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Trump, Oprah's Best Friend Weigh in on 2020 Run; Positive Results from North & South Korea Talks; Why Trump Opened Extraordinary Meeting to Media; White House Daily Briefing Begins. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:42] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The conversation about Oprah 2020 not going anywhere. In fact, it just got a bit more interesting. The president himself, first of all, is now officially weighing in giving odds for a Trump/Winfrey matchup.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know her very well. I did one of her last shows. She has Donald Trump. This was before politics. Her last week, and she had Donald Trump and my family. It was very nice.

No, I like Oprah. I don't think she's going to run.


TRUMP: I don't think she's going to run.


TRUMP: I know her very well.


BALDWIN: So there was the president opining on that.

Here you have political and social circles still debating if Oprah Winfrey should run following her speech at the Golden Globes. Her best friend, Gayle King, who was actually trying to calm the frenzy, actually stirred things up a bit more, saying she thinks Oprah is truly a little intrigued.


GAYLE KING, OPRAH'S BEST FRIEND: I absolutely don't think that her position has changed. I don't. I was up talking to her very late last night. I do think, though, guys, I do think she's intrigued by the idea. I do think that. I also know that after years of watching "The Oprah Show," you always have the right to change your mind. I don't think, at this point, she is actually considering it. But listen, there are people who have said they want to be her campaign manager, who want to quit their jobs and campaign for her. She loves this country. And would like to be of service in some way. But I don't think that she is actively considering it --


UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: For the record, that

KING: I don't think she's considering it at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: That is a change from what we heard in from October.

KING: It's not a change from her. That's a change from me.


BALDWIN: Let's talk with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at "Slate" magazine.

You wrote this powerful piece and based upon what it sounds like all these people jumping in on the Oprah 2020 bandwagon. And your whole point is the speech was not about her. It's about us. What do you mean?

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE MAGAZINE: I was so stunned, because I watched that speech, and I was so moved, because I thought this is an Obama-style speech. And the key note here is be the change you want to see in the world. You. Democracy is in your hands. And it was a speech about invisible people. About how she in 1964, suddenly, saw Sidney Poitier receive an Academy Award and saw a black man could be treated with dignity and changed her forever. Went on to talk about Rosa Parks. Extraordinarily part of a story about how invisible people become visible and empowered. And I thought that was the totality of what she said. She said get in the game and be visible. Me too.

BALDWIN: You think people are missing that because of the climate that we are in and they heard what they want to hear, looking not just for inspiration but for leadership? And if you would have taken that speech and plopped it any other year, people would have said that's amazing, we are inspired, not 2020?

LITHWICK: I think it goes partly to Democrats want someone to tell them what to do. They need a grown up. And we are looking around and it's Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and we want someone to be in charge of this. Here is this extraordinary woman and brand who gets up and says here's what you can do. And at the same time I think it's projecting all of this onto this person who I think was saying something quite different.

BALDWIN: This is what you wrote. "This is attributed to nameless women who have faced their own moments and for today's young black girls on linoleum floors that they couldn't imagine themselves winning a life-time achievement award and woke up Monday thinking they just might." That said, you saw Gayle on CBS, and she was talking on her phone on

the wee hours, and said shut it down. She didn't shut it down. Instead, she said Oprah was intrigued. Your read on that?

LITHWICK: I think anyone in America who is afraid of what's going on, who is looking, Oprah talked to great about poverty and racial justice and about sexual harassment, anyone who is thinking about those things and someone says to them you could really lead on this, I would run too if someone said to me at 2:00 in the morning you could really ferment a revolution around these issues. So I'm not surprised she's a little bit thinking about this. At the same time, I would really think I would just aggravate the idea she's thinking about this, this clear call to action, if you are worried about this stuff, America, vote, run, be visible, tell your story, do journalism, support journalism. Don't turn that into, I'll sit on my couch and watch Oprah run, that will fix things. That's the fear I have.

[14:35:48] BALDWIN: It's a great perspective.

Dahlia Lithwick, thank you so much. Come back.

LITHWICK: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

Just in now, the back story behind that remarkable cabinet-room meeting that we witnessed between President Trump and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle talking quite candidly today for nearly an hour, cameras in the room the whole time. What that meeting was designed to do, next.

We are also waiting for the White House briefing to begin. We'll take it live as we always do.

Stay with me. You're watching CNN.


[14:40:48] BALDWIN: A break through on the Korean peninsula. North and South Korea has now agreed to hold military talks. Although no word yet whether those military talks will talk will include anything about nuclear disarmament. But the two sides did agree on a little pomp and circumstance. North Korea is saying it will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Along with the athletes, the entourage will include a cheering squad, an art group and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration team.

Let's discuss. Bruce Klingner with us from the Heritage Foundation, who is the former chief of the CIA's Korea branch.

Good to have you back, Bruce.


BALDWIN: North Korea, you know, they obviously want to be recognized as big, bad nuclear power. As far as new talks go, nuclear weapons are off the table. So maybe this lessens immediate tension, but it gets us any closer to denuclearized North Korea?

KLINGNER: Not really. What people are getting excited about is North Korea has agreed to have meetings and resume the hot lone both that they severed. It's striking that decades the international community shunned south Africa from attending Olympics when it had the regime, but yet so eager to get North Korea into the Olympics. The talks are a good foot forward, but we hope they will change behavior and begin complying with resolutions calling it for to denuclearize.

BALDWIN: One can hope. The back drop of this as we all know the president of the United States taunting Kim Jong-Un labeling him over and over as rocket man, hurling the school insults about my button is bigger than yours. The president is taking credit for the two sides actually coming to the. Do you see it? Does Trump deserve any of that credit? Or is this really about the north and south and their issue on the peninsula?

KLINGNER: Yes, the international effort against North Korea really has had an impact on North Korea. And Kim Jong-Un even admitted as much during his annual New Year's Day speech. So the Trump administration continuing the previous administration of sanctions and targeted financial measures has had ha impact. Still more we can be doing using U.S. law. But North Korea as they do every year extends an olive branch. But what's different this year is South Korea is much more eager to grasp at that olive branch. South Korea was deadly afraid of some kind of provocation during the upcoming Olympics, so they were asking the U.S. to postpone bilateral exercises, which the U.S. finally agreed to do. So they'll be postponed not canceled. But the fear in Washington is that South Korea will go rogue, a bit rogue, either canceling military exercises or water down some of the international sanctions against North Korea.

BALDWIN: The Olympic games just next month. And as we mentioned, South Korea.

Bruce Klingner, we'll continue the conversation another time. Thank you so much.

We are standing by for that White House daily briefing. We'll take it live.

And for the past week, there's talk about the president's mental fitness, his competency. The White House is actually trying to shut that talk down by allowing cameras into the bipartisan meeting on immigration for nearly an hour. We'll talk about what we are learning about that behind the scenes next.


[14:48:22] BALDWIN: We are waiting for the White House briefing to begin any moment now, after the president's extraordinarily bipartisan meeting on immigration. We were a fly on the wall listening in on some negotiations over the fate of DREAMers. And we are now learning, according to administration source, part of the reason the media was actually given so much access to this meeting was, quote, "to seize the mega phone after a week dominated by concerns of president mental fitness." This is what we are getting from our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

I have a panel now.

Maeve Reston, let me begin with you.

What is your reaction to this meeting?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I think this was an extraordinarily moment at the meeting. The White House knew they had to change the narrative. Trump was getting pounded out there over and over again. You know, questions about his mental fitness to be president, all of these, you know, his war with Bannon, all of these intriguing details in the Wolff book. And they knew that they needed to do something to change the conversation. You have a huge midterm year coming up. The president's numbers look terrible. Republicans numbers look terrible. And he really wanted to shift the conversation to what he can do in a bipartisan way on immigration reform. Obviously, Lindsey Graham has been working on him on this issue for months now. And I think they really saw this as a great time to kind of seize that opportunity, get the new year off to a more stable foot. And really bring some more positive attention to the White House. So this is what you are seeing the president get today for opening up this 45-minute meeting.

[14:50:10] BALDWIN: Yes, Lindsey Graham opening up, the first line of his statement he just released, "This was the most fascinating I've been involved with in 20-plus years in politics."

David Drucker, it seems the president seems -- is smitten the word -- sitting between two Democrats there, whether it actually works though, that is another conversation. But that is a great thing.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, the president always like to fashion himself a deal maker. So I think that he is going to be very happy with the visual out of this. Visual are something he's also very interested in when dealing with his presidency. Look, I think the question is where the real negotiations go from here. I think it was very smart for the White House to open up the pool spray and allow this thing to be filmed. Nothing that can change the opinion of voters or control a story simply by allowing the principal, in this case the president, to talk and be himself and do what he does best, outside of a setting where he's tweeting and fighting with people. And given the low expectations for this sort of thing with him, it's going to come off even better. Now we have to sort of shift and see where the real negotiations for dealing with government spending and the DACA kids, now adults, brought here as children by their parents, is going to go. As interesting as this meeting was, and I saw some things in the meeting that were telling about how Trump and Democrats and Republicans all sort of worked together, these are not going to be the real negotiations. Those will happen in private. They'll be a lot of bartering. Democrats and Republicans will have a lot of decisions to make. And we still don't know how this thing is going to end up. BALDWIN: No, I think that's an important point. We said fly on the

wall in negotiations. Let's be real, cameras in the room, politicians are aware of that. Meat and potatoes happen when we can't see that.

But let me turn to my ladies on the right.

Also backing up three steps, the sitting in this room, Republicans and Democrats, because this is all making sure the government doesn't shut down in seven days, not counting the holiday. Democrats are saying have you to do something about the DREAMers. Republicans have been saying border security and we must have a wall. And they have been intransigent on both ends.

To you, Maria Santana, on the fact that the president has been all over the place on what he'll do with DREAMers, how do you think what we saw in that meeting going to sit with DREAMers and their families?

MARIA SANTANA, CNN ESPANOL ANCHOR & COMMENTATOR: It's hard to know. For DREAMers when President Trump talks about heart and love, I don't think they are feeling that lately. Or at all. You know, that he flip-flops so many times on this issue. During the campaign he said he would terminate DACA immediately. Then a few months after taking office, he said this is ha difficult issue for me, I'm going to deal with it with a lot of heart, something will be worked out, they shouldn't worry. Then last November, September, he pulled the rung out from beneath them when he rescinded DACA and told Congress they had six months to figure it out before the protections for these immigrants would go away. So what most recipients of DACA I have spoken to have said and want to tell the president is, you know, it's 800,000 of us, but that's not just a number. We are real people. We can't live in this uncertainty. We are not bargaining chips. Now you can't have DACA unless there is a wall. We have livelihoods and children to look after, some of them U.S. citizens. And for them, it's like waking up every day not knowing if you will be there the next day for your family.

BALDWIN: Which is incredibly difficult for all these folks in this country.

Then on the other side of the coin, Caitlin, you have conservatives, you know, his base who went all those rallies and jumped out of their seats and cheered him for the wall, but now saying I'll take the heat I'll sign what you send me. How is that going to sit with them?

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: When you look at all the issues, you can give him leeway with his base except on the issue of immigration. The base isn't monolithic group. You have Ann Coulter, shouting from the housetops, and you have those who will be with him no matter what. Then you have the Republicans in Congress, particularly, the most conservative members, working on this issue a long time who will be griping about it. That's why this needs to be a bipartisan issue, not only because of that, but because they'll need the Democrats votes.

You bring up a really important point here, too, which is what are is the definition of comprehensive immigration reform? What is the definition of border security? There is a lot of talk broadly today, and I think we are talking about the president embracing some of these ideas. But what does he mean when he's talking about comprehensive immigration reform if he wants to move onto that? Does that mean an endorsement of citizenship? Does that mean an endorsement of that bill that the Senate passed several years ago? We don't know. And I'm sure that will be asked during the briefing today.

[14:55:20] BALDWIN: We'll take a quick break. But I just got handed a piece of paper. I want to read part of it for you on the White House, the White House statement on this immigration meeting, what they call a, quote, "successful bipartisan and bicameral meeting on immigration reform." Sarah Sanders is about to brief reporters shortly. But they do consider it successful. It sounds like any reached -- she says, "They reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms, border security, chain migration, visa lottery and DACA." So let's listen for that.

Stay with me. White House briefing ahead. We'll be right back.



SANDERS: Are you guys finished? Because I can come back. Or I can just pass, and let you go, either way.

Good afternoon, guys.

QUESTION: Afternoon.

SANDERS: As you know, the president spoke at length during the immigration meeting this morning, and answered even a few questions for you, so we're going to keep it a little shorter today here in the briefing.

Let me start by saying congratulations to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, who won the College Football National Championship last night. President had a great time at the game, and needless to say, that was a finish for the ages. I was obviously a little disappointed that the Arkansas Razorbacks weren't in the game, but as I've said many times, the SEC is the best conference, and I was glad to see Alabama and Georgia fighting it out.

As I said, we're going to keep it short, so with that, I will take your questions. Major (ph) ?

QUESTION: Can you help us clarify: when the Democrats came out, they applauded the president for organizing the meeting, but said it was their understanding this would be a two-phase process; DACA first, and then other elements that you outlined in your statement second, and that they perceived January 19, not March 5, as the deadline for action. Can you explain the president's interpretation of the meeting, and that assessment of the Congressional Democrats?

SANDERS: Right. The president just concluded what we felt was a very successful and productive bipartisan and bicameral meeting on immigration reform. During the closed-door session, the leadership agreed to negotiate and narrow the focus to four issues: border security, chain migration, visa lottery and DACA.