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Former U.S. Prisoner in Russia Trevor Reed Discusses Biden Administration's Offer of Prisoner Swap with Russia for American Citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan; Sen. Joe Manchin Announces Agreement on Senate Spending Bill; Former President Trump Hosts Saudi Arabian Backed Golf Tour on Bedminster Course in New Jersey. Aired 8- 8:30a ET
Aired July 28, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: There are these robust efforts. There may be hope.
TREVOR REED, FORMER U.S. MARINE RELEASED FROM RUSSIA IN APRIL: Obviously, I'm not sure that they are aware of that. In Russian prison, it's sometimes difficult to receive information there from the outside. They do kind of like to keep you isolated there. I know that there were times where I didn't receive any outside news for weeks at a time. So I'm not sure if they're aware that that's on the table, or if anyone has told them that. But I'm sure that they have a lot of hope if they have heard that.
KEILAR: And what about their families? I'm sure you discussed this with your parents and your family. How do you think their families may be feeling right now?
REED: I think that they're probably overjoyed that the United States has taken this step and that President Biden and the White House have gone ahead and put this offer on the table. I think that's something that the White House should continue to do, not just for Paul and Brittney, but for all Americans who are wrongfully detained. So there's over 65 Americans at least who are wrongfully detained, and I hope the administration continues to do that.
KEILAR: In the case of your release, Trevor, we didn't know that you were coming home until you were well out of Russian airspace. It went from you were detained and there were efforts to get you out, but all of a sudden it was happening. Why do you think that this is being done differently?
REED: I think maybe that could signal a change in policy in the administration, maybe they're going to be more open to doing exchanges. It could be the fact that they're trying to show Russia how important it is to this administration to get this done. It could be a let lot of things. I'm obviously not an expert at that, but I think that it's a good sign for sure.
KEILAR: Are you concerned, Trevor, that this may be leading to a growing trend of Americans being detained wrongfully by Russia, that this might actually incentivize Russia?
REED: No, absolutely not. So they took Paul Whelan three-and-a-half ago, and immediately asked for a prisoner exchange. And the United States refused that. After that they took me, and wrongfully detained me there. They asked again for a prisoner exchange. The United States refused to do that. And after that they took Brittney. So, if that's the argument, that this incentivizes taking hostages or taking people and wrongfully detaining them, I think that the evidence shows that they're going to do that anyway, even if they don't receive what they're asking for.
KEILAR: Trevor, you've been home for months now. You're always understated about how you're doing, but certainly it's a recovery to be back after being detained so long. How are you doing?
REED: I'm doing great. I'm getting better every day. I've been working out, eating healthy, and just kind of relaxing, taking a break from everything. I think that's important to do after a situation like that.
KEILAR: Yes. Well, I mean, I know you're watching this and hoping that Brittney and Paul are going to be in that situation very soon, Trevor. And we appreciate you being with us. Trevor Reed, thanks.
REED: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We hope they're in the situation, that would be wonderful.
So you almost never see this in Washington. You never see Washington surprised like it is this morning. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced he has struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. This is a major piece of legislation they say would pay down the national debt, cut healthcare costs, fight climate change, and battle inflation. Former treasury secretary Larry Summers joined us last hour. He reportedly held conversations with Joe Manchin that helped convince him to sign on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: This bill is fighting inflation and it has got a whole set of collateral benefits as well, but it's fair to call it the Inflation Reduction Act because it is directly fighting the rate of inflation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So joining us now is former senior adviser to Joe Manchin Jonathan Kott. And Jonathan, full disclosure, you sat with us, and you told us Manchin did not walk away, he isn't gone for good, he hasn't shut down negotiations. He's just stepped back for a minute and said he wants to hear more. So you were 10 billion percent right on this.
JONATHAN KOTT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO SEN. JOE MANCHIN: It turns out having worked for Joe Manchin for a number of years, you learn that when he says I'm not walking away, he's not actually walking away. He wanted more time. He always wants to get a deal done. It is the former governor in him, it never leaves him. But he wanted to take more time and make sure he got it right. And that's what he did.
BERMAN: What is your sense of what is making this OK for Joe Manchin? And just to be clear, some of the things this includes, an historic investment in battling climate change, more money spent on battling climate change than has ever been spent before, the first time Medicare will be able to negotiate drug prices. What did he see here that made him comfortable?
KOTT: I don't think it was something that he saw. He looked at the whole package, he looked at where we were, he talked to a bunch of economists. I would say the economists he listens to most are the people with the 304 area code in West Virginia who call him every day and tell him what their concerns are. So he took that time. He took out some pieces that he knew would hurt small businesses and would raise inflation, he adjusted it a little bit, and he got it exactly right -- I won't say exactly right. He got it right for the moment, and he thinks this is going to help the country. But he did -- he just didn't walk away. He never walks away.
BERMAN: You talked to economists in the 617, not just 304. He talked to Larry Summers, Harvard professor, who told him that this fights inflation. And they named this the, basically, inflation act, anti- inflation act of 2022. Why is that important?
KOTT: Manchin has been talking about inflation for almost two years now. In fact, he was made fun of last year when he brought it up as a concern. I will tell you it's something he's talked to me about since 2013. He's talked to me about the debt and deficit. He wouldn't support certain bills because he said I can't leave this debt to my grandkids. I just can't do it. Even when they were politically right, he's been talking about this for 10 years. So I think he saw the opportunity. This is one of first times you're ever going to see Congress pass a bill that actually starts paying down the debt and deficit. We just don't do that in D.C. anymore.
BERMAN: They say it is going to pay down $300 billion.
KOTT: That might be the biggest paydown ever.
BERMAN: Is he going to go out and sell this now? He signed on to it. Is he going to go out and sell this is a good thing to spend this much money to fight climate change?
KOTT: He's going to sell it to the people of West Virginia. Those are the only people he needs to sell it to. And he always said, if I can't go home and explain it and can't vote for it, I think he'll probably be on Hoppy Kercheval's show this morning at 10:05 explaining to the people of West Virginia. And once he's out of COVID isolation, he'll be going around the state telling everybody what's in it for them and how it is going to help make their lives better.
BERMAN: Because there are Republicans out there this morning saying Joe Manchin, how could you do this? You walked away from this bill. This is raising taxes on corporations.
KOTT: Something he's always been in favor of. He has always said you've got to pay your fair share. Those Republicans should have listened to him when he said he's not walking away.
BERMAN: Jonathan Kott, you told us so. Thank you for being with us this morning. You look sharp this morning.
So Donald Trump tees off at his resort as it hosts the controversial Saudi golf league. Legendary sports journalist Bob Costas right there joins us live.
KEILAR: And we are just minutes away from the release of the GDP report and this week's jobless claims. And just in this morning, JetBlue announcing a deal to buy Spirit Airlines. We'll have the details ahead.
KEILAR: This morning, we've learned that two times Masters champion Bubba Watson is leaving the PGA tour for the controversial Saudi- backed LIV golf series. Watson is just the latest player to join the breakaway league. And this morning ahead of hosting the series at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, former President Trump is going to tee off with two other former PGA golfers who also joined this LIV league. Trump has been criticized by families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack for hosting the tournament and for working with the man that U.S. intelligence says is responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," Trump claims the controversy around Khashoggi's killing has, quote, totally died down.
Joining us to discuss is CNN contributor Bob Costas. This is, Bob, this is all happening -- it is happening so close to the World Trade Center. It is happening in the shadow of it.
BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And some 700 plus of the victims on 9/11, 21 years ago, were from New Jersey, some of them from the Bedminster area. So the 9/11 families are very hurt about this, very upset. There will be protests outside the grounds.
But if we've learned anything about Donald Trump, which it shouldn't have taken very long to learn, is that he doesn't care about any principle, including American democracy, or any person. He cares about nothing other than his own perceived self-interests. And then there is the aspect of grievance and revenge. He was upset because the PGA pulled out following January 6th, the last year, following those events, they pulled the PGA tournament from the Bedminster course. So this is an element of grievance on his part because, as we all know, he is, after all, the most persecuted man in American history, and he's qualified to say that because he's a scholar of history.
BERMAN: He -- Donald Trump saying that Jamal Khashoggi issue has totally died down as a justification, that's a different place than even the golfers who are trying to justify it. What do you think of that?
COSTAS: Well, what can you possibly say? People who want to believe what they want to believe will accept that. People who live in this reality will not.
KEILAR: Because the golfers, I mean, their line is they say golf is a force for good.
KEILAR: It is sort of the way they try to twist it and say, it's not sports washing. This is actually us using golf for good. That's not where Donald Trump is coming from here.
COSTAS: No. It's not. As we've discussed before on this program, if the LIV golf tour was backed by anything other than this sort of association with the Saudis, and we mentioned Jamal Khashoggi, but there is a whole list of other human rights violations and the connection to 9/11 itself, or backed by any other entity, then it would just be a rival tour. And as we noted before, Greg Norman and many of the players on the tour have issues with the PGA. And those issues could be addressed if there were an alternative, as long as that alternative was not backed by an objectionable regime. That's the entire crux of the issue.
BERMAN: And, again, we talked about it here before, Bob, but I want you to make the distinction, you see this as different than President Biden going to Saudi Arabia and meeting with the Saudi crown prince.
COSTAS: Well, I don't know I'm qualified to talk about that, but over the course of history leaders of adversarial nations have had to meet for reasons of real politics.
I'll say this, just a personal thing, a fist bump is usually an affirmation. You shake hands with opponents. The handshake comes from, you know, war, long ago, I'm putting out my hand to indicate I'm not holding a weapon.
You fist bump someone when it is an affirmation, good job, good to see you, you're my pal. I thought the fist bump was worse than a handshake, but that's probably a trivial matter.
KEILAR: Why do you see this different then? Some people who defended the LIV tour said, well, what about sponsors of the PGA who do business in Saudi Arabia, you know, why aren't you all over that, why isn't that so bad? Or athletes who go to countries with questionable human rights records, why isn't that the same thing?
COSTAS: Well, there is a bit of what-aboutism because who says that any of us necessarily approve of those business relationships. But the difference here is we don't know who any of those people are. The Saudis are interested in having Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and whom ever else and now Bubba Watson because that puts a certain happy face to some in the audience, on this entire endeavor because people feel warm feelings, they're entertained by sports. That's different.
Also, if you go to China because the Olympics are there, you as an Olympian are not in business with the Chinese. You may even say I wish the Olympics weren't here, but that's where they're being held. In this case, there is a direct business relationship between each of these golfers and the Saudi regime.
BERMAN: Donald Trump has a bit of a history trying to get into pro sports in a major way.
COSTAS: Yeah, he wanted to buy the Buffalo Bills at one time, wanted to get into the NFL, owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL.
BERMAN: Doug Flutie.
COSTAS: Doug Flutie on the one hand, Herschel Walker on the other, another bright shining political light. So, yeah, he has that history and we know that he will nurse a grievance for a very long time.
KEILAR: Do you see this template playing out with other leagues, baseball, et cetera, basketball?
COSTAS: You know, Mark Cuban who owns the Dallas Mavericks expressed some concern about that. But I see it maybe, you know, maybe in tennis, you could do it. But team sports are dependent upon a certain kind of history. You can't just put on an exhibition in which Aaron Judge might hit 62 home runs or Showy Ohtani might do what he does, outside of the context of the competition, the records within that competition. Team sports are different.
BERMAN: Also, there is something about a golfer and tennis player in a way are independent contractors, right?
COSTAS: That's right. That's where I'm at.
BERMAN: The teams are businesses and organizations in and of themselves. I don't know how you do it.
COSTAS: Yeah, the apparatus is so much larger than just saying, okay, we're having a golf tournament, you show up here, you tee off. The apparatus of a league, the scheduling, and everything else that goes into it. And there have been rival leagues through the years, but all those rival leagues to the extent in which they were successful, they were absorbed.
The AFL was absorbed by the NFL. Part of the ABA absorbed by the NBA. WHA absorbed by the NHL.
KEILAR: But it's -- when you have an individual sport like golf, it means it is your decision. You can't hang it on a league or on a team. So it is your decision to go. So, like, a Bubba Watson, this is -- what does this do to a legacy for Bubba Watson? He was once number two in the world.
COSTAS: And he won the masters twice.
KEILAR: Twice. So, now what?
COSTAS: Supposedly, the four majors, the British Open, the U.S. Open, the PGA and the Masters, are not affected by the suspensions which the PGA tour has handed out to these players. So they can still play in the majors and your legacy is largely determined by what you do in the Majors.
Nobody is saying that these players don't have the right to do it. The question is it the right thing to do. And also we want to talk about golf grievances, we mentioned the majors, just crosses my mind, that the British Open is often contested at Turnberry, but the royal and ancient club has not extended any olive branch to Donald Trump, which is probably also sticking in his craw.
KEILAR: I will say, as a junior golfer who went to watch Greg Norman hit sand shots and he was amazing, it is disappointing to watch. I had no idea so many years later I would be disappointed to see what happened here.
Bob, it's always lovely to have you. Thank you for being with us this morning.
COSTAS: It was lovely. Thank you.
KEILAR: We aim to please.
Dozens of former Republicans and Democratic officials coming together to create a third political party.
They know history is not on their side. They say this time is different. Is it really?
BERMAN: The Department of Justice obtains a warrant to search the cell phone of a former Trump lawyer and author of the so-called coup memo, John Eastman. What they're expecting to find.
