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Flynn Warned About Contact with Russian Ambassador; Army Secretary Pick Withdraws From Consideration; Senate Republicans to Draft Their Own Bill; Trump to Make First Overseas Trip as President; New Jersey Town Grapples with Trump Security; Politician Knocks Self Out Laughing at "Veep"; Alternative Tour of Los Angeles. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 6, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: 23 days on the job. This revelation first reported by "The Washington Post" comes ahead of a big hearing on Monday. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates will testify before Congress about the warnings she gave the White House on Flynn.
We are covering every angle of this. I want to begin with CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones in New Jersey where President Trump is spending the weekend at his Bedminster golf club.
And Athena, what more are you now hearing regarding these new developments in the Flynn controversy?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. This is shedding light on just what the Trump transition team knew about the Flynn contacts with the Russian ambassador. We know now that there was concern that Flynn didn't fully appreciate or understand the motivation of the ambassador. And so that is why you had the head of Trump's transition team, his National Security transition team, Marshall Billingsley, ask the Obama White House to provide a classified CIA profile of Ambassador Kislyak to provide to Flynn to read ahead of his conversations with the ambassador. One thing that isn't clear is whether Flynn read that document.
Now I should mention that there is some Bush pushback to this storyline. Several former transition officials, several officials who worked on the Trump transition are telling my colleagues that they're calling this revisionist history saying, I'm sure everybody is telling the FBI they warned Flynn against talking or about talking to Kislyak so it's certainly important to take some of this with a grain of salt.
But there's one more interesting tidbit that my colleague Jeff Zeleny was able to confirm and that is that a former U.S. official says that the Obama White House was troubled about the Trump transition's handling of classified information. This official said that some highly sensitive documents were copied and removed from a secure room in the transition headquarters in Washington. And so because of that some Obama officials later decided to allow some documents to only be viewed at the White House.
So some interesting details coming out about these conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador, just what was known about them ahead of this important testimony on Monday by Sally Yates before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee -- Ana.
CABRERA: Athena Jones, reporting, thank you.
Lots to discuss with our panel. CNN political commentator and contributing editor to the "American Spectator" Jeffrey Lord and joining us by phone CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem.
Jeffrey, to you first. Is the Trump team trying to distance itself from the Michael Flynn fiasco with this "we warned you" message, do you think?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Probably. I mean, I think the standard rule for any administration that has a problem like this is deal with it, which they did. He was fired from his job and then moved on. So I mean, their instinct -- understandably so, their plate is full constantly. Any president's plate is full constantly of problems. You don't need to be continually dealing with one that former presidential prospective has already been resolved.
CABRERA: Well, this one isn't going away, and the Russia investigation is still ongoing.
But, Juliette, you tweeted, quote, "The White House had been of two minds about how to deal with Flynn, keeping him close and malign press, or say we knew he was fishing. They've chosen. Now what?"
So, Juliette, why would team Trump choose this weekend to put some daylight between themselves and Michael Flynn but not when Flynn actually resigned which was now a couple of months ago, even more?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. That's exactly right and why -- and how did the Russian ambassador end up in Trump Tower if these discussions actually were going on or these warnings were going on. So for a while as I noted look, they were -- you know, President Trump was sort of embracing Flynn and saying, you know, the media went after him and then other parts of the White House were saying we knew he was a bad guy. Clearly this is a part of the strategy in anticipation of essentially really a week of Russia-Trump hearings in which we're going to hear from a number of people like Sally Yates.
I should say, also, there's many White Houses -- there's many White House, in other words there's different power structures. That's also true of transitions. It may have been that people in the transition were very nervous about Flynn but others, maybe, for example, Sessions who was close with Flynn or Trump himself or others were not so worried. So it may have been that the transition had different power structures as well but they have now chosen. Let's just put it that way and they do not want to have to defend Flynn at this stage.
CABRERA: Jeffrey, if Flynn was warned, why you do you think he went ahead and talked about sanctions anyway if he was warned? LORD: Yes. I have no idea. I mean, he's an experienced man and
clearly he must have thought he had the ability to make this judgment on his own. He was supposed to be the incoming National Security adviser.
