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Report: Supreme Court Allows Sports Betting Across Nation; Trump Says Working to Save Jobs in China At ZTE; White House Does Not Think a Jerusalem Embassy Hurts Mideast Peace. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 14, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A major decision of the U.S. Supreme Court Guys. Thanks very, very much. The White House press briefing set to begin any minute now. Stay with us, our live coverage continues.
BRIANNA KEILAR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Brooke Baldwin. The White House press briefing is scheduled to start at any moment. As the Trump administration marks a big milestone in U.S. diplomacy. Today the American embassy officially opened in Jerusalem. It's a controversial move and it has led to deadly protests. The president's son-in-law and senior Mideast advisor, Jared Kushner, says the opening is proof that the president keeps his promises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SON-IN-LAW OF THE PRESIDENT: Today also demonstrates American leadership. By moving our embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world once again that the United States can be trusted. We stand with our friends and our allies, and we have shown that the United States of America will do what's right and so we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: As Jared Kushner hails the White House standing by its word, the president is getting hammered for appearing to back down on U.S. sanctions. President Trump tweeted he wants to help Chinese telecom giant ZTE, it is on the sanctions list for doing business with Iran as well as North Korea. What about the promise from the White House aide who insulted critically ill John McCain. She told McCain's daughter she would publicly apologize. Well, in the end, that is something that has not happened, and the White House has been more upset about leaks rather than what was said in that meeting.
There's much to discuss, as we wait for the briefing to begin. I have with me now, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Dana Bash and CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza. We're going to hear from Raj Shah who is doing the briefing today, he's going to be getting a lot of questions. Let's start with the focus that is going to be on Jerusalem, we've seen the treasury secretary, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner who spoke at the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem. Which used to be in Tel Aviv. He's talking about this being a path forward nor peace. You see something that is contradicting that in Gaza, where there have been dozens of deaths from protesters, some protests have turned violent. You've seen Israeli border guards using live fire. According to the Palestinians, some children, some minors are among those -- the dozens who are dead. This is an image that Raj Shah is going to be confronted with. How does he deal with it?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's as predictable as can you imagine. That protests, and violence would break out as a result of what happened. We were talking before coming on, the question is how is it managed? I think if you look at this big picture right now, it doesn't at least appear to be managed very well both from the Israeli point of view, and maybe more importantly, from the American point of view, because the reason why we have been on the campaign trail with candidate after candidate after candidate, Democrat and Republican vowing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, once they became president it didn't happen. The reason is, it's great campaign rhetoric, at the end of the day, the people in the Middle East who are trying to get to a peace process see it one way and that is, that the United States putting their thumbs on the scale of the Israelis.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: That's exactly right. It's a good issue to Dana's point. It's a good issue to campaign on, it's a very tough issue to make happen as president. Because it's seen not as -- Trump is saying, this is the first step in the peace process, let's get this out of the way, and we can talk about the other things. Traditionally, he's not traditional, but traditionally it's been seen as a final piece of a Middle East peace process. Because it is --
KEILAR: Two other parts?
CILLIZZA: Correct. Because it is so contentious. You've seen the head of the Palestinian Authority speak out against it. There's -- it is predictable, at the same time, Donald Trump, I believe -- at least the people around him understood what this would mean, and they view if as a way to shake up a process that needs shaking up.
BASH: And that's --
CILLIZZA: Whether it works or not.
BASH: That's the other point, the flip side to this, which we should talk about here, for decades and decades American presidents in both parties have been trying to lead the way in this peace process and have failed. All the parties have failed. I'm not saying this is going to work.
KEILAR: He's saying, hey, I did it.
BASH: It's something different. The Trump administration argues that this takes the Jerusalem issue off the table. Of course, other people who disagree with this move say it takes it off the table and it takes the whole peace process off the table along with it, but you never know. This president promised to do things differently, and he's doing it.
[14:05:00] KEILAR: As we await the briefing, Raj Shah is going to be confronted by questions raised, concerns raised. Criticism raised by U.S. allies, you know, France is saying, this violates international law. This violates UN Security Council resolutions, what is he -- how does he confront that?
BASH: Well, maybe he'll point to the two countries in South America.
CILLIZZA: Who are supportive.
BASH: Largely evangelical populations, the only two who have already done what the U.S. has done. International law, you can get to the end of the day on that, and there will be debates for many, many months and maybe even longer on that, at the end of the day, the United States decided to move its own embassy, and it has a lot of support domestically among the president's supporters and domestically among the Israeli leadership.
KEILAR: First, I want to ask you about John McCain. Kelly Sadler, this aide who dismissed John McCain's criticism of Donald Trump's CIA pick. Saying, he's dying anyway. Told Meghan McCain in this phone call, Meghan McCain requested a public apology, and Kelly Sadler said she would do that, and now she hasn't, which makes you -- it's sort of the easy cognitive leap is, it's not her decision about making that public apology. It comes down to what the White House thinks. What do you think about why she has not done this?
CILLIZZA: Shot answer, I don't know. It seems like apologizing is the easiest thing to do. I know it's difficult, but you can -- it's not that hard to say, I'm sorry for this, it was meant as a joke, I should have never joked about it, I'm sorry, the end.
They've now turned it into a thing with this defense over the weekend, you first heard it from Sarah Sanders Friday, you heard it from Mick Mulvaney, which is it essentially, the real problem here is not the sentiment that Kelly Sadler -- it's that it liked. We have a problem with leaking. It's a -- it's bad enough that she felt she -- Kelly Sadler felt comfortable making a joke like this, OK? That says something about the culture in the White House that Donald Trump sets from the top. The fact that this is now being turned into, we're leaking, and we should -- that's not what this is about. It just isn't, and by doing that, you now turn it into a political football. We know Donald Trump doesn't like to apologize, right? He never has.
BASH: That's it.
CILLIZZA: If he says, if we do this, it makes us look weak now, we're not going to do it. Is Kelly Sadler going to say --
BASH: No, the president doesn't apologize. Just a quick anecdote. I covered the McCain 2008 presidential race in Ohio. There was a McCain rally, there was a very popular conservative radio host, who is warming up the crowd, who referred to Obama as Barack Hussein Obama multiple times. That's all he did. What did John McCain do? He denounced it, he repudiated it, he takes responsibility for it, and it will never happen again. You know what happened? McCain got a lot of guff for that from conservatives regretting that he was their nominee. He said he was doing it, because he thought that was right. It shows you the sort of juxtaposition of these two situations.
KEILAR: It is really a difference. We're going to take a quick break, you guys are going to stick around with me, as we await the White House press briefing. It's going to begin any moment now, we're going to bring it to you live.
[14:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: Margot Kidder has died. She had been a staple in movies and television since 1968. She's best known for playing Lois Lane in all four of the Christopher Reeve "Superman" movies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER REEVE, SUPERMAN: Did you have plans this evening?
MARGOT KIDDER, LOIS LANE: Oh. Oh. This old thing, no.
REEVE: It's no trouble if I come back later.
KIDDER: Don't move. Or -- sure, can you move. Just don't fly away, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: She passed away quietly at her home in Montana. Margot Kidder was 69 years old. And joining me now on the phone's film critic, Michael Musto. Michael, most people know her from the "Superman" films, that was an iconic scene we just played. Talk about Margot Kidder's legacy, what is it?
MICHAEL MUSTO, FILM CRITIC: She really was best known as Lois Lane in four "Superman" movies in the 1970s and '80s, and she brought a fierce intelligence and charisma to that role. I can't say anything else in her career rivaled that legacy. But her legacy was being a survivor. She was in a car accident in 1990, she was bankrupt. She was later diagnosed as bipolar, she disappeared for a few days, she kept on going, and I met her a few years ago at an autograph convention, she was every bit as fiercely intelligent and charismatic as I mentioned in her screen roles.
[14:15:00] KEILAR: Michael, at this point we do not know the cause of death, as we understand it, but her family says she did pass away quietly at her home.
MUSTO: Yes, that's apparently the case, she will be missed, her legacy as Lois Lane will live forever, because those movies were classic superhero transformations of comic book material to the screen, which continues with avenger and all the marvel stuff. She was ahead of the curve. Margot was the greatest Lois Lane, I'm thrilled to have met her. She was a terrific movie star, and someone who survived a lot of personal tragedy. KEILAR: She was a survivor, as we say good-bye to Margot Kidder,
we're going to take a quick break. As we await the White House briefing. It is set to begin any moment now, and we will be bringing it to you live.
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: This morning, the President had a call with James Shaw Jr. to commend his heroic actions and quick thinking last month at a Waffle House in Tennessee. Mr. Shaw saved lives when he wrestled a gun from an active shooter who had opened fire.
Lastly, over the weekend, we sadly saw another terrorist attack in central Paris. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with the French people and their government against this vicious act of terrorism, and pledge any assistance needed.
With that, I'll take your questions. John.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Raj, a couple, if I could. At the same time there was a celebratory air in Jerusalem as the U.S. was moving its embassy, in the south of Israel, along the border with Gaza, there was a lot of violence that resulted in more than 41 people losing their lives. Is the President concerned about the demonstrations there and Israel's response to people trying to climb over the fence?
SHAH: Well, we're aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today. The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.
Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response. And as the Secretary of State said, Israel has the right to defend itself.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Also, what's the President's thinking on ZTE? I mean, here is a company that violated U.S. rules regarding doing business with North Korea and Iran. It was, according to the Commerce Department, appropriately sanctioned for that and fined $1.2 billion. You had the heads of six intelligence agencies telling Congress back on February 13th that they wouldn't use ZTE devices because of counterespionage concerns. They also wouldn't recommend that American citizens use ZTE or Huawei devices. So, what's the President's thinking with that tweet over the weekend about wanting to rescue ZTE?
SHAH: Obviously, this is part of a very complex relationship between the United States and China that involves economic issues, national security issues, and the like. And it's an issue of high concern for China that's been raised with the U.S. government and with our administration at various levels. So, the President has asked Secretary Ross to look into it consistent with applicable laws and regulations. Justin.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I guess I wanted to follow on that. Did the President give Secretary Ross any specific instructions on how he wanted that case to go? And when you say that it was "raised," I assume you mean in the context of the ongoing trade discussions between the U.S. and China. So, is there a, sort of, direct linkage there, where China could make a concession on retaliatory tariffs, and so we'd see from the U.S., kind of, easing back on ZTE?
MR. SHAH: Well, he's asked Secretary Ross to look into the matter, again, consistent with applicable laws and regulations. And it's been brought up at a number of levels, you know, as part of bilateral talks on a number of issues. So, I wouldn't restrict it to just the talks that you're referencing.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A follow on that, Raj.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Didn't the Commerce Department make an independent judgment when they decided to issue this sanction against ZTE? So, can you talk about the significance of bringing it up again now? How much does it have to do with the impending summit with North Korea? You know, critics will say that the President wants China's support, needs China's support, and that is why he is now backing off on this sanction against ZTE.
MR. SHAH: It's part of, again, the U.S. relationship with China, which is complex. It has economic factors; it has national security factors. This is just one of many factors. And, again, the President is asking the Secretary of Commerce to look into the matter consistent with laws and regulation. Cecilia.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thanks, Raj. Senator Lindsey Graham said, "I wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that" - what Kelly Sadler said - "was inappropriate," that that's not who we are as a Trump administration. Why not just apologize, so America doesn't think that that is an acceptable way of speaking inside this White House?
SHAH: Well, I understand the focus on this issue, but it's going to be dealt with, and has been dealt with internally. I was told -
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How?
SHAH: Hang on. I was told Kelly Sadler called the McCain family late last week and did apologize. And beyond that, I don't have further comment.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Excuse me, but she - Kelly Sadler told Meghan McCain that she would apologize publicly, and that has not yet happened. Why has that not happened?
MR. SHAH: Well, I wasn't on the call. I was told she made it prior to the story being published, and she apologized for the comment. She apologized directly to the family.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are there any concerns that this White House seems more concerned about the fact that there was a leak than about the content of what was said?
SHAH: Well, I think we're concerned about all sorts of matters, but this is an internal matter, it's being addressed internally. And I don't have anything further to add.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But can you explain how it's being addressed internally?
SHAH: Obviously, if I explain all that, then it won't remain internal.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But she's still employed here at the White House?
