Return to Transcripts main page


UN Votes 128 To 9 To Condemn Trump's Jerusalem Decision; Some Corporate Giants Vow to Pass on Tax Savings to Workers; GOP Heaps Praise on Trump. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 21, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Because it's consistent with resolutions that the U.N. has passed many times since 1967, concerning status of Jerusalem has got to be negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What's remarkable here is who voted against the U.S. and with those past resolutions?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Talk to me about that.

SANGER: France, Germany, Japan. These are the closest American allies there are. And allies who do not usually separate themselves in major votes from the United States. So, they are sending a clear signal that they believe for all the discussion of sovereignty and so forth, no one is denying the right of the United States to move its embassy. What they are saying is you are breaking with the series of U.N. resolutions that U.S. has supported under Democratic and Republican administrations, that the status of Jerusalem has to be decided by the parties who are disputing that status.

BALDWIN: So how about the countries who brought the vote, Egypt where the vice president is about to head mid-January along with Israel and other nations in that part of the world. How might that at all complicate things?

SANGER: Well, the U.S. can't do much to the British, the French, Japanese and Germans. In Egypt's case they were huge recipient of U.S. aide, Israel and Egypt getting most U.S. aid. And my guess is for all of the threats that you heard from Nikki Haley, they'll still get that aid. Because we are not giving them that aid out of the generosity of our heart, but to keep an effort to keep together the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty. Its origins lie there.

But there is a bit of diplomatic malpractice underway here. Because if you step out and threaten countries and bring your closest allies decide they are basically going to ignore the threat, there is a significant level of embarrassment. Now you've seen Nikki Haley's office turn out a statement trying to spin this as the vote could have been worse. I think there were 35 nations that abstained.

And it could have been worse. And there were countries including Canada and Australia who decided to abstain instead of going up against the U.S. but not a great way to end the year to be separated from your closest European and closest Asian allies.

BALDWIN: While I still have you and we played so many clips of ambassador Nikki Haley, she's tough. What do you make of her?

SANGER: She is very tough. And I like her style. She's extremely direct. You know exactly where you stand. The question is, when does toughness help and when does finessing the issue help a bit? And in this case, I can imagine many situations where toughness helps. Dealing with North Korea, there is like a really good example. But in this particular case where you are separated from your allies, you need to sort of stop and ask yourself a question, do you really want to be there?

BALDWIN: David Sanger, thank you so much.

SANGER: Great to be here.

BALDWIN: Happy holidays.

Coming up next, will the Republican tax plan deliver on its promise several companies say they will pass on their savings in the form of employee bonuses, while others plan to enrich their shareholders, that's big news for these faces you see on the screen. Also, a rare admission from tech giant Apple why your older iPhone might suddenly be running a little slower.


BALDWIN: President Trump's historic tax overhaul could mean hefty big bonus for some of you. Slashing the tax rate from 35 percent down to 21. Rational here is so say Republicans in this administration is that companies could then pass along tax savings to workers. Here's a look at which companies are vowing to do just that. Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bank, AT&T, Comcast, full disclosure AT&T aims to purchase CNN's parent company Time Warner. But Richard Quest is a guy here who can explain all of this, our CNN business correspondent. And money editor. Are you the money editor at large?


BALDWIN: You are all these different things. Let's talk companies right now. Obviously, with that kind of news, that's what employees of these companies want to hear, that's great news, and great news for the president and Republicans.

QUEST: There is no down side from the employee's point of view except from the AT&T situation where Randall Stevenson said they get the bonuses if president signs it by Christmas day. I suspect they'll get the bonuses whatever happens. Variety of reasons why these companies are doing it. AT&T and Comcast, for example, because of the net neutrality rules being abolished, and the repatriation of overseas profits and the lower corporate tax rate. You then take for example Wells Fargo raising the minimum wage. I would expect to see many more companies add to the list of those who are saying, look, we are about to get a corporate massive tax Christmas gift.

BALDWIN: So, we want to give the money to you.

[15:40:00] QUEST: Yes. That's what it was all about. But we must not be fooled. One off bonuses are not what this tax plan is all about. This tax plan was all about lowering the everyday tax rate on an ongoing basis for working Americans.

BALDWIN: Because a lot of companies, I hear you on that, because a lot of companies are giving more stock options, right?

QUEST: We have to be careful about this. If a company chooses toss buyback its stock or chooses to give back dividends. Where does that money go? It goes back to us through our 401(k) if you have one. Goes back to pension funds. So, the money does trickle back in some shape or form. The real difficulty with the whole plan is not as much will feed through to the whole economy as perhaps we've been led to believe.

At least this is good news for the 200,000 AT&T employees. The hundreds of thousands at Comcast, Wells Fargo and all the others, they will be getting more money, good for them.

BALDWIN: OK. Can we talk about Apple? Because there is this new bit out today where Apple is finally admitting they are slowing down their older model iPhone. These are my old phones that I use all the time. And they are saying there is a reason why they are slowing down the older phones. Now of course conspiracy theorists are saying that's their way of getting you to buy the newer phones. But you say no, no, no.

QUEST: Apple say they are doing this because of batteries, battery surging causing the phone to switch off, and delay use of the phone. So, they are saying in the latest update they are slowing it down so won't get the battery surge. Which would switch the phone off. Now, if it's up to you, do you think there is a battery surge going on or do you think, nod, nod, wink, wink, say no more, there may be something else going on?

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. Thank you.

QUEST: Honestly, they made it quite clear this is not, my word, you have a message, this is nothing to do with forcing people to buy.

BALDWIN: It's my mother. Hi mom. Richard Quest, thank you very much.

QUEST: Have a happy holiday.

BALDWIN: I'll see you new years eve. Times square.

QUEST: I'm Times Square, where you?

BALDWIN: I'm in New Orleans again.

QUEST: Yay. Times Square rules.

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, thank you so much.

Coming up next here, Republicans heap praise on President Trump for getting the tax plan over the finish line. But perhaps none more than Vice President Mike Pence.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here because of your leadership, Mr. President Trump, and because of the strong support of leadership in the Congress of the United States. You are delivering on that middle-class miracle.



BALDWIN: To borrow a line from the president it feels good to win. But during the big tax celebration we couldn't help notice but the full-on praise parade for President Trump and from some of the president's biggest critics and adversaries within the party. Celebration turned into pure adoration.


PENCE: I know I speak on behalf of the entire cabinet and millions of Americans when I say congratulations and thank you.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, MAJORITY LEADER (R): This has been a year of extraordinarily accomplishment for the Trump administration.

PENCE: Thank you for seeing through the course of this year an agenda that truly is restoring this country.

SENATOR ORIN HATCH, UTAH (R): You are living up to everything I thought you would. You are one heck of a leader.

PENCE: I'm deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to it be here.

REP. PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER (R): Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership. Mr. President, thank you.

PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President.


BALDWIN: Let's start there. I have with me CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Welcome to both of you. Maeve, let me again with you. Listen, this is not breaking news. The president loves praise. So, do you think the members of congress realize the keys to the kingdom involve doing precisely what they did 24 hours ago in order to get other things down the road?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that there are a couple things going on here. First of all, it would be difficult to figure out who would be the most obsequious, the other day when all those guys were out there talking about how exquisite President Trump's leadership has been.

But there are differences in that President Trump did work with Republicans this time to get the tax reform bill through. He didn't torpedo it at different points the way he did with the health care bill. And a lot of people close to him say that he really learned a lot from the Obamacare experience and tried to apply that when he was dealing with lawmakers during tax reform.

But the other side of it certainly is that these guys want to get a lot of things done. They know they are in huge trouble in the midterms going forward. And they want president Trump to see this win as the beginning of kind of a rolling set of pieces of legislation that they could get through early in the year really as early as possible before anything happens with the Mueller investigation, anything more happens. So that's immigration, infrastructure, and they know that praise is the key to his heart, as you said. So, I think that's what was going on.

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Especially sitting around the cabinet meeting and from the President Trump, I think, Doug, there was much to do about the bromance, about President Obama and Vice President Biden. What type of relationship usually gets more done?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It varies, but presidents like Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy meaning great presidents, they would not stand to be in the room with a groveling sniveling guy like Mike Pence going over there. He acted like Donald Trump was buddha and kissing his belly. It's ridiculous to be watching that on American television.

Everybody in America is working. We have jobs. Nobody acts to that way to their boss. It turns most people off. So, I think Pence is just a man without a full identity. He's riding in the shadows of Donald Trump and he sees his political future of

riding it out for four, but probably maybe eight years, and then maybe run for president on his own, but I don't think we need that kind of public display yesterday. It just makes Pence comedy fodder.

BALDWIN: Listen, it was yesterday but it goes all the way back to day one with candidate Trump and after that "Access Hollywood" tape. Watch this.


PENCE: You know, it takes a big man to know when he's wrong. To admit it, to express remorse and apologize. And last night Donald Trump showed America that he's a big man. [ applause ]

It's been inspiring to see the president's leadership on this issue.

Thank you, Mr. President, and just greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president that's keeping his word to the American people.

I couldn't be more proud to be vice president for president Donald Trump. I'm very fond of him. We've become very good friends. I want to thank you, Mr. President, I want to thank you for speaking

on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.


BALDWIN: Maeve, Doug says kind of ridiculous, but I have to imagine there is some strategy here. From Mike Pence.

RESTON: Absolutely. Very simply, Brooke, this is his strategy to be the anointed successor to Donald Trump. And he's doing a very good job of doing pretty much everything right toward that path. So that's all this was.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. Period. End of story. Doug, we just got some -- actually, been a fascinating interview done by "Vanity Fair" with Steve Bannon. We to want read part of it, quote, the Bush Presidency is the most destructive presidency in history, again, this is coming from Steve Bannon. It's not even close. Think about 9/11, think about if 9/11 had happened on Trump's watch. We would have gotten 100 percent of the blame by the Bush guys. And they said, well, we just got here. Would you mean we just got here? That's what gets me about them after coming Trump. I really detest them. Detest. That is a strong word, Doug Brinkley.

BRINKLEY: Well, it is, but this is the same Bannon who told us Judge Roy Moore was going to be riding into the U.S. Senate on a horse from Alabama and, you know, he's often wrong on things that he says. And George W. Bush, after his first year, which 9/11, of course, happened that September, he had an 87 percent approval rating, George W. Bush because he pulled the country together.

He had the bull horn moment in New York. The corrosion of his presidency wasn't until the Iraq war kind of drug on and on and on, so there may be poll envy here on Steve Bannon, his guy Donald Trump's at 35 percent. The worst rating of a president in American history since we started polling, 35 compared to Bush's '87, and he's just kind of fuming about it. It's another complaint against the mainstream media by Bannon. He does it almost daily.

RESTON: And Brooke, I just want to point out that this is not the first time that Bannon has said this, I actually covered a speech that he did in California a couple of months ago where he said, almost exactly the same words about George W. Bush, and really used that to try to drive a wedge within the crowd, you know, making the case that, you know, we needed fresh blood. This was right after George W. Bush's speech in New York where he was, you know, somewhat critical of everything that was going on. And clearly, Bannon saw this as an opportunity to lash back at bush and the establishment, and try to build up his own profile.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Doug, Maeve, thank you.

Next here, the U.S. house of representatives is set to vote some time in the next hour to fund the government, avoid a government shutdown. We'll take you live to Capitol Hill, coming up.


BALDWIN: A royal wedding is just around the corner. Britain's Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle just shared their official engagement photos and just as you would expect, they are stunning. We even get a close up of Markle's beautiful ring that Harry designed himself. Two diamonds on the outside. This was from his mom's collection. And center one from Botswana a really special place for the two of them. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas it is with me now. And can we talk about that dress?


BALDWIN: it's beautiful.

MELAS: Let me tell you the price tag.

BALDWIN: I'm afraid to ask.

MELAS: It's $75,000 gown by British designer Ralph and Russo. Everyone is going crazy for it. She's definitely breaking royal tradition by showing a bit of her shoulders. This is a much more, you know, intimate, very Hollywood --

BALDWIN: Very glam.

MELAS: Very glam look as compared to, which everyone is comparing it to --

BALDWIN: Kate Middleton in Prince William's pictures from 2010 from their engagement photos where she wore a cream, more conservative look. They actually tweeted out Kensington Palace, not one, not two, but three photographs. One of which you see she's wearing a Victoria Beckham sweater. She's actually inside Prince Harry's coat, they're embracing they are.

BALDWIN: I love how physically close they are.

MELAS: They are much more intimate, breaking royal traditions. And this is not the first royal tradition that's been broken this week.

BALDWIN: Tell me, Chloe.

[16:00:00] MELAS: I'm going to tell you. Just yesterday, Meghan Markle was at Buckingham Palace for a pre-Christmas lunch with the Queen and the reason why this is so shocking, usually unless you're married, you're not allowed to come even if you are engaged. In 2010, Prince William and Kate Middleton again to make the comparison they were engaged right before Christmas and Kate was not invited -- we don't know if she was invited, she didn't attend pre-lunch or Christmas at Sandringham Estate. And that is also where Meghan will be celebrating Christmas this year too.

BALDWIN: I feel like, so many keep talking about the two of them. I don't know if it is a bit of obviously Americana. MELAS: Very modern, very relatable couple. Again, they have just been inviting us into their relationship.

BALDWIN: Very relatable with a $75,000 dress. Looks beautiful.

MELAS: Maybe not so relatable there. And the wedding is May 19th.

BALDWIN: Somebody else's wedding. Not the same weekend.

MELAS: They made sure to check when yours was and then make sure it wasn't on that day.

BALDWIN: Chloe Melas, thank you so much. I am Brooke Baldwin thanks for being with me "THE LEAD" starts now.