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Trump Takes "Pocahontas" Jab While Honoring Navaho Code Talkers; Trump Meeting with Congressional Leaders on Spending Bill Canceled After Tweet; Roy Moore Back on Defense Against Sexual Allegations; New Details on Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Wedding Plans. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:01] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A ridiculous response. Sanders says -- Sarah Sanders saying what's more offensive is that Senator Warren misleading folks about her heritage to advance her career in the past. What's your message to the White House today?

NORWOOD: Ultimately, the use of the term, from my perspective, has less to do with Senator Warren and more to do with disrespecting native heritage. Indeed, I heard the complete comment by the press secretary yesterday, and her charge was that it's not a racial slur in and of itself. To that extent, she may be correct. It's simply a name. But when you use a name in a derogatory fashion to demean someone, you not only are demeaning the individual but demeaning what the name represents, the history around the name. And that's what happened yesterday. I have no information or feeling that the president was making an effort to insult Native Americans. I don't believe that was necessarily his intent. It was his intent to honor. However, whether it is his intent or not, the effect of using the name was insulting. It shows a lack of understanding and sensitivity. The setting itself, kind of smacked of a lack of sensitivity. Behind the code talkers was a portrait of Andrew Jackson. So the setting itself was something that wasn't really reviewed by his staff. There are American Indians that I know that won't carry a $20 bill. Will get change because it has the image of the one who carried out the 1830 Indian Removal Act.

BOLDUAN: But, Mr. Norwood, this also is not the first, second, third or however many times Donald Trump has used this line to insult Elizabeth Warren. And during the campaign, when he did it, he also faced criticism. So with that in mind, what do you think -- why then do you think the president brought this up during this event to honor Navaho code talkers?

NORWOOD: Well, it appears that he, like many individuals, takes every opportunity to take a swipe at his opponents, and unfortunately, has not learned the lesson that is, indeed, insulting to the very racial group that -- from which these code talkers have come. My prayer is that he sees this as an opportunity to make a change in that, that the repeated calls of not only tribal leaders, but also national American Indian organizations is heeded by the White House. The people who determine whether something is an insult are not the ones that use the insult, but rather the ones that have been harmed by the insult. It is to listen to the words that are coming from Indian country that would allow him to have a comprehension of the necessity of making a change and prayerfully issuing a retraction or an apology. This would be an opportunity to unite, an opportunity to heal and we pray he takes that opportunity.

BOLDUAN: Despite your prayers, it seems doubtful, considering the -- any recent history with the White House, that that apology or any kind of change will be coming, or from the president or from the podium from the press secretary. But if this is an insult, if this is a racial slur, is -- do you view Donald Trump or President Trump as racist?

NORWOOD: I would want to withhold judgment on that particular issue. What I can say is that this particular action certainly smacks of a lack of understanding of what would be insulting to American Indians and there have been other instances where there seems to be a lack of understanding, a lack of sensitivity in regard to other racial groups. And there definitely needs to be some reeducation on behalf of the White House, on behalf of actually many of the leaders in this nation.

BOLDUAN: Let's see if the White House or the president reaches out to you to continue that conversation, as you say, is much needed right now.

John Norwood, thank you so much for coming in. I appreciate your time.

NORWOOD: Thank you for having me. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

All right. Joining me to continue this discussion is CNN politics reporter, editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

So important -- despite the frog in my throat -- Chris, so important to hear from people like John Norwood, and what he said is an important line, to decide if it's an insult is not to be decided by those saying it, it's those insulted. So simple and eloquent and an important thing to remember as we discuss this. But to the larger part of this, is this a case, in your view, of the president trying to distract from something else or a case of he can't help himself or something else?

[11:35:13] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: Yes. You know, Kate, you and I have talked about this on air before. There are two competing theories of Donald Trump. One, he's playing three-dimensional chess at all times, every word, utterance is meant to distract, highlight to something else, move the public. I don't ascribe to that view. I'm much more in the zero-dimensional chess camp. He just says and does stuff. We try to connect all the dots, we in the media, some Republicans, some Democrats, everybody trying to figure out -- members of Congress on the Hill, everybody trying to figure out what does this mean. And I think the possibility is, he had told that joke before on the campaign trail, it got a good response, and he thought, I'll just do it again. I don't know that this was sort of a broad attempt to distract from the ongoing Russia investigation or the struggles with -- to get this tax cut bill through committee and through the Senate. It might just have occurred to him, so he said it.

