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White House Talking Again About Tax Cuts (After President Trump Says They're Not); President Trump Attacks Ford And California Over Deal On Stricter Fuel Economy Standards; Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) Is Interviewed About President Trump's Attacks To Ford; Trump Admin. Rolls Out Proposal Allowing Indefinite Detention Of Migrant Families; Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) Is Interviewed About Gun Laws; Brazil's Amazon Rainforest Burns At Record Rate. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Buckle up because late today, yesterday's presidential flip-flop on Tuesday's flip, after Monday's flop on taxes or tax cuts, got flipped yet again. That's right. Follow along.

Yet another about-face as yet more evidence of a slowing economy comes to light, according to Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker of "The New York Times," even some people who once worked closely with the president are now voicing concerns that he's acting more erratically.

I'm quoting now: Some former Trump administration officials in recent days said they are increasingly worried about the president's behavior, suggesting it stems from rising pressure on Mr. Trump because the economy seems more worrisome as next year's election approaches.

So, that's the backdrop to the latest flip on something again the president did a 180 on just yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy.


COOPER: So not looking at a tax cut now. Again that was just a day after he said that he was looking at a tax cut now, which in turn came a day after the White House denied that he was looking at a tax cut now.

So, the bottom line is here's where things stood when we left you last night -- the president just taken tax cuts off the table after putting them there the day before. And early this evening, Larry Kudlow, his top economic advisor, put them right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We're looking at what I sometimes call tax cuts 2.0, to improve the long-term growth of the economy. So, to clarify again on the tax question, there's no reason why we shouldn't be -- and, in fact, we are -- developing, again, tax cuts 2.0. We're touching base with all the key people in the administration --

HOST: But, Larry, it seems the president took 2.0 off the table yesterday.

KUDLOW: Well, he didn't.


COOPER: Well, he did. We have the tape. Look at it again.


TRUMP: I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy.


COOPER: So, if you're keeping score, that's four flip-flops in four days. Larry Kudlow went on to say that the president was only talking about short-term tax cuts to boost a sagging economy. It's like a payroll tax cut which the president said he was looking at the day before.

The administration just -- I don't know, he says the administration doesn't buy those kind of short-term cuts to boost the economy. Just seconds later he laid out a timetable for these cuts that he says they are looking at that certainly appear short-term.


HOST: Forgive me for interrupting, but how soon -- I mean, might we see tax cuts, more tax cuts before the election?

KUDLOW: Before the election? Yes. In fact, you might even see tax cuts 2.0, which would drive additional tax relief and create additional tax incentives for middle class folks, for blue collar workers, for small businesses, additional incentives, additional tax cuts. And you might see that during the campaign, to be perfectly honest.


COOPER: So on this notion of short-term versus long-term, seems like that's nonsense, playing word games. Unless, of course, he's talking about the 2024 elections, which, of course, he's not.

It's understandable why the White House may be concerned. They're concerned about showing that they are concerned.

Today, the leading index showed the manufacturing sector is slowing, shrinking for the first time in decades. The index now at the lowest point in 119 months. At the same time today, Vice President Pence tweeted: Manufacturing has come roaring back in America.

In fact, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created more than half a million fewer jobs that first reported last year, and from March of this year. There were with downward adjustments in every nearly -- excuse me, every -- nearly every category, including manufacturing. One contributor, the 2017 tax cuts that did not work as promised.


TRUMP: This is our once in a generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday hardworking Americans.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: This plan is going to lower the debt to GDP.

The economic plan under Trump will grow the economy.

GARY COHN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Nothing drives economic growth like capital investment.

MNUCHIN: This will pay for itself with growth and with reduced -- reduction of different deductions and closing loopholes.


COOPER: Well, it didn't pay for itself. The growth was less than expected, and the revenue hit was so big, the Congressional Budget Office now predicts a 2020 deficit of a trillion dollars -- a trillion dollars. And by 2029, a national debt that is bigger as a share of the economy than any time since World War II -- which is something you'll recall that candidate Trump was all against back when it was the other guy's far smaller problem.


TRUMP: We have debt on debt on debt.

We have to get rid of t.

[20:05:01] Reduce our $18 trillion in debt because, believe me, we're in a bubble. We owe $19 trillion as a country, and we're going to knock it down.

We pay it back so easily.

