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Democratic Congresswoman to Honor Recy Taylor at SOTU; Trump Opts Not to Impose New Russia Sanctions; Police Officer Who Adopted Baby Will Be First Lady's Guest at SOTU. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 30, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:53] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It has become a custom at State of the Union for lawmakers to bring a special guest to represent a specific policy issue. While tonight's speech is no exception, many Democrats are rallying behind a single cause. At least seven lawmakers will bring up women, the "Me Too"/"Times Up" movement. And many of them are sexual assault survivors.

New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman will be joined by Rose Gunter. Gunter is the niece of the late Recy Taylor, whose story is so significant in the story of race and gender inequality, yet so few of us knew about her until, knew her name of course, leave it to Oprah to highlight her story at the Golden Globes.


OPRAH WINFREY, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: A name I know, and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she attended in Albertville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago.


BALDWIN: Recy Taylor's niece, Rose Gunter, joins me now. Along with me, Beth Hubbard, who produced the documentary called "The Rape of Recy Taylor."

Ladies, an honor to have both of you on. Thank you so much.

I see your red Recy pins.

When the congresswoman called you up -- first, I understand she ordered up these Recy pins for she and her colleagues to wear tonight.

When you got the call to be there for Mrs. Taylor, what was all of this like for you?

ROSE GUNTER, NEICE OF RECY TAYLOR: It was exciting and something that I would want to do for her because I know she would want it done. And something to carry on her legacy.

BALDWIN: And sitting in that hallowed hall tonight, what will you be thinking?

GUNTER: What a great inspiration she were, a loving person, strong, courageous.

BALDWIN: Told her story.


Speaks up.

Here is my question to you. So many people -- let me just be honest, myself included -- we weren't aware of Recy Taylor's story until, of course, leave it to Oprah. What's extraordinary about her is here she was, gang raped leaving church and, unlike so many women at that time, she spoke up about it. Tell me more about her.

BETH HUBBARD, PRODUCER: She did. I really think her life was a vigil for justice. Her brother and also rose talk about that it was really her faith and also the strong support of her father that had her -- she had the strength to speak up. So, you know, her life was really a vigil for this justice and for women not to be erased. That, you know, she really felt like black women have been fighting for their right to own their own bodies forever, before slavery. And now she had to speak up and say, don't erase us. We're here. We deserve justice.

[14:35:25] BALDWIN: Let me quote the congresswoman, Watson Coleman, who invited you tonight. She tweeted, in part, quote, "Beyond her terrifying experience, Recy Taylor is a representation of the many communities this administration has chosen to leave behind."

You will be sitting there, listening to President Trump's speech, a man so many people have called misogynistic, racist. Do you have anything to say about him?



BALDWIN: It's OK. You can take a minute. You can take a minute.

GUNTER: Well, he -- he is -- he doesn't have the -- no sense of -- oh, shoot.


GUNTER: Sense of women -- about women. He has a bad reputation for women, I'll say.

BALDWIN: Not only that, but I want to play a clip. This is from one of his advisers, Kellyanne Conway, who was on this morning, criticizing women who are choosing tonight to speak up, to wear black in honor of the "Me Too" movement. Here is Kellyanne Conway. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: They are so blinded by their reflections of hate and -


CONWAY: Oh, my goodness. Obstruct, resist. Stop. Don't do it. That is not a message. That impedes democracy. Their biggest statement is going to be the color of their clothing? They're all going to wear black to, what, protest Harvey Weinstein?


BALDWIN: So, a woman criticizing women for standing up to women. Do you have a response to her?

GUNTER: She's -- not -- not really.

BALDWIN: She's speaking about both of you ladies and so many other women who are choosing to wear back tonight.

HUBBARD: I think Recy is the response and also, you know, her fight for this, our fight for this. It was always time to bring it to light. And now the world understands that it's time and "Time's Up." I think The Rape of Recy Taylor shows that that journey of black women and women throughout the past and how we can learn from our history.

