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New Poll Says Americans Sharply Divided Over NFL Protests; Trump Says He Will Decide Tom Price's Fate Tonight; Trump Said Previous Investment in Puerto Rice "In Trouble". Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: As another Sunday approaches from America's favorite sport, the country will once again focus their attention how NFL players choose to observe the national anthem. And after a week of conversations that feel like Americans are extremely divided over the issue. CNN actually has new, brand-new poll numbers that shows exactly how Americans feel. So, one of the questions is when asked whether athletes should kneel in protest during the national anthem, 43 percent said it was the right thing to do. 49 percent said it was wrong. With me to break this down a bit further, Jennifer Agiesta, our director of polling and election analytics. Jennifer, so those were the first numbers. Then when you look a little deeper and look at race, that's really significant.

JENNIFER AGIESTA, CNN DIRECTOR OF POLLING AND ELECTION ANALYTICS: It is. What's really interesting about this poll is we have these close divides on a lot of the questions about the basic protests themselves. But when you look below the numbers, there are stark divisions between the way that white people and black people feel about these protests and along party lines. Looking at the racial breakdown. You have almost six in ten whites saying that the athletes are doing the wrong thing by protesting during the national anthem. Among blacks, it's really almost the opposite. Only 12 percent say that they're doing the wrong thing. And Hispanics, 34 percent. Most of the people in those sorts of nonwhite groups are saying these protests are the right way to go.

BALDWIN: Additionally, how are people reacting to the president's criticism of athletes?

AGIESTA: There you see something different. Although we have this really close divide on whether the protests themselves are right or wrong, there's a very clear majority, 60 percent, saying that the president did the wrong thing in criticizing these athletes. His overall approval rating typically looks like a 60/40 split. You're sort of seeing a similar divide here.

BALDWIN: All right, Jennifer Agiesta, the woman breaking down all the numbers for us here at CNN, thank you.

Now just for a broader conversation, let's just talk more about how the country's reacting to this divisive issue. With me, Montel Williams, former host of "The Montel Williams Show." He's also a Marine, a navy veteran. Montel, always, always a pleasure. How are you, sir? MONTEL WILLIAMS, FORMER HOST, "THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW": Always a

pleasure to be here, Brooke, thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Jennifer went through the poll numbers. Obviously, the country is split, tilting just slightly in favor of the president's position, although that varies when we looked at race. You know, as a Marine, as a black man in America, where do you fall?

WILLIAMS: Also, the polls also show that the majority of Americans don't think the president should have weighed in on this. But let's talk about this. This is not about me against the president or anybody against the president. This is about the issue that is here at hand. Supposedly that this is some sort of disrespect to our flag. And I have to question all those who say those kinds of things. That these athletes by taking a knee, which is something that people do in a church when they show reverence to their god, by taking a knee during this time and taking a second to reflect upon ills of our society that that's so wrong. We as a society, Brooke, don't complain.

Nobody complained this past weekend out on any lake in America where there was a young lady wearing a bikini bottom bathing suit that was an American flag. Or the guys that are driving around on jet skis and motorcycles wearing American flag on their head. And how about even the most egregious of all -- we all in this world agree that Nazism and Hitler was an abomination to this world. We've held trials for over 80 years persecuting and prosecuting people who were Nazis. Now not one person complaining about the NFL players on a knee have said anything about three weeks ago when you had Nazis and skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists marching with an American flag and doing a sieg heil.

And some of them made statements about the president's son-in-law, Jewish people, in front an American flag. But that's OK.

[15:35:00] So, it really has nothing do with disrespecting the flag. It has to do with the fact, you know, in some ways in this country still think that black men should shut up, accept what you get, and keep your mouth shut. And I don't agree. Look, I'll tell you something -- the reason I spoke out this week is because again let's break this down. I held my hand up and said, "I do solemnly swear and affirm that I will support the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic." I didn't say I support a flag, a piece of paper. I said the constitution. And when I do so, that means that the first thing that our forefathers thought to give us the right to do was the right to protest. So, you denigrate and disrespect the lives of all 300,000 Americans that died in World War II, you had 600,000 Americans that were wounded in World War II. The thousands that have just put their life on the line right now to give you the right to protest. You denigrate them. Stop it.

BALDWIN: Let -- hold that thought for me.

WILLIAMS: Sorry.

BALDWIN: I've got sound from the President. Stay right there. Don't move. I have a lot more for you, my friend. We'll go to the president. He's just made news at the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what about your other cabinet members? Will you order a review?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see. I mean, we have -- he's a very fine man. But we're going to make a decision sometime tonight. He's a very, very fine man. As far as Puerto Rico is concerned, that's been going, as you know, really well. It's been total devastation. We have over 10,000 people in Puerto Rico right now. We're getting truck drivers because the people from Puerto Rico, the drivers just aren't there. They're looking for their homes. They have a lot of other problems. Likewise, with the police force. But I think it's going really well considering.

Rick Scott was just up, governor of Florida. That's been a success. Rick is going to get involved also with Puerto Rico. And we've made tremendous strides. Very, very tough situation. And a big question is what happens -- we have to rebuild. If you look at it, the electric's gone, the roads are gone, the telecommunications is gone. It's all gone. And the real question is what's going to happen later. It's a tough situation. The loss of life, it's always tragic. But it's been incredible. The results that we've had with respect to loss of life. People can't believe how successful that has been relatively speaking.

TRUMP: I can't hear you -- go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say about the criticism of some officials in Puerto Rico leveling blamed you, saying what you -- (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you, the governor of Puerto Rico has been unbelievably generous with his statements. I mean he's been praising our efforts. This has been very difficult. This is a total devastation. When you look at Texas and when you look at Florida, you know, it's a whole different level nobody's ever seen. When you have a category-5 wipe out an island like this. Because you have nothing. You don't have the roads. You don't have anything. And you don't have the people even to operate the equipment. That's why we have literally hundreds of truck drivers being brought in to the island to operate the trucks. Because those people have lost their homes. So, they're unable to do it. And the police have lost their homes. So, they're unable to do it. It's a tough situation -- John.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) to say that Puerto Rico was a good news story?

TRUMP: Well, I haven't heard what she said. I can tell you this, we have done an incredible job considering there's absolutely nothing to work with. And a very big question is what are we going do with the power plant. The power plant has been wiped out. It's not like let's go back and fix it. That's what I do. I'm a good construction guy. You don't go back and fix it. There is nothing. The power grid is gone. So, we have a lot of big decisions, and you are talking about the dollars that you are talking about are really tremendous. And I'll be talking with the Democrats, and we'll be talking to Congress about what we're going to do a little bit longer term.

In the meantime, we've saved a lot of lives. We've done a really good job, and now we're bringing the people for distribution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: In Cuba?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TRUMP: You know, the problem with that in Cuba, and we'll be coming out with something. But there was a big problem in Cuba. So, we'll be announcing that fairly soon.

[15:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We're looking at Puerto Rico. That's a very, very big thing you're talking about. You know, we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars right now. It's a territory. And these are great people. I know the people very well. These are great people. But you know, it is a massive investment. You are rebuilding all of it at some point.

As you know, there is hundreds of millions of -- a tremendous amounts of money already invested in Puerto Rico by others before the storms. And that money has been in serious trouble. So, now on top of it, a lot of other money. Look, a decision has to be made. What are you going do? Puerto Rico was flattened. And a big decision comes as to what are we going to do. But I'm there to help, I can tell you that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, we have great secretaries and we have some that actually own their own planes, as you know. That solves that. But we put in an order that no more planes. If you look at past administrations -- for instance, if you look at the Obama administration and you take a look at the amount of time that they spent in the air, they spent a lot of time in the air. But I felt badly because Secretary Price is a good man. But we are looking into it, and we're looking into it very strongly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We'll take a look. I'll be announcing something in the pretty near future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: I have a great cabinet. And you know, we save hundreds of millions of dollars through negotiation. I'll give an example. With the F-35 fighter plane, me, myself, I've saved hundreds of millions of dollars in negotiating. And that's one of the reasons I don't like seeing anybody even have a question about, you know, flying. I Jess don't want to do that. We're saving tremendous amounts of money no matter where we go. If you look at what we've done in Florida or Texas, we've done that for relatively little compared to what other people. So, I don't like to see that happen. And I think it's a shame. As a human being, Tom Price is a very good man. I can tell you -- John.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well that's unacceptable to me. No, that's -- that would be unacceptable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President -- (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Steve, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). We have a standing interview of a couple of people.

TRUMP: I've had four meetings for the Fed chairman. And I'll be making a decision over the next two or three weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: First of all, you know, Brock has done a fantastic job at FEMA. And Elaine Duke is acting and -- she's working very hard. And I think what FEMA has done has been incredible between all of these hurricanes and doing so well. But we'll be making that decision probably within a month. Homeland security, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, have you spoken to Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys and other owners? Who did you speak to? What teams and what did they tell you?

TRUMP: I've spoken weekend owners, and I really think it's coming together. I noticed last night or I was told -- I didn't see it -- but I heard that everybody stood for the national anthem. And that shows respect for our country, our flag and for the national anthem. So, I'm very happy. I heard that. And they should stand. You have to stand. It's our national anthem, you have to stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But who did you talk to though?

TRUMP: I spoke to numerous team owners. I have many friends. I did speak to Jerry, yes. OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Not a question of confidence. I was disappointed because I didn't like it cosmetically or otherwise. I was disappointed. And you know, this is an administration that saves hundreds of millions of dollars on renegotiating things, on new trade deals that will be -- you'll be seeing the results very soon. We're renegotiating NAFTA. We're renegotiating so many things and making much better deals. You'll be seeing other things come up. So, I don't like to see somebody that perhaps is the perception that it wasn't right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: Well I don't want to say. But we'll be announcing something today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We'll be announcing something today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: I'm not aware of that. Yes, I mean, I heard it was ministerial, but I'm not aware of it. Anything else -- John.

[15:45:02] Go ahead. He always treats me so nicely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say you are going to announce something about Tom Price today? What --

TRUMP: Probably today something will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think --

TRUMP: Something will be announced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you leaning toward keeping him?

TRUMP: Look, I think he's a very fine person. I certainly don't like the optics. As I said, we renegotiate deals. We're renegotiating trade deals. We're renegotiating as an example the F-35 fighter planes. I've saved hundreds of millions of dollars. So, I don't like the optics of what you just said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your response to Cuba?

TRUMP: Cuba, some very bad things happening in Cuba. Very bad things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything thing else from the government?

TRUMP: Well you're going to see what's happening in Cuba. But it's a bad -- they did some bad things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President? Are you going to make a decision about whether or not to fire Price today?

TRUMP: Probably sometime today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

I'm not happy, OK. I can tell you. I'm not happy. OK.

BALDWIN: All right. We appreciate the president there stopping and talking to members of the media. Jeff Zeleny was one of them, our senior White House correspondent. Jeff, let me bring you in on the -- the headline on Tom Price, the HHS secretary who according to some math spent $1 million in taxpayer money taking two dozen private and charter jets since May. And it sounded to me like the president was saying he will make a decision on him at some point tonight?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did indeed, Brooke. That's what the president said repeatedly there in the exchange that we watched. And I have to apologize. My head was in front of the shot there for one second

BALDWIN: I thought that was the back of your head.

ZELENY: I was asking the President. Again, do you have confidence in Secretary Price? And he said, look, I am disappointed. I don't like the optics of this. So, Brooke, we are told there is no way at this point that Secretary Price can survive this. The option that is likely is that the announcement would be that the president would accept a resignation.

Of course's up to the secretary to actually resign. But every official I've talked to here at the White House believes that by the end of tonight, by sundown, perhaps even sooner, Secretary Price will not be in I had position. But I do think it speaks to the President, you know, wants to send a message. He is furious about this, and in one sense because sort of goes against what he came to Washington to do. And it's a pretty cut-and-dried explainable situation, taking flights, spending money, he's out. I think -- I'm not sure why the extended drama of saying wait until tonight. Sounds like a primetime version of "Apprentice," saying "you're fired." But that's what the president is saying that he will make some announcement by tonight.

BALDWIN: Stay tuned for the next episode, we will, to see Tom Price's fate. In the meantime, Puerto Rico --

ZELENY: That another headline in there, as well, right.

BALDWIN: What about Puerto Rico? To hear the president -- I jotted down, he said Puerto Rico recovery going really well. We've done an incredible job. He might have been answering questions from you guys. I had Rosie Perez practically in tears on my set who would -- admonishing the president. That's what he said. A good job.

ZELENY: and he was being asked specifically about his acting HHS secretary of homeland security secretary saying that this was a good story. And he said, look, I'm not familiar with the comments from specifically from his acting HHS secretary. But he went on to say that he believes that people there are doing a good job. But did acknowledge, you know, it's a very difficult situation.

And he left the door open. He said, I'm not sure where we'll go from here in terms of rebuilding and recovery. So, he did say it was a -- trying to put a rosy picture on it. But also at the same time, acknowledging it was a, you know, a devastating situation on the ground there. He is still planning on visiting next week. That is still the plan of the White House. Something could change if conditions on the ground deteriorate in some respect. But that is what he is still planning on doing. Again, there's no -- we certainly, he wants to keep this glass half full if you will and be sort of optimistic about this. Again, the conditions on the ground as we're seeing from our teams there don't quite match up to his words he's saying -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, not at all. Jeff, thank you, at the White House for me. Montel Williams, thank you so much for your patience. We needed to sneak in the president there. And he also was talking about, you know, what you and I were talking about, about the NFL protests. To hear the president, say the nation is coming together on this, pointing out how last night at the game the players stood. Talking to his owner friends, people are getting behind them. Does it sounds to you like the president is taking credit for these players standing now at the game?

WILLIAMS: I have to tell you something. I heard something else in the speech. I've got to go back to this. When ask good Puerto Rico -- I'm sorry, I'm not answering your question. When asked about Puerto Rico, he said, you know, they're just a territory. Let's remember, 100 years ago this year, back in 1917, Woodrow Wilson made Puerto Rico a territory but gave Puerto Ricans statutory citizenship. Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have probably put close to 60,000 people in uniforms, 20,000 during World War I, over 40,000 in World War II, and about 20,000 during the Korean War. And we don't during Vietnam.

[15:50:00] Puerto Ricans are American citizens. There should be no question about how we're going to rebuild America. When we talk about what's going on in Puerto Rico, the President's very happy with the response. There are 10,000 people that were deployed. Another 3,000 of the people being deployed in the next couple of days. I was in Mr. Alex Amparo's office earlier this week, he's part of FEMA. And I actually took a tour through FEMA in Washington, D.C.

There are over 5.5 million people right now, Brooke, in this country from Houston to Florida to Puerto Rico who are all in trouble. We put 40,000 people on the ground in the Florida Keys. The land mass of Puerto Rico is 20 times the land mass of the Florida Keys. Why do we not have 40,000 people deployed today? So, don't take credit for something when the credit is just a trickle. And again, you know, we got to stop this identifying who is either patriotic or who is American. There is not a Puerto Rican in this country alive today who is not an American citizen at birth.

So, let's calm down when we say we are going to slow down or triple. We don't know if we are going to rebuild. If we said we weren't going to rebuild the Florida Keys or we weren't going to rebuild Houston, the country would be in an uproar. And it goes back to same thing with the football players. We can accept the lies and accept the thought that most of the country is falling in line with them. They are not. 60 percent of the people don't think he should be speaking out on this issue of football players. I'll go back to it again.

BALDWIN: It's a difference. No, I know, and it was a CNN polling. It's like most people feel like he shouldn't have injected himself in criticizing these players, the majority by just by a margin is in favor of the fact that you shouldn't take a knee during the national anthem. But when you look at it a little further, by race, you know, most black Americans say they should be able to.

WILLIAMS: Look, before we have to run out, I know you have to cut out soon. I want to say it. There should be more I don't understand. I stand, I stand at attention. I don't stand up with my hand over heart. I stand at attention. That's what I did for 22 years. My hands are locked by the seams of my pants when I stand for the national anthem. Most of the time icing. But I'm going to tell you something, Brooke, maybe from this point forward when I stand I won't put my hands by the seam of my pants, I'll hold up towards the sky. And while the national anthem is playing I'm going to pray. And we as a nation upholding the things that that flag really represents, and that is equal justice for all. For all.

BALDWIN: I've still got you for a bit longer. So, let me talk --

WILLIAMS: Oh, good.

WILLIAMS: -- so let me talk to you as a veteran. I've got you for two more minutes. I want to talk to about this amazing moment over in Colorado. Getting a lot of attention, these five African-American students -- you know where I'm going.

WILLIAMS: I went to the Naval Academy Prep School. In your stories absolutely right. The Air Force Academy's prep school.

BALDWIN: This is air force academy prep school. These racial epithets, go home, in word, written on their dorm room white erase boards. And so, the superintendent there, the Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, delivered this powerful condemnation in front of thousands of cadets and cadet candidates. And actually, had him on live last hour. So, if you haven't seen it, here's part of the original comments, and part of our conversation.

WILLIAMS: I have seen it. Yes, sir. Yes, ma'am.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GENERAL JAY SILVERIA, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can't teach someone from another gender whether that's a man or woman with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.

SILVERIA: Everything that we do is about developing airmen, about developing these airmen into leaders. So, I needed to address the topic head on. But it's also about teaching them about addressing it. So, I wanted to be unambiguous about how we'll treat this topic. But everything that we do here is about developing these airmen. So, I wanted to take an opportunity to also give them a leadership lesson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:55:08] BALDWIN: 30 seconds, go ahead, Montel.

WILLIAMS: Brooke, do you know that the only job in entire country that has a grade for how you respect equal opportunity is U.S. military. Our military has led the way for the last 60/70 years in America representing equal opportunity for all. Because when a soldier is on battlefield, he doesn't look left and right and ask a white or black person to protect him, they ask a brother to protect him. They will always be his brother. For those who can't understand that that guy down the hallway might be your wing man that you want to denigrate today. It might be the reason you die tomorrow. And we all have to think about that. Because has been death and sacrifice by every race represented by what we call the United States of America, all of them and us need that same respect.

BALDWIN: Montel Williams, thank you so much for joining us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Brooke. Thanks for having me BALDWIN: Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This week's CNN Heroes has been on the front lines offering meals to people affected by hurricane Harvey and Irma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAN HAYS, OPERATION BBQ RELIEF: After a disaster two basic needs that a person has, first one is shelter, and the other one is nourishment. And so, barbecue, besides being a nourishing meal, is comfort food. Being able to give somebody a hot barbecue meal in one of their worst times, we are not only giving something nutritious, but we are giving them maybe a little bit of normalcy for just a short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Learn more go to CNNHEROS.com. And before we go CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, tells us how deputies in Ohio are going beyond the call of duty to help solve the opioid crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEPUTY CHARLES JOHNSON, LUCAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: For 19 years I wore this uniform.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Charles Johnson has hung up this uniform for this uniform. Because of the opioid epidemic. As deputy sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio, it's Johnson's job to visit overdose survivors in the hospital and try to save them.

(on camera): You are not there to arrest them?

JOHNSON: No.

COHEN: What are you there to do?

JOHNSON: I'm there to convince them to live. I'm convincing them that they have a second chance.

COHEN: Do you think it makes a difference that they see you in a coat and tie rather than a Sheriff's uniform?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. I think so. For you to go in the uniform, you can offer him all the help in the world and he'll shut you down.

COHEN (voice over): Every day on average six people overdose in his country.

JOHNSON: They'll meet their dealer up here in this parking lot. And they'll shoot up right here.

COHEN: On this day, Johnson gets a call to visit a woman in the Toledo emergency room. It turns out he knows her. She's a waitress in a local restaurant.

JOHNSON: waited on me and my wife there. I know her personally. These people are overdosing. They are your mailman. They are your neighbors. They are your friends.

Reporter: More counselor than cop, Johnson promises that his team will drive her to detox.

JOHNSON: Her and I made an agreement and were going to go for it.

CODY MORRIS, RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT: We met at the hospital and I was laying on that bed and you showed up and gave me an opportunity.

COHEN: Since 2014, Johnson and his team have convinced more than 80 percent of overdose survivors to go into detox, an impressive number according to addiction specialists.

(on camera): You stick around in these people's lives.

JOHNSON: You know what, I remember every one of them names. I stop in to visit their homes. I know their families. I visit them in jails. It's like being a parent to 100 addicts.

COHEN: you've been to jail 12 times.

MORRIS: Yes, every time I got out of jail I went back to the same thing every single time.

COHEN: Having Charles around did it make it easier to come off of heroin?

MORRIS: He had faith in me and he only had known me for ten minutes.

He was like, he told me I could do this. He's got this. He was staying in touch, making sure I was doing the right. Are you working today? Yes, I'm working. That's what I like to hear, you know.

COHEN: Does it take an emotional toll?

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely. You can get really burned out doing this. My phone never stops ringing. People are calling me 24 hours a day. I would answer that phone because someone's life may depend on it. COHEN: it's that commitment that's been making a difference in the

overwhelming addiction epidemic in Lucas County. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Toledo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: "THE LEAD" starts now.