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The Making of North Korea's Kim Jong-un; All Eyes on Pivotal Federal Reserve Meeting; Democrats Block Trump's Plans to Redesign Air Force One; Mnuchin's Controversial Wife Gives Interview to Rehab Image. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 16, 2019 - 18:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for joining us, and Happy Fathers Day. Before he became president, Donald Trump was renowned for his reality show mantra "You're Fired". Now, those words are getting a reboot. The Trump campaign says it will fire several of its own pollsters after their unflattering data got leaked to media outlets. The numbers showed the president lagging behind other presidential candidates in some key states.

There's a new Fox News poll showing much the same. It shows that the election, if it were held today, President Trump would lose to Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg by varying degrees. CNN White House Correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is with us. Boris, sources say Trump has become fixated on the numbers in recent days, asking for regular updates or new polls. He can fire the pollsters for the leaks, but it still doesn't change the numbers, right?

BORIS SANCHEZ: CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. Talk about killing the messenger. The president can fire whatever pollster he wants. The numbers still don't look good. In fact, one campaign official lamented to CNN that they wish the president would spend more time focusing on those numbers and less time focusing on these leaks. There's actually another poll out there that the president may not be too happy about, this one from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News. Take a look. It shows that the percentage of people who believe that Congress has enough evidence to begin impeachment proceedings jumped about 10 percent in one month.

Despite that, the president has maintained that he did nothing impeachable, and he's also indulging in a bit of revisionist history. He talked to ABC News about some of his reasoning for not trying to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Robert Mueller had a total conflicting interest -

UNIDENTIFED MALE: And has to go. TRUMP: I never - I didn't say that. If I - look, Article 2, I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller. There was not - assuming I did all of the things I said I want to fire him, number one, I didn't. He wasn't fired. OK, number one very importantly, but more importantly Article 2 allows me to do whatever I want. Article 2 would have allowed me to fire him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it sounds like you -

TRUMP: But I wasn't going to fire. You know why? Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody and that didn't work out too well. So very simply, Article 2 would allow me to do it.


SANCHEZ: Vital to point out, Ana, that in the Mueller Report, Mueller outlines at least 10 occasions where the president tried to interfere or intervene in the Russia investigation specifically, most glaringly one occasion where he told former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, flat out to fire Robert Mueller. McGahn threatened to quit and the president relented. Ultimately, though, that account is coming directly from Don McGahn, the former White House Counsel, someone who repeatedly tried to protect this president even though the president now is essentially saying that that account is false, Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thanks. With us now, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein, and CNN Political Analyst and Politics Editor for The New York Times, Patrick Healy. Ron, first on this news that the Trump campaign is firing multiple pollsters. Would that still happen if the leaked numbers had said Trump would win in a landslide?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a really good question. You know, it might have been on speed dial for the press. Look, I mean, campaigns don't like leaks, but the president is looking at numbers that are quite consistent. You know, it's a long way away, Ana, and head-to-head match ups this far out are of limited predictive value, so it's certainly reasonable for the campaign to say that.

Here's what is important, though, which is if you look at both these private polls that have been released from the Trump campaign and you look at the public polls like the Fox poll, like the Quinnipiac poll that just came out, the relationship between the president's approval rating and his share of the vote against anybody is very strong. The idea that there is some vast army of voters out there who disapprove of the way the president is handling his job but are ready to vote for him anyway because they think the democrats are going to be worse, that is a really hard argument to square with what we are seeing. He is struggling to get his support in the head-to-heads above the low 40s which is where his approval rating is, and I think that reminds us that the president's approval rating is the key variable to keep an eye on, and of course this is the first president in the history in the Gallup poll to go this far into his presidency without ever reaching 50 percent support from the American people. CABRERA: In terms of other polls, the president may not be a fan of, let's look at the latest numbers from Fox News. Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden, has a 10 point lead right now over Trump in a hypothetical match up. 49 percent of voters surveyed chose Biden, 39 percent chose Trump, and Trump is trailing Bernie Sanders as well by 9 percent in a hypothetical head-to-head - 49 percent for Sanders, 40 percent for Trump. Patrick, when Trump holds his 2020 campaign rally to relaunch this new campaign, do you think he's going to go after Biden and Sanders the hardest?


PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he'll go after Biden particularly and he'll go after Sanders with sort of the socialist message that he has been pushing on the democratic party broadly, but the reality is these poll numbers are going to be in his head. This was a candidate throughout 2015, throughout 2016, every time myself, other reporters would get on the phone with him the first thing he would always bring up was how he was doing in the polls. You wouldn't even be - that wouldn't even be the point of the interview conversation. He would just bring up polling. These are the sort of the data points that he believes very much sort of drive his own sense of strategy, his own sense of strength in these states.

And so, I think you're going to see on Tuesday night at this rally particularly Biden, you know, worrying him in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And he hasn't figured out really a way to go up against Biden yet. He thinks he has the socialism argument against Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that will unsettle voters, but with Biden he's still - he's still leaning very hard into the silly nicknames, sort of the stuff that we've seen before on him, but he hasn't figured out a way really to prosecute and argument. So probably some - throwing some mud against the wall and seeing what sticks.

CABRERA: We have heard at least a taste of how the president could go after some of these opponents. Let's listen.


TRUMP: Joe Biden does not have what it takes, OK? He doesn't have what it takes. Everybody knows it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that - what does that mean?

TRUMP: You watch him. If you - it means mental capacity, it means a lot of different things. Now, I see that Pocahontas is doing better. I would love to run against her frankly. I see that Bernie Sanders is not doing well at all. I would have frankly liked to have run against - I think it's probably those three.


CABRERA: Ron, who do you think is Trump's biggest threat?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they're in different ways. I mean, different candidates offer different pathways to beating him. Biden is the most obvious threat because Trump won the presidency by toppling three of the blue wall states by a combined 80,000 votes - Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania - and Biden is seen as the best - I think by most democrats, as the best capable of competing of the blue collar white voters who tip those states. In fact, in the Fox poll today he was only trailing the president by four points among non-college white women who went for the president by 20 points or more in 2016 depending on which poll you take.

I would just say that whatever - just to underscore the point I made in the first question - whatever argument the president makes against whichever opponent, the real lesson of the polling that we're seeing is that he has a limited capacity to take people who disapprove of the way he is handling his performance and convince them to vote for him anyway because the democrat is so much work. I think the - worse. The evidence of history suggests that. The evidence of the polling in 2019 suggests that. Ultimately if he cannot improve his own approval rating above the low 40s where it has been, particularly in some of these states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, it is going to be tough for him no matter who the democratic nominee. Doesn't mean he can't get to 270. Doesn't mean that he can't squeeze out the electoral college, but it's just a reminder that it's very difficult for any incumbent president to move millions of voters on the argument that you may not like me, but the devil you don't know is worse.

CABRERA: Patrick, amid these poll numbers and the impeachment talk in Washington, the president was asked whether he is worried about being prosecuted after he leaves office. Here's what he said to ABC News.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: You're not worried about being prosecuted once you leave office?

TRUMP: I did nothing wrong, George. Did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. You don't even hear Russia mentioned anymore. Russia's not mentioned. Now it's all about obstruction. Obstruction of what? They built up a phony crime, they hired a man that hated Trump. He hired 18 people that were democrats that hated Trump, some of the contributed to Clinton's campaign, a couple of them worked for Clinton. I mean, what kind of a rigged deal is this? And then on top of it after two years and after being the most transparent in history I gave them 1.5 million pages of documents, right? I gave them 400 or 500 witnesses. I let Don McGahn testify. I let him - he was the White House Counsel.


CABRERA: So Patrick, he says he's not worried, but do you think it's in the back of his mind as he's getting ready to formally launch his reelection campaign?

HEALY: Yes, throughout President Trump's career over decades, he relied on lawyers from Roy Cohn to Michael Cohen to basically walk him through how to get - how to protect himself from any kind of prosecution. These things were always on his mind and the degree to which he could push the limits in business, in business, in politics, now in government be a disruptive force, not pay attention to the norms even if they might be written into the constitution. This is someone who has often times relied on lawyers to, you know, essentially get him out of things. It's why the appointment of Robert Mueller unsettled him so much because he thought that the Justice Department would protect him sort of no matter what after the campaign. So I think, yes.


I mean, even though he couldn't - he didn't give George Stephanopoulos a direct answer to that question, he reverted to his talking points that he uses on Twitter over and over and over again, but the reality is is that when he leaves - you know, when he leaves office whether it's in 2021 or 2025, the reality is there is a lot still hanging out there and that at least from his point of view it's the lawyers who will - who will need to protect him.

CABRERA: And Ron, let me ask you the final question as we get ready to see Trump launch his bid on - in Florida on Tuesday. What will you be listening for?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, normally you would say how is - for a president seeking reelection, how is he reaching out to voters beyond those who supported him in the first place? I mean, that would be kind of the normal thing you expect. There's no sign from the two and a half years of the presidency that that will be. I think we're going to see what we have seen before which is a candidacy that doubled down - doubles down on motivating his base even at the price of doing and saying things that alienate swing voters who are otherwise satisfied with the economy.

I wrote a piece this week on it that in both parties people are expecting possibly the biggest turnout in 2020 since 1908, somewhere between 155 million and 160 million, maybe two-thirds of eligible voters. And in that world you have to ask is motivating the base enough if you are driving away the kind of voters who basically put democrats in the majority in the House? So normally I'd say I'd be looking for a president who's trying to talk to people who he hasn't convinced to this point. I think he will be more than likely putting more coal in the engine of trying to stoke his base.

CABRERA: All right, Ron Brownstein, Patrick Healy, thanks gentlemen. Happy Father's Day to both of you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: It's been called the escalator ride that changed America. On this day four years ago, Donald Trump launched his bid for the presidency. New reporting now about the feeling in that room when this happened and what lessons it may offer for the 2020 race.


[18:15:00] CABRERA: Today marks exactly four years since Donald Trump announced he was running for president despite no political experience whatsoever. Who could forget this escalator ride? Politico Magazine certainly can't. The publication calls it the escalator ride that changed America. It writes, "four years ago Donald Trump stepped onto an escalator in the atrium of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York and began descending into a lobby packed with cameras. It's safe to say the 10 or seconds that followed are the most consequential escalator ride in American history. Soon after that ride came a moment so outrageous critics thought Trump's campaign was doomed before it even got off the ground.


TRUMP: They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some I assume are good people.


CABRERA: Trump went on to defy the odds and win the presidency, but to the reporters there covering his campaign launch, that was far from what they expected. Reporter Gary Lagoon (ph) tells Politico, quote, "I was thinking this will be something goofy and funny to cover and in a year nobody will remember Donald Trump ran for president." So let me bring in our Senior Political Writer and Analyst Harry Enten so we can just talk about how we ended up from there to hear, Harry. And, you know, it's interesting is the current political race is exactly where we were at when Trump jumped in, so what did the polls say then about Trump?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, they said that he had no chance in heck and I remember writing so many articles with so many different titles that I wish I could go back in time and change. He was only at 2 percent in the national average of polls at this particular point in his campaign, and obviously he was able to go to win the nomination. It started with that escalator ride down and then the speech that he gave.

CABRERA: So you're saying there's a chance for a lot of these democrats that really aren't polling very well right now?

ENTEN: I would certainly not close my eyes and ears to the possibility, and Donald Trump's not the only one who started off so low and was able to go on and win the nomination. Jimmy Carter did the exact same thing in 1900 and '76 for example. So it is early days yet, but I should point out that it's no so early, right? Normally the polling leader at this particular point even if the don't win they do particularly well. Obviously last time was an exception to that, but still, it's early days.

CABRERA: OK, so we're anticipating the first debates of this season coming up at the end of the month, and let's take a look back at President Trump and how he handled the candidates and the questions during those debates.

ENTEN: Sure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a principal and I'll tell you -

TRUMP: You are the single biggest liar. You probably are worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: Oh, I know you're a tough guy, Jeb (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're never going to be President of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: You're really tough, Jeb (ph). Well, let's see. I'm at 42 and you're at 3.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 40 years you've been funding liberal democratic politicians.

TRUMP: I funded you. I funded him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason - you're welcome to have the check back because -

TRUMP: Can you believe it? I funded this guy? I never attacked him on his look. And believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there. He refer to my hands of their small (ph). Something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee.


CABRERA: Wow, I forgot about some of those moments.

ENTEN: Wow, my goodness.

CABRERA: The guy knows how to play to an audience, doesn't he?

ENTEN: Oh, I don't know if there's anybody else who does better.

CABRERA: How big of a factor do you think his debate performances were?

ENTEN: You know, we can look at where he was before the debates. He was at about 25 percent in the polls and obviously he went on to win the nomination. It is certainly the case in my mind did not hurt his chance of winning despite so many people such as myself. I remember I wrote an article is the second debate the end of Donald Trump's campaign? Boy, how foolish I look now and looked then. I would say that those debates were certainly something that got Trump in the eyes and ears of the American public, and one of the things he was able to do was corral that media attention and hold onto it. And we saw him in those rallies over and over and over again, the clips from the debates over and over and over again. I guess my question is is there going to be any democrat this time around who will be able to have one of those debate moments or multiple debate moments so that they could dominate the cable news spectrum?

CABRERA: We'll be watching for that. Let's go back to Iowa for a moment because it holds, of course, the very first caucuses and very important state to win. You've poured through the decades Iowa polling and you came out with a piece this week essentially saying the verdict's still out. There's no clear front runner there right now, right?

ENTEN: There is no clear front runner. I mean, Joe Biden in our poll that we released last weekend was at 24 percent, and that probably gives him a one in third chance of winning the Iowa caucuses, but that means there's a two-thirds chance that he doesn't win it.


I mean, if you really want to be in a position where the leader is almost certain, when you got to be well above 35 percent, and simply put it this way, we have a leader at 24 then a bunch of people 15 or there and about, and then we have the slew of people who are at 0 or 1 percent. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those candidates at least becomes a contender if not win the Iowa caucuses given how many there are at this particular point down at that level and how long we have to go.

CABRERA: It's a reason for us all to keep watching, keep covering.

ENTEN: We got to keep watching, watching, watching, watching, watching.

CABRERA: Stay focused. We got a few more months, but we'll be there for all of you. Thank you, Harry Enten. Good to see you.

ENTEN: Nice to see you.

CABRERA: Coming up, the Twitter world gets a taste of O.J. Simpson.


New developments of the shooting of Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz. Authorities say they are getting closer to arresting the person who ordered the hit. 10 people are now in custody including this man who turned himself in late last week and goes by the nickname El Hueso, aka The Bone. Now officials believe the suspects were paid nearly $8,000 to carry out the hit, although the alleged gunman says Ortiz was not the intended target. Ortiz, who was shot in the back at point black range, is recovering at a Boston hospital.

Vowing to set the record straight and get even, O.J. Simpson is now officially on Twitter and he apparently wants to get some things off his chest. Watch.



O.J. SIMPSON: Hey Twitter world. This is yours truly. Now coming soon to Twitter you'll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there's a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there, so this one @therealoj32 is the only official one, so this should be a lot of fun. I got a little getting even to do. So God Bless, take care.


CABRERA: Simpson's rather odd social media debut came 25 years to the week after his ex-wide, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found murdered. Our Stephanie Elam takes a look back at the crime and the trial of the century.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A witness discovered the body of Nicole Brown Simpson.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 25 years ago, O.J. Simpson's ex- wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman were savagely killed in a knife attack. Simpson would become the prime suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Simpson is a fugitive of justice right now.

ELAM: Days after the murder, Simpson driven by friend al Cowlings lead police on the slow speed case broadcasted around the world.

UNIDETNIFIED MALE: (inaudible) I have O.J. in the car.

ELAM: The white Bronco ride sparking reality television some critics say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I just saw O.J. Simpson on the 5 freeway. He's heading north.

ELAM: The country riveted by a manhunt for a national sports hero.

LARRY KING: Police radio is saying that Simpson, the passenger in the car has a gun at his head.

ELAM: Simpson's ensuing arrest. His criminal and civil trials full of unforgettable moments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely 100 percent not guilty.

ELAM: Courtroom theatrics were constant. Pop culture stars emerged including lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

JOHNNIE COCHRAN, LAWYER: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

ELAM: Known as the dream team, Simpson's lawyers persuaded the mostly black jury to acquit Simpson of all criminal charges in October 1995. The victim's families were crushed. But one year later, Simpson was back in court facing civil charges for the deaths of Goldman and Nicole. She had repeatedly accused Simpson of abuse. A mostly white jury found Simpson liable, ordering him to bay $33.5 million to the families of the murder victims in 1997. Simpson left the trials with huge debt, but free. He moved to Florida. He would get arrested again in 2007 after allegedly leading a violent raid on memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. Ironically 13 years to the day after being cleared of the murder, a jury convicted Simpson of armed robbery and kidnapping.

SIMPSON: So I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it.

ELAM: The apology rejected. He served nine years in prison and now lives in Las Vegas. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


CABRERA: Coming up, a dictator with manipulation in his DNA. A biographer reveals fascinating new details about the upbringing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.


[18:31:52] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: He's the leader of one of the most reclusive nations in the world. And although North Korea's interaction with the U.S. has changed dramatically since Donald Trump took office, there is a great deal of mystery surrounding Kim Jong-un.

Brian Todd talked with the author of a new book that pulls back the veil on this secretive ruler.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New indications that North Korea's violent young dictator is carefully calculating his approach to President Trump. A new letter from Kim Jong-un to the President, administration sources tell CNN, was a birthday greeting for Donald Trump wishing him good health.

But the letter contained no substance. No details on how to move the stalled nuclear talks forward. Still, administration officials tell CNN they view it as a, quote, reset, setting the tone for a possible third summit. And the President is predictably pleased.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un. I can't show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter. I appreciate it.

TODD (voice-over): An indication which a biographer of Kim Jong-un says shows that Kim knows what buttons to push with Donald Trump. An instinct developed through years of tutelage in the most cutthroat of dynasties.

ANNA FIFIELD, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT SUCCESSOR: THE DIVINELY PERFECT DESTINY OF BRILLIANT COMRADE KIM JONG UN": He was chosen by his father at the age of 8 years old. At his eighth birthday party, he was presented with this little general's uniform, an olive green uniform with epaulets and brass buttons. And he was called the little general, comrade general, and real generals came into his birthday party and saluted him and bowed to him. TODD (voice-over): How did Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, have that gut

instinct about his younger son? "Washington Post" reporter Anna Fifield, author of the new book, "The Great Successor," says the older Kim might have gotten that intuition a couple of years earlier.

Fifield writes that when he was only six, Kim Jong-un and his older brother, Kim Jong-chul -- little princes, they were called -- were introduced by their father to their new sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto. She writes, the older brother was polite, deferential to the chef but not Kim Jong-un.

FIFIELD: He stared down this 40-year-old man and, you know, almost dared him to say hello. He refused to shake his hand.

TODD (voice-over): Fifield, whose book is based on interviews with relatives and former aides to the Kim family, writes that Kim Jong-un wanted for nothing as a child -- huge playrooms filled with toys, a modified car he could drive at age 7, a Colt .45 pistol he wore when he was 11. Bears and monkeys were kept in cages on family compounds. But with all this, she says, there was also loneliness.

FIFIELD: They did bring other children into the compounds to play basketball with him, as what Fujimoto said. But these are kind of like friends for hire. He didn't have genuine relationships with people.

TODD (voice-over): Boarding school Switzerland followed where Kim is said to have trash talked on the basketball court.

JOAO MICAELO, FORMER CLASSMATE OF KIM JONG-UN: He didn't like to lose. Basketball, it was everything.

TODD (voice-over): Later, Kim Jong-un solidified his grip on power by using powerful people who could help him like his uncle, Jang Song- thaek, then purging or executing them. Analysts believe Kim has executed well over a hundred senior generals and officials since coming to power 7-1/2 years ago.

[18:35:03] TODD (on camera): Is he a psychopath?

FIFIELD: He is not a psychopath. He is brutal and, you know, he is a tyrant, but he is not psychopathic. He is not irrational. Like, he has approached this task in a very cold, kind of clinical, ruthless way.


TODD: I asked Anna Fifield what, if anything, could bring Kim Jong-un down. She says he's been so ruthless and calculating, she doesn't think he would be vulnerable to a coup. His biggest risk, she says, a heart attack brought on by his poor diet, chain-smoking, and drinking.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CABRERA: Thanks, Brian. Not taking off! Democrats cry foul after President Trump unveils

plans to change up Air Force One with a paint job that sure does look familiar. But first, your "Before the Bell" report with Christine Romans -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. It's all about the Federal Reserve. Two weeks ago, Fed Chair Jerome Powell sparked a rally when he opened the door to interest rate cuts. Now, investors will get a better picture of when those cuts might come. On Wednesday, the Fed meets. Chairman Powell also holds a news conference after that meeting.

Most investors do not expect the Central Bank to cut rates this time around, but at the next meeting in July, the odds have gone way up. Lingering trade tensions with China could force the Fed's hand. Investors are worried tariffs will slow the American economy, but President Trump is betting China will come around.


TRUMP: I think that we'll end up making a deal with China. We have a very good relationship, although it's a little bit testy right now as you would expect.


ROMANS: Investors will closely watch the G-20 meeting later this month. President Trump is expected to sit down with China's President, and there's hope for a trade breakthrough there. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.


[18:40:58] CABRERA: The President's plans for a patriotic redesign of Air Force One may not take off after all. Democrats have just added a provision to an annual defense policy bill that would put a stop to President Trump's project, which includes throwing out the plane's baby blue color scheme and replacing it with one that's red, white, and blue instead. CNN's Jeanne Moos has more on what Trump had been planning.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fasten your seat belt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Air Force One declaring emergency.

MOOS (voice-over): A makeover emergency. Now, the country is going to fight over what colors to paint Air Force One. ABC got the sneak peek.

TRUMP: There's your new Air Force One. And I'm doing that for other presidents, not for me.

MOOS (voice-over): The two new planes won't be ready until 2024. President Trump says the color scheme is his own red, white, and blue patriotic design. People started noticing it looks familiar. Sort of like his own plane but inverted. Someone helpfully turned the Trump plane upside down to make the point.

Others came up with their own designs. I like it, tweeted someone else. We are not a light blue country.

The current blue over robin's egg blue, where did that come from? Here's a hint. Do not touch Jackie Blue.

It's said that Jackie Kennedy preferred blue, working with one of the best-known industrial designers of the time who said JFK called blue his favorite color. Since then, it's become an iconic backdrop. What else will the revamped Air Force One feature?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Everyone wants to know, is there a pod or not?

TRUMP: A pod?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've seen the movie, "Air Force One"?


STEPHANOPOULOS: There's this pod that flies out of the back.

MOOS (voice-over): You know, when Harrison Ford, playing the president, is hustled into the pod as the plane comes under attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ramstein, this is Air Force One. Emergency pod has been deployed.


TRUMP: There are a couple of secrets. I don't think we're supposed to be talking about that.

MOOS (voice-over): When they opened the pod, Harrison Ford had stayed on the plane to fight the bad guys.

MOOS (on camera): But the President's design may not pass with flying colors. Not if Congressional Democrats have their way.

MOOS (voice-over): The House Armed Services Committee voted to limit changes to Air Force One without congressional approval, probably leaving President Trump fuming.

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: Get off my plane.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: Let's bring in the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and CNN's presidential historian, Tim Naftali.

Tim, first, your reaction to the President wanting to redesign Air Force One.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Mr. Trump, before he was President Trump, liked to put his "T" everywhere. He was a brander. He thought it was important. He wanted the name "Trump" wherever it could be, and it's not a surprise to me that he wants everyone to know that it will be his colors that will be on the delivery of future Air Force One. So it's very Trump-esque to do this.

CABRERA: It doesn't matter, though.

NAFTALI: Well, you know, the American president has a lot of power, and this president is using every ounce of the power that he has. In 1961, John F. Kennedy didn't like the colors that the Air Force had selected for the 707, the Boeing jet that he was using. In that era, Air Force One was just whatever the President was flying, and sometimes he flew a prop plane. The President didn't like the colors.

And what's ironic about the Trump colors is some of them are the same as the colors that JFK rejected.

CABRERA: Oh, yes?

NAFTALI: The Air Force wanted a lot of red on the front. They wanted red to be prominent. John F. Kennedy preferred blue. And so when the 707 was redesigned in 1962, it had what we call now Jackie Blue. So what Donald Trump is doing is a little bit reversing -- going back to the colors that JFK had rejected in 1961.

CABRERA: Well, the President also made an interesting comparison along those same lines earlier this week in this interview with ABC News, so let's listen to what he said. This is Fox News, excuse me.


[18:45:05] TRUMP (via telephone): We have our own Jackie O. today. It's called Melania. Melania. We'll call it Melania T.


CABRERA: O.K. So he's comparing Melania to Jackie O. What similarities do you see between the two?

NAFTALI: Well, let's keep in mind that she wasn't Jackie O. when she was married to John F. Kennedy. Well, John -- Jackie Kennedy -- Jackie Bouvier Kennedy was a style setter, a trendsetter. Working with Oleg Cassini, she basically took some beautiful, powerful French designs and turned them -- and made them American. So she was, very, very consciously, a trendsetter.

Secondly, she wanted to make the White House beautiful. And that was not by putting necessarily her style but by bringing back the original furnishings or at least -- not copies but antiques that were similar to the original furnishings that had been in the White House. And then she opened the White House to everyone.


NAFTALI: And in February of 1962, she took the American people on a tour of the White House. So Jackie Kennedy put herself forward in a very vocal and a very strong way as a trendsetter and as someone who wanted to make the White House beautiful.

Melania, to date, the first lady, has not been as public a figure and has not really put herself forward for that. And maybe she will, but at this point, she is not, certainly, in the same mold as first lady Jackie Kennedy.

CABRERA: I've got to ask you about this other comment the President made in the clip that we saw from ABC News this morning, in which he talks about Richard Nixon, basically saying that he didn't fire Robert Mueller because it didn't work out so well for Nixon. Do you think the President actually learned from history? Is this some evidence of him learning lessons?

NAFTALI: Well, let me tell you that that is a very good lesson to have learned if you want to stay in office. What started the impeachment process against Richard Nixon was the Saturday night massacre. The American people were not in favor of impeachment after the Saturday night massacre, but they were in favor of starting impeachment proceedings.

So somebody around the President -- and maybe the president, although I doubt it, but someone around the President knew the history and said to the President, you want to do something that is a true red line in our politics? Because President Trump is proud that he can cross most every red line and emerge unscathed. They probably said to him, this one you can't cross. So either he learned the lesson or someone enforced the lesson on him. Either way, it was the right thing for him to do if he wanted to stay and finish his term.

CABRERA: All right, we'll see. He's got still some term left.

NAFTALI: He sure does.

CABRERA: And the talk of impeachment is continuing. Thank you very much, Tim Naftali.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

CABRERA: Always good to have you with us.

Coming up, it was an interview meant to rehab her image, but did the controversial wife of Secretary -- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin raise even more eyebrows?

And see what happens when victims and offenders of violent crimes meet face-to-face in the new "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES: THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern followed by "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" with W. Kamau Bell at 10:00 p.m.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:51:30] CABRERA: It sucks being hated. Those words from the wife

of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a new wide-ranging interview. You may remember, Louise Linton sparked outrage after posting a heavily hashtagged Instagram post of her getting off a government jet covered in luxury labels.

