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Haley: Trump's Warning on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use Saves Lives; Irish RTE News Reporter Recalls "Bizarre" Oval Office Incident; Police Helicopter Attacks Venezuelan Supreme Court; Trump: Expect Big Surprise on Health Care. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 28, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:33:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump's warning against Syria's use of chemical weapons "has saved many innocent lives" -- that is the assessment by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can tell you that due to the president's actions, we did not see an incident. I would like to think that the president saved many innocent men, women and children.


BALDWIN: This comes as a top aide to the president warns, quote, "I wouldn't test Donald J. Trump." a stern warning to Syria's president as the White House fears the dictator could be preparing a new chemical weapons attack.

With me now, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon correspondent.

Barbara, does the Pentagon believe that the threats from the administration are actually an effective strategy for Syria?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, what they do believe right now -- and Defense Secretary James Mattis traveling in Europe is talking about this -- that the warning from the White House has resulted in Assad pulling back. They had seen preparations that they believed were likely to lead to a potential -- pardon me -- chemical attack and now there's preparations do not appear to be going forward.

But a couple of things also happened. The Russians got involved at the behest of the United States. The U.S. knows that Russia has a lot of influence with the Syrians. So the Russians also played a key role, by all accounts, in get the Syrians to pull back. Right now, they are not seeing these preparations go forward. But let's be clear. The U.S. keeping a sharp eye on it because you never know when Assad is going to change his mind and go ahead and, potentially, prepare another chemical attack on his own people.

I don't think anybody thinks this is the last time that everyone needs to be worried about this. And so given that, you continue to see U.S. warships, U.S. aircraft on station, ready, available, to provide military options to the president, if it were to come to that -- Brooke?

[14:35:03] BALDWIN: Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, President Trump's recent call with the Irish prime minister getting some new attention today. And not because of the content of the call. Rather, what he said to a female reporter who he called over to the desk there in the Oval Office.

Plus, a police helicopter launches an attack on the Supreme Court in Venezuela. The whole thing is caught on video.

Stay with me.


BALDWIN: Breaking moments ago, President Trump, meeting with the Chicago Cubs in the West Wing, just said some words on the Senate health care bill. Here he was.


[14:39:58] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Health care is working along very well. We could have a big surprise with a great health care package. So, now they're happy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you mean by big surprise, sir?


TRUMP: I said you could have a great, great surprise.


TRUMP: It's going to be great.


BALDWIN: President there suggesting a great, great surprise is coming on health care. More on that in a moment.

But first, an Irish reporter's self-described bizarre moment with President Trump in the Oval Office is turning into a bit of a hot- button topic. The president interrupted his diplomatic call with Ireland's newly elected prime minister to single out this one Irish reporter, Caitriona Perry, the Washington correspondent for Ireland's RTE News. The president said, Perry, quote, "Has a nice smile on her face." The president and Ireland's leader had been discussing serious issues like Brexit and immigration when the president paused and called her -- here you go -- to come over. Let's listen in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we have a lot of your Irish press watching us. They are leaving the room.

Where are you from? Go ahead. Come here. Where are you from?

We have all of this beautiful Irish press.

Where are you from.


TRUMP: RT. Oh, good.


PERRY: Caitriona Perry.

TRUMP: Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.



BALDWIN: Let's talk it over with Liz Plank, Vox senior correspondent and producer; and commentator Kayleigh McEnany, conservative columnist for "Above the Law."

Ladies, off the top here, I'd love to talk to this reporter. I'd love to have her joins me. She described this video as a bizarre moment. But you know, listen, I don't know what she means by bizarre. I wasn't in the room.

That said, Liz Plank, when you first saw this video, what did you think?

LIZ PLANK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, VOX: I mean, I think, for many women watching, that video just made me feel very uncomfortable. And I'm imagining if I was in the White House as a reporter, and that had happened to me, how I would have reacted. So yeah, I think if there's anyone in America who doubted that Donald Trump has a woman problem, the fact that he interrupted a phone call with a foreign leader to flirt with a female reporter is the sign that we were all waiting for.

