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Revenge Strikes Against ISIS; Trump Asia Trip; Mueller Probe Intensifies; Trump on Justice Department; Manafort and Agates Trial; New Twitter Safeguards; Dems Rigged Race. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:29] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday afternoon.

Retaliation for terror. President Trump making a bold statement today claiming the United States is hitting back at ISIS for the terror attack here in New York City this week that killed eight people. But he offered no evidence to back up his claim. Before leaving for his Asia trip today he tweeted this, quote, ISIS just claimed the degenerate animal who killed and so badly wounded the wonderful people on the west side was their soldier. Based on that, the military has hit ISIS much harder over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us.

And then he stopped and talked to members of the press before he headed out on his flight.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're doing is every time we're attacked from this point forward, and it took place yesterday, we are hitting them ten times harder. So when we have an animal do an attack like he did the other day on the west side of Manhattan, we are hitting them ten times harder. They claimed him as a soldier. Good luck. Every time they hit us, we know it's ISIS, we hit them like you folks won't believe.


BALDWIN: The Pentagon, for its part, offering a response, albeit a vague one to the president's claims. Let me read it for you. We have and we will continue to strike ISIS hard, and often, along with al Qaeda and other affiliated or likeminded violent extremist organizations wherever they are globally.

So let's get straight to retired U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren. He is a CNN military analyst and a former spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq.

So, colonel, thank you so much for your service to this country and good to see you, sir.

COL. STEVE WARREN (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thanks, Brooke. It's great to be here. BALDWIN: So let's just start -- let's work in facts. It's my

understanding you have talked to the Pentagon and CENTCOM and military in the region. And with regard to this, you know, ten times harder comment, what's the truth?

WARREN: Yes. The fact of the matter is, the strikes continue at pace. We've been striking ISIS as, of course, you and everyone knows for many years now, and we're continuing to do that. And the strikes have continued at pace.

Today, it was a slight uptick from yesterday, but it was down from two or three days ago. So wee average -- recently we've been averaging around ten strikes per day. Some days it's nine or eight. Other days it's 14 or 15. And those strikes continue at pace.

BALDWIN: So not ten times?

WARREN: So not ten times. Now maybe -- you know, it's hard to know exactly how to translate that ten times. I suppose one air strike is ten times stronger than one car plowing into innocent civilians. Maybe that's the math that he was using.

But the fact of the matter is, the military strikes that we -- that have been getting -- being conducted here for several years with extraordinary precision are continuing along at pace.

BALDWIN: And what you're looking at on your screen, this is what we've gotten from the Pentagon explaining strikes and different dates on the calendar, just so you at home can understand, you know, the -- what we're talking about here, what the official numbers are from DOD.

Colonel, with the president saying this, does this jump-start any big inquiry over at the Pentagon?

WARREN: I don't think it will, Brooke. I think what this is really is and I guess an understandable reaction to this terrible tragedy in New York and people want to lash out and people want to sometimes verbally, if not else, lash out.

But the fact of the matter is, there's a very deliberate, very well thought out, very well planned campaign to strike ISIS and to diminish their capabilities both in the Middle East and around the world. And that campaign will continue.

Is there a possibility of -- you know, there's two types of different targets that we strike. There's the fixed targets or preplanned targets. Those targets take days often and weeks, sometimes even months of planning and refinement before those targets are struck. The other type is what we call dynamic targets, which is planes, aircraft, warplanes on patrol searching for enemy fighters that they can strike.


WARREN: I suppose there's certainly a possibility of putting a few extra planes in the air for those dynamic strikes to hunt for some more fighters, but even that is problematic. The planes have to go through certain cycles of maintenance and refueling and crew rest. So I think we'll probably just keep a steady pace.

BALDWIN: Quickly, the president left today, 12 day, five stop big Asia trip here. What is the biggest land mine that he's going to manage or maneuver around?

[14:05:01] WARREN: Well, certainly North Korea is going to be the biggest thing to be concerned about on the military front. We see the North Koreans continuing. We've heard some intelligence that was public yesterday about the North Koreans planning yet another missile or nuclear strike. So the president's going to have to work hard to bring our allies, our partners in the region, as well as to reach out to those like China to see if we can't come together on a way to contain this North Korean threat.

