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CNN RIGHT NOW
North Korea Launches Projectiles In Message To Trump; Trump Angers China With Bills Backing Hong Kong Protesters; GOP Pushes Debunked Conspiracy Theories To Protect Trump; Pace Of Aid In Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands Behind U.S. Mainland Aid. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired November 28, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Kind of buried during the impeachment hearings that Kim Jong-un also recently said, if I'm remembering correctly, he was no longer interested in talks with the U.S. So is this just posturing?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, it's hard to tell with the North Koreans exactly what they mean by what they say. Clearly, he's trying to get Trump's attention. And the indications are they do have some low-level talks going on, even though no real progress has been made.
I think the way to read it is he's expressing displeasure. He still wants to get back to the table. He still wants sanctions lifted. And he knows the only way to do it now with Donald Trump is through a deal.
I think this is part of him trying to signal that he's not happy with how things are going and he's trying to force Trump's hand into getting back to the table.
CABRERA: Rear Admiral John Kirby, good to have you here. Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.
KIRBY: You, too. Thank you.
CABRERA: Protesters in Hong Kong are holding a pro-U.S. rally today after President Trump signed an act of support of this protest movement, something that passed almost unanimously by both houses of Congress.
But China's foreign ministry calls it extremely evil and accuses the U.S. of bullying behavior, disregarding the facts, and publicly supporting violent criminals. And adding, "We urge the United States not to insist on going down this path or China would firmly strike back and the United States would have to bear all consequences."
"Washington Post" columnist, Josh Rogin, is here to discuss.
Josh, President Trump has remained silent since these protests began and even threatened not to sign this. Why the change of heart? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: President Trump signed the bill
because he knew it would become law no matter what, this overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. If he vetoed it, it would have been overridden. So he got on board. That's fine. We should celebrate that he did the right thing.
At the same time, he issued a statement saying he wanted Chinese and Hong Kong leaders to work it out, which doesn't make sense.
But for the people of Hong Kong, it doesn't really matter. They're appreciate that the United States government decided to note that they are struggling for a democracy and freedom and human rights and the things that the Chinese government promised them when they took over Hong Kong in 1997. They are literally dying in the streets to advocate for those things.
This sends a huge message to those people that the United States is paying attention, and if the Chinese cracks down on them and kills them for protesting, there will be consequences internationally.
CABRERA: At the very least, I suppose it's symbolically meaningful in terms of sending the right message.
One of the reasons President Trump stayed quiet on the protests is because of the ongoing trade talks with China. Could this complicate a potential trade deal?
ROGIN: I don't think so for the simple reason that the Chinese government will make a trade deal if it is in their interests and that's it. It is their effort to link human rights to trade to advance their interests at our expense. We are suckers if we fall for that.
If you think about it, if every time we want to do a trade deal we have to shut up on human rights, they'll dangle trade deals in front of us forever so we can never say anything about human rights.
It's a trap. It's a trap they are trying to lay for us that we should avoid, that President Trump frankly falls into all the time.
In this one case, we have proven that we can walk and chew gum. They'll threaten lots of stuff. They may have some sort of trade protest.
But in the end, they are going to make a trade deal if they want to make a trade deal. We can't let that shut us up on things that are important to us like human rights, democracy and freedom.
CABRERA: I read the threat that was issued, the threat of consequences from China. How might China retaliate?
ROGIN: That's the thing. Essentially, they are going to accuse the United States of inspiring the protesters, supporting the protesters and rioters, whether we do something or not. They'll be tough on us in trade, whether we do something or not. They are full of bluster. In the end, they are concerned the international community is growing
wise to this scheme of theirs to make us shut up about the oppression and repression that they are doing not only in Hong Kong but in Tibet and to the Uighurs and concentration camps and all of that stuff.
We are here on Thanksgiving celebrating what? Freedom from tyranny. As it turns out, people around the world also want freedom from tyranny and they are willing to sacrifice for it. The least we can use our voices to show we support them.
That's what the United States did today. The Chinese aren't supposed to like it.
