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Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed About His Plans for Workers; Trump Revokes California's Authority to Set Emissions Standards; Trump Slams Fed After Rate Cut: "No Guts, No Sense, No Vision". Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired September 18, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news about the urgent complaint from a whistleblower possibly involving the White House, lawmakers about to get a briefing, but will they get the answers they've been demanding? Also tensions building on Capitol Hill after a disastrous impeachment hearing. Why some Democrats are saying Corey Lewandowski's testimony backfire? And an act of war that is what the Trump administration is calling Iran's attack on an American ally. Are U.S. military strikes next? Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the House Intelligence Committee about to get briefed about a, quote, credible and urgent complaint from a whistleblower. The chairman of that committee, Adam Schiff, just announcing that the Intelligence Community's independent inspector General will go meet with lawmakers tomorrow.

But, and this is a crucial but, we have no indication that the nation's top intelligence officials will budge on the refusal to comply with the subpoena from Schiff's committee to turn over the actual complaint. He'll talk about the process but unlikely to hand over the goods about what is so urgent and important. Why? Could it be at the direction of President Trump himself?


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The Director has said essentially that he is answering to a higher authority and refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint. This is deeply troubling.


BURNETT: Well, it is deeply troubling. So what is the threat and why is it urgent? It's a big deal that a whistleblower is making a claim that has been deemed credible and urgent to begin with, right, a possible threat to America's National Security. And from what we can tell, the complaint may have come from someone close to the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCHIFF: They also suggested that there may be privilege issues here,

which means that it would have to involve communications over the President or people around him.


BURNETT: Evan Perez is out front live in Washington tonight. So Evan, this obviously has been developing through the day. Chairman Schiff was very quiet and now suddenly there's going to be this briefing. What's really going to happen at the briefing tomorrow?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know exactly what the Inspector General is going to be able to tell the committee. This is now, obviously, going to be a briefing that they're going to have tomorrow. And then next Thursday, next week on Thursday, the Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is going to appear before the Committee in open session to describe a little bit about the handling of this whistleblower complaint.

But there are no promises being made, Erin, right now that they're going to learn exactly what the nature of this complaint is and why it is that the Director of National Intelligence and perhaps the White House is trying to assert what they say might be privileged with regard to this information. So we know that this began in August 12th when someone came forward with this concern.

We know that the Inspector General looked at it and viewed it as credible and of concern and of urgent concern that the reason why they wanted to alert the Committee. What we don't know is exactly what the nature of it is and, again, why the White House would seek to assert privilege, which is, again, what is suggested by the response so far from the Director of National Intelligence.

We'll see whether or not we can get a little bit more from the Inspector General and from the Director of National Intelligence. But as long as the White House is drawing the line on this, this is going to be a big fight between Congress and the White House. And by the way, Erin, the backdrop, right, is that the White House has been defying a lot of these requests from Members of Congress and basically telling them to go to court to try to fight this.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan. So, look, there's obviously a huge mystery here. Out front now Bob Baer, former CIA Operative and Anne Milgram, former Attorney General of New Jersey and David Gergen who has advised four U.S. presidents.

David, when we talk about the mystery and the intrigue, obviously, the backdrop here is really important, credible and urgent. Weeks have passed, they still don't know the nature of what is so credible and so urgent. The White House fighting this so hard. I mean, it would seem just from that, that it would be someone or something that matters to them that they don't want out there.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: That certainly appears to be the case, Erin, that they may well be protecting someone on the White House staff or the President himself. We simply don't know enough.

What we do know is this a very, very complicated law. But the law itself is to protect whistleblowers. It was passed some 30 years ago and the process is one that the initial investigation and the intelligence community followed very closely in and that was to gather the complaint, look it over and determine whether there's something urgent and credible and determined both. And then you ascend it on to the top guy at National Intelligence and within seven days he's supposed to send it to you at Congress.


That's part of your oversight. And by blocking this as it is the administration is not only breaking again yet another norm. But frankly, if this stonewalling continues I think there's a real danger for the White House. The public will become more in favor of impeachment hearings, because that's the only way you can get at the documents to figure out what really went on.

