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Report: CA Senator Speaks Out Against Trump AG Pick; Trump Says Terror Threat Bigger That Most Understand; Wife of Putin Critic Says Government Poisoned Her Husband. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is a whom who we are listening to, and I don't need to tell you this, she's clearly speaking in opposition to the notion of having Jeff Sessions be the AG, she was AG in California before being elected and also a potential rising star as they say for the Democratic party. How do you see her role here?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: She is a potential rising star, she's been a potential rising star for a number of years. She got pretty big platform at the 2012 Democratic convention. She had a big speaking role there and early on in her career she was dubbed the female Obama. And of course, Obama himself kind of stepped in it when he talked about her saying she was the best-looking AG in the country, he might have been right but took a little flak for that so you see in some ways of a coming out party as a national figure, she is hitting women's rights, gay rights, voting rights and using her experience as attorney general to criticize Sessions. She's looking for her moment in a way that Elizabeth Warren had her moment so we'll see how it goes.

BALDWIN: The vote happening later today. Thank you.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The President suggests terrorism is even worse than most Americans realize now no he's been President for a couple weeks and has been briefed. So, we'll talk to a police commissioner who was sitting inside today's meeting and will join me with his take on that very warning.


BALDWIN: President Trump getting a warm welcome as he met with law enforcement officials from all across the country, it was there he talked quite frankly about the threat he believes Americans are facing.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will work with you on the front lines to keep America safe from terrorism. Which is what I began with this, terrorism, a tremendous threat, far greater than people in our country understand. Believe me, I've learned a lot in the last two weeks. And terrorism is a far greater threat than the people of our country understand.


BALDWIN: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today was asked if there was a specific perhaps imminent threat behind what the President said.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, but I think Americans need to understand we face a real threat in radical Islamic terrorism. It's week after week, month after month we're hearing of another instance, lone wolf; et cetera, that's going throughout the world. And so, I think what the President is doing is try to make sure that the American people understand that he's doing everything he can to protect them and to keep our institutions and our people safe.


BALDWIN: Let's talk this all over with our CNN law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, he is also the former police chief in Washington D.C., former Philadelphia police commissioner. Chief, great to see you again, and just listening to the President's words and knowing what you know, is that the right way to talk to Americans?

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, WASHINGTON D.C.: Well, that's a very good question. You have to remember that the President is just getting classified briefings now. He hasn't been getting them for years and years, so he's just starting to get a handle on the nature and extent of the terrorist threat here in America and abroad, so I think some of that is the result of that. But I think you have to be very careful too not to instill too much fear because I'm not aware of any new threats or anything out there now any more dangerous than we knew two years, three, five years ago.

BALDWIN: You are top brass and knew what folks in Philly and D.C. did not. How do you think it was handled?

RAMSEY: Well, first of all there are some things that the public should not necessarily become aware of at least not at that point when it's under investigation but we have such a great relationship particularly with the FBI with our joint terrorism task force that I feel very confident in the cities that I represented that I was the police chief and there was no direct threat. In other words, we would be able to intervene, we were on top of the investigation, it's not to say you're going to be successful 100 percent of the time, there's always the possibility of a lone wolf but you can't be -- about it.

BALDWIN: We're hearing it just this week, he said the murder rate is the highest it been in 47 years which is totally false and said it's gotten to the point that it's not being reported, I promise you it is. And says that if the travel ban is not reinstated that we will never be safe. Would you call it fear mongering?

RAMSEY: This isn't fear mongering.

BALDWIN: What would you call it?

RAMSEY: I don't believe there's going to be a flood of people across our borders if the courts rule against the travel ban. I don't believe in any of that.

BALDWIN: But doesn't false information create fear?

RAMSEY: Because people believe what they hear on TV, whether it's coming from the President, me, a law enforcement official whoever it's coming from we have to be very careful how we present things, there are real things out there, real issues we need to confront but also be careful so we don't inflate it to create unnecessary fear, anxiety and maybe even negative actions toward one another.

BALDWIN: Charles Ramsey, thank you.

Up next President Trump calling out his critics for quote unquote using the race card against him, the reaction from the host of CNN's "United Shades of America", Mr. W. Kamau Bell next.


BALDWIN: Getting a lot of reaction to what happened in the well of the Senate with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. A lot of people are standing up in support of the Massachusetts Democratic lawmaker, Dr.King's own daughter the Reverend Bernice King expressed her dismay on twitter, quote "My mom's words were finally read at Sessions hearing by Senator Jeff Merkley, but why was Senator

Warren silenced? And the hashtag that is now everywhere #letlizspeak & defeat patriarchism."


ELIZABETH WARREN, SENATOR, MASSACHUSETTS: When I was silenced I went outside and I read it on a live feed and posted it on Facebook, I tweeted it. I want everyone to read this letter including the Republican senators who will be voting on his nomination tonight.


BALDWIN: With me now W. Kamau Bell host of CNN's "United Shades of America." it's so great to see you, thanks for popping by.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: Thanks for having me back.

BALDWIN: So, Elizabeth Warren. Glenn Thrush I give him credit for this note, Glenn of the New York Times said here you have a woman reading a letter from a black woman married a civil rights icon and then was rebuked by a man from the south. Thoughts?

BELL: Get us in the way back machine, it's like "back to the future." He managed to disrespect a white woman and a black woman in one swift motion. I was quite impressive. And for me as a dad I looked at my two daughters and pointed and said, see she's persisting that is what daddy wants you to do too. Persist when men tell you to shut up. BALDWIN: Which is exactly what Hillary Clinton pointed out in her tweet. So must we all, what about Kamau this flap with Nordstrom, you have this tweet from Trump that was retweeted from the official POTUS account. Here's the tweet, "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom, the back story is that Nordstrom yanked Ivanka's line because of Trump's policies. What do you make of that?

BELL: If Trump is not careful Bannon is going to take his phone away because I don't think that's on Bannon's list of things he is supposed to be tweeting about. Also, in the list of things we need to be talking about it's clear he still does not have his eye on the ball of actually being a president for the entire country, if he is worried about his daughter's sales. But I do not know we both agree on something, President Trump and me, we both think capitalism is unfair.

BALDWIN: You're a funny guy, you do a bit of standup, know a thing or two about the funny bone, we have this whole awesome series on CNN about the history of comedy it actually premiers tomorrow night. Here is a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you went to the record store you often had to ask for these albums because they wouldn't be out that you could just go and pick them up out of the bin, they were often hidden or in a certain part of the store where you needed some sort of assistance from people in the score because they were thought to be too scandalous.

DICK CAVETT, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: I've heard several of them and It's a miracle that you're able to select lines from them to do on television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The party records that Red Fox did were underground, but underground to mainstream society so the mainstream didn't know anything about it and didn't want any part of it at this point.


BALDWIN: I interviewed Betty White yesterday, how do you see comedy evolving?

BELL: People talk about this being the golden era of comedy but also one of the hardest eras of comedy because there's so much going on, it is real easy to be funny right now because rife to be funny about, but good comedians have to be really funny, like the big guns like Melissa McCarthy, and maybe Rosie O'Donnell for Steve Bannon. Comedians if you are not funny now you are never going to be funny.

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: You brought up those two women, Rosie wants to play Steve Bannon, a man, Melissa McCarthy played Sean Spicer, a man.

BELL: That is still legal for now unless -- yes, yes, there is a history in this country of people of both sexes playing the other roles quite effectively. It's funny that that was the thing that bothered Trump, it's the fact that it was a woman.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you.

BELL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: The new CNN series "The History of Comedy" premiers tomorrow. Coming up next CNN sits down with the wife of the outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, he was allegedly poisoned once, he is back in the hospital. Who she thinks I behind these mystery illnesses.


BALDWIN: The wife of an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin is speaking out after her husband became a seriously ill for the second time in just two years. Vladimir Kara-Murza is part of the activist organization that calls for open elections, free press and civil rights reform. Republican Senator John McCain talked about him on the Senate floor while making it clear that Putin is a killer.


JOHN MCCAIN, SENATOR, ARIZONA: Vladimir knew that Putin is a killer, and he's a killer. He might very well be the next target. Vladimir knew there was no moral equivalence between the United States and Putin's Russia. I repeat, there is no moral equivalent between that butcherer and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America the country Ronald Reagan used to call a shining city on a hill.


BALDWIN: Let's go to CNN correspondent Ivan Watson who is live in Moscow on this. You talked to his wife. What did she say?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The family is, of course, very, very tense and worried right now. They're performing a vigil for their husband, their father, their loved one. After they claim that he was poisoned for the second time in two years, and this is a dissident who, of course as you just mentioned, Senator John McCain called a hero on the floor of the Senate last night. In a hospital in Moscow, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin fights for his life. Vladimir's wife says her husband fell sick with sudden and mysterious organ failure last week.


What is your husband's official diagnosis right now?

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF PUTIN CRITIC AND ACTIVIST: An acute intoxication by unidentified substance.

WATSON: What do you think that means?

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: It's poisoning.

WATSON: CNN cannot independently confirm this claim, but powerful supporters in Washington are speaking out because this is the second time in just two years he has suddenly gotten sick.

MCCAIN: Many suspected he was poisoned to intimidate him or worse. This is why last week's news signaled another shadowy strike against a brilliant voice who has defied the tyranny of Putin's Russia.

WATSON: Pure nonsense as the spokesman between the link and his illness. CNN's Matthew Chance spoke with him last year. The 35-year- old walking with a cane due to severe nerve damage from his first illness which he blamed on the government.

VALDIMIR KARA-MURZA, PUTIN CRITIC AND ACTIVIST: It's a dangerous vocation to oppose Mr. Putin's regime. It's a dangerous vocation to be in Russia today. But again, these are the risks we know and accept.

MATHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At that time the Chechen strong man and close ally of the Kremlin Ramzan Kadyrov published this video on his Instagram account showing Kara-Murza in the cross hairs of a sniper rifle. He could have stayed at his adopted home in the U.S. state of Virginia where he's lived for years with his wife and three children. But he came back to Russia last month to promote a documentary about the assassination of his friend Boris, an opposition leader shot dead in the shadow of the Kremlin in 2015. Were you worried about your husband on this visit to Russia? EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: I was terrified, not only on this visit. Every

time he leaves the house to go on one of his trips, I'm terrified.

WATSON: She says the doctors are giving her husband a 5 percent chance of survival.

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA: The Russian government and President Putin are responsible for what happened to my husband two years ago and now one way or another. The climate in our country is such that opposition figures can be intimidated, threatened, thrown in jail, shot and poisoned.

WATSON: Now, Brooke, Vladimir, he requested a criminal investigation into his alleged poisoning two years ago. He said nothing came of that. In this case his wife has already sent samples to labs in France and in Israel to try to come up with an answer to why he suddenly got so violently deathly ill. Brooke?


BALDWIN: What about, Ivan, you talked to a Russian foreign ministry source about their frustrations with President Trump's state department. What did they say the issue was?

WATSON: This official telling me this morning that they're having a problem finding counterparts to deal with in the state department, saying that nearly half of the management apparently has either resigned or left office in the transfer of power in Washington, and now for a lot of burning issues out there, issues like the ongoing war in Ukraine, the latest flap around Iran and its nuclear program, and allegations that it's sponsoring terror, there is nobody there on the U.S. side for Russian officials to speak with and reach out to, and that's making it difficult to do ordinary diplomacy at a time when there are so many hot issues around the world. This official saying, well, it's probably going to take time to fill those posts. But in the meantime, these crises, these flash points are not getting better any time soon. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Ivan Watson, thank you for being on the story for us in Moscow. Thank you. Quickly before I hand it over to D.C., let's look at live pictures from the Senate. Despite the major opposition from members of the Democratic party, that confirmation full Senate vote should be happening in just a little while for who could be the next A.G. in this country, Senator Jeff Sessions. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.