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Trump Criticized For Praising Former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter; White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter Wife- Beating Allegations; "FOX News" Controversial Olympic Comment; Aly Raisman Speaks Out About Olympic Gymnast Sexual Abuse. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired February 9, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. So you'll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well, did a very good job while he was at the White House.
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BALDWIN: President Trump today there at the White House. Again, praising his former aide, Rob Porter, after Porter resigned as White House Staff Secretary once domestic violence allegations against him went public. Also now new moments ago, former Vice President Joe Biden reacted to those comments in Indianapolis.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: What disturbs me the most is that knowing the fellow didn't get clearance because of allegations and proof of sexual abuse and stay away orders years earlier, the rationale apparently was -- and I don't know. Apparently was what you see in the press, but he did a good job. He was really good at his job.
I just read before I walked on stage, a statement from the President saying he wishes him luck. He has so much talent. That's like saying that ax murder out there, he's a great painter. No think -- translate this into everyday terms. Is there any other crime as a crime where there would be an explanation of the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something.
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BALDWIN: Lets have a conversation. Here with me "CNN" analyst and "Politico's" national political reporter Eliana Johnson, "Washington Post" columnist Cathreine Rampell, and "CNN" political commentator Ana Navarro. Ana Navarro beginning with you, and if we could just hone in on the President's comments, and I've said it before, I'll say it again, I think that it is appalling that the President did not mention the women. ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not only appalling that
he doesn't mention the women. It's appalling that his only words of empathy and sympathy are towards the perpetrator of violence against women. That part is -- you know, it should be shocking but sadly it no longer is. I think, for a lot of Americans, including myself.
This is the President who chose to stand with Roy Moore instead of the victims of his sexual assault. This is the President who, time and again, does this. We don't look for him anymore -- we don't look toward the White House anymore for any sort of moral clarity or moral leadership. It is -- you know, it is modus operandi, status quo for this White House to stand with those who commit the act, not the ones who suffer the consequences and suffer the pain of it.
He's thinking about how sad Rob Porter is. He's talking about the tough days that Rob Porter is having. How about the tough days of the women who had to endure the violence, who had the black eyes, who had to live in fear? How about all the people, all the women and men? Because there's also men involved, all the women and men out there in America today who are wondering how they can get out of abusive relationships, how they can survive something like this?
Look, I think that we've learned so much from this experience. First of all, its one of the silver linings is that we're talking about domestic abuse, that it is on a national platform. We have learned the importance of evidence. Had that picture not existed, Rob Porter would probably still be in the White House. Because of that picture of the black eye, the entire narrative changed and what had been denied for a year, what had been looked and overlooked for a year became undeniable.
BALDWIN: So true, so true with the photo.
NAVARRO: It's just so grotesque.
BALDWIN: Elaina, to you. And here is my -- my question is, your reporting when we talk about the President's relationship with Rob Porter. He traveled with him, Davos, Beijing. You talked to an adviser who said what? Between his resume, Oxford, Rhodes scholar, Harvard that the President even saw him as a potential Supreme Court pick one day?
ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I should emphasize the President was saying that in jest. But some of these academic credentials, as we've seen, are incredibly important to the President. And he was certainly impressed by Rob Porter's academic credentials.
So my reporting turned up an anecdote where the President said in jest to Gary Cohen that Rob Porter as a Staff Secretary he handled all the papers that went to the President. And the President said you know I thought he was just a guy who handed me papers and then I realized he was the smartest guy in the White House. So he continued to Gary Cohen, he was a Rhodes scholar and Neil Gorsuch wasn't even a Rhodes scholar. Gorsuch was of course a Marshal scholar who spent two years at Oxford.
But the Marshall scholarship isn't quite as prestigious as the Rhodes scholarship. And so the President joked to Gary Cohen maybe Rob Porter will be my next Supreme Court pick.
But I wrote that and repeat it now to underscore that Rob Porter was somebody who the President didn't know before he became a staffer in the White House, but who the President grew to like and respect, in part, because he considered him an incredibly well educated, and intelligent, and competent Presidential aide.
BALDWIN: What are you thinking about all of this?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST THE WASHINGTON POST: Look this is a President as Ana said, who has defended an accused child molester. He's also defended Neo-Nazis. So should we really be surprised that his first reaction, his first instinct is to defend a guy who's accused of being a wives beater. Not wife beater, wives beater, plural.
