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Omarosa Speaking Out; Did White House Chief of Staff Ignore Abuse Allegations Against White House Staff Secretary?; Mike Pence in South Korea. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Porter denies all the abuse allegations against him.

But here is some of what his second wife had to share with "The Washington Post" about her relationship with Porter.


JENNIFER WILLOUGHBY, EX-WIFE OF ROB PORTER: Rob wasn't finished fighting, I suppose. At that point, he was still angry.

And so he came and grabbed me by the shoulders here and pulled me out of the shower in a rage, and, immediately, on seeing the terror in my face retracted and apologized and changed composure immediately.

But that was -- that was the first time that he had laid hands on me.

I told them all of the details my marriage, including verbal and emotional abuse and including the incident when he pulled me out of the shower.

They were also made aware of the protective order that I signed in June of 2010. And they were also made aware of another time when I had called the police to our home after a domestic disturbance.


BALDWIN: With me now, Erin Gloria Ryan, senior editor at The Daily Beast, CNN political analyst Joshua Green, who is a also a national correspondent at "Bloomberg Businessweek," and our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

And, so, Gloria, months ago, we're hearing, I think it was early last fall, when several top brass at the White House, including Kelly, not the president, but Kelly, had heard Porter was having some issues getting that full security clearance, and that his ex-wives had reported this abuse.

Obviously, the question, why didn't Kelly take any action? Is it surprising, just given what we know about John Kelly?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's surprising on a lot of levels, because even if Porter were misleading Kelly, if Kelly spoke with him about it, et cetera, you still had an FBI document which had red flags all over it, including a restraining order against one of his, you know, ex-wives.

And so I think that this tells us -- and we will have to -- you know, I think we're awaiting a fuller explanation from the chief of staff, because he certainly owes one to everyone, which is if he had this FBI report, if he knew about it and he talked to Rob Porter about it, why did he take his word over the FBI?

BALDWIN: It's a great question.

BORGER: And I don't think we know the answer to that.

And then what Dana Bash and I learned last night was that the president didn't know about this. Now, Rob Porter's job is being the president's shadow, effectively. He is attached to him. And so this is a big question, because somebody who is looking at classified documents, passing along classified documents to the president of the United States could be subject to blackmail.

You then have to ask the national security question about how this could happen.

BALDWIN: Another question I'm asking, Erin, to you, is, did it really take this woman's black eye for people to -- you know, despite what the FBI had been reporting months ago, for people finally at the White House to believe her?

ERIN GLORIA RYAN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it's pretty horrifying to me just in general. But I think it's part of a pattern that this White House has established.

This White House has, for a while, sided with men who have been accused of horrible things, horrible behavior towards women, from Corey Lewandowski Lewandowski to Roy Moore, and now to Rob Porter, which is really upsetting to me.

Second thing I want to know is, when did Kelly know about this? If he knew about it in early fall, I recall a press conference he gave on October 19 -- I remember it was October 19 because it was right after the Weinstein story broke -- where Kelly, very sanctimoniously, lectured the press about how women used to be sacred in his day, and he wishes we could go back to that time.

So, I'm not sure which timeline makes me angrier, that he knew at that point that he had in his employ a man who had abused two of his ex- wives, or if he found afterwards, and didn't do anything about it.


Let me play some sound. This is one Democratic Jon Tester talking to Chris Cuomo here on CNN.


SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: If he John Kelly is covering this up, he needs to be held accountable, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What would that mean, holding him accountable?

TESTER: Well, I mean, holding him means that he has to justify what he did, why he did it. And he better have a really good reason. Otherwise, he's gone, too.


BALDWIN: Here is someone else, Josh, I want to ask you about, the White House counsel, Don McGahn, who, according to reports, was directly warned by -- now, we have talked about the two ex-wives and their allegations of abuse.

Now there's this third woman, this ex-girlfriend, who the ex- girlfriend warned Don McGahn about the -- I guess these allegations when she found out that Porter was apparently romantically involved with Hope Hicks, which opens up a whole other can of worms.

What about Don McGahn and his role?


JOSH GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's another senior official in the White House who was, on some level, aware of the allegations of wife-beating and obviously didn't sound the alarm, didn't do anything to remove Porter from his White House job as quickly as possible, as I think any previous Republican or Democratic administration would have done.


Gloria, two sources tell CNN -- you mentioned the president, the fact that he was unaware, made aware of these allegations just this week.

Why -- and, again, we can't crawl into the minds of the top brass of the White House to understand why he would be kept in the dark, but why would he be kept in the dark? He's the president and, to your point, national security.

BORGER: Well, right.

