Return to Transcripts main page


Comey Calls on Americans to "Use Every Breath" to Oust Trump; Alleged Russian Spy Who Courted GOP Appears to Reach Plea Deal; Kavanaugh Joins Liberals in Rejecting Planned Parenthood Case; Manafort Waives Right to Appear in Tomorrow's Court Hearing; Study Shows Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Need Update. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 10, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BILL WEIR, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: They both agree that California is also paying for the sin of building into the wilderness with no regard for natural cycles.

(on camera): But I suppose the lesson is, if you don't have a lot of little fires throughout the seasons, you're going to have some really big ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. That's right. And the little fires, if you can imagine checkerboarding a landscape with a lot of little fires, it can really do a lot to minimize those bigger fires later.

WEIR: There are around 130 million dead trees in California. Controlled burning or cutting them would cost billions. But the risk of leaving them to burn wild is anyone's guess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the problems we have as part of human nature is that one, we rely upon our past experiences to predict how things are going to go forward. And so, I've talked to a lot of citizens who have said, yes, we were aware of fires, but they were always able to stop them on the ridge before they got there. And so, I think it engenders this false sense of security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of natural hazards have been viewed that way, sort of through the lens of history. And now, it's much more like, uh, we can't really rely on history as a guide anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and I believe that, you know, from when I started, the fires that we see on a regular basis are much more -- they're larger, they're more destructive. And the future generation moving forward, they have a very dangerous job ahead of them.


WEIR: And there's so many effects of this disaster, Brooke, that are so hard to see. There's the trauma to the kids that lost their schools, PTSD for those who lived through this sort of thing. There's the chemicals, all the plastics, all of the appliances that burned and melted into the ground that people are now worried are going to leach down into the creek systems, some which are salmon streams up here. So, this is just the beginning of what could be a $20, $30 billion fire. Just one fire of hundreds, Brooke. And again, you can see on a day like this with the sun shining, why people live here, it is paradise. And they're going to come back, but it's a reminder to think differently about how we interact with environments like this.

BALDWIN: Totally. It is so far from over. And I am so glad you and our crew are there telling that story and calling attention In Paradise, California, Bill Weir. Bill, thank you so much.

In other news, James Comey, definitely not holding back, calling on Americans to use every breath they have to oust the President in 2020. Is this appropriate, considering he is a witness in an active investigation?

And a surprising headline today. The Supreme Court deciding not to hear a case involving Planned Parenthood. Hear how new justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court's liberal justices in this very decision.


BALDWIN: The woman accused of being a Russian spy and trying to infiltrate powerful Republican Party circles may have reached a deal with prosecutors. Her name is Maria Butina. She has been in jail since she was arrested and charged with illegally acting as a foreign agent. She allegedly trying to gain access to Republicans during the 2016 campaign in order to advance Russian interests. So, with this, Sara Murray is with me, our CNN political correspondent who first reported this news. Sara, is there a deal?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does appear that there is some kind of deal. Right now, we have very sort of small details. We've got a notice from the court that there is a change in plea hearing requested by her attorneys, as well as the prosecutors, the judge has now set that hearing for Wednesday. So, we'll get more details then.

But what it tells you that Maria Butina is ready to change her plea. She had originally said she was not guilty on a count of conspiracy and acting on a foreign agent. Now the fact that she's going to change her plea means that she's going to plead guilty to at least one of these charges. We don't know which one yet. And it also means she may begin cooperating with the government. On what, we're still waiting to see.

But remember, this is the woman that the government said was essentially acting as a Russian spy. She made inroads with the National Rifle Association. She snapped a bunch of pics with 2016 Presidential hopefuls, even asked candidate Donald Trump a question at a political event. So, it will be very interesting to see how this plays out in court on Wednesday -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: If she does talk, what kind of information could she offer up?

MURRAY: Well, I think one of the big questions is what's going to happen to her boyfriend, Paul Erickson. He's a South Dakota political operative. We know that investigators have been looking at him in South Dakota for a fraud investigation. Investigators are also looking at him and his ties to Maria Butina and whether he was sort of helping her in what they believe was this plot. So that's one question.

The other question is whether she has information to offer at all on the Russians, because the government said that she stayed in touch with her Russian handlers while she was here in the U.S., attending American University. So, again, we'll see on Wednesday if we can get any more details on why she might be useful to the government, if they believe she's useful to them.

BALDWIN: Good deal. We'll talk again on Wednesday, then. Sara Murray, thank you very much.

Also, in Washington, the Supreme Court today handing a big win to Planned Parenthood by choosing not to hear a case that could have taken away critical funds from the women's health organization. So, here's how the votes came down. Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh, agreeing with the liberals on the bench, voting against taking the case. The three conservative justices who sided with the Republican-led states that brought the case were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. Our Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic is with me now. She has covered this court for 25 years. Joan, what was behind the no vote from both Roberts and Kavanaugh?

[15:40:00] JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: You know, Brooke, I think this is the legal equivalent of, we're not touching this with a 10-foot-pole. You know, the chief really doesn't want any revealing of conflicts or tension right now. And he just in November had said, you know, we are not Trump judges, we're not Obama judges. We are above politics and we're above the ideological fray. And this is exactly the kind of case that could have revealed a 5 to 4 court. So, it was in his interest to avoid the topic.

But what's interesting, Brooke, is showing kind of a partner in Brett Kavanaugh, our newest justice appointed by President Trump, who really has sent so many signals against abortion rights. And even though abortion wasn't involved here, you know, there would have been, under normal circumstances, a signal that you would have thought Brett Kavanaugh might have gone with the more conservative justices. But he clearly has aligned with the chief here.

And what Clarence Thomas wrote, joined by justices Alito and Gorsuch was, look, you're avoiding this only because it's about Planned Parenthood. You're abdicating your judicial duty because it's a politically fraught, ideologically fraught case.

BALDWIN: What do you think this will mean for abortion rights moving forward?

BISKUPIC: Well, that's a great question. Because as much as Medicaid funding matters for poor women who are using these kinds of services that Planned Parenthood provides, the larger question is, what will happen down the road to Roe v. Wade? And we know the four liberals don't want to take that up. And I think today is a signal from Chief Justice John Roberts and from Brett Kavanaugh that there's a good flashing sign that says, not now. That they do not want to tangle with even tangential reproductive rights question here. They don't want to go near abortion, I would suspect -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Joan Biskupic, thank you very much.

Coming up next. Fired FBI director, James Comey, not at all holding back in a new interview. Comparing President Trump to a mob boss. And here why Comey says he doesn't want to see the President impeached.


BALDWIN: Just into CNN, just three days after Robert Mueller revealed his sentencing memo for the President's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, we are learning new details on Manafort's next steps. So, Sara Murray is back up with us. Sara Murray, what do we know? There's a court hearing expected this week. Will he be there?

MURRAY: That's right. The court hearing has now been set for Tuesday. And the judge basically wants to see these parties back in court. This is after Paul Manafort breached his cooperation deal. The government says he was lying. Now from this latest filing, we're learning that Paul Manafort has waived his right to attend Tuesday's court hearing.

Remember, the last time we actually saw Paul Manafort in court, he really surprised people because he showed up to court in a wheelchair. And the word from his legal team was that he was having some health issues that were related to his incarceration. But in terms of what this D.C. court appearance -- or D.C. court hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday, it says he's waiving his right to attend because of the time involved in having the U.S. Marshal Service transport me to and from the courthouse. He's being held right now in a Virginia jail that's about 30 minutes outside of D.C. So, he's saying he basically does not want to make the trip -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Staying put. Sara Murray, got it. Thank you.

Meantime, James Comey caused questions, brought criticism for his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation in the run-up to the 2016 election. Fast forward a few years and he might want to brace for a bit more of both. The former FBI director held court at the 92nd street "Y" here in New York last night, weighing in on all things Trump, including the prospect of impeachment.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I hope Donald Trump is not removed from office by impeachment. Because, it would let the country off the hook. And it would drive into the fabric of our nation a third of the people believing there was a coup. And we need a moment of inflection, where we all get off the couch and say, that is not who we are. And in a landslide, rid ourselves of this attack on our values. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Comey went on to compare the President to the mob bosses he once prosecuted. He also weighed in on Trump's tweet storms about the Mueller investigation and how it might be interpreted as witness tampering.


COMEY: I don't know how the Special Counsel thinks about it, but if I were a prosecutor and a public figure started attacking the credibility of one of my witnesses in a pending investigation, that's something that I would look at very closely.


BALDWIN: CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston is with us. And Maeve, obviously, I don't need to remind everyone, that, you know, Comey is a witness in an active investigation and here he is, you know, walking a fine line, getting quite political.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Certainly, getting quite political, Brooke. But I think that what you saw throughout that interview with Nicole Wallace was the sense that he is just really at the point where he feels that Trump's attacks on the Department of Justice and our institutions are really harming democracy at this point. And so, he is making the case that the lies coming from the White House and Trump's qualities. He talked about, you know, Trump's insecurity and the way that that kind of governs his actions. That they're just too much. And that he's calling for a moment of inflexion where the American people decide this is an issue of competency and vote him out of office. We still don't know how many people would agree with that assessment of Donald Trump.

[15:50:00] But it's very interesting to hear that perspective from someone who worked as closely as he did with Donald Trump and observed him in the oval office in that setting.

