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Giuliani Gives New Timeline on Trump Tower Moscow Talks and Says Trump Spoke to Cohen Ahead of Congressional Testimony; Trump Legal Team Reached Out to Special Counsel After "BuzzFeed" Article; Russian Pop Star Cancels U.S. Tour After Failing to Reach Deal with Mueller; Chris Christie: Trump Has "Found Himself Saddled with Riffraff;" Passengers Stuck on Plane in Freezing Cold 14 Hours; Kamala Harris Announces Presidential Run in 2020. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired January 21, 2019 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] KARA SCANNELL, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: He also said, according to Pam's interview with Giuliani, they thought it was possible that the talks would be continued after Cohen pleaded guilty so that they continued until June, but there were no records. One thing he's been consistent about is that this is not significant or important.
There's another key piece here from Pam's interview where Giuliani is walking back the possibility that Donald Trump spoke with Michael Cohen in advance of his congressional testimony. He alluded to that yesterday when he spoke to Jake Tapper. Today, he's telling Pamela that, in fact, Trump did not speak with Cohen in advance of his congressional testimony -- Brooke?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to Pam in a second. I know you have new information.
But, Paul, just reacting to this latest from Giuliani as a lawyer. How do you not remember these things?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANAYST: This is critical information. You would not only remember but carefully discuss it with your client before you run it up the flag pole of public opinion. This locks like a situation where the president is floating ideas through Giuliani to see if they fly with the public then he can pull the rug out from under Giuliani if they don't. Which is why you keep seeing Giuliani backing up and taking things back.
BALDWIN: So there's that.
Then, Pamela, to you. You've got this new reporting on Trump's legal team reaching out to Robert Mueller's office on Friday. What have you learned now?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So we have learned, through my conversation with Rudy Giuliani, that Trump's legal team did reach out to the special counsel's office on Friday following this story that made this assertion that the special counsel's office had evidence supporting the claim that the president directed Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow.
Our reporting is that Trump's attorneys were concerned about this. They knew what they had turned over to the special counsel. According to them, this was nothing to support that claim, so they did reach out. Rudy Giuliani would not say exactly and what form that communication happened and what the substance of those communications were.
But we are told -- my colleague, Laura Jarrett, is told, that the special counsel's decision to release that statement, knocking down the central premise of this story that they have this corroborated evidence supporting that Trump lied to -- sorry, that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress, they made that decision on their own to release that statement. So while Trump's legal team did reach out to them, the decision to release this extraordinarily rare statement to the public came within the special counsel's office.
It is so interesting to take a step back, Brooke, here that the president, the White House, essentially got a helping hand from the special counsel's office. It's the president who has attacked Robert Mueller for being on a witch hunt. But in this case, this is a situation, Brooke, where, essentially, the special counsel's office put out the statement bailing him out in a sense because this was an extraordinary claim that was causing talk on Capitol Hill among Democrats of possible impeachment.
BALDWIN: What do you think of that?
CALLAN: I think this was a special situation for Mueller where he felt he had to make a public statement, which he hasn't in the past. His integrity was being challenged by what he thought to be a totally inaccurate story being taken seriously by a lot of major press outlets. Even if they weren't saying it was true, they were talking about the fact that "BuzzFeed" had reported it. So this was an attack, I think, for Mueller, on his own work product, and I think he was sending a warning shot is that don't be telling people what my files reflect and what I'm doing because I'm going to come back at you.
BALDWIN: Kara, let me turn the page. This Russian pop star who organized the Trump Tower meeting canceled his U.S. concert after failing to reach a deal with Mueller. Tell me more about that and why it's significant.
SCANNELL: That's right, Brooke. Emin Agalarov is a Russian pop star. He was set to launch his U.S. four-city concert tour this Saturday but posted a message to Instagram. And I spoke with his attorney, who said that the reason why he canceled this tour is because they failed to reach an agreement with Mueller and congressional investigators who want to speak to him.