KEILAR: Dozens of former Republican and Democratic officials are announcing a new national political third party called Forward. In an op-ed in "The Washington Post," key members write their goal is to, quote, build a new unifying political party for the majority of Americans who want to move past divisiveness and reject extremism.
Our next guest co-wrote the op-ed, Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate, and Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA administrator and the former Republican governor of New Jersey, both with us now.
Okay, governor, to you first. And I'm going to challenge you guys on this, because this so rarely works. So why will your effort work?
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, we're in a different time now --
ANDREW YANG, CO-CHAIR, FORWARD PARTY: Well, the appetite -- go ahead, Christine.
WHITMAN: -- 50 -- okay.
When you have 50 percent of the American people saying that they are registered independent of the voters of registered voters, a voter independent, people are sick and tired of what they're seeing in Washington and the fact that nothing major is getting done, it is frustrating. We have big problems and we want to see them resolved.
And so, we need to get back to a time when people will talk to one another and we're talking about bringing people together, you can keep your party label, Republican, Democrat, independent, doesn't matter, but let's work together to solve problems, let's elect those candidates who understand that our electoral process is the best in the world, and it is secure. And we need to pick those candidates who will say I'll work across the aisle because I want to get things done.
KEILAR: So, Andrew, I want to correct myself, I said it so rarely works, it actually never worked, to be clear. Let's talk about the obstacles here and one might actually be the policies. Where -- because, look, there are significant differences, policy-wise, between Democrats and Republicans -- what are your policies going to be that you can actually agree on?
YANG: Sixty-two percent of Americans now want a third party, a record high, because they can see that our leaders aren't getting it done.
When you ask about the policy goals, the fact is the majority of Americans actually agree on really even divisive issues. The most divisive issues of the day like abortion or firearms. There is actually a common sense coalition position on these issues and just about every other issue under the sun.
The tag line on the party is it is not left or right, it's forward. And when you think about what that would mean on each issue, actually the policy becomes pretty clear when you just ask the American people. The American people are fed up by the fact that our leaders aren't actually responsive to the needs or the will of communities around the country.
KEILAR: So, Governor, let's take that issue. Guns, for instance, what would the policy be that would unite enough people to make a third party successful?
WHITMAN: Well, first of all, understand what we're going to be doing is holding a series of listening sessions around the country to talk to people about that very issue.
But I can tell you right now that you've seen in every poll, the majority of the American people believe there should be some kinds of restrictions, a waiting period. There should be a background check. Frankly, you don't want to put guns in the hands of people who had no training. So you -- people would like to see some training. Those are the issues around which we can coalesce. We're not going to
solve everything. We're not going to solve everybody's problem and you're not going to make everybody happy. As you rightly point out, there is a great deal of division on some of these issues.
But when you start peeling back that onion, it is amazing how much common ground you can find and then you have a position from which to move forward. And that's what we need to do. Once you start that process, there is going to be no stopping it, quite frankly.
KEILAR: Andrew, guns, some agreement in Congress recently on this. Is that not enough?
YANG: Well, when you talk about the need for a political realignment, the fact is Abraham Lincoln won as a third party candidate with 39 percent of the vote. We can all tell that this system is failing the American people. 88 percent of Americans think we're on the wrong track. We know that polarization is just getting worse. Not better.
Leaders like Governor Whitman have crossed party lines and that's exactly what the American people want to see more of. The fact is this two-party system is disintegrating before our eyes, and is uniquely subject to authoritarianism. If you have one of the two major parties head down a dark path, the entire system can go dark, which is not the way other democracies function and not the way the Founding Fathers imagined our country functioning either.
KEILAR: Different party system, though, right, over time.
Governor, how do you get past the issue of closed primaries? That is key if you're going to make any sort of third party successful rather than just a spoiler.
WHITMAN: No, that's absolutely true. It is a challenge, but it has happened before. We have gotten on the ballot. I was part of a process, gosh, now must have been 12 years ago where we were able to get on ballot, enough states to get the requisite votes and the Electoral College to qualify for the primary -- for the debates, which is one of the things you want the sanctioned debates.
You can do it. It is not going to be easy. We're not saying this is going to happen overnight. This is something we're going to be working on, but we believe and really know that there is a hunger in the American people for something else besides what they're being given.
What we're saying is we'll give you an alternative. If you're interested in this, get in touch with us, get in touch with us now, let us know. We can build coalitions in your community, start talking about these issues, and let's move forward. That's what we're talking about.
KEILAR: All right, Andrew, who is joining you? Elon Musk?