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Trump Allies Focus Ire on Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein; Fitness Tracking App Could Endanger Military Members; Deadly Week in Afghanistan; Details of Paul Manafort's Rise to Trump Campaign Chair; Kesha Delivers Emotion-Packed Performance at the Grammys. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Please, go ahead.


BERMAN: And make the point yourself here.


BERMAN: Whether or not you're arguing about Hillary Clinton.


BERMAN: You see something that will have an impact going forward.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think -- I think it was probably an overreach to include Hillary Clinton. But that can obscure the real point here, which was that every figure, celebrity, artist from the stage who referred to Donald Trump in any way, however obliquely, portrayed him as racist and xenophobic. And you can say, well, they're celebrities, who cares, you can say in Trump country they don't want to hear from these voices, but the fact is, these are artists who both speak to and reflect in the diversity that they embodied on stage, the millennial generation and the post-millennial generation who are rising in the electorate.

The millennials will be the biggest share of eligible voters for the first time in 2018. And you're looking at polling there, Donald Trump -- I see polling where 75 percent of millennials say he does not reflect their values.

There's a poll out today, John, where -- his approval rating among millennials is at 19 percent. There is a real risk to Republicans in the way that Donald Trump is stamping the party in the eyes of these diverse younger generations as one that is racially intolerant and to kind of dismiss it as just a bunch of celebrities mouthing off from what you saw last night, I think it is a bury your head in the sand about something that is very real.

BERMAN: All right. Given all of this, Joe Trippi, in your -- go ahead.

JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was just going to say, I take that even a little bit further. Younger Republicans, Republicans under 45, are moving away from this part of the party. I mean, that's what happened in Alabama. That was a group that Doug Jones, when he won, won a considerable number of votes under 45 within the Republican Party. Not just Democrats and independents. And I think that what Ron is pointing to is creating problems across the board in that generation.

BERMAN: Doug, talk to me about the fight that seems to be picked now by the White House and the House Intelligence Committee over this memo. The Devin Nunes memo, the House Intelligence Committee could vote as soon as this afternoon to make this memo public and the revelation is that among other things it goes after Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, for extending -- for recommending the extension of a FISA warrant on Carter Page.

I'm not sure I understand for Republicans why they like this fight.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me quote John Berman and say, I don't understand why Republicans like this fight. I think it's a very dangerous place for Republicans to go into regardless of what's in the memo itself. A, demanding that something that is classified be released presents a problem. B, we've seen more and more Republicans go out there and attack law enforcement.

If you go back two years ago, six, 10 years ago, law enforcement and the military were two bedrocks that were -- places that Republicans always stood beside and stood behind. And what we're seeing with these investigations is more and more Republicans are calling into question the investigation, the FBI in general, I think that could potentially take us to a very dangerous place.

And to Joe's point, I'm at the very precipice of that at the very limit, of what he might consider a young Republican at this point. Don't ask me three months what my age is, but I have --

BERMAN: We're going to fact check this. You can't -- you can't come on and spread falsehoods like this, Doug Heye. Go ahead.


HEYE: But I have these same problems with where the party is going on absolutely attacking law enforcement on minorities, on immigration. There are a lot of Republicans who want to step up and do the right thing, which is why Donald Trump's comments tomorrow night are going to be very interesting and why Republicans are really going to be at the edge of their seat until they get that written transcript and we see exactly where the president is going. Not just on immigration, but on these issues as a whole and where he goes off script.

BERMAN: Look, on Rod Rosenstein, and on Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Ron Brownstein, last hour I had a Republican congressman from Louisiana on who really won't answer the question about whether he would object if the president fired Robert Mueller. And really won't answer the question about whether he had faith in Rod Rosenstein.

And I can't help but think that this timing isn't coincidental. This is all going on around this time frame when the president might be sitting down with the special counsel or not, I suppose.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And you see -- look, and you see the evolution of the Republicans in Congress who as Doug said I think started off the Trump presidency with much more wariness, much more independence, much more determination to defend the institutions at the core of the American law enforcement system. And they have made their decision, even as the waves around the Trump administration have grown, you know, wilder and higher, they have latched themselves more tightly to his mass -- to the mass of the ship.

And the base -- they have set in motion -- you know, the basic dynamic I think of 2018 and the 2018 election will be, do voters who are ambivalent at best about a president who struggles to rise above 40 percent in approval feel that a Republican controlled Congress is providing sufficient check and oversight on him.

[10:35:06] And they have chosen to go completely -- especially in the House -- in the other direction. And to kind of this reflexive defense of the president and maybe fine in a lot of ruby red districts, but in the swing districts, the desire for some kind of check among voters who as I say are at best ambivalent if not openly concerned about him is going to be a huge head wind for many of these -- many of these Republicans in these toughest districts.

