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Nikki Haley Resigns; Haley Plans to Campaign for Trump; Ivanka Trump Would Like to Replace Haley; GOP And Dems Hope to Capitalize on Kavanaugh's Nomination Fight. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 9, 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] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me. We begin with the stunning departure of a Trump appointee just as another makes a major arrival. Hours after the celebration of his new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump has accepted the resignation of Nikki Haley. She spoke alongside the President earlier today at the White House about why she's leaving, as she pretty quickly quashed any talk of 20 Presidential prospects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's done an incredible job. She's a fantastic person, very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it. We're all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose you. Hopefully you'll be coming back at some point. But in maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick. That was really the thing I think she did best at the united nations. She got to know the players. She got to know China, Russia, India. She knows everybody on a very first-name basis and they like her, except for maybe a couple, which is normal, they can't all like you. But they do. They really like you. Maybe more importantly, they respect her.

NIKKI HALEY, UN. AMBASSADOR: Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we're going to do something, we follow it through. I don't have any set on where I'm going to go. I think that the main thing was I was governor for six years and we dealt with a hurricane, a thousand-year flood, a church shooting, school shooting and to come in and do Iran and North Korea, it's been eight years and I'm a believer in term limits. I think you have to be selfless enough to know when to step aside and let someone else do it. Thank you, Mr. President. It been the honor of a lifetime. For all of you that are going to ask for 20, no, I'm not going to ask for 20. I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That's go straight to our CNN senior diplomatic correspondent. She referred to the job as an honor of a lifetime. The fact she's leaving, I want to know why now.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE: I think that's what everyone wants to know. That was a lot of talk. You saw this big production of Haley sitting with Trump there, tons of praise and talking about all she's been able to do in the job so on and so on but you're left with the question "what?" at the end of it. Why now? Why were people like the Secretary of State and National Security Adviser blindsided by this announcement now according to multiple sources. If the President knew months ago, as he said he did there, why did nobody else know? I mean, her own staff was surprised by this announcement today. So according to new reporting, most of which is coming from our White House team, it seems that Haley wasn't always going to stay in this position anyway, that she did give this letter of resignation to Trump last week when she met with him.

And in that she outlines her thinking, the fact that it's time for her to move on, that she doesn't see entering the private sector now as a step down but a step up. So, the reporting is that the timing just seemed right now. She tendered this resignation last week but she didn't want it to be concurrent with the Kavanaugh situation still going on in that supreme court battle, looking like she was leaving then because it had to do with gender issues and that battle, but she didn't necessarily want to leave after the midterms and what if the GOP loses the house. She wanted all the feeling to be good and positive. She also would like to earn some money if the private sector right now. She's been in public office for 14 years and she lays that out in her resignation letter. But there's tons of talk out there as well. We should note this does come one day after a public watch dog group is asking the State Department's inspector general to look into trips that she took on private jets belonging to people that she says are friends of hers, they were also donors to her gubernatorial campaign. There might not be any wrongdoing there, it's all preliminary, but that timing is there. Did it have something to do with that? Nobody knows definitively. We only know on reporting from people close to the situation.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Let's go straight to the White House now to reaction there. Jeremy Diamond is up live. The President said six months ago that Nikki Haley approached him about leaving and now we're lettering a bit more about her timing. Listening to Michelle, it sure sounds like a lot of high-ranking officials were blindsided. Who did know?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That is the question this morning. While the President did say six months ago, we know it really started to come together last week. That is when Nikki Haley last Wednesday met with the President at the White House, and we're told according to two sources that that is when Nikki Haley offered her resignation to the President. But from them until this morning, it remained a very, very closely-held affair, something that is not all that common in this White House as you well know, Brooke. Many senior officials in the White House did not know. The President's top national security and foreign policy adviser, the exact and national security advisor John Bolton, both of them we're also told were not aware this was coming down the pike until this morning. The Secretary of State did speak to reporters briefly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The second thing I wanted to say was I wanted to thank Ambassador Haley for the good work that she's done. She's been a great partner of mine for the now five months that she and I have been working to the together. I want to wish her well in whatever comes next for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: Nikki Haley earning praise there from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State walking away there, as you can hear under a cacophony of questions being shouted there. That's because he may not want to answer about when he learned of Nikki Haley's resignation. It's a position that really does fall under the State Department, he did not know she was planning to resign. The way this announcement with released and the President coming out to speak with reporters in the oval office alongside Nikki Haley, stage managing the whole affair. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Thank you. Let's have a bigger conversation now. Joining me, Hagar Chemali. She once served as spokeswoman to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, David Tafuri, former official at the United Nations and the State Department, he was also an outside foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign, and Michelle Kosinski is back with us.

Hagar, seeing Mike Pompeo, made me think back when Secretary Tillerson left State, we know it was Nikki Haley who wanted to become the Secretary of State. She was none too pleased she didn't get the job. Maybe that's not the reason why she's exiting now, but I'm wondering might that play a role? What do you make of the timing here?

HAGAR CHEMALI, SERVED AS SPOKESWOMAN TO U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It's hard to speculate if that may have been part of the cause. There are a lot of theories we could throw at this. I do want to bring it back to the world of the U.N. in particular and the fact of the matter is the United States just had its presidency in September during the U.N. General Assembly. For any U.N. Ambassador, that's a peak of their career, to have that presidency on top of it during that month. If she had been thinking of leaving, it could have been because she didn't get the Secretary of State position it, could be because she has political ambitions beyond 20 and wanted to leave at a high point. Whatever it might be, the timing make sense. She's had all these accomplishments over the last two years. The grind at the U.N. is really relentless. I was there, of all the positions I had in government, including compared to the White House, my position at the U.S. mission at the U.N. was by far the most trying and just 24/7. I do think that the timing for her resignation, almost on two years, going through the U.N. General Assembly and U.S. presidency makes sense for that. But the exact reason is hard to say.

BALDWIN: David, what do you think?

[14:10:00] DAVID TAFURI, FORMER OFFICIAL AT UNITED NATIONS AND STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think this is a big loss. There were times during this administration where it felt like Nikki Haley was the conscience of the administration, especially on foreign policy and human rights issues.

BALDWIN: She got away with speaking up and speaking out and disagreeing with the President, unlike so many other people in the administration. It seemed to be OK if she did it.

TAFURI: That's exactly right. That's why it's a big loss. You have to speculate, is this because she has conflict with Pompeo, more likely with Bolton. We know Bolton's views on the U.N. are very strong and she might not fully agree with them. As Michelle talked about on the top of your show, there are allegations, breaking news this morning, that she's being investigated or potentially going to be investigated for her use of corporate jets. We don't know if there's anything to that but we also don't know if there's more coming out and she wanted to get ahead of that story. I hope that's not the case but this is overall just a big loss. BALDWIN: Who is, Michelle, who would be -- she had that more moderate

tone. Who will now be that pushback voice within the administration? Who would really steer the ship on foreign policy?

KOSINSKI: There has been talk, too, that she may have seen her role changing some, now that the President has John Bolton firmly in place as national security adviser. He has been extremely outspoken. That speech he gave against the international criminal court, going on and on about what an abomination he feels it is, that may not have set so well with her, may have been on the extreme side for her beliefs. She may also see her role changing some now that Pompeo seems to be Trump's right-hand man in many ways and has been a champion of Trumpian policy. Most policy of course does come from the White House. There's been some reporting that she sort of felt like things are a little different now. Just like more things, it seems like it's likely a combination of timing here.

And she has been outspoken. She's been one of the most visible, headline making members of the administration when she goes out there before the U.N. in a speech that not necessarily might be watching on their tv in the middle of the day but makes headlines by saying things like "Russia has the blood on its hands of Syrian children." When has been extremely outspoken on Russia, even when the President himself at time has seemed the absolute opposite. So, will there be somebody that fits that exact role? No. But there's been lots of talk that it could be Dina Powell maybe coming back to the administration. She handled sovereign wealth funds for Goldman Sachs. Would she even want to come back? There's even talk about Ivanka Trump --

BALDWIN: I want to hear Hagar on this. I think we have a photo of Dina Powell was in South Carolina fishing with Nikki Haley, so they were together over the weekend. And the ambassador was really gushing not only about Ivanka but Jared Kushner. There's the fishing photo. Let's go back to this morning, guys. Roll the sound from when she was talking about Ivanka and Jared Kushner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DINA POWELL, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR STRATEGY: I can't say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to redo the NAFTA deal the way he did, what I've done working with him on the middle east peace plan, it's so unbelievably well done and Ivanka has been a great friend. And they do a lot of things behind the scenes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now, Hagar, nepotism, yes. But should we not rule out Ivanka Trump? A source familiar says Ivanka's name has been in the discussion.

CHEMALI: Nothing would surprise me but for me that sounds a little far fetched and I find it surprising that Dina would want to go back in already. I wouldn't be surprised if Ambassador Rick Cornel had his eye on that position. Now he works with NATO and NATO is another multi-national organization so it lays the foundation for that work, for that type of position. I wouldn't be surprised if he has his eye on that position. Ivanka or Jared, this is a Senate-confirmed position at the end of the day so they've got a lot stacked up against them in that regard.

[14:15:00] I don't know if they themselves want to put themselves through that kind of scrutiny. That's something that Ivanka has complained about before. I wouldn't be surprised. I will say I want to add one point to David's point in particular, a source of mine at the U.S. mission to the U.N. did mention to me that although they did find out recently about her resignation on Tuesday, I guess, that they are mourning this. They are upset. They felt she brought a sense of respect to the building, that she respected others even when there were differences on policy.

BALDWIN: From everyone I'm hearing from, it's a loss and I think that speaks volumes about Nikki Haley. Thank you all very much. This powerful category 2 hurricane is churning. Could be the strongest storm to hit Florida in a decade. We'll tell you how people are preparing. And with just 20 days until the midterms, both parties are trying to convert passion into votes at the polls. But a new CNN poll reveals what could be a major obstacle ahead for one particular party we will dive into that. And Hillary Clinton speaking out in an exclusive CNN interview when she says we can expect to see civility return again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for and what you care about. I believe if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that's when civility can start again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This storm is now being described as monstrous, spinning toward the Florida panhandle. Hurricane Michael is threatening the Gulf Coast and Florida is right in its path. State officials are warning people they have less than 24 hours to pack up and get out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R), FLORIDA: Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades. It will be life threatening and extremely dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN is getting the first glimpse of what the hurricane looks like now. These are photos taken about an hour ago from the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Millions are under storm watches and warnings. And much of the panhandle has been ordered to evacuate. Right now, Hurricane Michael is a Category Two storm but forecasters say it will likely make landfall as a Category Three. I'm hearing the story with this storm is the wind.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You mentioned it's only a category two now. I want people to understand we're only one mile away off from being a category three. 111 is the next threshold to the next level. This storm is only likely to increase and intensify as it continues through that every warm water in the gulf. Winds are still gusting at 130 miles an hour. The models are in very good agreement about where it will go in the next 72 hours. We expect landfall to be around the panhandle, winds around 120 miles an hour sustained with gusts higher than that. Storm surges are the concern. That's 8 to 12 feet, the red area, including Panama City about 6 to 9 feet and even a play say, Tampa, is still likely to get two to four feet of storm surge. Wind is also going to be a big concern with this, not coastal regions but even inland. That's going to be a big concern for power outage, not just for the coastline, but states like Georgia, North and South Carolina, all of these areas here including cities like Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, may have significant amounts of power outages, even though they are well far inland. Also, Brooke, rainfall. That's going to be a big concern. Not just around the coastline but also the Carolinas. Brooke, the thing to note, we still have several river gauges above flood stage from Florence that have yet to come back down and now we're going to be adding more rain on top of that.

BALDWIN: Thank you. We'll stay in close touch with you as this storm hits. This may be the strongest storm in terms of wind speed to make landfall this year. Diane Gallagher is live in Panama City Beach with preparations there. You tell me how it's feeling out there now.

[15:25:00] DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If we're looking at the number of people walking around I'd say it looks like most people are heeding the warnings. We haven't seen too many people out on the beaches, at the shoreline. Of course, there's one or two but this is a tourism hot spot. A lot of people are here for fall break with their children, the state and private entities, like airlines, have tried to make it as easy as they can for them to get out of here. The governor has already activated 2,500 national guardsmen and women and deployed 300 troopers from the highway patrol to assist with the evacuations and after marred of the storm. They've suspended tolls to ease their road inland. If you take a look out here now, we're starting to get winds again here. The surge with the water, the waves have been getting higher. We've had a lot of churning out there right now up by the pier. Just a little bit ago we saw some trucks coming along the beach, picking up all the trash cans. There was some other equipment picking up anything that had been left on the beach to prevent any sort of projectiles. But I'm going to be honest, the local officials seem even more concerned about that storm such in Panama City Beach. Water is deadly. There are a lot of people here who live in one-story homes. This is a low-lying area. We're not even eight feet above sea level where I'm standing right now. For them it's important for people to get far enough inland to escape that storm surge. We're in a mandatory evacuation in Panama City Beach and there are ten counties with mandatory evacuation. They're basically asking everyone to move inland. It is not going to be a long storm but it is going to be a strong one. They can go to a shelter and go inland for at least a couple days.

BALDWIN: Diane Gallagher. I'm on a plane headed your way in a matter of hours. We'll see you down there and we'll ride this thing out. Thank you, Diane, in Panama City Beach.

And Republicans and Democrats are trying to use Brett Kavanaugh's bitter nomination to energize their base ahead of the midterms 28 days away. But a new CNN poll out today shows that the Republican Party is facing an uphill battle with female voters.

How do Republicans overcome that? Let's talk about it.

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