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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With Presidential Candidate Julian Castro; Interview With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 8, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Secret talks. President Trump says he called off a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders after the latest attack in Afghanistan.
Where does that leave the peace talks and U.S. service members in America's longest war? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins me next.
And Alabama rebuked. A government agency backs President Trump over its own scientists after the president misstates the hurricane's threat to Alabama last Sunday.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was what we -- what was originally projected.
TAPPER: As people in the Bahamas grow more desperate, why is the president still talking about Alabama?
Plus: counting down. Only 10 Democrats get a shot on the debate stage this week.
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win by being bold.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to be the president for all of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TAPPER: With key early states still up for grabs, do the front- runners have cause for concern?
Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Secretary Julian Castro join me coming up.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is finding ourselves still capable of being shocked.
President Trump tweeting last night that he planned to be meeting with leaders of the Taliban this weekend here on U.S. soil at Camp David for peace negotiations. And, yes, we are just days away from the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The president, however, said he called off these secret peace talks with top Taliban leaders and the president of the Afghanistan, writing of the Taliban -- quote -- "Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great American soldiers and 11 other people. I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?" -- unquote.
A rather remarkable question, given the years of evidence by Taliban leaders and insurgents as to what kind of people they are, suicide attacks on civilians, depraved treatment of Afghan women and girls, their harboring of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda following the 9/11 attacks.
A source familiar with the details of the canceled summit said that President Trump had hoped to facilitate a direct meeting between Afghans' president and Taliban leadership.
Left hanging in the balance right now, of course, about 14,000 U.S. service members currently serving in Afghanistan in this nation's longest war.
TAPPER: Joining me now to talk about all of this, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Secretary Pompeo, thanks so much for joining us.
When did you find out that the Taliban were coming to Camp David? And when did you find out that the meeting had been canceled?
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Jake, it's great to be with you this morning.
I actually just a few hours ago was out at Dover Air Force base for the dignified transfer of the returns of Sergeant 1st Class Barreto. And it reminded me of the obligation President Trump and our team has to deliver on the commitments the president made, which are to make sure that we never have a terror strike, or reduce the risk that we have a terror strike come from Afghanistan, and, second, to make sure that we put our young men and women at risk as little as possible.
That's been our mission set as we've tried to negotiate this peace and reconciliation deal with the Afghan government and with the Taliban.
And part of that was the president's effort to bring the Afghan leaders, as well as the Taliban, here to Washington to have a conversation about how after now almost two decades how, we could begin to take down levels of violence, get the Afghans talking, and really make progress, so that after now almost two decades America's billions and billions of dollars committed and all the lives and sacrifice that Americans had made would be properly honored.
TAPPER: And when did you find out that the Taliban were coming here, and when did you find out the meeting had been canceled?
POMPEO: Well, we've been working on those for a while.
And it was the case that, when the Taliban tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside of the country, President Trump made the right decision to say, that's not going to work.
We're going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in the negotiations. It's not right. It's not appropriate. It killed an American. And it made no sense for the Taliban to be rewarded for that kind of bad behavior.
TAPPER: The Taliban have obviously been doing these kinds of attacks and killing U.S. service members and innocent civilians for a generation, as you note.
What is different about the murder of the 16th U.S. service member this year, as opposed to the previous 15?
POMPEO: We've been working on this peace and reconciliation program for quite some time. And we had made real progress.
We had the Taliban agreeing to, for the first time -- I remember when President Bush tried to get the Taliban to make a commitment to break with al Qaeda. The Taliban had agreed to do that. They'd agreed to certain reductions in violence.
They'd agreed, for the time, Jake, as you know, to sit down with their Afghan brothers and sisters and talk about the right process forward.
You know, Jake, it's also the case we haven't been negotiating while they have been killing us and we've been standing still. We've been taking it to the Taliban as well, over 1,000 Taliban killed in just the last 10 days alone.