BOLDUAN: You also make the case, no matter if it's offensive, it works for him. Right?

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean look --


BOLDUAN: How? Where is the evidence of that?

CILLIZZA: Well, so the evidence is that his base remains very committed to him. His base remains -- if you trust polling, and I, broadly speaking, do, remain very favorable to him, believe he is largely --


BOLDUAN: But it's not like they're going to run away if he hadn't cracked a racially insensitive joke against Elizabeth Warren --


BOLDUAN: -- at the Navaho code talkers event.

CILLIZZA: Again, I'm in the zero-dimensional chess camp. I don't believe everything he's doing is an attempt to speak to his base. My saying it will work is not to say he did this because he needs to firm his base up. You're right, I can't imagine Donald Trump doing anything short of saying Hillary Clinton should have won the election, that would have -- would have his base running away interest him. My point, there are people within the Trump base who will laugh, and at the Pocahontas reference, who will say that we in the media overreact and we're all precious snowflakes who can't take a little ribbing. My point in the piece I wrote last night was, that's not the point. The point is just because it works, doesn't make it right. Right? We're talking about the president of the United States. This is someone who is elected to be the moral beacon of leadership in this country and around the world, and when you do things like that, when you do the both sides stuff in Charlottesville, when you do the racial baiting and racially coded language he has used a number of occasions, you are forsaking that responsibility and, therefore, it might work but it doesn't make it right.

BOLDUAN: All right. Chris, stick with me for one second.

We have breaking news. Related because it relates to Donald Trump. Unrelated because it has to do with where we are at this moment. One of the things the president was supposed to be doing today is meeting with the top congressional leaders, all of them. And that included, of course, as he has deemed them, Chuck and Nancy. The president tweeted out today, that the meeting to talk about keeping the government open, but then slams them, saying, "They're weak on crime, and they want to raise taxes and I don't see a deal." That was a tweet from the president this morning.

Chuck and Nancy, themselves, they just issued a joint statement saying this: "Given that the president doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead. Rather than going to the White House, for a show meeting that won't result in an agreement, we've asked Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to meet this afternoon. We don't have auto any time to waste in addressing the issues that confront us. And we will negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement."

So that meeting -- so that meeting seems to be now off.

I think we're going to go back to Capitol Hill. Phil Mattingly, are you here with me?


BOLDUAN: And that's pretty -- that says something.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No, this is important. This matters a lot. Look, it seems like a simplistic way to look at it, but this meeting, whether or not it was for show or something else, was --


MATTINGLY: -- absolutely necessary to what needs to get done over the course of the next two weeks. Democrats and Republicans, when commits to spending deals, when it comes to budget caps and DACA, any number of issues, that need to be resolved before Republican leaders and Democratic leaders go home, more importantly, before the December 8th government shutdown deadline this was supposed to be a meeting to help kind of clear the pathway for that. Democratic leaders, as you read, placing this entirely on President Trump's tweet this morning. I can tell you in talking to aides on both the Democratic and Republican side in the wake of that tweet everybody was trying to figure out what he was doing, if this was a negotiating ploy here, what he was trying to do in terms of setting the tone for the meeting. You got the Democratic response, it's clear, they want to negotiate whatever the deal is on government spending and on any of the other side issues out there right now, one to one with their GOP counterparts on Capitol Hill. Here's the problem with that. As it's been kind of told to me by several Republicans in the Senate and House, they need the president's sign off to move something forward on the spending side if they decide to address DACA and do subsidies on any part for health care.


[11:40:25] MATTINGLY: They need President Trump to help get their conference over the finish line on these issues and they need him involved in the process. Short circuiting that only sets them further back when you look at kind of the broad spectrum of what they're trying to do here. That's why this statement is important, and this meeting being called off, show or not, matters at this moment -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Isn't that also why -- isn't that why this is important, is this is not a situation that Republicans can go it alone. We're talking about keeping the government open, talking about passing a spending bill, remember for everyone, he cut the deal with Chuck and Nancy to get it off the plate and deal with it for later. The dealing with it later is right now, and they need to work with Republicans and Democrats, and that means this is a rare situation that Democrats have some leverage?

