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Cillizza on "the Greatest Trick Trump Ever Pulled; Hundreds of U.S. Forces May Be Sent to Syria to bring Troops Home; Pence Says Trump Still Considering "Emergency" Over Wall; Kevin Spacey Arraigned on Sexual Assault Charges. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 7, 2019 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump told cash strapped federal workers that he can relate to them -- his word -- struggling to make ends meet. And throughout the shutdown he's tried to make the case that he is a man of the people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you ask those companies or landlords, to kind of go easy on --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they will. I think this happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry do --

TRUMP: No, I think that happens. You know, hey, I've been a landlord for a long time. I've been in the real estate business for a long time. When you see there are problems out there, difficulties out there, you know, the people are all good for the money, they work with people.


BALDWIN: Trump is one of the richest men in America. But convincing people that he is one of them may be one of his best skills as President. CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza, calls it the greatest trick Donald Trump ever pulled in his latest piece there on Greatest trick, how my friend?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, , CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: I really think so. Because let me run through Donald Trump's background. I'm pretty familiar, but let's go through it again, Brooke, and then let's go to where he is now. OK, Donald Trump, he got a million-dollar loan from his father, Fred Trump, $6.7 million in today's money. OK. That happened we believe in the late '60s. He was raised in New York City, Queens, never has lived outside of New York City with the exception of maybe he goes Mar-a-Lago, which is a giant resort in Florida that he owns. And he went to private schools. He went to private school all through -- from K through 12. So that's not exactly normal. Dated models and actresses and made a big deal out of dating models

and actresses. OK. He was in page 6 all the time. And everyone who lives in New York knows that, the gossip column. He was reality TV star for 10 years and people know he's been on national television forever.

[15:35:00] And his estimated net worth -- according to Forbes -- is 3.1 billion. Now that's less than he says he's worth. But it's still $3.1 billion. I want to play this, Brooke, because he did, as you mentioned, used this a lot during the campaign. The 2018 campaign to talk about how he is normal average joe compared to the elites in the media and elsewhere. Let's play this, this is from North Dakota during the campaign.


TRUMP: I meet these people, they call them the elite. These people, I look at them, I say that's elite? We got more money. We got more brains. We got better houses, apartments. We got nicer boats. We're smarter than they are and they say the elite. We're the elite. You're the elite. We're the elite


CILLIZZA: OK. Look, here is the thing. Most people in this country including this guy don't have houses plural. Most people in the country including this guy don't have boats. Right? So again, this idea that Donald Trump is some sort of, you know, everyday hero is not born out. Except, and this is why it is his greatest trick, Brooke, people believed it. This is a 2016 campaign. Now, this is not a direct overlay for middle class or middle-class exceptions. There's no question like that on the polls -- in the exit polls.

But this sort of gets at it. He wins 71 percent of noncollege educated white men. He wins 61 percent of noncollege educated white women. And he wins only 37 percent of voters with a postgraduate degree. It is a remarkable thing that a billionaire who lives in New York City, who has been married three times, who went to private schools, who comes from money. And talks about how he comes from money and has a plane with his name on it, somehow became the voice particularly in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, the voice of the average worker. I really do think the greatest political trick he has ever pulled.

BALDWIN: It's so fascinating. I'm so glad you pull the clip from 2016. And we think back to remember when we covered, you know, Mitt Romney wanted to be president and how his affluence worked against him and how it so totally different with this President. Chris Cillizza, OK, goodbye, thank you.

Coming up next, as the President's national security adviser completely contradicts him on pulling troops out of Syria. CNN is learning new details about how the Pentagon is planning for such a withdrawal, which may actually require sending more forces into Syria.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Just into CNN, now that President Trump has called for all U.S. troops in Syria to come home. CNN is learning that military planners believe they may need to send hundreds of additional forces into Syria in order to safely withdraw more than 2,000 U.S. ground forces from that country. So let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. And I know, Barbara, you spoke with officials with knowledge of this withdraw plan. So, they want to send more in to send troops out.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right, Brooke. Here is a heavy dose in military reality. While John Bolton, the national security advisor, is overseas talking to the Turks and the Israeli about the withdrawal and trying to slow it down a bit, not so immediate. The pentagon still working on the withdrawal plan to be ready for President Trump if it comes to that. What we have now learned is it will take hundreds of additional forces phased in over time to go into Syria to get everybody out safely.

What will these additional forces -- what would they to do? Well, some of them will be driving heavy transport vehicles. You have to get equipment, weapon, ammunition, out of there if you can't get it out, you have to bomb it, destroy it in place. They want to drive it out. You're going to have to put in more aircraft to get troops and additional equipment out. All of that takes a lot of people to do it. And you're going to have to put in security. It may actually for the first time call for a substantial amount of infantry forces to be able to go in there. Because as you draw down and you have perhaps handfuls of U.S. troops in various places around Syria until they can all get out, that perhaps is when they are at their highest security risk when there are so few of them scattered around the country.

So the Pentagon has been looking at the impact of withdraw over a 30- day plan, a 70-day play and 120-day plan. And they say no matter what the President decides, they are going to push very heavy to make sure that the plan ensures the security of U.S. forces -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Barbara, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Just in, Vice President Mike Pence telling reporters moments ago that his team is burning the midnight oil trying to find a solution to this government shutdown. One of the reporters who was in that meeting joins me live next.


BALDWIN: Just into CNN, the White House now changing its strategy on selling the border wall, all this comes ahead of tomorrow night when we have learned that the President will addressing the nation in a primetime address. So, with me now is CNN political analyst, April Ryan, who just left a briefing including Vice President Pence among other senior White House staff members. So, April Ryan, do tell, what did they share?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, Jared Kushner the President's son in law was there, Homeland Security Secretary was there. The Vice President basically shared -- and this is one of the main things. The President has not made a decision on declaring a national emergency yet. No decision. But they also said that they're trying to make this process as painless as possible under the law without weaponizing it. We are talking about the government shutdown.

And you know a payday for government workers is this Friday. And I asked the Vice President just a few moments ago, I said, Mr. Vice President, is there hope? Do you have hope that you will be able to come up with some kind of compromise with Democrats to be able to get people by Thursday so they can get their paychecks and payroll by Friday? And he says there's always hope. And he said that what needs to happen is Democrats come to negotiate.

[15:50:01] Now, Democrats are saying that they are -- the White House is strong on the $5.7 billion wall or structure and they are not budging on that. So there's an impasse. And at issue you have people who are affected. When we talk about people that are affected, Brooke, we talk about secret service that's here who are securing this White House, this building that I'm in right now, who protect the President, the Vice President, the embassies, the families of those who are Presidential.

BALDWIN: So is it even they, the essential employees.

RYAN: Essential employees, they are affected. I was hearing last week by various people and I checked with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, Friday. She said the essential workers, there are central employees, but that's the designation. The fact that they are not getting paid, they are lumped in with TSA as well. So, things are moving. The Vice President is going to meet with lawmakers before the President speaks tomorrow evening. So, we'll just have to wait and see and if negotiations will be productive and fruitful.

BALDWIN: Let's hope so, for all the sake of those 800,000 people who want this to end. April Ryan, thank you so much for the update there on that meeting. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, actor Kevin Spacey appearing in court today to be arraigned on felony indecent assault. We'll talk to one of the attorneys that prosecuted Bill Cosby and discuss where Spacey goes from here.


BALDWIN: Just in, the second summit between the President and North Korea's Kim Jong-un now has a list of possible locations. CNN has learned that American scouting teams have visited Bangkok, Thailand, Hanoi and Hawaii. We are told nothing has been agreed upon and that the U.S. hasn't shared this list with North Korea.

To Massachusetts, quite the scene this morning where actor Kevin Spacey was arraigned today on charges that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old busboy at a bar. He pleaded not guilty to felony indecent assault. But he didn't actually say that out loud in court. His attorney who made the plea on his behalf, Spacey's bail requires that he have no contact with the alleged victim. So with me now Kristen Gibbons Feden, who was one of the prosecutors in the Bill Cosby case. So Kristin, thank you so much for jumping on with me today. And just diving right into it.


BALDWIN: Thank you. The scene was crazy. No one was surprised by that. Right? But everyone expecting him to say something and his silence spoke volumes. What did you think?

FEDEN: Yes, absolutely. And you know, in addition to his silence his movements spoke volumes as well. When he was told he with was in the allowed to have any contact with the victim in this case. Reports claim that he nodded and looked down and nodded, you know, very slowly. So his demeanor and his silence speak volumes to, you know his realization that this is really happening. This is really real and being charged with a very serious criminal offense.

BALDWIN: As you well know in dealing in such a high-profile trial involving a celebrity, how does that effect the case moving forward?

FEDEN: Yes. So anything that he does or says and I understand that in this court proceeding he didn't say much. But anything that he does and says, any of his conduct can be used against him. Any statements that he released, as you know, he recently submitted a video that many people have described as very creepy.

BALDWIN: Bizarre. In case you have not seen it -- for people watching, roll the tape, Allen.


KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: If I didn't pay the price for the things, we both know I did do, I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn't do. Well, of course, they're going to say I'm being disrespectful, not playing by the rules. Like I ever played by anyone's rules before. I never did and you loved it.


BALDWIN: Seemingly playing his character, Frank Underwood, from "House of Cards". But to your point, what he says --

FEDEN: Yes, he is.

BALDWIN: Go ahead.

FEDEN: Yes, absolutely. And not only that but don't forget the tweet that he released right after Anthony Rapp came out with those allegations where he says, and I quote. But if I did behave then, as he describes, which he described as a sexual assault when he was 14 years old and Kevin Spacey was over 26 years old. He says, and I quote, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior. Here we're talking about sexual assault against a child. Those statements could, if the judge permits, could be used against him. So, anything he does or says in the past, currently can absolutely be used against him in the current criminal trial.

BALDWIN: I've got you for 60 more seconds. How much does the role of consent play in this moving forward?

FEDEN: The role of consent plays a huge role in this. As you know, the victim will testify, from my understanding based on the criminal complaint that he did not consent to this type of behavior. There're also video tapes confirming -- there's a Snapchat video, confirming that there was some type of touching that occurred. Obviously, there is no faces. So, you can't determine whether or not it was Kevin Spacey. You can even determine whether or not it was the victim who was actually touched. But certainly the victim's testimony alone is enough to highlight what happened and paint the picture as necessary for the prosecutors to prove their burden.

Kristen Gibbons Feden, thank you so much. Come back. We'll watch this very closely.

FEDEN: Thank you.

Kevin Spacey here facing this felony charge. Thank you very much. Thank you for being with me.