Return to Transcripts main page


Hillary Clinton: Trump "Obsessed" with Me; Top Nuke Commander Says Would Resist "Illegal" Strike Order; Trump's Decision on Elephant Trophies to Come Next Week; Trump Designating North Korea a State Sponsor of Terror. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 20, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:05] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton goes in on President Trump, first labeling him as a sexual assaulter and then later accusing him of being "obsessed" with Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidates was speaking at a forum with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm going to keep speaking out. Apparently, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out. Apparently, there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly. Between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done? I don't understand it.




BALDWIN: So here's the tweet that she was referencing. President Trump writing, "Hillary Clinton is the worst and biggest loser of all time. She just can't stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life, and give it another try in three years."

Let's start there. I have Steve Rogers with me here in New York, a member of President Trump's reelection advisory board, and Robby Mook, CNN political commentator and Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager.

Gentlemen, good to have you both on.

Steve, I have to start with you.

Why is the president so obsessed with Hillary Clinton?

STEVER ROGEERS, MEMBER, TRUMP REELECTION ADVISORY BOARD: Let's put things in perspective. She's at an event to honor her husband, 25 years since he was elected. What does he do? Instead of focusing in on the man she loves, she focused on the man she hates. Who is obsessed with who? She's a distraction. She's a distraction to both parties. But when we talk about obsession, it speaks for itself.

BALDWIN: Steve, I have two pages of tweets, all the mentions of Hillary Clinton. It's like 11 times last month. That's a lot of Hillary Clinton.

ROGERS: Yes, it is.

BALDWIN: The election was more than a year ago. Why did he let her go?

ROGERS: Because she doesn't let him go. It was interesting what she said. This is who we voted for. We expect -- she's got to expect a response. I'm comfortable with the fact that he's transparent, you know what he's going to say, this is him. It's refreshing, at least to me, I don't have to worry about what he is thinking behind closed doors.

[11:35:18] BALDWIN: Steve finds it refreshing.

Robby Mook, how do you see it?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know what to say. First, he said she's a massive distraction, and they basically acknowledged it's Donald Trump who is making this a distraction. I agree this is his team to create a foil. He's in real trouble here. His party controls every aspect of the government and they can't seem to get anything done. I think it's partly because the president doesn't understand the policy, not in the middle of it, not able to lobby, that's basically why they stopped him from going on the Hill. So I think the president loves this. This is a way for him to talk about anything other than his inability to get a law passed or the substance of the law that is Congress has on the table. They're not good policy.

BALDWIN: Steve, we know -- I want you to respond to what Robby said, a lot of people are saying, Donald Trump needs villains in his life, and Hillary Clinton is a great villain. Who -- is this an old playbook strategy that's going to work with him again?

ROGERS: I think he's telling the truth, how it is.

In reference to responding to your guest, the president has accomplished a lot. Look what he accomplished in the Mideast. The temperature in North Korea is going down because he was pretty masterful in how he got China involved. I have to --


BALDWIN: I don't know how you can fully measure the temperature has gone down based on what the president said, let's be fair.

ROGERS: No more missile launches. Chinese envoys are there.

BALDWIN: So far.

ROGERS: So we'll keep it that way.

Look, the tweets I think people have made a lot out of the tweets.

BALDWIN: It's a lot.

ROGERS: There's a lot of a lot, I agree with you. But the fact of the matter is, I said I see it refreshes, because to me, a lot of these things are said behind closed doors, the establishment is lying to us, thee always lying to us. I have a president that is drawing the establishment out, and the guy has nothing to hide. He owes nothing to no one, except the people who elected him to office.

BALDWIN: Robby, we know that, you know, your former boss, Hillary Clinton, she is vowing to continue speaking out against Trump's well, knowing Trump and his inner circle have made it clear, do you think she's taking advantage of this, and therefore also to a degree responsible for this continued back-and-forth?

