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Haley on Sanctions: "I Don't Get Confused"; Comey Mocks Trump on Book Tour; McConnel Slams Door on Legislation to Protect the Special Council; Rep. Chris Stewart Interviewed; Time Warner CEO Testifies in AT&T/Time Warner Anti-Trust Trial; NTSB To Give Update on Southwest Engine Failure; Melania Trump to Attend Barbara Bush's Funeral, Unknown if Trump Will Attend. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: She got ahead of the curb. She's done a great job. She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Ambassador Haley fired back, quote, "With all due respect, I don't get confused." Kudlow later called Nikki Haley to tell her that the policy had changed without her knowledge and that he hadn't been kept in the loop.

I want to bring back my panel, Gloria Borger and David Gregory.

Gloria, it seems like the administration threw Nikki Haley under the bus here.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYLST: Completely and totally threw her under the bus. I think Larry Kudlow, whether he meant to or not, was mansplaining her and disrespectful to her. If she had been out of the loop, by the way, she should not have been out of the loop.

KEILAR: To be on the Sunday shows.

BORGER: To be on the Sunday shows of all things. We all know this. People get briefed. These are your talking points for your Sunday shows. This is what we want you to say. So she was clearly saying what she thought was administration policy, and was not confused, and it seems to me the administration was confused because maybe the president was confused about what he wanted to do.

KEILAR: What do you think?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a lot of bumbling, and then Kudlow came off as a real jerk in saying that. To his credit, he apologized rather quickly, because he sounds ridiculous in that. And I think -- look, there's so many permutations. The president may have been out of the loop, the timing may have been wrong. There's lots of possibilities where they didn't have their act together on this. And the backdrop is always suspicious, because you wonder whether the president has his heart in anything that's critical of Russia or whether he has to be dragged along in that regard.

KEILAR: That's really at the heart of it, because if you step aside from the feud, this has to do with why the president might pull back or pull a punch when it comes to Russia. That is really the issue.

BORGER: Right.

GREGORY: There's a couple of things. There's a more benign way to look at it. With regard to Syria, we don't want to provoke Russia where you could have escalation. What I fear is that he cannot allow himself to get to the place where he sees Russia as the threat, or else that somehow that is giving up too much on the idea that they meddled to the extent they did in the election.


BORGER: My question is, "The Washington Post" has reported that the president watches on television and got upset, that -- what Nikki Haley had said. So the question is, was the president out of the loop? I don't know the answer to that question. I hope the answer to that question is, no, of course, the president wasn't out of the loop. But this is what happens, things unravel all the time in this White House because there's a lack of communication among the key policy advisers who are making these decisions.


GREGORY: And Kudlow is the new player here. This is one area where there is obviously tension between Tillerson and Haley. But she seems to be a highly regarded and senior member of this national security team. And so this seemed like a discordant note in an otherwise more functional part of this administration.

BORGER: And her notion that she had to fight back. I mean, her taking Kudlow on.


KEILAR: She felt clearly like she lost some strength in this.

BORGER: Right, but --

KEILAR: She's sort of reasserting her position.

BORGER: She had to defend herself by saying, I know what I'm talking about. You got this wrong. I know what I'm talking about. So the notion that she publicly did that, I think that it's important to pay attention to.


GREGORY: I think Trump probably doesn't mind that she did that. He probably doesn't mind --


KEILAR: Gloria and David, thank you so much.

Up next, void of values and in service of Trump's ego, James Comey explains why he's leaving the Republican Party. I'll get reaction from GOP Congressman Chris Stewart next.

Plus, Mitch McConnell is slamming the door on a bill to protect the special counsel. Why the majority leader says the issue does not belong on the Senate floor.


[13:38:32] KEILAR: Fired FBI Director James Comey mocks President Trump over his Twitter habits. Comey is on a publicity tour for his new book, "A Higher Loyalty," and on the late show, he compared the president's tweets about him to a bad breakup.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He's tweeted at me probably 50 times. I've been gone for a year. I'm like a breakup he can't get over. He wakes up in the morning -



COMEY: I'm out there living by best life. He wakes up in the morning and tweets at me.


KEILAR: Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Republican Congressman Chris Stewart, of Utah. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

So that was one of the more lighthearted comments by James Comey. But he has raised some serious questions, as you know, about the president, about his fitness to lead. Do you think overall, whether it's these quips or it's these serious issues and concerns that he's raising, do you think that Jim Comey is acting appropriately?

