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Trump Says "Vote Roy Moore!", Campaigning Tonight; Republicans, Fox Hosts Target Mueller as Pressure Builds; Black Lawmakers to Skip Civil Rights Event Over Trump. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:31] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

President Trump support growing louder for Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of sexual abuse with teenagers. Tonight, the president will hold a rally shy 25 miles from Alabama, in Pensacola, Florida, and this rally comes four days before Alabama special election.

But it also comes as a new poll from Pew shows President Trump approval rating has hit a new low of 32 percent, 63 percent there you can see disproving of the job President Trump is doing.

In a tweet this morning, President Trump offered up his loudest support of Roy Moore yet. First, the president attacked the Democrat running against Roy Moore, and then ended with this full endorsement in all caps here, vote Roy Moore, the last three words at the end of the tweet.

Alex Marquardt is with me live in Pensacola.

And, I mean, imagine in a very chilly south where you are, Alex, that this visit essentially means basically nearly in Alabama, and this is a rally for Roy Moore.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is all but an official rally for Roy Moore. This is not so subtle wink at the fact that he is down here essentially to voice his support for Roy Moore on this special election that will be held on Tuesday.

As you mentioned, we are only about 20 minutes from the Alabama border here in Pensacola. It shares a TV market with Mobile, Alabama. Now, we know that Roy Moore will not be attending this rally. The campaign has told that 100 percent he will not be attending. I've asked them whether any members of the Moore family or campaign will be attending, they said they are not sure.

But you can imagine that Trump will be at some point during the course of this campaign style rally be mentioning his support for Moore. He has issued a full endorsement. And another tweet from the president this morning saying we cannot have a liberal like Doug Jones in the Senate, that he essentially needs the vote of Roy Moore to advance his agenda, whether it's for the military, whether it's for the Second Amendment, whether it's for immigration.

Now, the closest link that has officially been established between this rally here in Pensacola tonight and the White House is the fact that Trump's daughter-in-law, Laura Trump, who is the wife of Eric Trump, the second son of Donald Trump, has put out a robocall encouraging supporters of the presidents in Alabama to come here to this rally. The robocall said that the rally is taking place nearby.

But there was one person who was living around 300 miles away, some five hours away, who also got that robocall. So, they are encouraging people to come here from far and wide to attend this rally here tonight in Pensacola at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. So, Pensacola tonight, Mississippi tomorrow. We're going to get into that story here in just a second, the Civil Rights Museum that's opening, and a number of prominent black congressmen will not be there. But staying on the president there, Alex, thank you.

Now to the CNN exclusive in a Russia investigation, these new emails show there's even more to this infamous Trump meeting than the president's son has said. Now, remember, initially, we were told that the gathering was about adoptions, right, to talk about Russian adoptions. And Donald Trump Jr., who attended that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, said, once the meeting ended, there was nothing else to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT'S SON: There wasn't really follow up because nothing there to follow up. You know, as we were walking out, he said, listen, I'm sorry for that. In the end, there was probably some bait and switch about what it was really supposed to be about. So, you know, there is nothing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Nothing there. So, later, it came out that maybe there was a little more to it. The meeting was about getting dirt on president's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

And now, we are learning a little more that there was a little more communication in a follow up to the meeting.

So, with that piece of it today, Jessica Schneider is with us now live.

And so, Jessica, what's the third piece of this conversation?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, we are learning now, Brooke, that there were follow up emails after that Trump Tower meeting in 2016. They were sent to a top Trump aide and one of the Russians who actually attended the meeting. So, first off, one of those emails was sent to senior Trump aide Dan Scavino.

[14:05:03] He's now the president's social media director. So, Rob Goldstone sent this email, and he encouraged Scavino to get then- candidate Donald Trump to create a page on the Russian social networking site that's called VK.

And in that email, Goldstone said that, quote, Don and Paul were on board with the idea. Of course, that's a reference to then campaign chair Paul Manafort, as well as to Donald Trump Jr.

So, a source tells CNN that Goldstone had also mentioned the idea of this social media at the end of the Trump Tower meeting. As everyone was leaving, of course, Goldstone continued to push the proposal in the weeks that followed.

But a CNN search of those VK pages, we could not find any indication that the campaign ever set a page up. Then, Brooke, there was another email, it was dated June 14th, 2016, that was five days after the Trump Tower meeting.

In that email, Goldstone actually forwarded a CNN story on Russia's hacking of DNC emails. He sent that email to his client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. Also to Ike Kaveladze, he attended the Trump Tower meeting.

And Goldstone described the news of the hacks as, quote, eerily weird given what they had discussed at the Trump Tower meeting five days earlier. But one of the sources that we talked with, familiar with the email, they actually downplayed that interaction, saying that news of the DNC hack was only surprising because of the run-up to the Trump Tower meeting, the Russian participants had promised information on elicit Russian funding of the DNC. That information, that dirt was never provided.

But, Brooke, all of these emails have come out now because they were raised in the closed door hearing that happened --

BALDWIN: Right.

SCHNEIDER: -- two days ago. Donald Trump Jr., though, said he couldn't recall the interactions mentioned. And importantly, we know that Rob Goldstone, he's agreed to talk with Congress, with both the House and Senate intelligence panels, that could be as early as next week. So now that we have these emails a lot more information could be forthcoming when Rob Goldstone comes here to the United States and goes before Congress -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jessica, thank you so much for the latest piece of this whole puzzle here.

Let me get some reaction to Jessica's reporting with two great voices, CNN legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli, he's a former attorney general for Virginia. And CNN contributor Norman Eisen, he was the White House ethics czar in the Obama administration, and he cofounded the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

So, gentlemen, thank you both so much for being with me on this Friday. And, Ambassador Eisen, let me just begin with you. You know, first we

heard from -- it's this pattern of I don't recall, right? And Don Jr. initially says, nothing to see here with regard to this Trump Tower meeting, it's just all about adoptions. Then it's about dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now, apparently, it's this bit about, well, maybe we have this idea of getting then candidate Trump, you know, up on the social networking site for Russians, Russian Americans.

Your response to that?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Brooke, thanks for having me back.

And, you know, it's yet another example of the profound connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, and here what you have is follow up. And you have an assertion that Don Jr. and Paul Manafort are supporting this, and an outreach to Scavino. So, that suggests that there is still more to this meeting that we don't know about.

Of course, Don Jr. asserted the attorney-client privilege when he was interviewed by Congress this week. So, there is -- on grounds that seem at least questionable. So, there is some additional impediment there.

And then there is the other email, the eerily weird email. That's ambiguous. You know, which way does that cut? Is it eerily weird because it was predicted? So, I think the ties are just getting deeper and deeper the more we learn.

BALDWIN: Ken Cuccinelli, what are you thinking?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree with him about the eerily email. That could cut either way, particularly given the sort of set up for the meeting. But I would note the emails we're talking about, so far as we know to this point, didn't go to Don Jr. So, you have Goldstone who wasn't part of the campaign, as you put up in the graphic, he was portrayed as middle man --

BALDWIN: Publicist.

CUCCINELLI: -- who kept pinging people in the campaign. But that's not the campaign. And what's not clear yet is whether they did anything in follow up.

It may well be that what Don Jr. said back in July is absolutely accurate, that is there is nothing to follow up on.

I think the obvious way to find this out is when Goldstone gets under oath in front of the committee, and to the point you just heard about the privilege claim, it wasn't related to these emails, but I do think Don Jr. will be back in front of that committee because I don't think when all sides review the claim of attorney-client privilege related to the conversation he had with his father, and that may feel weird to people.

[14:10:13] Gee, I can't talk to my dad -- I mean, forget he was a candidate for president, it feels strange to people, but you don't have a privilege unless you're a child, meaning under 18, with a lawyer, when you are talking to your parent. If are you an adult talking to your parent in the presence of a lawyer, that's sharing information and it waives the privilege.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: So, I think that's coming back to the committee.

BALDWIN: Yes, mostly experts, that I talked to that yesterday on that said that doesn't totally fly. And I think you're absolutely right, that we'll learn so much more when they hear more from Don Jr., but also more from Goldstone.

Let me move on because legal experts are also saying that the charges that have been filed in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation show he is making progress.

But since last week, it was a week ago today, right, we were all over the breaking news, bombshell guilty plea from Michael Flynn, you have all those pro-Trump media, and a number of Republican lawmakers coming forward and saying that they've been, you know, working hard to undermine Mueller, accusing him of political favoritism and attacking his personal integrity.

So, just a sampling now of the last 48 hours, if you turn on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Let's face it, what we are seeing here is a pattern and practice of Mueller hiring known Clinton and Obama political insiders and boosters, supporters to undue a presidential election. That was the election of Donald Trump.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Robert Mueller's partisan, extremely biased, hyperpartisan attack team. We're going to name names tonight and explain exactly who these Trump-hating investigators really are, and why this entire witch hunt needs to be shut down and shut down immediately.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Mueller is inherently compromised on this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

JORDAN: So -- and Sessions has recused himself from so much of this. So, how does it work? The only logical way to get to the answers for the American people is to appoint a second special counsel.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Mueller is corrupt. Senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So that last voice there, that was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He tweeted this back in May. Let me just read this and bring these two gentlemen back in. He tweeted: Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel.

His reputation is impeccable for honesty, and integrity. Media should now calm down. OK?

So, Ken Cuccinelli, do you agree with this criticism?

CUCCINELLI: So -- well --

BALDWIN: What's your take?

CUCCINELLI: Let's start with the trigger point. It was not Flynn. Flynn was not trigger for this.

In recent days, we have learned that there aren't just one but multiple participants that Mueller has brought over from DOJ in this investigation that are -- whose bias is reasonably questionable on an objective basis. People who took questionable actions in Hillary investigations are now on Trump investigation. That was very unwise, at least from an appearance perspective.

And last night, we had on CNN, you know, Paul Begala was here, used the exact same word that Newt just used, corrupt in describing Ken Starr when he was in the Bill Clinton White House.

I think, frankly, this sort of push back has not happened up until now, by and large, on the Republican side, but now suddenly, there has been a burst of data points that call into question, not just Mueller, but the structure that he's put in place and the bias inherent in that structure, the people he's hired.

That's where this attack is coming from. This is one of those examples of why it's important in the judiciary process to not only act with propriety, but to be above the appearance of impropriety and that's been sacrificed here.

BALDWIN: Norm, your response, would you agree with Ken or not at all? And as you answer, do you think that there is any sort of, you know, potential here that President Trump who has the ability to fire the special counsel here, do you think based upon everything we have seen on Fox, and from some Republicans, is he considering doing that?

EISEN: Well, I have to respectfully disagree with my friend, Ken. Bob Mueller is a Republican. He was made FBI director by Republican administration.

CUCCINELLI: Yes.

EISEN: Not just Newt Gingrich but broad bipartisan applause by Mueller when he took this job and he's done it in an objective way. There was an issue that arose as to one of the investigators.

Bob Mueller did the right thing. He referred it to the IG, has to do with the man's text messages, a career FBI agent, a senior one.

[14:15:05] And he removed him from his investigation. What more sign of independence do you need than that? I've written extensively with the Bush era, ethics czars, so it's

bipartisan, Brooke. That all of these conflict claims and campaign contributions, all that, is a make way. They go nowhere. So, I believe it's a very independent, fair investigation. If you look at the charges, you can see that.

And then in terms of the firing the right wing is trying to goad President Trump into firing Bob Mueller because they know the exposure that the president has. Now, I've just issued a report at CREW, at my watchdog with coauthors. It's not so easy for the president to fire Mueller. That would be very complicated and very hard to do.

I don't think the president is going to take the bait. So far he's been advised not to do it. And I think as long as Ty Cobb is there in the White House, he's cooperating.

He believes it is a close question which way the obstruction will go. Others may go down. Until the president believes he's going to go down, I think Mueller's job so far at least as of today is safe. That could change at any time. We have a mercurial president, but as I say, not so easy to fire the man.

BALDWIN: Well, every day seems like an eternity, or every week seems like a year, with everything we pack in. So, who knows what happens between today and next Friday?

CUCCINELLI: Brooke?

BALDWIN: Quickly, Ken. Go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, I would note. I think within the White House, they believe politically, only politically, that firing Comey was what blew this all up. I don't think they're going to repeat a similar type mistake with Mueller.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes.

Ken Cuccinelli, a pleasure, sir. Ambassador Eisen, thank you so much for coming back. To both of you, have wonderful weekends.

CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you.

BALDWIN: We've got a lot more to talk about here.

Coming up next, civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, among those skipping the opening of the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi this weekend. The reason they're offering? That President Trump -- because he is going to be there. The White House is now responding and criticizing that move. We'll debate both sides, ahead.

Also, strong words from former President Barack Obama invoking Nazi Germany as he warns about today's politics.

Also, one thing that President Obama says used to drive him nuts during his presidency. We have more on that coming up here on CNN.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:21:51] BALDWIN: You are back watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Two black congressmen, one of whom a civil rights legend, they are boycotting the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this weekend. Why? Because President Trump is going to be there.

When Congressmen John Lewis and Benny Thompson got word that President Trump had accepted the governor's invitation to attend the museum's grand opening, they released this statement. Quote: President Trump disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants and National Football League players disrespect the efforts of Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, Robert Clark, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and countless others that have given their all for Mississippi to be a better place.

CNN contributor and former religious affairs director in the Obama White House, Joshua Dubois, is with us today. And CNN political commentator and talk radio host, Ben Ferguson, is with us as well.

So, gentlemen, great to see both of you and --

JOSHUA DUBOIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to be here.

BALDWIN: And, Joshua Dubois, just beginning with you, should Congressman Lewis be boycotting this opening do you think?

DUBOIS: Well, listen, if there is anyone in American public life who deserves to have us trust their judgment about what's right and what's wrong, it has got to be Congressman John Lewis. I mean, this is a history museum and we got to remember our history here. And I know you know these things, but, you know, we got to recall -- this was the man who along with Diane Nash and James Bevel and rest started the sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1960. He was one of the original 13 freedom riders.

You know, when folks marched across the Edmund Pettis Bridge and were met in the face with opposition of 150 police officers, it was John Lewis who had his skull fractured in the march. And he didn't stop there. He's done this for decades, building up his moral credibility.

And he's saying, listen, there's just something that I don't feel is right about standing next to a president who I believe is destructive on civil rights. And if the man is saying that, I think we deserve to not necessarily question John Lewis but question what it is about President Trump that makes him feel that way.

BALDWIN: Ben Ferguson, how do you feel?

FERGUSON: Yes, I think it's a big missed opportunity for Representative Lewis. I have a lot of respect for what he has done in his career. I'll quote the NAACP co-chairman in Tennessee who said, if your job is to get people to understand a different perspective, and you think the person needs a different perspective is the president and he's willing to be in the same room with you and listen to your speech, you take that opportunity to bring people together, not to divide them.

I -- unfortunately, I think Representative Lewis looked at this as a political opportunity to kind of make it do a stunt against Donald Trump. And that's personal. That doesn't help with the conversation on civil rights or racism or anything else in this country.

The bottom line is the president is the most powerful man in the world. And if you feel like his viewpoint needs to change, why would you not take an opportunity where he's going to be sitting next to you to use your influence, your history, your credibility, your story to influence the president of the United States of America? And there's a lot of people, including the ACLU, local chapters, and the NAACP local chapters who have both come out and said they think it's appropriate for the president to be there and that you should take this opportunity to not boycott him but to actually try to get him to try to look at your perspective.

[14:25:14] And he missed it for one reason, a political stunt and it's a bad political stunt, and it divides people. It doesn't bring him together, which I thought was the entire purpose of this museum.

DUBOIS: Yes, you know --

BALDWIN: Josh, he makes a point. Listen, I'm from Georgia, the man is a legend. But the notion that he's not showing up, you're right, he wrote history, right?

DUBOIS: Yes.

BALDWIN: But is he missing the chance to stand up, confront racism, talk to the president?

DUBOIS: I don't think so. One, in these events and I've been to many presidential events before, they often have a way to make the president is there to hear the pieces of the event what he wants to hear, and then they get him out of the room before he has to hear anything else. So, there's no guarantee that President Trump would be around to hear a critique from John Lewis.

But you also have to remember, when John Lewis shows up to something, his moral credibility --

FERGUSON: A lot of speculation there.

DUBOIS: -- shows up with him.

And so, he would be lending his credibility to what I believe is a political move on the part of President Trump. How can you say that you're for civil rights one day at a museum opening in Mississippi, and the next day support someone like Roy Moore one state over in Alabama, who has decimated the rights -- at least is accused of doing so, of women who said back in September that, you know, except for slavery, that was a time when America was great back then.

You know, Donald Trump is showing with his actions he's opposed to civil rights and John Lewis is not going to stand next to it.

BALDWIN: That's where I was going to next. I mean, Ben, how do you square that? The man -- the president is in Pensacola tonight, a stone throw from Alabama, right, essentially, it's a rally for Roy Moore.

And let me just bring everyone else in the loop, you know, there's been this tweet that's brought back the fact that there was a rally earlier this year where one of the very few African-Americans in the audience stood up and, you know, in Florence, Alabama, and asked the question of Roy Moore, essentially asking, when was the last time America being great? And Roy Moore acknowledged in the nation's history of racial divisions, but then he said, and I'm quoting him, I think it was great at the time when families were united even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.

This is a man that the president is supporting. And not even 24 hours later, the president will be in Mississippi, you know, at the civil rights museum opening. How do you square the two?

FERGUSON: I'll literally take your premise and I'll say it this way. If that's how you see the president and that's how you see Roy Moore, why wouldn't you take an opportunity to talk to the president of the United States of America on stage about your perspective and your view point?

I've said this. I am not a supporter of Roy Moore. I don't think he should be in the Senate. That's my personal opinion on this.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FERGUSON: Many voters in Alabama say he doesn't represent my values, but he represents my interests. And that's why he's probably going to win this election.

But the bottom line is: go back to congressman here. If you say that the president's viewpoint needs to change and you use what you just said as the example, how do you change that man by not showing up, not talking to him, not engaging him, but you criticize him? I mean, criticism doesn't bring people together. It doesn't bring people to your way of life or your perspective.

The best conversations I've ever had with people that I disagree with are sitting down face-to-face, and then saying, just look at it from my perspective or understand my life from my perspective. This was an opportunity for Congressman Lewis to do that. And unfortunately he missed the boat for I think political points that he thought I can score against Donald Trump and look at me standing up to him and getting to imply that he's a racist or a bigot, and people will love me for it. That doesn't bring people together.

BALDWIN: OK. DUBOIS: It's a good point and a fair point. However, when you sit down with those folks you disagree with, if you really want to make change, you do so in private. You don't do so when the cameras are out there.

FERGUSON: You got to start somewhere, though.

DUBOIS: No, but you don't do so when the cameras are out there and you get --

FERGUSON: A civil rights museum opening is a pretty good place to start.

DUBOIS: You don't do so when the cameras are out there and Trump can take advantage of the warm blow of John Lewis. I'm sure John Lewis would sit down privately.

FERGUSON: You have no idea what conversations are going to take place behind the stage. You have no idea what conversations might take place before that event or after that event or even at the event. Minds are open when you go to events like this.

DUBOIS: I've been in those situations many times.

FERGUSON: So have I.

DUBOIS: And I know that presidents have a way of being able to avoid those tough conversations. So -- and John Lewis is saying, I'm going to provide moral clarity --

FERGUSON: Some pretty jaded perspective.

DUBOIS: -- and I'm not going to associate myself with someone or something that I think is morally problematic.

BALDWIN: OK.

DUBOIS: And you know what, if he got beat over the head in Selma, Alabama, he has the credibility to say that and for us to believe him.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about a moment where there were cameras around the president, Josh, I'm talking about your former boss. Gentlemen, please stick around here.

Coming up next, former President Obama referencing Nazi Germany as he delivers a stark warning about today's politics. We will play his comments. We'll discuss that coming up next with Joshua and Ben.

Also breaking news involving the Alabama Senate candidate, speaking of, a woman, one of the woman who accused Roy Moore of sexual assault, this is when she was 16, she spoke out just moments ago about remarks --