MOOK: I think the clip you showed tells you everything you need to know. She's just responding to the fact that the president is tweeting so much, I think she's entitled to do that everybody in our democracy is entitled to speak out. I hope he continues to speak out. I obviously supported her and spoke on behalf of her. She's been an advocate for families and children, and we need that now more than ever. My question is why in the world is the president raising taxes on the people that provide tax breaks for people like himself? His whole business empire is a series of LLCs. He'll get a massive tax break here. So I actually do wish we would spend more time talking about the substance, because I think this tax bill will go down in flames. It's a really bad deal for the people across this country who voted for Donald Trump.


ROGERS: How about love Bill and stop hating Donald Trump. Love your husband, get away from everything else.

BALDWIN: We'll end it there.

MOOK: I think what Hillary Clinton loves is seeing the American people succeed, and I think this tax bill and the repeat of Obamacare are disaster for those people, and she is speaking from a place of caring for a lot of people.

ROGERS: And we are succeeding.

[11:39:00] BALDWIN: And we leave it. Steve, Robby, thank you so much. Always want difference opinions here.

Still ahead, it's not every day you hear a top U.S. military chief saying he would reject an illegal nuclear strike on order from the president. That happened over the weekend. What does that mean and why is he sharing that with the world? That's next.


BALDWIN: The top U.S. nuclear commander said he would not follow orders if it was illegal. General John Hyten making that statement over the weekend at a security conference.


GEN. JOHN HYTEN, U.S. NUCLEAR COMMANDER: The process is simple. I provide advice to the president, he'll tell me what to do. If it's illegal, guess what's going to happen?


HYTEN: I would say, Mr. President, it's illegal. And he says, what would be legal? And we come up with options of a mix of capabilities determined on what the situation is. That's the way it works. It's not that complicated.


BALDWIN: Not that complicated he says.

Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon.

Barbara, you say this isn't so much about what the general said, but when he said it. How do you mean?

BARBARA STARR: Well, look, what we know is there are members of Congress, in allied countries that have expressed concern about President Trump's rhetoric about North Korea, and that it might signal the president is more willing to use nuclear weapons. General Hyten knows that that conversation is out there. So when he gets asked the question, how remarkable is it that he continues to get asked this, and he is answering in detail, in public, to reassure people that there is a process.

What is an illegal order? The military cannot obey illegal orders. They have to say no. In the nuclear world, an illegal order would be not equal to the threat. Nuclear weapons kill millions of people. Unless you were under immediate attack, you can't use them, it's illegal. There are conventional options that could be recommended to the president. So it's a pretty strict following of international law, and that is what General Hyten is talking about here.

[11:45:28] BALDWIN: Got it. So not massively surprising then he would say no to something illegal.

Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Coming up here, President Trump putting the brakes on a decision to allow the import of elephant hunting trophies into the U.S. He calls it a horror show. The CEO of the Humane Society joins me next to hear his reaction.


[11:50:17] BALDWIN: What a difference a couple of days and quite a bit of outrage makes. Just days after the Fish and Wildlife Service announced they would lift restrictions and elephant trophies imports from Zimbabwe, President Trump tweeted he would put the decision on hold. Over the weekend, he added, "Big game trophy decision will be announced next week, but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal."

I have Wayne Pacelle with me. He's the CEO of the Humane Society.

Wayne, hearing those words from the president, "hard pressed to change my mind of this horror show," when you saw that, what did you think?

WAYNE PACELLE, CEO, HUMANE SOCIETY: If you are an animal advocate, it's impossible not to be tremendously heartened by the intervention and second by his full-throated treatment of this issue. To call trophy hunting of elephants a horror show is strong language and if you really know the details of this and people travel thousands of miles from their homes to kill these majestic animals to disrupt families and take family members from prides or herds and see the animal who is grieve and are emotionally distraught by this. Animals who suffer as a consequence of being shot or shot with an arrow by these American hunters, you have to just be tremendously encouraged bite president's intervention.

