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Trump Comments After Gianforte Wins Montana House Election After Assaulting Reporter; Melania Being Compared to Jackie O. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 26, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:32:29] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let me tell you about the past 24 hours of a Republican by the name of Greg Gianforte. He body slammed a reporter, didn't own up to it, and then got a ticket to Congress. The Montana candidate winning the special election for the seat indicated by Trump's interior secretary. Greg Gianforte, who was charged with assault, later apologized but only after he won.


GREG GIANFORTE, (R), CONGRESSIOAL CANDIDATE FOR MONTANA: Last night I made a mistake. And I took an action I can't take back. I should not have responded in the way I did. And for that, I'm sorry.


BALDWIN: President Trump gave a quick comment on this race during his stop in Sicily. This is what the president said.



Thank you.


BALDWIN: Let's talk now to CNN national politics reporter, M.J. Lee, about Gianforte.

This is a man who has a court date and a criminal charge coming early June. This is someone who won this ticket to Congress. Is there a chance that he could -- Republicans could not seat him?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: You know, purely, he's speaking as a P.R. matter, this is the last thing that the Republican Party need. They expected this to be a relatively easy race. They thought they would just be celebrating. For a period of 24 hours, you saw members of Congress being barraged with questions like, well, how do you account for this reprehensible behavior. Whether or not Republican leaders would actually speak out against him and I think we got the answer to that from Paul Ryan's statement earlier today. He said, "Gianforte is an outsider with real world experience creating jobs in Montana. He will bring that experience to Congress where he will be a valuable voice in the House Republican conference."

He still has a court date coming up. He's always going to have the reputation as the guy who got physical with a reporter.


BALDWIN: Totally. You can also look at this as a half glass full or half empty when he won with a margin of victory of only 6 percent in a state that Trump won with 20 percentage points in November. How does that translate as we look ahead to the special election in Georgia?

[14:35:00] LEE: The story is totally different depending on who you ask. Republicans say all of this happened at the last minute, it was a huge controversy and yet he was able to win pretty easily. But if you ask, you know, Democrats, they would say that this is a state that Trump won by 20 points and look how close we got. So like these circumstances matter and it also matters that Democrats would say that the Democratic candidate, Quist, made a very full and strong push at the very end to talk about the House Republican health care bill and they are saying, look, when we talk about these issues that matter to people in a red state or district get this close to, you know, taking a seat that is historically very Republican.

# He talks very smart. Political wonks say Georgia is a different terrain. Kansas and now Montana, they need a win and we'll be covering that. That is June 20th --

LEE: Right.

BALDWIN: -- in Georgia.

M.J., thanks very much.

Moving on, the terrorist who bombed that concert in Manchester made a phone call 15 minutes before the attack. We'll tell you who he called.

Also, he says he's busy drinking wine, golfing and ironing his clothes. Former House Speaker John Boehner not holding back when he refers to President Trump. Why he calls this presidency a disaster.


[14:40:41] BALDWIN: Now to the latest in the investigation into that Manchester terror attack. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the U.K. today trying to calm the nerves of this very important ally by taking responsibility for investigation leaks to the media.

Meanwhile, new arrests in the raids in Manchester today. Eight people now in custody and, according to reports, a suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, had just called his brother over in Libya 15 minutes before the attack in that concert.

Let's bring in CNN investigative reporter, Michael Weiss, the co- author of "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror."

Welcome back.


BALDWIN: The fact that he picked up the phone and called his brother from that Manchester arena in Libya, what does that tell you?

WEISS: Oftentimes these jihadi networks are populated by members of the same family. The reason being, it's simply easier and you're more likely to trust members of your own family. If it's a sibling, you grow up in the same house. Whatever the external factors are to contribute to radicalization will happen to both of you at the same time. Very often a younger brother looks up to his older brother and is mentored into this pathway into jihadism. This is, so far, very, very typical from what I'm hearing.

BALDWIN: We don't know if it's, hey, I'm go to do this or pass along X, Y and Z.

WEISS: Sure. No. Chances are, though, if it's 15 minutes before, it would have been a valid victory. Or, by the way, I'm doing this now, if the brother in Libya was aware of the plot, now is the time to tell the other brothers, quote/unquote.

BALDWIN: This is about to happen?

WEISS: Exactly.

BALDWIN: When you hear investigators say they are trying to contain the network, what does "trying to contain" mean?

WEISS: You just alluded to the eight figures arrested in Manchester. This guy probably did not act alone. He obviously blew up the bomb himself alone but he will have coordinated with other facilitators. There's a good article by my friend and the term is virtual entrepreneurs. You have somebody who grew up in the west. They are connecting with ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria who are either radicalizing them or facilitating their contact with other agents and fellow travelers and operatives already in the West. You can also kind of distinguish these things, according to linguistic lines. I've often referred to the francophone network. They all spoke French. It made it easier to communicate. In this case, an Anglo jihadi, not sure if I'm saying his name correctly, killed by the coalition two years ago. He was the guy to bring the first American jihadist over to the caliphate. That can be a very easy line of communication because you all speak the same language.

BALDWIN: So with those connections, we were talking at the commercial break and I said what do you think about the fact that U.K. had initially shut down any sort of intel sharing with the U.S. because of the leaks and now, all of a sudden, they are sharing again and you were saying to me, precisely your point on English speaking, if the U.S. might have intel, the U.K. needs to know.

