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Attorney General Replaced Bu Mueller Probe Critic; Democrats Regain Control Of U.S. House; Trump Claims Credit for Republican Wins; Sources: North Korea Called Off Meeting With Pompeo; Record Number Of Women To Serve In Congress; Trump versus the Media; Woman Acquitted of Blasphemy Moved from Jail; France Honors Heroism of Louise de Bettignies; "Breaking Bad" Movie May Be in the Works. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 8, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, an end to perhaps the most awkward relationship in Washington. Donald Trump fires his much-maligned Attorney General replacing him with a man who made a T.V. career criticizing the Russia investigation.

A day after big loss in the Midterm Elections it was back to business as usual for the U.S. President and by that we mean attacking the media. Only now with renewed women vigor. And later freedom at last after a decade on death row. The Pakistani Christian woman who won an appeal against her death sentence of blasphemy still facing an uncertain future. Hello, thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm John Vause and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, that was pretty fast. Before Americans could even wrap their head around the results of the Midterm Elections, Donald Trump is already changing the narrative. So instead of talking about big Democratic wins, regaining control of the House of Representatives, the President shifted the focus to his Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is unceremoniously fired on Wednesday.

So now, in Washington, the buzz is all about the man who will replace him. Here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jeff Sessions resignation unfolded in true Trump fashion. Despite having coined the phrase you're fired on his hit show The Apprentice, President Trump actually had his Chief of Staff John Kelly do the dirty work. So it was just before the President scheduled press conference around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday when Chief of Staff John Kelly talked to Jeff Sessions and he told him the President wanted his resignation that day.

Well, Sessions asked to stay on until at least the end of the week but Kelley said a firm no. So really the President knew that this was all in the works when he avoided a reporter's question about Jeff Sessions fate around 12:20 p.m. And then, of course, less than two hours later, Sessions sent that letter and it said "Mr. President at your request I am submitting my resignation. So later that evening, Jeff Sessions departed the Justice Department to widespread applause. And now Matthew Whitaker is the Acting Attorney General.

But Whitaker is already facing backlash from Democrats set to take over the House and really that's because Whitaker will now be overseeing the Special Counsels Russia probe despite speaking out extensively against it before he became Jeff Sessions Chief of Staff last October. It was throughout 2017 that Whitaker made the media rounds including right here on CNN. And in those media rounds, he denounced Mueller's probe saying that Mueller was getting close to crossing a red line and also that it could be considered a witch-hunt.

And we're told that in those media appearances, Whitaker was actually encouraged to speak source fully to get the President's attention and of course he did. Whitaker will now be acting Attorney General and if his past comments are any indication, he really could hamper Mueller's probe by cutting off the cache because Matthew Whitaker told Don Lemon in July 2017 that it was his guess that anyone who replaced Jeff Sessions might reduce the special counsels budget and make the investigation grind to a halt.

And of course, those are ominous words now that Whitaker is now in charge of the Russia probe as Acting Attorney General. Jessica Schneider, CNN Washington.


VAUSE: Joining me now from Los Angeles former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Katz. David, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: Yes, normally if the President fires his Attorney General or the Attorney General quits, the already Senate confirmed Deputy Attorney General would take over, that would be Rob Rosenstein, instead we've got this guy Matt Whitaker, a virtual nobody. Before he was working at the DOJ, he'd made this career criticizing the Mueller probe on television like here on CNN last year. Listen to this.


MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: You can see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that Attorney General doesn't fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget so low that his investigation grinds to it absolutely almost in halt.


VAUSE: Nice plan, just laid out there in full. So do you see the timing here, the appointment of Whitaker as an offensive move by the President to get ahead of the Democrats being sworn into office and taking over the House?

KATZ: Well, I do see it as offensive. I see him as trying to grab the initiative. But this particular move -- you have a great -- CNN has a great journalistic scoop. You have the reason to accuse him right on tape this is not an investigation that he should head given that he's made those statements. Moreover, the firing of Sessions may be an act of obstruction of justice just like the firing of Comey would probably be one of the counts of obstruction of justice. And this man Whitaker would seem as the Chief of Staff to Sessions to know a lot about it to be a percipient witness.

So both because he's a likely witness to one of the alleged acts of obstruction of justice and because he made derogatory comments talking about defunding the Mueller investigation and otherwise impeding it he is utterly unfit. And I think even the Republicans in the Senate will come around to seeing that he's unfit. Collins has already said so, Senator -- new Senator Romney has made a very strong statement that it's imperative that the Mueller investigation not be impeded. And of course the Democrats when they get control on I think it's January 3rd of the House, they'll be all over this, John.

[01:05:39] VAUSE: OK. So let's just have a little bit more of the punditry with -- which Mr. Whitaker offered up here on CNN. He defended that decision by Donald Trump Jr. to take that meeting at Trump Tower with pretty much every Russian who happened to be passing through New York on that particular day including a Kremlin-linked lawyer who was promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Here's Mr. Whitaker again.


WHITAKER: You would always take that meeting. You would have somebody from your campaign take the meeting to try to get information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would always take that meeting so -- would you take that meeting when you're that high up two weeks after your father was just nominated with someone that you claim to not even know? I mean would you really take that meeting because speaking to other people on our panel, they said that's not something that's typically?

WHITAKER: If -- you know, if you have -- if you have somebody that you trust that is saying you need to meet with this individual because they have information about your opponent, you would take that meeting.


VAUSE: Even the language is the same language that the Trumps were using at the time. And the Trump Tower meeting is believed to be focal point of the Mueller investigation so you've got the guy here who's now in charge of the Mueller investigation who thinks a big focal point of this investigation is very big deal.

KATZ: Well, it's absolutely clear under American Campaign Finance Law that you c nnot take money or even in-kind help from a foreign power. Donald Trump Jr. knew that this meeting was going to be with a foreign power. Why do we know that? We know because he received an e-mail which said you're going to get help from the Russian government. We have dirt on Hillary Clinton. He said an e-mail response, Donald Trump Jr. did, let's have the meeting. If you have what you say you have, that would be great.

And one of the great things about the House and the rule of law now that the House is Democratic is they're actually going to subpoena people like Don Trump Jr. They're going to subpoena people like Kushner who were at that meeting and not take the answer, oh well I'd like to answer off the record, I'd like to answer somewhere else, I'd like to not provide documents. They'll have the power to subpoena documents from people like Don Trump Jr., like Kushner, the son-in- law, and they'll also demand that they come to public hearings.

I expect there's going to be a House hearing with both Kushner and with Trump Jr. in the -- in the coming year.

VAUSE: So given what we've heard, basically we've heard Whitaker outlining a plan to essentially not yet end the Mueller investigation but strangle the resources making it ineffective. We then heard him saying that a key focal point of Mueller investigation is no big deal. Wouldn't the Department Justices then be offering up you know, advice to this incoming acting head saying you know, much like they did for Sessions you need to recuse yourself from all things Russia and that's what Sessions did? But Whitaker is probably unlikely to do that, what are the implications if he doesn't follow that advice.

KATZ: Whitaker seems very unlikely to do that. With all due respect, it seems like that's exactly why Trump picked him because I have a lot of differences on policy with Sessions. He was kind of a type of a hanging judge, you know hanging Attorney General, always wanting the maximum sentence and the maximum of charges from prosecutors. He was anti-immigrant, he was anti our marijuana laws here in California, but he was an honorable man. He recused himself and after he threw himself at Donald Trump during the campaign, how did the honeymoon end? The honeymoon ended because Sessions did have the respect for the law to not allow political interference. He did not charge Hillary Clinton with the far right demanding that Hillary Clinton be investigated a year, a year-and-a-half after the campaign and he did have a fair recusal which left Rosenstein the Deputy Attorney General to handle the matter.

If sanity prevails, if the rule of law prevails in this country, Rosenstein will continue to manage the investigation not strangle the investigation of resources, not cripple it by underfunding it, also not tell Mueller you can't do this and you can't do that. You know Mueller will make a very good record and history will know what this man Whitaker tells Mueller to do. It won't be hidden for all time. It will be known and Whittaker needs to think about that before he does something with Mueller. On top of that let me mention one last thing, the report.

The report is a critical thing Mueller is going to make a report. And with the Republicans in charge of everything, there was a fear that that report would get deep-sixed buried, no action would be taken. Now that report will be disclosed, it won't be sealed, if they try to seal it, the Democratic House come January we'll make sure it gets unsealed and the public knows what is in the Mueller report and what Mueller found out.

[01:10:20] VAUSE: OK, David there is a lot in this story. I think we've just barely scratched the surface but it was a good scratch. So thanks for being with us.

KATZ: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: The Washington Post reports Whitaker is unlikely to be nominated for the Attorney General's job permanently. But when Donald Trump does decide on a replacement for Jeff Sessions, the confirmation process is now a whole lot easier not only because of Republican gains in the Senate but those new incoming Senators as candidates embraced the president and the way Donald Trump sees it, that means they owe him bigly. As for those Republicans who ran but kept their distance, the President danced on their political graves.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had some that decided to -- let's stay away, let's stay away, they did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad.

Those are some of the people that you know decided for their own reason not to embrace whether it's me or what we stand for.


VAUSE: And while the President's strategy of stoking racial fears and exploiting divisions worked to shore up the Senate, it was not without cost both politically and to the country. Larry Sabato is Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He joins us now from Charlottesville. Good to see you, Larry.


VAUSE: Let's start with the one big sort of shining bright spot for the President, the Republican gains in the Senate. He reassembled his base in the red states. He knocked those on very vulnerable Democrats. Maybe the Democrat Senators shouldn't have been there in the first place. Even so it would suggest that you know, Donald Trump now feels kind of emboldened with this victory under his belt, at least emboldened enough to fire his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for about 13 hours after the last polls closed on Tuesday.

SABATO: Well, I thought it was very kind of President Trump. He left Sessions have one last breakfast over there at the Justice Department so I think that was very pleasant. Look, is anybody surprised? Is this a break from Trump's precedent? The fact that he can call what happened on Tuesday 8:00 a near total victory suggests a disconnect with reality. But we've seen it so often and it's so normalized, it's disturbing.

VAUSE: Yes, look -- and with that in mind, here's how the President at least publicly states how he sees the next two years ahead with Democrats now controlling the House. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I really believe that we have a chance to get along very well with the Democrats and if that's the case, we can do a tremendous amount of legislation and get it approved.

I really believe there's going to be much less gridlock.


VAUSE: Is there anyone including the President who actually believes that?

SABATO: I think he can -- he can fool himself for at least 48 hours. I'll be surprised at that sentiment last through the weekend if you follow his Twitter account. Look, it's lunacy. Of course, there's going to be gridlock. There is no possible way for the Democratic leadership to work with Donald Trump on his priorities because they're directly opposed to the Democratic Party's priorities and the Democratic base would go after the leadership if they ever did it.

VAUSE: Yes. And you know, during that same very contentious news conference, Donald Trump had no shortage of praise for Donald Trump. Here he is.


TRUMP: This vigorous campaign except the blue wave that they talked about, I don't know if there ever was such a thing but could have been if we didn't do the campaigning probably there could have been. And the history really will see what a good job we did in the final couple of weeks in terms of getting some tremendous people over the finish line.


VAUSE: In terms of votes though, the Democrats did better on Tuesday than the Tea Party wave of 2010 which came out against Barack Obama. But here, the Democrats will pick up what about 30 seats in the House compared to 2010 when the Tea Party Republicans had a gain of more than 60 seats. So how do you explain that? Does this just come down to gerrymandering?

SABATO: Part of it is gerrymandering, maybe about half of it. The other half is that Democrats are much more highly concentrated in a smaller number of districts not just because of gerrymandering but because large communities for example of minorities or young people at college tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic and it's very difficult to split them up into different districts. Republicans have more economically distributed their voters almost by accident. But what's really important here is to keep this in perspective.

Republicans lost in our view at least in my shop, we think it's going to be 34, 35 seats once all the seats have been allocated in the recount is done. That is the most seats Republicans have lost in a midterm since the disastrous Watergate election for the Republicans in 1974. That was a long time ago. Unfortunately, I remember it, but it was a long time ago.

[01:15:33] VAUSE: Yes. And there were a lot of similarities right now with that time. I'm just curious though. If you look at the strategy that the president played here -- you know, in the last few final weeks of the midterms. We surprised that there was still such a large number of Americans who are willing to go out and vote and support a president who blatantly lied, made outrageous racist and bigoted statements. A man who had the backing of the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

SABATO: Well, I'm surprised and I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised because as we pointed out a million times before Election Day, the Senate was being contested on very different ground than the House of Representatives.

The House was more representative of the American population. Though as you pointed out, Democrats did much better in votes than they did in the seat.

But in the Senate, the key contest, for the most part, we're in red states, deeply red Republican states. And that's where Trump campaigned. And personally, I think he was willing to sacrifice the House and did sacrifice the House in order to save the Senate.

So, all those things he said in rallies that -- you know, people in North Dakota and Indiana and Missouri just loved that was a turn-off to the suburban House districts that switched from Republican to Democratic.

VAUSE: You know, this was -- you know, considered a very tough Senate election year for the Democrats. Will Republicans face that same uphill battle in two years' time so could look at these gains that they've made on Tuesday. Could they be fleeting if you like?

SABATO: We've taken a good look at the seats up in 2020, and you never know if there's a recession or an unpopular war or some awful thing like that. It might make it more difficult for the Republicans.

But I have to tell you, there are only a few obvious seats that could switch, and one of them is a democratic seat. Doug Jones in Alabama, probably, Cory Gardner, a Republican Senator from Colorado which has become a very blue state that could switch.

But I'm hard pressed to see many seats that can switch because our states now, the vast majority of them are either deeply red or deeply blue.

