Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Tweets He's Being Investigated for Firing Comey; U.S. Sailors Missing After Ships Collide; U.S. Troops Wounded in Afghanistan Insider Attack; Mistrial Declared in Cosby Case; What Triggers a Political Hate Crime?; Vice President, Defender-in-Chief?; Keeping Police Dogs Safe on the Job. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 17, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:01:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for spending part of your weekend with us.

With President Trump himself now saying he is under investigation for obstruction of justice, there are growing concerns he will attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the man who appointed him, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Today we're learning one of those men might take action first. Sources tell CNN the deputy attorney general is contemplating whether to recuse himself and become a witness instead.

You'll remember Rosenstein wrote that memo the White House originally claimed led to James Comey's firing. This is a significant detail because it's exactly what the president appears to reference yesterday when he tweeted this.

"I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt."

Now while the president continues to publicly discredit the investigation calling it phony and a witch hunt, privately he seems to be taking it very seriously. He just hired another lawyer.

He is not the only one. All of these people, take a look here, all of these people connected to the Trump campaign have lawyered up now. Vice President Mike Pence hired a criminal defense attorney yesterday. That same day, campaign communications adviser Michael Caputo also got an attorney. And the president's long-time lawyer Michael Cohen sought legal help of his own.

Let's talk more about the impact all this could have as the investigation moves forward. Back with me CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor who has worked closely with Robert Mueller, Michael Zeldin, and deputy managing editor of "The Weekly Standard," Kelly Jane Torrance.

Michael, there was something you wanted to say last hour but we ran out of time. Paul Callan had just said he thinks President Trump will try to fire Mueller. What's your take? MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So President Trump by statute

can't fire Mueller. The only person that can fire Mueller is the attorney general and that person is now recused. So the only person who can by statute fire Mueller is Rosenstein. Rosenstein has said that the only way you'll fire special counsel is if there's cause, if they've made a misjudgment, a miscalculation, something like that. And he doesn't see any of that now. And it strikes everyone that Rosenstein would resign rather than fire Mueller if there was no cause to do it, which would leave it to Rachel Brand who is the associate attorney general who's been on the job for three weeks.

And so I think that this is a lot of talk but it strikes me as being just that. I can't imagine in legal terms he would do this, that he can do this, and your other guest will talk about the political consequences if he does this as well.

CABRERA: Right. Let me read that tweet again.

ZELDIN: So I think it's much more --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: You know, the tweet that we read, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch Hunt." I mean, is it possible that in this tweet the president is trying to force Rosenstein to recuse himself?

ZELDIN: Well, it doesn't make sense to me. Rosenstein has very little to do with this day-to-day. If he became a witness, and I don't know that becoming a collateral witness of the type that he would be precludes him from remaining in charge of the oversight of this. But remember oversight just means he's there at a distance, keeping tabs on Mueller to see that he doesn't violate the statute which involves misconduct. So it's not like it's a day-to-day active oversight of the investigation. It's a very passive role that he plays.

So if he resigns or steps aside to be a witness, if he's fired, it doesn't impact Mueller's investigation whatsoever. So that's why I don't think it really is in legal terms a very significant proposition here.

CABRERA: OK. Kelly Jane, publicly the president calls this a witch hunt, says it's a phony investigation, but then privately he's hiring attorneys. Is this rhetoric an attempt to discredit the investigation that he privately takes seriously or what do you make of this word versus action?

[20:05:08] KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, it's difficult to tell with Donald Trump, isn't it? And you know, he has been -- his tweets on this matter have been unending and unceasing. And I don't think these lawyers he's hiring are necessarily doing a good job if they're not advising him to stop tweeting.

It's really the reason that people are focusing on this so much in the first place. We wouldn't even be talking about Russia still if Donald Trump hadn't kept bringing it up and he hadn't talked about saying that the Russia investigation is the reason he fired James Comey.

And, you know, I spent some time trying to figure out what is going through the president's mind and, you know, if he hasn't done anything wrong, why won't he let this issue go? And you know, one thing I'm wondering is, this is a man who doesn't have a lot of self-control and I think he is just incredibly impatient.

He did not want to wait for James Comey to do a thorough, fair investigation, leave it to him and wait for the results for him to be exonerated if he didn't do anything wrong. And it seems to me that, you know, he should have learned his lesson that by firing Comey and making this investigation more of an issue he's made it more difficult for himself, but he just can't seem to help himself.

