Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Sears Declaring Bankruptcy; Trump Administration Officials to Attend Saudi Summit Despite Pullouts over Journalist; Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Expect First Child; Speculations Grows Defense Secretary Mattis Will Leave Position; Calls for Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner to Resign over Hunting Photos. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 15, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:31:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is an American icon that forever changed business in this country. But today, Sears is declaring bankruptcy. The once-dominant retail chain has been struggling for years, is drowning in debt. The company says it tends to stay in business, with keeping profitable stores opened and looking for a buyer for its remaining stores.

President Trump called the Sears bankruptcy a shame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's very sad what happened. Very, very sad. When you look at that whole filing that they did last night, to me is very sad. Somebody that is of my generation, Sears roebuck was a big deal. So it's very sad to see. And I will say, with that being said, I would imagine some of those great sites that Sears have, they really have some great sites, will be put to good use. There'll be a lot of great jobs. Sears has been dying for many years. It's been obviously improperly run for many years and it's a shame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to Richard Quest, CNN's business editor-at-large.

So my camera guy was reminding me of all of those thick Sears catalogs. You would go and pick your Christmas present out.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Going back long enough.

BALDWIN: Is this emblematic of out with the old, in with the new?

QUEST: Yes. It is both that. It is also a shame, as the president said. Look, I first came to the United States, 1983, '84. And I remember, I was a student and I was kiting out my dorm room and you went to Sears. And the catalog and all of that. But the reality is, as the president says, this company -- I don't know whether we say it's mismanaged or malmanaged. Certainly, it failed to understand that there was a mega-shift underway. And all the big anchor stores in malls have suffered similarly. But they went up market or into niche markets. Sears still kept to its same formula. Now and from 350,000 stores at the peak, it has 700 left and about to lose 142 more. It begs the question, is Sears Chapter 11 merely a prelude to Chapter seven, which, with, of course, is liquidation.

BALDWIN: Another huge business story that caught our eye today, a number of people at a high-profile business conference in Saudi Arabia have now pulled out because of this unexplained disappearance, right, of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. And yet, the Trump administration is still planning on attending. And it just strikes me as, you know, just yet another example of big business in America, breaking with the president over morals.

QUEST: And we know now that companies are -- the leaders of companies, the CEOs are the moral barometers to some extent. If Steve Mnuchin does go to the conference in Riyadh, the Davos in the desert, this would be entirely in keeping with what the president has said so far. On the question of the arms deal, why cut the deals, somebody else will sell them the arms. We will lose the money and the U.S. will lose the jobs. So Mnuchin going follows that exact formula, which is why Larry Kudlow said that Mnuchin should go. However, it does beg the question, if the World Bank president decides he shouldn't go, then at what point of pressure is the U.S. treasury secretary going to force the issue? You've got black rock, Blackstone. You've got JPMorgan. You've got uber, the CEO of Ford all saying, we're not going. We will risk the business. The U.S. government at the moment is still dancing on that pin.

BALDWIN: And then lastly, as you cover all things royal, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle --

(CROSSTALK)

QUEST: This is fascinating! This is fascinating! Because this child will be the closest, the closest that the U.S. has had to its own princess from the British royal family. Because, obviously, the child will be born with dual nationality, if Meghan Markle chooses to give the -- take up the U.S. citizenship. In fact, it can't be denied since the mother is American.

Secondly, it's close -- I mean, I can feel many Americans actually warming and welcoming to this very fact that now, yep, America does have a or will have, please god, a true member of their own royal family.

[14:35:27] BALDWIN: No, think of all the Americans who watched that wedding. I think I'm the only one who didn't, because I was busy on my own honeymoon. But everyone watched that wedding. And, of course, we wish them very well. Very exciting.

Richard Quest, thank you so much?

QUEST: Care you guess the name? Can you guess the name?

BALDWIN: Brittany? Blair?

QUEST: A lost cause.

BALDWIN: What is it? You leave me hanging?

QUEST: I don't know.

BALDWIN: No guesses? No nothing?

QUEST: Oh, no guesses. It will be something royal. It will be something that balances between modernity and tradition. So it won't be Mary or George, because we've already got a George. It will be something that tinges on to both.

