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Anthony Scaramucci Takes Over As WH Communications Director; Disturbing Video Shows Man Drowning As Teens Mock Him; Teens Who Recorded Man Drowning Could Face Charges; "Home Alone" Actor John Heard Dead At 71; A New Way To Eat Chocolate; "Declassified" Returns Tonight on CNN. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired July 22, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- agreed to a deal that could send a new bill to the president's desk before the end of the month. It would slap Russia with new sanctions and give Congress veto power over easing sanctions against Moscow.
The deal also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea and comes despite lobbying by the White House to water down sanctions on Russia.
Joining me right now to discuss this Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times" and David Rohde, a CNN global affairs analyst joining us from Aspen.
So, David, let me begin with you. This is something the president and his administration has been arguing against and now sets up a real showdown between members of Congress and the president. So what options does this leave the president when it comes down to this bill hitting his desk?
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: So, you know, to be fair, multiple presidents have sort of pushed back on this kind of legislation. They say it's the president's prerogative under the constitution to sort of do these things. But for Trump, though, this points, I think, to his sort political isolation. You know, his party controls both --
WHITFIELD: And different too because of the many Russia investigations involving the White House. Continue.
ROHDE: Yes. I'm trying the to be fair, but yes, it's bad news for the administration. It shows that Republicans on the Hill -- it's a small step but, it's a step away from the Trump White House. It's Republicans on the Hill showing they will confront Russia over the objections of the White House.
WHITFIELD: So Lynn, the White House has been making that case. You know, that it wants to make relations with Russia better, more flexible, and that these sanctions make that more difficult. So now that the House and Senate have come up with this plan to potentially override, right, the president's power on this, what kind of battle does this set up for the president?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": There's a big internal battle brewing because the only reason the measure is where it is the Republican House and Senate leaders did it ignoring the desire of President Trump as David talked about.
I think that the president ignores this at his own peril, especially when he has a larger legislative agenda, Fred, and there really is a very, very narrow way to navigate around this one because he will then have to face off against Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders.
So, he's in a difficult position, especially when if he seems as if he has even more Russia friendly posture, there's no way I think that the White House can explain this away no matter whether you have a new communications chief.
WHITFIELD: And David, you are in Aspen at the Aspen Security Forum. I want you to listen to what you've heard but many of our viewers will be seeing for the first time, former director of the CIA, National Intelligence as well, John Brennan and James Clapper, what they had to say about that Trump Jr. meeting in June of 2016. They are talking to our very own Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook trade craft long employed by the Russians or the Soviets and now into the Russians. So, I don't find it surprising that these connections are coming out. It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Just profoundly baffling why three of the senior most members of a presidential campaign would jump at the opportunity to meet with individuals that were going to, according to what's been in the reports, provide information, dirt and information on Hillary Clinton that was coming from the Russian government.
As Jim said, that's not something that's, you know, you can engage them personally. If they want to find out what was involved you send a minion, you send someone else, but to go there with that, it raises a lot of questions.
I think that's what the administration now is having to deal with, questions about what were the motives, what were people thinking at the time, they should have known a lot better, if they didn't, they shouldn't have been in those positions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So, David, those concerns being expressed are weighty, you know, in the world of intelligence, but how might that be received in the White House in your view? ROHDE: Well, they'll see it as a hostile attack from two former Obama administration officials, but I have to say here at the forum, there's a sense of sort of unease. These constant disclosures, new disclosures about Russia and possible links, again, there's no evidence of collusion, it's distracting everyone in Washington.
There's sort of a sense of paralysis in terms of national security policy. There are several Republican congressmen yesterday asked if they would state publicly here at the forum that President Trump firing Special Counsel Mueller would be a red line for them.
[12:05:05] Both Republicans declined to do that. They said that was sort of a hypothetical situation. So, you don't have that shift, but there is a sense that Trump/Russia is preventing the U.S. from addressing its long-term national security challenges.
