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Deputy A.G.: Have Not Seen Cause to Fire Robert Mueller; FBI Agent Revoked from Russia Probe Once Called Trump "Idiot"; Omarosa Dramatically Leaves White House; Charles Barkley Calls Jones Win "Wakeup Call" for Democrats. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 13, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: But the deputy attorney did two notable things in his testimony today. He, first of all, very clearly defended the reputation and work of the Special Counsel, former FBI Director Mueller, and he went to great lengths to explain Mueller's history, his experience as a prosecutor, his long history of public service, and his integrity. And so the deputy attorney general said specifically that he saw no reason at this time to fire the special counsel for cause.

The other thing that he did is the deputy attorney general clearly described how he is exercising his authority over the special counsel. And so that was a really important point to him, for him to make, because he described how he is consulting with the special counsel himself and with the special counsel's office regarding the continuation of this investigation.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: No, I just wanted to ask, on the text, go ahead.

CORDERO: Yes. So as to the text messages them self, the deputy attorney general also said they are -- sort of the existence of these text messages between these two FBI employees is the subject of an Office of Inspector General, that's the Department of Justice inspector general, investigation. And so that investigation needs to take place. What it will look like is whether or not the FBI employees did anything to violate the Justice Department rules or regulations regarding how they conducted their work. There is nothing that I've seen that has been released publicly so far that indicates there is any allegation of any illegal activity. So for example, there doesn't appear to be any allegation of a Hatch Act violation or any action that these individuals took that would call into question there being conflict working on the investigation.

BALDWIN: Nevertheless, he let them go, which a lot of people are arguing, he did the right thing, that he needed to, maybe even there was nothing illegal.

To your point earlier about Rosenstein says he sees no probable cause to fire Mueller, and the president hasn't asked him to fire Mueller, let me play out, Carrie, this what if scenario. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: If you were ordered today to fire Mr. Mueller, what would you do?

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As I explained previously, I would follow the regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: And you've seen no good cause so far?




BALDWIN: No good cause so far, correct. But there are a lot of pro Trump Republicans, FOX News, they have been laying the ground work recently for a potential Mueller dismissal. At what point would all of it rise to that?

CORDERO: Well, there would have to be as the deputy attorney general said, there would have to be a reason, a substantive reason, not a political accusation.

BALDWIN: Like what?

CORDERO: That there really was some type of inappropriate activity going on, on the investigation, that they were bringing charges -- for example, prosecutors only bring criminal charges when there is a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. So if there was any actual evidence that they were bringing charges based on something else, on political motivation or anything like that, then that would fall into the deputy attorney general's discretion as to whether to fire the special counsel. But he was very clear today that there is nothing like this. That's why I think it's important he made the point that he is conducting himself substantive oversight over the special counsel's investigation.

BALDWIN: So significant today to hear from him, the deputy attorney general.

Carrie, thank you so much. Carrie Cordero for us in Washington.

CORDERO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news, the president is about to speak from the White House as the House and Senate Republicans have struck this tentative bill on their sweeping tax bill. We'll take the president as soon as we see him from the White House.

Also ahead, high-drama exit. You have to hear the new details about Omarosa's resignation from the White House and what reportedly went down on grounds in those final moments.


[14:38:36] BALDWIN: All right. Quite the shake-up at the White House that we are learning about, all these details. Communication aid and former "Apprentice" star, Omarosa Manigault Newman, is leaving. The White House confirming her resignation today. She will leave next month.

I want to talk to the woman who broke the story, April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Network.

April, what the heck happened?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What the heck happened? I'm sure General Kelly is saying that after this tumultuous, tense exchange with her twice last evening. The firing, resignation, dual firing resignation happened last evening, or yesterday, sometime in the evening. I'm still trying to pin that down. But what is known is General Kelly has been tired of her antics. Even since Reince Priebus, no one knew what her duties were. They would say, look you are operating out of the scope of what I have set up here. And she would tell him, I don't have to listen to you. Now here's she making $180,000 taxpayers money and no one knew what she was doing.

But what we do know that when General Kelly came in he was very upset with her behavior how she was stirring the president up. I would say she was the mood changer for the president. The president would be in a good mood they'd say then she would go in and point out an article or something, a news piece, and it would turn the president's mood.

Omarosa is or was a friend of President Trump and she used to have walk-in access, but that was cut.

[14:40:19] BALDWIN: Walk-in access to the Oval Office?

RYAN: Oval Office. But apparently --

BALDWIN: But General Kelly changed that?

RYAN: Yes. He changed that. That really bothered her. But General Kelly was upset with a multiplicity of things. It's not just one thing, I'm told. Because when I got the word early this morning, text messages were coming at me left and right this morning as I woke up. And one person, one Republican, high-ranking Republican text messaged me got word from someone in the White House that said mission accomplished. So she --

BALDWIN: Mission accomplished?

RYAN: Yes. So the issue is not just Omarosa making General Kelly upset, it's the whole scope.

BALDWIN: Hang on.

RYAN: She did not have warm feelings with everyone there. BALDWIN: So can we be specific? When you talk about General Kelly

fed up with her antics, what was she doing and saying that was so upsetting to him?

RYAN: She would cause problems within the White House. No one knew what she was doing. She would leave. Whole different things. And also this wedding issue, you'll bring your bridal party into the White House.


BALDWIN: She was getting married. Did she want to have her wedding at the White House?

RYAN: I don't know. But I know she brought her bridle party in to take pictures. Even though you work there, there are certain protocols in place. And it trivialized the White House.

And then I understand during the back and forth last evening, you know, when they were working out the negotiation, what have you, for her to resign and leave January 20th, she was upset. Did not sit well with her. She was saying things like, I helped elect Donald Trump. And she said, I brought the black vote. General Kelly said, no, you did not. It's not there.

BALDWIN: I brought the black vote?

RYAN: I brought the black vote.

BALDWIN: That's what she said?

RYAN: Yes. So whatever happened, they were back and forth. So many different things. I'm reporting on it. I'm already put out a story on it. I've talked about it already. But there was a become and forth. He cited things about how she doesn't get along with the new head of the HBCU initiative. So many different things.

Then, you know, that portion of the fight ended. But it didn't sit well with Omarosa. Not only that, not only did Omarosa get fired, but her assistant was fired. So then after that, General Kelly left. But it did not sit well with her. She decides to move on and tries to -- excuse me, before I go there. She even said to General Kelly, does the president know? He said, yes, he signed off on it. And she said, well, I want to call Donald. And he said, this is not like going to the principal's office, it's done. Didn't sit well with her. When they finished that exchange, she decides, from my sources, to go to the White House, to the residence, go to the residence of the White House, where, again, she does not have walk-in privileges anymore. General Kelly was called. And she continued to try to go in, from what I'm hearing. And General Kelly was called, and he came in and told the Secret Service to get her out of there.

BALDWIN: What? Wow.

I don't know if she's going to live out her days at the White House to January 20th. If you are escorted off campus, you're vulgar -- BALDWIN: Not a good thing.

RYAN: -- you're screaming things. And not only that --


RYAN: Right. And not only that, right, I'm hearing from sources, people are calling and texting me from everywhere. She is sending e- mails to apology e-mail to many people at the White House saying something of the effect, if I've done something to you, I'm sorry. It's getting out.

BALDWIN: Let me jump in.

I've got two ladies waiting in the wings. We'll talk to them. We'll all this conversation about the black female vote in Alabama. But Angela Rye, Symone Sanders, come on in.

We are talking about Omarosa. You've been listening to April's story and how she was trying to get into the residence. And we all know that's a no-no.

Symone, did you ever have any issues with Omarosa, stories to tell?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Much like everyone on this panel, we all know Omarosa. And, yes, I've had a run in with her at the National Black Journalists Convention last summer. And I think what's important to note here Omarosa has had a particular brand and style of the way she has operated within the White House. And she likes controversy and high drama. This White House likes controversy and high drama. And so it was only up until recently, apparently, that the White House decided this has gone too far where Omarosa is concerned. And she had to be removed. But absolutely, she accosted me in the corner at National Black Journalists Convention in the lobby of the hotel where everyone could see.


RYAN: In the restaurant.

SANDERS: In the restaurant, yes. So this is -- I'm not shocked that this happened.

[14:45:04] RYAN: And that same weekend, she came and slide up next to me trying to do something again with the president former president she's friends with to stir up some controversy. And also know, we remember the famous tape with Ed Gordon where I guess it was Friday where she was battling it out on the stage. It was very unladylike. It was ugly.

