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U.S. Suspends Security to Pakistan; On New Book, Bannon Said Daughter Will Bring Down the Father; Spicer Says, I Screwed Up as Press Secretary. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 4, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Breaking news now. Out of the U.S. State Department they have announced just moments ago that they are suspending assistance to Pakistan. Michelle Kosinski is with me now from the State Department. What exactly did they announce?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: hi, Brooke, well, we've known that the U.S. now is suspending more than $200 million worth of foreign military assistance to Pakistan. I mean that was something of a surprise, even though what the State Department is saying now is that this should come as no surprise to Pakistan.

But it's a big deal that now, you know, we've heard the tough talk from President Trump as well as from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, on Pakistan. And the U.S. is you are not doing enough to counter terrorism. So, to take away this chunk of money, now they are announcing today just now in fact, they're withholding even more. They are suspending above and beyond that $255 million in security assistance. Here's what the State Department just told us.


HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security, excuse me, we are suspending security assistance, security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time. Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. We consider them to be the destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel, the United States will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan.


KOSINSKI: So, what does this mean exactly? From what we are being told these are things like delivers of some military equipment. But the State Department isn't going into a lot of specifics. Even on the total dollar amount that we are talking here. Because they said this is still being worked out and some of it comes from the Department of Defense. But the U.S. is clearly sending a strong message to Pakistan as it's been doing for the past year that they need to take decisive action against terrorists and do more. Just this week we heard Nikki Haley say that Pakistan has played a double game for years. Pakistan, though, has responded to this saying they have done more than many other countries have against terrorists. And in fact, they have suffered many casualties as a result -- Brooke. BALDWIN: OK. Michelle Kosinski. Thank you so much on Pakistan


Coming up next, the White House today banning staff from using personal cell phones. Why are they doing this? Is this unprecedented? We have that for you.

Also, here's a quote, the daughter will bring down the father. This is one of the more stinging lines from Steve Bannon quoted in that Michael Wolff book. New reporting from within the White House, next.


BALDWIN: CNN is hearing that some White House staffers are frustrated over this new ban prohibiting the use of personal cell phones within the West Wing. The move comes just days after details emerge from the bombshell book about the inner workings of the Trump administration. And we just heard in the briefings, Sarah Sanders says this whole ban has been in the works for six months. So, with me now, Walter Shaub, CNN contributor and former director of the Office of Government Ethics. First appointed by Obama who later resigned after clashing with the Trump administration. Welcome back to you. And joining me Kim Zetter, a long-time cybersecurity journalist who covered security for more than a decade for "Wired" and other publications.

So, Kim, I want to start with you. Because does this have -- how unprecedented is this move of having people drop cell phones into a box before say walking into the West Wing? And does it kind of make sense just from a security standpoint?

KIM ZETTER, LONGTIME CYBERSECURITY JOURNALIST: It makes total sense from a security standpoint. And in the past, when you've gone into sensitive rooms where you are having classified discussions in the White House, that is the practice where you leave electronic devices in a cubbyhole or a locker. The practice now sort of expanded to the entire West Wing and it's all electronic devices. From a security standpoint it makes complete sense. Phones in particular can be turned into listening devices, surreptitious listening devices and of course if you are connecting laptops and tablets to the White House network, that's a security concern as well.

BALDWIN: Right. So surreptitious listening devices, and hacking worries, one can understand why you wouldn't have to have a cell phone in the West Wing. That said, Walter Shaub, I understand you disagree. Tell me why?

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: To some degree it depends how they implement this. If they're provide cubbies that you can drop the things off when you get to work, and at least you'll have your phone when you're leaving at 1:00 in the morning to call an Uber to get home after the metro has stopped. But if they are saying you can't even bring a phone on the grounds that's really over the top. Even still if it's idea of leaving it in a cubby, it's not like this is a new problem. The White House and several administrations has existed, coexist with cell phones. [15:40:00] I used to walk around and see tables -- as she mentioned --

outside of a room where everybody would just set their phone down and go into a meeting room or for more sensitive topic they'd go into a SCIF, a secure facility, and leave the phones outside, and the room would be protected against any sound. So, it really seems to me a lot more like a technological solution to a culture problem, which is that they can't seem to get ahold of a White House staff that's talking to the press and talking to the outside world.

BALDWIN: That's -- let me follow up with you on that, because there have been all the complaints of all the different leaks, and you can imagine someone hearing something and going like this on your cell phones and sending it out to someone from within the West Wing. And so, then would the question then be, Walter, is should this have happened a long time ago?