So, the American people should know, we're going to defend American national interests, we're going to be tough in making sure that we put pressure on all the powers, all the risks, not just the Taliban, but ISIS that's there in Afghanistan as well.
President Trump will always protect Americans and the American interests. And one of the ways we're trying to do that is to take down the violence levels in Afghanistan, so that we can rebalance. We've -- we've got challenges from terrorism, not just in Afghanistan, Jake, as you well know.
We have to make sure we have the right force levels, the right force postures, the right people each and every place, so that we're protecting America's national security everywhere, not just in Afghanistan. TAPPER: Is the president willing to restart these negotiations with
the Taliban? And, if so, is there a precondition that they have to agree to a cease-fire?
POMPEO: Yes, we've got to see -- you saw what President Ghani said this morning too. That's his ask.
We need to see a significant commitment in two ways. One, we need to see that they're committed to it. Second, we need to see that they're capable of delivering on the promises that they've made. This has been something that multiple administrations have tried.
President Trump made clear we're not just going to withdraw because there's a timeline. We're only going to reduce our forces when certain conditions are met.
And if we can't get those conditions met -- just -- just like the president has walked from a deal with the North Koreans, just like the president has walked away from entrees from the Iranian government, if it's not right, if it's not protecting the American people, if the conditions aren't appropriate on the ground and proper to protect America, we're not going to enter into any deal.
TAPPER: I want to read you a tweet by Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who has served in Afghanistan.
He wrote -- quote -- "Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that has not renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. Never, full stop" -- unquote.
I think there are a lot of Americans out there who are surprised that the Taliban had been invited to Camp David, especially the week of the 9/11 commemoration.
POMPEO: Yes, I know Adam well. I served alongside him as a member of the House of Representatives. I have enormous respect for him and for his service, continued service in the United States Air Force.
President Trump is working to construct an arrangement where we can take down the very violence that I know Congressman Kinzinger wants taken down.
And that renunciation, that break from the past is precisely what Ambassador Khalilzad and my team have been working on for months and months now.
We have made real progress. But, to your point, Jake, it's not just about commitments. We have to see them be able to deliver it. We have to have proof that it's delivered.
And when we get to that point, when American national security interest can be protected, I am confident President Trump will continue the process of trying to get what he has talked about since his campaign, is a reduction of our risk level and the cost to the American people, both in terms of life and treasure, there in Afghanistan. TAPPER: I don't think anyone begrudges the President or Ambassador Khalilzad trying to bring an end to this war that has been going on so long, with so many innocent people and so many U.S. service members killed, but I guess the question is, why invite the Taliban to Camp David?
POMPEO: We've been having conversations.
The president believed that we could further that, that we could further America's national interest by having conversations with the people that have the capacity to actually deliver, Jake, on what you just described.
That was the effort. That was the mission. That was the purpose that President Trump has laid out. But I think, as you saw, if the Taliban don't behave, if they don't deliver on the commitments that they've made to us now for weeks and in some cases months, the president of the United States is not going to reduce the pressure.
We're not going to reduce our support for the Afghan security forces that have fought so hard there in Afghanistan.
TAPPER: You know, it was just a few weeks ago -- and I'm sure you're -- you're well aware of this -- it was just a few weeks ago that the Taliban put out a video in which they supported the 9/11 attacks, reiterating their support for the 9/11 attacks, blaming it -- blaming the 9/11 attacks on the United States and foreign policy.
I guess the question would be, here is an organization that still supports 9/11, still believes that the United States was to blame, we brought that on ourselves.
Why bring people like that to Camp David? I understand why you want to negotiate for peace, but why bring people like that to Camp David?
POMPEO: Jake, we're trying to get stuff accomplished. The American people are demanding it, now almost two decades and the loss of life.
When I was with that family last night, amazing patriots. Almost the whole family, Sergeant Barreto's father himself, served honorably in the United States armed forces.