WHITFIELD: So Lynn, do you get the sense that the intelligence community, previous administrations and current, are kind of strengthening their bonds through all of this right now with a willingness to express that?
SWEET: Yes. From the people I've talked to who are in intelligence, the insult to the trade is obvious by the way that the Trump White House sometimes conducts itself, talks about not valuing or appreciating U.S. intelligence on Russia.
So, yes, people who do this do it far lot of reasons and probably it's not getting a pat on the back from the president, but of course, it takes a hit at morale and it does give the nation a wonderful opportunity to hear more about what it is and how important national security intel is to our well-being.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Thanks so much. See you soon, Lynn Sweet, David Rhode. Appreciate it.
All right, now let's go to Norfolk, Virginia, where last hour President Trump attended a commissioning ceremony for the "USS Gerald Ford," a new nuclear powered aircraft carrier where the president called on Congress to increase military spending and encouraged constituents to call their Congress members about military spending and even on the issue of health care.
CNN Boris Sanchez is there for us live. So, Boris, a historic moment for any president, but particularly today.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Fred. Historic is the best way to describe today. This is truly a feat of engineering and of American military power. The president describing this as a major achievement for the United States.
He called this the most advanced carrier in history, in his opinion, the greatest ship in the world. He also thanked the Ford family, Gerald Ford's daughter, Susan, was actually here on hand. She's the sponsor of the ship.
The president went on to say that that this ship, the commissioning of it, is a message to the world that American might is second to none and truly that it is a message to our enemies around the world that when they see this ship on the horizon they will, quote, "shake with fear."
Also, as you said, Fred, the president alluding to the fact that the past several years have been difficult for the military because of funding issues. He says that that is changing under his administration going on to say that every single day is bigger and better for the United States under his presidency. Here's bit more of what he said -- Fred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's been a very, very bad period of time for our military. That is why we reached a deal to secure an additional $20 billion for defense this year, and it's going up, and why I asked Congress for another $54 billion for next year.
Now we need Congress to do its job and pass the budget that provides for higher, stable, and predictable funding levels for our military needs, so call that congressman and call that senator and make sure you get it. And by the way, you can also call those senators to make sure you get health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And, Fred, it is important to note this is "Made in America" week, the start of three consecutive themed weeks that the White House pushing their agenda forward with. Next week is "American Heroes" week so, today is the perfect pivot between made in America week and American heroes week.
Also important to note that line about health care, really the only time that the president diverged from the main message of his speech which was thanking U.S. service members and commemorating what ultimately will be a historic day for the Navy -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much, in Norfolk, Virginia.
All right, still ahead, a very rough week for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Only getting worse. This after a new report from "The Washington Post" now that Sessions talked about the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador. What comes next for the attorney general?
WHITFIELD: All right, new revelations involving the Russia investigation according to "The Washington Post." Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told his kremlin bosses that he did, in fact, talked about campaign matters with then-Senator Jeff Sessions during the 2016 election. Current and former U.S. officials tell "The Post" they learned that the conversations from intercepts of Russian discussions. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly said that he did not speak to Russians about campaign-related issues.
CNN's justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, joining me now to go over what was discussed and what this means for the administration and for the AG -- Laura.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Fred, sessions has really been under a microscope since news broke back in March that he failed to disclose his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
But this report from "The Washington Post" goes a step further. It says these recordings show Kislyak telling his superiors in Moscow that he and Sessions discussed Trump's positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S./Russia relations in a future Trump administration at that time back in 2016.
[12:15:03] And if this is true, it really runs contrary to the attorney general's version of events here. In a statement to CNN, Justice Department Spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores says, "Obviously, I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that "The Washington Post" has not seen and that has not been provided to me.
But the attorney general stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he specifically addressed this and said that he, quote, "Never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election."
The other issue to keep in mind here, Fred, of course, is whether Kislyak's recounting of these conversations can even be trusted or whether he was exaggerating the substance of what was discussed, because remember, these aren't intercepts with him and Sessions. It's intercepts between him and his peers in Moscow.
