Return to Transcripts main page


How will Trump's Visit Impact Racially-Charged Runoff? Soon: Roger Stone Responds to Associate's Plea Talks; U.S. has 14,000 Unaccompanied Migrant Kids in Custody; Young, Rich and Loyal: The Man Who May Become Next Chief of Staff. Aired 3:30p-4p ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 15:30   ET



LARISSON CAMPBELL, POLITICS REPORTER, "MISSISSIPPI TODAY": -- it's kind of a down ballot position. And I think the fact that she keeps making these gaffes and kind of stands behind them. She seems genuinely surprised that people are offended. In her apology on Tuesday, she kept saying there's no ill will there. And I think the fact that she sort of hasn't grasped the idea that this is a really big issue and this is sort of now driving - you know driving the - this is going to be on Tuesday. I think -- I think those fears about her not being ready for primetime are confirmed.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think with Trump there making those two stops on Monday, do you think that he will be able to help her?

CAMPBELL: I think so. You know, we saw him come in in October in DeSoto County, which was traditionally a very strong base of support for Senator Chris McDaniel, who she was running against in the special election rather Republican. And he really turned out people. He got people energized, easily won DeSoto County. I think they're kind of hoping for the same result. She's going to be in Tupelo. She's going to be in Biloxi. And I think that they're really optimistic that he can kind of reenergize you know her base.

BALDWIN: The election is Tuesday. We'll be watching. Larrison Campbell, thank you.

More on our breaking news today, Roger Stone is about to respond as one of his associates talks with Robert Mueller about a plea deal. That happens moments from now, stay with me.


[15:36:01] BALDWIN: Right now there is a record number of children, migrant children, in U.S. custody. The Department of Health and Human Services says the latest number has now reached 14,000 unaccompanied children. That shatters the highest number from just two months ago.

Ed Lavandera is with me now. And Ed, 14,000, why is that number so high?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a number of factors playing into all of this, but by all accounts it really seems to be because of major policy changes that the Trump administration has been implementing in recent months, even dating back to the summer when the family separation -- the family separation issue exploded into such a major and controversial issue across the country. But essentially what CNN reporting is showing over the last few months is that fewer children are being -- are being released and many more children are being held for longer periods of time. And a lot of that is based, we're told, because of heavier scrutiny, that the Trump administration is implementing in adults that are coming forward to take care of these children.

One of those policy changes also includes arresting undocumented parents that are coming forward to claim these children. And that has obviously sent shock waves and fear. This comes amid great controversy and criticism from many of the Trump administration's critics who say that the Trump administration is essentially using these children and putting them through horrific circumstances to try to punish them and to send this message to migrants across Central America to not come to the United States.

And there are real questions, Brooke, as to whether or not this strategy is really working. We are told that the rate of the number of children coming to this country as unaccompanied minors has really held steady over the course of the last four years. So that includes the last two years of the Obama administration and the first two years of the Trump administration. And so, there are real serious questions as to whether or not this strategy of trying to send this message to migrants is actually working.

BALDWIN: Do you know how they're being cared for?

LAVANDERA: Well as we've seen or if you have been paying attention to this reporting across the country, you know there is about a hundred shelters in 17 states across the country, but this is really putting a strain on the system. And you know just think about this, as you mentioned off the top, we hit a record of more than 12,000 children back in September. And in just two short months we've set another record here, now over 14,000.

So there have been tent cities in the far west Texas town of Tornillo that have been -- that are now being expanded to care and house these children as well. So there's real questions as to just how much this system is willing or is able to handle this strain because there doesn't appear to be any changes in the way the Trump administration is handling these children at this point where nobody really anticipating any changes here coming forward. So the anticipation is that these numbers will continue to increase if these children keep coming.

BALDWIN: We thought 12,000 was a lot in here. We are at 14,000. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

Coming up next, young, rich and loyal, what CNN has learned about one of the top contenders become President Trump's next chief of staff.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:43:40] BALDWIN: All right. You know the deal, scarf down the Thanksgiving turkey, wake up the next morning and then hit the Black Friday sales. Well really it's not even just Friday morning, it's now Thursday night right after your dinner. The latter is becoming more and more than norm and even that is changing as more shoppers are getting their retail therapy ay home. Online shopping, it is soaring sales hit $4 billion by 5 p.m. yesterday. So is the Black Friday tradition fading to black?

Monica Mehta is with me, our finance expert. And Monica is this just all about the Amazon effect?

MONICA MEHTA, FINANCE EXPERT: Well, it's really more about deals. And I wouldn't say Black Friday is fading. I would say that it is spreading and infecting most of November and December. So what you're seeing as people are looking for deals. And depending how old you are, it really impacts how you shop and when you shop. So right after turkey, you're more likely to see Gen-z folks actually shop on turkey day, and it's about 40 percent of millennials versus just 23 percent of baby boomers, who are probably more likely to be at home on turkey day.

BALDWIN: I like sales spreading the love. I'm not mad at that, you know, into November and December. But I know that there are people who are turned off by the consumerism that is Black Friday and they post all these photos and memes for buy nothing day in protest.

[15:45:06] Do you think the consumer enthusiasm will last?

MEHTA: Americans like stuff. So I can see those memes spreading but I think mostly people are really interested in deals. So 65 percent of a lot of this Black Friday activity is driven by the consumer interest in actually finding a deal. The other big reason why people shop at this time of year is tradition. So you're together for the holidays. Going out and shopping together is something that people do year after year. So it becomes something they want to do with their family. And you also see that with younger folks. So millennial cite often the social aspect of Black Friday and holiday shopping as one of the big reasons that they go out.

BALDWIN: What are, you know, as people are heading into the weekend, what are those big ticket items where you really get more bang for your buck buying right now?

MEHTA: Well, electronics, that seems to be the big thing and in particular smartphones. So the expectation is that smartphone sales will be up by 30 percent over this holiday weekend. And again, people are really trained to shop for sales so the biggest shopping day used to be Black Friday, and now they're expecting it to be the Saturday before Christmas and those sales are expected to eclipse what we're seeing today.

BALDWIN: Last-minute shopping, I know nothing about that. Monica Mehta, thank you very much. Happy - Happy day after Thanksgiving to you.

MEHTA: Happy Thanksgiving.

BALDWIN: Now that President Trump has hinted he's considering staff changes in the White House, including possibly replacing his chief of staff, General John Kelly, a top contender is emerging as a potential replacement. He is Georgian native, Nick Ayers. He is a wealthy Republican political consultant. He is 36 by the way and the current chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence. Now insiders say he's young, he is ambitious but from what we're hearing not everybody loves him.

CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond has the whole back story on Ayers. And so how did he even get on the president's radar, let alone inner circle?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: You know, Brooke, it is really a fascinating story. The way that Nick Ayers has risen so quickly in Republican politics, now to the point where he's being considered for White House chief of staff at the age of just 36. And the president's private dining room just off the Oval Office that is where my sources tell me the president came to know and like Nick Ayers and is now at the point where he is considering him to replace General John Kelly.

Since the beginning of this administration, the president has been sitting down with the Vice President Mike Pence once a week, usually alone, sometimes with a cabinet official. But for the last year plus now, since Nick Ayers and John Kelly both came into the White House as chief of staff to the president and vice president, they began to attend those lunches as well. And that is when Nick Ayers had this once a week facetime with the president in this small setting in a private dining room just off the Oval Office. And it also became for the president a study in contrast between what John Kelly is and what Nick Ayers represent, which is a little bit more political acumen, a little bit more political strategy, which is something that's some of the president's allies and advisers have been telling him he needs in his staff particularly as we get closer to 2020..

BALDWIN: For all these profile pieces I've been reading about it and it sounds like he's the kind of guy that really knows how to manage up well. But there are other people, other staffers at the White House who are none too thrilled about him. Can you tell me why?

DIAMOND: Yes. You know part of it his allies will say is jealousy. But beyond that, it's the fact that he has amassed at the age of 36, a net worth of between $12 million to $54 million through political consulting but also some financial investments than other financial moves. But that is a pretty rare in politics for somebody at that age to have made that much money and it's drawn a lot of criticism. But Nick Ayers has also attracted the top detractor in the West Wing and that is in the name of Kellyanne Conway whom he worked with on Pence's gubernatorial reelection campaign back in 2015 and 2016. Sources tell me and my colleague, Elizabeth Landers, who I worked on this story with, that Nick Ayers sought to actually fire Kellyanne Conway from that gubernatorial reelection campaign and that's where the bad blood stems from because when Nick Ayers was being considered to come in as the vice president's chief of staff last year, sources tell us that Kellyanne Conway tried to thwart to move, erupted in fact at none other than Steve Bannon at that time who is supporting that as well. Kellyanne Conway of course denies this, saying that she has zero beef with Nick Ayers and the vice president's press secretary Alyssa Farah also disputed that, saying that Nick Ayers and Kellyanne Conway are close friends. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Jeremy Diamond thanks for the reporting.

Coming up next, breaking news, Roger Stone has just responded to the news one of his associates is in talks with Robert Mueller about a plea deal. We'll have that for you.

Also, the Trump administration is releasing a major report on climate change today, warning of these dire consequences.

[15:50:03] Hear the specific consequences not doing anything. But first, we just want to take a moment on this Friday afternoon to honor one of the sears top ten CNN heroes, a computer programmer from Nigeria who has stepped up to help her country's most disadvantaged girls fill the gender gap when it comes to tech. Her crusade has taken her to one of the city's poorest slums.


ABISOYE AJAYI-AKINFOLARIN, FOUNDER, PEARLS AFRICA FOUNDATION: When I went to Makoko for the first time, I was so surprised to see the living condition of human beings. Most girls are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Many of them are not thinking education, a plan for the future. I believe girls should be given opportunities. What can we teach? What you can't see, you can't aspire to. They need to be shown another life.


BALDWIN: How incredible is that? All these CNN heroes. By the way, her nonprofit Pearls Africa Foundation has helped more than 400 disadvantaged girls learn skills to transform their lives. Please, go to right now to vote for her or any of your favorite top ten CNN heroes.


[15:56:01] BALDWIN: Long-time Trump adviser, Roger Stone, has just responded to the news that his associate, Jerome Corsi, is in plea talks with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jerome Corsi, who also knows President Trump, would not comment further to CNN about the talks, but his role in this investigation largely revolves around the possibility that he may have served as an intermediary between Stone and "WikiLeaks" specifically in those critical days ahead of the 2016 election when "WikiLeaks" published those stolen e-mails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign. So here is Roger Stone from moments ago.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP ADVISER: I'm unaware of any plea bargaining. I have no idea what this is about, other than to say that the assertion that Jerry Corsi knew in advance that John Podesta's e-mails had been obtained and would be published would be news to me, because he never told me anything of the kind. And he never obviously passed on any such documents. But let's take Corsi's own quotes. He told NBC News. My crime is that I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. They won't believe it, but this was the most frightening experience of my lifetime. I'm being punished for trying to cooperate in a game that I was set to lose. I can't win this game. I was trying to tell them the truth, but they are not interested. I think that pretty much sums it up so this idea that Jerry Corsi could implicate me, there's simply no evidence whatsoever.


BALDWIN: Former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig is back with me. And you know we talked before about that paper statement. Now we hear him, textbook again?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's textbook. There's no gentle way to say this. Roger Stone is a habitual, admitted liar. Roger Stone just quoted Jerry Corsi. I'll quote Roger Stone. He told Jeffrey Toobin in a profile 10 years ago that his personal motto -- Roger Stone's personal motto is, admit nothing, deny everything, launch counter attack. That's what we see him doing here. This is the way people go after cooperating witnesses when they're afraid. I've seen this dance a thousand times. Before things go bad, Corsi, Stone, they're hand-in-hand, they're plotting, they're working with "WikiLeaks". And as soon as Stone sees the writing on the wall that Corsi is about to flip, it's a tack Corsi and claimed that the prosecutors are leaning on him.

BALDWIN: To underscore, if people are just tuning in, why this Jerome Corsi, this is not a household name. Roger Stone has become one. Roger Stone has yet to be spoken with. It's like all that the hawks who have been circling Roger Stone. What kind of information could Corsi give the Mueller team that could lead them on a path toward Roger?

HONIG: So Stone in all the sort of assorted personalities around him are central to the link between "WikiLeaks", which was publishing all the e-mails that the Russian had hacked from Hillary and the DNC and the campaign. And Stone has made all sorts of noise about who is doing it? Was it Corsi? Was it Credico? They're all sort of pointing at each other in a circle. If Corsi cooperates and comes in, he should be able to tell Mueller exactly who the line of communication was between "WikiLeaks" and the between the Trump campaign, and we already know the back end of that. We already know Stone was communicating directly with Steve Bannon. Stone lied, denied it until the texts came out showing Stone was in communication with Bannon. So if Corsi cooperates and does it right and he's backed up by documents, he should be able to draw that link between "WikiLeaks" and the campaign.

BALDWIN: And, again, the quote from Roger Stone to Jeff Toobin ten years ago -- remind us again.

HONIG: It was admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack. I think we see that playing out here. BALDWIN: There you go. Elie Honig, you've been fantastic for hanging out with us for the entire hour. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

And thank you for being with me. Hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope you have lovely, safe long weekends. Thanks for being with us here at CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Keep it right here. Jim Sciutto is in for Jake Tapper. "The Lead" starts right now.