BALDWIN: Rose, here is my final question. You were not only her niece but her caretaker, it's my understanding, until the very end.


BALDWIN: What do you think she would be thinking now, knowing her story is coming out of Oprah Winfrey's mouth, waking up this country and now on the lapels of so many very powerful people here in Washington?

GUNTER: I think she would be happy. I think she would be glad that it got this far. And without her brother pushing it, it wouldn't have got this far. When she came back, they talked about it. And he pushed it because he said he wanted justice for his sister.

BALDWIN: Because she never got justice from those men.


BALDWIN: Alabama said, sorry, but I'm not quite sure that fully cut it.


[14:39:02] BALDWIN: No, it didn't.

Ladies, thank you so much. Rose and Beth, I appreciate both of you. Thank you so much.

Ahead, President Trump refuses to slap new sanctions on companies doing business with blacklisted Russian entities, instead putting them, quote, "on notice." Democrats say the president is letting Russia off the hook for its election meddling. How the Kremlin is reacting to all of this, next.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is an extreme dereliction of duty by President Trump who seems more intent on undermining the rule of law in this country than standing up to Putin.


BALDWIN: Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, a couple of minutes ago on the attack, blasting President Trump's inaction on Russia, designed to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration made the stunning decision that sanctions are not needed. The administration says a law that passed last year with overwhelming bipartisan support is doing its job, so they say more sanctions are not necessary. But as required by that same law, the White House has also released a sweeping list of oligarchs and top Russian politicians linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The CIA chief says he expects Russia to continue to meddle in our elections.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a sense that they might try to interfere in the U.S. midterms coming up?

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: Of course. I have every expectation they'll continue to try and do that. But I'm confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election, that will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust, that the impact they have on our election won't be great.


BALDWIN: Let's get reaction from the Kremlin. CNN senior international reporter, Matthew Chance, is live in Moscow.

Matthew, what's the response to these developments from Putin himself?

[14:45:00] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There may be some Democratic anger over in the United States that the Trump administration did not move towards imposing more sanctions on the Kremlin, but there's, on the one hand, some anger over here as well. President Putin saying it certainly was not a friendly act and exacerbates the U.S./Russian relationship, which is already at the low point, that Kremlin list of oligarchs and political figures close to the Kremlin, containing 210 names. So it's much more generalized, the kind of list that was anticipated, that was meant to target those directly in the close circle of Vladimir Putin.

The other thing the Kremlin says -- I think they're breathing a sigh of relief, that sanctions have not been ratcheted up on this occasion. Look, this is just a list. We're not going to respond unless there is any kind of enforcement of the list, whether sanctions are actually imposed on any of these individuals. And, for the moment it seems, the Trump administration is not going to do that. So, as I say, some relief here in the Russian capital.

BALDWIN: I'm sure there is.

Matthew, thank you so much, in Moscow.

Next here on CNN, a selfless act of love by a New Mexico police officer being recognized by the first family. He will be their guest at the State of the Union. His story first highlighted by CNN and our Ed Lavandera in our "Beyond the Call of Duty" feature.


[14:51:11] BALDWIN: A police officer who adopted the baby of a homeless drug addict will be the guest tonight of the first lady's at State of the Union. CNN first profiled the story of this Albuquerque police officer, Ryan Holets, and his incredible act of kindness in our "Beyond the Call of Duty" feature.

And Ed Lavandera visited him in Washington for the big day.


OFC. RYAN HOLETS, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, we're not going into the White House. We're just going to the State of the Union.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ryan Holets and his family feel like they're walking into "The Twilight Zone."

HOLETS: We're going to cross here.

LAVANDERA: CNN first reported the story of how his family adopted the baby of a homeless woman battling heroin addiction two months ago. Since then, life has been a whirlwind.

HOLETS: What did you see? Oh, look, it's a big horse.

LAVANDERA: Now Holets and his wife enter the biggest stage of their lives, guests of the first family at the State of the Union address.

(on camera): What's it been like for you?

REBECCA HOLETS, WIFE OF RYAN HOLETS: It's been amazing to see how our story has touched so many people.

HOLETS: Look like you guys are getting ready to shoot up over here.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The journey started last September when Ryan Holets, an Albuquerque police officer, encountered this homeless couple shooting up heroin behind a convenience store.

HOLETS: How far along are you?


HOLETS: Oh, my gosh.

LAVANDERA: Crystal Champ was eight months pregnant.

HOLETS: Why are doing that stuff? You're going to ruin your baby. You're going to kill your baby.

LAVANDERA: The moment changed all their lives. The Holets family adopted Crystal's baby. Baby Hope is doing well.

And because of the first story, a Florida treatment facility offered to help Crystal and her partner, Tom Key, and that's where they are today.

Crystal calls the Holets family her guardian angels.

CHAMP: I don't know where he came from, but I'm really happy he was here. I couldn't have prayed for this to happen the way it did because, you know, he basically adopted us, too.

LAVANDERA: Ryan speaks with them daily and says they're taking the first steps to getting sober.

(on camera): Is there a message you want people to take away from your story?

HOLETS: Everybody is redeemable. Tom and Crystal had value. Hope had value. By following that, look where it's led. It's led to wonderful things happening.

LAVANDERA: Do you feel like you have this moment you want to make the most of it?

HOLETS: It's actually been kind of a burden for me. You're kind of right. What do you say when you actually have the chance to meet the president?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Officer Holets says the addicted need more help accessing treatment and that prescription pain meds are far too easy to find.

(on camera): Do you worry or have any fear it becomes a photo-op or a passing moment and nothing really changes?

REBECCA HOLETS: Our responsibility is just to do what we can on our end. It's not our responsibility to do the president's job.

There's Hope.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): There's a new rock star in town. And Baby Hope is about to charm her way through Washington, D.C.

(on camera): She's almost 4 months. She's already going to her first State of the Union, first trip to the White House. This little girl is having a fun life so far.

HOLETS: Yes. She has been around a little bit. She has gotten to see a lot of people. And everybody loves Hope.


BALDWIN: Ed! Ed! Baby Hope.

LAVANDERA: End on the baby.

BALDWIN: You gave me babies today? I love it. It's so precious.

I remember your last piece so well. It was a cliffhanger because the officer wanted the couple to get on plane to go to rehab and they couldn't.

LAVANDERA: It was excruciating to watch.

BALDWIN: And now they have. How is that going?

LAVANDERA: That just speaks just to how many folks are trapped in it.


LAVANDERA: And how powerful it is. When we last saw them, right before Christmas, last story we did, and they had them at the airport to go to this rehab facility and they broke down, couldn't get on the plane. Crystal hid in the bathroom in the airport to avoid getting on that plane. But a week later, they tried it again, and this time they went. They've been there a little more than a month. So Ryan and the Holets family hope -- look, it's a long road. Who knows what's going to happen.

[14:55:14] BALDWIN: Sure.

LAVANDERA: But they hope this is the first steps towards recovery and sobriety for them.

BALDWIN: Not only that, just quickly, for the officer and wife, too, this was baby number four, five?

LAVANDERA: They have four of their own.

BALDWIN: Four of their own and they adopted Baby Hope as their fifth?

LAVANDERA: Hope is their fifth.

BALDWIN: Incredible.

LAVANDERA: They've got their hands full.

BALDWIN: Yes, they do, but, bless them.

Thank you for updating us on this story. Good to see you.

LAVANDERA: My pleasure. Good to see you.

BALDWIN: We'll have much more on the president's State of the Union in a few minutes, including some unexpected, we're told, "eye-opening" -- that's a direct quote from sources -- "eye-opening" statements on North Korea.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Back in just a moment.