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CNN RIGHT NOW
Pompeo, Mattis Defend Saudi Ties Despite Khashoggi Murder; Two Key Answers from Trump to Mueller; With Hyde-Smith's Victory, Republicans Now Have a 53-47 Majority in the Senate; Clintons Launch Paid Speaking Tour, Slam Trump "Cover-up;" Pence to Break Tie on Trump's Controversial Judicial Nominee; New Wave of Anti-Semitism Plagues Germany. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 28, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] SEN. ROGER WICKER (R), MISSISSIPPI: No. I don't take that position. I think the attendance of the CIA director would be helpful, and being able to question her would provide additional information over and above the fine briefings we got from the two secretaries.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You're not drawing a line in the sand but you would like to hear from her?
WICKER: No. I don't approach things in every instance like my friend, Lindsey Graham. I think he has a good point, the White House perhaps should reconsider and let her attend a briefing also.
KEILAR: So to your point about how the U.S. threads the needle here between considering the interests of the U.S. when it comes to this ally, Saudi Arabia, I want to talk to you about this op-ed that Secretary Pompeo penned. And he says this, quote, "The October murder of a Saudi national, Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on, but degrading U.S./Saudi tries would be a grave mistake for the national security of the U.S. and its allies."
You talk about the concern of that relationship but, among other things, he says without the support of Saudi Arabia you have Iran that would be largely unchecked. Why can't the U.S. remain an ally of Saudi Arabia, it is not like it doesn't have leverage, and still holds Saudi Arabia accountable?
WICKER: I think based on intelligence reports and based on what we continue to find out we will try to hold them and crown prince accountable. I go back to what's in the United States' interest. The secretary made a very good point in the op-ed, which I read this morning.
We are -- we are seeking a counter balance to the very malign influence of Iran in the region, including Iranian-backed Houthi fighters that are fighting in Yemen and we are providing the Saudis with military to military advice and how to get it done. We are also trying to get people to the peace table. I think cutting off a relationship with a long-time ally and making matters worse and leaving things in more chaos, which would be the result of passing this resolution that may be coming up again, I think it would make it less likely that the peace negotiations succeed. We very much need for the peace process to work.
KEILAR: Do you support U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen?
WICKER: I support what we're doing because I think we are protecting American personnel, military and civilian, and we're fighting the bad guys, Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and ISIS.
KEILAR: Isn't there a way to balance that though with, not as the president has done essentially condoning the murder of a journalist who is a U.S. resident, just turning a blind eye?
WICKER: I would challenge that. That might be one way to view it. No, I think the president --
KEILAR: But how? Because you talked about --
KEILAR: You talked about there being some pressure. How would you do it?
WICKER: Let me say, the president has not condoned this. The administration has taken a very strong position. And --
KEILAR: No, he said maybe they did, maybe they didn't.
WICKER: -- Secretary Pompeo.
KEILAR: He did not -- he took a pass on this. He said in writing maybe they did, maybe they didn't. He essentially said it doesn't matter because of U.S. interest when it comes to Saudi Arabia.
WICKER: I don't view it that way. I view it as saying that our American interests in having this ally continue to be successful is in the United States interest. Ad we need -- that needs to be part of the balance when we look for a solution.
Let me tell you the president is still listening to the intelligence reports. I don't think he has heard the last of it. But when you talk about an ally that's helping us on so many fronts and that help assists American citizens and American safety in so many ways, that has to be part of the equation.
KEILAR: And of course, Saudi Arabia benefits from the alliance with the U.S. as well. I don't know, Senator, you say this is about this alliance and the benefits
KEILAR: -- that come from the U.S. I don't know that in this argument that some folks have that they are disputing that. It is more do you really not care about the death of a journalist, a U.S. resident, a journalist from the "Washington Post" in the service of that alliance. There are many folks, Republican and Democratic colleagues up there on the Hill with you, that argue you don't have to do that, that there's a middle ground here besides turning a blind eye.
[13:34:54] WICKER: I care and I care very deeply. I am grossly offended by what I believe the royal family was involved in, in the murder and the brutal murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The question then becomes, what do you do about it.
And if your response involves hurting the interests of the United States of America, we ought to be very, very careful. We have a real enemy over there, unquestioned enemy, and that enemy is Iran, and we are looking for assistance from that entire region in combatting the malign influences of Iran and the Iranian-backed fighters.
KEILAR: All right. Senator Wicker, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you, sir.
WICKER: Thanks for having me.
KEILAR: Let's talk more about our breaking news, what Trump told Robert Mueller about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. This is a CNN exclusive.
[13:40:33] KEILAR: Republicans have increased their Senate majority by one in a special runoff election in Mississippi. Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democratic candidate, Mike Espy, despite a backdrop of race-related controversies. With Hyde-Smith's victory, Republicans now have a 53-47 majority in the Senate. That's starts in January.
CNN Political Director, David Chalian, is here with me.
Put this into -- as all of these results trickle in, we get one more, one more. What does this mean, big picture, about this election?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICA DIRECTOR: It means the Republicans in the Senate had a net gain of two seats. They have a 51-49 majority now, and January, Mitch McConnell will have 53-47 majority. There are some tough votes now with 51-49. I'm sure he will appreciate that two-seat cushion come January.
We should note what we saw in Mississippi, Brianna, was similar to what we saw throughout this year politically in the Trump era, Democrats overperforming in deep-red areas like Mississippi where they're doing better than Democrats did before the Trump era. Their enthusiasm is still there not enough to overcome a Republican in Mississippi but nonetheless Mike Espy did perform a little bit better than they would have in a Mississippi election.
KEILAR: So don't dismiss what Democrats did in a tough year for them. CHALIAN: And still warning signs for President Trump going forward.
KEILAR: So, hey, we have a speaking tour on our hands right now. Speaking of Hillary and Bill Clinton, they are kicking this off. They are talking about President Trump. The former secretary of state made a bold accusation saying, quote, "We have a president who is part of the cover-up as to what happened in that consulate or embassy when Mr. Khashoggi was murdered."
What did you think when you saw that?
CHALIAN: I was watching this kick-off event. They are doing these large arenas and making money off of doing joint speaking gigs. When Hillary Clinton said that, I said there we go again with the I don't give a version of Hillary Clinton. When she's out there, she is engaging in a lot of red-meat stuff.
And she went on, and not only did she accuse of being part of a cover- up here, but she went on to raise, and we have to ask whether or not his family and his finances are tied up with the Saudis, whether Jared Kushner's family and finances are tied up with the Saudis. She wants to see more information about that. She is raising really big questions about why Trump is acting the way he is around this Saudi issue.
KEILAR: House Democrats we hear will look into that as well. We'll see come January.
CHALIAN: That's right.
KEILAR: David Chalian, thank you so much.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
KEILAR: Drama playing out on the Senate floor as one of the president's judicial nominations is in serious peril. We'll take you there.
[13:47:46] KEILAR: This just into CNN. The Senate has just finished voting on a controversial judicial candidate put forth by President Trump.
I want to go to Manu Raju, our senior congressional correspondent. He's in the basement of the capital. That tells you there's a lot going on in the capital today.
What's up with this judicial candidate put forward?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Thomas Farr, he's a district court nominee in North Carolina, come under enormous criticism from Democrats because of his role on voting rights legislation, and they believe he tried to suppress minority voters. But he was just advanced after the Senate broke a Democratic-led filibuster by the narrowest of margins. Vice President Mike Pence had to come in to break a tie, 51-50. That vote for Thomas Farr to sit on this district court has now advanced over the objections of Democrats.
And now one Republican voted against the proceeding. That is Jeff Flake, of Arizona, because he had demanded a vote on a bill to protect special counsel, Robert Mueller. That has not happened yet. He voted no.
And in a late break, Tim Scott, the lone African-American Senator - Republican Senator, on the vote to advance this nomination, withholding his vote.
So a dramatic moment but it looks like President Trump will get another nominee, a controversial one, on the lower court -- Brianna?
KEILAR: All right. Manu, thank you.
Now, back to our breaking news. CNN is getting an exclusive first look at some of President Trump's written answers to Robert Mueller.
[13:49:22] Plus, racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism. Up next, why the state of hate is on the rise across the globe.
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KEILAR: In our series this week, "THE STATE OF HATE," a new exclusive CNN poll uncovered some disturbing attitudes towards Jews in Europe. One in five Europeans said anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.
One-fourth said Jews had too much influence in business and finance. But one of the most surprising figures was this, one-third of Europeans surveyed said they knew nothing or very little off the Holocaust, the genocide during World War II in which Germany's Nazi leaders murdered six million Jews.
As senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, shows us, decades, later, there's a concerning uptick of anti-Semitism in that very country.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a sight you don't expect to see in Germany in 2018. Hundreds of right-wing extremists, many Neo-Nazis marching through the nation's capital. "Close the border," they shout, "resistance, resistance."
WARD: The far right is enjoying a major comeback here, bringing with it a troubling rise in anti-Semitism. According to government figures, anti-Semitic attacks have increased by 20 percent in the last five years. The number of violent right-wing extremists has gone up by nearly a third.
This man tells us a shadowy cabal of globalists controls the world.
(on camera): When you talk about elites and you talk about finance, is that another way of saying Jewish people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD: It is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WARD (voice-over): "Let me say it this way, the banking system for sure, banks, finance, the economy. Mainly Jews," he said.
We had more questions but our conversation was cut short by one of the marches' organizers.
[13:55:08] (on camera): I think we have someone who is following --
(voice-over): Making anti-Semitic statements can be punishable under German law.
But Christian Weisberger explains that Neo-Nazis are finding new ways to express the same old hatred. And he should know. Weisberger used to be a right-wing extremist himself.
CHRISTIAN WEISBERGER, FORMER RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST: I would say that it is a form of anti-Semitism that disguises itself. So they don't talk about the Jew anymore. They talk about the Zionists or the globalists or the bankers.
WARD: And they are growing more brazen. One man flashes a quick but unmistakable Nazi salute right in front of us, a crime in Germany.
WARD: It's important to remember this isn't any country. This is Germany.
Just a few hundred yards from the march is a memorial for the millions of Jews murdered here in the Second World War.
(on camera): More than 70 years after the Holocaust, Germany is still haunted by its past. And yet, remarkably, anti-Semitism is once again a growing problem here, with 50 percent of Germans agreeing that Jewish people are now at risk of racist violence.
(voice-over): The statistic comes from a CNN poll that also found half of Germans believe Jews are at risk of hate speech.
At Feinberg's Israeli Restaurant, owner, Yorai, says he gets threats every day.
YORAI FEINBERG, OWNER, FEINBERG'S ISRAELI RESTAURANT: From a murder, to I'll break your knees, I'll break your arms, I'll break your teeth. They're very creative in all the options they want to break.
WARD: He was recently accosted by a man who tells him Jews will end up in the gas chamber.
WARD: "It's only about the money for you, you will pay," the man says to him. "Nobody wants you here."
WARD: He told you, you will go back to the gas chambers?
WARD: You've heard that before?
FEINBERG: Very often.
WARD (voice-over): Germany has acknowledged it has a problem, recently appointed its first anti-Semitism czar. Felix Klein is focused on a nationwide system for reporting anti-Semitic crime and on improving integration of Germany's different communities.
FELIX KLEIN, GERMANY ANTI-SEMITISM CZAR: Anti-Semitism has always existed in Germany also after 1945. Now, though, this is showing its ugly face more openly. Things that people would never have dared to say in a bar or a restaurant that the private surroundings, do so now using social media or the net.
WARD: Germany has seen upticks in Neo-Nazi activity before, most notably in the 1990s.
While official statistics show that more than 90 percent of an anti- Semitic attacks nationwide are from the far right, there's a new element of concern from the Jewish community, the arrival of 1.4 Muslim refugees in the last three years.
Doron Rubin is the leader of Germany's small Orthodox Jewish community.
DORON RUBIN, LEADER, GERMANY'S ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY: With the incoming of a lot of immigrants who have a different history and different background and especially obviously coming from the Middle East, also because of Israel, a different attitude towards Jews.
KLEIN: When we talk about Muslim-originated anti-Semitism, I think we can only win that battle with the help of the moderate Muslims. Without them, this wouldn't be a successful fight. WARD: Overall, the Jewish community remains anxious.
RUBIN: I think much more Jews think again can we call Germany our home and is it possible to live in this society? You can note it is a question that might not have been asked five years ago is starting to pop up again.
WARD: It's a question few in this country ever imagined would have to be asked again.
Clarissa Ward, CNN, Berlin.
KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. What President Trump told Robert Mueller about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. This is a CNN exclusive.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, we'll take it. Thank you so much.
Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[15:00:00] We begin with breaking news that's exclusive to CNN. We are just learning what President Trump told Special Counsel Robert Mueller in writing about two specific issues --