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Trump to Troops: They Weren't Letting You Win Before Me; Is Republican Congressman a Victim of Revenge Pornography?; Facebook Will Show Users if They Saw Russian Propaganda; Deal Ghostwriter: Trump's Frightened by African Americans. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:00] PFC JOSHUA ROBERSON, US ARMY: I would like to say, I love you guys very much. I apologize I won't be there for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but happy holidays to you guys. I will see you guys soon.

Also to Derek Ballard (ph), my step dad, I would like to say I love you very much, too, and I will see you soon, and happy holidays to you.

I'd also like to give a recognition to Tyler Gray (ph), that's one of my best friends back home and he is attending UCF at the current moment. And he's been one of the main people who have talked to me as much as possible along with Jordan Roberts.

She is a softball player at the University of Florida. They're very supportive of me and my decision to join the army. And I would like to say I appreciate them.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We are grateful for them as well. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It's thanksgiving. Thank you so much for being with me, happy thanksgiving to you.

And in the holiday spirit here, the president is giving thanks to Americans who deserve it most, like the men you just saw there, Our U.S. military overseas.

He talked earlier to video -- to troops via video conference in Iraq and Turkey, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula and those assisting in Syria, and he also visited a coast guard station there in Florida where he spotlighted the 16,000 lives the coast guard saved after hurricane Harvey.

Think about that for a second. And as the president heaped a lot of praise, of course, to those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, he also hailed his own achievements.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. So thank you very much.

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.

The stock market on Friday hit the all-time high. The highest it has ever been, ever. In your whole long life, the stock market is higher than it has ever been.

And that means your 401ks and all of the things you have, you know, whether it's -- even if you're in the military, you have a country that is really starting to turn. You know, we want to have a strong country. We want to have a country where I can buy new coast guard cutters and not have to worry about it.


BALDWIN: So let's start there. Joining me now CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, my favorite general and admiral on the same screen on Thanksgiving Day. I feel like a lucky gal.

Thank you both so much. Happy thanksgiving and thanks for everything that you've done for this country. General, you're up first. Just your response, I mean, just to the president speaking to troops today.

RET. LT. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, happy thanksgiving, BROOKE.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

HERTLING: I can speak for, John, and say both of us are thankful for you, and all of your team there at CNN for what you do, especially your connection with the army and the Navy. Thanks for what you've done this year on that.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

HERTLING: In terms of the president, I'm thankful for the fact that he did take time out of his schedule and talk to the forces that are stationed around the world, that he went to a coast guard station, a small coast guard station near Key Largo -- I'm sorry, Mar-a-Lago, and talked to those young sailors.

That's terrific. I'm a little bit concerned about some of the things he said. He -- I would really caution the president about using the phrase, winning now, because, truthfully, I think that's somewhat not heard in the right way by soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that have been fighting in this conflict for the last 17 years who have always been attempting to win. And truthfully, I think, John, would back me up on this and say there

is not a whole lot of difference between what was going on more than ten months ago and what's been happening in the last ten months.

BALDWIN: Well, John Kirby, I want to hear from you, but we also we want to talk to you, too, just the previous administration. And you heard the president, you know, sort of hit his predecessors, and again, the quote, we have let you win. They, meaning previous administrations, presumably, weren't letting you win before.

RET. REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, I take exception to that obviously having been at the Pentagon and State Department and in the previous administration, and seeing firsthand how hard our troops, and not just our troops, our diplomats round the world have been trying to counter threats like ISIS and Al Qaeda in some pretty difficult places.

I think that was an unfair swipe at the previous administration. He didn't need to do that because I agree with the general. It was nice that he made the outreach. It was nice that he said those things.

[15:05:00] I was really glad to see that he brought the families into that discussion and really noted the service, and the sacrifice of the families that are waiting back home this Thanksgiving. But he didn't need to go there because first of all, it's not factually accurate.

I mean, one of the reasons why ISIS is so diminished now is because the Obama administration in concert, oh, by the way, with 65 other nations put such great pressure on them in Iraq and Syria.

BALDWIN: Let me move on from that, and, admiral, let me ask you about this story out of Argentina, right? This Argentine missing submarine is just awful for these families. These 44 crew members on board, it's believed they're on their last couple of hours of oxygen.

And we're now learning that there is this noise consistent with potentially an underwater explosion detected around its last known location. I mean obviously you're not working this case specifically. You don't know the ins and outs, but what does your gut tell you?