BURNETT: Which is an interesting angle on this. I mean, Anne, let's get through this. Trump's chosen an acting DNI Chief, let's be clear, the person who, ultimately, they hand it over his person, his acting chief says he won't hand it over in part because it, quote, concerned conduct by someone outside the Intelligence Community, which sort of seemed like a way to try to say, "Whatever."

But this is just to be clear, conduct by the President of the United States or anyone close to him would technically be outside the Intelligence Community and yet we could all understand incredibly vital to American National Security.

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. And David just did a terrific job of explaining the process, which is that the first thing that happens is a whistleblower or someone who has a concern about something that's happening. And government goes to this independent Inspector General for the Intelligence Community and says, "Here's a problem."

Here, they then found that it was credible, that it was an urgent matter, then it goes to the DNI. So for the DNI now to come back and say, "Oh, this doesn't apply here." He doesn't get to do that. That's not his role or his job. The law is really clear. It's up to the Inspector General to decide is it a complaint that needs to go to the Director of National Intelligence and then it goes to Congress.

He doesn't get the ability to say, "Well, it relates to somebody else."

BURNETT: And Bob Baer just the other thing then that stands out here as a regular person looking at this is we're told on August 12 about this credible and urgent thing. And now here we are towards the end of September and this urgent thing is still not being dealt with.

BOB BAER, CNN Intelligence & Security Analyst: Well, exactly, Erin. What happens normally in a situation like this is the CIA, the National Security Agency catches somebody at the White House doing something illegal. At that point, the Intelligence Community goes to Congress, it has legal oversight.

And also, Erin, don't forget that almost all leaks recently have involved whistleblowers who couldn't get through to Congress or Congress didn't act and they went to the newspapers. By closing down whistleblowers, you're going to get leaks.

This is sort of unheard of, I have been to the Inspector General, I have gone to the Senate and the system works and it keeps secrets. And to close this off, I think that's frankly why he pointed Maguire in place of Dan coats is to get a yes man in there who would close down investigations like that. You have to conclude that.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Bob, as someone who has been through this process before and has served in the Intelligence Community. When you hear urgent credible threat that could possibly involve the President or someone close to him, what sort of things are we talking about?

BAER: Well, mainly it's somebody in the administration will set up an illegal back channel to a foreign government or a group or in making money, for instance, doing some sort of corruption. That's usually what happens and that's why the White House wants to keep the embarrassment out of Congress, because Congress will run with it but too bad, Mr. Trump, it doesn't work that way.

BURNETT: I mean, Anne, when you think about it, tomorrow we have this Inspector General briefing and we're using the operative word here, briefing, right?


BURNETT: Because they're going to come and brief on how this has been handled. You heard Evan saying there's no indication that this briefing about this whole situation will actually include the crucial underlying complaint, the whistleblower complaint itself, this urgent and credible threat which seems crazy to a normal person. I mean, is this report going to get handled over? How much time is this going to take?

MILGRAM: Right. So those are great questions and I think the biggest issue here is that it is yet another effort by Trump and the administration and I think here also the Department of Justice to end run Congress and Congress' legitimate authority.

What I would expect we will see in the briefing is that we will not see the complaint turned over. This is a public briefing, the complaint would be turned over secretly. But it's also very possible that we see the acting DNI read from something that says, "I've been instructed that this is privileged," for example, which we've seen countless times now in the past couple of months.

BURNETT: Well, right. Right.

MILGRAM: And so I would be stunned if this has gotten to this point without the Attorney General and the Department of Justice being deeply involved and counseling the DNI on what he can and cannot do. So I would expect that we're going to not see what frankly the American public should have happened, which is that the complaint should go to Congress. Congress has the right to see it and then they get to decide what happens next.

BURNETT: So David Gergen, do all of these people if this involves the Attorney General and, obviously, involves the acting DNI Chief, do they all know the underlying parts here or they're just going to blindly cover for what Trump or those close to him want without even knowing what they're covering for?


GERGEN: Well, we don't know anything for certain in that regard, Erin. But I think it would be extraordinarily unlikely that the White House and the Justice Department have not seen the complaint. I think it's extremely unlikely they've seen the complaint, they don't want it to air.

But what we're running into now is a question of what authority does the Congress have under the Constitution and it has been forever and we've understood that the Congress does have oversight responsibilities, oversee as part of the checks and balances in our constitutional system. And when you start throwing them out the window and then dismissing or ignoring them, you really have a breakdown in the rule of law and the checks and balances themselves, it's pretty fundamental to the way we govern ourselves. And that's what's so disturbing right now about what's going on.

BURNETT: And Bob Baer, final word to you, the DNI spy Chief Joseph Maguire, again, Trump's pick for Acting DNI, spent a career in the Navy and counter-terror, but yet you have a fear that he is put there to be a yes man, that he would cover for Trump?

BAER: He's a military officer, answers to the commander-in-chief, comes out of JSOC, he's the type of guy and he has the reputation of covering up for the President and that's why he got the job.

BURNETT: Right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time. And next, CNN learning frustrations growing among Democrats over the impeachment strategy after yesterday's hearing with Corey Lewandowski.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It would have been better to have another witness first?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): I think that there are some others who should have come first.


BURNETT: Plus, President Trump blaming Democrats for his failure to reach a deal on gun control, 2020 candidate Cory Booker responds. And Trump escalating his fight with California, taking away its right to set fuel efficiency standards. California's Attorney General now preparing to sue is out front.



BURNETT: New tonight, growing tensions among House Democrats over the Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry. Just one day after the messy and heated hearing with the former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, some Democrats now second-guessing at calling Lewandowski as the first witness in the probe like Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

And this is really important because when you hear her, remember this, she has supported impeachment since 2017.


RAJU: It would have been better to have another witness first?

WATERS: I think that there are some others who should have come first. I didn't think that he was necessarily the best one.


BURNETT: OK. Those comments come as sources tell CNN that the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told Democrats today that beating Trump in 2020 not impeaching him should be the top priority.

Out front now, former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin and former Special Advisor to President Obama and host of THE VAN JONES SHOW, Van Jones.

So Van, OK, Speaker Pelosi has been saying this and she has been saying this. And she has been saying this until people are tired of her saying this, so today was this her 'I told you so' moment?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. Listen, I have a very, very hard time trying to second-guess Nancy Pelosi, two times Speaker of the House politically. She is looking at the tea leaves and she's just saying very simply. I'm sure she's not Donald Trump's biggest fan.

She's saying the intensity against impeachment for Republicans is a thousand percent and Democrats would like him impeached but you don't see the passion there, you don't see the numbers there and so she's saying, why would we walk ourselves into a fight where the other side is armed and ready and our side is kind of like, "Yes, he should be impeached."

So I just think that if Nancy Pelosi says something, I take it very, very seriously and I think that she's been consistent on this point and I see no reason to think that she's wrong. She hasn't been wrong yet.


KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, I mean I understand what you're saying and I agree with the idea that Democrats may not have the same passion that Republicans do. But at the same time, I don't think it's a question about passion, it's a question about your constitutional duty.

If the President is violating the Constitution, then Congress has a duty to hold him accountable and Nancy Pelosi has already said that Trump is unfit for office. She said that he belongs in prison. She said that he's self impeaching. What else do you need to do to get Congress to act under those circumstances?

There's a dangerous precedent, I think, you establish if you don't hold somebody accountable who has already done so much, who's already had his lawyer convicted, who's already had his campaign chair convicted, who's already had his National Security adviser convicted, who's already had scandal after scandal after scandal, the emoluments clauses violations, even today a new violation with the Turnberry resort.

With all of that going on, how can Congress sit by and say, we're not going to do anything because it's not what we're talking about.

BURNETT: OK. And maybe, Van, part of the reason is moments like this, the House Judiciary Committee hearing. Maxine Waters has been very passionately for impeachment and she was saying, this is just not a good foot forward, this is not how I would have done it, because it was filled with moments like these.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): let me remind you, Mr. Lewandowski, that this is not a Republican primary campaign. You are not on the campaign trail yet. This is the House Judiciary Committee, act like you know the difference. Are you hitman, the bagman, the lookout or all of the above?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think I'm the good looking man, actually. President Swalwell, I'm very happy of what I've written but you're welcome to read it if you'd like.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Are you ashamed to read it out loud?

