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White House Briefing as Trump Demands 8.68 Billion More for A Border Wall; Major Airlines Ground Boeing's 737 Max 8; "Fox" Condemns Host After She Questioned Omar's Hijab; Spa Founder Brought Chinese Clients to Trump Fundraiser. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's something he's done before. A well-worn strategy, but something a lot of Israelis reflected by the post of Gal Gadot simply don't want to hear, election period or not.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Melissa Bell in Jerusalem. Thank you and that is it for me. "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Thank you so much. Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me on this Monday afternoon. Let's roll into it. The White House will be holding its daily press briefing today and by daily, we mean the first time in 42 days. In moments, the White House is expected to hail the President's new budget, which takes on an all-too-familiar and painful fight funding for his wall with Mexico. President Trump is seeking more money than the last time to the tune of $8.6 billion. To build this barrier at the southern border.

Democrats say this whole thing is a nonstarter, but that is far from the only sticking point in Trump's budget as he also aims to cut $2.7 trillion in spending. He wants to make his Trump tax cut permanent for businesses and individuals. Reform welfare programs, including a work requirement for people 18 to 65 and call for funding $15 billion school choice initiative. So, as we wait for White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to take to the podium, let's bring in CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, you are in the room. This is the first briefing --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We found it.

BALDWIN: You remember where it was. This is, this is the first press briefing in six weeks. The White House has a lot of questions to answer and Sarah Sanders will have a guest.

ACOSTA: Yes. That's right, Brooke, we're expecting Russ Vought the Director of OMB. The acting director I suppose because the former director is now the White House chief of staff, but he's going to be coming out to lay out the President's budget proposal for the upcoming year. This is something we've talked about in the past. Not just specific to the Trump administration, but the budget recommendations end up being sort of administration wish list and it's not often that you know, we, I should say it is often that we hear the term dead on arrival here in Washington with respect to a President's budget. This happened under Obama. Republicans up on Capitol Hill greeted President Obama's budgets is same way and Democrats are greeting these Trump budgets the same way and specifically, what you just laid out a few moments ago that $8.6 billion that's been proposed for the President's signature item on his wish list, the wall, that's Democrats are not keen on giving the President. They're still fighting over this national emergency declaration down on the border the President's using to tap into funds administratively. But there will be lots of other questions. It's been 42 days since the last White House press briefing. Only one briefing in the last 80 or so days and so there's just a whole pile of questions for the White House press secretary to answer from the Russia investigation to immigration to these budget issues. Russ will be answering some of those.

At some point, the White House press secretary will come forward and presumably answer some of our questions that have been lingering for some time. It's something that we use d to do a whole lot in this briefing room. It's something we haven't seen in quite some time, but perhaps with the departure of the White House communications director, bill shine, who was not very keen on these White House briefings, he thought they were not productive for the President's news coverage. We saw the briefings almost grind to a complete halt. And instead, we saw administration officials going out to the live cameras primarily to do live shots, exclusive live shots with Fox News then we would get these sort of crumbs as they get back inside the west wing, but hopefully we'll have more of these briefings and we'll get more answers out of the White House press office. Something we haven't had in quite some time.

BALDWIN: This is wonderful and we welcome them. Jim, thank you. Stand by. Dana, on the news of this budget that the President has given to Congress today, this whole piece about the 8.6 billion for construction of the border wall. My question to you really is why is he bringing this up again? Is it to put up this big 2020 fight? Does he need the money? Is it all of the above?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All of the above. Does he need the money? He wants the money and he wants to make a point on not just the wall, which obviously is the thing his aides describe as the policy extension of himself at this point even though it started out in the campaign as a rhetorical political tool. It's morphed into something much bigger in the President's eyes. But even more broadly as Jim said, it is always a political and policy, but policy driven by political ideology document. That any President puts forward.

[14:05:08] Even more so in a year like this, where he is heading into the election and the Democrats on the other side are already in full swing. He is going to plant his flag on a whole bunch of issues and you laid out a lot of them. The other interesting noteworthy things he's trying to do is say that he's taking care of veterans, increasing spending on that. A little bit more money for infrastructure. Potentially an olive branch to Democrats. Not going to get too far ahead on that though. We'll see how that goes. But just more broadly, we're both old enough to remember certainly I am, you know, what ten years ago, when a Republican President was, was really vilified by his own party for spending.