BALDWIN: You think about the people who are around him. Hiss. We have the video and the pictures. It's tough to look at, but his son, Eric and Don Jr and their trophies. Here you go. Apparently, this was a priority for don Jr earlier on during the campaign, not to mention the Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, is big on hunting as well. Wayne, how hopeful are you that the president will push back when he has all of these people around him who clearly want this.

PACELLE: I think this issue of the trophy hunting of elephants and every alliance is one of the 90-percenter issues. There are very few people who support this activity. The president has the right intuition on this issue. A lot of people say how intuitive he is in terms of feeling for issues. If he puts his feelers out and judges the sense and sensibilities of the American electorate, he has got to come to the conclusion that this is a 90 or 95- percenter issue. I hope that people in the family are evolving on this issue. Laura Trump, Eric's wife, is a devoted animal advocate and others around him are. I think he is seeing this issue stirring. Remember this is the United States where, in May of 2017, Ringling Brothers shuttered the operations and said we don't want the elephants chain and transported in railroad cars. That's the same public looking at the issue. Obviously, more inhumane to kill them and shoot them and remove animals from their families. I think this is a rising tide of consciousness on animal welfare and in particular with elephants. We had so much talk of the ivory trade. How can we reconcile the idea of stopping the ivory trade and allow the rich elite American hunters?

BALDWIN: As someone with an adopted elephant in Kenya, I understand where you are coming from. Wayne Pacelle, thank you so much.

PACELLE: Thank you, Brooke.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: We are getting breaking news now from the White House. President Trump will be designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terror. We have those details, next.


[11:55:32] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning. We just returned from a historic 12-day-trip to Asia. Everywhere we went, the American delegation was greeted with tremendous hospitality and tremendous respect. People are respecting our country again, believe me. We brought back more than $300 billion worth of deals which could reach well over a trillion dollars within a very near future. That means jobs for the United States at a very high level. We have just come up with the best job performance in over 17 years. This is a lot more jobs. We think the number will get a lot better. Also put a lot of people who have not been able to find jobs back to work. They are not registering right now. They will be registered in a positive sense. Japanese car companies will be expanding plants in our country. We work very closely with Prime Minister Abe on this.

We are renegotiating the bad trade deal with South Korea and started talking about bilateral trade with many countries in Asia and most importantly we made clear that we cannot continue to be treated unfairly when it comes to trade any longer. It's not fair to our companies and it's not fair to our workers. Last year, we lost over $800 billion on trade. On trade deals with other countries. We had a negative number. A trade deficit of almost $800 billion with other countries. That's not going to be happening. That's changing. I explained that to them from the standpoint of Asia. They understand it. Every one of them understands it.

One of the primary goals of our trip was to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I want to begin by meeting and by talking about the fact that we will be instituting a very critical step and that will start right now. Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have happened years ago. In addition, threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.

As we take this action today, our thoughts turn to Otto Warmbier and others affected by the North Korean oppression.

This designation will oppose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime you have all been reading about and in some cases writing about. The Treasury Department will be announcing an additional sanction and

a large one on North Korea. This will be going on over the next two weeks and it will be the highest level of sanctions. The North Korean regime must be lawful and end its unlawful nuclear ballistic missile development and cease all support for international terrorism, which it is not doing.

Today, cabinet discussions will also focus on crucial domestic policy issues. I want to congratulate the House of Representatives for passing a vital and historic tax cut. And I'm very hopeful the Senate will do the same very soon. We will give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas. Hopefully, that will be a great big beautiful Christmas present. With the Democrats giving us no votes for tax cuts for purely political reasons, obstructionists, it will be up to the Republicans to come through for Americans. I think they will. I hope they will. It's up to the Senate. And if they approve it, the House and the Senate will get together -- and I will be there in the middle of it -- and we will come up with a bill that will be spectacular for growth and spectacular for the people of this country.

Our tax plan brings urgent relief to hardworking families, will reduce rates, increase the amount of income tax at a rate of zero.