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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Again Invokes Obama as House Democrats Investigate Trump; O'Rourke And Buttigieg Clash Over Fate of Action on Guns; Prosecutors Subpoena 8 Years of Trump Tax Returns; Call for More Cops In Minneapolis After Rise of Robberies; Trump Speaks on Attacks on Saudi Oil Facilities; Trump Doesn't Want War with Iran But More Prepared Than Ever; Trump Says Looks Like Iran Behind Strikes on Saudi Oil Fields. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't treat the United States of American the way they treated us under President Obama. China has been ripping us off for many years. President Clinton, President Bush and President Obama and others, should have done this long before me.

The fact is, President Putin totally outsmarted President Obama on Crimea and other things. Including the red line in the sand. All right. He outsmarted. He made a living on outsmarting President Obama.

President Obama built the cells. He built the cages that you people always talk about and attribute them to me. So President Obama had separation. I'm the one that brought them together. President Obama had zero interest rates. I don't have zero interest. I have real interest rates. And despite that I have a strong economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Why can't he quit him?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's an obsession, I think, as we were saying, he's jealous, right. And for a lot of reasons. I think one of it is that Obama was popular, at least during part of his presidency. Trump has never even broke 50 percent in popularity. It looks like he's heading towards a very tough re- election, if he can make it. Obama was re-elected.

People still genuinely like Obama, both he and Michelle, they genuinely like them. And that shows up in the polling and he looks at that, this guy who he hates, and people like him, and he's thinking, why don't they like me.

BALDWIN: It bothers him deeply.

BLOW: And there it is. BALDWIN: Switching gears to this raging debate over gun control, gun

legislation, you know, recently you had Beto O'Rourke, of course, we know what happened in his hometown of El Paso, 22 people were killed. He took up on the debate stage last week and he's now being criticized by Democrats for standing up there and saying, hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. So now Pete Buttigieg has responded to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Did Beto O'Rourke say something playing into the hands of the Republicans?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. Look, right now, we have and amazing moment on our hands, we have agreement among the American people, and even this President and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms. We know that we have a moment on our hands, let's make the most of it and get these things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, then Beto O'Rourke responded tweeting this, quote, leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, that calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let's have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it. Is O'Rourke being courageous or is he being reckless?

BLOW: No, I'm on the courageous side of that statement.

BALDWIN: Why?

BLOW: Because, I'm tired of people lying, I'm tired of liberals lying about guns, right. We know what is required to put a dent in this. And saying less than that, always kind of covering your bases and saying, oh no, I don't really want to do that, yes, you do. Yes, you do. If they say -- the NRA is going to say it's a slippery slope, it is. We're trying to grease the slope. Let's start somewhere, pass something and demonstrate to the American people that we can pass gun legislation, it doesn't mean the end of the Second Amendment. But we have to start --

BALDWIN: You're saying, OK yes, I want to take your guns away. How are you going to get any kind of bipartisan compromise with that?

BLOW: I think you have to separate the political calculus from the moral positioning. Beto is absolutely right. There is no reason, and we all know this, there is no reason that these weapons of war should be on the streets. None whatsoever. There's no reason that bullets that shred when they hit your body and tear everything up on the inside should be sold to the general public. We all know that, right.

And if there's 300 million guns in America, and that -- the NRA and the gun advocates are right, only a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of those guns are ever used for any kind of criminal purpose. But the only way to get that -- those numbers down of killings and shootings is that we reduce the overall number of guns. There is no other way. So you have to get that down. Beto is right.

BALDWIN: Beto is right and Beto is courageous so says Charles Blow. Thank you so much for coming on, always a pleasure, sir. Appreciate it.

Got more on our breaking news. CNN has now confirmed that prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed eight years of the president's personal and corporate tax returns. Stand by for that.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news. CNN has now confirmed that prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed the president's accounting firm for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. This was first reported by "The New York Times". Keep in mind this is all coming days after CNN reported that prosecutors spoke with the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, in prison. Kara Scannell is with me now. What exactly are prosecutors looking for?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: The Manhattan District Attorney's office led by Cy Vance is running this investigation and they're looking into the hush money payments that the president had made to silence the allegation of affairs during the election. And that's what Michael Cohen had pled guilty to. So what the DA's office is looking here is whether any state laws had been violated.

