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Mary Trump is Interviewed about Donald Trump; Evacuation Slowing in Afghanistan; California's Recall Election; Tony Hale is Interviewed about Sitcoms. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 26, 2021 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Developing overnight, former President Trump threatening to invoke executive privilege to block the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection from obtaining a wide range of documents from government agencies, including some that relate to members of Trump's inner circle. The request seeks call logs, telephone records, schedules for Trump's children, former First Lady Melania Trump, as well as several others close to the former president.

Joining us now is Mary Trump, niece of the former president, and author of the new book "The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal." The book is out now.

Mary, thanks so much for being with us.

I'm wondering what you make of the former president's promise to invoke executive privilege. Not from a legal standpoint, but with your psychological background here, if he's so proud of his behavior in the days surrounding January 6th, why does he want to hide it?

MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "THE RECKONING: OUR NATION'S TRAUMA AND FINDING A WA TO HEAL": Yes, that's a really good question. He is desperate for the truth to remain hidden here. He also knows that he no longer has the powers and protections of the Oval Office to allow him to skate by this.

I was actually quite pleased at the depth and breadth of the request being made by the committee because it shows that they understand the seriousness of what we faced and what we continue to face. And Donald will do everything in his power to stonewall, to avoid, to evade and to deny them the information they want. And he will give everybody else the same marching orders.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting because some of the requests, the nature of them are sort of right in your wheelhouse also. They're looking for documents pertaining to the mental stability of the former president or his fitness for office in the days between the insurrection and the inauguration. From where you would sit, how would you assess his state of mind then?

TRUMP: During that 79 days or 75 days between the election being called for Biden and his inauguration, I think Donald was probably in a more desperate state than he's ever been in his life. First of all, he just suffered a humiliating defeat, which, in his world view, is unthinkable. So that was absolutely freaking him out.

On the other hand, he was still trying, one, to spread the big lie, which would somehow allow him to cling to power because, again, without it he is subject to all sorts of criminal investigations and lawsuits. So I think we saw over that time a withdrawal. He apparently forgot that COVID even existed during that period of time. And we saw increasingly desperate attempts to spin and to get out of having to face the responsibility for his actions. And I think one of the results of that was the insurrection of January 6th, which he incited.

BERMAN: So your new book talks about what you call our nation's trauma and finding a way to heal. And you do think that your uncle was responsible for some of this trauma, dividing this nation.

I wonder what you say to those who say, look, we just need to turn the page. Stop talking about him. Look forward, not backward. What's your answer to that?

TRUMP: My answer is, we can't, unfortunately. He's being -- he remains relevant because the Republican Party have chosen to allow him to remain relevant. They continue to empower him. They continue to seek his endorsements and his permission. And he continues to control the base.

And the other thing I would say is that one of the reasons we're in the mess we're in is because historically, as a country, we have never been able to hold ourselves accountable, let alone powerful leaders who have either committed crimes or committed unconstitutional behaviors.


And so there's a direct line from that to Donald. And I think it's time we don't turn the page and we take a long, hard look at where we are and how we got here and why we continue to be so vulnerable to autocratic, cruel and incompetent leaders like Donald.

BERMAN: You know, you've been asked repeatedly recently if you think he will run again. A more interesting question I thought was, you were asked if you thought his kids might seek higher office.

I want to read the response that you gave. You wrote, my uncle is such a buffoon, but he does have charisma. If you met him, for the first ten seconds you would see it. After that you would realize that he's a total psychopath, but a lot of people are very susceptible to his kind of charisma. Donald Junior and Ivanka don't have any of that. They don't survive politically without him. They don't survive in business without him. No, I don't see that, them running. Hopefully they'll all end up in jail.

I'm sort --

TRUMP: Well, you go, I'm pulling my punches again.

BERMAN: Yes, I just wanted to -- wanted to give you a chance to explain what you meant by all of that.

TRUMP: One of the reasons Donald got as far as he got is -- besides the fact that there's always somebody around to enable him who has more power and more intelligence than he does, is he does have charisma. He is charismatic. It's a charisma that doesn't appeal to me, but it clearly appeals to tens of millions of people in this country.

I don't see anybody else at the top of the Republican Party who has the same kind of sway with other -- with their voters. And it's certainly not -- certainly not my cousins. I -- I just don't see how -- it would be like lightning striking four times in the same place. I don't see it happening. I don't think they have the -- first of all, they don't have the history. Donald had a 20, 30, 40-year career in the media.

So they don't have the reach. They don't have the connections. And, again, without him they don't have the power either. So if -- if they want to try, that would -- that would be interesting because it would tell us a lot about the current state of the Republican Party if they were accepted.

BERMAN: Mary Trump, the book is, "The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal."

Nice talking with you this morning. Thanks for coming on.

TRUMP: Thank you.

KEILAR: The military evacuation mission in Afghanistan is slowing down now. More than 13,000 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan over the last 24 hours. Yes, that is a large number. It is starting to dip, though. It's far below the number of evacuees from the previous two days.

Let's get now to CNN's Barbara Starr, live for us at the Pentagon.

Where are we in this evacuation, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, Brianna, you know, the days, the hours are now ticking by. The U.S. set to be out of Afghanistan by next Tuesday, August 31st. So it's now fairly inevitable that they are going to have to slow it down a bit. They've gotten an awful lot of folks out, as you said, 13,000 in this last reporting period. It was 19,000 previously in the previous 24-hour period. It does reflect a slowing down. They are trying desperately to identify and get all the Americans out that they can.

The question now, of course, is the Afghans, those with the documents, those with either green cards or special visas. It may be now at the point where it will be very difficult for them not just to get to the airport, but get through the Taliban checkpoints and even get to the gates that are manned by U.S. troops. And whether they are allowed on, whether there will be flights and space for them, very much as the hours tick down will remain a huge question.

The U.S. military clearly looking to the point in the coming hours where it is going to have to look after itself and get those more than 5,000 U.S. troops on board airplanes, get their equipment and weapons packed up and be out of there by the deadline. So the inevitable is coming. Tough as it is to say, the hours are drawing closer.


KEILAR: Yes, no U.S. military casualties, and really this is a matter of holding your breath, right, because there are serious risks out there.

Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon. Thank you.

BERMAN: So could Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom actually lose the recall election in the very blue state of California? We have the latest on the race now just weeks away.

KEILAR: And later our mystery sitcom guest star from not one but two acclaimed comedies. Who is it? I don't know. We're going to find out. I literally have no idea.



KEILAR: The Republican-backed effort in California to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is now in its final days. Ballots are arriving in the mailboxes of every registered voter in the state ahead of the September 14th special election.

And joining us now to talk about this is Scott Rodd. He is the state government reporter for Cap Radio News in Sacramento.

Scott, thanks for being with us.

I think anyone paying attention to this has seen Gavin Newsom and they have seen a lot of Gavin Newsom. He's been fighting very hard for people to vote no in the recall election. He does have a registration advantage, a considerable one, of 2-1. Why is he fighting so hard?

SCOTT RODD, STATE GOVERNMENT REPORTER, CAP RADIO NEWS: Well, it all comes down to motivation. There are absolutely more Democrats in the state of California. But if Republicans are coming out in greater numbers to the ballot box, if they are sending in their ballots in greater numbers, that's -- well, that's left Democrats concerned. And so that motivation question is key.

So you've seen Newsome coming out and going door to door with his volunteers. [08:45:02]

You've also seen him plastering the TV ad campaigns around to try to get people, not only motivated, but also aware that this election is coming up.

KEILAR: So what's the state of the race right now? And what are you hearing from California voters about how they're reflecting on this?

RODD: Well, the race is definitely tightening. We've had some recent polling that shows that Newsom still has a slight edge, but definitely closer -- too close for comfort, I'm sure, if you ask anyone in his camp. You have Larry Elder, who has been at the top of the pack for his -- for challengers, and then Kevin Paffrath, who is second behind him and then also a number of other Republicans who are running. Kevin Paffrath is a Democrat.

And I'm hearing from voters, you know, that, of course it depends on who you ask. Again, if you ask a Republican, often, at least in my experience, they're very clued into this election. They've been paying close attention. A number of people I've talked to have campaigned, have gone out, held signs, have gone door to door of also gathered signatures to get this recall qualified.

