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Interview with Senator Tom Carper; White House Bans Personal Cell Phones from West Wing; 58 Million in the Path of Massive Winter Storm. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired January 4, 2018 - 10:30   ET



[10:33:27] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, a stunning account of a year in the White House by journalist Michael Wolff.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it's a picture of chaos to say the least inside the West Wing.

Want to bring in Democratic Senator Tom Carper from the state of Delaware.

Happy New Year, Senator, and thank you so much for joining us. There a lot --


BERMAN: -- in this book from Michael Wolff, it's not even out yet. But we did see excerpts yesterday. We saw an essay he wrote that was in "The Hollywood Reporter" this morning. And he talks about senior staffers saying the president acts like a child inside the White House. There are other stories in there, too, that question his memory and his mental capacity.

You -- you know, you've been in meetings with the president at least on the phone. You've had a chance to observe him and work with him over the last year. Have you personally witnessed any of this?

CARPER: No, I have not been that close to him in person. I've talked to him a time or two on the phone. I mean, I -- these are concerning things and you read and say how much of this is true. I think Mark Warner said you can't make this stuff up.

I'm not one who's going to focuses all that much on this kind of I guess journalism. What I focus on are the things that we need to get done. What I focus on is we need to get a budget plan in place that actually begins to ratchet down the deficits. Got to figure out how to implement what I think is not a very good tax plan but do it in the way that people can actually understand and companies can understand it and implement.

We have the CHIP program, Children's Health Insurance Program, that's going to be phased out in a couple of months. We have a budget that's not in place. We have just all kinds of things that we need to worry about. Bob Mueller doing an investigation. For me the key thing here is not so much this book that's just out and going to get a lot of attention.

[10:35:03] I think the key is to make sure that the investigation that Bob Mueller is conducting is funded and they're able to have the resources to continue. The people in this country deserve to know the truth about what happened not just last year but even more than a year ago and Mueller is a great guy, a decent guy, very honorable person. I know him, worked with him when I was chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and he was the head of the FBI. He needs to do his job. That's the most important thing.

HARLOW: So you -- you say --

CARPER: Somebody once said -- somebody once said to me, Poppy, once said the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing here is to find out what happened to get to the truth of what happened in 2016.

HARLOW: Look, and the president has said in the last week that he thinks Bob Mueller will be fair. So we'll be watching.

Senator, to you, though --

CARPER: The president and I agree.


CARPER: It's good.

HARLOW: There you go. Question, though, on you saying like I'm not really focused on the Michael Wolff book, et cetera, I hear that, but then you also do have analysts, Paul Begala, just on our air, saying, look, the real danger in this for the American people and for the nation is that you have foreign leaders watching this and thinking less of the United States as a result or thinking, you know, how can I work with the United States if this is the situation inside the White House. Do you give that any credence?

CARPER: Well, ever since the election in 2016, the foreign leaders that I talked to said, surely you're not going to elect this guy Trump, are you? So I said, well, I certainly don't think so. And then when he became president they said to me, you know, what is he really like and have you lost your minds in the United States of America? And I reminded them we've been through worst than this, 200 years ago, civil war -- 150 years ago, civil war, president assassinated, president impeached, we got through all that. We'll get through this as well.

Those folks who wrote the Constitution up in Philadelphia, just north of Pennsylvania, all these years ago, they didn't want a king. They make sure they wrote something that wouldn't let one person screw things up forever and we still have this good system of checks and balances. The system is going to work.

BERMAN: Senator, something that just happened over the last few minutes, these two Republican members of Congress, Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, have essentially called on the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down. They say he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world. They're upset among other things that he hasn't called for a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton, I believe.

Your response to this? Do you want to stand up for Jeff Sessions?

CARPER: Jeff and I were -- he's not the person I would have picked to be attorney general. He's my colleague in the Senate for a number of years. My friend. I'm governor -- governor for eight years of Delaware and I thought governors ought to have a chance to select pretty much the team that around them as long as the folks in the mainstream are smart. There are people of good value.

Mark Meadows -- like Mark, think a lot of Mark. He can say all he wants to about Jeff Sessions stepping down. I think at the end of the day Jeff works for the president and if the president wants a new attorney general I think that's not so much our calling here in the House or the Senate, that's more with the president.

HARLOW: But do you agree with them, their assertion that Jeff Sessions has, in their words, no control of the premier law enforcement agency in this country? Do you agree with that assertion?

