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Rand Paul to Ask Trump to Lift Sanctions off Some Russian Lawmakers; New York Governor Said America Was Never Great Remark Inartful; Inside the Final Days of "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: -- and North Korea also, setting records here, 59 percent of Americans see North Korea as an enemy, 25 percent unfriendly. Look at the image there that's next to the poll results. You know that the President is trying be working something out here with Kim, but he is doing so in an environment where his constituents, the people of the United States of America, clearly see that country as an enemy.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Poll numbers are telling. David Chalian, thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just in, jurors and the Paul Manafort tax and bank fraud trial telling the judge they plan to leave at 5:00 today whether they have a verdict or not. And moments ago, Manafort's attorney said that is a good sign for his client.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think with the jury deliberating longer it favors your client?




BALDWIN: Republican Senator, Rand Paul, fresh off a trip to Moscow, now wants some of his Russian counterparts to visit Washington D.C. But there is just one teeny tiny problem. I'll let him explain.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The down side is the chairman of each of the committees is banned from coming to the United States because of sanctions. So, one of the things I'm going to ask the President -- I'm going to talk to the President this weekend -- is I'm going to say, why don't we take people off the list --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, FOX NEWS: At least temporarily.

PAUL: -- who are in the legislature.


BALDWIN: Those sanctions were placed on dozens of Russians back in March in 2014 as punishment for Russia's aggression in Ukraine including the annexation of Crimea. Let's go to our CNN senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. And Manu, you have more about the Senator's requests. Do tell.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What the Senator is asking is for all Russian lawmakers to be allowed to travel to the United States in exchange for the Russians to allow members of the United States Congress to travel to Russia. This is something he plans to bring up with the President as soon as this weekend. Also, he needs to talk to the State Department and Treasury Department about this.

Now this came up in a meetings that Paul had earlier this month when he traveled to Moscow, and he invited members of the Russian assembly to come the United States for an official meeting. Including members of the upper house of the assembly and this was the first time the members of that upper house would come to the United States in three years.

But, yes, there's a problem that two of the members that he wants to attend have been sanctioned by the United States and are not allowed to travel to the United States. In those two members are Leonid Slutsky and Konstantin Kosachev. And those are two chairmen of some key committees. But they were sanctioned -- Slutsky was sanctioned in 2014 because -- by the Obama administration because he supported the Russian annexation of Crimea. While Kosachev was actually sanctioned earlier this year in April by the Trump administration in retaliation for Moscow's role in interfering in the United States elections and for other, quotes, maligned activity.

Now what I'm told is when Rand Paul did meet with these Russian lawmakers, Brooke, he talked about Russian interference, but he wants to move beyond that and turn the page on that and instead focus on other areas of mutual interest and concern like what's happening in Syria. And of course, Brooke, Rand Paul is someone who's had a much less aggressive approach to Russia than a lot of his Republican counterparts. He's one of two senators who voted against a sanctions package last year that passed 90-2 that would have sanctioned Russia. And of course, he also defended the President at a very controversial Summit with Vladimir Putin in Russia -- in Helsinki. So, Paul here is sort of playing an emissary role between the Trump administration and Moscow. We'll see if he is any success in bringing some of these Russian lawmakers to Washington -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll see. Manu, thank you so much.

And in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is now walking back his controversial remarks that he made in a speech this week where he suggested that America was never that great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: And look, the simple point is all this comes down to this. We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.


BALDWIN: Governor Cuomo obviously took some heat against all sides including the President. Now the governor is clarifying what he says he meant.


CUOMO: The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear. Of course, America is great. And of course, America has always been great. No one questions that, as you know.


BALDWIN: Inartful he says. Maeve Reston is with me, CNN national political reporter. And Maeve, first just on President Trump's reaction to the comments he had made. He seems obsessed with jumping on this, tweeting about it yet again.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Within the last, you know, six or seven minutes he is back to rapid fire tweets attacking Governor Cuomo for these comments. And you know, it's really interesting because you would expect a politician who's been, you know, in the arena for that long to realize that this is going to come out as a dumb statement. Because it's so easily, you know, captured in that short little phrase. We'll be seeing it in campaign ads for a long time, especially if he runs for President in 2020, which is very possible.

[15:40:04] But there is a silver lining for him in this in the sense that Trump is really taking him on. All yesterday and today he's in a tough reelection battle with Cynthia Nixon who had her own little tart response to this comment. And the people who are going to be voting for Cuomo would like to see him in a fight with Trump. In fact, that's something he has tried to play up in his campaign, that he would really take it to Donald Trump. So, in some ways this has become an opportunity for him if he handles it properly. Cynthia Nixon said that this was just another example of Andrew Cuomo trying to figure out what a progressive sounds like and missing by a mile. So, he's certainly taking it on all sides.

BALDWIN: It's interesting, though, why do you think, Maeve, some politicians like Governor Cuomo here get hammered over saying something like this. Right? And then you have the President of the United States who says some things, and not only does he survive through these gaffes, he thrives.

RESTON: Well, I mean he just has a way of framing things even when they sound incredibly inartful to most people where his base will just support him and embrace him, and he never backs down. He rarely makes the kinds of apologies that we saw from Governor Cuomo. And that works for him in terms of cementing and holding on to his base. Beyond that, though, we'll see the fall in the midterms, you know, whether many of the President's inartful comments and really shocking comments will end up being too much for the suburban women, the white college-educated women who are just totally fed up with him at this point. And tired of these kinds of feuds that he picks with people like Cuomo.

BALDWIN: November will be here in a blink. America is watching.

RESTON: That's right.

BALDWIN: Maeve, thank you.

It's a chilling video. Aretha Franklin's granddaughter revealing a recent recording of her grandmother singing and playing the piano in her home with family. We will play that for you next. Stay with us for that.

First, tomorrow night here on CNN, the executive editors of "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" join CNN's David Axelrod for "THE AXE FILES". Here's a sneak peek.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now you know we have a lot of fake news back there, these fake news. The enemy of the people I call them.

DEAN BAQUET, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I'm deeply concerned. Not only concerned about what happens inside the United States at some of the volatile Trump rallies. I think that the President has sent a message to despots abroad that you can disrespect the press. We've had president's attack the press. We've never had a president go on foreign soil and attacked the press.

So, both of us have to manage newsrooms with people who operate in the third world. Both of us manage newsrooms with people who cover, you know, governments that don't like the press. It's -- I can't tell you how concerning it is that this President has essentially told those governments, you can beat up the press, you can call them enemies of the people. How can my correspondent in Cairo who covers a government that's often antagonistic to the press, how can he make the case for the first amendment and the power of the press and for covering that government independently when we have a President of the United States who says the things he says about the press?


BALDWIN: Tune in to "THE AXE FILES" Saturday night, 7:00 eastern here on CNN.


BALDWIN: Fans remembering the late "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin and how her music touched their lives. But certainly, there are no bigger fans than Ms. Franklin's family. And her granddaughter went on Twitter to share a very personal moment. It's actually a family video that was shot earlier this year of the legend singing and playing the piano at home. The granddaughter writing, we lost an icon, a legend but today I lost my grandma.




BALDWIN: How beautiful is that? She taught herself how to play the piano. Ms. Franklin's funeral will be held at the greater Grace Temple in Detroit. The date and times have not yet been released. Other public tributes though are already in the works. MTV said it plans to honor Franklin at Monday's Video Music Awards.

Joining me now, Lisa Respers France, CNN's digital senior writer for media and entertainment here. Lisa, you have been writing so much on her life and also just details about how private she was. You know, really, watching that video and you look at her and think, gosh, only very few people in her inner circle really knew how gravely ill she was.

LISA RESPERS FRANCE, CNN DIGITAL SENIOR WRITER FOR MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT: Absolutely. And that was such a gift from her granddaughter Victory to be able to share that. I spoke with her former publicist, LaJoyce Brookshire, who said, you know, in this age of the Kardashian who always want to put all of their private life on front street that Aretha Franklin was just a person who was so dignified -- she calls her Miss Aretha -- and she said, Miss Aretha just lived a very dignified life and she was just was not someone that was going to share a lot of information about her private life, including how very ill she was. LaJoyce told me that a lot of people in the inner circle, including herself, knew that she was ill, but she really kept the details to herself and just strictly for her and her family.

BALDWIN: Tell me -- you know, we spent much of the show yesterday, and I just said I want to hear her music and I want to hear Aretha stories. So, I know you've been talking to a lot of people. What Aretha stories can you share?

FRANCE: Well, La Joyce told me a great one. She said she saw her a couple of years ago and she said that they were summoned. Because she that's what happens with the Queen. She summons you. They were summoned to attend one of her concerts. And she said she brought her some beautiful yellow roses, which were her favorite. She said, you know, she was the type of person she commanded excellence, but she also gave excellence. She said she not an easy woman particularly to work for or with. Because she worked as her publicist back in the '90s, which was really the golden age of Arista Records. But she said she learned so much from her because she was such a person that was a perfectionist. She loved her craft. And she wanted to give her audience and her fans the absolute best. So, consequently she demanded the best from you and it's fitting because she was the "Queen of Soul".

BALDWIN: You know, looking back to obviously born in Memphis, moved to Detroit, gospel choir in her dad's church when she was so young, gospel singer at heart. Really at the forefront of the civil rights movement. I was watching an interview she did just in the last couple of years with Don Lemon and she was talking about how the song "Respect" really was a mantra for the civil rights movement. But when Don was saying, you know, you were really at the forefront. I mean, she was with Dr. King doing that church tour when he was first coming on the scene. And she just was hesitant to say that she was helping lead that movement.

FRANCE: That's because that's how incredibly dignified she was. She was a woman very cognizant of her role in history but at the same time she felt like she was channeling the gift that God gave her. The man, the pastor that runs the church that her father used to pastor over, he said she never left God, even when she was on the road and she was famous, she would come back and she would give concerts. She would write really big checks, he said, to make sure that their food ministry could feed the poor people of Detroit. And so, to her she was just utilizing the gift that God had given her and that her father had nurtured in her.

BALDWIN: It's beautiful. Lisa Respers France, I'm sure you have been listening to all kind of Aretha Franklin in the last 24 hours on the radio or on Spotify as have I. It's just a beautiful time to celebrate such a gift and a legend and a woman of such grace in God. Thank you so much.

FRANCE: Thank you. We are going to miss her so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Back to our breaking news here. The jury in the trial of former campaign manager -- excuse me -- campaign chairman Paul Manafort delivering a note to the judge saying that the jurors want to be out of there in an hour, by 5:00 today. Apparently, one juror had an event to get to tonight. We have details coming up.


BALDWIN: The state of Oklahoma has the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate of women in the United States and it's been that way for more than 25 years. This week's CNN hero is giving some of the women a voice and the power to heal themselves. Here is high school English teacher, Ellen Stackable.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came here when I was 20. I have a 30-year sentence. After I hit the yard and I kind of got a taste of what prison was, it shocked me that I was here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of feelings in prison. You don't get to feel them. You are not a person and your feelings are not valid. ELLEN STACKABLE, NONPROFIT, POETIC JUSTICE: Many of the women better

incarcerated have been victims of some kind of abuse.

We provide a safe place for them to overcome trauma and pain. So, it is so much more than just writing. It becomes a therapeutic way for healing to occur.


BALDWIN: CNN was able to get extraordinary access for this story so please learn more. You can go inside Mabel Bassett Correctional Center and hear more from these incredible voices. Go to CNN-

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me on this Friday. But keep it right here. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Brooke.

The President making unprecedented threats against political enemies. Well, it is Friday. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

President Trump going deeper into dangerous territory. Today flat-out threatening to revoke more security clearances of potential witnesses in the Russia probe.

[16:00:00] Wait until next year, President Trump says he's canceling his military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue as the estimated cost explodes. So, he starts a brand-new political brawl in the process.

Plus, 200 tapes?