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Russia Investigation; Alabama Senate Race; GOP Tax Plan; Modern day Slavery; Inside The Trump Campaign. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 3, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- he sent out a tweet offering a new reason behind why he fired his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. The president tweeting just yesterday, I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI. While today, the White House is playing damage control, downplaying that tweet saying it was written by an attorney for the president.
We have a team of correspondents and analysts covering today's developments for us. Let's begin with the Senate Judiciary Committee building this case on obstruction of justice, CNN's Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz with me now.
So Shimon, what more did Feinstein say about the case some?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And Feinstein today, I met the President. She hit the issue that I think we've all been having in this investigation and that the fact that it's been hard to get at the truth both for investigators at the FBI and the Special Counsel who've been looking at this for several months and the FBI which has been looking at this for well over a year now. And now we have two people, one very senior person who worked in the White House have admitted to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials about the purpose of those contacts.
And for Fieinstein today, she said, this sort of the beginning of a billed out of an obstruction case both perhaps by the FBI and the Special Counsel and now, by her committee. Here's her saying this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of case of obstruction of justice. I see it in a hyper phonetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets. And I see it most importantly in what happened with the firing of Director Comey and it is my belief that that is directly because he did not agree to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation. That's obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: And that is the key there. As the senator said, it was the lifting of the sort of Russia investigation that frustrated the President. Comey, certainly the former FBI director, the obstruction whether or not that firing had anything to do with the investigation, the fact that the FBI would not let Flynn go. Remember, the President had asked the former FBI director, all of that still under investigation.
And, you know, what we learned today is the Senate Judiciary Committee by Feinstein's sort of lead is trying to now look at obstruction themselves.
WHITFIELD: All right, it is a lot. Shimon, thank you so much. Stick around. We're going to involve you in a conversation coming up, but first, let met give you an idea of how the White House now is in the midst of damage control. The White House now says the tweet was written -- that tweet right there was written by the President's personal lawyer, John Dowd.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in the White House. So, Jeremy, reportedly, Trump's tweet went out while he was in a motorcade in between events in New York. What is the White House saying about where Atty. John Dowd was when this tweet went out, whether he crafted it, someone else sent it out or if this is all from the doing of the President?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, first of all, there are a lot of questions surrounding this tweet because what it does, is it suggests that the President knew at the time when he fired Michael Flynn that he had lied to the FBI, which of course is a crime, the crime that Flynn was charged and pled guilty to on Friday. And so now, the White House, more precisely, the President's personal attorney, John Dowd is claiming that he is the person who actually drafted this tweet. I spoke with Dowd via e-mail this morning and he said that while he drafted the tweet, he did not post it himself. He said that he thinks it was the Dan Scavino, the President's Social Media Director who actually posted it.
A reporters traveling with the President yesterday, at the time when the tweet went out so they not see John Dowd at the time. So, it doesn't appear they were in the same location. But again, John Dowd now claiming, you know, despite this tweet suggesting that the President knew Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI, John Dowd, the President's personal attorney now saying that nobody at the time knew that he had lied to the FBI, least of all, the President. And so, again, all of this is the kinds of questions that this White House is facing, even as they should be perhaps celebrating their biggest legislative victory so far, that is tax reform.
But this Russia investigation cannot be underscored. It's impacting the President, the way that business is done here at the White House and perhaps even the perception that the president has in the public. The day the day after this Flynn news, the President's approval rating dropped to its lowest recorded level in Gallup daily tracking poll down to 33%.
[15:05:04] That is not the first time the President has actually hit that level. But again, it is bringing it down to just a third of the American public supporting him. Those numbers are very difficult when you're trying to get things done in Washington.
WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. So the President's tweet, regardless of who authored it sets off more questions about the timeline of various explanations of the firings of both Michael Flynn and the former FBI Director, James Comey.
Here's what we know. After the resignation of former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, February 13th, the President said it was because Flynn lied to the vice president, Mike Pence. February 14th, Trump meets with the FBI director, Comey, and tells him, quoting now, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, meaning, of the investigation of Flynn meeting with the Russian ambassador.
