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GOP Senator Rebukes Trump; Pence's NFL Trip Cost; Pence's NFL Exit. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:20] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Monday afternoon here on CNN.

An outgoing Republican senator is laying into President Trump and Senator Bob Corker's extraordinary rebuke just doesn't just cut down the president, he's also raising concerns about national security. Senator Corker, who is not seeking re-election next year, tells "The New York Times," the president treats the office like a, quote, reality show, with a recklessness toward other nations that could set the U.S. path on, quote, the path to World War III.

Senator Corker also saying he knows for a fact, quote, every single day at the White House it is a situation of trying to contain him, him being President Trump.

What's more here, the senator from Tennessee sent out this tweet calling the Trump White House a, quote, adult day care center where someone obviously missed their shift this morning.

That message was in response to a series of tweets from the president saying, among other things, that Senator Corker begged for his endorsement, wanted to be secretary of state, and that the senator, who chairs the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, didn't have the guts to run.

Kaitlan Collins kicks us off this hour. She's live at the White House.

Let's just do some fact checking here. Fact checking the president's tweets. Did he, in fact, turn down a Senator Corker endorsement?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, the president certainly escalated this war between him and Senator Corker when he said that he begged for his endorsement and that the president denied him such endorsement and that's why he's retiring. But Corker is disputing that account entirely. In that interview with "The New York Times" he says that not only did Trump encourage him to run for re- election multiple times, but that he offered him his endorsement and even floated the idea of appearing with him at a rally in Tennessee.

But by and large, one of the most striking comments that Corker made in that interview is that he says most of the Republican senators share the same concerns that he has about President Trump. Specifically he said that, look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we're dealing with here. Of course they understand the volatility that we're dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road. The him there being the president. But that is a stunning comment from a prominent senator who is a member of the president's own party.

Now, we haven't heard from the president on Senator Corker today. He hasn't said anything, at least not publicly. But a source tells our Jeff Zeleny that the president isn't finished with Corker just yet. Now, this may not be of a concern to Corker because, as I said, he's not running for re-election. He only has 15 months left in his term. But the president is also telling advisers that he's not worried about there being backlash from other Republicans because especially ones who are up for re-election, they don't want to risk having the wrath of Trump voters and that he believes he's more popular than any member of Congress, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. Kaitlin, thank you.

Let's continue on all of this, this exchange between the president and the Tennessee senator. It marks a major falling out between these Republicans. Senator Corker, keep in mind, was at one point in the running to become the next vice president, visiting Trump Tower back in May of 2016 and he also stumped for the president just a couple of months later.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody, Senator Bob Corker.

Come on up, Bob. Come on up.


BALDWIN: All right, let's dig a little deep or this. I have with me Republican strategist Rich Galen and CNN political commentator Jack Kingston, who used to be a senior adviser on the Trump campaign.

So, gentlemen, welcome to both of you.


BALDWIN: And, Rich, you first. You know, the senator, in his own way, sounding this alarm. My question to you is, will any other Republicans take the same truth serum as Bob Corker seems to have?

GALEN: No, I don't -- I mean some will. I suspect some will. And, remember, coming up in 2018, there are only what, Jack, I think seven now Republicans that are running for re-election out of the 33 that are up.


GALEN: So it doesn't make any sense for them to draw up a primary opponent at this moment. But it is -- it does -- but somebody like Corker certainly does give political cover to anybody who might be leaning that way.

[14:05:00] You may remember -- you will remember because you do this every day, but this whole Corker thing started when he was --

BALDWIN: After Charlottesville.

GALEN: During August when he was at a rotary club meeting in Tennessee, and talked about the problems he was having with the president then. And it just escalated since that time.

But to get to your exact question, I don't expect to see, you know, very many more people kind of jumping on Twitter and saying I'm with -- I'm with Bob.

BALDWIN: I'm with Bob.

Congressman, how do you see this back and forth?

KINGSTON: I agree with Rich. I think right now, for example, if you look at the potential candidates for his replacement, Marsha Blackburn, who's probably the lead candidate, none of them want to cross Donald Trump because they know how enormously popular he is, particularly among Republican primary voters. We saw that play out in Alabama where both sides really wanted to have Trump on their team or be more Trumpish.

