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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Politicizes Military Again Saying, They're on My Side; Kentucky Governor Intentionally Exposed His Kids to Chickenpox; White House Clarifies Trump Comments on U.S. Killing Members of ISIS; Syrian Mother Films Life with Young Daughter Amid Terror. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 21, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why when I had my dispute with him, I had such incredible support from the vets and from the military.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And this isn't the first time the President has used the military in this political way. With me now, retired Marine Colonel, David Lapan, who is now Vice President of Communications with the Bipartisan Policy Center. Colonel, welcome, thank you for coming on.

COL. DAVID LAPAN (RET.), VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: If we can try to push the politics aside, you have the President speaking in that crowd yesterday saying veterans are on his side as he stands there and disparages the late Senator. This is politicizing the U.S. military. We have men and women in war zones right now. So what kind of position does this put our military in?

LAPAN: Well, I think it's important to recognize that the U.S. military, in particular, is the only military and the only country in the world where we swear our oath to the constitution of the United States. To the values that are espoused there, not to a person, not to a President, to a king, to a dictator, any one person. Our military was designed to be apolitical. So any hint of what the President has done to politicize the military puts us in very dangerous territory. I'd also note that the U.S. military has also one of the most trusted organizations, institutions in the United States consistently. I'd say a large reason for that is because we are apolitical. This is damaging and can be damaging to that reputation.

BALDWIN: I hear you on being apolitical, and I hear you on serving the country and not the man. But, you know, I was talking to our Pentagon correspondent who's reporting this all out for us first yesterday. And she said she was really struck by the silence of top military brass. Because I know not only in the civilian world but in the U.S. military world, in particular, this man, Senator John McCain, is a hero and not enough people have said anything and do you think there's something wrong with that?

LAPAN: I would agree that there's something wrong with a lot of people not saying, particularly elected leaders, particularly members of the President's party, who should be speaking out more forcefully against this. I completely understand why senior members of the military are not able to speak out. Again, it goes back to that code of being apolitical. Speaking out particularly in this case puts them in a very political position. That's why it's understandable that senior military leaders are not speaking out, but senior political leaders and others certainly should.

BALDWIN: I was reminding myself today, I was rereading this reporting from a bit ago that DOD is proposing to pay for Trump's wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, child care centers and other facilities for military children. So my question is, do you feel that this President has veterans' backs or is it just when it's politically convenient?

LAPAN: Personally, I think it's just when it's politically convenient. Again, the President has held himself out to be a supporter of the military. Yet you look at what he's said and done about Senator McCain, a clearly acknowledged military hero. What he said as a candidate was bad, what he said about Senator McCain as he was dying of brain cancer was worse. And what he has said since, you know, recently with the Senator being dead for seven months is just beyond the pale.

Sending military troops to the border when I don't think that's necessary, taking military -- much needed military funds away, military construction funds and counter drug funds for the border wall, I think those are all indications that a lot of the President's talking points about support for the military don't match with the reality.

BALDWIN: Thank you for your candor Colonel Lapan. And thank you for your service. Appreciate it.

LAPAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, the governor of Kentucky appears to give the green light to anti-vaxxers despite an outbreak of measles in his state. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us just to sort fact from fiction.

Plus more on our breaking news. Democrats are demand to go know everything about communications between the President and Vladimir Putin, including those mysterious chats involving translators but the White House just rejected that.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Kentucky's governor says he is OK with parents who opt out of childhood vaccinations. In fact, during a radio station interview, Governor Matt Bevin said that he deliberately exposed all nine of his kids so they could get chicken pox so they wouldn't have to actually get the vaccine. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT BEVIN, GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: We found a neighbor that had it and I went and made sure every one of my kids was exposed to it and they got it. They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days and they all turned out fine. The odds of getting chicken pox again if you've already had it naturally as a child where it will have 99.999 percent no long-term repercussion on you if you get it naturally. And the odds of ever getting it again are slim but now they're finding that you need to keep getting boosters if you're inoculated against it. It's absurd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: It's absurd he says. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with me. And do you think it's absurd? Because I know -- the vaccine came out in '95. Right? So obviously you and I are -- didn't have the vaccine. We turned out all right but at the same time is it something you think is necessary, smart?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, there's different ways to get immunity to chicken pox. Which is I guess the point the governor was making. He said the way he wanted to give his kids immunity was exposing them to it. And now they're protected against getting chickenpox again. That part that said, that's accurate. If you and I -- I think you had chicken pox. I had chickenpox.

BALDWIN: I did, I did.

GUPTA: We're not going to get chicken pox again. But what has happened since 1995, before that there were millions of people who got chicken pox, tens of thousands of people who got hospitalized and death was rare but not impossible. You know, the 100 to 200 people died every year of that. Since the vaccines been introduced -- you can take a look there -- I mean, we prevent three and half million cases a chickenpox. Those bottom numbers, 9,000 hospitalizations, 100 deaths, that's what the vaccine offers. So if the question is, how are you going to protect yourself against chicken pox and how are you going to get immunity, one of those has a much bigger price to pay. And obviously as you know, because it's been a long time since I've had chicken pox. But you remember, it's a miserable few days. You get the itchy rash. You know, you can get scarring --

BALDWIN: Calamine lotion, that's all I remember, the smell of the pink.

GUPTA: If you had a younger child in your house who had not yet been immunized, they could be exposed, which could be dangerous.

BALDWIN: So what do you say to the parents who though are kind of -- about getting the vaccination?

GUPTA: One is a much safer way to protect your child and to make sure they don't actually get sick and to prevent other children or other people in your neighborhood from getting sick. If you give two doses, they're 90 percent effective at preventing

chicken pox. The governor's right. It's not 100 percent effective at preventing chickenpox. You get one shot and then you get another shot a few years later when you're 4 to 6 years old.

But when you do this, Brooke, not only are you protecting yourself, you're protecting other people around you and this is a point that you and I have talked about. The thing about vaccines that's different than any other medical procedure, because it's not just about you. It's a public health tool as well. You're providing this immunity. You're providing a buffer towards young children who haven't yet been vaccinated from getting sick. People who are older and you know, compromised. They may not have functioning immune systems from getting sick. So it's a collective sort of benefit, not just for the individual.

BALDWIN: Sanjay Gupta on chicken pox.

GUPTA: I got my kids vaccinated.

BALDWIN: I'm sure you did. I'm sure you did. By the way, can I just say I'm so excited for the series of you coming up?

GUPTA: Thank you, appreciate it.

BALDWIN: It's a CNN original series it's called "Chasing Life." We get to see a scruffy Sanjay.

GUPTA: Fully vaccinated.

BALDWIN: Fully vaccinated, Sanjay. It's all about secrets to living better. It starts Saturday night, April 13, 9 o'clock Eastern. Congratulations on that.

GUPTA: I'm excited, thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Sanjay, very much.

Coming up next, the White House forced to classify comments President Trump made about the battle against ISIS.

Plus I'll be joined live by a Syrian mother who was one of the last people to leave Aleppo. We will talk about this extraordinary documentary she made about raising her family in a war zone.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The Trump administration is walking back a claim President Trump made on ISIS while visiting an army tank plant in Lima, Ohio. He said this about a suicide attack in Syria that killed four Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: U.S. forces in the last month have killed the terrorists responsible for the attack in Syria that killed four Americans, the Paris theater attack in 2015 and the "USS Cole" bombing in 2000. We killed them all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That went a little too far, though. And not even five hours later a senior administration official issued this statement.

Saying quote, we have captured or killed terrorists with ties to the attack in Manbij that killed four brave Americans. We will continue to hunt ISIS, al-Qaeda and any of their associates who threaten the United States. End quote.

And while the last ISIS strong holds in Syria are certainly shrinking a new documentary shows what life is like in the war-torn country. "For Sama" tells the story of one woman as she falls in love, gets married and raises the family in Aleppo. All the while, bombs and air strikes are a daily reminder of the realities of war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAAD AL-KATEAB (voice-over): Your dad can't leave the hospital. So we live here now.

This is our room. Behind those pictures are sandbags to protect from shooting.

(on camera): Yes, I'm coming.

(voice-over): We do our best to making it feel like home.

(SOUND OF GUNFIRE)

(on camera): Is it starting again?

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Waad al-Kateab is the woman you just saw in that clip. She also is the filmmaker and director for "For Sama, Edward Watts is also the film's director. So welcome to both welcome to both of you and thank you so much for being with me. And a huge congratulations on winning best documentary at Southwest By Southwest. So, thank you

EDWARD WATTS, DIRECTOR, "FOR SAMA": Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Waad, if I may just start with you. I mean that scene, with your child, you are a family at war. Why did you make the choice to pick up a camera and film this?

WAAD AL-KATEAB, DIRECTOR AND FILMMAKER, "FOR SAMA": Actually, there was no choice for this. I was like just a Syrian woman who dreamt to be in a free country to change her life and the whole Syrian life to the best -- to better than what we lived before. And like in 2011 when the revolution started, I just picked up my phone. And it wasn't allowed for us also to have camera. It was just like each activist or like normal people, just catch anything in their mobile phone, just to show the world that, yes, there is a revolution in Syria. While the Syrian regime was denying everything was happening. BALDWIN: And, Edward, to you, tell me about the first time you saw

any of her footage from her phone and tell me why you wanted to get involved.

WATTS: Yes. I mean, Waad and I the first time we met, we sat together for six days at a hotel in Istanbul with her youngest daughter, Timme, who was only 2 months at the time, going through this extraordinary collection of footage really. I mean, Waad had filmed everything, the most shocking scenes of war that I'd ever seen. But also incredibly personal and intimate moments with her children. Even just at home cooking a family meal. So it was extraordinary really.

All these hours, anyone's life over five years has a lot of stories in it but Waad's was just an epic tale. And for me, the most important thing is, Syria is one of the most important things that's happened in the world for generations. And so I just wanted to tell a story that tells the truth about the experience for ordinary Syrians like Waad and her family.

BALDWIN: And Waad, does your daughter remember any of what happened in Aleppo? How is she doing today?

AL-KATEAB: Actually she's like fine today. But as like I think and like I seen -- I've seen a lot of doctors would just like to understand how that's going to affect her and most of them said like it's very soon to know if she will react or really -- like if she can really know that if she's OK or not. So I don't know. I really just like trying to take care a lot about her and her other sister and just like try to understand how these things could like affect her for the future.

BALDWIN: We have been covering this war in Syria from the very beginning. But, you know, a lot of people just scroll on past, right? They just don't care perhaps as much as they should. And Edward, my question to you is, you know, this documentary will be in theaters in the U.S. this summer. What do you hope that, say, Americans take away from this film? Why do they need to see it?

WATTS: I'm so glad you asked that, because I really think that what Waad's footage -- what she's managed to capture -- is that Syrians are ordinary people, just like us basically. All of her scenes are recognizable. You can recognize her good friends, just as your neighbors. Waad herself, her aspirations for her future, for her family, have such universal human instincts. And I think the people in America and here in the U.K. have always been told about the Syrian conflict through the prism of terrorism. And I think what they learn by seeing this film is that it wasn't about terrorists fighting the Syrian government, it was actually ordinary people fighting for their freedom. Which is a principle that all of us share and that humanity is something that we share as well with the people who lived in Aleppo.

BALDWIN: The film is called "For Sama."

AL-KATEAB: I'd just like --

BALDWIN: Please, Waad, close us out. What you want people to know?

AL-KATEAB: I really like when ISIS like started, like all the people was gathering together just to fight this serious problem. Well you know, like the Assad regime is still in his palace, like until now. With now like the eighth year of the revolution. It's not a civil war, like the Russian and the Iranian, and the allies of Assad still fighting like Syrian people. So I really want people to act with the Assad regime as they act with ISIS. You know, they don't really care what the Assad regime did with his people. They really cared just about ISIS. So it's both very serious problems in Syria and they fight al-Assad as they fight ISIS.

BALDWIN: This is why I wanted to have this conversation. We should not turn away.

[15:55:00] Waad, thank you for sharing your story and, Edward, thank you for helping her tell it. Appreciate both of you.

WATTS: Thank you so much.

AL-KATEAB: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: And again, this film "For Sama". Thank you.

He is one of the key figures in the entire special counsel investigation and, moments ago, the fired FBI director James Comey just revealed what he wants to see from this Mueller report. Stand by for those details.

And the pressure is mounting on Boeing as the federal government is issuing subpoenas in a criminal investigation after those two deadly crashes involving that Max 8 jet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Pressure mounts on Boeing as sources tell CNN that the feds have issued subpoenas as part of a criminal investigation into the company's 737 Max planes. Two of those jets crashed in the past six months, killing hundreds.

[16:00:00]