May 9th, Trump fires FBI Director, Comey, which brings us now to yesterday. Of course, there are a lot of other things in between there, but yesterday, when Trump sent out this tweet claiming he fired Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI. This is a day after Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about that meeting with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Now originally, Trump never said that he know Flynn had lied to the FBI. Now this brings, of course, more questions. So again, if Trump knew then that Flynn lied to the FBI, why wasn't Flynn let go sooner and why would Trump have asked the FBI director to let Flynn go and why was Comey fired? Was it to get rid of that Russia probe?
All right. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz back with me now, joined by CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin. Good to see you both now encounter here.
So, Michael, you first. You know, White House counsel confirming that he wrote Saturday's or really, it's the personal attorney, John Dowd saying that he is the one who wrote the tweet about Michael Flynn, knowing about Michael Flynn lying on the FBI. Why would his attorney do that?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, either because the President asked him to do that or he made a terrible mistake. And I've known John Dowd for a long time and he's a very good and careful lawyer. So it sort of throws some cold water on Dowd making such a colossal mistake.
Yesterday, you and I talked about this tweet and I said yesterday I didn't believe it was true. I didn't believe that the President actually knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI and that tweet was mistaken. I still think that's the case, but I don't know yet how it got to be drafted, who was behind it and what was the purpose in crafting and releasing such a tweet because it did create a huge mess for the President as a consequence of it because it's not true. It's just not true. He didn't know it at the time that he fired Flynn.
WHITFIELD: Why are you so convinced? Why are you convinced then, that was a mistake and that he did not know about lying to the FBI? Why would that be, you know, out of the realm of possibilities in your view as supposed to it being a flip? ZELDIN: Well, as supposed -- right. I supposed anything is possible and I should be careful in this administration of making definitive statements. But at the time, only people that could have possibly known about this lie were the FBI agents to whom he lied and perhaps, Director Comey or Sally Yates. And I don't believe that any of them relayed that information to the White House because it defies protocol between communications in the White House and the Justice Department about ongoing investigations.
So to me, it defies logic. Of course, a lot of things defy logic about this investigation. So you're right, Fredricka that this is theoretically possible. I just don't think it's realistic.
WHITFIELD: So then Shimon, that -- this tweet went out with, you know, the President's handle at leading whether it be the Mueller team, certainly, the Senate Judiciary Committee, you know, leader, Feinstein that there's more responsibility with this tweet coming from the President. How might this be, you know, redirecting energies or focus of these various investigations as it pertains to Russia?
PROKUPECZ: Well, you know, this perhaps can be used as evidence in, let's say, a case of obstruction that the President knew that Michael Flynn was under investigation for this. But outside of that, when you think about that President knew that Michael Flynn was under investigation, right, and we've all reported on it. He knew by then that the FBI had questioned him about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador.
The attorney general, the former Attorney General, Sally Yates went to the White House concerned about some of those contacts, concerned that Michael Flynn was somehow compromised because of those contacts, because he lied to the vice president about those contacts. So no matter what the President, before even this tweet before even this tweet knew that Michael Flynn was under investigation.
[15:10:19] And, you know, just to back up what Michael just said, look, our reporting has been that Sally Yates, the former attorney general when she went to the White House never characterized what -- how that interview went, how Michael Flynn's interview went with the FBI, whether he lied. In fact, I think she had said that she did not want to characterize it to them. And there was some indication at least to people we have talked to at the time that the FBI didn't feel that he was lying.
So, whether or not the President knew there was -- he knew there was some kind of an investigation, but we don't believe that he necessarily knew that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. I mean, that's what I think was sort of the surprise in that tweet.
WHITFIELD: OK. So then Michael, you know, to your premise that perhaps the President was mistaken that he didn't know because the FBI would never have revealed to him that Michael Flynn lied way back and so, yesterday was kind of a, you know, a mistake on his part in that tweet. But in other ways, do you then see that a case is building on obstruction of justice as we heard from Feinstein who really pointed to the Michael Flynn plea deal and the other indictments and because of that, a substantial or significant case is being built on obstruction of justice?
ZELDIN: So, I think there a lot of pieces in this puzzle that will form the basis for an obstruction of justice investigation by Mueller. The request that the Flynn investigation be dropped, the firing of Comey, the request of congressional committees that they drop the investigation, the request by Trump of his chief of staff and members of his national intelligence team to pressure the dropping of this. There are a lot of requests to drop the pressure, to drop this investigation.
And so, as we look at the tweets, the tweet to me, that is the most legally problematic. The most recent tweets is the President's tweet that you put up which said that he did not ask Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. You know, sort of full stop.
WHITFIELD: That was from today. Can we pull that one up? That was today. It was almost like -- I don't know if that's an effort to clarify what he said yesterday or just to say let me set the record straight. OK. Do we have that?
OK, keep going. I will tell you what it said and then, when we pull it up in the screen, you'll see it. But he said, I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn, an emphatic declarative statement. Why was that important? What do you see from that?
ZELDIN: That's right. We did an exclamation point at the end.
ZELDIN: So, now you have Director Comey, Former Director Comey testifying under oath that he was specifically asked to drop the investigation. And the President now is saying that's a lie. Essentially, that's not true. I never asked him to do that.
I think there is going to come a point in time where Mueller is going to put the President under oath. And if the President repeats that which is in this tweet, then the Special Counsel has got to make a determination of who to believe. And what I was saying before, the President having asked a whole host of other people to see if this investigation into Russia of which Flynn is an integral part can be dropped. It's hard to figure how Mueller is going to not believe Comey and all the others versus the President.
And so if the President lies in that deposition or in grand jury and sticks to this tweet, then you've got all this obstruction of justice pieces of the mosaic that we've been talking and on top of it, a lie. That's a real problem, legally.
WHITFIELD: OK. And the bottom line, you know, gentlemen, these tweets, you know, as innocuous sometimes that they may seem, it ends up potentially being evidence itself because they are statements coming from the President, whether it was right crafted from somebody else but it's own his handle and that potentially could, you know, be problematic. And who knows, maybe thinking positively for him, maybe it would exonerate. Maybe the White House sees that it's potentially exonerating too. ZELDIN: Yes.
WHITFIELD: We'll see. All right. Michael Zeldin, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.
All right. Still to come, a tightening race for the coveted U.S. senate seat in Alabama with the Democrat taking a slight lead over Republican, Roy Moore, and from ironing candidate Trump's pants while they're still on no less to chocolate malts and fish sandwiches, bizarre details in a new book one day to be released detailing what went down behind the scenes of the Trump campaign. We'll discuss that. It's coming up.
[15:19:05] Nine days until Alabama heads to the polls in a special election senate race. The latest in Washington Post-Schar School Poll has Republican Roy Moore's Democratic rival, Doug Jones leading by 3 percentage points. Jones would need to pick up quite a few Republican votes. And in a conservative in a conservative Christian state like Alabama, that might be a tough sell.
Our Kaylee Hartung joins us now from Birmingham. So Kaylee, what are people telling you?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, that pull illustrating what we've observed conversations with many folks in Alabama. Doug Jones with just a 3 percentage point lead over the Republican, Roy Moore, that weighs in the margin of error of that Washing Post poll.
What that poll does show is though is that the allegations of improper sexual behavior against Moore have a heavily influence in his sagging numbers. Again, this is a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in a quarter of a century. There are still 28% of people polled there who say they don't believe don't believe as the alligations as brought against Roy Moore.
[15:20:08] And Roy Moore, this was not the candidate who President Trump endorsed in the Republican runoff here. So President Trump, especially in light of those allegations against Moore has been very careful to explicitly endorse Roy Moore. But now, we have learned that the President will be traveling to Florida, just 25 miles from the state line for a campaign event of his own. So not to Alabama, not to stump for Roy Moore, but what's interesting, Pensacola, where the President will be that within the media market that includes Mobile, Alabama and much of South Alabama.
So President Trump's voice will be heard and seen by so many in this state in the lead up to Election Day on December 12. It was Steve Bannon, the former White House Chief Strategist who had Roy Moore's back all along within the Republican Party. He will be in this state also on South Alabama with Moore on Tuesday.
Doug Jones for his part, Fred, he's also keeping up a heavy campaign schedule, spending a lot of time in metropolitan areas of the state, particularly with members of African-American community. And Fred, as many have said to me, they can't wait for December 12 to be here. They are ready to pull the lever at the polls.
WHITFIELD: Wow, very fascinating strategies there, leading up to December 12th. Thank you so much, Kaylee Hurting in Birmingham, appreciate it.
All right. The allegations surrounding Roy Moore have top Republicans splits on his future while Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is stepping back from previous criticism of Moore. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is standing by his early call for the Alabama Republican to lead the race.
(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call where this election been going on along time. They've got a lot of discussion about it. They're going to make a decision a week from Tuesday.
GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: But you are prepared to take action if he is indeed elected?
MCCONELL: The ethic committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign, should that particular candidate win.
REP. PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE: I'm focused on Congress. Roy Moore is trying to come to Congress. My job here as Speaker of the House is to help make sure that Congress is an institution that we're proud of, and that's what I'm focused on. He's running for Congress and I think the allegations against are very, very credible.
(END VIDOE CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Unnoticeable divide between two prominent Congressional Republicans, joining us now to talk about it, our CNN Political Commentators, Dave Jacobson and John Thomas. Good to see you both.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.
WHITFIELD: All right. So John, you're the Republican. You worked for Roy Moore's opponent, Luther Strange's campaign in the primary run off. So, what do you think about this kind of split in Republican leadership and how that may at all influence the out come of this Alabama race?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let's not forget in the primary, Fredricka, the conversation prior to all this allegations coming out against Roy Moore was who was more anti-establishment and that's largely, why Roy Moore succeeded and bested Luther Strange. So the more that Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan speak ill of Roy Moore, it doesn't hurt Roy Moore's case.
Bringing your attention to the CBS Poll that was released today that, in fact, showed Roy Moore up by six. RealClearPolitics' average of polls shows Roy Moore up by three. And let's not forget, the number one issue that I'm seeing in the recent polls here is really it's not question of whether Roy Moore did or did not do these things. It's -- voters are weighing who is best to drive the conservative Trump agenda in Washington. And if that --
WHITFIELD: Why isn't that part of the question that, you know, has so many I guess voters kind of perplexed?
THOMAS: Well, I think Roy Moore has done an effective job at blurring the lines. You know, might it pushing it back, denying the allegations. There's a lot of noise going on. And remember Alabama is such a red state. They care deeply about issues of life. They're anti -- they're against gay marriage being legalized.
They are -- remember, of Roy Moore supporters that we're seeing in these polls, Donald Trump has a 97% approval rating. Donald Trump has incredibly popular in that state and they want to -- they want to make sure that legislative action gets taken on stuff that they agree on. And they know that Doug Jones, the Democrat isn't on their side on those issues.
WHITFIELD: But also it sounds like, you know, issues of morality are important are important, but then, you know Dave, it seems like there is kind of a dissecting of which moral, you know, issues are important to the voters. So how is the Democrat, you know, Doug Jones either seizing on that or is that in part explaining why he is seeing, you know, I guess more popularity as it pertains to the polls up by three point over Roy Moore.
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the fact that this race is a jump ball is significant period. I mean, this is a state that Donald Trump won by a whopping 28 points. It's going Republican for decades. And so, the fact that we've a race with thin margin with a Democrat within striking distance of potentially winning the seat is significant.
[15:25:07] But I think ultimately there are several things that Doug Jones is going to have to capitalize on in order to sort of like move forward. He is going to have to continue making the character argument which I think is helping him run up the score with some of those more moderate conservative voters that's why he peeled off support, support, pardon me, from Roy Moore.
But he's also got to run up the score with African-Americans. They make up about 23% of registered voters. And he's to get Obama level turnout with African-Americans. That combined with strong turnout for more moderate white voters. In 2012, Barack Obama got about 15% of the white voters in Alabama. He's got to get double that. And so, I think it's a function of running a campaign based on character and less on issues like choice, for example, and making a case of those more moderate voters while electrifying the Democratic base.
WHITFIELD: All right, Dave and John, thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.
JACOBSON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, Republicans are trying to enjoy that victory lap after passing tax reform in the Senate early yesterday morning. But will they reconcile key differences in the House and Senate versions. And get it to the President's desk by Christmas? Will it be that Christmas present that the President promised? We'll discuss, next.
[15:30:47] WHITFIELD: Hello again. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
The fate of the President's massive tax reform moves back to the full Congress this week, the House and Senate now have to reconcile these differences between the Senate version and House versions that passed. Some of the key differences between the two versions are the number of tax brackets and also the tax rate individuals will play. Also at stake, our state and local income tax deductions, and whether the mortgage interest rate deductions get to stay as they are. Republican senators have been out promoting the bill's provisions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So, they're saying we're going slow the economy by cutting taxes. That's just inconsistent with reality. We have had the chance over the last three years since I've been on the committee to work on every aspect of the bill.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Even the joint committee on taxation has projected that the tax bill would stimulate the economy to produce hundreds of billions of additional revenue. I've talked to four economists including the dean of the Columbia School of Business and Former Chairs of the Counsel of Economic Advisers. And they believe that it will have this impact. So I think if we can stimulate the economy and create more jobs that that does generate more revenue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring in Chris Lu, he is a former Assistant to President Obama and Deputy Secretary of Labor, good to see you. And Stephen Moore, CNN's Senior Economics Analyst and a former Economic Adviser to Donald Trump, good to see you as well.
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Hi Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Chris, to you first. You know, these criticisms that these bills are helpful to the wealthy and hurtful to the poor and middle class, do you believe those call will help reshape the bills during this reconciliation period?
CHRIS LU, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND DEPUTY SECRETARY OF LABOR: Well, look, I think the train has left the station and I think they will be able to reconcile the bills in a way that gets it through congress. But obviously, as you pointed it out, there's some significant differences. One of the most important ones which you didn't mention was the individual mandate on the Affordable Care Act. And that potentially has that can take away healthcare from 13 million people.
So I am concerned about where this bill is right now and what it does in terms of tax increases for people earning less than $75,000, the trillion dollars of debt that it adds, even after you account for whatever economic growth is. But, you know, there is still a ways to go here.
WHITFIELD: And so, Steve, if you take around the economic, you know, benefit, face value, you know, are you concerned at all that this could very well add more than $1.4 trillion to the deficit in the process?
MOORE: Well look, I mean I've been working on this for two years with Donald Trump. And this -- we've been waiting a long time for this day. I think if you look at the differences between the House and Senate bill, they're very reachable. I mean, I would say there's about a 90% overlap. I hope it doesn't take the long impact.
You know, Fredricka, what I would like to happen is just the House could vote and accept the Senate bill. And then, you don't even have to go back to the Senate for another vote and get it to Donald Trump's desk. But I'm going to predict that this is going to happen in the next seven days there will be a tax cut signing before Christmas.
And look, and there's issue of the trillion dollar increase in the debt, of course, I'm concerned about the debt. But, you know, I've run these numbers. You can't get any reduction in debt or deficits if we continue with the kind of growth rates we had under Barack Obama where we are growing at 1.9%. And, you know, the debts just keeps going up and up and up. We need growth, we need more people working. We're already, by the way, Fredricka, something a lot of Liberal economists said a year ago was impossible.
The economy is already growing at 3.3%, 3.4%. I think with the tax cuts and the stimulus that provides our business and workers, I really do think it can get 4% growth. And boy, will that have a big impact on more revenues for the government and more people getting jobs.
WHITFIELD: So Chris, that stimulus, that promise of the trickle down economics working whereas, in the past 20 years, that theory has not proven to be beneficial, you know, for the little guy. Why is it going to work this time?
LU: Well, I think that's exactly right. It's not just the economists that have come out and expressed great skepticism about the economic growth. It's the joint committee on taxation which is the Congress's scorekeeper.
[15:35:03] And it's frankly, its history as well. You've look back at the 2001 Bush tax cut over the 2012 tax cuts in the state of Kansas, they never produce the kind of, not only job growth but wage growth that its proponents had suggested along the way and it's one of the reasons why this tax bill is so historically unpopular right now. I was struck that this bill is more unpopular than the tax hike that President Clinton and President Bush, 41, put in.
WHITFIELD: And so, with that unpopularity both for the House and Senate versions, how is it that such an unpopular measure can be passed by a very unpopular Congress and then potentially signed by our very unpopular, you know, President? Chris, you on that first.
MOORE: Yes, give me --
WHITFIELD: Yes, Chris. Sorry, and then, Steve.
MOORE: Well, let's -- sorry, go ahead Chris.
LU: No, no. Look --
WHITFIELD: Eeney, meeny, miney, moe. OK, go Chris.
LU: This is clearly about coming up with a political win for an unpopular President or an after relatively unsuccessful first year. And I think the consequences of this will be seen in the elections next year as to all the people that voted for this.
WHITFIELD: OK, Steve.
MOORE: Look, you know, the stock market wants this, investors want it, businesses want it. You know, look what happens -- has happened, Fredricka, just in the last month or so with the roaring stock market we have right now, a red hot economy. You know, one of the things I told Republicans is look, I think actually, you hurt the economy if you don't get this done.
I mean, Chris, with all due respect, we tried it your way for the last eight years. It didn't work very well. The economy never grew faster than 2 percent. And Donald Trump has only been in office for 10 months. We've already got almost 3.5% growth. I mean, that's an amazing accomplishment. And the tax cut has not taken effect yet. So look, Republicans will be fine in the 2018 elections and Donald Trump will be re-elected if the economy is doing well like it is now.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there. Stephen Moore, Chris Lu, thank you so much.
MOORE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And will be right back.
[15:41:22] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. In a CNN exclusive, Nima Elbagir traveled into the depths of Libya and uncovered slave auctions of migrants taking place. Our findings ignited international condemnation from the U.N. Security Council to the African Union. The U.N. urged Libya to take urgent action to end the trade of enslave people. And in this powerful story Nima end her team relive their journey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once we arrive in Tropli it was essentially wasting it. We knew that there were a number of these auctions going on in a variety of different locations. And we knew that they happened once or twice a month. It was -- I think probably the longest few days. Among the longest few days of my life wasting to hear whether this was actually happening.
We needed to push to try and get access to those people.
There are one to two of these auctions every month and that there's one happening in the next few hours. So we're going to --
I don't honestly know what I was expecting going in. I think I -- I couldn't figure out how you could mentally process selling other human beings. And then when I heard them -- when we heard them speaking about these people that they were selling as merchandise, it made sense because you need a certain degree of (INAUDIBLE). You have to dehumanize someone.
Finally, it's time to move.
RAJA RAZEK, CNN PRODUCER: You still have a job to do. So distract you a bit from what you just witness that when we were actually sitting there watching the auction, it felt like everything was going in very, very slow motion.
ELBAGIR: That with all the things that we knew we needed to hit as journalist getting him to use the word auction on our audio to confirm that it's an auction. Getting the auction as to confirm that they have sold --
RAZEK: We asked -- yes.
ELBAGIR: -- 12 people on that night having all of that as evidence.
ALEX PLATT, CNN SENIOR PHOTOJOURNALIST: I remember being outside in the (INAUDIBLE) detention center. So when I went around the corner and there was this room and the front was open to the elements. And extensively it was a cage. A wire cage and people were looking at me from the other side. And I remember thinking, you know, if there was single gorilla in there, people would think how sad. He hasn't got a lot of room. And then it turns out there were over 1,000 people in there.
RAZEK: Every day in an environment like that counts, not being able to take a good shower. Sitting there and not having the food you need, being thirsty. So, every hour counts leaving them behind in an enclosed space like that and not being able to help because you can't help one of them. You'd have to help all of thousand plus within that because you can't just go to a few people and be like how can I help you in, you're really need to help them all.
ELBAGIR: There was a point where Alex and I were interviewing victory. The 21-year-old who'd been enslaved and I was overwhelmed because Victo (ph) was overwhelmed.
His dream was to be a designer. He wants to come to Italy and work as a stylist and maybe one day work with Dolce & Gabbana. And it was such a relatable dream.
PLATT: And why not? Because he's African.
ELBAGIR: And why not. Exactly. I think this is the first story in a long time where I had nightmares.
[15:45:07] It was just something really fundamentally heart breaking about people's dreams being exploited in that way. I think we were all thinking that, you know, we just hope we can do justice to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: It enlightened a world. Thank you very much Nima Albagir, Raja Razek, and Alex Platt for that very powerful story, a journey to get the story. We'll be right back.
[15:50:14] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back from steaming candidate Trump's clove while they're still on to rivalry between key members of the staff and angry outbursts. We're getting a new behind the scenes look on what life was like working on the Trump campaign and it comes from Trump confidant and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Lewandowski who was a former CNN political commentator as well teamed up with another former campaign aide David Bosse to write a new book and its entitled "Let Trump be Trump" and in it, it says, "Sooner or later everybody who works for Donald Trump will see a side of him that makes you wonder why you took a job with him in the first place."
So did Lewandowski contemplate quitting as campaign manager? Here's what he told NBC's meet the press this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times did you think about quitting?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FMR TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Checking out some it's not about quitting. But, you know, when you give up the sacrifice the time with your family and all of things that were important to you and he demand such perfection and he deserves it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right.
LEWANDOWSKI: We wanted that campaign to be perfect from the time the music was cued to the time he walked on the stage that he walked off. And he little things he is so good at those little details, that's what I -- that's what we were referring to. And even what's the, yes, the material face-off and only. It's happening many times.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: CNN politics and media reporter Hadas Gold joining me now. So Hadas what do you make of this insights of the book and, you know, we called him a confidant but I wonder if after the release of this book is Lewandowski still going to be kind of cool with Trump? And vice versa?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS & MEDIA REPORTER: Well, here's what we know about this book. Actually "The Washington Post" obtained an advanced copy of the book. You know, it's supposed to be released this week. So we haven't seen a full copy yet.
What "The Washington Post" says is that while Lewandowski writes about some of these moments where Trump is screaming at him, where he is a vindictive, leading campaign aides purposely behind when their food orders were taking too long. That Lewandowski himself is over all very positive about the president and instead saves his skewering for former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who as we know it was Manafort and Lewandowski sort of clashing that lead to Lewandowski's ouster eventually.
But there are some moments in this book that are really revealing about the president. And I'm not sure how the president might take to them but Lewandowski has been continued to be loyal even as he was fired and even this book it sounds as though he just heaps the praise upon the president.
WHITFIELD: So, now what about the timing because it's interesting to hear Lewandowski talk about how Trump is married to detail. And now we've got this e-mail that came out from the president yesterday and, you know, talking about the firing of Michael Flynn as it relates to the FBI, lying to the FBI and not being clear with the vice president and then it was the personal attorney for the president who had come out and say "no, wait a minute, it was me who did that." So then that would kind of, you know, undermine this whole bit about attention to detail. So I wonder about the timing of this book and Lewandowski and Bosse's words here and how this might not be great timing for the White House.
GOLD: Well, I'm sure any book written by former campaign managers that detail the every day happenings are going to be devoured and dissected by all of us and also I'm sure by the people currently in the White House. I would be shocked though if Lewandowski and Bosse didn't at least give a heads up to the president or to his council by what was coming. And you could say that Donald Trump as we know is the confidant (ph) marketer and he's all about appearances.
But behind the scenes when it comes to the actual policy, when it comes to the actual details, you don't necessarily see that as much. I mean I've talked to sources who say that it within the Trump family when he was running his private businesses he was always the deal closer. He would go out there close the deal, open the new building, but when it came to actually running these buildings he wasn't necessarily the one who was interested in those details.
So, you can understand then why he might be really into how the campaign events looked from the music to the closing speech as Lewandowski says in that interview. But when it comes to perhaps these more detailed policy things he's maybe not as involved.
WHITFIELD: OK. And food always says a lot about a person, right? I remember, you know, all that was written about, you know, with President Clinton and his love for McDonald's and, you know, making a bee line to McDonald's on a jog and now one of the things that Lewandowski writes about is Trump's love of fast food.
GOLD: Yes. That we learned from this book actually a little bit more specifics about the president's McDonald's order which includes listen to this, two big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish and a chocolate malted.
[15:55:02] Now I've seen some calorie breakdown of what those meals would be and it's -- it's not more than the daily recommended calorie amount. And I now actually this brings up an issuing question which was brought up in the press briefing this week just on Friday I think where we were -- or the press was asking when are we going to see medical records?
Are we going to see the president go to the military doctors? And these fast food diets play into that how healthy is the president.
WHITFIELD: All right. Hadas Gold perhaps opening the pages of the book, also opens, you know, a few inquiries about all kinds of other things about the campaign and now the presidency. All right. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you.
All right. The Senate Judiciary Committee appears to be building on a possible obstruction of justice case against the president of the United States. Has the president's tweets put him in potential legal jeopardy? That in more coming up right after this.