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THE SITUATION ROOM

Intel Chief Confirmation Fight; President Trump in Ohio; Interview With Presidential Candidate Julian Castro; Democratic Debate Fallout; Biden, Bizarre That Debate Rivals Attacked Obama's Legacy; Stocks Plunge As Trump Announces New China Tariffs; Trump About To Hold Ohio Rally, Says He Doesn't Know If He can Stop Crowd From Chanting Send Her Back; Trump Says No Problem With Latest North Korean Launches As U.S. Officials Say North Fired Two Short-Range Missiles; Trump: "No Problem" with Latest North Korean Launches as U.S. Officials Say North Fired Two Short-Range Missiles; Sr. Official: U.S. to Test New Cruise Missile, Answering Russian Missile Deployment As Cold War Treaty Ends. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Joe Biden bore the brunt of the attacks when Democratic hopefuls turned on one another in their CNN debates. Now Biden is battling back, saying criticism directed by fellow Democrats at former President Obama was bizarre.

Lack of intelligence. Democratic senators pledge to derail President Trump's pick for intelligence chief, saying he lacks intelligence experience, and calling his apparent padding of his resume an enormous red flag.

And new American missile. A CNN exclusive. With the collapse of a Soviet era treaty, the U.S. will test a new missile in response to Russia's deployment of an advanced new missile of its own. Is the Cold War back?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news: President Trump is moving to take back the spotlight after two nights of Democratic debates. He's heading to a rally in Cincinnati after taking pot shots at his Democratic rivals.

It will be his first campaign rally since a North Carolina crowd chanted "Send her back" in response to the president's attacks on a U.S. congresswoman born in Somalia. The president calls his Ohio crowd a great group of people, but says he doesn't know if he can stop that ugly chant.

Also tonight, Democratic presidential candidates are taking stock of their performances in the CNN debate, which saw the White House hopefuls turn on one another, mostly on front-runner Joe Biden, and on former President Barack Obama. Biden says he expected the incoming fire, but was surprised by what he

calls the bizarre criticism of President Obama.

I will speak with Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro.

And our correspondents and analysts are standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's at that rally in Ohio.

Jim, President Trump is campaigning there tonight. What do we expect?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump is about an hour from delivering his response to this week's Democratic debates, but much of the country will be watching to see if there is a repeat of what we saw two weeks ago at a Trump rally in North Carolina, when many of his supporters were chanting "Send her back" about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Earlier this afternoon, the president told reporters that he's not sure if he can stop his supporters from doing it again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is making one thing obvious. He wants to be up on the debate stage with a big field of Democrats vying to take back the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He came limping through, as I say about sleepy Joe. He limped right through it, but he got through it. He really did. I think he was OK. I think Kamala had a bad night last night, I would say. But it's really boiling down to four or five of them.

ACOSTA: The president is sounding off on his potential Democratic rivals, crowing on Twitter: "China, Iran, and other foreign countries are looking at the Democratic candidates and drooling," as the president claimed: "We are respected again all around the world. Keep it that way. We will only grow bigger, better, and stronger together."

If that phrase stronger together sounds familiar, that's because it belonged to Hillary Clinton back in 2016. Yet at the same time he was suggesting China wants him to remain in office, the president was also escalating his trade war with Beijing, announcing he will impose a new 10 percent tariff on some $300 billion in Chinese products starting in September.

TRUMP: For many years, China has been taking money out by the hundreds of billions of dollars a year. We have rebuilt China. So now it's time that we change things around.

If they don't want to trade with us anymore, that would be fine with me. ACOSTA: But even his former top economic adviser Gary Cohn says in an

interview with the BBC, Mr. Trump's tariffs are not likely to produce a new trade deal.

GARY COHN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I don't really think it's hitting the Chinese economy. I think the Chinese economy is going to slow down with or without a trade war.

ACOSTA: The president is heading to Cincinnati to stage his first rally since his supporters infamously chatted "Send her back" after Mr. Trump tore into Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.

CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

TRUMP: And she talked about the evil Israel and it's all about the Benjamins. Not a good thing to say.

ACOSTA: On his way to Ohio, the president was asked whether or not he could stop the chants this time around.

TRUMP: I don't know that you can stop people.

ACOSTA: That ugly spectacle hasn't let up in some parts of the U.S. In North Carolina, a gun store set up a billboard blasting Omar and the three other Democratic women of color known as the Squad, saying: "The four horsemen are idiots, signed the Deplorables."

The president was also pressed on his phone call with Russia's Vladimir Putin, a conversation the White House said was about wildfires in Siberia and trade issues.

TRUMP: I spoke with President Putin yesterday. They're having massive fires in the -- their forests. They have tremendous -- I have never seen anything like it. It's very big. I just offered our assistance, because we're very good at putting out forest fires.

[18:05:13]

ACOSTA: The president is also weighing in on the Justice Department's decision against prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey for leaking memos he wrote in 2017 revealing Mr. Trump's efforts to shield former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: I would frankly be surprised, because what James Comey did was illegal. So I would be surprised, but I don't know anything about that.

ACOSTA: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is accusing Republicans of going soft on Moscow.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: They want the Russians to interfere, because they think it will help them. It's clear -- Mueller made this clear -- that the Russians wanted Trump to win. ACOSTA: With all of that on his agenda, the president is getting

involved in the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was acquitted of war crimes in the death of an ISIS fighter.

Taking the Navy SEAL's side on the matter, Mr. Trump tweeted he ordered the secretary of the Navy to strip achievement medals from the military prosecutors handling the case. A former Pentagon spokesman questioned the move, tweeting that authority resides at a relatively low command level.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And the president is defending his decision to impose new tariffs on China, saying the costs of those tariffs will not be passed on to American consumers.

But that's not true. Multiple studies have shown the cost of those tariffs are, indeed, passed on to U.S. consumers. And, Wolf, the announcement of those tariffs is an acknowledgement that the president's trade talks with China's Xi Jinping have collapsed and for now his trade war is not working -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You're right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

The Democratic 2020 hopefuls are back on the trail after this week's CNN debates. They turned on one another on the debate stage, but some of them also turned against former President Barack Obama.

Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Dean.

Joe Biden, he's hitting back today, specifically on that.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN Correct RESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf.

The former vice president expressing surprise today fellow Democrats attacked Barack Obama's record. And he's once again making his argument that his views, not the more leftward policy proposals from his opponents, represent the majority of Democratic voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN (voice-over): Tonight, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris back on the trail, hours after sparring at the CNN debate in Detroit. Biden saying the level of criticism directed at parts of former President Barack Obama's record last night was unexpected.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I must tell you, I was a little surprised at how much incoming was about Barack, about the president. I mean, I'm proud of having served with him. I'm proud of the job he did.

DEAN: Including the attack on mass deportations by the Obama administration, that criticism coming from Obama's HUD secretary, Julian Castro.

BIDEN: We sat together in many meetings. I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't. What we need are some politicians that actually have some guts on this issue.

BIDEN: I have guts enough to say his plan doesn't make sense.

DEAN: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly asked Biden if he used his power as vice president to advise Obama against the deportations.

BIDEN: I was vice president. I am not the president. I keep my recommendations to him in private, unlike you.

DEAN: Which quickly led to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker calling out Biden for using his ties to the former president as a political shield.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DEAN: The candidates also sparring over their health care plans.

BIDEN: The senator has had several plans so far. And any time someone tells you you're going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years. You can't beat President Trump with double-talk on this plan.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Vice President Biden, you're just simply inaccurate in what you're describing.

The reality is that our plan will bring health care to all Americans under a Medicare for all system. Our plan will allow people to start signing up on the first day.

DEAN: Harris faced tough criticism for her record as a prosecutor in California from Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I'm deeply concerned about this record. She fought to keep cash bail system in place. That impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

DEAN: According to a CNN fact-check, Harris advocated for higher bail amounts from gun-related crimes after being elected San Francisco's district attorney in 2004, but she also introduced legislation as a senator in 2017 to reform or replace the practice Gabbard criticized.

HARRIS: As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done. And I am proud of that work. (END VIDEOTAPE)

[18:10:04]

DEAN: Now, tonight, there are some within the Democratic Party itself who have expressed frustration with the criticism of Barack Obama's record last night, arguing that Democrats should be focused, Wolf, on President Trump's record, and how to defeat him in 2020.

BLITZER: Jessica Dean reporting for us, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro.

Secretary Castro, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

So, what lessons hasn't former Vice President Joe Biden learned?

CASTRO: Yes, thanks for having me, Wolf.

You know, let me just begin by saying that I don't think that you will find a Cabinet member from President Obama's Cabinet that has been more effusive in his praise of Barack Obama. And I did that last night.

I talked about the great work that Barack Obama did to bring our economy back, even though Donald Trump is trying to take credit for that. I have praised a lot of the record of Barack Obama.

At the same time, there hasn't been a single administration in history that we could say that we can't learn from and improve over in the future. And so what I said yesterday was that, look, we need to learn the lessons of the past when it comes to immigration.

Some of those lessons that I hope the vice president does learn is, number one, the next president can't wait to do immigration reform. In 2009-2010, when Democrats had the presidency, 60 votes, effectively, in the Senate and a majority in the House, that was the time to move immigration reform.

I would move immigration reform immediately. Secondly, you can't deport your way to the negotiating table and succeed with Mitch McConnell and these right-wing Republicans. It doesn't matter how many people you deport, how cruel you are. It's never going to be enough for them.

So we need to not be afraid of presenting our own bold alternative and positive vision for how we would handle immigration policy. That's what I have done. But the vice president has not.

And then, third -- and this was part of the conversation yesterday, and this is just one part of my plan -- we need to understand that no future administration should have the tool in law Section 1325 of the Immigration Nationality Act to be able to do what Donald Trump has done and incarcerate migrant parents and separate them from their little children using this law. So we can still have consequences.

BLITZER: So...

CASTRO: It would still be legal for somebody to come across the border, and they would go into a court process, but this law, this tool that has allowed Trump to do this would be gone.

BLITZER: So would it be a mistake -- was it a mistake -- let's go back a little bit. Was it a mistake for President Obama to prosecute in a criminal way migrants for crossing the border illegally?

CASTRO: I would rather that we not use Section 1325 that way.

And up until about 2004 -- from 1929 until 2004, that was rarely ever used. So whether you're talking about Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, essentially, these matters were treated as civil matters.

I think most Americans don't realize that, when we talk about a deportation process, that is not a criminal matter. That is a civil matter. So there's consequences for coming across the border, but this administration, the Trump administration, has weaponized this law to inflict the cruelty, the family separation that it has.

I want to make sure that no future administration can do that. And the vice president and I disagree on this. I want to guarantee that that kind of family separation doesn't happen again. This is one way to help guarantee that.

BLITZER: On your plan to decriminalize border crossings, Mr. Secretary, another former member of the Obama administration, the former homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, a man you know well, has said that the policy you proposed would be, in his words, "tantamount to a public declaration that our borders are effectively open to all" -- end quote.

Would your policy incentivize migrants to cross into the United States illegally?

CASTRO: I think, upon future reflection, that Secretary Johnson, whom I respect a lot, will recognize that that was very melodramatic and incorrect. That's a lot of hyperbole. And I think one day that he's going to walk that back.

So let's just look at what's happened in the Trump administration. Actually, more people have come to the border in the last couple of months than when Donald Trump took office. So his cruelty, his family separation, his putting these little children on the floor with Mylar blankets, and not giving them enough to eat, and not giving them soap and toothbrushes, not giving these adults enough to eat in these detention centers, that hasn't deterred more people from coming.

[18:15:07]

If we want to deter people from coming, we should follow my plan, which is to do a 21st century Marshall Plan with Central America, so that people can find safety and opportunity at home, instead of having to come to the United States. That's how we can be smarter, more effective, and more humane.

But let me tell you something, Wolf. Look -- and I would say this to all American voters. If you elect me president, you're not electing me to follow. You're electing me to lead. And I will lead.

Even when things like this are not necessarily popular at the beginning, I'm not going to base what I do, when we're dealing with wrong and right like little children in cages, on whether something is popular right now.

I am fully willing to go and make the case of why we need to do it. And I will make this case.

BLITZER: While Democrats, Mr. Secretary, were going after each other on the stage in Detroit last night, President Trump started tweeting, and he was blaming the Obama administration for child separations.

Did all of this debate, all this talk of former President Obama, give President Trump ammunition?

CASTRO: Well, look, President Trump has been telling lies about President Obama and everything else, you know, since he became president.

I mean, this president is a serial liar. You can't believe anything that he says. No, there's a vast difference between Barack Obama and Donald Trump when it comes to immigration policy.

Donald Trump has a dark heart. He has based his political career, his presidential career on the backs of migrants, of scapegoating them, of creating more fear and more paranoia, of the cruelty. He uses cruelty as a way to gin up his base.

And so, you know, he took -- he weaponized Section 1325 of the Immigration Nationality Act, unlike any other president before. So that is what is disrespectful to Barack Obama, what Donald Trump is doing, to even mention him in the same breath when he talks about these kinds of activities.

BLITZER: On a political note, you haven't yet qualified, Mr. Secretary, for the next Democratic debate. That's in mid-September in your home state of Texas, in Houston.

What's your strategy to get there?

CASTRO: Well, you know, I think a month ago, when we had the first debate, that I got on a lot of people's radar screens. We got more people expressing support, more folks going to our events, a little bit of a bump in the polls, better fund-raising.

I had another great night last night, if you read all of the feedback and the reviews, you know, since last night. So I'm confident that we're going to keep getting stronger and stronger. And I'm just going to keep my head down and work hard.

We're adding staff in all of these early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina. So I think that we're going to make it.

BLITZER: Secretary Castro, good luck out there. Thanks so much for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

BLITZER: In another important story we're following tonight, Democratic senators are vowing to derail President Trump's pick for director of national intelligence, raising serious new questions about Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe's resume.

Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, what's the latest?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Democrats have already been concerned that John Ratcliffe is too political and inexperienced for this job, but now new concerns in the wake of reports showing that he may have padded his resume about his time while working as a federal prosecutor.

According to his congressional Web site, that he listed that his job he had put terrorists in prison, but his office has not been able to provide any names of individuals that he put in prison, raising questions about exactly what he was referring to.

One Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, told me he would pull out all the stops to stop this confirmation from going forward. And the top Democrat on the committee told me today that this raises enormous red flags.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Director Coats was willing to speak truth to power. I have seen no evidence, at least from what I have read and seen about Mr. Ratcliffe, that he will bring that same level of independence.

And what I fear is that, the deeper we get into the Trump administration, the more this president wants yes-men like Bill Barr, the attorney general. If there's ever a time when we need to make sure the intelligence community speaks truth to power, it's now.

RAJU: Do you think that's disqualifying, him padding his resume?

WARNER: Listen, I'm going to sit down with Mr. Ratcliffe, but this is one more item that raises enormous red flags to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, Ratcliffe's office said that while working in the Eastern District of Texas, he -- quote -- "opened, managed, and supervised numerous domestic and international terrorism-related cases." But safe to say, Wolf, Republicans have more questions. The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr, told us earlier today that he wasn't going to comment on this, but the committee would investigate it once that formal nomination comes forward -- Wolf.

[18:20:00]

BLITZER: Manu, 116 Democrats in the House of Representatives now publicly support an impeachment inquiry. That's two more -- if we get two more, that's half of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

So what happens then?

RAJU: Well, pressure is going to grow.

Already, House Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have said their current course of action is essentially the same thing as an impeachment inquiry in the aftermath of a court filing last week saying they were actively considering articles of impeachment.

That language in that court filing endorsed by Speaker Pelosi. But Pelosi has put the brakes on moving forward with formal impeachment proceedings.

And when I asked her just this summer whether or not a majority of the caucus could convince her to move forward with an impeachment inquiry, she pushed back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: If the majority of your caucus wants to move forward with an impeachment inquiry, would you go for it?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's not even close in our caucus.

(CROSSTALK)

RAJU: But eventually.

PELOSI: But why are we speculating on hypotheticals? What we're doing is winning in court. We won a victory. We're getting the documents from the Judiciary -- the Justice Department today, for fear of further going to court, although we're still going to hold the attorney general in contempt today.

Nothing as divisive in our country, in my view, than impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, the big question is whether or not some of the most vulnerable Democrats, the Democrats who carried Trump districts, whether they start supporting an impeachment inquiry.

That could change Pelosi's calculus, potentially. And already you have seen some of those Democrats break, others resist, others keeping their powder dry.

And today, Wolf, I asked the speaker herself whether she will change her position once that majority threshold has been reached. She would not comment, instead saying she will issue a statement -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we shall see.

Manu, thank you very much.

Just ahead, there's breaking news. North Korea sends an ominous message with another round of ballistic missile launches. Why is President Trump saying he has no problem with that?

And extraordinary images, as a plane makes a hair-raising emergency landing on a busy street.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:35]

BLITZER: Our breaking news, after the 2020 Democrats turned on one another in the CNN debates, the front-runner, Joe Biden, says he expected the attacks, but calls the criticism of the Obama legacy bizarre.

Let's bring in our analysts and discuss.

You know, David Swerdlick, we saw some very aggressive tactics last night. Did that hurt the candidates' ability to lay out their respective visions?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: A few things, Wolf. I think it helped Senator Elizabeth Warren from the prior night, because she stayed out of that kind of fray. I think it really hurt Senator Harris.

She's proven that she's good at prosecuting people. She's not good yet in those debate settings of turning to the camera, looking at the American people, and saying, here's why I want to be your president.

When it comes to Vice President Biden, Wolf, I am baffled why he has such a hard time defending the Obama record. I would be leaning into it if I were him. On August 1, 2011, this day in Obama's presidency, the stock market was up 55 percent. That's way better than President Trump.

They have a -- this is right about unemployment started going down from the recession. They have a record they can run on. You have to acknowledge things also, like President Obama deported more people than any of his predecessors, that Democrats clearly don't like.

But it's shocking to me that no one has figured out to make this a positive.

BLITZER: Ryan Lizza, were you surprised to see President Obama's record come up so often last night for criticism? RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: For criticism, right.

I wasn't totally surprised, because the issues that are relevant right now in the Democratic Party, Obama's record on them doesn't look so great in the light of where Democrats are now.

On immigration, early in Obama's term, the reason he was so gung-ho about deportations was for a political reason. He wanted to strike a deal with Republicans. And he wanted to show that he was tough on border security and immigrants who were here without documentation.

And so it was a conscious policy. That policy doesn't look so good to most Democrats these days. And even at the time, a lot of activists and members in the Latino community were very, very vocal against that.

On health care, I think it's a little -- I'm a little more surprised on that, because people are forgetting how difficult it was to get the Affordable Care Act through the United States Senate in his first term and are not really grappling with the reality of what a Republican-run Senate and a Democratic president or a sort of Democratic Senate with a few extra votes, how difficult it would be to pass on some of the legislation that's being talked about among Democrats.

BLITZER: Susan, everybody was waiting to see how former Vice President Biden would do last night after his relatively rocky performance in the first Democratic presidential debate. How did he do?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I certainly thing he had a stronger performance than in that first debate.

That said, I don't know that the first debate harmed him quite as much as it seemed immediately afterwards. His poll numbers did dip, but they largely rebounded sort of going back into this debate.

So, I think it shows that Joe Biden is the front-runner. He's a very durable front-runner. That said, this is not 2016. There is not an anointed nominee from the outset.

The Democrats are having a serious primary and a serious primary that involves conflict over policies and ideas. And I think that, in itself, is offering a vision to voters, you know, of what it looks like to have serious ideas debated by serious people, what presidential behavior looks like.

[18:30:04]

And so regardless of sort of the winners and losers of that particular debate, I do think, you know, overall, despite concerns about attacking one another, sort of tearing each other down in the eyes of the voters didn't. Overall, there are a number of people on that stage last night and the night before who, you know, have convinced voters that they are prepared to go in and beat Donald Trump in a general. WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: You know, Bianna Golodryga, let's take a look at the big picture of the two nights of debates in Detroit this week. What worked?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I think night one worked better than night two. I think night one proved to be more effective, specifically in terms of issues and substance.

On healthcare, you really saw a debate on stage between the progressives and the more moderates. And you saw that they had a real grasp of the subject, of the issue of healthcare. They spoke about it for many, many of their chances to answer questions. They would go back to it as well. You saw on night two though Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both proposed their plans. They didn't seem to have that firm of a grasp.

So I think when it came to substantive issues and issues that American voters say is their number one issue, I think night one proved to be more effective in terms of healthcare.

Though I have to say night two was really bizarre in -- to quote Vice President Joe Biden, because why these candidates would choose now of all times to attack arguably the most popular democrat on the planet, it just seems as though it's a run-of-the-mill election for them, as if they're running against President Romney. That's clearly not the case. And I think you see a lot of democrats puzzled by that.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of people were totally surprised by that decision, by some of these democratic presidential candidates.

David Swerdlick, as of right now, only seven of these democratic presidential candidates have already qualified for the next round of debate or debates in Houston in September. And you can see who they are, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. What's going to -- how's the field going to shift, let's say, in the next month or so?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. So you've got the big four there that you put up on the screen, plus Booker, O'Rourke and Buttigieg. But among the rest of the candidates -- so let me tie this to what Bianna was just saying, you've got a ton of moderates who are serving no purpose in this race. Clearly, there's a lane for moderates because Vice President Biden, as you said, is leading in the polls and he's Mr. Moderate.

But you have all of these other sort of Biden-like substances, Governor Bullock, Governor Hickenlooper, who are not representing a particular issue and they're not sticking up for that left of center moderate lane, so I think they are likely to fall by the wayside. I think candidates like Andrew Yang, who represent an issue, even though they're not going to win, universal basic income, are going to stick around, because people just want to hear what they have to say.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But I have to say, this debate criteria is starting to look a little silly. It is August. Most voters who are going to vote in January, February, and think about the Super Tuesday states, you know, people in California who are not thinking about this campaign at all, these candidates are going to be weeded out based on, I mean, this kind of manufactured criteria of, you know, polling in August of the year before the primaries.

I think that, you know, the DNC is in danger of doing what they were accused of doing in 2016, and, you know, weeding out people way too early before most voters are paying attention, right? I mean, if a Governor of Montana doesn't make the debate stage and Marianne Williamson does because a bunch of republicans donate $1 to her campaign, I mean, that suggests a system that's not exactly perfect.

SWERDLICK: I don't disagree with you, Ryan. The only thing I would say though is that why were all of these 20 candidates in the field in the first place? I think the party overcorrected from accusations in 2016 that the fix was in for Clinton, and they let all of these people in who really have no chance.

BLITZER: We've got a lot more that we need to discuss on all the breaking news. We will right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:00]

BLITZER: We're back with our experts. And, Bianna, you're an expert in this area. As you know, the President announced that coming September 1st, there's going to be another 10 percent tariff on all imports from China, $300 billion worth of imports coming into the United States. That's going to raise the price for a lot of stuff that Americans buy from China.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that's true. The President continues to say that it's not going to impact U.S. consumers. Of course, U.S. consumers are the ones that are going to be impacted the most, regardless of what the President says. For whatever reason, he thinks that he can continue to bully Xi Jinping in China, and there's no doubt that this is impacting the Chinese economy.

That said, President Xi doesn't have an election he has to worry about anytime soon. He's got a constituency at home that he has to uphold China's nationalism as well. The economy, though slowing, is still growing at three times the rate of the U.S.

And at this point, the President seems to have boxed himself in, that if he seems to cave, then, you know, democrats who are equally staunchly anti-China in many aspects, could argue that the President has caved in and is the weaker of the two.

So you're in a situation where now, as you've seen, the President once again lashing out at the fed for not cutting interest rates as much as he wanted to, to give him more of that cushion that he's just not seeing right now.

[18:40:03]

BLITZER: Well, does this mean the talks, effectively, U.S.-China talks have collapsed?

GOLODRYGA: It looks like they will continue. And at some point, you may get on paper what looks like closer to a deal. China may say that they're going to do one thing. But when the President himself says that they want Chinese law to be changed and that is something the Chinese are just not willing to do, anything less than that would look like something the President's caving in on.

So I don't know how the administration would try to spin it, and maybe they can drag this out longer. But it looks like they're not anywhere near a deal right now.

BLITZER: Let's talk about this rally. The President is getting ready to do another huge rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, tonight. And he was asked earlier in the day if they start chanting, send her back, what is he going to do? Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I can't tell you whether or not they're going to do that chant. If they do the chant, we'll have to see what happens.

REPORTER: Will you stop it?

TRUMP: I don't know that you can stop people. I don't know that you can. I mean, we'll see what we can do. I'd prefer that they don't.

But if they do it, we'll have to make a decision then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So what message does that send?

SWERDLICK: Look, the President's whole demeanor there was coy, Wolf. I think he sends the message that he takes a lot of delight and glee in these chants, whether or not he is going to actually endorse them. And that's just where we are right now.

BLITZER: He could just tell those folks to stop it.

LIZZA: He could just say that, and he sort of said that recently, but kind of pulled back. He likes to play this kind of game, expectations game, turn it into a bit of a reality show. Are they going to say it? Are they not going to say it?

And, you know, frankly, what motivates a lot of hardcore Trump voters, it is pissing off their opponents, right, angering the media and democrats.

HENNESSEY: And at the end of the day, what Trump wants to come out of this rally is the headline. And so the send her back chants, that's a headline, that's a script that he likes. It's certainly a better script than the headlines that, as of today, a majority of the democratic caucus, you know, supports impeachment. There's a lot of stories he's trying to get sort of out of the headlines. BLITZER: All right. There's a lot more breaking news we're following, including this. Some stunning images we're getting as a plane makes a hair-raising emergency landing on a busy street.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Trump says that he has no problem with North Korea's latest launch. U.S. Officials say two missiles were fired this time.

Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley, who's made 19 trips to North Korea. Will, what's the latest?

[18:45:00]

What are you learning?

[18:45:00]

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim Jong-un knows he can get away with this kind of kind of thing, Wolf. It's very similar to the kind of launch we saw just a couple of days ago, assessed as short-range nuclear missiles that some analysts say could deliver a nuclear warhead to South Korea or Japan, where there are tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed.

But Kim Jong-un knows that since President Trump says it's not a big deal to him that he can continue to push the envelope as he tries to gain leverage ahead of what are expected to be the possible presumption of working level talks with the U.S.

BLITZER: This comes as you know, Will, as the U.S. is pressing for North Korea to resume talks. What are you hearing about that?

RIPLEY: Well, we know that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was speaking in Bangkok at a conference, saying he's optimistic those talks could resume. And he didn't talk about these latest launches.

Clearly, the U.S. trying to keep the situation calm at the moment, as the North Koreans try to test just how far they can go. Clearly, Kim was emboldened by that photo op at the demilitarized zone with President Trump, and now he wants results. He wants sanctions results and he wants to remind the United States that he can pull the trigger on a bigger launch if things don't go his way.

BLITZER: You know, these short-range missiles, they're not that short range. They have a range of about 1,000 kilometers or 600 miles. They go 300, 400, 500 miles. All of South Korea, basically Japan, there within sight.

RIPLEY: Absolutely right. And North Korea could launch one of these things further, if they want to. Again, more than 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, not to mention tens of millions of people potentially in harm's way.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a serious issue -- RIPLEY: Yet, President Trump continuing to say "not a big deal".

BLITZER: Yes, Will Ripley joining us. Will, thanks very, very much.

Just ahead in a CNN exclusive, we've learned the U.S. military will respond to Russia's latest missile deployment by testing a new missile of its own.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:29] BLITZER: Now to a CNN exclusive. With the looming collapse of a landmark nuclear treaty dating back to the Soviet era, the United States is about to respond to Russia's deployment of a new missile by testing one of its own.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the question tonight is arms control giving way to a new arms race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): This is the Russia missile the U.S. says led to the demise of a critical Cold War U.S. Soviet arms control treaty. And tonight, CNN has learned that the U.S. military is set to test a new non-nuclear mobile launch cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Russia in Europe according to a senior U.S. defense official. Details of this new weapon are scant as it is just entering the test phase.

This comes as the U.S. is expected to formally withdraw tomorrow from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.

STARR: It's one of the few areas that Trump and Obama administrations agree.

MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia has cheated or is cheating on treaties. I give the Obama administration high marks for calling them out and trying to work this.

STARR: The U.S. has long claimed Russia was in violation when it built and deployed this new ground launch missile. Defense officials say Russia has deployed multiple battalions on rapidly moving mobile launch vehicles that U.S. intelligence may find difficult to detect.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The threat is not American withdrawal from the IMF treaty. The threat is Russian missiles already deployed.

STARR: If war breaks out, the potential target Russia could hit include European ports, cities and critical military and civilian infrastructure, according to a U.S. official. This new U.S. missile aimed to deter those Russian threats but also could be used against China in a crisis.

ESPER: We obviously need to prepare air missile defenses to defeat those intermediate range missiles. But then the other part is to make sure that we develop our own conventional INF range missiles to deal not just with Russia but China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So if the U.S. wants to put the American missiles land based missiles in Europe, it's going to need agreement by European nations who have to agree to base those missiles on the continent. And countries like Poland who are nervous about next door Russian Vladimir Putin just might agree to take those missiles -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens on that front. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

Just ahead, look at this, an emergency landing on a busy highway. And it's caught on camera.

(COMEMRCIAL BREAK)

[18:59:00] BLITZER: All right. You're about to see a morning drive that a lot of people are going to remember for a long time. This is for commuters near Tacoma, Washington. A small single engine plane forced to make an emergency landing on a busy street after a fuel malfunction.

A state trooper was on the scene, caught the nerve-racking final moments on his dash cam. He flipped the ewe turn after seeing the plane approaching and used his lights to warn drivers. The plane wobbled a bit, went back and forth as it touched down but safely stopped in the middle of the road. And no one was hurt, fortunately.

Troopers helped push the plane to the side of the road so that traffic could resume. Officials say the trooper whose dash cam took the pictures has been on the job 21 years but he had never seen anything like this before.

Pretty amazing stuff you don't want to see it very often.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Tweet the show at @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.