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Republicans Attack Mueller Probe; Trump Continues to Reject Russia Evidence; Kentucky Voters Betting on Trump; Disney Buying 21st Century Fox. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: With these text messages sent by Special Agent Peter Strzok, who was fired from the Mueller investigation, or removed from, reassigned. One of the messages that came out yesterday was this. Peter Strzok is writing this woman Lisa Page. It says, I want to believe the path you through out for consideration in Andy's office -- which is an apparent reference to deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe -- that there's no way he gets elected, but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.

He's talking about taking out some kind of insurance policy against the notion that President -- that then Donald Trumps would be elected there. Is there any benign explanation for writing that, do you think?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL, D-N.Y.: No, I think it's not a -- it wasn't a smart thing to write and I understand that it causes a lot of trouble, but it doesn't take away the bottom line that we have to look beyond an individual president or whomever else and see what's good for the country. And if the president is in denial and keeps throwing roadblocks at every step, then it really impedes the investigation.

Mr. Mueller is impeccable. Has impeccable integrity. And the White House initially even said that. Now there's been these attempts almost every day to discredit him, to make him look bad. You know, some of us are worried that the president may even fire him. I think it's really important that we say that Congress will not stand for that and we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, you know yesterday said in his testimony that no one has asked him to fire -- even look into firing Bob Mueller, and he's the only one who could do that.

Look, we know that the inspector general is investigating all of this right now, these text messages, after they came to light, et cetera. If the report from the inspector general comes back and says that indeed these text messages do show a political bias that actually swayed the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, for example, that has been closed, do you think that would be grounds for a special counsel to investigate that or a secondary investigation, once again, into that?

ENGEL: Well, it's hard to talk about theoretical things that haven't happened or may or might not happen.

The bottom line is that I want Mr. Mueller to just -- to do his job, which he's doing in a very good way, and let's find out where the truth is. Let's find out where the chip -- let the chips fall where they may. But this terrible attempt to discredit him, as if he's some kind of partisan, which he absolutely is not, just really bothers me. You know, it takes you back to the Nixon years and that wasn't a shining time for our country.

BERMAN: If I can circle back to "The Washington Post" story. One of the things it suggests is that Vladimir Putin and senior Russian leaders think that what they did in the election was a resounding if incomplete (ph) success. Do you agree?

ENGEL: I'll bet that's what they think. And I think it was a success. And the fact that it's coming out more and more the things that they did to try to influence the election.

You know, we're not just talking about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. We're going to have lots of elections in the future. And we have to keep one step ahead of the Russians, not the other way around. So what's clear to me, it's clear to everybody except the president, that the Russians interfered with the election. I would be just as angry if they interfered within -- on behalf of Hillary Clinton. To me it doesn't matter who it's in behalf of, it's a matter of, I don't want the Russians to try to strangle our democracy. And we are now privy to a lot more things than we were prior to the election. And we have to work together to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

If the president is in denial and keeps saying that it didn't happen, then he sets a tone which discredits any kind of conclusion that any kind of a, you know, governing board or any kind of investigation would bring forth. And so I think the president is being not helpful at all. He's keeping his eyes closed. He doesn't see reality. And he looks about how it affects him. He should look about how it affects the country.

HARLOW: Congressman Eliot Engel, we appreciate you coming on the program today. Thank you.

ENGEL: My pleasure. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, coming up next, we're going to take you back to Beattyville, Kentucky. This is a town that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, bet a lot on him. More than half of the folks there live in poverty. Has he come through for them?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He don't talk like a politician.

HARLOW: He's a billionaire from New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a billionaire from New York City. He's not a politician.

HARLOW: He is. He's the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's the president. But --

HARLOW: He's a politician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know good and well he don't act like one.



[09:39:02] HARLOW: So nearly a year ago we took you to Beattyville, Kentucky, it's in the heart of Trump country, and it's a place where more than 80 percent of the residents voted for President Trump. Their hope? He would bring change. Unemployment there nearly twice the national average. More than half of the people in Beattyville live below the poverty line and the majority are on Medicaid.

