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Trump Criticized for New Take on DREAMers; Trump Threatens to Cut Aid to Palestinians; NFL Rejects Ad for Program by A Veterans Group; Model Ashley Graham Promoting Self-Acceptance. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] ANDRE BAUER (R), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: There is a system that keeps me out. I may be able to go through a chain of things and get in, but I have to do certain things. And citizens should have to do the same in this country. They shouldn't be able to sashay over the southern border and all of a sudden political people get behind them --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I don't think anyone is talking about sashaying.

BAUER: But they've been doing that, and the former president of the United States created this problem. The former president of the United States created this problem.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You're already here, changing the contours of this debate.

BAUER: I'm not changing anything.

MENENDEZ: This can be very narrow. It has been very narrow. Give a pathway to citizenship in exchange for sensible border security and you with the rest later. On what you see now is conservative members of the Republican party demanding are things that would make sense in the context of a conversation about 11 million undocumented immigrants but doesn't make sense about a very small group almost 800,000 young people.

BALDWIN: What's the sense, Alicia? I was talking to Bambadjan Bamba, who came over from the Ivory Coast, came over legally was able to get in as part of the DREAMers, now coming out and speaking out and saying, here I am I'm undocumented and don't know my future. He kept saying to me he wasn't entirely sure if he wants to take the words of the president by heart. He's standing on the side of hope. What are you hearing from the DREAMers right now?

MENENDEZ: Thank you for asking that. It's so easy to start talking about Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and forget that there's 800,000 young people whose lives hang in the balance. They're terrified yet they remain incredibly hopeful that Washington will act. Washington now has a job to do. It has a very easy framework for getting this done.

The fundamental question will come down to the president, whether or not the president is willing to use his political capital to go against the hardliners in his own party and in doing so create not only a legislative accomplishment but a legacy piece that he can use moving forward.

BALDWIN: Does that make sense, Andre?

BAUER: No. Again, these folks came over illegally. Again, we are putting -- we're worried more about people that aren't citizens than our own citizens.

MENENDEZ: That's not fair.

BAUER: At some point in time there has to be a stop gap. It is fair. It's not fair that you continue to put the burden on U.S. citizens. And people do it the right way and the legal way to say we'll let all these people do it the illegal way, jump in front of you. What's the encouragement for somebody who wants to come from another country and be part of our system to go through it the legal way? Why do it, why have a legal way to do it, if we're going to continue to ram it down through a legislative process, everybody who comes here illegal? Do it that way instead.

BALDWIN: I have been listening to you so carefully, I understand, I know a lot of people agree with you. We're talking about people that came over as kids, not of their own volition, brought by their parent, some legally, some illegally. They are stuck in the system. They've given to this country. They have been educated, we are doing to our society in terms of technology. In Bambadjan's case, entertainment and they want to stay here and maintain their own personal status quo. Alicia?

MENENDEZ: I spoke to one young DREAMer who came here when she was six months old from Mexico when. She said to me, I speak some Spanish. What would happen if she were deported to her home country? She doesn't even speak the language?

BALDWIN: Thank you. We have to leave it there. Alicia and Andre, let's agree to disagree. But it is important conversation to have the deadline is March for Congress to deal on DACA.

Next, President Trump stokes controversy by saying Jerusalem is off the table for Mideast peace negotiations. Palestinian leaders responding that America is off the table as the mediator.


[15:40:00] BALDWIN: The president today sending a harsh warning to Palestinians, come to the table for peace talks with Israel or no more U.S. aid. The not so subtle threat came as he met today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. President Trump accusing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of acting disrespectfully to the U.S.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands, that money is on the table.


BALDWIN: Defiant Abbas returning fire, his spokesman says, if Jerusalem is off the table, America is off the table as well. Elise Labott is with me. Good afternoon to you. The impact of Trump's warning? Does the president control all U.S. aid to Palestinians?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: He doesn't, Brooke, Congress is the one that appropriates the aid to the Palestinians. There's been a growing, you know, frustration with Palestinian President Abbas, particularly by this administration, because it's not, you know, cooperating with President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the U.S. embassy there.

So, you know, this kind of follows on President Abbas refusing to meet with Vice President Pence in the past few days, you had Nikki Haley, ambassador to the U.N. today, very tough remarks about Abbas, which followed a speech.

BALDWIN: We have that. Let me play that.

