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AT THIS HOUR

Forty Three Killed In Protests As U.S. Embassy Opens In Jerusalem; New U.S. Embassy Opens In Jerusalem; U.S. Delegation Attends Embassy Opening; Still No Apology From White House Aide For Joke About McCain Dying; Trump Vows To Help Save Jobs In China. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 14, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- a fascinating piece. Brian Stelter, thank you very much. Nice to have you here. Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan begins right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We begin this hour in the Middle East where history is being made and where the dream of peace once again appears elusive. In Jerusalem, a moment of triumph as U.S. and Israeli officials celebrate the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem at the same time in Gaza the violent reaction that move is fueling.

Palestinian officials say Israel's military has killed at least 43 people and wounded 1,600 more. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious, the plain reality that Israel's capital is Jerusalem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was President Trump celebrating the embassy move, via video this morning. Long promised by many a president. President Trump first to follow through. On hand for the unveiling of the embassy is the president's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give, so that all people can live in peace, safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams. Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: A lot to cover here. CNN's Elise Labott is inside the new embassy. Ian Lee is following the violence in Gaza. Ian, let's begin with you. You've been there following all of it. What are you seeing there now?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is the deadliest day in the past seven weeks of protests with 43 people being killed. You know, this is the deadliest day since the 2014 war here in Gaza, and it was easy to see why.

Let me just show you something actually to show you why. We have a drone right here, this drone is likely -- there you go, you can see the tear gas that is falling down. It is falling down into the camp, and this has created that chaos that I was talking about.

And if you -- I don't know if you can hear it, but you can hear the pops, those are people trying to shoot down the drone. This has been kind of -- this has been happening all day, we see a drone come in, drop tear gas and go back.

These are people who have been trying to actually push closer to the border. The border down there that -- that fence, and they have been gathering here, tens of thousands of people at camps like this one all up and down the border.

And just down there, you can see possibly those dirt mounds. That's where the fence is. That's where these people say that they want to try to cross that fence. Israel says that they're just not going to allow that to happen.

And you get incidents where you do have them tear gassing the protesters, trying to push them back, trying to disperse them, also using live ammunition. Earlier in the day, we heard heavy automatic gunfire, just north of our position. And just south of our position, we heard what sounded like heavy artillery.

And then in the north we saw at least two air strikes with Israeli military saying they're going after five Hamas positions. So, that just kind of sums up the atmosphere of this deadly day.

When you have just tens of thousands of people with one goal in mind, trying to cross that border and Israelis saying they're not going to allow that to happen. You know, Kate, this is one of the bloody days. Tomorrow we're expecting a similar sort of protest.

BOLDUAN: Ian Lee in Gaza for us. Ian, thank you very much for that. Let's go over to Jerusalem now and Elise, it continues to be a study in contrast, the violence in Gaza and the great deal of fanfare and celebration that really just wrapped up just moments -- in the big moment in Jerusalem.

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. As much as it is a crushing blow for Palestinians who feel that the U.S. has really not only disrespected the Palestinian people, but also its traditional decades long role as peacemaker and honest broker of the Middle East peace process. Here in the embassy compound in Jerusalem, the Israelis are jubilant, emotional that after 70 years the U.S., its closest ally, has finally recognized Jerusalem as their capital. We heard as you said from President Trump, Jared Kushner who was really the keynote speaker, and received such a standing ovation, the name of all U.S. officials, John Bolton, Nikki Haley, neither of whom were here, but received standing ovations.

This is a really, I think, kind of solidified the bond between U.S. and Israel and these administrations of Netanyahu and President Trump, even though the U.S. and Israel have traditionally been the closest of allies.

[11:05:03] Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu who said we have no better friend than the United States, and he certainly didn't think that under President Obama.

BOLDUAN: That close relationship has always -- has long been there, but today between these two administrations, never stronger for sure when you see this move of the embassy. Elise, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Great to see you.

Joining me now to discuss this very big moment, Kimberly Dozier is here. She is a CNN global affairs analyst, Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Great to have you both here. Kim, if today is day one of a new reality with regard to peace, what is the new reality?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The new reality is the Trump administration has said to the Palestinians, you took too long, you had opportunities, and now you've lost something that was a potential prize.

The pressure is only going to get worse from here in terms of the pressure of Hamas on the Palestinian Authority. Administration officials I've spoken to hope that this high-stakes moment will actually convince the Palestinian Authority that this is their opportunity to get something.

But, of course, Mahmoud Abbas has said he won't come back to the table unless some portion of East Jerusalem is on the table. And I can't get an answer from the White House on whether East Jerusalem, some part of the neighborhoods could be part of a future Palestinian capital, and possibly they're keeping that question mark out there to increase the pressure on the Palestinians.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting. Jon, many presidents have promised to move the embassy in the past, promised and then citing national security concerns do not do it. Is anything different today with regard to the concern over national security or is it just because President Trump wanted to do it?

JON ALTERMAN, SENIOR VP, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think he wanted to do it. The president thinks that experts are full of hot air and said people said this would be a disaster and says, look, it hasn't been a disaster, there hasn't been the kind of blowback in the Arab world and in the broader Muslim world that people projected.

And I think he used the same logic to support pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. There had been a game between presidents in Congress where Congress would do a politically popular thing and talk about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

And the president always said, well, not right now, and I think this president has been bent on showing that he's not going to play the old games and he's not going to be bound by the conventional wisdom.

BOLDUAN: Kim, for decades, the United States has sought to portray itself as the, quote/unquote, "honest broker" between -- in any peace negotiation and in any peace deal. After today, can the United States stand behind that?

DOZIER: I think already some of the reaction from the Arab world is showing this is going to be a slow burn that ultimately hurts Washington's reputation overseas. We have seen the head cleric in Egypt denounce it.

I think what it is doing is fulfilling some of the worst fears of the Arab world about this administration, and the U.S. writ large and that while that won't in the next month perhaps produce violence, it is affecting this generation.

Conversely what Trump administration officials will tell you is that now that we have given the thing that Israel most wanted, we can play hard ball on other aspects of the peace process, like how many settlements need to be removed and given back in terms of Palestinian territory.

BOLDUAN: Really, flipping the script, if you will, or changing the strategy, and that's an important thing here, possibly, Jon, the issue of Jerusalem, of course, has been such a tough issue, so tough an issue that negotiators have long left it to be the question in the final stages of any peace deal.

As Kim is laying out, they've now put that out there so quickly. If they are flipping the script on this, do you think it -- do you leave open the possibility at all that it could work, try something completely different? It sounds very similar to North Korea, the approach of North Korea.

ALTERMAN: I don't think that Jerusalem was so hard, so much as Jerusalem is considered to be the biggest prize. You want to give it away too early. I think what the president has done is in many ways he made a preemptive concession in order to change the climate rather than holding it to the end.

The question is whether the president really intends to deeply engage, whether he intends to really deeply pressure the Israelis, I honestly don't see any sign of that whatsoever. I think the president used this as an opportunity to say, the conventional wisdom doesn't matter.

And we're going to move forward, everybody understands that Israel is the capital, where the prime minister is, we keep driving up the hill, we're going to recognize the capital. I think the cause of Arab- Israeli peace has definitely been sent back while Arab governments remain very close to the Trump administration. Arab populations, as Kim suggested, are becoming increasingly estranged.

[11:10:06] BOLDUAN: Let me play for you what the president's new national security adviser, John Bolton, has said about the move just yesterday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It is a recognition of reality, if you're not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that's where the American embassy should be, then you're operating on a completely different wave length. I think recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Jon, do you see that? I mean, that last bit is important part of the discussion, you're hitting on it just a bit, but recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace.

ALTERMAN: It does. There is some ambiguity with Israel. Certainly, the Mossad is based in Tel Aviv. The Defense Ministry is based in Tel Aviv. There are a lot of Israeli institutions that deal a lot with the United States.

BOLDUAN: And the U.S. ambassador to Israel will split his time between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

ALTERMAN: And the fact is my friends who have been the U.S. ambassadors have split their time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The question is, if you're making this change, do you get anything for it.

And I think the Trump administration so far has not shown any signs that it has gotten anything tangible that it really wanted from the Israeli government for doing this. The Obama administration didn't have much to show for its hard ball policy.

But I'm not sure that a policy that is more accommodating of Israel has given the Trump administration much more if anything at all.

BOLDUAN: Stand by and just say let's see. Kim, great to see you. John, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, Senator John McCain gets mocked by a White House staffer, but the White House says the big problem here is the leaks to the press.

Plus, why is President Trump trying to save a Chinese company that violated U.S. sanctions? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:15:56] BOLDUAN: Sorry, not sorry. That seems to be the message from the White House this morning after the White House communications aide promised John McCain's daughter she would apologize publicly for the crude joke mocking the senator's health last week.

That apology, nowhere to be found, and don't hold your breath, but now some of John McCain's Senate colleagues say they would like to hear something, anything, honestly from the White House and the president on this now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's pretty disgusting thing to say, if it was a joke, it was a terrible joke. I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate. Somebody in my office said it is such a thing about somebody, I would apologize on behalf of the office.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It is beyond my comprehension. It is one thing in the White House that somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful of an American hero. It is another thing for them not to apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Here with me right now, former Republican nominee for governor, governor of New York, Rob Astorino, and CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin. Gentlemen, thank you for being here.

Rob, where do you land on this? Does the president need to speak about this? Kelly Sadler works in the communications office. She makes a joke that clearly has been confirmed now that John McCain's opinion doesn't matter because he's, quote/unquote, "dying anyway" and now nothing.

ROB ASTORINO, FORMER WESTCHESTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE: A couple of things, first of all, I cannot believe this is day five of this conversation. I can't believe that because this is a midlevel White House staffer, who said something in private which leaked, that's a whole separate issue which we discussed and should discuss, I don't know why this stuff is getting out.

But she did apologize to McCain's daughter and I think that should almost be it. The White House should have said something on Thursday or Friday and this would be a nonstory after day two or three or would it because the Democrats are still pushing this, which means those in the media and others keep pushing it because it is an easy one. But I think everyone here should just take a pause.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is Lindsey Graham a Democrat?

BOLDUAN: Last time I checked, no.

BOYKIN: Is Lindsey Graham a Republican from South Carolina, was just on television a moment ago saying that John McCain -- saying that the offense to John McCain was so bad that the Trump White House should apologize. He is not a Democrat.

This is not about partisan politics. This is about right and wrong. This comes in the very week after Melania Trump begins her "Be Best" campaign to stop bullying and the White House is the chief purveyor of bullying in this country. The White House under the Trump administration refuses to apologize for an insulting and attack against John McCain as a war hero.

ASTORINO: OK, but if everyone in Washington had to apologize or step down as some are saying for an insensitive comment, there would be nobody left in Washington, D.C. Joe Biden, by the way, Joe Biden of all people pushing this, with all the insensitive remarks he said in the past --

BOLDUAN: Let's stay here, though. Maybe, maybe there would be no aides anywhere to work for anyone in the Congress. So, what? Isn't there a line between right and wrong?

ASTORINO: But she also apologized to whom she should have apologized to.

BOYKIN: She lied and said she was going to apologize, which she did not do.

ASTORINO: It's not maybe her call.

BOYKIN: That's even worse. If it is not her call, that's even worse. That means that the Trump administration are telling her not to apologize, which is consistent with the philosophy of Donald Trump who didn't apologize for five and a half years of lying about Barack Obama's birth certificate, and still hasn't apologized to John McCain for denying he was a war hero because he was captured.

BOLDUAN: But it's what Keith is laying out right here, why -- you said, this could be -- this should be a nonstory and it could be as easy as that. As someone on your staff, makes an egregious mistake, forget fire or not, say something.

ASTORINO: I agree. I think John McCain --

BOLDUAN: Where does the buck stop?

ASTORINO: I think John McCain is an American hero. I like him personally. He's been good to me personally. However, everyone is a big boy in Washington, D.C. and, you know what, this is something that again whether there was apology or not, this has become such a stupid story at this point and I don't see why it is continuing. It is continuing for political reasons.

BOYKIN: The White House spent five days talking about Michelle Woolf telling a joke or two at the expense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump officials --

[11:20:07] BOLDUAN: It is an interesting point because some of the very same people, it is quite odd, some of the same people who are -- some of the same people running to Sarah Sanders' defense, criticizing the joke that was made about Sarah Sanders, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, are now essentially saying this joke isn't a big deal.

I mean, Matt Schlapp, who is someone close to the White House. He is the head of CPAC, of course, he said today that he thinks Kelly Sadler, the aide, is a little bit of a victim here.

ASTORINO: Look, let's stop the whole victimhood. It was an insensitive comment. Can we stop going Defcon 5 on this, please? Let's pretend there is no apology. Will we go on with the story for three weeks, four weeks?

BOLDUAN: Don't hand me we're not covering other important things because you know we are. Let's talk about the issue of leaks, though. Here is Mick Mulvaney.

BOYKIN: That's a big issue.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about it then. You deemed it a big issue. Here is Mick Mulvaney. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: You have to have freedom to speak in a private meeting. We all have said things in private, in smaller groups we work with, that we would never say publicly. I think she handled it appropriately. I'm disappointed that someone would undermine the president by leaking that out of a private meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Keith, does Mick Mulvaney have a point in regard to, you worked in the White House. People should be able to speak freely within a White House meeting and not have a fear that everything will get leaked out?

BOYKIN: Yes. I saw things that people said when I worked in the Clinton White House I thought were offensive and never disclosed some of them. Some things that probably had been leaked, people would be upset about them. At the same time, people should still be held accountable.

I privately discuss my concerns with the people who said those things when I was in the White House. And I think that when this happens, and people do find out about it, it should be discussed.

But, there is a bigger issue here than just the leak issue, it is about the statement and mentality and temperament. This is a conversation that came in the context of terrorism by the way of using -- of using torture to stop people who are --

BOLDUAN: How about we have a final second? Isn't it also talking about culture, the president can't apologize for someone who works for him, but also does the president create the culture that allows for so many people to leak about a problem like this?

ASTORINO: I don't think so. I know Kelly Sadler. I think she is a good person. If she said something like this, you know, I think it was meant in jest as everyone said it was. How many times have we been in meetings here in CNN in the green room when we say something silly --

BOLDUAN: Don't what about it.

BOYKIN: The White House should be held to a higher standard than you and I in the green room, I would assume.

BOLDUAN: Leaks aren't a big deal unless they hurt you. Jokes aren't a big deal unless they again someone that you like. That's where we today.

ASTORINO: Sticks and stones. Would be a better country if we let it all wipe off our backs.

BOLDUAN: Who is supposed to be held to a higher standard? Nobody? We can all get in the dirt, rub around in it, even the president and --

ASTORINO: Every administration --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Like the same issue when it comes to the sexual harassment and everything going on Capitol Hill. If every politician had to apologize for, you know, sexual harassment, there would be no one working in Congress. Who cares? Start somewhere.

BOYKKIN: Start from the top.

BOLDUAN: I'm going now. I don't feel like eating fish now. Rob, Keith, thank you.

Coming up, he promised to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. That is actually a direct quote. Why is President Trump trying to help save jobs in China? Is that what he meant the whole time? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:28:00]

BOLDUAN: If there was one consistent policy theme for Donald Trump during the campaign, it was at least one of them was promising to stand up to China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: China has taken our jobs, our money, our base, our manufacturing. What they have done to us is the greatest single theft in the history of the world. We can't continue to allow China to rape our country and that's what they're doing. The greatest abuser in the history of this country. A currency manipulator. Rampant theft of intellectual property. They break the rules in every way imaginable.

We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. The days of the United States being taken advantage of are over. They have really done a number on this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So many examples. But since taking office, President Trump has been singing something of a different -- a new tune towards China. But nothing like this before. The surprise tweet about a Chinese telecom company, ZTE, here is the tweet.

"President Xi of China and I are working together to give massive Chinese phone company ZTE a way to get back into business fast. Too many jobs in China lost, Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done.

The only problem here is his Commerce Department just slapped crippling sanctions on that very company, ZTE. Punishment for violating trade restrictions on Iran and North Korea and lying about it.

The Pentagon also has problems with this very company, even banning the sale of its phones from U.S. military bases. So what real-world impact is the president's tweet going to have and why the about face now or like every day?

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at White House with much more on this. Jeremy, what are you hearing over there about this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Kate, I think you're right. You know, we have seen the president comment before, tweet before to try to save U.S. jobs. This is the first time that we have seen him appear to step in to try to save Chinese jobs.

The president with his tweet appearing to try to save this Chinese telecommunications giant, ZTE, from some financial troubles. The ZTE said last week that it was halting major operating activities after the Commerce Department --