BALDWIN: Can I just -- you read my mind. I wanted to, yes. Yes. And of course, you're not that much older than me, Dana Bash. I love you. Speaking though of that very point, let's jog back not too far from when Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the inside and I know the outside. And that's why I'm the only one that can fix this mess, folks. When you start cutting, you're going balance the budget. Believe me, you're going to balance the budget. But it will take fairly quickly and it can be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, this is the whole promises made, promises kept, right? He's going in the opposite direction now. To your point. To the opposite direction of Republican, traditionally.

BASH: Right. The beauty of someone running who hasn't been President, going for their first term, is you can say things and not be held accountable. The difficult thing about re-election is that you have a record and yes, he's talking about the fact that you know, he could do it fast and specifically, he said in 2016 that he could do it in eight years. When I say it, I mean balance the budget and according to this document that he's going to put forward, it would be 15 years. And even that is done with nonpartisan experts. A whole bunch of statistics that are pie in the sky according to a lot of people to even get to that point.

BALDWIN: One more, looking ahead this week, we know the Senate will take the resolution, they're going to be voting on that to block Trump's emergency declaration. A move that unlocks more money for the wall. What's noteworthy is more and more Republicans have been defect from the side of the White House saying they will vote against this, including Rand Paul.

BASH: Right. And Rand Paul put this resolution in the yes, it's going to pass column. The question is going to be exactly as you said, how many more Republicans will defect and will say from their perspective I'm going to vote in favor of the constitution and not in favor of this President and my party. And so, it is going to be interesting to see how many do ultimately go there. Still unlikely it will get to the 67 mark, which is the veto proof majority. Never mind that you're not likely to get there in the House, so it's probably moot, but it will be symbolic to see how many, especially at a time where some of these Republicans are already gearing up for their next election in purple states. Some in bluer states and they're trying to position themselves just as we were trying to talk about the position trying to position himself.

BALDWIN: Yes, thank you. Good to see you. Watching and waiting for the news conference and for Sarah Sanders to take questions. Meantime, another major story we're following. Investigators have recover ed the flight data and voice recorders from the Ethiopian crash that killed all on board. While multiple airlines have grounded the popular Boeing plane involved, Southwest and American Airlines say they will continue flying this aircraft. The pilot report ed technical difficulties on Sunday and one witness says the plane was smoking and swerving before the crash. Among the victims, eight Americans and 21 United Nations staffers. This is the second time in five months that a Boeing 737 Max 8 model has crashed minutes into the flight. The very same thing happened to a flight back in October. But despite the similarities there, Boeing is not planning to issue new guidance on the plane models. So, Richard Quest is our CNN aviation correspondent, so first of all, obviously everyone's wondering my gosh, how many of these types of planes are being flown here in the U.S. so A, that's my question for you and why is Boeing holding off on grounding them?

[14:10:11] RICHARD QUEST: Several dozen are in the U.S. fleet at the moment. Southwest has 24. American has a couple dozen of them. There are 5,000 on order and roughly 170 or so have gone to China.

And it is China that has led the way in by grounding those particular planes, followed by Ethiopia, followed by Indonesia. So far, Boeing is saying that there is no evidence, there's no information upon which they should off the guidance. That's true as far as it goes. There are no further facts. If you look at the crash scene, they found the flight recorders. They are affording ways to find out what is they say, but at the moment strictly speaking, we're no better off knowing other than Brooke these coincidences. Same plane, brand-new. Same phase of flight, first ten minutes and there was quite a bit of volatility in the altitude before this happened.

BALDWIN: But for the American audience, they may not know this airline as well. But it's my understanding this airline has a pretty strong track record.

QUEST: This airline is an airline I have flown. I fly without cause or worry. In fact, it is the airline if you're flying somewhere in the world through Africa or to Africa, you specifically go on this airline. Because its reputation is so good. Ethiopian there's, can I say there will be involved, something wrong here, no. But to put Ethiopians safety record on the table in this particular case would be a great miscarriage of justice. There's nothing wrong with Ethiopian.

BALDWIN: How long do you think before they figure this out?

QUEST: Within the week. Within the week, they will have the first data, excuse me, the recorders are not damaged. Within the week, they will have the first data from the flight data recorders and the cockpit voice recorders. Ten days max. That will tell them whether it was somehow related to this end class system. This safety protective system that Boeing has put in the planes that was the responsible or primary cause of lion air. The really, the you know the question you haven't asked and that question I can't answer, is the plane safe? If I was flying, if I was in an airport tonight and was expecting to get on a Max 8 plane --

BALDWIN: Would you do it? QUEST: The Chinese have grounded the fleet. The U.S. hasn't come out

yet and said the airlines have said they have confidence, so yes, I probably would, but it is an intolerable I would say an unacceptable position to put the traveling public in. When a major regulator has grounded and the other major regulators have not. It's leaving the troubling public in the middle.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much for the back and forth. We'll be talking next hour to a colleague, one of the lives lost. There was a third year Georgetown University law student studying here in the U.S. we'll talk to her next hour about him and his legacy. Richard, thank you. Coming up next, Fox News under fire. One host questions a Congresswoman's jab while audio surfaces of another host making vile remarks about women and child rape. We'll play the audio.

Plus, new details on the former owner of the spa tied to the Robert Kraft case. Who she reportedly brought to Trump fundraisers.

And the final assault on an is stronghold in Syria. Is the terror group defeated? You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Two Fox News star hosts face heat today. One getting a rare rebuke, but neither is apologizing. Jeanine said this about a Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNINE Pirro, Fox News Host: Think about it. Omar wears a Hijab which according to the Koran, 33:59 tells women to cover so they won't get molested. Is her adherence to the Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is antithetical to the United States constitution?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Fox News condemning her remarks but taking no other visible action and she's not exactly saying sorry, issuing this response instead: "I've seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night's show and I did not call representative Omar un- American. My intention was to ask a question and start a debate but of course because one with a Muslim does not mean you don't support the constitution. I invite her to come on my show anytime to discuss all the important issues facing America today." Meantime, Tucker Carlson is under fire for comments he made to a shock jock named Bubba the Love Sponge. Not just once but over course of several years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:00] TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Warren Jeffs didn't marry under age girls.

BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE, SHOCK JOCK: No. He's in prison for the facilitation of child rape. CARLSON: Whatever that means. He's in prison because he's weird and

unpopular and he has a different lifestyle that other people find creepy.

LOVE SPONGE: No, he's an accessory to the rape of children. That is a felony and a serious one at that.

CARLSON: What do you mean an accessory? He is in some weird religious called for he thinks it's okay to marry under age girls. But he didn't do it. Why wouldn't the guy who had sex with underage girls, he should be doing time. The rapist in this case has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person. It is a little different. Be honest about it. This guy may be the -- Just telling you, arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and 27-year-old is not same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.

I love women, but they're primitive, basic, not hard to understand.

I feel sorry for unattractive women. It's nothing they did.

LOVE SPONGE: What's better than hockey? Weed and whores.

CARLSON: you know first of all there is no Canadian woman you would want to pay to sleep with. Anybody who answers, my trophy wife is my favorite possession is my hero. I'm voting for the guy.

LOVE SPONGE: You want to [bleep] Sarah Palin.

CARLSON: I'll agree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: OK. Just to recap. The host of Fox's most coveted time slot insulted woman, even called a Supreme Court justice unattractive, and suggested underage marriage is not as serious as forcible child rape calling the laws totally unfair. But he didn't apologize, called his words quote, naughty and instead, pushed viewers to tune in tonight. Joining me now, Anna Navarro and senior political analyst, John Avlon. John, no apologies for the vile rhetoric. Instead, the message is tune in. Is that their business model?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think what they're saying though is a contagion from the shock and awe business model where it's playing to the base, inflame with agitation, anxiety and it gets them into trouble because guess what, you're playing with fire when playing with those forces. Those comments, those were on prompter.

BALDWIN: Others had seen them, OK'd them, allowed them to go on.

AVLON: And she endorsed them. It wasn't a slip of the tongue, a misspeaking. And for constitutional conservatives to say something like that should read the constitution, which free religion is a pretty prominent part. But it's part of the game they've been playing. I think with Tucker, those comments I'm glad you played the Warren Jeff's one because I think that's the most serious.

BALDWIN: Tell me why.

AVLON: Because he's making light of sort of institutionalized child rape with force marriage inside a religious cult. Nothing funny about that. The defense will be a shock jock conversation, it's a long time ago, I shouldn't have said those things. There's a degree of normalization. When Bubba the Love Sponge is trying to be the voice of reason on that one, that's its own sort of warning. Look, Tucker can be a charming guy in person, but I think you're accountable for what you say when you have the microphone. That's crossing several lines.

BALDWIN: What do you think?

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I suspect that you know, I'm not sure that I can even buy he's a charming, funny guy in person. To me, it's more important what you're like when you're being viewed by millions of people. The same way you said the constitutional conservatives have to think about what Pirro said. Social values voters and Christian voters and the people who have all the trouble when other people do crazy things, should also really question themselves and look at themselves in the mirror and say why are we listening to this guy who we just heard on audio, you know, say some really vile things. Then again, Brooke, take a look at who the Fox viewers are. They listen to on audio, a Republican candidate, Republican nominee, saying some very vile things then still voted him in. So, I think the standards are different. I think the bars have been lowered. I think they don't apologize because they don't feel like they have to.

BALDWIN: They refuse to apologize and not only that, I know Tucker made those comments while he was at MSNBC and they should be answering some of these questions, but you look at what happens with Fox News and a host steps in some of it. Maybe semi-rebuke. And they still have a job.

[14:25:00] AVLON: This is the downstream effect of Donald Trump. The play of you know, doubling down, refuse to apologize. Distract, attack, deflect, divide. That start, we see that contagion throughout our political and media culture because it's worked for him. So, you get that effect when it comes to Tucker. We'll see what he says tonight. It's impossible to defend some of those things. I will say it's mildly ironic given that last week, he was hitting Joe Biden for comments he made in the 1970s about bussing, which is a whole other conversation you could have. I don't think you could say that should be viewed in the context of his time when I was calling in to Bubba, but everything else is fair game.

NAVARRO: Ironically, I think they've made the case for the Democrats saying we're not going to give Fox News the debate a single debate. They've also made the case and they've also you know, thrown a life raft to Omar with these comments. So, if you can't take issue, consistently with Omar questioning whether a Jewish politics has dual loyalty, where at the same time, you're saying one that wears a Hijab can have no loyalty to the U.S. constitution. So, you take issue with the one wearing a Yamaka, but not a Hijab. It's called hypocrisy, stupidity and doing a great big favor to Omar and the Democrats. On that issue and the debate issue. Because you know, at this point, they can say, yes, of course we're not going give these deplorable people, folks who are so tainted and offensive and outrageous a debate. They just made the case.

AVLON: Also look, we're all human. We all make mistakes. You should be judged by the totality of your life, but also what you say and do when you have the microphone. The problem is this has been part of the business plan of dividing to conquer. Of appearing to narrow niche audiences.

BALDWIN: That's why it started. The business model.

AVLON: I do think you know, I think this is contagion from the business model. I think it's gotten people to a place where nothing's shocking. And they need to find a way to keep dialing that up.

NAVARRO: I bet you that tonight when you have folks tune in to watch Tucker, which of course I never do, there's going to be video of us having this conversation and instead of him admitting his -- you want to do an over under?

BALDWIN: Here's my last question. I want to move off that and talk about this new poll out of Iowa. 40 percent of registered Republicans out of Iowa want a Trump challenger. But context is key here. Interestingly, Trump's polling well among Republicans there at 80 percent approval. So, to me, that doesn't make sense.

AVLON: Fascinating.

NAVARRO: It doesn't but look, anybody taking a look at challenging Trump has got to the think of the logistics and the requirements for running. It requires money. It requires a team. Who is going to do that? If it's going to be a suicide mission and if Trump is polling in the 80 percentiles, then it looks like a suicide mission.

AVLON: That's speaking to attention. They want to see someone challenge him. I would say those folks who are thinking about it, there's a lot to be said for fighting the good fight because when the Trump fever breaks in the Republican party in our politics, that person is going to look like a hero who had the courage of their convictions when everyone else was falling in line.

NAVARRO: If they are doing that for that reason, courage and conviction, not a self-promotion ploy, not to get a cable gig, not to get on Dancing with the Stars. They're doing it for the country and they want there to be a genuine debate of Republican values.

BALDWIN: You guys are excellent. Thank you very, very much. Still ahead here, she didn't just take selfies with the President. The former owner of the Florida spa connected to Robert Kraft's prostitution case also brought Chinese businessmen to Trump fundraisers. We have the latest. We're live in Florida and CNN on the front lines in what is being called the final fight against is in Syria. We'll show you what happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Gunfire is hitting around the corner from us because there's a sniper in an ISIS building just 200 meters from where we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)