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U.S. Markets Rattled Amid U.S./China Trade Spat; Trump Calls for "Strong Action" on Southern Border; Trump Wants U.S. Troops Out of Syria "Very Soon"; Celebrating the Life & Legacy of MLK Jr. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 4, 2018 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Because Boeing is down. Caterpillar is down. And 3M is down. McDonald's was lower. Microsoft was lower. Every company that has pinned its future growth strategy in some shape or form on China is down. And for good measure, General Motors today, G.M., puts out a statement reminding the administration the significance of coming to a deal and the importance of China to the company.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: In terms of the big picture, Richard, how bad is this potentially?

QUEST: That's a really tricky question, Wolf. If it's a negotiating strategy, then one assumes cooler heads will prevail and there will be no tariffs. But if this is "mine is bigger than yours and I'm going to push this as far as I can," then you're looking at a really serious situation here. And we don't know. We don't know because there's no policy statements. We don't know because it's all done by tweet at the moment. Yes, the president tweets, and then Larry Kudlow has to come out and repair the damage. You know, as my grandfather used to say, this is no way to run a railroad.

BLITZER: Richard Quest, at the New York Stock Exchange, thanks very much.

Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, thanks to you as well.

Meanwhile, President Trump is vowing strong action on the border with Mexico as he calls on U.S. military troops to stand guard until his long-proposed and promised border wall with Mexico is complete.


[13:35:48] BLITZER: Welcome back. The president is promising what he calls "strong action today" -- his words -- strong action today on securing the U.S. border with Mexico, although it's still not clear what he means by that. His announcement came at the very end of a tweet that also railed against what he blamed a "weak Obama-era" -- he called it Obama-error border laws and accused Democrats of wanting people to, quote, "pour into the country unchecked." We do know the president surprised the Pentagon by saying he wanted to send National Guard, U.S. military personnel to secure the border with Mexico until his long-promised wall is complete. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, of Arizona. He

sits on the Armed Services Committee. He also served in the United States Marine Corps in Iraq.

Congressman, as you know, President Obama sent about 1200 National Guard troops to the border back in 2010. Is there any difference from your perspective of what former President Obama did and what the current president, President Trump, is now talking about?

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO, (D), ARIZONA: Well, we really have to wait for the details, but clearly, you know, the problems we have with President Trump is he doesn't really have any plans. He kind of just rules by emotion, doesn't actually govern with logic, and is just doing this to find a political solution, not an actual national security solution.

Versus what I think President Obama and President Bush did, which is they decided they needed to send military to the border to assist the Border Patrol. That's what's going to end up happening here. If anything happens, it's not as big as President Trump is going to say because there's no way that we could secure the border and not break the defense budget. He's basically just going to use this as a show of force so that way he could appease his base and really not be part of an actual solution, which is comprehensive immigration reform.

BLITZER: We don't know how many U.S. troops the president is proposing sending to the border with Mexico, but as someone who represents a border state with Mexico -- you represent Arizona -- is there any number you would support given your military experience and your experience with the border?

GALLEGO: Well, the reason I wouldn't actually support it is for two reasons. We don't need to be sending military to the border because you have the custom and Border Patrol. It's the largest law enforcement agency in this country. It's actually bigger than most standing armies in the world. We have enough Border Patrol. We actually have enough Border Patrol that are even in the pipeline to get hired. The reason you had Bush and Obama doing that in the past is because there was not enough Border Patrol. We've continuously put money, billions and billions of dollars, into the border. So let's use the money appropriate rated for that.

The reason I'm not going to support this is because this is just a political fix for the president because he made a stupid campaign promise over a stupid border wall that Mexico is not going to pay for and Congress doesn't want to fund. So he's just trying to appease his base by, quote/unquote, "putting troops on the border," when in reality in the past troops are not allowed to arrest anybody, not allowed to have loaded weapons, so what are they going to be doing on the border? All they're going to be doing is draining our resources and time from our military.

BLITZER: As you point out, the president was at least, in part, elected on the promise that he would build a wall along the border with Mexico, secure the border with Mexico, have Mexico pay for that wall. Here's a little reminder. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to build a great border wall.

We will build a great, great wall.

We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it. We'll build a wall.


TRUMP: I promise, we will build the wall.

It's not going to be a little wall. It's going to be a big, beautiful wall.

It's going to be a very tall wall, very strong wall, very powerful wall.

It's going to be such a beautiful wall. It's going to be so big.

It's going to be so powerful. It's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be.


BLITZER: All right. That's what he promised the American people during the campaign. Many people voted for him, in part, because of that promise. He argues that Democrats are now standing in the way of that. You saw his tweet earlier in the day, "Congress must change these Obama-era and other laws now."

[13:40:02] GALLEGO: Well, look, if the president was actually, you know, the master of the "Art of the Deal," he likes to call himself, he would have actually had most of these initiatives done. He would have had a big portion of his wall funded, and he actually would have had some of these immigration laws changed. You know, there's a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans that went to the president just a couple months ago and said, here's the deal, in exchange for DACA, we'll change our immigration law. We'll put a big down payment and start building a border wall.

He didn't take the deal. So the reason why this is not happening is not because of the Democrats in the House or the Senate or even the Republicans in the House or the Senate. It's because the president is a bad president. He does not know how to deal. He doesn't have the administration around him, the administrators around him to actually know how to accept a good compromise. And now he realizes that he's not going to be able to fulfill his campaign promises before the election. So he's going to do all these theatrics. Part of those theatrics is using our troops, our manpower, and sending them to the border when it's not needed.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Syria for a moment, Congressman, while I have you. As I pointed out, you served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq. The president told his national security team he's now willing to allow U.S. troops -- about 2,000 U.S. troops -- to stay in Syria short-term, but he's publicly made it known that he wants them out very soon. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation. We will have, as of three months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 17 years. We get nothing, nothing out of it. Nothing.


BLITZER: Clearly, suggesting the U.S. military involvement over these 17 years in Afghanistan, Iraq, now in Syria, has been a total waste. Does he have a point?

GALLEGO: He does actually have a point, but I want to point out this is the same president that chastised President Obama for telegraphing that we're going to leave Iraq. Now he's essentially doing the same thing. So again, President Trump really has a black belt when it comes to hypocrisy. Look, the Middle East is a very difficult place. I fought up to the Syrian border, actually, and I know exactly what many of our men and women are dealing with over there. The best way to deal with this is to have steady leadership with steady alliances all around the world and in the Middle East instead of this bouncing off the wall and just kind of going by your gut reaction the president's having right now.

That causes a lot of instability. That causes our allies in the region to overreact or underreact, and more importantly, it empowers Russia to be the big mover in that region, and Iran, because they're at least having some level of stable leadership versus President Trump who's basically just all over the place. So what he needs to do is act more presidential, talk to the national security advisers, come up with a plan for the region, and not just basically, you know, see what sticks on the wall.

BLITZER: Congressman Gallego, thanks so much for joining us.

GALLEGO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Today, 50 years after his assassination, thousands of people are marching here in Washington in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Up next, I'll speak with the civil rights icon's daughter on his legacy.



[13:47:47] REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First- Amendment privileges because they have committed themselves to that, over that. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights.



BLITZER: Powerful words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, delivering his final, very famous speech back in 1968 in Memphis before his life was so tragically cut short by an assassin. Today, 50 years later, commemorations are being held nationwide to honor his life and his legacy.

Joining us now, Dr. King's youngest child, Bernice King. Also with us, CNN contributor, former president of the NAACP, Cornell Williams Brooks.

Bernice, you were just 5 years old when your father was killed. What does it mean to you to see these major tributes to your dad, people marching, listening to his speeches, remembering his legacy all these years later?

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: First of all, Wolf, thank you for having me on today. I'm always honored and humbled whenever I hear people referring to my father and whenever we have these moments because, you know, I was raised in a household where my mother taught us about my father, always invoking his words. So I developed a deep appreciation through the years of his teachings. And I think in the way that our world is today, that now, perhaps more than ever before, we need the teachings of Dr. King. His words were so poignant at the time, and they're still very relevant now.

The legacy that he's left for us of nonviolent, social change, and peace with justice is something that, you know, resonates. You know, I hope that people will use this day to not only just commemorate and remember but really act in his spirit to bring about the changes that are needed to create a more just, humane and peaceful world.

[13:50:07] BLITZER: If your dad were with us today, Bernice, what do you think he would say about the things that have unfolded like meet too movement or rallies against gun violence? What do you think he would say about what's happening in our country today?

KING: First of all, I think he would be excited. My father never lost hope. Even when it became dark and dismal and looked like his dream became a nightmare. He said he still maintained hope, and that hope is because he knew that there would always be a -- what do you call, dedicated minority who would be committed to justice and peace and equity and to see young people rising up the way that they've been rising up, starting with the Black Lives Matter and coming forward to the women's movement and the young people that have been raising their voices with March For Our Lives. He would say there's a resurgence. These are revolutionary times. What he said back then. These movements now are beginning to cause conversations and dialogue that have been need through the years, in terms of gender equity, in terms of violence in our culture, in terms of white privilege, and systemic and racial injustice. And so he would be extremely excited. And I'm sure that he would be making connections with these movements to make sure that they had what they needed in terms of understanding, organizations strategy and planning so they could bring about effective change.

BLITZER: Speaking of young people, your niece is only in the fourth grade, but she had a very public role at that March For Our Lives event here in Washington. Listen to this.



YOLANDA RENEE KING, GRANDAUGHTER OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.


YOLANDA RENEE KING: I have a dream that enough is enough.


YOLANDA RENEE KING: And that this should be a gun-free world, period.


BLITZER: She grows up, and she is amazing. What is the number-one lesson you would like her to hold on to when it comes to her grandfather?

KING: Well, I think just as the rest of us, nonviolence is the most potent weapon we have to bring about social change. It's something that all of us must embrace as a lifestyle. So we're teaching her that and, obviously, she's learning some things. A lot of this stuff that comes out of her, it comes from her. It's not being prompted. People should know that. And we thank God that there will be a generation behind us that will continue in the tradition of our parents and us. And, you know, Yolanda Renee is going to be something to watch.

BLITZER: She's an amazing little young girl and all of us watched and admired her appearance there.

Bernice, thank you so much for joining us on this important day.

KING: Thank you, Wolf. I appreciate it.

BLITZER: Let's go to Cornell right now.

Cornell, what is it about Dr. King that continues to influence younger generations that weren't even born 50 years ago? Weren't even around during his lifetime?

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So one of the things I'm just morally mindful of is the fact that we have this generation of young people who understand that America's most morally prominent apostle of nonviolence was himself a victim of gun violence. Commemorating the anniversary of his death as his legacy lives on in literally -- not just his granddaughter but the grandchildren of Dr. King, of every hue and heritage who are standing against gun violence across the country, whether perpetuated by police officers or mass shooters in schools.

These young people literally understand that Dr. King's legacy is not about inheritance but rather instruction. We have to share it with them. We have to teach it. We have to understand and appreciate the fact that today is not merely about moral -- I should say nostalgic commemoration but rather about moral emulation. And we see it. They're, in fact, emulating Dr. King through protest, through demonstration, through registering people to vote. His legacy lives on. That is something that we should all celebrate.

[13:55:12] BLITZER: I know we made tremendous progress but there's still a long way to go. If he were with us today, what do you think he would say?

BROOKS: I think Dr. King would be tremendously concerned about the amount of violence that we have in our culture. The fact that we have literally thousands and thousands of Americans who lose their lives at the hands of guns carried by civilians. And we also have 950 to 1,000 people lose their lives at the hands of guns carried by police officers. He would be concerned about a culture of gun violence. He would be concerned about the sophisticated voter suppression 50 years later as opposed to the crude vote of denial 50 years ago.

But more than anything, Dr. King would preach to us about the necessity of having hope. You can't make the empirical case for hope because hope is not a matter of an empirical proof but a moral choice. Dr. King would call on us to persist and prevail in terms of nonviolence and to perpetuate and move his legacy forward. That, I believe, we're doing in spite of all the challenges.

And I would also note this, Wolf. He would call us to love. Because when we are in the era of rising hate crime against Muslims, against Jews, Latinos, African-Americans, trans folk, Dr. King would call us to love, practicing agape love, unconditional love. At the end of the day, love is not a secular nicety or civic platitude. It's the substance of this democracy. We need it literally to survive as a country, as a society, as a community, as humanity. I believe he would say that to us.

BLITZER: Good point.

Cornell William Brooks, thank you for joining us on this important day.

That does it for me. To all our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

The news continues right after a quick break.