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Trump Wants Memo Released ASAP, But After His Speech; Transgender Soldier Invited by Democratic Congressman; Melania Trump Resurfaces, Expected to Attend Speech. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired January 30, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST:
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: -- there's going to be a pile-on from Rosenstein by Republicans who time and again have tried to --
BALDWIN: Rosenstein will be in the cross hairs.
SUMMERS: I think that's exactly right. Because Republicans in particular have been saying over and over again they want to discredit this investigation, don't see it as legitimate and he becomes frankly, an easy target.
BALDWIN: We have some sound. Let me talk to this. Just another piece of this whole story is the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, who came out today and he said, hey, let's release it. This is what else he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER, WISCONSIN: There are legitimate questions about whether American civil liberties were violated by the FISA process.
There may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals. So, it is our job in conducting transparent oversight of the executive branch to get to the bottom of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What is Paul Ryan's role in all of this?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it seems similar to Kevin McCarthy, and what Jim was saying, it seems as though the role is to try to give a nonpartisan bent or spin to what Devin Nunes is doing as a real partisan.
BALDWIN: Are you buying it?
CHALIAN: No. No, no. But that clearly is what his role is here. Now, what about the larger role of Paul Ryan, and that is sort of dealing with a divided conference. Encountering a lot of the problems that John Boehner encountered, and John Boehner is no longer on the job because of it. Does he give into and give cover to -- as he's clearly chosen to do -- the right-wing element that wants to join the Fox News crowd on this and drum this up or does he try to present a truly more bipartisan or unifying approach to the investigation instead of undermining it? I think the evidence is clear, Paul Ryan's going with where the energy in his conference is.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And he tried to straddle the fence earlier today, again in noble fashion. But I don't know who actually buys it to say listen, it raises legitimate questions and please don't use this memo to color or attack the Mueller investigation. Because, you know, we would never do that. When he's --
CHALIAN: That's what it's being used for.
SCIUTTO: That's exactly what it's being used for. Keep in mind, we're only a week past the secret society inside the FBI based mistakenly on a text that was misinterpreted. And so, this is part of an ongoing flood of this kind of stuff.
PAUL KANE, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, he's trying to balance. On one hand he's saying release the memo but don't attack or fire the deputy attorney general. But the rationale for the memo is built around trying to fire the deputy attorney general. So, he is trying to straddle a fence in which there really is no fence.
BALDWIN: Let's get to the top Democrat here -- the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, who Jim talked to a bit ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So, you're saying you've read the underlying intelligence and when you look at that, it colors these allegations differently?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, CALIFORNIA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's what we set out in the document that we prepared. It's what the Republican members don't want at this point the country to see. Because it pokes holes in this memorandum. They don't want the country to know how misleading their document is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: What's your takeaway from the Democratic perspective?
SCIUTTO: Listen, and again, you know, you have Democrats and Republicans and folks will be like, oh, he's a Democrat. The Justice Department repeated his argument there, which is in that letter we were just talking about a couple of minutes ago, it said, by the way, Mr. Nunes, you haven't even read the underlying intelligence that is behind your claims, these allegations. What is the underlying intelligence to the folks at home? This would be the intercepted communications, whatever was used to back up this request for a warrant, to monitor an American. Who, by the way, was talking to Russians under somewhat questionable circumstances, I might add, Carter Page. That's another thing. So, if you want to separate the partisan interpretations of whether or not this shows malfeasance, as Paul Ryan has said, et cetera. Just remember, the Justice Department, one, lots of the folks who are making these claims haven't actually seen what's behind the warrant and so on. And that a lot of folks involved have an axe to grind you might say.
BALDWIN: Lastly, we are just getting some news on Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon's second appearance before, speaking of the House Intel Committee, before that committee expected for Wednesday has been scrapped according to four sources familiar with the matter. What do you make of that?
[15:35:00] KANE: You could have a real innocent reason, as the Republicans are heading off to their retreat and didn't have time to do this. Or you could have a whole host of other things. There's the Mueller investigation has been trying to talk to him. They might have had their wires crossed between the committee, congressional committee and the Mueller folks.
BALDWIN: Juana Summers, final word from you on any of the above?
SUMMERS: I think the thing to look for is when in fact, Steve Bannon does appear before that committee. I think it's going to be one of the biggest that will kind of see what direction this investigation is going to go. It's been highly watch by, obviously, by people on both sides. Working to keep on reporting that out and figure it out what's going on there.
BALDWIN: Thank you, all, very, very much.
Next here on CNN special coverage ahead of the State of the Union tonight. We're going to talk to a transgender soldier attending the State of the Union this evening, as an invited guest. The Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy, a reminder he's doing the response to the President tonight. Her message to the President as her future in the military hangs in the balance. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: When the president delivers his State of the Union address and just a couple of hours from now, a transgender soldier will be sitting in that audience. Congressman Joe Kennedy, Democrat, Massachusetts, invited staff sergeant, Patricia King to be his guest in the wake of the president's attempt to keep transgender troops out of the military. That sergeant has served in the army for almost 19 years. But now her military future is in doubt. And I had a chance to speak to her before she left for Washington.
BALDWIN: I have read that you have described your life lately as, quote, hanging in the balance. Can you tell me what you mean?
STAFF SERGEANT PATRICIA KING, TRANSGENDER SOLDIER INVITED TO STATE OF THE UNION: Well, when the announcement was made that they may decide to go back to banning transgender service. When so many transgender service members, myself included, that raised questions about what is going to happen to me. Am I going to be fired or let go? Will I have the opportunity to continue to serve my country? And for others who are looking to enlist into the military or commissioned in the military, would they have the opportunity?
BALDWIN: Tell me why you want to attend the State of the Union? What message are you hoping to send just by your sheer presence in that chamber?
KING: The State of the Union is an important part of political process that demands accountability of our elected officials. I look forward to the opportunity to attend, just to be a part of that have process. And to be one of those faces in the crowd, one of those people that demands accountability from the government. You know, we all have a say when we have the opportunity to vote. And this is our chance to hold accountable those people that we elected to office.
BALDWIN: Let me just play for you a little bit of what we've heard from Republican leadership. What they had to say when President Trump first announced the transgender military ban by tweet. Listen.
REP PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The concern here in the House was whether or not the military would be forced to pay for the surgical procedures. I share those concerns.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Based on consultation that he's had with national security team came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion, and made the decision based on that.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been a very difficult situation, and I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military. It's been a very confusing issue for the military. And I think I'm doing the military a great favor.
BALDWIN: You say you are the first member of the military who has received gender reassignment surgery, actually paid for by the military. What do you say to those critics, including the president himself, who tweeted about the tremendous medical cost and disruption you could cause?
KING: What I would say is that retaining the best and brightest has a cost to it. Whether it be providing maternity leave or a medical procedure or sending them to a school, so that they can be better trained. That's just part of doing business, when you take care of your service members. As far as the cost of this, that's been worked out over and over again. It's been refuted at this point. I think we've all determined that the cost is not actually an issue. It's very negligible. As it applies to my surgical procedures, I actually went out of my way. I found a surgeon who was willing to waive their fee in the midst of all of this that's been going on. So, Dr. Christina Gent did the surgery at no cost to me. She (inaudible) those costs. The military paid only for the operating room and the anesthesia fees. BALDWIN: My heart goes out to you and all the brave service men and
women who serve and protect this country. Thank you so much, and we'll see you at the State of the Union.
KING: Absolutely, see you there.
BALDWIN: And the sergeant's host, again, Congressman Kennedy, will be delivering Democratic response to the president's speech.
[15:45:00] Tonight's speech will also be the very first public appearance for the first lady in weeks. We're going to talk about Melania Trump and her role at the State of the Union after canceling her trip to join her husband in Davos.
BALDWIN: Moments ago, the First Lady tweeted about tonight's State of the Union and the 15 people who will be seated with her the House chamber. She tweeted, I will be joined by an honorable group of Americans, sitting with me are heroes who have served our nation in times of need, families who have suffered at the hands of evil and citizens who have embraced the American dream.
The First Lady's attendance at tonight's speech will be the first time we have seen her publicly since her decision to basically ditch Davos and making an unannounced visit to the Holocaust Museum before going off to Florida.
[15:50:00] Which had some people wondering whether her absence was just her desire for privacy or a sign of displeasure over very public allegations involving the president and a porn star.
With more I have my favorite Kates with me. CNN contributor and author, Kate Andersen Brower and CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett. Ladies, hello. You first just on -- let's begin just with what we know about tonight, who is going to be with her?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Sure, well, she has a variety of guests with her. And they are people that range from veterans who, you know, were wounded in service to a coast guard rescuer who helped with the hurricanes. To this terrific police officer from New Mexico, that we did a story on here at CNN, who adopted the opioid addicted baby. So, it's a large group of people. She's hosting a reception at the White House for all these 15 people and their friends and family beforehand, which is something new. Showing a little extra care and time with them, and really welcoming them to Washington.
BALDWIN: Secondly the question I want to get to which is, what's up?
BENNETT: Well, I think Kate and I would want to get in that question, too.
BALDWIN: Where did she go? Why didn't she go to Davos? Those are the questions people are asking? BENNETT: We haven't heard from her publicly, but we've sort of have heard from her. Right? We haven't seen her with the president since New Year's Eve. But we have heard her own tweets. We saw that strange inauguration anniversary tweet that didn't mention the president. You know, the strange trip to Florida for 24 hours. There are lots of things that she does that are private. But at the same time beg the question, what's up? What's going on? You can't sort of have it go both ways and have a First Lady who's allowed her privacy by all means. But at the same time is doing things that raise eyebrows within these weeks of headlines that include things like porn stars, alleged affairs and payouts. We have to ask that question.
BALDWIN: Looking at First Lady's past, I mean, there are multiple examples of First Ladies who have stood by their men at low points.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's true. I do think her silence has spoken a thousand words. I would have to say.
BALDWIN: You do?
BROWER: But I'm really interested tonight to see if he comes out and praises her in any way. Because if you look back at President Obama, in 2010 he talked about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign, and she got a standing ovation. And from Reagan, Nancy Reagan was the first, First Lady, to have a guest in the First Lady's box. And ever since then we've seen a steady stream of Republican and Democratic presidents praising their wife's work. And so tonight, I think if he doesn't single her out and say something about her as an incredible mother and a force in his life, then I think that would be --
BALDWIN: And that's telling.
BOWER: -- Telling, yes.
BALDWIN: What about you look at the past though where she has stood up and stood by him. The grab him by the you know what moment on the bus with Billy Bush. The women, the allegations of sexual assaults, sexual harassment against her husband. And she stood by him. But this seems different why? To either of you.
BENNETT: I mean I think it is because she's First Lady now. And it's a different -- she's trying to establish herself. She's representing the country. This isn't the campaign anymore. She can't just say, oh, that was boy talk which she did about Access Hollywood. And the "Fire and Fury" book implied some things. And her spokesperson came out and said that's a work of fiction. So, there is even some defense there. But as Kate says the silence this time is different, and I think it is because she has a really got a lot to lose here as First Lady.
BOWER: And she's tough too. I mean I think that she's seeing everything that being written about her. She's humiliated. They have a young son. It's very personal now. You know I think before with the Access Hollywood tape, I mean the worst part of the whole Stormy Daniels thing. But Barron was a few months old at the time. And I think any mother would find that really hard to look past. And so, it's deeply humiliating for her in a way I don't think even the Clinton marriage was quite as difficult as this. And so, I think people feel slightly sympathetic towards her.
BALDWIN: Right, absolutely, they do. We're getting a little color from this lunch where some of the TV anchors, including our very own Wolf Blitzer, you know, lunch with -- at the White House. And so here is a little bit of color, this is I believe from the president. You govern with all the instincts of a business person, but you have to add much more heart and soul into your decisions than you ever would have thought before.
I believe that's from the president. Guys, correct me. Is that from the president?
Correct. There you go. So, from the president himself ahead of his big night at the State of the Union. Just wanted to get that in there. At the lunch with some of the journalists who are in town here in Washington. You make a great point. We'll be listening to see if and how the president mentions his wife sitting up there in that box with all of her special guests. Ladies, we'll be looking for your reporting. Thank you so very much.
Coming up next here, Congress takes action after the former doctor for USA Gymnastics was sentenced to 175 years in prison for child sex abuse. What is being done to keep this from ever happening again?
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Any moment now the Senate is expected to vote on a tough new law designed to protect amateur athletes from sexual abuse. This new bipartisan legislation is aimed at forcing athletic organizations to swiftly report any kind of sexual abuse and establish preventive policies. It also extends the statute of limitations for victims to sue abusers. This crackdown follows the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics Doctor, Larry Nassar. He was sentenced last week to up to 175 years in prison. More than 150 young women came forward detailing their abuse at his hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Those reforms, which I would like to speak briefly about, are only possible because these women have been so courageous. They decided to come forward. They shared their pain and they did everything they could to see that what happened to them would never happen to anyone else again. Today would not have been possible without the women standing here.
DOMINIQUE MOCEANU, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: We can now confidently say that future generations of children participating in sports will be safer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Larry Nassar will be back in court tomorrow in Michigan to face even more of his victims. He has pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct in a separate case. Also, before I let you go, I want to check in on the Dow seconds
before today's close. You see all the red on the screen there. It is down more than 300 points. Shares of health care companies dropped sharply on the news that the heads of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase plan to actually get into the health insurance business.
Today's down turn is not, honestly, not an ideal back drop as the president prepares to give his first State of the Union address. Which as we're told from sources is expected to be heavy on touting his economic accomplishments and creating jobs in this country. The Dow overall is up 8,000 points though since the President Trump took office.
I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Washington D.C. Thank you so much for being with me. We're going to send her off to Jake Tapper taking on our special coverage of tonight's State of the Union, right now, "THE LEAD" starts now.