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Trump Defends American Troop Withdrawal in Northern Syria; Trump Continues Week-Long Assault on Impeachment Inquiry & Democrats; "Marie Claire" Highlights History-Making Women in Politics. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 14:30   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing very well in Syria with Turkey and everybody else that we're dealing with. We have secured the oil. We have a lot of oil. We've secured the oil. A couple people came knocking. We said, don't knock. I think I would say things are going very well.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: CNN's senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is live in Erbil, Iraq.

Nick, is the U.S. getting oil out of the ceasefire deal with Turkey?


You hear President Trump each time talk with such passion about how he feels the situation in Syria is going but it is often so distant to anything approaching the reality of events. I didn't quite know what he meant, again, when he said we had a couple of people come knocking but that didn't quite work out.

This reminds the oil in Syria is tiny. It is not a strategic region for the U.S. to continue having a presence there.

Many think, in fact, what's actually occurred, is Pence advisers sold to Donald Trump that is a reason to keep soldiers there and to keep ISIS at bay. And continue the fight against ISIS.

So keeping themselves in the southern eastern part of Syria to defend them is keeping up the mission doing before.

The problem essentially is this is not an American solution. This is an American problem created by the phone call between Donald Trump and President Erdogan of Turkey that led to withdrawal of American troops under hasty conditions.

And it means they have to prosecute half their mission seems in the days ahead with extra armor going to defend them in the south of Syria around the oil fields, which are not strategic value to the United States. Can't find anybody to tell you they are.

Certainly, having troops there blocking Iran through movement through there is a valuable thought but the oil is not.

And the rest of the troops in Iraq, where I'm standing, where the Iraqi government said they're passing through and not welcome to stay.

The long run of this is essentially the U.S.'s continued mission, haven't really finished the job against ISIS. They were nearly there.

It's now split between two countries with a major problem, Russia and Turkey and the Syrian regime and now major powers in the area where the U.S. used to be kind of the big boy influence.

And they're facing major issues in terms of working out how much Russia patrols, Turkey patrols, and where this leaves America's former allies, Kurds, who feel massively betrayed and now find the Turkish and Russians around them and dividing up the territory amongst them. Brooke?

BALDWIN: And we don't know who Trump is referring to on the people who came knocking. We said, don't knock.

Nick Paton Walsh, in Erbil. Nick, thank you very much.

Harvey Weinstein makes as rare public appearance and gets confronted by multiple people in the room, a look at the confrontations from an angry audience member and the comic onstage.



BALDWIN: Any moment to now, President Trump takes part in a criminal justice forum in South Carolina. It's been a low-key ending to what has been yet another staggering week of developments in this whole impeachment inquiry and more unconventional moments in his presidency.

Before leaving Washington, the president continued a week-long assault on the impeachment inquiry, assault on Democrats and continued the word lynching to describe impeachment.


TRUMP: Well, it's a word that many Democrats have used. It's a word many people have used over the year. But that a word that has been used many times.

And let me tell you something, the level of unfairness for a perfect conversation with the president of Ukraine. This was a perfect conversation.

This is a hoax just like there was no collusion, after two years they found out and wasted $45 billion. This is a disgrace that this could happen in our country.


BALDWIN: With me now, Michael D'Antonio, a Donald Trump biographer and author of "The Truth about Trump," and a CNN contributor.

And always a pleasure. Good to have you on.


BALDWIN: You wrote another piece for this week. This one is called "Expect Trump to Fight as if His Life Depends on It."

In this piece, Michael, you talked about Trump's history of being an illusionist as a businessman. So how do you mean, and do you think that it translates as president of the United States?

D'ANTONIO: Well I think we just heard a great example of it. We heard the president use the word hoax. We heard him talk about it being a disgrace. We heard him use the no collusion line. Also, the line about it being a perfect call. So all of these are bits and pieces of the illusion that he's building around this impeachment crisis.


Prior to the presidency, the illusion was about him being a billionaire many times over, when it was often not the case. In fact, there was a while there where he didn't have $1 billion let alone $10 billion.

He promoted this idea of him being perhaps the most sexually magnetic man in America. That never was the case.

There's so many things that he did to create this illusion of perfection and of greatness that I think he came to believe it. And that's why this crisis now is so threatening to him. It's threatening his image, but the image is more important to him, I think, than his soul.

BALDWIN: The reality is that he is facing a very serious impeachment inquiry. And now our reporting as of this week is that people very close to him are basically saying to him, Mr. President, you need to prepare and accept the reality that you will be impeached. Maybe minimalize is it the guidance he's getting.

Of all the things that the president has said or tweeted or whatever this month, Michael, what's the moment that is most telling for how Trump is really feeling behind the scenes?

D'ANTONIO: Well I think his response to Nancy Pelosi when they met and she rose and shook her finger at him, and he, then, tried to get the upper hand by saying that she had lost it, that somehow she had a meltdown. And she had the last laugh, because she posted the picture on her website and told everyone that she had been telling the president, all roads lead to Putin with you. You know, I think that that tactic on Trump, that Trump used, betrayed

the fact that he doesn't think strategically. Tactics are what we can use in the moment to fight back when we think we're threatened. Strategy is what we use to get ahead in the long run.

He's not a tactical thinker. He's a tactical counterpuncher, as he said, the moment calls for strategy, not tactics.

BALDWIN: Nancy Pelosi was asked, what do you think you were saying with your finger staring President Trump down, she said something to the effect of, no, the road does not end with Putin or something to that effect.

I want to ask one more question. I read this piece by a writer at the "Daily Beast." He writes about Trump in the White House, and lying, and what they're doing really actually goes way beyond that.