Well, it's kind of what the chief of staff decrees to be sort of a need to know. And if he believed Rob Porter and that these were only pesky ex-wives making charges about Rob which could not possibly be true, right, if he believed that, then why would he say anything to the president?

I think that, you know, we were told this last night, that the president did not know, that he was unhappy when he saw this. But we have to get that timeline down straight and try and figure out who knew what when.

I think there are a lot of people inside the White House who believe that this wasn't handled properly, who believe that Porter may have been misleading people. And one of those people could have been the president, for all we know, or the president never asked about it.

And, you know, not everything gets to the president's desk.


BORGER: If it's considered a settled issue, then it doesn't go to the president's desk.

BALDWIN: Did you want to jump in?

GREEN: Yes, I did.

But the fact that there was a restraining order, that he failed a background check and that the White House knew about it is not something we can rush past here. I know for a fact there were administration officials and employees who lost their jobs early on in the administration because they failed a background check.

So, somebody had to have known that Rob Porter failed a background check and made the proactive decision to keep him in that White House job anyway.


BALDWIN: Like Gloria said, it's like they decided to believe Rob Porter saying not true over what the FBI was telling them.

GREEN: Or just to ignore the fact that he might have had this problem in his background. They didn't care.

And if you look at John Kelly's first statement yesterday, he essentially shrugged, said, I think this is a fine young man.


BALDWIN: Then he said he was shocked.

RYAN: Right.

BORGER: Well --

GREEN: Well, that was the second statement.

BALDWIN: Right. Right.

GREEN: But said, everybody thinks this is a nice young man. I will vouch for his character. And they were encouraging him to hang on.

BALDWIN: But how can he be shocked if he knew about these allegations back in the fall?

GREEN: Well, he can't be.

BALDWIN: That's what I'm saying.

GREEN: And there is the Trump White House's problem and what they need to answer for maybe in the briefing today.

Or I think, even better, John Kelly himself ought to march out and explain what he did and didn't know.


BALDWIN: Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Right. And there are other people in the White House who might have read the FBI report who work for John Kelly who might have told him generally what was in it, and then Kelly made the decision either not to look at it directly -- I'm not -- I'm just saying this is also a possibility --


BORGER: -- that someone ran by me, that maybe Kelly decided not to look at it directly, believed Rob Porter.

But this person I was talking to also made the point, as Josh was talking about earlier, then that means there are different standards for people who are needed and higher up than there are for people who are lower down the food chain, which doesn't make any sense, because, honestly, Rob Porter was closer to classified information than any of those other people are going to get.

BALDWIN: What about Hope Hicks?

Here she's again reportedly romantically linked to these guy. You have these over-the-top statements coming out of the White House. She is the White House director of communications. Obviously, she was integral in crafting those statements -- #blurredlines?

RYAN: Yes.

I actually -- this whole thing served as a microcosm that helped me understand why so many Trump businesses have declared bankruptcy, because if this is how they're running things, if they're allowing people who are romantically involved to draft statements in defense of each other, it is -- it's madness.

I can't imagine how toxic the work environment would be for anybody, especially for Hope Hicks and for the people who had to work below her and work with her on this.

BALDWIN: As Gloria said, the president apparently just finding out, upset. Ivanka Trump finding out, upset as well.

Thank you so very much.

Just a heads-up here tonight. One of Porter's ex-wives joins Anderson Cooper. That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time right here on CNN.

We are moments away from that White House briefing, initially scheduled for 1:00, moved to 2:30. And now we're looking at 3:15.

Sarah Sanders' number two, Raj Shah, will be at the podium today to brief. We will take it live.

Also, former White House adviser Omarosa making some comments about her time at the White House on, of all places, "Big Brother." We are going to play the clip next.



BALDWIN: We are going to take that briefing in just a second here.

But let me show you a clip. Former "Apprentice" star turned White House aide Omarosa is now opening up about her time working at the White House for President Trump.

Omarosa, now appearing on "Celebrity Big Brother," she is not holding back about her infamous exit from the White House and she's talking openly about her stint at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


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 of the people around him attacked me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we be worried?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't say that, because we are worried, but I need you to say, no, it's going to be OK.

MANIGAULT: No, it's going to not be OK. It's not.


BALDWIN: Van Jones, host of the all-new "VAN JONES SHOW" here on CNN, here she is, back in reality TV.


BALDWIN: Hushed tones. It's not going to be OK.

JONES: Well, first of all, to say she's back in reality TV would be to say that the Trump White House is not reality television.

The Trump White House, really, it runs on reality TV principles of every day you want to have a conflict, every day you want to do something outrageous, you want to keep the ratings, keep the attention.

