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Trump Has Become Emboldened Since His Acquittal; Interview with Tom Countryman on State Department Employees under Trump's Attacks; Trump Doesn't Want Another Summit with Kim Jong-Un; Chinese President Wears Face Mask for Visit to Hospital; "Hair Love" Wins Oscar for Best Animated Short. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired February 10, 2020 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: -- I believe one that we have in which he does his famous nickname thing. They, not clear who "they" is, they are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin -- see because his name is Manchin.
BALDWIN: Got it.
CILLIZZA: It's really complex, I'll explain it after. In West Virginia, he couldn't understand the trip because Romney could but didn't want to. OK. So this classic Donald Trump, you know, bullying in chief, Manchin, responded, let's play that very quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don't know where he got the munchkin, I think I'm a little bit bigger than he is, taller. I like the President. I just love my country. And I'm going to do what's right for my country. I can explain that all day long. But I expect every American and myself, would like my President and our President to act like responsible adult, and he's not and I hope he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: OK. Now again, not an isolated incident, Brooke.
CILLIZZA: OK. We've seen this, firing witnesses after he was acquitted, what he did, fired witnesses. OK, Vindman, Sondland, and Williams, there's lots of examples. Attack Senators, it's not just Joe Manchin, it's Mitt Romney, right, it's Doug Jones in Alabama, it's anyone who he believed should have done what he wanted as opposed to what they thought was right.
And vindictive victory lap ceremony, doesn't even capture, obviously, we covered a lot, but doesn't even capture what Trump did it last week. He called it a celebration. It was more of a vengeance settling. He is a vengeful person, this was his revenge, basically, read a list of people who were for him and praised them, against him, and dismissed them and attacked them.
He has long called these things modern day Presidential -- modern day is doing a lot of work in that description, but this is his MO, we should not be surprised by it, it's not going to be the last time this happened.
CILLIZZA: Joe Munchkin. By the way Joe Manchin, I'm' 6' 3", Joe Manchin is definitely taller than me.
BALDWIN: He's a big dude.
CILLIZZA: He's about 6' 5''.
BALDWIN: He's a big guy. All right, thank you very much, Chris Cillizza.
My next guest was also dismissed by the Trump administration, Tom Countryman Was an acting undersecretary when the administration forced him out of the State Department in 2017 after more than 35 years of service. So Tom, always a pleasure to have you on. Welcome back.
TOM COUNTRYMAN, FORMER SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL PUSHED OUT BY TRUMP: Thank you, Brooke. Good to be here.
BALDWIN: With this news of the ousting of these individuals, how are you -- how are your former colleagues at State reacting to these firings?
COUNTRYMAN: Well, clearly the President wanted to send a message to both the professional military and professional public servants that he is a professional bully, that he wishes to intimidate people into not doing their job if it doesn't serve his political purpose.
But make no mistake about it. Again, if either military officials or State Department or other government employees respond to a lawful subpoena from the U.S. Congress, they are going to go and tell the truth, and of course, the truth is what is most noxious to a President that has built his administration on a structure of lies.
BALDWIN: To your point, moving forward do these employees at State, at DOD, did they feel like their bosses would have their backs?
COUNTRYMAN: Well, very clearly in the State Department there is not a feeling that Secretary Pompeo is defending the people of the State Department against the constant false attacks that come from the Trump family and from the White House.
I'm less concerned about the morale than I am concerned about the long-term damage that it does to the U.S. reputation. Back in 1946, one of America's greatest diplomats, George Kennan, wrote that the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with Soviet communism is that we allow ourselves to become like the people with whom we are coping. Well, that's exactly what's happening today. We have a President who is identical to Vladimir Putin in rejecting any legal or constitutional limits on his authority. We have a Republican Senate that is more cowardly and more obedient than the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. We have a governing party that is more corrupt and is obsessed with personal enrichment as the Ayatollahs in Iran.
To counter all of that in the future and to restore the rapidly diminishing credibility of the United States in the world, we need a professional foreign service, we need a professional military. And thank god, there are still thousands of such people who are willing to put country above party, who are willing to put patriotism above blind obedience.
BALDWIN: We have talked to you a number of times, Tom, and it all goes back to what you wrote, that piece. A year after you were dismissed, you wrote this really compelling piece on what you were seeing at the State Department at the time.
And you know, you were one of the lucky ones, this is what you wrote then. Quote, the U.S. is not only encouraging the most autocratic of foreign leaders, but sapping the spirit for an entire generation of advocates for democracy and human rights in foreign countries.