Not to mention this photo of her wearing elbow length opera gloves and a matching leather ensemble to pose with money at the U.S. Mint. That picture drew comparisons to Cruella de Vil.

And while Linton insists the stereotype is far from accurate, her plan to rehab her image may have backfired. CNN's Kate Bennett explains.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): Of all the cabinet spouses in Donald Trump's administration --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you looking forward to about the evening?



BENNETT (voice-over): -- there is perhaps no one quite like Louise Linton, the actress and movie producer and wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.



BENNETT (voice-over): Linton, who infamously Instagrammed herself deplaning a government jet two years ago pointing out all of the designer clothes and accessories she was wearing, has since opted for a lower profile, trying to rehab her image. But a revealing new interview in "Los Angeles Magazine" shows that Linton, now based in L.A., is still making waves.

MAER ROSHAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE": She says if I was doing this right, I'd be wearing a twin sweater set and pearls. But that's not her, she's an actress, she lives in Hollywood. So in some ways, she kind of does break the mold.

BENNETT (voice-over): Like, unprovoked, deciding to jump into her swimming pool in the middle of the interview. What is clear? Washington, D.C. with its politics and protocol was not Linton's favorite place, telling the magazine, quote, I felt very lonely and isolated. I didn't have any friends there. I never got much guidance. You know that movie "The Princess Diaries," where a mentor held her hand, saying, walk this way, talk this way, do this, don't do that? Well, I didn't have anyone like that.

True. But perhaps a guide shouldn't be necessary to stop one's self from holding money in the U.S. Mint wearing leather gloves. Her reason for the designer duds? The chill. Quote, you've heard of cold cash, right? They call it that because it's kept freezing cold there. I was warned ahead of time, so I came prepared.

ROSHAN: I think she felt a need to explain herself or to separate herself from the stereotypical image that we have of her. In some ways, she did. I think in some ways, she didn't.

BENNETT (voice-over): Linton seems to understand why she is under scrutiny. It sucks being perceived as a person that you're not. It sucks being hated. Look, I made some rookie mistakes. I understand why people are angry about me getting off that government plane tagging fashion brands. It was a stupid thing to do.

Nowadays, she says she's recovering from Washington life, even changing the channel when her husband is on discussing government news. And she's fresh at work on a new screenplay for a movie in which she intends to produce and star. The plot, Linton says, it's loosely based on my own life. The working title is "Celebrity."


CABRERA: Our thanks to Kate Bennett. And tonight, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Kate also has a fascinating look at the life of the first lady in her documentary, "WOMEN" -- I should say, "WOMAN OF MYSTERY: MELANIA TRUMP." That's at 8:00 p.m. tonight. We'll be right back.


CABRERA: Iowa's got lots of wide-open spaces, but with all the Democratic candidates, it's starting to get a bit crowded. So what if they decided to carpool? Jake Tapper has this week's "State Of The Cartoonion."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Democratic presidential candidates are spending so much time in Iowa that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg had an idea.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to get to know each other better and better. We might as well carpool.

TAPPER (voice-over): Perhaps a jam-packed Prius driven by Mayor Pete himself, using his learner's permit. Though Joe Biden might want to enjoy his frontrunner status and load all the candidates into his Trans-Am.


TAPPER (voice-over): There's no way the Democrats would agree to that, however. Though, of course, it might end up a little too close for comfort in that Prius. No doubt the candidates would fight over control of the radio.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "Check the Rhime," A Tribe Called Quest.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The complete works of Ludwig van Beethoven.



TAPPER (voice-over): And they'd fight over directions. When it's Biden's turn to drive, they'd accuse him of trying to go backward.

BETO O'ROURKE, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot return to the past, but we've got to be bolder.

TAPPER (voice-over): Some might complain that Bernie Sanders is veering too far to the left. Of course, the youngest candidate himself might want a more high-tech car, after all.

SANDERS: You've got to come back with me.


SANDERS: Back to the future.

[19:00:00] TAPPER (voice-over): He might end up going in a completely different direction.