KIRBY: Well, it doesn't look good, I mean I have to be honest. The news that the hydro acoustic sensors picked up this -- what they considered violent and non-natural sounds in keeping of that with an explosion back on the last day that we had contact with a sub. It's not a good sign.

It doesn't mean anything right now. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions, but it's certainly not a good sign. Secondly, as you mentioned there, Brooke, they're on -- we're going into a week now since we lost contact.

And they estimated that they have about seven or eight days of provisions about that much in oxygen, we're assuming they couldn't make oxygen, so all that means that we're really racing against the clock here. And the Argentine Navy in concert with like three or four other navies

are working really hard to try to find this boat and its crew. They are still considering this as of today, a rescue operation.

So they haven't given up all hope and I think we need to be -- our thoughts and prayers need to be not only with the families that are waiting for word but all those crewmen are out there looking for them.

BALDWIN: You are 100 percent correct. Before I let both of you go, just sort of on a lighter note, general, to you. I think you and I were e-mailing earlier today. And so I wanted to just talk military and Thanksgivings past and I wanted to ask you, sir, about your beer and Twinkie delivery in Northern Iraq.

HERTLING: Yes, well, I had this great command sergeant major when I commanded the first army division by the name of Roger Blackwood. And he was big into ensuring our soldiers got Twinkies.

When we were commanding together as a team in Northern Iraq, we had a pretty large area of operations and we made a vow to each other that we would go out both on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, and visit every single one of our forward operating bases.

And we had 79 of them. For two straight days, we were hitting -- flying different places. And I would bring in the beer and he would bring the Twinkies, and he got -- that he had receive from home, literally cases of Twinkies to supplement the cans of turkey and sweet potatoes we were given as soldiers.

Brooke, I've got to tell you, for as many times as you say you really miss your families and you do when you're deployed. The bonding and the comradely among soldiers who are accomplishing a mission is phenomenal.

And I just remember one night in a small fob at about midnight one of the last places we hit on Thanksgiving Day, there were a bunch of soldiers that were coming back from patrol. And they not only got the cold turkey and the cold coffee, but they also got some Twinkies and beer.

And sitting with those guys and talking about their mission, talking about what they missed. And all of them were happy to be together but they also were desperately missing their families.

I think that speaks to the over quarter of a million soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that we have deployed today in combat and in deployment situations. Not only those folks that are -- that are coming together in those kinds of situations but their families as well.


HERTLING: So my thanks go to not only all of the military forces who are deployed, and I know, John, joins me in this, but more importantly, the family that are missing their soldiers--


HERTLING: -- and sailors, airmen and marines, that are coming together.

BALDWIN: We'll let that thought bubble percolate. Whether it's Twinkies after your turkey today or you know pumpkin pie, we're going to keep that near and dear to our hearts. General Hertling and Admiral Kirby, gentlemen, thank you so much.

KIRBY: Thank you.

HERTLING: Thank you.

BALDWIN: You got it. New questions today surrounding Congressman Joe Barton have nude photos of the Texas Republican were circulated this week on social media by this anonymous Twitter account.

Now, the congressman has apologized for it but is also now raising the possibility that he is the victim of revenge porn, which, by the way, in Texas is a criminal act. Since then, an unnamed woman has come forward to the Washington Post sharing a secretly recorded phone call from 2015.

And it's that call, according to The Post, where Barton warned her against using the explicit images that he had sent her. So Page Pate is with me, CNN legal analyst. And, Page Pate, thank you for being with me, happy thanksgiving.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Happy thanksgiving.

BALDWIN: Before we get your take on this, I don't want to assume that even people watching know exactly what revenge porn means.

[15:10:00] Can you explain that for us?

PATE: Sure, absolutely, Brooke. I mean, I think a lot of people perceive that there was a problem with a -- say an ex-lover, an ex- girlfriend, boyfriend having a picture of some sort of sexual image.

It could be a selfie of the intimate parts of one partner sent to the other and then after they break up or right before they break up, maybe there is a fight, maybe there is a threat that if you leave me I'm going to do something with this picture that you sent me.

And then they took the picture and posted it to Facebook or sent it to one of these, you know, almost -- there were many of them, revenge porn sites that were set up exclusively to get this material and then post it where everyone could see it.

