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Trump Question Government's Climate Change Report; White House Responds to "The Guardian" Report Manafort Held Secret Meetings with Assange; Mueller Declares Manafort's Plea Deal Dead; Police Investigate Active Shooter at Walter Reed Medical; Trump Threatens to Slash G.M. Subsidies if Closes Plants. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 27, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We have the mayor of Lordstown on next hour. We'll put the president's comments straight to him.

David, I want to pivot to climate change. Here's part of the exchange.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You have to look at the fact that this report is based on the most-extreme-model scenario, which contradicts long-established trends. Modelling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact. The biggest thing we can do is make sure we have the cleanest air, cleanest water, and the president is certainly doing that and leading on that front.


BALDWIN: On this climate report, David, fact: The report four years in the making involved 300 leading climate change scientists and 13 federal agencies. That is the president's own federal government. Fact: It is false of anyone to suggest the report was only based on extreme scenarios. It was based on both best and worst-case scenarios. Also the White House suggests it's never an exact science. Fact: Scientists say, if anything, climate models have historically underpredicted the climate change on ice melt and sea level rises and increases in extreme weather.

David Chalian, yet the president and Sarah Sanders say the other.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: Yes. It is so bizarre to hear the president the other day say I don't believe it. To hear Sarah Sanders say from the podium, as you noted, this is the U.S. government, federal agencies over which the president has oversight over these agencies. It is his government that has issued this report that the president and his spokesperson now are trying to dismantle. It's their government that put out the report the day after thanksgiving of course to try to bury it because, as you know, this does not fit their political narrative in any way whatsoever.

To Gloria's point, everything is viewed through the political lens right now inside the White House. And the president clearly understands that this an issue that he does not want to deviate from where his base of support is and giving into this kind of scientific report sort of deviates from the base talking points on climate that the president has been putting out there.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just add something to that, Brooke, which is, I believe it was last night that the president was talking about the deep state and how his administration is effectively trying to winnow out the deep state. And then he said, "We're winning, we're doing that." I think what David is saying he doesn't believe the report because he believes that it was compiled by the deep state. And maybe that has something to do with how he's reacting on Saudi Arabia and the murder. Maybe he believes it's the deep state. So you have a president who really doesn't trust his own government to a great degree and makes no bones about it. Makes absolutely no bones about it.

BALDWIN: Thus, the apropos question from Jim on, why is it this pattern, the president appears not to trust his own intelligence and own advisers.

BORGER: Right. Exactly.


BALDWIN: David and Gloria, thank you. Thank you both.

Coming up next, the White House responding to this bombshell report involving President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Did he secretly meet with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, around the time he joined the campaign?

And Special Counsel Robert Mueller accusing Manafort of breaching his plea deal by lying to federal investigators repeatedly. Let's get into that, next.


[14:38:01] BALDWIN: Two new reports involving President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. First, "The Guardian" is reporting he met with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, not once, not twice, three times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The paper reports one meeting happened in the spring of 2016, right around the time Manafort joined the Trump campaign. That timing raises questions. It was just a couple months later when WikiLeaks published those stolen DNC e-mails.

WikiLeaks shooting down the report. They tweeted, "Remember this day when 'The Guardian' permitted a serial fabrication to totally destroy the paper's reputation. WikiLeaks is willing to bet 'The Guardian' a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange."

This dropped after Mueller is accusing Manafort of breaching his plea agreement by lying to investigators and wants Manafort sentenced immediately.

Let's get into all of this with Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate special prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst.

Richard, welcome back to you.

I wanted to start with this "Guardian" piece. They're saying Manafort met with Assange in 2016 and right around when Manafort jumped in with the Trump team and weeks before the e-mail dump. What do you make on the timing of the latest meeting?

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If it's in fact correct, "The Guardian" report is extraordinary. What in the world with Manafort be doing meeting with Julian Assange if not to talk about Assange's role as a cutout for disseminating information that the Russians obtained by illegal hacking? Put that together with the fact that now cooperation agreement has fallen apart and Mr. Mueller intends to explain why that is the case in a sentencing memorandum. That sentencing memorandum, that will be public, one presumes, will lay out facts relating to the investigation as it relates to the potential for U.S. collaboration with the Russians in the hacking. So if in fact --


[14:40:29] BALDWIN: Let me jump in. Let me jump in. Back on when Manafort is purported to have visited this Ecuadorian embassy, WikiLeaks is totally denying this ever, ever happened. As a lawyer, wouldn't it be easy to prove if Manafort visited the embassy?

BEN VENISTE: Well, it may or may not be depending on what the nature of the information "The Guardian" has and what is the information that Mr. Mueller may have. Of course the embassy may likely have been under surveillance, and it may be that that information, the surveillance information would likely be available to Mr. Mueller.

So what's interesting is throughout all of this, Mr. Manafort has been operating under a joint defense agreement telling the White House everything that is going on in the questioning by Mr. Mueller. So at the same time he's giving information that Mueller now says was a lie. We had the revelation about the meeting in London at the embassy with WikiLeaks. If that's accurate, then perhaps that has somehow affected the answers to which Mr. Trump has provided to the small portion of questioning that Mr. Trump has provided to Mr. Mueller.

BALDWIN: Interesting.

BEN-VENISTE: All of that could be tied together. The timing is extraordinary. And so, again, without resorting to a report, without another indictment, Mr. Mueller could be in a position of revealing a lot of information that we would all find very interesting --

BALDWIN: But what about the --

VEN-VENISTE: -- about his investigation in open court.

BALDWIN: From the Mueller perspective, it seems his team is so confident of the evidence they have, Richard, that they know that Manafort is lying. How do you -- how do they know that? BEN-VENISTE: Well, how do we know anything? We know it on the basis

of objective evidence. If there's either testimonial evidence, evidence of travel, evidence of him entering the embassy, evidence by third parties who are in a position to know. It's the way we would prove anything in a court of law that provide as level of confidence if in fact Mr. Mueller is confident that Manafort is lying and whether he is lying about this. We don't know the subject matter about which he says -- he, Mueller --


BEN-VENISTE: -- says Manafort has been lying. However, Manafort now loses the benefit of being a cooperator and will take his chances on sentencing with the full extent of not only not cooperating but lying on top of the prior lies to which he has already been convicted. So he can't take back the plea agreement --


BALDWIN: And again and again -- right, he can't take it back. It's breached. He's not a credible witness now.

Going back to what we heard from Sarah Sanders in the White House, when questions arose about pardons, right, that's where my mind goes. She said --


BEN-VENISTE: Where have I heard about pardons in return for silence for --


BALDWIN: Right. She said she's not aware of anything but that's the word of Sarah Sanders.

Richard Ben-Veniste --

BEN-VENISTE: We've seen this before.

BALDWIN: We have, sir.

Thank you very.

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We'll continue our conversation, I know.

[14:44:09] Coming up next, more on our breaking news. President Trump just threatened to cut of subsidies at G.M. after the auto giant announced it is closing five plant and slashing 14,000 jobs. We will talk to Congressman Dan Kildee, from Michigan, next.


BALDWIN: We're getting some break being news in from Maryland. Specifically we're getting this from the Montgomery County police. They're investigating reports of an active shooter at Walter Reed Medical Center. That is all we have.

We did, however, just see this tweet from the Maryland Congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger, who just tweeted, "I am currently at Walter Reed Medical in Bethesda where we have been told there's an active shooter. I am currently safe in a conference room with approximately 40 others."

Let's go to Shimon Prokupecz, who is making calls here.

Shimon, what more do we know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: All we know is a building on this campus at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, there's a building on lockdown. People are in offices. We have no reports of any injuries. No reports of any shots being fired. But something has led police to be concerned here.

They have placed the building in lockdown. They have told people to shelter in place as they try and go through and see if they're dealing with an active shooter or something else perhaps that may have caused concern. We don't know exactly what led to all of this. It could be that someone may have heard something or saw something, so police here took action.

We're told that the local officials at the Montgomery County police are assisting the Walter Reed officials in the search. It appears for right now police are going through the building, searching to make sure that there are no shooters in the building.

[14:50:29] BALDWIN: OK. We'll stay on it.

Shimon, thank you very.

Meantime, President Trump is now threatening to retaliate against General Motors after the auto giant announced plans to cut thousands of jobs and close five plants in the U.S. and Canada. The president tweeted he is disappointed in G.M. and its CEO and is now looking at cutting all G.M. subsidies, all G.M. subsidies, he says.

With me now, Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democratic Congressman from Michigan, where two of these G.M. plants, Warren and Detroit, are set to close.

Congressman Kildee, thank you for being with me, first of all.


BALDWIN: Let's just given with the president's tweets. You have taken a look? And how would you respond?

KILDEE: I just saw that. It doesn't make any sense. This is no coordinated policy on his part. What it looks like to me is that the president has been made a fool of by his own words and now he's trying to hit back, he's trying to divert attention back to General Motors by again threatening them with something that would cause the loss of additional jobs. It just doesn't make sense. I guess to me this is really symbolic of the Trump economy.

The Trump economy does not work for the American worker. It works for stockholders and people at the top. And he promised actually on October 31, 2016, he was in Warren, Michigan, and he promised that no plants would close. He essentially made a guarantee. He's been made a fool of once again, and now he's just hitting back to try to divert attention from his own failures.

BALDWIN: Can you explain for people who don't work in the American auto industry, who are hearing cutting subsidies, they're thinking what does that mean? What's the real-life impact on that for these hard-working Americans in your home state?

KILDEE: It translates to jobs. The tax subsidies that are generally put in place to incentivize new product development ultimately can lead to new lines of cars being produced. That means jobs for Americans. So the idea that the president would cut those -- look, I'm frustrated, too. I'm not happy with General Motors. But President Trump can't have it both ways.

He can't run for election on the absolute promise that he's bringing these jobs back and the specific promise to the people of Warren, Michigan that they would not lose their factory and then when they do lose their factory, when those Americans do lose their jobs after having made sacrifices to keep that company open, he tries to divert attention and take the attention away from his failure to keep his promise. It was a promise that nobody believed he could keep anyway.


BALDWIN: Do you think that will work with your constituents? Do you think that will work with your constituents, many of whom voted for him? There hadn't been -- Republicans hadn't gone that way since 1988 for a president. Will they believe what you're saying?

KILDEE: I don't think so. They care about what they say. I think what they care about is what happens to them in their own lives. This is why the president needs to stop tweeting and bloviating about the promises he's going to make and he needs to roll up his sleeves and get to work on policies that help American workers. So far he has not done this.

This Trump economy rewards people at the top and leaves auto workers looking for a job after 20 or 25 years, after having sacrificed to keep that company open, to see their jobs taken away just proves that this president is not what he says he is. And nobody -- you know, we saw that. Hopefully, this opens the eyes to the American people. But beyond that, they don't care about that. The workers back home want to see us roll up our sleeves and get to work and create an economy that works for everybody.


I have been -- I have reported from the assembly lines at one of those plants in Warren, Michigan. I have spoken to the good folks you're talking about. I hear you talking about the president's promises and promises that the president is made to look a fool.

One of the reasons G.M. thought this move was necessary is they make a lot of sedans and Americans increasingly prefer SUVs and not to mention that the Trump tariffs are creating bigger costs for the automaker and G.M. is seeing the industry changing, Congressman. Why aren't they allowed to adapt?

[14:55:05] KILDEE: They should be. My message to G.M. is build those cars here, build those trucks here. If the industry is changing, if the products Americans want to purchase or the rest of the world wants to purchase, if that product is changing, build them in the country that rescued the American auto industry. Build them in the country that made sure that the industry and that company specifically stayed alive at its moment of greatest need.

I don't remember the Mexican government or the Chinese government stepping up when the American auto industry was flat on its back, but the American workers and specifically those auto workers made sacrifices. They gave up wages, they gave up benefits. Many of them gave up retirements in order to preserve that company, and now we see when they want to change the distribution of their manufacturing, the choice being to move away from American manufacturing -- I understand changing product lines. I'm from Flint, Michigan. We've been able to adapt over the years. We can do that. The American worker can build anything. Just give them a chance.

BALDWIN: Quickly, Congressman Kildee, did you reach out to the president about any of this before the announcement?

KILDEE: No, because we -- actually, I was a little irritated by that, too. We heard about the announcement on CNN. So we did not get a call from General Motors, we did not get any heads up from the White House. Believe me, we clearly are reaching out to the White House to talk about this.

BALDWIN: Did you reach out at all -- that's unfortunate you heard about it from us. But have you reached out at all since or even Mary Barra (ph)? Any conversations? Because separately we heard from Larry Kudlow and he said he had a conversation with Mary yesterday and he said workers may be able to transfer to other plants and he mentioned Michigan.

KILDEE: Here's the problem. When you reduce the overall workforce and workers have to travel to another state to keep their job, other workers are still being displaced. So I think this is often the way it's explained away is that nobody's going to lose their job because they'll have the opportunity to transfer to a place where they don't know anyone, where they have no family, where they have no family, where they have no roots and there's still a net loss of manufacturing jobs that support so many other jobs in those communities. A single manufacturing job in my hometown of Flint, Michigan, supports seven other jobs in the local economy. This is not just auto workers that are impacted.

BALDWIN: I hear you.

KILDEE: This is again another hit to places like Youngstown and Warren and all those communities that build great products with great workers who ought to be given a chance to continue to do that.

BALDWIN: I hear you.

Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much.

KILDEE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news, police in Maryland are investigating reports of an active shooter at Walter Reed Medical Center. More when we come back.


[15:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.