You know, the other thing about Trump, when he gets into these battles, they do get over it. Case in point -- two cases, maybe three. Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz during the primary, very critical of Donald Trump, and yet Nikki Haley, working for him, Ted Cruz, a good ally on things like health care and tax reform. And today Donald Trump is playing with Lindsay Graham, who hasn't always lobbed soft balls in his direction.

GALEN: Playing golf.

KINGSTON: Yes, playing golf, excuse me.


KINGSTON: I mean, you know, they're out having a good time together. So the president can have these dust-ups and move on.

But I do think that Rich has a good point. What Senator Corker has done is given cover to a lot of critics, both Democrat and Republican, who can refer back to this a year from now. And so, to me, there's a down side to it.

BALDWIN: But, Jack, I hear you use the word dust up. And let's -- let's just, you know, let's talk about the truth. And I know it's a he said-he said situation. But, you know, Trump again tweeting that it was Corker who begged him for his endorsement and he said no. You know, we know what Corker and multiple CNN sources say that their version of events was, which is the very opposite. And if you read this Jonathan Martin piece in "The New York Times," Corker also said, I don't know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it. Everyone knows he does it, but he does.

I mean, Jack, the truth here.

KINGSTON: I -- well, I still don't know that -- I mean you have two -- two men, as you said, who have devolved into a he said-he said and I think it's unfortunate. I do think that if other members of the Senate felt as strongly as Mr. Corker did, they would step forward because the Senate is full of independent contractors. Even the House is, for that matter. And for them to be independent and say things against their own party is one way to leverage your power.

But I just think if you were running in the Tennessee senatorial primary right now, you want Donald Trump's endorsement. And I think that that's a very important thing that -- I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. I think the Iranian deal does have something to do with it because Bob Corker was pivotal in allowing that resolution to move forward. And right now the president's frustrated about it. He wants to decertify, or at least have the Senate take a second look at it. And maybe he's sending a signal out there. There's probably a back story that ties into the Iranian deal.

BALDWIN: Forget political futures --

GALEN: Well, he --

BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on.

GALEN: I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: Forget political futures for a second. When you look at what Senator Corker has said, Rich, you have a sitting U.S. senator suggesting the president is a national security risk.

GALEN: Yes. Well, I think -- I think he is. I think -- I'm not sure if Jack will agree with that. But I think --


GALEN: The issue is that President Trump --

BALDWIN: Isn't that a problem?

GALEN: President Trump has one -- one level of discussion and it's like this is spinal tap, it's 11, and he just leaves it always at 11, whether it's the head of a foreign government or a senator or a football player, it's always at 11. And that's the way he's lived his whole life. And it sounds perfectly normal to his ears. For the rest of us, it kind of clangs. And I think for our allies, Jack, it's very disconcerting because they don't know -- it's -- there's a line from "Patton" where somebody comes to George C. Scott and says, you know, general, the men don't know when you're acting and when you're not.


GALEN: And Scott's character says, it's not important for them to know, it's only important for me to know. KINGSTON: And, you know, I think of the case of North Korea, it

actually is a good thing. I do think -- one of the things that Senator Corker was saying is, there's really not a good cop/bad cop being played out here between Tillerson and Trump. But I disagree with that. Number one, I don't think Mr. Corker knows -- and I'm not claiming that I know -- but I do believe that they are doing a good cop/bad cop.

And one of the things that Donald Trump has come to the conclusion of is that North Korea is probably the number one global threat right now and that traditional communication with Kim Jong-un hasn't worked and so he is doing that. I'm going to be just as unpredictable as he is.

[14:10:04] BALDWIN: But what about communication with our allies, Jack? I mean is it using Trump's Twitter fingers to damage what's being done diplomatically behind the scenes and to sort of infer in multiple tweets, well, may have to go the military option.

KINGSTON: Well, you know, I do think the diplomatic community worldwide has always been a little bit jittery, a little bit nervous. They did not like Ronald Reagan. They said George Bush was a cowboy. And so I think that you just have to move on.

You have people like Tillerson and Mattis and John Kelly, who Corker was complimentary of, and everybody, I think, has a comfort level with. That Trump has surrounded himself with a very, very good cabinet. I don't think Bob Corker is going to become a member of it, but I think that the -- the truth is, there are a lot of people around Donald Trump. He's assembled a good team. And so that allows him to maybe say some of these statements that do make our allies in the traditional sense uncomfortable.