Hang with me. A long quote but incredible I thought.

"It's a direct nuclear assault on the truth. It's not. I didn't break the figurine. Like saying, mom, I didn't break it, Suzy broke it, I painstakingly glued it back together. And facts, A, Suzy was away at camp and, B, you're looking at it on the dining room table, a million pieces, are tricks allusions, delusions, manifestations of a vast take news conspiracy against me, orchestrated by Suzy and Aunt Donna. They met together recently."


BALDWIN: I know, I know. "They met together recently on more than one occasion. And people say Aunt Donna bought two boxes of Samoas and one box of Tagalongs from Suzy. And that, Dear Mother, is proof of the cabal."

Is that not the quote to end all quotes?



D'ANTONIO: It really is the essence of Donald Trump.

The more troubling aspect, though, I think is when we saw those members of Congress invade the SCIF. Violate the security of that facility. They indicated that they had caught this fever. That they are now, like that little boy who's spreading the delusion, because Donald Trump has shown them that sometimes you get away with it.

Now we've got everybody smashing figurines all over the place and blaming everyone else.

BALDWIN: Blaming everyone else.

D'ANTONIO: Exactly.

BALDWIN: Michael D'Antonio. Thank you very much. Good to have you on.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: A programming note for all of you. A CNN Special Report "On the Brink: When a President Faces Impeachment." Fareed Zakaria investigates impeachment and its role in our democracy. Tune in tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.


BALDWIN: You know I don't have to remind you of this. History is being made right now because five women are running for president and even more women than ever are running campaigns. We'll talk to the reporter who spent time on the trail with the power players behind the scenes.


BALDWIN: All right. Let's talk politics now in 2020 and the growing number of power brokers this election season who are women. "Marie Claire" magazine celebrates these women in a new piece called "The President Makers." An inside look at their lives on the campaign trail and the distinct perspective each woman brings. The article makes clear these women play to win.


Laura Bassett is the author of this piece and joins me to talk about the women who are the president makers.

Laura, awesome piece. First and foremost, thank you so much.

Read this for everyone.

"Presidential campaigns used to be a boys' club but now they're filled with women, like Liz Smith." Who we can talk about? A survey by "Politico" found that women for the first time make up more than half of the senior staff on the campaigns of all of the top polling candidates.

First, can we get just get an Amen?


BALDWIN: And, second, kudos to the men for bringing women into the fold. Why has it taken so long?

BASSETT: Well, politics has been a boys' club forever, never had a woman president before. There's a reason for that. Congress full of men as long as we know.

I talked to Liz Smith, works for Pete Buttigieg. One of the women I feature in the piece. She said, when I grew up, I always wanted to work on campaigns. All I saw was George Stephanopoulos and James Carville and this is not your grandmother's presidential primary. Politicians see women get the job. And women are fired up to get

Trump out of office, more than men. What all polls say, more women are running for Congress and more women running presidential campaigns, because they're the ones willing to drop everything, not have the most high-paying job.


BALDWIN: Sleep three hours a night. Keep the cell phone under the pillow.


BASSETT: Sleep with the phone under the pillow, have irregular meals. Leave their apartment and pet and go try to get Trump out of office. What they're trying to do.

BALDWIN: Awesome step forward. An anecdote, Julian Castro's campaign manager a crazy story getting to an event. Somebody saying, who are you? What was the story?

BASSETT: Maya Rupert is Julian Castro's campaign manager. Third black woman ever to hold that position. Amazing. She's had trouble with people not believing that she's in the role she's in.

So she had told me one story. A man delivering water to her San Antonio campaign office and came up to her and asked if anyone could sign for it. She was like, yes, I'll sign for. He was like I guess anyone can do it. She's like I literally am the person that signs.


BALDWIN: I make the decisions.

BASSETT: The decision-maker here and was held back. Walking next to Julian, let him in and say, sorry, only he and his staff can come in. She's like, I'm running his campaign.


BASSETT: People are not used to seeing a woman in this role or a Black woman.

BALDWIN: Who are the other power houses and three hours sleep with the phone under the pillow? Could have a 9:00 to 5:00 on Capitol Hill, why choose this life?

BASSETT: An adrenaline rush or the campaign trail. A lot of addicted to the highs of it.

When they have a moment -- Symone Sanders works for Joe Biden.


BASSETT: Yes. She was just the high off a win after a rough -- he's taken it on the chin a lot this cycle. Has an event that he smashes it, they get in the car together, she calls herself his hype woman. Screaming, high-fiving. Yes! You gave the public what they want.

So I think there's something really exciting about being in this kind of heavy competition, potentially landing this person in the White House. It's more exciting than a 9:00 to 5:00 sitting on the Hill with a Senator already there.

BALDWIN: Laura Bassett, thank you so much for just showing everyone else how these women are kicking, you know, behind the scenes for all of these presidential campaigns --


BASSETT: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

More on our breaking news. Exposing major gaps in the White House explanation for why President Trump withheld the money, the military aid, to Ukraine.


We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Thousands and thousands turned out in Baltimore today to bid farewell to their hometown hero, the honorable Congressman Elijah Cummings.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): And as we know from the Old Testament, there's a tradition to leave a seat at the table for Elijah, who might show up. But our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from Heaven.


MARY CUMMINGS, WIDOW OF REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Secretary Clinton, oh, my goodness.


CUMMINGS: He spent many and hour defending you --


CUMMINGS: -- against furious claims! And now he had to go on to actually work to fight for the soul of our democracy against very real corruption.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was sitting here and I was just noticing the honorable Elijah E. Cummings. And, you know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office.


OBAMA: But -- but Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office.