Return to Transcripts main page


Pelosi Getting Under Trump's Skin?; Howard Stern Speaks Out on Trump; Republican Congressman Blocks Disaster Aid Bill; Trump Sending 1,500 Troops to Middle East to Counter Iran. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: But at the briefing we had here at the Pentagon a short time ago, top officials were adamant that they see Iranian forces engaging in activities that they consider are very aggressive.

And they see that chatter, that intercepted conversation, between Iranian officials all very much aimed, they say, at possibly planning an attack against U.S. forces in the region -- Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: So, they say the intel is there. We don't know exactly what that is.

And they aren't exactly coming out and trying to explain this move to the American people. What do you make of the timing, given it is Memorial Day weekend? They're not even putting somebody out on camera.

STARR: Well, this is part of what goes on behind the scenes at the Pentagon then, you know, as I like to say, time to rip the Band-Aid off.

At first, they were just going to have officials brief on background, with not even a name attached to it. Then they said, well, you can use their names, a top civilian official here, a top military official here at the Pentagon.

But nobody's been on camera with these types of news briefings in months now at the Pentagon. And, you know, it's part of the politics here in Washington. They're always concerned, if they do a briefing, that across the river at the White House, the president will be saying something else entirely.

That's no secret around the Pentagon. That's how they feel about it. And they're very much in the mode of staying out of the public eye. But, as you say, this is Memorial Day weekend, military families getting the news that some of their loved ones once again will be deploying to the Middle East perhaps into harm's way.

A lot of people wonder why the administration is not coming out more publicly, beyond, of course, President Trump's remarks you saw on the lawn of the White House a short time ago.

CABRERA: OK, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

President Trump is now on his way to Japan for a three-day visit expected to focus on trade and security. But it's now a three-day and increasingly personal feud with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that's clearly at the top of his mind.

The president used his Twitter timeline to share an edited video of Pelosi last night with the caption, "Pelosi stammers through news conference."

The clip was part on the FOX Business Network, where panelists actually debated the House speaker's health and competence based on this manipulated footage.

Earlier today, the president stood by his tweet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you say a personal attack, did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her? Did you hear? She made horrible statements. She knows they're not true. She made -- she said terrible things. So I just responded in kind.


CABRERA: That's not the only edited video. There's another one from Pelosi's appearance shortly after that contentious White House infrastructure meeting. That's making the rounds of social media as well.

We want to show you that altered clip next to the real unedited clip. You can see the altered one on the right. And you can see it's been slowed down. Here it is.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): And then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.

And then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.


CABRERA: So that second clip, the doctored clip, was posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics Watchdog. It was retweeted by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani later deleted the tweet, while saying, if Pelosi wants an apology, she should first offer one to the president for saying he needs an intervention.

And that second video has now been removed from YouTube, which says it violates company policies. But, at Facebook, it's a different story. Brian Fung is a CNN tech reporter.

Brian, why hasn't Facebook taken this down?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Well, Facebook says it has no policy requiring the content that people post on Facebook be true.

It does say that it has independent fact-checkers verify whether or not particular pieces of content may be misleading or false. And, in fact, two fact-checkers, PolitiFact and a site called Lead Stories, both said that this video is false and misleading.

And based on that, Facebook has now demoted that video, saying that, you know, this video will now be less visible to Facebook users on the Facebook news feed.

CABRERA: So, demoted the video, what exactly does that mean?

FUNG: It means simply the video will come up less often in people's news feeds, but that video will still exist on Facebook's platform because it doesn't violate Facebook's policies.

CABRERA: OK. We know it's been seen millions of times. It's already gone viral. It's already in the bloodstream.

Brian Fung, I appreciate that reporting. Thanks for being here.

Gloria Borger is CNN's chief political analyst. Rick Wilson is a Republican strategist.

Guys, we have seen what's played out in the past three days. Gloria, it's almost as if Pelosi laid a trap, and Trump is falling right into it. He took the bait.



Look, he can't help himself. As he likes to say about himself, you know, I'm a counterpuncher. And there's no doubt about it that Nancy Pelosi gets under his skin. She said his family ought to do an intervention and that she prays for him. And, of course, she did this all more in sorrow than in anger, which gets him even angrier.