BALDWIN: OK. Jack Kingston, Rich Galen, thank you both so much.

GALEN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, taking a stand or political stunt? Vice President Mike Pence facing some tough questions today after this counter protest of his own during an NFL game. Was his walkout orchestrated and how much did that cost you, the taxpayer?

Also, piecing together new clues about the Las Vegas gunman, including his self-described gambling habits, risking up to $1 million a night, and what he did to avoid tipping hotel waitresses.

And, has Hollywood been too silent? Meryl Streep now speaking out against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and his alleged sexual harassment. We'll talk to a film producer who says his behavior was Hollywood's open secret.

You're watching CNN.


[14:16:12] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Bolduan. Today, Vice President Mike Pence is being publicly questioned over his

ethics after critics say he used taxpayer money to play politics. The vice president attended Sunday's Colts/49ers game in Indianapolis. He stood for the national anthem, but he and his wife abruptly left after noticing several 49ers taking a knee.

President Trump tweeted that he asked the vice president ahead of time to leave if any players chose to take a knee. So, you know, the question being asked, was this an act of protest or was it just a total publicity stunt? Some players say the administration is abusing its power to push a personal agenda.


ERIC REID, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS SAFETY: This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. It's really disheartening when everything that you were raised on, everything that I was raised on was to be the best person I can be, to help people that need help, and the vice president of the United States is trying to confuse the message that we're trying to put out there.


BALDWIN: The move also caught the eye of a top ethics watchdog. Citizens for Ethics tweeted, in all caps, can we just make it through a weekend without this administration abusing taxpayer dollars with jet travel?

Rene Marsh is our CNN aviation and government regulation correspondent and she is with us.

So you crunched the numbers. How much did this trip cost the American taxpayer?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: All right, get your calculators out. The Air Force says that it costs them $30,000 per hour to fly a C-32. That's the aircraft that's used to fly around the vice president. It's known as Air Force Two.

So we do know that Pence's flight from Las Vegas to Indianapolis on Saturday, it took about three hours and 20 minutes. The cost for that leg, $100,000. Pence then flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Sunday. That flight was about four hours and 45 minutes, and the cost of that, $142,500. So the grand total nearly a quarter million dollars.

Had Pence skipped the game, which he left very quickly, as you just pointed out, and he flew straight to Los Angeles, where he was scheduled to attend a fundraiser, the trip would have cost a lot less, about $45,000 total.

And all of these estimates that we're talking about here, Brooke, they do not include the cost of advanced personnel, Secret Service, as well as support on the ground. We should mention, some of these flight costs will be reimbursed by

the Republican National Committee. That's because Pence was attending a political event there.

But, this morning, really, critics are calling it an expensive political stunt on taxpayers' dime. Why? Because the Colts were playing the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick, if you've been following all of this, birthed the movement of taking the knee and that's his former team. Some would say Pence had to know that there was a high likelihood that some players would be taking the knee, and the president, as you pointed out, tweeted that he instructed Pence beforehand that he should leave.

So some people are saying that this was something that was planned. However, Pence's people are pushing back and saying that it wasn't -- this has been on his schedule for quite some time.

BALDWIN: All right. I want to get straight to the issue.

Rene, thank you so much.

I've got Gregg Doyel with me, sports columnist for "The Indy Star," and Drew Davison, he covers the Dallas Cowboys for "The Fort Worth Star-Telegram."

So, all right, Gregg, let me just begin with you. Your lead line, North Korea and its nukes can wait. The White House has declared war on the NFL and on the First Amendment.

Do you think the Colts got played?

GREGG DOYEL, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "INDY STAR": Oh, just a little bit, yes. And they -- they thought they were throwing Vice President Pence a political softball underhanded. You know, come for a photo shoot, a photo op, and watch Peyton Manning, your beloved quarterback, have his number retired. He's in the ring of honor. And what could go wrong?

[14:20:12] Well, they had no idea that Pence was going to turn Lucas Oil Stadium into an I-65 underpass and spray graffiti all over the concrete and then leave.

BALDWIN: That's how you see it. I'm curious, Drew, how do you see it?

DREW DAVISON, COVERS THE DALLAS COWBOYS FOR "FORT WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM": Yes, I agree. I mean this was not a shock that the 49ers kneeled. I mean they've been doing it ever since last season with Colin Kaepernick. So, clearly, you know, it was expected that the 49ers would kneel before the anthem.

