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Melania Trump Talks Cyberbullying as Trump Tweets; "Why Am I Still Catholic" Amid Priest Abuse Scandal; Jimmy Carter Breaks Silence on Trump; Is "Crazy Rich Asians" the Start of a Cultural Shift in Hollywood. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: He is an adult he knows the consequences. Sort of feels to me like she has almost written him off to as too late to change. But let's focus on this next generation. And it is -- like I said, it is a very sort of different and complicated way to think about it. You can't help think what you just said when she says something like, that wait a minute, is she talking about the president? While she's at this summit, he is actively tweeting calling John Brennan the worst CIA Director in history. He sent out seven tweets while we were there in Rockville listening to the first lady giving her speech. None of them said supporting my wife today as she gives her be best speech. None of that. It is interesting. It dilutes her messaging a little bit in a way. I hate to say that, but it is a side effect of this relationship.

BALDWIN: I agree. By the way, never too late to change, never too late to stop calling people rats and dogs and whatever else in the Twitter sphere.

Kate Bennett, thank you for covering Melania Trump for us.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Nearly a week after the report went public and more than a month since the Vatican learned of it, the pope is finally speaking out on the Pennsylvania priest abuse scandal. My next questions why she is still a Catholic.

Plus, George Orwell's "1984" used to be fiction. Now team Trump disputing the facts and, I quote Rudy Giuliani, declaring, quote, "The truth, is it the truth?:


[14:35:26] BALDWIN: "Why Am I Still Catholic?" It is a question my next guest is asking herself, understandably, as the priest abuse scandal engulfs the church. The leader of that church failing to say one word about abuse or survivors in Sunday prayers. But today the Vatican released a letter from the pope acknowledging the scandal. In part, it reads, "The victim's outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry, and once again showed us on which side he stands." That response nearly one week after this harrowing report brought by

this Pennsylvania grand jury revealing allegation after allegation of sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by more than 300 priests.

One survivor, who was abused in Chile and now lives in Philadelphia, says he is encouraged to see the change in language coming from the pope. This is how he describes his pain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a bullet that stays in your body and travels around and hurts you constantly.


BALDWIN: Karen Tumulty is a columnist with the "Washington Post." She wrote this piece, "Why Am I Still Catholic?"

And so, Karen, thank you for being with me.

As you -- you described for me as you did so beautifully in the piece about sitting on Sunday in the pew and how you felt when they were wanting the hive.

KAREN TUMULTY, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: I think we as Catholics have taken a lot of sort of body blows over the decades. I mean, these reports come out over and over again. But what happened as a result, you know I would take issue is a Catholic is allowed to do that. But the pope here, it was not that god heard the cries of the victims. It is that an attorney general in Pennsylvania dug deeply into the church to uncover this. So I found myself sitting in the pews and wondering, you know, why am I still in this church? A church in which I was born. A church that represents more than my faith. It really represents a big part of my identity. And it was just my luck that we actually had a very inspiring sermon yesterday by a very young priest who really implored Catholics to remind ourselves that, you know, god really is present in this place, and that change from the church -- that we have to stay there if change is going to happen.

BALDWIN: He wears his compass, you symbolically wear yours. Back to the letter from the pope. Nowhere does the pope acknowledge in detail the criminal cover-up by these priests. Because survivors, they are still struggling today.

TUMULTY: Absolutely. I think the crime here was not just the crime that was committed by the individual clergy on their victims. I think that the actions of the church hierarchy, the bishops, were also criminal. They colluded. They conspired. They were obstructers of justice. The fact is that these people should be judged not just in the eyes of god. They should be judged and expediently in the eyes of the law. And so the many, many years, many decades of trying to essentially just shuffle these priests around, I think it's finally catching up with the church.

[14:39:13] BALDWIN: Right. And now it's about accountability. We'll stay on this. Karen, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Karen Tumulty, with the "Washington Post."

Now to this, the former presidents have been quiet on this current president. Jimmy Carter is not holding back any longer. Why he is calling President Trump "a disaster."

And look at this harrowing video of a father and son escape a raging wildfire in a national park. We will show you video of them driving in between flames, next.


