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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Ex-Trump Campaign Manager Stonewalls Democrats; Nadler Warns Lewandowski Could Be Held In Contempt; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Their Accomplishments During The First Impeachment Hearing; Lewandowski, Dems Clash During Contentious Impeachment Hearing; Lewandowski Invokes Executive Privilege In House Testimony Despite Never Working In White House; 2020 Dem Julian Castro Slams Trump's Comments About Hispanics; Israeli Exit Polls Show Netanyahu Race Too Close to Call. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired September 17, 2019 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Democrats' first impeachment hearing descending into chaos. The President's former campaign manager combative clashing with Democrats who weren't better. So what did the Judiciary Committee accomplish? Plus, Trump's controversial pitch to Hispanics one 2020 Democrat tonight calls it racist. And President Trump heads to the heart of opposition tonight preparing for a new battle with a governor that has been a thorn in his side. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Democrats' first official impeachment hearing now in the books after descending into disarray. The President's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, telling people on Twitter to tune in and he brought it, doing everything in his power to stop Democrats from laying a hand on President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): It is correct that as reported in the Mueller report on June 19, 2017, you met alone in the Oval Office with the President? I said is it ...

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Is there a book and page number you can reference me to, please? I don't have a copy of the report in front of me.

NADLER: Volume two, page 90. But I simply ask you is it correct that as reported in the Mueller report on June 19, 2017, you met alone in the Oval Office with the President.

LEWANDOWSKI: Could you read the exact language of the report, sir? I don't have it available to me.

NADLER: I don't think I need to do that and I have limited time. Did you meet alone with the President on that date? LEWANDOWSKI: Congressman, I'd like you to refresh my memory by

providing a copy of the report so I can follow along.

NADLER: You don't have a copy with?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't have a copy of the report, Congressman.

NADLER: Do you not have an independent recollection of whether you met with the President on that date?

LEWANDOWSKI: Congressman, I'm just trying to find in the Mueller report where it states that.

NADLER: Well, you have it in front of you. I gave you the page number.

LEWANDOWSKI: OK, where on page 90 is it, sir?

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Mr. Chairman, you got to start the clock.

NADLER: No, I don't have to start the clock when he's filibustering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And that was just the tip of the iceberg. No rising to the occasion of what should have been a serious congressional hearing involving a key figure in Mueller's report. Lewandowski made a farce of it all.

But instead of fact finding, it turned into both sides trading insults and accusations and Chairman Nadler tonight says that he's considering holding Lewandowski in contempt. He says his behavior in the hearing room was completely unacceptable. The thing is when you hear how the hearing then played out neither side looked good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): ... and you should be here to be telling the truth, Mr. Lewandowski ...

COLLINS: The gentlelady's time has expired, Mr. Chairman.

LEE: ... because the truth will set you free and the American people. I yield back.

NADLER: The time of the gentlelady has expired. The witness may answer the question.

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't believe there was a question, Congressman.

NADLER: Very well.

LEE: Yes, there was.

LEWANDOWSKI: Could you repeat the question? I didn't hear it.

LEE: I'll be happy to repeat the question.

LEWANDOWSKI: It's just a rant.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Mr. Lewandowski, I'm going to put a slide up and it's the words that President Trump dictated to you on July 19. Can you read what you wrote down?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm happy to have you read it, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Well why don't you want to read it, Mr. Lewandowski?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think you should afford me the same privilege you afforded Director Mueller.

SWALWELL: Would you like to read it?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, you're welcome to read it.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed of the words that you wrote down?

LEWANDOWSKI: President Swalwell, I'm very happy of what I've written, but you're welcome to read it if you'd like.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed to read it out loud?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm not ashamed of anything in my life, Congressman, are you?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Are you representing the White House has told you that they are invoking the executive privilege on your behalf today?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't believe it's an executive privilege, sir. And again, I think we've submitted the letter for your clarification of what the White House has said.

RASKIN: Well, let me ask you ...

LEWANDOWSKI: But it's not my privilege to waive.

RASKIN: Well, I don't think it's anyone's privilege to waive because I don't think it exists, Mr. Lewandowski. I think the whole thing is imaginary. It's like the tooth fairy. You didn't work for the President in the White House.

LEWANDOWSKI: My children are watching. Thank you, Congressman.

RASKIN: I'm sorry?

LEWANDOWSKI: My children are watching, so thank you for that.

RASKIN: Well, I hope the President is not on then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And it went on for five hours. From the start, Lewandowski's performance was for an audience of one and that audience was watching from Air Force One. Pamela Brown is out front live outside the White House. Pamela, the president seemed elated.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Erin. President Trump watched Corey Lewandowski's opening statement on Air Force One on his way to California today and expressed his approval most immediately over Twitter, saying it was such a beautiful opening statement.

He went on to thank Corey for it and he even tweeted a link to the testimony on C-SPAN. Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham also praising the statement and several aides have praised his combative performance today. Right out of the gate, Lewandowski was clearly catering to the President and no doubt the President like when he heard when Lewandowski talked about the privilege it was to work for his campaign, how Trump defied odds by becoming president.

And Lewandowski also took a swipe at President Obama and Joe Biden say they had the responsibility to the American people to ensure the integrity of the 2016 election and that Trump had been harassed since the day he took office. So you see they're repeating many of the same talking points President Trump himself has made.

[19:05:04]

Now, there was an interesting point today when Lewandowski said the reason he didn't relay President Trump's message to him to Jeff Sessions was because he went on vacation. So again, Corey Lewandowski did seem to be playing to an audience of one today.

Now, the President arrived in California. He had several meetings, back to back meetings there. So it's unclear how much he actually was able to catch of this hearing, but he certainly liked what he saw from the very beginning, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Pamela, thank you very much. And I want to go out front now to a member of the House Judiciary Committee who questioned Lewandowski today, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell.

Congressman, good to have you with me tonight. OK.

SWALWELL: Thanks, Erin. Good evening.

BURNETT: Now, this is in the rearview mirror. What do you think you accomplished?

SWALWELL: Well, it took a long time to accomplish Mr. Lewandowski's role in this. It could have gone, I think, a lot faster. But here's what he did, the President told him in a one on one meeting to write something down, something that Mr. Lewandowski said had never occurred before in their long standing relationship and he wanted Mr. Lewandowski to tell Mr. Sessions to pare down the Russia investigation and if he wouldn't take that meeting, he'd be fired.

That's an obstructive act. That's actually not - it took me 30 seconds to explain that. It took him hours to finally cop to that. And I think it just goes to the obstructive behavior that we've seen from this White House.

BURNETT: And look, when you talk about it taking a long time, it did and it was, in a lot of ways, I have to say there were humorous moments, but then I think as an American citizen, it was pretty depressing. I mean you knew Lewandowski was going to be like this.

He said as much on Twitter. "Come on, guys. Bring it." And a lot of the back and forth didn't go anywhere. I mean here's one of your exchanges with Lewandowski, Congressman, let me play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWALWELL: Mr. Lewandowski, I'm going to put a slide up and it's the words that President Trump dictated to you on July 19. Can you read what you wrote down?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm happy to have you read it, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Well why don't you want to read it, Mr. Lewandowski?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think you should afford me the same privilege you afforded Director Mueller.

SWALWELL: Would you like to read it?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, you're welcome to read it.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed of the words that you wrote down?

LEWANDOWSKI: President Swalwell, I'm very happy of what I've written, but you're welcome to read it if you'd like.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed to read it out loud?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm not ashamed of anything in my life, Congressman, are you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, look, it's an ugly exchange. What were you trying to accomplish with that question, Congressman?

SWALWELL: It was interesting that we asked him to read what the President asked him to deliver to Sessions, which was to end the Russia investigation. So he didn't ever deliver that message, which I think shows that he knew it was wrong and the fact that he wasn't even willing to read it out loud that he was hesitant to do that showed again that he knew what was wrong and he wasn't proud of what his role was there and had a little bit of shame for it.

And to me, that goes to a consciousness of guilt that this was a corrupt act. We're trying to show the American people corrupt intent by the President and I think that was Exhibit A.

BURNETT: So are you concerned though that that moment where you're trying to get him to read something that's already in the report and he won't read it. I mean are you worried that made maybe you look bad too? We already knew what it was, it's in the report.

SWALWELL: Yes. Again, you're trying to bring the report to life because the report is a lengthy document and most Americans just understand we don't have time to read it. But then I look, Erin, at like, "What's the opposite of what I did, doing nothing, and not having these hearings, and the President's behavior gets worse and future presidents have a lower standard of conduct?"

So there's no good solutions here. And I would say the President, credit to him, he is winning the short game. He is successfully obstructing and confusing the American people. But there is going to be a cascade of court opinions against him saying that the obstruction, telling witnesses not to testify is unlawful and that's going to come soon.

And there's going to be a reckoning and the American people are not going to be too happy when he continues to defy those court orders.

BURNETT: So I want to play another exchange that you had with Lewandowski today. Let me play it, Congressman.

SWALWELL: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SWALWELL: Have you ever put any words that the President asked you to write down before in a safe, or was this the first time you'd done that?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe it's my standard operating procedure when taking notes, Congressman.

SWALWELL: So every note you take of the President you put in a safe?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't ...

SWALWELL: How bid is that safe?

LEWANDOWSKI: ... it's a big safe, Congressman. There's a lot of guns in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: What did you make of that? I mean just his blatant - I don't use certain words on TV, but his attitude.

SWALWELL: Yes. I mean like cool. That's great. I mean I don't know why any of us care if you have guns in your safe. I think it just showed the lack of seriousness, for the proceedings.

BURNETT: So there was plenty of clear and damning stuff in the Mueller report, all right? As you lay out. It very clearly lays out what the President asked Lewandowski to do, which he refused to do. So it's very clear in there.

I understand the point that you make as Democrats. You say people haven't read it. You want to bring it to life. But things got muddled today, it didn't come to life. Like let me just play this exchange between one of your colleagues and Lewandowski.

SWALWELL: OK.

[19:10:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): President Trump was hounding you about when are you going to deliver that message, correct?

LEWANDOWSKI: Completely inaccurate, Congressman.

JOHNSON: Well, he asked you about it a few times, didn't he?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, he did not.

JOHNSON: He never asked you whether or not you had delivered that message?

LEWANDOWSKI: Not on multiple occasions, no.

JOHNSON: One occasion, OK, he did mention it on one occasion to you?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know if that's in the report, sir, or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And, of course, he does know what's in the report and the report says as you know, Congressman, the President followed up with Lewandowski in a separate one-on-one meeting, a month after he first dictated that message for Sessions.

SWALWELL: It's frustrating. It's really frustrating.

BURNETT: I mean my question there was the Congressman says multiple times, OK, gets corrected because it's one time.

SWALWELL: Yes.

BURNETT: But people get confused and it kind of looks like, "OK, it didn't happen." People aren't watching that carefully when things like that happen. Could exchanges like that have hurt your cause?

SWALWELL: Well, again, it's an imperfect proceeding. You have humans doing it. There's going to be mistakes. I think that was an honest mistake.

But the questions before that, Mr. Lewandowski kept saying, "I don't recall. You'll have to point me to the Mueller report where I said it." And I've sat interviews with Mr. Lewandowski that were not public and he had a pretty good memory and didn't do what he did here today for the cameras.

And, again, if the opposite is just not having these hearings and letting the lawlessness continue, I don't want that so this may be messy, it may be imperfect, but we are showing that people will be held accountable and again ...

BURNETT: And do you still intend to put everybody on camera? I mean obviously he has his personality is such that he wouldn't want it be a Doberman like he was today.

SWALWELL: Well, Erin, I don't ...

BURNETT: But does it make you pause with others that they're going to try to put that performance on as well?

SWALWELL: I don't want to be standing here answering to you as to why we didn't put people on camera, so yes the public should see it.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Of course.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, it was Corey Lewandowski's cover at today's contentious hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussion.

NADLER: How many times ...

LEWANDOWSKI: I can't discuss private conversations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: But he never worked in the White House, so how would executive privilege have any possibility of flying in this case? That's next. And the President tries to win over Hispanic voters, did he cross the line with comments that a 2020 candidate called racist or not? And a crucial election underway tonight, President Trump, is he about to lose one of his biggest allies?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:34]

BURNETT: New tonight, Trump's big bet to shut down impeachment, executive privilege. And former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski who never even worked in the White House sure tried to use it all day today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussions ...

NADLER: How many times ...

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed that I not disclose the substance of any discussion with the President.

I will not discuss any conversation I've had with the President, Congressman.

I am respecting the executive branch privilege of confidentiality at the request of the White House, so I can't discuss private conversations that may or may not occur with the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. That's called sticking with script. Out front now Harry Sandick, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dana Bash, our Chief Political Correspondent and Robert Litt, former General Counsel for the Director of National Intelligence under the Obama administration. Thanks to all.

Harry, you're with me. So Corey Lewandowski never worked at the White House, worked with Trump a long time. I mean he knew him pretty well.

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yes.

BURNETT: A person I always heard him refer to as Mr. Trump, does executive privilege hold up?

SANDICK: No, it doesn't apply in this context. To claim executive privilege, first of all you have to be in the executive branch, in the White House having communications with the President.

BURNETT: So even a conversation with the sitting president if you are not working in the White House at all would not be covered.

SANDICK: That's right. And in fact we saw Jim Comey testify about his conversations with the President. There's no bar to this. The White House can't block it. It's a decision that Mr. Lewandowski is making not to answer the questions.

In addition, the Supreme Court in Nixon case many years ago said that the executive privilege that does exist can't be used to block testimony or evidence of a crime. And that's what they were talking about today in this hearing.

BURNETT: All right. So this seems to not add up at all. I mean the thing is, Dana, not only did Corey do that, he did what we just showed some of. I mean he belittled the entire process and those who were in the hearing. And they knew he was going to do it, he tweeted about angry Democrats trying to take down Trump and told people to tune in out of it. We all know Corey Lewandowski.

Shouldn't the Democrats have predicted that they would get this spectacle from him? He prides himself on being a Trump bulldog. He died for that tweet today from the President.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He sure did. Absolutely, Erin. Anybody who watched him when he was the campaign manager, when he was a TV analyst both paid and now non paid and now that he is somebody who is seriously considering running for Senate in New Hampshire should know that this is his MO. He doesn't care.

It is an audience of one. We may be overuse that term in the Trump years, but Corey Lewandowski didn't need to be given the script because he could write the script. It flows through his veins, the idea of how to talk in Trump's language, how to speak Trump ease.

And he went in there fully intending to do just that and not just about pleasing the boss, but also about pleasing the bosses base in the state of New Hampshire where he is seriously considering a run for the Senate but has to win a primary first. That is a huge part of it.

BURNETT: Yes.

BASH: But even if he weren't considered in that first future, it's what he would have done because it's who he is.

BURNETT: And I want to get to that in just a moment because that could be a crucial part of this. Robert, there were moments today, the Mueller report, for example, says President Trump told Lewandowski to order Jeff Sessions to say the whole thing is a hoax, it's unfair. That's at the core, it's documented and that's what happened.

[19:20:01]

Now, Lewandowski said he didn't think the message was illegal, but obviously he did not deliver it. But we all knew that from the report. What he added today was the reason that he didn't deliver it and it was supposedly completely innocent. I just want to play part of the exchange for you, Robert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWANDOWSKI: Correct, I never delivered the message.

JOHNSON: You chickened out.

LEWANDOWSKI: I went on vacation.

JOHNSON: You went on vacation.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): How long was your vacation, Mr. Lewandowski?

LEWANDOWSKI: Oh, it's lengthy. I think at least two weeks.

JEFFRIES: At least two weeks. But you were summoned again to the White House on July 19th, 30 days after the original June 19th meeting. True?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe that's accurate, yes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So Robert, Lewandowski obviously called out here, not only did he say he didn't do Trump's bidding on vacation which is a joke. That would never stop Lewandowski from doing Trump's bidding, but he did not do it for weeks after his vacation. So was that call out effective?

ROBERT LITT, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think you have to recognize that what's going on here is Lewandowski he's boxing to a certain extent by what's in the Mueller report. He wasn't going to vary from that, but he was going to take every opportunity he could to try to soften it.

I think people can judge for themselves whether it's a particularly persuasive explanation that he didn't obey a request from the President of the United States because he was going on vacation for two weeks. But it served the purpose of trying to undermine the Mueller report's conclusions.

BURNETT: I mean, yes, it is laughable except for it isn't because it was muddying in the water. I mean, Harry, this was the first official hearing of the House Democrats' impeachment proceedings, OK? They knew what they were going to get, they got what they expected.

But you do think they needed to hold this hearing even though this was such a circus and a sad reflection on everything. But how does this affect other potential witnesses?

SANDICK: Well, I think other potential witnesses will watch this and I guess they may come to two conclusions. Most of the hearing was conducted by the members of the committee and I think they did their best to ask tough questions, tried to get answers.

But the witness tried to make it really into a show and into a spectacle, and I think you might see other witnesses, if they're able to do it, to try to do that too. At the end of the hearing, the Judiciary Committee had a professional questioner, Barry Berke, who's a prominent defense lawyer here in New York.

I know Barry, lots of people do and he's a great questioner of witnesses. And he made significant headway and if I were on the committee, I might see about expanding his time.

BURNETT: Right, to get more. I mean, because, yes, by then the big show was over.

SANDICK: That's right.

BURNETT: And maybe he had some of the most important stuff, people didn't see it.

BASH: Yes.

BURNETT: I mean, Dana, Lewandowski was clearly playing to the audience of one. That was the tweet Pam was showing, such a beautiful opening statement by Corey Lewandowski. As you point out, he's probably going to run for Senate. He tweeted a link to his new website for his potential Senate run to try to raise money off of all this. I mean was this basically a win for him?

BASH: Politically, absolutely. There are discussions in hush terms about whether or not he hurt himself legally, but whether he said anything today under oath that contradicts what he said before under oath. Unfortunately, we don't have those transcripts the last time he was on Capitol Hill, so it's hard to really know.

But what he really cares about is the President of the United States. He would walk through fire for him and today he actually did that. First of all, even if there is another witness that would be compelled to testify, I can't imagine it being the same. I mean a Don McGahn, for example, which it's a big pitch.

BURNETT: Well, he just wouldn't say things like - some of the things we're saying.

BASH: This is not his personality. It's not his thing.

BURNETT: Yes. No, (inaudible) ...

BASH: I mean the reason why Corey Lewandowski said, "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, I will come." Whereas everybody else said no is so he could do exactly this today. And I was surprised that the Democrats were surprised and seemed caught off guard. Really surprised.

BURNETT: I mean, yes, that seems just so expected. I mean, all right, Roberts so the context here as they're working on these impeachment hearings is a whistleblower case could reach into the Oval Office about something vital to National Security. So there's a deadline tonight and it just hours, the DNI is a deadline, they've got a turnover a whistleblower complaint and this is to the House Intelligence Committee.

Chairman Schiff told CNN about who the whistleblower could be and I wanted to play what he said because it's pretty important.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): ... someone above the DNI, there aren't that many in that category and they also suggested there may be privilege issues here which means that it would have to involve communications of the President or people around him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So Robert, does that signal that this whistleblower which is saying this is about something vital to National Security, some vital compromise to National Security could involve President Trump?

LITT: Well, that's an obvious implication when the White House directs the Director of National Intelligence not to produce a whistleblower complaint that he's obligated by law to produce and the White House says it's on the grounds of privilege. It's really the same thing we were just talking about with Corey Lewandowski.

[19:24:59]

This administration has the broadest assertion of executive privilege that we've ever seen that seems to cover any communication that the President has with anybody or that anybody has with any person in the White House.

In this case, as I said, there's a statute that requires this to be turned over to Congress and I suspect that the DNI is going to continue to refuse and he's been subpoenaed to testify on Thursday, so we'll see what happens then.

BURNETT: Well, it's going to be crucial and obviously crucial with a lot of questions about it if it does involve the President what sort of a vital National Security issue it could be. Thank you all so very much. And next, President Trump under fire after this pitch to win over Latino voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a wasp than I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, Trump escalating his war with his biggest critic, Governor of California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Yes. Well, checkmate, I mean we actually did something he didn't see coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:24]

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Trump under fire tonight for comments about Hispanics. Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro tweeting, we won't be othered by Donald Trump. We won't be scared of his racist rhetoric. We will defeat him.

All right. What Castro is referring to are remarks that Trump made to CNN -- CNN contributor Steve Cortes and he made these comments at last night's rally in New Mexico.

Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than wasp than I do. So I haven't figured that one out, but there is nobody who loves this country more or Hispanic more than Steve Cortes. Steve?

Who do you like more? The country or the Hispanics? He says the country. I don't know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you.

We have a lot of Hispanics. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Maria Cardona, former DNC communications director, and Scott Jennings, former senior adviser to Mitch McConnell.

So, Maria he loves his Hispanics? Do you feel loved? I mean, Cortes took Trump's comments as awkward phrasing. Is that what it was? Or is Julian Castro right that that masks -- that humor masks racism?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course, it masks racism and he doesn't do a very good job of masking it. It's -- look, these comments were racist, they were ignorant and frankly they were just downright stupid. But we shouldn't be surprised from what we've seen this president spew from the moment he came down the escalator when he announced his campaign when he called Mexicans rapists and murderers.

So, what else can we expect from this man? But the most ironic thing about it is that he actually believes that he's doing well with Hispanics? He actually believes that the Hispanics love him?

Look, he is at a record low with Latinos in terms of Republican presidents. His approval rating among Latinos has hovered in the high teens and low 20s. In the latest Univision Latino Decisions poll, you have 71 percent of Latinos who said they will vote for the Democratic candidate, 15 percent maybe will vote for Trump. He's in dire straits with Latinos.

