Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Source: John Kelly Knew of Abuse Claims for Months. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 8, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Kelly, according to Pamela Brown, our CNN White House correspondent, is now finding himself the target of the ire of President Trump.
[16:30:11] President Trump, who, according to our reports, did not know about Rob Porter's background, did not understand what was going on, was alerted to this by Ivanka Trump walking in with a phone and picture of the first ex-wife with a black eye, and it comes at a time when Chief of Staff Kelly has already been criticized this week for his comments about Dreamers, not signing up because they were too scared or too lazy, and the number of other things that he's said about the civil war, whatever, we can go on and on.
But do you think, Abby, that John Kelly's job is at stake here, that this is -- that this is big p enough, or enough of a distractions to irritate the president that he'd ask him to leave?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure that it is. I mean, I think that with Trump, often, there are small moments of irritation, but as long as you continue to be there, those moments are going to come and go, and I would also make a distinction between some of those things that have made John Kelly a controversial figure, the Dreamer comments, the comments about Frederica Wilson, those comments are some comments that have actually made Kelly more Trump-like in a lot of ways.
The thing that annoys Trump about Kelly is when Kelly tried to imply that he was not fully informed about his own immigration policy. For example, or the degree to which Kelly restricted access of Trump's outside kitchen cabinet to the president, so there's separate issues here about the things that Kelly's doing that make him controversial to the, you know, outsiders, and the things that annoy Trump about him, and they are not the same thing.
I think this is an instance where the president was irritated by being blindsided, but we also saw Kelly traveling with the president this morning, going to the National Prayer Breakfast with him, and as part of a small group of aides who traveled with him to that event. I think you often see people coming in and out of the president's good graces. It takes a lot for Trump to finally say enough is enough, and sometimes it can be very sudden.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was going to say, it's also hard to believe that that, you know, this brief read to me like a typical Ivanka leaks, like she's going to save the day, horrified by everything, and she wants to change the world, if only she could, where she went in, and showed him the picture, and he went, oh, that's horrible. You know, that's a normal human reaction, but that's not consistent with how he's reacted to allegations of abuse and assault throughout the last two years.
PHILLIP: And it's worth knowing that Ivanka and Hope Hicks are very close.
PHILLIP: You have to also believe that Hope Hicks would not communicate, that she'd be blindsided by her own friend, the communications adviser to the president, a lot to believe to go down that road.
TAPPER: On a slightly lighter note, President Trump, obviously, comes from the world of reality television, "The Apprentice", and so it was not completely a surprise had he hired Omarosa to be on the White House staff. Omarosa was fired not long ago, I guess in December, and now appearing on "Big Brother," a different reality TV show, and this is how we are now hearing some of Omarosa's first actual thoughts. She sat down for an interview on ABC, but didn't really spill much.
Now, she's in whispers in the bedroom and living room sharing thoughts. Here's a little sneak preview of tonight's "Big Brother."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I was haunted by tweets every single day, like what is he going to tweet next?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does anybody say to him, what are you doing?
MANIGAULT: I tried to be that person and then all the people around him attacked me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we be worried?
MANIGAULT: Don't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we are worried. But I need you say, no, it's going to be OK.
MANIGAULT: No, it's not going to be OK. It's not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: First of all, I love reality TV shows when they whisper, like, oh, the cameras are not going to pick it up.
OK. Just in case you didn't hear at home, Omarosa said I was haunted by tweets every single day, like, what is he going to tweet next? And then it went on from there.
Now, believe it or not, he was asked about Omarosa today at the briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Omarosa was fired three times in "The Apprentice," and this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the president while here. She has no contact now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PSAKI: We've never met you, Omarosa.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's like the character off "Always Sunny in Philadelphia," she goes to the White House and goes on reality TV to trash the president, the guy that hired her? Who can take it seriously?
PHILLIP: I guess the only thing that should be surprising is that, I mean, maybe this is not surprising. It's the White House, you don't have NDAs, disclosure agreements so you can walk out the door, go on a reality TV show and say whatever you want to say, maybe write a book. Maybe that's next.
TAPPER: She's writing a book.
PSAKI: Of course, of course.
TAPPER: That's why she was whispering not to spoil anything.
PSAKI: That played out as if it would play if "Will and Grace" had a scene where one of them worked in the White House. Who knew that's based in reality? It's what every human being would want to ask somebody who worked in the White House, like, what about the Twitter?
She responded how people would want her to respond, who knows if it's true or not or ever interacted with Trump while there. Could have been true.
TAPPER: But let's assume, take her on her word, haunted by tweets every day, what's next, I tried to be that person to say what are you doing, but then all the people around him attacked me.
So, I mean, she's actually describing something fairly important, which is the president's Twitter habit, and how, according to her, she tried to tell him these tweets are scaring people or haunting her, in her words, and people around the president then started attacking her. I, for one, find that fairly believable.
CARPENTER: In the next episode of "Big Brother" do dramatic readings of the tweets that haunted her and dress up like a spirit around the house.
TAPPER: Because she's haunted. I get it.
PHILLIP: I mean, I don't know -- the idea -- first of all, when Omarosa was in the White House, it was unclear what her actual job was.
CARPENTER: She was haunted.
PHILLIP: And just surprising to see her really elevate herself to being a Trump whisperer and being --
PHILLIP: -- had to be kept away from the president. I mean, I guess that's the thing, the pedigree in the White House is, like, who is so important they have to be kept away from the president.
TAPPER: I love that, well, she was fired three times on "The Apprentice", and now fourth time at the White House, as if it's all the same.
PSAKI: He practiced that line in his office, probably.
PSAKI: Yes. It does go back to the question, look, every White House has to have a couple people who are saying no to the president, arguing with the president, ultimately, it's his choice what he does or doesn't do. What the dynamic seems to be here is President Trump is saying, go tweet this for me, go put out this statement, I'm saying this, and there's a sugar high on President Trump. There's nobody dealing a strategy, it's bad, this is why he's listening. So, element of that, whether it was a true story or not is reflective of the truth.
TAPPER: But Kelly is supposed to be doing that job, Kelly, right? No? I mean --
PHILLIP: Yes, no -- I mean, I think Kelly has given up on the idea of policing the tweets. I mean, the idea of -- the reason executive time exist in the morning because the president is in the residence for the most part doing what he wants with the time, and oftentimes it's tweeting. Kelly is not involved in the process and I think he's realized it's a lost cause. President Trump is not going to change habits because someone tells him to.
And in fact, he might do the opposite of what you tell him to do. I also think it's somewhat unseemly to see a former White House aide taking her experience and using it for personal profit on a reality show.
PSAKI: In a bedroom on a reality show.
PHILLIP: I think it's different. It feels different than writing a book. It's, like, you know, selling it to a tabloid or something to that effect. I think it's a little off-putting, and it's something that is just different about this White House.
I mean, working in the White House is to be a public service. You work for the American people. You're not building a cadre of secrets to go tell on "Big Brother."
CARPENTER: The saddest part of the story the only person listening to her was Ross the intern.
TAPPER: So, I guess the picture painted just today, OK, because, obviously, there's been a year and change or more, but just today, the White House we have, with Omarosa and much more significantly, the whole Rob Porter situation, two ex-wives accusing him of domestic abuse, the White House clearly knows, and their first instinct is to protect him. The only thing that we know of that they didn't know was the photograph of the black eye.
What's the picture painted here right now of this White House?
CARPENTER: It's complete chaos. It's a circus. Even the people that work for Trump don't respect him in the case of Omarosa, that she may go sell a silly story to reality TV. It's a complete mess. I mean, quite frankly, the silver lining of this is it's not completely off the rails and democracy continues to function, right?
[16:40:06] TAPPER: President Obama had moments where he had to let people go. I remember the guy in charge of military office in the White House, when they did the flyover of Air Force One in New York and scared half the city, but I don't think we've seen anything like this. I find it hard to believe that any previous White House would have let a domestic abuser, if they knew about it ahead of time, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, H.W. Bush, or Barack Obama, would have let him in the door.
PSAKI: Absolutely not. And, look, the scandals that we dealt with, which was quite quaint at this point, were things like misuse of taxpayer dollars, serious accusation, obviously it warrants a firing, but it's nothing that is questioning the values of the White House and the values of the American government.
And this is a case where you are putting into question here, why did they live by a different set of rules? Why on earth does this guy get to stay where everywhere else, every other industry, this is a career ender months and years ago?
TAPPER: Indeed. Everyone, stick around. We have a lot more to talk about.
Also breaking this hour, the Dow's dramatic drop, finishing down more than 1,000 points. What is causing the spiral? What the White House has to say about it. We're going to talk about that next. Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in the "MONEY LEAD" now. The Dow nose-diving again today in what's been an incredibly volatile week for the financial markets. The Index closing more than 1,000 points, 4.1 percent for the second time this week. With me now is CNN's Christina Alesci and Ted Weisberg, he's the Founder and President of Seaport Securities, a financial firm. And Christina, let me start with you. What's driving the spiral?
CHRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's driving the spiral is the party's over. It's the end of cheap money. That's because investors in the Stock Market are looking over to the bond market, and they are seeing yields rise, and that's because of inflation fears and the fears that Fed may raise interest rates a lot faster than previously expected. Now that's going to make it more expensive to borrow money, to hire workers, and that will undercutting the foundations of -- the foundation of the Stock Market which is earnings. That is what the Stock Market is genuinely concerned about. But look, we're in an official correction territory. It's the first time we've hit this level off the January 26th high. We are 10 percent off of that, so we are in official correction. The Market hit official correction for the first time at the close. We've hit it before on an intraday basis, so this is a market now that's clearly looking for a bottom. And we're going to be searching for that bottom for quite some time, and I think the big question, for many investors and traders, is are we at the end of a bull market at this point, and are we headed towards a possible correction, which is a 20 percent drop. Now, we're still far away from that, but that's the big question going forward. But one thing is for sure, volatility is back. We saw the VIX, the Volatility Index, definitely bouncing around all week, but the party is over. As you pointed out, this is the second time this week we've seen a thousand point drop, and it's pretty hard and fast, and that is troubling some people in the market.
TAPPER: Ted, you're a veteran trader. Where do you think things go from here? Is it time to be worried?
TED WEISBERG, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, SEAPORT SECURITIES: Well, I think, you know, if you deal with any asset class, in particular, this asset class, and I've been doing it for slightly more than 50 years, I think you're always worried, no matter where the markets are. But, though, I hate to disagree with your guest --
TAPPER: Please do. Go ahead. We have lots of different viewpoints. Go ahead.
WEISBERG: I would simply say that the party is not over. The party is never over. We're simply going to trade stocks from different levels. You know, we have -- this is a market that clearly has not had any kind of meaningful correction. I mean, you can go all the way back to the trading lows of March of 2009 when the Dow was 6500. We're now even after tonight's close at Dow 24,000 or slightly below, so by any measurement, the market has had a huge move, trees don't grow to the sky, there's nothing rational about Stock Markets and the price of the stocks. They get overdone on the upside, they get overdone at the downside. Clearly, we were due for some kind of correction. I'm not quite ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. Perhaps she's right, but I think it's a little premature.
TAPPER: All right, Ted Weisberg, Christina Alesci, I appreciate you both being here. Thanks so much. Coming up next, she gave a voice to the more than 200 survivors of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. My conversation with gold medal Gymnast Aly Raisman and what she revealing for the first time about those who may have turned a blind eye to Nassar's sick behavior.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: The "SPORTS LEAD" now. Tomorrow morning, the world will be watching the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Americans will be cheering for their athletes, but there is a cloud over the U.S. Olympic committee after the biggest scandal in sports history. More than 250 gymnasts sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics and Olympic Doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar's systematic and rampant behavior was ignored for years, and, today, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, who survived years of Nassar's abuse told us that the U.S. Olympic Committee needs to begin a truly independent investigation. And she told us for the first time about an incident where an Olympic coach may have heard about Nassar's abuse five years before the scandal went public.
TAPPER: Gold medalist, Aly Raisman, says she'll be enthusiastically cheer on team USA at the opening ceremonies tomorrow, but she also says the officials at the U.S. Olympic Committee have betrayed the athletes.
ALY RAISMAN, OLYMPIC GYMNAST: I was abused at the Olympics. Larry Nassar was the Olympic Doctor. They are very, very much responsible for this, and Larry Nassar helped create policies with USA Gymnastics in the United States, so they need to look at that and change everything, because, obviously, Larry's a monster. So a monster was able to create their policies that are still in place right now.
TAPPER: Days ago, the Olympic Committee hired a law firm to conduct what they call an independent investigation, and to who knew what about Nassar's abuse, and when. But Raisman is skeptical that this investigation will go far enough.
RAISMAN: This should have never, ever happened. You know, if one adult listened or had the character to act, you know, we would have never met him.
TAPPER: And now Raisman is revealing for the first time that the man who coached the 2012 gold medal Olympic team known as the fierce five, might have known about the abuse years before it was reported to USA Gymnastics, the Olympic Committee, or the FBI.
[16:55:00] RAISMAN: We would talk about it amongst ourselves and one of my teammates described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her the night before, and John Geddert was in the car with us, and he didn't say anything. I don't know what he did or didn't do from there, I know he did not ask us any questions, but that just is why we need the full independent investigation to really get to the bottom of who knew about this.
TAPPER: And this was 2011?
TAPPER: This was five years before Nassar was caught.
TAPPER: That coach John Geddert has since retired, law enforcement in Michigan say they are investigating complaints against him, but refused to describe the nature of the complaints to CNN. Geddert's lawyer did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
RAISMAN: We need to get to the bottom of everything. You know, why did so many people not care and why did so many people look the other way?
TAPPER: The culture of inaction Raisman says, stretched to the U.S. Olympic Committee,the organization created to, "help American athletes achieve excellence." In 2016, the Committee brought in 339 million dollars, mostly from selling rights to use the Olympic rings and to broadcast the games. Nassar was abusing patients through 2016, but new reporting from the Wall Street Journal reveals that the CEO of the Olympic Committee, Scott Blackmun was alerted in July 2015 to reports that an Olympic Gymnast had alleged abuse by a team doctor. The U.S. Olympic Committee tells CNN, "we learned in 2015 of a doctor potentially having abused an athlete, and that was reported to the FBI. That's what is supposed to happen." The FBI, however, did not interview Aly Raisman until September 2016. During this period, according to the New York Times, at least 40 additional girls and young women were abused by Nassar. The U.S. Olympic Committee said they were following procedures the FBI was investigating, what's your response?
RAISMAN: When I was first contacted by the FBI in August of 2016, and I met with them in September of 2016, you know, I had asked them, why are you contacting me this late? What's going on? You know, I had notified you at the gymnastics in July of 2015, and they said that they first were aware of Nassar in April of2016. I want answers. That's unacceptable. That never ever should have happened.
TAPPER: Blackmun refused to talk to CNN, but it's not the first time the U.S. Olympic Committee has come under fire during his tenure, with abuse scandals also rocking the Olympic speed skating and taekwondo teams. Now Congress says it merits special investigations.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: I was disgusted. I was outraged. And I join Senator Shaheen in calling for Scott Blackmun's resignation.
TAPPER: Do you have confidence in Scott Blackmun?
RAISMAN: Well, I think, to be a good leader, you have to have character and you have to be a good person and do the right thing. And I don't think he is any of those things. I don't really understand why he hasn't reached out to any of us, you know, if he really cared and really wanted to get to the bottom of this, he would have reached out a long time ago. But, you know, it just shows from always, it's always been about the reputation, medals, and money for them.
TAPPER: How are you doing now?
RAISMAN: I think every day I cope differently with it. I feel -- I would say I'm very tired a lot. I'm just really trying to listen to my body. You know, some days I feel good and I'll do workout, other days I wake up and I just -- I can't even get through a ten-minute walk. And I -- and I'm -- that's crazy for me to say being an Olympic athlete, but I just think people need to understand that the stress and trauma, it is so exhausting. I would love for USA Gymnastics and USOC to hear this loud and clear, is that since they only care about is medals, reputation, and money, if we were that successful while we were being molested, wouldn't we have been more successful if we had the right doctor that actually helped heal our injuries that did not traumatize us. And if we had people around us that genuinely wanted to help us and were weren't doing well out of fear.
TAPPER: Senators Ernst and Shaheen have bipartisan support to create a special committee to investigate how the abuse allegations were handled, but no promises yet from Senate Leadership. Our thanks to Aly Raisman and her family. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD today. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."