And so he decides to go into the Rose Garden, forgetting the fact that he's actually the president of the United States, and starts attacking her. And I would argue, if you look back to 2016 and the language he used about Hillary Clinton, how Hillary Clinton was unstable, how she couldn't cope with the world coming at her, it was the same kind of things that he was saying about Nancy Pelosi.

He said she's disintegrating in front of us. So I don't know if this is -- these are just terminologies he uses about women, or whether he just looks at Nancy Pelosi, you know, as somebody who is an antagonist in a way that Hillary Clinton was. CABRERA: Initially, it was just words, but now we have these two

videos to make Nancy Pelosi look bad, as if she can't speak coherently.

Rick, we just heard Gloria mention that this is somewhat a reflection of what we have already seen. You say this is a preview of what's to come.


Yes. I agree with Gloria completely. I think she's very much on point there about how the psychology of Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump worked out this week.

But I think that we need to prepare for a flood of fake videos, fake news, doctored photographs, doctored documents, because those things now can be put into the nerve system of the American political culture through Donald Trump's 60 million people that follow him on Twitter religiously, and they will believe the crazy.

And it's the old joke about, you know, the lie is around the world before the truth gets its boots on. We're going to see that now amplified digitally in the 2020 election. I think we need to be very much prepared for that.

And this sort of thing that goes out through Rudy's Twitter feed, and then Donald Trump retweets it, this is not a mistake. This is a deliberate strategy. They have embraced this as a deliberate strategy.

And I try not to use the word propaganda too loosely, but it is, in fact, propaganda. It is a distorted version of the truth. And I think people need to be very mindful of that in 2020.

CABRERA: So, shouldn't Republicans be refuting this then? Doesn't it cross a line for political discourse?

WILSON: Are you new here?


WILSON: They're not going to do anything.

CABRERA: But what's your opinion? What's your opinion? Should they be?

WILSON: Of course.

CABRERA: I mean, this is -- opens up a new can of worms, right?


WILSON: Absolutely. They should be out there condemning this, because it is a way to degrade our politics and reduce our trust in public institutions and reduce our trust in one another. And, you know, we used to have political fights in this country that were about ideology and about issues. And now they're about the fundamental nature of truth. And that's a really bad place for us to be as a political culture.

CABRERA: I want to hammer home here, Gloria, that there are a lot of people out there, particularly in Trump's base, that will fall for this doctored video. They will think it's real. What do you see as the impact?

BORGER: Well, look, I think it's already had its impact in many ways. We're talking about it, aren't we?

What we did at the beginning of the segment was great, because we showed what the reality was then we showed what the doctored video was.

But, look, I think the damage is done. I don't think this convinces voters one way or another. I think people who don't like Nancy Pelosi are going to be inclined to believe this. If they like Donald Trump more than Nancy Pelosi, they will be inclined to believe this. And people who don't will feel the other way.

So, it's not as if it's going to change anyone's mind. But I do think that what Trump was doing by retweeting this was sort of just putting it out there in the ether to allow people to kind of say, hmm, and then, even if it gets taken back, it doesn't -- it really doesn't matter. He's already appealed to his base, if they're inclined to believe it.

I -- no one's going to -- no one's going to change their mind on this. But it's -- you know, as Rick says, it's just the kind of obnoxious politics that we have gotten used to.

CABRERA: Well, the feud escalated to a different level than we have seen before. Pelosi clearly got under his skin...

BORGER: Right.

CABRERA: ... this week.


BORGER: And she wanted to, by the way.


CABRERA: I want to show the before and after of how this all played out real fast.


PELOSI: The president again stormed out, and I think what -- first pound the table, walk out the door. What? Next time, have the TV cameras in there while I have my say. That didn't work for him either. And now, this time, another temper tantrum.

Again, I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.


TRUMP: Kellyanne, what was my temperament yesterday?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Very calm, no temper tantrum.

TRUMP: What was my attitude when I walked in? Did I ever scream?


TRUMP: What was my attitude yesterday at the meeting?

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Mercy is right. Kellyanne is right. You were very calm.

TRUMP: What was my tone yesterday at the meeting?



HUCKABEE SANDERS: And this was definitely not angry or ranting.


CABRERA: So, I guess he didn't like the temper tantrum portion of the Nancy Pelosi sound bites that we just played.

Rick, this week began with divisions in the Democratic Party over impeachment, devolved into this war of words between the speaker and the president.

