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Results Soon in Secret Vote to Decide Theresa May's Fate; Trump Accused of "Mansplaining" to Pelosi; Trump on Associates' Contact with Russians, "Peanut Stuff"; Russia Accuses U.S. of Torturing Accused by Maria Butina. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired December 12, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He may not -- they may not be able to trade with the U.S. and I don't think they want that at all. That would be a very big negative for the deal.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Susan, we don't know whether May makes it through this vote or not. What kind of -- what kind of person in that post does the U.S. need when it comes to interacting with someone like Donald Trump?
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, first of all, number one, Brooke, I think this is one of the under covered stories in the way, the story of the Trump administration and rest of the world. Is the dramatic and even alarming decline in what used to be the special relationship between the United States and the U.K. Relations -- I just had someone who follows this much more close lively than I do just told me an hour ago -- seems to be the worst that they have been between the United States and Great Britain since the Suez crisis in 1956.
And you know, the President doesn't really have a close relationship with Theresa May -- with any of America's traditional partners and peers in Europe. And of course, that means at a moment of crisis in the past you would have expected the United States to help to play a leading role of some kind. When its own close friend and partner is having this kind of internal political crisis and meltdown.
Instead the United States is not only absent but you see from those clips you just played at times the President even cheering for what looks like increased political chaos in Great Britain or for the lack of success of its leader. So, I'm sure they're paying close attention to this vote at the White House today but I'm not sure which outcome they even prefer.
BALDWIN: The outcome we'll know in less than an hour. You know, the leadership of one of the world's powers could look very different. What are the political up sides for President Trump if she leaves?
GLASSER: Well, he has at times, you know, been very critical of Theresa May. And I think he's been very positive, for example, on some of her party rivals like the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Who is one possibility -- who was perceived as a big supporter of Brexit initially. And remember that Theresa May was not initially a supporter of Brexit. Trump has always identified his own political success, very much -- that Brexit was sort of the early indicator that someone like him could win here in the U.S., and he always sort of in tandem saw himself alongside Brexit. So, he's always cheered for that. I think that he increasingly has identified a rift with the European Union as part of his own political agenda. So again, I think he'd be looking for a hardline Brexiteer type.
BALDWIN: What if -- playing out the scenarios. Ann, back over to you. You know, if she passes but just by the skin of her teeth? What are the ramifications for her, for Brexit?
ANN BERRY, FINANCIAL ANALYST : I think if she passes even with a tiny margin, this vote still has to go to Parliament and then we're in the tear it job. If Parliament votes this down, now what do we have? And I think the situation here that the new, there could be a call for a general election. I think there is a very narrow real scenario that we have a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. And that would lead to an interesting dynamic. Because we think about what is that mean for President Trump and his reaction with another leader of the United Kingdom? But something that was unthinkable a year now is very much on the table. Because the next extension of that is, could we have a second referendum?
BALDWIN: Jeremy Corbyn just for an American perspective more like the Bernie Sanders of --
BALDWIN: Right. Ann, thank you. Susan, thank you. We wait and watch for that.
Coming up next, the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is not here to be talked down by President Trump. And that was in a full display during that oval office confrontation yesterday morning. We'll get into that and why this moment is resonating so much with women around the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to have a good discussion and we're going to see what happens.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. President --
TRUMP: But we have to have border security.
PELOSI: Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Their oval office clash lasted for 17 explosive minutes and then 24 hours later, people are still talking about it, it's still sparking conversation. The President claimed he was having a friendly conversation with Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, but a lot of people saw it differently. Especially when it comes to changes like this with the woman who may soon be Speaker of the House again.
TRUMP: I also know that, you know, Nancy is in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now and I understand that. I fully understand that. We're going to have a good discussion and we're going to see what happens. But we have to have border security.
PELOSI: Mr. President, please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.
PELOSI: Let me just say --
TRUMP: That's right. And that's why the country is doing so well.
PELOSI: But a president is representing in his cards over there are not factual. We have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent and how effective it is. This isn't -- this is about the security of our country. We take an oath to protect and defend. We don't want to have this mischaracterized by anyone.
TRUMP: I agree with that.
PELOSI: And we are --
TRUMP: No, no, I agree with.
PELOSI: -- So let us have a conversation where we don't have to contradict in public the statistics that you put forth but instead can have a conversation that help us really work and what the American people deserve from us.