The instinct of this White House is to circle the wagons and to say we're going to smear the women who were making the accUSAtions and even in the face of photographic evidence - the conversation earlier was about how we -- it's so great we have this photo, that otherwise we wouldn't know about this. The FBI had this photo a year ago! So it's not as if this is new information. It's just public now. That's the difference.
BALDWIN: And a year ago, Elaina, I want to come back to you. Because we also know - I think missing in this conversation today, Don McGahn, the White House counsel, he knew a year ago, because the FBI knew a year ago about the allegations coming from these ex-wives. I'm just curious what you're hearing as far as, as a lawyer with this knowledge, what was he supposed to have done with it, do you know?
JOHNSON: You know, Don Mcgahn the White House counsel, who has a close relationship with the President but also has developed a very close relationship with Chief of Staff John Kelly. He's really becoming a central player in this saga. He knew a year ago that there were troubling allegations that were bound to come up from Rob Porter's ex-wives. That was something that Rob Porter told him.
He then knew what the allegations from the ex-wives were and he spoke to an ex-girlfriend of Rob Porter's. Politico reported on Tuesday evening that one of those ex-girlfriends had reached out to Don McGahn and spoken to him by phone. I am told that he really didn't know what to do with that information that the ex-girlfriend had communicated to him.
But more and more, it does seem like the three players in the White House whose interest and responsibility for this misjudgment is centering on are the White House counsel Don McGahn, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Communications Director Hope Hicks, who certainly doesn't bear responsibility for this decision but who -- as somebody who is so close to the President and to have served with him longer than anybody else, is becoming a central player in this drama.
BALDWIN: That's where I want to end on, Hope Hicks. Go ahead, Ana Navarro.
NAVARRO: That one of the - to me that's one of the astounding things. When I think how hard it's got to be to get through to the White House Counsel. And yet this girlfriend felt so strongly about this that she did. The women in this case did the right thing, the courageous thing, the brave thing.
They talked to the FBI despite, you know, their ex-husband, despite their ex-boyfriend being in a place of power and having beat them up, having manipulated them. They came forward and they told the truth. And the process failed them. The powers that be in the White House failed them. That it took a year and a picture is frankly inexcusable.
And something that, you know, whether you are republican, a democrat, whether you're a Trump supporter or you are not, this should not be about this. This is so simple. This is so simple about right and wrong. We should all be outraged today. That for a year they sat on this information while this man, who was vulnerable to blackmail, mind you, because there were people who knew this.
Had access to the White House, to the President, to sensitive information without having a security clearance. And, you know, if this were happening in a democratic White House with republicans in congress, republicans would be calling for investigations today, they would want to know who many people.
BALDWIN: How about happening in corporate America? If this were happening in corporate America, bye-bye.
BALDWIN: That's all I'm saying. Amen to you, Ana Navarro. Thank you so much Ana, and Elaina, and Catherine, thank you. Still ahead Team USA the most diverse group of athletes we have ever seen sent to the Winter Olympics. So why a "FOX" news executive says that that is not something that should be highlighted or even discussed, And why that executive controversial opinion piece has suddenly been scrubbed from their website. Something has gone wrong, it reads. What is up with that? We're going to talk about it.
BALDWIN: Okay today is the first day of the Winter Olympics and Team USA is already breaking records. The US Olympic committee says this is the most diverse of any US Winter squad. Figure skater Adam Rippon posted this tweet from the opening ceremony, quoting him representing the USA is one of the greatest honors of my life and being able to do it as my authentic self makes it all so much sweeter.
He is one of the first openly gay Americans to qualify for the Winter Olympics but an executive over at "FOX News" doesn't exactly think diversity is worth celebrating. I'm just going to let his words speak for themselves. I'll read this for you. Quote, he writes, unless it's changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics since 19 -- excuse me, 1894 has been faster, higher, stronger. It appears the US Olympic committee would like to change that to darker, gayer, different.
A USOC official was quoted this week expressing pride, what else, about taking the most diverse US Squad ever to the Winter Olympics. That was followed by a frankly embarrassing laundry list of how many African Americans, Asians, and openly gay athletes are on this year's US Team. No sport that we are aware of awards points or medals for skin color or sexual orientation.
What? This afternoon, "FOX News" removed that opinion piece from its website after receiving mounting criticism. "CNN" senior media reporter Oliver Darcy joins me now. To insinuate that someone would have been chosen for Team USA because of their diversity, right, other than their own athletic prowess and ability is insane.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: I'm not sure if he understands how it works, how you get to the Olympics. It's not a college application.
BALDWIN: It's not like affirmative action.