We have an obligation to do everything we can to protect those men and women and take down that risk. That's what President Trump was aiming to do.
We understand who the Taliban are. There's no more clear-eyed administration.
I -- when I was the director of the CIA, I had young men and women serving in Afghanistan, taking enormous risks to their lives. And we're aiming to get this right. We're working to talk with those leaders that can actually deliver on these outcomes.
That's what President Trump and I are both focused on. And we're going to keep driving towards that outcome.
TAPPER: A U.N. Security Council team in July of this year said that al Qaeda -- quote -- "considers Afghanistan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its longstanding and strong relationships with the Taliban" -- unquote.
I guess the question I have is -- you keep talking about President Trump saying he believed that having the Taliban at Camp David, along with Afghan President Ghani, that he would be able to -- to get these peace negotiations going.
What about you? What did you think? Did you have any problem with the Taliban being invited to Camp David?
You're an Army veteran. I -- I can't help but think that, if a Democratic president had talked about having the Taliban come to Camp David to negotiate a peace process that was not already a done deal that you, as a congressman, as a -- as a -- as a soldier, as a veteran, as a West Point graduate, that you would be rather upset.
POMPEO: Yes, Jake, you're just wrong about that.
I've been fully supportive of this effort, the direction that we have taken at the State Department, the effort President Trump has given us guidance to go deliver on something I think is important, it's valuable. I think the timing is just right.
We've made enormous progress. I -- I know who the Taliban are, and I know who al Qaeda is. And I've seen that U.N. report. I will tell you that they describe the al Qaeda leadership as being happy about the conditions in Afghanistan. Well, a lot of them are in their graves.
And so make no mistake about it. We will continue to punish, we will continue to pound, we will continue to fight. We'll continue to protect the American people. We will never construct a deal.
If I was worried about Barack Obama and President Obama, it was because he was prepared to leave without insuring that we could protect America. This administration will never do that.
TAPPER: But Khalilzad has said that he is satisfied that the Taliban would not allow al Qaeda to launch attacks against countries outside of Afghanistan going forward.
POMPEO: Yes, Jake...
TAPPER: Are you satisfied?
POMPEO: Jake, more than that, more than that, they have committed to us that they would sign an agreement that so said -- that said that they would break from al Qaeda, that said that they would take on any...
TAPPER: Do you trust them?
POMPEO: ... to take on -- Jake, trust, but verify, I just talked about that. It's how I began.
We are going to insure that these commitments that they've made -- and you know this -- you know this history well, Jake. You know that previous administrations have tried to get that exact commitment for the Taliban for almost two decades now, Republican and Democrat alike.
We have it in hand. And there's still more work to do. There's still lots of work. But, in the end, it won't be about the commitment. It will be about their delivery. It will be about their execution. It will be about their capacity to actually do that.
We will have to see that on the ground. We will watch them do that. And if they do, I hope that all Afghans, the government of national unity, those other non-Taliban Afghans that are there in Afghanistan that aren't part of that government, and the Taliban can find a way to talk to each other and bring peace to that deeply troubled country.
TAPPER: In 2012, President Trump, then a civilian, tweeted criticizing President Obama for -- quote -- "negotiating with our sworn enemy, the Taliban, who facilitated 9/11."
Was he wrong then?
POMPEO: I'm very familiar with that.
He was wrong because he didn't believe that President Obama would keep our soldiers there, protect America's interests, do the right things to ensure that Americans would be safe. That was the concern.
TAPPER: All right, Secretary Pompeo, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
POMPEO: Thank you, Jake. Have a great day.
TAPPER: Ten of the Democratic presidential candidates will face each other at a debate this week.
Coming up, we're going to talk to two of them about what they expect on stage.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Almost every Democratic presidential candidate was in New Hampshire yesterday, a state that could make or break many of their presidential hopes. Just 10 of those Democrats are preparing to meet on the debate stage this week, including my next guest.