BALDWIN: Colonel Steve Warren, thank you so much.

WARREN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Now to this, Russia interfered in the election, no secret, no doubt, despite what you may hear from the president. But the past couple of days make up the most significant week in this investigation of what the Trump campaign knew about that interference and the events that followed.

So let me take a moment just to outline what has happened.

So, first, two campaign officials indicted, one campaign adviser pleaded guilty to lying about his contact with the Russians. And despite being dismissed as a coffee boy, we now know that this adviser, George Papadopoulos, pitched the idea of a Putin meeting and the president heard him out. But, once again, when it comes to Russia and team Trump, amnesia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that's one person, but he was dealing, as he should have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?

TRUMP: No. No, nobody that I know of. Nobody that I know of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?

TRUMP: Look, look, look, how many times do I have to answer this question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just say yes or no on it?

TRUMP: Russia is a ruse. You have to get up and ask a question. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I ideal with does.


BALDWIN: That was February. This was today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. Took place a long time. Don't remember much about it.


BALDWIN: Hmm. Can't remember anything. Despite this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no hesitation. One of the great memories of all time. There was no hesitation.


BALDWIN: Another power player in the Trump orbit who seems to also suffer from amnesia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Now we are learning Sessions had a role in the campaign's contacts with the Russians, including 86-ing a meeting with Vladimir Putin. And another campaign adviser says he told Sessions about his own Russia trips. All of that even though under oath --


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States. Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.

Well, let me just say this without hesitation, that I conducted no improper discussions with Russians at any time regarding a campaign or any other item facing this country.


BALDWIN: On top of all of this, another clue that Robert Mueller is building an obstruction of justice case against the president, his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, has turned over documents now relating to his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

So let's talk about the president and his inner circle. With me now, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice reporter.

And so, Shimon, you saw all of that, right? For someone who boasts the best memory of anyone, there sure is a lot that the president and the White House don't seem to remember. At what point does this amnesia catch up with them? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, you know, as

we know, one of the folks on the -- one of the campaign adviser who was on the national security team during that campaign, George Papadopoulos, he's now cooperating with the FBI. So it's all going to be about what he's telling them about who he spoke to about his various interactions with the Russians, a professor, other people. So he's become a central player in this. And it's going to be about, what does Mueller, in the end, believe? What do the prosecutors on Mueller's team believe?

You know, and it's going to take more than just a person telling them. It's going to take e-mails. Maybe there is other forms of communications, text messages. You're going to need a little bit more evidence here because right now it's hard to really build a case and say -- prove that someone has forgotten something and by saying that they've forgot it, what they actually mean is they don't want to reveal it and so they're lying about it.

BALDWIN: Yes. Right.

PROKUPECZ: So it's going to take a lot. It's not a simple -- a simple thing to prove.

BALDWIN: Is it -- is it increasingly evident to you, though, that Bob Mueller is building an obstruction case against the president?

PROKUPECZ: Well, it seems at least, based on our reporting, that witnesses who have come before Bob Mueller and his team, the investigators there, they have been asking questions about the firing of the director, of the former FBI director, and that's where the obstruction case lies, right? It's, did -- was the FBI director fired because of this Trump wanting him to pledge loyalty because Trump asked him to sort of forgive Flynn? And the people, the witnesses who so far, a couple of them that have appeared before Mueller, they've been asked about that. And they've also been asked about Jared -- interesting, which this is interesting -- about Jared Kushner's role in the firing as well.

[14:10:36] BALDWIN: OK. Yes, it's all part of it. As you pointed out, as it all pertains to the Comey investigation and the firing.

Shimon, keep digging. Thank you so much, in D.C.

PROKUPECZ: Sure. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, President Trump seizing on this war within the Democratic Party after explosive allegations that the DNC rigged the primaries for Hillary Clinton. We'll talk live with a Democrat who wanted the job and predicted that it was rigged.

Also, no prison time. A military judge ruling that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban after deserting his post in Afghanistan will not have to serve any time behind bars. President Trump reacting to this ruling moments ago onboard Air Force One.

And "House of Card" fans, have you seen this today? Kevin Spacey here. "House of Cards," eight people from the show, current and former employees, describe how the actor turned their work environment into a toxic environment through a pattern of sexual harassment. We will talk to the reporter who broke the story, Chloe Melas.

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


[14:16:07] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump calling on both the Department of Justice and the FBI to go after his political enemies, specifically Hillary Clinton. Here is what the president said to reporters as he was leaving for Hawaii earlier this morning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself. But, honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things. And a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.


BALDWIN: David Catanese is with us, senior politics writer for "U.S. News and World Report."

David, I mean, as recent as this morning, this is a man, he is not hiding his desire whatsoever. And it is 100 percent inappropriate.

DAVID CATANESE, SENIOR POLITICS WRITER, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": I mean can we believe that we're -- here it is November 3rd and we're still relitigating the 2016 presidential election?

BALDWIN: Election.

CATANESE: Really on both sides. The Democrat Party, which is another story, and President Donald Trump.

I thought it was interesting though, his first comment though, I'm not really involved in the Justice Department, because the big question hanging over Trump, you know, presidency is, if he could be charged with obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. And Bob Mueller is looking at that. And I think his lawyers, you know, are very concerned about every tweet, about every comment he makes regarding the Justice Department because that's -- those are pieces of evidence that could be used to make a case that the president of the United States is interfering. Now, I'm not saying that particular comment, but I think Trump has to

be mindful of that, you know, given the investigation into him and to his campaign operatives and the Russia investigation.

BALDWIN: Yes. We were talking about Russia a second ago and sort of collective amnesia between, you know, the president and many people within the Trump White House. And you look at what happened this week, George Papadopoulos, you know, the guilty plea, the claim that it was he who suggested this meeting with Putin while he was sitting there with the president and that it was Jeff Sessions who 86-ed it.

Can they no longer claim, though, that there's nothing to see here based upon what we know?

CATANESE: No. No, they can't. And, look, amnesia can be politically convenient and it can be effective in the political atmosphere, but it's not going to work with Robert Mueller. It is not going to work if -- you know, this is where the perjury charge comes in, in these cases. It is -- it is the most common charge that gets leveled in a lot of these investigations. It is always lying about what you knew. And I think the scariest thing about this week for the Trump administration is that -- is that it was Papadopoulos, basically an unknown person in the political sphere. We'd always heard about Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn. These were names that we knew.

BALDWIN: Yes, no one knew -- no one knew this Papadopoulos name until this week.

CATANESE: Right, which means they are burrowing down. I mean we know the top Trump advisers. They're all going to be hauled in before Mueller. They're all going to undergo questioning. Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, those names we all know.


CATANESE: But the fact that he burrowed down two, three layers and are talking to folks that aren't on the radar screen should be very concerning to President Trump.

BALDWIN: There's that. Then, of course, the other news this week, right, with Manafort and Gates. And so now we're learning about the trial for these former campaign officials who were indicted. That begins next May. That's supposed to last for more than three weeks. And what I think is that the Russia cloud that obviously the president wants to go away. If we're talking May, David Catanese, that is going to be looming well into next year.

CATANESE: And a midterm election year. Just when the midterms are going to be ramping up, that trial is going to be front page news.

Striking that President Trump, you know, he's able to put forth plausible deniability on the Manafort and Gates charges because he said, hey, most of this stuff was done before the campaign. This was their private business interests. But shouldn't he even be considered that he chose a person to be his campaign chairman that ended up being indicted on all these? Even if they're separate from Russia. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt on that. Shouldn't he be concerned that the guy at the helm of this campaign was -- was -- is now charged with tax evasion and money laundering. And you --

[14:20:29] BALDWIN: Right. Like what was the vetting process? CATANESE: Right.

BALDWIN: What does that even look like, right?

CATANESE: There was no -- there was no vetting process. And I think that could have implications on other people, whether it be Papadopoulos or another foreign -- someone else that sat on his strategic foreign policy committee during his campaign that we are not aware of yet.

So, you know, he does get a little bit of leg room to say, hey, this was Manafort's thing. I wasn't involved in Manafort's business. But there -- he's not really showing any concern that, look, I've got -- my campaign chairman's been indicted. That's a fact. I mean that -- even let's say the Russia stuff never happened, that should be concerning.

BALDWIN: May. Buckle up. May.

David Catanese, thank you so much. Have a wonderful weekend.

CATANESE: Thanks, Brooke. You too.

