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Marvel Comics Legend Stan Lee Dead at 95; Trump Misses Ceremony Due to Rain & French President Slams Nationalism in Front of Trump; Senator Ignites Backlash over "Public Hanging" Remark; Satellite Images Show North Korea Moving Forward with Ballistic Missile Program at Hidden Bases. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 12, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] STAN LEE, CHIEF WRITER & EDITOR, MARVEL COMICS: As a child, I really didn't know anybody who shot webs or crawled on buildings or wore suits of armor and flew or anything like that. I just imagined them, and there they were.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He also imagined "Thor," the "Incredible Hulk, and the "Fantastic Four." They were flawed people with extraordinary powers.

LEE: I never had any idea these characters would last this long. In fact, I and the people I worked with, who co-created them with me, the many talented artists, we just hoped that the books would sell and we'd continue to get our salary and be able to pay our rent.

The movies have done so much for the characters. The movies have given the comic book characters even more prestige.

ELAM: The native New Yorker was born Stanley Morgan Lieber. He had humble beginnings, but his love for comics took him much farther than he ever dreamed.

He also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

LEE: In a million years, I never thought, you know, that I would get something like that.

ELAM: As his creations became larger than life on the big screen, he also kept a feverish pace making appearances at events, like Comic-Con in San Diego.

LEE: How are you? Glad to see you.

ELAM: Though his life seemed charmed, it wasn't without adversity. Lee was married to his wife, Joan, for over 60 years and they had two daughters. However, his youngest only lived a few days.

In his 80s, Lee was involved in various lawsuits against Marvel and Disney over the span of seven years.

In September 2012, he had surgery for a pacemaker and joked he was trying to become more like his "Iron Man" character, Tony Stark.

LEE: To me, the more important thing in the world is to keep busy. I'm happy to say I'm lucky enough to still be busy.

ELAM: The Stan Lee Foundation was also a passion project for Lee, who seemed to believe, with great power, comes great responsibility.

LEE: What we concentrate on is education, educating children.



LEE: I never would have dreamed years ago that anything like this would have happened.

ELAM: The king of comics who was adored worldwide was most proud of his family and his comic heroes. Perhaps Lee will be remembered as a legendary innovator with an uncanny ability to capture the imagination.

LEE: Excelsior.


BOLDUAN: Legend, Stan Lee.

Coming up next, a U.S. Senator in Mississippi facing criticism over what she says was a joke about attending, her words, "a public hanging." Her Democratic challenger, who hopes to be Mississippi's first black Senator, is now responding. We'll take that story for you next.

Also, new reports showing that North Korea is still working on its missile program at about a dozen hidden sites. So how does this bode for talks with the U.S.?


[14:36:56] BOLDUAN: President Trump is back home and facing criticism over his trip to France to mark 100 years since the end of World War I. The president taking heat from all sides of his decision to skip a solemn visit to honor fallen American soldiers at an American military cemetery outside of Paris, all because it was raining. The White House said the weather prevented the use of the helicopter and they didn't want to disrupt the Saturday traffic issue with a presidential motorcade. So the president did stay indoors. There were other world leaders who did get outside and father outside in the elements to show their respect to the millions killed in the Great War.

Adding to the president's troubles, French President Emmanuel Macron, appeared to rebuked President Trump and his embrace of nationalism all as Trump sat right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translation): Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.

I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They're ready to wreak chaos and death.

History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.


BOLDUAN: With me now, Commander Jeremy Butler, of the U.S. Navy Reserves. He serves as the chief operations officer of the IAVA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Commander, a pleasure. Thank you for all that you do.


BOLDUAN: Your reaction to President Trump staying behind in the residence and not braving the elements Saturday?

BUTLER: It's disappointing. He goes all this way to commemorate the end of World War I, and apparently, a little bit of rain keeps him from honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and have been laid to rest in foreign soil. It's understandable to go over there for that event and not be here in the U.S. for Veteran's Day, but to then skip visiting a cemetery is a little bit of a slap in the face. It's also a distraction from the larger issues of what's going on in the veteran community right now.

BOLDUAN: Speaking of slap in the face, we just played the clip from President Macron standing there speaking about patriotism where President Trump is right there, this avowed nationalist. I wondering, when you have this close ally, France, sitting there and basically calling out the United States, what does that do to the reputation of America?

BUTLER: I don't think it affects the reputation. I think it's raising the issue and trying to drive the point home without the importance of being engaged globally. It's kind of ironic this is coming up at the commemoration of the end of World War I, which literally drove the U.S. in many ways to become this global power. And we're now having this debate about are we reseeding back into nationalism. But the fact is we have to stay engaged globally. You teased it with a clip. We have North Korea, looks like they're building more nuclear weapons. We have a rising Russia military. We have China that continues to operate somewhat unopposed in the Asia waters. If we don't stay engaged globally, we're going to be overtaken.

[14:40:04] BOLDUAN: This is how David Axelrod put it, a former Obama senior advisor. He tweeted, watching all this over the weekend, "Watching the events from France, I cannot recall a time when America seemed so isolated. America First feels like America alone." Are we at that point? Does it feel like America alone to you?

BUTLER: I think it can feel that way, but you have to remember how much more is going on outside of what the president is saying and doing. Even though he might speak of nationalism, within our military, we're engaged around the world on a daily basis at levels that most people have no idea about. We are constant -- we're a global military. We're underway on the waters. I was in the Navy. I'm in the Navy Reserve now. We have troops and bases around the country operating 24/7. You have to remember not only militarily, but diplomatically, we're engaged nationally and internationally. I think we're going to stay that way. The question is, how much does the president support our efforts to continue to do so and to continue to be a player on the world stage?

BOLDUAN: He says he does. He says he does. But I hear you on words and action.

BUTLER: Right.

BALDWIN: Commander, Jeremy Butler, thank you for coming by.

BUTLER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate.

BUTLER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: A U.S. Senator in Mississippi makes a remark about a public hanging and now her opponent, who is hoping to become the state's first African-American Senator, is responding. We have that.

Also, an air traffic controller no longer on the job for what she did for 40 minutes in the tower, actions that completely confused the pilots. Don't miss that.


[14:46:00] BOLDUAN: Not a recount but a runoff looms for a Senate seat in Mississippi. And now a racially charged comment made by the Republican incumbent has become the center of attention. Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is running against Democrat and former U.S. secretary of agriculture and congressman, Mike Espy, who is black. Hyde-Smith has come under intense criticism for saying this over the weekend.


SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH, (R), MISSISSIPPI: If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: "If he invited me to a pubic hanging, I'd be on the front row. Following the backlash, Hyde-Smith released this statement: "In a comment on November 2nd, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.

Espy told CNN he found the comment tone deaf and hurtful, especially given the state's history.


MIKE ESPY, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & MISSISSIPPI SENATE CANDIDATE: Both comments that we heard that were published yesterday are very disappointing. They were hurtful. They're harmful. They are hurtful to the Mississippians who are people of good will. And they're harmful because they tend to reinforce the stereotypes that have held back our state for so long and that have cost us jobs and have harmed our economy. I mean, this is 2018. We're going here into Mississippi into the third decade of the 21st century and we just should not have this.


BOLDUAN: CNN did reach out to Hyde-Smith, inviting her to come onto our program. We have not heard back.

With me now, Nia Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter.

Nia, this is the south. Her opponent's black. Even if she meant no harm, what do you make of her comment?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: You know, it almost echoes some of the comments we've heard in some of these other races in the south. You think of comments made in Florida, the governor's race, the race in Georgia as well. And we see in Mississippi a similar dynamic, a contest between the old south and the new south. I think in the context, it's not surprising. I imagine if you're Cindy Hyde-Smith, it's something she has said before. I think a lot of white southerners sometimes have a convenient amnesia about the southern past. It wasn't surprising. You saw the people there clapping. Notably, she's talking about a public hanging, and public hangings were quite common in the south up into the middle part of the last century. And so it's disturbing to hear it. In many ways, I think it brings up a past that hasn't been reckoned with, certainly by a lot of white southerners.

BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you this specially because you traveled to Alabama this spring to see the nation's first lynching memorial. It opened in April. Here's a look.


HENDERON: I told my mom I was coming to Montgomery, Alabama, and was going to go to -- I told her it was a lynching museum. And she said, why would they want to do that. (LAUGHTER)

BRYAN STEVENSON, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MEMORIAL FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE: Yes. I think we've developed a really advanced coping tragedy of silence, and so my hope is people will leave this space prepared to say never again can we tolerate racial bias and bigotry anywhere. And I think if we create a consciousness like that, we can begin to expect more from our institutions, our schools, our court system, from our elected leaders.


BOLDUAN: He's right. What was it like?

[14:49:49] HENDERON: Quite moving. It's something I had never experienced. I never really grasped the magnitude of the number of lynchings that went on in the wake of Reconstruction, sort of the post-Reconstruction era up until the 1950s. This chronicles the 4,000 or more African-Americans that were lynched for infractions like walking behind a white woman. A school teacher, a woman was lynched because she chastised a group of white schoolchildren for throwing rocks. And you see African-Americans fleeing the south to go up north because they were fleeing a racial terror.

One of the reasons -- interesting that she said the idea of a public lynching. They were very often in public in thousands often. White citizens, good, upstanding white citizens, at least they were thought of that way back in the day, would show up to these lynchings, take photographs. Oftentimes, these bodies of these African-Americans were dragged through the African-American neighborhoods, as if this public lynching wasn't enough to send a message. They would drag them through the African-Americans neighborhoods and oftentimes cut off the limbs and pass them around like souvenirs. So this is a really ugly, ugly history that that museum sheds a lit on. He talks about this idea of kind of confronting it and also saying never again. That is something that hasn't ever really happened. That's one of the reasons you get these casual comments about public lynchings, because the true history hasn't been recognized. It's been misremembered, particularly by a lot of white southerners.

You're from the south. I'm from the south. You know African- Americans and white Americans have a very different memory of the history of the American south.

BOLDUAN: We repeat his words, never again.

HENDERSON: Never again, right.

BALDWIN: Nia Malika Henderson, thank you so much.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Brooke.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, hidden in the mountains on secret bases. What new satellite images reveal about North Korea's ballistic missile program, which appears to be very much alive and under active development. So what does the White House's response to this look like?


[14:56:25] BOLDUAN: New images appear to contradict claims by President Trump that his negotiations with North Koran dictator, Kim Jong-Un, are working. Commercial satellite images show at least a dozen undisclosed missiles sites around the country. This, despite promises from Pyongyang to reduce and even dismantle its weapons production and work toward denuclearization.

With me now, David Sanger, CNN national security analyst, and national security correspondent with the "New York Times."

David, this suggests a great deception. Tell me what you've learned.

DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The big question here, Brooke, is whether the deception is the North Koreans adding on to their existing facilities, all of which were undeclared, while dismantling one or two, which President Trump has advertised, or whether what the U.S. is tracking what's going on in North Korea so carefully is deceiving itself. You've heard President Trump talk about how they're dismantling this or that. He's not talked about the dismantling up to 16 or more bases, including one that seems to be designed for intercontinental ballistic missiles, the kind that can reach the United States, and how they're being improved. It seems if you're poor like North Korea, you wouldn't spend money when you plan to dismantle them in a few months.

BOLDUAN: Right. There was a world watch. How would you, based upon what you know, characterize where the U.S. and North Korea relations are right now. Square one?

SANGER: No. The relationship between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un is somewhat better. It was good to have the president of the United States talk to the leader of North Korea. But let's not kid ourselves. North Korea has not done even the first steps the U.S. had in mind. The first steps include turning over a list of all of their missile and nuclear sites so the U.S. can compare what North Korea says they have with what the U.S. believes they have. That's the first step toward dismantlement. North Korea has not done that. They have not followed through on the cases of dismantlement they've talked about, including one large test site or missile engine test site. And the administration, meanwhile, has gone from saying, we're very short on time, to the president declaring again last week, we have plenty of time to solve that. I don't know why he thinks that. All the evidence suggests they're continuing to add to their arsenal.

BOLDUAN: David Sanger, thank you very much.

SANGER: Thank you, Brooke.

BOLDUAN: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

This is what's going on in Florida. The Florida recounts and the mudslinging that's getting dirtier and dirtier, with the president talking of, quote, "infected ballot." The recounts in not one but three races, U.S. Senate, governor, and the state's agriculture commissioner, the tights of the three. They were triggered by law because of the margin of voters between the winner and the loser being less than 0.5 percent.

And as Florida election workers are working around the clock to recount these ballots, the lawsuits and insults, they're flying between Republicans and Democrats.

[15:00:05] I want to play a clip for you. This is the two vying for Senate --