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Trump to Visit Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi; Trump Rallies for Accused Child Molester Roy Moore; Interview with Tom Reed. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired December 9, 2017 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:01] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast.

I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

At today's grand opening of the nation's newest civil rights museum in Mississippi, tensions with the soon to arrive President of the United States while leading civil rights leaders choose to stay away in protest.

You're looking inside there in Jackson, Mississippi. The President scheduled to begin speaking in about an hour or so from now. But the flight from Florida has been delayed because of weather.

Several prominent African-Americans have already said they will not attend that event. Among them, Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis who has called Trump's visit a mockery of the civility rights movement.

The President already busy tweeting about all of this, this morning, about the crucial Alabama senate election as well now just three days away. Trump again urging people in Alabama to vote for embattled senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore.

Here is what Trump said at a rally last night 25 miles from the Alabama state line.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat, so get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's begin with CNN's Athena Jones who's covering the opening of the civil rights museum there in Jackson, Mississippi. So Athena -- what do we expect in terms of the arrival, who is there, and how will the events unfold today there?


Well, we should mention that President Trump himself is skipping the (INAUDIBLE), skipping the larger longer program taking place in this plaza behind me. He is instead going to be touring the museum when he arrives and then delivering remarks to a smaller group assembled inside. That group will be civil rights veterans, museum patrons and elected officials and so he won't be taking place -- taking part in that larger program.

But as you mentioned, this invitation to the President to attend this opening and also the celebration of Mississippi's bicentennial has angered a lot of folks here in Mississippi. You have local Democrats who are skipping the event, civil rights activists and you have some Mississippi Democrats who wanted the Governor Phil Bryant to rescind his invitation to the President. Of course, that did not happen.

This is a tweet from the governor earlier this week. He said, "Mississippi should be proud that the President of the United States has agreed to speak at the opening of the museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The world will be watching our bicentennial celebration. Let us come together as one Mississippi."

But a lot of the President's critics have said that's exactly the problem. This is someone who they believe is a divider, not a unifier.

Among those critics is the president and CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson who spoke about his issue with President Trump attending this event last night on "ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT". Watch.


DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: This attendance is a distraction. We must have an opportunity to honor true Americans who sacrificed so much to ensure that democracy worked.

It is unfortunate, in fact, it's an affront to those individuals who fought for voting rights to ensure that people had quality education and quality -- access to health care will be celebrated. Those are principles this President do not support.


JONES: And we know that the NAACP president is not going to be attending today's event. They, instead, had their own separate event today -- a press conference a little bit earlier.

You mentioned earlier that two U.S. congressmen, Benny Thompson from right here in Mississippi and John Lewis who was going to be part of this program, he is, of course, a Georgia congressman who is a civil rights icon in his own right, beaten during voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama -- Bloody Sunday. Both of them are now pulling out. They are still listed on this program as part of the program, but they're pulling out in protest.

And we've gone through some of the reasons that people have an issue with the President taking part here, but it's a pretty long list. Rights activists have spoken out about the fact that the President had questioned the legitimacy of the first black president of the United States. He has endorsed a senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, who said that America was last great during slavery. He called Mexican immigrants rapists during his campaign announcement.

And a long list of issues that people have with this President. They say he has not been a defender of civil rights and should not be part of this program -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. And still unclear exactly what kind of comments we're going to hear from the President and given that there has been -- there have been so many people who have decided no longer to participate.

All right. Athena Jones -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

All right. Meantime President Trump's visit to Mississippi comes just hours after he rallied for embattled Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore.

[11:04:57] The President is sending out an optimistic tweet this morning saying "Great evening last night in Pensacola, Florida. Arena was packed to the rafters. The crowd was loud, loving, and really smart. They definitely get what's going on. Thank you, Pensacola."

So it's just now three days until Alabama's special election, the President telling the Pensacola crowd that the country can't afford to let Roy Moore lose.


