Return to Transcripts main page


Gov't Watchdog Says Mnuchin Air Travel a Concern; White House Open to Talks Banning Bump Stocks; Trump to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 5, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here is some news just into CNN, the IG, the Inspector General has just released its findings on Treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin's air travel on government planes, and while they say no laws were broken, the IG did have some issues.

So, let's figure out what those issues are, CNN government regulation and aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is here, what did the IG find?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION AND AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You said the topline there, the say no violation of law in the simple requests and uses of these aircraft, but Mnuchin did not get off scot- free.

The report shows just how he had run up quite a tab for taxpayers for seven flights on government planes. The Inspector General's report also dinged him for what is essentially flimsy justification for the use of these government airplanes. The Inspector General saying, and I'm quoting, he's concerned about the justification given. The Inspector General went on to say in almost all cases a single -- I'm quoting -- single boiler point statement was the justification when more rigorous justification should be given.

As for that trip, Brooke, to see the solar eclipse, that caught a lot of headlines when he flew to Kentucky. It cost taxpayers nearly $27,000. The IG did say there is no evidence to show that Mnuchin chose that date to specifically coincide with the solar eclipse. All of that said, the IG goes back again to the concern over justification for the use of the government plane. One of the reasons given to use the plane for that trip was that Mnuchin said he needed secure communications while he was traveling.

However, this IG report says it really wasn't necessary for secure communications for that particular trip. So again, what's really -- what we're really seeing here is the IG getting at this idea of perhaps flimsy justification being given as a way to get use of these military aircraft. Last point I do want to make, this IG report says Mnuchin's wife did make a reimbursement for her seat on that flight.

BALDWIN: Rene, thank you so much. Now to this, the NRA is breaking its silence since the Las Vegas shooting, weighing in on the controversial device called the bump stock device, like the one in this image here. It's an attachment on the back of the gun, and enables a semi-automatic weapon to fire almost as rapidly as an automatic weapon. The NRA is calling for a review whether or not they are lawful and say bump stocks should, quote, be subject to additional regulations. Furthermore, a Florida Republican is introducing a bill that would ban the sale of bump stocks altogether. Keep in mind police found 23 guns in the gunman's hotel room. 12 of them with bump stocks attached. We have highlighted the device in these images of the crime scene so you can see exactly what we're talking about here. With me now, I have Republican Congressman Tom Rooney, he represents Florida, served four years in the Army JAG corps. Welcome.

REP. TOM ROONEY, FLORIDA (R): Thanks for having me back.

BALDWIN: I read this morning you said the president needs to take the lead on this issue. Moments ago, we watched the White House briefing and Sarah Sanders basically punted on taking a stand, leaving this whole thing open for discussion. It sounds like the president is not taking the lead as of now. Your response to that.

ROONEY: Well, the fact he didn't say no is a good thing or that Sarah Huckabee didn't say no. They might be weighing what they want to do moving forward. I think the fact that you're seeing so many Republicans signing up with Carlos Curbelo for Miami's bill as well as the NRA you just mentioned, just coming out saying the ATF should review it, I think is going to allow the president to make a decision that I think is really going to show courage and leadership that we haven't seen on this issue in a long time.

BALDWIN: Do you support Curbelo, do you support this ban of the bump stock?

ROONEY: I'm a co-sponsor, yes. What I was trying to say in that quote in the article yesterday was that this would give a lot of people that might be wanting the do something like this a lot of cover in their districts, very Republican districts like my own.

whereas the president who came out who is very popular in red districts like mine, would come out and take the lead and say these bump stocks should be illegal, then it would give them the cover to be able to go ahead and actually do something after one of these mass shootings rather than just business as usual.

[15:35:00] I know you're the co-sponsor, but I think it's important for America to hear you say that out loud. I'm sure you've read and I've read the NRA statement. I think there is a little nuance. Let me point this out to everyone. The NRA says these bump stock devices, yes, should be more regulated but not outright banned. Specifically, they're calling on the ATF to review the devices, not Congress.

ROONEY: Well, there's two different things that could happen, either the president comes out and say, I want a bill on my desk that outlaws these things, which would move Carlos's bill and the go through the Senate to his desk, then you'd get buy-in from both branches of government. And I think that it would be more widely popular. Or the president could direct the ATF, somehow administratively. I'm not quite sure how they would do that, but somehow administratively say, this essentially makes a semi-automatic weapon an automatic weapon and, therefore, it violates the law and, therefore, the rules that govern that should be tweaked so that they're no longer available in the marketplace. I'm not quite sure if he probably can do it both ways. I think to get everybody's buy-in, it might be better to go along the legislative route.

BALDWIN: To get everyone's buy in, here is the what-if scenario. You know the NRA and the argument of the slippery slope, it's the bump stock today, the semi-automatic weapon tomorrow. If the NRA ultimately doesn't want the ban and you are at odds as the co-sponsor of this particular piece of legislation, would you, sir, stop accepting the NRA's funding? Records show that you have received $9,500 from the NRA since being elected to Congress.

ROONEY: I didn't know that. Thank you for pointing that out.

BALDWIN: You didn't know you received $9,500 from the NRA?

ROONEY: No. I don't categorize or go through who gives me money for certain issues or what have you. But regardless, Brooke, this has to do with -- you can always say this is the first step in coming after my guns. I own four guns. I have two shotguns and two handguns. I believe that I have the right -- second amendment right to own those guns. I actually carry one of those guns when I'm not doing this job back home at my district in a concealed way. I'm a concealed weapons holder in Florida. I carry one around for my own protection. I do not feel that this is the same thing as somebody attaching a device to the end of a stock of my semi-automatic rifle to make it automatic and be able to shoot down into a Jason Aldean concert 400 rounds a minute, I think shooting for over five minutes.

BALDWIN: Nine to 11 minutes.

ROONEY: That's tens of thousands of rounds, it's a wonder that he shot 58 people is horrible, but it's almost a miracle he didn't get more with that kind of fire power. That's military-grade fire power. The only reason you would need that kind of capability I believe is to kill a lot of people very fast. And so, when somebody tries to equate that to me holding a handgun when I'm driving to the movies or to a mall with my kids for protection, I just don't buy it. I'm not buying it.

BALDWIN: I think to your point, on the military grade firearms -- and this is my last question, Congressman Rooney, one of the most heartbreaking stories out of the shooting, this Navy veteran, Christopher Roybal, gets shot at overseas, he survives, comes home, goes to Las Vegas with his mother to celebrate his 29th birthday, gets shot and killed by a weapon like the ones in war he would have used by a civilian. I had his former brother-in-law on my show earlier this week, and he's asking people like you why.

ROONEY: To be honest with you, Brooke, I didn't know what a bump stock was a week ago. I don't have an answer for the service member's brother or his family. All I can say is, I'm a member of Congress now. This is something that we've all learned a lot about. I don't know if you knew what a bump stock was before last week -- BALDWIN: Listen, I take a little issue with that. I heard Speaker

Ryan say the same thing. It's not -- I'm learning, too, but at the same time you deal in gun control legislation. And I feel like you should know a little bit more about that.

ROONEY: I don't. I've never heard of it. And I own guns. I don't know if it's part of my job to know every part of a weapon they've ever made. When I was in the Army I had a 9 millimeter and we qualified with an M-16.

[15:40:00.] We didn't have any capability to make -- I never had a weapon, semi-automatic weapon where I went to a gun store and said what is that on the wall, it makes a semi-automatic weapon automatic- like. I'm telling you the truth, I've never heard of it. My answer to what your question is what are we going to do about it now?

I think that that's what Carlos is trying to do. I think that's what we're all trying to do up here. What I was saying with my quote about the president, I think he could get a lot of good will bipartisan if he would take the lead on this and give coverage to a lot of people that quite frankly want to do something.

BALDWIN: Like you, Congressman Tom Rooney, thank you.

ROONEY: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, have you seen this one, NFL quarterback Cam Newton makes a sexist remark to a female sports reporter. We'll talk about what he said, the backlash and that now includes the loss of a major sponsorship deal.


BALDWIN: Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton making a sexist report to a female beat reporter from the "Charlotte Observer." Listen to this.


JOURDAN RODRIGUE, REPORTER, "CHARLOTTE OBSERVER": Devin Funchess seemed to really embrace the physicality of his routes and getting

those extra yards. Does that give you a little bit of an enjoyment to see him kind of trusting people out there?

CAM NEWTON, STAR QUARTERBACK, CAROLINA PANTHERS, NFL: It's funny to hear a female talk about routes. That's funny.


BALDWIN: Oh, for the love. The reporter Jourdan Rodrigue tweeted, I don't think it's funny to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.

Cam Newton clarified his comments in a private conversation with her but never actually apologized. Dannon Yogurt dropped its endorsement deal. The NFL said, quote, it does not reflect the thinking of the league. We heard this from Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.

RON RIVERA, HEAD COACH, CAROLINA PANTHERS: I think Cam made a mistake. I understand he had a conversation where he pretty much said he shouldn't have said what he said. So, as far as I'm concerned, what I'd like to do is talk about getting ready for the Detroit Lions who we play on Sunday.

BALDWIN: With me, Nancy Armour sports columnist for "USA Today." Nancy, my first thought was, it's 2017, how is this happening?

NANCY ARMOUR, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "USA TODAY": Yes. That's the reaction of a lot of people. Unfortunately, whether you're a woman in sports media, in business, tech, any other male dominated industry, you experience this kind of sexism, maybe not on a day-to-day basis, but you know it's there and you run into it from time to time. Here was yet another example of it.

BALDWIN: Is there an apology forthcoming do you think?

ARMOUR: My guess is no. If we haven't heard from Cam today and it doesn't sound like we're going to, I don't think there is. Frankly, I'm not so concerned about an apology as more of an acknowledgment of, I recognize I was wrong and I recognize why I was wrong.

BALDWIN: That's what I'm saying, yes.

ARMOUR: That to me is far more important than somebody just saying sorry. You can say that and not have the words mean anything.

BALDWIN: Be disingenuous.

ARMOUR: Exactly. I don't know what the conversations have been behind closed doors in Carolina. I would hope that's being expressed. Not only was it inappropriate to say that to a beat reporter, but they should be conscious of the fact about half of the fan base of the NFL right now is women. Studies have shown that women make the majority of the purchasing decisions in their household.

BALDWIN: Such a great point.

ARMOUR: This is not a group you want to tick off.

BALDWIN: You have been in these postgame pressers. It's my understanding there were 30 or so members of the media in the room. When Cam smiled and said what he did, to Jourdan there was silence. Maybe everybody was so stunned they didn't want to say anything. But I was wondering what about the rest of the reporters not reacting or challenging that?

ARMOUR: I thought about that a lot, too. On the one hand, I'm encouraged nobody launched along with him. Five, ten, 20 years ago, that would have been the case. I would have liked to have seen somebody step up or follow up and challenge him on it a little bit more. The one thing that was encouraging was seeing the male media members immediately afterward come to -- whether her defense or call Cam out for the sexism afterward. One of her colleagues wrote a wonderful column about why this was inappropriate. Seeing that reaction afterward was very positive.

BALDWIN: I reached out to Jourdan personally. I know she was declining all interviews, wanting to focus on her work. I say to her, good for her, keep on doing what you do. Nancy Armour, thank you.

ARMOUR: Thanks for having me on.

BALDWIN: This is CNN breaking news.

Here we go. Let's go with this breaking news. President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal next week. This is what two senior U.S. officials are telling CNN. So, I have CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger with me now on just the word decertify. Let's start there. What does that even mean?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That means he's not completely scrapping the deal. What it means is that he's throwing it in Congress's court right now, and he says I don't like it the way it's written, I don't want to recertify it because every so often it does have to be recertified. I believe there was an October 15 deadline. And what he's saying is that you better find a way to make this deal better.

[15:50:00] So, it stops short of scrapping it, and we know, Brooke, there are people in this administration, most notably I would say the secretary of defense, who doesn't want to scrap the Iran deal.

BALDWIN: Who very recently said going up against the president and disagreeing.

BORGER: This doesn't mean it is going to be scrapped. What it means is the ball is in Congress's court and he wants Congress to come up with something better. By the way, there are lots of Republicans who also believe that you don't have to scrap it, you can just make it tougher and make it better. But don't forget, this is the president who said he would scrap the Iran deal.

BALDWIN: The politics of this, right? This is an Obama-era Iran deal.

BORGER: Yes. The worst as ever, right.

BALDWIN: As with other, whether it's Obamacare you could make the list of Paris climate accord, of things that the president wants to take of the Obama era and rip to shreds, and/or also say, all right I'm going to decertify it, but that doesn't mean I'm scrapping it, and you Congress, you need to figure this one out.

BORGER: It's like DACA, is what we were talking about during the break. It is a little bit like OK, Congress, you don't want to get rid of the dreamers, let's figure out a way to do this, and so what I think he's doing also is not only bowing to Congress to a certain degree, and I think that's appropriate, completely appropriate by the way, I think he's also listening to people in his administration who say don't scrap the deal.

There are people in his administration who didn't even want to decertify this, but the president clearly felt a need to do that. So as long as you're going to say I don't like the Iran deal, well he didn't, he didn't go the whole 100 percent and say well it's done, I'm going to scrap it. So, I think he gives Congress an opportunity to take another look at it. And to see what needs to be changed.

BALDWIN: I've got Jim Sciutto who's also joining me on all of this, the news that President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal next week. Coming up against this October 15 deadline to decide. How does Iran react to this?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Iran is not happy, we seen the public comments for instance when their foreign minister and their president were here in town for the UN General Assembly, I was able to go into a press availability with the Iranian president.

And he was expressing his distaste when might say with all of this. Although, it was interesting, Hassan Rouhani when asked about the deal, he did leave open the possibility about negotiations on other issues. About talk, he said, he said the talk is always good on other issues and the key other issue from the U.S. perspective is missile tests. This is the thing that in part is driving Trump's decision here that because this agreement only covered the nuclear program, it does not cover missiles, Iran has kept on quite liberally testing missiles and that has made a lot of Republicans, the president, and even some Democrats angry.

Didn't close the door there, but did say that this deal is sacred and they expect the U.S. to abide by it, I should say this, Brooke, it is not only Iran saying that. I spoke to a European diplomat, one of the parties to the agreement. Remember, it's not just Iran and the U.S., this is Iran, the U.S., the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, China, Russia, France, the U.K.

And this diplomat told me the following. All the evidence to date is that Iran is in compliance with the terms of this agreement. This agreement is a hard-fought international deal that is vital to our security and that of our allies. So, this is a U.S. ally disagreeing, contradicting the president and saying this is in fact in our and your national security interests, and I should say as I know Gloria was noting there that one of the president's closest advisors, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said much the same thing. He said he believes Iran is in compliance and two, he believes that this deal is in U.S. security national security interests. So, disagreement within, among allies, and disagreement within his own administration.

BALDWIN: Elise Labott, how do you see it?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well look, Brooke, there's a lot more to just this decertification as we've been talking about. And for all the talk about Secretary Tillerson and those comments he supposedly made about President Trump, he's been working quietly behind the scenes to try and give President Trump a way out.

What officials have told me is that this involves kicking it to Congress as we've been talking about. And now, avoiding the president having this decertification every nine months. The chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Corker, is currently rewriting the legislation. And so, every 90 days President Trump wouldn't be necessarily talking about whether the Iran deal is good for the United States.

[15:55:00] It'd be talking about what President Trump is doing to combat Iran's other destabilizing behavior that Jim just mentioned, the ballistic missile test, the human rights, what he's looking to do is compartmentalize the Iran deal. Even the United States recognizes that Iran is making good on it's technical commitments. And what this will do was keep the Europeans on board for dealing with some of this other behavior because certainly the Europeans, the investment is very important to them. So what it does is it allows president Trump to save political face, it keeps the Europeans on board, and they can all go after Iran and some of that other activity.

BALDWIN: All right, Jake Tapper, waiting in the wings, he's going to take over for us a second on the lead.

The president's plan to decertify the plan next week. Thank you for being with me here on that. Also, a new tropical storm is lurking in the Atlantic. We'll tell you when and where it could make land fall along the gulf coast. I'm Brooke Baldwin, we'll be right back.


BALDWIN: There is a new storm along the gulf coast. The people there would want to keep an eye on. Tropical storm Nate could pose a threat to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi. We can see the flooding it's caused in Costa Rica. Honduras today also. Life threatening flash floods and mud slides are possible. The forecast track has Nate making land fall somewhere along the U.S. gulf coast Sunday morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you so much for being with me here in New York. We're going to go to Jake Tapper. "The Lead" starts right now.