You went on -- some of these changes will take years if not decades to repair. Other changes will be simply irreversible. I continue to encourage my old colleagues at all levels to stay the course as long as they can.
Tom, my question is, here now in 2020 through all of this, would you still advise them to stay the course?
COUNTRYMAN: Yes, I would. I think the people who serve the U.S. citizens in the Department of State and in other federal agencies are there not because they are politically beholden to one man, but because they believe in the ethos of public service. They know that what they are doing is not making them rich but is making America stronger. And I think no matter how much the White House tries to denigrate them and to make them enemies, they will continue to do their job and I hope they will because that is America's future.
BALDWIN: Thank you for all of your years doing your job, Tom Countryman, a pleasure. Thank you.
COUNTRYMAN: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: It was just a few months ago that President Trump said he was looking forward to seeing Kim Jong-un in the quote, unquote, not too distant future. But CNN has now learned that won't be happening anytime before the November elections. We have details on why these talks seemed to have stalled.
BALDWIN: As President Trump reups his reelection campaign, CNN is learning that he's told his foreign policy advisers that he does not want another summit with Kim Jong-un before the November election.
The two leaders just met in June when President Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to step in North Korea, remember this. But since then there hasn't been much progress in the relationship or their goals.
Jean Lee is the Director for the Center of Korean History and Public Policy over at the Wilson Center there in Washington. Jean, a pleasure as always have you on. I mean I'm just wondering because we've talked so much about how Trump praises this murderous dictator, right. But why do you think Trump wants a break?
JEAN LEE, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF KOREAN HISTORY AND PUBLIC POLICY, WILSON CENTER: I think he's realizing that it won't quite be as easy as he thought to convince or to pressure Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons. He was looking for an easy foreign policy victory, these negotiations are so complex with huge consequences and so he wants to put it on the back burner.
I think we saw a confirmation of that at during the State of The Union address, no mention of North Korea. And so that for me was confirmation that he was going to put it on the back burner and perhaps spin what he has done so far as progress, and he's hoping there won't be any tests, that there won't be any disruption until November.
BALDWIN: So maybe between here and now if Kim were to snub him, he could say, I'm not interested in talking to him right now. How do you think Kim will respond to this?
LEE: I think that's the question. Will Kim Jong-un be patient until November? I think Kim Jong-un has been waiting to see what happened with the impeachment trial, now that that's been somewhat resolved. He's now waiting to see what is happening with the Presidential campaign, with the campaign, will there be a Democrat in the White House next year?
He's trying to gauge whether he should stick with President Trump or take advantage of the last few months of his Presidency. This is a man -- Kim Jong-un is not a man that is very patient. So I think his patience will be limited and we have to wait to see if he decides that he's going to remind President Trump that he has the capability to upset his foreign policy plan with tests that violate that claim that President Trump is making that he's mad progress with North Korea.
BALDWIN: The last time we heard President Trump actually talking about Kim Jong-un it was back in December. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. I think we both want to keep it that way. He knows I have an election coming up. I don't think he wants to interfere with that, but we'll have to see. The relationship is very good but you know there is certain hostility, there's no question about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Can you just, Jean, remind Americans why Kim Jong-un would care about Trump's election, perhaps why it would be in Kim's best interest for him to be reelected?
LEE: I don't think Kim Jong-un has given up on President Trump. They do have a relationship, and he knows that President Trump has given him the best opportunity for some sort of deal with North Korea.
And we have to remember at the end of the day, these nuclear weapons are meant to be a bargaining chip for North Korea. He wants to sell off pieces of it in exchange for concessions. He's put a lot of investment into it, he wants it to payoff.
So he's trying to make that calculation on how to use these nuclear weapons to his advantage. I do think that he's invested so much in President Trump and so he's been willing to wait and see. And we have to remember, though, meanwhile, while this is on the back burner, he's going to use that time strategically to keep working on his nuclear program. Keep developing those weapons, and he may have promised not to test them but it doesn't mean he's not developing them.
BALDWIN: Jean Lee, thank you.
LEE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, an American quarantined on a cruise ship with the coronavirus, speaks to CNN and she says some people are sending her hate mail while she's there.
BALDWIN: There are now 65 new cases of the coronavirus on a quarantined ship off the coast of Japan, and at least 24 of the 135 passengers confirmed to have the virus are Americans. Ambulances have been seen taking some of the patients to Tokyo. Some of those quarantined Americans say that they have been targeted online over fears that they could spread the disease.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENT FRASURE, HIS WIFE HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: This fear of, you know, mob mentality sort of fear is just unwarranted. Just today, I got a message from somebody who said don't come home.
