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Two 6-Year-Olds Arrested at Orlando Elementary School; Trump Under Fire Over Corruption Allegations; U.S. Soldier Suggested Bombing News Stations. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired September 23, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: These are postings on Facebook where he's giving them information, knowing full well that they intend to use some of this information to cause harm to others.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Mm-hmm.
PROKUPECZ: He also said that he did this to cause chaos.
He wanted to create chaos. He told him that: "If chaos results in the death of people, even through information he provided, it doesn't affect him."
And obviously, then, Beto O'Rourke, in response to the FBI arrest, said, basically, that this isn't about any one person. He thanked the FBI for what they did.
The key here is that he's saying, look: "This isn't about any one person or one campaign. And we won't let this scare us to back down in fighting for what's right."
Obviously, very concerning here. I think what we're seeing, this is an example of what the FBI is now doing.
PROKUPECZ: They're going back, scrubbing their systems, looking to see if people who could be potentially problems for them, people that they may have missed, or people that sort of have fallen off their radar.
This guy, keep in mind, first contact that the FBI had or even knew about him was in March. And it wasn't until August that they went back and said, what's going on? And, clearly, very concerning, and so they arrested him two days ago.
BALDWIN: For all the attacks we cover, this is one thwarted.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, frightening, indeed. Yes.
BALDWIN: Well done to the FBI. Shimon, thank you very much for that.
Now to this. As he stares down the latest firestorm to engulf his White House, President Trump is not backing down from the controversy. Instead, he's doing something very familiar, pointing the finger elsewhere.
The current target? Former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who Trump claims engaged in corruption in Ukraine. Now, he has made that claim not just to the American public over the last couple of days, but also directly to Ukraine's president during a phone call late in July, a phone call that took place the day after Robert Mueller testified to Congress, which also happened to be the same day when Trump came out and cried again no collusion, said he was totally vindicated from any accusations he conspired with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
So the day after, he's on the phone with the president of Ukraine. And despite President Trump's insistence to the contrary, Ukraine's prosecutor says that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son.
So CNN's Kaitlan Collins is our White House correspondent. She is there at the United Nations here in New York, where we know President Trump made a speech today on religious freedom.
But on this topic, the president said he wanted the public to see the call's transcript. Is he changing his mind?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He seems to be wavering on it, Brooke, because he's gone back and forth over whether or not that transcript should be released, because he says it would reveal that he's right here, that there was no wrongdoing or inappropriate conversations during that call.
But just a few moments ago, the president was again talking about this topic, and he seemed to then be echoing what we have heard from aides, that they're worried, if they did release this transcript, it could lead to them to being forced to release a slew of others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you going to release -- if you can authorize this transcript, will you do that, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can do it very easily. But I'd rather not do it, from the standpoint of all of the other conversations I have.
I may do it, because it was a very innocent call, both his part and mine. We had a very nice call. It was really a congratulatory call, because he had just won. It was just confirmed. And he's the new president.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Now, Brooke, as they're wrestling with whether or not they should release the transcript, Democrats say they have no choice but to release the whistle-blower's complaint, saying that if it goes to the inspector general, who has deemed it urgent, then it must be released to these Intelligence Committees, which, so far, of course, they have said it has not gone so far.
We have heard people go back and forth over that precedent. That was set, but they say, no, it's the law, you have to release this complaint. So that's what people are waiting to see.
But, as that's going on, the president is insisting he did not threaten to withhold that aid for Ukraine, that military aid that they needed for protection from Russia, as he was pushing them and talk about Joe Biden, pushing Joe Biden during these phone conversations with the Ukrainians, as the president himself has confirmed.
But now another thing, focusing on that whistle-blower's complaint, Brooke, the president on Twitter is questioning this person's patriotism. even though, on Friday, he said he didn't know what the identity of this person is. He was asking earlier on Twitter whether or not they are on the country's side.
BALDWIN: And it sounds like we're hearing from some, a range of reactions from Trump's inner circle over this whole thing, what, Kaitlan, ranging from worried to -- I read one White House official brushed it off, calling it Mueller two, we have seen this movie before.
Tell me more.
COLLINS: And that's what the president said earlier when he was asked if he's worried about these renewed calls for his impeachment, which we may start to see new calls from Democrats who haven't gone that far yet.
He said he wasn't. He said he felt like this was a redo of the Mueller investigation, which, of course, he's declared vindication on, though those were not exactly the results of it.
But it's going back and forth in the White House, because there are some people who do see this as a problem for the president to be talking to a another foreign leader about investigating his political rival, even though aides have denied that the president was pressuring him during those phone calls.
But that's really the concern. So it is a mixed bag inside the White House. They're waiting to see what Republicans are going to say about this and whether or not it's going to become a bigger issue for Trump.
BALDWIN: OK, we will talk about what Republicans are saying or not saying in this next conversation I'm about to have.
Kaitlan, thank you very much down at the U.N. The pressure may be mounting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. CNN has
learned that the Ukraine call has pushed some House Democrats to what one lawmaker says is the tipping point on impeachment after they were opposed to it in the past.
My next guest left the Republican Party nearly one year ago after the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, saying Republicans had become a threat to the rule of law and constitutional norms. He says that, if it is true that President Trump tried to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, that the president should be impeached and removed from office, and now.
He is Tom Nichols. And he is the author of "The Death of Expertise." And in a new column for "The Atlantic," he writes about Trump's Ukraine call. The headline is, "If this isn't impeachable, nothing is."
Tom Nichols, welcome, sir. Pleasure to have you on.
TOM NICHOLS, AUTHOR, "THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE": Thank you.
BALDWIN: You tweeted Saturday -- quote -- "I have never made the case for impeaching Trump, despite my belief that he has long merited impeachment."
What made you want to write this now?
NICHOLS: Because this is the most clear case of impeachable behavior.
I understand that people read the Mueller report, they didn't understand why some of the things that happened in the Mueller report were impeachable. Obstruction is a legal argument that I think the president and his advisers have successfully obfuscated.
The only issue here is, did the president of the United States ask a foreign leader to an investigate an American citizen for his own personal political purposes?
I -- when I wrote it, I said if that's true. Now, the president has essentially confirmed that. I think we're about one or two press conferences away from the president simply confirming that there was a quid pro quo as well.
BALDWIN: You think so?
NICHOLS: This is simply an abuse of power.
I -- well, he already said, well, you don't want to give money to somebody who's corrupt.
And I think it's really important to point out that, if you're waiting for $250 million in aid, and the president says, apropos of nothing, here's this thing I really care about, and I'd like you to do, that sure would -- if I were a foreign leader, I would understand the clarity of that message. But even without that, even without the whistle-blower complaint, if
the president asked for one of his opponents to be put in legal jeopardy in a foreign country to serve his own personal interests, I don't understand how that's not impeachable, to be honest.
BALDWIN: So I hear you loud and clear. Does this mean then that these hearings, impeachment hearings, would be inevitable, not just for Trump, but also for Speaker Pelosi, who thus far has really resisted calls for it?
NICHOLS: I don't speak for Speaker Pelosi or the U.S. government or anyone else.
I would be -- I guess my only question to the Democrats is, if not this, what? I mean, at this point, if this is not impeachable behavior, then maybe we ought to just strip that part right out of the Constitution and forget about it.
Now, I know that the answer for a lot of Democrats is, well, the Senate will never convict. But, at some point, there is a constitutional duty to engage in this and to put the Senate on record as either approving this kind of behavior or rejecting it.
And I don't think that this should just become a raw calculation about how many votes there are in the Senate. Remember, impeaching Richard Nixon was actually quite unpopular in 1973, and didn't hit the 50 percent mark until the summer of 1974.
I just think the behavior itself is so obvious, and the president has copped to it. I mean, he simply said point blank. We're never going to see that transcript, by the way. And, if we do, I'm not sure I would trust the version that comes out of the White House.
BALDWIN: I was going to ask about that.
BALDWIN: Let me read -- let -- we will get to...
NICHOLS: The president has said, I brought it up with him.
So I believe him.
BALDWIN: Yes, color me cynical, but I hear you loud and clear on that.
Let me read part of your piece. You write: "There is no spin, no deflection, no alternative theory of the case that can get around the central fact that President Trump reportedly attempted to use his office for his own gain and that he puts the foreign policy and the national security of United States at risk while doing."
You go on: "By comparison, Watergate was a complicated judgment call."
And -- and, Tom, yet the Republican Party probably won't call this out? What do you think?