MR. SHAH: She is still an employee here at the White House. She came to work today.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why hasn't she publicly apologized, as she told Meghan McCain that she would?
MR. SHAH: She has addressed it with the family directly, and I don't have anything further to add.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK, really quick, Raj - on ZTE, how does the President Trump statement that too many Chinese jobs are at risk square with his campaign promise that China is stealing American jobs?
SHAH: Well, I don't think this has, frankly, any bearing on the President's campaign promises. Let's just look at the overall economic record, right? The President has overseen an economy in which we have the lowest unemployment rate since 2000; it's at 3.9 percent. Over 2 million jobs have been created since this President took office. And with respect to trade with China, he's been tough. Let's put this in a context. I mean, this President has taken China to task for its unfair trade practices. Through this Section 301 investigation, he's introduced and proposed over - or rather, up to $150 billion of tariffs on China for intellectual property theft, dumping, and a range of inimical Chinese economic action.
So, he's been tough, and he's confronted them. But on this issue specifically, he's asked the Secretary of Commerce to take a look at it. Steve.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hi, Raj. The death toll is over 50 in Gaza. Is the U.S. calling on Israel to use restraint in dealing with these protests?
SHAH: Well, we believe that Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths; that their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what's leading to these deaths. And we want them to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, there's no burden on Israel to do something to, sort of, rein it in?
SHAH: No, we think that we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Hamas is the one that, frankly, bear responsibility for the dire situation right now in Gaza.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Lastly, Raj, how does this - the United States had been wanting to put out a peace plan. How does today's situation hurt that?
SHAH: I don't think it hurts the peace plan. The peace plan will be introduced at the appropriate time. But what today is about is following through on what the President promised and believes. And it's also a recognition of reality. I think we've, for decades, walked on eggshells, pretending that Jerusalem isn't the capital of Israel when it obviously is. And this is just a recognition of reality. David.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Raj, there seemed to be some confusion, given the messages on the Sunday news shows from Secretary Pompeo and National Security Bolton about what exactly the U.S. is asking of North Korea. Is the administration's position that the U.S. expects the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Peninsula and of North Korea? Or is the administration willing to accept something short of that?
SHAH: I don't want to get ahead of negotiations, but our policy has been to pursue the complete, irreversible, and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that's going to be the purpose of the June 12th meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And I was wondering also if you could address a little bit the criticism of the President's, sort of, tone with the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, saying that the treated the U.S. detainees excellently. The President's rhetoric has certainly shifted on Kim Jong-un, and I'm wondering if you could explain why, and whether he thinks that, at all, that he is going too far in sort of praising Kim Jong-un.
SHAH: Well, I think the President's rhetoric has reflected Kim Jong- un's actions. I think that Kim Jong-un has stepped forward and made pledges to halt nuclear tests, halt ICBM tests, and now has released these three prisoners. And those are signs of good faith, and we hope to build on that. Peter.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If I can, very quickly, the French Foreign Minister, Raj, said about what's taking place in Gaza - he urged Israeli authorities to exercise discretion and restraint. So, to be clear, does the U.S. not agree with the French that Israeli authorities should exercise discretion and restraint?
SHAH: We believe that Hamas is responsible for what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, there's no responsibility beyond that on the Israeli authorities? Kill at will?
SHAH: What I'm saying is that we believe that Hamas, as an organization, is engaged in cynical action that's leading to these deaths.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Let me ask you if I can, and following up on Kelly Sadler today - Matt Schlapp, whose wife you know - Mercedes Schlapp - works here -
SHAH: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: - is the Head of Strategic Communications - portrayed Kelly Sadler as "a little bit of a victim here." Do you agree that she is a little bit of a victim here? And why?
SHAH: Well, again, the matter is going to be addressed - has been addressed internally. But what I will say is that when you work, in any work environment - you with your colleagues at NBC, or elsewhere - if you don't - if you aren't able, in internal meetings, to speak your mind or convey thoughts or say anything that you feel without feeling like your colleagues will betray you, that creates a very difficult work environment. I think anybody who works anywhere can recognize that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any environment where that - conveying that thought - would be viewed as appropriate?
SHAH: Again, I'm not going to address it any further. It's been -