Return to Transcripts main page


Sessions Is Latest Trump Blow Up of Many; St. Louis Protests Following Police Officer Not Guilty in Shooting; U.N.: 280,000 Rohingya Have Fled Myanmar Violence. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Marc Lamont Hill and Ed Martin, appreciate your prospective.


BALDWIN: That's why we wanted to have the conversation. Thank you, both. Thank you, truly.

Ahead here on CNN, new details about President Trump's Oval Office blow-up. His own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the president reportedly calling him an idiot to his face. And it is not the first time the president's anger has been directed toward his own cabinet.

And we are watching St. Louis very closely. Protests erupting there after a former police officer is acquitted in the shooting deaths of a black man. The National Guard is standing by in case it gets out of hand. We'll take you live to St. Louis, next.





[14:35:10] BALDWIN: New revelations today of, shall we call it tense, relations between the president, and Jeff Sessions. "The New York Times" is recounting a heated discussion that happened in May just as the president was notified that the special counsel, Bob Mueller, would be appointed in the Russia investigation. The president reportedly told Sessions in front of other people, choosing him was the worst decision he had ever made. He called him idiot, and said that he should resign. Sessions reportedly called it the most humiliating moment he's had in years of public service.

But this is not the first time the president lost his temper with top advisers.

Here's a look back.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president spent his full morning picking up the phone to call the head of the National Park Service, because the president was mad about depictions of the size of the crowd at the inauguration.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Whether it is with the Mexican president or the prime minister of Australia, it sounds like from talking to sources who were familiar with the phone calls that these were some pretty testy exchanges. I talked to one source last night who said there were staffers inside the White House whose faces were turning white because they were aghast at some of the details.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The president furious and frustrated as his son's e-mails dominate the headlines today. We are told Donald Trump believes it is all B.S.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sources say their last phone call broke down in a shouting match with the president cursing at McConnell.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: People close to the attorney general are telling to "The New York Times" that the president berated him, accused him of being disloyal.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The president calling Sessions an idiot and saying picking him for attorney general was one of the first decisions he made.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think my single greatest asset, of any assets I have, is my temperament.


BALDWIN: Let's talk to Christopher Ruddy, a long-time friend of President Trump. He's also the CEO and president of News Max Media.

Christopher Ruddy, nice to have you on.


BALDWIN: All right. So you saw the match-up of the multiple examples of times that the president has been a tad testy. Straight up, does the man have a temper?

RUDDY: I think he's a very even-heeled guy that I've known for a while. I don't see him as a guy that goes into wild tantrums. Most people would watch what you just showed on CNN and say that is pretty refreshing, when they don't like something they get upset, and give immediate feedback on how they feel. A lot of American like that about Donald Trump. He is not a pretend guy to say he likes something when he doesn't. And they are so used to the politically-correct speak that comes out of so many politicians. So I'm not really surprised about it. And I don't think -- you know in the history of the country, a lot of presidential candidates and presidents were very behind the scenes to have wild moments in the Oval Office. So this is not that unusual. BALDWIN: OK. But, yes, you are correct. So the man is direct. You

can see that is refreshing, call it how he sees it, but scream at his A.G. and call him an idiot with other people present. Is that presidential?

RUDDY: Well, it is not what we typically see of presidents in the past, but this was a private conversation. And unlike previous administrations where private conversations were not leaked to "The New York Times," I think that's what we're seeing that is very unusual here. You know, when Donald Trump calls someone an idiot, I think in the Trump lexicon, that is not a bad thing. That could be a pretty good thing. Remember, he called Chuck Schumer --


BALDWIN: To do that so publicly.


BALDWIN: I know he's called Crooked Hillary and Lyin' Ted. We remember it all. But --


RUDDY: Chuck Schumer is now a clown. He's a clown and became a pal. I think the president -- obviously, Jeff Sessions wasn't so angry about it. He is still in his post. He kept his position.


BALDWIN: But he said it was the most humiliating thing that happened to him in years and years of public service.

RUDDY: Well, let's just clarify that. He never said that. That was a report of "The New York Times," who spoke to people he spoke to. Sounds like Chinese whispers. If it was so bad, why is he still there? Usually, there's a lot of exaggeration. I think they are trying to make the president out to be a caricature. The poll numbers have recently been going up. I think people like he's doing this bipartisan stuff. I think the president is moving in the right direction. Instead of focusing on something that happened in an Oval Office meeting six months ago, let's start thinking about how to work together. That's what CNN should be talking about.

[14:40:07] BALDWIN: How about working together? How about policy? You know, how about what is happening in Congress? How about what is making some conservatives lose their temper? You were just talking about how he called Chuck Schumer a clown and now they are pals. You laugh, but this is a president getting credit for it, depending on who you talk to, and how he's working closely with Democrats, on DACA and immigration reform. Chris, give me some insight, why is he shifting some strategy now and going to, as he refers to them, Chuck and Nancy?

RUDDY: He is a very results-oriented, bottom-line type guy. He comes out of the business world. When things work, he magnifies them and grows those. When things don't, he gets rid of them or closes them down or tries something new. I think we saw the first eight months, things were not working well. Approval numbers were trending down. He was not getting any major legislation through. And I think he felt -- he didn't tell me this, but just reading between the lines here -- that he need a new strategy, new approach. And I think this big DACA thing was a huge win for him in so many ways because he's getting the Democrats to sign off on massive border funding. He was not going to be able to remove the DACA people for a number of reasons. And I don't think he should have. And he's saying, look, it's not Donald Trump to deport all the young students and their families.


BALDWIN: Even though that is what he promised to do on the campaign trail. I'm just saying. He made a promise on the trail to do one thing.


RUDDY: Yes, well, I didn't agree with that position. I thought that illegal immigrants should stay in the country. They should register and pay restitution. And I believe they should eventually be given a pathway to citizenship. The president doesn't agree with my position on that. But I think his position is not that far off. And I think this is the first step. And I think he wants -- Americans across the board are demanding border security. They are really frightened that anyone can walk across the border in the age of 9/11. And the fact that he's taking steps to end that is really positive and good.

BALDWIN: To your point about Chuck Schumer and how maybe, Chris, he was looking at the first eight months and seeing the approval ratings going down, seeing he didn't have anything massive on the scoreboard legislatively with Republicans, do you think that it's even possible that the man just has good chemistry with Chuck Schumer, fellow New Yorker, and maybe just doesn't entirely click personality-wise with the likes of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan?

RUDDY: Donald Trump has a personality he can basically get along with anyone. And he's very charming in person, very charismatic. I don't believe the stories he doesn't get along with Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan. If there are issues they disagree on, there are ways in the directions and approaches, and we're seeing that. The president has been very frustrated with the way the health care bill was done, the Obamacare, and when you look at his approach on things. So I think right now he's in a bit of a honeymoon with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. I don't think it necessarily means he doesn't get along with this one or that one. The press likes to play into the soap opera and try to make it a soap opera out of so many of these things. I don't think it is really there.

BALDWIN: Chris Ruddy, good friend of the president, that's the insight today and all things President Trump. Thank you, nice to have you on.

RUDDY: Great being on with you.

BALDWIN: Thanks. We do have some breaking news here. We are talking about St. Louis a

moment ago. Protests erupting in the streets right now following the acquittal of a former police officer. Today, a judge found former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of a black driver.

CNN's Ryan Young is in St. Louis for us right now.

Tell us what the protesters are telling you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this has been peaceful, but during the last segment there was a confrontation between the police and the protesters. I'm walking this way because we are standing in the middle of the protesters who were trying to get attention of the police. The police surrounded them with tossing them back and forth. This is the first time we have seen them with the riot gear on. And they are staging right here trying to block the road. There was a bus that was just in this direction. The protesters surrounded the bus and were not going to let it through. That's when officers came down to reestablish the line.

In fact, we will show you the video to see how the confrontation worked out between the bikes and the police officers. They were trying to make room. That didn't go very well. Then, all of a sudden, people were getting arrested and sprayed with pepper spray. People started running.

I'm going to walk you closer because this is what is happening now. Police have got on their riot gear and standing here creating this line. You can see them all lining this direction. I'm going to bring my photographer this way. You see them lined up. They have created a circle and brought in the heavy equipment. Don't forget, we are close to Ferguson. There are a lot of unhealed wounds in this community. People are upset. You look at this crowd, different people. You can see this man showed up in a uniform. You can see this lady here. This is a very mixed crowd here. But they are very upset and angry. And I can tell you when that pepper spray was sprayed here, we really felt like they were going to lose control of the situation. Those officers who are deployed on the bike have moved back in that direction. And now you can hear the people who are very upset. They are angry. And now they are yelling back to the officers. And you can see how the situation is happening. We are just in the middle of downtown. There's about a mile of the streets shut down. There are other people who are being told to shelter in place while this is going on.