SHAUB: Well, I think to the contrary. It's dumb in that sense. Because why do leaks happen? Leaks happen because people are disaffected. Because you have a dysfunctional office culture telling people that you don't trust them means that you are admitting we haven't picked the best people. And we can't trust you. That's only going to deepen the kind of resentments. Look, in the 1970s deep throat didn't need a cell phone to bring down a presidency. Information is going to get out if you've got disaffected staff determined to get information out one way or another.

Walter and Kim, thank you so much on all things cell phones and the White House.

We do have a significant development I want to get to in this Russia investigation. We are learning what the Trump organization has turned over to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, we have that for you, next.

[15:45: 00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This tell-all book, Michael Wolff, "Fire and Fury" that comes out next week, depicts the White House brimming with chaos and dysfunction. As new details are coming from this once trusted White House insider, former chief strategist Steve Bannon. The book makes startling claims about the first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner painting as Steve Bannon referred to them as javanka as A calculating ambitious power couple with a long-term goal as Ivanka Trump as first female president.

According to the book, Bannon says quote, the daughter will bring down the father. So, I have with me two of my favorite Kates. Kate Bennett CNN White House reporter and Kate Anderson Brower, CNN contributor and author of "The Residence, Inside the Private World of The White House." And also, author of "First Women, The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies." Kate Bennett, you are first. No secret that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are ambitious. Does this include this president pact for Ivanka Trump as first female president?

KATE BENNET, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It seems that it very well could. This isn't the first time Ivanka as future president came up. As you remember her mother wrote that book a few months ago and said she might very well be the first woman and Jewish president. So again, the couple is ambitious. They may have made this pact. It might be true. Ivanka has said before part of the reason they were drawn to each other in the first place when they started dating was they are both ambitious.

And she said Jared is not intimidated at all by my job. I think it's interesting too that on January 1st Ivanka Trump did change her Twitter bio, before it read entrepreneur, advocate for girls and women's education issues. And now it is much broader, it says adviser to POTUS on job creation and economic empowerment, workforce development and entrepreneurship if, so those are certainly some more broad thoughts about portfolio and maybe her coverage as expanded too. So, she's thoughtful. I wouldn't put it past her this is something she wants to do down the road.

BALDWIN: As for her father, much of the book describes the president's eating, TV habits, this has been reported before. But Kate Anderson Brower, to you, I read your opinion piece on and you wrote a lot of these habits are not uncommon. Tell me about LBJ and his fixation on water pressure.

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR OF "THE RESIDENCE, INSIDE THE PRIVATE WORLD OF THE WHITE HOUSE": I think a lot of presidents do feel under siege in the White House and LBJ is great example he was obsessed with the White House shower, he wanted it to come in very hot with needle like intensity and he made lives hell. He would call the plumbing foreman and scream if I can move 10,000 troops in a day, referring to Vietnam, you can fix the bathroom anyway I want it.

And I think we see some of that. And LBJ in some ways, his larger than life personality, there are some comparisons you can make to Donald Trump. So, I wasn't surprised about the food poisoning concerns. Because I interviewed White House chefs he talked about really being on the front lines in terms of like keeping the president and his family alive. That their jobs are very important. And they actually have someone in charge of going out and buying food for the first family at a local super market. In unmarked secret service van. So, this is not that shocking. And the kind of idea that Donald Trump has no control over his life, so he locks the door and tells the staff when to clean up and wash the clothes, I think it just shows his eccentricities and it is not entirely new if it is true.

BALDWIN: For people on the food poisoning point and if people are watching and what are you talking about, it's reported in this book he never wanted the staff to touch his toothbrush for fear of poisoning, one of the reasons he likes McDonald's is they never know when they are coming so obviously wouldn't have touched his food. So back with you, Kate Anderson Brower, what impact do these tell-all books actually have on first families? At the end of the day do they care?

BROWER: You know, I mean when I wrote my book, I know that I had heard from staff that they were upset.

BALDWIN: Really? BROWER: They don't like people talking about this. And this book has

explosive things in it. I think it's amazing that the president would sue over it. You never saw the Obamas, Clintons, Bushes, suing over any kind of salacious things that have been written. It's the First Amendment. So, I think that a lot of journalists our obviously very concerned to see that. But Trump has been successful in some lawsuits, you see Melania Trump's lawsuits, he is using the same lawyer she used successfully to sue "The Daily Mail" and a blogger. We'll see what happens.

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: On Melania, Kate Bennett back over to you, the book touches on Melania Trump, with this opening illustration of her with a tear streaming down her face and Michael Wolff writes that those were not tears of joy, with regard to, you know, election night and Trump's win. What more can you tell me about that?

BENNETT: It's sort of this common rumor that's going around that she was really unhappy when her husband won. She didn't want him to win. "Vanity Fair" wrote about this a few weeks ago and the White House pushed back hard against it saying it just wasn't true. They're doing that again. Stephanie Gresham, Melania's chief communication director issued a statement pushing back on the Wolff book too, saying it is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs. Trump supported her husband's decision to run for president and encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.

So clearly, the east wing echoing Sarah Sanders today and the west wing saying this isn't true, it's fiction, it's fantasy, et cetera, you know, election night happened. Melania is first lady, and so we're just keeping our eye on that.

BALDWIN: Ladies, thank you so much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BROWER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just in, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer just wrapping up a wide-ranging interview with my colleague S.E. Cupp. Sean Spicer's reaction to the epic fallout between President Trump and Steve Bannon next.


BALDWIN: One person who certainly knows a lot about what's in this explosive new book about the White House is Sean Spicer. President's first press secretary who was let go just a couple of months ago, well, he just wrapped an interview with S.E. Cupp for her show on our sister network HLN. S.E. Cupp is with me now, what did he say?

S.E. CUPP, HOST, HLN: I'm going to tell you everything.

BALDWIN: Tell me everything.

CUPP: I'm not. You're going to have to tune in to watch. Look, it was revealing. I had to ask him tough questions. I wasn't just going to have him on to play softball for an hour. So, I did, I asked him tough questions. I thought he gave me some pretty real answers. In the rest of the show we talked about the book, we talked about those allegations, we talked about Steve Bannon and the rift now with Donald Trump.

He had a lot to say about that. And then we talked generally about the future of the Republican party. The future of the Democratic party. We had some fun talking about reality television and sort of living in a reality television era presidency. I thought he was fairly candid with me, and also fairly insightful about what's going on today. He's been around. He's seen a lot. And so, it was important to me not just to ask him about those days in the White House, but what he thinks about everything that's going on right now.

BALDWIN: Let's take a listen to the clip, Sean Spicer and S.E.


CUPP: Do you think you maintained your credibility?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There were times where I screwed up. There is no question about it.

CUPP: Give me one.

SPICER: I mean, the inauguration. You brought it up. I would say that's the first and foremost. There was an event where I was trying to talk about how evil Assad was, and I screwed that up royally.

CUPP: You brought up Hitler, right.

SPICER: Thank you for reminding me. But those are days when I went back and look, I'm a very self-critical person.

CUPP: Yes.

SPICER: And I sat back and said, you know, it's not my credibility. I honestly went out every day to do the best job I could for the president of the United States who gave me an unbelievable honor and to do the best job for the American people. That's ultimately who you serve. When I screwed up, it felt really bad. Because you are realizing that you're tarnishing your personal reputation, your family's reputation, your friends who like you and support you. You know, some of your colleagues and ultimately again, this administration and the American people who I wanted to do my best job, my best for every single day.


CUPP: It was a really human moment, and, you know, it took a while to get there, I'll be honest. You know, of course he doesn't want to go --

BALDWIN: That's what people want to know.

CUPP: Right, the human aspect.

BALDWIN: What was that like, peel back the layers. Does he have regrets?

CUPP: Yes. I was glad to hear him acknowledge the impact it had, but he thought about the impact on his family and his reputation and I've known Sean. So, I witnessed what has happened to his reputation. You know, on the hill, people still really, really like him, and appreciate him, but it was good to hear him sort of acknowledge that that has all taken a ding and that in the moment when he was doing the job to the best of his ability, he knew that he was risking his reputation, his family, all of that. And that's what you want to hear. And I thought he did as best a job as he could kind of getting there.

BALDWIN: We'll tune in entirely.

CUPP: There's a lot more.

BALDWIN: 5:00 on HLN. Before I let you go just in the last minute, what's he up to? What's he hoping to do? Or is he laying low?

CUPP: He's -- I don't think he's laying low. I think he's exploring different avenues and places to go. And, you know, this was one of the first things he wanted to do. Which was to kind of get this out in the open and talk about what had happened honestly. You know, does he need to do more of that? Maybe that'll be up to the public, but this was a first step. And he knows that he had to do this.

And where he goes next, look, I think he's going to have a lot of opportunities. He's a very talented guy. He still has a lot of respect among political operatives. Does he have the public's respect? We'll have to wait and see.

BALDWIN: OK. We'll let the viewer be the judge. S.E. Cupp, thank you for making the mad dash over here. To get that clip on there, we appreciate it.

CUPP: Tune in.

BALDWIN: Please tune in to S.E. and her show tonight, HLN, 5:00 eastern where you can see Sean Spicer. S.E. Cupp, thank you so much. That does it for me I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Let's take it to Washington right now, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.