[20:05:04] I suspect that's probably the answer. But as to what was going on exactly in his head, I have no idea.
CABRERA: We know that the former acting attorney general Sally Yates is set to testify on Monday. Sources tell us that she will contradict the Trump administration's version of events regarding this Flynn controversy.
So, Jeffrey, does the timing of this revelation of the Trump transition team warning Flynn worry you at all?
LORD: No. And I'll tell you why, you know, all of this attention on the first 100 days, by my count there's 1,300 some odd days left in the term, these things happen in the administration. President Clinton lost his first attorney general to a nanny scandal. President Carter lost his first budget director to a banking scandal as I'll recall. And yet these administrations moved on and the final judgment on these administrations were not based on either of those things.
KAYYEM: I think the difference here, though, is of course, you know, that there is an admitted at this change, it's not even one of circumstantial evidence admitted by the FBI director there is an ongoing FBI investigation and what we simply don't know now is who is the subject of that investigation. Is it just Flynn or is it Flynn? Are there others? And I think that's why this isn't simply like a bad nominee, you know, like this isn't something like the army secretary that the Trump administration recently had, like a person who wasn't vetted. This is going to -- this is going to last a lot longer than just getting rid of Flynn at this stage.
CABRERA: Juliette --
LORD: Ana, I will say --
CABRERA: Go ahead.
LORD: I will say that this is all tied I think from the increasing -- increasingly appears to be a pipe dream that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians to elect the president which there's just no there-there --
CABRERA: What makes you so certain -- but what makes you so certain there is no there-there? There's an ongoing investigation. And we don't have all the answers.
LORD: All of this time, I think where is the blue dress with the smoking gun or however you want to term it. It just isn't there. And at some point it's put up or shut up. KAYYEM: Well, I think that's -- I think I'll just give Jeffrey sort
of the put-up part. It's true but there's nothing -- you know, these investigations take a long time, collusion is a serious allegation as I've said publicly. I'm not there yet. There might be other reasons for this investigation including financial dealings that might come out, that might show other things besides collusion regarding the election. But the idea that because it hasn't shown yet means that it's not there.
It's just not as sort of understanding of how these national security cases unfold and certainly because we all agree that the Russians had something to do in terms of trying to influence this election. At the very least, we want to -- we want to put aside any suspicion that there was collusion. And so if they settle this case and say, look, there's no collusion that would seem to be something that would be very beneficial for this White House to get it --
LORD: Senator Feinstein has said --
KAYYEM: Housekeeping seal of approval.
CABRERA: Jeffrey, go ahead real quick.
LORD: Senator Feinstein I believe told Wolf Blitzer the other day that she has yet to have any evidence on this so --
KAYYEM: She said she couldn't answer it in an unclassified setting. So I just want to set the record straight for the viewers. She did not say -- she could not answer that question fairly in an unclassified setting.
CABRERA: And that's just -- we've heard from a lot of the -- both Democrats and Republicans on these two intelligence committees in the Senate and the House that there is some evidence or there is probably cause to further the investigation into possible collusion. But we will wait for the answer as you point out, Jeffrey. There is still not definitive evidence that there was indeed collusion.
But I want to move on and talk about the other person who will be testifying on Monday and that is national -- the former National Intelligence Director James Clapper scheduled to testify along with Sally Yates. What are you looking for in Clapper's testimony, Juliette?
KAYYEM: So I actually was with Jim Clapper this week and he's -- you know, he is very fair in his assessment of what he saw before he left in terms of two things, one is, you know, that he didn't see evidence of collusion so -- and, as I said, let's let the evidence go where it needs to go. But the most important thing is to remind people that there are very few left who believe that the Russians did not interfere in this election. In other words, I understand the politics of saying it could have been the Chinese, it could have been whoever.
