Return to Transcripts main page


Supreme Court Allows Trump's Transgender Military Ban; Baldwin Interviews Transgender Infantryman; Democrats Apologize for Their Pasts; Trump Supporter and Native American Lock Hands at Peace Vigil; Chris Brown Arrested in Paris, Accused of Rape. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Allow the ban to go forward while the lower courts work through it. When you heard that, how does that sit with you?

STAFF SGT. PATRICIA KING, FIRST OPENLY TRANSGENDER INFANTRYMAN IN THE U.S. ARMY: When I woke up this morning and this news came through, this is something that we knew could happen. It's important to remember that this is not the ban taking effect, this is the ban taking effect while lower courts render their decision. This decision hasn't been made final yet by anybody.

BALDWIN: So, you're not giving up hope is what I'm hearing?

KING: Absolutely. Never.

BALDWIN: Based on the guidelines, it seems that you personally will still have a job but do you know anyone who won't going forward?

KING: You know several service members who were considering coming out but waiting to find out how things went with these decisions or maybe weren't ready to live an authentic life yet and now they'll have to make a decision between living authentcly and continuing to serve their country. I also know people that were thinking about enlisting our commissioning in the military that won't have that opportunity now.

BALDWIN: How do you even begin to make that decision?

KING: You know, this is something that every person who decides that they want to live an authentic life, it's different for each of us and it's something that we weigh and now that's one more thing that a person has to weigh whether or not they want to live their most authentic life or whether they want to continue to serve a country they love.

BALDWIN: Wow. The D.O.D. statement still insists that this is not a ban, rather a personnel policy needed to ensure an effective fighting force. How do you read that? Do you find that understandable or offensive?

KING: My feeling is that this effects all of us who are transgender and the reason is that it gives a false sense of credibility to the inaccurate notion that transgender people are somehow less or less capable than our peers. It undermines that meritocracy we're supposed to have in the military where we're evaluated based on what we bring to the table and not who we are.

BALDWIN: When you and I chatted a year ago, you talked about how you were the first member of the military to undergo and approved gender reassignment surgery and just -- I wanted everyone to know that. It's so special and significant, and when you look, sergeant king, when you look at the last line of the policy, it says transgender individuals can still serve as long as they serve, quote, in their biological sex. Do you think that this will keep those who we need to serve this country will keep people from enlisting for the time being?

KING: Transgender people have been serving in the military for as long as the United States has had a military. We've done it in silence. We've continued to bring ourselves to work, the problem is we haven't been able to bring our whole and best selves to work. Implementing a ban again will not stop American from want to go serve their country and some of those American have to happen to be transgender. The problem is that this stops trans-people from being able to bring their best self to work because they're holding something back.

BALDWIN: And last question, you talk a lot about living an authentic life and being your best self, which I think you embody, what does that feel like?

KING: For me this was a very personal decision. Deciding that I was going to come out and live an authentic life was something that I didn't do with a lot of thought and prayer and what I would tell any person who is making that decision is that regardless of any adversity I may have faced, anything that I may have had to overcome, there's not one day that I've regretted the decision to live that authentic life and I hope that those of us who are out and living authentically right now can serve as a beacon to those trying to decide if that's something they're ready for.

BALDWIN: Patricia King, thank you.

KING: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, the Democratic contenders for 2020 jumping into the race one by one. Many of them kicked off their bids but with apologies of one sort or another. We'll talk about whether that strategy will work.


BALDWIN: Senator Corey Booker will soon announce whether he plans to join this growing list of Democrats hoping to become the next President of the United States but will he continue a bit of a trend we're seeing among the 2020 Democrats, some who haven't even formally launched campaigns, apologizing for their past comments and records.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: In my past I said and believed things that were wrong.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D), VERMONT: To the women in our campaign who were harassed or mistreated, I apologize.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I know we haven't always gotten things right, but I've always tried.


[15:40:00] BALDWIN: Joining me now Kristen Anderson and Jeff Zeleny, so good to see both of you. Kristen to you first, is this apology tour of sorts, you think it's the way to go for these Democrats out of the gate? Get it out of the way early or what?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I think the world has changed very quickly since a lot of these Democrats first entered politics and as a result they need to make sure that the Democratic base, the folks they need to speak to win the 2020 nomination know where they stand on things, do they hold those old positions or not. The Democratic party back in 1994 when you had Joe Biden in the Senate supporting things like the crime bill that has now become very unpopular, it's viewed as bad on racial justice issues, it's the sort of thing he's had to apologize for because back in '94 about 25 percent of the Democratic party were liberal, all of that's changed and now 51 percent of Democrats identify themselves as liberal. It's a whole new world.

BALDWIN: It's a whole new world, but we also asterisk footnote, among some of these folks, Jeff, there are some non-apologies, right, Tulsi Gabbard when asked about the trip to Syria and meeting Assad and Senator Gillibrand when she was asked about Senator Franken, right?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt. Some things are firmly held positions and the position on Syria that Gabbard had, she is not apologizing for that. That is something she's sticking with for better or worse depending on your viewpoint. It's the authenticity of the apology that's the most important thing. Do you believe and are you able to articulate how your views have changed with the time, if you will? That is going to be the ultimate test here for Joe Biden, for example. If he decides to run, he's going to, I'm guessing, have to probably explain more positions from that long tenure in the Senate but also expound on why he believes that crime bill was now not the right thing. A lot of these Democrats are learning a lesson from Hillary Clinton in 2016. They are apologizing and not equivocating. Is it authentic or not and that's something voters will decide over time.

BALDWIN: It strikes a contrast too with the administration having a tough time saying I'm sorry. You can't help, though, think about Obama's presidency. I remember a lot of conservatives kept referring to him as apologist in chief especially when it came to foreign policy issues, didn't they?

ANDERSON: There was a pretty significant change in policy position for Barack Obama himself when it came to the issue of same-sex marriage. It was Joe Biden who was a key player in that whole story who tipped the hand and said, I think President Obama's going to be evolving on this issue. LGBT rights is something where public opinion has changed dramatically over the last decade. We are celebrating the ten years since Barack Obama first took office. When he first took office he did not support same-sex marriage in the way that he evolved to by the time he went to his re-election. These political evolutions happen, if they are authentic, voters go, OK, that's fine. At this point there are some of these conversions that are going to happen with regards to position that's people didn't hold too long ago. Joe Biden saying a position held 25 years ago I've changed is one thing of the someone saying, a position I held five years ago I've changed, that's a little bit different.

BALDWIN: These evolutions certainly happen but the language is the exact opposite, Jeff, that we have seen from a number of Republicans under President Trump from Trump himself. He was praised for being unapologetic during the campaign and that worked out for him.

ZELENY: It, but his base liked that. They liked the fact that he wouldn't apologize for anything. He's rarely apologized for anything at all in his first two years. We can count on one hand and have a couple fingers leftover how many times he's actually apologized. The Democratic base, this is something that these Democratic potential candidates are doing to realign themselves for what is a very different world. Different constituencies here and President Trump, though, is in a world of his own by never apologizing. Most politicians can't get away with that, Brooke.

ANDERSON: The irony here is, you know who's book is called "No Apology," Mitt Romney, he's on the other side of the GOP these days.

[15:45:00] BALDWIN: I just kept thinking of Nirvana all apologies. Maybe I'm dating myself. Thank you so much. Jeff Zeleny, Kristen Anderson, thank you so much.

Just a reminder, Jake Tapper will moderate a town hall with Senator Kamala Harris that is next Monday night from Des Moines, Iowa. It is at 10:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN.

Next, we will take you live to the Catholic high school that was forced to close today after that confrontation in Washington, D.C. over the weekend between these Native American protesters and this group of Kentucky students. Details on the security threat the school says it is faced in the wake of this controversial video.


BALDWIN: Police cars have been stationed outside Covington Catholic High School after the county attorney said the school and students received threats. Let me share this exchange our cameras captured during a peace vigil held outside Covington's Roman Catholic diocese. It is between a Native American and another man wearing a make America great again hat.


Don, Native American, Attended Covington Peace Vigil: It is our country and the people need to take back this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. Amen. We'll work together to do it.

DON: We have to work together to do it.


DON: People that want to tear it down we need to say sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They won't sit down. We want everybody to sit. God is right here with you and me both a thousand percent. I get it. I get it. So, let's talk and figure out what we can do. American movement.


BALDWIN: The two men shook hands, hugged and exchanged phone numbers. Miguel Marques is our CNN national correspondent who was there. He is live in Park Hills know that high school in Kentucky. And so, the diocese, Miguel, I understand issued a statement. What is the diocese position?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will stay shut until police tell them it is safe to open back up. There was a small protest at the diocese as you mentioned today. Or a unity moment at the diocese today. All of this is just the confluence of race, social media and the hyper charge political atmosphere in which the President of course dived headfirst into it. Tweeting last night, "looking like Nick Sandman and the Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgments proving to be false. Smeared by the media. Not good but making a big comeback. New footage shows the media was wrong about the encounter with Native Americans."

It seems to be quoting from a Fox News report there. The President went onto tweet something very similar to this. Look, here are the facts of how all of this played out when it happened last Friday. The initial video came out. It was reported on when new facts became available and new video was out there. It was also reported on. That is how reporting works.

One of the Twitter accounts that sort of spurred on this issue, on that video, CNN asked questions of Twitter on it. That Twitter account has been suspended. It appears there was an effort to make it sort of go hyper viral by several individuals out there. The incident that everyone focused onto begin with was about four minutes long. The entirety was over an hour and a half long. There were members of the Hebrew Israelites, this is an African American group that believes they are god's descendants. They had been taunting both the students and Native Americans for quite some time.

That's when the elder from the tribe, the Omaha tribe, stepped in drumming and doing a spiritual song to try to bring everyone together. He walked into the middle of it. There was the faceoff with Nathan who is not released a statement saying he didn't mean anything by that. And he was in actually facing off with him, he was only trying to bring everything down as well. Interestingly the March For Life which is kids were there to begin with, they at first were very upset with what the kids did and since rescinded their statement as well.

The school, the diocese in the nearby Latin school closed today. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Right now, people here in the area around Cincinnati, just south of Cincinnati and Kentucky and Covington try to come to grips with everything that happened and hopefully take a breath and move on.

BALDWIN: Yes. Take a breath. It seems like a snapshot of America here in 2019. Thank you so much in Kentucky for us.

We do have breaking news this afternoon. Why the special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into the Trump campaign's ties to the NRA. Standby for new CNN reporting.


[16:00:00] BALDWIN: Chris Brown arrested in Paris accused of aggravated rape and drug violations. U.S. Embassy officials in Paris declined to comment. But a French judicial source tells CNN Chris Brown and two others taken into custody. The charges in France could carry up to 15 years in prison. CNN reached out to Brown's attorney and has yet to hear back. However, the singer appears to have responded on his Instagram account using choice language. I'll read the part I can. He wrote, "I want to make it perfectly clear.