VAUSE: Yes, and many places getting bluer and redder and I guess that's the trend which we've been seeing for a while now. Larry, thank you so much for giving your perspective for us.

SABATO: Thank you, John. I enjoyed it.

VAUSE: CNN has learned North Korea canceled a meeting scheduled for Thursday in New York with the U.S. Secretary of State. No official explanation was given. And while the U.S. president blamed the scheduling conflict, sources tell CNN talks at Pyongyang are deadlocked over ongoing U.S. sanctions. We have more now from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was supposed to be a crucial meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one of Kim Jong- un's most trusted aides Kim Yong-chol to lay the groundwork for another summit between Kim and President Trump.

But very abruptly, as midterm election results were coming in the State Department announced that meeting scheduled for Thursday in New York was postponed with no explanation.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: They're trying to bury the news as much as they can and announcing it on election eve when people are focused elsewhere is one way to distract attention from their failure to achieve a genuine breakthrough.

TODD: The president played down the drama, but didn't offer much of an explanation himself.

TRUMP: They're going to change it because of trips that are being made. We're going to make it another date. But we're very happy how it's going with North Korea. We think is going fine, we're no rush.

TODD: The State Department now calls it simply a scheduling issue. But two diplomatic sources tell CNN, this postponement was clearly a signal that North Korea has not been willing to cooperate with the Trump team's expectations in getting Kim to dismantle his nuclear weapon's arsenal.

LISA COLLINS, FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think the expectations that the U.S. has are that the North Koreans will open up the country to international inspectors on the ground.

TODD: Sources tell CNN, the North Koreans are looking for the U.S. to offer something themselves. Like an easing of sanctions against the regime before moving this process forward. The Trump administration is not budging, saying, no sanctions relief until Kim offers solid proof that he's dismantling his nuclear arsenal.

Is there any path forward here?

COLLINS: Well, I mean, I think the momentum for these negotiations has been slowing for several months. What we see ahead is real grind between the United States and North Korea.

[01:20:01] TODD: Could Kim's point man with Pompeo have something to do with this diplomatic impasse? Kim Yong-chol is known as a henchman for the dictator. A former spy chief who masterminded high-profile attacks on South Korea, who had a big hand in North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures, and is so arrogant and ruthless as a negotiator that according to North Korea leadership watch, he once told South Korean diplomats, "Do you have another briefcase with you? Maybe you have another briefcase of proposals." BOOT: But remember, this is truly one-man rule in North Korea. Kim Jong-un calls the shots you can't possibly imagine that Kim Yong-chol or any other subordinate is going to cancel a meeting with Mike Pompeo without the say-so of the Supreme Leaders.

TODD: President Trump, says there still will likely be a second summit with Kim early next year. Analysts say that probably will happen because both Trump and Kim love the optics of it. But experts warn if there's a second summit, and we don't see progress toward a legitimate nuclear deal, the next year could be the year that we see both sides going back to the insults, the threats, and the talk of possible military action that we saw before. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: When we come back, it was tonight when more than 100 women shattered the glass ceiling in the U.S. politics. While others reshape the political landscape like never before.

Also, it was a level-five meltdown by the U.S. president, yelling abuse at reporters at time for fusing to answer their questions, claiming other questions racist and insulting. So, is back to business for Donald Trump the day after the midterm elections.


VAUSE: Elections of the U.S. often swinging like a pendulum from embrace to rebuke. The cerebral Vulcan-like Barack Obama, a rebuke of the frat-boy shoot-from-the-hip George W. Bush.

Eight years before that, W. Bush was seen as a grown-up, a compassionate conservative. The antidote to the freewheeling always close to the wind depends on what the definition of is, is Bill Clinton.

And it seems the 2018 midterms were a review to Donald Trump on a personal level. The response to what many consider his blatant misogyny was a record number of women elected to Congress. More than 100 mostly Democrats.

Trump has repeatedly used a racial slur to deride Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her claim to Native American heritage. So, for the first time, two Native American women have been voted into office. Sharice Davids of Kansas, and Deb Haaland of New Mexico.

And they'll be joined by the first Muslim women in the House, as well. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. And Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland is with us now from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Congratulations on what is an incredible historic milestone for Native Americans, which only took what? 229 years.

[01:25:27] REP. DEB HAALAND (D), NEW MEXICO: Yes, yes. I am thrilled. Thank you so much. We worked super hard. I am -- I am not the first, neither Sharise nor I, are the first Native women to run for Congress were the first to wins, we are both thrilled.

VAUSE: Yes. It is at when which is took so incredibly long to get to. So, I'd like to play part of your victory speech from Tuesday night. Here it is.


HAALAND: Growing up in my mother's pueblo household and as a 35- generation New Mexican. I never imagined the world where I would be represented by someone who looks like me.

Tonight, New Mexico you are sending one of the very first Native American women to Congress.


VAUSE: OK. So, if you look at the number of firsts from Tuesday night, including the record number of women who won first. In a way to the American voters cross the Rubicon?

HAALAND: Yes, I think that more and more women will run now that they see themselves in this body of our government. And I think more women will run, more women will win.

I, as the first Native American woman in Congress, I intend to keep the ladder down so that I can encourage other Native women to climb up.

VAUSE: Yes, and how much of this moment is being driven as a counter- response to the words and the actions of the current U.S. president?

HAALAND: Well, I think, yes. I think many, many women who ran this time around were inspired by the women's march, they were inspired by a number of things -- you know, there are -- there are children suffering from gun violence. And -- you know, their communities being disenfranchised from voting.

There's a lot of reasons why women of color are running for office. There's a several reasons why they're winning, and mainly because they're all working extremely hard to know what's at stake in this era -- in this political era. So, I joined. I felt that our voice needed to be heard and that's why I ran.

VAUSE: Yes, because it does seem that this is a president who in any way seems determined to roll back the -- you know the progress and the gains which would be made over the years when it comes to minorities. Especially to minorities, as well as women.

HAALAND: Absolutely. Well, we can just look at the voting rights issues that happen across the country this time around. In North Dakota, disenfranchising Native Americans. In Georgia, disenfranchising African Americans and other people of color. And also in Kansas, in that -- in that small town. We all -- you know, it's terrible that the Republicans have to do that in order to win.

VAUSE: Well, Democrat leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, she was asked about the record-breaking number of women who will be seated in the next Congress, and what role they will all play. This is her answer.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Now, we have more women coming in, will we have more emphasis on things like child care and this or that? We have a big emphasis on that, and we need to make it stronger in the majority. I want women to not just be talking about those issues because we view every issue as a women's issue. We believe the national security of our country is a woman's issue, the economic security of our country.


VAUSE: And really, the same could be said for -- you know, what you basically campaigned on you. These are issues which is not issues unique to Native American. She promised to fight climate change when you get to Congress.

HAALAND: Absolutely. Well, why do we don't have much time left? It's -- this is the issue of our time. And, you know, a lot of folks have mentioned to me that it's not -- that's not an issue that a lot of folks are campaigning on but, but I am. I'm a lifelong environmentalist.

New Mexico has over 310 days of Sun per year. We should be a leader in renewable energy because I think it can create a lot of jobs and be really good for our economy. So --


VAUSE: Very quickly. I almost out of time. So, Congresswoman-elect, I just want to ask you, how do you see Congress benefiting from being more diverse and from hearing people like yourself on these big challenges these issues which -- you know, affect everybody?

HAALAND: Absolutely. Well, look, we, there, all these women the women of color, the -- and it -- you know the women who were coming into office now, they all have different backgrounds. They, you know, they come from different parts of the country.


HAALAND: They have different experiences to go to Congress and share.

And I just truly believe that representation matters, that diversity matters. We need all of our voices at the table to solve the issues of our time. So I have full faith that women will be right there making the change we need for this country.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I wish you the best of luck.

HAALAND: Thank you.

VAUSE: Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland -- thank you so much and good luck.

HAALAND: Ok. Thanks.

VAUSE: If there's one big take away the day after the U.S. midterm elections, it is this.

Someone's cranky. Donald Trump's usual attack on reporters hit a new level of anger and nasty. All the details when we return.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Donald Trump has fired his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The U.S. President has been at odds with Sessions ever since he recused himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a vocal critic of that investigation has been named acting attorney general.

CNN has learned a high-level meeting set for Thursday between senior U.S. and North Korea officials was abruptly called off by North Korea without explanation. The talks were meant to pave the way for a second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un but sources say those negotiations are deadlocked. Mr. Trump however brushed it all off, saying his administration is in no rush to make a deal with Pyongyang.

Boeing has issued a new operational manual to airlines in the wake of last month's Lion Air flight disaster. The new manual explains how to address erroneous cockpit readings. The Lion Air flight, a Boeing 737 Max 8 had a malfunctioning airspeed indicator at the time of the crash, according to investigators.

Well, just hours after his party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm elections, President Donald Trump faced reporters at the White House. He mocked defeated Republicans, warned House Democrats about investigating him or his family and lashed out big league at the press corps.

Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A news conference that was expected to be a victory lap for President Trump instead descended into chaos. While the President played coy and didn't tip his hand on his decision to fire Attorney General Sessions --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're looking at different people for different positions, you know, it's very common after the midterms.

[01:35:03] ACOSTA: -- he was sounding off in nearly every other direction. Asked about Democrats riding the midterms into power in the House of Representative, Mr. Trump bristled at the notion he will be under a slew of investigations, warning he will retaliate.

TRUMP: They can play that game but we can play it better because we have a thing called the United States Senate. And a lot of very questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place. And all you're going to do is end up in back and forth.

ACOSTA: The President tried to sidestep what could be the biggest worry for the White House that Democrats will demand to see his tax returns.

TRUMP: I'm on a very continuous order (ph) because there're so many companies. And it is a very big company -- far bigger than you would even understand. But -- it is a great company. But it is big. And it's complex. And it is probably feet high.

It is a very complex instrument. And I think that people wouldn't understand it.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump was clearly taking the election returns personally slapping at House Republicans who decided to stir clear of the President and lost.

TRUMP: Mia Love gave me no love and she lost -- too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. And Barbara Comstock was another one. I mean I think she could have won that race but she didn't want to have any embrace.

ACOSTA: Then Mr. Trump started taking swipes at journalists over questions about his false claim during the campaign that a migrant invasion was under on the border.

(on camera): They're hundreds of miles away, though. They're hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That's not an invasion.

TRUMP: You know what. Honestly -- I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN.

ACOSTA: All right.

TRUMP: And if you did it well, your rating would be much --


ACOSTA: But let me ask -- if I may ask one other question.

Mr. President -- if I may ask one other question. Are you worried --

TRUMP: That's enough. That's enough. That's enough.

ACOSTA: Mr. President, I was going to ask one other -- the other folks.

TRUMP: That's enough. ACOSTA: Pardon me, ma'am. Mr. President --

TRUMP: That's enough.

ACOSTA (voice over): Despite the pipe bomb sent to CNN and other Democratic politicians, the President returned to his favorite insults for the media.

TRUMP: Just sit down please.


TRUMP: When you report fake news -- no, when you report fake news which CNN does a lot, you're the enemy of the people.

ACOSTA: The President also lashed out at reporters who simply asked why he considers himself a nationalist.

TRUMP: Why do I have among the highest poll numbers with African- Americans? I mean why do I have my highest poll numbers -- that's such a racist question. Honestly, I mean I know you have it written down and you're going to tell me. Let me tell you, it's a racist question.

ACOSTA: And whether Mr. Trump is in fact a racist.

TRUMP: I don't use racist remarks. And you know what, if I did, you people -- you would have known about it. I've been hearing your tapes for years and years of your tapes. Number one, I never worried about it because I never did -- I never used racist remarks. I have never used racist remarks.


VAUSE: Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and "L.A. Times" columnist Michael Hiltzik is with us now from Los Angeles.

Michael, Michael, Michael -- ok, when all of this began --


VAUSE: -- it just seemed like a garden variety, sleepy Donald Trump statement, you hear the President reading words badly from a teleprompter but then came the meltdown. Here's a little bit more of it.

This is what happened when Peter Alexander with NBC News tried to defend Jim Acosta. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Peter -- go ahead.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In Jim's defense, I've traveled with him in Washington. He's a diligent reporter who --

TRUMP: Well, I'm not a big fan of yours either.


VAUSE: Ok. So were any question, were any of actions of the reporters out of line? You know, I've always been taken back at how deferential these presidential news conferences are compared to other countries like, you know, Australia and Britain.

HILTZIK: Well, I agree with you. I've been at press conferences all over the world. They -- they don't take no for an answer. They don't take prisoners.

I think you're right. This press corps has been far too deferential. They let Trump sort of run with the bit in his teeth. I think -- if there's anything encouraging by this -- from this display today it is that maybe the White House press corps is going to show more spine going forward.

But I think what we really saw is -- Donald Trump as the quintessential projector. He -- he projects his faults on other people and he call reporters rude and he does it rudely. He has embraced racism. He's been embraced by racists. And when he's asked about it he labels the question racist.

I think basically he's trying to invest (ph) the people who are doing their jobs by questioning him with all of his absolutely worst faults. And there are more of them than we know how to count.

VAUSE: Yes. Amid the yelling and the demands for reporters to sit down -- there was this exchange between the President and a reporter from Japan. Listen to this.


[01:39:58] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how do you focus on the economy?

TRUMP: Where are you from please.


TRUMP: Say hello to Shinzo.


TRUMP: I'm sure he's happy about tariffs of those cars.

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) How do you focus on the trade commensurate with Japan? Will you ask Japan to do more like (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I don't -- I really don't understand --

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And he did that again to another reporter I think from somewhere in Latin America. But is he trying to bait reporters into a conflict here? Is he trying to put us in a position of being the real opposition that he really wants us to be?

HILTZIK: Well, I think that maybe part of what motivated this meltdown and this display that he wanted to -- he wanted the reporters to come back at him as impolitely as he treated them.

I think to Jim Acosta's credit and Peter Alexander and April Ryan, who got baited as well -- I think they handled it very well, very politely, with a great deal of dignity because they were being faced with a schoolyard bully and essentially somebody who acts like an 8- year-old.

And I have to say, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better because he really is acting as though he's got his back against the wall. He's got two months left before Democrats actually take power in the House of Representatives and really start investigating him for all of the wrongdoing that has been going on. The lavish, lavish criminality that has been in this administration, up until now.

VAUSE: Yes. He threatened to retaliate against Democrats if they tried to investigate his administration, you know, which is a blatant abuse of power. And this is what he said.


TRUMP: But they can play that game but we can play it better because we have a thing called the United States Senate.


VAUSE: You know -- then it got really weird with Trump suggesting he has this secret plan to solve the whole abortion debate in the country. Again, this is what he said.


TRUMP: I won't be able to explain that to you because it is an issue that is a very divisive, polarizing issue but there is a solution. I think I have that solution and nobody else does.


VAUSE: If the President gets this unhinged, this abusive, this loony- tune after a few tough questions, you know, from the press corps, how would he react when the Democrats in the House use their new subpoena power to go after his tax returns, his family, you know, his business records.

HILTZIK: Well, I don't think it is going to be very pretty. And just, you know, as an aside, for him to think that the U.S. Senate is going to investigate the House of Representatives, I think -- you know, somebody has to sit him down and counsel him about how our government works and how -- the three branches of government work because he clearly has no idea what he's talking about.

VAUSE: It would not be the first time.

We did hear from a Republican senator and the President's new best friend, Lindsey Graham. He tweeted this out, "It's apparent to me that White House press corps lives in a bubble. And the way they're conducting themselves today will do nothing to improve their standing with the American people."

You know, p politicians attacking the media, that's always been seen as a win-win -- is that still the case here with Trump's news coverage? Will reporters be the one who come off second best? Or did the President just simply go way too far this time?

HILTZIK: You know, I don't think that -- that politicians denigrating reporters has been a win -- necessarily been a win for them all the time. I mean we just need to go back to Richard Nixon who played the same game. He wasn't quite as rude and childish as Trump although he was pretty rude and childish himself.

He did not win that battle. He -- it did not make him better. It did not raise the esteem that was felt by the American public. It lowered it.

I think you are going to see the same thing with Trump. And I think we have seen that already. I think if you look at the results from Tuesday's election, it is plain that -- that a lot of -- the voters who Trump thought were in his base are -- disgusted with him and voted against him in great numbers.

This was a massive win for Democrats in terms of the seats they gained in the House of Representatives. So I think -- I think -- somewhere deep down he's aware of that and that's what he's reacting to for all the persiflage that he uttered today about how it was a great night for him. And he's celebrating a victory.

That's just wrong that swears (ph) at common sense, it swears (ph) at the fact. And I think he knows it. And I think he knows he is going to face a really tough two years with the Democrats in power in the House of Representatives -- in the House of Representatives.

[01:45:03] And that is what we're going to see. And as I said we're going to see more of it and then it's going to get worse before it gets better if it ever gets better.

VAUSE: Well yes. The coddled presidency of Donald Trump has come to an end at least when January hit.

So Michael -- as always, great to see you. Thank you.

HILTZIK: Happy to be here.

VAUSE: Well, the Pakistani Christian woman whose death sentence was overturned is finally free from prison but now Asia Bibi is facing an uncertain future as well as threats on her life. A live report on that story when we come back.


VAUSE: 78 children kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon have been released. A military spokesman claims the hostage takers are Anglophone separatist fighters calling for independence from Cameroon's French-speaking majority government.


GEMON DAMIANUS, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED CHILD: War is (INAUDIBLE). That was not enough to defend and fight that I went when I let off. They have been kidnapped.

SIMEYA PRISCALINE, AUNT OF KIDNAPPED CHILD: You can imagine the stress that we've gone through for these past two days. It has been horrible. We have spent sleepless nights. We thanks the Almighty God. That's the way -- safe and sound.


VAUSE: Two children are still being held hostage with their principal and a teacher. A school official says the children's parents are high-ranking members of the government.

A Christian woman in Pakistan is now free from jail a week after her death sentence is overturned. But her safety is still far from certain. Intelligence sources say Asia Bibi has been moved to an undisclosed location.

She spent eight years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy. She won her appeal last week but has been kept in prison because she was facing threats from hard line Islamists angered by her acquittal.

CNN's Sophia Saifi joins us now, live from Islamabad. So Safire -- what exactly do we know about, you know, her future, where she is, how they intend to deal with the, you know, the issue simply of her safety?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John -- there is a bit of confusion here on the ground in local media concerning, you know, where Asia Bibi is. I mean we have to take into consideration that there are lots of extreme right-wing groups out for her death, you know, to kill her basically.

[01:49:51] Because of that reason late last night, we found out that the jail cell where she'd been kept for the past eight years on death row which had then become into a safe house because there had been so many protests that the country and state could not really confirm that they could keep her safe.

That safe house -- she has now left that safe house. She's been moved to an undisclosed location and the confusion arises as whether she's still in the country or not.

Now the question is, is that the TLP which is the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a right-wing Islamist group which shut down the country for three long days after Asia's acquittal have said that, you know, they're going to be sending in a petition to the Supreme Court preventing Asia from leaving the country, putting her on that exit control list which is Pakistan's no-fly list.

Legally Asia is not on that list. But there is a petition in the works to put her on that list. There are also the consequences of the government flying her out of the country. There have been lots of western countries who kind of clamored for, you know, wanting to help her to get out, wanting to provide her asylum.

But because of the many security issues around the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, considering that, you know, if anyone talks against blasphemy laws even their liable to be killed. There is a lot of sensitivity around not just Asia Bibi. Her lawyer fled to the Netherlands last week leaving her in the lurch for his own safety. He took his family with him.

And you know, there is a lot of confusion. The foreign office is claiming that she is very much in the country. You know, there's been a lot of different reports coming in. But the Pakistani government is still saying that she's still very much in Pakistan but in an undisclosed location -- John.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) much in danger at least for the time being.

Sophia -- thank you. We appreciate you're safe (ph). Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War. The people who fought in that conflict are gone but they're not forgotten. A young French woman is being remembered for her bravery as part of the French resistance.

CNN's Melissa Bell has her story.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Louise de Bettignies was just a young French girl from an upper class family until the outbreak of World War I -- a war that would make her a hero.

HENRI CLAUD DE BETTIGNIES, GREAT NEPHEW OF LOUISE DE BETTIGNIES: There was a sense that -- this war was a disaster for everyone and she needed to try to contribute and to use her personality and her experience in different countries and the language and so forth and to service against the Germans.

BELL: At just 34, Louise posing as a peddler and using the name Alice Dubois began working for the British, spying on German positions and troop movements in northern France and passing crucial knowledge on the Allies, sometimes in the form of messages hidden inside toys and chocolate bars.

Louise de Bettignies became known as the Joan of Arc of the North. And it is in the northern French city of Lille that she is best remembered with streets signs, plaques, schools and memorials like this one. It was after Lille fell that Louise began running her network of


(on camera): Passing the message on to the British. One of her very last communications just before her capture by Germans warned of a massive offensive that was being planned at Verdun.

(voice over): The French military refused to believe it and just 16 months after taking Lille, the Germans kicked off one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

DE BETTIGNIES: The kept my city to (INAUDIBLE) danger and the willingness to risk her life because she knew that she would be caught. There were times she got into very sticky situations and managed to escape.

BELL: But Louise was caught, according to her biographers, swallowing her final message before being locked away. Louise died in a German prison just before the end of the war although she was never forgotten.

(INAUDIBLE) The Supreme Allied Commander visited her memorial several years later to remember the heroism that had made such a difference. And more recently veterans marking the centennial of the end of the Great War did the same.

DE BETTIGNIES: The family is (INAUDIBLE) and would like the children to remember that if you are committed to an idea or committed to a direction and you follow it, you can achieve great things. And it is thanks to people like her that maybe would things did happen at the end and we had this armistice.

BELL: An armistice now being remembered 100 years on along with the sacrifices made by people like Louise de Bettignies for the allied cause and in the name of peace.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.


VAUSE: And we're back right after this.


VAUSE: Well in China there are disturbing reports about employees at one company being whipped, forced to drink urine, and eat insects for failing to meet their sales targets.

CNN has not independently confirmed the story or what these images actually show but the official newspaper, the communist party, the "People's Daily" reports employees at this renovation company were subjected to these humiliating punishments. Three managers have reportedly been jailed after the video was widely shared on Chinese social media.

And now some breaking news about "Breaking Bad". The acclaimed TV drama ended its five-season run in 2013. Best television series ever made with the death of its lead character, a teacher turned meth dealer Walter White. So that was the end of it or was it?


BRYAN CRANSTON, ACTOR: We're done when I say we're done.


VAUSE: It turns out "Breaking Bad" will be back. The "Hollywood Reporter" says the show's creator Vince Gilligan is writing a spin-off film version and might actually direct it as well. No word yet on the plot, which characters will be back, or it will air on television or actually make a debut in the theaters. Filming expected to begin this month in New Mexico.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. A lot more news after a very short break with Rosemary Church.