DARCY: No, no. These athletes have been working their whole lives. They've devoted their whole lives getting to the Olympics, they've qualified for the Olympics and now they're going. He's somewhat perplexed that they're celebrating the diversity of team USA. Which is something I think we should all celebrate right? It makes no sense.
BALDWIN: Totally, so that was on the website. They removed it. It got scrubbed and now the "FOX" - "FOX" is saying, quote John Moody's column does not reflect the views or values of "FOX News". Hello! Why post it in the first place?
DARCY: Right how did it get up in the first place? And "FOX" is not responding to our comments and neither is Moody. But did he just publish it in on the website?
This is a "FOX News" executive to. He's the Executive Editor of "FOX News". So it's kind of confusing. Why is he publishing stuff on the website that doesn't reflect the company's views? How did it go up there?
BALDWIN: You have to go through editors and all kinds of people to get something (up there).
DARCY: And if it went through an editor, is the editor being disciplined for publishing something that doesn't reflect the views of "FOX News"? Why doesn't the executive at "FOX News" know the views of his own company? It's extremely perplexing.
BALDWIN: It's perplexing and its and I'm just glad it's gone.
DARCY: I think a lot of people are with you.
BALDWIN: Oliver, thank you so much.
DARCY: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Oliver Darcy. Coming up next, the Dow on the verge of its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis another volatile day as we are officially in correction territory. Will it get worse before it gets better?
BALDWIN: With the Winter Games officially underway in South Korea, Americans will be cheering on of course for our athletes. But there is a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the US Olympic committee after more than 200 girls and women came forward to speak about sexual abuse at the hands of the former USA gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar.
The Olympic Committee is under fire not acting at all quickly enough on those complaints. And Olympic Gold Medalist Aly Raisman who survived years of Nassar's abuse spoke exclusively to "CNN's" Jake Tapper and she told Jake about the first time, about an incident where an Olympic coach may have heard about the Nassar's abuse five years before the scandal went public.
JAKE TAPPAR, CNN HOST: From my reporting, I understand that in 2011, one of your fellow athletes in a car with somebody who would go on to be an Olympic coach, talked about Nassar abusing her.
ALI RAISMAN, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Yes when I was in the car with her, like I said, we would talk about it amongst ourselves. One of my teammates described in graphic detail what Nassar had done to her the night before. And John Getter was in the car with us. And he just didn't say anything. I don't know what he did or didn't do from there. I know he didn't ask us any questions. But that just is why we need the full independent investigation to really get to the bottom of who knew.
BALDWIN: That's the thing Jake Tappar. On this story and other stories, it's not just the key player, in this case Dr. Nassar. It is all the other people who would have known and didn't say a damn thing. So what may happen about them?
TAPPAR: It was incredible; well first of all we should just note that Aly Raisman is calling for a full investigation, a full independent investigation. The US Olympic Committee has a law firm engaged in investigation but the scope is fairly narrow. There is no evidence that the report is going to be released to the public without being edited or censored in the any way, and in addition there's no charge that this law firm will have access to all e-mails or all data, anything they might need. You might remember when Louie Freeh the former FBI director was put in charge of the Sandusky investigation at Penn State. Penn State basically said we're putting you in charge of it, what ever you need, who ever you need to talk to we're cooperating. That is not what the US Olympic committee is doing. And let's be frank, let's call a spade a spade.
TAPPER: This is the biggest scandal in the history of sports and the US Olympic Committee hasn't even reached out to Aly Raisman or her fellow gymnasts, its unconscionable.
BALDWIN: What just -- I don't know how long you got to sit and talk on her. I think she is totally a hero for being so public about this. What was your big takeaway?
TAPPER: My biggest take away was that there was a tremendous amount of denial and perhaps even complicity in the US Olympic Committee and USA gymnastics supporting Nassar. That possibly the reason that they supported him was because he went along with whatever they wanted. So they wanted somebody who was injured to be cleared to compete, he would do it.
He wasn't exactly vigilant when it came to the starvation diets these young women, these girls were put on. So he was a yes man for them so they gave him whatever he wanted including apparently looking to other way. I just find it remarkable that this man who is the CEO of the US Olympic Committee hasn't even reached out to these young girls. What kind of a person doesn't even call them to find out how they're doing?
BALDWIN: I know we can watch the rest of your interview go to cnn.com Jake Tapper thank you so much.
TAPPER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: I agree and we'll see you at the top of the hour on the lead. Meantime, here more on our breaking news the President defending his former aid the one accused of domestic abuse and doesn't mention a single word about the women. Stand by for new details next.
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