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

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Had you ever been a secretary for the President before and taken dictation or shorthand?

LEWANDOWSKI: Many times.

Cohen: Oh, then we got your qualifications now. You were a secretary.


BURNETT: OK. A recent Monmouth poll found six in 10 Americans opposed impeaching Trump.

JONES: Right.

BURNETT: Six in 10, so exchanges like that help or hurt that number?

JONES: Look, I just think people are already in their camps. I think for the people who think that Corey Lewandowski is a bad guy who did bad things that he came across as arrogant and obnoxious.


There are people who think that Corey Lewandowski is a hero of the Trump movement being harassed. He came across as plucky. We're in a world where --

BURNETT: Which by the way is sad, because you could be in either one of those camps and still acknowledge that that was just nasty and inappropriate by a whole lot of people, but ...

JONES: Listen ...

BURNETT: Anyway, I'm not disputing what you're saying. I'm just saying it's a sad commentary.

JONES: All I'm saying is - listen, I understand the passion, I understand the emotion. Passion and emotion have their place, but Nancy Pelosi says the strategy, if you don't like what you see happening with Donald Trump, the strategy is called November.

And if what we wind up doing is something that's going to rile up the other side and there's not going to be an equal and opposite reaction from our side, the impeachment process is a political process because elected politicians are in charge of it. There's no judges involved. There is no magistrate involved. The only people involved are - it's a political decision and so I believe that Nancy Pelosi is correct.

I spent a lot of time in red states, a lot of time in purple states, she is correct.


JONES: Politically, it's not smart.

BURNETT: So Keith I have to say, you're on the show a lot, you look a little sad to me.

BOYKIN: I do. I just had a Red Bull, it's supposed to energize me.

BURNETT: OK. But I'm just saying is it partly because of what happened yesterday? I mean, that was not what - I mean Maxine Waters, I think, was saying what a lot of people thought. That was not the best foot forward for Democrats regardless of what a jerk Corey Lewandowski was.

BOYKIN: Well, the Democrats clearly bungled the hearing yesterday. I didn't even know it was an impeachment hearing until I saw the ...


BOYKIN: Oh, excuse me, I didn't realize it. BURNETT: That's for sure. Yes.

BOYKIN: But nobody told me and I'm a member of the Democratic Party. And I feel like they delayed this so long that that was bundling it in itself. They could have done this a long time ago in my opinion. But having said all of that, I don't think that that's a reason not to continue with this.

I'm not discouraged and I agree with Van that election is important, but I also think that you have to, what is this expression, walk and chew gum at the same time. You have to be able to do both. Yes, you have to fulfill your constitutional duty to hold the president accountable and you have to run for reelection.

BURNETT: OK. So how scared, Van, is, say, Chairman Nadler of this actually - they don't want to finish, it would seem on one level, because if they do they got to put it to a vote. And if you lose, then Trump gets to say, I was acquitted, by a Democratic House of Representatives, which is if a vote was taken today, what would happen?

JONES: Look, we're in this nightmare scenario where no matter what you do, there's a down side because Donald Trump is a particular kind of politician, he has particular ways of doing things that get everybody riled up. We're all running into each other, crashing with each other, arguing with each other, fighting with each other, I'm sure he finds this very enjoyable.

And I think he feels like if he gets impeached, he's going to be OK because his base will come to him, so we're forked. The way to get out of a fork is to change the status quo which is to win an election.

BURNETT: So what, pick up a spoon?

BOYKIN: I don't know about the silverware analogy, but I do think that regardless of what Democrats do, Republicans are riled up to defend Trump. I don't think we should make our calculations based on what Republicans going to do. We should make our calculations based on what's the right thing to do, not only for the party but for the country.

JONES: And that's the conversation at dinner tables across the country right now.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, both. And next, Trump embracing this praise from America's first black billionaire.


ROBERT JOHNSON, BET FOUNDER: African-American unemployment is going down. I give the President credit for doing positive things.


BURNETT: So does Trump deserve that credit? Cory Booker is next. And he's filed nearly 60 lawsuits against the President and he's about to take on Trump again. So is this personal? Well, the Attorney General of California is out front tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Fight For 2020. President Trump blaming Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke for inaction on gun control. Trump tweeting in part, "Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away."

The President is referring to these comments O'Rourke made last week at the democratic debate.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.


BURNETT: Out front now, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker. And Senator, I know you support mandatory buyback on assault weapons but there are Democrats even who are saying what O'Rourke said and how he said it is a problem. Senator Chris Coons among them saying that clip will be played four years at Second Amendment rallies, Mayor Pete Buttigieg asked if it would play into the hands of Republicans, gave a simple answer, yes. What do you think?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that we've allowed this debate to be framed by the fear mongering of people on the far right who try to whip up this fear that our Second Amendment rights are going to be taken away from us and that is just simply not the case. Look, we as a society have gotten weapons of war off of our streets in the past.

In the 1980s, it was machine guns. We collectively agreed these guns do not belong on our streets and we got rid of them. We can do that with these assault rifles that are the tool of choice for mass murderers and most Americans agree with that.

So I'm not going to play into the hands of the far-right fear- mongering that's going on. Common-sense, sensible gun reform is something the overwhelming majority of Americans agree on and I'm going to keep the conversation focused on that.


BURNETT: Senator, today we are on day three of the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors. Nearly 40,000 people or 50,000, I'm sorry, are on strike at this moment. They want better wages. They want stronger health care benefits. They want more job security. Now, you have introduced your new plan today on jobs, labor and taxes

and in it, Senator, you say you want to, quote, ensure that all workers have opportunities for higher wages and meaningful benefits.

So, when it comes to GM right now, they pay, GM workers, pay 3 percent of their healthcare costs. The average American pays 28 percent and this is according to the Center for Automotive Research.

Is General Motors management wrong to say that that contribution by GM workers to their healthcare needs to go up?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that when you look at the all end fight for autoworkers, remember, I'm here because of the UAW. They got my grandfather who migrated from the south as many African-Americans did and got jobs in Detroit like my grandfather did on the assembly lines. I am here because the philosophy then was we're going to make sure that everyone that works has dignity at their job.

We've seen an attack on unions and union rights and we've seen a stagnation of wages while the wealthiest in this country have seen their wealth multiply. This is -- this is a period in American history that is astonishing when you see the cost of everything going up from healthcare, prescription drugs and affordable child care and cost of college and everything is going up and wages are remaining stagnant.

And so, should these workers be able to fight for fair wages and dignity at work? Yes. And remember, union membership has gone dramatically down.


BOOKER: So, we're talking about, right now, in the private sector, it's up 6 percent now. So, most workers don't even have the chance to collectively bargain and that's why I'm fighting to increase union membership, to empower collective bargaining and to raise wages in this country, and my plan does that.

BURNETT: So, your plan, you know, give Americans a shot at a day's work, that's what you called it. And what you don't include, though, overall, and I guess part of the reason I raise the point about GM is a price tag.

Now, "Vox" compared your jobs guarantee part of your plan to a proposal from three economists from Duke and The New School's Darrick Hamilton, and they wrote their plan up for a left of center think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and you may be aware of this, but their price tag to do what they say you're essentially going to do is $543 billion a year.

Is that what you're talking about? And where would that money come from?

BOOKER: No. I really hope that people will go to and look at my plan. Yes, I supported and wrote the bill for a pilot program on a jobs guarantee and I hope that people look at that limited pilot program. So, let's see if it works.

BURNETT: Right, I know you did with Congressman Gohmert (ph).


BURNETT: This plan is actually -- yes. Yes.

This plan is actually the opposite of cost. It actually is going to add to our economy. Remember, the Republicans sold their tax bill as something that would actually grow our economy. What we've seen right now is that it's had a $2 trillion price tag and in other words, it blew a $2 trillion hole in our budget.

My plan would reverse those toxic Trump tax cuts and give 150 million Americans to a rise credit a tax increase and actually redefine work as we know it because anybody who knows or has a family member is home taking care of someone with Alzheimer's or a child with special needs, we're going to reclassify that as work now that should also qualify for a tax credit.

