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Trump Calls Omarosa a "Low Life" & a "Dog"; Dispute Among Former White House Aides over "N" Word Tape; Confirmation White House Staffers Signed NDAs; Majority Say Mueller Should Wrap up Russia Probe Before Midterms & Trump Should Testify Under Oath. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Our thoughts are with her, her family, and well wishes for them right now.

Thank you for being with me today. I'll see you tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

It's Tuesday. If you thought maybe today would be the day that President Trump would turn the other cheek, take the high road, rise above it, well, maybe you will have to wait until Wednesday or the Wednesday after never. The president still feuding with his former reality show cast mate-turned former White House adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman. She continues on her rollout on what she's describing as a tell-all book about her time at the White House. The president does not like it, taking it to a new level with this, "When you give a crazed crying lowlife a break and give her a job at the White House, I guess it didn't work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog."

Just stop, take a moment, in the midst of the noise that is the administration and his Twitter feed, and process the fact the president of the United States just called a woman a dog in an official public statement. Look at his Twitter feed. It doesn't matter that he called other people, including white men, dogs in the past on his Twitter feed. And it doesn't even matter what she said. The fact that he is the president of the United States and he just called a woman a dog, again, making no secret about it, no apology about it, that's for sure, in a public statement. I don't think that should be lost in all of this noise that is every day.

What's he is so upset about is Omarosa's claim that he used the "N" word on the set of "The Apprentice" years back and that she personally heard the tape. This morning, a dispute now among former campaign aides who Omarosa says held a call to deal with the potential fallout of the release of this tape back in 2016.

Let's follow it all. CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House for us.

Abby, what are you hearing about this? What is this dispute? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it's just a really

big mess right now. Here is where it starts. Omarosa, in her book, claims there was a conference call during the campaign with her and several other Trump aides, Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton, and others, in which they discuss an alleged tape of Mr. Trump, President Trump, using the "N" word during "The Apprentice." Omarosa made those claims in her book. Those individuals, who were part of that call, allegedly part of that call denied it.

This morning, Omarosa released a portion of what she says is that audio call. Take a listen.


KATRINA PIERSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE (voice-over): I'm trying to find out at least the context it was used in to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it.

LYNNE PATTON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE (voice-over): Well, can you think of any time this might have happened, and he said no.


PATTON: He said, how do you think I should handle it. I told him what you said, well, it depends on what scenario you are talking about. He said, why don't you just go ahead and put it to bed. I don't know what -- he said it. He is embarrassed.


PHILLIP: There you can hear an aide saying, he said it, he is embarrassed. This morning, Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton, aids who, initially, last night, denied this conversation happened, released a new statement saying, "No one ever denied we had multiple conversations regarding the "Apprentice" tape. To the contrary, my interview with "Huffington Post" proves Omarosa was obsessed and discussed it constantly. What we refuted was having a call that Luntz, Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, confirmed Trump said it. Trump himself confirms to us he didn't."

How can both of those things be true? We don't know. Katrina Pierson is supposed to be on CNN on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" later tonight. We will have an opportunity to ask questions her more in-depth questions about this whole dilemma -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Abby, follow this bouncing ball. Important stuff regardless, so we will.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

Joining me now, Julie Pace, a CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press, and CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, if this tape that we have now just played that was released on CBS this morning, if it's who Omarosa says who it is, what does that mean?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I'm interested to hear what Katrina Pierson says. It's tough to figure out another meaning to, "He said it, he is embarrassed." Maybe there's another meaning. The denying that they confirmed with Frank Luntz that Donald Trump used that word is one thing. In some ways, is a bit of a red herring. You can deny Donald Trump used that racial slur in that specific context. But then if you say, "He said it, he is embarrassed," who else could he be in the context of that tape you just played, Kate?

I think it's important what you said at the top. Sometimes you have to take a step back, as I take a step back from the weeds I was just in, and say, it is not normal that we are having conversations like this about the president of the United States. We have not had this in the past. That should be the overarching theme of our coverage. Yes, we should figure out the who "he" is referring to. But broadly speaking, as it relates to -- certainly as it relates to race and I would say gender as well, with this president, we are having conversations, we are through the looking glass having conversations we really haven't had in the modern presidency.