[14:46:07] BALDWIN: Ryan, let me ask you as you're watching and we are all watching what is happening around you, let's go back to the story in 2011. This acquittal just happened today. Tell me more about this acquittal. Take me inside the courtroom.

YOUNG: This is inside the conversation that a lot of people are having. This happened in 2011, this finally went to court. And one of the things they did was, instead of having a jury trial, the judge decided to make a decision from the bench. A lot of people were watching this closely. One of the things that stands out to him is there was video involved

in this. And at one point the officers heard on video saying, I'm going to kill that N-word. And then the shooting happened. Five shots fired. The prosecutors talked about the idea that one of the shell casings made it into that car.

And one of the things that stands out to people who are in this community is they absolutely believe that the officer planted a weapon inside the car. Now, the officer said he did not. He believes the suspect had the revolver and they went back and forth on this conversation.

Now people believe it is not a time when they are not getting justice. I just talked to Antonio French, the alderman from St. Louis. And he told me he is tired of being tired. When will justice happen? Of course, Ferguson, Michael Brown, all that community is thinking about in terms of now you have another case just like this.

Think about the idea of the NAACP has also marked this state as one that people should be worried about.

So then when you look at all this, you see the pain and the anger. And then when you saw that pepper spray come and you saw people running to the officers, and you heard the names they were saying to each other, we have that moment again where you had the explosion of ideals and of the emotion all happening out here in the streets once again.

Luckily, it's been able to calm down. Protesters have been working extremely hard to not only manage themselves but manage the situation. But you can see now, as we come back this direction, look at this crowd. I mean, we're blocked off all the way down the street here with people everywhere. This is who showed up with signs. And you can see some of the signs they are holding.

This is what has been going on for the last few hours here. Like I said, it has been peaceful, but the one moment when the officers came in and the pepper spray was sprayed, we saw the explosion happen right here in the middle of the street.

BALDWIN: We are watching you from the skies and from the ground, Ryan Young. Here's hoping it stays peaceful. These young folks just exercising their First Amendment rights. We're going to keep a close eye on you and your shot in St. Louis.

Thank you, sir, very much.

Quick break, we're back after this.


[14:52:43] BALDWIN: Real quickly, here are live pictures of the first lady with children at Joint Base Andrews, saying hello, coloring with them. This is ahead of the event where Trump will be participating in a demonstration of the air fleet at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Let's talk about something we need to shed a light on. The U.N.

secretary general calls it a humanitarian catastrophe. The human rights chief calls it a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Outrage over what is happening right now in Southeast Asia's Myanmar. A pariah state-turned democracy now facing accusations that armed government forces are attacking their own minority citizens, torching homes, killing men, women and children, and forcing survivors to flee. These are the Rohingya Muslims, native to the Buddhist-majority country. They are often described as the most persecuted minority in the world.

Alex Field is live for us now in neighboring Bangladesh where some 390,000 of these people have fled.

We know Myanmar's de facto leader found common ground with the party that tried to crush her. And that is a dislike of the people, why are the Muslims so persecuted?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Brooke, they were hopeful that under Aung San Suu Kyi, their life would improve, but that's not the case. We are seeing the worst violence in the history of these persecuted people. Look, this is a group of people that has been subject to recurrent violence. They are a minority Muslim group in this predominantly Buddhist country, but they are not regarded as citizens in Myanmar. Despite the fact that they have lived in that country for generations. Myanmar still views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. So they are not given the full rights of citizens. They don't have access to education. They don't have access to health care, their movements are restricted. There is a militant group that claims to fight for the expansion or attainment of the rights. They are the ones who staged an attack on border guards back on August 25th. In the attack, 12 police officers were killed. The military responded with a violent crackdown they say targets terrorists. But there's clear evidence emerging from Myanmar they have targeted civilians. We are talking about a thousand deaths in Myanmar since that violence broke out. And truly hideous stories of what is happening inside that country, Brooke. Fires being set, families trying to escape under gunfire. We were three kilometers from the border today where some 400,000 refugees have escaped with really nothing more than their lives -- Brooke?

[14:55:40] BALDWIN: You and so many other of our colleagues have been filing news reports on these Rohingyas.

Please pay attention and go to for more on what is going on in Myanmar.

Alex Field, in Bangladesh, thank you so much.

Moments from now -- as we mentioned, we saw the first lady a second ago --- the president will be speaking live at Joint Base Andrews as U.K. officials have denounced his tweet this morning during the London terror attack and after North Korea launched another missile. Standby.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN's special live coverage. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)