BALDWIN: Isn't, though -- think of it this way. Is it possible to say, you know, what the vice president did, free and dramatic, a protest in and of itself, which is precisely what, you know, the administration has been attacking the players for doing?

DOYEL: If you're asking me that, the answer to that is no.

DAVISON: Oh, without --

BALDWIN: Gregg, you first. Gregg, go ahead.

DOYEL: Yes. Yes, right, there's a huge difference. I mean this is not a -- this is not a small thing. This is not a small point. And the people that don't want to -- that want to have the goalpost over here and find a way to be unhappy about this, they're not going to agree with this and I really don't care.

But it's one thing for you, Brooke, to kneel. It's one thing for me to kneel. It's one thing for the NFL players to kneel and have our form of political protest. When you've got Trump saying, if you kneel you should be fired. He's got freedom of speech, but he's using his speech to squash other speech. And you've got the vice president walking out, using his freedom of political expression, to really kind of ostracize and vilify an entire community, that crosses over from being politically speaking to being a bully.

BALDWIN: What about down in Dallas, Drew? I mean the Cowboys owner Jerry Jones he says now that he's going to bench players if they dare kneel and disrespect the flag, but didn't he take a knee, you know, some weeks ago? And I'm left wondering also of the optics of that, you know, a white owner threatening mostly black players, not to mention, isn't this the same guy who hired Greg Hardy, a blatant domestic abuser?

DAVISON: Oh, without question. I mean Jerry Jones has made a very controversial statement the other day saying he would bench players who kneeled for the national anthem. And they did have two players raise their fists at the end of the national anthem. Both of them played. So pretty much Jerry Jones said, you're not going to disrespect the flag. And, you know, to be honest, a good portion of the Dallas Cowboys fan base agrees with Jerry Jones, that players should stand.

But, of course, you know, that will get tested if one of the star players, a Jason Witten or a Dak Prescott or a Dez Bryant takes a knee, but none of those guys have really voiced any desire to do so.

BALDWIN: Do you think at all, just staying with you, do you think Jerry Jones is -- I mean he's -- (INAUDIBLE) doing what the White House would want him to do. Do you think he's backing himself into a corner here?

DAVISON: Yes, I really do. And it puts the players in a tough spot, too, because, you know, they're going to be under pressure now to kind of stand up and, you know, not be a quote/unquote sellout against the Cowboys owner. So, you know, it really puts a lot of people in tough places. But certainly Jerry Jones has always felt strongly about standing for the national anthem. They did the knee, as you alluded to, a couple of weeks ago, before the Arizona game, as a show of unity. But certainly, you know, there are some players, like I said, there's a couple who raised their fists at the end of the anthem. We'll see if they continue to do that and if any players really make a stand.

BALDWIN: Greg and Drew, thank you guys so much.

DAVISON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here, exclusive new details emerging about that Las Vegas shooter. A deposition laying out the killer's habits in his own words. The hours he spent playing video poker and even why he brought his own drinks, his own alcohol into the casinos.

And a Hollywood heavyweight fired from his own company amid allegations of sexual misconduct. A-list actresses now speaking out about him as many are wondering how the heck this went on for so long.


[14:28:50] BALDWIN: More than a week since a gunman opened fire on thousands of Las Vegas concert goers killing 58 of them, investigators still don't know why he committed such a heinous act.

But CNN has uncovered exclusive new details about the killer. This is insight into his personality and gambling habits from a 2013 deposition. So CNN has learned that he would wager up to a million dollars a night on video poker, and that he considered himself the biggest video poker player in the world. That's a direct quote from him. He brought his own liquor into the casinos because apparently he didn't want to spend any money tipping the hotel waitresses. And as he would waltz into these glitzy casinos, guess what he would wear, sweat pants and flip-flops.

Those details are spelled out in testimony he gave during a court deposition obtained exclusively by CNN. The shooter had sued a Las Vegas hotel for a slip and fall incident. He lost that case.

But I've got Anthony Curtis with me now. He's a professional gambler and he is the owner of a "Las Vegas Advisor." He's also spoken to several players who knew and played with the shooter.

And, so, Anthony, thank you so much for being with me.

[14:30:01] And reading his own words in his deposition, it gives us just a little bit more. I mean no one really knows much.