BERMAN: All right, Ron Brownstein, Joe Trippi, the very youthful Doug Heye, thank you so much for being with us.

HEYE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. You may not think twice if you track your workouts and load them on social media, but if you're running on a military base, now this is something you really do need to think about.

Next, why the Pentagon says an app may be posing a serious security threat.


BERMAN: So there's nothing wrong with a good workout or tracking that workout on a fitness device like, for instance, Strava.

[10:40:03] That is unless said workout happened on a military base and that app is posting the map of the workout for all to see.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with that.

And Barbara, this is a serious issue.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is. Nobody is very happy about that -- all of this at the Pentagon this morning, I have to tell you. So you're right, what happens is if you use one of these applications, basically it uploads your fitness data if you went on a jog through downtown Mogadishu, Somalia, areas where there is not a lot of this fitness activity perhaps from your Fitbit or your other device, suddenly this map is -- is showing where this kind of activity pops up.

If it is a remote area of Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, who else would it really be other than perhaps U.S. troops out for a, you know, morning run? And that's the problem. It shows the security profile of where U.S. troops may be located.

Big problem, they're supposed to be trained to turn on the privacy settings on these kinds of devices and not show their locations. But apparently that's not happening. The Pentagon issuing a statement about all of this a short time ago saying, quote, "DOD takes matters like this very seriously and is reviewing the situations to determine if any additional training or guidance is required, use your privacy settings. And if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the continued safety of DOD personnel at home and abroad."

The company issuing a statement overnight saying that this should be excluding activities and locations which are privacy secured. So a lot of concern about it. It is a problem. But DOD personnel, government personnel with security concerns are supposed to obey their training to turn on their privacy settings -- John.

BERMAN: I will suggest, it is not always easy to understand the settings in these devices or so I'm told.

And Barbara, I should also note that this story first came out of the "Washington Post." It was a fascinating story over the weekend.

Barbara, an incredibly violent few days in Afghanistan, including a new attack targeted today.

STARR: What a disaster for the people of Afghanistan and especially the people in the capital of Kabul. Another attack today against an Afghan military base, 11 killed there. This comes just days after the massive attack, an ambulance exploding outside a hospital, more than 100 killed. A few days ago and attack against a hotel, several killed there. An attack in another area of Afghanistan against a children's charity.

Very, very tragic for the people there and very tough timing for President Trump, especially before State of the Union. He's been touting, of course, that the U.S. is winning in Afghanistan for the people being killed there perhaps their families have quite a different view after 16 years still a very tough story, a very tough business there. The capital clearly not secured, the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan taking credit for these various attacks that are just plaguing that country -- John.

BERMAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, great to have you. Thanks so much.

STARR: Sure.

BERMAN: A stunning new report about a key figure at the center of the Russia probe. This is a remarkable piece of journalism here, charting the rise of campaign chair -- one-time campaign chair Paul Manafort and his attitude and emotional state just before he linked with the Trump campaign. Stick around.


[10:47:52] BERMAN: In two weeks, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is set to appear in court. He faces federal charges related to money laundering and falsifying records. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges which are part of the special counsel's investigation.

All of this as the new report, a remarkable new report out in the Atlantic shows Paul Manafort's rise and fall.

Joining us now is the reporter behind all of this, Franklin Foer.

First of all, phenomenal work, and I should tell our audience here, this story charts decades in the life of Paul Manafort and American politics and I recommend you go read it all. I'm going to try to focus on the events, you know, sort of dealing specifically with the Trump campaign.

You note that the year before this campaign, Paul Manafort was at a sort of rehab clinic, 2015, the clinic permitted Paul Manafort one 10- minute call each day and each day he would use it to ring his wife from Arizona, his voice soaked in tears, you say he was suicidal at one point. This is 2015. By 2016, he's the campaign chair for the Republican nominee. How did that happen?

FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So on the eve of joining the Trump campaign, Manafort went and he called some of his oldest friends in Washington, and he reported to them that he was joining the Trump campaign. And they said to him, are you sure? And some of them said, are you crazy? Because they knew that he had this decades-long history that wouldn't look so good when exposed to the scrutiny of being at the center of a major presidential campaign.

But as you note, in the year leading up to the Trump campaign, his life had crumbled, professionally his life crumbled. He spent the previous 10 years working in Ukraine for the president of Ukraine. They had a very, very personal relationship and it had been extremely lucrative for Paul Manafort. He made tens of millions of dollars working in Ukraine.

But suddenly in 2014, there was a revolution, and that client dried up. He was deposed from power, had to go into exile in Russia. So Manafort didn't have a client and he -- which meant that he didn't have the sense of self-esteem that went with his work, the status, the power, these things that he craved.

[10:50:03] Financially his life started to crumble. Because his money was parked in Cyprus and other tax havens, he wasn't able to move it back into the United States lest he be accused of money laundering and the FBI had begun to investigate his finances. So he didn't have the money that he was accustomed to having.

And his daughter in text messages complained that for her wedding weekend Manafort had cut out the line-item for ice because cash flow had been tight. And then personally his life was starting to crumble because he had an affair and his family had caught him twice in the affair and they had insisted that he went to this rehab clinic that you mentioned. So there was a set of -- a sense of desperation that led him to reach out to the Trump campaign and actively try to get a job with them.

BERMAN: Any sense that the Trump campaign knew this as they were bringing this person on to run things?

FOER: No. I mean, the Trump campaign as you know doesn't necessarily apply the greatest scrutiny or vetting to people that it invites into the campaign. And for Trump, Manafort fit the bill. The campaign in -- in the early months of 2016 had rocketed to the front of the field, yet they needed establishment credibility and they also had improvised everything. And Manafort was the guy who'd worked for Dole, he worked for Reagan, so he brought this technical expertise that they were craving at that moment.

BERMAN: So let me -- let me just ask you because you have a tantalizing line, I just want to read you. Manafort's role in Mueller's broader narrative remains carefully guarded and unknown to the public.

Look, we know that he's been indicted for money laundering and falsifying records. This all happened before he was the Trump campaign chair. The question is, does he play a role in the larger investigation into possible collusion, if you want to put that word in quotation marks, or obstruction if you want to see that. Any of your reporting, any sense that he may overlap these two areas?

FOER: Well, clearly, I mean, the stuff that we know in public view suggests that there is some overlap. He was at that famous Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. organized then we know that there was this moment where as chair of the campaign, the Republicans changed the platform position on arming Ukrainians in a way that suited the Russians and his old clients in Ukraine, but we really don't know how everything fits together and what we do know is that Robert Mueller has a careful strategy where he's got all these different pieces, all these different characters, and he's trying to leverage one indictment to secure the next indictment.

And so the indictment that he issued last October was very narrow.

BERMAN: Right.

FOER: It was -- as you say, it was focused on money laundering, it was focused on activity that transpired way before the Trump campaign. So the question is, was Mueller targeting him on that -- on those questions where he was extremely vulnerable in order to bargain up?

BERMAN: Right. Franklin Foer, great report, thanks so much for being with us.

FOER: Thank you so much. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Go read it, everybody. All right. We'll be right back.


[10:57:48] BERMAN: So the Hillary Clinton cameo made the headlines at the Grammys, but the #MeToo movement front and center as well. One of the most powerful moments, an emotion packed performance by Kesha.

Joining me now, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

You know, Chloe, it's interesting, you know, in a lot of ways women weren't getting all the nominations per se, but the issue really central.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, exactly. Look, when Kesha took the stage last night, myself, a lot of people got chills. And that's because she's been at forefront of the #MeToo movement in the music industry, long before this took Hollywood by storm over the past few months because she's been in a battle back and forth with her producer Dr. Luke. And she hasn't been able really to make new music. She was under this contract and there were allegations that, you know, that he did things to her and she -- she took the stage with all these women wearing white, it was really incredible.

And then also Camila Cabello, who was on stage with her as well. She actually took on President Trump's issues with immigration and it was really incredible to see what she had to say.

BERMAN: We have a clip of that?

MELAS: I'm pretty sure we do. Yes.


CAMILA CABELLO, AMERICAN-CUBAN SINGER/SONGWRITER: Tonight in this room full of music's Dreamers, we remember that this country was built by Dreamers, for Dreamers, chasing the American dream.

LOGIC, RAPPER: To all the beautiful countries filled with culture, diversity and thousands of years of history, you are --


MELAS: You know, it was incredible to see so many -- it was just really incredible to see so many people take on not just political but social and MeToo issues last night. It was an incredible night with statements.

BERMAN: I think it also shows the endurance of this moment. You're going to see it at the awards shows, you'll see it at the Oscars.

MELAS: Yes, the Oscars.


MELAS: Yes, definitely.

BERMAN: All right. Chloe Melas, great to have you here with us.

MELAS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you so much. Sorry it was so brief.

We are out of time today. A lot of news going on. We have our eyes on the House of Representatives to see what it chooses to do with this memo alleging abuses inside the Russia investigation.

That is all for me today. I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna --