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Putin Calls: Thanks Trump For A CIA Tip That Helped Foil Attack; Mueller Denies "Unlawfully" Obtaining E-Mails; Trump Lawyers Set To Meet With Special Counsel This Week; Power Partially Back On At Atlanta's Airport, World's Busiest; Procession Held For Firefighter Killed By Thomas Fire; Strong Winds Threaten To Fuel States Third- Largest Blaze; Michigan Voters Still Hopeful After Flipping State For Trump; Prince Harry Interviews Obama For Radio Show
Aired December 17, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:02] FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All of these coming as the President's own intel agency say Russia meddled in the U.S. election and the President's attorney saying the Russia probe will soon end.
For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson in Moscow. So, Nic, what can you tell us about this phone call, who initiated what?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. President Putin initiated the call. He called President Trump to thank him for CIA's assistance to Russia's intelligence services which he said stopped an attack in St. Petersburg yesterday. The attack would have been on Saturday.
The attack was planned we are told from this phone call around the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. This is a major tourist area. It has a big subway station very closely. It has a major shopping mall right to that intersection as well. It has an international hotel very close as well. So all sorts of things that bring tourists and Russian citizens into the area. It would have been a busy area.
What we are told is that the information the CIA provided helped the Russian intelligence services trace, detect and arrest the man plotting and planning this attack. Now, this appears to relate to what we were told by Russia's federal state security services on Friday. They say that in St. Petersburg, they arrested seven men that they had explosives, that they had weapons, ammunition, they were linked to ISIS, that they had extremist literature with them when they were arrested in an apartment in St. Petersburg. And that they were planning attacks using suicide bombers, using IEDs in a central location of St. Petersburg.
So this seems to be one in the same thing. So this would have been seven attackers, suicide bombers among them, men with automatic weapons who could have been shooting down, you know, innocent civilians and passersby. So this is what President Putin appears to be thanking President Trump for. Timely and helpful advice from the CIA to the Russian intelligence services. Fredricka? WHITFIELD: So fascinating. Nic Robertson, thank you so much, in Moscow.
So meanwhile, the Russia investigation comes under attack from lawyers representing the Trump presidential transition and several GOP members. This after the Special Counsel obtained thousands of e-mails from the transition team. Trump transition lawyers claimed the e- mails were obtained illegally.
A representative for Robert Mueller firing back saying, "We have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process." All of this has some Republicans and the Conservative media casting doubt on the credibility of the Mueller investigation. And Democrats question the motives behind the attacks on Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I think Republicans should end their concerted effort to undermine the credible of the Mueller investigation. The question is, what are they afraid of? What is White House afraid of? Let's let them finish the job and get the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, this all coming in what could be a critical week in the Russia investigation. Mueller is preparing to meet with President Trump's private lawyers about the Russia interference investigations in the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think there is nothing there. It should be over quickly. And people want to focus on other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House. So, Boris, you talked with someone ahead of the Trump transition team. What's being said?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, yes. Let's take a step back to put it all in context. So these e-mails were obtained by Robert Mueller via the GSA, the General Service Administration which handles logistics and support for transition teams including things like e-mails.
Earlier today, GSA spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that these e-mails were handed over legally in part because they are public record. While Ken Nahigian, the Executive Director of the Trump transition team told me over the phone just over an hour ago, that is simply not the case. He says that during the transition, there was an understanding between the transition team and the GSA that though the GSA would handle the logistics and the support and security for these e-mails, they were the actual property of the transition team. And therefore it is up to the transition team to determine who they could or could not be shared with.
Nahigian stressed the transition team's independence from the White House as well in light of recent rumors from Democrats that there was a plot to unseat Robert Mueller from the Special Counsel. He says that this letter that the transition team sent to Congress, alerting them that Mueller had obtained these e-mails was more about reserving the integrity of future transitions.
I asked him about his relationship specifically with the White House, he says there wasn't when he told me, I do not talk to the White House. He also said that the transition team was now exploring their options in terms of a response to this revelation that Mueller obtained there e-mails. We could potentially see an official response before the end of the day, Fred.
[15:05:12] WHITFIELD: OK, unofficial response coming from the White House. Potentially, the President a little bit later on today heading back from Camp David. He was at Camp David. Vice President was there. Is there any more insight as to what they may have been discussing either the upcoming vote on taxes? What was kind of on their agenda?
SANCHEZ: Potentially anybody's guess but we are expecting the President to deliver a speech this week on foreign policy. And beyond that, obviously, the tax bill is still unfinished. So there may be some discussion as to that putting, you know, all of the speculation to rest as to whether or not it is finally going to be passed and certainly appears that way.
We are expecting the House to vote on it on Tuesday. But Senate to potentially vote on as early as Tuesday, if not going into Wednesday. Of course, the big question about that now is attendance. You had two Republican senators this week from Mississippi who had a medical procedure and there were questions about whether or not he would be able to attend.
We also have questions about whether or not John McCain would be able to attend the vote, of course. He is at Walter Reed Hospital here in Washington D.C. being treated for brain cancer. Were told the President actually checked in with his family on Friday just to offer best wishes and hear about how the Senator from Arizona was, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much. Of course, we are all wishing the best for both members of Congress there.
All right, let's now talk about all of these now with my panel. Susan Hennessey is a CNN National Security and Legal Analyst. Bob Baer is a CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst and a Former CIA Operative. Good to see you both.
All right, Bob, let me begin with you. Honestly, this phone call between Presidents Trump and Putin, Putin calling to thank Mr. Trump for U.S. intel that prevented a terrorist attack. But we know that the President has been very critical about U.S. intelligence yet somehow trusted it to share it with Russia to say look out for this planned attack. What do you think about that contradiction?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, Trump is still trying to reconcile with Russia, he's trying to get over the opposition in Congress. He is trying to tell Americans and the rest of the world we could be very good friends, we could work on terrorism. If weren't for this political problems some facing, you know, with the special prosecutor Bob Mueller in Congress and the rest of it.
So, this was a really a propaganda leak, you know, whether in fact it was going to be an attack on St. Petersburg or not but it works very well for Trump's case. That if we only have better relations with Russia, we could do more with terrorism.
WHITFIELD: OK. So, read between the lines so to speak. So, Bob, what do you think I guess is a foot in terms of this relationship between Putin and Trump? Because there are so many images whether at the overseas in various summits where they look very chummy. And now these phone calls just two within three days sounding like, you know, they are all old pals as well. You know, they talked about the economy in one instance and this time the CIA perhaps -- or other U.S. intel agencies assisting in foiling (ph) an attack. What's the overall big picture in your view about what's going on here?
BAER: Well, it depends what you think the relationship between Putin and Trump is. I mean, Putin is the one person in the world he hasn't gone head to head with. I find that very suspicious. I think Trump very much, which I just said, would like to go back and reset with Russia. He thinks that the Obama administration messed it up and particularly Hillary Clinton.
And he's going to stick this -- and he is basically telling us, look, if it weren't for this dumb Mueller investigation, dumb, I mean, the way he describes it, we could go back to dealing with Russia as we should. And, you know, that's been his position, consistent, for two years now.
WHITFIELD: And so the motivation, Susan, for Russia could be what about those sanctions. You know, let's have a better relationship because of those, you know, sanctions. For Trump, I guess there's a big question mark about how would this be advantageous for the Trump administration to have this kind of relationship, a better relationship with Russia. OK, ISIS, Syria that's one thing, but realistically. What's at stake here?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: One of questions the -- the sort of open questions here as why Trump has not taken any steps to actually enact congressionally imposed sanctions. So, while he did not roll back those Obama administration sanctions early in his administration, you know, Congress additional steps on the White House has done almost nothing to actually impose, you know, those legislative sanctions, you know, really.
So there's a lot of questions here about why the White House is not taking, you know, the steps that aren't just sort of about their policy judgment. So really it's about, you know, a coordinate branch of the United States government telling them, you know, that they have this obligation, you know, to implement, you know, their legislative agenda as well.
[15:10:13] WHITFIELD: OK. And then now let's talk about these transition e-mails obtained why the Mueller team -- the Trump transition team is saying they were obtained illegally that there was, Susan, an agreement, an understanding that these e-mails would remain private. Would there ever be such an understanding?