MATTINGLY: Yes. They're in the minority in the House and Senate but when it comes to things like spending bills they have leverage. Republicans leaders need Democrats to move this across the Senate line. In the Senate 52 Republican Senators not likely you will get every one of them, you need eight or more Democrats to join. And the House Republicans have made clear when it comes to large spending packages particularly an omnibus like this may end up being they need Democratic support to get it over the finish line because conservative members don't like voting for those bills. We have leverage here. This is a negotiation we want. And Kate, you can track back to the Obama administration where you had things like Harry Reid, then the Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell hammering out deals one to one leaving the administration out of it a little bit. That's not the case here because in order for these things to move forward and in order for the speaker and majority leader in the Senate to make sure they get enough Republicans to get this over the finish line, they need President Trump to sign off on it. Essentially, clear the runway, give cover to their guys to come on board, how it's been described over the last couple weeks. That's why they want him involved and need him involved, and that's why Democrats saying we don't want him involved at all. Has created a bit of a problem here -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: I think we've got -- I'm being told -- I'm going to see it for the first time with you, which is scary -- a new tweet from Nancy Pelosi. I think it might be similar to the statement. "Given that the president doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead." Tweeting out what they put in the statement.

Phil, stick with me.

Let me bring in Chris Cillizza -- hope Chris is still with me.

Chris, give me your reaction to this.


BOLDUAN: When you talked about zero-dimensional chess, where are we now?

CILLIZZA: Well remember when a lot of Republican defenders of Donald Trump said don't pay attention to his tweets, that's immaterial, no. Right? That was always ridiculous because these are effectively official statements from the president of the United States. This is a case in which a tweet this morning had a direct impact hours later, as Phil Mattingly has detailed, in ways that will complicate what Donald Trump wants to do. He, you know - look, he's clearly talking -- he views Twitter as a way to talk to his base of support and they love the idea that he doesn't see a deal possible because the Democrats are weak on this and weak on that. The problem is, the Democrats also have access to Twitter. Right? They can read his tweets, too. This is not a private network that he's sending them out to, and, therefore, it has a real-world impact. This is true on any number of fronts. Kate, the latest example, where I always think if you want to know what President Trump is really thinking, not what the White House message wants to be, but what Donald Trump is really thinking about, what he really cares about, pay attention to his Twitter feed, which is why we got an NFL kneeling tweet and then this tweet bashing Democrats that has real-world impact. And we're seeing that impact now.

BOLDUAN: Phil, still with me as well?


BOLDUAN: So is this a situation that you see -- I think it's impossible to know at this moment, play my game, do you see cooler heads prevailing and this is posturing on both sides? They have to sit down or the government will shut down.

[11:44:30] MATTINGLY: Yes. Look cooler heads have to prevail at some point. There's a natural end game here, and that's a government shutdown and the length of which, if it occurs, at some point, something is going to have to be resolved, right. That's the issue here. Look, to explain what's going on behind the scenes, Republican and Democratic negotiators in the House and Senate have been working on the spending bill, have been working on a spending deal, on a budget caps deal for weeks. They have gotten close and further away. So the details are being hammered out right now on the congressional level on the staff side of things. Those things have been moving forward, although the course of the last couple days there's been frustrations on both sides, not as close as they want to be at this moment. That's where the members, that's where the leaders, where the White House come in to hammer out the final details and get this thing across the finish line. Is there posturing? Of course. It's politics, Capitol Hill, and the White House. When you try and look at what Democrats want to do with DACA and want to do potentially on health care subsidies, post during going on here, but the real question is, it's not like we're four weeks out. We're a couple weeks out and they don't have a lot of time, and these things are very, very complicated, especially if you're trying to wrap them in a neat package before December 8th, or want to extend the deadline a couple weeks after that. I think that's the issue right here where everybody is trying to figure out where everybody stands. We know what the staff is doing. We know how they're working right now. We know they need to get this across the finish line and it doesn't seem at this current point leaders are ready to sit down at that table and get that done.

BOLDUAN: It's not like they didn't know when the deadline was upcoming.