TAPPER: And joining me now is Democratic presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Thanks so much for joining us this morning.
KLOBUCHAR: Great to be on, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: First of all, your reaction to Secretary Pompeo and the news that President Trump was going to have the Taliban and the president of Afghanistan come to Camp David for some sort of negotiations? And now he has canceled that, although there is still the potential for the peace talks to continue.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, like so many leaders, I spent last night trying to figure out the meaning of the president's tweet.
To me, this is just no way to conduct foreign policy. Yes, we should be negotiating with the Afghan government and we should be negotiating with the Taliban to try to end the bloodshed in this country that has been going on for decades.
The whole focus of this, of course, is to bring our troops home, which I strongly support. But this time, you see again that he has some kind of hastily arranged summit, which no one knew was happening. OK.
But he didn't even seem to have an agreement or even close to an agreement when he set the summit.
Then the excuse that's used to end the summit and take it down is the fact that, tragically, an American service member died, as well as other civilians.
But then they kept negotiating after that happened through Saturday. So, the whole thing doesn't quite make sense to me. And it's just another example of the president treating foreign policy like it's some kind of game show.
This isn't a game show. These are terrorists. And, yes, you want to try to end the bloodshed and talk to them and see if an agreement can be met. And you want to do it with our allies. And you want to keep those hard-fought democratic reforms in place.
But the way he conducts foreign policy -- this me exactly of North Korea. He loves the showmanship. He wants to have that moment, but then all the details aren't done, and then we end up in a worse place on the world stage than we were before.
TAPPER: Would you -- would a President Klobuchar ever be willing to have the Taliban come to Camp David?
[09:20:01] KLOBUCHAR: If you had an ironclad agreement, you could look at anything.
To me, that didn't seem like the right venue to have this agreement made. That was my first reaction. You don't want to rule anything out, but the main point here is that you want to have an agreement, you want to have it done with your allies, you want to make sure that you're ready to go.
This is a very fluid situation. The president of Afghanistan, which is our ally here, they are going to have an election in the fall. And the president has been doing these negotiations. Fine. I think most people have not questioned that we want to bring our troops home. I want to bring our troops home.
It's just the way he does it. You think about trade policy, where he says he's going to slap a bunch of tariffs on, on August 1, and then for $300 billion, August 12, they take back half of them.
The next day, he says he's going to reduce taxes. Then he changes his mind.
The world is watching. China is watching. Russia is watching. They realize the weakness that this creates when we don't have consistency.
There is this old saying in foreign policy and in trade negotiation, keep your promises and keep your threats. He keeps neither.
TAPPER: So, I want to ask you about gun control, which has become a big issue on the campaign trail for Democrats.
Senator Kamala Harris has proposed a ban on importing semiautomatic weapons, called assault weapons. Former Congressman Beto Beto O'Rourke has called for basically a -- a -- well, conservatives call it gun confiscation. He calls it a mandatory federal buyback program for the same weapons.
Do you support either of those proposals?
KLOBUCHAR: What I support is an immediate assault weapon ban, so we can't keep purchasing them.
And in a number of these mass shootings, the perpetrators, the murderers have actually gone out in the last year, the last two years, got them online.
And so, to me, that would be the most immediately smart thing to do. You can't do any of this without that.
TAPPER: But not a mandatory buyback, not a...
KLOBUCHAR: I would look at a voluntary buyback for certain, and I think you would do that with the government and the private sector combined to get the funds to do that, and then you go from there. You could look at the other, but I would start with the voluntary. And the other thing I would do is get the magazine limitations in
place. Those things are going to make a big difference. And you can't do these other things unless you put in the assault weapons ban, because they're going to keep buying them.
The other thing that's the most important, Jake -- and I think you know this -- is what's happening next week, three sensible bills on Mitch McConnell's desk, one, universal background checks, which the facts seem to indicate could have prevented that horrible killing in Odessa and Midland, since that man had failed the background check once, and then was somehow able to get a gun.
