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Outrage over Trump Tweet; U.S.-South Korea Relations; Fight for Mosul; President Disparages Female Anchors Appearance; Xi Marks 20 Year Anniversary of Hong Kong Handover. Aired 12mn-1a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --

Donald Trump and the abusive tweet which may have gone too far uniting Democrats and Republicans after his Twitter attack on a female television host.

NEWTON: Plus a symbolic victory for Iraqi forces as their fight against ISIS in Mosul nears the final battle.

VAUSE: And Hong Kong flexes its muscle to China's visiting President holding its largest military parade since the handover.

NEWTON: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm Paula Newton.

VAUSE: Good to have you with us. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

The White House and Donald Trump, there's no shortage of issues demanding his attention from healthcare, North Korea, the travel ban, the G-20 summit. None of that seemed to take priority though on Thursday.

NEWTON: No, it did not. Instead he took to Twitter again to (inaudible) his image in the news media. Only this time, his words were shocking even for him.

Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just as President Trump is touting his administration's energy policy, he's fueling mounting bipartisan criticism that he lacks the temperament for the oval office. The latest evidence are a pair of offensive tweets aimed at MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. "I heard poorly rated 'Morning Joe' speaks badly of me. Don't watch anymore," the President tweeted. "Then how come low-IQ crazy Mika along with Psycho Joe came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year's Eve and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face lift. I said no." Brzezinski hit back at the President with a tweet mocking the size of the President's hands. Asked to respond, the White House said the President has no regrets.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire.

ACOSTA: Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the President's tweets as a justified response to attacks from the media.

SANDERS: kind of like we're living in the twilight zone. They do this day after day after day. And then the President responds and defends himself and everybody is appalled and blown away.

And I think that the President has been attacked mercilessly on personal account by numerous on that program. And I think he's been very clear that when he gets attacked, he's going to hit back.

ACOSTA: The President's behavior, Sanders argued, is not beneath the dignity of his office.

SANDERS: I think that he shows that everyday in the decisions that he's making. The focus and the priorities -- the only person that I see a war on is this President and everybody that works for him.

ACOSTA: Still a slew of top Republicans quickly criticized the President' tweets.

Senator Lindsey Graham -- Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.

And House Speaker Paul Ryan --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment.

ACOSTA: An NPR/PBS poll found just 21 percent of Americans found the President's Twitter use effective and informative, while 69 percent said it's reckless and distracting.

But the President's critics say this is also about his attitude toward women, to his questionable treatment of a female reporter from Ireland in the oval office just this week.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And where are you from? Go ahead tell me. Where are you from?

We have all of this beautiful Irish press -- where are you from?



TRUMP: Katrina Perring (ph). She has a nice smile on her face. I bet she treats me well. ACOSTA: When it comes to the White House message, the President was again his own worst enemy, stepping all over his administration's announcements of doing sanctions against a bank in China and those were aimed at pressuring North Korea as well as Mr. Trump's upcoming meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin next week.

For the President it seems there are rarely ever any apologies.

But no apology from the President -- Sarah?

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.

VAUSE: Joining us now CNN political commentators, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.

Ok. The outrage -- it's been on overdrive all day long. So let's have a little ball. Some Republicans --

NEWTON: Ireland -- yes.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It's unworthy of the office of President of the United States and I'm concerned about how we look in the eyes of the world.

LYNNE JENKINS (R), KANSAS: It's just not acceptable. We need to demand better of folks in positions like myself and the President.

PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This is maddening. It's maddeningly frustrating because this is beneath the dignity of the President of the United States, or at least it should be.


VAUSE: John -- there is very little which seems to shock in the age of Trump but somehow the President managed to get us there once again.

It just seems that he does not understand the responsibility that comes with the office of the presidency and that his actions and his words count for so much more than Donald Trump real estate agent.

[00:05:03] JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Trump's the kind of guy who grew up in New York tabloid -- you know, the smear campaigns of tabloids, you know. He understands that if somebody hits you, you hit back twice as hard.

I mean look, I'm not I'm not surprised by this at all. I'm surprised by the level of outrage about a tweet when he attacked Megyn Kelly of bleeding out her wherever -- right.

But Trump's pretty much have been consistent as a candidate. He's moved on a few issues but there's just -- I just don't see -- and here's the thing. It is not effective communication to drive his policy agenda.

Should he have tweeted it? No. But feeling sorry for the reporter? I honestly -- I never heard of this reporter. And now I have.

Jim Acosta's a household name. Why? Because of Donald Trump. So at the day, it's good for these people's careers.

NEWTON: Well --


NEWTON: You've left me speechless. Well done. Good job. Bravo.

But if we're going to go to the predictable response, let's go to Nancy Pelosi and let's just hear what she has to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That really saddens me because it is so beneath the dignity of the President of the United States to engage in such behavior. I just don't know why the Republicans, they can tolerate almost anything that a candidate beating up a reporter and then cheering them on as he arrives in Congress.

The tweets of the President of the United States, they set a low standard for public officials in terms of their demeanor.


NEWTON: Dave -- I'll ask you about this as well. But John -- just one minute back to you, what is it going to take. As a Republican, aren't you sitting there thinking this man is harmful? He is harmful for the Republican agenda that we want to move forward in the next three and a half years.

THOMAS: You know, I don't think that. Look, I think voters especially Republicans knew this was the candidate that they wanted to put in office and he's been consistent.

NEWTON: But they hoped he would change. Everybody thought he would change.

THOMAS: You know, I don't -- I think what they're looking for is movement on their issues. They need tax reform. They need lower health care premiums. He's working on all of -- they need more Supreme Court justices.

But look, it's hypocritical of Pelosi to say that. The chair of the California Democratic Party has the entire California Democratic delegation raising their middle finger in telling the President F himself.

VAUSE: Not the President -- Dave.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, he came off like a pompous misogynistic monster. And it begs the question how Melania Trump can sleep in the same bedroom with him at the White House every night. I mean the reality is at a time when you've got an extraordinarily

polarized country where you've got the women's movement the day after his inauguration, the women's march for example.

Women have worked so hard to have a level playing field and have real equality when it comes to our county. You have a president who continues to belittle women.

And I think what that underscores is really how he feels about women. You're right. He's got this infatuation with blood and with women that I think --


THOMAS: Here's the thing though. He's an equal opportunity offender. He picks on men and women on a nightly basis.

VAUSE: Let's go forward because you mentioned Melania Trump and this stuff was meant to have, you know, stopped when Melania moved into the White House a couple of weeks ago. Clearly that hasn't happened.

And especially, you know, remember Melania Trump pet cause, cyber- bullying?


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough. We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other.


NEWTON: Dave -- the words are to respect each other. I mean at this point -- she put out a statement today clearly supporting him which bewildered some but perhaps, you know, to some it will seem well, his wife stands by him. They were just striking.

VAUSE: Let's have a look at that statement very quickly from a spokesperson. It reads, "As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder."

JACOBSON: Look, I mean it's no secret she's going to stand by her husband. That's just the cold hard reality. But I think it begs the question of why he continues to do this.

And frankly, John, I have to applaud the Republican leadership in the House for being so responsive in the rapid fire, you know, dismissal of this irresponsible tweet. At a time where we had a shooting against a member of Congress the other day where you have this, you know, heated rhetoric.

Both parties have come out saying, you know, we've got to tone down the rhetoric, we've got to collaborate more. And we've got to talk differently, particularly in public. And so I think at a time where you saw a rare bipartisanship on that issue, you have the President doing a complete 180. And I think it underscores his schoolyard bullying mentality that's simply just not going to go away.

VAUSE: Ok. Clearly the President was upset with these two anchors. But remember on the campaign trail when Donald Trump said this?


TRUMP: I'll tell you, I think I have the best temperament, or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that's ever run for the office of president, ever.


[00:10:00] VAUSE: You know, Dave -- clearly, you know, the President's under a lot of strain -- the Russia investigation and everything else. Is it fair to say though, when you're under pressure your true character comes out and those who were hoping for the President to change, the presidency amplifies behavior, it doesn't change behavior?

JACOBSON: Absolutely. And look, if the President clearly has an objective to advance a legislative agenda at a time when he's got 38 percent approval rating, he's under an FBI investigation for obstruction of justice, this doesn't help his cause. So I just don't understand the political calculus here.

NEWTON: At that point, when you hear him say that, doesn't it -- something twigs (ph) in saying, really the best temperament of any president? When we're sitting here not talking about --

THOMAS: He says everything he does is the biggest and the best and he's the most handsome, I mean, you know.

NEWTON: Talk about, you know, getting backtracked in what we're supposed to be doing, what was going on at the White House today.

I mean he was waiting for the South Korean prime minister, big important meeting, not to mention the fact that it involves a lot of what's going on with North Korea right now. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you regret your tweets this morning at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how do you get China to cooperate with North Korea?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, no regrets over your tweets you sent out this morning?


VAUSE: Wow, that look from Melania though is not a look of approval.

Moon Jae-In dined in the White House a short time ago. You know, they were planning (ph) to talk about North Korea but before they sat down for dinner.

Let's go to Seoul because Paula Hancocks is standing by live there for more on this. And Paula -- it seems President Moon tried a little pre-dinner humor to try and lighten the mood a bit.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Yes, we did have that mentioned from Moon Jae-In himself. He did point out that he has his own fake news issues back here in South Korea. Now, I don't think he's going to have made any friends within the South Korean media making that particular comment. But it just shows that he was trying to make a connection with President Trump.

There was a huge amount of pressure on him here in South Korea back here that the focus was on what's the handshake going to be like, what's the interpersonal relationship going to be like. They knew there was going to be common ground when it came to North Korea but it was really the optics that people here were focusing on -- John.

VAUSE: And so essentially this dinner very well received. These two men seem to strike it off but for President Moon, he's here for two days. He leaves there essentially with what?

HANCOCKS: Well, what we've heard from a senior presidential office official is that in the past, U.S. presidents have said a lot about North Korea but they haven't had any actions. And what they said was that they realize that this time with President Trump they agreed with his view that diplomacy must be based on strong power.

So certainly those officials surrounding President Moon feel that they have got some kind of guarantees. We don't know exactly what that is. They did both agree to work together to resolve the issue of North Korea.

We had an interesting tweet as well from President Trump mentioning a new trade deal. The fact is that surprised everybody back here in South Korea. There is a trade deal, it's called the free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea. President Trump has criticized that in the past saying maybe we should rethink that.

But we did see President Moon try to preempt that. There was announcement just before he met Trump saying there's going to $12.5 billion plus of investment from Korean companies into the U.S. in the next five years. So there was a hope certainly from the South Korean side that that would not be renegotiated.

Everyone's now questioning what does that mean, there's a new trade deal. So there is some uncertainty to what exactly was discussed.

VAUSE: I'm sure we'll find out in the fullness of time.

Paula -- thank you. Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul. NEWTON: Yes. So John -- you just heard Paula. We have a large agenda there, a very serious one. Just in the one meeting with one country, you're talking about areas of nuclear security, trade with one of the largest economies in the world. And yet -- as a Republican do you not worry that the entire agenda is getting crowded out by this nonsense?

THOMAS: I mean it's certainly not an effective use of his communication. That's more what I'm disappointed in is this is distracting from his ability to drive his agenda. To me, this sideshow just -- it keeps Trump away negotiating with some of those members like Susan Collins and others that he needs in the Senate to vote for the healthcare bill.

It takes him -- take away more from getting tax reform done.

VAUSE: Notably, there will be no joint news conference with the two leaders. Oh what a shock?

You know, this is going to be a big policy day, Thursday, for Donald Trump. There are some tough measures on immigration that actually passed the lower House. That was a win for Donald Trump.

Part of the ban on travelers from the six majority Muslim countries actually went into effect on Thursday night. No one's been tweeting about that. We should mention this thought because there were some changes to those who were allowed in and not allowed. If you can prove a relationship to someone in the U.S. who's a parent, a spouse, a fiance -- that was included in the last minute, a fiance, children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister or brother, you know, you're ok.

[00:15:02] There's a long list of relationships which are not exempt from the ban and that includes grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles -- you can see the list there goes on.

You know, David -- it's interesting though because, you know, for months we've heard nothing from this White House but complaints at the media, all we want to is focus on scandals not policy. Here is a big day of policy, they create the scandal.

JACOBSON: Clearly he's the disruptor that he said he was going to be as a candidate but the reality is he continues to rain on his own parade.

Going back to South Korea. You know, what Donald Trump should have tweeted this morning? The fact that there was a $17 billion trade deficit last year with the U.S. and South Korea. That's what he should have been talking about. That's what he should have been promoting today with the leader of South Korea.

And clearly we're talking about a host of another cable news network. And so, clearly he has this infatuation with Twitter, with women, with blood and he continues to, you know, shoot himself on the foot and it's clearly impacting his ability to get anything done.

NEWTON: It's going to be hard to convince people of that though. I mean, I don't see any sign yet, to you John, that at some point in time his supporters, the people around him are going to say look, you know, we don't like that you tweet. To me, it seems to be tolerated right now though.

THOMAS: Again, his base has been accustomed to this through the campaign trail that this is something they're used to. I mean it's remarkable although Dave's right. His disapproval numbers are certainly high. His approval numbers really haven't budged a whole lot since he took office. They've really swung back and forth about three to four points. And that tells me his supporters are still with him throughout all this.

VAUSE: Ok. The question is for how long? And keeping in mind, you know, they elected him after the infamous "Access: Hollywood" tape so clearly, they're there for the long haul.

Dave and John -- good to see you. Thank you.


THOMAS: Thank you.

NEWTON: Appreciate it.

The fight for Mosul is nearing its end. How the capture of one building is already providing a symbolic victory for Iraqi forces.

VAUSE: Also ahead, possible attacks just outside a French mosque, what police say about the suspect, in a moment.


NEWTON: The fight to retake Mosul from ISIS is the down to the last few blocks where it's estimated only a couple of hundred ISIS fighters remain. Now the U.S.-led coalition says victory is imminent but will not come easily.

VAUSE: Iraqi troops have now taken control of what's left of an iconic mosque where the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the ISIS caliphate back in 2014. That is a huge symbolic victory after eight months of fighting.

Well, joining me now for more on this, retired U.S. Army General Mark MacCarley. Good to see you -- sir.

Let's just look at the logistics here. We're talking maybe about 300 ISIS fighters, I think I saw by one report, control about a square mile of Mosul's old city. About 20,000 civilians could be trapped in that area.

From what you see in the offensive so far, how long do you think it will take the Iraqi forces to liberate?

[00:19:56] GEN. MARK MACCARLEY (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I wish I had a magic wand or a crystal ball to take a look at what is definitely a real hard fight. If you do the calculations and you look at the eight months that was spent moving across and then moving close to western Mosul, that was indeed an extraordinarily hard fight.

You saw the dispersion of the population, you saw multiple civilian casualties, you saw loss of life on the part of the Iraqi coalition. So for the specific answer, nobody can tell you. Even a square mile, a fight such as that could take weeks if not months.

Given however that this is a moment of celebration, at least symbolic celebration for the Iraqi forces who have been able to liberate the second largest city in Iraq and pulled that black flag down from al- Nuri mosque.

VAUSE: Ok. Even when Mosul is totally liberated days, maybe weeks, the Pentagon says ISIS still controls a lot of territory in Iraq. Listen to this.


COL. RYAN DILLON, SPOKESPOERSON FOR OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: I will say and we will say that there still remain ISIS strongholds that remain after Mosul. I don't think anybody's unclear about that, to include the Iraqis. So we know that Hawija, we know that Tal-afar, we know that al-Khayyam still remain ISIS holdouts and there will be fights that remain against ISIS in those locations. And we'll continue to support and stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners in those fights.


VAUSE: How does that fit with the Iraqi prime minister's claim of an end to the ISIS caliphate?

MACCARLEY: That is a different way of looking at the fight for Abadi, the prime minister of Iraq. He sees this as related to the caliphate. It's all about land and control of land.

Now we have this success story that 88 percent of the revenues of ISIS have been decremented as a result of recapturing some of the oil fields. We've got a return of 60 percent of the land area of Iraq. It was formerly under control of ISIS.

That said, once again, we have to look at what we're fighting for. If it's to capture the flags, so to speak and capture land then moving ahead, putting resources and dispelling and dispensing with ISIS within not only Mosul but the other towns south of Mosul -- that's a positive thing.

Does that, in effect end the campaign against ISIS or the proponents of terrorism and radical Islam? No. That's the story.

VAUSE: I'm glad you mentioned that because there's a report for that by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. It says there's been about -- almost 1,500 attacks on Iraqi and Syrian cities which are meant to have been freed from ISIS.

Here's part of the report. That's this. "Pushing the Islamic state out as the formal governing party in a territory is not a sufficient development when it comes to ending the group's ability to enact violence against individuals in Iraq and Syria.

So clearly, you know, this campaign has a long way to go. But what is the point of liberating cities if you can't then guarantee their security?

MACCARLEY: There's a benefit associated with getting those civilians under something that resembles the Iraqi government; that in and of itself is a struggle because of the continued challenges of integrating the multiple sects within Iraq. That posed a challenge at the point when we commenced the Iraqi coalition or Abadi commenced his campaign to recapture Mosul when he was going through that difficult tap dance of coordinating his Shiite paramilitaries with the Iraqi army, with the Kurds, with backup support from the United States forces.

He got this far. That's a positive.

So capturing land has a value, it certainly has an economic value. It portends to the public that the Iraqi government has some semblance of the legitimacy because it now covers about 75 percent of the land mass. But again we go back to the same question that you raised -- is this a victory.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, you know, obviously the fighting will go on and the Iraqis have injured some big losses already, the counter terrorism force -- the Iraqi counter terrorism force had an attrition rate of about 40 percent during the Mosul offensive. I mean can they continue to take these losses

MACCARLEY: Well, at 40 percent, as somebody who has spent a considerable amount of time in the army, that is hugely significant in some sense, it's demoralizing.

It does however, represent the commitment by a certain segment of highly trained Iraqi soldiers to give it their all, to go forward and recover Mosul for the central government. That is a big positive.

But in terms of the continued support, that is going to be a challenge. It was a challenge going into Mosul because of the desperate, and sometimes desperate issues related, as I said before between the Sunni and the Shiites.

And now, if in fact, the Iraqis see significant losses within their military, then you have that whole subordinate issue or whether or not morale continues or the paramilitary splinter away in a body no longer has that coalition that in this instance was successful.

[00:25:01] VAUSE: Ok. General, as always, thanks for coming in.

MACCARLEY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

NEWTON: Now another vehicle attack may have been averted near Paris. French police say a man was arrested Thursday after he tried to ram a vehicle into a crowd near a mosque. He was reportedly stopped by protective barriers which he ran into police say multiple times.

Now the incident comes less than two weeks after a similar event in the U.K. One person was killed when a man rammed a van into a crowd outside a mosque in London. The driver was charged with terrorism- related murder and attempted murder.

VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, the two short tweets that have left many around the world speechless. Donald Trump targets this U.S. news anchor in a stunningly personal way.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

NEWTON: And I'm Paula Newton.

The headlines this hour.

Coalition forces say victory over ISIS in Mosul is now imminent. They estimate just a couple of hundred ISIS fighters remain holed up in a few city blocks.

Now, in a major symbolic victory Thursday, Iraqi troops captured the area around the mosque where ISIS first declared its caliphate in 2014.

VAUSE: A watered-down version of U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban is now in fact impacting refugees and travelers from six Muslim- majority countries unless they can show bona fide ties to the U.S.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday to allow parts of the ban and we'll hear a legal challenge to this case in a few months.

NEWTON: U.S. President Donald Trump went on Twitter Thursday not to promote his agenda but to complain about a pair of U.S. news anchors. He called the female anchor low IQ and her male partner psycho. The White House defended the blast as the President fighting fire with fire.

VAUSE: And those shocking tweets have once again (inaudible) claims of misogyny by the President.

So for more on this, joining us here in Los Angeles, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and in San Diego, talk radio host and Trump supporter Gina Loudon. Thank you both for being with us.

Ok. You know, the President he promised to unify the country. For the most part he's done that with universal outrage it seems.

So Gina, I want to start with you. You know, we know hitting back, that's the President's MO but you know, it's one thing. But in just 50 words it seems he's described Mika Brzezinski as stupid, mentally disturbed, vain, someone who may or may not have had a facelift.

You know, it just seems that presidents don't talk like that. GINA LOUDON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yes. And I don't know Mika and I can't claim to have ever watched her show in totality.

[00:30:01] But I can say that in my research today for preparation for tonight, I saw a litany of things that she said about him. Some of them are pretty harsh, and I don't know that they are all together journalistic. I'm not sure that's her goal necessarily.

But if we're going to talk about misogyny, I think we also have to talk about misandry, which is the opposite of that. And some of the reference that she's made were rather emasculating towards the president of the United States.

So I don't mind us having this conversation, but I think that the conversation needs to go both ways. It's not only women who can be hurt by conversations, and certainly she fired first many, many times.

And we know that this president is the president and the Americans elected him as such. A person who if you hit him, he's going to hit back just exactly like what was said today in the White House conference.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So, Gina, just to be clear, you defend the president and you agree with the tweet this morning. You think it was wholly appropriate for him to make that tweet?

LOUDON: Like I said, I don't know Mika at all.


NEWTON: You don't have to know Mika to weigh in on that.


LOUDON: But I think if we're going to ask the question what is appropriate conversation, I think it starts with the rather sexist things that she said over and over --


HELDMAN: What does she said, Gina? What does she said? Gina, what is one thing that she has said that's sexist. And by the way, that wouldn't justify it. But what do you have, because emasculation is not the same thing as misandry.

And that the president of the United States is actually held to a very different standard than people who have or host on a talk show where they get to share their opinion.

So just to be clear, you are supporting the president of the United States making incredibly sexist comments.

LOUDON: Absolutely I am not saying that sexist comments are right at all by anyone, but I think that we have to have both sides of the conversation to have honest dialogue. I think we have to have both sides of the conversation -- (CROSSTALK)

HELDMAN: You just defended him by saying that somehow she brought it upon herself. You just blame --


LOUDON: Don't tell me what I did. And maybe you're slamming the victim because again these conversations go both ways.

HELDMAN: Donald Trump is the victim here? Is that what we're going with? You're arguing Donald Trump is the victim here?

LOUDON: You're not paying attention. I think that America is not paying attention to this hyper rhetoric right now because America is worried about their jobs, and he's creating them. And America is worried about open pipelines and illegal immigration, and the things that he's actually working on.


VAUSE: Let me just jump in, Gina.

OK. So we know Donald Trump is a counter-puncher. We saw a lot of that during last year's election campaign.

Here's a sample.



I think Jeb is a nice person. He's very low energy. I'm not used to that kind of a person.

He is Lyin' Ted. You know, I came up with the idea, but you have to spell it right. It's L-Y-I-N apostrophe. Lyin' Ted. The Bible held high. He puts it down, and then he lies.


VAUSE: All those attacks were on men. It seems -- it gets a lot more personal when the target is a woman.


MEGYN KELLY, FORMER FOX HOST: One of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter. However, that is not without its down sides. In particular, when it comes to women. You call women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.

Your Twitter account --

TRUMP: Only Rosy O'Donnell.


KELLY: No, it wasn't.

TRUMP: You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.


VAUSE: During an interview with "Rolling Stone" last year, Donald Trump disparage presidential candidate Carly Fiorina asking., "Look at that face, would anyone vote for that face?"

He re-tweeted an unflattering photograph of Ted Cruz' wife with the caption "The images are worth a thousand words."

He's also calling around reporters bimbos, that kind of thing.

So, Gina, how do you explain the difference here?

LOUDON: Well, then your issue is with Middle America who elected this president, not with this president. This is exactly who he's always been. This is exactly who will always be. He's broken the mold.

And while some people out there want to talk a lot about words, you know, I think he wants to talk about how to actually help make America great again. That's what he's talked about from the ginning. He talks about actions while the others are talking about words and then people get frustrated because the rhetoric falls on deaf ears.

HELDMAN: Let's talk about actions. Let's talk about actions.


LOUDON: This is a president that took a look --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gina, I'd like to jump in here and talk about -


VAUSE: Let Caroline have a word here. OK, Caroline, your turn.

HELDMAN: Sure. You brought up actions. OK, so he gutted family planning which disproportionately affects women across the globe through the U.N. His health care proposals, the one he endorses in the Senate disproportionately affects women.

[00:35:00] It does not save lives. 22 million fewer people not insured. I mean, come on. The Harvard study confirms that we're talking perhaps upwards of 27,000 lives in 2026 alone. Look at the Harvard study.

In addition to that, he's also gutted Title IX Enforcement to protect campus, sexual rape -- sexual assault and rape survivors. He actually blamed the high rates of rape and sexual assaults in the military on women being involved in the military. So his actions speak very loud.

And I'll just have one more statistic. Half the work force is women. President Obama appointed 43 percent women when he made his appointments. Donald Trump, 27 percent. He is hiring three men for every one woman he puts in his cabinet. So his actions match his words.

VAUSE: Gina, is it difficult as a woman to defend the president with that kind of record.


LOUDON: No, your statistics are completely off. And anyway Middle America --

HELDMAN: You can look them. It's easy to look them up. Everybody has the Internet.

LOUDON: Your statistics are exactly the reasons this president was elected and the reason he is successful and will continue to be successful because America is tired...

HELDMAN: Of data?

LOUDON: ...of the race hating, the gender vindicating. The division.

HELDMAN: Data is terrible.

LOUDON: The constant division. We are one America. And we're not really concern about dividing people up into little pieces.

HELDMAN: No, Gina. People are not upset because data doesn't lie. People are not upset over data. People are not upset because data is wildly available. Everybody should Google the statistics that I just offered. You can easily find them. Even you, Gina, can go home this evening and look at it.


LOUDON: The statistics you just offered are not citable.


HELDMAN: 27 percent -- look it up.

LOUDON: The American people voted against the kind of division that you are trying to insight right here.

You look it up. I know that tax payers pay for those abortions. And the tax payers are tired of it. They don't want to do it anymore. And this president has answered that call.

I know that unemployment --


NEWTON: Gina, I have to get in there --

VAUSE: We're almost out of time, Gina.

NEWTON: We just want to jump in. Thank you both. It is a debate that is sure to continue, unfortunately.

VAUSE: I can keep going with this all night, because it is interesting. And we appreciate Gina coming on as well as Caroline.

And obviously this is a conversation and a debate a lot of people are having all around the country and many parts of the world.

NEWTON: Thank you both.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, as Hong Kong celebrates a big anniversary, some are considering its future under Chinese rule. We'll explain.


VAUSE: Chinese President Xi Jinping will swear in Hong Kong's new leader on Saturday. All part of the city's special anniversary celebrations.

A military parade on Friday celebrated 20 years since the U.K. handed over control of Hong Kong to Beijing.

NEWTON: When he arrived, Xi encouraged continuing the current system that led Hong Kong maintains some independence from China.

Our Anna Coren is following how residents in Hong Kong are reacting to the anniversary. And just in that lead up there, Anna, the point is are they going to be allowed to keep the kind of independence they want from China?

[00:40:00] ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula, a very good question. It's certainly what President Xi said when he arrived here in Hong Kong.

And it's certainly what the people here at this pro-Beijing rally believe that they will continue to enjoy the freedoms that they have for the last 20 years.

Not everyone is convinced. Many people here in Hong Kong believe that their way of life, that their autonomy is being eroded and it's slowly but surely Hong Kong will be rooted -- will be absorbed, I should say, into mainland China.


COREN (voice-over): Breathtaking country parks and beaches, a vibrant city life and a dynamic financial hub forming a bridge between east and west. These all make up the territory of Hong Kong, a tiny archipelago on the southern tip of the Chinese mainland.

As Hong Kong marks its 20 years since Britain handed its former colony back to China, the city also looks ahead to 2047 when Beijing regains full control.

Already plans are underway to begin merging Hong Kong into the mainland with a master plan to create a pearl river delta mega city, including surrounding cities -- Macao, Zhuhai, and Guangdong.

(on-camera): The key part of the plan is right below us. Stretching for approximately 40 kilometers, this will be the longest bridge in the world. It's one of the most ambitious engineering feats in history costs billions of dollars, and this along with other major infrastructure prospects is designed to third integrate Hong Kong into mainland China.

(voice-over): Some experts say these projects are vital to shore up Hong Kong's financial future.

MARCOS CHAN, HEAD OF RESEARCH, CBRE HONG KONG: Hong Kong do have a bottom limit in terms of land supply and I do believe, you know, the government is trying very hard to rebalance the market between supply and demand. With the bridge in place while it's going to help the tourism and the retail market because it will help to attract more tourists coming into Hong Kong.

COREN: While some Hong Kong citizens support the strategy, others are concerned that closer economic ties will ultimately mean falling into line with China's politics on freedom of speech, education and the environment which could erode Hong Kong's unique identity and culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout the years, we do have people from China coming to Hong Kong and then different cultures actually -- it's actually changing our culture as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hong Kong will become less important than it was before. And the only thing probably that stopping China from doing that faster is probably other than law is language as well. So maybe like 10, 20 years later like Hong Kong won't be here.

COREN: When the handover of Hong Kong took place in 1997, the one country, two systems deal for the next 50 years was created with the hope that China would become more democratic. But with that unlikely to happen, the next few years could mean a vital turning point for Hong Kong with many asking if the former British colony is destined to become just another big Chinese city.


COREN: And, Paula, we've spoken to people here at this rally who want Hong Kong to become a part of China. When I asked why, they say, well, I am Chinese.

I spoke to a mother and his 14-year-old daughter. I said what sort of Hong Kong do you want for your daughter. And she said the one that we have currently.

Well, we know that's highly unlikely because in 13 years' time, Hong Kong will be part of China where the freedom of speech, the freedom of the media, the right to protest will not be tolerated. And much is being made of the lack of protest here in Hong Kong.

But, Paula, you have to remember that security is exceptionally tight. There are thousands of police, barriers, roads are being closed. And whilst President Xi is here, they don't want any civil disorder.

NEWTON: Yes. Even those who may want it on the street have not been given the opportunity.

Our Anna Coren there with an incredible look really on the past and future of Hong Kong.

Appreciate it.

VAUSE: Well, you've been watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause.

NEWTON: And I'm Paula Newton. "World Sport" of course starts right after the break.