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New NFL Rule: Players on Field Must Stand during Anthem; Trump Clarifies on Meeting Amid Report Kim Jong-Un Fears Coup; Van Jones & Trump White House Team Up on Prison Reform Efforts; Bannon: "MLK Jr Would Be Proud of Trump". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 23, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here's what the NFL Player's Union is saying. "The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new policy. Our union will review the new policy and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collecting bargaining agreement."

This whole thing goes back to kneeling quarterback, Colin Kaepernick back in 2015. President Trump weighed throughout last year, slamming the league and the protesting players.

Let's talk it over with sports journalist, Mike Wise, former ESPN columnist and senior writer, and Keith Reed, sports business analyst and former ESPN senior editor.

Fellas, welcome.

Keith, how about to you first.

What do you make of this decision?

KEITH REED, SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST & FORMER SENIOR EDITOR, ESPN: It's almost hard to know where to start. First, the NFL seems to have a desire to just keep this in front of people when they did not need to do this. If it wanted to really do something going into another season to address the issue of players kneeling it, could have done several other things besides confront players directly in this sort of way. It's almost worded in a way in such that it challenges directly the players' resolve on something like this. I have not heard fans, I have not heard observers of the league talking about kneeling or anthem protests in months, certainly since before the Super Bowl. For the NFL to come out and do this, just about a day or so after they announced a $90 million contribution to social justice issues regarding players, this is something to be watched about and talked for guys like me and Mike to be talking about as we lead up to opening weekend. It feels like a forced error.

BALDWIN: To that point, to that exact point, Mike, I sat there wondering is this going to become a thing in the sense that everyone is going to be watching to see which team shows up on the field, which team hangs out in the locker room, does that detract from the game or is that a turning factor and bring more buzz to the football season?

MIKE WISE, SPORTS JOURNALIST & FORMER ESPN COLUMNIST & SENIOR WRITER: I think unfortunately for the players, this, Brooke, does in fact almost eliminate the bad optics of half the teams standing and half the teams kneeling, unless those players are interested in possibly having their teams fined and losing their jobs. The NFL is imposing upon its workers that essentially takes away their first amendment rights. I don't get it. Essentially, Donald Trump if he didn't win, he certainly convinced enough Americans, including NFL owners, that these kneeling mostly black millionaires are becoming a proxy for patriotism. And I think it's sad, it's wrong. I think they can do what they want, but this is where we are.

BALDWIN: I don't think we've seen a Trump tweet on this yet, gentlemen.

WISE: Oh, you will!


REED: It's coming. It's coming.

BALDWIN: There's been a Pence tweet.

Guys throw it up on the screen.

The vice president has reacted, #winning.

Do you think, Keith, that the president, that the administration won this one?

REED: What do you consider winning, right? And this is wading into politics, so you're winning if winning to you is the nave tiff -- narrative of the day if what NFL players are going to do when the season rolls around, I guess you won. Where is this administration going to be by the time we get from May to September with some of the news you just talked about coming out of the Russia investigation. I really think they have bigger things to think about right now. So whether or not -- he may have won his battle but there are certainly bigger political wars for the president and vice president to be worried about. Again, this is not something for people to be talking about, maybe people covering the league meetings and talking to owners every day this was on their minds. But to fans, this is just not something that people were talking about unless you were probably a member of far-right wing Twitter and were using this as a talking point to go right along with Mike Pence. Nobody was thinking about this and now everybody's talking about it.

BALDWIN: Mike, close us out.

WISE: I remember, Brooke, when taking a knee in sports, having played at very low levels myself, was the most sacred thing you could do. A coach spoke to you, a player was hurt, a game was over, you prayed with your team. This has become the most polarizing act in sports. Colin Kaepernick brought it to America's attention for good reasons, in my opinion. I just don't get it. I still don't get it.

BALDWIN: Mike and Keith, thank you guys so much.

REED: Thank you.

WISE: Thank you.

[14:34:56] BALDWIN: Moments ago, President Trump offering some clarity about whether his high-stakes meeting with Kim Jong-Un next month will happen at all. This as reports are surfacing that North Korea's dictator may be fearing a military coup when he leaves. Details straight ahead.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump sitting down with North Korea's leader was a history- making gamble and now it may not happen. First, the Kim Jong-Un government threatened to pull out and then Trump made a sharp turn of dreaming of Nobel Peace Prizes to warning that there is a, quote, "very substantial chance" that June 12th meeting in Singapore may not happen after all.

Now, Kim Jong-Un is reportedly anxious about what might happen at home, back in Pyongyang, while he's gone. Specifically, he's reportedly fearing a military coup.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo still appears confident that the meet will go ahead as scheduled, even went as far to assure Kim that the United States will offer a security assurance to his regime with a caveat.


[13:40:22] MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Our demands have been unambiguous. When I spoke with him, I could not have been clearly about the scope of the verification work that would be required, all of the elements that would be necessary in order for America to understand that there had been real denuclearization. He took those on board. In return, he made clear it was important to him that when that time came, when those objectives were achieved, that he, in return, would receive economic help.


BALDWIN: With me now, David Nakamura, White House reporter for the "Washington Post," and Jamie Metzl. He was a member of the National Security Council under the Clinton administration and he has travel extensively within North Korea.

Welcome to both of you.

David, I want to begin with your report in "The Post" today.

For Trump, the notion of this summit, the risk is international embarrassment. For Kim, it's this existential fear, a military coup and his unseating while he's miles from the kingdom getting this photo op with the U.S. president. We know Kim was spooked by the Libya method. Are his fears of a coup actually that unreasonable? DAVID NAKAMURA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: It

interesting, and Donald Trump addressed this yesterday in his remarks in the Oval Office, in that Kim is taking a risk here as well in this flurry of diplomacy and it's not something he's had a lot of experience with. He's gotten some good marks for going to Beijing and across the border to South Korea and having this sort of diplomatic sort of coming to terms with modernizing their sort of view of the world. But I think there's a real risk that he feels that if he's going to go all the way to Singapore, what does that mean back home?

Our understanding is the White House had a planning meeting with North Korea last week and the North Koreans didn't show up. Now a team from the White House is headed back to Singapore to try to meet with the North Koreans and nail down these details, which include things like security for Kim Jong-Un, and as well as even ensuring his plane has fuel to get to the summit and get back home.

BALDWIN: There are risks, the security issues, Jamie. You have the secretary of state offering protection to Kim. You saw the president yesterday reiterating, quote, "We will guarantee his safety. He will be safe. He will be happy."

You and I were just talking during the commercial about all these innocent people being tortured and murdered in prison camps in the hills of North Korea where you've been through this country. Is that something that this administration should be guaranteeing?

JAMIE METZL, FORMER MEMBER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, we shouldn't guarantee the security of the regime, and we can't. When President Trump says, you will be rich and you will be secure, from the perspective of Kim Jong-Un, to be secure means everybody else or most everybody else in the country needs to be suppressed. You have about 100,000 people in brutal camps being murder, being raped every day. So if they have the kind of opening up that we're pushing for in that society, there's a very good chance that Kim Jong-Un would wind up like Mussolini, dangling from a tree. So while certainly Kim Jong- Un wants to have sanctions removed, and that's already happening because they've out-negotiated the United States to date, they certainly don't have intention, the leadership doesn't have any intention of opening up the economy in the way that we are offering to them. So the number-one priority of this regime is to stay in power.

BALDWIN: More from the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was asked for his candidate impressions of the reclusive leader, so here is what he said.


POMPEO: He knows the file. He doesn't use notes. He is speaking, we have real conversations through a translator obviously.

He's from a different generation and at a different time. And it's my hope that when he and President Trump get a chance to be together that we can get the North Koreans to make this strategic shift about how best to serve the country, that the nuclear weapons program isn't, in fact, the thing that keeps the regime in power, but the thing that prevents the regime from being in a place it wants to be.


BALDWIN: David, what do you make of his impressions?

NAKAMURA: This is sort of a warning to Donald Trump that he needs to prepare as well. People talk about Kim Jong-Un really understanding sort of the details of their nuclear program. The question is, how much Donald Trump is preparing. We understand that he's obviously interested in sort of the theatrics and the symbolism of the summit, but is he really understanding what it takes? The president was asked yesterday whether he would insist that the North turn over their nuclear weapons entirely very quickly, which is something that John Bolton seems to be laying down a marker for, but the president said, no, he didn't want to commit to that necessarily. He already seems to be suggesting he could shift. And this could be a longer process, and he sort of laid out for the American public. I mean, the president's talked about this being sort of a quick victory, something he can get done in Singapore, but most experts say this is going to take a long time, going to real serious and complicated verification, and it's not going to be an easy process.

[14:45:30] BALDWIN: Also, thinking about Secretary Pompeo and I just want to end with you, Jamie, on we were listening to him pop into the State Department briefing yesterday. What really struck me was when a reporter was asking about there were reports that he has met with Kim, that they had conversations about maybe Western investments, maybe hotels, et cetera in North Korea, and he didn't deny that that conversation had taken place. In fact, he took it a step further, saying he thinks the regime would be interested in Western investment. And I hear your point, a la, Mussolini. But --

METZL: Yes. They may be interested in some as long as they control it. And from the North Korean --


BALDWIN: How is that possible?

METZL: Because they want to have complete control. So right now, I've been at these resorts in North Korea, and some of them are actually rally nice. The Chinese have built them and the elites from North Korea go there.

BALDWIN: Were you the only people there?

METZL: We were --


There were really not many others.

But when the president talks about gradual reduction, that's the exact same agreement that past U.S. presidents have gotten from the North Koreans.. The North Koreans have committed to denuclearization. If that's path, and that's what we've already negotiated and failed, and frankly, if that's the negotiation, if we got a deal, if it was half as good as the Iran deal that we've just thrown out, that would be a victory beyond anybody's expectations. So the North Koreans have no intention of giving up their nuclear weapons. If we are telling ourselves a different story, that's just delusional.

BALDWIN: Jamie Metzl, David Nakamura, thank you, gentlemen, so very much. Thank you.

Just in here, Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, has just said that Martin Luther King Jr, quoting him now, "would be proud of Donald Trump." How he justifies that statement? Let's get Van Jones to react.

And our breaking news this afternoon involving the president's son-in- law. CNN learning that Jared Kushner has met with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team for a second time, answering questions for hours. What we're learning about that meeting, next.


[14:51:50] BALDWIN: Congress is finally making progress on its plan to fix America's correctional system. The House Judiciary Committee passed a bipartisan bill that will help inmates transition out of prison and teach them life skills that could land them proper housing and a job.

Just last week, CNN political commentator, Van Jones, moderated a prison reform summit at the White House. People on both side of the debate, including former inmates and President Trump, shared ideas about how to move forward.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also want to thank Van Jones, primarily, because he constantly says such nice things about me.


He did. He did. Every once in a while, right? Every once in a while, he did. Hey, he actually has on occasion. Not too often.


But I'll tell you what, though, it does feel good.

When we talk about our national program to hire America, this must include helping millions of former inmates get back into the workforce as gainfully employed citizens.



BALDWIN: Van is with me now. Van, I know you, I know how much of this is your life's work, how much

you have poured into this. I just want to first ask for people who aren't familiar, tell me about the bill and you've even had to make your own concessions. What do you think doesn't go far enough?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW": Well, first of all, last night, in a landslide vote, the First Step Act,, landslide, bipartisan, Trump supported the bill. Nancy Pelosi supported the bill. Jared Kushner and Hakeem Jeffries sported the bill. Once, in this entire dysfunction, there was a breakthrough to help those behind bars. And liberals have said, Van Jones, what are you doing? Because I've been so tough on them, every issue from human rights, immigrant rights, environment, the whole deal.


BALDWIN: What did you say to them?

JONES: I said there's 200,000 federal prisoners in the palm of their hand. I don't think they would appreciate us refusing to go and sit down and talk about how to make their lives better. The First Step Act will let them make their lives better. It will let them earn their way home sooner. It will stop women prisoners from being shackled when they're having babies. There's a lot of horrific stuff going on that this bill will eliminate.

I just can't tell you, the entire Democratic leadership in the House, including Nancy Pelosi, voted on this bill and for this bill that Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are for. It was a bipartisan break through, not to give out tax breaks to rich people, but to help the least of these have better lives and people should be excited about that.

BALDWIN: You have other critics, other big-name Democrats, who are saying, quoting them, "The core of the bill could worsen the situation in our federal prisons." The likes of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker. What's your response to them?

JONES: Look, I love all those people. I've known Cory Booker for 25 years, known Kamala for 20 years. This thing divided Republicans and Democrats. Democrats say it didn't go far enough. I agree it didn't go far enough. The problem is, if you hold out for everything, sometimes you get nothing. Under the Obama administration, we held out for everything and we got nothing. The First Step is just that, the first step. There's a lot of misinformation the bill because some of the earlier versions were so bad. But Hakeem Jeffries -- give him his credit. Hakeem Jeffries worked to get this bill from bad to good to great when it comes to prison reform, and I think the Senate should take it up.

[14:55:35] Listen, I think you're seeing a new moment, Brooke, where, at least for the people who are suffering the most, the addicted, the convicted, people are beginning to be willing to put some things aside to get something done, and that's a good thing. No bill is perfect. But this bill is a bill that will do a lot of good. BALDWIN: Let me just ask, what has it been like working with Jared


JONES: I'll put it this way. I'll quote my friend Jay-Z., "We got 99 conflicts but prisons ain't one." I disagree with Kushner and the Trumps on so many things. But here's the deal, it's a moral dilemma for me, Brooke. If I disagree with you on 99 issues important to me, trans' rights, immigrant rights, the environment, the whole deal, on 99 things, but on one this evening, I disagree with you, should I do nothing? Should I not do one thing to try to help people who don't have voices? And I said, I've got to at least try. I think, at the end of the day, what we'll learn about this country, is, where we disagree, we're supposed to fight and fight hard, but let not forget, where we agree, we're supposed to work together and work together hard, especially for people who don't have a voice.

BALDWIN: OK. One more. You have heard what Steve Bannon has just said to the BBC --


BALDWIN: -- on Donald Trump and Dr. King.

Hang on. Hang on. Before you jump in, in case people haven't seen it, roll the tape.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I said Donald Trump has the lowest black unemployment in history. Donald Trump has the lowest Hispanic unemployment in 25 years. If you look at the policies of Donald Trump, OK, anybody, Martin Luther King would be proud of him of what he's done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think Martin Luther King would be proud of the president?

BANNON: His economic policies. By the way, it's the lowest unemployment in recorded history. You don't think Martin Luther King would be proud? Look at the unemployment we had in the black community five years ago. You don't think Martin Luther King would sit there and go, yes, you're putting young black men and women to work with the lowest unemployment we've had in history, and wages are starting to rise among the working class, and you finally stop the illegal alien labor force coming in and competing with them every day and destroying the school and destroying the health care? Absolutely.


BALDWIN: You think he'd be proud?

JONES: Oh, my god.

BALDWIN: Oh, my god.

JONES: And I was having such a good day.

Let me try to call this thing fair. His numbers are correct, but what he doesn't seem to understand is that, from 2011 until now, there's been a linear straight line down for unemployment for the black community, which means that the process that we're talking about got started under President Obama. And to Donald Trump's credit, he didn't come in and screw it up, but he also didn't come in and accelerate it. It's literally the exact same line. He's been a good custodian of the trends and trajectories that President Obama started. I suppose we could say we've had two presidents that have been moving this line down. The idea that things were terrible under Obama and then Trump came in and fixed something is just a lie. It's just not true. The numbers speak for themselves. I am glad the numbers continue to go down. They have not sped up, they haven't gotten worse, but they haven't gotten better under Trump.

BALDWIN: Van Jones, thank you very much.


BALDWIN: Van mentioned the support he has with Nancy Pelosi. Speaking of, on a quest to be the speaker of the House again. She takes your questions live. Chris Cuomo hosts a special town hall tonight at 9:00 only here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Rolling right along. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We begin this hour with breaking news on the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. The news is this: His security clearance has been restored. This is according to a person briefed on the matter. The resolution comes after months of uncertainty stemming from, in part, in his role in the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Let's go straight to our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, with the news, part of the CNN team that, of course, broke this story. And also with us, Bradley Moss, an attorney who specializes in security clearance law.

Welcome to both of you.

Evan Perez, tell me what you know.

[15:00:05] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. Gloria Borger and I have learned that Jared Kushner's security clearance was restored today officially. As you mentioned, it had been previously suspended --