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FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Steps Down; Ex Clinton Campaign Chief Addresses Harassment Scandal; Hillary Clinton Reads from "Fire and Fury" at Grammys; Trump Targets Jay-Z on African- American Employment Rate. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That the FBI and the Justice Department behave independently. And he is frustrated by that. But that hasn't stopped him from letting the attorney general and letting Chris Wray and Sessions letting Wray know how he feels about McCabe. So, you know, it does kind of muddy the waters here. The White House says, you know, we knew nothing about this. No fingerprints on this. We were not involved. But you would be remiss if you didn't ask the question, the fact that the White House let this be known so publicly and over such a long period of time have any impact on this.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right. That's the question.

Quick final thought, Solomon?

SOLOMON WISENBERG, FORMER DEPUTY INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I think it's the most likely explanation. There could have been pressure. That would be unfortunate. The most likely explanation is that he was at a point where he could take his accumulated leave and it would run through March and he decided to take pressure off Chris Wray and resign right now.

BALDWIN: Might be. Might be.

Solomon, Chris, Gloria, thank you very much.

WISENBERG: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Still ahead here, we're going to talk about Hillary Clinton and how her former campaign manager - this goes back to the campaign in 2008 -- says she suggested firing an adviser accused of sexually harassing a female staffer. But it was Hillary Clinton herself who over ruled her. The campaign manager is speaking out to CNN. We'll hear from here next.


[14:35:51] BALDWIN: Hillary Clinton under fire for refusing to fire a campaign aide accused of sexually harassing a young subordinate. The female staffer alleges Burns Strider, who was an adviser for Hillary Clinton, touched the woman, kissed her forehead, and sent suggestive e-mails while they were working on Clinton's 2008 campaign. Now Clinton's campaign manager is coming forward, Patti Solis Doyle,

who urged Hillary Clinton herself to fire Strider. She's now speaking out.


PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A young woman complained about Burns Strider --


SOLIS DOYLE: Yes, Jess O'Connell, who is now the CEO of the DNC -- against Burns Strider, who she reported to. The incident was brought to my attention. I did my due diligence, interviewed the parties involved, looked at the evidence, looked at e-mails he sent, other documents. I came to the conclusion that there was sexual harassment involved, that the young woman was very credible. My recommendation to the Senator was to fire him. I was over ruled.

KEILAR: You weren't the only one who believed this was the right avenue to take.

SOLIS DOYLE: Correct -- well, you know, there were a few people involved in the investigation, so to speak. People involved in it believed he should not be working in our campaign.

KEILAR: So she over ruled you personally?

SOLIS DOYLE: I was overruled, yes.

KEILAR: Ultimately, Strider didn't even go to the counseling that was a part of his -- docked pay, pay commensurate with a demotion, has to go to counseling and he didn't go to counseling. You were gone at that point. Who made the decision on instead of him going that these things would happen -- that he was going to face these consequences of counseling and docked pay?

SOLIS DOYLE: You know, I said I wanted our campaign to be better. I believe we were. There was an Axios item today where, you know, campaign staffers now are being interviewed and they laugh at the idea that there was an H.R., there is an H.R. process.


SOLIS DOYLE: In our campaign, I went to the lawyers.

KEILAR: But this was lawyers looking at --


SOLIS DOYLE: Lawyers and operations people and me, senior management. We came up with a process. We did everything, I believe, but fire him.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about how Hillary Clinton has responded to this. She says, "A story appeared today" -- this was a few days ago - "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."

She doesn't admit that she messed up.


KEILAR: She doesn't admit that especially in light of the fact that at the time you were recommending he go. It's not like no one was saying he shouldn't go. We are now in an era where people say, duh, he should have gone.


KEILAR: Why doesn't she just look back and say, this was the wrong call?

SOLIS DOYLE: I don't know. I was disappointed by the tweet, the response. It was the wrong call. I wish she had said it was the wrong call. I wish she said, you know, having to do it over I would have fired him.


BALDWIN: Our CNN senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar, joins us, and with us CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Brianna, great interview.

My takeaway is Hillary Clinton made this mistake in not firing Strider during the 2008 campaign days and by not firing him, according to Patti Solis Doyle, that allowed him to harass other women years later.

[14:39:57] KEILAR: That's right. Shielding him allowed him to go on and then head up what was essentially the shadow campaign for Hillary Clinton before she declared her candidacy. He was heading up Correct the Record, a super PAC messaging operation. As a reporter for Hillary Clinton, if I needed information I would go to Correct the Record. I had a professional reporter source relationship as so many people did with Burns Strider. This is where you went. If you wanted to be a young staffer on the campaign this was perhaps the precursor. You might go to Correct the Record to try to get a job. He didn't get the job without at least there being a tacit blessing from Hillary Clinton. He was shielded. Then he was allowed into this other role where the behavior continued. I think it was the series of mistakes here. Keeping him on during the campaign. Allowing him then to go to Correct the Record. The final topper was a response from her where she's not admitting that there was a problem. At least with hindsight here, it's so clear mistakes were made.


KEILAR: Even this is an opportunity to use as a teachable moment. You don't see Hillary Clinton doing that. It's something even supporters of hers are wondering, you know, why.

BALDWIN: Jumping in on that, Dana --


BALDWIN: -- but also going back to the interview here where she says at the time when the allegations came forward during the 2008 campaign it sounded like Patti Solis Doyle was saying, you know, we were just a couple of months ahead of the caucuses in the primary. It would have been a distraction, dot, dot, dot.

BASH: Right. She, as the campaign manager, whose job it was to shield the campaign from distractions, also felt his behavior was egregious enough that it was a fireable offense.

I really have to say we know Patti as a CNN contributor.


BASH: It took a lot of guts to come out and say the things she said, particularly at the end of the interview clip you played about her saying that she was even disappointed, real-time, in the fact that Hillary Clinton hasn't said, you know what, it was the wrong call. When I say guts, it's because it's not easy to publicly go up against somebody who you work so closely with.


BALDWIN: She admires her. She admires her.

BASH: Obviously, Patti feels vindicated. She also tried to give -- it was clear in giving her the broader context of the Hillary Clinton she knew as somebody who let her bring her 3-month-old baby into work and was aggressive about promoting women. At the end of the day, she didn't protect women he allegedly harassed.

BALDWIN: Let's go to the Grammys. There was a moment, speaking of Hillary Clinton, a funny ha-ha moment, depending which side of the aisle you are on, from Hillary Clinton reading a snippet from the Michael Wolff "Fire and Fury" book, which is riddled with inaccuracies and funnies depending on your side of the aisle. She has been slammed by conservatives for trolling the president. Here she was.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He had a long-time fear of being poisoned. One reason he liked to eat at McDonald's. Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's it. We've got it. That's the one.

CLINTON: You think so? The Grammy is in the bag?



BALDWIN: Brianna, you've covered her. What do you make of her saying yes to the sketch?

KEILAR: There is a lot of bad blood between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Supporters of hers will say, what's the big deal? She's trolling him. But he trolls her all the time. He's obsessed with her and talks about her. At the same time, yes. She's going for a reaction. He obviously watches these things, keeps an eye on her. It's a sensitive spot for him. She is trolling it.

BALDWIN: Nikki Haley jumped in and said Hillary Clinton ruined the Grammys, called the book trash, and that music and politics should be separate. We did a segment on this in the last week where this book infers that Nikki Haley slept her way to the top with the president, which is just asinine to get to where she is.

Still, does she have a point, Dana?

BASH: She does. Her point should be taken more broadly. Big picture -- I'm a huge fan of the Grammys. The Grammys did a masterful job of bringing up political topics in a not-subtle way but more policy oriented and artful way, whether it was Bono at the Statue of Liberty or Camilla Cabelo talking about DREAMers. This was so in your face political. I think they did well up to that point. It is not just political. The fact that Ambassador Nikki Haley was making is that it's questionable how much of this stuff is true. And the fact that the author went on a TV show and said, what I wanted to put in there was X, meaning the suggestion that the president and his U.N. ambassador are having an affair, and didn't do it. It puts the whole content and context of the book into question. Maybe they taped it a long time ago. It might have been a better idea to scrap it.

[14:45:35] KEILAR: The second part, I think, of the tweet -- she's making two points. She has issues with the book and she made it clear, Nikki Haley did.


KEILAR: The second part is separating politics from music. That's a ridiculous request when you think about it.


KEILAR: Think of the role --


BASH: Paging Bob Dylan.

KEILAR: Hello, right? Or Beyonce.

BALDWIN: So many.

KEILAR: Toby Keith after 9/11.


KEILAR: Music and politics, in many ways, go hand in hand, using it as an expression platform.

BALDWIN: Ladies, thank you very much. Good to see you.

KEILAR: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, President Trump taking aim at Jay-Z after the rap mogul criticized his "S-hole countries" comment, and Trump bragging about the black unemployment rate in response. Stay here.


JAY-Z, RAPPER: It's not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn't equate to, like, happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point."



[14:50:35] BALDWIN: President Trump is challenging one of the world's biggest hip-hop stars after rapper and businessman, Jay-Z, sat down with CNN's Van Jones over the weekend, tweeting, "Somebody please inform Jay-Z, because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate ever recorded," he says in all caps. Jay-Z criticized the president on his appearance on the premiere of "THE VAN JONES SHOW." The president's boasting of black unemployment rates was precisely what was being discussed. Here they were.


JAY-Z: It's not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn't equate to, like, happiness, it doesn't. That's not -- missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings. And then, you know, that's the main point. You can't treat someone like -- it goes back to the whole thing, treat me really bad and pay me well. It's not going to lead to happiness, it's going to lead to like, again, the same thing. Everyone is going to be sick.


BALDWIN: With me is CNN political commentator, Errol Louis.

What did you make of Jay-Z's response?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Your point is exactly right. He specifically had just talked about, Van Jones had as he set up the question, saying the stock market is booming. If you've got a 401K you're doing fine. Yet there is all of this antipathy in the black community to Donald Trump. What is that all about? Jay-Z was making a point I think most people can understand. If you want to argue by analogy, you can't have a spouse and verbally and even physically abuse that spouse and then turn around and say, hey, I bought you a pretty nice House, what are you complaining about? People wanting to be treated with respect. People don't want to have their countries referred to with obscenities. And the reflexive, take whatever I give you, what the hell do you have to lose, it goes before the campaign trail when Donald Trump is asked about black America. His reflex is to find some way to be dismissive, to show some kind of disgust or disregard and say take whatever I give you.


LOUIS: The whole point under discussion there was that's really no way to lead the country.

BALDWIN: And even going back to just for the sake of facts, 2010 was when that rate began to improve. Unemployment for African-Americans. When you read your history books, you have private citizen Trump really criticizing Obama for those lower numbers. At one point, when there was good news, he would say those are fake poll numbers. At the time. You remember?

LOUIS: Listen, the president is doing something that many presidents before him have done. Eisenhower did it, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson. You try to pump up the economy as you go into a re-election. He's doing that. He's throwing rocket fuel on this economy. The numbers are going to look great. A lot of people are going to get jobs. He's doing part of his job. That's fine. People -- that does not give him a pass on whether or not he uses disgusting racist obscenities to refer to entire countries and entire communities. That's not going to work for him if he wants it to work. Now, if he wants to be divisive and if he wants to be a racial demagogue, fine, he continues doing what he's done ever since the Birtherism controversy that he leaped into.

BALDWIN: This is my last question for you, the fact that you have Jay-Z sitting in a studio with Van Jones talking about Trump. Trump, ping, tweets about it in a critical way, in a way of boosting his own black unemployment numbers. You look at someone like Eminem, white rapper, really took the president down in that video from the BET Awards, and crickets. What's up with that?

LOUIS: It doesn't work. It doesn't work for the president politically. There are a lot of people who criticized Obama. Trump was the one who went to Birtherism. There are a lot of people who have problems with Donald Trump. He's not going to respond to all of them. He's going to pick a Colin Kaepernick. He's going to pick a Jay-Z. He's going to pick a Van Jones. He's going to go to where he thinks he can score some political points, turn around to his base and see, I'm with you, let's fire those other people. Let's insult their countries, let's insult their hopes and dreams. Let's disregard them and treat them with disgust. He seems to think that's going to work for him. It's really unfortunate.

He's not the first politician to play that kind of racialized politics. Unfortunately, he may not be the last. Will it work for him? In the long run, who knows.


LOUIS: It's an important question for everybody else. When you see the president doing things like that, are you also willing to say, hey, my 401K is doing pretty well, the hell with it, or are you willing to take a higher road, which is hopefully what all of us will do.

[14:55:11] BALDWIN: Yes, we will do.

Errol Louis, thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Speaking of Jay-Z, he was nominated for eight Grammys last night. Came home empty-handed after losing out to Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar in several categories. The rapper was honored with the Grammy Industry Icon Award Saturday night and he can add that to the shelf holding the 21 other Grammys he's won over the years.

Coming up here, more on the breaking news today, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe stepping down immediately. What we're learning about this surprise departure, next.