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Pennsylvania House Race Too Close to Call; Source: More White House Shakeups to Come; Lawsuit Filed Against Info Wars Over Conspiracy Theories; Family of Seth Rich Sues FOX News; Dog Dies in Overhead Bin on United Flight & Another Dog Mistakenly Sent to Japan. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 14, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think the candidate that's going to win this race is the candidate that ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Nancy Pelosi conservative. That's the candidate that's going to win this race. So this is something that you aren't going to see this repeated because they didn't have a primary. They're able to pick a candidate who could run as a conservative, who ran against the minority leader, who ran on a conservative agenda. You will have primaries in all these other races. And the primaries bring them to the left. I just don't think this is something you'll be able to see a repeat of.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Harry, I want to talk to you, our CNN political writer and analyst here.

Talking about all the numbers. First, though, the White House is reacting to this today. First two White House representatives telling us it's the fault of a weak candidate, in that it wasn't Trump, it was the candidate.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER & ANALYST: They're fooling themselves. They are fooling themselves. The reason we know they're fooling themselves is because you can look across all the special electrics that have occurred so far this cycle. Yes, one election, it might have been a bad candidate here, another one, a bad candidate there. The sum total, we've seen a shift to the Democratic Party. We've seen a shift upwards of 16 percentage points based upon the last two presidential votes. This district saw a slightly larger shift. Overall, a huge shift in all of them.

BALDWIN: I was looking at some of the graphs in your piece on what that could mean in November We'll get to what this could mean in a second.

You're a numbers guy. We mentioned this particular district. Can you talk about from the election in November of 2016 to today how dramatic a swing they've seen there?

ENTEN: Two ways we can look at it. Number one, you mentioned Donald Trump won this district by 20 percentage points. Conor Lamb is leading by a few hundred votes. That's a 20-point shift. At the same time, there was a congressional race. The incumbent didn't have a Democrat opponent. That's how this district is. The Democrats didn't bother running somebody. This year, they ran somebody, and that's somebody looks like he's going to win.

BALDWIN: The fact this president was in this part of Pennsylvania over the weekend, did his presence in Pennsylvania or even just his presence, period, is it an asset? Is it a liability?

ENTEN: I think it depends on the district. In this district, his approval rating is equal to his disapproval rating. I don't think he changed very many votes. The polling average had Conor Lamb up two percentage points going in and he ends up winning by -- it seems like he will win a little less than that. Perfectly normal error. The president's approval rating nationwide is around 40 percent. He is a liability in many more districts than he is helpful in.

BALDWIN: So quickly, you wrote, "When parties do well in special elections, they usually do well in the midterms and, of course, vice versa."

Looking for our political magical eight ball, what does November look like?

ENTEN: The only other year, since 1994, from which I've collected data, the only other year that looks like this year so far is 2006. If you remember, in 2006, Democrats won control of the House and flipped the Senate as well. Of course, we'll have to see and wait if this happens this year. Overall, it looks very good based on the special election results.

BALDWIN: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Ahead here, more on this story. The ex-FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, might be fired just days before his planned retirement this Sunday.

And the White House revolving door keeps spinning, as some believe President Trump is ready to clean house even more.


[14:37:41] BALDWIN: One day after a major shakeup in his cabinet with the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, those within the West Wing believe President Trump is ready to clean house even more. Trump also signaling more changes to come. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want.


BALDWIN: The president said it himself. He and Tillerson just didn't see eye to eye on very much. It seems what Trump wants the most from those in his cabinet is loyalty, something he has long prioritized in his past dealings.

We dug out a clip from Trump from 1992.


TRUMP: I would have wiped the floor with the guys who aren't loyal, which I will now do. I love getting even with people. But I will --


TRUMP: Oh, absolutely. You don't believe in eye for an eye?


TRUMP: I know you well enough, I think you do. But, anyway, but --

ROSE: But tell me. You're going to get even with some people?



TRUMP: If given the opportunity. If given the opportunity, I will get even with some people who were disloyal to me. I had a group of people that were disloyal --


ROSE: How do you define disloyal?

TRUMP: They didn't come to my aid.


BALDWIN: OK. So, that was 1992. This is today.

Chris Cillizza -- I saw those eyebrows -- CNN politics reporter, editor-at-large.

I know. I know.

The president says he's close to having the cabinet that he wants. Does that mean a cabinet of, yes, sir, yes, sir, all the time?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: Frist of all, Brooke, for people who say, oh, Donald Trump has really changed, that should remind you, Donald Trump has been Donald Trump his whole life in that regard.

I want to run through the changes we've seen and go through some of the changes we may see. BALDWIN: OK.

CILLIZZA: Yesterday, we went Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo. Trump said Pompeo more on his wavelength. Gary Cohn to Larry Kudlow, both long-time friends of Trump. Goldman Sachs, CNBC personality here. But Kudlow is someone Trump knows, trusts and sees on TV. Don't underestimate the importance. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Trump sort of took on because he wanted to make nice with the establishment. He got rid of that because he figured that wasn't working. Brought in John Kelly. We'll see how he survives. But John Kelly was in the running because he's a general.

Let's go to the next slide here, because the next one is even more important. These are possible replacements. John Kelly, featured again. John Kelly may have lost the trust of the president. Depends on what reports you read. We don't know who could go here, H.R. McMaster to John Bolton. John Bolton has been around this White House a lot. He's always visiting the president, talking to the president. The president likes his counsel. Maybe John Bolton jumps in there. V.A. secretary, we know he's not happy with David Shulkin, misuse of taxpayer funds, mismanagement of a D.C. veterans center.

Rick Perry is the Energy secretary currently. Ran against Trump in 2016, which weirdly actually probably endears him to Trump because he feels he kind of knows the nature of Rick Perry's character. Attorney general, the most maligned person in the administration, Jeff Sessions. Trump has called him beleaguered and said he should leave. He's still here. Who could here? Don't really know. But Trump seems to want Sessions out but doesn't want to fire him, which is interesting.

Let's go to one more slide, Brooke, because I think --

[14:40:58] BALDWIN: Wow!

CILLIZZA: This, to me -- right. This is the visual stunner, right? Look down here. There's almost no space left to fill anybody else in. And we're talking about -- remember where we are, March 2018. Right? The administration started January 20, 2017. With very few exceptions. Comey is one. Sally Yates is another. Most of these people are not holdovers. These are people Donald Trump picked. And those other two slides I went through, those are people Donald Trump picked. So the idea that he is finally getting the cabinet he wants, what were the people he picked a year ago?

Back to you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Gloria said he feels like, according to sources she's talking to, he has finally got it. He's mastered his job and all these people left in his wake.

Chris Cillizza, thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: The family of a murdered DNC staffer now suing FOX News for what it calls a sham story about their son's death. We have more on that.

Also, United Airlines calling it a tragic accident. Do you think? A family says a United flight attendant forced them to put their little puppy dog in an overhead compartment and that dog did not survive the flight? We are now learning of another incident involving United and a dog. You will not believe me.


[14:46:43] BALDWIN: This next story serves as an important testament to something we've said over and over and over this year. Facts matter. A State Department employee has just filed a defamation suit against Info Wars, the fringe website that has a reputation for peddling conspiracy theories. The suit alleges Info Wars and other far-right figures falsely suggested that Brennan Gilmore played a role in the Charlottesville terror attack as some sort of inside job. Why? Because Gilmore was in Charlottesville and obtained this video of the attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

With me to talk more about this is Oliver Darcy, CNN senior media reporter, and Sara Azari, a criminal defense attorney.

So, Oliver, is the suit about redeeming his reputation?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: The State Department employee has certainly been very affected by this, these conspiracy theories. He told me he has lost friends over this and has received a slew of death threats, including a white envelope in the mail that had a mysterious powder, which turned out to be nothing. But you can imagine, he said it was a terrifying moment.

But there's a larger thing he's trying to do here. He's trying to hold these media outlets accountable for their actions. He said the primary motivation was that he was trying to -- I'll read the statement: "The primary motivation was accountability and trying to confront what I consider to be an incredibly dangerous trend in our civil discourse, our democracy. And that is the widespread saturation these sites have and their unwillingness to go by traditional journalistic practices."

He has a "Washington Post" op-ed today calling Alex Jones, the founder of Info Wars, a menace to society. And I don't see him letting up anytime soon.

BALDWIN: Aren't defamation lawsuits tough to prove or what do you think of this?

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He has to prove that the statements made, that he was part of this deep-state conspiracy, were false and they were published. He won't have a problem with the publishing aspect of this. But he could have been Joe Shmoo, the bystander here, which is what he kind of was. He recorded this incident. It's in response to the fake news put out by the right that this was somehow in self-defense. His video -- I call videos the best evidence -- shows this was not self-defense. The was a Dodge vehicle that is ramming into a crowd of peaceful protesters. The fake news starts with the slew of right-wing defendants in this

case. He's responding by tweeting out this video and really putting out the best evidence, which is the video of what really happened. You know, I agree with you that the lawsuit is about the bigger picture, that the right doesn't get to call everything they don't like fake news.

BALDWIN: There was another lawsuit that we wanted to follow up on. The family of Seth Rich is suing FOX News for broadcasting false conspiracy theories about the death of their son.

You've covered so much of this.