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And that would be, you know, if they had filed a false business statement, something relating to those payments and how they reimbursed Michael Cohen who had paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. So her story wouldn't come public.

So now as part of this investigation we've reported last week that these prosecutors went to Otisville Prison and interviewed Michael Cohen. Now they want to see the president's tax returns. And so part of this is following the money trying to understand the actual source of these payments. The Trump Organization, according to a different indictment in the federal case involving Michael Cohen, which are different prosecutors, but in that case the prosecutors there said that the Trump Organization treated this as a legal expense, which they thought was improper.

So now you have the state prosecutors looking to say, hey wait, was this improper and if it was false in their records, could that violate state law.

BALDWIN: All right. So the obvious next step, they talked to Michael Cohen in prison and now they want these tax returns. What options does the accounting firm have in responding to the subpoena? SCANNELL: Unlike the bigger, broader fight going on to get access to

the president's business records between the House, Democrats and the president, this is a grand jury subpoena. So it is a more official proceeding, it's also a secret proceeding. So if Mazars does comply with this, then these records would not automatically become public. But the question here is, is Mazars or is the Trump Organization going to move to quash the subpoena to block compliance with it? That would end up in a state court and would be something that would have to be litigated.

BALDWIN: Which fits the pattern of what we've seen in the past.

SCANNELL: Exactly. It fits that pattern. But you know the questions with the Democrats has to do with the separation of powers principle and authority of Congress. You know, this is almost a traditional run of the mill court proceeding, it's something that you know investigators have a right to obtain many records.

And because they keep it under this perimeter of secrecy, that this would become public and I think the big issue with the hill is that the president thinks that this going to all leak out to the public. I mean this more of a traditional investigation, there are certain rules governing investigations. And so if they do try to fight it, that would become very interesting of whether they are successful there -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Got it. Kara, thank you very much for that. Next here a disturbing story out of Minneapolis where police have beefed up security downtown after a series of violent attacks. Attacks committed in broad daylight where they were caught on tape.

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BALDWIN: Just a warning, you're about to see some really disturbing video. It shows these robberies happening in broad daylight that investigators are describing as vicious. And the rise in these crimes is really exposing this problem of police recruitment in the city of Minneapolis.

So I'll quote one of the descriptions from an incident from a court document as you can see what the security video shows. Quote, the footage shows approximately 12 individuals viciously assaulting and attempting to take a cell phone from the victim. The assailants rip the victim's shoes and pants off and go through victim's pockets. At one point, victim is thrown to the ground, left motionless then repeatedly jumped on, hit with planting pots and then ridden over with a bicycle.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is with me now with the details, and I mean this is absolutely awful. Has anyone been arrested?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Brooke. Scary images to look at. And yes, actually, in the past four weeks or so, the Minneapolis Police had to form a task force of sorts and they arrested 16 people in connection with multiple robberies. Some with in just a few blocks of each other.

But I also want to warn as we show a little bit more of this police surveillance video that these images are disturbing. And yet another one of these instances, many of them occurring in the same precinct in downtown Minneapolis. These were attacks really that were really violent in nature where robberies were occurring over the course of them.

I mean look at the overall scale of what we have seen over the course of the year in Minneapolis, 240 robberies in that one downtown precinct alone. And that's significant because that is up 50 percent from what we saw last year, 23 over the course of one week alone last month. And that was part of what prompted the police to form that task force. And let's keep in mind this isn't happening in a vacuum. This is happening as we're hearing from the police, that they are having trouble recruiting and there are shortages in police officers on the streets.

BALDWIN: What's Minneapolis Police doing about it?

JIMENEZ: Well, they're doing a few things. At least trying to at this front. The police chief is working with the mayor to try and get at least 14 additional police officers as part of next year's budget. They have put it forward to the city council and that is something that the council is mulling over right now, though they didn't all --

BALDWIN: Hang on, Omar, let's listen to the president.

TRUMP: -- this country is a friend of ours, who we are always going to be with them. And I know they're always going to with us. We have a tremendous relationship militarily but we have also a tremendous economic relationship, trade, and we're going to be discussing all of those things. We'll certainly be discussing what took place over the last two days in Saudi Arabia.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA, BAHRAIN CROWN PRINCE: Absolutely.

TRUMP: And we'll be discussing the Middle East. But our relationship has never been stronger than it is right now and I think that is largely based on the relationship that we have. So I look forward to having our discussion.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Thank you, Mr. President, it's a great pleasure to be here.

TRUMP: Like to say something?

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SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Well, I would like to say, thank the president for receiving me and my delegation here today. I'm here to convey the greetings of his Majesty and the people of Bahrain to strengthen the relationship which is based on shared values where they overlap and ideals. We primarily as the president said are going to focus on discussions related to security enhancement and trade enhancement. We signed today an agreement to purchase additional -- or purchase our first Patriot missile battery system.

TRUMP: Right.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: And it couldn't have come at a better time.

TRUMP: Good Timing.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Absolutely. And we seek to strengthen America's ability to trade with the world and we have some concrete ideas on how we can do that.

TRUMP: Well, thank you very much.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: I look forward to the day and spending time with you. And thank you all very much. I'll be doing a news conference outside in a little while. Just part of the trip. We're going to New Mexico and to other places for two and a half days and many of you will be with us and I look forward to that. But in particular I look forward to our meeting.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you seen evidence, proof that Iran was behind the attack.

TRUMP: Well, it is looking that way. We'll have some pretty good -- we're having some very strong studies done but it is certainly looking that way at this moment, and we'll let you know as soon as we find out definitively, we'll let you know but it does look that way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you want war with Iran?

TRUMP: Do I want war? I don't want war with anybody. I am somebody that would like not to have war. We have the strongest military in the world. We've spent more than a trillion and a half dollars in the last short period of time on our military. Nobody has even come close. We have the best equipment in the world, we have the best missiles, and as you say, you just bought the Patriot system.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: We did.

TRUMP: And there is nothing even close. But no, I don't war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody. Two and a half years ago I will tell you it was not the same thing. And with what we've done, we've totally rebuilt our military in so many different ways but we've rebuilt it and there is nobody that has the F-35. We have the best fighter jets, the best rockets, the best missiles, the best equipment. But with all that being said, we would certainly like to avoid it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the options, Mr. President, what are the options of nonmilitary --

TRUMP: Well, we have a lot of options but I'm not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this and we're dealing with Saudi Arabia, we're dealing the Crown Prince and so many other of your neighbors and we're all talking about it together. We'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it the responsibility of Saudi Arabia to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [INAUDIBLE] New York and it was speculated that you might --

TRUMP: Say it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you still meet with President Rouhani in Iran if there is --

TRUMP: Well, I have no meeting scheduled. I know they want to meet. I know they're not doing well as a country. Iran has got a lot of problems right now that two and a half years ago and even a little bit more than that when I came in, it is hard to believe it is almost three years, but two and a half to three years ago they were causing a lot of trouble and we'll see what happens. But we'll let you know definitively. As you know there are ways to see definitively where they came from and we have all of those ways. And that is being checked out right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what are the chances of meeting with the Iranians without preconditions still --

TRUMP: You know, there were always conditions because the conditions, if you look at it, the sanctions are not going to be taken off. So if the sanctions, that is a condition. So that is why the press mis- reported it. The biggest thing you could talk about are the sanctions. And sanctions are massive. There has never been sanctions put on a country like that and I think they have a tremendous future but not the way they are behaving. We'll see what happens in terms of this attack.

Secretary Pompeo and others will be going over to Saudi Arabia at some point to discuss what they feel they're going to make a statement fairly soon. But they also know something that most people don't know as to where it came from, who did it, and we'll be able to find that out and figure that out very quickly. We pretty much already know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [INAUDIBLE].

TRUMP: Say it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the United States is prepared for war?

TRUMP: The United States is more prepared than any country in the history of -- in any history if we have to go that way. As to whether or not we go that way, we'll see. We have to find out definitively who did it. We have to speak to Saudi Arabia. They have to have a lot of -- they have to have a lot in the game also and you know they're willing to do that. I think everybody knows they're willing to do that. So we'll be meeting with Saudi Arabia. We'll be talking to Saudi Arabia. We'll be talking to UAE and many of the neighbors out there that we're very close friends with.