REP. CHRIS STEWART, (R), UTAH: I defended Jim Comey for many years, until about a year ago. I thought he was a successful FBI director. I don't necessarily change my opinion on that now, but I think he's trying to sell a bunch of books. I think it does diminish the role that he plays as a former FBI director. President Trump is a political animal to his core, we get that. But the director of the FBI shouldn't be. I think we expect something a little different from them. I think it's unfortunate that it's devolved into this tit for tat like we've seen from the two of them now.

[13:40:12] KEILAR: So you I do think that he's crossed the line there. On ABC's "The View," Comey, who has long been a registered Republican, said this very thing about the current state of the party, your party. Here's what he said.


COMEY: I feel like the Republican Party left me, and people like me. I used to think that at the heart of being a conservative, lower case "c," was first the character matters, and second, that values matter most of all. And I don't know where that is today in the Republican Party. So I'm not comfortable being part of it.


KEILAR: What is your reaction, Congressman?

STEWART: Well, I understand that there's some people who feel that way, but where else are you going to go? You certainly can't go to the Clinton it is you care about character. You have to think what is the right thing for our country? I believe, although I have concerns, I think that conservative values are the thing that help our country. Those are best embodied in the Republican Party. I understand he feels frustrated. But I think this is entirely personal. I think this has developed into something that is, again, tit for tat. I think he's on a book tour and trying to generate publicity. I think this helps that. I think it's just unfortunate.

KEILAR: It's so interesting to hear you say you understand that some people have concerns. But that, in the end, it's the principles, historically, of your party, that you feel are so important. What are the concerns that you have heard, that you think Republicans need to address, that maybe even Jim Comey shares, that you think the party really needs to deal with?

STEWART: Yes. I mean, a lot of the issues that we feel like we need to deal with, we already have. I think tax reform is a very positive step for most persons. Regulatory reform. I think the fact that we've adequately funded our military. So those are good things for the American people and I think they appreciate that. What most people feel concerned about is our public discourse is justly involved into something that many of us are uncomfortable with. Sometimes the president tweets things that don't help me as a Congressman. Sometimes his critics are over the top in the personal way they attack him. I don't think either one of those help. And I think the American people are getting exhausted by it. Every time I talk with people, whether it's you or other people in the media or just a guy at the hardware store, we end up talking about these things and it just seems like people are so wary about it. I hope we can do better. I just do. As we go into the midterms, and eventually the 2020 elections, I hope we can lift ourselves up and look for a standard that's a little higher.

KEILAR: I wanted to ask you about the Russia investigation. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is refusing to bring legislation that would protect the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He's refusing to bring that legislation to the floor. This is what he said on FOX. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm the one who decides what we take to the floor. That's my responsibility as the majority leader. We will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Would you be shocked if he did fire him?

MCCONNELL: Yes, I don't think he should, and I don't think he will.


KEILAR: So he -- it sounds like perhaps he thinks this special counsel doesn't need the protection, and that he seems certain the president will not fire him. Do you share Mitch McConnell's certainty that he won't fire Mueller?

STEWART: I absolutely do. I think this is a little bit of crying fire, when there is no fire there. The president has made it clear, as recently as three weeks ago, he has no intention of firing Mr. Mueller, and he shouldn't. If you think there's evidence of collusion, it just hasn't materialized. I think the president sees that.

KEILAR: He's considered it in the past, sir. Do you discount that?

STEWART: I don't know that he has considered it in the past. At least not seriously. I don't know, I'm not in on those private conversations obviously. But he has said recently he's not going to fire him. We have no indications that he's thinking of doing that now. I think this is a way once again to generate a little bit of emotion. But it's over an issue that I don't think is realistic.

KEILAR: Congressman, we appreciate your time.

Congressman Chris Stewart joining us from a rather busy day there where they're having an event on the Hill.

We appreciate it.

STEWART: Thank you, ma'am.

[13:44:49] KEILAR: Up next, we have new details about that deadly Southwest flight. As a passenger sets the scene inside the cabin, we're now hearing the FBI is playing a role in this investigation.

This just in. We're learn who is attending former first lady, Barbara Bush's, funeral on Saturday.


KEILAR: High-profile testimony today in the AT&T/Time Warner anti- trust trial. Time Warner's CEO Jeff Bewkes taking the stand. His testimony coming one day after government attorneys rested their case in the lawsuit to block AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. The two companies argue that the merger is necessary to compete with Internet giants.

CNN reporter, Hadas Gold, joins now from outside the courthouse.

Hadas, what did he have to say on the stand today?

[13:50:03] HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: Brianna, today is probably one of the most high-profile days of the case. Time Warner took the stand to show the judge they need this merger in order to survive honestly. He said with companies like Netflix and Amazon and Facebook getting into the content business, starting to create the shows that people watch in addition to the platform on which they watch those shows. He said they can't compete and they need to get with AT&T to get their hands on some of the data from the consumers and, without it, they won't be able to survive in the future. He called the government's argument ridiculous.

The government is arguing AT&T will use Turner content like CNN in sort of an unfair way in their negotiations with other cable distributors, as a way to get more prices out of it because they think AT&T will try to get more customers to join their cable and DirecTV offers. Ultimately, this is up to one person, the judge, Richard Leon, and what he thinks about this case.

KEILAR: Hadas, thank you so much. You've been doing continuing coverage of this trial.

A short time from now, the National Transportation Safety Board will give us an update on that engine failure on Southwest Airlines flight 1380. About 20 minutes into the flight, from New York to Dallas, something in the engine broke apart and it burst through that window. A woman was sucked towards the whole of that window and passengers struggled to save her.


TIM MCARTHY, WITNESS: Somebody screamed, and we realized what happened when the window went out. And so, I tried and tried, and I couldn't. I just couldn't. And then Andrew came over and just trying to get her back in. It didn't feel like it was trying to pull me out. It just felt like whenever I stuck anything out it would just slam me back.


KEILAR: Now 43-year-old Jennifer Reirden (ph) did not ultimately survive. And questions are being raised on whether this tragedy could have been prevented.


ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB CHAIRMAN: It's definitely not something that somebody could detect just looking at the fan played from outside. This was an internal metal fatigue area. So even a careful maintenance inspection from outside of the fan blade would not have detected it, more than likely.


KEILAR: We should note, many passengers have praised the pilot, Tammy-Jo Schultz, for her calm demeanor and her aviation skills. Schultz was one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots before working for Southwest.

The former first, lady Barbara Bush, will be laid to rest on Saturday. The question is, will the president go? A public critic of both of her sons, will he attend the funeral? We'll have new details, next.


[13:57:13] KEILAR: Former President George W. Bush called it the end of a beautiful life. That's how he characterized the passing of his mother, Barbara Bush, who died at the age of 92.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's the thing, she had great faith. She truly believes that there's an After Life, that she'll be wonderfully received in the arms of the loving God, and therefore did not fear death. As a result of her soul being comforted on the death bed, my soul is comforted.


KEILAR: So we know now that the first lady, Melania Trump, is going to pay her respects at the funeral on Saturday. The Obamas will be there as well. So will the Clintons and the Cheneys. But there's no word on whether President Trump will attend.

CNN contributor and author of "First Women," Kate Anderson Brower, is looking at the divisive history between the two families -- Kate?

KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the Bushes and the Trumps have had a complicated history. When Jeb Bush was considering running in 2016 -- actually 2013, Barbara Bush came out saying we don't need any more Bushes. She was against the notion of having a Bush family dynasty. They are remarkably without ego. Barbara Bush was very self-effacing, had a great sense of humor and she did not think the world needed another Bush president. We've seen Laura Bush had lunch with Melania Trump. We've seen a bit of a detente. We know Melania Trump will be going to Barbara Bush's funeral on Saturday. The Bushes, of course, would extend that invitation because that's who they are. They're very classy and very polite. But there is, of course, bad blood there because during the primaries, Donald Trump came out and attacked low-energy Jeb Bush. It was very personal, some of the things he said about George W. Bush's administration and the war in Iraq, for instance, which he was very critical of. I think that we see the Bushes being very polite4 and respectful, offering Melania Trump and the president an invitation. It's very typical of the person that Barbara Bush was -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Kate Anderson Brower, thank you so much.

And we have a statement from former President George H.W. Bush. He said, "I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world. In fact, I used to tease her that I had a complex about that fact. But the truth is the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at her enforcer is lifting us all up. We have faith she is in heaven and we know life would go on, as she would have it, so cross the Bushs off the worry list."

That is it for me.

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