WILSON: Well, that lineup of people who saying he was calm and collected reminds me of those guys that used to stand up in the hearings in the Iraqi Parliament and say, Saddam is the most glorious leader.

Yes, that's very staged and very -- and very odd.

But, look, she got under him this week. She's wrecked him this week in ways that, coincidentally, also happened while he's losing battle after battle in court. So, the tension is very high right now. And the stakes are getting higher right now.

And she is clearly playing this out in a way that prevents a lot of the "Let's impeach him tomorrow" crowd from having a full-on rebellion. CABRERA: Gloria, what was this new order to declassify intelligence

involved in the origins of the Russia investigation? The president says it's about transparency. Is that what it's about?

BORGER: No, it's not about transparency. It's about trying to politicize intelligence, weaponize intelligence, as Adam Schiff called it.

It's about telling the attorney general, do whatever you have to do, put it all out there. I want to prove my point by investigating the investigators. People need to know that this was an irregular and probably illegal investigation.

I think the question that's out there is, be careful what you wish for. Number one, it may not turn out to be that way, that you could very well have had an intelligence community that saw something staring them in the face, which was communications, substantial communications between members of the Trump campaign and Russians, and they would have been derelict if they did not investigate that.

And so it could be, if you have faith, that, perhaps, that is what the inspector general will find and, perhaps, that is what the attorney general will find.

The other problem you're going to have here, quite frankly, is that there is a danger of revealing sources and methods. You know, the president said today, you know, I want you to look at what the U.K. was doing, what Australia was doing.

So the people we share intelligence with, are they going to want to cooperate with us in the future if the veil can be lifted on their intelligence work? I don't think so.

So I think it's a very, very dangerous path. And everybody just has to hope that Barr understands that, which I presume that he does, and would not declassify anything that would affect any of these relationships.

CABRERA: All right. Gloria Borger, Rick Wilson, good to have both of you with us.


CABRERA: And I'm glad you got the royal blue memo on this Friday.


CABRERA: Should have been red, white, and blue...


BORGER: But it's actually purple.


CABRERA: ... if we had organized. (LAUGHTER)

CABRERA: All right. Thanks, guys.

Well, the one thing Democrats and Republicans were able to agree on before this long weekend was a clean bill to fund $19 billion in disaster relief -- that is, until one lone GOP congressman stopped it from going forward. We're live on Capitol Hill to explain why.

Plus, Howard Stern says he thinks President Trump's entire campaign was a publicity stunt -- that revealing CNN interview just ahead.

And, right now, the man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Jayme Closs is in court to find out his sentence. You will hear her emotional statement for the judge.



CABRERA: Well, we were almost set to get a clean bipartisan bill today to bring billions in disaster relief to communities all across the U.S. hit by floods, hurricanes, and other disasters over the past three years.

But a lone House Republican, Chip Roy of Texas, blocked what would have been a unanimous vote for the funding. So, it kicks it down the road.

His reason, in part, the clean bill does not include extra money for border security.

CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us on Capitol Hill.

Phil, this bill has broad bipartisan backing. How did one guy stop it?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will spare you from the in-the-weeds congressional procedure.

But the short answer is, this deal was reached in the United States yesterday, Republicans and Democrats. The president signed off as well. But when the deal was reached, the House had already left for their Memorial Day recess, most lawmakers already out of town.

So, the only way they could clear it for the president's signature is to try and do something unanimously, which meant, if one member objected, the bill would be stalled, at least for this moment in time.

And one member, Congressman Chip Roy from Texas, a conservative member of Congress, who noted problems with this bill throughout the course of the last couple of months, did object.


This was his rationale. Take a listen.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I tell them that the Democrats who have been fiddling for eight months playing politics, instead of getting done what they should have gotten done, which is putting forward a fiscally responsible bill that doesn't rack up debt, that deals with the border and deals with the issues in the communities affected by disaster, we could have gotten this done six months ago.


MATTINGLY: So, Ana, to kind of give you the background here, this bill has been a mess now for a number of months.

And, traditionally, disaster relief bills, given the proximity to certain lawmakers, to the need for people to actually get the assistance, move pretty quickly in Congress, obviously, fiscal conservatives never huge fans of them, but generally have lodged by bipartisan support.

And the Senate vote yesterday was overwhelming, 85 senators voting in favor of something -- at this point, you rarely get 85 senators to vote in favor of anything at the same time -- and getting the president, who had some major issues on the Puerto Rico side of things, funding for relief there, and also some issues with the fact that it did not include any of the $4.5 billion disaster -- or emergency request for immigration, was willing to sign off on it.

