Return to Transcripts main page


Ex-Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Says He's Happy To Come Testify In House Impeachment Probe; House Judiciary To Vote On Gun Bills Before The End Of Congressional Recess; Trump Calls Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) Michigan Canceled Trip To Visit Grandmother In West Bank A Complete Setup; U.S. Customs Computer Crash; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA); No Deal: Greenland Tells Trump It's Not For Sale; CNN: U.S. Expects Iran to Launch Missile in Coming Days Amid Concerns U.S. Enemies Feel Emboldened By Trump. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Will the White House prevent that from happening?

Refusing to travel. After she was banned by Israel from -- with President Trump's blessing, a Democratic congresswoman is rejecting a new offer to visit her grandmother in the West Bank. This as outrage grows over Mr. Trump's pressuring Israel to punish his political opponents.

On shaky ground. As recession fears grip the markets and the White House, the president is trying to scare up support. He's warning voters they have no choice but to reelect him if they want to avoid economic pain.

And put on ice. Greenland says it's not for sale after Mr. Trump floats the possibility of buying it. We have reaction from the world's largest island, where some are asking if the U.S. president has gone mad.

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: We're following breaking news on the House impeachment probe.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is signaling he's willing to testify after being subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee.

Also tonight, new controversy after Israel banned the entry of two Democratic congresswomen targeted by President Trump. One of the lawmakers, Rashida Tlaib, is rejecting Israel's new offer to let her visit her family on the West Bank, calling Israel's conditions oppressive. And more evidence that Mr. Trump is stressing about a potential

recession just ahead of the 2020 election. He told crowds in New Hampshire they have no choice but to vote for him to avoid economic consequences.

This hour, I will talk with Senator and Democratic candidate Cory Booker and House Judiciary Committee member Cedric Richmond. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.

Manu, Corey Lewandowski is speaking out about that House subpoena to testify.


And he's making it very clear that he is going to defend the president and attack the Democrats on that committee, calling them phony, saying that he's going to make this clear that the Democrats are engaged in what he calls a witch-hunt.

Now, this represents, Wolf, a new phase of this investigation that the House Judiciary Committee is launching, as they try to determine whether or not to move forward with formal impeachment proceedings. Particularly -- the Judiciary Committee has already said they're in a formal impeachment proceeding.

The question now is, will they actually vote on articles of impeachment? And they view, the Democrats do, Lewandowski as one of the witnesses who could help build their case towards actual articles of impeachment.

The question ultimately is how much does Lewandowski tell this committee? He has appeared before a separate committee, the House Intelligence Committee, that last year. And in that session, Democrats tried to ask him a number of questions about what happened during the White House.

He did not serve in the White House, but communications that he had with the president, but he refused to answer those questions, even cursing repeatedly, I'm told, at those Democrats. Now, will he fight and be feisty before Democrats in this committee? He indicated today he's willing to fight.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I look forward to my opportunity to sit in front of his committee. And, believe me, I'm no flowering violet. He wants to attack me, which he's already done, I am a guy who's going to fight back and I look forward to that opportunity.

I'm happy to come, right, because I want to explain that there was no collusion, there was no obstruction.


RAJU: Now, Wolf, Corey Lewandowski is considering a run for the Senate. Presumably, he could use this as an effort to propel his campaign potentially.

He appeared with the president at his rally yesterday. The president made very clear he would like him to run for that in that New Hampshire Senate race, even though a number of Republicans are concerned about his potential candidacy.

So we could see a lot of theatrics come this hearing mid-September. The question is ultimately what will be gained? What will the public learn? That's a big question going forward.

BLITZER: It could be rather lively.

What does he know about possible obstruction?

RAJU: Well, he is referenced several times throughout the Mueller report as part of that investigation into obstruction of justice.

There was efforts about -- allegedly the president underwent to try to undercut the Mueller probe, try to thwart it. And according to what the Mueller report says, that the president told Corey Lewandowski that he wanted Lewandowski to reach out to Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, to try to limit the scope of the Mueller probe to exclude the president's campaign, instead focus on future investigations.

Now, Lewandowski tried to set up this meeting. It did not occur. The president then followed up with Lewandowski. Lewandowski then turned to Rick Dearborn, who was then a former -- was then a White House official, then a former chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, said, why don't you go to Jeff Sessions, try to set up this meeting?

He delivered a message. It was typed out, delivering the president's words. Dearborn apparently did not set up this meeting. But the same committee, the House Judiciary Committee, wants to hear from Rick Dearborn as well.


They issued a subpoena for both him and Lewandowski to appear at that hearing in mid-September. So we will see if Corey Lewandowski decides to talk about those episodes, because, in the past, as I said earlier, he does not want to do that.


BLITZER: And, you point out, unlike Lewandowski, Dearborn actually worked in the White House, so the White House might have a better case for executive privilege on that front.

Thanks very much, Manu, for that report.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's with the president in New Jersey.

Kaitlan, any White House reaction so far to the prospect of Corey Lewandowski testifying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it seems to be a sign the White House thinks that strategy we first reported on yesterday could be a successful one, where officials are weighing using executive privilege to stop Corey Lewandowski from having to answer any questions about conversations like the ones that Manu was just laying out, conversations about the special counsel's investigation, even though Democrats have said absolutely not, that's not something that can apply to Corey Lewandowski, because he never worked in the administration.

Something we should note, executive privilege experts that I spoke to agree with. White House counsel colleagues -- or White House counsel officials are still trying to figure out how to navigate their path forward with Corey Lewandowski and this congressional subpoena, as their colleagues are dealing with the fallout after President Trump urged Israel to bar those two Democratic congresswomen from being able to visit the country.

And even though Israel relented today, allowing one of them to come under certain circumstances to visit her family, Rashida Tlaib said her travel plans have changed.


COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is rejecting Israel's offer to visit her family on the West Bank, an offer that came with conditions one day after the country denied her and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar entry, at President Trump's urging.

"Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in," Tlaib explained on Twitter. Those conditions would have included a pledge to not promote boycotts against Israel while she was there.

The president has faced widespread criticism for getting involved.

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It's disrespect for the Congress and the American political system for our ally to keep two members of Congress out of Israel.

COLLINS: But sources tell CNN the president's advisers believe his fight with four freshman Democrats who call themselves the Squad could benefit him in 2020, which is why the president keeps hammering them on the campaign trail.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It really is keep America great because we have these socialists who want to take it away from us.

COLLINS: The one message sources tell CNN advisers fear won't work out for them is the economy. Shaky markets and unpredictable trade talks are stoking fears of a recession inside the White House. At a campaign rally overnight in New Hampshire, the president struck a dire tone.

TRUMP: You have no choice but to vote for me, because your 401(k)s, down the tubes. Everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you have got to vote for me.


COLLINS: With reelection on his mind, Trump now finds himself defending the very policies that are rattling investors.

TRUMP: And we're imposing beautiful, well-placed tariffs.

COLLINS: Even admitting that his trade war with China may not end quickly.

TRUMP: I never said China was going to be easy.

COLLINS: Something he did actually say just last year when the president noted that trade wars are easy.

Amid the long-running trade war between Washington and Beijing, the Trump administration is moving ahead tonight with an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a move virtually guaranteed to anger the Chinese at a time when officials are trying to get trade talks back on track.

Earlier today, the president met with his national security team in his New Jersey golf resort for a briefing on the state of U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations, talks that could end America's longest running war. The U.S. still has roughly 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and Trump has been adamant that he wants them out soon.

In the meanwhile, CNN has learned the president was forced to make an awkward phone call from Air Force One after he mocked the weight of a person he thought was a protester at his rally.

TRUMP: That guy's got a serious weight problem. Go home. Start exercising. Now he goes home and his mom says, "What the hell have you just done?"

But it was Trump who was left wondering what he had done after it was revealed the man he mocked was actually one of his supporters. A White House official telling CNN Trump did not apologize, but left the man a voice-mail thanking him for his support.

That supporter, Frank Dawson, said there are no hard feelings over the mixup.

FRANK DAWSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Everything is good. I love the guy. He's the best thing that ever happened to this country.



COLLINS: Now, Wolf, the president has been maintaining publicly that the U.S. economy is doing just fine.

But, behind the scenes, our reporting shows that the president is turning to people he doesn't always listen to, people like his hard- line trade adviser Peter Navarro, who is assuring him that there will be an economic rebound to come and it will be worth the trade war happening with China right now.

But the president is asking people outside the administration what they think. Our reporting shows that the president got on a call today with the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and the CEOs of three banks asking them what they thought about the state of the economy.

And, Wolf, one source told us that the bank CEOs did tell the president there are these negative effects, side effects, of his trade war and it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: We will see what the president does. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's get to Corey Lewandowski first and then we will get to some of the other issues.

Lewandowski says your committee, the Judiciary Committee, didn't even need to subpoena him. He says he's happy to come testify in open session and to fight back, his words, fight back and to say there was no collusion, no obstruction. What's your reaction to all of this?

