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Immigration Plan Pitch During State of Union; RNC Money Raised by Wynn; Clinton Kept Adviser Despite Harassment Complaints; ISIS Claims Afghan Military Base Attack; Eagles Arrive in Minneapolis; Rousey Back at WWE; Politics At Grammy Awards; Trump Prepares for State of Union Speech. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Tomorrow night is this will be unifying. What will we get?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I tend to think we're going to get a little bit more of what we saw from President Trump in Davos, you know, which is an opportunity for him to use the platform to go big, to talk about his accomplishments, and the country's accomplishments. You know, this whole theme of American being back and the prowess of the economy and the stock market and winning. I mean this is what Trump wants to be his signature for leadership, for re- election, for everything.

And I think he's got an opportunity to say, look, we've had some divisive fights over some of these issues, but we've got some real opportunities, whether it's on infrastructure, and even immigration. I think for all of the controversy, for -- even for the government shutdown, there are Republicans who are negotiating this who are still optimistic about the prospect of getting a big immigration bill passed. So I think that's the -- that's the most generous view of it, that he'll seize it for those purposes.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No question about it. I mean, first of all, let's not forget that teleprompter Trump is a different creature entirely. And this is also the one year mark, roughly, of the night he was proclaimed as finally becoming president with that well- scripted first non-State of the Union congressional address.

That said, I think the administration putting forward the outline of an immigration plan late last week speaks to a seriousness of purpose. And I think Democrats should not simply deride this proposal because it comes from Donald Trump. It is in its outline serious. It is constructive. It is a concession. Taking some heat from conservatives on it. And if he proceeds in that fashion, reaching up on his base -- beyond his base, pulling out some serious policy proposals, particularly, as David said, on immigration and infrastructure, that would be a very strong move for the president heading into a second year.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And just to be fair, nobody has ever accused a president of being thrilling in a State of the Union Address. You know, I don't think you'll see any State of the Union Address --

AVLON: There's some drama.

CUOMO: Anyway, maybe Washington, right?

GREGORY: Truman. Clinton.

CUOMO: You talked about it in your book about Washington. Maybe he, with the State of the Union, maybe he made some points. But, really, not usually a big moment for politics.

So let's talk about something else that is a big moment right now. When Harvey Weinstein, the accusations came out about him, he has given so much money to Democratic donors that the RNC, the Republicans in general, jumped up and said, boy, you better give that money back. You better put your literally money where your mouth is when it comes to this culture change for women. Now you have Steve Wynn, the big Vegas hotel mogul, tons and tons of accusations against him. He actually had a title with the RNC.


CUOMO: He has stepped down. But, still, they've been really quiet, David Gregory, on the GOP side. What needs to happen?

GREGORY: Well, they're going to have to get more vocal. I mean you've heard it over the weekend. Those who received donations from the PAC and those who even didn't saying that they're going to have to redirect that money. And I expect they'll continue to do so.

But, you know, Steve Wynn, despite him being a mogul, is -- you know, we're still learning -- we're still learning more about it. I mean his political connections, I don't think, are as big as Harvey Weinstein's were. But it's certainly big enough, damaging enough that the GOP's going to have to reckon with this.

AVLON: And, look, he's been raising big money for the Republicans since Donald Trump took over. And this is damning to the extent that Republicans rightly made a lot of hay out of Harvey Weinstein and said you're honor bound to give the money back. And as Lindsey Graham said, well, then we've got to do the same thing in this case. These are serious allegations. He's now stepped down from his position. But let's at least try to be decent enough to apply some similar standards in these circumstances.

HARLOW: OK, so Harvey Weinstein ties us back to Hillary Clinton, because he was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton, gave a lot of money to her campaign. Look, now we know, because "The New York Times" broke this story, guys, that her faith adviser in the 2008 campaign was sexually harassing this younger subordinate, this woman. And two of the top folks on the campaign said to Clinton, get rid of him.

CUOMO: He's got to go.


HARLOW: She says no. OK, so that now comes to light. This guy goes on to run Correct the Record, a big group supporting her.

CUOMO: Does it again.

HARLOW: Does it again. Gets fired because of it. Hillary Clinton comes out -- let's puts the tweet up here, over the weekend. And not only did she not fire him, but she said -- it's a long tweet but let me read the end. She said, you know, I'm glad that I was dismayed when this happened. I took her concerns seriously. It was addressed. I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her, to make sure she knows what all women should. We deserve to be heard.

This -- I mean my -- my jaw dropped, John Avlon, because I'm thinking, really? This guy gets fired for the same thing and you still can't say he should have gone then?

AVLON: Yes. I mean I -- that's the problem. Look, you know, 20/20 hindsight. This is Hillary Clinton clearly, based on the reporting, defending a guy who had been accused, who then ultimately did it again and got fired. And the tweet was not sufficient. It was not an apology. It's not simply an affirmation that I hear you, it's that, you know, Hillary Clinton should have said, I screwed up. I defended somebody who we had reason to believe was sexually harassing in her office and I apologize. Those words are very difficult for politicians to say.


[06:35:00] Yes, I think they're difficult and I think, you know, this was initially a clash between the idea that having some kind of due process or having a process when someone's accused is an appropriate thing. But then the story changed from there and it happened again. So I don't think this is a good look for Hillary Clinton and we're not going to hear the last of it.

CUOMO: Well, look, it raises two things, right? I mean we went hard on this on Friday night on the primetime show. And the one is, this is who Hillary Clinton is. Let's be honest. One of the reasons that e- mail story got out of control is that she wouldn't jump on that early on either and just own what was true and apologize about it and put it there.

And the second thing is they'll say, well, it was 2008. Whatever. You had two people, including your campaign manager, come to you and say, this person's got to go. That was all you needed. 2008, 1978, that's all she should have needed.


CUOMO: Anyway, gentlemen, thank you very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

GREGORY: Thanks. CUOMO: Actually, right after the show we're going to hustle down to D.C. We're going to do the primetime show, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, tonight from there. And we're going to get deeper into some of these big issues we're talking about this morning and give you the facts first.

HARLOW: All right, so, ahead of that, there's another deadly attack we have to tell you about in Afghanistan. This time it was targeting a military base in Kabul. The details, next.


CUOMO: Breaking news.

ISIS claiming responsibility for a brazen attack at an Afghan military base. Eleven people lost their lives, 16 others injured. And this is just the latest in a string of deadly attacks over the past week. More than 100 people have been killed.

[06:40:08] CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in London. He has breaking details.

What do we know, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is an absolutely devastating week or ten days for those people in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, who think they're supposed to be safe inside what they call the ring of steel that protects it.

Now, this latest attack at the military academy called Mashal Fahim seems to have used a suicide bomber to get through one checkpoint and then five others involved in a complicated attack. Eleven Afghan military lives claimed there.

But, frankly, this occurred just after a day of mourning from one of the most devastating attacks Kabul has seen in quite a lengthy period of time.

ISIS claimed the attack on the military academy, but just days earlier the Taliban said they were behind the use of an ambulance being used as a suicide car bomb to penetrate one of the most secure parts of Kabul. That bomb went off, killed over 100 people. Some just milling around the checkpoint in what was supposed to be an area of secure diplomatic missions. Before that, earlier in the week, we had an attack claimed by ISIS against a children's charity in the country's east. And then, earlier on, last weekend, we had an attack against a key hotel, claimed by the Taliban now.

Do you see a pattern? ISIS, the Taliban, ISIS, the Taliban. Some might say that these two groups are in competition to be the most extreme. To seek -- reach kind of a lower ground, if you like, of brutality. This, of course, as Donald Trump, the president, says he will win in this area, as the U.S. government, some of it, classifies some of the key information the taxpayer needs to have to know if they're winning or not. And as potentially hundreds more U.S. troops are on their way to try and train Afghans on the front line. A real mess here potentially. HARLOW: Wow.

WALSH: Back to you, Alisyn.

HARLOW: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much. We appreciate the reporting for us, live from London.