BALDWIN: Former President Jimmy Carter is breaking his silence on President Trump and offering a blunt assessment of the man now sitting in the White House, referring to Trump as a disaster. In an interview with the "Washington Post," where the newspaper profiled the former president, highlighted his frugal life-style, he is no longer shying away from criticizing Trump.

The former president had this to say about President Trump, quote, "I think he's a disaster. In human rights. In taking care of people. And treating people equal." He goes on, "I think there has been an attitude of ignorance toward the truth by President Trump."

Let's discuss this. Peter Wehner, is a former senior adviser for George W. Bush and worked in three different Republican administration is back with us. As is Leah Wright Rigueur, public policy professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Great to have both of you back on the show.

Peter, it got us thinking, if former President Jimmy Carter now is not holding back on how he views this president I am wondering first from you on Bush 41, Bush 43, what do you think it would take for either or both of them to come out publicly and criticize this president?

[14:45:29] PETER WEHNER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, to some extent, they have. I mean, president George W. Bush back in October gave a speech. He didn't mention Donald Trump by name but he took on Trump itch in a pretty direct way. And president Bush 41 made it known he didn't vote for the president. And President Trump wasn't invited to the funeral of Barbara Bush. I think all the past presidents have criticized him in one way or another. That's unusual. But Trump is in a different category. He's an institutional anarchist and an institutional arsonist. I think he is trying to burn down the presidency. And these are men, regardless of their party, all of whom had respect for the office and understood its majesty and its importance in American life. Trump doesn't seem to see that. In fact, quite the opposite. He seems to relish trying to take it down and to diminish it in the eyes of the public. And they may well speak out against it.

BALDWIN: As you mentioned, one of the former presidents didn't actually mention Trump by name. If you don't say his name in your criticism, does it truly have the same effect?

Peter, to you.

WEHNER: Oh. You know, it has an effect, if you go back and read the George W. Bush speech everybody knew who he was talking about. President Bush and others may ratchet it up. Will it make a difference? I don't know. But you may have something happen Analogous to what happened with the intelligence agencies and the head of the CIA and all of these various other people.

BALDWIN: That's what got us wondering.

WEHNER: Yes, they spec out because of what happened with John Brennan and the clearance. They felt like that had crossed a line. I wouldn't shock me if Trump does something or continues on this trajectory that other presidents either separately or together speak out. Because I think he is a threat in ways that are just unusual, as I said. He's not interested just in attacking truth. He wants to annihilate truth. He wants to destroy the concept and categories of truth itself. We see it from his own mouth, from his advisors like Rudy Giuliani this last Sunday.

BALDWIN: Leah, I'm wondering bigger picture, also. Peter brought up the Brennan letter and all the people who signed it. Can you envision a moment in this country when all of the living presidents -- we should put Obama also in the category certainly of criticizing the president but not mentioning him by name but everybody knows what he is talking about? Can you envision a moment when all the past presidents come together and put their own politics aside and for the good of the country and because of the majesty of the office that they held speak up against the actions this president -- what do you think would have to happen to precipitate that?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, PUBLIC POLICY PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Right. We are at a moment like that after Charlottesville last year where it felt like there was going to be -- you for example there was going to be this get-together of presidents who would come out and speak out forcefully or issue some kind of a statement about Donald Trump, about the nation. Instead, what we have gotten piecemeal over the past couple of years is presidents speaking out in veiled terms. Jimmy Carter, in fact, in doing this enter rue and calling Donald Trump out by name, particularly given Jimmy Carter's own conflicted not so easy presidency but also the way in which he revolutionized the post presidency. For him to speak out and say this and speak so forcefully and say Donald Trump is a total disaster is really something quite novel and quite different. I think what we will see going forward is that presidents will continue to play this slightly polite role but will also continue to take veiled or not so veiled shots at the president and critique the president.

Again, I think if we do have a moment like Charlottesville again where it feels like --

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: What are they waiting for? Charlottesville happened and I sit here every day and talk about the latest moment in this White House. The name calling, what have you. What will it take?