CABRERA: So, Kelly Jane, you think that this is a lack of self- control versus strategy in these tweets that we're seeing?

TORRANCE: Yes. You know, may be some strategy, but the way Donald Trump tweets, it's hard to believe he has serious strategy behind them. You know, using the term witch hunt repeatedly, that's not very good strategy because I don't think most people are taking it very seriously. And, you know, given, you know, the time -- the day, in fact, that he'll do it at various times. He'll repeatedly tweet on different things. He sounds very angry. He doesn't sound like someone who's in control of the situation, and that is also one of the problems.

You know, he is a businessman and he talked about he would run this country as a businessman. He's discovered that's not the way the presidency works. You have these people who are your employees but their loyalty is not just to you, it is to the Constitution and to the country and so he's expecting a certain kind of behavior from the executive branch officials that is not going to be available for him.

CABRERA: Michael, this is kind of interesting. "The New York Times" is reporting the president's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is now telling White House aides it's not necessary for them to hire attorneys yet. Do you agree with that advice?

ZELDIN: I think that if I were in the orbit of the special counsel, I would want to have counsel myself. May not be necessary, but it may be prudent. And in these times where there's so much charge to the investigation, political and legal, it's just, I think, a safer proposition to do that. Maybe more expensive, but it's probably safer.

CABRERA: And if Mueller then concludes that President Trump's actions do amount to abuse of power of some kind, which we talked about last hour, which do you think of the president's actions would have brought him to this conclusion or that finding?

ZELDIN: So let's assume that he doesn't testify under oath or if he does testify under oath he testifies 100 percent truthfully because if he testifies under oath and lies, that will be the biggest problem that he has. If he testifies truthfully or doesn't testify, the biggest problems I think that he has are the request for people from the intelligence community to intervene with the FBI, to put an end to the investigation, and with himself potentially asking Comey to have essentially put the investigation behind him, that hope conversation in the Oval Office. So it's that intervention to end an investigation I think that raises the biggest problem for the president short of a lie himself.

CABRERA: All right. And Kelly Jane, we know that the House Intelligence Committee is going to be interviewing Jeh Johnson from the Obama administration this week. What will you be listening for in that testimony?

TORRANCE: I mean, the sort of issues that Michael is talking about. You know, they need to know what went on behind the scenes and who was involved and did anybody once the Obama administration was out and the Trump administration was brought in, did anybody try to hinder that investigation? Because keep in mind, the Russia investigation was started under the Obama administration and it was, you know, on the whole done by career officials, not partisans.

You know, I know we like to hear a lot about the deep state, but these are people who have been working in the FBI and the Justice Department for years. They take their job very seriously, so the question is going to be what was happening before Donald Trump came in and what was happening after -- after he came in.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: All right.

ZELDIN: And on the -- the testimony that I think is really going to be important is the testimony that's upcoming by the intelligence community, Coats, Rogers, Pompeo. They were all going to be asked by Mueller, were you asked by the president to intervene in this investigation, to push back against the media.

CABRERA: Right.

[20:10:04] ZELDIN: That's going to be outcome determinative in many respects of where Mueller takes this investigation.

CABRERA: Well, some of them were asked in that open hearing that we saw -- was it last week or the week before?

TORRANCE: Yes.

CABRERA: It's all starting to blend together. But they wouldn't say. They said, well, we can talk more about this in a closed hearing. So we'll be watching and waiting.

ZELDIN: They'll talk about it with Mueller.

CABRERA: Michael Zeldin and Kelly Jane Torrance, thank you both for joining us and offering your expertise tonight. I want to get to some breaking news right now in the Pacific. A

desperate search and rescue mission against the clock for a number of American sailors whose fate and location still not known. They've been missing now since their ship, a U.S. destroyer, collided with a massive cargo vessel in waters off Japan. It happened at night there local time. The Navy doesn't yet know if those sailors are missing, were thrown overboard or if they could be trapped in parts of the destroyer that flooded when the haul of that ship was torn open.

I want to bring in CNN international correspondent Alexandra Field who was at the Navy 7th Fleet headquarters.

You've been monitoring the latest developments, Alexandra. Obviously daylight there now. That's a big help to these search cruise. What are you hearing about any progress they may have made?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the message from the 7th Fleet this morning, Ana, is that the search continues. Remember, they are out there looking for some of their own, seven of their own, sailors who have not been heard from. It's been 30 hours since that U.S. warship which left this U.S. Naval base on a routine operation collided with that much bigger container ship. So what you have going on right are really two search areas. You've got boats and aircraft both from the U.S. and the Japanese scouring the area where that collision happened trying to find any sign of sailors under the possibility that those sailors could have been thrown overboard when the two boats collided.

You also have another search that's going on right here at the base of that U.S. vessel, the destroyer, was brought back here to Yokosuka. You have divers that are out there now. They have been searching there. They'll be looking at the most heavily damaged portions, of course, of the destroyer. They'll be trying to get into every compartment. And of course, that is to see whether or not any of those sailors could have become trapped when the destroyer was hit.

Don't forget, there was damage that was happening above and below the waterline. We're now told that there was heavy flooding to the machine room, a radio room and some of the berth rooms. Water was pumped out of the ship that's why it was able to return here. But now the very, very strenuous detailed work is being done to try and cover every inch of that big ship to see if they can locate those soldiers -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Alexandra Field, thank you. Keep us posted.

Also overseas, seven U.S. troops are injured after what's being called an insider or a green-on-blue attack today in Afghanistan. It happened at Camp Shaheen in northern Afghanistan. The wounded troops were evacuated for treatment. An Afghan military spokesman tells CNN an Afghan soldier opened fire on these coalition troops there.

Currently there are about 8400 U.S. troops in the country, and this week President Trump gave Defense Secretary James Mattis full authority to send more troops to Afghanistan.

I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

Elise, this is the latest now on a string of attacks where Afghan soldiers have opened fire on U.S. or coalition troops, and the second one, in fact, in just a week. What's going on?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, in effect you seem to have these infiltrators. The Taliban, we don't really know necessarily about the Afghan command that was accused of shooting the soldiers today that the Afghan police said that he -- the Afghan government said that he shot these soldiers today, but last week in the Nangarhar Province, as you mentioned, three soldiers were killed and that seems to be a Taliban infiltrator. So what's happening is you have these Afghan commandoes that are, you know, maybe not vetted as properly as they need to be by the Afghan army and that's why the United States is saying that it's so important that U.S. soldiers are there to continue to train up the Afghan army.

They've made a lot of progress, but clearly these green-on-blue attacks, while they had decreased in recent years, this year has been a very big problem.

CABRERA: So how do you think this will affect the debate over sending more troops to Afghanistan?

LABOTT: I don't know that it's necessarily going to affect the outcome. Certainly it will affect the debate as people are concerned that U.S. soldiers are getting caught in the crossfire, but I think you'll hear from Secretary Mattis and his aides that this just increases the need for the U.S. to double down on its commitment to train up those Afghan forces. Perhaps there'll be more attention on vetting. Perhaps there'll be more attention on intelligence to make sure that there are no infiltrators.

But Secretary Mattis has made clear that the U.S. needs to continue to provide those resources, will need a bump up in forces to continue to get the job done. And President Trump has also said that the only way to get the U.S. out of the Afghan war is to help win the war.

[20:15:05] And as you've seen an increase in attacks by ISIS as well in the country, I think you'll see that Defense Secretary Mattis won't be deterred by these attacks.

CABRERA: All right. Elise Labott, thank you.

Some breaking news right now on the West Coast. You're looking live at a wild fire burning out of control just 40 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Officials say the Lake Fire, that's what they're calling it, has already scorched 500 acres. It is zero percent contained.

Again these are live pictures, aerial views from our affiliate KABC where you see that huge plume of smoke, lots of flame. They're using a tractor to carve a fire break into the ridge, we're learning. And just moments before this, a plane passed over the blaze so we know they are giving it all they have. We're working to find out whether any evacuation orders are in place right now. We will keep you updated as we learn more. Coming up, prosecutors say they will retry Bill Cosby after a hung

jury resulted in a mistrial today. We have an exclusive interview with the Cosby defense team.

We're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:20:13] CABRERA: Anyone expecting a verdict in the Bill Cosby assault case will not get one. The jury in Norris Town, Pennsylvania, failed to reach a verdict. It's a mistrial. But the legal process, this could play out in court again.

CNN correspondent Jean Casarez is there outside the courtroom near Philadelphia.

Jean, you just did an exclusive interview. Tell us about your conversation with Cosby's lead defense attorney.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brian McMonagle was on this case from the very beginning as the lead attorney, and he told me just minutes ago that during the deliberations he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders because he felt personally responsible for what this jury would do regard to his client, Bill Cosby.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: The judge has declared a mistrial. Is that a win for you? Is that a loss for you?

BRIAN MCMONAGLE, BILL COSBY'S LEAD DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Any time you start a trial and end a trial with your client being presumed innocent, it can't be a loss. Having said that, there are no winners here. We tried a case for a week. The jury deliberated for 50 some hours without a verdict. But, you know, as I've said many times before, as long as you can leave that courtroom with your client presumed innocent as he began, then I'm satisfied.

CASAREZ: This was a drug facilitated sexual assault case. Did you pause at all?

MCMONAGLE: I never pause when I have the opportunity to defend someone like him who maintains his innocence, who from the beginning has assured me that I'll be able to represent him and do so with dignity, and I'm a trial lawyer. My job is to go in and defend people who are accused of a crime and require that the prosecution be put to the test. No matter what's written, no matter what's said outside of a courtroom, I require people who are going to make accusations to be put to the test and I welcome that opportunity here.

I will say to you, though, that I was always a big Bill Cosby fan. I'm from Philadelphia. I was born there and Bill Cosby means a lot to a lot of us in this area. So when I got that call, I said yes.

CASAREZ: Had you ever met him before? MCMONAGLE: Never. Never met him. I had never seen him perform, but

I probably watched him on TV more than I care to admit. I go back to "I Spy" so I go way back. But I've been a fan of Mr. Cosby's forever and now I get the opportunity to call him my client and my friend.

CASAREZ: What was it like to meet him way back then?

MCMONAGLE: I met him in New York at his home there, and it was -- it was rather awesome. He is a very engaging fella. He's remarkably funny and amazingly bright. I think that's the one thing that stunned me the most not ever having met him before was his ability to interact on any number of levels about any number of subjects. He's just a remarkably brilliant man, and he put me at ease, which was much needed the first time I met him. He was a lot taller, more gregarious than I would have expected, and we got along right from the start.

CASAREZ: Do you --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: I asked Mr. McMonagle if Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted women through the decades, did he do this? He said, no, he did not. He swore to me he did not do this. Mr. McMonagle told me that when the jury came into the courtroom today that he saw two female jurors that were crying. He said that last night he saw a juror sleeping as there was another read back. He said that he almost fell asleep, too, because of the hours, 12-hour days of deliberations. Then he said he was very concerned about Mr. Cosby this last week because he's 79 years old, just about to turn 80, and those are very long days for someone like him, but he said it was Cosby that actually kept them all going through such a tough time this last week not knowing what the jury was going to do -- Ana.

CABRERA: Interesting. Of course, there'll be a new jury as this case goes into another trial of some sort. Is there a timeline on when that might happen?

CASAREZ: Yes. Within about 120 days the judge said today in court he wants to retry this almost immediately, and so I think it will start very swiftly. And I asked Mr. McMonagle, are you going to do this a second time? He said, well, we'll see. If I'm asked by Mr. Cosby, I just might.

CABRERA: All right. Jean Casarez, great reporting. Hard work out there. Thank you.

Coming up, we get more details about the shooter who opened fire at a congressional baseball practice.

[20:25:03] We take a closer look at what triggers a political hate crime. We're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: This just in to CNN. A noose was found today happening outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This is the third time a noose has been found at the Smithsonian Institution facility in recent weeks. A park policewoman says the noose today was hanging from the lamp post outside the National Gallery. Previously nooses were found at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, as well as the Hirshhorn Museum.

We have an update on House Majority Whip Steve Scalise as well right now. Another surgery today and his condition fortunately has been upgraded from critical to serious. And just moments ago his account tweeted this out. "Steve is watching LSU baseball rooting hard for a big Tigers win tonight."

[20:30:04] Scalise was shot in the hip on Wednesday at a practice for the Republican congressional baseball team. The bullet damaged his internal organs and he lost a lot of blood. That sent him into shock. Meanwhile, the FBI has finished collecting evidence at the park where the shooting happened. On the street and in the recreational areas around the park, except the baseball field, are back open. The field is supposed to re-open tomorrow. Of course all this was closed since the shooting.