Closing the Charleston loophole, as well as closing the boyfriend loophole, which is my bill, which is very helpful to prevent domestic homicides.
And Mitch McConnell has basically deflected to the president and a game of Whac-A-Mole, a dangerous game, and saying, well, maybe if he agrees, well, maybe if my people agree.
Show some leadership. Let these bills come up. The House passed them with some Republican support.
TAPPER: There's a new poll out today from ABC News showing that Vice President Biden remains the front-runner among Democratic voters.
I want to play some sound from Congressman Tim Ryan, who's also running for president, who's not backing down from comments he made earlier this week that -- that Biden, in his view, doesn't have the energy to beat President Trump in 2020.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a comment that I made, and that -- you know, I'm not backtracking from it. It is a concern you're hearing from a lot people in the country.
I'm just saying that there's a -- it's unclear sometimes. When he is articulating positions, there's a lack of clarity. And I'll leave it at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you have any concerns about Vice President Biden's ability, if he is the nominee, to beat President Trump?
KLOBUCHAR: I'm running my own campaign.
And I think one of the reasons we have these debates is so that people can make those assessments themselves. The vice president has broad experience. And we all know that. And I think that it's just time. We're going to have to see which candidate emerges.
I don't think I'm in the place to comment. That's for the voters to decide this.
But I'll make my case. I have a lot of energy. I'm someone that never stops working. I'm someone that is from the Midwest, the area that we had the hardest place winning in, in 2016. And I have shown the ability over and over and over again.
And I don't want to be the president for half of America, Jake. I want to be the president for all of America.
To win, we don't just want to win by a little. We want to win big. That's the only way you take back the Senate, the only way that you get these things done.
My colleagues and I have been talking about gun safety and the assault weapon ban, major -- major action on climate change, immigration reform.
If Mitch McConnell is still sitting there stopping everything, we're not going to be able to advance our progress that we need for our country.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: All right. Thank you, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: My next guest says that Democratic voters are looking for generational change.
So, why are the leading presidential candidates over 70?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Officials in the Bahamas say the death toll, now at 43 people, is still expected to rise drastically after Hurricane Dorian, the strongest hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas in recorded history, turned neighborhoods into rubble.
And here in the U.S., one government agency is now backing up President Trump's incorrect claims from last Sunday about the storm's path.
Joining me now is Democratic presidential candidate and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
Secretary Castro, I want to ask you about President Trump and his decision to at least temporarily call off peace talks with the Taliban at Camp David.
You said you want to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. What do you make of it all?
CASTRO: This is another bizarre episode, Jake, for two reasons. First of all I think like most Americans I don't know what to believe anymore that comes out of the mouth or the tweet of this president. Folks will remember that just a few days ago he said that he had been in touch with China, apparently in order to try to calm the markets and staff later said that that wasn't the case.
And so the way he tweeted this out, I'm still looking for confirmation that an actual, physical trip to Camp David was planned. But if it was, if it had been planned, that's bizarre as well. Because even though I do support a negotiated political settlement there that will increase stability and make sure that Afghanistan is not used as a base of terrorist operations, it's very odd to invite a terrorist organization like that to Camp David. That's not in keeping with the way that the United States negotiates.
And, you know, I draw a straight line between this and the fact that he has elevated Kim Jong-un with three summits now, even though in the first summit, the Singapore summit, Kim Jong-un promised North Korea would give to the United States an inventory of its weapons so that we could use that as a basis for future negotiations. They never did that. And still at the same time there was a second summit and third summit.
So, this is the worst president when it comes to negotiating I think that we've had in a very long time. It's another bizarre episode. It's more of his erratic behavior that people are tired of and that's one of the reasons I believe that he's going to lose in 2020.
TAPPER: The president has spent a lot of time in the last week trying to insist his tweet a week ago today in which I told people in Alabama and other states but the incorrect information was Alabama, that the storm -- Hurricane Dorian was going to hit them much harder than had been predicted. That was not true according to the experts at the time.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out a statement I think on Friday which disputed its own scientists and weather experts to back up the president's claim that Alabama would likely be hit much harder than anticipated. What did you think of that?
CASTRO: Look, those organizations are supposed to be independent neutral scientific organizations that don't play politics. That's what we want them to be.
Under the Trump administration, whether it's them or it's folks who remember the National Park Service, after the National Park Service on the very first day of this administration they put out that photo that showed that his crowd size at the inauguration was not what he claimed and he tried to browbeat them. This is a president that steps all over the traditional role of a chief executive when it comes to these organizations. And what happens is you compromise the trust that is supposed to exist between their work and the American public.
And so it's a real embarrassment. Yes. I wish I could say that I hope this president is going to not do that again but again it's the same erratic behavior, destructive behavior, that is deprofessionalizing the government of the United States of America and turning us into a banana republic little by little I think Americans have had enough of it and they're going to make a change in 2020.
TAPPER: Both Bernie Sanders and your fellow other fellow competitor, former congressman Beto O'Rouke, has suggested they would be opening to leveraging, using U.S. financial aid to Israel to push that country to pursue a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Is that something you would consider?
CASTRO: Well, look I believe that we're going to have an opportunity after the September elections in Israel. I hope we're going to have a new opportunity to be a part of trying to bring those two parties together for peace there, with a two-state solution.
I agree that with our allies, sometimes tough love is in order. But I would hope that we wouldn't have to go down that road. Israel is an ally. It's going to continue to be an ally.
I have deep concerns about Netanyahu and his administration and we do need to ensure that the rights of Palestinians, human rights are respected.
So I would hope that we wouldn't have to go down that road.
TAPPER: OK. You would hope -- you would not necessarily want to leverage USA to Israel to push him to do that, is that what you're saying?
CASTRO: Well, that would not be my first move. I'm not saying that would not ever happen, and I think we're going to have a new opportunity after September because I'm hoping that they're going to have a new administration.
However, I think there's a lot of working room between here and there.
TAPPER: There's a new poll out today suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden remains the front-runner in the Democratic race. A lot of polls of Democratic voters suggest that one of the reasons for this is a lot of Democratic voters think Biden is the most electable, that he has the best chance of beating Trump than any other Democrat. What do you think?
CASTRO: What I see is that, you know, every time Democrats have won since 1960, they've won because we had a nominee that excited young people, brought together a new diverse coalition of Americans, and was able to get that victory, whether you're talking about Kennedy or even Carter in '76 in his own way, Bill Clinton in 1992 or Barack Obama in 2008, I'm confident that I can reassemble that Obama coalition, and then take it to the next level. So we can go back and get Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that we lost by less than 77,000 votes collectively. And also go get the 29 electoral votes of Florida, compete in places like Arizona, Texas and Georgia.
And -- so that is what I think the winning formula is for Democrats in 2020. It's not to play it safe. It's not to believe that if we're just a little bit different Republicans that we're going to will win.
TAPPER: All right. Secretary Castro, thank you very much. Good luck Thursday at the debate state.
CASTRO: Thanks a lot, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up -- with the Russia investigation in the rear view mirror Democrats have a new plan to investigate President Trump. We will discuss that and much more, next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast, they thought they would get it. The original path that most people thought it was going to be taken, as you know, was right through Florida where on the right would have been Georgia, Alabama, et cetera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The focus for the president for the last week proving his one week ago tweet was accurate when he said Alabama was going to get the storm much harder than anticipated even though no experts at the time said that he was correct. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA has now sided with President Trump over its own scientists. David Titley or Titley, the former chief officer for NOAA tweeted -- quote -- "Perhaps the darkest day ever for NOAA leadership. Don't know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral cowardice."
What do you think about that, Dr. El-Sayed?