DARCY: Right. This is another lawsuit against FOX about the Seth Rich story. The family is suing, filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying they had a lot of emotional distress over FOX's story in May 2017, that FOX published the story that was peddling the conspiracy theory about their son's unsolved murder. We debunked it here at CNN within hours. But FOX, it took them seven days to retract that story. And now it seems it might actually cost them. The family says they went through emotional trauma. And the father told them, at one point, the story was actually almost as bad as their son's death. It just felt like that.

FOX is being sued. And the interesting thing about this is that FOX, at the time they retracted the story, they said they're going to launch this investigation into what happened. It's been some time now, several, several months, FOX has never announced that action.


DARCY: And we don't know what happened, other than our own reporting.

[14:50:29] Oliver, thank you.

Sara, do me a favor and stick around. I have to ask you about this story that I tried ready about twice today. As the owner of a small dog, couldn't quite get through it. We'll get to that in just a second.

First, do you see all these pictures on your screen? This is happening across the country. These walkouts by the thousands. Students from coast to coast are demanding change with our nation's gun laws.

And the story I was just talking about. The United Airlines CEO in big trouble after a dog, this dog, dies in an overhead bin during a flight. The family says they were forced to put their pet up there. How the airline is responding. Does the family have a case? We'll be right back.


[14:55:34] BALDWIN: OK. As a Pug owner, this is a tough one. This beloved puppy has died in a United Airline flight overhead bin. This grieving mother and daughter say this flight attendant forced them to put their French Bulldog up above in the overhead bin.

The family talked about it on ABC's "Good Morning, America."


UNIDENTIFIED DOG OWNER: The flight attendant said you have to put him up there because it's going to block the path. We said it's a dog. It's a dog. She said it doesn't matter. You have to put it up there. She helped her put it up and closed it like it was a bag. She took him out and opened the thing, and then she got the dog and he was dead.


BALDWIN: I can't. I can't.

CNN national correspondent, Athena Jones is with me. Sara stuck around, Sara Azari.

But, first, to you. I have a little dog. You put it in the little bag, the seat in front of you. Why are they telling her to put it in the bin?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a question that's not been answered yet by United. It's not just sad, but infuriating for anyone who has a pet, knows a pet, cares about what happens to a small animal. This family lost their pet because of this. United said, "This is a tragic accident." They were very apologetic. Here's part of what they said, "We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again."

We know they've talked to the family. They offered to pay for the autopsy for the dog.

This is getting a lot of attention. United is the biggest transporter of animals, carrying 140,000 last year. According to a Department of Transportation report put out in February, this is not something that's new. United -- the 24 animals that died while in the care of a U.S. carrier last year, 18 of them -- so 75 percent -- were on United. United was also responsible for the vast amount of pets that were injured.

So now you have a Senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, who has written a letter to United, asking them for explanations.

BALDWIN: The same airplane that dragged the man off the plane.

AZARI: Who could forget that?


AZARI: No regard for living beings. I can't even imagine this. I would literally harm this flight attendant, aside from a lawsuit against United. They've admitted liability. It's not going to be difficult to prove. But for them forcing these passengers to put their lovely little animal up on top that this animal wouldn't have died. It's not a purse. It's not a carry-on. With that, you have an option of putting it in the seat in front of you, like you said, Brooke, or putting it above. In this case --


AZARI: Yes. Apparently, the flight attendant, admittedly, by the statement from United, did not follow policy. They paid $200 for the animal to fly. They followed policy. He was in a carrier. This is horrific. I can't even imagine.

BALDWIN: That's dog story number one from United. Dog story number two is what?

JONES: This is not a good day for United. You can't make this up. That first dog is alive -- I'm sorry, is dead. This dog is alive but is on another continent. A 10-year-old German Shepherd flying for one hour from denver to Kansas City. Instead, it ended up in Japan. We're talking about a 16.5-hour flight, no, food, no water. This dog apparently had an ear infection, hadn't had any medication for several days. And this was the first time the dog was ever flying at all. They didn't know -- United couldn't tell this owner where this dog was until the dog landed in Japan at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. We're told that the dog -- his name is Ergo -- will be flying back first class with a human escort in the main cabin of the plane, then will have to finish its trip on to Wichita. But a huge mix-up that United has not yet explained.

BALDWIN: United, you've got a lot of explaining to do.

We have to leave it there.

Athena, Sara, thank you so much.

AZARI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's continue on. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We're keeping a close eye on the markets and seeing how they'll react to the latest turn in the revolving door at the White House. Because breaking new, CNBC commentary, Larry Kudlow, will become the new director of the National Economic Council. This news comes about a week later after Gary Cohn stepped down in protest of President Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum. Kudlow, too, has spoken out against tariffs, likening them to taxes.