SANDERS: But the White House condoned this. So, while, again, I'm not fan of Omarosa, I'll say that I find it interesting that the high- drama person of -- the high-drama, high-profile African-American individual in the White House is no longer to be tolerated. But there are lots of other problematic high drama individuals that still have jobs. ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Brooke --


BALDWIN: Go ahead, Angela, I want to hear you. Then I do want to talk about the black vote in Alabama that's so important.

RYE: I want to talk about the black vote, too. But Brooke, I'm going to do what you can't do and April and Symone are too good of people to do, and that's be petty for a minute.



RYE: Bye, girl.


RYE: Bye. We did it already on the podcast, April, but bye, honey. You have never recommended the community. You aren't kinfolk. We don't own you, like Dora. Good. Bye. Out. Good riddance. Goodbye.


RYAN: Angela, Angela, you know I have much love for you, but, you know, I don't delight in anyone's demise.

RYE: I'm not delighting her demise. I wish her the best, but -




SYMONE: No. Again, I can just speak for myself, maybe some other folks, that folks weren't necessarily sad to see Omarosa go today.

RYE: No.

BALDWIN: OK. Omarosa out. We are turning the page, ladies.


RYAN: Before you turn the page, Brooke. Before you turn the page --

RYE: April, let's go.

RYAN: Hold on. Hold on.

TMZ is reporting that the president would not -- it would be beyond the realm of possibility for President Trump to tweet something like, thank you, Omarosa, for your service. So expect that tweet soon.

BALDWIN: Stay sustained for Twitter fingers. In the meantime, quick break.


Black vote in Alabama, next.



[14:51:32] CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA ANALYST & FORMER NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: This is a wakeup call for Democrats. You are Democrats. And I told Mr. Jones this, and I love Doug, they have taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It's time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people that are poor. They have always had our votes and they have abused our votes. And this is a wakeup call. We are in a great position now. But this is a wakeup call for Democrats to do better, for black people and poor white people.


BALDWIN: My ladies are back.

Angela Rye, is Sir Charles right?

RYE: You know, Brooke, I never thought I would see the day where I would be agreeing with Charles Barkley. But I think he has this 100 percent right. We have spent, you know, all year, all of 2016 talking about getting rid of identity politics and, all of a sudden, we saw that identity politics was acceptable when talking about blue collar white workers. But what we do know is there are similar issues in the black community and with the blue collar white workers. And maybe instead of tossing out the idea of identity politics and not meeting people where they are and not identifying with them on a cultural basis, maybe the thing to do is recognize that our issues are real, and where they are synonymous they are, and we try to bridge the gap there. But we don't start tossing out the idea of getting rid of people from a cultural perspective and appreciating the differences that they bring. And most of all, appreciating the fact that this is the Democratic Party's most loyal supportive base. You can't get away from that, so it's time for you to fund it Democrats, absolutely.

BALDWIN: When you look at what happened in Virginia last month, look at the special election in Alabama, you look at African-American women, you know, they are it looks like they are the ones fueling the Democrat party.

Symone Sanders, what is driving that?

SANDERS: First of all, black women had always been at the forefront of change within the Democrat party apparatus, with the entirety of the Democratic Party apparatus, in front of the scenes, but very much so behind the scenes. A black woman that is the only person to lead two Democrat national conventions, twice, and both historic conventions, Barack Obama in '08, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. So what's fueling this is the media and the large Democratic Party

apparatus is waking up. We saw in 2016, that 53 percent of women cast their ballot for Donald Trump. In Alabama, last night, 65 percent of white women cast their ballot for Roy Moore. In Virginia, about 51 percent of white women cast their ballot for Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie. And every single time, it is black women voters that helped push the Democrats over the top, including a coalition of Millennials and progressive white voters. So the difference is we are being extremely vocal about this. And black women are not taking no for an answer. And what you saw today from Tom Perez, of the Democratic National Committee, in tweeting outlet, "Let me be clear, it was black women in Virginia and black women in Alabama," definitely, a thank you and acknowledgment that black women are needed. But now we have to take it a step further and talk about resource investment.

BALDWIN: Yes. Bernice King tweeting, on Selma, "Selma, Lord, Selma, it is no coincidence that Selma where blood was shed and struggle for voting rights for black people pushed Doug Jones ahead for good."

April, I mean, it was Selma that turned the election for them.

[14:55:01] RYAN: Selma. I kept listening to John King talk about the black belt and I'm getting chills. The black belt, meaning that area because the soil is so rich. But it's rich with people and it's rich with history. And I think of Bloody Sunday, I think of the sting of the hoses, water going on the flesh of blacks and whites. And I think about the dogs that bit into the flesh. I think about the hate that was spewed over 50 years ago. And I think about a couple of years ago when Barack Obama went back to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Selma with the Edmund Pettus Bridge as the backdrop and the controversy about changing the name because of the hate. Think about that. And if you look at Selma, you can take a picture of Selma now and make it a black-and-white picture, you would think you were still back in the '50s and '60s. The only thing that's change is they are still dealing with issues of economics. And when you have commuting still dealing with highest numbers of negatives in almost every category, they are going to go to the polls. When you say you can't, they will say yes you can. And I'm not saying that about Barack Obama. I'm saying the spirit of disease will not allow the past to creep back into the future. So Selma felt the sting of the past and said never again. And they came out in numbers. And it was historic. And it still makes -- as a black woman, not as reporter, I still get chills thinking about what happened last night with Selma leading the way.

BALDWIN: Angela, Angela, how are you feeling?

RYE: I'm overwhelmed. Today has been a good day. We talked about my first Christmas gift in the prior segment. And this one is also a gift. I'm just very, very grateful.

RYAN: What was your first Christmas gift?

RYE: We are not going to go back there. We are flying high now.


When they go low, we go high, April. We are in a high moment.

RYAN: All right.


RYE: But, no, I think the important thing here, Brooke -- and it's been very tough, because April just talked about it. As a black woman, you feel one thing, yes, I'm progress, yes, I vote Democrat, but I've been frustrated with the party all year. You keep saying the same thing over and over again, since I worked at Congressional Black Caucus, watching my members fight them on resources, telling them that black and brown people can win, not just in congressional districts but statewide. I watched someone as powerful as Steve Hortzberg (ph) lose his seat because the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wouldn't fund his race when there were resources poured in by the Republican candidates at the last minute. How many times do we have to tell you we are a loyal voting block when you support us? How many times do we have to tell you we can do polling and focus groups and advise as well as anybody else? How many times do we have to tell you we are going to show up even when you don't come to us until the Sunday before and have your candidate visit us at church with their MLK or Barack fan? Come on, you all, we are telling you it works because we're those people. We've been there. We know what it means to show up and show out. We don't do it when the president looks at us. We do it when someone we can believe in and vote for. This is all it's about. That's all this is about.

BALDWIN: I was reading the quote in "Washington Post," "Black women have been the most loyal supporters to the Democratic Party, through thick and thin, Democrat party." This was the advisor to the Black Women's Round Table. This was during the September Congressional Black Caucus Conference. She said, "The party has focused more on wooing white male voters" -- and this is the point you all were making a second ago -- "who have not supported the Democratic Party for 50 years," rather than, quote, "watering the garden in your own backyard."

We'll end it there.

Ladies, a pleasure. Thank you all.

RYE: Thank you.

RYAN: This was fun.

BALDWIN: This was kind of fun. We'll do it again.

We continue on, though. We have to talk about the president here, where moments away of his speaking.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Hour two. Thank you for being with me.

We are following breaking news on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate striking a tentative deal on their historic tax overhaul plan.

We are also waiting to hear from the president himself speaking about this plan there from the White House. Live pictures. We'll take it as soon as he steps behind the podium.

But to play from a moment from earlier, this is what the president had to say about the tax deal earlier.


DONALD TRUMP, PERSIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a massive tax cut for the middle class and it's about jobs. And the jobs are really defined by the companies. The companies are going to be expanding and creating jobs.

We have very talented representatives right here.

And I think I can say, Orrin, that we are very close.


TRUMP: We are very close.

ORRIN HATCH, (R), UTAH: We'll get it done.

TRUMP: And I want to thank Senator Orrin Hatch. He's been incredible.

And Kevin Brady, incredible.

You guys have been really amazing. Although, I shouldn't say that until we sign.


TRUMP: We've been there too many times. Let's get the vote first, right?


BALDWIN: Let's go. We have Jeff Zeleny --