BALDWIN: We are getting some breaking news in -- thank you -- on Twitter. So Twitter says it has now implemented safeguards after this rogue worker on their last day at Twitter shut down President Trump's account last night for all of 11 minutes, right? CNN's senior tech correspondent Laurie Segall is here with all the contacts all over the twittisphere.

I mean everyone was like, what's going on? How could this happen? What is Twitter doing about this?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Well, they just put out this statement. That said that they are putting out these safeguards. They said we're not going to be able to share all the details about the internal investigation, but they've made updates.

Let me give you the back story now.

BALDWIN: Please do.

SEGALL: So I've been talking to folks within the company. What happened after the election is they say they tightened the circle of people that had access to at realdonaldtrump, to Donald Trump's Twitter account. And so what this person said to me is, you know, either this person is someone high level or someone low level and they were able to get authorized access.

None of this looks good for the company. You know, last night Jack Dorsey sent out e-mails to the company saying we have a lot of work to do.

You know, it's a pretty big deal that someone is able to take off the president of the United States from Twitter. And I'll tell you from talking internally to employees at FaceBook, there is a lot of people --

BALDWIN: Twitter.

SEGALL: Sorry, at Twitter.

BALDWIN: It's OK. FaceBook's been on The Hill all week.

SEGALL: Yes, at Twitter. You know, there's a lot of people talking about Donald Trump's Twitter handle and his tweeting. And there are a lot of people who are unhappy with it. When he was tweeting about North Korea, one employee said to me, he's tweeting in a way that would insight violence. We should have taken it down.

You talk to another employee, Brooke, they say, no, this doesn't violate our terms of service. It shouldn't be taken down. And then you have another employer or -- as we have yet to confirm from potentially a contractor who is able to take down this account. You begin to see these decisions that are happening behind closed doors are impacting all of us and everyone wants to know about the transparency and we don't yet see that.

BALDWIN: Just crazy to think if someone could take it down for 11 minutes, what someone else could sort of --

SEGALL: Right.

BALDWIN: Jump in and tweet from the president's Twitter account --

SEGALL: Right.

BALDWIN: And the chaos it would ensue? And that would not be at all a good thing. So I'm glad they're working on safeguards. Follow up.

SEGALL: Yes. I will. I'll be on it.

BALDWIN: Laurie Segall, thank you so much.

SEGALL: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, President Trump seizing on the war within the Democratic Party after explosive allegations that the DNC rigged the primaries for Hillary Clinton. Coming up next, I'll talk live with a Democrat who wanted the job and predicted it was rigged.


[14:28:15] BALDWIN: All right, so the last thing Democrats need if they want to win big in next year's congressional races is any sort of civil war. Yet a soon to be released book from a top Democratic strategist and former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile opening up old wounds. President Trump even noted this book before leaving on his trip to Asia today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You ought to look at Hillary Clinton and you ought to look at the new book that was just put out by Donna Brazile, where she basically bought the DNC and she stole the election from Bernie. So that's what you ought to take a look at.


BALDWIN: Now, there are a lot of claims made in this book. The most explosive is that as interim DNC chair, she uncovered a financial agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

So with me now, Samuel Ronan. He made an unsuccessful bid for the DNC chair position and is currently running for -- hi -- for Congress in Ohio's first district.

So, Sam, thank you so much for being with me.

And, you know -- hi. You said this has always been an insider's game.


BALDWIN: Are you with me? Sam, you with me? We're live.

RONAN: I am.

BALDWIN: Are we good? OK. OK. So you said this was always --

RONAN: Yes. No, I keep hearing you talk and then I hear somebody saying hi.

BALDWIN: That's me, just because you keep waving at me. It's cool. We're good. We're on live television, so let's just roll.

So you've said that this was all an insider's game. Did the Clinton campaign do it? Do you think that they secretly controlled the DNC?

RONAN: It's not only that. Like I said back in January, not only did the Democrats rig the election, the research was already there that the Hillary Clinton campaign already colluded with the Democrat Party. They bought and sold the party and all of its infrastructure back in 2015 before this even got off the ground.

[14:30:00] And I made that very clear. And I also said during this race that with Perez at the helm it's going to continue to lose trust among people that the Democratic Party's learning its mistakes, that it's learned its lessons.