So we went and we asked the, do they still think the president can bring meaningful change?


HARLOW: Welcome back to Beattyville, Kentucky. President Trump won 81 percent of the vote in this country.

When we came here right after the inauguration, there was a lot of hope. People were betting that President Trump could turn things around for them here, bring back jobs and prosperity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day of the election, everybody was excited. Fresh meat in the White House.

HARLOW: So we've come back, a year later, to find out if the president has lived up to their hopes.

[09:40:02] Are you getting that change you voted for yet?

LEIGHANDRA SHOUSE, VOTED FOR TRUMP: I am seeing attempted change. I'm still hopeful. I mean I don't think any of the problems that we have is going to be quick fixes.

HARLOW (voice-over): Herald and Leighandra Shouse live in Beattyville, Kentucky, with their three daughters. Leighandra's an artist. Herald is a mason. He drives two hours each way to and from work because the best paying job he could find around here only paid $11 an hour. It's steady work, but he's making less than he was a year ago.

They invited us to this family meal nearly a year after we first met them following the election.

L. SHOUSE: We were the ones that kind of fell in the crack.

HARLOW (on camera): Can Donald Trump help you?

L. SHOUSE: We'll see. HERALD SHOUSE, VOTED FOR TRUMP: If he can bring some jobs in here.

L. SHOUSE: He has insurance. I don't have insurance.

HARLOW (voice-over): Now she's still hopeful but still without health insurance.

HARLOW (on camera): Did you try to sign up for Obamacare this year?

L. SHOUSE: Yes, I checked and it was like $600.

HARLOW: Obamacare is too expensive for you.


HARLOW: But you guys make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

L. SHOUSE: I'm stuck in the middle.

HARLOW: And you got pretty sick recently?


HARLOW: Did you avoid going to the doctor, checking it out for a while because you didn't have health insurance?

L. SHOUSE: Oh, absolutely. I've lost like 60 pounds in the last six months.

HARLOW: If nothing changes on health care by 2020, does he get your vote again?

L. SHOUSE: There would be a really, really good possibility because I see Congress standing in the way more than him.

SARA SHOUSE, WORKS AT NURSING HOME: I've worked six shifts this week, so I'm pretty tired. It's paycheck to paycheck every time.

HARLOW (voice-over): Their 22-year-old daughter, Sarah, makes them immensely proud.

HARLOW (on camera): Your hope for them?

L. SHOUSE: That they can find happiness without having to just break their backs like so many people have.

HARLOW (voice-over): She and their two other daughters are a big reason why they voted for President Trump, they wanted their children to be able to find good work.

S. SHOUSE: I have a degree in public health and a degree in human services.

HARLOW (on camera): You tried to get jobs in this town with your degree.

S. SHOUSE:: Yes. Yes. HARLOW: And what -- what happened? What were you offered?

S. SHOUSE: Everything was like $8, $9 an hour.

HARLOW: But you have thousands of dollars in student loan debt?


HARLOW: So the system isn't working for you?


HARLOW (voice-over): Sarah didn't vote, she says, no time because she was working three jobs, but she has been hoping for change, largely for her parents.

HARLOW (on camera): Here you are watching your mom go through this, not going what's wrong, and she doesn't have the health care she needs.

S. SHOUSE: Oh, it breaks my heart. I -- I could cry talking about it.


S. SHOUSE: Like my mom is the best person in the world. Like --

HARLOW: She is.

S. SHOUSE: She would give anything to anybody. And she can't get the help that she needs. And it's not her fault.

HARLOW: And you can't -- you can't help her?

S. SHOUSE: I can't do anything to help her.

HARLOW: You don't make enough to pay for that?

S. SHOUSE: Nope.

HARLOW (voice-over): Beattyville's a community that is struggling. According to the most recent data, more than half of the people here live below the poverty line and a majority of the people in this county are on Medicaid.

HARLOW (on camera): Beattyville has been home for you since you were born.

LARRY PHILLIPS, OWNER, LARRY'S AUTO SHOP: Home sweet home. If you want to get back to nature, Beattyville is where you want to come to.