RIGUEUR: I think it takes another moment or another kind of incident like -- of the scale and of the scope of Charlottesville. Something that shakes the nation to its core. Unfortunately, with a we know is that these -- what we know is that niece incidents have been few and far between over the last few years. So I wouldn't be surprised if something happens in the next couple of years, next couple of months maybe even the next couple of weeks that really does force the former living presidents to come out and issue a statement together. Again, I would not be surprised with the exception of Jimmy Carter, if they continued to speak in these kinds of very direct terms but at the same time refusing to actually use Donald Trump's name.

[14:50:33] BALDWIN: Leah and Peter, thank you.

RIGUEUR: Thank you.

WEHNER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, it is the top of the box office this weekend. And it is the first movie in more than 25 years to feature a mostly Asian cast. So is this the start of a cultural shift in Hollywood? We'll talk to one of the actors of "Crazy Rich Asians," next.


[14:55:20] BALDWIN: The stellar reviews proved right for the new movie "Crazy Rich Asians." The romantic comedy exceeded expectations with opening weekend box office take of $35 million. "Crazy Rich Asians" it is the first studio film in 25 years to feature a mostly Asian cast.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's what I want.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The Nick you are dating is Nick Young.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Do you know him or something?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hell, yes, they are the biggest developers in all of Singapore.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Damn, Rachel, like the Asian bachelor.


BALDWIN: Think about that for a second. It has been a quarter of a century when the Internet was still an experiment since "Joy Luck Club," the last Asian-American film in the U.S. Now the hope is "Crazy Rich Asians" will mark the start of a cultural movement in Hollywood that will mean more Asian-American actors in Hollywood.

Joining me, Tan Kheng Hua, who plays the mother of the antagonist in the movie.

Kheng, welcome and congratulations.

TAN KHENG HUA, ACTOR: Thank you. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So $35 million in the first weekend. All Asian cast. Something Hollywood is definitely not used to. I'm curious, what is it about your film that you think is so breaking through to audiences everywhere.

HUA: I think the whole world wants some hope. They want something good to latch onto. They want to hold on to positive energies like bridging and inclusivity. It is a wonderful, wonderful show of a need for faith and hope and goodness. I really home it continues not just in a movie industry but in all segments of our lives.

BALDWIN: I agree. We need a little hope wherever we can get it.

And, Kheng, I know just reading about you as an actress much of your work has been out of Singapore and Malaysia. You haven't been as face to face with dealing with racism in the way that Asian-Americans have. And you have been working with so many Asian-Americans in this film and just as you alluded to everything going on in this country as a backdrop, what was that experience like for you? What did you learn.

HUA: I think one of the best thing about acting is the fact that we inhabit worlds that are not our own. We inhabit them in a very intimate and detailed fashion. And we learn so much. Similarly, it was exactly the case here with my experience with "Crazy Rich Asians" for myself as an Asian-Chinese in a majority Chinese community. Certainly although the rhetoric of inclusivity is something that we are familiar with I don't encounter any sort of negativity on an everyday basis. Also, Singapore, as a country, I think is very, very, very overly sensitive about the fact that we need to be diverse all the time. We're a very small country. And I think any sort of dissension is just looked down upon. And so we are constantly having policies for inclusivity.

When I started filming for "Crazy Rich Asians," the rhetoric for inclusivity in the United States for not just the Asian-American community but for all minority communities in the United States became very real to me because of my relationship my growing relationships with my colleagues, my fellow actors. When I came to L.A. last week for the L.A. gala, the emotion that I felt in the theater, on the streets, all the people that have been writing to me on my social media that are part of minority groups all over the world -- it really exemplifies the fact that the feeling of needing a voice is so --


HUA: -- real. BALDWIN: That's why I wanted to -- I wanted to have you so badly on

the show. I want so many people to see you and to hear you. I just was curious -- my final question is, no matter the color of your skin or your beliefs, what do you ultimately want people to take away from your film as they walk out of the movie theater?

HUA: I certainly want them to take away something that they now know something that they didn't know a little bit better. That's what we all should do to understand the world better. That's what everybody needs. Everybody needs that. Just understand better. And I think we can bridge better. And I want that so, so much.

BALDWIN: Tan Kheng Hua, thank you so much. Good luck. And again, congratulations.

HUA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN.