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Trump talks to Troops; Explosion Heard Near Missing Sub; Moore Attacks Accusers; Sessions Orders Background Check Review; Trump Talks Winning with Troops. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now. Thanks so much for joining us.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Boris, thank you so much and happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN on this holiday.

Let's begin with the president giving thanks to Americans who often deserve it the most, the U.S. military overseas. He spoke via video conference to troops in Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, the Arabian Gulf and those assisting in Syria. And as he heaped praise for those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, he also hailed his own part in their success.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say just directly to the folks in Afghanistan, everybody's talking about the progress you've made in the last few months since I opened it up. We opened it up. We said, go ahead, we're going to fight to win. We're not fighting anymore to just walk around. We're fighting to win. And you people are really -- you've turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody's seen. And they are talking about it.

To you and to all the Marines doing this great work in delivering defeat after defeat to ISIS, what you're doing with ISIS is, again, being talked about.

We're being talked about, again, as an armed forces. We're really winning. We know how to win. But we have to let you win. They weren't letting you win before. They were letting you play even. We're letting you win.

We're doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment's the lowest its been in 17 years. So as we give thanks for this holiday, I know I speak on behalf of all Americans when I say that we totally support you. In fact, we love you. We really do. We love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: So let's go to our CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who is live there in beautiful West Palm Beach, Florida, on this Thanksgiving afternoon.

Jeff Zeleny, we should also add on to that, the president held another event today where he did recognize the Coast Guard.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did, indeed, Brooke. He traveled actually with First Lady Melania Trump not far from Mar-a-Lago to a Coast Guard station here in south Florida. And he specifically singled out the work of the Coast Guard, of course, during this busy hurricane season that we've all been watching throughout the months from Hurricane Harvey, to Hurricane Irma, to Maria. And the president singled out the Coast Guard as incredible people. He said that, you know, that branch of the service is often not thought of in the same vein as the Marines and the Army and the Navy. Of course, after talking to the troops in Afghanistan there. But he did talk about the work of the Coast Guard, that they have saved lives. He called them incredible people. But then he went on to talk again about how good of a job he has done in nearly a year in office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told them, our country is doing great. And you folks are fighting so hard and working so hard. And it's nice that you're working for something that's really starting to work. We've cut back so much on regulation and all the waste and all the abuse and the stock market on Friday hit the all- time high. The highest it's ever been. Ever.


ZELENY: So the president, of course, taking credit for the high stock market, the economy that certainty has been good during his first year. I think a fact check of that would show that certainly confidence has been up since he's been in office, but also he inherited a strong economy. So perhaps a thanks Obama today in terms of the full breadth of the economy there.

But the president is now, Brooke, I can tell you, really enjoying this beautiful Florida weather here. It's about 80 degrees here. So he's been at his golf course here in West Palm Beach, Florida, for about three hours or so. The White House, of course, never confirms if he's golfing or not. My guess he is on this beautiful day here.

But, Brooke, we also got word a short time ago he'll be having dinner tonight at Mar-a-Lago with a few members of his family. The traditional Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes on the menu, as well as Florida stone crabs and red snapper, we are told. So, sounds pretty good.

BALDWIN: Florida stone crabs. I like that addition there. Appropriate for Florida.

ZELENY: Indeed.

BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny, hopefully you get to eat in between your live shots as well. Thank you, my friend. Happy Thanksgiving.

We're going to come --

ZELENY: Happy Thanksgiving.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We're going to come back to some of those themes that Jeff brought up, but let's get you to this story. This noise consistent with an underwater explosion has been detected near the last known location of that missing Argentine navy submarine. That could help rescuers find the 44-member crew as, of course, time is running out before their air supply is gone. A dozen nations have been searching by sea and air for this missing submarine since it was last contacted off the coast of Argentina. That was on November 15th.

So we have Barbara Starr working this from the Pentagon and Stefano Pozzebon is on the ground in Argentina's Mar del Plata navy base.

[14:05:07] So, Stefano, since you are there, let me just begin with you.

I mean I can't even begin to imagine all the family members and how nervous and fearful they may be about their loved ones. What are they sharing with you?