HARLOW (voice-over): Larry Phillips is trying to tap into that, building cabins for tourists.

PHILLIPS: We have the best geological rock climbing area pretty much in the world.

HARLOW: His auto shop is struggling.

PHILLIPS: It's been a steady decline. You've lost some oil. We had a lot of coal mining.

HARLOW (on camera): Is that part of why you voted for President Trump?

PHILLIPS: Yes, that was a lot.

HARLOW (voice-over): This coal facility people kept telling us re- opened after the election. It's nowhere near big enough though to turn this economy around.

HARLOW (on camera): How has the president done one year in?

PHILLIPS: He has done -- or tried to do more of his promises than any other president.

HARLOW: He's tried, but has he succeeded?

PHILLIPS: No, he's not been able. I mean it's been one stumbling stone right after.

HARLOW: Who do you blame for getting in his way?

PHILLIPS: A lot of the politicians. The way I see it, he is a normal person, like myself, not a politician. He don't talk like a politician.

HARLOW: He's a billionaire from New York City.

PHILLIPS: He's a billionaire from New York City. He's not a politician.

HARLOW: He is, he's the president.

PHILLIPS: And he's the president but, hey --

HARLOW: He's a politician.

PHILLIPS: You know good and well he don't act like one.

HARLOW: What will it take for President Trump to win your vote again in 2020? What does he --

PHILLIPS: All he's got to do is run again. Honey, he's done got it.

HARLOW: That's it?

PHILLIPS: That's it.

HARLOW (voice-over): But that's not it for David Coomer, after voting for President Obama twice, he casts his ballot for President Trump.

DAVID COOMER, VOTED FOR TRUMP, VOTED FOR OBAMA TWICE: He's not the man I thought he was.

HARLOW (on camera): Really?

COOMER: He's not. He's not. He's just -- he's overbearing and he's not getting nothing done.

HARLOW: But he says he's accomplished more than any president.

COOMER: And he has not. He talks a good talk, but can he walk the walk.

He said that he'd put everybody back to work.

[09:45:03] HARLOW (voice-over): Jobs with a living wage. That's what Coomer says would lift Beattyville up, not government assistance. For now he relies on his father's VA benefits to get by as he takes care of his aging mother.

COOMER: I'm not looking for it right now. If I went to find work, I'd have to leave here.

HARLOW (on camera): If you looked at really how much of the population that could be working but is not working, what would you say it is in this town?

COOMER: At least 30 percent, about 35.

HARLOW: That's scary.

COOMER: That is. It is. And it's that way all over these little towns.

HARLOW (voice-over): Something else ripping at the foundation of so many communities, including this one, the drug epidemic.

CAMERON BROWN, 18 YEARS OLD: The drug epidemic in our county leads back to jobs, because if there were jobs, people wouldn't feel forced to have to do bad things, such as drugs.

HARLOW: Eighteen-year-old Cameron Brown knows all too well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last summer there was a bunch of drug-related murders that happened and Cameron's dad ended up getting killed. I bothered me real bad, so I wrote a song about it.

There's plenty of people just sitting at the house right now praying for a job. You know, it's killing them. They want to work and they want to provide for their families, but they don't have the means.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): A long time ago, a name named Bobby Joe, knew it was about his time. So he locked himself up deep in a holler, spent his last days getting high.

HARLOW: Kentucky's crackdown on the opioid crisis has landed more people behind bars. So many more, while we were here in town, it was announced a big employer will reopen.

HARLOW (on camera): It's the private prison right down here. So, yes, it means more jobs here, but it's because of the heartbreaking impact that drugs are having here and across this country.

Does President Trump get credit for the prison reopening?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he shouldn't.

HARLOW: The prospects for the future generations of Beattyville right now, what are they?

CHUCK CAUDILL, VOTED FOR TRUMP: They're grim. They're grim because right now we're clinging to the past. The only way we're going to fix eastern Kentucky is get entrepreneurship, is create jobs by people creating businesses.

HARLOW: And some are.

CAUDILL: And some are.

TARA NEWMAN, OWNER, HIP CHIC BOUTIQUE: It's time that our community is seen in a more positive light. And I think that's what my generation and the current leaders of Beattyville have decided to do.

JESSICA MIRACLE, MANAGER, ART FACTORY COFFEEHOUSE: We want to have a community that our children don't have to graduate and leave. We want them to see that you can live here and be happy and successful.

HARLOW: Did you think about leaving?

S. SHOUSE: I have, but I love this town. This town is more than just where I grew up. Like, this town's my family.

L. SHOUSE: We have to learn to support each other. We can't wait for, you know, somebody to pull us out of a hole.

HARLOW: Eighty-one percent of the people here voted for President Trump. What has he brought to Beattyville?

PHILLIPS: Well, he brought hope. Without hope you have nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have been optimistic because they wanted Trump to win. They've actually put in an effort. And once they seen he won, they took the initiative, you know, and they done something.

BROWN: We're poverty stricken, but happiness is rich here. And if you're happy, you're rich.


HARLOW: All right. So that's what they think. Still betting a lot on the president.

Tomorrow we're going to take you to Michigan, where the president had this stunning victory, flipped the state for the first time in decades. What do his supporters think there?

BERMAN: You know it was interesting to Kentucky, because that is Trump country, right?

HARLOW: Totally Trump country.

BERMAN: I mean this is a place where they loved him. Patient -- patient, but maybe not infinite patience.

HARLOW: Patient. No, I don't think so. Definitely not.

BERMAN: Interesting.

All right, a huge immediate deal, Disney buying most of 21st Century Fox. Not going to come cheap. What does this mean? And will there be an Avengers X-Men team-up. The most important question, coming up.


[09:53:23] BERMAN: All right, there is a huge, huge business deal that could reshape the entire media industry. Disney is buying a large chunk of 21st Century Fox. A $52.4 billion chunk.

HARLOW: A big chunk, I would say. Disney will acquire 21st Century Fox Film, the TV studios, the international television, not Fox News, if you're wondering.

Our media and business reporter Hadas Gold is all over this one. She joins us now.

This is a real, real take on a defensive move, right, against the likes of Netflix and Amazon, et cetera. Tell us more.

HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Poppy and John, you're totally right, this is one of the biggest media deals in this decade, if not even larger. There are so many brands that are going to come under of the -- of the Disney umbrella now. I'm just going to read some of them to you and they'll be recognizable. 21st Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Search Light, Movie and TV, FX, National Geographic. They're going to get majority control of Hulu. They're going to get some of the biggest movie and TV franchises, including "X-Men," "Avatar," "Deadpool," "The Simpsons," "This Is Us," "Modern Family."

Now this, for Disney, is all about the future. Disney recognizes that people are cutting the cord and that everybody's heading towards streaming and they see these guys like Netflix and know that they need to do something in order to catch up.

So what Disney is doing is really getting all of this content that they can then bring to consumers in different ways. Now already with their majority control of Hulu, should this go through, they'll have that avenue. But they're also planning to launch two separate streaming services in the next couple of years. One of them will be more focused on sports and one of them will be more about entrainment. Pretty soon Disney is going to be taking its stuff off of Netflix. And so if you want to watch Disney stuff on demand, you're going to have to go to one of their streaming services instead.

[09:55:07] BERMAN: Hadas, what about the regulatory hurdles here? Obviously we know that the AT&T proposed purchase of Time Warner is running into some complications. Anything here that stands out?

GOLD: So this will obviously have to be approved by the DOJ. Disney thinks that it's a totally different deal than the Time Warner/AT&T deal and they said earlier today on an investor call that they think that the DOJ will see that this actually will give customers more choice.

Obviously we're in a new sort of era with the DOJ. We will see how they approach this deal as well. Disney and Fox say that they're confident that this will go through and they expect it to close within about a year.

BERMAN: All right, Hadas Gold, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.

And, of course, we do all hope for the Avengers/X-Men team-up.

Republicans, they made a deal on taxes, but they have a lot of work to do and it's getting complicated. A couple of very important Republican senators not on hand right now because of health issues. The vice president changing his plans. What does this mean for the numbers?