Everyone wants to talk to him because he's the one that sent the e- mail initiating the first meeting, the whole idea of this June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower and the Russian lawyer. So Mueller's team and investigators want to know why he wanted to set up this meeting on behalf of his father, who was a Russian billionaire. [14:35:13] The relationship between the Agalarovs and Trump go back
several years. They were involved in putting on the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia. They also talked about building a Trump Tower, but those talks fizzled. They've continued to keep up this relationship. Even a day after the Trump Tower meeting, the billionaire oligarch had sent Donald Trump a painting, according to congressional reports, and Trump wrote him a very flourishing thank you note in response. So the relationship between these two families is something that is both financial as well as now in the crosshairs of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.
BALDWIN: Got it.
Kara, Pamela and Paul, thank you so much for that.
Moving on. In his new book, Chris Christie says President Trump filled his administration with "riffraff" -- his word -- instead of the right people. What he says happened to his plan for the Trump White House during the transition.
And was it a rush to judgment? New video shows what led to this stare down between this Kentucky teenager and this Native American elder in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial there in Washington, D.C. We have the story behind this viral video, next.
[14:40:32] BALDWIN: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had been a longtime supporter of President Trump, but in the new book, he's criticizing Trump for not hiring the best and brightest. According to Axios, who is releasing excerpts of Christies new book, "Called "Let Me Finish," Christie writes, quote, "Donald so urgently needed the right people around him and a solid structure in place. Far too often, he's found himself saddled the riffraff."
Remember, Christie was among first of a handful of Republicans running against Trump to shout down his campaign after a debate and throw his support behind then candidate Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: He's rewriting the playbook of American politics because he's providing strong leadership that's not dependent upon the status quo. So the best person to beat Hillary Clinton in November on that stage last night is undoubtedly Donald Trump. And so I am thrilled to be here this morning to lend my support. I will lend my support between now and November in every way that I can for Donald.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza, is in Washington.
Chris Cillizza, riffraff. Who's he talking about? CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITIAL REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, man,
I still remember that endorsement day. Donald Trump promoted it. We had no idea it was coming then Christie. Who's he talking about? He's not wrong in that quote. Trump did need a firm structure.
Let's go to a few things he writes in this book about some of the folks who worked for Trump. So about Michael Flynn. Russia lackey and future federal felon. Obviously, Michael Flynn was a very prominent person in the campaign as was Christie. Also someone who has pleaded guilty to lying to Robert Mueller. Former EPA chief, Scott Pruitt.
Greedy and inexperienced. Honestly, not wrong. Scott Pruitt was a state-elected official in Oklahoma. He got run out of Washington eventually. Trump got rid of him, was because he was feathering his own nest. Then Tom Price, this is kind of hurtful. He was the head of Health and Human Services. Was the first of Trump's cabinet members pushed out because he was taking so many expensive either first class or military flights.
Jeff Sessions, not ready for prime time. Kind of hard to argue with Chris Christie about that one. You could say Sessions was deeply undercut by Trump. Then Rex Tillerson, a stranger. Look, honestly, some of that is why Trump picked him. He came in as head of ExxonMobil. Big guy. Looked the part of secretary of state.
So actually, I think Christie. broadly speaking here. is right. I think he's absolutely right about the contention that Trump needed veteran hands and picked a lot of people who didn't disservice. Not sure it would have changed the presidency because, honestly, Donald Trump is going to do Donald Trump. But it might have helped.
BALDWIN: So if he's kind of calling a spade a spade, does this mean there could still be a little wiggle room if he wants one of the multiple vacancies at the White House.
CILLIZZA: So what I've learned from Donald Trump, with the announcement of candidacy until today, if someone asks me a question that involves Donald Trump, might it be possible, I say yes, because it might. Do I think Trump's -- excuse me, Christie's open feed with Trump's son-in-law, do I think that helps him? I would tend to think that keeps him out, but it's true. I hate to be so facile, but it's true. Over and over again, he does stuff you would think no other person would do, much less the president.
BALDWIN: Here's the last little bit. Governor Christie talks about how the transition plan was literally, you know, thrown in the trash. He writes, "All 30 binders were tossed in a Trump Tower dumpster, never to be seen again." So they dropped them.
CILLIZZA: It was a big, beautiful dumpster. Many say it was the nicest dumpster.
CILLIZZA: Again, I remember this happening. Christie was the head of the transition until he wasn't, then Mike Pence was taking over. If you read the excerpts, Christie wrote about this, he says, Jared Kushner, that Jared Kushner, because Christie, an attorney, as a U.S. attorney, prosecuted Kushner's father, that Kushner bore a grudge and blocked what was a sure thing, undermined him. That's one side of the story. But it was very, very sudden. And remember, behind all this, Brooke, when Christie endorses Trump in February of 2016, he does it for a couple of reasons, but one is because he thinks that getting in early gives him a chance to be vice president and have his pick of cabinet. He got neither.
[14:45:41] BALDWIN: Nada. Wonder what else was in the dumpster.
CILLIZZA: Big, beautiful dumpster.
BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Passengers on board this United flight left stuck on the freezing tarmac for more than 14 hours with not a lot of food. Got their harrowing story from Newfoundland, next.
[14:50:30] BALDWIN: A trip to Hong Kong turned into a freezing nightmare for hundreds of United Airlines passengers. Their flight from Newark International in New Jersey was diverted to the Goose Bay Airport in the Canadian providence of Newfoundland because of a medical emergency. When it was time to leave, the plane was grounded because of a mechanical issue.
Adding to the passengers' misery, they couldn't leave the plane because there was no overnight staff at the airport. They were stuck in their seats with this dwindling food supply for more than 14 hours. Just by the looks of the pictures outside the plane, it was mighty cold, as in negative 20 degrees.
Brynn Gingras is with us, our CNN national correspondent.
Can you imagine getting stuck, Newfoundlanders and their coffee and donuts.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I get angry when it's 20 minutes on the tarmac.
BALDWIN: Totally, totally.
GINGRAS: But you basically covered it. They were heading from Newark, New Jersey, to Hong Kong, as long a flight as that is. Right in the beginning, someone had a medical emergency. There was reports he was having a seizure so they had to land quickly.
GINGRAS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Go ahead.
GINGRAS: They landed there because that was the closest. And they were on the ground. They got the man or the person medical attention. Ready to take off, refueled, then the door to the cabin was frozen. Because it was so cold.
We had tweets from people, crews on board trying to fix the board, but couldn't fix it fast enough because they were stuck for 14 hours. And as you said, they didn't have an overnight crew for customs so people couldn't get off the plane. So luckily they had heat on the plane. That's great, but dwindling food.
GINGRAS: They did come on board with more. I don't care how much donut, I'm not going to be a happy camper. All those passengers, 250 of them, had to go back to Newark and that's where they were greeted with United Airlines staff who I'm sure was trying to ease the pain by giving out vouchers and those things.
BALDWIN: -- from being stuck, freezing, 14 hours.
GINGRAS: I know. It depended on the passenger, but some went on to Hong Kong, took the free flight or had vouchers. They tried their best.
But you have to hear the sound really quickly.
BALDWIN: Yes, yes.
GINGRAS: They weren't upset about it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The choice of airport was very poor. Since you know, the airport was not equipped to handle 240 people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pilots didn't really know what was going on. They weren't being given a clear message either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: I mean just kind of the tone was like, eh, tweeting it wasn't the crew's fault, or the pilots' fault, this happens. So I give lots of credit to those passengers.
BALDWIN: Me, too. And Newfoundland for being lovely. It's similar in how they treat these people on these planes.
GINGRAS: Yes. BALDWIN: Brynn, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: A new contender has entered the race. California Senator Kamala Harris announces her bid for the White House, saying American values are on the line. She joins what is becoming a crowded field. You'll hear her message from the trail moments ago.
[14:53:40] And the TSA says 10 percent of its workers have called out sick, most due to financial limitations because of the government shutdown. So how safe should you feel flying?
[14:59:18] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me on this Martin Luther King Jr holiday.
A major announcement in the race for 2020. Senator Kamala Harris is joining the Democratic contest. The California Democrat made her announcement this morning while also honoring Dr. King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D), CALIFORNIA: My parents were very active in the civil rights movement and that's the language I grew up hearing. And it was about a belief that we are a country that was founded on noble ideals. We are the best of who we are when we fight to achieve those ideals. The thing about Dr. King that inspires me is he was aspirational. He was aspirational like our country is aspirational. We know that we've not yet reached those ideal, but our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Senator Harris joins a growing field of Democrats looking to take on Trump.