Return to Transcripts main page
Pittsburgh Celebrates 11 Victims of Deadly Synagogue Massacre; Interview with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers; Florida Yoga Studio Shooting; A Presidential Test in Montana: Trump vs. Tester; Obama and Trump Square Off in Homestretch of Midterm Campaigns; Pentagon Says No to Using Troops as Border Cops; Cohen: Trump Used Racist Language Multiple Times; Trump Continues Campaign Blitz with Stop in Montana; Alec Baldwin Arrested after Dispute over Parking Space. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 3, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:15] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome. It is 11:00 on the Eastern Coast.
All right. Jews across the world are coming together on this shabbat not to mourn but to celebrate the lives of those murdered inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Congregations from Boston to Philadelphia and Los Angeles held "show up for shabbat" services last night, paying respects to the 11 lives tragically taken in a hate- filled massacre one week ago today.
And this morning, hundreds more are gathered again to honor the victims in Pittsburgh. The former crime scene is now covered with flowers, letters, and tributes to those lost.
CNN's Jean Casarez joins us live from Pittsburgh. What are you hearing there, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are right here. And this is where it happened one week ago today, just as you said, at the Tree of Life. And it is still an active crime scene because federal investigators, the FBI, continue to process it.
But outside, it just ended minutes ago. It was an outside shabbat service by former rabbi of Tree of Life, Chuck Diamond. There were so many things he said to people all over this community that came for this outdoor shabbat setting. It was raining very hard at the time, but it went on.
And he said that the survivors of all of this should not feel guilty because they were given life. Then he focused directly on the Tree of Life Synagogue which was behind the mall and he said that there was so much joy from the Tree of Life for so many years -- the weddings, the bar mitzvahs, and that now this building has been stained.
But he equated it to a Jewish wedding where the glass is stepped upon at one point during the proceeding, and it is to signify the rabbi said of the tragedy. He said that now this tragedy has happened, but we must go on and that this building will find joy in the future. Now, the three congregations that were actually in the Tree of Life on various levels from the basement to the main floor to the third floor, they're all having a ceremony together at Beth Shalom, which is very close to where I am now. It is continuing to go on. But we do know at one point they had a moment of silence, one minute and 11 seconds -- 11 seconds for every victim that perished one week ago this morning in the Tree of Life Synagogue -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jean Casarez, thank you so much. We'll check back with you. Our thoughts and prayers with everyone there.
All right. CNN's Alisyn Camerota talked with the man who is not just a witness to the tragedy, but he is also the rabbi who had led that congregation in prayer. He says his sadness has now shifted to anger.
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: These just showed up. We didn't put them here. They just showed up.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They just --
MYERS: Showed up.
CAMEROTA: -- organically showed up. And these are the names of the victims.
MYERS: These are all the names of the victims and it just showed up. And this is just an outpouring of love --
CAMEROTA: Oh my God.
MYERS: -- from countless people. I'm floored by the love. I don't know where the tents came from. These weren't here yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Is that right?
MYERS: This isn't -- the rain is coming in. Somebody brought in tents. This is amazing.
CAMEROTA: To shelter all of these stars (ph).
MYERS: This is not done by the synagogue. We didn't do this. The community did this. And I'm just amazed. Amazed.
CAMEROTA: And so what is it like for you to walk around here just six days after you ran for your life from this building?
MYERS: It was painful. It still is. It's painful. I mean I know it is part of the grieving process but, you know, I'm a witness. I'm a victim. And I'm a survivor. And I'm also tested (ph) -- but I'm also a human. And I stand here and I'm in pain.
CAMEROTA: Are you scared when you see this building? Does -- do you feel -- MYERS: No, I'm not scared. I'm angry. How dare you defile our holy
space? What made you think you could ever do that? How would you feel if someone did that to your mother's house of worship? How would you feel. And those are questions he's going to have to deal with.
CAMEROTA: But you sense anxiety and fear from the community?
MYERS: Yes. Yes, they're afraid.
CAMEROTA: They're afraid it is going to happen again.
CAMEROTA: You know, you've been so vocal on national TV and you have given your message of love and to tone down the hate. And I just wonder, do you have moments where you break down or are you still on adrenaline?