I will leave a final thought for everyone, of course, via Twitter, from Leader McConnell. It looks like he at least is still going to the meeting, Phil. "I look forward to discussing with POTUS this afternoon our shared goals as we continue collaborating to pass legislation, including tax reform, and send it to his desk for signature." Or maybe he's talking about the lunch happening any minute now.

Phil, Chris, thank you so much.

Zero going on, on Capitol Hill today. I hope you sense my sarcasm. We're going to stick there and figure out what could possibly happen next. We'll stick with Twitter. We'll be right back.


[11:50:57] It's a two-week countdown. Two weeks from today, Alabama voters will decide who will be the next Senator they will send to Washington. That's about how long the embattled candidate has been absent from the campaign trail, but he is back on the trail and back on defense against the multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct of teen girls in his past.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins on the ground in Alabama covering this return for us.

Kaitlan, you were there when Moore jumped back into events.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Roy Moore is continuing to deny the allegations made against him. As he spoke into a room full of supporters, he said he feels he is fighting a tremendous spiritual battle here. He told supporters not only is he going to continue to fight the accusations made against him, which he said are malicious and not true, but he is going to take the gloves off. And he criticized his opponent, Doug Jones, for using the names of the women who have accused him of sexual assault in TV advertisements.


ROY MOORE, (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: When a young lady is abused --and I've represented many victims in cases such as this -- I have not seen one who wants her picture posted on national TV, especially in political advertisements. The truth is, this is not really odd at all. This is simply dirty politics.


COLLINS: Moore said his past work as a prosecutor and judge helped him have a unique understanding of sexual assault charges, but he didn't take any questions from reporters, Kate, or allegations made against him.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens. The countdown is on now in Alabama.

Kaitlan, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Coming up next for us, CNN just learned new details about the upcoming royal nuptials about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, including the where and the when. You can mark your calendars. In their first big interview, Harry talks about his mother and what she would think in this big moment for Prince Harry.


[11:56:40] BOLDUAN: Mark your calendars. A spring wedding is in the works for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are coming out. Also, in their first post-engagement interview, Prince Harry talks about how all of this makes him miss his mother on important days like this, and what she would think of the big news. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFEID REPORTER: What do you think your mother would have thought of Meghan or thought of her?



Without question, she would be over the moon jumping up and down and so excited for me. But then, probably, being best friends with Meghan. It is days like today when I really miss having her around and miss being able to share the happy news. But with the ring and everything else going on, I'm sure


PRINCE HARRY: I'm sure she is with us, jumping up and down somewhere else.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Max Foster is joining us with the wedding details just announced.

Hey, Max. What are you learning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: We are learning, we have a rough date, not a precise one. It will be in May next year at St. George's Chapel, the church within Windsor Castle. They have been royal weddings there before. It's a controlled environment. It is a castle. That might have played into their decision-making process. Harry went to school at Eaton College around the corner and spent a lot of time there growing up. It's a very special place to him and that's why they chose it. And they are involved in every detail of the wedding. And they will reveal more details as it comes through. It is a church. And Meghan Markle, while a Protestant, is not a member of the Church of England, so will be baptized and confirmed before the service, we're told -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: As a fellow expectant mother, that's a quick turnaround for the duchess, Duchess Kate.

FOSTER: Well, she is going to be -- yes. April and May, she will be there. We thought it might have been a different date, considering the sister-in-law and how she might be feeling, but they are going ahead. So many things to play into this and the date. One of the other things they told us about was that she is going to

take U.K. citizenship as well. She will retain her U.S. citizenship and get U.K. citizenship. And she'll start a tour of the U.K. on Friday. All this speaks to the fact that she will step into this role and take it very seriously. She'll be a fully fledged member of the royal family. This is not a duchess, as I'm sure she will be at some point, who just sits back and stays at home.

BOLDUAN: She, in that interview with Prince Harry, talking about the causes that she wants to learn much more about and put her name and now her status behind into highlight. We will see much more of that.

A May wedding sounds great to me, Max. They can reunite across the pond. It will be great to see you. Thank you.

FOSTER: Come over.


BOLDUAN: Before you go there, let's go here. We'll take a live look at the White House where President Trump is about to leave for Capitol Hill for a bilge meeting on tax reform. Now, the possibility of a government shut down just got a lot more real.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.