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Stocks Set to Rally; Trump to Unveil Infrastructure Plan; White House Standing by Kelly; Baghdadi Wounded in May. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired February 12, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Closing bell. Stocks closed up after a terrible week. Last week was a terrible week. We still have the S&P 500 down 8.8 percent from its record hit on January 26th. And this morning it looks as though investors want to buy stocks. Maybe a couple 100 points here higher on the Dow Jones Industrial average will pop up there.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As if -- as if it was planned.


BERMAN: You say, we should get a couple hundred points, then it goes 160 as you're saying it.

ROMANS: Yes, it should pop here. And here's -- here's why. You've got a big inflation debate happening right now among stock market participants. You have seen the bond market move here. You have seen bond yields rise to the highest they've been in several years because there is a feeling that inflation is finally going to come back into the economy.

And we've seen it already in wage inflation. That was what really started this period of volatility in the stock market. But will it continue? Will there be enough inflation maybe to surpass the Fed's inflation targets? We just don't know yet. So I think until you really see a trend established in inflation in the bond market, you're going to see a stock market that's going to be a little bit choppy here.

BERMAN: Two hundred and fifty right now.

All right, Christine Romans, the president's going to introduce this infrastructure plan. It's not a highly developed infrastructure plan. Does the market take it seriously?

ROMANS: They don't really take it seriously quite yet. It's because it's $200 billion of federal spending, right, and some of those are new loan guarantees. It's maybe $50 billion directly to rural states. That could be a really great red state advantage.

But they're expecting that state and local governments are going to kick in and private investors will kick in.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: And we just don't know what the funding mechanism yet is about. And that's by design. That's for Congress to figure out.

We do need some infrastructure improvements. We really do.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: The Chamber of Commerce, interestingly, saying, hey, by the way, we need to keep DACA workers and temporary protected status people and all kinds of classes of immigrants because even if you had a trillion and a half dollars, an easy passage of all of the projects you want to do, we don't have the workers to do it.

BERMAN: I will also note, an infrastructure plan, stimulus inflationary and it adds to this whole thing.

ROMANS: Yes, it does.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

The president is set to unveil this infrastructure and budget plan today, as we were just talking about. But, obviously, right now inside the White House there are questions about how it has handled these accusations of domestic abuse.

Joining me now to discuss, Nanette Diaz Barragan, a first term Democratic member of Congress from California.

Representatives, thank you so much for being with us.

Let me just ask you frankly right here at the top, should the president fire John Kelly?

REP. NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think there -- from what we're hearing and what the allegations have been of -- I think we need more information about what he knew and when he knew it. But I think there are indicators pointing to the fact that this chief of staff should consider resigning.

It's very disturbing on how this was handled. It appears that the FBI flagged that there was an issue and there was a problem and it doesn't look like there was any follow-through or any follow-up. That due process that the president was talking about wasn't done in his own White House.

Had they done a due process, I think Kelly would have seen those photos. He said he never saw them and here we are. Now at a time he sees them, and there's been so many change of stories, it's kind of hard to follow.

I think it's all --

BERMAN: You say -- you say that chief of staff should consider resigning. Again, the question is, the president could ask him to leave. The evidence seems to be that in the fall we were told -- CNN has been told that he was -- you know, the chief of staff was told in November that there were some allegations against Rob Porter. And then in the days surrounding the release of this article, it almost definitely seems that he knew something. Is that not enough for the president to take action here?

BARRAGAN: Well, I -- you know, the Congress has actually sent a number of inquiries to the White House to find out more about their security clearance process and we haven't gotten answers to that. I think if it's true, that Kelly knew about what had -- what was happening here, if he knew about these allegations and he knew as much as we think he knew, then he should resign.

This is a real stain, not just on this White House, but on the country and on the Me Too movement.

BERMAN: You brought up the security issue here. Look, there's the -- there's a very important societal moral issue about domestic abuse, but there's also a security issue here where this guy did not have a full security clearance and there may be a dozen people still inside the White House without said security clearance. Do you have concerns? What are your concerns about the way this White House handles potentially sensitive information?

BARRAGAN: Well, it's a huge concern for me. Look, I sit on Homeland Security. I have myself to go into classified briefings. I can't discuss that information with my own chief of staff and other staff members. And it's a crime to be sharing information with people who don't have that clearance. And so here we have a White House that has no great process as we're hearing and they have no follow through in making sure that they're having their own people follow up on these red flags that the FBI is having.