[11:04:56] MYERS: To give a perfect example -- after the last funeral today, it was the last one, I appreciate the fact that outside, there's a side there with a contemplative (ph) garden. I just sat there and cried like a baby. I couldn't stop.
I thought the procession was waiting for me, I couldn't stop. It just came out. Couldn't stop. I haven't held it in me nonstop, but you know, this is the last funeral, and every time I do one, for me, because I'm also a chanter -- when I chant the memorial prayer, it takes a piece of my soul away. And I have no more left to give. My tank is empty.
CAMEROTA: And so what do you say to your congregants who say why? How does this happen, why? How does God let this happen?
MYERS: I don't believe God lets this stuff happen. Humans have a choice. And this person made this choice. To me God is the one I turn to when I have no strength to say God, give me strength to get through this.
And that's what I do every moment of every day. Give me strength. And somehow God does.
CAMEROTA: And all of these people who have lined up here, why are they here? I mean what do you think they're coming here to do?
MYERS: The community is just mourning. This is Pittsburgh. And this is what Pittsburgh is.
We're one community. And Pittsburgh is hurting. And we're here to mourn. And this is what Pittsburgh is about. That's what makes Pittsburgh a special place.
CAMEROTA: Are you ever going back into this building?
MYERS: You know, we're going to do whatever is the necessary work. We have to redo our sanctuary. We have to sit and figure out how and what that means and what's the best choice in terms of what to do, which we'll sit and spend the time and plan properly. And we will rebuild in whatever way we need to. And we'll be back.
CAMEROTA: Seeing those gun bullet holes through the door, through the glass door, that's really chilling.
MYERS: It is. It is. I walked through the sanctuary. It is a horror. It is worse than any sci-fi film because it is real, it is not phony Hollywood.
I never think I'd live to see that horror in my life. Because I've faced anti-Semitism before. I've faced it growing up as a kid. So I never thought I would see the horror of this ever, ever.
CAMEROTA: Just show me here what stands out to you. Show me when you come here to look at this outpouring of the community.
MYERS: It's the sheer immensity of love. It gives me hope because it reminds me there are so many good people. And this gives me strength to say hate will never win.
WHITFIELD: Alisyn Camerota -- thank you so much for that.
So as Pittsburgh continues to cope with that tragic synagogue massacre, we're following yet another deadly shooting. this time in Florida where a gunman opened fire at a yoga studio in Tallahassee just last night. The man killed two people and injured five more before turning the gun on himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MICHAEL DELEO, TALLAHASSEE POLICE: There are indications that several people inside fought back and tried to not only save themselves but other people, which is a testament to the courage of the people who don't just turn and run, the strength of our community, and the spirit of those people who are trying to help, and save, and protect others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been following this for us. So what more are you learning about the shooting? The person who carried this out?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have no idea at this point authorities say, what the connection was to that hot yoga studio in Tallahassee -- Fred. Those two women who were killed in the shooting, the President of Florida State University tweeting out this morning that 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem was a faculty member, and 21-year- old Maura Binkley was a student at FSU. So that community obviously grieving right now.
Now three of the five people who were admitted to the hospital have since been released. Two remain in stable condition. That 40-year- old shooter, Scott Beierle, police do believe then turned the gun on himself and killed himself afterwards. But again, they're trying to determine what caused him to go into a hot yoga studio and open fire.
The students in there trying to fight back. But look, it is a vulnerable situation. Most of the time people don't even wear shoes in there, let alone have anything to protect themselves.
WHITFIELD: Right. And it's going to be a small space.
GALLAGHER: It's a small face. It's enclosed. It's difficult to get out of a lot of times because it's supposed -- it's hot, it's intended to be that way.
And so they're working on trying to figure out what the connection is to the shooter right now, to come into that public place and open fire.
Now, of course, in a very publicized governor's race in Florida, Andrew Gillum, the Democrat is the mayor of Tallahassee. He went back last night after campaigning with President Obama -- when the shooting happened he went back to Tallahassee to deal with it.
[11:10:05] Rick Scott, the governor of the state, the Republican nominee for senator, he went back to Tallahassee. That's also where he lives, the state capital. And so both of them are now back in Tallahassee dealing with it. Rick Scott tweeted this morning that he visited with some of those victims in the hospital overnight.
But I mean really, Fred, right now we are waiting to find out the connection and learn a little bit more about these victims.
WHITFIELD: Right. And as we have seen too often now with situations like this, they're looking at the digital footprint --
WHITFIELD: -- looking at the residence, looking to talk to anyone who may have known this gunman before, of course, he took his life.
And so as for the candidates, though, have they suspended their campaigning for the weekend or just at least last night?
GALLAGHER: At least last night. And there are still some tweets about campaigning happening but not on the trail. Andrew Gillum not expected to attend any of the planned events today.
And again, look this is three days before the election. And while Gillum has talked quite a bit about gun violence, especially -- I mean you think about what has happened not just this year, not just last week in Pittsburgh, but you know, how many months ago in February at Parkland, Florida.
GALLAGHER: The gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida where a gunman opened fire, killing two of the contestants there as well. It has been a topic for Andrew Gillum. Rick Scott, not as much, talking more about gun rights.
But look, the President has set the tone for so many elections across the nation. And it is not something the President really talks about. His preferred topics are immigration or health care or things of that nature. But when it comes to --
WHITFIELD: -- which we're seeing here.
WHITFIELD: Yes. We're seeing him do this weekend as he also campaigns, you know, really across the country -- but a lot in just 2018.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. Dianne Gallagher -- appreciate that. Keep us posted if you learn anything more about that.
All right. Still ahead, President Trump's final blitz with just three days now until the midterms. Can the President save his party and knock down this supposed blue wave on the horizon?
[11:12:03] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Just three days until Tuesday's midterms and intense stumping for the major parties by the sitting president and his predecessor. It's an unprecedented matchup involving President Trump and former president Barack Obama on the campaign trail. They headline a wave of star power, crisscrossing the country trying to secure votes between today and Tuesday.
President Trump has seven rallies on the schedule. And last night, Trump boasting less about the economy and more on immigration. He ramped up his attacks on the migrant caravan in Central America and Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan. Republicans want strong borders, no drugs, no gangs, and we want no caravans, thank you.
I think they overplayed their hand on this one, folks, because between Justice Kavanaugh and the caravans, you people are energized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So much at stake and voters are energized overall and they know what's at stake. Early voting numbers have skyrocketed. In fact, CNN is reporting at least 12 states have already surpassed their numbers from 2014.
The President, by the way, is in Montana today where Democratic Senator Jon Tester is in danger of losing his seat to Republican Matt Rosendale.
CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Belgrade, where the President will be speaking in about an hour from now. So, tell me what's happening there in Montana. It looks like you have a pretty sizable crowd behind you already.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning -- Fredricka.
The crowd is beginning to pour in. There were hundreds if not perhaps thousands lining up here early this morning just outside Bozeman. Now, this is President Trump's fourth trip to Big Sky Country since July. Local historians here say it is the most visits by a U.S. president ever. Harry Truman visited three times by comparison over a four-year period.
President Trump is coming here for one reason and one reason only. He views it as a personal match between he and Democratic Senator Jon Tester. The President has come to Montana again and again, trying to nationalize the contest, trying to make this race the same as all the others.
Of course, Jon Tester is a Democrat, one of those rare Democrats representing a red state. President Trump, of course, won Montana by some 20 points in 2016. And he is trying to awaken his voters to come out and support the Republican candidate.
But we caught up with Jon Tester yesterday as he was campaigning and we asked him how he sees the race. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Senator -- President Trump has been here four times now. He has a target on you. How has that changed the race?
SENATOR JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: I don't think it has. It's still a race between myself and Matt Rosendale for United States senator for Montana. The difference between myself and my opponent are 180 degrees on nearly every issue and so that's what it is about.
Whether the President comes here or not, it doesn't make any difference. It's still a race between Matt Rosendale and myself.
Although I will tell you this, I think the President coming is a good thing. and I would like to see him get around and not just do rallies, but actually see some of the challenges we have in a rural state like Montana.
I mean he is from New York City. He could learn a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So Senator Tester getting a bit of a dig in there, saying the President is from New York City. He could learn a lot by traveling around Montana. But Fredricka, the President will be doing that. He'll be cutting here to an airport rally, staying here for just a brief period of time and then flying on to Florida. Of course, the Senate and governor's race there at stake.
But Fredricka -- you mentioned all the early votes that's come in. Here in Montana, it's even different. The majority of voters vote by mail. And some two-thirds of the ballots already in on both sides and even more will be in come Monday.
ZELENY: So you also have to ask, are these rallies now at the end of the race, you know, are they as effective as at the beginning because the majority of people have already voted? But of course, the President here will be rallying supporters again trying to knock off Jon Tester. We'll see on Tuesday if he is successful -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Right. We'll see if this kind of rally is influential. But then I remember the President saying he loves airports. He loves hangars. It is energizing and motivating. And if that's his primary objective, then perhaps that's what he's going to get at least today.
Jeff Zeleny -- thanks so much. We'll check back with you in Belgrade, Montana.
WHITFIELD: All right. Meantime, former president Barack Obama is in rare form on the trail, spending his time setting the record straight about his predecessor. He's punching back at President Trump on the economy and health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the Republicans start about look how great the economy is, where did you think that started? We created more jobs in my last 21 months than they created in the first 21 months. What are they talking about?
Suddenly they are saying that they're the ones who protect people with pre-existing conditions. They -- I want everybody to pay attention to this. They have literally been doing the opposite of what they're now saying. It is like calling us them, calling black white.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about all this. The sitting president and the predecessor going at it on the campaign trail.
Joining us right now CNN's politics congressional reporter Lauren Fox; David Swerdlick, assistant editor for the "Washington Post". Good to see you both.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. So David, you first. Unprecedented times we're in for these two presidents --
WHITFIELD: -- the sitting president and his predecessor going at it in the name of stumping for their party, but perhaps more unique, you know, the former president voraciously really trying to set the record straight. What's the tone that you're seeing here?
SWERDLICK: Yes. Good morning -- Fred. So I think President Obama is really trying to help Democrats drive their message home in the home stretch. There was a point during President Trump's first two years where a lot of commentators were saying hey, where is President Obama. And the answer I think is he was saving it up for this final lap before the midterms.
President Trump's closing message is heavy on immigration. If you let Democrats take over even one house of Congress, they're going to let hordes of undocumented immigrants in. They had a message they liked a few weeks about Kavanaugh, about the economy. Now they really drilling down on immigration because they know it is a turnout election.
Similarly, President Obama is coming out and saying hey, Democrats, we're not changing minds here, this is a turnout election. Either you vote or you don't. If you want to see change, if you don't like where Trump has taken the country, you've got to come out.
And that's why he is stumping in these races -- Florida, Georgia, you know, these are the key races that Democrats want to win.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And those are key states where history could potentially be made --
WHITFIELD: -- if those red states do turn blue. And so David -- really quick though, at what risk though for the predecessor to be campaigning especially in the style in which we're seeing Barack Obama campaign right now?
SWERDLICK: You know, Fred -- I think there was a point when it might have been seen as a risk. You know, President Obama always polarizes people. He drives up Democratic turnout, and also probably it's like bulletin board material for Republicans for President Trump to say hey, there's Obama again, vote for Republicans. You didn't like him before, you don't like him now.
But I think we're at a point here where the calculation for President Obama and for Democrats is that President Obama is still the best retail politician on the planet, even if you don't agree with him on every single issue. And what's who they want out there in these final days of the midterms to signal to Democrats that this is serious business. WHITFIELD: And then Lauren -- perhaps even reminiscent of the runup
to the election of 2008, you saw Oprah Winfrey who was stumping for Barack Obama. The President becomes -- President Obama becomes president.
And now you see Oprah, even though she made it very clear I'm not testing the waters, I'm not running for anything. But she spent some time in Georgia, you know, trying to encourage people to vote in a state that could make history potentially with the first, you know, black governor in Stacey Abrams.
Listen to Oprah Winfrey while in Atlanta -- in Marietta, rather -- yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: We, as women people need to stand united and vote our values. Vote your values. Vote your conscience. All this noise, all the noise, you just can't get away from it. You turn on the TV, it is so much noise and crazy talk. All the vitriol in the ads.
You know what, they're designed to confuse and confound you with fear. That's what they've done.
[11:25:13] They're designed to confound you with fear. They're not designed for people with discernment. Women, people -- we have discernment.
When we all united, I know for sure a change is going to come. So I am here today to support a change maker.
She's a woman who dared believe she could change the state of Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Lauren -- really two messages from, you know, Oprah there. She's talking about, you know, Stacey Abrams and she's also talking about the power of the vote. You make the difference and this is not the time to be apathetic. How impactful might that message be?
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's such a very interesting thing about her appearance in Georgia was that she was not overtly political. What she was talking about is go out to the polls, vote your conscience, vote how you want the country to be run.
And I thought that that was very significant because she is seen as potentially a polarizing figure. But she's really trying to kind of go back to her talk show roots and speak to women across the country. Whether you're Republican or a Democrat, it was hey ladies, go to the polls, vote how you want this country to be.
And I thought that that was the significant message that she made down in Georgia.
WHITFIELD: And so Lauren -- how is she potentially polarizing, Oprah Winfrey?
FOX: Well, I think that there was a question about whether or not she would run for president. You know, she was seen as being a big supporter of Barack Obama. He was a polarizing figure. He was someone who was seen as a change maker but also someone that Republicans vilified for several years that he was in office.
And so I think that she's trying to distance herself from the Republican or the Democratic Party. She's trying to say I am here because I am frustrated with the way things are. It has nothing to do with what party you're part of. It has everything to do with what you think the message of America is.
WHITFIELD: All right. And David -- let's talk strategy of the sitting president. You know, the latest jobs report is a victory for the President, and the real gift to the Republicans.
But listen to what Donald Trump told the crowd last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They all say speak about the economy, speak about the economy. Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy, right? Because we have a lot of other things to talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So then David -- why does he believe you know, caravan -- immigration, that's what sells, not the economy?
SWERDLICK: Yes, President Trump has an economic story to tell. Unemployment for two months in a row is at 3.7 percent. But I think the calculation that he has made is that he won in 2016 talking about wedge issues -- immigration key among them. And until he loses with that message, I think he is going to stick with it.
He knows his approval right now is at 44 percent. That's the same as it was on inauguration day. Until he is proven wrong, immigration I think he feels in a turnout election is where he is going to stay.
WHITFIELD: Is this the what do you have to lose kind of moment? Is that what we're hearing?
SWERDLICK: Well, I don't know that -- Fred. I just think that President Trump feels comfortable on this ground, and he's going to stick with it, throw in a little economy as well. But he wants to drive out his core supporters not to change minds on big issues that affect everybody.
WHITFIELD: All right. David Swerdlick, Lauren Fox -- good to see you both. Thanks so much. >
SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.
FOX: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, as the migrant caravan heads into Mexico towards the U.S., President Trump asked for thousands of troops on the U.S. border. Up next, why the Pentagon said no to a key part of his request.
[11:28:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
The Pentagon is refusing a Trump administration request for U.S. troops to take on law enforcement duties at the border with Mexico. CNN has learned the Pentagon rejected the request on October 26th even as it signed off on providing air, engineering and medical support. President Trump has requested as many as 15,000 active duty troops as a caravan of migrants works its way through Mexico heading to the U.S. border.
CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joining us now from the White House. So Sarah -- you know, using troops for domestic law enforcement is itself unlawful. Is that why the Pentagon refused this?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right -- Fred.
And CNN has learned that the Pentagon rejected part of that initial request from the Department of Homeland Security for troops to perform what Defense officials saw as law enforcement activities because as you mentioned, active duty troops are barred by law from enforcing domestic laws unless under specific emergency situation. That part of the DHS request for troops had to do with crowd and traffic control, according to the DHS. But Pentagon officials felt that that would have required troops to enforce those domestic laws.
Now while the Pentagon was rejecting that specific part of the DHS request, the DOD did approve other parts of the request to send troops in to support civil authorities -- people like engineers, people like air and logistics officials, people that needed support from those troops.
Now the President made waves earlier this week when he suggested that migrants who throw rocks at military service members at the border could be shot. He said he would advise military service members down at the border to consider thrown rocks as firearms.
[11:35:00] He tried to clean that up yesterday, telling reporters that he meant only that migrants who throw rocks at U.S. officials should be arrested, and of course, the whole reason this part of the request was rejected in the first place is because arresting migrants is illegal for troops to do in the first place.
But Fred, this is all coming as the President is trying to make his deployment of potentially thousands of troops to the border to defend the border against this caravan of Central American migrants a focus of his midterm message to GOP voters as he tries to inflame passions around immigration heading into Election Day. WHITFIELD: All right. So a partial defeat for the Trump
administration but not a complete defeat. They still are moving forward on at least a good part of that U.S. troops along the border plan.
All right. Sarah Westwood at the White House -- thank you so much.
All right. President Trump's former personal attorney and confidant is coming forward claiming Trump made shocking racist comments to him in private. Details next.
[11:35:57] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: New allegations of racism being leveled against President Donald Trump. His former attorney and long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, is speaking out about what he says were Trump's repeated use of racist language in personal conversations before he became president. CNN's MJ Lee has more.
MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen is once again unleashing on Donald Trump, his former boss, telling "Vanity Fair" in a new interview that in the years that he worked for Donald Trump he, on more than one occasion, saw him use chilling and racist language in their private conversations.
Here are three examples that are highlighted in the "Vanity Fair" interview. One in 2016, Michael Cohen says that the two men were discussing a Trump rally and that he remarked that the audience was mostly white. Michael Cohen goes on to say, "I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television, Trump responded 'That's because black people are too stupid to vote for me'."
In a second example in the story, Michael Cohen says that shortly after Nelson Mandela's death, Trump said to him "Name one country run by a black person that is not a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hole," and then added, "Name one city."
A third example, in the lays 2000s, Michael Cohen says that he was traveling with Donald Trump in Chicago. He says, "We were going from the airport to the hotel and we drove through what looked like a rougher neighborhood. Trump made a comment to me saying that only the blacks could live like this."
Now Michael Cohen says that his motivation for speaking out against Donald Trump in this way right now is that he feels like he knows that what Donald Trump says in private is actually worse than what he says in public, and that he wants voters to be equipped with this information as they head to the polls in midterms.
Now obviously, this is a very damning interview for Michael Cohen, and another sign of the complete 180 that he has done when it comes to his former boss Donald Trump. We know and we have reported over the last couple of weeks that Michael Cohen has changed his party registration from Republican back to Democrat. That he has an interest in campaigning now for the Democrats and against President Trump.
And last month when I caught up with Michael Cohen briefly in Manhattan, he basically said the voters need to go out and vote against Donald Trump, otherwise they're going to have two to six more years of craziness.
MJ Lee, CNN -- New York.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, one of the President's longtime former advisers, Roger Stone, is coming to Trump's defense. Earlier today Stone appeared on CNN to talk with Michael Smerconish and Stone claims he has never heard the President say anything racist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I have known him for 40 years I have never heard him say anything of the kind. I actually think his expectation for black voters was a little higher than perhaps expected because of his friendship with a number of black entertainers and athletes and rappers.
Although if you examine the results in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland he actually does run between 2 percent and 4 percent ahead of where Mitt Romney did. Now you mentioned --
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I know. But that's not what I'm asking. But that's not what I'm asking. Did you ever hear him use the n word?
STONE: Never. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
Look, Michael Cohen has become a tool of his new handlers, and this is a partisan attack. I have known Donald Trump for 40 years. I have never heard him make a racist comment. He had many African-American friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The White House is yet to comment on the allegations coming from Michael Cohen.
All right. Still ahead, Trump takes his closing midterm argument to Montana as he is set to hold a rally in just a couple of hours. Will his tough lines on immigration resonate in a state not along the southern border? What people there want to hear from the President, next.
[11:44:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. President Trump holding a rally in Montana this afternoon, part of the final push ahead of midterms. It's one of seven on his calendar between now and Monday evening.
And that's where Republican candidate Matt Rosendale is locked in a tight race with Democratic Senator Jon Tester. Tester is up by ten points in the latest University of Montana Big Sky poll.
It's important to remember that Trump and Tester have history. Trump called for Tester to resign after the senator refused to back Ronnie Jackson, Trump's pick to lead the Veteran's Affairs Department. Well, the President went after Tester just a couple of weeks ago, saying he would raise taxes and deliver quote, "mob rule".
[11:49:54] Well, I'm joined now by Sally Mauk, senior news analyst and former news director for Montana Public Radio. She's also part of a weekly political show focusing on issues of importance for Montana voters. Good to see you -- Sally.
All right. So the President is on his way to a rally in Belgrade, Montana. It is the fourth trip to Montana for the President since September. So what does that say about how hard Republicans are working to, you know, flip this seat?
SALLY MAUK, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST, MONTANA PUBLIC RADIO: Well, it says a lot. Four trips to Montana by a president is unheard of. We can go years without a presidential visit so this is kind of stunning to Montanans to have a president come four times within four months.
And I think it shows the depth of Trump's animosity toward Senator Tester and how much he wants to unseat the senator. It's a personal grudge he has with our senior senator and he's made no bones about that's exactly why he's coming. It's not so much -- sorry, go ahead.
WHITFIELD: No. I'll just say so how potentially persuasive is it for the President to campaign there?
MAUK: Well, it's persuasive in getting out his base. There's no question about that. He's drawing between 6,000 to 8,000 people at these rallies and that's a big rally for Montana. And it's definitely the people that go there or his arch supporters. How much it translates outside of that base and with moderate Republicans, Independent voters in Montana, that's the big question.
And I think a lot of voters see these visits as maybe a little too much that maybe he wants to unseat Tester as a personal grudge a little too much and we'll see how that plays out.
WHITFIELD: So during the President's trip to Missoula last month, the President, you know, tried to make immigration a central theme of his speech. Here's a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As you know I'm willing to send the military to defend our southern border if necessary. All caused because of the illegal immigration onslaught brought by the Democrats because they refuse to acknowledge or to change the laws. They like it. They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And you know, since he said that, the Pentagon already just yesterday saying, you know, they're not going to give the green light for U.S. troops to be used to help enforce any kind of, you know, domestic law. So given that, is immigration at all and even the President's point of view on it, is it going to sway voters at all in Montana?
MAUK: That's hard to say. I think part of his message on immigration is resonating with some Montanans. But we share a border with Canada, not with Mexico. So it's not as big of an issue here as it might be in some other states.
And I would also point out that Senator Tester has been endorsed by the National Council of Border Patrol Officers. And he is fairly strong on immigration issues and he's not someone I think that Montanans think of as being not strong on that issue.
So it's hard to say (INAUDIBLE) for sure but I don't think it's going to be the defining issue in this race by any means.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sally Mauk, thanks so much. Good to see you.
MAUK: Thank you. >
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, actor Alec Baldwin arrested after allegedly punching someone over a parking space. What Baldwin is saying about the allegations next.
[11:53:27] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Actor Alec Baldwin has had another run-in with the law. He was arrested and charged with assault and harassment following a dispute over a parking spot.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actor Alec Baldwin stayed quiet as walked out of a New York City precinct Friday. The actor largely known for his reoccurring SNL portrayal of President Trump was charged with assault and harassment. The NYPD alleging Baldwin punched a 49- year-old man during a fight over a parking spot.
This isn't the first time Baldwin finds himself in trouble with the law or making headlines. In 2014 Baldwin was arrested for bike riding on the wrong side of the road. The short-tempered actor has also been seen getting into scuffles with paparazzi.
Back in 2007, Baldwin was heard on a voice mail recording yelling insults at then-wife Kim Basinger and her daughter. ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: You are a rude, thoughtless, little pig. I
don't give a damn that you're 12 years old or 11 years old or that you're a child.
SANDOVAL: Baldwin's behavior has attracted criticism from conservatives. On Twitter former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took a sarcastic jab at Baldwin. The President' son Don Jr. calling Baldwin "a piece of garbage". Earlier this year, the President called Baldwin's impersonation of him "terrible and agony-inducing".
This time though a more measured response from the White House south lawn.
TRUMP: Who was arrested?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alec Baldwin. He punched somebody out during a parking dispute.
TRUMP: I wish him luck.
SANDOVAL: Friday evening, Baldwin took to Twitter denying the allegations calling them false. The actor wrote, "I realize that it has become a sport to tank people with as many negative charges and defaming allegations as possible for the purposes of click-bait entertainment. Fortunately, no matter how reverberating the echoes doesn't make the statements true.
Polo Sandoval, CNN -- New York.
WHITFIELD: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.
All right. Hello again everyone. And thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
The Jewish community remains in shock one week after 11 innocent lives were tragically taken inside a Pittsburgh synagogue. This morning, the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh came together to honor those victims with a pair of services. A private service for the congregation and another for all who are rallying around them.