Return to Transcripts main page
The White House Chief of Staff Appears Before White House Press Corp; Chief of Staff Kelly's Comments Well Received by Press; U.S. Aid to Puerto Rico is Questioned; FEMA Isn't Present in Outlying Areas of Puerto Rico Where Suffering is Great; American Woman and Her Family Freed by the Taliban After a Half-Decade; Joshua Boyle Refuses to Board Airplane Fearing Further Imprisonment. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired October 12, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. We begin with the President's Chief of Staff making a rare public appearance before the White House Press Corp moments ago. He made a couple of things clear, he said he is not leaving the White House, he is not firing anyone, it is not his job to control the President.
GENERAL JOHN F. KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I would just offer to you that although I read it all the time and pretty consistently, I'm not quitting today. I don't believe and I just talked to the President, I don't think I am being fired today and I am not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving. I would tell you this is the hardest job I've ever had. This is, in my view, the most important job I ever had. I would offer though that it is not the best job I ever had. The best job I ever had as I said many times is when I was an enlisted Marine Sergeant and Infantry man. That was the best job I ever had. So, unless things change, I'm not quitting, I'm not getting fired, and I don't think they'll fire anyone tomorrow.
BALDWIN: Which received some laughter in the room. Now just before he left the Press Briefing room, General Kelly also made notes on North Korea saying Americans should be concerned about the threat of nuclear war, and that the country, you know, he is hoping diplomacy will work.
KELLY: Probably the biggest concern, and it's not an immediate concern, if this continues in North Korea, if eventually other countries, I'll let it go at that, become nuclear powers, we already have some out there, there is a real impetus for a lot of countries to develop or buy nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO) BALDWIN: With me now Douglas Brinkly, CNN White House Historian and Michael Dantonio, CNN Contributor and Author of "The Truth About Trump." So gentlemen, wonderful to see you. Douglas, just first to you on the fact that we were briefed by someone that we rarely hear from, the Chief of Staff there at the White House cracking some jokes all the while, yes, jabbing at the media, but I stand by what I said after listening to him, he was a breath of fresh air. What did you make of how he did?
DOUGLAS BRINKLY, CNN WHITE HOUSE HISTORIAN: I thought General Kelly did a wonderful job today. He's really done a great job, I think, since he came and brought some stability to the Trump White House. He's been very shrewd to stay out of a lot of the media moments of the last few weeks. Today when he came out, no it was refreshing because we didn't know he had a sense of humor, but he came out very well and it's a banner day because he is now showing he has influence on Homeland Security. His handpicked former Chief of Staff is now potentially going to be running Homeland Security who also happens to be a cyber expert. So I think Kelly did the Trump Administration proud today by acting as professionally as he did Brooke.
BALDWIN: How do you think-we were all noting, those of us who were sitting here as we were listening to Kirstjen Nelson speak and listening to President Trump stay on the teleprompter, and he seemed to be in a good mood. Obviously he had watched his Chief of Staff brief the media. Michael, how do you think the President thought General Kelly did?
MICHAEL DANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND AUTHOR: I think he had to have viewed his performance very positively as Douglas said, this was kind of a victory for competence in the White House. I think the appointment that the President made was also a victory for competence. Maybe today they will get the sense that the country really is pulling for them to succeed. There has been, for too long, this sense that the President is resentful about those that didn't vote for him, those in the press who didn't give him the reviews he prefers. But we all want this White House to succeed. The world wants the President to succeed, and for him to get his feet under him. And if someone like General Kelly can support him in that endeavor, the President should look very favorably upon that. And today I think he got the best support he has gotten in many weeks.
BALDWIN: Today does feel different, that is what the White House is trying to put out there I think to Michael's point saying victory for competence and also listening to Dana Bash earlier, Doug how much of this between, you know we've seen the President twice today. Both times, stuck to teleprompter. We got to, you know his Chief of Staff brief the media doing a really nice job. How much of this today is trying to take all of the chaos, everything swirling around the White House, and orchestrate it into a more positive and competent picture?
BRINKLY: Just a news cycle ago people were talking about the 25th Amendment. I mean is there a way to --
BALDWIN: That was like five minutes ago.
BRINKLY: get rid of Donald Trump. Five minutes ago. Now that that's General Kelly kind of show there's a coherency going on within the Administration. He made it clear he's not going anywhere. He is happy with the way things are going. He made a joke about reading Donald Trump's tweets but not taking them all that seriously. He doesn't get him flustered like the media might portray. I thought it was a great way to stop some hemorrhaging and get a new platform. It's been amazing to me we have not had a Homeland Security Secretary. We have had events like Harvey and, you know, and hurricanes and these hitting Puerto Rico and yet we haven't had someone in place. So anytime you get someone as competent, as the new potential Homeland Secretary, it is a good day.
BALDWIN: Yes. General Kelly during the briefing was asked about some of these feuds that the President has been embroiled in--most notably Senator Corker, right, calling the White House and adult day care center. And so asked about that and the Chief of Staff was candid with reporters and Michael essentially said, listen, a lot of times he has the right to defend himself on twitter and fight back. And secondly, often times I'm the guy picking up the phone and calling X congressman or woman on Capitol Hill to say, "Hey, how can I help here?" I mean, you wrote the book on President Trump. You're familiar with how he does business, what do you make of that response knowing that General Kelly is the messenger trying to maybe improve the message?
DANTONIO: I think he is a very good messenger, especially in this environment. The President hasn't adapted all that well to dealing with Congress where he has 535 people with their own constituencies, their own backgrounds, and expertise. They're powerful people. In the President's life experience, he's pretty much dealt with people who worked for him, that have no independent power so this is a big challenge for him. I think it was notable that no one on the Republican side of the Senate really stood up to contest what Senator Corker said. Usually there is push back, and others in the GOP would say but we don't all feel the way that he feels. That has to have gotten through to the White House that maybe they've gone out too far on a limb here. Maybe the President has gone too far. He obviously turned in a different direction today. Whether he can maintain it for 24 or 48 hours, we'll discover as we all know, these news cycles are exhausting. A day feels like a week and a week feels like a year. There is plenty that may happen between now and this evening that will change our minds.
BALDWIN: Great point. Michael, thank you, and Douglas, always nice to have you on as well.
Continuing on, new information here, breaking news we have exclusive new details about the Russian-linked effort to meddle in the 2016 Presidential Election. Dylan Byers and Donnie O'Sullivan have tracked one meddling effort that bridged everything from Facebook and twitter, to Youtube, Tumblr, and even PokemonGo. So Dillon's up live. Pokemon?
DYLAN BYERS, SENIOR MEDIA AND POLITICS REPORTER: Pokemon, Brooke. BALDWIN: No way.
BYERS: This went far beyond, it did. It went far beyond Facebook, twitter, Youtube which is owned by Google. Those three companies were called to a public hearing next month. But this was so much bigger. This account called Don't Shoot Us, which was posing as part of the Black Lives Matter Movement used all of these platforms to effectively create an ecosystem where these messages highlighting police brutality, trying to galvanize African-American outrage over police brutality, those would be reinforced across a network of platforms. And with some influence, actually. We look and see Youtube videos that were viewed more than 350,000 times.
A Facebook page that had more than 250,000 likes. All of them linked to each other, linked through an account that was registered to an address that actually turned out to be a shopping mall in Illinois.
That Tumblr page promoted a Pokemon Go competition where if you went to sites where there had been alleged incidents of police brutality, and you named your Pokemon after those victims, for instance naming Pikachu Eric Gardner. If you won that competition this promotion suggested, you might win an Amazon Prime card. So the Russians were trying to exploit those in order to create this network and reinforce the idea that these were legitimate accounts being run by Americans. In fact, they were being run out of the internet research agency, that shadowy troll farm linked to the Kremlin that we've been talking about.
BALDWIN: When you heard all of this you don't have the answer to the question. How do they know who to target, where to target, what the issues would be? Did they have any kind of American help?
BYERS: Right, and Brooke, that is the-that is the big question. It is a question that Special Counsel Robert Miller is looking at.
BYERS: It is the question that congressional investigators are looking at. Was there any help or was there any overlap? That question was put to Sheryl Sandberg this morning in an interview, three times she refused to answer that question-what Facebook knew about whether or not there was any collusion. But, look, the strategy here and the sophistication in terms of understanding how to push American buttons and understanding what issues were already divisive in American society, in American culture they clearly understood that well.
And, you know, as we reported in the past, these Black Lives-these accounts imitating Black Lives Matters activist understood the target communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and then when you start to think about the ways they encouraged people to go out and actually be active in the real world through things like Pokemon Go, through organizing protests in this case with the Don't Shoot Us account. Even contacting local news organizations about rallies they were trying to organize. You begin to understand how sophisticated this effort was.
BALDWIN: It is mind boggling. Dylan Byers, keep digging. Thank you so much for that report.
BYERS: Thanks Brooke.
BALDWIN: We'll make sure we send everyone to CNN.com to read more of what you've got. Coming up next, an American woman and her family just rescued after being held captive by the Taliban for five years. But, we're learning her husband didn't want to get on the plane. Details for what that means with the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and we will be joined live by a woman who has had family members die in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Her reaction to the President's tweets today that the Federal Government just can't stay there forever.
BALDWIN: Welcome back, you're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. President Trump's response to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico is taking another twist in a series of tweets from the President this morning. He essentially threatened to cut off aid saying that the FEMA and First Responders are can't stay on the island "forever." This is happening when the Island is still without power. The majority, 80 or so percent without power and people are still struggling just to find fresh water and food. Forty-five people have died, more than 100 are still missing. The President's tweets also curious because FEMA remains involved in relief efforts for disasters that happened years ago including 2012 Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans over a decade ago. So Jaime Harper is back with us today, celebrity makeup artist, Jamie it is so nice to see you again. Although I understand there are some tough updates from you. We talked a couple weeks ago. You know you were pleading for help for Puerto Rico. Your family suffered greatly. Their homes were destroyed, they didn't have food or water, and now, I understand, one of your uncles has passed away in a hospital. I'm so sorry for your loss.
JAMIE HARPER, CELEBRITY MAKEUP ARTIST: Thank you Brooke for having me. Yes, one of my uncles passed away in (INAUDIBLE) hospital due to of lack of resources. They can't save people without energy, water, or food. It keeps getting a little bit frustrating, but we want to keep hopeful that the situation will get better and help will arrive on time.
BALDWIN: You wanted us to share this picture, let's put the picture up of supplies your mother received. Not from FEMA, you said this was from the Red Cross. Tell me what we're looking at and has she gotten anything from FEMA? Do they have also food, power, and water?
HARPER: As of five days ago that I spoke to my mom, she has still not received anything. She received that from the Mexican Red Cross. So I'm extremely thankful that they stepped in and they helped some of the areas where help was not arriving on time. There are some areas of Puerto Rico that are getting some help but it seems like the center part, Northwest of the Island, is still suffering greatly.
BALDWIN: So when you saw the President's tweets this morning, and especially the part saying, and we just heard from the Chief of Staff saying it is accurate, but, and I'm paraphrasing, that the first responders, FEMA, and military literally can't be there forever, but again bringing up issues of accountability and financial crisis of Puerto Rico, how did that sit with you? HARPER: I always like to stay away from
politics. It just-I find it hard to believe that that's really the President's words right there. That my family, my friends and loved ones, American citizens, a lot of people that are in Puerto Rico, they have fought for this great nation of America. And it's kind of like, did we hear from that from Texas, from the response of Texas or Florida? It is kind of-I still, I'm speechless because so I want our President to step in and to help our people in need--our American citizens waiting for help. Today I saw a video of this lady that was crying for help because there is no help. She still has not received any water and food. To this day, this is three weeks, three weeks is ridiculous. And she was saying that she asked FEMA for help to cover her house because it keeps getting flooded and she has elderly parents and a disabled kid. And FEMA told her she had to go online to do a request form. Mind you, most of Puerto Rico don't have cell phone services and they don't have power. They don't have food and water. So I just-I don't have any words. What do you say? And where is the help?
BALDWIN: Right. I'm so sorry for the loss of your uncle Jamie. We're going to keep staying in contact with you and sending more people down to Puerto Rico to shine a spotlight on what it looks like there. Jamie Harper, thank you for your time again.
HARPER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Moments ago the White House and the State Department sharing details of this hostage rescue involving this American woman and her family who were held by the Taliban for five years, but the story doesn't end there. Why this husband is refusing to get on this plane to bring him home. That's coming up.
BALDWIN: We are learning new details about this American woman and her family freed from the Taliban after a half a decade and why her husband reportedly refusing to leave. Kaitlin Coleman and her Canadian husband were taken hostage back in 2012 while on this trip to Afghanistan. The Taliban released this video of the couple and their three children who were born under the terror group's watch. The U.S. official tells CNN that Coleman's husband, Joshua Boyle is refusing to get on the C130 in fear of being arrested in his home country of Canada. The back story is that he was previously married to a woman whose brother spent ten years at Guantanamo Bay for fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. So, apparently they're all still back overseas. Where do we go from here? Moments ago the State Department attempted to answer that key question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You repeated several times coming home. Where exactly is the family now and are they in fact coming back to either the U.S. or Canada?
HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: I'm not going to be able to confirm any of that for you. I know the family had asked for some privacy at this time and some of that will be up to the family to be able to explain where they decide to go and when they decide to go there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When you say coming home it doesn't mean-
NAUERT: I just mean out of captivity. I mean the family obviously was in a very dire situation. You had all seen the videos of the family, and they were in distress. So when I say coming home, it doesn't mean here necessarily.
BALDWIN: With me now Shawn Turner, CNN National Security Analyst and former Spokesperson for U.S. Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Shamila Chaudhary, Former White House Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan and a Senior Fellow at New America. So Shawn and Shamila, thank you so much for being with me. Shawn to you first, it's impossible first of all to put ourselves in their shoes and having been, who knows what it was like for the last five years, but to think the husband is not jumping on the first plane out of there is befuddling to people sitting here watching. What do you make of that?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST AND FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR US POLICY IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: Absolutely. And to your point Brooke, the first thing is that it's very fortunate this family has been freed; they have small children. As you pointed out, they have been going through this for quite some time. You know, as far as Joshua Boyle not getting on the airplane, there are a lot of questions to be answered here. We do know and I talked to officials in the community they were aware that he was questioned at some point in the past, it's unclear right now exactly what those Canadian officials were questioning him about, but there is no clear indication that there are charges pending against him.
So, there are a lot of questions to be answered as to what exactly he believes he would be sought for. But the interesting thing Brooke, is at this point they really don't have to come back to the United States or Canada. It's going to be a challenge for investigators to figure out exactly what he is concerned about and I think the Canadian officials are also going to have to perhaps be a little bit more forthcoming with regards to whether or not there are some charges pending. BALDWIN: Shamila, you know this part of the world extraordinarily well. So I want to ask you about, especially since it was Pakistani security forces who helped secure the release of the relation with them and the U.S., but first this is what the President said earlier, praising the Pakistani Government for helping this rescue.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They worked very hard on this--