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Turkey's President Slams Bolton's "Serious Mistake" on Syria; Federal Prison Employees Working Without Pay; Trump Faces Credibility Crisis in Primetime Address Tonight; Trump's Promises on Reenergizing Coal Industry Not Realized. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 8, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The administration often seems to be pursuing multiple foreign policies at the same time, with Trump saying one thing, his aides saying another, and Trump saying something entirely different the next day. Who knows if Trump signed off on what Bolton is saying? It's a mystery.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Angus King, Independent Senator in Maine, spoke out about the consequences of these mixed messages. Here he was.


SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE (voice-over): That was the reasonable position, the president's position at the beginning was just based upon no strategy and as near as anyone can tell, no consultation with anyone in the administration. In fact, I think most people believe that it was the breaking point for Jim Mattis for the secretary of defense who said, you know, this is such a bad policy, I can't continue. Now we have the worst of both worlds. We have Mattis gone, Bolton's trying to repair it, Erdogan is blasting it and the president yesterday was saying there's really been no change, which is hard to square with sort of where we are.


BALDWIN: He makes a point on Mattis as well there. He says, the worst of both worlds. Do you think he has a point?

BOOT: Absolutely. I think Senator King is on target. If Trump is actually rethinking his withdraw from Syria, then you have to wonder can Jim Mattis un-resign and become secretary of defense again.

BALDWIN: Is that what you wish?

BOOT: It would be great. I think the whole world would breathe a sigh of relief if that could happen. Clearly it's not going to happen. Who knows where the Trump administration is going to end up? I'm not prepared at this point that they're actually reneged on Trump's promise a few weeks ago to pull out of Syria because that's what Bolton is saying, but who knows what Trump will say tomorrow or the day after. And clearly Trump wants those troops out.

And the meeting or the non-meeting today between Bolton and Erdogan really exposed the lie and the contradiction at the heart of his policy. He can't pull the troops out and attain U.S. policy objectives. We can't rely on the Turks to do our work for us so now he's got to decide is he going to pull out any way.

BALDWIN: Max Boot, good to see you. Thank you very much.

BOOT: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: President Trump using this primetime address to pitch Americans on a wall, but the pitch is based on lies and misleading statistics. Carl Bernstein joins me live.

And we will take you to a town where people with a dangerous and important job taking care of prison inmates now have to work for free.


[14:36:34] BALDWIN: Hundreds of thousands of federal workers on edge as the government shutdown escalates, and that includes employees at federal prisons across this country. In Aliceville, Alabama, the correctional facility for women is the driving force of the local economy there. But this week, prison workers are facing the harsh reality of missing their first paychecks since the shutdown started.

And CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has been talking with some of those prison employees.

Vanessa, what are they telling you?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. These federal workers here in this prison behind me in Aliceville, Alabama, know that if there's no resolution to the government shutdown by today, they are not getting paid on Friday. And that is a big deal for them, their families and also for this really small town of about 3,200 people. This prison employees a lot of people and they spend their money here in town, so if they're not getting their checks, they're not spending that money and the local economy will not do well as a result.

We sat down with about three employees here from this prison and asked them, how is this shutdown having an impact on their lives and their future?


TERRENCE WINDHAM, FEDERAL PRISON EMPLOYEE: Unfortunately, our budget doesn't work like the federal government budget works. If we have $5 we have $5 and you have to find out, what am I going to eat for the week for $5. You have to get bread and peanut butter and ham and cheese sandwiches.

ANGIE ASKIN, FEDERAL PRISON EMPLOYEE: For someone to say that it could go on for months and years, we don't have months or years. Our creditors are not -- we're not going to be able to give them an IOU. I talked to one this morning and was like, hey, can we work this out, and they basically said, I'll see you in court. WINDHAM: We're not asking for a handout. That is the last thing we're asking for. What we're asking for is that you pay us to do what you told us that you would pay us.


YURKEVICH: We quickly realized, Brooke, that when we spoke to these workers, they're actually really good friends. They've known each other for about six years. But they're all from different political parties. But they could agree on one thing and that is that the government has to get back to doing its job. They don't believe in red, they don't believe in blue, they believe in green, which is the color of money. And, Brooke, when they get behind that wall that enters the prison into a really stressful environment, they said they become one.

BALDWIN: Wow. We'll be talking to prison employee next hour.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much for sharing their stories out of Alabama. Good to see you.

Meantime, tonight, the president will address the nation tonight to push this wall at the Southern border. He is doing it in the middle of this credibility crisis. He and his administration have been repeatedly forced to answer for false information they continue to spread about immigration policy and the border. Such as, when the president said last week that some former presidents had praised him for his commitment to build a border wall, but all of the four living presidents either denied that happened or have publicly opposed the wall.

I want you to watch how the vice president responded.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the president has said that that was his impression from previous administrations, previous presidents. I know -- I know I've seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, the importance of addressing the issue of illegal immigration --


PENCE: But, look, you know, honestly the American people -- the American people want us to address this issue.


[14:40:09] BALDWIN: CNN Political Analyst, Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist who helped break the Watergate story, is here with me.

It's so good to have you back.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you. BALDWIN: Just even listening to the vice president struggling, struggling there, right, in responding to what the president had said last week. The president up tonight, you know, in the midst of this credibility crisis.

BERNSTEIN: His whole presidency is a credibility crisis because he traffics in misinformation, lying and disinformation and that is the hallmark of this presidency. And it's increasingly why Republicans, not just Democrats, are losing confidence in the president of the United States and wonder how long this kind of lying can go on to the American people. There's never been anything like this.

BALDWIN: He has flirted recently publicly about declaring a national emergency. Do you think he goes there tonight?

BERNSTEIN: I wouldn't predict anything Donald Trump does or doesn't do but I think we need to identify the real national emergency in this country and that is the question of the -- of whether or not Donald Trump is fit to be the president of the United States. And increasingly, we are hearing from Republicans, Democrats, journalists, citizens, on the basis of real hard information why it may be that a consensus is developing that Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States. Because of his actions in obstructing justice because of what we just saw in Syria, because of his ignorance on foreign policy, because of his putting his self-interest and that of his family ahead of the national interest, but above all the lying.

This is -- we've never been confronted with this kind of consistent dishonesty. Nixon was a criminal president. We've never been confronted with this kind of consistent dishonesty in terms of the president projecting a public debate that is from the beginning of his presidency until today.

Look at what he's -- the pretzel he got himself in to trying to explain the Russians in Afghanistan with no understanding of the history of his own time and hasn't bothered to do the work. That's one reason that Mattis, Tillerson and others came to the conclusion that we have a national emergency. The national emergency is not the wall, it's Donald Trump.

BALDWIN: How about the pretzel over Syria and John Bolton, President Erdogan? And can you believe the secretary of defense, Jim Mattis resigned two weeks ago. In any normal news cycle that would be months of coverage. Bang, Carl, it was a blip.

BERNSTEIN: What the hell happened to Helsinki? We still don't know that. We don't know whether or how he became a pawn, fully witting, half witting of Vladimir Putin, perhaps at Helsinki and what we saw on the campaign. That's one of the things that Mueller is trying to determine. We don't know a lot about this president and his presidency.

But what we do know is that he has not been truthful about almost anything of significance about his presidency. He has tried to feed his base. We have had in this country situations where maybe half the country hates the president of the United States at one time or another. We've never had a president that hates half the country. That -- that -- look at what we're talking about.

We're talking about a wall here that is a symbol that says brown people, we don't want you. It goes back to Trump talking about rapists, it goes back to him talking about gangs -- rather than looking at a real immigration problem, which we have had for a long time and need to solve. And border security is one of those questions that's complicated and, yet again, he's trying to solve it through misinformation, disinformation. Those crossing the border are not the threat to us in terms of national security.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you, I was having conversation at the top of the hour about taking this president's primetime address, fact checking, how challenging that is with this president. How remarkable is it that there's even been a debate on whether or not networks want to take this primetime address of the president?

BERNSTEIN: It's an appropriate debate. Incidentally, the debate goes way back. I was bureau chief of ABC News in 1980, when the bureau chiefs in Washington, we all discussed the question of whether or not we should take everything the president does live in terms of announcements and even press conferences, because why not treat it like a news story if we think there's a real possibility it is a propaganda exercise.

There are no easy answers as to what to do in this situation. But what we do know is that we have an obligation in the press to not give a platform in which misinformation, disinformation and lying goes unchallenged. And I think the networks have lined themselves up tonight as have the Democrats, for that matter, to deal with whatever comes out of Donald Trump's mouth tonight.

[14:45:24] BALDWIN: We'll be watching.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

BALDWIN: Good to be with you, Carl. Thank you very much.

Still ahead here, coal may be dying, so why are greenhouse gas emissions getting worse?