BALDWIN: OK, Quest, we'll come back on that. Appreciate it.

Meantime, the president usually showers praise on the generals in his cabinet, but something has changed. His odd remark during that "60 Minutes" interview about the defense secretary, including how the president says he knows more about NATO than General James Mattis.

And a picture -- just tough to look at. This commissioner in Idaho posing with a family of baboons he hunted, and now calls are coming in for him to resign. We'll tell his story, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:48] BALDWIN: President Trump may be hinting at another departure within his administration. Last night on "60 Minutes," he made some remarks about Defense Secretary James Mattis' politics and his future at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLIE STAHL, CORRESPONDENT, "60 MINUTES": What about General Mattis? Is he going to leave?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't know. He hasn't told me that.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And I have a very good relationship with him.

STAHL: Do you want him to?

TRUMP: It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst.

And, General, always a pleasure, sir. Welcome. And we'll get to the "sort of a Democrat" comment here in just a

second. But out of the gate, did you get the sense that General Mattis is on his way out?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It certainly seems that way. He's probably considering this at the end of this two-year term. And that's, truthfully, Brooke, that's not that unusual. President Obama had four different secretaries of defenses. It's a tough job, a large bureaucratic organization that's hard to run with a lot of bureaucracy and demands on time. And Mattis understands that. But I think he's also served well in the two years, so he may certainly be considering the next stage of his life after serving two years for the president. But I can understand it, as well.

BALDWIN: Sure, but he's also been referred to as critics by one of the adults in the room and a Mattis-less administration might terrify some people. And the whole comment, "He's sort of a Democrat," where do you think Trump's getting that one from?

HERTLING: That one floored me when he did say that. I think that was appealing to his base. And many people, both supporters and critics of President Trump know that General Mattis has been one of the key adults in the room and he's loved by both sides of the aisle. That's part of his aura as being a former military guy. He's bipartisan and understands civilian control of the military. So I think, perhaps, the comment by the president, saying he's sort of a Democrat, is softening the blow that, hey, he's a guy on the other side, so it won't matter if we get rid of him. And truthfully, it surprised me. I'm not sure which party affiliation General Mattis has, but I do know he spent 40 years in a bipartisan arrangement wearing the uniform, where he supported any president and understands that he supports not President Trump, but the presidency and our government and our constitution.

BALDWIN: Well, you take these public comments on "60 Minutes" and you think about Trump's A.G., Jeff Sessions, right? Cabinet member, been belittled by this president umpteen different ways, right, publicly. And he stayed. He stayed, despite it all. Do you think General Mattis would put up with that kind of beating?

HERTLING: Well, you know, it's been interesting to watch some of the things that Secretary Mattis has done under the Trump presidency. He has countered many of the things the president has said. And you know, what's interesting is, anyone who served in the military knows that you have to balance the requirements of the job, in some cases, with your political boss' demand and in this case, I know it's been difficult for Secretary Mattis to counter some of the president's messaging. Sometimes his lack of integrity and the way he does business, because it certainly doesn't fall in line with military professionalism. And there have been several policy issues that Secretary Mattis has disagreed with.

The other statement last night, besides him potentially being a Democrat, was the fact that the president said, and I know probably more than he does.

BALDWIN: He knows more.

HERTLING: That's amazing.

The fact that -- let me get there. Because I know you can relate to that with this president, but he has said -- he has said he knows more than the generals. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAHL: Is it true General Mattis said to you, the reason nor NATO and the reason for all of these alliances is to prevent World War III?

TRUMP: No, it's not true. Frankly, I like General Mattis. And I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness, that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:45:03] BALDWIN: You know about this. Didn't Trump call you out and say he knew more than you, General Hertling? I mean, what are the chances? What are the chances he knows more?

HERTLING: Thanks for reminding of that, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You're welcome.

HERTLING: I was the very first general where he said that. I said, you can't bomb foreign countries and take away their oil as war booty. I said, that's immoral and illegal. Anderson Cooper told him and he said, well, I know more than general hurtling. And he's doing the same thing now to Secretary Mattis. He knows all the hot spots. Secretary Mattis, when he was a four-star general, was also in charge of joint forces command, which had the responsibility for helping native transform into the 21st century. So I would put my money on General Mattis every day of the week and twice on Sunday, in terms of knowing more about military policy, theory, and doctrine.

BALDWIN: General Mark Hertling, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much.

HERTLING: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Just in, as forensic teams are right now searching that Saudi consulate in Istanbul where that missing journalist was last seen, CNN is now reporting the Saudi government considered delaying the conference that business leaders are continuously bailing on but the Trump administration is still attending. We have new details on that ahead.

Also, we are three weeks out before the midterms. Three weeks! And this may be the last thing Democrats wanted to see. Why Hillary Clinton says her husband did not abuse power with his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:51:05] BALDWIN: Idaho's Fish and Game commissioner is facing backlash and calls for his resignation because of these photos. They're tough to look at. It shows Commissioner Blake Fischer posing with animals he killed while hunting in Africa. The commissioner shared these photos of these baboons in a private e-mail to friends and colleagues, but soon they went public. And critics, including some former commissioners, complain that Fischer put the office and the sport in a quote/unquote, "bad light."

So Stephanie Elam man making calls on this one for us today.

So, Stephanie, where does this stand? Does the governor weigh in?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's multiple parts to this obviously, in a state like Idaho, you have a lot of people who are hunting aficionados, but this seems to have riled some of the people there who are fans of hunting simply because of one picture in particular here, and that's the picture you just showed of the baboons. All in all, what we know is this commissioner, Blake Fischer and his wife, Beth, went to Namibia on a hunting trip. That doesn't seem to be the problem. The issue seems to be that in this e-mail that Mr. Fischer sent to over a hundred people, this one picture of the baboons, the way they were posed, this whole family, he says, this was his wife's first trip/ And the first day, she wanted to watch me get a feel of Africa, so I shot a whole family of baboons, I think she got the idea quick."

That has upset some people so much that some former commissioners felt they needed to write him and let him know what their problem was with this and that he should resign to protect the commission.

One in particular, Fred Truvet, said, quote, "My reaction to the photo and accompanying text of you smiling and holding a family of primates you killed dismays and disappoints me." He goes on to say, "I have a difficult time understanding how a person privileged to be an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner can view such an action as sportsman like and an example to others."

So, while it's not an issue that he was hunting or that baboons are even a problem. The issue is that they say that, according to the commission's own rules, that is there's an ethics about how you show these pictures and whether you stand next to the animals that you have shot and killed for sport. That seems to be the problem here. But at this point, it's not about a legality at all. But still, it's upsetting to some people to see a picture of four baboons like that with a baby baboon in the front.

BALDWIN: Understand. And the message he put along with it. Let's stay on that.

Stephanie Elam, I appreciate you very much on that one. Tough to look at.

New video just into us here at CNN of the president and first lady touring the destruction there in Florida. At least 30 people are still unaccounted for in Mexico Beach. So we'll take you there.

[14:54:02] Also, she is considered a 2020 presidential hopeful and one of Trump's most frequent targets, but now Senator Elizabeth warren is releasing DNA results against the president's Pocahontas smear. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump and first lady, Melania Trump, are now on the ground. They are in Florida, getting a firsthand look at the damage left by Hurricane Michael in that Florida panhandle.

Here was the president moments ago in Lynnhaven, Florida. Earlier, the presidential convoy flew over areas that had been completely wiped out. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hard to believe. I've seen pictures, but it's hard to believe, when you're above it in a plane and to see the total devastation. You see no houses left. Not even the pads are left. It's incredible.

And I have to say, the work of FEMA, first responders, local government, law enforcement is doing incredible.

You just saw Michael, who actually was about the only person in this area that rode it out, he said he's never been so scared in his life. He's never seen power like this. Trees coming down left and right. To see this personally, it's very tough. Very, very tough. Total devastation.

This is the mayor, by the way.

Come on over here. Come.

MARGO ANDERSON, LYNNHAVEN MAYOR: When the storm hit, the police, first responders and myself and our city manager, we were in the city hall and police annex. And you'll see we walked that far. It literally collapsed around us.