CARPER: I think it's -- I think we're lucky to have an FBI. We're lucky to have the leadership of the FBI that we've had for years. That includes Jim Comey, that includes Bob Mueller, it includes the guy that's running the place now. And they're good people, they need our respect. And I don't know that the involvement of all that much of the attorney general is all that important. They're going to continue to go to work. They're going to continue to go to work do their jobs and continue to work hard.

BERMAN: Senator, I want to ask you a question about something that has come up in the news in the last few weeks. And this is a unique moment, the #metoo movement, which has refocused I think in some ways America's attention on the treatment of women. And you have admitted to what you call a mistake in your past. This is something that happened 37 years ago, and again this is something you've admitted to, which is slapping your then your former wife in an argument 37 years ago.

You put out a statement that said, "This is a difficult topic that dredges up feelings from many decades ago, but sunshine is the best disinfectant." Given again this moment that we're in right now, does it cause you to reflect on your own past in a different way?

CARPER: We all make mistakes. I made one. And they are making (ph) circumstances I'm not going to get into that. Out of a difficult marriage. My wife is deceased. And we're in the middle of a five- year child custody battle with her ex-husband and the fellow I was running against to try to unseat a Republican incumbent congressman was interested in using a child custody battle, anything they can put their hands on to try to defeat me in the battle for his seat in the House of Representatives. And that all caught up in the politics. Out of the bad situation and

marriage for five years came a wonderful thing and the boy that I raised as a son for five years is my stepson. He's raised, he's grown and has family of his own and successful business. He's like high third son. He's actually had things to say of late about the kind of dad that I was and the way I treated his mom, they way I treated him and his sister. And I'd let that just speak for itself.

[10:40:08] HARLOW: Senator, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you for being here.

CARPER: Thank you. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: All right.

BERMAN: Want to mark a milestone. The Dow hits 25,000 for the first time. It's up 36 percent since the president was elected. That is quite a gain for the market on such a short period of time.

HARLOW: The rally fueled in a big part by strong corporate profits, the promise of the increased profits this tax cut will bring to them. So likely a lot of boost ahead for this market. Corporate tax rate now down to just over 20 percent.

Right now brutal winter storm slamming the northeast. Millions are in its path. We're on top of bombogenesis.


BERMAN: All right. We're getting some news from inside the White House. If you know people inside they may be harder to reach.


BERMAN: By telephone. Kaitlan Collins joins us now to explain why.

A personal cell phone ban -- Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. The Press Secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement this morning announcing that the White House will no longer allow staffers or guests in the West Wing to use their personal cell phones.

[10:45:03] Now our sources tell the CNN White House team that this is a move that the Chief of Staff John Kelly has long been thinking about ever since he first entered the administration over the summer, but they are just now deciding to enact it, and it's leaving a lot of staffers unhappy because as you both know working in this west mean -- West Wing means working long hours and many of them are wondering how they're going to stay in touch with their family and spouses.

And in that statement this morning, Sarah Sanders said that it's because of the security and technology of the West Wing that is a top priority for the Trump administration and that, therefore, starting next week they're no longer going to allow those personal cell phones, but sources inside the White House do not believe that security is the reason that they're not going to allow them to use their personal cell phones while they're at work but that it's because they want to stop leaks to reporters with one source saying, quote, "It's not about being secured, it's about being suspicious."

HARLOW: Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

I was actually saying I'm a little surprised this didn't happen sooner after the Spicer leaks.

BERMAN: Yes. It is hard on staffers, though. I mean, it's hard.

HARLOW: Of course.

BERMAN: All of a sudden the phone that people have been reaching you on for years to find you.

HARLOW: Of course. Absolutely.

All right. So right now 58 million of you are in the path of this bombogenesis they're calling it, monster winter storm, barreling up the East Coast. Parts of New York, New Jersey, declaring a state of emergency. Countless schools closed, air traffic from New York to Boston practically at a standstill, 3,000 flights canceled so far.

BERMAN: The storm has winds 70 miles per hour, gusts possible, then snow, an hour some places will get up to a foot of snow and then cold. Temperatures as low as three degrees in some places.

Our meteorologist Jennifer Gray in the Weather Center with the details -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Guys, the storm is very powerful. It intensified rapidly during the overnight and today and it is now basically over the northeast. The low is offshore but all of the snow is on shore. And you can see New York, Hartford, Rhode Island, all in the snow. Boston getting it as well. And so very heavy snowfall will continue through much of the day.

This will push out this evening. This is a fast mover, but it's going to dump a lot of snow and it's going to have some very strong winds associated with it. We could even see hurricane force gusts as the storm races off to the northeast.

This is 7:00 tonight and you can see New York on the tail end of it. And then during the overnight it is going to be pushing out completely. So we should be in much better shape by the time we get to tomorrow. But nearly 3,000 flights canceled for today. It has been a rough, rough day across the northeast and will continue to do so.

Forty-five to 50-mile-per-hour winds, this is a forecasted wind throughout the afternoon. New York City, 20 to 30. These are wind gusts. 40 to 45. Look at Nantucket, 50, 60 mile per-hour gusts as we go through the late afternoon and evening. Here are your snowfall totals. Three to six inches in Philadelphia forecasted, New York City could get four to eight and more than a foot possible in Boston. The other side of this will be the very cold temperatures on the

backside of this system. Temperatures will be in the single digits. These are high temperatures for Boston. Saturday only getting up to six degrees. New York City could only reach 10 on Saturday. And with the gusty winds we could see power outages all up and down the East Coast and so keeping warm throughout the weekend for a lot of people will be a huge, huge concern -- John and Poppy.

BERMAN: All right. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much. We'll be living through it up here in the northeast.

HARLOW: We will.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Jennifer.

Talk about a warm welcome. The basketball playing family got quite a reception after they arrived in Lithuania. Details in the "Bleacher Report."


[10:52:43] BERMAN: LaVar Ball and his basketball playing sons, they didn't have such a happy experience on their last international trip. But that has not stopped them from traveling again.

HARLOW: Coy Wire has that and more in the "Bleacher Report" this morning.

Good morning, my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy and John. This "Bleacher Report" presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

LiAngelo Ball made headlines after he was arrested when his college hoops team took a trip to China. That resulted in his father LaVar pulling him out of school and sending him and his brother Lamelo to play in Lithuania. They arrived yesterday and look at this scene. It was chaos. LaVar Ball whose oldest son plays for the Lakers, he was acting like he was a Hollywood star. Listen.


LAVAR BALL: In the house. Let's go. Which way we heading? We're happy to be here. We happy to be here. Let's keep it moving and grooving. This is great. This is awesome. We're happy to have a new chapter in our lives. My expectation for my boys to have a lot of fun playing in front of people. Like I tell them basketball is just entertainment and we coming to Lithuania to entertain.


WIRE: LaVar Ball sent his 16-year-old son Lamelo and 19-year-old LiAngelo to play in (INAUDIBLE), a city with a population of about 9800 folks. Next to Poland, it's near Russia. These kids are a long way from home. Imagine being the kid growing up in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, leaving that California sunshine and your friends to go to play in a place that's essentially in the middle of nowhere. Some locals are even saying hey, they better be ready for something different.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Lithuania should harden them, I think. I don't know how other basketball players will live but they won't have the comfort that they're used to. This here is different than where they're from.


WIRE: He said it might harden them a bit. LiAngelo and Lamelo Ball will likely make their debut next week. We'll keep an eye on that.

Let's talk some football, though. Love these Cleveland Browns, perfect season, perfectly imperfect with a winless 0-16 season. Fans, they're having a parade to celebrate that this Saturday when playoffs start. This is a legit parade, too. They contacted the city for approval, got security clearance, roads are going to be closed.

They're going to be parading around the stadium. But they needed some money for things like security, medical staff so they started a gofundme page and they already raised the $10,000 they were seeking.

[10:55:06] They said the season was full of utter embarrassment but it was still full of fun, too. Why not celebrate.

Speaking of celebrate, one team, either Georgia or Alabama, is going to be celebrating after Monday's College Football National Championship game here in Atlanta and this is the trophy that one of those teams will hoist above their heads. It sits over two feet tall, about 50 pounds, 24 karat gold, bronze, stainless steel, it's incredible. I can't touch it, though. Those are the rules, says Charlie Green.

He says don't touch it. He's mean, I think he knows karate. He's been doing this for 19 years. All the way back when it was a crystal ball. I'm not messing with it. I'm touching it, I'm going to be --

BERMAN: Don't even look at it.

WIRE: Yes.

BERMAN: Don't look at it. I can't look at the trophy.

BERMAN: Yes. Avert your eyes. Look away.


HARLOW: They should not trust you. Coy is going to try to lock that thing up in his office.

WIRE: That's right.

HARLOW: So I'm glad Charlie Green is there. BERMAN: All right. Coy Wire, thank you so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

BERMAN: New revelations from inside the White House. And new stories about chaos in the first year of the Trump presidency. We're following all the developments next.