And this is not just obviously an isolated incident. We saw the way that he handled himself with other female reporters during the campaign. We obviously remember this March 2016 press conference where he literally invited a woman who was a blogger to come on stage, kissed her on the cheek, offered her a job because he loved her look. He went after Katy Tur in a way that was borderline obsessive to a point where she had to get her own security guards to cover Donald Trump and to cover the campaign. So, this seems like a pattern and it seems like a sign that he's not going to stop this behavior now that he's the president.

BALDWIN: All right.

Kayleigh, same question.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, Brooke, Liz left out the times that Donald Trump has called out men. For instance, the Carrier speech when he called out T.J. Bray -- what a good looking handsome guy you are, T.J.. When he called up the male, big beautiful baby. He calls out people because he's a personable guy. And you know, you look at the Washington headline, and this is just another effort to distract, distort, and demonize, distract with the splashy headline, demonize the president as sexist. But when viewers watch the video, the one you just showed, what they see is not sexism, but sensationalism. And I think the "Washington Post" ought to get back to serious reporting because sexy headlines like that are what make the viewers and the voters distrust the "Washington Post."

BALDWIN: I'm listening to both of you ladies.

Very quickly, Liz, let me just press you, to Kayleigh's point, a lot of presidents, Dems, Republicans, they tease, reports, they tease them, interact with reporters. Is this Washington or the Internet or "fill in the blank" group of people overreacting? Is this just how he is, get a little chummy with people in the room?

PLANK: I think getting chummy is one thing and -- but the way that Donald Trump handles himself with women is different from the way that he handles himself with men. And he even does this with people of his own staff. I mean, during the pre-inauguration dinner, he called Kellyanne Conway his campaign manager, baby. He made her twirl on stage and gave her an awkward kiss. Is Donald Trump kissing male reporters? Is he offering them jobs based on what they look like? I mean, there's really -- it's misogyny. It's really hard to see anything else but that.

And if you want to, Kayleigh, talk about the way that Donald Trump has handled himself with male reporters, we can talk about the way that he mocked a disabled reporter on the campaign trail because this reporter said things about him that he didn't like. We can talk about the way that he talked about Charles Krautheimer (ph). And mocked his disability as well when Katy Tur pressed him on an issue that he disagreed with Donald Trump about. This is a general problem with how he handles himself with the media, mixed with a history and a pattern of sexism.

BALDWIN: Do you want to respond?

PLANK: And ableism and others.

BALDWIN: You want to respond, Kayleigh?

MCENANY: I do want to respond. We just watched Donald Trump with an all-male sports team talking with the people, calling people out of the crowd. This is what he does. I was at a Melbourne rally where he randomly called a man that he loved onto the stage. This is what he does. And quite frankly, it's the reason why he won the election because, when people were screaming sexism, voters saw through it. They saw someone who likes people, likes to be around people. Not someone who's sexist, but someone who cares about women. Someone who cares about the American people. And they're not going to be distracted with headlines like this, stories like this. And complains of sexism over him just saying she had a nice smile, I mean, it's completely ridiculous.

[14:45:31] BALDWIN: OK. And just lastly, just take away everything that -- previous things the critics could point out with the president. Kayleigh, in the sense it's the Oval Office. It's like hallowed ground. There is decorum. You don't feel like inviting this, you know, female reporter over to the desk and telling her she has a nice smile, crosses any boundaries?

MCENANY: Not at all. You know, you have all these complaints about media not being invited in the room. And these group of Irish supporters weren't even supposed to be in the room. Donald Trump called them in. Jovial conversation between the Irish press, the Irish prime minister. He called one reporter out and said, you have a nice smile, I'm sure you treat your prime minister well, talking about the way she covers the prime minister. The press should be applauding the fact that he's bringing reporters into the Oval Office, calling them out and including them.

BALDWIN: Ladies, I appreciate both your voices. Wanted to hear the from both of you.

Kayleigh and Liz, thanks.

PLANK: Thank you.

MCENANY: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, unbelievable video. This police helicopter launching an attack with grenades and more on the Supreme Court in Venezuela. The whole thing is caught on video. We'll explain to you exactly what happened and why. Don't miss this.