So, part of what's going on is that this is -- you know, this is just sort of like a spinoff, right? Omarosa just sort of now has a spinoff from the Trump show. And that's the funny part of it.

The scary part about it is, I don't think that she's acting when she is saying that. I don't think she's just saying that for the ratings. I knew her before. I know her now. She took a big risk as a person to try to go and do something good. I don't think she feels that she was as successful as she maybe would have liked to be.

BALDWIN: Do you feel for her?

JONES: I do feel for her, because I think she's now, for a while, going to get it from both sides.

She's going to have Republicans who see her as a traitor. You're going to have progressives and black people who are going to see her as maybe she was a sellout. And at same time, she has one thing that's impossible to get, which is the attention of the American public.

BALDWIN: She's got it.

JONES: And it's going to be very interesting to see what she does with it as she goes forward.

BALDWIN: Rob Porter, we just had a huge conversation about him. And we're waiting for this briefing, because, like I said, the White House has some explaining to do on this one.

JONES: Who knows.

Again, Rob Porter denies all of these accusations that we've been hearing from these ex-wives.

You worked at the White House.


BALDWIN: You know about security clearances.

JONES: A lot.

BALDWIN: Vetting.


Here is the deal. I want to be very balanced here. It is, in fact, the case that you can work in the White House for a little while, while the vetting process goes on. The reality is, when the White House first gets there, that first team, you have so much to do.

Some people, it takes a month. It might take two months to get somebody vetted.

A year? I don't care what the underlying charges are. If you have got somebody in your White House that still does not have the credential, still, and you're there a year -- and the credential is visible -- and you have been there for a year, that's not a red flag. [15:15:07]

That is a four-alarm fire. That should never happen. So, the idea that you have a White House that's being run like such a circus, that you can literally have somebody of -- I don't care who they are -- after three months, four months, somebody should say, look, I don't know what's going on, but until the FBI tells me you can be in here, sir, that is the exit.

You will not come in here as a visitor. You won't come in here with your kids until the FBI tells me it's OK, because something is desperately wrong here.

BALDWIN: Do you think John Kelly's head should roll over this?

JONES: Listen, I don't know who is going to replace him. That's part of the problem is, we don't know who is willing to go into that White House and do anything.

But I'm going to tell you, people's hearts are breaking about John Kelly. When he went in there, I heard Republicans and Democrats, huge sigh of relief. They're saying, we have got an adult in the room. Something good is going to happen.

He's out here saying dreamers are too lazy to get off their asses? Dreamers were afraid to sign up for DACA because they thought maybe it would turn out badly. He's saying those people are too lazy to get off their asses?

You don't talk that way about anybody's child. He's saying that type of stuff. He's got a White House trying to link dreamers to a street gang, which is totally nuts, and then he's going to be defending somebody?

I don't know about these underlying charges, and you don't either. But I know that no chief of staff in this country would have somebody that close to the president who the FBI can't vouch for, for a year. I don't get that. That's nuts.

BALDWIN: And the fact that he was that close to the president.

JONES: For a year.


BALDWIN: The reporting is that the president didn't know, was kept in the dark until this week and is upset about it, is upset about it.

Do you -- is that believable, that the president would be shielded from that?

JONES: It is conceivable.

Listen, I think sometimes we jump to a lot of conclusions. I remember when I worked in the White House, the six months I was there, there would be stuff that would happen, people would jump out in the newspaper, oh, this means that, and that means that and therefore this. And they didn't know what they were talking about.

So, I don't want to be in that category. All I know is, it is dangerous. John Kelly, you think adult in the room, American patriot.

BALDWIN: General.

JONES: A general, rule follower.

No, you're a rule-breaker if you let somebody stay in there the FBI won't vouch for. Listen, if somebody says, he has been there three months, I say, you know what, I'm not going to jump up and down about that. A year? A year?

The FBI cannot come and tell you this person is OK and he has been there a year, and he's two inches from the president every day? Come on now. Something is desperately wrong in that building.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about your show.


BALDWIN: All right, "THE VAN JONES SHOW." You do a segment called "Van in a Van," where you put, opposing viewpoints, all together in a van. You're driving along.


BALDWIN: And so this one -- speaking of dreamers, this is a dreamer talking to someone with legal status. Watch.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a Christian, I can say that no human is perfect, right? I can understand why somebody like Donald Trump is as ignorant as he is, because he has never had to live that struggle. He has never been an immigrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don't understand how you can go to a country and call their president ignorant and then tell him to give you legal status. I just don't understand that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to call ignorance ignorance when I see it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, why would somebody want to help you if you're treating them like that? I would be grateful for being given a chance.

