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General John Kelly Leaving DHS to Become White House Chief of Staff; Trump Could Nominate Jeff Sessions as Secretary of Homeland Security; New Study Linking Football to CTE Has NFL Players Shaken; Terror Plot to Take Down an Airplane Foiled in Australia; Families of U.S. Embassy Employees Told to Leave Venezuela. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 29, 2017 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:10] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Saturday. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Always good to have you with us.

We begin tonight with the question of the center of what has become the biggest reality show on TV. Is Trump cabinet about to get another shake up?

Here's what we know. General John Kelly is leaving his post at secretary of homeland security to take over for Reince Priebus who resigned as White House chief of staff. Now that leaves Kelly's old gig to fill. And tonight, some are wondering whether Trump could nominate embattled attorney general Jeff Sessions to that post. Remember, this is the same man Republicans having Russia to defend from a public shaming by the President over his recusal from the Russia investigation.

Now Republican senator Lindsey Graham is acknowledging this possibility, already pushing back on the idea of Sessions having a new role, tweeting this.

Quote "AG Jeff Sessions has a good ring to it, highly qualified, committed to the rule of law, tough on crime and fiercely independent. DHS secretary Jeff Sessions doesn't sound right -- doesn't feel right. Bad idea."

I have a team of reporters and analysts standing by. Let's begin with CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

And Kaitlan, first on Kelly. He is coming in at a rather tumultuous time. Now, we are getting word from sources he was advising Reince Priebus. What more do you know about this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. That's exactly right, Ana. A source tells CNN Liz Landers (ph) that John Kelly had been giving Reince Priebus advice about his job as chief of staff since day one of the administration and had been helping him out, letting him know changes he should make. Now, this source also tells us about John Kelly's role as chief of staff. He is expected to potentially make some personnel changes. And this person said that John Kelly is looking to change the level of access that a lot of an administration staffers here have to the President. It is a very top heavy White House that John Kelly is entering. It is very stormy and divided. And we know he is going to expect to make some changes because that was a big problem for Reince Priebus with all the people who had access to Donald Trump.

Typically in most White Houses, staffers go to the chief of staff who then determines what information makes it to the President. But not in Donald Trump's White House. It was not like that with Reince Priebus in charge and John Kelly will be looking to change that.

CABRERA: All Right. Kaitlan Collins, thank you for that.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us from our Washington bureau.

Boris, a lot of questions about the President's relationship with Sessions after this past week, which included Republicans even warning Trump not to fire his attorney general. So tell us more about where things stand.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. The President going after Jeff Sessions this week, saying that he is disappointed in the attorney general, even calling him beleaguered just yesterday he was on FOX News. Jeff Sessions was saying that the President's comments are hurtful, but saying that he serves at the pleasure of the President. As you said, Republican senators have come to his defense including Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham. Listen.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I have come to the floor to keep my promise and to offer a word of humble advice to the President. If you are thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it. The presidency isn't a bull, and this country isn't a China shop.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.


SANCHEZ: Now, Sessions has not indicated that he plans to resign, Ana. And the President has yet to indicate that he wants to fire Jeff Sessions outright.

CABRERA: So back to this report that's out there now, exploring the possibility of the President actually moving Jeff Sessions from the DOJ to the department of homeland security instead to replace secretary John Kelly, what can you tell us about this?

SANCHEZ: Yes. It is purely speculation at this point. A bit of a wild theory coming from "Politico." But as you saw, Lindsey Graham responded to it, so at least he is taking it seriously. It is a wild theory, but it is certainly possible legally because Jeff Sessions has been already confirmed by the Senate, the President could install him as the head of the department of homeland security for up to 210 days and then nominate a different attorney general, perhaps one that he is more in favor of -- Ana.

CABRERA: Right. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

Reince Priebus only lasted about six months as White House chief of staff, but his history with Trump goes back much further.

CNN's Randi Kaye explains.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their relationship was rocky from the start. During the Republican primary, Donald Trump insisting the vote was rigged and that Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself because he knew what was going on.

After Trump became the nominee, there was more friction. Trump heard bragging that he could grope women without consent on this leaked "Access Hollywood" tape.

[19:05:08] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Grab them by the (bleep). Do anything.

KAYE: Priebus had heard enough, pleading with the billionaire to drop out of the race. Priebus then abruptly cancelled all of his Sunday morning television appearances. Trump refused to step down. But despite that the two men seemed to find a way to mend fences.

PRIEBUS: Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Donald Trump!

TRUMP: Reince is really a star. And he is the hardest working guy.

KAYE: For months Priebus had the President's back. Like when questions were asked about a potential conflict of interest between President Trump and his businesses.

PRIEBUS: So I can assure you and everyone out there that all of these things will be followed and they will be done properly.

KAYE: Priebus also fending off questions regularly about why the President still hadn't released his tax returns.

PRIEBUS: And President Trump won one of the most historic presidential victories in the history of our country and people are asking me this question are people like you.

KAYE: But Trump's victory didn't end the drama. Soon after taking office, Priebus found himself unable to contain a laundry list of controversies like the immigration ban roll out, the Russia investigation and the failure of the Senate's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Still, Priebus kept up a brave face.

PRIEBUS: I'm not in any trouble. I have a great relationship with the President. We talk all the time. In fact, just before coming on this set he gave me a call.

KAYE: Reince Priebus who was never an outsider and always a Republican Party guy lost an important ally when press secretary Sean Spicer resigned. And now just days later, he too is out of the Trump White House.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: Let's talk more about this incredible White House shake-up coming six months into Trump's presidency.

Joining us CNN politics reporter and editor at-large Chris Cillizza, CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali and CNN contributor and Trump's biographer Michael D'Antonio. He is the author behind the book "the truth about Trump."

Chris, we have heard about the turmoil between staff at the White House now for months. In fact that in one week we lose both Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus. They are both forced out, and that is them specifically. What does it mean for the direction of this White House?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Ana, part of this is a function of how Donald Trump operates. He likes this tension. He likes the combativeness. I do thinks he, in some ways, enjoys that in-fighting because he think he can debate it. But he thinks that this is how the best work gets done. I would argue this past week would suggest that theory is not right, but that's what he believes.

What does it mean to your specific question, what does it mean that Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer are the two who are now out and we now have John Kelly in and Anthony Scaramucci in?

I think what it means is that Donald Trump view this six month experiment of kind of sort of embracing Washington and the Washington political establishment in the form of Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer to effectively a fail. And that what he is going to do now is surround himself with both generals, who he has already got a lot of them around him. He has got more, obviously more influential with John Kelly. But then also more people like Anthony Scaramucci who is a personal friend. Someone who Trump views as an equal, a wealthy hedge fund manager, somebody who worked in Goldman Sachs, someone who is not of Washington, someone who he believes is a good performer on television.

So I think we will get Donald Trump being more of what we believes to be the most Trumpian possible. I would note that he has been pretty Trumpian in the first six months, but I think he believes that there is more -- he needs to embrace more of who he is and trust his gut more than he has and not be slowed by the traditional ways of thinking. These moves clearly will allow him to do that.

CABRERA: It is interesting what the "Washington Post" is reporting, that Reince Priebus was belittled by Trump and writing a specific example saying quote "Trump's demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways to at one point during a meeting in the oval office a fly began fuzzing overhead distracting the President. And as the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect according to someone familiar with this incident."

Michael, does this sound like the Donald Trump you know?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP'S BIOGRAPHER: Well, it really does because he runs things in a way by humiliation. He is always interested in dominance. If he is unhappy with someone, and I don't think he is ever been happy with Reince Priebus, he is going to humiliate him by saying there is a pesky bug in here, I want you to be the guy to go get it.

You know, this is a man who really doesn't want anyone to feel secure. So when Chris was talking about him wanting this tension, I think it's more than tension that he wants. He wants people to be desperate. And the problem is you can never get it right if you are really obsequious as you give him everything he wants, then he is going to call you weak. And that is another thing that he said about Priebus over and over again, that he is weak. He is weak. So how do you get it right?

[19:10:23] CABRERA: That's the big question. Maybe John Kelly is his answer. The "Wall Street Journal" also with this note. President Trump apparently was put off as Priebus refused to return fire on Anthony Scaramucci following that profanity laced interview. It has been said again and again the President likes this chaos. And to your point, Michael, the idea of Priebus being weak in his mind, this obviously would reinforce that.

D'ANTONIO: Well, it would. And I think where General Kelly is concerned, he ought to pay attention to all of this because it's very hard to win in Donald Trump's world, especially if you are at all public. The people that I have noticed who have done well are the ones that hang back. They do the quiet job inside. Or they may be a pit bull as Michael Cohen was for then businessman Donald Trump.

But there isn't very much room for that type of character. There may be one Anthony Scaramucci. I don't think there is going to be two.

CABRERA: It makes it interesting, no doubt.

Tim, Priebus now becomes the sixth person in a major role in the administration to be forced out, to resign. In terms of bigger perspective, looking back at history, is this normal and in times when there has been a shake up like this, if there has been in history, I mean, how has that ended?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it is not unusual for a President to change his chief of staff in the first year. It is not unusual at all. It is the manner in which this was done. By the way, it is not unusual, sadly, for Presidents to act like alpha dogs and to humiliate members of their staff. What makes this so different is it's done publically, that this is the reality show. Lyndon Johnson humiliated members of his staff, but he didn't do it

publically. Presidents generally speaking do not -- well first of all, social media didn't exist until recently. They changed everything. But they didn't play the game that Donald Trump did with Reince Priebus.

Why does it matter? It matters because the White House is supposed to be a professional organization. You want to be able to recruit good people and you want the world to see us, Americans, as professionals. This whole drama around Reince Priebus was absolutely appallingly unprofessional. So that is unprecedented.

CABRERA: Unprofessional, but does it also undermine his ability to be an effective leader?

NAFTALI: Well, to be an effective -- the modern chief of staff, the whole institution, is really only about 40 years old. And the most successful chiefs of staff are both respected by the President, all right, and have core good ethical values. When they are respected by the President, they can actually be a traffic cop. They can say to the President, you really shouldn't allow this end run.

In Washington, everybody wants to do an end run to see the President. You just expect it. A tough, respected chief of staff says no and the President listens. That's the key. If General Kelly has the respect of Donald Trump and can play the adult in the room, you might see this administration become a little more effective.

CABRERA: He might listen to General Kelly.

Chris, I want to get back to the questions now about what happens with Sessions, this question about whether President Trump might actually try to move him to this other role in his administration, perhaps replacing John Kelly at the department of homeland security. Could that be a real possibility?

CILLIZZA: Well, yes. The pieces fit. So, yes. And I think almost anything under the sun is a real possibility with this President. He is the most unconventional candidate, the most unorthodox President we have seen. So I think when we tend to apply the-- oh, no he wouldn't do that rule to Donald Trump, we should stop ourselves. Because he got elected by breaking literally doing the opposite of everything that we thought a presidential candidate could do.

Why does it make some level of sense, Ana? Because Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are in a little bit of a standoff here, a little bit of a game of chicken. Donald Trump has called Jeff Sessions very weak. He has called him beleaguered. Said ha said he and surrogates have said they are disappointed in him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Jeff Sessions has made clear, if Donald Trump wants me gone, he is going to have to be the one to do it. I'm not going to just go gently into that good night. So what this could do is give Donald Trump is somewhat elegant solution in that, OK, we are not firing Jeff Sessions as attorney general, we are moving him over to a place where his background on immigration and border security are a nice fit here and that way we get someone else in as attorney general.

Now, the one problem with all these machination and all these moving of the chess pieces is it is not going to be easy for Donald Trump to get another attorney general confirmed. Anyone he would want I think is going to run into yet short of John Cornyn, the senator who has resisted doing it in the past, is going to run into a major hurdle in the Senate in terms of confirmation. So this stuff is easy to game out on a board. It is harder to do in real life on the political landscape we are currently existing on.

CABRERA: And let's remember that the President has made a point to say he is very unhappy with Jeff Sessions because of the Russia investigation and the fact that Sessions recused himself, Michael. So could you see the President doing this moving of the chairs, so to speak, in order to maybe stop the special counsel investigation?

[19:15:55] D'ANTONIO: Well, I think if he imagines that he can get away with it, he might try it. The thing that Chris said about him pursuing an elegant solution to a problem, in fact, the first time Donald Trump has ever done anything you would call elegant, you know, he is the bull in a China shop. So I would not imagine that he is thinking very carefully about doing something elegant.

And if you look at Tim's oral histories that he has done with so many figures from the Nixon era, you can see where people go array very quickly trying to get rid of people conducting investigations. You know, this is terribly fraught and I think if you were to try this in an attempt to force a successor to somehow get rid of Robert Mueller, he could actually wind up with a person who also has integrity, may not do as he pleases and the crisis will intensify very rapidly.

CABRERA: Michael, you bring up the Nixon administration. And in fact that was the last time there was a general appointed to the chief of staff position. A source close to John Kelly says he plans to bring order to the White House on day one.

Listen to what Kellyanne Conway said about this.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I think general secretary Kelly will bring some strength and discipline and put out without even saying so the victim that loose lips sinks ships. And I think people will think thrice before they try to hurt each other, hurt their colleagues by using the press to do so or even to think that they are helping the President by conveying information that perhaps is not yet ripe for public disclosure or is in negotiation or conversation.


CABRERA: Tim, you mentioned this a little bit earlier about a general taking on this role. Maybe the President would have more respect for John Kelly versus Reince Priebus just because of him being a general, having had the leadership and experience that John Kelly has. But going back to the Nixon years when there was a general at the helm, how did that work out? NAFTALI: Well, general Hage-we are talking about Alexander Hage

Junior. General Hage refused the President's order to destroy the tapes. I mean, he told us at the Nixon library. So that was a big deal. I don't think that Richard Nixon would have been pushed out of office or would have resigned had it not been for the tapes. And the President asked -- I was on a Hage where they would destroy them and Hage said he wouldn't. So that alone I think is the reason to respect some of what he did.

He was a tough customer. But this is a different -- we're not there yet. Here is the issue. And I get back to this business about end runs. Will the family, will Steve Bannon, work through General Kelly? Will General Kelly be allowed to organize the President's schedule? And will General Kelly have some influence on the President's tweeting? I mean, it would be naive to assume the President would stop tweeting, but will he? Those are the issues. If General Kelly can't do that, I don't see him staying very long in this position.

CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, thank you all for joining us. Tim Naftali, Chris Cillizza and Michael D'Antonio, as always, we appreciate it.

Coming up, conservative (INAUDIBLE) and culture telling President Trump if he wants to fire Jeff Sessions, then do it. Quote, "be a man." Is the right turning on Trump?

Plus a two-time super bowl champ sounding the alarm about the risk of brain injury in football. Will it lead big ben to hang it up?

And shock and outrage after a viral video of a shark being dragged behind a speedboat. How the governor of Florida is now taking action.


[19:23:48] CABRERA: Republican lawmakers crying foul from conservative media hosts, now sending President Trump a warning, this pushback, the outrage, whatever you want to call it, all over his attack on attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Take a look at these headlines from the "National Review." The President is treating his attorney general shamefully.

From radio host Mark Levin, Mr. President stop attacking Jeff Sessions.

From the "Druge Report," Republicans on brink of civil war.

And watch this, from FOX News.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: Attacking Jeff Sessions was still a useless, self-destructive act. The first rule in politics as in war, as in life, don't shoot the friendlies.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It is also kind of a little bit discomforting unseemly for Trump to go after such a loyal supporter this way, especially when Sessions made it obvious he is not going to resign.

TUCKER: He is likely the most effective member of the Trump cabinet. In return, the President attacks him in the failing "New York Times." That's not just criticism, it is an insult. It's also a worrisome sign that the President may be forgetting who is on his side.

MARK LEVIN, RADIO HOST: I am concerned. I am very concerned. I'm very concerned that the President of the United States and his staff will make a terrible mistake in pushing attorney general Jeff Sessions out the door.


[19:25:08] CABRERA: Let's discuss with conservative writer of the "Washington Post" Right Turn Blog Jennifer Rubin. Also with us, political commentator Kurt Bardella. He is a former spokesman for "Breitbart News."

Kurt, you wrote an opinion piece for called why Breitbart hasn't gone to war with Sessions who just played mash of above people (ph) rushing to defend Sessions. What is the calculus for Breitbart's move not to do so?

KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESMAN, BREITBART NEWS: Well, I think that what you are seeing is the conflict of interest they really have. And they are trying to maintain their proximity to power.

And you know, I have seen firsthand what is like when Breitbart goes full tilt against somebody whether it was speaker Ryan or past speakers like John Boehner, Eric Tanner. It is a nonstop grind of stories. You are talking 20, 30 stories a day calling on people to apologize, calling on people to have consequences if they don't apologize. If Breitbart were really fully going to go behind Jeff Sessions and take on Donald Trump, they would be calling every Republican member in Congress asking them to condemn what Donald Trump said about Jeff Sessions and writing a story about every single one of those and they are not doing that.

CABRERA: They want the power and they see having influence with the President?

BARDELLA: Well, that and I think you can't underestimate the impact that Steve Bannon has on the editorial direction that Breitbart takes. Remember, when they started going after Jared Kushner, a lot of people assumed that was under the direction in behest of Steve Bannon. When Bannon came under fire from Donald Trump, all of a sudden they went crickets on those attacks. So I think a lot of the time, their calculus is a lot link to Steve Bannon. I mean, there is a reason why Steve Bannon got a direct waiver to try to still have contact with Breitbart.

CABRERA: So put that aside for a second, Jennifer. There is a lot of conservative media that is coming out, speaking out against the President getting behind Sessions. Do you think the President's behavior towards Sessions actually changes now in light of the conservative media outcry?

JENNIFER RUBIN, WRITER, RIGHT TURN BLOG, WASHINGTON POST: We'll see. The hypocrisy is amazing. Of all the things that the President has done, of all the people he smeared, the firing of the FBI director, the attacks on John McCain, this is what gets these people upset. And that's because the tribal instinct has kicked in. He is one of theirs. He is a loyal, anti-immigration, social conservative and they take offense at this. So for them it's all about who is on my team, who is on the other guy's team and now they're in a bit of a quandary because on one hand they have carried the President on their shoulders all the way to the White House. And the other hand, they really do have quite a bit of affection for Jeff Sessions.

I think what is going to happen is not so much that the President is going to listen to this particular group of people, but as usually occurs, he then gets bored and he goes on to pick on somebody else and I think that's going to happen.

You saw him in essence kind of change the conversation on a Friday afternoon by firing Reince Priebus. So that will give him some mileage. And I think you are going to see a series of these distracting comments, a series of these artificial controversies as the President lashes out here, lashes out there.

In the meantime, his agenda is stalled. He is really not producing anything that the conservative movement asked him to, like the repeal of Obamacare. So we just go look from crisis to crisis and controversy to controversy.

CABRERA: Now, there is speculation about who might replace General John Kelly as homeland security secretary. The big name that's been thrown out there tonight that we have seen -- Lindsey Graham comment on is Jeff Sessions, in fact. Kurt, is that realistic?

BARDELLA: Well, sure. I think we live in a world right now where frankly anything can and will likely happen. And Jennifer is right that Trump likes to just move his attention from one person out to another. Pick another fight with somebody else. He just tweeted in the last five minutes, I love reading about all of the geniuses where so instrumental on my elections success. The problem is most don't exist.

CABRERA: Who is he talking about?

BARDELLA: He was talking about Steve Bannon. He is talking about Joshua Green's book who just came out "the Devil's Bargain." And how it gave kind of co-billing to Steve Bannon in the Donald Trump's story. And he is sitting there on a Saturday evening reading this book, reading -- its number one on "The New York Times" best seller and it's driving him crazy that anybody would give someone other than him credit for election win.

CABRERA: Jennifer, where do you think Steve Bannon ends up landing in President Trump's White House given that our reporting says Trump was actually asking about whether Bannon should stay or go in light of mixing up his staff, replacing Reince Priebus. He was apparently told that getting rid of Bannon would hurt him with his base.

RUBIN: Yes. I think it would probably hurt him with the base. The very people who were complaining about the mistreatment of Jeff Sessions wouldn't like it if Steve Bannon were dumped.

Steve Bannon has also been very clever. There was a point in the administration of course where he and the then chief of staff Reince Priebus were feuding publically. And he was able to kind of back off from that, be quiet, go under the radar screen and avoid a straight confrontation with the President and the President's children who are very instrumental. So I don't think he is going to be going anywhere very fast.

And I think a lot depends upon General Kelly. If general Kelly thinks that people are going around him, are being distracting to the President, are creating havoc, he's going to step forward. Apparently he was empowered to really take care of the White House. So I think Steve Bannon is going to be smart about this for a while, probably. He's going to try to get along with General Kelly. If he does that, he'll be fine probably in the short term.

[19:30:30] CABRERA: So in between attacking Jeff Sessions and then getting rid of Reince Priebus, and appointing John Kelly, Trump turned to twitter to unveil a new ban on transgender military service. Top White House aide Sebastian Gorka have this to say. Let's watch.


SEBASTIAN GORKA, WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The military is not a microcosm of civilian society. They are not there to reflect America. They are there to kill people and blow stuff up. They are not there to be socially engineered. We want people who are transgendered to live happy lives. But we want unit cohesion and we want combat effectiveness. And that is why the President is doing this out of the warmth of his consideration for this population.


CABRERA: Kurt, apparently it caught military leaders off guard, including his joint chiefs of staff. Is this transgender ban simply a play to his base?

BARDELLA: Yes. This has nothing to do with military cohesion. This has nothing to do with the costs of having the health care for transgender service members, of which by the way going to Mar-a-Lago every week cost more than it would for the health care for transgender service members. This is all about Trump trying to throw something to the base. There is no plan to actually implement this. There is no directive to DOD. There is no guidance of how this would actually happen. The joint chiefs had no idea this was going to happen. This is social policy by tweet.

And you know, Gorka's comment there are just narrow minded, ignorant and dumb, frankly. And it just shows that again, there is a lack of sophistication, awareness of the military structure. And that they are willing and liable to say and do anything to try and change the story at any point if they think it benefits them. They think that it is better for them if the Democrat apparatus and liberals get all up in arms about LGBTQ issues and it takes away from them focusing on some of the other things are happening which at that point we are in the middle of the healthcare debate.

CABRERA: And yet, Jennifer, we did see Republican lawmakers pushing back about this issue as well, about this ban that the President threw out there.

RUBIN: They really did. And this was a compete miscalculation on the President's part. They did. And people with some military credentials like John McCain and Joni Ernst who are also served honorably for our nation's security, really spoke out very harshly. And Mr. Gorka is a (INAUDIBLE). And he really has no credentials to be in the White House whatsoever.

In fact, the military people are in the process of studying this. They will make a decision. And no one, including the joint chiefs, are talking about kicking people who are already in the military, already serving honorable out. So what he is suggesting would be more disruptive, more offensive, more damaging to military moral and anything that LGBTQ members of military are doing as they honorably serve in places danger around the world.

CABRERA: Jennifer Rubin, Kurt Bardella, thank you both for your thoughts tonight.

BARDELLA: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, a troubling new study about the risk of brain injury in football and why it has one two-time super bowl champ now speaking out.


[19:37:38] CABRERA: If you are a parent, you are not going to like the sound of this. A new study linking football and concussions to a degenerative brain disease has a lot of players now in the NFL shaken.

But Andy Scholes report that includes a two-time super bowl champion.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Ana, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the first big NFL star to come out and say that the new findings regarding CTE will specifically have a role on when he decides to retire. The 35-year-old QB contemplated retirement this past off season before ultimately deciding to return for his 14th season. Roethlisberger telling the "Tribune Review" quote "I want to play catch with my kids. I want to know my kids' names. As much as I want my kids to remember what I did and watch me play the game, I also want to remember them when I'm 70 years old."

Now A recent Boston University study released this week showed that 110 of the 111 former NFL players brained that were examined at the degenerative brain disease CTE. Now, it is important to note that in the study, many of the donated brains came from former players and their families who were worried about CTE while that player was still alive. A CTE is caused by repeated trauma to the head. It can only be diagnosed after death.

Now, Roethlisberger has had multiple concussions in his career. And he said in regards to this new CTE study quote "this shows there is nothing to mess with. If you want to mess with your brain, you can't put a new one in, you can have a brain transplant. If you want to mess with your brain, go ahead. I'm not going to. I love my family and kids." And Roethlisberger added that he is going to be wearing a new helmet this is upcoming season that is scanned specifically to fit snugly on his head.

Now, earlier this week, Ravens offensive line man John Urschel abruptly retired from football at the age of 26. Now Urschel did not cite the new CTE study as the reason for his retirement. But he had written about player safety in the past. But Urschel is actually a math genius. He is pursuing his doctorate at MIT. He is going to be taking classes there this fall. And Urschel has said that objectively he shouldn't play football because of his bright career in mathematics. But he kept playing because he loved the game. But Ana, Urschel apparently deciding that the risks were no longer worth it for him.

CABRERA: Andy Scholes, thank you. Love watching football. Not good to hear about the health impact there.

Let's show you some viral video now. A boat dragging a shark while traveling at a high speed. It is sparking cries of animal cruelty. Could brought a change the law in fact in Florida? Here is the video.

The Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission is now investigating this incident. The state agency tells CNN it is trying to identify the people in the video and where it took place exactly. Florida governor rick Scott called this video incredibly disturbing. He sent a letter to fish and wildlife asking for a full review of state fishing regulation.

Up next a terror plot to take down an airplane currently foiled. We will hear more from Australia's prime minister on this arrest just made. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:44:42] CABRERA: Breaking news out of Australia. The prime minister there says authorities have broken up a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane. Four men arrested Saturday in Sydney. Police currently got word a group is planning an attack, using an improvised device. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just made the announcement during a press conference.


[19:45:01] MALCOLM TURNBULL, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: There has been a major joint counterterrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane. The operation is continuing. At this stage, four people have been arrested and a considerable amount of material has been seized by police.


CABRERA: CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem joins us live from Port Smith, Rhode Island.

Juliette, airline travelers everywhere hear terrorist plot, bring down an airplane, improvised device, understandably a little nervous. Can you put this into some context for us? How big of a deal is this operation?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it is certainly good news. And what we know now is that the disruption was far enough along that the Australians actually seized material. Now, the prime minister had not identify what had that material is. In fact, at the end of the press conference, Turnbull said that the investigation was ongoing. So I would anticipate that there might be more arrests around this particular incident.

But, Ana, you are certainly right. Over the last couple months, the department of homeland security here or in Europe, been growing concerns about ISIS' use of explosive materials and detonation devices on airplanes. And this may be one of the first disruptions that we know of that the Australians were able to stop.

CABRERA: Right. We have been reporting on the travel ban dealing particularly with bigger electronics, from being in carry on previously from other countries, not Australia though. So how big of a problem in general is terror there? Is there something here unique to that area?

KAYYEM: Well, certainly, I mean as a coalition supporter of the wars and certainly because ISIS has said that they will target any coalition members, Australia has certainly seen its fair share of either attempted attacks or ISIS inspired attacks certainly saw something earlier in Jun this summer. The death of two Australian citizens. And it has --

CABRERA: Unfortunately, Juliette, Skype shot froze. We will try to get back with her.

Bracing for the worst as the death toll keeps rising. Another big story making headlines overseas. Families of U.S. embassy employees told to leave Venezuela as tensions there rise ahead of a controversial vote now less than 24 hours away. Stay with us.


[19:51:34] CABRERA: Turning to Venezuela's crisis, the U.S. has ordered family members of government employees at the U.S. embassy in Caracas to leave the city as soon as possible. And Venezuela may be just hours away now from more violence and chaos ahead of a controversial election tomorrow. And election that has the potential to give more power to President Nicolas Maduro. Now, Maduro's regime says has dispatched more than 370,000 troops across the country to secure the vote and has forbidden protests through Tuesday. But that has not stop defying opposition members from the violently clashing with national guards troops in the capital. Let's go to CNN's Paula Newton on the ground in Caracas tonight.

Paula, why is the opposition so fearful of having this vote.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really believe that there are no good options here, just by having the vote, Maduro wins. He has basically putting in a super political body. And that body will have overwhelming powers to do whatever it wants. The only people that are electable right are people that are loyal to the government. So they are very fearful of what will happen the day after.

And you know, we have been covering this tumultuous events here in Venezuela for several years. But I have to say, Ana, what makes this different is the sheer lawlessness. So it's not just the clashes that you see on the streets, it is not just the shortage of food and medicine, it is also paramilitary groups, other government groups that are armed throughout the city. And we have been hearing a lot of clashes. And just a lot of people insecure, hunkering down in their homes and wondering what's going to happen next.

But yes, as you point out, even though the protests right now, the government has deemed them illegal, the opposition is calling on tens of thousands of people to go out into the streets anyway, and it will be very interesting to see if that comes down to a confrontation -- Ana.

CABRERA: And we are hearing the words break up civil war, does seems like this situation is escalating or spiraling out of control what influence could the Trump administration perhaps have in terms of helping the situation there in Venezuela?

NEWTON: Yes. It's a very interesting question, especially because the Trump administration has shown some interest in it. They did very clear. If Maduro holds this vote, the White House says look, we are going to take strong and swift economic action? What is that mean? Well, Venezuela sells more than half of its oil to the United States. The United States starts banning those shipments. It could hurt Americans in terms of buying gasoline, it could. The price will go up. But it will also cripple this economy even further, thereby putting even more pressure on the government.

But, Ana, as you have been talking about for, you know, several hours now, the White House has a very large agenda on its plate and no one is quite sure exactly what the next step will be.

CABRERA: Paula Newton, thank you for that report. Do stay safe my friend.

Quick break quick break. We will be right back.


[19:58:19] CABRERA: Coming up on tomorrow's brand new episode of the CNN original series "the History of Comedy," we take a look at the sometimes dark side of comedic genius.


ELAYNE BOOSLER, COMEDIAN: I would say Kaufman was the one I ever saw truly work without a net.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people want me to stay? How many people don't want me to stay? Thank you very much. And I'm sorry I brought you all down at this party.

JUDD APATOW, WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: All his intentions were different than any other comedian. He was trying to get a reaction and it really was art more than straight standup comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm going to get off. You really -- you ruined everything.

Thank you.


CABRERA: What was that? Tune in for the "History of Comedy" tomorrow 10:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

You are live in the NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Glad you are with me.

We began with a White House struggling to get back on track after a major staffing overhaul. Six people gone in less than six months. Is this reshuffling over?

Here is what we know. General John Kelly, the current secretary of homeland security moves into the White House Monday to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff.