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FBI had looked at a conversation that Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador; The women's march in Washington began the women's march around the world; President Trump pulled out a TPP; Aired 3:30-4:00p ET

Aired January 24, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:02] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Comey (INAUDIBLE) during the presidential election. Some Democrats believe he is to blame ultimately for Hillary Clinton's loss.

With me now our justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

You know, first of all, this given the exchange in Trump's words there in the room was note-worthy, but is Comey staying on - is that a huge surprise?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can look at it one in two ways. In one way, Brooke, it's not a surprise given the FBI director have a tenure. And he is only a few years into it, but his position, he could be removed from his position by the president. And leading up to this point Trump -- President Trump, I should say, has really left his future hanging in the balance.

During that campaign he criticized had director Comey for not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton. And then in November, he told (INAUDIBLE) during a 60-minute interview that he wasn't really sure about director Comey. Hadn't really made up his mind about what he is going to do about it. And as we know, director Comey has been at the center of controversy with that letter that he sent out right before the election essentially reopening the Clinton investigation. And then we learned that the inspector general of the department of justice will be investigating his actions about - over the Clinton email prior to the election.

But now we are hearing that Donald Trump did have a conversation with director Comey in recent days where he said he wanted him to stay on board at the FBI. And director Comey accepted which is also interesting in lie to the fact that that means he will remain at the helm of the FBI at the time when the FBI, Brooke, is looking at Trump and their potential ties to Russia.

BALDWIN: Talk to me more about that about how they are just quickly - we heard Sean Spicer addressed this yesterday specifically into his national security adviser general Flynn?

BROWN: Yes. So we learned from my colleague Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto that the FBI had looked at a conversation that Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador. They apparently talked about several items, including logistics - talk between Putin and Trump according to Sean Spicer. The FBI looked at this call and it was flagged to them because of the Russian ambassador not unusual to have eyes on it and eyes on communications of foreign officials such as the Russian ambassador.

But apparently, there was some content in that call that had raised a flag. But there's no indication of wrong doing for Michael Flynn. But still he is one person out of several of Trump's associates that the FBI has been looking at for some time with potential ties to Russia. And as pointed out director Comey will stay at the helm of the FBI during all of this -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. Pamela, thank you so much on Comey and FBI.


BALDWIN: Next, the organizers of the women's march today meeting today to discuss what is next after their historic event on Saturday. We will discuss their plans to keep this moment turning into some momentum moving ahead.


[15:37:16] BALDWIN: More than a million women the first mass demonstration that reached all seven continents. The women's march in Washington began the women's march around the world. But the question how lingering after possibly the largest protest in history, what's next?

I was in Washington. I spoke to some of the organizers, musicians, actors backstage. They told me why they wanted to be there and what comes next.


BALDWIN: What is it mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not saints. We are not (INAUDIBLE). We are just women.

BALDWIN: What do you want from this?

BOB BLAND, CO-CHAIR, WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON: Well, we want for our elected officials here and in our states and at home to know that we will not allow our rights to be rolled back. We will not be silenced. And the voice of the women is powerful.

BALDWIN: What's the one issue where you would think, OK, I don't have to show up for another women's march in Washington in another year because this happened?

AMERICA FERRERA, ACTRESS: It's dignity. I mean, my issue and my cause is human dignity.

PATRICIA ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: We are 60 percent of the population now in the United States so it's important to actually address our needs now. SOPHIA BUSH, ACTRESS: All of these people who have showed up here

today are committed to doing better and being better. And if the president doesn't take notice of that we will elect someone better. Their voting restrictions and their trickery, like we see behind the veil. It doesn't last forever.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: The stuff that has come out of that man's mouth in the last year it's not OK for the president of the United States. I want someone in White House who can help me find my higher self and live from there.

BALDWIN: OK. But he is our president for the next four years.

FALCO: I am struggling with that.

BUSH: You are outnumbered, man. Support us. Be our leader. Don't do favors for your billionaire friends.

BALDWIN: What are you most afraid of?

BLAND: I'm afraid to have bigotry, the misogyny, the racism that we experienced during the election cycle being normalize in our society. We cannot allow our democracy to be distorted in that way.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: The reality is Donald Trump is president. And bad things happen. I think this is the bad thing. But they don't define you. What defines you is how you choose to respond to that.

SEN. KRISTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I hope women know how important their vote is and their voices and they will fight for that. And we will have a woman president someday. We will absolutely have a woman president someday. But we have to fight for it and make sure our values are represented every step of the way.

JACKIE CRUZ, ACTRESS: This is for everyone who believes in like the right thing. And there are not just women here, there are men supporting us. That's what we need.

BALDWIN: What hope do you feel moving forward?

CHER, SINGER/ACTRESS: I feel if we stay united there is many groups that you can join. There's many ways you can keep making them hear your voice and all I pray for is that women stay united.


[15:40:08] BALDWIN: So you heard all those voices from the different women there. It was that just a moment or will it turn into a movement? Organizers say they are already planning their next move, one possibility you could run for office.

Our senior Washington correspondent Brianna Keilar has more on, you know, these march organizers, and I talked to a couple them over the weekend, you know. How do they push this forward? What do they have in mind? BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, you

talked to two of the four co-chairs of the march there, Brooke. And actually they met today. They had a meeting today. They are being pretty tight-lipped about it. But what they were doing was looking back doing a bit of a debrief about what happened on Saturday. Certainly from their point of view it was a huge success. And they are trying to build on this. And one of the things they said was they said this was a historic day. And they also said that they are going to continue to reveal new information as the co-chairs and national organizers continue to develop next steps for this movement.

The first thing they are doing is trying to galvanize people through social media doing this thing called ten actions for the first 100 days. So every ten days, they unveil something new. The first action that they are doing has to do with sending out postcards that they are urging people to either make but they have also made their own for the organization that people can use and send to senators.

The question, of course is, is that enough? Is that going to allow these organizers to do something that isn't just a moment where we saw so many people represented across the country and across the globe, but are they going to be able to channel people into those things that you were talking about?

They want people to run for office. They want people to get involved with causes. There were a number of them who partnered with the march, everything from Planned Parenthood to natural resource defense council, but these are professional, social activist. These are women who have organized on behalf of other things. And they are hoping that they can take that and they take these grassroots interest and channel people in that direction.

BALDWIN: And move it forward. The ten things, you can just go to their website. I went to it over the weekend, just for follow-up. And you are right. They have the postcards for you, just to send in to your members of the Congress. And we will check back in every ten days to see where this thing goes.

Brianna Keilar, thank you very much, my friend. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, President Trump pulled out a TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, leaving the door open for China to take the leadership role on trade. What does it mean for America and U.S. jobs and companies?

Also, we are watching the breaking story that came out of the briefing just a little while ago with White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying that President Trump still believes that millions of people voted illegally in this election. Where is the proof? What does that say about under mining democracy? That's coming up too.


[15:46:42] BALDWIN: No TTP. This was a central pitch for candidate Trump who argued that the Transit and partnership trade deal was harmful to American workers and the American manufacturing. And now, just in his first couple of days as president, he has made good on his promise to unravel it. Mr. Trump signed an executive order to withdraw from President Obama's signature trade deal. It now may open the door for China to fill that void.

CNN's Andrew Stevens explains how.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The transpacific partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN MONEY ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: All it took was the stroke of a pen for Donald Trump to kill off the TPP in its current form, a deal that had been seven years in the making.

It was built as a new kind of trade pact. One that gave the U.S. a leadership role in Asia cementing Barack Obama's specific pivot to the region. That role now looks like it has been gifted to China which is ramping up plans for a new multi-country trade deal that does not include the U.S.

It is the regional comprehensive economic partnership or RCEP. It's made up of 16 countries. The ten members of ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. It covers about 30 percent of global GDP compared with the 40 percent for the TPP.

RCEP would also account for about a quarter of global trade. It's a fairly standard trade deal, slash of tariffs and trade barriers among them, the country, so trade can move freely.

So not a lot different from the TPP you might think. But you would be wrong. There are important differences, key differences between these two policies. The TPP was a lot more than just cutting trade barriers. It included protections of the workers' rights, environmental standards and intellectual property rights. None of those are included in the RCEP.

Barack Obama called the TPP a chance for America to write the trade rules for the 21st century. Donald Trump is using a very different playbook. Under his plans to make America great again, he could be handing China a key role in setting future trade standards in the most dynamic economic region of the world.

Andrew Stevens, CNN Hong Kong.


BALDWIN: Let's talk TPP with New York University professor Ann Lee. She is an internationally recognize leading authority on China's economic relations and author of "what the U.S. can learn from China."

Anne, welcome.

ANN LEE, AUTHOR, WHAT THE U.S. CAN LEARN FROM CHINA: Thanks for having me. BALDWIN: I always think it's always important to remind everyone, you

know, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, they were all at one on how they felt about TPP. Now he is, you know, done this executive action. But for the U.S. companies, U.S. jobs that relied on business in Asia, how would that affect them?

LEE: It's going affect them differently. So TPP basically was not so much a trade deal as a deal that was going to harmonize regulation and sort of set different standards like around intellectual property. And so, this would actually make it easier for some countries to move their operations offshore to hire cheaper workers to bypass regulations of other countries in order to make their manufacturing of goods cheaper.

Trump is basically trying to revert back to a very traditional definition of trade, which is everything is going to be made in the U.S. And then you export out to other countries as opposed to having trade be outsourcing to other countries, which has been the case in the last couple decades. And so by getting rid of TPP, he is more or less signaling to these companies that no, we are going to go back to the original definition of trade.

[15:50:44] BALDWIN: America first.

LEE: Exactly, where you are going to just create the job and then trade with China or anyone else by exporting them to develop products, the full thing.

BALDWIN: So then, would it be possible then - it wouldn't Chine benefit from turf that maybe wasn't there as initially in business? TPP is gone. Would that help them?

LEE: Yes. So, China is actually trying to push their own version of TPP in the Asia-Pacific region, right, which is called RCEP. And they have been negotiating this for many years, too. And it looks like they are now going to be closer to getting that done now that TPP is dead in the water.

China certainly has been saying that they want to have more open borders, more free trade. This was coming out of the speech at Davos where he identified that the problems with the current economic order is problematic, just like Trump has identified the same problems of inequality and of it not benefiting everyone.

But China's answer is, we need to just take down more barriers across borders, not try to erect protectionist barriers and keeping things in-house. So China, on the other hand, is trying to move their manufacturing to other countries like Africa and other places, whereas we are trying to bring everything back.

BALDWIN: Which, you know, if you're sitting and watching in America, and this whole, you know, America first, you know, really resonates with a lot of people whether you voted for the man or not. That's something that I think could really be a unifying factor in this country. What's wrong with that? LEE: Nothing's so wrong with it in that you want to know if it's

going to have unintended consequences down the road. So, what China basically was saying is that we don't mind if we manufacture things elsewhere, because the real kahuna is to drive innovation because you're going to create new jobs.

BALDWIN: Better business.

LEE: Better jobs for your people if you offshore stuff that is low value add. And, so, they actually are not afraid of low-cost manufacturing jobs leaving China at all. In fact, you know, this might be a great point where China and Trump can actually come to agreements here on trade because I don't think China is going to be so worried about that.

I had explained in other conversations where China's exports used to be 50 percent of their GDP, and now it's dropped to 20 percent. But U.S. exports, you know, for China is only 18 percent of that 20 percent. So, it's only like four percent.

BALDWIN: Got it.

LEE: So, even if they ended all trade with the U.S., it's only going to affect their economy by like four percentage points.

BALDWIN: Minuscule.

LEE: So it's not terrible for them.

BALDWIN: OK. Not terrible for them.

Ann Lee, thank you very much. I really appreciate you and good luck on the book coming out here.

Coming up next, Israel moves to expand its settlements in the disputed West Bank. Palestine calling it provocation. We will discuss how the Trump administration could respond to this coming up.


[15:58:13] BALDWIN: Just days after President Trump's inauguration is real, is announcing new settlement construction in the west bank, it is planning to build about 2,500 new homes, some of them will be built in an area that received a donation from the Trump foundation a couple years ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted we are building and will continue to build.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott joins me with more. So what is Palestine saying?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, Brooke, the Palestinians are outraged. The Palestinian prime minister's office, the president's office saying that they reject this decision, that they will oppose it, they'll use all means that they can, whether it's political, diplomatic, economic. But really, Brooke, this is about the new relationship between the

Trump administration and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only that this comes four days after President Trump took office. It comes two days after president Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a conversation. The prime minister called it very warm and said there won't be any day line in Israel. And now, you see one of the largest settlement expansions in recent years.

Now, to be fair, some of the vast majority of these settlements are not in that settlement block that you mentioned, that (INAUDIBLE) settlement that Donald Trump donated to in the West Bank. Incidentally, on behalf, in honor of his pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. But most of these are in the area what we call in the Mideast jive within the 1967 lines, the area that Israel considers - will always be part of Israel. But we will have to see what happens between the two leaders when prime minister comes in early February.

[16:00:02] BALDWIN: All right. Elise, thank you very much.

I'm out of time. Let's go to Washington. "The LEAD" starts now.