Return to Transcripts main page


Trump at Davos; Casino Billionaire Accused of Sexual Misconduct; Paris on Flood Alert; Toronto Police: Billionaire Couple Murdered; 2018 Grammys. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2018 - 02:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is open for business and we are competitive once again.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Donald Trump makes his pitch to the global business community. The U.S. president says now is the time to invest in the U.S.

Plus a casino mogul faces allegations of sexual misconduct. Las Vegas titan Steve Wynn denies any wrongdoing.

And Paris city center has become one giant river. Look at this. How much higher will the Seine go?

Our weather team's working on that.

Great to have you with us. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from CNN HQ right here in Atlanta.


VANIER: The U.S. President Donald Trump is back at the White House after two days selling the U.S. to business leaders in Davos. One question going into the World Economic Forum was, which Donald Trump would show up?

Well, now we know. It was the marketer in chief. Our Jim Acosta reports from Davos.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump departed Switzerland strutting his stuff after hobnobbing with the global elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, but he returns to Washington under a cloud with questions swirling over reports that he tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical "New York Times" fake stories. ACOSTA: The president brushed off the story in Davos, as did top members of the president's Cabinet who blew past our cameras faster than the Swiss ski team.

(on camera): And are you concerned that the president tried to fire Robert Mueller?

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I know nothing about that.

ACOSTA: And how do you think the Mueller news is going to affect this trip, sir?

WILBUR ROSS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: Oh, you will see. Nothing is going to change. The president is in very good spirits.

ACOSTA: Are you concerned about how the Mueller news is going to affect this conference here, sir?


ACOSTA (voice-over): The president continued his attacks on the press in Davos, grumbling that he no longer receives the favorable coverage he enjoyed as a celebrity.

TRUMP: As a businessman, I was always treated really well by the press. The numbers speak and things happen. But I always really had very good press. And it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be -- as the cameras start going off in the back.

ACOSTA: Despite that cry of fake news, the president remarked without any evidence that there would have been a stock market crash had Hillary Clinton been elected. TRUMP: Had the opposing party to me won, some of whom you backed,

some of the people in the room, instead of being up almost 50 percent, the stock market is up since my election almost 50 percent, rather than that, I believe the stock market from that level, the initial level, the initial level, would have been down close to 50 percent.

ACOSTA: The president came to Davos to take credit for the booming American economy, calling on companies across the world to move to the U.S.

TRUMP: America is the place to do business. So come to America, where you can innovate, create and build.

ACOSTA: But that welcoming tone came with a vow to start controlling the number of immigrants entering the U.S. based on new criteria.

TRUMP: We must replace our current system of extended family chain migration with a merit-based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their ability to contribute to our economy, to support themselves financially and to strengthen our country.

ACOSTA: The president also warned Democrats to accept a White House deal to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children known as the dreamers from deportation. Mr. Trump tweeted: "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the government shutdown that he's unable to act on immigration."

But there were reminders in Davos that the president's own behavior has also had an impact. Sitting with the president of Rwanda, Mr. Trump was asked about his comments that immigrants from Africa come from shithole countries. And he was pressed on his retweeting of inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a far-right group in Britain.

TRUMP: If you're telling me they're horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologize, if you would like me to do that. I know nothing about that.

ACOSTA: The president's response to the Mueller story underlines why it's so legally dangerous for Mr. Trump to appear before the special counsel's office. It's one thing to refer to reports he doesn't like as fake news to the press. It's quite another to do that under oath -- Jim Acosta, CNN, Davos, Switzerland.


VANIER: CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde joins us now.

So David, you watched the speech.

What did you think?

How did Mr. Trump do?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think he did well for the audience there which is basically business executives. He was more pragmatic than many expected; there was less of the bombast that people see on Twitter.

So he'd sort of impressed, if you will --


ROHDE: -- the global elite.

VANIER: He wasn't adversarial as he is known to be in many of his speeches.

ROHDE: Yes, it was a different tone. I think it shows in a way that his White House is evolving. Steve Bannon, who was so critical of international trade agreements, is no longer there and it seemed like Trump is more moderate to mainstream Wall Street advisors, have gotten more influence now.

He was more sort of -- this is according to a colleague from "The New Yorker," where I work, but he was more the sweet-talking New York real estate developer than a wrecking ball offender of American populism.

VANIER: It seems to me this wasn't a 100 percent obvious crowd to him. Yes, there were billionaires; yes, there are world leaders and deciders and business men, as you say, but Davos is also the global capital of free trade, of globalization, of global governance, all of these things that Mr. Trump has seemed to combat in his first year in office.

ROHDE: Well, I think we have to ask ourselves, what's the real Trump?

And I think Donald Trump is a billionaire. Donald Trump is a wealthy businessman. He is a member of the business elite. He portrayed himself during the campaign as, you know, the savior of common people but Davos is his crowd.

What he has done in business has overwhelmingly aided corporate America and the wealthy and that is his world and that might be, you know, maybe too harsh on the president. But I think this is who the president is. He is an extremely wealthy businessman and he wants to help other very wealthy businessmen and corporations.

VANIER: There's one specific line I want you to tell me about, going into this, I think it was legitimate to wonder how Mr. Trump's America first message would go down at Davos.

But he offered a twist on that message, listen to this.


TRUMP: As President of the United States, I will always put America first just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first.

But America first does not mean America alone.


VANIER: So Mr. Trump says America first does not mean America alone.

What's your take on that?

ROHDE: Again, it's a tone to this business audience and it's completely different to what he promised his supporters during the election. He portrayed the outside world as America's enemy, you know, again talked about the U.S. kind of being raped by China. So he struck a different tone in Davos; he succeeded in winning over these billionaires and businessmen.

Again, what will the reaction be at home, to his base?

It is a drastically different Donald Trump than the one on the campaign trail a year ago.

VANIER: Yes, on the campaign trail, he was portrayed as being against free trade. But if you listen to his speech carefully today, even not that carefully, he sounded like the biggest proponent of free trade.

His main argument was if every country just pursues their own economic self-interest and nobody cheats, then we'll all be better off. ROHDE: Donald Trump today sounded like an establishment American

president. He sounded like many of his predecessors that reassure the audience in Davos, who want a growing economy and want corporate profits.

How does this sound to his base?

I think his base is very well. I don't think it hurts in the short term to say these things abroad. But if he keeps changing his tune, it will -- you know there's a danger if Donald Trump just becomes another politician, another typical American president.

VANIER: All right. Well, that said, he did impose pretty steep tariffs on solar panels and washing machines just a few days before that speech. So his protectionist credentials are still intact, I think, for the moment, at least in terms of his record.

David Rohde, thank you so much for joining us here on the show.

ROHDE: Thank you.

VANIER: And Tuesday in the U.S., Donald Trump will address Congress and the American people. It will be his first State of the Union address. You will be able to see that, of course, right here on CNN. Coverage will begin at 8:00 pm Tuesday New York time. That is 9:00 am Wednesday morning if you're in Hong Kong. So stay with us for that.

Now Steve Wynn is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the Las Vegas casino business. He's also the finance chair for the Republican National Committee and a prominent political donor. Well, now, he finds himself denying accusations of sexual misconduct after "The Wall Street Journal" detailed allegations from dozens of women who worked at his casinos.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Preposterous," says Steve Wynn, the Vegas hotel and casino billionaire, to charges that he ever assaulted any woman.

The blistering statement from Wynn himself after a bombshell "Wall Street Journal" report that a manicurist in 2005 was forced to lie on a massage table naked while she claims Wynn raped her.

The "Journal" also reporting Wynn --


MARQUEZ (voice-over): -- paid the manicurist $7.5 million in a settlement. Wynn in his statement said, "The instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement." Elaine Wynn's attorney told "The Journal" that's just not true. Wynn, the latest high profile, wealthy and politically connected man accused of sexual misconduct. "The Wall Street Journal" says it spoke to more than 150 employees and dozens reported a pattern of sexual abuse by Wynn.

Wynn in his statement said, "We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations regardless of the truth and a person is left with a choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation."

The allegations now reverberating in politics where despite a history of supporting both parties --

STEVE WYNN, CASINO MOGUL: I'm friendly with Don and Hillary and I'm a friend with Donald Trump's. I haven't given a dime to either one of them and haven't decided on who I'm going to vote for.

MARQUEZ: Wynn is now closely tied to President Trump as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Democrats are demanding the RNC return any campaign contributions from Wynn much the way Republicans did with Harvey Weinstein.

Allegations against Wynn are now being used to put pressure on the Republican Party. The Democratic National Committee saying today, "The RNC have helped fund the campaign of an alleged child molester, blindly supported the GOP's attacks on women's health and supported a president who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women.

And now they remain silent amid sexual assault allegations involving Steve Wynn, one of their party's most senior officials."

So last weekend the president had to stay in Washington, D.C., because of the shutdown. He was supposed to be at Mar-a-lago at an RNC Trump victory campaign fundraiser.

One of the co-hosts of that fundraiser, you guessed it, Steve Wynn. Now the president sent a video and said, singling out Steve Wynn. CNN obtained audio of that video.


TRUMP: Steve Wynn, I want to thank you. I want to thank the whole group of money raised. You are special people. Thank you very much, we'll see you the next time.


MARQUEZ: Now in fairness, the president did mention several other people in that video but Steve Wynn was certainly among them. And coincidentally, Steve Wynn turned 76 today. Back to you.


VANIER: It seems that all past conduct is now being scrutinized in light of the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment accusations against powerful figures.

Under that same heading, CNN has confirmed that when Hillary Clinton first ran for president in 2008, one of her senior advisors was allowed to keep his job, despite being accused of sexual harassment by a female subordinate.

Burns Strider, who acted as Clinton's faith advisor, was accused of inappropriate touching, kissing and sending suggestive emails to a woman that he shared an office with.

Clinton's campaign manager wanted him fired but Clinton, Hillary Clinton herself, overruled her. Instead, Strider underwent counseling and had his pay docked. He hasn't responded to CNN's request for a statement.

But the law firm that represented the campaign said, "To ensure a safe working environment the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct or harassment. When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies and appropriate action was taken. This complaint was no exception."

Sources tell CNN that Strider was later fired over similar allegations during Clinton's second run for the White House. At that time he worked for one of the political action committees that supported her candidacy.

So a short time ago, Hillary Clinton sent out this tweet, "A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed."

Students at Michigan State University are rallying in support of women abused by the school's former sports doctor, Larry Nassar. On Friday night hundreds marched toward the school's administration building and they demanded the Board of Trustees resign.

They say that the board is complicit in Nassar's decades of crime by hearing complaints about Nassar but doing nothing about them. And at the Michigan State men's basketball game Friday night, that was also clearly on the fans' minds.

The student section wearing teal; that represents sexual assault awareness.


VANIER: In Paris, the River Seine burst its banks after days of nonstop rain. How high might it get? The latest forces straight ahead.

Plus we'll tell you about the new details surrounding this billionaire couple, found dead in their home last month. Stay with us.




VANIER: Welcome back.

Canadian police are now saying what many people have been suspecting for weeks, that the billionaire couple, Barry and Honey Sherman, were victims of a plan to murder. They were philanthropists and Barry Sherman ran a successful generic drug business in Toronto.

So far there's been no word on possible suspects. Our Paula Newton reports.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After six weeks of exhaustive investigation, Toronto police left the home of Barry and Honey Sherman admitting they still have no suspects, no motive, but one chilling conclusion. The billionaire couple was murdered.

DETECTIVE SGT. SUSAN GOMES, TORONTO POLICE SERVICE: We have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation, and that both Honey and Barry Sherman were, in fact, targeted.

NEWTON: Targeted for murder by one or more people determined to see them die in their own home in a gruesome fashion.

GOMES: Honey and Barry Sherman were found deceased in the lower level pool area hanging by belts from a poolside railing in a semi-seated position.

NEWTON: There were no signs of forced entry and police say they're still talking to neighbors, witnesses, family members, business associates, anyone who knew anything about the Sherman's lives or even their last hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are in shock and crying.

NEWTON: This murder mystery has shaken many, not just in this affluent Toronto neighborhood but throughout Canada. Barry and Honey Sherman were high-profile billionaires. Barry the pioneering generic drug tycoon always eager to take on big pharma and his wife, Honey, patron of several charities.

Together they gave away tens of millions to several causes. All the more incredible that they were targeted and left to die in such a horrific way. The Sherman's children have launched an independent investigation of their own and in a statement to media said their preliminary findings are consistent with that of police.

The Shermans had close ties to prime ministers both past and present. Their murder had shaken the political establishment with many wondering who could have wanted to see them dead and why -- Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


VANIER: Let's go to Paris now. The French capital continues to be on flood alert after days of heavy rain. The Seine just burst its banks earlier this week when water levels reached just over 5 meters. The flooding has impacted roads; it's impacted the French Metro; boat traffic on the river and even The Louvre museum, which has had to take precautions.



VANIER: Coming up, a preview of Sunday's Grammy Awards. That's the night musicians are honored for their art but expect some activism, the subject of how women are treated likely to come up in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Stay with us. We'll be back with you for more after the break.




VANIER: So we're learning that U.S. President Donald Trump will --


VANIER: -- have a new way to keep his Diet Cokes cold. Air Force One is getting a refrigerator upgrade and it is not cheap: $24 million. Boeing was awarded that contract and for that money they will replace two cold chiller units -- it's just a fancy name for a fridge -- the units that came with the plane back in 1990.

In the past you might remember Mr. Trump had criticized the cost of running the Air Force One program. During his campaign he had even boasted that he would swap out the plane with his private jet.

The Grammys 60th edition are just around the corner. The U.S. music industry about to put on a big show, that's on Sunday. Chloe Melas tells us what to expect from the music to the activism.



CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York: the city Jay Z famously paid homage to, now hosting the Grammys for the first time in 15 years. So it's fitting the rapper also happens to lead the pack in Grammy nominations.

He's up for eight, including Album of the Year.

Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars come in second and third as the most nominated artist. Both are slated to perform at the show, which will be hosted again by "Late Night's" James Corden.

But music's biggest night comes at a complicated moment for the entertainment industry, a sexual harassment reckoning that spun the #MeToo movement has dominated awards shows. Expect to see White Roses on the Grammy red carpet and a message of female empowerment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are very strong, self-aware female musician who are going to be taken the Grammy stage. You've got Kesha, you've got Lady Gaga, you've got Pink, Lorde, Miley Cyrus. I think we are going to see some really strong, wonderful moments.

MELAS: Musicians tend to be a more unbuttoned, unpredictable crowd. But here, at Madison Square Garden, there's the sense that anything can happen on Grammy night. And that probably includes some jabs at President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Historically, the Grammys have not been as politically charged as other awards shows. But given that we are just a little over a year past the election and the mood in this country is very fired up and still very divided, I would be very surprised if no artist spoke about politics at all at the Grammys this year.

MELAS (voice-over): The topic of race may also come up, especially in light of President Trump's controversial comments about African countries. Either way, the Grammys are already sending a strong message of diversity.

This year, the seven most nominated artists are all people of color. And "Despacito," the Latin crossover sensation, could make history. It could become the first Spanish language song ever to win Song of the Year -- Chloe Melas, CNN, New York.


VANIER: That's it from us. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back in headlines in just a moment. Stay with us right here on CNN.