BURNETT: OK. So, I'm going to get to numbers in a moment, but, Scott, first, I'm going to give you a chance to respond. Is there a way for it not to be racist when the president asks who do you like more Hispanics or America to someone who is Hispanic?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I think if Steve Cortes is not outraged by his interaction with the president and it doesn't sound like he is, then there's no reason for us to be outraged. Is it awkward what Steve said? Then, sure, it's awkward.

CARDONA: Oh, wow.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Well, Mr. Cheadle, who the quote/unquote, my African- American.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: I'm shocked to learn that Maria was outraged --

BURNETT: -- he called my African-American, he wasn't offended and now he is, and he says, actually, I realize it was racist. So, I mean, sure, that's what Steve Cortes says now. I have no idea what Steve Cortes is going to say in a year.

JENNINGS: Yes, well, look, I mean, I think he's on CNN later tonight so maybe somebody can ask him. But, I mean, Maria and Julian Castro and all of the Democrats are perpetually outraged at Trump and this is how the guy talks and I don't know how he's doing with Hispanics.

CARDONA: I just told you.

JENNINGS: But I know how they're doing with him. Hispanic unemployment is at record low, and more people in the minority community, according to "The Washington Post" review of the data are getting jobs than white people in this country. It's the first time it's ever happened.

And that's good when Hispanics and African-Americans and minorities can all share in a good economy. So, we can be outraged about the phrasing, but the results of the economy are pretty good for Hispanics and other minority groups.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Scott's making it about the economy. Trump's not even making it about the economy. He's going to the heart of the whole thing and he says it's his stance on immigration that is his popularity among Latinos is on the rise and here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Hispanic-Americans, they understand they don't want criminals coming across the border. They don't want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security, and they want the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, Maria, the latest poll we have at CNN which found President Trump's popularity among Hispanics is at 29 percent. Look, there is a 7 percent, you know, plus or minus on that. It's a wide one. But 29 percent, which is up from 2017. Look at it, ten points up from 2017.

So, is it possible the president's right?

CARDONA: No. It's not, and what I'll say about mainstream polls is that they don't do the in-depth polling bilingually and on cell phones and with a larger group of Latinos that Latino Decisions and Univision does.

[19:35:03] That's just a fact.

So, it is not true because what we have seen throughout his presidency is when you have an administration and a president who talk about policies and implement policies that rip babies from the arms of their mothers, when they put kids in cages, when they have more than seven -- more than seven immigrant Hispanics die in the custody of ICE, when they are refusing to let immigrants, mostly Latinos who are sick, stay here for their treatment take that protection away, you're going have Latinos look at this president and say this is not a president who supports me, and that is what --

BURNETT: It is just -- I simply pointed out that all of those headlines came when the poll's gone up in that time.

Can I just ask you one other poll that came out, though, today? Scott, let me ask you.

This is a new NBC poll and it is of the Democratic race, it shows Warren and Biden both soaring. Biden not up to 31, Warren now up to 25. Both jumping significantly since the last time the poll came out in July. Warren and Sanders combined, that is a solid 39 percent and it trounces Biden.

Who would Trump rather run against, Scott? Biden or Warren?

JENNINGS: I don't know if he has a preference because I think, Erin, he's going to wind up running against whoever the nominee is, the exact same. They all come out for the same program. They've all raised their hands for the same liberal, socialist policies, and they've all come out for things that I think are far outside of mainstream American politics.

So, I don't think there is a preference. I think he's going get the Democratic nominee and treat them all the exact same way because they all want to do the same stuff to the country which is open borders, abortion on demand and higher taxes. And I think the president's got a good argument for re-election.

CARDONA: And yet all top five candidates are beating Donald Trump right now.

BURNETT: That's another way of looking at it.

OK, thank you both so very much.

CARDONA: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: President Trump behind enemy lines as he brings his campaign to California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: We are nothing less than a progressive answer to a transgressive president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Plus, breaking news. They're counting the votes in an election that the White House is watching very closely. Is president Trump about to lose his biggest ally? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:40:55] BURNETT: New tonight: Trump arriving in California for major fundraisers with deep-pocket donors. There is a lot of money for him even in Democratic-heavy California. And his fundraising sweep comes as Trump is going to war with the state. Sources tell CNN tonight that Trump is about to strip California of its ability to set its own fuel efficiency standard, a power that California has used to raise fuel efficiency for much of the United States.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWSOM: One thing I won't do is roll over. One thing I won't do is capitulate.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR N ATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California's Governor Gavin Newsom, unofficial leader of the Trump resistance.