WEISS: What if the guys in Manchester are also talking to operatives or want-to-be on the same channel and, all of a sudden, U.S. intelligence are leaking this stuff to "The New York Times" and "Washington Post," the name of the suspect and suicide bomber is out there and suddenly this network goes silent straight away. We don't know, then, when the next plot is going to take place. Anything we do to reverse engineer where these guys are and what they are planning, it comes to dust. Keep in mind, the U.S. Has no better intelligence sharing partner than the U.K. In my own work and in interviewing is, I can tell you oftentimes the U.K. has better intelligence on Syria than the U.S. has got. This was a huge and, frankly, shameful example and I think they were quite right to put a pause on this relationship. But as you see, it's back up now because out of necessity.

BALDWIN: It has to be. Michael Weiss, thank you for dropping by on that.

WEISS: Sure.

[14:45:07] BALDWIN: From her infamous hand swat to the revelations about her faith this week, what the world learned about Melania Trump. And the chatter about this jacket. Yes, this jacket right here with apparently a price tag of $51,000.

Plus, Hillary Clinton today not holding back, going off on President Trump without actually mentioning his name during a speech at her ala mater. Stand by for that.


[14:49:37] BALDWIN: President Trump's big trip abroad has brought Melania Trump out of the shadows and into center stage here. The first lady today stepping out in Italy in this $51,000 floral jacket. The designer is Dolce & Gabana. She carried a matching $1600 purse after meeting the pope this week. Melania Trump is the first Catholic first lady since Jackie Kennedy, and her style is being compared to the Kennedys.

So let's talk all about Melania's big week and her choices. I have CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett; and CNN contributor, Kate Anderson Brower, the author of "First Women."

And to my Kates on this Friday, good to see you girls.

Kate Brower, let's begin with Melania's faith. I don't even think a lot of people realize she was Catholic before this trip. Why is she just now revealing this?

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & AUTHOR: Yeah, I don't think anyone realized it and it's probably something really private to her. She described the meeting with the pope as an experience she'll never forget. She wrote a letter to the pope asking if she could visit a children's hospital when she went to visit him and it's very telling and keeping with everything we know. She's very private, she doesn't want people to necessarily know about her faith and we still don't know if she's a practicing Catholic. But I think for a Catholic first lady to meet with the pope, it's a very special moment and makes it very different from other first ladies.

BALDWIN: From her faith to fashion, Kate Bennett, I mean, $51,000 for a jacket? What's it made of?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Unicorn wings and fairy dust?

BALDWIN: Gold dust?


BENNETT: It just came off the runway. It's a new piece. It's very fashion-forward. She's been really nailing it, I think, on this entire trip. She's using fashion diplomacy to her benefit. However, this jacket, just because of the price tag, I think may have ended up being a misstep for her. Again, $51,500 is a tough price tag to justify and it might be tricky to sort of extricate that herself from that cost.

BALDWIN: OK. So that's a chunk of change.

I've been following you his week and you have been all over her style. Let's walk through some of her outfits beginning with the killer black jumpsuit in Saudi Arabia.

BENNETT: This is an example of fashion diplomacy. It's a Stella McCartney jumpsuit but it has a flow of a Muslim robe. The gold belt was a nod to Saudi Arabia. When she was in Israel, she wore a lot of white that, you know, the Israel flag is blue and white and, also, they feel it's a color that means purity and it's sacred. So she was very smart there. This is a Michael Khors jacket she's wearing. Again, smart, using her fashion to showcase a bit of friendliness to the country that she's visiting. When she visited the pope, she wore dolce & cabana. This was a custom black lace outfit. Very traditional. You need to wear long sleeves and black formal wear when you have an audience with the pope and cover your head with the head veil. Again, very appropriate.

BALDWIN: And we have one more in Belgium.

As we're looking through all of these pieces, Kate Brower, you were thinking maybe as we watched Melania Trump, it would harken more towards the Jackie O. Fashion. Do you still stand by that?

BROWER: Absolutely. It's fashion-forward. Looking at someone like Michelle Obama who mixed high and low. You don't see that with Melania Trump.

BALDWIN: I'm not seeing any J. Crew here.

BROWER: No. You can't even imagine her wearing that. I don't think she's apologetic about it and in some ways that is refreshing but I agree that a coat over $50,000, which is around what the average American family earns, is a misstep. And past first ladies, including Mrs. Carter, made her own inaugural gown. People like this. They want to have an accessible first lady. And I'm not sure that something that high fashion is going to play well for her.

[14:54:25] BALDWIN: Kate, let me know when the black jumpsuit goes on sale. I like that. Kate Bennett and Brower, thank you so much.

Let's get you back to our breaking news. A report one of our experts calls this stunning. We're learning why the fired FBI Director James Comey came forward to publicly announce the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails was over.


BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We're following the breaking news involving the FBI's role in the 2016 presidential election, we're now learning why the now fired FBI director went public to announce the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails was ending. It was last July when that conference was held.

Dana Bash have the reporting for us. She's the chief political correspondent and she broke this for us. is joining me. Nick Ackerman is also joining me, former assistant Watergate prosecutor and former U.S. attorney.

Dana, the floor is yours here. You tell me exactly what you've learned.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned that then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of Russian information related to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation was fake but he felt that he needed to take action any way because he was concerned that the information became public, it would undermine the investigation and the Justice Department itself. This is according to multiple sources talking to my colleague, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger and myself.