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CNN: Oprah "Actively Thinking" About Presidential Run; CNN: Mitt Romney Treated for Prostate Cancer; Author: Trump Staffers Discuss 25th Amendment "Every Day". Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:46] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. Thanks for being with me.

The question we are asking today, will Oprah Winfrey challenge President Trump in 2020?

New today, CNN has learned from not just one, but two sources close to her that she is, quote/unquote, actively considering it. Oprah's speech left a lot of people thinking she's getting ready for 2020, and not just because of what she said about the Me Too Movement and women's empowerment, but because of how she made people feel. It was impassioned. It was omniscient and at times it was a painful moment of truth that was simply undeniable.


OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have, and I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell and this year, we became the story.

But it's not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It's one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.

So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon!


And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men finding hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say me too again.


BALDWIN: That speech, I am sure, made a lot of people want to change the world. One person tweeted it was, quote, our State of the Union Address when asked about it this morning. This is all Oprah would share. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAYLE KING, CBS THIS MORNING: OK. 2020, I'm wondering if you've narrowed your short list of V.P. candidates.

WINFREY: She's lost her mind now. No, I haven't. No, I haven't.

KING: Give me a minute to follow.

WINFREY: 2020, I was thinking of the show.

KING: People ask it all of the time. Even now I am starting to think the rules have changed. I would say I would bet my firstborn and Kirby goes, hey, hey, hey!

WINFREY: You can be safe with that. There will be no running for office of any kind for me.


BALDWIN: OK. Still, we're going to talk about it. Dana Bash is with me now, CNN chief political correspondent and Robin Thede, host of BET's "The Rundown with Robin Thede."

Ladies, a pleasure.


BALDWIN: So, Dana Bash, to you first. Her speech last night amazing. You know, the whole line a new day is on the horizon and you couldn't help, but like jump on your sofa with her, right? But did it seem like -- you heard her on CBS, did it seem like a political speech to you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that is the beauty of Oprah and the reason why she is who she is is that it seemed like the kind of speech that you want it to be. It's whatever you want to make of it because it and she goes after people's sense of, as you said, Brooke, sense of the desire for optimism, for a feel good moment. That is how she has become the powerhouse mogul and, you know, sort of cultural icon that she is.

So, yes, if you are sitting at home -- if a person is sitting at home watching her thinking, wow, you know, if Donald Trump, a celebrity can become president, what about Oprah?

THEDE: How dare you mention them in the same sentence?

BASH: Well -- and -- but if you were somebody who watched "The Oprah Winfrey Show" for years and years and years and saw her do that kind of thing, sometimes in a more commercial way, you get a car, you get a car, you get a car, uplifting people that way then you see it in a different way.

[14:05:15] I do think that what she said to her BFF Gayle King this morning should be taken seriously, though.


BASH: That she's probably too smart to maybe mess with her brand, to be in politics, but you never know. If you have someone like Meryl Streep and maybe her close friend saying you've got to do this, Oprah, stranger things have happened.

BALDWIN: Yes, here's my question to you, Robin.


BALDWIN: Listen, we all have love for Oprah Winfrey.

THEDE: Yes, of course. Undoubtedly.

BALDWIN: But the question is, do you have love for Oprah running for president?

THEDE: Listen, as much as everyone in their mind would love to think that Oprah can be president, Oprah cannot be president.


THEDE: Here's why. We don't deserve Oprah as president. It puts too much pressure on us. With Trump as president, you can just be any jerk and just be fine and so is (ph) America.

But Oprah as president, we all have to do better. We have to live our best lives.

BALDWIN: What's wrong with that? What's wrong with that?

THEDE: We have to listen to people and believe them when they show us who they are. I don't think anything is wrong with it, but I do not think America is ready. And I think, people know that Oprah is too smart to be president. It's the same reason when Michelle Obama gets calls to run, she's, like, no thanks. I've been in that White House, I'm not ready to do it, I won't do it, I'm too smart for that.

BALDWIN: Shouldn't you be smart and be president?

THEDE: You should be smart and be president, but Ii think you have to be a little bit of a narcissist also and I'm not sure Oprah has that. I think she's too spiritually settled to be president. Also, you can't contain a queen or goddess in the mirror role of a president. Why don't we just have a monarchy in this country? Oprah can be queen and then whoever can be president.