And this development come on the heels of a truly rocky week for Sessions after a very public rebuke by the president who told "The New York Times" earlier this week that if he knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from this Russia investigation, he wouldn't have hired him in the first place and the president also came out on Twitter criticizing this "Washington Post" report, calling out the leaks saying "Leaks must stop" -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Laura, stay with us. Let's add to the discussion now Lynn Sweet is back with me, also joining us CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg and national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics." All right, Ladies, good to see all of you.
All right, so Lynn, what does this mean for Sessions? Because you have that testimony, you have his press conference, and you also have him, you know, saying this -- let's take a trip down memory lane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Lynn, you've got that testimony. Then there was a press conference later, you've got him using words like, you know, not recall or not to my recollection. How big of a problem is this?
SWEET: It's a problem. One of the things attorneys like Laura knows is that often where your client gets in trouble is during a pretrial, a deposition that you give to the opposing counsel, in this case his testimony.
There are all kinds of openings that he has that could cause grief for himself and cause him, I don't know, maybe being called up again on the Hill for further testimony if he would agree to it at this time. So, he has imperiled himself, but it also showed good judgment in recusing himself from the Russia probe.
WHITFIELD: And then, Laura, you talked about this information coming largely from intel intercept, which are usually considered quite credible so given that, does this lay the groundwork for possibility of perjury?
JARRETT: Well, I'm sure legal experts are going to be debating that now that this new development has come out. But you have to remember, his words at least back in June is that he never discussed anything with Kislyak or any other Russian officials about any interference in the campaign.
And if that's true, that's not inconsistent with what Kislyak is saying happened. He's saying we discussed relations between the Trump administration and Russia and what that would mean for the future, and so that's not interference with the campaign, which is not inconsistent.
But the problem is that Sessions has had a few other pieces of testimony here, most specifically back in March, during his -- or back even in January during his Senate confirmation hearing where he was much broader in his rebuke.
And told Senator Franken that he hadn't had any communications with the Russians at all. Now, the way Senator Franken framed that question could allow some wiggle room there, but that's the real room.
WHITFIELD: And then according to "The Washington Post" reporting that according to U.S. officials they've spoken with, Kislyak actually has real credibility, they say, you know, that he has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.
So, Rebecca, with that being said, earlier this week, the president of the United States expressing his disappointment with his attorney general. What about the timing of this leak in concert with what the president told "The New York Times" about really kind of losing interest in the AG?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly caps off a less than optimal week for Jeff Sessions to say the least. He's in a really fragile position right now in this administration as the president expressed to "The New York Times."
And these sorts of reports that cast further doubt on his version of events that he's presented to Congress and cast further doubts on these conversations he did have with Kislyak during the election.
[12:20:11] That's only going to complicate things for him further. Interestingly enough, the president did tweet this morning about this "Washington Post" report and seemed to confirm at least the content of these intercepts.
Now, Laura made a good point that Kislyak and other Russians maybe are not going to be reliable narrators. This is his version of events that we're getting via these intercepts.
So, there's going to be more to this story, but the president described these as intelligence leaks in a tweet this morning, which would suggest at least what Kislyak was saying as reported by "The Washington Post" is accurate.
WHITFIELD: And so, Laura, we also now know that Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager, and Don Jr., will be interviewed about their meeting with the Russian lawyer back in the Trump Tower June of 2016.
So that interview will really take place in front of a congressional committee, but not in the public view. This doesn't rule out potential subpoenas down the line, though, does it?
JARRETT: No. That certainly is hovering over them and the senators get to use that as a point of leverage. But what appears to have happened here is they struck a deal which allow Manafort and Trump Jr. to do this testimony in private so that, you know, they don't have to sit there and be questioned and have the grandstanding of senators do this.
But they still are under oath and anything that they say could be used by Mueller and others if, in fact, anything they say there is inconsistent with later testimony. So, there is, you know, a desire to be careful of course in their testimony, and the senators are going to get documents, and so the senators feel like they've got a pretty good deal here.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. I see, Lynn, you're in much agreement. Your body language speaks volumes too.
SWEET: Well, I would have more next time.
WHITFIELD: OK, Lynn Sweet, Rebecca Burns, Laura Jarrett, thank you so much. Ladies, appreciate it. All right, coming up next, will a change in guard in the White House press briefing room affect the administration's relationship with the media overall? We'll discuss that after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We are following the shakeup in the Trump White House after announcing the resignation yesterday morning, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not make an appearance during the press briefing instead leaving his new boss, Anthony Scaramucci, to fly solo.
Spicer did an interview last night, however, on Fox News to explain his departure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You started sharing the podium with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Anthony Scaramucci comes in. Did you feel in any way that this was against you? Did you feel you were pushed out in any way or this was totally your decision?
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. As you mentioned the president obviously wanted to add to the team more than anything. I just think it was in the best interests of our Communications Department, of our press organization to not have too many cooks in the kitchen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I want to bring in our media panel now. Bill Carter is a CNN media analyst and a former "New York Times" media reporter, and Abigail Tracy is a staff writer for "Vanity Fair." Good to see you both.
All right, so, Bill, you first. Do you buy all that?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: No. I mean, you've seen the other reporting and how Spicer felt that he was being embarrassed by this, that he didn't know the day before and that there was much opposition to Scaramucci, and that, you know, he sort of resigned kind of in anger.
I don't think people can totally blame him in the sense because he did have a lot of humiliating moments with this president, but there are other people saying he was willing to do an awful lot for this president that maybe other press secretaries would not have done in terms of giving that information that clearly was untrue.
I mean, you can say this about Spicer, I think people thought he was a pleasant guy and everything, but he wasn't very good at this job. He wasn't even a good spokesperson in the sense he didn't speak very well. But he came out, you know, flying fists all the time and challenging things and the press didn't believe him a lot of the time. It just didn't work.
WHITFIELD: So Abigail, this isn't just really about Sean Spicer, is it, because, you know, so far in this six months just in the White House there has been a real or at least a display of a real lack of respect for the media, its role, its place in the White House pressroom, for example. Do you see that that tenor will continue with Anthony Scaramucci or is this a restart?
ABIGAIL TRACY, STAFF WRITER, "VANITY FAIR": Well, I think obviously Anthony Scaramucci is a communications neophyte. He's coming from Wall Street, so he doesn't have a lot of experience in this. But what he has done is over the years he's demonstrated that he's very willing to go head to head with media and with the press.
And I think when we're thinking in terms of what Donald Trump is likely looking for from somebody who's going to be the face or the White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, might fit that bill, he might be the killer or the pit bull behind the podium that he's really looking for.
But in terms of whether that's actually going to be a long-term effective strategy for the Trump White House, I think that's up for debate. For instance, I recently spoke with Lanny Davis, who ran the war room during the Clinton White House and his whole thing was about transparency.
So, their motto during the Whitewater and Lewinski scandals was tell it early, all, yourself, so this idea of get out ahead of negative news stories. Whether Anthony Scaramucci is going to do that, I don't necessarily think that's going to be the method moving forward. I think we might actually see the antagonism with the press intensify with the shakeup.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. Everybody's kind of seen the sound bite of Anthony Scaramucci back in the day in 2015 calling Trump, you know, a political hack and people saw yesterday that Scaramucci now says he loves him and he's very loyal to him.
So, Bill, you know, does it really matter who is leading the communications office? Because isn't it the president who is the messenger, you know, i.e., just look at his tweets and this morning he tweeted.
BILL CARTER, CNN ANALYST: No question. And that's been the case -- you know, Donald Trump is his own spokesperson. In fact he pretended to be a fake spokesperson once in his career. He does it on his own.
And I think that personally wants a front man who, you know, will represent him well and I think Scaramucci does probably improve that exempt, you know, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to be doing the daily briefings. But Scaramucci is very smooth, he's very slick.
