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Washington Post: Sessions Discussed Campaign With Russian; Minneapolis Police Chief Resigns After 911 Shooting; Video Shows Teens Taunting Man As He Drowned; Coalition Airstrike Kills 16 Afghan Police; Tech Company Surefly Unveils Personal Drone Helicopter. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 22, 2017 - 08:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kislyak is reporting conversations that he is said to have had with now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If these reports are corroborated and they can be corroborated by the intelligence community, they are very damaging to Jeff Sessions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat of the subpoena, the threat of the public hearing was enough to kind of bring Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and their lawyers, to the table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to thank personally Sean Spicer, not only on behalf of myself, the president, the administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think it was in the best interest of our Communications Department, of our press organization to not have too many cooks in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the team -- let me rephrase that, I love the team. I think he's got some of the best political instincts in the world and perhaps in history.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: You know, we are always grateful to see you on Saturday and Sunday. Thank you so much for being here. Just days after President Trump aired his frustrations about his Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing some new scrutiny over Russia this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And this morning, the president is slamming "The Washington Post" over new reports that cites leaked U.S. intelligence intercepts. They've say that Russia's ambassador told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 race.

But Sessions has repeatedly said that he never discussed campaign- related issues with Russian officials.


ADAM ENTOUS, REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": It's important for people to keep in mind, this, again, is Kislyak's version of events. Sessions, as you just showed very clearly, has sort of changed his accounts as we've gone through the months, from basically saying there were no meetings initially, to the meetings weren't about the campaign, to the meetings were not about collusion or coordination.

So, you know, again, either he doesn't recall, clearly, what they are, and maybe shouldn't have said what he said initially, or he is not telling us the full account.


PAUL: Also this morning, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, you see him there on the left, revealing more about why he resigned from his post just minutes after the president named a new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci there on the right, a financier and Trump loyalist, who is becoming the newest White House hire.

Sources say Spicer was adamantly opposed to the move but last night, he said he just wanted to give the new team a clean slate.


SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president obviously wanted to add to the team more than anything. I just think that it was in the best interests of our Communications Department, of our press organization, to not have too many cooks in the kitchen.


BLACKWELL: We've got our team of correspondents covering it all for you this morning. Jeremy Diamond is live in the White House on this big shakeup there. Boris Sanchez is aboard the "USS Gerald Ford" in Norfolk, Virginia where the president will be speaking this morning.

But first let's go to Laura Jarrett in Washington, with more on "The Washington Post" report. Laura, this could be more than just inconvenient political problems for the president. The optics here, could there also be some legal liability?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, certainly, this is another development, another piece of the puzzle, Victor. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has really been dogged by this news since March that he failed to disclose contacts with Russian officials.

But this time, "The Washington Post" reports that U.S. spy agencies picked up on recordings of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, telling his superiors in Moscow, that he discussed with Sessions Trump's position on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S./Russia relations in the Trump administration back during the presidential so last year. This, of course, completely contrary to the attorney general's version of events and he has denied it. 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 holy, uncorroborated intelligence intercept.

That the "Washington Post" has not seen and that has not been provided to me." But she goes on to say, "The attorney general stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he specifically addressed this.

And said, that, quote, "He never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election."

[08:05:03] Nevertheless, this development just comes on the heels of a really rocky week for Attorney General 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 entire Russia investigation, he wouldn't have hired him in the first place, take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (voice-over): Sessions should never have recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.


JARRETT: And the president was up bright and early tweeting this morning about "The Washington Post" story saying, "An intelligence leak from the Amazon "Washington Post." This time against A.G. Jeff Sessions, these illegal leaks like Comey's must stop -- Victor, Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, still a lot of questions there. Laura Jarrett, of course, this morning. Laura, thank you.

Let's go now to the White House. Jeremy Diamond there live with more on Sean Spicer and what he's saying about his abrupt departure. Jeremy, good morning.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, guys. Well, the White House is still very much recovering from the shock waves that reverberated yesterday through the White House.

Yesterday, Sean Spicer resigned as press secretary after the president appointed Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier and longtime Trump supporter and trusted adviser, was appointed communications director.

Spicer essentially resigned in protest because of Scaramucci's appointment, at least that's what we've been by multiple administration officials. The White House, however, is trying to play this off as is Sean Spicer. Take a look at what he had to say last night.


SPICER: I went into the president after we had the discussion earlier with Anthony and Sarah about what the president's desires were. And I said, sir, I've had the opportunity to think about this.

I think it's the best interest of this administration and your presidency that I give these two individuals the opportunity to operate without me in the way. So that they have a fresh start. That I'm not lurking over them.

And I think that's in the best interest of the organization, of this administration and of his presidency.


DIAMOND: That is not exactly the rosy picture that Sean Spicer painted, that is not what we're hearing from sources inside the White House, who say that Scaramucci's pick was very controversial among the president's top advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president's son-in-law and daughter both supported Scaramucci's pick.

However, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, both of them were apparently opposed to the pick, according to sources that we've talked to.

So clearly the White House here still trying to piece itself back together and figure out the way forward now with Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. We saw him, though, yesterday in the briefing room alongside Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who have been promoted to the role of press secretary in the wake of Sean Spicer's resignation.

Both of them say that they will work together to kind of portray the administration's message going forward. But clearly, a lot of controversy still remain with the administration, not the least of which, of course, is Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The news that we've learned from "The Washington Post" about his alleged conversations with Sergey Kislyak. So, all of that clearly something that this new communications team is going to have to handle going forward.

BLACKWELL: And one wonders if the new communications director is looped in on the president's statements being tweeted out over the last hour this morning. We'll talk about those, Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks so much.

PAUL: With all of this news coming out of the White House over the last 24 hours, the president is making the military his focus today. This morning, he'll be heading to Virginia to give remarks at the commissioning of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is live from Norfolk, Virginia. So, what do we expect to hear from the president as we have had no less than seven tweets already this morning in the last two hours.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. As we mentioned last hour, whenever there are cameras around and apparently when they're not around, the president often will go off the cuff and say things you don't expect him to say.

Just in the past hour or so, he tweeted out several times. I'm going to read three of them to you very quickly. One of them writing, quote, "While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us. Fake news."

He then went on to tweet, so many people are asking why isn't the AG or special counsel looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes, 33,000 e-mails deleted." And then he went on to tweet, quote, "What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia including Podesta company, uranium deal, Russian reset. Big dollar speeches, et cetera."

To be fair, the president did tweet about the "USS Gerald Ford" where he is going to be here in just a few hours to commission what in his words is the greatest warship in American history.

It is an impressive feat not only of military might, but also of engineering. That one single tweet compared to several other tweets shows you where the president's focus is, specifically when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

[08:10:07] It's been more than eight months since the president defeated her in the general election and yet, she is a consistent target of his. Also railing against the media and leaks.

Notice that he doesn't specifically deny that "Washington Post" reporting that some of Jeff Sessions' testimony before Congress doesn't really line up with what the intelligence community knows about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

So, it just goes to show that the message from the president hasn't really changed despite the changes in the White House. We saw the new attorney for the White House Council, Ty Cobb getting installed last week.

Now Anthony Scaramucci replacing Sean Spicer as the head of the Communications Department for the White House. Despite that, we've not seen any changes in the discipline of the president when it comes to keeping the message on focus. This is after all, made in America week. Back to you.

PAUL: All righty, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much. Good to see you this morning.

Now, staying out of the spotlight at least for the time being, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, now will speak with the Senate panel, but they'll do so behind closed doors. Why one senator says, you know what, subpoenas are still on the table here. BLACKWELL: And days after a woman who called 911 for help in Minneapolis was killed, the city's police chief is stepping down, but protesters say another top official needs to go, too.

PAUL: Also, people were outraged when video surfaced showing a group of Florida teenagers taunting and laughing at a man who was drowning. Now, police say, they may be ready to charge this group.



PAUL: Breaking news overnight, a coalition air strike is being blamed for the deaths of 16 police officers in Afghanistan this morning. This is an attack that happened in Helmand Province overnight.

A government spokesman said U.S. supported forces were targeting militants in that area. The friendly Afghan forces were gathered in a compound, though, when that airstrike hit.

BLACKWELL: Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now will speak with a Senate panel but behind closed doors. They were likely be discussing that secret campaign meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. The ranking member of the Judiciary Committee says that we will get answers and subpoenas for a public hearing are still on the table.

PAUL: And pardoning power is on President Trump's mind this morning. Just moments ago, he said this, "While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crimes so far is leaks against us, fake news."

This comes days after the "Washington Post" reported President Trump is trying to understand the limits of his power as president to pardon. They've raised the possibility of the president pardoning advisers and family members and even himself.

It's relevant in light of the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling, of course, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

So Yodit Tewolde, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor is with us now. I want to read to you an e-mail from John Dowd who tried to explain the power of the pardons here, actually the parameters with which the Russian investigation can go.

He says, "Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the special counsel are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly are well beyond any statute of limitation imposed by the U.S. code."

Basically saying if this investigation would bleed into the president's finances or his business relationships that could be going too far. But how expansive are the parameters that the special counsel has, or is empowered to penetrate? YODIT TEWOLDE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I mean, you know what, with this whole, you know, looking into Paul Manafort's finances and his tax records, that opens the door up for the president as well.

And right now, he is given the power as special counsel to look into what he needs to get answers and that includes Donald Trump's finances. So, he can't say you know what, you can look into everybody else's, but you can't look into mine. He is the president of the United States. His power to do so is expansive, for sure.

PAUL: OK, does the president, though, a lot of people are wondering, does he have the power to pardon himself? He doesn't, does he?

TEWOLDE: So, the constitution gives the president the power to pardon people for federal crimes, and generally, the courts have upheld those pardons. However, my interpretation of the power to pardon is that you give that to others.

So, there's a grantor, the president, and then you have the recipient, other people. Not yourself. However, there is a gray area with regards to whether a president could pardon himself.

So technically, I guess, in theory, he could pardon himself, but then he would have to wait and see what the court would say, but with this whole talk of pardons in the first place that speaks to a guilty conscious.

Because if you think about it, if you want to pardon yourself, you are basically saying that you've a committed a crime that you want to be pardoned for. So that is an issue that people need to think about, why is he even talking about pardoning himself. What are you doing? What have you done?

PAUL: In all fairness, we don't know specifically what prompted the conversations about the pardoning, just to add some clarity to that.

Also, I wanted to get into another tweet that the president tweeted out this morning saying, "So many people are asking why isn't the AG or special council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes 33,000 e-mails deleted."

They did look at it, but are there still questions there, Yodit, to be answered?

TEWOLDE: There may be questions there, but that has been looked at and put to rest from what we know, and that's not to say that that can't be revisited. Right now, we're looking at you, M. President, because we found out about your inner circle having a meeting that wasn't ever disclosed with Russian officials.

[08:20:05] So that is the question right now. The intelligence community, they've already said that the Russians did interfere with our 2016 election. Something that the president still denies to this day.

But, right now, we're looking at you, and he does what he does best and that is deflect, and that is what he's doing with these tweets right now. So, the heat is being turned up. This is what he does best.

He goes to his Twitter account and starts, you know, tweeting all these crazy things so that we can deflect from the actual issue or so he could deflect from the actual issue and that is him.

PAUL: Well, Yodit, we know that Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. are going to -- they were able to negotiate a meeting with a Senate group, not in front of cameras, but behind closed doors. What is the probability that we'll ever hear what comes of that?

Well, I mean, it's already been confirmed that, yes, they have been allowed to speak with committee members and staff members behind closed doors, but they will be in a public hearing at some point.

And so the committee members are reserving their right to subpoena because Congress has the right to investigate, and one investigative tool is subpoena power. So if they need to compel their appearance for whatever reason that they think that they won't show up at a later date for a public hearing then they can subpoena and compel them to appear so that they can testify.

And You know, Trump Jr., he doesn't have security clearance. So he could testify in public if they wanted him to, but there would be no issue there. So, I think this is just a way to get something from them, to see if they can actually get answers from them without having to take that route.

But if they don't get the answers that they need in this private meeting then they can very well use that subpoena powers on these individuals.

PAUL: All righty, Yodit Tewolde, always grateful to see you. Thank you.

TEWOLDE: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: The list of challenges for this White House continues to grow. Can the communications team shake-up really make a difference? We'll talk to a former member of President Trump's transition team and current Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

PAUL: Also, nearly a week after a Minneapolis police officer fatally shot a woman who called 911 for help. Investigators are still trying to decipher what happened here. Now they hope a passing bicyclist may offer clues that the officer himself is not sharing.

BLACKWELL: And tonight, tune in for a CNN special report, "Declassified." Deep cover Russian sleeper agents infiltrate the U.S. and begin living seemingly normal American lives. To neutralize this threat, the FBI begins one of the largest counterintelligence investigations in history. Here's part of the episode.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Note that we show in a later message and we always suspected this would be that Russian intelligence services would be monitoring that area to see if they could spot any FBI.

And we saw, in a message, that kudos to Richard Murphy, that we were looking and we didn't see anything, which we all high-fived ourselves because they didn't spot us.

There's an old phrase about current espionage. You go into that funhouse hall of mirrors, and all of a sudden, you've got one side watching us. We're watching them watch us, and no one's trying to get caught.


BLACKWELL: "Declassified" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.



PAUL: It is always good to have you unfold with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

The president already up. Fighting back at the latest Russia reporting. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Russia's ambassador told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign- related matters with Jeff Sessions, now, the attorney general, during the 2016 election race.

The president tweeting this morning calling for the illegal leaks to stop. You see the tweet here.

PAUL: Meanwhile, there's a shake-up in the White House communications staff as Sean Spicer is out, there on the left, and on the right, Wall Street financier, Anthony Scaramucci, is in.

Spicer said the president wanted him to stay, but he chose to leave. He was asked on Fox News how he felt about being the bud of those SNL jokes and the focal point of so many contentious briefings.


SPICER: The questions and the issues that are of concern to everyday Americans are not in nearly what they are for the folks, the "pack mentality" that exist in the briefing room here at the White House.

There are a couple parts of it that were funny. There were a lot of it that was over the line. It wasn't funny, it was stupid or silly or malicious. But there are some skits that I'd seen on late-night television that I had to crack up at.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: Now let's talk about the latest headlines with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, the former vice chair of the Trump transition team. Congresswoman, good to have you back on the show.


BLACKWELL: So let's start with this reporting from the "Washington Post." We talked about what "The Post" is reporting just a few seconds ago. We had a White House ethics lawyer on the show, Richard Painter, just about an hour ago, who says that there is a difference, an important difference from what Mr. Sessions said in March when he said that he had no communications with operatives or intermediaries from Russia about the Trump campaign.

And what we're hearing from the DOJ spokesperson overnight saying that there were no communications about interference in the campaign. Painter says that they're now narrowing the scope to give the attorney general an out. What do you make of that?

BLACKBURN: Well, I think that Jeff Sessions is a good solid man and he probably is most likely telling the truth. I would have the tendency to believe --

BLACKWELL: But which time?

BLACKBURN: -- to believe Jeff Sessions a lot -- well, hang on here a second. I believe Jeff Sessions much faster than I would believe a Russian --

BLACKWELL: All right, so we unfortunately lost that shot. Hopefully, we can get Representative Marsha Blackburn back. We can re-establish that shot. We were getting to a lot of the president's statements this morning. So, we'll take a quick break. Hopefully, we can re- establish. And we'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: Still working to get Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn back up. But first, nearly a week after a Minneapolis' police officer shot and killed a woman who called 9-1-1 for help. The city's police chief is stepping down.

PAUL: Yes, but there are a lot of people who very vehemently say that is just not enough for them. Protesters jeered as Mayor Betsy Hodges tried to announce the chief's replacement at a press conference last night. Take a look at what was going on there. Ryan Young was there; joins us now from Minneapolis with more. Ryan, help us understand what was going on there.

[08:35:01] RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were standing right in the middle of this. The mayor was getting ready to do her news conference about the fact that the chief had decided to resign after she asked that -- for the chief's resignation. And then all of a sudden, a protest, as we could hear them down stairs and outside. Then all of a sudden, we can hear the sound of them getting closer, and closer, and closer. Somehow, they made it into city hall. They went inside this room. You could hear the sound. You could hear the confrontation. The mayor had to stop her news conference. She had to stop talking, and then, the protesters took over. Listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want you guys on Minneapolis anymore. We're asking that you take your staff with you. We don't want you to point anybody anymore. Your leadership has been very ineffective and if you don't remove yourself, we're going to put somebody in place to remove you. We do not want you as the mayor -- ever again.


YOUNG: There's been a real impact here. I can tell you, just the last few days, Justine Ruszczyk, getting killed by that police officer. A lot of people asking questions: how could someone dial 9- 1-1 go outside to meet the police officers and then get shot? She was in her pajamas. That's been the big question. In fact, we go into a rally just the night before, where people from two different communities pretty much joined forces as they marched down the street asking questions about how the next few months are going to go because they wanted more details about this investigation.

What we do know is the Police Union has also called for the mayor to step down. They don't believe she's been effective as the leader. The assistant chief will now become the chief. A police officer here in the city, they say they will usher in new change when it comes to the system and how police then goes for it. But I can tell you, this shooting of Justine Ruszczyk has sent shockwave not only to this community but the Australian community that's been watching this very closely. Everyone wants to know how did that officer fire across his partner, hitting this woman in her pajamas just five houses down from her house.

PAUL: My goodness. Ryan Young, thank you for bringing us the latest there.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's take you to Florida now, where police there want charges filed against a group of teenagers who stood by and laughed as a man drowned in front of them.

PAUL: These are five young men, who shot this video -- you're looking at -- and you can see there in the pond, that man there, died. He drowned. And you could hear them in the background laughing and taunting him. People were outraged that authorities initially said there was nothing they could charge these five with. But now, Cocoa Chief of Police wants the teens charged with not reporting a death to the medical examiner. Here's Nick Valencia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the water, you going to die!

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A blatant disregard for human life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to help your (BLEEP).

VALENCIA: A group of Florida teens taunts a drowning man while filming his final moments from afar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is going to help you, you dumb (BLEEP). You shouldn't have got in there.

VALENCIA: In the two-minute-long video clip, the five teen boys between the ages of 14 and 16 can be heard laughing as a man struggles to stay afloat in a pond in Cocoa, Florida. Rather than call for help, the teens recorded the incident on a cell phone, chuckling while they watch the man die. They say this when the man goes under water and doesn't resurface.



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 the Cocoa Police and the State Attorney's office say they are frustrated that no one can be held accountable for 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 the 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 fiance 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 SCOTT, SISTER OF THE VICTIM: I feel like something should be done.

VALENCIA: The victim's sister posted a video of the drowning on Facebook. In a Facebook live post, she questioned the teens' humanity.

SCOTT: They just sit there and watch somebody die before their eyes, imagine what they're going to do when they get older?

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN Atlanta.


BLACKWELL: All right. Nick, thank you very much. We've got Congressman Marsha Blackburn back on the phone line with us. We apologize for shot dropping out, Congressman, are you with us?

BLACKBURN: I am with you. Thank you so much. BLACKBURN: OK. So, were discussing the Washington Post reporting

that the Russian Ambassador told his superiors in Moscow that he had two conversations about campaign-related matters with now Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the campaign. I'd asked you about the comment from former White House Ethics Lawyer, Richard Painter, who says that the difference between what Sessions said in March that he had no conversations with Russians about the campaign, and what a DOJ spokesperson said last night about his not having any conversations about interference in the campaign narrows the scope and gives the A.G. an out. And you were answering that question, please continue.

[08:40:19] BLACKBURN: And I have to tell you, on this, I'm going to stay with Jeff Sessions and believe him before I believe a Russian operative. And I think that we are well served to stay with Jeff Sessions on this if you will. When you look at saying it's what a Russian operative said or it is what our Attorney General, who was confirmed too by the Senate, has served in the U.S. Senate, what he had to say.

So, I know that there are other people that are weighing in. I know that they are those that want to pile on and say this is the trouble of the day. But I have to tell you, working in my district and talking to people that are -- whether they are supportive of Mr. Trump through the campaign, or supported Ms. Clinton through the campaign, their comments are to me are Marsha, we want to see everybody work together. We want to focus to be on jobs.

BLACKWELL: Congresswoman, let me ask you about -- you said that you're going to stay with the A.G. and you believe Jeff Sessions. My question, and I was trying to ask you that when we had the shot up is you believe Jeff Sessions, which time? Do you believe him in January when he said no conversations with Russians or do you believe him in March when he said he had no conversations with Russians about the campaign? Or do you believe him now when he says that there were no conversations with Russians about interference in the campaign? Those are three very distinctly different responses to the question.

BLACKBURN: Jeff Sessions is someone who is known for telling the truth. And I am certain that he has told the truth. I would have every confidence that he has told the truth. And that he will continue, as will, those that are investigating what happened with Russia. And quite frankly, I have to tell you, as I've told you all before, I'm really pleased that finally our Democrat colleagues and many in D.C. are beginning to see Russia as a problem. I've known Russia was a problem for decades. I think many people in this country have.

BLACKWELL: All right. Representative, let me -- I know it's difficult when, you know, you're on the phone. I just want to get in because we don't have much time left. I want to talk about health care because that vote will be coming up in the Senate this week. The president just tweeted out this morning: "The Republicans Senators must step up to the plate. And after seven years, vote to repeal and place next tax reform and infrastructure. Win!"

The president has also said that if they can't do that, they should just vote for a straight repeal. Should the Senate consider a straight repeal, in the context of the Congressional Budget Office, finding that premiums would double over the next decade? And 32 million more Americans would lose coverage. That's from the CBO. Should they consider it?

BLACKBURN: The CBO also estimated the sale would be about 20 million people in the affordable care marketplace and we've got nine million. Only two million of those individuals are paying a premium. So, if we look at this, we have to rule out the CBO numbers are off. Asking for a total of those that opted out, the Affordable Care Act offering is about 19 million people.

BLACKWELL: But should they vote for just a straight repeal?

BLACKBURN: If they can pass a straight repeal, and set a date certain in the future, and give Congress a deadline so that they're working on a deadline, the goal is to make certain we move towards patient- centered health care so that all Americans are going to have access to affordable health care. And that's what told to the city.

BLACKWELL: All right. Representative Blackburn, thank you so much for jumping back on the phone with us, I know you have a busy Saturday morning. We appreciate your input. Thanks so much for being with us. All right, Christi.

PAUL: A U.S.-led air strike kills 16 Afghan Police Officers overnight. What caused this friendly fire incident is one of the questions being asked right now.

[08:45:34] Plus, President Trump leaves soon. He's going to commission the Navy's newest ship. Take a look at this. How it's making the job easier for our sailors?


BLACKWELL: A U.S.-supported coalition air strike is being blamed for the deaths of 16 police officers in Afghanistan.

PAUL: This attack happened in Helmand Providence yesterday. A government spokesman said the U.S.-supported forces were targeting militants in that area. The friendly Afghan forces were gathered in a compound, though, when that air strike hit. Let's bring in CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst and former State Department Spokesperson, Retired Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby. Admiral, thank you so much for being with us. First of all, of course, how does this happen and what is the consequence of the relationship between U.S. and Afghanistan?

RADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST, U.S. NAVY (RET.) AND FORMER SPOKESPERSON OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, how it happens, I think, they're going to investigate very carefully. When you're supporting ground forces from the air, there's always that risk and it's something that the U.S. military, obviously, takes very seriously. We're more precise than any other air force in the world when it comes to this kind of air-to-ground support. But sadly in war, there are mistakes. So, they're going to investigate this; they'll figure it out. And I'm sure what they do, they'll learn those lessons, they'll be publicly transparent about what they learned and they'll apply those lessons to future operations.

As for the relationship, I really don't think that this will have a major impact negatively on the relationship between the coalition and Afghan National Security Forces. Obviously, it's going to be a matter of concern for everybody. And our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to all of those affected by this. But the mission is too important and too critical going forward for there to be, in my view, any long-term strategic, negative impact as a result.

PAUL: All right. I want to bring attention to what the president is going to be doing in a couple hours. He is attending the commissioning ceremony for the Navy's newest aircraft carrier this morning. This is a being deal. Look at the ship

[08:50:38] KIRBY: It is, indeed.


PAUL: Help us understand how this will drive what happens with the navy, with the sailors, and how it will make their life possibly a little bit easier on a ship.

KIRBY: Well, so first of all, anytime you bring a new ship into the navy, it's a big deal. And you don't get to do that with aircraft carriers very often because it takes so long to build. We don't have that many of them. So, this is, as you said, an even bigger deal when you have a brand new aircraft carrier. And this aircraft carrier, while it's about the same length and the same width, you know, it kind of looks the same as the Nimitz. It really is a leap ahead in technology and automation.

This ship will be able to do things that no other aircraft carrier in history has ever been able to do. For instance, the electromagnetic launch system will allow much greater fidelity in determining terminal launch speeds and more flexibility in launching all kind different aircraft in the future than we could ever do with the Nimitz class carriers. It's got an advanced resting gear system, a much greater electrical generation capability. And it also will be, because you can see the island of the ship is moved a little bit farther out and it's smaller than what we have on Nimitz class carries, it'll allow for the navy to have that much more aircraft activity on the deck, and be able to launch more aircraft in a more efficient way.

Not to mention the fact that there'll be lots better quality of life and services for the sailors on board, such as gyms and eating facilities. Critically, though, Christi, this ship will require when you have the aircraft on board a total about 1,000 fewer sailors than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. So, that's 1,000 sailors now that can be doing other missions for the navy. And the sailors that will be board will be able to do their jobs even better because of the automation and technology.

PAUL: All right. Rear Admiral John Kirby, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We appreciate it. Good morning. KIRBY: You bet.

BLACKWELL: We just saw a marine one fly behind the Rear Admiral there. And he said it here, the Joint Base Andrews; this is a live look at Air Force One. President Trump will be boarding the plane and headed to Norfolk, Virginia, for the commissioning of the USS Gerald Ford. That aircraft carrier that Christi and Admiral Kirby were just discussing. The president will be speaking later today. And we'll bring that to you. Quick break, we'll be back.


[08:57:16] PAUL: It is the closest thing to a flying car. Yes, an American tech company revealed a drone-like helicopter that can carry us, people. It's still in a concept stage, but it's estimated to set you back about $200,000. But for a personal helicopter that helps you avoid traffic, not too shabby, maybe. CNN Money Innovate takes a look.


TEXT: This drone-like octocopter wants to carry humans.

JON OSTROWER, CNN AVIATION EDITOR: So, you're designing a quad copter? Is that the right --


OSTROWER: Octocopter.

BURNS: That a farmer, or an emergency responder, or even a commuter might use. People have been dreaming out of lifting out of their yard or out of traffic, and going above traffic and go to their destination. We've been dreaming that for about a hundred years, right?

TEXT: The Surefly octocopter is a concept aircraft and has never flown before.

OSTROWER: What's your pitch to people thinking, this is not an imaginary project?

BURNS: Well, if you squint just right, this looks like a drone. Everybody realizes drones are pretty well-advanced these days, right? If we were doing this 10 years ago, and nobody saw a drone fly, it's probably more difficult. Well, if you can fly a drone, you can fly this. There's a button that says up and down, and there's a joystick that says, you know, go forward or steer.

OSTROWER: Is this to be flown on its own? Or is someone going to be at the controls?

BURNS: Yes. So, the first version is going to be piloted, right? We're building it to be autonomous, but we're working with the FAA to get it certified. OSTROWER: So, to actually get this thing up in the air, I mean,

obviously you're going to have a gas bill, you're going to have an electric bill, what about an insurance bill? I mean, how are the insurance companies going to look at this?

BURNS: For the FAA, they'll ask why. We're probably going to have to prove that it's safer than driving a car.

OSTROWER: And how do you prove that? How is -- like how do you -- what is your flight test going to look like?

BURNS: Well, there's durability test, and they have their ways of figuring it out. You know, you shake it, rattle it, roll it, and you get a good feel for it. The design goal was: would we put our 16- year-old in this and fly them to high school? It has a gasoline generator. If that should fail, you have five minutes of lithium batteries up in the prop arms; gets you five minutes to get down. And even if all that fails, we have a ballistic parachute right in the middle.

OSTROWER: And how soon do you think you're going to put your kids in this?

BURNS: Good question. As soon as the FAA says go.


BLACKWELL: All right. Live look here at Joint Base Andrews where Marine One is landing. And the president will soon be boarding Air Force One headed to Norfolk, Virginia.

PAUL: The USS Gerald Ford is going to be commissioned. And this is a really impressive feat, as we heard from Admiral Kirby there. It's really going to help the sailors if they are on board, and it'd be interesting to hear what the president has to say as he's been tweeting so much this morning.

BLACKWELL: He has ten tweets in the last hour. So, he'll speak in the 10:0o hour; we'll bring that to you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

[09:00:00] PAUL: Don't go anywhere, "SMERCONISH" starts for you now.