But, at least for the moment in time, it will be delayed, probably for about a week, maybe two. And I think the big question now is, this was certainly within Chip Roy, the congressman's rights. He's certainly capable and willing to do this because of the way it was presented with the House leaving town.

But, given the state of play, whether it's Florida, whether it's Puerto Rico, wildfires in California, flooding in the Midwest, down in the South, and the number of senators and representatives, not just Democrats, bipartisan Republicans as well, that have been working on this, stressing that people really needed this money now, will the delay have an effect or will it hurt those individuals anymore?

Again, the congressman made very clear what his issues were, what his objections were to, and the fact that he just thought people should have an up-or-down vote.

I will note that, when the House does come back, when the House does have a final vote on this, the expectation is they could get as many as 400 of their 435 members to vote for it. Passing is not in question. When it passes is.

CABRERA: And we still also have to wonder, though, whether this will change anybody else's minds about whether they do support this bill, given all the drama that's played out just getting to this point.

And, here, you thought you had this moment where it's going to happen, and then it got derailed.

Phil Mattingly, we appreciate your play-by-play. Thanks so much.

Up next: Howard Stern reveals why he didn't endorse President Trump before the 2016 election, despite their longtime friendship. That revealing CNN interview is just ahead.


HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Gosh, you know, for about a split-second, I went, can you imagine if I was all in? I would be the head of the FCC. I could be -- the Supreme Court -- I could be on the Supreme Court. I think Donald would give me anything I would ask.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You really believe that?

STERN: Oh, I believe it, friend, 100 percent.




CABRERA: In a new interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, legendary shock jock Howard Stern reveals inside information on why he thinks President Trump launched a campaign in the first place and why Stern says Trump doesn't like the role of commander in chief.


COOPER: As an interviewer, I have noticed this just when I used to interview him.

He was very susceptible to flattery. And I noticed this. In your interviews with him, you would throw out something like your poll numbers, you know, I have never seen anything like this. And...

STERN: Well, it's a definite technique.

COOPER: It washes over him.

STERN: Notice, I call him in every interview, Mr. Trump. Now, this is before he was president, Mr. Trump.

COOPER: That's intentional?

STERN: Oh, absolutely. Someone had asked me, said, "Why do you call him Mr. Trump?" I said, because it loosens him up. He feels respected. He feels good about himself. Now he's going to roll. He's going to open up to me.

COOPER: When you see him now in the White House as president, what do you see?

STERN: Well, first of all, it's unbelievable to me. And I have documented my thoughts about how this whole candidacy even came about.

This was a publicity stunt. I happened to have...

COOPER: You have no doubt about that?

STERN: I have no doubt, because I have some inside information.

And the thing is that it started out with "The Art of the Deal," the book. And it was, you know, a P.R. guy's idea. He said, "Donald, what you need to do is, we'll make a sort of a rumor that you're running for president."

And Donald is like, oh. So, all of the sudden, he was being interviewed. The book goes right to number one.

And then this time around in the last election, "The Apprentice" ratings were not what they were. NBC was not going to give him a raise. And what's a better way than to get NBC's interest? I will run for president and I will get lots of press. And I think that's what happened.

COOPER: Do you think he likes being president?

STERN: I don't think he likes being president at all. I think he liked winning the presidency. He likes to win.

And, again, I'm not Donald Trump's psychotherapist, and I had many good laughs with Donald.

And, in some ways, I feel that it has been wrong the way they used my transcripts in a way to frame him. And I will give you an example. When he said the line about STDs being his Vietnam, that was a very jokey thing on my show.

If you went back and listen to the tape, you would not take that seriously. He was in the spirit of the program. And then he was -- you know, they tried to use that against him. Hey, he's being -- how dare he compare himself to a veteran of the Vietnam War who served, when he didn't serve.?

All right, everybody, take a deep breath and relax.

COOPER: He asked you to speak at the RNC. I think...


COOPER: I had no idea about that.

STERN: He used to call me from the campaign trail. And I think he was really desirous of my endorsement.

So, when the -- when he secured the nomination, and now he was thinking about the convention, I think he wanted some showbiz there. He picked up the phone, and he called me personally.

And I was like, oh, gosh. [15:30:00]