TRUMP: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it. So get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins. She was at last night's rally.

So Kaitlan -- the President, you know, didn't go to Alabama to offer support to Moore. He was about 25 miles away in Florida. But he did essentially give support to Roy Moore in saying that he was the one who was going to carry the Trump agenda.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's certainly right -- Fred. And though he didn't come to Alabama, technically he was right next door in Pensacola which is just a 20-mile drive from the state line of Alabama. And there were several Alabama voters in that arena last night because we personally spoke with several of them.

And at one point during the President's speech last night he asked the people of Alabama in that arena to stand up and cheer. Now he waited a little bit before he got to where he was endorsing Roy Moore, but he certainly got there. And he expressed to the people in the arena that it was vital to the Americans interests that they have Roy Moore in that Senate seat over someone like Doug Jones.

He was extremely critical of Doug Jones during that speech and he did not hardly reference the allegations that have been made against Roy Moore except to say that the one woman Beverly Nelson who said she was just 16 years old when Roy Moore assaulted her and she's brought forth her yearbook where he signed it and said that his inscription is part of the proof that he sexually assaulted.

And the President referenced where she said that she added the date and the location underneath that inscription last night. But that was all he had to say about the allegations against Roy Moore despite the White House repeatedly telling reporters that he finds him troubling and concerning and if they're true, he should step aside.

But last night we heard from the President himself, Fred, and he offered a very forceful and full-throated endorsement of Roy Moore just days ahead of this election. And this is right next to Alabama -- a state that the President won overwhelmingly during the election last year.

So his endorsement certainly means a lot to any supporters who were on the line between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kaitlan Collins -- thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

All right. Let me bring in my panel now. Joining me now is David Swerdlick, a CNN political commentator and assistant editor for the "Washington Post". Also with me Julian Zelizer in a very snowy New York City, CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University. All right. Thanks -- good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: All right. David -- let me begin with you. You know, the President now in full campaign mode for Roy Moore. Just three days until voters in Alabama go to the polls. So how much momentum does this give Roy Moore?

SWERDLICK: I think it helps Roy Moore and I think it also helps Roy Moore that we're already a month out from the original "Washington Post" story where four different women accuse Roy Moore of trying to date them or in one case sexually assaulting them as teenagers.

So, you know, it has faded a little bit from the original shock of that initial report. The Real Clear Politics polling average says that it's 48 for Moore, 46 for Jones. In my view that's too close to make a prediction on who's going to win. I think it will come down to turnout. That I think why President Trump even though he's not going into Alabama, he's going to Pensacola and Mississippi to try and draw attention to the race, signal that is behind Moore. He has said as much on twitter.

But he wants to have his cake and eat it, too, Fred, because as Kaitlan reported he's made statements saying he still has concerns about the allegations. Well, if he has concerns about the allegation, it's not completely clear why he's giving Moore this full-throated endorsement but a lot of it I think centers around this idea that Republicans understand. They have a thin margin in the Senate and they want that seat.

WHITFIELD: And so Julian -- the GOP, you know, has a long tradition of running on family values. And now with these allegations of, in one case rape, of inappropriate behavior, of pursuing underage young ladies here, with this endorsement of a Roy Moore, does that mean that whole family values mantra is just simply out the window for the GOP, for the Republican party?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we saw that conversation during the 2016 election with President Trump. And many evangelical leaders and voters were willing to vote for the President despite the same kind of contradictions. And here they are, facing the same debate.

[11:10:04] So I think they're willing to do that. I think there's a level of hypocrisy in American politics that would let a group live with this.

But, you know, Roy Moore is really a test like President Trump where come a year and a half from now or 2020, some of the values that evangelical voters claim to have will be totally contradicted by the leaders of the party they support.

WHITFIELD: And Roy Moore is not only controversial because of the women who have accused him of sexual assault, you know, when they were minors and he was in his 30s. But also his divisive remarks on race -- and this is what Roy Moore said when asked to talk about a time when America was great.