JONES: That's in a dictatorship. I'm not going to pretend that I'm going to suck up to him just so he can give me legal status.


JONES: Yes, that was a very interesting conversation. Two guys that both came here at 5 years old, one with papers, one without. The one with papers is a rabid Trump supporter and the one without is obviously a big Trump critic.

And they go back and forth. And it's just fascinating to hear two guys, they literally could be the same guy, but they wound up with very, very different points of view.

BALDWIN: When can people watch your show?

JONES: Saturday, 7:00 p.m., CNN. Set your DVR. You might be out partying. I know it's Saturday night.

BALDWIN: Saturday night, you know.

JONES: But you want to set your DVR.

BALDWIN: Awesome.

Van, thank you so much.

JONES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

And special guest Meghan McCain and Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins.

JONES: He's going to be there.


JONES: And he is saying, I'm not going to go to the Trump White House. You are going to hear exactly why he's not going.

BALDWIN: How about that?

Van, thank you so much. We will be watching Saturday.

JONES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Again, we're watching and waiting for that White House briefing to begin. We are going to take it live the second we see Raj Shah behind that podium.

We can also tell you that Vice President Mike Pence, he has arrived in South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics. He is talking tough on North Korea, but there are new questions about whether he may meet with the sister of Kim Jong-un, right? She's the member of the Kim dynasty who is there on South Korean soil for the first time ever.

Might they meet? More on that coming up.


[15:24:01] BALDWIN: Vice President Mike Pence arriving in South Korea for the Winter Olympics, and he's sending already sending a pretty tough message to the Games' host, South Korea, on the nuclear threat of neighboring North Korea.

The vice president warning the U.S. wants a peaceful dismantling of North Korea's nuclear programs, but that all options are on the table.

This comes as we're hearing that the president of South Korea will meet this weekend with the sister of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, the two planning to sit down Saturday and have lunch.

And now the world is wondering, will President Moon of South Korea try to broker a meeting between the U.S. vice president and this Kim Jong- un's sister?

Let's talk it all over with Matthew Rosenberg, a CNN national security analyst and national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

Good to see you, sir.

This notion that this President Moon may push for a Pence-North Korea meeting, can you just -- what would that look like? Who would talk? What would be the demands for both sides?


MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I think there's a lot of questions there.

I mean, first of all, it would be Pence meeting with the sister of North Korea's leader.


ROSENBERG: Which is unusual, to say the least.

And exactly, you know, what parameters they're going to talk about there -- you know, the U.S. and North Korea, as much as they both say they are looking for diplomatic solutions here, the U.S. demand is there will be no talks until you agree to get rid of your nuclear weapons.

And North Korea's response is, we're not getting rid of that program until we end -- at the end of talks. And so the parameters of this are all very fluid.

BALDWIN: North Korea putting out a terse statement -- quote -- "We have no intention to meet with the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea."

So there's that.

What about, though, looking ahead, Matthew, to Saturday and this lunch between the sister of Kim Jong-un -- by the way, this is the first member of the Kim dynasty ever setting foot in South Korea, which is significant in and of itself -- the fact that she's going to be lunching with the president of South Korea, what does that look like?

ROSENBERG: I think you're looking at a bunch of factors here where the North clearly wants to create space between South Korea and the U.S., to look like that alliance is not as rock-solid as the U.S. would want to present.

And that meeting, certainly, at least at home, would play very well and might to South Koreans say, look, we're reasonable. Maybe it's your U.S. partners aren't.

I think, for South Korea, they're trying to find ways to moderate an incredibly dangerous threat on their immediate border.

BALDWIN: The U.S. tried to -- separately from North Korea, the U.S. tried to restart dialogue with Iran on U.S. prisoners held there.

State Department officials telling CNN Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon raised issues of the prisoners' health in December. Now they're trying to talk to Tehran about this.

What do you make of that?

ROSENBERG: I think that, like every administration before it, there's a deep interest in getting prisoners anywhere in the world home.

With Iran, it's obviously a special case. We have our own issues with Iran. The Trump administration has made it very clear that it thinks the deal we cut to limit Iran's nuclear weapons program was a bad deal. It wants to paint the Iranian regime as a rogue regime.

And certainly, in trying to free Americans, it also gives it a chance on what it sees as the wrongdoing of this regime and its illegitimacy.

BALDWIN: Matthew Rosenberg, thank you so much. Good to see you.

The White House briefing, again, any moment now, reporters in their seats, waiting for Raj Shah, Sarah Sanders' deputy press secretary, to brief them. So, we're going to take that, tough questions to be asked about the White House adviser that Staff Secretary Rob Porter abused of domestic abuse, and who knew what and when and why they did nothing until this week.