Return to Transcripts main page


Corker Raises GOP Agenda Concerns; Jones To Players on Anthem; Jemele Hill Suspended; Stars Condemning Weinstein. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JUDD GREGG (R), FORMER SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake. I tend to think that it probably doesn't translate yet into losing things that are important to the Republican agenda such as the tax bill, which is absolutely critical in a Republican agenda. But it certainly makes it more difficult for him to get things through the Senate that are marginal and which there's a reason senators might not support anyway.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, why do you think it doesn't hurt him? I mean you saw McCain, Murkowski, Collins go against him on health care. Flake went with him. But have we not seen some backlash? Now, they also fundamentally don't agree with the health care proposal that was put forward. I just wonder why you think it won't harm him on some of these big issues, like tax reform?

GREGG: Well, health care was different. Health care, there was a real schism in our party over it because of the --


GREGG: And included expanded entitlements. But tax reform, there's no schism in our party. There's a -- there's a genuine belief by almost every -- by every Republican that tax reform is needed, that you need to lower rates, that you need to create an incentive for businesses to stay in the United States and create jobs here rather than ship jobs overseas. And so we need a new tax law.

So I think there's an identity of interest there. And we're in a period which I call survival politics where basically if the Congress doesn't pass something pretty soon that's pretty substantive, and tax reform's the best vehicle and really the only show in town now, they're all going to be in trouble. All Republicans will be in trouble in the next election. They understand that. So I think the survival politics overwhelms the personal tit for tat that's going on between the president and some senators.

HARLOW: Survival politics. That is certainly catchy. And I follow your drift there. Aren't they already in danger with what Steve Bannon is doing right now?

GREGG: Yes, well, there's always been, within our party, this cadre of folks and it usually hasn't been a majority who believe in a circular fire squad. And rather than pushing out our issues, want to internalize our differences. Unfortunately, Mr. Bannon seems to be taking that course and it's not constructive, in my opinion.

You've got some really talented people in our party that are in the Senate. And, yes, they may not always agree with the president, but senators are independent by nature. That's how they -- how the Senate is structured. So basically taking them on because you dislike them over one or two issue is a big mistake for us as a party.

HARLOW: Well, but he's also looking at the polling and the polling does show that the president has a higher approval rating among Republican voters than Republican leadership in Congress.

GREGG: Yes, that would be true probably in a general poll. But in state by state issues, I don't think it's necessarily true. And you have a chance of losing some of these seats if you create an internal fight. We lost two very important races while I -- when I was in the Senate, one in Maryland and one in Nevada, over this type of circular firing squad approach. And we should have kept -- we should have won both those seats.

HARLOW: You're saying 2010?

GREGG: I mean -- it was Delaware and Nevada. And, you know, this is not constructive to maintaining the majority in the Senate of the Republican majority, in my opinion.

HARLOW: Your name has been floated -- I'm sure you've seen the headlines -- as a possible replacement for Tom Price as the next Health and Human Services secretary. Any interests in the job? Would you take the job if the president asked?

GREGG: Well, I can't imagine who floated my name, to be very honest with you. I know my wife certainly didn't do it, because she doesn't want to go back to Washington. But as a practical matter, I'm really not interested in pursuing that opportunity, should there even be such an opportunity, which I seriously doubt there would ever be.

HARLOW: Is that a flat out no? If they asked, would you do it? I mean he's got some big things, whomever takes that job, on your plate?

GREGG: No, I'm a great believer in public service. And when the president asks you to do something, you have to seriously consider it. But he's not going to ask me and I don't think I'm going to have to seriously consider anything of that nature.

HARLOW: Former Senator Judd Gregg, who is spending as much time away from Washington, we should know. Despite taking your grandkids there to visit, you've been spending most of your time in New Hampshire. A smart man. Nice to have you. Thank you.

GREGG: This is a great place for people to visit now. Thank you.

HARLOW: It is. A beautiful place in the fall. Thank you so much.

