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Report: Ivanka Says on Being Heckled, Politics Is Politics; Trump Speaks on Lumber Tariff Against Canada; Senators Being Asked to WH For North Korea Briefing; Interview with Sen. Cory Gradner. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 25, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She said that the Eric Trump story was not the way that it went down. She said that like many people, most people, she was appalled and heartbroken from the images coming out of Syria. She shared her thoughts with her father. However, she made it very clear that her influence didn't force the President to make the decision to strike Syria. She added the President doesn't act on emotions alone that he has officials and generals that advised him and that her voice, while present, was not the factor in the President's important decision to strike out against Syria in retaliation.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Kate in Berlin, thank you. I just want you to listen to Ivanka Trump now describing her role in the white house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He's been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive. In the new reality of --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: You heard that from the audience.

BROWER: I think in my personal experience and you were asking about my role as daughter and as an adviser, as a daughter, I can speak on a personal level knowing that he encouraged me and enabled me to thrive.

BALDWIN: This after John Oliver took Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner to task on his show. I'm quoting him. "Is Ivanka really the moderating influence that people claim? And what in Jared Kushner's background gives him such a big portfolio?"

JOHN OLIVER, The popular assumption is that Jared and Ivanka will be moderating

influences, basically if Trump is thinking about pressing a button labeled nuke earth. They will on behalf of all of us guide his hands towards the button labeled, hey, maybe don't. Someone with the amount of power that he has, have you ever heard him speak? Seriously. What does his voice sound like? You don't know, do you? It wasn't easy. But we did actually manage to find an interview with him on TV in 2009 and here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER CARICATURE: Some other website and online media victims.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Okay. That was Gilbert Godfrey. That was not the voice of Jared Kushner. With me now, CNN political commentator who served in President George W. Bush's white house and Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. Good to have both of you back on. We just want to steer this into their roles in the white house. Paris, my question to you, it is a mystery what Ivanka Trump is doing in the white house. Forgive me. President Trump is sitting around with some farmers there at the white house.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: And things are turning around. I know they are turning around for you folks. I just want to welcome you very much to the white house special place, America's farmers and ranchers. I especially want to congratulation secretary now -- I can say Secretary Sonny Perdue who was just sworn in as the secretary of agriculture and sworn in by Justice Thomas. It was a beautiful ceremony and we're going to celebrate later and that's great. A good vote, too.

You didn't have a 51-49. He had a very big vote. I thank Justice Thomas, great man, great person. We appreciate it. America's farming tradition stretches back to its earliest days. Farmers put down roots from coast to coast. They feed not only our nation but millions of people around the world and we're going to open that up much more for you, folks, because as you know, it's not totally open.

[15:35:00] We learned that yesterday with Canada where the dairy farmers up in Wisconsin, upstate New York, border states in particular, are not able to sell their dairy products into Canada and this has been going on for a while and we're not going to put up with it.

And we put a very big tax and won't be putting a big tariff on lumber, timber coming into this country. People don't realize, Canada has been very rough on the United States. Everyone thinks of Canada of being nice but they've outsmarted our politicians for many years and you people understand that. So, we did institute a very big tariff. We announced it yesterday and we're going to take care of our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and upstate New York and lots of other places. So, I think you people all probably agree with that, right? Would you agree with that?

SONNY PERDUE, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: You got to believe it.

TRUMP: Our farmers deserve a government that empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much and that's what today's executive order is all about. With this order, I'm directing Secretary Perdue to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations to farmers and rural communities. Sonny, I've already signed some that will help the farmer a lot. We got rid of some of the biggest ones. That was a big help, right?

PERDUE: Yes.

TRUMP: They won't tell you about it but it's big numbers. This order also establishes the interagency task force on agricultural and rural prosperity to be led by secretary Perdue. I just want to tell you that it's an honor to be with you because we continue a relentless effort to make life better for hardworking Americans which includes the farmers around this table. Including our ranchers, rural community folks, we're having a very, very big impact. It's just getting started. Sonny is going to identify additional areas where we can get rid of unnecessary regulations and you people are going to be so prosperous and hire more people than currently make work for you. So, do we have the executive order, please? Thanks. So, this is promoting agricultural and rural prosperity in America. There's a lot of words I won't bother reading everything. But agriculture and rural prosperity. We don't want to be taken advantage of by other countries and that's stopping. And that's stopping fast. Okay. Thank you. Perhaps I should give this pen to Sonny Perdue. What do you think?

PERDUE: Thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you fear a trade war with Canada, sir?

TRUMP: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why not?

TRUMP: They have a tremendous surplus with the United States. Whenever they have a surplus, I have no fear. By the way, virtually every country has a surplus with the United States. We have massive trade deficits. When we're the country with the deficits, we have no fear.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And what's your honest opinion, sir, of the 100-day mark.

TRUMP: The wall's going to get built, folks. The wall's going to get built and it's going to stop drugs and a lot of people from coming in that shouldn't be here and it's going to have a tremendous effect on human trafficking. It's a problem that in the history of this world, human trafficking is going on and it's going to get built and we're sending record numbers in terms of stopping people from coming in and stopping drugs from coming in. You can see the numbers down 73, 74 percent. I would say Secretary Kelly is doing a good job. And he said we desperately need the wall. And we're going to have the wall built. I watch these shows and the pundits in the morning. I don't know what they're talking about. The wall gets built. 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When, Mr. President? When will the wall get built?

[15:40:00] TRUMP: Soon. We're already preparing. We're doing plans. We're doing

specifications. We're doing a lot of work on the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In your first term?

TRUMP: The wall is very, very important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your first term?

TRUMP: Well, it's certainly -- yes. Sure. Got plenty of time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: So, it was just the tail end of that. We really wanted to make sure we heard which questions. They were shouted at the President and what he was answering. Are you worried about a trade war with Canada because of the 20 percent tariff on lumber there? He said no. There's a tremendous surplus. There was a question on the wall because he's essentially blinked, had said that he wanted the wall spending bill and it's kicked down the road for now.

I have Republican Senator Cory Gardener with me as a member of the foreign relations committee. We'll talk about North Korea, I promise you. He's now saying yes, yes, this was a campaign promise, this wall will be built and he's backing down on this week being the week that the funding goes into that spending bill.

CORY GARDNER, SENATOR, COLORADO: I think it's important that we address border security and Donald Trump is trying to accomplish it with the border wall. Now, if you ask many Democrats and Republicans what they have voted on in the past several years when it comes to appropriations bills, most have voted for some kind of funding for border security. It's the law of the land that we have a barrier on the border. The argument is going to be over cost and is this the appropriate response and measure and it's going to be an ongoing negotiation.

BALDWIN: Quickly, we're getting quotes from Republican senators in just how the President does business. Some of your colleagues have said he's overestimating his leverage given his overall approval ratings. Some saying, making it difficult sometimes once you have a negotiation. What do you make of how the President is doing business with those of you on Capitol Hill?

GARDNER: Well, if you look at the interaction between this administration and previous administration, all of us have been invited to a briefing on North Korea. I don't recall ever going to the white house for a briefing on a national security event in the past.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about that. I understand there's a perfectly good stuff up there on The Hill and I can't think of any recent time, how all of you are getting there, buses, SUVs, rolling down constitutional avenue to head to this old executive office building. Why do you think you're going there? GARDNER: Arguing about where the meeting on North Korea is about the

stupidest thing that Washington could be doing. It's something we don't need to do. It's ridiculous. Let's fight about the policy on North Korea. Let's argue about the right direction for this country. Having an argument over where a meeting occurs, that's just silly.

BALDWIN: You know critics are saying it's part of a big show for the white house. Are you concerned that you and your colleagues are being used?

GARDNER: We're talking about North Korea a regime that has dozens of nuclear weapons that is testing them.

BALDWIN: Forgive me, we're also talking politics.

GARDNER: The last thing we ought to be doing is arguing about where the meeting is. That's just stupid. If Washington gets caught in an argument over where a meeting is, no wonder the American people are so pissed off at it.

BALDWIN: I appreciate your candor. Let's talk about North Korea and Secretary Kelly saying that this is the first President having to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea with a weapon that could hit the west coast of this country. Is it wise that the rhetoric from this white house, to poke the bear, so to speak, an unpredictable leader as Kim Jong-Un?

[15:45:00] GARDNER: I think the United States needs to show strength in coordination with our allies between South Korea, Japan, using that relationship to force china who has the most control over the North Korean regime of any nation around the globe using that relationship to force China to take action with one goal in mind. That's the peaceful denuclearization of Kim Jong-Un. The deployment of an anti- missile is important and we need to show strength to South Korea. But I do think soft power is extremely important in this instance. We haven't utilized all of the tools at our disposal. We haven't exercised all of the sanctions we could impose on those agencies, businesses, entities involved with participating in business with North Korea's illicit activities. They need to show the world how they are going to work for a plan with China to step up and do more.

BALDWIN: What about the other big news out of Washington today, this news about General Flynn, President's former national security adviser, the fact that we've heard he did not properly disclose payments from the speech he gave in Russia a couple of years ago, might have broken the law. Last hour I spoke with Susan Hennessey over at the NSA who said she was even more concerned over -- her word was the recklessness in the white house clearance, the screening process versus even the fact that this slipped through the cracks. So, in your view, what is worse?

GARDNER: Well, I think this is another very important matter for the investigations taking place at the intelligence committee, the Senate intelligence committee, to look into, to understand, that we need transparency, we need to have that can build accountability. I hope they look at shortcomings and failures with regard to Mr. Flynn's activities and paperwork and illicit wrongdoings and that needs to be part of the investigation.

BALDWIN: Senator Gardener, thank you so much for the time.

Coming up next, the roles of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the white house. Are they able to handle the heroin epidemic in the country? We'll be back in a second.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right. Let's pick up where we left off a second ago. We were talking about Ivanka Trump getting booed and hissed sitting on this world stage at the w20 defending her father. Questions also about her role in the white house. Angela Rye and Paris Denard are here with me. I was asking you, you know, do you know, because not a lot of people do, we know she's an adviser to the President in the west wing, but do you know what exactly she's advising him on?

PARIS DENARD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One of the unique things about the role of senior adviser is they are undefined. The role Karl Rove played is vastly different that be the role that Jared or Valerie Jarrett played as senior adviser and now when you have this role that Ivanka Trump is playing, I think that it is -- it's evolving. She's engaged with the innovation of the white house and that new task force that they are doing. She's heavily involved when it comes to women's and entrepreneurial issues especially with girls in STEM. I know that it's multiple different things and different avenues that she's doing and that's why you have a senior adviser role because they are not like other roles in the white house where there's a strict defined chart on how you're supposed to do the job. It's open-ended like that, and the other point I want to make is this. The qualifications should not be put into question. Ivanka and Jared are highly qualified. Both Jared and Valerie Jarrett came from real estate management development companies. Nobody questioned her credentials and the fact that these people are being questioned just because their last name happens to be Trump or because he is married to a Trump is uncalled for.

BALDWIN: OK. All right. So that's Paris. Angela, I saw you smile and raising your and. Your term.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, first, I just want to be very clear we should never again compare Valerie Jarrett's credentials to Jared Kushner. Let's talk about, you know, a black woman all-star lawyer who not only came from real estate but also a big law firm and also has -- had worked for the mayor of the city of Chicago for some time. So, let's not at all mix credentials there. While I appreciate Paris' loose definition of what a senior adviser means and having worked on Capitol Hill on a committee as a senior adviser and council. What I will say is nonetheless there was a job description, nonetheless there was something by which I had to be accountable to so that I could, one, get promoted and get raises and also, I could deliver for taxpayers because those are the folks that actually pay us when we're in these roles.

The real challenge is these roles being ill-defined or undefined in these spaces means there's nothing to hold them accountable to in terms of benchmark. They are also hoping that this type of loose association with a job description means that they can tiptoe into conflicts of interest without any issue. We saw Ivanka doing that just last week. I think the real challenge is she doesn't have a real defined because we all know what role Ivanka is playing and that's the role of the first lady because Melania is not checking for Donald. Not even trying to be down here so that's the other issue.

[15:55:00] DENARD: Unfair.

RYE: Jared has a different role and that is very fluid he is supposed to be leading a SWAT team of professionals to help reorganize the government. He's supposed to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supposed to be a special envoy to Iraq and China and all these things that in many instances are darn near impossible for anybody else.

BALDWIN: On your point and, Paris, I want to get your side, because on the Jared Kushner piece, I go back to John Oliver who is a huge, huge critic of this administration but he said it's not unusual for powerful men to give their son-in-laws, do-nothing jobs but leave it to Donald Trump who can't even get a nepotism right to give him a do- everything job. I mean, that has been, Paris, a huge criticism is wide-ranging, like the secretary of everything. How do you respond to that?

DENARD: I think that we should applaud the fact that someone has that much trust, the President has that much trust in someone that he can help facilitate, lead, manage, bring people to the table to solve some of the toughest issues, like criminal justice reform when he was on The Hill advocating for that. Angela would be in great support of this administration doing more to engage on that issue. I think we all should be applauding the fact that this administration has someone on The Hill advocating and figuring out ways that they can work together on tough issues, like the opioid epidemic and criminal justice reform and other things like innovation and figuring out how to make this government more efficient and getting rid of the rigmarole and the red tape.

We should celebrate these things and not demonize these people who are Americans first and public servants second.

BALDWIN: 30 seconds for you.

RYE: Really, really quick. Just on criminal justice reform, and you know that this is an issue that's near and dear to my heart. When you talk about criminal justice reform under this administration, we're talking about someone who has talked about law and order, and what that means is there are more black and brown people who will end up in jail, and that is the road they are going down with the private prison partnerships and getting rid of the clemency initiative under Barack Obama so that's the wrong way. I'll applaud him if he picks back up the pieces so it doesn't leave our homes in shambles.

BALDWIN: Criminal justice. We'll have that conversation another time. I appreciate your voices as always. Thank you. We are just minutes away from the closing bell, a massive day on Wall Street. The DOW, look at, that up more than 200 points for the second straight day. You're watching CNN. Back in just a moment.