JUDGE ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think it was great at a time when family was united. Even though we had slavery (INAUDIBLE). People were strong in the families. Our family was strong. Our country had its reckoning. We needed to correct many of the problems.


WHITFIELD: So, David, you know, how does Moore, the President, or the GOP or anybody reconcile that?

SWERDLICK: Yes. Fred -- clearly Moore has retrogressive views on race, on same-sex marriage. He's been removed twice from the Alabama Supreme Court.

This is not a guy who you would normally think of as someone who would be held in high esteem by Americans for representing American values. I don't want to turn away from that clip you just played, but I think that those are issues that people are going to debate, have debated, and are going to continue to debate.

When you're talking about someone who has serial credible allegations against him though of going to the mall and trolling for teenage girls -- again, we're now talking about some Randall (ph) here. We're talking about someone who was the deputy district attorney. That to me should be the issue on where the election turns. And you know, as many people have --

WHITFIELD: And there's already substantiated cause and effect. Like you say, there were all these allegations of inappropriate behavior, you know, toward young people. The shopping mall says we don't want you here and then pick up your thought.

SWERDLICK: Oh. I was just going to just add -- it's always worth pointing out that he has not been charged with a crime. He has not been convicted of this beyond a reasonable doubt. These are allegations. But if you read my "Washington Post" colleague's reporting.

If you read the reporting in and you're an Alabama voter and you go to the polls and you say, well, I like Republicans or I like Moore better than Jones and I'm willing to risk. I've read these stories and I'm willing to risk having a guy who's been alleged to have trolled the mall for children as my U.S. Senator.

That is -- Julian just said this is a test for voters. I think he's absolutely right. This is a test for voter about what their citizenship is all about.

WHITFIELD: And a test for Americans and their ongoing support, you know, for the President of the United States who says he's going to support that -- Julian. And in addition, while he was rallying whether it be on the behalf of Roy Moore last night in Pensacola or perhaps rallying on behalf of himself, you know. And today he's going to be speaking at a civil rights museum. And the President last night essentially talked about how black homeownership is better, is improved, and this is what he had to say.


TRUMP: I love these guys. Look at these guys. Blacks for Trump -- I love you. I love you. I love you. By the way, now that you bring it up, black homeownership just hit the highest level it's ever been in the history of our country. Congratulations.


WHITFIELD: So the President taking that opportunity, perhaps, to toot his own horn or to convince people that he has, you know, a variation of support. But then after some real fact finding, it turns out that even those statistics that the President gave last night, not true. American-American homeownership peaked in 2004 and has been on a steady decline ever since.

So, you know, Julian -- the President is about to be at the civil rights museum. There are iconic figures, other civil rights leaders who say they don't want to be there because it's not just what the President he says, but his actions don't support the civil rights that this type of museum is now going to celebrate and honor. So how does the President, I guess, make this moment his or how does he try to convince people that perhaps he is going to be doing something differently?

[11:14:48] ZELIZER: He can't. I don't think it's possible at this moment to reconcile his record on everything from the birther debate with President Obama to his systematic attacks on voting rights, which is exactly what John Lewis was protesting and fighting for when his skull was cracked during those protests; to his ongoing divisive remarks, whether it's the NFL players on criminal justice; to supporting Roy Moore, given these comments that we've heard about race. You can't reconcile these two things.

So my guess is, he'll say more of the same. He'll focus on his particular issues, maybe throw that statistic out again on homeownership. But that's where it will be and he'll move on in the campaign.

But that's the point. You can't reconcile them right now. He's one of the most divisive presidents on the issue of race relations that we've had if not the most in the modern era.

WHITFIELD: And then quickly -- David. Was the President -- was that an attempt to try to take credit for it? I mean why would he want to say that anyway? What was the objective there?

SWERDLICK: Because the administration and Republicans to a greater extent have wanted to make this about clearly economic terms.

And took, there are stats which they can tout. Black unemployment has gone from 7.7 percent to 7.4 percent since Trump's been in office but it went from 12.7 percent to 7.7 percent under Barack Obama. So everything is relative. If they have done something for African Americans they should tout it.

But this is not just about the unemployment rate or consumer confidence or housing. This is also about respect for American citizens. And this president's rhetoric during the campaign, during the transition, during his first year of presidency has not respected African-Americans.

There's a reason why Congressman John Lewis, the hero of the Edmund Pettis Bridge is declining to and one of the senior members of congress is declining to go to this event today. Because he doesn't want to be part of a prop or a backdrop of President Trump at the civil rights museum.

WHITFIELD: And the filibuster side of that is Congressman Lewis along with former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick are actually going to be campaigning in Alabama for the Democratic opponent to Roy Moore, campaigning on behalf of Doug Joes on a day that the President now is going to be at the civil rights museum in neighboring Mississippi.

All right. David Swerdlick -- Julian Zelizer -- thanks so much. Good to see you both.

ZELIZER: Thanks -- Fred.

SWERDLICK: Thank you.

All right. Still ahead, after backing away from Roy Moore, Republicans have fallen back in line following the President's show of support. So does the President's agenda and maintaining a senate seat outweigh concerns about Moore's alleged sexual abuse?

I'll ask Republican Congressman Tom Reed about all of that -- next.


WHITFIELD: All right. This is the last weekend before Alabama voters head to the polls in what is a close and contentious special senate election. With just three days to go Democrats Cory Booker and Deval Patrick will be lending their star power to the Doug Jones campaign.

Last night President Trump stumped for embattled Republican Roy Moore who's accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. The President hoping voters look past those allegations and vote for the Trump agenda.


TRUMP: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it. His name is Jones and he's their total puppet and everybody knows it. He will never, ever vote for us.


WHITFIELD: All right. The President repeated that sentiment in a fresh tweet today, ending a lengthy tweet by making reference to the Democrat Doug Jones saying, "Jones will always vote against what we must do for our country."

All right. I want to bring in now Representative Tom Reed of New York.

The President is asking Alabama voters to put his agenda before questions of the character of Roy Moore. Good to see you by the way -- Congressman.

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: Nice to see you.

WHITFIELD: So what do you think of that challenge or instruction that the President is giving that his vote in the senate, that Republican vote in the senate is far more important than the character or history of that person to put in office?

Reed: Well, thanks for having me on -- Fredericka. You know, as I made my position known on the judge and what I thought of the situation, expressed my disagreement with him continuing going forward and the concern about the allegations that I've expressed.

But I do appreciate what the President is saying because the power in this decision is where it needs to rest -- in the people. And if you trust the people like I do, that's the best opportunity for the wisdom of the people to speak. And at the end of the day, I think that's what's going to happen on Thursday and I will trust those results because those are the people casting their votes.

Not some power broker, not some special interests but the people.

WHITFIELD: The President started off with that sentiment saying that it will be the voters who will decide but emphatically he made it very clear. He mentioned Roy Moore's name this time and he also said in order to help propel his agenda, vote for Roy Moore.

REED: Well, you know, as we look at what is happening in the Senate over time and what is happening in D.C. you know my decision on the gridlock of D.C. I'm sick and tired of it. I'm co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus about trying to bring members together, Democrats and Republicans. So if this is a sentiment that's being expressed to the people of Alabama saying we need somebody who wants to legislate for the American people and do things like tax reform, get to health care, get to immigration, and take those courageous votes that may require crossing over the aisle, I think I that will go a long way to breaking that gridlock.

And that's why we're always a voice for trying to do that -- because I agree with the American people. Enough is enough out of Washington, D.C. He's not getting anything done for them back home.

WHITFIELD: I also want you to listen to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.


[11:24:59] SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I had hoped that Judge Moore would resign, in other words, withdraw from the race. That obviously is not going to happen. If he were to be elected, I think he would immediately have an issue with the Ethics Committee, which they would take up.


WHITFIELD: So it almost sounds a though, you know, Mitch McConnell has been rather conflicted? Have you felt conflicted that perhaps at a time you're hoping because of the issues of, you know, morality that perhaps he would withdraw or, you know, let the chips, you know, fall where they may, but now on board because you look at it in terms of maintaining Republican majority?

REED: Well no --

WHITFIELD: Are you at all conflicted?

REED: -- well obviously as I've expressed my concern about the Judge staying in the race and going forward. But at the end of the day, it's not about conflict but it's also recognizing that the power to make this choice is going to be on the people of Alabama. And the more that we can trust the wisdom and the collective wisdom of the people, I think we're stronger as a nation.

And that's where I'm ok with that being the jury, if you would, because that's the people speaking in a voice --

WHITFIELD: But perhaps that was the argument when there was a chorus of people who said he needs to withdraw. That chorus has, you know, been not necessarily silenced, but it's quieter now. Now we're three days away, so people will be deciding.

But where are you on how people should be motivated about how they make a selection?

REED: I think they should take all of the information they have. The information on the allegations, the information as to what the Judge will do on policy that will impact them on a day-to-day basis, and where he will stand for them in Washington, D.C.

I think they have all of the information before them -- they, the people. And that's why I trust the people. And I think at this point in this -- at this stage of the election, Thursday they're going to speak and I will respect the wisdom of that choice.

WHITFIELD: Congressman Tom Reed. Thank you so much.

REED: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. CNN rather -- will have complete election night coverage of the Alabama race starting Tuesday 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

All right. Still ahead, several inches of snow coating parts of the Deep South. You saw it in the backdrop of our New York live shots. But now in the South, power is being knocked out, air travel is being disrupted while wildfires are ravaging parts of the west. At least one person has been killed.

The very latest from the fire line -- next.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. President Trump has arrived in Mississippi. Air Force One just touching down in Jackson just moments ago. The president now making his way very soon to the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. He's expected to speak next hour.

And, of course, there have been a number of civil rights leaders and at least one icon that -- by the name of Congressman John Lewis who are refraining from attending the Civil Rights Museum saying the president's track record is not in step with the symbolism of that Civil Rights Museum and the bloodshed, the sweat and tears that went into the efforts by iconic figures like John Lewis.

Of course, when the president does arrive at the Civil Rights Museum, we'll take you there and hear his remarks. He'll also be getting a private touring of the museum. It's a state-funded Civil Rights Museum there in Mississippi.

All right. Winter officially is still two weeks away, but a rare record-breaking December snowfall, well, it blanketed much of the nation. Houston, Texas, receiving its first snow fall in eight years and breaking a daily record. Folks even in their short sleeves are having a good time there.

Many places across the southeast are seeing snow totals upwards of 10 inches. Tens of thousands are without power. Several areas got more snow yesterday than Minneapolis and Buffalo have received all season long.

In Atlanta, much of that city and surrounding areas have been especially hard hit. It looks more like the northeast in some backyards than on the roads there in some backyards. Speaking of which, the system is moving into the northeast region, New York, Boston already getting hit by a few flurries right now. More than 60 million people are already on a winter weather alert.

All right. And right now, quite the contrast, t is day five of the Southern California monster fires. At least 170,000 acres have been scorched across multiple counties in the Los Angeles basin. It's nearly twice the size of the city of Atlanta.

Six fires in all, but there is some good news. The Rye and Skirball fires are 50 percent contained. The Creek and Liberty fires are nearly out, but the news in Ventura and San Diego Counties not so good.

The Thomas fire is still going on very strong. More than 148,000 acres have burned their alone. Today, the rising temperatures and Santa Ana winds are a major concern. Some evacuations orders have actually been lifted. Tragically, at least one person has died in a traffic accident while trying to escape.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is standing in the devastation of Ventura. Stephanie, folks there devastated. The one death, lots of property damage, and these continued threats are very frightening.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it's a massive area we're talking about. Coming into some residential areas like where I'm standing now, I kind of want to paint the picture for you right now, Fred, to explain the reason why they take so long to let people back into their neighborhoods.

[11:35:09] I want you to see this tree right here because as you can see right here it's still smoldering. When we got here this morning, half of this tree was still standing. The part to the left was down and it was smoldering.

I was like this tree is going to fall while we're here. In fact, it did. Then when it got fresh oxygen the fire started to build up. Luckily, you hear those crews working behind me. They had a fire extinguisher and they were able to douse the flames and let the fire officials know that this is burning here.

The reason why we care so much about this tree is because if one of those embers catches on the winds, and the winds have picked up early here today. If they catch one of those, look at this, this house where I'm standing, it is demolished, lost to the fire.

Look over there, that house demolished. That house is still standing. This is why they care so much about the winds and these embers and trying to tamp down any of the fire that you see here.

I see a fire truck coming up the way so we're going to get out of the way. I want to explain why we care so much about this. This is exactly the issue here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. That is devastating. All right. Stephanie Elam, we'll check back with you.

All right. Besides Southern California's dry conditions and the threat of increasing Santa Ana winds, no rain in sight. Let's get to CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, on what firefighters just might be facing today -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, Fred, it's going get worse before it actually gets better for a lot of these folks. Not only do we have the six main large fires in this region, but you have the smaller fires too.

And the concern is those could end up being some of the larger fires in the coming days as these winds begin to pick up. Here we take a look. Once we get to 10:00, 11:00 tonight, those winds will already be up to 40, 50, 60 miles an hour and then overnight into Sunday, we could be looking at winds upwards 70 miles an hour.

So, that not only takes those smaller fires and cause them to expand into larger fires. It means even those tiny embers that you were seeing even something that small, that wind can pick up, carry even miles away and trigger a new fire.

So, there's a lot of concern going forward and the worst of it, Fred, we simply don't have any rain chances in the short-term forecast.

WHITFIELD: And the snow now blanketing other parts of the country. I mean, wow, what a contract -- contrast, and we're not talking about just a dusting but real accumulation in some parts.

CHINCHAR: Again, a lot of areas picking up at least half a foot of snow and more of those locations are likely to be added. Here's where we have the snow on the radar at the moment. Again, you can see still areas of the Carolinas looking at some snow, but now we're starting to see some of those heavier bands come into places like Philadelphia, New York, as well as Boston.

And this is the main area where we're going to see some of the heavier bands later on today. Widespread, you're talking about 2 inches to 4 inches of snow, but there will be some spots that could pick up say about 6 inches to 8 inches by the time the system is all said and done.

However, even as much as snow is that may sound, it looks like folks in the south may actually end up at the top of the list for some of the snow fall totals. Take a look at this.

Fletcher, North Carolina, this is just outside of the Ashville Airport in North Carolina 15 inches of snow. Smyrna, Georgia, that's a suburb of Atlanta, 10 inches of snow. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, a lot of these other states also picking up 4 inches to 6 inches of snow.

And again, as we talk about this, Fred, take a look at this. Cities like Smyrna, College Station, Texas, had actually had more snow than Buffalo, Chicago, and even Green Bay, Wisconsin, have had for the entire winter season so far.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Hard to believe. It is treacherous. It is potentially dangerous, but at the same time, it really is a beautiful site seeing all that snow. All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

All right, still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, but first, traveling, it could be fun, but also pretty exhausting. Here are a few things to pack to keep you from traveling tired.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: With a little preparation and some even packed travel products, your next trip can be a more restful one. Today, I'm at the American Express Centurion Lounge in New York. These items you can use these anywhere.

Noise canceling headphones while traveling is a must, but they can be pretty pricey. These E7 headphones from Cohen are under $100 and they have a battery life of about 30 hours. The noise cancelling technology blocks out plane noise or traffic so you can peacefully listen to music or videos and they also rotate 90 degrees for easy packing.

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A good travel blanket can make all the difference when trying to catch a quick nap or resting on the go. This blanket from Young Design is compact, it covers your entire body and doubles as a pillow. It has a detachable foot warmer and it easily connects to your suitcase.




WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. "The New York Times" is reporting that on several occasions Russian operatives tried to correspond with Trump adviser and White House communications Director Hope Hicks and that alarmed intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The "Times" also noted that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Hicks and we understand reportedly that Hicks has met with the Mueller team investigators at least this week, at least once.

All right. Walter Shaub is a former director of the Office of Government Ethics under President Bush and Obama. He's joining me right now from Washington. Good to see you.


[11:45:09] WHITFIELD: All right. So, Walter, you've been very busy with your tweeting. You tweeted out yesterday, saying, "I'm increasingly worried Trump may go after Mueller. As a country we must be prepared. Congress should signal now that such action will result in impeachment. This is the first time I've used the "I" word. If Mueller is fired, we should all march and not stop until it is fixed." So, tell me why you're having these concerns.

SHAUB: You know, we're seeing an increasing amount of attacks on Mueller and they increasingly seem coordinated. You've obviously got the conservative news channel attacking him around the clock, but now you even have a group of members of Congress come out and question the committee.

You've got people raising ridiculous claims like the fact that anybody who's ever been affiliated with the investigation is suspect if they've ever made a campaign donation at any time in their life.

And yet the Hatch Act begins with the section -- and the Hatch Act is a law that prohibits certain types of political activity for federal employees begins with a section that says federal employees are encouraged to exercise their rights and participate in the political process.

As any citizen can, they can donate, they can vote. What they can't do is use their offices for the goals of advancing a party or a candidate. But that has nothing to do with the sort of thought police mentality that anybody who's ever contributed at any point in their life must be hopelessly biased.

And it's interesting that there's a double standard for claims like that because the Federal Election Commission's records will show that Jeff Sessions, who's head of DOJ, and Christopher Wray, who's head of the FBI have made donations to Republican candidates.

They've also seemed to ignore the fact that Donald Trump himself has donated to candidates of both parties including Democratic candidates.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe there was also some subliminal messaging in the DOJ, Department of Justice, also released a $7 million price tag thus far on the Mueller investigation? SHAUB: Yes. That's absolutely intended to try to continue this coordinated effort to undermine support for the investigation. Now, of course, that's actually a fairly normal price tag for the magnitude of what they're having to look into.

We don't expect them to hire a couple of teenagers to Google for information for free on the internet. And what they failed to do is put that up on a chart against the tens of millions of dollars we've spent to send our president golfing at his own properties where a lot of that money goes directly to him for things like golf cart rentals.

So, I think taking it out of context like that certainly suggests an attempt to interfere with the investigation.

WHITFIELD: So, now back to that "New York Times" reporting of the adviser and really kind of a close confidante or someone who's been with President Trump for many, many years before he even ran for the presidency, Hope Hicks, and that the FBI reached out to her, told her that, you know, you need to be careful about these people reaching out to you.

And that they may be Russian operatives, given that warning and even that the Mueller team has apparently had discussions with her, there is no evidence of wrongdoing. However, what are your questions or concerns as it pertains to the fact that she is very close to the president and that she may have information of interest to these investigators?

SHAUB: Well, I think it has to be looked in context because time and again we're finding more and more contacts between members of this campaign or people affiliated with this administration on the one hand and Russia on the other.

And so, when the president goes out declaring that the entire Russia investigation is a hoax and is completely manufactured for partisan reasons, I think he's now lost the ability to say that with any credibility after story after story that they've told such as the claim that there was a meeting to discuss orphans, which they then had to revise.

And then this week we've learned that there were follow-up communications following that meeting, and now you've got Hope Hicks getting a warning, and warnings aren't a big thing with this administration because you'll remember Sally Yates shortly before they fired her marched all the way over to the White House to warn Don McGhan, the White House counsel about Mike Flynn --

WHITFIELD: About Michael Flynn.

SHAUB: And so, these guys don't heed warnings.

WHITFIELD: All right. Walter Shaub, we'll leave it right there for now and we'll look for your next tweet because I know it is right around the corner.

[11:50:05] Walter Shaub, thanks so much. Good to see you. We will be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Excitement is building in Philadelphia where the Army and Navy football teams face off in America's Game. We're just over three hours away from kickoff and minutes away from the ceremonial march-on.

CNN's Coy Wire talks to one woman making history today.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We are here at the iconic Army/Navy game, the 118th edition of this incredible rivalry, and we are joined by a very special guest, someone who grew up coming to this game with her mother.

[11:55:08] Now she is a member of our Army and she is going to make history today. Simone Askew, you are first captain, first African- American woman to lead the Corps Cadets, 4,400 of them on to this field today. What inspired you about seeing that when you were a young girl?

CADET SIMONE ASKEW, FIRST CAPTAIN OF THE CADETS: It was really the organization and discipline of 4,400 cadets that I saw five years ago starting in fifth grade actually the first time and that really drew me to the academy and showing the embodiment of everything that West Point valued.

So, you see the discipline on the field as you march on. You see the relentlessness as the team fights with grit to the end of the battle and then you see the character and the morale from the Corps of Cadets as we support in any way that we can from the sidelines there.

WIRE: Qualities and characteristics that all of us can only aspire to have. What is it about this match-up for those who may never have witnessed the Army-Navy game that makes it so special?

ASKEW: You can see the snow. This won't deter us at all regardless of the environment or the conditions. We're here to fight to the end. But the great thing about this specific game is that we are competitors on the field and as soon as the clock strikes zero, we are brothers and sisters in arms. So, it is a very friendly rivalry, but it is a rivalry. It is.

WIRE: Tell me your favorite memory watching this game as a young girl with your mom.

ASKEW: I would definitely see the march-on. It's something that we prepared for all week. We've spent two hours a day preparing to this exact moment and I'm looking forward to showing you all the order and discipline that we have been instilling throughout the week.

WIRE: We can't wait to watch you make history today. Not only are you making history, you will be leading in front of a lot of eyes. Are you a little bit nervous?

ASKEW: I'm just trying not to smile. I have to maintain my military bearings.

WIRE: Your smile all day, it is a beautiful smile and it is a beautiful day for this iconic rivalry since 1890, the Army/Navy game, America's Game is quite the spectacle. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: That is fantastic. Thanks, Coy. And yes, she deserves to smile the whole way through.

All right. Right now, let's take you to Mississippi. Live pictures right now out of Jackson, Mississippi, the president of the United States getting a special private tour now of the nation's newest Civil Rights Museum. The Mississippi state-funded Civil Rights Museum there in Jackson, Mississippi.

And this is a museum that is structured in two buildings and it is to tell the story of a Mississippi movement that helped to change the nation. Many civil rights movements there. The governor, you know, personally invited the president of the United States to be there.

Among the many people, supporters of this museum, who were invited to be there, many of whom are the subject of some of the exhibits there have chosen not to be in attendance today.

Among them Congressman John Lewis who along with Bennie Thompson in a joint statement on why they would not attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and they said in a joint statement that "After careful consideration and conversations with church leaders, elected officials, civil right activists and many citizens of our congressional districts, we have decided not to attend or participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

President Trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this Civil Rights Museum. The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi and President Trump's disparaging comments about women, disabled, immigrants and the National Football League players disrespect the efforts of Fannielou Haimer (ph), Aaron Henry, Robert Clark, James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Turner, and countless others who have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place."

That in a joint statement from Congressman John Lewis and Bennie Thompson. We'll be right back with much more of the president's visit to the nation's newest Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.