GREGG: Oh, yes.

HARLOW: So the president takes aim at the NFL, and this morning the angle is their tax breaks. What does he mean? We're going to dive into that ahead.


[09:38:47] HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, President Trump taking aim at the NFL over protests of the national anthem. The president tweeting, quote, why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our anthem, flag and country. Change tax law.

So the president also has taken on ESPN host Jemele Hill, who was suspended for two weeks following a series of tweets about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. This, of course, after she did attack the president on Twitter as well.

The president, meantime, is praising Jones for his mandate to his Cowboys players, stand for the national anthem or be benched.

There is a lot to get through this morning. This is the water cooler discussion in offices and homes across America.

So, Christine Brennan, our sports analyst is here, and our legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Nice to have you both.

Christine, let me start with you.

So really great reporter, Chris Mortensen of ESPN, had a phone conversation with Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys last night, with so many headlines. And Jerry Jones essentially said, stand for the anthem or you're going to be benched. Here's what's really interesting that Chris Mortensen also tweeted from this conversation. Jones emphasized NFL game ops manual several times and then said this, you know who reminded me about the game ops policy? Donald Trump.

[09:40:01] He is a personal friend of the president, helped support the president. What do you make of this?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Well, it's fascinating because what Jerry Jones is saying is that if a player kneels during the national anthem, he's not going to play in that game. What if the entire offensive line decides to take a knee? Is he just going to have them all replaced? What about his quarterback Dak Prescott?

You've got potential chaos. I don't think it would happen because the Cowboys have not had that many players protesting. Of course, just two weeks ago, as you know, Poppy, Jerry Jones himself was taking a knee.

HARLOW: He knelt.

BRENNAN: But it was --

HARLOW: Do we have that photo, guys? Jerry Jones knelt before the anthem with his team.

BRENNAN: But it was -- it was before. But that was seen as a sign of protest. That was not seen as a positive.

HARLOW: There we go.

BRENNAN: That was -- towards Donald Trump. That was seen as a negative towards Trump. And I thought it was a repudiation of everything Trump had been doing that weekend.

HARLOW: So a total 180 now.

BRENNAN: Right. Exactly.

Jerry Jones is an interesting character. Obviously he owns the team. This is a free country.

HARLOW: sure.

BRENNAN: He can do what he wants and he can say what he wants. To implement it, I think, will be interesting.

HARLOW: Interesting, Joey, that manual, the ops manual for the NFL, wasn't really publically available. Deadspin and some other outlets have now published this section of it that I read. And it does say that players should stand. It doesn't say you're going to be benched if you don't. But it says, here's how we want you to conduct yourself, you should stand.

Just to be very clear, as a private entity in America, does a corporation like the NFL, these teams, have the right legally to bench a player, to fire a player if they want, for expressing their personal beliefs by kneeling during the anthem?


So, to be clear, it's a private entity, that is the NFL, and as such it certainly can. You want to suspend someone for kneeling or not standing or whatever you want, you can do it. The fact is, is that the Constitution, while it may not protect the players inasmuch as it's a private entity, it doesn't make what the NFL is doing, or Jerry Jones more specifically, proper or right.

Just back up one minute, Poppy. You want to talk about law. Let's talk about that great thing that we call the Constitution. And the greater thing within it that we call the First Amendment. So what you do is now, what good is it to have a First Amendment, what good is it to have a Constitution if you're punishing people for practicing the very values that the Constitution stands for? I just don't get it. It's fascinating to me.

So we say people die for the liberties that we have. People have fought to protect this country. But if you practice to practice the liberty, we're going to bench you, we're going to suspend you, you should fire those SOB's? I just don't understand it.

Going one step further, to Jemele Hill's issue, you're going to suspend her for exercising her right to free speech? So if you say something that your employer appreciates and your employer supports, then, hey, it's all good, have your show. But if you say something that runs afoul of your employer, then, oh, we can't have that, you're suspended. I just think it's an outrageous thing that we're experiencing right now.