NEWSOM: We are nothing less than a progressive answer to a transgressive president.

LAH: Now entering another battle with President Trump as he fundraises Newsom's backyard this week. A source tells CNN the Trump administration will attempt to pull the state waiver, letting California develop its own emission standards. The Trump administration wants to roll back Obama-era rules, but Newsom won't bend.

NEWSOM: Yes. Well, Checkmate. I mean, we actually did something he didn't see coming. We negotiated with private industry and they agree to voluntary standards that went beyond what the Trump administration was demanding and for Trump, it was a realization and a rationalization he doesn't get everything he wants.

LAH: This fight is familiar territory. Under Newsom's administration, California is involved in nearly 60 lawsuits against the Trump White House, jamming the proverbial crowbar in Trump's agenda.

(on camera): Governor, are you able to succeed in wielding your power in a way that Democrats in Washington are unable to do?

NEWSOM: In some ways, that's true, outperforming the federal government, running record surpluses as the Trump administration is running historic record deficits. All of that, as we're reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and protecting and preserving and promoting our values. That makes us a formidable, affordable challenge to Trump and Trumpism.

LAH (voice-over): Their battles, part policy and part theater.

(on camera): If you look at some of the barbs you both have shared on Twitter. NEWSOM: There's a few.

LAH: There's a few. There's a good bit.

(voice-over): And it's offline, too.

TRUMP: How about this clown in California?

LAH: Newsom responded by tweet saying Trump is literally locking up kids like Pennywise. The scary clown from the movie "It".

(on camera): Do you relish that fight?

NEWSOM: No, but if he calls me a clown and I called him Pennywise, forgive me. That's a little bit of a sideshow.

The fact is, interestingly, we have a relationship. Interestingly, we communicate. Not in public, on the phone, in person, and he's very gracious in those calls and I hope in turn I am, as well.

LAH (voice-over): They've shared gracious public moments and they walked through a fire-ravaged California town praising each other's leadership, but remain unafraid to spar on their litany of disagreements.

NEWSOM: Look, stay out of our way, let California continue not to survive, but thrive despite the headwinds, despite everything you're doing to try to put sand in the gears of our success.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: You heard the governor there say that they have a relationship. It is a complex one both publicly and privately, Erin.

The governor earlier this summer was preparing to sign a bill and this is a bill that would require any candidate who wants to run for president, if you want to show up on the ballot here in California, you have to release your taxes. That is something Trump has resisted. Well, before the governor signed this bill, he wanted to deliver the news personally to Trump, he called him and then he signed the bill -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kyung Lah.

And next, breaking news, the president holding his breath tonight as the votes are counted in an election that could have major implications from Trump's White House.

Plus, Jeanne Moos on the journalists that are literally tripping over themselves to cover the campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:49:02]

BURNETT: Breaking tonight, one of President Trump's closest allies in jeopardy of being ousted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fighting for his political life against a former military chief, Benny Gantz. No one has tied themselves more closely to Trump on the international stage than Netanyahu, who even mentioned Trump as he voted today in the voting booth.

Now, the elections are too close to call at this hour, and we are well into the wee hours in the morning in Israel.

Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT from Netanyahu party headquarters.

So, Oren, how are they feeling? Obviously, a lot of people still milling around behind you waiting.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDETN: Well, this room is some between a third and a half full, and we'll see what happens here. It's worth noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to speak here some time in the course of the next few minutes. He is already on his way to his party's Likud headquarters where they've been waiting for him to speak for the last few hours now.

His rival, former IDF chief of staff, Benny Gantz, spoke a short time ago and it was an all-out victory speech, but it certainly hinted at that. Gantz said that they all should wait for the actual results, but it appears, he says, they have accomplished their mission.

[19:50:05]

That being said, exit polls have suggested this is an incredibly tight race and that neither Gantz nor Netanyahu have a clear path towards putting together a functioning government, and that is key here, as well. We will certainly look to hear what Netanyahu says. It can't actually be possible that both of these men give victory speeches, even though that's exactly what happened in April and both men were proven wrong.

So, we'll wait to see what he says and we'll wait to see what Israel's future is politically. Of course, Netanyahu's personal life hangs in the balance as well with corruption investigations hanging over him and a preliminary hearing in just two weeks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Oren, thank you very much.

