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Virginia Governor Refuses to Resign Over Racist Photo; Trump Says You Cannot Impeach Somebody for Doing Best Job Ever; Report Says Trump Spent 60% of Working Hours in "Executive Time". Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 4, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I am Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with us. Nothing says yourself innocent like first admitting you're guilty then saying maybe not, then definitely not, but I did do it just another time that you guys didn't know about. What?
That is the bizarre path that the Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia walked over after this photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook showing two men, one in black face, another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood surfaced on Friday sparking all kinds of rage and anger calling for him to resign. Now at first, the governor said he was one of the men and now he says he wasn't. How does he know? Because a friend told him that another time, he darkened his face with shoe polish during a Michael Jackson dance contest in the same year was offensive and he apologized.
Right now, even as Democrats including Joe Biden, both of Virginia's current Senators, its former black governor say he should go, he remains on the b job. Moments ago, Virginia's black lieutenant governor who would be the one to step into the top job if Northam resigns said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say definitively if the governor should resign?
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JUSTIN FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA: I've made my statement on that. I believe that the governor has to make the decisions that's in the best interest in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Ryan Nobles is live in Richmond. We know the governor met with his cabinet, his staff today and now he is telling his staff he needs more time. To make a decision on the future?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right and we were very focused on these two meetings this morning because as you appropriately laid out, the governor's basically lost all of the support available to him in this building behind me, the Virginia capitol. There are no legislators, Republican or Democrat, who believe he should be in office. The only bastion of power he has left are those under him. The cabinet secretaries, members of his staff and the people that work under his charge. If he starts to lose some of those people that report to him, that could be where he gets into an area where he can no longer govern effectively and he is the one who has said over and over he's only going to stay on the job if he can govern effectively.
Now we do know that as you mentioned, the governor indicated to this group of people that for the time being, he plans on staying in the office. And the reason for that is because he vehemently believes that he is not one of these two people in this photo and what he wants is the time and space to try and make that case. Not only to the people of Virginia, but to the people that work for him and the people that he works with in Virginia government. There doesn't appear to be a lot of will and desire to allow the governor that opportunity, but Brooke, another wrinkle to all of this is that there's also no will to forcibly remove him. Republican speaker of the house telling him they're not going to move ahead with impeachment, so if he steps down it's because he said it's time for me to go and no one else can do that for him.
BALDWIN: OK. I've got a lot to discuss, which I will and with my guest in a second, but I do want to ask you about the Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax. He was just on. Gave a strong denial about this entirely separate allegation involving himself just a couple of years ago. What's the background there?
NOBLES: Yes, as if the story can't get more complicated, now we have the man who would be the successor to Northam should he step down with a sexual assault allegation against him. This is something that Justin Fairfax is vehemently denying. It comes from an instance during the Democratic national convention in 2004 when he was working for then Senator John Edwards. He said he had a consensual relationship with a woman, but states flatly he did not sexual assault her. He said it not only came from left field, but from mars buzz it just did not happen. We know that "The Washington Post" was reporting this story in depth detail before Fairfax was set to be inaugural rated in 2018 and chose not to run the story. The post has run a version of the story today, basically in the context of the lieutenant governor denying those claims, but this is something he's being forced to deal with here as he appears to be on the precipice of taking over as governor.
[14:05:05] As if this weren't a difficult situation for Democrats already, it's become more challenging and there does not appear to be b a resolution happening in the near future.
BALDWIN: OK. We'll stay tuned to that. Ryan, thank you. Ben Jealous is the former President and CEO of the NAACP. Welcome to you. Governor Northam, you heard the reporting. He's now asked for more time. More time. Why do you think he hasn't resigned yet?
BEN JEALOUS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: You know, this is, he's clearly a very stubborn person who has his heels dug in. It is mystifying. I don't know what's worse that first he lacked the candor to just tell us which one of these guys he was. Or that he then turned around and admitted he was one of the two, said no I'm not in the photo or that he said but I did appear in black face the same year, but the facts are pretty simple. This guy used to perform in black face like in 1984. Very modern year when Jesse Jackson was running for President. He went by the nickname coon man and on his page in his year back, displayed a picture of a man in black face and a man in a hood, which he thought was funny. So, all of that just speaks a profound lack of judgment. You know, I think in the end, he will end up resigning. I don't see how, he's just losing control of the state and when he does, he'll be first governor that we know of to have done black face that's been replaced by a governor who was black.
BALDWIN: On the stories of black face, I mean in case you were not glued to this news conference on Saturday afternoon that comes out of the pages of bizarro world, this is a man who was about to do the moon walk, hang on. I'm going to play the clip. Until his wife stepped in. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still able to moon walk?
RALPH NORTHAM, EMBATTLED GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Inappropriate. My wife says inappropriate circumstances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean the man's like looking to his right like do I have space? His wife's like, inappropriate, honey. There are questions about his judgment from 1984. But in that moment, it kind of gives you window, does it not, into his judgment today. And what does that tell you?
JEALOUS: You know, this is a guy who lacked the character back then not to don black face in 1984. Who lacked the courage. Every time he ran for office, not just for governor, but the half does other times to just level with the people. I made a mistake and I just need to come clean about it then lacked the candor to tell us which one he was as if it's hard to remember, did he put black shoe polish on or have a Klan hood and yet came out and said that same year, I was running around in black face at the med school. He just has to, he has lost the respect and trust apparently of every leader in his state just about. And almost every Democrat either is running for President or may be running for President, there's just no way for him to govern effectively or to represent it well or win friends for it.
BALDWIN: Let me float a different opinion. This is from former Senator Joe Lieberman who talked to CNN about the thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're aware of the problems facing the Democratic governor of Virginia. Do you believe he should resign?
FORMER SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I don't today. I think there's a rush to judgment that is unfair to him. One he says he wasn't in that picture. Two, I think we ought to fairly ask him did he know the picture was on his page of the yearbook and three, really, he ought to be judged in the context of his whole life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, he's saying look at his whole life. The good he has done. People evolve. Could you agree with any piece of that?
JEALOUS: Sure. I mean look, if he had come forward, and he had disclosed this we all would be quick to forgive him.
BALDWIN: Like if he owned it out of the gate.
JEALOUS: Yes. But the only reason he's apologizing is because he got caught and can't get his apology straight. And you know, in politics, when you run for office, as I ran for governor here, you know, Yes, you hire people to look into your past.
[14:10:01] BALDWIN: Research.
JEALOUS: The most important thing you do is disclose to your team, you say hey, guy, these are the five things I'm worried about. You need to know. You may not find them in any newspaper, but let's figure this out. Every candidate has a responsibility to do that. He refused to do that the half dozen times he ran for office. He has built a time bomb that has exploded on him. He's the only person who bears responsibility.
And so, it's not whether or not you were in the photo, you put the photo on your page. You are also running around in black face at the school. We just need to move on.
BALDWIN: Justin Fairfax waiting in wings says he's focused on being lieutenant governor. But that could change in an instant. Good to see you. Thank you so much.
New today, the NTSB announced that quote unquote "lifesaving information may have been lost because of the government shutdown." Officials are going back to the 97 incidents impacted saying in any cases of wreckages were moved or altered before its teams could have arrived on the scene. Just another negative impact from this government closure yet the President still won't rule out a shutdown come February 15th when the government runs out of money again. Listen to President Trump speaking to CBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS HOST: Would you shut down the government again?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have to see what happens on February 15th.
BRENNAN: You're not taking it off the table.
TRUMP: I don't take anything off the table. I don't like to take things off the table. It's that alternative. It's national emergency. It's other things and there have been plenty national emergencies called. You need a wall. Anybody that says you don't, they're just playing games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, Gloria Borger. Good to see you. Let me run down some of the polling that the President is teasing another shutdown as a new CNN poll shows that his base is behind him 78 percent of conservative Republicans would support shutting down the government if there's no funding for wall. Seeing that, do you think the President would even weigh this other poll finding the 57 percent of Americans overall do not want a government shutdown if there is no funding for the wall?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not much. I mean I've never seen a President who does less to reach out to people who didn't vote for him. And this is all about consolidating his base. And 78 percent is quite an astonishing number. And he's going to be happy with that. So, if others don't like it and if 57 percent of the country doesn't like it, it's not, it's not his problem. He believes it's the Democrats problem. Not his.
BALDWIN: This CNN poll also found Trump's approval rating has ticked up to 40 percent. It's a point higher. Than what was before the shutdown. Why do you think it went up?
BORGER: I was looking at some of our internal numbers to try and fi figure it out. First of all, it's pretty much statistically insignificant. He has had a little bit of an uptick with independent voters although I will tell you, 63 percent of independent voters say they do not support a national emergency declaration to get the wall built and maybe he's consolidated his base a little bit more after the government has reopened for a few weeks. So again, statistically hard to read anything into it, but those might be some of the reasons.
BALDWIN: Just back to the President's interview, the sit-down he did with Margaret Brennan and was asked about impeachment. Here it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Are you prepared for an attempt to impeach you?
TRUMP: The only way they can win because they can't win the election is to bring out the artificial way of impeachment and the problem is you can't impeach somebody for doing the best job of any President in the history of our country for the first two years. It's high crimes and misdemeanors. There was no high crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: First of all, kudos to her for the interview. I thought she did an excellent job. Does it sound like he's ready to face what's ahead of him?
BORGER: He tells you what he's going to say. Should it come around and it is. They're trying to steal the office of the presidency. That's you know, that's what he thought about talks about the Russia hacking for example. They're just trying to take the office away from me and declare me illegitimate. Same school of thought which is if you impeach me, you're trying to steal this from me. By the way, there are lots of Democrats who understand this theory very well and believe that impeachment is not the best route to take. Then in fact they ought to beat them at the ballot box if they can and so there's a disagreement within the Democratic party about how to proceed.
[14:15:00] Everyone wants to look at the report by the special counsel, but you don't hear Nancy Pelosi out there screaming impeachment. You do not.
BALDWIN: Such a great point. Thank you.
BALDWIN: See you tomorrow in person for the big State of the Union. Coming up next, behind the curtain during quote unquote "executive time". A leaked White House schedule reveals how President Trump is spending the majority of his team day-to-day. We'll discuss that. Also, breaking new us. After three months of testimony from dozens of witnesses, a jury in Brooklyn is now deliberating the face of El Chapo. The very same man who twice escaped from prison in Mexico. So, we're standing by for that. Also, he's back. A year after withdrawing his nomination as the Secretary of the VA due to questionable conduct, Ronny Jackson is back with a new role at the White House despite being under a pentagon investigation. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. President Trump has spent roughly 60 percent of his working hours in unstructured executive time over the last three months. This is according to a trove of internal White House schedules
obtained by "Axios".
The itineraries detail 297 hours of executive times. Compared to 77 hours of meetings. 51 hours of travel. This from a President who often snubs the work ethic of his predecessors, easy for me to say, and boasts about his own productivity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I promise you that I will work so hard. We're going to get it turned around.
I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off.
Obama, it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf.
Everything's executive order. Because he doesn't have enough time because he's playing so much golf.
Obama ought to give off the golf course and get down there.
I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to play golf.
He played more golf last year than tiger woods.
I've gotten older and I'm working a hell of a lot harder than ever before.
I look at these trade deals and I say how could this have happened. It was laziness.
She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina. I said she doesn't have the stamina. And I don't believe she does have the stamina. To be President of this country, you need tremendous stamina.
We've done more than anybody ever thought possible in, it's not even two years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The Director of Oval Office Operations is responding to the report. Here's the tweet. What a disgraceful breach of trust to leak schedules. What these don't show are the hundreds of calls and meetings President Trump takes every day. So, with me now, Anita McBride, the former director of White House personnel under the last three Republican Presidents a former chief of staff for Laura Bush. Good to see you.
ANITA MCBRIDE, A FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR LAURA BUSH: Good to see you, too. Thanks.
BALDWIN: OK, just for the sake of comparison since you know Bush 43 and that whole thing really well, point of reference. Give us an example of what day-to-day his calendar looked like compared to Trump.
MCBRIDE: Well I mean first of all, say this in the context of there no more valuable asset to any presidency than the President's time and each of them have a different style and a different way of using their time. George W. Bush was an early riser. Woke up at 5:00 or 5:15, made coffee for his wife and his day started there. Reading papers. He was in the office by 6:45 in the morning. And then by comparison, the senior staff meeting started by 7:30, over at 8:00 and there you go..
His schedules and meetings started about 8:00 in the morning. Intelligence briefings and other things that are part and parcel to a President's schedule. It was very punctual. Nothing was ever late. Often ended early. We were all on our toes. That's just the way it was. His father was the same way.
BALDWIN: So, when you now see this "Axios" reporting and these leaked schedules indicating 60 percent of executive time, what does that tell you?
MCBRIDE: Well, what should that should tell us is that he has a more unstructured style and he's brought his style of managing from his private sector world to the White House. I think there's some maturing that goes with any presidency. Certainly, Bill Clinton was like that way, too, in the beginning, was very chaotic. People that worked there would tell you that. Things started late. Weren't on time. People were left waiting. But that changed and morphed over time and got better. But I think we all know that Donald Trump is not up and sleeping from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
BALDWIN: He's an early riser as well.
MCBRIDE: He's tweeting to things he's watching on TV and presumably, people can come meet with him in the residence. Not every meeting has to start in the oval office.
[14:25:00] Again, just an unstructured way, but a style that's suiting him. But I think the bigger problem here in all of this is who is leaking this information and who is -- three months of schedules and printing them off and giving them to a news organization.
BALDWIN: That is a huge question. That is question number one. The fact that somebody is leaking the President's personal schedule and that number two, let me find Maggie Haberman's tweet, which she said a White House aide is weaponizing the President's schedules, which says a lot about how people in the White House feel about the man they work for. So, to all of the above, how concerning is ha for you?
MCBRIDE: Very. I just think any President, any presidency, any White House, staff, you know, should be concerned about that. I mean you know, we are announcing these schedules that have been released or not. There's a private schedule that's in a closer, r smaller group of people that gets to see that that has additional things on it. That the President would be doing that would not be on this more public schedule. That we've seen. But it's a breakdown and process and I think an earlier show on CNN, David Gergen was on and had said this is a reflection of sort of the civil war going on. You know among staff in the White House, that they would do this and ultimately, they're hurting the President and that's not right for any presidency.
BALDWIN: As Cliff Sims tweeted, vipers are going to "vipe." Thank you very much. Coming up next, breaking news out of the State Department. The U.S. and South Korea have reached a preliminary agreement over U.S. troops in the region.
Plus, the White House is about to see what Democratic oversight looks like. A big week of blockbuster hearings ahead with Trump administration in the hot seat.
[14:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)