HARLOW: So let's give people the background here, OK. She, Jemele Hill, host on ESPN, called the president, a few weeks ago, white supremacist on Twitter. The White House called it a fireable offense. ESPN did not fire her, but she apologized for that.

And now here's what she's tweeted. A series of tweets. Jerry Jones has also created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don't kneel, someone will see them as sellouts. If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don't place the burden squarely on the players.

Now, Christine, she said she was not advocating a boycott, but she did get a two-week suspension from ESPN. What do you make of it?

BRENNAN: I know Jemele well and I'm a big fan. And I think she's a very important voice, Poppy, in our culture and in sports. And I think it's a shame that she's not going to be heard these next two weeks.

What we don't know is, of course, what ESPN had told her about the first set -- the first situation with the tweet a couple weeks ago.

My advice would be for any of us, myself included, I rarely tweet, is to use the forum that she has to make these same statements. Jemele has a wonderful TV show on ESPN. She's been a columnist for years, a newspaper person. Write a column. Write an essay. Put all of this not in 140 characters, but take five minutes to discuss it on air or do it in a story or an essay. And that's such a -- I think that would be the perfect place for her and the avenue and the venue, not the bizarre and weird world of Twitter.

HARLOW: Bizarre and weird world of Twitter. An apt description this morning, I think.

Joey Jackson, final thought on that?

JACKSON: I don't get it. I mean so you can expound and wax poetic in an essay and on your show about your beliefs and what you consider valuable, but if you put it into 140 characters it's somehow unacceptable? And then we have Jemele Hill, who's held to a different standard that the president of the United States, who could tweeting about anything he wants and, oh, that's OK. But Jemele tweeting about it is somehow improper?

And isn't it censorship, by the way, to tell people what they can't say or can't do? And what if she said, you know what, I agreed with Jerry Jones, everyone should stand, would she have been suspended for that?

And so I think there just needs to be a little bit more tolerance. And if we're going to have a discussion about the Constitution, I mean why are we punishing people who practice what we value, what we hold in such high regard? [09:45:11] You can burn the flag, the Supreme Court says, but goodness

forbid if you say something that your employer may not like, then you know what, you're suspended and, worse, you're fired.

And final thought, Poppy. You have the president of the United States going after tax breaks now? So I thought legislation was designed to further some societal interests, not punish people who disagree with you. It's just -- it's a terrible thing that's going on and we have to wrap our heads around it, wrap our minds around it and really allow people to express who they are. I think ESPN, and I think people who watch it know that Jemele Hill is speaking for herself and not her employer. So I just -- I'm finding it hard to have this conversation.

HARLOW: Joey Jackson -- but we're glad you're having it.

JACKSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: It's an important one. And please come back and let's continue to have it.

Joey Jackson, thank you. Christine Brennan, thank you.

If you're trying to understand the tax issue, it's kind of complicated. What does the president mean? Go to and they've got a great story right there.

Ahead for us, more Hollywood stars slamming Harvey Weinstein over his sexual harassment. Who is not calling him out after a long, public appearance this week? Hillary Clinton. He raised a lot of money for her. So why is she not saying anything? Next.


[09:50:44] HARLOW: This morning, the list of Hollywood stars condemning Harvey Weinstein is growing. Judy Dench, Kate Winslet, Glenn Close, George Clooney, all following Meryl Streep who did the same yesterday. Now Weinstein has been fired. Several board members out of the company as well. Actress Rose McGowan taking to Twitter with a message for the remaining board members. Her message, you knew, you funded, you are guilty, resign.

"The New York Times" reports McGowan reached a settlement with Weinstein back in '97. That was 20 years before these accusations of sexual harassment, some of which he has said, I acted inappropriately, were made public.

Joining me live to talk about this, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources," and our Margaret Hoover, CNN political commentator, Republican consultant, worked in the Bush White House.

Thank you for being here.

There are so many questions. Brian, let's just get to the nuts and bolts. You've got a board meeting among the remaining Weinstein board members today. You've got Rose McGowan essentially saying, you're complicit, right, how did you not know? You say you didn't know about these settlements or all of this over 20 years. Where does this go for Hollywood?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one thing, the company's future is in doubt. The Weinstein Company. It's probably going to change its name. It's lost half its board members. The co- founder, Harvey Weinstein, of course, fired on Sunday. And Weinstein has not said a word publicly since then.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: Normally he would erupt right away, but he has stayed quiet. What he's telling his friends is that his brother Bob is responsible for this. Bob betrayed me. He leaked to "The New York Times." He stuck the knife in my back. That's the theory that Harvey is telling his friends.

Why does that matter? It matters because it doesn't sound like he's taking responsibility.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: It doesn't sound like he's looking inward and saying, I need to account for these decades of incidents, this disgusting behaviors, many of which, as you said, Poppy, he has admitted to. He denies some of the allegations, but he admits to some of it.

He's been quiet, so we'll see what he says next. Meantime, there's even more stories to come, more allegations from more women expected from "The New Yorker" and from our outlets.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: So this sexual harassment scandal, yes, it's about Harvey Weinstein, but it's also about who else knew about it.

HARLOW: Margaret, let's talk about the politics of this, OK, because he raised a ton of money for big name Democrats. He was a bundler for Hillary Clinton in 2016 in her campaign, over $1.4 million raised for her, a little over $600,000 for President Obama in 2012. And then listen to the former first lady, Michelle Obama, when he was at the White House. Here is what she said in 2013.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: Well, I want to start by thanking Harvey Weinstein for organizing this amazing day. Harvey. This is possible because of Harvey. He is a wonderful human being, a good friend, and just a powerhouse.


HARLOW: Now, again, this is before any of this was made public, OK?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course. HARLOW: But, Margaret, Hillary Clinton, you know, did a 90 minute Q

and A this week and she wasn't asked about it, but she didn't offer it up. She didn't talk about it. She didn't say anything about it. Does she need to? Do Democrats -- any Democrats who took money need to?

HOOVER: Well, look, it's important for everyone -- look, this is beyond politics, right, Republicans, Democrats. This behavior should be condemned, widely condemned, but especially individuals who accepted money from him who say they are friends with him, and also pretend to be leaders for female equality and for young women. It does beg for comment.

And Hillary Clinton, yesterday, was tweeting about children's books. So, you know, she could tweet. She doesn't have to make a speech and nobody has to sort of make a big deal out of it, but it does call for leadership and a condemning of the behavior.

Look, we, on the right, you know, the Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, these are names on the right that the political spectrum of the right that also behaved incredibly badly, abused power, put women in terrible positions for many, many years and conservatives were quite slow to distance themselves or condemn that behavior. I have been heartened that many Democrats have said they're giving back their money immediately.

[09:55:01] STELTER: Yes.

HOOVER: But you do need to see like a Hillary Clinton and a Barack Obama, and especially Michelle Obama, who said that verbiage and the words that Donald Trump used over the course of the campaign made her sick to her stomach --

HARLOW: It's an interesting point.

HOOVER: It begs -- begs for a response or some kind of thing.

STELTER: But can I just say, it's not just women. It's not just Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: It's men.

STELTER: It's also Barack Obama and Donald Trump. It's the men.

HARLOW: Totally.

STELTER: The men are responsible as well.

HARLOW: If you read Lena Dunham's op-ed in "The Times" today --

HOOVER: Exactly.

HARLOW: Because she says the silence of men. So where are those voices too.

We appreciate it, Brian Stelter, Margaret Hoover.

Stick around, we've got you doing double duty today. Stay with us. A lot of political headlines ahead for you. Thank you, guys, very much.

Read Brian's reporting on this. Just go to for that.

Ahead the breaking news on these horrific wildfires in California. Entire subdivisions burned to the ground. Hundreds of calls about missing people. Ten people at least dead. We will take you there live, next.