My tax credit cuts poverty in a third, lifts 150 million in wages, does add to our economy, because when you give it to working people and tax breaks for working people they use that money to get a car or to pay a bill or to get their kid enrolled in child care so they can go to work.

And so if you look at my plan, it's actually additive to the economy, it empowers workers, and raises wages and makes it more fair economy, not one that seems to compound benefits at the top ends of income brackets and not for the average worker.

BURNETT: So when you talk about Trump's economy, I mean, look, I'd be remiss if I didn't say, look, he has a record low unemployment for many groups, including Hispanics and African-Americans as he often says. And I just wanted to play for you today, he re-tweeted a clip, I don't know if you saw this, but BET founder Bob Johnson, a prominent businessman who was the first black billionaire in this country, it's a video of Bob Johnson praising Trump.

Here's some of what he said.


BOB JOHNSON, BET FOUNDER: There used to be an old saying that, you know, when white America catches a cold, African-Americans get pneumonia. Well, it's going the opposite way now. White unemployment is going down, African-American employment is going down, that's a plus-plus that you can't argue with. And as I said earlier, I give the president credit for doing positive things.


BURNETT: Do you share that sentiment, senator?

BOOKER: Look, I feel pretty qualified to speak on this because I'm the only person in the United States Senate and the only person in this presidential campaign that actually lives in a majority black community and a majority black city.


And I hope you and I can one day do an interview walk around my block, walk around my neighborhood, don't -- we won't pre-script it all and just stop people and ask them, are they economically doing better under this president? And I guarantee you, it will be hard to find one that says they are, because folks may have jobs, but there are people in my block who work full-time jobs, catch extra shifts where they can and still need foot stamps to feed their family, because we still have a minimum wage means you're locked below the poverty line, especially if you live in communities like New Jersey where you need to make twice the minimum wage.

We have people that don't have affordable child care and don't have the ability to afford their prescription drugs and the cost of living is going up so much that the real wages, the real reality for so many people that have jobs is that they're struggling just to hold on with high rents and just to hold on to meet their cost of their living.

So, most Americans and I've seen you put up the polling data. Most Americans do not feel they're doing better under this economy.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Booker, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much tonight, sir.

BOOKER: Erin, thank you as always. Come to Newark and walk my community with me.

BURNETT: All right. And OUTFRONT next, California preparing to battle Trump again, this time over air pollution standards. So, the attorney general is OUTFRONT.

And the Trump administration calling the attack on Saudi Arabia an act of war. So that's a U.S. secretary of state calling something by one country against another country an act of war. So, does that mean U.S. military action is next?



BURNETT: Right now, President Trump is about to get on his way back to Washington after touring a section of the border, raising $15 million in California fundraisers. Just a couple of days, 15 million bucks, pretty easy.

This after Trump took on the governor of California, revoking a major power. Trump tweeting in part, quote: The Trump administration is revoking California's federal waiver on emissions.

And that waiver is what allowed California to set higher fuel standards than the federal government and since Californians buy so many cars, California's rules ended up trumping the federal standard.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra.

Attorney General, great to have you with me. I appreciate your time.

So, the president said, he's revoking, that's it, to that power, that all you had for so long, which was so important. What do you say to the president?


I say we've read a lot of tweets and many of them have never come true. Don't believe what he tweeted because he still has to go through a process. No one is above the law, including the president, and we intend to prove what he's trying to do is against the law.

BURNETT: So you're going to sue?

BECERRA: We're going to do whatever it takes. If we can't convince him to change course, we'll do whatever it takes, including go to court.

BURNETT: So, the former governor of California, Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote an op-ed recently, which I thought was pretty interesting.

He wrote about this issue, quote: The Trump administration for some reason is hell-bent on reversing decades of history and progress, whether it is political pettiness, short-sightedness or just plain jealousy, I couldn't tell you. I can tell you that it's wrong. It's un-American and it's an affront to long-standing conservative principles.

Of course, Schwarzenegger, right, who lauds Ronald Reagan, is referring to Republican backing of states rights in this case.

But when he says, is it jealousy, sort-sightedness and pettiness, what do you think the president's motive is here?

BECERRA: I think Governor Schwarzenegger is bringing up good points. And, in fact, he also mentioned the governor, Governor Reagan, who was one of the first to let us move us toward cleaning up our air. And so, it was under Ronald Reagan that we first started to see these waivers that California has gotten, some 100 of them over the last close to 50 years from Congress and the federal government.

BURNETT: So, you know, you don't think it's petty or personal about him picking on your state?

BECERRA: I don't try to describe what Donald Trump does. I just get ready to respond to what he does.

BURNETT: OK. So, he just did something right now that I don't know if you heard because it literally just happened. So, he was just wrapping up his tour of the border, as you know, he was there, Attorney General Becerra, he's getting ready to head back to Washington. So, as you know, right, he's doing these fund raisers in your state,

$15 million bucks is what he raised. He slammed your state on his way there. He slammed your state while he was there, all for the homelessness crisis in California. But moments ago, he just said this, and I quote him.

If Democrats don't get it together, the federal government is going to have to step in -- talking about the homelessness crisis in California.

So, it sounds like a pretty big threat. He'll step in and try to take that over? How do you interpret that?

BECERRA: So this is my cue to yawn. What do I do?

We've heard a lot of things from Donald Trump. We don't worry about what Donald Trump says. We watch what he does and we just continue to do what we do.

That's how we became the fifth largest economy in the world. That's how we've become the economic engine for the United States, we create more jobs than any other state, and that's why Donald Trump and his federal government still rely on California to keep this economy going.

So, we're not going to worry about what he tries to do. We're just going to make sure that what he tries is legal, and if it's not, we'll stop it.

BURNETT: So, I look at your number of lawsuits, nearly 60 against the Trump administration. Is any of that about him personally?

BECERRA: No. And the reason we've been winning is because they're not about him. It's about the law.

BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about something else important and I know you did see this. Obviously, Attorney General, you're a member of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress. Earlier this week, Trump spoke about why he said Hispanics should vote for him, right? He's talked about low unemployment rate. He actually said the wall itself was one reason.

And then he said this about Steve Cortes who is, of course, on CNN all of the time and other locations as a surrogate for the president, and here's when he said.


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. So I haven't figured that one out, but I'll tell you what, there is nobody that loves this country more or Hispanic more than Steve Cortes. Steve?


Thank you, Steve. Nobody loves the Hispanics more. Who do you like more? The country or the Hispanics?



BURNETT: So what do you make of that? Hispanics or the country? What's your reaction to that choice that he gave?

BECERRA: Erin, it just seems like that the president doesn't know how to talk to people that don't look like him, that he didn't grow up with and he just gets very awkward and unfortunately, he says things that sound more than awkward sometimes, they sound even racist.

And I don't know how to explain it, but that's who we have as a president. And we just move forward understanding that we can change things and I hope that he recognizes that everyone from my parents to the folks who are going to come to this country at some point in the future, we come here, we live here and we try to do the best we can because we believe that this is still a place for dreams.

And so, if Donald Trump can't sort of understand that and he can't speak about someone's heritage and what they've done for the country, whether it's Mr. Cortes or anyone else, without having to refer to them in the awkward ways that he does, that's his problem, not mine.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Attorney General Becerra, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

BECERRA: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump revealing he will soon announce his response to the attack on Saudi Arabia. So is he actually going to do something and what?

And the president lashing out at his Fed chief, his own Fed chief, a person he picked for doing what he lashed out at him for not doing.



BURNETT: Tonight, act of war. That is how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is classifying the attack on Saudi oil facilities that he claims came from Iran.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE : We're blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but anytime you have an act of war of this nature, there's always risk that that could happen.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, our military analyst. So, General, the secretary of state of the United States calling an

attack on Saudi Arabia act of war, what do you make of that? It's a pretty significant thing to say, right? The implications of that word, you know, obviously could mean military action.

