Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Says He'll No Longer Meet with Putin at G-20; Trump Cancels Putin Meeting after Cohen Plea; Can Trump Work with Xi on China Trade, Tariffs; Mueller Zeros in on Trump in 3 Big Areas; Rising Hate and Violence Across the U.S. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 29, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:52] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The expected meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is not happening. Less than an hour after saying it was still on, he tweeted about the cancellation.

CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, joining me now from Argentina.

This meeting was supposed to take place there at the G-20 summit. What's the reason for cancelling it and do we know why the president waited until he got on the plane to make this announcement?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, that is one of the enduring mysteries of the day. We saw the president saying looking forward to the meeting, it was a very good time to have that meeting, in his words. And less than an hour later, he was being briefed by his secretary of state, his chief of staff and others, and he sends out the note saying, if Russia does not release the Ukraine sailors and ships, he thinks it's not appropriate to have the meeting.

Brianna, the biggest thing that changed are the other Russia headlines. The optics of the president meeting one on one with Vladimir Putin here at the G-20 summit is not something he wants to do. He is trying to change the subject by showing that he's, for the first time, or in a rare instance, taking a harder-line approach against Vladimir Putin. If they do not have a face-to-face meeting, there will not be comparisons to the Helsinki summit where Trump was criticized for cozying up to Vladimir Putin.

Brianna, the reality is both leaders are flying here at the same times, their paths are going to meet at that meeting. Even if they don't have a face-to-face meeting, one on one, that is still the subject of so much discussion here. What did the president have dealings with in Russia? Did he have any that is hanging over the summit here that begins now -- Brianna?

[13:35:38] KEILAR: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta back with us now.

I wonder what you think, Mr. Secretary, about this cancellation and the president finally taking a hard line on Ukraine. But this being really just a short time after we learned about how connected he is to Russia through this Cohen plea.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It goes back to the fundamental issue between a president who is totally consumed, I'm sure, by the Mueller investigation and the news that comes out every day, such as this Cohen plea, that creates a huge shadow over the presidency. The concern I have, again, is how it affects his ability to conduct the office of the presidency. Generally, if you are going to the G-20, this is a great opportunity for the president of the United States to confront Russia on the Ukraine and deal with the issue of the nuclear agreement and what will happen with that. This is a great opportunity to deal with issues related to North Korea and the failure to get North Korea to come around to denuclearization. And it's a great opportunity to meet with the Turkish president and talk about the Khashoggi issue and what should be done there. Normally, a president would engage on these issues. And it's important to engage because it relates American national security. In this instance, the president, because of this issue that keeps trailing him wherever he goes, in a way, he is now avoiding the very responsibilities he should be implementing as the president of the United States.

KEILAR: What can really come out -- changing the subject here, but talking about the G-20 summit, what can come out of this summit when it has to do with China and trade and the fact that we could be looking at tariffs.

PANETTA: A huge national security and economic issue. We have seen our economy go through some bumps recently. The concern is we may have a slowdown next year if these tariffs go into effect we have a full-scale trade war with China. And it could seriously impact on the state of our economy. The big issue is going to be the president sitting down with President Xi and determining whether or not they can back off a little bit and engage in some kind of negotiation to resolve these issues. If the president fails to do that, then this G- 20 is almost collapsing before he gets there.

KEILAR: Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary Leon Panetta. We appreciate you being with us today.

PANETTA: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have more on the breaking news. Robert Mueller is clearly zeroing in on the president. A look at three big areas the special counsel is taking a look at and how they could be putting the president in a corner.


[13:43:25] KEILAR: It's all about connecting the dots. Robert Mueller's search for any links between the Trump campaign and Russia seems to be focusing in on key areas right now.

We want to bring in the CNN senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt. Alex, walk us through the issues that Mueller appears to be looking at

here and also the players involved.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All about connecting the dots. Brianna, this is a complex web that the special counsel is navigating, but there are a number of clear strands Robert Mueller is following.

Let's break this down into three different parts. First, Roger Stone and what he knew about WikiLeaks and the hacked Democratic e-mails in the runup to the election. Roger Stone is a long-time Trump associate. According to draft court papers, Stone is accused by his long-time friend, Jerome Corsi, of telling Corsi to contact WikiLeaks head, Julian Assange, who has been hiding out at the Ecuadoran embassy in London for the last several years, and tell Corsi to, quote, "get the e-mails." Brianna, if there's a proven link between WikiLeaks and Roger Stone, that would create a direct line from the Russian hackers, military hackers, to the Trump inner circle.

Next, that infamous meeting between Donald Trump and the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. That was in early June 2016. Don Jr was joined by several others including Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. With that lawyer who is connected to the Kremlin, they were trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. We know this is of interest to Mueller. This was one of the two main subjects that the special counsel focused on in a long list of written questions they submitted to the president, who has now answered them in writing. CNN learned Trump told Mueller he knew nothing about the meeting before it happened. If that is shown to be a lie, the president would be in big trouble.

[13:45:14] Today's big news involving long-time Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen who plead guilty for lying to Congress. We learned today Cohen e-mailed the Kremlin press secretary in January 2016 about permissions that would be need from the Russian government for the Trump Tower project. Cohen never heard back from Dmitry Peskov, but we learned today that Cohen kept Trump, then the presumptive Republican nominee for president, abreast of the developments in that deal, updating him far longer than Cohen told Congress, well past 2016, meaning that Trump allegedly had business ties with Russia as he was running for president -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Coming up, the state of hate. CNN's special report on a disturbing rise in hate crimes all across this country.


[13:50:27] KEILAR: Now to our series about "THE RISING STATE OF HATE" in America. Cameras and social media exposing some very ugly and, at times, violent clashes around the country, some attacks even turning deadly.

CNN's Sara Sidner looks at why hate crimes are happening more and more.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're all seeing hatred exposed on cell phones and social media. But that's not what creates hate. It's what captures it.

You're going to hear some racial slurs in this story. We're doing that specifically so you can see what is really happening in America today as some Americans are facing a rising state of hate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to kill every one of you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Muslims.

SIDNER (voice-over): Across America, racism and anger once hidden in the shadows --


SIDNER: -- now pouring out into the light.

In Santa Monica, a racist tirade over a parking space, a message for Muslims in a car in North Dakota.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to kill every one of you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Muslims.

SIDNER: A black Army veteran targeting and killing white police officers in Dallas.

A landscaper abused in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you hate us? Because we're Mexican?


SIDNER: Words of hate, which seemed to be banished, now brandished more and more often. The FBI says, in 2017, hate crimes shot up 17 percent. The motivation for nearly 60 percent of those ,the government says, was race, ethnicity or ancestry.

KEVIN GUNN, AUNT KILLED BY SHOOTER: She didn't see it coming.

SIDNER: Kevin Gunn's favorite aunt, Vicky Jones, survived cancer but she didn't survive hate. And 67-year-old Jones and 69-year-old Maria Stallard shot dead while grocery shopping, targeted because of their skin color, police say. They were blacked, the alleged shooter white.

A white witness armed with a gun told his son what the shooter said while fleeing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "Please don't shoot and I won't shoot you." He said, "White don't kill whites."

SIDNER (on camera): What do you think about what was said?

GUNN: It hurts. It's sad. It's terrible. People have the right to just exist.

SIDNER (voice-over): The suspect, police say, could have caused far more carnage.

Pastor Kevin Nelson says a parishioner saw him earlier at their church door.

KEVIN NELSON, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: He bangs on it and backs up, so whoever would have opened it would have possibly gotten shot and killed.

SIDNER: His church began locking its doors after White Supremacist Dylann Roof entered this predominantly black church and massacred nine people as they prayed.

Ken Parker knows something about the hate that motivated Dylann Roof. A Navy veteran, Parker says he was out of work and without direction. He joined the Ku Klux Klan and later a Neo-Nazi group. Their biggest selling point: making them feel he was important, part of a bigger cause.

KEN PARKER, NAVY VETERAN & FORMER KU KLUX KLAN MEMBER & FORMER MEMBER, NEO-NAZI GROUP: They were looking at it as we're going to have a race war one day. The more people on our side the better.

SIDNER: At the time, Barack Obama was president. Some white supremacists touted the first black president as the number-one threat to white people.

PARKER: We would even joke amongst ourselves like, hey, we're going to send President Obama an honorary membership to the Klan because he's our biggest recruiting tool.


SIDNER: Then came the election of President Donald J. Trump. White nationalists cheered his anti-immigration rhetoric. Racists who feared what they call the browning of America began believing President Trump was the answer to their prayers.

PARKER: They want to have an all-white ethnicity state where white people just live by themselves.

SIDNER: Seven months after Trump's inauguration, Parker virtually paid $20 to help fill a bus of racists headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a protest about a federal monument. They dubbed it "The Hate Bus," reminiscent of a bus from the 1960s created by another Neo- Nazi.

PARKER: On paper, we were going there to stand up for the white race. But honestly, I think everyone was just going to fight.

SIDNER (voice-over): Violence does happen and a woman is killed. What did you think at that point?

PARKER: When I found out that she died, I was happy at the time. SIDNER (voice-over): He and his cohorts, giddy when an alleged Neo-

Nazi sympathizer killed counter protester, Heather Heyer.

In their minds, the race war they wanted was beginning to materialize. But when the president condemned the attacks, he added --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also have people that were very fine people on both sides.

SIDNER (on camera): How did that play in the group, the good people on both sides?

[13:55:03] PARKER: Honestly, some of them were really happy about it. And then Trump backpedaled on it a little bit and then others in the movement got angry at Trump. Trump wasn't anti-Jewish enough, he wasn't doing enough for white nationalism.

SIDNER (voice-over): Michael German spent 16 years trying to counter domestic terrorism as an FBI special agent.

(on camera): There's always a counterargument from this administration that the leftists are violent, that AntiFa is violent. And there's some evidence of that.

MICHAEL GERMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: How many people has anyone association with the AntiFa movement killed? None. How many has this side of white supremacists killed? Many.

SIDNER (voice-over): According to the Government Accountability Office, since 9/11, while radical Islamists were responsible for 27 percent of extremist motivated deaths, the far-right wing accounted for 73 percent of the deadly incidents, far more than any other group.


SIDNER: In Parker's case, it wasn't law enforcement but love that thawed his hate.

(on camera): So you decided that animosity wasn't the way and shunning wasn't the way but the opposite?

PARKER: Absolutely. I fight for peace. And what better way than to start in your own community.

SIDNER (voice-over): His neighbor, Pastor Will McKinnon, not only opened his arms, he opened his small, predominantly black church to Parker. His outreach washed away the hate.


SIDNER (on camera): Parker isn't just talking the talk. He is physically removing hate symbols from his body. He has spent hours having the swastika on his chest and the hate symbols on his legs removed. It is painful, he says, but he says he knows it's probably nothing compared to the pain and fear he may have caused others.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


KEILAR: To see more pieces form this incredible CNN series, "STATE OF HATE," log on to

Coming up, breaking news, the president's former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleads guilty to lying to Congress and implicates the president in the process. New details, next.