HOST: How?

TRUMP: It's easy to pay it back.


COOPER: Easy when you're just talking on TV. Not so easy when you're actually president. More now on all this from CNN's Kaitlan Collins who joins us from the

White House.

So, these comments from Larry Kudlow -- it's hard to see it as anything other than a change to the White House that's been saying this week about tax cuts. And the president has been all over the map on this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it fits perfectly into this pattern, this week of mixed messaging you're seeing coming out of the White House over whether or not they're pursuing something like a payroll tax cut or not, which has gone back and forth.

But, Anderson, really what that shows you is that there is a high level of uncertainty in this White House over how to respond to these warning signs that are flashing of the potential of an economic downturn. There's been some disagreements inside the West Wing of the president's economic team which we reported in the past. They have very different views from each other.

And now, today, you see Larry Kudlow proposing something like unveiling new tax cuts before the 2020 election, which really truly is not that far away. But, of course, even if that is something that they do try to propose in the next year and a half or so, it's not something that's going to pass Congress likely. Basically zero chance of passing especially with the fact that Democrats control the House.

But you are seeing different ways that the aides are trying to give the president signs, they are trying to stave off what could be a downturn or a dip in the economy.

COOPER: Or, you know, we had the quote from the Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker of "The New York Times" of former people who used to work for the president, concerned about erratic behavior, or White House officials saying anything about this behind the scenes?

COLLINS: Well, the fact of the matter is publicly, they are saying we're not worried about the economy. When it comes to this issue specifically, they're saying we have a lot of optimism, we don't see a recession in the future. That's what Larry Kudlow said not long ago a few moments ago.

But in reality the people behind the scenes, for people who are actually paying attention to what's going on, what these trends are showing, they are worried about it and they're telling the president that, they're being honest with him and he's responding in kind because he knows a lot of his reelection hinges on the economy. That's why you're seeing the president lash out in ways about the economy. Yes, I'm considering this, and then when one aide shows the president that actually, remember, President Obama is someone who instituted that payroll tax cut in 2012, that's something the president then came out against yesterday, citing what President Obama did.

So they're trying to propose all these different ways to stave this off, and the president is responding in kind saying publicly he's fine with it, but behind the scenes aides are saying that is not the case that's happening inside the West Wing.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it.

Perspective now on the money and the politics, joining us CNN political commentator David Urban. In addition to being a campaign strategist, he's a Washington corporate lobbyist, representing defense, transportation and energy companies. Also joining us CNN political commentator "Washington Post" opinion columnist Catherine Ramble (ph). Catherine -- Rampell, sorry.


COOPER: It's the second time. There won't be a third.

So, what do you make -- I mean, this mixed -- at the very least, mixed messaging. The White House says they're not talking about payroll tax cuts or looking at it, the president says they are, then they are not, then they are.

RAMPELL: I think what's interesting here, the common theme behind this sort of flip-flopping on both tax cuts and trade as well as a bunch of other dumb ideas, I would argue economic ideas this administration has adopted is that it always kind of follows the same pattern. It starts out with Trump saying, don't listen to the experts, they're wrong. I know that they say this thing that I'm going to do has like predictably bad consequences.

But I promise you, believe me, that's his phrase, right, believe me, this won't have any costs. There won't be any pain, right? China is going to pay for the tariffs. The tax cuts are going to pay for themselves.

And then when faced with an abundance of evidence suggesting that, in fact, there will be pain, Americans are paying the tariffs, the tax cuts are not paying for themselves, he just doubles down, right? And he says, no, no, no, OK, maybe there is like a little bit of pain now. But short-term pain, long-term gain, it will payoff in the end.

And the solution is more tax cuts. More tariffs, right? And it's like they deserve, you know, an Olympic medal in goal-post moving at some point.

COOPER: David, I saw you shaking your head. What do you make of this? What's your stance on this?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, you know, so there is so much to unpack. So, on the tariffs, up until this point, I agree with my friend Peter Navarro that I believe tariffs in China are working in having the intended effect of creating pressure there in China. And also, the American consumers aren't paying for it, the Chinese --

(CROSSTALK) RAMPELL: There are four studies that disagree with you.

URBAN: Can I finish?

COOPER: Go ahead.

URBAN: The Chinese devalue their currency, and they cut prices.

[20:10:01] Tax cuts do have an impact. People, you know, invest, reinvest more money.

You ask thousands and millions of folks who got a thousand bucks in their pocket, what they did with that, if that had any impact in their life. So, they do have an impact.

When you're talking about an election year, when you're talking about tax cuts for the middle class, for small businesses, for working families -- look, I heard what Kaitlan said about send it up to the House and see what Speaker Pelosi would like to do with that. But, you know, if the Democrats want to vote against tax cuts for working class families and small businesses during election year, they do so at their own peril.

And to your point, Anderson, you know, the economy has been the strong suit in this president's, you know, hand here. "A.P." poll recently out yesterday -- today, points all people, parties, Democrats, independents, Republicans view the president's performance on the economy much more favorably than anything else.

COOPER: Right. David, I mean, first of all, the president has not been saying what you just said. The president said they're not looking at tax cuts at all yesterday very clearly, although the day before he said that they are. The day before that the White House said that they aren't. Now, today, the White House says they are.

So, just from a messaging standpoint, they clearly seem disorganized.


URBAN: From a messaging standpoint it could be cleaned up a little bit obviously. But I don't think -- look, I think if we learned, nothing is off the table in this administration, right? There's one decider in chief here, and until he says it's completely off the table, it's not off the table. So, just because --


COOPER: Even if he says it's off the table, it may not be off the table.

URBAN: Well, it may not -- exactly. And that makes it difficult, right, for his Republican allies in the Congress to kind of move forward on plans like a 2.0.

COOPER: It also makes it difficult for folks like you to come on television and, you know, sort of definitively state what the policy is.

But, Catherine, just in terms of the economics of this -- I mean, Republicans used to care about the deficit. I mean, under President Obama, there were, you know, there was so much focus understandably on the deficit and concern about it. You don't hear -- there's hardly any Republicans talking about the deficit.


COOPER: Certainly, this president going after President Obama on a much smaller deficit makes no mention.

RAMPELL: Well, and the other important point to make about the deficit and the fact that it's growing is that it's been growing as the economy has been good, right? I mean, normally, you see deficits growing when the economy is weak. The increases we saw in the deficit under Obama were related to the Great Recession, were related to the fact that tax revenues fell. We had automatic stabilizers.

You know, people automatically using more unemployment benefits and that sort of thing. And we had stimulus measures because the economy needed it.

What's disturbing is the deficit has been growing despite the fact that we are now in the longest expansion on record, which suggests that there isn't going to be a sudden turn in the business cycle that's going to rescue us from these trends.

I just want to be clear about the conversation that we've been having so far. Business investment is not up. Business investment fell last quarter. GDP growth was up for a year when we had a nice fiscal stimulus, when we didn't need it. But it's back -- it's back and slow to what it was before.

Job growth is what it was under Obama. So, this idea that, suddenly, you know, Trump came into office and like the Red Sea parted and the economy transformed is just not true.

COOPER: David, about the "A.P." poll that you mention, I want to point out that his approval is actually -- I mean, pretty underwater when it comes to handling the economy, 46 to 51 percent.

URBAN: Right. Well --

COOPER: That's clearly a problem for you.

URBAN: Well, his number -- the president's numbers have never been traditionally strong, Anderson. They've always operated in that 39 to 45 percent range regardless. But his strongest numbers, you know, are on the economy.

So when you pointed out before that people in the White House and others get nervous, listen, James Carville famously stated, it can't be overstated, it's the economy, stupid, right? I think every president that's occupied that White House gets it. So, this president like all presidents will live and die in the economy. COOPER: How much -- how much of what we're seeing in the economy,

Catherine, do you think is a direct result of President Trump's own decisions? How much is just, you know, a global cycle?

RAMPELL: So, presidents generally get too much credit when the economy is good, too much blame when the economy is bad. They can affect things on the margin.

And I would argue that the things that he's done that he attributes to -- that he has used to explain why the economy has been growing are basically overstated, right? We had again, a temporary fiscal stimulus from his tax cuts that is now fading.

To the extent that he's having an effect on the economy now, it's the uncertainty that he's created through these tariffs. He can't control the nine other economies right now that are either in recession or on the verge of recession. That doesn't help us.

China slow down doesn't help us. But we're not helping China either by trying to make them suffer more. So, he is affecting things on the margin mostly through consumer confidence -- business confidence.

COOPER: We have to leave it there. Catherine Rampell, appreciate it.

David, final thought? You want to say something?

[20:15:01] URBAN: No, I was going to say, look, I disagree obviously. Look, I think cutting, you know, incredible -- voluminous amount of red tape and regulations in Washington gave businesses a great deal of confidence to invest and expand. So -- and the tax cuts did have an impact. So, I think I have to agree to disagree on those two points.

RAMPELL: Data suggests otherwise.

COOPER: David Urban, thanks very much.

Coming up next, more new polling on the president's job approval.

Later, his beef with the state of California over cars and clean air. California Governor Gavin Newsom joins us tonight on 360.


COOPER: If the economy is weighing on President Trump, he won't find much comfort in the polls. The latest from the "Associated Press" as we talked about shows his job approval at 36 percent, 62 percent saying they disapprove of the way he's handling himself in office.

On the economy, which is David Urban said before the break, is traditionally been a strength, he's now under water by 46 to 51 percent. Now, terrible numbers, but certainly not the kind that you're looking for going to a reelection campaign.

I want to talk about it with former Democratic presidential candidate and DNC chairman, Vermont government and medical doctor, Howard Dean.

[20:20:04] Also, "USA Today" columnist and CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers. But she is not a medical doctor yet, but maybe.

Governor Dean, so based on these numbers, especially the economic ones, I'm wondering what kind of strategy do you think the Democratic candidates for president might be looking at using right now? I mean, is -- are they talking about the economy enough? Is that something they see as a strength, do you think?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the economy is relatively strong. Our debt has been extraordinary as it always appears to get under Republican presidents.

But generally I think average people -- the people in the middle and below do not feel like they've benefited from the tax cut and all that.

I think, look, this election is going to turn on whether you think you'd like to have Donald Trump in your house when your children are awake. And, basically, as I said and I said before on this program, our strategy has to not be talking about Donald Trump.

Trump will remind everybody every day that they don't really like him, most of us. We have to say what we're going to do that's positive, and if we don't do that, we're not going to win.

COOPER: It's an interesting idea that sort of the Trump leg of this will -- you're essentially saying it will take care of itself, because he will -- for the people he outrages, he will continue to outrage them.

DEAN: Right.

COOPER: The Democrats don't need to waste time focusing on that. That's a given.

DEAN: We need to remind them gently that we really do have to stand for something positive. I don't think we're going to get elected by saying I'm not Trump.

COOPER: Right.

Kirsten, I mean, the last one-term president I think was George H.W. Bush. He struggled obviously with his messaging about relatively mild recession that happened the year before he ran for reelection.

Do you think the candidates should be looking to that election for guidance?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think -- so, the big problem that he ran into was he was -- he was basically telling people, it's not as bad as you think that it is. And so, that really alienated people because people know what's going on, you know, with the economy because it affects them so personally. And so, he didn't seem to -- he wasn't connecting with them on the fact -- in the way that you have Bill Clinton with it's the economy, stupid, right? He was speaking specifically to the economy and to people's concerns. All that said, I don't know how many lessons you can take from that

era and apply them to this era, because I think the Trump era is so unique and that's why it's so hard to figure out how to run against him. Even if you look at this, these numbers, in a traditional era, if you were below 50 percent, you would be in trouble as an incumbent. You'd be in serious trouble, if you were any candidate, frankly, going into an election and you were below 50 percent.

But, you know, when he won, he had the data, Gallup -- you know, on election day, the Gallup disapproval rating for him was 61 percent. So, it's hard to know exactly how this is going to play out. Does this mean that he's in trouble or does it not? We don't really know.

COOPER: You know, Governor Dean, I was talking to Catherine Rampell during the break. She was saying one thing to look for is the president is basically now -- we know he's attacking the Fed, the Fed chairman who he himself, you know, liked before he didn't like him, and now feels I guess a sense of betrayal from him. But he's basically undercutting confidence in the Fed. And if the economy gets worse, confidence in the Fed is actually something that's very important to try to maintain.

DEAN: Well, it's interesting. Trump really doesn't understand the economy. What he does is watch the stock market and the stock market doesn't always reflect just the economy.