But, look, this is a big moment here. It would be a record fifth term for Netanyahu and a defeat, a major blow.

OUTFRONT now, our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.

Look, President Trump is watching this incredibly closely. Why is this so important to him?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is, as you said, the most important relationship that he has overseas. President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu have been incredibly tight, from the beginning. And you look at how far President Trump has gone to try to help Netanyahu get re-elected. Back in April, he sent Secretary of State Pompeo to the Wailing Wall.

He designated the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, a terrorist organization. He recognized the Golan Heights. Just the other day, tweeting before this election about this defense pact between the U.S. and Israel.

So, Trump is definitely staked a lot of political capital on trying to keep Prime Minister Netanyahu in power. And he is obviously going to be watching this election closely. At the same time, even if Netanyahu loses, there's no reason to believe, given President Trump's popularity across a broad spectrum in Israel, he's more popular in Israel than he is in the U.S., there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't have a good relationship with Benny Gantz if he --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Which is very interesting.

It is interesting, though, that Trump really -- and Netanyahu, it became so close. I mean, some would call Netanyahu a mini Trump in terms of the bombast that we started seeing more and more of.

Here is just a little bit of what Trump has touted about Netanyahu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yes, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man I have a lot of respect for. A man who has been extremely nice to me.

Bibi and I have known each other for a long time.

He's been a great ally and he's a friend.

It looked like a total win for Netanyahu. He's a great guy. He's a great guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So every chance he gets. Yet if Netanyahu, the greatest hawk on Iran that there is, loses, what does that do for Trump's big decision now, as to whether the United States should strike, something surely Netanyahu would be pushing, but maybe slightly different --

WARD: Well, it's interesting, because President Trump already seems to have gone out from Netanyahu's orbit on the Iran issue, anyway. When he got rid of Bolton or when Bolton left, we don't know exactly why yet, but that was a big blow for Netanyahu.

When Trump announced that he was ready to meet President Rouhani, the Iranian president, without any preconditions, that was also a blow for Netanyahu. So, there is, you know, room for, you know, President Trump to take a more unilateral, let's say, idea towards Iran without necessarily taking Israel into consideration.

At the same time, when you look at this Iranian policy, it's still not clear what it is yet. We talk about being locked and loaded. Then we talk about having meetings without preconditions. Which is it? And when do see that coherent Iran strategy starts to keep shape.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Right, then he said he never said he didn't want preconditions when he's on tape saying it. And, yes, that's where you got.

All right. Clarissa, thank you so much. And great to see you here.

And next, the fight for 2020 is a real trip for some reporters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:50]

BURNETT: Tonight, covering politics can be a dangerous job. I mean, look at what happened to this cameraman trying to film -- I mean, that was a serious fall. Now, our understanding is, by the way, that he's OK. So that's good. But that happens a lot more often than you might think.

Here's Jeanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You see all those feet coming towards you? Except for a couple of pairs facing the wrong way.

That is known in the TV news business as backpedaling. It's what a camera person does when a candidate is on the move and the faster they move, the more likely this is to happen.

The guy it happened to, CNN's DJ Judd (ph), shrugged it off. He was unhurt, and his camera --

DJ JUDD, CNN CAMPAIGN EMBED: My gear is fine. My dignity, not so much.

MOOS: Here's what it looked like from DJ's point of view.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There goes your streak.

MOOS: That's candidate Pete Buttigieg, noting the end of DJ's no-fall streak.

Watch this guy tear by Buttigieg to get in front of him and then wipe out.

Here's the replay of him zipping by from another angle. Instantly back on his feet.

Backpedalling isn't confined to news. There was a time the Alabama Crimson Tide flooded the field and a sports photog bit the dust. Of course, a camera person doesn't have to be going backwards to fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But rather, it is some black ice, which at times can be a very slippery thing, let me tell you.

MOOS: At least his reporter joined him on the ground. President Trump, not so much.

TV crews were furiously backpedalling when man down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it make you feel when --

TRUMP: You OK?

MOOS: The president barely broke his stride.

But on the slippery floor of the U.S. Capitol, a reporter got some TLC from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

There is a trick cameramen use to fall correctly.

JUDD: It's to tuck and tumble. And first and foremost, to protect your gear.

MOOS: And to heck with the human road kill.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it make you feel when --

TRUMP: You OK?

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: It's amazing they get back up. It's like a 1-year-old. It's incredible, guys. A lot of padding.

All right. Thanks for joining us.

And "AC360" starts now.

END