We need to understand how these people for day after day for the whole week that the ARA San Juan has been missing, they genuinely believe -- hoped and believed, they were confident that their relatives and dears (ph) could come back one day soon they will have been back. And today, the Argentina navy released this information, released that there has been this noise that is consistent with an explosion on that (INAUDIBLE) morning of the 15th of November when the San Juan last made contact with its home base here in Mar del Plata. And that turned everything. Everything changed and the relatives started to come to terms with the reality that those crew members may not be coming home.

And in particular one of them was able to speak with us. We share -- she share her story and she share some very strong words about the way that the navy has been communicate with her. Take a listen, Brooke.


MARIA ITATI LEGUIZAMON, HUSBAND ON MISSING SUB (through translator): They did not tell us that they're dead, but that's a logical assumption. Since Wednesday they are there. These sons of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) knew it. They did not give an explanation. They said that according to them, they now know. But how do they now know? How can they know that? I feel cheated. They haven't been located, but they talk about them being down 3,000 meters. They don't tell us anything. But I tell you that they're retched. They manipulated us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) POZZEBON: And, Brooke, let me tell you, that woman, Maria Leguizamon, we spoke with her yesterday, and yesterday her mood was completely different. She said she was happy about the way that the argentine navy was communicating with her and she was 100 percent confident and faithful that her husband would come back soon at home. And now you can see how the news of this noise that could intend an explosion on that fatal (ph) day changed everything. And everything took a very, very much darker tone, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The anger is understood.

I mean let's get to those noises.

Stefano, thank you.

Barbara Starr, tell me about this series of these underwater microphones and they've detected this explosion near the last known location of this submarine. Tell me more about that.


Brooke, I think Stefano is exactly right down there in Argentina. This is a very grim piece of news because what has happened is there is an international network of sensors that really is out there underwater, on land and it's aimed at trying to detect nuclear testing. That's why it's out there. A number of nations years ago banding together putting this sensor network out there as part of the comprehensive test ban effort in the world to stop nuclear testing. So they'd listen for nuclear tests. That acoustic is very specific.

On November 15th, the hydro engineers heard something very different. It was a very specific noise that they heard five hours after the submarine last made contact in that general area off Argentina. It is described as being a short, sharp noise that would be consistent potentially with an explosion.

Now, of course, until this search comes to a conclusion, they won't know for certain. But these guys are really expert in what they do. They are able to determine, it wasn't a nuclear test, it wasn't an undersea earthquake, it wasn't undersea volcanic activity, it wasn't whales or other fish or wildlife in -- maritime wildlife swimming by.


STARR: This was a very specific, short, sharp acoustic signature, a noise that their system registered and they think it is very possible. It is consistent with an explosion happening just a few hours in that location after the submarine last made contact, Brooke.

BALDWIN: How awful. They would know. They are the professionals.

Barbara, thank you.

Just thinking about families here today.

Thank you so much, Barbara. STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: And to Stefano, to you in Argentina.

Meantime, back here in the states, Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore is doubling down against the abuse allegations dogging his campaign after President Trump publicly voiced his support for him this week from the White House. Moore actually talked to a conservative talk show host in Alabama and said that the claims against him are false and misleading and he doesn't even know some of these accusers. He also said he believes that no one who abuses a child should ever be a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

So let's talk to Lauren Fox about this, CNN congressional reporter.

And so, Lauren, Moore is -- he accused the Democrats of trying to orchestrate his whole demise, is that right?

[14:10:06] LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: That's exactly right. And Roy Moore is, of course, in Alabama and he continues to campaign, even as many Republicans in Washington have called for him to step aside. He's avoided the press largely over the last two weeks since multiple women have come forward, some alleging that he pursued them when they were teenagers, others saying that he sexually abused them.

Now, Roy Moore did talk to that conservative talk show host. Here's what he had to say about the allegations that have been levelled against him.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: This was a complete shock out of left field. And it came the day after they said I was 11 points ahead.


MOORE: And this is a shock to the Democrats. They saw a seat in Alabama that they could take and they had the support of some in the Washington establishment that didn't -- doesn't really care. They want who they can't handle.

I did not know these two women. I did not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you definitely didn't know Beverly Nelson?

MOORE: I didn't know Beverly Nelson. And I didn't know --


MOORE: Leigh Corfman. And I never dated underage women. And I never engaged in sexual misconduct with anybody.

I mean you have to understand, I was deputy district attorney, then the circuit judge. I go by the law. You don't -- it's very hypocritical to go by, you know, there's this law and you enforce it and then you go and violate it. You just don't do that. And I didn't do that. And that's what is being alleged. It's very hurtful.


FOX: Obviously strong words there from Roy Moore. You know, moving forward, it's hard to say exactly what will happen in the Senate. More and more lawmakers have called for him to exit the race. It doesn't look like he's going anywhere anytime soon, according to that interview.

BALDWIN: Well, so he mentioned one of the accusers he says he doesn't know is this Beverly Nelson. And we know that her attorney, Gloria Allred -- and Moore is also really going after her. What is he saying about that?

FOX: Well, if you remember, when Beverly Nelson held that press conference, she had a yearbook that she said that Roy Moore had signed.


FOX: And this is what he tweeted earlier. He said, good morning, Alabama, day eight of Gloria Allred's refusal to turn over her fake yearbook for third-party examination.

So, clearly, this is part of the campaign to discredit the accusers and what they have been telling reporters about Roy Moore's action when they were teenagers. This is going to continue. It's clearly what they've been doing in this campaign.

BALDWIN: What -- just lastly, he also eluded to potential, you know, legal action. What did Roy Moore say specifically about that?

FOX: Well, he was very vague in that interview that we showed some clips of earlier. You know, he said that they were looking into it, that things like this take time. So, obviously, it's unclear exactly whether or not his campaign is planning to pursue legal action against either the women or "The Washington Post," which first reported these allegations.

BALDWIN: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you very much in Washington.

FOX: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Also new today, tens of thousands of names purged from the FBI background check system when it comes to buying guns. Hear why.

Also ahead, one of the top -- one of the president's top advisers accused of breaking an ethics law again. This time for her comments right in front of the White House.

And a tragic mystery. He was the American released by North Korea when former President Jimmy Carter had stepped in some years ago, but now he's dead after being found off this highway engulfed in flames. What happened? Let's talk about it. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:17:49] BALDWIN: We are back on this Thanksgiving Thursday. Thanks for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway accused of breaking federal law in a new ethics complaint against her. This time this is regarding her comments on Alabama's all-important Senate race. Conway slammed the Democrat in the race here, Doug Jones, during this Fox News interview. Jones is running against Republican Roy Moore.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts. He's weak on crime, weak on borders. He's strong on raising your taxes. He's terrible for property owners.


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- this tax bill through.


BALDWIN: So here's why what she said is so significant, especially standing there right at the White House. This is according to the former Obama ethics chief, Walter Schaub, saying that Conway violated this law prohibiting federal employees from using their official position to try and influence an election for better or for worse, you know, by taking sides. He says Conway, because of this, should be fired. The White House says Conway did nothing wrong.

And if this sounds vaguely familiar, this is why. Conway was accused of a similar violation back in February. That is when she urged viewers to, quote, go buy Ivanka's stuff. Remember that during a Fox News interview, essentially a free plug for the president's daughter's fashion line. Conway was not punished then for that ethics breach. The White House says she acted inadvertently and wouldn't do it again.

Now to this alarming discovery about the FBI background check system for buying guns. Tens of thousands of names have now been purged from the system all because of how the FBI is now defining fugitive. This all comes as the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is ordering a review of the database after the Texas church massacre exposed lapses in the system.

So Laura Jarrett is with me now, our justice reporter, to talk about these changes.

Explain what's happened.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, well, happy Thanksgiving, Brooke. BALDWIN: Same to you.

JARRETT: Thanks.

The gist of what's happening here is that there's been a narrowing of what it means to be a so-called fugitive from justice. And all that is, is it's a category that disqualifies someone from buying a gun and it gets triggered through that national background check system.

[14:20:06] But there have been something of a debate for a while about who should count as a fugitive in that category. And in February, the FBI changed its legal interpretation so that only those with outstanding warrants who actually cross state lines to avoid prosecution for a crime now count as a fugitive and would be prohibited from buying a gun. But when they did that and they purged everyone who did not count, it removed tens of thousands of people from the background checklist.

BALDWIN: All right. So then if Sessions decides that he wants to revise that definition, a fugitive, can the FBI then recover all of those thousands of names?

JARRETT: Well, that remains to be seen. Sessions has now ordered this 60-day comprehensive review to be conducted by the ATF and the FBI and a Justice Department official tells me that it's currently working with law enforcement partners across the country to make sure anyone who should be legally prohibited from buying a gun gets put back on that list, that national clearing house, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. And then just back to the shooting in Texas, the Sutherland Springs shooting, what does the attorney general want improved about this system regarding what happened with that gunman?

JARRETT: Yes. At bottom here, Attorney General Sessions just wants to make sure that all of the relevant law enforcement components are properly feeding information into the system. In a statement yesterday, Sessions said the recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, revealed that relevant information may not be getting reported to the NICS, which stands for that national background check system. And he goes on to say this is alarming and it's unacceptable. And remember, in that case, the shooter had a conviction and a record of domestic abuse, but the Air Force failed to report it to federal authorities.


JARRETT: And so it didn't get triggered in that background check, Brooke.


Laura, thank you very much.

JARRETT: Thanks.

BALDWIN: More on the president's holiday message with the troops in which he attacks his predecessors and says they weren't letting the military win before his presidency. We'll discuss that.

Also ahead, a high-profile Democrat and Obamacare architect slamming the Clinton White House, saying Bill and Hillary Clinton doubled down on abusive behavior. You will hear her reasons and why Hillary Clinton, she says, shares the blame.


[14:26:45] BALDWIN: All right, let's go back to the president's message today to our men and women in the military spending their holidays far, far from home, far from their families. President Trump was thankful for their sacrifice, but also a tad boastful about his achievements.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fight against ISIS, it's coming our way. It's coming our way. Big, big difference. A lot of things have happened. They say we've made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration. And that's because I'm letting you do your job.


BALDWIN: All right. CNN political commentator Symone Sanders is with me, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders' presidential run, and CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson, a conservative talk show host and author.


BALDWIN: Welcome. Happy Thanksgiving, you guys.


BALDWIN: Thank you so much for coming in on the holiday to talk through this.

And, Ben, let me just start with you because I think it is awesome that the president, you know, gave this message to the troops, the message of, you know, we've got your back, back here at home, specifically even when he talked to the Coast Guard later and, you know, spotlighting the 16,000 lives that the Coast Guard saved during Harvey and the flooding in Texas.


BALDWIN: But here's the but, you know, this theme keeps popping up where the president brings up, you know, previous administrations. And my question is, why even go there? It's Thanksgiving.

FERGUSON: Look, I think he likes anybody that's in the military. He obviously has a lot of respect for them. And he likes the fact that now they're able to do their job. And he's hearing that feedback. So I do think there's going to be a compare and contrast. One of the biggest concerns and frustrations with men and women in the

military was the rules of engagement and how they were not able and limited in doing their job when they clearly could see members of terrorist organizations that were actively involved in parts of war where they knew where they were and they wanted to go get them. The president said, look, you elect me, I'm going to let you do your job. And he is letting them do their job and we're having great success in taking out ISIS.

So I don't have a problem with him saying this at all. And I think if you listen to the men and women, I mean he even said it, they're telling me, you know, you guys are doing this. Keep it up.

I think it's a great day of encouragement. We're taking it to ISIS. We're having victories against them. And I think you can celebrate that and be thankful for the men and women in service today all over the world who are not with their family members.


FERGUSON: There's a lot of empty seats right now in America because family members are serving overseas. And for the president to give them this message of, I'm proud of you and I love what you're doing and keep it up and we've allowed you to actually do your job, I think it's great on Thanksgiving.

BALDWIN: I'm with you and I think the president, you know, he is making strides. The U.S. is making strides, you know, fighting to decimate ISIS.

And, Symone, I don't know if you agree, but, you know, I think he does deserve some of the credit. But to hear him say, I'm letting you do your job. I'm letting you win. How did that sit with you?

SANDERS: Yes, I mean, I, again, I agree with you, I thought it was absolutely great that the president took time to send this message directly to our troops and folks serving overseas. I have family members who are serving overseas right now who aren't able to be with us on Thanksgiving. So we appreciate everyone's sacrifice.


[14:29:46] SANDERS: But it seemed as though Donald Trump just can't seem to talk about his quote/unquote success without taking a dig at someone else. And I don't know if it's because he believes this is a competition. But I know that national security experts and former Obama administration and Bush administration national security officials have noted that the rules of engagement have not changed that drastically.