ABDUL EL-SAYED (D), FORMER CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: I'm a scientist. And one of the most important things that we look to leadership from the federal government for is direction in science.
I mean, one of the best aspects of what has always made this country great is the fact that we have invested in science and scientists to give us the truth. And when you start seeing that science fall away for partisan purposes, leadership at a place like NOAA saying, no, no we have to assuage that the president's very, very large ego a whole week after the facts were clear, it didn't actually go anywhere near Alabama, so that he could talk about Alabama for political purposes we have to start asking, what is this man doing to the infrastructure of American government?
TAPPER: What did you make of it? AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it just seems at this point there's no aspect of our government that cannot be politicized by the president. I mean, this is the weather. It is the science.
We saw what we saw. And, you know, it is on people in the media and other aspects of government to say no, that's not true. What he put on the sharpie was not true and -- so -- but this is a game that Trump plays. He keeps poking it because he wants to say, oh, look at them, they're going ballistic and we will sell sharpie and make a joke out of it. And so it just really -- it's on us to keep calling the truth the truth and stand firm on them.
KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN: But here's the problem. He's also the guy who said fake news. I'm the only one you can trust, right? So, for the people who follow him who saw -- who are not sure -- so now am I supposed to -- is it Alabama? Should I get my kids? Should I not get my kids?
And the thing that is so outrageous is not just that he politicized it it's that a government agency that he controls, he got them to lie for him and he's misleading the American people. That's outrageous.
And this is a president who has also said he has no problem taking information from a foreign government for political purposes. There's no -- there are no boundaries, there are no lines with this president.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm a communicator and I tend to look at things through the lens of weeks. And so what did we spend all week talking about? Alabama and this map when we could have been talking about any number of things, the climate change show we had here on CNN provided a massive amount of fodder that could have been -- what if the president had gotten up the next day and tweeted out clip after clip about, you know, let's get rid of the cows and the straws. You know, Bernie Sanders talking about having abortions for the purpose of fixing climate change. I mean --
TAPPER: Population control.
JENNINGS: Yes. What if he had done that? Instead we were talking about this. So, to me it's a lost week just from a political tactics perspective.
There were a lot of things out there he could have done, he chose to stay on this and so it's a lost week in terms of building support.
TAPPER: Let us move on to another subject which, of course, is the president surprise tweets that he had invited the Taliban and the president of Afghanistan to Camp David for peace negotiations but then after the Taliban took credit or blame, however you want to put it, for a suicide bombing that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier, he canceled the meeting. Now, look, there are people in the Obama administration who said, look, President Trump and Ambassador Khalilzad are doing the right thing by directly negotiating with the Taliban. And, of course, I think probably everybody on this table and probably most people watching think it is time for the war in Afghanistan to end, but what do you make of this all?
FINNEY: Well, first of all this -- early this morning I had to pause to see if I actually believed it, quite frankly. Because again to what we were just talking about, you never quite know what quite to believe.
I agree with you, Jake. I think most Americans would agree it's -- the right thing to be having these conversations. We were just talking about this. I'm surprised that the meeting wouldn't have been somewhere not on U.S. soil, Switzerland, Greenland.
I mean, there are other places. There is -- I mean, having lived in New York City and lived through 9/11, I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of having this meeting at Camp David, and having it the week of 9/11. It's such a -- it's still such a tender spot in so many of our hearts.
JENNINGS: Yes, I agree with Karen that I think that people will expect the president, and if we don't get it done in this presidency, the next president to figure out a way out of this finally. But the thought of having these people step foot on American soil after what they did to us makes my blood boil.
And I think a lot of -- you know, we're having elections now, by the way. We have now voters in our electorate who don't remember 9/11 the way that we all remember it here. It is vital that we never -- we never forget how we all felt that day. That feeling can never leave us.
And so the thought of bringing them here makes me very angry and I think a lot of Republicans are going to be very uncomfortable with it, not that don't want to -- not that they don't want the president to fulfill his campaign promise on getting out but the optics of having them American soil.