BALDWIN: That is the idea that we're floating.

Go ahead, Dana.


BALDWIN: -- by the way. THEDE: Please, no one cares about that. Lack of experience. She has

run a billion dollar corporation. I do feel like if --

BALDWIN: No, she has people at her fingertips like the Obamas, but still one could make the argument.

BASH: And that's the point I was going to make is that the notion of experience and the need for experience in politics or even in government at all went out the window in 2016. We know that, right.

BALDWIN: Was that a problem?

BASH: Maybe, maybe. And you know what? In recent times, Brooke, as you know, the pendulum swings in the opposite way of the way we have now. So, maybe it will swing back and the next president is going to be somebody voters demand has been in public service since the womb. But, you know, you never know.

But one thing I will say is that Oprah and the Trump family, they do have a history. I'm sure you were avid watchers of her last season as I was and she had the Trump family. It was a first. She had the now President Donald Trump on with all of his children and his wife and their grandchildren and so on and so forth, and it was like a big event and it was a big ratings grab.

There you see. There was the promo for it.


BASH: But the other point they want to make --

THEDE: Yes, but that doesn't absolve her of any --


BASH: Oh, no. I'm not saying that she's a Trump supporter. I'm just saying they come from, you know, kind of, obviously, the pop culture sensibility which is the other point that I want to make --


BASH: -- which is people who from the beginning helped Donald Trump tap into the voters that elected him president were very focused on doing so with emotion, without 17-point plans, without the kind of thing that we traditionally demand of our candidates. It was about emotion and --

BALDWIN: Isn't that what she does as well?


BASH: -- a few other people who bring that than Oprah Winfrey. She taps into people's emotion, a very different emotion, but people's emotion in a way that Donald Trump does.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. Go ahead.

THEDE: Here's the thing about Oprah that I will say. I do think that instead of making people feel bad about their situation or empowered in their racism, she is somebody --

BALDWIN: Ouch, Robin.

THEDE: -- is trying to empower people in positivity.

I'm sorry, is there a live?

But, you know, she's trying to empower people in positivity, like, everybody can agree on that.


THEDE: Like, there's not people, there's not a contingent of people who hate Oprah for her positive message. They might hate her because of she's a black woman or because of her business or whatever, but I get why the Twitter, social media, Facebook frenzy happened last night. She did look like Obama at the DNC. Like, she did look like --

BALDWIN: The speech that --

THEDE: Yes. She really did. When people said this was the State of the Union for black people last night or for women last night, I get that. It felt like that, that energy felt like that.

But I just think her power could be used better elsewhere. I personally would love to see her back on TV and that's where she did the most good at 3:00 in the afternoon.

BALDWIN: I don't want to go up against her at 3:00 in the afternoon.

THEDE: There you go.

BALDWIN: No, I miss her, and I love her and I think --


[14:10:02] THEDE: -- think she did the speech, though, because it was that powerful.

BALDWIN: Because she knew is -- she is inspiration and we're all looking for a little inspiration. It was the perfect punctuation mark to a night full of women, you know, wearing black and standing up and speaking out and even let's give props to Seth Meyers which no one is talking about. I thought he was awesome, but still it was about Oprah.

I mean, I stayed up to watch Oprah, but at the end of the night, you know, I don't think we can read too terribly much more into it. It's a great question. THEDE: Yes. She knows she has the power. She knows the power that

she holds and she knew what she was doing with that speech but she has the power to mess with us.

BASH: She talks about a book she likes and it's the best-seller list. Of course, she understands it. She's had this kind of cultural social power for decades.

BALDWIN: It's the magic. Yes.

BASH: But I also think why she gave the speech, she was the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award and that's something.

BALDWIN: OK. I wish we could all keep talking, but we've got to move on.

BASH: I'll text you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

And Robin Thede, thank you. Come back.

THEDE: I'll come back.

Bye, Dana.

BALDWIN: Also just to quickly clarify the clip on Oprah on CBS was from October. It wasn't from today.

Breaking news involving former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. CNN has learned the former Massachusetts governor was treated over the summer for prostate cancer.

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House with more on that.

Abby, what did you know?


Well, CNN's Jake Tapper just learned from a source close to Romney that he received that treatment over the summer at a hospital in California and the source says that the prognosis is good and that he was successfully treated.

Now, it's unclear what that means for Mitt Romney now and what his status is right at this moment, but it's an optimistic statement from the source close to Romney. It's important also at this moment because Romney is rumored to be potentially looking into a big Senate run in Utah, his home state.

Orrin Hatch, the current senior senator from that state announced in the last couple of weeks that he would be retiring and Mitt Romney is the leading candidate to potentially replace him on the ballot. Romney has not committed to running in that race yet and it's possible that we know this now in anticipation that he might be making an announcement one way or another about what he's going to do in that important race. Again, we don't have many details here about the treatment that he received over the summer, but it's notable that we are learning about it here in January. He was treated all of the way back in the summer according to the source and that the treatment was apparently successful, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Great. Obviously we wish him the very best and hopefully we'll get a little bit more on him.

Abby Philip, for now, thank you so much.

Coming up next, it would require a full-blown political mutiny in the West Wing. The author of the tell-all book on President Trump says there are daily conversations about the 20th Amendment in the White House. So, let's delve into what exactly that is and how realistic it would be playing out.

Also, he once described the White House as an adult day care. Why Republican Senator Bob Corker, one of the president's outspoken critics, is traveling with the president on Air Force One right now.

And new developments in the Russia probe. Will President Trump soon be interviewed face to face with special counsel Robert Mueller? This as one senator tells CNN more indictments are coming.

You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[4:17:54] BALDWIN: As the president continues to defend his mental stability on intelligence, the author of "Fire and Fury," that controversial behind the scenes book, is claiming that the possibility of removing the president under the 25th Amendment was actually a frequent topic of conversation among staffers at the White House. That constitutional amendment is about the transition of power if a president is unable to execute his or her responsibilities.

Here is author Michael Wolff describing what he said he heard in the West Wing.


MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY": It's not unreasonable to say this is 25th Amendment kind of stuff. This is --

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: I mean, did anybody say that in the West Wing to you?

WOLFF: All of the time.

TODD: Twenty-fifth Amendment. They would bring up the 25th Amendment?

WOLFF: Yes. Actually, they would say we're not -- sort of in the mid period. We're not at a 25th Amendment level yet or they would --

TODD: That's alarming. WOLFF: Yes. This is alarming in every way, and then this went on.

OK. This is a little 25th Amendment.

So, 25th Amendment is a concept that is alive every day in the White House.


BALDWIN: With me now to further explain, easy for me to say, CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic.

Joan, nice to see you.


BALDWIN: Let's talk more about the 25th Amendment, specifically, does it reference mental competency at all?

BISKUPIC: It doesn't, Brooke. It speaks generally in terms of a president not being able to perform the duties of office.

And it's interesting how it started because -- and that background will show just how unlikely it is now that the 25th Amendment would be invoked. It was ratified in 1967 four years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, with the idea being, what if a would-be assassin didn't carry through with an actual death, but somehow incapacitated a president and put him in a coma? He was brain damaged in some way, the idea was to have some mechanism set up.

But you can tell, Brooke, from that history that it involves someone who -- a president who wasn't going to be fighting this, who somehow wasn't going to be able to be engaged because it requires either a majority of the cabinet or the vice president to first send word to House and Senate leaders that the president is unable to perform his duties.

[14:20:19] And again, it speaks more generally to get to your original question. But then if the president fights that as, let's just say that happened, which again is very unlikely because it would have to be a majority of the cabinet or the vice president who now is Mike Pence.


BISKUPIC: Say it did go to the House and Senate, the president could say, wait a minute. I'm OK here. Don't do this.

And then it would fall to the House and the Senate to vote by two- thirds that the president would have to be disposed of. So it's quite a high bar. Higher, in fact, Brooke, than impeachment.

BALDWIN: Right, and I think all of that context is so entirely crucial and people throw out this notion of the 25th Amendment --


BALDWIN: -- and because of the members of cabinet and the two-thirds, it's just, as you said it so perfectly, the bar is very, very high.

I'm sure we'll talk about it again at some point, though, Joan.


BALDWIN: For now, thank you so much.

I want to continue this conversation here with a couple of other people. Hours after declaring that he is, quote, like, really smart, the president explained why he felt the need to tweet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went to the best colleges or college. I went to a -- I had a situation where I was a very excellent student and came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for ten years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won.


BALDWIN: OK. So, that is where we are starting.

With me now is CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel and CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio author of "The Truth about Trump."

I mean, you have the sound that we just played, Michael D'Antonio, starting with you, that he's not only a genius, but a very stable genius, at that. When you first saw that, what were you thinking?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: These are all the things that our parents teach us not to do. We're not supposed to brag. We're not supposed to fight with other people and, you know, sticks and stones. You're not really supposed to answer back when someone criticizes you especially if you're president of the United States.

So, this idea of I'm a stable genius and then later ticking off all of his accomplishments, the unfortunate thing for the president is that we could go down those lists of accomplishments that he claims and describe the factors that belie his claims. You know, he didn't run for president just one time and win. He contemplated running many times. He had an exploratory campaign in '87. He actually ran in 1999 and didn't succeed.

So -- and, you know, during one of those attempts, he threw out the name Oprah Winfrey as a vice presidential running mate.

BALDWIN: You are correct. You are correct.

D'ANTONIO: So, you've got that. You've got this claim of being one of the top business people, whatever that means. He's gone bankrupt at least four times, so I don't put that in the higher echelon.

And finally, his claims to his success is undocumented. He has not released the list of class rankings for students. He's often said he was the top graduate. That doesn't seem to be true. So, all of this just seems classic Trump and really beside the point of meeting our country.

BALDWIN: Despite points you're making, Jamie Gangel, the fact is there were a lot of people standing by the president over the weekend, defending his comments.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, as he said, it's classic Trump. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story when you're Donald Trump.


GANGEL: What we saw this weekend, look, in the pantheon of outrageous Donald Trump tweets, this was right up there, but to see Nikki Haley, to see CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Republican Senator Tom Cotton and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham all out there defending him today when you know they are as stunned as we are privately, but they have to get out there and do this. They are going to carry the water.

BALDWIN: Like even a Senator Bob Corker and you look at his evolution, right? Initially he was up to be potentially the president's secretary of state to calling in the wake of Charlottesville, the White House an adult daycare to now according to our own reporting up on the Hill, you know, has, you know, what's the word?

[14:25:02] Sort of made good essentially with the president and is on the plane --

GANGEL: A 180.

BALDWIN: A 180 and that was on a plane to Tennessee with the president. Here's Senator Corker.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does. He's not going to rise to the occasion as president.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think he's a role model to children in the United States?


RAJU: You don't?

CORKER: No. Absolutely not.

RAJU: Is the president of the United States a liar?

CORKER: The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues.

RAJU: Do you regret supporting him in the election?

CORKER: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again.

RAJU: So, you wouldn't support him again?

CORKER: No way. No way.


BALDWIN: This is the same man who is on Air Force One with the president today who has made amends with him. What does it say to you about the calculations on potentially influencing legislation versus concerns one may have?

GANGEL: And Lindsey Graham is now playing golf with him when a year ago he was calling him a kook.

BALDWIN: Totally.

GANGEL: In talking to people, I think we have a political calculation here, surprise, surprise. It is Washington, D.C. The ends are justifying the means. They are getting something they want in the political agenda from the Republicans' point of view, they got their tax cut. The Dow is going up.


GANGEL: Unemployment is going down.

As long as those things are the case and Lindsey Graham wants to be relevant and in there, they seem willing to make these adjustments. On the other hand, we have the midterm elections coming up. If the Republicans I've talked to they are afraid they're going to lose the House. They're afraid they can lose the Senate. If as we get closer to November they see that, expect another adjustment --

BALDWIN: Flip again. Flip again.

Jamie Gangel, thank you so much.

Michael D'Antonio, thank you, sir.

Still ahead here, could President Trump soon find himself having to face tough questions from special counsel Bob Mueller. A Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says it is probable. So, what would do that even look like? And what would the president's lawyers have to say about it?

Back in a moment.