Democrats, you know, again, it comes down to that motivation question. Some people who are clued in, they're, obviously, motivated to ensure that the governor stays in office. But many others aren't as locked into this election. Again, it's a special election. It's an unusual time that it's falling on. And it's not very typical.

KEILAR: So what happens if, you know, let's say he does lose, how does that change the dynamics there in California?

RODD: It changes them considerably, at least when you think about what signal this sends. And so if you have the most powerful person in the state suddenly switching parties, that's pretty significant.

Now, on the other hand, Democrats do have a significant majority in the legislature. And so you'll likely see a tug-of-war between, you know, those two and you'll likely see things being sent to the governor that are vetoed and perhaps having vetoes overridden.

But you'll also just see a change in paradigm in the governor's office. Newsom has led the -- California in a very specific way. He has made clear that he wants to be on the vanguard of Democratic politics in the U.S.. And with someone replacing him, even a Democrat, it will definitely be a change.

KEILAR: Do you think he might lose?

RODD: I don't like to personally weigh in on these, but I can say it's absolutely a possibility. And you're seeing that both in terms of, you know, how Newsom has reacted to this election, him continuing to push to get volunteers out on the ground. And he has the war chest for it, too. He's raised $54 million. And so you can see from the reaction from his camp that they

absolutely are taking this seriously, and it's possible that he could lose.

KEILAR: Yes, no prediction from you, Scott, to be clear. But, look, he has reason to worry very clearly.

Scott Rodd, thanks for being with us.

RODD: Thank you.

KEILAR: And here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:30 a.m. ET, White House COVID briefing.

11:30 a.m. ET, Biden meets Israeli prime minister.

12:00 p.m. ET, White House press briefing.


KEILAR: Just ahead, we reveal today's mystery sitcom guest, and this time no idea how this is going to work because neither John nor I have any idea who it is. I guess we'll get some clues after this. We'll see.



BERMAN: It is time for "The Good Stuff."

We are celebrating the "History of the Sitcom" with an all-new original series right here on CNN. And we have a mystery guest this morning.

KEILAR: So, if you've been tuning into this, you know that every week one of us has been giving clues to the other one to see if they can guess who our guest is. This week we both don't know. We have no idea because this actor has starred in shows that we both love, so we're just going to, you know, face off and see who guesses first.

BERMAN: All right, so we're reading these clues to you, and we're only seeing them for the first time. So I'm reading out loud here.

This actor was in not one but two of the most popular comedies of the 21st century.

KEILAR: You got that, John?

BERMAN: Brianna Keilar.

KEILAR: No. No idea. I've got to pass.

OK, next, what do we have here? In show one, this actor played the youngest brother in an unusual family.

BERMAN: I think I know the answer. Do you want me to wait?

KEILAR: Yes, just -- no, just do it because that gives us more time to talk to whoever it is.

BERMAN: Do it?

KEILAR: I have no idea.

BERMAN: It's the -- it's the guy from -- it's "Arrested Development" and "Veep." It's -- it's a -- it's Buster -- yes, so it's Tony Hale, yes? Tony Hale.

KEILAR: Oh, my God, this is why you want to partner up with John Berman for anything.

BERMAN: Who is Tony --

KEILAR: You know why I --

BERMAN: Tony Hale.

First of all, those are the funniest shows and funnies characters of all time.

KEILAR: Totally.

BERMAN: But my boys are watching the "Amazing Benedict Society" right now, right, and so you're all over -- you're all over the TV screen in my house.


It is such an honor to meet you. Thanks for joining us.

TONY HALE, ACTOR, PLAYED BUSTER BLUTH ON "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT": Nice to meet you guys. I love -- my favorite was, it's the guy -- it's the guy -- it was tough to get the name (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: It was. I mean it's more than "the guy."

KEILAR: It's early.

BERMAN: It's more than -- when I said "the guy," I mean it's "the guy." It's like all caps, "the guy." You're the only guy who could be so funny in two shows like that.

HALE: Oh, I love it. Thanks for having me. This is like those old shows where it was like, "This is Your Life," and people would come in to you and surprise them.

