Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Delivers First State of the Nation Address Tuesday; Democrats Seek to Protect Mueller from Trump; Trump Hits Jay-Z on Black Unemployment After CNN Interview; Senator Rubio Fires Chief of Staff over Improper Conduct; Iranian-American Gets Brief Release from Iran Prison; Trump's Female Base Holds Despite Porn Star Allegations; #MeToo Movement Hits Grammys Red Carpet. Aired 3-4pm ET
Aired January 28, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:30] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, hello again and thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, in just two days in what could be one of the biggest moments of his presidency, President Trump will deliver his very first State of the Union Address. Will he play to his base, or will he try to bridge the country's divide? At the top of the priority list, we understand immigration. The President plans to pitch his controversial plan.
Let's go straight to CNN's Boris Sanchez live at the White House. So Boris, what more can we expect from the President?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Freda, a White House official telling CNN that this is going to be an optimistic speech. The main thing -- the main theme, I should say, is going to be building a safer, stronger, prouder America. The President is actually expected to try to appeal to people that naturally aren't in his base, and he's going to do that by touting some of his successes, specifically in the booming economy.
He is going to talk about the growing stock market, dwindling unemployment numbers, and then transition to talking about the future. The President is expected to ask Congress for about a trillion dollars for his infrastructure plan. And then the most critical part of his speech coming at a crucial time in the debate over immigration reform, the President is going to try to sell his vision of immigration reform in exchange for allowing a pathway to citizenship to some 2 million undocumented immigrants. The President is going to ask for $25 billion in spending to build his long-promised border wall.
The White House has been essentially setting the stage for the debate over his plan. It doesn't have a whole lot of support from Republicans, but it has been something that Democrats have said is a non-starter in part because of adjustments that the White House is trying to make to illegal immigration. Marc Short, the Director of Legislative Affairs at the White House, was on the Sunday morning talk shows today, essentially saying that the President has conceded when it comes to allowing DREAMers those 2 million or so -- or rather, 800,000 or so young adults that were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the United States. He wants to see Democrats come up with concessions of their own.
Here is Marc Short on one of the Sunday morning talk shows today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think that the President made enormous appeal and showed enormous leadership in putting forward a plan to resolve the DACA situation, an issue that has plagued our country for decades. And yet the outcry from Democrats when he went I further than many people thought he would in providing not just permanent residence but also a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people to live in this country and yet so far Democrats have continued to cry that they don't want to solve the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now, Freda, this is all what's on paper on the script. As we've heard from President Trump before, he tends to go off the cuff, and that could potentially mean that he might talk about all kinds of distractions that have been surrounding the White House and his administration, whether the Russia investigation or the resignation of Steve Wynn as the Financial Chairman of the RNC. It's unclear, but White House officials tell us that the President will speak from the heart. We'll see what that means on Tuesday, Freda.
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez. Thanks so much.
All right, senators on both sides of the aisle said today said today on CNN, they are optimistic that Congress can reach a deal on immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MANCHIN (D), SENATOR, WEST VIRGINIA: We have the wall. We need to repair the wall. We need to build more mall. We need to do whatever we can to secure the borders. We had $42 million of expenditures to secure America with that piece of legislation in 2013 but also there was a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people.
Now, if you want to go big, that's big. If you're going to go medium or you're going to go small, you got to decide, you can't have big on one end of it and then also medium or small on the other end. I think that's what we're trying to figure out. And I'll work with Susan Collins, our Common Sense Coalition, I think, is going to be the grounding, if you will, of what will pass or what can move through the Senate. We're going to meet Monday night and start over again trying to find that commonality that we've been able to do, and there is no way that anyone should be considering any more of a shutdown, even talking the nonsense of a shutdown. Let's get down to business and fix it. And we can do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN COLLINS (D), SENATOR, MAINE: We're going to be meeting this week, our Common Sense Coalition, to take a look at the four pillars that the White House has put out there. I think all of us realize that it's going to take a compromise on this issue for us to get something done and to protect the DREAMer population, which is certainly a goal of mine. But I think the President is also right about border security that we do need to beef up our border security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:05:14] WHITFIELD: All right, joining me to discuss this now, Alice Stewart, a CNN Political Commentator and the Republican Strategist Jim Kessler a Democratic Strategist, and a Former Legislative Policy Director for Senator Chuck Schumer. Good to see you both.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Fred.