We're talking to transition teams have often been provided national security information. I mean, they are transitioning into having access to all things as it relates to the protections of United States. So would there be an agreement on that level about this communications within the transition?
HENNESSEY: Right. So there might have been some sort of memorandum of understanding that sort of set out the ground rules. You know, there's a big difference between saying whether or not this material is considered public material versus this is material that GSA is actually going to withhold, you know, from law enforcement.
Typically, whenever you use the government device, log in to a government computer, the very first thing you have to do is click a little consent notification that says, look, you know, I'm consenting, you know, for law enforcement or for any part of the U.S. government to actually, you know, take a look here. So, I think the real tell here that this is probably not a sincere legal question is of course that these attorneys are directing their letter to Congress. If they believe that Robert Mueller had behaved illegally right his team and violated the law, they would be taking that charge to a judge to make the determination.
And so, the fact that this is sort of a letter to Congress, it mostly appears to just sort of be registering the grievance, you know, and recommending that they take additional protective steps in the future. You know, that really does sort of present it in terms of, we're not really talking about a genuine legal question here. This is either sort of a longer term policy consideration or it's just kind of a talking point, you know, potentially one aimed at further discrediting or delegitimizing the Mueller investigation.
WHITFIELD: So Bob, let's talk about, you know, whether it would be for the President or other Republicans that undermining Mueller, undermining the investigation overall, whether information was obtained illegally or not, whether the probe is quick to be ending that there's nothing there. All of these things being said, I mean, does it make the White House look more and more like it is trying to hide something by trying to undermine all of the forces that are trying to get to the bottom of what happened when they who was responsible?
BAER: Well, I think, Fred, this is organized. You look at Fox News calling the FBI, you know, a criminal organization. You look at the right wing blogs and radio stations, there's been a bunch U.S. attorneys at the Department of Justice on their way out or have been fired. And you have these attacks on these two FBI agents and the lawyer. It looks to me that they're setting up Mueller to be removed.
Now whether they fire him next week as the echo chamber is keep hearing, or whether they replace the attorney general who then brings in a special counsel, I don't know.
WHITFIELD: But how does it make things better if that were to happen and not worse. Because now we're moving closer and closer to the direction of obstruction or overreach, right?
BAER: Well, I hope that they remove Mueller, that they would impeach the President, but you can't count on that and specially if there's a new attorney general who does that. It may muddy the waters a bit. But it's not looking good for Mueller. I have never seen the FBI and the Department of Justice under attack like this including Watergate. This is -- we're in new cease (ph) here.
WHITFIELD: Susan, how do you read all of these tea leaves?
HENNESSEY: All right. So clearly there is some kind of coordinated sort of effort here to in attempt to delegitimize that Mueller and, you know, Mueller's investigation. You know, it sort of seems like we're moving on to plan B or C. So, plan A for the administration, you know, was to let the Special Counsel have this investigation, you know, kind of win on the facts, hope that it wrapped up quickly.
Now that that hasn't work for moving into plan B trying delegitimize that investigation. You know, keep in mind, we now have two guilty pleas and two indictments that have come out of this investigation. So sort of the idea that it hasn't produced anything, hasn't produced anything damaging to the President isn't really backed up by the record, you know. So, clearly, this is some kind of effort to, you know, to delegitimize the Special Counsel investigation.
You know, the question is whether or not plan C is actually to remove Robert Mueller. You know, I do think that the White House learns or potentially learns a really important lesson whenever they decided to remove -- to fire Former FBI Director James Comey. They really miscalculated that moment, had overwhelming push back. It led to the appointment of the Special Counsel. So, you know, if they have learned anything over the past year, it might be that actually doing something dramatic like firing the Special Counsel might lead to the consequences that they are really the most afraid of here.
[15:15:10] WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, Susan Hennessey, Bob Baer, thanks to both of you, appreciate it.
All right, coming up, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, now under attack again from President Trump's lawyers, conservative media and even some Republican lawmakers worrying Democrats about the future of the Russia investigation. We're going to be talking more about what we just talked about except that this time we'll talk to a Republican congressman about what or who is behind all of these attacks next.