It's very interesting though because at the same time that Trump is challenging Mueller on the basis of no loyalty and having conflicts of interest, this is a guy who gave to Democrats, he supported Obama, he called him a hack, and he's willing to sort of forgive all that because I think he thinks this guy presents himself very well, and he's known in New York and comfortable with the family so he has all that going for him. But it's all going to be Donald because it always is.
WHITFIELD: So Abigail, you know, this is a White House that is, you know, getting hit pretty hard on several fronts and, you know, we're talking the drip, drip, drip, the Russia investigation, all of the stuff, it's not going away. Some would still argue it's self- inflicted so it's not really getting hit. It's more like exuding all this stuff.
So, one of the things that Scaramucci said yesterday was, you know, the desire to let the president be the president. You know, can this shuffle be seen, you know, as the White House getting ready for what you said, you know, it's going to intensify?
ABIGAIL TRACY, STAFF WRITER, VANITY FAIR: I think it will. I think one of things that we did see yesterday when Scaramucci was behind the podium was that he is very smooth. But I think one of the reasons Trump is bringing him in is because he saw him in these other media appearances as really being praising the president, being very aggressive in some of these interviews and kind of pushing this America first agenda.
And I think what he hopes Scaramucci does is, you know, delivers a better defense of him to the media and to the press with whom he has an, you know, this antagonistic relationship with.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much Bill. I heard somebody say that Scaramucci is kind of the alter ego of Donald Trump. All right, thanks so much again.
CARTER: Well, I think that we'll see.
WHITFIELD: Yes, well, let's see. All right, Abigail Tracy, Bill Carter, thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate it.
All right, be sure to watch CNN's STATE OF THE UNION hosted by Jake Tapper. One of his guests, new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. It all starts tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN. And we'll be right back.
[12:36:44] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A Florida police chief is recommending charges against a Florida teens who launched -- who laughed rather as a drowning man took his last breath. I want to warn you, you might find this video very disturbing. The five teen boys filmed it as they taunted 31-year-old Jamel Dunn as he struggled to stay afloat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out the water, you're going down
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to help your (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), what the heck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Nick Valencia has the details of this very tragic story. Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, this week detectives with the Cocoa Police Department interviewed the teens who recorded the video. They told police that they were in the area smoking weed when they saw Dunn get into the water. Now, here's where it gets all the more disturbing.
According to police, none of the teens showed remorse during questioning. In fact, one of them smirked. We have to warn you, the video that you're about to watch is disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out the water, you're going down!
VALENCIA (voice-over): A blatant disregard for human life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to help your (INAUDIBLE).
VALENCIA (voice-over): A group of Florida teens taunt a drowning man while filming his final moments from afar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ain't nobody going to help you, you dumb (INAUDIBLE). Shouldn't have got in there.
VALENCIA (voice-over): In a two-minute long video clip, the five teen boys between the ages of 14 and 16 can be heard laughing as the man struggled to stay afloat in a pond in Cocoa, Florida. Rather than call for help, the teens recorded the incident on cell phone, chuckling while they watched the man die. They say this when the man goes underwater and doesn't resurface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (INAUDIBLE).
VALENCIA: The state of Florida currently does not have a law where a citizen is obligated to render aid for anyone in distress or call for help. Both Cocoa Police and the state attorney's office say they are frustrated that no one can be held accountable in this incident.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked at both the manner in which Mr. Dunn lost his life and the actions of the witnesses to this tragedy. We can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn."
Police say the victim, 31-year-old Jamel Dunn, got into an argument with his mom and possibly his fiancee the afternoon of July 9th. Ten minutes after the fight was over, police say Dunn scaled a fence surrounding a pond near his family's home and walked into the water.
His family reported him missing three days later. The teens stayed quiet about what they saw, so police didn't know where to look. Dunn's body wasn't discovered until five days after his death.
SIMONE MCINTOSH, SISTER OF THE VICTIM: I feel like something should be done to them.
VALENCIA (voice-over): The victim's sister posted the video of the drowning on Facebook. In a Facebook live post, she questioned the teens' humanity.
MCINTOSH: If they can sit there and watch somebody die in front of their eyes. Well, imagine what they're going to do when they get older. You know, (INAUDIBLE). Imagine how they're going to be when they get older. Where's the morals?
VALENCIA: After they recorded the video, police say the teens waited a few days to post it online. In fact, the sister of the victim first saw the video on Facebook last Saturday. She tells CNN that she's angry nothing is being done by law enforcement. The state's attorney's office tells CNN that they're still reviewing the case to see if any charges can be brought forward. Fred?
[12:40:08] WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much Nick Valencia. Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Herman is here in studio with me today. Authorities, you know, previously said the teens would not be charged because Florida does not have a law that obligates a citizen to render aid or call for help for anyone in distress.
So this is an issue of human dignity, many argue that these kids should have intervened. But when you hear police chief say they're considering charges, what charges really could they?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Fred, there are no requirements in the state of Florida for you to render help to anyone in distress. And the Good Samaritan act in the state of Florida just provide safety for someone who does try to render help and maybe worsens the situation. So it's not even negligence in the state of Florida for failure to try to help someone in distress.
It's like, you know, that Whitney Houston's song, I believe children are our future. If this is our future, we're in deep trouble here. These children -- the law enforcement is so frustrated that they're trying to charge these individuals with misdemeanor, failure to report a death. That's it. These children are 14 to 18 -- WHITFIELD: But that's after the fact -- I mean, so there is no
argument. That's after the fact that's not intervening. That's not saving someone's life.
WHITFIELD: So they are talking about, you know, human dignity versus morality versus, you know, the law, but in the young -- their attorneys would argue these young people that, you know, they were not obligated to do anything by law.
HERMAN: Right. They can't charge them with failure to render assistance. So they can't charge that.
The only criminal charges here are misdemeanor, failure to report a death, which these children are 14 to 18, youthful offender, sealed records. Nothing, you know, just a slap on the wrist. Nothing for them.
So -- and the incredible thing that we see over and over again and we cover it every week is these morons today video their crimes and then post them on social media. And that's what these guys did.
WHITFIELD: And this is really tough for anyone to try to defend because a man died a horrible -- and one would hope that if you see someone in trouble, someone would be able to go and help this person. But in step with what you were, you know, inferring, you're talking about young people, you know, and perhaps these young people may not have really understood the gravity of the situation? I mean, what is the argument that their families or if they have attorneys would be able to make in this situation?
HERMAN: These families are looking, again, a can out for these kids and, you know, it's just -- there is no argument, there is no excuse. They warned him before he was getting close to the water, don't go in, you're going to drown. He was disabled, he lost control in the water. He was pleading for help.
They mocked him, they taunted him, they videoed him, they knew he was dead, and they posted the video. I mean, it's just -- it's cruel, it's the height of cruelty, and the only good thing that's coming out of this is the state of Florida is so shocked by this that they're trying enact now new legislation to require people to step up and assist when someone is struggling for their life.
WHITFIELD: It is horrible. Very difficult to see that video, and it's just difficult to even envision or understand how in the world something like this can happen.
HERMAN: Incredible. Just incredible.
WHITFIELD: All right. Richard, we'll see you again. Glad that you're in Atlanta. Love having you in the studio. Thank you so much.
HERMAN: Love seeing you live.
WHITFIELD: We'll see you soon.
WHITFIELD: All right.
And this breaking news. Right now, we're just learning that Actor John Heard has died. That's according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's office in California. The 71-year-old actor is perhaps best known for his role as the flustered father in the blockbuster "Home Alone" movies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HEARD AS PETER MCCALLISTER: Do you speak English?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get anybody?
HEARD: I'm looking for my son. Do you know where he is?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Heard was nominated for an Emmy for his performance in "The Sopranos." Officials say he died yesterday but details surrounding the cause of his death have not yet been released.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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I mean, when they taste it and seeing someone's face light up, it's amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. In an all new episode of CNN's original series "Declassified" returns tonight. The host, former congressman and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers reveals untold stories of American spies giving viewers unprecedent access to the riveting world of espionage.
Tonight, Russian sleeper agents infiltrate the U.S. and begin with a seemingly normal American lives.
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MIKE ROGERS, CNN HOST, DECLASSIFIED: For a country that wants to be a superpower again, intelligence can be the most important kind of power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's why it is important for the United States to be aware of what they're up to so that we can anticipate their actions and take steps to protect our country.
There are various ways the Russians develop effective spies. They deploy people to this country under a diplomatic passport. A Russian diplomat or diplomats for that matter come into our country and they're located at the various embassies. Some of them are spies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren't all diplomats spies?
ROGERS: No. The diplomatic service of any country (INAUDIBLE) diplomatic service of the United States serves a very important function. It's for countries to be able communicate and interact with each other. However, some of them are spying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I caught up with the host and former congressman to get his thoughts on just how relevant "Declassified" is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGERS: If you're interested in the news cycle about what the Russians are up to, you can't miss this episode of "Declassified." It lays out one of the most involved counterintelligence investigations the FBI has ever undertaken.
And it was a very large-scale Russian infiltration of intelligence agents into the United States. They took false names, spoke fluent English, they took very American-sounding name, some Irish names. And so that they would fit in and then they went about the business of looking like everybody else.
WHITFIELD: And, you know, case in point, I guess, there are characters today that are being described as, you know, attorneys, as entertainers, and then some are arguing whether they are possibly spies.
ROGERS: You know -- and the Russians have an interesting technique. So what they like to do is use something called cutouts. American intelligence services do the same where it's not really the intelligence agent, they recruit someone who is not a trained intelligence agent per se and they use that person to go and make the approach to try to get people -- to either get information or befriend them or try to get them in a place where they can either wholesale recruit them. Meaning I know I'm not working for the Russians, or I am unwitting, I'm giving information to this cutout that I don't realize is going to the Russian intelligence services.
So they've been doing this and they're very good at it for a very long time.
WHITFIELD: So what in your belief is most eye opening about "Declassified"?
ROGERS: Well, I think the size and scope of it. So you think about they knew that they were going to put 10 to 13 agents into the United States knowing that it was going to be a matter of years before they brought back one good piece of information. You know, the United States tells the services candidly aren't that patient, and so the Russians knew this was a 10, 15, 20-year operation. Maybe even long were these people could go and get involved in communities, get near people who had classified information.
And interestingly, they had -- one particular couple had a child and that child was well on their way to going to schools where they knew the CIA was recruiting or the State Department might be recruiting. So even their children were getting processed in a very long-term, long-view operation to recruit Americans, steal secrets. That to me was the most surprising thing.
WHITFIELD: So as we see the many investigations taking place right now as it pertains to Russia here in the United States, what could we learn from "Declassified" and apply it to the ongoing investigations?
ROGERS: Well, the most important thing is that the Russians intelligence service is hostile to the United States. They don't like Republicans and Democrats any more. They'll use whoever for whatever purpose serves their needs and gets the information that they look at.
And so when you see "Declassified" and you see the kind of efforts and techniques that they were using, you need to understand they're still using them today. And that might help I think viewers understand the context of why people, some people are very upset about what the Russians were doing and how they were doing it, especially when it came to try to using cyber which they really couldn't use, you know, five years ago or 10 years ago in a way they can today to influence or at least try to influence all kinds of things mainly to sow discontent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:55:22] WHITFIELD: All right, thanks to Mike Rogers. Be sure to watch "Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies" tonight 9:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.
We'll get so much straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts after this.
WHITFIELD: Hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, we'll begin this hour with new proposed sanctions against Russia. House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a deal that could send a new bill to the president's desk before the end of the month. It would slap Russia with new sanctions and give Congress veto power over easing sanctions against Moscow.
The House will vote on the sanctions bill on Tuesday --