NICHOLS: Well, it's remarkable to me.
Senator Romney made one mildly critical -- he said it would be troubling in the extreme.
BALDWIN: Would be troubling. Hasn't Trump admitted it?
NICHOLS: You know, it would be troubling in the extreme if this were true.
And, already, there are other Republicans walking away from him. Senator Hawley has already started with, this is a deep state attack. And, as you pointed out, Republicans working in the White House are saying, well, this is just Mueller two and no one cares.
I think -- I would hope that there is some remnant of the Republican Party that actually cares about the Constitution and national security. But if I believed that, I'd still be a Republican, and I'm not.
BALDWIN: Tom Nichols, powerful piece in "The Atlantic." Thank you so much for coming on. We will talk again. Thank you.
NICHOLS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, we will break down what seems to be a formula President Trump has for responding to these types of scandals, deny, then admit, then deflect, this pattern here coming up.
Also, police speaking out right now about two 6-year-olds who were arrested at their elementary school. You heard me right, 6-year-olds arrested. A lot of questions about why this even escalated to this point.
And, later, the New England Patriots' head coach still refusing to answer questions about Antonio Brown days after Brown was fired from the team amid rape allegations. You will see the tense exchange he had with a reporter.
You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Your campaign, this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on an opponent, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?
TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening.
If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh. I think I'd want to hear it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I would take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That was President Trump just a couple of months ago, essentially saying he'd be open to foreign interference in the U.S. election in 2020.
So maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that that is exactly what he's accused of doing right now, asking the president of Ukraine to investigate his potential opponent, Joe Biden.
And perhaps just as predictable, the way President Trump has handled this and many other scandals.
Chris Cillizza is with me now.
And you have broken down the Trump response into four basic steps.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, there's a pattern here, Brooke. And gosh knows we have enough -- a large enough sample size.
So let's go through it.
Let me first play sound from Trump talking about Ukraine. Then we will come back and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Which conversation?
QUESTION: July 25 with the president of...
TRUMP: I really don't know. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: I really don't know. OK, what have you heard that before?
This is the Stormy Daniels $130,000 payoff. He was asked directly, do you know anything about the payoff, by the way, which he then backfilled to Michael? No, no. What else?
And then there was this, the tweet about Trump Tower and the Russia meeting. "I did not know the meeting went by son Don Jr."
Remember that he wrote the statement in Don Jr.'s name that came out of that meeting. So, again.
OK, step two, manipulate the narrative. Again, let's play a clip. We will come back and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It doesn't matter what I discussed. It's a partisan whistle- blower. They shouldn't even have information. I have had conversations with many leaders. They're always appropriate. I think Scott can tell you that. Always appropriate, at the highest level, always appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: Not sure what at the highest level always appropriate means, but whatever.
To the point of manipulating the narrative, basically, this is fine. Again, remember, Michael Cohen said, actually, I was the one who made these payments, Donald Trump knew nothing about it. Not accurate.
And then the Trump Tower meeting, the meeting was about Russian adoptions, when, in fact, we now know the meeting was because Don Jr. was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
OK, step three -- there's only four -- just stick with me.
Step three, yes, I did it. So what?
Again, let's play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don't what our people, like vice President Biden and his son, creating the corruption already in the Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: OK, so, again, right there, we're getting pretty close to saying, yes, I had the conversation, it was totally appropriate. Again, here's his Twitter. "Nothing was said that was in any way wrong."
OK. But he's done this same thing. Stormy Daniels: "Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign."
Again, end-run around campaign finance law. This is an in-kind contribution, but regardless. And then there was this.
"Trump Tower meeting, son Don, perfectly legal."
Yes, I mean, again, owning up to. Remember, nothing happened.
Last one, deflect and accuse someone else. Here we go. Last sound. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's just a Democrat witch-hunt. Here we go again. They failed with Russia. They failed with recession. They failed with everything. And now they're bringing this up.
The one who's got the problem is Biden, because you look at what Biden did, Biden did what they would like to have me do, except for one problem. I didn't do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OK, now, so on the deflect, the Ukrainian witch-hunt, witch-hunt, witch-hunt. See, he's got a -- he has a motif.
On the accused, he does this all the time. This is a -- remember, here, this was a Democratic ploy. Here, nothing was there, this is Democrats and the media.
And here, oh, it's actually Joe Biden who has done the things wrong.
So there is a pattern here. There is an approach. It's one of the few things he's actually consistent about, Brooke. None of what I just ran through, by the way, are facts. And that's what we need, facts.
What was on that call? What specifically did they talk about? Why not release the whistle-blower complaint to Congress? These are things that Donald Trump could make happen. He's choosing not to. It's worth noting that.
BALDWIN: That was absolutely fascinating. Well done, Chris Cillizza.
And shout-out to Chelsea for producing that one.
CILLIZZA: Yes, I was going to say, shout-out to the producers, not me.
BALDWIN: Shout-out to Chelsea Cook.
BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, thank you very much. Thank you.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BALDWIN: That was something.
Coming up next, a story that has a lot of people asking, how could this happen, two 6-year-olds arrested in separate incidents at the same elementary school on the same day? Hear what police are saying about this now.
BALDWIN: Moments ago, we heard from officials in Orlando after a police officer arrested two 6-year-old students at their elementary school -- 6.
One of those students, this little girl, was sent to the office for throwing a tantrum. And then she was placed in handcuffs.
CNN's Rosa Flores just listened in to this police news conference.
I don't even -- how does this even happen? What do they say?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know, Brooke. I'm still trying to process all of this. But let me take you through this.
FLORES: So, our affiliate WKMG spoke to the grandmother of one of these children. And, of course, this grandmother was shocked. She was upset, because she says that the 6-year-old girl suffers from sleep apnea and they're trying to get that under control.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, she gets a phone call from the little girl's charter school saying that the little girl had had a temper tantrum and that she had been arrested by police. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERALYN KIRKLAND, GRANDMOTHER: What do you mean she was arrested? They say, there was an incident and she kicked somebody. She's arrested. And she has a charge.
How do you do that to a 6-year-old child?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Now, the state attorney locally just had a press conference and she confirms that, indeed, a 6-year-old had been arrested and charged.
But the state attorney made it very clear that she does not plan to prosecute, saying that, instead, she's going to work to drop the charges on this child. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARAMIS AYALA, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: There have been out cries for justice, and I want this community to know that I hear you.
I also want you to know that when it comes to little elementary-aged children, we will not negotiate justice ever. Today, the healing can start. I can assure you that there will be no criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor battery for these elementary children in my name or on my watch.
Unlike some, I will not presume guilt or dangerousness of a child based upon any demographic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: So, Brooke, how did this happen in the first place?
According to Orlando police, they have a protocol that any officer that arrests a child under the age of 12 needs to get approval. And, apparently, in this case, the approval was not obtained.
Needless to say, there's an internal investigation going on, according to the police. And for now, the duty -- the officer's duties have been suspended.
BALDWIN: OK, has been suspended.
Rosa Flores, thank you very much.
Let's bring in Charles Coleman Jr., a civil rights attorney.
And you are -- you were fired up. We're e-mailing about this, this morning. And thank you so much for coming on.
CHARLES COLEMAN JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Sure. Thank you.
BALDWIN: How do you arrest a 6-year-old?
COLEMAN: I think this is appalling. I'm appalled. I think that most people, with their common sensibilities, would be appalled, would be appalled by this.
But I think that when you talk about the school-to-prison pipeline, this is exactly what we're referring to. We're talking about the criminalization of behavior by minors, by school-aged children in primary education, K-12, for things that they would normally do. This is normal behavior.
So what? A 6-year-old had a tantrum. She's a baby. She's a child. This is what happens.
What I really need that -- for viewers to understand, to contextualize this in a larger conversation about what is happening across America with respect to schools involving school resource officers around things that they should not be involved in.
School resource officers were put in place to deal with things like mass shootings, or gang violence, or things of that nature. They're not in place for classroom management. So this is a total aberration on a number of different levels in terms of the misuse of SROs in schools.
BALDWIN: So, just a little bit of background. We were reading about this officer.
The officer involved, his name is Dennis Turner. He's -- he was assigned to the reserve officer program. He -- he retired.
BALDWIN: In 2016, he was reprimanded for excessive force after he Tasered a man five times.
BALDWIN: This is all according to "The Orlando Sentinel."
You heard Rosa say, you know, they didn't