So -- but one of the things that does affect the stock market greatly is confidence in the Fed. So, interestingly, Trump never could admit he's made a mistake or anything that he did was a problem, so he always has to blame somebody else. He's now blaming somebody most people have never heard of, which I don't think is a terribly effective strategy because you can't demonize and run against the Fed. Nobody knows what the Fed is.

But what's going to happen is if he undercuts the fed enough, the stock market is going to lose confidence in Trump, which they have to a certain degree already because of the Chinese tariffs. So, you know, I think that's probably a losing game for him.

Look, a lot of what Trump does is not calculated in the long term. He doesn't think long term at all. He reacts and he reacts sometimes three or four times in the same day in a different way. And that's why I don't think he's an effective president. But I also don't think he's going to be an effective candidate if we say what we're going to do is positive.

I felt one of the things that Kristen says I think is absolutely right is that people know they don't like Trump, but they have to like us. It's not enough. I mean, one of the reasons Trump won with a terrible rating was that Hillary's numbers were awful, too.

We've got to have somebody whose numbers are pretty good and who people like. That is what's going to beat Trump.

COOPER: Kirsten, when you look at the Democratic candidates, this stage, do any of them know exactly how to run against President Trump? [20:25:05] Because, obviously, a lot of Republicans thought they knew

how to run against him and none of them did.

POWERS: Yes, well, there are different -- there are different schools of thought, right? If you're a Bernie or Elizabeth Warren, you're basically saying, we need to get rid of Trump, but we also need to radically change our economy. We need to change our health care system. We need to have a lot of big changes.

If you're looking at more of a Joe Biden approach, he's sort of saying, let's just go back to normal. Let's go back to the way it was. And I don't think the decision has really been made in the Democratic Party --

DEAN: I agree with that.

POWERS: -- which way is the best way to approach it.

COOPER: Yes, Howard Dean, Governor Dean, appreciate it. Kirsten Powers, thank you very much.

Still to come tonight --

POWERS: Thank you.

COOPER: -- California Governor Gavin Newsom talks about how he's undercut President Trump's attempt to cut pollution on the auto industry, how some in the auto industry are going along with that and how he plans to combat the White House proposal to detain undocumented families indefinitely.


COOPER: The state of California is at odds with the Trump administration again. The two sides battling over emissions standards that the Trump administration recently set for automakers, standard that would all but eliminate regulations enacted under the Obama administration designed to increase fuel efficiency ] and decrease emissions.


Late last month, however, California pushed back against the effort by striking their own deal with at least four of the world's biggest automakers, including Ford that would largely keep the Obama regulations intact. "The New York Times" reports, according to three sources, that the President was enraged by that move.

He's been tweeting that rage as recently as last night saying in part, "Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car that's far less safe and doesn't work as well because execs don't want to fight California regulators. Car companies should know that when this administration's alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin. Only reason California is now talking with them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much bet effort for consumers."

Earlier, I spoke to California Governor Gavin Newsom who has gotten under the President skin on this about his fight against the President on the environment as well as immigration.


COOPER: Governor Newsom, this tweets now from the President about Ford and your state, it's essentially just one out of dozens of attacks that we've seen from the President just over the last couple days. I'm wondering just watching him insult people, try to divide religious groups, reverse course over and over again, what do you think is going on? I mean, do you think something different is going on?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I'll leave that to more objective observers. But there's something that's certainly going on as it relates to the work we're doing here in California. He's losing and we're winning. This is Donald Trump feeling the pressure, the reality is setting in, and he's feeling more and more that he needs to change course but he doesn't know how to move because he can't move off his base.

And it's remarkable, particularly as it relates to the vehicle emissions question, that he is out there making a case that he's helping the automobile manufacturers when they're saying he's doing just the opposite.

COOPER: It seems like -- I mean, certainly in Ford's case and the other, you know, automakers who you have made deals with, that they kind of see the future and they know where the future is going.

The President is now using the argument and the EPA and others are using the argument that what you're doing is actually going to end up killing more people because it will end up with more cars on the road in the future. And that it's going to have very little impact on the environment, which is obviously very hard to or make that argument.

NEWSOM: I mean, it's just -- it's honestly rather pathetic arguments and they fly in the face of reality. There's no objective observers that can make that case. I mean, at the end of the day, you're right, he's arguing against innovation. He's arguing against competitiveness. He's arguing against the future. One thing we all know, if you don't invest in the future, you're not going to do very well there.

And as it relates to automobile manufacturers, they understand where the rest of the world is going, where China is going, where India, Japan are going, where the American consumer is going, and where mother nature is taking us, and that's into a lower carbon, green growth future. And California wants to lead the way in the absence of the President of the United States himself.

COOPER: So, what do you think the reason he is doing this is? I mean is it certainly -- is it personal? Is it political and that he thinks a higher car price perhaps initially because cars that, you know, are electric usually are more expensive, although that will probably change over time. Is it worries about the economy? What is it?

NEWSON: Well, is it the oil companies? I mean, who -- at the end of the day you have to ask yourself not only that question, but who is the only one to really benefit? If the car companies themselves saying, we're not going to benefit, we have to compete globally, we have to compete for the American mind share, meaning where consumers want us to go, which is alternative fuels and less cost at the gas pump.

The only objective way of answering that question is, yes, it's personal because Obama set this rule and he wants to roll back everything the Obama administration achieved as it relates to climate. And number two, it helps the oil companies.

And significantly, by the way, so, by one estimate 320 billion gallons of oil will be consumed. That's the delta between the California rules and where he wants to go. There is no other beneficiary except the oil companies themselves.

COOPER: I also want to ask you about the Trump administration's new proposal to detain undocumented families together indefinitely, which replacing the agreement that set a 20-day -- the Flores Agreement, instead of a 20-day limit for holding children. Your state is obviously already taking measures to push back on the President's immigration policies. Is there anything as a state you can or will do to try to combat the new rule if it goes into effect?

NEWSOM: We're going to join many other states probably as early as next week, and I think we'll file our 58th lawsuit against the administration, and I don't say that proudly.

[20:35:06] The overwhelming majority of that is just protecting the values we hold dear in our state. But this one has national significance. Seven young children have died since Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. Not one died over eight years under President Obama's stewardship.

The family separations happened under this administration. We saw the public charge assault last week, which is family separation by other means, and now here we are detaining some children indefinitely. It's an assault on the Flores decision. Clearly I think it will be rejected by the courts. And the answer to your question is California will once again assert itself in the court of law.

COOPER: Governor Gavin Newsom, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

NEWSOM: Thanks. Thanks for having me.


COOPER: Well, more to come tonight. After the massacre in Dayton, Ohio, the states Republican governor promised reforms, including background checks on most firearm purchases. Coming up next, we'll hear what Governor Mike DeWine says about whether he can keep his promises just as the White House is flip-flopping on their own.


COOPER: President Trump it seems has already backed away from assurances after the mass killings in El Paso and Dayton that he wanted to increase background checks, what he had termed meaningful background checks

He also said he didn't believe the slippery slope argument, which is often used by the NRA to argue against changes in gun laws, but now he says he is concerned about a slippery slope and pointed out so is his base.

[20:40:08] The President made similar statements about strengthening background checks after the Parkland massacre and then walked those back as well. Our Jim Acosta reports the details are thin on exactly what, if anything the White House might propose after Congress returns from break.

In Ohio after the massacre, in Dayton, Republican Governor DeWine has been hearing from those who want action. This is what happened when he spoke at a vigil in Dayton just hours after the killings.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something. Do something.


COOPER: Do something is what some of the crowd were yelling. Governor DeWine has now proposed red flag laws that he supported in the past, increased resources for mental health care, increased penalties for crimes committed with guns and increased background checks for all firearm sales in Ohio with some exception like gifts between family members. Governor DeWine joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us, Governor.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Thank you.

COOPER: How likely is it that the proposals you've put forward might actually pass the state legislature? Because Governor Kasich has, you know, had proposed some of these same things toward the end and they didn't go anywhere.

DEWINE: Anderson, I think we can get them all passed. It's not going to be easy, but when I propose them, you know, the tape you played was on Sunday night. A tragedy, of course, occurred Sunday morning. On Tuesday morning I made proposals, put a package together. Some of these things frankly we've been working on for sometime. But it was time to get them out.

You know, if you take, for example, what you refer to as the red flag law, we like to call it a personal protection order. But what's different between what I have proposed and what Governor Kasich has proposed is we spent about three months working with our Second Amendment friends to try to come up with something that would assure due process, that no one's gun would be yanked away from them except by going into court and proving that they were a danger to themselves or a danger to others.

We think we've got a very good proposal. We think we're going to get good support from our Second Amendment friends on that. And we think we can get it done.

COOPER: I mean, it's been pointed out before. I mean, you're obviously kind of walk -- threading a needle here. You're walking, you know, a fine line between, you know, some sort of action on guns and the concerns of gun owners in your state. Were you disappointed that the President seems to have already backed off of talk of what he termed meaningful background checks?

DEWINE: Let me be real frank, Anderson. You know, I'm really focused on what we can do in Ohio. This morning, Mayor Nan Whaley and I were together. We put together a group of pastors, ministers in Dayton, over 100 of them. We did that so I could explain to them what my proposals were and they're comprehensive.

As you said, they involve a lot of different things. Certainly help with people to identify people who have a mental health problem early, early on, as a key component of that. But we have very good support from that group. And it's a very diverse group. It was every religion, frankly, in the Dayton area. So, we're building a grassroots support.

And I think that, you know, as we explain and people see the actual language and legislators can look at this and see that, look, there is a protection in there. You do have to go to court. The burden is upon the prosecutor to prove that this person is a danger to themselves or danger to others, and to prove the other elements that are in there.

COOPER: Right.

DEWINE: I think people will say, look, that is due process. And I can accept that because --

COOPER: Well, let me ask you --

DEWINE: -- our friends for the Second Amendment, everybody agrees, we have some people out there, Anderson, who we got to separate from their guns. I mean, for their own protection and for the protection of others, I think everybody agrees with that. The question is how we do it.

COOPER: Right. I understand you saying obviously you're the governor of Ohio, you got a lot to focus on. You were a senator, though, and as a citizen of the country, is there something that can only be done at the national level that you would like to see done at the national level?

Because back when you were in the Senate, I think in the 1990s, you supported the assault weapons ban, waiting period at gun shows. I know back then you got an F-rating from the NRA and they now -- they back you in your -- you know, to become governor. They actually endorse you. So you've -- you had an evolution on that. But at the national level, is there something you would like to see done --

DEWINE: Well, I would say --

COOPER: -- that would help you in the state?

DEWINE: I don't know if anything would help us or not help us. I mean, I'm focused on what I can get done here. If you look, though, at issues such as number of rounds allowed or if you look at issues such as what kind of guns are allowed, you know, those -- if they're going to be addressed and they should be addressed that protects people's constitutional rights, but if you're going to address them at all, it seems to me it has to be done at the national level.

[20:45:09] COOPER: Governor DeWine, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DEWINE: Thank you.

COOPER: There is much more ahead. The Amazon rainforest is burning. An unprecedented number of fires have broken out. What it could mean for the world, that's right, the world, next.


COOPER: The Amazon rainforest is burning at record rates and environmentalists say that humans are likely to blame. There have been nearly 73,000 fires in Brazil this year, more than half of those in the Amazon.

After reviewing a satellite data, Brazil Space Agency warns more than one and a half soccer fields of Amazon Rain Forest are being destroyed by the flames every minute of every day. Environmental organizations alleged the wildfires were set by cattle ranchers and loggers emboldened by the country's new president.

[20:50:06] Here's why it matters to all of us. The Amazon produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen. It's often called the planet's lungs. Scientist warns that if the fire has burned to a point of no return, it could plunge our planet even deeper into a climate crisis.

Chris Cuomo joins us now for more in this, and also to look what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Hey, Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You know, first, this is important and we were throwing a curve ball by these fires because the country's leader was making it seem like, well, in the beginning, this is the routine. Every year we have these wildfires. This is what was expected, and obviously that's no longer the case. So the cover just warranted and it's good for you to be setting the table for us on that.

We'll take a look at the science, the potential and what is causing these fires, why are they getting worse. We're going to have Bill Nye talk to us about that. But here's what I'm working on, Coop. During your show, just before it, the CEO of, Patrick Byrne, now -- you know, we're both familiar with him. I did one of his first interviews when he started He told a story about his involvement with the federal government and a Russian spy, that Maria Butina.

COOPER: Right.

CUOMO: That is the wildest story I have ever heard from anybody of any standing in our society, and Overstock is real company. And he has a story of being asked to be involved with her by the federal government, by the FBI. That it's almost too bizarre to not take seriously, so I'm trying very hard to get him to come on the show --


CUOMO: -- to explain.

COOPER: I would definitely want to hear that.

CUOMO: I have never heard anything like what he's saying.

COOPER: All right, we'll see. Chris, thank you. I look forward to it.

Coming up, dancing with the stars, the Fox News Business is booming for President Trump's former press secretaries in "Ridiculist," that's next.


[20:55:31] COOPER: Time not for "The Ridiculist." Tonight, let there be no doubt that big shiny elegant gold-plated opportunities, gorgeous opportunities await those who deceive the country on behalf of President Trump. That's right.

The latest White House alumnus to try to salvage something of a career is Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Now, where can you go after lying repeatedly, daily, hourly? I don't know about hourly, but often.

Sarah Sanders announced today she is boarding Judge Jeanine Pirro's trolley to hell, doot-doot, and joining, trying contain to your shock, Fox News as a contributor. That's right. Sanders should bring her wide range of skills to her new post. That's right, she's a double threat. She goes from stonewalling all the way to lying.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.

SANDERS: If anything quite the contrary --

TRUMP: We're not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days. Do you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks.

SANDERS: And he was simply pushing back and defending himself.

TRUMP: He's walking out like big high fives, smiling, laughing. I would like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you.


COOPER: Yes, I'm going to punch him in the face. I don't think -- he never punched anybody. He's not a tough guy, nor am I. I mean, I wouldn't know what to do, but I don't go around saying, "I'm going to punch him in the face with my hands."

I don't know why I'm talking like that. Trump would have gone to Vietnam, not for those pesky bones spurs. It doesn't have bones spurs in his hands so he could punch with those. He would make a good general according to himself.

But Sarah Sanders, anyway, ready to bring her looking glass over to Fox News, ready to make some magic with all the President's friends. You know his list, the really big stars, Lou Dobbs, Hannity, Grumpy, Sneezy (ph), those guys.

Sanders' announcement came a day after we learned that her predecessor, Sean Spicer, who might be the first "Three Stooges" stunt double ever to become press secretary, I haven't gone confirmation on that. It's just kind of -- it's floating up.

People are talking as the people would say. People have said that. A lot of people are talking about it. You know it. They know it. Sean Spicer is going to be on the new season of "Dancing with the Stars." Oh, yes, one, two, cha, cha, cha. Brace yourself, cha, cha, cha.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Straight from the briefing room is Sean Spicer.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, I was kicked out of band in the sixth grade. And that the quote was, "You have the sense of beat of a steam roller."


COOPER: Delightful, delightful. Grim, just grim. He's come a long way. It seems like, what, 30 years ago that he barge into the press room, yelling about crowd size, setting the tone for glory that was to come.


SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I still don't even know how you get a jacket to do that. I mean, it's like it was actually trying to escape from his body.

By the way, President Trump who reportedly pays little attention to intelligence briefings but apparently does follow "Dancing with the Stars," tweeted his support tonight because he's doesn't -- you know, he's really busy. He's got a lot of things to do, but he was able to tweet his support saying Spicer is "a terrific person who loves our country dearly."

And, oh, yes, if you've been wondering what Sean Spicer has been up to since he got left out of the bushes outside White House, which you probably haven't been wondering, he also had a gig as special correspondent for the frontline of night entertainment shows "Extra."


MARIO LOPEZ, HOST, "EXTRA": Right now from the White House to "Extra" correspondent.

Welcome to "Extra."

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is landing exclusive interviews with the nation's biggest power players.

Do you bring work home?


COOPER: Oh, what a question? Do you bring work home? Spicy. I wonder what the answer was. We're not going to play the answer? I'm going to have to look it up. So, yes, that's what he's been doing apparently. Yes, apparently the middle square in Hollywood Squares. I guess that's not even a thing anymore, he can't even do that.

And I got to say, Mario Lopez, he's lucky he went to "Access Hollywood." I wish him well over there. Sean Spicer, he might Lindy Hop right into an extra anchor gig, I don't know.

Bottom line, work for the government, scam the public, live off the taxpayers and you, too, can get a job on television.

In the meantime, you can catch Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders each doing their version to foxtrot on "The Ridiculist."

And the news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time."

CHRIS: All right, thank you. Funny guy, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."