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CDC Warns All Americans to Not Eat Romaine Lettuce; Trump Signals U.S. Won't Push Saudi Crown Prince Over Killing of Jamal Khashoggi; Trump Takes Questions on Saudis, Ivanka, Mueller; Trump Sides with Saudi Prince, "Maybe He Did, Maybe He Didn't". Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired November 20, 2018 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just in to CNN, an important health alert for all of us. The CDC is warning that romaine lettuce in the United States is not safe to eat. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen is with me now on the phone. Do they mean all romaine lettuce -- Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Brooke, actually, they do and this is highly unusual. Usually the CDC will say this brand or that brand or this lot of that lot. But they are saying all romaine lettuce. People have become sick with something called E.coli 015787. It is a really vicious bacteria that can cause kidney failure. And it appears they've traced it back to romaine lettuce but they don't know what brand of romaine lettuce.

BALDWIN: What do people need to know as they go to the store?

COHEN: What they need to know is if you've got it, throw it out. Even if you've eaten some of it and nobody got sick, throw it out. Restaurants need to know not to serve it. You know, a lot of people these days were buying these salad mixes that have different kinds of lettuces. Check it out. If that contains romaine lettuce, don't eat it.

BALDWIN: OK. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

Back to our breaking news here. The President issued this wild emphatic statement siding with Saudi Arabia despite sources telling us that the CIA highly confident that the Crown Prince ordered the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The statement from President Trump this afternoon argues that sacrificing the economic relationship with the Saudis quite simply outweighs the facts behind Khashoggi's killing. In part the President writes " could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event -- maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

"The Washington Post" just released this statement. "President Trump's response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships. He is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights."

So, with me now, Jason Rezaian, global opinions columnist for "The Washington Post", and he knew Khashoggi personally. He is also a CNN global affairs analyst. So, Jason, what did you make of the statement?

JASON REZAIAN , CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the only thing I agree with, Brooke, is that the world is a dangerous place. And as a journalist who has unfortunately experienced some of that in the world, I feel a lot less safe today working in the United States of America than I did a couple of hours ago. And I think this is a horrible message to be sending to the world, really kind of condoning this murder, only in the interests of our commercial dealings with Saudi Arabia.

BALDWIN: When you read this statement -- and Jason wanted you to speak to this specific line. The President tosses a grenade in the middle of it all. He wrote -- he starts, "representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an enemy of the state and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is no way based on that." He just dangles that out there, Jason. And I want you respond to that specifically.

REZAIAN: Well, you know, Brooke, to me that smacks of him trying to discredit a very thoughtful, honest journalist who now has no opportunity to defend himself, to respond to such an egregious attack. I was in a similar situation when I was imprisoned in Iran. I wasn't able to respond, but now I'm free and out in the world and able to talk again and able to write again. And, you know, it's just incredible to me that the President of the United States would do this and kind of create doubt around a person who's been murdered at the hands of a foreign state.

The fact that you have mentioned now twice how you were imprisoned in Tehran, for your reporting about Iran and the Iranian government, Jason. What message does this send, this message from Trump to the rest of the world, particularly those dictatorships?

[15:35:03] REZAIAN: Well, I think it sends the worst possible message, which is, you know, don't do bad things but if you're going to do them, you're going to get away with them. Especially if you're an ally, especially if you're doing business with us. I think that's not consistent with our values as a country. It's not consistent with the values that we've had set out for over 240 years and this is a precedent that I don't think that we should be following through with.

BALDWIN: Lastly, the fact that the President dropped the statement, then went on to pardon the turkeys and is now heading to Florida for his Thanksgiving vacation, all happening before he himself, as we understand, saw the full assessment from intelligence agencies and just as your paper has been reporting and we have been reporting that the CIA indeed believes that MBS had a hand in his murder. What do you make of the fact that the President didn't see that and dropped the statement?

REZAIAN: Well, I mean, I think he's just trying to divert our attention to something else and hoping that the world will get on from this. And give it up. But I, for one, am proud to say as I watch how my paper covers this, know that we're not going to just let it stand.

BALDWIN: Jason Rezaian, thank you so much. Thank you.

President Trump just finished talking to reporters before he took off to his Mar-a-Largo Thanksgiving vacation. We're told President Trump addressed precisely what we're just discussing. His astonishing statement on siding with Saudi Arabia. So, we'll bring that for you. Also, we're watching another turbulent day on Wall Street, the Dow down 520 points. At one point more than 600. Details on what is driving this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going now to the southern White House. We have a lot of work we're going to be doing in Florida. We had great -- some really great election results, as you know. Georgia just came in and that was a big success. Florida was a tremendous success with both the Governor, Ron DeSantis, he'll be a great governor, and the Senator Rick Scott. And as you know, Ohio was a great victory, we had a lot of great victories. So, we're very happy about that. We put out a statement on Saudi Arabia, which I guess most of you have seen.

[15:40:00] And we'll see how that all works out. It's a very complex situation, it's a shame but it is what it is.


TRUMP: Because it's America first to me. It's all about America first. We're not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and let Russia, China and everybody else have them. It's all about for me very simple, it's America first. Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I've kept them down. They've helped me keep them down. Right now, we have low oil prices or relatively low. I'd like to see them go down even lower. But I think that it's a very simple equation for me, I'm about make America great again and I'm about America first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you basically telling us, Mr. President, that human rights are too expensive?

TRUMP: That what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: That human rights are too expensive?

TRUMP: No, I'm not saying that at all. If you look at Iran -- just take a look at Iran and look at what they're doing, they are a terrorist nation right now. Although I must tell you, they're a lot better right now than they were when I took office. When I took office, they were heading in a very, very bad direction. And at some point, things very positive frankly could happen with Iran, but we also need a counterbalance and Israel needs help also. If we abandoned Saudi Arabia it, would be a terrible mistake.


TRUMP: I really can't understand what you're saying. Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: "The Washington Post" in a statement put out a statement. They said that you're putting your personal interests, your commercial interests --

TRUMP: Well, I have nothing to do with -- just so you understand, I don't make deals with Saudi Arabia. I don't have money from Saudi Arabia. I have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia. I couldn't care less. And I will tell you, and as most of you know, being President has cost me a fortune and that's OK with me. I knew that a long time ago. But being President has cost me a fortune, a tremendous fortune like you've never seen before. But at someday I'll tell you what that is. And I knew that a long time ago. Because I don't do deals. All I do is focus on this country and making great deals for this country. I don't focus on making great deals for myself because I don't care anymore.

So Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with me. What does have to do with me is putting America first.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. They're buying hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of things from this country. If I say we don't want to take your business, if I say we don't want to cut it off, they'll get the equipment, military equipment and other things from Russia and China. Russia and China would be very, very happy because right now we're doing very well against China, we're doing very well against everybody, including Russia, and I'm going to keep it that way. And I'm not going to tell a country that's spending hundreds of billions of dollars and has helped me do one thing very importantly, keep oil prices down so they're not going to 100 and $150 a barrel. Right now, we have oil prices in great shape. I'm not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia. So, I think the statement -- wait a minute. I think the statement was pretty obvious what I said. It's about America first.


TRUMP: Say it again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why was it appropriate for your daughter's personal e-mail --

TRUMP: Just so you understand, early on and for a little period of time, Ivanka did some e-mails. They weren't classified like Hillary Clinton, they weren't deleted like Hillary Clinton, who deleted 33. She wasn't hired -- she wasn't doing anything to hide her e-mails. I looked at it just very briefly today and the Presidential records, they're all in Presidential records. There was no hiding. There was no deleting like Hillary Clinton did, there was no service in the basement like Hillary Clinton had. You're talking about a whole different -- you're talking about all fake news. So what Ivanka did, it's all in the Presidential records, everything is there. There was no deletion, there was no nothing. What it is, is a false story. Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 e-mails. She had a server in the basement. That's the real story.



TRUMP: The which policy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Your asylum policy has been put on hold.

TRUMP: Well, you go to the Ninth Circuit and it's a disgrace. And I'm going to put in a major complaint. Because you cannot win if you're us, a case in the Ninth Circuit.

[15:45:00] And I think it's a disgrace when people file every case gets filed in the Ninth Circuit. Because they know that's not law that's not with this country stands for. Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court like the travel ban that we won. The Ninth Circuit we're going to have to look at that. Because every case, no matter where it is, they file is practically, I mean practically, for all intents and purposes, they file it in what's called the Ninth Circuit. This was an Obama judge. And I'll tell you what, it's not going to happen like this anymore. Everybody that wants to sue the United States, they file their case in almost, they file their case in the Ninth Circuit and it means an automatic loss. No matter what you do, no matter how good your case is and the Ninth Circuit is really something we have to take a look at because it's not fair.

People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case. And you people know better than anybody what's happening. It's a disgrace. In my opinion, it's a disgrace what happens with the Ninth Circuit. We will win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Is he a hero? And when will you visit the troops?

TRUMP: Go ahead. What do you have?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Will you answer my question?

TRUMP: I can hear your question. I can't hear you. Your voice is not -- I don't know admiral -- I don't know Admiral McRaven.


TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Will you answer my question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Did you turn in the written interrogatories?

TRUMP: Well, they're all finished. The written answers are finished.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You have turned them in?

TRUMP: I don't know. The lawyers have them. I don't know. They will, they will.

The written answers to the witch hunt that's been going on forever, no collusion, no nothing. They've been finished. Finished them yesterday. The lawyers have them. I assume they'll turn them in today or soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you afraid to go to a war zone?