REBECCA FRASURE, AMERICAN WHO'S TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: I've actually got a couple of like really threatening messages. People can be really nasty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Today, the coronavirus has infected more than 40,000 people, and killed 910 worldwide.
That means now that more people have died from this virus than from the SARS outbreak back in 2003.
For the first time today, Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen wearing a mask while visiting a hospital in Beijing. So let's go to Beijing to David Culver, our correspondent there. And David, talk to me just about the significance of President Xi being seen in public wearing that face mask.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brooke, and it answers the question that several folks have been asking for several weeks now, and that is, where have you been?
With President Xi it's not that you don't normally see him, I mean he's very public and being on the state broadcaster or being on some of the coverage of the state media here, and yet, with this crisis in particular, it was day after day that people didn't see him. And so now to have the images of him coming out wearing the mask like most of us do when we are about really across China. And going to a hospital and going to a disease control center, it seems to suggest a couple of things here.
Because you've got to go back to the origin of this, right. And this was in a local setting in Wuhan in particular that all of this broke out. And the state media initially was breaking the stories here, Brooke. I mean they were uncovering some of the corruption and concerning coverup as perceived by some of the locals in Wuhan. And that continued in Hubei province in particular.
And so what we've seen now is a shift, right. They've seemed to have been backed off anything that's negative with regards to this virus that could be connected to the person who's now control of it. It's no longer a local thing, it's a central government that's running it. And that's President Xi. And so it seem like they've tried to create this buffer for some time, not allowing him to go too much in public or perhaps he on his own has made that decision.
But nonetheless avoiding any sort of negative connotation that comes with this, and that includes some of the shortage of medical supplies, the infecting of some of the medical workers, nurses and doctors, telling us, Brooke, quite frankly, that they and their colleagues have been infected. One nurse saying that she and 30 others in her same hospital had contracted the virus because they simply didn't have the armor, they didn't have the protective gear, they didn't have the face masks at the time.
And so now seeing him in public, that suggests perhaps that they're actually in a position where they're comfortable with this containment effort, where they do feel like maybe they're getting an edge here, and that things are looking a little bit more positive going forward. But nonetheless, it was strange to have gone several days and not see
the leader of this country in what is arguably one of the biggest crisis that ever has faced China.
BALDWIN: Right. To your point off the top. Where's he been? David culver in Beijing, David, thank you.
CULVER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Back here at home, President Trump has a new nickname for the West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin calling him a quote, munchkin, as he blasted the Senator for voting to remove him from office. And well, Senator Joe Manchin is not backing down suggesting that the President is a child. The Senator joins CNN live in just a moment.
BALDWIN: The 92nd Academy Awards made history and not necessarily for all the right reasons. This year's telecast brought in the lowest ratings in the show's history, 26.3 million viewers that's down 20 percent from last year.
But those who did tune in witnessed another piece of history, the South Korean drama "Parasite" won four Oscars and became the first non-English speaking film to win Best Picture. And another fan "fave" for its' celebration of diversity was the winner for this animated short film called "Hair Love" it's about a father teaching his daughter to love her natural curls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN RUPERT TOLIVER, WINNER, ANIMATED SHORT FILM, "HAIR LOVE": We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply because in cartoons that's when we first see our movies and it's how we shape our lives and think about how we see the world.
MATTHEW A. CHERRY, WINNER, ANIMATED SHORT FILM, "HAIR LOVE": We wanted to normalize black hair. There's a very important issue out that's put there, the CROWN Act and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states, it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold who's our special guest tonight stop that from happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: There were also plenty of thought-provoking moments about the need for more women, and diverse voices both onscreen and behind the scenes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANELLE MONAE, SINGER/ACTRESS: We celebrated all the women who directed phenomenal films. And I'm so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month. TAIKA WAITITI, WINNER, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY "JOJO RABBIT": And I
dedicate this to all of the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are the original story tellers.
CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: So many great directors are nominated this year.
STEVE MARTIN, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: I don't know, Chris, I though there was something was missing from the list this year.
HILDUR GUONADOTTIR, WINNER, ORIGINAL SCORE, "JOKER": To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Amen. Congratulations to all the winners. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being here. Let's go to Washington with "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's the first primary of the 2020 race, could it also be someone's last --