And California's third largest wildfire consumes another 1,500 acres, this as firefighters lay to rest one of their own killed battling that very fire. The latest from the front lines, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. For the past several weeks, the Trump administration and many other Republicans have been openly criticizing the FBI. They say the agency has a partisan agenda and that Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the election is biased.
[15:20:13] Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina joining me right now from Charlotte to talk more about all of this. Good to see you, Congressman.
REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Hello, Fred. Happy Sunday.
WHITFIELD: Oh, happy Sunday to you. So, why is this effort from the White House, the transition team, and other fellow Republicans to undermine Robert Mueller and team good for America, good for democracy, and good for your party?
PITTENGER: Well, I don't think they intend us to undermine Robert Mueller. I think it's like Sergeant Friday, "Just the facts, ma'am", "Just the facts." And it's very disconcerting I think for any thoughtful American as they read these e-mails between Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe. The f word referred to President Trump numerable times saying that we can't take the chance on President Trump winning.
WHITFIELD: But Mueller took disciplinary action, right? They are no longer part of the equation. I heard, you know, your colleague, Senator Cornyn saying earlier today, you know, that he thought that Mueller needed to vet Moore, that he had still concerns about others who may be partisan within the team. But are you --
PITTENGER: I think it reflects.
WHITFIELD: Do you feel --
PITTENGER: I think it reflects the spirit of what we've seen. You know, if there's any message that was delivered by --
WHITFIELD: But it's actually they're already been taken at least on a couple of people. Does that --
PITTENGER: But I think it works --
WHITFIELD: -- you know, rather confident that if it's unveil that there are others doing that that there would be disciplinary action, but how is that impacting the overall spirit of the investigation about whether Russia meddled with the U.S. elections?
PITTENGER: Hey, Fred. Let's get to the basis of this. The reality is that we've seen evidence of complacency, we've seen evidence of cover up, we've seen evidence of trying to go after President Trump. What else is there? Is this just the surface? I think if there's any message really that was delivered in the election, it was a distrust of American's -- the agencies of our government. And the American people seen enough and they frankly saw President Trump as wanting to come clear the decks. Whether he trust the arrest --
WHITFIELD: So my understanding you properly -- you're saying that there doesn't need to be discontinuation of a probe to see how far, how deep Russia may have meddled in the election and whether there were any America --
PITTENGER: I think the issue is --
WHITFIELD: -- who are complicit and not.
PITTENGER: Well, I think the issue right now is do we trust the agency that's pursuing all of this. As the President said he has great confidence in the downline individuals inside the FBI, but certainly, there's been complacency of many people at the top. And we have to establish -- reestablished trust of the American people.
You know, when I go and I vote every day, I walk at those worn stone steps to the Capitol. I look at that dam and what we represent and freedom and liberty and opportunity. We're not a desperate. We're not a banana republic.
WHITFIELD: OK. So you trust --
PITTENGER: We are representative government and we need to be able to convey to the American people who are governed by representatives, not by few desperates who have some power --
WHITFIELD: OK. Do you --
PITTENGER: -- who think they can abuse that power.
WHITFIELD: OK. You trust U.S. intelligence. Now it appears to this phone call with President Trump and Putin, Putin trust U.S. intelligence and the American President somehow trusted U.S. intelligence to pass it on to Russia to avert or thwart some sort of ISIS attack. But do you think that's a very different message that is coming from the President of the United States as it pertains to U.S. intelligence being used to look into whether Russia is threatening democracy by way of our the elections?
PITTENGER: Fred, in all due respect, the President is recognizing that Russia has a problem with terrorism. They have 20 million Muslims living, they're chit (ph) in other parks and they have a concern similar as we do. I think the President's own party --
WHITFIELD: But I guess what I'm asking is --
PITTENGER: -- and own message collaborating with President Putin to try to defeat this adversary.
