenas for former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and two former White House aides, asking for them to testify later this month. Now, if the White House takes steps to block their testimony, as expected, it would only fuel Democrats' calls for impeachment.

And as they probe allegations of obstruction of justice, Democrats will actually press a court to speed up their lawsuit to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about how Trump allegedly tried to thwart the Mueller probe.

The Democrats last week announced that they would investigate the President's proposal to hold the 2020 G-7 summit at his Miami Golf Resort, saying it would violate the constitutions emoluments clause. Plus the campaign finance valuations tied to the President's involvement in the hush money scandal to silence his alleged affairs.

All evidence, Democrats say, enough evidence for impeachment but the question still remains will the Democrats ultimately go forward?

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch INSIDE POLITICS weekdays as well. It's at noon eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Dana Bash. Her guests include the acting head of FEMA, Peter Gaynor. Plus Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning. Have a great day.