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Certainly could, Erin. And what I would say is, just as we've been saying for several days now, it would be good to produce the information that it came from Iran. And not only are we jumping to conclusions without any facts being presented to either of the American people or the Congress of the United States, which can contribute to the determination of what is truly an act of war and how you fund it, but today, we saw Saudi Arabia on al Jazeera present what they considered what they know as the facts.

And what it really was, it was an uncompelling, not very compelling argument that they were making with a lot of pieces of equipment, pieces of rockets and UAVs in front of them claiming they knew this was a determinant of where this missile came from and it came from Iran. That's yet to be stated. It certainly hasn't been proven yet.

And before you accuse someone of conducting an act of war, you probably need to have a little bit more information.

Now, that's not saying that Iran did not support this. In my view, they -- 99 percent certainty --


BURNETT: Right, I understand. The distinction of where it came from as opposed to did they support it coming from technically outside their territory. Yes.

HERTLING: Correct.

BURNETT: So I just want to play this for you, because it just came in, General. The president just was talking about Iran and war with Iran and he said this. I want to give you a chance to hear it.


TRUMP: In the Middle East, we'll see what happens. Very fluid. A lot of things can happen, rough things and not-such-rough things. And, by the way, very, very easy to go in. One phone call, we go in. That's a very easy thing.


BURNETT: What do you make of that? Emphasizing how easy it is with one phone call to go into Iran and go to war?

HERTLING: Yes, and he's exactly right on that. And I agree with President Trump saying that it is easy to go to war. And any military historian or any historian for that matter will tell you it's always easy to go to war. It's a whole lot harder to end it. So you should have an end state before you go in, you should avoid

miscalculations, you should try to present facts and you should have an overarching strategy that says, here's what we're trying to accomplish and here are the ways and means we're going to do it. And here are some things, oh, by the way, that might occur that we better be prepared for.

So, yes, it is easy to make that phone call, but there's a whole lot of other things that any kind of leader has to do before going into combat.

BURNETT: General, thank you very much for your time.

HERTLING: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the president's Fed chairman sounding the alarm about the president's trade war.



BURNETT: Tonight, Trump again lashing out at the man he picked to lead the Federal Reserve, the independent Federal Reserve. The president tweeting: Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve fail again. No guts, no sense, no vision. A terrible communicator.

This despite the fact that the Fed is cutting interest rates today, which is what Trump had been demanding that the chairman do. Even though the chairman should never be doing what the president tells him to do, but anyway, that part is a mess.

OUTFRONT now, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

So, Mark, the Trump slamming Fed chief again, what effect does that have as I emphasize that the Fed is supposed to be independent?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYSTICS: Yes. Well, it's disappointing and disconcerting. It is an assault on the Fed's independence. And as you know, Erin, the independence of the Fed is a key strength of the American economy.

You know, investors believe that the Fed is going to do what's in the best interests of the economy, not is what is in the best interests or political interests of anybody else. And that's really important to keeping interest rates low, keeping stock markets high, keeping the financial markets operating well, and making sure that we can go out and get mortgages to buy homes and businesses can get the loans they need to hire people.

So this is, you know, a very disappointing -- fortunately, I don't think anyone believes this is going to go very far, but something clearly we need to watch.

BURNETT: So I want to play for you, Mark, what Powell said about the trade war today with China, you know, the war that -- Trump's war. So, here he is.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Our business contacts around the country have been telling us that uncertainty about trade policy has discouraged them from investing in their businesses.


BURNETT: OK, that's deeply concerning, but Powell then added that the Fed is not forecasting a recession. The American people, of course, seem quite concerned about one.

What do you think?

ZANDI: Well, I think it depends on the trade war and the president's decisions around that. If he continues to pursue the war, the next salvo in the war comes -- is in December, when he's threatening to raise tariffs again on China. If he follows through on that, then I think the Federal Reserve is going to be forced to cut interest rates more. And at some point, it is going to lead to a recession.

So a lot depends on what the president decides to do over the next few months, between now and the end of the year.

BURNETT: All right. And, of course, I'm sure his own political re- election will be front and center on his mind as he makes those choices.

Thank you, Mark.

ZANDI: Sure thing.

BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us. You can watch the show anytime. Just go to CNN Go.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.