So we have about I think half the states now enacted criminal statutes to prohibit -- prohibit that type of conduct. If you get an image from someone you're in a relationship with, and age is not important here, it doesn't matter if it's an adult or a child. If it's a child, there is a wholly different type of statute to deal with that.

BALDWIN: Sure. PATE: But if it's a consensual relationship, the image is taken, it's

sent to someone else. Unless you have that person's consent you cannot post it to any social media site or it's a crime.

BALDWIN: All right. So we get it. Does this congressman case, do you think that this sounds like revenge porn to you?

PATE: I think it could be, Brooke.


PATE: I mean clearly this statute, I don't think anyone thought it would be intended to protect a middle aged congressman from having his images posted on Facebook.

BALDWIN: It goes both ways though, men and women.

PATE: Absolutely. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The stature doesn't distinguish here male, female or otherwise. So if this image was taken and it included the intimate body parts, and it did -- I mean we have seen it.

At least some of us have seen it. I think the image certainly qualifies as revenge porn. He clearly did not give his consent for it to be posted or used in any way and she did it nonetheless.

And it has harmed him. And we know the identity of the person, not just because I think his team admitted to it, but also because that's what she told the Washington Post and perhaps other media outlets. So yes, all of the elements are ticked off in this case.

BALDWIN: We're going to follow that but let me ask you about a separate story out today. The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he has ordered this thorough review of the background -- the FBI background check system.

And it was revealed that the gunman who carried out that mass murder, the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this month, apparently wasn't registered.

And this comes amid this alarming discovery that tens of thousands of names have now been purged from the system all because of how the FBI is now defining what a fugitive is.

PATE: Right.

BALDWIN: What are the indirect consequences of this?

PATE: Well, let's start with the fugitive issue first. And I do think the Obama administration was the first to try to address this problem. And I can see the point of people thinking that the way that it was being enforced was going too far.

Because a fugitive was not just somebody who was on the run from law enforcement, but say you missed a court date for a traffic ticket and there was a bench warrant out for you. And even though you may not have ever left your home, you could fall

under the classification of a fugitive from justice and be prohibited from buying a firearm.

So a longtime ago, before Trump was even in office, before Sessions was the attorney general, the ATF and the FBI said let's tweak that a little bit. Let's have this fugitive portion only apply to people who are really on the run.

So they did that to try to remove people who may not be that dangerous from not being age to get a firearm, from coming off that list. But the other issue I think is long overdue.

We know that this particular individual who was involved in that mass shooting had the type of criminal past that should have prevented him from being able to legally buy a firearm.


PATE: But these -- we've got to talk to one another. The Defense Department has to talk to ATF, they have to talk to the FBI, they have to share the information that's going to be relevant.

If you have any type of domestic violence conviction, you are prohibited from possessing and purchasing a firearm. But how perfect can that system ever be?

I mean, if we're really going to prevent people from getting assault weapons and things of that nature, there is nothing in that situation or in the future to prevent someone from having say a girlfriend, a friend to go in and purchase that firearm and give it to that individual.


PATE: That happens all the time. It's a crime but it happens all the time.

BALDWIN: Right. It's imperfect but there are certainly things that can be done to make it more difficult.

PATE: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Page, thank you. Page Pate.

PATE: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here, you could know soon if you were targeted by Russian propaganda during the 2016 election. What Facebook is now doing to be more transparent with its users?

Also, President Trump's former ghost writer says the president and I quote, is awed and frightened by black people. So we'll debate whether his attacks on the father of that UCLA basketball player and the NFL have anything to do with race. And later, the Trump organization is walking away from a massive hotel

project in New York City. We're going to explain to you what went so wrong.


BALDWIN: We know that one of the main tools that Russia used to meddle in the 2016 election was social media. Well now you'll soon be able to see if Russian propaganda actually showed up on your Facebook account and if you clicked on it.

Facebook is now unveiling this new tool that will allow users to see if they at all interacted with a troll farm with ties to the Russian government.

Facebook says this whole move is part of its continuing effort to protect its platforms from, quote, bad actors who try to undermine our democracy. So let's talk about this with CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, happy Thanksgiving.


BALDWIN: Thank you. How soon can Facebook users be able to check this out?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, Brooke, this will probably be by the end of the year.

[15:20:00] And no one -- and keep in mind, Facebook is saying some 150 million people probably viewed the propaganda.