TAPPER: So, Dr. El-Sayed, I asked Pompeo about that and his basic answer was, look -- I'm paraphrasing here but something along the lines of, look, the president is trying to achieve peace here and this was in his view the way to do it.
EL-SAYED: We spent nearly a trillion dollars of American money that could have been spent doing so many other things of great good. It's time to end this war but it didn't have to happen by having the roughshod, slip shod negotiation tactic. These people destroyed so much of what we know of as global peace and understanding as a Muslim- American who's a junior in high school sitting in my chemistry class watching those planes hit the Twin Towers, I didn't know how much my life was going to change just because my name is Abdul. And the other fact of the matter is just let's step back and appreciate the double standard. What if a tweet came out that President Obama was planning to bring Taliban negotiators into town in this country. I mean, it would have been mayhem on the right.
And so I don't think it's fair for us to look at this moment and just say, well, you know what? He's Republican, he gets a pass. We have got to be honest about all of the subtext and the conversation. And the way that race and religion have played out because of what these people did. I believe in ending the war but I believe that there are a lot of other opportunities to have negotiations in other places that could bring this war to an end.
TAPPER: And imagine as Dr. El-Sayed just did President Obama proposing that Taliban leadership come to Camp David for a peace negotiation that wasn't even a done deal is an interesting exercise in imagination. Because I imagine impeachment hearings would begin tomorrow.
CARPENTER: Oh, for sure. I mean, I can't even imagine what the Republican reaction would have been because (INAUDIBLE) feelings, my blood is boiling over this. And I'm left wondering what was the plan here? How was the Taliban going to get to U.S. soil? Was the U.S. aircraft going to ferry them over? Would the U.S. military going to give them a ride?
And what was the purpose of this, so that President Trump could announce some kind of fake peace plan the day of 9/11 without any preconditions, without a day of cease-fire? What were they thinking? I really want to know what the plan was before it went haywire.
TAPPER: Well, I don't have an answer for you and I don't think that Secretary Pompeo did either. But I will just say that we all would like an end to the war in Afghanistan but this -- those tweets were rather shocking. Thanks one and all for being here.
You may have heard of Harold and his purple crayon. Just wait until you see what President Trump can do with his black Sharpie. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER: Welcome back. President Trump is already the most powerful person in the world, but now we've learned that he can even change history and weather. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): This week, President Trump held up a weather map with an extra line drawn in with a Sharpie to back up his erroneous claim that on Sunday, Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.
TRUMP: Ultimately, I'm always right. TAPPER: It led us to wonder what else the president might use a Sharpie to fix. He could alter the border of Dublin, Ireland, so that Vice President Pence's stay 180 miles away at a Trump resort makes any sort of sense beyond lining the boss' pockets.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was pleased to have the opportunity.
TAPPER: He could use this new Sharpie reality to fill in the empty spaces during his inauguration.
TRUMP: And I'll tell you what, this is some crowd, some turnout.
TAPPER: The Sharpie reality reminds us of the classic children's book, "Harold and the Purple Crayon."
The protagonist creating his own reality with his chosen writing implement, except it's Donald and the black Sharpie. Changing the reality of the border fence.
TRUMP: The wall is being built. It's going up rapidly.
TAPPER: Or when the economy started recovering. Or whether or not first lady Melania Trump had ever actually met Kim Jong-un.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It has been my honor.
TAPPER: Then again, maybe we're reading too much into it, as Ida (ph) on Twitter points out, this is a president who has tried to make other scandals disappear with the stroke of his Sharpie.
TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. You can follow me on Twitter @jaketapper. You can tweet the show CNNSOTU -- SOTU.
Next, our politicians in the U.K. making politics here in the U.S. look relatively good. Fareed Zakaria looks at all the Brexit developments this week and what's likely to happen next across the pond. Stay with us.