But Jim Clapper is a well-respected, multiple decades of service to multiple administrations of both sides of the aisle. And so I think his goal would be to remind people that outside the noise of politics, the Russians clearly did engage in subterfuge in this election and we need to remember that because of course what we're seeing what's happening in France but we have other elections as well. So I think he'll just -- he'll do just the facts.
CABRERA: Jeffrey, 17 intelligence agencies have concluded the Russians meddled in the U.S. elections. Why do you think President Trump keeps on trying to suggest that it could be any country instead?
[20:10:05] LORD: Well, there's a difference between meddling and collusion with the leading presidential campaign. I mean --
CABRERA: Right. But that's not what I'm saying. That's not what I'm saying. I mean, the president just as late as this week has been saying we aren't sure it was Russia that meddled in the election but 17 intelligence agencies say they are sure it was Russia.
LORD: Well, let's find out -- let's find out what they know and get it exactly. I mean, I worked in the 1984 Reagan re-election campaign and it later came out in Soviet archives that of all people Senator Kennedy was -- Senator Ted Kennedy was imploring the Russians to get involved in the 1984 elections and that he would help them. So the record on this goes a long -- well, well back in terms of Russian involvement in American elections. They're always trying to do (INAUDIBLE) figure it out. And it certainly has done them no good as witnessed those cruise missiles in Syria.
KAYYEM: Well, I think that there's just an important thing about this election for viewers to remember outside of sort of all the noise or going back to the 1960s or 1970s. This was different. And as all these intelligence agencies have said, as Director Comey, as James Clapper has said, this was not -- this was a collusion between, I should say, WikiLeaks and Russia, it was intended to harm Hillary Clinton directly. It was intended to help Trump. No evidence that votes were changed. I agree with that.
KAYYEM: And so what's important is to remember trying to defend the president no one is saying that he's not the rightful president that you have an enemy nation that has tried to influence the election. Now it could have historical precedent. It could -- we could have done it in the past but that seems irrelevant to me in terms of an understanding of what 2016 was particularly about.
CABRERA: All right.
KAYYEM: And so that's just I think where Jim Clapper fits in.
CABRERA: All right. Juliette Kayyem, thank you.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
CABRERA: Jeffrey Lord, stand by.
LORD: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up another Trump Cabinet nominee withdraws his name under a cloud of controversy raising questions about who's doing the vetting. Plus, after narrowly passing the House, the GOP health care bill faces an uphill bill in the Senate. A look at the major changes that could be in store.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:16:26] CABRERA: President Trump's effort to fill his top staff positions has hit another snag. This time it's his nominee for Army secretary Mark Green who has withdrawn his name over controversial comments he's made and the outrage they sparked.
This is strike two now for the president when it comes to this position. The Army secretary position. And it's raising questions about who is doing the vetting for potential nominees.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has details -- Jessica.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the Trump administration has repeatedly been criticized for its vetting process. Well, now the latest nominee for Army secretary has been forced out once again raising the question, is the Trump team getting this vetting process right?
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mark Green is a victim of his own words.
MARK GREEN, FORMER ARMY SECRETARY NOMINEE: If you polled psychiatrists they're going to tell you that transgender is a disease.
SCHNEIDER: Green has also made critical comments about Muslims and is a self-identified creationist who once delivered a lecture arguing against the Theory of Evolution. Now the West Point grad who was President Trump's second choice for Army secretary is taking his name out of consideration. The first pick withdrew setting financial entanglement.
Green is just the latest problematic pick for President Trump drawing doubts about the administration's vetting process. Questions are also now being raised about 28-year-old Steven Munoz. He was hired for a top job in the Office of Protocol at the State Department on January 25th. But police records first obtained by ProPublica then obtained by CNN show multiple people accused Munoz of sexual assault while he was a student at the Citadel Military College. The alleged victims came forward to college officials and police between 2010 and 2012.
Munoz was never charged with a crime. But an investigation by the Citadel revealed that based upon a preponderance of the evidence the college concluded that certain assaults likely occurred. Munoz's lawyer maintains, "The allegations were unfounded. It was a total overreaction by the Citadel to even investigate and ultimately no charges or lawsuits were brought against him."
