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Airport Shooting Video; Hollywood Takes on Trump; Trump vs. Intelligence Agencies. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 9, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL BURTON, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: I'm sure he feels like there is more work yet to be done.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. OK.
BURTON: But I think that he and Mrs. Obama are going to enjoy not being in the White House.
BALDWIN: OK. Bill Burton, thank you. Safe travels to Chicago.
BURTON: Thanks, Brooke.
All right. We roll along., hour two. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
Eleven days until Donald Trump's inauguration. Many, many, though, are considering, though, this week the real launch of his presidency. The president-elect has several major events over the course of the next couple of days, including significant confirmation hearings for nine of his Cabinet nominees.
And one, if not the most contention nominee is up first, Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. That happens tomorrow. When you talk to critics, they would tell you that the senator from Alabama has showed racial insensitivities in the past. Certainly, we will be hearing some of that tomorrow.
Looking ahead to Wednesday, Mr. Trump holds his very first news conference in nearly six months. Earlier, he gave a bit of a tease at Trump Tower to the press after meeting with one of China's richest men, Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They are going great. Confirmation is going great. I think they will all pass. I think every nomination will be -- they are at the highest level. Jack was even saying they are at the absolute highest level. I think they are going to do very well.
QUESTION: There has been concern about Jeff Sessions in particular? TRUMP: No. I think he is going to do good. High-quality man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish. He's also the host of CNN's "SMERCONISH.'
Good to see you. I have so many questions for you looking ahead to the next 11 or so days, beginning with, Michael, all these confirmation hearings, of all of them that we are looking at, what do you think will be the most contentious, the biggest fight for them?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that Sessions will be the most interesting, but I'm not prepared to concede it will be the most contentious.
And I will tell you why. It was in 1986 when he was a 39-year-old nominee to a federal judgeship, that his candidacy was unsuccessful in part because Pennsylvania United States Senator Arlen Specter, who was a very close friend of mine, voted against the candidacy of Sessions.
They then became colleagues. And Specter said in a memoir that among his chief regrets as a United States senator was having opposed Sessions, who he came to know as a very decent individual.
And so, Brooke, you have got the records that led to the 1986 unsuccessful candidacy. They are still out there. Did he say racially intemperate words, et cetera, et cetera?
But the people who will be posing those questions to him have now served at his elbow for a number of years. And, by all accounts, he's a very decent guy. So, I don't know that you can look to the Democrats to bring on the fireworks against a colleague.
BALDWIN: OK. OK. So maybe not the most contentious. Let me take you back to the hearings in a second. Flash forward to Wednesday. Trump is holding his first news conference since July. Mark yours -- set your alarm for 11:00 a.m.
We know he called it once upon a time and postponed it to discuss his business and potential conflicts of interest concerns. What, Michael, do you think are the biggest questions he needs to answer and what do you think we will actually get out of him?
SMERCONISH: I don't think -- on the ethics issues and on how he is going to run his business, I don't see any solution, shy of total divestment, which would be the sale of his assets, that would free him of all of the conflicts and entanglements that could then follow.
I mean, each if he says it's a blind trust, it really can't be a blind trust. His name is on it. His children are going to be involved. I just think there are a series of pitfalls that would dog him.
You know, Brooke, it's almost unfair to say to him, you have to sell your assets, because without him being involved, many of them would immediately diminish in value. So there is just not an easy solution. I don't know what he will propose. The question that I'm most interested in hearing him answer...
SMERCONISH: ... is whether he intends to honor the punishments that President Obama has meted out to the Russians.
You know, those three dozen or so diplomats or were they spies that were booted out of the country, is President Trump going to allow them to come in? Will he continue with whatever other measures President Obama initiated? How is he going to handle the Russians pertaining to the hack? That's what I want to know.
BALDWIN: Because he didn't -- after that, after he was briefed on Friday, he still hasn't fully embraced it was in fact Russia who interfered. You know that's going to come up, I'm sure, time and time again on Wednesday.
One other bit that I really wanted to hear you opine on, as you know, we will talk about Meryl Streep in a second and her speech at the Golden Globes. But I wanted to ask you about "The Color Purple," because you have Hillary Clinton, and the former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea, they were in the audience on Broadway last night.
They got three standing ovations. There have been all these comparisons to when vice president-elect Mike Pence showed up to go see "Hamilton." And there he was booed and he got a talking to by the cast. Why? Why do you think this stark difference? And is that fair?
SMERCONISH: Well, why the stark difference is I think the easy question. It's because of the audience is who is on that stage. Is it fair? I don't think it's fair. And you may remember our prior conversation on this.
I didn't like the way that Mike Pence was singled out for a lecture. If you want to cheer somebody, that's fabulous. But here is a guy who presumably was spending his own money to be there to see this hit show, and the way in which the cast at the end of it, you know, singled him out I thought was inappropriate. It violated my time and a place rule. Now you are going to be talking Meryl Streep.
SMERCONISH: I think what she did is more defensible because in that environment we have almost come to expect that the Hollywood elite are going to voice their political sentiments.
It's the start of the season. I would be shocked if there weren't more of this as we head toward the Academy Awards.
BALDWIN: Yes. I think you are right on that. I think you're absolutely right on. Michael Smerconish, love talking you, as always. We watch you on Saturdays here on CNN 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
BALDWIN: Thank you so much.
On the note of Hollywood here, Trump is firing back at Hollywood, blasting Meryl Streep for her scathing speech at the Golden Globe Awards, a known Hillary Clinton supporter. She spoke at the Democratic National Convention last summer -- here she was at the dais in Philadelphia.
Without mentioning his name whatsoever, though through a hoarse voice and fighting back tears, Meryl Streep slammed Trump for his rhetoric and in particular for this moment. This was when -- this was in so many ads -- when he openly mocked a disabled "New York Times" reporter during his campaign, which he disputes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back.
It -- it kind of broke my heart when I saw it. And I still can't get it out of my head, because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was Meryl Streep last night. Here's a triple tweet response from Donald Trump. Let me read it for you.
"Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me, but attacked me last not at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never mocked a disabled reporter, would never do that, but simply showed him groveling when he totally changed a 16-year-old story he had written in order to make me look bad."
Mollie Hemingway, senior editor with "The Federalist," joins me. Wesley Lowery, a reporter with "The Washington Post," is with me as well.
Great to have both of you on.
Mollie, you're up to bat first because you thought Meryl's speech was a dud. Why?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, "THE FEDERALIST": Well, it's this thing that happens when you tune into an awards show and you find that everything gets politicized. So Meryl Streep gave this very empathetic sermon, lecturing Middle America about how awful they are. She said that Hollywood is a victim. They are the most vilified people in the country, as if privileged actors are really people who are victimized.
She made fun of people who watch MMA and football. This is the kind of condescension that I think people are really not pleased with. She also wasn't very empathetic. Much of her words were really lovely talking about the need for empathy, but she wasn't very empathetic in trying to understand why people voted for someone she opposed and didn't vote for her candidate.
BALDWIN: Wesley, how do you feel?
WESLEY LOWERY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think that's certainly true.
I think it's interesting watching the response to this. What is most interesting to me is that the incoming president of the United States decided to get into a Twitter fight with a movie star.
And it's also one thing that is interesting, whether you like Meryl Streep's films or not, this is someone who has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And so this is the incoming president undermining the White House's declaration of Meryl Streep's significance in American culture and American history.
But, look, I think very often when we see celebrities get involved in politics one way or the other, which is certainly their right, the way we all have them, we have a breakdown.
Conservatives dislike it when celebrities say things that disagree with their politics and liberals tend to dislike it when celebrities say conservative things. I think the reaction has been pretty much broken down along those lines.
This is not in any way dissimilar than Scott Baio giving a speech at the RNC. In fact, this is arguably probably even more appropriate than that.
BALDWIN: Let me go back to your point, your point. Mollie, I want to pose that to you, where Wesley points out, listen, this is a president who has gotten into a Twitter fight with a Hollywood actress and also the fact that Patrick Healy with "The New York Times" was able to call up Donald Trump after she had given a speech late, late last night and get a reaction from the president-elect on a speech from the Golden Globes.
What does that say about that?
HEMINGWAY: This is the thing, though.
Donald Trump is partly liked because people enjoy that he does fight back when people say things about him. He was -- you know, this has been a big story about him mocking a disabled reporter. It is actually more complicated than it has been presented by many people in the media. He absolutely did mock the reporter. Not true that he mocked him for his disability.
He used a motion that he used on Ted Cruz and on an Army general who he was also mocking. There is a way to criticize Donald Trump as being rude, not upholding certain norms without going overboard. I think that really bothers Donald Trump that he has been portrayed as someone who mocks someone for a disability and I think the media haven't actually done a great job of explaining what was going on with that particular incident.
BALDWIN: I think you are totally right that half of America loves the fact that he sticks up for himself. But the other half totally think it's ridiculous. The question is -- let me just pose this.
We know Friday night when it comes to celebrities in Hollywood, we right, know that President Obama had this mega A-list celebrity party. You name it, they were there. You saw video of people streaming out of the White House at 4:00 in the morning.
You know, Wesley, Trump didn't have any of that. You mentioned Scott Baio. That was his A-list bling-a-ling. And he won. He won. Does it matter if Hollywood is in your corner if you are president?
LOWERY: I mean, I certainly think that presidents of both parties have sought that. I mean, we have seen similar galas and parties like that when the Reagans were in the White House. Right? It's not true that only Democrats seek this, although what we do know is that Hollywood seems to tend liberal and has historically. Right.
It's unsurprising I guess that Barack Obama has had much more support and Hillary Clinton as well from Hollywood and the Hollywood left than Republicans have. But does it matter?
BALDWIN: It's cool, but does it matter?
LOWERY: Perhaps in fund-raising certainly. But also I mean, Hollywood does set some of our cultural norms and societal norms. Right? People do, you know, take in what they see on the screen, whether the big screen or the small screen. Right?
And so I do think the politics of Hollywood matters insofar as it influences the rest of society. But do I necessarily think that it matters that Meryl Streep dislikes Donald Trump or sees him to be objectionable? Probably not.
But that said, what obligation -- if Meryl Streep really does believe that this person is beneath the presidency, right, if she believes that Donald Trump is behaving in a way that the president should not, what is her obligation as an American to speak out the way that everyone else is?
Right? I think we very often get very upset when celebrities speak their minds. But I think we should remember they have the same First Amendment protections we do. If she believes as she stated this was so objectionable, then at what point does she have an obligation to use her platform to say something?
BALDWIN: We know lots of celebrities will be in Washington that Saturday that inauguration.
Go ahead, Mollie, final thought.
HEMINGWAY: It's also true that Hollywood has a little bit of a problem with not enough diversity of voices.
There just is -- they are way too many people who also represent the same ideas about everything and it's a problem for Hollywood. It should reflect American society. It should draw from all parts of American society. It is not doing that right now.
BALDWIN: Mollie Hemingway, Wesley Lowery, thank you both very much.
Still to come here on CNN, even though Mr. Trump still has not acknowledged that Russia tried to meddle in the election, my next guest explores the possibility that Trump is playing Putin, not the other way around.
Plus, Trump's team boots the inauguration announcer. This is a man who has been doing this for decades, for the last 11 presidents. He joins me live on how heartbroken he is.
A massive manhunt is under way for a man accused of killing an officer in Orlando, a wife and mother of two. The emotional message from her colleagues -- next.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Both WikiLeaks and the Kremlin slamming the U.S. intelligence report that concluded Russia hacked the U.S. election in order to help elect Donald Trump.
A Russian spokesperson echoing the words of Donald Trump, calling the report a -- quote, unquote -- "full-scale witch-hunt." You have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calling it "embarrassing" to the repudiation of U.S. intelligence services.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: It does not have the structure of an intelligence report. It does not have the structure of a presidential daily brief.
It is clearly designed for political effect and U.S. intelligence services have been politicized by the Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Joining me now, David Andelman, editor emeritus at "The World Policy Journal," CNN contributor and columnist at "USA Today," also, John Rizzo, former general counsel to the CIA and the author of "Company Man: 30 Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA."
The backdrop to all of this, Donald Trump is still in a battle with his own country's intelligence chiefs, still refusing to condemn four days after his briefing a declassified report which definitively points its finger at Vladimir Putin.
John, to you, how dangerous is this refusal?
JOHN RIZZO, FORMER CIA COUNSEL: It's disconcerting, Brooke.
For the life of me, I don't understand why this is so hard for him to acknowledge and accept the unanimous findings of what will be his intelligence community. I just keep -- I continue to hold out hope that once he gets in the Oval Office, once he has his own people at the heads of these intelligence agencies, he will come around.
But, as I say, I just find it puzzling that he can't seem to bring himself to accept what is a clear and strong consensus.
BALDWIN: He can't. He can't, so far.
David, we know that Trump tweeted this -- quote -- "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not bad thing. Only stupid people or fools will think that is bad."
You wrote this piece on CNN.com, where essentially you are saying if Trump and the team were to turn the tables, could put Putin at a disadvantage. Explain how.
DAVID ANDELMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Both want the same thing, basically. They want respect.
Each wants respect not only from the other, but from a broader community that we can make -- that Trump can make use of. If Trump is officially -- we know he is a great negotiator. We have seen the deals he has negotiated.
If he can do that, if he can use this desire by Putin for respect, I think he can get a lot of things from him. Putin has many chinks in his armor. He is in desperate financial trouble at home. He has an election for reelection coming up next year, believe it or not. He does not want the same kinds of demonstrations that he said Hillary Clinton had basically ginned up for his last election campaign.
So, really, Trump has points of real pressure on Putin.
BALDWIN: He has leverage is what you are pointing out.
ANDELMAN: He has leverage, exactly.
And that's what -- that's very important to understand, because we have so many things we want from the Russians. We want the Russians to let us back into the Middle East, believe it or not, where we should be. But they have just basically shoved us to the periphery. He can make use of all of this very effectively if he uses it adroitly.
BALDWIN: John, what do you think, the leverage that David talks about, about using it adroitly and effectively? Do you buy that notion? And can it happen?
RIZZO: Well, I mean, it's possible. And I certainly hope David is right. Of course, we need to keep in mind who he is up against here, a ruthless career amoral KGB master of the black arts.
BALDWIN: That's one way to say it.
RIZZO: This is not a man I think that be easily played. But hope springs eternal, I suppose.
BALDWIN: We know looking at the past two presidents, both Bush 43 and Obama, they have taken office with hopes of friendlier Russian relations. Both saw the hopes dashed by conflicts with Putin.
What do you, David, see, if, you know, this isn't handled adroitly, to use your word, and then things turn sour? What would that look like with U.S./Russia relations?
ANDELMAN: Oh, I think we could go back, right back to where we were before. There is no doubt about that.
The problem is, the sanctions are a critical component of that, though. If Trump decides and lifts these sanctions, that is a road that may not be reversible, because, remember, we are tied into those sanctions with the West Europeans who in June will have to come up and renew themselves sanctions on Russia.
If we can't control our sanctions regime, if we take -- begin to lift that up, then everything could become unraveled and in fact Trump may use that negotiating -- that leverage, as you so rightly put it.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.
David and John, thank you both so much. I appreciate it.
Coming up next, chilling video from inside the Fort Lauderdale Airport as a gunman opens fire and kills five people. We will be right back.
BALDWIN: The man accused of killing five people inside a Florida airport made his first appearance in court today under heavy security. This 26-year-old Iraq War veteran went before a federal judge to hear
the three charges against him. Two of them could result in the death penalty. We have this as we also look at this. This is new surveillance video.
You see him pulling out that gun out of his waistband with his right hand. This is courtesy of TMZ. And just opening fire inside the airport there on Friday at baggage claim.
Boris Sanchez was there. He is now at federal court or an airport, it looks like. Boris Sanchez, what did the suspect say?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He didn't say much, Brooke.
He walked into court wearing a red jumpsuit, looked around and then mostly after he sat at the defense table kept his head bowed. He really didn't say much during the whole proceeding this morning.
The judge at first asked him if he understood his rights, asked him if he knew that he could remain silent through the process. He said that he did understand. And then she read the charges against him, three charges, two of which you mentioned carry a potential maximum penalty of capital punishment.
She asked if he understood that. And he said yes. And then they moved into the process of appointing him an attorney.