KEILAR: Yes. It's -- no, it's actually -- this -- this segment, to be honest, scares the hell out of me because I'm always afraid of embarrassing myself.

But I'm so excited to meet you today on the show. HALE: Well, thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: And, you know, just knowing a little bit about your career, I know that you -- I mean, everyone knows you, but you kind of took an untraditional route to get to where you are. Can you -- can you tell us a little bit about that?

HALE: Well, I was -- I was in New York for many, many years and I did commercials for a really long time. I was always the guy -- I was always cast as the guy who was not all there.

BERMAN: That guy.

HALE: Which (INAUDIBLE) changed -- changed much to my future career. I'm still that guy. But -- and then I booked "Arrested Development" in 2003 and just had been here for 18 years. And, thankfully, still working.

And, yes, I do the show "Mysterious Benedict Society" right now. I'm so glad your kids are watching. I have a really -- it's a really fun show to do.

BERMAN: It's great and you're terrific in it.

Look, "Veep," for those of us who have covered politics for years, you know, that show was -- it was, first of all, hilarious, but also, I mean, elements of it that are so sort of spot on that you watch it and are -- and it's -- it's doubly important there. You know, how --

HALE: It's scary (ph).

BERMAN: Right. I mean how key were you in to sort of real life politics? Was it more real life politics or real life comedy or where was the line there for you?

HALE: I mean my character Gary was -- he was what's called a bag man, where so he would -- he would kind of always have whatever Selina Meyer needed, who was played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I -- my character didn't really have to know much about politics, he just had to know what designer she was wearing that day. And then what lipstick color she needed. So I didn't really have to be that tuned into politics. But it was definitely, you know, because politics is very clean and very easy, so -- no, it was -- the writers had a lot to work with, especially with the last administration.

KEILAR: Yes, it's funny, we see your character, you know, clipping her seat belt in, like you were her mom.

OK, I want to play a little clip of you from "Arrested Development."


JESSICA WALTER, ACTRESS: Buster, thank God you're back. There's no shame in being a coward.

HALE: A coward? I'm not a coward. Would a coward have this? WALTER: What the hell is that?

HALE: These are my awards, mother, from Army. The seal is from marksmanship and the gorilla is for sand racing.


KEILAR: All right, tell us how -- like, tell us how you approached this character, what kind of interpretation you brought to it, how you conceived of doing this.

HALE: It was -- well, I mean he was -- Buster was pretty much a -- I would say maybe like a seven-year-old trapped in an adult male's body.


HALE: And just -- he also had an incredibly co-dependent relationship with his mother. There was one scene, I think it was season four or five, when my -- the woman -- Jessica Walter, who recently passed away, but she played my mother Lucille, and she was on house arrest and she couldn't smoke in her apartment. And so she got me, her son, Buster, to -- when she smoked -- to inhale the smoke from her mouth and then exhale it outside on the balcony, like a baby bird feeding from its mother. And it was just such a picture of dysfunction. And that was just one of many twisted plot lines.

BERMAN: So, listen, on top of everything else, you've done all this incredible work. And you manage asthma, right? You have asthma, which is something you deal with every day. And you're working now with AstraZeneca to help others with asthma.

What do you want us to know about that?

HALE: Oh, well, thanks for asking.

Yes, I've -- I started work at AstraZeneca. I've struggled with asthma for a really, really long time. And I kind of always thought -- oh, I kind of always thought that asthma was triggered by something outside the body and it's triggered by stuff inside the body. You can find out with a free blood test.

BERMAN: Tony Hale, listen, thank --

HALE: I'm hearing people count. Is that just me.


KEILAR: No, sorry, you're not supposed to hear that, Tony.

HALE: But it was like -- I just kind of learned that there's this blood test you can take that you can learn about your treatment, and it was a big eye opener for me.


So I'm happy to work with them. BERMAN: That's terrific.

Listen, Tony Hale, thank you for coming on this morning. Thank you for surprising us. You truly played some of the most iconic roles in the comedies that we love so much. Great to see you.

KEILAR: Thank you.

BERMAN: And you can watch the full history of the sitcom series on demand and on CNNGo. CNN's coverage continues right now.