PROKUPECZ: These ads that infiltrated Facebook. It's a new tool, this tool they're creating, which users will have access through the social network's help center. And keep in mind, it only works if users liked or commented on the Russian ad, the propaganda, fake news.

That we now know the Russian government posted. And this was all being done at a time to sow political discourse in this country and fuel an atmosphere of -- they wanted to divide this country and create some sort of chaos during the presidential election.

Now, the ads, you know, we know favored candidate Trump at the time and were negative on Hillary Clinton, focusing on her health and other issues sort of to bring more likeness towards then candidate Trump.

Facebook and the U.S. government know that we're facing this continuing issue and hopefully this will be a way to educate people on what to look for in these ads.

And, Brooke, as we've done a lot of reporting on the Russian influence in the campaign, you know, we were talking to FBI officials and, you know, we were told they were able to actually see some of these posts in real-time on election day.

And they could see how the conversation was starting to change about the different candidates at the time. Just by watching and monitoring some of these ads and some of the fake news that the Russians were able to post on Facebook.

BALDWIN: That is crazy. The big question that no one really has answered yet, right, is did Russia have help? Shimon Prokupecz, keep digging, my friend. Thank you so much.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a stunning comment from the man who co-wrote The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump. He says the president is, quote, awed and frightened by black people. We'll debate what that even means and how it might tie into his tweets.


BALDWIN: And we're back on this Thanksgiving Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving to you. I'm Brooke Baldwin. President Trump's recent back and forth with the father of a UCLA basketball player has revived questions about the president and race.

The president was outraged that this father LaVar Ball refused to thank him for helping free his son LiAngelo Ball from custody, one of three athletes arrested for shoplifting.

The president called LaVar Ball, quote, an ungrateful fool and the poor man's version of Don King without hair all over Twitter who could have spent, quote, the next five to ten years during Thanksgiving with your son in China but no NBA contract to support you.

So adding to that today, the ghost writer to the president's best- seller Art of the Deal is saying this about why the president crossed the line to cut down LaVar Ball.


TONY SCHWARTZ, TRUMP'S GHOSTWRITER FOR ART OF THE DEAL: I think Trump is half awed and half frightened by black people and his only way of dealing with them is to attack them. And on the other hand, I think he has a zero tolerance for any criticism of any kind.


BALDWIN: Let's start there. CNN political commentators Paris Dennard and Sally Kohn are with me. Happy thanksgiving first and foremost to both of you. Paris, you heard Tony Schwartz saying the president is half awed and half frightened by black people. What do you think that means and would you like to comment on that?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATORS: I mean, first of all, Happy Thanksgiving. I think Tony is ridiculous in his statements. I find it interesting that after this man becomes the president of the United States is when he decides to really become so negative, rude and political.

But the fact that President Trump is awed by African-American people is not a bad thing. I think a lot of people are awed by successful groups of people, people who are accomplished.

I think the president likes and is awed by a lot of people who are successful, who are -- who are the best at their game, who strive and overcome obstacles and become number one, who are winners.

BALDWIN: Do we think that's how Tony Schwartz meant it?

DENNARD: I don't know if that's -- I don't know if that's how Tony Schwartz meant it. I doubt it. But that's how the president is. I've interacted with him many, many times.

I've seen him with large groups of black people and that is not a man who is by any means frightened by African-Americans. I think that notion is absurd and I think it's highly offensive to have him equate that to this man.

If you are a racist, you don't appoint or put the first African- American woman to be the -- your press secretary to the campaign. If you are a racist or you're afraid of black people, you don't invite the largest number of HBCU presidents and chancellors in your office to meet with them if you're afraid of black people or if you're somehow a racist.

This is not something that is racist or someone who is a scared of black people does. And so I think these comments just reinforce a false narrative about this president because we were all surprised to see the president did so well with the African-American community.

He has a long positive history with the black community going back for many, many years, many decades and it is continuing now with his agenda, especially when you look at the tax cut plan that will impact small business owners, as well as middle class Americans, which is a lot of African-Americans just like myself.

So this is something that is unfortunate and I don't know why Tony is doing it, but I guess it's just for him to get more publicity off the back of the president of the United States.

BALDWIN: OK. Paris, that's how you see it. Sally Kohn, how do you see it?

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm glad Paris brought up a false narrative. I agree there is a false narrative here. The false narrative is about how we see racism in America today. So let's be really clear about something, Thomas Jefferson when he wrote that all men should be created equal, hundreds of African-American slaves.