CABRERA: Josh, we reported that North Korea launched two projectiles overnight. You have a new piece in the "Washington Post," with the headline, "We Are Headed for a Crisis on the Korean Peninsula."
Why do you believe that?
ROGIN: The North Korean regime has set an end-of-the-year deadline for the nuclear negotiations that have been going on for a year and a half. There's no likelihood we'll give them what they want, which is to roll over and let them do what they want.
At the end of the year, there's a good chance that negotiations will be over. They'll do something even more crazy and reckless like launch another ICBM or launch another nuclear weapon.
At that point, the Trump administration has to deal with it. They know that. They are trying to think of it.
But at the same time, President Trump is confronting our allies about how much they pay for U.S. troops stationed in Japan and Korea, straining alliances and doing the North Koreans' work for them.
So what my column argues is, listen, it's North Korea's fault if they do something reckless. But we have to get ready for that.
We have to bolster alliances, not attack them. We have to realize that when diplomacy fails we have to switch course and do things like containment, deterrence, pressure, and try to make sure that the North Korea situation doesn't get any more dangerous than it already is.
CABRERA: Josh Rogin, thank you for making time for us, especially on Thanksgiving.
ROGIN: Happy Thanksgiving.
CABRERA: Happy Thanksgiving.
As President Trump fights for his presidency, his Republican defenders have pushed sketchy facts, full-on conspiracy theories to defend him. Separating the fact from fiction, next.
Plus, Puerto Rico still struggling to recover from hurricanes. Some say the U.S. is dragging its feet.
CABRERA: Impeachment facts and fiction. With so much back and forth, it's sometimes hard to tell the truth from the fabrications.
Throw into that the multiple conspiracy theories pushed by the president's defenders and it gets even harder.
But our Chris Cuomo is putting the facts first.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Facts first. Republicans used the public impeachment hearings for two purposes -- one, to push conspiracy theories and, two, to rail about how the president wasn't represented.
Here's the first fact. The president had a team of representatives in the form of these 10 congressmen.
Now we are hearing the White House may not send a lawyer to next week's hearing even though he's been given two bites of the apple.
Why would he when he's got people like these guys who made it their mission to cover, confuse, conflate. Congress is doing the work for him when they are supposed to be looking at him.
Now, the main stick they are swinging, four separate conspiracy theories, all of which have been debunked.
First up, maybe Russia didn't hack the DNC, Ukraine did. The president put it up in a phone call with the Ukrainian president.
The notion is demonstrably false. How? Every intel chief there says the same thing. Wasn't Ukraine. Ditto for an investigation by Senate Republicans. Wasn't Ukraine. Mueller spent 30 pages detailing how Russia did it.
Who says Ukraine? Trump allies and this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Do you know, for example, that in Ukraine, following the elections, some people, and these were public officials, sent congratulatory telegrams to Hillary Clinton, though Trump won. Look, what do we have to do with it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You have everything to do with it. Except the president doesn't believe it. We'll get to that in a second.
Now, the server. Where is the server?
There never was a server. The DNC used a cloud-based email system.
CrowdStrike is the company the FBI hired to make a copy and analyze it for them. CrowdStrike, by the way, is based in California. One of the co-founders was born in Russia, not Ukraine. He moved to the U.S. as a teenager.
Conspiracy theory number two. This idea that, as vice president, Joe Biden bribed Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was pursuing an investigation of his son by withholding aid money -- basically what the president just did.
What Hunter Biden did, you can argue it was wrong, but he was never the subject of a criminal investigation.
The V.P., along with the governments of most Western nations, and an overwhelming majority of the Ukrainian parliament, all wanted the prosecutor out. Why? Because he wasn't investigating enough corruption.
Conspiracy number three, the black ledger. The idea here is that Ukrainians doctored some books to make Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, look crooked and hurt Trump.
Strike one, Manafort is sitting behind bars now for exactly the kind of work detailed in the ledger.
Strike two, they keep saying the Ukrainians don't believe it was real. Where is the evidence of that? Where is the evidence that it was forged? We haven't seen it.
Strike three, Russia did far worse to help Trump and he's never had any problem with anything they have done, not even when standing on the world stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That was tough to watch.
The fourth and final conspiracy, a woman named Alexandra Chalupa, a former DNC consultant, accused of working with Ukrainians to hurt Manafort and, by extension, Trump.
The timeline is the problem for Trump here on this one. She started looking into Manafort on her own before Trump announced his run. Trump can't have a problem with that, right, because he's OK with what Rudy is doing. While she may have later tried to get info on him from Ukraine, nobody at the DNC seemed to care.
As for the validity, ultimately, she was right. Manafort's activities were criminal.
As Trump himself points out --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Why does he care?
These are four separate theories. But the president's supporters are counting on you not to be able to tell them apart or not being able to keep track of who worked for which Ukrainian president and when.
What's the goal? Distraction, confusion, to create doubt. That's the problem. That's why we have to check it.
When it comes to something as serious as removing a president, clarity is key.
So those are the facts.
CABRERA: Thanks for those facts, Chris Cuomo there.
Conspiracy theories, finger pointing, who knew what when, and what did they really mean? It's all fodder for the Thanksgiving gatherings today.
But let's look down the table, past the Turkey, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce to the kids' table. Think for a moment about what they are hearing.
As we do that, let's read a letter sent by a 3rd grader back in the 1990s, the last time we, as a nation, went through the impeachment process.
The letter was sent to Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee then, who read it during the Senate impeachment trial.
Listen carefully to the words from a 3rd grader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY HYDE, (R), FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: It is bad to lie because it just gets you in more trouble. I hate getting in trouble. It's just like the boy who cried Wolf and the Wolf ate the boy. It is important to tell the truth.
I like to tell the truth because it gets you in less trouble. If you do not tell the truth, people do not believe you.
It is important to believe the president because he is an important person. If you cannot believe the president, who can you believe? If you have no one to believe in, how do you run your life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Hyde noted that the boy wrote the letter as punishment for lying. When caught in the lie by his father, the boy justified it by saying, well, the president lies. Let that sink in.
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CABRERA: It has been two years since back-to-back hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And while people there work to recover, we're learning that aid flowing from the U.S. remains slow to arrive.
You will remember, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma plowed through the Caribbean as a category 5 storm killing 44 people and leaving catastrophic damage in its wake.
And then there was Hurricane Maria, the powerful category 4 storm. It became the strongest to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years when it made landfall on September 20, 2017, knocking out power to the entire island for weeks.
Both of these storms eventually went on to impact the U.S. mainland. But the damage here really is nothing compared to what the islands endured.
And yet, as CNN's Rene Marsh reports, the pace of aid to the mainland has far exceeded what those in the Caribbean has received -- Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: FEMA shared data with CNN about their ongoing recovery efforts for Hurricanes Maria and Irma back in 2017 and the data shows that the pace of recovery in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands lagged behind that of some states, like Florida.
For example, FEMA has funded 190 long-term recovery projects, but there have been more than 9,000 requests. And the Virgin Islands, 218 projects have been funded out of more than 1500 requests.
Compare that to Florida where FEMA funded more than 3700 long-term projects and about 3700 in Texas as well. That was two years after Hurricane Harvey hit. As the "New York Times" first reported, these numbers illustrate the
disparity in support citizens in mainland U.S., with voting representation in Congress, received compared to citizens living in these U.S. territories.
Although, we should point out, obviously, it is going to be a tougher battle recovering on these islands. Still though, there's quite a gap.
But FEMA is defending its recovery response, saying in a statement, quote, "Every disaster is different and the length of the recovery process will vary based upon the unique circumstances of the particular event. As such, comparing disasters misleads the American people. Each event has a unique set of circumstances. And numbers alone cannot and do not provide a complete picture of what is needed to help communities recover."
And the agency went on also adding that, "FEMA does not base disaster assistance on race, color, sex or political affiliation."
All of that said, the agency is saying that the recovery that they have done, they have done in its best effort to address the needs of not only the states here on the mainland but also the citizens on those islands -- Ana?
CABRERA: Keep on it.
Rene Marsh, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.
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