We're also talking to Europe. A lot of the countries that we're dealing with, whether it is France, Germany, et cetera, talking to a lot of different folks and we're figuring out what they think.

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But I will tell you that was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger, very easily by our country. But we're going to find out who definitively did it first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we clarify, Mr. President, so you said that you think that Iran is responsible for the attack. Do you think that --

TRUMP: I didn't say that. Why do you say that? I said that we think we know who it was. But I didn't say anybody. But certainly it would look to most like it was Iran but I did not say it the way you said. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it was launched from Iran [INAUDIBLE].

TRUMP: You're going to find out in great detail in the very near future. We have the exact locations of just about everything. You're going to find out at the right time but it is too early to tell you that now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to release the oil from the oil reserves to help cushion the oil prices that rising now?

TRUMP: Well, they haven't risen very much and we have the strategic oil reserves which are massive and we can release a little bit of that. And other countries including Bahrain but other countries can be a little bit more generous with the oil and bring it down. No, that is not a problem. It went up $5 and that is not a problem.

You have to remember we're now the largest producer of oil and gas in the world. So a lot of people in the old days, and this happened over the last very short period of time, we're number one in the world by far.

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: Yes, you are, sir.

TRUMP: By far. So I never want to be benefited that way. But the fact is there are those that say we benefit. I don't view that as a benefit. But we are certainly -- we take in more money than anybody else from energy. Not even close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President -- do you still think it is the responsibility of the Saudis to defend themselves?

TRUMP: Oh, I think it is certainly the responsibility of them to do a big -- a big deal of their defense, certainly. I also think it is the responsibility of the Saudis to -- if somebody like us, which are the ones, are going to help them, I know that monetarily we'll be very much involved in paying for that. This is something that's much different than other Presidents would mention, John, but the fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something. They'll be very much involved.

And that includes payment. And they understand that fully. But they're going to be -- look, they are very upset. They are very angry. They know pretty much what we know. They know pretty much where they came from. And we're looking for the final check points and I think you won't be surprised to see who did it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you discuss the Israeli- Palestinian peace plan [INAUDIBLE] since Bahrain --

TRUMP: We'll be discussing it, Yes. We'll be discussing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [INAUDIBLE] through before or after the Israeli election?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to see. I mean the election is on Tuesday. So --

SALMAN BIN HAMAD AL-KHALIFA: By tomorrow.

TRUMP: So you have an election tomorrow. So I would think it would be afterwards, OK. But you do have an election. Big election tomorrow in Israel. And that will be a very interesting outcome. It's going to be close. It's going to be a close election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman Kim invites you to North Korea. And that --

TRUMP: I don't want to comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

TRUMP: The relationship is very good but I don't want to comment on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to go there?

TRUMP: I just don't think it is appropriate for me to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to go to North Korea?

TRUMP: Probably not. I don't think it is ready. I don't think we're ready for that. I would do it sometime, at some time in the later future and depending on what happens, I'm sure he'll love coming to the United States also. But no, I don't think it is ready for that. I think we have a way to go yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you stand with the auto workers in the strike against GM? TRUMP: Well, I have great relationship with the auto workers and I tremendous numbers of votes from the auto workers. I don't want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country. As you know they built many plants in China and Mexico and I don't like that at all. My relationship has been very powerful with the auto workers. Not necessarily the top person or two, but the people that work doing automobiles.

Nobody has ever brought more companies into the United States -- you know I have Japan and German and many countries have been bringing car companies in and opening plants and expanding plants and big things are happening in Ohio including with Lordstown, a very positive things are happening. We have many plants that are either being renovated or expanded or built new right now in the United States. Many more than we've had for decades and decades so nobody has been better to the auto workers than me.

I'd like to see it work out but I don't want General Motors building plants in China and Mexico, this was before my watch and I don't think they'll be doing that. I don't think -- I had meetings with Mary Barra, the head of GM and I don't want them leaving our country, I don't want them building in China. I don't want to build them in other countries. I don't want these big massive auto plants built in other countries. And I don't think they'll be doing that anymore.

You know General Motors makes most of its money in the United States. And it's too bad they spent billions and billions of dollars outside of the United States before I got here. One of the things very important in the USMCA which we have to have approved not only for the union, for the auto workers but --

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