JIM KESSLER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Alice you first, you know, does it look like there could be a deal or another delay?
STEWART: I would like to think we're on our way to a deal. I think both sides learned a lot with the shutdown that you can't just wad up your fists and not give. And I think Senator Manchin was very right. We need to -- both sides need to concede in this very important debate. I think the White House has been very clear at what they need on this if we're going to provide provisions for DREAMers. That is something they are for, but we have to make sure we secure the border, we have to do away with chain migration and first the visa lottery program. They are very clear on that, and I think once the Democrats realize that, we're on our road to seeing some type of deal with regard to immigration.
WHITFIELD: So, Jim, the hang-ups are all in the compromise, right? Because one side says we're not going to compromise on the wall, and the other side might say we're not going to compromise on these DREAMers and a path to citizenship. So do you have hope that there will be common ground found before that February 8th deadline? Or the March deadline?
KESSLER: I have hope. I think it's more the March deadline. I've had hope before and it's been dashed. This is my experience in these types of negotiations. I think Joe Manchin got it right. You can go small, you can go medium, or you can go large, but it has to be reciprocated on the other side. So a DACA agreement that's 1.8 million people that there is a path to citizenship for them, that's kind of somewhere in the medium to small category, so on the side where Democrats are going to give on the wall and those sorts of things, chain migration, family visas, it's got to be commensurate there. You're not going to be able to get everything that the President wants on a security wish list and his reform wish list dealing with 1.8 million out of 11 million of the problem. So they need to be sort of on like common denominators using the math term in order to get a deal.
WHITFIELD: All right, the President State of the Union Address just two days away that's going to happen as the President deals with the fallout of a reports that tried to fire special Counsel Mueller last June. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is actually is on board with some legislation to protect Mueller. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SENATOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: I will do whatever it takes to make sure that Mr. Mueller can do his job. We're a rule of law nation before President Trump. We're going to be a rule of law nation after President Trump. I haven't yet seen any evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russians, but the investigation needs to go forward without political interference. We're not going to stop looking at the President because he claims the New York Times is fake news, and we're not going to convict him based on a news article.
As a matter of fact, I think Mr. Mueller is the perfect guy to get to the bottom of all this, and he will. And I think my job, among others, is to give him the space to do it and I intend to do that. And I've got legislation protecting Mr. Mueller, and I'll be glad to pass it tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: And Alice, Senator Graham also said that, you know, he thought that Don McGahn did the right thing and Trump should be listening to him in terms of not carrying through on the firing. But then it brings us to Congress and an agreement on whether they will pass some sort of bill to protect Mueller. Do you see it happening, Alice?
STEWART: Freda, it's sad that we have to get to this point but we may have to get to that point. I think Mueller should be protected. I don't think there should be any outside influences to try and seek his removal. Look, a few things. I think the administration, specifically the President, is wrong to call this Russia investigation a hoax. I think it's wrong to call it a witch hunt. I think it's wrong for him to call this very well-sourced story about asking to fire Mueller as fake news.
But at the same time, we have to keep in mind it didn't happen. He sought advice from his legal counsel. His attorneys told him that's a bad idea, don't do it, and he didn't do it. So I think we need to keep in mind while this is a very important topic, it didn't happen. So I think we need to just turn the page and move on to the next phase of this and let Mueller do his job, not jump to conclusions and let's wait and see what Mueller has to say at the end of this.
WHITFIELD: At the same time, Jim, perhaps there was some thinking that, yes, the President -- or Mueller wouldn't need any added protection because the President didn't carry through with it. He has said that, you know, he wants to fully cooperate. He has been asked directly many times, are you going to fire Mueller and he says no. But then when just a few days ago in Davos he called it fake news and that brings, you know, people back to this worry that maybe in the back of his mind he will find a way in which to get rid of Mueller.
[15:10:18] KESSLER: Right. So his word is not really that --
KESSLER: -- reliable on this or on a lot of things. And I think two things have to happen here. One is Lindsey Graham is absolutely right, there should be legislation to protect Mueller.
Will it pass or not? Look, it's hard to pass the naming of a post office in this Congress, so something else needs to happen, too. And this can be done privately and maybe it's already happened. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan need to communicate to the President and to the chief of staff over there that the firing of Mueller would start impeachment offense movement in Congress.
WHITFIELD: Jim, what makes you feel like they haven't already?