Meanwhile, officials are continuing to dig into the gunman's past. And we've learned the shooter had a list of seven Republican congressmen with him. No one who was shot was actually on that list. And he posted anti-Trump comments on social media.

Also James Hodgkinson had a very troubled family history. His foster daughter reportedly committed suicide by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire. Hodgkinson himself was once charged with battery on a different female family member.

Let's talk more about this with sociologist and chairman of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime, Randy Blazak, and retired FBI special agent Bobby Chacon.

So, Bobby, when you look at Hodgkinson's profile, what we're learning about him, what concerns you more, the family history or the politically angry mindset that we're learning about through social media?

BOBBY CHACON, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I think that that's -- I think it's the dangerous combination of the two. And that's what we have the perfect storm with an individual like this, is the family history, the violent history and then himself getting, you know, kind of radicalized on the Internet with hateful speech that we see every day from both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between.

It seems the rhetoric has gotten more vitriolic than ever. And I think -- you know, I think he was a politically active guy last year and he was of the Occupy Movement. And he -- you know, even at some of those times he had some violence associated with him. So I think this was the perfect storm.

I think both of those things, you know, came together and luckily that, you know, this doesn't happen often and I don't think that just the rhetoric causes it. I think you had somebody who obviously was mentally unstable and had a violent history and then got himself, you know, worked up on some of these other issues. And I think it just came together in the worst possible case.

CABRERA: Now, Randy, you have studied political violence from a historical perspective. What stands out about Hodgkinson's profile to you and what triggers someone to go from expressing angry political views to opening fire on a member of Congress?

RANDY BLAZAK, CHAIRMAN, OREGON COALITION AGAINST HATE CRIME: Yes, I mean, I think the notion of a perfect storm is absolutely right. And what we're seeing with social media is what we've sort of seen a long time with the people on the extremes, which is they sink into this sub-cultural world where there's a way of rationalizing the world that happens. Often it's very conspiratorial and there's not a lot of counter narrative.

So the social media, you know, we refer to it as an echo chamber but that's kind of misleading because echoes fade away. It's really a magnification chamber. And we've done amazing research in the last few years about how people become addicted to just the likes they get on the post that they post. And so people sink farther and farther into that world via social media. And there's really no safety valve to where it comes to this explosive head.

And it's frightening to think that there's more and more people like this who are in their own little universes getting angry at the world through their social media platforms and thinking about who they would target if they could.

CABRERA: You think the social media is a big reason we're seeing the divisive nature and what's become so heated in terms of the rhetoric itself?

BLAZAK: Well, we can literally delete the people who disagree with us in social media. I mean it's become a way of being in this world where we're constantly reassured for our views and anything that contradicts that is left out of it. So we've been doing a lot of work trying to encourage people to take a step away from social media and television as well, to kind of re-engage with people in the real world, including having conversations with things other than politics.

You can agree with someone completely on some political issue but if you have a conversation with them about something that you have in common whether it's sports or music, or even the weather, we find that those conversations when you come back to them are much more civil.

CABRERA: Interesting.

Bobby, you've kind of talked about some red flags that are red flagged in hindsight. CNN has reported that the Secret Service did not have Hodgkinson on their radar. Do you think they should have picked up on some of these red flags beforehand?

CHACON: No, I don't. And I think that this is -- you know, this may have been an individual that they may have had on their radar years ago, pre-social media, pre-Internet. If he had written these comments and sent them to the White House, this might have been the kind of thing that they went and knocked on his door. But with the advent of the Internet and there are so many of these people saying so many of these things, we can't police the Internet with the millions of comments that are happening every day and the rhetoric seems to be ratcheted up daily worse and worse all the time.

So it's -- you know, the Secret Service has their hands full. I mean, this is -- the sheer volume of the rhetoric and the -- these kind of comments, you know, you look back and even to take something where you can track some of these people that are making the comments and then track them to, you know, criminal histories in the past, even that would be so onerous, I mean, as to be almost -- you know, it's mind boggling.

[20:35:17] As a law enforcement officer to think that an agency would be charged with trying to do that, it's mind boggling to be able to do that.

CABRERA: It does sound so difficult and yet prevention is so crucial. To try to prevent these incidents I think you both touched on some potential solutions in that direction.

Randy Blazak and Bobby Chacon, thank you both.

Coming up, what is it like to be Donald Trump's second-in-command? Next, the awkward moment that Vice President Mike Pence has put up with.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Tonight we've learned Vice President Mike Pence has retained a lawyer to respond to inquiries related to the Russia investigation. Pence has remained the loyal soldier to President Trump even though he has repeatedly found himself in awkward positions.

[20:40:05] Our Randi Kaye reports the awkwardness goes all the way back to the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And thanks to the leadership --

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After the firing of FBI director James Comey last month, Vice President Mike Pence insisted the president based his decision on recommendations he'd received.

PENCE: Let me be very clear that the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people.

KAYE: But the very next day President Trump put his vice president in an awkward light by telling NBC he'd made the decision to fire Comey on his own.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I did is I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not --

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: You had made the decision before they came --

TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey.

KAYE: And on top of that, even though Pence had said publicly that Trump's decision to fire Comey was not related to the Russia investigation --

PENCE: There is no evidence of collusion between -- between our campaign and -- and any Russian officials. That's not what -- and let me be clear.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But this investigation --

PENCE: That was not what this is about.

KAYE: He was proven wrong again.

TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.

KAYE (on camera): Also on Russia, back in January after then national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the vice president about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, Mike Pence went on national television defending Flynn's actions.

PENCE: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.

KAYE (voice-over): Later a spokesman for Flynn said that he couldn't be sure the topic of sanctions hadn't come up in conversations with Russia. He was soon fired but not before embarrassing the vice president.

In February after Trump blasted a judge for blocking his immigration ban, referring to him as a so-called judge, Pence once again was on cleanup duty.

PENCE: The president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government. I think people find it very refreshing that they not only understand this president's mind but they understand how he feels about things. He expresses himself in a unique way.

KAYE: And even before the election there were moments on the campaign trail that proved awkward for Pence.

Like when this "Access Hollywood" tape came out.

TRUMP: When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. BILLY BUSH, FORMER HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

KAYE: Pence said in a statement he was offended and cannot defend his then running mate but soon after when several women accused Trump of inappropriate behavior, he did just that.

PENCE: What he's made clear is that was talk, regrettable talk on his part, but that there were no actions and that he's categorically denied these latest unsubstantiated allegations.

KAYE: Mr. Vice President, a loyal soldier despite it all.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Coming up, CNN's Anderson Cooper takes us to a charity that helps keep police dogs safe.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:47:46] CABRERA: All this week CNN has been running a special series called "Champions for Change." A dozen CNN and HLN anchors went and spent time working alongside the people whose causes are close to their hearts. And we want you to meet them our "Champions for Change.

CNN's Anderson Cooper reports on Spike's K9 Fund, the charity that provides special training and equipment to keep police and military dogs safe on the job, and Anderson did a little something outside his own comfort zone to help raise money for these special dogs. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to step straight back.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're stepping out. I'm looking towards the planes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, straight back.

COOPER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can just think about falling.

COOPER: I don't want to think about falling. But OK.

(Voice-over): If you're friends with Jimmy Hatch, chances are you'll eventually end up here. On a plane climbing to 13,000 feet, about to do something a little crazy.

This group in the plane with me are mostly volunteers. We're all here for a fundraiser for Jimmy Hatch's charity Spike's K9 Fund, which raises money to help protect the lives of police dogs, buying them custom-made bulletproof vests.

(On camera): Wow, she's fast.

JIMMY HATCH, RETIRED U.S. NAVY AND FOUNDER OF SPIKE'S K9 FUND: She's an athlete, man.

COOPER (voice-over): I first met Jimmy two years ago when I interviewed him for a story. He served in the Navy for almost 26 years, most of it as part of a special missions unit with multiple tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Jimmy doesn't like to make a big deal of it, but he has seen a lot of combat in his life and he has done some remarkable things to help protect us.

On his last mission in Afghanistan in 2009, Jimmy was critically wounded, shot in the leg by a Taliban fighter while searching for Army Private Bowe Bergdahl. Jimmy's life was saved partly because of a military dog in his unit named Remco, who was the first to spot the Taliban fighter and the first to come under fire.