RICHMOND: Well, the truth of the matter is I think that talk is cheap. If he's willing to do that, come, take a seat at the table, raise your hand, take an oath to tell the truth, and don't try to exert any privilege.

Testify openly and honestly about everything that happened while you were on the campaign trail and your actions involving the Mueller investigation and any messages that you were a go-between between President Trump and other officials, as the president tried to obstruct justice.

So it's one thing to say, I look forward to coming, but you know and I know that he's trying to run for the U.S. Senate, and he will do, just as everybody else has done either behind closed doors or in public, exert some form of executive privilege even when it has no basis.

And in Corey Lewandowski's case, it would have no basis for him to exert any sort of privilege. But I would be willing to bet that he will come, he will exert privilege, answer the questions he wants to answer and not answer those hard questions about what the president did, when and how. BLITZER: Yes, and some of your Democratic colleagues already fear

this could turn out to be a circus. But we shall see.

As you know, the Mueller report outlines how President Trump directed Lewandowski to tell then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of the special counsel's investigation. How important is it to hear his own description of these incidents of what are widely seen as possible obstruction?

RICHMOND: Well, look, we outlined in the questioning with Mueller how each element of obstruction of justice was taking place.

And Mr. Lewandowski's actions are one of those instances. The president wanted to limit investigation into himself for his benefit to keep things from coming out to the public.

And so it would be very important for Lewandowski to answer those questions. Did it happen? Did the president direct you to do it? Because there's ample evidence that the president did.

So I'm really wondering whether Corey Lewandowski is that in love with the president or the prospect of running for the Senate that he would come before Congress and lie.

And so I don't put it past him or anybody else in this administration. But I welcome him to come. But please don't come and talk all of this macho stuff on TV, and, as soon as you get to the table, exert privilege, when there are questions that you can't answer, don't want to answer or would implicate the president in clear obstruction of justice.

BLITZER: Congressman, your Judiciary Committee, as you know, is coming back a week early, in early September, from recess to vote on new gun control measures.

Then what? How do you plan to try and convince, for example, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to even consider these bills, assuming they pass in the House?

RICHMOND: Look, we're going to need the help of the American people.

And I believe that the will of the American people can overpower obstruction in the Senate by the Senate majority leader in terms of bringing bills to the floor for a vote.

Assault weapons ban, the high-capacity magazines that hold the ammunition in these assault weapons and semiautomatic weapons, the overwhelming public wants to see that happen.

Think about it. We live in a country where we have cities right now that are banning plastic straws, but we can't ban assault weapons? I mean, that just doesn't make sense to me.

And, look, I think banning plastic straws will save the environment. I also believe that banning assault weapons will save the lives of many people, children, mothers, sons, fathers. And the list goes on. And we have seen that time and time again.


And my grandmother always told me, where there's a will, there's a way. And we need the American people to join with us, especially all of these senators, including Mitch McConnell, who's up for reelection, and let him know that this is our will, and if you stand in the way of it, we will get it done with you or without you.

BLITZER: We heard some Democratic presidential candidates, Congressman, push for either voluntary or even mandatory buyback programs for assault-style weapons. Would you support that?

RICHMOND: Look, that's something I would not rule out.

These are weapons of mass destruction. We know where they are. They're in our communities. And we need to figure out a way to get those weapons off the streets. So if it is a buyback, then I'm all for it. If it's a mandatory buyback, I think that you may run into some complications.

But the thought of it does not offend me and it sounds like something I could support. But I will say that we have banned assault weapons in the history of this country, and we should go back to that time. And so we beat the NRA once, and we ought to do it again.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib's decision not to visit Israel and the West Bank. She rejected the conditions Israel placed on her trip, saying they won't let her desire to see her elderly grandmother to be used as what she calls a political bargaining chip.

What do you make of all of this?

RICHMOND: Well, I would say good for her for standing up for her principles.

And the problem is, Wolf -- and, you know, I hate to come on your show and just criticize the media a little bit, but we run down every rabbit hole that this president creates. And what he did was outlandish. It was wrong. It -- for him to tell another country not to let members of Congress in that country, when we send that country billions of dollars of aid, she has a congressional responsibility to go see how the money is spent and to go to Israel, who has been a very strong ally.

However, all of his actions come when something bad has happened. The stock market is tanking. People are worried about the 401(k). He can't defend his trade war. He can't talk rationally or intelligently about his plan to end the trade war, improve the stock market.

So what does he do? He changes the subject by another outlandish act. I think that I support her and her decision. I just wish that Israel would stand up, show some independence and welcome them in with no conditions attached.

BLITZER: You're certainly not alone in making that point.

Congressman Cedric Richmond, thanks so much for joining us.

RICHMOND: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we have got some breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

A critical U.S. computer system is now down, and it's affecting thousands of Americans and other travelers trying to enter the United States. We're digging in on this. We will have details.

Stand by.



BLITZER: We have breaking news on a major problem for thousands of Americans and other travelers trying to enter the United States.

The computer system for Customs and Border Protection has crashed at some major airports.

Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

What are you learning, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you it's a nightmare situation for these international travelers at various airports throughout the country.

Again, this Customs and Border Protection computer network, it is out at several airports. It's affecting arriving international customers. So they are unable to process them using these computers. They now have to do this manually.

So important to note, operations have not ceased, but it is literally moving at a snail's pace at a time where traffic and volume is very high. Obviously, we're in the midst of summer travel. You're looking at video there. That is from Dulles Airport. And you can see how long the line is there. No telling how long those people will be waiting.

And then there's this other layer of this problem, which is missed connections. So I know that a lot of airlines are working to rebook these passengers, but the big question tonight is, what caused this outage? We know this has happened to the agency before.

They have experienced outages with their computer systems, and they have caused this sort of delay before. It happened in 2017. It happened in 2018. We know in 2017 it was a software glitch. Is that the same sort of situation that we're looking at here? We simply don't know.

CBP saying that they are currently investigating the cause, but one thing is certain. If you are one of those international travelers, this is no fun. You're going to be waiting there for quite some time because, again, they are forced to do this all manually.

BLITZER: Those lines in Washington and Dulles incredible right now.


BLITZER: Rene, stay on top of this. We will get back to you, very disturbing development.

Also tonight, a new twist in President Trump's efforts to punish two Democratic congresswomen. Israel has backed off its refusal to let one of the lawmakers into the country, citing humanitarian reasons.

But Representative Rashida Tlaib is refusing to accept Israel's terms.

And joining us now, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker. He's a member of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to get through a bunch of issues, but let me get your reaction.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib now says she won't be visiting Israel and the West Bank after Israel placed restrictions on her trip.


She says -- quote -- "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart."

What do you make of this?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that she should make the decision that she believes is personally right for her.

But I think the outrage here is the president United States, the language he uses to talk about two sitting congresspeople, the lies that he tells that are so venal, that they literally put their lives in jeopardy by whipping up the kind of hatred.

And then for him to reach out for the Israeli government, have them change and capitulate to a president that pushes this kind of hate, is just wrong as well. So, this is an unfortunate situation and, again, just is another testimony to the moral vandalism of this president.

BLITZER: Like so many other members of Congress, the House and Senate, you called on the Israeli government to reverse its position and allow these two congresswomen to come in.

But why do you think Prime Minister Netanyahu reversed Israel's original decision and apparently gave into pressure from President Trump?

BOOKER: I mean, that's something that he will have to answer to himself.

What I know is that President Trump asked, and he complied. And I think that was a capitulation of the values that I know the Israeli people speak to. It's a violation of the values that we speak to, that here are two great nations, where we have a deep, deep relationship.

And to deny two sitting congresspeople elected by their constituents and their communities entrance into the country is to me unacceptable. And on top of that, the way that President Trump is continuing to describe these women are patent lies, and they're dangerous lies, because they appeal towards hatred, they appeal to the kind of violent sentiments that we see, unfortunately, too often in our country now, where white supremacists are using the words of this president to attack a vulnerable population.

BLITZER: So that gets me to the new plan you have unveiled to combat hate crimes and white supremacy.

Your plan would require the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI to focus more on this threat.

When you look at the Trump administration's approach to this issue. What are your biggest concerns?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, we're not talking in any way about a proportionate response to the problem.

International terrorism seems to have motivated the spending of billions of dollars. And it seems to have motivated a tremendous amount of bipartisan cooperation on this issue.

But now we are, since 9/11, the majority of our terrorist attacks have been right-wing extremist groups, and the majority of them have been white supremacist actors. This is a major threat to national security. And this is the administration that even changed the categorization. It's no longer violent white supremacy.

They now have an amorphous category of racially violent extremism. And so this is an administration that won't even focus on the issue, won't even talk to its proportionate challenge to our nation's safety and security and is not allocating the resources that they should.

If I am president of the United States, I'm going to make sure, as we have with other major threats, that we create a White House office on hate crimes and white supremacist violence to make sure that we are prioritizing what has now become a challenge and a threat to thousands and thousands of lives in our nation.

This kind of violence is on the rise. And we need to have a president that will focus on it with strategies to actually solve this crisis in our country.

BLITZER: Senator, on the issue of gun control, another 2020 contender, Beto O'Rourke, just proposed the national gun registry and gun licensing system, a mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles. You say your plan, though, on gun control, in your words, is the most

far-reaching plan of any other candidate. Can you still say that?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I'm really happy that there are presidential candidates who criticized my plan and now are turning to embrace it.

The idea of gun licensing is something that I have talked about from the very beginning as a commonsense strategy, one that has in states like Connecticut, where you need a license to drive a car, Connecticut said, hey, you should have a license to buy and own a firearm. It's common sense.

And they saw violence in their state drop 40 percent, 15 percent less suicides.

When I first came out with that part of my plan, I took criticism from folks that are now moving to support and embrace my plan. This isn't about politics. This is about truly what is a threat to our nation.

In the last 50 years, more people have died to gun violence than who died in all of our wars from the Revolutionary War to present combined. We have a government that was forming this nation, one of the fundamental reasons for the common defense.

And this government now is failing to defend our country, and is so capitulating to fear that we're literally now sending kids back to school and telling them, we can't protect you, so we're going to teach you how to shelter in place and how to hide.


That's unacceptable. We need bold vision and plans to do common sense things that are evidence-based like my plan that will reduce gun violence in our country and deal with this epidemic.

BLITZER: You addressed this crowd over at the Black Church PAC event, where you are right now.

In the new Fox poll, by the way, you're polling at around 6 percent among black voters. Joe Biden is at 37 percent among black voters. What's your plan to win over their support?

BOOKER: Well, Wolf, you and I had been around long enough to know that polls this far out have never been actually predicted in our party since Carter about who's going to become president. And even in the African-American community, you know, even Barack Obama at this far out was polling behind Secretary, then Senator Clinton in the African-American communities.

Polls are not, at this point, what's important. What's important is what you're doing on the ground. And everybody from the Des Moines register, even in The New York Times of recent have taken note that we are building the best organizations in the early primary states. In Iowa, we lead all of the top five candidates combined in endorsements from state legislators and activists. We are building an organization to win.

And I'm confident in our pathway and there's more people, record numbers, now are going to to be a part of this movement. I'm very excited that we are going to continue with our message of healing, bringing people together to beat Donald Trump, but that's not enough. That's the floor. But to get us to the ceiling of actually addressing the injustices and expanding the opportunity of America.

BLITZER: And I know you've qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate next month in Houston. Senator Booker, thanks so much for joining us.

BOOKER: No, Wolf. Thank you, again, for having me on.

BLITZER: Now, there is more breaking news just ahead. Corey Lewandowski sounds reeling to testify in open session before the House Impeachment Probe. What might he reveal?



BLITZER: We have breaking news this hour. As the House Judiciary Committee wraps up its impeachment investigation, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sounding as if he is willing to comply with a new subpoena and testify in open session before the committee.

Let's bring in our analysts. And, Manu, you've been doing some reporting on this. Is he serious about coming in answering all the questions under oath in open session?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's serious about coming in. Answering all the questions, that's a separate matter altogether. Look, he's come in before. He came before the House Intelligence Committee last year behind closed doors. Democrats have a lot of questions they want to ask about what happened, what he knew about what happened during the -- he didn't serve in the White House. He had lots of conversations with the president, the Comey File. He would not talk about anything past the campaign season.

And I'm told it got very tense. He swore at multiple Democratic lawmakers multiple times. We'll see if he does that publicly. Because now, their questions are going to be what was in the Mueller report, what he can reveal now, will the White House start to intervene to prevent him from answering questions about what he talked to the president about. Those are major questions going forward. But I think that we'll kind of expect a very lively and contentious affair assuming he does show.

BLITZER: Yes. Rachael, what are you hearing?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, Democrats are hoping they come in. There are 125 Democrats in the House that now support impeachment. But, obviously, the public sentiment is not there. Most Americans do not want to oust the president.

And so Democrats want to have the high profile hearings, this sort of made for T.V. moments that will change public sentiment, or so they're hoping, after Robert Mueller wasn't able to do that, this kind of a bomb hearing, a lot of them said, even privately.

But, you know, having Corey in, I'm skeptical it's going to happen because, even if he comes in and says no obstruction, no collusion, they're going to ask him about what he told Robert Mueller. And he told Robert Mueller one of those ten instances of potential obstruction of justice.

And even just by re-litigating that, even if he's like, oh, there was nothing wrong with this, he wasn't asking me to do anything illegal, you know, just by confirming those details in the Mueller report, he's doing exactly what Democrats want him to do.

And I don't think Trump wants him up here at all. So we'll see if he does.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a great question.

The Judiciary Committee is pretty busy right now. They're coming back into session a week earlier than scheduled in early September, a week before the recess is supposed to be able to deal with gun control measures. But they can deal with it all they want, the Democratic majority. And it's the Republicans, especially in the Senate, they're going to determine the final outcome.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: That's right. I mean, they have done some work over in the House, the Democrats there, in terms of universal background checks. That's a bill that hasn't been bumped up on the Senate. You've heard the president talk about background checks in kind of an odd way. He'll talk about meaningful background checks. He'll talk about important background checks. He was asked about universal background checks, but it's a question that he doesn't really want to answer because he's clearly not on the same page with Democrats on this.

I think we know where Republicans stand on this even as you hear the president say, oh, Mitch McConnell seems to be for background checks. They're not for background checks. If anything, there's this red flag law or red flag proposal that's been brought up by Lindsey Graham in Blumenthal, which would essentially incentivize states to pass red flag laws. Red flag laws would mean a judge can confiscate a weapon from somebody who's deemed to be unfit to have it. They already exist in 17 states.

Democrats essentially say, listen, even if you have these sort of incentivizing red flag laws without universal background checks, they're kind of toothless.


So I think we're sort of status quo in terms of where this has been in the past. After Parkland, Donald Trump sounded very strong. There was a lot of obviously public outcry, Democrats and gun control groups asking lawmakers to do something. But I think we'll probably be in a stalemate, in the way we have been before.

BLITZER: At the same time, we have, Phil, as you know, lawmakers. They are also thinking about how to make domestic terrorism an actual punishable crime. It's so far hard to believe it isn't, but there are challenges.

PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. Let's go through this path. People in America would say today if there were ISIS demonstrating on the streets of America today, we should arrest them. That should never happen. ISIS is a group that has murdered people for political purposes.

Go back to Charlottesville. If you were to say a white supremacist group involved in acts of violence can't demonstrate on the street across America, people would say, that's a free speech issue. They have a right to speak.

Let me give you one question. Who do you want to investigate and why? I think the challenge the American citizens are going to have is they're going to say, this is great. We should be looking at white supremacists. And then somebody says, well, how about the group in your town in an individual town says, well, that person has a right to speak and they also have the right to say they hate somebody. Who do you want to investigate? I think the Congress and others are going to have a problem with that.

RAJU: Yes. They are already divided over this topic. There're talks right now about moving in separate legislation dealing with this. There's nowhere near a consensus on that. There's nowhere near a consensus on what to do about background checks.

One senator, Rick Scott, I talked to this afternoon, he, of course, is a senator from Florida, he was governor during Parkland. I asked him, would you get behind any background checks bill, would you get behind the Manchin/Toomey background checks bill, which is mirror (ph) them or pass the House. He said I will look at everything. We are not committed to getting behind it.

So the calculus may not have changed by these mass shootings.

BLITZER: As we're speaking, Rachael, the president is Tweeting on Rashida Tlaib and her decision not to go see her elderly grandmother in the West Bank. This is what the president has just Tweeted.

Israel was very respectful and nice Representative Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her grandmother. And soon as she was granted permission, she grants that (ph) and loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately.

And then a couple of minutes later, he Tweeted this. Representative Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, where upon obnoxiously turned the approval, a complete set up. The only real winner here is Tlaib's grandmother. She doesn't have to see her now.

BADE: Yes. The reason Tlaib didn't go is because the Israeli government was making her sign a letter, a promise that she would not say certain things and she would not go to certain places. These are restrictions that have never before been put on a member of Congress who has visited the country of Israel.

And that protest, using her grandmother, is sort of a way to just sort of get her to do that as a critic of Israel, she just couldn't stand for for her office.

Look, I'm talking to a lot of Democrats about this right now. A lot Democrats spent the past few weeks, past few months actually trying to put distance themselves, Rashida Tlaib and Omar and their criticism of Israel and trying to reassert the party's friendship with Israel and say, look, we are supporters of Israel, we have been there.

And now, they're in this weird position where they're having to sort of embrace these two women that they don't necessarily agree with on Israel policy and criticize a country that they have long been friends with. And so watching them sort of balance that has been really interesting.

But a lot of them have been saying that Trump, if he really cared about the U.S. relationship with Israel, he wouldn't be making this a partisan thing.

BLITZER: Because you do hear a lot of Israel's best friends in Washington criticizing the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu, something you don't often hear.

HENDERSON: I mean, AIPAC out, obviously no ally of Tlaib and some of the statements she's made and her stance on Israel basically came out and saying, Israel was wrong in this, Marco Rubio also, somebody who is critical of Israel's decision.

I think in many ways, the sort of well was poisoned when they said no to Rashida Tlaib after they had said she would be able to get into the country along with Omar, the president there leaning on his ally and friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu, of course, who is up for re- election in about a month.

In some ways, he's sort of running with Donald Trump on the ticket, right? I mean, this is somebody who he's sort of selling on his friendship to voters in Israel as a positive. So have the prime minister there essentially siding with the president and his political fights.

BLITZER: Phil, what do you think?

MUDD: You have got to be kidding me. It's more difficult for a U.S. congressman to be visit an ally than it is for me, a U.S. citizen? You've got to be kidding me.

The other thing I'd say is the president just put Netanyahu, and I know Netanyahu is brilliant but he didn't figure this out fast enough, in an impossible position. Since the beginning of the establishment of the State of Israel, America has said, we're with you, Israelis.


And now, it's if you're a Democrat, maybe you have suspicions about Israel. If you're a Republican, you support them.

The president is making Israel a partisan issue. That is horrible for the state of Israel.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right. Everybody, stand by. There's more news we're following.

President Trump's apparent dream of making an epic real estate deal on behalf of the United States is being met with eye-rolling and outright laughs, even if he's serious about potentially Greenland. The owner of the world's largest island is making it abundantly clear it is not for sale.

CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us right now.

Tom, the idea of the United States buying Greenland is getting a lot of reaction.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it has ruled across Atlantic like a political tidal wave, and it's being met with howling outrage.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Completely insane. He's gone crazy. No, thank you.

The uproar in Greenland over the whole idea that President Trump thinks maybe the United States should buy the world's largest island has been swift and strong.

I can only laugh. He's lost his marbles.

The White House is not saying if this is a serious proposal and "The Wall Street Journal" which broke the story says, well.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's definitely real in a sense that he's talked about it a lot. And it's something that's definitely on his mind. As far as how real? I mean, it's not just how real. It's, can he actually do it? The answer is probably no.

FOREMAN: No, because despite Trump's boast about his business skills --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody read "The Art of the Deal" in this room? Yes.

FOREMAN: -- Greenland is home to Denmark, and home to 55,000 people, whose autonomous government has tweeted, Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stock, seafood, renewable energy, and is a new frontier for adventure tourism. We're open for business, not for sale.

But why does Greenland, which is 80 percent covered with ice matter anyway? That's a clue. Greenland is gateway to the Arctic, and as global warning opens the region to more exploration and traffic, a lot of countries are showing interest, including China and Russia. The U.S. already has its biggest northernmost military base there.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), FORMER SATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN : It's located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which remains a critical area of the globe in terms of our ability to forge and defend against particularly Russian threats.

FOREMAN: And history suggest this truly may not be a crazy idea. In 1867, the U.S. bought another huge cold place which was mocked as a folly. But Alaska has worked out pretty well for American interests. And two times before, U.S. officials have raised the notion of buying Greenland. Still, the outlook for this real estate deal is not promising.

It's into the something you'd buy or sell. If countries want other territories, it's war.


FOREMAN: Close White House openers don't think this is going to go anywhere. But next month, the president is going to travel to Denmark to meet with the prime minister and the premier of Greenland. We just don't know, Wolf, if he'll take his checkbook.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman reporting for us, thank you very much.

We're also right now getting new information about disturbing advances in Iran's missile program and it's adding to concerns that some of America's most dangerous enemies and fiercest rivals feel embolden since President Trump took office.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What are you learning, Barbara?


Some of America's most dangerous adversaries are making critical military advances as Donald Trump is in the White House.


STARR (voice-over): Tonight, new classified imagery shows Iran is preparing to launch a rocket as soon as next week that the Iranians claim could put a peaceful satellite into orbit, according to U.S. officials. But it's the program with the same technology needed for an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type that someday could strike the U.S.

Commercial images of this launch site obtained by CNN show launch- related vehicles are already on site. TRUMP: Iran, trouble, nothing but trouble.

STARR: Several U.S. defense and intelligence officials say Iran is improving range and accuracy of all of its missiles.

And so is North Korea. Kim Jong-un has conducted six short range missile launches since May. Several showing increased range.

America's adversaries see a president now conciliatory at random times.

TRUMP: Our allies take advantage of us far better than our enemies.

STARR: However, America's military adversaries are on the rise and bolder.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They believe that they can go ahead and produce weapons systems and test weapons with impunity.

STARR: President Trump complements Kim.

TRUMP: I got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.

[18:50:02] STARR: But U.S. intelligence experts tell CNN that Pyongyang continues improving all of its missiles and is trying to make new nuclear fuel supplies.

Vladimir Putin is working on new weapons to keep the U.S. out of Europe, including a nuclear-powered missile that apparently recently exploded, releasing radioactive material.

China has massive cyber espionage efforts to steal American military technology.

LEIGHTON: The reason we see all of these things happening and all these different countries is because all of these rivals of the United States see no real pushback from the Trump administration.

STARR: The incoming chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's personal military adviser, has a dire warning.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, INCOMING JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: China went to school on us. They watched us very closely in the First Gulf War, Second Gulf War. They watched our capabilities. They want the capability to defeat us by mid-century.


STARR: So, when it comes to Iran and North Korea, how are they accomplishing all of this? Experts tell us they are very active in sanctions busting and they also are active on the weapons black market -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much. Much more news right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:55:59] BLITZER: Exactly 50 years ago, nearly half a million people crowded onto a farm in Upstate New York to celebrate sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Woodstock was the mother of all music festivals, and CNN has a new special report on its legacy. Bill Weir spoke with legends who perform that wild weekend, including David Crosby.


DAVID CROSBY, MUSICIAN: There was a cooperative spirit. There was a generosity to each other.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And how do you account for that? Was this just this cosmic energy flow (ph)?

CROSBY: If I knew, I'd bottle it and sell it.

WEIR: Yes.

CROSBY: I'd give it away for free. I'll generate all of it there was and spread it around, rub it in my hair at night.


WEIR (voice-over): But if the Woodstock documentary is any indication, the one guy who should know the secret recipe --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike, what's the worst part of running one of these things?

WEIR: -- is Michael Lang.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worst part about running one of them?

LANG: I don't know. I don't know.

WEIR: Through biblical storms and bad acid trips.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids are hungry, you got to feed them.

WEIR: Not enough food and angry band managers. He was the impossibly young promoter holding it all together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you going from here? Another one.

LANG: If it works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, folks, we'll try to get this under way.

WEIR: Fifty years later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. Hey, hold on.

WEIR: He is determined to repeat his magic.


BLITZER: Bill is joining us now.

The plan for, what, a 2019 Woodstock concert didn't exactly pan out. What happened?

WEIR: Yes, you know, it was amazing sort of mirror image to what happened in '69 -- lawsuits and lost permits and disaster after disasters. The difference is there were $30 million on the line this time around for the likes of Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus, and in the end, couldn't find a home. There was no Max B. Yasgur left to miraculously give them a farm with a month to go to throw it together.

And it's just one sort of little grace note to how we followed this. We went in search of what was the spirit? What was about it that we celebrate? Why is the Woodstock that gets the golden anniversary?

And to a person who was there, it's less about the music and it's more about the human connection and how people took care of each other in what should have been a humanitarian disaster.

BLITZER: Fifty years after Woodstock, Bill, what was its impact?

WEIR: You know, it depends on who you ask, right? Some say, well, those hippies all went and took showers and voted for Reagan and started new wars. Others say no they planted seeds of Barack Obama and the #MeToo movement, the Green New Deal, Black Lives Matter, social justice movements as well. That's the beauty of this.

It was one event but 450,000 different stories as to how people interpret what went down there. But I found the one moving me the most is the couple embracing in a blanket, a muddy blanket on the cover of the triple album. They are still together lovers. They've been married 48 years. They found something at Woodstock I think we can all try to shoot for.

BLITZER: Well, good for them.

Do the music festivals today still have the power to be as culturally momentous as Woodstock?

WEIR: Well, it's now new part of a $32 billion live music industrial complex. And I've been to Bonnaroo for years. You got Lollapalooza and Coachella and all of these.

And I just think, with so many artists and so many different stages with so many messages, it's hard to capture that -- you know, the way Country Joe sang an anti-Vietnam song back then. The audience today, they're less worried about getting drafted, they're more worried about getting shot at home. So, you know, artists like Childish Gambino, rap about that in certain places. I've asked the kids if they think a song could still change the world

for the better, they think so. But the grandparents thought the same thing 50 years ago.

BLITZER: Well, we're looking forward to watching your special report, "Woodstock at 50". It airs tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Good work, Bill. Thanks for doing this.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.