The State Department is standing by Munoz and it's vetting procedure. A simple search would have revealed the allegations. The White House and State Department did not comment on whether they considered or knew about the allegations.
Perhaps the most serious case of questionable vetting, the appointment and subsequent resignation of former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. The retired general accepted $45,000 in speaking fees from Russian state TV in 2015 despite being warned by the Pentagon not to accept money from foreign governments and Flynn initially failed to register as a foreign agent for work he did for a Turkish owned company.
President Trump deflected responsibility pinning Flynn's approval on former President Obama.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level. And when they say we didn't vet, well, Obama I guess didn't vet because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration.
SCHNEIDER: And President Trump is right. The Obama administration granted Michael Flynn a security clearance, but Flynn resigned from that post in 2014. A year before he was paid for that speech in Russia. It's something that a second background check, if done by the Trump team, may have picked up -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you.
A third search will now be needed to fill out President Trump's Army secretary, one of hundreds of positions still unfilled.
Let's talk this over with CNN political commentator and former Reagan political director Jeffrey Lord, and CNN contributor, former Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter.
Jeffrey, it's a Washington to blame previous administrations for problem, but doesn't President Trump have to take responsibility at some point?
[20:20:07] LORD: Well, look, we're talking a couple of things here. First, sure, he has to take responsibility. Every president, the buck stops on their desk. That's absolutely correct. My point here is that this happens in administrations. I can think of three right off the top of my head from the Obama administration. Tom Daschle is HHS secretary, Charles Friedman, a Saudi ambassador, and head of the National intelligence Council, and Bill Richardson as Commerce secretary. All of them had to withdraw their nominee -- their nominations for varying reasons, conflict of interest, et cetera. So -- and there are others going well back in the past so this happens.
CABRERA: Yes, it happens but --
LORD: It just the Donald Trump term here.
CABRERA: But Donald Trump also comes in with a unique set of circumstances, right. He's the mogul whose shot to stardom as a mentor to his "Apprentice," he knows nothing about hiring?
LORD: Well, what you've got here is this is the government here. This is the government, and the media and all of that sort of thing. So there is a problem here. I'm sure he's going to correct it. I have no doubt about it. But in context, to be very, very fair here, this kind of things have been happening for a long time and they happened in the Obama administration.
CABRERA: Right. Right.
LORD: And he served two terms.
CABRERA: Yes. But, you know, Daschle, as you mentioned earlier, he was due in February. It's May. But anyway, Mayor Nutter, is the problem the vetting or is it unfair expectations?
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
CABRERA: I mean, Donald Trump is a different kind of president. Doesn't it make sense he would have a different kind of staff, could you argue?
NUTTER: No, and, Jeffrey, you need to cut it out. You know this is bad.
LORD: You're right.
NUTTER: You just ran right past the fact that the president has to take responsibility for this. Forget about -- I love, maybe you didn't, President Obama in his eight years. But last I check he's out of office. There is a vetting that must take place before you even think about nominating someone before you speak their name in public. You have already gone through a double vet. President Trump likes to talk about extreme vetting. This was for the National Security adviser. So cut it out.
There's nothing to do with President Barack Obama. There is a thing, Jeffrey, that was created -- I know you were in the Reagan administration but since then there's this new thing out called the Internet. You can find out all kinds of information if you go on to your little device or computers. And when you fill out your clearance form, like I've had to in the past, the things that Mr. Flynn is being accused of, or that he did, you actually have to put on the form.
So this is all the Trump administration and it's really indicative of the arrogance and ignorance with which they've approached putting their team together in the first place.
CABRERA: Jeffrey, I'd like to ask you about your experience working in the White House. At some point surely as these open jobs caused problems for staff, don't they? You look at the State Department and a third of ambassadorships have not been filled. Undersecretary and assistant secretary positions are still open. We're talking about hundreds of positions overall in the administration. Doesn't this have an impact?
LORD: There are a couple of things that are at play here. One I think is unique to Donald Trump. I think he genuinely believes that some of these positions are not necessary and why fill them. So that's number one. It's probably unique to him. But there is a second thing that went on in the Reagan administration that's going on in the Trump administration and I'm sure it went on in the Obama administration as well, and I can give you an example.
A friend was nominated to be secretary of Transportation. He was cleared. He wanted to appoint a specific person as his communications director. That specific person had problems with the Reagans. And therefore that nomination wasn't going to be approved until certain things were taken care of. They went through this all through the Reagan administration with candidates who had worked in the Bush campaign, for example, even though George H.W. Bush was vice president where one candidate was vetoed for a job in the Reagan-Meese Justice Department.
CABRERA: Right. Right. There are a lot of examples where that happens.
LORD: They want people who are loyal to the candidate and loyal to the president. And that takes time.
CABRERA: But -- but what's the impact on -- it does take time. But what's the impact of having all of these positions still left open? And even if there are -- maybe there is some trimming of the fat to be done to your point if we were just to accept that, at some point, though, there's an impact to things getting done, is there not?
LORD: Well, sure, if you just extend it forever and a day but that's not going to happen here. I mean, these positions are going to get filled and will go on. I mean, things are rolling along as they are. He just got his health care bill out of the House. So, you know, life moves on.
CABRERA: All right. Mayor Nutter, I know you are the Philadelphia mayor, of course. One of the country's biggest --
NUTTER: Going nowhere in the Senate.
CABRERA: But I'd love to get your input from your shoes and the positions you've held. How did you handle criticism of your hiring decisions?
[20:25:03] NUTTER: Sure. Well, first and foremost, Ana, the answer to your original question just now to Jeff is, yes, it has an impact on departments and maybe the president should not have had a massacre of the ambassador corps requiring everyone to resign at the same time, again, not understanding that it actually takes time to vet your own folks and get them confirmed. Second, you know, much of this process actually quietly, you know, every candidate should at least consider that they might possibly win.
So you start thinking on a separate track that you're actually going to start identifying folks that you would want to have in these critical positions and then you accelerate it after the elections. So they've been slow from the start. And then they were even slower, kind of getting up and running. It's May. And you've got a ton of positions unfilled. It does have an impact on the departments and agencies. People want to do their work. They want to know who they report to. What's the direction? What's our focus? What's our mission?
And some of these agencies are being run by folks who are a couple of rungs down from the secretary's office or the ambassadorship and so you can't just say it is not running like a fine-tuned machine as the president likes to say. The wheels are starting to come off of this a little bit.
CABRERA: All right. We'll leave it there.
LORD: Ana --
CABRERA: You've got the first, we'll give Mayor Michael Nutter the last. We've got to leave it there. Thank you both, gentlemen.
Coming up, the president takes a victory lap on health care. But is he ready for a bigger fight ahead in the Senate? A preview of what's to come next.
[20:30:51] CABRERA: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks for staying with us.
President Trump and House Republicans celebrated their narrow health care victory in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, but the bloom is already off that rose. Senate Republicans are making it clear this House bill won't survive intact. And they will go their own way on health care.
Here is CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly with what happens next.
TRUMP: This has really brought the Republican Party together.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump and congressional Republicans despite this very public celebration and this declaration.
TRUMP: We're going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident.
MATTINGLY: Are quickly coming to grips with reality. The Senate is going to do its own thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will write its own bill. I mean, that's the way it works, right?
MATTINGLY: Senate Republicans will need at least 50 of their 52 GOP senators to sign on to a final bill for it to pass the chamber. So far many are cold to the very proposal their House colleagues labored for weeks to squeeze through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.
MATTINGLY: Already making clear statements from the structure of the tax credit to the sunset of the Medicaid expansion, Obamacare's regulatory infrastructure, even the bill's defunding of Planned Parenthood. Each major piece will need to be rewritten.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: There'll be no artificial deadlines. We'll carefully consider the legislation passed by the House. We will work together carefully to write our own bill. We will make sure we know what our bill costs when we vote on it.
MATTINGLY: Top senators from across the party's ideological spectrum now committed to working groups, an effort GOP aides say to reach crucial consensus before publicly moving forward on the bill. The 13- member Senate can GOP working group doesn't, however, include any of the five Republican women. But the push and pull inside the party is reminiscent of the fractures that nearly killed the bill in the House.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: I think insurance can be made less expensive through market forces and through competition, but I think the federal government being involved purchasing it actually sets a floor for the price and it may well keep the price of health insurance out of the reach of many people.
MATTINGLY: Where disagreements remain sharp on the balance between what the proper role is for government in the system.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life.
MATTINGLY: With one GOP senator even citing what has become a Democratic rallying cry.
KIMMEL: Let's stop with the nonsense.
MATTINGLY: And late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel as his metric for care.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I asked, does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test? Will the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life. I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. So simple answer, I want to make sure, and the Cassidy-Collins bill accomplishes this, that if a child is born and has the Tetralogy of Fallot, I think that's what his child had, that they would receive all the services even if they go over a certain amount. It's simple answer. I want to make sure folks get the care they need.
CABRERA: That was Phil Mattingly reporting.
Coming up, an ambitious agenda for President Trump's first international trip. How will he handle visits to capitals of three major world religions. The preview next.
[20:38:13] CABRERA: President Trump later this month leaving the country for the first time since taking office. Stops on his agenda include Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican. the geographic capitals of three major world religions.
Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is with us from Washington.
Elise, the president is wading into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, taking relations with the Muslim world. How significant is it that he's going to visit all of these places on his first trip?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think it's significant, Ana, because what his advisers are presenting this is, is by going to all the centers of the great religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, he's trying to, you know, present this new front, to get this new coalition against the forces of intolerance. I mean, in Saudi Arabia he will be meeting not only with the Saudi leaders but also Arab and Muslim leaders to try and get a coalition together to fight extremism and I think calm out some of the perceptions that this president is Islamaphobic. And in the -- in Jerusalem he'll be meeting with Israeli leaders, he'll be making a very historic visit to Musada, where he'll be making an address but also going to Bethlehem to be meeting with President Abbas.
So I think, you know, by going to all of these different religions, they're trying to say that he's trying to get the whole world in a common fight against terrorism.
CABRERA: And trying to broker peace of course a big issue there.
LABOTT: That's right.
CABRERA: Between Israel and the Palestinians. The president a few days ago made a pretty bold statement about the difficulty of resolving the Middle East conflict. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's something that I think is rightly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years but we need to willing parties. We believe Israel is willing. We believe you're willing. And if you both are willing, we're going to make a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [20:40:06] CABRERA: This was during the visit by the Palestinian leader but he says not as difficult as people have thought. No president has managed to broker a lasting peace in the Middle East. Could this be part of the president's self-proclaimed mastery of negotiation?
LABOTT: Well, if only it with were that easy, Ana. And as you say, this has bedeviled countless presidents. I think that President Trump is only now starting to get an education on this issue, and certainly this trip will really be fascinating because most of his experience to this point has really been dealing with the Israeli side of the story. He's done business with Israelis. He knew Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders.
He's just only now meeting President Abbas. He's been talking with Arab leaders about the Palestinian side of the conflict. And he'll be going to Bethlehem where that, you know, famous wall between Israel and the Palestinian territory snakes through this whole area. And he's going to see it from the Palestinian side for the first time and see how complex this conflict is and I think he's going to realize that this is not as he's compared to some real estate deal. This is a multifaceted complex and that's why it has eluded so many presidents.
CABRERA: Elise Labott, thank you.
Coming up, part of the loophole. What goats have to do with the big tax break Trump scored on his Bedminster golf club.
[20:45:43] CABRERA: The president is spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, tweeting today, "The reason I am staying in Bedminster, New Jersey, a beautiful community, is that staying in New York City is much more expensive and disruptive. Meetings."
The small town of Bedminster that voted to put him in office isn't exactly rolling out the red carpet for him.
CNN's Brynn Gingrass has the story.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tucked away in the country hills of Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump National Golf Club.
TRUMP: This has been a very special place right from day one.
GINGRAS: The 500-acre property has been a retreat for the Trump family since 2004, the location of Ivanka and Jared Kushner's wedding and what's expected to be the weekend White House for President Trump this summer.
The Secret Service spotted in the air and on the ground, a dramatic change for this sleepy town that has just 16 police officers. MAYOR STEVEN PARKER, BEDMINSTER, NEW JERSEY: I think we're well-
prepared. Talking to people around town they are kind of anxious and a little excited and a little wary, too, because we don't know what it's going to be, but we're taking a wait and see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coffee, sir? Just one? Anything else?
GINGRAS: Donald Trump's favorite meal at his go-to pizza joint?
ELISA PANNIA, BEDMINSTER PIZZA: He wants meatball and no cheese.
GINGRAS (on camera): How often would he come in here?
PANNIA: He would come out a couple of times a year in the summer when he comes down and plays golf. He would come out. He will drive himself, come out, like a normal person.
GINGRAS (voice-over): But there's nothing normal about a presidential visit. This winter, the locals here got a taste of what's coming when then president-elect Trump interviewed Cabinet members. But the costs surrounding his visits, that's the concerned for some of the town's 8200 residents. Mayor Steven Parker is asking Congress for $300,000 for the estimated expenses to protect Trump.
PARKER: We came up with a guess of about seven visits and we thought it could cost as much as $300,000. Break that down, $40,000, $42,000 a visit. $42,000 is a half a percent on our budget.
GINGRAS: And some residents here not quick to forget this. A small herd of goats that roamed the Bedminster golf course helping Trump qualify for farmland tax break and get out of paying thousands in taxes.
Anne Choi, a business owner herself, moved here two years ago from a home near Camp David. This home is just a mile down the road from the golf course entrance.
ANNE CHOI, LIVE NEAR TRUMP GOLF CLUB: The president has Secret Service agents or traffic, reporters, not that that's always a bad thing, but it's certainly not what we were looking for when we moved out here.
GINGRAS: Choi didn't vote for Trump. He lost this county in the 2016 election, but won the town of Bedminster by just eight votes. She plans to protest his visit simply by placing this sign on her front yard.
CHOI: It would be great if stayed in the White House where the president should be rather than going on weekend jaunts to his properties.
GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, Bedminster.
CABRERA: Our thanks to Brynn. Model and "Keeping Up with the Kardashian" star Kendall Jenner is once
again at the center of controversy for a media campaign and it's all over the cover of "Vogue India." The fashion magazine is being blasted online for this. The cover featuring Jenner says on its tenth anniversary issue, and at issue here is "Vogue India" did not have an Indian model on the cover. The magazine says 90 percent of its covers have featured Indian models. This new Kendall controversy comes barely a month after her Pepsi commercial was pulled after online backlash.
Coming up, Anthony Bourdain's alternative tour of Los Angeles. A preview of tonight's episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN." Plus a TV show that's a knockout, literally. How a "Seinfeld" star sent a politician to the hospital.
[20:53:45] CABRERA: Laughter may be the best medicine. Not so much for this guy who knocked himself out laughing at the HBO series "Veep."
CNN's Jeanne Moos has the sushi story that's hard to swallow but it's true.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Veep" is a political comedy that's supposed to leave you in stitches, but not these stitches. An Australian member of parliament, Graham Perrett, was at home watching the show.
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, "VEEP" ACTOR: What happened to your lip?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mod bit me.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: You should put her down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my daughter, ma'am.
MOOS: Soon it was Perrett being asked, what happened to your cheek bone?
(On camera): It all started with a little takeout sushi in front of the TV.
(Voice-over): Perrett told BBC Radio.
GRAHAM PERRETT, AUSTRALIAN MP: I just laughed at the wrong time and I think some rice like went down my airway and I started coughing and choking and laughing at the same time.
MOOS: The sushi got stuck while Perrett was laughing at this scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out. Guards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. MOOS: A TV anchor discovers a congressman shaving his head to look
like he has cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who recently had a closed shave with cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't.
MOOS: In the feat of choking and coughing, Perrett stumbled to the kitchen.
PERRETT: I think I hit the wall and then hit the kitchen island like a granite top.
[20:55:02] MOOS (on camera): For a second he was knocked out. Next thing he knew his wife was there. She came running thinking she might have to do the Heimlich.
PERRETT: And had blood everywhere.
MOOS (voice-over): They ended up going to the emergency room where Perrett got three stitches. Reminds us of the time President George W. Bush choked on a pretzel while watching football and fainted. Check out the bruise.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Always listen to your mother, who told me chew your pretzels before you swallow.
MOOS: And swallow your sushi before laughing. The star of "Veep" Julia Louis-Dreyfus sent Perrett exchanged tweets. He praised the show as pure gold and called her "your highness."
"For God's sake, be careful," she replied.
When President Bush choked on his pretzel he woke up to Barney and Spot while Perrett woke up to his wife. At least she didn't give him the "Veep" treatment.
LOUIS-DREYFUS: God. Be careful because that cabinet is valuable.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CABRERA: At least he's still smiling even with that black eye.
Well, on the new season of "PARTS UNKNOWN," every dish tells a story. And Anthony Bourdain is determined to taste them all. Up first, an alternative tour of Los Angeles. I sat down with Bourdain to get a preview.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": It's really an exploration of, you know, how Mexican in Southern California, how American are the Chicanos. How American or Mexican are the Chicanos. They are such an important part of our cultural tissue. Music, food, identity, workforce, so we really want to look at Los Angeles, this most photographed of cities entirely through a Mexican and Chicano prism and also to answer the pressing question of why is Morrissey so popular with Mexicans and Chicanos? It's one of the most fascinating things that came up.
CABRERA: What can you tell us about that?
BOURDAIN: You'll have to watch the show. But it is not something you'd expect.
CABRERA: Is Mexican food what we all know it in this episode from what you experienced, what you ate?
BOURDAIN: I mean, we eat a lot of the kind of authentic Mexican street food that people already more familiar with.
CABRERA: Because the (INAUDIBLE) influence, too. There's specifically that I know you explored.
BOURDAIN: Yes. But it's perhaps the most important emerging, exciting and important emerging cuisine. It's the least understood. Young Mexican chefs and Mexican-American chefs are making -- are finally, you know, looking back to the deep complexity and sophistication and quality of traditional Mexican ingredients and particularly their sauces and those are finally beginning to be understood and valued as they should be.
CABRERA: What do you see as the key ingredient?
BOURDAIN: Time. Time.
BOURDAIN: Something like a (INAUDIBLE) sauce. That's an incredible amount of time to make with, you know, upwards of 20 ingredients. These are deep nuanced sophisticated sauces and techniques as anything the French ever came up with.
CABRERA: It's not as simple as just throwing some beans in a tortilla.
CABRERA: That's my style of Mexican. I have Mexican heritage myself.
CABRERA: So I say that because I love that kind of food.
BOURDAIN: Even good beans, that's a long, careful process where you've got to get that just right.
CABRERA: Yes. When you talk about again the influence not just in California, but the influence of undocumented immigrants in our country.
CABRERA: Which again is heightened in that area, it seems that immigrants and the food industry are often intertwined. And I'm wondering your take in terms of if all of those undocumented workers who are part of the food industry were to leave.
CABRERA: Where would that leave us?
BOURDAIN: Well, food would rot in the fields to start with. Every stage of the food chain. The growing, production, gathering, harvesting, processing, shipping, serving and cleaning up after, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, a large number of undocumented immigrants are rightly or wrongly absolutely vital everywhere. Every undocumented Mexican to not show up to work tomorrow America would find out real quick what kind of economic impact that would have and this big gaping hole in a way we live.
CABRERA: You can catch this episode of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" next.
I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll see you back here at 5:00 Eastern tomorrow. Have a great night.