Keeping those coal mines open was a major promise made by then- Candidate Trump. So how's he doing with that? A reality checkup, next.


[14:50:09] BALDWIN: New research suggests significant gains in the battle of the slow climate change are taking a big hit. Carbon dioxide emissions jumped more than three percent last year, enough to knockout a steady three-year decline. And this is the second-largest annual gain in more than two decades. The report blames most of the increase on transportation and construction industries. But it does cite United States' efforts to rely less on low-carbon power sources as a factor.

The rise in carbon emissions comes despite a drop in power generation from coal, an industry that President Trump vowed to save. As he enters his third year in office, CNN's Bill Weir has this reality check on whether the president lived up to his promise.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across America, more and more coal-fired smoke stacks are smoke-free. The power plants beneath them cold and dark. The mines that once fed them abandoned.

But for the past couple of years, miners and their families let themselves believe that a coal comeback was on the way thanks to promises like this.

TRUMP: We are putting our great coal miners back to work.


ART SULLIVAN, FORMER MINE WORKER: He's trying to get their votes. He isn't telling them the truth.

WEIR (on camera): He's lying to them?

SULLIVAN: He's lying to them.

WEIR: You used to work in this mine?

SULLIVAN: I worked in this mine. I was a face boss.

WEIR (voice-over): For 52 years, Art Sullivan worked in and consulted on mines around the world and he bristles every time he hears the president claim to be the savior of coal.

SULLIVAN: And that disturbs me. These are the people that I've spent my life working with and if they have the truth, they will make the right decisions.

WEIR (on camera): If the president was honest, he would explain to those folks that mines like this are never, ever coming back to life again. Not because of regulation, but competition. Coal just cannot compete with cheaper, cleaner, natural gas, wind and solar. That's the reason more coal-fired power plants have gone out of business in the first two years of Donald Trump than the first four years of Barack Obama. Another 20 are expected to go down this year. And if a miner is hired today, chances are he'll be digging to fill the demand in India.

Do you feel the president gave these communities false hope?

BLAIR ZIMMERMAN, FORMER COAL WORKER: In my opinion, absolutely. I mean, I'm an expert. He's not. When he was campaigning, I asked -- I talked to his people and I said, what's your plan? How are you bringing back coal? It could be brought back if these plants would come back up, and deregulating stuff will help this much, it's not going to help a lot.

WEIR (voice-over): Trump's EPA, now led by a former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, recently moved to lift Obama-era caps on how much poisonous mercury and how much heat-strapping carbon power plants can pump into the sky, which really worries climate scientists like Penn State's Michael Mann.

MICHAEL MANN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, PENN STATE: We're already experiencing impacts of climate change that could have been avoided two decades ago when we knew that there was a problem.

WEIR: In order to save life as we know it, Mann says rich countries need to be on carbon-free electricity by 2030, which means 80 percent of coal reserves need to stay in the ground.

MANN: There's enough resilience in the system that we can withstand one term, one four-year term of Donald Trump. I'm not sure we can withstand two.

WEIR: He's among the chorus calling for an energy revolution.

And Art knows a few folks who might be able to pitch in.

SULLIVAN: If you spend several years working the coal mines, you'll come to understand electricity, hydraulics, mechanics, geology. I see no limitation on the average coal miner's ability to transition into any other field.

WEIR (voice-over): But first, they need leaders willing to transition to the truth.

Bill Weir, CNN, Pennsylvania.


BALDWIN: Bill, thank you.

Back to our breaking news, a court document that was not properly redacted is now offering new revelations about this man, Paul Manafort and information he allegedly exchanged with a Russian. We're back in a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The '40s and '50s were definitely an America finding itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans felt very second-rate when comparing ourselves to Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sportswear became the defining style of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the '60s, '70s, our style and fashion represents freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at hippy culture, it's really oppositional to the Vietnam War.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disco was really important in terms of people being free to express themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the '80s, it was a lot of excess in every way.

[14:55:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had our Calvin Kleins and our Ralph Laurens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Public advertising was scandals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His underwear ad stopped traffic in Times Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the '90s and 2000s, things have become less formal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supermodels brought fashion into every household.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now what's embraced is being yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Style gives you a voice. It's freedom.

ANNOUNCER: "AMERICAN STYLE" premieres Sunday at 9:00 on CNN.



[15:00:03] BALDWIN: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We begin with the primetime pitch from the president that is expected to send fact checkers into overdrive tonight.