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President Rolls Back Some Obama-Era Cuba Policies; Inside Trump-Tillerson Divide Over Qatar; Deputy A.G. May Recuse Himself From Russia Probe; Helping At-Risk Teens Push Through Troubling Past; Redefining Manly Men is Business Success; Cosby Jury Resumes Deliberations; U.S. Navy: Seven Sailors Missing After Destroyer Collision Off Japan; Deputy AG May Recuse Himself From Russia Probe; Eighteen Arrested As Thousands Protest; Officer Found Not Guilty In Fatal Shooting; President Rolls Back Some Obama-Era Cuba Policies. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 17, 2017 - 08:00   ET



RENE MARSH, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: -- Marsh, in for Christi Paul. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be with you. I am Victor Blackwell. Happy Saturday. We are following two developing stories. First, the Bill Cosby trial jurors ended five days of deliberations last night without a verdict.

MARSH: And they head back to the courtroom just about an hour from now to resume deliberations after declaring that they were deadlocked Thursday. The panel has been steadily revisiting hours of testimony.

BLACKWELL: And for the first time, Cosby addressed his supporters last night just after leaving the courthouse.


BILL COSBY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I want to thank the jury for their long days and their honest work individually. I also want to thank the supporters who have been here and, please, to the supporters, stay calm. Do not argue with people. Just keep up the great support. Thank you all.


BLACKWELL: The jury has been deliberating for 52 hours. Again, they resume deliberations in an hour from now.

MARSH: All right, and seven U.S. sailors remain missing this morning and the search for them is on-going in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan. That's where the "USS Fitzgerald," a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship. The damaged warship was taken on water before being towed back to the port where divers will inspect it.

We go now to Tokyo where Kaori Enoji has the very latest on this story. Where do things stand now as far as the search efforts? KAORI ENOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, Rene, the seven are still missing from the USS Fitzgerald and the operation to try and find them and rescue them continues, is underway. At the same time, as you pointed out, the USS Fitzgerald has returned to its port of Yokosuka, which where the seventh fleet is based.

We know now that in addition to the heavy damage that we see from the pictures towards the right side of the ship there has been extensive damage under the water line, which is where the radio room is situated and other key areas. That seems to be where extensive damage has occurred.

They were able to pump the water out, but they would like to see what details they can find when the divers do get in. We don't have any updates from the naval office as to when that operation can begin. It has become a night here in Japan. So I think that would complicate the matters in terms of the search for the seven missing crew men.

This collision occurred close to 19 hours ago. It was 1:30 a.m. local time. It collided with a ship that's being chartered by a major Japanese shipping company called NYK.

I spoke to an official there just moments ago and he did confirm that that ship itself has returned to their port. Investigation there too is under way by the Japan Coast Guard, but he has nothing to add, no details to add other than to say that there's been light damage on the ship and 20 members of that vessel are safe and still in that ship. So still we do not know the whereabouts of the seven missing.

MARSH: OK. All right. I know you'll keep on top of that for us. Kaori Enoji, thank you so much for that report.

BLACKWELL: All right, back in the U.S., the Coast Guard says all passengers are back on shore after a high speed ferry accident in Massachusetts where several passengers had to be medevacked after sustaining injuries when the vessel hit a jetty in Hyenas Harbor.

Fifty seven people were on the ferry. Coast Guard officials says that rough seas and strong winds were a couple of the factors that hindered initial rescue efforts.

President Trump is adding a veteran Washington lawyer to his defense team amid the expanding Russia investigation. Now on board, Attorney John Dowd, who once led investigation into Pete Rose betting scandal for Major League Baseball.

MARSH: Well, this is all coming as CNN learns tensions are rising at the Justice Department over the Russia probe. The man who named a special counsel to run the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself now may be forced to do the same thing.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House. Jeremy, what are you hearing about all that's going on that we've learned happened at the Justice Department and has the White House made any comment on that new information? JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Rene, tensions are indeed rising at the Justice Department as the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be widening. That probe now appears to be looking into questions of whether the president interfered with the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.

[08:05:00]That has led to many questions about whether the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may need to recuse himself from that probe. He, of course, has oversight over Mueller's role at Department of Justice.

And we should remember of course that Rosenstein was the person who recommended to the president that he fire FBI Director James Comey and now that firing of FBI Director James Comey may soon become a key element of that investigation led by Robert Mueller.

Rosenstein has in the past said that he would recuse himself if necessary. But many of these tensions at the Justice Department are not simply happening over there, they're also because of many frustrations that people at the White House have felt as this probe into Russian election meddling widened, appears to come increasingly closer to the president here at the White House.

The president, of course, has been fuming over Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, his recusal from this Russian investigation which happened in March. And in months and weeks since then, the president and many of his aides have fumed publicly and privately about Sessions' recusal.

That was only the beginning of the president's frustration with the Department of Justice. Rod Rosenstein then placed in charge of that investigation appointed this special counsel to lead this investigation, and that of course has threatened this presidency in many ways.

The investigation now being led by someone totally independent, not a political appointee of the president, and the president yesterday as he acknowledged that he is under investigation also pointing the finger once again at the Justice Department, appearing to accuse Rosenstein of being part of this, quote/unquote, "witch hunt" -- Rene.

MARSH: Pointing the finger at the Justice Department, his own Justice Department. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much from the White House.

BLACKWELL: All right, with me now, CNN political commentators, Josh Rogin, Errol Louis, and Jack Kingston. Good morning to all of you.

Jack, let me start with you. You were adviser to the president's campaign, where do you fall on this line. Should the president consider or should he fire both or either of Mueller, Rosenstein?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, he should not, but I can tell you any fair person would say this thing is so complicated, almost a circular firing squad. There's leaks that haven't been addressed, Mueller's friendship with Comey, something that appears to be a Justice Department violation of their own rules.

There's the fact that Rosenstein tells Trump to fire Comey, and yet he now is going to be leading investigation of the firing, and then there's the question that I would raise as a partisan loyalist, you have three members of this investigation team by themselves given $56,000 to Hillary Clinton. All this stuff to me makes anybody who is fair minded and objective feel a little queasy.

BLACKWELL: So Errol, what do you make of what we just heard from Jack?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't feel queasy about it. I mean, look, there are some parts of this that we actually only have partial and partisan information. The White House doing its best to defend itself, has pointed out that contributions were made to some of the people who are being appointed to Mueller's investigatory team.

On the other hand, we don't know who all is on the team and so you know, you have to sort of take the facts as you get them and maybe not get too bent out of shape by them. I do think that there is a question here about whether or not the White House wants to go to war with its own Justice Department, whether or not people will be fired or we are going to see recusal after recusal.

I have to say finally, Jack I am sure remembers this, it is not entirely clear that Rosenstein told the president to fire James Comey. In fact, the president said shortly afterwards that he had already made up his mind.

So I don't know if Rosenstein told him to do it or if he listened to the advice, none of us do. That's why we have an investigation. That's why unfortunately I think Rod Rosenstein is going to have to step aside.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the president said in his interview with Lester Holt that he'd made up his mind by the time that recommendation came to fire Comey. Josh, let me come to you with this real strongly worded statement from the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary, Dianne Feinstein.

She says that "The president thinks he can fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and replace him with someone who will shut down the investigation, he is in for a rude awakening. Dianne Feinstein is not a fire thrower. This is not typically the tone that we get from her.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. We understand what the president is doing here. He is muddying up the investigation, trying to cast dispersions on everybody involved in an effort to work the reps. What we don't know is how Rod Rosenstein will handle this. He seems to go back and forth.

As Errol pointed out, you know, he was happy to go along with President Trump to fire James Comey, then got caught up in the politics of it, and then he appointed special counsel. Then he put out a weird statement a couple of days ago talking about anonymous leaks which seemed to be very politically motivated.

[08:10:06]Now the question is whether or not he will recuse himself because he could be a witness in the investigation he is overseeing. You can't have it both ways. He has to choose. Is he going to be a political loyal member of the Trump administration or a law enforcement official and divorce himself from some of the politics in this?

It seems to me that what most Democrats, Dianne Feinstein and everyone is saying, listen, we can't depend on the president to uphold the integrity of this investigation, to keep the distance that most people would agree is needed between the law enforcement officials and political officials. It will be up to Rod Rosenstein to make that decision and to step aside. I think ultimately that's what he has to do.

BLACKWELL: Jack, when Errol and I were discussing the president's tweets about 40 minutes ago, he says that he is not subscribing to this theory that the president is playing four dimensional chess. That this is all strategic yesterday when he came out with "I am being investigated." I think we have the tweet to put up later. Are these tweets strategic on the president's part?

KINGSTON: You know, I don't know that we'll ever really know. Some of these tweets are probably not, some may be. Some may be a way to directly communicate with the public and maybe even people who are looking at this thing. I think one of the tweets that was out there that Dianne Feinstein said, we need to bring Loretta Lynch in.

Because if President Trump has obstructed, certainly Loretta Lynch, therefore President Obama did in the Hillary Clinton investigation, if we measure all crimes with the same yardstick. I think there's a lot out there that if I was Russia, if I was the czar himself, I would be looking at this with great amusement saying I have the Americans in a circular firing squad.

Meanwhile, we are globetrotting all over the world, interfering in other elections in other countries. So to me, I hate the word reset, but good gosh for the sake of America right now, we should reset this whole thing and say what do we need to do for the best interest of the country and how do we do it fast as possible.

BLACKWELL: Jack, let me read this, the president tweeted out, "Fake news media hates when I use what has turned out to be my powerful social media over 100 million people, I go around them." That's a tweet from the president, saying fake news media hates this. Watch this.


REPRESENTATIVE MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He needs to get offer Twitter. I think he is his own worst enemy when it comes to Twitter.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I wish he would sleep more and tweet less. SENATOR BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I do think that these little interjections are harmful to him.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you tweet every day and complain about the media, and complain about how you're being treated, you're going to be sidetracked and you are not going to get your deals done.


BLACKWELL: Errol, those are GOP senators, congressmen, and the case of Rick Santorum, now with CNN, but those are people who want the president to succeed and they've seen what the tweets do.

LOUIS: Well, that's right. I think what you just heard was political professionals acknowledging what I think most of us know, that yes, it is very impressive to have combined Facebook and Twitter following of 100 million. On the other hand, what do you do with it?

The notion that that somehow sort of wipes out all of network television, all the newspapers, all of the regional newspapers that a lot of people read and take their cues from down at the local level, it's fanciful, not real.

So you know, the president, yes, he has a very powerful tool in social media. CNN is no slouch when it comes to its own platform and its ability to talk to people. So one way or another, he has to deal with the free press as the framers of the constitution intended.

BLACKWELL: All right, Errol Louis, Jack Kingston, thank you both. Josh, you'll be back with us in just a few minutes.

We just talked about whether Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself. The very thought is causing friction in the Justice Department. A former White House ethics lawyer weighs in. That's next.

MARSH: And thousands march in the streets after an officer is acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile, a man seen bloodied and dying as his girlfriend broadcast this ordeal live on Facebook.

And once thriving, thanks in part to the coal industry, there are towns in this country that are now slowly dying away. On tomorrow's episode of "THE UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA", W. Kamau Bell visits the cultural region of Appalachia to see if anything can save them. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from 18 mines in this town to three. We went from 1,500 employees to 150 people working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in an economic downturn in the coal industry.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "THE UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": This is the main industry of Appalachia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. With the loss of those jobs, it is really devastating families and communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We scrape to get by. I just want a good job.

[08:15:04]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No jobs leads to no money leads to depression which leads to drugs.

BELL: How easy to find drugs out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you have to do is walk down the sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm concerned about the future.



BLACKWELL: New this morning, Minnesota State Police have arrested 18 people protesting the acquittal of a St. Paul police officer in the shooting death of Philando Castile.


MARSH: Well, about 2000 demonstrators marched peacefully through the city, chanted, sang hymns, and denounced, quote, "police terror." Others filled into a roadside memorial with flowers and handwritten signs.

[08:20:04]The protests extended late into the night with about 500 people marching onto the interstate, shutting down traffic in both directions. Authorities say the 18 people arrested failed to comply with officers' orders to disburse.

BLACKWELL: The death of Castile was a national, really international story after the aftermath was broadcast live on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend.

MARSH: That's right. She and her 4-year-old daughter, they were still in the car when the shooting happened. Our Sara Sidner has more on the verdict's emotional impact.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The family of Philando Castile devastated for a second time in a year, this time it was the not guilty verdict on all counts against a police officer that took his life. The first time, the day the police officer, Geronimo Yanez shot Castile to death while he was in the car with his girlfriend and their 4-year-old daughter pulled over during a traffic stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know my brother. My brother would never, ever put Diamond in danger or Diane in danger because he loved that little girl. I am so hurt because he took away something so precious for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The officer just shot him in his arms.

SIDNER: The aftermath of the shooting played out for the world to see when Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, began streaming it on Facebook live. The jury saw this video. They also saw officer's dash cam video and heard audio of Philando Castile telling the Officer Yanez he had a gun.

Castile had a permit to carry, but the defense argued he never mentioned that to the officer and he reached for his gun when Yanez ordered him to keep his hands visible, the defense blaming marijuana in Castile's system for poor judgment.

Yanez testified he stopped Castile because of his taillight and he fit the description of a suspect in a four-day-old robbery. The prosecution though argued Castile was profiled by Yanez. Prosecutors argued Castile was only reaching for his driver's license.

His girlfriend says he was trying to undo his seat belt to get his license for the officer. Paramedics testify they found Castile's gun still in his pocket when they got to his body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son loved this city and this city killed my son, and a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?

SIDNER: The family attorney known to TV audiences as Judge Glenda Hatchet represented the Castile family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Philando can die under these circumstances, let's be clear, each of you could die under these circumstances.

SIDNER: The jury spent as many days deliberating as they did listening to evidence made up of seven men and five women, including two people of color. They were deadlocked five days. Ten voted for acquittal and two for a conviction before they came together to acquit the officer. Sara Sidner, CNN, St. Paul, Minneapolis.


MARSH: Still to come, the president reversing some Obama era Cuban policies. The move is getting some harsh criticism from Cuban leaders, what those new restrictions may mean for your travel. That's all coming up next.



MARSH: Welcome back. I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell. Two major stories we are watching this morning. Thirty minutes from now, the Bill Cosby jury will continue deliberations. They have been going now for five days. They've still not reached a verdict.

You'll remember that on Thursday, the jury declared that they were deadlocked but the judge ordered them to keep going. Late last night Cosby came out of the courtroom, went before the cameras, and thanked his supporters before he left.

MARSH: Also developing this morning, the search begins for seven U.S. servicemen missing from the "USS Fitzgerald." The vessel collided with a Philippines merchant ship off the coast of Japan. The captain and two Navy sailors were injured and have been hospitalized. The war ship is now back at its home port where divers will inspect the damage and the search teams will access the flooded areas.

BLACKWELL: President Trump taking a tough stand by reversing some Obama era Cuba policies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But we will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer. Effective immediately I am cancelling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba.


BLACKWELL: Although it does not roll back all of the previous administration's policies, it will affect travel to Cuba. Cuban leaders have blasted the move as hostile, calling it a harmful setback for U.S.-Cuban relations. Meanwhile, this growing divide over foreign policy with Qatar is presenting new challenges for the administration.

Back with us now, CNN political analyst and columnist for "The Washington Post," Josh Rogin. Josh, let's start with Cuba. The president in Miami said that he is cancelling this Obama era policy. This is not full cancellation. There are some things that are sticking around.

ROGIN: That's right. He is rolling back some of the travel privileges, some of the business privileges, but he is not closing the embassy or cutting diplomatic ties.

In fact, the majority of the Obama administration normalization with Cuba remains, despite what President Trump said in that event in Miami. But this was a campaign promise. This was something that he had agreed to do.

[08:30:00] It's something heavily supported by Republican lawmakers, especially in that state, especially Marco Rubio. So the President can claim a win here, but the devil is in the details. And you know, we should also note here that conditions that he set for Cuba, that Cuba should proceed immediately to become a full democracy with premium and rights, release all of its political prisoners.

BLACKWELL: Let's play that. He said -- we've got that sound. Let's play it.

ROGIN: Sure.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed. Freedoms of assembly and expression are respected. All political parties are legalized. And free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.


BLACKWELL: So he said all of that to the Cuban leaders but did not say it King Salman in Riyadh, he didn't say it to Duterte of the Philippines, he didn't say it to Erdogan of Turkey, but in his commitment to democratic values, he has that message for Cuba.

ROGIN: Yes. I mean, it is stunning actually, for the last five months the President has said very clearly that we're not going to lecture countries about democracy, human rights, and freedom, right? Made this whole trip to the Middle East where he promised all of these middle east dictators that he would not interfere in their internal affairs, especially internal repression of their own people. Then he goes to Miami and completely reverses himself when it comes to Cuba. So there's a disconnect there. There's also a huge disconnect between the administration policies and the rhetoric the President espoused yesterday, the President's budget that the White House released only a month ago, zeros out funding for long-standing programs that support democracy, human rights and freedoms in Cuba. OK, so he's saying all these things but he's not putting where his money where his mouth is.

BLACKWELL: Let's switch to Qatar and this on-going controversy with a couple of Gulf States and Egypt with Qatar. We know that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has canceled his trip to Mexico. He's going to try to work to solve this. But while he is working to solve this rift or end it, the President has come out with this harsh-this harsh rhetoric ending or asking Qatar to end their funding of terrorism. How are they on or why are they on the same page?

ROGIN: They're not -- they're not on the same page at all. Ever since the Gulf States decided to impose a blockade on Qatar, a U.S. ally that hosts thousands of U.S. troops, by the way, the President of the United States has been tweeting up a storm to criticize Qatar for its support of terrorism and its negligence in combatting terrorism financing. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who has a 15-year history with the Qatar family has taken a different approach, trying to be an even-handed, nonjudgmental mediator. Now, you could say that they're playing good cop/bad cop or you could say that they're just talking past each other it's probably more of the latter than the former. But very interestingly yesterday after I wrote about this, a senior State Department official wrote to me, told me that they wanted me to know that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now adjusting his approach. This is something that just broke yesterday. He wants them to figure it out for themselves. He doesn't want the United States to be at the front of the mediation. He wants these countries to work it out and he has confidence they might do so. So even inside the State Department, there's acknowledgment that the United States role here is limited and is influenced here may not actually move the issue.

BLACKWELL: All right. Josh Rogin bringing this news this morning, Josh, thanks so much.

ROGIN: Thank you.

MARSH: Well, President Trump is fighting back against the Russia investigation and causing lawmakers to question whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself. Is the President getting in his own way? A former White House Ethics Lawyer weighs in after the break.


[08:35:00] MARSH: Well, lawmakers are questioning whether Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein will be forced to recuse himself over his role in Comey's firing. It comes after the President appeared to throw Rosenstein under the bus saying, quote, and we have the tweet there, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director. Witch-hunt." I would have bring in Richard Painter, he is a former White House Ethics Lawyer. Richard, you know Ethics and you know these issues better than anyone. Should Rosenstein be recused at this point?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: No, at this point he can supervise the investigation by Bob Mueller of the Russian espionage in the United States, who coordinated with the Russians and any obstruction of justice. He's not doing the investigating, he is merely setting the budget for the investigation and also you know, taking any complaints there might be about Mueller's conduct in the investigation, but Mueller has conducted himself professionally, he is going to do a good job here. Rosenstein should not be involved in the substantive decisions about the investigation, but then again, neither should any, none of the political appointees of the Justice Department should be involved in this substantive decisions at this point. It is Bob Mueller's job to find out what happened.

MARSH: And so even --

PAINTER: My concern is that President Trump is trying to push aside Rosenstein in order to get someone else in there who's then going to pretend to make an independent decision to fire Mueller, and that's exactly what President Trump wants to try to pull off.

[08:40:10] MARSH: All right. And I want to get to firing Mueller and that possibility in a second, but even though this investigation appears to be widening at this point, looking at the President, obstruction of justice, his firing of Comey which we know that there's a direct line to that with Rosenstein, you still think it is not time for him at this point to recuse himself?

PAINTER: Well, as I said, the question is what is he recusing himself from? He should not be involved in substantive decisions about the investigation, what to investigate, what recommendations to make, that's Bob Mueller's job. As I understand it, Rosenstein, his job is to allocate the budget for the investigation and if there are complaints about Bob Mueller to deal with those, but there are no legitimate complaints about Bob Mueller, he doesn't have conflicts of interest, he's conducting himself professionally. My concern is you take him out and you put in someone else who didn't appoint Bob Mueller, and what we're going to find is an attempt to fire the Special Prosecutor. And that's the end game in all this.

Marsh: So let's talk about Mueller because at this point he is now becoming a focus for even some Republicans. I want you to take a listen to Rick Santorum and what he had to say about Mueller and in his words, the baggage that Mueller carries into this investigation. Take a listen.


RICK SANTORUM, FORMER MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE: Nobody has unimpeachable credentials. You all -- you come with baggage. His baggage -- I am not saying it's positive or negative baggage -- he's an FBI guy. His job is to go out and find the bad guys and dig and dig and dig until you can -- and go after them. If Bob Mueller was a famous defense lawyer, I would feel very differently about the investigation because then you have the idea of well, you know, we're going to find out and have a little bit more of balancing. I think Mueller is like every other FBI Director is to find something wrong.


MARSH: All right, so there were talks that possibly the President is even thinking about not only letting go Rod Rosenstein but also possibly Mueller. Talk about the impact that that would have on the integrity of this overall investigation into this Russia probe.

PAINTER: I think it would be a disaster, create a constitutional crisis and would cause a lot of Americans to want to remove the President. That logic makes no sense. Of course, every criminal defendant, every person being investigated would love to have criminal defense lawyers in charge of the investigation rather than experienced prosecutors. Yes, he is an FBI guy. That's what we need. We do need an FBI guy in charge when there's been Russian espionage, of people collaborating with the Russians. And Rick Santorum, with all due respect, there's a reason he is not representing Pennsylvania anymore. He's the far right of the republican party, that cater into a tiny percentage of American people here that continue to support this administration, despite growing evidence of obstruction of justice and collaboration with the Russians and covering it up, people lying about their contacts with the Russians. And this is a serious situation. I have been a republican for 30 years, this is a great danger to our country. We need an experienced FBI guy. And if they try to take him out, that's going to lead to constitutional crisis and removal of the President.

MARSH: OK. Thank you so much. We are out of time. Richard Painter, thanks for joining us this morning.

BLACKWELL: Have you been watching these champions of change stories? They're really good. We've got one for you this morning. HLN Anchor Michaela Pereira, she's taking us on her journey inside the optimist youth home helping at-risk teens. We'll tell you how her work there is not only helping them but it's helping her too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:48:30] MARSH: Well, changing the world for the better takes compassion and commitment. And now, we're sharing with you how CNN and HLN anchors are involved in their communities.

BLACKWELL: All right. This time it's HLN's Michaela Pereira, she heads to the Optimist youth home in Los Angeles, she's worked there for more than a decade.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, HLN HOST: There's just something special. And I can't always put my finger on it, but I feel it every time I'm here.

Why are you giggling there (INAUDIBLE)

Often times when I make my way to the Optimist Youth Home, I find myself pulling into the driveway, almost like I don't know if I'm in the right space to be here today, to push me, pull me, stress of daily life. All of that stuff isn't important when I get here, and it's like church, it's like therapy, it's like a hug from mom. So, I wanted to bring you here to the place that is all of those things to me, Optimist Youth Home & Family Services.

More than 200 at-risk teens live full time in Optimist residential and foster programs throughout the Los Angeles area. This is the main campus in Highland Park neighborhood of L.A.

[08:49:55] So in order for a kid to land here at Optimist, they usually have encountered law enforcement, sometimes there's drugs, sometimes there's gangs, sometimes there's truancy, sometimes it's all of it, and either a judge or the probation department, gives them this option. They have structure, they have school, they've got to attend like every teen, but a lot of it is on them, the work is with them.

VICTOR PINZON, FORMER OPTIMIST STUDENT: I'm getting my bachelor's degree next May.

PEREIRA: You are not.

I first met Victor Pinzon nearly 10 years ago, he was in and out of juvenile court system in San Jose, California.

PINZON: My family had a tough time, especially my mom being a single mother. We grew up in a -- well, I grew up in the wrong neighborhood.

PEREIRA: At 16, a judge gave him one last chance, and sent him to Optimist.

PINZON: I had to do a year being at Optimist, I had to be here for a year. So, I kind of got comfortable. That's when I started being open. And, you know, talking to the counselors, to the therapists.

PEREIRA: Is it better now with your family?

PINZON: It's better now, I have a beautiful relationship with my mother and my brothers. Sim it's -- Optimist helped a lot. PEREIRA: I can see how much that means to you. This place feels very familiar and comfortable and normal to me because our home was essentially like that. My sisters all lived in foster homes. I wasn't. I was an infant when I was adopted. Somebody gave us a chance. The five of us got a chance. I believe every kid deserves a chance.

Saturday's attack on London Bridge --

I often ask myself what path my life would have taken had I not gotten that chance. I've been working with Optimist for over 10 years because I see what it -- what a difference it makes.

MONIQUE: It's home.

PEREIRA: It's home, right? Monique, Devon, Alex, Javier, they all landed here for different reasons.

MONIQUE: I've been through foster care and I've been always bouncing houses, and when I came here, I didn't plan on staying. Like, I remember, I was just like -- yes, as soon as I got down dipping, like, this ain't for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just didn't think I would stay to even try to give it a chance, really. I just got used to it, got used to things more, got to know a lot of good people. And I just maneuvered in.

PEREIRA: And now?


PEREIRA: Now you're good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Two years from now, three years from now, where do you want to be?

JAVIER: In college.

PEREIRA: Doing what?

JAVIER: I'm just going to go to community college first two years, transfer, maybe gets my own nice, little apartment, get a job I like. My house --

PEREIRA: You've got dreams.


PEREIRA: You've got dreams, baby. You can do it. What do you want to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be a nurse. My mom was always sick when I was younger, she's having like seizures and stuff because she has cancer. So, I like helping people because I was up there.

PEREIRA: In Los Angeles, there are numerous groups that are doing worthy, worthy, worthy work. But my path was led here.


PEREIRA: Sil Orlando is Optimist's Executive Director, and now my dear friend.

ORLANDO: When you ask why the kids like it here, they say people care for the -- it was obvious, you care for kids, and that's why you're here, and that's why we wanted you here.

PEREIRA: They're by the grace of God (INAUDIBLE) you know, that's why I'm here.

ORLANDO: I know.

PEREIRA: I don't believe in bad apples, I don't throw away kids. I don't -- I just don't.

At the end of the day, it's a kid. They need some guidance, the need some direction, they need some love, they need some forgiveness.

She says it's perfect. This guy right here -- you make me happy. And handsome, too. Look at this face.


MARSH: Well, "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" is CNN's special event, airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.


BLACKWELL: An entrepreneur in Georgia did not have to look far to find success. Here's this week's start small, think big.


RYAN LANE, DREAM BEARD FOUNDER: Hi, my name is Ryan Lane, and this is Dream Beard. Dream Beard is a grooming product line for men which specialize in beards. So, when we started Dream Beard back in 2012, it was really out of necessity. There was no product out there that I could find for men to groom their beards, to help coat the hair follicles, help promote growth, to help with itch. And so, through that, we really kind of -- the light bulb went off, and we realized that there was a huge market for this that was untapped.

One of the keys to our success has been the handwritten notes. We've done it in every package. We're constantly communicating with our customers. We have live chat on our Web site, we're very active on social media. We just begin to kind of create this aura of like manly men, just having fun, and not really taking themselves super serious. Beards were associated with bad people. But I think what Dream Beards is doing is we're changing that perception. You can be who you are with a beard. The bread doesn't have to be, you know, in a certain stereotype. I believe that Dream Beard kind of sends off more of a message, hey,

this isn't just a trend, it's not just something that looks cool, but this is who I am, you know, I am a bearded man.

BLACKWELL: All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of "NEWSROOM."

MARSH: And don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" starts right now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.