LABOTT: Yes, play a little bit of that. That would be good.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: In his speech, President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American president. But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders.


BALDWIN: Just want to get that in there. Go ahead, Elise.

LABOTT: She compared Abbas to Egyptian President Sadat who went to Israel to try to make peace. It's completely different. It's been an amazing couple of days, Brooke, the U.S. coming down on the side of Israel, no daylight between the U.S. and Israel and blaming the Palestinians for the lack of progress in in the peace process, even despite the fact that the president really did create a lot of tension in the region following his announcement about Jerusalem.

What seems to be happening is, you know, the administration very frustrated with Abbas for not getting in line with the administration's view of the region, which is Israel cooperating with the Saudis and other gulf states, with Egypt and Jordan. And this grand vision in the region and the Palestinians are the holdout. President Abbas is very weak. And they seem to be wanting to push him out in favor of new leadership. Problem is all the Palestinians feel this way. BALDWIN: Elise Labott, thank you so much in Washington for us.

Coming up next, the NFL has rejected this had ad ahead for the Super Bowl that asks people to stand for the national anthem. The leader of the veterans group that submitted the said will join me live and what he thinks about the NFL's claim that the ad was just too political.


BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he plans to release transcripts of interviews with participants, part of that controversial meeting in Trump Tower back in June of 2016.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: With that being said it's just a case of going through the process. I think there's a couple people who still want to go through their transcript yet. And then I think there has to be experts go through it that would be if there needs to be anything that needs to be redacted and the next step is let the public have access to it.


BALDWIN: That includes conversations with Don Junior, one person who didn't submit to an interview, the president son-in-law, Jared Kushner saying he was quite spooked, his word, after other transcripts had been released. We'll have much more on "THE LEAD" coming up, with Jake Tapper on that.

Official NFL program for Sunday will not contain this. Full-page ad featuring a military guard holding an American flag and a text simply reads "please stand." It's sponsored by a veterans group called AMVETS. The NFL says it's rejecting this ad because it makes a political statement.

[15:50:00] This group said it submitted the ad in reaction to this, football season where players protested inequality game after game after game, making their own political statement by kneeling during the national anthem. This is what the NFL has to say about why the group's ad won't appear in the game program, quoting them. It has never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some a political statement. We look to work with the organization and asked it to consider other options, such as, quote, please honor our veterans. They chose not to.

[15:50:00] We asked it to consider using "please stand for our veterans." Joe Chenelly is the national director for AMVETS. Thank you for being with me. When you first heard you got a big fat no on this, what was your response?

JOE CHENELLY, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, AMVETS: Brooke, thanks so much for having me. We were disappointed and very surprised. The NFL had come to us about two weeks earlier and asked us through their ad agency and asked if we would be interested in purchasing a full-page ad in the program that another sponsor backed out so there was a page open and we would have a nonprofit rate. This is not something we typically do.

They did some research on us, learned about our Americanism program and actually suggested that we use this opportunity as a way to convey our message of Americanism. So, we created this had ad. We did it in a very deliberate way where it would be respectful, understanding that the NFL was inviting us into their biggest show. But we had an important message we felt we needed to deliver on, something that's pertinent to that specific event and that being please stand.

The intent was not to put anyone down who chooses not to stand. But we wanted our position, which as a patriotic organization, is that we should stand for the national anthem and for our flag.

BALDWIN: I think that's a key piece of the equation, that the NFL came to you and then you presented this full-page ad. And I mentioned a second ago, the NFL came to you and suggested to maybe change the requirements and why not say please stand for our veterans instead of just please stand. What did you say to them?

CHENELLY: Sure. We did have a direct conversation with the ad agency. We were not actually able to speak with the NFL through this. But we explained that this was the important message, honoring our veterans or standing for our veterans is something of a general statement that's said often. We felt there needed to be a statement specifically for this event.

Again, we told them our intention here was to be respectful and polite and we were not asking for a boycott of the NFL. We've never done anything like that. Again, we don't deny that these players have the right, as long as their employer, the NFL, says they can make that demonstration, we don't actually have a problem with that. We simply wanted our message and our simple ask out there.

BALDWIN: Let me go back to that next point. So, you wouldn't have a problem with, all through the season we saw a number of different players decide to take the knee, right? The reason for taking the knee, they said, was not about disrespecting the country. It was simply about protesting inequality. You don't have an issue with that. So, what would you like to convey to Americans, to players, maybe even to the president?

CHENELLY: Sure, our message is that we, as veterans, all put on the uniform in defense of our constitution, including the freedom of speech. We understand this is not a first amendment issue because we're talking about private entities here, but we believe we all do have the freedom of speech, and we understand that these players have important messages they want to put out there, and, again, if the NFL decides that the field is the place for that, it's fine, but we believe that they should find a different way to have their message conveyed. Again, we're not criticizing them for choosing it or taking away their rights, but our position is they should stand for the national anthem and find another way to convey that message.

BALDWIN: Grateful for your service and so many men and women in this country. Thank you so much for coming on, giving us your side of the story.

CHENELLY: Thank you so much, appreciate it.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Breaking news, CNN learned texts about a so-called secret society over at the FBI were a joke, and Republican lawmakers who sounded the alarm about them are backtracking now. More on that.


[16:00:00] BALDWIN: Now to "American woman", a series, I had an idea for after covering the 2016 presidential election and listening to so many women who showed up wanting to be involved. I had a hunch something significant was going to happen as women spoke out and spoke up in record numbers and standing on stage at the women's march last year, like so many of you, and I witnessed a collective strength of those who travel far and wide to be seen and heard. It was overwhelming. So, I just decided to make the next chapter of my career dedicated to women.

I got to talk to Cheryl Crowe, Pat Benatar, Betty White, and more, we chose because they all shattered glass ceilings, music, fashion, and in film, trail blazing women who shared with me very personal stories of success and failure, who are not afraid to talk politics, and then frustration and hope. They all want to help other women realize their dreams as well. So, today, here's "American Woman," Ashley Graham.


ASHLEY GRAHAM, MODEL: I'm Ashley Graham, I am an American woman because I am confident. I was so just flabbergasted when I had been announced as a rookie for "Sports Illustrated," like, what are they going to say? So excited, I'm in "Sports Illustrated," I'm the biggest girl in "Sports Illustrated" now. I went on "Sports Illustrated" Instagram, and it was men saying, I can't believe you are ruining (ph) this magazine with this fat cow?

It was women saying I work out all the time, and now you put this chick who has never even been to a gym in a magazine? Like what am I in the gym for? But as the hours went on, and you start to read more comments, you see how people started defending me.

This is the thing, women and their weight, it's never an easy conversation. To be a model and then to be what is considered to the fashion industry, a fat model, then it's a whole other ball game you have to deal with.

BALDWIN: So when you air quote like "fat model" and "plus size," --

GRAHAM: -- yes.

BALDWIN: -- why the air quotes?

GRAHAM: I think labels are divisive to women. An example I use all the time is we are not labeling men based of the number inside of their pants, why are we labeling women based on the number inside of their pants? I don't need to be known as a plus-sized woman because of the size of my hips, yeah, they're a size 47, and I'm proud of it, but that is not the only thing that dictates or determines who I am and my worth.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about this photo.

GRAHAM: Yes! Cover of "Sports Illustrated." I still pinch myself. That's really, truly, what changed my career, but that changed a lot of people's -- a lot of women's attitudes towards their beauty. I think women can look at themselves in the like, there's a cover of the girl on "Sports Illustrated" with cellulite, oh, that's cool, I got it too, whatever.

BALDWIN: It's no doubt that Ashley's career has taken off, but as an American woman, she has just begun to fight. What's your biggest fear right now?

GRAHAM: Will there still be so much racism in America in the next ten years. I'm married to a man who is black. My children will be black. Are they going to be continued to be looked as at just a black person? My hope is no.

BALDWIN: Where are you most hopeful in America?

GRAHAM: I've never seen more women band together. Never seen women of all classes, races, and ages say, I got you, I am going to bring you up today.


BALDWIN: I love you, Ashley Graham. Go to, binge watch all the interviews. That was just a clip of the big sit- down. I just have another ask before I go today. Go to Instagram. My Instagram @BrookeBCNN. I want to hear from you. Upload your video, say your name, I'm an American woman because -- I am reposting so many of you and find inspiration from you, so, thank you, tell me what defines you as an American woman. Don't forget the hashtag, American woman.

I am Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. We are going to send things to Jake, "THE LEAD" now with Jake Tapper that starts right now.