TRUMP: No, I'm going to a war zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you happy with the sanctions on Iran?

TRUMP: Yes, the sanctions on Iran are very strong, very powerful. They're sanctions I think that have had a tremendous impact. More sanctions are going on. We have a lot of tremendous support and Iran is not the same country it was when I became President. It's a much different country. And hopefully at some point we'll be able to make a fair deal and help Iran and help the people of Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mr. President, do you really believe the Dems (INAUDIBLE) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Should Julian Assange be able to go free?

TRUMP: Well, I know that Schumer's daughter works for Facebook. Which I just found out today. And if you look at what Facebook's been doing, you know, they have some real explaining to do, how they're so Democrat oriented, all of them. But I hear Schumer's daughter works for Facebook. And I was very surprised and disappointed to learn that because nobody knew that until now.

Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Should Julian Assange go free?

TRUMP: I don't know anything about him, really, I don't much about him. I really don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What do you want Pakistan to do in the fight against terrorism?

TRUMP: I want Pakistan to help us. We're no longer paying $1.3 billion to Pakistan. We're paying them nothing because that's what they've done to help us, nothing. And I cut those payments off a long time ago. We're not paying Pakistan any money because they're not helping us at all. And we'll see where it all goes. I hope to have a good relationship with Pakistan but right now we're paying Pakistan nothing. I cut them off. They were getting $1.3 billion a year. They're not getting anything now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Don't worry about the Thanksgiving. These are tough people. They know what they're doing and they're great. And they've done a great job. You're so worried about the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They are so proud to be representing our country on the border where if you look at what's happening, Mexico, the people from Tijuana are saying, wow, these are tough people. They're fighting us. They're in fist fights all over the place. These are tough people that are coming in. Now I understand they have 500 people that have been designated as -- let's put it in a nice word -- criminals. And these are the people that are coming in, no. You don't have people coming in. The order today is not we can get around that very easily.

What I do say, Ninth Circuit is -- it's very unfair when everybody files their case in the Ninth Circuit. They file it for a reason. As far as the troops, they are proud to be on the border. They are proud to be defending our nation. And we're not letting people in.

[15:50:00] It's called catch and detain. It's not called catch and release like it has been for many years. For many years, they called it catch and release. They don't call it that any more. And our soldiers are doing an incredible job. And if you look at the walls that they're building, and if you look at all the barricades they're putting up, they have done a great job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you have any reaction to Michael Avenatti being arrested for domestic violence?

TRUMP: No, I wish him the best of luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What about the market? Do you agree with Larry Kudlow we're not headed to a recession?

TRUMP: No, I think we're doing great. As a country we're doing great. Our unemployment is at a record low. You look at all of the different statistics. I think your tech stocks have some problems. But that will come back. But no, I think we're going to do very well.

I would like to see the fed with a lower interest rate. I think the rate is too high. I think we have much more of a fed problem than we have a problem with anyone else. We're doing very well with China. China wants to make a deal very badly. They might not say that to you. But they want to make it very badly. I have another $250 billion worth of tariffs to put on if we don't make a deal. And believe me, I'll be putting them on. Because China has been ripping off our country for many, many years, and they don't rip us off with me.

We made a great deal with Canada, we made a great deal with Mexico. I appreciate the help that Mexico is giving us at the border. You see that people are not coming through. All of the fist fights and the fighting that you see are done on the Mexico side. They're not coming in here. But I appreciate what Mexico is doing. They can do more, but I appreciate what they're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mr. President, how can you say for sure all of Ivanka's e-mails were preserved?

TRUMP: Well, they were preserved. The lawyer told me they're all preserved. Historically, they're preserved.


TRUMP: They didn't make a determination. And it's just like I said. I think it was great. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. They did not make that assessment. The CIA has looked at it, they're studied it a lot. They have nothing definitive. And the fact is, maybe he did, maybe he didn't. If you look at Iran what they have done, they have been a bad actor. You look at what's happening in Syria with Assad, with hundreds of thousands of people killed, we are with Saudi Arabia. We're staying with Saudi Arabia. And by the way, just so everybody knows, I have no business whatsoever with Saudi Arabia. Couldn't care less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you letting the Saudis get away with murder?

TRUMP: No, no. No, no. This is about America first. They're paying us $400 billion-plus to purchase and invest in our country. That's probably the biggest amount ever paid to the United States. This is over a long period of time. It means hundreds of thousands of jobs. Billions of dollars of investment and product. And if you think I'm going to let Russia have that money, or those things, if you think I'm going to let China make the military equipment -- hey, China and Russia would love to make $100 billion worth of military equipment from Saudi Arabia. We have the contracts, they wanted those contracts. That would be a big, fat beautiful gift to Russia and to China. They're not going to get that gift.

Just so you understand. It's about make America great again. It's about America first. We're going to stay with Saudi Arabia. The other thing. Saudi Arabia's probably the second biggest oil producer. They've worked with us very well. We've kept oil prices down. If you want to see oil prices go to $150 a barrel, like -- by the way, Russia would love to see that. All you have to do is break up our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Will you meet with the Saudi Crown Prince next weekend?

TRUMP: I don't know that he's going to be there. But if he is I would.


TRUMP: Cindy Hyde-Smith is a spectacular woman. She's a great senator. She came in, she's done a fantastic job in a short period of time. She made a statement which I know that she feels very badly about it. And it was just sort of said in jest. As she said. And she's a tremendous woman. And it's a shame that she has to go through this. I think she's going to do very well. I really believe she's going to do very well. I've gotten to know her well. She's a person that loves the people of Mississippi. She loves the people of this country. She's going to be a great senator. I'm going to do two events in Mississippi on Monday. I'm doing one near -- let's see. I'm doing one near Jackson. I'm doing one in the Gulf coast.

[15:55:00] And we're going to do one in Tupelo. So, we might even do three. But we're going to do two. I think Tupelo probably is definite. And I think Gulfport is definite. Cindy Hyde-Smith is a tremendous woman who truly loves the people of Mississippi and our country. And I think she's going to win. Very big.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why won't you let Ivanka be interviewed with Democrats about the e-mails?

TRUMP: Oh, Ivanka can handle herself. Ivanka can handle herself. These were all in the historical records. There was no deletion whatsoever, unlike Hillary Clinton who deleted 30,000 e-mails, unlike Hillary Clinton who had a server in the basement, Ivanka didn't. This was just early on when she came in. These calls were not classified, unlike Hillary Clinton's calls which were classified and it's all fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Holiday pardons. Any holiday pardons?

TRUMP: I love the pardons for the turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you going to pardon any people?

TRUMP: I haven't thought of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). TRUMP: No, I think what Assad has done is horrible. I mean, really horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: A question about the recent "Time" magazine online poll. Would you feel (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: It's called person of the year, right?


TRUMP: It's no longer man of the year, right? I don't know. That's up to "Time" magazine. I've been there before. I can't imagine anybody else other than Trump. Can you imagine anybody other than Trump? Huh? Have a good time, everybody. Thank you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Welcome to "THE LEAD," I'm Jim Sciutto in for Jake again today. You've been listening to President Trump speaking to reporters on his way to spend the holiday at Mar-a-Lago. Addressing many questions there. And I think you heard there, you could say, a distillation of foreign policy under President Trump, placing the prospect of business and trade with Saudi Arabia, oil prices above any mention of U.S. values, human rights or indeed the findings of the U.S. intelligence community. It's confident assessment that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince. The President claiming that assessment is not definitive. CNN's

reporting contradicts that. The President saying, he does not want oil prices to rise and does not want to lose arms deals to the Saudis. The President also on near key issue of the day, defending his daughter, Ivanka Trump, her use of private e-mails, saying that she's different from Hillary Clinton in that she did not delete them and that those e-mails remain preserved as government records.

Certainly, a lot to break down here. We're joined by our panel now for reactions to this. And Phil Mudd, I want to go to you first as a former CIA official there, to hear the President summarily on the same day he was supposed to receive what we are told is quite a confident assessment from the CIA that the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the murder and dismemberment of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. For the President then to come out and say, well, it's not definitive, he may have done it, he may not have done it. How does the U.S. intelligence community receive that reaction?

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It doesn't have to be definitive and you're never going to get definitive. Does a court of law in the United States say if you don't have a definitive verdict you say not guilty or guilty? The President is making a false distinction between whether or not he's got a phone call, for example, from the Crown Prince, the assassination team and whether you can draw a conclusion that a reasonable person would say the Crown Prince was involved in authorizing the assassination.

Look, you can have your cake and eat it too and the President has chosen not to. You can say I think the Saudis are guilty. I think we should sanction them. I think we should limit weapon sales. And I also think we should maintain a relationship. What you cannot do is to say, I'd like to ignore the facts and guarantee that we maintain a relationship with the Saudis, ignoring that they just assassinated a private citizen. He could have said something else. He could have said we want to have a relationship and also sanction them. He chose not to.

SCIUTTO: Scott Jennings, what vision of America did you hear there from the U.S. President? Quite remarkable. And as Phil is saying, creating a false choice there. Why can't the U.S. President hold an ally accountable for a brutal murder while at the same time noting and maintaining the shared interests that they have? Did you see the President there defend U.S. values or human rights in any way?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a difficult issue, because what I have assumed is that the President and his administration, along with Israel, believe that Saudi Arabia is critical to whatever peace plan they are about to roll out. We know from press accounts that Jared Kushner is about to roll out their vision for Middle East peace.