[15:40:00] BALDWIN: And that, my friends, led to claims that Trump was "mansplaining". And if you have been hiding under a rock and do not know what "mansplaining" is -- easier for me to say. Let me define it, thanks to Merriam-Webster. Quote, when a man talks condescendingly to someone, especially a woman about something he has incomplete knowledge with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does.
CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston, is with me. And, Maeve, I've got to quote Amanda Mull and her piece in the "Atlantic". She picked up on all of this and this is what she writes.
These might be extraordinary circumstances, but the interaction itself isn't unusual for many women across the political spectrum and at varying levels of professional power. When someone in America gets interrupted or talked over, it's probably a woman, and there is no level of success that appears able to subvert the reality.
It's like, hello, we've all been mansplained and now this includes Nancy Pelosi.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That's true. But, Brooke, for this conversation I went back and was counting the interruptions there and certainly Trump interrupted Pelosi more than a dozen times. But at the same time, she was interrupting him back, and this was maybe the best thing that has happened to her at this moment as she inches closer and closer to, you know, locking up the votes that she needs to be speaker.
But it's also true that, you know, this is the reason why so many women turned out in this election, in 2018 and why we saw that enormous gender gap with, you know, Democrats having a 19-point advantage in the exit polls over Republicans. Because so many women that you and I talked to over the last year feel triggered by behavior like this by the President and feel as though women are being demeaned at a national level. And a lot of them that I talked to, particularly like mother/daughter pairs who came out to canvas for House candidates, came out for that reason, they wanted a show of women power and that's what Nancy Pelosi give them right there.
BALDWIN: Totally. Yes, women -- a lot of women are ticked off and they are doing something about it. But as you mentioned -- so, she interrupted him right back. And after this meeting leader Pelosi took a jab at the President saying the whole display -- and I'm quoting her now -- was like a manhood thing as if manhood could ever be associated with him. Now on one side you could say, Oh, you know, burn. Right. But on the other, talking about his manhood. Did she really need to go there? Did those comments discredit her performance? How do you see it?
RESTON: Well, I think that, you know, that is a showing of what we're potentially going to see next year. She's at a moment where she has to show people -- and she told Dana Bash in that interview, you know, that she eats nails for breakfast and that she's not going to be pushed around by anyone. And that she wants other women across America to see that. So, what was clear I think from that exchange is that she's not planning on backing down in any sense. And even the fact that the President was referring to her over and over again as Nancy, I mean, how often do you hear that in Washington? Almost never. It's a place where titles are important and where --
TRUMP: Chuck and Nancy.
RESTON: -- respect is important. Yes. And you know, it's just -- it was just a moment where she really needed to stand her ground and clearly, it's helping her lock up many of those votes -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It is. Maeve Reston, thank you very much.
RESTON: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Good talking to you.
Still ahead here. Accused Russian spy, Maria Butina, is expected to change her plea to guilty at this court hearing tomorrow. And now the Russians are accusing the U.S. of torturing her. We are live in Moscow with details.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: So, we all know this President struggles with the truth. "The Washington Post" chooses to rate his false statements with a certain number of Pinocchios. And because some claims have become so egregious -- meaning 20 lies or more. They've actually added a category called the bottomless Pinocchio.
With that said, let me turn your attention to Trump's interview with Reuters last night. So, up first year, Michael Cohen who forcefully and repeatedly denied that the President had anything to do with the hush money payments. The prosecutors now say Cohen was directed by him and it sounds like Trump may agree. Because in the span of eight months, we have gone from this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
TRUMP: No, no.
REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?
TRUMP: You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: To this. The President telling Reuters, quote: Number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. If it were, it's only civil. And even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?
Key phrase, what we did. And hush money wasn't the only area where the President's memory has, shall we say, evolved. How about the 16 members of team Trump who have met with the Russians. Everyone from his children to his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
So, last year the President said, neither he nor anyone around him was in touch with the Russians. And last night he said and again I quote: The stuff you're talking about is peanuts stuff. Peanuts stuff, something that's definitely that peanuts stuff, the trade war between Europe and China.
[15:50:04] A back-and-forth that has now ensnared this woman. The CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei. She's now out on bail after being arrested in Canada and threatened with extradition to the U.S. over accusations she helped her firm evade Iran sanctions. Now Trump says he may intervene in her case if it helps with trade talks. Essentially saying, yes, she might be a bargaining chip.
But while the President may get involved there, he is still pretty hands-off when it comes to Saudis Crown Prince and the murder of "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. When asked by Reuters about the CIA's assessment that the prince, MBS, ordered Khashoggi's death. Trump says he's standing by Mohammad bin Salman, while calling Saudi Arabia a great ally. And today U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley broke with her boss on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think we need to have a serious, hard talk with the Saudis to let them know, we won't condone this. We won't give you a pass. And don't do this again. So, we sanctioned 17 individuals. We have to have some hard conversations. And we have to figure out what accountability looks like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And just finally, there is one more thing clearly on the President's mind, whether he will be able to stay in office. Trump seems pretty confident, saying you can't be impeached if you don't do anything wrong. And then he made the rather ominous prediction quoting him, I think the people would revolt if that happened. Revolt. So, did we just get a preview of the President's strategy for the months ahead? Stay tuned. Back to our breaking news.
In two court cases linked to the President, his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, sentenced to three years in prison today. And the parent company of the "National Enquirer" now admitting their role in a hush money payment intended to help Trump right before the Presidential election. Stay here.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: In a CNN exclusive, Moscow is accusing the U.S. of torturing accused Russian spy, Maria Butina. Butina is in the U.S. custody, is moving toward this deal with federal prosecutors. She is expected to change her plea to guilty in this court hearing tomorrow. CNN's senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is live in Moscow. And Fred, you scored this exclusive interview. So, you tell me, why is Russia now saying this about Butina when Putin just yesterday said he had never heard of her before now?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly what he said. If you look at the Russian foreign ministry, Brooke, they for a long time have been sort of championing this cause of Maria Butina claiming that she's a political prisoner. They even changed their Twitter avatar to a picture of Maria Butina. And today, indeed, when we got an interview one-on-one with the spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, she absolutely ripped into the United States. Here's some of what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, SPOKESWOMAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: We indicated her as a political prisoner from the very first days. Because it's not about -- it's not about justice. It's not justice. It's just inquisition. It's medieval inquisition. Because she is intimidated. She was tortured and she was treated not like a human being. Not like a woman. I think she was treated and still is treated probably as a terrorist or something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So that's pretty strong words from the Russians, especially considering, Brooke, Russian's own criminal justice system and certainly Russia's human rights track record. So, I asked her, you're making these accusations, what exactly do you have to back this up? And she claimed that apparently Maria Butina can't leave her cell very much, because obviously she is in solitary confinement, only gets out there during the nights. And barely has any contact with anyone in the outside world.
We however learned -- CNN has learned that she does get out for about two hours every day. That she is able to contact her parents. She gets visits from her lawyers, as well. So certainly, as far as torture and human rights abuses are concerned, that really does seem like a pretty strong claim with very little to back it up -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: So, Fred, play this forward with me. If Butina makes a plea deal tomorrow, it is possible she could be sent back to Russia. Would she even want to go back to Russia, and how would she be received?
PLEITGEN: Yes. I think actually she would be received very well. First of all, I think it's highly likely this is going to come through. This deal is going to come through. That she is going to have to go to Russia after that. It's pretty much a given, considering what she has been at that point been convicted of. The way it seems to us, that the Russians are setting this up right now, is to make it seem as though the U.S. forced her into making this plea agreement. That's why she had to do it. And she is one someone who is the victim, if you will, of the current state of affairs between the United States and Russia.
It's something that actually the foreign ministry spokeswoman said very, very clearly in our interview today. She said she believed she is being forced into this. That she essentially has no other choice. And the way they put it, they said she needs to do everything she can to get out of that prison. So, it's the Russian point of view.
Also, her dad has actually been on TV here in Russia, as well. Also saying he doesn't believe that his daughter is cooperating with U.S. authorities and simply wants to come back to Russia. So, I think publicly, there's going to be a very warm welcome for her. Whether or not she really wants to come back, she seemed to like it in the U.S. quite a bit. That's a whole other matter. But I don't think if she's at least in the beginning going to face any repercussions here in Russia -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Got it. We'll be covering that hearing tomorrow. Fred Pleitgen with the big get there in Russia. Fred, thank you very much. And thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.