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Sally Expected to Make Landfall in Louisiana as Hurricane; Israel Normalizes Relations with UAE, Bahrain in Historic Diplomatic Move; New Polls Reveal Americans Believe Joe Biden Respects U.S. Troops and Veterans More Than President Trump. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 13, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:35]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

First tonight, apocalyptic scenes from the West Coast where nearly 100 major wildfires are raging out of control this hour across California, Oregon, Washington state, and other states. At least 33 people are dead and there's fear that dozens more are missing. Five million acres have already burned.

The president will visit California tomorrow to get a briefing on the situation there. His White House rival Joe Biden, he'll also deliver remarks on the wildfires tomorrow. He'll be in Delaware.

In the meantime, Tropical Storm Sally is now threatening the Gulf Coast. Forecasters say the storm could make landfall in the next two days or so actually near New Orleans as a category two hurricane. The governor of Louisiana declaring a state of emergency and issuing mandatory evacuations for some areas.

And we have breaking news on the coronavirus front. Pfizer's CEO says there's, quote, "quite a good chance" the company will know by the end of October if its vaccine actually works. This as the president in Nevada right now getting to hold his first indoor -- indoor -- campaign rally over the last three months just outside of Las Vegas. Looking at live pictures. People lining up to go inside.

He's going against the guidelines set by his own White House Coronavirus Task Force. The indoor event in Henderson outside Las Vegas is not requiring masks for attendees. The last indoor rally the president held was back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20th. And it was linked to a surge in cases there and also the same event that former presidential candidate and Trump friend Herman Cain, he attended that rally before testing positive a few days later and sadly a month before he ultimately died from the coronavirus.

Let's get straight to the campaign trail. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is on the scene for us. Jeremy, I understand you and other members of the media, you're

actually not going to go inside. You're going to be stationed outside. It's too dangerous to go inside. Tell us what's going on because I know you're working the story very carefully.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, listen, we have heard President Trump for weeks now talking about the fact that we are rounding the corner on the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci making very clear on Friday that that is not the case. We are still at a point in this country where we have 35,000-plus new cases a day. 800-plus new deaths per day and warnings about a very dangerous, potentially dangerous fall and winter.

But despite that, Wolf, the president not only through his rhetoric but also through his actions is downplaying the threat of the coronavirus, holding, once again, tonight, another event with thousands of his supporters crammed together and this time, Wolf, this event will be held entirely indoors. For the first time since the president held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, back in June.

I caught up with some of the president's supporters, there are thousands of them already lined up for this rally that is set to start in a couple of hours. Let me show you a sound bite from one of them, Filomena McGuigan. She talked about why she is not wearing a mask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FILOMENA MCGUIGAN, TRUMP RALLY ATTENDEE: I have absolutely no problems about being here. I go everywhere and I have to follow these ridiculous rules that (INAUDIBLE) put in place. But here, this is our First Amendment. It's my right to choose. This is not a dictatorship. This is a republic. And we have a right to be who we are and take whatever risks we so desire. I could cross the street and get hit by a bus tomorrow. Why do I have to wear a mask that I know, I know, without a doubt, is not helping?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And, Wolf, that was the sentiment expressed by so many of the Trump supporters who we spoke with outside of this rally as they are waiting to go in. What they seem to fail to recognize, many of them at least, is the fact that it's not just about their own personal health and safety but potentially a risk to others in their own community or in other communities.

And Wolf, I want to read you a statement from the Trump campaign. This is their explanation for why they are holding this even tonight. They say, quote -- this is from Tim Murtaugh, the communications director. He says, "If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the First Amendment to hear from the president of the United States."

[19:05:02]

Wolf, what Tim Murtaugh fails to recognize in that statement, though, is the fact that in casinos here in Las Vegas and in Nevada at large, masks are required unlike at the president's rally this evening -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And tell us, Jeremy, why you and other members of the news media have decided not to go inside for this rally?

DIAMOND: Well, Wolf, listen, the science is clear. Indoor events with many people is exactly the kind of thing that you want to avoid, particularly when most people, as has been the case at these Trump rallies are not wearing any masks. It's been the advice of almost every single public health expert. There is a reason why Nevada, for example, is barring public gatherings of more than 50 people. But the president and his campaign hosting this event in defiance of that.

BLITZER: Yes. They're all going to be crammed inside this event. It's going to be closed, indoor, once again. People are going to be screaming. People are going to be shouting. Potentially very dangerous. You and your colleagues in the news media made the right decision, Jeremy, not to go inside. Stay safe out there. We'll stay in close touch with you.

That rally scheduled to begin in a few hours from now. But people are lining up by the thousands as you can see.

Let's go to Minnesota right now. That's another, like Nevada, another key battleground state that the Trump campaign is hoping they can actually flip this year. But it's truly an uphill battle for the incumbent president as two new polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a nine-point lead over President Trump in Minnesota at least right now. And for all of the president's so-called law and order messaging, the polls show likely voters in Minnesota favor Biden on the issues of crime, race, and protests.

I'm joined now by Democratic senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar.

Senator, we have lots to talk about. But let me get your quick reaction to what we just saw in Jeremy Diamond's report. Thousands of people in Nevada lining up to go inside to attend this political campaign rally for the president. When you see that and you speak with some personal knowledge about this, I know your husband came down with coronavirus, what do you think?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I'm just worried about the people there. And I literally can't believe the president is doing this. We just found out that he knew about this back in February before my husband got sick. He told Bob Woodward that it was deadly. He said that he knew that it was airborne, and now we see him in Nevada in an indoor event with thousands of people when he has known this for months and months and months.

And we all know the facts. We know that masks work. We know that we've seen reductions when people wear masks. We know that there's a difference between things outside and things inside. All of this has been proven by the numbers. Look at New York right now after they got the science and the facts. Look at what governors have done when they've tried to put some simple rules in place that are practical like in our state, and the difference that it has made.

And that is what makes me so worried about what the president is doing to his supporters today. They deserve better than this.

BLITZER: I want to move on to some other subjects. But quickly, how is your husband doing?

KLOBUCHAR: He's doing much better, Wolf. He's in good spirits and I just am, you know, grateful to the doctors and nurses. And when he got it, we didn't know a lot. And now we know a lot more about the fact that he most likely got it because it was airborne. Everyone was just focused on surfaces back then. And that again gets me to what the president is doing is just unbelievable to me, that a leader of America would do something like this to the people of this country.

BLITZER: When you say he's doing much better, is he still suffering to a certain degree from after effects?

KLOBUCHAR: No, actually the only after effect was he claimed for month that he couldn't clean the basement because of the dust, and --

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR: That has gone away.

BLITZER: That's good.

KLOBUCHAR: And he has been very lucky. He had severe pneumonia, but he didn't go on a ventilator. He was close to it. And I think that made a big difference for him.

BLITZER: Well, I'm so happy he's OK. And --

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BLITZER: That's great news. The president, as you know, Senator, has been railing against protesters for months now, painting a very sinister picture of all the unrest that's been going on, trying to label Biden as being soft on crime. How is that playing where you are, Minnesota, which is a key, key battleground state and we see the president devoting a lot of his time and energy to Minnesota?

KLOBUCHAR: Not good as you can see by these numbers. And I think part of this is because Joe Biden gave such a clear value statement and about what he would do as president when he was in Pittsburgh. He said very clearly that rioting is not peaceful protest, that setting fires is not peaceful protests. That is lawlessness. And it should be prosecuted. That was very clear. But at the same time Joe Biden understands you can have police reform and work for police reform and change in the justice system and have righteous protests without having violence. The president on the other hand has just tried to divide people.

[19:10:02]

And we have made it very clear to everyone here, are you really safe in Donald Trump's America when he divides people all the time, when we've got coronavirus with a president that won't even seem to admit that we need to do something about it, hasn't supported testing as we should, didn't get his act together when he should have early on and when he knew the risk. It's a very simple, straightforward case that a lot of people understand.

And then finally the economy. You know, we've got to look to the day after tomorrow, raising the minimum wage, doing all these great things for our country that Joe Biden has the experience to get done. And we also have not seen any clear message from the president when it comes to the long term as we get America back to work and build back better in Joe Biden's words.

BLITZER: Only 51 days until the November 3rd election. But in several states, people already can start voting via mail and that's very significant right now.

As you remember, Senator, back in 2016, Republicans famously chanted "lock her up" about the president's opponent at that time, Hillary Clinton. Taking it even further now, the president has openly accused his predecessor, former President Obama and Vice President Biden of actually spying on his presidential change back in 2016 and in the process he says they committed treason, they should go to jail, he's thrown out 50 years. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we caught the Obama administration spying on our campaign. They spied on our campaign. That's treason. That's treason. If this were the other way around and it was Democrats instead of Republicans, there'd be people -- many people would be in jail already. It's a disgrace that it's taking this long. We caught them spying on our campaign. Let's see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And it's interesting because I asked the Attorney General Bill Barr in a recent interview about that and he said treason is a legal term. I think he's using it colloquially. And after that the president said, 50 years in jail. When you hear that as a former prosecutor, what do you think?

KLOBUCHAR: I respect the law and sometimes you've got to make tough decisions. And what this president is doing every day is undermining the law and the morale of those that work so hard to do the right thing in the justice system. I look at the facts. Dozens of people have been indicted because, not what the president is talking about, because of Russian interference, because of what was going on with his own campaign.

You look at his campaign chair, others that had worked for him, were indicted by his own Justice Department. You've got the fact that intelligence officials in his own administration have made it clear that Russia is trying to interfere again in our elections. And right when it's coming up to this election and we need all that information out there, what does Donald Trump do? He cuts off the briefings to members of Congress to find out exactly what's happening.

So I think it's really important right now to make this simple. People need to vote. They need to get their absentee ballots. In Minnesota we start early voting in person next Friday. We've got one of the longest time periods in the country. And that's what they need to do to make a plan to vote and in the words of Michelle Obama, vote like your life depends on it.

BLITZER: And at a time of coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people are going to want to vote by mail as opposed to actually waiting in long lines on election day, especially older Americans and especially those with underlying health conditions. Potentially that could be dangerous.

Senator Klobuchar, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Wolf. It's great to be on.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And join Joe Biden in a special CNN presidential town hall live from Pennsylvania with Anderson Cooper moderating this coming Thursday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, Pfizer's CEO is feeling comfortable about the safety of his vaccine so much so he now says the company is expanding its phase three trial and we could know if it works, if it's safe and effective by the end of next month.

Plus, evacuations have been ordered in Louisiana. The latest on Tropical Storm Sally. It's about to become a hurricane, maybe a category one, maybe even a category two. All that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:18:26]

BLITZER: Tonight in Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, President Trump will hold his first indoor, indoor rally since June 20th when he gathered with supporters in you will is Tulsa, Oklahoma. Trump ally Herman Cain was there at the time. He wasn't wearing a mask. A few days later he did test positive and a little more than a month later sadly Herman Cain died of coronavirus.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Celine Gounder is joining us, along with emergency physician, Dr. Jeremy Faust.

Dr. Gounder, time after time, we see what happens when people gather for an indoor, especially an indoor event like this. Cases spike a few days later. Why do people deliberately put their health, maybe even their lives, their family's health at risk?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Wolf, I think unfortunately whenever you pit culture against science, political psychology against science, social networks or social identify against science, science never wins. Culture, political psychology and social networks will trump the science. And for better or worse, people are social beings. We collaborate very well in times of crisis. But sometimes this kind of group mentality, needing to show -- you know, whether you want to call it peer pressure or something like that, needing to show allegiance to your group can also really hurt us.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, you know, Dr. Faust, because a CNN medical analyst, professor at the George Washington University, Jonathan Reiner, says the decision by the Trump campaign to even hold this rally is what he calls negligent homicide. What's your reaction to a very blunt statement like that?

[19:20:06]

DR. JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: I think that the data is showing that indoor events are where the danger is. The CDC released a study this week and it looked like people who have been having indoor dining were much more likely to contract coronavirus. It's not like we don't know these things. We've learned so much. And to me, when we've gathered all of this knowledge, to not utilize it to protect the people we care about, in this case the president's own political constituents, it doesn't add up.

So that's unfortunate that, you know, as was just said, sometimes people's culture trumps their rational thinking and in some cases people have been downplaying this so much that they really don't think there's much to be worried about and of course we all know that's not true.

BLITZER: We certainly do. You know, Dr. Gounder, the other news we're following today and potentially dramatic news coming from Pfizer, the company's CEO says there's a good chance Pfizer will know if its vaccine actually works, if it's safe and effective, by the end of October. That doesn't mean it will be ready for distribution because there's a long regulatory process that must follow. But how encouraging, Dr. Gounder, is that news?

GOUNDER: I think it's encouraging, although I would note that the safety data may take longer than the end of October. We may have some preliminary results on the efficacy. But you have to remember, this vaccine has not been tested in many important patient populations. The very elderly, children, pregnant women, people with immuno suppressive conditions like HIV or cancer. And that matters because their immune system is not going to respond to this vaccine in the same way. So we still have a ways to go in terms of studying efficacy and safety.

BLITZER: You know, Dr. Faust, Pfizer and this other firm BioNTech, they're also looking to expand their test populations to include people as young as 16 years old in their trials, and also people with long-term conditions like HIV. How important is it to test a wide variety of people during these trials?

FAUST: It's really important to get that information so that we can know who it is effective on. The trouble is that regardless of the information that comes out, when we do get that information, there's going to be a credibility gap. The FDA has not shown wisdom throughout this process in a lot of decisions and they may get this one right. But then people may not pay attention or they may be scared because there's so much credibility that has been squandered.

So my fear is that even if we do get great news, that people will either think that this thing is over, even though of course it will be a long time before we can vaccinate everyone, let alone how long the vaccine works for. And also people just -- they don't know who to trust. And that's why you always tell the truth even if it doesn't kind of win the news cycle.

BLITZER: Yes. That's so important.

Dr. Jeremy Faust, Dr. Celine Gounder, to both of you, thanks so much for all that you're doing. Thanks for joining us today. We really appreciate it.

Coming up, the mayor of Los Angeles is firing back at President Trump who told a rally of his supporters that the California wildfires are all what the president calls forest management.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:37]

BLITZER: Tonight people on the West Coast are dealing with a worsening nightmare of raging fire and thick smoke covering much of California, Oregon and Washington state. Wildfires, some partially contained, others simply out of control, nearly 100 separate fires are burning right now. Some five million acres already have burnt. Thousands of families have fled their homes as news emerges that now 33 people are confirmed dead from the wildfires, dozens more cannot be accounted for.

Let's go to CNN's Paul Vercammen. He's a few miles outside of Los Angeles for us right now.

Those neighborhoods around you, Paul, in the foothills and in the canyons, how much danger are those people in tonight?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so much danger that they've ordered mandatory evacuations for 305 homes, not people, but homes, in these foothill neighborhoods. This is Sierra Madre, Arcadia, and you look behind me. This is why. Active planks of flames up here in the hills. What they're doing right now is they're attacking this from above with helicopters and waiting for it to come down the canyon.

There's an old saying, they say in firefighting, you can go chasing fire, you're putting firefighters in danger. Here on this fire, it's the Bobcat Fire. This is a scene being replicated throughout the western United States right now. We've got 33,000 acres burned. And we understand they were able to bump up the number of firefighters to 800, Wolf, which is good news. You'll recall yesterday when we spoke about this, we only had 500 on the line.

It's still way low. Its resources are spread thin throughout the West. The chief of the forest telling us that he'd rather have 1,000 to 1500 battling a big blaze like this. But you now have 30,000 firefighters battling blazes in California, Washington, Oregon, and other Western states, so they can't send all the resources to one fire. You can't leave a place uncovered. So what we have here is now an aerial assault outside of Arcadia, California, in the Angeles National Forest.

And if we stay with this just a moment, you're going to see this helicopter come in and dump a bucket of water on it. When you talk to these pilots, it's just like, you know, playing a game of darts. When they get a direct hit, they cheerly makes a bull's eye. And I can tell you right now the people who live in these neighborhoods are watching this firefight and they're hoping that they see a lot of those direct hits or bull's eyes from these helicopters who continue to make their runs, their -- get more water, I should say, from tankers or what horse like, trough type thing that we saw and then dump in these neighborhoods.

So this is the latest from Arcadia. They're holding their ground. The good news is we're not seeing any homes ablaze. You know, we talk a lot about structures lost, Wolf, but what about all of the homes that are saved? It's miraculous sometimes when you see the work that these firefighters are doing to save homes, you know, just below these canyons and hills.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: Yes, sadly, so many homes in Washington State, Oregon, and California, thousands and thousands of homes totally have been burnt down, and people have lost everything -- everything in their homes.

So Paul Vercammen, standby, we're going to get back to you. If that were not enough, there's more breaking news. People in Louisiana, particularly around the City of New Orleans, they're actively preparing for the arrival of yet another powerful storm.

It's not a hurricane yet, but forecasters fully expect this tropical storm called Sally make landfall possibly as a Category Two Hurricane.

CNN's Tom Sater is tracking the storm for us. It is in the Gulf of Mexico right now. The waters, I take it, Tom are very warm. The speed will build and build and build. What's the latest forecast?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the bad part about it, Wolf, it looks like it's going to put on the brakes, but you can tell we're at the peak of the hurricane season.

I mean, they're preparing in Bermuda for a landfall tomorrow morning, Paul and that could be a Category Two. This will be our next name system, this Tropical Depression and it will be Teddy.

But Sally right now has already dropped over eight inches of rain in parts of Southwest Florida, all of the activities as well to the eastern flank, but by tomorrow morning, we believe we'll have Hurricane Sally.

And then by tomorrow night, as it approaches the mouth of the Mississippi, it really slows down. All of the activity as mentioned to the east, there have been lightning strikes, which means it's trying to build and get better organized.

If you take a look at our models, and I'll take this to about 7:00 p.m. Look at the angle of approach toward the parishes of Louisiana. It is the worst possible scenario as it moves toward New Orleans, but all of this entire coastal area is going to see a lot of rain.

The problem is if it slows down tomorrow between four and five miles per hour, you could outrun this. The amount of rainfall could be catastrophic as well. We could be talking about one to even two feet of rain.

So then you look at the warnings. You can see Plaquemines Parish and St. Bernard's have got evacuations over towards St. Charles Parish as well. The winds are going to be a problem with scattered power outages. Remember, Laura just last month, still 50,000 without power. They're rebuilding the whole power grid.

But when you look at the storm surge, seven to 11 feet, and I believe with this next model, I'll take it one more step for you, watch how it develops that eye and slides right over New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

They're expecting four to six foot surge there as well. So as long as the levees can hold, we can handle this amount of rainfall, the surge is going to be an extended problem as well.

So this one moves in after midnight tomorrow night.

BLITZER: Yes, let's not forget around this time, 15 years ago, Katrina hit New Orleans as we all remember the devastation that that caused. We'll watch it together with you, Tom Sater. Thank you very much.

Major shifts, meanwhile, in the Middle East. Diplomatic relations are now being established between Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Just to add, we're going to speak to a government minister from the United Arab Emirates about the recent changes, what they will mean for the region.

Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:24]

BLITZER: Israel has just approved a second lockdown as coronavirus cases there surge nationwide. Expected to take effect Friday, this lockdown will bring with it the same severe restrictions that came with the first one back in April.

Schools, restaurants, and entertainment venues will close their doors for three weeks minimum that people will be required to stay within 500 meters of their homes.

This announcement comes after cases hit a record last week with more than 4,000 new infections confirmed for three consecutive days. The decision has placed party leaders at odds as the lockdown will

restrict Jewish-Israelis from attending synagogue in the upcoming High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way to Washington tonight just ahead of Tuesday's White House signing ceremony that will solidify the recent normalization agreements between Israel and both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

CNN's Oren Liebermann explains how significant this is in potentially reshaping alliances across the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's been 26 years since the last peace agreement between Israel and the Arab State, that being Israel and Jordan, and now two within a month.

First Israel and the United Arab Emirates, now Israel and Bahrain announcing they would normalize arrangements and agreements. These are major foreign policy accomplishments for President Donald Trump and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, certainly to be touted at that White House ceremony on Tuesday as the two try to divert attention from other problems domestically.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out with Bahrain. Why is that? Because although Bahrain is a Sunni Kingdom, it has a large Shia population, which might look very unfavorably upon this normalization agreement. So that will be one key to watch out.

Israel saying it wants to move as quickly as possible both with Israel in the UAE and Bahrain, in terms of establishing embassies, normalizing and finalizing the arrangements here and getting direct flights.

Notably, Oman in the Gulf also praised this agreement. It'll be interesting to see if they are the next country to normalize arrangements with Israel. That was a key push of Trump senior adviser, Jared Kushner and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. Joining us now, Reem Al Hashimy. She is the Minister of State for International Cooperation for the United Arab Emirates. Minister, thank you so much for joining us, I know you've come to Washington to participate, to attend the signing ceremony on Tuesday over at the White House.

How significant minister is this deal, not just for the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Israel for that matter, but for the region for the entire Middle East?

[19:40:00]

REEM AL HASHIMY, MINISTER OF STATE FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Thank you very much for having me, Wolf.

It's pretty significant. In fact, it's historic. As your viewers have heard earlier, it has been over 25 years since the last Peace Accord was signed with a country from the Arab world.

The fact that the United Arab Emirates and Israel have decided to normalize ties with one another is a significant step change in what's happening in the Middle East, and it's an indication that we are keen on a new narrative, a narrative of hope and a narrative of prosperity, where you have dialogue, where you have debate, and certainly doing all of that by still keeping the Palestinian cause front and center -- their right to statehood, and the right for a dignified life.

And in the United Arab Emirates, we believe very strongly in our ability and in our opportunity to try to shape something positive for our region, and here's a step in doing that.

BLITZER: So what do you say to the Palestinians, Minister, who are actually condemning this deal even though in exchange for the normalization of relations with Israel from the United Arab Emirates, the Israeli government has agreed not to annex parts of the West Bank, at least not now?

AL HASHIMY: So the suspension of annexation is an important component here, and we hope that this provides an opportunity for greater dialogue and really bringing the peace initiative back to the table.

Now in the Arab world, and in the Middle East by and large, there are certainly naysayers. But in the UAE, we believe very strongly in the need to open conversation and ties.

We have the Abrahamic House, which is a combination of Houses of Worship for Christians, for Muslims, for Jews. We hosted the Pope last year to bring Christians and Muslims together. We believe in the importance of tolerance and an importance of coexistence with others so that religion is not used as an excuse.

And so doing all of that is because we have a different kind of vision for the Arab world and a different kind of vision for the Middle East, which is a region of primarily young people who don't want to carry the baggage of the past and want to forge a new future, focused on science, focused on innovation, focused on respect, focused on prosperity, trade and investment.

And in our relationship, nascent as it is with Israel, we're looking at different ways in which we can help spearhead some of these things. So for example, we just signed up a partnership agreement with the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Mohamed bin Zayed Institute for Artificial Intelligence, we are cooperating on COVID and on technology when it comes to that.

All of these kinds of sort of cross pollination, if you will, is a desire to get to know one another more and get to know one another better so that we can help advance a collective cause, and that's really the premise of these normalization ties. BLITZER: Is it still the position of the United Arab Emirates,

Minister that there should be what's called a two-state solution, Israel add a new state of Palestine living side by side in peace. Is that what you're trying to achieve by this agreement as well?

AL HASHIMY: Absolutely. The two-state solution is very much front and center of the way we've approached this, and we are very keen on ensuring as well that we foster an environment of dialogue and of debate so that we can try to bring some of these things back to the table for the future of all of our populations, Israeli population, the Palestinian young population and the rest of the Arab world.

And so we're very keen on being able to take some of these subjects and some of these matters forward in an environment of respect, and here, the United States has played an incredibly critical role in making sure that this agreement can come to be in the way that it has.

BLITZER: Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty at the White House back in what -- 1979 -- when Jimmy Carter was President and in 1994 in Aqaba, Israel and Jordan signed a Peace Treaty. This coming Tuesday, Israel will sign normalization peace treaties with Bahrain and the United Emirates.

Minister, do you expect other Arab countries to follow your lead?

AL HASHIMY: I think that every nation will have to look at the pros and cons and the merits of this. For us, it is an important strategic play. It has incredible merit. It does not forego the Palestinian cause. In fact, it promotes it and pushes forward with it.

It stands on the premise of our belief in coexistence, our respect for Judaism, our respect of Christianity, our respect of the Muslim faith, and frankly, all other faiths, and so it fits with what we've been trying to do.

You know, Wolf, next year, the UAE will complete its 50th Anniversary. We'll celebrate our golden jubilee, and if you just think of how much this nation has been able to do in 50 years -- 50 short years -- whether it's our Hope Probe, that's our mission to Mars, which we just launched a couple of weeks ago or hosting the World Expo in Dubai next year, which I work very closely with the team on.

Or it's the Special Olympics, which we hosted again, and like I mentioned earlier, the Pope, the nuclear reactor in Baraka, which we also launched a couple of weeks ago. All of these are indicative of a nation that believes in the future, that believes in the importance of prosperity and science and innovation and cutting through barriers.

[19:45:33]

AL HASHIMY: We have points of disagreement, but that doesn't mean that we can't find ways in which we can solve it and really take matters in our own hand as we try to solve through them.

BLITZER: We'll see if other Arab countries, Oman, for example, Morocco, and some others begin to follow your lead in this area and let's hope it can lead to what we call that two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace. That would be great news if that can happen.

AL HASHIMY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Unlikely right now, but let's see if that can happen down the road. Minister Reem Al Hashimy, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck. Congratulations on this new peace agreement.

AL HASHIMY: Thank you.

BLITZER: We appreciate it very much.

AL HASHIMY: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you for coming.

In the wake of "The Atlantic" magazines very damaging reporting, President Trump's polling numbers among the U.S. military are trailing far behind Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden's right now.

This, as he prepares to hold his first indoor rally in three months. You're looking at live pictures coming from inside that rally in Henderson, Nevada just outside of Las Vegas. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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BLITZER: As we just discussed here in THE SITUATION ROOM, President Trump announcing what he calls these historic breakthroughs, full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, both deals were brokered by U.S. officials.

Let's discuss this is more with Wesley Clark. He is a retired four star U.S. Army General, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. He's a CNN military analyst.

General Clark, I want to discuss some other issues. But what's your reaction to the timing, to the agreements that the President and Jared Kushner have worked out between Israel and these two Arab countries?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think anytime we can get an agreement like this, it's a good thing. It doesn't go all the way, the Palestinians aren't part of it, but it is a step forward in the region.

And as far as the timing is concerned, soon is better than later. There is a big push by the administration, of course to get agreements going and wrapped up so they can count for the election.

This is part of President Trump's desire to have concrete achievements there. And so with this, in the case of this agreement, it's an achievement, it should be recognized as such. BLITZER: Potentially, potentially, it could be very, very significant

indeed, first Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan, and now Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. We'll see if other Arab countries follow suit and we'll see how the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority respond, see if they can come up with some sort of, at least negotiating process toward a two-state solution -- Israel and Palestine.

Let's talk about some other issues while I have you, General. I want to talk about the -- something that emerged recently about President Trump that if true, speaks to his attitude about the U.S. military.

We're talking about that article in "The Atlantic" magazine, citing people who say the President referred to troops who died in war, U.S. troops as both losers and suckers. Also reportedly, he doesn't feel very strongly about people like yourself who willingly served or fought in Vietnam. So talk about how you reacted to all of that

CLARK: Well, there is a sense of betrayal, Wolf, because those of us who serve, we feel some personal connection to the Commander-in-Chief no matter who he is. We always have the hope and the faith in the American system of government and that the Commander-in-Chief will order our men into harm -- and women into harm's way, unless it's absolutely the last resort, and that he respects us or respects our dedication, respects our willingness to sacrifice and honors us.

So when you hear comments like this, even when you're just a veteran, it hurts.

BLITZER: I'm sure it does. The President does not necessarily come out all that favorable in a couple of new opinion polls, when Americans were asked who, whether it would be him or Joe Biden who has higher respect for U.S. troops and veterans. This poll from Monmouth University found only 41 percent of the respondents think President Trump respects troops, a great deal compared to 48 percent of the people who think the same of Joe Biden.

And another poll from ABC News and IPSOS taken just this weekend breaks it down this way. Only 37 percent of respondents think President Trump respects U.S. troops and veterans 61 percent say Joe Biden respects them.

So how important is it for American service members to feel that their Commander-in-Chief totally respects what they are doing?

CLARK: Well, of course, the Commander-in-Chief is the -- he is the chief recruiter, no matter what the systems are, people look at him as the symbol.

And so when they feel disrespect, it hurts from top to bottom. It also hurts us in terms of our national credibility. It makes foreign adversaries aware that there might be a split in the chain of command that the military might not jump so willingly when the President says go. So, it's bad that way.

But Wolf, I also want to say this, that we don't want the U.S. military to be politicized. It shouldn't be.

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CLARK: The military is apolitical. It serves loyally the Commander- in-Chief, whoever he or she is, whatever party they are, and that's why the mutual bond is so important.

You know, President Trump says a lot of things, but he shouldn't even be thinking these things about the men or women in uniform and the comment he made about the senior officers wanting to have wars to help the military industrial complex, that's the furthest thing from their minds.

What they want to do is serve the country and they are well aware of the risks, the dangers, the costs of warfare. So the military is traditionally and almost in every case, the very last institution to recommend a military action.

BLITZER: An important point, indeed. General Wesley Clark, as usual, thanks to you for coming in. Appreciate it very much. Appreciate your service to our country as well.

Meanwhile, the President is getting ready to hold his first indoor rally in some three months. Looking at pictures coming in from Henderson, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas. We'll be right back.

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