Having people have access to classified information and our nation's secrets is a real concern on the way this is being handled by the White House, which I think is why it's so important that Congress be involved and that Congress have oversight on this White House.

[09:35:07] BERMAN: Again, he had temporary clearance. I'm not sure anyone's suggesting that a law was broken by him seeing this information. It's more about the long-term implications of the fact that he didn't have the full clearance.

Let me just read you an op-ed from Jennie Willoughby, who, of course, was the second wife of Rob Porter, who has accused Porter of domestic abuse. She responded to the fact that the president spoke out in defense of Rob Porter.

She says, ultimately this is not a political issue. This is a societal issue. And the tone has just been reset by the White House. If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?

Your reaction to her broader statement here, the effect of this in this country.

BARRAGAN: Well, I read it and I have to say it was pretty powerful. And she's absolutely right. This is sending the wrong message. Look, domestic violence is a serious problem in this country. I think the statistics say something like 20 people per minute are suffering physical abuse from their intimate partners. Here is an opportunity to talk about a societal issue, which is huge. And what kind of a signal is this sending to women who are suffering at the hands of domestic abuse and sexual harassment?

Look, it reminds me of the letter that was sent out by 200 women in the national security space saying that they were suffering instances within their own agencies of sexual harassment even when there's policies in place. So this is not a political issue. It really is a bipartisan issue and it's one that Congress needs to take up.

BERMAN: Right.

BARRAGAN: But it's also one that this president needs to provide some leadership on, which is hard to do when you have one alleged abuser defending another alleged abuser.

BERMAN: Let me just ask you quickly. The Senate's going to take up immigration tonight. Do you think that the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate have handled this well? You voted against the spending bill because of your concerns that it did not include any provisions on immigration.

BARRAGAN: Well, there's no doubt within our communities we're hearing that the Senate Democratic leadership feels that they've turned their back on our community. I feel that this hasn't been enough of a priority. Look, this is a top issue for me. I have a district that's 70 percent Latino. There's 800,000 dreamers who today are suffering, who are -- have anxiety, fear, not knowing what's going to happen and so this is an issue really that we need to get back to Congress. We need to make a focus and we need to find a solution.

I think it was a real mistake that we didn't use the leverage we had in the last spending bill. We have a couple opportunities coming up, maybe one, and I think we need to continue to use that. And Congress needs to stay there until we get this done.

BERMAN: Right.

All right, Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

BARRAGAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: A new twist in the hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist. Sources reveal to CNN that the leader of ISIS was injured in an air strike. We have exclusive new details ahead.


[09:42:15] BERMAN: All right, this morning, a CNN exclusive. We've learned that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was injured in an air strike last May. Sources tell CNN that Baghdadi had to give up control for ISIS for as long as five months.

Nick Paton Walsh following these developments for us, live from London. Nick, what are you learning?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, particularly key because of the little amount of information we have, frankly, about al Baghdadi's whereabouts altogether in the past four years that he's sort of been the public figurehead of ISIS.

Now this air strike, we don't know who was behind the air strike, whether it targeted Baghdadi itself, occurred near Raqqa, as you say, in May of last year. And it was unclear whether -- to say he was the target or whether he was, quote, collateral damage, according to the U.S. officials I spoke to. But the injuries were significant enough that he had to give up his sort of day-to-day role as the head of the organization for about four or five months.

A key time, though, because that was when their so-called capital, Raqqa, was being encircled by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces and also, too, when they were down to their last sort of square miles or so of Mosul, the key city in Iraq they also held.

What's also important is that around that time, too, the Russian government came forward and said that they thought they killed or injured him. Now, the stage, because the Americans don't have a precise date in which the injury occurred, they can't tell who was behind the air strike. They strike more often about Raqqa at that particular time than the isolationism (ph) which the Russians did and these U.S. officials don't hold much up toward that initial Russian claim.

But they have pretty strong confidence on this piece of information because it comes from ISIS detainees and refugees interrogated by those Syrian Kurds, the SDF, as they're known, who have been fighting to clear ISIS out of that area of Syria. And also to finally -- they have their best hunch, their best guess at this particular point, is that Baghdadi is both still alive and possibly in the Syrian-Iraqi border area known as the Jazeria (ph). It's a huge flat, open expanse of desert, sparsely populated. That's where they think he might be hiding out now. Still, a vital figurehead really. The last remaining perhaps symbolic totem of ISIS now they've lost so much of their caliphate and, frankly, the world's most wanted man.


BERMAN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh for us. Very interesting. Thanks so much for that, Nick.

Emergency workers have begun to recover the remains of those on board a Russian passenger plane that crashed near Moscow. The flight recorders have also been found. The crew of this Airtop (ph) Airlines flight did not report any problems before it went down shortly after takeoff. Seventy-one people were killed. Moscow is experiencing its heaviest snowfall in decades. Not clear at this point if weather played a role.

The lights are starting to come back on this morning after an explosion and fire caused a blackout in parts of northern Puerto Rico, including the city of San Juan. Officials say this happened after mechanical failure at a power substation. The fire was quickly extinguished, but not to other substations offline. This is just the latest setbacks in the island's effort to restore power more than five months after Hurricane Maria hit.

[09:45:10] All right, another CNN exclusive. A major medical insurance company under investigation this morning after the former medical director of Aetna confessed he had never read patients records when deciding whether to approve or denying care. Dr. Jay Ken Linuma admitted under oath that he ignored vital patient information. Now the state of California is investigating how widespread this practice is.

So what happened to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in college that now has the Supreme Court justice saying Me Too. You have to check out this wonderful interview with our very own Poppy Harlow. That's next.


[09:50:11] BERMAN: Ruther Bader Ginsburg says Me Too. The Supreme Court justice just sat down with our very own Poppy Harlow, opening up about one of her own experiences.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, "NEWSROOM": Let's begin with the Me Too movement. A moment where sexual harassment has thankfully come to the fore, action is being taken, we are talking about it, doing something about it. But you lived this as a college student. You lived sexual harassment. You say, we didn't call it that at the time. We didn't have a word for it.

What happened to you and how did you respond?

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT: I can tell just one of many stories. I was at Cornell University. I was taking a chemistry course. I was not very good in the lab work.

HARLOW: Neither was I.

GINSBERG: So the instructor who helped me get through. And when it came -- when exam time came around, he said, I'll give you a practice exam. And I went in very confident that I'd be able to deal with the exam the next day. It turned out it was the practice exam. And I knew just what he expected in return. There were many incidents like that, but in those days the attitude was, what can we do about it? Nothing. Boys will be boys.

HARLOW: But I don't think you're someone who just did nothing about it.

GINSBERG: No, in this case, I said, how dare you? And it was a challenge for me because I had to make some mistakes that I wouldn't get 100 percent on the exam.

HARLOW: But you spoke up.


HARLOW: You spoke up.

I worry a little bit, and I wonder if you worry about backlash as a result of the Me Too movement. And by that I mean, you know, we certainly read a lot of accounts of some women feeling as though they can no longer -- they were no longer being invited on work trips along with their male colleagues, or to the dinners that their male colleagues because there is a fear that it may be perceived the wrong way. Can you speak about any concern you have about backlash and any advice you have for women that are dealing with it?

GINSBERG: I don't think that there will be a serious backlash. It's too widespread. My concern is that it shouldn't stop with prominent people, people like you, people in the media, that it should protect this new attitude, to protect the maid who works at a hotel.


GINSBERG: And I think it is spreading so far. Yes, there will always be adjustments when there's a transition. But on the whole, it's amazing to me that for the first time women are really listened to because sexual harassment had often been dismissed as, well, she made it up, or, she's too thin skinned. So I think it's very healthy development.

HARLOW: Is Washington listening? Is Washington listening? Congress? Are they listening and acting fast enough?

GINSBERG: Is this Congress acting fast enough?

HARLOW: Congress.

GINSBERG: Congress is not acting. But we will get past this time of inaction.

HARLOW: So that's a no, inaction. That's a no.

GINSBERG: I mean, it's been very hard even to keep the government going lately.


BERMAN: So Justice Ginsburg does not publicly comment on the president, but she did respond to the president's attack on the judiciary, saying, quote, an independent judiciary is one of the nation's hallmarks.

[09:55:00] You can see much more of Poppy's interview with Justice Ginsburg at Check it out. It is very good. There's a lot there.

Just minutes from now, a rare appearance from former President Obama, and just down the street from the White House. You're looking at live pictures. Will the former president speak? We will take you there.


BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

[09:59:52] Confusion inside the White House. Where does the president stand on domestic abuse? It's stunning you even have to ask that question. Even more so because it is members of his own team, the president's own team, now asking that question. They're telling CNN, they are deeply confused about how the president has handled the allegations of domestic abuse against former White House staffer Rob Porter.