WHITFIELD: Do you not see that there's incongruent messaging here? PITTENGER: I think the President has a strategy he's laid out and that he has intended and he has been successful in his intent. You know, many folks in the media and others on the left, they've never believed that the most of the world would come together and ever meet with President Trump. Forty of them did. He's looking for avenues, for a collaboration to defeat our adversaries. And he has been long gone successful doing it.
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman, do you believe the groundwork is being laid to fire Robert Mueller?
PITTENGER: I don't think that's -- the presupposition is wrong. I think what people want are the facts. And we have to make sure that there's confidence inside the system. That's why, as Mr. Godley (ph) suggest that we may need another investigator coming here and review all of this. We have to have confidence in those who are in charge of disseminating of justice throughout this country.
WHITFIELD: Do you believe this president deals with Russia differently?
[15:25:05] PETTINGER: No, I think he deals with every country. You know, you can't choose the people around the world. You can't look for perfection.
PITTENGER: If anything that I realize in the Middle East to meet with all the allies we have and the heads of state over there, is they saw affectless government with President Obama.
WHITFIELD: But it seems, though, there's already a track record where he has offended allies such as England but then he appears in several settings to approach Russia in a much more diplomatic, even softer approach.
PITTENGER: On the contrary, President Trump is an honest broker. He doesn't play games. He communicates straightforward that's why countries trust him, that's why they can do business with him because he will lay out the facts.
They never could do business with President Obama because they never knew where he stood. He moved one place to another. There was no line and there was a line, you know, they saw the --
WHITFIELD: So do you have confidence that --
PITTENGER: -- I had --
WHITFIELD: Sorry, I interrupt. Do you have confidence that this White House will cooperate with the ongoing Mueller investigation and not try to interfere?
PITTENGER: It's not a matter of interference. It's a matter of let's get to the facts. You've got oversight committees in the House and then the Senate who are trying to get to the facts. They have been stonewalled. We need to make sure that we can prosecute those who are needed to be prosecuted and that there are folks there who are trying to protect them.
WHITFIELD: All right. Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger, thank you so much.
PITTENGER: It's good to be with you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, glad to be with us.
Coming up, a ground stop at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the world's busiest all because of a power outage. How this is affecting passengers and airlines, next.
[15:31:16] WHITFIELD: All right, there's breaking news out of Atlanta. We're hearing power is partially back on at America's busiest airport after a massive power outage. A ground stop is actually in place now and there are no international flights arriving at the Atlanta airport.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is there joining us with the very latest now. So, Kaylee, describe what's going on.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we are about two hours into this massive power outage and we still don't know what caused the power to go out at the Atlanta airport or when is the airport will resume normal operations. I just spoke with the Deputy Director of Communication for the Atlanta airport and he told me they are working with Georgia power and the airport team to determine how to get the power back. But they have no understanding of what caused this outage. And there is no ETA for when operations will resume.
I asked if anyone was in a perilous situation thinking about the sky train not working and the elevators not working. He said no one in a perilous situation right now.
Atlanta police are on the scene. This is, you know, within their jurisdiction of course any normal day to ensure safety here. As I've talked with some of their officials, they say they are just trying to keep things orderly. And to this point, everything has been working in an orderly fashion or should I say standing still in orderly fashion.
We are hearing the first cancellations from airlines and truthfully, I'm hearing this from friends who have planes scheduled to come through Atlanta who have been notified that their flight will not be taking off today. This airport continues to be at a standstill and we continue to try to find answers as to what caused this.
WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much. Keep us posted there from the airport.
All right, still ahead, firefighters in Southern California pausing to honor one of their own killed while fighting one of the largest fires in state history. The fire is continuing to grow overnight. We'll take you there live.
[15:37:30] WHITFIELD: All right. Firefighters in California are battling what is now the third largest blaze in that state's history. Nearly 9,000 firefighters are tackling 260,000 acre Thomas Fire. The total firefighting costs in dollars, $110 million. There are 18,000 homes threatened, 95,000 people evacuate and 85,000 power outages.
The Thomas Fire has burned an area larger than the entire city of Dallas. The area you are looking at right now in Southern California with the blaze roughly 70 miles away from north of Los Angeles. The Santa Ana winds adding fuel to the fires.
Meanwhile, a funeral procession was held earlier today for fallen San Diego firefighter Cory Iverson who died Thursday while battling the Thomas Fire. Iverson leaves behind his wife who was expecting and their 2-year-old daughter.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is on the ground in Santa Barbara County. How concerned are people there?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are very concerned, but it seems that in this little corner of the Thomas Fire, and it is a huge complex of fire. The firefighter, who died, Cory Iverson, was on the south side of Fillmore, California. Smoke and thermal injuries is what killed him. He and his crew were fighting a fire there and that fire came up over the top of them.
The sort of wind and fire behavior we have seen here is just insane. This is a good example of where we are now. The hill above us is sort of symptomatic or a good example of the very steep hills that they have in this area. You can see that red right along the top of it. That's where firefighters in the planes were dumping retardant up in that area. The fire was burning on the other side of that hill and it started a spot fire down exactly where we are.
I want to show you what the entire sort of valley. You should be able to see the ocean from here. This is above Montecito. You should be able to see the ocean. But the winds are incredibly calm right now so they almost come to a standstill and all of that smoke is now just laying down basically throughout the area.
I want to show you this house also. This fire is spotted from over on that side all the way down here to where these homes were. And firefighters, you can see the hose here that they were using. Firefighters have been up and down through this neighborhood. The firewood for this home that they were preparing for their winter fires, that burned before they intended to do it. And then all of the vegetation around the home burned, but the home was saved and that situation has happened time and time again throughout this area.
[15:40:01] Just incredible to see how many firefighters are in this area. About 400 different trucks are in this one area of Montecito and Santa Barbara and Summerland to fight any spot fires. Today, they are getting help from the wind further south though along the 126. They are expecting those Santa Ana winds to come back. So that side of the Thomas fire, about 30 or 40 miles from where we are right now, they could have trouble.
WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness.
WHITFIELD: All right, fair warning. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much, from Santa Barbara County.
All right, next. One year after the election, we talked to voters who helped Donald Trump flip the state from blue to red in here what they think of the President now.
[15:45:15] WHITFIELD: It appears that President Trump may be just days away from signing a historic tax reform into law. When we return to Michigan, one year after the election to talk to the voters who helped Trump flip that state from blue to red, many told us they are banking on his tax reform promise. And what about the President's other promises that he hasn't fulfilled yet? Well, they have an explanation for that too. Here's CNN's Poppy Harlow.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In a stunning election upset, President Trump did what no Republican candidate had done for decades. He flipped Michigan from blue to red, helping him synch the 2016 election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Trump has done a great job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has done a very good job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the face of the tremendous opposition.
HARLOW (voice-over): These are the voters who helped President Trump flip Michigan. We met them here just days after President Trump took office. We came back, nearly a year later, to find out how they think he's done.
DENISE EDWARDS, MINISTER: It's a B.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An A for effort.
RON EDWARDS, RADIO COMMENTATOR: A B-plus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A B for accomplishment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say C-plus.
BILL DECKER, OWNER, LILY ANN CABINETS: I give him an "A."
HARLOW (on camera): An A?
HARLOW (voice-over): Bill Decker owns Lily Ann Cabinets, a sprawling factory in Adrian, Michigan, about an hour and a half drive southwest of Detroit. Decker is very happy with what he says the President has done for his business.
DECKER: We're growing 25 percent to 30 percent. So everything here is well.
HARLOW (on camera): So you say President Trump gets also the credit?
DECKER: I would -- personally I would say 99 percent. We doubled down.
HARLOW (voice-over): Doubled down despite major concerns about Trump's threat at the time of tariffs on Chinese goods. Decker imports all of these cabinets from China.
HARLOW (on camera): You're saying a big reason you can't make these cabinets here, start to finish, is because of all the regulations?
DECKER: Yes, the regulations are full federal and state regulations.
HARLOW (on camera): And so when the President talks about less regulation, less regulation, less regulation, you're sitting over here saying, I want that, but you don't have that yet in your business?
DECKER: No, we don't. And I think it's going to take time.
HARLOW (on camera): You are concerned, is it fair to say, about the President's stance on immigration for your business?
HARLOW (on camera): Why?
DECKER: A third of the population in Adrian is of Mexican/Hispanic workforces.
HARLOW (on camera): You mean fewer immigration in this country, worse for your business?
DECKER: Worse. Far worse.
HARLOW (voice-over): Decker, like everyone met here, recognizes the President hasn't achieved many of his major legislative promises yet. No wall, no Obamacare repeal or infrastructure plan yet. But most don't blame him.
(on camera): Is there anything the President could do that would lose your support?
DECKER: Strange as this is going to sound, I don't think that's possible.
HARLOW (on camera): Since NAFTA was signed in the early '90s, Michigan alone has lost more than a quarter of its manufacturing jobs. And the promise you heard from the President so much on the campaign trail was that he would bring those jobs back. So far, in the last year though, manufacturing jobs in this state have barely budged.
(voice-over): But across the country, a different story. More than 170,000 manufacturing jobs have been added so far this year, compared with the loss of 34,000 over the same period last year.
(on camera): You called NAFTA a shakedown.
SAL MOCERI, FORD UNION WORKER: It was.
HARLOW (on camera): Of America.
MOCERI: It was.
HARLOW (voice-over): But for Sal Moceri, a nearly lifelong auto worker at Ford and an immigrant from Sicily, some of the President's promises have come up short.
(on camera): What grade do you give the President?
MOCERI: Well, right now, I would just give him a C.
HARLOW (on camera): What do you think the President could do to get a higher grade in your book?
MOCERI: Everybody's waiting on the taxes.
HARLOW (on camera): It is tax reform for you number one now?
MOCERI: Numero uno.
HARLOW (on camera): If tax reform does not happen, does he get your vote in 2020?
MOCERI: No. Simple as that.
HARLOW (voice-over): Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate Sal has voted for, after casting his ballot twice for President Obama. Now, it's the division he's seeing that brings him to tears.
(on camera): This is really personal for you. I mean, you bring up your kids.
MOCERI: I'm afraid. OK. That they're not going to have a pension. They're not -- they're going to be depending on the government for assistance for medical, OK. You want your child to be dependent on that? No. You want them to be free and have a future. It's called the human race, not the Republican or Democratic. It's called H.R.
R. EDWARDS: I think President Trump has done a very good job considering the fact that he's had very little, if no cooperation from Congress.
D. EDWARDS: I think he's done well considering the level of pressure to literally have half of a country so against you.
[15:50:03] HARLOW (on camera): But didn't President Obama face that same challenge?
D. EDWARDS: No, I don't -- I think -- you're always going to have those sections that we're not going to support Obama no matter what.
HARLOW (on camera): Mitch McConnell said, you know, we're going to make him a one-term president.
D. EDWARDS: Well, Mitch needs to retire.
HARLOW (on camera): Not a Mitch McConnell fan?
R. EDWARDS: No.
D. EDWARDS: I think that he -- Mitch McConnell serves a different agenda. I don't think he serves an agenda that's for America.
HARLOW (on camera): Where's the wall?
R. EDWARDS: Well, the wall is going to come. We cannot blame Trump if the wall does not get built because you do have the globalists, like a Mitch McConnell and many others --
D. EDWARDS: And John McCain.
R. EDWARDS: And McCain and many others who do not like Trump and are willing to put our nation at risk, our sovereignty, and not have the wall just because they have a personal vendetta against Trump?
HARLOW (on camera): You really think that?
R. EDWARDS: Oh, I know that.
HARLOW (on camera): Despite the praise we're hearing for the President from these Michigan voters, there's almost universal disappointment about health care reform. Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a signature promise of this President.
(voice-over): Ricky Quinn says his health care costs are too high.
RICKY QUINN, SECURITY GUARD: About $600 a month. That's what they take out of my pension check.
HARLOW (on camera): For you and your wife?
QUINN: Yes. The health care is actually a lot more than that because we pay a ton of stuff out of pocket.
HARLOW (voice-over): He's gone from making $40 an hour as an autoworker just a few years ago, to $14 an hour now working as a security guard. It's the best job he can find at this point, he says. (on camera): You were counting on the President to get health care reform through?
QUINN: Yes, I believe that it should have gotten through. I know it's going to sound like I'm just a 100 percent Trump guy, but that's not the case. I really don't think it was his fault.
HARLOW (on camera): He said, Ricky, day one --
QUINN: He did. That's absolutely right.
HARLOW (on camera): It will be so easy. And?
QUINN: I think he's tried as hard as he can, but when you've got people fighting you like that, I really don't feel like he felt it was going to be that hard to do and I still think he's going to get it done.
HARLOW (on camera): So does a fix to health care mean throw out Obamacare or work to fix some parts of it?
QUINN: It depends. I think you pretty much have to throw almost all of it out. Some of the big things like preexisting conditions need to stay. But as far as forcing people to buy insurance, I think that's where you're off (ph).
HARLOW (voice-over): Peggy and Jim Stewart have been married for 12 years, but they don't share the same politics. Peggy voted for President Trump. Jim did not. Both have been hoping for higher wages.
PEGGY STEWART, SECURITY GUARD: I still think he's staying with the agenda and the promises that he gave to us during the campaign, but the fight against him is just unsurmountable. I never seen any President be so disrespected and fought against as hard as he is.
HARLOW (voice-over): So what did Peggy and Jim get? So far their salary hasn't increased. Their health care hasn't changed.
STEWART: They got a man with a spine. That's what I wanted. A man that can think on his own two feet. That's what I like and that's what we're getting.
HARLOW (on camera): Do you not blame President Trump at all for not being able to get any major legislation passed yet?
STEWART: Well, I think his way of speaking to people could have a big difference on it. And his way of saying, well, you're going to do this, you're going to do that, this is it.
HARLOW (on camera): He could do it better?
STEWART: Maybe a little bit more diplomatic in his conversations and his presentations.
HARLOW (voice-over): After voting for President Obama twice, Peggy saw hope in President Trump, but she doesn't want all that he's selling.
(on camera): Do you want President Trump to repeal and replace Obamacare?
STEWART: Maybe parts of it.
HARLOW (on camera): Not all of it?
STEWART: I do believe there should be a universal medical.
HARLOW (on camera): You want universal health care?
STEWART: Health care.
HARLOW (on camera): That's a very liberal position.
STEWART: Well, there's other country doings it and successfully.
HARLOW (on camera): Is there anything the President could do to lose your vote?
STEWART: Have bona fide proof that he has allowed Russia to come in and interfere with the election so that he would win against Hillary. That would very well upset me. I'd feel stupid after that.
HARLOW (voice-over): One thing just about all of these voters would like to see is the President breakup with Twitter.
MOCERI: He's -- please stop tweeting. Please.
HARLOW (on camera): Do his tweets hurt him?
DECKER: I believe they do.
STEWART: And he's tweeting about it. I'm like, why did you even answer that. Come on, Mr. President, I know your mind is busier than that. But he's himself. And he's different. And I kind of like it that he's different. But I wish he would just not do the playground stuff.
HARLOW (voice-over): They may not like those tweets, but they haven't cost the President the support of many of his voters here who feel like he's trying for them, if not succeeding for them yet.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks Poppy Harlow for that report and a trip to Michigan. All right, we'll be right back.
[15:59:12] WHITFIELD: All right. Scoring an interview with a former president is a pretty big deal. About when you're a prince your odds are even better. Just ask Britain's Prince Harry who recently sat down with Barack Obama for a radio interview. The pair had been friends for years. And that closeness was on full display as Harry explained his editorial process to the former president.
BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do I need to speak faster because --
PRINCE HARRY, BRITAIN'S PRINCE: No. No. No, that's all.
OBAMA: OK. Do I need a British accent?
MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR: No, but if you start using long pauses between the answers, you're going to get the face.
OBAMA: Right. The face -- let me see the face. OK, I don't want to see that face.
WHITFIELD: Cute stuff. The full interview will air on December 27th when Prince Harry fills in as guest editor on BBC Radio. And Kensington Palace says it will also be releasing its own podcast.
All right, we've got so much more. Straight ahead in the Newsroom and it all starts right now.