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Op-Ed: Amy Klobuchar Trump's Worst Nightmare; Gun Control Advocate Mark Kelly to Run McCain's Senate Seat; Fl. Rep. Ted Deutch Plans to Introduce a Bill to Ban High-Capacity Gun Magazines; A Mother's Valentine's Letter to Her Daughter, a Parkland Shooting Victim; White House Official Says Trump Will Likely Sign Government Funding Bill; White House Correspondent's Association Responds to Attack on Journalist at Trump Rally; Baton Rouge P.D. Undercover Officers Admit to Using Blackface. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 12, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I bet people will remember this exchange -- you point this out -- the exchange she had with Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Here was the clip.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: So you're saying there's never been a case where you drank so much that you didn't remember what happened the night before or part of what happened?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: You're asking about blackout. I don't know. Have you?

KLOBUCHER: Could you answer the question, Judge? And just -- that's not happened, is that your answer?

KAVANAUGH: Yes. And I'm curious if you have.

KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problem, Judge.


BALDWIN: Wow. That was -- that was something. What do you think -- what do you think she would bring to the race? Certainly, she kept her -- she kept her cool there, what does she have that would give fellow Democrats even Trump a run for their money?

HENRY OLSEN, OPINION COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The thing to remember is Trump won because basically he made choice for people who didn't like either candidates. You either have Never Trump or never Hillary and people waited until the last week and then they decided I guess never Hillary is better than Never Trump.

It's very hard to look at somebody who can keep their cool, doesn't have skeletons in their background and make Never Amy worse than Never Trump. So as long as she can get through the Democratic primary and as long as there's no additional skeletons in her closet, it's very hard to Trump to do to her what he did to Hillary Clinton. BALDWIN: Henry, I do keep hearing you say, as long as she can get

through the Democratic primaries. That's really where my question is. This is where the but is because she may give Trump a run for his money but those same middle-of-the-Democratic road, Midwestern pragmatic, appeals to some Republicans, heaven forbid, qualities. Might that damage her among this Democratic field?

OLSEN: It'll damage her among people who want true believers. Whenever I talk about Klobuchar, I get hardcore progressive saying no more centrist stuff. The majority of Democrats want somebody who's liberal, which she is, but just liberal, which is to say someone who's a little quieter, a little more down to earth, and that's the sort of person who's the majority of the Democratic Party. It's entirely possible that she can appeal to that person and take on a progressive and win. It's not a foregone conclusion but there's a lot of people that just want liberal and just a winner and they might look at her.

BALDWIN: Henry Olsen, thank you. I'm sure Senator Klobuchar thanks you for what you wrote in "The Post."

A heads up. You will learn so much more about Senator Klobuchar next Monday night. Don Lemon moderates a CNN presidential town hall with the candidate, taking questions from voters in New Hampshire. And that is 10:00 eastern next Monday night.

Henry Olsen, thank you.

First, let me just remind you, tonight, Howard Schultz gets his turn in the spotlight. Poppy Harlow will moderate a CNN presidential town hall, live in Houston. That is 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Still ahead, the House Judiciary Committee hires not one, but two new lawyers as they look into President Trump's business dealings. And these lawyers have both argued for his impeachment. We will talk about what, if anything, this may mean.

And an interesting political announcement today. What Gabby Gifford's husband and astronaut, Mark Kelly, is revealing about his future.


[14:37:27] BALDWIN: Now to the 2020 race. Not for president, not for Senate, but for the seat vacated by the passing of John McCain. Winning his spot next year has become the next mission of former astronaut, Mark Kelly, a Democrat. Kelly is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who was nearly murdered in 2011 in a mass shooting. The couple has become vocal gun control advocates. Gifford, who suffered major brain trauma was featured prominently in Kelly's announcement.


MARK KELLY, (D), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE & FORMER ASTRONAUT: You remember when you first entered Congress for the first time?

GABBY GIFFORDS, (D), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: Yes, so exciting. KELLY: It was exciting. I thought then that I had the risky job.


KELLY: Turned out that you were the one who had the risky job.


KELLY: What I learned from my wife is how you use policy to improve people's lives.

I've decided that I'm launching a campaign for the United States Senate.

We've seen this retreat from science and data and facts, and if we don't take these issues seriously, we can't solve these problems.


BALDWIN: Right now, the Arizona seat is filled by Republican Martha McSally who will hold the seat until special election next year.

It is a significant week for gun control advocates who are about to see a big move on Capitol Hill in their favor. This Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the time Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed. The Democratic congressman, who represents the area, plans to introduce a bill to ban high-capacity magazines.

So let's go to Capitol Hill to CNN Congressional Reporter, Liz Landers.

And, Liz, there are no Republican co-sponsors for this bill. So how likely that it becomes law?

LIZ LANDERS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Brooke, this is going to be an uphill battle for Democrats right now, but it's a battle that they are willing to fight. As you said, it's been a year since that Parkland shooting happened and there's been no meaningful legislation in either the House or the Senate on gun control.

Today, Congressman Deutch, who represents that district in Parkland, joined with Bob Menendez to reintroduce a ban on high-capacity magazines for guns. That means any device that attaches to a weapon that has 10 rounds of ammunition or more.

Deutch spoke just a few moments ago at a press conference. Here's what he said about that bill. "The few seconds that it takes to reload a weapon matter. And those seconds can take -- can save a life."

As you mentioned, there's no bipartisan support for this bill quite yet.

I asked Senator Bob Menendez why he's optimistic that anything can happen with this, especially in the Republican-controlled majority Senate. Listen to what he had to say about why he's optimistic about that.


[14:40:16] SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: The reality of a Democratic majority sending legislation -- I believe this week they're starting on background check, if I'm not mistaken. But that creates an impetus and a challenge for the Republican leader in the Senate. Are you going to silence the voices that want to see reasonable gun safety measures or are you going to give it an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor? We're going to test in every way we can that proposition.


LANDERS: Now, Brooke, as you can imagine, the NRA has been critical of this new reintroduction of this bill. And I'd also point out that this has been introduced in the past. So what the NRA says is, you know, this is an arbitrary limit that's pulled out of thin air with no evidence that this limit would even improve public safety.

But today, at this press conference on the Hill, Manny Oliver, who lost his son in that Parkland shooting, said of gun legislation action, "We are not asking, we're not begging, we demand" -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: We demand.

Liz Landers, thank you very much.

Now I just want to take a minute to read a special letter, not just because Valentine's Day is Thursday, it's the same day as Parkland shooting from a year ago. The words I'm about to read are from Lori Alhadeff, to her daughter, Alyssa, who was just 14 when her daughter was killed just one year ago. So -- few. I'll try to get through this.

She writes, "Dear Alyssa, it is Valentine's Day, a day full of love, chocolates and flowers. For me, it is more than that now. Last Valentine's Day was the last time I saw you. Whew. You wore a black and white dress. Your long dark hair dangled, your make-up looked just right. Of course, your white sneakers protected your feet as you walked into the high school.

Valentine's Day is now about memories. Today, like all days, I remember you. I remember you weren't looking forward to going to school that day. And like many 14-year-old girls, you wanted a valentine and were disappoint that you didn't have one. High school love is magic. I was 14 once, and those butterflies had whirled inside of me, too. I wanted that for you."

I want to get through this because these words matter. "I remember the golden gift bag I gave you that morning. It held a pair of diamond earrings to make you feel pretty. A chocolate bar to make you smile. And a hair tie so you wouldn't ask for mine. I touched your ears putting the stems of the earrings through your lobes. You said you were ready to go to school after that. You opened the car door. 'I love you,' I said. ' I love you, too,' you said. Valentine's Day, the last time I saw you alive."

She continues on. "A year has been a long time without you. So much has happened I want to tell you about. I watch your brother's miss you terribly. They want to know that they miss fighting with you. They say thank you for convincing dad to get unlimited Wi-Fi. Dad fights for you every day.

He is your voice. Grammy has honored you and became a school safety activist. We got a dog. Her name is Roxie and she's a soccer player like you. She kicks the ball around the yard but sometimes puts it in her mouth. And your soccer team, wow, what a group? They wear your number eight on their sleeves and have started using it sideways to honor you, Infiniti.

Oh, and I found out about the time you jumped off a bridge. Alyssa, you jumped off a bridge! There are things I do in your memory that I never thought I could or would ever do. You see a mother's protective instincts don't leave when we lose the ones we love. I talk to other moms who have lost children.

We talk about you. We talk about their kids. But when we look into each other's eyes we see it, a fire. I ran for the school board. I won. I screamed on national TV words of rage directed at the president. I started a nonprofit called Make Our Schools Safe. And there's a law named after you in New Jersey, Alyssa's Law."

[14:44:45] She goes on. "But I just want to include her closing. It's Valentine's Day. As I remember you, grief washes over me, but that grief emboldened me to fight for change. I wish I could take all the bullets for you. It has been a year since I saw you. You in the black-and-white dress, those Converse on your feet and that smile. I'll never forget that smile. It feels like yesterday. I just want to you back. Love forever, Mom."


BALDWIN: A White House official has said President Trump is likely to sign the government funding deal in order to prevent a government shutdown.

So let's bring back CNN's Abby Phillip over at the White House.

And, Abby, what do we know about the president's agreement?

[14:49:46] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. While this is the decision that everyone's pretty much waiting on Capitol Hill and here at the White House for the president to make. But as you said, a White House official is telling CNN that the president is likely to sign this agreement, although this source cautions that nothing is final yet.

But sources have been telling us all day that the belief right now is that President Trump is likely to sign this bill and then is going to do something else, something else to cobble together some money in order to do more than what Congress is allowing him to do in terms of building the wall. The final decision is yet to be made as far as we know.

But it's wildly believed at this point that the president is going to go ahead and sign it and he said himself just a few hours ago, he does not believe there will be another government shutdown. The only way if that is the case, if President Trump signs something that Congress sends over to him -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: We wait.

Abby Phillip, thank you, Abby.

Also into CNN, the White House Correspondent's Association is responding to last night's attack on a BBC photographer at President Trump's rally at El Paso.

Brian Stelter is here, our CNN chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

And so, Brian, what are they saying?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Very disturbing video from this rally. He was able to enter the press area and push and shove several cameramen, including one from the BBC. You see the footage from his crew there. No one was injured in this case. Security was able to intervene but the correspondent is saying there's got to be a change.

The White House Correspondent's Association represents all the reporters and press covering the White House. The president of the United States should make clear, absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Brooke, if anything seems inevitable, in the Trump years, this seemed inevitable.

At some point, we'll see something like this. There are some news networks that even go to these rallies with security guards and body guards. We'll see even more of that going forward now that this has happened in El Paso.

BALDWIN: Unacceptable behavior.

Brian Stelter, thank you for the update there.

Still ahead, here on CNN, what is going on with Michael Cohen? He's postponed his congressional testimony three times before he reports to prison. So, what's up with that?

Plus, another apology over the use of blackface. This time, from members of a police department.

We'll be right back.


[14:56:28] BALDWIN: Instances of using blackface have now turned up inside a Louisiana Police Department. Baton Rouge's police department is apologizing after this photo from an old yearbook was posted online. The officers in the photo were working in an undercover operation at the time the photo was taken back in 1993.

CNN's Martin Savidge is with me now to try to explain perhaps a bit further.

I know the police chief just addressed this. What was said?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, 1993, those officers involved are white and they were taking part in an undercover sting operation, drug dealing, cracking down on crime in Baton Rouge and it apparently was successful. There were arrests that were made.

Everyone, everyone condemns the photograph, but there are some who do support the practice. First of all, let me read to you the statement that was put up by the chief of police, the current one. " Blackface photographs are inappropriate and offensive. They were inappropriate then and they are inappropriate today."

He goes on to apologize to the African-American community and the community at large.

Now I had a long conversation with Greg Fireez (ph). He's the man who was the police chief at the time. He says this is what was going on. He said that they did have black undercover officers, however, they had been using them so frequently during this crime spree in their city at that time that it would have been dangerous to use them again. They were recognized by the criminal element in that community. So they used white officers wearing makeup he says. He will not use the word blackface because he knows how offensive that term is.

He says the distinction here between Virginia and Florida and other such cases is that these officers were working to serve and do good to stop crime in the African-American community and in the community at large.

As for the photograph, he says, it never should have been taken. He had no control of it being in a yearbook. And that yearbook posting came out 15 years or more later because I asked him, why would his officers, if they're undercover, put a photo of themselves in a yearbook. And he said that came out after they were out of that kind of work. In his words, "I did not have a problem with it then. I do not have a problem with it now for this reason, it was done to do good police work."

BALDWIN: Have we heard anything from the two officers?

SAVIDGE: No, they have not spoken or at least -- we've made multiple calls and attempts to reach out to them. They have not. We reached to the chief. He didn't call me back.

BALDWIN: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It looks like we can put those fears of another government shutdown to

rest. A White House official now saying the president is likely to sign an agreement on border security. And just listen to the president.


TRUMP: I don't think you're going to see a shutdown.

I would never accept if it happens but I don't think it's going to happen.


BALDWIN: Trump was reacting to this deal that's been struck by a bipartisan group of lawmakers just days before this deadline to keep the government open. Here's what's in it. Little over $1.3 billion for these new border barriers, funding for ICE to house more than 45,000 in detention centers, and $1.7 billion increase in overall funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

[15:00:02] But the deal was just the first hurdle. Coming up next is the vote.