Switching to sports. Super Bowl week is here and the Eagles have landed in Minneapolis, as hard as that is for me to say.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend.


I know as a Vikings fan, you wish that the home team was playing in the Super Bowl.

HARLOW: And, Andy, can I just tell you, whenever I fill in on this show, I always have to read this stuff. It's like -- just like, you know --

SCHOLES: We do it on purpose, Poppy.


SCHOLES: Just kidding.

Anyway, you know, the Eagles and the Patriots, they're going to meet with the media tonight during Super Bowl opening night, which is formerly known as Media Day. The Eagles, as we just said, they arrived in Minneapolis yesterday. They got off the plane in a hangar so they didn't have to deal with your freezing temperatures. The forecast for Super Bowl Sunday right now calls for a high of 7 degrees. Luckily, the game is indoors, but, you know, walking to the stadium should be fun for everyone. The Patriots, they're scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis later on this afternoon.

Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey back in the ring last night, but it wasn't the octagon. Rousey making a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble. She has inked a deal to be a full time wrestler with WWE. Rousey is telling ESPN that the WWE is her life now. And, Chris, she said she could have done a lot of other things and made more money, but getting back in the ring and wrestling is something that she says she's really going to enjoy.

CUOMO: Look, good for her. If you're going to step away, step away clean. I was a little surprised, though, that she didn't want to come back and fight one more time so she didn't go out the way she did in the UFC.

SCHOLES: Yes. She went out with back-to-back losses, that's right. Yes.

CUOMO: She did and bad ones. Anyway, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right, Chris.

CUOMO: So Grammy night. Did you watch? Don't worry, we got you covered. It was dominated by politics. There were powerful and emotional messages from some of the artists. And then this happened. What was Hillary Clinton doing at the Grammys? I'll give you a hint. She wasn't singing.


[06:47:59] CUOMO: All right, it's not a big surprise that politics played a role at the Grammy's.

HARLOW: Right.

CUOMO: But just how much --


CUOMO: And how was surprising. Celebrities, you know, taking something jabs at President Trump. But then Hillary Clinton made a surprise cameo.

We have CNN's Brian Stelter here with the highlights.

Thank you very much for getting us the details. Part of it we expected. Part of it we did not.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, I thought the show got more interesting as the evening went on. Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars big winner. But maybe Hillary Clinton too. Watch.


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

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

CLINTON: You think so?


CLINTON: The Grammy's in the bag?


STELTER (voice over): Hillary Clinton making a surprise appearance in a Grammy award skit featuring celebrities doing dramatic readings from the tell-all book "Fire and Fury."

SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He started to get angry and hurt. The stars were determined to embarrass him. I definitely wasn't there.

CARDI B, RAPPER: Trump wasn't happy his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon. Then more to his likely, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger. Why am I even reading this (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

STELTER: The skit prompting backlash from Mr. Trump's allies. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeting that the skit ruined the awards show. And the president's son going after Clinton, calling the opportunity to read an excerpt from the book a great consolation prize for losing the presidency.

Trump's denigrating comments toward immigrants from African nations, which he reportedly called shitholes, coming up repeatedly.

LOGIC, RAPPER: Give us your tired, your poor and any immigrant who seeks refuge.

BONO, SINGER: Blessed are the shithole countries who gave us the American dream.

STELTER: Prior to U2's performance, Cuban-Mexican immigrant singer Camilla Cabello paying tribute to dreamers.

[06:50:01] CAMILLA CABELLO, SINGER: Tonight, in this room full of music's dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream.

STELTER: A number of artists also honoring the Me Too movement, wearing white roses in solidarity.

JAMELLE MONAE, SINGER: We come in peace, but we mean business.

And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words, time's up.

STELTER: Singer Kesha, who has been tied up in a legal battle with her producer over alleged sexual abuse, with the moment of the night, giving an emotional performance of her hit song "Pray."

KESHA, SINGER (singing): I hope you find your peace, falling on your knees.


CUOMO: What stood out to you?

STELTER: You know, the Golden Globes mostly ignored President Trump, didn't talk politics. The Grammy's went a different direction. This was music's biggest night. And the number -- a number of stars, rap and hip-hop artists, country music stars wanted to be on the record about where they stood. And there was another performance, a tribute of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. A number of country music stars coming together on that count.

But certainly on the political front, these pro-immigration messages, pro dreamer messages were notable. The word "shitholes" was bleeped a couple of times by CBS. They're on broadcast. They have different regulations to worry about.


STELTER: However, these artists wanted to address the issue, wanted to show where they stood.

HARLOW: Look, U2 filming by the Statue of Liberty --


HARLOW: Just says everything without having to say the words. And, of course, they put out the tweets, blessed are the s-hole countries, for they gave us the American dream.

STELTER: And the critique there is that maybe it was too heavy-handed. He's there at the Statue of Liberty with an American flag bullhorn.


STELTER: You know, I think some of the criticism we saw, for example, from Donald Trump Junior is that these shows are over the top, too obvious liberal.

I thought Nikki Haley's critique was interesting, though. She was saying, I like my music without politics. Now, come on, music and politics have been fused for decades. Political messages --

CUOMO: Right, but she has a reason not to like this book.

STELTER: Yes. And I think -- and that's an important note. Nikki Haley, of course, came out recently condemning Michael Wolff's book. There was an illusion in Wolff's book that may or may not have implied that she was having an affair with President Trump. Wolff was out there talking about this, suggesting it. So she has denied it. It's no wonder she was critical of that Michael Wolff reading (ph).

CUOMO: Right, more than just denied it, though. The way Wolff tried to explain it with Bill Mahar, there seems to be absolutely nothing to it. And it was unfortunate that she had to come out and address it at all. But hopefully people put that one to bed. But thank you very much, Brian Stelter.

STELTER: Thanks.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thanks, Brian.

All right, so tomorrow night, big night for the president. He delivers his first State of the Union Address. Remember, during his inaugural address last year, we heard a darker tone, American carnage, right? That was then. A few weeks later, followed by a much more uplifting, hopeful message before a joint session of Congress. So what will tomorrow night bring? First, remember this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found. Hopefully the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just, and more free.


HARLOW: Joining us, senior editor of "The Atlantic," David Frum. He was, of course, a speech writer for President George W. Bush, and CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, director of the Nixon Presidential Library.

Gentlemen, nice to have you here.


HARLOW: And, David, for anyone who doesn't know, when you wrote President Bush's 2002 inaugural, axis of evil, it's what we all remember. If you were writing this address for tomorrow night, what would you coin? What would be the term?

FRUM: Well, look, I don't think I would take that job. But the president --

HARLOW: Putting that aside.

FRUM: President Trump doesn't have to come up with a memorable phrase. Look, if he gets through an hour without putting a fork in somebody's eye, he will be praised as the most presidential president since the most presidential president.

HARLOW: Just for sticking to prompter?

FRUM: Just for not doing something hideous. I mean there's a special Trump scale where he is graded differently from any other president. If he just -- if he just behaves like a functioning human being for an hour, we think he's done a great job.

HARLOW: All right, Tim Naftali, look at the Davos speech he gave at the end of last week. I mean there was nothing really exciting about that. It was very much to script. He went after the media for one second. We can deal with that. That's fine.

But you say this -- I mean the inaugural had Bannon -- Steve Bannon written all over it.


HARLOW: OK, Bannon's out. And unless he's calling up the White House -- I don't know that they're good friends right now -- this is going to be Bannon light, if Bannon at all. You say Steven Miller, obviously, will have -- obviously a speech writer is going to have a big impact on this. So what do you think is going to be different, though, from the inaugural?

[06:55:06] NAFTALI: Well, the president's approval ratings are sticky below -- they're sticking below 40 percent, right? And we saw a change in his rhetoric regarding immigration, the proposal that we -- that they floated a little over a week ago. If that's a harbinger of a new tone on immigration, that's going to suggest a post Bannon rhetoric.

HARLOW: A path to citizenship for 1.8 million.

NAFTALI: The path to citizenship, which some in the Republican Party would call amnesty.


NAFTALI: And not just talking about 700,000 people, but 1.3 million people and broad -- so he's going beyond what his hard-core base would expect of him.

Is this the new Trump administration? Or is this just a -- just some kind of balloon that he floated? So that's the test. The State of the Union could be, in this case, a signal about a rhetorical shift in this administration, which would make it a more consequential State of the Union than usual.

HARLOW: Do you think, David Frum, we will see that, a president realizing, you know, 36 percent, 38 percent approval rating, this base is not enough to get me over the finish line next time around and I need to broaden it out? As we -- I mean, look, what we saw -- we saw him go further with parts of this immigration plan than President Obama in terms of a path to citizenship for dreamers. Yes, there are other parts that Democrats -- many Democrats just can't stomach, but do you think that this is that shift perhaps we're seeing from the president?

FRUM: Well, I expect Donald Trump's numbers to approve in 2018, lifted by the strength of the economy, and especially by the rising wages. We do see at last that the growth in the economy that's gone out for seven years is affecting the labor market. So that should give him a boost.

I think the conventional view on what is a popular immigration platform may differ somewhat from what is actually a popular immigration platform. More and more liberal is not the most popular approach on immigration.

HARLOW: Tim, you say this is an opportunity to see what you call the real Donald Trump. What do you mean? You don't think we've seen that yet?

NAFTALI: Well, no, no, I've -- I -- I've suggested that I'm not sure who the real Donald Trump is because of the way in which he -- he seems more opportunistic than anything else. So let's see what Donald Trump, he presents to the people of the United States.

The question I have is whether he wants to just be president of the red counties. Does he actually want to enlarge the base and be presidential for everyone? Is he capable of it? This is an opportunity for him to stop talking to just a sectarian group in our society, but to actually lay out themes that would have much broader appeal.

HARLOW: David Frum, you say the bar is so low for this president, right?

FRUM: Yes.

HARLOW: So what -- I mean what would reach your bar to make you say, huh, surprise to the upside?

FRUM: I don't have any questions left about Donald Trump. He has answered every question I have. I know -- and I think we all -- we all know who he is. We all know what he is. We all know why he's president. We all know who got him into that job. So I think the question for all of us is, is how do we protect the country during the remainder of his presidency. But there are no serious questions left about what kind of person he is and what kind of president he is.

HARLOW: There's nothing you're looking for to stand out in this speech? I mean is the Donald Trump you're talking about the one that you expected to propose a path to citizenship, not just for dreamers but for would-be dreamers?

FRUM: Look, you can train a seal to sit on the side of a pool for an hour and behave itself. That doesn't make it no longer a seal. And I think if Donald Trump can get through an hour of good behavior, I mean he's done that before. But that doesn't tell you what's going to happen at an hour and five minutes.

HARLOW: Well, that's interesting, because, Tim, followed by the president's remarks will be the Democratic response from Representative Joe Kennedy and then Twitter, right? So what do we see on Twitter from this president afterwards?

NAFTALI: Well, I mean here's -- I mean this is the point that, you know, David is I think partly making, which is that there is an erratic sense to this man that you can predict. I mean he's had so many opportunities to behave, to actually -- to focus his message and to, you know, repeat his message. But he is the one who upsets it all the time. He's the one who steps on his own applause line. So we can anticipate personal fights, personalized attacks, distraction.

The State of the Union might suggest, however, a broader theme than American carnage and I'm here and I'm going to fix everything. David is absolutely right that he's shown us that he's a man who doesn't believe that the office is bigger than him. That most -- our presidents generally come into the Oval Office and they think, this job is bigger than I am. He has been making the job as small as he is. This State of the Union might be an opportunity to do better. That's all. He's going to be president for, you know, at least another three years. We can't afford for him to be dragging us down. This is an opportunity to move us forward and upward.

HARLOW: Tim Naftali, David Frum, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

[07:00:00] FRUM: Thank you.

HARLOW: Our special coverage begins 5:00 tomorrow night.

Thanks to all our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our viewers here in the United States, stay right here, NEW DAY continues right now.