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CNN NEWSROOM

Paul Ryan Helped Avoid Tragedies while Working with Trump; Manafort's Lawyers Cross-Examine Rick Gates at Trial; Exploding Wildfires Becomes Largest Ever in California; Spike Lee Hopes New Movie Makes Trump a One Term President. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: -- all the time. Condemning the President's conduct --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Does he get that look?

LOWRY: -- and that will destroy me. The party -- my party will no longer support me, and the President will be exactly the same the way he was yesterday and the day before, nothing will change. Except for I will no longer have any influence and no longer have any ability to advance policy goals that I supported my entire career. So, is that a compromise? Yes, it is. But is it practical and the only way forward for people elected officials in this position? Yes.

BALDWIN: Do you agree?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think that both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and everyone else has concluded that, you know, falling into this trap of answering questions about the President everyday only suits the media's purpose and not their purpose. And their purpose is to govern. They cannot govern if they have a broken relationship with the President, so they've chosen to forge as good a relationship as they can. Seeing this comment though, also tells me Paul Ryan's got -- is like a genius book marketer. Because now when he leaves office and he writes his book and memoirs about being the speaker, everybody's going to turn to the chapter called tragedy, tragedy, tragedy.

LOWRY: We'll come back and discuss the chapter with you.

BALDWIN: OK, OK. You don't think he's just leaving and you know, 48, and going back home to watch his children grow older, maybe he has other --

LOWRY: He'll be back.

BALDWIN: He'll be back. He also said that Trump just wants to troll, his word, and see heads explode by floating the idea of a second Putin summit. Do you think that that's naive?

JENNINGS: No, I think he frequently floats things to cause 24-hour freak-outs and I think gets great amusement out of it. I do think he is also someone who reflexively wants to do what everyone says he shouldn't do. Don't do that. Well I'm going to do that because I can. I think that's probably some of that going on here. But oh yes, I think time and again this White House, this President has figured out how to send the news cycle, the 24-hour cycle into a frenzy, whether that is strategic in nature or just for their own personal amusement I think depends on the day.

LOWRY: I think he gets bored when the news cycle isn't exploding.

BALDWIN: He likes things to go fast.

LOWRY: He wants to blow it up, yes.

BALDWIN: Rosy O'Donnell. Rosie O'Donnell last night she led this protest at the White House and here's what she said on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O'DONNELL, COMEDIENNE, ACTRESS: I believe that Trump is loathed in America, but people are embarrassed and ashamed of who he is. And that come election day we are going to stand up at the polls and let him know. And unless he goes in and has the Russians kind of fix it like he did last time in 2016, you know, we're going to see him gone. And that's what I'm waiting and hoping for. And hoping that people across the country are inspired to use their own voice in whatever way to get people to know that this country is worth fighting for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Quick reactions.

LOWRY: This is someone speaking from so deeply in the liberal bubble, I'm surprised we can even hear her voice. The idea that the Russians literally fixed the 2016 election and if Democrats take the House that Trump will disappear and be gone. There's a complete liberal fantasy and you can only believe that if you have no interaction with Americans who disagree with you.

JENNINGS: The entire Cuomo interview -- I tweeted out a clip from it today and I'm going to tweet out clips from it between now and election day. Because the more she talks, the better Republicans are going to do. Some of the things she said last night are so outrageous that it will only serve to generate more Republican turnout if more people see it. So, keep talking, Rosie, we're for it.

BALDWIN: All right. Thank you so much.

LOWRY: Thanks a lot.

BALDWIN: Thank you both. Coming up next, more than 14,000 firefighters working tirelessly to try to put an end to more than a dozen wild fires, including what is now officially the biggest in the state's history. We'll talk live to someone who knows what battling firefighters is like. The lone survivor of the hot shot crew where 19 of his fellow brethren firefighters were killed in that Yarnell fire in Arizona five years ago.

Also, ahead breaking news in that Paul Manafort trial. Rick Gates still on the stand. Now it's the defense's turn to ask the questions. Cross-examination is now under way. We are outside the courthouse with the very latest. You're watching CNN.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: One firefighter says he doesn't know when he will see his family again. He says some nights they sleep sitting up right as the flames spread right outside their truck. And now a section of those flames has become the biggest ever in the history of California. This is happening in northern California, on top of the 15 other wild fires burning right now.

So, let me just show you this map. This so-called Mendocino Complex fire is the largest. It's two fires combined into one, nearly 300,000 acres scorched, and it has doubled in size in just a couple of days. On the front line, 14,000 firefighters. Day after day, night after night these men and women have been tirelessly battling these dangerous fires.

And someone who knows exactly what they are going through and what's at stake is former firefighter Brendan McDonough. Back in the 2013 during the Yarnell Hill fire in Phoenix, he lost all 19 of his friends and fellow firefighters. They were like his family. And so, he is the sole survivor of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew. And he is good enough to join me right now. Brendan, thank you so much for being with us. And thank you so much just for your service and your sacrifice. You know, in the state of Arizona. Can you just first help our viewers understand the magnitude of being on the ground and fighting a fire like this?

BRENDAN MCDONOUGH, FORMER YARNELL FIREMEN: I think the best way we can describe it is the news has done a great job of giving insight of what these fires are looking like.

[15:40:00] But to understand what the men and women are actually carrying, what their weighing. You know, that's a 45-pound pack, that's chain saws, tools, and they're working, you know, 16 plus hour shifts weeks at a time, like you had said. And so, the work is grueling. And the time frame and the pace that they're carrying it's at a high rate and they're just asked to do a lot. And they're continuing to show up and continuing to do the job that they're called to do. I just really commend them for everything they're doing right now. Lot of these men have been doing since March. They started fighting fires in March. And so, here we are in August and there's kind of no end to the sight of the season so far.

BALDWIN: What is it like when you're going out to fight such a massive fire and you don't know when you'll see your family again?

MCDONOUGH: It's tough. It's tough. You know, it's definitely a motivating factor to put in the work and put in the effort. For me personally when I was out on the line, I would think of the families that were impacted by this and I would remember why we're out here. There's a bigger purpose than just myself. Every moment that you do get to talk to your family, you do get to talk to your children you really cherish and take the time to be able to do that. I remember there were nights where I had opportunities to read my

daughter a book, I'd carry children's books with me, so I could read to her. I know a lot of moms and dads that are out there right now are really going through kind of the ringer this gauntlet of doing this since March. And kind of going back and forth and being pushed to the limit. Just having every opportunity that they can, they take to spend with their family when they do go home and do have a minute to talk. It's pretty tough. But we keep on our minds, you know, the bigger purpose and that's helping our communities. It needs to be done. And so, I really commend those that are out there right now making that sacrifice.

BALDWIN: It's incredible thinking of you or anyone carrying children's books to the line, you know, just to have on the phone and read them to your kids back home. What so far, we know that these fires have claimed two firefighters and I know that's a loss you know deeply. How do you mourn the loss of a family member yet keep going back to this dangerous work?

MCDONOUGH: So, we've actually lost a handful of firefighters recently. We lost a captain on a hot shot crew. We lost two dozer bosses and a firefighter from Redding department as well. And it's really difficult. It's a tough time. You know, the bonds that are created out there, bonded over a period of hard work and grueling work and it takes a team. You know, it takes a family to accomplish what they're accomplishing. So, to be able to stay motivated and to be able to have that compassion and to be able to kind of put things aside and know that there's a bigger purpose to this is kind of what they're going through right now. And it's not easy.

But a lot of these men and women to go back out on the line of losing someone, so they have things in place to where they get to go home for a few days and kind of just take some time off. But they're right back at it. It's not -- I wish I had the best answer, but I know they're doing the best job with it.

BALDWIN: No, I know they are and we're thinking about them, these men and the women. Brendan, thank you for everything you've done as well. Brendan McDonough, a pleasure. Thank you.

MCDONOUGH: Thank you. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Back to our breaking news, Rick Gates being cross-examined right now in the Paul Manafort fraud trial. We know President Trump is watching this very, very closely, so we'll talk about what his take away might be coming up.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right. So, happening right now in this federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia the man who flipped against his former boss, Paul Manafort is being cross-examined right now on the stand, we're talking about Rick Gates. This happening after a couple key developments today. Gates testified that Manafort recommended a banker who gave him a loan to be secretary of the army. He also told the court about e-mails that show Manafort directed him on what to do with secret, off-shore accounts. Gates' testimony is a prime example of what happens when prosecutors convince insiders to flip on friends and colleagues. Gates, also just remember, he was a senior Trump campaign manager. So, Chris Cillizza in the big NYC, our CNN politics reporter.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Oh, Yes.

BALDWIN: And the point all things you --

CILLIZZA: Can I say one thing at the start, I love a good courtroom sketch. We don't get them anymore because we have cameras.

BALDWIN: The have cameras. Federal courthouse, it's like we hang on every wrinkle in somebody's brow.

CILLIZZA: (CROSSTALK) sketches everywhere.

BALDWIN: Thank you for that. I don't know what I was talking about.

CILLIZZA: Sorry. Super distracting.

BALDWIN: Rick Gates. Right.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

BALDWIN: So, I was talking to a Trump biographer last hour. He was saying Trump must be sitting at home and getting all kinds of information and following this to the T. And must be freaking out.

CILLIZZA: Well, right. So, we know he watches a lot of cable, period. But he's now in Bedminster, New Jersey. Not even at the White House. So, of course is staff is saying, well, he's got a lot of meetings, very busy, but his hobby is watching television. So, yes, I would assume he is wrapped. And I think this trial it's worth noting doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 campaign.

BALDWIN: Right.

CILLIZZA: This is about Manafort and Gates and what they did vis-a- vis Ukraine earlier in the decade.

BALDWIN: Lots of money.

CILLIZZA: But what you noted in the open there, Brooke, I think is super important which is this is why the government works to turn witnesses and make them into cooperating witnesses. Because Gates has the goods -- it certainly looks that way -- on Manafort. His financial struggles. Illegal loans alleged.

[15:50:00] You know, all these sorts of things that only someone who is working that closely would be able to do. And we obviously know on the horizon you have Michael Flynn, formal national security adviser and longtime Trump surrogate, who is cooperating with the Mueller probe. Now, we haven't seen anything like this, there hasn't been a trial as it relates to the 2016 campaign. But we know happening. And then Michael Cohen, who is a lot in the news today -- Trump former lawyer who obviously is under considerable pressure to flip because of what he may be facing. So, I think if you're Donald Trump or Don Jr., Jared Kushner -- anyone watching this in the Trump inner circle --

BALDWIN: You're paying close attention.

CILLIZZA: -- you have to be paying attention and it has to make you a little nervous.

BALDWIN: So, it's my understanding that at some point today the name Trump came up in court.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

BALDWIN: But we don't know which Trump --

CILLIZZA: Correct.

BALDWIN: -- that is referring to. But has to do with baseball tickets.

CILLIZZA: That's right. It has to do with Yankee baseball tickets. That were apparently never claimed and that Manafort had sort of earmarked for a Trump. And don't know who. Why is this of note? It is an interesting piece in that this is the first time to your point that the name Trump whether it's Donald Trump the President, Don Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka, we don't know but it's come up in the trial.

So, it's a couple things. I think it illustrates the fact that, yes, this does come up through the Mueller probe. That's the reason that Paul Manafort is on trial right now. What was uncovered by Bob Mueller. But as it was to Donald Trump, all of his tweets which are often wrong, are right in the sense of this is not directly related to the 2016 campaign and what Paul Manafort did there. It does suggest, however, he did have some interactions at some level this is in 2013 that note with Trump and Yankees tickets. Interaction with Trump world prior to being brought onto the Trump campaign in about April 2016.

BALDWIN: OK. Chris Cillizza, now I look at courtroom sketches and going to think of you.

CILLIZZA: I just love them. As someone who has no artistic ability I'm amazed those people can do that.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you. Always good to see you in person.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, Spike Lee's new film tells the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s. Hear how he's hoping the movie's message can thwart a Trump re-election.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Director, Spike Lee, has a new movie coming out this Friday. It is sure to make headlines inside and outside of the White House. It's called "Black Klansman." It Is the true story about a black Colorado Springs police officer who successfully infiltrated the KKK.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DAVID, ACTOR "BLACKKKLANSMAN": Hello. The is Ron Starwood calling.

Who am I speaking with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is David Duke.

DAVID: Grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, that David Duke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last time I checked. What can I do for you?

DAVID: I hate blacks. I hate Jews. Mexicans and Irish. Italians and Chinese. But my mouth to God's ears I really hate those black rats and anyone else really that doesn't have pure white Arian blood running through their veins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm definitely talking to a true white American.

DAVID: God bless white America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Wow. Chloe Melas, CNN entertainment reporter who just interviewed Spike Lee about this film and it's already being hailed as one of his best. Tell me more.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well look, I told Spike Lee when I sat down with him that as soon as you leave the theater because of this powerful ending, as well, you feel as though through his lens that the United States has made little to zero progress when it comes to race relations in this country. And his answer to me is that there's one clear problem. Why?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR, "BLACKKKLANSMAN": We have never really honestly dealt with slavery. Once we start to have an honest discussion on slavery then we can move forward. We have never really had honest discussions about the foundation of this country. I know people might not like this, but this is the truth. The United States of America, the foundation of this country is built upon genocide of native people and slavery. That's a fact. The founding fathers owned slaves. Unless we deal with those truths, it's not going to matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Wow. And you mentioned a second ago, too, the movie comes out Friday. This is the one day before the one-year anniversary of Charlottesville and there are images at the end of the film from that day.

MELAS: Images from those riots, Brooke, juxtaposed with clips of President Donald Trump speaking. You walk out of that film with a very clear message of where Spike Lee stands, and he will not even say President Trump's name. He refers to him as agent orange. He hopes that this movie impacts the midterms this fall, and he is determined to make sure that Donald Trump does not serve a second term as president. A lot of people are going to find the movie to be very controversial. A lot of people aren't going to like it. You have to remember that this is based on a true story, but it's told through the eyes of Spike Lee. And, you know, he has a history of making films that touch on -- powerfully on race relations like Malcolm X and you know, this is another example of just that.

BALDWIN: "BlackkKlansman" comes out Friday. Spike Lee, you have the interview, Chloe Melas. Thank you so much.

MELAS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I appreciate it.

And that will do it for me here in New York City. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. Let's go to Washington and Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

[16:00:00] JACK TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Brooke.

Rick Gates was stealing from Paul Manafort as Paul Manafort was allegedly stealing from taxpayers. But President Trump only hires the best people. Cool. THE LEAD starts right now.