[11:05:50] BOLDUAN: Julie, this tape and the statements following it, this most recent one, it doesn't add any credence to the existence of any tape of Donald Trump saying the "N" word, per se. It does add credence to the fact that it appears, if this tape is what it is and this tape is -- we don't know the context of what happens before or after what is recorded as has been played. Of course, we don't at this point. It does add credence to the fact it appears the campaign was concerned enough about it to have a call about it. Where does the back and forth now put people?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think it's important for people to know, this was a persistent rumor during the 2016 campaign that such a tape existed.


PACE: The rumor was only fueled further after the tape that was released of the president making these really demeaning comments about women came forward. There has been no other tape that has been made public. It's really in the rumor and innuendo phase. Certainly, it does show that the campaign was concerned enough that this tape might have existed that you had top officials at the time discussing this in real time. The fact that Omarosa is out there pushing this again is only going to heighten the discussion about whether this exists, heighten the search for a tape. We know there are journalists and others who are out there actively trying to find this.

But I do think, Kate, that you and Chris make a good point here. We can't get too lost in is there a tape or not. The rhetoric the president is using that we have confirmed is astonishing. We can't lose sight of the fact that he is saying things that are not normal, and I think are disturbing for a lot of Americans.

BOLDUAN: The president of the United States this morning writing from his Twitter feed that a woman is a dog. Beyond being just wrong -- I don't even know the adjective to use. Beyond it being inappropriate and all of the other things that have been said many times, I really don't think -- again, we're all saying it, say it together one more time, it's worth just saying, the noise of the administration, the constant movement, the noise of cable tv and say, seriously, this is -- this is what you want to do with your time and your power and your bully pulpit? Seriously?

PACE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: No matter what anyone has said about you. Right, Julie? No matter what anyone has said about you, you are the president of the United States.

BOLDUAN: I think one thing that we have learned over the past two years or so is that one of the reasons that the president feels comfortable using this type of language is that he doesn't really get much pushback. Even when he does, it's not sustained. Today, are we seeing much from Republican leaders, much outrage from Republican leaders?


BOLDUAN: I saw a tweet from Jeff Flake.

PACE: From Jeff Flake, right, someone not running for re-election. Someone like that might stand up. You don't see a sustained pushback.

The other piece is the president watches his poll numbers closely. With his voters, with his base, he does not see any negative impact to using this type of rhetoric. For him, that's really all that he needs.

BOLDUAN: After a summer that we have had -- I will talk about this later. Look at the poll numbers. That bears out in the CNN polls what Julie was just talking about, Chris.

CILLIZZA: I just -- yes, it's 100 percent true, there's -- remember, first of all, with Jeff Flake, the reason Jeff Flake is retiring is because he wrote a book that was deeply critical of Donald Trump that tanked his poll numbers. He is not just retiring out of the goodness of his part. It's because his attack on Donald Trump, politically speaking, backfired. That's a warning sign for a lot of Republicans.

The other point I'll make is that it's not really about politics, I think one of the biggest not abnormal things about the Trump presidency, the biggest, is he does not view the presidency as a podium on which to display moral leadership. Whether it's Charlottesville, whether it's his comments about women, whether it's his comments about race, he just doesn't see it as that role. Remember those ads -- the comments, I'm the role model, Charles Barkley in the 1990s?


CILLIZZA: Donald Trump doesn't view himself as a role model. He does what he wants to do, what he thinks is in his political interest. That's a massive break from what we have seen of presidents in recent years. It just is. When we look back, that and his assault on truth and fact are the two sort of big 50,000-foot takeaways, whether he is president for another two years or another six years.

[11:10:49] BOLDUAN: Julie, it's great to see you. Welcome back.

PACE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Chris, it's great to see you as well.


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Another important element to this whole story, for the first time, we are getting confirmation from the White House that staffers have signed non-disclosure agreements. Quite a lot of them

Joining me now to talk about this kind of element of all of this is, Jim Schultz. He's a former White House lawyer. He served in the first 11 months of this administration.

Jim, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: First, you worked at the White House the same time Omarosa did. Were you surprised she taped conversations as you just heard that conversation I had with Chris and Julie?

SCHULTZ: To go in to the most-famous, secure compartment in the world, in the West Wing of the White House in the Situation Room and tape a conversation just is unacceptable and shocking. I can't believe it happened. I also can't believe that she would run around taping conversations with other colleagues. That's also shocking. In the decency of any working environment, running around taping your colleagues and your boss and other folks would just be unacceptable in any place. Certainly not in the White House where confidentiality is so important.

BOLDUAN: Would you believe -- the "Washington Post" is reporting she has dozens -- aides believe she has dozens of recordings. Would you believe that?

SCHULTZ: Sure. We have seen a couple and threatened more. I don't think there's any limit to what she had done. Only time, right? And how much time she had to have those conversations and tape them. Again, shocking, unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: There's talk about the non-disclosure agreements. Who signed them. What they said. When they signed them. You signed one when you were working at the White House. Right? SCHULTZ: Kellyanne Conway confirmed the other day that White House

staff signed NDAs. I was one of the staff. So I signed an NDA. In the context -- I'm not going to get into details of what is in the NDA. Certainly, a belt-and-suspenders approach to confidentiality and confidentiality that -- obligations that already exist for White House staff and government employees. It isn't a bad thing, I don't think. So --


BOLDUAN: The difference is -- the difference I think of what people are talking about is when it comes to signing confidentiality, normally, it's with regard to an agreement to not share classified information in a public setting with people who don't have the proper security status, classified information. These NDAs that we are talking about here go beyond that.

SCHULTZ: You are talking about confidential non-public information. The fact that -- any person working in the White House -- I was a White House lawyer. I'm certainly not going to talk publicly about any conversations that I had with individuals that were not non-public conversations in the public domain. It's not the right thing to do. Folks shouldn't be doing it. Period.

BOLDUAN: Would you have been able to get your job had you not signed an NDA, do you think?

SCHULTZ: I was hired for my job at the White House prior to the NDAs being put in front of us. I don't know whether -- I got the job beforehand. I agreed to sign the NDA. It's irrelevant. I don't know the answer to that question.

BOLDUAN: Are the NDAs irrelevant regardless? How are they legally enforceable for the White House? White House employees are paid by the American taxpayer. White House employees are public employees.

SCHULTZ: Right. Along with that public -- along with those being a public employee becomes public trust. Again, you are talking about the White House. There's a reason why the Situation Room exists. There's a reason why SCIPs (ph) exist. There's a reason why there's so much security at the White House in terms of confidential information. Because it's important. You are talking about not just national security but policy decisions, pre-determined, deliberations that go into policy decisions made at the White House. That's all very important, confidential information that, quite frankly, if it becomes public, it would stifle good ideas, if you will, right, because --


BOLDUAN: Do you think these NDAs are enforceable?

[11:15:05] SCHULTZ: I'm not going to get into my opinion on what's enforceable and not. I was a White House lawyer when they were issued. I'm not going to get into -- I'm not a White House lawyer now. It's not my place to opine on that. That's their job. BOLDUAN: It's unusual, these NDAs, compared to past administrations.

I'm getting the sense you think that's a good thing.

SCHULTZ: Look, it's like I said before, it's a belt-and-suspenders approach. It's really obligations that already existed. It's a belt- and-suspenders approach, reinforcing it. Now that we have seen what Omarosa has done in terms of breaching that confidentiality, in terms of recording conversations that she had with fellow staffers and those kinds of things, belt and suspenders doesn't sound like a bad idea.

BOLDUAN: I don't wear suspenders very often. I will have to try them on.


BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Jim. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate your perspective on this.

SCHULTZ: Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, new CNN poll numbers revealing the majority of voters have a message for Special Counsel Robert Mueller: Wrap up the Russia investigation and do it before the midterms. That is cutting across party lines. What's behind that?

Plus, why did the judge in the Paul Manafort trial just order the jury and public out of the courtroom? We will go live to the courthouse.

We will be right back.


[11:20:39] BOLDUAN: New CNN polling is out. Americans have a message for President Trump and the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. First, the president. And 70 percent of Americans say the president should testify under oath if Mueller asks him to, and only 25 percent say he shouldn't. The message for Bob Mueller: Wrap it up. A new poll shows 66 percent of Americans say he should try to complete the Russia investigation before the midterm elections in November. And it's not just Republicans we are talking about. Yes, 72 percent of Republicans say that, but 69 percent of Independents, and a majority of Democrats as well, 57 percent polled say they want the same.

Joining me now for what this all means, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart, and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi.

Great to see you guys.

Joe, you are currently working with Democratic candidates. What is your advice when you see these numbers? Do you need to adjust strategy?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think -- I think that this isn't much of an issue in terms of the election. Robert Mueller is not going to look at a poll like this. I think, frankly, what's going on here is the polarization in the country. An early report can mean different things to different people who answered these questions. If you are a Republican who believes the president will be exonerated, you want it out now before the election. If you are somebody on the other side, opposing the president, believing the charges, you want Robert Mueller to release them immediately so that -- because you believe it will hurt the president and his party. I think it's possible that both sides want this out now but for completely different reasons.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting, Joe. When you see that 57 percent of Democrats, you don't see concern among Democrats. You see it could be a different motivation than what Republicans are talking about.

TRIPPI: Absolutely. When you look at the other questions in the poll. I actually think that what's really fascinating is that the president's job approval of 42 percent, but his handling of the Russia investigation, his approval is only 34 percent. There's a lot of horrible numbers in this poll that would cause great concern -- should cause the president and his party some great concern. I don't think this is about people wanting the investigation over as much as they believe it will say different things. Therefore, would like to have that known before the election.

BOLDUAN: Alice, again, it's no surprise Republicans want to see the investigation wrap up. But also, one of the other numbers in the poll is that more and more Democrats are saying that this issue is extremely important, the Russia investigation, to their vote. What do Republicans do with this? Go harder against it? As I heard from some, when they are working -- on the ground running the race, they are focusing their attention elsewhere, not on the Russia investigation.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Joe is exactly right. We all want the same. We want this to be wrapped up, because the real focus of this is Russia interference in our election. As Joe said, they want it for different reasons. Democrats think the president is culpable. Republicans don't. In my view, my recommendation for Republicans is to focus on what voters across this country are concerned with, specifically Republicans that I talk to, which is jobs and the economy and health care. The way the economy is right now, we have got GDP rate is at an excellent point. We have the jobless numbers are at an all-time good spot. We also have 3.7 million new jobs created since this president has taken office. Those are the things that we need to focus on. Republicans would be wise to do so.

But Democrats who do believe there's collusion and there's coordination and there's some shady dealings between the Trump administration and Russia, of course, they want to focus on this. They have also used the "I" word, impeachment, and used that as a way to motivate people to get out in the election. That is a tremendous mistake. Midterms are about enthusiasm. People are enthused to get out and vote when it has to do about the economy and not about impeachment. [11:24:56] BOLDUAN: There's also the theory that people turn out

when they are angry about something. If you look at Trump approval rating -- you mentioned it, Joe -- it's about the same it was in the spring. Big support among Republicans, despite a summer that included the mess that was the summit in Helsinki, family separation at the border, more Mueller indictments, and his campaign chairman on trial. If you are a Democrat looking at this, what is the Trump factor?

TRIPPI: I think it's going to be a tremendous factor in the races. I think a lot of it has to do with sort of the division and sort of just the constant attacks that he has made on just about everybody, has really caused, I think, some problems for the Republicans with younger Republicans, with women, members of the GOP, particularly those in the suburbs, and with college-educated Republicans. More his style, not necessarily some of his policies. Again, that explains why, with the economy doing as well it is, his approval rating is at 42 percent. There's a reason for that. Anybody else would have approval ratings in the 60s with this unemployment. I'm not getting into whether it was Obama that created the economy or Trump. I'm saying it doesn't usually matter. When you have a good economy, the president's approval does very well. That's not the case. The reason I think is not so much some of his policies with the Republicans that he could lose, but with his style, the brashness, the constant attacks, the tweets, and always, always picking a fight.


STEWART: And, Kate, I think that's a key number out of the poll we put out this morning, a 42 percent approval rating by this president, which is stronger than his predecessors, Reagan, Clinton and Carter, who were extremely popular. That being said, they -- the economy wasn't as strong as it is now. I think this reinforces what many people have thought ever since the president started to run for office, and now as president, they support -- they don't support his rhetoric but they support his results.


STEWART: As long as we continue to have results, we will do well.


BOLDUAN: Alice, it's good to see you.

Thank you, Joe.

Thanks. I really appreciate it, guys.

STEWART: Thanks, Kate.

TRIPPI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, the judge in the Paul Manafort trial ordering the jury and public out of the courtroom today, just a day after the court heard new details about Manafort's interactions with Jared Kushner. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)