KESSLER: I don't know whether they have or have not. There has been no indication that they've had that conversation. But that conversation needs to occur because the firing of Mueller would be a constitutional crisis for this country. The President needs to know that he does not have the support of Republican leadership if he does that, because, frankly, Republican leadership has been playing footsie. Sometimes they're enablers of the President and sometimes they're warning him. This needs to be a clear red line. It needs to happen at least privately. It would be best if it happened publicly.
WHITFIELD: Speaking of Davos and the President, he also sat down with former CNN colleague Piers Morgan. And according to a tweet from Morgan saying this, "President Trump has declared he is not a feminist. He tells me no, I wouldn't say I'm a feminist. I mean, I think that would be maybe going too far. I'm for women, I'm for men, I'm for everyone." Alice, what do you make of that?
STEWART: Well, I completely can hear the President saying exactly that. There are a lot of people that may beg to differ on that. Look, I think you can say this about the President.
He is an equal opportunity offender. When he wants to criticize someone, he doesn't care if it's a man, woman, or what. When he wants to -- when something is on his mind, he will say it. So I think people are try to paint him in a corner as being anti-this or anti- that, they need to keep in mind he is a man who means what he says and says what he means when he feels a certain way about someone and he doesn't hold back. So I think trying to paint him in a corner on this issue, I think is a mistake.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jim, do you want to chime in really quick?
KESSLER: I am stunned that Donald Trump doesn't think that he is a feminist. His career -- he's a serial adulterer. And, you know, possibly he's sleeping with porn stars and paying them off. So at least that was a moment of truth and honesty and clarity from the President. I support him, I believe him on that.
WHITFIELD: Ouch. All right, Jim Kessler, Alice Stewart, we'll leave it right there. Thanks so much.
STEWART: Thanks Fred.
KESSLER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right, so as the President looks ahead to the State of the Union in just two days now, his attention is also focused on rapper Jay-Z and comments he made during Van Jones' new show which premiered last night on CNN. Trump tweeting this morning, "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be the lowest rate ever recorded." All right, so what set the President off? Well, take a listen and a look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: He is somebody who's now saying, look, I'm growing -- I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration. Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service but no jobs? Maybe he's going to say terrible things but put money in our pocket. Does that make him a good leader?
JAY-Z, RAPPER & BUSINESS MOGUL: No, because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to like happiness, it doesn't because that's not missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings and then, you know, that's the main point. You can't treat someone like -- yes it goes back to the whole thing. You're going to treat me really bad and pay me well.
JONES: Right. Yes that's --
CARTER: It's not going to lead to happiness, it's going to lead to like, you know, again the same thing. Everyone is going to be sick.
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now, the man of the hour, CNN Political Commentator, and host of "The Van Jones Show," Van Jones.
OK. Well, congratulations on the show. Congratulations on the headlines, and of course now the highly anticipated what's next on your next show. All right, do you feel like -- as a result of the President's tweet, he misses the point of what was central to the conversation?
[15:15:00] JONES: Yes. I thought it was -- you know, obviously it's good to get attention for the show, but really, he totally missed the point. I mean, Jay-Z last night was stunning. He was confessional. You know, usually hip-hop you think braggadocios and accusatory.
He was the opposite of that. He was confessional, he was humble, he talked about of his struggles with his marriage, he talked about his children. And he really set the kind of example I wish the President would set. The President is now the guy who's braggadocios, accusatory, never confesses to anything, never shows any public girl. Meanwhile, Jay-Z is just growing and growing in front of public guy.
And part of what he talked about which I think really set Donald Trump off. He talked about the racism in the country. And he talked about how -- in a very interesting way, he talked about how the fact that we keep pushing it under the rug, you know, when somebody says something racist then we just smack him down and we push him out of public life. It's making it worse. They're actually making the viral report.
WHITFIELD: Systemic racism.
JONES: Yes. And so -- but then he said that we've now pushed it under the rug so much that it's now come back as a super bug of racism, Donald Trump. So he called Donald Trump a super bug of racism, and then I challenge, if they're doing something good. And then he pointed out just having little bit more money in the economy doesn't count if you're treating people badly.
It was a profound interview. It was thoughtful, it was substantive. And for the President, who really didn't, you know, they didn't even watch it, for him just to fire off something I think was disrespectful of an icon in this community.
WHITFIELD: You got a feeling that the President did not watch the show in its entirety, or see the message in its entirety. That perhaps he got a snippet of it elsewhere, you know, sees upon that, misses the whole point about numbers versus quality in which you make reference to people, in which you treat people --
JONES: Yes, respect and dignity.
WHITFIELD: -- and that was the underlying message. That was that the nucleus of the message that Jay-Z was making.
JONES: And what so interesting about this President is he could actually -- and it sounds crazy just to say this. He could actually learn from Jay-Z. Jay-Z is a very rich person, a successful person, he's a businessperson.
WHITFIELD: A fellow New Yorker.
JONES: A fellow New Yorker, but he's had one marriage, and he has fought for that marriage. And he talked -- And he was -- I mean he was just unbelievable last night talking about, this is my soul mate. I'm fighting for this marriage.
Donald Trump has had three marriages. I have never heard Donald Trump referred to the first lady as his soul mate, and if he did, I'm not sure what people would say about that.
Also Donald Trump likes to fights with people, like black rappers, like football players, like FBI agents, like journalists. But he's yet to pick a fight with these Russians who messed up our election. He's yet to pick a fight with these white supremacist terrorist organizations that are growing by lips and bouncing killing people in America.
And so why do you continue to pick on certain kinds of people if you want to be a tough guy and leave others alone. I would say that if I were a father, and I am, I would rather have my kid follow the example of Jay-Z, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. Mistakes he has made and he's confessed too and improved his life that based his life on someone like Donald Trump who makes the mistakes over and over again and never improves.
WHITFIELD: And that's really interesting, because, you know, the President of the United States is to be a leader of morality in this nation. And usually, customarily, people in this nation would want their children to watch a President in United States emulate, aspire to be, and it's interesting that the message, whether it be in the content of your show last night with Jay-Z, you know, or even you making the parallel about, you know, being a dad that you're hearing more and more parents who are saying, you know, I've got the volume down on the television set because I don't want my kids to hear what the --
WHITFIELD: -- President might say spontaneously or that this is not the president that I want my child to look at as a model citizen. That is striking.
JONE: And, you know, part of the reason that we created the Van Jones show when, you know, it's going to be every other weekend, is that we wanted to try to have a deeper conversation, a richer conversation, a more reflective conversation. And I wanted to start with Jay-Z, because his album "4:44" which by the way tonight is being nominated for eight Grammies. The guy already has 21 Grammies, Beyonce, his wife has 22 Grammies. I think they have a house that filled out of Grammies.
WHITFIELD: Right, incredible timing on so many levels.
JONES: Yes. Yes, exactly. So tonight, you know, he's getting ready to go possibly pick up eight Grammies. But the album, the "4:44" album is totally different than normal hip-hop in that he is confessing to mistakes he's made. He's talking about investing in collector art and real estate as a way to have intergenerational wealth for black families. He's not talking about shooting people, stuff like that, he is doing something really extraordinary, being a path breaker and then he gets jumped on by the President of the United States, who didn't even do him the courtesy of listening to the full interview, apparently.
[15:20:02] This is what's wrong. We talk about each other but we don't listen to each other. We talk about each other but we don't listen to each other.
Part of the reason why we want to have the show beyond that last night on the show we also went to Charlottesville, Virginia and we had Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, black and white together, driving past the confederate monuments, driving past where Heather Heyer was murdered and talking to each other. That's going to be the way for it. And Jay-Z, Shawn Carter is doing a better job of getting us to a confessional, honest place than the President of the United States.
WHITFIELD: So your show right now, slated twice a month. Perhaps you haven't lined up fall on your guests for the next, but you never know, maybe this is an extension of an invitation of the President of the United States to perhaps help answer some of those questions --
JONES: I'd love to have them on.
WHITFIELD: -- create new dialogs.
JONES: I'd love to have them on. Absolutely.
WHITFIELD: OK. And we'll produce on the size what I do to. All right.
JONES: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Van Jones good to see you. Congratulations. Appreciate it.
JONES: Thank you. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, next, Senator Marco Rubio fires his Chief of Staff over improper conduct with a subordinate details on the allegations and the timing behind the allegations. And Will Ferrell he is back dusting his off George W. impression last night.
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR, COMEDIAN, PRODUCER, & WRITER: So I get why you don't like this current guy. I voted for Jill Stein all the way. But please do not look back at my presidency and think, this is how we do it.
[15:25:53] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Senator Marco Rubio taking quick action to fire his chief of staff over what he called improper conduct with a subordinate. The employee wasn't mentioned by name, but Rubio's chief has been identified as Clint Reed. In a statement Rubio said became aware of the allegations for the first time on Friday. By Saturday afternoon, Rubio had fired the chief of staff, saying he had sufficient evidence that the staffer violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates.
Joining me right now to discuss this, Alice Stewart is back, CNN Political Commentator and Former Communications Director for Senator Ted Cruz, and Jim Kessler also back, a Former Legislative Policy Director for Senator Chuck Schumer.
All right, so Alice, you first. You know, Rubio didn't waste any time dealing with this after being told about it, you know, on Friday and then now we already see a chief of staff removed. So what kind of message is this sending to his perhaps congressional colleagues?
STEWART: I think it sends the right message that we have to draw the line. And when you hear of something like this, you have to take swift and decisive action. Let me say this, Freda. I know Clint Reed. I've known him for more than a dozen years from living and working in Arkansas. We've worked on a Senate campaign together.
To me he was always respectful. But look, he is driven, he is hard- working, and some view him as extremely aggressive. In this case we have a subordinate in Rubio's office that found him to be engaging in improper conduct.
And I think that has to be the final straw. And more than anything, we should commend Senator Rubio for listening to this woman, hearing her out, investigating this matter, and taking action. I think this should serve as the poster child case for how to deal with these type of allegations and following through, and the MeToo movement clearly is making an impact on the hill.
WHITFIELD: So, Jim, you know, this termination that comes during, you know, this growing MeToo movement, but in Rubio's statement, he didn't mention his chief of staff by name. Why do you suppose that is?
KESSLER: I don't know, because you can just go on line and say, chief of staff Marco Rubio and there's the name. I don't understand why people do that, but I think Marco Rubio did the right thing.
The situation on the Hill, this MeToo moment on Capitol Hill, I think we're in the third inning of a nine-inning game. Like there's going to be a lot more that comes out. This has always been a place in which the rules have sort of been set by their own offices.
It used to be known the Hill is the last plantation. So I think we're going to be hearing more things about it. It's unfortunate but it needs to come out, it needs to change, and I think it will.
WHITFIELD: And so Alice, this situation also comes just a few days after it's been publicized that during Hillary Clinton's 2008 run for the White House that she chose not to fire a senior adviser, Burns Strider, over accusations of sexual harassment. So is this a Republican, you know, seizing on an opportunity to show, this is how we do it?
STEWART: Look, I think people on both sides of the aisle see this for what it is. Hillary Clinton never did have a voice in the MeToo movement and never will. Here we have these allegations back 10 years ago, and virtually the man who perpetrated these actions got a slap on the wrist, and the victim of this got reassigned to another job.
That's not how you handle these kinds of things. You get rid of the man and you keep the woman doing what she probably loved doing. And I think for Hillary Clinton to claim that she carries the mantel for fighting for women and women's rights and all she said on this case she was dismayed about this and women deserved to be heard.
Well, clearly that doesn't apply to the litany of women who have made these allegations against her husband whether they're talking about Kathleen Willey or Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky who Hillary Clinton claim was a narcissistic Loony Toon. She has degraded women who have made these claims.
[15:30:10] And I think its nothing else she has proven yet again in this case that she is enabler to sexual harassment as opposed to someone who really takes a stand.
WHITFIELD: At the same time, Jim, is it an issue of it should not be made of a partisan or even that another argument is, different time, different place, completely different circumstances?
KESSLER: So let's separate a couple things here. This is an equal opportunity problem in this country. This is not a Democratic problem or Republican problem. It's throughout this cancer of sexual harassment in politics, it's throughout both parties. That's number one.
Number two, Hillary Clinton didn't handle this right. Three wrongs don't make a right. She didn't handle it correctly in 2008, 2016, and her statement last week on this where she kind of, you know, sort of rah-rahed and sort of self-congratulatory, I thought it was tone deaf here.
This is a different time. We are handling things differently. That is a very good thing. We need to move into the 21st Century on this.
I do not think this is the last but I do not think Hillary Clinton is an enabler. She had to deal with misbehaving men all her life. She hasn't handled every situation well. She's not the one that's, you know, rubbing people shoulders and kissing people on the forehead so. But she didn't handle this well.
WHITFELD: All right. We'll leave right there. Thanks to both of you. Jim Kessler, Alice Stewart I appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks Fred.
KESSLER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. And a reminder, stay with CNN for the President's First State of the Union this Tuesday. Our live coverage kicks off at 5:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. We'll be right back.
[15:36:16] WHITFIELD: All right, this breaking news, an Iranian- American businessman who has been held imprison in Iran for almost two years now, has now been given a four-day release after falling ill. I want to bring in CNN Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott. So Elise what are the conditions of his release?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we've heard about the case of Baquer Namazi who was sentenced in October 2016 to 10 years for cooperating with hostel government and that kind of cooled word for spying on Iran with the United States. Now he's been in poor health for a very long time. In September he underwent emergency surgery in Iran to put a pacemaker in.
He has very bad health problems, and in recent weeks, he's been complaining of poor health, bad blood pressure, irregular heartbeat. He was rushed to the hospital last week. He's been discharged today and now, after intervention between the United States and other third- party countries, the United Nations, the Iranian government has given him a four-day reprieve. He is resting home comfortably with his family before he is to return back to prison in four days.
Obviously the State Department, the White House is trying to make this a permanent situation. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert is calling on the Iranian government to release him and his son Siamak Namazi who's also in prison.
WHITFIELD: So what more can you tell us about his son?
LABOTT: Well, Siamak Namazi was actually the first one that was arrested, his father Baquer was arrested later. This family has -- is Iranian-American, that had a lot of connections in -- business connections in Iran and so his son was still in prison also subject to 10 years in prison. They're about a year and a half into that.
And so the State Department is calling on the Iranian government to release both of them, saying that they've done nothing wrong, Fred, but seriously the case of Baquer Namazi very serious. When he was sentenced and President Trump was running as a candidate, he said that that -- he tweeted that that would never happen when he was president. And so, you know, we understand that the White House has taken a particular interest in this case, especially in the wake of Otto Warmbier that young man that was held in detention in North Korea, was in a coma and then was died and was sent home. So obviously neither the U.S. government nor the Iranian government want another Otto Warmbier on their hands. Fred, a very serious case.
WHITFIELD: Very serious. All right, they say the one were able to go home to his wife but we'll see how this next four days of course goes and what happens after that. Elise Labott, thank you so much.
All right, still ahead, why reports of an alleged affair with a porn star doesn't seem to trouble Trump's female supporters. We actually sit down with a group of them, next.
[15:43:23] WHITFIELD: All right, between the rollout of a new immigration framework and his first state of the union address this week will be a monumental one for the President also happening this week. Stormy Daniels, sitting down with Jimmy Kimmel on her claims that she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Well, Kimmel announced her upcoming segment which will air right after the State of the Union on Tuesday.
The allegations of an affair which have engulfed the White House at a time when the President tries to push his agenda forward have garnered a mixed reaction across Washington. But for his base, many are not so troubled.
Our Randy Kaye sat down with some conservative women to find out why they are standing by him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just speak the truth and speak our hearts regarding our precious President.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year into his presidency and these Dallas women are still thanking God for Donald Trump.
LINDA CHURCHWELL, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I know that God is the one who ordained him to be in this position.
KAYE: Linda Churchwell and these other ladies all voted Trump. They like his conservative beliefs.
CHURCHWELL: He was appointed a conservative SCOTUS. He has stood up for the pro-life. He does stand up for the freedom of religion and the freedom of churches.
KAYE (on camera): Does that wife display claimant for you?
CHURCHWELL: Whenever anyone accepts Christ in their heart and life and asks for forgiveness of their sins and makes them Lord, everybody's life is wiped clean.
KAYE (voice-over): So it's no surprise this group couldn't care less about Trump's alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels back in 2006.
[15:45:01] KAYE (on camera): Do you care if your president had an affair before he was president?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not it's before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His base doesn't care about that. We care about jobs, we care about the economy, safety, and that's what we care about. It's not relevant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter because that's what Christianity is about. It's all about forgiveness, it's about new beginnings, it's about starting over. So it is irrelevant to me about what he did in 2006.
KAYE: Do you all look to your faith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
KAYE (voice-over): They agree with evangelical leader Tony Perkins that as long as Trump keeps pushing forward his conservative agenda, he deserves a pass, or a "mulligan," as they Perkins puts it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole concept is mercy and grace. That's what Christianity is about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what those preachers and pastors represent, grace. It's the use the word Mulligan for that.
KAYE: So a mulligan is grace.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were using sport. I've never really heard that term before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Randi, we all have gotten a mulligan because of Christ Jesus. And so that's the bottom line.
KAYE (voice-over): And these women also agree with Reverend Franklin Graham, who says Donald Trump is a changed man.
PEACHES MCGUIRE COATES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: This man, who is a successful businessman, did not have those people praying for him daily like he does now. He has transformed even in the year that we have seen him from a brash New York person to the president that we are proud of today.
DENA MILLER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: And I think we're all different people today than we were in 2006. He's a father, he's a grandfather. When you have children, the way you look at the world changes.
KAYE (on camera): But when you look at evangelical Christianity, you know, it's about family, it's about being faithful, and yet this doesn't seem to bother any of you.
GINA O'BRIANT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: You know what bothers me are these stories that detract from all the good things he's doing for the American people. Instead of hearing that, we're hearing all news from someone that's not really that credible, from a stripper porn star.
COATES: You know, he's doing the best job that we've ever seen for a president. And I can stand proud as an American again.
KAYE (voice-over): Among this group of Christian women, at least, Donald Trump can do no wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think -- KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Dallas.
WHITFIELD: All right, the music industry is gearing up for its biggest party of the year, and the MeToo movement is expected to show up in force as well. We're live on the red carpet.
[15:51:50] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. So it's known as music's biggest night. But tonight's 60th annual Grammy Awards may be about more than just the music. Some of the tonight's Grammy artists will wear white roses to show their support for the MeToo and Time's Up campaigns against sexual misconduct and gender inequality.
CNN Entertainment Reporter Chloe Melas is joining me now and a gorgeous emerald green. Chloe, good to see you. So who can we expect to be wearing the white roses tonight?
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hi, Fred. Well, as you see, I'm here on the red carpet at Madison Square Garden. It's back after 15 years. And we're seeing a lot of people wearing red roses -- white roses tonight.
You know, it's all in support of the MeToo movement and Time's Up initiative. This is a big night for female performers. We have Kesha, Lady Gaga, Pink, Miley Cyrus will be taking the stage with Elton John who I sat down with earlier this week and he told me that she's fiery and everybody should be really excited for this performance. But it's about female empowerment. And the people I've spoken to so far tonight, Fred, have all said they are in support of this movement and that it is about time.
WHITFIELD: And so is there a way to kind of look into, you know, that the crystal ball and so whether likely to be kind of the big moments. Is it particular performances or, you know, those who are going to be speaking or what?
MELAS: Exactly. Well, there's so much to look forward to tonight. But obviously, James Corden is back as host again of the Grammies. And you can imagine that he's most likely going to get political right at the top for the show in his monologue. Probably a little car pool karaoke in there too.
But, you know, this is a really big night for diversity. This is the first year since 1999, Fred, if you can believe it, that there are no white male nominees in the best album category and Jay-Z leading the way with eight nominations. He's already 121 Grammies so, but he might win a few more, a big night for him tonight.
Kendrick Lamar has seven nominations. You know, this is a huge night also for Despacito, the song that I cannot get out of my head. It could make Grammy history as the first Spanish language song to win record of the year. So a lot is happening for the Grammies tonight in the way of diversity because people have criticized them in the past for not being in touch with what people really want and people are really listening to.
WHITFIELD: OK. So many eyes will be on it this evening and there on the red carpet. All right, Chloe Melas, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
All right, Comedian Will Ferrell returned to "Saturday Night Live" last night reprising his role of former President George W. And he had a message for everyone wishing he was still in office.
FERRELL: According to a new pool, my approval rating is at an all- time high. That's right Donald Q. Trump came in and suddenly I'm looking pretty sweet by comparison. At this rate, I might even end up on Mount Rushmore right next to Washington, Lincoln and I want to say Kensington.
[15:55:02] I don't know. But the point is I'm suddenly popular A.F. And a lot of people are saying, man, I wish George W. Bush was still our president right about now. So I just wanted to address my fellow Americans tonight and remind you guys that I was really bad.
WHITFIELD: So Will Ferrell is so good. All right, we've got so much more straight ahead in the newsroom. Stay with us.
[16:00:12] WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again and welcome this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.