[14:50:32] BALDWIN: In the capital of Venezuela, officials say a rogue cop steals a police helicopter, flies the helicopter over the Supreme Court and other government buildings, fires gunshots, drops grenades from midair. This is how it sounded to people who were in the area.





BALDWIN: Imagine if you were in Caracas. This went on for at least two hours. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called it an attempted coup. The pilots got away. But the pilot ring-leader posted this online video message right before the attack


OSCAR PEREZ, POLICE OFFICER ACCUSED OF HELICOPER GRENADE ATTACK (through translation): Venezuelans, dear brothers, we speak to you from the state. We are a group of military officials, police, and civilians in the search for balance and against this transitory criminal government. We do not belong to, nor do we have a partisan political leaning. We are nationalists, patriots, institutionalists. This fight is not with the rest of the security forces of the state, impunity imposed by this government.


BALDWIN: Patrick Oppmann, let's talk about this video. First of all, who are these people and how the heck did this go on for two hours?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's incredible, Brooke. Even for Venezuelans, who have tragically become used to scenes of violence every day around the country, this was simply something else. A helicopter apparently commandeered by rogue police officers begins to bombard with grenades and gunfire the country's Supreme Court and other government buildings. And it goes on for two hours. Apparently, the government unable or unwilling to bring it down. So a lot of mysteries, a lot of questions still need to be answered.

But the apparent ring leader is named Oscar Perez. He has been posting videos of him sharpshooting, jumping out of planes. He's a very skilled pilot, apparently, a diver. On Instagram for some time. His account has blown up in the last 24 hours, as you'd expect. Tens of thousands of new followers since he posted this statement where he said he essentially leads a dissonant group of officers and police officials who are trying to overthrow the government. That has not led to any kind of revolution, Brooke. But this is something the government has been very, very concerned about in Venezuela. with food and medicine shortages, confrontations every day between people and security forces, that someone would somehow lead an uprising from within, coup d'etat. That's something the government is very concerned about.

Nicolas Maduro has come out and said he will wage war on anyone who tries to do this. A manhunt is now going on, Brooke, throughout the entire country, for this police official and a stolen helicopter.

BALDWIN: Wow. So quickly, you laid out the months of civil unrest, the backdrop to all of this. And there is an election or this controversial political election that's, what, Friday?

OPPMAN: Exactly, Brooke. And they're trying to rewrite the constitution in Venezuela that would essentially allow Nicolas Maduro and his ruling Socialist Party to have much more power. That is very controversial. Even some of his supporters have come out against this, saying that it's just too much. He's very unpopular in his country. But yesterday, we saw him being quite defiant, saying he is hanging on and he will use violence if necessary to stay in power, despite what this police official and anyone else does.

So stay tuned, Brooke. No one expects it to get any better in Venezuela.

[14:53:54] BALDWIN: Patrick Oppmann, on all things Caracas. Thank you so much. We'll keep an eye on that.

Also watching this. Breaking this hour, President Trump saying, expect a big surprise on health care. Just said that as he was meeting with Chicago Cubs. What does he mean by that?

The president was also asked if he would consider working with Democrats on this legislation. His answer to that one, next.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Right now, the president is holding a meeting on immigration reform and his plans on cracking down on crime by undocumented offenders. This, as he charts the course of immigration reform, a big campaign promise all those many months.

It is also sort of back to the drawing board on health care. Republicans are having to regroup after having to delay the vote on the Senate version to replace Obamacare. Even more Republican Senators have come out against this Better Care Reconciliation Act.

But moments ago, during an event with the Chicago Cubs, President Trump gave -- well, you be the judge. Here was his assessment on health care.


TRUMP: Health care is working along very well. We could have a big surprise with a great health care package. So, now they're happy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you mean by big surprise, sir?


TRUMP: I said you could have a great, great surprise.


TRUMP: It's going to be great.


BALDWIN: CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, just out of that briefing there.

Jim Acosta, nice to see you. Two questions. One, do we know what the president was referring to

when he said, health care, a big, big surprise? And, two, what were the headlines from the briefing?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the big, big surprise would be if they actually get it passed. At this --