Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Kushner Averts Deadline to Hand Over Documents to Lawmakers; Trump Attacks CNN International Journalists; Putin Signs New Law Allowing Designation of Foreign Media Companies as Foreign Agents; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce Engagement; Trump Criticized for "Pocahontas" Comment. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 27, 2017 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] SHARON LAFRANIERE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: His detractors would say he's gone from being seen but not heard to not seen and not heard.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now that Bannon and Priebus are gone, you write about how his supporters say this is success and not a failure and that Mr. Kushner helped stabilize the White House. But let me go back to your point on the chief of staff and how, perhaps, that's limiting Jared Kushner's role and the quote was Jared works for me, and you talked to a couple of people that talked about the possibility of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump leaving the West Wing by the end of the year, but the White House is pushing back on that, correct?

LAFRANIERE: Yes, that's right. Three White House advisers told us that John Kelly discussed a strategy by which Jared and Ivanka would both be gone by the end of the year, but Mr. Kelly denied that to us on the record and the betting right now seems to be that we would stay. Also a factor is that his father is you remembering him to stay on because if he left he could become the fall guy for every White House mistake that's been made all year.

BALDWIN: You -- and you describe a meeting, and this is back in time with former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, where Reince Priebus asks Jared Kushner, what would this newly created office of American innovation, to which Kushner is said to have replied what exactly?

LAFRANIERE: He said to have replied, what the heck do you care except for it wasn't the heck. He substituted an expletive.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: And that was with Reince Priebus in charge. And that was, according to your reporting, tone and tenor of Jared Kushner, which has now drastically changed, yes?

LAFRANIERE: Yes. And Jared supporters would say, look, this is Jared's choice and Jared's doing that by helping push out Bannon and Priebus he paved the way for Kelly and that, you know, imposed more order. It's worth remembering that at the start of the year, Jared was telling people that everything went in through him and he had a finger in every pie.

BALDWIN: It was a fascinating read in "The New York Times."

Sharon LaFraniere, thank you very much.

LAFRANIERE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Still ahead, President Trump attacks the credibility of our colleagues at CNN International, and two of them, who have covered war zones for decades, join me to set the record straight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:36:51] BALDWIN: President Trump took to Twitter again this weekend to attack CNN writing, quote, "FOX News is much more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S. CNN International is still a major source of, parenthesis, fake news, and they represent our nation to the world very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth in them."

CNN's defense of this, "Mr. President, it is not our job here at CNN to represent the U.S. to the world. It is yours. Our job is to bring our viewers the facts and we are unfaltering in our mission."

Even former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden jumped in to the defense of the free press saying this, quote, "If this is who we are or who we are becoming I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now, it was not possible for me to conceive of an American president capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press, or the First Amendment."

Let me bring in two of my colleagues and two of CNN's most respected international correspondents, Ben Wedeman, our reporter who has been at CNN 23 years, much of that time spent in war zones, and Clarissa Ward, who has spent the past decade reporting from the front lines, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of them have earned multiple global awards for their reporting.

So thank you both so much for coming on.

And, Ben Wedeman, we will throw up the tweet and your picture of your bloodied head from when you were in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, and you wrote, "At CNN International, we shed blood to bring you the news." Nothing fake about that. Tell me about your response.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't want to be disrespectful to the president of the United States, and this was not meant as a diss to him, but I wanted to make the point that in our jobs we run risks. The picture you just saw was me after being hit in the head with a rubber bullet in the summer of 2014, but back in 2000, I was shot in the back in the Gaza Strip, the bullet entered and left in two places on the front of me. I was in hospital for months. Four years after that I was in the Gaza Strip with my Camerawoman Mary Rogers and we were stopped by gunmen who kidnapped our Producer Riad Ali and held him for 24 hours during which they subjected him to mock execution. This was not an easy job. This is a dangerous job. I don't do it for the money. I do it because I believe in the importance of the work, and I wanted the president to understand that and on the question of FOX News. I have friends at FOX News. In the field we are friends. We cooperate together. We share information. We look out for one another. We do not want to be divided. And as I said. And for FOX, I have friends at FOX, here in Cairo, one of them Greg Peltcoat, was beaten up by Egyptian thugs during the revolution. We tried to help one another, and we sympathize with one another and there's no anger or hatred among them and I would beg President Trump to understand just how dangerous this job is and how we out here in the field, FOX, CNN, we are not enemies. We will not be divided. We are friends, and to just understand that this is a dangerous job. It's not one we take lightly -- Brooke?

[14:40:25] BALDWIN: You would know in all your years.

And, Clarissa Ward, same question to you. You saw the president's tweet this weekend. How did it make you feel?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, my real concern in all of this is that it emboldens people in different parts of the world who may be hostile to the west who may be hostile toward western journalists because it sends a message very clearly that even our own president is volubly disparaging us, and it's open season, and it's OK to come out and say that we're a joke. The problem is what might be funny and a joke in the U.S. is potentially life-threatening when you're out in the field.

The other thing I found frustrating is most of us, the vast majority of us who are covering international news are not covering the day to day minutia of U.S. politics. We're not covering the Trump White House beyond covering what the world's response to the Trump White House has been. For the most part, we are focused on covering wars, famines and natural disasters and genocides and issues across the world that, frankly, have no business entering this kind of petty partisan arena. So for a number of reasons, it's obviously disheartening because of the kind of work we do.

But I do also think there is a significant elevation of the threat to journalists, particularly American journalists when you have the president of the United States of America coming out and saying that it is essentially OK to disparage and mock journalists like an institution like CNN International.

BALDWIN: That's what I was worrying about.

Ben Wedeman, are you worried that it sends, A, this message to people around the world that it's open season on journalists and, B, the language from -- here you have the leader of the free world trying to silence the press. I'm wondering, too, what message that sends to other leaders and other -- to dictators around the world.

WEDEMAN: Here's the problem, Brooke. I work in the Middle East where we sometimes are in very hostile environments in countries where the regime is hostile, where oftentimes people are sent out to do us harm or to threaten us, but in the past, I think they were always hesitant to unleash some of the brutal force they had behind them because they knew that the power of the United States was behind us, that the president of the United States supported the American media, regardless of whether we were critical or not. Now it seems to be conditional, that if we report in a way that the president of the United States does not like, he doesn't have our back. And I've been in situations where we need help. I referred to that kidnapping in Gaza. When that happened, the United States' embassy in Tel Aviv jumped into action and did what they could to help us while we were in Gaza. Will people feel compelled to help us when they think that the president of the United States has no regard, disrespects CNN International? I worry about that.

BALDWIN: I can't even believe we're having the conversation, and you're making the point that you are, but we have to.

Clarissa, the other thing is the timing of all of this, right? You know, you cover a lot of Russia. Right after the Russian President Vladimir Putin just signed a law aimed at foreign journalists that the president decides to take to Twitter and do this this week. Essentially, this law says that the Russian government can designate foreign media companies like CNN as foreign agents and can impose sanctions on them. So what does this mean for foreign journalists like you two in the field?

WARD: Well, first of all, I would just say with regard to what we are seeing happening in Russia, that's largely a response to the U.S.'s decision to designate Russia and sputnik as foreign agency. That should be seen more or less in the context of a geopolitical back and forth, tit for tat sort of spat.

Speaking more broadly, it is concerning when the president talks about potentially putting pressure on an institution like CNN which has been doing free and fair reporting across the world for many decades now. It is very disturbing to think that as ben said that the White House potentially would not have your back, that the president of the United States would potentially not intercede on your behalf and let's be clear about this, there has always been tension between the White House, between politicians, and between people in power and a free and open and fair press. That tension has existed for a long time, but I think everybody has always understood the value of having this institution, and for that reason, people have been able to bite their tongues and get on with their business which is exactly what we at CNN Internationally would love to be doing -- Brooke?

[14:45:38] BALDWIN: I have tremendous respect for both of you.

Clarissa and Ben, thank you both. We keep doing our jobs. Thank you.

Coming up here on CNN, Prince Harry announcing his engagement to the American actress. They just gave their first interview. We will hear from the newly engaged couple, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:23] BALDWIN: Now to the news that puts an end to the royal wedding rumors. Britain's Prince Harry makes it official. He will be getting married with American Actress Meghan Markle. The couple stepped out in front of the cameras this morning after

announcing their engagement and you see the bling there on her left hand showing off a ring that has a personal touch. Prince Harry designed it himself and the smaller diamonds come from his mother Diana's personal collection. And we'll talk about the ring in just a second.

The couple did their first interview as an engaged couple with the BBC and they entered a bunch of questions, like, how did he pop the question?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MARKLE, AMERICAN ACTRESS ENGAGED TO PRINCE HARRY: It was a cozy night. What were we doing? Just roasting chicken.

PRICE HARRY: Roasted chicken.

MARKLE: Trying to roast a chicken and it just -- it was just an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.

PRINCE HARRY: Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was it an instant yes from you?

MARKLE: Yes. As a matter of fact, I could barely let you finish proposing -- can I say yes now?

PRINCE HARRY: She didn't let me finish. Can I say yes? And then I had the ring on my finger and I said can I give you the ring? Oh, yes, the ring. It was a really nice moment and it was just the two of us and I think I managed to catch her by surprise, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And this is how long after you first met?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: "Vanity Fair senior writer, Josh Duboff, I know you covered the story in October, Meghan Markle. Nothing says romance like chicken.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Tell me more about here. Reading the "Vanity Fair" piece, her mom is African-American, father is white. Been married before. Tell me more.

JOSH DUBOFF, SENIOR WRITER, VANITY FAIR: She's been -- most Americans might be familiar with her because she was on the USA show "Suits" for seven years and she just stepped down. She played Rachel, a popular character who just got married on the show, funny enough. She's left the show and she is very involved and humanitarian work and she's been focused on that forever.

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Talks a lot about women.

DUFOFF: Yes, talks about women, women's causes, and kind of on the feminist forefront. She also -- her mom is African-American. Her dad's white. So she's written a number of essays about that and sort of being a mixed-race actress in Hollywood and the challenges she's faced where people will hand her things where she has to check off Caucasian, and she has to figure out how to label herself. She's written a lot about that.

BALDWIN: She has. What about -- we mentioned before that -- oh, forgive me. We've got to go to President Trump.

DUBOFF: No worries.

BALDWIN: Here we go.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the tax bill is going very well. We had a meeting on it today. It's going to be a tremendous tax cut, the biggest in the history of our country. You will have to pay a lot less tax. That's OK, but we're going have a tremendous, I think, we'll have great receptivity. We've had great spirit and I will tell you the Republican Senators were up. If we win we'll get some Democratic Senators joining us if we don't win they won't be joining us, you understand that. If you win we will have a bipartisan bill meaning a number of people will come over, but I'm not so interested on that. We are interested just in getting it passed. Again, it will be the biggest tax reduction in the history of our country. It will bring jobs and a lot of income coming into the country buying product, et cetera, and I think it's doing very well, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, I think we'll have -- actually, I think it's going to benefit everybody. It's going to mostly benefit people looking for job, more than anything else because we're giving great incentives and we're going to be bringing back into this country probably an excess of $4 trillion, that's outside of the country that right now because of our tax laws can't come back in and we will be bringing back, at least, I think the number will be substantially higher and at least $4 trillion which will immediately be put to work in this country, so I think the tax bill is doing very well and I think the Republicans are going to be very proud of it.

Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did you decide not to go to Alabama? Mr. President, will you go to Alabama?

BALDWIN: OK. So -- just turn some tape around. This is the president of the United States. He is flanked by the Native American code talkers, Native Americans there at the White House, and there was a moment let me look at what was just handed to me. The president, we know that he's made cracks about the Democratic Senator of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, Pocahontas, a couple of different times. Apparently, he makes the crack again. Keep in mind who is in the room, Native Americans. And the quote is this, "We have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time, longer than you. They call her Pocahontas." And the color that we have from within the room was that there was just a long, awkward silence.

David Catanese, come join me in the conversation here.

[14:55:39] DAVID CATANESE, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Hey, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I mean, I don't even -- how do you -- what do you say? That's just so not OK?

CATANESE: Well, it sort of brought me back to when he was campaigning for president. I remember he did an event in North Dakota which has a large Native American population. And someone screamed out that's really offensive, and he sort of, you know, moved on and put his hand and he said, oh, sorry I'm offending you. Look, this is Trump being Trump. But to say it in a room with Native Americans surrounding him, I'll be surprised, and I would be curious to hear what their reaction is if any of them in the room next to the president of the United States were offended by that remark.

BALDWIN: Yes, I don't have a whole lot more information around it, and I don't even think we can see the moment, but he was asked about these code talkers, and that's when he made the crack about Elizabeth Warren in a room with Native Americans. Well, we'll wait. I have a feeling, as I'm on television, we'll get some sort of response from them.

In the meantime, we'll sneak a quick break in.

We're also waiting for the White House daily briefing. And this is the first briefing post-Mar-a-Lago and post-thanksgiving break. I have to imagine that will be a question that will be popped in there among so much else happening on this Monday.

Stay with me. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: And we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Any moment now, the first White House briefing will begin here post- Thanksgiving weekend. There's a lot to catch up on here at the start of the week, from the sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill to the Christmas gift the president promised the nation, this historic tax reform.

And meantime, this real-life episode of "Who's the Boss" is playing out. And there is a showdown at the nation's top consumer watchdog agency over who is actually in charge. You have these dueling acting directors at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB. They both show up to work this morning. Leandra English was appointed by the outgoing director, but hours later, President Trump appointed White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as acting chief.

To add to this ambiguity and confusion, both of them sent e-mails to the staff today declaring themselves as the one in charge.

Here's how Mick Mulvaney is responding to --