And it was interesting, in going on in the sound bite that you played, he talked about how he felt optimistic for the country, and its institutions. Because of the number of people that did get off the couch in the November election. And we are seeing kind of a gradual shift here that could potentially make big waves in the presidential election. But it's not clear yet, you know, how many people will agree with that perspective.

BALDWIN: Yes. I know. It's extraordinary to hear, to your point, of all people, Comey saying, no, don't impeach him, let's let Americans decide.


BALDWIN: Meantime, you know, we reported so much on his book and how he talked about President Trump as, in his words, untethered to the truth. This is what he had to say about the President lying last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: I can tell you that all of us should use every breath we have to make sure that the lying stops on January 20th, 2021.


BALDWIN: So, we have been making this point, right, that everyone needs to show up. I think he said, sort of like, you know, that way, you know, a third of the country -- if he were to be impeached, perhaps a third of the country would feel like it was this coup, right, instead of having everyone's voices be heard.

RESTON: The hardcore.

BALDWIN: Exactly.

Yes. The hardcore Trump supporters clearly would see it as a coup. That's the fine line that the Democrats have to walk here.


RESTON: But he is also kind of expressing what you hear quietly at this point from Republican sources. Which is a feeling of could there be a nominee that could, you know, really challenge Trump on a competency level. Someone that some Republicans would feel comfortable getting behind. And in that way, move this country in a different direction. You know, the Howard Schultz's of the world or the Bloomberg's of the world. They could potentially offer something different than what Trump is offering now. And, again, you know, the next year will show us whether or not voters really are ready for that yet.

BALDWIN: Yes. Maeve Reston, thank you very much.

RESTON: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: More ahead on the major story of the day. The President of the United States now officially implicated in two crimes during the campaign. Details on how Robert Mueller's investigation is closing in on Trump and his inner circle.

And as the search heats up for the President's next chief of staff, Chris Christie is now in the discussion. Details ahead.


BALDWIN: A new study says guidelines that determine who receives genetic testing for breast cancer are woefully out-of-date. The current guidelines put in place from 20 years ago limit the number of women who may qualify for the testing. And what that means for you is that if you have hereditary breast cancer genes that you don't get tested for them, you may not get properly treated. So, with me now, Dr. Roshini Raj, associate professor of medicine at NYU and a contributing medical editor at "Health" magazine. Dr. Raj, hello, hello, 20 years? ROSHINI RAJ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, NYU LANGONE HEALTH:

We're talking about breast cancer, which we know is the most common cancer for women, taking away skin cancer. And one of the most deadly forms of cancer. One in eight American women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. So very common cancer. And about 10 percent of breast cancer cases do have a genetic predisposition. Something that could be tested with genetic tests.

What we're finding out from the study is about half the people that could really benefit from that testing under the current guidelines would not be offered the testing, and it would not be covered by most insurance plans. So, this is a major problem. And why is genetic testing so important? It effects the type of surgery a woman may get and whether or not they get chemotherapy, and the type of chemotherapy.

BALDWIN: What does this mean for women?

RAJ: Well, what the authors of this study are saying, and many scientists and doctors agree, is that we really need to change guidelines so that really every woman who has a breast cancer diagnosis gets the right genetic testing. So, they know, do they fall under those category 10 percent of cases that will benefit from a specific type of surgery, a specific treatment that can prolong their survival. It's also in effect whether their family members get tested as well.

BALDWIN: Isn't this also insurance? Like insurance companies, they rely on these guidelines before determining to pay.

RAJ: That's exactly right. And that's why the guidelines are so important, that they're up to date. Now these guidelines were created at a time where these tests were extremely expensive. About $5,000 a pop. And that was one of the reasons why they really limited the number of people that were getting tested. Now, thanks to technology and also legality and patents that are no longer standing, the cost of the tests has really reduced significantly.


RAJ: So, it's absolutely time to open doors in terms of genetic testing and once the guidelines change, the insurance companies will have to follow suit.

BALDWIN: When will they change? When will this be updated?

RAJ: This is what -- you know, this new study comes out and is really asking for it to be done immediately. It will certainly take a little bit of time, but this is the first step towards making that happen, which will really benefit a huge number of women.

BALDWIN: Dr. Roshini Raj, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I was at the doctor next week. I have a big birthday next year and she said you've got to start thinking about this. Thank you very much.

RAJ: Thank you. BALDWIN: Last couple seconds of this show. Let's show you before the

closing bell, the Dow. We have talked so much about the roller coaster week last week bouncing back after last week, despite chaos. We were talking to Richard Quest earlier about what's going on with Brexit, that delayed vote, Theresa May, today. Uncertainty over the tenuous truce between China and the United States, the trade war. So, we're keeping a close eye on that.

And with that, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me for the last two hours. Let's go to Washington, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.