HATCH: I watched Remco. I watched his body language. And as it changed, I knew we were getting close to something. And then before I realized what was there, he took a couple rounds to the head with an AK-47 at about six inches.

[20:50:09] COOPER: Remco was killed and Jimmy nearly lost his leg. He was so badly wounded he had to retire from the Navy. But that didn't mean that Jimmy Hatch retire from serving. He found a new mission by founding Spike's K9 Fund, a charity named for the first dog he handled in the military, Spike, who was killed on a mission in Iraq in 2006.

HATCH: For me as a person who handled the dog, it was my duty I felt to make sure that he was protected. And when the dog gets hurt or, you know, killed, you failed.

COOPER: Jimmy is now dedicating his life helping train and protect police and military dogs. Jimmy helps police department K9 units around the country, often posing as a bad guy, a decoy to help train the dogs and get them used to wearing this vest. In some situations, police dogs are sent in when it's too risky for a police officer. The dogs find the suspect and grab onto him. It gives police officers valuable time to apprehend him.

Volunteering as a decoy is not glamorous work. Jimmy spends a lot of his time getting bitten by dogs over and over again.

This dog is wearing a custom-made bulletproof vest that Spike's K9 Fund got for him. It's lightweight so it doesn't slow the dog down, but it will protect him. It can save his life as well as the life of his human handler. These vests aren't cheap. They cost about $2500 apiece. All this training helps the dogs and their police handlers get better.

And though the dogs look scary, they can actually save a suspect's life, stopping him before he gets shot or tasered. The better trained the dogs are, the safer everyone is.

HATCH: Training is how, just like when I was in the military, it's the same thing, you train, train, train, train, and your odds of success go up.

COOPER: Spike's K9 Fund is a small charity. Jimmy runs it along with his director of operations, Emily Soccino.

EMILY SOCCINO, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, SPIKE'S K9 FUND: Currently we've helped dogs in 26 different states and I would like the whole map to be lit up with dogs that we've helped.

COOPER: Their office is Jimmy's kitchen table when the heat overhead low. Jimmy says more than 80 percent of the money donated goes to dogs' vests and medical expenses, which sometimes aren't covered by local police departments. He's gotten vests for at least 288 police dogs so far. By the end of the year, he'd like to be able to say he's outfitted at least 500 police dogs.

Last month, I met up with Jimmy when he was working with the Norfolk Police K9 Unit.

HATCH: Anderson, come on in here. Listen to this dog, man. See how he keeps biting to get deeper?

COOPER: One of their police dogs, Krijger, was shot to death in 2016. And through Spike's K9 Fund, I was able to help get bulletproof vests for a number of police dogs in the area. Officer Ryan McNiff was Krijger's partner.

RYAN MCNIFF, POLICE OFFICER, NORFOLK POLICE DEPARTMENT: So this guy right here was named in honor of Anderson Cooper as Stacey.

COOPER: Thanks to Spike's K9 Fund, Officer McNiff's new K9 partner has the vest that Krijger did not.

HATCH: That's cool if he's wearing the vest that you've provided for the dogs. So that's a bulletproof vest and he wears it to work every day.

COOPER: Jimmy somehow convinced me to suit up so I could experience the power and discipline of these dogs.

HATCH: I got him.

COOPER (On camera): I'm good. I'm good.

HATCH: Come on, let's get up. You feel how intimate that is?

COOPER: Yes.

HATCH: He's talking to you. COOPER (voice-over): One thing I wasn't all that keen on doing this

weekend was skydiving. I'm afraid of heights, but Jimmy has a way of convincing you to do things.

HATCH: Whoa. Yes, man.

COOPER (on camera): That was intense. That was intense. Getting out of the airplane is just the most -- it's so unnatural. It's so, like, holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(Voice-over): Jimmy Hatch is no longer wearing a uniform, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing to serve our country. And it hasn't stopped him from continuing to fight to keep all of us safe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: What a great story. And we have a whole lot more of those feel-good stories coming up next.

[20:55:03] For now thanks for being with me tonight. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Stay with us for CNN special "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That's next right here on CNN. Have a great night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: If you could give a day to a charity that you care about, which would be it? Where would you go? How would you help? Well, I along with several of my colleagues were given that opportunity and asked to share the stories of the people and the causes that are close to our hearts.

Tonight you're going to meet them. This is CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE.