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Trump's Golf Time; Tokyo-Bound Flight Returns to L.A.; Addict Becomes Ironman; Trump Obsessed with Russia Investigation. Aired 8:30- 9:00a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:23] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: On the campaign trail, President Trump made former President Obama's golf game a recurring theme at his rallies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obama -- it was reported today -- played 250 rounds of golf.

Everything is executive over because he doesn't have enough time because he's playing so much golf.

Obama ought to get off the golf course and get down there.

I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf.

He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.

This guy plays more golf than people in the PGA tour.

I love golf. I think it's one of the greats. But I don't have time.

But if I were in the White House, I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again. I don't' think I'd ever see Doral again.

But I'm not going to be playing much golf, believe me. If I win this, I'm not going to be playing much golf.


CAMEROTA: Oopsie-daisy, times have changed. According to our count from witnesses, Wednesday marked the president's 86th day at one of his golf courses since taking office.

Let's discuss with CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Scott Jennings.

Great to see you guys.

Scott, why doesn't the president like spending time at the White House? Why does he need to leave and go golfing so much?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, good question. I think if I were the president, I'd be at the White House all the time. It's a magical place. But the reality is, most presidents do --

CAMEROTA: That's what he said. As you'll recall, he said almost those exact same words when he didn't like that President Obama was golfing.

JENNINGS: Yes. Yes. I -- look, most presidents go on vacation. In fact, most presidents spend quite a lot of time outside the White House. Whether that's at the ranch in Crawford if you're George W. Bush, or at Camp David or in Hawaii if you're Barack Obama. I think Barack Obama spent 11 or 12 percent in his days in the White House golfing as well. Presidents do get out of the office.

The reality is, though, when you're the president, you take it with you. You're never not the president. This is one of those jobs that following you wherever you go. The apparatus follows you.


JENNINGS: You have decisions to make, phone calls to take. So whether he's on the golf course or sitting in the Oval Office, being the president follows you around and he never truly ever escapes it.

CAMEROTA: I totally agree. You are still the president, even when you're on the golf course. The question is, why did President Trump fixate on it with President Obama so much? Does that not ring of some hypocrisy to you, Scott?

JENNINGS: Yes, it does, actually. And, of course, a lot of things that are said in political campaigns, in the heat of campaigns, that sound great at the time, once you get into a particular office, they don't sound so great in retrospect. So I'm sure we could pick apart a lot of statements that candidates in both parties have made. This is certainly one that's easily picked on. But the reality is, what is said in the campaign, frankly by someone who didn't have a lot of experience with government offices, particularly at this level, probably --

CAMEROTA: Is -- is -- doesn't count anymore?

JENNINGS: Probably, you know, now he wishes perhaps maybe he hadn't said it.

CAMEROTA: Ana, how do you see it?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, first of all, I'm a little uncomfortable dogging people out for playing golf because I think the man I live with is probably on his way to play golf right now. That being said --

CAMEROTA: But he's not president. Or is he, hmm?

NAVARRO: No, look, the problem here is -- there's a -- is that Bill Weir laughing, because I hear he's coming down south for new year's. CAMEROTA: Yes, he is.

NAVARRO: And, Bill, if I see you with a golf club, I'm going to take a picture.

CAMEROTA: He likes golfing.

WEIR: Oh, no. I was tired --

NAVARRO: Well, who can blame him. Look at this weather, guys. Listen, this --

WEIR: Yes. I was tired of big angry for five hours at a time, so I quit golf. But, please, go on.

NAVARRO: This reeks of hypocrisy. Really he looks like the hypocrite in chief. And it's not even just about golf, it's about everything. There's practically a tweet or a statement from Trump that negates something he has said or some criticism he has waged on somebody else daily.

Yesterday it was Kwanzaa. You know, he used to criticize President Obama for celebrating Kwanzaa and marking Kwanzaa. Yesterday he was doing it. Good, he should.

But, look, on the golf part, I think there's several things here. First is the ethical implications. Then it's the policy implication. And then it's the optics.


NAVARRO: On the ethical, it's not only that he's playing golf, it's that he's playing golf at his own private golf course, at his own -- staying at his own private club where he has --

CAMEROTA: And what's the problem with that because we do have -- hold on, Ana, because we do have the numbers here. So he has spent 86 days at -- playing golf or at golf properties and 111 days spent at his own Trump properties. So what's the problem?

NAVARRO: Well, I'll tell you -- I'll tell you what the problem is. Well, first of all, the cost to taxpayers going into his pocket. Second of all, he is hiking up the prices at places like Mar-a-Lago, hiking up the prices to go there for New Years because people get to rub elbows with the president of the United States. So he is turning being president into a marketing tool for his own private property.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, hold on, let me bring in Scott.

NAVARRO: And, you know, I mean there's --

CAMEROTA: Let me bring him on that fact. Does that make you uncomfortable that he's profiting from this, Scott?

[08:35:05] JENNINGS: Look, I think of all the things going on in this world, it's one of those issues that the most ardent Trump haters likes to bring up. But I think the average person doesn't really fixate on it that much. Frankly, we elected a president knowing full well that he was in the luxury hotel business. I mean what did we expect, the guy was going to be staying at the Motel Six? The man loves hotels and he loves golf. So I'm not surprised that he's staying at his own hotels and playing golf. I know there are lawsuits going on around the emoluments issue, but I just don't think average people care all that much about where he's staying.

CAMEROTA: And you're OK that he's profiting from being president? I understand, but -- so you don't think that the average people care about the naked hypocrisy of what he said on the campaign trail and now that he's golfing, he's on tap to golf way more than President Obama ever did. President Obama -- you talked about his vacations. President Obama, by CBS' count, had 328 days outside of the White House. As we saw, Donald Trump has already had 111 days in his first year. He is going to outpace the -- Obama's eight years if he keeps it up at this pace in the space of at least three years. The point is, so the naked hypocrisy doesn't bother you and the president profiting on the office of the president doesn't bother you?

JENNINGS: I didn't say the hypocrisy doesn't bother me. I certainly don't really -- as somebody who's consulted candidates, when I hear people say things in campaigns that I know could come back to haunt them when they win the office, it does make me cringe.

On the profiting issue, I don't know that he's profiting. I mean he has said that he has divested from his business. He has said that he has taken steps to separate himself from his businesses. Again, we elected someone who was in the luxury resort and hotel business.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but wait a second, his sons are in charge of the empire.

JENNINGS: I mean I doubt anybody thought he was not going to stay at those. And so this was known -- I think this was known before he was elected.

CAMEROTA: Ana, he's not divesting from his businesses. The sons are controlling the Trump empire.

NAVARRO: Of course he's note divesting from his businesses. And, you know, he's still very much engaged in it. It's part of his family. He is also profiting from this tax cut, even though he's not showing us his tax returns.

You know, we all know that. So you either take it or you don't, but it's, you know, it's very hard to argue that he is not profiting from this in one way or another, and he is constantly marketing his brand as part of being president. We saw it even, you know, earlier in the year when we saw government agencies do it on their own websites.

But then there's -- you know, there's also the policy implications. Basically playing golf takes, as Bill said, four, five, six, seven hours depending on how slow you are and how much time you spend in the (INAUDIBLE) golf. And I mean it's seven hours a day that he's not working, which, by the way, for me is just fine because I'd rather he be on a golf course than in the Oval Office banning transgenders and banning Muslims and ending DACA and giving himself a tax cut.


NAVARRO: So as far as I'm concerned, you know, put a bumper sticker on the beast that says, I'd rather be golfing, and stay there for as long as you can, baby.

CAMEROTA: We've come full circle on this. So, friend or foe, golfing, I'm not sure any more.

Scott Jennings, Ana Navarro, thank you.

NAVARRO: Let him golf.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you both.

Bill, you're enjoying this.

WEIR: That could be -- that could be the reelection slogan.

CAMEROTA: I'd rather be golfing.

WEIR: I will play 36 holes a day if you put me back in the White House.

A Virginia house seat still in limbo after today's drawing to decide the winner is delayed. How will that tie be broken? We'll be back.


[08:42:23] WEIR: The Commonwealth of Virginia is delaying today's drawing to settle a tied race after a recount because of a new legal challenge. As you might recall, the Democratic candidate originally won the recount by one vote. Her lawyer are asking a circuit court to reconsider. It's ruling that disputed the ballot could not be counted. The Republican -- resulting in a tie. That was confusing. But the state board of elections is delaying the tiebreaker at least a week to let the legal process play out. The race will determine the balance of its House of Delegates in Virginia, which has been held by Republicans for a long time.

CAMEROTA: OK, so some Tokyo bound passengers are hoping to make it to Japan on their second try after an administrative mix-up forces this plane to turn around back to Los Angeles four hours after takeoff. Wait until you see the math and wait until you hear who was on board.

CNN's Rene Marsh is live in Washington with more.

This one takes the cake, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does. I mean imagine you're on this flight. This is an Al Nippon Airlines flight from, as you said, Los Angeles to Tokyo. So it's a long trip. There were 226 people on board. So imagine how loud the groans were when the pilot informed them about four hours into an 11-hour flight that they needed to return. Yes, you're looking at the flight path right there. That's how far

they got when the pilot said, hey, folks, we have to head back to where we came from.

Well, this morning, the airlines tell CNN, during the flight, the cabin crew became aware that one of the passengers boarded the incorrect flight and notified the pilot. As part of the airline's security procedure, they say that the pilot in command decided to return to the originating airport where the passenger was disembarked.

An aviation source tells me that this was an administrative mix-up that's being blamed, but it's unclear exactly what the mistake was because although the airline is not saying that this was a security breach, it does raise questions as far as how can a person that didn't belong on this flight get on the flight? As we all know, our boarding passes are scanned at the gate.

We do know that the airline does have a code share with United Airlines and there was another code share flight that was leaving at the very same time from L.A.X. Perhaps that may be where the confusion started. It's really unclear. But the airline says that they are actively investigating. And we are trying to get to the bottom of it as well.

CAMEROTA: That would be great.


CAMEROTA: But it's also just crazy to think that one person who's on the wrong flight can turn around an entire jet for four hours there and four hours back.

[08:45:03] WEIR: Yes. Imagine that.

MARSH: And why did the pilot make that call too? Why not just go on to the destination? All questions that we've asked the airline and we're waiting for an answer.

WEIR: Thank you, Rene. Imagine that walk of shame down the terminal.

President Trump's fixation with the Russia investigation is overshadowing his big tax cut win and infrastructure plans. We'll examine why he keeps bringing it up in "The Bottom Line."

CAMEROTA: But, first, a homeless man goes from addict to Ironman. Here's his story in this "Turning Points."


TODD CRANDELL: Everything bad that happened in my life and everything that is now currently good in my life is a direct result of my real mother committing suicide when I was three and a half years old.

I took my first drink of alcohol at the age of 13. For the next 13 years, I was a full-blown alcoholic, cocaine, heroin, crack. I got my awakening at the age of 26. I received my third drunk driving

charge. And that's when I decided to turn my life around. The day I quit, I went cold turkey.

What made me pursue the Ironman was simply the enormity of it. But I didn't know how to swim, I wasn't a bike rider, and I wasn't running. And then about six years into my sobriety, I started doing the Ironman.

I have done 28 Ironman's around the world.

We want to talk about how awesome it is to be sober.

My inspiration for forming Racing for Recovery was simply helping other addicts to show them what can be done when you're not using drugs.

I never, in a million years, thought that I would be alive, let alone doing what I'm doing today. And that's the best message I can deliver to someone who's currently battling addictions.



[08:51:05] WEIR: President Trump got his first major legislative victory last week. Now he's moving on to infrastructure. But if you look at the president's tweets, he seems obsessed with something else, the FBI and the Russian investigation, and specifically attacking both.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" now. CNN political analyst David Drucker.

Good to see you again, Dave.

So I was dipped (ph) over, just for research purposes, the --

CAMEROTA: You don't want to admit you were watching Fox News.

WEIR: Fox News, and, first of all, to everybody over there, blink twice if you need us to tunnel you out because, look, there's life after.

But it is this -- it is an alternate reality where the lead story and discussion for every hour of every day is about the deep state and flaws within the FBI. And the president, as we know, that's his favorite information stream. So how much of this do you think is this feedback loop?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they -- look, they do set the White House communications agenda. And it is an effective way to outsource what usually costs the White House a little bit of money to formulate. So I wouldn't feel so bad about the research.

Look, the president has a hard time enjoying his successes. And we have seen that since he's become president. He has periodically had some good moment. A.B. earlier in the show was talking about the joint speech to a joint session of Congress soon after he took office. It was one of the best moments he had. It gave him a chance to sort of reset his leadership. You know, there were signs there that he might be able to appeal beyond his base. Three days later he was tweeting about President Obama wiretapping him. And we've sort of seen this sort of ebb and flow every couple of weeks.

The tax -- the tax bill, look, whatever people think of the policy, and there's a debate about that, was a political victory and showed in President Trump some growth as a lawmaker. Somebody who understood that you didn't want to beat up members of your own party, threaten them. You didn't want to down talk your own bill as it was being negotiated and working its way through Congress. He's able to sign something that has eluded Capitol Hill, eluded the federal government for three decades, since it was last done.

And a couple days later, he's back -- in Mar-a-Lago, back in familiar territory, and he's tweeting about everything else. And I think that is just the kind of person that he is and the kind of leader he is. He obviously finds value in it. And I guess we're going to find out in the next election, 2018, if he's right.

CAMEROTA: But I'm not sure if he finds value in it, David. I mean I understand why you would conclude that. But after these victories, why did he spend a Christmas weekend tweeting for the most part about the Russia investigation? Something that he dismisses as a hoax. So he doesn't -- he claims he doesn't believe it, yet he's fixated on it, and then that ends up driving the news cycle and then it becomes this vicious cycle. It's -- I'm not sure that actually works for him.

DRUCKER: Well, I'm not sure it works for him either, but I think that this is how the president operates. I'm not going to get inside his head. I can't. And I'm not sure if he does this -- if we're -- always why he does this. But it seems that the president is always more comfortable going on offense against perceived slights and against people that he thinks are out to get him. And I think that we could conclude that he always feels that being on offense is better because left alone things like the Russia investigation will cause him political problems.

Now, I'm a little bit more conventional in my thinking and I'll defend that all day long. If you're President Trump, you've got this tax reform bill to promote, you've got infrastructure ideas, you've got health care ideas, you talk about that because you're going to hold your base in any event and people that are not inclined to like you or not necessarily inclined to vote for your party might look at some of your ideas and go, hey, that's not so bad.

And we have actually seen, if you remove President Trump from the equation, a lot of the pieces from his agenda, broadly speaking, have a lot of support. And it's, in a sense, it's the opposite of what we saw during the Obama administration where voters really liked him, but often they didn't like pieces of his agenda.

[08:55:15] But the president only does things one way. He's 71 years old. He's not going to change. And so, over time, I think that he's going to -- we're going to figure out if it works.

I would say this, presidents think that what they do works because they won. So until he experiences a major political defeat, he probably is going to go with the assumption that his tweeting and his aggressiveness is a winner.

WEIR: Right. Yes. You know, can't teach an old dog -- no pejorative use of the term, it's just a saying.

CAMEROTA: That's just a saying. That's just an expression.

WEIR: David Drucker, thank you so much. Have a great Wednesday.

DRUCKER: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, David, great to see you.

And thanks to everybody for joining us. I'll see you tomorrow.


CAMEROTA: If you will come back.

WEIR: Meet you back here in 22 hours?

CAMEROTA: Let's do that.



CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this very quick break.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has a well-deserved morning off.

A big goal in the new year, the president looking ahead to 2018. And aides say that will mean a major push on infrastructure. The administration is set to unveil the details of the proposal in just a few weeks. It's already facing some major potential roadblocks, though, namely critical bipartisan support. With months to go before a crucial election, the president needs to convince Democrats to get behind him on this one.

[09:00:13] Let's go to our Abby Phillip. She is with